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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 January 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 January 2018

The Scottish Government has raised the bar somewhat on one it its more contentious proposals for the coming year: a Deposit Return Scheme for recyclable packaging. Scotland looks set to push ahead with a DRS for drinks containers and is calling on the UK Government to match its ambition, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham MSP has said.  Ms Cunningham has already pledged that Scotland will back the EU’s vision to phase out single use plastics by 2030 and urged the UK Government to do the same – “Brexit or no Brexit.”

Still on Brexit, and St Andrews University published a study this week which suggests that small and medium-sized businesses may be worst affected when the UK leaves the EU. The study looked at the potential impact of Brexit on SMEs. Said to be the first study of its kind, it draws on information gleaned from a UK government attitude survey of about 10,000 firms.

And in a rare intervention on day to day politics, former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell has said “ego and ideology” are getting in the way of a Brexit deal between the Scottish and UK governments. The two governments are at loggerheads over what happens to powers which are returning from Brussels post-Brexit. Consideration of the EU Withdrawal Bill is to begin in the House of Lords, with UK ministers promising amendments. Lord McConnell wants the majority of EU powers in devolved areas transferred to the Scottish Parliament.

Looking much further ahead, it has been claimed a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland could create a “Celtic powerhouse”. A week after Boris Johnson proposed a bridge across the English Channel, a leading Scottish architect says the potential link would be a better prospect. Prof Alan Dunlop thinks the “Celtic bridge” would cost about £15bn, a fraction of the estimate of £120bn for the English Channel bridge.

Baroness Tessa Jowell made a moving speech in the House of Lords this week which attracted a very rare standing ovation. The former culture secretary spke about her experience of fighting brain cancer and what needs to be done to improve patient care.

And finally … Conservative MPs – including former UK leader Iain Duncan Smith – have lashed out at Nicola Sturgeon after the SNP administration said the Union Flag will no longer be flown over dozens of buildings in Scotland on the Queen’s birthday. The new rules, issued by civil servants working for the Scottish first minister, will apply to dozens of landmark buildings including the Edinburgh and Glasgow high courts and Linlithgow Palace.

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 19 January 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 19 January 2018

Heavy snow drifted across Scotland this week and helped cool the already Arctic atmosphere between the SNP and Labour over a rare Labour procedural no confidence vote at the end of an initial debate on the Scottish Budget.  The level of noisy hostility from the SNP was perhaps a small clue that Scottish Labour had scored a rare point against the auld enemy, even if the tactic itself was doomed to failure.

We saw the first opinion poll of 2018, suggesting that the SNP has a 12-point lead over the closest opposition party, the Conservatives, according to YouGov. It also shows a sharp decline in Labour support since last year’s snap Westminster election. The poll, reported in The Times, found that 38% of Scots would vote for the SNP in a Holyrood election, compared to 26% for the Tories and 23% for Labour. Detailed Holyrood voting intentions for the constituency vote: SNP 38; Con 26; Lab 23; Lib Dem 7; Green 3.

Brexit again, and Scotland’s economy could be £12.7bn a year worse off under a hard Brexit, according to new analysis by the Scottish Government. The figure is contained in a new paper on the impact of UK withdrawal from the European Union.  It calculates the cost to Scotland of the UK leaving the single market with or without a trade deal. The Scottish government document, titled Scotland’s Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment, considers three potential outcomes for Scotland’s economy when Britain exits the EU in March 2019.

There was a small crumb of good news this week, however.  The Scottish economy grew by 0.2% during the third quarter of last year, according to new official figures published on Wednesday. Between July and September, services grew by 0.2%, while production was up by 1.2%. However, construction was down for a seventh quarter in a row, with a 2.9% fall. Equivalent UK growth during the third quarter was 0.4%. On an annual basis, the Scottish economy grew by 0.6%, compared with 1.7% for the UK as a whole.

The Finance and Constitution Committee has initiated an inquiry into the UK Government’s Trade Bill. The Scottish Government lodged a Legislative Consent Motion on the Bill in December and the Committee expects to begin considering the legislation in early March. A call for evidence has been launched and submissions are being accepted until Friday 23 February.

And finally … spare a thought for Labour MP Hugh Gaffney, first elected last June, who told a BBC reporter that some Tory MPs had been mocking his Scottish accent.  Known as a bit of a rough diamond at Westminster, Mr Gaffney has kindly offered a tour of the more salubrious nightspots of his Coatbridge constituency to any persistent offenders….

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

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 January 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 January 2018

MSPs returned to work this week and wasted little time getting back into familiar arguments about the impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy. The first chamber debate of the year was on Brexit and the issue looks set to dominate 2018 as much as it did 2017.

Tensions between Westminster and Edinburgh have eased little over the holidays, and the Scottish Government has said an EU Continuity Bill is likely to be introduced at Holyrood next month. It said the move was needed to prepare Scotland’s laws for EU withdrawal if it is not possible to find agreement over the UK government’s own Brexit bill. The Scottish Government’s view that the Brexit bill is incompatible with devolution was backed on Wednesday by a cross-party Holyrood committee.

At Westminster, Theresa May completed the most far-reaching reshuffle so far of her time as Prime Minister.  Scottish Secretary David Mundell MP and his deputy Lord Duncan remained in post, as does Advocate General Lord Keen, but there was no promotion for any of the 12 new Scottish Tory MPs first elected last June.  Rumours of a Scottish Government reshuffle grow stronger….

Business confidence in Scotland is among the lowest in the UK, according to a new survey this week. The Bank of Scotland’s Business in Britain report, which looks at expected sales, orders and profits over the next six months, found confidence in Scotland fell slightly to 17% in July. Only Yorkshire and the Humber ranked lower, at 15%. Details: BoS survey

Still on business matters, and Tracy Black has taken over from Hugh Aitken as the CBI’s director for Scotland, becoming the first female to hold the post. Ms Black has been part of the CBI Scotland team since April last year, shadowing Mr Aitken in her role as deputy regional director.  Born and raised in Scotland, she has enjoyed a varied business career in the UK and overseas with global financial services institutions, as well as smaller business consultancy and entrepreneurial start-ups. Hugh Aitken will remain part of the CBI Scotland team in 2018 to lead a number of ongoing projects and to fulfil an ambassadorial role for the organisation.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned businesses to step up the pace of gender equality or the progress already made could stall, saying that companies must “inject new momentum” into improving women’s representation. She was speaking following the publication of the Hampton-Alexander Review which calls for FTSE companies to increase the number of female board members. The independent review was commissioned by the UK government to look at ways to increase the number of women in senior positions. It found the proportion of women on FTSE-100 boards had doubled, from one in eight in 2011 to more than one in four in 2017.

Finally, we were very sad to hear of the death of Midlothian Provost Adam Montgomery.  We have worked with Provost Montgomery for decades as he was synonymous with Midlothian politics since the 1980s.  In November Provost Montgomery attended the launch of the Millerhill Carbon Tower with Mactaggart & Mickel at Shawfair.  The tower was initiated by Mactaggart & Mickel to commemorate the mining heritage of the area.  Provost Montgomery spoke very fondly of his memories of growing up in the area, his life as a miner there and was very supportive of how the Millerhill Carbon Tower commemorated the mining heritage of the area.

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


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

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 January 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 January 2018

Happy New Year ….

On behalf of the Perceptive team, can we wish each and every one of you all the very best for a great 2018- and thanks for all the kind comments and feedback on your weekly Insider over the last year.  We’re planning a few changes including client news highlights.

And so to the start of another political year.  Scotland has no scheduled elections until the next Holyrood general election in 2021 – but it’d be a braver person than me that reckons we won’t have another Westminster election before then!

As 2018 was arriving, Scotland’s party leaders issued their new year messages. For the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon highlighted the Year of the Young People, saying it was important to recognise their “incredible contribution”. Ruth Davidson, of the Scottish Conservatives, said Scotland had “a lot to look forward to”, including hosting the European Athletics Championships.

Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard said his party would seek changes for Scotland’s poorest youngsters. Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, called for more unity following the divisive politics of recent years, and Scottish Green Party co-conveners Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie said 2018 could be a year of progress on human rights and public services. In full: 2018 leaders messages

First out of the traps seeking more of a consensus was the Scottish National Party, who are calling on Labour to work with other opposition parties to keep Britain in the single market and customs union after Brexit. Its Commons leader Ian Blackford MP has asked for help to stop the “catastrophic damage” of “extreme” Brexit, saying “It is time for MPs of all parties to put politics aside.” Mr Blackford said he would invite other opposition leaders to a summit on Monday (8 January) when MPs return from the Christmas recess.

And finally… veteran pollster and political scientist John Curtice has been given a knighthood in the Queen’s New Year honours list. The veteran psephologist has been honoured for his high-profile work in political analysis. His 2017 election exit poll correctly predicted the Conservatives would lose their majority.

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


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

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