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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 28 July 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 28 July 2017

This week’s report has been written from Rwanda where our political guru Devin Scobie has been visiting as part of a charity related trip.  Reporting live from Kigali, he says they even laid on a Presidential election just in case he was getting election withdrawal symptoms.  Our prediction: a comfortable hold for President Paul Kagame next month.

Closer to home, it has been a quiet week politically.  Scottish and Welsh government ministers met in Cardiff yesterday to discuss opposition to UK Brexit legislation. The two devolved administrations have said they cannot recommend consent be given to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell MSP and Welsh Finance Secretary Mark Drakeford AM said their governments would resist any attempt to take away powers. UK junior Brexit minister Robin Walker has responded, calling for a “grown up conversation” between the governments over the plans.

Scottish Labour remain in bullish mode after a good election last month.  UK leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he is to tour SNP-held constituencies in Scotland next month as he seeks to keep his party on an election footing. Mr Corbyn will spend five days in Scotland, and aims to speak to thousands of voters in marginal seats. The Labour leader remains hopeful the Tory government will collapse, sparking another election and believes 18 of the 64 seats (such as Glasgow East and Airdrie and Shotts) it would need to win in order to secure a majority are in Scotland.

Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson has warned the UK government it must show greater leadership if it wants to survive. Writing for the website UnHerd, Ms Davidson said the government must be “bold” and do more to make the case for Conservatism. She also said people were losing faith in capitalism and were angry about social injustice. The article calls for a “Ctrl + Alt + Del reboot” of Conservatism. Ms Davidson also highlighted various areas where she sees the need for reform, including building more houses and providing more opportunities for the younger generation.

The Scottish Conservatives and the SNP also locked horns over the apparent return of independence to the political agenda.  It has emerged Nicola Sturgeon has decided to meet the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) in the coming weeks to “move forward the case for independence in the current political landscape.” The meeting, confirmed to the National by SIC, has been suggested by sources as a way to allow the SNP to engage with the “wide independence movement.

The Scottish Government has opened a Consultation on the Socio-Economic Duty, closing on Tuesday 12 September. It seeks to collect views on the introduction of the socio-economic duty included in the Equality Act 2010, which has not been implemented by the UK Government since it was passed. Respondents are invited to consider which public bodies should be subject to the duty and how they can demonstrate it is being implemented. Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance said the duty would help embed the ambition to reduce inequalities in all public sector decision-making.

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

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign up to receive it direct to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 21 July 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 21 July 2017


The Scottish and Welsh governments have started a formal dispute process over the UK government’s deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which will see £1bn of additional funding go to Northern Ireland. The Scottish and Welsh governments argue that Barnett formula rules mean they should also be entitled to extra money.  The two devolved administrations have now asked the Treasury to invoke the formal dispute resolution process through the Joint Ministerial Committee.

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has continued to try and take the offensive following a better than expected general election campaign.  He set out plans for a summer campaign in about 100 target seats along with a “social media blitz” as Labour seeks to keep up its momentum from the General Election. Mr Corbyn told the party’s MPs and peers about a campaign to target the 95 most marginal Tory-held seats, including 20 in Scotland (mostly from the SNP, albeit they weren’t officially declared).

Brexit matters was the only political story of note as another paper from the Scottish Government criticised proposals from the UK Government on safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in Scotland, and Scots living in EU countries.  This still leaves many important questions about real day to day issues unanswered, according to the ebullient and grandly tilted Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe, Michael Russell MSP.

A report by the House of Lords EU committee calling on the UK government to “raise its game” in consulting the devolved governments has been welcomed by the opposition parties.  Peers have said there is a “strong case” for Scotland having different Brexit arrangements from the rest of the UK in some areas. The Lords EU committee said the move could be necessary if a UK-wide deal does not reflect Scotland’s needs. It said this could include Scotland setting its own EU immigration goals after Brexit.  The full Lords report is available here: Lords Brexit report

And finally …. We seldom report news about politicians’ private lives, but when the politicians concerned happen to be the leader of the Scottish Labour Party and an SNP MSP tipped for ministerial office, the rules tend to change.  Earlier this week, Kezia Dugdale confirmed that she was in a relationship with SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth.  Support and kind words came from across the political parties, led by Nicola Sturgeon.

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

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign up to receive it direct to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 14 July 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 14 July 2017


This week has been calm by the standard of previous weeks, with social media full of politicians tweeting photos of themselves ‘relaxing’ on holiday and pretending not to bother about politics back home.

Labour remain bullish about their chances in a second snap election as new polls suggest Jeremy Corbyn has overtaken Theresa May in the opinion polls. The Lib Dems have instructed local candidates in their 12 held or target seats to reselect candidates just in case a further election is called. Meanwhile, the Conservatives attempt to paint a picture of business as usual despite growing rumours that David Davis, Amber Rudd and Boris Johnson are preparing leadership bids.

Meanwhile, the SNP are trying to pull themselves back from the loss of more than a third of their MPs at last month’s general election. Nicola Sturgeon is planning to relaunch her government this autumn to head off critics who claim that the SNP administration has concentrated too heavily on independence and has lost its focus. The First Minister has a team of close advisers working on a series of new policy initiatives designed to reinvigorate the party both inside and outside Holyrood.

The plans under consideration include a shake-up of local government, a tough new approach to air pollution and climate change, a different way of dealing with benefits and fresh thinking on economic growth. SNP leaders admit privately that warnings from the opposition that it was time to “get on with the day job” had had an effect on the public’s perception of the Scottish government. More soon.

Party Conferences – one or two people have asked about dates for party conferences so we are happy to advise the following dates have been confirmed:
· 16-19 September – Lib Dems – Bournemouth

· 24-27 September – Labour – Brighton

· 1-4 October – Conservative – Manchester

· 7-10 October – Green Party (England and Wales only) – Harrogate

· 8-10 October – SNP – SEC, Glasgow

· 21-22 October – Scottish Greens – Edinburgh Napier

And finally…. If you are at a loose end during the Edinburgh Festival, former First Minister Alex Salmond will star in his own show at the Edinburgh Fringe. The event will take the format of a chat show, with Mr Salmond sharing “a bit of light-hearted banter and a few behind the scenes revelations about his time in power,” promoters said.

The ex-SNP leader, who lost his Westminster seat in June’s general election, pledged to dish the dirt on political rivals during the one-hour show. ‘Alex Salmond Unleashed’ will run from August 13 to 27, at 1.45pm each day at the Ballroom in the Assembly Rooms on George Street.

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

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign up to receive it direct to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Swimmer Mark gets set to take Manhattan

Swimmer Mark gets set to take Manhattan

A 22-year-old swimmer will this month become the sole Scot to take part in a gruelling open water ‘marathon’ around Manhattan Island in New York City, to raise money for Beatson Cancer Charity.

Mark Deans, who was born and raised in Paisley and now lives in Jordanhill, Glasgow, has already represented Scotland and Great Britain in open water competitions around the world.

On Sunday 23 July, Mark will set out on the longest swim of his career in the company of elite open water swimmers from around the globe, hoping to achieve a winning time over the 28.5 mile course. Most swimmers take between 7-9 hours to complete the race.

Housebuilder and developer Mactaggart & Mickel Group have sponsored Mark since 2015, providing funding to be put towards his costs for travel to competitions worldwide including accommodation, entry fees and equipment, as well as physical conditioning services such as sports massage and physiotherapy.

Mark has been raising money for the Beatson Cancer Charity since 2016.  On this challenge to date he has raised over £1,500 of a £2,000 target, with all money going directly to the Beatson.

He said: “This is going to a tough race as, not only is it longer than a marathon, but you have to swim under each and every of the 20 bridges around Manhattan. However, my training has gone well and I know that once I am in the water, my nerves will disappear. Right now, I am focusing on raising as much money as possible for the Beatson as I would love to hit my target before I leave for New York.”

Morag Cunningham, Director of Fundraising at Beatson Cancer Charity said: “It’s an honour for Beatson Cancer Charity to have the support of Mark. We continue to be amazed by the generosity of our supporters who do incredible feats. It’s their generosity that makes it possible for us to make a difference to the lives of people living with cancer and their loved ones. Good luck Mark, we are in awe of your determination to beat cancer.”

Andrew Mickel, Director of Mactaggart & Mickel, first met Mark when he was working as a lifeguard in his local pool and has since followed Mark’s career around the world.

He said: “Mark is an amazing young man whose passion and dedication for his sport is clear for all to see.  We are proud to support his efforts and wish him well in his fundraising for the Beatson too.”

Anyone wishing to support Mark can donate via his JustGiving page:

Young entrepreneur brings lone worker security tech to market

Young entrepreneur brings lone worker security tech to market

  • 23-year-old Rebecca started her business while still at university 
  • Raised nearly £1m of funding to bring her idea from inception to market 
  • Winner of the 2015 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award for best undergraduate business in the UK 
  • Identified by industry leaders, including Scottish Institute for Enterprise, as a high growth business of the future 
  • Backed by Unipart Group

Rebecca Pick, a young Glasgow-based entrepreneur who was recently named by Scottish Development International as one of the most influential women in technology, has launched her first products – a range of lone worker security tech – to market.

Twenty-three year-old Rebecca – winner of the 2015 Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award for best undergraduate business in the UK – founded her company Pick Protection while still a student at the University of Strathclyde. Since then she has attracted almost £1m of funding which has allowed her to develop a range of security products for lone workers, including a monitored attack alarm, to a market-ready stage.

Pick Protection has grown to a team of nine with 60 years’ collective experience in the security industry and strong tech credentials. The company has the backing of Unipart Security, whose alarm receiving centre will monitor Pick Protection’s alarm devices.

Around eight million people in the UK currently work either in isolation or without direct supervision, and statistics suggest a lone worker is attacked either physically or verbally every nine minutes. Pick Protection’s range of lone worker solutions includes a wearable alarm that is monitored by a BS8484 accredited alarm receiving centre where, upon activation, highly trained operators listen in and access the situation. Once they have verified the emergency they will send the Police as a level 1 response to the user’s location and emergency contacts will be alerted.

Rebecca Pick said: “Growing Pick Protection from the first seed of an idea to a promising young tech company has been a thrilling journey for me and I am delighted to be able to launch our first products. I believe that everyone should feel safe at work, and this safety should be accessible, affordable and reliable. The inspiration behind Pick Protection may not have been work-related – my neighbour at university was attacked and nobody came to help – but after a lot of market research, we have decided to focus the business on lone worker protection.

“The number of lone workers in the UK is growing all the time, yet only around six percent of them currently have protection through monitored safety alarms. However, more and more employers are waking up to the fact that they have a duty of care to ensure the safety of their lone workers. This means there is a huge potential market out there. I believe Pick Protection can be the next high growth tech business to come out of Scotland.”

Pick Protection’s monitored devices will be monitored by Unipart Security’s UK-based NSI Gold Category II Monitored Alarm Receiving Centre in Oxford.

Unipart Chairman and Group Chief Executive, John Neill CBE, said:  “We are delighted to be able to support and invest in a young start-up company led by Rebecca.  She is exactly the kind of energetic entrepreneur that our country needs to help us succeed in the fast changing world of technology.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to help a young person build a business and for our Group to further develop our experience in growing and nurturing start-up technology businesses.”

To find out more information about Pick Protection, visit


Notes to editors

About Rebecca Pick

Rebecca Pick’s entrepreneurial journey began in 2013 when she took part in the University of Strathclyde Enterprise Pathway Programme and also began an internship with the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE). Shortly afterwards, Rebecca discovered a neighbour had been attacked by a stranger, despite shouting for help. This inspired her to think about solutions to ensure help would come if someone was attacked or felt threatened.

She entered an early stage idea to SIE’s Young Innovators Challenge 2014, received £2,500 prize money and took part in winner’s workshops to help further develop her idea. She continued to enter and win competitions, such as the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Award, which gave her a welcome financial boost.

In 2014, Rebecca was invited to join the University of Strathclyde’s Rising Star Programme, which helps with office space and further support. She was then invited to pitch to angel syndicate, Gabriel Investments, and secured her first significant investment of £60,000. Rebecca secured further funding and support from the Converge Challenge in 2015 when she won third prize, making her the first undergraduate to have won a Converge Challenge award. Last year saw her raise £744,000 from Equity Gap, the University of Strathclyde, Gabriel Investment Syndicate, Scottish Investment Bank and Unipart Group, who have also helped with the product’s delivery.

Rebecca was also named as a winner in the Growth Category at the 2017 AccelerateHER Awards, designed to give female-led businesses in Scotland a platform to promote themselves and potentially attract investment.  As a winner, Rebecca was able to travel to California in spring 2017 to meet potential US investors.

Rebecca was named by Scottish Business Insider in May 2017 as one of five Scottish businesswomen to watch this year, and by Scottish Development International in March 2017 as one of the five most influential women in Scottish tech right now –

Pick Protection’s range of products

The Personal Guardian, manufactured in Scotland, is the smallest, lightest alarm on the market with a market-leading battery life, and is accredited to the highest lone-working standard – BS8484. It can be easily attached to a belt, lanyard or clothing.

The device is activated by pressing two buttons on either side, and connects to a smartphone via low energy Bluetooth. The device’s recording ability allows staff at Unipart Security’s NSI Gold Category II Monitored Alarm Receiving Centre to confirm whether an emergency is occurring, and can provide the police with information on the user’s exact GPS location.

Pick Protection is also launching a key fob device, a self-managed app and a monitored app, monitored by a BS8484 accredited alarm receiving centre. Users of all tech products will also have access to a high-tech customer portal which offers functions such as reporting and issue logging.  To find out more, visit


About Unipart Group

Unipart Group is a leading UK manufacturer, full service logistics provider and consultant in operational excellence. Operating across a range of market sectors, including automotive, manufacturing, mobile telecoms, rail, retail and technology, Unipart offers a breadth of services from third party logistics to expert consultancy. The company, which has its headquarters in Oxford, provides services to a growing range of blue chip clients including Jaguar Land Rover, Vodafone, Sky, Sainsburys and many other household names.

Unipart Group received 100%, the highest rating possible, in the Business in the Community 2016 Corporate Responsibility Index – the UK’s leading benchmark of responsible business.  The company also received a national award for Wellbeing at Work award in the Business in the Community’s 2016 Responsible Business Awards and an outstanding achievement in health, safety and environmental management at the International Safety Awards 2017.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 7 July 2017

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 7 July 2017


The Scottish Parliament has started its eight week summer recess and July is traditionally the month when most MSPs take their main holiday.  Parliament is in recess until September but Business Bulletins will be published once a week on each Monday, commencing this week until Monday 4 September 2017, when the normal publication schedule will resume. Our Insider report will continue as usual – but some weeks may be a little shorter than usual.

At Westminster, Glasgow North East Labour MP Paul Sweeney is one of 20 MPs promoted by Jeremy Corbyn to a front-bench role.  Mr Sweeney won back the seat from the  last month and will support Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird as a Scotland spokesperson.

Continuing their summer campaign initiatives, Scottish Labour has unveiled what it is calling a radical blueprint to place Scotland at ‘the cutting edge of the fourth industrial revolution.’  The party’s new industrial strategy sets the goal of making Scotland one of the most productive nations in the western world, which could grow Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by almost £45 billion, and ask businesses to consider limiting the working-week to 48 hours – benefiting 250,000 workers in Scotland.  Labour supports a real living wage of £10-an-hour and a ban on zero hour contracts. The full document is available here:

Scotland’s economy rebounded in the first quarter of this year, boosted by growth in production and services. Official figures showed GDP grew by 0.8%, having shrunk by 0.2% in the previous three months, with Scotland outstripping the UK as a whole.  It saw growth of only 0.2% in the first three months of the year. Both the Scottish and UK governments welcomed the figures which saw Scottish production grow by 3.1% and the services industry expand by 0.3%. On an annual basis, the Scottish economy grew by 0.7%. Equivalent UK growth was 2%. Scottish Government statement: SG GDP statement

An alternative view was offered by the Fraser of Allander Institute which said Scotland’s economy remains is in a “precarious position” with a recession “in the balance”. Their new report from published this week and highlighted extensively by opposition politicians, said Scotland seemed to be “stuck in a cycle of weak growth”.

All information released by the Scottish Government in response to FOI requests will be published online from this week, in line with a commitment to open and transparent government. Information released in response to FOI requests will be made available on as requests are answered, allowing anyone to search and access this information.

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

If you enjoyed this issue of Scottish Political Insider, sign up to receive it direct to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Perceptive Expands Team As Business Thrives

Perceptive Expands Team As Business Thrives

Specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators has added three new team members to its ranks as the award-winning agency continues to thrive.

The appointments follow a series of new business wins and contract renewals by the firm, which has also seen an increase in demand for its tailored social media coaching and flexible in-house communications cover.

Clare Todd, formerly head of communications at ScotRail, joins as communications consultant, Candace Watermeyer is appointed PR and social media manager, while Romina Scott has been recruited as Perceptive Communicators’ first finance and administration officer.  The trio expands the agency to eleven people, with many of the team working remotely for part of the week.

Glasgow-based Perceptive operates across the UK and specialises in construction, technology, life sciences and travel/transport, delivering strategic and creative communications and marketing services. It has recently added a number of new clients including true Student, Wavegarden Scotland and Perth & Kinross Council. With 98% of new business coming from client recommendations, Perceptive has also renewed contracts with existing clients Clyde Gateway and Kier Construction.

Julie McLauchlan, founder and managing director of Perceptive Communicators, said: “The quality of the team impacts on the delivery of results for clients, so attracting these talented individuals maintains our high standards.  Clare and I worked together many years ago and it’s fantastic to work together again at Perceptive.”

Clare Todd said: “Having worked in-house for almost a decade, I’ve long admired Perceptive’s unique approach to agency communications. The team is creative, professional and totally committed to delivering on behalf of clients. I am looking forward to helping to build the business even further.”

Candace Watermeyer said: “It’s a privilege to be part of such a high-calibre team where everyone is an expert and has also been a client. The enthusiasm and exceptional knowledge of my new colleagues is very inspiring.”

Romina Scott said: “I’m looking forward to taking on this exciting challenge, and can’t wait to learn everything I can about communications from such a knowledgeable group. Perceptive has a great culture and I already feel like a welcome and valued member of the team.”

Perceptive Communicators recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and was named Outstanding Small Consultancy at the CIPR Pride Scotland Awards.

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