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Making new friends

Brian Taylor | 10:46 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

I enjoy the company of folk in business.

They frequently have an intriguing take on authentic politics - the real stuff that affects real people, as distinct from the partisan piffle that mostly masquerades as political discourse.

Over the past year, I have been struck by the extent of goodwill in the Scottish business community towards the SNP administration.

Partly, that's the result of assiduous lobbying, most notably by Jim Mather, over a prolonged period, starting years before the SNP took power at Holyrood.

Partly, it's the background of senior Ministers. Alex Salmond was an economist for the Royal Bank; John Swinney had a career in finance; Jim Mather and Stewart Stevenson both have business backgrounds. They talk the talk.

That talk includes a pro-business emphasis - stressing the objective of economic growth, cutting business rates, especially for small firms, scrapping bridge tolls.

However, an alternative analysis was offered to me recently in a chat with a fairly senior business person.

She reckoned that Scots business folk warmed to Mr Salmond because they liked the sense of confidence he exudes.

Budget constraints

More to the point, many Scots business people had been patronised at some point in their career by headquarters, possibly a remote headquarters.

To be frank, they secretly crave to stick it to the boss - just like Salmond sticks it to Westminster.

Fascinating notion, isn't it? Further, it appears to be borne out by a poll in The Scotsman which indicates folk in business mostly think the SNP is doing a good or excellent job in office.

It may all change, of course. The honeymoon will end.

Opposition claims that there will be problems down the line as a result of budget constraints may prove well founded.

Right now, though, the first minister is able to mark the anniversary of his election victory with signs of continuing popular support.

And that would appear to extend to the business community.


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