Exclusive: Scotland Office appoints new comms director as Government turbulence intensifies

The Scotland Office has appointed Anna Macmillan as its new director of comms during a turbulent week for the Government.

Anna Macmillan is the new director of comms at the Scotland Office
Anna Macmillan is the new director of comms at the Scotland Office

Macmillan joins the Office of the Secretary of State for Scotland – also known as the Scotland Office; the UK government department responsible for Scottish affairs – from school standards body Ofsted, where she worked for 10 years. She took up her new role on Monday.

The remit of the Scotland Office, which had an annual budget of approximately £10m in 2017 and 70 staff, includes "strengthening and sustaining the Union" and managing Scotland’s exit from the European Union as part of the UK.

In March, exclusive research for PRWeek showed that the Scotland Office was one of the more active Government departments on Twitter.

A study in 2017 showed that the Scotland Office's spending on comms salaries rose from £108,000 in 2010/11 to £426,000 in 2015/16.

Earlier career

Macmillan, who studied constitutional law and politics at the University of Glasgow, began her career as a press officer in the Scottish Labour Party.

She went on to become a senior press officer in the Mayor of London’s Office during Ken Livingstone’s second term.

Macmillan then became a special advisor to former Labour Home Secretary John Reid in the Home Office, before moving to the charity Action for Children as the organisation’s media manager.

In 2009, she joined Ofsted as its head of news, managing proactive and reactive media relations.

She moved up the ladder to become Ofsted’s head of comms, news and Parliamentary affairs, ultimately becoming its deputy director of external relations, leading a 28-strong team at the time of her departure.

There are challenging and exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to get on with the job.

Anna Macmillan, new director of comms at the Scotland Office

Macmillan joins the Scotland Office during a particularly turbulent week for the Government, with Conservative MPs forcing a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May tonight over her handling of the Brexit negotiations.

Meanwhile, Parliament’s 59 Scottish National Party MPs continued to demand this week that Scotland, which voted 'remain' by 62 per cent to 38 per cent in the 2016 EU membership referendum, be given the opportunity to remain in the EU.

New priorities

Commenting on her comms priorities in the new role, Macmillan told PRWeek: "My focus in the year ahead, and beyond, will be to promote the needs and priorities of Scotland, articulating the value of the Union both in terms of what the whole UK Government delivers for Scotland and how vital Scotland is to the country as a whole. Obviously, this all sits in the context of the continuing EU Exit negotiations."

She added that she was "fortunate" to be taking charge of a good team and would be looking to maximise the impact of its engagement and campaigning activity, while maintaining a strong media presence.

Macmillan concluded: "There are challenging and exciting times ahead and I can’t wait to get on with the job."


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