Tomorrow Alex Salmond, the pro-independence Scottish First Minister, will debate the head of the “Better Together” campaign, Alistair Darling. Salmond will have his hands full addressing the latest public relations blow for his movement. As the Telegraph reports, more than 100 executives who do business in Scotland will release a statement against independence just before the debate. The group is helmed by Keith Cochrane, the chief executive of the Weir Group, an important engineering firm based in Scotland. More:
Planned as the most comprehensive and powerful statement from the Scottish business community to date, the business list is expected to include bosses from publicly listed companies and retailers, as well as financial services leaders and an army of small and medium-sized business leaders.
Those approached include City heavyweights such as Donald Brydon, the chairman of Royal Mail; Bill Gammell, the former Scottish rugby player and boss of Cairn Energy; Angus Cockburn, interim chief executive of the power company Aggreko; and Ben van Beurden, chief executive of the oil giant Shell. However, the bulk of the list is deliberately made up of small and medium-sized business managers and entrepreneurs
This extends a series of public anti-independence statements, including ones by JK Rowling, the Pope, and more than 200 celebrities. But this one could sting especially hard, since popular concerns about fiscal and monetary policy are the central weakness in the independence cause. Never in recent memory have leaders across business, culture, and religion been so aligned on an issue. If the Scottish independence movement survives that, it will be a stunning victory for populism—but a loss for Scotland.