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Why I believe an Independent Scotland would be bad for business

Ruth McKay

As the debate over an Independent Scotland continues to intensify, the question has to be asked: is an Independent Scotland good for business?  With increasing pressure on small businesses I don’t believe enough thought has been given to the consequences of Independence and its impact on small businesses.

I love Scotland. I’ve lived here all of my life and I’ve chosen to base my business here, raise my family here and I am actively involved in my community.

However, I also love the UK and being British. One of the great benefits of being Better Together for me as a marketer is the flexibility we have.

You can promote yourself as being Scottish (think Scottish beef, whisky) or British (think tea, Olympics) and each one brings a slightly different perception and value with it.

As business owners in Britain we also have the advantage of having four ready-made markets on our doorstep – Northern Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland, each with their own distinctive personalities and attributes, yet each is an open market in which we can do business unhindered by yet more red tape and legislation.

Think of the additional costs we are likely to face if Scotland were to become Independent.

What impact would potentially being left out of Europe have on our already struggling and fragile economy? With no guarantees around banking and monetary policy, it creates a great deal of uncertainty, something which can be fatal in an economy and in business. How helpful is this at a time of recession?

If there is one thing we need as small businesses, and as a country on the whole, it’s confidence, certainty and a positive future. Surely it therefore makes more sense that we stay together as one and avoid the fate of Southern Ireland, Greece and Spain?

There is however a bigger, much more serious question which needs to be asked: what does it say to the rest of the UK should we choose to separate ourselves?

With clients and customers in England I personally would be horrified if they thought I’d voted for independence. I can’t believe that some of them at least wouldn’t choose to go with a local, English supplier and keep the business in their own economy, something I’m sure many Scottish people would then do.

That’s the point though isn’t it – it’s like Scotland’s closing its doors on the rest of the UK saying “Actually we don’t need you. We can do it ourselves”. I know what my response to that would be if I was English, Welsh or Irish.

As I’ve said, I love Scotland, but I also love the flexibility of having a dual brand to work with. I believe we have a far greater strength as a collective and much more to offer the world if we do it together.

If you were running Scotland as a business what would you choose? The power and strength of a collective of small businesses (Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales) or go it alone in what is one of the toughest economic environments since the 1920’s?

Whatever you believe or feel about an Independent Scotland…remember to vote. It does matter.

Ruth McKay is Regional Vice Chairman Federation of Small Business Scotland and a senior executive of marketing consultancy UNIQ. [email protected]  She is writing here in a personal capacity.



Scotbuzz wants to hear from you…

  • How do you think independence will affect small business?
  •  Do you think it might stimulate the economy if corporate taxes are lowered as the SNP argues?
  •  Do you agree with Ruth that we’re better off together?
  •  Or do you believe it will not make much difference to business at the micro level?

If you have a view you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to email us to broaden out discussion of this important issue.