{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"news","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk-urged-to-step-up-dialogue-with-scotland-ahead-of-brexit-talks-1-4667112","id":"1.4667112","articleHeadline": "UK urged to step up dialogue with Scotland ahead of Brexit talks","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516471978000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s Brexit Minister has called on the UK Government to step up its dialogue with the devolved nations ahead of the next phase of negotiations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667111.1516471975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit Minister Michael Russell (left). Picture: Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Mike Russell has written to Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington, urging him to work more closely with the devolved administrations before the crucial talks.

The Scottish Government said it was seeking assurances on the “meaningful participation of devolved governments in agreeing UK positions” as well as the urgent reconvening of the Joint Ministerial Committee on EU Negotiations.

The letter follows the publication of a Scottish Government study last week that warned a no-deal Brexit could cost Scotland’s economy £12.7bn a year.

Mr Russell’s letter said: “I am sure that you will agree that as the UK embarks on a second phase of negotiations with the EU, it is crucial that the UK Government and the devolved governments work closely together to achieve the best possible outcome.

“We understand that the UK Government is to set out its approach to the second phase of negotiations in mid-February.

“I would be grateful, therefore, if you could share further detail on how the UK Government is reaching agreement on its desired end state relationship with the EU, and when devolved administrations can expect to have an opportunity to participate in and influence the outcome of that discussion.”

The Brexit minister called for clarity on key dates in the negotiations and for an urgent meeting of the committee, which brings together the UK Government and devolved administrations.

He warned of a “serious risk that the important activity to agree joint working arrangements going forward will not be complete until after the UK has established its position on the end state relationship” a position he said was “not acceptable”.

He added: “Whilst the joint agreement reached by the UK Government and EU in December was a welcome step forward, it is clear that the next phase of these negotiations will be significantly tougher than the first.

“It is essential that all Governments across the UK are fully involved in preparing for and delivering progress.”

A government spokeswoman said there had been “extensive and important talks with the devolved administrations in the process of planning the UK’s departure from the EU”.

She added: “We have been making good progress to agree common frameworks and are looking to make significant further steps in the coming weeks and months.

“We also expect there to be an increase in the decision making powers of the Scottish government and other devolved administrations following this process.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4667111.1516471975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667111.1516471975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit Minister Michael Russell (left). Picture: Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Brexit Minister Michael Russell (left). Picture: Jane Barlow - WPA Pool/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4667111.1516471975!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/kezia-dugdale-calls-on-holyrood-to-tackle-sexual-harassment-1-4667098","id":"1.4667098","articleHeadline": "Kezia Dugdale calls on Holyrood to tackle sexual harassment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516469850000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has called for a national government-led campaign to tackle sexual harassment in the workplace.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667097.1516470013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kezia Dugdale addressed a Scottish Women's Convention conference. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The MSP has urged the Scottish Government to use its social advertising budget to launch a drive aimed at highlighting the issue.

The Lothian politician made the call as she addressed a Scottish Women’s Convention conference on sexual harassment.

Speaking before the meeting in Glasgow, she said: “The Scottish Government should now lead by example and launch a national campaign to tackle sexual harassment in workplaces.

“It can use its influence to encourage public and private sector bodies to review their own practices, so that no woman ever has to face sexual harassment in their job.”

Addressing the meeting itself, Ms Dugdale said resources must not be diverted from Equally Safe - the Scottish Government’s strategy to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls - to tackle sexist behaviour in the workplace, “because there’s so much other work within Equally Safe that needs to be done”.

“So, if it requires more resources to lead this campaign around sexual harassment across the country, we’re just going to have to take that additional step,” she said.

“What I’m talking about is a national advertising campaign. It’s all very well producing leaflets and putting them out in the workplace, but the Scottish Government have what they call their social advertising budget - the money that they spend telling us to eat five fruit and veg a day, to do a certain amount of exercise, to not drink too much wine ... Couldn’t that budget be used to talk about what sexual harassment is and what to do if you’ve experienced it in the workplace?”

She also praised steps the Scottish Parliament is taking to address workplace harassment, but warned that all political parties still have more work to do.

A confidential phone line was launched at the Scottish Parliament in November last year after allegations of sexual misconduct at Holyrood emerged in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and accusations sweeping Westminster.

Equalities Secretary Angela Constance told the meeting that employers have to take the issue of sexual harassment seriously.

She said: “Every employer should carefully reflect on their working environment and how conducive it is to reporting harassment and abuse.

“They also need to ensure that they have robust, sensitive and fair procedures and processes in place to deal with complaints and that employees are aware of these and that they are confident in these policies and procedures.

“Because if women experiencing harassment or abuse do not have confidence, that pervasive silence will indeed continue to exist and those who choose to behave in this way will continue to believe that they can act with impunity.”

An SNP spokesman said: “Kezia Dugdale’s support for tackling this serious issue is of course welcome - but she seems unaware that the SNP Government has already committed to such a campaign as part of its Equally Safe strategy.

“That is perhaps because when this strategy was published - and when an excellent debate took place in Parliament on this matter - Ms Dugdale was in the jungle appearing on I’m A Celebrity.

“She also missed Parliament’s debate on the Gender Representation on Public Boards Bill for the same reason.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "HILARY DUNCANSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4667097.1516470013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667097.1516470013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kezia Dugdale addressed a Scottish Women's Convention conference. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kezia Dugdale addressed a Scottish Women's Convention conference. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4667097.1516470013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/angela-constance-scottish-employers-must-tackle-sexual-harassment-1-4666915","id":"1.4666915","articleHeadline": "Angela Constance: Scottish employers must tackle sexual harassment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516452794000 ,"articleLead": "

Employers have been urged to take the issue of sexual harassment seriously by Scotland’s Equalities Secretary.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666914.1516456464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Equalities Secretary Angela Constance. Picture: John Devlin/JP Licence"} ,"articleBody": "

Angela Constance says the perpetrators will continue to act with impunity if women don’t have faith in reporting complaints.

Speaking at the Scottish Women’s Convention (SWC) conference on sexual harassment in Glasgow on Saturday, Angela Constance said the issue must not leave the spotlight.

She said: “The subject of today’s conference has never been more in the spotlight and it is up to us to ensure that we keep it there, never again to be consigned to the shadows for fear of the consequences of speaking out.

“Our bodies and our minds are our own. We will not tolerate the actions of anyone who chooses to harm us in any way - enough is enough.”

READ MORE: Milder weather ahead as commuters struggle in snow

READ MORE: Robert Burns was no Harvey Weinstein, says scholar

The Scottish Government pilot Equally Safe accreditation scheme for employers hopes to encourage best practice on tackling gender-based violence in the workplace.

Ms Constance added: “Employers need to ensure that they have robust, sensitive and fair procedures to deal with complaints, and that their employees have confidence in these.

“If women experiencing harassment and abuse do not have confidence, that pervasive silence will continue to exist and those who choose to behave in this way will continue to believe they can act with impunity.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Graeme Murray"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666914.1516456464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666914.1516456464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Equalities Secretary Angela Constance. Picture: John Devlin/JP Licence","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Equalities Secretary Angela Constance. Picture: John Devlin/JP Licence","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666914.1516456464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/world/us-government-shutdown-now-what-1-4666860","id":"1.4666860","articleHeadline": "US Government shutdown - now what?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516444393000 ,"articleLead": "

The US government has shutdown as Democrats and Republicans failed to resolve a standoff over immigration and spending.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4628900.1516444387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "President Donald Trump has blamed the shutdown on the Democrats. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Here’s a look at what the parties are fighting over and what it means to shut down the government.


Since the end of the fiscal year in September, the US government has been operating on temporary funding measures. The current one expired at midnight. Republicans and Democrats have not been able to agree on spending levels for the rest of the year, so another short-term measure is the most likely solution.

The House has passed a four-week bill Thursday that also extends funding for a children’s health insurance program.

But Democrats have been saying for weeks they want a funding measure to be tied to an immigration deal that protects the thousands of young immigrants facing deportation. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is set to expire 5 March, and members of both parties have been working on an extension that would also beef up border protection.

That deal has not come together, and Democrats have decided to dig in. They blocked the House-passed bill. Both sides were still negotiating early Saturday.


The government begins to shut down. But not all of the government.

The air traffic control system, food inspection, Medicare, veterans’ health care and many other essential government programs will run as usual. The Social Security Administration will not only send out benefits but will also continue to take applications - though replacements for lost Social Security cards could have to wait. The Postal Service, which is self-funded, will keep delivering the mail. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will continue to respond to last year’s spate of disasters.

The Interior Department says national parks and other public lands will remain as accessible as possible. The stance is a change from previous shutdowns when most parks were closed and became high-profile symbols.

Spokeswoman Heather Swifts says the American public - especially veterans who come to the nation’s capital - should find war memorials and open-air parks open to visitors. Swift says many national parks and wildlife refuges nationwide will also be open with limited access when possible.

The Smithsonian museums and the National zoo will stay open through the weekend but close Monday.


While they can be kept on the job, federal workers can’t get paid for days worked during a lapse in funding. 
In the past, however, they have been repaid retroactively even if they were ordered to stay home.

Rush hour in downtown Washington, meanwhile, becomes a breeze. Tens of thousands of federal workers are off the roads.


Way back in the day, shutdowns usually weren’t that big a deal. They happened every year when Jimmy Carter was president, averaging 11 days each. During Ronald Reagan’s two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically just one or two days apiece. Deals got cut. Everybody moved on.

The last one was a 16-day partial shuttering of the government in 2013, which came as tea party conservatives, cheered on by outside groups like Heritage Action, demanded that language to block implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care law be added to a must-do funding bill.


In a 1995-96 political battle, President Bill Clinton bested House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his band of budget-slashing conservatives, who were determined to use a shutdown to force Clinton to sign onto a balanced budget agreement. Republicans were saddled with the blame, but most Americans suffered relatively minor inconveniences like closed parks and delays in processing passport applications. The fight bolstered Clinton’s popularity and he sailed to re-election that November.

In 2013, the tea party Republicans forced the shutdown over the better judgment of GOP leaders like then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Republicans tried to fund the government piecemeal - for example, by forcing through legislation to ensure military service members got paid. But a broader effort faltered, and Republicans eventually backed down and supported a round of budget talks led by Paul Ryan, R-Wis., then chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Republicans are calling the current standoff the “Schumer Shutdown,” arguing that there’s nothing in the bill that Democrats oppose, while a short-term extension would give lawmakers time to work out differences on issues like protecting young immigrants and disaster assistance. Schumer says the GOP’s unwillingness to compromise has brought Congress to this point.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted earlier this week found 48 percent view Trump and congressional Republicans as mainly responsible for the situation while 28 percent fault Democrats. If the

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4628900.1516444387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4628900.1516444387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "President Donald Trump has blamed the shutdown on the Democrats. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "President Donald Trump has blamed the shutdown on the Democrats. (Photo by Whitney Curtis/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4628900.1516444387!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5681869768001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/row-over-scottish-government-s-broadband-coverage-claim-1-4666756","id":"1.4666756","articleHeadline": "Row over Scottish Government’s broadband coverage claim","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428089000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government claims it has met a key target to provide 95 per coverage in Scotland of state-of-the-art fibre broadband.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666755.1516402574!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A row is brewing over Scotland's broadband."} ,"articleBody": "

Writing in The Scotsman today, Economy Secretary Keith Brown revealed the government had achieved its ambition to deliver fibre broadband access to 95 per cent of homes and premises by the end of last year.

But the assertion last night sparked a heated political row, with the UK government claiming the Scottish target was meaningless and that speed was the important factor, not the way broadband was delivered.

Mr Brown will be hopeful that announcing the target has been met will answer critics, who have argued ministers have not been doing enough to ensure rural communities have top-class internet access.

But Mr Brown’s claim ­Scotland had “progressed faster in extending superfast broadband access than any other UK nation” was undermined by UK government digital secretary Matt Hancock. Last night Mr Hancock pointed out Scotland was still lagging behind England and Wales when it came to broadband speed.

In an article for today’s The Scotsman, Mr Brown wrote: “The latest coverage figures are currently being assured, but we shortly expect to be able to confirm that our Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme achieved its target of extending fibre broadband access to 95 per cent of homes and premises by the end of 2017.”

The broadband target set by Scottish ministers differs from that set by the UK government. In Scotland, the 2017 target was for 95 per cent “fibre broadband access” as opposed to the equivalent UK government’s target of 95 per cent “superfast coverage”.

Superfast is defined as broadband speeds of more than 24 megabits per second whereas fibre broadband is the mechanism that delivers the internet.

Fibre broadband is the most advanced system, but it does not necessarily always deliver superfast speeds.

The Scottish Government has an ambitious target to make sure all home and businesses across Scotland can access superfast broadband by the end of 2021.

Thinkbroadband – the independent broadband information site – has Scotland at 93.1 per cent coverage when it comes to superfast speeds of more than 24 megabits per second. That is behind Wales on 93.7 per cent and England on 95.2 per cent.

Mr Hancock said: “The sad fact is the Scottish Government are missing the goal of achieving 95 per cent superfast broadband coverage. They are lagging behind England and Wales and they need to up their game.”

Broadband expert Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst for cable.co.uk, explained 95 per cent access to fibre did not necessarily mean achieving 95 per cent superfast broadband speeds.

He said: “The fibre target refers to the actual fibre optic cabling and the way the internet is delivered to cabinets which are located around the country. Theoretically if you have fibre connectivity you should be getting superfast speeds. But the reality is that broadband speed drops the further away you live from the cabinet. Broadband slows once you are 1,000m from the cabinet.

“Therefore people may have fibre available, but they can’t get superfast speeds.”

The Scottish and UK governments have been at loggerheads over broadband coverage for some time. At the end of last year, Mr Hancock clashed with Fergus Ewing when the Scottish Rural Economy ­minister said Scotland had experienced the largest increase in coverage over the past year of the four home nations and some of the country’s most remote areas had benefited most.

Although superfast broadband is reserved to Westminster, the devolved administrations have responsibility for the roll-out in areas where providers such as BT and Virgin are unwilling to provide it on a commercial basis.

Last night business leaders welcomed the Scottish target being hit, but called on the UK and Scottish ministers to work together.

Stuart Mackinnon, from the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, said: “From a business point of view it is incredibly important that governments work together to address any shortfalls. Competing programmes are difficult to communicate and risk increasing overall costs.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666755.1516402574!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666755.1516402574!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A row is brewing over Scotland's broadband.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A row is brewing over Scotland's broadband.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666755.1516402574!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/protest-held-over-ongoing-closure-of-vital-children-s-ward-1-4666760","id":"1.4666760","articleHeadline": "Protest held over ongoing closure of vital children’s ward","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428089000 ,"articleLead": "

Parents and carers held a protest outside a hospital yesterday over the continued closure of a children’s ward to in-patients who have been seen out of hours.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

The demonstration at St John’s Hospital in Livingston called on the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian to sort out staffing issues that have led to the vital ward being closed for more than 200 days.

This has meant that more than 400 children from West Lothian have not been treated locally and have had to travel through to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. The ward, which has been closed for out of hours inpatients since July last year, was hit by similar summer shutdowns in 2012 and 2015.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said the situation has been going on for six years and called on NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government to sort out the problem.

He said: “This demonstration today has come about because parents of children who have had to use this service are frustrated and angry that there appears to be no resolution to this problem. It has been going on for six years with no end in sight and only recently we have discovered that since 7 July a total of 414 children have had to be transferred out of hours to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. They should have been treated in their own hospital. NHS Lothian and the SNP government must know bring about a plan to end this scandal.”

The latest update comes after the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published a second review into the service in October and warned there was no “quick fix” to the fragile rota.

The expert body also endorsed NHS Lothian’s decision to temporarily suspend inpatient services in order to maintain safe facilities for children and it said the service should only resume once the extra staff are recruited or trained.

The health board have recruited two staff since the end of 2017 and are looking to recruit more consultants.

Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said the latest additions would not immediately solve the issues around staffing.

She addded: “We last updated in October and we are really keen families and patients know exactly what is happening in paediatric services in St John’s Hospital. This is a really positive move. We have our sixth consultant joining the team and we have made an offer to another clinician which means seven new consultant posts have been filled.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/stephen-jardine-veganism-and-brexit-show-how-divided-we-are-1-4666665","id":"1.4666665","articleHeadline": "Stephen Jardine: Veganism and Brexit show how divided we are","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

Vegans and the rest are further apart than Remainers and Brexiteers, says Stephen Jardine.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A green salad with spinach, quinoa, walnuts and dried cranberries (Picture: Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

This time last January, things were going so well. For a month I switched to a vegetarian diet to test the impact on someone who has always been a happy carnivore. By this stage I was already enjoying the experience and feeling the benefits and by the end of the month, I’d decided to cutback my meat consumption permanently.

Given that positive experience, this year I decided to go the whole hog, or rather mung bean, and embrace Veganuary. After last year, just how hard could it be? The answer is, too hard for me.

It didn’t begin well. At the start of the January I emptied the fridge and then stocked it with vegetables, nut butter, hummus and other vegan-approved foods. I then stepped back and realised, there was actually nothing I really wanted to eat. Putting that down to years of conditioning by the meat industry, I turned instead to the groaning shop shelves of vegan snack and meals. While they kept hunger at bay, I couldn’t help but think of all the things I would rather be eating.

One week in, I downloaded some vegan recipes and cooked roast vegetable salads, coconut curries, baked sweet potatoes and black bean burgers. Everything was fine but it wasn’t delicious and the thought of eating food like that for the rest of my life filled me with more than the January blues. But it wasn’t the food that finished off Veganuary for me, not even the vegan cheese, which deserves a special place in hell.

It was not what you eat but who you are. When you say you are trying vegetarianism, most people just want to know how it’s going. Say vegan and the frequent reaction is a narrowing of the eyes and simple question, why?

READ MORE: Is Edinburgh becoming Scotland’s vegan capital?

If you thought the gap between Remainers and Brexiteers was wide, it is nothing compared to the divide between Vegans and the rest. “How do you know if someone is vegan? They will tell you,” goes the old joke. There is a suspicion veganism and insufferable smugness are too closely related. You don’t have to look further than the Veganuary website and it’s claim that 23,831 animals will be saved as a result of the initiative. That probably sits alongside the promise of £350 million of EU cash for the NHS in terms of spurious fantasy.

The reality is, no animals are saved by 60,000 extra people eating vegan in January. The global meat industry will keep on turning and for every person turning their back on a lamb chop, another is ready to pick up the cutlery.

READ MORE: Vegans are going wild for vegan square sausage

In terms of how our industrial food system operates, veganism changes virtually nothing. However that doesn’t make it wrong. Once you top up your vitamins to avoid any deficiency, there is plenty of evidence it’s a healthy diet. And vegans can be assured they are not helping to perpetuate the industrial food.

There is a way to bridge the divide between vegans and the rest – through part-time approaches like VB6. It involves eating vegan during the day then whatever you want after 6pm. A mass adoption of that more achievable goal would be much more likely to impact on the meat trade but it would also involve some understanding on either side of the vegan debate and that still seems to be unpalatable.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Stephen Jardine"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A green salad with spinach, quinoa, walnuts and dried cranberries (Picture: Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A green salad with spinach, quinoa, walnuts and dried cranberries (Picture: Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-boris-johnson-comes-up-with-another-bonzer-idea-1-4666667","id":"1.4666667","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Boris Johnson comes up with another bonzer idea","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

Boris Johnson likes to see himself as a visionary leader, someone prepared to think big and leave the minor details to lesser mortals. Take, for example, his idea to create an artificial “Boris Island” in the Thames Estuary to accommodate a four-runway airport.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666666.1516391199!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A 1985 artist's impression of a bridge across the English Channel (Picture: PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

It was bold and imaginative but failed to convince the Government-backed Davies Commission, which quickly excluded the suggestion from its inquiry into how to increase London’s aviation links.

The then Mayor of London was forced to console himself with the relative popularity of his Boris Bikes.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson proposes bridge across the English Channel

Now we can add the Boris Bridge to the current Foreign Secretary’s list of whizzo schemes, after he floated the idea of spanning the English Channel.

One expert suggested it would cost at least £120 billion and that it might “cheaper to move France closer”.

But the Foreign Secretary can take such cheap shots in his stride. After all, his most spectacular bonzer idea is proving a huge success.

Boris’s Brexit is going swimmingly with the UK set to “take back control” of not just £350m a week, but £438m. Or so he claims.

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: The one thing that could make me a Brexiteer

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666666.1516391199!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666666.1516391199!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A 1985 artist's impression of a bridge across the English Channel (Picture: PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A 1985 artist's impression of a bridge across the English Channel (Picture: PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666666.1516391199!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/jane-bradley-toxic-plastic-waste-is-returning-from-sea-to-poison-us-1-4666669","id":"1.4666669","articleHeadline": "Jane Bradley: Toxic plastic waste is returning from sea to poison us","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

Wet wipes, straws and ‘mermaids’ tears’: Jane Bradley on the marine plastic epidemic that’s poisoning our food.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Plastic-stemmed cotton buds were one of the most common items found on Cramond Beach (Picture: Catherine Gemmell/Marine Conservation Society)"} ,"articleBody": "

‘Ohhhh, it’s garbage,” said the fresh-faced American tourist, clearly relieved to realise that the giant bags we were lugging onto Cramond promenade did not actually contain dead bodies.

His expression changed and he looked us straight in the eye, in that sincere way that only Americans can. “I thank you,” he said.

It was a freezing Saturday morning and while most of you were probably happily tucked up your beds, I was out in my gardening gloves and a woolly hat, plucking revolting items of sewage from the beach. I can’t claim a great gesture of altriusm: my far more motivated friend had suggested we take part in a beach clean and with a new year’s resolution to say yes to as many things as possible, I had agreed.

I was glad I did. Walking along the seafront before the clean up, I’d thought the beach hadn’t looked too bad, from a distance. What I had expected to find was litter left by people who had enjoyed summer picnics on the sand a few months ago. A discarded drinks can, maybe, a couple of chocolate bar wrappers. Bright-coloured pieces of litter which would have been obvious to the naked eye, perhaps slightly faded by their time in the sun.

On closer inspection, however, while a few bits of dropped packaging were indeed lurking among the rockpools, it was sewage waste which was the major culprit, discharged – somehow – into the sea and washed straight up onto the beach. Cramond, in north-west Edinburgh, is particularly bad, apparently, an issue which Scottish Water is currently investigating to pinpoint why so much debris washes up on the beach there.

They have, according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which coordinated the clean-up, checked sewage pipes in the area and have found no problem. Yet, there is no doubt that a problem exists, somewhere. The evidence is all over the beach.

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Action against climate change could be David Attenborough’s lasting legacy

We picked up thousands of wet wipes. There were huge clumps of the things, snagged in among seaweed and peppered with plastic cotton bud sticks, the kind that the Scottish Government thankfully banned last week. When I heard the news of the ban, I have to say I was surprised that they had chosen to focus on cotton buds. I’ve never bought them in my life, I’m not sure I know anyone who has, so the fact that they were apparently littering our seas in their tiny, stick-y glory was news to me.

Yet they are. Blue ones, white ones, yellow ones. They wash up on the beach in Cramond with alarming regularity. An image from American wildlife photographer Justin Hofmann, part of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which opened at the National Museum of Scotland yesterday, offers a chilling insight into the impact of these items. His photograph shows a tiny sea horse, its tail wrapped around a pink cotton bud stick as it swims through the ocean. Its title is ‘Sewage Surfer’.

READ MORE: Theresa May vows to eliminate avoidable plastic waste in 25 years

While the 88 volunteers at the clean-up were spread out to tackle a long stretch of beach, those who were working in a designated 100-metre section were asked to document everything they found, in a bid to get some kind of feel for the scope – and type – of rubbish which is on the beach. In that tiny section alone, 335 ear buds were found. Meanwhile, of all of the 8,585 items found in the 100m stretch, a massive 6,583 or 76.7 per cent were classed as “sanitary”, ie wet wipes and their possibly even more unpleasant cousins: nappies and sanitary towels. All of this came out of sewage pipes after someone put them into their toilet. Last year, the MCS launched its Wet Wipes Turn Nasty campaign, which, as well as trying to educate people about what should actually go down the loo – the “three Ps” of “poo, pee and paper”, apparently – also asked producers and retailers of wet wipes to ensure there packaging was clearly labelled with “Do Not Flush” messaging. The friendly American was not the only passerby to remark, positively, on our work.

There is no doubt that the public’s attitude towards attempts, however meagre, to clean up our oceans and beaches has, if you’ll pardon the pun, undergone something of a sea change in just the past few months. It is no longer the work of environmentalists and beach users. It has became a problem for all of us.

The BBC’s Blue Planet series, which aired last year, showcased the damage that our lifestyle is doing to the seas and the marine life which lives there. The MCS survey actually found that just 12 per cent of the rubbish was left on the beach by members of the public. We have woken up to the reality. Beach littering is no longer what we leave behind when we are visiting, it is what we put down our toilets and into our bins, which is ending up in the sea.

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles, according to the MCS. On our beach clean, plastic accounted for 1,755 items of rubbish, 20 per cent of the waste found. While a few of these items – just nine plastic drinks bottles on the 100m stretch – were plastic bottles, there were 63 items such as single-use plastic straws, cutlery and trays and we also spotted tiny little plastic pellets known as “nurdles”, which are used as a raw material by industry to make new plastic products. The tiny pellets, which also go by the misleadingly attractive name of “mermaids’s tears”, soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release the toxins into the animals, such as birds and fish, that eat them.

If the idea that microplastics have been found in the stomachs of fish and shellfish is not enough to raise alarm, the MCS says it has been estimated that an average European seafood consumer ingests 11,000 plastic particles a year.

We are actually eating the plastic we are allowing to pollute our seas. Let’s take action now.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Plastic-stemmed cotton buds were one of the most common items found on Cramond Beach (Picture: Catherine Gemmell/Marine Conservation Society)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Plastic-stemmed cotton buds were one of the most common items found on Cramond Beach (Picture: Catherine Gemmell/Marine Conservation Society)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/john-mclellan-how-i-took-on-a-dodgy-cold-caller-selling-insurance-1-4666663","id":"1.4666663","articleHeadline": "John McLellan: How I took on a dodgy cold caller selling insurance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

About half of all calls to landlines in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are unwanted, writes John McLellan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many calls to landlines are unwanted (Picture: Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

Nine out of ten Scots know what it’s like. Just as tea is on the table the phone rings with what looks like a proper number: “Hi, is that John? You had a good day? No, I’m not trying to sell you anything…”

Those that come up “international” are easy to ignore, but not-so-cleverly disguised cold calls are the bane of modern life. Sometimes, I can’t help stringing them along to see what happens, although my wife took great exception when I told one in a solemn Late Call voice that I was terribly sorry but Mr McLellan has only just passed away that very morning.

Just before Christmas I took a call from a woman sounding like an EastEnders extra who said my boiler insurance was due for renewal and she could save me £150 there and then. She asked what bank I was with, wanted to check my card details, but got extremely shirty when I refused even get the card, never mind read her the number. The call ended.

READ MORE: Ban on cold callers in 100 residential areas throughout Edinburgh

Of course we don’t have boiler insurance. A check on the “Who Called Me” website revealed three entries for the company name that she mentioned since August. “I’ve just been conned out of £150,” said one. “The company managed to get £150 out of my partner. Disgusting organisation,” said the second. And the third: “Called my parents who were conned into paying two £75 payments.” Another website, DIYnot, told a similar story: “They’ve taken £150 from my mum’s bank account.”

I looked up the address for the company in north London, which Google Streetview showed was an unassuming street of terraced houses facing the back of a disused DIY store. But it was also the address of another firm which, according to its website, is a major UK incorporation agent that apparently is “not just a faceless, web-based company”. It has “a team of skilled and friendly staff for all your business questions”. Which is just as well because there are over 15,000 companies registered at that address, although how they all fit into a three-bedroom house is another matter.

READ MORE: Nuisance calls firm fined £400,000 for 100 million calls

The firm that called me has one director, who lives in Essex. He is also director of another company which describes itself as a provider of “home tech specialist solutions” and is connected to reports of attempts to sell unauthorised insurance for Sky boxes. Its website is beyond parody, offering a “fully focused system signal check to insure (sic) the system is receiving the best signal possible for its geo location. This includes a customer visual check of the area concerning the dish so we can assess the dishes (sic) range.” In other words, you go outside and have a look.

Part of the pitch was to give me a telephone number and sure enough, on a calling back, it was answered by someone saying it was indeed the firm mentioned in the call. I first rang to lodge a complaint and the promised return call never came. I called again to speak to the director, and when I said I was both a journalist and a councillor, the chap said he didn’t know him, that he was only maintenance and everyone had gone home for the night.

But he took my details and, lo-and-behold, the next day the director rang; bit of a diamond geezer who’d probably be good fun down the boozer.

“We’re a reputable company, don’t think ill of us because of what you’ve read, I’m a young guy setting out trying to earn a living …” that sort of thing.

I began to feel a bit sorry for him, which shows what a good operator he is, a natural-born Apprentice candidate. “Lord Sugar, my business is low-cost, high turn-over and very scalable, and boiler maintenance to maximise efficiency has an ecological message which is very much in keeping with the times…” You’re hired….

Being public-spirited, I tried to call the local council’s trading standards department and got a chap with a vaguely familiar but hard-to-locate accent, not that surprising for London. He took down the details but warned that as he was part of a UK-wide service he couldn’t guarantee what would happen. “Where are you based?” I asked, thinking it would be somewhere like Slough or Stoke. “We’re in the Western Isles,” he said.

It’s not just London; if you’ve got a problem with a nuisance cold caller, rogue trader, or generally dodgy service in Glasgow, Aberdeen or Dundee and you phone the council trading standards department, you’ll be speaking to a Hebridean working for Citizens’ Advice whose UK call centre is in Stornoway.

Edinburgh and Stirling councils are two of a dwindling number of councils not to have outsourced their trading standards contact system, but the consumer affairs organisation Which? has been running a reporting service as part of its campaign to clamp down on unwanted calls.

Their research shows that 90 per cent of Scots received nuisance calls on their landlines (can it be that low?), the worst being Glasgow where 51.5 per cent of all calls to landlines are unwanted. In Edinburgh the figure was 48 and in Aberdeen 45.

The Scottish Government announced an action plan in September to boost the Which? campaign, so if you get a call from one of these companies, make sure you report it.

John McLellan is director of The Scottish Newspaper Society and a former editor of The Scotsman

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "John McLellan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many calls to landlines are unwanted (Picture: Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many calls to landlines are unwanted (Picture: Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-scotland-finally-set-for-digital-age-1-4666675","id":"1.4666675","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Scotland finally set for digital age","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland is blessed with large areas of some of the most scenic countryside in the world, but for many the downside of life in such idyllic scenery is isolation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666674.1516391750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fibre broadband internet is now available to 95 per cent of Scots"} ,"articleBody": "

Scotland is blessed with large areas of some of the most scenic countryside in the world, but for many the downside of life in such idyllic scenery is isolation.

So if anything access to a superfast – or, more accurately, functioning – internet service is of greater importantance to people in the countryside than those in cities.

While a row has broken out between Holyrood and Westminster over whose internet is the fastest, the geography is different and the coverage is actually pretty similar. What seems fairly clear is that – after a frustrating time for some – both governments will finally ensure everyone has a decent internet service within the next few years. And that opens up significant opportunities for places off the beaten path.

READ MORE: Experts turn attention to growing rural digital economy

Financiers were once largely confined to London and Edinburgh but the internet age means that it is now possible to work in “the City” from a house surrounded by fields, trees and a babbling burn.

With many businesses moving online, it will be increasingly possible for a whole range of occupations to be conducted entirely from a computer. This could see repopulation of areas like the Highlands and the Borders, where many people would like to live if only they could still do their job. The pull-factor of the clean air and tranquility of such places is strong.

However an internet connection is, obviously, not the only factor.

The lack of shops and services – illustrated by RBS’s decision to close dozens of bank branches this year – is one problem.

READ MORE: SNP cuts to rural services budget ‘risk devastating Scotland’s farms’

As highlighted recently in The Scotsman, another issue is that people in remote rural areas can also face higher charges for deliveries – something that can prove fatal for a small business that needs to buy in or ship out goods in large volumes. Higher petrol and transport costs also raise the price of goods in general.

All this means rural living might initially sound appealling, but people could be put off if they investigate the consequences of a move more closely.

We also have to decide as a nation whether actually we want to repopulate our hills and glens.

Many planners have been reluctant to allow “houses in the countryside” amid the fight to prevent urban sprawl.

And some will doubtless fear new development could ruin the environment we prize so much.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666674.1516391750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666674.1516391750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fibre broadband internet is now available to 95 per cent of Scots","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fibre broadband internet is now available to 95 per cent of Scots","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666674.1516391750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/snp-rejects-claims-of-trump-like-mocking-of-david-torrance-1-4666314","id":"1.4666314","articleHeadline": "SNP rejects claims of ‘Trump-like’ mocking of David Torrance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516390154000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP has been accused of “Trumpian tactics” amid claims it has lampooned Nicola Sturgeon’s biographer and journalist David Torrance in a party political broadcast.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666835.1516435133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The SNP denied claims for opposition MSPs that it had mocked respected journalist David Torrance in a party political boradcast. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Alex Cole-Hamilton, Lib Dem MSP for Edinburgh Western, has written to Ofcom to complain about the content of the broadcast which was unveiled by the SNP last night.

The PPB, which was shown on both the BBC and STV, is a riff on the Monty Python sketch ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’ and shows a contrarian at a house party called ‘Davey’ who poses the titular question about the SNP’s record and is swiftly shouted down by his fellow guests.

READ MORE: Most Scots back SNP tax plan - poll

Davey is later seen being left alone at the party, before he is accosted by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and humiliated by a can of beer spraying in his face.

A similar PPB, ‘What has the Scottish Government ever done for us?’ was broadcast by the SNP in the lead up to the 2011 Scottish Parliament elections, though that took place in a pub.

Like Mr Torrance, the Davey character has a beard and see-through framed glasses.

Mr Torrance is a prominent journalist who is unafraid to criticise the SNP. As well as his biography of Ms Sturgeon, he has also written an unauthorised version of Alex Salmond’s life story.

READ MORE: SNP Administration in Glasgow opts for name change

The MSP wrote to Ofcom to complain that Mr Torrance was ‘lampooned’ in the video, and said that the PPB made a number of inaccurate claims about the SNP’s record, lauding achievements that were actually introduced by the Labour/Lib Dem coalition of 1999-2007.

Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “It’s a worrying development when a governing party use Trumpian tactics to ridicule prominent journalists who rightly scrutinise both their achievements in office, and their lack thereof, and challenge the case for independence.

“The policy of free personal care for the elderly was brought in five years before the SNP took office, in 2002.

“I believe that it is inappropriate and wilfully misleading for a government to claim credit for the achievements of others to bolster its record after 10 years of office and to use a free broadcast on public service television to do so.”

Mr Cole-Hamilton has tabled a motion in the Scottish Parliament accusing the SNP appearing to mock a journalist and inviting its supporters to do so.

Mr Torrance said: “Surely the SNP are not so insecure and puerile as to purposely parody a certain political commentator. Surely they are above that kind of thing. The real David Torrance would have been a much more effective contrarian and would have pointed out that some of these things owed rather more to previous administrations than the SNP.”

An SNP spokesperson said: “As the party broadcast demonstrates, the SNP have worked hard to deliver for the people of Scotland – meanwhile the few remaining Lib Dems devote their time to conspiracies theories such as this.

“David Torrance is not the only person in the country with a beard and hipster glasses.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin,Ross McCafferty"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666835.1516435133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666835.1516435133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The SNP denied claims for opposition MSPs that it had mocked respected journalist David Torrance in a party political boradcast. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The SNP denied claims for opposition MSPs that it had mocked respected journalist David Torrance in a party political boradcast. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666835.1516435133!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666313.1516375639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666313.1516375639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The star of the party political broadcast. Picture: SNP.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The star of the party political broadcast. Picture: SNP.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666313.1516375639!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/hotel-owner-bans-vloggers-after-free-stay-request-1-4666626","id":"1.4666626","articleHeadline": "Hotel owner bans ‘vloggers’ after free stay request","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516386917000 ,"articleLead": "

A popular vlogger who asked a hotel owner for a free stay was given a scathing response - and her request posetd online.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Youtube influencers are now banned. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Elle Darby, 22, wrote to a Dublin hotel and cafe about a “possible collaboration,” involving free accommodation for her and her partner.

The “influencer” said: “I would love to feature you in my Youtube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation.”

But it was greeted with disdain by Paul Stenson, of the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel in Dublin, who poured scorn on the request - and has now banned bloggers.

Ms Darby, based in Bath, Somerset, said she had 87,000 Youtube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers, and “work as a social media influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty & travel based.”

READ MORE: Youtube star slammed for mocking suicide

However, Mr Stenson responded: “Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure.

“It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.

“If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room?

“The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates?

“Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?”

The Facebook post was greeted with a mixed reaction, with some accusing Paul of bullying and others accusing Ms Darby of being a “spoiled brat.”

She responded by posting a video on her YouTube channel, under the heading “i was exposed (SO embarrassing)”.

READ MORE: Call for Youtube star to be banned over suicide video

In the video, Ms Darby claimed people over the age of 30 “had no idea how social media works these days”, and revealed she had received hundreds of messages of abuse.

She said: “I feel disgusting having to say this. As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home … I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”

The emotional vlogger accused internet users of targeting her.

She added: “These were all 30 years plus people internet bullying a 22-year-old girl who is just trying to run her own business and raise awareness of what appeared to be a stunning Dublin hotel.”

Ms Darby also claimed the response of hindering “the younger generation from doing what they enjoy”, and that she “cried my eyes out in my car alone”.

The hotel has announced that all bloggers are banned from the business.

Mr Stenson wrote: “I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.

“The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was “exposed” with “malicious intent” for asking for a freebie.

“This kind of victimisation is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing.

“If any of you attempt to enter our premises from now on, you will be ejected.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Youtube influencers are now banned. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Youtube influencers are now banned. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/main-players/nicola-sturgeon-congratulates-new-zealand-pm-over-pregnancy-1-4666297","id":"1.4666297","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon congratulates New Zealand PM over pregnancy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516372783981 ,"articleLead": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has congratulated New Zealand's prime minister after sheannounced that she is expecting her first child in June.","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666296.1516372850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jacinda Ardern. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Jacinda Ardern, 37, wrote on Twitter that she and her partner Clarke Gayford were expecting a child, and that Mr Gayford would become a stay-at-home father.

Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Congrats to New Zealand’s PM @jacindaardern. This is first and foremost a personal moment for her - but it also helps demonstrate to young women that holding leadership positions needn’t be a barrier to having children (if you want to). An important first (as far as I know)."

The couple discovered she was pregnant on October 13 - two weeks before she was sworn in as national leader.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon says Scots could go it alone on Brexit deals

Jacinda said: "We thought 2017 was a big year! This year we'll join the many parents who wear two hats. I'll be PM & a mum while Clarke will be 'first man of fishing' & stay at home dad," she tweeted.
She said in a statement that she had asked Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters on Thursday to act as prime minister for six weeks after the birth.
"I fully intend to be contactable and available throughout the six-week period when needed," she said. "I will make arrangements for appropriate ministers to act in my other portfolios over the six weeks I am away from Parliament."
After the six weeks, she will resume all her prime ministerial duties.
"Clarke and I are privileged to be in the position where Clarke can stay home to be our primary care-giver. Knowing that so many parents juggle the care of their new babies, we consider ourselves to be very lucky," she said.
"Clarke and I have always been clear we wanted to be parents but had been told we would need help for that to happen. That's made this news a fantastic surprise," she added.
Within a day of Ms Ardern becoming Labour Party leader, seven weeks before the election, she was twice asked by television hosts about her plans for children.
One host, Mark Richardson, questioned whether it was acceptable for the country's leader to take maternity leave while in office, and said most employers would want to know the maternity plans of their workers.
Ms Ardern, who has previously talked about the difficulties of juggling political life while also wanting to start a family, said she was happy to answer such questions, but others should not feel compelled.
"For other women, it is totally unacceptable in 2017 to say that women should have to answer that question in the workplace," she responded, while pointing her finger at Mr Richardson. "That is unacceptable."
Her answers seemed to resonate with many people, some of whom pointed out that under New Zealand law, workplace discrimination on the basis of pregnancy is illegal.

READ MORE: Sturgeon says councils could get power to police Airbnb

" ,"byline": {"email": "stephen.emerson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Stephen Emerson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666296.1516372850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666296.1516372850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jacinda Ardern. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jacinda Ardern. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666296.1516372850!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/prince-william-s-new-buzz-cut-cost-180-1-4666257","id":"1.4666257","articleHeadline": "Prince William’s new buzz cut ‘cost £180’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516372062000 ,"articleLead": "

The Duke of Cambridge’s new haircut reportedly cost as much as £180.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Duke of Cambridge shows off his new haircut. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Members of the public got their first look at Prince William’s closely cropped hair as he launched a health programme at Evelina London Children’s Hospital on Thursday.

READ MORE: Meghan Markle gets an apron as first official Royal gift

It is understood the heir to the throne, 35, opted for a buzz cut after receiving advice from the Duchess of Cambridge’s hairdresser, Richard Ward.

Mr Ward charges a base fee of £125 for a men’s cut and finish, his website states.

According to The Sun, the cut was reportedly carried out by Joey Wheeler, one of Mr Ward’s deputies, during a private session at Kensington Palace.

Younger brother Prince Harry, 33, has openly joked about William’s receding hairline and once said: “I think he definitely is brainier than I am - but we established that at school, along with his baldness.”

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: How will Scots react to this nostalgic vision of merry old England?

Reports that the haircut cost £180 have been greeted with surprise and disbelief on social media.

Twitter user Andrew S said: “The real news about Prince William’s haircut is that mine is virtually identical to his and cost £6.”

RC Robjohn tweeted: “Why did Prince William’s haircut allegedly cost £180? He hasn’t got much of it left to cut.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Duke of Cambridge shows off his new haircut. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Duke of Cambridge shows off his new haircut. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/boris-johnson-proposes-bridge-across-the-english-channel-1-4665843","id":"1.4665843","articleHeadline": "Boris Johnson proposes bridge across the English Channel","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516369268000 ,"articleLead": "

Boris Johnson has raised the prospect of a second crossing for the English Channel after top-level talks between the UK and France.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson made the suggestion following talks between the UK and France."} ,"articleBody": "

The Foreign Secretary said “good connections” were important to the relationship between the two countries and wondered whether the Channel Tunnel should merely be regarded as “a first step”.

Mr Johnson said the UK-France summit, attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May, had agreed to establish a panel of experts to look at major projects.

READ MORE: The government of Glasgow: SNP administration opts for name change

The Foreign Secretary is understood to want a new fixed link between the UK and France and believes “it’s crazy that two of the biggest economies in the world are connected by one railway line when they are only 20 miles apart”.

But suggestions that the new link could come in the form of a bridge over the Channel won a sceptical response from representatives of UK shipping.

Trade body the UK Chamber of Shipping said in a tweet: “Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges.”

Sources close to Mr Johnson said the French President was enthusiastic about the idea of a new link.

A joint declaration after the summit at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, said: “The United Kingdom and France have a long history of collaboration in delivering cutting-edge technologies.

“Whether pioneering supersonic travel or better connecting our countries through the Channel Tunnel, co-operation between our nations has produced radical innovation.

“We will continue to partner to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, including through a joint scheme, supported by up to 100,000 euro (£88,000) per year, to support academic exchanges, scientific collaboration, and innovation.“

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: The one thing that could make me a Brexiteer

The communiqué added: “As we look to the future of our relationship through the 21st century, we have agreed to establish a joint group of eminent and qualified persons to examine other options for future co-operation, including for significant projects.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Boris Johnson made the suggestion following talks between the UK and France.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson made the suggestion following talks between the UK and France.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/wife-of-police-boss-phil-gormley-speaks-out-in-misconduct-row-1-4666133","id":"1.4666133","articleHeadline": "Wife of police boss Phil Gormley speaks out in misconduct row","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516368437000 ,"articleLead": "

Police Scotland Chief Constable Phil Gormley has not been interviewed about misconduct claims seven months after the allegations were first made, his wife has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4648775.1516368433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chief Constable Phil Gormley. \\nPicture Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

Claire Gormley, herself a former police officer, spoke out in defence of her husband, who is currently on a period of special leave.

READ MORE: Chief Constable Phil Gormley faces new misconduct allegation

It comes as the independent Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) considers allegations of gross misconduct made against the service’s most senior officer.

The Pirc is currently investigating three allegations, and is examining another complaint to see if it should be investigated.

Writing in the Scottish Daily Mail, Mrs Gormley described herself as being an “experienced investigator” who had conducted a number of probes “including inquiries into allegations of bullying against senior officers”.

She stated: “No one disputes the seriousness of bullying, but to ensure fairness to both the accused and the accuser, I interviewed key witnesses as soon as possible, obtaining untainted and relevant evidence.”

In such cases she said she had “searched for the truth” but added: “I have seen little evidence of this concerning my husband, who seven months after the first allegation was made, has still not been interviewed.

READ MORE: Chief constable left ‘disturbed’ by the timing of allegation

“The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner’s office says it is overwhelmed with work and has expressed concern that one aspect of the delay has been a degree of tardiness by some in the force to give evidence.”

She added if the “simple investigation had been properly conducted, this could have been dealt with in a few weeks”.

Mr Gormley, who denies the allegations against him, was placed on special leave in September and has not been back to work since.

His lawyer David Morgan has already raised concerns the investigations have suffered from “significant delays”.

The Pirc has been contacted for comment.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KATRINE BUSSEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4648775.1516368433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4648775.1516368433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chief Constable Phil Gormley. \\nPicture Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chief Constable Phil Gormley. \\nPicture Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4648775.1516368433!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/richard-leonard-pledges-to-boot-out-pfi-deals-from-nhs-1-4666050","id":"1.4666050","articleHeadline": "Richard Leonard pledges to ‘boot out’ PFI deals from NHS","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516366698000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour leader Richard Leonard has pledged to scrap costly PFI deals in Scottish hospitals with a call to for the deals to be \"booted out\" of the NHS.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666049.1516366695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard made the promise during a speech in Dundee. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

It emerged today that Labour MSP Jenny Marra will bring forward a Bill at Holyrood in the coming weeks which will see car parking charges ended at Dundee's Ninewells Hospital as part of a party shift to end the private finance deals in Scotland NHS.

READ MORE: Poll: Scots want private school charity status axed

Mr Leonard set out his plans during a keynote speech in Dundee today where he also pledged the \"biggest programme of social and economic reform in history of the Scottish Parliament\" if he becomes First Minister.

He acknowledged that Labour was responsible for many of the older, more costly PFI deals in Scotland's hospitals, like Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and Ninewells in Dundee, when it was last in power.

But he said: \"We need to start first of all by looking at those PFI projects which frankly are coming towards the end of their 25 year and 30 year lifespan and look at how we can end those with more immediate effect.

\"Secondly my priority is to look at the operation of PFI contracts in the NHS as a priority. I think that the exercise of the profit motive in the national health service is an anathema and I want to see that ended as quickly as possible.

\"I'm not going to undertake to buy out to the full value all of those PFI deals because there are too many of them and the value of them is too great, it would stop us dong all the other things we want to do.

\"But I think it was Nye Bevan who said the religion of socialism is the language of priorities and I would invoke Nye Bevan to say one of the areas where I would want to see as a priority PFI booted out is in the National Health Service.\"

READ MORE: New GP contract approved after backing from profession

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666049.1516366695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666049.1516366695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Richard Leonard made the promise during a speech in Dundee. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard made the promise during a speech in Dundee. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666049.1516366695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/what-are-the-odds-of-trump-surviving-2018-in-office-an-expert-crunches-the-numbers-1-4665945","id":"1.4665945","articleHeadline": "What are the odds of Trump surviving 2018 in office? An expert crunches the numbers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516358768000 ,"articleLead": "

Donald Trump has been under constant fire from critics since he began his campaign in the summer of 2015, and his presidency has so far been perhaps the most chaotic and bizarre in recent decades, writes Christoph Siemroth.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665944.1516358765!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "What are the odds of Donald Trump staying in office. Picture: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

But as he approaches the first anniversary of his inauguration, the pressure is only getting more intense.

First came the revelations in the bestseller Fire and Fury, which reports on various White House aides’ concerns about the president’s mental capacity. Then came Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s request to question Trump about the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia, and his decision to subpoena the president’s ostracised former ally, Steve Bannon.

This article first appeared on TheConversation.com
So as Trump prepares to celebrate a year since his inauguration, what are the chances he’ll still be president when 2018 is over?

There are plenty of guesses and estimates out there, informed and otherwise. Bannon for one is quoted in Fire and Fury as saying Trump only has a 33.3% chance of making it to the end of his term in January 2021. But while many experts and insiders have opinions on the matter, when it comes to forecasting future events, betting and prediction markets have been shown to be rather more reliable.

A prediction market is a simple financial market that allows everyone to bet on an uncertain future outcome. The market most interesting for us asks: “Will Donald Trump be president at year-end 2018?” The yes-asset will pay 100 cents if Trump is still in office at midnight December 31, 2018, and 0 cents if he is not. Because an asset is worth at most 100 cents and at least 0 cents, the asset price is between 0 and 100 – just like a probability.

Since anyone can trade in these markets and adjust the prices, prediction markets have been characterised as a market-based form of the wisdom of the crowd. If the crowd thinks the asset is underpriced – that is, that the implied probability is too low – then people can buy the asset at an expected profit and thereby adjust the price upwards. If the asset is seen as overpriced, then traders can sell to bring the price down.

And indeed, research shows that the prices in these markets are a good predictor of the probabilities. Whenever the asset price is 60 cents, then in 60% of the cases the underlying outcome does in fact happen. If the price is 70 cents, then the underlying outcome happens in 70% of the cases, and so on. That means prices are “well calibrated”; on average, they correspond to probabilities.

Another study finds that assets set to expire more than half a year in the future can exhibit slight biases. Prices above 50 cents tend to be slightly larger than the true probabilities – so looking at the odds on Trump’s future, it’s important to regard the prices as optimistic estimates.

What the crowd says

Currently, the yes-asset trades at 77 cents, implying a 77% or less probability that Trump survives 2018 in office. So the market thinks that while the threats to his presidency are many – the Mueller investigation, rumours of early stage dementia, former staffers with axes to grind – Trump is considerably more likely to survive than be ousted.

Still, of the 57 US presidential terms served prior to Trump, only nine ended prematurely, meaning 84% of terms were fulfilled. The market expectation of Trump making it through the next year (not even the entire term) is therefore significantly below this historical average.

Another market asks: Will Trump be president at year-end 2019? Certainly the probability must be lower here, since Trump cannot resume office in 2019 if ousted in 2018. And indeed, the yes-asset in this market is currently trading at 62 cents, indicating only a 62% probability or less that Trump survives the next two years in office.

But despite the shockwaves generated by Fire and Fury, the prices in both markets have not changed much in the ensuing weeks. Indeed, if anything, they went slightly up around the book’s release, only to revert again a few days later. It seems the markets may have considered the book’s “revelations” just another episode of Trump melodrama.

However, while the odds didn’t change much, the trading volume (i.e. the number of assets bought and sold) started to explode on January 1, around the time newspapers first started discussing the book. These numbers indicate that, while the book did create a lot of interest, it did not considerably affect people’s estimation of Trump’s chances of staying in office.

The last time we saw such large trading numbers on these markets was on December 1, 2017 – the day Michael Flynn (Trump’s former National Security Advisor) pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in its Russia investigation. With new twists in the administration’s various scandals coming thick and fast, it seems safe to say there are other spikes to come – but whether they will shift the odds is another matter.

This article first appeared on TheConversation.com
Christoph Siemroth is a lecturer in Economics, University of Essex

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Christoph Siemroth"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665944.1516358765!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665944.1516358765!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "What are the odds of Donald Trump staying in office. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "What are the odds of Donald Trump staying in office. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665944.1516358765!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/education/poll-scots-want-private-school-charity-status-axed-1-4665914","id":"1.4665914","articleHeadline": "Poll: Scots want private school charity status axed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516357782000 ,"articleLead": "

Most Scots want private schools to be stripped of their charitable status, according to a new poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665913.1516357723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fettes College in Edinburgh is one of Scotland's top private schools."} ,"articleBody": "

A YouGov survey of 1,002 adults for The Times found that 73 per cent believe fee-paying schools should lose their charitable status. Only 13 per cent support the status quo.

The poll’s findings come after the Scottish government announced that it wanted to make private schools pay full business rates.

READ MORE: The government of Glasgow: SNP administration opts for name change

Registered charities are eligible for rates reductions of at least 80 per cent.

Pollsters also found that affluent members of the public were more likely than the working class to support ending the privileges enjoyed by the schools. About 60 per cent of Conservative voters believe charity status should end.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said the results were depressing but not surprising, given that the media has used phrases such as separating “precious offspring from the masses”, “obscene” and “insidious” when covering the work of the private sector.

Private schools, which are attended by about 4 per cent of pupils north of the border, could lose £5 million a year if they are forced to pay business rates.

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Sullen Scots are retreating from politics

Derek Mackay, the SNP finance secretary, this week denied that the policy would lead to a mass exodus of pupils to the state sector. He said families could absorb fee increases which may come as a result of schools losing charitable status. Ross Greer, education spokesman for the Scottish Greens, said allowing private schools the benefits of the status, was “a legacy of another era”.

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “The Scottish government does not have any plans to amend the charity test to remove the charitable status of independent schools.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665913.1516357723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665913.1516357723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Fettes College in Edinburgh is one of Scotland's top private schools.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Fettes College in Edinburgh is one of Scotland's top private schools.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665913.1516357723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nun-accused-of-child-abuse-destroyed-diaries-1-4665699","id":"1.4665699","articleHeadline": "Nun accused of child abuse ‘destroyed’ diaries","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341642000 ,"articleLead": "

An elderly nun accused of abusing children at an orphanage more than 50 years ago has said she destroyed her own written records of that time.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665698.1516313622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry. Photo:Nick Mailer."} ,"articleBody": "

Giving evidence under the pseudonym “Sister Josephine”, the 85-year-old nun said she had kept diaries when she worked at Smyllum Park in Lanarkshire between 1967 and 1981, but didn’t keep them.

The nun, who gave evidence to the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry from behind a screen to protect her anonymity, denied ever hitting a child and rebutted allegations boys were humiliated for bed-wetting and made to line up to have their underpants inspected for signs of being soiled.

Led by Lady Smith, the inquiry has heard allegations of abuse from a number of former residents of the home, which was run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul until its closure in 1981.

The inquiry has previously heard of poor record-keeping at the orphanage, but Sister Josephine said she kept diaries detailing things that happened during the course of the day.

The nun said that at the end of each year, she would take out the most important information and “destroy” the diary.

Asked why, she said: “I took out of it what I needed, what I thought was important.”

Sister Josephine said she also kept medical and dental records for every child in her care, which were passed to the Mother Superior when she left.

The nun was read evidence from a former resident called “Pat” who described Smyllum as “grim” and said he was treated like a “leper” for wetting the bed.

In his statement, Pat said: “You were just hoping you weren’t going to get slapped or punched or beaten that day for any particular reason”.

The sister replied: “It’s not true. It was a very happy place and it was always bright.”

Sister Josephine said she remembered the witness but denied boys were humiliated for wetting the bed; made to queue up to have their underpants checked or have their fingernails cleaned with a cocktail stick.

Asked by Colin MacAulay QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, if there had been physical punishment at Smyllum, the nun said: “No, there wasn’t. There wasn’t anything happened that [the children] needed to be punished physically.”

The nun was also asked about Patricia Meenan, 12, who died after being hit by a car while attempting to run away from Smyllum in 1969.

Asked if other children had attempted to run away, Sister Josephine said: “That was the only time. I didn’t have any others run away.”

The inquiry also heard from Sister Cecilia Dowd, 75, who said she would occasionally “slap” a child on the bottom for misbehaving.

She said she hadn’t seen any abuse during her time at Smyllum in the late 1960s, describing the orphanage as a “happy” place.

But asked by Lady Smith whether children had been hit across the knuckles with a hairbrush as described in her written statement, she replied: “Maybe.”

Sister Dowd said that with hindsight, she wished the nuns had been “more attentive to the physical and emotional needs of the children”.

Lawyers for the Daughters of Charity last year offered a “most sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who suffered any form of abuse while in our care”.

The inquiry continues.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665698.1516313622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665698.1516313622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry. Photo:Nick Mailer.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lady Smith, who is chairing the inquiry. Photo:Nick Mailer.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665698.1516313622!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-wilson-the-one-thing-that-could-make-me-a-brexiteer-1-4665523","id":"1.4665523","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: The one thing that could make me a Brexiteer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

Sometimes it helps to see events through the prism of local experience rather than relying on pronouncements from those who present themselves as all-knowing. This may apply to the strange case of Brexit, the dog that isn’t barking.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit may prove to have positive benefits for Scotlands fishing fleet. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Judging by the daily outpourings of doom, gloom and apocalypse, you might expect the nation to be up in arms and flocking to the Sturgeon standard, demanding not one second referendum but two and living in fear of penury inflicted by callous Brexiteers.

Ms Sturgeon has invested heavily in the hope that this scenario will at some point unfold. Maybe she will get lucky. For the time being, support for independence is down and most Scots seem willing to wait and see what Brexit yields.

Through my local prism, I can help explain why. I was talking to Duncan MacInnes, secretary of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, who seemed amused by the anti-Brexit rhetoric: “Since the referendum, the prices our fishermen are getting for shellfish have gone through the roof – they’re double what they were this time last year.”

Instead of relying on EU markets, the industry looked for new ones, particularly in the Far East. Prices there are forcing EU buyers to match them. There’s a strong suspicion that, for years, the Europeans took advantage of market dominance to hold down prices. Now they must compete.

READ MORE: Poll: Voters ‘in the dark’ over Labour’s position on Brexit

Across from Stornoway harbour lies Arnish fabrication yard, created at the height of the oil platform boom and struggling ever since. Again this week, redundancy notices have been issued as work runs out on the sole renewables contract, farmed out from troubled BiFab in Fife. I suppose the Scottish Government’s defence of its lamentable failure to turn the thousands of turbines which adorn Scottish hillsides into a manufacturing industry would be along the lines of: “It wisnae us. The EU said these things could be made in Spain, Denmark and Germany, and there’s hee-haw we could do about it.”

In the 1970s, a strong government used its leverage to ensure a great Scottish supply chain was formed to support the North Sea. Nothing remotely similar happened with renewables. Is it not possible that, outside the EU, manufacturing jobs could have been linked to approval of projects, which demonstrably has not happened?

In other words, no matter how one voted, the hyperbole of recent days does not square with experience here, and perhaps elsewhere. For years we heard the EU blamed for unwanted diktats, from ferries to environmental designations. Is all this to be forgotten as Sturgeon promotes the new article of faith that Brussels is the font of goodness while life without it would be intolerable? That case has to be argued rather than asserted from Edinburgh in a glossy brochure filled with worst-case scenarios which probably won’t happen. An almost comical touch was added with a map which showed, via a big blob, that we send 43 per cent of our “international” exports to the EU. Sadly, the map did not show the 63 per cent of our overall exports (worth four times as much) that we send to the rest of the UK, the single market which Ms Sturgeon is hell-bent on breaking up. That contradiction does not go unnoticed.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit will cost Scotland £12.7bn a year, finds report

I do not pretend that the price of shellfish or travails of a fabrication yard constitute a metaphor on the Scottish economy. There are real risks in Brexit which is why, on balance, I voted to remain. But sensible people can also see opportunities to do things better which are actually quite exciting if that is how events develop. There is a more nuanced view of the EU than Ms Sturgeon invites us to believe.

She could have put herself in a more credible position by simply saying: “We are ruling out a second independence referendum until after the 2021 Holyrood elections when many matters will be clearer. Meanwhile, our efforts will be concentrated on the best possible deal for Scotland and planning for the creative use of new options outside the EU.”

Instead, she did the opposite by dangling the prospect of Indyref2 to the faithful, with an announcement later this year in the light of Brexit developments. Refusing to separate the timescales for these two processes guarantees an approach that will inevitably be tactical in pursuit of the Nationalists’ raison d’etre, rather than transparent in advancing Scotland’s urgent interests.

That may be as big a tactical mistake as the attempt to link the Brexit vote to demands for a second referendum. People, businesses, communities do not like being used as pawns and if it transpires that Brexit is heading towards an accommodation most Scots can live with, then the Scottish Government’s unremitting search for squabbles is unlikely to be seen as an adequate contribution. The shape of Brexit will evolve in the months ahead. The same interests that need defended in Scotland – such as access to immigrant labour – apply throughout the UK. Reasonable solutions will probably be arrived at because failure to do so is obviously self-defeating. Labour’s position of trying to shape Brexit through scrutiny and responding to outcomes which emerge is easy to ridicule but actually quite sensible.

If one thing could turn me into a Brexiteer it would be the elitist complaint that voters were too ill-informed to answer the question. That is an argument against holding referendums rather than for re-running them till they give the right answer. Let events take their course and seek to influence them – but the starting point of negating a democratic decision is wrong and dangerous.

I had departed politics before Lord Adonis, who has emerged as leader of that tendency, was fast-tracked to the status of “Labour grandee”. As far as I can see, he is an FT journalist who joined the gilded set and was duly shrouded in ermine. It is unfair to say nobody ever elected him since he was once an SDP councillor but heaven knows what mandate he thinks he has to frustrate what 17 million people voted for, without regard for how they might react if he succeeded.

Lessons in humility are required, north and south of the border.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Wilson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit may prove to have positive benefits for Scotlands fishing fleet. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit may prove to have positive benefits for Scotlands fishing fleet. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/jim-duffy-ferris-bueller-s-warning-to-today-s-young-generation-1-4665627","id":"1.4665627","articleHeadline": "Jim Duffy: Ferris Bueller’s warning to today’s young generation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

Real life moves quickly, warned Ferris Bueller, so don’t be distracted by social media too much or it could pass you by, writes Jim Duffy.

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Bueller … Bueller … Bueller …! Yes, I just loved Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the movie. It was one of those right-of-passage movies along with The Breakfast Club, that changed how I thought and perceived the world. But, only this week I was flabbergasted to discover that many twenty-somethings have never even heard of these movies never mind seen them.

They’re missing out on so much, but no-one has alerted them to the fun and knowledge that jump out from this genre of film. It’s time to change that. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when we have great films about growing up that still hold magic today and can still communicate a message.

A young family member this week was updating his LinkedIn profile as he was about to ping some people on the social media platform to inform them about his availability for a job. I thought this was great.

He was using the site to sell himself in as a decent candidate for an internship. It wasn’t exactly a cold call, but a warmish tap on the shoulder to prospective hosts. Most industrious I thought. He asked me for a headline that he would pop into the title text for the message.

READ MORE: Jim Duffy: Tensions rising in the real-life Town Called Malice

I thought for a while, then said: “How about ‘Watch out Ferris Bueller!’” I expected a rousing “wow” or “nice one”. But all I got was: “Who is Ferris Bueller?”

“You’ve never seen Ferris Bueller?” I taunted. It appeared not. I was genuinely amazed. After all, we’ve all seen Matthew Broderick annoy, outwit and devastate Ed Rooney, the dean of pupils, right?

When I was at school, there were two ways to take the day off. One was to “dog it”. By dog it, I mean play truant. A phrase I never understood as if you invite a kid to play, then they will right? So playing truant must have seemed like fun to many. I must admit I never dogged it as I didn’t see the logic here and in any case, I quite enjoyed school. But a few in my class did play truant and, every now and then, took a Friday off. The second way to get the day off school was to pull a sickie.

And this is what Ferris Bueller did with great aplomb. He totally conned his parents into thinking he was sick, albeit his sister Janie was having none of it. He then sailed really close to the wind when winding up Ed Rooney, who for some reason just did not like Ferris.

READ MORE: Jim Duffy: Embrace the joy of missing out on social media

Alas, it did not work out well for Rooney but, as you would expect, our little hero won the day. The movie is a metaphor for disruption and has magnificent quotes. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Even more poignant today, I would suggest. What about The Breakfast Club then? Everyone has seen that, surely? The film with the worldwide hit theme song by Scottish legends Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget About Me – and that amazing cast of young actors? With Molly Ringwold, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy just to name a few, this movie was a classic in its day. A bunch of kids who did not know each other in school and would not have even talked to each other, all couped for a whole day in detention. Yes, detention on a Saturday folks.

If that had been allowed at my secondary school, I know a whole load of boys, me included, who would have spent 50 per cent of their weekends back in the school assembly room writing meaningless essays. And what a day it turned out to be for all the characters in The Breakfast Club. Both movies were directed by the late John Hughes and spoke to a whole generation. They were about teenagers and young people discovering who they are and rebelling against the system, social class and parental expectation pressuring young people to select certain subjects and friends, achieve specific grades and leave these institutions ready for the next stage of their education.

Mind you, that was not going to happen for John Bender, played so well by Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. He was going home after his visits to the club to an alcoholic father who used cigarette butts to burn his arm in order to teach him some discipline. No change here then as we still have weirdos who treat their kids as dolls as we have seen only this week in California.

Both movies have lessons for us parents, teachers and guardians. But, both movies were screened at a time when there was no social media. Ferris at no time can be seen checking his Instagram account. The additional pressure on young people as a result of the need to see and be seen in the virtual world has ramped up. Indeed The Breakfast Club today would have consisted of five young people texting, tweeting and Facebooking for hours with no interaction between them, while they hid their phones from Mr Vernon. Not much of a movie.

I’d love our young people to watch and enjoy and learn from the these two films I like. But, as they sit glued to iPhones and Androids, thumbing away, what else is this generation missing out on? My own daughters doesn’t talk to me anymore. They text me or message me on Messenger. I guess that’s ok as at least I am in their mind’s eye, especially when they want money. Things have changed. I only hope that today’s young people take heed of Ferris’ words and don’t miss too much.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jim Duffy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ferris","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ferris","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/joyce-mcmillan-sullen-scots-are-retreating-from-politics-1-4665629","id":"1.4665629","articleHeadline": "Joyce McMillan: Sullen Scots are retreating from politics","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

Voters seem to be turning away from politics in a state of sullen acceptance that the future is bleak, writes Joyce McMillan.

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January 2018 and, to all useful intents and purposes, the people of Scotland seem to have taken themselves off the political playing-field, vowing never to kick a ball again.

In London, the performance of the Conservative Government goes from ludicrous to worse, as they preside over one disaster after another, from this week’s collapse of the massive Carillion company – one of a dozen “parasite” groups that have emerged as the major beneficiaries of the lucrative outsourcing of British public services – to their almost comically inept handling of the Brexit negotiations; so poor, let us recall, that they have already spent more than half of the available negotiation period first refusing to deal with, and then making comprehensive concessions on, the three preliminary areas that should have been dealt with in the first weeks of discussion, so that actual trade negotiations could begin.

Yet no provocation, it seems, is any longer enough to tempt the wounded bear of Scottish opinion from its den – not even the humiliating sight, this week, of the UK Government conveniently “forgetting” to table promised amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill that would have limited UK ministers’ new power to legislate without parliamentary consent on what are – or were until this week – matters clearly reserved to the Scottish Government. Asked if it would like to vote again on EU membership, the Scottish electorate – 62% per cent of whom voted to remain in the EU, just seven months ago – says no, it is not that bothered. And asked if it would like to draw the logical conclusion from the Brexit vote of last June, and take another look at Scotland’s now radically altered choice between independence in the EU or a future as a not-much-respected region of a Brexit Britain, the bear growls again; and says that in a majority, it would rather not be asked – not in a year, not in five years, perhaps not ever.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit will cost Scotland £12.7bn a year, finds report

So what is going on? Diehard Unionists say that the diagnosis is simple; that Scotland has come to its senses, is fed up of its own recently elected leader (“that Nicola Sturgeon”), has got over the “nonsense” of independence, and is knuckling down to make a go of Brexit, and wave a cheery patriotic flag at Prince Harry’s wedding.

Yet close observation suggests that there is no such positive mood abroad in Scotland; rather the reverse. Instead, there is profound division about the future of the nation (43% think Nicola Sturgeon is doing well as First Minister, 43% think she is doing badly), leading to a sullen acceptance of what others decide for us, a pervasive sense of powerlessness, and something like depression. For let’s face it, if we cannot rouse and unite ourselves even to defend Donald Dewar’s fine devolution settlement enshrined in the Scotland Act of 1998, then something is clearly amiss. The causes of this mood of retreat and withdrawal seem to me to run deep, and include a kind of existential shock caused by the high drama of the independence referendum, followed by the unexpectedness of the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election. Add the fact that we are living though what is, for many households in Britain, a period of intense personal financial pressure and anxiety, against a backdrop of mounting despair about the scale of the environmental and climate threats likely to be faced by our children and grandchildren, and many people seem inclined simply to give up, and focus entirely on the personal here and now. Anecdotally, many people seem to have simply stopped engaging with the news, because they simply cannot bear the daily parade of bigotry, stupidity, violence and irrelevance of which it now often seems to consist.

All of which suggests to me that there will be a massive political premium waiting for the first party that can break free of this mire of gloom and uncertainty, and offer Scotland – under these changed circumstances – a positive vision of its future, that seems plausible, practical, convincing, and worth fighting and campaigning for. On current showing, that party is unlikely to be the Liberal Democrats or Labour – the Lib Dems because their dogged anti-Brexit stance is simply not enough to ignite public enthusiasm, Labour because the Corbyn movement has no particular vision for Scotland, only for the UK as a whole.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon says UK’s Brexit plans are ‘in chaos’

It could, though, be the Tories, with a vision of a lithe, business-friendly post-Brexit Scotland distancing itself from the retro British nationalism of the Westminster Tories, and exploiting whatever opportunities come its way. It could be the Greens, who in many ways have by far the most upbeat and credible story to tell about the coming transition to a low-carbon economy, and how Scotland might benefit from it. Or it could be the SNP, rousing itself from its Brexit-induced gloom, and once again offering a vision of a new 21st century social democracy emerging from the ashes of an increasingly right-wing Britain, and embracing full membership of Europe’s community of nations.

For the truth is that at the moment, the SNP seems less like the party of positive campaigning, broad vision, and slightly insouciant hope led by Alex Salmond until 2014, and more like a disappointed party led by an anxious woman, haunted by the thought of what Brexit will do to Scotland, and what we might have done to avoid it, if opinion had shifted a little more in the SNP’s direction. And however justified that anxiety may be, Scottish voters, like many others in the West, have now had enough of fear, despair and division to last them a lifetime. The task for Scottish politicians now is to try to articulate and embody a positive, uplifting and credible plan for Scotland’s future, around which people can begin to unite. It will be hard, given the depths of the constitutional divisions, perhaps almost impossible. Yet without those messages of hope, and the surge of positive energy that would come with them, we will be doomed to many more years of depression, silence and impotence, brooding in our cave, licking our wounds, repelling all questions, and refusing to turn towards the light.

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The boom in short-term holiday lets in Scotland has had a significant impact on the economy.

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According to industry leader AirBnB, the people who book through its website alone are worth about £1m a day to Scotland.

A lot of people are clearly finding a cheap, easy and pleasant way to visit Edinburgh, Glasgow, scenic Highland glens and other parts of the country, while many Scots have discovered a welcome alternative source of income.

READ MORE: AirBnB proposes 90-day curb on Edinburgh lets – except during Festival

However, the boom has also brought problems, some utterly appalling. In one of the worst examples, a student and her flatmates in Edinburgh were issued with rape alarms and advised to move after the creation of a “party flat” in the same Edinburgh tenement. They said stag parties of up to 40 middle-aged men were turning up “nearly every weekend”. There was “constant noise”, broken glass in the stair and, on one occasion, a man tried to force his way into the flat. A councillor told one of the flatmates that “one girl got raped in a stairwell” of another property. Most issues are thankfully much less terrifying; residents can find it difficult getting hold of the owner of a holiday flat to deal with communal repairs. There are also concerns about empty properties reducing the sense of community in city centres and the failure of some holiday landlords to pay business rates.

AirBnB is now proposing to restrict people to renting out properties in Edinburgh to 90 days a year, outwith peak festival periods.

READ MORE: Edinburgh students given rape alarms over ‘party flat’ concerns

But it is not the only short-term letting website, so Nicola Sturgeon is right to consider whether councils should be given greater powers to deal with situations that get out of hand.

If nothing else, establishing some new ground rules might help create a level-playing field for everyone involved. At present, councils can act if there are complaints but they can be perhaps understandably slow to respond, given the cuts in local authority spending. The real issue might not be a lack of regulation, but a lack of resources to enforce existing ones.

Most people using AirBnB-style websites simply want to have a nice holiday and Scotland, in particular, should be careful not to do anything to put tourists off. After all, VisitScotland estimates tourism is worth £11bn to the economy.

But exploring ways to ensure neighbours’ lives are not blighted seems a sensible idea.

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