Businesses don't vote: voters do. So why are politicians so exercised about the business lobbies' New Year messages, issued this morning?
CBI Scotland's Iain McMillan hadn't even released his report card on the SNP administration, when it had already provoked a heated exchange between the four main political parties.
The fact that they'd all got hold of the statement in advance does suggest he's more than happy to spark a bit of a barney.
And he knows that the view of the business leadership matters to politicians because they help shape public views on the question of economic competence. That played a starring role in 2010's Westminster election campaign.
It's a tussle rarely taken up by business leaders, who tend instead to be careful when they engage in sharply-worded judgements on incumbent politicians.
It wasn't always so. A previous generation of business leaders in the 1980s and 1990s backed the then Conservative government in its opposition to devolution or to devolved tax powers, and were roundly abused for doing so. It's led to caution on political engagement.
But Iain McMillan isn't deterred. He's been around a while, and he's got previous on this.
He has less reason than others who lobby for business - whether the small-to-medium variety, directors or chambers of commerce - to try to represent a wide range of the membership's political views. He's given enough licence by the CBI's members (the larger businesses, often straddling the border) to stick his neck out a bit.
And that's just what he's done, with a [nearing the] end of term report card. It praises the SNP administration at Holyrood for its council tax freeze, transport investment, school curriculum reform, and renewable energy support.
But he then lists the items that CBI Scotland hasn't much liked: cancelling airport rail links, blocking more private involvement in delivering public services, notably in Scottish Water, and refusing new nuclear power plants.
'Wasted money and energy'
The incendiary bit is an attack on the SNP administration for its "national conversation" on independence, saying it's wasted money and energy on something Scots don't want.
The First Minister's spokesman was quick to hit back at Iain McMillan himself, highlighting his membership of the Calman Commission, at the invitation of the three pro-union parties that set it up.
That raises an interesting question of whether business supports the devolution tax measures, based on Calman, which the UK coalition government is now putting through Westminster. Iain McMillan has personally signed up for them, but otherwise, the normally vocal business lobby has been strangely silent.
One leading figure tells me members haven't yet engaged with it, having thought it would be quietly parked by an incoming Conservative government.
But it's now a coalition commitment, giving it momentum which is hard to stop. And when business-people do engage with it, my source tells me they're unlikely to like what they see.
Skirmishes and fury
Other items on the business lobby groups' wish list for economic growth may yet become hot campaign issues, but it's hard to see transitional relief on business rates revaluation becoming the national talking point by next May 5. Likewise, the question of Scottish Water's governance.
But these issues are skirmishes within that battleground of economic competence, over which the parties will surely argue furiously.
And among the SNP's responses to Iain McMillan and their party opponents is the intriguing notion that blame can be apportioned by a precise two-to-one ratio between the past Labour government and the current coalition one. It seems blame is now subject to mathematical calculation.
Just as calculating is the £30m levy on supermarkets. The CBI doesn't like it, but the Federation of Small Businesses does - or at least, it's not complaining.
The SNP is explicitly saying the proposal helps rebalance the power of the supermarkets against smaller retailers, and will affect only one in a thousand business properties.
In other words, there's a modification to that rule on business and politics: while big business doesn't vote, the people who run and identify with small businesses certainly do.
The war of words continues. Scottish government sources dismiss Iain McMillan as representing nobody in particular, and John Swinney has explicitly said he seems to be following a political more than a business agenda.
Meanwhile, the CBI Scotland director has been taking stock of the Scottish government's response to his New Year statement.
Speaking to BBC Scotland, he's said: "There is an arrogance, there is a smugness, and there is a propensity not to accept what business is telling it. And unfortunately we're seeing this coming through in far too many policies today".
Wasn't this meant to be the season of goodwill?