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Profiling Sturgeon’s large Praetorian Guard of Special Advisers- Ex protector Alexander Anderson knows who signed off the Cal-Mac ferry debacle and much more.

Alexander Anderson

Centrica: Head of Public Affairs (Scotland, Wales and the English Regions). Jan 2016 – Present. Group Deputy Head of Corporate Communication Aug 2018 – Feb 2020.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce: Member, Scottish Business Advisory Group. Apr 2019 – Present. CBI (Confederation of British Industry) Council Member. Jan 2019 – Present.
Elected to CBI Scotland Council for three-year term from January 2019.

Senior Special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland. Nov 2014 – Jan 2016. Portfolio responsibility for Transport, Infrastructure, Investment and Cities – including: European structural funds, government procurement, Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Water, cities, transport policy, public transport, air, rail and ferry services, roads, veterans and cross-government co-ordination on Scotland’s islands. Also, portfolio responsibility for Rural Affairs, Food & Environment – including: Rural Scotland, land reform, the physical and marine environment, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, aquaculture, food and drink, crofting, sustainable development, biodiversity, natural heritage, environmental protection, flooding, water quality, national parks and environmental & climate justice.

In addition to serving as Deputy Head of Communications and Official Spokesperson to Alex Salmond I held portfolio responsibility for Culture, Europe and External Affairs. Responsibilities included: Culture and the arts, national records, national identity, built heritage, architecture, broadcasting, cross-government co-ordination on European Union and international relations, international development, fair trade, the Scottish diaspora and cross government co-ordination on bringing major events to Scotland. Aug 2012 – Nov 2014.

House of Commons: Head of Press and Communication, (SNP). Aug 2007 – Aug 2012.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) Expert Adviser, politics. In the wake of the Arab Spring, I delivered a series of cross-party workshops in Tunisia for the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (an independent democracy-building public body supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office) on parliamentary procedure, effective communication, political campaigning and mass mobilisation.

Centrica Energy policy

2020: Anderson is a member of the Fuel Poverty Partnership Forum Whose mandate is to alleviate fuel poverty in Scotland. Jun 2018 – Present. The forum brings together partners between public sector, private sector, agencies and third sector delivery bodies to understand the issues facing those in fuel poverty in Scotland, and advise Ministers on issues and potential policy changes required. Quite how this squares with his role with Centrica is puzzling.

https://www.gov.scot/publications/scottish-fuel-poverty-partnership-forum-minutes-june-2019/

https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/10102/default/

2020: Centrica chief executive Chris O’Shea advised consumers the energy crisis may last for two years. He said: “the market suggests high gas prices will continue for the next 18 months to two years. The high demand for gas is partly driven by a move away from coal and oil. As we move towards net zero, gas is a big transition fuel, and so as you turn off coal-fired power stations in other countries, there isn’t an abundance of gas that you can just turn on quickly.”

He also threw cold water on the idea of boosting supply from the North Sea as a domestic solution to the crisis, saying: “I’m not sure an increase in UK supply would have brought the price down. We bring gas in from the United States, from Norway, from Europe, from Qatar, from other places. So we’re not in a position to simply have the UK as an isolated energy market. We are part of a global market.” And Anderson is a member of the Fuel Poverty Partnership forum!!!

Comment: Promises, promises: On 14 June, 2016, 13 Government ministers and senior Conservatives pledged to abolish VAT on household energy bills in an open letter. Signatories included George Eustice, Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Boris Johnson, Penny Mordaunt, Dominic Raab, Iain Duncan Smith, Desmond Swayne, Theresa Villiers and John Whittingdale. We are still waiting on the promised action!!!

2022: British Gas owner Centrica posted a surge in profits amid soaring gas prices and announced that its CEO will waive his annual bonus after the company was bombarded with complaints from angry customers. Chris O’Shea will forfeit the £1.1 million award he is due on top of his annual £775,000 a year salary.

Adjusted operating profit for the year to 31 December more than doubled to £948m from £447m a year earlier. Statutory operating profit came in at £954m against a loss last time of £362m. No dividend was proposed but the company, which trades as Scottish Gas north of the border, is repaying £27m received in 2020 through the UK Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Centrica said its 2022 outlook was broadly positive, but cautioned that “high and volatile wholesale commodity prices and a changing regulatory environment create a wider range of outcomes than normal.” (Daily Business)

Cal-Mac Ferry contract

To: Keith Brown: Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure Investment and Cities

CC: Alexander Anderson. Senior Special Adviser to the First Minister of Scotland. Nov 2014 – Jan 2016. Portfolio responsibility for Transport

Subject: Vessel Replacement – Procurement of 2 new Major vessels

Date: 20 Aug 2015

Purpose: In the absence of the Minister for Transport and Islands on leave, your approval is sought for CMAL to award shipbuilding contracts of a total cost of £96m for 2 new major
ferries for the CHFS network to Ferguson Marine Engineering Ltd (FMEL).

Full document here: (https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/transparency-data/2019/12/ferguson-marine-key-documents-2015/documents/ferguson-marine-submission-to-ministers-recommending-contract-award-20-august-2015/ferguson-marine-submission-to-ministers-recommending-contract-award-20-august-2015/govscot%3Adocument/Ferguson%2BMarine-%2Bsubmission%2Bto%2Bministers%2Brecommending%2Bcontract%2Baward%2B-%2B20%2BAugust%2B2015.pdf)

Special Advisers to Alex Salmond, November 2014.

Alex Salmond’s trial

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the former SNP MP, and the first witness to swear her oath on the Koran (“I swear by Allah that I will tell the truth …”) was asked about an incident at Stirling Castle where Mr Salmond had allegedly touched a female member of his staff on the bottom as a photograph of them both was being taken. “Did you see anything untoward?” she was asked. “Did [the woman] show any discomfort while the photo was taken?” “No,” answered Ms Ahmed-Sheikh to both questions.

Mr Jackson wanted to know from Ms Kay whether the former first minister was a “tactile” person, “touchy-feely, an old-fashioned man?” “Yes, definitely,” Ms Kay said. “He was mannerable in an old-fashioned way,” as she put it. “He was always hugging people — that was his way.” “But did he go over the line, was there inappropriate sexual behaviour?” asked Mr Jackson. “No,” she said.

Alexander Anderson, who worked for him as special adviser, agreed. “Mr Salmond has always been tactile,” he said. Campaigning with him meant a succession of selfies, with hugs in the streets, at bus stops and in any business he entered. “At party conference there would be hugs and kisses for everyone,” he added.

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