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Tycoon blasts lack of expertise

Sturgeon brushes aside McColl attack on ministers

Jim McColl

Jim McColl: ‘ministers lack business experience’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today sidestepped criticism by businessman Jim McColl who said government ministers lacked business experience.

Mr McColl, the multi-millionaire tycoon behind Clyde Blowers who clashed with the government during his ownership of the Ferguson shipyard, said there were too many career politicians in Holyrood.

He also warned that it could take 10 years for Scotland to recover and that it risked losing half its small and medium sized firms due to the pandemic unless there was more help from government. Mr McColl said businesses needed long term loans, possibly over 25 years, rather than short-term grants.

Ms Sturgeon said she had not seen his comments, made during a radio interview, but insisted there was a “range of expertise” in the government and that she was looking to deepen its engagement with business.

Dean Lockhart, Scottish Conservative shadow business secretary, said: “Jim McColl is not alone. The SNP government’s own Advisory Group on Economic Recovery led by Benny Higgins also concluded that after 14 years in government the SNP does not properly engage with stakeholders in the economy.

“This SNP government’s lack of business understanding has been highlighted severely during the Covid crisis.

“The SNP’s economic response to the Covid crisis has been roundly criticised as incompetent, weak and slow.

“Throughout this pandemic firms in Scotland have received less financial support than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK.

“This will simply result in even more job losses here in Scotland directly as a result of the SNP’s incompetence.

The SNP must set aside their anti-economy agenda or even more Scottish jobs will be lost.”

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Ms Sturgeon earlier said that the government’s focus would be on health and jobs.

Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said the First Minister must keep this promise and ensure next year’s Holyrood election is not a referendum on another independence referendum.

“The absolute priority for both the UK and Scottish governments must be jobs and the NHS, so these are welcome comments from the First Minister,” he said.

Comment: another curt response on the economy from the First Minister

Blackford and Johnson clash

In the Commons, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, pictured, accused the Prime Minister of creating a new bureaucratic body that would oversee powers over food standards and agriculture held by the Scottish government.

Boris Johnson replied that the UK government is returning more than 70 powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He said Mr Blackford’s party would be happy to hand these powers back to Brussels bureaucrats who are neither elected, nor accountable.



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