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Scottish Political Insider – Friday 11 January 2019

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 11 January 2019

The Scottish Parliament resumed business this week (Tuesday 8 January) and on the same day former First Minister Alex Salmond was again making the headlines. At the Court of Session in Edinburgh, the Scottish Government admitted acting unlawfully while investigating the harassment claims being made against him, the Government conceded that it breached its own guidelines by appointing an investigating officer who had “prior involvement” in the case. The full extent of Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘prior knowledge’ is yet to come out in the wash …

The first Chamber debate of 2019 focussed on ultra-low emission vehicles. The Scottish Government as expected highlighted what it sees as successes in the sector and its efforts to increase the size of the charge point network. Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said 6% of new cars sold in Scotland in 2018 were ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). But Labour’s Colin Smyth said the take-up of such cars was “below where it has to be if we are to meet our ambition on this issue”. Also, Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur claimed Scotland “falls well short” of what had been achieved in other countries.

Life Sciences was also a big talking point at Holyrood this week. Trade, Investment and Innovation Minister Ivan McKee, one of the new Ministers appointed last summer who has surprised many by his enthusiastic start, says several hundred life science companies employ almost 40,000 people in Scotland and the minister adds that the sector has the capacity to benefit millions of people and save lives.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie agreed that the life sciences sector has been a major success story for Scotland but he is deeply worried about Brexit. He said the sector needs access to the best staff across Europe and the world, and requires the transfer of materials. He highlighted 70% of research assistants at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research are from the EU, with its staff representing 30 different nationalities.

Visitors to the capital will soon need to pay more for the privilege after a City of Edinburgh Council consultation on the introduction of a Transient Visitor Levy showed significant support for the proposals from both residents and businesses. The summary document sets out the responses of more than 2,560 individuals who took part in a survey or attended a discussion forum. Overall, 90% of residents are supportive of a tourist tax, while 51% of Edinburgh accommodation providers, who would have to enforce the proposal, also support it.

As mentioned in last week’s SPI, the team at Perceptive will be keeping a close eye on Holyrood’s Economy, Energy, and Fair Work Committee as it starts to hold a major inquiry on the construction sector in Scotland. 

The Convener of the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee Gordon Lindhurst MSP had this to say on the inquiry: “The sector has its challenges and we want to hear views and suggestions on how these can be overcome. We also want to find out how we can encourage young people to work in the industry, and we’ll be holding consultation work with businesses and colleges over the coming months.”

And finally… the twitter handle @holyroodmouse was created this week after a bold mouse was seen climbing the skirting boards whilst the education committee was in full flow, the fury creature went unnoticed until It was flagged up by the Lib Dems who posted a video on Twitter for all to enjoy:https://twitter.com/scotlibdems/status/1082950838593699840

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 MAY 2018

SCOTTISH POLITICAL INSIDER – FRIDAY 4 MAY 2018

A week of political turmoil at Westminster as Theresa May said goodbye to her fourth Cabinet Minister within a year through no choice of her own.  Amber Rudd admitted misleading the Commons over immigration quotas and stepped down, thus allowing the ambitious millionaire businessman, Sajid Javed, to be promoted to Home Secretary.

Further north and the Scottish Tories had a modest celebration this week as Ruth Davidson overtook the late David McLetchie to become the party’s longest serving leader since the post was created.

Tension was in the air at Holyrood as MSPs debated Brexit again. And Scottish ministers this week rejected the latest bid to settle the dispute with Westminster over post-Brexit powers.  This comes despite the Welsh and UK governments striking a deal. The UK Government is to publish changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill in an effort to end the long-running row with the devolved administrations.

The Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe Michael Russell MSP reiterated the need for changes to the EU Withdrawal Bill to protect devolution, following a meeting with the UK Government in London on Wednesday. Mr Russell confirmed there are still options which would secure an agreement, with two solutions suggested to the UK Government at the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations.

Minimum Unit Pricing of alcohol in Scotland came into force this week (on 1 May) and has been broadly welcomed by the country’s political parties.  Some, including the Lib Dems and most Conservatives, changed their initial opposition to support during the protracted debates which saw the Bill passed in 2012.

Proving this week that the SNP are tough on crime, a man has been jailed for 90 days after stealing toilet roll from a senior SNP MSP. Patrick McHardy stole toilet rolls, soap, hand gel and a diffuser bottle from the Renfrew constituency office of Derek Mackay MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Constitution.

And finally …this week Tavish Scott, one of Holyrood’s longest serving MSPs hosted a behind the scenes tour of Holyrood and a private dinner for Perceptive guests.  Tavish was in usual entertaining and candid form with some interesting insights and predictions about  Brexit, watch this space.

 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

Loreburn Housing Association named best charity employer for second year running

Loreburn Housing Association named best charity employer for second year running

Dumfries and Galloway social landlord, Loreburn Housing Association, has been named Best Charity Employer at a major national recruitment awards for the second year in a row.

The s1jobs Recruitment Awards, which have been running for the past seven years, were presented by comedian and presenter Russell Kane at an event in Glasgow’s Crowne Plaza on 19th April. The awards reward businesses and organisations who deliver a great candidate experience as well as an innovative approach to recruitment.

Loreburn Housing Association, which manages around 2,500 homes across Dumfries and Galloway and is building new homes every year, beat off stiff competition from fellow charity finalists Enable Scotland, The Butterfly Trust and The Simon Community Scotland to take home the prize.

According to the judges, Loreburn’s victory was down to “placing employees at the heart of their business.”

Since her appointment three years ago, chief executive Lorraine Usher has brought in a major transformational change programme to Loreburn, which has seen it go from an organisation coming out of a period of regulation to one that has gained triple Investors in People Gold status and a cluster of award nominations. Lorraine Usher was also named as a finalist in the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Housing Heroes Awards 2017 in the Inspirational Leader category.

Some of the benefits Loreburn offers its employees include flexible working hours, career breaks and the opportunity to work from home when required. Its comprehensive staff health and wellbeing strategy includes private healthcare, fitness trackers for all employees, a lunchtime walking group, an after-work running club and occupational health support.

Chief executive Lorraine Usher said: “We are all delighted with this tremendous achievement. I know Loreburn is a great workplace, but to have that recognised nationally for the second time is a real bonus. I’d like to thank my entire team for helping us win this award, and the management committee for their continued support towards achieving our ambition to become the best performing housing association in Scotland.

“As part of our drive to deliver an amazing customer experience, we invest in staff development programmes with a special focus on management and future leaders. The results of that, along with the positive can-do culture within the organisation, make it a fantastic place to work.

“The wellbeing of our staff will always be a core objective for Loreburn. In 2017, our staff survey showed an 89% satisfaction rating with us as an employer. While this was a great result, we are hoping to use the feedback we received from our staff about how we can be an even better employer to aim for an even higher satisfaction rating in 2018.”

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 March 2018

Scottish Political Insider – Friday 23 March 2018

The main political event this week was the news that the Scottish Government’s alternative to the EU Withdrawal Bill has been passed by MSPs. Ministers put forward their “continuity bill” as part of an ongoing row over UK frameworks of post-Brexit powers. It has undergone more than 20 hours of debate and scrutiny across three weeks, and the finalised bill was backed by a margin of 95 votes to 32. Most unusually, all 129 of Holyrood’s MSPs were present for the final debate and votes (there was one abstention and, by convention, no vote by the Presiding Officer). Brexit Minister Mike Russell said he still hoped to strike a deal with the UK government rather than use the bill.

There is now a period of four weeks in which a Supreme Court legal challenge could be lodged by law officers. The UK government said the competence of the bill – previously questioned by Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh – would be “considered”.

In a further show of Labour/SNP co-operation, the Scottish and Welsh and First Ministers united to urge peers to block what they have called a Brexit “power grab” by the UK government. Mrs May’s cabinet wants to keep control of 24 EU policy areas temporarily to preserve trade within the UK. Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones have written to the House of Lords calling for changes to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, claiming powers held back include areas of “vital importance” to them.

Continuing the co-operation theme and a cross-party group of Scottish politicians has won permission for a judicial review of whether the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50. The MEPs and MSPs want to get a ruling from the European Court of Justice on whether Brexit could be called off. Lord Doherty had originally rejected their application for a review, saying it had little prospect of success. However, after an appeal, a panel of judges said there was “a point of substance” to be addressed in the case. Lord Carloway, Scotland’s top judge, overturned Lord Doherty’s decision and has allowed permission for a judicial review to proceed. The legal action was launched by a group of politicians from the SNP, Labour, the Scottish Greens and the Lib Dems following a crowdfunding campaign.

There was a ripple in the normally iron-clad unity of the Tory Holyrood group this week as Ruth Davidson faced calls to sack shadow tourism minister Rachael Hamilton. The Borders MSP was fined over £50,000 for breaking the law on workplace pensions at the hotel she owns.  Mrs Hamilton had originally faced a £400 penalty, but this surged to £52,500 when the charge was not paid. Officials imposed the fine while she was fighting a by-election to defend a safe Tory seat that saw her elected to Holyrood.

And finally … not a great week for former SNP MP Natalie McGarry who has appeared in court on six charges, including three of embezzlement. Ms McGarry, who represented Glasgow East but did not seek re-election in 2017, was elected in the 2015 landslide. She was charged with three counts of embezzlement, two charges under the Scottish Independence Referendum Act 2013, and one charge under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

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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