Charan Gill warns on impact of independence vote

Glasgow based entrepreneur Charan Gill. Picture: Robert Perry
Glasgow based entrepreneur Charan Gill. Picture: Robert Perry
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ONE of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs, Charan Gill, has waded into the independence debate by warning that a vote either way will not change a “failing” political system.

Gill, who founded the Harlequin Restaurants chain, said although he was undecided on which way to vote, he was sceptical about politicians on either side delivering on their promises.

He also called for “leadership and vision” in the remaining months of the independence referendum debate.

“One thing has to be understood about the independence referendum is that when we vote for ‘independence’, we are voting for an independent Scotland, an independent country, and this does not necessarily mean personal independence. Change doesn’t guarantee a better way,” said Gill, a former shipbuilder who build Harlequin Leisure Group in Glasgow into Europe’s largest chain of Indian restaurants before selling it in a multi-million pound deal in 2005.

“We will continue to be governed by the same politicians within the same political system; a system that has failed to address and ignored the social issues of its majority for hundreds of years and protected the interests of the few.

Gill, right, said he believed the political system to be corrupt and biased, “not just in Britain, but across the ‘free world’”. He said “personal independence, freedom and equality” cannot be achieved by people with the current political mindset. “They may talk a new language, but the mould that made them is the same. Their thinking is restricted.”

Gill said although answers were being provided in debates on independence, “political promises are broken at a whim and policies written on white papers tend to dissolve like words written with invisible ink”.

He added: “Scotland has an opportunity that few countries are fortunate to have; an opportunity to bring about real change, to lay foundations so strong that our future generations will be able to build upon them without fear of collapse.

“Are our leaders able enough? Do I believe they have the vision? Those are the only questions I need answers to. Give me something new to believe in Mr Salmond – please.”

Gill was awarded the MBE for services to the food and catering industry and in 2004 was named Entrepreneur of the Year at the UK’s Asian Business awards.

Following the sale of his restaurant empire, Gill wrote his autobiography, Tikka Look at me Now, and has appeared in the hit Channel 4 TV series The Secret Millionaire. He also established a new curry house chain, Slumdog, but later struck a management agreement that saw another company take over the running of it.

His business activities now include Harlequin Properties and Harlequin Developments which specialise in luxury conversions and new build properties across west central Scotland.