The SNP’s relationship with the Scottish business community has, overall, been far from harmonious in recent times.

So it has seemed somewhat bizarre in the last week to hear business leaders saying complimentary things about senior SNP figures, notably First Minister John Swinney and his deputy, Kate Forbes.

Of course, it would not be wise for business chiefs to be openly hostile to those leading an incoming administration.

However, what was eye-catching was that the comments went way beyond the normal platitudes. Specifically, Mr Swinney and Ms Forbes, who was last week appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Gaelic as well as Deputy First Minister, were praised for their efforts in working with business while in senior government roles in the not-too-distant past.

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Of course, we should be wary about reading too much into the change of tone but some of the comments appeared to signal genuine enthusiasm.

That could be a double-edged sword for Mr Swinney and Ms Forbes.

The business community’s enthusiasm appears to be based on hopes that the new administration will prioritise the economy.

This is where it becomes a little more confusing perhaps because Mr Swinney’s predecessor, Humza Yousaf, did seem to be well aware of the importance of economic growth and made significant efforts to have a much greater dialogue with business.

However, seemingly partly for reasons of perception and also because of policymaking such as income tax decisions and a refusal to replicate business rates relief given to the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors south of the Border, harmony did not break out between Mr Yousaf and the business community.

So what have senior figures in Scottish business had to say about Mr Swinney and Ms Forbes in recent days?

What was notable was a recognition of how the pair had worked with business in their previous senior roles in the Scottish Government.

Tracy Black, devolved nations ambassador at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “We congratulate John Swinney on becoming the SNP’s new leader. Mr Swinney collaborated positively with business in his previous roles as deputy first minister and interim finance secretary and we look forward to working with him as First Minister.”

The ”collaborated positively” stood out.

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It was especially remarkable given there has been a general rumble of discontent from the business community in recent years about the Scottish Government, particularly since the pandemic. At times, this rumble has gained volume but the ambient noise has never seemed to go below a general growl, at least not for long.  Business leaders have also had good things to say about Ms Forbes’ efforts in her previous senior roles in the Scottish Government.

Scottish Retail Consortium director David Lonsdale said: “The Scottish Retail Consortium congratulates Kate Forbes on becoming Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for the Economy. She worked closely with Scotland’s retailers in her previous ministerial roles, particularly over the Non-Domestic Rates Bill where she rolled up her sleeves to retain the uniform business rate, and during the Covid pandemic where she moved swiftly to implement measures on business support.”

The “rolled up her sleeves” seemed like praise indeed from a retail industry body which has been unhappy on various fronts in recent times about the Scottish Government, notably around plans for a surtax on large grocers and also on business rates.

Mr Lonsdale appeared to be painting a similar picture of Ms Forbes to that of Mr Swinney portrayed by Ms Black, of a senior politician willing to listen to and work with business.

Stephen Montgomery, director of the Scottish Hospitality Group, said: “Kate Forbes is an excellent appointment and is someone we have worked closely with previously in her role as Cab Sec for Finance, and the Scottish Hospitality Group [looks] forward to early and meaningful engagement, with an ongoing working relationship with Mr Swinney and his Cabinet.”

This was also a very notable comment indeed.

The Scottish Hospitality Group has seemed the most difficult to please among all the business organisations in recent years.

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Perhaps this is partly because the sector suffered so much during the pandemic, as well as being the result of the group’s preparedness to be very outspoken where it believes this is warranted.

So the use of the “excellent appointment” phrase by Mr Montgomery most definitely grabbed the attention.

Mr Swinney’s clear declaration last week that the economy would be a focus was also, perhaps more predictably, well received by the business community.

It will be most interesting to see where things go from here in terms of the relationship between the Scottish Government and business community.

In these times of straitened public finances, and against a weak UK economic backdrop, it is easy to see plenty of potential strains.

For now though, Mr Swinney and Ms Forbes seem to be off to a good start and business appears to be putting at least some faith in them.