John Swinney to insist SNP is 'firmly pro-business' in latest bid to reposition party

The First Minister will vow to ‘go all out’ to build Scotland’s economy

First Minister John Swinney said he would “go all out” to encourage investment in Scotland as he sets out his vision for the economy.

Speaking ahead of a speech in Glasgow on Friday, Mr Swinney described his government as a “firmly pro-business administration” that would work in partnership with business and trade unions to boost economic growth.

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He said this approach coupled with resources such as renewable energy were grounds for optimism, but added that it was necessary for Scotland to “work even harder” on the economy with the powers it had to offset the effects of Brexit.

John Swinney arrives for First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA WireJohn Swinney arrives for First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
John Swinney arrives for First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, Edinburgh. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

The First Minister said: “My goal is to help people live happier and healthier lives with higher living standards and to help businesses boost profitability.

“The evidence shows that independent countries that are comparable to Scotland are wealthier and fairer than the UK.

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“Scotland has the talents and resources to match that performance with independence but in the here and now, and in the face of Brexit, we must work even harder to help Scotland’s economy with the powers we have.

“I will go all out to encourage investment in Scotland and I will ensure people know my government is a firmly pro-business administration.

“A partnership with trade unions and business will be at the core of my approach and through that approach and given our resources, not least incredible renewable energy, we should look to the future with hope and optimism.”

Earlier in the week, Mr Swinney said all of the Scottish Government’s economic interventions should focus on improving economic growth, adding that ministers must “tighten up our act” to attract investment.

He said the Scottish Government had a “strong track record” of economic growth under the SNP, adding that recent slowdowns were as a result of the pandemic and Liz Truss’ mini budget in 2022, which increased the cost of borrowing and inflation.

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“What I’ve got to do, what Kate Forbes, the Economy Secretary will be doing, and Mairi McAllan, the Net Zero Secretary, will be doing is making sure that we line up all of our economic interventions to support the growth agenda,” he said.

“That means making sure that our investment in skills and infrastructure, in the decision-making processes of Government – on planning for example, energy consenting – is done in an efficient and effective way to make sure that Scotland can be a magnet for investment.”

Asked if the Scottish Government had not been “efficient” in recent years in its decision-making, the First Minister said: “We’ve just got to make sure that we tighten up our act and make sure that we demonstrate to investors that Scotland is a place that wants to attract investment and deliver investments quickly.”

The Government, he added, must ensure Scotland is “well positioned” to bring in private sector investment.

Responding, Scottish Labour economy spokesperson Daniel Johnson said: “It is simply not credible that John Swinney has suddenly discovered the importance of economic growth after 17 years of this incompetent and economically illiterate SNP government.

“Under the SNP, Scotland’s economy is flatlining and our vast potential is being squandered. This chaotic and divided party is incapable of delivering for the people of Scotland.

“From cutting cost-of-living support during the cost-of-living crisis to slashing the housing budget during a homelessness crisis, it is clear that the SNP’s priorities are not those of the people of Scotland.”



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