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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 30 June 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 30 June 2017

The summer solstice has come and gone and the balmy days of July are upon us from tomorrow hopefully.   The Scottish Parliament has now risen for its eight week recess (business resumes on Tuesday 5 September) and Westminster is starting to settle into some semblance of normal business after the General Election which nobody wanted – possibly including Mrs May.

Scotland’s 21 new MPs have started seeking slots for their maiden speeches.  Glasgow East SNP new boy David Linden and Labour’s shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Lesley Laird were amongst the first ten (of 92) new MPs to speak in the debate on the Queen’s Speech. This piece of Commons theatrics is often a good bellwether as to who will sink or swim over the next few years in the Westminster pond.  A ‘good maiden’ tends to get noticed by party leaders and media alike and can help an ambitious new MP be fast tracked to promotion.  A poor or nervous performance can have the opposite effect, especially in the two larger parties where there are more new recruits trying to get noticed.

Holyrood’s final week saw a return to the independence debate.  After a tense debate on Tuesday, the First Minister has now put her independence referendum plans (temporarily) on hold after announcing a “reset” of her proposed timetable. She had called for an independence referendum to be held in the autumn of 2018 or spring of 2019, but Nicola Sturgeon told Holyrood she would now delay her plans to introduce legislation for a referendum until after Brexit.

Elsewhere, the Scottish Government has said that it is “likely” to trigger formal dispute resolution talks over the £1bn Conservative deal with the DUP at Westminster. Ministers in Scotland believe that funding should also be heading north of the border in light of the agreement of extra money for Northern Ireland. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has written to Treasury chief Liz Truss asking for an “urgent” meeting. A Scottish Government spokesman said the deal was a “gross breach of the established principles of devolution”.

And finally, we say goodbye to Gordon Wilson, leader of the SNP from 1979 to 1990 and MP for Dundee East who died on Sunday. He is often credited with caretaking the party during the Thatcher years when the SNP struggled to get more than a couple of MPs (including himself) elected. A Dundee lawyer, Gordon Wilson belonged to a less frenetic age of politics when ‘London’ was a far off distant land and Holyrood little more than a pipe dream amongst the political left.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 June 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 June 2017

 

There was some sense of normality at Westminster this week as the Queen delivered her traditional speech that starts the new parliamentary session.  It had been delayed by a few days to allow the Tories to try and reach a deal with the DUP to prop up Theresa May’s minority government, but that was not achieved.  The Prime Minister has pledged to bring the United Kingdom “closer together” and said 19 of the 24 bills outlined in the speech will apply in whole or in part to Scotland. Scottish Secretary David Mundell said there will “undoubtedly” be more powers devolved to Edinburgh after Brexit.

Scotland’s opposition parties had a pretty negative reaction to HM’s speech, which was dominated by Brexit-related Bills. Scottish Labour, in particular, continued to use language that made it clear they remain on a General Election war footing. Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird MP said: “This was a weak, vague and mean-spirited programme from a Tory government in meltdown.”

For the SNP, their focus was on the lack of a stable government with a strongly worded statement saying: “The complete lack of negotiating competence within the Tory party has been laid bare after it emerged that they are struggling to secure a deal with the DUP to prop up their government.”

Skye MP Ian Blackford was elected as the new Westminster leader of the reduced SNP group and most of the former front bench spokespersons were re-appointed.
It was quite telling, however, that former Deputy Leader and Economy spokesperson, Stewart Hosie, was left out of the new line-up.

On the government benches, Scotland finally has a second UK minister at the Scotland Office, albeit an appointment not without some controversy.

Conservative MEP Dr Ian Duncan has been appointed a Life Peer and will work with Scottish Secretary David Mundell, particularly on Brexit issues relevant to Scottish interests.  Opposition parties criticised Dr Duncan’s appointment as he failed to win a Commons seat earlier this month (by just 21 votes).  A legal challenge is now under way as Ruth Davidson tries to bypass Belinda Don, the second candidate on the MEP list after Ian Duncan, in favour of the fifth placed candidate and her personal choice for Europe, Iain McGill.

East Dunbartonshire MP Jo Swinson has been elected unopposed as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats.  There is a suggestion in this week’s media that she and Sir Vince Cable, the likely new UK leader, have agreed that he would stand down within three years to allow her to stand for the leadership.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 16 June 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 16 June 2017

 

A full week on since the snap 2017 General Election and Scotland’s 59 new (21) and returning (38) MPs have all been sworn in. Theresa May has almost completed her minority Conservative Government, shored up by a controversial ‘Confidence and Supply’ deal with the ten strong DUP group.  And the Queen’s Speech has been postponed a few days until next Wednesday (21 June), a rare move which has attracted criticism from a clearly reinvigorated UK Labour party.

The BBC prepared this brief overview of the new boys and girls representing Scottish seats and it gives a good flavour of their diverse backgrounds: Scotland’s new MPs

On the UK Ministerial benches, David Mundell, who increased his majority 12-fold, has been re-appointed as Scottish Secretary. The amiable former Minister of State, Lord Dunlop, has left the Government but a replacement, expected to be a new Scottish MP, has yet to be announced.   The final stages of Theresa May’s reshuffle have been delayed due to the London tower block fire on Wednesday.

Across the floor of the Commons, Jeremy Corbyn has appointed Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Lesley Laird as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland. Ms Laird won her seat in last week’s election, one of six gains from the SNP, and is a former deputy leader of Fife Council. She previously worked in the electronic, semiconductor and financial service industries in a variety of senior human resources roles.

The loss of the SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson in Moray, meant that a new figurehead was required.  Three SNP MPs, first elected in 2015 and re-elected last week, contested the high profile post and Highlander Ian Blackford was successful.  Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman was elected as Deputy Leader.

One footnote from the General Election was the arrival of two new Conservative MSPs to Holyrood.  This follows the election of two regional list MSPs to Westminster.  In the Highlands and Islands, Holyrood magazine sales executive Jamie Halcro Johnston will succeed Douglas Ross, newly elected as MP for Moray.  And in the North East, Aberdeen Council’s Depute Provost Tom Mason replaces Ross Thomson, the new MP for Aberdeen South. Councillor Mason intends to remain an Aberdeen councillor, donating his allowances to charity.

In economic news, unemployment has fallen again to pre-recession levels, and the latest monthly Bank of Scotland business managers’ survey suggests that Scotland’s private sector grew last month, with output reaching the highest level since February. Businesses put the growth down to expansion in the services sector, while manufacturing production also remained strong. Meanwhile, cost pressures eased marginally, remaining steep overall, however growth remained below that of the UK as a whole.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider – GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS SPECIAL Friday 9 June 2017

Scottish Political Insider – GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS SPECIAL Friday 9 June 2017

The morning after the night before… The results are all in and it is clear that Theresa May’s snap election gamble has failed spectacularly.  Across the UK, no party won an overall majority and Mrs May will make a speech later this morning amid calls for her resignation. The SNP has returned the most seats in Scotland, but has suffered heavy losses including former First Minister Alex Salmond.

SNP Depute Leader, Angus Robertson, lost his seat to the Conservative’s Douglas Ross, a regional MSP. That will mean a new MSP and the next Conservative on the Highlands & Islands regional list is Jamie Halcro Johnston, who was standing in Orkney and Shetland.

Another Conservative regional MSP, Ross Thomson gained Aberdeen South for the Conservatives with a majority of 4,752, meaning another new north east MSP.

Ian Murray held Edinburgh South for Labour with the largest majority of the night, 15,514 – 54.9% of the vote. Former MSP Jim Eadie followed with 22.5% of the vote, a decrease of 11.3% for the SNP. Elsewhere John Lamont took Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk for the Conservatives, the constituency he resigned his Holyrood seat to contest. He received another of the largest majorities with 11,060. Overall it has been a result with a number of tiny majorities, Pete Wishart held Perth & North Perthshire for the SNP by only 21 and Stephen Gethins held North East Fife by just 2 votes over the Lib Dems

Former coalition minister, Jo Swinson, won back East Dunbartonshire, a seat she held previously from 2005 to 2015. She gained the seat from the SNP’s John Nicolson with a majority of 5,339.

So who are Scotland’s new MPs?

Conservatives

  • Colin Clark defeated Alex Salmond in Gordon with a majority of 2,607.
  • Douglas Ross won Moray with a majority of 4,159.
  • Ross Thompson won Aberdeen South with a majority of 4,752.
  • John Lamont took Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk, the constituency he resigned his Holyrood seat to contest. He received one of the largest majorities of the night with 11,060
  • Bill Grant won Ayr, Carrick & Cumnock with a majority of 2,774, defeating the SNP’s Corri Wilson whose share of the vote dropped by 14.7%.
  • Andrew Bowie defeated Stuart Donaldson (SNP) in West Aberdeenshire & Kincardine with 7,949.
  • Stephen Kerr gained Stirling from the SNP with small majority of 148. Former MP Steven Paterson reduced his share of the vote by 8.9%.
  • David Duiguid gained Banff & Buchan, defeating Eilidh Whiteford (SNP) who won 60.2% of the vote in 2015. He holds a majority of 3,693.
  • Paul Masterton won East Renfrewshire ahead of the SNP’s Kirsten Oswald with a majority of 7,150.
  • Luke Graham won Ochil & Perthshire with a majority of 3,359. The seat was previously held by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, who came second with 35.3% of the vote.
  • Kirstene Hair was elected in Angus with a majority of 2,644. The Conservatives gained the seat from Michael Weir who held it for the SNP in 2015.
  • Alister Jack won Dumfries & Galloway, ahead of SNP MP Richard Arkless, with a majority of 5,643.

Labour

  • Gerard Killen won Rutherglen & Hamilton West with a majority of 265. Labour gained the seat ahead of Margaret Ferrier (SNP), who took 18,836 votes to Labour’s 19,101.
  • Danielle Rowley gained Midlothian ahead of Owen Thompson (SNP) with a majority of 885.
  • Paul Sweeney has unseated Anne McLaughlin (SNP) in Glasgow North East. Labour and the Conservatives (who finished third) increased their share of the vote by 9% and 8% respectively.
  • Martin Whitfield gained East Lothian from George Kerevan (SNP) with a majority of 3,083.
  • Lesley Laird retook Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, Gordon Brown’s former seat, with a majority of 259. The SNP’s defending MP Roger Mullin came in second, with his share of the vote dropping by 16%.
  • Coatbridge, Chryston & Bellshill will be represented by Hugh Gaffney, who gained the seat from Phil Boswell (SNP) with a majority of 1586.

Liberal Democrat

  • Former minister, Jo Swinson, won East Dunbartonshire back from the SNP’s John Nicolson with a majority of 5339.
  • Former MSP Jamie Stone defeated Paul Monaghan (SNP) in Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross with a majority of 2,044.
  • Journalist Christine Jardine regained Edinburgh West from the SNP with a majority of 2,988. Toni Giugliano (SNP) came in second with 28.6% of the vote.

SNP

  • David Linden was the lone SNP gain, for Glasgow East, with a majority of just 75 and 38.8% of the vote. The seat was previously held by former SNP turned independent MP, Natalie McGarry, who did not contest the election.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider – GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL – Thursday 8 June 2017

Scottish Political Insider – GENERAL ELECTION SPECIAL – Thursday 8 June 2017

Hooray!  The 2017 General Election campaign has finally ended and we encourage everyone reading this to remember to vote today.  Polls close at 10pm tonight. Reply now with your prediction of the leading party (winning most seats) and voter turnout across the UK.  In 2015 the Conservatives were the leading party and voter turnout was 66.4%.

It has been an often bitter campaign and the UK polls have narrowed significantly in the final fortnight.  One late Survation poll on Wednesday night even suggested a Labour lead.  It is now unlikely that Theresa May will get her landslide majority, but all the signs are that she will get her own mandate for the next five years. Jeremy Corbyn has emerged a less enigmatic figure in recent weeks, but still far short of the PM in waiting that his (relatively inexperienced) campaign team had hoped.

Nicola Sturgeon has had a credible campaign but she will lose a clutch of the 56 SNP MPs elected in 2015, quite possibly including her Westminster leader Angus Robertson.  Other possible SNP casualties are Joanna Cherry, Pete Wishart, Richard Arkless and Calum Kerr.

Tim Farron is unlikely to be celebrating tomorrow.  His dreams of a Lib Dem revival have been squeezed and his party will do well to win a dozen seats (albeit that would be a 50% increase on 2015).

So what more to expect in Scotland?  It will be a good night for Ruth Davidson as her Tory foot soldiers have fought a vigorous, anti-second independence referendum campaign.  They will be rewarded with a handful of gains across the south of Scotland, Aberdeenshire and potentially in Moray and Perthshire as well. Look out for the Tories overtaking Labour as for second place in at least half of Scotland’s 59 seats.

The Lib Dems will be squeezed further but sniper-like targeting of resources and activists mean they will almost certainly retake Edinburgh West (Christine Jardine) and East Dunbartonshire (Jo Swinson), both lost to the SNP in 2015.  Alistair Carmichael will hold on in Orkney and Shetland and just maybe they will retake North East Fife, won at Holyrood last year by Scottish leader Willie Rennie.

The Labour party’s vote is likely to hold steady and they should hold their sole 2015 MP (Ian Murray). But there are precious few signs the party will win any others in Scotland unless a low turnout keeps SNP voters at home.

All results should be known by about 7am, including Northern Ireland which normally counts on the Friday. The Tory majority should be clear around 5am and, unless it is very close, the general direction of travel by 3am. If you want to check declaration times for constituency results, you can find these here http://election.pressassociation.com/Declaration_times/general_2017_by_time.php

The Perceptive team will be monitoring the results throughout the night and offering tailored updates to existing PA clients and on request to any others.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 2 June 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 2 June 2017

The General Election campaign has concluded its final full week and all the parties are gearing up for the final push towards polling day next Thursday.  Next week’s Insider will be issued on Thursday (8 June) and will include our team’s best guess for the outcome in Scotland.

The SNP was the last of the main parties to publish their manifesto, on Tuesday of this week but delayed a week by the Manchester bombing.  Their focus is on ‘a fairer society’ – and a pledge to hold a second independence referendum at the end of the Brexit negotiations is included.  A link is available here: https://www.snp.org/manifesto

The Scottish Greens, who are contesting just 3 out of Scotland’s 59 seats, have also published a very modest Scotland manifesto: Scottish Greens 2017

The main talking point from Wednesday’s live BBC TV debate was the absence of the Prime Minister, with home secretary Amber Rudd stepping in at the last minute. Mrs May defended her decision by stating she was concentrating on meeting potential voters on the campaign trail rather than “squabbling” with other politicians. That didn’t stop the hashtag #whereistheresa trending on Twitter before the debate had even begun.

There were also clashes over immigration, food banks and magic money trees, with heated talks about coalitions in what was often a scrappy and ill-tempered debate.

So with just under a week to go, what are the polls predicting? It depends which one you believe. A YouGov poll on Wednesday evening gave Labour their highest rating since 2014 at 39%, trailing the Conservatives by just 3% – the narrowest gap between the two main parties so far during the campaign. Other polls tell a different story, with Kantar putting the Conservatives on 43% and Labour on 33%.

In Scotland, pollsters suggest the SNP are maintaining a comfortable lead on 43%, with the Conservatives and Labour neck-and-neck on 25% each.

YouGov have also had a stab at projecting how many seats each party will win. The results suggest a hung parliament, with the Conservatives taking 310 seats, which is 16 seats short of an overall majority. The calculation is based on the responses of 50,000 people who have taken part in other YouGov polls. More information on how YouGov have made this interesting projection can be found at https://yougov.co.uk/news/2017/05/31/yougovs-election-model/

The polls may be suggesting a more closely run election than many have expected, but if the past year in politics has taught us anything, it’s that absolutely anything could happen!

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk


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