Scottish Government 'must be clear it does not share ex-donor's values'

Sir Brian Souter, a well-known social conservative, helped set up a business dinner for the First Minister last year.

Scottish Government must make clear it does not share Brian Souter’s values – Patrick Harvie PA Media

The Scottish Government should be clear it does not share the socially conservative values of a former SNP donor who organised an event for the First Minister, a minister has said.

Stagecoach boss Sir Brian Souter was one of the party’s major backers during Alex Salmond’s time in charge, but he stopped contributions when Nicola Sturgeon took over.

While no reason was given, Sturgeon’s liberal stances were at odds with Sir Brian’s well-known conservatism.

The businessman was a major donor to the party under Alex Salmond
The businessman was a major donor to the party under Alex Salmond.

The businessman funded the Keep the Clause campaign in the early days of devolution, which sought to fight against the scrapping of Clause 2A, a measure which prohibited local authorities from “promoting homosexuality” in schools.

This week it was reported Sir Brian was heavily involved in the organisation of a business dinner last year to aid First Minister Humza Yousaf’s reset with the sector.

But speaking to the Daily Record on Saturday, Scottish Green co-leader and Government minister Patrick Harvie said it was his opposition to Sir Brian’s campaign that spurred him to enter the world of politics.

“I would have been genuinely worried if this was something about courting party membership,” he told the newspaper.

“If it’s just about involvement in a government business event, you don’t have to insist that someone supports your politics in order to take part.

“But what has to be really, really clear is that not just my party, but the Scottish Government, does not share the values of Brian Souter.”

The First Minister said on Friday Sir Brian would be treated the same as any other business figure.
The First Minister said on Friday Sir Brian would be treated the same as any other business figure.

There has been no intimation that Sir Brian could return to the SNP fold.

Speaking on Friday, Yousaf said he would be treated the same as any other business figure.

“I’ve made it really clear that I want to engage with businessmen and businesswomen right up and down the country, whether I agree with their views on the constitution, whether I agree with their views politically, whether I agree with their social views,” he said.

“I want to make sure that they’ve got an open door to speak to me, speak to my ministers, so we can hear what business has to say.

“Brian will be treated no differently to any other businessman or businesswoman in the country, and he has been an exceptional businessman in Scotland for many decades.”

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