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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 October 2018

The Scottish Parliament resumed business this Tuesday and Brexit was immediately on top of the agenda.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit is becoming the “most likely outcome” of the UK’s negotiations with EU leaders. Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood committee conveners that she was “increasingly concerned” that no deal will be struck, and she said the situation is “the biggest failure of government policy and handling” seen in her lifetime. Talks over the UK’s exit from the EU have run into a deadlock over the issue of the border in Northern Ireland.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tried to regain some momentum as he met with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday. He joined UK Lib Dem Leader Sir Vince Cable MP, the Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru and a Green Party MEP to meet Michel Barnier in Brussels. Mr Blackford said: “While the UK government clearly still has no plan to break the Brexit impasse, and Labour fail to act as an effective opposition, it has been left to the ‘unofficial opposition’ to speak up for a deal that would protect jobs and livelihoods. I am grateful to Mr Barnier for meeting with us. Any Brexit deal that falls short of staying in the single market and the customs union will not get through Parliament.”

Scotland’s Chief Economist, Gary Gillespie, has published his annual ‘State of the Economy’ report this week. It suggests that Scotland’s economy has continued to strengthen in the first half of 2018 with annual GDP growth the strongest since 2014 and above the UK as a whole. The link to the 16-page document is here:

Linked to the above report, an £18 million fund to help businesses benefit from developments in manufacturing is among the key actions announced in a new plan to help boost economic growth. As part of a response to the business-led Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, the Economic Action Plan sets out a number of new and existing actions that will work together to build a strong, vibrant and diverse economy that promotes well-being and attracts investment. Details: economic action plan

Back at Holyrood, and a debate on welfare issues turned bitter and personal, resulting in the SNP calling for South of Scotland Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne to resign as welfare spokesperson after her comments on the two child cap. The SNP called this “her own personal hypocrisy, exposed her as unfit” to be the spokesperson for Social Security in Scotland. Ms Ballantyne has been widely condemned by all the parties for arguing the two-child cap is fair as “people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like”.

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, is to visit Scotland to speak at a special dinner in Edinburgh. The girls’ education activist will speak at the Social Bite event to thank those taking part in this year’s Sleep in the Park event in December.

And finally…. Following Julie’s win at the Scottish Business Woman of the Year Awards, Gil Paterson MSP submitted this motion to Parliament:

Motion S5M-14232: Gil Paterson, Clydebank and Milngavie, Scottish National Party

That the Parliament congratulates Bearsden resident, Julie McLauchlan, on winning the prestigious Scottish Business Woman of the Year Award for her company Perceptive Communicators, which launched in 2006.

Supported by: Sandra White, Bill Kidd, Richard Lyle

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

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 19 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 19 October 2018

The Scottish Parliament has been in recess again this week but Chamber business resumes on Tuesday with a debate on the NHS in Scotland.  The autumn session is traditionally one of the busiest with budget deliberations and the Scottish Budget statement itself in early December.

Brexit twists and turns remain as lively as ever this week and Scottish Secretary David Mundell has denied that he ever threatened to resign over Brexit. It had been reported that both he and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told the Prime Minister that they could not support any different arrangements for Northern Ireland, saying this would “undermine the integrity” of the UK.

Mr Mundell’s week didn’t get any less tricky by the time it came to monthly Scottish Questions in the Commons. It was a lively session which culminated in SNP MPs calling for him to resign for what they claim is “failing to lift a finger” to prevent an all-out power grab on the Scottish Parliament. They argue that David Mundell refused to give any assurance to MPs that the UK government would not use Section 12 orders to impose UK-wide frameworks on Scotland in devolved areas against the consent of the Scottish Parliament. In a series of questions from SNP MPs, Mr Mundell disclosed that the UK government has so far only agreed common frameworks with the Scottish Government in just FOUR of the twenty-four devolved areas where it has threatened to take control from Holyrood.

There was some good economic news on Tuesday when we heard that the number of people out of work and looking for a job in Scotland had fallen by 14,000, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for June to August put Scotland’s jobless total at 106,000 – down from 120,000 in March to May. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.3% during the same period. The number of Scots aged 16 to 64 in employment was 2,551,000 (74.9%) – down from 2,570,000 on the previous quarter.

Still on the economy and opportunities to invest in nine projects worth more than £2 billion to Scotland’s economy have been announced by Economy Secretary Derek Mackay. The refreshed Invest in Scotland prospectus is seeking to secure international investment in a mixture of public and private sector projects across Scotland.  Projects highlighted include the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Renfrewshire, Edinburgh Bioquarter, Dundee Waterfront and Glasgow’s Buchanan Wharf – the location of the new Barclay’s campus which will create up to 2500 jobs.  Details: Investment

On the local political scene, there was an interesting story over in the capital as a citywide consultation on plans to introduce a “tourist tax” began. The City of Edinburgh Council has suggested that the levy could raise £11m a year, to be spent on growing tourism and managing its impact. It proposes charging either 2% or £2 per room, per night, on all forms of accommodation – and now it wants to hear the views of the tourism sector, businesses, investors, visitors and residents in the capital. The tax – or “transient visitor levy” (TVL) – would be charged all year round and, if approved, is likely to be repeated elsewhere in Scotland.

And finally… A footnote from Welsh politics.  Councillor Jane Dodds, who has been leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats for less than a year, will become the longest serving leader of a Welsh party when Carwyn Jones stands down as First Minister in early December.

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 Lesley Ferguson on 07762 769 659 or

Hat trick of appointments for Perceptive Communicators

Hat trick of appointments for Perceptive Communicators

Specialist communications consultancy, Perceptive Communicators, has made three appointments to its highly successful team and at the same time announces two significant award wins.

The Glasgow based company – which operates across the UK – has invested in its growth with the appointment of two PR practitioners and an accountant, in key roles to drive continued business growth and support a number of new client wins in its specialist sectors of construction, technology and life sciences.

Perceptive Communicators recently picked up ‘Property Team of the Year’ at the Herald Property Awards and Managing Director Julie was awarded ‘Business Women of the Year’ (under 50 employees) at the Scottish Women’s Awards last month, highlighting the strength of the business.

Joining the team as PR & Social Media Manager is Matthew Williams with 11 years’ communications and marketing experience in various sectors, including three years with the Organising Committee for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Aelred Nicholas, a communications expert with over 13 years’ experience across the public and private sector. Kate McMahon is an accountant with 25 years’ experience within chartered accountancy practices, and will complement the team as she takes up the role of Finance & Administration Manager.

Julie McLachlan, Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators said: “Perceptive is continuing to grow and this success is testament to our team of experts and our specialist knowledge in our key sectors of construction, life sciences and technology.”

“The addition of three new people to our already strong team will help support business growth. Matt, Aelred and Kate have a wealth of experience and having them on board to boost and strengthen our team even further will only lead to continued success for both ourselves and our clients.”

“Our recent award wins of ‘‘Property Team of the Year’ and ‘Business Women of the Year’ are the icing on the cake, as we continue to punch above our weight and go from strength to strength.”

Matthew Williams said: “I’m thrilled to be a part of the award-winning Perceptive team and my first six-months with the agency has allowed me to witness first-hand the great work we do with all of our clients, it really feels like we are an extension of our clients team in everything we do. The vast experience across the team is a real strong point, and I’m learning so much already from my colleagues, it’s been a fantastic start and the recent ‘Property Team of the Year’ award goes to show that our work doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Aelred Nicholas said: “I’m delighted to be part of such a great team and feel inspired by what the business has achieved. I’m enjoying working with a range of different clients and contributing to their business growth. Having such a supportive team of colleagues is an added bonus.

Kate McMahon said: “It’s a privilege to be part of such a dynamic team. Their commitment, passion and experience is very inspiring. I’m excited about taking on new challenges and helping in building the business further”

Due to increased business growth the company is currently recruiting for another PR & Social Media Manager to join the team. To find out more please contact

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 October 2018

The Scottish Parliament has been in recess this week, although the building itself has been a hive of activity since Wednesday as the annual Festival of Politics got under way.  Our own political guru Devin Scobie was there at the opening evening event and was one of three people chosen by Presiding Officer Ken Mackintosh to question Tory grandee (Lord) Michael Heseltine.

The SNP concluded their main annual conference earlier in the week and Nicola Sturgeon has called for “pragmatism and patience” from independence supporters in her SNP conference speech. In her keynote address to the faithful, the First Minister said she was “more confident than ever” that Scotland would become independent. She added that members must “wait for the fog of Brexit to clear” and work to win over people who voted No in 2014. She used her speech to hit out at “unfolding calamity” and “despair” at Westminster, contrasting this by painting an independent Scotland as “a beacon of progressive values”.

Down in Cardiff and newly elected leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price AM, announced that the former SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson has been appointed to undertake a ‘root and branch’ review of the party’s organisation and operations.  Mr Robertson was formerly one of Scotland’s highest profile politicians during his time as MP for Moray. He lost his seat to the Conservatives in last June’s snap election.

Even in recess, Brexit is never far away.  We learned this week that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will consider next month whether Brexit can be halted if MPs vote to do so. The case, which has been brought by a group of anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners, was referred to judges in Luxembourg by the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The ECJ confirmed that it had been granted “fast-track” status due to the “urgency of the issue”.

Still on Brexit and it seems that people in Scotland are overwhelmingly behind a proposal to extend negotiations with the EU if necessary to avoid a No Deal Brexit, a new poll has found. The Survation poll found that 60% of Scottish voters supported an extension, while only 27% opposed. The polls suggests that voters of all parties are backing the position. The poll also found that only 27% of the public believe the UK government have given “an appropriate amount of consideration” to the views of people in Scotland, with 62% believing they have not.

On economic matters, and Scotland’s private sector has reported its weakest rate of expansion for five months, according to Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest PMI. It suggested there was “solid” growth among service providers in September, but manufacturers reported a slight drop in production levels during the month. Respondents to the survey of purchasing managers attributed the easing of growth to a weaker rise in new business. The latest sector data also suggested that growth at the UK level was stronger than that in Scotland for the first time since June.

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 Lesley Ferguson on 07762769659 or    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 October 2018

The UK party conference season concluded this week as the Brexit-weary conservatives rolled out of Birmingham. Scottish leader Ruth Davidson MSP is due to go off shortly on maternity leave but made a typically barn-storming speech to the faithful. She has called for a “period of silence” among her Conservative colleagues to allow the Prime Minister to get a Brexit deal “over the line”, saying the two years following the EU referendum had provided enough time for debate. Her comments follow Boris Johnson’s description of the Chequers plan as “deranged and entirely preposterous”.

Theresa May used her keynote speech at the party conference to focus on her hopes for a brighter future for the UK after Brexit. Take out lines from the Prime Minister’s speech included that she “passionately believes that our best days lie ahead of us” and “that our future is full of promise.” In a speech entitled “Our Future Is In Our Hands”, Mrs May told delegates that countries across the world stand ready to trade with the UK.

And staying on the small matter of Brexit, another key date landmark was passed this week, rather like the train speeding up towards an unfinished bridge in the closing sequences of Back to the Future III.  We are now inside six months until we legally leave the EU (29 March 2019) and the Scottish Government is arguing that the only ‘credible plan’ to minimise the damage of Brexit is their proposal to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union. Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has reminded businesses this week that it is also almost two years since the Scottish Government published evidence-based proposals to mitigate the shock of Brexit on Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Before we get to March next year, a few weary political and media hacks will be watching the Court of Session around 15 January. That is when Alex Salmond’s legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints against him will formally be heard.  Civil servants investigated two allegations of sexual harassment against the former First Minister, which he strenuously denies. Watch this space for a lively four day hearing …

We are also hearing rumours that Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is considering an imminent shadow cabinet reshuffle. Several MSPs are unhappy at the party’s decision to cease funding of former leader Kezia Dugdale’s legal defence against a case brought by Nationalist blogger Wings over Scotland

Following on from Perceptive MD’s Julie McLauchlan’s Scottish Business Woman of the Year award last month, Gil Paterson, MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie wishes to submit a motion of congratulations to the Parliament at Holyrood recognising Julie’s work and her award win. This follows on from the Perceptive team being recognised for our integrated public affairs, PR and social media work last week, winning Property Team of the Year at The Herald Property Awards

And finally… What skills do you look for in a prime minister? Is it being a good communicator? Having business acumen? A connection with real people? Or is it how they boogie on down to disco classics? On Wednesday, Theresa May seemed to focus on the latter, making her entrance for her big conference speech to Abba’s Dancing Queen. We’ll let you decide if it was a good move or not…

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 Lesley Ferguson on 07762 769 659 or

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