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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 29 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 29 March 2019

Well today should have been a landmark date in recent political history as we left the EU after 46 years of often fractious membership.  But of course even that didn’t go to plan, although we are a tad closer to getting a new Prime Minister.

The Brexit process remains in deadlock as MPs struggle to find a consensus on the next steps. The Commons failed to find a majority for a way forward after voting for eight different options on Wednesday. They couldn’t even agree on what system to use to vote as an archaic paper system was proposed by Mr Speaker, much to the confusion of just about every MP apart from Jacob Rees-Mogg. And while some senior Brexiteers have moved towards supporting Theresa May’s deal, the DUP MPs she relies on for her wafer thin majority have refused to alter their stance.

The PM won some support by saying she would resign ahead of the next round of EU negotiations if her deal passes. This means she still may bring her plan back to the Commons this week for another vote – the so-called “meaningful vote three” – despite it already being defeated twice by large margins.

The Prime Minister’s pledge to stand down if her Brexit deal is approved risks making “an already bad project even worse”, Scotland’s First Minister has claimed.  PM Boris is looking scarily likely….

Nicola Sturgeon said it could see Scotland “shackled to a disastrous Brexit driven by a Tory party lurching even further to the right”. She predicted that this would “further reinforce” the case for independence.

But true to form, Scottish Labour MP Ian Murray criticised the SNP for abstaining during a vote on whether there should be a customs union with the EU. The proposal would have passed if SNP MPs had voted for it. Mr Murray said: “Nationalist MPs sat on their hands rather than deliver a parliamentary majority for a minimum of a permanent customs union to be written into law to protect the British economy and jobs – making a mockery of Nicola Sturgeon’s pledge to support a ‘common sense solution’.”

Whilst the action was unfolding at Westminster on Wednesday evening, attendees at the first Perceptive Directors’ Club of the year were treated to what has become an annual tour of Holyrood from MSP Tavish Scott, the former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats and a Cabinet Minister prior to 2007. Our clients got an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Parliament building and afterwards sat down for dinner and a fascinating Q&A with Tavish, no subject was off the table, including Brexit!  This article reflects many of the Brexit points raised in our discussion.  As public affairs is an increasing part of Perceptive’s client workload, we hope to repeat the tour and any Insider readers interested should simply reply to this email.

We were pleased to welcome Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar, to client, Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC).  Chief Executive Roger Kilburn hosted the visit, sharing an overview of IBioIC which aims to stimulate growth across health, industrial, marine and agriculture biotechnology to £900m by 2025.

Next week the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee meets with client, Construction Scotland as part of the final phase of evidence gathering for the Construction Inquiry.  Ken Gillespie, Chair, Ann Allen MBE and Member and Ron Fraser, Executive Director of Construction Scotland Industry Leadership Group will provide evidence on behalf of Construction Scotland.  

One of the SNP’s most unpopular budget proposals, a new workplace parking tax, has been attacked again as the Scottish Police Federation are saying it could expose police officers to a greater risk of terrorism. The Federation said if officers stopped driving to work it could endanger them as they made their way to and from shifts on foot or public transport. Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf MSP, who was given the warning at the SPF conference in Turnberry on Thursday, said he would look at a police exemption from the levy.

And finally… in what why may be his last speech to the European Parliament, SNP MEP Alyn Smith was holding back tears of emotion as he said: “cheers colleagues, I’m not asking you to solve our domestic discussions. But I am asking you to leave a light on so we can find our way home (to the EU).”

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 March 2019

The UK is likely to be offered to delay Brexit until 12 May, subject to MPs approving the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week.  If not the EU will back a shorter delay until 12 April, giving the UK time to get the deal through or “indicate a way forward”.

In the meantime an online petition calling for Theresa May to revoke Article 50 has attracted over 2 million signatures. Revoke Article 50 has been trending on Twitter as people were urged to sign it. According to the Petitions Committee, the site struggled to cope with the demand, crashing at some points.  Once up and running again signatures were arriving at a rate of up to 2000 per minute.   

In Scottish politics, the government has pledged to roll back changes MSPs made to its reforms of the planning system. Ministers introduced legislation at Holyrood with the aim of streamlining planning and “empowering communities” but the process has not been as seamless as the Scottish Government had anticipated.

MSPs on the local government committee have made more than 230 amendments to the bill adding in extra powers and responsibilities for planning boards. The government has warned these could “create millions of pounds of new costs” and undermine the legislation.Local Government and Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said he was now working on fresh changes to “rescue” the bill and “remove unnecessary burdens” before MSPs vote on it for the final time,

There was a little good news for the Scottish economy as new figures showed that it grew by 0.3% in the final three months of 2018, according to official figures. The increase in the country’s GDP compared to a figure of 0.2% for the UK. The news comes as Scotland’s unemployment rate hit a record low. Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP said it was the eighth consecutive quarter of growth and that the country’s economy “continues to go from strength to strength”.

Mental health is back on the agenda with an independent review of Scotland’s mental health legislation is to be carried out, mental health care in Scotland is currently underpinned by laws which date back to 2003, and MSPs have faced calls for an update.Linked to this and as mentioned last week, a petition had been lodged at Holyrood urging ministers to “conduct a wide review” of legislation, in light of developments both in care and treatment and international human rights law. Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey MSP told MSPs that “the time is right” to review the law, to make sure that rules “fully reflect our ambitions and the needs of those our laws are intended to support”.

In a rather worrying development, a leading MSP has told how she fears for her safety after online threats and abuse. Glasgow Conservative Annie Wells said she has contacted Police Scotland over the social media posts. She told media representatives that in the three years since she was elected she had muted more than 1100 abusive Twitter accounts due to the violent and foul nature of the posts. Ms Wells said the majority ofthe abuse on Twitter was aimed at her simply for a being a woman. Sadly her experience is by no means unique.

And finally… One of Perceptive’s newest clients, the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) in Glasgow, welcomes senior Glasgow MSP Anas Sarwar this morning.  A former dentist and MP, Mr Sarwar has considerable interest in IBioIC’s role, as a specialist in the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) sector, is to stimulate the growth of the IB sector in Scotland to £900 million by 2025. IBioIC is one of eight Innovation Centres funded by the Scottish Funding Council and supported by Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

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 Mousdale on 07734 932578 or    

Account Director

Account Director

Do you thrive on leading and working with a team to deliver great communications results that make a big difference? Are you keen to work with amazing clients and an exclusively expert team in a great working environment?

We’re looking for an enthusiastic, motivated and experienced communicator to join our growing and multi-award winning team based in our lovely office in Glasgow city centre.

Our ideal person would be a strong project manager with a proven track record of helping achieve business and organisational goals through effective PR and social media campaigns.  An ability to deliver results in a fast paced environment with a can-do attitude is key.

Key responsibilities

  • Developing, leading and implementing proactive PR and social media strategies for clients to help them achieve their organisational goals
  • Leading and working with a team to deliver key activities and KPIs that have been agreed with client within agreed timescales, demonstrating effective project management where there are often competing priorities in a fast moving environment
  • Lead role in building and maintaining positive relationships with clients and influencers which results in strong client retention levels and referrals
  • Developing positive relationships with key stakeholders and influencers  
  • Writing and editing publications, brochures, news releases, opinion pieces, award submissions, speeches, newsletters, websites and social media within agreed timescales to a high standard
  • Being a strong positive ambassador for Perceptive amongst clients, potential clients, influencers and stakeholders in person and online eg social media eg LinkedIn
  • Identifying appropriate contacts and then developing and maintaining good working relationships with the media, key stakeholders eg community leaders and clients
  • Contributing to the direction of Perceptive Communicators’ strategy and attending six monthly meetings to deliver the vision for the company
  • Identifying potential new business opportunities with existing and new clients
  • Contributing to new business activities eg tenders
  • Developing and managing PR & Social Media managers and other relevant team members

Living Perceptive values

  • Focussed on results
  • Trusted experts, so reassurance for clients
  • Straightforward
  • Great energy and proactive with positive team spirit that extends to client teams
  • We care

Essential skills

  • Proven track record of leading a team in successful PR and social media campaigns to deliver desired results
  • An ability to deliver agreed goals and work to tight deadlines to ensure clients’ targets and expectations are met
  • Good project management and time management skills
  • Strong writing and creative skills, so able to create compelling content from complex information
  • Proactive and proven ability to thrive in a fast paced environment
  • Organised work processes and project management with ability to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Flexible can do attitude and a willingness to learn
  • Ability to work on own and as part of a team
  • Driving licence and access to a car for work

    If you think you fit the bill, do get in touch.

Work experience
Candidates will at have least ten years’ communications work experience in PR and social media.  Experience of working in an agency and delivering successful results on behalf of clients is desired but not essential. 

Why join us?

Perceptive Communicators is a multi-award winning communications consultancy, established in 2006 and on a very strong growth path which benefits all employees. We work on exciting projects in construction, health, biotechnology and technology which help our clients achieve their goals.

We offer flexible working hours and up to two days a week working from home. Our team enjoy excellent holidays and benefits, including private healthcare, discounted flights and hotels, free Amazon Prime, Starbucks coffees and cinema tickets.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 March 2019

Just like buses… you wait for one and three come along at once, Theresa May will make a third attempt, with a third vote put to MPs, to get her EU withdrawal deal through Parliament in the next week. She told MPs that if her deal fails again to get their backing, a lengthy delay to Brexit may be needed.

No date has yet been set for the third so-called “meaningful vote” but the Commons voted by a whisker – just two votes – last night to allow her to maintain control of Brexit.  For now.

European Council President Donald Tusk has said he will appeal to EU leaders “to be open to a long extension” of the Brexit deadline, his intervention came this week as MPs voted on Thursday to try and seek to postpone the 29 March deadline to 30 June. EU leaders will meet in Brussels on 21 March where they will have the final say on the matter.

Nicola Sturgeon commented this week that the Brexit deadline should be put back long enough for a new referendum. The First Minister said the failure of the Commons to agree on a deal meant the issue should now be put back to the public in a fresh referendum.

Back to Holyrood, and MSPs have called for research to be carried out on the impact of social media on young people’s mental health. Holyrood’s public audit committee has been studying a “significant increase” in the number of children and teens experiencing mental health problems. Members wanted to find out if social media use could be a factor in rising demand for services but were told that this was “not yet understood”.

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee’s major inquiry into the Construction industry is continuing and this week we were pleased to support client CSIC (Construction Scotland Innovation Centre).  Chief Executive Stephen Good was questioned for an hour by MSPs on how innovation is transforming this vital industry which contributes £21bn every year to Scotland’s economy. Client Construction Scotland will also give evidence on 2 April.

A must visit for anyone interested in the construction industry is Scotland Build 2019 which starts next week (20 – 21 March at the SEC Glasgow). Now in its fourth year, the conference is Scotland’s leading and largest construction show dedicated entirely to opportunities in building, construction, architecture and design across Scotland. Three members of Perceptive’s team will be leading workshops on political influence, LinkedIn and crisis communications at the Skills Hub on the Wednesday – tickets are free and there’s still time to register to come along:

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 Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 March 2019

Another week goes by and we are still none the wiser on the UK’s Brexit position. EU officials have urged the UK to submit fresh proposals within the next 48 hours to try and break the Brexit impasse. EU officials said they would work non-stop over the weekend if “acceptable” ideas were received today to break the deadlock over the Irish backstop.

The UK has said “reasonable” proposals to satisfy MPs’ concerns about being tied to EU rules had already been made… So, who knows, by Monday we might be closer to getting an outcome… or, and much more likely, we could be even further away from understanding how the UK will leave the European Union.

On Tuesday this week, Scottish and Welsh politicians joined forces in a bid to encourage the Prime Minister to change her position on Brexit. An identical motion was debated simultaneously by the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd, the Welsh Assembly, culminating with co-ordinated votes. Sponsors said that it underlined opposition to Theresa May’s deal, demand a delay to Brexit and call for “no deal” to be ruled out. The UK government maintain that the PM’s deal was a good one for Scotland and Wales. 

Away from Brexit and the person in charge of promoting the UK’s financial industry around the world has said there is great potential for Scottish firms to expand abroad. Peter Estlin, Lord Mayor of the City of London, said he wanted Scots firms looking to expand and to join him on foreign trips to places like China to promote and push their business.

And closer to home, Project Heather – Scotland’s new stock market company – was formally launched in Edinburgh.  Perceptive attended and we maintain closeworking links with the venture’s research partners, former MPs Roger Mullin and Michelle Thomson. Bourse Scot, the company behind it, has revealed a partnership with European stock market operator Euronext. It is led by experienced broker and entrepreneur Tomás Carruthers and is in discussion with Scottish Enterprise to secure Regional Selective Assistance, with a view to creating around 60 jobs.

There was some bad news for Scottish Business this week as the best hope for bringing major contracts to Scotland for the building of multi-billion-pound offshore wind farms failed to win a vital order, according to unions. BiFab is believed to have lost out on an order for offshore platforms to yards in Belgium, Spain and the UAE. Unite and the GMB say the failure to place any of the order in Scotland is a “scandal”.

The first ever affordable housing development in the village of Killearn by Rural Stirling Housing Association was formally opened by Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford this week.  Built by long standing Perceptive client Mactaggart & Mickel, the properties benefit from a modern, efficient and sustainable air source heat pump heating system. In addition, the exacavated rock has been reused to build a dry stone dyke around the site boundary. 

Jamie McLean, head of contracts and timber systems at Mactaggart & Mickel said: “This is the first new development in Killearn delivering much-needed quality affordable housing and is our first partnership with Rural Stirling Housing Association.”

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 Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 March 2019

As 29 March draws closer, another week of bewildering Brexit discussions has ended with Theresa May promising MPs a meaningful vote on her deal by 12 March. Meanwhile Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard MSP is insisting that the option of remaining in the EU must be on the ballot paper for any further Brexit referendum. And adding to the uncertainty, a report on the impact of a no-deal Brexit has just been published – the findings of which should come with a health warning!

As the words of Noel Edmonds – “deal or no-deal” – come to mind, Scotland’s home grown billionaire Sir Tom Hunter accuses politicians of letting down the country, saying voters were lied to by the ‘Leave’ campaign during the 2016 referendum, and he too joins calls for a second referendum to be held.

In other non-Brexit news this week, MSPs will debate legislation which allows for questions about gender identity to be included in the 2021 census, although in usual Government fashion, there has been much disagreement over what people should be asked. You can read the full report from the Culture committee here.  And in another potentially significant move, MSPs also agreed the general principles of the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill, which, if passed, will shift Scotland to a soft ‘opt-out’ for organ donation.

In client news, Fulton MacGregor, MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, visited Kier Construction Scotland’s refurbished HQ in Stepps, to hear about the work they are carrying out across Scotland and NE England. Mr MacGregor said: “It was good to hear about the diverse range of projects that Kier is carrying out and their commitment to providing local jobs for local people to help boost the local economy.”

As deputy convener of the Children & Young People’s Cross Party Group in Holyrood, Mr MacGregor said he was equally keen to hear about the initiatives Kier have in place to inform young people about the construction industry, adding: “I was impressed by their ‘Shaping Your World’ initiative where they have pledged 1% of their workforce to engage with schools and colleges to highlight the vast career opportunities that exist within this dynamic industry.”

Yesterday it was announced that client Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC) will receive almost £11 million of core funding to support the sector to innovate, modernise and grow. The investment from the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will allow CSIC to build on the foundations of a highly successful first five years and support its Phase 2 mission to mainstream innovation in construction, leading to improved productivity and growth within the sector.  It is expected that over the next five years, the funding will support the construction sector to deliver £998m of additional gross turnover, create 1,847 new jobs and retain 4,721 existing jobs.

And finally it is less than three weeks until Scotland Build an event dedicated  to opportunities in building, construction, architecture and design across Scotland. As the communications partner for the event, Perceptive running a range of free training sessions, including How construction companies can use political influence to achieve their goals, Protecting reputations and handling crises well in the risky business of construction and Top tips on how to use LinkedIn to build profile in construction.  You can find the full list of sessions and times here, but feel free to attend one of the free training events led by the Perceptive team.

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    

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