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Heart of Midlothian Football Club are one of many notable Scottish companies to pay staff living wage. Picture: SNS

Summing up: Scots employers embrace living wage

A BELATED Christmas quiz for you: what do West Linton-based bakery Breadshare, Village Vets of Longniddry and JB Eyecare of Edinburgh have in common with Chelsea Football Club?

Jim Murphy has made the health service a campaign priority. Picture: John Devlin

Euan McColm: Labour betting on NHS fears

IT SEEMS nigh on impossible to write about Scottish politics at the end of 2014 without mentioning the independence referendum, so let’s get it out of the way. I promise to be brief.

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Nick Dearden: History shows trade deal threat

BUSINESS Secretary Vince Cable has been working overtime to convince MPs that Britain has nothing to worry about from the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the United States-EU trade deal.

Festive period can be the time we feel loneliness most acutely. Picture: Alamy

Chitra Ramaswamy: Feeling lonely in festive period

THE clutch of days between Christmas and Hogmanay seem to operate in their own bubble, or perhaps I should say bauble. They may be short and the dark may fall swiftly, yet for so many these few days feel long, lonely and tinged with melancholy – heavy with the comedown that follows Christmas and the anticipation of the New Year.

The nephew of Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, killed in the bin lorry crash, expressed forgiveness through Twitter. Picture: TSPL

Andrew Wilson: Stay positive and set a new course

‘A YEAR like no other” is how BBC Scotland’s jingle aptly described 2014. We shall see about that. Whatever else happened it was a year in which Scotland demonstrated to itself and the rest of our world that we can be ambitious, put on a big show of our own and determine our own course as we choose. And we did that. All of us.

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Nicola Sturgeon will face a difficult choice over whether to call for a second referendum. Picture: John Devlin

Leader: SNP supporters face a real test

A DECISION to postpone a second referendum would be the biggest challenge for new Nats.

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Alex Salmond came close to realising his dream. Picture: John Devlin

Drumlanrig: The 2014 Scottish political awards

THANK goodness it’s almost over. 2014 has been an exhausting year for political observers, and Drumlanrig is grateful for the chance to sit back with the port and Stilton and really work on its gout. We’re sure we can feel a tingle in our big toe, already.

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The media makes us more aware of problems such as refugee crises. Picture: Getty

Hannah McGill: The present is not so bad

LET’S end the year on a positive note. Don’t sigh. I’m not talking about the state of forced festive cheer where you glare balefully at your friends/family/television/cat through a booze-sad haze and think OH WELL, ON WE STRUGGLE.

The First Minister

Euan McColm: Sturgeon’s threat might backfire

TERRIBLE ideas are not always easy to recognise. Sometimes they come dressed up as good ones. What might seem a smashing wheeze at its birth won’t necessarily grow up to be one.

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Lord Smith of Kelvin launches the Heads of Agreement. Picture: Alex Hewitt

Alison Elliot: Home rule can save us from strain

THIS year has been an emotional treadmill for people in Scotland. It’s understandable if we bid it farewell with relief and have a brief rest from constitutional cogitating.

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Pakistan flag flown at half-mast from City Chambers. Picture: John Devlin

Andrew Wilson: Small ways to help Peshawar horror

THURSDAY morning was cold and as I walked down my village main street with a friend who was carrying her newborn. I gazed at yellow skies and thought “snow”. Seconds later it was blowing in our faces as we hurried into the warmth of our magnificent local nursery school.

Susie Henderson's claims have put the spotlight back on the role of public figures. Picture: Derek Ironside/Newsline Media

Dani Garavelli: Justice for sex abuse survivors

THE announcement last week of a public inquiry into historical child sex abuse in institutions in Scotland was a landmark for all those who have suffered at the hands of paedophiles over the past 70 years.

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Larry Hagman as JR Ewing. Picture: BBC

Drumlanrig: Angus Robertson’s secret past

SNP Westminster group leader Angus Robertson has had a good week, after landing the role as his party’s campaign director for next year’s general election.

Workers take down a poster for The Interview in Hollywood last week. Picture: AFP

Claire Black: Hackers terrorise Hollywood

YOU wait for months for a story about a dictator to come along and then two arrive in one week. Just as Barack Obama and Fidel Castro spark up a couple of huge Havanas to celebrate the thawing froideur between Cuba and the United States, relations between the US and North Korea have taken a serious turn for the weird.

Some North Sea rigs will have to be capped if the oil price remains depressed. Picture: Getty

Comment: Osborne must slash North Sea taxes

OH, FOR some oil price volatility – only this time upwards. By any standards we have witnessed an extraordinary collapse in the price of oil. It will bring gains for consumers and benefits for thousands of companies. And in pushing inflation down to 1 per cent it has removed any immediate prospect of a rise in interest rates.

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Kristy Dorsey. Picture: Robert Perry

Comment: Managers should tackle long-hours culture

IS THE “macho time” work era coming to an end? No more boasts (thinly veiled as complaints) about putting in 60 hours last week? The abolition of the business breakfast meeting?

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Could be 5-10 years before taxpayer gets their money back. Picture: Getty

Comment: Banks not out of the woods yet

LLOYDS may be on the road to recovery, but with the FCA due to publish its findings after a probe into the disastrous takeover of HBOS – and RBS admitting it may be years before it repays taxpayers – the outlook is still challenging, writes Martin Flanagan

Murphy seemed the overwhelming favourite as soon as he announced his candidacy. Picture: Getty

Euan McColm: Jim Murphy victory never in doubt

THE easy bit’s out of the way, then. That MP Jim ­Murphy would succeed in becoming Labour’s seventh Scottish leader since the birth of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 was never in any doubt.

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Jim Murphy victory highlights gap between party leadership and  traditional activist base. Picture: Getty

Cat Boyd: Left needs to fightback against Blairite

AS A socialist in Scotland, I cannot but dread Jim Murphy’s tenure as new leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

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Some of Russell Brands ideas are admirable, though inadequately explained. Picture: Getty

Dani Garavelli: The similarities in Farage & Brand

I WASN’T going to tune into ­Question Time. I really wasn’t. Pitting Russell Brand against ­Nigel Farage was blatant televisual click-bait and the embodiment of all that’s wrong with politics.

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Andrew Wilson: We cannot repeat oil and gas errors

‘FORMULA for success: rise early, work hard, strike oil”, was John Paul Getty’s famous dictum. Well, for most of us we can control the first two. Maybe we should add “work cleverly”. Striking oil? A natural lottery win everywhere but here, it seems.

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Jim Murphy has to bring Scottish Labour back from the brink. Picture: John Devlin

Leader: Tough task for Jim Murphy

THE scale of the task facing new Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy is hard to overestimate. A YouGov poll published yesterday shows Scottish Labour trailing the SNP by 20 percentage points in Westminster voting intentions.

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Alan Johnson. Picture: Getty

Drumlanrig: Murphy cock-a-hoop over East End dream

JIM Murphy’s devotion to Celtic FC knows no bounds. Unveiled as Scottish Labour’s new leader at the Emirates Arena in the Parkhead area of Glasgow, Murphy was overjoyed that his moment of triumph was just a corner kick away from Celtic Park.

Kristy Dorsey. Picture: Robert Perry

Comment:Festive footfall hints at positive trading

ORGANISED folk have been on it since October, and are now at home smugly wrapping gifts purchased in composed consideration. For many, however, the festive shopping season is reaching full swing.

Couples convert their civil partnerships into marriages at Brighton Town Hall. Picture: PA

Claire Black: Wedding day for ‘civilly partnered’

YOU know that bit in Sex And The City the movie when Carrie and Big finally… Sorry, I don’t mean to impugn your dignity by suggesting you’re a fan of that film. But since I’ve seen it at least six times, let me explain.

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Gerry Hassan: Indyref - 12 hard truths

STUBBORN denial and spurious beliefs will not help build a more progressive country. Scotland must leave 18 September behind, says Gerry Hassan

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Its almost a sure thing that 2014 will go down as the worlds hottest year in 135 years of record keeping. Picture: AP

Comment: Global deal needed to protect world

WEDNESDAY saw the ­announcement by the World Meteorological Organisation that 2014 was the hottest year since records began. When combined with the fact that 14 of the warmest 15 years on record have occurred in the 21st century, a clear picture of a changing climate is emerging.

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The Renfrewshire Four were suspended by the First Minister. Picture: YouTube

Euan McColm: Prank allowed Sturgeon to take charge

IT’S not possible to be all things to all people but First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was giving it a go for a while, just then.

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Real devolution of power must be allowed. Picture: Alex Hewitt

Andrew Wilson: Whitehall must learn to let go

BETWEEN saying and doing many a pair of shoes is worn out. So the Italians say, anyway. You know the theme. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t simply tell someone you love them, show them. Alfred Adler, the Austrian psychologist, put it more starkly: “Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.”

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Protesters march on a street in Washington. Picture: Getty

Dani Garavelli: Action on racist police too late

IF THE definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then what are we to make of the US criminal justice system?

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Jim Murphy is the favourite. Picture: PA

Leader: Who holds winning hand in Labour contest?

THIS time next week we will know the identity of the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and we will be able to delineate the shape of the Scottish political debate for the months ahead.

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Michael Matheson has earnestly built up a reputation as a safe pair of hands. Picture: Hemedia

Drumlanrig: Michael Matheson exposed on radio

NEW justice secretary Michael Matheson has earnestly built up a reputation as a safe pair of hands within the Scottish National Party.

Kristy Dorsey. Picture: Robert Perry

Kristy Dorsey: RBS plea an own goal

AS OWN goals go, the embarrassment last week at Royal Bank of Scotland must rank on a par with Lee Dixon’s blushes back in 1991.

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George Osborne has been consistently wrong on budget deficit and tax revenue estimates. Picture: Reuters

Comment: Public spending moment of truth is here

THERE’S much for Scottish business and the Holyrood administration to chew on in the wake of last week’s Autumn Statement. From the widened stamp duty disparity between Scotland and England to pressure for a review of the non-domestic rates system similar to that announced for England and timid changes to the North Sea tax regime, it made for uncomfortable reading.

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The most talked-about point in the Autumn Statement was the changes to stamp duty on house purchases. Picture: Getty

David Gow: Autumn Statement showed economy flaws

IT WASN’T such a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away that the planet Earth endured such an economic crisis that austerity was brought upon us. In the same week as the trailer for the new Star Wars film was released, Chancellor George Osborne said in his Autumn Statement that Britain has higher growth, lower unemployment, falling inflation and a reducing deficit.

Daniel Craig was accused of looking like a dad at the launch of the new James Bond film. Picture: PA

Claire Black: Fans lose plot of James Bond jumper

THE name’s Bond, James knit one, purl one Bond. Or at least you’d think that’s what had been announced when Daniel Craig pitched up to a press launch for the 24th Bond movie last week, wearing a jumper.

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Bill Jamieson. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Comment: Raise glass of Irn Bru to oil price slide

OF ALL the upsets predicted for investors in the course of 2014, a 30 per cent plus plunge in the price of oil rarely featured as a big event risk. But here we are, with Brent crude slithering from a peak of $115 a barrel this summer to just above $70 last week.

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Lord Smith of Kelvin launches the Heads of Agreement. Picture: PA

Leaders: Independence landscape post-Smith report

THERE was very nearly was no Smith Commission report. As we explain in our news pages today, a last-minute argument about whether power over abortion should be devolved to Holyrood almost scuppered the entire process, with Labour threatening to walk out if it was included in the final document.

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Learning to use the bus by myself as a child felt like a liberation. Picture: Alamy

Anna Burnside: Use the bus, get kids out and about

CAN it really be true that almost half of all 11-year-olds have never been on a bus? This shocking statistic comes to us courtesy of the Millennium Cohort Study, which is tracking 13,000 British children born in 2000, 2001 or 2002 – presumably by following their mobile phone usage (three-quarters of them have one) or tailing their parents’ cars as they are shuttled to school, football and friends’ parties.

Reforms package

Euan McColm: Smith changes could bring house down

IMAGINE, if you will, that you live in one of Scotland’s magnificent Victorian tenements (those of you who do live in one are excused from this part of the exercise).

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Yiftah Curiel: Campuses bow to anti-Israel protest

EARLIER this month the Scottish media reported an alleged assault on a teenage stall worker at a Glasgow shopping centre, who was said to have had a burning chemical poured on her. She was believed to have been targeted by pro-Palestinian activists for selling cosmetics from an Israeli company. The alleged attack was preceded by “non-violent” groups targeting the stall.

Falling oil prices present Scottish finance minister John Swinney with problems. Picture: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Bill Jamieson: More powers won’t save us from debt

CONTROL over income tax rates and levels, part assignment of VAT revenues, control over air passenger duty – and more borrowing powers: whether it’s enough or too little pales before the reality of deeply constrained public finances – in every part of the UK.

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On Wednesday Chancellor George Osborne will deliver the Autumn Statement. Picture: Ian Rutherford

Kristy Dorsey: Don’t depend on autumn windfall

AS ANY decent self-help coach knows, one of the biggest obstacles many people face in the pursuit of happiness is an inability to accept the limits of what they can control.

Kevin Stewart MSP SNP. Picture: Contributed

Drumlanrig: Labour Party at St Andrew’s Day debate

TWO Scottish traditions were in evidence during a Holyrood debate celebrating St Andrew’s Day last week. SNP MSP Christine Grahame spoke of St Andrew appearing before the Scots King Angus before his Scottish army defeated the Angles at Athelstaneford in East Lothian in 832 AD before adding:

Andrew Wilson: Scots must set independence pace

I READ the Smith Commission outcome last week and watched the reaction. My overwhelming feeling was a yearning for us all to just pause, draw breath and savour a moment when we progressed together.

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Shoppers wrestle over a television during a Black Friday sale. Picture: Reuters

Dani Garavelli: The problem with Black Friday

LOOKING at their festive ads, with their cutesy soft toys in search of a soulmate and family reunions against all odds, you would think supermarkets existed solely for the purpose of spreading harmony and Christmas shopping was a benign activity motivated by altruism.

Arthur Montford, left, and Archie Macpherson at Hampden Park in 1985. Picture: SMG

Aidan Smith: Remembering Arthur Montford

AMID the stramash of football mementoes in the spare room, I have things that are older, more notable and more personal and, in purely monetary terms, more valuable. But in my occasional nightmare – a tsunami sweeping away match programmes and bicycles and children – it is The Scotsport Football Annual, 1965 edition, compiled by Arthur Montford, that I glimpse disappearing in the torrent and am most upset about losing.

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Alan Steel, managing director of Alan Steel Asset Management. Picture: TSPL

Summing up: Don’t bet on annuity rates improving

ONLY a couple of weeks ago it was summer. Suddenly it’s almost December and before we know it 2015 will have arrived, provided we survive the trauma that is Christmas. So maybe it’s time to consider what next year has in store for investors instead of waiting until our New Year hangovers.

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