After the CBI registered last week with the Electoral Commission as a campaigner, allowing it to spend up to £150,000 in campaigning for a ‘No’ vote ahead of the referendum in September, around 20 big firms and universities quit the organisation in protest. And experts claimed its stance breached its own royal charter.
So, under heavy pressure, the usually slick CBI PR machine attempted a reverse ferret.
D-G John Cridland had the task of explaining why it had made the application in the first place (to continue business as usual) and why new ‘legal advice’ said this application was wrong and they were asking the Electoral Commission to void the declaration.
Cridland also said:
The CBI is politically independent and impartial.
And on the Telegraph website, a “CBI in quotes” blog posts reveals they believe this week has seen their “political impartiality” questioned.
Too right it has. A brief look at their website shows that, on independence, the CBI could not be further from political impartiality if it tried.
On the homepage, click through the banner on Scottish Independence and there is the CBI’s position in full, under the ‘News’ box:
The latest on the business case for Scotland staying the United Kingdom
Behind which are some pretty clear views on display from the very same John Cridland and a whole host of fact sheets claiming Britain is ‘stronger together’.
In a press release responding to a speech made by George Osborne, Cridland says:
Scotland’s long-term economic prospects are best served by keeping the Pound and the only way to guarantee that is by staying in the union.
And, under a post headlined “CBI Responds to Alex Salmond speech at SNP Spring Conference”, CBI policy chief Katja Hall says:
Drawing a line between Gretna and Berwick would create two diverging systems, which companies have said may result in them leaving Scotland, taking jobs with them.
Whatever your stance on Scottish Independence, this all seems pretty political and the Electoral Commission will have a hard job finding otherwise.