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?"

More on This Story

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Scotland stories

RSS

Scotland Live

  1.  
    09:33:

    The lawn bowls is well under way at Kelvingrove and netball and table tennis is coming up soon on day nine of Glasgow 2014.

    Follow BBC Sport's live coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

     
  2.  
    Ferry off 09:23:

    @BBCTravelScot tweets: Northlink ferries All scheduled sailings fM.V Helliar have been cancelled until further notice. M.V Hildasay will operate a temp timetable

     
  3.  
    Tributes for Ireland 09:16:

    Tributes have been paid to Scottish actor Kenny Ireland, who died aged 68 on Thursday.

    Kenny Ireland

    Ireland was best known for his role in TV comedy Benidorm.

     
  4.  
    Front pages 09:11:

    More medals, gender inequality and a false alarm over Ebola. Today's Scottish newspaper review.

    Front pages
     
  5.  
    Medal hopes 09:06:

    @ToomJourno tweets: .@BBCGaryR Silver medallist #EilidhChild says she's hoping for more medals at upcoming European Championships

    Gary Robertson with Eilidh Child
     
  6.  
    The back pages 09:00:

    There's been more reaction to Celtic, Aberdeen and St Johnstone's European defeats in this morning's newspapers.

    Read Friday's Scottish gossip.

     
  7.  
    Ebola update 08:59:

    Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland about how Scotland is dealing with any potential Ebola cases, Dr Colin Ramsay, of Health Protection Scotland, said: "There's been no programme of actively screening athletes simply because of the Commonwealth Games.

    "The situation is that if someone presents with symptoms suggestive of the possibility of Ebola virus infection and who has come from a country affected by the current outbreak - and that's Sierra Leone and Guinea and Liberia - they would be investigated accordingly and that would involve managing them with a set of standard precautions."

     
  8.  
    RBS claims 08:54:

    Royal Bank of Scotland has warned Scottish independence could have a "material adverse effect" on its business.

    The Edinburgh-based bank, 80% owned by the taxpayer, said a "Yes" vote in the 18 September referendum could cause uncertainty and hit credit ratings.

     
  9.  
    More medal hopes... 08:47:

    After the heroics of Eilidh Child, Alex Gladkov, Daniel Keatings and Daniel Purvis yesterday, Scotland have medal hopes in today's athletics, gymnastics and lawn bowls at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

    Bowler Darren Burnett contests the gold medal match in the men's singles against Canada's Ryan Bester and Scotland's fours team will also be competing for gold medal when they take on England.

    Adam Cox, Frank Baines, Keatings and Purvis are in gymnastics action and Lynsey Sharp goes in the final of the 800m at Hampden this evening.

    Read our day nine preview.

     
  10.  
    Travel news 08:43:

    @BBCTravelScot tweets: Police dealing with RTC on the A92 Ladybank. Road in Fife..there's a closure in place at the Northerly junction to Ladybank from A92

     
  11.  
    Euro woes 08:36:

    Last night was a disappointing one for Scotland's Europa League representatives in the third qualifying round first leg.

    Aberdeen defender Shay Logan and St Johnstone defender Frazer Wright

    Aberdeen went down 2-0 against Real Sociedad in Spain while St Johnstone were 2-1 losers at home to Spartak Trnava. Both Scottish Premiership sides face an uphill task to reach the play-off round.

     
  12.  
    Morning call 08:33:

    Cathy MacDonald (on today's Morning Call) asks: Do we really need alcohol on holiday flights, or does it mark the start of our bad reputation abroad?

    Also on the programme: Whose responsibility is it to look after you in your later years?

    Call 0500 92 95 00; text 80295; or email morningcallscotland@bbc.co.uk

    Listen on Radio Scotland from 08:50.

     
  13.  
    Clyde cone 08:07:

    Glasgow 2014 mascot Clyde has been paying tribute to the city's most famous statue.

    Clyde

    Michael Jackson-Matthews took this picture outside the Glasgow Victoria Infirmary.

    We'd love you to email us any images you have taken in and around the Games.

     
  14.  
    Games heroes 07:54:

    Missed any of the action from Day Eight at Glasgow 2014? We have a video catch-up of all the best bits.

    Eilidh Child
     
  15.  
    On the Fringe 07:44:

    "There's a six-and-a-half-foot drag queen in the ladies' bathroom. In leopard skin dress and towering platforms, he apologises but he's onstage any minute and the ladies is much closer than the gents."

    Drag queen

    Our arts correspondent Pauline McLean is looking ahead to the Edinburgh Fringe.

     
  16.  
    Avoid or be patient

    @trafficscotland tweets: Hotspot Map for August 1st - @GamesTravel2014 Day 9 Commonwealth Games - check busy areas here :)

    Glasgow map

    There's more detail in the Traffic Scotland website.

     
  17.  
    Ebola test negative 07:34:

    An athlete has been tested for Ebola and cleared at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, organisers have confirmed.

    Coloured transmission electron micro graph of a single Ebola virus, the cause of Ebola fever

    A spokesman for Glasgow 2014 said the competitor was given tests for a number of conditions after he fell ill last week and was admitted to hospital.

    Sierra Leone road cyclist Moses Sesay, 32, competed in his event, the men's individual time trial, on Thursday.

     
  18.  
  19.  
    Sunshine and showers 07:33:

    @BBCScotWeather tweets: Rain moving into south this morning, clearing northwards. Then a day of sunshine & heavy showers. N Isles dry til eve. Highs of 16 to 19C.JR

     
  20.  
    School closures 07:27:

    New rules on school closures have come into force across Scotland.

    Classroom

    Learning minister Alasdair Allan said they would provide "important safeguards" for rural communities.

    Local authorities will be required to carry out more rigorous consultation, especially before shutting rural schools

     
  21.  
    Good morning Sandy Murray BBC Scotland news

    Welcome to BBC Scotland's live coverage of news, sport, travel and weather on 1 August.

    I know, August already.

    We'll have reports from across the country, including all the best action from Glasgow 2014.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.