Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Business for Scotland - Who are these people?

Hardly a week goes by without a major Scottish employer raising concerns about Scotland leaving the UK. These range from massive employers like Standard Life and the Weir Group, to smaller outfits like the Orion Group. Even CBI Scotland has raised concerns with MSPs. Support for the SNP case is less clear. We know that tax exile Jim McColl  and "devout capitalist" Brian Souter support the nationalist cause, but other than that support is thin on the ground.

To paper over this crack, SNP's #YesScotland have Business for Scotland. BfS is described as a "business network for pro-independence business people and professionals".  Business for Scotland produce highly biased "analysis" on a broad range of topics (not just business related). They also claim to have 1700 members. Out of the reported 1700 members, their website lists a modest 60 or so. Who are these people? What companies do they run? How many people do they employ? Lets take a look:

Oops, let's remove the unknowns:

I have listed the members at the bottom of this page. It appears that most are shy about the name of their company and/or its size - I am sure they are all genuine. Perhaps I should have heard of some of the others, but I have't. Inspection shows that many are very small - either sole traders or perhaps part-time efforts. This is not a bad thing, but it shows that Business for Scotland is no counterbalance to the detailed and independent judgements made by companies such as  Standard Life and the Weir Group, or even smaller outfits like the Orion Group. Remember this. 

What about the other 1640 members BfS claim to have? Without any information, we can only make assumptions. To avoid this uncertainty, I would like to challenge BfS to list all of their members, the name of their companies and their size. Why wouldn't they want to do that? 

Postscript: Since publishing this blog, Douglas Fraser has said "Business for Scotland says it's got more than 1700 individuals signed up as members, though it's a long way from having them all named on its website... 'yes' support is largely coming from smaller businesses, and typically ones that trade only in Scotland.".

List of BfS members (let me know if you spot an error)
  • Richard Arkless runs LED Warehouse Ltd (established May 2013)  - number of employees not noted, but he has "over 13000 fans on Facebook".
  • Tony Banks runs Balhousie Care Group which "employs over a 1000 staff" (not all full time). However, despite being a BfS director, Banks insists Balhousie Care Group is “neutral” in the independence debate.
  • Bruce Alexander runs Xeroshield - it appears to employ him and one other person. 
  • Ian Blackford - non-exec director of a number of companies, including Ricky Nicol’s Commsworld - number of employees not noted.
  • Ken Cairnduff - no company name noted. 
  • David Cairns - no company name noted. 
  • Chris Chirnside - no company name noted.  
  • John Cooke - no company name noted.  
  • Adam Davidson runs a BoConcept franchise- number of employees not noted. He doesn't trust the BBC, but does trust all manner of nationalists bloggers. 
  • Ron Dickinson - no company name noted. 
  • Fraser Duff - no company name noted.  
  • David Dwyer runs Inspire Web Development (Inspire IT Services) - number of employees not noted
  • Eric Flannigan - no company name noted.
  • Paul Fletcher - no company name noted. 
  • Alex Grant - Retired from BMI.
  • Rachel Homes is a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University. She asserts that “to compete and flourish, Scotland’s financial services sector needs the fiscal powers that Luxembourg has in the taxation regime for investment funds".
  • David Hood - no company name noted. 
  • Martin Jack - no company name noted. 
  • Joe Lafferty runs Lifetree - it appears to employ him and one other person. 
  • Mark Lister - no company name noted. He feels "Thatcher purged inefficient industries, but didn’t tackle the causes or instigate alternatives. Neither has anyone else since her".
  • Andy Lamb does not run his own company but works for ECCS Group. 
  • Paula Livingstone - is the founder of Rustyice Solutions and Apogee Internet - number of employees not noted.
  • Andy Lythgoe - no company name noted. 
  • Helen MacDonough - no company name noted. 
  • Ian McDougall is MD of McDougall Johnstone - number of employees not noted.
  • David Macfarlane - no company name noted.
  • Donald Maclean runs Business Cost Consultants (not listed with Companies House) - number of employees not noted.
  • Dave McGrath is Managing Director at Richard Irvin Sustainable Energy Limited - number of employees not noted.
  • Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp  - no company name noted (other than BfS).  Interestingly, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is a failed SNP candidate. 
  • Eric McLean runs McLean CC (not listed with Companies House) and e-Diligent Ltd (established May 2012) - number of employees not noted.
  • Ivan McKee - no company name noted (other than BfS).
  • Catherine McLean - self-employed.
  • Sheila McLean - no company name noted. 
  • Ken McNeil is the principal of McNeil Stevens Financial Planning (not listed with Companies House) - number of employees not noted.
  • Les Meikle run Wise Property Care - number of employees not noted.
  • David Morrison - no company name noted. "He knows the signs of a dying business and GB plc is certainly that." - strong case for currency union! 
  • Brian Murray - no company name noted. 
  • Jil Murphy is a partner ThinRedLine Design (not listed with Companies House) - number of employees not noted.
  • Ricky Nicol runs Commsworld  - number of employees not noted.
  • Douglas Norris - no company name noted
  • Eunice Olumide - no company name noted, but she is a "global super model"!
  • Jim Osborne is a retired insurance claim investigator.
  • Jamie Rae - no company name noted.
  • Andrew Richardson - no company name noted.
  • Susan Robertson no company name noted.
  • Ben Rogers does not run a company, but is  is currently Digital Lead at GFI Software.
  • Michelle Rodger runs Tartan Cat Communications (not listed with Companies House - number of employees not noted.
  • Thomas Scott - no company name noted.
  • Gary H Sutherland runs EmployEasily HR Services Limited and Business Hub Limited (not listed with Companies House - may be based in England) - number of employees not noted.
  • Philip Stewart runs Kangaroo Print and Advertising (not listed with Companies House - number of employees not noted.
  • Peter Syme - no company name noted.  
  • Iain Taylor runs e-corporate which is a "virtual law firm" (listed with Companies House as a Dormant Company).  
  • Michelle Thomson - no company name noted (other than BfS). 
  • Malcolm Wadia is a Director of Plysim  - number of employees not noted. 
  • Kenneth Wardrop - self-employed. 
  • Sarah Jane Walls runs The Residence Glasgow and Transdynamic. "The Residence is Scotland’s first fully equipped Pilates facility offering Mr Pilates’ full range for the first time in Scotland at this level."- number of employees not noted.
  • Gerry Wallace is Managing Director of GEM Lift Services Ltd - employs less than 10 people. 
  • Charlie Watt - no company name noted. 
  • Willie Wilson - no company name noted.
  • Ekaterina Zelenkova - no company name noted. 


  1. Mate, you need to ask for donations and look up these companies on Companies House Webcheck. Outstanding mortgage payments, companies registered that haven't filed any accounts, etc etc. I reckon £200 or so will be enough to investigate how much they contribute, or wether they are just shells.

    1. Oliver,
      I fear my lack of time and expertise may be a bigger barrier. Let's hope a keen journalist runs with this. I had quick look and found many appear not even to be listed with Companies House.

    2. @BrigadoonGent, @Keith Steele There are many people who are "sole Traders" and as such DO NOT have a 'Company name', ARE NOT limited companies (not registered with company house) and DONT have employees. BUT are the salt of the earth backbone of this country contributing greatly to this country.

    3. I am well aware that sole traders don't have to register, but some of the limited companies that have registered have failed to submit their accounts, indicating they are no more than empty shells or failures, others have outstanding mortgage payments. Some companies are actually registered under different (similar) names, to the same address as on their websites.

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  3. Why aren't you demanding the same sort of information from CBI Scotland? People might get the impression that you have some kind of agenda.

    1. I have shown that BfS is not credible. Feel free to do the same for the CBI.

    2. You have shown no such thing. You have demonstrated nothing more than your own ill-informed prejudice.

      Business for Scotland is an organisation supported by over 1700 people who actually run businesses in Scotland. Its membership is increasing daily. Every member signs a declaration of support for independence.

      If that organisation has no credibility then what might be said of a group which is embarrassed to declare its membership numbers? A group which is shedding members almost as fast as BfS is gaining them? A group which refuses to even consult its members on the issue of independence?

      You really didn't think this one through, did you?

    3. Who are these 1700 people? What companies do they run? How many people do they employ?

    4. How many members does CBI Scotland have left? Who are they? What companies do they run? How many people do they employ?

      If these are valid tests of the credibility of BfS then the same goes for CBI.

      You REALLY didn't think this through, did you?

    5. Lack of answer noted.

      BfS is Nationalist group looking for any support it can get. CBI Scotland is a business lobby which has concluded independence is a bad idea for jobs.


    6. I responded in a meaningful way. Something you are obviously unable to do.

      How long will it be, I wonder, before my responses are deleted in the hope of saving you embarrassment? That's standard operating procedure for British nationalists.

    7. Peter you have put point across petty solidly from what i have seen.

    8. It was BfS who were asking these kind of questions re the CBI, so surely they can't object once the scrutiny is reciprocated.

      Your point reminds me of certain websites which exist to critique others, but when they're scrutinised they cry foul and shout 'troll' and 'stalker' etc.

      Unfortunately for you scrutiny and accountability can't be a one-way process.

    9. Actually you don't need to have a business to be a member of BfS, nor any connection to industry. You only have to give a Name, Phone Number and Postcode. Oh and sign up for a declaration that says you 'believe' that 'Scotland will be the wealthiest nation in the world', something I doubt any sensible business would sign up to as it's a blatantly lunatic statement. CBI on the other hand has no declaration as it is apolitical and it does however require a Company Name, Company HQ Postcode and Sector. I think it is plain to see the difference in legitimacy Peter A Troll.

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  5. Just doing a quick check I find the claim that no company name is provided for Iain Taylor is a lie. His firm, e-corporate, is clearly identified in the very first paragraph of his BfS member profile.

    How many more lies will I find when I have time to look?

    You really, really didn't think this through, did you?

    1. And Iain Taylor doesn't provide a *company* name either. That make you a liar then, Peter? Lolz.

    2. Presume you've seen this now > http://chokkablog.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/who-do-business-for-scotland-represent.html

  6. I think this is a really valuable contribution ignore Peter he's a fully paid up SNP cult member. I do hope you get the interest of a journalist to expose the nonsense this group puts out. I've pointed @dsmitheconomics at the site to expose the economic misinformation bus for Scotland distributes it really is garbage.

    1. @BrigadoonGent, @Keith Steele There are many people who are "sole Traders" and as such DO NOT have a 'Company name', ARE NOT limited companies (not registered with company house) and DONT have employees. BUT are the salt of the earth backbone of this country contributing greatly to this country.

  7. I am a Member of Business for Scotland and you didn't mention me or the other 1600 members. All you have is a list where people have written a profile. Not everyone has done this. Understandably when being scrutinised by a matter sleuths.

  8. @BrigadoonGent, @Keith Steele There are many people who are "sole Traders" and as such DO NOT have a 'Company name', ARE NOT limited companies (therefore not registered with company house) and DONT have employees. BUT are the salt of the earth backbone of this country contributing greatly to this country in both economic and social terms. It's a real SHAME you didn't THINK about this before posting your comments.

    1. Read what I wrote. I said that the fact that most of these companies are tiny is "not a bad thing". The economy does need small companies. However, small companies need big companies! As far as I can tell, no company which employs more than 10 people supports BfS.

    2. Problem is that anyone can set themselves up as a 'business' and call themselves whatever, but that doesn't really tell us very much, Caledonia.

      Registering as a limited company isn't that difficult either, in fact as I recall it registering as a plc isn't that onerous, but again it doesn't say very much about size or success, or whatever, and indeed many limited companies are dormant or do little in the way of trading.

      Unfortunately for BfS, if they want to scrutinise the CBI, it's membership etc, then it's hardly surprising that they'll be subject to scrutiny in return.

    3. By the way, Caledonia, there's nothing to stop a sole trader employing people, so to that extent it's surely instructive to ask how many people any BfS sole traders employee.

      Of course, everyone's entitled to their view irrespective of business size/structure, but again that seems to be the kind of scrutiny and questions BfS is asking of the CBI, so what's sauce for the goose...

      ('Sole trader' merely means that the business is run by an individual as opposed to a partnership or corporate structure, so it could either be composed of the proprietor themselves or the proprietor and any number of employees.)

  9. Interesting that BfS put forward this slightly convoluted portray of how they work and who they represent. Of course, this can essentially be used to deflect attention from scrutiny vis-à-vis the actual businesses BfS members represent. In effect, they simply claim BfS is composed of individuals who are involved in business, and the underlying business is irrelevant, so it could be anything of any size or success.

    "Each and every one of our members signs a business declaration in support of independence and they do so as individuals, not on behalf of their companies. We believe all companies must remain neutral but individuals can state their views freely."

    Contrast that with the questions they pose regarding the CBI, which has led to this week's resignations (although as I recall it only two commercial organisations have resigned):


  10. Stuart,
    Thanks for sharing your expertise - very constructive.

    1. Not so sure about the 'expertise', but you're welcome to the input, complete with typos!*

      Not sure if anyone else has investigated this in any great detail, but it would be interesting to know precisely what the BfS membership criteria is, and to that extent precisely what its membership figures represent.

      As well as the self-evidently broad criteria represented by the word 'business', as even the most cursory scrutiny of your own list makes clear you don't even need to have run a business of any kind to qualify - you could simply be an employee of another business. Indeed, some BfS members are employees of public sector organisations, so their qualification to represent 'business' seems tangential at best.

      So in effect it seems that a BfS member could represent a micro-business such as a self-employed taxi driver or hairdresser, or could work for Tesco as an employee on the minimum wage or as an employee of a public sector organisation.

      Of course, that's not to say that such views are invalid, but in view of the scrutiny that the CBI has been subject to in recent days with regard to its membership, representation, decision making etc, then it's surely pertinent to ask similar questions of Business for Scotland.

      So what precisely does being a BfS member mean other than supporting a Yes vote on 18/9 (presumably) and to that extent demonstrating an interest (however tenuous) in promoting business (however vaguely defined) in an independent Scotland?

      Moreover, the 'Join Us Now' page on BfS's website is suitably vague, apparently requiring little more than endorsement of the organisation's Declaration, which is essentially boilerplate Yes rhetoric.


      *Most obviously, when I said "it's surely instructive to ask how many people any BfS sole traders EMPLOYEE", I mean't "it's surely instructive to ask how many people any BfS sole traders EMPLOY".

    2. Agreed. It is time for BfS to put up or shut up. :-)