I HAVE TODAY launched Scottish-business.uk a new website designed to give business people across all sectors and geographies within Scotland a place to register their support for us to remain as part of the United Kingdom in the event of another independence referendum.
I am concerned by comments I’ve received directly from inward investors, both in London and abroad discounting Scotland as a potential area for investment due to the uncertainty created by the announcement that we are possibly facing another independence referendum.
My aim is to garner support from small, medium and large businesses, to ensure that the voice of Scotland’s business community seeking to remain in the Union is properly heard.
The last time we faced an independence referendum, the Scottish business community was simply too slow and too shy at making its voice heard on the merits of staying in the United Kingdom. Only a few notable exceptions stood up and spoke on behalf of what many were saying privately. This has to change if we are to avoid another divisive debate that gives the public the impression businesses don’t care enough to have a view.
Having heard investors that I know well, actively stepping back from investing in the Scottish economy, I fear for the future and decided to act. I am therefore urging business leaders to share their support for Scotland remaining a full and active member of the UK by expressing their commitment through the new website. It will only be by strength of voice and an evidenced based case that we will be able to defend the will of Scottish businesses of all sizes to remain in the Union.
I personally know of many people, not just business leaders, who have changed their thinking since the last referendum in Scotland and with the spectre of Brexit on the horizon, there are simply too many unknowns for Scotland to take such a momentous decision at this time.
Ultimately, for Scotland to succeed in business we need to have a strong pipeline for investment and growth, and at the moment the approach of our politicians is turning too many investors away.
It’s not good enough for business leaders to quietly shake their heads in dismay. Ahead of launching today, we have already attracted 100 business people signing up from a wide range of sectors.
Scottish-business.uk is giving anyone interested in protecting the future of Scottish businesses a vehicle to register their support to stay part of the United Kingdom in the event of another independence referendum.
My Scottish business credentials are beyond question, I am a serial Scottish entrepreneur, investor and property developer who founded Four Seasons Health Care in 1988, leaving it in 2000 after growing it to 101 care homes and 6,500 staff. It went on to become the UK’s largest care home operator with nearly 400 care homes, some 20,000 beds and employing around 30,000 staff. I have served on both the CBI Scotland Council and the UK CBI SME Council and also established this Scottish online political think-tank thinkscotland.org.
I was also founder of Dow Investments Plc and as CEO am now celebrating its 27th year. In 2004 I founded and am Chairman of Scottish care home operator, Renaissance Care (Scotland) Ltd with 12 homes and around 800 staff; I was co-Founder and am non-Executive Director of video and security systems specialists, NW Systems Group Ltd; I am a founder Shareholder and non-Executive Director of Kingdom FM Radio Ltd; and non-Executive Director of Lifelinked Ltd, a Glasgow software developer. My business interests show beyond doubt I am committed to Scotland – but I am also committed to Scotland being in the UK – the two positions are not mutually exclusive but complimentary.
Born in Edinburgh, brought up in Fife, my first business venture, while attending Stirling University, was running a stall selling jeans and t-shirts at Edinburgh’s Ingliston Sunday outdoor market. As someone who splits my time between London and Scotland, and doing business in both, I know the value of the Union and ask others that recognise its strengths to join me in voicing our support.
To get behind the campaign please register by visiting www.scottish-business.uk.