Business for Scotland cast doubt on poll showing substantial corporate backing for union
CAMPAIGNERS have urged that the movement for Scottish independence should target the broad masses of the Scottish population, in response to a business poll showing substantial corporate support for the union.
Research by commercial law firm Burness Paull found that 83 per cent of Scottish corporate entities say that remaining in the UK union is “vital” to their interests whilst just 50 per cent said the same about remaining in the EU.
Eighty eight per cent said Brexit had not affected their views on remaining in the UK.
“This is probably quite a neat encapsulation of the debate to come – will Scotland vote to please corporations or to support its citizens?” Robin McAlpine
In response to the figures, director of the CommonWeal think tank and member of the Scottish Independence Convention’s (SIC) strategy group Robin McAlpine, said:“Corporations have done very well out of the UK’s lax corporation tax laws and their wealthy senior managers have done very well out of a personal tax system which allows them a very large scope for not paying all their taxes. So sure, I can see why they quite like the Westminster regime.
“However, these exact same issues are bad for virtually everyone else in Scottish society as they shift greater tax burden on everyone else and reduce the amount we can invest in public services like the NHS. This is probably quite a neat encapsulation of the debate to come – will Scotland vote to please corporations or to support its citizens?”
The SIC is a group drawing-up strategy and organisation for a second Yes campaign and to provide it with the detailed policy answers some activists felt the first Yes campaign lacked in 2014. It’s strategy unit is currently investigating those constituencies which could yield the most votes for independence in a second referendum.
Echoing McAlpine’s words, Sarah Collins, a young trade union organiser and veteran of the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), which was noted for it’s work to gain support for a Yes vote from among Scotland’s ‘forgotten million’ disengaged non-voters.
She said: “In the 2014 referendum, the most important factor in the surge for independence vote to 45 per cent was the Scottish working class and its demand for change in society
“In a future referendum vote we need to remember this lesson. A majority will vote for independence if it represents a radical change in direction for the country and economic and social progress.
“A future campaign must not pander to the rich and powerful, who are innately conservative and who don’t have the numbers to win us the referendum – even if they were ever to support independence.” Sarah Collins
“A future campaign must not pander to the rich and powerful, who are innately conservative and who don’t have the numbers to win us the referendum – even if they were ever to support independence.”
The Yes vote surged to 45 per cent in 2014, as the vote turnout soared to 85 per cent.
The survey spoke to 50 leaders at corporate firms in Scotland and focused mainly on the largest class of firm – those employing 500 staff or more.
The Business for Scotland group, which represents mainly small and medium sized businesses supporting independence claimed that the nature of the survey and it’s timing made the information from the survey unreliable.
“This is a non-representative sample of Scottish business which is skewed to No voting areas, with 66% of respondents being from Aberdeen and Edinburgh but only 24% from Yes voting Glasgow and none listed in the survey methodology from Yes voting Dundee.
“The survey is months out of date and was almost completely undertaken before Theresa May’s Mansion House speech, which confirmed the plan for a hard Brexit.
“If Business for Scotland were to publish a survey this skewed in its methodology towards support for independence, no one would publish it.
“The question on the importance of being part of the UK and part of Europe show the importance of access to markets and if independence can be shown to allow seamless trade between Scotland and both markets then the business need to trade with rUK post-independence is a moot point.”
The corporate sector in Scotland holds a disproportionate sway in economic and political influence, despite representing a relatively small proportion of Scottish businesses. 98 per cent of Scottish businesses are small, employing less than 50 workers. Less than one per cent had more than 250 employees, let alone the 500 measured in the survey, in March 2016.
However in some urban areas corporations are also disproportionate employers. In Aberdeen, large companies represented 59 per cent of all workers for registered enterprises.
In the 2014 referendum, many companies told their workers to vote again independence, and spread fears about the future success of the business if Scotland should become independent. Collins has previously called for a trade union and workplace strategy to deal with this eventuality.
Burness Paull was contacted for a response to the criticism of the survey, but had not responded by time of publication.
The survey report said: “The vast majority of respondents agreed that the prospect of Indyref2 was creating uncertainty for Corporate Scotland and that this would continue to have an impact on investment activity until the outcome of the referendum was known. But despite socio-economic and political uncertainty, Corporate Scotland is driving the tech agenda forward.”
Picture courtesy of Facebook
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