Scottish Industry Forum
The Scottish Industry Forum is a New Labour friendly business organisation chaired by Baroness Goudie. It was set up in 1995 as part of the campaign by the Labour party to cosy up to big business. This was one of the key mechanisms by which Labour proved to big business that it was no longer a threat and attempted to raise funding from the corporations thus lessening their dependence on the trade Unions. In 2008 it emerged that the Forum was being used to covertly bankroll the campaign of Wendy Alexander.
The founding of the forum was reported in the press thus:
- LABOUR will finally exorcise its bogeyman image among the Scottish business community later this month when CBI chairman John Ward shares a platform with George Robertson, Shadow Scottish Secretary, at a unique consultative conference for industry leaders. Senior executives from many of Scotland's leading companies will attend Labour's Scottish Industry Forum in Edinburgh on June 22, launching a dialogue between the party and the financial and industrial sectors which would have been unthinkable before the emergence of Tony Blair's New Labour.
- Among the companies attending are ScottishPower, United Distillers, Whyte & Mackay, Amerada Hess, Clydeport, the Scottish clearing banks and Scottish Enterprise. Debate is expected to concentrate largely on the impact of Labour's devolution proposals on Scottish business. "The aim is not to neutralise business opinion but to embrace it and get it thinking forward," Robertson told SoS. "We hope to allay the worries about devolution and highlight the opportunities. Access to markets will not be affected and there will be no powers to change corporation tax." Labour says the main purpose of the forum is to help it develop sound industrial strategies for Scotland based on non-doctrinaire dialogue with members of industry.
- "The forum will give industry a unique chance to get on the inside track to shape and develop policy," said Robert Stevenson, chairman of the forum and managing director of Robert Horne (Paper) Ltd. "I hope it will develop into something really powerful and prove that business has the ear of the Labour party." At the forum, John Ward, who is also IBM's director for Scotland and Northern England, will add to the debate by presenting the CBI's newly-published Scottish Business Agenda and outline the support it requires from government if it is to achieve its objective of wealth creation. Joining him on the platform will be Jack Cunningham, Shadow Industry Secretary and Alistair Darling, Labour's City spokesman, who will present the party's economic and industrial policy.
- Mr Robertson said that the parliament would specifically not have the power to vary corporate taxation or alter the system of banking regulation and supervision. He promised that this was an explicit commitment which would be spelled out by the founding legislation for the Scottish parliament, adding that a recent report by Professor Neil Hood showed that devolution would have no likely impact on inward investment.
In 1999 - in the run up to the first Scottish Parliament elections - it commissioned a survey on business attitudes to independence which unsurprisinbgly came up with the finding that:
- A survey of 100 leading businesses has revealed that 75% of Scotland's biggest companies feel that independence for Scotland would be worse for business. The survey was carried out by MORI Scotland for the Scottish Industry Forum, the independent business organisation. Interviewing was conducted by MORI on 6-15 January. Asked if full independence would be better or worse for business, as opposed to a devolved Parliament as currently planned, only 6% felt the business environment would be improved.
- ^ Scots Businesses Worse Off In Independent Scotland Ipsos-MORI, January 1999.