If you are of the opinion that the views of business leaders hold sway during election campaigns, it has certainly been a good week for the Labour Party – on both sides of the Border.

The party’s campaign in Scotland received a credibility boost at the start of the week when high-profile figure Scottish business figure Benny Higgins gave his endorsement to Labour and its UK leader Sir Keir Starmer.

It was followed quickly by a letter signed by more than 100 British business leaders, published in The Times, which endorsed Labour’s plans for the economy. Given the support the Conservatives have traditionally had from the business world, it was a significant shot in the arm for Sir Keir and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, and brought to mind the backing Tony Blair received from leading company executives which many feel was crucial to Labour’s landslide victory in 1997.

Mr Higgins, a former senior executive with Standard Life, Royal Bank of Scotland, and Tesco Bank who now chairs Buccleuch Group among a host of board positions, declared in an exclusive article for The Herald that “Keir Starmer and the Labour Party represent the only credible option” as the UK prepares to go to the polls on July 4.

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He did not hold back in his criticism of the current political leadership at Scottish and UK level, which he branded “weak” and “rudderless”, and stated that people in Scotland in particular “have suffered from the political malaise created by the Tories in Westminster and the SNP in Holyrood”.

Mr Higgins criticised the approach taken by the Scottish Government to business, which may well have stung the SNP hierarchy given its former leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had enlisted him as an economic adviser, following his work on implementing plans for the Scottish National Investment Bank.

Echoing the frustrations many in business have felt over its relationship with the Scottish Government in recent years, and notably since the pandemic, Mr Higgins wrote: “We need government to support and encourage businesses, not hinder them. It is precisely four years ago that I was completing my report for Scottish Government on economic recovery beyond the pandemic. All 25 recommendations were warmly welcomed and accepted. Most have barely been mentioned since then.

“Instead, the formation of one group after another, and the pursuit of one more review after another, has been viewed by politicians as an alternative to taking action. This forthcoming General Election puts the opportunity in our hands to say: ‘no more’.

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“This can be a new dawn. It will demand a surefooted prioritisation of decisions, which can be the necessary catalyst to recover our strength and identity. It is only by choosing Labour that we can find hope and optimism.”

Scotland’s new First Minister John Swinney may have some grounds to be disappointed with Mr Higgins’ decision to back Labour. It is certainly fair to say that both Mr Swinney and Kate Forbes, Deputy First Minster and Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Gaelic, have made clear their prioritisation of economic growth and forging closer links with business since the new-look Scottish Cabinet was assembled a few weeks ago. The tone and approach has certainly been welcomed by Scottish business groups, though it is still very early days. We may learn more about their administration’s plans for business and the economy as the election campaign proceeds.

There is perhaps also an argument that Humza Yousaf’s engagement with Scottish business was not as poor as some argued during his relatively short tenure as First Minister. Mr Yousaf acted quickly after becoming First Minister to scrap controversial proposals to restrict alcohol advertising and marketing, and called time on the derided deposit return scheme, before it was ultimately blocked by the UK Government when it declined to provide an exemption to the Internal Market Act that would have allowed it to proceed.

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Mr Yousaf’s pledge to create a New Deal for Business won early plaudits, though the progress it has since made has been patchy to say the least. Indeed, much of the goodwill created by the move appeared to be lost when ministers announced the Scottish Budget for 2024/ 2025 in December.

Hospitality campaigners were angered by the decision to not provide the 75% relief from business rates enjoyed by the industry south of the Border as ministers prioritised spending on key services such as the NHS, and retailers were dismayed after it emerged consideration would be given to a surtax on large grocery retailers.

Ministers could point to the support provided to business in the Budget, including the continuation of the important small business bonus scheme, and rates relief for hospitality firms on the Scottish islands.

But on the deficit side, concern has been expressed by some in business over increasing income tax divergence with England, following the introduction of a new band for higher earners in Scotland, and the new Housing Bill, with developers saying uncertainty over rent controls is driving investment in new homes away from Scotland.

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Overall the report card from business for the Scottish Government would be categorised by many as “could do better”, so it can be perhaps seen as significant when a figure such as Benny Higgins is stating that it is time for a change.

However, it is important to emphasise that it is not just in Scotland where Mr Higgins is calling for a change. His intervention is an indictment, too, of 14 years of Conservative rule at Westminster, which through its hard Brexit has caused more damage to the economy than any of the policies the Scottish Government has been responsible for, and that is before years of austerity are taken into consideration.

It is difficult to tell how significant the endorsement of Labour from Mr Higgins and those 100-plus business leaders which signed this week’s letter to The Times will ultimately be. After all, the experience of Brexit has shown that the electorate do not always care for the views of “experts”.

But we can certainly be sure that both the Tories and the SNP would have welcomed such support if it had come their way.