DIARY: Scottish Executive spin doctors face axe as McConnell takes top role

A battle for one of the top civil service PR jobs in Scotland is

underway after First Minister Jack McConnell vowed to do away with spin

doctors in the Executive.



McConnell - installed as Scottish Labour Party leader last weekend, and

set to be confirmed as First Minister by the time PRWeek appears on

news-stands - ruled out the use of spin doctors 'after the mistakes made

by certain individuals last time'.



That widely reported comment was taken as a dig at disgraced former

First Minister Henry McLeish and his PR advisers, following suggestions

that McLeish could have avoided his fate had he come clean with the

story of his undisclosed sub-letting rather than letting the media

discover it incrementally.



McConnell's determination to distance himself from spin doctors is quite

understandable: after all, it was his well-publicised extra-marital

activities with Labour Party PRO Maureen Smith that jeopardised his

marriage and political career.



Indeed, lest one forget, he also became embroiled in the Lobbygate

scandal that rocked the Scottish Executive following The Observer's

sting onBeattie Media in September 1999. The waters were muddied further

by the fact that McConnell had previously worked for Public Affairs

Europe, a Beattie Media part-owned firm. Accusations against Beattie and

McConnell were never proven.



It all goes to show that the PR industry has never quite hit it off with

the Scottish legislature, McConnell and Smith aside.



Post Lobbygate, the Executive is striving to prevent lobbyists gaining

access to ministers. Meanwhile McConnell's outburst sparked a remarkable

rebuke from McLeish's PR aide Peter MacMahon, who accused the Scottish

Labour leader of making his anti-spin pledge to 'move on' his confession

of adultery.



We wish the new media officer good luck.



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