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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 4 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 4 January 2019

Happy New Year!  Scottish Parliament business resumes again on Tuesday (8 January) but the Parliament itself will be the focus of attention at various times in the coming year as it marks its 20th anniversary.

There was a bit of a Christmas truce amongst politicians over the holiday period although the ghost of Brexit yet to come wasn’t far away. In time-honoured fashion, Scotland’s party leaders issued new year messages, as Brexit looks set to dominate politics at least for the early part 2019. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon sought to assure European Union migrants that they would always be welcome in Scotland whilst Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservatives interim leader, said there was “cause of optimism” as the UK begins its departure from the EU.

Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard called for renewed “ambition and hope” in politics, and Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Green’s co-convenor, said his party was ready to offer a “positive vision of a sustainable future and a fairer, more equal society.” And the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, said he wanted to push for unity in 2019, rather than “bitter division”.

Politics will pick up the pace significantly after this weekend and the team at Perceptive will be keeping a close eye on Holyrood’s Economy, Energy, and Fair Work Committee as it gears up to hold a major inquiry on the construction sector in Scotland. The remit of the inquiry is: To understand the characteristics and challenges of Scotland’s construction sector to ensure the sector realises its full potential in contributing to a productive and inclusive Scottish economy. Specific areas of focus will include: economic impact; access to finance; skills; procurement; infrastructure investment; and innovation.

The committee recognises that construction is a wide-ranging sector, where industry outputs vary from minor improvements to major capital projects across the realms of infrastructure, commercial, and residential. With many construction clients, is also an important sector to Perceptive; we would agree construction is an important driver of the wider economy, due to the impact that construction investment has on other sectors via housing provision, developing transport infrastructure, delivering infrastructure for health services, educational, and community activities across Scotland.

And finally … Just before Christmas, we said goodbye to a true giant of late 20th century British politics as Paddy Ashdown died suddenly after a short battle with cancer.  The former Lib Dem leader inspired a generation of young campaigners and had remained an active commentator on matters Brexit until shortly before his death.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Hat trick of new business wins for Perceptive Communicators

Hat trick of new business wins for Perceptive Communicators

Glasgow-based specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators has boosted its credentials in the health and life sciences sector with three new business wins.

Glasgow City of Science and Innovation, Precision Sequencing and Menicon have appointed Perceptive Communicators to deliver a range of focused communications campaigns within the health and life sciences industry.

Glasgow City of Science and Innovation appointed Perceptive to help raise the profile of its flagship festival VentureFest – a festival of discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship, and VentureJam which is the youth strand of the VentureFest programme. Precision Sequencing, a collaboration between Stratified Medicine Scotland – Innovation Centre, Glasgow Polyomics, the Centre for Virus Research (CVR) and Glasgow Precision Oncology Laboratory, secured the services of Perceptive to help raise awareness of the newly formed consortium which provides a range of services for genetic sequencing. Japanese contact lens manufacturer Menicon engaged with Perceptive to provide them with a robust communications strategy, research and social media training for the UK arm of their business.

Dr Susie Mitchell, Programme Director, Glasgow City of Science and Innovation said: “Having previously worked with Perceptive and seeing the results they achieve, I’m delighted to be working with their specialist team again to strengthen the profile of our flagship partnership projects to target audiences and amongst our key stakeholders.”

Dr Allison Jackson, Manager of Glasgow Polyomics and spokesperson for Precision Sequencing said: “We’re excited to be working with Perceptive Communicators. Their work on promoting Stratified Medicine Scotland – Innovation Centre has been excellent, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their expertise will help raise the profile of Precision Sequencing going forward”.

Julie McLauchlan, founder and Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators, said: “These latest wins are testament to our experience and expertise in the health and life sciences sector and we’re looking forward to working with each of these providers on a range of meaningful campaigns. These recent appointments also highlight how we are growing as a business as we continue to consistently punch above our weight.”

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 7 December 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 7 December 2018

The Scottish Parliament voted by 92 to 29 this week to formally reject the UK government’s draft Brexit deal. SNP, Labour, Green and Lib Dem members at Holyrood backed a motion rejecting the proposals, as well as the prospect of leaving without any deal. However, the parties have not come to a consensus on an alternative plan. The vote was held as MPs at Westminster continued to debate whether to accept the withdrawal plan agreed between UK and EU negotiators.

In a week that saw multiple Commons defeats for the UK Government, we heard that the UK should be able to unilaterally cancel its withdrawal from the EU, according to an advocate general of the European Court of Justice. A group of Scottish politicians including QC Joanna Cherry MP has asked the court whether the UK can call off Brexit without the consent of other member states. The Court of Justice (ECJ) will deliver its final ruling at a later date.

The advice from advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona comes as the House of Commons begins five days of debates on Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed Brexit deal, with a vote due to be held next Tuesday. In a written statement, the ECJ said Mr Campos Sanchez-Bordona’s opinion was that if a country decided to leave the EU, it should also have the power to change its mind during the two-year exit process specified in Article 50 of the EU treaty.

New fire safety measures for high rise buildings in Scotland are to be introduced next year in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy. A review was ordered in the wake of the London blaze, which killed 72 people. The changes will include measures to improve evacuation from high rises and making sprinkler systems mandatory in all new-build flats. Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP said this would add to “stringent safety regulations” already in place. The changes will be brought forward via legislation in 2019, with ministers planning amendments to a members’ bill from Labour’s David Stewart.

Still on housing matters and the Scottish Government has published the results from the latest housing conditions survey. It includes statistics on fuel poverty, energy efficiency, the condition of housing and other descriptors of occupied housing stock. The results show overall fuel poverty remains at similar levels to 2016 findings, but changes are evident in subgroups including local authority housing, households using gas as the primary heating fuel and households primarily using oil.

Glasgow South West MP Chris Stephens visited Perceptive client, Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, seeing first-hand the ground breaking work on precision medicine which tailors medicine to patients’ individual genetic profiles.

Charity Action for Children this week claimed one million children under the age of 10 in Scotland and England are facing “Dickensian” levels of poverty as they prepare for Christmas.   The charity will be running unofficial food banks over the Christmas period for families it says lack fresh food, suitable clothes and, in some cases, money to pay for heating. Action for Children is calling for the chancellor to end the freeze on children’s benefits so that rising prices do not push more families into poverty.

And finally, rather than sending Christmas cards, this year we will be making a donation to one of the seven charities which Perceptive has assisted with pro-bono communications support. The charity will be chosen by Perceptive clients and employees. You can cast your vote by completing this survey  which takes less than a minute. We will share the winning charity next week.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 30 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 30 November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider Friday – 16 November 2018

Scottish Political Insider Friday – 16 November 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 26 October 2018

The Scottish Parliament resumed business this Tuesday and Brexit was immediately on top of the agenda.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit is becoming the “most likely outcome” of the UK’s negotiations with EU leaders. Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood committee conveners that she was “increasingly concerned” that no deal will be struck, and she said the situation is “the biggest failure of government policy and handling” seen in her lifetime. Talks over the UK’s exit from the EU have run into a deadlock over the issue of the border in Northern Ireland.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford tried to regain some momentum as he met with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday. He joined UK Lib Dem Leader Sir Vince Cable MP, the Westminster Leader of Plaid Cymru and a Green Party MEP to meet Michel Barnier in Brussels. Mr Blackford said: “While the UK government clearly still has no plan to break the Brexit impasse, and Labour fail to act as an effective opposition, it has been left to the ‘unofficial opposition’ to speak up for a deal that would protect jobs and livelihoods. I am grateful to Mr Barnier for meeting with us. Any Brexit deal that falls short of staying in the single market and the customs union will not get through Parliament.”

Scotland’s Chief Economist, Gary Gillespie, has published his annual ‘State of the Economy’ report this week. It suggests that Scotland’s economy has continued to strengthen in the first half of 2018 with annual GDP growth the strongest since 2014 and above the UK as a whole. The link to the 16-page document is here: https://www.gov.scot/Resource/0054/00542252.pdf

Linked to the above report, an £18 million fund to help businesses benefit from developments in manufacturing is among the key actions announced in a new plan to help boost economic growth. As part of a response to the business-led Enterprise and Skills Strategic Board, the Economic Action Plan sets out a number of new and existing actions that will work together to build a strong, vibrant and diverse economy that promotes well-being and attracts investment. Details: economic action plan

Back at Holyrood, and a debate on welfare issues turned bitter and personal, resulting in the SNP calling for South of Scotland Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne to resign as welfare spokesperson after her comments on the two child cap. The SNP called this “her own personal hypocrisy, exposed her as unfit” to be the spokesperson for Social Security in Scotland. Ms Ballantyne has been widely condemned by all the parties for arguing the two-child cap is fair as “people on benefits cannot have as many children as they like”.

Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, is to visit Scotland to speak at a special dinner in Edinburgh. The girls’ education activist will speak at the Social Bite event to thank those taking part in this year’s Sleep in the Park event in December.

And finally…. Following Julie’s win at the Scottish Business Woman of the Year Awards, Gil Paterson MSP submitted this motion to Parliament:

Motion S5M-14232: Gil Paterson, Clydebank and Milngavie, Scottish National Party

That the Parliament congratulates Bearsden resident, Julie McLauchlan, on winning the prestigious Scottish Business Woman of the Year Award for her company Perceptive Communicators, which launched in 2006.

Supported by: Sandra White, Bill Kidd, Richard Lyle

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 19 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 19 October 2018

The Scottish Parliament has been in recess again this week but Chamber business resumes on Tuesday with a debate on the NHS in Scotland.  The autumn session is traditionally one of the busiest with budget deliberations and the Scottish Budget statement itself in early December.

Brexit twists and turns remain as lively as ever this week and Scottish Secretary David Mundell has denied that he ever threatened to resign over Brexit. It had been reported that both he and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson told the Prime Minister that they could not support any different arrangements for Northern Ireland, saying this would “undermine the integrity” of the UK.

Mr Mundell’s week didn’t get any less tricky by the time it came to monthly Scottish Questions in the Commons. It was a lively session which culminated in SNP MPs calling for him to resign for what they claim is “failing to lift a finger” to prevent an all-out power grab on the Scottish Parliament. They argue that David Mundell refused to give any assurance to MPs that the UK government would not use Section 12 orders to impose UK-wide frameworks on Scotland in devolved areas against the consent of the Scottish Parliament. In a series of questions from SNP MPs, Mr Mundell disclosed that the UK government has so far only agreed common frameworks with the Scottish Government in just FOUR of the twenty-four devolved areas where it has threatened to take control from Holyrood.

There was some good economic news on Tuesday when we heard that the number of people out of work and looking for a job in Scotland had fallen by 14,000, official figures show. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for June to August put Scotland’s jobless total at 106,000 – down from 120,000 in March to May. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9% from 4.3% during the same period. The number of Scots aged 16 to 64 in employment was 2,551,000 (74.9%) – down from 2,570,000 on the previous quarter.

Still on the economy and opportunities to invest in nine projects worth more than £2 billion to Scotland’s economy have been announced by Economy Secretary Derek Mackay. The refreshed Invest in Scotland prospectus is seeking to secure international investment in a mixture of public and private sector projects across Scotland.  Projects highlighted include the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Renfrewshire, Edinburgh Bioquarter, Dundee Waterfront and Glasgow’s Buchanan Wharf – the location of the new Barclay’s campus which will create up to 2500 jobs.  Details: Investment

On the local political scene, there was an interesting story over in the capital as a citywide consultation on plans to introduce a “tourist tax” began. The City of Edinburgh Council has suggested that the levy could raise £11m a year, to be spent on growing tourism and managing its impact. It proposes charging either 2% or £2 per room, per night, on all forms of accommodation – and now it wants to hear the views of the tourism sector, businesses, investors, visitors and residents in the capital. The tax – or “transient visitor levy” (TVL) – would be charged all year round and, if approved, is likely to be repeated elsewhere in Scotland.

And finally… A footnote from Welsh politics.  Councillor Jane Dodds, who has been leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats for less than a year, will become the longest serving leader of a Welsh party when Carwyn Jones stands down as First Minister in early 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 Lesley Ferguson on 07762 769 659 or lesley.ferguson@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Hat trick of appointments for Perceptive Communicators

Hat trick of appointments for Perceptive Communicators

Specialist communications consultancy, Perceptive Communicators, has made three appointments to its highly successful team and at the same time announces two significant award wins.

The Glasgow based company – which operates across the UK – has invested in its growth with the appointment of two PR practitioners and an accountant, in key roles to drive continued business growth and support a number of new client wins in its specialist sectors of construction, technology and life sciences.

Perceptive Communicators recently picked up ‘Property Team of the Year’ at the Herald Property Awards and Managing Director Julie was awarded ‘Business Women of the Year’ (under 50 employees) at the Scottish Women’s Awards last month, highlighting the strength of the business.

Joining the team as PR & Social Media Manager is Matthew Williams with 11 years’ communications and marketing experience in various sectors, including three years with the Organising Committee for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Aelred Nicholas, a communications expert with over 13 years’ experience across the public and private sector. Kate McMahon is an accountant with 25 years’ experience within chartered accountancy practices, and will complement the team as she takes up the role of Finance & Administration Manager.

Julie McLachlan, Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators said: “Perceptive is continuing to grow and this success is testament to our team of experts and our specialist knowledge in our key sectors of construction, life sciences and technology.”

“The addition of three new people to our already strong team will help support business growth. Matt, Aelred and Kate have a wealth of experience and having them on board to boost and strengthen our team even further will only lead to continued success for both ourselves and our clients.”

“Our recent award wins of ‘‘Property Team of the Year’ and ‘Business Women of the Year’ are the icing on the cake, as we continue to punch above our weight and go from strength to strength.”

Matthew Williams said: “I’m thrilled to be a part of the award-winning Perceptive team and my first six-months with the agency has allowed me to witness first-hand the great work we do with all of our clients, it really feels like we are an extension of our clients team in everything we do. The vast experience across the team is a real strong point, and I’m learning so much already from my colleagues, it’s been a fantastic start and the recent ‘Property Team of the Year’ award goes to show that our work doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Aelred Nicholas said: “I’m delighted to be part of such a great team and feel inspired by what the business has achieved. I’m enjoying working with a range of different clients and contributing to their business growth. Having such a supportive team of colleagues is an added bonus.

Kate McMahon said: “It’s a privilege to be part of such a dynamic team. Their commitment, passion and experience is very inspiring. I’m excited about taking on new challenges and helping in building the business further”

Due to increased business growth the company is currently recruiting for another PR & Social Media Manager to join the team. To find out more please contact info@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 12 October 2018

The Scottish Parliament has been in recess this week, although the building itself has been a hive of activity since Wednesday as the annual Festival of Politics got under way.  Our own political guru Devin Scobie was there at the opening evening event and was one of three people chosen by Presiding Officer Ken Mackintosh to question Tory grandee (Lord) Michael Heseltine.

The SNP concluded their main annual conference earlier in the week and Nicola Sturgeon has called for “pragmatism and patience” from independence supporters in her SNP conference speech. In her keynote address to the faithful, the First Minister said she was “more confident than ever” that Scotland would become independent. She added that members must “wait for the fog of Brexit to clear” and work to win over people who voted No in 2014. She used her speech to hit out at “unfolding calamity” and “despair” at Westminster, contrasting this by painting an independent Scotland as “a beacon of progressive values”.

Down in Cardiff and newly elected leader of Plaid Cymru, Adam Price AM, announced that the former SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson has been appointed to undertake a ‘root and branch’ review of the party’s organisation and operations.  Mr Robertson was formerly one of Scotland’s highest profile politicians during his time as MP for Moray. He lost his seat to the Conservatives in last June’s snap election.

Even in recess, Brexit is never far away.  We learned this week that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will consider next month whether Brexit can be halted if MPs vote to do so. The case, which has been brought by a group of anti-Brexit politicians and campaigners, was referred to judges in Luxembourg by the Court of Session in Edinburgh. The ECJ confirmed that it had been granted “fast-track” status due to the “urgency of the issue”.

Still on Brexit and it seems that people in Scotland are overwhelmingly behind a proposal to extend negotiations with the EU if necessary to avoid a No Deal Brexit, a new poll has found. The Survation poll found that 60% of Scottish voters supported an extension, while only 27% opposed. The polls suggests that voters of all parties are backing the position. The poll also found that only 27% of the public believe the UK government have given “an appropriate amount of consideration” to the views of people in Scotland, with 62% believing they have not.

On economic matters, and Scotland’s private sector has reported its weakest rate of expansion for five months, according to Royal Bank of Scotland’s latest PMI. It suggested there was “solid” growth among service providers in September, but manufacturers reported a slight drop in production levels during the month. Respondents to the survey of purchasing managers attributed the easing of growth to a weaker rise in new business. The latest sector data also suggested that growth at the UK level was stronger than that in Scotland for the first time since June.

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 Lesley Ferguson on 07762769659 or lesley.ferguson@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk    

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 October 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 5 October 2018

The UK party conference season concluded this week as the Brexit-weary conservatives rolled out of Birmingham. Scottish leader Ruth Davidson MSP is due to go off shortly on maternity leave but made a typically barn-storming speech to the faithful. She has called for a “period of silence” among her Conservative colleagues to allow the Prime Minister to get a Brexit deal “over the line”, saying the two years following the EU referendum had provided enough time for debate. Her comments follow Boris Johnson’s description of the Chequers plan as “deranged and entirely preposterous”.

Theresa May used her keynote speech at the party conference to focus on her hopes for a brighter future for the UK after Brexit. Take out lines from the Prime Minister’s speech included that she “passionately believes that our best days lie ahead of us” and “that our future is full of promise.” In a speech entitled “Our Future Is In Our Hands”, Mrs May told delegates that countries across the world stand ready to trade with the UK.

And staying on the small matter of Brexit, another key date landmark was passed this week, rather like the train speeding up towards an unfinished bridge in the closing sequences of Back to the Future III.  We are now inside six months until we legally leave the EU (29 March 2019) and the Scottish Government is arguing that the only ‘credible plan’ to minimise the damage of Brexit is their proposal to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union. Constitutional Relations Secretary Michael Russell has reminded businesses this week that it is also almost two years since the Scottish Government published evidence-based proposals to mitigate the shock of Brexit on Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Before we get to March next year, a few weary political and media hacks will be watching the Court of Session around 15 January. That is when Alex Salmond’s legal challenge against the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual misconduct complaints against him will formally be heard.  Civil servants investigated two allegations of sexual harassment against the former First Minister, which he strenuously denies. Watch this space for a lively four day hearing …

We are also hearing rumours that Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard is considering an imminent shadow cabinet reshuffle. Several MSPs are unhappy at the party’s decision to cease funding of former leader Kezia Dugdale’s legal defence against a case brought by Nationalist blogger Wings over Scotland

Following on from Perceptive MD’s Julie McLauchlan’s Scottish Business Woman of the Year award last month, Gil Paterson, MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie wishes to submit a motion of congratulations to the Parliament at Holyrood recognising Julie’s work and her award win. This follows on from the Perceptive team being recognised for our integrated public affairs, PR and social media work last week, winning Property Team of the Year at The Herald Property Awards

And finally… What skills do you look for in a prime minister? Is it being a good communicator? Having business acumen? A connection with real people? Or is it how they boogie on down to disco classics? On Wednesday, Theresa May seemed to focus on the latter, making her entrance for her big conference speech to Abba’s Dancing Queen. We’ll let you decide if it was a good move or not…

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 Lesley Ferguson on 07762 769 659 or lesley.ferguson@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 28 September

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 28 September

Party conference season continued this week and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard MSP “fully intends” to be Scotland’s next First Minister, he has told the party’s UK gathering in Liverpool. He said a Labour government at Holyrood would introduce new policies to “break down wealth and power”.

Speaking at his first national Labour conference as leader, he said a Scottish Labour government would introduce a Land Reform Act and called for business support to be targeted at Scottish-owned businesses. Analysis by the party showed the bulk of Regional Selective Assistance grants went mainly to foreign-owned companies. Richard Leonard also attacked the SNP for “dividing people on the basis on nationality” and the Conservatives for their “fervent devotion to inequality”. The SNP has responded by claiming that half of the households hit by Labour’s proposed windfall tax on the wealthiest 10% would be pensioners.

Next week it’s the Tory conference and that promises to be anything but calm as the ghost of the battered Brexit battlebus rattles towards the last six months before we formally leave the EU without a plan in sight.  Second referendum anyone?

Brexit has impacted the timing of Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s next Budget and he Scottish Conservatives are calling on the Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to bring his own budget forward to mid-November to allow more time for parliamentary scrutiny. Phillip Hammond announced that the UK budget will be on Monday 29 October. This means if the same three-week period between Scottish and UK budgets was used as in previous years, then the SNP should bring their budget to Holyrood on the 20 of November. This would allow more time for the budget to be debated and scrutinised, unlike last year when Holyrood went into recess shortly after the SNP’s spending plans were revealed.

Closer to home and new figures suggest that the Scottish Government is on track to meet its ambitious affordable housing target, new statistics show. The figures show an increase of 745 homes (4%) across all sectors, from 18,683 in 2016-17 to 19,428 in 2017-18. This is the fifth consecutive increase and the highest annual figure since 2008-09. They also show that affordable housing approvals total 11,926 homes, up 12% (1,252 homes) on the previous year.

Still at Holyrood and Scottish Conservative MSP, Miles Briggs, has been cleared after a party investigation into a complaint of sexual harassment. A female worker from another party claimed Miles Briggs made persistent unwanted advances on her at a social event at Holyrood in February. However, Mr Briggs said he had been cleared after a meeting of the Scottish Conservatives’ disciplinary committee. The MSP said the allegations were “completely false” and had made his life a “living hell” during the probe. The complaint was first raised with party leader Ruth Davidson, before entering the party’s formal complaints process in July.

Finally, we were delighted to be recognised for our integrated public affairs, PR and social media work last night, winning Property Team of the Year at The Herald Property Awards.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 21 September 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 21 September 2018

MSPs were in a terse mood this week over the issue of compulsory testing for primary one school pupils.  It culminated in a rare defeat for the Scottish Government in a vote calling on ministers to “halt” national assessments for five-year-old pupils. The assessments were introduced across Scotland last year, but some teachers and parents have criticised them. Ministers insist they are not high-stakes tests, but help schools assess where pupils need help at an early age. Opposition parties say they are not in line with play-based early learning and could create league tables of schools.

Members voted by 63 to 61 to pass a Conservative motion calling for a “halt” to the tests, with all of the opposition parties uniting against the SNP. The largely symbolic motion does not bind the government to any action, but Education Secretary John Swinney said he would “reflect” on the defeat.

There was some good economic news this week as we learnt that the Scottish economy grew at a slightly faster rate than the UK as a whole during the spring months, according to newly published official figures. An initial estimate by Scotland’s chief statistician showed onshore GDP grew by 0.5% in real terms between April and June. The UK economy grew by just 0.4% over the same period. Over the first half of 2018, Scotland’s economy grew by 0.8% – compared with the UK figure of 0.6%.  Between April and June, output in the Scottish construction sector grew by 1.8%, production by 0.6% and the services sector by 0.4%, while agriculture fell by 1.2%.

More Scots are favouring apprenticeships over higher education, a new survey has suggested. The Bank of Scotland found that the proportion of people who thought on-the-job training or an apprenticeship offered the best career prospects rose from 29% to 32% last year. Meanwhile, 33% said they believed university remained the best option for their prospects, despite the costs; this was down from two in five (38%) in the previous year.

Westminster is in recess again, whilst the UK party conferences meet, but the UK Government has issued an updated list of Parliamentary Private Secretaries.  Traditionally this most junior rank on the government hierarchy can lead to ministerial office. Interestingly, a quarter of the new Scottish Tory MPs elected last June (all gains from the SNP) are now on the first rung and are thereby names to watch. They are:

  • Luke Graham MP, serving the Ministerial team at the Cabinet Office
  • Andrew Bowie MP, serving the Ministerial team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
  • Paul Masterton MP, serving the Ministerial team at the Home Office
  • Alister Jack MP, supporting the Leader of the House of Lords

Still on Westminster and the police have said this week that they have dropped their inquiry into Liberal Democrat deputy leader Jo Swinson’s general election expenses after being “unable to establish criminality”. The East Dunbartonshire MP was reported to Police Scotland last year. The allegations centred on leaflets that the Lib Dems said were not delivered, so should not count towards election spending limits. The party said Ms Swinson had been the victim of “SNP smears”.

And finally, Perceptive client Brewster Brothers welcomed local MSP and former Cabinet Secretary Angela Constance to their Open Day yesterday.  The company operates a brand new state of the art aggregates recycling plant near Livingston – see photos at our Twitter account @perceptivecomms. It has the capacity to recycle 400,000 tonnes of construction, demolition and excavation waste per year, much of which would otherwise be lost to landfill.

If you or your organisation would benefit from our political insight and specialist knowledge and contacts at all political levels, please get in touch with Julie McLauchlan on 07734 932578 or julie.mclauchlan@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk

Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators scoops top award

Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators scoops top award

Specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators is celebrating following an evening of success at last night’s Scottish Women’s Awards 2018 where Managing Director, Julie McLauchlan scooped the award for Business Woman of the Year (under 50 employees).

Established in 2006, Perceptive is a multi-award winning full service communications consultancy specialising in construction, technology and healthcare, with clients including Kier Construction, Mactaggart & Mickel, Bayes Centre, Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre, and Clyde Gateway. The award win comes after an announcement of sustained business growth for the Glasgow based agency.

Julie was delighted to receive the award, saying: “I was really honoured to be shortlisted amongst Scotland’s top 10 business women and is a great tribute to my fantastic great team.  When we launched 12 years ago we broke the mould by employing exclusively experienced staff who had all been clients themselves to deliver better results. We focused on just a few sectors to have deeper insight and encouraged flexible working to create a more engaged team.  I was told several times this approach would never work, so winning this award proves not being afraid to rock the boat and listening to your instincts ­­­­can lead to success!­”

The Scottish Women’s Awards exist to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of women entrepreneurs, business women, professionals, civil servants, women in uniform, charity workers and many more that make Scotland a greater place to live in.  The black-tie event was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow.

Perceptive boosts health business with hat trick of new wins

Perceptive boosts health business with hat trick of new wins

Glasgow-based specialist communications consultancy Perceptive Communicators has boosted its health sector credentials with three new business wins.

Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre (SMS-IC), Screening Inequalities and Silverline Care have appointed Perceptive Communicators to deliver health-focused communications campaigns.

SMS-IC has appointed Perceptive to help it raise the profile of its work on precision medicine in Scotland while Screening Inequalities (an alliance of various health organisations led by Clyde Gateway) have engaged the communications agency to deliver a targeted campaign aiming to increase participation in bowel, breast and cervical cancer screening.  Perceptive won the Silverline Care retainer after a competitive pitch against several other agencies.

Diane Harbison, Chief Executive of Stratified Medicine Scotland Innovation Centre, said: “Perceptive really impressed us with its in-depth response to and understanding of our brief. We’re excited about this partnership which will ultimately help strengthen Scotland’s reputation for precision medicine by highlighting the world-leading data-sets, expertise and infrastructure we already have in place.”

Niki Spence, Senior Manager at Clyde Gateway which is leading the Screening Inequalities alliance, said: “Perceptive presented options and ideas we’d not even considered before, and won the contract with its comprehensive and integrated approach. We are confident we’ve selected the ideal partner to help us highlight and rectify the important issue which health screening inequalities presents for numerous communities in Scotland.”

Julie McLauchlan, founder and Managing Director of Perceptive Communicators, said: “These latest wins reinforce our expertise and contacts in the health sector and we’re looking forward to working with such outstanding providers on a range of very interesting and meaningful campaigns.”

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