Alex Salmond’s former media fixer is making a dramatic return as Humza Yousaf’s new top adviser, The Courier can reveal.
Kevin Pringle is taking on the demanding job of “official spokesperson and strategic political adviser” for the new first minister eight years after he quit the SNP’s spin machine.
He is considered to be the brains behind the party’s earlier success and 2014 referendum campaign.
Mr Pringle, born in Dundee and raised in Perth, helped Mr Salmond take the SNP to its landslide victory in 2011 which sparked more than a decade of total dominance in Scottish politics.
“Eight years after I left my last job with the SNP, thinking that was me finally done with working in politics, I’m taking up a new post this month with the Scottish Government,” he writes in a parting column for The Courier today.
Mr Pringle’s move is a sign of the difficulties Mr Yousaf had in securing a big-hitter at a difficult time for the Scottish Government.
The first minister won a tense leadership contest where senior Nationalists ripped into his record in health, justice and transport.
Mr Yousaf was stunned days into the job when police questioned SNP chief executive Peter Murrell – Nicola Sturgeon’s husband – in a finance probe.
The SNP still seems to me to retain its hard-earned and relatively recently-acquired status of natural party of government in Scotland.
– Kevin Pringle.
He has since had to watch opinion polls fall for the SNP.
Mr Pringle continues: “Despite all the difficulties and controversies, the SNP still seems to me to retain its hard-earned and relatively recently-acquired status of natural party of government in Scotland.
“I’m not saying this will be the case forever, but I think it holds true for now.
“Indeed, a big part of the attraction of going back to work in government is that this administration – now SNP plus Greens – still has a future, not just a past.
“There are three years to go until the next Scottish Parliament election, but what I don’t yet see is an alternative government among any of the opposition groups, with a compelling, coherent message for change.”
Mr Pringle’s role is likely to put him back in front of the media at weekly briefings after first minister’s questions in Holyrood.
Who is Kevin Pringle?
Mr Pringle, 55, attended Caledonian Road Primary and Perth High School, and went on to graduate from the University of Aberdeen with a degree in economic history and international relations.
He first worked for the SNP in 1989 when future success seemed like a pipe dream and only four MPs sat for the party in Westminster. He credits Mr Salmond with helping him to find his feet.
He was chief spin doctor for the former leader between 2007 and 2012, moving to head the party’s communications operation until he quit in 2015.
This isn’t the first time he’s been pulled back to the SNP.
A stint doing public relations for Scottish Gas also ended with a return politics, and success with Mr Salmond in government.
He now lives in Inverclyde with his family.
He is giving up a private sector consultancy role at Charlotte Street Partners to return to the heart of government.
His areas of expertise listed at his current role include media relations and “crisis comms”.
On his biography page, Mr Pringle writes about enjoying the “Byzantine world of Scottish politics”.
He adds: “At home in Inverclyde, I like to walk the local moors with my two young children and gaze out across the Firth of Clyde to Argyll and the hills beyond – still trying to work out what it all means.”
Courier readers will already have a good idea of what Mr Pringle thinks about the SNP’s current situation.
Last year he told our politics podcast, The Stooshie, how ‘active’ independence campaigning had yet to begin under Ms Sturgeon.
His first column for The Courier, published last August, condemned a Tory “trespass” on Holyrood’s devolved turf.
See all his opinion columns here online.