Lord Steel’s decision to take the Daily Record to the Press
Complaints Commission over its coverage of the new Scottish Parliament
reveals a profound misunderstanding of message management and
professional political communications.
His attack on what he called ’bitch journalism’ is pure knee jerk,
triggered by unkind reports about his own delusions of grandeur, now
that he is Holyrood’s presiding officer.
Rather than lash out verbally, Lord Steel would do well to consider how
poorly resourced the in-house communications function is within the new
parliament. Communications director Lesley Beddie’s portfolio is
Her staff is roughly the same size as the old Scottish office team
before devolution - those press officers covered seven ministerial
briefs, while Holyrood’s PR team has 22 government ministers to
Therein lies the root of the scrambled communication lines between the
Scottish executive and the nation’s media. A little more Millbank-style
spinning would therefore not go amiss to smooth relations with
newspapers which, before the referendum, declared themselves to be
overwhelmingly in favour of devolution.
The feisty Scottish tabloids will probably never stop sniping, but, with
a little investment in PR, the ’bitch journalism’ will be tamed to puppy