MacKay Hannah

ONLINE CONFERENCE Understanding Scotland's Government, Parliament and MSPs: How they work and how to influence them

Tue 15th Jun 2021

OVERVIEW View Conference Agenda

This conference examines how the Scottish Government, Scottish Parliament, Ministers and MSPs work, will consider the political make-up and motivations of the newly elected government and parliament and explain the policy and media context within which decision making in those organisations takes place. It is intended for all people and organisations who aim to inform, influence and assist policy and decision making in Scotland.

The ways in which policy is made, legislation is developed and spending decisions are taken is subject to both specific processes and to a range of external and internal influences. Understanding what those processes are, how these institutions and the individuals within them work, knowing the importance of the media and the political context in which government operates and being aware of the regulatory and political rules and conventions within which influencing takes place are all critical to success.

The purpose of this conference is to provide you with a step-by-step guide to making your voice heard in the corridors of power. It will give insight into the relationship between Government, Parliament, politicians and media and explain the various stages and ways in which policy is developed and how decision making can be influenced.

Whether your interest is in development of legislation, policy making, ongoing constitutional change or spending decisions, the how and why of government and parliamentary decision making - and context in which those decisions are made - is pivotal. The conference looks at the institutions that matter, the types of external influence that count and what you need to know about the instruments and practices needed to be heard at the highest level.

If you want to develop a better understanding of how government works in Scotland and to be a weather maker on policy before it is made rather than simply reading what policy has become once decisions are taken, then knowing how the system really works - and how to influence it - is essential.

Benefits of Attending

  • Hear from experts on issues affecting influencing from developing contacts with MSPs and officials through to the Lobbying (Scotland) Act
  • Understand the policy objectives of the new Scottish Government, what minority and majority government means and the influence of parties not in government
  • Get informed on the undercurrents shaping political parties and movements and examine the interests and motivations of each parliamentary party
  • Learn how the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government work - and how to influence them
  • Find out the role of the media and social media in making and reporting the news - and influencing the decision makers
  • Discuss how to build an effective campaign and the instruments of influence and how to use them
  • Consider the day to day work and perspective of MSPs and how this affects your objectives

Who Should Attend

The conference is aimed at any public, private or third sector organisation with an interest in who shapes policy, what legislation is passed, why budgets are changed, when you can act to be heard and where you can have impact so that people listen. This includes:

  • Senior management including Chief Executives, Directors, Managers and Policy Officers
  • Public affairs specialists including staff working in marketing, communications, engagement and public relations
  • Advisory and representative groups including policy makers, lawyers, professional representative organisations and trade unions
  • Campaigning groups including third sector organisations, lobbying groups, sectoral and industry groups, single issue campaigning organisations
  • Private sector including companies, industry bodies and specialist advisors
  • Public sector bodies including local government, quangos/NDPBs, health, further education and emergency services


Vonnie Sandlan

Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Equality and Human Rights Commission (Scotland)

Andy Maciver

Director, Message Matters

Ross Laird

Head of Scotland, Grayling

Billy McLaren

Lobbying Registrar, Scottish Parliament

Lynda Gauld

Director, Baccus Consulting

Graeme Downie

Director, Orbit Communications

Donald Anderson

Director, Playfair Scotland

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I thought the Q&A at the end was very useful - getting to hear questions people had from other agencies.

Know Your Children's Rights Seminar, 3rd October 2017