Friday, 13 May 2016

Business for Scotland: Where are They Now?

Followers of chokkablog will be aware that Business for Scotland is an SNP front designed to give the nationalist cause a veneer of business respectability. As this blog detailed back in June 2014, their membership was fleshed out with non-business people alongside (often well-meaning and decent) small businesses who had no interest in trade with the rest of the UK.  In August 2014 this blog went on to highlight the closeness of their ties with the SNP.

Following the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary elections I thought it might be worthwhile to do a "where are they now" update on some of the key players.

Let's start with the founding Directors of Business for Scotland (BfS) who were in position as of 11/2013;

  • Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp: a failed SNP councillor candidate, although he resigned as a director in March 2015 the BfS website still lists Gordon as chief executive. He appears to continue to spend his time churning out pseudo-economic, ersatz-intellectual waffle for both the BfS website and the not-so-discerning readers of his regular column in SNP fanzine "The National"
  • Jim Mather: the former SNP Minister for Enterprise, Energy & Tourism, Jim resigned as a Director three months after the independence referendum. Maybe he felt he no longer had anything to add?
  • Michelle Thomson: Yes that Michelle Thomson. After leaving her role as Managing Director of BfS (three months after the referendum) Michelle was elected as an SNP MP in 2015 before being suspended from the party as police investigate her property dealings
  • Ivan McKee: Ivan also resigned from BfS three months after the referendum. After providing support for the SNP at Westminster (which Michelle Thomson described as "invaluable") Ivan has now been elected SNP MSP for Glasgow Provan
  • Ian McDougall; You know what's coming don't you? Ian resigned from BfS three months after the referendum. He was selected as an SNP list candidate for West Scotland in the 2016 election (but failed to gain a seat).
  • Tony Banks: Tony founded Balhousie Care Goup which is "one of the leading providers of care for the elderly in Scotland" and as a result (as explained in its most recent accounts) has "a significant level of income generated through local government and across of range of local authorities". Tony also resigned as a director of BfS three months after the referendum. He went on to back Stewart Hosie's bid to become deputy leader of the SNP before presumably focusing his attention on such matters as digesting the findings of the Scottish Government's Care Standards Review which was published in April 2015.
  • Les Meikle: Les is MD and owner of Wise Property Care, a company with "branches throughout Scotland". Les also resigned from BfS three months after the referendum.
So of the seven Directors who were in place in November 2013 all but one resigned in December 2014. Since then one was elected as an SNP MP, one as an SNP MSP and one was a failed SNP list candidate.

But wait, there's more ...
  • Richard Arkless: Richard was an active member of BfS during the referendum (he spoke against me at a Business Insider debate) and was elected as an SNP MP in 2015
  • Michelle Rodger: was also an active member of BfS during the independence referendum and became a director of BfS in January 2015. Michelle was selected as an SNP list candidate for West Scotland in the 2016 election (but failed to gain a seat).
  • Sarah-Jane Walls: although her profile seems to have been removed from the BfS site, Sara was listed as a member in 2014 and appeared on TV as a "Leisure Industry Businesswoman" (although she might more appropriately have been described as a Yes Scotland Board Member). According to the Herald she became an SNP member "who has set her sights on Westminster and is one of a number of candidates in the running to be the party nominee in Stirling". This did not work out well.
Finally - for those thinking this apparent party affiliation may be just a series of concidences - the Herald revealed after the referendum that SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell was personally providing guidance on the structure of the board and how they focused their activities.

All of which means you might be surprised to learn that the description appearing on Business for Scotland's About Us page still1 reads
"Business for Scotland is an agenda setting, independent and political party neutral business network and business policy think tank."
I guess you just have to laugh and hope nobody reading the biased misinformation they produce is fooled anymore.

1. 13/05/2016


Anonymous said...

Isn't the Ian Blackford on your original article the guy who is also now an SNP MP ?
(or a different Ian Blackford ?)

Is your Ian Blackford this this Guy ?

and this Guy ?

and this Guy ?

Tony Banks has probably had other things on his mind than the SNP this year

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back after a lull, Kevin.
Is there anyone left in this organisation?
If there is, who would do business with anyone so lacking in self-respect?

Andrew Veitch said...

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp was quite simply one of the most foolish and dishonest people I've ever come across. His famous article denying that the UK bailed out the Scottish banks was particularly hilarious. He also managed to avoid raising any of the actual arguments for independence from a business point of view. If the SNP want to have another go then they really do need to rebuild Business for Scotland with some serious people in it.

Anonymous said...

They phoned my work during the lead up to the referendum, trying to get businesses to attend one of their meetings,and introduced themselves as an organisation supporting the SNP. Guess he accidentally went off script or had lost the ability to lie.

Anonymous said...

How does Mackintyre Kemp earn dosh ..model for Play people ?

Anonymous said...

As ever useful blog Kevin.

There are others...Sandy Adam of Springfield Homes, supports both bus as a board member and financially. His company develops lots of social housing. Had Sturgeon as guest of honour at Homes For Scotland lunch in 2014 where she coincidentally announced a further £40m help to buy support.

Anonymous said...

So a group who openly supports Scottish independence, which of course was democratically rejected in 2014, had many of its senior members resign 4 months after that vote, with many standing for or being elected for the SNP.

So what?

It makes sense that following defeat in the referendum Business for Scotland would not continue campaigning at the same intensity, or that many senior figures would move on, as quite possibly happened in pro-Unionist groups too (I have not researched this so obviously cannot say that is correct).

More significantly, having left their positions these people are absolutely entitled to stand as SNP candidates, and given their support for independence it is hardly surprising they stood as SNP candidates as opposed to the Conservatives or Labour...

Of course the main point here is that Business for Scotland claims to be politically neutral, whilst the evidence points to deep-routed SNP support. Firstly, it goes without saying that an entity can be politically independent and not become involved in party politics despite views of its employees and management being much more partisan.

Secondly, as I already said, this is an independence supporting group, of course these people are going to be inclined to support the SNP!

I am not looking for an argument nor am I arguing the nationalist cause, but I do think the unionist argument can be undermined by constantly trying to accuse independence supporters of some kind of underhand corroboration against the best wishes of democracy.

Yes, the organisation claims to be party-neutral, but that does not mean it does not hold a similiar ideology to the SNP, and that a lot of its (former) directors support the SNP.

Is it really so shocking, there is nothing wrong with supporting independence after all, as there is nothing wrong with supporting the continuation of the Union.

Anonymous said...

Good to see you back, Kevin.
Is there anyone left in Business "for" Scotland?
If there is, who would do business with anyone so lacking in self-respect?

Kevin Hague said...

It's a demonstrable fact that it's not a "political party neutral" organisation.

Kevin Hague said...

Unfair on members - there will be well meaning members who joined because they support independence, nothing wrong with that. It's the positioning of then organisation from those at the very top that I consider highly questionable

Kevin Hague said...

See my reply below - wrong to judge all members of the organisation harshly

Kevin Hague said...

I'm not sure - will check it out later

kailyard rules said...

Kevin Hague, the fastest crayon in the west, now the master of gleeful self righteous indignation aimed at some business people who happen to be SNP. This is just yet another SNPBAD! inksquirt smelling of sour grapes and intolerant frustration. What is your point Kevin?

Smudge. said...

What about Sandy Adam,, Springfield Construction, Elgin. This bloke is alleged to have donated £100.000 to the yes scampaign. In return, he had his photo taken with Herr Sturgeon, and allegedly recieved some nice contracts from the Scittish Government. He's known as a "Cronie".

Smudge. said...

As I said in my post about Sandy Adam,, a CRONIE.

Kevin Hague said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kevin Hague said...

My point (obviously) is that they shouldn't claim to be "political party neutral" when they so clearly aren't

John Silver said...

Just out of interest, Kevin, I very much got the impression some time ago that you claimed to be "political party neutral"
If I am correct ( & I have every confidence you will correct me if I am wrong) do you continue to make this claim?

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous who posted on 13 May 2016 at 14:30 who said ..

"Yes, the organisation claims to be PARTY-NEUTRAL, but that does not mean it does not hold a similiar ideology to the SNP, and that a lot of its (former) directors support the SNP." sense of awareness at all. One is expected i presume to truly believe that it was all completely random and unexpected that so many BfS members "had Damascus moments" after the Indy vote failed, suddenly joined the SNP and made such an good impression on their local SNP groups from being total strangers so quickly that they were almost immediately selected to stand as SNP candidates by Sturgeon and co ?
Articles in the press produced by McIntyre-Kemp and BfS were no more than dishonestly re-manipulated data and lies designed to support the cause for Indy.
A search on this Blog alone for Business for Scotland or McIntyre-Kemp will reveal Kevin's own many de-bunkings of BfS produced false propaganda.
But there are many more to be found on the Internet ie

Anonymous said...

No great surprise that a blatantly partisan organisation should be grabbing favours from the party it has supported. I suggest that the better stick to beat BfS with has always been the fact that almost without exception its membership has consisted of economic nonentities, who do little or no trading outside Scotland's borders, and so have no real conception of the possible impact of independence on trade with rUK or world. Their parochial, "little pond" perspective has always mirrored that of the SNP, so makes them ideal party candidates, I would have thought. The business equivalent of Ally's Tartan Army. rocoham

Anonymous said...

Didn't Richard Arkless own business comprise, almost exclusively, of selling light bulbs from his front room or have I been completely misinformed?
He must have been a valuable addition to BfS.

Anonymous said...

I believe there is something wrong with supporting independence now. Maybe for the indy ref vote people could plead ignorance as the yes campaign spread misinformation. However now we know all the independent projections were correct and we would be starting £10bn worse off; Salmond has admitted we wouldn't have had currency union; we also now know the fairy tale of having 113 dollars per barrel for 40 years was ridiculous; my god even Humza nonchalantly said they all want rid of the queen but said they would keep her as it may have harmed their cause. Anyone who still considers independence is doing it in full knowledge it would be cruel for the people of Scotland!

Kevin Hague said...

I think it's fair to say that Richard Arkless's business didn't amount to much - he said as much himself during the debate where I met him

Kevin Hague said...

John Silver

I have always been very clear about my position - it's laid out here >my bona fides - I explain my biases and preconceptions explicitly. That description remains unchanged from when I wrote it 2 years ago.

To my recollection I have never claimed to be "political party neutral" - maybe you should look at what I actually said when I set out to write this blog?

"But let me be absolutely clear about this: as far as "self-interest" is concerned I am socialist in outlook and believe in wealth redistribution; I have never voted for a tax cuts or out of narrow self-interest.

I should also be clear that I am emotionally, instinctively, intuitively in favour of retaining the Union, my heart is against separatism. I will attempt to focus on arguments of the head but I can't promise I will always succeed in keeping my heart out of it."

Anonymous said...

YES Board member Sarah Jane Walls (aka Sarah Jane Hunter) has a string of failed businesses (public domain info). Of her last two: The Residence (Glasgow) she tried to dissolve but striking off action has been suspended twice - who knows by whom but I would guess HMRC?; The Yoga and Pilates Place struck off early April for failure to file annual return and accounts. However, despite being dissolved and no doubt bona vacantia, this company continues to trade - if their website and social media are anything to go by. Methinks this person has an aversion to paying taxes and thinks nothing of 'stealing' the assets of one failed business to move them on to the next. Oh, and she incorporated yet another business mid-April.

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know that those visiting the Business for Scotland Fb page can no longer 'like' any comments that voice a conflicting opinion to their distinct business model.

A visitor to the page cannot 'like' a comment critical of the page's heavily biased editorial.

They also remove critics who have had the temerity to question their world view.

Economics should inform political opinion, and be integral to any politcal party, imo.

Criticism is a healthy part of the democratic process. All scientific principles require critical analysis or the analytic process becomes propaganda, and loses all credibility.

The BoS editors seem to disagree, yet try to maintain a veneer of respectable business decorum.

Dreadful or what?

Unknown said...

kevin you said many times you would correct your blog if it was wrong

its wrong, very wrong.

every one of your analysis (every page every blog) assumes 1 pound in 1999 is worth the same as 1 pound in 2016

thats 20 years fv , and you clearly dont know what your presenting here . its drivel

you need to discount all those numbers to pv , otherwise your analysis sucks . big time . its like comparing buying a house in london in 1999 to 2016 . got it ?

kevin blocked me on twitter me lets see if he wants to block his own blog

Kevin Hague said...

David - I didn't block you I muted you for being obstinately dense - I publish this comment so others can see that.

1. The cash figures I use are real (inflation adjusted) as is standard practice see OECD, IFS, NIESR, IPPR, HMT, etc. etc.

2. % GDP figures don't require deflating as has no affect (numerator and denominator both see the same adjustment so cancel out)

3. The SG present GERS in nominal terms (not even inflation adjusted let alone "discounted")

4. I'm very familiar with concepts of discounted cash flow, net present value, weighted average cost of capital and the capital asset pricing model (my day job involves quite a lot of corporate finance, I have been an investor and advisor on many venture capital deals, I have carried out several large-scale project and business valuations) - you have yet to make any coherent argument as to how these concepts should be applied when comparing and explaining fiscal balances between countries

If you make a coherent argument and/or offer some analysis to show what on earth you're talking about I will of course share it and/or offer comment.

Anonymous said...

Just been on the BfS website. They appear to have shut the shop and taken a month off over December 2016. Much of the stuff on the website appears way out of date, advertising events that took place up to a year ago as "Upcoming Events", and some article about currency union with a photo of George Osborne on the Home page. Most articles are pro independence/SNP biased stuff and out of date.
Not a good advert for business in Scotland, more of an embarrassment.