So an open letter from Dr Elizabeth Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, in which she calls on the winner of the SNP leadership contest to do just that, is a welcome reminder for all three candidates of the importance of good governance and a focus on the fundamentals.
“Scotland needs a credible economic growth plan which must be a top priority for every department in the Scottish Government. That can only be delivered if the next First Minister makes economic growth its driving mission and works in a real, honest and open partnership with the business community,” Dr Cameron wrote.
Apart from the preservation of life and limb, the economy is most important because it pays for everything else: the NHS, the police, education, social care and so on. This is a fact of life that Nicola Sturgeon’s government often appeared to overlook or downplay, as its obsession with constitutional issues and picking fights with Westminster dominated other issues.
Dr Cameron identified several “serious challenges” facing the economy, including a lack of people with the skills and talent needed by businesses to enable them to grow, and digital infrastructure that lags behind other similar nations. These are significant problems, but they are far from unsolvable and whoever becomes the next First Minister will have considerable power to take immediate and practical steps to help.
While such ‘firefighting’ is taking place, much serious thinking about a “credible economic growth plan” for the long term – that fits with the transition to net-zero emissions – is absolutely vital.