Conservative MP for Gordon Colin Clark believes the Scottish Government “doesn’t understand” the entrepreneurial spirit created in the north-east through oil and gas as it is too “central belt dominated”.
Mr Clark claimed the Scottish Government is hurting the north-east through increased business rates which, he said, “damage job creation”.
Speaking during a visit to Sparrows Group’s yard in Bridge of Don, Mr Clark referred to the north-east as Scotland’s “golden goose”, saying that the Scottish government was “strangling” it.
Mr Clark said: “The Scottish Government is central belt dominated. It doesn’t understand the free-market and entrepreneurial spirit from the north-east of Scotland. That’s why they take business rates – earned in the north-east of Scotland – to the central belt.
“This is the golden goose and you can’t strangle the golden goose, you have to invest in it. You have to invest in infrastructure, facilities and you have to invest in schools and hospitals. You can’t raise these taxes locally and take them out of the north-east of Scotland.
Mr Clark went on to describe his belief in the importance of the region, claiming that the Scottish Government doesn’t appreciate the “free market principle” of supporting business.
He said: “If the north-east economy coughs, the rest of the country sneezes. This is 15% of the Scottish economy by 7% of the population. The Scottish Government, because they’re ‘statused’, doesn’t understand a free market principle for supporting businesses.
“At a time when the north of Scotland least needed it we have a massive increase in business rates, which is hurting the north-east of Scotland. That damages investment and that damages job creation. They just don’t get it.”
Asked how he believes the north-east can bounce back from the downturn, Mr Clark said: “It’s important that the north-east economy has to diversify and if we’ve been slow to anything during the good years it’s to diversify into others sectors. But oil and gas continues to dominate employment in the north-east. If the six Conservative MPs are down there to do anything it’s to promote business and promote jobs and promote the north-east.”
“This is an industry that has tremendous spin-offs in engineering and technological development and we should still be very optimistic that the north-east of Scotland will play a vital role.”