Scottish election 2021: Sir Tom Hunter warns now not time to be 'gambling' on independence

Sir Tom Hunter has warned that now is not the time to be “gambling” on another independence referendum.

The millionaire businessman said Scotland needs “bold, ambitious industrial policies” that could not be offered in the short term if Scotland loses access to funding from Westminster.

The SNP have said they would want to be through the pandemic before another referendum would be held and subsequent negotiations in the event of a win for the independence side would presumably take several years, with Scotland still able to access the annual block grant.

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However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her party have been criticised in the past week over a lack of economic modelling for an independent Scotland, despite voters being asked to vote for pro-separation parties to force another poll on the matter next week.

Sir Tom Hunter

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Writing in the Daily Record, Sir Tom said: “We need bold, ambitious industrial policies. In my opinion, we need to wake up and realise now is not the time to be gambling on an independence referendum.

“If the block grant goes in the midst of recovery from the pandemic, how do we pay for any of this in the short to medium term and all the politicians’ promises?

“Not one party has offered a credible economic strategy to deliver the economic growth we need to offer all our citizens the opportunity to thrive.”

The entrepreneur and philanthropist also highlighted the care review commissioned by the First Minister in 2016 and reporting last year as a symbol of what could be done when public services shift their focus to “the customers’ needs”.

Sir Tom said: “Instead of inward analysis, talking to vested interests and policy makers, Fiona Duncan who chaired that review did something utterly compelling – she asked the customer.

“Of more than 5,000 interviews carried out by the review team, more than half were with care-experienced young people, from toddlers to adults and everything in between.

“Their stories were compelling, heart-breaking, but ultimately inspiring – the system was broken, but it could be fixed. Design the system for the customer, don’t try to fit the customer to a dysfunctional system.”

Learning lessons from the care review, Sir Tom said the Scottish Government could reform “tired old systems” to work for the people of Scotland, although he did not say which systems were in need of reform.

“When furlough disappears a wall of unemployment is coming our way and we need to act, think and work together to build back better,” he said.

“To do so we need to capture the stories of innovation and embrace them, change our tired systems and model those changes, as the care review did, on the customers’ needs, not the systems.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “The First Minister and the SNP’s focus is fixed on getting Scotland through the pandemic and into recovery, and the first steps we will take if re-elected to tackle Covid, to help the health service to recovery, to support young people into jobs, help workers facing unemployment to retrain and to help children and families are set out in the plan we have published today for the first hundred days of a new SNP government."

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