Scottish Parliament launches PR overhaul

The much-maligned Scottish Parliament is to launch a PR overhaul as it concludes a consultation process with senior comms advisers.

The process, begun by chief executive Paul Grice in October last year, will see the Parliament act on the results of consultations with a group of advisers including Media House International chief executive Jack Irvine, and Glasgow City Council comms head John Brown.

Interviews are underway for a new head of media relations for the Parliament, following Andrew Slorance's departure to become chief PRO for the Scottish Executive.

This is expected to remain the most senior in-house PR role since the advisory group is understood to have ruled out hiring a communications director-level PRO.

'In Scotland, as in London, spin has been very much derided of late. For anyone to suggest that a chief spin doctor should be appointed for the Parliament itself is very short-sighted,' said Irvine this week.

He added that he had been advocating an education drive aimed at children and church groups, in recognition that 'there was not an overnight solution' to the Parliament's reputation problems.

He said that he considered the distinction between the Labour Executive and the Parliament itself to have been blurred, tainting the latter with the 'indiscretions' of the former - including the resignation after expenses irregularities of first minister Henry McLeish last year and the 1998 'lobbygate' scandal.

Irvine said he was 'disappointed with the quality of reporting' in the Scottish media.

It had been suggested in the Scottish press that campaigns against the Parliament's attempts to legislate on Section 28 and fox-hunting - which Irvine led - had damaged the reputation of the Parliament.

Irvine said: 'The Executive is obsessed with political correctness, and MSPs are obsessed with their own PC agenda.'

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