PA Cooperative News

Scottish Politics

May 8, 2024

Scottish politics is rarely dull, but the last 2 weeks were exceptional even by our standards.

A combination of missing climate change targets, the SNP terminating its power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens and a general rather lacklustre performance in the role led to the sudden departure of Humza Yousaf as First Minister after barely a year in the job.

Much has been written about the mess he inherited as First Minister and the pressure he experienced in office with the Israel-Gaza conflict and his own family stuck in war-torn Gaza unable to return home to the UK.

It feels like future historians will be kinder to Humza Yousaf than contemporary political commentators. His resignation speech was dignified and free of partisan rancour. At the end of his speech when he talked about the love and support of his soon-to-grow family, he could not hold the tears back any longer.

The First Minister could not please everyone but he had clearly tried hard to do his best and, when he recognised the road ahead had run out, decided to leave office in a manner which would enhance his reputation as a fair-minded and decent politician. It remains to be seen, but with the trend being for politicians to make an unexpected return to high office (think David Cameron as the UK Government’s Foreign Secretary), might Humza Yousaf do the same after a spell on the backbenches?

This all leads neatly to his successor, John Swinney MSP. In a manner that SNP supporter Sean Connery, known for his role in the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again”, would have been proud of, he announced he would run for the leadership of his party for a second time.

When Kate Forbes decided not to contest the leadership and endorsed Mr Swinney’s campaign, with speculation that there will be a big job in exchange, his path was clear (and completely clear after a little known SNP activist was persuaded to stand aside).

So with all this drama in Edinburgh, where were we? The answer: up in the Highlands enjoying spectacular weather working with clients in one of the most scenic places we’ve ever been to as a business.

Scottish Woodlands Ltd (SWL) is one of the UK’s leading forestry companies, providing a wide range of services related to the management and development of forests and woodlands across the country. Its clients come in all shapes and sizes and some are even household names.

Forestry and woodlands have become a contested space, with more and more public scrutiny of which  trees are being planted and where. So in turn, SWL has given their public communications a spring clean as well and that’s where we come in.

In the past, foresters might have taken criticism on the chin, and gone back to what they do best – planting and managing Britain’s forests. Now, however, public information and communications about what they do is an increasing part of their business. This takes lots of different forms, from information to neighbours and communities about new forests being created to contributing to national debate about the need to increase the amount of UK land covered in trees. In this instance, the property in question has been the subject of some ill-informed online commentary about plans for the area. So SWL, taking its responsibility seriously, feels the need to explain what is happening, and why.


Perhaps it was the glorious weather and the chance to get up high and look down on such a beautiful place but it is clear to anyone what a truly spectacular landscape we have in the Cairngorm National Park. As you look closely, you can see the area is changing with more woodlands being created – through planting, active management and natural regeneration. They all have their place, according to the circumstances. It’s a bit like a good meal where the ingredients on their own might not bowl you over but taken together, the results can be truly outstanding. So our advice is don’t just read the headlines; find out for yourself what is really happening in the hills and glens of this fantastic area. There’s plenty to explore and you won’t regret it.

Talking about meals and ingredients, the day ended late so it was time for a quick dinner before heading back to Edinburgh. We were close to Kingussie so Joe’s The Chippy On The Corner was calling and we were not about to say no. Scotland is blessed with some amazing fish and chips but this one is right up there with the best. If Carlsberg did road trips then this was definitely one of them.