THE Institute of Hospitality (IOH) Scotland has held a debate on what independence would mean for the Scottish food, drink and hospitality industry.
And they had industry leaders debating both sides of the coin, with two Michelin star chef Andrew Fairlie leading the ‘Yes’ team and Beppo Buchanan-Smith heading up the ‘Better Together’ side.
To mark a year to the day the most significant political event in Scottish history takes place, the IOH held a debate on September 18 to discuss the influence of independence on the industry.
Fairlie, the head chef at Gleneagles, was supported by retired SNP Minister, Jim Mather, whilst proprietor of Isle of Eriska Hotel in Oban, Buchanan-Smith had Tony Dumbreck and Scottish Conservative deputy leader, Jackson Carlaw on side.
The debate at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, asked the question, “What independence would mean for the Scottish food, drink and hospitality sectors” in front of an audience of over 150 listened to a debate.
Ray Lorimer, chairman of IOH Scotland, (pictured) told us, “Prior to the debate and on its completion, a card vote of audience voting intentions was carried out. Pre debate the figures were 62% against independence and 4% in favour, with 34% undecided.
“Interestingly, the against figures were remarkably close to opinion polls that both recorded 59% against Scotland becoming independent. Post-debate, voting intentions after listening to argument and counter argument were 79% against, 10% for independence and 11% undecided.”
Experts, MSPs and academics discussed how the issue affected an industry that employs over 220,000 people directly in Scotland and 120,000 indirectly. The hospitality industry accounts for 8.6 percent of Scotland’s jobs, contributing in excess of £4bn to the Scottish economy.
Mr Lorimer added, “The bottom line is we don’t really know what independence would mean for the Scottish hospitality industry and there appears to be a dearth of both political and industry names willing to stand up and lead an open debate.”