A question of risk

17 09 2014

In the late 80’s I went for a job as a sales rep and was horrified that the selection process required me to complete a full day of profiling at some swanky management consultants in Amersham. The tests suggested that I was a risk taker. I am not.

In making any decision I analyse all of the available information carefully and dispassionately and then make my choice. Having made a decision I then act upon it. I think that it is this willingness to act promptly and without further hesitation that came through and allowed the assessment that I am a risk taker. However, acting decisively and taking risks are two completely different things.

This methodology doesn’t guarantee that I will make what others might feel to be the right decision but what it does ensure is that I always make the best decision I can based on the information that is available to me at the time I’m required to make that decision.

Of course as soon as the decision is made more information becomes available. The very act of making a decision changes the landscape. Time passes and more information emerges. A different option may emerge. This is the nature of decision making.

So why is this important?

At the start of the referendum debate I had an idea that, being an avid supporter of co-operative community development and local democracy, I ought to vote yes. Bringing decision-making as close as possible to those affected by those decisions and getting as many people as possible actively involved in the decision making process is a central tenet of co-operative development. As I listened and read, more information emerged and I became persuaded that, for reasons that I have detailed in other pieces throughout this process, a yes vote was the better option.

What has surprised me is that choosing independence has been portrayed as being riskier than staying within the union. The no campaign has focussed on the risks associated with separation while the risks of staying have been overlooked or understated.

Take this last minute offer of further powers being devolved to Holyrood. This ‘pledge’ has been made by three leaders who as individuals now seem to agree that Scotland should have some more power over it’s own decisions but who have very different ideas as to what those powers might be. Their parties have vastly differing views too. Even if the leaders had got together much earlier than just a week away from the vote there is no guarantee that they could have taken their parties with them. Leaving it until the last moment to come up with the offer to talk about more powers makes it impossible to be sure whether they are speaking for their parties and for Westminster or simply for themselves. UK government works by parliament not by presidential style diktat. Take David Cameron. He is already fighting to keep his party together in the face of challenges from Ukip, who may well have there first MP sitting at Westminster within the next few weeks. With a general election to fight in 2015 is he really going to persuade his back bench MPs, many of whom would like to see devolved powers decrease rather than increase, that they should support the transfer of more power to Holyrood? I’m sure that the leadrs will have to come up with something, if only to save face, but it will not be significant. If there was an appetite for further transfer of power it would have happened by now.

One of the rules of leadership and decision-making – know where you are headed before you set out.

A no vote will not retain the status quo, it will plunge the union into a prolonged period of confusion as leaders seek to deliver something to Scotland in the face of opposition from within their own parties at a time when those parties will be looking to fight a UK general election. And as the no campaign is fond of saying, the markets don’t like uncertainty.

Far less risky then to vote yes. There will be lengthy negotiations as the details are discussed and the i’s dotted and t’s crossed but the destination is clear and known; full independence. Not everything, of course, is known. Not everything is yet knowable. But we will know where we’re head when we set out.

So, as a confirmed non-risk taker I’ll be voting YES

A final thought….
I make decisions with my head but as we approach the 18th one feeling rumbles away in my gut.
Imagine waking up on Friday morning to a no vote. We know what the rUK establishment had to say when Scotland decided against devolution in ’79 and it will be the same now.
I have huge faith in the Scottish people to come together irrespective of the outcome to build a better Scotland. I have much less faith in the establishment and, in particular, the English press.
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