A reliable source

80 Top Scots Men voting YES for Independence:

Sir Sean Connery, iconic actor (pictured);
Blair Jenkins, former BBC Scot. & STV head of news;
Sir George Mathewson, businessman & banker;
Dan Macdonald; property developer;
Dennis Canavan, former Labour MP & MSP;
John McAllion, former Labour MP;
Paul H. Scott, author & former diplomat;
Jim McColl, businessman;
Tommy Brennan, former shop steward;
Dougie MacLean, singer;
George Kerevan, economist & journalist;
The Proclaimers, singers;
Cameron McNeish, hill-walker & author;
Pat Kane, musician;
Hardeep Singh Kohli, comedian & writer;
Brian Cox, actor;
Alan Cumming, actor;
James Cosmo, actor;
John Byrne, writer;
Martin Compston, actor;
Stewart Kirkpatrick, website editor;
Andrew Fairlie, restaurateur;
Colin Fox, Scot. Socialist Party;
Alex Boyd, photographer;
Alasdair Gray, writer;
David Hayman, actor;
James Kelman, writer;
Alan Bissett, novelist;
Irvine Welsh, writer;
Alasdair Stephen, architect;
David Greig, playwright;
Alastair McDonald, singer;
Frankie Boyle, comedian;
Jack Vettriano, artist;
Iain Anderson, radio presenter;
Gerard Butler, actor;
Jim Delahunt, radio sports presenter;
John Wallace, Principal of RSAMD;
Ted Christopher, singer;
Gerry Hassan, writer;
Peter Mullan, actor,
Dick Gaughan, singer;
Mark Millar, comic book writer;
Kyle Falkoner, singer:
Aamer Anwar, lawyer;
James Aitken, lawyer;
Peter De Vink, financier;
Malcolm Fraser, architect;
Angus Tulloch, investment manager;
Tim Barrow, actor;
Prof. Joe Goldblatt, academic;
Greg Hemphill, actor & comedian;
Ricky Ross, singer & radio presenter;
James Robertson, author;
Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, composer;
Malky McCormick, cartoonist;
Sir Tom Hunter, businessman;
Michael Fry, historian & author;
Craig Murray, author & former ambassador;
Kevin McKidd, actor;
Sandy Adam, businessman;
Tony Banks, businessman;
Mark Shaw, property developer;
Calum Colvin, artist & photographer;
Simon Howie, businessman;
Aly Bain, musician;
Harvey Aberdein, lawyer;
Dr. Richard Dixon, environmental campaigner;
Jai McDowall, singer;
Sir Charles Gray, former Labour Strathclyde Council leader;
Alex Mosson, former Labour Lord Provost of Glasgow;
Nick Johnston, former Scottish Tory MSP;
John Mulvey, former Labour Lothian Council leader;
William McIlvanney, author;
Alex Arthur, former championship boxer;
Bob Thomson, former chairman of Scottish Labour Party;
David Taylor, former chief executive of SFA;
James Scott, former executive director of Scottish Financial Enterprise
Andy Myles, former chief executive Scottish Liberal Democrats

(its half way down page – Top Scots YES women men)

Source: Wing Over Scotland

Something to ponder

Something to ponder

There are a couple of opinion polls in the papers this morning, of which independence campaigners are naturally paying most attention to the ICM one for Scotland on Sunday which shows referendum voting at a hair’s-breadth 48% Yes to 52% No (after removing Don’t Knows).

But perhaps more revealing is one in the Sunday Telegraph regarding the imminent European elections, which puts Labour on 30%, UKIP on 27%, the Tories on 22% and the Lib Dems – the only actively Europhile party south of Scotland – on just 8%.


If you apply those figures to the electorate of the rUK, excluding Scotland, that means that there are something like 11.3 million UKIP voters in England, as opposed to a total Scottish electorate of 4 million.

Readers may wish to consider for a moment which of those groups is likely to have a stronger influence on the direction of UK politics in the coming years.

Source: Wing Over Scotland

Crowd surfing

As alert readers will know, we’re slacking off a bit over the holiday weekend, although today we’re hoping to combine pleasure with business – more on that later.


But we’d also like to have a go at getting you to do some work for us.

The Reference section of the site has been massively expanded in recent weeks, to include not only some articles with a particularly heavy basis in statistics and facts but also a large repository of documents from all sides of the debate and none – reports, manifestos, policy papers and the like, from the No camp as well as the Yes.

We’d like to add another new section to it, comprising what YOU think are the best pieces in the site’s 30-month history – and more specifically, the ones most likely to be persuasive to undecided voters. We’re aiming for a top 10 or top 20 of the posts that might be relatively light on stats and figures, but which you think make the most revealing or compelling arguments in favour of a Yes vote.

The problem with that is that most of you probably haven’t read them. The readership of the site has tripled in the last six months alone, which means that the large majority of you probably weren’t here when the bulk of our 2,300+ posts were published.

So we’d like to ask you to do something for us. This weekend, when you’re not out rolling Easter eggs (is that still a thing people do) or taking advantage of the unusually sunny weather to try to absorb a whole Scottish year’s worth of Vitamin D in one day, have a dig through our history.

Type a subject you’re interested in into the Search box (remember to put quote marks around it if it has more than one word, eg “currency union”), or click one in the “tag cloud” in the right-hand sidebar, or use the “Select Month” drop-down box in the same column to just randomly read articles from January 2013, or any other time before you started visiting the site.

(Veteran readers who’ve been here since the beginning are of course also very much welcome to suggest their favourite pieces.)

If and when you stumble across something you think is particularly good, just post the title and/or link into the comments box on this page. The stuff you like best will be added to the Reference section so new readers can get straight to it from the “New readers start here” post that’s now permanently pinned to the top of the front page.

There are just five months to go until the referendum, and a lot of people are only just starting to really pay attention. They can’t be expected to wade through two-and-a-half years of writing to catch up, so it’s time to start whittling things down to the essence. And to do that, we need your help.

Source: Wing Over Scotland

The sultans of swing

20 Top Women voting YES for Independence:

Sarah-Jane Walls, businesswoman;
Ruth Wishart, journalist;
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh; lawyer & businesswoman;
Liz Lochhead, poet;
Elaine C. Smith, actress & comedienne;
Lou Hickey, singer;
A.L. Kennedy, writer;
Cat Boyd, trade unionist;
Sheena Wellington, singer:
Annie Lennox, singer;
Janice Galloway, writer;
Clare Galloway, artist;
Jeane Freeman, public affairs consultant;
Lari Don, children’s story writer;
Karen Matheson, singer;
Karine Polwart, singer & songwriter;
Eddi Reader, singer;
Mary Lockhart, Scot. Co-operative Party;
Lesley Riddoch, writer & journalist;
Dolina Maclennan, actress & singer;
Louise Batchelor, former BBC news presenter;
Carmen Pieraccini, actress;
Mary Ann Kennedy, singer & broadcaster;
Libby McArthur, actress;
Freya Mavor, actress;
Joan Burnie, journalist;
Duchess of Hamilton (Kay Carmichael).


Source: Wing Over Scotland

Strong enough is too strong

The estimable James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop! wrote an excellent blog post the other day deconstructing a laughably skewed and leading poll which was commissioned by “Better Together” this month.

Blair McDougall’s Beleaguered Billy Boys, as hardly anyone calls them, had loudly and bizarrely trumpeted figures which actually showed a 6% swing to Yes, but that wasn’t the thing we found most interesting in their press release.

“In what is another blow to the SNP, just 35% of those questioned by YouGov on behalf of Better Together backed separation over a stronger Scottish Parliament within the UK.”

The poll question in fact offered respondents a forced choice between two options: independence or “Scotland remaining part of the UK with increased powers for the Scottish Parliament”.

We’ve already learned what BT mean by “increased powers” – the piddly and trivial ones enshrined by the Scotland Act 2012, rather than any dramatic new settlement from any of the Unionist parties, but the jarring part of the release is the twisting of that already-twisted wording to mean “stronger”.

Because a stronger Scottish Parliament is the LAST thing the No parties want, and you only have to spend a minute thinking about it to figure out why.


In the UK, power lives at Westminster. It’s where the Unionist parties send all their best talent, because it’s where the most important decisions get made, including the size of the Scottish Parliament’s budget. Westminster MPs despise any sort of challenge to their authority – you only have to look at the reaction of Scottish Labour MPs to the Scottish party’s draft devolution proposals from last year to see that.

So in what possible scenario would any of the UK leaders want to do anything that would strengthen the Scottish Parliament? Let’s take a quick tour through the possibilities, because there aren’t many permutations.


- Tory control of Westminster, Tory control of Holyrood

Stop sniggering at the back, there.

- Tory control of Westminster, Labour control of Holyrood

The stronger the Scottish Parliament is, the more trouble it can cause.

- Tory control of Westminster, SNP control of Holyrood

As above, only more so.


- Labour control of Westminster, Labour control of Holyrood

Labour gains nothing here. Any policy it might want to implement in Scotland, it would be able to implement directly from Westminster.

But because it’s highly unlikely that Labour would command an absolute majority at Holyrood (they’re currently 25 seats short of one even in coalition with the Lib Dems), then the stronger the Scottish Parliament is the more resistance it can put up to Ed Miliband’s “One Nation” policies like reintroducing tuition fees and bringing in means-testing for various benefits.

- Labour control of Westminster, SNP control of Holyrood

An obvious nightmare for Labour. Handing more power to the SNP would be just fashioning a massive rod for its own back. With nails in it.

- Labour control of Westminster, Tory control of Holyrood

Not going to happen. But the same would apply.


Who cares?

Remember, the 2015 UK general election will be conducted against a backdrop of the referendum result already being known. If Scotland has voted No, it has no threats left, no leverage whatsoever that it can bring to bear on Westminster.

All it can do is elect the SNP again in 2016, as all the polls currently suggest will happen. (And a No vote would likely only increase the probability, as Scots sought to protect themselves from Westminster’s wrath.)

So why on Earth would Labour or the Tories make Holyrood any more powerful, knowing that it was likely to be a thorn in their side?

The only rational thing for either of them to do would be the exact opposite, which is why Labour have already laid a trap in the form of devolution plans which would impose more responsibilities, more bureaucracy and more costs on the Scottish Government, for no practical gain.

The UK doesn’t want to go through a trauma like the independence referendum again for generations. Only a madman would believe that having won the bitterly-fought duel, via every dirty trick in the book, it would hand its opponent a bigger gun.

Source: Wing Over Scotland

A breath of outside air

A breath of outside air

When you’ve been wading in the Scottish and UK media for two and a half years, it’s easy to develop a siege mentality and believe that the entire rest of the world buys into its cataclysmic view of independence. So it’s a relief when you realise that beyond the borders of Britain, most people are calm, rational and practical about the prospect.

We’re going to take things a little bit easy over the holiday weekend, so why not relax and both read the article we’ve linked in paragraph 1 and watch the above discussion between some learned international gentlemen (including Scotland’s own Professor James Mitchell) at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC for a slightly less apocalyptic view of a world with an independent Scotland in it?

PS We’d advise skipping forward 10 minutes or so at around 55m when some Irish bloke pops up and starts talking about accession. He doesn’t half go on. On the other hand, it’s fun to watch the Catalan panellist (on whom the camera remains the whole time) go through all sorts of agonies wondering whether he’ll ever shut up, to the point where he actually starts trying to pull his own face off.

Source: Wing Over Scotland

Victory for Business for Scotland as CBI is forced to register as part of the No Campaign

Victory for Business for Scotland as CBI is forced to register as part of the No Campaign


CBI Under PressureThe CBI has, under pressure from Business for Scotland, registered with the Electoral Commission Scotland (ECS) as part of the No Campaign. It has done this against the stated positions of its member companies some of which support independence and the vast majority of which have been at pains to stay neutral.

This is major setback for the No Campaign and an unsustainable position for the CBI. Unable to motivate the vast majority of the business community to support their scare stories, the No Campaign have tried to hijack a business network which should have – in accordance with its membership – remained neutral on the referendum.

This is a major victory for Business for Scotland. We have been calling in public and requesting in private of the Electoral Commission Scotland for months that the CBI is asked to register as part of the No camp. Business for Scotland is a business representative network like the CBI, although our focus is on representing SMEs which are actually based in Scotland. SMEs represent 99.3pc of the Scottish private sector businesses. Our individual members each sign a business declaration in favour of independence. We have always accepted we will register as a campaign participant once the CBI has and we will now do so.

This move by the CBI is unprecedented. They have now declared themselves as part of the No Campaign without seeking the permission and sign-off of its members in Scotland. The CBI has also refused to release an explanation of its membership numbers in Scotland.

Tony Banks, Chairman of Business for Scotland, owns Balhousie Care Group which is a CBI member and was not consulted. Several members of the CBI have today contacted Business for Scotland to express deep concern that their organisations have effectively been registered as part of the No Campaign. There will be more on that soon.

The CBI has never represented its members on this issue and clearly now no longer represents anything but the views of its No Campaign supporting officials.

Many questions will now be asked in the coming days. 

First, why was there no transparent sign-off by the whole Scottish membership? Any anonymous consultative exercises involving a few carefully selected members are unrepresentative. The position of most CBI members is well known. Given the majority are declared neutral on the referendum, what mandate do the officials claim to actually have for registering as a No campaign participant? Several CBI members are pro-independence so why are their views not represented?

Secondly, many companies now must feel they have been put in an impossible position. How sustainable is this situation for many of the CBI’s members? What concerns will they raise about governance within the CBI? What will shareholders of member companies have to say about this? The funds of taxpayers through public sector members of the CBI are now presumably being used to fund campaigning for the No Campaign? Is this even legal?

Recently, the CBI has put itself forward to be neutral chairs of debates involving Business for Scotland at the same time as adopting a public position against independence – what does this say about their honesty?

John Cridland, the CBI Director General, gave interviews earlier this month presenting the CBI as a business group against independence but Claire Stewart the presenter of Scotland Tonight doggedly pressed Mr Cridland as to whether Scottish members had been consulted on the report and policy decision. Twice he refused to say. Such evasiveness clearly indicates there has been no consultation of any substance.

CBI on the Better Together BoardCBI on the Better Together Board

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Last year the 2013 Chair of the CBI in Scotland, Nosheena Mobarik, was appointed a Director of the Better Together anti-independence campaign and has expressed her views clearly on a number of occasions, including in her CBI capacity. At the CBI annual dinner, she attacked the Yes Campaign arguing that: “the CBI has a rich engagement on constitutional matters” and that “our members approved a referendum strategy” that broadly follows that of Better Together. No evidence of members each agreeing to the policy against independence has been forthcoming and anonymous straw polls do not constitute proper governance.

John Cridland, Director General of the CBI UK-wide, put it more precisely when he said simply: “We are better together.”

Membership claims must now be scrutinised

The CBI claims to represent 240,00 companies in UK and 24,000 in Scotland but all attempts to identify membership seems to indicate only 80 or so members headquartered in Scotland. Why such a disparity?  It looks to be the case that the CBI membership figures are grossly inflated to make them appear to be a far more important business group in Scotland than they actually are.

The Daily Telegraph also recently reported on claims that the CBI does not represent the views of companies north of the border, pointing to Business for Scotland signing up 1,100 members at the time (now over 1,700). However, they stated that “this is dwarfed by the CBI, which claims to have around 24,000 members that employ 630,000 people”. There is currently no evidence to suggest that they have more than 80 members.

Has the CBI misled the media and public on its membership numbers both in Scotland and in the UK?  With perhaps less than 100 members in Scotland you would expect no more than a few thousand members across the whole of the UK. It seems fair to ask if they have decided to unilaterally represent all medium sized companies in the UK whether or not they have any connection to the CBI and without any proper consultation of those that do.

CBI Scotland council member Anthony Rush has admitted, when considering whether the CBI only has 100 members in Scotland that he does “not know where the true number of Scottish companies lies.”

CBI has no mandate to campaign for a No vote

Businesspeople have a wide range of views on the referendum and business groups should formally seek the views of their members in a transparent fashion before coming to policy conclusions.

Business for Scotland researchers called 22 CBI members: 3 stated they were Yes supporters but personally not on a corporate basis, 17 stated they were neutral and only 2 told us they were No supporters (again on a personal basis). In turn, it is clear the CBI does not have a mandate from their members to join the No camp, especially in the case of leading universities and public bodies.

Does the CBI membership not deserve better than blind compliance with the failed status quo or worse the likely future for Scotland’s economy after a No vote?

Business for Scotland has a mandate to campaign.

Leading entrepreneur Tony Banks is the Chairman of Business for Scotland and a CBI member

Leading entrepreneur Tony Banks is the Chairman of Business for Scotland and a CBI member

Comments from Tony Banks at the St. Columba’s Debate in London 25/03/14 to an audience of nearly 500.

“Business for Scotland believes that independence is in the interests of business and that Scotland’s economy will thrive with a yes vote. Our ranks are filled not exclusively but mostly with businesspeople running SMEs. We recognise that SMEs are 99.3% of the Scottish private sector. They are the lifeblood of Scotland’s growing economy. Likewise, we particularly benefit from the support of self-made entrepreneurs who more so than other businesspeople see change as an opportunity, not a threat.

By contrast, the CBI represents very few companies in Scotland and mostly those based in London. Much more importantly, on the question of Scotland’s future, they have shown themselves to be part of the No Campaign.  And not an impartial or thoughtful organisation representing well the interests of their membership”.

CBI’s track record of opposition to progress in Scotland

Ian McMillan has been Director of CBI Scotland for decades. Over that time the CBI has opposed every single move for greater economic powers for Scotland.

Under his watch the CBI

- Opposed devolution and the creation of the Scottish Parliament
- Opposed proposals of the Calman Commission
- Opposes independence

The people of Scotland know that the CBI were wrong on devolution and they are wrong again now.

CBI criticised for misrepresenting member views

Several CBI members who are mostly neutral on the referendum have complained publicly that Ian McMillan and the CBI have misrepresented their views on independence.

These include “Barclays Wealth, Edrington Group, Aquamarine Power and event the Law Society of Scotland who all publicly denied Mr McMillan’ claims on independence.”


The CBI have opposed all constitutional progress in Scotland. They said that devolution would be bad for business and bad for Scotland, they were wrong then and they are wrong now. They have very serious questions to ask about their inflated and misleading membership claims, claiming 24,000 members in Scotland when there is no evidence that they have more than 80 (some of which are public sector). They lack all credibility and can be fairly accused of dishonesty.

With a track record in misrepresenting the views of their membership they have put their members in Scotland in an impossible position. Many of their already small Scottish membership must be asking themselves how they can remain members of the CBI now that it is officially part of the No Campaign.

John Cridland in debate with myself on BBC Good Morning Scotland this month pulled out of a second debate later that day. Tony Banks and many others stand available to debate with Mr Cridland or Mr McMillan at any time.

This amounts to a desperate attempt by the No Campaign under pressure from Business for Scotland. However, with no mandate and limited members in Scotland this move can also be seen as a huge own goal with significant implications for the campaign as a whole.

Original Source: BusinessForScotland