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Jim McColl joins entrepreneurs in call for independence details

TWO more leading Scottish entrepreneurs have criticised a lack of proper debate by the country's political leaders before the independence referendum.

BALANCE: Sir Tom Hunter called for hard facts in The Herald yesterday .  CLARITY: Tycoons such as Jim McColl, who runs the Clyde Blowers empire, want more details on independence. Picture: Jamie Simpson
BALANCE: Sir Tom Hunter called for hard facts in The Herald yesterday . CLARITY: Tycoons such as Jim McColl, who runs the Clyde Blowers empire, want more details on independence. Picture: Jamie Simpson

Engineering tycoon Jim McColl has accused the pro-Union camp of "scaremongering" and the Yes Scotland group of failing to respond with thorough analysis.

Sir Tom Farmer, the Kwik Fit founder and past financial supporter of the SNP, also said there had been a lack of facts and figures put forward by the opposing factions.

Mr McColl, who emphasised he had no political axe to grind, warned proper analysis of the key issues would have to come from both sides because the people of Scotland "aren't stupid".

His criticism follows comments from fellow entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter about both sides failing to provide answers to the key questions.

Mr McColl, one of Scotland's richest men, said: "I don't think there is really a debate going on just now. I think what is happening is there are just statements and, in some cases, very misleading statements, statements that are more like scaremongering, rather than a proper debate.

"I am just assuming that this will flush through and, at some point, we will get debating what the real issues are."

Asked if this remark about scaremongering was aimed more at one side than the other in the independence debate, Mr McColl replied: "There seems to be a rush recently of just scary stories put out by the Better Together campaign."

Mr McColl, who runs the Clyde Blowers engineering empire, added: "I don't know if they are both holding fire because, if you let your argument be known too soon, someone will come out and find a way to oppose it. I don't think we have got on to the proper honest and open answers, rather than just saying here is another scary story."

Asked if he was disappointed about this situation, Mr McColl replied: "Yes, I am. I thought it would be much more honest and, I suppose, authentic discussion, rather than the scaremongering."

He cited currency and pensions as areas where Better Together had failed to deliver facts. He added Yes Scotland had merely responded to questions raised by the pro-Union campaign with "kind of just bullet-point statements."

Mr McColl said: "I am sure, from both sides, the analysis has got to come. The Scottish public aren't stupid. They are going to get to a point where they want more answers, they want more clarity."

The businessman stressed he had no political affiliation, despite often being labelled as being pro-independence or pro-SNP.

"My stance is still [that] I have got no political axe to grind."

Mr McColl added: "The 'vote No and then we will tell you what we are doing' won't wash."

A spokesman for Yes Scotland said the entrepreneurs were right to demand straight answers to straight questions.

He added: "Yes Scotland already has a wealth of information that answers many questions people have about independence. But we also recognise there is still a lot of hard work to do over the coming months to provide more answers to other important questions."

A spokesman for Better Together said: "The SNP campaign is putting forward a proposition that is high on assertion and low on facts. We will be challenging them every day between now and the referendum. We will be talking about the many benefits Scotland receives as part of the United Kingdom."

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