{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"news","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/traitor-to-england-ian-blackford-harassed-by-brexit-supporters-in-london-1-4894412","id":"1.4894412","articleHeadline": "‘Traitor to England’: Ian Blackford harassed by Brexit supporters in London","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553275619000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford was harassed by a group of Brexit supporters who shouted abuse at him as he walked down Whitehall.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894423.1553275494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police restrain a man who was shouting pro-Brexit slogans at Scottish National Party (SNP) MP and Westminster leader Ian Blackford (R) outside the Cabinet Office. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Blackford and fellow SNP MP Stephen Gethins were leaving the Cabinet Office shortly after 4pm following a meeting to discuss Brexit with minister David Lidington.

READ MORE: Brexit: EU leaders open door to long delay as May fails to set out plan B.


A group of around a dozen people followed Mr Blackford, shouting “traitor to England” and “leave means leave”.

Media interviews that were scheduled to take place outside the Cabinet Office had to be abandoned. The pair were escorted back to parliament by a police officer.

Mr Gethins said: “Ian took it with characteristic good humour, but no one should have to face that kind of abuse.”

There has been growing concern about the safety of MPs and their staff around Westminster, with parliamentarians this week being advised to take taxis to and from work.

READ MORE: Brexit: Theresa May’s ‘job on the line’ as Tories lose patience


Separately, the Scottish Conservative MP Paul Masterton revealed he was having a panic alarm fitted at his home on the advice of parliamentary security authorities.

“This is not what I signed up for,” he posted on twitter.

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894423.1553275494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894423.1553275494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Police restrain a man who was shouting pro-Brexit slogans at Scottish National Party (SNP) MP and Westminster leader Ian Blackford (R) outside the Cabinet Office. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Police restrain a man who was shouting pro-Brexit slogans at Scottish National Party (SNP) MP and Westminster leader Ian Blackford (R) outside the Cabinet Office. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894423.1553275494!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016994576001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-how-the-flextension-deal-was-reached-and-what-happens-now-1-4894091","id":"1.4894091","articleHeadline": "Brexit: How the 'flextension' deal was reached and what happens now","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553273110000 ,"articleLead": "

EU leaders stepped in to tell Theresa May what would happen if her own MPs voted against her Brexit deal, explains Paris Gourtsoyannis. But what happens next is still up in the air

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894090.1553257605!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May greets fellow EU leaders in Brussels"} ,"articleBody": "

The UK may have just taken part in its last EU Council summit, and the symbolism was inflicted on the British press pack.

Its usual seats at the heart of the summit press hall were snapped up by Chinese journalists in Brussels as Xi Jinping tours Europe. The EU wanted to talk about its bright future - those writing about the awkward present were shunted into a hot, stuffy side room.

Right up to the moment Theresa May sat down to ask them for a Brexit extension, EU leaders had talked tough: any delay would have conditions, and would be final. Take it or leave it - we’re washing our hands.

But during a 90 minute grilling, the Prime Minister failed to convince them she had any clear plan of what to do if her deal was voted down by MPs again next week. So EU leaders stepped in and wrote one for her.

READ MORE: Brexit: Theresa May’s ‘job on the line’ as Tories lose patience

The EU27 took another five hours to hammer out the ‘flextension’ agreed late on Thursday night, with leaders tearing up their own proposal and getting stuck into the drafting of a new one. In the back and forth, several different suggestions leaked out over the course of the evening.

In the end, it was Brexit that pushed China off the agenda, with talks over dinner replaced by more wrangling about Article 50. May had been due to eat with fellow leaders; instead, summit organisers offered to send the menu of lentil and langoustine terrine and roasted duckling over for her to eat alone.

The UK’s future was set without its Prime Minister in the room, not because EU bureaucrats wanted it that way, but because its own government offered no alternative.

A no deal Brexit remains a strong possibility, and the EU has designed a scheme that seeks to leave it out of the blame game that would follow. It gives pro-EU forces in parliament two extra weeks to mobilise, and left the door open to a long delay if they can agree on a clear alternative to the Prime Minister’s deal.

One of the most significant things to emerge overnight was how open EU Council President Donald Tusk was about his desire to see the UK change its mind on Brexit.

“I am very satisfied, especially that we still have so many options open,” he said in a midnight press conference, adding with a smile: “You know what my personal view is on this.” He later went even further in a briefing with Polish media, saying he wanted the UK to “consider all possible options” - which include revoking Article 50.

The question now is what parliament does with its two week window. Next week, MPs will mount yet another bid to take control of the order paper, so that they can finally vote on alternatives to the government’s Brexit deal. A softer exit inside the single market and customs union, and a second EU referendum are likely to feature. The government will try to bring back its deal, but few have any expectation it will succeed.

Meanwhile at Westminster, calls from her own party for the Prime Minister to step aside continue to grow. It may have only been Theresa May’s last Brussels summit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894090.1553257605!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894090.1553257605!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May greets fellow EU leaders in Brussels","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May greets fellow EU leaders in Brussels","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894090.1553257605!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016994576001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/ukip-dismissed-as-irrelevant-band-of-misfits-over-devolution-stance-1-4894377","id":"1.4894377","articleHeadline": "UKIP dismissed as ‘irrelevant band of misfits’ over devolution stance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553273355000 ,"articleLead": "

UKIP have been dismissed as an “irrelevant band of misfits” after the party declared it would actively campaign against devolution in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894376.1553271452!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People take part in a "Brexit Betrayal" march and rally organised by Ukip in central London in December last year. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The party, which has lost several high-profile members due to its increasingly right-wing stance in recent months, has long been sceptical of devolved governments.

But a meeting of UKIP’s national executive committee this week unanimously voted to change the party’s devolution policy, declaring it would oppose it across the country.

While the party has stood candidates at previous Holyrood elections, it has failed to elect a single MSP. It is unclear if it will stand candidates in the future.

READ MORE: David Coburn quits UKIP over ‘anti-Islam’ platform

Donald Mackay, leader of UKIP in Scotland, said: “We need to go back to being a United Kingdom. For too long Scottish, Welsh and Irish Nationalists have sought to undermine the constitutional integrity of the UK. If we finally leave the EU and re-join the international stage as an independent and sovereign power, it is vital that we strengthen the constitutional bonds that unite the four countries of our United Kingdom”.

Earlier this month, the party claimed its membership in Scotland had risen in the past year despite the party’s only elected representative quitting in a row over its future direction.

MEP David Coburn was one of a number of high-profile members who resigned in protest at the “anti-Isalmic platform” adopted by UK leader Gerard Batten.

Former leader Nigel Farage also quit in December, claiming the party was no longer following his policy of excluding extremists from its ranks.

A spokesman for the SNP said: “UKIP is an increasingly irrelevant band of misfits who are now seen as toxic even by the likes of Nigel Farage. They are a spent force with no support in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894376.1553271452!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894376.1553271452!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "People take part in a "Brexit Betrayal" march and rally organised by Ukip in central London in December last year. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "People take part in a "Brexit Betrayal" march and rally organised by Ukip in central London in December last year. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894376.1553271452!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016529628001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/scots-risk-missing-potential-snap-election-as-electoral-roll-drops-1-4894068","id":"1.4894068","articleHeadline": "Scots risk missing potential snap election as electoral roll drops","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553273197000 ,"articleLead": "

Thousands of Scots risk not being able to have their say if a snap general election or second Brexit referendum is called this year, official figures reveal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1553256968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots have headed to the polls four times since 2016"} ,"articleBody": "

The number registered to vote north of the Border in a Westminster election was found to have dropped by 24,800 at the end of 2018 compared with the previous year.

And those registered to vote in a Holyrood or local authority election also declined by 15,300 in the same period, a report published today by the National Records of Scotland revealed.

The drop in those registered to vote comes as speculation mounts on the future of Theresa May’s premiership.

The prime minister returned from Brussels today to be confronted by reports that most MPs from her own party now want her to quit following another inconclusive week of Brexit talks.

Calls for a second referendum on the UK’s status within the EU are also refusing to die down, with an online petition demanding Brexit is suspended having been signed more than three million times in the past two days.

Registrars noted there has been a slight upturn in the numbers registered to vote since the turn of a the century.

There was a drop in 2015 following the introduction of Individual Electoral Registration (IER), which affected the registration of students.

Prior to the introduction of IER, block registration was permitted, particularly for students in halls of residence, but this practice has now been discontinued.

Since the drop in 2015, electorates in Scotland have generally increased, which registrars attribute to the heightened period of electoral activity seen over the last few years, with voters going to the polls on four occasions since May 2016.

The report also found that 3.2 per cent of the total Scottish electorate is now made up of EU citizens from outwith the UK.

The total number of UK Parliamentary electors in Scotland is now 3,925,800, with 4,105,800 registered for Holyrood and local elections.

Those aged 16 and 17 were handed the right to vote in Scottish parliamentary elections in 2016 but the minimum age remains 18 for Westminster votes.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894067.1553256968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1553256968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scots have headed to the polls four times since 2016","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scots have headed to the polls four times since 2016","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1553256968!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016994576001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":1,"list":[ {"related": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/holy-island-trust-raises-housing-concerns-1-3911295","name": "Holy Island trust raises housing concerns"}} ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-theresa-may-s-job-on-the-line-as-tories-lose-patience-1-4893915","id":"1.4893915","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Theresa May’s ‘job on the line’ as Tories lose patience","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553252304000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May is returning from another tumultuous Brussels summit amid warnings that her premiership is on the line.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893914.1553252296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May leaves the British Residence in Brussels today to return to the UK without attending the second day of the EU Council Summit. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

But she faces a Tory Party losing patience with her leadership and threats that MPs could now seize control of the withdrawal process.

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the backbench 1922 committee, was reported to have met Mrs May to tell her that most Conservative MPs now want her to quit.

The Daily Telegraph said that Sir Graham visited her in Downing Street on Monday after being “bombarded” with text messages from MPs demanding she should go.

The paper said that it was one of a series of direct confrontations with Conservative MPs in the run-up to the summit.

Mrs May was said to have been challenged by a group of 15 whips just before last week’s meaningful vote - which she lost by 149 votes - with one directly calling on her to quit, while others warned that the trust of backbenchers had been lost.

And there was said to have been a further confrontation with Eurosceptic MPs on Wednesday when Nigel Evans, the executive secretary of the 1922, told her: “It’s not that people don’t believe what you say, it’s that people don’t believe you can deliver.”

Stewart Jackson, who was David Davis’s chief of staff when he was Brexit secretary, said she should “stand down immediately” if she loses next week’s vote.

“Conservative members will no longer tolerate her grovelling to the EU and national humiliation,” said the former Conservative MP for Peterborough. “I suspect the Whips, 1922 (Committee) and Cabinet will help the process.”

Mrs May’s former policy adviser George Freeman said that if she lost the vote, Parliament would “take control and “switch to Plan B” to join the European Free Trade Association “with or without this PM”.

At a late night press conference, the Prime Minister made clear that she intended to make another attempt to get her Brexit deal through the Commons.

If she succeeds, the EU leaders agreed to extend the Article 50 withdrawal process until May 22 to enable the Government get the necessary legislation through Parliament.

But if she fails to do so, the UK will have until April 12 to set out its next steps, with a longer extension on offer only if Britain takes part in European Parliament elections in May.

The Prime Minister told reporters the “flextension” plan offered MPs a clear choice.

“We can leave with a deal in an orderly manner, have that extension until May 22, or if we don’t get that deal, that vote, through, then we have to come forward with another plan, and if that plan means another extension, it means standing in those European elections,” she said.

However, the chairman of the Commons Brexit Committee, Labour MP Hilary Benn, warned that he will table an amendment enabling MPs to hold a series of “indicative votes” on alternatives to Mrs May’s plan.

“This won’t work if the Prime Minister is not prepared to move an inch,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“We need to open up this process because we have rejected her deal, we’ve rejected no-deal, the EU has decided to give us a little more time, and we’ve really got to get on with it.”

The amendment is backed by a cross-party group of MPs including Tory former ministers Sir Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve.

Aides confirmed that Thursday’s agreement means that a no-deal Brexit is no longer a possibility on March 29, but stressed that it remains on the table if MPs have not approved the Withdrawal Agreement by April 12.

The format increases pressure on Leave-backing MPs to row in behind Mrs May’s deal, for fear that if it falls the UK could find itself electing new MEPs and remaining for month or years within the EU.

It also creates a fortnight’s breathing space if Mrs May reaches the end of next week without securing agreement for her package, or if Speaker John Bercow prevents her from tabling a motion which he regards as a repeat of those already defeated by 230 votes in January and 149 votes last week.

Downing Street was unable to say which day the Government would seek to bring back the Withdrawal Agreement for a third “meaningful vote” - known in Westminster as MV3.

But sources confirmed that Mrs May will table secondary legislation to remove the date March 29 from Brexit laws.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893914.1553252296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893914.1553252296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May leaves the British Residence in Brussels today to return to the UK without attending the second day of the EU Council Summit. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May leaves the British Residence in Brussels today to return to the UK without attending the second day of the EU Council Summit. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893914.1553252296!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016526937001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/richard-branson-uk-dangerously-close-to-full-scale-brexit-disaster-1-4894352","id":"1.4894352","articleHeadline": "Richard Branson: UK dangerously close to full-scale Brexit disaster","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553281568000 ,"articleLead": "

The EU Council has granted the UK Government’s wish. An extension of Article 50 will delay Brexit until 22 May if Parliament accepts the Withdrawal Agreement. If not, the UK may crash out of the EU without a deal as early as 12 April, writes Sir Richard Branson in an article first published on the Virgin website.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894351.1553277666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Richard Branson warns Brexit poses a rise to the Union as well as the UK (Picture: Neil Hanna)"} ,"articleBody": "

Some may call this a reprieve. I fear the UK is still dangerously close to the full-scale disaster that a no-deal exit from the European Union would be.

Employers and unions agree. In a rare joint statement, the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress have warned of a “national emergency”. The time for the UK Government to rethink its approach is now.

At this juncture, it seems implausible that another motion to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement would actually win majority parliamentary support. And even with an extended Brexit deadline, that’s a major risk to the UK, and to the Union itself.

This is a moment of profound national crisis for the UK. Yet there is no sign of the inclusive leadership such a crisis requires.

Prioritising party over country, the Prime Minister is no longer acting in the national interest. Instead, she has decided to pitch herself as the defender of the “people” against the machinations of Parliament.

READ MORE: Brexit: How the ‘flextension’ deal was reached and what happens now

By limiting the MPs’ choice yet again to one between her own deal and no deal at all, she is placing a dangerous bet.

Members of Parliament are representatives of the people, not mere delegates. They should be accountable to their own conscience, led what they believe to be best for Britain, but always informed by clear, irrefutable evidence.

Nearly three years after the 2016 referendum, that evidence tells us that few, if any, of the original assumptions about leaving the EU were correct.

Thousands of jobs in Britain have been lost already, with many more redundancies on the horizon as manufacturers react to the looming threat of tariffs and supply chain disruptions.

More than a trillion pounds in assets are being moved to Dublin, Frankfurt, Paris, and other European cities as financial institutions begin to execute their contingency plans. And Brexit preparations alone have eaten up billions that could have been spent elsewhere.

These consequences are real and tangible. They affect people everywhere across the UK. They affect investment in the UK, the nation’s ability to trade goods and services, to travel, to jointly tackle global challenges, from climate change to terrorism.

READ MORE: Poll: Scottish independence more popular than Theresa May’s Brexit deal

At the very least, these consequences should afford MPs an opportunity to determine whether this is really what the UK people wanted in 2016 and whether it’s time to give them a final say. Instead, MPs are now being forced into endorsing what cannot even be described as the best option among a bad lot.

On Monday, Labour MP Andrew Gwynne, whose constituency voted to leave the EU in 2016, shared letters from concerned constituents expressing how they feel now, more than 1,000 days after the referendum. If there’s just one takeaway from these citizens’ messages, it is that Leave never meant “leave at any price”.

The truth is that the people’s views are never static. They evolve. And they can change. I am not alone in feeling many UK people have changed their minds.

The UK Government must now put all options on the table, and giving the people a final say must be one of these options.

If it is not , there is only one alternative – a clear decision by Parliament to require the Government to revoke Article 50 and start the process again from scratch, armed with the facts. There is little time to avoid a multi-generational disaster.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Richard Branson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894351.1553277666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894351.1553277666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Richard Branson warns Brexit poses a rise to the Union as well as the UK (Picture: Neil Hanna)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Richard Branson warns Brexit poses a rise to the Union as well as the UK (Picture: Neil Hanna)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894351.1553277666!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016994576001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-why-uk-is-at-serious-risk-of-an-accidental-no-deal-brian-wilson-1-4894485","id":"1.4894485","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Why UK is at serious risk of an accidental no-deal – Brian Wilson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553281452000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP and other Opposition parties helped put Margaret Thatcher in power, now they could bring about a disastrous no-deal Brexit, says Brian Wilson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891228.1553281449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jacob Rees-Mogg. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Exactly 40 years ago, Alf Broughton was on his deathbed and central to a political drama. As a GP, he had served the mining communities of Yorkshire before becoming a Labour MP.

Government Whips, facing a no confidence vote, faced a dilemma. Would they call on him to be propelled by ambulance to the precincts of Westminster so he could be counted through the lobby?

The good doctor wanted to make one last sacrifice for the cause but his wife was against it. The Chief Whip, Walter Harrison, made the final call – not to request his attendance. The Labour Government fell by a single vote.

In the House of Commons, there was no such humane spirit. Mrs Thatcher led 279 Tories into the Lobby accompanied by 13 Liberals, 11 Scottish Nationalists and eight Ulster Unionists.

On the other side were every other Labour MP, three Welsh Nationalists, two Ulster Unionists and two from the breakaway SLP. Mrs Thatcher could not have won on her own.

At other times, this might just be a piece of anniversary-based history – albeit an essential one in understanding much that followed in Scottish and UK politics. To a remarkable extent, however, it also serves as a parable for our immediate times.

When the votes were tallied, it did not matter a toss why MPs of different persuasions were in the lobby with Mrs Thatcher. Only the outcome left its mark on history – and what a mark it was.

In exactly the same way, there is an imminent danger of MPs who claim to revile a particular outcome – leaving the EU without a deal – delivering exactly that catastrophe. Through obduracy or inadvertence, they are refusing to face up to the actual choice at hand.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit would place food banks in ‘dangerous position’, warns Ian Blackford

Just as in 1979, MPs prepared to inflict such an outcome seek to absolve themselves of responsibility. It will all be Theresa May’s fault because she could not deliver what they wanted. Oh no, it won’t. Whatever the Prime Minister’s inadequacies, she will not be alone on the charge-sheet.

I heard Barry Gardiner, one of Labour’s more presentable spokespersons, being interviewed on the Today programme. It was put to him that the consequence of again voting against the deal might well be “no deal”. Was he prepared to risk that?

“Ah,” he advised John Humphrys sagely, “you are falling into the trap that the Prime Minister has set.” Einstein on discovering the relativity theory could not have sounded more pleased with himself for recognising a truth which remained obscure to lesser mortals.

Someone should advise Mr Gardiner that the point of identifying a trap is to avoid it. Yet Labour, along with other Opposition parties and their multifarious motivations, are on the point of walking into the most dangerous trap in post-war politics.

READ MORE: SNP 11 were the original ‘Tartan Tories’

Exactly as in 1979, there is a force at work which knows exactly what the prize is and where it lies. Then it was Mrs Thatcher and her right-wing Tory followers. Now it is the hard-line Brexiteers who have never deviated from their objective.

They are potentially within days of crossing the line and seizing the prize of an abrupt, unconditional exit from the EU. Just as Mrs Thatcher could not have won her prize without the useful idiots who accompanied her into the Lobby neither can Johnson, Rees-Mogg and the rest of their gang.

The Dutch Prime Minister summed up the situation perfectly when he said: “It is time for British MPs to stop playing party political games and vote for the deal next week.” Of course that is what they should do, as the only certain way of stopping “no deal”.

There are various ploys still in play aimed at delay – referendum, General Election and so on – but time is running out. Pursuing them will be no alibi for shirking the actual choice which currently exists. At some point, MPs must make that call.

As the SNP found out in 1979, voters tend to be more interested in outcomes than pleas of wronged innocence. There will be no electoral rewards for voting in the arch-Brexiteer lobby, regardless of claimed motive.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Wilson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891228.1553281449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891228.1553281449!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jacob Rees-Mogg. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jacob Rees-Mogg. Picture: Victoria Jones/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891228.1553281449!/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/scotrail-we-hope-and-expect-to-praise-you-leader-comment-1-4894476","id":"1.4894476","articleHeadline": "ScotRail, we hope and expect to praise you – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553280909000 ,"articleLead": "

ScotRail’s performance in recent months has not been good enough with crew shortages leading to delays, cancellations and misery for thousands of passengers and prompting Nicola Sturgeon to warn that it is now in the “last-chance saloon”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894474.1553280906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Delays for rail passengers have caused misery to many travellers in recent months (Picture: John Devlin)"} ,"articleBody": "

Yesterday the firm announced its response – 85 extra staff and three more trains as part of an £18 million remedial plan.

Some were sceptical. Labour said the trains were “overcrowded and overpriced” and showed why nationalisation was the answer.

The Conservatives dismissed the remedial plan as a “toothless and meagre attempt to buy time”. Both criticised the Scottish Government.

READ MORE: ‘Best railway Scotland’s ever had’ delayed by wrong type of thread

But, once upon a time, ScotRail ran what was acclaimed as the most punctual major train service in Britain.

And the firm has also insisted it is building “the best railway Scotland has ever had” – so we should get services that are even better than during its glory days.

The Scotsman has criticised ScotRail in the past. We will await to see the effectiveness of its remedial plan, but we hope and expect to praise it in the future.

READ MORE: Rail fare rise: Paying more for poor service – leader comment

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894474.1553280906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894474.1553280906!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Delays for rail passengers have caused misery to many travellers in recent months (Picture: John Devlin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Delays for rail passengers have caused misery to many travellers in recent months (Picture: John Devlin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894474.1553280906!/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/royal-navy-destroyer-hms-defender-returns-to-glasgow-1-4894437","id":"1.4894437","articleHeadline": "Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender returns to Glasgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553277183000 ,"articleLead": "

Shipbuilding has a long future on the River Clyde, building on Glasgow’s historic connections to the industry, a Royal Navy commander has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894434.1553277165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "HMS Defender makes it way up the river Clyde past Dumbarton Castle.(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

HMS Defender, a Type 45 Destroyer, arrived in Govan on Friday in a return to the city where she was built in 2013.

The ship is berthed at King George V Dock, around a mile away from where it was built and launched, and will be open to visitors throughout the weekend.

READ MORE: Russian ship with ‘vomit weapon’ spotted off Scottish coast

HMS Defender’s Commanding Officer, Richard Hewitt, described the return as “a very special occasion”.

He said:”It was fantastic to arrive and see the HMS Taymar, who had a naming ceremony yesterday, seeing HMS Trent being built and looking not too far behind Taymar, and also the Type 26 which is being built on the Clyde as well.

“So a long future for shipbuilding on the River Clyde exists.”

Prior to its arrival in Glasgow, HMS Defender had been escorting a Russian naval task group along the UK coastline - keeping a watchful eye on frigate Admiral Gorshkov and three auxiliary ships.

Commander Hewitt highlighted the Royal Navy’s lasting commitment to defending UK waters.

“Defender is one of the six Type 45 destroyers of the Royal Navy,” he said.

“She’ll be particularly used in the next few years in conjuction with the new aircraft carriers (HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales), escorting them on their duties around the world.”

“It’s beholden on the Royal Navy to ensure the integrity of the seas around the UK and that is our enduring commitment to the UK.”

He added: “Glasgow, in being our affiliated city, is especially important to Defender and to the Royal Navy as a whole, as part of Scotland’s commitment to the Royal Navy.

There’s a force of around 10,000 people from the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the British Army located and working in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894434.1553277165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894434.1553277165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "HMS Defender makes it way up the river Clyde past Dumbarton Castle.(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "HMS Defender makes it way up the river Clyde past Dumbarton Castle.(Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894434.1553277165!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894435.1553277171!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894435.1553277171!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "HMS Defender returns to Glasgow where it was built in Govan in 2013. Picture: Lewis McKenzie/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "HMS Defender returns to Glasgow where it was built in Govan in 2013. Picture: Lewis McKenzie/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894435.1553277171!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894436.1553277181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894436.1553277181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Crew members on board HMS Defender as it is docked on March 22, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Crew members on board HMS Defender as it is docked on March 22, 2019 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894436.1553277181!/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/politics/general-election/brexit-eu-leaders-open-door-to-long-delay-as-may-fails-to-set-out-plan-b-1-4893861","id":"1.4893861","articleHeadline": "Brexit: EU leaders open door to long delay as May fails to set out plan B","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553273263000 ,"articleLead": "

EU leaders have rejected Theresa May’s assurances that she can get her Brexit deal passed this week and opened the door to a long delay to the UK’s departure, offering pro-EU MPs a two-week window to mobilise for an alternative.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893860.1553242367!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May has been in discussion with the EU over a delay to Brexit. Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

In marathon talks in Brussels, EU leaders agreed a ‘flexible’ extension to Article 50 that will keep the UK in the EU until 22 May if the deal is passed, but giving until 12 April for the UK to ask for more time if MPs reject it again.

After telling MPs, the country and 27 European heads of government that she wouldn’t tolerate the UK staying in the EU beyond the end of June, fellow leaders ignored her and kept open the possibility of putting Brexit off until the end of the year. 
With the leaders of Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands appealing for flexibility, the EU eased the risk of a no-deal Brexit by removing the requirement that an extension is tied to a vote on the Prime Minister’s deal in all cases.

It gives pro-EU forces valuable time to mobilise and seek to soften the Brexit deal or attempt to force an election or a second EU referendum.

A conference dinner to discuss relations with China was taken over by debate on the UK’s exit. Mrs May had been due to take part, but was shut out so EU leaders could continue talks in private.

EU leaders rejected the Prime Minister’s request to extend Article 50 until 30 June, insisting the UK cannot remain beyond EU elections on 23 May. After grilling the Prime Minister for an hour and a half, EU leaders ripped up their draft proposals and began five hours of private talks.

Mrs May was asked to explain why she thought she would get her deal through the House of Commons at the third attempt.

EU sources described the Prime Minister as “tight lipped” and “evasive”, and said her “answers weren’t always crystal clear”.

The Prime Minister was unable to tell EU leaders what she would do in the event that MPs rejected her deal again.

Earlier, the Prime Minister refused to rule out taking the UK out of the EU without a deal when asked the same question by journalists.

“What is important is that Parliament delivers on the result of the referendum and that we deliver Brexit for the British people,” Mrs May said on arrival at the summit.

“I sincerely hope that we can do that with a deal. I am working on ensuring that Parliament can agree a deal so that we can leave in an orderly way.

“What matters is that we deliver on the vote of the British people.

“What matters is that we recognise that Brexit is the decision of the British people. We need to deliver on that.”

The Prime Minister added: “We’re nearly three years on from the original vote. It is now time for Parliament to decide.”

There was also tough rhetoric at the start of the summit from EU leaders, particularly French president Emmanuel Macron, who said the UK faced no deal “for sure” in the wake of another defeat for the government unless there was “profound political change”.

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker quipped: “I didn’t even know I had this much patience.”

It came as a parliamentary petition calling on the government to revoke Article 50 and stop Brexit attracted support at the fastest rate ever seen, with well over 1.5 million people signing it within 24 hours.

At its peak there were 2,000 people adding their names every minute, crashing the Westminster Parliament’s website.

At Westminster, MPs on all sides voiced anger at the Prime Minister’s statement on Tuesday night that blamed Parliament for the continuing Brexit deadlock.

But Commons Speaker John Bercow told MPs who complained about the Prime Minister’s statement: “None of you is a traitor”.

There were signs of further division within the Conservative Party, with reports that Chief Whip Julian Smith told MPs that he thought the Prime Minister’s statement was “appalling”.

“She just won’t listen to us,” Mr Smith is said to have told a Tory colleague.

The Ministry of Defence announced yesterday it had activated a nuclear bunker beneath Whitehall to act as the co-ordination centre for 3,500 military staff on standby for a no-deal Brexit.

The UK will move into a “very high readiness mode” on Monday under its no-deal preparedness plan, dubbed Operation Yellowhammer.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893860.1553242367!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893860.1553242367!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May has been in discussion with the EU over a delay to Brexit. Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May has been in discussion with the EU over a delay to Brexit. Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893860.1553242367!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016994576001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/how-my-bid-to-become-juliet-bravo-fell-short-susan-morrison-1-4893548","id":"1.4893548","articleHeadline": "How my bid to become Juliet Bravo fell short – Susan Morrison","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553234447000 ,"articleLead": "

When I was a gel I desperately wanted to be a policewoman, just so I could walk up to people and say, “What’s going on here then, mate?”, writes Susan Morrison.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893546.1553179993!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephanie Turner as Inspector Jean Darblay in Juliet Bravo ' a role model for aspiring policewomen everywhere"} ,"articleBody": "

And they’d have to tell me. It seemed to me the career of choice for nosey women everywhere, but how I came by this ambition is a bit of a mystery.

There were few role models on the telly when I was a kid. Z Cars was a boys’ club, featuring no less a talent than the leather-lunged Brian Blessed, a man who I suspect took up ­mountain climbing just to give us all a bit of peace and quiet.

Seriously, how could that man with that voice ever have been a real policeman? It’s not like he could ever have gone undercover. Can you imagine him trying to whisper on a stakeout in Leith? He’d ­rattle ­windows in Burntisland. Mind you, one bellow from the Blessed and the entire stand at Hampden would have been silenced. Bet you’re humming the Z Cars theme tune now.

We got Softly Softly next, basically the Z Cars boys in different places. ­Reusing characters and stories was pretty common back then. It might have been something to do with post-war shortages of creative thinking in British television. Oh look, that idea worked, so let’s flog it to death.

Still very few women, but it did break new ground by featuring Inky the Police Dog. Of course, adorable Inky had just one job, and that was to get shot and killed on active duty. Cue outrage from the people of Britain.

I imagine Points of View was hit with a veritable tsunami of letters written in green ink, starting “Why, oh why . . .” Concerns were raised in the House of Commons. This was back in the days when the House talked about things not Brexit-related. Remember that? Me neither.

Inky, or at least the dog who played Inky, had to be trotted out on Blue ­Peter to reassure an anxious nation that all was well.

But still, few girls for girls like me to be inspired by. We had to wait ­until 1980 when the screen suddenly ­exploded with Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in London with the Gentle Touch, backed up by uniformed Juliet Bravo keeping safe the mean streets of Hartley.

My dream was doomed. Far too short, y’see. This was back in the days when the pride of the City of Glasgow police loomed a good six feet above you. Even the women looked like ­Viking shield maidens.

I still don’t know quite where the ­police got these women from, but I have ­distinct memories of them ­standing on duty in Glasgow on Old Firm Days.

These were the days when the city ­centre lamp-posts could go missing as the green and blue flooded through. Unruffled, these women stood like Easter Island statues, with a look that could quell a riot.

I was so short I didn’t even reach their radios.

There’s been a murder, Jessica must be here

Even being a detective was out. The only female detectives on telly were nearly always desiccated old spinsters with cut glass accents.

They were portrayed as interfering busybodies, endlessly investigating gruesome murders in quaint English villages. It’s why you won’t catch me visiting the Cotswolds. Apparently, it’s got a murder rate akin to a Mexican drug cartel killing spree. That, and the horrible off-chance of bumping into David Cameron, of course.

Now that could get seriously murderous.

Wrong class for the murder in the vicarage, me. These grand dames were so posh they could effortlessly drink tea with a cup, a saucer and a teaspoon, and drop none of them whilst reaching for a cucumber sandwich.

I’d leave a ten-foot radius debris field of smashed crockery, tea stains and soggy white bread.

Things weren’t much more inspiring across the Atlantic. There was only Murder, She Wrote. Let’s be honest, the biggest mystery here was why people kept inviting Jessica Fletcher to visit.

Ms Fletcher barely had the chance to unpack her jammies before the bodies started cluttering up the flower beds and floating in the pool like discarded lilos.

For 12 long years, Jessica Fletcher rattled about with murder in her wake. Nobody ever turned around and said ‘It’s this auld bisum! We need a bulk order of crime scene cordon tape every time she shows up!’

I’m ready – by special invitation

But now, my chance has come. Chief Superintendent Gareth Blair has put out a call for special constables.

At last, my chance to recreate the opening scenes of The Bill with steady, measured footfall, although I do see myself more as Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley, more tea-drinking, door-kicking and sweary really.

Chief Super, look no further. The solution is here. Probably just a bit shorter, fatter and older than you were expecting, I’ll grant you that, but you can’t fault my enthusiasm.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "suSan morrison"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893546.1553179993!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893546.1553179993!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stephanie Turner as Inspector Jean Darblay in Juliet Bravo ' a role model for aspiring policewomen everywhere","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stephanie Turner as Inspector Jean Darblay in Juliet Bravo ' a role model for aspiring policewomen everywhere","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893546.1553179993!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893547.1553179996!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893547.1553179996!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher in Murder, She Wrote","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893547.1553179996!/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/opinion/dark-money-could-flood-into-british-politics-under-planned-law-electoral-reform-society-1-4894153","id":"1.4894153","articleHeadline": "‘Dark money’ could flood into British politics under planned law – Electoral Reform Society","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553262986000 ,"articleLead": "

The Overseas Electors Bill, which returns to the Commons today, has a sound purpose – to end the current limit on how long Britons can live abroad and still be able to vote.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894152.1553262982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK election laws are out-dated and full of loopholes (Picture: Jane Barlow)"} ,"articleBody": "

But, whilst well-intentioned, the bill has could result in unintended consequences – unleashing a weakening of the rules around who funds our politics.

Alongside being able to vote, the bill proposes overseas Britons would also be able to donate to political parties. But removing the requirement of residency for political donations could create a loophole and flood our politics with unregulated cash, paving the way for foreign interests to influence our politics.

The Government must carefully consider the risks of allowing unfettered donations from abroad. Unscrupulous states will be looking for ways to steer our politics, meaning we should pause before opening the floodgates further.

READ MORE: ‘The democratic disaster of 90 seats reserved for men in Parliament’

The UK’s campaign finance rules have not been updated since 2000. Since then, we have seen mounting evidence that our elections are potentially exposed to interference.

In February, the Electoral Reform Society published a report – Reigning in the Political ‘Wild West’: Why We Need Campaign Rules for the 21st Century – calling for a comprehensive update to Britain’s ‘wild west’ party funding and campaigning rules.

Our election rules have not kept up with the shifting nature of political campaigning. That’s why we are working with FairVote and Stephen Kinnock MP to launch a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on electoral campaigning transparency to make that case for a comprehensive review of our outdated, loophole-ridden electoral laws.

There is a basic British principle that those funding our parties should be domiciled here – indeed it is in law but not enacted. Businesses donating to parties must generate revenue here, so it seems fair that individuals wishing to funnel in funds from abroad should be able to prove a consistent connection to the UK.

READ MORE: Jess Garland: Here’s why UK election rules are a cheaters’ charter

We need clear, consistent principles for the funding of our parties in the modern age. Our Parliament and parties should not be available to the highest bidders around the world.

Voters will not accept a situation where tax exiles and shell companies are able to exert a disproportionate sway over our politics. The Government should listen to these concerns and launch a comprehensive review of Britain’s loophole-ridden campaign rules.

Darren Hughes is chief executive of the Electoral Reform Society

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Darren Hughes"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894152.1553262982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894152.1553262982!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "UK election laws are out-dated and full of loopholes (Picture: Jane Barlow)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "UK election laws are out-dated and full of loopholes (Picture: Jane Barlow)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894152.1553262982!/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/tory-mp-pleads-guilty-to-expense-fraud-charges-1-4894149","id":"1.4894149","articleHeadline": "Tory MP pleads guilty to expense fraud charges","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553261823000 ,"articleLead": "

Tory MP Christopher Davies has pleaded guilty to two expense fraud charges.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894148.1553261819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tory MP Christopher Davies arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London. Picture: Alfred Collyer/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Davies entered the guilty pleas when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

The first charge was providing false or misleading information for allowances claims contrary to section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.

He admitted that in March 2016 he made a claim under the MPs’ allowances scheme and provided an invoice that he knew to be “false or misleading”.

The second charge was attempting to provide false or misleading information for an allowance claim using an invoice “that he knew to be false or misleading” in April 2016.

Thomas Forster QC, defending, told the court Davies accepts his responsibility and expresses his “sincere and unreserved apology for what he has done”.

READ MORE: Ex-MP appears in court on fraud charges

Mr Forster said of the 51-year-old: “A disastrous accounting episode, as far as he is concerned.

“He recognises he is the author of his own misfortune, all of this has to be laid at his door and blames no-one else but himself.”

The court heard Davies had already informed Commons Speaker John Bercow of his intention to plead guilty.

Mr Forster said his client, who was seated in the dock wearing a grey suit and pink shirt, is a “family man” with two children who is local to his constituency.

“It took courage to plead guilty and face the music,” Mr Forster added. “He has not shied away from that responsibility and he should be given credit.”

Davies was charged in February this year.

He served as a councillor in Powys before he was elected as MP for Brecon and Radnorshire at the 2015 general election, beating incumbent Liberal Democrat Roger Williams with the seat’s largest majority since 1983.

In January 2018, he was appointed Private Secretary to the Wales Office.

Before entering politics he worked as a rural auctioneer, an estate agent and also managed a mixed veterinary practice in Hay-on-Wye.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894148.1553261819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894148.1553261819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tory MP Christopher Davies arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London. Picture: Alfred Collyer/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tory MP Christopher Davies arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court, in London. Picture: Alfred Collyer/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894148.1553261819!/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/brexit-only-two-weeks-to-avoid-an-accidental-no-deal-paris-gourtsoyannis-1-4893600","id":"1.4893600","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Only two weeks to avoid an accidental no-deal – Paris Gourtsoyannis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553253782000 ,"articleLead": "

The UK’s Brexit fate is now in the hands of Remain-supporting Cabinet ministers and the other European Union member states if it is to avoid no deal, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893599.1553240807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Home Secretary Amber Rudd is one of the few people left who could stop a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

You wouldn’t normally base your political expectations on a chat in the pub. But when the guy propping up the bar is Theresa May’s top Europe advisor, Olly Robbins – the architect of her strategy in Brussels and the ERG’s favourite hate figure – you should safely be able to draw your Brexit roadmap from it.

When ITV reported a second-hand overheard conversation in a Brussels bar where Robbins described how MPs would end up being presented with the option of May’s Brexit deal or a long delay, it seemed to offer a key that would unlock the whole process of leaving the EU.

After MPs voted against no-deal last week and for an extension to Article 50, events appeared to be following Robbins’ script perfectly. The Government had hoped to bring the deal back for a third vote this week, with the threat of ­staying in the EU for anywhere between nine and 21 months looming over Brexiteers, forcing them to fall into line. Personally, I admit to breathing a sigh of relief at the end of last week’s chaos, thinking that a plan was coming together.

But nothing has been more corrosive over the past three years than the illusion of government ­control, and some forces are beyond even Robbins’ reckoning. The fact that his plan was so dramatically derailed this week means that a no-deal Brexit – always the legal default – could now happen by ­accident, unless there is an even ­bigger twist in the week ahead.

Rather than taking back control, the events of the past week put May’s fate in the hands of either the EU, or pro-EU Tories who could oust her to defeat her Brexit vision.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit would place food banks in ‘dangerous position’, warns Ian Blackford

No one in Government predicted John Bercow’s intervention ­ruling out a third vote on the Brexit deal unless there was a significant change in content or circumstances. That in itself is worrying – the convention that motions can’t be voted on twice in the parliamentary session isn’t an obscure one. No one needs more evidence that Downing Street is floundering, but there it is.

His critics say Bercow’s intervention was an attempt to block Brexit and allow the second EU referendum he really wants, or at least rule out a no-deal scenario. By ruling out a vote before yesterday’s EU Council summit, the ­Commons Speaker certainly denied the ­Government its best chance of ­getting the deal through.

Bercow’s statement forced the EU Commission’s chief Brexit ­negotiator Michel Barnier to come out the following day and say a long extension needed a “clear purpose”. It also gave time for ­Brexiteers in the Cabinet to ambush May and force her to take a request for a long extension off the table.

The spectre aimed at scaring Brexiteers was vanquished, ­leaving opposition MPs as the only pool of votes to pass the deal. May’s extraordinary statement in Downing Street, shifting the blame onto parliament, burnt that bridge, too.

With various extension plans being discussed during intense talks in Brussels last night, EU leaders appear to have come to the conclusion that May, and her deal, are finished.

If she isn’t in control, to avoid a no-deal Brexit the UK is now in the hands of two groups: Remainers in the Cabinet, and the 27 governments of the EU.

A group of pro-EU Cabinet ­ministers have insisted they would do whatever it takes to stop no-deal. They may now have the time to show they mean it.

Both Barnier and French president Emmanuel Macron have said there is a way back, if the UK is ready for “deep political change”.

This could be a general election or a second EU referendum, but what the EU really wants to hear is that the red lines that have made a deal so difficult (or likely impossible) are going to be jettisoned, either by May, or her successor.

The Remain group in Cabinet includes Scottish Secretary David Mundell, who joined Amber Rudd, Greg Clarke and David Gauke in breaking a three-line whip to abstain on a motion to extend Article 50 last week. With so little time left, resignation isn’t enough. They would have to become the ‘men and women in grey suits’, insisting the Prime Minister abandons her red lines, or ushering her out of ­Downing Street.

The likes of David Lidington would need to lead a government of national unity in all but name, getting a Brexit deal through with Labour and SNP votes that keeps the UK in the single market and customs union. It would likely mean the end of the Conservative Party as we know it; at the very least, it would leave it to the next Tory leader to put its surviving pieces back together.

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn won’t rule out stopping Brexit as PM arrives in Brussels

Even in Brexit Britain, a week can’t possibly hold that much drama, but a longer extension offers the opportunity.

Still, EU leaders can’t give the UK something it isn’t prepared to ask for itself. Conservative MPs lost the chance to push May from office when they failed to do the job before Christmas.

The UK’s venerable ­parliamentary democracy has shown itself not to be nimble enough for the last-minute pivot needed, and even if it could, its leaders command too little confidence to bring the public along with them.

In EU capitals, an election or a new EU referendum looks like a leap into more uncertainty, which the ­continent scarcely needs. Leaders and officials gathered in Brussels spoke openly about the “crisis” in the UK, and don’t want their fragile politics infected by the febrile mood around Westminster.

A no deal Brexit could still happen by accident. The only thing that’s certain is that Bercow and the EU have called time on Robbins’ pub blueprint.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893599.1553240807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893599.1553240807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Home Secretary Amber Rudd is one of the few people left who could stop a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Home Secretary Amber Rudd is one of the few people left who could stop a no-deal Brexit (Picture: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893599.1553240807!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5838151705001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-the-uk-is-in-real-danger-so-sign-the-petition-leader-comment-1-4893780","id":"1.4893780","articleHeadline": "Brexit: The UK is in real danger so sign the petition! – leader comment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553253611000 ,"articleLead": "

A Remain petition with well over a million signatures may not stop Brexit but it could help prevent a no-deal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893779.1553200329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May arrives in Brussels on the first day of an EU summit focused on Brexit (Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

It’s not often that the ‘bosses’ of the CBI and ‘workers’ of the TUC are truly united. But, on the threat of a no-deal Brexit, they are.

In a joint letter to Theresa May, the heads of the two organisations, Carolyn Fairbairn and Frances O’Grady, pleaded with the Prime Minister to prevent a no-deal.

“Our country is facing a national emergency. Decisions of recent days have caused the risk of no deal to soar. Firms and communities across the UK are not ready for this outcome. The shock to our economy would be felt by generations to come,” they wrote. “We cannot overstate the gravity of this crisis for firms and working people.”

Hardline Brexiteers seem to believe they are close to achieving their aim of a no-deal. “Just over a week to go. Hold firm. The goal is within sight,” tweeted ex-UKIP MP Douglas Carswell.

READ MORE: Brexit: One million sign petition demanding the UK remains in EU

The economic impact of a no-deal would be severe – with suggestions it could be as bad as the 2008 financial crisis – but the effect on society as a whole could be worse.

Many people voted for Brexit because, after years of austerity, they were unhappy with the status quo and were convinced by the idea that EU immigration was the problem. If the UK economy crashed after Brexit, their hopes of a better future would be dashed. A dangerous backlash could well be the result.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to reveal independence referendum plan after Brexit talks

Already there are signs that some are prepared to resort to violence. Anna Soubry, the Remain-supporting MP who left the Conservatives for the Independent Group, said she was “not able to go home this weekend” because of police warnings about “very, very serious death threats”. The Commons’ Speaker, John Bercow, felt the need to reassure MP they were not “traitors”.

Today, a petition to “Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU” had more than 1.25 million signatures and the number was increasing rapidly – when the website was able to cope.

Brexiteer Cabinet Minister Andrea Leadsom said: “Should it reach more than 17.4 million respondents then I’m sure there would be a very clear case for taking action.”

It was meant to be a dismissive remark. But these are extraordinary times and it might just take something equally extraordinary – a political ‘Dunkirk’ as individuals rise up in their country’s hour of need – to force our Government to see sense.

The petition might not stop Brexit but it could increase the pressure sufficiently to prevent a catastrophic no-deal.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893779.1553200329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893779.1553200329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May arrives in Brussels on the first day of an EU summit focused on Brexit (Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May arrives in Brussels on the first day of an EU summit focused on Brexit (Picture: Aris Oikonomou/AFP/Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893779.1553200329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016530310001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-stark-warning-as-scotland-faces-labour-shortage-after-leaving-eu-1-4893867","id":"1.4893867","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Stark warning as Scotland faces labour shortage after leaving EU","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553250486000 ,"articleLead": "

A shortage of skilled workers across Scotland could worsen after Brexit, it has been suggested.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893866.1553250483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ben MacPherson MSP. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government has submitted evidence to Westminster’s migration advisory committee (MAC) to highlight the country’s recruitment needs ahead of the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Scotland’s migration minister Ben Macpherson said the submission illustrated the challenges in retaining and recruiting staff.

The UK’s Immigration White Paper has been a point of contention since its publication in December, with opponents criticising the decision to impose a minimum salary threshold of £30,000.

In Scotland, the average wage is significantly lower – estimated to be around £18,000 – raising concerns that it could cause a decrease in the flow of workers from EU and EEA countries.

Mr Macpherson said a ‘Shortage Occupation List’ for Scotland, compiled by the UK Government on the advice of the MAC and which details jobs currently lacking sufficiently trained professionals in the labour market, should also be adjusted to better fit the country’s needs. This includes a more specific role for the Scottish Government in determining the list.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893866.1553250483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893866.1553250483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ben MacPherson MSP. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ben MacPherson MSP. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893866.1553250483!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6006651007001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/grenfell-tower-tragedy-shows-need-for-health-and-safety-rules-lesley-mcleod-1-4893308","id":"1.4893308","articleHeadline": "Grenfell tower tragedy shows need for health and safety rules – Lesley McLeod","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553235197000 ,"articleLead": "

When someone says, ‘health and safety’ how do you complete the well-known phrase or saying? I bet, like me, you tag on, ‘gone mad’ at the end. That’s hardly surprising when we are all bombarded with stories of children’s conker matches being banned, trees being felled in case someone trips over their roots and everything – from nuts to washing-up liquid – carrying warnings about the brain-atrophying obvious. It smacks of treating sensible people like sheep.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893306.1553167175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Health and safety has become shorthand for interfering, supercilious political correctness, says Lesley McLeod ' but tragedies like the Grenfell tower block blaze highlight its importance. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Personally, I think health and ­safety gets a bad name – but then again, I would, as I represent, at the Association for Project Safety, a national organisation of risk management specialists.

Too often, in busy lives, health and safety is simply the quickest off-the-shelf solution to getting you out of something you just don’t want to do. A ready-made excuse to pull out of the bag when it’s too difficult to find a way around process, paperwork or any other problem that gets in the way.

I’m not saying there are not times when caution is the right approach. People are, for example, naturally – and rightly – careful when they are responsible for other people’s children. That means risk assessments and forms to fill in.

Maybe that all seems a bit cumbersome and over-the-top but, like ­liquids in tiny bottles and plastic bags at airports, the inconvenience is seen to be outweighed by the greater good.

There are risks everywhere we turn. And there’s the paradox. There’s a thing called optimism bias that makes us believe the bad things we know can happen are less likely to happen to us. I suppose it helps us get on planes [or jumping out of them, as my friend Laura Hardie is doing for the Sick Kids Charity] or taking-up extreme sports or eating oysters. It maybe prevents us being shackled by our fears.

However, for everyday life, we need something a bit more than luck. There needs to be a protocol for ­taking sensible precautions and ­proportionate measures.

When it comes to construction there’s a need to balance building more, faster and more cost effectively with making sure things are safe. The professionals I represent are experts in design and construction health and safety risk management.

They work, day in day out, to ensure risks are identified and ­managed and ­everyone is kept in the loop. They advise on asbestos or the need for scaffolding. They know about ­carrying heavy loads without breaking your back or driving dumper trucks on construction sites. They use old-fashioned common sense and state of the art technology to model all the things that can go wrong – and then set out to prevent it happening.

But still people don’t take a telling. The flow of construction workers ­falling off roofs or inhaling evil, life-limiting dust may have slowed down but, anyone who looks at prosecutions by the Health and Safety Executive [HSE] can tell you, the tap hasn’t been turned off. Corners are cut in ignorance or in the name of economy and it is very rare that the true cost of safety is properly factored in when too many firms are scrabbling for too few contracts.

But the consequences get you a Grenfell.

The snappily titled Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 were an attempt to square the magic circle of cutting costs, stripping out red tape and improving safety. The regulations should be like a good bra – improving and supporting in all the right places, firm but light-touch. But it’s fair to say they may not have been wholly successful and the shift from a checklist approach to ­getting practitioners to assess risk on a case-by-case basis has been ­challenging.

The promised five-year review is looming on the horizon so it is time to consider what has worked well and what could be improved. Alongside that we all need to recognise that the world in which the regulations operate is now a very different place. Brexit will make a big difference, not least as pressure will mount when fewer workers have to carry the load. Tragedies – like Grenfell; scandals – like problems with Scottish schools; and legal rulings – such as liability for mesothelioma have changed the game – and rightly so.

We need to get it right. Health and safety has become shorthand for interfering, supercilious political correctness. In the hands of the ­harassed and unsure it can descend into a kind of over-protective idiocy. But, done right – and put simply – health and safety saves lives.

Lesley McLeod, CEO, Association for Project Safety.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lesley McLeod"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893306.1553167175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893306.1553167175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Health and safety has become shorthand for interfering, supercilious political correctness, says Lesley McLeod ' but tragedies like the Grenfell tower block blaze highlight its importance. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Health and safety has become shorthand for interfering, supercilious political correctness, says Lesley McLeod ' but tragedies like the Grenfell tower block blaze highlight its importance. Picture: Leon Neal/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893306.1553167175!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893307.1553167181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893307.1553167181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lesley McLeod, CEO, Association for Project Safety","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lesley McLeod, CEO, Association for Project Safety","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893307.1553167181!/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/opinion/napier-university-teacher-training-builds-a-bigger-picture-andrew-gallacher-1-4893295","id":"1.4893295","articleHeadline": "Napier University teacher training builds a bigger picture – Andrew Gallacher","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553234504000 ,"articleLead": "

We hear a lot about teachers battling to cope with demanding workloads, cuts to funding and ­difficult working conditions.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893294.1553167062!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew Gallacher, Head of Teacher Education at Edinburgh Napier University"} ,"articleBody": "

However, the excitement generated by the announcement that ­Edinburgh Napier is to introduce courses for ­secondary teacher ­education is evidence of the longstanding and continuing appeal of a career in the classroom.

In the first year, we will be offering biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics as subject specialisms with a total of 50 places.

Within three years, we plan to grow to a maximum of 120 places – keeping subject groups small enough to develop interpersonal relationships between students and with tutors by offering computing, English and modern languages.

Cutting-edge technology will be at the heart of what we do, using the latest teaching tools to ensure the courses taught at our Sighthill ­campus will produce people who will be a true asset to nearby local authorities, which are presently short of suitably qualified specialist teachers. Is there a more inspiring place to learn to teach science than the research-intensive home of a university School of Applied Sciences?

I came to this post with wide ­experience of teacher education, particularly in mathematics and science, and, from the start, my ­colleagues and I were keen to provide a new and innovative postgraduate course which aligned with our core value of widening participation. We quickly set up teacher focus groups and ­visits to local authorities which would potentially host our students, and we were blown away by the ­participants’ passion for teaching, and intrigued by their input on what the courses should deliver.

One recurring theme was the need to develop skills and practical approaches to issues that are everyday parts of teaching, from setting up science apparatus to managing pupil behaviour, and we have ­developed networks and explored skill sets that colleagues and external organisations may be able to bring to our ­student teachers.

We have incorporated opportunities in key areas like dyslexia, inclusion, mental health and the usual suspects of literacy and numeracy, and we will also be focusing on the pupil voice and looking to get them involved in some parts of the ­student assessments. Why, when teaching is for the benefit of pupils, do we not really pay attention to what they made of the lesson and value their opinion?

Another innovation will be the use of a video portfolio to digitally ­capture the student teacher, whether in university or in secondary school. With the use of an iPad and a small tracking sensor, it will be possible to record and analyse teaching to a level not currently possible in ­other courses.

Student teachers will be able to practise body language, verbal ­communication and view their practical skills before receiving feedback from fellow students and tutors.

Many common errors can be identified and resolved before entering a real classroom with judgemental pupils. After developing ethical ­protocols with the schools, it is hoped that the video capture can also take place in a selection of classes.

As the teaching experience develops, students will be able to store and edit their best moments to document their increasing confidence and ­professional development in all areas of the professional standards required by the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

It is also envisaged that this video material could be shared with mentors in the NQT or probation year to help set out career development plans and agree priorities in ­areas of strength and for development.

Another innovation will be the use of Lego Mindstorms to provide ­problem-based learning scenarios for students to practise the use of this technical material and model group challenges for use in a school-based project of interdisciplinary learning.

Having a chance to practise with colleagues is imperative to fully understand what the interdisciplinary project is trying to achieve and how to react and provide guidance if things don’t go to plan.

Course projects will be developed with a view to sharing with the wider teaching community, and we have been approached by the Royal Society of Edinburgh education committee to collaborate and explore how this may be ­managed. Expectations are high but we would like to hear in five years’ time that we have been successful, and that our qualified students are both sought after and highly prized by employers.

The Professional Diploma in Education at Edinburgh Napier University launches in August.

Andrew Gallacher, head of teacher education at Edinburgh Napier University.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Andrew Gallacher"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893294.1553167062!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893294.1553167062!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andrew Gallacher, Head of Teacher Education at Edinburgh Napier University","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew Gallacher, Head of Teacher Education at Edinburgh Napier University","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893294.1553167062!/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/child-poverty-in-scotland-risks-hitting-20-year-high-1-4893871","id":"1.4893871","articleHeadline": "Child poverty in Scotland ‘risks hitting 20-year high’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553234458000 ,"articleLead": "

Child poverty is increasing and will hit a 20-year high, pushing an extra 60,000 children into poverty, the Scottish Government has been warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893870.1553250320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Government has been criticised for not doing enough to counter UK policies. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Rising levels of child poverty over the next five years will mean the Scottish Government will miss its target by 100,000 children, according to research by the Resolution Foundation.

The latest figures show that relative child poverty has been increasing since 2011-12, with 23 per cent of children living in poverty in Scotland in 2016-17.

Projections from the think tank expect a rise to continue over the next five years, reaching 29 per cent by 2023-24.

This increase would see almost 300,000 children – an additional 60,000 youngsters – living in relative poverty, which is families on less than 60 per cent of median household incomes.

The Scottish Government’s own child poverty act sets a target of reducing relative child poverty to below 18 per cent by 2023-24, and to below 10 per cent by 2030-31, alongside targets to reduce absolute poverty, persistent poverty and material deprivation.

If child poverty rates do increase to the levels forecast by the Resolution Foundation, the Scottish Government would miss its target by more than 100,000 children.

While UK-wide benefit policies are blamed for driving up poverty in Scotland and the rest of the UK, the Scottish Government “has not announced plans remotely large enough to counteract that rise”, the Foundation claims.

It says that while it will require radical policy changes from the Scottish Government to reverse the rise in child poverty, ministers are not powerless to act in order to make progress on its child poverty targets.

However, they note that a new “Income Supplement” – due to be introduced by 2022 – could help reduce, or limit, rises in child poverty if it is sufficiently ambitious.

Adam Corlett, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Child poverty across Scotland is on course to rise substantially in the coming years, and risks reaching a 20-year high by 2023.

“This would mean a further 60,000 children across Scotland falling below the poverty line, and the Scottish Government missing its target to reduce child poverty by over 100,000 children.

“This worrying rise in poverty is almost entirely driven by UK-wide decisions, such as the £12 billion worth of working-age benefits cuts. But that doesn’t mean policy makers in Scotland are powerless to respond.

“If the Scottish Government is to meet its ambitious – and welcome – child poverty reduction targets, it will need to implement much more radical changes to social security than it has done to date.”

A household is in relative poverty if its income is below 60 per cent of the middle household income in the UK, which is classed as the poverty threshold.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893870.1553250320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893870.1553250320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Government has been criticised for not doing enough to counter UK policies. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Government has been criticised for not doing enough to counter UK policies. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893870.1553250320!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6005777608001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/man-shed-no-longer-solitary-refuge-but-somewhere-to-meet-the-boys-1-4893855","id":"1.4893855","articleHeadline": "Man shed no longer solitary refuge but somewhere to meet the boys","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553234431000 ,"articleLead": "

Usually sited at the bottom of the garden, they are a place of male retreat; out of bounds for wives and children, a wooden den where tools are cleaned, ale is brewed and newspapers read, all to the soundtrack of a crackly football commentary on an old transistor radio.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893854.1553205736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The traditional man shed has often been seen as a place of refuge."} ,"articleBody": "

The man shed has long been considered the last refuge of the hen-pecked husband in British sitcoms, but now it seems that sheds are good for men’s mental health.

And as MSPs discovered yesterday, no longer are they solitary affairs - in fact 21st century men’s sheds in Scotland are about tackling isolation, bringing older, retired men together, helping them create a network of friends and giving them a place where they can put their skills to use.

A Holyrood debate, brought by SNP MSP Christine Holyrood, expounded the virtues of the Men’s Shed Movement and the “shedders” who report living healthier, happier and more connected lives.

Ms Grahame said: “It may seem like it’s a new phenomenon because of the apparent explosion in men’s sheds, but the first in Scotland was in Aberdeenshire in 2013. There are now 106 open sheds, 58 in development with 1612 members.”

Recalling her own father’s shed, she said: “My late father with five children, corralled in a small council house took refuge in a small green shed at the bottom of the garden. “The men’s sheds has much in common with that shed - they are a sanctuary, a place to make things, to sit and share concerns. It’s all good for body and soul.”

MSPs also paid tribute to the Scottish Men’s Sheds Association which helps communities to start sheds. The Association says the sheds “respond to a need for camaraderie and give opportunities to work together in a way that contributes meaning to their lives.”

Scottish Labour’s Iain Gray said sheds have a serious intent: “Loneliness is one of the biggest problems which men in particular face - it’s considered by health authorities to be the equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day in terms of the damage it does to your health.

“This toxic damage is what men’s sheds tackle.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893854.1553205736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893854.1553205736!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The traditional man shed has often been seen as a place of refuge.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The traditional man shed has often been seen as a place of refuge.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893854.1553205736!/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/looking-for-an-easy-route-to-a-beach-ready-body-i-ve-tried-a-few-jim-duffy-1-4893784","id":"1.4893784","articleHeadline": "Looking for an easy route to a beach-ready body? I’ve tried a few – Jim Duffy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553234400000 ,"articleLead": "

Gadgets that promise to help lose weight and tone muscles have a certain appeal for Jim Duffy, but he’s had limited success.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893783.1553197873!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A big stone was an early fitness 'gadget' that may actually be more effective than some modern ones. Just make sure you don't drop it (Picture: Cate Gillon)"} ,"articleBody": "

As humans with human weaknesses, we just love the thought of a shortcut. From get-rich-quick schemes to get-fit quick-gizmos, our mindsets are geared to the route of least resistance. Why spend hours and hours sweating in a gymnasium when one wonderful piece of apparatus can get us into shape with the minimum of fuss and effort? Why run for miles and miles, day after day, in the wind and rain, when one fantastic new invention takes all that pain away.

After all, if the toned and tanned, slender woman on the TV advert says it has worked for her, or the ripped and tanned, chiselled guy states this is a game-changer, then we’re sold – right? And our fascination with toning up and trying hard not to graft for it has meant we easily buy into the next fitness fad.

Go on, admit it, how many of you bought or own a Thighmaster or a sauna suit? Yes, it seems that the last 30 years have spawned some of the best and worst-ever fitness fads that we were more than happy to pay for.

Those gadgets, chairs, platforms, mats, rollers and other fitness “must haves” were all the rage at the time, but alas never really gave us that body that was our dream in the advertorial. Which one did you buy?

One of the best-ever fitness fads was the Thighmaster. This wonderfully simple piece of kit was trumpeted to shape your inner thighs literally as you watched Coronation Street. I recall one of my chums bought one – you will notice I am not owning up to purchasing one of these – and he was raving about it.

The Thighmaster would be his saviour and shape his legs to look slimmer, toned and, of course, beach ready. He did use his Thighmaster for a few weeks, but during that time he put on weight around his midrift. Related? Who knows?

READ MORE: Can’t sleep? Then I’ve got a controversial suggestion – Jim Duffy

I’m afraid the Thighmaster was then banished to the foot of his wardrobe – forevermore. I don’t think it ever saw the light of day again. However, I’m delighted to tell you that you can still buy a Thighmaster for about 20 quid online – wait for it – with a 100 per cent money back satisfaction guarantee. But, if don’t want a new one, I can arrange for my mate to send you his for a fiver.

Recently, and by that I mean in the last decade, the vibration plate has arrived. This one I bought into and tried for a few weeks.

For those of you who didn’t, the vibration plate was essentially a small platform with handles that you could stand on and it vibrated. That’s it I’m afraid.

The science behind the vibration plate seems pretty solid. For example, you can do one minute of squats on the floor and burn some calories. But, if you do the same routine on a vibration plate it stresses your muscles more, making them work harder, so you burn more calories.

The problem is, having shelled out on one of these contraceptions, there is a limited amount you can actually do and while the science may be accurate, it’s boring as hell. And that is all I can say about this knee-trembling experience. Suffice to say, they sit in some gyms as ornaments and one day will sit in museums as such.

READ MORE: Why Donald Trump is my greatest inspiration – Jim Duffy

But why even bother with equipment that you have to do something with. Why not do nothing, yes zilch, while you shape and tone your body. How amazing does this sound? Enter the vibration belt.

Not only was this gizmo marketed as a stomach shredder, it even worked while you slept. Well sort of... Online fitness stores and local wellness centres usually consisting of a hairdressers with a massage room attached, were only too happy to plug this awesome fitness gadget. All that was required is that you have a high tolerance for electricity.

The vibrating belt sent an electrical current into your abdomen, which in turn caused your tummy muscles to contract and tighten. The theory being that your six pack was there and just needed some stimulation to bring it to the fore.

And yes, I admit to paying for this one at the local salon. I was sucked into the idea that my tummy would be rock hard after six weeks of sessions. Unfortunately, the only thing that was rock hard was the grating of my teeth as the electrical current fired into my tummy. I paid for six weeks, but gave up after three. It was worse than root canal treatment at the dentist.

But by far the best and, I have to admit, funniest fitness fad was the brightly coloured sauna suit. Sauna suits, as you would guess, resembled bins bags stitched together. The science was simple. Wear one of these contraptions, do some exercise and you would sweat the weight off.

People bought these beauties and wore them walking, jogging and in the gym. The only problem was people had a tendency to overheat. And all the water weight they lost was put back on as they rehydrated. Just ask a boxer who has skipped for an hour to make the weigh-in weight. It is safe to say that sauna suits didn’t last the test of time. But there are some pretty funny images online.

As we move into a new tech era, I’m guessing that some clever marketing entrepreneur will have us exercising via augmented reality soon. Simply by donning some goggles and being in the “gym” we will somehow get fitter.

You may scoff, but there are many of us out there who bought into crazy fitness fads, who will indeed buy despite the simple mantra of “no pain, no gain”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893783.1553197873!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893783.1553197873!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A big stone was an early fitness 'gadget' that may actually be more effective than some modern ones. Just make sure you don't drop it (Picture: Cate Gillon)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A big stone was an early fitness 'gadget' that may actually be more effective than some modern ones. Just make sure you don't drop it (Picture: Cate Gillon)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893783.1553197873!/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/brexit-tories-have-brought-union-to-brink-of-collapse-joyce-mcmillan-1-4893788","id":"1.4893788","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Tories have brought Union to brink of collapse – Joyce McMillan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553234400000 ,"articleLead": "

For 45 years, the party that calls itself Conservative and Unionist has steadily weakened the Union, culminating in Theresa May’s delusional idea that, on Brexit, she understands the ‘mind’ of the British people, writes Joyce McMillan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893787.1553197990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Everything Theresa May said about the UK in her address to the nation was nonsense (Picture: Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

On Wednesday evening, Theresa May stood at a podium in 10 Downing Street and delivered a brief address on the state of the Brexit crisis; and in terms of what she said about the process itself, the speech was broadly accurate.

In terms of what Mrs May said about the country she nominally leads, though, every word she uttered was self-deluding nonsense. She sought to present herself as the friend of the people, the leader who is “on their side” in “getting Brexit over and done with”, while MPs – in her view – fail to deliver what voters demanded in 2016. She talked, consistently, as if the British people were of one mind; when the whole reason for the difficulty of the Brexit process is that the people were and remain profoundly divided on the issue.

She also talked as if she had some special insight into that one mind, and understood better than parliamentarians how people “feel” about the protracted Brexit process. Yet at not a single moment in the last two years has she uttered a word that seemed to empathise with any Remain voter, far less with any voter who abhors her petty and xenophobic immigration policies, and increasingly feels that he or she would rather be a citizen of a modern united Ireland, or an independent Scotland free to determine its own future as a European nation.

READ MORE: Brexit: Theresa May must resign if her deal is defeated again – leader comment

And in that sense, this UK premier represents the culmination of the process by which, over the last 45 years, the party that calls itself Conservative and Unionist has become the wrecking-ball that steadily weakens the Union it claims to love; and has now brought it to the brink of implosion. The first sign of that historic shift came, of course, with Margaret Thatcher’s election as leader in 1975, and the party’s wholesale adoption, of a form of neoliberal economics that large parts of the UK rejected from the outset. Thanks to blizzards of inadequate or downright mendacious news coverage over the years, millions of Britons may now have forgotten that it was not the EU but their own Government that chose to close down the mines, decimate Britain’s heavy industries, and devastate communities across Scotland, Wales and the north. They may not know that the fierce austerity of the last decade was not a necessity, but a brutal ideological choice.

Yet it’s absolutely clear that just as it was those actions of the British Government that created the wave of popular anger in some working-class areas that helped to push the Leave campaign to victory, so it is those actions of successive Conservative-led British Governments that have weakened the bonds of loyalty to the idea of a modern, compassionate and progressive Britain so powerfully fostered, during the years of the postwar welfare state.

READ MORE: Brexit: Second EU referendum ‘not what people want’, says Theresa May

Then secondly, the Conservatives have failed to achieve any collective understanding of how the world, and the idea of national sovereignty, has changed in the last half-century. To hear any right-wing Conservative politician talk about nationhood is still to hear the language of the 19th century, untainted by any inkling that the world is not as it was in 1900; and tragically for Britain, the current leader of the Opposition, from his very different political perspective, shares exactly the same backward-looking constitutional myopia.

And the flip side of this ignorance and indifference about the EU, of course, is an absolute failure to understand any aspect of the UK devolution settlement introduced in the first heady days of the Blair government, in 1997-99. In the case of Scotland, these attitudes are deeply insulting to a nation that worked hard for decades, using entirely peaceful and constitutional means, to achieve a measure of self-government that would fit with the emerging pattern of strong regional government across the EU.

In the case of Northern Ireland, though, those same attitudes are potentially tragic in their consequences. Heaven knows what the Government thought the EU would say when they announced Brexit red lines that would have meant the destruction of the open relationship on the island of Ireland on which the hard-won Good Friday Agreement depends; but the suspicion must be that as on most matters not of direct personal concern to London’s political, financial and media elites, they barely thought about it at all.

And then, in a final swing of the wrecking ball, there came their handling of Brexit itself; not only the strange decision to interpret the vote on lines designed to please the Tories’ anti-EU hardliners, rather than to unify the four nations and serve the wider national interest, but the coup-de-grace that came when, having squandered her Commons majority in an unnecessary general election, Theresa May then decided to put the entire fate of the process in the hands of the Northern Irish DUP, a bunch of notorious right-wing reactionaries not remotely representative of opinion in the province, whose presence close to British Government represented a final crass insult to forward-looking opinion in every part of Ireland.

If ever a party deserved to preside over the disintegration of the country they claim to love, in other words, it is the current parliamentary Tory Party, and its third-rate leadership. The truth is that for all their waving of the Union flag, they understand nothing of this Union; its history, its subtleties, and the checks and balances necessary to maintain it, in this post-imperial phase of its history. And if the Union survives the current crisis at all, it will not be because of the contemporary Tory Party, and its trunpeting of a patriotism it barely comprehends. It will be because of the solid, patient work of earlier and better British Governments, in replacing the long age of empire with a welfare state that was once a source of pride, rather than an arena of ideological warfare; and creating a national community capable of nurturing and supporting those personal and commercial ties that still hold the Union together, so far as a narrow majority of Scots are concerned – but which, given the disastrous quality of Government now on display at Westminster, may not be able to sustain it for very much longer.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893787.1553197990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893787.1553197990!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Everything Theresa May said about the UK in her address to the nation was nonsense (Picture: Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Everything Theresa May said about the UK in her address to the nation was nonsense (Picture: Jonathan Brady/WPA Pool/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893787.1553197990!/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/smacking-ban-was-lightbulb-moment-in-ireland-former-senator-tells-msps-1-4893851","id":"1.4893851","articleHeadline": "Smacking ban was ‘lightbulb moment’ in Ireland, former senator tells MSPs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553205373000 ,"articleLead": "

The introduction of a ban on smacking children in Ireland was a “lightbulb moment”, a politician behind the move has told MSPs as Scotland considers adopting similar legislation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893850.1553205369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Critics say a ban on smacking would be an invasion of family life. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

Jillian van Turnhout, a former Irish senator, had campaigned to remove the defence of reasonable chastisement in Irish law – which had remained in place following the repeal in 2000 of a law which allowed force to be used against children.

The campaign was a success, leading to the ban being brought in in December 2015.

MSPs in Scotland are currently considering taking similar action which would remove the defence of “justifiable assault” in Scots law.

“When we changed the law in Ireland, we realised that it was the law catching up with how parents were parenting their children today,” said Ms van Turnhout, speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s equalties and human rights committee yesterday.

“The day I walked into the chamber [in Ireland’s national parliament], I didn’t know if I had a single colleague with me in the change of law.

“But I went in knowing that even if I was the only person who said ‘it is not OK to hit a child’, children in Ireland would know that somebody believed it is not ok for them to be hit.

“Much to my surprise, every single member of the Irish Parliament chose to support the law by not calling for a vote at any stage on it. For me, it was really a collectively powerful moment.”

Ms van Turnhout said the process was not easy, with some members of parliament, as well as some civil society organisations and members of the public, telling her the “time was not right” for a change in the law. She added: “What was fascinating for me, it was really a lightbulb moment – the second we changed our law, the same colleagues looked me in the face without any irony and said: ‘Why didn’t we do this years ago? This makes so much sense’.”

Dr Lucy Reynolds, a consultant paediatrician speaking in support of a ban, said that violence against children had the potential to cause harm in the long-term.

She said: “If you hit children, you are teaching them to expect either to dominate or to be dominated through physical violence and I don’t want our children to be taught that.”

Critics of the proposals say a ban on smacking would be an invasion of family life and could lead to an increase in the number of parents being prosecuted.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893850.1553205369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893850.1553205369!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Critics say a ban on smacking would be an invasion of family life. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Critics say a ban on smacking would be an invasion of family life. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893850.1553205369!/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/alesha-macphail-killer-was-quite-satisfied-with-murder-of-6-year-old-1-4893807","id":"1.4893807","articleHeadline": "Alesha MacPhail killer was ‘quite satisfied’ with murder of 6-year-old","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553200326000 ,"articleLead": "

The boy who abducted, raped and murdered six-year-old Alesha MacPhail on the Isle of Bute last summer told psychologists he was “quite satisfied” with his crime.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4877024.1553202795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alesha MacPhail (6)."} ,"articleBody": "

Aaron Campbell, 16, was today sentenced to at least 27 years in jail for his actions, which shocked the island community and Scotland.

Despite repeatedly denying any involvement in the crime during his trial, the teenager later told a psychologist that he had snatched the six-year-old from her bedroom on 2 July last year.

READ MORE: Alesha MacPhail: Teenager jailed for at least 27 years for rape and murder of 6-year-old

READ MORE: Identity of Alesha MacPhail killer revealed as Aaron Campbell

In his report, the psychologist said Campbell had described the moment he saw Alesha as a “moment of opportunity”, adding: “All I thought about was killing her.”

At his trial the teenager lodged a special defence accusing the partner of Alesha’s father of carrying out the crime, but the jury found him guilty last month in a unanimous verdict.

During the nine-day trial, the High Court in Glasgow heard that the schoolgirl had suffered 117 injuries and died from significant pressure applied to her face and neck.

At his sentencing hearing, Judge Lord Matthews said social work and psychologist reports “had painted a clear picture of a cold, callous, calculating, remorseless and dangerous individual”.

Describing what happened on the night of the murder, he said Campbell had been at a party drinking and later entered the house where Alesha was staying with her father and grandparents.

He was hoping to find some cannabis, having previously bought the drug from the six-year-old’s father Robert MacPhail, but instead found her asleep in her bedroom.

Lord Matthews also referred to a report prepared by forensic clinical psychologist Dr Gary Macpherson, who interviewed Campbell about his crimes after his trial.

He said: “When you saw Alesha your reaction, according to you, was as follows: ‘A moment of opportunity...At any other time in life, murder wouldn’t have been the conclusion.

“‘If I was a year younger I don’t think I would have done it…All I thought about was killing her once I saw her’.

“You said that Alesha was drowsy and became a bit more awake when you went out. At one point she asked who you were and where you were going. You said you were a friend of her father and that you were taking her home.”

The judge said he had taken her to a secluded spot where he “violated and murdered her in the most brutal fashion”, later saying he was “quite satisfied by the murder”.

Campbell also told Dr Macpherson that at points during his trial, where the severity of the crimes were extensively detailed, it took “everything to stop laughing”.

Sentencing him to life in prison with a term of 27 years before he can apply for parole, Lord Matthews said the boy’s reintegration into society might prove to be “impossible”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4877024.1553202795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4877024.1553202795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alesha MacPhail (6).","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alesha MacPhail (6).","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4877024.1553202795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893805.1553202799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893805.1553202799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Georgina Lochrane leaves court. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Georgina Lochrane leaves court. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893805.1553202799!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6005247995001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/holyrood-declares-zero-tolerance-approach-to-sexual-harassment-1-4893653","id":"1.4893653","articleHeadline": "Holyrood declares ‘zero tolerance’ approach to sexual harassment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1553190137000 ,"articleLead": "

Holyrood staff have been warned they face a \"zero tolerance\" crackdown on instances of sexual harassment under new rules published today.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893652.1553187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Parliament has unveiled a "zero tolerance" approach to harassment"} ,"articleBody": "

Any looks, comments or jokes which overstep the mark will be met with a \"prompt\" disciplinary action, after a survey last year found many female staff encountered problems.
Scottish Parliament bosses have published their new policy to deal with Sexual Harassment and Sexist Behaviour alongside an independent support service.

READ MORE: Holyrood ‘should have central sexual harassment policy’

A list of definitions and examples were circulated to staff and MSPs of the kind of conduct which could land them in trouble.
This includes asking women about the impact of childcare - but not men - as this makes assumptions based on gender. Criticising men for showing emotion is also out, along with using different language to describe attributes based on gender such as saying a man is decisive but a woman is aggressive.

“We have committed to a zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and sexist behaviour in the Parliament,\" the policy states.


\"Every person has the right to work in an environment that promotes respect, fairness, equality, and dignity and enables them to make their best contribution.


\"Sexist behaviour and sexual harassment do not belong in the Parliament and we are committed to creating the shared understanding of appropriate behaviours, culture, and accountability mechanisms that will eradicate them.\"


The policy covers the Holyrood campus and MSPs' constituency and regional offices.


A confidential survey of Scottish Parliament staff last year found one in three women had experienced sexual harassment or sexist behaviour. And almost half (45%) said it came from MSPs.


Today's measures A confidential helpline with access to advice and support has launched with access to trained counsellors.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4893652.1553187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4893652.1553187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Parliament has unveiled a "zero tolerance" approach to harassment","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Parliament has unveiled a "zero tolerance" approach to harassment","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4893652.1553187229!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}