Comment By Gillian McKenzie
Hugely important for the economy, the focal point in communities, a key driver for Scottish tourism, a significant employer – political parties didn’t hold back in gushing about the importance of the Scottish on-trade when contacted by SLTN last week.
With less than a month to go until the Scottish Parliament election, it’s hardly surprising.
In fact it’s all too familiar.
In the run up to last May’s general election, the independence referendum, and the Scottish Parliament election before that, there was no shortage of promises and pledges emanating from each party’s HQ.
But as the trade is all too aware, making grand gestures ahead of an election is one thing; delivering the goods afterwards can be quite another.
The reality is that, in the five years since the last Scottish election, the on-trade has been well and truly battered.
Despite the proclaimed importance of pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels by politicians of all persuasions, since then it seems the rug has been pulled from under Scotland’s licensed trade – on more than one occasion.
Everything from business rates and VAT to the lower drink drive limit and, most recently, the National Living Wage has chipped away at the trade, with little in the way of mitigation.
Of course this latest round of pledges of support for the trade looks great on paper, but actions really do speak louder than words.
Whatever the outcome on May 5, the new incumbents must practise what they preach if they are to have a vibrant licensed trade to crow about in future.