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Political Insider – Friday 20 December 2019

Political Insider – Friday 20 December 2019

This will be our last Insider of 2019 so may we start by thanking all clients, friends, readers all the very best for the Festive Season.  It’s been quite a year politically but just maybe 2020 and the start of a new decade might be the first election-free year in living memory.  What will us political gurus do with ourselves?

On Tuesday and Wednesday, MPs were sworn in in record time and on Thursday the Queen set out the new majority Conservative Government’s agenda for the year ahead, following last week’s decisive election win. Legislation to take the UK out of the EU on 31 January 2020 was among more than 30 bills being announced during the year’s second State Opening of Parliament. Other measures included guarantees on extra health service funding and longer sentences for violent criminals. PM Boris Johnson says he wants to keep the UK united and “level up” opportunity.

Brexit is back on the agenda, of course, and the new Government is to add a new clause to the Brexit bill to rule out any extension to the transition period beyond the end of next year. As things stand, the post-Brexit transition period – due to conclude in December 2020 – can currently be extended by mutual agreement for up to two years.

This week, Scotland’s First Minister called on the UK Government to negotiate a transfer of powers to Holyrood to allow another referendum on independence. Nicola Sturgeon said there was an “unarguable” mandate for a new vote after her SNP won 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in last week’s general election.

Economic news continues to emerge and this week the Institute for Government has published reports on Brexit negotiations and a second independence referendum. In the report on Brexit, the Institute for Government recommends that the UK Government ensure it has a clear view on the structure of negotiations, bring the UK Parliament and public “on side” and makes better use of diplomatic channels. It also draws attention to the political declaration from the UK regarding a future relationship, as it is not binding and will be revisited.

On independence, the Institute suggests that a second independence referendum could be more likely as a result of the general election. It suggests that the devolution of additional powers to Holyrood, new protections to prevent Westminster from legislating in Scotland and the right for Scotland to enter post-Brexit common framework negotiations could improve the case for the Union.

Ian Blackford has been unanimously re-elected as SNP Westminster leader for the new Parliament at yesterday’s AGM – following last week’s general election, which saw the SNP win 80% of Scottish seats. The SNP MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, who increased his own majority at the general election to over 9,443 and nearly 50% of the vote, said the SNP was now “the only strong, united and focused opposition to Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory government and devastating Brexit plans” with Labour consumed by bitter infighting and division.  The SNP remains the UK’s second largest opposition party and as such will get

And 2020?  In our traditional look forward, we will say with some degree of certainty that there will be no national elections next year.  The next scheduled General Election is now unlikely before 2024 thanks to the Fixed Term Parliament Act. We will leave the EU in six weeks although the transition year will mean little real difference in terms of travel and most trading relationships.  Britain’s 79 MEPs will lose their seats, however, as soon as we leave the EU.   We will see former First Minister Alex Salmond in court in March. We will be watching with interest if any other political careers are affected.

We will start to see a raft of resignations as MSPs’ hands are forced to declare whether they will be standing again in May 2021.  Holyrood veterans like John Finnie (Green) and Richard Lyle (SNP) have already said they are stepping down.

All five main parties will be finalising their 2021 manifestos – so the perfect time to be lobbying on key issues and, in fact, we have already started that process with several clients.

So, another busy year lies ahead, albeit much more behind the scenes for a change,

And finally … we had the pleasure of attending SPIFOX’s 2019 Carol Concert and lunch on Wednesday this week. Attended by 1,600 property professionals, it was great to see so many of our clients in attendance and catch up with you all. Over £250,000 was raised on the day, taking the money raised in total over the years to a staggering £5m+ for children’s charities in Scotland.

Everyone here at Perceptive wishes all our clients a very Merry Christmas, thank you for all your support this year and we are looking forward to doing it all again in 2020!

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 

Political Insider – SCOTLAND SPECIAL – Monday 16 December 2019

Political Insider – SCOTLAND SPECIAL – Monday 16 December 2019

Over the past few weeks, our political guru Devin Scobie, has been following the polls, pounding the streets and attended the Edinburgh count (for the city’s five seats) till 5.30am on Friday morning, trying to make sense of one of the most uncertain and unwanted General Elections in British history. Most of his predictions in Thursday’s election special came true – apart from the shock loss of UK Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire.

But the 2019 General Election is finally over and all the votes counted. Boris Johnson will be remaining in Downing Street for five more years with the biggest Tory majority since 1987 – almost entirely at the expense of former Labour seats in England. Many of these, in the northern heartlands and former mining communities, have never had a Tory MP in living memory.  Perceptive has advised individual clients already where MPs have changed, and we’ve already spoken to two victororious MPs and one losing MP who were key to different clients.

In Scotland, out of 59 seats, a total of 14 changed party, 13 to the SNP who won 48 in a landslide result and one to the Lib Dems.  All but one SNP MP held their seats and several former 2015-17 MPs were returned including Kirsten Oswald in East Renfrewshire (beating Tory Paul Masterton), Owen Thompson in Midlothian (beating Labour’s Danielle Rowley) and Anne McLaughlin in Glasgow North East (beating Labour’s Paul Sweeney). Former Holyrood Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill regained East Lothian for the SNP.

Seven Conservative seats reverted to the SNP who had lost them all in 2017. Tory survivors included Douglas Ross in Moray and current and former Scottish Secretaries Alister Jack and David Mundell, and ex MSP John Lamont in the Borders. Casualties included the sole female Tory MP, Kirstene Hair in Angus, Luke Graham in Ochil and North Perthshire, and junior Minister Colin Clark, who beat Alex Salmond in 2017.

The Lib Dems retained three of their four seats including Christine Jardine, with an increased majority in Edinburgh West, former MSP Jamie Stone in Caithness and gained North East Fife with former police officer Wendy Chamberlain elected as the new MP, unseating the SNP’s Stephen Gethins. The big shock, however, was the loss of Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire to a relative SNP novice, Amy Callaghan by just 149 votes.  UK Deputy Leader and current Party President Baroness Sal Brinton have assumed acting leadership with immediate effect.

In addition, all but one Labour seat (Edinburgh South, held by Ian Murray) returned to the SNP.  Shadow Scottish Secretary and Deputy Scottish Leader, Lesley Laird lost her Kirkcaldy seat to an SNP candidate that had been ostracised by the national party due to alleged anti-Semitic comments on social media.

A full listing of all UK seats including majorities and details of the new or returning MPs is available here: In addition, Perceptive is preparing short biogs of all Scotland’s new MPs and these are available on request.

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    

Political Insider – ELECTION DAY SPECIAL – Thursday 12 December 2019

Political Insider – ELECTION DAY SPECIAL – Thursday 12 December 2019

Facing the sixth election in eight years, our political expert Devin Scobie could have made his fortune charging five pounds for every time he’s been asked ‘what do you think is going to happen.’ On Monday we’ll issue an Insider Special with details of all Scotland’s new MPs, key seat changes and any particular surprises – although shockers like the loss of Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson in 2017 are unlikely to be topped in 2019.

So with all the caveats that come with political predictions, here’s what we think will happen in Scotland.  We start with 59 seats, all technically vacant until the votes are counted, but they are being defended by 35 SNP MPs (all of whom are standing again), 13 Conservatives (11 of whom are standing again), seven Labour (all re-standing) and four Lib Dems (who are also standing again).

The SNP will hold all but one of their 35 seats; a unionist squeeze will help convert the paper-thin majority of two in Ming Campbell’s old patch of North East Fife into a Lib Dem gain for former police officer and Diageo policy officer Wendy Chamberlain.  Interestingly only about half of the SNP MPs who served between 2015 and 2017 are standing again.

The Conservatives will lose most of their 13 seats to the SNP including the two being defended by new candidates (Ayr, Cumnock etc and Aberdeen South, abandoned at the 11th hour by the colourful ex MSP Ross Thomson). I suspect Angus, with Scotland’s only female MP (Kirstene Hair), Ochil and North Perthshire, Gordon and Banff and Buchan are also at risk.  David Mundell and rising star Andrew Bowie should survive and seats like East Renfrewshire, Moray and Dumfries and Galloway will go down to the wire.

Labour will lose most of their seven seats with Kirkcaldy (Gordon Brown’s old seat), Paul Sweeney in Glasgow North and Danielle Rowley in Midlothian are most at risk. Ian Murray will survive comfortably in Edinburgh South. There is a chance local factors could see a Labour gain from the SNP in one of the Glasgow seats. But don’t gamble your house on it.

The Lib Dems will hold their four, three of which were won back in 2017, and gain one although ex MSP Jamie Stone is facing a tough fight against the SNP up in Caithness.  UK leader Jo Swinson is safe in East Dunbartonshire.

The Greens have never done well at Westminster elections and will struggle to hold their deposit (5% of the vote) in the 20 or so seats they are standing in.  There could be a wild card result in Kirkcaldy where the SNP have disowned their candidate due to alleged anti-Semitic comments on Twitter and various pro-independence groups have backed the Green candidate.

P.S. Polls are open till 10pm – remember to vote!

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    

Political Insider – Friday 6 December 2019

Political Insider – Friday 6 December 2019

Less than a week to go until voters go to the polls for the third UK general election in just over four years. Yesterday we heard even more promises from Boris Johnson as he aims to pass his Brexit deal and bring a Budget within 100 days if he is (re) elected as PM. The Tory leader says it would include his pledge to raise the National Insurance threshold to £9,500, along with cash for schools and the NHS.

Chancellor Sajid Javid said he did not have a “single doubt” a Conservative government could then agree a trade deal with the EU by the end of 2020. But Labour said the Tories only offer “more of the same failure”. The Lib Dems called the Conservative plans “pure fantasy”, while the SNP warned there were seven days left to “lock” Mr Johnson out of Downing Street.

Introducing the SNP’s general election pledges in an independent Scotland could lead to more austerity, according to an economic research group this week. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the SNP’s manifesto set out plans to increase spending while also setting out a list of tax-cutting measures. It said the SNP had not costed these pledges, unlike the other main parties. But it said spending cuts would have to be made elsewhere, or other taxes would have to rise to pay for them.

SNP victories at the general election will bring the “threat of a fresh Scottish independence referendum”, Jo Swinson warned on Thursday night. She claimed the SNP will announce an independence referendum “within days” of the election if they win the most seats in Scotland. The Lib Dem leader called on voters to back her party to avoid indyref2. Ms Swinson was speaking at an Edinburgh rally last night.

Also, this week, the Scottish Government launched a consultation on the draft vision and principles for Housing to 2040 outlined in the 2019-20 Programme for Government. A series of engagement events will coincide with the consultation including a housing exhibition, Present Voices, Future Liveswhich has begun touring 12 locations across Scotland. Respondents are encouraged to offer proposals which could increase the affordability, accessibility and energy efficiency of existing and new housing. The consultation will close Friday 28 February.

On Tuesday this week, we held our Perceptive Directors’ Club at our client’s BDP’s impressive offices in Royal Exchange Square. We were privileged to have a talk from Ann Allen, Director of Estates and Commercial Services at the University of Glasgow. Our guests got to hear about all the exciting plans as part of the campus development and it was fantastic to hear how the University of Glasgow’s Estate is evolving under Ann’s leadership.

We were delighted to announce news of the future Edinburgh International Arena on Tuesday for our client Lothian Leisure Development (LLD). LLD, in partnership with Birmingham based NEC Group will deliver a new privately funded 8,000 capacity indoor arena for Scotland’s capital.  A site for the arena has been secured at Straiton just outside Edinburgh, with plans to transform the 30-acre site into a vibrant mixed-use leisure and entertainment destination. 

And finally … Congratulations to Perceptive client, Brewster Bros who achieved double success at The Herald Family Business Awards 2019 on Wednesday night. Brewster Bros scooped the Business Innovation Award as the recycling plant in Livingston continues to play a huge part in meeting Scotland’s ambition to be a world leader on tackling climate change. Malcolm Livingstone also joined father and son owners, Alex and Scott Brewster on the winners’ rostrum as he picked up the first ever Scottish Family Business Recognition Award for his 35 years’ loyal service to the family business.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

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