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Friday, 20 September, 2002, 13:59 GMT 14:59 UK
'Leave Scotland' comments spark row
Deutsche Börse's Werner Seifert, and Don Cruickshank (right)
Don Cruickshank (right) left Scotland to find success
A leading Scottish businessman has caused a furore by telling pupils at a top school they should leave Scotland if they want to be successful.

Don Cruickshank, who is chairman of the London Stock Exchange, told a dinner at Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen that Scotland was a self-centred and parochial place where the old school tie still mattered.

Mr Cruickshank, who is also chairman of Scottish media group SMG, said that the country would flourish if young people left to gain experience of the rest of the world.

Politicians and business leaders condemned Mr Cruickshank's address.


Would Scotland be a better place if he and I - and many others like us had stayed?

Don Cruickshank

The Scottish National Party said the comments were "astonishing".

During his speech, Mr Cruickshank compared his own career with that of Robert Gordon, the founder of the college.

He pointed out they had both found success by leaving Scotland.

The Elgin-born businessman said: "Would Scotland be a better place if he and I - and many others like us had stayed?

Home grown

"People leave Scotland because it is a desperately self-centred, parochial place, where if I may dare to say it, the school you went to still matters and still forms the foundation of many of Scotland's social networks.

"Maybe we'd flourish a bit better, both economically and culturally, if more of you gained more experience of the rest of the world - and I'm not, definitely not, talking about a gap year.

"I suspect that the accumulated wealth and experience which at least some of you would bring back to Scotland might bring an openness, vigour and freshness to Scottish life that would benefit everyone."

He added: "We need a new Scottish enlightenment to echo that which Robert Gordon experienced. I doubt whether it can be home grown, whatever the merits of today's Robert Gordon's College."

Fundamentally wrong

The Scottish national Party's economy spokesman Andrew Wilson said: "Don Cruickshank is a close confidant of (the Chancellor) Gordon Brown and a key figure in the London establishment that now surrounds New Labour.

"These comments are astonishing, arrogant and fundamentally wrong.

"If the chairman of a major Scottish media organisation thinks that our economy is not performing well and that people should leave Scotland then he is one of the people to blame.

"Scotland needs positive solutions not metropolitan arrogance. We need people to be encouraged to come back to Scotland, however if we do have to lose people then it should be those with the attitude of Don Cruickshank."

See also:

10 Sep 02 | Scotland
10 Sep 00 | Business
22 Jul 99 | Business
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