Since I've already questioned the validity of CBI Scotland in commenting on Scottish business affairs, I thought that it might be worthwhile having a look at Scottish companies which aren't members of the CBI to see whether I was perhaps being unfair, to see whether it was, perhaps, la creme de la creme of Scottish businesses that CBI Scotland represented, the bluest of blue chip companies. There is no definitive register of Scottish companies that I can find; I can't get hold of the IDBR and Companies House doesn't let you search on company location so I may have missed some businesses but these are a few that I found that I think we can say are fairly successful Scottish companies who are not members of CBI Scotland:
Arnold Clark - Glasgow (I think) motor vehicle dealer with substantial business.
Aggreko - Headquartered in Glasgow, operates around the world.
Axis-Shield - Dundee company operates internationally.
ASCo - Aberdeen, global operations.
British Polythene Industries - Greenock, operates internationally.
CJ Lang - Dundee, operates fairly large shopping operation.
DP&L - Dundee, shipping mainly, now includes travel and property businesses.
AG Barr - the makers of Irn Bru!
DC Thomson - the printers of the Beano.
Baxters - the soup people.
Johnston Press - Newspaper types.
Tunnocks - even in French it looks like a tasty company.
John Menzies - biggest paperboy in town.
Keyline - Glasgow based builder's merchants.
MacFarlane Group - Glasgow again, operates internationally.
Miller Group - Edinburgh housebuilder, biggest in UK.
Morrison Construction - like Bob the Builder but much, much bigger.
Motherwell Bridge - you'll never guess where this company is based but it operates all over the world.
Wiseman Dairies - provides almost one third of all the milk consumed in the UK - from East Kilbride!
SSE - energetic bunch
Scottish Investment Trust - investment managers with a decent size of portfolio.
Stagecoach - transport all over the world.
Abbot Group - Aberdeen based, works around the world.
Tennents - terrible adverts but still a substantial company.
Aberdeen Asset Management - Aberdeen company (surprising, eh?) with £178.7 billion of assets under management and advice; that's quite a bit.
Pelamis - wave tamers.
Alexander Dennis - international bus builders.
Linn - fantastic sounds
Schuh - Livingstone company, rather successful in the footwear area.
Simclar Group - around the world from Dunfermline.
Visioncall - seeing clearly from Cambuslang.
This isn't an exhaustive list, obviously, nor even a great chunk of Scotland's businesses. The point I'm hoping to demonstrate is that CBI Scotland doesn't represent Scottish businesses, not even a substantial proportion of Scottish businesses. Some might try to argue that the best of Scotland's businesses are members of CBI Scotland but I'll contend that these companies listed here are every bit as good as the companies listed yesterday - and there are thousands more. Being a member of CBI Scotland neither marks them as leaders nor as anything else, merely members of a club - a club which is not representative of Scottish business and whose spokesman doesn't seek to represent their views, just to get himself a headline or two.
As I said yesterday, the contrast with the FSB is marked. That organisation gets fewer headlines because it does not view getting the headline as a good in itself, it does good work and gets benefits for its members by making informed comment and by lobbying all parts of the active Scottish political world. The quality of a boat isn't determined by the turbulence of its wake - and often the turbulence indicates a problem. If I were running one of those companies that contributes thousands of pounds to CBI Scotland I might be wondering at the moment what, exactly, I get for my money. How does it advantage member companies for Mr McMillan to indulge his own ego and pursue a narrow political agenda?
Perhaps they get good political advice? I might look into that.