{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/uk-food-and-drink-sales-hit-20bn-across-the-world-1-4372207","id":"1.4372207","articleHeadline": "UK food and drink sales hit £20bn across the world","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487670182000 ,"articleLead": "

Global sales of the UK’s food and drink have hit the £20 billion mark for the first time, UK environment secretary Andrea Leadsom is due to announce today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372206.1487670216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK environment secretary Andrea Leadsom will address the English NFU conference. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking ahead of the English NFU conference, which begins today, Leadsom will be seeking to find some good news ahead of what is likely be a stormy meeting – complete with calls for more detail of the government’s post-Brexit farm strategy.

For, while the turf war over who controls Scotland’s agricultural policy is unlikely to take centre stage at the meeting in Birmingham, English producers are also wearying of the lack of any clear information on the direction support and trade deals are likely to take – and hopes will be high that a significant announcement will be made on the white paper consultation that was promised for the early months of the year.

READ MORE: Domestic lamb consumption key to sheep industry success

On the home front, this weekend Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing warned that a “hard Brexit” would wipe out more than £4.6bn worth of funding, potentially devastating Scotland’s farming and food sectors.

Stating that Scottish agriculture was more heavily reliant on EU funding than the rest of the UK, he said that between 2014 and 2020, Scotland expected to receive around £500 million a year in the form of EU farm support.

Claiming that the UK government’s lack of clear thinking on Brexit put this at risk, he said that Scottish Ministers had sought reassurance that this level of funding would continue beyond Brexit.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

“Yet no guarantees have been given” said Ewing, who added: “This could mean Scotland’s rural and coastal communities facing the loss of subsidies, including CAP direct payments, market measures, the rural development programme, and participation in new research proposals, as well as the loss of markets and workers if locked out of the EU single market.”

• Speaking at yesterday’s Stirling bull sales, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson promised to continue to push for Scotland’s interests when she speaks with UK farm minister George Eustice later this week.

On the red meat levy repatriation front, she indicated that, while there were benefits from working together, Scotland should not be disadvantaged.

Davidson added that she would also address the convergence issue, but a “lot of discussion” still had to take place.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN HENDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372206.1487670216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372206.1487670216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "UK environment secretary Andrea Leadsom will address the English NFU conference. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK environment secretary Andrea Leadsom will address the English NFU conference. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372206.1487670216!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/financial/holyrood-to-probe-demise-of-airdrie-savings-bank-1-4372085","id":"1.4372085","articleHeadline": "Holyrood to probe demise of Airdrie Savings Bank","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487661255000 ,"articleLead": "

The chief executive of ­Airdrie Savings Bank will appear before MSPs today as they examine the impact of the decision to close its doors for good.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372084.1487661300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSPs will examine how Airdrie Savings Bank was hit by the financial crisis. Picture: Alan Watson"} ,"articleBody": "

Last month the bank – the last surviving independent savings bank – announced it is winding down with the potential loss of 70 jobs.

READ MORE: Airdrie Savings Bank to close its doors with 70 jobs lost

The regulatory burden faced by small lenders and the costs involved in investing in new technology were among the factors blamed for the ­decision.

The Scottish Parliament’s economy, jobs and fair work committee will hear from chief executive Rod Ashley together with Professor Charles Munn of the University of Glasgow and Wendy Dunsmore of the Unite union.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

It will look at how the bank was affected by the ­financial crisis and whether current regulations are a barrier for challenger banks. The committee will also look at lessons learnt for the financial sector, including credit unions.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PERRY GOURLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372084.1487661300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372084.1487661300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "MSPs will examine how Airdrie Savings Bank was hit by the financial crisis. Picture: Alan Watson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSPs will examine how Airdrie Savings Bank was hit by the financial crisis. Picture: Alan Watson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372084.1487661300!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/donald-dewar-scotland-s-first-first-minister-1-4372374","id":"1.4372374","articleHeadline": "Donald Dewar: Scotland’s first First Minister","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487678754000 ,"articleLead": "

Donald Dewar was the man who delivered devolution and became tagged “Father of the Nation” – but he hated the title.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372373.1487678732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Statue of Former First Minister Donald Dewar on Glasgow's Buchanan Street. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Naturally modest and under-stated, he greeted Prime Minister Tony Blair after the historic vote in favour of a Scottish Parliament with the words: “Satisfactory, I think.” Dewar went on to become Scotland’s first First Minister, but tragically died after just 18 months in the job, aged 63. Born in Glasgow, the only child of elderly parents, he went to fee-paying Glasgow Academy, which he disliked.

Reader more of this article on Scotsamn 200

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372373.1487678732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372373.1487678732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Statue of Former First Minister Donald Dewar on Glasgow's Buchanan Street. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Statue of Former First Minister Donald Dewar on Glasgow's Buchanan Street. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372373.1487678732!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/alex-salmond/alex-salmond-compared-to-trump-for-attack-on-yoon-media-1-4372216","id":"1.4372216","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond compared to Trump for attack on ‘yoon’ media","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487670813000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s ex-First Minister been compared unfavourably to Donald Trump after he called out the media for presenting an “alternative reality” to Scots.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372215.1487670791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond. Picture: John Devlin."} ,"articleBody": "

Alex Salmond warned the public should not trust ‘unionist’ media sources, in a move likened to Trump’s calls of ‘fake news’.

Salmond blasted a so-called ‘yoon media’ (short for unionist) in a video blog for a Scottish newspaper.

He said: “Now, I won’t call it the fake facts media, or the fake media, or the alternative facts media, because that would be to quote the President of the United States, and you don’t have to be a racist or a misogynist to know when stories are being distorted.

“So I like to call it in Scotland the yoon media. That’s the element of the Scottish press who interpret any story, any issue, and makes it an attempt to either attack or discredit the SNP.

“One of the yoon media says Alex Salmond gave some credit to the SNP Government for the Small Business Bonus Scheme. Some credit? I introduced the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

“So it does provide a fantastic example of, not what we’re going to call fake facts in Scotland, but the alternative reality which is presented by elements of the yoon media.”

MSP Mike Rumbles, of the Liberal Democrats, said: “Alex Salmond seems to have adopted a strategy of Donald Trump in trying to discredit the media. His argument that the media are presenting an alternative universe is a slippery slope to what we are seeing in America.”

A Labour source added: “It looks like Alex Salmond taught Donald Trump all he knows about showing division.”

The Scottish Government said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon did not believe there was a ‘yoon media’.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Sarah Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372215.1487670791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372215.1487670791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond. Picture: John Devlin.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond. Picture: John Devlin.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372215.1487670791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/willie-rennie-snp-will-sell-out-eu-for-indy-dreams-1-4372083","id":"1.4372083","articleHeadline": "Willie Rennie: SNP will sell out EU for indy dreams","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487670250000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP is prepared to “sell out Europe” for independence, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie . Picture: John Devlin."} ,"articleBody": "

He argued the party’s commitment to the European Union has been “compromised” amid growing speculation the SNP is preparing to announce a second referendum within weeks.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said a second independence ballot was “highly likely” following the Brexit vote.

It has been reported that her party is preparing to drop full membership of the EU as a key part of its independence case, and instead push for a Norway-style model which would allow Scotland to remain in the single market via the European Free Trade Area and European Economic Agreement.

During a speech at the David Hume Institute in Edinburgh, Mr Rennie said the move is an attempt to appease independence supporters who voted to leave the EU.

The Lib Dems are pursuing a Brexit deal referendum, which they say would allow voters the chance to change their minds if they do not like the arrangements agreed between the EU and the UK Government at the end of their negotiations.

“Independence is not the economic or the emotional answer to Brexit,” Mr Rennie said.

“I will continue to stand for Scotland in the UK as much as the UK in the EU. I will not compromise on deep rooted principles of internationalism, openness and liberalism.

“The Scottish National Party’s commitment to the EU has been compromised.

“You haven’t heard any senior nationalist say ‘the only way to keep Scotland in the EU is to have independence’.

“They used to say that all the time. Now they don’t. They now say that their dissatisfaction with the UK Government ‘transcends the issue of Europe’.

“We, perhaps, should not be surprised as one third of their supporters favoured Brexit.

“I meet them every week on the doorsteps. Brexit supporters who backed independence in 2014 but are opposed now because of the independence in Europe policy.

“Desperate to keep the significant branch of Brexiteers in their own party in line they are prepared to sell out Europe to get their dream of independence.

“So the risk of their proposal is that it leaves Scotland outside the UK and outside the EU. What a disaster that would be.

“It would only be right for the British people to have the final say on whatever deal is agreed by the Conservative Government with the EU.

“A Brexit deal referendum would be the right and democratic thing to do.

“When they look back at this time, our grandchildren will be perplexed that we did not take our time and ask ourselves the question if we really wanted this.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lyndsey Bews"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie . Picture: John Devlin.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie . Picture: John Devlin.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372082.1487670229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1487268344374"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/bid-to-oust-commons-speaker-john-bercow-appears-to-falter-1-4372160","id":"1.4372160","articleHeadline": "Bid to oust Commons Speaker John Bercow appears to falter","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487667958000 ,"articleLead": "

A bid to oust House of Commons Speaker John Bercow appears to be faltering after just four extra MPs signed a motion of no confidence in him.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372159.1487667936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "House of Commons Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Following Mr Bercow’s controversial comments about US president Donald Trump and Brexit, Tory former minister James Duddridge tabled the early day motion as MPs left for the February recess and claimed no Cabinet ministers were likely to support the Speaker in any vote.

Pressure on Mr Bercow mounted after his outspoken comments essentially banning Mr Trump from addressing MPs and peers in Westminster Hall during his forthcoming state visit.

Opposition to his position appeared to increase after a video emerged of him telling students that he voted Remain in the EU referendum.

But at the end of the first day back for MPs after recess there were only five backing the no-confidence motion - Tories Mr Duddridge, Alec Shelbrooke, Andrew Bridgen, Karl McCartney and Daniel Kawczynski.

Mr Duddridge said he believed around 20 other MPs could sign on Tuesday.

But he added: “People said, I’m going to sign if its 50 people or 100 people, so there is safety in numbers, so we will wait and see.”

Last week it emerged Mr Bercow has received more than 4,000 letters and emails about his decision on Mr Trump.

The vast majority of the communications (3,227) were supportive of Mr Bercow’s attack on Mr Trump, while 854 opposed his position, figures released in response to a freedom of information request revealed.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Amy Watson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372159.1487667936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372159.1487667936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "House of Commons Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "House of Commons Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372159.1487667936!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ruth-davidson-cyberbullies-are-calling-me-a-fat-tory-1-4372136","id":"1.4372136","articleHeadline": "Ruth Davidson: Cyberbullies are calling me a ‘fat Tory’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487665829000 ,"articleLead": "

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives says she is regularly trolled on social media by online bullies.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372135.1487665807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Ruth Davidson said comments, including homophobic remarks and jibes about her weight, are “completely unacceptable”.

The politician is calling for better protection for young people on social media.

She said people are being “heckled and degraded” online.

She said: “Peoplc call me fat, ugly Tory every day. But every now and then I push back on the homophobic insults because that sort of things is not OK.

“It matters to me to be able to use my position to stand up and say that’s not acceptable.

“We need to understand how ubiquitous social media is for some people. It affects their health and mental health.”

Miss Davidson is calling for tougher criminal guidance on social media communication.

“Transparent rules for engagement and clear penalties - including having accounts suspended - must be outlined so everyone knows where they stand,” she said.

Scotland’s Mental Health Minister Maureen Watt said: “The Scottish Government is committed to making the internet a safer place. We want young people to stay in control and know who to go to if they are at risk.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Sarah Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372135.1487665807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372135.1487665807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Davidson. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372135.1487665807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/msps-to-hold-historic-vote-on-setting-new-income-tax-rate-1-4372081","id":"1.4372081","articleHeadline": "MSPs to hold historic vote on setting new income tax rate","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487660813000 ,"articleLead": "

Holyrood will today hold a landmark vote setting a new Scottish rate of income tax.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372080.1487660791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Parliament. Picture: Lisa Ferguson."} ,"articleBody": "

Finance secretary Derek Mackay insisted the government has “got the balance right” on the new powers over income tax and bands after striking a deal with the Greens.

Its tax plans largely follow the Conservative government at Westminster apart from the top rate.

The minority SNP administration initially planned to raise the 40p rate in line with inflation, instead of increasing the threshold to £45,000 as the UK government has done.

However, in cutting a deal with the Greens to get the tax plans through Parliament, the proposed rise was scrapped and the top tax rate frozen at £43,000 while £160 million more was allocated to local government.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372080.1487660791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372080.1487660791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Parliament. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Parliament. Picture: Lisa Ferguson.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372080.1487660791!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/david-mundell-no-circumstances-where-scotland-can-remain-in-eu-1-4372077","id":"1.4372077","articleHeadline": "David Mundell: No circumstances where Scotland can remain in EU","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487660564000 ,"articleLead": "

There are no circumstances in which Scotland can remain in the EU when the UK leaves, the Scottish Secretary will tell MSPs this week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell speaks on the third day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

David Mundell is due to give evidence to the Holyrood’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee tomorrow.

The Conservative MP will use his appearance at Parliament to state that Scotland will leave the EU with the UK at the end of the Brexit process.

He will say in his opening statement: “I think it is important to be clear, that Scotland will not be in the EU at the end of this process. There is no set of circumstances in which Scotland could remain a member of the EU after the rest of the UK has left.

“If Scotland’s constitutional position were ever to change, it would have to apply to be a member of the EU afresh – and we should not make easy assumptions about the length of time this would take.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said a second referendum on independence is “highly likely” following the Brexit vote.

Responding to Mr Mundell’s comments, a spokesman for Scotland’s Brexit minister SNP MSP Michael Russell said: “Scotland faces being dragged out of Europe against its will by a Tory government with just one MP out of 59 in Scotland, “David Mundell – seems totally oblivious to the irony of him seeking to lay down the law.” on what should happen next.”

“The Scottish Government has put forward compromise proposals to keep Scotland in the single market, which is around eight times bigger than the UK market alone - but that compromise has not been matched by the UK Government.

“Scotland is now faced with a right-wing Tory government we didn’t vote for intent on taking us off a hard Brexit cliff edge which would be catastrophic for jobs and livelihoods.

“The Tories now clearly think they can do what they want to Scotland and people will simply accept it - but the Scottish Government is determined to stand up for Scotland’s democratic voice and we will pursue every necessary option to protect our place in Europe.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell speaks on the third day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell speaks on the third day of the Conservative party conference at the ICC in Birmingham. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372076.1487660539!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/darren-loki-mcgarvey-effects-of-child-abuse-don-t-start-and-end-within-the-family-1-4371677","id":"1.4371677","articleHeadline": "Darren ‘Loki’ McGarvey: Effects of child abuse don’t start and end within the family","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487656800000 ,"articleLead": "

We’ve all seen the standard image used by news and media outlets to signify child abuse. It’s the child, usually between five and ten, sitting on some stairs in what appears to be the family home, their face often obscured by a visual effect or by their hands. Whenever we see this image, it is normally part of an advert for a charity or, increasingly, an item on the news accompanied by a presenter speaking in that special, lower-than-usual ‘now we’re talking about child abuse’ register.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371675.1487605459!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Photographs portraying the sensitive topic of child abuse can themselves create a distorted image. Picure: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Great care is taken to present the issue of child abuse in a manner that does not upset us as an audience. In fact, sometimes we are even forewarned to prepare ourselves for ‘distressing’ images in advance of them being broadcast. Most people, when faced with such a serious and sensitive topic such as child abuse or neglect, will experience a natural level of empathy for the victims and a corresponding anger and disgust for the offenders, often the parents or guardians of the victims.

In our hearts, we feel genuine sympathy for these kids, over there, who didn’t have much of a chance. Something must be done, we tell ourselves, before moving on to the next news item. The next news item might be about young people being unruly; engaging in various forms of criminality or nuisance behaviour. Or perhaps about the blight of violence and rise of addiction in our communities. We think to ourselves ‘what is it with young people these days?’ or ‘what the hell’s going on with their parents?’

There’s a simple reason for that. These sanitised images, used to portray child abuse and neglect without upsetting us, serve only to distort the true nature of the problem. These pictures create a false impression that the victims are perpetual children, frozen in time, just waiting for us to reach into the photograph and remove them from harm. As children, they receive unlimited sympathy and professed compassion from us, the compassionate public.

But the second these kids are legally culpable, our entire posture towards them changes. We adopt the role of the abusive parent or guardian, with a short temper and unrealistically high expectations. The moment they stop looking like children we collectively reject, exclude, punish and condemn them. When the truth, whether we want to accept it or not, is that in many cases, the neglected and abused kids, the unruly young people and the lousy, irresponsible, violent, drug-addicted parents are all the same person at different stages of their life; human beings, manufactured by poverty, scuttling on the conveyor belt toward complete social exclusion with the assembly line always – without fail – beginning in a dysfunctional home.

It’s almost cliché to point out the correlation between poverty and the sort of social deprivation that creates the conditions for cultures of abuse and neglect to thrive, but there is simply no getting away from it.

And while it’s important that we retain an air of perspective and rational objectivity when trying to find solutions to generational social problems, it’s also important we don’t get so distant from the reality of human suffering that the issues become dinner party anecdotes or political footballs.

This is not to say that all kids living in poverty have their lives predetermined, or that they lack agency when they become adults. Nor is it to absolve people of responsibility for their actions. But let’s be frank, the various advances we’ve made in recognising both the rights and needs of children will remain nothing more than window dressing until we quit the partisan political point-scoring for long enough to come to some sort of consensus around tackling this issue.

Because when these problems do flare up, they are rarely self-contained within the family or the community. Instead, they spill out into our society and multiply.

They spill into over-crowded casualties and high-dependency hospital wards. They spill into six-month long waiting lists to access clinical psychologists and psychiatric counselling facilities. They spill into over-run social work departments and inundated supported accommodation projects barely keeping their heads above water. They spill into stressful housing offices, packed-to-capacity crisis centres and outmoded addictions services. And for some they spill into police stations, sheriff courts, children’s homes, secure units, young offender institutions and prisons.

A vulnerable family, living in constant economic uncertainty, job insecurity or subject to an inhumane sanctions regime often lacks the capacity to absorb, process and practically address life’s unpredictable adversities. Poverty is about having no margin for error while living under increasing stress and unpredictability. A stock image of a child sitting on a step outside a room in a house does not adequately express this complexity and creates a false impression in the public mind of what is really driving child abuse and neglect – it’s poverty, stupid.

In these homes a bereavement, job loss, benefit cut or sanction can spread like wild-fire throughout the family, engulfing everyone in the flames of emotional distress. Instead of lending one another support, family members go into emotional retreat, unable to cope with the situation. Resentment and tension builds as communication breaks down; creating fertile ground for explosive emotional outbursts and incidents that prolong stress – setting the scene for unhealthy coping strategies that later develop into addictions.

It’s in these households, where addiction is present, that cultures of abuse are more likely to take root and where child abuse is concerned, this is the factory floor. So, next time you’re confronted by a drug-addict, a drunk or an unruly young person terrorising your community, take that wee picture out your pocket, of the kid sitting on the steps, and rather than rolling your eyes before dialling 999, stop and search your heart for a change.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DARREN McGARVEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371675.1487605459!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371675.1487605459!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Photographs portraying the sensitive topic of child abuse can themselves create a distorted image. Picure: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Photographs portraying the sensitive topic of child abuse can themselves create a distorted image. Picure: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371675.1487605459!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-cautious-welcome-for-business-rates-change-1-4371934","id":"1.4371934","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Cautious welcome for business rates change","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487656800000 ,"articleLead": "

With less than six weeks to go before the new rateable values of Scotland’s businesses come into effect, there is still time for the Scottish Government to listen to the growing chorus of opposition. Misgivings over the increases in non-domestic rates have been voiced for several weeks now, with small companies in particular warning that they could go out of business.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay is to announce "further support for business and the Scottish economy"."} ,"articleBody": "

But in recent days, the argument against the rises has intensified and gained momentum. Most damagingly for the SNP, they have emanated from the party’s supposed allies.

At the weekend, former first minister Alex Salmond conceded that some companies have a “very legitimate” case against the hikes, particularly in the north-east of the country.

Now, the pro-independence group, Business for Scotland, has joined the fray, with its chief executive, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, urging the government to intervene with a “robust set of rates relief measures” that will protect those firms hardest hit by the rate rises.

Such a step, he reasons, would be the best way of protecting jobs and promoting economic growth. It is an alluring argument by itself, but given it comes from a organisation that has traditionally shown nothing but support for the government, it becomes even more difficult for those in power to ignore.

Until yesterday, finance secretary Derek Mackay has repeatedly said he will not intervene to ease the impact of the increases, insisting any such scheme should be provided by local authorities. He of all people must have known that advocating such a measure was a cop out, given the straitened finances of Scotland’s councils, but some in local government called his bluff, with Aberdeenshire Council announcing a consultation on how to structure a relief scheme, while warning that any reductions will directly impact on the budget for frontline services.

This flurry of activity has perhaps inspired Mr Mackay to change tack. Today, we are told, he intends to outline a further package of support to help certain businesses “better deal with the impact of the forthcoming revaluation”.

The devil will be in the detail and the business community will no doubt wait and see what he has to propose before declaring victory. At the start of this month, it seemed inconceivable that the Scottish Government would consider a rethink, but if it cannot convince its own supporters that the new scheme is appropriate, it seems change or amendment is necessary.

It is encouraging that Mr Mackay at least appears to have taken notice of the criticism. He and the Scottish Government must surely realise that ploughing ahead in the face of such opposition would be an error.

To some extent, the government’s record on the Scottish economy can be explained by austerity and the general economic climate beyond these shores. But with the prospect of a devolved policy having a direct, negative effect on the country, there can be no excuses.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay is to announce "further support for business and the Scottish economy".","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay is to announce "further support for business and the Scottish economy".","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371933.1487623204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-trump-provides-another-hard-lesson-for-the-r-a-1-4371960","id":"1.4371960","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Trump provides another hard lesson for the R&A","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487656800000 ,"articleLead": "

It is ironic that just as golf appears ready to negotiate the final steps of what has been a political minefield, another has opened up in front of it.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump at Turnberry, one of the courses on the Open Championship rota. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

As we report today, the embarrassment of having a favoured course for the Open Championship which does not accept female members could be close to acceptable resolution. A vote of members is to be held next month and the R&A has indicated that if the ballot accepts women as members, Muirfield will return to the Open rota.

However, the game’s governing body now has an issue over another of its Open circuit venues: Turnberry, or to give the resort its new name, Trump Turnberry.

Unfortunately, it seems that the R&A’s attitude to this situation has learned little from the Muirfield experience. “Staying out of politics and of opining on politics ... probably the best advice I can have is to stay clear of that,” said chief executive Martin Slumbers when asked yesterday about Donald Trump’s conduct. That’s an admirable principle, but if the Trump presidency continues to offend and alienate, it’s not a strategy that will work.

The Muirfield situation damaged the R&A because it made golf look like it was not inclusive. What we have now is an Open host course owned by a politician who wants to build a wall to keep out immigrants, and wants to ban people from Muslim-majority countries. This is exclusion on a grand scale.

It is not enough to say that sport and politics should be kept apart. History shows us that in many situations, they cannot be separated.

The R&A has time before Turnberry is considered again for the Open, but in the meantime, it should not try to pretend that Trump’s conduct does not affect golf.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Donald Trump at Turnberry, one of the courses on the Open Championship rota. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump at Turnberry, one of the courses on the Open Championship rota. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/paris-gourtsoyannis-corbyn-facing-tough-crowd-in-perth-1-4371928","id":"1.4371928","articleHeadline": "Paris Gourtsoyannis: Corbyn facing tough crowd in Perth","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487656800000 ,"articleLead": "

The Labour leader will struggle to deliver a convincing message in Scotland, says Paris Gourtsoyannis

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn faces a double by-election challenge this week which risks further embarrassment. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

This week, the worst job in politics belongs to Jeremy Corbyn’s speechwriter. The Labour leader will stand up in front of the Scottish party conference in Perth this weekend to deliver what in times past would have been a rallying call ahead of local elections in May. But any attempt to imagine what message Corbyn can deliver to his dwindling Scottish troops conjures little more than a blank page.

UK polling shows Labour languishing as much as 18 points behind the Conservatives, even as Theresa May navigates the most contentious issue to face any government since the war, leading a divided country and a tiny Commons majority.

Corbyn’s speech in Perth has already been pushed back from the start of the Scottish Labour conference to its last day to limit the fall-out from by-election results in Copeland and Stoke, where Labour runs the risk of an unprecedented double embarrassment for an opposition.

But there is no rescheduling that can delay the humiliating third act in Labour’s Scottish collapse that will inevitably follow, when it is crushed in council elections in May by both the SNP and the Conservatives. The mood music isn’t good.

Pick any policy issue and the chances are good that Corbyn is not only at odds with many of his own MPs, but with much of the Scottish party and its leader, too. On Brexit that split has been decisive, with the two party chiefs ordering their parliamentarians to vote in opposite ways on legislation to trigger the UK’s exit from the EU. In last summer’s leadership challenge, Scotland was reported to be the only place where Owen Smith came out on top, so Corbyn’s support among the membership isn’t what it is elsewhere, either.

So, what on earth will he say? In a quieter moment, as Corbyn stares at that blank page, perhaps he will wish he could give the speech delivered recently by one of his predecessors.

In a press conference last week Tony Blair did something no Labour politician has managed since the EU referendum – and you could argue that few managed it during the campaign, either. He made a clear, coherent argument for Britain’s place in Europe, and managed to get some TV cameras and microphones pointed at him while he did it.

Brexit is not one tough decision but a series of them, Blair argued. “If we were in a rational world, we would all the time, as we approach those decisions, be asking: why are we doing this and as we know more of the costs, is the pain worth the gain?”

Jeremy Corbyn, one of Blair’s most visceral critics, might ponder that before venturing to Remain-voting Scotland. All Out War, the excellent and definitive account of the EU referendum campaign by journalist Tim Shipman, recounts in depressing detail how the current Labour leader’s disinterest allowed the left-wing case for Europe to wither on the vine. It was less a conspiracy than surly, bureaucratic cowardice: campaign emails went without reply, press events unattended, speeches and statements stripped of a few lines here and there to rob them of any power. Labour’s opposition since the vote has been scarcely more effective.

The reasons why many people, including a good number of Labour supporters, cannot trust or stand Tony Blair need no repetition. Many of those reasons have merit, even if much of the hatred towards him has become performed and instinctive. On Europe, in particular, it is fair to approach with caution Blair’s claim that Brexit will not significantly reduce net migration, given his own government’s record on the issue – although on the facts alone, he is absolutely right.

But if Labour’s fallen idol has stepped back into the firing line, it isn’t because he relishes the abuse from newspapers and the left and right. Nor has he set up a think-tank to combat populism because he has tired of the conveyor belt of money from consulting for dubious regimes and corporations.

It’s because he sees the opening left by Corbyn when the current Labour leader decided to wait and see which way the EU referendum went, and follow its lead rather than leading himself.

The post-Brexit assumption has been that Labour’s pro-EU stance in the referendum, no matter how quietly expressed, had alienated large swathes of its northern, working class supporters, who are now at risk of being picked off by Ukip. Shipman documents how Corbyn’s office believed that by keeping a low profile during the campaign, the Labour leader would be on the side of the country if the result was to Leave.

That logic would have us believe that Labour’s refusal to take a more robust stance on Brexit will help it in places like Copeland, where 62 per cent of voters backed Leave, and Stoke-on-Trent Central, where the Leave vote was even higher at 69 per cent. Indeed, there is a quiet confidence in Labour that it can see off the Ukip threat in Stoke and may even hold on to both constituencies.

If they do, however, to credit Corbyn’s Brexit stance for the victories would be to learn the wrong lesson. While Labour’s support has been split by the EU referendum, it hasn’t been split evenly, as polling guru John Curtice pointed out in a blog post at the weekend.

Analysing figures from the latest British Election Survey, Curtice reminded Labour watchers that a majority of the party’s supporters are believed to have voted Remain last year – including across Leave-voting parts of England. In the north, 57 per cent backed the EU.

Curtice concluded that unless Corbyn works just as hard to keep their support as he does the minority that voted Leave, Labour’s fortunes look bleak. Whether the Labour leader has in fact made altogether the wrong choice in chasing a constituency that has already drifted to Ukip remains to be seen.

In Scotland, according to Curtice’s analysis, two thirds of Labour voters backed Remain last year. Their party now faces a looming battle to convince them that, contrary to Tony Blair’s warning last week, the case for Scottish independence is not “much more credible” in the wake of Brexit. When he stands behind the podium in Perth, Corbyn would do well to recognise that.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PARIS GOURTSOYANNIS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn faces a double by-election challenge this week which risks further embarrassment. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn faces a double by-election challenge this week which risks further embarrassment. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371927.1487668269!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/grandparents-saving-working-families-billions-in-childcare-1-4371965","id":"1.4371965","articleHeadline": "Grandparents ‘saving working families billions in childcare’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487635200000 ,"articleLead": "

An “army” of grandparents looking after their grandchildren are collectively saving parents more than £16 billion a year in formal childcare costs, a report has found.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371964.1487626094!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two-thirds of grandparents across the UK provide some form of childcare. Picture: Zoran Zeremski"} ,"articleBody": "

Grandparents spend on average more than eight hours a week looking after their grandchildren, according to the report from insurer Ageas, in partnership with the International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK).

The report estimates that nine million grandparents make up “the UK’s grandparent army” of childcarers, including 2.7 million who are heavily relied upon to regularly provide childcare.

It calculates grandparents save families around £1,786 in formal childcare costs per year, equating to a £16.1 billion saving across the UK.

The average figure is based on grandparents looking after one child in the family, so those looking after siblings could be saving families even more.

The research found two-thirds (65 per cent) of grandparents across the UK provide some form of childcare for their grandchildren, making it easier for parents to go out to work.

More than a quarter (29 per cent) of grandparents say their adult children have heavy workloads so need childcare support, and one fifth (18 per cent) say their children cannot afford formal childcare.

Two-thirds (68 per cent) of grandparents offer financial contributions to their grandchildren’s upbringing, such as payments towards clothes, toys and hobbies, leisure activities and pocket money.

Baroness Sally Greengross, president and chief executive of ILC-UK, said: “It is clear grandparents have become one of the biggest sources of childcare after parents themselves, allowing more parents to work and thereby reducing the costs of childcare.”

Recent research from Royal London suggested thousands of people who are helping to bring up their grandchildren could be missing out on valuable credits which would help to build up their pension.

More than 2,000 people were surveyed for the Ageas and ILC-UK report.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Vicky Shaw"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371964.1487626094!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371964.1487626094!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two-thirds of grandparents across the UK provide some form of childcare. Picture: Zoran Zeremski","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two-thirds of grandparents across the UK provide some form of childcare. Picture: Zoran Zeremski","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371964.1487626094!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/derek-mackay-to-act-on-business-rates-as-firms-step-up-pressure-1-4371980","id":"1.4371980","articleHeadline": "Derek Mackay to act on business rates as firms step up pressure","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487635200000 ,"articleLead": "

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay will today unveil a fresh package of measures to help firms hit by a massive hike in their business rates.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371979.1487627871!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay had previously ruled out any intervention. Picture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

The move follows months of pressure from business owners who say they may face making redundancies and even going to the wall over increases of up to 200 per cent.

Pro-independence group Business for Scotland last night became the latest organisation to call for intervention amid claims that the situation is “not manageable” for many firms.

Mr MacKay has previously ruled out intervention but will today unveil new measures to help firms in a statement to MSPs at Holyrood.

The Scottish Government last night said it will include a “further package of support that will help businesses in key regions and sectors of the Scottish economy to better deal with the impact of the forthcoming revaluation of business rates”.

The rate rises are the result of a controversial re-evaluation of the “rateable values” of properties by the Scottish Assessors Association, which is independent of government.

Firms in the North-east fear the changes as the revaluations took place before the impact of the oil price crash on the region.

Business for Scotland was founded during the last referendum campaign to provide a business platform for pro-independence firms, angered by the perceived pro-union bias of the CBI Scotland.

Chief executive Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “We need the Scottish Government to step up and be the champion of the business community on rates and to propose a robust set of rates relief measures that protect business from rapid rates rises and therefore protect jobs and economic growth.”

The organisation, which has 4,000 members, said yesterday that some have reported their rates are more than doubling and branded this “not manageable”.

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp added: “Rates increases are an issue across the whole of the UK, but the Scottish Government has an opportunity to intervene and create a competitive advantage for Scottish businesses in direct comparison to the UK government’s complete mismanagement of Brexit.”

The group’s intervention follows comments made over the weekend by former first minister Alex Salmond, who said some Scottish businesses have a “very legitimate” case against business rate rises.

Mr Mackay insisted last night he has already set out “a competitive package of measures to give small and medium enterprises the security and confidence to grow in these tough economic times”.

He added: “Under the Small Business Bonus Scheme 100,000 properties will pay no rates at all next year and a further 3,500 properties will benefit from 25 per cent relief. This package means around 9,000 properties will be up to £7,000 a year better off than their equivalents in England.

It emerged yesterday that universities have also seen their rateable values go up. Although the institutions enjoy charitable status, Labour claimed the rate rises could leave them with increased running costs.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371979.1487627871!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371979.1487627871!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Derek Mackay had previously ruled out any intervention. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay had previously ruled out any intervention. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371979.1487627871!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/closing-gender-pay-gap-worth-6-5bn-for-scotland-1-4372011","id":"1.4372011","articleHeadline": "Closing gender pay gap ‘worth £6.5bn’ for Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487635200000 ,"articleLead": "

The gender pay gap in Scotland currently stands at 15 per cent despite improved opportunities for women in the workplace, according to a new report.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372010.1487630108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The gender pay gap in Scotland currently stands at 15 per cent. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The research by PwC found if this gap was closed, female earnings would increase by 18 per cent – an extra £5,300 per head per year.

In total, this figure would be £6.5 billion for Scotland.

The statistics were drawn from the professional services firm’s Women in Work research which measures levels of female economic empowerment across 33 countries.

It found the UK’s performance has improved due to increasing female employment rates, a narrowing of the gender pay gap and a reduction of the gap between male and female labour force participation rates.

The UK now ranks 13th out of 33 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, and is second only to Canada in the G7 group of nations.

UK regional variations in the gender pay gap were calculated using the difference between the median gross weekly pay for men and women as a percentage of the median gross weekly pay for men.

Northern Ireland was found to have the lowest pay gap at 6 per cent, while the West Midlands has highest gap at 27 per cent. The UK average is 17 per cent.

Even though the gender pay gap in the UK is narrowing, PwC’s research shows it will take until around 2040 to close it.

Job differences between men and women, both across industries and job roles, is one of the biggest factors contributing to the gap in earnings.

The research shows women are still more likely to work in sectors and occupations that are relatively lower paid.

Matthew Cooper, of PwC in Scotland, said: “While it is encouraging to see that the gender pay gap in Scotland at 15 per cent is lower than the UK average of 17 per cent, there remains work to do with specific challenges in some of Scotland’s key industries such as financial services and oil and gas where the gender pay gap remains higher.

“The increased focus on pay gap reporting gives employers the opportunity to set out the actions they are taking to address the pay gap as well as their wider strategy on diversity and inclusion. Taking accountability and delivering changes is what is needed from Scottish employers to continue the process toward removing gender pay ­inequality.”

The research comes as Holyrood’s Economy, Fair Work and Jobs Committee launched its own inquiry into the impact of equal pay.

The committee will examine whether addressing the gender pay gap could aid business performance.

Scottish Labour economy spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “It’s disappointing that the gap between what men and women in Scotland get paid remains so wide.

“We may have a female First Minister in Scotland but that doesn’t appear to be making much difference. SNP ministers need to come forward with a clear plan.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lynsey Bews"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4372010.1487630108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4372010.1487630108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The gender pay gap in Scotland currently stands at 15 per cent. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The gender pay gap in Scotland currently stands at 15 per cent. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4372010.1487630108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/taxpayers-foot-bill-for-120m-public-sector-golden-handshakes-1-4371997","id":"1.4371997","articleHeadline": "Taxpayers foot bill for £120m public sector ‘golden handshakes’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487631091000 ,"articleLead": "

The cost of taxpayer-funded “golden handshakes” rose by £8 million last year to almost £120m.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371996.1487629361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh City Council which presided over exit deals totalling 21.7m pounds. Picture: Scott Louden"} ,"articleBody": "

Hundreds of staff at councils, the NHS and quangos enjoyed lucrative six-figure severance deals, annual accounts show.

The figures have prompted fresh opposition calls for the payouts to be reduced at a time of austerity and question marks about whether the money is being well spent.

The bulk of the payouts has been among local authorities which are being forced to axe staff in an effort to meet the impact of budget cuts.

The cost of council exit packages around the country jumped by £23m in 2015/16 to reach £97m, according to their annual accounts.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “It’s been several years since public sector organisations in Scotland embarked on what was meant to be a period of austerity.

“So people will be surprised to see the number of those getting pricey golden goodbyes continuing to rise.”
The organisations involved are likely to be bound in many case by “contractual agreement”, Mr Fraser said.

But he added; “When taxpayers’ money is concerned, we need to see more being done to reduce these types of payouts.”

Overall, there was £118.7m paid out in deals such as redundancy and early retirement as public sector bodies moved to cut costs. This was up from £110.9m the previous year.

The biggest spike was in Edinburgh City Council which presided over exit deals totalling £21.7m – up from just £2.8m the year before.

And 40 staff in the capital left with six-figure severance packages – including two people who each secured a package worth between £250-300,000, the figures show.

A council spokeswoman said last night: “The reason for the increase is due to the council’s transformation programme, which in on target to deliver £70m of recurring savings every year. The payouts made were done in the context of this and an efficient spend to save programme.”

The next highest was at Highland Council, where £18m was paid out in exit deals. Fifty of those leaving the authority received six-figure deals. Highland launched a voluntary redundancy scheme which saw 340 workers leave and the authority says this will mean a full-year saving of £10.08m.

East Dunbartonshire, which includes the affluent areas of Milngavie and Bearsden, saw 40 workers get six-figure severance packages, including two who secured deals worth more than £300,000. The council paid out almost £9m in exit deals, the figures show, with 101 staff leaving in total.

A spokesman for local government body Cosla said the higher figure for councils show the extent to which other parts of the public sector have been “protected from financial cuts”.

“This means that we have had to let staff go as budgets become tighter to free up money for frontline service provision,” he said.

“There can be no mistaking the fact that budget cuts to councils impact on both jobs and services.”

Councils’ “transformational change” programmes also mean that they have “downsized considerably and therefore lost more staff than other parts of the public sector”.

The spokesman added: “This shows that councils are managing change in a responsible, planned and thought through manner and doing their best to protect services to communities.

GOLDEN HANDSHAKES

Body2014/152015/16

COUNCILS

Edinburgh£2,786,000£21,719,000

Highland£897,662£18,068,781

East Dunbartonshire£6,032,781£8,999,066

Fife£4,270,000£6,058,000

Dumfries and Galloway£2,494,664£4,510,095

NHS

NHS Lothian£1,888,000£1,231,000

NHS Grampian£734,000£163,000

NHS Education Scotland£743,000£550,000

NHS Greater Glasgow&Clyde£980,000£468,000

NHS 24£0£318,000

QUANGOS

Scottish Govt£11,000,000£6,405,000

Scottish Police Authority£11,628,000£5,617,000

Registers of Scotland£1,653,000£2,199,000

Scottish Water£500,000£1,500,000

Visitscotland£1,882,000£554,000

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371996.1487629361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371996.1487629361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Edinburgh City Council which presided over exit deals totalling 21.7m pounds. Picture: Scott Louden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh City Council which presided over exit deals totalling 21.7m pounds. Picture: Scott Louden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371996.1487629361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/donald-trump-has-put-r-a-in-uncharted-territory-1-4371987","id":"1.4371987","articleHeadline": "Donald Trump has put R&A in ‘uncharted territory’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487628493000 ,"articleLead": "

Donald Trump has put the R&A in “uncharted territory” since becoming US President but that will not stop Turnberry being considered for the Open Championship, the organisation’s chief executive has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump at Turnberry, one of the courses on the Open Championship rota. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Martin Slumbers said it would be “foolhardy” for the St Andrews-based organisation not to work with Mr Trump if the Ayrshire venue, which is owned by the American’s family, is selected to stage golf’s oldest major during his spell in the White House.

That would probably need to involve Mr Trump serving a second term as the Open Championship venues through until 2021 have now been largely finalised following an announcement that the 2020 event, the next one that was up for grabs, will be staged at Royal St George’s in Kent.

While still to be confirmed, it means the event’s 150th anniversary in 2021 will almost certainly be staged at St Andrews, meaning that 2022 is the earliest available opportunity for Turnberry to welcome it back for the first time since 2009.

“I was very clear last year when I said that we were focused on Turnberry as a golf course, and there has been nothing that’s happened in the last year to change that,” said Mr Slumbers.

“Turnberry remains one of our nine golf courses (for the Open Championship). I also said last year that Turnberry wasn’t involved in the discussion for ’20 and ’21, and we will not be thinking about ’22 for at least another year.

“We are clearly now in uncharted territory as we’ve never had this in our game. Sitting presidents have attended US Opens, but we have not had a sitting President of the United States at an Open Championship. We’ve had royalty, but for all of us in the game, we are in uncharted territory here with the president’s family owning golf courses. We’re all learning as we go through this.

“But we are talking about the President of the United States, and, with all senior people in the world, I think it’s polite and respectful to listen to them and work with them. It’s very important that we work with the president if Turnberry did come back on. That would just be foolhardy not to.”

Golf’s most influential organisations had previously distanced itself from Mr Trump in the wake of his views on Mexican immigrants and his vow to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Martin Dempster"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Donald Trump at Turnberry, one of the courses on the Open Championship rota. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump at Turnberry, one of the courses on the Open Championship rota. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371959.1487628471!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/energy/oil-sector-getting-head-above-water-with-2bn-revenues-1-4371975","id":"1.4371975","articleHeadline": "Oil sector ‘getting head above water’ with £2bn revenues","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487626934000 ,"articleLead": "

The oil and gas industry is getting its head above water after posting negative tax receipts for the first time in 2015-16, the body which represents the sector has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371974.1487626915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Treasury invested �24m more into the industry than it got back in petroleum revenue tax. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

Figures for last year show the Treasury put £24 million more into investment and decommissioning than it got back in petroleum revenue tax – the first time the oil balance sheet has been in the red since records began in 1968-69.

Mike Tholen, of Oil and Gas UK, said that “reflects the torment of the sector”, which had generated more than £2 billion in revenues the previous year.

He said: “The low point last year represented the fact that the industry was spending more than it was earning, which is clearly not a healthy point to be at.

“Gradually the industry is spending less and earning more so we’re getting our head above water.

“Hopefully we will be a positive taxpayer this coming year, and for years to come.”

However he raised the prospect of the price of oil remaining at about 50 US dollars (£40) per barrel “perhaps for many years to come”.

While he said oil and gas had raised some £350 billion in revenues for the UK Treasury, he added “we don’t see the same depth of yield of taxes in the years ahead, simply because of the pressures the industry is under”.

Mr Tholen, the director of upstream policy at the industry body, said: “This year we’re probably just about holding our heads above water this fiscal year, just about balancing tax receipts.”

He went on to state that over the next five years, the North Sea could “deliver something like £7 or £8 billion in taxes”.

Mr Tholen made the forecast as he gave evidence to MPs on the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee.

Oil and gas firms operating in the UK have in recent years reduced operating costs - including through staff cuts - in a bid to make the industry more efficient.

Mr Tholen said the UK can still be “an expensive place to do business” as he told MPs the sector is coming under pressure from the US shale gas industry.

He said: “The UK is an expensive place to do business, operation costs, particularly costs per unit barrel, are towards the top end, top quartile, too often. Just simply the geography and the costs of operating offshore. What we have seen is a lot of work over the years to really take costs down by being smart, by being efficient and by being savvy. There have been good examples of that by many companies in the North Sea.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Katrine Bussey"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371974.1487626915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371974.1487626915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Treasury invested �24m more into the industry than it got back in petroleum revenue tax. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Treasury invested �24m more into the industry than it got back in petroleum revenue tax. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371974.1487626915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/an-independent-scotland-would-face-greece-style-austerity-cuts-1-4371094","id":"1.4371094","articleHeadline": "An independent Scotland would face ‘Greece-style’ austerity cuts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487623712000 ,"articleLead": "

One of the country’s top economic forecasters has warned that if Scotland becomes independent from the UK it would face a huge budget deficit and be forced to make Greek-style austerity cuts.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371093.1487623691!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Keith Brown MSP. Picture: John Devlin."} ,"articleBody": "

Douglas McWilliams from the Centre for Economics and Business Research has predicted Scotland could be facing a deficit of 12 per cent of GDP by the time it becomes independent in the event of a Yes vote.

He said: “The only practical option would be cut to public spending.”

He said the deficit could rise to an unmanageable 12 per cent of GDP due to additional costs of becoming a separate state.

“Because of Keynesian multiplier effects, there would need to be cuts of about 15 per cent of GDP. That’s roughly on the scale of what has happened in Greece, which has led to a fall in GDP on a quarter.”
The prediction comes as pro-independence campaigners predicted a second independence referendum will be called within weeks.

Business for Scotland has just launched a fundraising drive, asking members to help pay for a new independence referendum campaign.

A spokesman for Keith Brown, the Scottish Government’s economy secretary said: “Latest actual figures show that productivity - the key driver of economic performance - is growing four times faster in Scotland than the UK. A hard Brexit will put this at serious risk.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Amy Watson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371093.1487623691!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371093.1487623691!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Keith Brown MSP. Picture: John Devlin.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Keith Brown MSP. Picture: John Devlin.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371093.1487623691!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/may-underlines-warning-over-brexit-delays-with-lords-visit-1-4371950","id":"1.4371950","articleHeadline": "May underlines warning over Brexit delays with Lords visit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487623546000 ,"articleLead": "

Peers began scrutiny of legislation to trigger Brexit under the gaze of Theresa May after the Prime Minister took the highly unusual step of watching debate in the House of Lords in person.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371949.1487623525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the speaker (top left) as the Brexit Bill debate starts in the House of Lords. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Mrs May sat at the foot of the throne used by the Queen when she addresses parliament and heard the opening remarks in debate on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill.

Speaking earlier in Stoke, where a by-election will be held on Thursday, Mrs May warned Peers not to delay the legislation.

Noting that the bill passed the Commons without any amendments, the Prime Minister said: “I hope that the House of Lords will pay attention to that.

“Properly there will be debate and scrutiny in the House of Lords, but I don’t want to see anybody holding up what the British people want... which is for us to deliver Brexit, to leave the European Union.”

Opening the debate, Lords leader Baroness Evans of Bowes Park also warned peers against any stalling tactics, telling them the government had a “strong mandate” to trigger Article 50 and start the two-year process of negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.

Labour and Lib Dem lords have pledged to seek amendments to the bill to secure a guarantee for EU citizens living in the UK, and give MPs the chance to reject the UK’s final Brexit terms and vote to send Mrs May back to the negotiating table with Brussels.

“This Bill is not the place to try and shape the terms of our exit, restrict the Government’s hand before in enters into complex negotiations or attempt to re-run the referendum,” Baroness Evans warned.

Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon, said her party “will not block, wreck or sabotage” the legislation, but added: “I have also said neither shall we provide the Government with a blank cheque.”

Baroness Smith said: “It would be irresponsible to merrily wave the Government off to negotiate our future without parliamentary engagement or accountability and merely ask them to return two years later with a deal.”

Lord Hope of Craighead, the former head of the Scottish judiciary and the leader of the independent crossbench peers, said the Bill “leaves many questions unanswered on which we will wish to hold the Government to account,” but added that he would not seek “to tie the Government’s hands” before it started the formal Brexit process.

There was criticism from Brexit-supporting peers, with William Hague turning his fire on former Prime Minister Tony Blair. “Attempts to re-fight that referendum, which have begun a little in the last few days, are a great error,” Lord Hague said. “Asking people to ‘rise up’ to fight Brexit, in the words a few days ago of Mr Blair, are a great mistake.”

Lord Forsyth, the former Scottish Secretary, called the Lib Dems “beached whales swimming against the democratic tide” for seeking a second referendum on the terms of Brexit.

If peers force amendments, the bill will return to the Commons for further debate. The government has said it will keep to its March 31 deadline for triggering Brexit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371949.1487623525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371949.1487623525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the speaker (top left) as the Brexit Bill debate starts in the House of Lords. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May sits behind the speaker (top left) as the Brexit Bill debate starts in the House of Lords. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371949.1487623525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/outlander-star-sam-heughan-voices-support-for-indyref2-1-4371778","id":"1.4371778","articleHeadline": "Outlander star Sam Heughan voices support for indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487613410000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish actor Sam Heughan has taken to Twitter to voice his support for indyref2.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish actor Sam Heughan. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Heughan was responding yesterday to an article tweeted by The Economist calling independence ‘a gamble’ when he appeared to lend his support for a second vote.

The Economist article included an image depicting a bare-chested Tartan Army fan, draped in a Saltire and wearing a Tam O’ Shanter hat.

He retweeted the article, adding ‘Maybe a gamble is needed to move forward for the country? Finally, escape age-old stereotypying and cliché, as portrayed in similar photos?”

It follows a similar tweet after the results of the EU referendum were announced, when Heughan wrote: “Looks like Scotland wants to remain and rest UK wants to go... Time for another independence referendum?”

It’s not the first time the Outlander star has voiced his support for Scottish independence.

Heughan was very active prior to the independence referendum vote in 2014, regularly posting messages and images of support on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hinted that she would announce indyref2 in the coming weeks if Scotland’s relationship with the EU was put at risk by a hard Brexit.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Angus Howarth"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish actor Sam Heughan. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish actor Sam Heughan. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371777.1487613389!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/fifth-of-world-s-food-lost-to-over-eating-or-thrown-away-1-4371543","id":"1.4371543","articleHeadline": "Fifth of world’s food lost to over-eating or thrown away","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487607831000 ,"articleLead": "

Almost a fifth of the world’s food is lost to over-eating and waste, according to a study by the University of Edinburgh.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371542.1487607809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Food waste is greater than previously suggested, study by the University of Edinburgh finds PICTURE: Lewis J Houghton"} ,"articleBody": "

The study found the world’s population consumes around 10 per cent more food than it needs, while almost nine per cent is thrown away or left to spoil - more food wastage than previously thought.

Encouraging people to eat fewer animal products, reduce waste and not exceed their nutritional needs could help to reverse these trends, scientists said.

Efforts to reduce the billions of tonnes lost could improve global food security – ensuring everyone has access to a safe, affordable, nutritious diet’ and help prevent damage to the environment, the team says.

The study which used data collected primarily by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization is published in the journal Agricultural Systems.

Researchers examined ten key stages in the global food system, including food consumption and the growing and harvesting of crops, to quantify losses.

Almost half of harvested crops – or 2.1 billion tonnes – are lost through over-consumption, consumer waste and inefficiencies in production processes.

Livestock production is the least efficient process, with losses of 78 per cent or 840 million tonnes, the team found. Some 1.08 billion tonnes of harvested crops are used to produce 240 million tonnes of edible animal products including meat, milk and eggs.

This stage alone accounts for 40 per cent of all losses of harvested crops, researchers say.

Increased demand for some foods, particularly meat and dairy products, would decrease the efficiency of the food system and could make it difficult to feed the world’s expanding population in sustainable ways, researchers say.

Meeting this demand could cause environmental harm by increasing greenhouse gas emissions, depleting water supplies and causing loss of biodiversity.

Dr Peter Alexander, of the school of geoSciences and Scotland’s Rural College, study leader, said: “Reducing losses from the global food system would improve food security and help prevent environmental harm.

“Until now, it was not known how over-eating impacts on the system. Not only is it harmful to health, we found over-eating is bad for the environment impairing food security.”

Professor Dominic Moran, of the University of York, who was involved in the study, said: “This study also highlights the definition of waste can mean different things to different people.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "sross@scotsman.com" ,"author": "SHN ROSS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371542.1487607809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371542.1487607809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Food waste is greater than previously suggested, study by the University of Edinburgh finds PICTURE: Lewis J Houghton","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Food waste is greater than previously suggested, study by the University of Edinburgh finds PICTURE: Lewis J Houghton","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371542.1487607809!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/poll-conservatives-extend-lead-over-labour-to-18-points-1-4371709","id":"1.4371709","articleHeadline": "Poll: Conservatives extend lead over Labour to 18 points","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487606541000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May’s Conservatives have extended their poll lead over Labour to 18 points, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371708.1487606520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May's party holds a commanding lead over Labour. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The ICM poll for The Guardian - released days ahead of crucial by-elections in Copeland and Stoke Central - put Tories on 44 per cent nationwide (up two points since a similar survey two weeks ago) and Labour on 26 per cent (down one).

The Tories have enjoyed a larger lead in just three polls in this series, which dates back to 1983, said ICM.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Two of these came shortly before the 1983 general election, when Michael Foot went down to a crushing defeat at the hands of Margaret Thatcher, and the other at a low-point in Gordon Brown’s premiership in 2008.

Labour’s support was just one point above its worst ratings in the series - 25 per cent in June 2008 and August 2009. But Conservatives remain below their peak of 47.5 per cent recorded in 1983.

Ukip was up one point on 13 per cent and Liberal Democrats down two on 8 per cent, while Greens were unchanged at 4 per cent.

• ICM Unlimited interviewed 2,028 adults between 17 and 19 February 2017.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Andrew Woodcock"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371708.1487606520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371708.1487606520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May's party holds a commanding lead over Labour. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May's party holds a commanding lead over Labour. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371708.1487606520!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-voters-rate-negotiations-a-low-government-priority-1-4371679","id":"1.4371679","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Voters rate negotiations a low government priority","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1487605547000 ,"articleLead": "

Voters regard renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with the European Union as a low priority for Government, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371678.1487605525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Renegotiating Britain's relationship with the EU is a low priority for the government, according to voters. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Despite preparations for Brexit increasingly dominating the political agenda ahead of the two-year withdrawal negotiations under Article 50 of the EU treaties, the issue was ranked tenth out of 10 policy areas in terms of importance, well behind healthcare, economic growth and social care for the elderly.

The public was split over hopes for the Brexit negotiations, with 31 per cent saying it was important to restrict migration from other EU countries and 30 per cent to reduce the role of the European courts in Britain’s judicial process, against 29 per cent who said the priority should be maintaining access to the single market.

Some 47 per cent said they expected Brexit to have had a positive impact on the UK in five years’ time, compared to 32 per cent who expect its impact to be negative.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Luke Taylor, head of social and political attitudes at Kantar Public UK, said, “The public are polarised on what the Brexit negotiations should focus on.

“A similar proportion of respondents rank migration and keeping access to the single market as the main priorities, and yet the two demands are seemingly at odds with one another.

“Moreover, our latest data shows that it is issues closer to home, like healthcare and social care, that voters want the Government to focus on the most.

“This latest survey from Kantar Public therefore highlights just how difficult it is for the Government to manage and meet public expectations at this time.”

The survey also suggested that people are increasingly certain Brexit will happen, with 66 per cent saying they were “confident” the Government will follow through on last June’s referendum vote - up from 49 per cent in November.

• Kantar Public questioned 1,207 adults between 9 and 13 February.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Andrew Woodcock"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4371678.1487605525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4371678.1487605525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Renegotiating Britain's relationship with the EU is a low priority for the government, according to voters. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Renegotiating Britain's relationship with the EU is a low priority for the government, according to voters. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4371678.1487605525!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}