We should re-draw business boundaries

Dan Macdonald’s N-56 business report is a welcome economic contribution as it looks to straddle the referendum vote (Business, 11 June).

Whether Scotland votes for or against independence Mr Macdonald is correct to highlight the risk of polarisation after the vote; or even worse, an indecisive result, where both camps claim a sort of victory.

I am sure that business leaders will share my concern that many investment houses are currently sitting on their hands until the outcome of the referendum is known. What businesses really want, and need, is stability, forward planning, business-friendly policies and a coherent vision.

But any plan which aims to bring the worlds of politics, business and academia closer together needs to include electoral reform.

The current arrangement of regional and constituency MSPs, MPs and councillors, all in geographically differing electorates, just adds to the public’s confusion as to the purpose of each tier of government.

Simply devolving more power to the local level of government, as many advocate, would simply reinforce the silos that Mr Macdonald decries.

The solution is actually to align representation with political issues rather than geographical locations.

This might also sound a little revolutionary itself, and be resisted by various interested parties who call for greater localism. However, the very nature of localism is limiting in scope, and protectionist in nature, because many locations share the exact same social challenges.

Therefore, in the same way that the election of city mayors has shown to strengthen major urban areas, and the advent of social media has galvanised online communities, we must consider a hierarchical representational system based on issues – a world-class and innovative democracy covering heavy engineering, sciences and education, social need, international business etc, rather than a system limited to geographical location.

If electoral reform accompanies business revolution then maybe Mr Macdonald’s plan will gain some traction.

Brian Pope


County Down

(working in Glasgow and Belfast)