This matters. We can argue about political policies and economic strategies, we can debate what our priorities should be, what trade-offs we should make - but if we ignore our fundamental differences in perspective we will never understand each other's positions.
I think I have something to contribute to the debate about the impact that businesses have - can have and should have - on our society. But I should be clear about my own prejudices; I need to explain a little about where I'm coming from.
But if you have it probably affects the way you think.
By the time I was 9 I'd had three dads, gained and lost a step-brother, had my first name changed once and my last name twice. By the time I went to university yet another man (I'd never consider him a dad) was on the scene; he suffered from severe mental health problems. Simultaneously (and not coincidentally) I watched a step-father (who I hated) mentally decay to the extent that his parents had to come and take him home. I know something about the challenges that result from growing up in a dysfunctional, broken family. I also know a little about mental health issues, alcoholism, and domestic violence - but those are topics for another day.
I know what it means to have very little. As a child growing up in Norfolk we lived in caravans, boats and various houses without electricity or running water. For a brief period of time I went to primary school whilst living in a ridge-tent on the sea-cliffs at Mundsley (my mum & then step-dad lived in a ridge-tent alongside me). I moved from primary school to primary school; I was the grubby, smelly and sometimes bruised child who teachers would worry about. My school diary was a record of the life I imagined others must lead, not my own.
When I was 9 we moved to Islay: a new step-dad, another new name, a new primary school, a fresh start. After living in another couple of caravans and a derelict house we eventually settled on the West of the island. This meant one last primary school and - finally - a house with electricity, a flush toilet, hot running water, a television. Trust me when I tell you that I still appreciate the differences those things make.
If you think this all adds up to me having an unhappy childhood ... well you'd be right as it happens; it was fucking miserable. But that's not my point. I never went hungry and there are plenty who have had it far worse than me. I'm not seeking sympathy here but I am sharing all of this baggage for a reason.
I'm not going to use this post to "sell" my business experience but suffice to say as a moderately successful businessman it's clear why I have a perspective on how businesses work (and sometimes don't work) and how business people think. What might be less obvious without knowing something of my background is why I'm particularly interested in businesses' role in alleviating poverty and providing opportunity.
I care about the least well off not because I'm some bleeding heart liberal who's guilty about my cozy life; I care because I remember how shitty it can be to feel stuck at the bottom of the heap. I care about the role education can play as a stepping stone to creating a better life because I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to university and broaden my horizons. I care about enterprise and entrepreneurship because I know from first-hand experience how rewarding and fulfilling it can be to create businesses. I care about social mobility and providing opportunities to all because I believe passionately that where you happen to start from shouldn't limit where you might end up.
There are sound logical arguments for encouraging an enterprising culture in Scotland to drive economic growth ... but there are equally compelling compassionate arguments for pushing businesses to provide rewarding employment and offer pathways out of poverty.
The context of the independence referendum is significant here. Putting aside for a moment concerns about the false prospectus: a significant proportion of the 1.6m people who voted Yes appeared to do so because they believed any change must be better than what they have now. We can - as I often do - argue that they were misguided in that belief but we shouldn't lose sight of the underlying problem this vote highlighted. That hundreds of thousands of Scots feel so disenchanted with their lot that they will grasp at any chance of change must give us pause.
I think Scottish businesses can and should be seen to be playing a more positive role in building better lives for the people of Scotland. Education is - as ever - the key here: educating people to understand the positive role businesses can play and encouraging them to grasp entrepreneurial opportunities and engage in enterprise; educating businesses to adopt discretionary policies that improve employees' lives and provide opportunities to a wide spectrum of society; educating our policy makers to the realities of how business works and how legislation can support (or hinder) positive progress.
That's an ambitious set of objectives but it's all based on a simple belief: Good businesses do good.
You can expect to hear a lot more from me on this topic in the coming months.