Former Scottish Labour leader at Holyrood Wendy Alexander and ex-Scottish Government Minister Jim Mather are among five new high-profile figures who have joined the Advisory Board of independent think tank Reform Scotland.
Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), former Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Derek Brownlee and Jeremy Purvis, former Scottish Liberal Democrat economy and finance spokesman, have also become board members.
Reform Scotland chairman Ben Thomson said today: ‘I am delighted and thrilled that Wendy, Jim, Martin, Derek and Jeremy have joined our team. All five have played key roles at the heart of Scottish public life and have a great deal to offer us as an agenda-setting think tank and to Scotland itself.’
Reform Scotland was established in 2008 with the aim of setting out better ways to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility. It has produced more than 20 research papers on topics ranging from fiscal power to healthcare and educational reform, and many of its ideas have been adopted by policy-makers and government.
Wendy Alexander, who stood down as an MSP at the last Scottish Parliament election in May this year, said: ‘Scotland needs a rich tapestry of think tanks and policy institutes to spark our imagination. Reform Scotland is a leader in terms of fresh thinking. The board brings together those from across business and politics with a wide range of perspectives. I am delighted to make a contribution to its valuable work.’
Jim Mather, who also stood down as an MSP at the last election, was Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism in the SNP Government.
A chartered accountant by profession and a successful businessman, Mr Mather said: ‘Reform Scotland has helped to enliven and inform the conversation that Scotland must have if we are to have a radically better future and hence it deserves access to and the involvement of a wide range of views. For my part, I want to ensure that Scotland and Reform Scotland are open to the complete spectrum of constitutional options and that they are objective in assessing their relative merit.’
Derek Brownlee, who is also an accountant by profession and served the South of Scotland as an MSP from 2005 until the last election, said: ‘Reform Scotland has played an important part in stimulating public debate over the past few years and I’m delighted to help sustain that in the future.’
Martin Sime, has led the SCVO for 20 years and is widely recognised as an innovative and influential policy thinker. He said: ‘Reform Scotland is doing critical thinking on important issues concerning Scotland’s future and I am happy to contribute to that.’
At 29, Jeremy Purvis became the youngest constituency MSP to be elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2003, serving his Borders seat for eight years, latterly as the Lib-Dem’s economy and finance spokesman. He said: ‘Reform Scotland is playing an increasingly important role in presenting new policy ideas, and challenging pre-conceived ones. From broadband to policing its diverse papers have impressed me with their freedom of thought and ability to think anew. I am pleased to add my input into the work that is more important than ever.’
The five new members join an Advisory Board that already comprises leading figures from business, corporate finance and academia:-
• Dan Macdonald, chief executive of Macdonald Estates Group
• Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management plc
• Investments specialist and entrepreneur Alex Hammond-Chambers
• Lesley Knox, chairman of Alliance Trust plc
• Professor Sir Donald MacKay, former professor of economics at Heriot Watt and Aberdeen Universities
• David Milne OBE, founder of Wolfson Microelectronics
• Keith Skeoch, chief executive of Standard Life Investments
• Audrey Baxter, executive chairman of WA Baxter & Sons
Mr Thomson, who founded Reform Scotland, chairs both the Advisory Board and the Board of Trustees. An investment banker by profession, he is a former chairman and chief executive of Noble Group and currently heads up an Edinburgh-based asset management company. He is also chairman of the National Galleries of Scotland.
He said: ‘The key about Reform Scotland is that it is entirely focussed on policies to improve the economic environment and public services in Scotland irrespective of what any political party’s view may be. We look at the current system in Scotland and at what has worked in other countries to make clear recommendations on how best to change the current system. In doing so, we hope to help lead the debate across the political spectrum and help politicians make what are often difficult and brave decisions.’