Magazine article Public Finance

Scots Business Leaders Come to the Aid of the Parties

Magazine article Public Finance

Scots Business Leaders Come to the Aid of the Parties

Article excerpt

Labour's battle to retain power at Holyrood and prevent a Scottish National Party victory received a much-needed boost this week when leading personalities, including top business figures, declared their support for the continuation of the Union.

The decision of 150 of the 'great and the good' to back the Union publicly came just 24 hours after the SNP published its own list of business backers. Both come in the wake of opinion polls showing that the nationalists could overtake Labour as the largest party in the Scottish Parliament at the May 3 election. The initiatives highlight the extent of the division in the business community over whether Scotland's economy would be best served by independence or by remaining in the Union.

The list of personalities supporting the Union, including major figures in academia, sport and music as well as finance and industry, was published in a newspaper advertisement on April 25, the day Chancellor Gordon Brown addressed a business breakfast in Edinburgh.

Brown is believed to have been involved with the organisers in persuading the personalities to put their names forward. He has launched several strong attacks on the SNP, claiming the party has refused to answer key questions on the economics of independence.

Those publicly named this week as backing the Union include David Reid, the chair of Tesco, and Peter Balfour, the chief executive of Scottish & Newcastle breweries. Several former top executives in banking were also involved, including Sir Peter Burt, the former Bank of Scotland chief who chaired the committee of inquiry into local government finance. …

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