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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 30 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 30 November 2018

The proposed Brexit deal by the UK Government will make Scotland poorer, according to newly published analysis from the Scottish Government. The proposal, still to be voted on in the House of Commons, could cost the equivalent of £1,600 for each person in Scotland by 2030, compared to continued EU membership. The assessment shows that the deal (and link to full statement/report: SG Brexit report )
• Takes Scotland out of the EU and removes Scotland from the European Single Market of 500 million people
• Leaves future trading arrangements uncertain for both goods and services
• Puts Scotland at a potential competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland
• Ends free movement of people, which is vital for workers in sectors such as health and social care. Scotland’s working age population would decline by 3% without EU migration
• Appears to directly contradict the UK Government’s previous position on fisheries: that there should be no link between access to UK waters and access to EU markets
• Ends guaranteed high standards and protections that come with EU membership, including the environment, food safety, animal welfare, health and safety, equality and working conditions
• Provides no certainty about future participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+

In another new report this week, External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop has warned that leaving the EU and ending freedom of movement could cost Scotland £2 billion in tax revenues.  Research shows that each EU citizen coming to live and work in Scotland contributes, on average, £10,400 per year in tax. Ms Hyslop argues that the UK Government’s proposed Brexit deal is expected to halve the number of people from EU27 countries migrating to Scotland, meaning £2 billion less by 2040 to spend on vital public services such as the NHS and schools. Details: Scotland in Europe

CBI Scotland has hosted a major event in partnership with the Scottish Government to help Scotland reclaim its  place as a first class exporter.  CBI Scotland has also welcomed the next phase of a Scottish Government initiative to boost Scotland’s exporting base through enhanced business support. At an event in Edinburgh, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, alongside Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation, Ivan McKee, outlined the Scottish Government’s plans for a more outward looking Scotland and provided further details of a peer-to-peer mentoring to support the next wave of Scottish exporters. 

And at Westminster, the Commons Scottish Affairs Committee met to take evidence as part of their inquiry into the relationship between the UK and Scottish Governments, within which topics covered included: the mechanics of devolution, the design of devolution agreements and the impact of Brexit upon these, the utility of the Sewel convention and its future in a post-Brexit Britain.  The full transcript has now been published: Select Committee Nov 2018

And finally, this week client Clyde Gateway welcomed Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick to launch a campaign to encourage increased take up of cancer screening. This marketing, PR and social media campaign features local people sharing hard hitting messages about this vital health screening.  

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 932578or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 November 2018

A change from UK Brexit news (covered extensively in the mainstream news) was a rare domestic policy announcement this week as the Scottish Government finally released details of its long overdue Alcohol Framework. It includes proposals to consult on alcohol marketing such as public spaces and online. Under the framework, the UK Government will be pressed to impose a 9 pm watershed for alcohol advertising on TV, and restrictions on advertising in cinemas are also proposed. Alcohol producers will be urged to put health information on labels. Link: alcohol framework

But as Nicola Sturgeon and other Scottish ministers discussed Brexit with Theresa May and her colleagues, the Supreme Court has rejected a last-ditch attempt by the UK Government to prevent European judges hearing a legal challenge to the Brexit process. The European Court of Justice is to examine on 27 November whether the UK can unilaterally halt Brexit. The UK Government had asked the Supreme Court for permission to appeal against an earlier ruling that the case should be referred to the European court, but the Supreme Court has now rejected that bid.

Going beyond the EU and Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP will visit India in the coming week (travelling out today) to further strengthen ties between the two countries. The visit will focus on Technology and Life Sciences, promote trade and investment and strengthen education and cultural links. Mr Swinney will be joined by a delegation of senior leaders from Scotland’s higher education sector.

In another key sector for Scotland, the Scottish Conservatives are calling for a dedicated Institute of E-Commerce to help Scotland’s businesses tackle the digital gap emerging between Scotland and competitor countries. The Institute would provide dedicated and specialist training, support and advice to businesses looking to move their business models online. This, they argue, would enable Scottish companies to embed digital technologies into their businesses and better capitalise on global trade opportunities. Currently only 7-9% of Scotland’s businesses have integrated digital technologies into their businesses operations.

Another new Survation poll this week suggests the following party voting intention for Westminster: Scottish National Party (SNP): 39%; Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party: 26%; Scottish Labour Party: 24%; Scottish Liberal Democrats: 8%; Others: 3%

And finally… last night Health Secretary Jeane Freeman OBE was named The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year.  An MSP for only two years and former chair of Golden Jubilee National Hospital, Ms Freeman was recognised for her achievements of ushering in a devolved social security system and bringing a renewed sense of focus to the Government’s biggest and most challenging department.  MSP for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley in Ayrshire, Ms Freeman is the only person other than party leader to win the award since 2012 when Nicola Sturgeon was also recognised for her work as health secretary.

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 – 16 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider Friday – 16 November 2018

This week’s Insider comes to you from down-town Lahore. Our political guru Devin is making one of his regular trips east in his capacity as a volunteer trustee of a charity supporting primary schools across the Punjab region.

At the time of writing Theresa May was still hanging onto her role as Prime Minister, but Environment Secretary Michael Gove, one of the highest-profile Leave campaigners during the 2016 referendum, is considering his position, BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg reports.

It is understood Mr Gove turned down the post of Brexit secretary following the resignation of Dominic Raab.  It’s also reported some ministers are considering trying to make the PM change the draft EU deal. Some Conservative back benchers are attempting to trigger a vote of no confidence in her, watch this space.

Closer to home and a new Survation opinion poll on Westminster voting intentions published yesterday suggests that support for the SNP remains strong, with that for Labour and the Conservatives declining.  The new figures are as follows: SNP 40% (+3); Con 27% (-2); Lab 23% (-4); LibDem 7% (NC); UKIP 1% (+1); Green 1% (+1).

This week we heard that the health service will soon account for half of all Scottish Government spending, according to a new analysis of choices facing Finance Secretary Derek Mackay. The growing squeeze on many other services is set out in a new report by economists at the Fraser of Allander Institute. The report, from the Strathclyde University economics unit, applies the consequences of last month’s Westminster budget for the block grant for Holyrood. It leads to their call for “an urgent debate on future priorities”. One of the politically challenging suggestions they put forward is for the introduction of student tuition fees. They also welcome growing political pressure for sweeping reforms of council tax.

A few cracks have started to appear in the normally watertight SNP parliamentary teams as the potential impact of a second Brexit vote are being debated. This week, veteran MSP Kenny Gibson has become the latest Nationalist politician to warn it has implications for Scottish independence. Mr Gibson, the MSP for Cunninghame North, has joined Pete Wishart MP, Angus McNeill MP and the former cabinet secretary Alex Neil MSP in voicing concerns that a second Brexit vote would enable Unionists to argue for another vote on the terms of Scottish independence in the event of a Yes vote. Ms Sturgeon has said the SNP will support a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal.

Nicola Sturgeon did, however, receive support from an unlikely former foe this week. As well as opposing Theresa May’s 5-hour Cabinet deal on Wednesday, Gordon Brown has come out and backed the Scottish Government over post-Brexit devolution, warning that UK ministers have put the Union at risk by holding on to powers returning from Brussels. The former Prime Minister said devolved nations should be able to have their own relationship with the EU distinct from the rest of the UK in areas under their control.

Anyone interested in the full 585 page draft Brexit deal can find it via this link: draft deal

As the week progressed, the UK Government stated there has been ‘significant progress’ agreeing frameworks with devolved administrations, the Scottish Government says that the ‘unnecessary’ UK law curbing the powers of the Scottish Parliament is undermining devolution and should now be repealed.

Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell MSP has said: “we have always said that co-operation between governments is clearly the right and best way both to ready our statute books and to agree common UK frameworks, where these are in Scotland’s interests – not imposing policies and laws on Scotland against our democratic will.”

And finally, Homes for Scotland (HFS), the voice of the home building industry in Scotland, has today launched a new five-year strategy with a focus on improving quality and customer satisfaction.  The document was launched to an audience of 200 senior industry representatives and housing stakeholders at the HFS annual conference in Edinburgh.

Also announced at the conference was the extension of the ‘Five Star Builder’ initiative to Scotland, which will allow buyers of new homes to compare builders in terms of customer satisfaction. The scheme was previously limited to those building right across the UK, excluding those operating only north of the border.

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 9 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 9 November 2018

A major industrial story broke this week with the news that Michelin are leaving Dundee after nearly fifty years.  Michelin is to close its tyre factory in the city, with the loss of about 850 jobs, confirming that it would leave the city by 2020. The company said the factory was “unsuitable” given current market conditions and it would not be financially viable to invest further. Economy Secretary Derek Mackay MSP has visited the site and the union Unite has said the closure would be a “hammer-blow” to the city.

Still on business news and thousands of firms have been wound up over the past year in Scotland, new figures have revealed.   The official statistics showed there are now 345,915 private sector businesses north of the border. That compares to 354,745 the year before, a drop of 8830. The rate of private businesses per head of population is also worse in Scotland than the rest of the UK. Total business turnover is at its lowest level since 2015, while only a handful of local authority areas have seen an increase in business activity. The 2.5 per cent drop since 2017 is proof of the SNP’s “anti-business attitude”, the Scottish Conservatives have said in a quick response.

In other news, this week’s major study of note has found that Scotland is the most pro-migration country in the UK. The poll, conducted by Survation for Channel 4, found that Scots believed migration had a positive impact by a factor of three to two – with 44% agreeing and only 30% disagreeing.

We couldn’t forget Brexit and MSPs have voted to express their “unequivocal support” for a referendum on the final terms of Brexit. Holyrood voted by 65 to 30 in favour of such a move during a debate about the impact of leaving the EU. SNP, Green and Lib Dem MSPs were joined by two Scottish Labour members (including former leader Kezia Dugdale) in the vote, while the bulk of the Labour group abstained.

Earlier this week Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP helped launch client, Construction Scotland’s new Strategy document.  Mr Swinney confirmed the Scottish Government supports Construction Scotland’s refreshed strategy and fully endorses the ambition of construction being a more productive, innovative, profitable and sustainable industry. This strategy focuses on the big issues and game-changers that are affecting the construction sector.  Each of the six priority areas will be addressed by an action plan for the industry, coordinated and facilitated by Construction Scotland, with key milestones and timescales for delivery.

This week we also welcomed MSP Gordon MacDonald to client, Wavegarden Scotland which is building Scotland’s first artificial surfing park. This will transform the disused Craigpark Quarry near Ratho, Edinburgh into a surf park with revolutionary new wave technology in time for surfing becoming an Olympic sport in 2020.

And finally… As the US mid-term elections got under way this week, the only senior politician to back Scottish independence in 2014 has stepped down. John “Jimmy” Duncan – a Republican – represented Tennessee in the House of Representatives. The staunch supporter of Donald Trump is co-chair of the Congressional Friends of Scotland Caucus.

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 2 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 2 November 2018

The UK Budget dominated the political news this week and perhaps predictably, a row broke out quickly over the impact of the UK government’s Budget on Scotland. Hammond’s latest set of tax and spending plans included a freeze on oil industry taxes, and an extra £950m for the Scottish Government over three years.

However, his Scottish counterpart Derek Mackay said the UK government had made a choice not to end austerity and had “short-changed Scotland”. Philip Hammond used his Budget – the last before the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 – to claim that “the era of austerity is finally coming to an end”. Other measures announced which will have a significant impact in Scotland include: £150m for the Tay City Deal and negotiations for a Moray growth deal, headline tax rates on the oil and gas industry maintained, and £10m-UK-wide for fisheries technology. Scottish Government statement: SG Budget reaction

As we reach the end of the week, Scottish ministers are being challenged by Green MSP Patrick Harvie to continue with income tax reforms while delivering a Scottish Budget that’s distinct from what they term ’the Chancellor’s list of tax cut giveaways for the wealthy.’ Questioning the Cabinet Secretary for Finance at Holyrood, the MSP for Glasgow also said that Greens will continue to pressure the government for new financial powers to be devolved to councils.

Back to Brexit and Holyrood’s constitution committee has called on Scottish and UK ministers to resolve the “impasse” over devolution and consent “as a matter of urgency”. A new report from the group said MSPs should not give their consent to the UK Trade Bill while the dispute continues. The Scottish Government is angry that the EU Withdrawal Act passed despite MSPs refusing to give it their backing, and they have resolved not to put any more Brexit bills forward for votes at Holyrood until the row is resolved.

Over in Tayside and Infrastructure Secretary, Michael Matheson MSP, is challenging the UK Government to match his funding commitment for the Tay Cities Region Deal. The Scottish Government is planning to invest £200 million to deliver inclusive economic growth across the region, through skills, tourism and innovation. Over the next 10-15 years, the funding will secure significant numbers of both high value and entry-level jobs by supporting projects across the themes of skills, tourism, transport and innovation.

Finally, the Enterprise, Energy and Fair Committee launched an attack on Scottish Enterprise for spending just £500,000 of a £10 million fund for growth businesses.  The Committee also recommended an Audit Scotland performance audit of Scottish Enterprise’s claim it generates between £6 and £9 GVA for every pound that it spends.

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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