By Martin Kelly
Claims that independence will harm business in Scotland have suffered a further blow as another major firm has insisted there is “no risk” if Scots opt for a Yes vote in the 2014 referendum.
Comments by Stagecoach’s next chief executive Martin Griffiths dismissing claims that independence would harm business follow a similar view from major drinks firm Diageo earlier this week.
Speaking to shareholders at Perth Concert Hall, Mr Griffiths said of independence: “I don’t think, from a group point of view and risk register point of view, it changes anything we are looking at this point.”
The comments swiftly follow those from chief executive of drinks giant Diageo, Paul Walsh, that independence would make “no difference” to any decision on investing in Scotland.
SNP Treasury spokesperson Stewart Hosie MP has welcomed comments from the Stagecoach spokesman. Commenting, Mr Hosie said it was now time for anti-independence politicians to drop their scaremongering and join the positive debate on Scotland’s future.
Describing it as a “blow” to the anti-independence campaign, he added:
“Stagecoach is a major player in the transport industry, and a home-grown success story, so I welcome their continued commitment to Scotland regardless of the constitutional debate. The fact that independence is not seen as a risk by such a major global company blows apart the scaremongering from the Tory-Labour-LibDem alliance.
“Martin Griffiths’ comments echo the confidence of other business leaders who are investing in Scotland right now. They also expose the hollowness of the anti-independence arguments compared to the reality of where business leaders think the real risk comes from – the Westminster government’s failure to invest capital in infrastructure projects like schools, hospitals and roads.”
With Scotland currently ranked in an Ernst and Young survey as the most attractive place in the UK to do business, the comments also echo the findings of Channel 4’s respected Factcheck website which also found that business leaders were confident about investing in Scotland.
Mr Hosie continued:
“As the findings of the Ernst and Young survey show, Scotland continues to be the most attractive place in the UK to do business and that the great debate over independence is having no effect on FDI decisions.
“That underscores how better decisions are made for Scotland by those the people of Scotland directly elect rather than a Westminster government Scotland rejected at the polls.
“The evidence clearly shows that Scotland has the talent, the natural resources and the perfect location to build a strong and prosperous economy. Westminster ministers and the anti-independence parties should drop their scaremongering and join the positive debate on Scotland’s future.
“With the full economic and financial powers of independence we could do even more to raise Scotland’s competitiveness and drive forward economic recovery. In the meantime the Westminster government must deliver substantial capital investment immediately to promote growth and jobs.”
The comments from Stagecoach and Diageo follow similar comments from other business leaders.
In comments to the Channel 4 Factcheck website Doug Sawers, Ceridian’s MD who are investing £16 million in their Glasgow operation and creating 300 new jobs said:
“Regarding a future Scottish referendum, at this stage, we are not worried, … “In the event that the country chooses independence, we have faith in the Scottish Government’s approach to making Scotland more, not less, competitive. Recent news and speculation has not damaged Scotland’s and Glasgow’s prospects.”
And a spokesman for the Bank of New York Mellon which is increasing its investment in Edinburgh said it “deals in multiple currencies, multiple jurisdiction and changes within these all the time.
Leading Scottish industrialist Jim McColl added: “What many of us are convinced about is that a productive and prosperous future for this country depends on securing real economic powers for the Scottish parliament through constitutional change.”
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