Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Just a little bit more on CBI Scotland/Dummy's guide to the CBI Scotland carry on.

Lots of things being highlighted around CBI Scotland and its Scottish members leaving in droves, I might have posted something sooner but I was busy ensuring none of my ribs had snapped from laughter.

I understand people are busy, so if you want a much shortened version of this particular offering, just scroll to the end and read the last sentence.

John McMillan, a fervent supporter of the union - not that he's been trying to sway votes right enough
You see, CBI Scotland - in the form of Iain McMillan (Scottish Director A.K.A. Regional Manager for Scotland) - frequently went out of its way to claim it had a mandate from its Scottish members around its stance on the independence referendum. More recently (and more bizarrely) John Cridland (Director General of the CBI - Iain's boss) said the CBI wasn't seeking to sway the opinion of voters while mentioning at every turn he/they thought the idea of Scottish Independence was crap.

I mean, they applied to the Electoral Commission as an official supporter of the no campaign, meaning they could spend up to £150k - ummm - telling people it officially opposed independence plans... Not that they were trying to change any minds you understand.

I DID IT... MY WAAAAAAYYY... (This is John Cridland by the way.)
Now, John Cridland (the boss) is telling all who will listen that the application to the EC was a mistake (the Office Junior - reportedly also Head of Campaigns - got idea's above his station) and that the CBI had since applied to the EC to nullify their application. Also, the CBI will no longer be campaigning one way or the other, which I'm not sure I believe. They're going to withdraw entirely from the debate - which is presumably why Iain McMillan has announced his retirement, all he seemed to do was criticise the idea of Scottish independence; he'll have nothing left to do anyway.

Meanwhile, the BBC said it would only be suspending (which seems a bit cheeky given BBC rules around impartiality) its membership of the CBI - the now strictly uninvolved business lobby group, (not that it'll be doing any lobbying mind.) John Cridland ordered all views around the UK constitutional settlement & politics in general to be surgically removed from staff (especially the wee scamp who filled out the application form for the Electoral Commission.)

Or something...

Why is it funny? Well its schadenfreude really. CBI Scotland coveted their 'mandate' to speak for Scottish business, often pointing it out before uttering something negative about independence on behalf of its thousands of Scottish members - a lot of folk didn't believe a mandate existed because the CBI don't publish a membership list. When the CBI signed up as an official no campaign group - a lot of their Scottish members (not to put to fine a point on it) fucked off. .

Even if you're not a political saddo -that's quite funny.

Meanwhile, John Cridland is being accused of scapegoating Iain McMillan. The official CBI response was that McMillan had planned to take early retirement two years ago.

From here
Having said that, in the same article:

Are we splitting hairs? Are we being pedantic? Are the CBI just commenting on the facts around the independence debate and those comments just happen to be against? Or are they flailing about desperately trying to rebuild a semblance of competent impartiality? 

When Iain McMillan proclaimed...

From here.

... Was it just him being honest & affable but definitely not trying to sway your vote? After all, its not like the Confederation of British Industry have anything to lose if Scotland votes yes. (And who ever says Scotland would be a land of milk & honey anyway?)

CBI Scotland sounds like a cheap rip-off from one of those American detective shows - NCIS this or CSI that. But you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to get the gist of it. 

  • They applied to the Electoral Commission to officially campaign for a no vote with out breaking electoral laws.
"Ok, tell me more"
  • 18+ of their Scottish members left because they don't want to be seen endorsing either side - or the no campaign in particular. 
"That's quite funny..."
  • Now, Cridland says this was an action about which senior management (i.e. him) knew nothing about.
"Awwww, nearly had me there."
  • The CBI have requested that their application be nullified but it has nothing to do with Scottish members leaving.
  • Oh aye, and Iain McMillan is getting the boot - sorry, retiring.
"You're fired!"
He also says (and continues to say) the CBI is non-political and isn't trying to affect the way people vote in the referendum in September - its just that they have a mandate and feel the need to comment on behalf of its many, many Scottish members (well, not as many as it used to be,) and really; its just unfortunate that those comments are invariably and relentlessly negative because you know, its just such a crap idea. 

Finally, CBI Scotland won't reveal how many Scottish companies are now members, it could be as few as seventy. Meanwhile, Business for Scotland which openly and unabashedly supports Scottish self determination boasts a membership role of some 1500 Scottish companies and rising. 

From Business for Scotland:

Inflated Membership NumbersIt is often said that the CBI have 24,000 Scottish members.  This is not the case.
In January this year The Telegraph reported
… “the CBI did not represent the views of companies north of the Border, pointing to Business for Scotland signing up 1,100 (now 1,800) members. However, this is dwarfed by the CBI, which has around 24,000 members in Scotland that employ 630,000 people”.
“The same article then goes on to say: “The CBI has around 240,000 members across the UK”.
The 24,000 figure is used over and over again on websites and in the media and we believe it is not possible for the CBI to have either 24,000 Scottish members or 240,000 UK members.
CBI Scotland Council member Anthony Rush has admitted, that the CBI may only have around 100 members and “he does not know where the true number of Scottish companies lies.”  The CBI is so secretive about its membership numbers that even some of its Council Members do not know how many they have.  Business for Scotland highlights that there is no evidence that the CBI have more than 70 companies – the vast majority of which take a neutral stance on Independence and were not consulted on the CBI’s support for and involvement in the No Campaign.
To put it another way, since this story broke on Friday, 73 Scottish business people have joined Business for Scotland – that may be more new individual members for Business for Scotland over this weekend than the CBI has organisational members from Scotland.

If representative/s of CBI Scotland or CBI London are talking about Scottish Independence - the odds are; they're either misrepresenting the truth, providing misinformation or flat out lying.


  1. Pa

    I never took anything the CBI said seriously , it has been obvious that they were representing big business from England in the main who had vested interests. They did however piss me off no end, and the BBC branch in Scotland, who reported everything they said as fact as if it had been discovered beside the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    They have got themselves into a panic because their decision to be an official no campaigner, which they are, resulted in Scottish members being identified and they shat themselves. No one wants to be associated with the no campaign for obvious reasons, you associate with them then you admit that Scotland is too wee, too poor and too stupid, which they think we are anyway.

    I know that Margo mcDonald asked that whatever the result in Septmeber it is only politcs and people need to get along and work together, my head says that makes sense but my heart and my life experience tell me that it won't happen because we have rubbish political parties and politiocians and Westminster will make Scotland pay and we can do nothing about it.

    The CBI are just taking us all for being thick, as they always have, they will cmapaign for a no vote as they always have and the BBC will report it as fact as they always have. Funny seeing them with the fear thought.


  2. The CBI have got themselves into a right mess. As an organisation with a Royal Charter they have given up a certain amount of freedom to act independently, they're constrained by the terms of their charter and have to submit themselves to government oversight ( from the Privvy Council Office). They declare themselves to be politically neutral and it's only under those terms that they can continue to exist as an incorporated body. On the question of membership numbers, the CBI would have been required to submit details at the time they applied for Royal Charter status and I assume these numbers are kept, updated and maintaned by the Privvy Council Office. A freedom of information request might provide insight.

  3. Hi Bruce.

    That's the thing about the CBI, they are/were always so adamant about having some sort of special place to comment, its definitely come back to bite them. As Leslie Riddoch said, they're just another right of centre business orientated think tank with London leanings.

    And you're quite right about what Margo Said, but then No voters might say the same thing - the adamant "no's" are sure our side are telling fibs. No idea how they can maintain that stance with a straight face - its not that the Yes side aren't asserting certain things (we're dealing with likelihoods based on real politik.)

    The no side on the other hand are either lying outright or blatantly misrepresenting information.


    Membership numbers of CBI Scotland seem to be an abiding mystery, I dare say someone will have done an FOI request, although one wonders what subterfuge they'll deploy to not answer.

    Callum Cashley was an eager person in this area. No idea if he's still chasing them.

    Would the numbers they submit to the Privy Council be accurate?

    Over and above all that though, the CBI are hoping all this will be swept under the carpet and forgotten, they're already engaged in a campaign of denial of reality.

    A common trait for those who wish to perpetuate the union.

  4. Someone published a list of organisations who were members of CBI in Scotland on Wings a couple of weeks ago as a comment on one of Stuart's posts.

    I counted them, and if I remember rightly there were 90. Many of them were universities or other public bodies like Scottish Enterprise.

    Since then many of the public bodies have left because it is inappropriate for them to be members of a politically biased organisation (possibly, in particular, one which holds different views from their funders, ie Scottish government, although that's a guess on my part).

    I'm sure that various people have tried to get information from them about their membership. (I remember Mr Cashley working on it).

    I imagine that their connection with the Privy Council probably affords them some protection from us normal folk whop want to know something about them. The royal connection seems to allow organisations to do more or less what they want.

    What I find most amusing is that this is a management organisation. They advise managers. That seems to be their raison d’ĂȘtre... and yet they have mismanaged this with knobs on.

    I am "amused" rather than "astonished" because it reminds me of the Dundee and Tayside Chamber of Commerce which went into liquidation because it was so incredibly badly managed.

  5. So true.

    It has been spectacularly botched, why it hasn't being reported more widely is a mystery... Oh hold on, no its not.

    CBI are just another stalking horse for unionists. How many people truly believed they were ever impartial?

    Probably none. I don't even think they do.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?