Mr Ewing, the former rural affairs secretary, had much to say on the economy – the subject of tonight’s programme – but also raised other issues which will set him at odds with his party’s leadership.
Here are three key points from the show.
1. Mr Ewing said the Scottish Government would lose its legal battle with its UK counterparts over the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
The legislation makes the process easier for a transgender person to obtain a gender recognition certificate (a document giving them legal recognition in their acquired gender). It removes the need for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, shortens the period of time they need to live in their need gender and reduces the age threshold for applicants for a certificate from 18 to 16.
The bill was passed in Holyrood last December but stopped from becoming law by the Conservative Government which argued it was not compatible with equalities legislation across the UK (which eg gives women the right to single sex spaces such as toilets, hospital wards and changing rooms).
During the show Mr Ewing clearly departed from the party line by arguing the Scottish Government would lose the legal case.
“They’re going to lose the court [case] on gender recognition which has done nobody any good,” he told the programme.
2. He criticised the direction of Scottish Government policy while praising its leadership under Alex Salmond.
Mr Ewing made clear that he believed what he considered shortcomings in government policy weren’t just the fault of the Greens.
“Even the staunchest critic of the extremist Greens, like me, wouldn’t say that it’s all their fault,” he said.
“I do think that the Scottish Government should be supporting industry, we should be praising our brilliant sectors, in finance, in oil and gas for which we’ll need for decades to come, in renewables, in life sciences, in food and drink.
“That’s what we used to do, if you don’t mind me saying so, when you were the boss. But instead of putting Scotland first, instead of putting our people first, we seem to be pursuing all sorts of weird and wonderful policies, the only thing they have in common is that they’re deeply unpopular, as well as in some cases being damaging to the economy.”
3. He suggested he was unlikely to take a less critical approach to key Scottish Government policies in future.
Mr Ewing faces being suspended from the SNP group by his colleagues at Holyrood next Wednesday.
However, rather than adopting a more conciliatory tone ahead of the crunch meeting the MSP stepped up his attack on the administration’s policies which he believes are having a damaging impact on business and Scotland’s economy. He suggested too that rather than being criticised for pointing out shortcomings of some of the policies, he should have thanked after a number of have been shelved.
“I’ve spoken out against policies which have been damaging to economic growth, for example the deposit return scheme which was uniformly opposed by businesses, the current madcap policy to impose heat pumps on inappropriate properties and the current plans to require law abiding, hard-working providers of bed and breakfasts and guest houses. who have done no harm to anybody for decades, to get a licence by October or become criminalised leading to thousands, thousands of them leaving the sector,” he said.
“Now I’ve spoken out and they’ve scrapped deposit return, they’ve scrapped highly protected marine areas…but the way I look at it is rather different. As my late father used to say “never do anyone a favour – they will never forgive you.”