{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/brexit-one-year-on-how-has-referendum-result-affected-scotland-1-4484852","id":"1.4484852","articleHeadline": "Brexit one year on: how has referendum result affected Scotland?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498226004000 ,"articleLead": "

We are now a year removed from the landmark and shock decision by UK voters to leave the European Union.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4484851.1498226006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

That decision has almost unerringly dominated the political landscape since the moment the result became clear.

David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, to be replaced by Theresa May, Boris Johnson was made Foreign Secretary, and George Osborne was shuffled off to the backbenches, and latterly, a job at a newspaper.

And that is just the changes at the top of one party.

Jeremy Corbyn saw off a leadership challenge, UKIP ran through a seemingly countless run of leaders, and even the SNP saw a change of Deputy.

That’s before even getting in to the small matter of a General Election gamble by Theresa May that spectacularly backfired, and the announcement of plans for a second referendum on independence called by Nicola Sturgeon.

Here are just some of the ways that Scotland has been affected by last year’s result, on its anniversary.

“Dragged out against our will”

The Holyrood elections of 2016, which took place around 6 weeks before the Brexit vote, saw the SNP lose their overall majority.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party, having to walk something of a constitutional tightrope, were keen to avoid putting another Independence referendum front and centre of their campaign.

READ MORE: Theresa May makes offer to EU nationals

And so their manifesto made mention of merely the possibility of another plebiscite, should there be a ‘material change’ in Scotland’s constitutional circumstances.

One of the examples given as being that material change was Scotland being ‘dragged out of the EU’.

That meant that if Scotland voted to stay, but the UK as a whole voted to leave, another referendum would find itself on the table very quickly.

As fate would have it, that’s exactly what did come to pass, with 62 per cent of Scots voting to Remain in the EU, while 38 per cent backed the Leave campaign.

Inevitable Indyref2?

Nicola Sturgeon, allegedly with her arm twisted by senior party figures, announced in March that she would be pursuing a second referendum by the end of the Brexit process.

That was mooted to be in either the Spring of 2019, or the Autumn of 2018, depending on how Theresa May’s negotiations went.

Pushback from the Conservative Government was almost immediate, with the Prime Minister’s refrain of ‘now is not the time’ being used constantly. Again Brexit was the reason mooted, with the Tories claiming that it was unfair to have a second referendum on independence based on Brexit before the impact (positive or otherwise) of that new set-up was determined.

READ MORE: Majority of Scots want second EU referendum

Scotland’s parliament voted to authorise the First Minister to seek permission for her plebiscite, but political reality meant that any decision still ultimately rested with the Prime Minister.

Their official rejection of that plea was fronted by Ruth Davidson, a staunch Remainer who now appeared to be singing from the same Brexit hymn sheet as her party’s leader, who had undergone a similar Damascene conversion.

Shock election, shock results

Mrs Sturgeon’s Spring surprise was trumped by Theresa May’s, when the Prime Minister announced her plans for a snap General Election.

The Brexit deal was front and centre of Mrs May’s “strong and stable” offer to the British people, and by consequence the touted independence referendum was front and centre of the campaign in Scotland.

All three of the main unionist parties put opposing Ms Sturgeon’s plans at the heart of their pitch to voters, and all three parties gained seats from the SNP.

Once again, Brexit overtook events as even MPs with large majorities who might have expected to be in office for a number of terms found themselves collecting P45s from the electorate.

Now, Theresa May, stripped of a parliamentary majority, has to take what remains of her authority and negotiate with the remaining EU leaders.

Nicola Sturgeon is facing what is, by the SNP’s standards, an uncharacteristic amount of internal bickering on the way forward for the independence movement.

All the while, an economic cloud hangs over Scotland, and the UK, as dire warnings about the impact of Brexit on individual industries continue to circulate.

Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, has irrevocably changed, in just one year. That change will only accelerate as Brexit is realised.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4484851.1498226006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4484851.1498226006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4484851.1498226006!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/poll-majority-of-scots-want-second-eu-referendum-1-4484561","id":"1.4484561","articleHeadline": "Poll: Majority of Scots want second EU referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498215292000 ,"articleLead": "

A new poll has revealed that 61 per cent of voters want a second referendum on Brexit once the terms of a deal with the remaining EU countries have been agreed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4484576.1498215292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scotpulse survey for STV found that 59 per cent of those polled think that Brexit will be bad for Scotland.

24 per cent think that leaving the European Union, which is expected to be officially concluded within the next two years, will be a good thing.

It comes as both sides of the campaign reflect on the one year anniversary of the vote by 52 per cent of voters in the UK to back leaving the EU.

READ MORE: Theresa May offers EU nationals right to stay after Brexit

Scotland, one of two constituent countries in the UK to go against the national result, voted Remain by a margin of 62 to 38 per cent.

10 per cent of Leave voters in Scotland would change their vote if there was another EU referendum, while just 3 per cent of Remain voters would switch sides, the poll found.

Holding another referendum on the final terms of Brexit wasn’t backed by any of the three largest parties in Westminster at the General Election held earlier this month.

READ MORE: Chancellor tries to ease Brexit concerns

The Liberal Democrats under outgoing leader Tim Farron, had pledged to offer voters a ‘final say’ on the deal, but there was external (and internal) criticism of that position.

STV’s poll also found that there was no a majority for the Scottish Government’s preferred outcome on another referendum on independence due to Brexit.

17 per cent of those surveyed agreed with Nicola Sturgeon that there should be a referendum on independence after Brexit.

A further 13 per cent backed another vote on the constitution in Scotland, but they wanted it held before Brexit, bringing the total in favour to 30 per cent.

In contrast, 48 per cent of those polled believe that there shouldn’t be another referendum at all, while 22 per cent say it depends on what happens with Brexit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4484576.1498215292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4484576.1498215292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4484576.1498215292!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/joyce-mcmillan-after-abusing-the-memory-of-britain-s-finest-hours-theresa-may-must-go-1-4484024","id":"1.4484024","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: After abusing the memory of Britain’s finest hours, Theresa May must go","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498194060000 ,"articleLead": "

The Prime Minister’s obscene invoking of the Dunkirk spirit during a crisis that was entirely her own party’s making is the last straw for Joyce McMillan

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4484023.1498162309!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "It is time for Theresa May to step up and take full responsibility for her partys recent record says Joyce McMillan"} ,"articleBody": "

On Wednesday - with a slightly reduced level of pomp and circumstance, for reasons which remain obscure - the Queen played her usual role in the opening of Parliament, after the UK’s unnecessary snap election. The main point of discussion on the day was whether the Queen actually meant to signal dissent from her government’s central policy, by appearing dressed in the colours of the EU flag; but in truth, the Queen’s outfit was not the only strange thing about this very strange moment in British politics. The Queen’s Speech itself was a historical oddity, a brief but seismic document promising not only the Great Repeal Bill detaching the UK from the EU, but a raft of other bills setting out new provisions in a range of EU-related areas, from agriculture and fisheries to immigration.

And even more curious, in every way, was the Prime Minister’s statement to the Commons on the Queen’s Speech, much of which was full of unimpeachable sentiments about making post-Brexit Britain into a kinder, fairer and more prosperous society; like many “nice Tories”, in other words, Theresa May seems incapable of grasping that for the last forty years, the neoliberal ideology embraced by her party has been driving our society in precisely the opposite direction. And if her lack of basic insight on that point is not reassuring, then it is even harder to know what to make of the final paragraph of her speech, in which, in sub-Churchillian tones, she invoked the idea of the British as a uniquely great and resilient people, capable of surviving the shocks and challenges we currently face, as we have survived great crises in the past.

And it was at this point - with the Prime Minister’s voice reaching a maximum intensity of prayerful piety - that the word “obscene” came fully-formed and unbidden into my mind. Here was the UK’s Prime Minister - representative of a party which, entirely for its own purposes, has plunged Britain not only into the current Brexit crisis, and into the profound austerity crisis that is now inflicting unnecessary misery and danger on vulnerable people across the country, but also into the increased uncertainty caused by her own ill-judged general election gamble - actually daring to invoke the courage and stoicism shown in the face of past natural disasters and unavoidable wars, as an appropriate response to this entirely government-made moment of fear and confusion. The bad taste is shocking; and so is the lack of any grasp on current political reality.

Mrs May’s advisors will of course argue that she was talking mainly about the series of terror incidents that has taken place in Britain in recent weeks, as well as about the Grenfell Tower fire, and commending the public’s response to them. That, though, is an excuse for her words that will not wash. A series of four terror incidents, killing a total of 41 people over three months, is not enough to send a nation of 60 million into panic or depression, as the public response to those incidents more than demonstrates. The Grenfell Tower disaster was the result not of an external threat, but - so it seems - of poor building standards and excessive deregulation, applied to housing designed for the less well off; the appropriate response to this disaster is not stoicism and “resilience” - if that means keeping calm and carrying on as before - but anger, activism, and a determination to achieve real political change.

And as for the permanent state of crisis created for many British citizens and residents by the threat of Brexit, by a lost decade of austerity and declining incomes, and now by a general election that has left the future stability of UK government dependent on the DUP, and the Irish Peace Process under severe threat - well, one can only hope that Theresa May will live to regret the day when she dared to suggest that we respond to that unfolding set of Tory-made disasters with our usual obliging stoicism, instead of with the profound political contempt they so richly deserve.

She is not the only one to deploy this wholly inappropriate wartime language in relation to the Brexit process, of course. For the last half-decade and more, Westminster has borne witness to the antics of a group of dysfunctional middle-aged politicians, mainly male, who seem to feel a need to re-enact the Battle of Britain stories of their childhood on the bloodless field of constant, irrational EU-bashing; and it’s this peculiar retro-nationalist neurosis that now has large parts of the parliamentary Tory Party in its grip, while key elements of Britain’s public realm rot into disrepair, millions struggle with inadequate incomes, and climate change roars on largely unchallenged. The strength of the argument for Scottish independence in 2014 was that it was possible, in that moment, to connect the idea of an independent Scotland with the idea of a prosperous, just and sustainable future, based on the renewable energy sources in which Scotland is so rich; if a Tory UK could not deliver that future, many thought, then an independent Scotland just might.

The tragedy of Brexit, though, is that it seems to offer the exact reverse; a chance to stop the world, get off, scrap all those tiresome new-fangled ideas about sustainability and regulation, and pretend that it is still 1940. Heaven knows what demographic of UK citizens will be impressed or influenced by Theresa May’s pious words on Wednesday; perhaps mainly the Brexit-voting over-70s, who yearn for the return of the Dunkirk spirit on however flawed a pretext.

To many of us, though, her words sound like pure political cant, framed to shift blame from her own party’s recent record of calamitous misjudgments by abusing the memory of Britain’s genuine finest hours. Millions of British people currently need reserves of courage, stoicism and resilience, no question. But the cause lies, for the vast majority of them, in the cruelty and folly of our own government, over many years; and insofar as Theresa May recognises that distress, now would be an excellent moment for her to step up, take full responsibility for her party’s recent record, and resign.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JOYCE McMILLAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4484023.1498162309!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4484023.1498162309!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "It is time for Theresa May to step up and take full responsibility for her partys recent record says Joyce McMillan","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "It is time for Theresa May to step up and take full responsibility for her partys recent record says Joyce McMillan","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4484023.1498162309!/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/tail-docking-row-could-it-cost-nicola-sturgeon-votes-1-4484007","id":"1.4484007","articleHeadline": "Tail docking row: could it cost Nicola Sturgeon votes?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498160292000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP and the Tories don’t often see eye to eye, or so they would have you believe, but when the former party is in minority government they can be seen to rely on the latter.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4474840.1498160293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, pictured protesting outside of the Scottish Parliament in 2014, has long called for the SNP administration to reverse a ban on the docking of working dogs' tails. \\nPicture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

When Alex Salmond was First Minister between 2007 and 2011, he often needed to win round the Conservatives to pass important bills like his budgets.

Yesterday’s vote on ‘tail docking’ (shortening the tails of working dogs) might not have carried the weight of the bill that decides how money is spent, but it is still proving controversial.

The outright ban on the docking of dogs’ tails had been in place for a number of years, but 86 MSPs voted in favour of relaxing it.

The reaction from interested parties was immediate, with animal welfare groups expressing their sadness at the change.

Near-unanimity is almost guaranteed at Holyrood votes, but yesterday’s Decision Time showed some splits even within parties.

SNP MSP Christine Grahame spoke out against the move, and in an uncharacteristic show of disunity, nine members of the party abstained.

For and against

Spaniels and hunt point retrievers will now have their tails shortened as puppies, to avoid pain and possible amputation in later life, according to advocates for the controversial move.

Announcing the move last year, Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham said: “We have seen evidence that some working dogs are suffering tail injuries, so I have decided to allow vets to shorten the tails of spaniel and hunt point retriever puppies where they believe it will prevent future injuries amongst working dogs.”

READ MORE: Plans in place for tail-docking

The move was pushed for, and ultimately praised by, Scotland’s game-keeping leaders, with claims it would improve animal welfare.

However, the practice involves dogs that are less than a week old having a section of their tail removed without anaesthetic.

While the new practice will apparently be applied to less than 100 dogs in Scotland per year, the move has still proved controversial.

Charity One Kind called the decision by Holyrood tantamount to taking animal protection “a step back in time”.

The Dogs Trust said: “We are deeply saddened that the Scottish Government is reintroducing this outdated and unnecessary practice. Sadly today we’ve seen a significant step backwards for animal welfare from a country who once led the way.”

Potential impact

Perhaps most alarming for Nicola Sturgeon, especially if she intends to push forward with her plans for another referendum, is the reaction from some of her bedfellows in the independence movement.

The Scottish Greens, whose decision to stand in just three seats at the General Election may have saved the skins of some SNP MPs, hit out in the strongest possible terms at the move.

READ MORE: Environment Secretary defends move

Their Environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell said: “Callous SNP and Tory MSPs have endorsed this cruel and unnecessary practice.

“I’m sure many SNP supporters will be appalled by the actions of their MSPs.”

Popular pro-independence parody account “Angry Salmond”, which gained its author a newspaper column, expressed shock at the move.

Fellow pro-independence outlet Common Space posited whether the change in the rules was “Barking Mad”.

Writer and rapper Darren “Loki” McGarvey tweeted: “I’m hearing SNP are now briefing against a 6 month old golden retriever who has claimed it really did hurt when his tail was chopped off.”

Paul Kavanagh, who also has a column in The National called the decision of the SNP to vote with the Tories on tail docking “f******g stupid”.

While the move is unlikely to cause mass protests or demands for Ms Sturgeon’s resignation, there is no denying the potential for the change to hurt her.

“Soft” Green or potential Socialist voters are hugely important for the SNP to keep onside, even as they try to win back support in their traditional rural heartlands.

An under pressure First Minister is still learning, in the wake of her relatively poor election result, just how hard it is to truly govern for all parts of the country.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4474840.1498160293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4474840.1498160293!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, pictured protesting outside of the Scottish Parliament in 2014, has long called for the SNP administration to reverse a ban on the docking of working dogs' tails. \\nPicture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Gamekeepers Association, pictured protesting outside of the Scottish Parliament in 2014, has long called for the SNP administration to reverse a ban on the docking of working dogs' tails. \\nPicture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4474840.1498160293!/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/mundell-sturgeon-must-scrap-indyref2-to-remain-in-power-1-4483976","id":"1.4483976","articleHeadline": "Mundell: ‘Sturgeon must scrap indyref2 to remain in power’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498156465000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon must drop plans for a second Scottish independence referendum if she wants to remain First Minister, Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4483975.1498156466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell."} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP leader is expected to set out the next steps for her plan for another referendum next week, after reflecting on the proposals in light of a General Election in which her party lost 21 of its 56 seats.

Speaking at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh, Mr Mundell said: “I want the next step to be no step, that it’s finished, that it’s off the table, it’s gone.”

READ MORE: SNP want Brexit seat in return for ‘not disrupting UK plans’

Asked if he believes the SNP is likely to commit to such a move, he added: “If Nicola Sturgeon wants to carry on as First Minister of Scotland, she will.

“Otherwise people will conclude that the only way to stop independence being talked about is to remove her as First Minister in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.”

READ MORE: Conflict warning over farm plans in Queen’s Speech

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LAURA PATERSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4483975.1498156466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4483975.1498156466!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4483975.1498156466!/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/second-independence-vote-still-on-the-table-1-4482881","id":"1.4482881","articleHeadline": "Second independence vote ‘still on the table’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498110782000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s Brexit Minister has said that Scottish Government’s belief in independence ‘has not changed’

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4482880.1498110783!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mike Russell has confirmed that the Scottish Government's belief in independence has not changed."} ,"articleBody": "

Mike Russell stated that independence should remain on the table during Brexit discussions.

It is understood that Nicola Sturgeon is expected to reveal her revised strategy on a potential independence vote in the next few days, despite sustained pressure from political opponents.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to outline indyref2 plan before summer recess

Unionist parties have continually called for the threat of a second independence vote to be taken off the table following the General Election which saw the SNP lose several seats.

Speaking at event to mark the first anniversary of the Brexit vote Mike Russell said that he was even more convinced that Scotland should be an independent nation following revent events.

He said: “What hasn’t changed in the last 12 months is that the Scottish Government believes - and continues to believe - that the best future for Scotland would be as an independent nation within the European Union.”

He also stated that the Brexit vote, in which Scotland voted to remain, was not “the last word on democracy”

READ MORE: Tom Peterkin: Sturgeon faces fundamental difficulties on indyref2

The Brexit Minister also praised the Welsh Government over their Brexit and Devolution paper, which also called for devolved powers from Brussels to be handed to national governments.

A spokesman for the First Minister confirmed that a statement for plans on a second independence vote is “likely” before Holyrood breaks up for summer on June 29.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4482880.1498110783!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4482880.1498110783!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mike Russell has confirmed that the Scottish Government's belief in independence has not changed.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mike Russell has confirmed that the Scottish Government's belief in independence has not changed.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4482880.1498110783!/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/tom-peterkin-sturgeon-faces-fundamental-difficulties-on-indyref2-1-4482725","id":"1.4482725","articleHeadline": "Tom Peterkin: Sturgeon faces fundamental difficulties on indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498107600000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s unwillingness to tackle its own weaknesses has led to First Minister’s dilemma writes Tom Peterkin

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4482724.1498069671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon misjudged the Scottish electorate when pushing indyref2 before the general election."} ,"articleBody": "

Nicola Sturgeon’s spokesman has said it is “likely” she’ll disclose what she intends to do about a second independence referendum before Holyrood rises for the summer recess at the end of next week.

When that moment arrives at some point over the next few days, it promises to be a pivotal one for the First Minister.

As things stand it is difficult to see quite how Ms Sturgeon can extricate herself from the spot between a rock and a hard place where she finds herself having reacted to Brexit by putting indyref2 at the top of her agenda.

In the aftermath of a poor election for the SNP, Ms Sturgeon has acknowledged that talking up another vote cost her during a contest that saw her party lose 21 seats.

That setback saw her promise to reflect on the SNP’s position and it is the outcome of those reflections that the nation awaits now.

Given the ground lost by the SNP, there can be no doubt that being so gung-ho about another vote was a hugely damaging misjudgment. Indeed, it was hurting the SNP so badly that there were various attempts to back track during the election campaign. But by then it was too late.

The misjudgment had its roots in the way the SNP responded to the outcome of the 2014 independence referendum – despite losing, the Nationalist movement reacted as if it had won.

Despite the Yes support trailing No support by 383,937 votes, little or no effort has been made to understand why the SNP’s proposition was rejected at the polls.

Instead, Ms Sturgeon embarked on a series of rallies, where she posed for selfies with her Saltire-waving supporters and was lauded by those who were already converts to the independence cause.

That sense of triumph was exacerbated by the remarkable general election result of 2015 which saw the Yes vote coalesce behind the SNP and saw the Nationalists capture 56 out of 59 Scottish seats.

Meanwhile, those in SNP high command were too busy patting themselves on the back to turn their attention to working out why their independence proposition was unpalatable to the majority of Scottish voters.

Had Ms Sturgeon and co done this work, then perhaps she would have a little more insight into their opponents’ attitudes towards independence.

The First Minister’s mistake was to assume that a large proportion of the electorate would share her analysis that Brexit would ramp up demand for independence. Instead, she has discovered the hard way that her belief that a second independence referendum is the solution to Brexit is far from universally shared.

For a whole host of reasons, a large section of the Scottish electorate did not see the answer to a divisive and angry referendum on EU withdrawal as re-running a divisive and angry referendum on Scottish independence.

Had a post mortem examination been conducted into the 2014 result, it may have been discovered that large swathes of the electorate disagree with the SNP’s default position, which is to see everything in terms of the battle for independence. Having pursued a second indyvote with such alacrity, it will be interesting to see where Ms Sturgeon goes now.

The only route that will satisfy Ruth Davidson and her emboldened Scottish Conservatives is for Ms Sturgeon to ditch her plans altogether.

That, however, is clearly not an option for a party for whom support for independence is an article of faith. A U-turn of such screeching ferocity would alienate SNP supporters, would be personally humiliating and would hand a victory to the Tories.

Alternatively, Ms Sturgeon could stand firm and continue agitating for another referendum – sticking to her line that winning a Scottish majority at Westminster reinforced her indyref mandate. That approach has already proved unsuccessful.

Therefore when Ms Sturgeon gets round to revealing her thoughts on this tricky issue, one suspects her answer will be one in the long tradition of political fudges. Ms Sturgeon does have form when it comes to back-tracking. She has already conceded that her preferred timetable to hold a independence vote by spring 2019 could slip.

If past behaviour is any guide, she could seek solace in the EU withdrawal negotiations by softening the independence rhetoric and talking up the need to work for a soft Brexit. Over the coming months we can expect Ms Sturgeon to refer back to the Scottish Government’s “Scotland’s Place in Europe” document published at the end of last year which focussed on protecting Scotland’s relationship with the EU.

There may also be the opportunity to move the constitutional sabre-rattling away from indyref on to the repatriation of powers from Brussels. While the prospect of the Great Repeal Bill being subject to a legislative consent motion in the Scottish Parliament opens up a front in another constitutional battle.

Exploiting the Brexit negotiations while keeping indyref as an “option” – should Brexit foul up – is likely to be the approach.

Of course, failure to remove indyref from the table will mean Ms Sturgeon will still be vulnerable to Conservative accusations of being indy-obsessed. Meanwhile a more fundamental problem remains – her failure to convince the wider electorate of the attractions of Scottish independence.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4482724.1498069671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4482724.1498069671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon misjudged the Scottish electorate when pushing indyref2 before the general election.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon misjudged the Scottish electorate when pushing indyref2 before the general election.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4482724.1498069671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/theresa-may-at-least-we-may-have-saved-the-union-1-4482251","id":"1.4482251","articleHeadline": "Theresa May: ‘At least we may have saved the Union’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498053119000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May told a gathering of Tory donors that although their party had lost its majority, there was one upside - it may have saved the Union.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4475395.1498053915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May told Tory donors that although the party had lost its majority, 'at least it had saved the Union'. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister was addressing around 400 Conservative supporters at the Savoy Hotel in London yesterday as she seeks to shore up her position in the wake of a bruising general election campaign.

Mrs May hailed the Tories’ advances north of the border - where the party won 12 seats - and said that although “we may not have got an overall majority in Westminster” the Conservatives may “have saved the United Kingdom” by weakening the SNP’s case for independence.

The comments drew “dark laughter” from assembled guests, The Times reported.

But the SNP said what was clear from the election result was “Theresa May had no mandate whatsoever for her planned disastrous hard Brexit”.

The Prime Minister was the guest speaker at the Two Cities luncheon event, a major Conservative fundraising showpiece which dates back more than 50 years.

Among the other issues Mrs May addressed was the Conservatives’ falling party membership. The Labour party currently has more than 400,000 members - nearly four times that of the Tories.

The election result in Scotland was one of few bright spots for May. Her party gained 11 seats - all at the expense of the SNP - and unseated several high profile Nationalists, including Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson.

An SNP spokesman said: “The Tories made the constitution the centrepiece of their campaign in Scotland – indeed it was the only thing they spoke about – and they lost the election resoundingly, coming a very distant second.

“What is absolutely clear from this election is that Theresa May has no mandate whatsoever for her planned disastrous hard Brexit.

“This Tory government has treated Scotland with contempt and are doing everything in their power to undermine any case for the Union - they are dragging Scotland out of the EU and single market against our will, have flat-out ignored our compromise proposals, appointed election losers to the House of Lords to make them UK government Ministers, and are now set on a Westminster power grab.”

READ MORE: Scottish Conservatives sued over ‘MEP stitch up’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL AND ROSS McCAFFERTY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4475395.1498053915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4475395.1498053915!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May told Tory donors that although the party had lost its majority, 'at least it had saved the Union'. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May told Tory donors that although the party had lost its majority, 'at least it had saved the Union'. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4475395.1498053915!/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/euan-mccolm-snp-is-repeating-labour-party-s-mistakes-1-4481477","id":"1.4481477","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: SNP is repeating Labour party’s mistakes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498025650000 ,"articleLead": "

Nationalists are starting to lose sight of the reasons they were put into power in the first place, says Euan McColm

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481476.1498025652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Like Tony Blair in Labours 1997 landslide, the SNP came to power after a campaign of optimism and positivity. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP’s relentless vilification of former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair always concealed a secret admiration for his political achievements. They may have denounced Mr Blair as a charlatan but savvy nationalists studied his New Labour playbook for tips.

When the SNP won the 2007 Holyrood election, it did so after a campaign of optimism and positivity that echoed Mr Blair’s 1997 romp to victory. The nationalists made an audacious leap into the centre ground of Scottish politics by appealing to the sort of small ‘c’ conservative voters who’d previously trusted Labour to govern.

The SNP did not win in 2007 by playing the parts of swaggering Bravehearts and nor did they do it by playing the tatty old grievance cards that made the party look such a miserable proposition. Instead, under Alex Salmond, the SNP told a positive story about Scotland and successfully reassured unionist Scots that a vote for them was not a vote for independence but for stable and competent government.

Just as Tony Blair had successfully overturned the Labour Party’s reputation for economic incompetence, so Alex Salmond destroyed the perception of the SNP as constitutionally obsessed zealots.

As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon continues to “reflect upon” the reason her party lost 21 seats and several hundred thousand votes in the general election, another comparison between the SNP and New Labour emerges. The nationalists have reached the part of the story where Labour forgot what it had done to attract voters in the first place and they are doing the same thing.

When Mr Blair left office to be replaced by Gordon Brown in 2007, the Labour Party did all it could do to ditch the “new” bit. This was a return to traditional Labour values went the spin.

In the end, the Labour Party was positively unable to bring itself to tell voters any kind of positive story about its record. Labour became this weird self-flaggelating organism. And if I know one thing about politics, it’s that weird self-flaggelating organisms don’t poll well.

Labour forgot that voters responded to a positive agenda that tickled their “enlightened self-interest”; the SNP has forgotten that voters responded to a promise that a vote for a nationalist government was not a vote for a referendum. Or for a lot of referendums, for that matter.

On the morning after the general election, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said that he believed the referendum question had played its part in the result. I was not alone, surely, in reading this as the launch of a flare signalling the imminent withdrawal of indyref 2 from the agenda.

Instead, Ms Sturgeon has drawn out this period of reflection to a pointless and damaging degree.

Key SNP strategists privately concede that a second independence referendum is not going to happen, as the First Minister once promised, by early in 2019. It is, they mournfully admit, a dead issue for foreseeable future.

The UK Government will have no qualms about blocking a second referendum; although this will elicit screeches of fury among SNP supporters, they will be confident that they are acting in accordance with the wishes of a majority of Scots.

Yet Ms Sturgeon clings on to the prospect of a referendum she cannot deliver at a time when the issue of the constitution is costing her votes. The First Minister’s ship is holed below the waterline but still she sails on.

Not every member of the crew is confident of this course of action. Some SNP politicians believe the First Minister should turn back, now. If the issue of the proposed second referendum has cost the party 21 MPs then it’s time for a rethink, they say.

Ms Sturgeon tweeted that she would not be dictated to by demands for quick headlines when it came to the referendum question. This uncharacteristically tetchy interjection missed the point that it is not the media pressing the First Minister to declare indyref2 off the table, but opposition politicians and members of her own party.

Perhaps the First Minister believes there is mileage to be gained by calling foul when Westminster blocks her desired referendum but this is a massive gamble. Right now, she looks less certain of her ground that at any time in the last decade.

The First Minister has said she wishes to play a part in the UK’s Brexit process. She would be wise to make this a priority and to do so in a spirit of collaboration and in good faith.

It is not only in the interests of the UK for Brexit to be as painless as possible, it would also help the SNP. If, in the future, the nationalists can point to a Brexit process that went seamlessly, they may remove a barrier to voting yes to independence for some voters.

Nicola Sturgeon should be the UK Government’s best friend during the Brexit negotiations, she should aim for achievable concessions and show she can play a productive role. For the time being, a second independence referendum is dead, if the First Minister wishes to revive the corpse, she needs to adopt a new approach.

Otherwise, the SNP is heading in the same direction as the New Labour project.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "EUAN McCOLM"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4481476.1498025652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481476.1498025652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Like Tony Blair in Labours 1997 landslide, the SNP came to power after a campaign of optimism and positivity. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Like Tony Blair in Labours 1997 landslide, the SNP came to power after a campaign of optimism and positivity. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4481476.1498025652!/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/holyrood-shake-up-to-cut-waffle-from-scottish-parliament-1-4481490","id":"1.4481490","articleHeadline": "Holyrood shake-up to cut ‘waffle’ from Scottish Parliament","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1498021200000 ,"articleLead": "

Sweeping reforms to the Scottish Parliament have been proposed including plans to crack down on MSPs’ “waffle” and improve scrutiny of legislation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481489.1497989845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and chairman of the Commission on Parliamentary Reform John McCormick arejoined by some of the young people who contributed to the commissions work. Picture: Andrew Cowan"} ,"articleBody": "

The recommendations have been made in an independent report commissioned following concerns the institution has been failing to hold the Scottish Government to account.

The Commission on Parliamentary Reform recommended an overhaul of the committee system in an attempt to encourage MSPs to think independently rather than simply follow the party line.

The report, established by Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh, stopped short of calling for a second chamber or recommending increasing the number of MSPs from its current level of 129.

Mr Macintosh asked commission chairman John McCormick to draw up recommendations for reform after questions were raised about how effective Parliament committees are at scrutinising Scottish Government legislation.

Over the past few years critics of the Holyrood parliament have complained that it has lacked teeth.

Having been set up to facilitate coalition or minority government, the astonishing election result of 2011 saw the SNP become the first party to win an outright majority.

The proliferation of SNP MSPs led to complaints that the government was escaping effective scrutiny because party dominated the chamber and committees.

The call for change also comes at a time when MSPs are taking on new powers over income tax and welfare.

READ MORE: SNP announces Westminster front bench team

Among the 75 recommendations is a call for smaller and stronger committees with conveners not nominated by party whips but elected by Parliament.

The report said such an approach would “emphasise the independence of committees and give conveners a mandate for pursuing their scrutiny agenda”.

A committee engagement unit should be created to support committees in innovation and risk-taking and committee membership should reflect Parliament’s gender balance.

Holyrood should replace the current three-stage legislative process with a five-stage process including pre-legislative and post-legislative scrutiny, allow committees and chamber to meet at the same time, scrap the “pointless” scripted diary questions party leaders open First Minister’s Questions with and no longer require advance publication of chosen questions.

Other recommendations include the parliament working with political parties and others to agree benchmarks for diversity in Holyrood election candidates.

Another recommendation is to create a working group to examine the case for increasing resources, such as pay and staffing, for MSPs who take on extra roles and for party leaders.

The commission, which heard from more than 1,200 people including former first ministers, also recommends establishing a legislative standards body.

It also said the Presiding Officer should have more power to rule on the conduct of MSPs after feedback suggesting First Minister’s Questions was seen as “rowdy and bad tempered”, which added to the perception that MSPs were “poorly behaved”.

READ MORE: Humbled Theresa May sets out plans with DUP support in doubt

Therefore it concluded the Presiding Officer should have a stronger role in “balancing the need for political debate with that of effective scrutiny”. This would include “reducing waffle in questions and answers”.

Amid some calls for the number of MSPs to be increased, the report did not rule out any options but concluded “all the options to maximise the capacity of the existing Parliament must be tried before more radical proposals are considered”.

Mr Macintosh accepted the recommendations and said: “The long-term gain is that it will promote trust in the Scottish Parliament and in parliamentarians generally in the eyes of the Scottish people so that they can have confidence in the Scottish Parliament.

“They can believe in this institution as somewhere to be trusted, that’s carrying out its work effectively on behalf of all the people of Scotland.”

The report does not contain costs but Mr Macintosh said it is “not an expensive wishlist”. Mr McCormick said the extra cost would not be “significant”.

“Taken as a package, these 
75 recommendations will bring significant change to the parliament and, we believe, deliver a more strong parliament and certainly a more effective parliament,” Mr McCormick said.

Mr McCormick said: “The Scottish Parliament is now firmly established in Scottish life. The political landscape of today is very different from when the Parliament was established 18 years ago. What we have delivered with our report is a package of reforms which will enable the Parliament to meet these challenges head-on.”

Labour’s Johann Lamont, who served on the commission, said the reforms would strengthen the Parliament’s ability to scrutinise the government.

She said: “This report is an important step forward in ensuring the Scottish Parliament continues to serve the people of Scotland effectively.

“Bluntly, parliamentary business has not always accurately reflected the concerns, interests and priorities of the Scottish people.

“As new powers come to Holyrood, the Parliament must have the tools and the flexibility to hold the Scottish Government of the day to account.”

SNP group convener Bruce Crawford said: “We look forward to discussing and debating these recommendations further and deciding, as a parliament, how best to take them forward.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4481489.1497989845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4481489.1497989845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and chairman of the Commission on Parliamentary Reform John McCormick arejoined by some of the young people who contributed to the commissions work. Picture: Andrew Cowan","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and chairman of the Commission on Parliamentary Reform John McCormick arejoined by some of the young people who contributed to the commissions work. Picture: Andrew Cowan","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4481489.1497989845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/nicola-sturgeon-to-outline-indyref2-plan-before-summer-recess-1-4480984","id":"1.4480984","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon to outline indyref2 plan before summer recess","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497966554000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is “likely” to make a statement on plans for a second independence referendum before Holyrood breaks up for the summer, a spokesman has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480983.1497966556!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A spokesman for the First Minister has said it is likely there will be an independence statement before Partliament recess."} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister has been reflecting on Scottish Government proposals for a fresh ballot on the issue in the wake of the General Election result, which saw the SNP lose 21 seats at Westminster after the party’s share of the vote fell from 50% to 37%.

Ms Sturgeon led discussions on independence when her cabinet team met in Edinburgh on Tuesday morning - almost two weeks on from the election.

READ MORE: SNP split on whether to press on with independence referendum

A spokesman for the First Minister said afterwards: “There was a discussion led by the First Minister on an independence referendum and related issues.

“That forms part of the process she laid out after the election and she will continue to consult with Government and party colleagues, and will lay out her views on the way forward in due course.”

When asked if this would be before Holyrood breaks up for the summer recess at the close of business on Thursday June 29, he stated: “I think it is likely before then.”

The spokesman added there was not “an exact timetable” for when any announcement would be made.

READ MORE: Poll: Third of Scots more likely to back independence if May PM

It comes after the First Minister announced in March that the Scottish Government wanted to hold another ballot on leaving the UK some time between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, when the results of the Brexit deal are known.

Ms Sturgeon insisted such a vote was necessary to give Scots an alternative to a “hard Brexit” after nearly two-thirds of people north of the border voted to stay part of the European Union (EU).

Following the election results, the SNP leader has faced increasing demands from Unionist politicians to put any plans for another referendum on hold.

In the immediate aftermath of the General Election, Ms Sturgeon conceded her plans for a second independence referendum were “undoubtedly” a factor in the results.

She said at the time: “’We will reflect on these results, we will listen to voters and we will consider very carefully the best way forward for Scotland, a way forward that is in the interests of all of Scotland.’’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KATRINE BUSSEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4480983.1497966556!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480983.1497966556!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A spokesman for the First Minister has said it is likely there will be an independence statement before Partliament recess.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A spokesman for the First Minister has said it is likely there will be an independence statement before Partliament recess.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4480983.1497966556!/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/reforms-can-increase-trust-in-scottish-parliament-ken-macintosh-1-4480921","id":"1.4480921","articleHeadline": "Reforms can increase trust in Scottish Parliament - Ken Macintosh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497961580000 ,"articleLead": "

Proposals for sweeping reforms of the Scottish Parliament would promote “trust” in Holyrood, Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480920.1498064919!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and Chair of the Commission on Parliamentary Reform John McCormick in the Debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Commission on Parliamentary Reform recommended an overhaul of the committee system but stopped short of calling for a second chamber or more MSPs.

The commission said that while Holyrood was generally well-regarded, changes would result in “significant improvements” in its effectiveness and ability to act as “a more successful and stronger force for good”.

Mr Macintosh asked commission chairman John McCormick to draw up recommendations for reform after questions were raised about how effective Parliament committees are at scrutinising Scottish Government legislation.

It also comes at a time when MSPs are taking on new powers over income tax and welfare.

Among the 75 recommendations is a call for smaller and stronger committees with conveners not nominated by party whips but elected by Parliament, which the commission’s report said would “emphasise the independence of committees and give conveners a mandate for pursuing their scrutiny agenda”.

READ MORE: Report proposes sweeping reforms of Scottish Parliament

A committee engagement unit should be created to support committees in innovation and risk-taking and committee membership should reflect Parliament’s gender balance.

Holyrood should replace the current three-stage legislative process with a five-stage process including pre-legislative and post-legislative scrutiny, allow committees and chamber to meet at the same time, scrap the “pointless” scripted diary questions party leaders open First Minister’s Questions with and no longer require advance publication of chosen questions.

Other recommendations include the parliament working with political parties and others to agree benchmarks for diversity in Holyrood election candidates.

A further recommendation is to create a working group to examine the case for increasing resources, such as pay and staffing, for MSPs who take on extra roles, such as committee convener, and for party leaders.

The commission, which heard from more than 1,200 people including former first ministers, also recommends establishing a legislative standards body.

Amid some calls for the number of MSPs to be increased, the report did not rule out any options but concluded “all the options to maximise the capacity of the existing Parliament must be tried before more radical proposals are considered”.

Mr Macintosh accepted the recommendations and said: “The long-term gain is that it will promote trust in the Scottish Parliament and in parliamentarians generally in the eyes of the Scottish people so that they can have confidence in the Scottish Parliament.

“They can believe in this institution as somewhere to be trusted, that’s carrying out its work effectively on behalf of all the people of Scotland.”

The report does not contain costs for the reforms but Mr Macintosh said it is “not an expensive wishlist” and Mr McCormick said the extra cost would not be “significant”.

“Taken as a package, these 75 recommendations will bring significant change to the parliament and, we believe, deliver a more strong parliament and certainly a more effective parliament,” Mr McCormick added.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4480920.1498064919!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480920.1498064919!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and Chair of the Commission on Parliamentary Reform John McCormick in the Debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP and Chair of the Commission on Parliamentary Reform John McCormick in the Debating chamber of the Scottish Parliament. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4480920.1498064919!/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/report-proposes-sweeping-reforms-of-scottish-parliament-1-4480685","id":"1.4480685","articleHeadline": "Report proposes sweeping reforms of Scottish Parliament","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497951058000 ,"articleLead": "

An independent panel has proposed sweeping reform of the Scottish Parliament but stopped short of recommending a second chamber or an increase in the number of MSPs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480684.1497951061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A report has proposed sweeping reforms of the Scottish Parliament to improve the effectiveness. Picture; Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Commission on Parliamentary Reform said while Holyrood was generally well-regarded, changes would result in “significant improvements” in its effectiveness and ability to act as “a more successful and stronger force for good”.

Chair John McCormick was tasked with drawing up recommendations for reform by Holyrood Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh after questions were raised about how effective Parliament committees are at scrutinising Scottish Government legislation.

It also comes at a time when MSPs are taking on new powers over income tax and welfare due to changes introduced in the 2016 Scotland Act.

Among more than 70 recommendations is a call for smaller and stronger committees led by conveners who are elected by the Parliament rather than nominated by party whips.

This approach would “emphasise the independence of committees and give conveners a mandate for pursuing their scrutiny agenda”, the commission’s final report said.

A committee engagement unit should also be set up to support committees to become more innovative and risk-taking.

Holyrood should replace the current three-stage legislative process with a five-stage process to include pre-legislative and post-legislative scrutiny, allow committees to meet at the same time as the chamber, do away with the “pointless” scripted diary questions used by party leaders to open First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) and scrap the requirement for selected questions to be published in advance of FMQs.

Other recommendations include the parliament working with political parties and others to agree benchmarks for diversity in candidates for Scottish parliamentary elections.

The commission, which heard from more than 1,200 people including former first ministers, said the time was also right for “a wider view to be taken on what makes for good legislation” with the establishment of a legislative standards body.

Amid some calls for the number of MSPs to be increased, the report did not rule out any options but concluded “all the options to maximise the capacity of the existing Parliament must be tried before more radical proposals are considered”.

“We recognise that additional powers stretch the existing resources of the Parliament but we believe that it would not be justified to recommend a second chamber or an increase in the number of MSPs unless it can be demonstrated that the Parliament is currently working at peak efficiency,” it said.

Mr McCormick said: “The Scottish Parliament is now firmly established in Scottish life. There is no doubt, however, that there are challenges ahead.

“The political landscape of today is very different from when the Parliament was established 18 years ago.

“What we have delivered with our report is a package of reforms which will enable the Parliament to meet these challenges head-on.

“The recommendations in our report are substantial and, taken together, represent very real change in how the Parliament operates.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4480684.1497951061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480684.1497951061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A report has proposed sweeping reforms of the Scottish Parliament to improve the effectiveness. Picture; Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A report has proposed sweeping reforms of the Scottish Parliament to improve the effectiveness. Picture; Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4480684.1497951061!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/analysis-could-defeated-snp-mps-cause-problems-for-sturgeon-1-4480362","id":"1.4480362","articleHeadline": "Analysis: Could defeated SNP MPs cause problems for Sturgeon?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497897969000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland had a coach-load of ex-MPs in 2015, most of them from the Labour party. Now, just over two years later, you could fill at least a minibus of defeated Westminster politicians.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4474471.1497897972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon campaigning ahead of the 2017 general election. The SNP would lose 21 of the 56 seats it won in 2015. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

21 MPs, all from the SNP, lost their seats at the election on June 8 - the vast majority of whom had only been in place since 2015.

But even some of the party’s most experienced politicians, such as Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson, are now looking for work.

With Nicola Sturgeon under pressure from opposition parties over her stance on another referendum, the First Mininster doesn’t have her troubles to seek.

But could the departed MPs could cause an even bigger headache for the SNP leader, who has pledged to reflect on the disappointing result?

Loyal new blood

Some of the 2015 intake, who find themselves ending their new career just as it was getting started, might feel a little bitter about the manner of their departure.

As SNP members, many of some decades standing, it is reasonable to assume that all of them support the prospect of Scotland gaining independence.

That doesn’t mean that they all agreed with the timetable set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon back in March.

READ MORE: Sturgeon urges inclusive Brexit approach

However, once the emotions have settled, most of this group, which includes bright young minds like Stuart Donaldson and Callum McCaig, will realise that if their political defeat can be laid at the door of Ms Sturgeon, so too can their political victories.

The First Minister had an indifferent 2017 campaign, but just two years ago she criss-crossed the country, lending her considerable star power to candidates who might have struggled to win otherwise.

2015 Upstarts

The departure of a number of talented 2015 intake members will have stung the First Minister, particularly those with ministerial briefs.

That doesn’t mean, however, there weren’t a few errant thinkers who can at least spare Ms Sturgeon headaches and controversy.

If they continue to make waves from outwith parliament, they could present an even bigger problem for the under-pressure SNP leader.

Some of the more outspoken members of the 56-strong contingent who won their seats in 2015 look set to be even more troubling for Ms Sturgeon off the leash.

John Nicolson has been marked as one of the more ungracious losers of the election, remarking on Twitter that his successor Jo Swinson was “not overly troubled by wit or self-deprecation”.

Paul Monaghan, who famously seemed to endorse a conspiracy theory about the BBC weather map, is another who could still cause a stir with his phone from outwith parliament.

The old hands

There are other MPs who can create more than a rumbling on Twitter if they decide to speak their minds.

If Alex Salmond or Angus Robertson, for example, came out against anything that the First Minister announced it would be front page news in Scotland.

The impact of SNP grandees going against the grain is not understated lightly, as the recent interventions by Kenny MacAskill and Alex Neil have proved.

Even immediately proceeding, and in the immediate aftermath, of the SNPs success in 2015, Alex Salmond wasn’t shy about speaking his mind.

He insisted that the issue of independence was on the ballot paper for June 8, even as Nicola Sturgeon said it wasn’t about another referendum.

Tellingly, it seemed like Ms Sturgeon came round to Mr Salmond’s way of thinking, rather than vice versa, as she used a visit to her predecessor’s constituency to say the referendum was ‘at the heart’ of her campaign.

Big figures like Mr Salmond and Angus Robertson, and to a lesser extent Eilidh Whiteford and Mike Weir, will, it is fair to say, need to be placated after their losses.

The First Minister’s in-tray, already overflowing with politically dangerous issues, now has to consider how best to manage 21 ex-MPs.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4474471.1497897972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4474471.1497897972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon campaigning ahead of the 2017 general election. The SNP would lose 21 of the 56 seats it won in 2015. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon campaigning ahead of the 2017 general election. The SNP would lose 21 of the 56 seats it won in 2015. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4474471.1497897972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/how-will-a-tory-dup-deal-affect-brexit-talks-1-4480316","id":"1.4480316","articleHeadline": "How will a Tory-DUP deal affect Brexit talks?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497892827000 ,"articleLead": "

The water has been poured, the ties straightened and the lengthy binders of documents prepared – yes, Britain’s Brexit negotiations with the European Union are about to get underway.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480315.1497892830!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "DUP leader Arlene Foster and MP Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

It seems the Conservatives’ warning that a Government of chaos would struggle to prepare for talks after the election was prescient.

Most observers just didn’t expect that Theresa May herself would be leading that Government.

David Davis, arch Brexiteer, now finds himself kicking off negotiations in Brussels, despite the Eurosceptic minister declaring at the height of last year’s referendum campaign that any exit discussions would be taking place in Berlin.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon calls for inclusive Brexit approach

Davis’ recent political revival is so great that some Tories are even whispering of him as a potential leader - if he can steer the good ship Brexit through decidedly stormy waters.

Theresa May has yet to finalise the terms of her deal with the DUP, and with a Queen’s Speech looming, it remains at the top of the Prime Minister’s in-tray.

But how could any Tory-DUP deal influence Brexit negotiations?

The DUP, founded by the late Rev. Ian Paisley Sr in 1971, has always been a Eurosceptic party.

While they may have moved away from the view endorsed by their founder that the EU was ‘a Vatican plot’, the party was always likely to back Brexit.

READ MORE: UK plans a ‘deal like no other’ on Brexit

That’s not to say that the party’s decision to back Britain’s departure from the European Union was without controversy.

A wraparound advert in the Metro free newspaper - which isn’t distributed in Northern Ireland - was paid for by the party to promote the Leave campaign.

It came after a £400,000 donation to the DUP which took advantage of Northern Ireland’s unique electoral laws that don’t require large donors to be named.

Sovereignty is an important concept to a party like the DUP, and any Brexit deal that seems like a watering down of Brexit won’t go down well with the socially conservative party.

One issue which produces a rare consensus on all sides is the need to avoid a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

It is one of the most fluid borders between two separate states in all of the world. No checks are in place as families, commuters, and other citizens travel freely between the North and South.

Arlene Foster is united in her belief with the Governments of Ireland and the UK that a return to a hard border needs to be prevented.

Even the European Commission is in agreement with that point of view, but the position of strength that the DUP occupies in Theresa May’s beleaguered Government should reassure even their greatest enemies in nationalist politics that a hard border, with the associated passport checks and even armed guards, can be avoided.

It is thought that a hard border could even be a breach of the terms of the Good Friday agreement, which was passed in twin referenda on either sides of the border by massive margins.

Even though the issue of the border was raised in the immediate aftermath of the referendum result last year, the devolved administration that Brexit most people thought would be emboldened was in Edinburgh, not Belfast. Now, however, even without a functioning Executive at Stormont, it seems that it is to Northern Ireland that Mrs May will have to acquiesce.

Nicola Sturgeon wanted a seat at the table for Scotland in the Brexit talks, and possibly a separate deal for the country to stay in the single market.

It now seems that the SNP Government, under David Davis’ equivalent Michael Russell, will get neither of those requests.

Ms Sturgeon has already hit the button on her nuclear option, with the First Minister announcing her plans for a second referendum on independence just as Britain gears up to leave the EU.

Having had the vote blocked by the UK Government, the SNP then suffered the wrath of the electorate as opposition parties put Indyref2 front and centre of the campaign at the snap election.

It seems with the DUP now wielding more power as a result of their looming deal with the Tories, Scotland might struggle to get the bespoke deal that the SNP hopes for.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4480315.1497892830!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480315.1497892830!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "DUP leader Arlene Foster and MP Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "DUP leader Arlene Foster and MP Nigel Dodds arrive at 10 Downing Street. Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4480315.1497892830!/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/tory-farmer-who-featured-in-snp-party-broadcast-wins-ofcom-complaint-1-4479912","id":"1.4479912","articleHeadline": "Tory farmer who featured in SNP party broadcast wins OFCOM complaint","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497875470000 ,"articleLead": "

BBC Scotland has been rapped by broadcasting watchdogs after it screened an SNP party political broadcast in which a Tory supporting farmer appeared without his knowledge.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479911.1497875423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Shedden in the SNP broadcast. Picture: SNP"} ,"articleBody": "

John Shedden said he agreed to take part in a ‘government public information film’ but was left furious after the footage promoted the Nationalists.
Mr Shedden, who farms at East Garleton Farm near Haddington, East Lothian, complained as he claimed he was duped into appearing in the SNP broadcast aired by BBC Scotland on October 12 last year.

Regulator Ofcom has now upheld a ‘fairness and privacy’ complaint about the film, which some interpreted as support for the SNP’s call for a second independence referendum.

Filming took place at the farm on September 23 last year, and it was nearly three weeks before Mr Shedden discovered what he had taken part in. The video was eventually removed from BBC iPlayer, and is no longer on the SNP’s official YouTube channel.

READ MORE: ‘Hun’ and ‘Jock’ not offensive, says Ofcom research

One clip cuts from a scene talking of ‘believers’ in independence to Mr Shedden sitting having coffee in bales of hay.

At the time, the 55-year-old said: “I am furious. I am not a supporter of the SNP.’” The company that produced it, Greenroom Films, apologised for including Mr Shedden without his knowledge.

In a written ruling, Ofcom said: “The broadcaster did not dispute that Mr Shedden had not been informed about the nature and purpose of the programme and that it had not obtained his informed consent.

“We therefore went on to consider whether, by footage of Mr Shedden being included in the broadcast without his consent, he was portrayed in a manner that resulted in unfairness to him.

“Mr Shedden and his farm were shown in a Party Political Broadcast for the SNP. We considered that, consequently, viewers may have reasonably understood that Mr Shedden was a supporter of the SNP, or at least, that he was prepared to be associated with the party.

“Mr Shedden said that he did not support the SNP, and that he would not have contributed to the programme had it been made clear to him from the outset that the footage would be used in the party’s political broadcast.

“Therefore, it was our view that the inclusion of this footage in the SNP’s political broadcast, may have resulted in Mr Shedden and his political views, being unfairly represented.

“We considered that the inclusion of the footage of Mr Shedden in a Party Political Broadcast, for a party which he did not support, without his informed consent, resulted in material facts (i.e. his political views) being presented in the broadcast in a manner that resulted in unfairness to him.”

Greenroom said that while others had signed a release form to take part in the film, Mr Shedden had not and should not have been included. The company accepted responsibility for the blunder and said the BBC and the SNP had acted in “good faith”.

After lodging his complaint, Mr Shedden, who was given a fee of £550 for allowing his land to be filmed, said: “My complaint was that this was to be non-political.

“We had a letter saying that it was definitely non-party political and it was just a snapshot of life in Scotland.

“It was a public information film. I don’t want to get into politics, but I am not an SNP supporter.

“It was a friend who phoned me up [about the broadcast] and said they see I am an SNP supporter, and I was a bit shocked. And when I saw it was a party political broadcast I wasn’t very happy. A party political broadcast is not non-party political.”

A re-edited version of the film with Mr Shedden removed from it was used in further broadcasts.

The SNP said there were unaware of the issue until after the broadcast and said it had been caused by an “error” by the film production company.

The BBC told Ofcom that “the content of party political and party election broadcasts is primarily the responsibility of the parties themselves, subject to compliance with the relevant editorial standards.”

The corporation said that it had reminded political parties of the guidelines surrounding broadcasts shortly before the film was made.

READ MORE: STV and SNP face ‘cash for shows’ inquiry

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479911.1497875423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479911.1497875423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Shedden in the SNP broadcast. Picture: SNP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Shedden in the SNP broadcast. Picture: SNP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479911.1497875423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/nicola-sturgeon-inclusive-approach-needed-in-brexit-talks-1-4479893","id":"1.4479893","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: Inclusive approach needed in Brexit talks","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497873912000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has urged the UK Government to take a more inclusive approach to negotiations on leaving the European Union (EU) as talks get under way in Brussels.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479890.1497873914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon meets new SNP MPs in Westminster. Picutre:Andrew Parsons / i-Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland’s First Minister renewed calls for the devolved administrations to have a seat at the table during the Brexit discussions, describing the current situation as “troubling”.

She warned UK Brexit Secretary David Davis that a failure to pursue the “common-sense” objective of keeping the UK in the single market would put jobs, investment and living standards “on the line”.

Speaking during a visit to the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Forming Research Centre (AFRC) in Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think it is really troubling that these formal negotiations are getting under way today led by a UK Government that has no mandate, no credibility, no authority and no clear idea even amongst its own ranks of what it’s trying to achieve.

READ MORE: SNP split on whether to press on with independence referendum

READ MORE: UK will seek ‘a deal like no other’ on Brexit

“We need to see a different approach to these negotiations if they are not going to end up being damaging to our economy.

“We need a more inclusive approach that involves voices from every part of the UK, including the Scottish Government, and we need an approach that has a common-sense objective.

“In my view, that common-sense objective should be keeping the UK in the single market because leaving the EU shouldn’t mean jeopardising hundreds of thousands of jobs, shouldn’t mean jeopardising investment and it shouldn’t mean putting living standards on the line.

“That’s what leaving the single market will do.”

Ms Sturgeon said discussions between the Scottish Government and the UK Government had taken place following the general election in which Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority.

She said: “These will continue but I think it’s now time not just for the Scottish Government but for voices across Scotland and across the UK to come together to say to the UK Government that they cannot continue to lead the UK down a path with no clear idea of what they are trying to achieve and a path that could be so damaging.

“So, let’s have a more inclusive approach and an approach that focuses on keeping the UK within the single market.”

Ms Sturgeon refused to be drawn on her plans for a second independence referendum after the loss of 21 SNP seats, only saying she would continue to reflect on the result, listen to a range of different voices and come to a conclusion “in due course”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Catriona Webster"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479890.1497873914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479890.1497873914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon meets new SNP MPs in Westminster. Picutre:Andrew Parsons / i-Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon meets new SNP MPs in Westminster. Picutre:Andrew Parsons / i-Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479890.1497873914!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-monteith-our-children-paying-price-for-snp-failures-1-4479460","id":"1.4479460","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: Our children paying price for SNP failures","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497856306000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s plans for stopping the decline in results in our schools fail to tackle the real problems, writes Brian Monteith

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479458.1497856398!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

It was back in 2015 that the First Minister elevated education to be her government’s top priority and emphasised this pledge by appointing her safest pair of hands, John Swinney, to become the new Education Secretary the following year.

With literacy and numeracy standards visibly falling; with Scottish rankings in comparative international rankings dropping embarrassingly to below that of Vietnam; and with the number of pupils leaving schools without any meaningful qualification climbing, there will not be a time when a Scottish education secretary will be more empowered to introduce reforms.

READ MORE: SNP split on whether to press on with independence referendum

READ MORE: UK will seek ‘a deal like no other’ on Brexit

A more propitious moment to challenge the vested interests of the teachers’ unions and the local authorities – the two most conservative organisations hell-bent on maintaining their control of what happens in schools – could not be conjured up.

There was good reason to hope John Swinney, the erstwhile “good cop” to the First Minister’s “bad cop”, would deliver change.

He waxed lyrical about the status quo not being an option; he opened a consultation on the governance of schools and he encouraged parents and head teachers to dream of what they could do if schools were given more powers.

Last Thursday we finally found out that Swinney is a man of clay. Rather than devolve greater powers that would mean something tangible to head teachers he announced a bureaucratic concoction designed to look dynamic but which retains the real power in the hands of those who already hold it – his education department, unions and councils.

There will now be regional educational boards, not to replace local councils – but in addition to them. Yes, heads will gain control of teacher employment but the contracts will remain with the local authorities – meaning they will continue to be the real bosses.

Most disappointing is how John Swinney rejected submissions by three schools to become pilots on becoming directly funded by the Scottish Education Department and independent of their local authority. #Most notable amongst them was St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Milngavie, threatened with closure by East Dunbartonshire Council.

It had submitted a business plan and has been waiting for some two years to hear if it was acceptable. On Thursday the school was called by a faceless civil servant to be told its fate. Its options for continuing to deliver a Catholic education are now very limited.

If there is anyone who still thinks John Swinney was born to lead and is the man best able to break the grip of the educational establishment and give genuine power to head teachers and parents then let me suggest a comparison is considered.

Step forward one Michael Forsyth, the former Tory MP for Stirling and a man who loved being an education minister. Back in the eighties Scotland already had a good reputation for its education system – it was certainly viewed as being considerably better than what was on offer in England, but Forsyth was worried that it was in danger of falling behind and that significant reform was required.

Benefitting from his own toil at Arbroath High School and the University of St Andrews, Forsyth prized a good education as what provided everyone in society with the opportunity to excel and achieve their dreams.

Despite constant personal and bitter attacks by the teaching unions and the Confederation of Scottish Local Authorities – at a time when both were significantly more powerful than they are now – Forsyth went ahead and reintroduced statutory school boards that would give parents a real influence in the management of their respective schools.

He was accused of importing an “English” system of school governors but Scottish school boards had existed up until their abolition in 1928 and their return was long overdue if schooling was to become more accountable to those it served.

His most controversial move was to allow individual schools to seek to leave council management and become directly funded by the Scottish Education Department.

The Conservatives had already saved from closure Jordanhill, the demonstration school run alongside Jordanhill teacher training college in Glasgow by making it direct-grant funded – and it was showing this could be a success.

Now others could follow and next St Mary’s Episcopal Primary School in Dunblane took that opportunity and became self-governing. Its performance improved dramatically, encouraging other schools to consider the model.

Unfortunately for them the Conservatives lost the 1997 general election and Forsyth, by now Secretary of State, lost his seat along with all other Tory MPs.

What followed next was one of the greatest examples of political spite in modern times as the new Scottish Parliament proceeded to dismantle every educational reform that Forsyth had introduced – emasculating the school boards, removing the opportunity for schools to leave council management, restricting the publication of school exam performances and abandoning tests that had provided parents with much-needed information about their childrens’ performance. All of these changes have been a major contributory factor in the subsequent decline of Scottish education.

Had Forsyth’s reforms been left alone it is not too extravagant to belief Scottish education would now be in a better place.

Parents would be able to exert greater influence than they are currently permitted; heads would know they could propose becoming independent and make a success of it, and the corresponding competition between schools and availability of information would have made our system more open and accountable.

In sharp contrast John Swinney has produced a fudge that leaves the establishment in control. Today Jordanhill continues to show how state schools can excel by managing themselves. The logic of Swinney’s new policy is Glasgow City Council should now manage it.

The one thing we can now say with certainty is that for the foreseeable future Scottish education, the SNP’s top priority, is likely to get worse before it gets a chance to get better.

Brian Monteith is editor of ThinkScotland.org

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479458.1497856398!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479458.1497856398!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479458.1497856398!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479459.1497856403!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479459.1497856403!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Picture: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479459.1497856403!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-danes-lead-the-way-in-political-participation-1-4479222","id":"1.4479222","articleHeadline": "Lesley Riddoch: Danes lead the way in political participation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497855134000 ,"articleLead": "

When it comes to public participation in politics a Danish island is leading the way, writes Lesley Riddoch.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479221.1497855137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Folkemodet festival of politics on the Danish island of Bornholm"} ,"articleBody": "

Theresa May’s reputation is in tatters, her empathy is in question and seven thousand deals wait to be negotiated as Brexit talks start today.
The Prime Minister could be excused for dreaming of an early June recess - angry citizens long for the chance to confront the Prime Minister and force her to acknowledge that austerity, phony democracy and crony capitalism all played their part in the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Suddenly there is consensus that post-Thatcher decades of cost-cutting, de-regulation, elitism, greed, inequality and the entrenchment of Britain’s uniquely archaic, top-down version of democracy all contributed to the terrible loss of life in Kensington and the fear that now stalks thousands of tower blocks across Britain.

READ MORE: SNP split on whether to press on with independence referendum

READ MORE: UK will seek ‘a deal like no other’ on Brexit

But is there a raised expectation that politicians will change tack or that the media will force long-term change once shock and fury subside and Brexit starts grabbing the headlines again?

There is anger, hope and determination that this tragedy will be a turning point in British political history, but expectations are not high.

Britain doesn’t do responsive, open, consensual or grassroots – nor does Scotland. Not at least, on the scale witnessed this weekend on Bornholm - a Danish island which has just hosted the biggest act of political engagement in Europe and maybe the world.

The Folkemødet (literally public meeting) saw 900 organisations put on 3,000 events attracting 110,000 participants over four days.

They discussed a project to turn the cross-border region created by the Oresund Bridge into the world’s leading green economy. Inhabitants of Skane don’t seem to mind belonging to “Greater Copenhagen” – after all the southern Swedish region was once part of Greater Denmark.

If it succeeds “Greater Copenhagen” will change the political and economic gravity of northern Europe and provide a template for like-minded others, facilitated by the EU membership of both countries. Big stuff. Leaders of Denmark’s new Alternative party focused on restoring empathy to politics – part of of the pioneering platform that helped them win 9 seats in recent elections.

Health, integration, terrorism and education were popular themes and there was a capacity audience for my own talk on Scotland, Brexit and independence – plus half an hour of polite but very probing questioning.

Sunday was devoted to local issues including plans to build a Museum of Light, in celebration of the fact Bornholm is regularly the sunniest place in Denmark and plans to service a massive expansion of offshore wind in the Baltic from island ports.

Folkemødet’s carnival atmosphere encourages canny questioning of party leaders and covert cooperation between them.

It’s something old-fashioned, “us and them” Britain desperately needs to emulate but would find impossibly hard to run.

Edinburgh does have a Politics Festival – but it’s indoors, run by the parliamentary events team not the people, features celebrities more than politicians and attracts as many tourists as citizens.

Yet Scottish democracy needs the consensus-building, policy focus and reality-proofing Mc Folkemødet would provide.

So is there a Scottish island that wants to give it a go?

Bornholm organisers are happy to share the secrets of their success.

The number of events is limited only by the amount of rentable ground space in the main coastal town of Allinge.

Political parties get a discount for hiring space and like-minded charitable groups are encouraged to save money by joining forces and sharing them.

The rules are simple – participants must involve the public and hold events for the duration of the Festival.

No cynical “show and go” style consultation is permitted here.

There is commercial event sponsorship which helps fund a final day of local Bornholm focus and a five-strong team of professional organisers head-hunted from large Danish music festivals but now living and working permanently on the island. Accommodation is problematic but Bornholmers rent out rooms, whole homes and summer houses and some participants hire boats as floating venues and park them in Allinge harbour.

Some parties and big companies have long-standing leases – some unions have bought and renovated derelict property.

The Folkemødet - now in its seventh year - was modeled on an older event held every July on the Swedish Baltic island of Gotland (population 57,000) since 1985.

The Almedalen week in Visby has grown in clout ever since and in 2010 canny Bornholmers (watching Swedish TV coverage and spotting island similarities) persuaded their Mayor and the Danish Culture Minister to visit the Gotland event with a view to reproducing it on Bornholm. In 2011 the first Folkemødet took place.

The media’s role in all of this is huge.

There’s a Bornholm joke that every home has an owner, a dog and a journalist.

Indeed Denmark (population 5.7m) has four national radio, four national TV stations, a 24hr news channel and a string of international hit series like Borgen, The Bridge and The Killing. Bornholm (pop 40,000) has a 24 hour radio station employing 40 people, a local TV station employing sixty and a daily newspaper where forty people work.

All are working flat out broadcasting Folkemødet debates to the whole of Denmark.

Initially, there was scepticism that ordinary Danes would seize the chance to quiz decision makers but the sceptics have been proved wrong.

Folkemødet is well-timed, coming just after the final days of the Danish parliamentary year.

Danish political culture is all about cooperation and consensus-building thanks to powerful and genuinely local government together with a century of proportional voting.

So party leaders cannot afford not to come. Folkemodet founders involved them in 2010 cannily obtaining general agreement that the festival would open every year with a speech by the Prime Minister (cleverly roping him or her into attendance.)

Each party has a half hour slot where there are no competing events – the best time slots on Friday and Saturday go the largest parties and the smaller parties get the rest.

The Folkemødet belief is that problems big and small benefit from grassroot-led cooperation. That might sound irritatingly idealistic to British/Scottish ears, but it’s also a reflection of how little room for discussion exists in our top-down political system, how little trust is generated between governments and citizens and how much our media mirrors the unspoken belief that people-led solutions stand no chance whatsoever of implementation by the political class

We must escape this all-pervading atmosphere of nihilism and disconnect.

A Scottish Folkemødet would be an excellent start.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479221.1497855137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479221.1497855137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Folkemodet festival of politics on the Danish island of Bornholm","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Folkemodet festival of politics on the Danish island of Bornholm","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479221.1497855137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-split-on-whether-to-press-on-with-independence-referendum-1-4479310","id":"1.4479310","articleHeadline": "SNP split on whether to press on with independence referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497810140000 ,"articleLead": "

Senior SNP figures have split over the party’s most fundamental belief, with some arguing a second Scottish independence referendum should be “parked” until after Brexit while others have urged Nicola Sturgeon to press ahead.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479309.1497810143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during FMQs at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Tommy Sheppard MP became the latest nationalist figure to call for a pause on independence, joining the likes of Alex Neil MSP, former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, and ex-SNP head of policy Alex Bell.

But Calum Kerr, who lost his Westminster seat two weeks ago, said his party shouldn’t “over-react” to the election result, and was backed by the MEP Alyn Smith.

There has been speculation that a second independence referendum, which Ms Sturgeon previously said would take place by spring 2019, could be ‘rebranded’ as a vote on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal.

However, the First Minister has dismissed media reports, saying the SNP is still “reflecting” on the election, in which the party lost 21 MPs, and will set out its referendum plans in due course.

Mr Sheppard wrote in a column yesterday: “It is now an option to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude before forming a view on whether the extent of change justifies a second independence referendum as a result.

“It follows, therefore, that “This would mean that whilst a second referendum remains an option, the timetable gets parked.”

Meanwhile, Mr Bell said the party should “shut up about indyref2”.

However, Mr Smith told Scotland on Sunday he was “absolutely committed to independence” despite the general election result. “We are committed to giving the people of Scotland an informed choice,” he said.

And Mr Kerr said of the SNP’s election result: “It told of a change in voting patterns, but it is important not to over-react.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme the party is continuing to “consider” its proposal for a further referendum.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said there were “no circumstances” under which a second independence referendum would be allowed to go ahead before the 2021 Holyrood elections, and accused Ms Sturgeon of being in denial.

Mr Mundell told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland: “The people of Scotland sent Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP a very, very clear message in last week’s General Election - with the cataclysmic performance of the SNP compared to the 2015 general election. They want that threat of an independence referendum taken off the table.

“Nicola Sturgeon should not be in denial about that. She should wake up, smell the coffee and be absolutely clear with the people of Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479309.1497810143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479309.1497810143!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during FMQs at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during FMQs at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479309.1497810143!/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/david-mundell-tells-nicola-sturgeon-remove-indyref2-threat-1-4479214","id":"1.4479214","articleHeadline": "David Mundell tells Nicola Sturgeon: Remove indyref2 threat","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497794173000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Secretary has said he foresees “no circumstances” for a second Scottish referendum taking place before the 2021 Holyrood elections

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479213.1497794176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell made the comments as pressure mounts on Nicola Sturgeon to put second referendum plans on the back burner. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

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David Mundell’s comments come as pressure mounts on Nicola Sturgeon to outline her position on a further referendum as senior SNP figures called for the vote to be postponed.

Ms Sturgeon said independence was a factor after her party lost 21 seats in the General Election, and vowed to “reflect on the result”.

Mr Mundell told the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland: “The people of Scotland sent Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP a very, very clear message in last week’s General Election - with the cataclysmic performance of the SNP compared to the 2015 general election. They want that threat of an independence referendum taken off the table.

“Nicola Sturgeon should not be in denial about that. She should wake up, smell the coffee and be absolutely clear with the people of Scotland, as now members of her own party are indicating, and take that threat off the table.

“I don’t see any circumstances in which there is going to be an independence referendum before the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the same programme: “Our proposal always was that we should have this referendum, if we have it, at the end of the Brexit process. We’ll consider those proposals and we will consider them in the light of the election campaign.”

He said the end of the Brexit process would be at the end of March 2019, two years after the triggering of Article 50.

READ MORE - SNP figures urge Nicola Sturgeon not to abandon indyref2 plan

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the independence campaign should be “parked” until Brexit negotiations are over.

He wrote in the Sunday Herald: “Amidst the current chaos in Westminster it seems certain that a hard Brexit is now off the table, and the possibility of bespoke solutions for nations and regions is growing.

“It follows, therefore, that it is now an option to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude before forming a view on whether the extent of change justifies a second independence referendum as a result. This would mean that whilst a second referendum remains an option, the timetable gets parked.”

Meanwhile, former SNP political adviser Alex Bell said the party should “shut up about indyref2”, adding “the UK is in genuine crisis and there’s no loss of face in letting that settle until some undetermined date”.

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said the SNP should “abandon” its current referendum push as “neither the mood is there for it, nor the support in existence to win it”.

Scottish Labour election campaign manager James Kelly said calls for Ms Sturgeon to ditch plans for a second referendum are now “deafening”.

He said: “The uncomfortable truth for the SNP leader is that Scots don’t want another referendum - they want her to get on with the job of fixing the mess she has made of our schools and hospitals.

“Now even senior figures in her own party seem to agree.”

READ MORE - Foodbank nurse Claire Austin abused while eating in restaurant

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479213.1497794176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479213.1497794176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell made the comments as pressure mounts on Nicola Sturgeon to put second referendum plans on the back burner. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Secretary David Mundell made the comments as pressure mounts on Nicola Sturgeon to put second referendum plans on the back burner. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479213.1497794176!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/nicola-sturgeon-must-reshuffle-failing-government-labour-1-4479149","id":"1.4479149","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon must reshuffle ‘failing’ government - Labour","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497780278000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Labour leader has called on the First Minister to reshuffle her “failing” Government.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479147.1497784822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of forgetting what's most important. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

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Kezia Dugdale claims the SNP Government’s record on education, health and the economy shows it is “not fit for purpose” and has “stopped listening and stopped working”.

She said: “Nicola Sturgeon has been sent a clear message to get back to the day job.

“She has spent so long obsessing about the constitution that she has forgotten what really matters to people - schools, hospitals and jobs.

“Her Government has presided over 4,000 fewer teachers, while class sizes are up, Scotland is falling down international tables, teachers are under-paid and parents are being asked to fill-in in classrooms.

“A decade of SNP mismanagement of our NHS has left staff overworked, undervalued and under resourced, while the Government refuses to lift the pay cap for nurses, and hospital services are threatened with closure. Health Secretary Shona Robison is failing patients and staff.

“And Scotland has a hidden jobs crisis in our labour market because the SNP is not doing enough to create high-quality, well-paid jobs.

“This SNP Government is not fit for purpose because it has stopped listening and stopped working.

“It’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to reshuffle her failing Government.”

READ MORE - SNP figures urge Nicola Sturgeon not to abandon indyref2 plan

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw, meanwhile, accused the First Minister of a “complete failure of leadership” in not taking a second independence referendum off the table after her party lost 21 of its 59 MPs in the General Election.

He said: “In the week since the General Election result, Nicola Sturgeon has shown a complete failure of leadership.

“Instead of listening to the message she was given, she has ignored people in Scotland who want her to take a second referendum off the table.

“Instead, we now face Scotland being left in limbo by a First Minister who is putting her job as SNP leader before her duty as First Minister.”

He called on her to take immediate action to rule out a second referendum.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “While the Tories and Labour one-trick ponies try to outdo each other in their obsession with independence, the SNP Government is getting on with the job of delivering for Scotland.

“This week has seen us focus on the economy, as record low unemployment figures were posted, and on education where we unveiled the most radical reforms to our school system in decades.

“Meanwhile, the opposition have absolutely nothing constructive to say and are reduced to the laughable position of claiming we don’t discuss independence enough.”

She said Brexit is the “biggest threat” to Scotland and called on Labour and the Tories to support the SNP in pressing for a place at the negotiating table.

READ MORE - Foodbank nurse Claire Austin abused while eating in restaurant

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479147.1497784822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479147.1497784822!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of forgetting what's most important. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of forgetting what's most important. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479147.1497784822!/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/snp-mp-tommy-sheppard-urges-party-to-park-indyref2-1-4479131","id":"1.4479131","articleHeadline": "SNP MP Tommy Sheppard urges party to ‘park’ indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497778769000 ,"articleLead": "

Pressure on Nicola Sturgeon to outline her position on a second independence referendum is mounting as further senior SNP figures called for the vote to be postponed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479130.1497779541!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Sheppard has called on the plans to be postponed until after Brexit. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

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SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said the independence campaign should be “parked” until Brexit negotiations are over.

Ms Sturgeon said independence was a factor after her party lost 21 of its 56 Westminster seats in the General Election, and she vowed to “reflect on the result”.

Mr Sheppard told the Sunday Herald newspaper: “Amidst the current chaos in Westminster it seems certain that a hard Brexit is now off the table, and the possibility of bespoke solutions for nations and regions is growing.

“It follows, therefore, that it is now an option to wait until the Brexit negotiations conclude before forming a view on whether the extent of change justifies a second independence referendum as a result. This would mean that whilst a second referendum remains an option, the timetable gets parked.”

Mr Sheppard put himself forward for selection as the party’s Westminster leader this week before withdrawing citing “lack of support”.

READ MORE - SNP figures urge Nicola Sturgeon not to abandon indyref2 plan

Meanwhile, former SNP political adviser Alex Bell said the party should “shut up about indyref2”.

He wrote in the Sunday Times: “Sturgeon should do the right thing by the nation and commit to real improvement in health and education, knowing the benefits may not be evident until after the 2020 election, and do the right thing by independence by explaining why short to mid-term risk is worth taking for long-term gain.

“Until that time, shut up about indyref2. The UK is in genuine crisis and there’s no loss of face in letting that settle until some undetermined date. And shut up about Brexit - play a part in softening it, but stop making it seem like the business of Holyrood to fix.”

The latest interventions come after former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said the SNP should “abandon” its current push for a further independence referendum as “neither the mood is there for it, nor the support in existence to win it”.

He said on Saturday that the campaign should be sidelined following the party’s performance in the General Election, which he said cannot be “ignored or explained away simply as unionist tactical voting”.

READ MORE - Foodbank nurse Claire Austin abused while eating in restaurant

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479130.1497779541!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479130.1497779541!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tommy Sheppard has called on the plans to be postponed until after Brexit. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Sheppard has called on the plans to be postponed until after Brexit. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479130.1497779541!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/indyref2-nicola-sturgeon-urged-not-to-abandon-second-referendum-1-4479026","id":"1.4479026","articleHeadline": "Indyref2: Nicola Sturgeon urged not to abandon second referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497762002000 ,"articleLead": "

Senior SNP figures have urged Nicola Sturgeon to stand firm on her plan for a second independence referendum despite the threat of another vote being blamed for the party’s dismal general election showing.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479025.1497730878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes a photograph as she joins people at Glasgow Women's Library on Saturday."} ,"articleBody": "

Prominent Nationalists, including general election casualties, believe indyref2 should remain on the table.

With Brexit negotiations beginning tomorrow there is a growing suspicion that the First Minister intends to delay laying out her next steps on how to deal with the referendum question – calculating that the talks may unravel in the meantime.

Ahead of this week’s Queen’s Speech, the UK government last night announced the coming parliamentary session would be doubled to two years to create enough time for politicians to consider Brexit legislation properly.

READ MORE: Ex-SNP minister says indyref2 should be abandoned

With the Conservatives making substantial gains on the back of their anti-indyref campaign, Sturgeon has acknowledged that her determination to press ahead with another independence vote was a factor in her party losing 21 seats.

She has promised to reflect on her plans. At the weekend, sources close to Sturgeon refused to say when she will issue a statement on the outcome of those “reflections”.

The Scottish Conservatives yesterday complained her failure to deal decisively with the issue is leaving the country “in limbo” as they repeated their calls to ditch indyref2.

But yesterday Alyn Smith, the SNP MEP who sits on the party’s national executive committee, said he did not think the general election result should change Sturgeon’s strategy.

Sturgeon announced that a second referendum was “on the table” the day after the UK voted to leave the EU last year.

She upped the ante earlier this year by declaring that she would seek a Section 30 order from the UK government to hold a referendum. Since then, and with the help of six Green MSPs, the SNP has voted at Holyrood to request a second referendum.

Before the election, Sturgeon said she would outline her “next steps” on the road to a referendum after the UK had gone to the polls.

But the SNP’s poor performance has put pressure on the First Minister to call off her plans.

Smith said the First Minister should stick to her guns, claiming that the public needed the option of an independence vote as the UK heads for withdrawal from the European Union.

“It staggers me that the Tories were able to pretend that the election was about indyref2 – a referendum that is not agreed – in order to distract from the consequences of an EU referendum which has happened and they are responsible for. Hats off, quite the coup,” said Smith.

“We are committed to giving the people of Scotland an informed choice. I remain absolutely committed to independence, absolutely committed to the fact that Scotland’s best future is independence within the EU and there are a lot of things that are in the mix.”

Sturgeon was warned against “over-reacting” to the general election result by Calum Kerr, one of his party’s many MPs to lose their seat to the resurgent Scottish Conservatives.

Kerr lost his Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat to the Tories’ John Lamont.

“I think that it’s important with any big event not to over-react at the time. It told of a change in voting patterns, but it is important not to over-react. The glaring imminent challenge is Brexit.

“I don’t think it changes the position we have always taken, which is about giving the people of Scotland the choice at the appropriate moment in the future.

“We know the damage that Brexit could do to our economy, so we want to focus on getting the right deal for Scotland, and as the Scottish Government’s Scotland in Europe plan said, we think the whole of the UK should stay in the single market and we gave options. So we are back to arguing that point.”

The uncertainty over Sturgeon’s position on a referendum saw her accused of a failure of leadership by the Scottish Tories.

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “In the week since the general election result, Nicola Sturgeon has shown a complete failure of leadership.

“Instead of listening to the message she was given, she has ignored people in Scotland who want her to take a second referendum off the table.

“Instead, we now face Scotland being left in limbo by a First Minister who is putting her job as SNP leader before her duty as First Minister.

“Scotland can’t be left hanging around while Nicola Sturgeon works out how to march her party faithful back down the hill. She needs to show some leadership and respond now.

“Scotland doesn’t want her referendum. Rule it out – now.”

Announcing the two-year parliamentary session, Andrea Leadsom, leader of the House of Commons, said: “Whilst our top priority right now is supporting the victims of the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower, we also need to look ahead by setting out a legislative programme that not only delivers a successful EU exit but also a domestic agenda which aims to tackle the social injustices in our country.

“The UK will spend the next two years preparing for our departure from the European Union in a way that best places us to realise the opportunities ahead and build a fairer society.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479025.1497730878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479025.1497730878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes a photograph as she joins people at Glasgow Women's Library on Saturday.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon takes a photograph as she joins people at Glasgow Women's Library on Saturday.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479025.1497730878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1497025784981"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/dup-insists-it-will-defend-union-in-deal-with-tories-1-4479037","id":"1.4479037","articleHeadline": "DUP insists it will defend Union in deal with Tories","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1497731832000 ,"articleLead": "

DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson has vowed his party will “unashamedly promote the Union” as talks continue with Conservatives to give Theresa May a majority.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479036.1497731836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Democratic Unionist Party politician Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

With the DUP expected to prop up the Prime Minister, and Nicola Sturgeon continuing her plans for another independence referendum, Donaldson underlined his party’s commitment to the United Kingdom.

Donaldson acknowledged that the talks were being conducted on a UK basis and are not specifically about Scotland.

But he added: “We will be defending the United Kingdom. We are Unionists at the end of the day, but we are dealing with national matters, not Scottish issues.

“But we are a Unionist party and at the end of the day we want what is best for the United Kingdom, including Scotland. We will unashamedly promote our Unionism.”

The SNP has deep reservations about the UK government working with the hardline Unionist party and yesterday called for any deal to be “transparent and open”.

The Prime Minister requires the support of the DUP’s ten MPs to get legislation through parliament. The details of a deal are not expected to be thrashed out before this week’s Queen’s Speech.

The DUP has indicated it will back the Queen’s Speech when it is heard in parliament on Wednesday.

Signs are that the DUP will seek extra cash for Northern Irish infrastructure projects, a demand which has led to SNP fears that other devolved nations in the UK could miss out on extra funding.

Under normal circumstances any increase in cash to Northern Ireland would be accompanied by similar injections to Scotland and Wales under the Barnett Formula, the mechanism that determines how much money devolved countries receive.

Sturgeon has also expressed her concern, claiming the DUP and UK government were heading for a “grubby deal”.

Even though the SNP has in the past talked about dealing with the DUP, Sturgeon said she was anxious about the impact an agreement would have on the Northern Irish peace process.

Deidre Brock, the SNP’s Northern Ireland spokesperson, said: “Any deal between a weakened Tory government and the DUP must be transparent and open.

“SNP MPs will always work with other parties in support of progressive policies across the UK but we will demand full scrutiny and transparency over any confidence and supply arrangement.

“On issues affecting Scotland such as the impact of the threat to the Barnett formula, SNP MPs will fight for Scotland to get every penny that Scotland is entitled to. However, this will be the first real test of other MPs from Scotland to see if they have the guts to do the same.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4479036.1497731836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4479036.1497731836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Democratic Unionist Party politician Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Democratic Unionist Party politician Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4479036.1497731836!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}