Heavy-handed tactics in the Scots independence race

So far, accusations of bullying in the Scottish independence debate have mostly come from the Yes camp, says the Financial Times.

Scottish National Party (SNP) leader, Alex Salmond, and colleagues have criticised Westminster over threats about the potential costs of separation, such as losing the pound and EU membership. But now Salmond stands “accused of employing heavy-handed tactics” to keep business leaders out of the debate.

A spokesman for Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) said Salmond had called its chairman, Sir Ewan Brown, to dissuade him from publishing a briefing on the referendum.

Gavin Hewitt, former head of the Scottish Whisky Association, told Channel 4’s Dispatches that he had been told by the SNP that there would be “retribution” if it got involved. The Yes camp and the Scottish government have denied the allegations.

The politically neutral SFE published a “scathing critique” this year, contradicting some of Salmond’s “most central claims on the country’s finances after independence”, says Ben Riley-Smith in The Daily Telegraph.

It warned that post-independence talks could take far longer than the SNP’s 18-month estimate, and that a separate currency was a “real possibility”. A spokesman for Salmond said he had merely been trying to ensure anything published was “properly balanced”.

Many are unconvinced. Last week David Cameron accused Salmond of exerting “huge” pressure to stop companies talking about potential pitfalls. Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, chief executive of the pro-independence Business for Scotland, retorted that firms weren’t speaking up for the No camp because their message was “simply not credible”.

Whatever the truth, the attitude of business has a “strong bearing on the credibility” of Salmond’s vision, says the FT.

Companies are “well placed to assess the pros and cons”. Local firms may fear alienating customers, but internationally minded companies such as Weir and Standard Life have been “more willing to speak their minds”, and should not be hindered from doing so.

Merryn

Claim 12 issues of MoneyWeek (plus much more) for just £12!

Let MoneyWeek show you how to profit, whatever the outcome of the upcoming general election.

Start your no-obligation trial today and get up to speed on:

  • The latest shifts in the economy…
  • The ongoing Brexit negotiations…
  • The new tax rules…
  • Trump’s protectionist policies…

Plus lots more.

We’ll show you what it all means for your money.

Plus, the moment you begin your trial, we’ll rush you over THREE free investment reports:

‘How to escape the most hated tax in Britain’: Inheritance tax hits many unsuspecting families. Our report tells how to pass on up to £2m of your money to your family without the taxman getting a look in.

‘How to profit from a Trump presidency’: The election of Donald Trump was a watershed moment for the US economy. This report details the sectors our analysts think will boom from Trump’s premiership, and gives specific investments you can buy to profit.

‘Best shares to watch in 2017’: Includes the transcript from our roundtable panel of investment professionals – and 12 tips they’re currently tipping. The report also analyses key assets, including property, oil and the countries whose stock markets currently offer the most value.