{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/alex-salmond-indyref2-will-come-right-as-brexit-goes-wrong-1-4510995","id":"1.4510995","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond: Indyref2 will come right as Brexit goes wrong","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500699600000 ,"articleLead": "

IndyRef2 will come right because Brexit will go wrong, says Alex Salmond.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4510994.1500662004!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond spoke to Ian Swanson ahead of his sold out Fringe show. Picture: Greg Mavean"} ,"articleBody": "

The former First Minister claims Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy for a second referendum would have succeeded if it had not been for the general election.

But he claims Theresa May has put UK negotiators in an “impossible position” because of the way she is handling withdrawal from the European Union, paving the way for Indyref2.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening News, Mr Salmond said Brexit Secretary David Davis, who is leading negotiations for the UK, was “the best of the Brexiteers by a distance” but had the cards stacked against him in the talks with European chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

“Thanks to Theresa May they have managed to manoeuvre themselves into a position of extraordinary weakness - there is a deadline negotiation, which when the clock ticks to midnight the UK loses. When you’re in that negotiation you effectively cannot win a good deal because every card is on Barnier’s side of the table.

“They have invoked Article 50 without having any guarantee what the safety net or the interim position will be. It’s the most foolhardy, stupid thing to do and puts any negotiator in an impossible position.

“The only way they are going to get anything is if M Barnier takes pity on them.”

He said the correct strategy would have been to insist on knowing what the transitional position would be before triggering Article 50.

“Now we’ve got the Chancellor demanding a transitional position as part of the negotiations - so to get that you’re going to have to give away something.

“The only people who are enthusiastic about this are people like Michael Gove, who want to sabotage the whole thing, walk away from the table and have a hard Brexit because he has some belief everything will be all right on the night.”

Mr Salmond, who stepped down as First Minister after the 2014 independence referendum failed to produce a Yes vote, backed Ms Sturgeon over her decision in March to launch a bid for a second referendum.

“Nicola decided they were pulling the trigger on Article 50 and she had to go for the referendum - clearly she wasn’t to know there was going to be a general election,” he said.

“If she had know there was going to be a general election her timing would have been different.

“She had developed a strategy - which I think would have been successful - which was based on the period leading up to Brexit to persuade people the referendum was the right course of action to take in view of what was happening - which would have stood the test of time, which would have developed as an argument, which would have become stronger and stronger - and then found herself fighting on it much earlier than she expected.

“So the timing was very bad for the SNP, but that’s just one of these things in politics. You know the right thing to do, often, but the timing is the issue. You can predict many things in politics but the idea the PM was going to do something politically suicidal was not among Nicola’s predictions.”

But he remains optimistic. “Indyref 2 will come right because Brexit will go wrong,” he declares. “If you believe as I do that Brexit will go wrong, it’s only question of how wrong it’s going to go and if Indyref2 comes right the only question is how right it’s going to be.

“I like the language of describing it as an insurance policy. That seems to me a sensible way to explain why we have that key in the locker.”

After losing his seat at the general election Mr Salmond has made clear he wants to get back into parliament - and that could be either Westminster or Holyrood.

He returned to the Commons at the 2015 general election when all the polls indicated no party would win an overall majority.

“I hoped and believed in 2015 we would have a hung parliament which would have been a tremendous opportunity. If you look just now at how the Tories are having to bend the knee to the DUP for £1 billion - that’s ten DUP MPs.

“If it had been a hung parliament in 2015 you can imagine what 56 SNP MPs might have achieved for Scotland.”

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: ‘merchants of doom’ were wrong about recession

‘Scottish Tories have peaked’

Despite winning 13 seats north of the border at the general election, Mr Salmond believes the Scottish Tories are already in decline.

“They’re already going backwards and the next few months will demonstrate it,” he said.

“The Tories have peaked and are now going down.”

Pointing to the £1 billion deal Theresa May did with the ten-strong DUP to overcome her lack of a majority in the Commons, he said: “If each DUP MP is worth £100m, then each Scottish Tory is worth absolutely zero.

“The contrast between the effectiveness of the DUP in extorting cash and investment for Northern Ireland and the total, complete and utter ineptitude of the Scottish Conservatives in getting anything for Scotland is one which will take a bit of explaining.”

He said for the SNP, the challenge from Labour will be more serious.

“Luckily for us, Scottish Labour is the least of the challenge - but the challenge from Corbyn Labour is one which is substantial and will have to be met.”

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: ‘Donald Trump rang to call me a has been’

‘Every performance will be different’

He’s turned down I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but he’s all set for a 15-day run on the Fringe.

And more than 75 per cent of the tickets for Alex Salmond Unleashed have already been snapped up.

Mr Salmond says the lunchtime show in the ballroom of the Assembly Rooms in George Street (August 13-27) will be about “politics, sport, life, showbiz” and is promising stories from behind the scenes, but insists he is not out to “dish the dirt” on anyone.

“Every single performance will be different,” he says.

The shows will start with Mr Salmond offering his insider insights, followed by a 20-minute interview with a different special guest each day, ten minutes for the audience to ask questions, a musical interlude, a five-minute spot from a comedienne and a charity auction before Mr Salmond wraps up with a few more thoughts.

American president Donald Trump is likely to feature in some of the tales.

“There’s a fund of stories about The Donald that I haven’t told before. I don’t think people will be surprised by them in the sense that his character is now being exposed for the world to see, but they might be quite amused by them, just the extent of the man’s buffoonery.

“Before he found social media he used to send you what can only be described as poison pen letters - capital letters, green ink - which used to come rattling into Bute House on a daily basis. It was written versions of what he now does online.”

‘Corbyn would make a better Prime Minister than May’

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn would make a better prime minister than Theresa May, according to Alex Salmond.

“I’ve always had a much higher opinion of Jeremy Corbyn than other people,” he said. “I was constantly saying to people on my radio show you mustn’t under-rate this guy.

“He entered parliament the same day I did in 1987 and I’ve known him all that time. You don’t stay in parliament for 30 years if you’re a numpty.

“The picture of him as a numpty on the one hand or some vile terrorist on the other was extremely foolish because it would backfire. And it did backfire and I’m glad it backfired.”

Like Mr Salmond, Mr Corbyn is appearing at the Fringe - in a one-off show with Susan Morrison.

“I don’t think Jeremy is a natural comedy turn,” he said.

How about a natural for Number Ten?

“Jeremy Corbyn, in my view, would be a better prime minister than Theresa May,” he said.

“Now that’s not setting the bar particularly high. And I think Jeremy would find difficulties in being prime minister, not because of lack of political belief or because he’s a daft person because he’s not .

“He would come up against pretty substantial forces and he would be leading a cabinet without any substantial experience. I’ve done that in 2007 and it can be done, but he would find it tough going I think.

“But for all that I think he would make a better prime minister than Theresa May because he has a core of belief that would stand him in good stead.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "IAN SWANSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4510994.1500662004!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4510994.1500662004!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond spoke to Ian Swanson ahead of his sold out Fringe show. Picture: Greg Mavean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond spoke to Ian Swanson ahead of his sold out Fringe show. Picture: Greg Mavean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4510994.1500662004!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4510998.1500662007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4510998.1500662007!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond speaks to Evening News political editor Ian Swanson ahead of his sold out Fringe show. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond speaks to Evening News political editor Ian Swanson ahead of his sold out Fringe show. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4510998.1500662007!/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/keith-howell-independence-in-the-eu-will-catch-sturgeon-out-people-don-t-want-either-1-4509469","id":"1.4509469","articleHeadline": "Keith Howell: Independence in the EU will catch Sturgeon out – people don’t want either","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500626211000 ,"articleLead": "

Dinah Washington sang ‘What a difference a day makes’ in 1959, popularising a song which went on to be covered by many artists, right up to the present day.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4509468.1500626192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon finds herself in a predicament, says Keith Howell. Picture: SWNS."} ,"articleBody": "

In 1964, Harold Wilson was credited with the political equivalent with the oft-repeated phrase about the vagaries of political fortunes, ‘a week is a long time in politics’.

Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon had such sentiments in mind when she made her recent indyref2 statement, feeling that another year or so would be plenty of time to turn round the predicament she finds herself in.

Last year, after the EU referendum result, she set the wheels in motion for a second independence referendum before it was clear if people wanted it, or that they would support it in greater numbers. Since then, neither the electorate’s reluctance to go through another ­referendum, or the current negative public perception of the SNP’s ten years in office, looks to be showing any signs of change. The SNP has developed a reputation for the divisiveness of its independence drive, whilst at the same time overseeing a demonstrable fall in the standards of Scottish education. Meanwhile, it continues to stir grievance over anything the UK government does or plans, most particularly on Brexit.

Any political party in power for ten years would struggle to ­disguise its shortcomings. The SNP is no exception. The evidence of the SNP government’s poor performance is clear across aspects of education, healthcare, and the economy, along with very specific concerns such as EU agricultural payment delays, problems with the Curriculum for Excellence and the ill-judged Named Person scheme.

These matters will require a total commitment to turn around, whereas the First Minister is reluctant to give such an undistracted focus. Instead, she appears most energised about using Brexit as a lever to break apart from the rest of the UK.

Every day of the coming year brings us closer to the promised autumn 2018 update from the First Minister about her specific plans for a referendum rerun.

This will presumably be ­proposed as a stark choice between a post-Brexit UK versus prospective independent EU membership. Yet there is no sign that the SNP intend meanwhile to reveal either how they would overcome the UK government’s rejection of a referendum rerun before the 2021 Holyrood elections, or how they would intend to deal with the economic practicalities of securing EU membership.

The fundamental conundrum appears to be that while Brexit is judged by the SNP as a means to engineer independence, the hoped for future EU membership would likely entail unpalatable economic medicine, in terms of currency and restructuring of public finances, that the people of Scotland would not be prepared to stomach.

Keith Howell is a business consultant. He lives in West Linton, Peeblesshire, and blogs on www.nupateer.com.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4509468.1500626192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4509468.1500626192!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon finds herself in a predicament, says Keith Howell. Picture: SWNS.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon finds herself in a predicament, says Keith Howell. Picture: SWNS.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4509468.1500626192!/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/tributes-to-giant-of-scots-law-lord-mccluskey-1-4509947","id":"1.4509947","articleHeadline": "Tributes to ‘giant of Scots law’ Lord McCluskey","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500584215000 ,"articleLead": "

Tributes have been paid to Lord McCluskey, a former high court judge, Labour peer and Scotsman columnist, whose death was announced on Thursday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4509945.1500584664!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lord McCluskey at home in Edinburgh in 2010. Picture: Mike Day"} ,"articleBody": "

Described as “a giant of Scots law” by Gordon Jackson QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, John Herbert McCluskey had one of the most distinguished legal careers of the late 20th century.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described him as “one of the outstanding Scots lawyers of his generation”.

McCluskey served as Solicitor General for Scotland from 1974 to 1979 and as a Senator of the College of Justice from 1984 to 2004.

He then conducted a high-profile inquiry on the relationship between Scotland’s courts and the UK Supreme Court.

He concluded that only those cases of “general public importance” should be taken to the Supreme Court. “The UK and Scottish governments accepted entirely what we decided, which was very satisfactory,” he later said.

Born in 1929, the son of a solicitor, McCluskey graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1952 and was admitted to the Faculty of Adocates three years later.

By the time he was appointed Solicitor General in 1974 on the recommendation of Harold Wilson’s Government he had already made a name for himself as one of the brightest brains at the bar.

McCluskey famously represented Paul McCartney in 1972 after the former Beatle had been charged with a number of offences, including growing cannabis, on his Machrihanish farm. The trial was to take place in Campbeltown.

He managed to get all but one of the charges dropped on technical grounds and the pop star pleaded guilty to growing cannabis. To the amusement of the court, the QC argued that his client had a genuine interest in horticulture and a fine of £30 was imposed.

He recalled what happened next to The Scotsman in 2005. “At the end of the hearing, Len Murray (McCartney’s solicitor) leaned over to me and said, ‘Ask for time to pay’. So I did, and the place erupted. It was the coup de thtre to the day.”

READ MORE: Then judge with a heart and a hard incisive mind

He was elevated to the peerage in 1976 and remained an active peer until earlier this year, when he retired due to ill health.

In 2005 he began writing a weekly Scotsman column and remained a regular contributor to the title for several years.

Lord McCluskey was never afraid to speak out on legal matters. In 2015, he used a Scotsman column to strongly criticise the SNP Government over its plan to abolish corroboration.

“Corroboration is not the most important issue in Scottish society; but the way in which it was treated by the legislature makes me think of the fate of the canary down the mine: when it falls from its perch, you know that it is not just the canary that is in danger,” he wrote.

In March he was given a lifetime achievement award at the Scottish Legal Awards. Speaking before the event, he said he considered his lifetime achievement to be helping safeguard the independence of the judiciary from a provision of the Scotland Bill which would have allowed Parliament to remove judges.

READ MORE: Lord McCluskey: Democracy mocked by SNP actions

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4509945.1500584664!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4509945.1500584664!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lord McCluskey at home in Edinburgh in 2010. Picture: Mike Day","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lord McCluskey at home in Edinburgh in 2010. Picture: Mike Day","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4509945.1500584664!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4509946.1500584667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4509946.1500584667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lord McLuskey in January 1985. Picture: Bill Newton/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lord McLuskey in January 1985. Picture: Bill Newton/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4509946.1500584667!/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/bill-jamieson-call-to-halt-brexit-insults-1-million-voters-1-4508776","id":"1.4508776","articleHeadline": "Bill Jamieson: call to halt Brexit insults 1 million voters","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500547642000 ,"articleLead": "

Why in Scotland do we need bother with elections? Does it matter what voters want? And who needs to show respect for their views?

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4508775.1500547628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Remainers seem determined to hold another election until the right vote prevails, says Bill Jamieson."} ,"articleBody": "

Certainly not the sixty-plus great and good Scots who signed an open letter calling for Brexit to be halted. The “disastrous consequences”, they say, are “becoming ever clearer”.

“We need,” the letter declares, “to think again about Brexit, to have a UK-wide debate about calling a halt to the process…”

The signatories include former First Minister Henry McLeish, former Nato general secretary Baron Robertson, former diplomat and author of the Article 50 clause John Kerr, and historian Tom Devine.

Then there’s the former Lib Dem leader Lord Campbell, former European Court of Justice judge Sir David Edward, former Scottish Lib Dem leader Lord (Jim) Wallace, former Scottish Secretary Baron Helen Liddell, former Conservative MEP Struan Stevenson and our very own feisty commentator Lesley Riddoch.

Let’s avoid ungracious jibes about the “former this” and ex-that” as a shroud-waving Zombie parade of Scotland’s Great Undead. These are serious people. They are deeply experienced in public life and have given years of service to this country. They are what, in a more deferential age, we would call our elders and betters. They have every right to have their views heard and they are not alone in holding them.

There’s just one thing. They’re wrong.

Give thanks that one sentiment is not in the letter - the ritual incantation that “we respect the result of the EU referendum” – a now obligatory prelude to trashing the very same.

Most Scots voted ‘Remain’. But some 40 per cent did not. And across the UK, 17 million people voted ‘Leave’, with a clear majority of more than a million in favour. Most of the signatories supported Scotland remaining in the UK and presumably have some regard for a UK-wide vote on a UK matter.

There was the Commons vote to activate Article 50 to launch the Brexit process - supported by 498 MPs, with 114 against.

Then came the UK general election. The two main parties supporting Brexit – Labour and Conservative - together secured 26.5 million votes. The parties opposed to Brexit – the SNP, the Lib Dems and the Greens – received 3.86 million.

But to the Scots worthies who signed this letter, none of this seems to matter: the wishes of voters barely register.

And why should they, if the voters were all wrong? The remedy is simple, and in the time-honoured tradition of Brussels democracy: hold another election until the ’right’ vote prevails. To assert now that we need “a UK-wide debate” overlooks the fact that we have been debating little else for more than two years. The worthies must have been out of the country for all of this long period not to notice.

The letter refers to “disastrous consequences” of Brexit, citing rising inflation, a slowing economy and falling living standards. Now it’s certainly true that business investment has been hit by uncertainty over Brexit. And the fall in the pound has contributed to a rise in prices for imported raw materials and consumer goods.

But there is no unanimity about the course of inflation – in fact, contrary to forecasts that it would hit three per cent, it fell back last month to 2.6 per cent. Fortunately, there is unanimity about the benefits of employment. It is now at an all-time high, while unemployment has fallen.

The problem with “blaming Brexit” for our economic ills cannot account for why wage growth has been sluggish long before the Brexit vote; or why the UK growth rate did not fall in tandem with Scotland’s last year; or why Scotland’s economy jumped 0.8 per cent in the first quarter – just when despair should have been setting in.

As the Fraser of Allander Institute has pointed out, there are deeper structural problems at the heart of Scotland’s economic malaise.

It is wrong to describe our condition as “disastrous”. The latest Scottish Chambers of Commerce survey findings this week for the second quarter revealed “a broadly positive story in terms of business performance across most sectors” though with warnings on potential challenges ahead.

Says Neil Amner, chair of the SCC’s economic advisory group, “Performance in the construction sector has improved since the beginning of the year, but concerns remain about the persistent negative trend in contracts from the public sector. Manufacturing businesses have again reported strong results, with evidence of a sharp increase in export revenues, possibly as a result of the exchange rate.

“The tourism sector is also looking well set for the summer, whilst key indicators in the financial and business services sector, such as profitability and employment have returned to their best levels for over two years.”

For the record, the IMF has raised its forecast for UK growth this year to two per cent. Uncertainty, yes, with difficult and complex negotiations – but “disastrous”?

Then there’s the fear – of which Scotland’s Europe minister Michael Russell makes much – that Scotland would lose powers in the event of a UK-Brussels Brexit deal.

But a report this week authored by the House of Lords EU committee concluded leaving the EU will result in a “significant increase in the powers and responsibilities of the devolved institutions”.

The Scottish Parliament has had responsibility for farming, fishing and environmental protection measures since its foundation in 1999: it jointly administers these areas inside the common European framework set by the EU.

The committee believes only a change of law setting out what powers are reserved back to Westminster before the UK officially ceases to be in the EU could stop the transfer of responsibilities to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

The committee added: “We doubt that either the UK Government or parliament has the capacity to undertake such a task [halting the transfer of responsibilities] at the same time as achieving a successful Brexit.”

And what would happen were the SNP to win a second independence referendum and applied to rejoin the EU? Would it meekly agree to hand back these powers back to Brussels? Just askin’.

Ah, a successful Brexit: whoever heard of such a thing? ‘Remainers’ never tire of declaiming that Brexit is a fatal mistake and that national humiliation awaits us. We now face a united EU calling all the shots.

But there is no unity within the EU27 as to what “the EU wants”. It is a complex construct of 28 nation states with widely different economic structures and levels of development, history and tradition, temperament and geopolitical situation. And Brussels’ answer to Brexit to foist “more Europe” on member states may well prove counterproductive.

What a more considered and thoughtful letter it would have been had the Great and the Good recommended a Norway-style arrangement for the UK inside the European Economic Area: close ties with the EU without being an EU member, and able to strike external trade deals while participating in the single market. Would this not be better suited to Scotland, while respecting voter desire for change? A more constructive alternative surely, then the utterly negative whinge of this arrogant letter.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BILL JAMIESON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4508775.1500547628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4508775.1500547628!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Remainers seem determined to hold another election until the right vote prevails, says Bill Jamieson.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Remainers seem determined to hold another election until the right vote prevails, says Bill Jamieson.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4508775.1500547628!/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-call-for-theresa-may-to-end-pension-injustice-1-4508255","id":"1.4508255","articleHeadline": "SNP call for Theresa May to end pension ‘injustice’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500466946000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP has called on Theresa May to “end the injustice” for women over 60 hit by changes to the state pension before she “thinks about retiring”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4508254.1500466931!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

SNP Westminster group leader Ian Blackford said the Prime Minister can “shake the magic money tree when she wants to” as he listed deals for Trident, Hinkley Point C and the DUP agreement.

But the Prime Minister said the Government had put £1 billion extra into the change of the state pension age so nobody’s pension age would increase by more than 18 months than was expected.

During PMQs, Mr Blackford asked Mrs May whether she believed her Government had “delivered pension fairness for women who like her were born in the 1950s?”.

READ MORE: SNP set to unveil £118bn ‘anti-austerity’ spending package

Mrs May said: “What the Government is delivering for women is a better state pension for women so that women in future will be better off under the state pension than they have been in the past.

“We are equalising the state pension age - I think across the whole House everybody will recognise that that’s the right thing to do.”

Mr Blackford continued to press the Prime Minister, and said: “The Prime Minister has found up to £35 billion for Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, up to £200 billion to replace the Trident missile system, and £1 billion for a deal with the DUP just so she can keep her own job.

READ MORE: PMQs: SNP claims Theresa May wants to ‘cut pensions’

“She seems to be able to shake the magic money tree when she wants to.

“Can the Prime Minister now end the injustice for those women who are missing out on their pensions, before she herself thinks about retiring?”

Mrs May denied that the Government had funded Hinkley Point C, saying instead that it was privately funded.

She continued: “We have put £1 billion extra into this question of the change of the state pension age, to ensure that nobody sees their state pension age increase by more than 18 months from that which was previously expected.

“But I have to also say to (Mr Blackford) that the Scottish Government of course does now have extra powers in the area of welfare and perhaps it’s about time the Scottish Government got on with the day job and stopped talking endlessly about independence.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DIANE KING"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4508254.1500466931!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4508254.1500466931!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford speaks during Prime Minister's Questions. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4508254.1500466931!/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/matt-qvortrup-constitutional-crisis-looms-over-brexit-1-4506873","id":"1.4506873","articleHeadline": "Matt Qvortrup: Constitutional crisis looms over Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500375259000 ,"articleLead": "

Crisis, what crisis? Said the late Labour prime minister, James Callaghan, in 1976 when the International Monetary Fund was called in to supervise the collapsing British economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4506872.1500375244!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A constitutional crisis could loom for the UK. Picture; PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Being oblivious to impending doom – to steadfastly refuse to see the warning signs – has been something of a British character trait since Nelson put the telescope to the blind eye during the Battle of Copenhagen.

And now we are at it again. The prospect of a showdown between Westminster and the devolved administrations over Brexit has been all but ignored by Theresa May and other senior ministers in London.

As in all other Brexit related matters, the general position is that “it will be a success”, and other prosaicisms uttered by our Prime Minister with an air of certainty that bespeaks a lack of self-confidence.

But it will take more than platitudes to avert the impending doom.

After the visits to Brussels by Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart, Carwyn Jones, it is increasingly clear that the devolved parliaments and assemblies are unlikely to agree to the terms of the Brexit divorce offered by Downing Street. So what will happen?

Constitutionally speaking the Brexit negotiations are not a devolved matter. And, legally speaking, the devolved administrations could “go whistle”, to use Boris Johnson’s not entirely helpful expression.

From the point of view of British Constitutional law – which, admittedly, is not a well-defined body of jurisprudence – Parliament in London reigns supreme and even a simple statute could (legally speaking) repeal the acts governing the devolved parliaments. If an act of parliament contradicts or clashes with The Scotland Act 1997, the latter gives way and is nullified under what technically is known as “implied repeal”.

Lack of consent from Scotland and Wales, could be ignored altogether by Westminster.

Legally speaking, there is very little the First Minister of Scotland (and her less powerful colleague in Wales) could do to stop a hard Brexit, or even a soft Brexit that transferred EU powers over fisheries back to London rather than to Edinburgh or Cardiff.

But politically speaking such a move would create a massive constitutional showdown between the devolved parliaments and Westminster.

Historically speaking, the political clash between the Tory administration and the SNP administration in Edinburgh would be similar to the crisis that erupted when the Irish nationalists won the election in 1919 and were ignored by the British.

The election victory did not give Eamon de Valera any legal or constitutional powers, but by ignoring the grievances of the Irish and by invoking constitutional principle the British suffered a moral defeat that strengthened the hitherto rather weak support for independence.

By ignoring the Scots and by using legal arguments instead of good political sense, May is in danger of creating the ideal conditions for indyref2.

Professor Matt Qvortrup is a lawyer and a political scientist at Coventry University. His book, Referendums Around The World, will be published by Palgrave in September

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4506872.1500375244!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4506872.1500375244!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A constitutional crisis could loom for the UK. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A constitutional crisis could loom for the UK. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4506872.1500375244!/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-theresa-may-must-learn-from-past-tory-mistakes-1-4505559","id":"1.4505559","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: Theresa May must learn from past Tory mistakes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500278920000 ,"articleLead": "

I sometimes wonder if the Conservative Party has a political death wish. I really do. At times throughout its history it has made significant errors of judgment that have put its future at risk, or much worse, risked the future of our country, by which I mean the United Kingdom.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4505558.1500278908!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May must learn from past mistakes on Brexit. Photo: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Readers may have their own favourites. Those older than me (a diminishing group) might think of the period of appeasement of Hitler during the Thirties or the drive to take us into the Common Market that finally bore fruit in the Seventies. I certainly would include the selling out of British fishermen and their communities that led directly to the growth of the SNP in formerly Conservative Scottish coastal constituencies, giving them a genuine beachhead from which the nationalists have advanced.

Then there was the stubborn refusal to recognise that once devolution had triumphed in the 1997 referendum and a Scottish Parliament had been delivered to the Labour and Liberal Democrat design that it made better sense to embrace that outcome and propose improvements that would make it more financially responsible and accountable for its actions. Instead of leading the charge for Holyrood to raise its own funds for its excessive spending, the Scottish Conservative leadership had to be dragged by its opponents to adopt eminently modest and sensible proposals, but only to stop the SNP.

Now the Conservative government, which by definition includes the Scotland Office led by Cabinet Minister David Mundell, seems intent on causing an almighty constitutional row that could end in in a rupture for the party and the Union. That obviously sounds a tad dramatic, but it is that serious.

Those that have followed the debate and understood the detail about the UK leaving the European Union will know that in relation to Scotland (and Wales) the legislation is particularly clear – legislative and administrative competencies that are not listed in the Scotland Act as reserved to Westminster automatically are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Note my use of the word “automatically” for it is important.

Those, such as myself, who campaigned for Scotland to leave the EU pointed to this fact as evidence that once we departed the Scottish Parliament would enjoy new powers over the management of agriculture, fisheries and various aspects of the environment, employment law and education. At the time “Remain” campaigners, including an eminent Scottish MP and QC who sat next to me on a BBC panel, denied this was true, even though it is a matter of law.

I used to enjoy teasing the SNP leaders such as Sturgeon and Salmond that they would rather Brussels would continue to have those powers than see them administered in Scotland. Subsequent to the referendum, SNP figures such as Alex Neil and Jim Sillars called upon the SNP leadership to use the result as a means to secure the powers that should be automatically devolved, rather than demanding a second independence referendum.

Unfortunately for the SNP, the sage words of Neil and Sillars were ignored. So tired did the public become of the shrill repetitiveness of Sturgeon’s indyref demands that it finally lost patience with the SNP and gave it a bloody nose in the recent general election.

Thanks to Theresa May ignoring advice that she should concede a second referendum and telling Nicola Sturgeon that now was not the right time, the platform was set for Ruth Davidson and her team to campaign on a robustly Unionist ticket. Davidson did this very well but without the strategic rebuff first executed by Theresa May she would not have been able to advance her tanks on to the SNP’s lawn.

All the while I continued to argue that May’s government should be banging the drum about how Scottish farmers and fishing communities could benefit from Brexit – and the only way to prevent this would require amendments to the Scotland Act to repeal the automatic transfer of powers.

Throughout this period neither the Scottish Conservatives or the SNP (or the other major parties for that matter) considered it an important enough issue to put at the top of the agenda. That was until last week when the UK government finally published its European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to transfer EU law into UK law but also used it as the vehicle to prevent the “automatic” passing of EU competencies that are not reserved to Westminster to the Scottish Parliament.

Before I continue. let me say that I can see good reasons for wanting to ensure that there is a common framework for legislating and administering on farming and fisheries across the UK. For instance, it is vital that any deviation in policy between the UK’s constituent nations does not discriminate or erect barriers to trade between British citizens. Scottish fishermen should have open access to all British waters just as British fishermen should have open access to all Scottish waters, so long as the regulatory requirements that are the same for all are met.

Nevertheless, I remain unconvinced there is a necessity for amendments to the Scotland Act at this stage, for this particular approach gives an opportunity for those running the Scottish and Welsh administrations who wish to stop Brexit to deny the consent of a Sewel motion as a means to halt that whole process. Even worse, it gives Nicola Sturgeon a new grievance that she can say justifies a second referendum.

Having delayed indefinitely the prospect of a further referendum, the Conservatives seem intent on snatching defeat from the jaws of that victory.

I hope I am wrong but the route that the Conservative government has taken looks certain to reignite the sense of grievance that Nicola Sturgeon so cherishes and this time it will be a tangible act that will involve debates and real votes over laws. It will be elevated into high drama and is already being branded “a power grab”. That this is being said by the very politicians who have supported giving such powers back to Brussels will not register in the sound and fury of battle.

The SNP will present Whitehall’s legalistic but naive approach as an affront to Scotland, and the Scotland Office and the Conservative government – already on the back foot after losing its parliamentary majority – will struggle to win the hearts and minds of Scotland if it is presented in such a way.

l Brian Monteith is a director of Global Britain

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Monteith"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4505558.1500278908!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4505558.1500278908!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May must learn from past mistakes on Brexit. Photo: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May must learn from past mistakes on Brexit. Photo: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4505558.1500278908!/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/eu-expert-attacks-facile-optimism-of-brexit-timetable-1-4505191","id":"1.4505191","articleHeadline": "EU expert attacks ‘facile optimism’ of Brexit timetable","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1500157519000 ,"articleLead": "

A leading expert in EU law yesterday claimed Theresa May’s Brexit Bill would struggle to deliver EU withdrawal as he accused UK ministers of profoundly misunderstanding the legal challenges ahead of them.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4505190.1500149193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir David Edward at his home in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

Sir David Edward, a former judge at the European Court of Justice, said it was “facile optimism” to think the legal challenges posed by Brexit would be overcome within the March 2019 deadline for leaving the bloc.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday after the Brexit or so-called Repeal Bill was unveiled last week, Edward said the legislation was “full of gaps” and was not a suitable vehicle for dealing with the complexities of Brexit.

“The Brexit Bill demonstrates that the true ghastliness of the legal problems is unimaginable,” Edward said.

“It is just facile optimism to imagine that all the legal obstacles and problems can be overcome in this way and in this timescale.”

As a former European judge Edward is recognised as one of the foremost experts in European law. He is also Emeritus Professor of Law at Edinburgh University and is one of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s advisers on her Standing Council on Europe.

Last Thursday the UK government published the 66-page EU (Withdrawal) Bill that will repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 and bring decades of EU law on to the UK statute book.

The legislation is designed to bring EU law into UK law and create a working statute book to ensure that the UK’s exit is legally watertight and as seamless as possible.

But Edward claimed the UK government had misunderstood the nature of EU treaties and failed to take into account the complicated reciprocal rights that have developed across all countries in the EU.

“The Bill is full of gaps,” said Edward. “The basic problem is that the British government has failed to understand that the EU treaties are not normal international treaties. They create a complex skein of reciprocal rights and obligations for the member states and their nationals – including companies and partnerships as well as individuals.

“It is not just a matter of converting treaty rights and obligations into British law. For example, the rights of other EU nationals in this country are exactly the same as the rights of British nationals in other member states, and you can’t reproduce that mirror image of rights simply by changing British law.”

Edward argued that the many rights for citizens across the EU were tied in with the “four freedoms” which underpin the single market – the freedom of movement of goods, people, services and capital across borders.

The complicated nature of these rights for individuals and companies across the EU meant they could not be used as a negotiating card in the Brexit talks.

“The government has treated citizens’ rights as a matter of immigration law. They have nothing to do with immigration law,” Edward said.

“For example, the local representatives of British companies in Germany can take their spouse or partner and children, and even grandparents if they are dependent on the family. They are all entitled to education, social security and health facilities.

“They have a right to remain in Germany and their rights are the same as those of the representative of a German company in Britain.

“The British government proceeds on the assumption that this is an intergovernmental issue. It is not. Governments can’t trade the rights of EU citizens for access to bully beef.”

The publication of the Brexit Bill led to warnings of a constitutional crisis after Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones said they could not support it.

The prospect of the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly withholding consent for the legislation was raised when Sturgeon and Jones described the bill as a “naked power grab”. They complained that the devolved institutions in Edinburgh and Cardiff had been overlooked in the transfer of powers from Europe to Westminster.

Writing in today’s Scotland on Sunday (see opposite), the constitutional expert Matt Qvortrup warns that the clash between Holyrood and Westminster has the potential to become the greatest constitutional crisis since Irish independence just after the Great War.

Yesterday Scotland’s Brexit minister Michael Russell urged MSPs from other parties to back calls for changes to the Repeal Bill to guarantee protection for devolved powers.

“The First Minister has already called on Members of the Scottish Parliament to join us now, with no equivocation, to back demands for the democratically elected Scottish Government to be at the table in the UK’s Brexit negotiating strategy.

“But we also need to make a stand against the UK government retaining powers that rightfully should come to Scotland once repatriated from the EU,” said Russell.

Scotland on Sunday understands that the UK government remains hopeful that a constitutional crisis will be averted. Behind the scenes, the UK government believes the Scottish Government privately accepts it makes sense to deal with some regulatory issues on a UK wide basis and will eventually be reluctant to turn down a more powers package.

A spokeswoman for the UK government’s Department for Exiting the European Union said: “The very purpose of the Repeal Bill is to make sure the law continues to work properly on the day we leave the European Union. It means we will have a functioning statute book, and ensures that our sovereign parliament, and in some cases the devolved legislatures, can make any future changes.

“The Repeal Bill means the UK will be able to exit the EU with certainty, continuity and control. That is what the British people voted for and that is what we will deliver.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4505190.1500149193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4505190.1500149193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir David Edward at his home in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir David Edward at his home in Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4505190.1500149193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon/nicola-sturgeon-tells-eu-negotiator-scots-fear-extreme-brexit-1-4502926","id":"1.4502926","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon tells EU negotiator Scots fear \"extreme Brexit\"","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499947030000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has told the EU's head Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that she wants Scotland to avoid an \"extreme Brexit\" and stay in the European single market.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480369.1499947019!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the EU's head Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The two leaders held a 45 minute discussion in Brussels this morning. Mr Barnier also met with the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones.

\"This was a useful and constructive meeting and I welcomed the opportunity to discuss Scotland’s priorities with Mr Barnier - in particular our view that the UK should seek to remain in the single market,\" Ms Sturgeon said afterwards.

READ MORE: Great Repeal Bill: No new powers for Scotland after Brexit

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to meet EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier

“I outlined to Mr Barnier that our priority is to protect Scotland’s vital economic interests, and that the Scottish Government will do all it can to build a consensus against an extreme Brexit outside the single market, which would have potentially catastrophic consequences for jobs, investment and our living standards.\"

Mr Barnier has stressed he will only negotiate with the UK Government.

\"We have always been clear that this is not about holding separate Scottish negotiations – it is for the UK as the member state to negotiate with the EU – and as such we will continue to work hard to influence the UK position. However, meetings like this are helpful in developing a mutual understanding between the Scottish Government and the EU as these vital negotiations gather pace.\"

Mr Barnier said Britain must offer more clarity on its position on the ''divorce bill'' financial settlement with the EU - as well as the status of expat citizens and the nature of the future border with the Republic of Ireland - if it is to make progress towards a deal on trade arrangements after Brexit.

Scottish Labour's Europe spokesman Lewis Macdonald MSP said: “Unlike the Tories, Labour wants a jobs-first Brexit that will prioritise the economy, jobs and living standards - and that is what Jeremy Corbyn will outline when he meets Mr Barnier.

“Nicola Sturgeon should join this fight for a fair Brexit rather than simply using this process to agitate for independence.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4480369.1499947019!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4480369.1499947019!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the EU's head Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the EU's head Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4480369.1499947019!/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/edinburgh-festival-fringe-shows-that-will-tackle-indyref2-1-4496823","id":"1.4496823","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows that will tackle indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499946986000 ,"articleLead": "

At the febrile height of the Indyref campaign in August of 2014, the Edinburgh Fringe became a hotbed of political debate, humour, and even controversy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been given a boost by the figures. Photo: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

There were all manner of political shows, comics of all hues squeezed in a mention or endorsement, and the No campaign even claimed that the traditional mass throng on a festival day on the Royal Mile was in fact a crowd turning out to see Jim Murphy.

But Scotland’s premier Arts event has always had a political tinge, and with Brexit, a minority Government, and even another potential referendum all dominating the political landscape, this year will prove no exception.

There seems to be less obvious independence themed material at this year’s Fringe and International Festival, but that doesn’t mean it will go unmarked, even as Nicola Sturgeon’s tears up her previous timetable for a second vote.

We look at just some of the shows that will feature the issue prominently.

Fred MacAulay: IndyFred2

Criminally underused on the ever expanding comedy panel show circuit, Fred MacAulay remains one of Scotland’s most popular comedians.

Having honed his presenting skills on his much-loved radio show MacAulay and Co, the Perth native has returned to his first love.

Based in Glasgow, the stand-up will make the journey every day to the capital to deliver his hour-long show that will focus on part on the continued fallout from the independence referendum and the possibility of another vote.

Approaching his 30th anniversary of performing at the fringe, MacAulay’s show is billed as “Part political, part topical, always, always funny.”

At the Stand Comedy Club, August 2, 4-13, 15-17, 20-27. Ages 16 and over.

Janey Godley: For Godley’s Sake

Called “The sharpest elbowed comedian in the world” by the New York Times, and, in rather more colourful terms, a “f***ing great comedian” by Billy Connolly, Godley is clearly no shrinking violet.

A fringe stalwart, Godley is giving something back to the less fortunate this year, by hosting a free show nightly that will see patrons put in voluntary donations.

READ MORE: Festival to showcase Alliance of Defiance

The show features Godley and her comedian daughter Ashley Storrie,who went viral with her Scottish Harry Potter sketch last year.

Godley is fiercely political, an independence backer, and this will surely feature in a show that is conscientious at heart, with Godley proclaiming: “Nobody should be too poor to see comedy. If you are skint DO NOT put a penny in that bucket.”

The duo are now famous for their political voiceovers, dubbing themselves over set piece speeches by the nation’s great and good – whether that could feature at the Fringe remains a mystery.

At the Three sisters, nightly from August 3 – August 27.

In Conversation with David Hayman

Salt n Sauce Promotions In Conversation With... series runs throughout the festival and features a number of prominent figures from across the UK.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Judy Murray are among those set to feature, nut the contribution of the legendary Scottish actor is most likely to touch on the independence question.

READ MORE: Irvine Welsh to reveal new play at Edinburgh Fringe

The Glasgow director and actor was a prominent backer of the Yes campaign in 2014, and has been an outspoken Independence supporter for over 20 years.

He’ll talk through his life, work, and the big political question of his lifetime in what is certain to be an engaging show.

At the New Town Theatre, August 20, one night only.

Ayesha Hazarika: State of the Nation

The former Labour adviser, who quite literally wrote the book on poor election campaigning with her Tales from the Pink Bus, has since won plaudits as a comedian.

Glasgow-born Scotsman columnist Hazarika will take her successful State of the Nation show to the fringe.

While the show’s politics will be more national, with a focus on Brexit and the flailing leadership is of Theresa May, independence is sure to feature.

Hazarika is not shy about discussing the constitutional future of her homeland, even once calling Nicola Sturgeon “The Beyonce of politics – obsessed with her independence.”

She talked about another referendum on a pre-election BBC ‘blind date’ with SNP MP Tommy Sheppard, and described their chat on independence a ‘cul-de-sac’.

At the Gilded Balloon, August 14-17, 18-20.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been given a boost by the figures. Photo: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been given a boost by the figures. Photo: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/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/tom-peterkin-theresa-may-has-no-one-to-blame-but-herself-1-4502331","id":"1.4502331","articleHeadline": "Tom Peterkin: Theresa May has no one to blame but herself","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499925434000 ,"articleLead": "

The Prime Minister is clinging to office, but her misjudgments have all but sealed her fate, writes Tom Peterkin

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4502330.1499925423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "One year on, Theresa May is a shell of the figure she once was, says Tom Peterkin. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Exactly a year ago today Theresa May presented herself to the Queen and was invited to form a government. She then stood outside Downing Street and promised to lead a “one nation” government that would represent all rather than just the “privileged few”.

At that point, the country could have been forgiven for heaving a gigantic sigh of relief. Back then, Mrs May seemed the ideal candidate to draw a line under the in-fighting that saw Michael Gove sink Boris Johnson’s leadership ambitions before falling foul of the outrage caused by his act of treachery.

READ MORE: At that point, the country could have been forgiven for heaving a gigantic sigh of relief

Whatever Mrs May lacked in charisma was offset by the feeling that here was a crafty and solid enough citizen to settle things down after David Cameron’s catastrophic European referendum gamble that cost him his career.

How things have changed. One year on, Mrs May is a shell of the figure she once was. The Prime Minister is reeling from her own catastrophic snap election gamble that has all but destroyed her credibility. Having presided over a disastrous election, she is in office but not in power. Hopes from a year ago that she would provide the ballast as the UK attempts to navigate its way through Brexit now look faintly ridiculous.

READ MORE: Bill Jamieson: Ageing population a problem bigger than Brexit

Mr Cameron and Mrs May are living proof of the perils of political gambling. But anyone still fancying a flutter may care to note that the bookies are now tipping Mrs May to leave Downing Street before the EU withdrawal date of 29 March, 2019.

Given the challenges facing the Prime Minister, it looks a safe enough bet. A series of U-turns have made a mockery of her “strong and stable government” mantra. The £1 billion deal with the DUP to shore up her weak and wobbly administration may have been the only practical option open to the Prime Minister, but it is not a good look.

And having run a dismal general election campaign that highlighted an inability to connect with the public, her bungled handling of the Grenfell fire tragedy further exposed that character flaw in the starkest possible terms.

With her party split over hard and soft Brexits, and with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour riding high in the polls, Mrs May is finding that life in Number 10 under such circumstances is a very tricky business indeed.

As if all that was not enough, there are complicating factors coming out of the blue – an obvious example being the suspension of Anne-Marie Morris for referring to leaving the EU without a deal as “the n***** in the woodpile” .

Not only were Ms Morris’s racist remarks offensive and deeply embarrassing to the party, her suspension has cut an already flimsy Tory/DUP working majority – underlining the insecurity of Mrs May’s grip on power.

As she licks her mainly self-inflicted wounds, Mrs May must be pondering her own future. How long can she remain in the hot seat?

At first glance, her deal with the DUP may seem to lack longevity. But for all its toxicity, Arlene Foster and her acolytes are technocratic politicians who will not want to cut down the magic money tree. Moreover, they are more anxious than most to avoid yet another general election in case another Corbyn surge takes the Labour leader into Downing Street.

For Ms Foster et al, their distaste for Mr Corbyn is driven by his well-documented sympathies for a united Ireland and claims he met with members of the IRA.

These are exceptionally strongly held feelings, which are likely to underpin what at first glance may appear to be a rather rocky arrangement.

Rather, those wanting to read the runes on Mrs May’s future don’t need to look much further than the grumblings of her own colleagues in the Conservatives.

Within a fractious party, the signs are not good. At the weekend it was reported that Andrew Mitchell, an ally of Brexit Secretary David Davis, had described the Prime Minister as “dead in the water” when her fate was discussed at a Tory dinner.

Rumours of plots orchestrated by the right of the party abound, expressing fears that Mrs May might end up sabotaging their dream of a hard Brexit.

Meanwhile, there is a further complication coming from the new power base established by Ruth Davidson in Scotland.

The Tory revival north of the Border and the consequent neutering of the Scottish independence threat was one of the few positives Mrs May could salvage from the wreckage of the general election.

But nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

Within hours of the general election result, an emboldened Ms Davidson – a fervent Remainer and supporter of the UK staying in the single market – indicated her preference for a soft Brexit by saying free trade should be at the heart of the EU withdrawal deal.

Having returned 13 MPs, the Scottish Tories are suddenly a force to be reckoned with, given the tightness of the parliamentary arithmetic.

Balancing these competing visions of Brexit while dealing with negotiators representing the remaining 27 EU member states would test Solomon – never mind Theresa May.

As of yet, none of those Tories touted as potential prime ministerial replacements – Boris Johnston, David Davis or Philip Hammond – has broken cover.

Such are the challenges facing the country, it suits them for Mrs May to limp on. The Prime Minister’s days may be numbered, but they are not over quite yet.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4502330.1499925423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4502330.1499925423!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "One year on, Theresa May is a shell of the figure she once was, says Tom Peterkin. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "One year on, Theresa May is a shell of the figure she once was, says Tom Peterkin. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4502330.1499925423!/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/analysis-how-big-a-boost-will-snp-gain-from-economic-figures-1-4502185","id":"1.4502185","articleHeadline": "Analysis: How big a boost will SNP gain from economic figures?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499874457000 ,"articleLead": "

For the second time in as many weeks, Scotland’s governing party is enthusiastic over economic data which shows the country performing well.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been given a boost by the figures. Photo: SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP has hailed this morning’s news that unemployment in Scotland has hit a 25-year-low as a big step forward for their plans to revive the economy.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown said that the labour market in Scotland is resilient, a word echoed by the Tories economic spokesman Dean Lockhart.

Scotland’s unemployment rate is now 3.8 per cent, lower, as Nicola Sturgeon was at pains to point out this morning, than the UK average rate of 4.5 per cent.

It’s a remarkable turnaround considering that after the General Election the political and economic debate in Scotland was starting to centre around whether the country would enter recession.

With Ms Sturgeon apparently seeking to ‘relaunch’ her tenure as First Minister over the summer, how big an impact will the continued good news have on the SNP?

A gloom lifted?

The SNP has had a rough few months.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party is still recovering from the loss of a number of key party figures after 21 of their MPs found themselves voted out by constituents.

READ MORE: How Scotland avoided recession

The General Election result followed a difficult local election, which saw them remain the largest party, but in which the Conservatives, and latterly Labour, picked up seats.

Party grandees have pointed fingers at the leadership, including Ms Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell, over the successive bad election results.

Previously, the economic data had showed Scotland, at least in the words of the SNP’s opponents, on “the brink of recession”.

The First Minister hasn’t had her problems to seek, and this news, following on from the positive GDP figures, will be a welcome relief.

A stick to beat the opposition

In political terms, the first thing that it allows the First Minister to do is to have an easy comeback ready when parliament reconvenes.

Most politicians who have had a rough few weeks would welcome the break that the Holyrood recess provides, but, armed with these figures, Ms Sturgeon may be keen to get back to the rough and tumble of First Minister’s Questions.

As Prime Minister’s Questions proved today, the incumbent Government always invites the opposition to welcome any rosy economic figures, rather than point out any potential roadblocks.

READ MORE: SNP accuse parties of being ‘desperate for recession’

Alex Salmond, somewhat off the leash following his shock loss at the recent election, has accused the opposition parties of being ‘merchants of doom’, aided by the ‘unionist media’.

Just ahead of the release of the economic data showing Scotland had outgrown the rest of the UK, the SNP similarly accused Labour and the Conservatives of being ‘desperate’ for a recession.

The SNP aren’t likely to face any elections soon, and have put plans for a second independence referendum on hold.

Holyrood will, as the opposition have demanded for months, soon return to ‘the day job’ – and this news can help put the SNP on a better footing to tackle it.

Plain sailing?

When Scotland was “on the brink of recession” - Mr Lockhart said that the SNP “had no-one to blame but themselves”.

Now that recession has been avoided, SNP figures online are gleefully sharing his comments, and with faux curiosity, wondering whether he agrees that the success is the SNP’s alone.

They have also stoked a row with the Tory-run Scotland Office, who they accuse of running a spin campaign to simultaneously talk down the growth in Scotland’s economy while seeking to claim credit for.

There is still danger in that approach, however, if the economic outlook turns negative, there could be more trouble for the SNP.

That will be even more apparent if the party looks complacency over news that is undeniably good for them.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been given a boost by the figures. Photo: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has been given a boost by the figures. Photo: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1499874446!/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-to-meet-eu-brexit-negotiator-michel-barnier-1-4501601","id":"1.4501601","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon to meet EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499858223000 ,"articleLead": "

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator will meet Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow to hear the Scottish Government’s views on Brexit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4475374.1499858175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hwill meet with the EU's Brexit neogitator. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Michel Barnier said he would meet the Scottish First Minister as well as Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones to “listen to different points of view”.

At a press conference in Brussels ahead of the next round of Brexit talks on Monday, Mr Barnier said: “Tomorrow, at their request, I will meet Jeremy Corbyn, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones.”

He stressed that negotiations would only be held with the UK Government.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to move away from indyref2 with ‘relaunch’

Mr Barnier also slapped down Boris Johnson over his claim that Brussels could “go whistle” if it expected large sums from Britain as part of the withdrawal agreement.

Asked about the Foreign Secretary’s comment, the EU chief negotiator pointedly referred to the tight deadline to reach a trade agreement ahead of the March 2019 date for Brexit, telling a Brussels press conference: “I’m not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking.”

READ MORE: SNP facing diplomatic crisis as Catalan independence vote looms

Mr Barnier said Britain must offer more clarity on its position on the “divorce bill” financial settlement with the EU - as well as the status of expat citizens and the nature of the future border with the Republic of Ireland - if it is to make progress towards a deal on trade arrangements after Brexit.

His comments came as credit ratings agency Moody’s warned that the UK’s creditworthiness was “under pressure” due to uncertainty over the result of Brexit negotiations and that Britain would face “materially weaker” growth if it failed to secure a good deal on trade.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "paris gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4475374.1499858175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4475374.1499858175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hwill meet with the EU's Brexit neogitator. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon hwill meet with the EU's Brexit neogitator. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4475374.1499858175!/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/scott-macnab-leaders-must-set-example-to-fight-social-media-abuse-1-4501118","id":"1.4501118","articleHeadline": "Scott Macnab: Leaders must set example to fight social media abuse","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499814360000 ,"articleLead": "

Extremist language from political leaders on social media erodes our values as the masses join in, writes Scott Macnab.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4501278.1499841837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Reclaim the Internet campaign aims to cut down abuse and ensure all voices can be heard online."} ,"articleBody": "

The digital technology revolution brought about by the rise of the internet and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has been hailed as a positive and liberating force in politics.

It brought about a new awakening among oppressed populations who unleashed the Arab Spring at the start of this decade.

Authoritarian regimes in North Africa were unable to cope with the blossoming sense of liberation – not to mention organisation – which the new order in communications helped drive and found themselves swept from power.

In Scotland, the independence debate in the years leading up to the referendum of 2014 were marked by the upsurge of social media platforms for political debate and as a campaign tool. Nationalists in particular viewed it as a valuable way to bypass the traditional “mainstream media” which was mostly viewed as being biased against a Yes vote.

But there are now growing concerns about the malevolent and corrosive impact of social media on the broader public debate.

READ MORE: Racist banner against Scott Sinclair ‘placed on Belfast bonfire’

The hardline abuse meted out by leading political figures and commentators online is increasingly viewed as “normalising” the level of nastiness and aggression in our lives – we’ve simply become de-sensitised as to what should be viewed as unacceptable any more.

And surely when Scots children find their daily lives poisoned by such abuse, it’s time to take stock.

A keynote report into bullying in Scotland’s schools by MSPs on Holyrood’s equalities committee last week raised worrying questions over the role of political leaders in the ways youngsters are victimised.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to move away from indyref2 with ‘relaunch’

Bullying no longer “stops at the school gate”, with the new culture of cyber abuse meaning there is little respite for victims.

And the report warned: “Recent reporting of news items in relation to terrorism, Brexit and the American presidential election have given permission and credence to views previously considered off-limits.” Now, US president Donald Trump and Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove are not solely responsible for bullying in Scotland’s “virtual” playgrounds. But the often brutal approach to Twitter confrontations is contributing to an air of “acceptability” of this.

Teachers have talked about a culture that is beginning to legitimise the view that, “Oh, I can make this sort of comment” on the basis of freedom of speech, according to Dr Rowena Arshad of Edinburgh University. She told MSPs the story of a parent who was contacted because their child was bullying other pupils, and responded: “My kid got caught. That was a bit unfortunate, but it happens in the school.” The headteacher said she did not think that she would have got such a response six months ago, but the post-Brexit, post-US election climate has changed attitudes.

Amid a continual “blurring of the boundaries” around acceptable behaviour and language, MSPs are now calling for a preventative approach to be adopted by the Scottish Government. One thing for sure is that the technology ain’t going away.

The smartphone is akin to an extra limb for youngsters and adults alike.

It can be a depressing sight to see the soaring numbers of smart phones users who resemble zombies as they wander along city streets, heads bowed and consumed by their latest notifications and updates. But this is progress and we better get used to it.

And it would be churlish to suggest its influence has been all malign.

A new passion and energy for politics has sprung up in the UK and further afield.

It has been a driving force in the rise of Jeremy Corbyn as campaign groups like Momentum mobilise a new generation of left-wing activism which has propelled the once-unfancied Labour leader ahead in the polls. But the party’s former Cabinet minister Yvette Cooper, a firm critic of Corbyn, warned in a speech at the weekend of the damaging impact on wider society as “abuse and vitriol” which belongs at the margins of political debate is instead pushed “right to its heart”. Ms Cooper, a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury, fears the impact of the US president’s online activity – as he attacks targets including broadcasters and the judiciary – branding this the “bully pulpit of the most powerful man in the world”.

This is then echoed and amplified by online cheerleaders. And it all become the new backdrop of politics.

The problem is, says Cooper, that we’re forgetting to be disturbed any more. We’re treating this as the new normal, with outrage at it seen as being “overblown”.

In fact, what is being “normalised” is the undermining of our democratic values, with an escalating hatred and contempt for others. It has even prompted the launch of a Reclaim the Internet campaign, based on the Reclaim the Night movement of the 1980s, which is aimed at ensuring that all voices can be heard and abuse is called out at every opportunity.

The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg and the corporation itself has been in the frontline of attacks from Corbyn supporters amid anger over the coverage of the Labour leader.

This has echoes of the sustained pressure which Beeb bosses came under during the referendum campaign in Scotland with marches on its Pacific Quay headquarters not an uncommon sight as Alex Salmond took umbrage at the treatment of some story or other about the referendum. Salmond was at it again last week, criticising the BBC for having temerity to devote some coverage to the prospect of Scotland’s economy facing the prospect of falling into recession.

Thankfully it never happened.

But with Salmond presumably now focusing on rehearsals for his Edinburgh Fringe Festival chatshow, a more statesmanlike contribution to the broader political debate in Scotland came from his SNP colleague, Alyn Smith MEP, who called for all parties to adopt an online code of conduct to combat the digital abuse which threats to poison engagement in Scotland.

As the younger generation bears the brunt of this language of extremism, it is initiatives such as these, to “reclaim” the social media arena for tolerance and respect, which must be welcomed and encouraged.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4501278.1499841837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4501278.1499841837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A Reclaim the Internet campaign aims to cut down abuse and ensure all voices can be heard online.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A Reclaim the Internet campaign aims to cut down abuse and ensure all voices can be heard online.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4501278.1499841837!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon/nicola-sturgeon-to-move-away-from-indyref2-with-relaunch-1-4500445","id":"1.4500445","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon to move away from indyref2 with 'relaunch'","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499766118000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is planning a ‘relaunch’ of her government in response to the SNP’s disappointing general election result, according to reports.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4500444.1499766108!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister and her advisers are said to be considering a series of ‘radical’ policies on local government, the economy and the environment in an attempt to shake off perceptions that she has been preoccupied with the push for a second independence referendum.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond Unleashed: Former FM to star in Fringe show

Last month Ms Sturgeon abandoned a timetable that could have seen indyref2 take place as early as autumn 2018, and delayed Holyrood legislation on a second referendum.

However, she said a new vote on Scotland’s future would be considered once the UK’s Brexit deal was done.

READ MORE: Donald Trump to ‘visit UK in 2018’

The Times reported that new policies would seek to “reinvigorate” the SNP. There has also been speculation about a possible cabinet reshuffle that was reported to have been planned for the spring, before it was delayed due to the election.

Plans are set to be unveiled when MSPs return from their summer recess, according to the report.

They are said to include plans for greater devolution at a local level, handing powers currently held by councils to community councillors or other local groups.

Ministers are not thought to be considering merging any of Scotland’s 32 local authorities.

Plans are also said to include new measures to boost energy efficiency of homes, and curb the use of diesel engine vehicles in cities.

Last month Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: \"Of course any government after ten years needs to take stock and to refresh. Over this summer, as we prepare our next programme for government and our budget for the year ahead, that is exactly what we will do.

\"We will set out afresh our vision for the country that we lead, together with the creative, imaginative, bold and radical policies that, as far as is possible within the current powers that are available to us, will help us to realise that bold, ambitious vision for Scotland.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4500444.1499766108!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.png","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4500444.1499766108!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4500444.1499766108!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.png","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/analysis-how-big-a-problem-are-cybernats-for-the-snp-1-4500179","id":"1.4500179","articleHeadline": "Analysis: How big a problem are ‘cybernats’ for the SNP?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499711903000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has called for a new code of conduct in his party to crack down on so-called cybernats and their Unionist equivalents.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4500178.1499712425!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP MEP Alyn Smith has called for activists from all parties to clamp down on online abuse"} ,"articleBody": "

As a senior figure in the party - he ran unsuccessfully for the party’s deputy leadership last year - his comments carry weight.

The SNP has suspended members in the past over the issue, but there doesn’t appear to be specific guidelines from the party over how individual members should conduct themselves on social media.

“I would like to see a specific code of conduct in my own party with four or five simple points that everyone agrees on, including a ban on the kind of anonymous accounts which seem to enable people to be so unpleasant,” Smith said.

Some in the the party still think its reputation for being home to a not insignificant minority of online trolls is unearned.

Others are acutely aware that while not every incident costs votes, an accumulation is potentially damaging to the party’s reputation in the medium to long term.

But how big a problem are so-called cybernats?

A potted history

Even before the days of Twitter, political blogs and messageboards of all stripes were often awash with distasteful comments. Not much has changed in that regard.

Pro-independence writiers and activists, some disdainful of the ‘mainstream media’, were early adopters of blogging and social media. Even before the SNP’s breakthrough election win in 2007, there were several Nationalist blogs and email briefings with enthusiastic followings. While some were more considered than others, it didn’t take long for rival parties to flag up examples of abuse.

The term ‘cybernat’ - combining the traditional pejorative term for an SNP supporter with a digital flourish - is believed to have been coined by Labour peer and former MSP Lord George Foulkes. It’s a term the Twitter-savvy Lord still uses, and his fellow pro-union politicians aren’t shy about using the tag.

In 2015, Labour went as far as publishing a dossier which listed as many as 50 so-called clybernats.

The document listed numerous tweets denouncing supporters of the Union as “quislings” and “traitors”.

Candidates and MPs

Alyn Smith wasn’t talking about his fellow parliamentarians when he called for a code of conduct. But elected represnativies have caused controversy for online posts.

Some of the more colourful members, and former members, of parliament, were far from shy about sharing memes that more considered SNP politicians like Smyth and Nicola Sturgeon wouldn’t dream of tweeting.

Pete Wishart, recently re-elected as an MP by a wafer-thin margin, was criticised during the election campaign for sharing a graphic on Twitter which marked out unionist parties as being varying degrees of ‘wanker’.

And former MP Paul Monaghan shared a video which claimed the BBC weather map was a conspiracy to make Scotland appear smaller. He was also criticised for appearing to encourage the work of a racist cybernat who he had told to ‘keep it up’.

Perhaps the most high-profile example was the 2015 SNP candidate for Edinburgh South, Neil Hay. He was revealed as a prolific tweeter who went by the moniker ‘Paco McSheeple’

While it is difficult to quantify, his unmasking was considered by some senior SNP activists as having a role in his eventual defeat at the election.

Perspective and the future

Of course, examples of poor online behaviour are not limited to the SNP. Smith’s call was aimed at activists of all political parties.

And many SNP politicians, especially female ones, have been victims themselves of hateful language and abuse.

As the survival of MPs like Pete Wishart shows, it is also possible to indulge in provocative online comments and still win elections.

But to simply assert that the SNP hasn’t had its problems to seek with anonymous (and subsequently unmasked) members online would be churlish.

That’s something that Smyth clearly recognises. With the SNP hopeful of staging a second independence referendum in the near future, it’s a problem worth tackling.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4500178.1499712425!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4500178.1499712425!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP MEP Alyn Smith has called for activists from all parties to clamp down on online abuse","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP MEP Alyn Smith has called for activists from all parties to clamp down on online abuse","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4500178.1499712425!/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/poll-majority-of-scots-firms-want-uk-in-single-market-1-4499462","id":"1.4499462","articleHeadline": "Poll: Majority of Scots firms want UK in single market","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499677336000 ,"articleLead": "

The majority of Scottish businesses want the UK to stay in the European single market and the customs union after Brexit, a survey has found.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454404.1499677326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The majority of Scottish businesses want the UK to remain in the single market, a new survey has found. Pic: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The British Chambers of Commerce spoke to 2,422 businesses across the UK between June 12 and 14, including 445 in Scotland.

It found that 61 per cent of Scottish respondents believe the UK should remain in both the single market and the customs union, compared with 53 per cent of respondents across the UK.

Meanwhile, 68 per cent of Scottish and UK respondents believe there should be a transition period of at least three years following the UK’s exit in March 2019.

READ MORE: {http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-catalan-independence-movement-poses-dilemma-for-snp-1-4499230 Lesley Riddoch: Catalan independence movement poses dilemma for SNP}

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the survey was evidence of the business community’s desire for stability in terms of its trading relationship with Europe, regardless of the state of negotiations by the end of the two-year negotiating period.

She said: “Scottish businesses value our trading links with the European Union, as they do with our other major trading partners, and this survey shows that businesses are serious about maintaining a relationship with Europe that continues to enable them to trade as easily as possible, with no financial tariffs and an absolute minimum of regulatory barriers.

“The EU may have fallen behind the rest of the world in terms of the value of Scotland’s exports but it remains a vital export destination, particularly as Scotland seeks to grow the number of businesses trading internationally.

“This survey also clearly shows that Scottish businesses do not want to be facing a cliff edge in two years’ time when the UK will leave the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

“The vast majority of business people who responded to this survey felt that a transitional period of at least three years would be appropriate in order to allow trade to continue as normal until a deal is struck to govern our future trading relationship with the EU.

“If Scotland and the UK’s economic needs are to be satisfied, then business must be listened to during these crucial negotiations.”

The UK Government wants to leave both the single market and the customs union under Brexit.

Brexit Secretary David Davis previously indicated the UK would be out of both by March 2019, with any transitional period at the end of the two-year negotiations not involving temporary membership.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LYNSEY BEWS"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4454404.1499677326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4454404.1499677326!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The majority of Scottish businesses want the UK to remain in the single market, a new survey has found. Pic: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The majority of Scottish businesses want the UK to remain in the single market, a new survey has found. Pic: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4454404.1499677326!/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/senior-snp-mep-calls-for-cybernat-crackdown-1-4499452","id":"1.4499452","articleHeadline": "Senior SNP MEP calls for ‘cybernat’ crackdown","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499674959000 ,"articleLead": "

A senior SNP politician has called on his party’s leadership to crackdown on members with anonymous ‘cybernat’ social media accounts.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4499453.1499675242!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alyn Smith MEP has put forward plans for a new internet code of conduct. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Alyn Smith MEP has put forward plans for a new internet code of conduct for Scottish Nationalists and urged other political parties to follow his lead in the hope it will curb Scotland’s tribal and often vicious social media arguments.

Mr Smith’s comments come after the real identities of some “cybernats” - the nickname for abusive independence supporters online - and their unionist counterparts were exposed after a series of scandals on Twitter and Facebook.

Speaking to The Herald , The MEP said: “I would like to see a specific code of conduct in my own party with four or five simple points that everyone agrees on, including a ban on the kind of anonymous accounts which seem to enable people to be so unpleasant.

“I also think all the parties, either through their leaders or their chief executives, could sign some kind of code of online decency. As an out-gay pro-European nationalist I am no stranger to abuse but I am fed up of whataboutery from one side or another.”

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Catalan independence movement poses dilemma for SNP

All of Scotland’s political parties already have codes of conduct they can use to discipline members, who bring them in to disrepute.

Mr Smith said specific rules should be adopted for how people behave on social media platforms.

His calls come after the Conservatives in May were forced to act against two newly elected Stirling councillors. Alastair Majury and Robert Davies were investigated by the Scottish Conservatives over comments made from social media accounts.

Councillor Davies has been accused of sending racist posts from a Twitter account in 2013. The account was subsequently deleted.

The Scottish Catholic Observer reported that a Twitter account previously used by Mr Majury under the name Mulder1981 made reference to “Tarriers”, a historically derogatory name for Catholics.

In the 2015 general election, the SNP candidate for Edinburgh South, Neil Hay, was revealed as the anonymous Twitter profile called Paco McSheepie which suggested unionists were “quislings”, a term for Nazi collaborators. Mr Hay went on to lose at the election. Another senior SNP activist was revealed as being behind attacks on the late Liberal Democrat MP Charlie Kennedy.

Responding to Mr Smith’s proposals, Tory MSP Finlay Carson said: “Social media is a fantastic communication tool which has many benefits, but it’s also important we face up to the negative side it has brought too.

“It’s easy to see that the abuse dished out online can often get out of hand, and it’s incumbent on all of us to be more civil and use social media in the correct manner.

“Disagreement and debate can be good, but it must not cross the line.”

A spokesman for Labour said: “All forms of abuse are unacceptable, including online abuse.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4499453.1499675242!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4499453.1499675242!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alyn Smith MEP has put forward plans for a new internet code of conduct. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alyn Smith MEP has put forward plans for a new internet code of conduct. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4499453.1499675242!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/lesley-riddoch-catalan-independence-movement-poses-dilemma-for-snp-1-4499230","id":"1.4499230","articleHeadline": "Lesley Riddoch: Catalan independence movement poses dilemma for SNP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499665961000 ,"articleLead": "

The choice between Madrid and Barcelona is one that all political leaders will soon face, writes Lesley Riddoch.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4499229.1499666028!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Supporters wave pro-independence Catalan flags in Barcelona. Pic: PAU BARRENA/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Madrid or Barcelona?

It’s a dilemma usually faced by holidaymakers. But the un-official Catalan independence referendum set for October 1st means Scottish politicians are getting involved too.

19 MSPs have backed a Holyrood motion backing the poll – now the Scottish Government’s been urged to choose sides and is resisting the temptation.

A spokesperson said they would congratulate the Catalans if they won, adding “these are matters for the people and the governments of Catalonia and Spain.

The constitutional arrangements in Scotland and the UK are clearly different.”

READ MORE: SNP facing diplomatic crisis as Catalan independence vote looms

Well yes. The Constitution declares Spain to be a single, indivisible whole, making “regional” self-determination legally impossible. So there’s no agreed process between Madrid and Barcelona of the kind agreed by Westminster and Holyrood before 2014.

That’s why the newly elected pro-independence Catalan parliament has decided to steam ahead with a referendum of its own.

That is a very different approach to that of the more consensual SNP.

The constitutional consequences of the Catalan vote are different too.

Scottish independence would probably mean nothing more for the rUK but Catalan independence might embolden others.

Catalonia is just one of seven Països Catalans (Catalan speaking regions) and 17 regional governments. Others might flex their muscles if Catalonia’s vote succeeds.

But the biggest difference is the crazy boldness of their plan - which could, if successful, pose an unintended challenge for the SNP.

If the Catalans win an “illegal” referendum with no opinion poll lead, no “Mother state” permission, no “White Paper” and only a general idea of how to run their independent state, the SNP’s detail-heavy, gradualist approach might suddenly look very sluggish.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: ‘merchants of doom’ were wrong about recession

Of course, the odds are stacked against such an outcome.

In their last unofficial 2014 referendum, 80 per cent of Catalonians chose independence, but the majority didn’t vote at all.

Still Madrid’s heavy-handed prosecution of Catalan leader Artur Mas has become a recruiting sergeant for independence.

In March of this year, Mas and two former government ministers were found guilty of civil disobedience, fined and banned from holding office for two years by Catalonia’s Superior Court of Justice. Thousands of supporters filled the streets outside the Barcelona courtroom chanting “you are not alone”, “democracy is not a crime” and “independence”.

Feelings are running high, and no-one can be sure if the October vote will be disastrous, or daring enough to create a democratic impasse between Madrid and Barcelona and thus command the attention of governments across Europe.

Would it really be acceptable to the EU that one member denies a constituent nation the right to self-determination? Might that not look like disdain for democracy – the kind of behaviour the EU will not tolerate amongst aspiring member states?

European governments – Brexiting Britain included – may soon have to take a stand on the Catalan question, whether they like it or not.

Now, none of this means the devolved Scottish Government would be wise to support the Catalans right now.

Such a move could provoke tit-for-tat action from the Spanish government, which only recently dropped veiled threats to torpedo any bid for EU membership by an independent Scotland.

Membership of the Norway-style “halfway house” also requires the unanimous backing of all EFTA and EU members - so an angry Spain could theoretically block Scottish access to the EEA too.

Why provoke Spain for a gesture that won’t advance the Catalan cause and may not be expected by their political leaders.

As SNP leaders discovered the hard way in 2014, no foreign government (however privately sympathetic) will risk angering an existing state by openly supporting a breakaway – until that bid is successful.

The Catalans are currently in the same boat and they know this.

But their dilemma and their “just do it” solution is hugely interesting for Scotland, whose Government has “reset” its timetable for independence as a wounded Prime Minister continues to insist that “now is not the time” for a second vote.

Exposure to Catalonia’s dilemma over the next three months will raise an obvious question for Scotland’s independence supporters - which strategy works best? Catalonia’s strategy of urgency and defiance or Scotland’s keeping the heid and biding time? Or is it a case of horses for courses?

There’s nothing wrong with having that debate.

SNP strategists fear the Catalan government may not be ready to collect taxes in the messy aftermath of a pro-independence vote.

According to one senior SNP figure, the relatively un-planned Catalan referendum is more like Brexit than the Yes campaign. But here’s the thing - Brexit won while the more detailed Yes campaign lost.

Independence is not just about having control of taxation, oil revenues and domestic policy levers.

It also gives Scotland the chance to act on the world stage and to calculate how and when to intervene.

If it looks like a judgement call on Catalonia is just too tough for little Scotland to take – or even debate – where will that leave Holyrood’s ambition to take on more powers over foreign policy, trade and diplomacy? Discretion is often the better part of valour. But Scots politicians must also practice the art of independent thought to perfect the business of independent action.

After all, it was little Iceland (current population 323,000) that first recognised the independence of Lithuania in 1991.

Jon Baldvin Hannibalsson was the only western foreign minister to arrive on the scene, when Soviet troops tried to suppress secession by attacking the TV station and killing 14 Lithuanian civilians. Jon Baldvin quickly began the process of establishing diplomatic connections between Lithuania and Iceland and the Baltic state became a member of the United Nations six months later and a member of the EU in 2004. Today, a monument beside the Lithuanian Parliament bears the inscription “To Iceland - they dared when others remained silent.”

Why did he intervene? “If the breakup of a federation becomes inevitable, the international community should assist in the establishment of constituent republics, in an orderly manner.”


The stand off between Madrid and Barcelona may soon become the business of every EU leader - Theresa May included.

So there is no need for Scotland’s devolved government to nail its colours to the mast right now.

But the challenge posed to the Scottish and British Governments by the crazy, stubborn and visionary Catalans won’t go away anytime soon.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4499229.1499666028!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4499229.1499666028!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Supporters wave pro-independence Catalan flags in Barcelona. Pic: PAU BARRENA/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Supporters wave pro-independence Catalan flags in Barcelona. Pic: PAU BARRENA/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4499229.1499666028!/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/insight-has-scottish-politics-given-the-orange-order-a-boost-1-4498731","id":"1.4498731","articleHeadline": "Insight: Has Scottish politics given the Orange Order a boost?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499590579000 ,"articleLead": "

Has politics given a shot in the arm to sectarian bigotry or are the parades of the Twelfth of July on a road to nowhere, asks Dani Garavelli

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498728.1499541191!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Drums and banners are piled up as participants take part in Orange Walks across the city of Glasgow. Picture: Jane Barlow/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

At midnight on Tuesday night, the Belfast sky will turn orange as scores of giant bonfires are lit to mark the start of the traditional Twelfth of July celebrations. Then, on the day itself, half a million people, including a large contingent of Scots, will walk to the beat of lambeg drums as parades commemorating King William’s victory over James II and VII at the Battle of the Boyne are held in 18 towns across the Province.

The Orange Order walks – to some a celebration of Protestant culture, to others a flagrant anti-Catholic provocation – are a reminder that Northern Ireland’s decades of conflict are never far from the surface. Though the Good Friday Agreement and the setting up of the Parades Commission put an end to the large-scale civil disturbances that had become a fixture at flashpoints such as Drumcree, small-scale flare-ups persist.

This year, there have been fewer than usual; one of the most intractable disputes – centred on Ardoyne in Belfast – has finally been resolved. But the marches will take place against a backdrop of political upheaval provoked by Brexit and the collapse of the power-sharing agreement at Stormont.

The spectre of a hard border with Eire and the DUP/Tory alliance, which undermines the UK government’s role as an impartial broker, has put the peace deal at risk and left Northern Ireland in a state of uncertainty.

Developments at Westminster also mean this year’s celebrations are likely to be subjected to greater public scrutiny. With six out of 10 DUP MPs members of the Orange Order, there has already been an upsurge of interest in its activities.

So, were international news teams to descend en masse on Belfast tomorrow, would they witness much that would shame the politicians propping up the Conservative government? Last year, Glasgow-based Irish journalist Peter Geoghegan covered the city’s Twelfth of July celebrations for the first time, and was horrified by what he witnessed. “I was shocked by the level of hatred,” he says. “All the Catholics leave the city for the day and there are effigies of the Pope, signs saying: ‘Kill the Taigs’ and drunken teenagers singing: ‘Up to our knees in Fenian blood.’

“It does raise the question: if, once a year, you have an event which is entirely exclusionary, how can you ever build a shared and cohesive society?”

Meanwhile, Scotland – which has its own history of anti-Irish Catholic discrimination – is still dealing with the fallout from last weekend’s Glasgow parade. Around 4,000 people and 63 bands took part in the procession from George Square to Glasgow Green, with a further 4,000 turning up to watch.

Here the marching season is taking place against a different political canvas: the continued debate over independence and a general election which brought SNP losses and Conservative gains.

But the impact has been the same: it has magnified the Orange Order’s sense of its own importance (while simultaneously increasing the backlash against it) and put the marching season back in the spotlight.

While many of its supporters – whose identity is closely bound up with Rangers FC – have faced humiliation as the club’s fortunes have declined, the institution appears to have been emboldened, by the “bloody nose” delivered to the SNP, by its putative role in the Tory resurgence and by the DUP’s new position of power.

Certainly some observers reported an increase in Union flags on lampposts (in defiance of Glasgow City Council’s prohibition) while a note of triumphalism crept into the speeches at Glasgow Green.

There was also – inevitably – some sectarian abuse. Though there were only eight arrests, footage of a band playing the music to the outlawed Famine Song – as onlookers belted out the words – led to a major online backlash and calls for future marches to be banned.

Though – somewhat ironically, given the DUP’s position on Brexit – the Orange Order’s right of assembly is enshrined in the ECHR, there is an enduring unease about the sheer number of marches and a belief, among many, that there is no place for displays of bigotry in modern day Scotland.

“The vast majority of Scottish citizenry are fed up with some of the behaviour that goes on at these events,” says historian Professor Sir Tom Devine.

For the past decade, the Orange Order has been waging a PR offensive in an attempt to address such hostility. It claims that, far from fomenting hatred, the institution exists to foster diversity and cultural tolerance.

Last week, Robert McLean, executive officer of the Grand Orange Lodge in Scotland, told the Call Kaye show the institution had worked hard to improve its own stewarding and its relationship with the police. He drew a clear distinction between Loyal Orange Lodge (LOL) members, the flute bands (which are hired out for the day) and “hangers on”. “If we found any Orange Order members were involved in singing a sectarian song, they would be disciplined,” he said.

One prominent defender of the Orange Order is writer and commentator Ruth Dudley Edwards; an atheist from a Catholic background, she spent time with those involved in an effort to understand its heritage and ethos, going on to write The Faithful Tribe.

Twenty years on, she continues to believe the Orange Order is unfairly maligned and that the antipathy expressed by nationalists and journalists is disproportionate.

“I think everything gets inflated with the Orange Order. When you look at the coverage of the DUP deal in the English papers, it was quite over the top,” she says. “That cartoon of Arlene Foster [bedecked in Orange Order regalia] – she isn’t even in the Orange Order – and, as for the likes of Nigel Dodds, he probably goes once a year.

“The truth is the Orange Order is shrinking all the time. I think it would have gone out of business by now if it hadn’t been for all the confrontation.”

Dudley Edwards believes the attitude displayed towards members is similar to Hillary Clinton’s dubbing of Trump followers as “a basket of deplorables”.

“It is OK to be horrible about them because they are white and Christian – that’s the brutal truth. That was why so many of the liberati leaped upon them in the last few weeks – the way they have been talked about wouldn’t be considered acceptable with any other group in society.”

The problem with simply accepting the Orange Order’s view of itself, however, is that it fails to take into account the prejudice that is integral to its existence; even as it talks about the need for religious tolerance, it celebrates a Catholic defeat, forbids members to attend mass and retains a visceral distaste for the Pope.

“I come from a Catholic background and I grew up in Lisburn, which is a very loyalist town,” says Dave Scott, campaign manager with anti-sectarian charity Nil By Mouth. “So I played football and worked with people who were Orangemen. They were friends of mine until it came to the Drumcree stand-off and then I saw a side to them I hadn’t seen before. Suddenly, they saw me as an enemy and I got all sorts of stick.”

Equally, of course, the Orange Order is also the victim of sectarian attacks; last weekend, for example, Whiteinch Orange Hall was vandalised and its bins set on fire.

“While I think it has to take responsibility for some of the behaviour its marches can generate and feed, the Orange Order is sometimes on the receiving end of abuse and this creates a bunker mentality,” says Scott.

“There’s a psychological flaw in Orangeism. It’s always frightened of being betrayed; ‘Someone is going to let us down, so we must hold on to these positions we have.’”

On of the reasons the institution is constantly on the defensive is that, as a faith organisation, in an increasingly secular society, it faces an uphill battle for survival.

“Last year it held a charm offensive – Orangefest – in Glasgow, which was an attempt to help people understand what it stood for,” says Scott. “What was interesting was that only a couple of thousand people turned up because it was all Bible readings and lambeg drums.

“The Orange Order has a small active membership in Scotland and it’s the processions that get people out, not the prayer services. Without the parades, I think the Orange Order would cease to exist.”

Even in the context of the parades, supporters are not much interested in hymns, hence the bands’ tendency to play pop songs such as the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and the Beach Boys’ Sloop John B (aka the Famine Song tune) neither of which have much to do with the Reformation, but keep people happy.

There is, therefore, a disingenuousness in the Orange Order’s attempts to separate their own members from the bands they hire and the onlookers their marches attract.

“The Loyal Orange Lodge is not responsible for the outbreaks of bad behaviour – the parades attract people who are also attracted to a certain football club – but it’s impossible to make a clear distinction between the two because the Order is based on anti-Catholic triumphalism,” says Devine.

Nonetheless, away from the binary world of Twitter, there are many, including Devine, who view Orangemen and women as deserving of pity rather than disdain.

“If you look at social media over the last few days there has been almost 100 per cent contempt, but they are poor souls really,” says Devine.

“Until recent years, their rationale was anti-Irish Catholic racism (based on the fact they emerged out of the sectarian conflicts in Ireland in the 1790s) but history has moved on.

“In Scotland, Irish Catholics now have occupational parity with their fellow Scots. They have become full Scottish citizens and are quite happy in their own skins. The target has gone, and all that’s left is media interest in an irrelevant organisation.”

Though no great fan, Ian Dunn, the editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer agrees that manufactured outrage is inflating the importance of marches and leading to the demonisation of people who could now be perceived as underdogs. “Historically Catholics in Scotland were seen as a bit undesirable and Presbyterian culture and Orange walks were part of that,” he says. “But now I think the shoe is on the other foot and the Orange Order is perceived as undesirable by the great and the good.”

“Sure, some of those involved in the parades are not very pleasant, but I think they are having a hard enough time with their football team – you don’t really have to stick the boot in. Some of the comments I saw last week were demeaning.”

Dunn also questions the significance we attach to overt displays of bigotry such as the singing of the Famine Song, or the footage that emerged last month of Rangers supporters in a pub singing “We Hate Roman Catholics” to the tune of Tiffany’s I Think We’re Alone Now (a scene uncannily similar to the one in T2 Trainspotting). Is it really evidence of deep-seated sectarianism, or merely an attempt to wind up a group of people it knows will take the bait?

“It seems to me there is something ironic or performative in such displays,” says Dunn.

“I suspect a lot of these guys will be married to and work with people from Catholic backgrounds, but after all the Rangers stuff over the past 10 years, there’s a frisson to be had from playing up to the bad boy image. It’s that whole ‘everybody hates us, we don’t care,’ thing.”

If there is a performative element to flagrant expressions of anti-Catholicism, then it cuts both ways, with some of those on the other side of the religious divide exploiting their outrage to boost their profile or bolster their own sense of cultural identity.

A similar symbiosis is at work in the way some Yessers bought into the idea that the Orange Order played a role in SNP losses.

“I think the stuff about the Orange Order driving the Tory resurgence is a lot more about nationalists than it is about unionists,” says Dunn. “It suits them to have a bogeyman. And you see the same happening on the other side; if you delve into the world of the hyper yoons, there’s tons of stuff linking the SNP with the IRA.”

Most contentiously, perhaps, Dunn says the Orange Order and associated bands serve a positive function, providing structure to young people in some of Scotland’s deprived communities and reminding the country of a past it would rather sweep under the carpet.

Tomorrow, however, as the bonfires are lit, the more negative aspects of the Twelfth of July celebrations will be difficult to ignore. Though there is no reason to suppose this year will be any worse than last, the talks to resolve the stalemate at Stormont have been put on hold until September when tensions will have eased: this annual hiatus is the price paid for the LOL’s repeated assertion of its right to assembly.

In Scotland too the tensions continue; yesterday it was Alloa’s turn to face disruption as 8,000 band members took part in the Central Scotland parade. Tomorrow, flights and ferries will be full of men with Loyalist tattoos heading for the Province.

Police Scotland is under continued pressure to arrest the men filmed singing the Famine Song, Glasgow City Council to reduce the number of marches and the Orange Order to take more responsibility for the behaviour of its followers.

“The parades are contentious because there are so many of them and they are paid for directly by the taxpayer,” says Scott.

“I think there needs to be a grown-up discussion – with everyone round the table – and that the Orange Order needs to take part. Yes, things have improved in the past few years but there’s still more that could be done.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4498728.1499541191!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498728.1499541191!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Drums and banners are piled up as participants take part in Orange Walks across the city of Glasgow. Picture: Jane Barlow/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Drums and banners are piled up as participants take part in Orange Walks across the city of Glasgow. Picture: Jane Barlow/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4498728.1499541191!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4498729.1499541196!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498729.1499541196!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Members of the Orange Order take part in the annual County Grand Orange Order Parade in Glasgow. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Members of the Orange Order take part in the annual County Grand Orange Order Parade in Glasgow. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4498729.1499541196!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4498730.1499541200!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498730.1499541200!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Marchers pass Glasgow Cross on July 1. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Marchers pass Glasgow Cross on July 1. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4498730.1499541200!/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/snp-facing-diplomatic-crisis-as-catalan-independence-vote-looms-1-4498338","id":"1.4498338","articleHeadline": "SNP facing diplomatic crisis as Catalan independence vote looms","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499501681000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP is facing a diplomatic crisis ahead of Catalonia’s proposed independence referendum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498336.1499501671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon could be facing a 'diplomatic crisis'"} ,"articleBody": "

Supporters of the SNP and campainers have urged the party to formally endorse the vote, which is scheduled for this autumn despite being declared unconstitutional by Spain.

However, Nicola Sturgeon is coming under pressure surrounding the issue to avoid a fall out with Madrid and the Spanish Government, according to The Herald.

Spain has only recently dropped threats to block any independent Scottish membership of the European Union.

It appears that the SNP will be proceeding with caution over the vote, and should the vote take place on October 1, the party will be proepared to congratulate whoever is victorious.

An alliance of Catalan independence supporters secured power last year in parliamentary elections seen by many as a strong indicator for the vote.

READ MORE: SNP MSP lodges motion in support of Catalan independence

It is understood that Madrid and Barcelona are lobbying hard behind the scenes for diplomatic support, and the SNP could face a crisis if it was to endorse either side.

Prof Keating, of Aberdeen University, said: “I would expect the Scottish Government to be very cautious. The SNP does not want to provoke Spain.”

READ MORE: Thousands protest Spain’s legal challenge to Catalan independence

When asked by The Herald if the SNP would recognise a win for Catalan independence supporters, a spokesman said that they would “congratulate” their allies before adding “these are matters for the people and the governments of Catalonia and Spain. The constitutional arrangements in Scotland and the UK are clearly different, as has been widely acknowledged. “

José Manuel García-Margallo, Spain’s foreign minister until last year, stated that if there was an independence vote, Catalonia risked becoming like one of the largely unrecognised statessaying “Without recognition [Catalonia] runs the risk of falling in to legal limbo.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4498336.1499501671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498336.1499501671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon could be facing a 'diplomatic crisis'","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon could be facing a 'diplomatic crisis'","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4498336.1499501671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4498337.1499501673!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4498337.1499501673!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Barcelona residents attend a recent demonstration in support of a referendum in Catalonia. Picture: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barcelona residents attend a recent demonstration in support of a referendum in Catalonia. Picture: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4498337.1499501673!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ruth-davidson-in-storm-over-honorary-army-role-1-4497937","id":"1.4497937","articleHeadline": "Ruth Davidson in storm over honorary army role","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499454870000 ,"articleLead": "

Ruth Davidson has hit out at the SNP after facing new questions over her appointment as Honorary Colonel of a army reserve unit.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4497945.1499454861!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Ruth Davidson sparked a new storm over her appointment as an honorary army colonel as it emerged that the military bypassed regulations to put her in the ceremonial role.

The Scottish Conservative leader hit out at the SNP after documents relating to the appointment were published following a written parliamentary question.

They reveal that Ms Davidson was the only person put forward for the position as Honorary Colonel of 32 Signal Regiment, the unit she previously served with as a Territorial Army soldier.

There are also questions over how Ms Davidson will carry out her role in spite of a Ministry of Defence ban on enlisted troops speaking to elected politicians without permission from ministers.

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Davidson must refocus Unionism

Yesterday Ms Davidson, who is on a two week holiday during the Scottish parliamentary recess, lashed out in response to the parliamentary query from Douglas Chapman MP, complaining she had come under attack from “fury brigades on social media”.

In a string of 35 posts on Twitter, the Scottish Conservative leader accused nationalists of whipping up “hostile and vitriolic tirades against her and said she had suffered “the Highland Spring treatment” - a reference to claims this week that the bottled water company backed away from criticism of a second independence referendum following contact from the Scottish Government.

The SNP responded by claiming Ms Davidson had gone into “meltdown”.

“I know that the fury brigades on social media react to the slightest trigger, and I am a pretty stout veteran of 2014, but even I wasn’t expecting the hostile and vitriolic tirades that followed the event at Edinburgh Castle to promote Armed Forces day, encouraged by SNP outriders,” Ms Davidson wrote in a series of tweets.

“There are thousands of Scots involved in the UK armed forces, both regular and reserve. Hon positions have existed for decades to help and support regimental work.

READ MORE: Ruth Davidson sparks Twitter row with picture of X-Files star

“My fear is that people will think twice about saying yes if they reckon they’re going to get the ‘Highland Spring’ treatment.”

An SNP spokeswoman said: “Ruth Davidson’s summer meltdown suggests her holiday is long overdue and much needed after this bizarre Twitter rant. These are perfectly legitimate questions - it is only right that an MP can hold the party of government to account.

“Being quite this hot-headed is not a great look for a political leader nor, for that matter, a Colonel.”

Correspondence published following a request from Douglas Chapman MP shows Ms Davidson was approached by the commanding officer of 32 Signal Regiment, Lt Col Rhidian Jones, before agreeing in writing to take on the position.

The role was signed off by Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon, a member of Ms Davidson’s party, before being approved by senior officers on behalf of the Queen.

The MoD confirmed that the Scottish Conservative leader was the only candidate approached.

Under the Terms of Service for Officers set out in the Reserve Land Forces Regulations, when recruiting an Honorary Colonel “a field of candidates, defined as a minimum of two for each position, should be sought where possible”.

Candidates should be considered by a “defined selection panel” in order “to ensure that choice is not unnecessarily restricted and that all suitable people are considered” for the role.

The rules state that appointments should operate under principles set out by the UK Office of the Commissioners of Public Appointments, which call for a choice of high quality candidates” to be “drawn from a strong, diverse field”.

The correspondence also includes a nomination from Lt Col Jones which hails Ms Davidson as a “popular” and “eminent” politician whose appointment will “grant the unit wider influence within the civilian field”.

However, last night the MoD confirmed that Ms Davidson would not be able to bring up her role in a political capacity under rules that restrict contact between politicians and enlisted troops.

“Arrangements can be made for Honorary Colonels to visit their unit regularly,” an MoD spokeswoman said. “However, it would be inappropriate for briefing provided to an individual as a member of the Reserve Forces to be then used for parliamentary or political purposes.”

Responding to the lack of a shortlist of candidates, the spokeswoman added: “Whilst a minimum of two is preferred, single nominations can be made.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said the SNP were “utterly uninterested in speaking up for the armed forces”.

The spokesman added: “For opponents to suggest that senior military officers - including the Head of the Army in Scotland who signed this off on behalf of her Majesty - haven’t followed the correct protocol is simply wrong.

“Ruth is not the first politician to serve as an Honorary Colonel; she’s not even the first Scottish Conservative to do so. This is just the first time the SNP has created a grievance about it. It shows just how rattled they are.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4497945.1499454861!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4497945.1499454861!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4497945.1499454861!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/alex-salmond/alex-salmond-merchants-of-doom-were-wrong-about-recession-1-4497311","id":"1.4497311","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond: ‘merchants of doom’ were wrong about recession","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499426577000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Salmond has slammed the BBC, Unionist politicians and the mainstream media for coverage of Scotland’s GDP figures.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4497310.1499426566!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond claimed the "merchants of doom" had got economy predictions wrong. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The Former First Minister’s comments came after the latest GDP figures revealed the Scottish economy had defied predictions and avoided a recession.

Scotland experienced a 0.8 per cent growth in the first quarter of 2017, four times the rate of UK GDP growth over the same period.

Writing in The National, Mr Salmond took aim at economists from Strathclyde University’s Fraser of Allander institute who had forecast a “lost decade” and flatlining growth.

The former MP said: “No doubt a few Fraser of Allander economists are pondering..the full extent of their misreading of Scottish economic statistics.

“It may be time once again to bring out the legendary ‘Fraser eraser’.”

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

READ MORE: SNP slams opposition parties ‘desperate for recession’

Mr Salmond continued: “The first-quarter surge in Scottish GDP caught the Fraser economists by surprise. Point eight of one per cent doesn’t sound all that much but, in fact, it is FOUR times the comparable UK figure.”

The ex-SNP leader, who lost his Gordon seat in June’s General Elections, then turned his attention to rival politicians and the mainstream media.

He said: “However, whatever the embarrassment for the Fraser Institute, it is as of nothing compared to the abject humiliation of Unionist politicians, the mainstream media and the BBC. They have all been holed amidships.”

“In one fell swoop they have all been laid low and if the SNP Government is sensible they will endeavour to remind these merchants of doom of that on a daily basis for many months to come.

“It is the economy stupid and there is nothing more stupid than a politician who misreads the economy.”

Mr Salmond singled out the BBC for particular criticism and said the corporation was “greatly to blame” for misreporting the likelihood of a recession.

He specifically highlighted the Sunday Politics Scotland programme’s coverage and called on presenter Gordon Brewer to “look back very carefully” on the decision to base the show by “treating a forecast as fact”.

Mr Salmond also accused Labour and the Conservatives of “talking down” Scotland, claiming they were hoping for a recession so they could blame it on the prospect of a second independence referendum.

The former First Minister has criticised the BBC’s coverage of Scottish politics on a number of other occasions. In August last year he accused the corporation of having a “blatant” anti-independence bias.

In an interview with the i in 2015, the former First Minister also said that his “biggest regret” of the independence campaign had been failing to foresee the extent of the corporation’s “institutional bias”.

The BBC has always denied bias of any kind. In response to Mr Salmond’s latest comments, a spokesman said: “Our coverage focused on reporting expert economic indicators to which we gave full context and analysis.

“We made it clear in our coverage of the original Fraser of Allander report last week and the official figures published on Wednesday that regardless of whether Scotland was technically in recession or not, it’s the general trend that is important.

“Our output on Sunday Politics, Good Morning Scotland and Reporting Scotland had contributions from all sides reflecting on this.”

Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute and a former senior adviser to the Scottish Government, said: “Our reports on the current health of the Scottish economy are based on rigorous independent analysis and are made publicly available for all.

“The Fraser of Allander Institute is proud to bring together internationally-renowned economists to provide informed analysis to a wider audience than ever before. Our latest Commentary and analysis of this week’s positive GDP figures provide a comprehensive and impartial assessment of current trends in the Scottish economy – analysis which is entirely consistent with both this week’s GDP data and wider economic indicators.”

When the GDP figures were announced on Wednesday, Scottish economy secretary Keith Brown said: “The fundamentals of Scotland’s economy are strong. Scotland’s output is now 6 per cent above the pre-recession level and unemployment is at its lowest ever level.”

The economic rise marks the highest rate of quarterly growth in Scotland since the end of 2014. Services in Scotland grew by 0.3 per cent in the first quarter, although it was more gloomy news for the construction industry which shrank by 0.7 per cent.

However, On an annual basis, Scotland saw growth of just 0.5 per cent, compared to 1.9 per cent UK-wide.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the recovery was “very encouraging”. He said: “The Scottish economy is returning to growth and I am pleased to see that the manufacturing sector in particular is making the most of export opportunities. But, over the year, Scotland has continued to lag behind the UK as a whole – so there is still a lot of work to do.”

READ MORE: Bill Jamieson: Scotland escaped recession, but can we trust figures?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SAM SHEDDEN AND chris GREEN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4497310.1499426566!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4497310.1499426566!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond claimed the "merchants of doom" had got economy predictions wrong. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond claimed the "merchants of doom" had got economy predictions wrong. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4497310.1499426566!/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-ruth-davidson-must-move-unionism-away-from-indyref2-1-4497095","id":"1.4497095","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: Ruth Davidson must move Unionism away from indyref2","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499409394000 ,"articleLead": "

We must hope her undoubted electoral success has no blinded her to the less appetising aspects of her party, writes Joyce McMillan

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4497094.1499409170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "While Theresa May blundered, Ruth Davidson thundered but the Scottish Tory leader must now take a wider view. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

When Ruth Davidson headed off on holiday last week – posting a cheeky tweet of Gillian Anderson as she went – I think it’s fair to say that the Scottish Conservative leader was cock-a-hoop, simply delighted with herself, and with her party’s recent performance.

Between the general elections of 2015 and 2017, the Scottish Tories had made the leap from one seat in Scotland to 13, doubling their vote in the process.

They had inflicted serious damage on their chief enemy, the SNP, from whom they took all of these seats; 60 per cent of those who voted in Scotland on 8 June supported Unionist parties.

And the election of those Scottish Tory MPs also, of course, saved the bacon of Theresa May’s increasingly unpopular government; without the loyal Scottish 13, even the expensive support of the Democratic Unionists would not have been enough to keep Theresa May in power.

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: We dodged a North Sea bullet with No vote

So what kind of political animal is it, this Conservative-led Unionism that for now seems to have all the momentum – if certainly not all the votes – in Scottish politics?

So far as I can see, it has four elements, some of them strikingly ill-matched. The first element, obvious from the moment of Ruth Davidson’s election as leader six years ago, was her vigorous attempt to detoxify the Tory brand, and make the party seem more culturally in tune with modern Scottish society.

Still under 40, gay and happily partnered, Davidson looks like a new kind of Conservative leader; and her forceful defence of the European Union during last year’s referendum campaign was all of a piece with her successful rebranding of the Scottish Tories as a modern, outward-looking European centre-right party.

With last year’s Brexit vote, though, there came a second and more visceral element, quite different in tone – a passionate, almost obsessive opposition to the second independence referendum proposed by Nicola Sturgeon in response to last year’s Brexit vote.

READ MORE: SNP slams opposition parties ‘desperate for recession’

READ MORE: Bill Jamieson: Scotland escaped recession, but can we trust figures?

This opposition was articulated by all three main Unionist parties, but primarily by the Tories, and reflected the very strong views of a large cohort of mainly older Scottish voters who may once even have voted SNP, but who now, quite suddenly, seem to detest the First Minister, her party and all their works; and it’s hard not to conclude that the existential questions posed by the twin referendums of 2014 and 2016 have reawakened a deep, previously unspoken British nationalism in some Scottish voters, which is not only willing to go along with Brexit, but increasingly regards all further talk of Scottish independence as intolerable.

And it’s at this point that some of the contradictions within this Unionist surge start to become clear; because whatever Ruth Davidson’s project was about, when she became leader, it clearly was not about leading a party of predominantly older British nationalists clinging instinctively to the idea of the Union, while the most chaotic and economically unsuccessful British government in recent memory sails us directly towards the Brexit iceberg.

Like all nationalist movements, what’s more – and this is the third strand – the British one has its extremist fringe, currently to be seen not only swaggering with a new spring in its step through Glasgow and other Scottish towns, playing ancient tunes of sectarian dominance, but also smirking at Westminster as Theresa May pays £1 billion of British taxpayers’ money for the support of the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionists, some of the most right-wing and socially illiberal politicians in the UK.

Now of course, Ruth Davidson will oppose these forces of reaction, publicly and privately, on issues like gay rights.

But as a young politician, she should surely be asking herself deeper questions about what kind of future her Conservative Party is really offering to the people of Scotland, with such allies, and with such a discredited set of economic and social policies.

Does Ruth Davidson really believe, for example, that Scotland can survive and thrive outside the European single market? What are her views on tackling climate change? And is she in favour of the UK government’s continuing austerity programme, or does she agree that the relentless downward pressure on Britain’s public sector has now gone too far?

The truth is that we hardly know the answers to these questions, because of Ruth Davidson’s recent unvarying focus on just one issue, opposition to a second referendum.

Over the past 25 years, by contrast, the SNP has striven mightily to distance itself from the more fundamentalist elements that attach themselves to any national movement, to develop a modern and inclusive approach to citizenship, and to reframe themselves as a pragmatic party who want independence as a means to the end of delivering a modern social-democratic Scotland.

And Ruth Davidson, it seems to me, now needs to do a similar job on modern British nationalism in Scotland, refocusing it away from identity politics to what the Union might actually deliver.

Otherwise she will find herself not only stuck in charge of a nostalgist movement full of reactionary attitudes and tropes; but also in a policy-free zone, where the faithful respond to nothing but the familiar chant of “We said No, and we meant it”, accompanied, of course, by its always unspoken corollary, “We said Remain, and we didn’t really mean it at all.”

And then lastly, as Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity continues to surge, there is the small matter of the possible re-emergence of a new Labour Unionism, profoundly opposed to the new Tory-led Unionism in almost every area of policy. We may be in the middle of a revival of Scottish Unionism, in other words.

Yet so long as the leading force in that revival seems more reactive than proactive, more interested in saying “no” to independence than in saying “yes” to any viable set of policies, and bound to a UK Tory party that most young Scots passionately reject, it is hard to imagine that its energy can be sustained.

And although it blazes with a sharp reactionary brightness now, it will need more fuel, of a much-more substantial and forward-looking sort, if it is to stay the course as a leading force in 21st century Scottish politics.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Joyce McMillan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4497094.1499409170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4497094.1499409170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "While Theresa May blundered, Ruth Davidson thundered but the Scottish Tory leader must now take a wider view. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "While Theresa May blundered, Ruth Davidson thundered but the Scottish Tory leader must now take a wider view. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4497094.1499409170!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/world/donald-trump-opens-european-visit-in-poland-1-4496373","id":"1.4496373","articleHeadline": "Donald Trump opens European visit in Poland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1499347293000 ,"articleLead": "

Donald Trump has delivered a major speech in Poland declaring that “the West will never be broken” and vowing to win the battle against extremism.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4496710.1499347287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US President Donald Trump waves next to First Lady Melania Trump in Krasinski Square, Warsaw. Picture: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Trump told crowds in Krasinski Square, Warsaw: “Our people will thrive and our civilisation will triumph.”

He offered praise for his hosts’ resilience in the face of historic threats from Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, declaring: “Let us all fight like Poles.”

He used the speech to make the case for the US and its allies to embrace the spirit of national pride that helped sustain the Polish people.

He repeatedly drew contrasts with the beliefs of extremists and made the case for the necessity of his travel ban, which restricts immigration from some terror-impacted countries.

He had started his day at the Royal Castle, welcomed by Polish President Andrzej Duda with a vigorous handshake in front of a white marble bust of Stanislaw August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland.

President Donald Trump has opened his second visit to Europe at a Polish castle, welcomed by President Andrzej Duda and a vigorous handshake.

The leaders then retreated to a room decorated with red walls for their private talks.

Asked how he felt about the trip, Trump said: “Great.” Trump arrived in the Polish capital of Warsaw late on Wednesday for a whirlwind 16-hour stop in the eastern European nation. Later on Thursday, he heads to Germany for a summit of leaders from the world’s rich and developing nations.

Duda told Polish broadcaster TVN24 on Wednesday that he wanted to focus the meeting on concrete issues like energy security for an eastern European region that remains heavily reliant on oil and gas deliveries from Russia, and not on “some general talk about world security”.

The leaders will also discuss further deliveries of US liquid gas to Poland and the region. A one-time shipment arrived last month.

READ MORE: Bret Stephens: Donald Trump is waging war on truth itself

Trump and Duda planned to answer questions when they appear before journalists in the castle courtyard following their private talks. It will be Trump’s first overseas news conference, coming before his highly anticipated meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, and after North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Trump broke with presidential tradition by not holding a question-and-answer session with the news media at any point during his first overseas journey as president, a nine-day trip through Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Belgium in late May.

Before heading to a public square in downtown Warsaw to address the Polish people, Trump planned to highlight a regional effort to boost energy independence by meeting with a dozen central and eastern European leaders collectively known as the Three Seas Initiative.

The group of countries, all bordered by the Baltic, Adriatic and Black seas, aims to expand and modernize energy and trade with the goal of reducing the region’s dependence on Russian energy. Trump also planned a separate meeting with Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

Trump is delivering the speech from Krasinski Square, the site of a monument commemorating the 1944 Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation. Polish media reports said the government, as part of its invitation to Trump, promised the White House a reception of cheering crowds. Plans call for ruling party lawmakers and pro-government activists to bus in groups of people from outlying provinces for the speech.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment on those reports. Scores of people lined darkened streets late on Wednesday after Trump arrived to watch as the motorcade sped him and his wife, Melania, to their hotel.

White House national security adviser HR McMaster said the president’s speech will praise Polish courage and celebrate Poland’s emergence as a European power. Trump will also call on all nations to be inspired by the spirit of the Polish people as they confront today’s challenges.

“He will lay out a vision, not only for America’s future relationship with Europe, but the future of our trans-Atlantic alliance and what that means for American security and American prosperity,” McMaster said before the trip.

READ MORE: Fake Donald Trump Time Magazine cover removed from Trump Turnberry

Trump may also seek to use Poland as an exemplar of partnership.

Poland is one of five NATO members that spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on the military, something Trump and US leaders before him have demanded of NATO allies. Trump has scolded other NATO countries for falling short on their commitments.

Poland hosts several thousand US troops, supports US and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is a regular buyer of US military equipment.

Before Trump arrived on Wednesday, Poland’s government emphasised that Russia’s aggression in Ukraine poses a threat to the whole of Europe, an issue that inevitably will be raised in discussions with Trump as Europeans seek to gauge his willingness to confront Putin before their first face-to-face meeting on Friday.

Poland also hopes Trump’s visit will reinforce its position with European partners as it faces allegations of backsliding on democracy. The right-wing government is among three European Union countries - along with Hungary and Austria - that refuse to accept any relocated refugees, in legal violation of EU quotas.

Trump has been working to curb refugee admissions to the US as part of his ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries.

The stop in Poland marked a break with tradition as US presidents typically make a point of visiting stalwart allies like Britain, France and Germany in their opening months in office. Trump will rectify that to some degree next week when he returns to Europe, this time visiting France at the invitation of President Emmanuel Macron to help celebrate Bastille Day and the 100th anniversary of the US entry into World War I.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DARLENE SUPERVILLE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4496710.1499347287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4496710.1499347287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "US President Donald Trump waves next to First Lady Melania Trump in Krasinski Square, Warsaw. Picture: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US President Donald Trump waves next to First Lady Melania Trump in Krasinski Square, Warsaw. Picture: AP Photo/Alik Keplicz","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4496710.1499347287!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4496372.1499339088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4496372.1499339088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda hold a joint press conference at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Picture: AFP/Wojtek Radwanski/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "President Donald Trump and Polish President Andrzej Duda hold a joint press conference at the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Picture: AFP/Wojtek Radwanski/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4496372.1499339088!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}