Mr Swinney has latterly styled himself as Ms Sturgeon’s ally and protector but I suspect he now faces a dichotomy. Will he push the nationalists’ interests or will his previous financial head return and will he give sound advice on the reality that Scottish businesses face? The business sector has been ravaged by the political management of Covid. Sectors such as Leisure and Tourism are on their knees and desperate for some reassurance that normality can return, whilst Brexit bumps have not been helped by the Nationalists’ desire to return control to the EU.
But in Scotland there is also a hidden danger to jobs and prosperity and that is the conversation about IndyRef2.
During the last Scottish Independence Referendum, the SNP wanted us to believe that there would be no impact to businesses and jobs, trade would continue uninterrupted they told us.
But we were not convinced. Cartoonists sketched pictures of a triumphant Alex Salmond waving the Saltire whilst a queue of lorries labelled with familiar names headed south and many business owners spoke in hushed tones about what the risk might be and if they should start making contingency plans.
This time the conversations are not so hushed and the economy not so buoyant. Businesses’ have had to dig deep to weather the Covid pandemic and are just adjusting to life outside the EU.
The last thing they need now is the uncertainty and disruption of another referendum. For many years interest rates have been low and inflation virtually non-existent.
This has enabled companies to invest and grow but uncertainty is now creeping in.
The less optimistic are anticipating inflation rising and with that the inevitable increase in interest rates. Those of us that remember the massive interest hikes in the Eighties rightly express serious concern at the impact a repeat of this scenario would have when so many people have mortgages and borrowings that far exceed the level of debt in the Eighties.
The idea that into that uncertainty you could add the break-up of the UK is unthinkable for those entrepreneurs and business owners who do not get their income from the Government purse.
Scotland’s businesses would face devaluation of their assets as the country tried to set up its own currency or used sterling without being part of a monetary union.
Borrowing would be at best difficult, at worst impossible, without huge interest rates.
A hard border would appear with our largest market, with over 60 percent of our current trade going to the rest of the UK, and we would be excluded from all existing trade deals with the rest of the world as we sat waiting to gain membership of the EU.
If another independence referendum is called the very real questions are; how many businesses will choose to invest in Scotland; how many will start moving their operations elsewhere; how many will make contingency plans to do so in the event of a vote in favour of leaving the Union.
For business’ the decision to leave Scotland is not a matter of the heart, it is a matter of the head, it is about survival and growth. The sad news that McVities are on the brink of closing their operations in Glasgow was met with a comment from an SNP MP that he wouldn’t allow them to leave.
How naive was this statement? It doesn’t matter how politically powerful you might be, business must trade and operate profitably to survive.
If a Government does not provide a taxation and market framework in which they can exist then they will simply close their doors and move to somewhere that does.
And sometimes they simply decide that their business model is changing and there is no longer the need for a particular plant in a particular country and that is business.
In all the rhetoric that comes out of Holyrood the often-deafening silence in support of the wealth creating sector, has left many businesses owners feeling devalued in Scotland.
The seeming inability of the nationalists to understand and recognise the very real risks of their emotionally driven cause of separation has made many question whether remaining and investing in Scotland is the right direction of travel.
How long will it take and how much damage will be done before the realisation sets in that without a vibrant wealth creating sector, the public sector, on which Scotland has made itself so dependent, will collapse.
Sometimes it is not the event itself that causes destruction, but the actions taken in anticipation.
This time round there is the possibility that people wont wait and businesses will act because they are tired of the uncertainty regardless of the outcome.
Our elected members are there to represent the best interests of Scotland and its people lets hope that this ‘diverse’ Parliament can see beyond the ends of their noses.