Independence mind games pitch heads against hearts

By Anton Colella

19 June 2014

Anton's Account: Reflecting on the ICAS Independence debate in Edinburgh and the appeals to engage heads and hearts.

At this morning's ICAS conference, Scotland's Future – an Independent Debate, we heard arguments from both sides of the political divide, urging us to back their way of thinking.

Those backing the Union urged us to use our heads. Those supporting Independence told us to listen to our hearts.

The founder and Chairman of Clyde Blowers Capital, Jim McColl, who supports the Yes camp, went further and asked us to engage our right brain and let it conquer our left.

The right is said to be intuitive and subjective while the left is analytical and objective.

No prizes for guessing which side is preferred by many CAs in their everyday work!

Keith Cochrane CA, the Chief Executive of the global engineering company, Weir Group, told us staying with the Union was a no-brainer. He thoroughly engaged his left lobes with a comprehensive analysis of the added costs and risks of creating an Independent Scotland and placing a border between Scottish companies and many of their customers in England.

The pollster, Mark Diffley, showed his latest poll which suggests that around 60% will vote No against 40% Yes. He added that a third of voters still remain undecided. Down from 50% in November. Sixty per cent of those undecideds say their hearts are telling them to vote Yes but their heads are telling them to vote no.

This ICAS conference, supported by our sponsor KPMG, was a great example of how we are fulfilling our charter obligation to act in the public interest while remaining neutral in this febrile debate.

I was particularly pleased that members around the world– in the Netherlands, France, Germany, the States and Canada – joined us on the live video stream.

One must be cautious about the praise of politicians. But Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, was fulsome in praise for your Institute for being at the forefront of this debate while staying impartial.

While mentioning our thought leadership on tax and pensions, he added, "I commend you for the very important public service that you have been providing."

Much of our work in this space of the Independence debate is over now. We will continue to arrange debates and respond, if necessary, to matters in our specialist areas.

With only 90 days to go the politicians will now take centre stage. They need no reminding that the only poll that really matters is the one on September the 18th.


  • Political landscape

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