Plans to ramp up business support for No vote

A CAMPAIGN to build a business voice behind those opposing Scottish independence intends to publish an action plan before the end of next month.

Former electronics sector leader aims to show countrys flaws can be fixed within the Union. Picture: TSPL
Former electronics sector leader aims to show countrys flaws can be fixed within the Union. Picture: TSPL

Led by former electronics industry leader Hugh Aitken, the idea is to accept that the Union has many flaws but that these shortcomings can be fixed from within.

Aitken, who led Sun Microsystems in Scotland and is a former chairman of Electronics Scotland, left the country three years ago for a job with Microsoft in the US.

He revealed to Scotland on Sunday two weeks ago that he was concerned that the Yes campaign in Scotland was gaining ground and that he wanted to galvanise opinion among those in business who do not support independence. He has now received support from a wide section of business people and is pressing for these views to be brought together well before the referendum in September.

In correspondence with Alistair Darling, who is leading the No campaign, he says he wants to provide help in whatever way he can.

“We need to acknowledge the fact that we do have issues in Scotland which need fixed, but we need to show how we can achieve these fixes within the Union, staying with sterling and continuing within the EU,” he says.

“What we need is a plan for what I would call a Scotland PLC vision which maps out the problems and the proposed solutions without the need for independence and I believe we need this plan published before the end of March to allow the public at large to digest, understand and show rallying support as we approach the September vote.

“I’m not saying that all of these comments are either valid or the best way forward, but I believe the No campaign needs to step up and be more succinct and positive about Scotland’s prospects as a part of the United Kingdom, or there will be a possibility of the folks on the fence moving towards a Yes vote.

“I want to help with the No campaign from both a business perspective as well as a single contributor.

“One thing we are not doing well is recognising that there are issues for Scotland within the Union and we need to paint a vision for Scotland within the Union, while at the same time point out the issues/risks that independence will bring. Just pushing for No will irritate many and potentially swing the folks who are on the fence.”

The Aitken plan coincides with further moves by businesses to declare their concerns surrounding the independence issue. Scotland on Sunday recently revealed that more companies will be including “risk assessments” in their audited accounts. Standard Life is expected to make such a statement when it unveils full-year figures this week.

However, it is understood that the insurer, which is registered in Scotland, will not declare support for either side, nor issue any warnings. It is more likely that it will want to alert its four million customers, the vast majority of whom reside outside Scotland, of the potential impact of independence.

Last week, TSB Bank registered a new holding company in England ahead of its planned flotation in the summer, although the bank itself will continue to be registered in Scotland. It insisted this was a technical issue and had nothing to do with the independence debate.

“The TSB Bank is registered in Scotland and will continue to be registered in Scotland,” said a spokesman.