Friday, 26 December 2003

Some modest suggestions for membership of the Scottish Cabinet

Scotland has produced quite a few well-known entrepreneurs who are often on the news these days. There's Brian Soutar of Stagecoach, Sir Tom Farmer, founder of Kwik-Fit, and Tom Hunter now of the Entrepreneurial Exchange.

Our most outspoken businessman is surely Ivor Tiefenbrun of Linn Products

Tiefenbrun’s success has been hard won. Too hard won. "I’ve put my life into this company," he says. "But if I had the chance to do it again, I’d say no.

"In fact I think I’m going to write a book. I’ll call it Shafted: Being In Business In Scotland."

Tiefenbrun is an outspoken critic of a government and public "who don’t understand and don’t care" about the decline of British manufacturing.

So how "outspoken" is Mr Tiefenbrun?
"But business is tough. It’s like pushing water up a hill. We’ve got an ever increasing cost base, the corporate tax regime is iniquitous, and the planning system has crippled us for years. Then there’s about 40,000 pieces of f***ing legislation that have come in under this government, all 40,000 of which are a pain in the f***ing a***.
"The thing is, we’ve paid millions of pounds in taxes over the years. And what has the government ever done to support industry? It’s p***ed the money away. They’re spending £40m to build a pedestrian bridge across the Clyde. They don’t even have a minister in Scotland specifically for industry, let alone manufacturing."
Having met Mr Tiefenbrun a couple of times I have to say that he's toned down his thoughts on politicians a little bit for this interview!

I don't really approve of there being a Minister for Industry, but Ivor's our man for the job if we must have one. I suspect that he would scrap those "40,000 pieces of f***ing legislation" by lunchtime on his first day in office and then retire.

While we're at it, let's bring Precious Ramotswe over from Botswana and put her in charge of the Justice Ministry.