Scotland is a wealthy nation and will be a great place to do business
People in all walks of life have passionately held views on both sides of the referendum debate. Each deserves respect, and to be heard and engaged with. That’s no more or less true of those in our boardrooms and running small businesses.
However, we need to listen carefully to what people are actually saying and that's very much the case for comments by Standard Life today. Standard Life wants to see agreements on currency, regulation and taxation, which is exactly what the Scottish Government has proposed. They want a formal currency union and so do the Scottish Government. The only threat to that comes from the refusal of the No campaign and the UK Government to get involved in sensible discussions.
But we know common sense will win the day, just as David Cameron has agreed that the UK would support Scotland as an independent member of the EU, in the same way there will be a Sterling Area after independence because it is clearly in the best interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK and that means companies like Standard Life will continue to flourish and operate fully in Scotland. Why wouldn't they? After all Scotland is one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, with higher economic output and healthier finances than the UK.
We know it’s in the No campaign and the UK Government’s interests to create uncertainty for business. Twenty years ago the No campaign wanted us to believe that a Scottish Parliament with minor tax powers would create uncertainty for business. For some businesses like Standard Life, that No campaign tactic then meant they became concerned that devolution would “have an adverse effect on their business” (as was said in 1992). The No campaign is trying to do the same today with their campaign tactics over currency.
The fears built up by the No campaign were misplaced then and they are misplaced now. A Sterling Area is the common sense position and is in the best interests of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales - to think otherwise is to believe that the UK government will decide to do big damage to businesses elsewhere in the UK.
Alongside today’s comments from Standard Life, yesterday we heard the views of people in Scotland’s wealth-creating manufacturing sector. Clyde Blowers’ chairman Jim McColl, giving evidence to the Economy Committee of our now well-established Scottish Parliament, said: "We have an opportunity here to get more powers for the Parliament. This isn't an SNP issue, this is an issue to give the Scottish Parliament more powers to decide its own destiny and to run the country in a way that suits Scotland.
"The issues in Scotland are quite different from the issues that face London and the south east, and I think the Parliament needs those powers to address those issues. And the only way to get the additional powers we need is to vote Yes, because there is nothing being put forward by the No campaign.
Mr McColl concluded: "Why any politician in the Scottish Parliament of any persuasion would not want have to more control over what happens in their own nation, it beats me."
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