Scottish independence: Referendum debate 'needs to improve'

saltire and coins Almost a fifth of the companies who responded said they would at least consider leaving Scotland in the event of a "Yes" vote

Both sides of the independence debate need to "step up their game" in the final months of the referendum campaign, according to a survey of Scottish businesses.

The survey for the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) found more than half of respondents rated the level of debate so far as "poor" or "dismal".

Issues around currency, taxes and business rates were found to be the most important for firms.

A total of 759 businesses took part.

Nearly a fifth said they would consider moving away from Scotland in the event of a "Yes" vote.

The research was commissioned by the SCC, which represents small businesses across Scotland, and carried out by the Economic and Social Research Council.

It found 56% of respondents rated the quality of the independence debate so far as either "poor" or "dismal".

Start Quote

Business deserves better and all politicians should approach this debate with mutual respect and not petty point scoring”

End Quote Liz Cameron Scottish Chambers of Commerce

None described it as "excellent", with 5% saying it had been "very good" and 41% saying it had been either "good" or "fair".

Information provided by pro-independence campaigners has been found to be more useful that that issued by the pro-UK campaign, the survey suggested.

It found 36% of respondents believed information issued by the Scottish government had been "useful" or "very useful". The figure for the Yes Scotland campaign was 40%.

In comparison, information from the UK government was described as "useful or "very useful" by 16% of respondents, with the Better Together campaign faring slightly better on 19%.

The UK government information was described as "useless" by 30% of the businesses surveyed. Only 11% of respondents used that term to describe information from the Scottish government.

Among the other key findings were:

  • 18% said they would at least consider moving away from Scotland in the event of a "Yes" vote
  • 53% of businesses saw potential opportunities from independence, while 77% identified potential risks
  • 62% wanted an independent Scotland to retain sterling as part of a formal currency union with the rest of the UK in event of a "Yes" vote
  • 68% of businesses would welcome more powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a "No" vote
  • 61% believed leaving the EU - while remaining part of the UK - would have a negative impact on their business

Liz Cameron, chief executive of SCC, said many businesses were currently weighing-up the opportunities of independence against the risks, saying there "remains a fine balance".

She urged both the pro-independence and pro-Union campaigns to come forward with "direct answers" to the questions highlighted by the survey.

Mrs Cameron added: "The various political analyses do not seem to be hitting the mark as far as business is concerned.

"There is a clear message that with just four months left before voters go to the polls, politicians and the campaigning groups need to considerably step up their game. We urge the campaigns to rethink their engagement strategy and come forward with direct answers.

'Pivotal time'

"We challenge each political party to detail which powers it would bring to Scotland, when, and how it would use these to Scotland's economic benefit.

"This is a pivotal time for Scotland's economic and social future. We are beginning to experience an upward trend in our economy, but business deserves better and all politicians should approach this debate with mutual respect and not petty point scoring."

Ms Cameron also urged the Scottish government to draw up "detailed contingency plans" around the currency.

The Scottish government has long favoured a formal currency union with the rest of the UK should Scotland vote "Yes", a position that has been ruled out by UK Conservative chancellor George Osborne, and the other main parties at Westminster.

European Union

She also said the UK government should address concerns around the UK's membership of the EU - the Conservatives have said they will hold a referendum on EU membership if they win the 2015 UK general election.

The Better Together campaign said the number of businesses claiming they would consider leaving Scotland in the event of a "Yes" vote highlighted the risks of independence.

A spokesman said: "A Yes vote in September would see us having to reapply for membership of the EU and we would have no idea what conditions would be attached to that application.

"It would also mean that we would lose the pound as our currency. It is little wonder that businesses are so concerned about it."

A Yes Scotland spokesman said independence offered major opportunities for businesses.

"The real uncertainty for business and for Scotland stems from a No vote," he added.

"Business for Scotland is one of the fastest growing pro-independence groups across the wider entire Yes movement with some 1,900 members, and increasing daily.

"This in itself demonstrates that more and more small and medium seized businesses - which are the backbone of the Scottish economy - appreciate the benefits and opportunities that taking responsibility for managing our own affairs and economy present."

The referendum on Scottish independence will be held on 18 September. Voters will be asked the Yes/No question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

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    James Millar bronzer medal

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    Hannah Miley with her medal

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    Andrew Robertson

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    Louise Renicks

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    Hannah Miley

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    Kimberley Renicks
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    Kimberley Renicks wins her final

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    John Buchanan from Broxburn, Scotland's bronze medal winner
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    John Buchanan
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    Kimberley Renicks
    Fandabidozi 18:21:

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    Aileen McGlynn wins silver
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    John Beattie with the Scottish judo team Buchanan
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    Stephanie Inglis

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    Aberdeen fans in Groningen

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    Hampden 24 July
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    David Cameron at Emirates Arena

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    15:38: Via Twitter

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    Jayde Taylor

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    Ross Murdoch is congratulated by Michael Jamieson

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    Sea life

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    Silver sisters 14:23:

    Judo player Louise Renicks has told BBC Scotland's Keir Murray of her delight at reaching the final of the -52kg category - matching sister Kimberley's achievement in the -48kg event.

    Louise Renicks

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    Top Scots 14:19: Keir Murray BBC Sport Scotland

    tweets: Just to confirm, all six @Team_Scotland judo players in action today can win medals this evening. It's a great achievement.

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    Footage of volunteers after opening ceremony

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    Silver Scots 13:48:

    Scotland was guaranteed its first medals after sisters Kimberley and Louise Renicks reached their finals at the Commonwealth Games judo event.

    The sisters were quickly followed by Stephanie Inglis, who has reached the -57kg final.

    Kimberley Renicks

    Kimberley Renicks was first to win her semi-final in the -48kg event.

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    Royal visit 13:38: Via Twitter

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    The Queen watches the hockey

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    Goldrush begins 13:27:

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    Jodie Stimpson
    Celtic 'fan' out of Games 13:19:

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    Lomalito Moala

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    John Barrowman at the opening ceremony

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    Tough competition? 12:49:

    Tonight's 200m breaststroke final has just hotted up significantly after Team Scotland bagged a one, two, three finish in the heats at Tollcross.

    Michael Jamieson, who hopes to win gold later, came second to teammate Ross Murdoch, who set a new Games record of 2:08:78.

    Macdonald to sing at Ryder Cup concert 12:23:

    Scottish singer Amy Macdonald will perform with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra at a special concert to mark the Ryder Cup.

    Amy Macdonald

    The USA and Europe teams will be at the event at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on 24 September.

    Kenny progresses in track cycling 12:16: Via Twitter Alistair Bruce-Ball Cycling commentator

    tweets: Jason Kenny, Philip Hindes, Matt Crampton (Eng), Callum Skinner (Sco) & Lewis Oliva (Wal) all through to next rnd of men's sprint

    Disappointment for Ramsay 12:11: Via Twitter Keir Murray BBC Sport Scotland

    tweets: My heart's aching for Connie Ramsay, who lost -57kg quarter-final v Canada's Jessica Klimkait. She gives everything to judo. Bronze maybe?

    Keeping Glasgow moving 12:03:

    Police Scotland, the army and 15,000 volunteers are in Glasgow to help keep the host city running.

    Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games

    Read more about the logistical operation in place for the Games.

    Medal alerts to your phone 11:52:

    If you want to know who wins when at Glasgow 2014, check out the BBC Sport app. Here is a guide on how to set up the alerts on your phone.

    Bowls banter 11:41: Graham Fraser BBC Scotland

    As Norfolk Island begin their lawn bowls campaign today against Canada, read the story of the island's sports minister Tim Sheridan who has left his briefcase at home and will take part in his third Games in Glasgow.

    You can watch the lawn bowls competition live.

    Bring it on... 11:30:

    Stuart Brown sent us this selfie with his wife Rachel and daughter Phoebe as they wait for the gymnastics to start at the Hydro.

    Stuart, Rachel and Phoebe brown

    Tweet us your pics using #ScotlandLive, or email them here.

    Scottish clubs in action 11:23:

    Three Scottish clubs are in action tonight in second legs of Europa League qualifying.

    Motherwell will be in Iceland to play UMF Stjarnan, with the first leg finishing 2-2. Kick-off is at 20:15.

    Motherwell vs UMF Stjarnan

    St Johnstone, meanwhile, are at home to FC Luzern after drawing 1-1 with the Swiss last week. The action gets under way at 19:45.

    Finally, Aberdeen are in Holland to play FC Groningen. The sides played out a goalless draw in the first game. Kick-off for that one is at 18:30.

    There will be updates of all three games Radio Scotland and the BBC Sport website.

    Opening ceremony - your views 11:17: Via Email

    James in Glasgow: The opening ceremony definitely gave a very warm welcome to all our visitors and made a great impression for the city on the world stage. I'm a very proud Glaswegian today! PS: Are there any Scottie dogs still for sale in Scotland?!?

    Steve Bruns tweeted: Embarrassing is the word that springs to mind.

    Alex Gray tweeted: I loved the Opening: great to see such variety esp my favourite musician, Nicola Benedetti.

    Great Scotties 11:05:

    The wee Scottie dogs that stole the show as they accompanied each nation around Celtic Park at the opening ceremony have become an internet sensation.

    Scottie dog

    Fans have been taking to Twitter - of course, they now have their own hashtag, #ScottieDogs - to show their love. And it seems some of the canines lived up to their breed's reputation for stubbornness.

    Jacqui McKinnon told BBC Breakfast her pet Jock unexpectedly staged a sit-down protest.

    She said: "The dogs dealt with it really well; it's just Jock decided he wasn't walking. As soon as I put his Malaysia coat on he thought 'I'm sitting down'. So Jock was the one who was carried around the Celtic stadium."

    Miley sets Commonwealth record 10:54:

    Hannah Miley has qualified for the 400m Individual Medley final after winning her heat at the Tollcross International Swimming Centre.

    Miley set a Commonwealth record to win the race with a time of 4:38.27. The final will take place just after 19:00 tonight.

    You can watch the swimming heats live on the BBC Sport website.

    Unicef appeal reaches £3.1m 10:47:

    The fundraising appeal for children's charity Unicef made during the opening ceremony of the Games has reached £3.1m.

    James McAvoy and Chris Hoy

    More than 500,000 people in the UK responded after watching an appeal by James McAvoy and Sir Chris Hoy at Celtic Park.

    A total of 595,000 people have made donations by text alone, Unicef UK said, with many more contributing online.

    Millions tuned in 10:33: Via Twitter BBC Scotland

    tweets: Last night's coverage of the #Glasgow2014 #OpeningCeremony was watched by a peak audience of 9.4m on @BBCOne!! #bbcglasgow2014

    Opening ceremony - your views 10:24: Via Email

    Ray: The Opening Ceremony had warmth, humour and inclusivity in its organization. Loved it. It was also great to see John Barrowman pronouncing to the world through his same sex kiss, that it's safe to be LGBT in Scotland. Bravo Glasgow, Bravo Scotland, Bravo John Barrowman.

    Lorna: Wonderful event. Great idea to raise money for children, however why did red arrows not show Scottish colours of blue and white instead of red, white and blue?

    Sandra: Thoroughly entertaining display. But the gay kiss was completely unnecessary, with disregard for the feelings or attitudes of many of the other participating countries.

    Anna in Galloway: The first 10 minutes or so were cringeworthy and the singing was dire! It definitely improved as time went on, although I feel I must be alone in the country as I did not like the Scotland team's outfits or "the kiss"!

    Irene in Kinross: Sir Chris Hoy is an honorary Clydesider!!! I loved the way he graciously stepped forward to help with the baton and then stepped back. An example for us all.

    What do you think? Tweet using #ScotlandLive, email us here, or text to 80295.

    Farah's 'tough' decision 10:04:

    Double Olympic champion Mo Farah has described his decision to pull out of the 5,000m and 10,000m events as Glasgow 2014 as "tough".

    Mo Farah

    Speaking from his training base in the south of France, he added: "I really wanted to add the Commonwealth titles to my Olympic and World Championships but the event is coming a few weeks too soon for me as my body is telling me it's not ready to race yet. Best wishes to my fellow athletes in Glasgow."

    Team England Chef de Mission Jan Paterson said: "It is a real blow for any athlete to miss out on a major championships through injury, but to have fought so hard to regain full fitness and to have to take such a difficult decision at this stage is particularly hard."

    Farah out of Games 09:58: Via Twitter BBC Sport

    tweets: Team England have confirmed that Mo Farah will not compete at the #Glasgow2014 Commonwealth Games

    Today's weather 09:55: Gillian Smart BBC Scotland Weather Presenter

    Mist and low cloud will burn off to leave another day of strong sunshine and rising temperatures.

    We'll see 25C to 28C quite widely, with 29C possible in parts of the north and south west. Eastern coasts will be cooler, with haar at times.

    See my full forecast.

    Glasgow from the sky 09:52:

    Scotland's largest city has changed over the years in preparation for the Commonwealth Games.

    Glasgow from the sky

    BBC Scotland's Chris McLaughlin took to the skies to see how the Games have transformed the city's landscape.

    BBC at the Quay 09:47: Via Twitter BBC Scotland

    tweets: Here's what we have in store @BBCthequay today: free entry, big screen & comfy deckchairs too!

    BBC at the Quay

    Some tickets are still available here.

    Opening ceremony - your views 09:36: Via SMS

    Chris in Hamilton: Nicola Benadetti couldn't help smiling as the crowd joined in with her amazing performance of Loch Lomond.

    Calum: Nicola Benedetti was fantastic - shed a tear at that. Not so keen on Barrowman's pantomime singing but I thought it was pretty great and we should be proud.

    Anon: What a great idea to incorporate fundraising for such a good cause into this high profile event

    Letty from Aberdeenshire: Thought it was great, only complaint was Rod Stewart - why? He is not Scottish in any way, Proclaimers would have been better choice.

    Anon: The first part of the ceremony made me cringe with its tweeness. Why is so much Scottish TV so excruciatingly naff? And surely we have some great personalities who could have presented it? Parts of the ceremony were OK though.

    Baton hitch 09:19:

    It spent ten months travelling around the world, but last night we had to wait just a little longer than expected to hear the Queen read her message from the inside the baton.

    Problem with Queen's Baton at opening ceremony

    Watch as Prince Imran of Malaysia, the Commonwealth Games Federation president, struggles to open the Commonwealth baton.

    Sir Chris Hoy - ever the hero - was on hand to help out, before Prince Imran eventually managed to remove the message much to the relief of the monarch... and the organising committee.

    Glasgow Kiss 09:11: Via Twitter Nicola Sturgeon

    tweets: So many brilliant moments last night, but the new-style Glasgow Kiss had to be one of the best #openingceremony

    Glasgow kiss
    Morning call 09:09: BBC Radio Scotland

    This morning, like everybody else, we're talking about last night's opening ceremony. presenter Kaye Adams wants your views: did it represent us the way you would want?

    Elsewhere, two prisoners serving life sentences say rules that bar them from voting in the referendum breach their human rights and are taking their case to the Supreme Court. We're asking: should prisoners be allowed to vote in the referendum?

    Lines are open. Call us on 0500 92 95 00, text 80295 or email

    You can listen to the debate here.



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