Deep thinking – Financial Times


Andrew Bolger
Financial Times, 25 April 2008

Injecting free-market ideas into Scotland\’s corporatist body politic can be a low-profile activity. But Reform Scotland, the new pro-business think-tank, excelled itself by holding a launch party in a venue in Edinburgh\’s medieval Old Town known as The Caves.

Reopened after being closed for more than 100 years, the brick-lined vaults are on the site of the original Oyster Club, where in the 1770s Adam Smith and David Hume met to discuss the philosophical issues of the day. So it was not a bad venue for an organisation that aims to stimulate debate.

Annabel Goldie, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, sent apologies but her deputy, Murdo Fraser, was circulating in the gloom. Ben Thomson, the investment banker who chairs the new think-tank, hinted that local government could be an area up for early scrutiny by its researchers.

An illicit whisky still was found on the site of The Caves in 1804, said to have been working "to the severe injury of the Revenue". This might strike a chord with those who suspect Reform Scotland\’s enthusiasm for lower taxes and a smaller public sector will prove an unpalatable brew for most Holyrood politicians.