Wednesday, October 28, 2009

SNP Losing Support of Business

While it may retain some high profile businessmen like Sir Tom Hunter and Sir George Mathewson the SNP are losing the overall support of Scottish Business says CBI Scotland leader Iain McMillan.

Talking to the Scotsman he cites episodes such as Diageo being "bullied" over its restructuring plans, the cancellation of the Glasgow airport rail link (GARL) without consultation, the blocking of private sector involvement in running hospitals and prisons and the slashing of the enterprise budget by £74 million next year. He says the SNP are pushing a very public sector agenda at the expense of local private enterprise. A position that was not helped by Nicola Strugeon saying at the recent conference in Inverness:

"We will never put private profit before public services."

One possible exception recently might have been if you were an American property developer. McMillan says there are 'grave concerns' across the business community and that the minimum pricing of alcohol recently was just the tip of the iceberg, saying:

"Minimum pricing is only the latest in a long line of matters coming from the Scottish Government causing businesses serious concern," he said.

"The appalling way Diageo was treated over its plans to restructure its business, with the First Minister going on the protest rally even though the company was investing £100m in Fife was quite outrageous. We are also angry about the cancellation of GARL with no prior consultation, and then we have the fiasco over the Scottish Futures Trust."

He added in response to Ms Sturgeon's speech:

"Ms Sturgeon's speech that private profit should not come before public services completely misses the point that the two should work in tandem."
McMillan is not alone in his criticism David Watt, head of the Institute of Directors in Scotland said:

"We were quite disturbed over the treatment of Diageo and over the taking away of money from the enterprise budget. The Scottish Government does not seem to have grasped the ramifications of this.

"It also seems completely wrong to cancel infrastructure projects such as GARL when we should be building as much as we can to support the economy and prepare it for the recovery."

While Liz Cameron chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce added:

"If you see the health budget increasing by £94m and the enterprise budget reduced by £74m, it does not suggest the government's first priority to grow the Scottish economy.

"This is not about greedy businesses wanting more money. It is about supporting the economy and social wellbeing of Scotland, which can only be done if people have jobs and an income."
Even the Federation for Small Business is saying that despite it members benefting from a cut in small business rates that it believes small businesses in England are actually receiving much better support.

That was certainly something that we looked to achieve in the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment in Northern Ireland when I worked there. The heads of the CBI and FSB in Northern Ireland was often consulted and indeed worked closely with that department to encourage business development and sustainability in Northern Ireland. The need in tough financial times for the public and private sectors to work in closer tandem are even greater.

Therefore for the head of the CBI in Scotland to make such a direct statement against the policies here shows a clear break down somewhere. For a party that says on one hand that Scottish business is worthy of world consideration but on the other hand they fail to heed it themselves shows where their priorities really lie.


DougtheDug said...

Apart from MacMillan the article names no other business leaders and MacMillan is Labour to the core.

"MacMillan rants again about the SNP" is not news, it's on par with a, "Sun rises every morning", headline.

Stuart Winton said...

Doug, doesn't the article name the Institute of Directors, the Federation of Small Businesses and the the Chambers of Commerce, or am I missing something here?

Stephen Glenn said...

Stuart indeed it does also quote David Watt of the Institute of Directors,Liz Cameron of the Chambers of Commerce, and the FSB.

Stephen Glenn said...

So what I have done is add in their veiwpoints to cover the universality of opinion.


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