My Column

Humstrung FM given a green plight

  • Date: Monday 10th April 2023
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In any walk of life, but especially in business, you need to ensure you have the right team around you. However, as Humza Yousaf was heckled from the gallery at his very first First Minister's Questions, it feels that those most likely to sabotage his tenure are sitting closer to him in parliament than the climate protestors that were so keen to ruin his big day.


As I touched on in my column last week, I believe that Scotland’s First Minister has a real fight on his hands if he is to drag Scotland in the right direction when it comes to the economy and growth. However, how do you do so when both hands are tied behind your back due to a polarising alliance with the anti-business Greens?


Yes, without a coalition the SNP would be governing a minority administration. There would be important bills lost within parliament, and every vote would be an uphill struggle, but as the country, alongside the rest of the UK, faces an unprecedented cost of living crisis, wouldn’t the government prefer this, rather than being hamstrung by power sharing?


It’s obvious that we must make the most of every economic opportunity that is presented to us. The government must work closely with businesses to stimulate both inward and outward investment, to ultimately grow the country and safeguard both jobs and the economy.


But, when you look at the significance of the Bute House Agreement and who the SNP have gotten into bed with, I’m not sure the First Minister and this current administration will be able to deliver any of these scenarios due to the Greens.


It seems that many within the SNP membership believe that may be the case too as I read survey stats in the media claiming 43 per cent of respondents did not want to see the coalition continue, including 35 per cent of SNP voters, whilst only 33 per cent backed the Bute House deal. That’ll surely sound the alarm from within the government.


MSP Fergus Ewing was also keen to take a swipe recently at the partnership, launching a blistering attack stating ‘We’ve allied ourselves to a small group of fringe extremists that want to dismantle our economy, put hundreds of thousands on the dole and basically close down rural Scotland.’ Strong words from the former SNP Rural Affairs Secretary.


With two junior minister positions given to the Green Party as part of the agreement and upheld by the new First Minister as he continues down a stormy path, the party continues to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons.


Tenants’ Rights Minister, Patrick Harvie, and the de-facto head of the Greens has come under intense scrutiny due to his controversial emergency rent freeze legislation, which froze rents in every sector in Scotland for tenants until just last week. However, in an embarrassing U-turn, it was announced in January that they would be getting rid of the rent freeze this month to allow landlords to increase rent by three per cent instead.


I may be biased, as it is a sector I operate in successfully, but how can Patrick Harvey show such a basic lack of knowledge in simple economics and market forces? Pushing through an ill thought-out piece of legislation, which has resulted in a fall of the number of available properties available for rent and caused rents for new tenants to rise at a faster rate than in the rest of the UK, as landlords are forced to pass on the pinch to new renters.


It’s not just Patrick Harvie who is causing damaging headlines either. Throw in MSP Ross Greer’s fixation on denying a proposed £40million sustainable tourist destination in Balloch, an area crying out for investment and job opportunities, and you potentially have a difficult choice to make as the new First Minister for both your party and the people of Scotland.


As First Minister, do you actively court business to ensure the success of the country and to ultimately achieve the aim of independence? Or instead chose a partnership with the anti-business, anti-growth, anti-investment and anti-jobs Greens to hold onto a small majority, but will likely oversee your demise as the First Minister before you can even get started?


Hopefully this is not a case of keep your friends close, but your enemies closer for Humza Yousaf.




As we have seen recently, when interest rates rise, borrowing costs become more expensive, causing many potential buyers to reconsider purchasing property.

However, despite this new economic reality, there are always opportunities for those who are willing to take a calculated risk.

By investing in undervalued properties, renovating or developing them, and generating rental income, investors can build a profitable real estate portfolio that will provide passive returns for years to come.

I’ll give you a perfect example. The property company I founded, SRA Ventures Limited, recently purchased an industrial site in Lanark that’s currently home to a Royal Mail sorting office.

We looked at this investment last year when it was open to offers over £647,000. After deciding to hold off we managed to revisit the opportunity this year and secured a deal at £500,000. The investment involves long-term risk and only time will tell of the validity of our purchase as we, like all investors, are at the mercy of the market.

When acquiring a property for rental, one thing that can’t be understated is the reliability of the tenant. All the analysis in the world can’t help you if your tenant stops paying, and replacing a tenant can be timely and expensive.

For us however, it is worth the risk as we predict that the property will generate passive income for years to come with Royal Mail contracted for the next 13 years at £42,500 per annum.

I’ll come back to this one in my column in a few years’ time when I’ll hopefully be using it as an example of how it pays to be opportunistic.



We recently heard Scotland will be home to the world’s first full size self-driving bus services.

But what really gave me a laugh was the fact they’ll have two members of staff on board.

Doesn’t that make any cost-cutting angel obsolete?  This means a self-driving bus will require 100 per cent more staff than before. Holmes won’t be required to figure out the inefficiencies here.

Secondly, I lamented at the cultural hole that will be left behind. Assuming things get a little safer and the buses come without any on-board staff, who are we to thank?

It’s good manners, as well as tradition, to acknowledge the driver when you disembark. Will the the cheery chant of “thanks driver!” soon be a lost relic found only in the watching of nostalgic TV?



It was interesting to see the UK government’s food tsar, Henry Dimbleby, quit his role in order to freely criticise the Tories' "insane" inaction against obesity.

Tasked for writing the National Food Strategy before he quit his job, Dimbleby felt that many of his recommendations were not being followed in addressing the damage the food industry is causing when it comes to public health and the climate.

He reckons that by 2035, the NHS will be spending more on type 2 diabetes than it does treating all cancers.

We already know that diabetes in this country is a huge problem, costing NHS Scotland a whopping billion pounds a year.  So this worrying prediction doesn’t seem improbable and paints a bleak picture indeed.




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