{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-conservatives-hitting-the-panic-button-says-snp-msp-1-4587905","id":"1.4587905","articleHeadline": "Scottish Conservatives ‘hitting the panic button’, says SNP MSP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508157437000 ,"articleLead": "

Ruth Davidson is planning to recruit a new wave of ‘high calibre’ Tory candidates ahead of the 2021 Holyrood elections, party sources have claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587904.1508144888!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson plans to form a 'government in waiting', party sources claim. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Conservative leader is reportedly eager to replace underperforming MSPs in her party and form a “government-in-waiting” ready to take on the SNP at the polls.

Party bosses hope to encourage new candidates from a variety of backgrounds to replace some of the intake at the last Scottish Parliament elections in 2016.

The SNP said the party was ‘reaching for the panic button’ after a recent poll found the Tories third on a list of voting intentions after the Nationalists and Labour.

“Strength in depth is an issue,” a Tory source told The Scottish Sun.

“Quite a few MSPs who came in in 2016 aren’t up to scratch. We need to be ready for government with high-calibre talent.

“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes.”

Another source said: “There are high-flying people who are looking at Ruth, the direction we’re taking, and liking what they see. The challenge is to get them on board.

“We are on to something good here, but the challenge is to turn ourselves from the strong opposition to a government-in-waiting.”

A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: “Last year we brought in fresh talent, including many people who had never before been involved in front-line politics.

“That’s an approach we intend to build on leading up to the general election in 2021.”

SNP MSP Sandra White claimed the Tories were ‘falling fast’ under Ruth Davidson.

She said: “It’s no surprise that the Tory hierarchy are reaching for the panic button.

“Clearly the Tories privately admit what everyone else knows – the more people see of Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives, the less they like them. However with Tory MSPs already unhappy with their leader’s failing performance it might be Ruth Davidson and not her MSPs who ends up as the lame duck.

“It doesn’t matter who stands for the Tories, changing the personnel won’t hide the fact that they are trying to force Scotland off an economic cliff-edge with their disastrous, chaotic approach to Brexit and punishing ordinary families with their right wing commitment to benefit cuts and the disaster that is universal credit. They should be worrying about the jobs and incomes of ordinary Scots not their own jobs.”

READ MORE: Edinburgh is Scotland’s economic powerhouse, research shows

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587904.1508144888!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587904.1508144888!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Davidson plans to form a 'government in waiting', party sources claim. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson plans to form a 'government in waiting', party sources claim. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587904.1508144888!/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-to-appear-at-scottish-independence-rally-in-edinburgh-1-4588032","id":"1.4588032","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond to appear at Scottish independence rally in Edinburgh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508152876000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Salmond will be among the speakers at a major gathering of independence supporters taking place in Edinburgh next month.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588031.1508151012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mr Salmond will join delegates at the Scottish Independence Convention in Edinburgh. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The former SNP leader will join more than a thousand pro-Yes campaigners at the revamped Scottish Independence Convention (SIC), which takes place at the Usher Hall on November 4.

Mr Salmond will join Scottish Greens co-convener Maggie Chapman, social security minister Jeane Freeman and Scotsman columnist Lesley Riddoch at the event, which aims to “build bridges to independence”.

Organisers said it would “outline practical steps that we can take to build bridges between ourselves and those who are not yet supporters of independence”.

Among the subjects up for debate will be a voter survey commissioned by the SIC and undertaken by Dr Iain Black of Heriot-Watt University.

The SIC was established in 2005 but became dormant following the launch of the cross-party Yes Scotland campaign ahead of the 2014 referendum.

Following the No vote, the SIC was relaunched in 2016 with the aim of building consensus ahead of a potential IndyRef2.

More than 1,000 tickets - at £15 a head - have been sold for the rally next month, organisers said.

Poet Alan Bissett and musician Eddi Reader will also perform at the Edinburgh concert hall.

“We believe it is important that we offer activities, advice, research and a forum for discussion for the Yes movement” an SIC spokesman said in July.

“To do that we must build broad consensus across the movement including the pro-independence parties before we make any of our plans public.”

Nicola Sturgeon shelved any immediate plans for a second referendum in the summer after her part lost 21 MPs at the snap general election, including Mr Salmond and Westminster leader Angus Roberson.

The First Minister said the Scottish Government would “reset” its plan for indyref2 and would not introduce her Referendum Bill “immediately” after the vote on June 6.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “It won’t go unnoticed that Alex Salmond couldn’t be bothered with the SNP conference, but wants to be the main event at this convention.

“It seems after his defeat in 2014 he just can’t let it go.

“Even losing his Westminster seat hasn’t awoken him to the fact the people of Scotland don’t want another referendum.

“Instead, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP should be taking it off the table completely.”

READ MORE: Scottish Independence Convention brings together Yes groups in Glasgow

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588031.1508151012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588031.1508151012!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mr Salmond will join delegates at the Scottish Independence Convention in Edinburgh. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mr Salmond will join delegates at the Scottish Independence Convention in Edinburgh. Picture: John Devlin/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588031.1508151012!/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/snp-economic-group-to-recommend-creation-of-scottish-pound-1-4588084","id":"1.4588084","articleHeadline": "SNP economic group to ‘recommend creation of Scottish pound’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508184215000 ,"articleLead": "

An economic advisory group set up by Nicola Sturgeon in the wake of the Brexit vote is set to recommend that an independent Scotland launches its own currency, one of the party’s former MPs has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4552324.1508153582!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNPs Growth Commission are expected to propose the creation of a Scottish pound. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

George Kerevan, a former member of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, said “little birds” had told him the SNP’s Growth Commission is going to propose the creation of a Scottish pound.

The Commission, which is being chaired by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, has been tasked with exploring the possible economic policies of an independent Scotland.

READ MORE: Hard Brexit ‘threatens scientific research’ at Scots universities

The group of 14 economists, business leaders and politicians was set up by Ms Sturgeon in September last year and has been exploring how to grow Scotland’s economy after Brexit.

The Commission’s final report is now thought to be nearing completion, with Mr Kerevan saying a 400-page document with “three chunky appendices” had been delivered to the First Minister.

“Let us say it loud and clear: in arguing the case for independence in the next referendum, a basic red line is that Scotland has its own currency, sets its own interest and exchange rate, and regulates its own banks,” the former MP for East Lothian wrote in the National newspaper.

“The Growth Report, according to some little birds, might be proposing a separate Scottish currency but keeping our exchange rate tied to sterling as an interim measure. In other words, a Scots pound would equal one English pound.”

Mr Kerevan said he was unconvinced by this proposal, claiming that it could be seen as “keeping sterling in disguise”. He added that the case for independence ahead of 2014’s referendum had been “fatally wounded” by the proposal that Scotland would keep the UK pound.

READ MORE: Brian Monteith: Nicola Surgeon’s state energy company will never fly

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Brexit crisis more calamitous than most imagine

“The London markets would immediately test the will of the Scottish Central Bank to keep the Scots and English pounds equal by flogging off ours, thus draining our reserves,” he wrote. “Why give them a hostage to fortune?”

The former MP called on Ms Sturgeon to publish the findings of the Growth Commission as soon as possible, with the aim of setting off a “wider public debate” within the SNP and the independence movement.

However, he added that the First Minister would probably delay the publication until next year, as she would not want to distract from the Scottish Government’s draft Budget for 2018-19, due to be published in December.

Asked for an update on the progress of the report in August, Ms Sturgeon said it was still unfinished but insisted that she was planning to publish it “in full”.

The SNP have been approached for comment.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Chris Green"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4552324.1508153582!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4552324.1508153582!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNPs Growth Commission are expected to propose the creation of a Scottish pound. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNPs Growth Commission are expected to propose the creation of a Scottish pound. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4552324.1508153582!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1504611144716"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-talks-must-accelerate-theresa-may-agrees-with-eu-1-4588548","id":"1.4588548","articleHeadline": "Brexit talks must ‘accelerate’, Theresa May agrees with EU","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508182706000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May and EU leaders last night agreed that Brexit talks “should accelerate over the months to come” as devolved administrations called on the UK government to rule out leaving the EU without a Brexit deal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588547.1508184899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street to travel to Brussels for a dinner with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Carl Court/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

• READ MORE: What is ‘no deal Brexit’ and what does it mean for Scotland?

The Prime Minister made a last-ditch appeal to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to allow deadlocked talks to move on from the UK’s financial commitments and discuss a free trade agreement and transition period.

Amid growing calls from pro-Brexit Conservative MPs for the government to abandon the talks without a deal, ministers from the devolved governments in Edinburgh and Cardiff warned a no-deal Brexit must be taken off the table.

Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell said a no-deal Brexit was “impossible to imagine” – but Scottish Secretary David Mundell claimed the UK government “can’t control” whether it gets a deal from the EU or not.

Last night’s dinner in Brussels, which was attended by Brexit negotiators David Davis and Michel Barnier, was announced at the last minute and kept off public diaries. It comes ahead of a summit of EU leaders this week that will decide on Friday whether talks on trade and a post-Brexit transition can begin.

Emerging from a meeting in London with Mrs May’s deputy on devolution after Brexit, Mr Russell warned that leaving the EU without a deal would deal a huge blow to Scotland’s economy.

He said: “We made it very clear, both from Wales and from Scotland, to David Davis that as he goes to Brussels he must take a very strong message: that it would be impossible to imagine no deal, and it would be immensely damaging.”

However, Mr Mundell suggested it was out of the government’s hands whether a deal is secured or not.

He said: “We can’t control whether there’s a deal. There are 27 other parties in this negotiation, but we’re not planning or preparing to have no deal, we want there to be a deal, but it would be wrong not to take steps to plan for that contingency, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

The UK government has refused to confirm the existence of impact assessments reported to show the economies of Scotland and the north-east of England will be hardest hit by Brexit.

Mr Russell is understood to have asked to see the government’s data during yesterday’s meeting with First Secretary of State Damian Green, but was told assessments only cover different economic sectors, not regions of the UK.

The Prime Minister also spoke yesterday by phone with the leaders of France and Ireland about the need for progress in Brexit talks.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588547.1508184899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588547.1508184899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street to travel to Brussels for a dinner with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Carl Court/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Downing Street to travel to Brussels for a dinner with European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker. Carl Court/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588547.1508184899!/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/education/hard-brexit-threatens-scientific-research-at-scots-universities-1-4587668","id":"1.4587668","articleHeadline": "Hard Brexit ‘threatens scientific research’ at Scots universities","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508142738000 ,"articleLead": "

European research collaboration worth billions of pounds to UK universities “cannot exist” if free movement comes to an end under a ‘hard Brexit’, the European Commissioner for science and innovation has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587878.1508142741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Carlos Moedas said UK participation in the flagship Horizon 2020 programme hinges on the governments approach to immigration after Brexit"} ,"articleBody": "

Carlos Moedas, who begins a visit to Scotland today, said UK participation in the flagship Horizon 2020 programme that has pumped £210 million into Scottish universities hinges on the government’s approach to immigration after Brexit.

The UK government says it wants to take part in EU science programmes, but universities in Scotland and across the UK are growing increasingly alarmed at the lack of progress towards securing agreement, with talks in Brussels deadlocked over the UK’s “divorce bill”.

Academics face a December deadline to apply for the next round of European funding. However, amid growing speculation that talks could fail to reach any agreement, Mr Moedas also warned a no-deal scenario could see British researchers abruptly lose their funding and be forced off EU-backed projects.

“I am a strong believer in scientific collaboration and free movement. Good science cannot exist without these conditions,” Mr Moedas said.

“So I am very aware of the concerns of researchers in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, including the major uncertainties that Brexit is causing.

“The Commission is doing its best to address these, within a very difficult political context. But we have no other choice than to note, also, that the UK – as to date – has been very clear that they intend to put an end to free movement. We cannot ignore this. Let’s see what comes out of the negotiations. This is largely in the hands of the UK.”

Prime Minister Theresa May has said the UK will leave the single market in March 2019, bringing the free movement of people from the EU to an end. Free movement was at the centre of a three-year row between the EU and Switzerland, which was part-suspended from the group of 14 non-EU countries that play a full part in Horizon 2020 and whose researchers and universities can receive European funding.

Hundreds of millions of euros worth of grants were put in jeopardy after a 2014 referendum which called on the Swiss government to negotiate its treaty with the EU that accepts free movement rules.

Switzerland was only readmitted to the group of ‘associate’ Horizon 2020 countries after ruling out any cap on migration from the EU in law.

“I am a strong believer in scientific collaboration and free movement. Good science cannot exist without these conditions,” Mr Moedas said.

“So I am very aware of the concerns of researchers in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, including the major uncertainties that Brexit is causing.

“The Commission is doing its best to address these, within a very difficult political context. But we have no other choice than to note, also, that the UK – as to date – has been very clear that they intend to put an end to free movement.

“We cannot ignore this. Let’s see what comes out of the negotiations. This is largely in the hands of the UK.”

A growing number of pro-Brexit Conservative MPs are calling on the government to consider pulling out of the EU without a deal and begin making preparations for talks to fail.

Last week, the Commission warned British applicants for Horizon 2020 funds that under a no-deal Brexit, UK researchers on European projects “will cease to be eligible to receive EU funding… or be required to leave the project”.

“For the moment, nothing changes,” Mr Moedas said. “Until the UK leaves, its researchers, universities, organisations, and companies are eligible to participate and receive funding in Horizon 2020.

“But the eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. This is why it was important to be transparent and inform UK-based applicants now that if the UK withdraws from the EU without concluding a withdrawal agreement they may be required to leave the project and no longer receive funding.

“For projects for which the grant agreement is signed after the withdrawal takes effect, UK participants will be treated as entities established in a third country.

“Under Horizon 2020 rules, projects are open to participants from third countries, but only in addition to the minimum number of EU partners, and such third country participants would not normally receive funding.

“It is evidently too early to speculate on what could be the terms of UK entities’ participation to the EU programmes after withdrawal.”

Mr Moedas called on universities and academics to lobby the government to ensure that the UK is part of the successor to the Horizon 2020 programme, which runs to the end of the decade.

“The importance of science for our societies and economies has been a core value for Europe, the UK and Scotland,” he said. “So I deeply hope that our close partnership that has achieved so much will continue in some form, within the conditions to be achieved in the negotiations.

“I am coming to Scotland at a time when we start preparing a successor programme to Horizon 2020. I hope that the next framework programme will be larger, even more open and more ambitious.

“And my message to UK and Scottish researchers, universities and companies would be that they should engage with our work and help us form the best research programme the world has seen.

“They should also tell their politicians and those around Europe how important research and innovation is to the future of our continent as well as the world.”

SNP foreign affairs spokesman Stephen Gethins MP wrote to the UK Government last week calling for clarity on the UK’s future involvement in EU science programmes.

Mr Gethins said: “So far, the UK government has only confirmed that it will underwrite funding received through the research programme for projects confirmed before the UK leaves the EU – meaning that our universities could lose out on millions of pounds in funding after Brexit.

“The UK government’s plans for a hard Brexit and repeated threats of a no-deal scenario will hit Scotland disproportionately hard - with our world class research and innovation programmes potentially taking a big hit.”

Mr Moedas will today deliver a lecture the MacCormick European Lecture at the Royal Society of Edinburgh today, on ‘The Future of EU Research and Innovation’.

Tomorrow he will take part in a roundtable discussion with leading Scottish innovators alongside Scottish Government business minister Paul Wheelhouse. He is also set to meet young pioneers from the robotics, renewable energy and space sectors who are based in Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587878.1508142741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587878.1508142741!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Carlos Moedas said UK participation in the flagship Horizon 2020 programme hinges on the governments approach to immigration after Brexit","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Carlos Moedas said UK participation in the flagship Horizon 2020 programme hinges on the governments approach to immigration after Brexit","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587878.1508142741!/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/scottish-and-uk-ministers-clash-over-power-grab-claims-1-4588483","id":"1.4588483","articleHeadline": "Scottish and UK ministers clash over ‘power grab’ claims","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508176214000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government has rejected claims by Theresa May’s deputy that the UK Government has ended fears of a Westminster “power grab” after Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588482.1508176217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell"} ,"articleBody": "

Talks between the UK and devolved administrations yesterday resulted in a commitment to respect the devolution settlement when agreeing how to assign new responsibilities returning from Brussels, but failed to lift the threat of a constitutional crisis over Brexit legislation.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have raised serious concerns over the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which will see EU responsibilities in areas which would normally fall to devolved governments initially transferred to Westminster.

First Secretary of State Damian Green claimed progress meant “talk of a power grab is now behind us”. However, Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell said: “We remain unable to recommend the Scottish Parliament consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill as currently drafted and will not be able to do so until the power grab is removed from the bill.

“I have and will continue to press for the amendments suggested by ourselves and the Welsh Government to be accepted, removing the power grab and providing a clear solution that respects devolution.”

The UK Government has said it is necessary to bring powers back to Westminster before devolving them in order to develop common frameworks and prevent trade barriers being created within the UK.

Mr Green described the meeting as “very constructive” and “successful”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4588482.1508176217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4588482.1508176217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Brexit minister Michael Russell","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4588482.1508176217!/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/edinburgh-is-scotland-s-economic-powerhouse-research-shows-1-4587664","id":"1.4587664","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh is Scotland’s economic powerhouse, research shows","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508138582000 ,"articleLead": "

Edinburgh’s position as Scotland’s economic powerhouse has been unveiled by new research which shows business activity in the heart of the capital tops other parts of the country.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587663.1508134810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburghs hospitality sector has been boosted by the success of its festivals. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Edinburgh Central Holyrood constituency has more businesses than anywhere else in Scotland it has emerged, with analysis by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) finding the area is home to over 7,000 firms.

Neighbouring Edinburgh Pentlands has the fastest growing local business community in the country.

Three of the five Scottish Parliament constituencies with the fastest growing business communities were found to be in the capital.

Tory leader Ruth Davidson, the MSP for Edinburgh Central, said: “It’s great to see Edinburgh Central top the list as Scotland’s most enterprising constituency and it confirms the capital’s reputation 
as a world-leading destination and a global financial powerhouse.

“Like all cities across the UK, the last few years have been challenging, but firms across Edinburgh have shown real resilience to keep going. With so much redevelopment now on track across the city, the future looks set fair.”

The ongoing success of the capital’s festivals has helped boost the hospitality sector in the city, while the strength of the financial and corporate sector remains strong as it continues to recover from the crash.

Gordon McDonald, who represents Edinburgh Pentlands, said the increased influence of leading universities in the constituency at Heriot-Watt and Napier has been a “key factor” in hike in activity across the area.

But Andy Willox of the FSB pointed to the success of less affluent areas like Glasgow Provan, which has seen the second biggest spike in growth, with Motherwell and Wishaw sitting seventh.

“While you might expect densely populated wealthy areas to have a large business population, it is interesting to see so many traditionally less affluent areas snapping at their heels,” he said.

“No matter their party or geography, Scotland’s MSPs know the vital contribution that smaller firms make to their constituencies’ economies and local communities. But we know that some in business are too modest for their own good.

“That’s why we’re launching these awards to find the best small business talent.”

The figures have been collated ahead of the FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards 2018 to identify the country’s best smaller firms in January.

Constituencies with largest business population

Rank / constituency / No. of biz (2016)

1Edinburgh Central7,065

2Glasgow Kelvin6,715

3Aberdeenshire West4,720

4Aberdeen Central4,260

5Aberdeenshire East4,205

6Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch3,900

7Caithness, Sutherland and Ross3,885

8Banffshire and Buchan Coast3,465

9Aberdeen South and North Kincardine3,295

10Stirling3,270

Constituencies with biggest business growth

Rank / constituency / growth in biz 2010-2016

1Edinburgh Pentlands48%

2Glasgow Provan43%

3Edinburgh Eastern40%

4Edinburgh Northern and Leith37%

5Glasgow Anniesland35%

6Aberdeen South and North Kincardine31%

7Motherwell and Wishaw31%

8 (=)Strathkelvin and Bearsden30%

8 (=)Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse30%

8 (=)Edinburgh Western30%

8 (=)Almond Valley30%

8 (=)Glasgow Maryhill and Springburn30%

8 (=)Cumbernauld and Kilsyth30%

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587663.1508134810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587663.1508134810!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Edinburghs hospitality sector has been boosted by the success of its festivals. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburghs hospitality sector has been boosted by the success of its festivals. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587663.1508134810!/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/motorists-who-cause-death-by-dangerous-driving-face-life-sentences-1-4587670","id":"1.4587670","articleHeadline": "Motorists who cause death by dangerous driving face life sentences","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508137420000 ,"articleLead": "

Road safety campaigners have welcomed a decision to introduce life sentences for killer drivers as a “major victory”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587669.1508137423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gary McCourt walks free from the appeal court after it rejected a crown appeal to increase his sentence for the killing of cyclost Audrey Fyfe. Picture: Lesley Donald"} ,"articleBody": "

Motorists who cause fatal accidents while speeding, racing or using a mobile phone behind the wheel currently face a maximum sentence of 14 years. But the penalty is set to be increased after a public consultation showed “substantial backing” for the UK government’s plan.

It follows the Drive For Justice campaign – launched by Johnston Press papers across the country including The Scotsman – which revealed that drivers who kill have been sentenced to an average of just five years in prison, with many escaping jail altogether and no one has been handed the maximum 14-year sentence since Parliament lengthened the sentence from ten years in 2004.

Life sentences will also be introduced for drink and drug drivers if they are convicted of careless driving which results in someone’s death. Ministers also plan to create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “This announcement is a major victory for the families of victims and charities, including Brake, who have tirelessly campaigned for punishments which better fit road crimes that kill and seriously injure people.

“We applaud the government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.”

While Scotland has its own legal system, driving offences are still reserved to Westminster.

Over the period 2006 and 2016 there were 297 convictions for death by dangerous driving in Scotland, with 41 of these in 2015-16 alone.

Recent road casualty figures also showed 191 people were killed on Scotland’s roads in 2016 – an increase of 14 per cent from the previous year.

Scotland Officer minister Lord Duncan said: “Dangerous and careless driving remains a real problem in Scotland. Over the past five years alone there have been 166 convictions for causing death by dangerous driving.

“That is why the UK government is introducing these tougher sentences which will address these senseless crimes that devastate far too many families each year.”

The Drive for Justice investigation found no one had been handed the maximum 14-year sentence for death by dangerous driving since parliament lengthened the sentence from ten years in 2004.

Ministers say the tougher penalties will be part of wider action to clamp down on dangerous and criminal behaviour on our roads.

Comment: Dominic Raab

In a split second, someone’s life can be changed forever.

It could be when they are picking their kids up from school, when making their way home from a night out, or, as it did for Miriam Parker, when walking across the road at a pedestrian crossing.

Miriam, a teenager, was hit by a driver who jumped a red light in 2014.

She spent a month in intensive care, underwent five major operations and had to re-learn to walk, talk and eat. The driver received a fine and a driving ban. This is just one example of how in a split second an irresponsible driver can cause carnage to a completely innocent person’s life.

It’s an example too of how our justice system has fallen short in providing for punishments that fit the crime.

Likewise, drivers who bring death and destruction on to our roads because they are speeding, drunk or high on drugs should face the full force of the law.

But too often, victims and their families are left feeling justice has not been done.

Too often, they watch as the defendant who was behind the wheel gets only a handful of months or years in prison or leaves the court with just a fine or a driving ban.

I have heard this anguish from victims first-hand.

That’s why last year, we put forward our proposals in a consultation to increase the powers judges have to hand down tougher sentences in these cases.

The fact that there has been such an overwhelming response – including from victims, bereaved families, road safety groups and charities – shows just how important this issue is to so many.

Today, following that consultation, we are announcing our plans, including two key changes to the law. First, we will bring in tougher penalties for the very worst cases.

An offender who kills someone as a result of driving dangerously or carelessly while under the influence of drink or drugs will face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Second, we will create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. This will allow judges to hand down much tougher penalties in cases like Miriam’s.

Nobody who has inflicted such horrific and life-changing injuries from behind the wheel should only face a fine or a driving ban.

Dominic Raab is UK justice minister

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587669.1508137423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587669.1508137423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gary McCourt walks free from the appeal court after it rejected a crown appeal to increase his sentence for the killing of cyclost Audrey Fyfe. Picture: Lesley Donald","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gary McCourt walks free from the appeal court after it rejected a crown appeal to increase his sentence for the killing of cyclost Audrey Fyfe. Picture: Lesley Donald","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587669.1508137423!/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/brian-monteith-nicola-surgeon-s-state-energy-company-will-never-fly-1-4587613","id":"1.4587613","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: Nicola Surgeon’s state energy company will never fly","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508137272000 ,"articleLead": "

A not-for-profit company is more about chasing a cheap headline than reducing bills, writes Brian Monteith

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587612.1508135337!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she will establish a state-owned not-for-profit energy company to cut the bills of Scottish consumers. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The chasm between nationalism and unionism is now deeper and more bitter than anything achieved by Margaret Thatcher in the eighties.

The reasons are twofold; short of anything positive and credible to say, the SNP’s continuing independence campaign is based wholly upon grievance – while the unionist defence is too often based upon the inconvenient facts that the Scottish economy could not possibly survive the break with the UK. Be under no illusion: we would endure an austerity so severe it would strip the paint from Nicola Sturgeon’s ministerial limousine. The most astonishing thing about this is that some people actually think such an experience would be worth it.

This bi-polar political division gets in the way of good government for there is growing evidence that it clouds our collective judgment about what is good and bad public policy. The well-intentioned but over-the-top criminalisation of singing hateful songs at football matches is but one example. The ludicrous state guardian policy that loads responsibility on an already overburdened social work system is another. Both have been repudiated by votes at Holyrood but still the Scottish Government refuses to repeal them to avoid losing face.

READ MORE: Lack of leadership rivals keeping Sturgeon safe, says Jim Sillars

A more shaming example is the Scottish Government’s decision not to allow the process of fracking that could establish if cheap gas can be produced domestically – at a time when we have some 940,000 souls enduring fuel poverty, of which for a quarter of a million it is extreme fuel poverty.

Now our the SNP leader has compounded these errors by announcing to whoops of delight at her party conference that she will establish a state-owned not-for-profit energy company to cut the bills of Scottish consumers. If ever there was a competition for a policy that best demonstrates how jingoism can subvert the normal process of evaluating what works and what doesn’t, this would be a strong contender.

Call something Scottish and it wins three, or maybe four out of five stars for PR value; call something Scottish that is state-owned and by implication belongs to all of us, and it wins five out of five stars. Unfortunately, as bitter experience has shown, state businesses end up being owned by none of us but are instead captured by those that work for them and the vested interests that manage them. We have been here before when everything in the Seventies that did not work tended to have the prefix “British” and was “owned” by the state but very much managed by the employees’ unions and the corporate bosses for their own benefit. Thankfully Britain has managed to leave behind that sorry period of never-ending strikes, rationing of supply (party telephone lines, anyone?) and build quality worse than a three-year-old’s Stickle Brick car – but the SNP wishes to revive it and paint it tartan.

Those watching Nicola Sturgeon’s speech via social media were quick to ask what the new energy company might be called. Alba Energy was suggested, but I suggest Albatross Energy would be more appropriate. It will have considerable difficulty taking off and it is a harbinger of doom we do not wish to contemplate – our very own Scottish national socialism where an institution is placed beyond criticism because it is state-owned (ours!) and Scottish (ours cubed!).

The quickest way to reduce energy bills is for consumers to check their tariffs and switch to a lower cost supplier – of which there are now many. As the Scientific Alliance has pointed out, two-thirds of household energy bills are gas and there is a very small profit margin on electricity generation. They argue the regulator’s figures show there is only a profit margin of 5 per cent on dual bills of electricity and gas, therefore we cannot expect Albatross Energy to make a huge difference if it cannot cut gas bills – which is governed by the wholesale market.

The lesson here is that attempts to deliver lower bills by publicly-owned companies such as Nottingham Council’s Robin Hood Energy have resulted in the exact opposite – they are not able to move quickly enough or offer the benefits of scale – charging as much as 17 per cent more than the big six suppliers.

A switch to fracked gas will come – but we will now have to rely on imported gas rather than our own – which would have created over 3,000 Scottish jobs and been cheaper and less polluting as it would not have been transported from the US. Crazy does not begin to describe it.

Now let us go beyond theory and look at practice. I have great faith in co-operatives – one of a number of competing capitalist business models – although they usually have to be local in scale to be optimal in maintaining their employee and customer relationships. A state-owned not-for-profit concern is an entirely different animal, rather like a sloth and a dolphin are both mammals but cannot live in each other’s environment.

It so happens there is already a not-for-profit co-operative companies supplying energy – so why replicate what exists? Political grandstanding is the reason – Ms Sturgeon needed a sympathetic headline to distract from her failures elsewhere and intervening in the energy market (just like Theresa May did the week before with her similarly absurd energy cap) provided the ready-made answer.

But surely the state can supply energy better? There will be no need for profit, after all. This ignores the state has to use its own funds to establish and run the organisation, meaning fewer funds for the NHS and schooling – at a time when we have a teacher and GP recruitment crisis, eye-watering waiting lists and primary school classes of thirty-plus have doubled.

If the SNP Government cared genuinely about tackling fuel poverty it would attempt two things; firstly doing all in its power to encourage and help with consumers switching to cheaper deals so this practice is at least at the same level as in the rest of the UK. Secondly, its ministers would campaign for the Chancellor to remove VAT from energy bills the morning after we leave the EU – saving about £70 on an annual bill of £1,344. Unfortunately the SNP want us to rejoin the EU.

As an idea Albatross Energy is already dead in the water.

l Brian Monteith is editor of ThinkScotland.org

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587612.1508135337!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587612.1508135337!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she will establish a state-owned not-for-profit energy company to cut the bills of Scottish consumers. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she will establish a state-owned not-for-profit energy company to cut the bills of Scottish consumers. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587612.1508135337!/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/lesley-riddoch-brexit-crisis-more-calamitous-than-most-imagine-1-4587712","id":"1.4587712","articleHeadline": "Lesley Riddoch: Brexit crisis more calamitous than most imagine","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508135550000 ,"articleLead": "

The Brexit crisis is deeper and more calamitous than most imagine. We must change course now, writes Lesley Riddoch

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587711.1508135552!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Reservoir Dogs (1993) Picture: Live Entertainment / The Kobal Collection"} ,"articleBody": "

Another weekend, another wave of Brexit-related chaos – but perhaps a weekend when MPs finally accept that the future authority of parliamentary democracy depends on their intervention now.

Theresa May has delayed her flagship EU withdrawal bill in the face of a threatened rebellion by pro-European Tory MPs working across party lines to rewrite it. The bill was expected to begin eight days of detailed scrutiny in the Commons this week, but that timetable has slipped as the prime minister tries to head off multiple rebellions.

A Europhile group including former Tory chancellor Kenneth Clarke, several Conservative ex-ministers and prominent Labour, SNP, Liberal Democrat and Green MPs aim to give parliament the ability to veto, or somehow legally prevent a “bad deal” or “no deal” outcome.

Glory be.

At last MPs seem to have woken up to the car crash being perpetrated in their names and have stopped expecting campaigner Gina Miller to defend parliamentary democracy for them.

If Brexit is now visibly falling apart – and it is – MPs in the two main Westminster parties must abandon the blind pursuit of power, abandon the pretence that any aspect of Brexit is on course and accept that the European Referendum of 2016 was advisory not binding. It has suited everyone to ignore this inconvenient detail.

READ MORE: Hard Brexit ‘threatens scientific research’ at Scots universities

The SNP hardly want to create the precedent of allowing Westminster MPs to thwart the popular will expressed in a referendum, but the circumstances surrounding Brexit are now so serious, a rethink is needed. MPs are elected to vote for what they believe to be in the interests of Britain. Yet we have an absurd situation where the majority of MPs believe Brexit to be deeply dangerous, yet allow the parliamentary process to hurple on, knowing that if they insist on change, demand minimum standards of transparency, or try to protect the competence of devolved assemblies and parliaments, they will derail the process hopelessly and entirely.

Yet raise these important issues, MPs must.

Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish MPs still want guarantees that devolved powers transferred from the EU are passed directly to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. And the former Tory attorney-general, Dominic Grieve, is leading pressure for Mrs May to water down sweeping “Henry VIII powers” in the bill which let ministers make big Brexit-related legislative changes without parliamentary scrutiny.

And yet these serious questions aren’t the biggest stumbling blocks.

Internal cabinet bickering has now reached such a crescendo that Theresa May is being pressed to fire both Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson, when she lacks the authority to sack her dry cleaners and cannot possibly hope to keep the “strong and stable” blather going for another week if her Chancellor and Foreign Secretary must be shown the door. In any case, the in-fighting has already done the damage – Theresa May revealed last week that her government is spending £250 million on preparations for a possible “no deal” result because negotiations with Brussels have stalled.

That’s not an inconvenient amber light – that’s a Brexit car in need of a pit stop, or indeed a scrapyard. Already.

The curious thing is the casual way those with recent experience of Westminster describe the developing omnishambles. On John Pienaar’s Sunday Radio 5 Politics programme, the former head of the civil service Sir Bob Kerslake didn’t pull his punches.

“Every time you think [Brexit] can’t get any worse, it does. I’m naturally optimistic but you have to work hard to see glimmers of hope. The cabinet is behaving like a scene from Reservoir Dogs with extra tomato sauce thrown in.

“We need at least a four-year transition period and we are nowhere near starting proper talks about trading relationships because we need to sort the payment issue out. £50 billion looks like a lot of money but in the scheme of government spending, it isn’t. This should simply have been agreed, but Theresa May has been held back by hardliners. Even this critical period for reflection is being eaten up by the dog fight within the Cabinet.”

Meanwhile, Theresa May spent last week wooing Saudi princes and letting it be known that Britain is prepared to bend the rules to let Saudi oil giant Aramco be listed on the London Stock Exchange.

But she’s taken no tough stand against Donald Trump’s decision to impose 300 per cent tariffs on imports of C-Series jets made by the Canadian aircraft manufacturer Bombardier which employs 4,000 people in Northern Ireland.

With “allies” and possible trading partners like these we should be worried. When we survey the world’s countries and discover that only five exist without a regional trade agreement of some kind, we should be very worried. When we realise no other complex issue will be dealt with properly for perhaps a decade as both Holyrood and Westminster are paralysed – voters should react.

Instead, many have completely switched off – not because of the fiendish complexity of Brexit but because the Westminster party system makes a rational solution nigh on impossible. An anonymous comment on a Financial Times article last week explains the predicament perfectly;

“The Labour leadership, while notionally pro-Remain, really want to leave while the Tory leadership, who are pushing through Brexit, are on the whole in favour of remaining. The Labour leadership has to argue half-heartedly for Remain to hold its coalition together and the Conservative leadership has to argue unconvincingly about the benefits of leaving to hold its coalition together.

A significant majority of MPs want to Remain. Most Conservative MPs are in favour of Remain but fear that if they do what is right, and oppose the government, they will pave the way for a Labour government. Most Labour MPs are also in favour of Remain but fear that, if they vote for what they believe in, they will lose seats to the Tories. Many Tories would accept that a Corbyn government, though unpleasant, would be a price worth paying to stop Brexit. Many Labour MPs would see [Corbyn’s] defeat as a price worth paying to save Labour from left wing extremism. But no one can say any of this.”

Correct.

If MPs had been elected by PR, such stagnant “coalitions” would have been broken up. As it is, the survival of the two main parties depends on MPs acting across party lines to pause this disastrous episode and to take back control over Brexit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587711.1508135552!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587711.1508135552!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Reservoir Dogs (1993) Picture: Live Entertainment / The Kobal Collection","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Reservoir Dogs (1993) Picture: Live Entertainment / The Kobal Collection","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587711.1508135552!/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/health/thousands-of-patients-wait-more-than-an-hour-for-an-ambulance-1-4587721","id":"1.4587721","articleHeadline": "Thousands of patients wait more than an hour for an ambulance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508134194000 ,"articleLead": "

Thousands of patients are waiting more than an hour for an ambulance, figures obtained by the Scotsman reveal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587720.1508134197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paramedics took hours to respond to some non life-threatening calls, according to figures obtained by The Scotsman"} ,"articleBody": "

Nearly 2,000 patients with non life-threatening illnesses had to wait over 60 minutes for paramedics in the Lothians last year, with more anticipated around the country.

Health campaigners said the times taken were worrying while ambulance bosses said emergency calls including heart attacks were handled within six minutes on average.
Ambulance chiefs today said that the figures should be seen within the context of nearly 80,000 calls, with only 2.4 per cent waiting over 60 minutes.

Honorary chair of the Scottish Patients Association Margaret Watt said: “I can understand why there’s hours of delay.

“There shouldn’t be but that’s what happens when you’ve not got enough space in the emergency departments to take patients in.”

Ms Watt blamed insufficient A&E rooms causing a backlog, as paramedics are forced to wait with patients until they get signed in at hospital.

“It’s not the fault of the ambulance staff,” said Ms Watt.

“I think it’s a very precarious position because it’s not the fault of people phoning up having heart attacks or strokes either.”

She added: “The system needs to be looked at and ironed out.”

Paramedics took hours to respond to some non life-threatening calls – with one patient in the Craigentinny suburb of Edinburgh waiting nearly nine-and-a-half hours.

There were 15 call-outs over the last year where paramedics took longer than five hours to respond.

One patient with a potentially life-threatening condition waited for more than one hour.

Paramedics aim to reach such emergency calls within eight minutes while targets for non life-threatening calls were abolished last November.

Tory shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said the figures were “extremely concerning”.

“These may be statistics, but behind each one will be a patient who’ll have been caused immense distress,” said Mr Briggs.“When people need an ambulance, they generally expect to see it arrive promptly.”

Ambulance bosses said that they would train 1,000 new paramedics over the next five years to help cut response times.

A Scottish Ambulance spokeswoman said: “Patients with immediately life-threatening conditions, such as cardiac arrest, are prioritised and receive the fastest response.

“Latest figures for September show that we reached these patients on average within 5.44 minutes.

“In less urgent cases, our call handlers may spend more time with patients to better understand the patients health needs and ensure they are sent the most appropriate resource for their condition.

“In these cases, patients may not require to be taken to hospital because their condition is less serious and can be treated either within the home or by onward transportation to an alternative facility.”

The spokeswoman added: “We are moving towards focussing on improving patient outcomes rather than simply measuring the time it takes to respond.

“The statistics being quoted need to be seen within the wider context of nearly 80,000 total calls received by the Ambulance Service over this period, with only 2.4 per cent of these calls waiting over 60 minutes.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDY SHIPLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587720.1508134197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587720.1508134197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paramedics took hours to respond to some non life-threatening calls, according to figures obtained by The Scotsman","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paramedics took hours to respond to some non life-threatening calls, according to figures obtained by The Scotsman","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587720.1508134197!/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/scotland-involved-in-brexit-talks-amid-impasse-with-brussels-1-4587898","id":"1.4587898","articleHeadline": "Scotland involved in Brexit talks amid impasse with Brussels","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508144126000 ,"articleLead": "

Brexit talks with ministers from across the UK will be held in London for the first time in eight months with little sign of any progress.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587896.1508144319!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell\\n. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

A formal group for discussing the exit negotiations was set up to allow Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to have their say but the Government has faced claims it is not treating the devolved administrations with respect.

Damian Green, the Prime Minister’s deputy, insisted he wanted the meeting to be “positive and constructive” but said it should recognise the “importance of preserving” the UK single market.

READ MORE: Hard Brexit ‘threatens scientific research’ at Scots universities

Scottish nationalists, however, will continue to push for the government to give Scotland a legal say on the exit process and drop plans to leave the EU’s single market.

Mr Green will be joined at the Joint Ministerial Committee (EU Negotiations) by Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell and Welsh finance minister Mark Drakeford as well as David Sterling, head of Northern Ireland Civil Service, who is attending following the breakdown in power-sharing.

READ MORE: Brian Monteith: Nicola Surgeon’s state energy company will never fly

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Brexit crisis more calamitous than most imagine

The Government said bilateral meetings and conversations between ministers and officials had been held since the last JMC.

The First Secretary of State said: “These are important talks on the future of the United Kingdom.

“I am looking forward to positive and constructive dialogue that recognises the importance of preserving the UK single market that is so vital for people and businesses in our country.

“I also remain committed to delivering a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration after we leave the European Union.

“I hope in our meeting on Monday we can agree on the principles for common frameworks that will deliver certainty and continuity to people living and doing business in the UK.”

Mr Russell said the Government must reconsider its hard Brexit strategy.

He said: “I hope progress can be made on a number of fronts, for example on recognising the importance of single market membership and amending the EU Withdrawal Bill so the Scottish Parliament can give it consent.

“The UK Government must reconsider its hard Brexit position and the disastrous impact it would have on jobs and living standards and take account of the concerns, shared by Scottish businesses, about the impact of leaving the single market and customs union,” he added.

“Secondly, they must start giving the Scottish Government a real opportunity to contribute to policy papers which affect the whole of the UK.

“Finally, on the EU Withdrawal Bill, progress can made if the amendments suggested by the Scottish and Welsh Governments are accepted.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Sam Lister"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587896.1508144319!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587896.1508144319!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell\\n. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell\\n. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587896.1508144319!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1507899721198"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/calls-for-aung-san-suu-kyi-to-be-stripped-of-edinburgh-freedom-1-4587854","id":"1.4587854","articleHeadline": "Calls for Aung San Suu Kyi to be stripped of Edinburgh freedom","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508140541000 ,"articleLead": "

The Capital’s Lord Provost will write to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on behalf of Edinburgh condemning the violence in the country amidst calls to strip the former peace icon of having the freedom of the city.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587853.1508140144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Institutes across the UK have started to review honours given to Myanmar's First State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi"} ,"articleBody": "

It is understood the Lord Provost has plans to raise a motion at a meeting of the next full council, with a view to writing to Ms Suu Kyi condemning the violence in Myanmar and calling on the leader to use her influence to intervene.

The pro-democracy leader, who was honoured with the Freedom of the City in 2005, has drawn increasing criticism for her silence following the treatment of the country’s Rohingya minority as institutes across the UK have started to review honours awarded to her.

Over half a million Muslim Rohingya have fled across the border to Bangladesh from Buddhist-majority Myanmar since late August, when militant Rohingya attacks led to a violent crackdown by the army.

The council’s former petitions convenor and Greens councillor for Leith, Chas Booth, said elected members should consider removing the honour from Ms Suu Kyi.

He said: “Given what Amnesty International have said about what is happening to the Rohingya people in Mynamar – which has been defined as ethnic cleansing – and given the de facto leader is Aung Sun Suu Kyi she is, in a sense, at least partly responsible for what happens there.

“In which case, we should definitely debate whether it is appropriate for her to have the Freedom of the City.

“The award is only given to people of outstanding achievement and I do wonder whether, given her inaction in the face of the horrific acts against Rohingya people, she still falls into that category.

“So, it’s absolutely right in mind that we debate the issue. I wouldn’t want to prejudge whether the Freedom should indeed be stripped from her but we should absolutely have the debate.”

It is the highest civic honour the city bestows and is granted to individuals who have distinguished themselves or to recognise the respect and high esteem in which they are held by the people of the City.

Aung San Suu Kyi currently joins the Queen, Prince Philip, Sean Connery, Nelson Mandela, Sir Chris Hoy and Professor Peter Higgs to enjoy the rare honour.

The move comes as cities across the country, including Glasgow, London and Oxford, are reconsidering the de facto leader’s inclusion on their honours list.

Ms Suu Kyi, who completed her undergraduate degree at Oxford University, was granted the honour in 1997 for her “struggle for democracy”. But Oxford City Council voted unanimously to support a motion that said it was “no longer appropriate” to celebrate Ms Suu Kyi as the city’s reputation was being “tarnished by honouring those who turn a blind eye to violence”.

fiona.pringle@jpress.co.uk

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587853.1508140144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587853.1508140144!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Institutes across the UK have started to review honours given to Myanmar's First State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Institutes across the UK have started to review honours given to Myanmar's First State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587853.1508140144!/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/transport/million-scots-at-risk-of-transport-poverty-1-4587641","id":"1.4587641","articleHeadline": "Million Scots at risk of ‘transport poverty’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508139598000 ,"articleLead": "

More than one million Scots live in areas that are at risk of ‘transport poverty’, according to new research.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587640.1508138785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "20% of communities at high risk of not having access to essential services. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

The report by Sustrans Scotland found that up to 20 per cent of communities fall into the high risk category when it comes to assessing affordability for transport.

People are deemed at risk of transport poverty when they don’t have access to essential services or work because of a lack of affordable transport options.

The organisation, which promotes walking and cycling, used data on household income, car availability and access to public transport networks to allocate risk ratings to areas across Scotland.

It found that the risk of transport poverty was highest in areas with relatively low income, high car availability and low access to essential services by public transport.

Sustrans Scotland said car ownership can put pressure on households with lower incomes, arguing that cycling could offer an alternative.

The organisation’s national director, John Lauder said: “For many of us, the way we get to the shops, or how we travel to the dentist is something we don’t have to worry about.

“However, for more than one million Scots, these every day trips that most of us take for granted, can be the difference between getting support and services they need or going without. We need a planning system that puts necessary services where people live. People should be able to access shops, schools, healthcare and some places of work within a short distance without the need for a car.

“And whilst offering greater and safer opportunities for people to choose to make the same journey by bike, it will offer an alternative to being dependent on a car for some.”

The findings were welcomed by the Poverty Alliance.

Director Peter Kelly said: “Supporting real alternatives to reliance on cars would bring economic and health across Scotland.

“Too many people living on low incomes have inadequate access to public transport, and other forms of transport sometimes seem out of reach. By providing better, more integrated transport solutions we can reduce the pressure of rising costs for families across Scotland.”

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The Scottish Government continues to increase investment in sustainable transport, encouraging modal shift to active and public transport, rail and new technologies such as low carbon vehicles.

“We know that active travel, and in particular cycling, can help people to access employment opportunities by expanding access to low cost, low carbon transport options. We have invested over £217 million in active travel since the start of the 2011 spending review, including this year, and as announced in the Programme for Government, we have doubled the active travel budget from £40m to £80m a year from 2018-2019.

“This will allow us to continue to build an active nation, boosting investment in walking and cycling and putting active travel at the heart of our transport planning.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LYNSEY BEWS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587640.1508138785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587640.1508138785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "20% of communities at high risk of not having access to essential services. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "20% of communities at high risk of not having access to essential services. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587640.1508138785!/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/lack-of-leadership-rivals-keeping-sturgeon-safe-jim-sillars-1-4587409","id":"1.4587409","articleHeadline": "Lack of leadership rivals keeping Sturgeon safe - Jim Sillars","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508089019000 ,"articleLead": "

Former SNP Deputy leader Jim Sillars has suggested that only a lack of candidates to challenge Nicola Sturgeon for the SNP leadership is keeping her safe in the post.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587408.1508067464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jim Sillars says there are no candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon"} ,"articleBody": "

The veteran independence campaigner also says there should not be another independence referendum for at least five years to allow Nationalists to reframe the case for a Yes vote.

Mr Sillars criticised Ms Sturgeon's judgement in pushing for a second referendum after the Brexit vote, insisting it caused the loss of 21 seats which the party suffered in this year's Westminster election. The party still won 31 of Scotland's 59 seats.

\"She's the only one we've got at the present time,\" Mr Sillars said on BBC Scotland's Politics Show today when asked if Ms Sturgeon should remain as leader.

\"Suppose Nicola was knocked over by a bus this afternoon where are the candidates of the necessary stature to take over the leadership of the SNP?

\"She's what we've got at the present time and I would like to see her improve.\"

He added: \"If there was someone better around who had the intellectual capability to understand that you've got analyse things first before you take a decision, yes I think she should step aside.

\"But there's no-one there at the moment.\"

Ms Sturgeon has indicated a second referendum is likely before the end of the current Parliament n 2021, but Mr Sillars said this is premature.

\"I'm for a second independence referendum but you cannot actually have one sensibly until you know exactly what the Brexit deal is in detail and then take time to assess it and take time to actually formulate an argument for independence.

\"We're in a new paradigm

\"What was in 2014 will no longer be the case after Brexit, so we have to have a new thinking of the structure which we put to the Scottish people.\"

A \"post-mortem\" is needed on the reasons for defeat in the first referendum, he said, or the Yes side will lose again.

He added: \"You're probably '22/'23 before you actually have the referendum.\"

This could mean the pro-independence majority is lost at the Scottish Parliament which would derail the prospect of a vote happening.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587408.1508067464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587408.1508067464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jim Sillars says there are no candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jim Sillars says there are no candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587408.1508067464!/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/uk/mps-can-stop-no-deal-brexit-says-labour-s-john-mcdonnell-1-4587344","id":"1.4587344","articleHeadline": "MPs can stop no-deal Brexit, says Labour’s John McDonnell","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508062225000 ,"articleLead": "

Tory MPs are in talks with Labour to prevent Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, John McDonnell has suggested.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587343.1508062163!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John McDonnell has claimed Tory rebels could be working with Labour. Picture; BBC"} ,"articleBody": "

The shadow chancellor said he believes Theresa May lacks a majority in the House of Commons for no deal, adding he is “not willing to countenance” such an outcome.

He expects moves to guarantee in law a “meaningful vote” on the outcome of Brexit talks will secure a Commons majority.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is notably absent from the Commons schedule for the week ahead, with the Government saying it wants to closely evaluate some 300 amendments and more than 50 new clauses proposed.

READ MORE: Government refuses to confirm if it analysed the impact of Brexit

Mr McDonnell told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show: “I don’t think there’s a majority for no deal. I think on a cross-party basis you’ll see in the debates in the coming week - the Government will get the message, there will be a deal.”

Asked if the Commons could stop the Government over no deal, Mr McDonnell said: “I don’t believe there’s a majority in the House of Commons for a no deal and I think the Government needs to recognise that.”

He added: “When we amend the legislation, which I think we will, I think there’s a majority to do that, to have a meaningful vote.

“That’s what we’ve said all the way along. We’ll be able to say to Government whatever you’re negotiating, it’ll not be on the basis of no deal because the damage to this economy will be so great.”

Mr McDonnell claimed the Tories are “fighting among themselves” rather than negotiating with the EU.

When told Labour cannot stop this, Mr McDonnell replied: “Parliament can. They haven’t got a majority to get through a no deal situation.

“If we amend the legislation for Parliament to have a meaningful vote, it’ll force the Government to negotiate - come to their senses, negotiate properly.”

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Ireland first in line for Brexit betrayal

Asked if this included talks with Tory MPs, Mr McDonnell replied: “There are discussions going right the way across the House.”

Pressed when the vote will be, the Labour MP said: “Shall I tell you why we’re not seeing a vote next week?

“Not because there’s 300 amendments that have been put down - most of them actually their own side - but because they’re now negotiating with their own backbenchers on just how much they can get through.

“They’re more interested in negotiating to save the Conservative Party than they are in the interests of the country.

“That’s why I think actually it’s a disgrace. They should come to their senses, behave responsibly and look after the interests of the country.”

Chris Grayling said Mr McDonnell was “talking a lot of complete nonsense” when he suggested there was enough support in the Commons to stop the Government taking the no deal route.

“Parliament has already voted to leave the European Union,” the Tory MP told Marr.

“John McDonnell threatening to derail this bill is John McDonnell threatening to create the kind of chaotic Brexit he himself is warning against.”

He insisted Britain will “succeed whatever happens” but said it would be bad for the EU if no agreement was struck.

The Government is planning for all eventualities, the Transport Secretary added.

Asked what would happen to food prices if there was no deal, he told Marr: “It would mean that producers, supermarkets bought more at home, that British farmers produced more, that they bought more from around the world and it would damage French producers and continental producers.”

Mr Grayling said the negotiations were where he “expected them to be” and insisted no one had believed they would be done in “half an hour”.

“This was always going to be a long and difficult negotiation,” he said.

Mr Grayling was played a clip of a previous interview he gave in which he said he had “no doubt at all” the UK would continue to trade tariff-free with the EU.

“I still agree with myself,” he told the programme.

Flights “will carry on” even if the negotiations fail, he said.

Despite weeks of Tory turmoil over Brexit, Mr Grayling insisted the Cabinet is united on wanting the best deal for Britain but said the Government must be “upbeat” about the future.

He dismissed suggestions Chancellor Philip Hammond was sabotaging Brexit.

Asked if he should be sacked, Mr Grayling said: “In a month’s time the Chancellor is going to deliver a very important budget for this country and I’m working with him and we are all behind him in delivering that.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587343.1508062163!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587343.1508062163!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John McDonnell has claimed Tory rebels could be working with Labour. Picture; BBC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John McDonnell has claimed Tory rebels could be working with Labour. Picture; BBC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587343.1508062163!/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/regions/inverness-highlands-islands/snp-mp-criticises-botched-universal-credit-pilot-in-highland-constituency-1-4587306","id":"1.4587306","articleHeadline": "SNP MP criticises ‘botched’ universal credit pilot in Highland constituency","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508057919000 ,"articleLead": "

An SNP MP has urged the Prime Minister to hear first-hand the “horrifying” stories of those struggling under the roll-out of universal credit in Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587305.1508057922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Drew Hendry has criticised the universal credit pilot."} ,"articleBody": "

Drew Hendry said a pilot of the single monthly payment in his constituency of Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey had been “nothing short of a disaster” and a “personal catastrophe” for many.

He has written to Theresa May to invite her to attend a summit in Inverness next month to hear from constituents directly affected by the “botched” roll-out.

READ MORE: Scotland is ‘open for business’ - Keith Brown

Mr Hendry said these included a woman named Abbey whose payments were stopped when she went on maternity leave, leaving her owing £2,000 in rent arrears and surviving on food vouchers during the four months it took to fix the error.

Another constituent, a single mum-of-two with cancer named Leanne, waited six weeks for payment only for the amount to be more than £500 short.

“Shamefully, the DWP then demanded she attended a work capability assessment - against the advice of her furious GP,” the letter said.

Another expectant mother named Rachael waited for payment from Christmas until April as the result of a mistake, leaving her close to being evicted for £1,500 of housing arrears, and was then asked to make a round trip of 200 miles from Inverness to Aberdeen to sort out the problem.

The MP said in a further case a constituent named John was evicted from his home due to months without payment.

Mr Hendry said more than 60% of his constituent caseload was related to universal credit, with his office alone dealing with more than 200 cases.

“Many of these people have come to me as a last resort - when they have nowhere left to turn, having already waited months for payment,” he wrote.

“Rent arrears, first time debt, evictions, long delays to payments, short payments, lost sick notes, misplaced documents, failure to respond, confusion between departments, crushed morale of Job Centre staff- and an inability to respond to common sense are rife.”

Commenting on the letter, the MP added: ‘’I want the prime minister to hear from my constituents, local authority staff, and the third sector and to work with us to stop this awful mess.

“On a daily basis now I hear utterly horrifying stories of financial hardships - evictions - and personal humiliation.

‘’The roll-out of universal credit has been nothing short of a disaster - and for those it has failed it has been a personal catastrophe.

‘’I have consistently urged the UK government to act on the mountain of evidence, including from their own agencies and delivery partners, on the harm this shambles is causing.

‘’It isn’t working. It never has. The Tories know it and they must halt it now.

“Theresa May or any of her ministers should really come and hear the testimony from those suffering because of universal credit.’’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587305.1508057922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587305.1508057922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Drew Hendry has criticised the universal credit pilot.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Drew Hendry has criticised the universal credit pilot.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587305.1508057922!/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/scotland-is-open-for-business-keith-brown-1-4587296","id":"1.4587296","articleHeadline": "Scotland is ‘open for business’ - Keith Brown","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508055133000 ,"articleLead": "

The Economy Secretary will seek to strengthen Scotland’s international ties in the face of Brexit on a visit to the US and Canada next week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587295.1508055136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Keith Brown will seek to strengthen Scotlands international ties in the face of Brexit on a visit to the US and Canada next week."} ,"articleBody": "

Keith Brown will hold a series of engagements with the business communities in Ottawa, Toronto, New Jersey and New York in an effort to boost diplomatic ties with both countries.

Mr Brown said he would reassure investors Scotland was “open for business” during the tour, focusing on sectors including tourism and food and drink.

Canada is one of Scotland’s top inward investors, with around 3,600 people employed by Canadian-owned businesses.

READ MORE: Keith Brown under pressure to kick start Scottish economy

Meanwhile America is Scotland’s second largest export partner, worth £4.56 billion a year and making up 15.9% of all international exports.

Mr Brown said: “With two of the largest and most advanced economies in the world in North America, the Scottish Government is keen to explore new opportunities there, and build on existing connections.

READ MORE: Scotland’s economy escapes recession and out performs UK

“Given the UK’s decision to leave the single market, the importance of strengthening those ties has taken on greater significance.

“I plan to reassure US and Canadian investors that Scotland remains open for business, and is a welcoming country with an international outlook.”

During the visit the economy secretary will host a reception to mark the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation and discuss opportunities for Scotland and Canada to work together on veteran-related issues.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587295.1508055136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587295.1508055136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Keith Brown will seek to strengthen Scotlands international ties in the face of Brexit on a visit to the US and Canada next week.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Keith Brown will seek to strengthen Scotlands international ties in the face of Brexit on a visit to the US and Canada next week.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587295.1508055136!/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/environment/energy-efficient-homes-should-get-500-off-tax-bill-1-4586891","id":"1.4586891","articleHeadline": "Energy-efficient homes ‘should get £500 off tax bill’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508021833000 ,"articleLead": "

A £500 council tax rebate should be introduced for householders who install energy efficiency measures into their homes, Citizens Advice Scotland is to tell the Scottish Government.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586890.1507993070!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Loft insulation is an effective way of reducing heat loss in homes. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The payment would be made to home owners who introduced measures such as insulation or double glazing to their properties in a bid to increase energy efficiency – within a year after the upgrades took place – according to the report, which is due to be published tomorrow.

The study into Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (Seep) by the watchdog’s Consumer Futures Unit, also said that measures to encourage homeowners to upgrade energy efficiency needed to be brought in quickly – or risk householders who could currently afford such measures reaching retirement age, when they will potentially be classed as being in fuel poverty – and would require a subsidy from government.

The report, which will be presented to the Scottish Government and all of Scotland’s political parties, said: “Of the tax incentive scenarios presented to participants in our research, there was one which emerged – and by some margin – as being preferred by, and most likely to be encouraging to, homeowners. This was the idea of a one-off rebate in council tax in the year following the installation by the homeowner of energy-saving measures.”

The study found that “basic measures” would improve energy efficiency were identified as at least part of the solution in many cases, with loft insulation being the single most identified measure, suitable for some 40 per cent of homes. Draught-proofing, cavity wall insulation and upgraded heating systems were also common, while only a few needed much more expensive measures.

The report said: “Unless solutions are found to drive investment, homeowners who continue to put off doing anything will eventually reach pensionable age, and potential classification at that stage as vulnerable and/or fuel-poor, therefore potentially requiring a significantly larger subsidy.”

Kate Morrison, energy team manager of the Consumer Futures Unit at Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “If the ultimate objective of Seep is to upgrade all homes to a Band C energy rating, around one million owner-occupiers will need to upgrade their homes. The government needs to persuade people of the benefits of installing energy efficiency measures, and design a scheme that makes it easy for them to take action, and incentivises them to do so.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “We have already introduced measures requiring each local authority to offer those making their homes more energy efficient a council tax reduction through the Climate Change Act 2009.

“It is the responsibility of each local authority to establish, deliver and promote their own scheme.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JANE BRADLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4586890.1507993070!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586890.1507993070!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Loft insulation is an effective way of reducing heat loss in homes. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Loft insulation is an effective way of reducing heat loss in homes. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4586890.1507993070!/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/euan-mccolm-feeble-may-must-kick-unsackable-johnson-out-of-the-tent-1-4587126","id":"1.4587126","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Feeble May must kick ‘unsackable’ Johnson out of the tent","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508021430000 ,"articleLead": "

I’ve been having these moments of clarity, recently.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587125.1508008692!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "May sits next to Johnson at a cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Every so often – perhaps once a day or more – it will occur to me that the government of the United Kingdom is led by a Prime Minister who believes the mission she is sworn to complete will seriously damage the country. More than a year after this extraordinary state of affairs became reality, it still retains the power to blow my tiny mind.

As if it were not bizarre enough that Theresa May is committed to delivering what she considers to be the colossal mistake of Brexit, she is willing to fight for the right to do it.

To add piquancy to the Prime Minister’s miserable task, she is held in contempt by some of her most senior colleagues. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, for example, may recently have reasserted his loyal support for May, but he did so after a prolonged period of public defiance on the subject of Brexit, the like of which would – under normal circumstances – have guaranteed his dismissal from cabinet.

Things were so different in the aftermath of the EU referendum last summer when May seemed the only answer to the question “who will replace that bloody idiot David Cameron?”. Back then, May appeared to be precisely the sort of steady-as-she-goes plodder required to put into motion the UK’s departure from the EU. What’s more, she had the additional advantage of not being Andrea Leadsom, the blank-eyed Brexiteer who manages to look out of her depth in even the shallowest waters.

But the summer of 2016 is a foreign country: they thought of Theresa May differently there. Now, the Prime Minister invites contempt rather than offering even the slightest reassurance that Brexit might be a straightforward, even painless, process.

May was supposed to have been strengthened by the general election she called in June but a shockingly poor campaign which saw the Tories lose their overall majority did nothing but further weaken her in the eyes of her colleagues (and, we should accept, in the eyes of the European leaders with whom she will have to reach agreement over the manner of the UK’s departure from the EU).

Now we have a PM who cannot inspire the loyalty of those who serve her and whose handling of matters Brexity, thus far, suggests she doesn’t have the faintest idea what she’s doing.

It’s an intolerable state of affairs.

If ever there was a moment for May to assert herself over her disloyal underlings, it is now. (Actually, it was several weeks ago but better late than never and all that). We are told that the only reason the Prime Minister doesn’t sack Johnson – or others whose loyalty isn’t all it might be – is that she is too politically weak to do so. If she ditches the Foreign Secretary, goes the analysis, he and his acolytes will turn on her; within weeks, we’ll have Prime Minister Johnson bluffing and blustering his way through negotiations with the EU.

May’s inability to shape her ministerial team without fear of mutiny is another intolerable business.

Speculation about a reshuffle has ebbed and flowed and, all the while, the perception that the Foreign Secretary is more powerful than the Prime Minister has grown stronger.

Clearly, when May brought Johnson into her cabinet last year, she was of the view that she’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside, pissing in.

What the Prime Minister has ended up with is a political enemy lurching about inside her tent, relieving himself wherever he damned well pleases, marking his territory. While May continues to indulge the presence of Johnson in the tent of government, she will only become weaker.

Let’s consider this “fact” that Johnson is unsackable. The former Mayor of London may inspire the loyalty of many colleagues but many others loathe him and would do whatever they felt necessary to stop him in his tracks. One can imagine how a Stop Johnson campaign might work.

The Foreign Secretary’s past is littered with gaffes and scandals that would have ended the careers of less confident politicians. But Johnson’s ability to persuade some colleagues that he should be considered a colourful character rather than rejected as a liability doesn’t erase from the record a litany of outrages, from his participation early in his career in a discussion with a friend about a revenge assault to his recent assertion that the Libyan city of Sirte could become a luxury resort just as soon as the corpses had been cleared away.

There’s an understandable and seemingly insatiable public appetite, right now, for the atonement for sins past; perhaps Johnson’s supporters might consider whether their man might really be as infallible as they appear to believe.

The Labour Party, under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, already emboldened (despite general election defeat) by the weakening of May, would surely love a Johnson bid for the premiership. Who better to fit their popular narrative of “for the many not the few” than a privileged old Etonian with a chequered past?

On Friday, yet another Tory politician explained to me that the Prime Minister is too weak to solve a problem like Johnson. If this is truly so, then May is not fit for the office she holds.

The EU referendum was supposed to bring to an end decades of tension over Europe within the Conservative Party. Instead, it has divided the country and hamstrung the government.

If May is to regain any of the authority she once held (and this is, I accept, a big if) then she has no choice but to remove Johnson from her cabinet, not only as punishment for his disloyalty but to show others what they might expect if they should consider following the Foreign Secretary’s example and publicly contradicting the PM.

Perhaps Johnson’s cronies are right; maybe he would come roaring back at the Prime Minister and end her tenure at 10 Downing Street. This is a bluff that must be called.

Theresa May’s indulgence of Boris Johnson means he’s already the most powerful figure in the UK government. If she wishes to correct that imbalance, she has no choice but to sack him.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587125.1508008692!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587125.1508008692!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "May sits next to Johnson at a cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "May sits next to Johnson at a cabinet meeting in 10 Downing Street. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587125.1508008692!/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/from-the-horror-of-guernica-to-clydeside-exile-and-peace-1-4586917","id":"1.4586917","articleHeadline": "From the horror of Guernica to Clydeside exile and peace","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508020123000 ,"articleLead": "

A novel about a Basque doctor forced to flee Guernica after the 1937 bombing and who sets up a surgery for the shipyards in poverty-stricken Clydeside is being launched this week as part of the 2017 Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586916.1507994955!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Sawkins (left) and James Gerard with Haizean, which is Basque for in the wind. Photograph: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

Haizean is becoming a cult read in Spain as the country commemorates the 80th anniversary of the bombing of civilians in the town in the north of the country by German and Italian planes supporting General Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

Authors James Gerard and John Sawkins say the complex emotions suffered by the main character Dr Asier Santa Maria, including trauma, isolation and depression in the early years of his exile in Scotland before finding peace, resonates across the decades, mirroring conditions experienced by many people today, including refugees.

The novel, set in Spain and Scotstoun in Glasgow, sees the doctor, who was in despair, brought to Scotland by a Scottish journalist who fought in the International Brigades against Franco.

The second half of the story covers the setting up of a peace centre in a flat in Scotstoun, inspired by the one in Guernica and Picasso’s painting of the atrocity.

Gerard, a mental health campaigner and writer, who along with Sawkins will read extracts from the novel on 20 October at a free event, starting at 6:30pm at Augustine United Church in Edinburgh, said: “I went to Guernica with friends and after I got home I started researching it. I had been going through a bad time mentally, and the writing, and writing and writing, got me out of bed in the mornings.

“I found that I was able to sort of live through and resolve a lot of my depression through what happened to Asier.”

Sawkins, a former lecturer in English at the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: “I thought about what it must have been like for Asier spending 40 years in exile, reclaiming his identity in a strange land where he would have been an interloper without the support of the Spanish Diaspora.

“I also think this story resonates with what’s been going on in Catalonia. The heavy-handed way police reacted to people trying to vote was reminiscent of how Franco behaved.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SHN ROSS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4586916.1507994955!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586916.1507994955!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Sawkins (left) and James Gerard with Haizean, which is Basque for in the wind. Photograph: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Sawkins (left) and James Gerard with Haizean, which is Basque for in the wind. Photograph: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4586916.1507994955!/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/insight-can-snp-deliver-green-energy-at-a-fair-price-1-4587170","id":"1.4587170","articleHeadline": "Insight: Can SNP deliver green energy at a fair price?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508019388000 ,"articleLead": "

For hard-pressed Scottish families who have seen energy bills double over the past decade, it’s not hard to see why Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to establish a new state-owned energy firm was met with some enthusiasm. The First Minister’s announcement last week that her government was to become a player in the increasingly crowded energy supply market was certainly radical and went some way further than Prime Minister Theresa May’s move to impose a price cap on bills.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587169.1508012411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Torness power station, one of the two remaining nuclear installations in Scotland. Picture: Gordon Fraser"} ,"articleBody": "

The politics of this are a marked shift to the left by both leaders to meet the seeming appetite among sections of the electorate, particularly in Scotland, for the politics of Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader has already proposed a network of public energy companies. But as energy generation shifts towards a de-carbonised, green network, can a state operator really do much more than other providers to keep down prices?

The prospect of such a company breaching EU state-aid rules, aimed at preventing governments from distorting the market place, has been raised by industry figures. But Scottish ministers point to the example of the arm’s-length company David MacBrayne, wholly owned by ministers, which runs the CalMac ferry brand and has operated effectively for decades with some delicate manoeuvring to navigate EU procurement rules. Similarly Scottish Water, another publicly owned Scottish utility, seems to get along without a problem from Brussels. The French government is also an active player in the energy market with its majority stake in the power giant EDF, although this is a profit-making enterprise unlike Sturgeon’s proposed body. EDF is also a player in the energy generation market and operates a number of major nuclear plants around Europe – including the two remaining in Scotland at Hunterston and Torness.

Could the Scottish Government become an active player in the generation market, possibly establishing it’s own state-owned network of wind farms? These have tended to be established by private operators and individual landowners, but Sturgeon’s speech to the SNP conference on Tuesday, when she set out her plan, was ambivalent about the prospect of ministers getting involved directly in the generation business through this new venture.

The SNP leader’s stated intention is that prices will come down, insisting power will be sold to customers as close to “cost price as possible”. If the new firm is to have a focus on renewables, which Sturgeon hinted at, this is likely to be more expensive. Specific agreements may have to be struck with renewable generators and much could hinge on the commercial deal secured. Otherwise, the new Scottish venture will be in the same boat as current operators like Scottish Power and Scottish Gas who buy their electricity and gas from “wholesale markets” – along with the 40-odd other suppliers in the UK today.

The UK domestic commercial energy market is split into geographical PEZ (public electricity supplier) regions and the Scottish Government could operate a Scotland-only outfit targeting customers north of the border, covered by the North and South PEZ regions here. This may operate in a similar manner to other small local firms such as Robin Hood south of the border, which covers Nottinghamshire. Or in Scotland, there is the Musselburgh-based People’s Energy Company, which opened in August and already has several thousand customers. It pledges to give 75 per cent of its profits back to customers, eventually rising to 100 per cent. Its founder, David Pike, a former Scottish Government official, said Sturgeon’s announcement surprised him because his venture had already stepped into the fray. Within three years, the firm will be wholly-owned by customers, providing green electricity and gas. He is not fazed by the idea of the Scottish Government firm coming along four years down the line and is sceptical about it undercutting People’s Energy.

“I’d like to be optimistic that a civil servant organisation will be as efficient as we are, but there’s a bit of a doubt in my mind that will be the case,” he said.

“The shareholders are the customers, which I think, personally, is better than the state.”

This is not the Scottish Government’s first venture in the domestic energy market. Two years ago the then Social Justice Minister, Alex Neil, unveiled £2.5 million of funding to help launch Our Power Energy, the first non-profit distribution supplier to operate in the UK. It was founded by 35 organisations, including some of Scotland’s largest housing associations. Ambitious plans were unveiled to sell gas and electricity to tenants in 200,000 homes across Scotland by 2020. Now it seems ministers are keen to extend those plans to the wider population.

It’s easy to see why the First Minister felt compelled to act as average domestic gas and electricity bills in Scotland have increased by up to 114 per cent and 50 per cent respectively between 2004 and 2015. And while the cost of a unit of gas is similar across Scotland and the rest of the UK, consumers in the north of Scotland pay between 8 and 9 per cent more than elsewhere in the UK.

But leading energy experts fear the ability of politicians to tackle the vagaries of Scotland’s power bills are limited. Far greater forces are at play here. The Scottish Government has taken a lead in shifting the way the country generates and consumes its energy in an effort to “decarbonise”. Traditional “dirty” power stations fired by coal and gas , such as Longannet in Fife, are gone or on the way out. Fracking has also been banned in Scotland to address global warming concerns. Oil and gas production levels have slumped in the North Sea and it remains to be seen how much life remains in this ageing, mature basin. Some say a decade, others that it could last between 20 to 40 years.

The SNP government has instead placed its faith in renewables. Wind, hydro, tidal and wave energy are the future. This has meant a proliferation of wind turbines emerging across Scotland, sparking concerns that much of the country’s dramatic landscapes are being scarred by developments. The shift to new forms of generation costs money. Renewables are still heavily subsidised with consumers facing an “environmental surcharge” on their bills to meet the cost of green energy. The new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the south of England will also hit all consumers in the pocket with estimates of a £10-20 charge on everyone’s annual bill.

But this is the cost of policies like the Scottish Government’s plan for a 90 per cent cut in emissions on 1990 levels by 2050 which is at the heart of the Climate Change Bill. Westminster has similar targets. Scottish ministers have also set out ambitious targets for half of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity energy needs to be met by renewables by 2030. For many this seems a wildly ambitious target.

In Scotland today, electricity only accounts for about a quarter of the country’s total energy demands. About the same proportion is used to power the transport system as petrol and diesel for cars, trains and buses. This leaves about half of Scotland’s energy needs, heating our homes and offices, largely being met by burning natural gases, producing carbon dioxide emissions which drive up global warming levels.

John Scrimgeour, Director of the Aberdeen Institute of Energy at Aberdeen University, said Scotland, like the UK, is “more and more reliant” on gas imports as North Sea production winds down.

“There’s a connector to Holland and you could say, in a way, that that’s Russian gas,” he said.

“If the Russians turn off the taps, there is gas supply in Holland and North Africa, but if the Russians turn off the taps, they’re not going to pump gas all across the continent when they’ll be shorter of power then we are.”

The problem with the Scottish Government’s emphasis on wind turbines is “intermittency” of supply. In other words, when the wind is not blowing and they’re not rotating, they don’t produce any electricity at all.

The recent Scottish Government draft energy strategy claimed the country is a “net electricity exporter” to the rest of the UK. But Dr Rob Westaway, senior research fellow in energy engineering at Glasgow University, says the situation is not that simple.

“On some days the wind is blowing strongly and the output from the very large capacity of wind farms that are already there – with more in the process of being commissioned – is very great.

“It can actually get so great that it raises the possibility of destabilising the National Grid. In those circumstances it is becoming standard to pay wind farm operators to shut their turbines down.

“The problem is for days when it isn’t windy, the supply is not there and so Scotland then has to draw its power from England over the links for the National Grid. What is quite important is on a typical day is Scotland self-sufficient for electricity – or is it relying on England?”

Since the UK energy market is all part of one UK grid, these statistics don’t routinely break down the net flow of energy between Scotland and the UK.

“It is quite widely suspected that on many days, Scotland is a net importer of energy rather like Ireland is,” he said.

This energy means power from coal and nuclear plants south of the border are effectively still keeping the lights on in Scotland.

At the moment, there seems no obvious escape from the quandary that Scotland is reaching the point where there a “great excess” in generating capacity, when all the wind turbines operating at full tilt on a windy day would produce far more electricity than the country needs or can export. The “holy grail” is storing electricity. Although this can be done through techniques like pump storage reservoirs, to do so on an industrial scale would be decades away and highly expensive.

“Having supply that’s intermittent and quite unreliable is quite problematic,” Westaway added.

It means we need the security of a “baseload” supply, largely from nuclear, which doesn’t aid global warming. But that brings environmental concerns over radioactive waste and is opposed by the SNP government. Plants like Hunterston and Torness, whose lifespan has been extended, provide a constant supply of power which can be relied on when the wind dies down. And the prospect of prices coming down when such major, transformational changes are happening in the way we get out energy and all the infrastructure costs seems unlikely.

“In the short term as we de-carbonise, energy prices will increase, gas and coal currently being the cheapest sources of energy,” Scrimgeour added.

Ongoing investment in renewables technology is likely to both increase its market share and reduce costs, meaning they could become competitive against gas and coal but consumers are facing a “ten to 20-year timeframe” before this happens.

Westaway agrees that prices are only likely to rise in the immediate term.

“The current wholesale price for electricity in the UK is about 5p per kilowatt hour,” he added.

“Consumers pay roughly double this amount, or thereabouts. The UK government predicts that the wholesale price for electricity will rise to maybe 7p per kWh in 10 years’ time; the increase will presumably be passed on to customers.”

Sturgeon may seek to do things differently, but the bigger picture suggests that the lot of energy customers in Scotland is likely to be intrinsically linked with the wider UK.

Professor Gareth Harrison, of the Institute for Energy Systems at Edinburgh University says in the energy world, Scotland “isn’t an island”.

Regardless of the political situation, there will be a “need for close working on energy supplies, particularly with electricity, where if you get it wrong the consequences can be very bad very quickly.”

The Scottish Government white paper on independence envisioned the country remaining within a British market after a Yes vote and retaining an integrated energy network.

Harrison added: “It can’t isolate itself fully in the same way as it can’t isolate itself from the effects of carbon dioxide and so on. We need approaches where people aren’t taking a hyper local view of energy, because you can’t.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4587169.1508012411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4587169.1508012411!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Torness power station, one of the two remaining nuclear installations in Scotland. Picture: Gordon Fraser","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Torness power station, one of the two remaining nuclear installations in Scotland. Picture: Gordon Fraser","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4587169.1508012411!/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/hundreds-gather-for-anti-brexit-rally-in-edinburgh-1-4586926","id":"1.4586926","articleHeadline": "Hundreds gather for anti-Brexit rally in Edinburgh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1508007847000 ,"articleLead": "

Hundreds of people gathered in Edinburgh today to protest against Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586924.1507999456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People gather at a Rally for Europe event on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The rally was one of a number of events held in cities across the UK, aimed at urging the government to think again on leaving the European Union.

Organised by the Young European Movement and the European Movement in Scotland, speakers included politicians from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP.

The crowd - many waving EU flags and holding ‘Exit from Brexit’ signs - also heard from migrants living in Scotland.

Addressing those gathered outside Edinburgh City Chambers, SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said Leave voters had been misled during the EU referendum by “the most deceitful and mendacious campaign in British political history”.

He said many had now changed their minds, adding: “We are the voice, not just for the 48 per cent of the UK (who voted against Brexit), we are probably now the voice for the majority that is saying think again, don’t go over this particular cliff.”

Labour MP Ian Murray said: “The economic consequences of what this government are about to embark on are disastrous for this country, and actually pretty disastrous for our European neighbours as well.

“The only way we can stop that from happening is to stay with the customs union and the single market.”

Similar rallies were due to take place in Newcastle, York, Nottingham, Bristol, Cardiff, London, Cambridge, Reading, Liverpool and Birmingham.

They took place after EU figures reported little progress had been made at the end of the fifth round of Brexit talks in Brussels.

Vanessa Glynn, chair of the European Movement in Scotland, said: “More than fifteen months on from the Brexit vote, the current UK Government still has no clear idea of where it’s going.

“The clock is ticking, with negotiations on Britain’s future relationship with the EU still on the starting blocks, and yet we do not see any clarity about the relationship that will follow between the UK and the EU, nor between the constituent nations of the UK.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Angus Howarth"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4586924.1507999456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586924.1507999456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "People gather at a Rally for Europe event on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People gather at a Rally for Europe event on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Picture: David Cheskin/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4586924.1507999456!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4586925.1507999460!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586925.1507999460!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4586925.1507999460!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/sport/football/teams/celtic/celtic-fans-display-banner-opposing-controversial-football-act-1-4586885","id":"1.4586885","articleHeadline": "Celtic fans display banner opposing controversial Football Act","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507992694000 ,"articleLead": "

Celtic fans have made their feelings known on the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act by displaying a prominent banner during Saturday’s match with Dundee.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586883.1507992899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic fans unveil a banner. Picture: SNS"} ,"articleBody": "

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Hung in the same corner of the ground occupied by the fans group The Green Brigade, the display condemned those responsible to the creation and implementation of the controversial Act, which had existed since 2012.

Displaying images and names of many prominent politicians and police chiefs, the banner read “guilty of criminalising football fans”.

Included in the sign were images of, among others, Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and Sir Stephen House, who was formerly Chief Constable of Police Scotland.

Pictures of the banner were quickly shared on social media as Brendan Rodgers’ side looked to keep their unbeaten run in tact against visitors Dundee.

READ MORE - Rumour Mill: Strachan’s arrogance cost Scotland | Dave King not ‘poor businessman’ | Rodgers makes surprising selection

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FOWLER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4586883.1507992899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586883.1507992899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Celtic fans unveil a banner. Picture: SNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Celtic fans unveil a banner. Picture: SNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4586883.1507992899!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1506950728796"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-labour-leadership-contest-focuses-on-gender-equality-1-4586812","id":"1.4586812","articleHeadline": "Scottish Labour leadership contest focuses on gender equality","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1507987057000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Labour’s leadership hopefuls have focused on gender equality as the contest to succeed Kezia Dugdale continues.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586811.1507987056!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Labour leader candidate Richard Leonard. Picture: Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

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Anas Sarwar has promised to help women who have been adversely affected by state pension age increases.

He said new powers over social security coming to Holyrood could be used to mitigate changes, pledging to lodge amendments to the Social Security Bill to allow a Scottish Pension Credit to be introduced.

Plans to increase the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 between 2010 and 2020 were initially set out in 1995.

But the coalition government decided to speed up the process in 2011, resulting in the state pension age for women due to increase to 65 in November 2018 and to 66 by October 2020.

Campaigners argue women affected have had to rethink their retirement plans at relatively short notice.

“Thousands of women born in the 1950s have been left facing real financial difficulty because of the lack of notice given by the cruel Tory government about changes to the state pension,” Mr Sarwar said.

“We need urgent action to end the hardship faced by women who have worked all their lives and find that they cannot retire as planned.”

READ MORE - Government refuses to confirm if it analysed the impact of Brexit

Meanwhile his rival Richard Leonard has promised to address the gender gap in subject choices at school and beyond by creating a “gender equality training standard” for current and new teachers to help eliminate gender bias in classrooms.

He has also proposed the “targeted use of gender quotas in modern apprenticeships where there is a high level of occupational segregation such as social care and construction”.

“The trade union movement has a history of elevating the voice of women workers, but women remain under-represented and underpaid,” he said.

“Occupational gender segregation is at the heart of gender inequality.

“High levels of segregation are a significant factor in the discrepancy between the wages of women and men, the majority of the care, cleaning or administration workforce are women and they are undervalued and underpaid. This must change.”

READ MORE - Brian Wilson: SNP’s stance on Brexit lacks political imagination

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lynsey Bews"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4586811.1507987056!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4586811.1507987056!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Labour leader candidate Richard Leonard. Picture: Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Labour leader candidate Richard Leonard. Picture: Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4586811.1507987056!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}