This morning we hosted the first breakfast briefing of many to come at our new offices located at Bankside 2, exploring the question ‘Is the SNP Good for Business?’ with Devin Scobie, Director at FleishmanHillard’s Scottish partner agency, Caledonia Public Affairs.
Drawing on decades of experience and insider knowledge of Scottish politics, Devin skillfully profiled the new SNP Parliamentary party; setting out who they are, how they operate and what they are after.
The SNP election results can be described as nothing short of an electoral landslide never seen before in Scottish politics. The SNP gained an additional 50 MPs, 48 of whom are completely new to the Westminster bubble, still learning the ropes and thus considerably open to influencing. The SNP’s success exceeded all expectations; including Nicola Sturgeon’s whose best upper estimate was 40- 45 MPs.
The SNP MPs have proven themselves remarkably disciplined – ensuring that their approach is well-coordinated and rigorously on-message. Unlike other parties, we have seen few splits or rebellions from within, either in Holyrood or, so far, in Westminster. With two questions guaranteed at every PMQs and Chairmanship of the Scottish Affairs and Energy and Climate Change Select Committees in the bag, the SNP presents a united block of opposition which has become a force to be reckoned with.
Of the 56 MPs returned to Parliament, fewer than half have an ‘obvious’ business background. Yet, despite their relative lack of business experience, the Nationalists are paying more than mere lip service to the business community. Under Nicola Sturgeon’s business focused leadership, they have been laying on thick the charm offensive with one final objective in mind – Scottish Independence. This is only achievable with balanced books and a strong economy – so they are keen to ensure the business is onside and the environment is one in which it can prosper. The SNP Shadow Business Secretary at Westminster, Michelle Thomson, has been specifically told to make herself available to businesses with a presence in Scotland, with the aim of presenting a constructive and approachable face to the business community.
How best to leverage this force for your business needs? Here are a few tips from Devin Scobie himself on what your business can do to effectively engage with this new block of MPs in the coming months:
- Launch a meet & greet programme for the MPs
- Host a parliamentary dinner or reception at Westminster
- Organise spokesperson briefings in Westminster and Hollyrood
- Conduct pre-Manifesto 2016 engagement
- Attend the SNP Conference in October
As Devin advised earlier today, now is the best time to engage before the novelty wears off for the SNP’s newly-elected MPs – and they become more time-pressed and less available. So, if there is one key message you should take away from today, it is: Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the water and strike while the iron is still hot. FleishmanHillard and our partners at Caledonia are here to assist you in doing just that.
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The team provides in-depth analysis of policy and political issues, builds reputations with government audiences and advocates on behalf of issues, anywhere across the globe.
For more information about our work, please contact Liam McCloy, Director in our Public Affairs & Corporate Communications team, at [email protected]
Paulina Jakubec, Account Executive, Public Affairs
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November 20, 2023
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