{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/what-can-we-expect-from-the-2017-gers-figures-1-4539013","id":"1.4539013","articleHeadline": "What can we expect from the 2017 GERS figures?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503409628000 ,"articleLead": "

The publication of the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) annual report will be followed by claim and counter claim about the strength of Scotland’s public finances and economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4539030.1503410557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay will face the media on Wednesday following the publication of the 2017 GERS report. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The publication, while presented as an impartial summary of the facts, serves an intensely political purpose. It first appeared in 1992, promoted by then Conservative secretary of state for Scotland, Ian Lang. It was designed - as the minister acknowledged in a leaked document - to “undermine” the UK government’s rivals.

The timing was significant. All other major parties in Scotland were in favour of the creation of a Scottish Parliament. The Tories were not.

“(GERS) was intended, in part, to demonstrate to the public that devolved self-government was A Bad Thing,” wrote BBC Scotland political editor Brian Taylor.

“Much later, with a devolved parliament firmly in place, matters transmogrified as the annual GERS figures were used by SNP ministers to suggest that Scotland’s economic position was relatively strong and that, with oil, we were potentially rich beyond ambition.”

Who compiles the GERS report?

The report is produced by independent civil servant statisticians, who decide on methodology, and is published by the Scottish Government. All methodologies are public and available online for scrutiny.

Data is sourced from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) and is then compiled by Scottish Government administrators. The report contains estimates on the Scottish economy within the constitutional arrangement of Scotland as part of the UK. It is not a projection of the economy of an independent Scotland.

On what data is GERS based?

“On the spending side, the figures are actual data and not estimates,” a blog by the the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) explains.

“For revenues, an increasing proportion of the data used is now collected in Scotland. This includes council tax, business rates, the profits made by Scottish Water, landfill tax, land and building transactions tax and local authority user charges and fees.

“In the next few years, with the identification of Scottish taxpayers for the first time in 2016-17, income tax will be added to this along with air passenger duty and aggregates levy.

“But for other revenues – particularly those collected by HMRC – estimation is needed.” An example of this is the whisky industry and the duty it pays. The GERS report can’t define how much is paid by consumers in Scotland and how much is paid by consumers elsewhere in the UK. But reliable estimates can be made from other consumer data.

What can we expect in tomorrow’s report?

If last year’s GERS report is anything to go by, the 2017 variety is unlikely to make happy reading. Last year, Scotland had a net fiscal balance of -9.5 per cent - including a geographical share of North Sea oil - for 2015-16. The UK as a whole had a balance of -4 per cent.

The FAI has said “most economists would be wary of a net fiscal balance to GDP ratio being much than -3 per cent on a regular basis”.

It predicts the 2017 report will likely to see a similar relative gap – but both the Scottish and UK figures will improve.

What has caused this gap?

The short answer is oil, the price of which has tumbled over the past three years. To ensure the North Sea sector remains competitive, and workers still have jobs, the UK Government has offered tax breaks to firms - meaning receipts to the exchequor are down significantly.

“Unless there is a dramatic turnaround in oil revenues, Scotland’s net balance – based upon the GERS methods – is projected to be weaker than the UK position going forward,” the FAI concludes.

READ MORE: 2016 GERS figures a ‘blow for Scottish independence’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4539030.1503410557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4539030.1503410557!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay will face the media on Wednesday following the publication of the 2017 GERS report. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance secretary Derek Mackay will face the media on Wednesday following the publication of the 2017 GERS report. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4539030.1503410557!/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/wings-over-scotland-blogger-arrested-over-online-harassment-1-4538562","id":"1.4538562","articleHeadline": "Wings Over Scotland blogger arrested over ‘online harassment’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503384626000 ,"articleLead": "

The pro-independence blogger behind Wings Over Scotland has been arrested over claims of online harassment.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538561.1503384631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart Campbell. Picture: YouTube"} ,"articleBody": "

Police arrested Stuart Campbell after a woman came forward alleging she was the victim of a two-year campaign of online abuse.

49-year-old Campbell has been a prominent online campaigner for Scottish independence and runs the Wings Over Scotland website.

The Herald reported on Tuesday that he was arrested last Friday by police in the Avon and Somerset area ‘on suspicion of harassment and malicious communications’ after a woman in her 30s made a complaint at a south London police station. He was bailed pending further enquiries.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “On 18 August a man aged in his 40s was arrested at an address in the Avon and Somerset area on suspicion of harassment and malicious communications.

“He has been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in mid-September. Enquiries continue.”

• READ MORE: Wings Over Scotland begins fundraiser in Labour defamation action

Campbell tweeted on Friday: “For sucky reasons totally outwith my control (don’t ask), posts on Wings will be very sparse for an unknown period. Sorry, folks.”

In a statement posted on the Wings Over Scotland website on Monday evening responding to The Herald’s story, Campbell said: “The piece by Tom Gordon has been written for maximum innuendo to allow the wildest speculations on social media – which are of course duly taking place – but the alleged events relate entirely to some tweets from our Twitter account, none of which have been deleted and all of which are still publicly visible.

“Nothing more sinister or serious than some tweets has occurred or been alleged to have occurred. That’s all we’ll be saying on the subject at this time.”

During the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign, Campbell published and distributed thousands of copies of the Wee Blue Book which he claimed presented “the facts the papers leave out” in regards to independence.

His pro-independence website Wings Over Scotland monitors the Scottish media, giving commentary and analysis.

Stirling-born Campbell is currently embroiled in a legal battle with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale who he is suing for defamation after she accused him of homophobia, an accusation he has denied.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4538561.1503384631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538561.1503384631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stuart Campbell. Picture: YouTube","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stuart Campbell. Picture: YouTube","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4538561.1503384631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-double-standards-on-independence-1-4538365","id":"1.4538365","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Double standards on independence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503378000000 ,"articleLead": "

Another analysis of the implications of Brexit underlines previous predictions that the process is going to be painful. According to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa), the “shocks” to the economy will leave Scotland facing a £3.7 billion shortfall in public funding.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538363.1503343198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murdo Fraser has criticised the Scottish Government for not publishing the recent findings of a report commissioned last year on the economic effects of independence."} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government has responded by insisting that this forecast provides further evidence that Scottish ministers should have a direct role in Brexit negotiations, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has again claimed that Westminster is attempting a “power grab” as Brexit unfolds.

It would be fair criticism to say that these reactions are more about achieving greater influence for the Scottish Government than directly addressing the impending economic impact of Brexit, and there is a sense that highlighting these power struggles is the only answer we ever hear. Opposition parties are right to take the administration to task on this front.

But it is disappointing that the Scottish Conservatives have dragged independence back on to the agenda, with a demand that the SNP’s Growth Commission make public its private findings on the economic effect of independence.

After the general election, there was a demand that independence be taken off the table. Eventually, the First Minister did acknowledge that circumstances had changed, and put on hold plans to legislate for a second independence referendum. Since then, talk of independence has diminished.

Whatever the findings of the Growth Commission, it should be seen as a blessing that they have not been published and analysed to death. Even if the SNP HAD gone public with them, Ms Sturgeon would have been accused of pushing the independence agenda again.

“Last year, Nicola Sturgeon announced with great fanfare that her Growth Commission would set out how independence could be achieved,” said the Conservatives’ shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser. “It has all gone strangely quiet.” But isn’t that exactly what the Conservatives wanted?

To stop independence dominating the agenda, opposition parties have to play their part too. With the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland figures expected to show a significant deficit tomorrow, the temptation will be to attack the Scottish Government over independence again. That will get us nowhere.

The Scottish Government needs to be held to account on what it can do now to improve economic performance, not what it might – or might not – do in the future.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4538363.1503343198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538363.1503343198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Murdo Fraser has criticised the Scottish Government for not publishing the recent findings of a report commissioned last year on the economic effects of independence.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Murdo Fraser has criticised the Scottish Government for not publishing the recent findings of a report commissioned last year on the economic effects of independence.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4538363.1503343198!/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-urged-to-publish-hidden-independence-plans-1-4538388","id":"1.4538388","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon urged to publish ‘hidden’ independence plans","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503357524000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to publish her “hidden plans” for independence as the latest snapshot of Scotland’s public finances this week is poised to show another gloomy outlook.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538387.1503347284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to publish her hidden plans for independence as the latest snapshot of Scotlands public finances this week is poised to show another gloomy outlook. Pictures: PA/John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP’s Growth Commission issued private findings on the economic blueprint for an independent Scotland last year but Ms Sturgeon has declined to make them public.

It comes as the official Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures out tomorrow are likely to show a major deficit as the North Sea oil and gas industry continues to struggle.

Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser said: “Last year, Nicola Sturgeon announced with great fanfare that her Growth Commission would set out how independence could be achieved. It has all gone strangely quiet.

“She’s had the findings on her desk since the turn of last year – where they’ve gathered dust ever since. What has the SNP got to hide? Rather than keeping the facts from the public, it is time the SNP was upfront and let people in on what it would propose.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Last week the Tories said they had shelved their anti-independence campaign – this week they’re banging on about the constitution again, it’s all they care about.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4538387.1503347284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538387.1503347284!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to publish her hidden plans for independence as the latest snapshot of Scotlands public finances this week is poised to show another gloomy outlook. Pictures: PA/John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon is being urged to publish her hidden plans for independence as the latest snapshot of Scotlands public finances this week is poised to show another gloomy outlook. Pictures: PA/John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4538387.1503347284!/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-is-the-word-national-a-weakness-for-snp-1-4537334","id":"1.4537334","articleHeadline": "Lesley Riddoch: Is the word ‘National’ a weakness for SNP?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503340671000 ,"articleLead": "

Did Nicola Sturgeon score an own goal declaring she would rather have a different name for the SNP?

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537333.1503317109!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon with Elif Shafak (left) at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister expressed misgivings about her party’s name during a debate at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, when a Turkish author said nationalism had a very negative and ugly meaning for her, and asked if it could “ever be benign”.

Ms Sturgeon replied: “The word is difficult. If I could turn the clock back, what, 90 years, to the establishment of my party, and chose its name all over again, I wouldn’t choose the name it has got just now.”

Critics of the SNP, Ms Sturgeon and the cause of independence obviously hoped the air would soon be thick with Yes-supporting comrades falling out over this apparent snub to “nationalism.” Instead, there’s been very little debate on the First Minister’s comments in papers or online.

That may be because recent events make semantic arguments appear very small fry. Paradoxically though, bite-sized arguments can be uncontrollably tempting when every other issue is fiendishly complex.

So the first thing to say is there is virtually nothing to say.

But is Nicola Sturgeon right? Is the word “National” in the title a weakness for her party today?

It’s possible the SNP looks like a Scottish version of the BNP – though you’d have some trouble spotting any meaningful similarity. And there’s the equally weird idea that identity with a nation automatically runs out of control in the way that Hitler’s National Socialist Party did in 1930s Germany. As one online blogger commented; “It was neither nationalism nor socialism that drove them to be fascists, it was their despotic attitudes to governance. Any political party can become a fascist regime, the name of the party is irrelevant.”

Quite.

But if the SNP’s name ain’t broke, why fix it? Ms Sturgeon didn’t reveal her preferred new name, which has prompted some online speculation.

Some favour the Scottish Party. Ironically, that would indeed suggest ethnicity plays a big part in Scotland’s independence movement when it absolutely does not.

The vast bulk of “nationalist” movements across Europe represent distinctive ethnic and/or linguistic minorities – Scotland doesn’t. Indeed, this is part of what hinders the case for Scottish independence – the emotional underpinning that comes with membership of a linguistic community is all but missing in Scotland and the modern SNP studiously avoids almost all trappings of shortbread tin Scottishness. The indyref was not held on the 700th anniversary of Bannockburn as many commentators gleefully forecasted.

Au contraire. Scottish nationalism is civic not ethnic -- and the very different voting criteria used in the Scottish and EU referendums demonstrates that fact.

The indyref gave the vote to all EU and Commonwealth citizens who live and work here, and even though famous Yes supporting ex-pats like Sir Sean Connery were disenfranchised, most were happy voting was based on where folk choose to live not where they happened to be born.

Ironically, it’s only elections and referendums conducted by the UK Government that consider the ethnic origin of voters. Indeed, negative perceptions of “nationalism,” have been so strongly connected with English nationalism and right wing thuggery, that it’s been hard for a much-needed debate about English self government to develop.

For just this reason, some favour changing the SNP to the Scottish International Party - summing up one important strand of the current Brexit debate and the desire amongst progressive Scots to create a modern country that’s inclusive and welcomes non ethnic Scots as citizens with full rights.

But the general mood is for no change.

Firstly, every other UK party has tried to change somewhat from the words that initially defined it. But it’s not clear the Liberal Democrats has been a stronger brand than the old Liberal Party, and New Labour went out of fashion as quickly as Tony Blair. Clearly the SNP’s current name hasn’t deterred opponents of independence from supporting it at domestic elections.

The Scottish Independence Party might refocus the argument on that single important issue, but deter wavering voters who simply want strong governance.

Secondly, for supporters of the Union, an independence party by any other name would smell as rotten. The 1990’s feminist magazine Harpies and Quines got its name partly to encourage a publicity-creating lawsuit from the publishers of Harpers and Queen (which it did) but mostly to ridicule female stereotypes. Some suggested we drop the word feminist from the title in case it put some readers off. But experience shows that any other word chosen would rapidly become just as pejorative.

Of course, the difficulty of naming pro independence parties in other European countries didn’t really arise, because existing parties tended to lead home rule movements. In Norway, the Liberal MP Christian Michelsen organised independence supporters from other parties into the Coalition Party which used an argument over consular representation to engineer a showdown in which the Norwegian Cabinet collectively resigned and the King of Sweden was unable to form a new government.

Sadly, there are no prospects for such a coalition of the willing in Scotland – yet.

If the Scottish Labour Party was more mindful of its own home rule legacy, the Scottish National Party might not have thrived or even survived long enough to question the suitability of its name. Indeed as former SNP Cabinet Minister, Kenny Macaskill pointed out in the New Statesman, “Labour seemed to be the national party of Scotland, speaking for the Scottish people. All that changed, though, with the referendum on independence and the alliance with the Tories in the Better Together campaign.”

Ultimately though, the name SNP is a signifier not a descriptor -- like most names. Lesley doesn’t describe me - but combined with an unusual surname simply points my way. Similarly the Scottish National Party simply points at the party of government, which is led by a woman confident enough of the goal to feel able to question the name. The absence of ferocious infighting, introspection or even interest within the Yes movement suggests most independence supporters feel the same. It’s the content of the cause not the tilt of the title that excites. That’s not to say Yessers are immune from the temptation to take sides over relatively trivial issues. But the good news for the independence movement is that this isn’t one of them.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537333.1503317109!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537333.1503317109!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon with Elif Shafak (left) at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon with Elif Shafak (left) at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537333.1503317109!/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/scottish-tories-allow-twitter-abuse-councillors-back-into-party-1-4537963","id":"1.4537963","articleHeadline": "Scottish Tories allow Twitter abuse councillors back into party","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503323166000 ,"articleLead": "

The Tories have been branded “disgraceful” by opponents after allowing two councillors who made abusive online comments back into the party fold.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538054.1503322636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alastair Majury and Robert Davies"} ,"articleBody": "

Alastair Majury and Robert Davies have made \"unreserved apologies\" over the comments which were made on social media and emerged in the aftermath of this May's council elections.


They have been warned by party chiefs that any repeat of the behaviour will \"not be tolerated.\"


Majury made controversial comments about independence voters and benefit claimants in a series of posts, as well as making an offensive comment about Catholics in 2012.


He stated: \"Why is the Catholic Church against birth control? Because they'll run out of children to molest.\"

The pair represent Dunblane and Bridge of Allan, and Forth and Endrick.

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Having served a suspension, both councillors have been readmitted to the party after offering unreserved apologies for any offence caused.


\"It has been made abundantly clear that behaviour like this will not be tolerated in future.”

But Labour MSP Monica Lennon said it was “shocking” to the see the suspensions lifted.

“They have made racist and sectarian remarks that have absolutely no place in our society,” she said.

“We have worked hard in Scotland to try to tackle racism and sectarianism and there is still more to do. Representing your community in local government is a privilege and an enormous responsibility. The Tories have badly misjudged this and must think again.”

And Green MSP mark Ruskell tweeted: “Disgraceful, imagine a racist and an internet troll now deciding on @StirlingCouncil school bullying and equalities strategies.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4538054.1503322636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4538054.1503322636!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alastair Majury and Robert Davies","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alastair Majury and Robert Davies","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4538054.1503322636!/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/two-in-three-scottish-votes-wasted-in-general-election-1-4537529","id":"1.4537529","articleHeadline": "Two in three Scottish votes ‘wasted’ in general election","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503300208000 ,"articleLead": "

Two thirds of the votes cast in the general election in Scotland were “wasted” and had no impact on the result, according to voting reform campaigners.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two thirds of Scottish votes were 'wasted' say reform campaigners. Picture: Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

Almost 1.8 million votes cast north of the border in June did not go towards electing an MP, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found. UK-wide, it put that figure at 22 million (68 per cent).

Under the first past the post (FPTP) system, Labour won 27 per cent of the votes cast in Scotland but got just 12 per cent of the seats, while the SNP won 37 per cent of the votes cast but returned almost 60 per cent of the seats, according to its research.

The report also said that Scotland is “shifting back towards multi-party politics” while England goes the other way, as “huge swings” in Scotland saw 21 of the 59 constituencies change hands - more than any other region or nation.

The ERS said voters turned in large numbers to tactical voting strategies and it claimed that some victories achieved in Scotland under FPTP are “precarious” and hinge on just a handful of votes, since it returned four of the UK’s top 10 smallest majorities.

• READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Is the word ‘National’ a weakness for SNP?

It branded the vote the “hold your nose” election after an estimated 6.5 million people across the UK made tactical decisions and said the Conservatives could have won a majority if just 0.0016 per cent of voters had chosen differently.

The ERS said a new method must be introduced and called for Westminster to adopt a more proportional voting system.

Willie Sullivan, Electoral Reform Society Scotland director, said: “Our report shows that 1,759,305 (66.40 per cent) of votes in Scotland were ‘wasted’ - having no impact on the outcome of the election.

“The ways that votes are converted into seats matters. As voters wake up to the failures of FPTP they are increasingly taking on the complex task of trying to game the system to make it reflect their wishes.

“Electors should be able to vote for parties they agree with on the broad sweep of policy, instead of feeling the need to vote tactically based on one significant issue such as independence or Brexit because they fear ‘winner takes all’ dominance.”

The findings are contained in a report published on Monday, entitled The 2017 General Election: Volatile Voting, Random Results.

Its analysis found that 37 of the 50 UK seats with the lowest winning vote share were in Scotland, suggesting that voters are choosing to spread their vote around a range of parties.

It also highlighted the large fluctuations in results between the 2015 and 2017 general elections.

A 43.9 per cent increase in the SNP’s vote share in Glasgow North East recorded two years ago switched to a 9.2 per cent hike for Labour in June.

• READ MORE: SNP’s pro-EU stance contributed to general election losses

“Voters in Scotland appear to have turned in large number to tactical voting strategies in order to break single-party rule,” the report stated.

“Nine of the 10 largest overturned majorities were in Scotland, including Banff and Buchan where a majority of over 14,000 for the SNP turned into a majority for the Conservative party of 3,600.

“An example of voter volatility and how all parties’ fortunes can fluctuate even in a short space of time.

“Scotland also has four of the top 10 smallest majorities (North East Fife, Perth and North Perthshire, Glasgow South West, Glasgow East) demonstrating just how precarious victory can be under first past the post.”

The ERS is demanding a change to a proportional system, such as Scotland’s Single Transferable Vote used in local elections.

Mr Sullivan said: “A proportional system would... create a much broader discussion of politics (and) ensure all votes are of equal value with citizens feeling empowered to take part.

“We need a democracy fit to take on the challenges the 21st century is providing, and that means going beyond first past the post.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Hilary Duncanson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two thirds of Scottish votes were 'wasted' say reform campaigners. Picture: Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two thirds of Scottish votes were 'wasted' say reform campaigners. Picture: Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537528.1503300214!/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-free-trade-is-breaking-down-barriers-1-4537279","id":"1.4537279","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: Free trade is breaking down barriers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503291600000 ,"articleLead": "

Last week Britain’s 
cabinet minister for exiting the EU, David Davis, took time off to be a surprise guest at Alex Salmond’s first Fringe show, but on Thursday he has an 
altogether more serious job when the latest stage of the UK’s Brexit
negotiations resumes. Betting remains open as to which event will
prove to have delivered more laughs.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537278.1503249505!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two men dressed as customs officers take part in a protest outside Stormont against Brexit. Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

During the initial meetings the UK team indulged the EU’s self-serving
demand that the costs of the divorce settlement be discussed first. Now, having properly responded by 
asking for the EU supplicants to provide the legal basis for any payments beyond Brexit – and then having identified what future costs for joint projects the UK might accept as being in our national interest – the numbers have already dropped from talk of £100 billion to £36bn, and may well come down further, so long as any transition period is kept short.

This week the real crux of the 
matter – the trade negotiation and how it will work on a practical as well as an economic basis – finally starts. Davis’s team has been busy publishing position papers and stating its case for a mutually beneficial EU-UK trade deal that would be a win-win for both parties – but this process is as much about politics as it is about economic prosperity and there is a prevailing view in Brussels that the EU should set an example of the UK so that no other countries abandon their political project. This position is not endorsed by most of the member countries who, seeing the UK as a lucrative market, want their important trade with the UK to continue seamlessly without any hiccups.

Most prominent among the position papers is is one that argues why there should not be a hard border between the EU and the UK at the only point where the two jurisdictions meet on land – the 310 miles between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The outcome of this will be of particular interest to Scottish nationalists who will hope that a physical border is avoided, for it would be a further blow to the already desperately poor economic case for Scottish independence.

For all the huffing and puffing by the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, it is beginning to dawn on all parties that it is not especially a British problem, it is entirely Ireland’s problem, for if a hard border materialises it will be because the EU has insisted upon it. The UK does not need a hard border – why should it?

In the event of no trade deal being secured, the UK would simply revert to World Trade Organisation rules and its exports to Ireland would most probably remain tariff-free. It would be the EU that would need the border so it could impose its tariffs, irrespective of what Ireland wants. As both Ireland and the UK are already outside the EU’s Schengen Agreement and there is a common travel agreement between the two countries dating back to 1925, there would be no need to have passport controls.

What the debate surrounding Ireland and its border with the UK points to is how it is the EU that is protectionist and insular – erecting damaging barriers to trade that hurt the world’s poorest and protect large corporations – while it is the UK that is open-hearted and 
wishing to maximise commerce with everybody.

The power that trade offers to raise prosperity and break down old authoritarian or totalitarian orders is a prize worth attaining. That is why trade sanctions are 
usually counter-productive and should preferably only be used in the particular (some advanced 
technology) and not the general.

Key in any Brexit must be the speed at which the UK can adopt existing EU free trade agreements through a grandfathering process
and consecutively introduce its own larger deals with other nations where the EU has failed to strike tariff- or regulation-busting agreements.

For every pound we export to the EU in goods and services, we export two to the rest of the world and that growing gap will accelerate as the emerging markets wish to do more business with us. More than 40 nations are now queuing up for a deal with the UK, not least some of the largest economies such as the US, China and India – but also Saudi Arabia and the five other nations of the Gulf Co-operation Council.

International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has correctly identified the strategic importance of a GCC free trade agreement and has targeted 31 big-ticket exporting opportunities spanning hydrocarbons, defence, infrastructure, science and the creative industries. Only the US, Germany and Switzerland are larger export markets for Britain than the £30bn worth of goods and services the UK exports to the GCC nations every year.

The EU is a cumbersome leviathan, requiring the consent of all 27 member states (and sometimes devolved parliaments too, such as Wallonia), whereas the UK can be nimble by deciding free trade deals for itself. It means we can become more adaptable, more dynamic and more competitive, creating more wealth for more people at home and abroad. A quick signing of an FTA with the GCC – something the EU has failed to achieve despite 20 years of negotiations – would demonstrate the seriousness of the UK’s global trade ambitions.

A good starting point to reboot trade discussions with the GCC will be at the end of the year when the UK is set to host the GCC leaders in London. It is the first time that such a meeting will be hosted outside the Gulf states and is a clear statement of their desire to trade with Britain outside of the EU. Given the instability of the Middle East, trade there can often be viewed as controversial but we should not lose sight of the bigger picture and the power for good that trade can do.

Britain must not miss this opportunity and should extend the warmest of welcomes. The consequences
of not fulfilling our potential in the Gulf would be damaging to the entire process of our EU departure and demonstrating to the world our intention to become the greatest free trading nation on Earth.

For Britain to succeed where the EU has failed will require a determined commitment to building diplomatic and business relations, and not losing sight of the end goal by avoiding hard borders. What others do will become their problem.

Brian Monteith is a director of 
Global Britain

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Monteith"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4537278.1503249505!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4537278.1503249505!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Two men dressed as customs officers take part in a protest outside Stormont against Brexit. Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Two men dressed as customs officers take part in a protest outside Stormont against Brexit. Picture: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4537278.1503249505!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-real-reasons-we-failed-to-reform-drugs-policy-1-4536860","id":"1.4536860","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Real reasons we failed to reform drugs policy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503209594000 ,"articleLead": "

The constitution may have been an obstacle to reform, but it could also lead us to an enlightened approach that saves lives, writes Euan McColm

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The fact that drug deaths in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter in 2016 compared with 2015 has reignited debate. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

Not for the first time, one wondered whether Kenny MacAskill fully understood the implications of what he was saying.

Last week, SNP MP Ronnie Cowan took the unexpected and very welcome step of trying to re-open the debate about the “war on drugs”, which is, of course, the name governments and law enforcement agencies give to their ongoing failure, at huge financial and human cost, to prevent the sale and consumption of illegal substances. It was time for a new approach, said Cowan, pointing to the situation in Portugal where the number of addicts fell after possession was decriminalised.

On the same day that Cowan wrote in the Daily Record on the subject, former Scottish justice secretary MacAskill weighed in with his own piece in Holyrood Magazine. After standing down as an MSP last year, MacAskill has been eager to speak his mind (not least in his regular column for The Scotsman) even when he does not agree with the direction the SNP is taking.

On the subject of illegal drugs – deaths from which rose by 23 per cent last year – MacAskill wrote that it was time for the SNP to seek new powers over legislation from Westminster. Previous silence on the issue, he continued, “may have been understandable when the referendum was ongoing, now it’s simply cowardly as tragedy unfolds”.

The former justice secretary may think that failing to act on this issue because the constitution took precedence was understandable. I’m not so sure. But nationalists will be nationalists, I suppose. The constitution figures in just about every area, so why shouldn’t it impact on drugs policy?

MacAskill previously revealed that the Scottish Government had ruled out giving prisoners the vote during discussions before the 2014 independence referendum in case it harmed the Yes campaign’s cause, so it’s not as though we should be surprised that he feels the constitution has got in the way of a sensible debate about drugs.

Anyway, implicit in MacAskill’s remarks is the fact that the issue of Scottish independence is no longer at the top of any party’s political agenda so let’s skip past his odd justification and get to the meat of what he and Cowan are talking about.

Drug policy is an area that many politicians would prefer not to talk about. Historically, MPs who dared suggest a more liberal approach, perhaps even going so far as to call for decriminalisation, could expect – at best – to find themselves splashed across the pages of tabloid newspapers under a “He’s gone potty!” headline. Across the spectrum, politicians have chosen to avoid the matter if at all possible.

The consequence of this is that our drug laws might not be fit for purpose.

The majority of drug users do not have a problem – other than the fact that they are breaking the law. I’m sure that you know someone or someone who knows someone who uses drugs recreationally with no serious consequences. You know that the wilder rhetoric about the dangers of drug use just doesn’t reflect the experience of the majority of users.

Your mate Bill who smokes a bifter in the greenhouse of a Saturday afternoon is a fairly typical user and he’s no threat to society, is he? He’s just hungry and boring.

Cowan represents Inverclyde, an area where drug addiction has grown as a problem as jobs have become more scarce. When the shipyards were alive with the clatter and clang of production, the dealers had fewer victims on whom to prey. With greater unemployment came more customers looking to blot out the misery of their lives.

Cowan is quite right to question whether addicts – precisely none of whom are having a good time – should still be treated as criminals over their drug use. People addicted to heroin and other class A drugs are victims – initially, perhaps, of their own poor judgment, but eventually of substances which control their lives, destroy relationships and, in an increasing number of cases, kill them.

In what way, I wonder, is the public protected by criminalising these wretched souls?

There is no good reason that booze and tobacco should be legal while cannabis or ecstasy are not. The negative impact of drink and cigarettes is well known. These are substances easily as dangerous as others which are banned.

Taxes on alcohol and tobacco help fund public services, not least the NHS, yet drug barons selling weed to weekend stoners keep all their profits to themselves. Furthermore, they support criminal networks which traffic people and make them work on cannabis farms or force them to risk their liberty by smuggling.

Drug policy is currently the preserve of Westminster and I would be astonished if the current Conservative government was at all minded to change the law. This being so, I’m very much in favour of the Scottish Parliament taking responsibility for this area of legislation.

We have a hypocritical attitude to illegal drugs, turning a blind eye to the philosophy professor who likes a joint after dinner or the banker who snorts a line to kickstart the weekend while treating those who fall prey to opiate addiction as the lowest of the low.

These addicts, generally from poorer backgrounds, are the ones we lock up. Rich drug users aren’t a risk to society, I guess.

Every few years, politicians threaten to have a serious debate about drug policy, to think about whether cannabis should be made legal, whether possession of heroin should be decriminalised, but these debates never really get started before they descend into rows about “junkies” and “law abiding citizens”. Soon, the politician suggesting it’s time for another look at the issue is scared off and we carry on fighting a “war on drugs” that’s so ineffective as to be laughable.

It’s probably too much to hope that Ronnie Cowan will find many politicians (excluding retired ones like MacAskill) rallying to his side on this issue. But let’s hope some do because with increasing numbers of addicts paying for their frailties with their lives, it really is time to think again about whether we should be making criminals out of people who are harming nobody but themselves.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The fact that drug deaths in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter in 2016 compared with 2015 has reignited debate. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The fact that drug deaths in Scotland rose by nearly a quarter in 2016 compared with 2015 has reignited debate. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536859.1503209600!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-snp-must-re-emphasise-nationalism-as-a-positive-1-4536574","id":"1.4536574","articleHeadline": "Leader: SNP must re-emphasise nationalism as a positive","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503153040000 ,"articleLead": "

It is a wonderful moment when our elected politicians are honest. MPs and MSPs typically spend so long trying to avoid answering direct questions that they often end up looking slippery and untrustworthy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536573.1503151946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP supporters. This week Nicola Sturgeon said she felt nationalism had ugly connotations. Picture Jane Barlow/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

And so yesterday it was refreshing to see Nicola Sturgeon engage in an open debate about nationalism, its connotations around the world and even the name of her own party.

The First Minister was speaking during a debate at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, where a Turkish author said nationalism had a very negative and ugly meaning for her, and asked if it could “ever be benign”.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to address Pride Glasgow event

Ms Sturgeon said: “The word is difficult. If I could turn the clock back, what, 90 years, to the establishment of my party, and chose its name all over again, I wouldn’t choose the name it has got just now.”

For the leader of a party to say “I don’t like the name of my party and I wish we could change it”, is unusual. But it is also honest. Nationalism has negative undertones. The First Minister is all the stronger for this statement.

The obvious solution is to change the party’s name, but Ms Sturgeon dismissed this as “far too complicated”. How about the Scotland First Association (SFA), Future for Scotland (FFS) or even Scotland or Bust (SOB)? No, maybe not.

Rebranding, especially as a means of reputation laundering, rarely works.

Far better that the party shows, week in week out, that it really does stand for its stated goal of “civic nationalism” that is in stark contrast to the ethnic nationalism of the BNP and white nationalism in the US.

Sturgeon says: “If Scotland is your home and you feel you have a stake in the country, you are Scottish and you have as much say over the future of the country as I do.”

But many of the SNP’s most vocal supporters trade in a more narrow form of nationalism and our First Minister should do more to reject this view and shout them down. A brand isn’t just in a name; it’s the values you promote day in day out.

Furthermore, the party too easily promotes the idea of “Scotland good, UK bad”. Right-minded voters realise this is too simplistic and we need a more nuanced and grown-up debate about independence.

If that happens, then perhaps nationalism itself can be rebranded as a positive.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTSMAN LEADER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4536573.1503151946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4536573.1503151946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP supporters. This week Nicola Sturgeon said she felt nationalism had ugly connotations. Picture Jane Barlow/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP supporters. This week Nicola Sturgeon said she felt nationalism had ugly connotations. Picture Jane Barlow/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4536573.1503151946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/nicola-sturgeon-admits-national-in-snp-could-be-problematic-1-4535913","id":"1.4535913","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon admits ‘national’ in SNP could be ‘problematic’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503065963000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon admitted she wishes the Scottish National Party had a different name after a leading author delivered a withering attack on nationalism at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4535912.1503063027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon admitted the the word 'national' in her party's name could be 'problematic'. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP leader was appearing at the festival with Turkey’s best selling female author Elif Shafak, a prominent critic of the rise of nationalism in the UK and elsewhere in the world.

READ MORE: BBC ‘discrediting SNP’ over Charlottesville ‘nationalists’

The women were appearing at the festival with Heather McDaid, founder of new Scottish publishing company 404 Ink and coeditor of Nasty Women, an anthology of essays about women in the 21st century

Ms Shufak told Ms Sturgeon that living in a divided Turkey had informed her opinion of nationalism.

“Coming from Turkey and seeing the experiences there and across the Middle East, the Balkans – for us the work nationalism and for me personally is a very negative,” the prize-winning author said.

“I have seen how ugly it can get. How destructive it can become. How violent it can become and it can divide people into imaginary categories and make them lose that cultural co-existence.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Trump visit ‘unthinkable’ after Charlottesville

“When I come here I hear the word nationalism being used more in a different way and I doubt that.

Can nationalism ever be benign? Can it be an enobling thing?

Ms Sturgeon responded by admitting the association with nationalism in the SNP’s name was “difficult” and “hugely problematic” for the party.

The First Minister said: “If I could turn the clock back - what 90 years to the establishment of my party and choose its name all over again. I would not chose the name – I would call it something other than the Scottish National Party.

“People then say well why don’t you change its name now? Well, that would be far too complicated. What those of us who do support Scottish independence are all about could not be more further removed from what you would recognise as nationalism in other parts of the world.

“There are two things that I believe that run so strongly through the Scottish independence movement that firstly, it does not matter where you come from. If Scotland is your home and you live here and you feel you have a stake in the country you are Scottish and you have as much say in the future of the country as I do. That is a civic, open and inclusive view of the world which is so far removed from what you would rightly fear.

She added: “Secondly one of the great motivators for those of us who support Scottish independence is wanting to have a bigger voice in the world. It is about being outward looking and internationalist and not inward looking and insular.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4535912.1503063027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4535912.1503063027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon admitted the the word 'national' in her party's name could be 'problematic'. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon admitted the the word 'national' in her party's name could be 'problematic'. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4535912.1503063027!/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-the-two-different-faces-of-nationalism-1-4535175","id":"1.4535175","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: The two different faces of ‘nationalism’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1503043937000 ,"articleLead": "

History shows us national movements can be either reactionary and intolerant or progressive and inclusive, says Joyce McMillan

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4535174.1503042621!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Virginia have been calling themselves white nationalists. Picture: AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

To the Festival Theatre Studio, earlier this week, to take part in one of the fascinating series of Spirit of 47 events, being staged by the Edinburgh International Festival to mark its 70th anniversary. The subject was the exclusion, from that very first official festival in 1947, of Glasgow Unity Theatre Company, with its acclaimed production of Maxim Gorky’s Lower Depths; and at the core of the debate between the first festival director Rudolph Bing and Robert Mitchell of Glasgow Unity, though, there lay a subject - and a word - that has echoed around the world this week, and sparked some special anxieties here in Scotland.

Mitchell took the view that Scottish work should be represented in the Edinburgh International Festival, not least so as to forge a link with the widest possible Scottish audience; Bing said that given his experience as a member of an Austrian Jewish family forced to flee the Nazis, he would have no truck with “nationalism” of any kind, and only wanted to help heal the wounds of Europe by presenting music, dance and drama of the highest possible standard, regardless of its origin.

And there, right at the founding moment of the Edinburgh Festival, stood the debate about “nationalism” or national identity - what we mean by it, and how it relates to the wider cause of peace, freedom and justice - that still haunts the world today. This week, we have seen neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Virginia marching behind swastikas and confederate flags, and calling themselves “white nationalists”. Yet when the BBC repeated the term, some supporters of Scottish independence - who have had a bruising year, one way and another - took profound offence, declaring that even to use the term nationalist in referring to such a bunch of overt racists was to imply that all nationalism is racist and potentially fascist, and therefore to do harm to their cause.

Now at the level of theory, there should be no difficulty in sorting out the truth - more than evident from the history of the last century - that national movements, often described as “nationalist”, can be either reactionary and intolerant or progressive and inclusive, depending on the circumstances in which they are formed. It is 40 years since the great Scottish theorist of nationalism, Tom Nairn, formulated his idea of nationalism as a “Janus-faced” phenomenon, facing both forward and backward; and if we consider the great national liberation and self-determination movements of the last 120 years, from Ireland to India and every nation that gained independence from the old European empires after the Second World War, or from the Soviet empire in 1989-90, we can see those threads of progress and reaction entwined in every one, in different proportions.

Any creed that involves one identifiable group rebelling against another group is potentially tribal or exclusive, in other words; but where that rebellion is against unjust colonial or imperial rule, against the theft and exploitation of resources and the oppression and destruction of cultures, the nationalist impulse in generally seen as a progressive one, attracting great waves of new thought about freedom and democracy, and a better life for all of the people. And of course, Scotland stands at the very heart of this maelstrom of meanings, as a small nation partly colonised itself - its culture often reduced to tartan kitsch, its best and brightest invited to make their lives elsewhere - and yet also deeply complicit in, and enriched by, the colonising project of the British empire, and the profound racist assumptions it entailed. There’s no doubt that Scotland’s sense of its own identity has sometimes taken on racist and sectarian overtones in the past; and only a fool would argue that it could never do so again, or that racist attitudes do not thrive here as elsewhere. Yet the current Scottish independence movement was forged in the fire of 1980’s opposition to Thatcherism, and then later in opposition to New Labour Blairism; and so it sees itself as a movement of the social-democratic left, taking what is - by current British standards - unusual care to express all the inclusive, anti-racist and pro-European values that should imply, including a warm welcome to migrants and refugees.

And from this, there are perhaps two things to be learned. The first is that peoples who share a place and a culture have a right to self-determination, as defined in the UN Charter, and that their “nationalism” is not always worse - and sometimes better - than the casual nationalism of big existing nation-states, which is often as complacent, intolerant and culturally arrogant as it is unnamed and unacknowledged.

And the second, and by far the most important, is that movements which claim to represent a certain people, or a certain place, have finally to be judged by their actions, and not by the words they use to define themselves. That human identities exist is undeniable; people are aware of themselves as belonging to a particular city or nation, race or culture, gender, sexuality or class. And the question for every movement that seeks to represent those strands of belonging is whether it does so in a spirit of peace, progress, and social justice, or in a spirit of aggression towards others, and of implicit or explicit threat. The people who marched in Virginia last week, with their guns, swastikas and confederate flags, clearly fail that test by any measure; people who could have chosen to fight alongside others for the economic well-being many working-class white Americans feel they have lost, but instead choose to attack their black fellow-citizens.

Whether in the United States, here in the UK, or across the rest of Europe, though, it is for the rest of us to decide whether we feel the politicians and parties we vote for are passing that test, in the way they represent our nations and communities, the language they use, and the vision they propose; and to make that decision not once and for all, but again and again, each day, with the kind of civic care and vigilance that keeps minorities safe and democracy alive, and - in the end - protects our own freedoms, at the times when we need them most.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JOYCE McMILLAN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4535174.1503042621!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4535174.1503042621!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Virginia have been calling themselves white nationalists. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Virginia have been calling themselves white nationalists. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4535174.1503042621!/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/lifestyle/andrew-o-hagan-britain-smashed-by-brexit-and-scotland-under-threat-1-4533444","id":"1.4533444","articleHeadline": "Andrew O'Hagan: Britain 'smashed' by Brexit and Scotland under threat","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502904641842 ,"articleLead": "The prospect of Brexit has “smashed” Britain and left Scotland under threat from a “belated Little England,” one of the nation’s leading writers has declared.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4533443.1502882069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew O'Hagan was delivering a keynote lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival."} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Andrew O’Hagan said Britain had “mismanaged itself out of existence” and warned Scotland had to define itself against “small-nation retreatism.”

The Glasgow-born author said Brexit has created a black hole of “impertinence and impossibility” and a chasm between Scotland and England.

O’Hagan, who said he turned down numerous interviews on his political views in the run-up to the independence referendum, revealed he had long believed that “England was all the better for having Scotland attached to it, and vice versa.”

Delivering a keynote lecture on the future of Scotland, the writer said he felt it was “a different country” in the immediate wake of the 2014 poll, when he said “the major parties won the referendum but lost the future.”

He added: “The fight over Brexit would only deepen the chasm. In fact: Brexit has transformed the chasm into a black hole of impertinence and impossibility.

“Now that the picture is clearing, we are left with an image of a belated Little England posing an existential threat to a Scotland that has seen itself for years as European.

“After Brexit, it seemed overwhelming to many, and not only in Scotland, that Theresa May’s high-handedness — and lack of political courage — has already compromised Britain’s trading position within Europe.

“Yet Scotland’s vote against that outcome was simply too clear for the schism to be papered over in the old way.

“Theresa May, by blankly ignoring this, and by seeking again to appease the right wing of her party, a group yet alien to Scotland, supplied an insult to Scotland’s intelligence that it didn’t take much intelligence to see.”

O’Hagan revealed he had sat in the Supreme Court hearings which led to a ruling that Holyrood should not have a say on the triggering of Article 50.

He added: “It was too little commented on at the time how events in the Supreme Court revealed a blundering attitude towards Scotland’s integrity as a political body.

“For those of us who had always supported the idea of the United Kingdom, it was a shattering moment, to see how willing May was to ride rough-shod over Scotland’s discreet authority, enshrined in the Scotland Act of 1998 and located in the Sewell Convention, so that she could hold onto power and please the Brexiteers whom she had formerly opposed.

“It took the full unfolding of the case to see with total clarity that the Union was corrupted.

“It was the end of another old song and it was hard now to resist the fact that Britain was being smashed by those who claimed to defend it, and that Scotland would probably be a better country for all that.

“Can we with a fresh conscience now say that Britain is taking us forward? Can we say that leaving Europe, without our consent, is set to enhance our children’s lives and connect them more constructively to the world of
the future?

“Our moment has arrived. We are where we are. And it may be that the bigger unity, the modern union meshing Scotland with Europe and the world, is now a journey Scotland makes alone.

“Sitting in the Supreme Court, listening to successive lawyers for the Westminster government commanding Scotland to toe the line, I felt the UK’s ruling council suddenly appeared absurd.

“The moral mandate, and the imaginative mandate, more importantly, must lie with Scotland itself, when it comes to Scotland, and Westminster must answer to itself for how it dismantled a project that it claimed to adore.

“Britain has mismanaged itself out of existence, and Scotland may not be the beneficiary, but it can certainly be the escapee, free to succeed or to fail in its own ways. At least we will enjoy the dignity of not endlessly repeating a history we know has come to an end.”

O’Hagan told his sold-out audience that many young people in Scotland felt they had been “sold out” by their own grandparents, adding: “Strangely, it is the younger ones who are more profoundly in touch with Scotland’s intellectual traditions.”

He said: “Scotland used to feel too sorry for itself, and was once addicted to historical injury, but that notion is now as old as the people who said it, and I should know because I’m one.

“Every nation with a rich past has sectarianisms to deal with, but our job is to engage them, not simply by denouncing them, but by supplanting them with bigger thoughts and more exacting passions.

“That is where we are today, where we are in these gardens of the imagination, digging for fresh truth amid too many old prejudices going nowhere.

“Rather than pretend, as various politicians do, that they have all the answers, why not start, in this place, by admitting we are boldly searching.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "brian.ferguson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4533443.1502882069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4533443.1502882069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andrew O'Hagan was delivering a keynote lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew O'Hagan was delivering a keynote lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4533443.1502882069!/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/bbc-discrediting-snp-over-charlottesville-nationalists-1-4534044","id":"1.4534044","articleHeadline": "BBC ‘discrediting SNP’ over Charlottesville ‘nationalists’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502902494000 ,"articleLead": "

Supporters of Scottish independence have accused the BBC of seeking to discredit the SNP by calling far-right demonstrators who provoked the Charlottesville unrest “white nationalists.”

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4468265.1502902463!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Supporters of Scottish independence have accused the BBC of seeking to discredit the SNP Picture: Robert Perry/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

James Cook, the BBC’s North America Correspondent, was forced to reject an “Orwellian” attempt to censor use of a widely-understood term.

Since the fatal rally, the BBC has been target of tweets such as “Can’t believe the BBC invented nazism to discredit the SNP.”

Cook, a former BBC Scotland Correspondent who played a prominent role reporting the independence referendum, responded to the allegations on Twitter. “US readers may be startled to learn that some Scottish nationalists say our use of ‘white nationalist’ is designed to discredit the SNP,” he wrote.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Trump visit ‘unthinkable’ after Charlottesville

Cook, a former BBC Scotland Correspondent who played a prominent role reporting the independence referendum, responded to the allegations on Twitter.

“US readers may be startled to learn that some Scottish nationalists say our use of ‘white nationalist’ is designed to discredit the SNP,” he wrote.

Cook wrote: “Should we stop using ‘white nationalists’ in US because a tiny number of folk are offended? No, that would be absurd and Orwellian.”

READ MORE: Andrew O’Hagan: Britain “smashed” by Brexit and Scotland under threat

He conceded that “why we call Scottish nationalists ‘nationalists’ while labelling British nationalists ‘unionists’ is a fair question.”

“Both sides have happily used these terms to describe themselves for many years.”

The BBC reporter wrote: “I have never tried to compare the ‘yes’ movement to Nazis and I don’t know of any BBC colleague who has done so either.”

He had not simply used the word “nationalist” in his Charlottesville comments.

“We’ve been discussing the phrase ‘white nationalist’. But I do prefer, on most occasions, white supremacists as a term.”

Cook has used “Nazis” and “fascists” to describe the groups who praised President Trump’s pugilistic press conference on Tuesday night.

“Is ‘nationalist’ an inherently damaging term?,” Cook asked.

“I don’t think so. Is it useful? Not without context which we should try to spell out.”

SNP politicians entered the debate. Former MP John Nicolson said: “I suspect that were one to start from scratch one might have adopted another name. Scottish Democrats; “fellow Democrats” would work for me.”

SNP MP Peter Grant told Cook: “UK parties falsely equate nationalism with racism to discredit the SNP, then can’t accept that they are nationalists as well.”

This story originally featured on our sister site: iNews.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ADAM SHERWIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4468265.1502902463!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4468265.1502902463!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Supporters of Scottish independence have accused the BBC of seeking to discredit the SNP Picture: Robert Perry/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Supporters of Scottish independence have accused the BBC of seeking to discredit the SNP Picture: Robert Perry/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4468265.1502902463!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1502900236572"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/scott-macnab-why-salmond-s-joke-isn-t-funny-any-more-1-4532976","id":"1.4532976","articleHeadline": "Scott Macnab: Why Salmond’s joke isn’t funny any more","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502822830000 ,"articleLead": "

The former First Minister’s difficulties over a Fringe quip raise wider questions about changing attitudes, says Scott Macnab

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532975.1502822798!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmonds attempt at humour was a joke that belongs in the Benny Hill era said Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

One of my favourite jokes from years gone by involved a lion tamer, a nun and half a bag of self-raising flour. Even then, and we’re going back two decades or more, it was near the knuckle – but guaranteed to raise contortions of laughter.

It seemed harmless enough but nowadays it could breach a number of laws in Scotland including breach of the peace and the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act. I’m not sure about food hygiene regulations.

Suffice to say, I’m probably a bit of a dinosaur in this area and the joke is never to be repeated. Just as harsh is the public opprobrium that meets any breach of the norms of good taste in this viral age that can result in instant and widespread condemnation. And of course, that’s entirely right.

Times change, as do the boundaries of acceptability. But the sharpening of sensitivities struck me when Alex Salmond found himself in the firing line after his opening Edinburgh Festival Fringe show. He made a risqué quip during Sunday’s show, reminding his sell-out crowd at the Assembly Rooms he’d promised them First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Prime Minister Theresa May and US First Lady Melania Trump as guests. “Unfortunately I couldn’t make any of these wonderful women come” – at this point he was interrupted by a mock comedic drum roll. Cue feigned indignation from Salmond, who insisted he was going to say “come to the show”.

The anecdote seemed to prompt laughter and cringes in equal measure from the audience of 350, but little sign of offence. Perhaps that’s understandable given they were pretty much all independence-supporting loyalists.

Mr Salmond’s opponents took a more solemn approach, insisting his comments had to be taken seriously. Not only were they “degrading” to female political leaders, they were sexist and set a 
“horrendous” example to young men.

Of course much of this is the customary knockabout we’ve come expect in the goldfish bowl of Scottish politics. If similar comments had been made by Jimmy Carr or some other custodian of our late night television screens, it’s doubtful it would have prompted the same kind of response.

Of course Mr Salmond is not a late night TV host and as a former First Minister who changed the face of Scotland will always have to accept an element of scrutiny that never disappears. Talat Yaqoob, chair of the Women 5050 campaign, saw the joke as an illustration of the “vast sexism” women face in Scotland when they’re trying to enter politics. Women still account for barely a third of MSPs while just one in three candidates were women at Scottish council election earlier this summer. So this is clearly a substantial issue.

Perception is everything when it comes to encouraging greater inclusiveness. Newspapers and journalists, of course, should be the last to complain about a good political row as it’s invaluable copy for filling newspapers and web pages.

Ms Sturgeon was quick to defend Mr Salmond, insisting he’s no sexist – although maybe he’s not always as funny as he thinks he is. “Perhaps this was a joke that belongs in the Benny Hill era,” she said.

In the Twitter age, it seems sensitivities over such issues are beginning to harden. It’s partly down to the fact that information can be disseminated around the globe in an instant – but has this also served to sharpen our attitudes? Ms Sturgeon herself was at the centre of a sexism storm last year when the then Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith came under fire after posting a picture of a jar of gobstoppers and suggesting it was the “perfect present” for the First Minister. The implication was that she should be quiet, but the situation was further inflamed when he tried to play down the incident by describing it as “political banter”.

The consequences of such gaffes can be terminal. Earlier this year, Uber’s David Bonderman was forced to stand down from the board of the technology giant after another attempt at “banter” fell flat. Responding to an observation from fellow board member Arianna Huffington that where one woman is on a company’s board it is more likely to lead to a second, Bonderman said: “Actually what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.” And this was during an all-staff meeting at a firm which was battling to rid itself of a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination. The venture capitalist did later apologise.

As technology and social media exert an ever-tightening grip on our everyday existence, it seems such attitudes and behaviour will increasingly fall under the microscope of the new virtual court of public opinion. News websites chasing “hits” know exactly the kind of buzzwords that will generate interest. Sexism, racism, sectarianism rows – all sure to get the masses posting – are rigorously pursued.

Social media has been welcomed by politicians who see it as an ideal way to enjoy a more direct contact with the public by avoiding the filter, dare I say scrutiny, of more traditional platforms, such as TV and newspapers. Sometimes, in the political realm at least, it can seem like a limited group of converts preaching to each other. And given events of the past year or so, surely that kind of disconnect must be viewed with trepidation. Look at the swathes of Middle England who felt left behind political elites and voted for Brexit. And across the Atlantic, it was blue-collar America who voted Donald Trump into power, amid a sense of disaffection with the Washington establishment.

On such a mercurial new civic stage, where careers and reputations can be forged or ruined with the drop of a tweet, what class of politician is likely to emerge? The danger is a generation of leaders primed to react to every shifting whim of the online masses, responding to what’s trending in the virtual world, perhaps even more than what’s going on out there in the real world.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532975.1502822798!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532975.1502822798!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmonds attempt at humour was a joke that belongs in the Benny Hill era said Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmonds attempt at humour was a joke that belongs in the Benny Hill era said Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532975.1502822798!/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/celebrity/susan-calman-signs-up-for-strictly-come-dancing-1-4532622","id":"1.4532622","articleHeadline": "Susan Calman signs up for Strictly Come Dancing","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502803910000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish comedian Susan Calman is the ninth celebrity to join the Strictly Come Dancing line-up.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532621.1502803878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Susan Calman\\n. Picture: Steve Ullathorne"} ,"articleBody": "

She shared her excitement at finally being revealed as the ninth star to be taking part in the series on Jeremy Vine’s BBC Radio 2 show, after weeks of keeping it a secret.

Calman said: “It was three weeks of terror to this particular moment, and thank goodness it’s finally here.

“I was not allowed to tell anybody what’s happening, so it’s been confidential. But I am so excited, I’ve been a Strictly superfan for years and this is going to be the best ride possible.”

She said she has not danced since she was at school and that she is “the last person on the dancefloor”.

READ MORE: Susan Calman: Death threats for independence satire

“I don’t particularly enjoy dancing in a lot of ways, I haven’t worn heels or a dress since I was 17 and I haven’t danced with a man in over a decade.”

Calman said she is 4ft 10in tall, but that having a low centre of gravity should help her on the dancefloor.

She also said: “My mother will die happy to see me in a dress. To finally see me in glitter and a dress.”

Calman, 42, posted a cryptic photograph on Twitter the day before the announcement.

Alongside a shot of her feet, she wrote: “Sleeper train to London. Off on an adventure. Best foot forward. Which I think is this one.”

In 2006 Calman decided to give up her career as a corporate lawyer to work as a comedian.

She was recently seen on screen hosting BBC One’s daytime quiz show, The Boss, and also fronted BBC Four’s Prejudice And Pride: The People’s History Of LGBTQ Britain alongside Stephen K Amos.

Calman has appeared on comedy panel shows including QI and Mock The Week.

She penned a book called Cheer Up Love in which she wrote openly about dealing with depression.

Last year Calman married Lee Cormack - her partner of over a decade - who is a lawyer.

In July she announced she was cancelling her Autumn tour dates, The Calman Before The Storm, due to a “television commitment”.

Posting on Twitter she explained: “It is with huge regret that I’ve had to cancel my tour dates in Autumn. I was really looking forward to performing but unfortunately a television commitment has come up which means I won’t be able to tour.

“This is a decision that hasn’t been taken lightly, I know that many people have bought tickets far in advance and I apologise from the bottom of my heart. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to the venues involved soon and make it up to you.”

She joins the other eight celebrity contestants already announced, which include The Saturdays’ Mollie King, former JLS singer Aston Merrygold and This Morning’s Ruth Langsford.

Also hoping to samba to success are Sunday Brunch presenter Simon Rimmer, former Emmerdale star Gemma Atkinson, Reverend Richard Coles, Holby City’s Joe McFadden and EastEnders star Davood Ghadami.

READ MORE: Comedy review: Susan Calman: The Calman Before The Storm

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532621.1502803878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532621.1502803878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Susan Calman\\n. Picture: Steve Ullathorne","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Susan Calman\\n. Picture: Steve Ullathorne","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532621.1502803878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"http://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/media-leisure/john-mclellan-kezia-dugdale-and-the-defamation-lottery-1-4532150","id":"1.4532150","articleHeadline": "John McLellan: Kezia Dugdale and the defamation ‘lottery’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502779607000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale may be quietly satisfied the defamation action launched against her by the Nationalist blogger Stuart Campbell, the man behind the Wings over Scotland website, is opening up divisions amongst independence activists.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532149.1502779674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kevia Dugdale is being sued by pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

At issue is a nasty Twitter comment by Campbell about Conservative MSP Oliver Mundell, saying he wished Mundell’s father, Scotland Secretary David, had embraced his homosexuality earlier and so Mundell Junior would never have been born.

• READ MORE: Wings Over Scotland begins fundraiser in Labour defamation action

In her Daily Record column, Dugdale accused him of homophobia and now Campbell is suing her for £25,000 damages and has launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay for the case. Whether Campbell’s tweet was homophobic or not has split Nationalists, some saying his comments were just robust political jibes against a hated foe, others that he has brought the movement into disrepute.

But has the Rev Campbell, as he styles himself, been defamed or not? From similar cases he could be on shaky ground.

Ex-Scottish Socialist MSP Frances Curran sued the Sunday Mail in 2010 for a column by her former colleague Tommy Sheridan which described her as a “scab”. Curran argued there could be no worse accusation against a committed Socialist but the judge ruled it was just a description of political disloyalty.

In 2007, the late political journalist Angus McLeod lost an action against the Sunday Herald in which diarist Alan Taylor described him as “justly renowned for his powers of invention”. The ruling was that readers would get the joke and not think it meant McLeod made up his stories.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

Ex-Scottish Media Group director Alistair Moffat unsuccessfully sued the West Highland Free Press in 2000 over an article describing him as the “Laird of Coocaddens’ in-house-bully”, a reference to the now defunct SMG’s HQ in Cowcaddens. The judge said calling someone a bully “does not mean he has been given to bullying”, so even if Campbell’s words were homophobic it does not necessarily follow he is a homophobe.

The caveat is that such jibes are not defamatory as long as they do not attack private character, and while Dugdale condemns the remark her article falls short of directly calling Campbell a homophobe. The court also has to decide if his reputation had been lowered in the minds of “right-thinking members of society”, but although Campbell is known for aggressive and controversial opinion that’s not impossible.

Normally the advice in a case like this would be to settle, but this is politics and if Campbell raises the money it could well go all the way.

Defamation is often a lottery and the question is who has the most to lose. I doubt it’s Campbell.

• John McLellan is director of the Scottish Newspaper Society and a City of Edinburgh Conservative councillor

Click here to ‘Like’ The Scotsman Business on Facebook

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "John McLellan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4532149.1502779674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4532149.1502779674!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kevia Dugdale is being sued by pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kevia Dugdale is being sued by pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4532149.1502779674!/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/alex-salmond-s-fringe-show-panned-by-critics-in-first-reviews-1-4531884","id":"1.4531884","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond’s Fringe show panned by critics in first reviews","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502741285000 ,"articleLead": "

In perhaps one of the more surprising recent turns at the Edinburgh Fringe, a variety show is being hosted every day for a fortnight by one of Scotland’s most recognisable politicians.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531886.1502735688!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

It is not unusual to see politicians in Edinburgh during the World’s biggest arts festival, but they usually stick to the more cerebral surroundings of the city’s book Festival.

Alex Salmond’s show, called ‘Unleashed’ is more like the traditional comedy shows that pepper the Fringe’s many venues throughout the month of August.

No matter what the reviews say, the show is a success by most measures already, having sold out its entire two-week run, with two extra shows already added.

Mr Salmond kicked off his show with the first of his surprise guests yesterday, Brexit Secretary David Davis.

After one performance, here are what some of the first reviewers are saying, and it doesn’t make good reading for fans of the ex-SNP leader.

Our take

The Scotsman, of course, is the essential paper for reviews of the best and most talked-about shows at the Fringe, and while many have been far from impressed, our critic Kate Copstick gave the show a glowing four stars.

“I think we would have been happy with the man himself for an hour – he is a genuinely engaging bloke,” she wrote. “Of course he is, he is a politician. But with Eck you feel there is a proper bloke in there. Especially when he’s not got his public speaking voice on.”

Our political correspondent Scott Macnab attended the show, and noted that Alex Salmond had to warn his audience to be kind to his first ‘surprise guest’.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond adds extra dates to Fringe show

He wrote: “The MP, referred to as a “friend” by Salmond, drew gasps when he was unveiled as the first guest for the start of the sell-out run Alex Salmond...Unleashed at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms.

“Salmond told his audience that Davis was on course to be Britain’s “next Prime Minister.” The pair have been friends dating back to their work together on the campaign to bring former Prime Minister Tony Blair to account over the war in Iraq.

“Mr Davis repeatedly joked that the appearance could “ruin my career” as he was introduced to the crowd by the former First Minister.”

Bad reviews

Mr Salmond is a novice at Fringe performance, but after numerous public speeches, he should be able to hold a crowd.

The Guardian gave Mr Salmond’s shows two stars, not for a lack of stage presence, which they praised, but for going soft on his guest David Davis, and for a lack of revelations which tie in with the title.

They wrote: “(Salmond) is buttoned up no more, and we buckle up for juicy gossip from behind the scenes of Scottish and UK politics.

“But that’s not what we get”.

READ MORE: David Davis wins over nationalists in Salmond show

The two-star review in the Evening Standard, edited by a political foe of David Davis, George Osborne, was decidedly more unkind.

Mr Salmond was a purveyor of ‘bland anecdotes’, according to the London paper, and the interactions between Mr Salmond and Mr Davis were full of soft questions.

The review is summed up by the final line: “Salmond is a convivial host, but Graham Norton has nothing to worry about.”

Very bad reviews

The Daily Mail, no fan of the former First Minister, commissioned regular columnist Stephen Daisley, who took aim at both host and audience in an eviscerating review.

He notes that Salmond’s show is indeed sold out – but that ‘irony didn’t get a ticket’.

He added: “As with the SNP these days, Alex Salmond... Unleashed felt directionless and in search of a purpose.

“My occasional chuckle was usually a pity laugh, and pity took up much of my time as Salmond strutted eagerly around the stage, straining to feign relevance.”

The Times’ review took issue with a lewd joke that the “leering” and “unctuous” First Minister delivered, with the punchline seemingly about sex with female political leaders.

Reviewer Mike Wade wrote: “For those less enamoured of the former MP, Mr Salmond’s running gag was the stuff of nightmares.”

Not all bad

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the former First Minister if he is perusing the reviews of “Unleashed”.

Unsurprisingly, the pro-independence National newspaper gave the show a perfect five-star score, praising the hosting abilities of Salmond, who penned a column in the paper.

They praise Mr Salmond’s approach to a post-show signing event in which he apparently engages with fans ‘with a sincerity that cannot be faked’.

Mr Salmond’s show, according to the paper: “A treat for anyone, no matter their political persuasion.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4531886.1502735688!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531886.1502735688!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4531886.1502735688!/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-has-alex-salmond-got-it-right-this-time-1-4531095","id":"1.4531095","articleHeadline": "Lesley Riddoch: Has Alex Salmond got it right this time?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502686800000 ,"articleLead": "

The former First Minister is hardly a flawless tipster but independence in four years can’t be ruled out says Lesley Riddoch

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531094.1502656922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond is back in the headlines with his high-profile festival show and a prediction that Scotland will be independent in four years. Picture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

Has Alex Salmond done it again? At the weekend the former SNP leader kicked off a series of shows at the Edinburgh Festival with an unexpected choice of guest in Brexit Secretary David Davis and the bold claim that Scotland will be independent within four years – a prediction that runs counter to the current gloomy narrative about a terminally stalled independence movement.

Predictions of success from a senior advocate of home rule are hardly surprising. So it may seem puzzling this one made the headlines over the weekend.

But of course there are other currents running.

The former First Minister is famously a “marmite” politician (though show me a Scottish political leader who is not) and is unquestionably the author of catchy time-related predictions that have generally failed to materialise.

Free by 93 – not really. And Salmond’s description of the indyref as “a once in a generation - perhaps even a once in a lifetime opportunity” has become a stick with which to whack the continuing Yes campaign.

There are downsides to Salmond’s predictions, but there is the greater upside of focusing minds on the very near future – and that’s even more important in the doldrum days Scotland is experiencing right now. In talking about the chances of big change within the next four years Salmond is gently slapping the Yes movement and indeed the whole electorate out of its drowsy post general election trance.

Timescales, like deadlines, focus minds. And even though Brexit has left Scots feeling like mere onlookers in a political drama conducted elsewhere, that situation can and must be reversed.

Salmond’s whole purpose as First Minister and SNP leader was to convince Scots they are players not watchers; members of a nation that’s perfectly capable of playing a confident and active role within or outwith the UK - not grumbling along as a resentful and passive spectator.

He was right then and he’s right now.

The future is still all up for grabs as the tectonic plates underpinning the Union creak and shift.

A majority of Scots did indeed vote to stay in the Union, but an even larger majority voted to stay in the EU - sooner or later the incompatibility of that dual stance will be glaringly obvious, even to those whose instinct has been to support the Union through hell and high water.

Much as middle Scotland doesn’t want to be forced into choosing between a Brexit-bound Britain and an independent Scotland in Europe, the good ship Caledonia is being towed directly to that very point of departure – or submission.

Meanwhile, the wheels are steadily coming off the Brexit wagon.

The clenched-teeth grins by Chancellor Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox this weekend are proof. Why did these senior cabinet members feel they had to jointly declare that a transition period will not be a “back door” to dumping Brexit? Presumably because many erstwhile opponents of EU membership are now organising for just such an outcome.

As Scottish historian Tom Devine points out: “Last year the UK had the highest growth rate in Europe; and this year the lowest. The sustained fall in sterling has pushed up inflation and the Bank of England has started to consider raising interest rates.” He suggests there is a “slowly opening window” of opportunity to ensure Brexit never happens. Scots should be at the forefront of that mission.

If you ask whether Brexit will prompt Scottish independence, folk are doubtful. But if you ask whether Scotland will still be part of the UK in 10 or 20 years, few unionist commentators can see the Union holding up that long.

Indeed, writers like Anthony Barnett suggest a more vigorous force is dismantling the British state than the restive Scots – or the tough negotiators of the EU. It is a growing sense of Englishness, released but not perfectly expressed by the Brexit vote.

In his new book, Brexit; The Lure of Greatness, Barnett argues; “Unable to exit Britain, the English did the next best thing and told the EU to ‘f-off’. It was a displacement of feelings for their own elite. English attachment to the British state is the problem. To make her Brexit work, the prime minister of England, for that is what she is, must discipline Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and subordinate them to her will.”

Such subordination may create a Celtic backlash as Scots are forced to choose which parliament really commands their loyalty.

Step back, and it does seem apparent that Scotland is on a journey. Since “we always wait too long” the journey may be more complicated and clumsy than strictly necessary. The first devolution referendum in 1979 was less than conclusive and the second decisive vote came almost twenty years later. The question is whether the same lengthy gap will be needed before Scots take the next and final step towards self-government, or whether experience and the pressure of events telescopes this intervening period.

No-one knows.

The improved prospects of a Labour victory at the next general election may seem tasty enough to keep left-leaning Scots within the Union camp. But some Corbyn supporters see no contradiction in backing independence too. According to Cat Boyd; “If one day soon Scotland is negotiating its independence, I know who I’d prefer on the other side of the table. That’s why, I’m standing in the middle of two-way traffic, as a pro-independence Corbyn supporter.”

So will Alex Salmond be left with egg on his face in 2021 - indeed will anyone remember such detail in the meltdown we may then be facing?

Well, that’s the measure of the man. Real leadership is the ability to make a judgment call when the result isn’t in the bag. When there’s a foregone conclusion, very little courage is needed to steer a path. But since little is certain these days, decision makers can seem paralysed, immersing themselves in a world of meetings, consultations and policy advisers to better divine what lies ahead.

Yet one thing is clear. What approaches is an English-shaped Brexit not supported by the outlook of the Scottish Parliament, the shape of our civic institutions, our voting record over decades and our clearly stated preference for remaining part of the EU.

Is that enough to push independence over the line by 2021? It might well be.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LESLEY RIDDOCH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4531094.1502656922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4531094.1502656922!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond is back in the headlines with his high-profile festival show and a prediction that Scotland will be independent in four years. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond is back in the headlines with his high-profile festival show and a prediction that Scotland will be independent in four years. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4531094.1502656922!/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/philip-hammond-accused-of-caving-to-hard-line-cabinet-brexiteers-1-4530987","id":"1.4530987","articleHeadline": "Philip Hammond accused of caving to hard line Cabinet Brexiteers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502645746000 ,"articleLead": "

Chancellor Philip Hammond has been accused of caving in to hard line Cabinet Brexiteers after accepting Britain will withdraw from the European single market and the customs union when it leaves the EU in 20 months’ time.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4530986.1502645715!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond (front left) has been accused of caving to hard line Brexiteers. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Alex Salmond: Scots will vote for independence within 4 years

Read more at:

After a summer of ministerial feuding, Mr Hammond, who favours a “softer” pro-business Brexit, came together with International Trade Secretary Liam Fox, from the Brexiteer wing of the party, to declare there could be no “back door” attempt to keep Britain in the EU.

In a joint article for the Sunday Telegraph, they agreed that while a period of transition would be needed after 2019 to prevent a damaging “cliff-edge” break with the EU, it would be “time limited” and would mean pulling out of both the single market and the customs union.

Prime Minister Theresa May will hope the intervention of the two ministers will cool temperatures in the Tory ranks amid divisions over Brexit and speculation of a possible leadership challenge when MPs return to Westminster in September.

However, Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said it was clear that Mr Hammond had lost his power struggle with the Brexiteers.

“Over the summer, we heard that Philip Hammond was courageously fighting off the more extreme Brexiteers. Supposedly he was looking for a compromise to keep Britain within the customs union and single market as long as possible,” he said.

“The rebellion didn’t last very long. He has now teamed up with one of the more extreme and ideological supporters of a ‘hard Brexit’. It is now painfully clear who calls the shots in the Cabinet; it isn’t the Chancellor.”

READ MORE - David Davis wins over nationalists at Alex Salmond Fringe show

In contrast, the joint move was welcomed by the pro-Brexit Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson who said it was the “right way forward”.

“Create certainty and great new European relationship. Get job done + on with Global Britain,” he wrote on Twitter.

In their article, Mr Hammond and Dr Fox said a transition period was needed to give businesses confidence they would be able to carry on trading normally.

“That is why we believe a time-limited interim period will be important to further our national interest and give business greater certainty - but it cannot be indefinite; it cannot be a back door to staying in the EU,” they wrote.

“We are both clear that during this period the UK will be outside the customs union and will be a ‘third country’, not a party to EU treaties.”

Meanwhile, the leading Conservative Remainer Anna Soubry indicated she could be prepared to join with politicians from other parties to stop the country “staggering recklessly” towards a hard break with Brussels.

“Could I ever see myself joining with like-minded people who want to save our country from such an appalling fate? And has that moment arrived yet?” she wrote in an article for The Mail on Sunday.

“The answer to the first question is ‘it is not impossible’; the answer to the second is ‘no’. But I would be betraying my principles if I did not make it clear that country must always come before party.”

Brexit Secretary David Davis said exactly how the transitional arrangements would work had still to be determined.

“By triggering Article 50 in March of this year we leave in March 2019, what the transition period will look like is down to the negotiations,” he said during a surprise appearance at Alex Salmond’s show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

However Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, a supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said that without membership of the single market and the customs union, the country would be worse off.

“Pulling Britain out of the single market and the customs union in 2019 will drive our economy over a cliff edge, putting jobs and family finances at risk,” he said.

“Nobody voted to be poorer last year but that is exactly what will happen if the Government continues to put Eurosceptic dogma ahead of the national interest.”

READ MORE - Ruth Davidson ‘is next Margaret Thatcher’, says Jeffrey Archer

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "GAVIN CORDON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4530986.1502645715!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4530986.1502645715!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond (front left) has been accused of caving to hard line Brexiteers. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chancellor Philip Hammond (front left) has been accused of caving to hard line Brexiteers. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4530986.1502645715!/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/david-davis-wins-over-nationalists-at-alex-salmond-fringe-show-1-4530883","id":"1.4530883","articleHeadline": "David Davis wins over nationalists at Alex Salmond Fringe show","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502639607000 ,"articleLead": "

Tory Brexit Secretary David Davis today won a warm reception from an audience of independence supporters with a tale about the Prime Minister's lack of humour at Alex Salmond's Fringe show.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4530882.1502637972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Davis was Salmond's first guest today"} ,"articleBody": "

The MP, referred to as a \"friend\" by Salmond, drew gasps when he was unveiled as the first guest for the start of the sell-out run Alex Salmond...Unleashed at Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms.

Salmond told his audience that Davis was on course to be Britain's \"next Prime Minister.\"

The pair have been friends dating back to their work together on the campaign to bring former Prime Minister Tony Blair to account over the war in Iraq.

Mr Davis repeatedly joked that the appearance could \"ruin my career\" as he was introduced to the crowd by the former First Minister.

A 30 minute question and answer session between the pair, saw Salmond tease Davis about replacing Theresa may in Downing Street, insisting he was the favourite ahead of other candidates like Jacob-Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson

\"That's the most dangerous place to be\" Mr Davis joked.

Referring to his defeat to David Cameron in the 2005 race for the Tory top job, he added: \"I'm really a very bad leadership campaigner.\"

Mr Davis also revealed that he was given a choice by Mrs May about what his title would be when she called on him to head up the Brexit negotiations last year.

\"It could either be Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, or Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.

\"I'm afraid I was a victim of my own sense of humour and said it's got to be Exiting - then it can be Department X.\"

Referring to the Prime Minister's reaction, he added: \"Not a thing..\"

The anecdote prompted laughter among the crowd present, as Salmond joked: \"Are you saying the Prime Minister doesn't have a sense of humour?\"

Davis laughed: \"I told you what this would do to my career.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4530882.1502637972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4530882.1502637972!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Davis was Salmond's first guest today","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Davis was Salmond's first guest today","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4530882.1502637972!/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":1502626902000 ,"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/1.4488099.1501067333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon had described another independence vote as 'highly likely'. Picture: 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.

READ MORE: Festival to showcase Alliance of Defiance

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/1.4488099.1501067333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1501067333!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon had described another independence vote as 'highly likely'. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon had described another independence vote as 'highly likely'. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4488099.1501067333!/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/alex-salmond-scots-will-vote-for-independence-within-4-years-1-4529994","id":"1.4529994","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond: Scots will vote for independence within 4 years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502549011000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish independence has been \"inevitable\" since the creation of Holyrood two decades ago, Alex Salmond today said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4530030.1502539901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former First Minister Alex Salmond launches his Fringe show at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

And the country will vote Yes within four years when a second referendum is staged following the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, the former First Minister added.

He also said the SNP had handled the Michelle Thomson case \"badly\" and repeated calls for her to be readmitted to the party - but said the media bore the lion's share of responsibility for her downfall.

\"I think Scotland will become independent - I think that was rendered inevitable when the Scottish Parliament was established, because sooner or later the Parliament will become an independent Parliament,\" he said in Edinburgh today ahead of the launch of his Fringe show.

\"I can't actually think of a case where a Parliament has lost powers. That doesn't happen - Parliaments accumulate powers. I thought independence was inevitable from when the Parliament was established in 1999.\"

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

The outcome of the current Brexit debate will determine the timing of the next referendum on independence, Mr Salmond added. Nicola Sturgeon was forced to \"reset\" her plans for a another referendum follwing Brexit after the SNP lost more than 20 seats at the recent general election when the issue dominated the campaign. But the Scottish Parliament has already voted for indyref2 and Ms Sturgeon still plans to stage a second referendum after Brexit is concluded.

\"If Brexit is a soaraway success, the most amazing thing that's happened since sliced bread, I think that will postpone the independence referendum and therefore postpone independence,\" Mr Salmond said.

\"But I don't know anybody that thinks that now - unless they think it's a Titanic success like Boris Johnson. So therefore I think the referendum will be in the next three to four years, depending on the transition period from Brexit and I think the result will be a Yes.\"

The ex-SNP leader was speaking ahead of his Edinburgh Festival Fringe show Alex Salmond Unleashed which gets underway in the city's Assembly Rooms tomorrow.

The show takes the format of a question and answer session with different invited guests every day, although he has declined to reveal who these will be.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4530030.1502539901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4530030.1502539901!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former First Minister Alex Salmond launches his Fringe show at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former First Minister Alex Salmond launches his Fringe show at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4530030.1502539901!/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/tommy-sheppard-to-deliver-annual-thomas-muir-lecture-1-4528047","id":"1.4528047","articleHeadline": "Tommy Sheppard to deliver annual Thomas Muir lecture","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502366565000 ,"articleLead": "

An SNP MP has described the “enormous honour” of being invited to deliver the annual Thomas Muir lecture to commemorate the life and work of the 18th century Scottish radical.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4528045.1502366642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Sheppard will deliver the annual Thomas Muir lecture on August 24. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

Tommy Sheppard said the event was a chance to reflect on the radical tradition in Scotland and “the synergy between the nationalist and socialist movements”.

The MP for Edinburgh East will speak at St Mary’s Cathedral in the capital on Thursday, August 24 at 7pm.

Born in Glasgow in 1765, Muir dropped out of his divinity studies at the University of Glasgow at the age of 17 and began studying law. Following the outbreak of the French Revolution, he associated himself with the radical wing of the Whig party and began openly calling for political reform.

He was charged with sedition and stood trial in 1793 for “exciting a spirit of disloyalty and disaffection”, recommending Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’, and for distributing and reading aloud inflammatory writings. Muir defended himself at the trial but was found guilty and sentenced to fourteen years transportation to Botany Bay in Australia.

He escaped in 1796 but died in France three years later having been seriously injured on his return to Europe.

Sheppard, a former Labour party official who joined the SNP in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum, said: “Muir’s trial was a clear example of political abuse of the justice system by the ruling classes. But the publicity given to Muir and his ideas during the trial actually helped the cause. In Muir they had a martyr whose treatment articulated the need for reform and strengthened the movement.

“Parliamentary reform is still needed today. Yes, we have the basic elements of democracy in place but there are still fundamental problems with the system. I have long been involved in with the Electoral Reform Society and the Make Votes Matter campaign for proportional representation. We need to get rid of first past the post, the rotten borough of today. A system which perpetuates a two-party political state and neuters smaller parties even when they have a significant portion of the vote across the country.”

READ MORE: Discovery sheds new light on life of Scottish political radical Thomas Muir

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4528045.1502366642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4528045.1502366642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tommy Sheppard will deliver the annual Thomas Muir lecture on August 24. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tommy Sheppard will deliver the annual Thomas Muir lecture on August 24. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4528045.1502366642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4528046.1502366642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4528046.1502366642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A contemporary drawing of Thomas Muir in 1790 by David Martin. Muir was sentenced to deportation three years later. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A contemporary drawing of Thomas Muir in 1790 by David Martin. Muir was sentenced to deportation three years later. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4528046.1502366642!/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/former-david-davis-adviser-says-brexit-is-a-catastrophe-1-4526798","id":"1.4526798","articleHeadline": "Former David Davis adviser says Brexit is a ‘catastrophe’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1502286065000 ,"articleLead": "

The former chief of staff to Brexit Secretary David Davis has claimed the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will be a “catastrophe” and urged MPs to form a new political party to block it.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4527055.1502296805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The former chief of staff to Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured) has claimed the UKs withdrawal from the EU will be a catastrophe. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

James Chapman, a former political editor of the Daily Mail who was special adviser to Mr Davis from the creation of the Department for Exiting the EU, suggested centrist MPs could form a new bloc to seize the balance of power at Westminster.

Naming Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson as potential key player in any pro-EU political alliance, he suggested a new party would grant a second Scottish independence referendum which nationalists would “lose much worse than last time”.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond: Indyref2 will come right as Brexit goes wrong

“Past time for sensible MPs in all parties to admit Brexit is a catastrophe, come together in new party if need be, and reverse it,” he said in a string of tweets.

Mr Chapman, who also served as special adviser to ex-Chancellor George Osborne, suggested the economic impact of Brexit would require a decade of “punishment budgets” to repair the public finances, and claimed the government had not begun any work to prepare for new customs checks between the UK and EU.

He also directed a series of messages to other cabinet members over the possible impact of Brexit, challenging Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to “confirm airlines won’t be able to sell 80% of flights from next March” and asking Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt if there was “any update on how millions of UK tourists in [the] EU will maintain right to emergency healthcare”.

Suggesting a “the Democrats” as a possible name for a new centrist grouping, Mr Chapman said their “priority” would be “getting up noses of Brexit jihadis”.

Mr Chapman, who quit government in May to join PR firm Bell Pottinger, named Tory MPs Anna Soubry, Grant Shapps and Mark Harper as possible defectors to a new political group, saying they had more in common with Labour’s Rachel Reeves and Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable than their own party.

And he even carved out a possible role for former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s wife Miriam Gonzalez Durantez - as a future foreign secretary.

READ MORE: SNP criticises UK Government’s Brexit ‘divorce bill shambles’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4527055.1502296805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4527055.1502296805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The former chief of staff to Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured) has claimed the UKs withdrawal from the EU will be a catastrophe. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The former chief of staff to Brexit Secretary David Davis (pictured) has claimed the UKs withdrawal from the EU will be a catastrophe. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4527055.1502296805!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}