{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/rights-for-eu-citizens-in-uk-number-one-priority-says-tusk-1-4433313","id":"1.4433313","articleHeadline": "Rights for EU citizens in UK ‘number one priority’, says Tusk","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493493351000 ,"articleLead": "

Rights for European citizens living in post-Brexit UK are the EU’s number one priority in forthcoming negotiations, Donald Tusk has signalled.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433312.1493493345!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The EU needs a "serious British response" to its demands to protect citizens' rights, EU President Donald Tusk said on April 29. Picture: AFP/Getty Images/Thierry Charlier"} ,"articleBody": "

The European Council president said reciprocal guarantees, which also provided certainty for British ex-pats living on the continent, were foremost among issues to be addressed before talks turned to future trading terms.

Mr Tusk and European Commission president Jean Claude Juncker both flagged the importance of the matter as leaders of the EU 27 formally endorsed the bloc’s negotiating strategy for talks set to commence after next month’s UK General Election.

“This must be the number one priority for the EU and the UK,” said Mr Tusk.

Apart from a few small amendments, the final negotiating framework mirrored the proposals outlined in draft form by Mr Tusk last month.

The leaders of the member states remaining in the EU took only minutes to approve the joint strategy at a special summit meeting in Brussels on Saturday.

Central to it is the “phased” approach, with EU leaders insisting the shape of a future trading relationship can only be considered when progress is made on the terms of the UK’s departure.

Along with citizens’ rights, the disputed “divorce bill” the UK will have to pay on exit - estimated at a potential £50 billion - and the thorny question of how to maintain a free-flowing Irish border are also key “phase one” issues for the EU.

Mr Tusk said “sufficient progress” on all of those were needed before the EU’s future relationship with Europe could be addressed.

Reacting to the summit outcome while on an election campaign visit to Scotland, Prime Minister Theresa May said both sides of the process now had their negotiating guidelines mapped out, with the UK’s position having been made clear in her letter triggering Article 50.

In a pitch for votes, Mrs May said what mattered was the need for a strong prime minister with a strong mandate sitting at the Brexit negotiating table.

“It’s a very simple choice, strong and stable leadership under me and my team or a coalition of chaos under (Labour leader) Jeremy Corbyn and I know which one is going to get the best deal from Brexit and the European Union,” she said.

Mr Tusk said EU officials had compiled a “precise and detailed” list of the citizens’ rights the union wanted protected. The council president urged Theresa May to sign off on the proposals.

“In order to achieve sufficient progress we need a serious British response,” he said.

“I want to assure you that as soon as the UK offers real guarantees for our citizens we will find a solution rapidly.”

Mr Juncker and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier met the Prime Minister in Downing Street earlier this week.

After Saturday’s summit, the commission president said the UK was underestimating the technical difficulties of Brexit and warned it would take a huge amount of time to reach agreement on apparently single issues.

In regard to EU nationals living in the UK, he challenged Mrs May to sign up to the commission document on its desired guarantees, but admitted he did not think she would.

“So this will take time and if we want to be precise and to deliver guarantees to citizens, this will take a huge amount of time, although as a Commission and as Michel Barnier (the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator), we have already prepared a text which could be adopted immediately if our British friends would be ready to sign it like that. That will probably not happen,” he said.

The Irish element of the Brexit process is set to assume major significance when negotiations start - with the border identified among the trio of crucial initial sticking blocks that need to be navigated.

Irish premier Enda Kenny said it was a huge endorsement of his government’s lobbying efforts that resolution of the issue had been placed at the top of the EU wish list.

The taoiseach said a solution would require ingenuity and imagination.

“That’s what minds will be applied to now over the next number of months,” he said.

Aside from dealing with the current Irish border, the European Council also provisionally agreed its approach if the day came when the people of Northern Ireland voted to end partition and join a united Ireland.

While not part of the Brexit negotiating guidelines, EU leaders accepted a statement proposed by Mr Kenny that, in the event of unification, Northern Ireland would automatically assume the EU membership already held by the Republic of Ireland, rather than having to reapply.

That position will be formally adopted at the next EU council meeting next month.

During his post-summit comments, Mr Juncker also brushed off suggestions that his working dinner with Mrs May at Number 10 had gone badly.

But he appeared to criticise the food on offer as he reiterated his point that Brexit cannot happen “just like that”.

“It will take time and we have to discuss a certain number of the elements we will have to address in the next coming months,” he said.

“But it was excellent (the dinner) - I’m not talking about the food.”

Mr Tusk and Mr Juncker both stressed the unity of the EU 27, with the commission president revealing that leaders took just four minutes to sign up to the negotiating guidelines.

Mr Juncker added: “It was surprising given the past experiences, that we could get an agreement this swiftly, and such a solid agreement among the 27 that fast.”

Mr Tusk said it was vital for the 27 to continue to speak with one voice.

“It is only then that we will be able to conclude the negotiations which means that our unity is also in the UK’s interest,” he said.

“As for now, I feel strong support from all the EU institutions, including the European Parliament, as well as all the 27 members states.

“I know this is something unique, but I am confident that it will not change.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID YOUNG"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4433312.1493493345!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433312.1493493345!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The EU needs a "serious British response" to its demands to protect citizens' rights, EU President Donald Tusk said on April 29. Picture: AFP/Getty Images/Thierry Charlier","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The EU needs a "serious British response" to its demands to protect citizens' rights, EU President Donald Tusk said on April 29. Picture: AFP/Getty Images/Thierry Charlier","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4433312.1493493345!/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/reject-snp-separatists-and-vote-tory-urges-theresa-may-1-4433259","id":"1.4433259","articleHeadline": "Reject SNP ‘separatists’ and vote Tory, urges Theresa May","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493487125000 ,"articleLead": "

THERESA May has urged Scottish voters to stand up against SNP “separatists” and again pitched her “strong and stable leadership” after being accused by Jeremy Corbyn of relying on “simple slogans”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433249.1493487120!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Prime Minister is campaigning in Scotland with the message that a vote for the Conservatives would strengthen the economy and the UK's hand in Brexit negotiations. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister made an ambitious bid to capitalise on growing Tory support north of the border, where the party has only one MP, saying she would ensure Scotland and the UK “flourish together”.

In the rural village of Crathes, Aberdeenshire, where TV channels were unable to broadcast live and several journalists complained of a lack of mobile signal, Mrs May reiterated her call for voters to back her to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations.

It came after Mr Corbyn accused her of slipping into a “presidential bunker mentality”, reliant on sound bites and squeezing dissent, and claimed her attitude could lead to “damaging mistakes” for the country.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacted to Mrs May’s foray north by urging voters not to allow the nation to be “dragged back” by an “increasingly hard-line right wing Tory Government” in Westminster.

But Mrs May’s visit to northern Scotland underlined the size of the election victory she thinks is within her grasp, with the Tories now the leading unionist party north of the border, according to opinion polls.

Making a direct plea to Scottish voters who oppose independence, the PM said: “We want to ensure that we build a more secure and united nation.

“That means taking action against the extremists who would divide us and standing up against the separatists who want to break up our country.”

Mrs May went on: “There is only one candidate for prime minister who will stand up and defend the United Kingdom. And my commitment is clear that if you strengthen my hand in those Brexit negotiations, I will work to ensure that Scotland and the UK flourish together.

“So on June 8 vote for five years of strong and stable leadership. Give me the mandate to lead Britain, give me the mandate to speak for Britain, give me the mandate to fight for Britain and give me the mandate to deliver for Britain.”

Mrs May spoke after Mr Corbyn addressed supporters in the Labour stronghold of Whitechapel, east London, in his most personal speech of the campaign so far.

He compared Mrs May to Tony Blair, whose premiership he said showed what can go wrong if leaders go unchallenged because his Labour government “bought into Conservative ideas” about the economy that left Britain with no defence against the global financial crisis.

The Labour leader said Mrs May is “insecure” because she wants more power, while he would empower others if he is elected PM.

“If leaders go unchallenged, they can make some of the most damaging mistakes,” Mr Corbyn said.

“And if party leaders put themselves ahead of serving the people, they stop listening and even put our country at risk.

“Barely nine months into Theresa May’s premiership, there are clear warning signs that she and her closest advisers are slipping into that presidential bunker mentality.

“Whereas it is the job of leadership to hold open the space for dissent, new thinking and fit-for-purpose policy.

“So while it might not be the stuff of sound bites, I have always believed in standing firm and empowering others to make up their minds and come on board when they are ready.”

He added: “It is the mindset that serves the many, not the few.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ARJ SINGH AND HILARY DUNCANSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4433249.1493487120!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433249.1493487120!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Prime Minister is campaigning in Scotland with the message that a vote for the Conservatives would strengthen the economy and the UK's hand in Brexit negotiations. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Prime Minister is campaigning in Scotland with the message that a vote for the Conservatives would strengthen the economy and the UK's hand in Brexit negotiations. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4433249.1493487120!/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/sturgeon-made-error-in-trying-to-weaponise-brexit-says-davidson-1-4433096","id":"1.4433096","articleHeadline": "Sturgeon made error in trying to ‘weaponise Brexit’, says Davidson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493479074000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon made a basic error in trying to “weaponise Brexit”, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433095.1493479070!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson has criticised the First Minister for her tactics following the Brexit vote. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The MSP said that Ms Sturgeon also made a “huge mistake” in pretending that a remain vote is a “proxy for independence”.

The Tory also agreed that nationalism is seen to be “on the wane”.

She told LBC Radio: “I think that Nicola Sturgeon has made a couple of very basic errors and I think the first one that she did was to try and weaponise Brexit and showed that all she cares about is independence because there are lots of issues that Brexit throws up but none of them are answered by splitting up the UK which is Scotland’s biggest market, closest ally and greatest friend.

“And I think the second issue that she has done which she has made a huge mistake on is trying to pretend that everybody who voted remain, that remain vote is somehow a proxy for independence.

“Now there are plenty of people like me who voted remain who campaigned quite hard for remain, who are absolutely furious that she’s trying to pretend that I would somehow say that that vote meant we should break up the United Kingdom when it meant nothing of the sort. She’s suffered a really strong backlash about that.”

Asked whether nationalism is seen to be on the wane, she said: “I think it is.”

She added: “I think in Scotland to have a general election in 2015 that was just six months after such a seismic thing as the referendum, of course that question was one of the biggest questions in there and I think that you will see in this election quite a big amount of movement in the polls and in the vote.”

A poll published on Friday suggested the Conservatives are on course to win seven seats from the SNP in the General Election.

A projection from a YouGov poll for The Times Scotland gave the SNP 47 seats, the Tories eight, the Liberal Democrats three and Labour still with only one MP after the June 8 vote.

Voting intentions from the Times poll have the SNP leading on 41%, the Tories on 28%, with Labour at 18%, Lib Dems 7%, Greens 3% and Ukip on 2% across Scotland.

More than 1,000 people took part in the survey between April 24 and 27.

Ms Davidson said she will be looking to win all 59 seats in Scotland by the time the election comes round because she gets “so into the campaigns”.

She added: “We are on the march in Scotland and we can make a big, big difference to the electoral landscape here.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LUCINDA CAMERON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4433095.1493479070!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433095.1493479070!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Davidson has criticised the First Minister for her tactics following the Brexit vote. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson has criticised the First Minister for her tactics following the Brexit vote. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4433095.1493479070!/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/nicola-sturgeon-urges-voters-to-send-theresa-may-a-message-1-4433008","id":"1.4433008","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon urges voters to send Theresa May a message","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493472488000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has urged voters not to allow Scotland to be “dragged back by the Tories” at the 2017 General Election.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433007.1493472484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland’s First Minister said the Conservatives must not be given a “free hand to do whatever they want to Scotland” on June 8.

Speaking to party activists at The Hub in the east end of Glasgow Nicola Sturgeon said that a vote for the SNP would deliver a “strong voice for Scotland” and ensure “real and effective opposition” in the House of Commons.

She said the council elections on May 4 would offer the SNP a chance to remove the “dead, suffocating hand of Labour” from the city chambers and replace it with a “vibrant, dynamic, ambitious city government.”

READ MORE: Poll: Nicola Sturgeon enjoys ‘highest approval in Scotland’

And she urged voters to build on that on June 8 by backing the SNP.

She said: “A few weeks later in the General Election on June 8 we must make sure that Scotland’s voice is heard and it is heard loudly and clearly.

“Make no mistake, this General Election really matters to the future of our country.

“It will determine whether Scotland continues to move forward or is dragged back by the Tories and it will ensure that the decisions about the future of our country, whatever that turns out to be, is taken here by the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people, not by an increasingly hard-line right wing Tory government at Westminster.”

Message

She added: “Theresa May has already told us what this General Election is about for her. It is about removing opposition and strengthening her hand to do whatever she wants.

“Let us make sure that on June 8 we send a loud message from Scotland that we are not prepared to give a Conservative government a free hand to do whatever it wants to Scotland.”

She contrasted what the Conservatives and SNP have done, saying the SNP is building at least 50,000 new houses while the Tories introduced the Bedroom Tax, and that the SNP is expanding free childcare while the Tories are removing tax credits from working families.

The SNP leader said it is “abundantly obvious” that Labour will not win the General Election, and does not have what it takes to be an effective opposition.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: ‘I have democratic mandate for indyref2’

Ms Sturgeon said that only voting SNP will ensure that Scotland’s voice is heard.

She told activists: “An SNP vote will deliver strong voices for Scotland. An SNP vote will also make sure that we back our Scottish parliament against a Conservative government that wants to undermine our Scottish parliament.

“It will make sure that the future of our country is decided here in Scotland, not by a Tory government at Westminster.

“A vote for the SNP will make sure that the Tories do not get away with silencing all opposition as they want to do.

“A vote for the SNP will make sure that there continues to be real and effective opposition in the House of Commons.”

She added: “If Scotland wants to make sure the Tories cannot simply do what they want in Scotland, if we want to make sure there are voices of strong opposition to the Conservatives in Westminster, then the only way to deliver that is with a strong, resounding vote for the SNP in every part of Scotland on June 8.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4433007.1493472484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4433007.1493472484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4433007.1493472484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-gina-miller-donation-not-a-game-changer-1-4432698","id":"1.4432698","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Gina Miller donation not a game-changer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493463869000 ,"articleLead": "

Gina Miller may feel she’s being very generous by donating up to £55,000 to fight the Conservatives in Scotland, but the gesture appears to be of the token variety.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432697.1493406744!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gina Miller won a court battle with the UK Government over the Brexit process. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

She has pledged the cash in an attempt to protect vulnerable SNP MPs from a Tory surge, as part of a campaign against a hard Brexit.

Her crowdfunding appeal has raised nearly £300,000 so far. However, non-party campaign groups are restricted to spending up to £9,750 in each constituency.

Compared to the millions of pounds which will be lavished on general election campaigning by the main parties, that amounts to little more than a penny tinkling into their vast war chests.

What she has offered won’t buy very much more than a few mail shots, when her donation is divided among the target constituencies - and that won’t change much.

Mrs Miller may also have misjudged the Scottish dynamic in this election.

Just as not all Conservatives voted for Brexit, not all SNP members cast their ballot to remain in the EU.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432697.1493406744!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432697.1493406744!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gina Miller won a court battle with the UK Government over the Brexit process. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gina Miller won a court battle with the UK Government over the Brexit process. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432697.1493406744!/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/david-brooks-trump-s-pond-skater-presidency-1-4432710","id":"1.4432710","articleHeadline": "David Brooks: Trump’s pond-skater presidency","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493449200000 ,"articleLead": "

Fascinating to watch but of little real substance, the subversive President has succumbed to convention writes David Brooks

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432709.1493407072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Outrage levels over the Donald Trump presidency may still be high but they are no longer stratospheric as he flips and flops."} ,"articleBody": "

You’ve got to give him credit — Donald Trump is a lot more adaptable than many of his critics.

Many of them reacted to Trump’s shocking election victory in the autumn with the view, which was justified at the time, that Trump represented a unique and unprecedented threat to the republic. He was a populist ethnic nationalist aiming to drag this country to a very ugly place. He was a crypto fascist, aiming to undermine every norm and institution of our democracy.

Many of us Trump critics set our outrage level at 11. The Trump threat was virulent, and therefore the response had to be virulent as well.

The side benefit was we got to luxuriate in that rarest of political circumstance: a pure contest between right versus wrong. Everything seemed to be in such stark polarities: pluralism versus bigotry, democracy versus fascism, love trumps hate.

Trump’s totalistic menace allowed us to stand deliciously on the side of pure righteousness.

The problem is that Trump has now changed and many of his critics refuse to recognise the change. He’s not become brighter or humbler, but he’s become smaller and more conventional. Many of his critics still react to him every single day at Outrage Level 11, but the Trump threat is at Level 3 or 4.

These days a lot of the criticism seems over the top and credibility destroying. The “resistance movement” still reacts as if atavistic fascism were just at the door, when the real danger is everyday ineptitude. These critics hyperventilate at every whiff of scandal in a way that only arouses skepticism.

If you are losing a gravitas battle to Donald Trump, you are really in trouble.

The Trump threat has become smaller in three ways.

First, it is increasingly clear that everything about Trump is less substantial than it appears. Trump will be the last president who grew up entirely in the TV age, post-print but pre-internet. In the Trump mental framework, everything exists in segments and episodes. Ratings are the ultimate criteria of value.

This means he is the master of the pseudo-event, the artificial happening that exists to generate TV coverage but leaves no lasting mark. This means that everything can change in an instant. Nothing is more weighty or complicated than can be covered in a three-minute news summary. Every policy initiative is actually just pastillage, those brittle sugar sculptures that you see atop fancy desserts that crumble and dissolve at first contact with reality.

Trump’s tax plan is being treated as an actual plan, but it is just a sugar sculpture — 100 off-the-top-of-the-head words on a piece of paper, grappling with no hard issues and with no chance of passing in anything like the current form.

Second, Trump’s competency level has risen from catastrophic to merely inadequate. In the first few weeks, Trump was shooting himself in the foot on an hourly basis. But as time has gone by, he has hired better people and has shifted power within the White House to those who are trying to at least build a normal decision-making process.

His foreign policy moves have been, if anything, kind of normal. His administration has committed to Nato, backed off his China bashing, confirmed Iran’s compliance with its nuclear agreement obligations and exercised some restraint on North Korea.

Third, Trump has detached himself from the only truly revolutionary movement of our time. If the current world order is going to really be disrupted, it will be because a U.S. president taps into the anger seething among the globe’s rural working classes. It will be because the U.S. leads a coalition of the global populist strongmen.

Trump seemed inclined to do that a few months ago, but not today. Sure, he’ll send out a pro-Marine Le Pen tweet, but Trump has mostly switched from being a subversive populist to being a conventional corporatist. His administration-defining motif now is being pro-business - lightening regulations, embracing the Export-Import Bank and offering to lower corporate taxes.

Parts of the Trump economic policy agenda are pretty good - corporate tax rates are indeed too high. Parts are pretty bad - threatening the Paris accords on global warming. But there’s nothing unusual. It looks like any Republican administration that is staffed by people whose prejudices were formed in 1984 and who haven’t had a new thought since.

Far from being a fighter, Trump tends to back off when his plans face resistance, like during this week’s budget showdown. He is the ultimate protean man. He’ll never be deep, because of his TV-shaped attention span, but the style of his superficiality is likely to change radically over the next few years.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish we had a president who had actual convictions and knowledge, and who was interested in delivering real good to real Americans. But it’s hard to maintain outrage at a man who is a political pond skater - one of those little creatures that flit across the surface, sort of fascinating to watch, but have little effect as they go.

© 2017 New York Times News Service

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DAVID BROOKS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432709.1493407072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432709.1493407072!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Outrage levels over the Donald Trump presidency may still be high but they are no longer stratospheric as he flips and flops.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Outrage levels over the Donald Trump presidency may still be high but they are no longer stratospheric as he flips and flops.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432709.1493407072!/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/first-pole-to-stand-as-aberdeen-council-election-candidate-1-4432702","id":"1.4432702","articleHeadline": "First Pole to stand as Aberdeen council election candidate","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493442000000 ,"articleLead": "

When Piotr Teodorowski arrived in Aberdeen, he was an 18-year-old student who had just left his family home in Poland for the first time to pursue his education overseas.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432701.1493406581!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour Aberdeen Council candidate, Piotr Teodorowski. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Standing confused and disorientated at the city’s bus station trying to find his way to his accommodation, he clearly remembers his first taste of Scottish hospitality.

“I asked a lady for help and she explained where the bus stop was and that you had to have the precise change,” he says. “She even offered to change my note.”

Six years down the line, the 25-year-old Labour activist is hoping to give something back to the city that welcomed him, by becoming the first Polish person ever to win a seat on Aberdeen Council.

Aberdeen is one of the most multicultural cities in Scotland, with around one in six residents born outside the UK, of which the largest proportion are Poles.

In Mr Teodorowski’s ward of Torry and Ferryhill alone there are 2,000 Poles, so one version of his election video is recorded in Polish with English subtitles to appeal to his countrymen and women.

However, he insists that he is not running merely to be a Polish representative on the council.

“I would like to represent everyone,” he says.

“I consider Aberdeen to be my home, I’ve always been a local guy.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS GREEN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432701.1493406581!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432701.1493406581!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour Aberdeen Council candidate, Piotr Teodorowski. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour Aberdeen Council candidate, Piotr Teodorowski. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432701.1493406581!/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-mps-get-boost-from-gina-miller-fund-to-stop-hard-brexit-1-4432722","id":"1.4432722","articleHeadline": "SNP MPs get boost from Gina Miller fund to stop hard Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493442000000 ,"articleLead": "

The campaigner who took the UK government to the Supreme Court over Brexit will spend tens of thousands of pounds to protect SNP MPs from a Tory surge.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432720.1493407814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gina Millers campaign will support candidates across the UK opposed to a hard Brexit. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Gina Miller, whose case forced Theresa May to hold a Commons vote before triggering Article 50, is leading an effort to identify and support candidates opposed to a hard Brexit.

In Scotland, SNP MPs threatened by a Tory revival could see significant financial support and additional campaigning manpower. Voters will also be targeted with nationwide education drive to help them vote tactically and stop MPs who support the government’s Brexit strategy being elected.

In a scathing assessment of Labour’s stance since the EU referendum result, Mrs Miller said the SNP had stepped in as the main source of parliamentary opposition to Brexit.

She said: “Ordinary citizens, the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens – they’re coming together. The problem is that we’re all too small on our own.”

Mrs Miller added: “There is no opposition. Our country is sleepwalking into a disaster, with no-one holding it to account. I just can’t let that happen. How do I justify that to my children, my grandchildren, to myself?”

In total, as much as £55,400 could be spent in Scotland by Mrs Miller’s Best for Britain campaign. As a non-party campaign group, it can spend up to £9,750 backing a specific candidate, which represents a significant proportion of what candidates and their parties are permitted to spend.

A crowd-funding appeal by Mrs Miller raised almost £300,000 for Best for Britain, with the group able to spend up to £390,000 across the UK on candidates opposed to a hard Brexit. Donors include Richard Branson.

Mrs Miller said the campaign would reveal 20-30 seats across the UK where it will play a direct role next week, with at least one Scottish constituency set to appear on that list.

Despite receiving death threats and requiring protection following her legal action against the government, Mrs Miller said she had a responsibility to get involved in the election campaign.

“The result could be landslide where Theresa May has a mandate for five years and says, ‘Don’t question anything I do’,” she said.

“I now have a platform. What do I do with it? Do I walk away, or do I embrace the place I’m in?

“A lot of thought went into it. The more the dire the demise of the opposition becomes, I just feel somebody’s got to do it.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432720.1493407814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432720.1493407814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gina Millers campaign will support candidates across the UK opposed to a hard Brexit. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gina Millers campaign will support candidates across the UK opposed to a hard Brexit. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432720.1493407814!/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/general-election-2017-may-comes-to-scotland-as-polls-show-tory-revival-1-4432726","id":"1.4432726","articleHeadline": "General Election 2017: May comes to Scotland as polls show Tory revival","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493413200000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May will launch her party’s bid to recapture its former Scottish heartlands today, almost 20 years to the day since the Conservatives were wiped out north of the Border.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432725.1493459209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon MSP (L) poses for a picture with two-year-old, Alasdair Murray (R) as she campaigns ahead of the general election in Neilston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, on April 28, 2017. Sturgeon campaigned with incumbent SNP candidate for East Renfrewshire Kirsten Oswald in Neilson on the outskirts of Glasgow ahead of the UK General Election on June 8. / AFP PHOTO / Andy BuchananANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Mrs May will campaign in Scotland for the first time as polls put the Scottish Tories on course to win multiple seats at Westminster at the expense of the SNP.

The Prime Minister will join Ruth Davidson to stand against a second independence referendum and argue that the fortunes of Scotland and the UK are bound together.

“My message to the people of Scotland today is clear: if you vote for me it will strengthen my hand in the Brexit negotiations,” Mrs May is expected to say. “It will strengthen the Union, strengthen the economy and together the UK and Scotland will ­flourish. Because when Scotland is 
flourishing, the rest of the United Kingdom is flourishing too.”

Monday marks two decades since the 1997 Labour general election landslide in which all 11 Scottish Conservative MPs lost their seats.

The party has struggled in Scotland ever since, winning only one MP at every Westminster election and remaining stuck in third place in the Scottish Parliament until a resurgence last year, led by Ms Davidson.

The Prime Minister’s visit comes as a poll suggested the Conservatives could take as many as eight seats on 8 June. The YouGov poll for a national newspaper put the Conservatives on 28 per cent, an increase of 13 per cent on the 2015 general election.

Analysis suggests that would be enough to seize Moray from the SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson, and win in places like Aberdeenshire West and Kincardine, Aberdeen South and Dumfries and Galloway. Sources suggest the Prime Minister is set to make multiple campaign visits to Scotland to bolster the Conservative recovery.

Ms Davidson said the poll “reveals Theresa May is more in touch with people in Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon”.

She said: “Last month, Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Nicola Sturgeon all arrogantly declared that opposing a second referendum would stoke support for independence.

“In fact, most people in Scotland see the common sense in saying now is not the time for yet another divisive referendum campaign. The SNP should show some humility and take its unwanted plan for a referendum off the table immediately.”

SNP business manager Derek Mackay said the Tories’ strong polling showed “more than ever, it is only the SNP who can win against an out-of-control Tory Party under Theresa May.”

YouGov had good news for the other two unionist parties, with the Liberal Democrats on course to take East Dunbartonshire and Edinburgh West from the SNP to win seats, and Labour’s only Scottish MP holding on to his constituency despite his party’s poor overall standing.

The poll put support for Labour at 18 per cent in Scotland – ten percentage points lower than the Conservatives and well behind the SNP, who were on 41 per cent. It also showed 51 per cent of people were against a second independence referendum.

Kezia Dugdale dismissed reports that Labour is targeting just three seats in Scotland “absolute nonsense”.

Scottish Labour sources were quoted saying the party will focus its efforts on protecting Mr Murray’s Edinburgh South seat, and winning back East Renfrewshire and East Lothian.

Campaigning in Easterhouse in the east end of Glasgow, Ms Dugdale said: “We’re selecting candidates in all seats across the country. I’m immensely proud of the candidates we’ve selected, they represent a new generation of Labour candidates, many of them are standing for the first time.”

Jeremy Corbyn will hit back today at repeated attacks on his leadership qualities, claiming that a Conservative government will “hold Britain back” as people scale back their aspirations.

At a speech in east London today, the Labour leader will say a Conservative victory would deliver a “Brexit for the few” that will only benefit wealthy Tory backers who have a “get out of jail free card”.

Mr Corbyn will appeal for people to register to vote so their voice is heard in an election that “will define our times”.

He is expected to say: “Make no mistake, a Brexit for the few is now brewing. One where any money saved is handed out as tax cuts to the super-rich and their corporations. Where new trade deals with the US and elsewhere are used to drive down our working conditions, and environmental and food standards.”

Mr Corbyn will add: “Over 2.4 million young people are missing from the UK’s electoral register. Barely 40 per cent of 18 to 24-year olds turn out to vote.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432725.1493459209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432725.1493459209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon MSP (L) poses for a picture with two-year-old, Alasdair Murray (R) as she campaigns ahead of the general election in Neilston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, on April 28, 2017. Sturgeon campaigned with incumbent SNP candidate for East Renfrewshire Kirsten Oswald in Neilson on the outskirts of Glasgow ahead of the UK General Election on June 8. / AFP PHOTO / Andy BuchananANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), Nicola Sturgeon MSP (L) poses for a picture with two-year-old, Alasdair Murray (R) as she campaigns ahead of the general election in Neilston, on the outskirts of Glasgow, on April 28, 2017. Sturgeon campaigned with incumbent SNP candidate for East Renfrewshire Kirsten Oswald in Neilson on the outskirts of Glasgow ahead of the UK General Election on June 8. / AFP PHOTO / Andy BuchananANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432725.1493459209!/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/sturgeon-s-eu-plans-rejected-over-risk-of-uk-trade-barriers-1-4432382","id":"1.4432382","articleHeadline": "Sturgeon’s EU plans rejected over risk of UK trade barriers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493393924000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK Government rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to protect Scotland’s relationship with the EU because it would create trade barriers and cause “significant disruption” of the UK internal market.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis"} ,"articleBody": "

The rationale for the UK Government’s decision not to adopt the economic models proposed by the First Minister in her “Scotland’s Place in Europe” document came to light in a letter written by Brexit Secretary David Davis.

In the letter, Mr Davis also expressed dismay that the Scottish Government called for a second referendum before he had properly discussed Nicola Sturgeon’s plan.

Mr Davis was responding to Ms Sturgeon’s hefty paper, published in December which set out detailed proposals of how Scotland could protect trade and freedom of movement after Brexit.

Mr Davis’s letter was written in March, but remained under wraps until it was published on the Scottish Parliament’s website.

The letter said UK Government officials has undertaken a “programme of intensive discussions” to understand Ms Sturgeon’s proposals.

• READ MORE: Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP, predicts new poll

Ms Sturgeon looked at a range of possibilities including the possibility of Scotland becoming a full or associate member of the European Free Trade Association to maintain its place in the Single Market, in the event of the UK going for a hard Brexit.

Mr Davis said his officials had been engaged in “a substantive programme of work” and added: “I am disappointed that the Scottish Government has called for another referendum on independence before we were able to discuss the outcomes of this joint work that was entered into good faith.”

On the detail of Ms Sturgeon’s paper, Mr Davis said: “There are clear barriers to making your proposals a reality. Scotland’s accession to EFTA, and then the EEA (European Economic Area), would not be deliverable and, importantly, would require the consent of all EFTA and EU member states.

“Any divergence between EU and UK law -as a result, perhaps of new EU regulation- could lead to the creation of new barriers to trade within our Union, which could take the form of additional controls and checks on trade within the United Kingdom.”

• READ MORE: Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland

Mr Davis added: “Given that trade with the rest of the UK is worth four times trade with the EU, I do not believe that such significant disruption to the internal UK market is in Scotland’s – or the UK’s – best interests.

“And Scotland’s businesses could face a confusing mix of regulatory regimes.”

The four page letter claims the UK and Scottish Governments have many common objectives, but it warned that Nicola Sturgeon’s demand for membership of the EU Single Market cannot be met.

“The Scottish Government and the UK Government agree that achieving the freest and most frictionless trade with the EU and maintaining the deeply integrated trade and economic relationship with the EU is in both Scotland’s and the UK’s interests,” Mr Davis wrote.

“You have called specifically for membership of the Single Market as the means of delivering that end; as the Prime Minister has made clear, this is simply not possible if we wish to take back control of borders and immigration in the way people in Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom desire, nor if we wish to enjoy the supremacy of our domestic courts.

“However we share the same goal in terms of the outcome.”

The Scottish Government’s Brexit Minister Michael Russell has written back to Mr Davis re-stating the “fundamental importance” Ms Sturgeon’s administration places on EU Single Market membership.

Mr Russell added that the Scottish Parliament had “agreed an independence referendum” and complained that there has not been “proper discussion or engagement on the strategic choices we face” with the UK Government.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit Secretary David Davis","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432381.1493387820!/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/may-more-in-touch-with-voters-than-sturgeon-claims-davidson-1-4432239","id":"1.4432239","articleHeadline": "May ‘more in touch’ with voters than Sturgeon claims Davidson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493379726000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has claimed Theresa May is more in touch with voters north of the border than Nicola Sturgeon

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Conservatives leader made the claim after a new poll suggested the Conservatives could win eight seats in Scotland in the General Election.

Research by YouGov for The Times in Scotland put support for the Conservatives on 28% - double the 14% recorded for Labour.

The SNP continue to be the most popular party, with 41% of those questioned backing Ms Sturgeon’s party in the upcoming General Election.

The Liberal Democrats are supported by 7%, ahead of the Greens on 3% and Ukip on 2%.

Such a result could see the SNP win 47 seats north of the border - which would leave the nationalists nine down on the 56 constituencies they won in 2015.

READ MORE: Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP predicts new poll

The Tories could win eight seats in Scotland - with the projection suggesting the Conservatives could defeat SNP depute leader Angus Robertson in Moray.

Winning eight seats would give Mrs May’s party its best General Election return north of the border since 1992 when the party won 11.

Five years after that, the Tories were wiped out in Scotland when Tony Blair swept to power in 1997.

In 2015 the Tories won just one seat in Scotland, the Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale seat of Scottish Secretary David Mundell.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urged to set out indyref2 plan before election

Ms Davidson said: “This poll reveals Theresa May is more in touch with people in Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon.

“Last month, Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Nicola Sturgeon all arrogantly declared that opposing a second referendum would stoke support for independence.

“In fact, most people in Scotland see the common sense in saying now is not the time for yet another divisive referendum campaign.

“The SNP should show some humility and take its unwanted plan for a referendum off the table immediately.”

The poll found 45% of Scots back independence, with 55% in favour of the Union - the same result as recorded in the 2014 referendum.

While 42% said they wanted another vote on independence to take place, just over half (51%) were against this while 7% said they did not know.

More than 1,000 people took part in the survey between April 24 and 27.

The First Minister insisted it was only her party that could “stand up to the Tories” as she warned: “The truth is the more Tory MPs Westminster has, the heavier the price Scotland will pay.”

READ MORE: Theresa May signals rejection of Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit call

The SNP leader was campaigning in East Renfrewshire, which the SNP took from the then Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in 2015, whose party lost all but one of their Scottish seats.

Ms Sturgeon said: “A free hand for the Tories would mean even more cuts, more attacks on low-income families and a hard Brexit.

“The SNP is the only party that can stand up to the Tories and, working with the Scottish Parliament, SNP MPs will fight these devastating policies.”

Scottish Labour general election campaign manager James Kelly said: “This is yet another poll that shows people in Scotland do not want another divisive referendum and they don’t want to leave the UK.

“It’s time for the nationalists to focus on the job of governing, like dealing with the crisis in our schools and tackling the problems in the NHS after a decade of SNP mismanagement.

“Voters can send a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland is divided enough, we don’t need any more division.

“When people go to the polls for the council elections on May 4 and the General Election on June 8, they can vote Labour to elect a local champion; or they can vote SNP to elect a candidate who will only focus on another divisive referendum.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, in the main chamber of the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432236.1493379716!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432237.1493379719!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432237.1493379719!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit in Chesterfield. Picture; Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May during a visit in Chesterfield. Picture; Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432237.1493379719!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432238.1493379721!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432238.1493379721!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins local election campaign in Stirling with Bruce Crawford MSP. Picture; SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon joins local election campaign in Stirling with Bruce Crawford MSP. Picture; SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432238.1493379721!/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/news/politics/rail-policing-merger-driven-by-political-ideology-1-4432163","id":"1.4432163","articleHeadline": "Rail policing merger driven by 'political ideology'","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493376756116 ,"articleLead": "

The body representing railway police officers has said it is “hugely disappointed” after MSPs backed a controversial plan to integrate their work into Police Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BTP officers are opposed to the plans"} ,"articleBody": "

Holyrood’s justice committee’s backed the plans, despite opposition from its Labour and Tory members.

Under the Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, British Transport Police’s (BTP) operations north of the Border will be taken over by the national force.

The British Transport Police Federation said it had been clear from the outset that the move was being driven by \"political ideology”.

In a statement, the federation said: “This is a hugely disappointing but not entirely unexpected decision. From the outset, it has been clear to us that the merger of BTP Scotland and Police Scotland was about a political ideology.

“If it really was about what’s best for the travelling public, robust evidence as to the benefits would have been readily available. In our opinion that evidence remains sadly lacking.

“The merger has clearly divided opinion within the justice committee; we’re saddened that despite recognising there is little public support for the proposal the Scottish Government has been given the green light.”

In a report published today, the justice committee makes a series of recommendations for the merger, including a call to maintain a visible police presence on the rail network and ensure that cross-border information sharing remains effective.

Committee Convener, Margaret Mitchell MSP, said: “Much of the evidence raised concerns about integration. The committee did not arrive at a unanimous position on the bill’s general principles with some members backing an alternative approach.”

Scottish Labour’s justice spokeswoman Claire Baker MSP said: “With concerns over the financial memorandum attached to this bill, this could prove to be a costly way to fix a problem that isn’t broke.

“The Scottish Government must halt this bill and work with parliament, the police and the wider railway industry to look at all options for the future of the BTP in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "chris.marshall@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BTP officers are opposed to the plans","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BTP officers are opposed to the plans","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432162.1493376856!/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/scottish-councils-squander-1-million-on-electric-cars-1-4432134","id":"1.4432134","articleHeadline": "Scottish councils ‘squander’ £1 million on electric cars","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493376195000 ,"articleLead": "

SCOTTISH councils have “squandered” nearly one million pounds on electric cars which they barely use.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Scotland’s local councils have lavished £962,442 on just 147 electric vehicles since 2011.

But the vehicles have done 5,843 on average even though some of them are six years old and most cars do around 8,000 miles per year.

The total mileage for the same cars came in at 859,020 which has led to critics suggesting the councils have not “utilised them to the optimal level.”

Critics say the low mileage of the electric cars is “another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money.”

READ MORE: Will electric cars catch on in Scotland?

Some councils have promoted their use of electric vehicles for their zero emissions and green benefits.

However, limited range and storage space as well as questionable image mean the cars come with limitations.

Edinburgh Council have a fleet of electric vehicles dating back to 2011. A car they purchased in December 2014 for £21,037.91 has only done 5,803 miles, meaning a cost of over £3.50 for each mile it’s covered since it was bought.

Similarly, they have an electric vehicle purchased in September 2012 at a cost of £11,528 which has only done 9,679 miles. A cost of over £1 per mile.

Aberdeen City Council have four leased cars bought in September 2016 at a cost of £8580.96 each of which have done 262, 418, 1,421 and 1,842 miles respectively.

They also have a fifth car bought in March 2013 for £11,042.93 which has to date done 14,219, miles, which works out at just over 3,550 miles per year.

Glasgow City Council has 17 electric vehicles but refused to provide details on the costs of each vehicle.

Three of their cars were bought in 2012 with a further 14 taken on lease in 2015.

The most any of their vehicles have done is 13,067 miles with the least coming in at 1,647, and an average mileage of 4,872 per year, well under the UK average of 7,900.

Benefits of electric cars include zero-emissions, which helps the environment and reduces air pollution.

They cut CO2 emissions, and are cheaper to run and maintain, however critics maintain that the councils haven’t been getting proper use out of their cars.

Moray Council purchased a Peugeot iOn at a cost of £27,666 in July 2011, however, in the past six years it’s only done 14,112 miles.

READ MORE: Surge in Scottish drivers plugging into electric cars

Perth and Kinross Council purchased one of their electric vehicles in March 2012 for £12,725 but it has only done 8,570 miles in the past five years.

And Highland Council have a Toyota Prius they purchased in November 2016 at a lease cost of £3,286 per year but has yet to cover a single mile.

Similarly, they have a Nissan Leaf bought in the same month for £4,887 per year but has not done a mile either.

John O’Connell, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is another example of local authorities being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money before carrying out a thorough examination of what families are getting in return for their taxes.

“Well-intended these schemes may well be, but if the cars are not being utilised to the optimal level, is there really any justification for wasting such a large amount of money on them?

“Hard-pressed families expect their hard-earned cash to pay for essential services such as adult social care, not to be squandered on ideas that sound nice but don’t deliver.”

Scottish Conservative transport spokesman Liam Kerr said: “The Scottish Government hasn’t been shy in lecturing motorists about what they should and shouldn’t drive.

READ MORE: Scotland’s use of electric car charging points doubles

“And while it’s reasonable enough to promote environmentally-friendly alternatives, how can the SNP expect drivers to take this message on if councils don’t?

“This experiment has come at quite an expense to the taxpayer, and it’s simply not working.

“Council funds are scarce due to the decisions of this SNP government and they can ill-afford to be spending on big-ticket items which remain unused.

“Instead of constantly hitting motorists in the pocket and lecturing them on appropriate car choices, the Scottish Government should be finding ways of making this technology work for everyone.”

One of the most popular electric cars on the market is the Nissan Leaf, which can travel up to 155 miles per charge depending on conditions.

They typically cost £16,680 and take 30 minutes to charge 80% of the battery.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "FRASER CLARKE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "An electric car charging point at Edinburgh City Chambers. Picture; Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432131.1493376186!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432132.1493376190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432132.1493376190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Councils have been quick to introduce electric cars. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Councils have been quick to introduce electric cars. Picture; Steven Scott Taylor.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432132.1493376190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432133.1493376192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432133.1493376192!/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/1.4432133.1493376192!/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/news/politics/conservatives-to-take-7-seats-from-snp-predicts-new-poll-1-4431917","id":"1.4431917","articleHeadline": "Conservatives to take 7 seats from SNP predicts new poll","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493374925000 ,"articleLead": "

The Conservatives are on course to pick up seven seats in Scotland in the General Election, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a general election campaign event at the Shine Centre in Leeds. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

A projection from a YouGov poll for The Times Scotland gives the SNP 47 seats, the Tories eight, the Liberal Democrats three and Labour still with only one MP after the June 8 vote.

Among the seats predicted to change hands are Moray, currently held by SNP depute leader Angus Robertson, and Aberdeen South, where Callum McCaig won almost 42% of the vote in 2015.

Eight seats would be the highest Tory return north of the border since 1992 when the party won 11, but they were all wiped out in the 1997 general election.

The Tories, who are campaigning on a message of opposing the SNP’s bid for a second independence referendum, currently have one Scottish MP - David Mundell.

Voting intentions from the Times poll have the SNP leading on 41%, the Tories on 28%, with Labour at 18%, Lib Dems 7%, Greens 3% and Ukip on 2% across Scotland.

A Panelbase survey earlier in April had the SNP on 44% and the Tories on 33%.

Questioned on independence, respondents to the latest YouGov/Times poll were 45% Yes and 55% No, the same result as in the 2014 referendum.

The Times poll also found that 42% are in favour of another referendum, with 51% against and 7% saying they don’t know.

Focusing on the timing of any future independence referendum under the proposed SNP timetable, 37% said they want one after Brexit negotiations conclude but before Britain leaves the EU, while 49% said they did not want a referendum at that time.

More than 1,000 people took part in the survey between April 24 and 27.

READ MORE: Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland

The other seats the poll suggests the Conservatives will win from the SNP are West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Perth and North Perthshire, Dumfries and Galloway, the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat and East Renfrewshire, while retaining Mr Mundell’s constituency of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale.

On the campaign trail on Friday, Nicola Sturgeon is prioritising public services and community investment as she takes the SNP election campaign to a key constituency.

The First Minister will be in East Renfrewshire with party candidate Kirsten Oswald, who defeated then Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in the constituency in 2015.

The former campaign director of Better Together during the 2014 independence referendum, Blair McDougall, will contest the seat for Scottish Labour this year, while Paul Masterton is the Conservative candidate.

Ms Sturgeon said only her party “can stand up to the Tories”.

“The truth is the more Tory MPs Westminster has, the heavier the price Scotland will pay,” she said.

“This cruel and damaging agenda has been created by a Tory Government with a narrow majority, imagine what they could achieve if they succeeded in their aim of crushing all parliamentary opposition.

“A free hand for the Tories would mean even more cuts, more attacks on low income families and a hard Brexit.

“The SNP is the only party that can stand up to the Tories, and working with the Scottish parliament SNP MPs will fight these devastating policies.

“It is now clearer than ever, a vote for the SNP is a vote to back public services, to oppose austerity and to invest in our communities.”

READ MORE: Petition to delay indyref2 thrown out by MSPs

Scottish Labour general election campaign manager James Kelly said: “This is yet another poll that shows people in Scotland do not want another divisive referendum and they don’t want to leave the UK. It’s time for the nationalists to focus on the job of governing, like dealing with the crisis in our schools and tackling the problems in the NHS after a decade of SNP mismanagement.

“Voters can send a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland is divided enough, we don’t need any more division.

“When people go to the polls for the council elections on May 4 and the General Election on June 8 they can vote Labour to elect a local champion; or they can vote SNP to elect a candidate who will only focus on another divisive referendum.”

Conservative candidate for Edinburgh South West, Miles Briggs, said only the Scottish Tories could defeat the SNP as Labour and the Lib Dems were “out of the race”.

He said: “These figures show that people are putting their faith in the Scottish Conservatives right across Scotland. They are sick of the SNP’s repeated threat of another independence referendum, and know we’re the only ones who can stop them.

“In constituencies right across Scotland, we’ll be fighting for every single vote, and coming after the SNP for these seats.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a general election campaign event at the Shine Centre in Leeds. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a general election campaign event at the Shine Centre in Leeds. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431916.1493368485!/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/labour-mps-speak-out-against-trump-state-visit-1-4432084","id":"1.4432084","articleHeadline": "Labour MPs speak out against Trump state visit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493373993000 ,"articleLead": "

Renewed criticism of the planned state visit to Britain by US President Donald Trump has been voiced by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and other politicians.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump."} ,"articleBody": "

In a move timed to coincide with the milestone of Mr Trump’s first 100 days in the White House, a number of parliamentarians have issued a statement criticising Prime Minister Theresa May’s invitation to the president.

It states: “It is deeply regrettable that Theresa May is determined to press ahead with according US President Donald Trump a state visit, ignoring the views of millions of British people.

READ MORE: Donald Trump visit ‘will shift to Scotland to deter protests’

“Racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, war-mongering, climate change denial, attacks on human rights, or policies that will deepen poverty and inequality should not be rewarded or celebrated by our Government.

“Most people in Britain want no part of it. We will continue to oppose this state visit - it is not in our name.”

As well as Ms Abbott, the bid is supported by fellow shadow cabinet member Cat Smith, prominent Labour MPs Dennis Skinner and David Lammy, and Baroness Kinnock.

Spokeswoman for the Stand Up To Trump campaign, Maz Saleem, said: “Trump has already committed numerous war crimes and has massively escalated the bombing in the Middle East - his war-mongering is a threat to the entire world. He has pursued a racist, Islamophobic and otherwise bigoted agenda home and abroad.

“It is vital that we build a broad and sustained movement that maintains the opposition to Trump. Our primary goal is to build the pressure for a cancellation of the state visit, but if it does goes ahead, we will be ready to mobilise on a massive scale.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JEMMA CREW"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour MPs have voiced concern about the state visit of President Donald Trump.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432081.1493373926!/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/brexit-could-trigger-worst-slump-since-2008-vince-cable-1-4432020","id":"1.4432020","articleHeadline": "Brexit could trigger worst slump since 2008- Vince Cable","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493370488000 ,"articleLead": "

Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash, former Liberal Democrat Cabinet minister Sir Vince Cable has predicted.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The ex-business secretary warned that a combination of falling consumer confidence, job losses, and inflation has the potential to outstrip the credit crunch storm if Prime Minister Theresa May pushes through a hard Brexit withdrawal from the EU.

READ MORE: UK economy slowdown worse than feared as sales fall

Sir Vince, who hopes take back his old seat of Twickenham for the Lib Dems in the General Election, said: “For Britain, the economic weather is arguably worse than it was before the credit crunch. The pound has plummeted, which is driving up prices and trapping consumers in a vicious Brexit squeeze.

“Consumer confidence was all that kept the storm clouds away. But with job losses at everywhere from Deutsche Bank to Nestle, that confidence is going to drain away further.

“The chancellor clearly has no confidence in the economic strategy of the Government, because he knows that leaving the single market and customs union has the potential to devastate the UK economy.

“If Britain enters a second economic storm, it will be Theresa May’s economic storm. You can’t have a hard Brexit and a strong economy.

“That is why it is vital that the General Election produces a large increase in MPs who understand why it is essential to remain in the single market and customs union.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Vince Cable has predicted that Brexit could trigger a bigger slump than the 2008 financial crash. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4432019.1493370484!/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/labour-targeting-just-three-key-seats-in-scotland-1-4431903","id":"1.4431903","articleHeadline": "Labour targeting just three key seats in Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493363383000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour are targeting just three constituencies in Scotland according to party sources focusing only on seats where they believe there is ‘a real chance of victory’

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour are targeting just three seats in Scotland, with the seat of Ian Murray MP being one of them. Picture; John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

As a result of the campaign, Jeremy Corbyn will have to rely on winning seats from the Conservatives in England if he is to be the next Prime Minister.

The plan from Labour comes following reports in The Herald that the Conservatives are seeking to launch a strategy that would see them claim the seat of Angus Robertson, the SNP’s deputy leader.

His seat is one of the many the Conservatives are hoping to claim in June.

READ MORE: Falkirk council election a two-way race between SNP and Labour

Scottish Labour however aim to focus their limited resources mainly on seats where they could claim a victory.

Some of the majorities in their loss to the SNP two years ago saw majorities of over 10,000, making it all but impossible to reclaim seats.

Three constituencies in Scotland have been targeted by the party.

Edinburgh South, the seat of Ian Murray who was the only Labour survivor in the 2015 wipeout which saw the party lose 40 of 41 seats, is aiming to maintain his seat .

Jim Murphy’s old seat, East Renfrewshire is also being targeted by the party with the SNP’s Kirsten Oswald having a majority of just 3,718. This week saw Blair MacDougall, the former Better Together chief, announced as the candidate in the area.

Labour are also confident of challenging for East Lothian, where SNP MP George Kerevan has a majority of 6,083

The latest YouGov poll is grim reading for the party however, indicating a 16 point gap between Labour and the Conservatives, despite Labour claiming some ground back.

Electoral Calculus, the political forecasting website, has predicted Labour will experience a complete wipe-out in Scotland with the SNP winning 46 seats, down 10 on 2015, the Tories winning 11, up 10, and the Liberal Democrats securing two, up one.

Another poll also suggested that the Tories would become the biggest party in Wales forcing some to question the tactic to only target a few seats in Scotland,

Speaking in The Herald, a Conservative source said they were confident of securing seats in Scotland, targeting key seats such as the Moray seat of Angus Robertson.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon urges SNP vote ‘for public services’

One poll last weekend suggested Ruth Davidson’s party would win 33 per cent of the vote, gaining a dozen seats.

The source said: “We believe we can put him under a great deal of pressure. He cannot hide from EU questions his party has been trying to dodge - do they want to be in the EU, in EFTA, have a referendum, etc, etc – in an area with such a strong Leave vote.”

Mr Robertson has hit back however stating that he was “looking forward” to defeating his Conservative opponent - for the third time in a row.

Speaking in Leeds, Theresa May said: “It may say Labour on the ballot but it’s Jeremy Corbyn that gets the vote.

“There are only two people who can possibly be Prime Minister on June 9; only two people who can possibly represent Britain in Europe. The choice is between five years of strong and stable leadership with me as Prime Minister or a coalition of chaos with Jeremy Corbyn at the helm, a weak leader negotiating Brexit and higher taxes, debt and waste.”

When promoting, Jeremy Corbyn told fans: “We’re eight days into the election campaign and the Tories have been reduced to personal name-calling. I’ve never been involved in that and never will be.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour are targeting just three seats in Scotland, with the seat of Ian Murray MP being one of them. Picture; John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour are targeting just three seats in Scotland, with the seat of Ian Murray MP being one of them. Picture; John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431900.1493361924!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431901.1493361927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431901.1493361927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Murray, Scotland's only Labour MP. Picture Steven Scott Taylor.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Murray, Scotland's only Labour MP. Picture Steven Scott Taylor.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431901.1493361927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431902.1493361928!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431902.1493361928!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Conservatives are optimistic about claiming the seat of Angus Robertson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Conservatives are optimistic about claiming the seat of Angus Robertson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431902.1493361928!/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/news/opinion/brian-wilson-chance-to-follow-paisley-pattern-and-back-a-local-vision-1-4431419","id":"1.4431419","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: Chance to follow Paisley pattern and back a local vision","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493362800000 ,"articleLead": "

Next week’s local elections have more or less disappeared into the morass of general election coverage and tedious referendum speculation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A mass outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty's classic Baker Street in Paisley."} ,"articleBody": "

The Tories, not unreasonably, believe they can improve their standing in the former by pointing to the threat of the latter. The Nationalists, having set the hare running, don’t now know how to stop it even though it has developed a distinct limp.

Voices seeking to focus on other matters find difficulty in being heard. Even those who suspect the Nationalists might do less well than assumed next Thursday attribute that to the unpopularity of Ms Sturgeon’s referendum zeal rather than her administration’s atrocious treatment of local government.

That’s a pity. The statistics which matter need not be divined from opinion polls but should start from two hard facts. First, since 2010 and the era of “austerity” budgets, the Scottish Government’s resources have increased in real terms by 0.4 per cent. Second, in the same period, the Scottish Government has cut the allocation to councils by 19.4 per cent.

These are not difficult figures to understand and are the Scottish Government’s own. They are considerably more difficult to defend, if anyone took the trouble to prosecute them. It remains a mystery why so little effort has been made to put them at the centre of public attention since so much else flows from them.

For starters, they make a mockery of the SNP’s campaign pledge to “protect local services” by “stopping them falling into the hands of the Tories”. If anyone can provide an explanation of how receiving a marginally increased budget equates to wicked austerity while cutting the money to those who deliver the said services by nearly a fifth represents “protecting” anything, I would be interested to hear it.

The Nationalists do not deserve an enhanced local mandate – not solely or mainly due to their referendum fixation but as a rejection of their treatment of councils and the services they provide. That, in turn, is part of a much wider centralising agenda which consistently transfers powers and resources to Scotland-wide bodies, closer to Ministerial control.

Local government is much maligned but by any reasonable measure delivers a more reliable and recognisable job for its electorate than any higher tier of policy-making. Most of it goes unreported but that does not make it any less significant. On the contrary, much of the stuff of headlines is, by comparison, trivial and marginal in its impact on people’s daily lives.

Much of the creativity in politics arises at local level because those responsible are motivated by a desire to do what is best for the places in which they live. Local politics is not an abstraction which might, hypothetically, deliver great benefits at some point in the future. Councillors know their own communities and, overwhelmingly, have a real desire to make them better places to live in.

In that spirit, I will dwell on one example of the difference a good local authority can make and which would never, never come from a centralised Scotland-wide approach to local regeneration. I refer to the effort by Renfrewshire Council to have Paisley designated as the UK’s City of Culture in 2021. The bid will be lodged today along with ten others, including Perth.

Paisley is a classic example of a post-industrial town which has not had its troubles to seek. Its wealth was built on textiles with mills employing tens of thousands. One by one, they closed until the industry disappeared altogether by the 1990s, along with other major employers. Meanwhile, a massive shopping development was established at Braehead and Paisley’s town centre went into freefall.

Parts of Paisley have among the highest deprivation rates in Scotland. So who would think of promoting Paisley as a “city of culture”? Well, the answer is “a good local authority” and the same kind of visionaries who saw the benefits of winning transformational designations for Glasgow in the past and, more recently, won City of Culture status for ostensibly unpromising places like Derry and Hull. In other words, not national politicians but local councils.

Scrape the surface and Paisley’s bid becomes more comprehensible, building on strengths that would scarcely be recognised outside the community itself. Its town centre has Scotland’s second-highest concentration of listed buildings, behind only Edinburgh and numbering 111. Its museum holds a stunning collection based on Paisley’s textile heritage and is central to the overall bid.

Paisley is using the bid as a means of redefining the town centre as a hub for creative industries. The council believe their approach to regeneration can show the way for many other towns facing similar challenges. In this way, the local authority is looking to the future while at the same time delivering the services on which its poorest people rely most – and all against the backdrop of a 20 per cent funding cut.

I got to know a bit about the Paisley bid because, wearing my Harris Tweed hat, we are working with them to revive historic synergies between the two textile traditions. As a result, I have become even more convinced than before that by far the most effective way of making a real difference to struggling Scottish communities is to pass more powers and resources down to local levels – not by taking them away as is happening at present. It is true in islands, towns and cities. That should be the underlying issue next Thursday, yet it is barely spoken of.

Can that be changed in the last week? Never mind worrying about television debates around the general election. What exposure has there been to the competing visions for our cities and districts? Virtually none. What attempt has there been to hold Ministers accountable for these massive funding cuts? Virtually none. What credit has been given to councils, like Renfrewshire, which is facing challenges with a degree of creativity that makes Holyrood look like a backwater? None at all.

Next Thursday, local government should be judged on its merits in each of Scotland’s 32 council areas. If that is applied, the one certainty is that the winners will not be the political party which has robbed councils of one-fifth of their budgets and now claims the right to exploit the consequences.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN WILSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A mass outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty's classic Baker Street in Paisley.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A mass outdoor rendition of Gerry Rafferty's classic Baker Street in Paisley.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431418.1493302779!/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/joyce-mcmillan-uk-divided-between-the-young-and-the-old-1-4431781","id":"1.4431781","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: UK divided between the young and the old","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493362800000 ,"articleLead": "

We are now in the hands of a demographic who have simply had enough of progressive concepts says Joyce McMillan

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431780.1493323960!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kezia Dugdale made the parliamentary speech of her life, but are such attacks hitting home asks Joyce McMillan."} ,"articleBody": "

Tuesday of this week, in the Scottish Parliament; and MSPs are debating the Conservative government’s notorious “rape clause”, the provision which exempts mothers from the recent legislation limiting state family credits to two children, provided they are willing to fill in an eight-page form proving that their third or subsequent child was conceived as a result of rape.

In a rare show of unity, the SNP and Labour parties unite to condemn this horrible piece of legislation; indeed the Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, makes the parliamentary speech of her life, reducing the Tory ranks to what seems like a stunned and ashamed silence. And their leader, Ruth Davidson, looks particularly uncomfortable - as befits a social liberal who helped to kick-start the recent Conservative revival in Scotland by shaking off the Tories’ “nasty party” image, and giving the party a younger, more tolerant and more compassionate look.

As the debate unfolds, though, it’s difficult not to feel a sense of futility, as if the criticisms of the measure - however eloquent - are simply failing to hit any target that might actually make a difference. For of late, something has happened to right-wing politics in Britain, and perhaps across the western world; a sharp swerve to the right - typified by the Tories’ sudden shift towards a ‘hard Brexit’ - that seems to have left many voters impervious to arguments about the cruelty or bigotry of the policies they support. It first became obvious during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, when his supporters resolutely refused to be shocked by any of his comments, whether racist, sexist, or downright abusive.

And since the EU referendum, it has become increasingly clear that here in Britain, too, our politics is now being driven by a large group of mainly older voters who have simply had enough of the 21st century and its supposed values, and want to dial back to some imagined past. By the time the polls close on 8 June, Scotland will have endured no fewer than six major elections in less than 1000 days; and it is a fact that if only voters under 40 had taken part, at least three of those six would have had radically different results, with Scotland becoming independent, all the countries of the UK remaining in the EU, and Jeremy Corbyn now looking forward to moving into Downing Street.

Yet thanks to high voting figures among older age-groups, and the increasingly right-wing views of that group, the Britain in which we are living - overwhelmingly Tory, and committed to a hard Brexit despite a wafer-thin majority for any Brexit at all - has become a country shaped largely by older men and and women, according to their own priorities. It’s not, of course, that all younger people are radical and progressive, and all older people reactionary and illiberal; to generalise about whole generations is always to do a grave injustice to those who do not fit the stereotype.

To judge by their voting patterns, though, we are now in the hands of a demographic who have simply had enough of a whole raft of progressive concepts like social justice, racial and gender equality, European unity, environmental protection, workers’ rights, or anything at all to do with tackling climate change. And increasingly, they are not interested in arguments about just how morally repellent and practically counter-productive many right-wing policies are. They know all that, just as Donald Trump’s supporters knew all about their candidate’s character; and it simply makes no difference.

All of which leaves British politics in a very strange place, and Scottish politics in an even stranger one. When Ruth Davidson set out on her Scottish Conservative journey, David Cameron was Prime Minister, social liberalism was in vogue in Downing Street, and her task in Scotland was to replace the hard-faced image of ideological Thatcherism with something more up-to-date, genial, practical and pleasant.

Now, though, Ruth Davidson finds herself at the head of a party that is flourishing in the polls not as the cheerful, forward-looking friend of Scottish business, but as the go-to destination not only for diehard Unionists of all shades, but also for a high proportion of Scotland’s Brexiteers, including some from the SNP, and - presumably - most of those Scots who voted Ukip in the last EU elections. Over the last few years, we have seen images of Ruth Davidson riding all sorts of animals, including a rhinoceros; but now, she may often find herself riding an elderly, bad-tempered tiger - one whose views she does not share, and which has an alarming tendency to veer off in a rightward direction.

None of that, of course, will detract from the Scottish Tories’ intense pleasure at establishing themselves ever more firmly as Scotland’s second party, and doubtless taking a handful of Westminster seats from the SNP, who will struggle - given the increasing concentration of the Unionist vote - to repeat their remarkable near-clean-sweep of 2015.

Only a politician with exceptionally blinkered vision, though - and Theresa May perfectly fits the bill - could fail to be concerned about the fate of a UK so profoundly divided between the priorities of the old and of the young, and so bent on a direction of travel that seems driven more by nostalgia for Britain’s past, than by any convincing vision of its future. And while there are liberal Unionists in Scotland who say they are thinking of voting Tory this time, because Ruth Davidson doesn’t seem too bad, they should be careful, before they mark that ballot paper, not to underestimate the extent to which the Tory party at Westminster has changed, since the dramatic events of last summer.

For in the end, their vote will be a vote not for Ruth Davidson, but for Theresa May, for more savage austerity, for the post-Brexit slashing of social and environmental protections, and for the baying ranks of Westminster Toryism, bent on further Atlanticist military adventures in the age of Donald Trump. And for all Boris Johnson’s famous “wit”, as he quips his way around the world in the role of Foreign Secretary, that prospect is no joke; not for Scotland, and not for the UK as a whole.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JOYCE McMILLAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431780.1493323960!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431780.1493323960!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kezia Dugdale made the parliamentary speech of her life, but are such attacks hitting home asks Joyce McMillan.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kezia Dugdale made the parliamentary speech of her life, but are such attacks hitting home asks Joyce McMillan.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431780.1493323960!/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/nicola-sturgeon-urges-snp-vote-for-public-services-1-4431891","id":"1.4431891","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon urges SNP vote ‘for public services’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493361261000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is prioritising public services and community investment as she takes the SNP election campaign to a key constituency.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431890.1493361257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has inisisted a vote for the SNP is a vote for public services."} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister will be in East Renfrewshire on Friday with party candidate Kirsten Oswald, who defeated then Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy in the constituency in 2015.

The former campaign director of Better Together during the 2014 independence referendum, Blair McDougall, will contest the seat for Scottish Labour this year while Paul Masterton is the Conservative candidate.

Ms Sturgeon said only her party “can stand up to the Tories”.

READ MORE: Poll: Nicola Sturgeon enjoys ‘highest approval in Scotland’

“The truth is the more Tory MPs Westminster has, the heavier the price Scotland will pay,” Scotland’s First Minister said.

“This cruel and damaging agenda has been created by a Tory government with a narrow majority, imagine what they could achieve if they succeeded in their aim of crushing all parliamentary opposition.

“A free hand for the Tories would mean even more cuts, more attacks on low income families and a hard Brexit.

“The SNP is the only party that can stand up to the Tories, and working with the Scottish parliament SNP MPs will fight these devastating policies.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: ‘I have democratic mandate for indyref2’
“It is now clearer than ever, a vote for the SNP is a vote to back public services, to oppose austerity and to invest in our communities.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431890.1493361257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431890.1493361257!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has inisisted a vote for the SNP is a vote for public services.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has inisisted a vote for the SNP is a vote for public services.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431890.1493361257!/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/white-powder-package-threat-to-scots-politicians-1-4431449","id":"1.4431449","articleHeadline": "White powder package threat to Scots politicians","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493359278000 ,"articleLead": "

Several packages containing “suspicious” white powder have been sent to politicians’ offices across Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429301.1493387458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The targets included the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh.

Three packages containing a “white powder” were delivered to the office of the Nationalist MP John Nicholson in East Dunbartonshire on Tuesday.

A separate package was delivered to the Angus Council offices in Forfar on Wednesday containing a message “Get SNP out. Tories In.”

Police have issued advice about dealing with suspicious packages after the string of incidents.

A statement issued to MSPs Thursday by Scottish Parliament security chiefs said: “All packages were associated with the forthcoming UK general election.

“Police Scotland’s enquiries into this matter are ongoing.”

READ MORE: Knifeman arrested on terror charges in Whitehall

A letter from Police Scotland has also been distributed to MSPs with further advice regarding mail handling, suspicious packages and indicators of “white powder”.

The statement to MSPs added: “We would be grateful if you would take the time to review this information and discuss with your local office staff.

“The same information has been issued to all elected representatives across Scotland.”

The package sent to Mr Nicholson’s East Dunbartonshire constituency office was “intended to cause,” the MP said afterwards.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4429301.1493387458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4429301.1493387458!/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/1.4429301.1493387458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431886.1493359274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431886.1493359274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP MP John Nicholson's office was one of those targeted","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP MP John Nicholson's office was one of those targeted","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431886.1493359274!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1493284344543"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/john-maguire-why-all-the-faux-outrage-over-election-1-4431240","id":"1.4431240","articleHeadline": "John Maguire: Why all the faux outrage over election?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493359223000 ,"articleLead": "

The absolute hysteria resulting from the Prime Minister’s decision to call an early general election has been quite astonishing.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431239.1493294685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "PM is answering her critics with this election, says John Maguire. Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Labour MP Dawn Butler described holding an election, at which the voice of the people can be heard, as “trying to rig democracy”!

Not to be outdone in hyperbole, a Sky News commentator described the PM as being a megalomaniac – but presumably a democratic ­megalomaniac.

If we cast our mind back to the immediate aftermath of the ­Brexit referendum, and the ‘coronation’ of Mrs May as PM, we will find that Tim Farron wrote that “the case for an ­early general ­election is ­overwhelming”, a view ­echoed at the time by Green Party MP ­Caroline Lucas. In September, ­Jeremy ­Corbyn announced that he was “putting the Party on notice to ­prepare for an early general election in 2017”, and at the end of December he said that he “would support ­legislation that called for a snap election”.

Nicola Sturgeon had to get in on the act, and accused the Prime ­Minister of being “not yet elected by anyone”. Calling an early election should, therefore, finally resolve these “legitimate concerns”.

So why the faux outrage over the PM using the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliament Act to call a snap election? After all, it was parliamentarians who drew up and approved the ­wording of this Act in the first place.

So the PM was perfectly within her rights to use the Act to further the best ­interests of her party. Which party leader in Mrs May’s shoes – especially given the state of the polls – would not have done the same?

Assuming the Conservatives win, and secure a healthy majority, this election should answer the PM’s ­critics, who argue that she is ­currently unelected and has no mandate.

It should also provide clarity on what direction the majority of the electorate wants the government to pursue over our Brexit negotiations. Moderate Labour MPs and supporters should welcome this election as being their best opportunity to rid themselves of Mr Corbyn’s damaging leadership.

For those in Scotland who are opposed to a second independence referendum, this election could send a strong message to the SNP, especially if the polls are accurate and they end up with fewer seats in Westminster.

However, Ms Sturgeon is already downplaying the potential loss of Westminster seats and is insisting that last year’s Holyrood ­election result still gives her a mandate to hold ­IndyRef2.

Whatever the outcome of the ­election, it is the right way forward for the entire country and it should bring us all some much needed ­political clarity and stability, especially for the overworked Scottish electorate. We will all deserve a welcome break from politics after 8 June.

John Maguire lives in Kelso. He is a retired UK diplomat.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431239.1493294685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431239.1493294685!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "PM is answering her critics with this election, says John Maguire. Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "PM is answering her critics with this election, says John Maguire. Picture: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431239.1493294685!/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/deprived-more-likely-to-be-excluded-from-chronic-care-1-4431797","id":"1.4431797","articleHeadline": "Deprived ‘more likely’ to be excluded from chronic care","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493328912000 ,"articleLead": "

GP practices in Scotland’s most-deprived areas are twice as likely to exclude patients due to non-attendance for chronic disease management appointments than surgeries in more affluent areas.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431796.1493328908!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "How likely you are to be excluded from chronic care reviews can often be determined by whether you live in a socially deprived area. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A team of experts from the University of Glasgow studied data collected from 793 general practices across Scotland, 83 per cent of the total, serving 4.4 million patients over a three year period from 2010 to 2013. They found that patients from socially deprived areas were more likely to be excluded from attending chronic disease management (CDM) reviews on a “three-and-your-out” basis, meaning anyone missing three invited reviews in a 12-month period was no longer asked to attend a GP appointment.

A chronic disease is defined as something long-standing, over three to six months which cannot be “cured” by medication but is managed. This covers illnesses like strokes, diabetes and heart disease. The authors’ recommendations include further commitment to engage with “hard to reach” people in disadvantaged areas who have a greater burden of multiple chronic conditions and may be more likely to miss appointments at their GP, despite increased need.

Reasons for this include difficulties securing time off unstable work, caring for young children, not understanding the need to attend, not receiving the invitation or being unable to afford transport costs.

Professor Frances Mair, one of the report’s authors, from the University of Glasgow, said the exclusion didn’t mean you were kicked-out of your local surgery but would not be asked to attend any further reviews specifically related to a particular chronic illness. A patient was given a separate review for each chronic disease they have.

She said: “One of the things we found was that people from deprived areas are likely to have more multi-morbidity, so they’re likely to have two or more chronic conditions. That’s one example of a reason why people may not come for all of their reviews – if you’ve got a whole lot of reviews to attend it’s more work for you.”

The study looked at the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) which was scrapped by the Scottish Government last year.

Health secretary Shona Robison said: “Tackling inequalities is a key outcome of our primary care strategy reflected in our joint memorandum with the BMA. Through the recruitment and retention fund we are supporting the deep end pioneer scheme which is doing valuable work to bring new GPs into practices in deprived areas.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN CHRISTIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431796.1493328908!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431796.1493328908!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "How likely you are to be excluded from chronic care reviews can often be determined by whether you live in a socially deprived area. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "How likely you are to be excluded from chronic care reviews can often be determined by whether you live in a socially deprived area. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431796.1493328908!/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/davidson-sturgeon-told-a-whopper-over-election-and-indyref2-1-4431453","id":"1.4431453","articleHeadline": "Davidson: Sturgeon told a ‘whopper’ over election and indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493328488000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of telling Scots a “whopper” when she told voters the general election is not about Scottish independence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431452.1493304224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused the First Minister of treating the electorate as 'fools'"} ,"articleBody": "

The row over the SNP’s treatment of their plans for a second independence referendum ahead of the 8 June poll escalated when Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed the First Minister is treating people as “fools”.

In an effort to win votes in the Westminster election, Ms Davidson said the SNP leader was trying to “face both ways” and “promise all things to all people”.

The SNP has been accused of trying to play down Ms Sturgeon’s plans for another referendum ever since the First Minister told the broadcaster STV: “’This election is not deciding whether or not Scotland is independent.’’

Ms Sturgeon’s critics have claimed she has been keen to keep her plans in the background, because she knows many voters are hostile towards them.

After Theresa May announced her snap election, it emerged that the First Minister intends to delay her announcement on how she will progress her referendum plans until after the UK has been to the polls.

The row was reignited earlier this week when her predecessor Alex Salmond appeared to give the issue more prominence.

Mr Salmond said Scots casting their ballots on 8 June “will know that they are voting to support the right of the parliament to decide on the holding of the Scottish referendum”.

READ MORE: FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon slammed over teaching vacancies

Asked about the former First Minister’s remarks yesterday, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs at First Minister’s Questions the vote is “an opportunity to determine who chooses Scotland’s future” – and insisted that was “exactly the same” as Mr Salmond’s position.

Ms Davidson continued her attack by saying there were apparent differences within the SNP on issues such as fishing and Scotland’s place in Europe post-Brexit.

The Conservative leader was reacting to the fact that two SNP politicians had signed a pledge to protect fishermen by keeping Scotland outside the EU.

Elidh Whiteford and Mike Weir, who are defending Banff and Buchan and Angus respectively, backed a campaign to keep Scotland out of the Common Fisheries policy – a fundamental part of EU membership.

Ms Davidson said: “What we’ve got is that the SNP say they are in favour of joining the European Union, with the First Minister not confirming whether the SNP will back full membership in their manifesto. They say they are in favour of the Common Fisheries policy, except for MPs in fishing communities who say they are against it.

“Then we have the real whopper – in Scotland we have Nicola Sturgeon saying the coming election hasn’t anything to do whatsoever with independence, but from the broadcast studios of London up pops Alex Salmond to confirm they want to use this election to demand a referendum that the rest of us don’t want.

READ MORE: SNP accused of promoting ‘civil conflict’ in indyref2 push

“So, the First Minister thinks on fishing, on EU membership and on independence she can face both ways and promise all things to all people.”

Ms Davidson added: “Isn’t it the case that she is treating the electorate as fools?”

Ms Sturgeon responded: “This election is an opportunity to determine who chooses Scotland’s future, is it a Tory government at Westminster or is it this democratically-elected Scottish Parliament, exactly the same as Alex Salmond’s comments yesterday afternoon.”

She went on to accuse the Tories of being “all at sea” and “drowning” on the issue of fishing.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431452.1493304224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431452.1493304224!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused the First Minister of treating the electorate as 'fools'","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused the First Minister of treating the electorate as 'fools'","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431452.1493304224!/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/nicola-sturgeon/nicola-sturgeon-slammed-over-3-year-teaching-vacancies-1-4431213","id":"1.4431213","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon slammed over ‘3-year’ teaching vacancies","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1493327775000 ,"articleLead": "

The “national shortage” of teachers in schools across Scotland could last up to three years, internal government documents have revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431212.1493293959!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kezia Dugdale attacked the SNP's education record"} ,"articleBody": "

It comes just days before pupils across the country begin sitting their national and Higher exams and has prompted opposition warnings that teachers are “crying out for help” as 700 posts lie vacant.

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale yesterday accused Nicola Sturgeon of neglecting her core responsibilities in running Scotland’s devolved services in order to focus on a second independence referendum during the election

Ms Sturgeon insisted that education is her “top priority” as she addressed MSPs at First Minister’s Questions yesterday.

The SNP leader has previously told Scots she wants to be judged on her record in education and particularly driving down the “attainment gap” between well-off and poorer areas of the country.

• READ MORE: Tom Peterkin: Tory focus on indyref2 to distract from rape clause

But Ms Dugdale told the First Minister there are 700 teacher vacancies in Scotland – as they clashed in Holyrood yesterday – after cuts of £170 million to local council services. The Labour leader said: “If­education was her top priority then she would be listening to the teachers across Scotland who are crying out for help.”

She added: “The government’s own internal documents admit that it could take up to three years to fill these vacancies – three years for the government to ensure there are enough teachers to educate our children, three years to clean up the mess the SNP have been making for the past ten, three years to give our young people a fair chance in life.

“But we know that Nicola Sturgeon will spend the next three years campaigning for independence and trying to force another divisive referendum.”

The last teacher census conducted in September last year showed there were 274 primary and pre-School teacher vacancies in Scotland, along with 411 secondary posts lying unfilled.

An internal letter from ministers to the Scottish Funding Council published by Labour yesterday states: “This teacher vacancy information has been built in to the statistical modelling process with a view to attempting to address all primary vacancies in one year and using a phased approach over three years for secondary.”

An email which has been circulated to parents at Edinburgh’s Blackhall Primary School, by acting head teacher Lesley Liddle, was also disclosed yesterday by Labour which sounded a warning over recruitment. Ms Liddle states: “As you may be aware there’s currently a national shortage of teachers. This is making it challenging for headteachers around the country who are trying to fill vacant posts or indeed cover classes.”

• READ MORE: SNP accused of promoting ‘civil conflict’ in indyref2 push

Overall teacher numbers have dropped by more than 4,000 in Scotland since the SNP took office a decade ago and the most recent Pisa international league tables showed performance among Scots pupils in the three key areas of maths, reading and science has deteriorated.

Ms Sturgeon admitted there was a “challenge” in recruiting new teachers, but said Scotland is not unique.

She added: “We’re making resources available to train an additional 371 teachers. It’s why the general teaching council right now has a number of initiatives under way to encourage people back into teaching.

“These are the actions we are taking to tackle what is a problem and a challenge for many countries and we’re doing that of course in conjunction with our national improvement framework, with our Attainment Fund, putting extra resources into the hands of headteachers.

“Our commitment to raising attainment and closing that attainment gap is absolute.”

Education secretary John Swinney is also poised to bring forward proposals to overhaul the education system which would hand greater control to headteachers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4431212.1493293959!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4431212.1493293959!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kezia Dugdale attacked the SNP's education record","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kezia Dugdale attacked the SNP's education record","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4431212.1493293959!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}