Hardly new, either, are their concerns about the planning system and its sclerotic effect on economic activity, but that they reportedly think many politicians and local authorities don't appreciate the profundity of the current economic slowdown is clearly of a different nature.
More interesting, however, is their claim that the SNP government is failing to curtail the increasing reliance of Scotland on the public sector, and particularly damaging is likely to be the accusation that Mr Salmond's administration is like Labour in "SNP clothing".
While the "Salmond three" apparently acknowledge the Scottish Government's limitations with respect to minority administration and the devolution settlement, perhaps their disappointment with regard to the lack of substantive political change demonstrates how out of touch business is with politics.
In relation to business and the economy, should the SNP really have been expected to be fundamentally different to Labour? Since the party's raison d'etre is an independent Scotland, to that extent there's nothing to prevent the SNP being a broad church in other respects. Of course, it has its socialists and "Tartan Tories", but if it's possible to categorise the party from an armchair in Dundee then it looks distinctly left-leaning on social issues (indeed, politically correct), economically redistributionist but with a business-friendly face and largely embracing the market - no one can forget Alex Salmond's slip regarding the fact that us Scots "didn't mind" the economics of Thatcherism.
Thus the party looks distinctly "third way" and to that extent perhaps nationalist social democrats, and to some degree a 'tartan new Labour', at least regarding social and economic issues. Therefore - and notwithstanding idealistic but unrealistic manifesto commitments such as the Scottish Futures Trust - should business really be too surprised about the SNP's failure to rein in the public sector? Which government doesn't promise efficiency savings and suchlike, but then fails to deliver any substantive progress? And why should business have perceived the SNP to be any different in this regard - the "bonfire of the quangos", for example, was quickly doused to a few glowing embers, with the limited progress thus far to a large extent merely window dressing by shifting staff onto the central government payroll. Plus ca change, as Bill Jamieson says in the Scotsman, and he sums up the current situation and future prospects in the following terms:
As for Holyrood, its concerns remain bleakly those of a parliament for the public sector, not for the nation. Outside of this world, there is a widespread sense that government in Scotland is far too big. Indeed, it seems the only growth industry we have left. But relying on an ever-expanding public sector for recovery as the enterprise sector buckles and tax revenues plunge is to place Scotland on an utterly unsustainable path.Corruption and cronyism are also an integral part of politics and the public sector and this, of course, is well documented. However, in this regard and with respect to business being out of touch with politics, a couple of recent newspaper pieces brought these two issues into focus. First, news that a Holyrood employee would receive £270,000 as part of a redundancy plan that the official herself was involved in drawing up.
At the same time an article by Next chief executive Simon Wolfson rightly lamented the "arcane working practices", stifling bureaucracy and waste in the public services, and called for more "latitude for managers". However, to illustrate the point he said:
Let me give you one small example of the sort of change that could easily be made. Currently all public sector vacancies must be advertised externally and candidates interviewed even if the post can be filled successfully internally - often by someone who has been doing the job well while the post has been empty. This is money poured down the drain. Not only is the cost of advertising high, the process of phoney interviews along with all the paperwork wastes hours of time. We should leave it to managers to decide whether to advertise a vacancy rather than making it an article of management dogma.Of course, there is some merit in his suggestion, but on the other hand this looks like a licence for cronyism - perhaps the "phoney interviews" are unnecessary if someone has effectively been selected for the post on merit, but what if the job is going to a friend, relative or party political associate?
Yes, in some respects more 'management latitude' is desirable, but not too much! A few days ago I repeated Lord Acton's famous dictum: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." In a more contemporary and prosaic manner the constant need to keep politicians and officialdom in check was ably demonstrated by Stephen Glenn's recent compendium of (George Dubbya) Bushisms, one of which is:
If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator.