Wednesday 5 January 2011

CBI Scotland - who does it speak for?

I was intrigued by the latest bombast and nonsense from Iain McMillan of CBI Scotland in his New Year message when he criticised the Scottish Government's pursuit of a policy that was in the manifesto on which it got elected - independence.  Mr McMillan's anti-SNP politics have been played out in public in the past and his membership of the Calman Commission and Labour's literacy commission have called his impartiality into question but I thought it might be worthwhile taking the time to look past the blinkers that he wears and look at who it is that he actually represents; of which tribe is this man a tribune?

Scotland has 296,780 business enterprises - up 1,400 in a year and up 17,290 since the SNP came to power; a performance during a recession that exceeded the performance of the previous three years when times were good - of which 1,500 have more than 500 employees and a further 3,655 have between 50 and 249 employees - 4,155 substantial Scottish businesses - 2,265 of the medium sized enterprises are headquartered in Scotland and 430 of the large ones; that's 2,695 substantial businesses not only operating in Scotland but headquartered here (an increase in percentages from previous years) - and then there are all the small Scottish-owned enterprises to add - another 146,065.  You would think that CBI Scotland, whose Director gets so much media attention, would have a fairly big percentage as members.

CBI Scotland doesn't publish its membership online, more's the pity, but the CBI has a business directory which you can browse at your leisure, and I did just that.  You don't have to be a member of the CBI to get listed so not every business listed will be a member but I reckon that the number of businesses which would pay for the listing without being members would be fairly small so I went right through the entire directory and noted which ones had Scottish addresses and found that CBI Scotland's membership is, at most, 90.  That's not a typo, it's 90 - nine zero.

Of that 90, though, 3 are universities, 1 is the commercial arm of a university, 9 are quangoes or publically owned companies (TIE and SECC are the companies), 8 are trade bodies, 1 is a BID district, 6 are branches or subsidiaries of other companies, and only 62 are Scottish companies.  62 out of the 148,760 Scottish companies - 0.04%.  I'll try to be fair and acknowledge that it's unlikely that many small enterprises would think of joining the CBI (although there is some evidence that this is not strictly true) and I'll just take the larger and medium sized enterprises - 62 out of 2,695 or 2.3% - hardly speaking for the vast swathes of Scottish business opinion.  Additionally, I know that directors and owners of some of these companies are SNP supporters or have already expressed their appreciation of the work that has been done by the SNP Scottish Government.

The Federation of Small Businesses in Scotland, by contrast, has more than 20,000 members and we hardly hear from them although they appear to put out more comment than CBI Scotland.  Could it be because FSB Scotland contributes positively and meaningfully to public debate in Scotland, quietly winning support and benefits for its members and that doesn't make for good stories while the rather more florid utterances from the CBI do?

For everyone's delight and delectation and for the purposes of sharing information, here is the full list:

Robert Gordon University
Glasgow Caledonian University
College of Arts and Social Sciences (part of Dundee University)
GU Holdings Ltd (commercial arm of Glasgow University)

Quangoes and similar
Skills Development Scotland
Scottish Enterprise
Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership
Investors in People Scotland
Business Stream (part of Scottish Water)
SECC (91% owned by Glasow Council)
TIE (Edinburgh's favourite tramline layer)

Trade Bodies
Food Trade Association Management
Graphic Enterprise Scotland
Homes for Scotland
Publishing Scotland
Scottish Building Federation
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
The Scotch Whisky Association

BID district
Essential Edinburgh

Branches or Subsidiaries
AG Holdings
Conoco Phillips
ISS Facility Services Ltd
Weber Shandwick

Companies (split into business sectors)
Banks and financial inc insurance and investment
Airdrie Savings Bank
Alliance Trust
Clydesdale Bank
Royal Bank of Scotland Group
Standard Life
Weir Group
Imes Group Holdings
Balmoral Group Holdings
Hydrasun Ltd
PR & Consultants, etc
BiP Solutions
Chance Associates
Core Solutions Group
Glen Abbot Ltd
James Barr
Laura Gordon Associates
Liddell Thomson
Millstream Associates
Munro Consulting
SI Associates
Gupta Partnership
Energy, Oil and Marine
Aquamarine Power
Cairn Energy
Scottish Power
Wood Group Management Services
Ledingham Chalmers
Maclay, Murray & Spens
Morton Fraser
Shepherd and Wedderburn
Elphinstone Holdings
Lochay Investments
Townhead Properties
Construction & Supplies
WF Watt (Contracts)
Miller Group
Stewart Milne Group
McAlpine & Co
Mactaggart & Mickel
The rest
Devro (food wrappers)
Havelock Europa (furniture)
Henry Winning & Co (string & twine)
ICS (education)
John G Russell (transport)
Kube Networds (telecom)
M Computer Technologies
Memex Technologies (electronic shop equipment)
Morris Leslie Group (various)
Scottish Leather Group
STV Group
Coverdale Organisation (training)
Edrington Group (distillers)
Skene Group (hotels)
Tomatin Distillery
Tullis Russell Group (paper)

So there you have it - the membership of CBI Scotland.


David Farrer said...

Excellent work Calum

ianbeag said...

Congratulations on a very diligent and valuable piece of research to debunk the foolish comments of this buffoon. I suspect that most of those organisations listed had little or no input into the views he expressed and unlike them he makes nothing, employs no one, creates no wealth - just another parasite.

Administrator said...

Sterling work Calum. Interesting to note STV among their members.

mealmaker said...

Good job, C!
Like most such "authorities", the CBI only succeeds through smoke and mirrors. Don't let up...pull one thread and their whole mythology rattles doon!

Anonymous said...

Not surprising Jacobs are in that list... were and maybe still are heavily involved in the Nuclear Power and weapons industries (Engineering). This American owned firm swallowed up the Babtie Group (originally Babtie, Shaw & Morton).

Doubt there fully behind the prospect of removing Nuclear power & Weapons from Scotland.

I used to work for them.

Matt Quinn said...

I'm curious about your numbers and proportions. Although your point about the CBI is well made...

But as far as I'm aware 96% of businesses in Scotland are microbusinesses. And as such largely invisible and ignored by everybody!

If you imagine those tiny, mainly family firms are 'insubstantial' to the people who make their living off them or own them - i.e.e the majority of busness people in Scotland, think again!

Calum Cashley said...

The smallest companies are not invisible to the Federation of Small Businesses - mentioned in the post.

They will be the drivers of Scotland's future economy; their contribution already recognised by the Scottish Government in the Small Business Bonus.


Hugh Mason said...

What you ignore, Calum, is who the CBI speak for in Scotland. They represent all of Scotland's biggest companies. RBS, Standard Life, Weir, Aggreko, AG Barr, McAlpine, etc., etc. They may not be a numerically large group, but together represent a huge proportion of the employment and wealth generation in Scotland. Therefore, the SNP ignores them at their peril!

There was an (admittedly one-sided) article in the Telegraph the other day about how no SNP members turned up to the CBI Scotland dinner recently. No successful independence movement in history has won without the support of major industry. Therefore the SNP has to win the argument, rather than ignoring the CBI and hoping to appeal to general Scottish opinion. At the end of the day, if the union pays the wages, people will not vote for independence, and the burden of proof that it will benefit business is on the SNP.

On the other hand, organisations such as 'Business for Scotland' are a farce. It has few members, few business members (they're mostly politicos!) and those that are are hardly 'successful businessmen' when measured against the CBI (though no disrespect to them). The SNP therefore has to engage with CBI Scotland and its members; without them independence simply won't happen.

Tom Duffin said...

Hugh, Your comments are interesting, but you reach some bizarre conclusions. Why would the captain of any industry be able to control the referendum votes of those working for their company. Do you really imagine that voters in Scotland will go ask the boss who or what to vote for? Otherwise, what does your assertion that "without the CBI independence won't happen", actually mean.

Why do you choose to brand Business for Scotland a farce? They started small, but are growing rapidly, and attracting a lot of attention with their very thorough and intelligent analysis of the economics of independence. They are totally independent of any political party, and frankly, if the CBI presented as thorough an economic case for voting No, as they have done for voting Yes, then the debate would be much better for it. Instead we have a steady dirge of negative scary press releases from the CBI, which would seem to demonstrate that there is no such positive economic vision there, just a desperate attempt to hold onto the reins of entitlement and power in Scotland.