Sir Brian Souter, Jim McColl and Tony Banks are listed as contributors to a report entitled Scotland Means Business, commissioned by property company boss Dan Macdonald. The paper is published today to launch a wider project by Macdonald dubbed N-56 after the latitude on which Scotland sits. It has been compiled by a team of economists and aims to tap into the expertise of Scotland’s business community to give direction and advice to governments when planning for Scotland’s economic future, whatever the outcome of the independence referendum.
Macdonald said: “Whilst governments create the backdrop for economic growth, it’s business that actually delivers and there needs to be a stronger link between those groups. This is where N-56 comes in, as the link between those who want to see Scotland’s economy achieve its full potential and those who have the power to implement change. N-56 can also become the innovator, challenging the perceived wisdom that what we currently do is enough.”
He said the nature of democracy meant “every government has a short-term economic plan and that inevitably produces short-term results. We need longevity around our strategic economic plan that overcomes short term governmental cycles. We need to get away from small incremental change, mould and streamline a national plan that’s geared to today’s unprecedented speed of global economic change. That means demolishing the ivory towers and steel silos that hinder progress and replacing them with a collaborative culture. That is what N-56 is setting out to achieve.”
Macdonald, a known business supporter of the Yes campaign for Scottish independence, has stressed that N-56 is not linked to the constitutional debate and last weekend told Scotland on Sunday that he is moving on from publicly speaking about the benefits of independence and looking at what happens after the referendum.
The reports urge Scotland to emulate best practice in Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore, which are among the “small advanced economies” studied by the researchers and which are said to have enjoyed higher historical growth.
Some contributors wished to remain anonymous, but others were happy to have their name listed, including Liz Cameron of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, entrepreneur John Innes and butcher Simon Howie. Giles Hamilton, chief executive of AccuNostics, wrote a foreword to the report, alongside Macdonald. Hamilton said his experience working in international technology companies had taught him that businesses must be willing to learn best practices from around the world. But he added the answers were not simple.
“Like any strong business proposition, Scotland has enormous potential to do better, but we must openly and honestly address core challenges, including the need to improve social outcomes and reduce inequality,” he said.
“The key to success however, is to harness a new ethos of collaboration, between business leaders, policymakers and the rest of society, to ensure that the economic and social potential of Scotland is unlocked to the full.”
He called on other business leaders to read the report and consider getting involved with the N-56 project.