NICOLA Sturgeon must recognise there has been a significant deterioration in the relationship between the Scottish Government and the business community since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and address this, the chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has declared.

Stuart Patrick said: “I think the Scottish Government has a challenge in that a lot of the business community are concerned the Scottish Government doesn’t trust the business community. That attitude is reaching a level of being reciprocated.”

Noting he spent a lot of time speaking to business leaders, Mr Patrick added: “There is a raw anger at times with the way business perspectives are dismissed in the debate in Scotland.”

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Asked to what extent the attitude of business towards the Scottish Government had changed over the last nine months, Mr Patrick replied: “Significantly.”

He said: “I think there was a degree of modest respect between business and government. I don’t think this government has been anti-business per se. It doesn’t automatically talk about the economic and business issues as its highest priority. This has been absolutely confirmed through this [current situation].”

While acknowledging that the economy and business could not have been confirmed as the highest priority through the pandemic, he added: “There has been a tendency to [see] it as the lowest priority.”

Referring to businesses’ view of the Scottish Government, Mr Patrick said: “There is a degree to which it varies according to sector and according to size.

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“The smaller business community, the entrepreneurial community, has always been a little less shy about making its views known.”

He said of the current relationship between business and the Scottish Government: “That cannot be where we want to be if we want to create a partnership to build the economy.”

Mr Patrick added: “I think the First Minister needs to recognise that relationship is not where it needs to be. It has been damaged over the last seven or eight months. It has to be recognised that has happened, and we need to do some work to recover it.”

Asked what could be done to resolve the difficulties in the relationship between business and the Scottish Government, Mr Patrick highlighted his view that “first and foremost” there has to be a change in the attitude of politicians towards business.

In particular, he took issue with what he believes is a view among some politicians that making a profit is a bad thing. Mr Patrick declared that profitability was required to create jobs in the private sector.

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He said: “The language I have seen used – ‘it is all about profit over people’. If that kind of terminology comes from a politician’s mouth, I really have a problem. Without profitability, we cannot have jobs in the private sector.”

Mr Patrick added: “At times, it seems like the government is lecturing the business community on fair work, the green economy, as if the business community are a bunch of naughty schoolchildren who need to be brought to heel. Fundamentally, the challenges of fair work and the green economy are largely going to be resolved by innovation in the private sector.”