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Scottish Political Insider – Thursday 29 March 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Thursday 29 March 2018

This week’s Insider is coming to you a day earlier than usual as we appreciate many people will be off work tomorrow and over the Easter weekend.  The Scottish Parliament has now also started its two-week Easter recess, with Chamber business resuming on Tuesday 17 April.

The political week started with Nicola Sturgeon saying that the SNP is using every power at its disposal to deliver for the people of Scotland – and warned that the Tory party ‘now think they can do whatever they want to Scotland and get away with it.’ In a keynote speech to the SNP National Council, the First Minister said that a clear contrast had opened up in competing visions for Scotland’s future – and that the SNP were the first party in most of her lifetime which had had the ‘guts in government to make income tax more progressive and deliver more money for public services.’

On economic matters, Scotland’s growth is being held back by the clutter of initiatives coming from the Scottish Government, according to a leading economic think tank published this week. The Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) has criticised the number of different strategies and advisory groups looking at Scotland’s economy. It has warned they can lead to confusion and duplication.

Ø  Details including analysis from the BBC’s Douglas Fraser and sixteen areas of concern:  The full report is available here: FoA report March 2018

The support available to young people as they try to decide what they want to do later in life is the focus of a survey by the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Skills Committee, chaired by Glasgow MSP James Dornan. Focused on young people between 15 and 24, the survey is aiming to learn more about why young people follow certain routes, what helps them and what hinders them, and whether they get to where they want to be.

This includes the support and information available to help them know, at school and beyond, what the available options are. It will also explore how young people made decisions about their future. During the Year of Young People, the Committee has decided to be led by the voices of young people from the survey results before deciding what issues to drill down into in evidence sessions in June.

And finally … One year today, Brexit becomes a reality.  And HAPPY EASTER from all the team at Perceptive!

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

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 23 March 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 March 2018

The main political event this week was the news that the Scottish Government’s alternative to the EU Withdrawal Bill has been passed by MSPs. Ministers put forward their “continuity bill” as part of an ongoing row over UK frameworks of post-Brexit powers. It has undergone more than 20 hours of debate and scrutiny across three weeks, and the finalised bill was backed by a margin of 95 votes to 32. Most unusually, all 129 of Holyrood’s MSPs were present for the final debate and votes (there was one abstention and, by convention, no vote by the Presiding Officer). Brexit Minister Mike Russell said he still hoped to strike a deal with the UK government rather than use the bill.

There is now a period of four weeks in which a Supreme Court legal challenge could be lodged by law officers. The UK government said the competence of the bill – previously questioned by Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh – would be “considered”.

In a further show of Labour/SNP co-operation, the Scottish and Welsh and First Ministers united to urge peers to block what they have called a Brexit “power grab” by the UK government. Mrs May’s cabinet wants to keep control of 24 EU policy areas temporarily to preserve trade within the UK. Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have written to the House of Lords calling for changes to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, claiming powers held back include areas of “vital importance” to them.

Continuing the co-operation theme and a cross-party group of Scottish politicians has won permission for a judicial review of whether the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50. The MEPs and MSPs want to get a ruling from the European Court of Justice on whether Brexit could be called off. Lord Doherty had originally rejected their application for a review, saying it had little prospect of success. However, after an appeal, a panel of judges said there was “a point of substance” to be addressed in the case. Lord Carloway, Scotland’s top judge, overturned Lord Doherty’s decision and has allowed permission for a judicial review to proceed. The legal action was launched by a group of politicians from the SNP, Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Lib Dems following a crowdfunding campaign.

There was a ripple in the normally iron-clad unity of the Tory Holyrood group this week as Ruth Davidson faced calls to sack shadow tourism minister Rachael Hamilton. The Borders MSP was fined over £50,000 for breaking the law on workplace pensions at the hotel she owns.  Mrs Hamilton had originally faced a £400 penalty, but this surged to £52,500 when the charge was not paid. Officials imposed the fine while she was fighting a by-election to defend a safe Tory seat that saw her elected to Holyrood.

And finally … not a great week for former SNP MP Natalie McGarry who has appeared in court on six charges, including three of embezzlement. Ms McGarry, who represented Glasgow East but did not seek re-election in 2017, was elected in the 2015 landslide. She was charged with three counts of embezzlement, two charges under the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013, and one charge under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

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 directly to your inbox every Friday (link opens in a new tab).

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 16 March 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 16 March 2018

We open this week with a reminder that the Lobbying (Scotland) Act formally came into force this week.  It is now a legal requirement for anyone engaged in face to face meetings with MSPs, Ministers, special advisers and the most senior civil servants, to register this within 30 days.  Thereafter a six-monthly return may be required.  This is not a voluntary register like the ones certain PR/PA trade bodies operate, nor is it something that can be handled by an external agency.

There are significant exceptions, for example a client meeting an MSP in their own constituency.  If you have any questions about this, please get in touch.  Full details are also available via this link:

At Holyrood this week the controversial Football Act was repealed as a result of Scottish Labour’s bid to change the law. This was the first major reverse of any SNP legislation since the party first formed a government in 2007. Glasgow MSP James Kelly’s member’s bill to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act (Scotland) 2012 was voted through on Thursday. SNP ministers used their parliamentary majority between 2011 and 2016 to force through the Football Act. It was the first piece of legislation passed at Holyrood with no cross-party support and has been repeatedly criticised by legal experts, fans’ groups and equalities organisations.

A new Scottish opinion poll, carried out by Ipsos Mori this week for STV, shows the SNP gaining ground on last year’s general election result.  The figures are as follows:  SNP 39%; Lab 26%; Con 25%; LD 6%; others 4%

Elsewhere, Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie MSP has reiterated his call for a system of recall to be introduced to the Scottish Parliament, arguing there must be an “appropriate range of sanctions” for misconduct by parliamentarians. The call coincided with a meeting of the Standards, Procedures & Public Appointments Committee where an official complaint against Mark McDonald lodged by SNP MSP James Dornan was considered. The UK Parliament passed legislation applying to the recall of MPs in 2015.

And finally … The Perceptive team enjoyed welcoming ITV Political Editor Robert Peston to Glasgow at the Aye Write Festival’s first event this year.  Peston painted a depressing picture of the UK’s Brexit negotiation prospects with the EU. He explained it was important for the EU to demonstrate to countries like Italy and France with similar economic disenchantment that breaking away from the EU was not an attractive option.

Peston also claimed to feel much more British than English and even said he was slightly jealous of the national pride of the Scots.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

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 9 March 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 9 March 2018

This week’s report comes from downtown Lahore where our political guru Devin Scobie is making one of his regular charity-related visits.  But the reach of Scottish politics is never far away as former Glasgow MP Mohammed Sarwar (father of Glasgow MSP Anas) has just been elected to the Pakistan Senate, representing Imran Khan’s party!

Back home and the SNP has been focusing on internal matters this week as the contest to succeed Angus Robertson, defeated as an MP last June, saw a party heavyweight enter the race for depute leader. Cabinet Economy Secretary Keith Brown MSP was runner up two years ago.  Two more potential MP runners stepped back: Tommy Sheppard stood for the job last time, and the party’s home affairs spokeswoman Johanna Cherry QC.  Glasgow MSP James Dornan and party activist Julie Hepburn have already said they would stand.

Meanwhile, former junior Minister Mark McDonald resigned from the SNP but pledged to continue as an Independent MSP, despite strong hints from Nicola Sturgeon that he should ‘consider his position’. An internal report strongly criticised him for inappropriate text messages to two separate women.

Aberdeenshire West’s MP Andrew Bowie, first elected last June, has become the first of the 12 new Tory MPs to be promoted.  He has been appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the UK Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Gender balance issues came under the spotlight this week as the balance of witnesses giving evidence at Holyrood was examined in a new report published by the Scottish Parliament. The report, which was commissioned to explore the gender balance across those giving evidence to committees, shows that since 1999 there has been a 12.3% increase in the number of women giving evidence at committees. However, it also shows that women make up 37% of the witnesses at formal committee meetings.

The Scottish Parliament’s Conveners Group has considered the report’s findings and agreed the key strands to help inform an action plan to ensure the balance of witnesses at Scottish Parliament committees are more reflective of wider society.

And finally … proving that there can be a little fun in politics, this year’s Festival of Politics will take place between Thursday 11 to Saturday 13 October.  Details of the 2018 line-up will be announced nearer the time.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch withJulie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or

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).

Canadian engineering company brings UK headquarters to Clyde Gateway

Canadian engineering company brings UK headquarters to Clyde Gateway

TransCanada Turbines (TCT), a North American owned and managed engineering company, has become the latest business to bring its UK headquarters into Clyde Gateway, adding to the continued success of Scotland’s largest regeneration programme.

TCT, which repairs and maintains aero-derivative gas turbines for the oil and energy markets, has signed a pre-let with Glasgow-based developers Harris Finance for a 10-year lease on a 13,000 sq ft speculatively built industrial unit at Rutherglen Links Business Park. The new premises, which sits within a multi-million pound development created by Clyde Gateway, will become home to TCT’s 15-strong highly skilled Scottish workforce. It will also contain a specialised training centre, the largest the company will have outside of Canada.

The building, which occupies a highly visible position adjacent to the M74 motorway, has been fitted out precisely to TCT’s specifications. It is ready for the company’s relocation from its existing shared premises in Cumbernauld, with the move set to be complete by early March.

Clyde Gateway created Rutherglen Links Business Park to provide development opportunities. All five industrial plots of the 5.6 acre (2.26 Ha) Business Park were acquired by Harris Finance, who have undertaken a speculative development programme of industrial units. The first phase has already secured occupiers Screwfix and Eurocell, and following the pre-let of unit 3 to TCT, the developer has already started work on unit 4 to provide an additional 15,000 sq ft of industrial space due for completion in summer 2018. Further capacity is available on the adjacent plots F and G. These will be developed in line with market demand, however based on the success of deals achieved to date, further pre-let activity is anticipated.

Ian Manson, Chief Executive of Clyde Gateway said: “We are gaining a merited reputation as a location in which everything is perfectly in place to guarantee success. The past decade has seen us make substantial investments into redeveloping brownfield sites, with superb transport and infrastructure links, to ensure they are ideally set up for high growth companies in the manufacturing, industrial and engineering sectors. The move by TransCanada Turbines into Rutherglen Links, and in particular their investment in the new training centre, is another very welcome vote of confidence for Clyde Gateway.”

Gordon Hope of TransCanada Turbines said: “When we decided to vacate our shared premises in Cumbernauld, we carried out an extensive search of what was available on the market. As the unit at Rutherglen Links was still under construction, we were able to make the adjustments to the specification that we needed. Clyde Gateway being able to provide business support made moving to this new facility possible.”

Ross Harris, of Harris Finance, said: “The strength of the location of Rutherglen Links Business Park, combined with the quality of our new industrial buildings, not to mention the excellent transport links and infrastructure, means that we have been able to attract high-profile tenants such as Screwfix, Eurocell and now TransCanada Turbines. We have a 20,000 sq ft industrial building available for immediate entry and we have just started work on a speculative 15,000 sq ft building which will be completed in June 2018. We’re confident that the current shortage of quality new-build industrial units across the Central Belt will mean our planned development programme for the remaining plots will prove to be popular.”

Clyde Gateway was established to carry out the regeneration of 840 hectares across the east end of Glasgow and South Lanarkshire. Working in partnership with Glasgow City Council, South Lanarkshire Council, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government, Clyde Gateway is driving forward £1.5 billion of private sector investment to establish this area as a hub of business activity.

Rutherglen Links Business Park is also home to SPIE, the UK’s leading provider of multi-technical services, who occupy the top two floors of the speculatively-built One Rutherglen Links office building.

For further information on Rutherglen Links Business Park, please visit:

Telephone 0141 276 1595

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 2nd March

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 2nd March

The Scottish Parliament showed its teeth this week as the SNP-led Scottish Government locked horns with the Westminster Government over Brexit enabling legislation.  Scottish ministers have now tabled their own alternative to the EU Withdrawal Bill at Holyrood – the UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill. This continuity bill has been introduced as a stop-gap solution if MSPs do not consent to the UK bill.

Adding another twist, the Presiding Officer has not backed the move, saying it is not for Holyrood to legislate on. Scottish ministers disagree and are expected to press ahead with the legislation anyway.

The Spring party conference season was due to start this weekend with the Scottish Conservatives meeting in Aberdeen for a couple of days.  But as the country experienced the most severe snow falls for many years, party leader Ruth Davidson (reluctantly) said she could not expect delegates to travel north whilst an Amber warning was in place.  Our political expert, Devin Scobie, will now have more time to finish his snowman!

Aberdeen and the north-east is, of course, a new heartland for the Tories following a number of Westminster gains last June.  The rumour mill is going into overdrive around Aberdeen Donside MSP Mark McDonald, who has not been seen at Holyrood since early November following admissions of ‘inappropriate behaviour’.  A by-election is looking increasingly likely and the Tories would be a good bet to take the seat from the SNP.  However Alex Salmond is said to be looking for a comeback to frontline politics – so watch this space…

Away from election speculation, and a joint report from Shelter Scotland, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and the Equalities & Human Rights Commission Scotland, was published this week. The study reviewed Scottish Government strategic investment plans for affordable housing. It found the target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes, 70% of which should be for social rent, achievable if optimistic.

Details: Shelter report

And finally … Fairtrade Fortnight has started and new figures suggest that the majority of Scots regularly buy Fairtrade products, with 60% of consumers choosing them at least once a month. The figures, compiled by the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, come as Fairtrade Fortnight begins – and will run to 11 March. Scotland was recognised as a Fairtrade Nation in 2013 after all cities and a majority of our local authorities gained Fairtrade status.

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