THE Scottish Government has appointed a new council tasked with drawing up a 10-year strategy for the country’s “economic transformation”.

Seventeen experts have been invited to help “unleash entrepreneurial potential and grow Scotland’s competitive business base”, with “good and green” jobs prioritised.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes will chair the council and emphasised the need to “work together” as Scotland emerges from the pandemic.

The group has proven controversial due to the appointment of “arch Unionist” and former Treasury permanent secretary Sir Nick Macpherson. During the 2014 referendum campaign, he advised George Osborne to rule out a currency union with Scotland in the event of a Yes vote.

Here's who’s who on the new advisory council.

Maggie McGinlay

Maggie McGinlay is the chief executive officer of Energy Transition Zone. The former director of energy at Scottish Enterprise spent 20 years at the body, before becoming deputy CEO of Opportunity North East (ONE). ONE, set up by North Sea oil billionaire Ian Wood, is an “economic consultant” focused on “green economic recovery, jobs for the future and the just transition to a low-carbon economy and net-zero emissions”.

Lynne Cadenhead

Lynne Cadenhead is the chair of Women’s Enterprise Scotland. She is also an ambassador at Women On Boards UK Ltd, which aims to get more women in senior leadership and board positions across business sectors. Cadenhead has varied experience in board games, security, science and technology and is also the chair of Unicef UK’s Scotland Advisory Board.

Chris van der Kuyl

Chris van der Kuyl is the chairman of 4J Studios – one of the most successful videogame developers in the UK. The company is known for developing the console edition of the popular Minecraft game. Alongside his games experience, van der Kuyl is the principal of venture capital firm Chroma Ventures and chairman of meal delivery company Parsley Box.

Sean McGrath

Sean McGrath has been the CEO of Entrepreneurial Scotland for one month, after serving as finance director for the last two years. The charity, based at the University of Strathclyde, provides programmes promoting entrepreneurialism. Prior to that McGrath was financial controller of London and Scottish Investments for three years.

Mark Logan

Mark Logan is currently a professor at the University of Glasgow’s Computing Science but previously spent four years as chief operating officer of Skyscanner. He has over 25 years of experience in start-up and internet tech firms.

Nick Macpherson

Nick Macpherson is the most controversial appointee to the Scottish Government’s new economic advisory council. As permanent secretary to the Treasury he “strongly” advised former chancellor George Osborne to reject a currency union with Scotland, allowing the pound to be shared. His memo was published at the time in an unusual move. He defended his actions in 2015 saying in an “extreme” case like the Scottish independence referendum – which he described as “people … seeking to destroy the fabric of the state”, the usual civil service neutrality rules don’t apply. National columnist George Kerevan said he believes Macpherson’s appointment is the “final validation there will be no independence referendum under the present SNP administration”.

READ MORE: SNP appointment of 'arch Unionist' to economic council criticised by Yessers

The House of Lords member, Baron Macpherson of Earl’s Court, served as permanent secretary to three chancellors and managed the department through the financial crisis of 2007.

Sir Anton Muscatelli

Anton Muscatelli is currently the principal of the University of Glasgow. He is considered to be one of the top economists in the UK, having served as a consultant to the World Bank and European Commission. Under the Labour government he acted as an economic advisor to the Scottish secretary, and has advised the Treasury Select Committee on monetary policy since 2017. In Scotland he has been on the Council of Economic Advisers of the First Minister and advised Nicola Sturgeon on protecting Scotland’s relationship with the EU post-Brexit. His contributions to higher education saw him knighted in the 2017 honours.

The National:

Jamie Grant

Jamie Grant is the managing director and head of corporate banking for Scotland at Barclays bank. He has worked in various positions at the bank since 2005. Prior to that he spent nearly four years at the Bank of Scotland as a structured finance associate director.

Roz Foyer

Roz Foyer was appointed general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), becoming the first woman to hold the post, in 2020. Foyer led a successful anti-privatisation campaign at the Benefits Agency, before she moved into her trade union career. Prior to become STUC general secretary she served on its general council for many years. Foyer has backed holding another Scottish independence referendum, with or without UK Government consent, but believes a future vote should not be a Yes/No binary choice.

The National:

Professor Graeme Roy

Professor Graeme Roy is the head of economics at the University of Strathclyde and director of the Fraser of Allander Institute. He spent nearly nine years working in the Scottish Government as head of the First Minister’s Policy Unit and a senior economic adviser.

Jackie Brierton

Jackie Brierton is the CEO of GrowBiz, a Perthshire-based business development service for rural firms. She has served as a member of the Scottish Government’s National Council of Rural Advisers and is the co-founder of Women’s Enterprise Scotland.

Councillor John Alexander

John Alexander is an SNP councillor and currently leads Dundee City Council. He has won the Local Politician of the Year award and was named Leader of the Year by Local Government Information Unit. Alexander is also the chair of Scottish Cities Alliance, which aims to attract investment to Scotland’s seven cities – Inverness, Aberdeen, Peth, Dundee, Stirling, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Mark Blyth

Mark Blyth, director of the William R Rhodes Centre for International Economics and Finance at Brown University in Rhode Island, is a recent convert to Scottish independence. Last year the leading economist called for Scotland to go it alone instead of staying attached to the UK’s “rapidly imploding” growth model. “Scotland can do better than simply subsist on inter-regional transfers,” he said on Twitter, adding that commentary from former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson had “tipped [him] over the edge” to Yes.

The National:

Mariana Mazzucato

Mariana Mazzucato is professor in the Economics of Innovation and Public Value at University College London. The influential economist, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers, says while she has not discussed independence with Nicola Sturgeon does not support it herself. She told the New Statesman it would be a “pity” if the Union broke up.

Emma Parton

Emma Parton is the founder of The Highland Soap Company, which produces handmade natural soap and organic skincare products. She started the company from home during the 1990s when she struggled to find organic, nicely packaged skincare products in the West Highlands. The company is based in Fort William.