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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Account Director

Account Director

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

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

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

Key responsibilities

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

Living Perceptive values

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

Essential skills

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

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

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

Why join us?

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

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

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

A must visit for anyone interested in the construction industry is Scotland Build 2019 which starts next week (20 – 21 March at the SEC Glasgow). Now in its fourth year, the conference is Scotland’s leading and largest construction show dedicated entirely to opportunities in building, construction, architecture and design across Scotland. Three members of Perceptive’s team will be leading workshops on political influence, LinkedIn and crisis communications at the Skills Hub on the Wednesday – tickets are free and there’s still time to register to come along: https://oliverkinross.circdata-solutions.co.uk/RFG/publish/SBUILD19/

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    

Digital & Social Media Manager

Digital & Social Media Manager

Permanent, full time Digital & Social Media Manager

Do you thrive on driving results online? Are you on top of the latest social media trends?

We’re looking for an enthusiastic, motivated and experienced digital and social media manager to join our growing and multi-award winning team.

This role would ideally suit someone with digital and social media expertise, skills and experience. Our ideal person would also have experience of and a desire to be actively involved in driving client results through effective digital and social media campaigns.  An ability to deliver results in a fast paced environment with a can-do attitude is key.

Our shared values are focusing on results, being straightforward, trustworthy, caring for clients and colleagues with a great energy and attention to detail.

The role
As a Digital & Social Media Manager you will be responsible for the delivery of several client campaigns from the development of the digital and social media strategy to implementation for our clients in construction, health, biotechnology and technology.  Your activities will include:

  • Working with the Perceptive team to develop and implement successful communications strategies for our clients that deliver results
  • Developing and implementing organic and paid for multi-channel campaigns that have delivered proven results including across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram
  • Developing and executing a full digital marketing strategy and developing, implementing, tracking and optimizing SEO focused digital marketing campaigns across all digital channels
  • Identifying, generating and delivering compelling content & materials to engage target audiences and drive desired results
  • Tracking current news, trends and memes  to identify content source streams
  • Creating and designing images/graphics and video content for marketing campaigns
  • Planning, scheduling and overseeing social media activity to drive desired results
  • Connecting with social media influencers to build productive relationships
  • Coaching others on the effective use of social media
  • Using website analytics tools (e.g. Google Analytics, Facebook insights, LinkedIn Analytics, Twitter Analytics, Mention) to monitor, report and make recommendations
  • Presenting and explaining detailed social reporting to clients
  • Setting up and optimising Google AdWords’ campaigns
  • Identifying potential new business opportunities
  • Attending networking events on behalf of Perceptive Communicators, including external and internal events e.g. Perceptive Communicators and Perceptive Directors Clubs
  • Contributing to new business activities e.g. tenders

Essential skills

  • At least 3 years’ digital and social media experience
  • Proven track record of implementing successful digital and social media campaigns across main social media channels
  • Expertise in using content management systems to deliver and update websites effectively and efficiently
  • Experience of using tools like InDesign and Canvas
  • Proven track record of developing and delivering high quality effective written, image and video content for online and social media channels that deliver desired results
  • An ability to deliver agreed goals and work to tight deadlines to ensure clients’ targets and expectations are met
  • Good project management and time management skills
  • Strong writing and creative skills, so able to create compelling content from complex information
  • Proactive and proven ability to thrive in a fast paced environment
  • Organised work processes and project management with ability to prioritise tasks and manage time effectively
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Flexible can do attitude and a willingness to learn
  • Ability to work on own and as part of a team
  • Driving licence and access to a car for work

Our values are:

  • Focussed on results
  • Trusted experts
  • Straightforward and reliable
  • Great energy and team spirit which extends to our clients

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

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

Why join us?

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

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

In addition to 33 days’ holiday, we give all of our employees an extra day’s holiday to have their birthday off.  We also encourage our employees to give back through the company donating a day of their time to our jointly agreed charities.  This year we have supported Action for Children and the Simon Community. 

Our core values are focus on results, straightforward, trustworthy, care and being reliable with a great energy and team spirit for colleagues and clients. If you fancy being a key lynchpin and working with this fast-paced team, please get in touch.

Please apply by sharing your CV, current salary, salary expectations and notice period. 

To apply
If you are interested in this opportunity, please send a CV and covering letter to info@perceptivecommunicators.co.uk detailing why you would be good for this role, with details of your current salary and salary expectations.

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 8 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 March 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 1 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 February 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 22 February 2019

This time last week, they didn’t exist, now you can’t escape the newest (non) party in UK Politics.

The new The Independent Group (“The” is part of their name, lest we confuse with any others) currently made up of three pro-remain Conservative MPs and eight Labour MPs who have all resigned from their respected parties over the handling of Brexit and anti-Semitism within Labour – saying it represented “the centre ground of British politics”. So far, no Scottish MPs have joined them but we hear whispers about one or two MSPs who are unhappy with Comrade Corbyn…

Closer to home and SNP MSPs with Green support have voted to pass the final stage of the Scottish Government’s budget for the coming financial year – securing additional funds for the NHS while offering what the SNP term ‘economic stability in the face of Tory Brexit chaos.’ The budget has committed £729 million extra for health and care services, with spending on NHS frontline boards rising by £430 million.
 
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay MSP also announced an £8 billion investment in Scotland’s education system and, as part of the Scottish Government’s plan to almost double the paid-for provision of childcare to 1,140 hours from August 2020 for all 3 and 4 year olds and eligible 2 year olds, the budget also commits £500 million to support the expansion of early learning services and facilities across Scotland.

Still at Holyrood and SNP MSP Linda Fabiani has been chosen to chair the Holyrood committee inquiry into the government’s handling of complaints against Alex Salmond. Several inquiries were set up after the government admitted its investigation of internal complaints had been flawed. A special committee of nine MSPs set up to examine the government probe met for the first time on Wednesday. However, they will not begin their full inquiry until the criminal case brought against Mr Salmond has been concluded.

The Economy, Energy & Fair Work Committee continues its inquiry into the construction industry but, meantime, has published its report on business support for SMEs and the Business Gateway programme. Members argued the programme suffered from a “lack of accountability” on delivering objectives and “limited transparency” on budgeting. The Committee felt Business Gateway should be set externally monitored targets. Members also said Business Gateway sites needed to improve their engagement with stakeholders. Convener, Tory MSP and advocate Gordon Lindhurst, said: “There is a lack of alignment, transparency and accountability in Business Gateway, and we found it unacceptable that local authorities do not consistently record and publish targets or financial information.”

On Monday, our client, Construction Scotland Innovation Centre, welcomed several MSP members of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee to their state of the art innovation factory in Hamilton. Midlothian MSP Colin Beattie tried a virtual reality headset and wondered if a VR Holyrood was coming anytime soon!

And on Wednesday, our client, Henry Boot Developments (HBD), hosted a media tour at the multi-million-pound TECA in Aberdeen. The venue is being delivered by Aberdeen City Council, HBD and Robertson and will open this summer, providing a new world-class facility close to Aberdeen International Airport and the new city bypass.  We were fortunate enough to join the tour and have a sneak peek inside the 12,500-capacity main arena, which will host conferences, exhibitions and music concerts, and is expected to attract major artists and events to the city, resulting in a hugely positive economic impact. 

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 15 February 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 15 February 2019

Despite Holyrood being on recess for a week, it has been another fascinating seven days in Scottish and UK politics as we move ever closer to the 29March. In one of the more bizarre Brexit sub plots, ITV News reported this week that one of its correspondents overheard the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Olly Robbins, saying in a Brussels bar that the EU was likely to allow an extension to the Brexit process.

On the back of this, the Prime Minister played down reports that she could force MPs to choose between backing her deal or accepting a delay to EU withdrawal. Providing a soundbite that perhaps sums up Brexit perfectly, Mrs May told the Commons that people should not rely on “what someone said to someone else, as overheard by someone else, in a bar”.

The Scottish Government has stepped up its preparations for a no-deal Brexit as it again called on Theresa May to rule out the possibility. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she still believes no deal can be avoided. However, she said her government had a duty to plan for the possibility as best it could. Speaking after a meeting of the Scottish cabinet in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that Mrs May was attempting to “run down the clock” to try and “blackmail” MPs into backing her deal “at the very, very last minute”. The Scottish Government statement can be read here: Brexit

The Scottish Government’s Chief Economic Adviser has published a report on the state of the economy. The update focuses on the risks of a no deal Brexit, as well as Scotland’s strengths in terms of international trade. The report suggests that a no deal Brexit would lead to a “major dislocation” in the Scottish economy and “significant structural change” in the longer term.

It was announced this week that a Holyrood committee is to examine hospital safety following the deaths of two patients from an infection linked to pigeon droppings. The health committee inquiry comes in the wake of the deaths at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. The patients died after contracting a fungal infection linked to the droppings.

The new TV channel, BBC Scotland, has revealed the first full line-up of the on-air team behind its flagship news programme. “The Nine” has a 15-strong core team of journalists, including four dedicated to Holyrood and Westminster, who will bring the national and international news to Scotland in the nightly hour-long broadcast. Broadcasting starts in April. Heading the team are presenters Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler and Chief News Correspondent James Cook joins the Nine from his post as BBC News North America Correspondent.

Another sensitive policy area for the coming spring session at Holyrood will be the SNP’s so called parking tax whereby businesses will pay a levy for ‘free’ workplace parking places. Environmental campaigners have written to Scotland’s five political party leaders expressing support for the levy. The letter sets out the key reasons the plans are backed by environmental and transport groups and aims to dispel myths around the Levy. The Conservatives have continued to oppose the measure. They claimed that teaching unions would demand car park tax refunds for their members. 

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 25 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 25 January 2019

This week the Court of Session overturned a decision by Scottish Ministers to refuse planning permission for development of 600 homes which would be delivered with a £20 million dairy, a new primary school and public park at Aithrey Kerse in Bridge of Allan. Graham’s The Family Dairy in partnership with client, Mactaggart & Mickel Homes lodged the appeal last year further to refusal by Stirling councillors, a decision which was upheld by the Scottish Government. A key element of the appeal was that Scottish Ministers had failed to give proper consideration to the fact that the Local Development Plan process which has resulted in a Plan which continues the housing shortfall in Stirling.

Brexit continues to dominate UK politics and in Scotland, the talk of Brexit is now being followed quickly by discussions around a second independence referendum. Still the policy closest to her political heart, SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is looking to make this happen as quickly as she can. This week she pledged to set out her plans for a second independence referendum “in the coming weeks” even if the Brexit deadline is extended.

The SNP leader had previously said she would have to wait for the “fog” around Brexit clears before she sets out a timetable. However, on Wednesday, she told MSPs that she would speak soon on the matter, even if talks over Brexit are extended beyond the 29 March exit date.

Predictably, the Tories said “now is not the time” for another independence referendum.

Another Committee debate which caught the eye this week was around supporting entrepreneurship in Scotland. Public Finance and Digital Economy Minister – and SNP rising star – Kate Forbes MSP says the Scottish Government has “ambitions to become a world leader in entrepreneurship and that in Scotland, prioritisation has been to tackle the gender gap and to encourage young people in the sector, and this has led to demonstrable benefits.” The minister praised the work of Entrepreneurial Scotland as being at the heart of what the government wants to achieve.

The minister finished by saying there are headwinds approaching the Scottish economy which will pose difficulties, citing the CBI Scotland analysis which warned a no-deal Brexit could cost Scotland £14bn a year. The analysis can be read in more detail here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-46959076  But not everyone agreed, Veteran Highlands Labour MSP Rhoda Grant says there is little to agree with in the Scottish government motion and that “statements of intent alone do not build the environment to thrive.”

In some (rare) good news for the country, unemployment in Scotland has fallen below the 100,000 mark for the first time. Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the number of people seeking work fell to 99,000 between September and November last year. This makes the jobless rate 3.6%, a record low, with more than three quarters of working age Scots now in a job. The UK unemployment rate is 4.0%, its lowest point since 1975.

But less good news for Alex Salmond, who has been charged with attempted rape and sexual assault. He appeared before an Edinburgh sheriff to face 14 charges, including two of attempted rape, nine of sexual assault, two of indecent assault and one breach of the peace. The former First Minister made no plea during the hearing and was released on bail, but outside court, Mr Salmond said he was “innocent of any criminality” and added: “I have great faith in the court system in Scotland.”

And finally…  SNP Education committee, Clare Adamson, praised the young people who gave evidence this week after the committee considered a petition calling for all instrument tuition to be made free to schoolchildren. The convener says there will be debate in the chamber soon and asked the committee whether the petition should be closed. Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott suggests it would be polite to keep the petition open whilst the subject is clearly still live and the committee agreed.

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 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

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