IT is at times fascinating the way narratives can develop and become conventional wisdom.

And it is often remarkable the degree to which they can endure, even though the reality is quite different from the orthodoxy that has grown up over a long period.

Such narratives tend to develop a life of their own, often quite detached from what people should be hearing and seeing for themselves. And they often tend to shift at the most glacial of speeds.

In a UK political context, when the narrative shows a party in an entirely unjustified positive light, this can enable continued underperformance without any particularly adverse consequences, often over quite protracted periods.

All of this came to mind after a report on Friday from think-tank Reform Scotland declaring that a continued complaint during former first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s tenure was that she had a “poor relationship” with business. It said the new First Minister (with Humza Yousaf since confirmed in this role) must “urgently reset” the relationship.

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As a brief aside, this “reset” phrasing seems to at once be cringingly trendy and at the same time hackneyed.

More substantively, the assertion that Ms Sturgeon had a poor relationship with business does seem to have become conventional wisdom. However, quite why this has occurred is far less clear, given it is a somewhat bizarre viewpoint given the realities.

The Scottish Government has presided over a business environment which has proved most attractive to overseas investors. And this alone surely raises serious questions over the orthodoxy that somehow Ms Sturgeon and the SNP have been bad for business.

Accountancy firm EY’s latest annual survey published last May showed Scotland outpaced UK-wide progress on inward investment dramatically in 2021. EY declared Scotland had made “great strides” as a destination for foreign direct investment in 2021, as its survey revealed the nation’s attractiveness rating from potential future investors had hit a record.

Scotland remained the second-top destination in the UK for FDI, behind only London. Scotland achieved a 14% rise in the number of inward investment projects secured in 2021, to 122. This put a 1.8% increase for the UK as a whole in the shade.

So just why has the conventional wisdom developed that the Scottish Government has been bad for business?

It is easy to identify a few likely reasons. In the political goldfish bowl that is Scotland, the incessantly negative carping by the Conservatives and Labour over what at times seems to be all issues business and economic has probably been a factor.

There are at least two important points in this context. Firstly, the criticisms often fail to take into account the fact that the problems of which they complain have their roots in decisions taken at Westminster, in relation to powers that are not devolved. People need to be grown-up about realising the extent of the economic levers the Scottish Government has, and more importantly they need to be honest about the powers that it does not possess.

Secondly, the Conservatives have a spectacular cheek given their great failures since 2010 on the business and economic front, but more of that later. Huge damage has been done to Scotland’s economy by terrible Tory errors such as savage welfare cuts, other ill-judged and counter-productive austerity, and Brexit.

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Everyone is entitled to hold the Scottish Government to account on the economy and business but it would surely be good to see the Tories refrain from hypocrisy and game-playing on this front.

Of course, the Scottish Government has not been perfect.

There have clearly been misjudgements, such as over-the-top proposals on restricting alcohol marketing and promotion. It seems likely many of these plans will not go ahead but they have created huge uncertainty.

The Scottish Government has also come in for criticism over its deposit return scheme. This is clearly being introduced with good intentions but the moves towards implementation have been clumsy, to say the least, and uncertainty and worry has abounded.

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Opposition politicians, of course, also like to bang on ad nauseam about major cost over-runs on two Caledonian MacBrayne ferries being built by Ferguson Marine, which is now owned by the Scottish ministers after falling into insolvency in 2019.

However, these overruns, while in the hundreds of millions of pounds, pale into insignificance relative to the many billions of pounds wasted by the Conservative Government in its procurement decisions on personal protective equipment amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The deposit return scheme and proposed intervention on alcohol advertising and promotion have created great uncertainty for key sectors, and this is lamentable. However, the issues will before long hopefully be ironed out by adjusting some of what is planned and abandoning other aspects. And a raft of other sectors are unaffected by these issues.

And, crucially, we must bear in mind not only the fact that overseas investors view Scotland as a great place to do business but also the broader economic situation.

This brings us back to the strange evolution and resilience of narratives.

The Conservatives have managed to hammer businesses operating across a vast array of sectors with their woeful policies.

If you consider the main difficulties for businesses right now, in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, many have been caused by the Conservatives’ hard Brexit.

This has fuelled the UK’s labour and skills shortages crisis, faced by businesses of all sizes right across the economy. And it has hammered exporters.

Then there is the surge in costs that businesses have had to endure. The Conservatives would portray this inflation nightmare as something that is nothing to do with them. There are some global factors at play. However, the inflation woe, for businesses and households, has been fuelled by Tory mistakes and failures.

Brexit has fuelled inflation, and so has the Tories’ abject failure to prevent UK businesses and households having to pay exorbitant prices for energy. The UK’s energy market is an epic shambles.

Strangely, however, it is still conventional wisdom to many that the Conservatives are competent on business and the economy.

Kenneth Clarke, who was the Conservative chancellor back in the 1990s, is widely regarded as having been very competent in this role not only by Tory supporters but more widely, and for good enough reason.

However, we are in a very different world now.

With the Tories having dragged us through an astonishing economic mess since 2010, many in business now see the Conservatives’ incompetence on this front.

But significant numbers in the business world, perhaps because of personal political views or failure to keep up with what is going on, seemingly still feel more comfortable with the Tories. And a view persists among many ordinary people that the Conservatives know what they are doing on business and the economy.

The Scottish Government has been generally competent on the economic front, crucially including lobbying for sense to alleviate Brexit-related woe.

Yet Mr Yousaf apparently faces an uphill battle to persuade people the Scottish Government is pro-business and prioritises the economy.

Narratives are a curious thing indeed.