This article appeared in the magazine section of the Daily Business news website and can also be viewed here.

As the General Election draws ever closer, I expect most of us long for it to be over, so that the wait to see what will eventually transpire, once the new Government is formed, can begin.

To this observer, the quality of debate seems to get progressively worse with each election, whether at Westminster or Holyrood. Older readers may long for the more respectful and intellectual debates that were typical of true political cut and thrust in the last century.  And those same readers will recall the Groucho Marx quip: “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them… well, I have others”. It seems at times that our politicians adopt much the same approach with their policies.

There is no doubt that we are in challenging times, at home and abroad, and I will not rehearse here the many issues that we face, because we are all too familiar with them and they become more pressing with each passing year.

From a business perspective, it is essential that there is as little uncertainty as possible, hence my longing for the politicking to be over and the reality of what is ahead to be clearer.  Whichever party finds itself in power, there are tough times ahead from what the IFS has described as “a very tight fiscal situation” and huge issues for the UK economy, which has experienced weak growth over the last 16 years.

Our public services desperately need support, and our infrastructure is creaking, and without improved growth how can these imperatives be addressed, except by further increasing the tax burden, which itself impedes growth?

Business is crying out for a joined-up approach and certainty, whether from the Scottish Government, at Holyrood or Government at Westminster.  An imperative must be to devise, and most importantly stick to, plans and initiatives which encourage more investment, including research and development, to allow new skills to develop, and to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit which exists in these islands.

There can be no room for factional interests, whether geographical or political, and government and business must work together as equal partners to achieve the economic growth which will allow us to fund our public services and repair our infrastructure.

In times of change it is also important for business to have access to good advice, and those in professional services will need to be even more alert than usual to what may be lurking around the corner.

I always think that any lawyer is only as good as his clients and that is especially the case in the areas of practice in which we advise. We continue to be inspired by the ways in which our clients have responded to the ever-changing landscape before them and have no doubt they will not shy away from the challenges that await, including inflation which, despite slowing, remains relatively sticky, and continuing high interest rates, which are expected to fall but have not done so as quickly as many had thought or hoped.

For business owners with an exit horizon, the spectre of unspoken, but potential changes to capital gains tax, will always be a concern and may fuel exits.  And changes to CGT or the Enterprise Investment Scheme (or Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme) can also present problems for early-stage companies if private investors who have invested in unquoted SMEs reduce their exposure to that asset class, not to mention a dampening of enthusiasm of entrepreneurs.

Planning ahead is always important, to be ready for whatever may next appear over the horizon, or creep up from behind, and there will always be opportunities for the alert and imaginative.

Amidst any gloom it is always best to maintain a sense of perspective, and so I return to the words and wisdom of Groucho Marx: “I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it should be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow has not arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I am going to be happy in it.”

And, while I expect Groucho did not have in mind taking professional advice to achieve happiness, you never know.