{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/derek-mackay-faces-ambush-over-scots-first-wealth-tax-1-4314549","id":"1.4314549","articleHeadline": "Derek Mackay faces ambush over Scots’ first ‘wealth tax’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481414383000 ,"articleLead": "

Derek Mackay faces a bitter battle over taxation policy as he prepares to deliver the first budget that will set Scottish income tax at a higher level than elsewhere in the UK.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314548.1481403858!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mackays rejection of the Chancellors raising of the upper rate tax threshold will generate much needed revenue but threatens to create a slowly widening gap in earnings across the border. Picture:: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

When the Finance Secretary presents his draft 2017/18 budget to Holyrood this week, it will be a touchstone moment in the history of devolution.

For the first time a Scottish Government will propose an economic policy which will see higher-rate Scottish taxpayers subject to a more punitive tax regime than their English counterparts.

Mackay’s determination to press ahead with the SNP’s policy will dominate Holyrood this week and will expose the ideological differences across the chamber as the Scottish Government faces the challenge of growing the economy at a time of draconian cuts.

As the Finance Secretary in a minority government, Mackay will somehow have to win enough support to get his budget through a parliament full of opposition MSPs who disagree with his policy from both ends of the left/right political spectrum.

On the one hand, there are the left-leaning politicians of Labour, the Greens and Lib Dems who argue that Mackay’s existing tax-raising plans do not go far enough and want taxes to go up further. On the other are the Scottish Tories, who believe making Scotland the highest taxed part of the UK sends the wrong message to business and will damage family finances.

With Labour politicians warning they will vote against a budget that does not take account of their calls for further tax hikes and the Tories indicating that they will not support any tax rises above the rest of the UK, Mackay has much wheeling and dealing to do in the run-up to Thursday’s budget.

The day before the budget the Conservatives will turn the spotlight on the issue when they lead a debate on a motion stating that “Scottish families and businesses should not be taxed more highly than those elsewhere in the United Kingdom”.

Holyrood was born with the powers to raise the so-called “tartan tax”, the ability to vary income tax by three pence in the pound, but never used it.

New powers delivered by the Calman Commission came into force this year. From April ministers had the power to set a Scottish Rate of Income Tax (SRIT). The UK rate was reduced by 10p in the pound across all bands in Scotland, giving the devolved institutions the ability to set a SRIT that was either above or below the UK rate. The Scottish Government, however, shied away from using the powers, setting a SRIT of 10p in the pound to restore parity with the rest of the UK.

From April 2017 the Scottish Parliament will have the ability to set both income tax bands and rates.

The disparity between Scotland and the rest of the UK arises through the Scottish Government’s unwillingness to follow the UK government’s proposal to give a tax break to higher earners.

In his Autumn Statement Chancellor Philip Hammond outlined an increase in the threshold for the 40p upper rate of income tax from £43,000 to £45,000 next year – eventually reaching £50,000 by 2020/21.

This week Mackay will confirm that the Scottish Government does not intend to follow suit. Instead the increase in the Scottish threshold for the higher income tax rate will be tied to inflation – a decision that sees the 370,000 or so higher earners in Scotland miss out on Hammond’s tax break.

In Scotland the threshold will increase to £43,387 with inflation – less than the £45,000 proposed for the rest of the UK. Under this arrangement a Scot earning £50,000 will pay £9,023 in income tax. A £50,000 earner in the rest of the UK will pay £8,700 – £323 less.

The gap will grow over time. In 2020-21, Scotland’s threshold will have risen with inflation to £45,997 – still some way behind the UK threshold of £50,000. In 2020-21 a Scot with a £50,000 salary would pay £8,300 in income tax. South of the border someone on the same salary would pay £7,500 – a difference of £800.

“This will be the first time we have differential income tax rates between Scotland and the rest of the UK,” said Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute and former head of the First Minister’s Policy Unit.

According to Roy, a further complication arises through the way the devolved income tax interacts with National Insurance payments, which remain reserved to Westminster.

Under the Westminster system the National Insurance rate drops from 12 per cent to two per cent when salaries hit the higher rate income tax threshold.

In Scotland, therefore, some taxpayers will lose 52 per cent of their income for the small proportion of their salary that lies between the Scottish and UK thresholds. Next year, for example, taxpayers who hit the £43,387 Scottish threshold will move into the 40 per cent Scottish income tax bracket while still in the 12 per cent Westminster national insurance bracket. Their National Insurance contributions will not drop to two per cent until they reach the rest of the UK 40 pence threshold of £45,000.

All this, say the Tories, sends out the wrong message to businesses and families at a time when the Scottish Government also intends to raise council tax, and it is why they intend to debate the issue on Wednesday.

“There is a basic principle at stake this week,” said Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Conservative finance spokesman.

“It is over whether people living here should have to pay more in tax for doing the same job as someone from elsewhere in the UK. We don’t believe they should and we don’t believe it’s fair.

“With an increase in funding from the UK government announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, the Scottish Government’s argument that it can’t afford to pass on a tax cut to workers here simply doesn’t hold water.”

Although the difference to people’s pay packets caused by the diverging rates is relatively small at the moment, the Tories argue that Scotland’s reputation will suffer from being the highest taxed part of the UK.

Many business leaders agree. “Scotland is an attractive place to live and work and for it to remain so we would urge MSPs to think twice about any moves which could see Scottish-based workers paying more in tax than elsewhere in the UK. Higher taxes might affect the ability of employers to retain or attract talent – either on a permanent or temporary basis,” said David Lonsdale, Director of the Scottish Retail Consortium.

But last night Mackay accused the Tories of “rank hypocrisy”, arguing that UK government policies were resulting in cuts to Scotland’s budget.

The Finance Secretary’s spokesman said: “We set out our tax proposals in our manifesto, on which we were resoundingly re-elected by the people of Scotland just over six months ago. Our budget proposals, including our tax plans, are founded on fairness and we will outline them in more detail this coming week.

“But this is rank hypocrisy from a Tory Party whose policies will see Scotland’s overall budget cut by £2.9 billion – nine per cent in real terms – by the end of this decade compared with when they took office at Westminster.”

The Scottish Government had calculated that blocking the UK’s tax break would raise over £1 billion for public services.

Since then it has been predicted that inflation could jump to four per cent by the end of next year as the pound falls following the EU referendum result.

Economists in the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) have warned that rising inflation could reduce income tax revenue in Scotland by “many millions” of pounds.

This is against a background of Scotland’s growth lagging behind the rest of the UK with an increase of just 0.4 per cent recorded in the second quarter of this year compared with 0.7 per cent in the rest of the UK.

Mackay also has to deal with the challenge presented by budget cuts. The IPPR has calculated that Scotland’s day-to-day budget will fall by £800m between 2016/17 and 2019/20.

Once spending commitments for protected departments such as the NHS and police is taken into account, the IPPR calculates spending on non-protected departments is due to fall by £1.3bn per year by 2019/20.

For Labour the way to protect public services when budgets are under such pressure is to raise more tax. Labour (and the Lib Dems and Greens) believe taxpayers should pay more.

Kezia Dugdale wants to see an extra one pence on income tax across all bands plus raising the top rate for those earning more than £150,000 increased from 45 per cent to 50 per cent. The Lib Dems also want a one pence increase across all bands, while the Green plans for tax increases include raising the top rate to 60 per cent.

“If the SNP minority Government does not accept these proposals, and tries to force another austerity budget through Holyrood, we will vote against it.”

An independent report produced by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) said that raising an extra 1p across all bands would generate £475 million extra for the Scottish Government. Labour has estimated their plans would raise £500m.

The other side of that argument is that raising taxes takes that cash out of the pockets of consumers and therefore takes money away from business.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314548.1481403858!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314548.1481403858!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mackays rejection of the Chancellors raising of the upper rate tax threshold will generate much needed revenue but threatens to create a slowly widening gap in earnings across the border. Picture:: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mackays rejection of the Chancellors raising of the upper rate tax threshold will generate much needed revenue but threatens to create a slowly widening gap in earnings across the border. Picture:: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314548.1481403858!/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/greens-seek-5-a-week-increase-in-child-benefit-1-4314547","id":"1.4314547","articleHeadline": "Greens seek £5 a week increase in child benefit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481414383000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government is being urged to increase child benefit payments by £5 a week when Holyrood gets new welfare powers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314546.1481403540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Green social security spokeswoman Alison Johnstone made the plea ahead of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft budget for 2017-18 on Thursday. Picture: contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Green MSPs said the move – which has previously been suggested by the government’s Independent Working Group on Child Poverty – could give hope to some of the 220,000 youngsters who face Christmas in poverty.

Adding an extra £5 to the payment would cost an estimated £256 million a year in Scotland – but research from the Child Poverty Action Group has suggested it could remove 30,000 youngsters from financial hardship.

Green social security spokeswoman Alison Johnstone made the plea ahead of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft budget for 2017-18 on Thursday.

The Scottish Government said it is “fully committed” to tackling child poverty and that the draft budget will tackle inequality.

Johnstone said: “Almost a quarter of a million Scottish children face spending this Christmas in poverty. The Scottish Government has an opportunity to give families hope in 2017 by using the new powers over income tax and social security.”

While the Scottish Government has carried out a consultation exercise ahead of the transfer of some benefits powers, Johnstone claimed it was “a worry” that this had “neglected to mention the ability to top up reserved benefits, such as child benefit”.

The Lothian MSP said: “Greens were elected to make Holyrood bolder, and by pushing for an anti-poverty budget we are bringing constructive pressure to bear.

“Topping up child benefit would show how serious we are about social justice. We have the resources needed if we use our income tax powers. When it comes to tackling poverty, it’s time we turned words into action.”

Scotland’s Children’s Commissioner, Tam Baillie, has already called for a £5 increase in the weekly payments in Scotland, saying the extra cash is necessary to ensure every child has enough food to thrive.

Social Security Minister Jeane Freeman said: “The UK government’s welfare cuts and benefits sanctions have pushed more families into crisis and needing help from food banks and other services.

“We are already spending £100 million a year to support people affected by these cuts, including fully mitigating the bedroom tax, and an additional £1 million a year is invested in our Fair Food Fund to support a range of projects.

“The Sheffield Hallam report suggests that the cuts to welfare spending since summer 2015 would amount to £1 billion in Scotland. We cannot reverse all the cuts that they inflict but will continue to protect those most vulnerable.”

She added: “This government is fully committed to tackling child poverty.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314546.1481403540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314546.1481403540!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Green social security spokeswoman Alison Johnstone made the plea ahead of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft budget for 2017-18 on Thursday. Picture: contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Green social security spokeswoman Alison Johnstone made the plea ahead of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft budget for 2017-18 on Thursday. Picture: contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314546.1481403540!/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/dani-garavelli-clock-ticking-to-restore-spirit-of-excellence-1-4314277","id":"1.4314277","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Clock ticking to restore spirit of Excellence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481401500000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s poor performance in the triennial Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey of standards in reading, maths and science across 72 developed countries would have come as no surprise to anyone who has watched our education system struggle to cope with the upheaval caused by the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314276.1481387095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The appointment of John Swinney as education secretary was intended to allay growing fears about standards. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

A range of pedagogical experts, including frontline teachers, have been warning for years that the cack-handed way in which the policy was being implemented was having a negative impact. They believe the bureaucratic and assessment-heavy system we have ended up with is diametrically opposed to the original CfE vision, which was to liberate teachers and create independent and successful learners.

Until May – when Nicola Sturgeon appointed John Swinney as the new education secretary – the Scottish Government did little to address those concerns. Only now, when the decline in standards is already entrenched and Scotland is being compared unfavourably with Slovenia, does it appear to be acknowledging the scale of the problem.

Almost as disheartening as the SNP’s inertia is the Tories’ predictably knee-jerk response. No sooner had the survey results been published than Ruth Davidson was calling for the entire CfE project to be “put on probation”. “If standards are declining because of CfE, the SNP has to explain why it is sticking by it,” she said. Yes, that’s the answer. Let’s jettison the policy we’ve spent the past 15 years developing. Because there’s nothing beleaguered Scottish teachers need more right now than a bit more instability.

This is – in a nutshell – everything that’s wrong with contemporary politics. A bold new initiative doesn’t pan out as planned and instead of doing the hard thing – listening to critics, working out where it’s going wrong, and trying to get it back on track – one party spends years in denial and the other wants to write the whole thing off.

What is needed in the face of the latest setback is cool heads and a bit of perspective. There is no getting away from the fact the rankings – which see Scotland scoring an “average” in all three fields (when they scored “above average” in reading and science in 2012) – are a blow, but not everyone believes the PISA survey is the most useful measure of attainment; it is not entirely fair, after all, to compare Scotland with countries in eastern Asia where children spend several hours a day with private tutors.

On a positive front, the bulk of educational experts, including the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), the body responsible for the PISA rankings, still believe the philosophies that lie behind CfE – greater teacher autonomy, a broader educational base, and interdisciplinary learning – to be of value.

The implementation may have been disastrous, but many of the flaws have already been identified: a lack of clarity around how it should be delivered, not enough time out of the classroom for teachers to share ideas, and an increase in form-filling and assessment for assessment’s sake.

The freedom to adopt different approaches has led to a disparity in the number of subjects taken in fourth year, with some schools offering pupils a maximum of six National Fives and others eight; in those schools where they offer only six, there has been a narrowing of choices and a drop in those taking a modern language.

There have also been issues with the introduction of the new qualifications, with a trend towards “teaching to the test” and claims that the National Four, which has no exam attached, is looked down on by both pupils and employers.

Some of these problems are finally being confronted. Earlier this year, Swinney pledged to crack down on bureaucracy and scrap the much-hated “unit assessments” which were taking up valuable teaching time in fourth and fifth year. Sturgeon has also set up a £100 million attainment fund to be channelled to schools in the areas of greatest need.

At the same time, the party is determinedly pressing ahead with more contentious measures. It remains committed to the reintroduction of standardised assessments in primaries, despite warnings that doing so will result in league tables and intensify the middle-class drift towards “better” schools. It also intends to “empower” headteachers and create regional education boards to encourage collaboration between local authorities, though some fear this is the first step towards removing schools from council control.

You could argue all day about the pros and cons of giving schools autonomy, but the one thing the PISA survey makes clear is that the countries that do best are the ones that invest most heavily in teaching. Not the ones that splash the most cash, but the ones where the cash that’s splashed finds its way into the classroom.

This is significant. In the past, the SNP’s approach has often been to cast teachers as change-resistant whingers standing in the way of progress; thus, their concerns about the implementation of CfE could be dismissed as further evidence of their inflexibility. But teachers are our greatest resource: motivate them, support them, give them space for development, and you might just get the best out of them. Most crucially: respect their expertise. They’re the ones who are tasked with delivering CfE on a daily basis; accept they know what they’re talking about.

Sturgeon insists narrowing the attainment gap is her top priority. Quite right too. It is disgusting that children born into deprivation continue to have their life prospects circumscribed from birth when a good education ought to be offering a ladder up.

To ditch CfE at this stage, when its principles are sound and so much has been invested in it, would be counterproductive. But last week, Keith Topping, professor emeritus of education at the University of Dundee, said we had just five years to save it; after that it would be abandoned as a lost cause. Having squandered so much 
time already, the SNP had better get cracking.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314276.1481387095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314276.1481387095!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The appointment of John Swinney as education secretary was intended to allay growing fears about standards. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The appointment of John Swinney as education secretary was intended to allay growing fears about standards. Photograph: Jane Barlow/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314276.1481387095!/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/norman-stone-nanny-state-s-plan-on-back-of-a-fag-packet-1-4314275","id":"1.4314275","articleHeadline": "Norman Stone: Nanny state’s plan on back of a fag packet","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481412691000 ,"articleLead": "

There was a small but revealing episode in the fall of Margaret Thatcher late in 1990. In October, the Italians held a conference in Rome to propose monetary union. Thatcher was “ambushed”; she didn’t want Britain to join the Exchange Rate Mechanism, let alone the euro to which it gave birth some years later: she saw both as calamitous.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314274.1481385666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Margaret Thatcher taunted EU leaders with a Dunhill pack. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

She proved quite right just the same: Britain had to leave the ERM, and the euro has wreaked havoc, with much of southern Europe near bankruptcy.

She said at the time that the other EU leaders were “on their way to cloud cuckoo-land”. During the conference she produced a packet of Dunhill International on which a warning had been stamped: ‘Smoking seriously harms you and others around you’. She wondered how much bureaucratic time had been spent on this nonsense. Like us all, she knew many smokers who had lived to a ripe old age, and many non-smokers who had not. But what was the EU doing, bothering with such things?

The bureaucracy has grown and grown, now with a proposal to package all cigarettes in the same style. Already shops in the UK are forbidden to have cigarette packets on open sale; and they are also very expensive. But a quarter of adults smoke – an obstinate figure, not dented by the restrictions.

The nanny state is a multinational phenomenon. The World Health Organisation has no very obvious function and it needs international health scares so as to have something to do. How many times have we been told that this or that infection could spread, in the manner of the Black Death? Ebola has come and more or less gone. Bird flu caused tourists in Turkey to arrive with breathing masks, but it caused only one death –an eastern farmer who had sex with his neighbour’s hen and who was then killed by the neighbour.

Alcohol can be dangerous for health and national governments have to take charge of national circumstances; the Blair governments were badly advised to let the pubs stay open at will. In the UK there is a dreadful problem about public drunkenness and some sort of control has to be exercised. Those long winter nights drive people to drink. The same applies to Finland: creative and serious one minute, sozzled the next. This need not be used as a benchmark for international Prohibition, which may be nanny state’s next move.

Of course, there are very good reasons for advising smokers and drinkers of the dangers involved. The particular truths involved came up in a moment of deepest consequences – World War One. British pub hours were limited in 1915 because munitions workers flush with money got so drunk at weekends that they could not function on Monday mornings. Government realised that it had powers and for three generations British pubs closed at 11pm, or even earlier.

By then an idea had become widespread, that “the man in Whitehall knows best”. That idea led to widespread nationalisation of British industry, to the NHS and the introduction of universal comprehensive schooling – all of them with serious question marks. In the over-centralised UK reform became horribly difficult.

Suppose that it were possible for localities to decide for themselves as to whether smoking restrictions should be relaxed, or drink laws tightened. These matters have never been put to a vote, and that for a good reason, which in English history goes back a long way.

The Puritans are a very active and organised minority. They even can dictate what you say, and imprison or fine you if you speak your mind. There are good sides to the Puritans, of course. Around 1900, appalled by the mess of the slums of the great cities, town-planners of good will came up with the idea of a Garden City. However, Milton Keynes, one of these gnome-utopias, has a considerable crime rate and, from boredom, a drug problem.

The Puritans do not know what to do with this, though it is clearly far more important than tobacco or even alcohol. So they run away, and find yet sillier ways to stop smoking. They should either have the courage of their convictions, and ban it, with all the foreseeable consequences, or make sensible adaptations.

Norman Stone is an academic, historian and author, and is a former adviser to late prime minister Margaret Thatcher

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Norman Stone"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314274.1481385666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314274.1481385666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Margaret Thatcher taunted EU leaders with a Dunhill pack. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Margaret Thatcher taunted EU leaders with a Dunhill pack. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314274.1481385666!/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/alison-thewliss-mum-takes-fight-to-mother-of-parliaments-1-4314539","id":"1.4314539","articleHeadline": "Alison Thewliss: Mum takes fight to Mother of Parliaments","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481412301000 ,"articleLead": "

On the stairs of a terraced house in the south of Glasgow sits three-year-old Kirsty Wright; she is munching a slice of toast and Nutella, much of which has been smeared across her face, as her brother Alexander, six, digs into a pile of footwear and pulls out his school shoes. It is 8.28am and the hall bristles with barely suppressed panic. But it’s 1 December, so before the children can be bundled out of the door, there is one more important job to do: the ceremonial opening of the Advent calendars. As if from nowhere, the calendars appear; the windows are located, the chocolates scoffed and it’s a wrap: the walk to nursery and school can begin.

" ,"articleBody": "

Overseeing this military operation is the children’s mother: SNP MP Alison Thewliss. Thewliss is highly organised – her hair and her make-up done and the papers she needs for the rest of the day set aside to lift on her way out. But, as she watches Alexander kick contentedly through the leaves, she has that air of chronic fatigue familiar to working mothers everywhere; and no wonder.

Thanks to a late Commons vote, Thewliss only arrived back from London at 10pm the night before. And she has a packed day ahead. First, she is heading for a conference on domestic violence at Strathclyde University, then to her office to catch up with a backlog of constituency work. Tonight she is on school/nursery pick-up duty, and tomorrow morning she has to be on the first flight back to London to support Mhairi Black as she puts forward a private member’s bill to limit benefits sanctions. The demands of being a politician and a parent, mean she has a checklist constantly running through her head and a copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda in her tote bag. “Alexander suggested I take it to London so I can read it to him on the nights I’m away,” she says.

Thewliss is one the of the 56 SNP MPs (20 of them women) who rode into Westminster on the SNP tsunami in May, 2015. When she decided to stand for Glasgow Central, she had no expectation of overturning Anas Sarwar’s 10,000-strong majority. It wasn’t until the ballot boxes started arriving at the count that it began to dawn on her that she might actually take the seat. Even so, when the returning officer read out the result – an SNP victory with a 7,000-plus majority – she was shell-shocked. At that point, she was still breastfeeding Kirsty.

Despite her lack of psychological preparedness, Thewliss has been quick to make her mark, especially on issues relating to women. Just a few months after she arrived in the House of Commons, she secured a debate on breastfeeding. And – although breastfeeding in the chamber is still prohibited – attitudes are slowly changing. In July, the Speaker John Bercow welcomed an independent review which suggested changing the rules to “showcase the Commons as a role model”.

It has been Thewliss’s campaigning on the “rape clause” – tucked away on P88 of the 2015 budget – however, that has earned her most respect. Reading the document from back to front, as her years as a councillor taught her, Thewliss noticed the controversial plan to restrict child tax credits to two children for new claimants from April 2017 included an exemption for women whose third child was the result of rape.

Could the government really be so ignorant of the complexities around gender-based violence that it would ask traumatised women to share their ordeals with officials from the Department for Work and Pensions? Would it include such a contentious proposal, without a detailed consideration of how such disclosures would be collated or assessed?

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw it,” says Thewliss. “I asked my colleague: ‘Does this mean what I think it means?’ That was last July, and the government has still not given any details of how it intends to implement it. Asking women to [prove they have been raped] is stigmatising and wrong. That’s why I have been pushing so hard.”

Thewliss has indeed been pushing hard. She raised the issue so many times, the government was forced to launch a consultation, the results of which will be announced in the New Year. Then – a few hours after we meet – she scores another victory of sorts when her nemesis, Lord Freud, the Minister for Welfare reform, announces he is stepping down. Thewliss previously described the meeting she had with the peer over the rape clause as “the most frustrating and soul-destroying” in her nine years of elected public office. Lord Freud’s suggestion that women should just “flee” abusive relationships seemed to reflect a wider lack of understanding within the party about coercive control within domestic relationships.

Though the consultation lasted just 38 days, Thewliss is optimistic a change of prime minister makes a U-turn on the rape clause possible. But she will not be happy until the two-child restriction on child tax credits policy has been reversed. “The Tories seem to think people will be on full tax credits from the start so they will be able to make an informed decision about whether or not they can afford a third child,” she says. “But they don’t take into account people’s changing circumstances. You might decide to have a third child when everything’s going well, but then your partner takes ill or dies, and you have to start claiming then. Nor do they take into account the fact that some ethnic minorities or religions have larger families. There’s a cultural dimension that’s not being acknowledged.”

While some of the 2015 intake of SNP MPs owe their political awakening to the independence referendum, it was the 1997 devolution referendum that inspired 34-year-old Thewliss to join the party. Back then she was a pupil at Carluke High. Too young to vote herself, she carried out an exit poll at her former primary school as part of a modern studies project. Her parents, both social studies teachers, were politically engaged, though not – to her knowledge – politically aligned. But when speakers from a number of parties came to tout their wares, it was the SNP that caught Thewliss’s attention.

Later, studying politics and international relations at Aberdeen University, she got involved in canvassing, but a poor showing in the Holyrood elections in 2003 meant opportunities to work for the party were limited once she graduated. After an extended spell in Next and a three-month internship in Brussels, she was employed as a researcher for MSP Bruce McFee. McFee decided not to seek re-election in 2007, but, by then, the party was looking for candidates for the local elections, so Thewliss agreed to stand in Glasgow where the party had just three councillors out of 79.

Thewliss was one of the 19 SNP gains; at the age of just 24, she and a handful of other young pretenders found themselves in an environment dominated by crusty old men. If her feminism hadn’t been hard-wired, it would surely have been forged by her experiences at the City Chambers. She says she has expunged much of the sexism from her memory, but she recalls the day a councillor patted her female colleague’s stomach in the misguided belief she was pregnant. And she recently came across the note of apology another councillor was forced to write after responding to her heckle with the words: “Haw, hen, if I threw a stick would you go and fetch it?”

It says something about Thewliss’ personality that she just carried on regardless. When she gave birth to Alexander in 2010, she decided that, instead of taking six months leave, she would just bring him along with her. Three years later, she did the same with Kirsty.

“In some respects it was easy because at that age they’re quite portable,” she says. “I didn’t ask permission, I just did it and no-one said I couldn’t. I got odd looks sometimes when I breastfed in committee meetings, but no-one ever challenged me.”

Where some politicians guard their private lives like Rottweilers, Thewliss is refreshingly open about hers. As a councillor, she wrote a blog called Bellgrove Belle on which she posted pictures of her wedding to Joe, a software developer, and of her children, including one of Alexander asleep on her office desk. For decades, the fear of being perceived as less able has prevented working mothers from talking about the challenges they face. Thewliss’s willingness to confront them head-on then and to demonstrate how they might be overcome must have been a boon to the female councillors from other local authorities who sometimes phoned her for advice.

It was Thewliss’s belief in the importance of equal representation that drove her to stand as a MP. “I remember looking at the shortlist for Glasgow Central and thinking: ‘There’s not enough women there and I reckon I am at least as good as some of the men,’” she says. “I just thought: ‘I’ll test myself a wee bit and see how I get on.’ Also, you can’t keep complaining about there not being enough women in politics if you’re not prepared to step up.”

Having read Winnie Ewing’s autobiography, she appreciates how much tougher it would have been to head off to Westminster 40 years ago when women were more isolated. “I am thankful there’s always folk around that you can go for a cup of tea with or chat to about what kind of day you’ve had,” she says. She feels guilty about all the missed parents’ nights, but believes that, by keeping women’s issues on the agenda, she is performing a valuable role. Last month, she gained MPs’ unanimous backing to push ahead with a bill to tighten up legislation around the advertising of formula milk.

At the conference on violence against women, held as part of the awareness-raising 16 Days of Activism, Thewliss says there needs to be a shift from teaching girls how to keep themselves safe to teaching boys about consent. Almost exactly a week later, her former colleague, Michelle Thomson, will go on to tell the Commons how being raped at the age of 14 left her feeling “spoiled and impure” and caused her to “detach” from the child she had been. She will talk in chilling detail about the impact of the rape; about how she suffered low self-esteem until, eventually, she sought help and learned to see herself as a survivor not a victim.

The fact any MP feels able to share such a painful and emotional story in the chamber is testament to how much Westminster and the world has changed. But, Thewliss insists, there’s a long way to go. She points out that there still have been fewer female MPs in the entire history of the House of Commons (450 since Constance Markievicz in 1918) than there are male MPs in the Commons today (459). She talks too of the barracking women such as Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh have to endure.

She is determined to be an agent of change. In particular, she would like to see the Commons become more family-friendly, with debates finishing earlier – à la Holyrood – and a crèche, not only for MPs, but for those who come to the Commons to give evidence. “Researchers have found people coming to give evidence are predominantly male, live near London and are of a particular background, which isn’t good [because you are hearing only those voices],” she says. “Parliament needs to look at this and say: “How inclusive are we actually being?”

After she has finished at Strathclyde University, Thewliss poses obligingly for some more photographs then walks to her constituency office near the Gallowgate. Along the way, she answers questions on other pressing issues: the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, which the UK has signed up to but not yet ratified, and the redrawing of constituency boundaries which, she says, will mean more work for MPs.

But she is clearly preoccupied by all the things she has to achieve within the next 24 hours: the nursery/school pick-up, the crack-of-dawn flight to London, the journey back in time for her afternoon surgery. She looks worn out. But she has promises to keep; and miles to go before she sleeps.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/health/leader-don-t-squander-valuable-patient-doctor-bond-1-4314569","id":"1.4314569","articleHeadline": "Leader: Don’t squander valuable patient-doctor bond","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481412274000 ,"articleLead": "

There are many frustrating experiences to endure at visiting time in a busy hospital ward. Getting someone to answer the intercom to let you in is usually the first one, an exasperating experience after what might have been a long and stressful journey to see a loved one who is by that stage only yards away. The next is the reluctance of staff to make eye contact with a visitor who is clearly looking for information. But the worst is the long wait to speak to a doctor, who should arrive “soon” to cast light on a worrying condition about which nurses can’t offer guidance.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314568.1481406126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many young doctors believe they should be distant to be professional, according to Dr David Jeffrey. Photograph: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Overworked staff is the problem behind all these issues. There is no-one on the desk to answer the intercom; nurses fear that their busy day will become even more complicated if they engage with a visitor over an issue that is likely to delay them; and doctors are trying to assess more patients than their hours can reasonably permit.

When a report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine says doctors are not showing patients enough empathy, we can hardly be surprised. To stand any chance of getting round every bed, or fulfilling every appointment at a GP surgery, doctors are forced to take a functional, or cold, approach. There is no time for proper consideration of how a patient feels about what is happening to them, when the next appointment is already long overdue.

No-one should have to go through what can be the most frightening time of their life, feeling like the one person they can look to for help is elusive or unapproachable.

There is no easy answer to this problem, because to help doctors to do their jobs properly means investing in more doctors in a time of austerity. And the issue of doctors’ long hours, and the pressure they are under, has been with us for some time now.

But if we are serious about addressing this flaw in the NHS, here is another very good reason to take action. The relationship between doctor and patient is key to the success of health provision. The savings we make at this key point are a false economy.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314568.1481406126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314568.1481406126!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many young doctors believe they should be distant to be professional, according to Dr David Jeffrey. Photograph: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many young doctors believe they should be distant to be professional, according to Dr David Jeffrey. Photograph: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314568.1481406126!/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-born-scientists-receive-nobel-prize-in-physics-1-4314506","id":"1.4314506","articleHeadline": "Scots-born scientists receive Nobel Prize in physics","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481399219000 ,"articleLead": "

THREE British-born scientists have received this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for work that “revealed the secrets of exotic matter”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314505.1481398674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Nobel Prize in Physics laureates F. Duncan M. Haldane, left, David J. Thouless and J. Michael Kosterlitz, right. Picture: Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP"} ,"articleBody": "

David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz “opened the door” to an unknown world where matter takes unusual states or phases, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

They were awarded the prize for their “theoretical discoveries of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter”.

Thouless, 82, born in Bearsden near Glasgow, is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington, while Haldane, 65, born in London, is a physics professor at Princeton University in New Jersey.

Kosterlitz, 73, born in Aberdeen, is a physics professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Their research was conducted in the 1970s and ‘80s.

The award was announced in October and presented at a ceremony in Stockholm on Saturday, the anniversary of prize founder Alfred Nobel’s death in 1896.

The three shared the prize which has a purse of £730,000.

One half of the prize was awarded to Thouless, the other half jointly to Haldane and Kosterlitz.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314505.1481398674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314505.1481398674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Nobel Prize in Physics laureates F. Duncan M. Haldane, left, David J. Thouless and J. Michael Kosterlitz, right. Picture: Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Nobel Prize in Physics laureates F. Duncan M. Haldane, left, David J. Thouless and J. Michael Kosterlitz, right. Picture: Claudio Bresciani/TT via AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314505.1481398674!/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/former-soldier-with-ptsd-found-safe-and-well-in-glasgow-1-4314474","id":"1.4314474","articleHeadline": "Former soldier with PTSD found ‘safe and well’ in Glasgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481395899000 ,"articleLead": "

A former soldier who suffers from PTSD has been traced “safe and well” after going missing.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314473.1481395822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "James Spence, 47, had been missing from his home in Easterhill Road, Tollcross, since 3am on Friday. Picture: Police Scotland"} ,"articleBody": "

James Spence, 47, had been missing from his home in Easterhill Road, Tollcross, since 3am on Friday, when he left the house in his blue Vauxhall Tigra.

Police Scotland appealed for information to help trace him after his car was discovered in the city’s Yorkhill area a few hours later.

He was traced safe and well on Saturday afternoon, police said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314473.1481395822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314473.1481395822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "James Spence, 47, had been missing from his home in Easterhill Road, Tollcross, since 3am on Friday. Picture: Police Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "James Spence, 47, had been missing from his home in Easterhill Road, Tollcross, since 3am on Friday. Picture: Police Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314473.1481395822!/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/edinburgh-man-in-serious-condition-after-being-stabbed-1-4314410","id":"1.4314410","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh man in ‘serious condition’ after being stabbed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481393037000 ,"articleLead": "

A man is in serious condition in hospital after he was stabbed in an altercation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314409.1481392958!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened on North Bridge near its junction with the High Street. Picture: Google"} ,"articleBody": "

The 36-year-old was injured in the incident with another man on North Bridge near its junction with the High Street in Edinburgh at around 4am on Saturday.

The victim suffered a stab wound to his torso and reached the Balmoral Hotel a couple of streets away before the alarm was raised.

Paramedics were called to the scene and the injured man was transferred by ambulance to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh where he remains in a serious condition.

The suspect was last seen making off in the direction of Princes Street.

Police are appealing for information about the incident.

Detective Inspector Grant Johnston of Gayfield CID said: “From our early inquiries it appears that the attack happened on the North Bridge, near its junction with the High Street.

“The victim has then managed to make it as far as the Balmoral Hotel before the alarm was raised with the emergency services.

“We’re treating this attack as an attempted murder and are pursuing every line of inquiry.

“Today, I urge anyone who may have witnessed this incident or who recognises the description of the male suspect, to please contact police immediately.”

The suspect is described as black, in his 40s or 50s, and around 6ft 5ins tall.

He is of large build with short greying black hair and spoke with an African accent. He is believed to have been wearing shirt and jeans.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314409.1481392958!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314409.1481392958!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The incident happened on North Bridge near its junction with the High Street. Picture: Google","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened on North Bridge near its junction with the High Street. Picture: Google","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314409.1481392958!/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/russia-accepts-olympic-committee-plan-to-retest-athletes-1-4314233","id":"1.4314233","articleHeadline": "Russia accepts Olympic Committee plan to retest athletes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481381227000 ,"articleLead": "

Russia says it will accept an International Olympic Committee plan to retest all drug test samples given by Russian athletes at the 2012 and 2014 Olympics.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314232.1481381136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, Russia. Picture; AP"} ,"articleBody": "

The IOC’s declaration Friday followed the publication of a report by World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren. This said that more than 1,000 Russian athletes, including medal winners at the London and Sochi games, had benefited from a state-backed campaign of doping and drug test cover-ups.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko, who was sports minister at the time of the 2012 and 2014 Olympics, tells Russian state agency R-Sport that “the IOC has now decided to retest all the samples; let them retest.”

Mutko also suggests he does not expect Russia to be barred from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314232.1481381136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314232.1481381136!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, Russia. Picture; AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, Russia. Picture; AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314232.1481381136!/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/police-appeal-to-trace-missing-ex-soldier-1-4314207","id":"1.4314207","articleHeadline": "Police appeal to trace missing ex-soldier","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481378102000 ,"articleLead": "

Police Scotland is appealing for information to help trace a man who is missing from the Tollcross area of Glasgow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314206.1481378022!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

James Spence who sometimes uses the surnames Russell and Stables, has been missing from his home at Easterhill Road, Tollcross, since 0300 hrs on Friday 9 December 2016 when he left the house in his blue coloured Vauxhall Tigra car.

The 47-year-old is described as 6ft, heavy build with short fair hair and blue eyes. When last seen he was wearing a red ADIDAS t-shirt with grey writing on it, blue jeans, black three quarter length coat with fur around the hood and black boots.

Mr Spence is an ex Scots Guard and suffers from various health conditions including PTSD and depression. It is not known if he has any medication with him.

Inspector Andy Fairie at Shettleston Police Office said:

“Mr Spence’s empty car was discovered in Yorkhill Street, Glasgow a few hours after he left his house.

“It is vital that we speak to anyone who may have seen Mr Spence leaving his car in Glasgow City Centre yesterday morning or anyone who knows of his present whereabouts.

“I also appeal to Mr Spence directly to contact either police or a family member to let us know that you are safe.”

Anyone with information should contact Shettleston Police via 101.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314206.1481378022!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314206.1481378022!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314206.1481378022!/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/prince-of-wales-and-duchess-reveal-christmas-card-1-4314194","id":"1.4314194","articleHeadline": "Prince of Wales and Duchess reveal Christmas card","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481375182000 ,"articleLead": "

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall are joined by a merry band of Croatian dancers for the couple’s 2016 Christmas greetings card.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314193.1481375102!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall's 2016 Christmas card on a Christmas tree in Clarence House, London. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Charles and Camilla are surrounded by members of the HKUD Osijek 1862 group during the royal couple’s tour of Croatia and the western Balkans in March.

The group, members of the Croatian Cultural Artistic Society, are wearing traditional national costumes and entertained the duo with a local dance.

The image, by Getty photographer Chris Jackson, is surrounded by a thin red border and features on the inside of the card accompanied by the message: “Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year.”

The front of the card is adorned with the Prince of Wales’s feathers and the Duchess’s cipher. It will be sent as usual to organisations and individuals associated with the royal couple.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4314193.1481375102!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4314193.1481375102!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall's 2016 Christmas card on a Christmas tree in Clarence House, London. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall's 2016 Christmas card on a Christmas tree in Clarence House, London. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4314193.1481375102!/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/glasgow-bin-lorry-crash-driver-will-not-face-private-prosecution-1-4312919","id":"1.4312919","articleHeadline": "Glasgow bin lorry crash driver will not face private prosecution","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481318600000 ,"articleLead": "

GLASGOW bin lorry crash driver Harry Clarke will not face a private prosecution over the tragedy which claimed six lives, appeal judges ruled yesterday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312918.1481281987!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Robert Perry"} ,"articleBody": "

In a rare legal move, relatives of three crash victims sought permission from senior judges to bring charges against the 59-year-old.

It followed a controversial Crown Office decision not to prosecute Mr Clarke, who had blacked out behind the wheel on the day of the fatal crash almost two years ago.

Three judges at the Appeal Court in Edinburgh ruled the families could not launch a private prosecution against Mr Clarke. The court also rejected a similar plea for a private prosecution of motorist William Payne, lodged by the families of students Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart, who were knocked down and killed in Glasgow in 2010.

The students’ relatives voiced disappointment and said they had been “locked in a most brutal horror story” since the crash.

The lorry driven by Mr Clarke went out of control in Queen Street on a busy Christmas shopping day on 22 December 2014.

Relatives of crash victims Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, 68 and 69, and their granddaughter Erin McQuade, 18, brought the prosecution attempt to court.

Stephenie Tait, 29, Jacqueline Morton, 51, and Gillian Ewing, 52, also died in the incident.

A fatal accident inquiry (FAI) heard Mr Clarke had a history of health issues but had not disclosed his medical background to his employers or the DVLA.

A sheriff found Mr Clarke “repeatedly lied in order to gain and retain jobs and licences”.

The Crown Office insisted there was insufficient evidence to raise criminal proceedings against Mr Clarke but the families of the victims disagreed and sought permission to prosecute him on charges of dangerous driving and causing death by dangerous driving.

Scotland’s second-highest judge Lady Dorrian, who heard the Bills for Criminal Letters with two other judges, ruled in both cases: “We do not consider that the Crown made an error of law.”

She added: “It is quite difficult to conceive of circumstances in which the court would pass a bill where the Lord Advocate had examined and investigated the circumstances of the case, and concluded as a matter of informed judgment that the whole tenor and weight of the evidence did not justify prosecution.”

Judges did not consider that the state of knowledge of either motorist “can reasonably be elevated to the degree necessary to be capable of establishing beyond reasonable doubt that on the day in question they drove in the face of an obvious and material danger,” she said.

The families of Ms Convy and Ms Stewart expressed their disappointment over the ruling outside court.

Cate Cairney, Laura’s aunt, said: “Since 17 December when Laura and Mhairi were brutally mown down by William Payne, we’ve all found ourselves locked in a most brutal horror story.

“As families who had to identify their daughters, seeing them as no people ever should, we trusted the process and we trusted the law, and this law has fatally let our girls down.”

Mhairi’s father Alan Convy said: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service from the very start nearly six years ago have done everything in their power to protect an early incorrect decision of non-prosecution, to protect the process, to protect their own self-importance and, in doing so, rather than admit they got it wrong, protected William Payne and allowed their non-prosecution of him to give a huge green light to other drivers out there who have black-outs to get on the road and to kill people and walk away.

“We firmly believe that this includes people like Harry Clarke. How many more innocent daughters, parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews have to die before the Crown do the right thing and send out the right message to the public?

“If this ruling is the law, then the law is wrong in our eyes. It needs changed.”

The Crown said it acknowledged the distress caused to the relatives by the decision not to prosecute the drivers.

A spokesman said: “The Crown has an obligation to take decisions of this nature professionally and dispassionately, on the basis of the evidence. After carefully considering all the relevant evidence, Crown Counsel concluded there was insufficient evidence in law to raise criminal proceedings. We note that the court does not consider that the Crown erred in its assessment of these cases.”

Ms Convy, 18, and Ms Stewart, 20, were walking in Glasgow’s North Hanover Street on 17 December 2010 when a Range Rover apparently lost control, mounted the kerb and hit them.

An FAI found the crash happened after Mr Payne suffered a “vasovagal episode” and temporarily lost consciousness.

He was initially accused of causing the deaths of the students but the charges against him were later dropped.

READ MORE: Glasgow bin lorry: Trauma at seeing Edinburgh mum die

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "HILARY DUNCANSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4312918.1481281987!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4312918.1481281987!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Robert Perry","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Robert Perry","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4312918.1481281987!/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/brave-airdrieonians-fan-honoured-on-strip-after-cancer-battle-1-4313962","id":"1.4313962","articleHeadline": "Brave Airdrieonians fan honoured on strip after cancer battle","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481315613000 ,"articleLead": "

A SCOTTISH football team have announced that their new home strip will feature the face of one of their longest serving fans after he sadly lost his battle with cancer.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313961.1481315535!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The club's home strip will feature Mark Allison's face and signature. Picture: Airdrieonians Twitter"} ,"articleBody": "

Well-known Airdrieonians fan Mark Allison was diagnosed with the disease in 2014 and told he only had three months to live. The Airdrie man battled on fighting the cancer until his death earlier this year.

The brave football fan raised almost £70,000 for a number of charities through his F**k Cancer campaign.

The League One team announced that Mr Allison’s face and signature would appear on their home shirt until the end of the season, a decision that the club said had met with the overwhelming approval of fellow fans.

Mark’s sister Julie Timmons, told STV: “I think it’s amazing - Mark would be ecstatic, a dream come true.

“Incredible but truly deserved, in my humble opinion. I just wish he was here to see it.”

The new strip will go on sale on Saturday before their clash with Stenhousemuir.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313961.1481315535!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313961.1481315535!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The club's home strip will feature Mark Allison's face and signature. Picture: Airdrieonians Twitter","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The club's home strip will feature Mark Allison's face and signature. Picture: Airdrieonians Twitter","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313961.1481315535!/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/three-highland-golf-courses-named-in-top-35-places-to-play-1-4313716","id":"1.4313716","articleHeadline": "Three Highland golf courses named in top 35 places to play","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481312333000 ,"articleLead": "

THREE of the Highlands’ most prestigious golf courses have been named in the top 35 best places to play in Great Britain and Ireland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313713.1481312181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal Dornoch Golf Course. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Castle Stuart Golf Links and the Nairn Golf Club have all moved up the rankings in the latest list of 100 leading GB&I courses compiled by Golf Monthly magazine for 2017/18.

Royal Dornoch’s Championship Course is placed 7th (up one place on last year); Castle Stuart 21st - up two places - and Nairn 33rd - up one place.

The three courses - along with leading hotels the Kingsmills and Culloden House, in Inverness, and the Royal Golf in Dornoch – make up the partner organisation Highland Golf Links (HGL) which promotes destination breaks in the area.

READ MORE: Snowsports season is upon us - where can you go for fun?

Fraser Cromarty, chairman of HGL and CEO at The Nairn Golf Club, said: “Having three HGL courses inside the top 35 of the GB&I list is fantastic news for the Highlands.

“The fact that these courses are moving up the rankings is also very encouraging.

“It reflects investment that has been made to improve our offering, as well as a growing awareness of the outstanding link courses we have here and that the Highlands is a wonderful golfing destination.

“All three links courses can be played over the course of a weekend and, with our partnership with the leading hotels in the area, golfing breaks in this part of the world are easy to manage and very rewarding.”

This year Royal Dornoch hosted the Tartan Tour’s Northern Open and the biggest gathering of ‘royal’ clubs ever organised as part of the celebrations to mark 400 years of golf being played in the town.

Golf Monthly said the Championship Course “is as natural a links as you will find anywhere” and added: “The course at Royal Dornoch is simply meant to be. There’s no layout on earth that has a more natural feel than this incredible northern links.

“Royal Dornoch delivers a selection of highly individual and unadulterated golf holes flowing across the most exquisite playing surfaces. This is golf in its purest form.

“If a trip to any course constitutes a pilgrimage, Dornoch is that place.”

READ MORE: Scottish links golf experience with ultimate golf service

Castle Stuart hosted the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open this summer, the fourth time in six years it has staged the European Tour event.

Golf Monthly said: “Castle Stuart is a visual feast both internally and externally over the Moray Firth to the Black Isle.

“It’s an extremely versatile course and it is no surprise that it’s already hosted four Scottish Opens. The course is set over a fabulous stretch of coastline with a number of the most striking holes played right along the water’s edge.

“Castle Stuart’s eye-catching, art deco-inspired clubhouse offers panoramic views of the course and surrounding countryside from all three floors.

“A hugely impressive modern classic that can be played by all.”

Nairn, which has previously held both the Walker Cup and Curtis Cup, was the setting for the Fairstone Men’s Home Internationals this year.

Golf Monthly said: “Gorse lined, criss-crossed by burns and pockmarked by pot bunkers, Nairn delivers typical Scottish links golf.

“It’s an out-and-back layout with the sea visible on every hole. A stunning links with beautiful views to the Black Isle over the Moray Firth. A testing but fair track.”

This year saw the highest number of golfing visitors take advantage of Play and Stay packages offered by Highland Golf Links to boost business during the ‘shoulder’ months of April, October and November.

Royal Dornoch, Castle Stuart and Nairn all feature in the prestigious HGL 54-hole Pro-Am, sponsored by Blue Group, which this year attracted a capacity field.

All three courses are also part of the Paul Lawrie Foundation’s Winter Series of events for young players in the Highlands.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALISTAIR MUNRO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313713.1481312181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313713.1481312181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Royal Dornoch Golf Course. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Royal Dornoch Golf Course. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313713.1481312181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313714.1481312185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313714.1481312185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nairn Golf Club. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nairn Golf Club. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313714.1481312185!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313715.1481312187!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313715.1481312187!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Castle Stuart Golf Course. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Castle Stuart Golf Course. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313715.1481312187!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/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/three-workmen-injured-after-wall-collapses-in-glasgow-s-west-end-1-4313883","id":"1.4313883","articleHeadline": "Three workmen injured after wall collapses in Glasgow’s west end","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481308269000 ,"articleLead": "

Three workmen have been injured by a wall that collapsed in the west end of Glasgow.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313882.1481308193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Emergency services were called to Vinicombe Street. Picture: Google"} ,"articleBody": "

Emergency services were called to Vinicombe Street, off Byres Road, at about 2pm on Friday.

Police Scotland said there were serious but “not life-threatening injuries”.

Two men were taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in the city and another was treated at the scene.

Building inspectors and the Health and Safety Executive have been informed, a force spokeswoman said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313882.1481308193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313882.1481308193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Emergency services were called to Vinicombe Street. Picture: Google","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Emergency services were called to Vinicombe Street. Picture: Google","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313882.1481308193!/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/virgin-increases-weekend-edinburgh-to-newcastle-trains-1-4313454","id":"1.4313454","articleHeadline": "Virgin increases weekend Edinburgh to Newcastle trains","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481300525000 ,"articleLead": "

Virgin Trains is increasing weekend services connecting Edinburgh and Newcastle following an increase in passengers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313766.1481300449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Chris Watt"} ,"articleBody": "

Six new departures between the cities will be added from this weekend to the east coast timetable.

They include later services from Edinburgh on Friday and Saturday evenings, leaving at 10.01pm and 8pm, and three new trains connecting the UK and Scottish capitals on Sundays.

The additional services will provide more capacity than ever as passengers plan festive breaks, shopping trips and visits to relatives in the run-up to Christmas and Hogmanay.

It follows news that 5000 more Virgin Trains passengers are crossing the border every week after a timetable shake up in May which delivered 42 additional services between Edinburgh, Newcastle and London.

READ MORE: Virgin Trains recruiting £57,000 drivers for east coast line

An additional 26 departures per week have been introduced at Morpeth, in Northumberland, with the later Edinburgh departures also calling at Dunbar, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Alnmouth.

The new timetable takes effect from December 11 and will add 22 new services, 12,000 additional seats per week and dozens of extra stops to the network. It comes as Virgin Trains nears completion of a total overhaul of its entire train fleet.

The news was welcomed by Scotland’s Transport Minister Humza Yousaf, who said: “This increased connectivity between Scotland and the North East of England is to be welcomed as the East Coast main line is a key transport corridor supporting economic growth between and within the regions. Demand for rail travel, including the leisure market, continues to grow - this increased service provision, particularly enhanced weekend and later evening services, will offer opportunities for passengers and businesses alike.”

The development comes ahead of the introduction of the state-of-the-art fleet of Azuma trains in 2018, which will transform journeys on the east coast route. New services to Stirling and Sunderland were launched in 2015 after Virgin Trains took over the east coast route.

Virgin Trains is investing £140m into its east coast route as part of its commitment to the eight year franchise. It has already invested £20m in refurbished carriages and provided a Netflix-style steaming service as part of its customer service improvements.

David Horne, Virgin Trains’ managing director on the east coast route, said: “More people are choosing to travel with us than ever before and have given us great feedback about the customer service improvements we’ve made. We know that there’s particularly strong demand at weekends so we’re delighted to be able to provide more services than ever for people travelling between Scotland and England.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313766.1481300449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313766.1481300449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Chris Watt","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Chris Watt","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313766.1481300449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/brexit-and-trump-will-lead-to-politics-correction-cameron-1-4313172","id":"1.4313172","articleHeadline": "Brexit and Trump will lead to politics “correction” - Cameron","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481298967000 ,"articleLead": "

The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump in the US must result in a “course correction” for Western politics, David Cameron said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313171.1481298890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Cameron. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The former prime minister said the vote to leave the European Union, which prompted his decision to quit Number 10, was part of a “movement of unhappiness” about the state of the world.

Speaking to students at Depauw University in Indiana, he said leaders across the West must take steps to help those who felt left behind by globalisation.

Answering questions following a speech on the events of 2016, Mr Cameron said: “So far these three events - the Brexit referendum, the election of President Trump, the referendum in Italy - I’m sure people are going to write about this movement of unhappiness and concern about the state of the world.

“I think you could see that in the British vote ... was a mixture of economics and cultural arguments, I think your situation (in the US) was quite similar, I think in Italy it’s more connected with the euro.

READ MORE: David Cameron ‘didn’t care’ about independence, claims ex-MP

“But ultimately, how 2016 goes down in history will depend on what political leaders do next. That’s why I have tried to make a very clear argument which is that if they put their heads in the sand and say, ‘well this will pass and we just carry on the way we are’, then 2016 will be seen as a real watershed.

“But if, as I believe will happen, that our democracies are flexible enough and our leaders are aware enough, they will correct - course correct as I put it - the problems that they face.

“So you will see a greater emphasis on trying to help those who are left behind.”

He highlighted policies including a higher minimum wage and tax cuts for low-income workers as measures aimed at helping address those concerns.

“I think if that response is right, 2016 will be seen as a moment of course correction rather than a moment of fundamental change. But if leaders don’t take that approach - perhaps particularly in Europe - then it could go down as something quite different.”

The former premier said “populism” cost him his job but defended his decision to call the referendum which ultimately ended his political career, saying the issue of Europe had “poisoned” British politics for 40 years.

In a signal that further turmoil could be about to hit Europe, the Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Cameron warned that the euro was on the brink of collapse.

“I see more trouble ahead,” he said. “It is not working as it was intended. Some countries have seen decades of lost growth. Those countries have a single currency but they don’t have a single fiscal system, a fiscal tax system. It creates bigger differences.

“You in the United States have ways to make sure that if you have a bad year you pay less in taxes and offset federal programmes. There are no such arrangements in Europe.”

Mr Cameron’s speaking engagement came as it emerged his former chancellor has earned more than £500,000 from lectures and appearances since being sacked by Theresa May.

The latest update of George Osborne’s entry in Parliament’s register of MPs’ interests shows he expects £85,396.24 from Citi for two speeches, £34,109.14 from BlackRock Financial and £68,125.35 from Centerbridge Partners.

In November he registered earnings of more than £320,000 since leaving Number 11.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313171.1481298890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313171.1481298890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Cameron. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Cameron. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313171.1481298890!/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/land-rover-driven-into-glasgow-man-s-car-in-targeted-attack-1-4313684","id":"1.4313684","articleHeadline": "Land Rover driven into Glasgow man’s car in ‘targeted attack’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481296464000 ,"articleLead": "

A MAN was chased and assaulted after a Land Rover was driven into his car in what police say was a “deliberate, targeted attack”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313683.1481296387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened on Briarcroft Road in the Robroyston area of the city. Picture: Google"} ,"articleBody": "

The 26-year-old was in his black Volkswagen Golf car on Briarcroft Road in the Robroyston area of Glasgow when a silver Land Rover vehicle was deliberately driven into it on Thursday evening.

He got out of the Golf and was chased along Briarcroft Road by two men from the Land Rover who then assaulted him.

The injured 26-year-old was taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary for treatment and later released.

The Land Rover was found burnt-out in Robroyston Road near to Rushyhill Farm a short time later.

Police have appealed for information about the incident which happened at around 10.55pm.

Detective sergeant Cheryl Kelly, at Shettleston CID, said: “This would appear to be a deliberate, targeted attack and as such we are currently trying to establish the exact circumstances of the incident.

“I’d like to speak to anyone who may have witnessed this incident or anyone who may have seen the Land Rover vehicle in the area around 10.55pm last night or being set alight shortly afterwards.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313683.1481296387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313683.1481296387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The incident happened on Briarcroft Road in the Robroyston area of the city. Picture: Google","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The incident happened on Briarcroft Road in the Robroyston area of the city. Picture: Google","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313683.1481296387!/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/snowsports-season-is-upon-us-where-can-you-go-for-fun-1-4313054","id":"1.4313054","articleHeadline": "Snowsports season is upon us - where can you go for fun?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1481279386000 ,"articleLead": "

SNOW has at last been falling on Scotland’s mountains - so why travel abroad when there are top ski resorts right at your door.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313050.1481279301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Snowsports fans set to flocks Scottish slopes. Picture: Ski Scotland"} ,"articleBody": "

Bosses at Ski Scotland is not only encouraging lifelong snowsport fans to stay at home - offering a season ticket which gives access to every ski lift and tow in the country - but are aiming to attract new blood to the slopes.

Scotland’s five mountain ski areas are CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore, Glencoe Mountain Resort, between Tyndrum and Ballachulish, Glenshee Ski Centre, between Blairgowrie and Braemar, Nevis Range, near Fort William, and The Lecht Ski Centre, between Strathdon and Tomintoul.

Using the most recent data and based on the average of the last six seasons, the value to the Scottish economy of snowsports is £26million per year.

With Christmas looming and the first tracks of the season having been made at The Lecht and CairnGorm Mountain, Ski-Scotland has the ideal Christmas gift for the skier or snowboarder.

READ MORE: Scottish Ski-ing better than Alp, Pyrenees

An All-area Season Ticket gives access to every ski lift and tow in Scotland all season long.

Heather Negus, chair of Ski-Scotland, said: “We are looking forward to a successful snowsports season for Scotland in the winter of 2016-17.

“Our marketing effort, funded from the income from the All-area Season Tickets, aims to both grow the market and extend the season.

“We’re working closely with the Scottish snowsports industry to encourage schools across Scotland to get children skiing and snowboarding and to experience a day at one of the five mountain ski areas.”

Andy Meldrum, owner of Glencoe Mountain Resort and chair of the Association of Scottish Ski Areas, added: “All of Scotland’s mountain snowsports resorts have made significant investment in new infrastructure with assistance from the Scottish Government through the Enterprise network.

“We have new chairlifts, new and refurbished tows, new piste groomers and much better provision for young children to learn to ski and just have fun in the snow.

“More of these developments are planned for future winters. Customers returning to the Scottish slopes after an absence of a few years are surprised by the new facilities.

“Why go to Europe when you can stay at home and ski or snowboard at a fraction of the price with no need to worry about airport security, passports and foreign languages?”

Heather Negus said: “There are still All-area Season Tickets available to buy, but we expect them to be snapped up quickly.

“These tickets not only allow our skiers and snowboarders to follow the best snow and weather conditions, but are also the ultimate in queue jumping as no queuing is needed at any ticket office before hitting the slopes.”

The ticket gives access to 143 pistes as well as off-piste and backcountry itineraires across all five mountain snowsport resorts.

These are served by 67 lifts including CairnGorm’s funicular, Nevis Range’s gondola, the Lecht’s ‘Magic carpets’ as well as chairlifts, button lifts and T-bars.

In addition, All-area Season Ticket holders benefit from a free two-hour slope-time session and lift pass discounts at Snow Factor, Scotland’s indoor real snow centre and also, following a landmark agreement in September, free access to two days’ skiing or boarding at each of Iceland’s 11 snowsport areas.

Tickets are still available to purchase, price £535 adult and £300 child between five and seventeen years of age at 1 December 2016.

Heather’s advice is: “Hit the website as soon as possible to be assured of getting one of these last-minute tickets. They’re disappearing like snow off a dyke.”

READ MORE: Find out more about a season ticket

The season usually runs from December through to early April, but this varies depending on snowfall. Snow conditions are very changeable, but are generally best from January to April,

In the excellent season of 2009/10 it was worth much more, £37.5million.

For each £1 spent at a snowsports area, it is estimated, again using most recent data, that a further £4 is spent by skiers and snowboarders “off the hill” in local accommodation, places to eat and drink, shops, and filling stations.

The statistic show that 2014-15 there were 231,233 skier days, worth £23.2m. The year before it was 235,303 days, worth half a million pounds more. In 2012-13, the skier days were 231,233 valued at £23.2m. The previous year was the worst in recent history, with only 118,592 people on the slopes, bringing £12m to the economy. In 20-11 it was 289,995 skier days worth £29m.

Although snow is never guaranteed, all the Scottish ski areas now have snowmaking facilities, and some also have dry slopes. There’s also a vast range of other activities to choose from locally, if the hill is stormbound or snow conditions are poor.

The ski reports are updated by each ski centre during the season. They are updated early morning, late afternoon, and more often as required. The live webcams show real time conditions.

Within the UK it is easy to reach the Scottish snowsports resorts for a day or short break, even at the last minute.

Ski-ing and snowboarding in Scotland is value for money - you don’t need a passport, costly travel insurance or foreign currency - unless you’re visiting Scotland from overseas.

Ski-Scotland is the marketing partnership which has promoted snowsports in Scotland collaboratively for around 30 years.

It comprises the five mountain ski areas - CairnGorm Mountain, Glencoe Mountain, Glenshee, The Lecht and Nevis Range - the sport’s governing body Snowsport Scotland, indoor real-snow centre Snow Factor in Glasgow and VisitScotland, the country’s tourism agency.

Ski-Scotland is now funded entirely by the income generated from the All-area Season Tickets, now in their eighth winter season.

Find out more about all the ski resorts here: http://www.skiscotland.com/

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALISTAIR MUNRO"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313050.1481279301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313050.1481279301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Snowsports fans set to flocks Scottish slopes. Picture: Ski Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Snowsports fans set to flocks Scottish slopes. Picture: Ski Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313050.1481279301!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313051.1481279307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313051.1481279307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cairngorm Mountain ski resort. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cairngorm Mountain ski resort. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313051.1481279307!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4313053.1481279309!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4313053.1481279309!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Skiers on the slopes at Glenshee. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Skiers on the slopes at Glenshee. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4313053.1481279309!/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/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":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}