By Martin Kelly
A former Conservative party donor has claimed that there are many people in the Scottish business community who will back independence if there is no third option on the referendum ballot paper.
John McGlynn, the Founder and Chairman of Airlink Group, said that he will most likely back independence to get more economic powers for Scotland if the choice is between independence and the status quo.
Mr McGlynn said: “If a stronger powers option is not included in the 2014 referendum I, like many others in the business community, will most likely come to the conclusion that the worst of all options is the status quo and back independence.”
The comments, reported in the Sunday Times, echo recent calls from other leading businessmen Sir Tom Farmer and Jim McColl, who view independence as currently the only means for the Scottish Government to gain the economic levers necessary to boost jobs and growth.
Both men have admitted that if there is no third option on the ballot paper then they too would probably opt for independence.
Speaking to the Scotsman on 29th May, Mr McColl said: “if the alternative was the status quo, I think it [independence] gives Scots the chance of a better future…If it’s just ‘are we independent or not?’ and the ‘not’ is just staying as we are, then I think you’ll find a lot of people will vote for independence so that they get some powers.”
Sir Tom Farmer told the Herald on 30th May: “If it was a case of the status quo and no fiscal autonomy, I don’t think I would be very happy. If the question was, quite simply, independence or no new powers I would lean towards independence.”
Last week Sir Tom Hunter joined the ever growing number of leading businesspeople who are calling for full fiscal autonomy in order to give the Scottish Parliament the economic levers needed to boost the economy.
Speaking on the Sunday Politics Show, Sir Tom called for fiscal powers to be handed over as soon as possible and insisted that Scotland could not afford to wait for over two years to the referendum.
He said: “We can’t put things on hold for two years while we worry about this. We’ve got to make changes today.
“If people go, ‘well we’ll just wait until we know’, then two years is an awful long time in today’s business world.”
SNP MSP Chic Brodie said that the refusal of the anti-Independence parties to endorse full fiscal autonomy meant that independence was increasingly the choice of those who want to see more financial powers for the Scottish Parliament.
Commenting, Mr Brodie, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee, said:
“This is a positive contribution to the debate from another leading businessman who sees the fantastic opportunity that the referendum offers Scotland.
“More and more people are coming to the view that Scotland voting Yes to independence is the only way to get the economic and job-creating powers this country so desperately needs.
“The anti-independence parties speak about more powers short of independence, but if they don’t take the opportunity to put something concrete on the table it will only encourage more people to vote Yes – as the comments of Sir Tom Farmer, Jim McColl and now John McGlynn prove.
“These successful entrepreneurs recognise that the status quo is not good enough. They know from personal experience that we badly need a full range of fiscal levers to help grow Scotland’s economy and create jobs.
“This intervention from a Tory donor puts huge pressure on Ruth Davidson. The fact is, our leading businessmen want something more than just a promise of jam tomorrow – they want to see real fiscal powers being proposed.
“The SNP has ambitions to make Scotland better – and we will be making the case for a yes vote to the people of Scotland between now and the autumn 2014 referendum.”
The Scottish Government recently held a consultation on whether a third option should be included on the ballot paper. The responses are currently being reviewed by an independent company.
Currently the Scottish Government remain open minded about whether to add ‘Devo Max’ to the ballot paper, this would see all powers return to Scotland with the exception of defence and foreign affairs.
Unionist parties oppose any addition to the ballot paper and are insisting that Scots be given a choice between the status quo and independence.
Unionist parties are insisting that a decision is taken on independence before any further transfer of powers is discussed.