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
We wish the new media officer good luck.