Dundee and Tayside economic development has been hindered by a Scottish Government who have made the country “unattractive to investment”, Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
In an interview with this paper, he said the development of a Scottish supply chain in renewables and changes to economic policy would help drive growth across industries.
Mr Sarwar claimed the SNP and Scottish Green government at Holyrood had made the country “unattractive” to investment and business.
He said a UK Labour government would be able to fund investment across the country, and the clean energy just transition would be central to achieving economic growth.
The Scottish Conservatives said a Sir Keir Starmer Number 10 would be “disastrous” for the country’s economy because they would “shut down” the oil and gas industry.
And the SNP said both Labour and the Tories had no “route out” of the “Brexit shambles” which had harmed business across Scotland.
Lack of renewables supply chain
Mr Sarwar visited Dundee and met with business leaders from across Tayside and Fife, as well as taking a look at the Port of Dundee.
He lamented a lack of supply chain in Scotland, which meant despite the city’s investment in constructing wind-turbines at the dock, none of the components had been manufactured here.
“We were at Dundee port, looking at the significant upgrades they have made, hearing about future plans and seeing the quite incredible work around the construction of wind turbines,” he said.
“I was struck by both the scale and investment and jobs it is bringing to Dundee.
“And also the huge opportunity there is to expand on it.
“I couldn’t help but be struck by how much more we could leverage in terms of jobs and opportunities by developing the supply chain.
“Nearly every part of the infrastructure that is pulling together a wind turbine in Dundee, is being imported from another part of the world.
“Imagine if we could build them here in Scotland. We need to invest a lot more in that.
Dundee ‘brimming with potential’
When asked what business leaders and industry heads discussed with him, Mr Sarwar said top of the list was a stable government which worked in unison with them.
“Business leaders from across Tayside… want a stable business environment, a government they are working in partnership with rather than is working against them,” he said.
“They want a breakdown of the barriers that exist to doing business.
“Like a rates system that is fair and a skills system that delivers the workforce they need to develop, not just for now but in the future.
“These are big levers we have in Scotland that we have the power to pull.
“If we look UK wide, economic inactivity is at around 20%. In Dundee it is closer to 29%.
“There is a huge challenge around the High Street, around the city centre, poverty levels, drug deaths and how we deliver health and social care.
“But despite these challenges in Dundee, we have a city brimming with potential.
“There is a huge talent (base) and great symbols in the two universities which are world leading institutions.
“Dundee is a world leader in the gaming industry. There are huge, iconic brands still headquartered in Dundee. It is about how we tap into the positive potential of the city to maximise the economic output.
“That’s partly about better city development, planning and decision making. It’s about having the correct economic plan to maximise investors coming to Dundee.”
‘Unattractive place’ for investment
Mr Sarwar claimed the SNP and Green government had made Dundee, Tayside and Scotland “unattractive” for investment and business development.
He said: “We have to take a more proactive approach, but we also have to ask the question ‘why are businesses finding Scotland a struggle, and why are they choosing to leave?’
“What are the conditions we are creating in the country which create barriers to investment, rather than attracting investment?
“Therefore we have to reform our planning system, use more of a partnership between public and private investment abilities.
“We need to reform how we invest, create a supply chain so we can build here.
“But also look at where government is in the way.
“The sad reality is the partnership between the SNP and the Greens has made Scotland an unattractive place and a hostile environment for people to invest and create here.
“I want to tap into the soft-power of Scotland to maximise our opportunities here, rather than use them as some sort of cultural dividing line.
“We have great ability in Scotland, we have everything we need here in Scotland. We just need a government which backs people up.”
Labour offer no way out of ‘Brexit shambles’
SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “By signing up to the Brexit Britain economy and ditching £28 billion green investment, Keir Starmer’s Labour Party offer businesses nothing more than another decade of poor growth and harmful cuts.
“With the limited powers at our disposal, the SNP is taking action where it can to create a competitive, fairer and more sustainable economy in Scotland – whether it be by providing our farmers and crofters the most generous support package in the UK or abolishing business rates for around 100,000 premises.
“With neither the Tories or Keir Starmer’s Labour Party offering a route out of broken Brexit Britain, only a vote for the SNP is a vote to stand up for Scotland’s businesses by offering an escape from Westminster failure and offering a route to rejoin the largest single market in the world as an independent country.”
Labour would ‘switch-off oil and gas’
Scottish Conservative shadow finance and economy secretary Liz Smith said: “A UK Labour government would be disastrous for Scotland’s economy because of their commitment to shut down a huge chunk of it – our vital North Sea oil and gas industry – immediately.
“Keir Starmer’s party – like the SNP and the Greens – has turned his back on tens of thousands of skilled workers in the north-east, before we have the renewables on stream to meet Scotland’s energy needs.”