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Political Insider Friday 30 August

Political Insider Friday 30 August

This week, the Prime Minister’s decision to suspend Parliament has prompted an angry backlash from MPs and opponents of a no-deal Brexit. It sparked protests across the country, a legal challenge and a petition with more than a million signatures. The government said the five-week suspension in September and October will still allow time to debate Brexit.

The Scottish Parliament’s long summer recess draws to a close this weekend with Chamber business resuming on Tuesday. It goes out with a bang as we saw another senior Conservative casualty of the Brexit debate, Ruth Davidson MSP, resign as leader of the Scottish Conservatives yesterday morning. Deputy Leader Jackson Carlaw MSP, who stood in as Interim Leader previously, will take over as acting leader until a new MSP is elected as Ms Davidson’s permanent successor, prior to the May 2021 elections.

Ms Davidson’s resignation will add an edge to what isalready certain to be a lively debate on a no-deal Brexit, following a proposal from the Scottish Government. The vote would only be symbolic, but the Government wants the Scottish Parliament to restate its opposition to a no-deal Brexit.

The motion is expected to say: “That the Scottish Parliament agrees that the UK should in no circumstances leave the EU on a no deal basis”. The SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens and Labour are expected to support the debate. Patrick Harvie said the vote would put “pressure” on the Scottish Conservatives to decide whether to join a “rational majority” and “block Boris Johnson’s disastrous agenda”. Willie Rennie has called for a cross-party consensus to “urge the Prime Minister to change course”following his unexpected Prorogation of the House of Commons next week.

Next Tuesday will also see a new MSP for Shetland take her seat as Beatrice Wishers managed to hold the country’s most northerly seat for the Lib Dems despite a strong challenge from the SNP. She becomes the first female Lib Dem MSP since 2016.

Still on Brexit and a recent study has shown that Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, could lose nearly £2.5 billion in the event of a No-Deal.  A No-Deal could also cost Glasgow 30,000 jobs, according to recently published media research obtained by The Times. Economists have concluded that Glasgow would be around £2.35 billion worse off over four years under ‘no deal,’ compared to current growth projections. The city would also lose approximately 24,000 jobs over two years, and miss out on a potential 14,000 new jobs being created. Additionally, the number of businesses in the city is projected to rise by only 900 in two years, a reduction of 300 on previous projections.

Congratulations to Perceptive clients, Clyde Gateway, Cruden Group,  AS Homes and Briar Homes for being shortlisted as finalists at The Herald Property Awards which will take place in Glasgow on 26 September.  

And finally… It’s been a busy week for a number of our clients who have hosted a number of political visits this week. On Monday, Kier Regional Building, updated the Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman on the progress of their work, building a new eye centre at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank. Cruden Building hosted a visit with Stuart McMillan MSP on Wednesday at the James Watt Dock development in Greenock where they are building 137 homes on behalf of River Clyde Homes. Finally, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visits Hinshelwood Drive in Ibrox today, to mark the completion of a £16.2m project where Cruden Building developed 152 affordable flats on behalf of GHA, part of the Wheatley Group.

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 07734932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Political Insider – Friday 23 August 2019

Political Insider – Friday 23 August 2019

The UK Government has announced it has signed into law the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, which enabled the UK to join the European Union. The Act is also the basis for EU law becoming UK law. The Act will be officially repealed on Thursday 31 October.  Steve Barclay MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, said: “This is a clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back – we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances – delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016.”  

Meanwhile, over 100 MPs have called for the UK Government to recall Parliament due to the “national emergency” of Brexit. Parliament can only be recalled at the request of the Government. In the letter, MPs warn that the UK is on the brink of a “grave economic emergency” and calls for Parliament to be recalled so that there can be “proper scrutiny” of the Government’s Brexit plan.

Nearer home and the Electoral Commission would want to assess the wording of the question for a new Scottish independence vote even if it was the same one used in 2014. A Scottish Government official has suggested this would be unnecessary as the question is already “tested”, but the election watchdog said it would want to review the question in the light of possible new evidence. The Scottish Government said the 2014 vote provided a clear precedent for a simple, straightforward question. The SNP wants a fresh independence poll before the next Holyrood elections in 2021 and has suggested the “right time” would be in the second half of 2020.

There was some good economic news this week as Scotland’s notional deficit is falling faster than the UK’s, with onshore revenues increasing by 5.1% to reach £61.3 billion in 2018-19 as a result of continued economic growth. According to the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures published on Wednesday, Scotland benefitted from a £3 billion increase in onshore revenues in the last year – the fastest growth since 2010-11 as the overall notional deficit fell by £1.1 billion to 7.0% of GDP, down from 8%, in 2018-19. The reduction in the notional deficit is the result of revenues growing at a faster rate than expenditure.

Reintroducing the notion of a Lib Dem ‘shadow cabinet’, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson MP has announced her new team. Key appointments in Scotland are:

Sir Ed Davey MPChancellor of the Exchequer and Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
Chuka Umunna MPForeign and Commonwealth Affairs, International Development and International Trade
Christine Jardine MP (Edinburgh West)Home Department, Justice, Women and Equalities and Deputy Chief Whip
Jamie Stone MP (Caithness)Defence and Scotland
Wera Hobhouse MPClimate Change and Environment and Transport
Alistair Carmichael MP (Orkney and Shetland)Chief Whip and Northern Ireland
Catherine Bearder MEPEurope
Willie Rennie MSPScotland

Finally, just a week to go until the deadline for Perceptive’s Shout Louder campaign. This offers charities a chance to secure nine days of the team’s communications expertise over the next year as Perceptive will donate a day of each employee’s time to the chosen charity.    If you know of any charities who could benefit from this, do get in touch.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 julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Political Insider – Friday 16 August 2019

Political Insider – Friday 16 August 2019

As the week started with torrential rain, it nicely matched the tone of the Brexit debate as the days ebb away towards Boris Johnson’s Hallowe’en deadline.  Speculation is also growing that the new PM will call a snap election in November on the back of ‘delivering’ Brexit (one MP predicted 7 November to our public affairs guru Devin Scobie this week).  And bear in mind that the Fixed Term Parliament Act (introduced by the Cameron coalition precisely to stop this level of date patronage) can be overruled if two-thirds of MPs support a dissolution.  So expect a noisy autumn.

The Institute for Government has published a report on the role of Parliament and voting for Brexit. The report addresses the possible outcomes once MPs return to Westminster following the summer recess. It is suggested that it is growing “very unlikely” that the UK will be able to leave the European Union with a renegotiated deal. Regarding an extension, the report suggests that backbenchers will have “limited opportunities” to legislate against a no-deal Brexit and a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister may not prevent a no-deal scenario.

Closer to home and, as the world’s largest arts festival gets under way again in Edinburgh, more than one opinion poll is suggesting that Scotland would support independence if Nicola Sturgeon gets her wish for a second referendum. Bear in mind the Scottish Parliament has already passed the necessary legislation, leaving only the small matter of Westminster approval required ….

The Scottish Government is calling for the UK Government not to withdraw from a series of EU working groups and committees. Cabinet Secretary Fiona Hyslop has written to Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay, seeking assurances that no decisions have been made regarding the membership of these groups. She expressed concern that Scotland would lose the ability to impact “crucial topics” including budgets, fisheries negotiations and foreign affairs.

Holyrood remains in recess for another three weeks but MSPs are descending on Shetland as the SNP talk up their prospects in a rare Holyrood by-election, following Tavish Scott’s resignation. Perceptive sources expect the Lib Dems to hang on – but the telephone number sized majority Tavish Scott built up over 20 years will be well down.

And finally… The co-leaders of the Scottish Greens – Patrick Harvie MSP and Lorna Slater – are to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe as part of a show highlighting the ‘dangers of the climate emergency.’  The show ‘1.5 Degrees Live!’ involves over a hundred volunteers made up of performers, writers, members of the public, politicians and activists, reading from the UN’s IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees.

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 julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Political Insider – Friday 9 August 2019

Political Insider – Friday 9 August 2019

Nicola Sturgeon said there was “growing urgency” for Scotland to become independent “sooner rather than later”. The first minister believed the country faced being “dragged down a political path we don’t want to go” because of Brexit and with Boris Johnson as PM.

However, opposition parties said another vote would be “divisive” and was “not the way forward”. Ms Sturgeon wants to hold a referendum in the second half of 2020, but has said her preferred timetable could be accelerated in light of developments around Brexit, particularly if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

The poll by Lord Ashcroft put independence in the lead on Monday of this week, with 46% saying they would vote for it and 43% saying they would oppose it. Excluding those who said they did not know how they would vote, it would give the Yes side a lead of 52% to 48%.

The discussion which has dominated Scottish Politics this week continued to be the talking point on Wednesday, when the Scottish Labour leader hit back at suggestions from shadow chancellor John McDonnell that Labour would not oppose an independence referendum.

Mr McDonnell had said a Labour government would not block any request from Holyrood to hold a vote. His comments – which have been heavily criticised by several senior Scottish Labour figures – contradict the party’s general election manifesto pledge to rule out a referendum, as well as previous public statements by Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard.

A group of politicians has started a legal action aimed at preventing Boris Johnson shutting down parliament to force through a no-deal Brexit. The group of parliamentarians include Liberal Democrat leader and Scottish MP Jo Swinson, Edinburgh SNP MP Joanna Cherry and independent MP Heidi Allen. They have lodged legal papers at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Their petition is being considered by a judge who will decide whether to allow the case to proceed. The UK is currently due to leave the EU on 31 October, with the prime minister saying Brexit will happen on that day regardless of whether or not a deal has been agreed with the EU.

Despite recess, newly re-elected Scottish Greens Co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP visited Perceptive client, Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre (IBioIC) this week and had a very constructive meeting with outgoing CEO Roger Kilburn, together with his interim successor (more in a later Insider). This is the first time IBioIC has engaged pro-actively with a Green politician and all sides concluded it was a success.

And finally… Henry Boot Developments has completed work on The Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) which replaces the current Aberdeen Exhibition & Conference Centre (AECC). TECA is now the largest new entertainment complex in Europe and the largest ever project for the firm. Perceptive has supported Henry Boot Developments from helping to secure planning permission in 2014 and through the development of this world-class complex, which includes the P&J Live arena and two on-site hotels. The landmark events campus is an integral part of Aberdeen City Council’s transformational programme of investment and the venue will be hosting an open day for the public tomorrow ahead of the Offshore Europe conference and exhibition getting underway on 3 September.

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 julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Let us help you Shout Louder!

Let us help you Shout Louder!

Calling all Scottish Charities!

Today we are launching our Shout Louder campaign to give Scottish charities the chance to raise awareness of their work by providing free consultancy support.

We have been active in helping charities for over 10 years with pro-bono communications support and we are now seeking applications from interested charities who would benefit from our communications support.

Previous charities who we have worked with include Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity, Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice, Business Beats Cancer and most recently The Simon Community and Action for Children. 

Lorraine McGrath, Chief Executive of The Simon Community said: “Since 2017 we’ve been delighted to have the support of the Perceptive team in shaping and communicating what we do. As a team they’ve brought a level of talent and ability far beyond what we could bring but more than that they are a team who obviously share our values and desire to make a positive difference to people’s lives. From the outset the team has enabled us to increase our reach and impact resulting in not just more donations and partnerships but the right kind. They have been hands on in supporting us meet the challenges of people who have very complex needs and often low expectation.”

Action for Children’s Corporate and Major Donor Fundraising Manager, Grant McFarlane, said: “Perceptive Communicators support for Action for Children has been hugely worthwhile and appreciated and we’ve been extremely grateful to be the agency’s most recent nominated charity partner alongside the Simon Community.

“Over the months working with the team we’ve appreciated several great opportunities and networking event thanks to Perceptive. We’ve benefited greatly from Perceptive’s social media expertise, to help Action for Children Scotland improve how we communicate with our supporters and the broader community through the various channels available.” 

Julie Moulsdale, Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators, said: “We have been privileged to provide pro-bono communications support to organisations like The Simon Community and Action for Children who are making a difference to people’s lives in Scotland every day. We are delighted that our support has made a positive impact for these charities. By harnessing our expert communications skills, we hope to maximise the impact to help the chosen charity to achieve their future goals.”

To date, we have provided social media training and strategy support, PR campaign and copywriting support to our nominated charities which were selected by the team here at Perceptive.

The range of communications support on offer includes media training, campaign planning, PR support, social media training, copywriting and communications audit. We will donate a day of each of our employees’ time annually to the chosen charity, so a total of nine days over a year.

To apply for the Shout Louder campagin, charities should provide the following in 500 words in total or less:

  • Name and brief overview of the organisation
  • Contact name and contact number and email address
  • Current communications activities and resources (including any agency support)
  • Clear objectives for the pro-bono communications support from Perceptive – what do you want to achieve as a result of this support
  • What services/support would like from Perceptive (up to nine days communications support)  eg media training, PR strategy, media relations, copywriting, social media training, social media strategy and content, communications audit etc
  • Timing of the support required
  • How the impact of this support will be measured
  • Details of any specific campaigns or projects that will be active during the coming year and the timing of these

Applications should be emailed to kate.mcmahon@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk and the deadline to apply is Friday 30th August

Political Insider – Friday 2 August 2019

Political Insider – Friday 2 August 2019

Week two of the Johnson era and the Prime Minister has declared it is “up to the EU, this is their call” if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Mr Johnson said: “We’re not aiming for a no-deal Brexit, we don’t think that’s where we’ll end up.”

This comes as the UK Government has just announced an extra £2.1bn of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, with plans including more border force officers and upgrades to transport infrastructure at ports.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon claimed that Boris Johnson has set the UK on an “almost inevitable path to a no-deal Brexit”. Ms Sturgeon’s comment came after distinctly cool talks with the new PM at her official Bute House residence in Edinburgh. She said it was clear to her that the UK government was on a “dangerous” path to a “catastrophic” exit from the EU.

Elsewhere, Boris Johnson should stop “ignoring” Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson or risk putting an end to the “delicate” union of the United Kingdom, William Hague, the former UK Conservative leaderand Foreign Secretary has warned. Lord Hague urged the Prime Minister to give Ms Davidson “a strong place in his counsels and confidence”, despite splits between the pair over a no-deal Brexit and the Cabinet sacking of ally David Mundell as Scottish Secretary.

Boris Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle saw around 75% of Theresa May’s ministers sacked or moved. A definitive listing of ‘new’ Ministers can be found here (note the Scotland Office has an extra/third Minister):https://www.gov.uk/government/ministers

The former Scottish Conservative leader Annabel, now Baroness, Goldie has been appointed as Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, moving across from the Whips Office. She joins another former MSP, Ben Wallace, a former soldier who was promoted into the Cabinet as Defence Secretary.  

A second junior Minister (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State and also a Scottish Whip) has been appointed to the Scotland Office, supporting new Scottish Secretary Alister Jack.  He is Colin Clark MP for Gordon and a former businessman before gaining his Gordon seat from a certain Alex Salmond in June 2017.

In other news, the UK government should use Brexit as an opportunity to “rewrite” unfair agricultural funding rules, according to a key group of MPs on Westminster’s Scottish Affairs Committee. They said leaving the EU presented a chance to address failings in the current formula. A report said the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) had led to Scottish farms and crofts receiving low funding. The UK government insisted Scotland would get a better deal after Brexit. The report urged ministers to move away from an “outdated method” of allocating money.

As mentioned last week, Iain Gray, the former Scottish Labour leader and local MSP for East Lothian had a entertaining visit to The Lighthouse in North Berwick on Wednesday ahead of its sponsorship of the Fringe by the Sea festival starting on Friday 2nd August. The Lighthouse is a client of Perceptive’s and has gone from strength to strength since opening in March 2018.

And finally… In a tersely worded press release, the SNP has called for Michael Gove to make it an early priority to take his threat to devolution off the table. Mr Gove – a Scot and the new Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – has led calls for Westminster to wrestle control of spending in devolved areas from Holyrood – eroding the powers of the Scotland Act and breaching current Treasury rules. He has been tasked with “overseeing constitutional affairs and maintaining the integrity of the Union”. 

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 07734932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

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