Public Affairs: Soap Box - Ian Coldwell, managing director, Pagoda Public Relations

Judging by recent issues of PRWeek, the bolstering of Conservative credentials is happening everywhere.

We can also expect strenuous efforts to position clients positively against the background of the new political landscape, with new 'coalition-friendly' initiatives.

The problem comes when we see the 'roll out' of these ideas to Scotland. Too often, some London-based consultancies (and journalists) fail to understand the nature of devolved government. It's not just that Scotland has a devolved government; there is a different political culture, with markedly different trends.

In the 2010 election, although Labour won in its English heartlands, there was still a swing to the Conservatives in those areas. In Scotland, this trend was mainly the opposite. In Carlisle, Labour lost with a 7.7 per cent swing to the Tories, but in nearby Dumfries and Galloway, the swing was 4.3 per cent to Labour. As Scotland continues to move in a markedly different direction, simply trying to 'tartanise' UK-wide initiatives will not work - nor will it play well with Scottish parliamentarians or its national media.

PR and public affairs programmes will only work in Scotland if firms and agencies develop a distinctively Scottish approach that recognises the divergence in public attitudes between Scotland and England.

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