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Political Insider Friday 29 November

Political Insider Friday 29 November

Finally we reach the home straight with less than a fortnight to go before the first Xmas election since Stanley Baldwin’s time (he lost to a grumpy old Labour bloke…).  Proper views are coming thick and fast and neither the Conservatives nor Labour are offering “credible” spending plans ahead of the election, an influential research group said this week.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said it was “highly likely” the Tories would end up spending more than their manifesto pledges. Labour, it warned, would be unable to deliver its spending increases as it has promised. Neither was being “honest” with voters, director Paul Johnson said. The Liberal Democrats were “the most fiscally prudent” in terms of the public finances, he added, but given the uncertainty around Brexit, it was difficult to say whether they or any other party would be able to deliver their plans. So basically one big fudge continues.

Nicola Sturgeon launched the SNP election manifesto this week – the last of the ‘big five’ parties to do so – with a pledge to “escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”.The manifesto says that the SNP winning the most seats in Scotland would send a “clear” message that an independence referendum must be held next year.Ms Sturgeon said the country faced a “fundamental question” over who should decide its future. The full document runs to 52 pages but a handy guide from the BBC can be read at your leisure (if you wish) here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50561073

The SNP won 35 seats in the snap general election in 2017, making it the third biggest party in the UK Parliament, and it hopes to hold the balance of power if there is a hung parliament after the forthcoming election. Ms Sturgeon says she is open to forming a “progressive alliance” with other parties after the election but has ruled out doing a deal with the Conservatives or entering into a formal coalition with Labour.  The UK Lib Dems are hoping to regain third place and the parliamentary status that comes with it.

The Labour Party is to re-shape its general election campaign strategy – particularly in Leave-voting areas – to try to turn around a stubborn Conservative opinion poll lead. According to the YouGov MRP poll for The Times, Boris Johnson is on course for a 68-seat majority, according to a detailed seat-by-seat survey that correctly forecast the election results in 2017.

Both Labour and the Tories have removed one of their general election candidates over allegations that they made anti-Semitic posts on Facebook. We won’t repeat them here but historic social media posts are increasingly becoming a risk factor to candidates across the board – just as MSP Gillian Martin who was junior education minister for 24 hours before her youthful rants were revealed by the media.

The Scottish Greens are seldom at the races in UK elections, having only even won a single seat (in Brighton).  But climate change “has to be” a central issue in December’s general election, Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie MSP has said. The Scottish Greens have candidates standing in 22 of Scotland’s 59 seats, up from just three in 2017. Mr Harvie accepted Brexit, independence and who becomes Prime Minister were all key topics in the race, but said it “has to be a climate election too”. And he said the Greens were the only ones “joining the dots” on the issue.

The two questions we get asked by our clients here at Perceptive regarding the upcoming election is how much is all this costing us and – more importantly – how do we prepare to engage with new Westminster MPs? To find out how and to read all our thoughts on the election, please visit our article which appeared in The Scotsman this week.


And finally
 … with one in three children in Glasgow living in poverty, our client hub West Scotland has organised a Christmas #WinterWarmer Appeal, with their charity partner PEEK, (Possibilities for Each and Every Kid) based in the East End of Glasgow. They are seeking donations of new children’s winter jackets and wellington boots (with tags still on) for children aged between 2 – 16 years.  There’s still time to donate. If your company would like to contribute, please drop off your donation, including your company name, to hub West Scotland’s office at 6th Floor, Merchant Exchange, 20 Bell Street, Glasgow, G1 1LG by Tuesday 3 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 Julie Moulsdale on 07734 932578 or julie.moulsdale@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Devin Scobie – What does the General Election mean for firms

Devin Scobie – What does the General Election mean for firms

In 15 days’ time we will be ­making our way to the polls for the tenth time in nine years.

That’s a lot of elections and, more importantly, a lot of public money. The two questions we get asked constantly at the moment is how much is all this costing us and – more importantly – how do we prepare to engage with new Westminster MPs?

Costs first – a UK-wide General Election costs around £140 million. Just over £98m was spent on fees for returning officers and their teams, who oversee the count at a local level, with £42.5m on delivering “statutory” election literature.

That’s the ones that say election communication and are delivered free – one per party per seat – though the political parties pay for the design and printing.

Add into that the amounts spent by each party and the numbers really begin to rocket. The two most marginal seats in the UK are both in Scotland. North East Fife had an SNP majority of just two over the Lib Dems and Perth and North Perthshire saw veteran nationalist Pete Wishart scrape back with 21 votes to spare over his Tory opponent.

Voters in seats like those and, in fact, any marginal (a seat with a majority under 3,000) or super marginal (under 1,000) can expect a blizzard of literature, letters, mini magazines that try hard not to look like election leaflets, and targeted online advertising via Facebook.

Expenditure

Strict limits mean parties are allowed to spend no more than about £14,000 per seat during the six weeks between dissolution and polling day. Not all parties will spend this in every seat but with 150 seats likely to change hands you can guarantee the leading two parties will be spending pretty close to that £14k limit – adding another £4 million to the election budget.

Then there is the famous deposit, a fee paid to the relevant local authority to help offset some of the admin costs. All candidates must pay it – £500 – but if they gain 5 per cent of the votes cast, the deposit is returned. A local Indian restaurant once stood a notional candidate against Tony Blair and reckoned the £500 was the best advertising money ever spent!

But how to engage with our new crop of MPs? Opinion polls suggest as many as two dozen Scottish seats will change hands. That’s a lot of new names to get to know. Our hunch is that most of the Tories’ 13 seats will revert to the SNP as will a few of the seven Labour seats.

The Lib Dems will probably regain North East Fife. What will be highly significant, however, is if the UK Lib Dem total of MPs exceeds that of the SNP. The third-placed UK ­party has much greater speaking rights in debates, more select committee clout, and a guaranteed slot at Prime Minister’s ­Questions.

Closer to home, we recommend five steps for Scottish firms used to, or planning to deal with, politicians at Westminster:

1. By lunchtime on Friday 13 December you will know who your new MP is. If you know him/her send an old-fashioned letter of ­congratulations saying you look forward to continuing to work with them in the ­coming months. Parliamentary emails will not be operational for another week or so.

2. If it is a new MP, send a similar letter but appropriately worded. Keep it politically neutral and stress a good working relationship with your business in their new constituency (include key employment facts and figures).

3. If you didn’t know the former MP and even if he/she is returned, an amended letter of congrats with a specific invite to visit “in the New Year”. Mention employee numbers and, if possible, value to the local economy.

4. If you work outside Scotland, send a ­letter of welcome to the new or returning UK ­Minister. The Cabinet will be appointed on Friday/Saturday unless it is a (very) hung ­parliament. Junior appointments will be the following week.

5. Follow up either 1, 2 or 3 and 4 – but leave to the New Year. If in doubt, give us a ring!

Devin Scobie is public affairs director with ­Perceptive Communicators and a former ­Westminster parliamentary candidate.

Political Insider – Friday 22 November 2019

Political Insider – Friday 22 November 2019

Alex Salmond appeared in court yesterday charged with carrying out a series of alleged sexual offences against 10 women while serving as Scotland’s First Minister. Mr Salmond faced a total of 14 charges at the High Court in Edinburgh. He denies all the allegations, which include one attempted rape, one intent to rape, 10 sexual assaults and two indecent assaults. The offences are alleged to have happened between June 2008 and November 2014. His QC, former Labour MSP Gordon Jackson, said Mr Salmond was pleading not guilty, and judge Lady Dorrian set the trial date for 9 March next year. The trial is expected to last four weeks.

On Tuesday, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn clashed over Brexit in the first TV election debate of the 2019 election campaign. Mr Johnson promised to “end this national misery” and said Labour offered “only division and deadlock”. Mr Corbyn said Labour would “get Brexit sorted by giving you, the people, the final say”. An average audience of 6.7m people watched the leaders lock horns over the NHS, trust and leadership, the future of Scotland – and the Royal Family.

After the debate, Nicola Sturgeon branded Prime Minister Boris Johnson a “scaredy-cat” after he said he would never face her on a televised debate. Ms Sturgeon, had been excluded from Tuesday evening’s ITV debate between Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Johnson said ahead of the debate that he would only debate with “serious candidates” to become prime minister. But Ms Sturgeon said she was willing to face the PM “any time, any place”. A joint legal challenge by the SNP and Liberal Democrats to be included in the ITV debate was rejected by the High Court.

Also this week, Labour and the Conservatives set out rival plans to tackle the housing shortage. Jeremy Corbyn has promised the biggest affordable house building programme since the 1960s, including 100,000 new council houses a year by 2024. The announcement came as part of Labour’s manifesto launch on Thursday, which also included a windfall tax on oil companies as part of plans for a low carbon, green economy.

Labour’s Angela Rayner said the state was going to take “more direct control” of housing adding that “the market hasn’t delivered and many families are in sub-standard accommodation, paying huge amounts of money for it.”  Promising to protect the green belt, she said the houses would be built on brownfield sites and unused public sector land.

Holyrood business continues, and this week Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP confirmed that due to the General Election and the cancellation of the UK Budget, it will not be possible to publish the Scottish Budget for 2020-21 until the New Year. A new date is to be agreed with the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee as soon as possible. Following discussions with parties’ spokespersons, Mr Mackay has written to the Finance and Constitution Committee and the Scottish Fiscal Commission stating that the Scottish Budget will not take place before Christmas. 

And finally … Nicola Sturgeon spoke at the Race Against Dementia dinner in Glasgow, acknowledging the huge health problem which affects more people than cancer and heart disease. Set up by Sir Jackie Stewart following his wife being diagnosed with the disease, Race Against Dementia aims to borrow techniques from the world of sport to find a cure for dementia faster and smarter. 

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 15 November 2019

Political Insider – Friday 15 November 2019

Delivering Brexit will enable the UK to start closing the “opportunity gap between rich and poor”, Boris Johnson has said in his first campaign speech on Wednesday. He promised to tackle “injustices” in regional investment and productivity after taking the UK out of the EU. He said a future Tory government would double total investment in industrial research and development to £18bn.

Labour is promising to spend more on the NHS in England than the Tories if it wins the general election. The NHS budget would rise to £155bn by 2023-24 – £6bn more than the government promised the front-line budget would reach that stage when it set out its five-year plan last year. Announcing his party’s flagship election policy earlier in the week at the Royal Society of Medicine, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said after a “decade of underfunding and cuts” waiting lists had risen to “record levels”.

Jo Swinson has rejected calls for the Lib Dems to pull out of seats held by Labour candidates opposed to Brexit. The Lib Dem leader is under mounting pressure after two of her own candidates withdrew saying they did not want to split the pro-Remain vote. The Lib Dems do have an electoral pact with the Greens and Plaid Cymru.

Nicola Sturgeon has predicted Jeremy Corbyn will soon back her call for a Scottish independence vote in 2020. The SNP leader was responding to further confusion over Mr Corbyn’s position on a second Scottish independence referendum. The Labour leader said on Thursday that indyref2 would not happen in the first two years of his party winning power. The previous day, he initially told journalists that a referendum would not happen in the first five-year term.

Although it has made marginal impact, the Brexit party (like UKIP previously) have hopes of improving their position in Scotland and did gain an MEP in May.   They have, however, announced that they will not stand candidates in the 13 seats that the Scottish Conservatives are defending from the 2017 election, most of which are considered vulnerable to the SNP.

The Scottish Conservatives have officially reported Nicola Sturgeon’s government for destroying hand written instructions and using an SNP email account to direct civil servants and conduct government business. Donald Cameron MSP has today urged the National Records of Scotland to intervene and investigate the First Minister for potentially breaching the Public Records (Scotland) Act 2011. 

The SNP – the third largest political party represented in the previous Westminster parliament – is to take legal action against ITV over its exclusion from the broadcaster’s general election debate. ITV plans to show a head-to-head debate between Conservative leader Boris Johnson and his Labour counterpart Jeremy Corbyn next week, but SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said it was “fundamentally unfair” to not include her party, which is the third-largest in the UK.

The Finance & Constitution Committee has published its pre-budget scrutiny 2020-21 report. The Committee found potential “structural issues” and the risk of “unintended consequences” within the Fiscal Framework. The Committee also called on Derek Mackay to set out how the Government intends to manage the risk of a £1bn shortfall in Scotland’s public finances, stating it is “disappointed” at the lack of information on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy.

And finally, client Homes for Scotland hosted their eighth annual conference this week. With over 200 attendees, speakers included Kevin Stewart, Housing Minister,  Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work and Graham Simpson, Conservative spokesperson for Housing & Planning. 

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    

How we are building inclusive schools – Lindsey Mitchell

How we are building inclusive schools – Lindsey Mitchell

Like many who grew up in the 1980s, school for me was the building where I attended each weekday, was moved along corridors by prefects and herded by teachers into classrooms where I would sit at one of the desks organised in neat rows all facing the front. Break times were spent in the one vast playground, huddled away in a corner sheltering from the good old Scottish weather, and sports day when it wasn’t cancelled, took place on the red blaze pitch. Then when school holidays arrived, the building was locked down.

It didn’t do me any harm, but I’m pleased that lessons have been learned with regards to the design of education environments. Much progress has been made over the years and I am privileged to be part of an interdisciplinary team who creates inspirational spaces where everyone can learn.

A really positive attitude shift has been in the recognition of the diverse learner population and the different ways people learn. Personalisation of education is one of the key aims of the Scottish Government’s policy ‘Getting it right for every child (Education)’, and as architects and creators of education spaces that facilitate this approach, it is important that we too get it right for every child.

A vast amount of research has been published that links well-designed education buildings to improving academic performance, learner attainment and attendance. 

Various factors such as natural light, noise levels, temperature, air quality and classroom orientation all impact on both learners and teachers. Flexible seating options can help to encourage participation and collaboration as well as independent work. Technology also has a key role to play and as a result, teaching is no longer confined to within the classroom walls.

At BDP, we too are always learning and our starting point on any new project is to consult with the client, teachers, learners, parents and the local community to listen to what their wants and needs are – we don’t simply take a building design and replicate it in different towns and cities. We place great importance in consultation and listening to determine what the needs of each client are.

One of the key messages we hear during consultation is that schools should be at the heart of their communities, and offer more than just a building for teaching and learning. They should be a real community asset that promotes social interaction and lifelong learning. And they should be accessible all year round.

One excellent example of this is a project delivered by BDP, Waid Community Campus in Fife, built as part of the Scottish Government’s ‘Scotland Schools for the Future’ programme, managed by Scottish Futures Trust. The brief for this project was to create an environment that brought the community together and to create spaces that promoted lifelong learning. 

It contains a learning resource and a café that are not only widely used by people of all ages who live in the community, but also offer work experience and volunteering opportunities for students. The flexible spaces are also used by community groups throughout the day into the evening and this also helps to break down generational barriers. Teaching staff have explained how this environment builds young people’s confidence by improving social interaction in a modern setting.

The teaching and learning spaces are agile and flexible allowing for classes to be reduced or increased, supporting teachers in the delivery of cooperative learning strategies. But this doesn’t just happen within the walls of the building, outdoor space is also an important consideration.

Learning from Scandinavian countries, teaching outdoors has a truly positive effect on children, and not just academically, but also on their physical and mental wellbeing.  An outdoor art terrace and outdoor classroom are just a couple of areas BDP created in a recent project at Maidenhill Primary School, for East Renfrewshire Council, allowing for complete integration of the outdoor experience with curriculum learning.

The external landscape also needs to meet the needs of the diverse learner population.  Having the one vast playground no longer works. What does work is creating a range of spaces offering choice.

Schools estates have moved on and at BDP we are focused on designing spaces that help schools and their communities achieve both their educational and societal aspirations through architecture. We are helping to create public buildings that deliver social, economic, and environmental benefits to the wider community, all year round. Most importantly, through every project we deliver, we are setting the foundations for every child’s learning journey, from early years right through to adulthood.

And hopefully no more ‘schools out for summer’.

  • Lindsey Mitchell is architect director at BDP’s Glasgow studio
Political Insider – Friday 8 November 2019

Political Insider – Friday 8 November 2019

After last week’s vote to hold a general election on Thursday 12 December – the first ‘Christmas’ election in a century – the party bandwagons are now at full speed. 

Labour has promised “investment on a scale never seen before” to overhaul infrastructure in all areas of the UK. Yesterday, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell says he wants to transfer power and money out of the south-east of England – and will fund his plans through borrowing.

The Tories have also vowed to borrow to fund more spending, rewriting their current financial rules. Chancellor Sajid Javid denied copying Labour’s plans, saying he would practise “sensible stewardship”.

Earlier in the week, Boris Johnson launched the Conservative Party’s election campaign, saying his Brexit deal “delivers everything I campaigned for”. Surrounded by supporters holding signs with messages including “Get Brexit Done”, he told activists he had “no choice” but to hold an election. Parliament is “paralysed” and “blocked”, he said at the launch in Birmingham. He said once Brexit was done, a Tory government could get on with “better education” and “better infrastructure”.

In an interesting development, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have formed an electoral pact, agreeing not to stand against each other in dozens of seats. The deal between the three anti-Brexit parties will cover 60 constituencies across England and Wales. But in a tersely worded statement, the (Scottish) party said that the announcement from the Green Party of England and Wales does not apply in Scotland. They stress that the Scottish Greens are a separate political party and will be standing in SNP, Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat seats at this general election – and ask the media to ‘please refer to the GPEW by their full name.’

Closer to home, Scottish Labour has launched its election campaign by pledging to fund the building of 120,000 council and social houses over the next 10 years. Scottish leader Richard Leonard MSP opened his party’s campaign with a new policy designed to end homelessness “once and for all”.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has written an open letter to Scots who voted Remain urging them to back her party. The first minister said the election was “a chance to escape from Brexit”, but the Conservatives accused her of trying to “weaponise” Remain votes in her bid to secure a second independence referendum.

MSPs have debated legislation that lays the groundwork for a new Scottish independence referendum at Holyrood. The Scottish Government wants to hold a new ballot in 2020 and has tabled the Referendums Bill to pave the way. There have been calls for parts of the bill to be amended, in particular over whether the Electoral Commission would test the question for “indyref2”.However, the legislation is expected to progress with the backing of the SNP and the Greens in any case.  Another in/out referendum, however, does seem to be on the cards next year.

And finally … Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is the keynote speaker at client, Homes for Scotland’s annual conference on Wednesday next week in Edinburgh.   In advance of the event Homes for Scotland’s Chief Executive, Nicola Barclay was featured in The Scotsman highlighting the need to deliver more homes and the economic and social benefits of housing.  

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

We need to home in on ways to beat housing crisis – Nicola Barclay

We need to home in on ways to beat housing crisis – Nicola Barclay

For the first time since 2008 and the global recession, housing completions in Scotland have exceeded 20,000 per year. It has taken ten years to reach this point but, in reality, we need at least 25,000 homes to be built in Scotland every year to address demand. In the face of Brexit, a general election and lower economic growth than the rest of the UK, it is vital that we nurture Scotland’s home building industry to maintain an upwards trajectory.

I would say that, wouldn’t I, in my role representing organisations building the vast majority of the country’s homes. However, there is a lot more to home building than bricks and mortar. As well as putting roofs over our heads, it provides huge economic and social benefits.

Every new home supports at least four jobs (including apprentices and graduates) – so 80,000 on current figures. The industry contributes £370 million each year to government and local finances. As well as being more energy-efficient, new homes bring opportunities for local authorities, from additional council tax to increased footfall on our high streets and more children attending schools, so sustaining communities.

Developers work with local authorities to improve existing community infrastructure, create schools, provide outdoor spaces for communities and upgrade essential infrastructure.

Quality housing is crucial to people’s ­welfare – everyone should have access to a home that provides a safe, secure and long-term foundation to live a happy life, yet this is often not the case. While there are risks and uncertainty associated with the present political ­environment, the housing crisis does not go away – life goes on and people still need homes.

Shared constraints

It’s important to stress that this is not just about home ownership and the private sector. We represent a range of developers, including small businesses and housing associations, and the issues they face ultimately affect all customers, whether they hope to own or rent a new home. The industry faces multiple shared ­constraints, starting with planning. All housing providers need access to land in the right place and at the right price but access is hugely competitive and restricted. A wider allocation of land would ­provide more choice of location, style and price.

Other significant factors are ensuring that local authorities have resources to process planning applications in a timeous manner and tackling the skills shortage. Career opportunities in the sector are often overlooked, limiting the talent pipeline, but the range of careers is vast and includes great opportunities for all ­genders. It is crucial that the industry is recognised as an attractive and stable career option, providing routes for progression.

Momentum

With the need for more homes, comes the need for more companies to deliver them. Many housebuilders were lost in the recession, particularly smaller ones with ­fewer resources and limited routes to finance. Access to finance and onerous payment terms remain key challenges, and these firms have been slower to recover than larger players – despite the strong demand for quality homes.

Regardless of the size of home builder and political and economic uncertainty, we must maintain momentum to meet the need for more homes, avoiding a repeat of the decade since the recession which has resulted in an undersupply of 80,000 homes. It is important to consider that increasing supply to pre-recession levels of 25,000 homes per year would generate a further 38,000 jobs, £1 billion more in economic output and more than £50m in local infrastructure enhancements.

Delivering 20,000 new homes last year is a good accomplishment given the constraints that exist, but the reality is we need around 25,000 new homes each and every year to meet pent-up demand. I look forward to discussing how we can achieve this at our eighth annual conference in Edinburgh next week.

– Nicola Barclay, chief executive, Homes for Scotland.

Political Insider – Friday 1 November 2019

Political Insider – Friday 1 November 2019

In a story that has changed almost by the hour, this week’s political news was dominated by speculation, now confirmed, that MPs would vote (438 to 20) to hold a general election on Thursday 12 December.  This will be the UK’s third General Election in four years, a situation not seen since the dark days of the power cuts of 1974 and that year’s double election.

The dissolution of Parliament would be on Wednesday 6 November, assuming the Bill completes its passage through the House of Lords.  This date is based on 25 working days back from the election date, “with an exemption to cover the bank holiday in Scotland for St Andrew’s Day”. The Leader of the Commons (Jacob Rees-Mogg) declined to make any comment on the election of a Speaker – due to take place on Monday 4 November – and whether that would go ahead.

We don’t yet have specific guidance on purdah periods, which often impact on doing business with MSPs even although they are not facing election.  But they are generally six weeks ahead, so we may move directly into pre-election restrictions once the formalities are completed.  For your immediate reference, we’re providing a link to the 2017 document detailing the guidance to Scottish Government civil servants.  The Scottish Parliament did not sit on the last GE day – 8 June 2017 – and had a restricted agenda on Wednesday 7 June consisting solely of FMQs, General and Portfolio Questions.  Link:   https://www.gov.scot/publications/uk-general-election-2017/  

We can safely assume that new arrangements will be brought forward for the Scottish Budget (planned for Thursday 12 December).  The Chartered Institute of Taxation commented on the challenges of setting a Scottish budget when it became known that the UK Budget wasn’t going ahead in November.  Derek Mackay’s article in Monday’s Herald sets out the political challenge.

Meanwhile, Mr Mackay has written to businesses to urge them to prepare for the consequences of Brexit, and inform them of the support available from the Scottish Government. Writing ahead of a visit to the Scottish Enterprise (SE) Prepare for Brexit control hub in Clydebank by Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation Ivan McKee, Mr Mackay directed business owners towards the wide range of support being provided by the Scottish Government and its agencies. He restated the Scottish Government’s determination to create the right conditions for businesses to prosper, as set out in the Economic Action Plan launched last year.

The Prepare for Brexit control hub, which went live this week, comprises 160 SE staff who can be deployed to provide specific Brexit enquiry support to businesses and partners to help manage increased numbers of enquiries. Details: Brexit hub

The Scottish Greens have agreed not to stand candidates against 12 of the Scottish Conservatives’ 13 held Westminster seats, all but one gained from the SNP in 2017 and effectively giving the SNP a clear run to win them back.   The one exception is Stirling where SNP MEP Alyn Smith is hoping to overturn Tory Stephen Kerr’s wafer-thin majority of just 148 votes.  

And finally … Thanks to Scottish Conservative shadow Cabinet Secretary for Climate Change, Maurice Golden MSP, for hosting a high profile industry event, Fabric First, on behalf of client Scotframe in Edinburgh this week.  By chance, and careful planning by Perceptive of course, Scotframe is also welcoming another Scottish Government Minister (and local MSP) Joe Fitzpatrick to their Dundee training hub and showroom later this afternoon.

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    

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