{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/national-galleries-set-to-launch-public-appeal-over-the-monarch-of-the-glen-1-4314040","id":"1.4314040","articleHeadline": "National Galleries set to launch public appeal over The Monarch of the Glen","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481325762792 ,"articleLead": "

A public appeal is set to be mounted to help secure The Monarch of the Glen painting for the nation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314039.1481325883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The National Galleries of Scotland has to raise 4 million by the middle of March to secure the future of The Monarch of the Glen."} ,"articleBody": "

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), which is now in a race against the clock to raise £4 million to buy the picture, is set to launch a campaign next month to bridge an expected funding gap.

Bosses have revealed they decided against going public before Christmas with a fundraising drive and have instead been trying to secure backing “behind the scenes”.

However, despite securing a number of donations since a potential deal with the painting’s owner, drinks giant Diageo, emerged in mid-November, NGS said it is only likely to have a “platform” in place by the turn of the year.

The Scotsman revealed last month that The Monarch of the Glen painting was at risk of going overseas after being suddenly put up for sale for the first time in 100 years by Diageo.

Sir Edwin Landseer’s 1851 masterpiece of a stag set against a remote Highland backdrop was expected to generate a sale of more than £10 million at auction in London.

Described by auctioneers Christie’s as “a great icon of European 19th century painting,” The Monarch of the Glen was originally commissioned for the House of Lords, but never went on display and was bought from the artist by the sportsman Lord Londesborough for 350 guineas.

It had been on public display in Edinburgh for two decades under a loan between Diageo and the National Museum of Scotland. However, Diageo decided to put the painting up for sale as it does not have a link to any of its brands.

The Scottish Government intervened within hours to say it wanted the painting to remain on display in Scotland because of its “strong associations” with the country.

It emerged in mid-November that Diageo had agreed to remove the painting from a sale at Christie’s in London and instead sell it to NGS if it could raise the reduced price of £4m. It has been set a deadline of 16 March to raise the funding or run the risk of the whisky firm sending it back to auction.

Sir John Leighton, director-general of NGS, said: “What we’re doing at the moment is very much behind the scenes. We’re trying to get a platform or a base and we will see where we are in around late-mid January. I would imagine we will then come out with an announcement saying we have so much pledged and what we still need to raise.

“That is when we would go public with an appeal. We thought about going public earlier, but if you do that and the amount you still have to raise seems too large, people think it is not worth it.

“The other thing is it is not the best time of year to be waving the tin. In the run-up to Christmas, people’s charitable notions tend to focus on social causes. I don’t think you can compete with that.

“There has been a good response so far. As ever, it’s all about converting response into pledge. I’m being quietly optimistic, but not complacent, about it.

“There is a lot going on and a lot of other competition for people’s attention. Although £4m is a very reasonable and conservative price for that picture, it is still a lot of money. I suppose if we were in a London context it would be one cocktail party, but we are not.”

Sir John stressed that he was hoping to avoid NGS having to call on any public funding to secure future of the painting.

He added: “There is so much pressure on those budgets that if we can do this in other ways I would prefer to do that.”

Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop told The Scotsman: “It is correct that The Monarch of the Glen is made available to the public to view.

“People have different views about it, but it is an iconic painting of Scotland and it is a recognisable image the world over. I wish those that are part of the fundraising campaign well in their activities. They seem confident that the target is achievable and I’m keeping in closing contact with them.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314039.1481325883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314039.1481325883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The National Galleries of Scotland has to raise 4 million by the middle of March to secure the future of The Monarch of the Glen.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The National Galleries of Scotland has to raise 4 million by the middle of March to secure the future of The Monarch of the Glen.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314039.1481325883!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ruth-davidson-defends-boris-johnson-s-saudi-remarks-1-4314013","id":"1.4314013","articleHeadline": "Ruth Davidson defends Boris Johnson’s Saudi remarks","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481367485000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has defended Boris Johnson over his public criticism of British ally Saudi Arabia, saying he was “absolutely right”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314012.1481367407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson was slapped down by No 10 after making his controversial comments. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The Foreign Secretary suffered a humiliating slap down from No 10 after accusing the state of being behind “proxy wars”, while a Conservative predecessor said the “jury’s out” over Mr Johnson’s future in the job.

But Ms Davidson said that while she understands why Downing Street has distanced itself from the comments, Mr Johnson was “not wrong”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour: “I think Boris Johnson was absolutely right about what he said about proxy wars, and about Saudi and about Iran. And I agree with his analysis.

“Now, that might not be the position of the UK government, but guess what – I am not in the UK government, and I think he was right.”

Theresa May’s official spokeswoman said the Prime Minister has “full confidence” in Mr Johnson, but told reporters his comments were his own personal view and they do not reflect government policy.

And she pointedly noted that Mr Johnson will have the opportunity to set out official policy – of Britain’s desire to strengthen its ties with Saudi Arabia and support for its controversial military involvement in Yemen – when he travels to the desert kingdom.

Asked if No 10 was right to distance itself from Mr Johnson’s comments, Ms Davidson said: “I think there is a long standing diplomatic convention about not panning your allies in public. I think that this situation, particularly in Yemen, is desperate. I think that the UK government is trying its hardest to make a dreadful situation better and I absolutely understand why the UK government had to come out and say what it said – but I don’t think Boris was wrong.”

Ms Davidson, who has previously been reluctant to back Mr Johnson in the role, also said she has been “pleasantly surprised by his performance in the job”.

The Foreign Secretary is in Bahrain for the first leg of a diplomatically-testing tour of the Middle East.

The Guardian published footage of Mr Johnson’s comments to the Med2 conference in Rome last week, in which he lumped Saudi Arabia in with Iran when he raised concerns about “puppeteering” in the region.

Mr Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region.”

Meanwhile, ex-foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said Mrs May’s appointment of Mr Johnson had been a “gamble” and he may be more “comfortable” in another Cabinet role. Asked if Mr Johnson is fit to be Foreign Secretary, he said: “The jury’s out, if I can put it that way. This is early days.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SARAH BRADLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314012.1481367407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314012.1481367407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Boris Johnson was slapped down by No 10 after making his controversial comments. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson was slapped down by No 10 after making his controversial comments. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314012.1481367407!/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/scots-gps-warn-rising-workloads-may-affect-patient-care-1-4313813","id":"1.4313813","articleHeadline": "Scots GPs warn rising workloads may affect patient care","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481366213000 ,"articleLead": "

Patients could be put at risk by stretched GPs as a stark survey reveals more than nine out of 10 Scottish GPs believe their workload is impacting on patient care.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313695.1481303360!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nine out of 10 Scottish GPs say their workload could have a negative impact on patient care."} ,"articleBody": "

Doctors leaders warned that GPs faced “simply unsustainable” workloads, following the poll of 900 family doctors in Scotland by the British Medical Association (BMA).

Only 7 per cent of GPs said appointments were long enough, while a third said all patients should be offered more time with their GP.

It comes amid concern over significant recruitment issues, with an estimated 900 GP shortfall by 2020 and reports of GP practices turning away new patients.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chair of the BMA’s Scottish GP committee, said: “This survey reflects the immense pressure that GPs working across Scotland are currently feeling.

“The rising workload is simply unsustainable and something has to change to make general practice in Scotland fit for the future.”

The findings come days after a critical report from the General Medical Council said many trainee doctors were working beyond their competences due to huge workloads.

Critics described the situation as “increasingly dire” and called for a boost to funding for general practice.

Conservative shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “This is the latest in a long line of warnings the SNP has received on Scotland’s GP crisis.

“Posts are being left unfilled, patients can’t get quick appointments and projections for future service levels are becoming increasingly dire.”

Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “Heavy workloads are a problem because doctors do not have sufficient time to diagnose things properly.

“This is not the doctors’ fault, it is the Scottish Government’s fault. Patients and doctors deserve better than that.”

Ministers signed an agreement last month to make doctors the leaders of a team of staff as part of a major shake-up of primary care.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “We are significantly increasing the amount of investment going into primary and GP care – an extra £500 million by the end of this Parliament. However, as we have made consistently clear, we must also reform the way we provide services.

“These reforms, coupled with the additional investment, will help to improve the attractiveness of general practice as a career, reduce workloads, and create a more sustainable workforce.”

CASE STUDY:

Soaring workloads and 12-hour days prompted staff at Riverside Medical Practice in Inverness to take action.

The busy practice, which has 10,000 patients on its rolls, was struggling to retain staff and to get locums on board because of workloads.

The team brought in nurse practitioners to tackle home visits and emergency care, as well as hiring a pharmacist.

Executive partner Dr Iain Kennedy said: “Workload is a massive issue for Scottish GPs and it was a very big issue for us.

“We have had to work very hard to get it to a manageable level.

“We have had significant issues with recruitment and retention of staff.

“Doctors left because they found the pace too much and locums were reluctant to come and work for us because it was so busy.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lizzy Buchan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313695.1481303360!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313695.1481303360!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nine out of 10 Scottish GPs say their workload could have a negative impact on patient care.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nine out of 10 Scottish GPs say their workload could have a negative impact on patient care.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313695.1481303360!/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/world/gambia-leader-rejects-election-result-1-4314089","id":"1.4314089","articleHeadline": "Gambia leader rejects election result","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481359907000 ,"articleLead": "

Gambia’s ruler of more than 22 years has announced he no longer accepts defeat in the country’s presidential election, reversing course a week after he conceded to his rival.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314088.1481359829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh has rejected the election results. Picture; AP"} ,"articleBody": "

In a speech on state television, President Yahya Jammeh said investigations have revealed a number of voting irregularities that he called unacceptable.

“I hereby reject the results in totality,” he said in his address that aired late on Friday. “I will not accept the results based on what has happened.”

Only a week ago, a jovial Mr Jammeh was filmed on state television calling opposition candidate Adama Barrow to wish him the best.

“You are the elected president of The Gambia, and I wish you all the best,” he told Mr Barrow at the time. “I have no ill will.”

The dramatic U-turn is certain to spark outrage among the opposition and the tens of thousands of Gambians living in exile abroad. Already in the week since he was defeated, several dozen political prisoners have been released on bail.

A tiny country of 1.9 million people surrounded almost entirely by Senegal, Gambia has become notorious for its abysmal human rights record as well as the president’s erratic behaviour.

The Jammeh regime has long been accused of imprisoning, torturing and killing opponents. He also has issued increasingly virulent statements against sexual minorities, vowing to slit the throats of gay men.

In 2007, Jammeh claimed to have developed a cure for Aids that involved a herbal body rub and bananas. Alarming public health experts, he insisted patients stop taking anti-retroviral medications so his remedy could have an effect.

He also has increasingly isolated Gambia, whose economy has long been dependent on tourism. In 2013 he exited the Commonwealth, branding it a “neo-colonial institution”, and in October, Jammeh said Gambia would leave the International Criminal Court, which he dismissed as the “International Caucasian Court”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314088.1481359829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314088.1481359829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh has rejected the election results. Picture; AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gambia's president Yahya Jammeh has rejected the election results. Picture; AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314088.1481359829!/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/jeremy-corbyn-pledges-more-legal-support-to-domestic-abuse-victims-1-4314087","id":"1.4314087","articleHeadline": "Jeremy Corbyn pledges more legal support to domestic abuse victims","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481359648000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is pledging to give the victims of domestic abuse more legal support.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314086.1481359565!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn is committing aiming to lay down minimum standards of care and backing for people fleeing abusive relationships. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Corbyn is committing a future Labour government to ratify the Istanbul Convention which lays down minimum standards of care and backing for people fleeing abusive relationships.

The Labour leader is also promising to do more to bridge the pay gap between men and women.

Marking International Human Rights Day, Mr Corbyn said: “We will put women’s rights and freedoms, human rights, at the heart of our programme for government.

“In Britain, under this Conservative administration, a historic international treaty which sets legally binding standards to prevent and tackle domestic abuse remains nothing but a piece of paper.

“I pledge that a Labour government will ratify the Istanbul Convention and put it into effect, giving all survivors of domestic abuse the right to access to the specialist services they need to rebuild their lives and live in safety.

“Labour in government will change the law to make equal pay subject to external audit or payroll inspection. That will work for women, whether in the professions or on the shop floor. We cannot carry on accepting the yawning gap between men and women’s pay.

“And a Labour government will ensure there is a legal right to time off for equalities reps in the workplace who play a crucial role in making equality legislation stick.”

Mr Corbyn is insisting a Labour government will wage war on misogyny.

He added: “Labour will measure every piece of legislation, and every policy, by the yardstick of its impact on women before it is brought before Parliament and put into practice.

“If it works against women, it will fail that impact test. We will use the women’s impact test to drive forward women’s rights and freedoms across our country. Women will not only be at the heart of my government, women’s rights and interests will be front and centre stage of everything we do.

“Ours will be a government for women, that fights inequality and misogyny in every part of society: women’s rights, human rights, will be at the cutting edge of Labour’s fight for a fairer and more equal Britain.

“The world’s women aren’t first and foremost victims of poverty or violence, they are the change makers. Without the participation of women at their heart, the most pressing global problems simply won’t be solved.

“Women’s concerns cannot be pushed to the margins, segregated from strategic issues of war, peace and the economy. Women are the strategy, they are the solution.”

A Government spokesperson said: “We remain committed to ratifying the Istanbul Convention as part of our strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls.

“In most respects, measures already in place to protect women and girls from violence comply with, or go further, than the Convention requires.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314086.1481359565!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314086.1481359565!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn is committing aiming to lay down minimum standards of care and backing for people fleeing abusive relationships. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn is committing aiming to lay down minimum standards of care and backing for people fleeing abusive relationships. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314086.1481359565!/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/train-firms-warning-over-railway-policing-1-4313993","id":"1.4313993","articleHeadline": "Train firms warning over railway policing","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481354985000 ,"articleLead": "

Train companies have warned the Scottish Government that plans to integrate railway policing into Police Scotland could increase costs and undermine the response to incidents on the network.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313992.1481354905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, which will see British Transport Polices operations north of the Border taken over by Police Scotland, was published yesterday. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, which will see British Transport Police’s operations north of the Border taken over by Police Scotland, was published yesterday.

But responding to a government consultation on the proposal, train operator CrossCountry said the plans represented a “massive risk” to the resilience of the network.

Meanwhile, Virgin Trains East Coast said it was concerned that extra money would be needed to “up skill” Police Scotland officers not currently used to policing the rail network.

And TransPennine Express said it was concerned about the response time for incidents north of the Border.

British Transport Police, which currently polices the entire UK network, is funded by Network Rail and train operating companies.

It is expected the majority of its officers will transfer to Police Scotland, although staff associations have suggested that some may not.

In its submission to the Scottish Government consultation paper, CrossCountry said the case for change had “not been addressed”, with “many questions unanswered”. It added: “There is nothing in the proposal which suggests the costs of railway ­policing will reduce, nor that railway policing would be truly immune from any future cost pressures within Police Scotland.

“The costs to the railway of a less effective railway policing arrangement in terms of disruption and the distraction arising from more general policing matters would far outweigh the direct costs of policing activity. The overall cost to the railway industry arising from a fragmented railway policing structure is therefore likely to increase.”

TransPennine Express said: “As an Anglo-Scottish operator we are concerned over the timely response to incidents just north of the Border (for example Lockerbie), the loss of a UK-wide consistent approach to major threats (such as terrorism) and the disconnection of the current close working between BTP officers in Scotland and the north of England.”

The legislation submitted by the Scottish Government gives power over railway policing to Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).

The bill also requires the SPA and the chief constable to have regular contact with train operators.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “We will ensure railway policing has a strong future and is fully accountable to the people of Scotland.

“Safety will always be our top priority and rail passengers and staff will continue to receive the high standards of security on our rail network that they are used to, throughout the period of integration and beyond.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313992.1481354905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313992.1481354905!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, which will see British Transport Polices operations north of the Border taken over by Police Scotland, was published yesterday. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Railway Policing (Scotland) Bill, which will see British Transport Polices operations north of the Border taken over by Police Scotland, was published yesterday. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313992.1481354905!/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-railway-policing-on-right-track-1-4313865","id":"1.4313865","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Railway policing on right track","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481349600000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government’s plans to integrate railway policing currently done by the British Transport Police into Police Scotland is no small step and it should be carefully considered

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313864.1481307631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British Transport Police on Glasgow Queen Street Station\\nRail trains railway"} ,"articleBody": "

The merging of operations north of the border, the legislation for which was published yesterday, has raised concerns during the consulation phase of risks to the resiience of the network. And this comes at a time when the performance of trains north of the border is under close scrutiny amid government orders to improve the service.

And it has to be said the merging of the forces in Scotland into the creation of Police Scotland has not been without its difficulties.

But the proposals mean that the officers currently in the BTP in Scotland will transfer to Police Scotland bringing with them all their skills, knowledge and experience. Although there are some fears voiced that significant numbers will not want to transfer, steps have been taken to guarantee continuation of conditions and pensions to make it more attractive, and probably if there was going to be a significant problem more could be done.

And it has to be borne in mind that the police already contain a huge range of specialist skills and teams that manage to adequately cover the specialist areas. Traffic policing for instance will require a very similar set of particular skills, knowledge and experience and nobody is suggesting that it become a separate force.

It might be prudent to offer the rail organisations some safeguards over levels of service that the network would get, if only for reassurance, but on the whole the greater flexibility this could bring probably makes it a sensible thing to do.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313864.1481307631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313864.1481307631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "British Transport Police on Glasgow Queen Street Station\\nRail trains railway","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British Transport Police on Glasgow Queen Street Station\\nRail trains railway","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313864.1481307631!/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-all-victims-of-abuse-must-have-equal-justice-1-4313928","id":"1.4313928","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: All victims of abuse must have equal justice","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481349600000 ,"articleLead": "

The extent of the abuse in football is now revealed as truly shocking, with 83 potential suspects and 98 clubs involved at the latest count from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, with the investigations spanning all tiers of football. And there can be little doubt that the tally will grow. Police forces across the country are continuing to receive calls.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313927.1481314372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former footballers and victims of abuse Mark Williams, Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Jason Dunford at the launch of The Offside Trust to help victims of abuse. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

It all started with ex-Crewe defender Andy Woodward who waived his right to anonymity to reveal he had been a victim of sexual abuse as a young footballer. He and all the other the victims that have now come forward are to be praised for their courage in doing so. What is vital now is that they should not be failed by the authorities.

So the question is how best to support them, and help them find justice.

And there is also the matter of giving parents of children who are currently involved in sport confidence that their children are not at risk. To that end, English Premier League chief Richard Scudamore has written to the parents of more than 3,000 players in the league’s youth system to reassure them. Perhaps that could be mirrored in Scotland.

Now leading civil rights lawyer Raju Bhatt has backed calls for an inquiry into child abuse in Scottish football.

In his view, police inquiries have significant limitations and that these people too are the victims of institutional failure.

His intervention comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon rejected calls for the current inquiry into the abuse of children in care to be widened to take in the allegations around football, saying it should be left to the police.

She was concerned that the current inquiry would become unwieldly if it was expanded, and it could take much longer to arrive at findings.

That inquiry has already had to overcome some hurdles and has seen two key members leave, but is now under the direction of the experienced judge Lady Smith and is making progress.

On the face of it there is little difference between the victims involved in the current inquiry and those that have come forward, and continue to come forward, as a result of abuse of football clubs. But there are some considerations that need to be made. The biggest is the practical issues any widening would throw up. There is little doubt that the First Minister is right in her fears over how big the inquiry would become, and any further delay might mean justice denied for some of the people involved given that some are now of advanced years.

Nobody would suggest that different standards should be applied to the two sets of victims. That would be wrong. But in the circumstances, it would also be wrong to extend the present inquiry. The best course of action to give the best support and help to all is to continue the police investigation into abuse within football, and then once evidence has been gathered, consider an independent inquiry into that as well. There can be little practical benefit from combining the inquiries, and there are huge potential downsides.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313927.1481314372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313927.1481314372!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former footballers and victims of abuse Mark Williams, Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Jason Dunford at the launch of The Offside Trust to help victims of abuse. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former footballers and victims of abuse Mark Williams, Andy Woodward, Steve Walters and Jason Dunford at the launch of The Offside Trust to help victims of abuse. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313927.1481314372!/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/gove-says-pm-right-to-sack-him-over-post-brexit-antics-1-4314011","id":"1.4314011","articleHeadline": "Gove says PM ‘right to sack him’ over post-Brexit antics","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481321473000 ,"articleLead": "

Michael Gove has spoken of his regrets about his bid for the Conservative Party leadership, admitting he made “mistakes” in the way he declared he was withdrawing his support from Boris Johnson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314010.1481321394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Michael Gove said he has to live with his decisions. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The former education secretary – whose dramatic intervention led Mr Johnson to pull out of the race to succeed David Cameron in June – said he now had to “take the consequences” of his decision, including the fact that an act of treachery has become widely known as “doing a Gove”.

Speaking to Fern Britton in an interview to be broadcast on BBC television tomorrow, Mr Gove said he accepted that Theresa May was “right” to tell him there was no place for him in her Cabinet, despite offering high-ranking jobs to his fellow-Brexiteers David Davis, Liam Fox and Mr Johnson. But Mr Gove, 49, appeared to indicate that he has not given up on a return to frontline politics, saying he hoped to be able to “make a contribution” in future.

Mr Gove said his decision to back Leave in the EU referendum had placed a “significant strain” on his relationship with Mr Cameron.

He and wife Sarah Vine had been close friends with the former PM and his wife Samantha, but have not had a “proper conversation” with the Camerons since the 23 June poll, he said.

He said the decision to campaign against Cameron for EU withdrawal “wasn’t easy”, but he felt that “it was better to say to David that I couldn’t support him and to go with my heart than to suppress my feelings on the matter”.

Mr Cameron “knew I was a Eurosceptic, but he thought I would either keep schtum or ... say ‘I am going to support the Prime Minister’,” he said. Mr Cameron “undoubtedly felt let down”, but behaved with “incredible decency”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANDREW WOODCOCK"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314010.1481321394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314010.1481321394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Michael Gove said he has to live with his decisions. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Michael Gove said he has to live with his decisions. Picture: Lauren Hurley/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314010.1481321394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/donald-trump-discusses-links-with-scotland-in-phone-call-to-nicola-sturgeon-1-4313926","id":"1.4313926","articleHeadline": "Donald Trump discusses links with Scotland in phone call to Nicola Sturgeon","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481315595000 ,"articleLead": "

US President-elect Donald Trump has discussed the “long-standing relationship between Scotland and the United States” in a phone call with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313925.1481313951!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Government described the call from Mr Trump as a brief introductory conversation. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government described the call from Mr Trump as a “brief introductory conversation”.

A spokeswoman said the First Minister offered her congratulations and “expressed her belief in the values Scotland and the United States share” in the call on Friday.

Ms Sturgeon had written to Mr Trump to congratulate him in the days after winning the presidential election.

The letter emphasised the bonds of friendship and economic ties between Scotland and the US, and Ms Sturgeon also stressed shared values of “equality, tolerance, diversity and human rights for all regardless of race, faith, gender or sexual orientation”.

Mr Trump, whose mother was born on the Isle of Lewis, owns two golf courses in Scotland and took time out of his presidential campaign to mark the reopening of Turnberry with his family in June.

The creation of his first Scottish course in Aberdeen led to clashes with the Scottish Government and former first minister Alex Salmond over the prospect of an offshore wind farm planned in sight of the resort.

In the early stages of his White House campaign, Mr Trump was stripped of his role as a business ambassador for Scotland over controversial comments.

Ms Sturgeon - and other Scottish party leaders - had backed Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House but she has said she will engage “positively and constructively” with Mr Trump.

When he visited Turnberry in June, Mr Trump was asked about the prospect of Scottish independence and said: “’I’ll leave it up to the people.

“I love the people of Scotland. That is why I built, in Aberdeen, one of the great golf courses in the world.

“I’ve gotten to know the people of Scotland so well through my mother and everything else.

“The people of Scotland are amazing people and that question really has to be addressed to the people.

“It was a very, very close vote (in 2014) and I don’t know that people want to go through that again.

“I was here when people were going through that vote.

“I didn’t take sides but I will tell you it was a nasty period, and I can’t imagine they would go through that again, but the people of Scotland may speak differently.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313925.1481313951!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313925.1481313951!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Government described the call from Mr Trump as a brief introductory conversation. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Government described the call from Mr Trump as a brief introductory conversation. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313925.1481313951!/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/motherwell-fc-contact-police-after-launching-abuse-probe-1-4313840","id":"1.4313840","articleHeadline": "Motherwell FC contact police after launching abuse probe","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481308556000 ,"articleLead": "

MOTHERWELL has become the latest Scottish club to launch an internal investigation into potential abuse.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313881.1481308474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Directors of the North Lanarkshire club had launched an internal investigation. Picture: Wikipedia"} ,"articleBody": "

Directors of the North Lanarkshire club started work to “ascertain whether it is possible any such incidents could have occurred at the club in the past”, in light of recent coverage around the UK.

A forensic accountant is now being brought in to examine employment records, and Police Scotland and the Scottish Football Association (SFA) have been made aware.

The club said “all information collated to date has been passed to the relevant authorities”.

It comes as an SNP MSP called on the SFA to launch an inquiry into allegations of historical sexual abuse at Scottish clubs.

James Dornan has written to SFA chief executive Stewart Regan requesting urgent action.

His call follows demands for an inquiry into the scandal from former SFA chief executive Gordon Smith.

READ MORE: More police forces investigating football-linked ‘child sex abuse’

A Motherwell statement said: “As a result of the extensive coverage relating to allegations of historic child abuse in football, the Directors of Motherwell FC began an internal investigation to ascertain whether it is possible any such incidents could have occurred at the club in the past.

“Having spoken to a number of people who had connections to the club in the period covering late 1970s and 1980s, we have decided to widen the investigation and have employed a forensic accountant to assist us with the examination of employment records and club documents from the period.

“We have made both Police Scotland and the Scottish FA fully aware of the nature of our investigation.

“We will continue with that process, but all information collated to date has been passed to the relevant authorities. The club will wait until the conclusion of the investigation before making any further comment.

“In the meantime, Motherwell FC would urge anyone who may have been affected by abuse in football to contact Police Scotland or the NSPCC helpline (0800 0232642) set up to support and advise victims of abuse.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313881.1481308474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313881.1481308474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Directors of the North Lanarkshire club had launched an internal investigation. Picture: Wikipedia","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Directors of the North Lanarkshire club had launched an internal investigation. Picture: Wikipedia","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313881.1481308474!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313839.1481308479!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313839.1481308479!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "MSP James Dornan has written to SFA chief executive Stewart Regan requesting urgent action. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSP James Dornan has written to SFA chief executive Stewart Regan requesting urgent action. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313839.1481308479!/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/mp-michelle-thomson-contacts-police-over-rape-ordeal-at-14-1-4313126","id":"1.4313126","articleHeadline": "MP Michelle Thomson contacts police over rape ordeal at 14","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481298437000 ,"articleLead": "

MICHELLE Thomson MP has made contact with police after revealing she was raped as a 14-year-old girl.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313125.1481283531!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Independent MP Michelle Thomson spoke in the House of Commons where she moved colleagues to tears after revealing she was raped at 14. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The independent MP told the House of Commons on Thursday she was attacked in a wooded area 37 years ago by someone she knew.

The Edinburgh West representative moved fellow MPs to tears as she told them “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor” during a debate on the UN’s International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women.

Campaigners and fellow politicians have praised her for her bravery in speaking out.

The MP said she has been “overwhelmed” by the supportive messages she has received.

In a tweet on Friday, she stated: “Humbled by the responses and support. Thanks also to @policescotland for their rapid response and with whom I have made contact.”

READ MORE: Watch Michelle Thomson’s rape survivor story move MPs to tears

Police have not commented on the message. However, it is understood officers would make an approach to an individual to see if they want to take matters further if they publicly disclose they have been the victim of an offence.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said earlier: “Speaking out about sexual abuse is incredibly difficult and disclosures are often made many years after an incident took place.

“Police Scotland will listen to any such disclosure, regardless of the passage of time, and will investigate.

“Our response is always victim-focused and every investigation will be tailored to meet their individual needs.”

The MP told the Commons she had known her attacker and afterwards had “bottled it all up inside”.

Ms Thomson related how the rape had “fatally undermined” her self-esteem, confidence and sense of self-worth, and said she had not sought help until her mid-40s.

“I carried that guilt, anger, fear, sadness and bitterness for years,” she told MPs.

Ms Thomson later told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that a decade ago she wanted to ‘’go after’’ her attacker but seeking help had given her “a liberty to move on”.

She said: “I’m not doing this to try and go after somebody, it’s not what it’s about for me - hence the ‘I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor’.

“Had it been even 10 years ago I would had said probably ‘No, I want to go after him’ and I remember after it happened I used to idly daydream - ‘If I could do this to him, if I could do that’ - because I was so angry and bitter. I’m not now.

“That, I would stress, is a personal perspective I’m taking and everybody must take their own view about how they want to move forward. I would encourage everyone to do what they feel is right for them.”

Ms Thomson’s decision to share her story publicly was hailed as “brave and important” by Rape Crisis Scotland.

National co-ordinator Sandy Brindley said: “Someone speaking so publicly about rape can send a strong message to other rape survivors - that the shame is not theirs and it is okay to talk about it and to seek support.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the speech as “very moving and incredibly brave”, and said it would help give strength to others.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "HILARY DUNCANSON AND CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313125.1481283531!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313125.1481283531!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Independent MP Michelle Thomson spoke in the House of Commons where she moved colleagues to tears after revealing she was raped at 14. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Independent MP Michelle Thomson spoke in the House of Commons where she moved colleagues to tears after revealing she was raped at 14. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313125.1481283531!/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/teachers-warn-against-schooling-overhaul-1-4313678","id":"1.4313678","articleHeadline": "Teachers warn against schooling overhaul","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481296163517 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish teachers have slammed plans for an overhaul of the education system to address declining  standards with a warning the changes are \"politically\" driven and regressive.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313677.1481296297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Swinney has proposed the changes to reverse the fall in standards"} ,"articleBody": "

The prospect of councils' role in running schools being scaled back has been branded \"tokenistic\" by the EIS union with a warning that it could mean even more \"unecessary\" red tape and bureaucracy for teachers.

The global PISA survey of schooling this week found Scotland had tumbled down the international education standings and now sits behind England and Northern Ireland, as well as a host of other nations.

Education secretary John Swinney recently set out plans for change after a governance review proposed the creation of new \"educational regions\" prompting concerns that councils role in running schools could be sidelined. Headteachers are also to get stronger control in running schools, including over hiring and firing.

But the EIS has warned in its official response to the changes that they are being rushed to meet ‘political rather than educational imperatives.’

Concerns are also raised about schools being burdened with administrative functions, with the ‘increasingly politicised\" role of teaching quango Education Scotland also criticised.

\"The EIS is not convinced about the benefit of the proposed extension to schools of responsibilities that currently sit with local authorities,\" the response states.

\"This appears to be either potentially tokenistic or an unnecessary imposition of additional bureaucratic layers to school operations. Schools are already part of a local authority’s corporate responsibilities.\"

Labour said the SNP could not use the report to justify forcing through reforms opposed by Scotland’s teachers.

Education spokesman Iain Gray said: “Coming after a brutal assessment of the SNP’s record on education is this damning verdict on their so-called “reforms” for the future.

“Labour will listen to the views of teachers on what is best for the future of our schools – not the views of a government which has failed our pupils in the first place.

“The EIS is clear in its opposition of the SNP’s plans to centralise education, believing them to be about politics rather than what is best for our schools.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313677.1481296297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313677.1481296297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Swinney has proposed the changes to reverse the fall in standards","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Swinney has proposed the changes to reverse the fall in standards","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313677.1481296297!/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/malcolm-rifkind-says-jury-out-on-boris-johnson-1-4313159","id":"1.4313159","articleHeadline": "Malcolm Rifkind says jury out on Boris Johnson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481284329000 ,"articleLead": "

Tory former foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind said the “jury’s out” on Mr Johnson’s future.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313158.1481284252!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The “jury’s out” on Boris Johnson’s future as Foreign Secretary, Tory predecessor in the role Sir Malcolm Rifkind has warned.

The sharp criticism came as Mr Johnson faces a diplomatically testing tour of the Middle East after accusing British ally Saudi Arabia of being behind “proxy wars”.

The senior Cabinet minister was slapped down by Downing Street over his comments, with Number 10 saying his views did not represent official Government policy.

And in a pointed intervention, Tory grandee Sir Malcolm said Theresa May’s appointment of Mr Johnson had been a “gamble” and he may be more “comfortable” in another Cabinet role.

“He’s made his extraordinary impact, both in Britain and elsewhere, as a celebrity. As a foreign secretary you can’t be a celebrity. Harold Macmillan was once foreign secretary and in his memoirs he said foreign ministers are either dull or dangerous - well, Boris certainly isn’t dull,” he told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.

Asked if Mr Johnson was fit to be Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm said: “The jury’s out, if I can put it that way. This is early days. It’s a question of his temperament.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson quits TV interview over world leaders ‘quiz’

“The rest of the world are entitled to know that when Boris Johnson, as Britain’s Foreign Secretary, speaks, they are hearing the United Kingdom’s foreign policy, they should not be expected to assume that what he says publicly on one occasion may be completely in conflict with that foreign policy.

“What I am saying is, he might end up being more comfortable in another senior Cabinet position.”

Mr Johnson will deliver a keynote speech at a major regional conference in Bahrain on Friday before heading to Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Mrs May’s official spokeswoman said the Prime Minister had “full confidence” in Mr Johnson but told reporters that his comments at a conference in Italy were his own personal view and did not reflect Government policy.

And she pointedly noted that Mr Johnson will have the opportunity to set out official policy - of Britain’s desire to strengthen its ties with Saudi Arabia and support for its controversial military involvement in Yemen - when he travels to the desert kingdom.

Mrs May spoke with Saudi King Salman during her visit to the Persian Gulf this week, when he was able to hear the PM assure him of “her commitment and that of her Government to enhancing and strengthening this relationship”, said the spokeswoman.

The Guardian published footage of Mr Johnson’s comments to the Med2 conference in Rome last week, in which he lumped Saudi Arabia in with Iran when he raised concerns about “puppeteering” in the region.

Mr Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region.

“And the tragedy for me - and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area - is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.”

The Foreign Secretary said there were not enough “big characters” in the region who were willing to “reach out beyond their Sunni or Shia” group.

He told the conference: “That’s why you’ve got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in and puppeteering and playing proxy wars.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “As the Foreign Secretary made very clear on Sunday, we are allies with Saudi Arabia and support them in their efforts to secure their borders and protect their people. Any suggestion to the contrary is wrong and misinterpreting the facts.”

Some Tory colleagues have leapt to the defence of Mr Johnson despite Downing Street slapping him down.

Housing minister Gavin Barwell said: “It’s his job to set out the concerns that we have.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313158.1481284252!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313158.1481284252!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313158.1481284252!/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/airline-taxes-should-be-axed-say-tories-1-4313131","id":"1.4313131","articleHeadline": "Airline taxes should be axed say Tories","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481282834488 ,"articleLead": "

Plans to axe airport taxes on long haul flights from Scotland have been unveiled by the Scottish Conservatives.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313130.1481282930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murdo Fraser says the change will help create a "stronger economy""} ,"articleBody": "

The party say it will give Scotland's ailing economy a much-needed boost by tapping into the lucrative markets of China, the US west coast and central America.

Talks have already taken place with the SNP Government which also wants to axe APD through the new powers coming to Holyrood under the Smith Commission. A bill is due to be published setting out ministers' APD plans in the next few weeks.

The Tories had opposed any move to cut APD in this year's Holyrood election but say the slump in Scotland's economy since then means action is now needed. The party is also supporting an immediate APD freeze on short-haul flights to the UK and Europe, in order to ensure passengers can also enjoy cheaper fares to destinations nearer to home.

Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “APD is one of the new powers of the Scottish Parliament coming our way thanks to our proposals to strengthen devolution.

“As we prepare for Brexit, it is more important than ever to use these powers to go global, so we can create new jobs, deliver more opportunities, and build a stronger economy.

“Abolishing APD for long-haul flights has the potential to do just that for Scotland. Airlines will be incentivised to put on new direct long-haul flights from Scotland.

“That means instead of having to go via London or Amsterdam, families and businesses would be able to get on a plane in Edinburgh or Glasgow and fly direct to China or the USA, or other global destinations.\"

Air passenger duty is charged on all passenger flights from UK airports, with the rate of tax varying according to where the passenger is going, and the class of travel, starting at about £13 for short-haul flights to Europe.

It brings in about £3bn a year for the UK government. The Scottish government wants to use new powers being devolved to Holyrood to reduce APD from Scottish airports by 50% from April 2018 before eventually abolishing the tax altogether.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313130.1481282930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313130.1481282930!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Murdo Fraser says the change will help create a "stronger economy"","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murdo Fraser says the change will help create a "stronger economy"","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313130.1481282930!/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-only-defiant-political-activism-can-save-us-now-1-4312774","id":"1.4312774","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: Only defiant political activism can save us now","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481281807000 ,"articleLead": "

The world has failed Aleppo, and our leaders will not take action unless a grassroots uprising forces them says Joyce McMillan

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312773.1481281437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A member of the government forces pushes an injured woman in a wheelchair as civilians are evacuated from Aleppo's al-Shaar neighbourhood. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

If you want to experience a moment of true heartbreak this December – or just have a reminder of how fortunate we are, to live in any kind of peace – then there is no simpler way than to take a look at the Wikipedia page for the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo – a page largely completed before the beginning of the battle of Aleppo four years ago. The page shows images of one of the oldest inhabited cities on Earth, a legendary centre of trade at the western end of the Silk Road to China. There are ancient city walls, historic buildings and ruins, shiny western-style hotels, elegant boulevards, a lively nightlife, the Mediterranean coast just 60 miles away, and a fast-growing population of more than two million. There are also hopes for the future, including a massive scheme for preserving and restoring Aleppo’s unique heritage sites.

And then, everywhere on the media, there are the pictures of Aleppo now: whole neighbourhoods reduced to rubble, the dome of the great mosque destroyed, ancient sites shattered by war, hospitals and essential public services deliberately targeted, and the city’s people struggling to survive without food, water, or medicine. The population is officially listed as having declined by almost a quarter since 2012; the truth is probably much worse, particularly since the intensification of the Syrian-Russian assault on rebel areas three months ago. And the world looks on, apparently helpless – so much so that one cartoonist wryly portrayed the arrival of a lorryload of Facebook “likes” on the devastated streets of the city, as if people could somehow eat or drink those little blue symbols of online concern.

When we study historic man-made disasters, we are trained to think in terms of immediate causes and underlying causes; and if the world has failed Aleppo, then the immediate cause is clearly the presence on the UN Security Council of Russia, one of the main combatants in the devastating attack on the city. For the Assad regime and its Russian allies, Aleppo is a nest of Islamist rebels that has to be retaken at any price; there is therefore no chance, under its present charter, of the United Nations doing anything at all, except to attempt some humanitarian aid.

When it comes to long-term causes, though, the situation is much more complex. The truth is that if Russia now seems bent on acquiring a murderous reputation in the region, most ordinary people in the Middle East and around the East Mediterranean have long since regarded the other main regional foreign powers – the United States, Britain, France – in very much the same light. This very week, Prime Minister Theresa May was in the Gulf, emphasising the closeness of Britain’s alliance with Saudi Arabia, which is openly complicit in the bombardment and shelling of civilian populations now taking place in Yemen; when Boris Johnson uttered a few home truths about Saudi Arabia’s regional role at a recent meeting in Rome, Theresa May’s office moved at lightning speed to distance the British government from her own Foreign Secretary’s remarks.

And as for the United States – well, its conduct during recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has made its name, and those of its closest allies, a byword for illegal and lethal intervention across the entire Islamic world, and beyond; so that when it comes to Russia’s conduct in Syria, the position of the rest of the UN Security Council is now as weak as the late foreign secretary Robin Cook once predicted it would be, if we failed to adopt the kind of ethical foreign policy he advocated back in 1997, as a clear practical necessity in creating a sustainable new world order.

So where do we stand now, in a world where our international institutions have been so gravely weakened? It’s clear that we cannot expect much from the emerging group of self-styled “anti-establishment” politicians in Europe and America, the Trumps and Johnsons, the Farages and Le Pens. They may be more willing than their predecessors to abandon diplomatic language when it comes to pointing out the obvious about Saudi foreign policy, or noising up the Chinese government, but the tide of blinkered xenophobia and petulant self-pity on which they have risen to power renders them worse than useless in any effort to promote a peaceful and sustainable future at global level, where their “straight talking” is more likely to lead to a new age of violent confrontation. Both Britain’s Brexiters and the American president-elect, for example, seem to regard undermining and ignoring the UN as some kind of enjoyable political sport rather than as an act of near-criminal political irresponsibility, given the colossal global challenges humanity now faces.

And here in the West, there is only one answer, now, to any of this; and that is for those ordinary voters who disagree to stop shouting at the telly, get off the couch, and start compelling their politicians on to a wiser and more sustainable path. Because what we have learned, over the last dispiriting decade, is that our national leaders – even the relatively well-intentioned ones – no longer have the strength to do the right thing by themselves. They need us, the people, to stand by them when they try to act with wisdom and compassion, to reject the manipulative lies of the powerful delivered to us through an ever-expanding range of hate-mongering media, and to give our political leaders what they now struggle to articulate themselves: a vision of a sustainable and peaceful future.

We need, in other words, a new age of defiant political activism, aimed at expressing values of justice, humanity and survival at every level, from the local to the global. And if it fails to materialise – why then, the game is over, certainly for most of our grandchildren, and perhaps for human life on Earth. These are the stakes for which we are now playing; and there is no sign that any of our politicians will be able to rise to that challenge without massive support and lifting-power from us, the people, who now need to start fighting for our own future, from the grassroots up.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JOYCE McMILLAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312773.1481281437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312773.1481281437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A member of the government forces pushes an injured woman in a wheelchair as civilians are evacuated from Aleppo's al-Shaar neighbourhood. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A member of the government forces pushes an injured woman in a wheelchair as civilians are evacuated from Aleppo's al-Shaar neighbourhood. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312773.1481281437!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/deal-needed-to-protect-scots-food-labels-after-brexit-1-4313056","id":"1.4313056","articleHeadline": "Deal needed to protect Scots food labels after Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481279441000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotch Beef, Scotch Lamb, Orkney Scottish Island Cheddar and Scottish Wild Salmon could still enjoy European Union protection from imitations – provided the UK government reciprocates with a similar recognition of European products.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313055.1481279363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many Scottish foods have PGI or similar protections. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

The PGI (Protected Geographical Indicator) and similar schemes are widely used to protect the producers of specialist, high-quality foods which are recognised around the world from those wishing to fraudulently cash in on their good name.

Two of the country’s biggest food “brands”, Scotch Beef and Scotch Lamb, have enjoyed this status since 1996 and the PGI status has been used as a significant marketing tool for both sectors.

Yesterday, Laurent Vernet, head of marketing with Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) said it was vital for UK legislation to give protection to PGI foods in this country as the new political landscape unfolded. He pointed out there were numerous examples of non-EU member countries with products which benefited from this status.

READ MORE: Brands are vital to Scotland’s food and drink sector

He said: “We see no reason why Scotch Beef PGI and Scotch Lamb PGI, which were among the first meats in Europe to be awarded PGI status, should not continue to benefit from PGI status as long as the necessary production criteria are in place.

“As an industry in Scotland we have worked hard to build strong brands underpinned by world-leading quality assurance. QMS is committed to ensuring our industry’s top quality brands, with their iconic reputation, continue to thrive on the global marketplace.”

Vernet added that QMS was also keen for clarity on the position of third country arrangements – products with PGI status are currently protected as part of bilateral agreements between the EU and third countries.

A report published yesterday by the Agricultural & Horticultural Development Board showed that, at present, the UK has 61 registered Geographical Indication products and 17 applications in the pipeline, with the majority relating to the meat and cheese sectors.

Kathy Roussel, head of the organisation’s Brussels office, said that government bodies recognised the benefits of protecting traditional and geographical food products.

She said a team was looking at how best to protect these products post-Brexit, adding: “When the UK leaves the EU, registered protected food names should be able to benefit from EU protection against imitation, provided there is a reciprocal agreement between the UK and the EU.”

However, Roussel said the funding provided by the EU to promote these brands would dry up post-Brexit – a source which had put £5 million into promoting Scotch Beef and Lamb over the past ten years.

But she conceded that producers might still see mileage in using EU protected food names as a ­valuable marketing tool to differentiate their products on EU and international markets.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "bhenderson@farming.co.uk" ,"author": "BRIAN HENDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313055.1481279363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313055.1481279363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many Scottish foods have PGI or similar protections. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many Scottish foods have PGI or similar protections. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313055.1481279363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/farming/top-civil-servant-cannot-rule-out-more-farm-payment-errors-1-4313004","id":"1.4313004","articleHeadline": "Top civil servant cannot rule out more farm payment errors","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481277690000 ,"articleLead": "

While the catalogue of farm support payment blunders continued to grow this week, Scotland’s top civil servant could give no categorical assurance to an inquiry that there would be no further errors.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313001.1481277711!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Leslie Evans: 'We cannot commit to there being no further errors.' Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s public audit committee’s meeting, which looked at the ongoing problems in the sector, permanent secretary Leslie Evans apologised for the continuing errors and said that there were some reasons to have greater confidence in the system.

However, citing the extent and complexity of the new support arrangements, she told the committee: “We cannot be confident of total success … and we cannot commit to there being no further errors.”

READ MORE: Still time to apply for farm support advance loans

Following the news of a series of mistakes at the beginning of the week – which included duplicate payments of 2016 support loans and an arithmetical error that had seen 166 producers in the second payment run receive too much – it was also revealed that a data protection breach had taken place on Wednesday.

Conservative committee member Ross Thomson said the session had provided little in the way of reassurance that the issues which had led to the mistakes were under control.

He said: “No-one seems to have been subject to any disciplinary action to date as a result of these errors and I have to say I find that extraordinary.”

Rural affairs committee member, Mike Rumbles, who sat in on the meeting, said a lack of confidence in the entire system had resulted in 5,000 farmers – almost one-third of farm business – rejecting the loan scheme.

He added that distrust had been exacerbated by the lack of any information on how payments had been calculated.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN HENDERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313001.1481277711!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313001.1481277711!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Leslie Evans: 'We cannot commit to there being no further errors.' Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Leslie Evans: 'We cannot commit to there being no further errors.' Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313001.1481277711!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/scotland-s-upbeat-small-firms-shrug-off-brexit-fears-1-4312917","id":"1.4312917","articleHeadline": "Scotland’s upbeat small firms shrug off Brexit fears","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481275210000 ,"articleLead": "

The vast majority of small businesses in Scotland are confident about their future despite likely economic headwinds, according to a new survey.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312916.1481275134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Small firms appear less concerned about Brexit than elsewhere in the UK. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Figures produced for challenger bank Aldermore, the specialist UK mortgage and small business lender, found that 85 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) north of the Border predict their revenues to either grow or hold steady in 2017. Of those that expect to grow, half plan to do so by launching new products or services.

Carl D’Ammassa, managing director of business finance at Aldermore, said the results highlight businesses’ resilience when it comes to both domestic and international trade.

READ MORE: Brexit: Large banks ‘planning moves from UK to France’

Although the majority of the Scottish electorate voted to remain within the EU, SMEs seem less concerned about the repercussions of Brexit than their counterparts elsewhere in the UK – 59 per cent said the decision to leave the EU will either have no impact or a positive impact on their business. Across the UK as a whole, the comparative figure was 34 per cent.

D’Ammassa said: “Scottish SMEs’ views on the expected impact of Brexit are in line with the views of the rest of the UK, but Scottish companies are even more confident about their growth prospects in the coming year compared to the UK average.”

Nearly one in four firms with growth plans intend to drive those ambitions by entering new markets or through investment in technology, the survey noted.

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KRISTY DORSEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312916.1481275134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312916.1481275134!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Small firms appear less concerned about Brexit than elsewhere in the UK. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Small firms appear less concerned about Brexit than elsewhere in the UK. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312916.1481275134!/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/fmqs-review-three-times-nicola-sturgeon-struggled-and-one-time-she-didn-t-1-4312611","id":"1.4312611","articleHeadline": "FMQs Review: Three times Nicola Sturgeon struggled (and one time she didn’t)","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481275132000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon usually emerges from First Minister’s Questions, her weekly 45-minute grilling at the Scottish Parliament, relatively unscathed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312610.1481214925!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

But today she struggled to fight back against a barrage of criticism over the declining performance of Scotland’s schools, following the news earlier this week that the nation is slipping down international league tables.

1) Ruth Davidson went for the jugular


Describing the Pisa scores as “the worst set of results ever recorded”, the Scottish Tory leader pointed out that they followed almost a decade of SNP control of Scotland’s education system.

In response, Ms Sturgeon admitted – with admirable honesty – that the results were “not good enough” and that as First Minister, she bore ultimate responsibility.

READ MORE: Scotland slips down world education rankings in key subjects

2) She was confronted with a list of SNP excuses

Warming to her topic, Ms Davidson accused the SNP leader of being a “stuck record” and read out a series of quotes from ministers promising to improve Scottish education.

She quoted Fiona Hyslop pledging to reverse falling standards in 2009; Alasdair Allan promising “progress” in 2013 and Angela Constance saying she’d take personal responsibility for the issue last year.

READ MORE: Tories threaten to pull out of key education policy

3) Willie Rennie’s long list of countries

SNP ministers shifted uncomfortably in their seats as the Lib Dem leader began his question like this: “Singapore. Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Estonia, Canada, Netherlands, Finland, Denmark. “Slovenia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Poland, Norway, Austria, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden, Russia and France.”

They were, of course, the countries that ranked above Scotland in the Pisa tests. Ouch.

…And one great fightback

Ms Sturgeon played a blinder when the Tory leader said her party wanted to put the SNP’s longest-running education policy, the Curriculum for Excellence, “on probation”. Responding, she quoted back something said by Tory education spokeswoman Liz Smith just the previous day: “The principles behind the Curriculum for Excellence are absolutely right.” Zing.

This article first appeared on our sister site iNews

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS GREEN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312610.1481214925!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312610.1481214925!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312610.1481214925!/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/world/donald-trump-is-time-s-person-of-the-year-1-4311301","id":"1.4311301","articleHeadline": "Donald Trump is Time’s Person of the Year","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481275062000 ,"articleLead": "

Time magazine has named US President-elect Donald Trump its Person of the Year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4311300.1481116384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US President-elect Donald Trump is Time's Person of the Year. Picture: AP/Evan Vucci"} ,"articleBody": "

“It’s a great honour. It means a lot,” Trump said in a telephone interview on NBC’s “Today” show.

The magazine’s managing editor, Nancy Gibbs, said on the programme that Democrat Hillary Clinton was the runner up. Gibbs said the choice of Trump this year was “straightforward.”

The Manhattan real estate magnate went from fiery underdog in the race for the Republican presidential nomination to president-elect when he defeated Clinton in last month’s election.

Trump won 306 electoral votes, easily enough to make him president when the electors meet on December 19. Clinton won the popular vote.

Trump has begun the process of preparing for his presidency and filling Cabinet posts.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4311300.1481116384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4311300.1481116384!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "US President-elect Donald Trump is Time's Person of the Year. Picture: AP/Evan Vucci","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US President-elect Donald Trump is Time's Person of the Year. Picture: AP/Evan Vucci","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4311300.1481116384!/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/spike-in-children-using-foodbanks-in-renfrewshire-1-4312950","id":"1.4312950","articleHeadline": "Spike in children using foodbanks in Renfrewshire","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481271494000 ,"articleLead": "

The number of children relying on food banks in one council area has jumped by almost a quarter in just three months.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312949.1481289353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: JP"} ,"articleBody": "

Renfrewshire Council leaders say the rise coincides with recent benefit changes and delays to payments.

Statistics compiled by the council show the number of children receiving food bank assistance has risen from 355 to 437 between July and September this year.

In total, 947 food bank vouchers were issued by the council to 72 families and 149 single parents.

Council leader Mark Macmillan is calling on the Scottish Government to help mitigate the impact of benefit changes.

He said: “The UK Government’s drastic welfare cuts are creating a perfect storm that is forcing more people and more families into poverty, which is simply unacceptable.

“I would urge the Scottish Government to use its devolved powers for the benefit of those who need it most and help tackle child poverty across all regions in Scotland to provide much-needed support and reassurance to those currently struggling on the breadline.

“It is clear that the UK welfare cuts are hitting the most vulnerable in our society the hardest.

“The Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement did little to address concerns by failing to end the freeze on child benefits or reverse planned cuts being introduced to in-work support under Universal Credit.

READ MORE: Zambian student ‘shocked’ to find food banks in Scotland

“Tackling poverty is a major priority for this council and we have strived to implement a number of initiatives through investment in our Tackling Poverty Programme to address the inequalities Renfrewshire faces.

“Hopefully the funds approved under the Renfrewshire Foodbank transport grant will help alleviate some of the financial strain experienced by families and others on low incomes in the region.”

The council said a £14,500 grant has been approved to help meet the transport costs of some families to and from food banks.

Elizabeth Alexander, project manager at Renfrewshire Foodbank, said: “The changes in benefits and delays to payments are having a real impact on more children than ever before and we expect this situation only to worsen in the future.”

John Dickie, director of Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “CPAG’s research shows that social security cuts, benefit delays and sanctions are some of the key drivers pushing up demand for food banks.

“While these problems are largely the result of UK Government policy, there is a need for all levels of government to act immediately to protect children and families from the scandal and stress of food poverty.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312949.1481289353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312949.1481289353!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: JP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: JP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312949.1481289353!/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-boris-s-village-has-obviously-not-reported-him-missing-1-4312726","id":"1.4312726","articleHeadline": "Leader: Boris’s village has obviously not reported him missing","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481263200000 ,"articleLead": "

A Foreign secretary who travels around the world saying things which are not the position of his government is a novel concept. It must be like a company employing a salesman to travel round the world not selling its products.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312725.1481224900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson embarrassed Britain after telling a confeerence that thecountry's ally Saudi Arabia was a puppeteer conducting proxy wars. Picture Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Actually its is worse than that because the actions of the errant salesman are making it harder for the company to do business. It is hard to believe that salesman would stay long in his job.

The slapping down of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson by Theresa May is one of the most public and humiliating reproofs in modern politics. No doubt there was an element of personal exasperation given that Mrs May had just returned from visiting the Saadis in a bid to “strengthen” the relationship with the influential state. It is likely that Mr Jonson’s unwise comments will have undone any achievment by Mrs May.

Some will argue that Mr Johnson was simply telling the truth, albeit an unpalatable truth, becuase it is true that the Saudis and Iran are acting in Syria and Yemen on different sides of the conflicts. Those people will probably argue that diplomatic circles could do with a breath of fresh air and it would help to be blunter and more transparent.

And others will argue that Britain is unhappy about causing offence only because it fears it might impact the billions of pounds British companies get from selling military equipment and arms to the Middle Eastern state. It is not clear why protecting thousands of jobs in this country might be perceived to be a bad thing.

But it is not just about defence contracts as was starkly highlighted yesterday by the new head of MI6, Alex Younger, who said that the scale of the terrorism threat to the UK is “unprecedented”. He said that UK intelligence and security services had disrupted 12 terrorist plots since June 2013 and that many of the threats came from ungoverned spaces in the Middle East - namely Iraq and Syria.

A vital ally in the battle against terror, especially for intelligence gathered around the conflcits in Syria nd Iraq, is Saudi Arabia. The information gained by them particuarly around the movement of known terorists can be vital in early warning of attacks on Europe. By offending the Saudis Mr Johnson puts that lifeline at risk.

Mrs May knew that appointing Boris Johnson to the Foreign Office was a high risk strategy. His entire political track record will show that he finds it impossible to keep an opinion to himself. He is popular in some places because his outspoken eccentric persona goes down well with the public. But to be succesful a Foreign Secretary does not need the acclaim or affection of the public, he needs the respect of other world leaders who are prepared to do business with him.

The village where Mr Johnson was gainfully employed before he entered politics has obviously not reported him missing. The inhabitants are likely keeping their heads down and longing for a protracted separation. It is to be hoped that Mrs May has some disappointment in store for them in the new year.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312725.1481224900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312725.1481224900!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson embarrassed Britain after telling a confeerence that thecountry's ally Saudi Arabia was a puppeteer conducting proxy wars. Picture Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson embarrassed Britain after telling a confeerence that thecountry's ally Saudi Arabia was a puppeteer conducting proxy wars. Picture Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312725.1481224900!/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/call-for-action-on-heart-disease-deaths-in-scottish-mothers-1-4312786","id":"1.4312786","articleHeadline": "Call for action on heart disease deaths in Scottish mothers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481241660000 ,"articleLead": "

Leading doctors have called for better care for pregnant women and new mothers with heart disease in Scottish hospitals, after a major UK report flagged rising numbers of mothers dying from cardiac problems.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312785.1481233675!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New standards have been drawn up to reduce the number of deaths of pregnant and new mothers from heart disease."} ,"articleBody": "

The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (RCPSG) will announce new standards today for caring for women with heart disease, including pre-pregnancy counselling, out-of-hours access to care and closer working between heart specialists and obstetricians.

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of maternal death, according to an expert report published this week by a team of academics, clinicians and charity representatives called MBRRACE-UK.

The rise in older and heavier mothers is believed to be to blame for the increase in deaths, which affect two women per 100,000.

Professor Hazel Scott, RCPSG medical vice president, said: “Every maternal death is a devastating blow to families, healthcare teams and the community.

“Heart disease is a particular area where physicians and obstetricians need to work better together to ensure the right care is given at the right time.

“The College calls on the Scottish Health Service to enable every woman of child bearing age in Scotland to have access to the protection afforded by the optimal use of the clinical team.”

Maternal deaths have halved over the past decade but the number of women dying from causes that are not directly associated with pregnancy has failed to keep pace with the decline.

Some women showed symptoms of a heart attack, such as chest pain and severe breathlessness but did not ask for help from medics as they did not realise they could be at risk of heart problems, the report found.

A significant proportion of women who died also had a pre-existing condition before embarking on pregnancy, yet were not flagged as ‘high risk’ and so did not receive the specialist care they needed.

Professor Marian Knight, maternal programme lead for MBRRACE UK said: “Whilst dying from heart disease in pregnancy or after childbirth is uncommon, women need to be aware that they may be at risk.

“Women with heart problems in pregnancy need the right care in the right place at the right time and by the right specialist team of doctors and midwives.

“These new standards will help ensure that women in Scotland get that best level of care.”

The college has urged all Scottish health boards to focus on spotting when women have a risk of heart disease and to offer better support and specialist care.

Scotland’s chief medical officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, who is a trained obstetrician, said the guidelines could make a real difference to women.

She said: “The MBRRACE report published this week and the 2014 report have highlighted the risks of heart problems for pregnant women, and this is an area where, with awareness raising, prompt identification and multidisciplinary management of care can make a real difference to outcomes for pregnant women with cardiac disease.

“These standards are the result of joint working between cardiologists and obstetricians across Scotland, and I welcome the standards and will work with colleagues in Health Boards to ensure that they are implemented across Scotland.”

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Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been slapped down by Downing Street over his claim that British ally Saudi Arabia has been “playing proxy wars” in the Middle East.

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Theresa May’s official spokeswoman said the Prime Minister had “full confidence” in Mr Johnson, but that his comments at a conference in Italy were his own personal view and did not reflect government policy.

And she pointedly noted that Mr Johnson will have the opportunity to set out official policy – of Britain’s desire to strengthen its ties with Saudi Arabia and support for its military involvement in Yemen –when he travels to the desert kingdom for talks on Sunday.

Mrs May spoke with King Salman during her visit to the Persian Gulf this week, when he was able to hear the Prime Minister assure him of “her commitment and that of her government to enhancing and strengthening this relationship”, said the spokeswoman.

A national newspaper published footage of Mr Johnson’s comments to the Med2 conference in Rome last week, in which he lumped Saudi Arabia in with Iran when he raised concerns about “puppeteering” in the region.

Mr Johnson said: “There are politicians who are twisting and abusing religion and different strains of the same religion in order to further their own political objectives. That’s one of the biggest political problems in the whole region.

“And the tragedy for me –and that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area – is that there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.”

The Foreign Secretary said there were not enough “big characters” in the region willing to “reach out beyond their Sunni or Shia” group.

He told the conference: “That’s why you’ve got the Saudis, Iran, everybody, moving in and puppeteering and playing proxy wars.”

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “As the Foreign Secretary made very clear on Sunday, we are allies with Saudi Arabia and support them in their efforts to secure their borders and protect their people.”

Mrs May’s spokeswoman said: “Those are the Foreign Secretary’s views. They are not the government’s position.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312807.1481235040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312807.1481235040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Boris Johnson meets Saudi Arabias foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir earlier in the year. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson meets Saudi Arabias foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir earlier in the year. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312807.1481235040!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}