Employers' boss to face stronger SNP
‘Damaged’ CBI to unveil new Scottish director
The organisation has been without a Scottish leader since long-serving Iain McMillan (pictured) retired from the post in early October and its absence from political and economic debate in Scotland since the September referendum has been noted.
In a statement issued to Daily Business this weekend, the CBI said: “The recruitment process is continuing and we will be able to announce an appointment in the New Year.”
The delay in filling the post has fuelled suspicion that there have been few takers for the job after the CBI suffered a backlash over its controversial decision to register with the Electoral Commission as a supporter of the No campaign.
It prompted some members to resign and questions to be raised as to whether it was appropriate for it to register at all.
After initially defending the decision, director-general John Cridland said it had been an “honest mistake” and the CBI cancelled the registration.
But the fall-out from the affair has been deep and long-lasting with some critics even claiming CBI was finished as force north of the border.
Daily Business understands that none of those who resigned had rejoined by the time McMillan left – some six months after the row erupted. McMillan said five business organisations left, three of which were supporters of independence, but a number of public sector bodies felt compromised by the registration and also resigned. The BBC did not resign, but domiciled its membership elsewhere. The only broadcaster to resign was STV.
McMillan, who had been a staunch opponent of independence on behalf of the membership, said his resignation after 19 years was not connected with the issue but had been discussed with Cridland some time earlier.
He told Daily Business in his last ever interview in October that he did not believe the CBI had been damaged by the affair.
His parting shot, however, was to tell the Yes campaigners that “they were lucky to have lost”.
It is not known who is on the shortlist as his replacement, but the job will once again pitch the CBI into battle with a Scottish government that remains determined to press on with the independence agenda.
The SNP government will also be armed with more tax powers and backed by polls indicating that support for separation has grown since the referendum on 18 September.