{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/scotland-hits-syrian-refugee-target-three-years-early-1-4641956","id":"1.4641956","articleHeadline": "Scotland hits Syrian refugee target three years early","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513588488000 ,"articleLead": "

Homes have been provided for 2,000 Syrian refugees in Scotland three years ahead of schedule.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641955.1513588493!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "ROTHESAY, ISLE OF BUTE, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 04: Syrian refugee families arrive at their new homes on the Isle of Bute on December 4, 2015 in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland. The Isle of Bute is welcoming 15 Syrian Refugee families as part of the governments plant to give refuge to 20,000 refugees in the UK by 2020. The Isle of Bute, on the Cowal peninsular, has a population of 6,498 which swells in the Summer months due to tourism. The island has been nicknamed the 'Madeira of Scotland' (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

The UK Government has committed to resettling 20,000 people fleeing the war-torn country through the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.

Councils north of the Border were to take in 10 per cent of that number. They have reached the goal just two years into the five-year scheme.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland is an open and welcoming country and today’s celebration, welcoming the 2,000th Syrian refugee to our country, is testament to that.

“In 2015, I made a commitment that we would take our fair share of Syrian refugees coming to the UK and the hard work and dedication of local authorities across Scotland has meant we have more than met that pledge.

“I am proud that Scotland has welcomed so many refugees fleeing persecution and war into our communities so they can rebuild their lives here.”

Statistics released earlier this month showed Scotland had accepted one in five of Syrians brought to the UK through the resettlement scheme.

Those helped by the initiative include children in urgent need of medical treatment and life-changing care, who are building new lives across Scotland.

A further commitment to provide refuge to 3,000 youngsters from north Africa has been made by the UK Government through the associated Vulnerable Children Relocation Scheme.

Those arriving through both programmes are granted refugee status and given leave to remain in the UK initially for five years.

At the end of that period, they are entitled to apply for 
indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

All 32 Scottish councils have committed to supporting resettlement efforts in whatever way they can.

UK Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis will join the First Minister in Edinburgh today to celebrate the milestone and discuss the future of the programme.

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities president Alison Evison said: “Scottish local government has responded to its moral duty to help and protect those whose lives have been torn apart by war.”

Mr Lewis added: “Scotland, along with the rest of the UK, should be proud of the way it has welcomed some of the most vulnerable refugees 
and provided them with safety.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641955.1513588493!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641955.1513588493!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "ROTHESAY, ISLE OF BUTE, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 04: Syrian refugee families arrive at their new homes on the Isle of Bute on December 4, 2015 in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland. The Isle of Bute is welcoming 15 Syrian Refugee families as part of the governments plant to give refuge to 20,000 refugees in the UK by 2020. The Isle of Bute, on the Cowal peninsular, has a population of 6,498 which swells in the Summer months due to tourism. The island has been nicknamed the 'Madeira of Scotland' (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "ROTHESAY, ISLE OF BUTE, SCOTLAND - DECEMBER 04: Syrian refugee families arrive at their new homes on the Isle of Bute on December 4, 2015 in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland. The Isle of Bute is welcoming 15 Syrian Refugee families as part of the governments plant to give refuge to 20,000 refugees in the UK by 2020. The Isle of Bute, on the Cowal peninsular, has a population of 6,498 which swells in the Summer months due to tourism. The island has been nicknamed the 'Madeira of Scotland' (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641955.1513588493!/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/scots-may-face-tax-hikes-and-longer-working-lives-1-4641796","id":"1.4641796","articleHeadline": "Scots may face tax hikes and longer working lives","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513576840000 ,"articleLead": "

Further tax rises will be needed as soon as 2019 to avoid having to “restart” deep public spending cuts in Scotland, a leading think tank has warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641795.1513545750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Jayne Wright"} ,"articleBody": "

Analysts at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) Scotland said additional rises would be necessary in the absence of a dramatic turnaround in economic performance north of the Border.

Their research found the day-to-day spending budget is expected to fall by £250 million between 2018/19 and 2019/20.

However, with commitments to increase NHS spending and protect police budgets, non-protected departments will see falls of £350m in 2019, which the IPPR Scotland says is a 2.7 per cent cut in one year.

The IPPR’s warning came after the Scottish Government proposed income tax rises in its draft Budget for 2018/19 that will prevent spending cuts for most departments.

But the think tank’s calculations show this will only be sufficient to end the cuts for one year. Further tax increases or stronger than forecast tax receipts will be needed to protect public services in Scotland beyond 2018, IPPR experts said.

Russell Gunson, director of IPPR Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government’s draft Budget has proposed income tax increases in Scotland from April next year.

“However, as welcome as the tax rises are, our analysis shows that they will only be sufficient to soften cuts for one year.

“Serious cuts to public spending remain just around the corner. Without further tax increases the year after next, or a stronger economy, deep public spending cuts in Scotland will restart in 2019.”

Mr Gunson added: “By outlining a one-year budget, with one year’s worth of tax plans, we are not yet clear as to what the Scottish Government’s tax and spending plans are beyond this year. However, with cuts that could reach £350m for non-protected departments over just one year, there will be further tough decisions that will need to be taken this time next year. Without stronger tax receipts, additional spending at the UK level or further tax rises these income tax changes will only be enough to soften the cuts for one year.”

The IPPR comments came on top of a warning from a leading economist who said Scots could face the prospect of longer working lives to offset the country’s flatlining economy and an ageing population.

The fall in the working population will start to bite over the next decade, with little sign of any improvement in the low growth experienced since the financial crash, according to Professor David Bell of Stirling University.

The newly-established Scottish Fiscal Commission, the independent economic watchdog set up by the Scottish Government, set out a gloomy picture for the economy in the years ahead. The body, headed by former Lloyds chief Susan Rice, forecast growth would lag behind the rest of the UK at less then 1 per cent in its inaugural report last week.

The population aged 16 to 64, which is most likely to be in work and driving the economy, will start to shrink from 2018 onwards, the SFC warned.

Prof Bell said the analysis amounted to a “dismal” outlook for Scotland.

“The issue that Susan Rice was talking about in terms of the gradual shrinkage of the working age population hasn’t really kicked in yet – it will kick in in a big way over the next ten years or so,” he said.

“And it will be important for the Scottish Government to be looking at policies to try to extend people’s working lives so that the number of people who continue to work beyond 65 is increased.”

Mr Mackay has insisted the growth package in the Budget will see spending on the economy increase by 64 per cent – an increase of £270m – in 2018/19. Spending on economic development last year was equivalent to £193 per head in Scotland compared to £88 per head in the UK as a whole, ministers said.

“We are absolutely committed to supporting business and growing Scotland’s economy particularly in the wake of Brexit uncertainty and UK government austerity – and our investment per head on economic development dwarfs that of the UK government,” Mr Mackay said.

“We are delivering a record £2.4 billion investment in enterprise and skills, a £4bn commitment to infrastructure and £600m to broadband, ensuring every home or business premise in Scotland has access to superfast broadband.

“This is a good budget for business, for investment and for taxpayers and will ready Scotland for the future.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641795.1513545750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641795.1513545750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Picture: Jayne Wright","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Picture: Jayne Wright","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641795.1513545750!/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/regions/glasgow-strathclyde/police-chief-quitting-to-avoid-crime-probe-1-4641801","id":"1.4641801","articleHeadline": "Police chief ‘quitting to avoid crime probe’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513576820000 ,"articleLead": "

A senior police officer at the centre of a crime and misconduct inquiry is reportedly set to quit this week with a six-figure sum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4268277.1513503864!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

According to a national newspaper, Superintendent Kirk Kinnell, 50, the head of Scotland’s armed police, is to avoid an investigation when he retires after 30 years’ service with a pay-off of up to £230,000 and a £38,000 annual pension.

However, he still faces allegations of criminal conduct which may be assessed by his former colleagues.

It has also been reported that the outcome of that inquiry will not affect the officer’s service history or his lump sum and full pension.

Tory shadow justice secretary Liam Kerr has criticised the development, saying it “simply beggars belief”.

The reports come as the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) carries out an investigation into a claim that the force’s firing range was used for unauthorised purposes.

Mr Kerr said: “There will be serious questions for the force and the Scottish Government to answer if this PIRC investigation is not concluded.

“This isn’t something that can be brushed under the carpet. It’s vital the authorities get to the bottom of this in a fully transparent manner.

“The public have a right to know what happened and what action will be taken.”

It emerged last week that Police Scotland had commissioned an inspection of its 
firearms ranges amid claims that they have been used illegally.

Mr Kinnell and Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins were among officers suspended last month for allegedly using a firing range at Jackton, East Kilbride, for unauthorised purposes.

It has also been claimed that members of the Scottish Police Authority board were allowed to shoot weapons at the range, which should only be used in controlled circumstances by authorised officers.

In an update to the SPA, 
Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said an assurance inspection would be carried out by the College of Policing for England and Wales.

The report states: “Police Scotland will cooperate fully with the College of Policing to ensure the assurance inspection is undertaken in an efficient and timeous manner.”

The PIRC is also currently looking at a number of anonymous allegations of criminality against serving officers. The officers involved have denied any wrongdoing.

A PIRC spokesman said: “The investigation into allegations of criminality against officers is progressing. It would not be appropriate to comment further.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4268277.1513503864!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4268277.1513503864!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4268277.1513503864!/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/brexit-negotiator-pours-cold-water-on-bespoke-eu-trade-deal-1-4641792","id":"1.4641792","articleHeadline": "Brexit negotiator pours cold water on bespoke EU trade deal","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513576800000 ,"articleLead": "

The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator has dealt a blow to Theresa May’s hopes of a bespoke trade deal with Brussels.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641791.1513545659!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barnier is in charge of Brexit negotiations with the UK. Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister has said her plans for Brexit will not be “derailed” and will result in a “deep and special partnership” with the EU.

Mrs May has insisted the UK does not want a Norway-style relationship with the EU, which would involve remaining in the single market, and prefers closer ties than a Canadian-style trade deal would allow.

But Brussels’ chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the EU “won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes”.

In an interview with Prospect magazine, conducted before EU leaders agreed to move on to the second stage of Brexit talks covering trade and an implementation period, Mr Barnier said: “The most difficult part remains to be done. It is also probably the most interesting. But the British have to understand it cannot be business as usual.

“We are ready to start working with the government on the three axes it has indicated: exit from the union, exit from the single market, exit from the customs union. But the clock is ticking. The deadline of 29 March, 2019, is their own doing.”

He added: “They have to realise there won’t be any cherry picking. We won’t mix up the various scenarios to create a specific one and accommodate their wishes, mixing, for instance, the advantages of the Norwegian model, member of the single market, with the simple requirements of the Canadian one.

“No way. They have to face the consequences of their own decision.”

His comments emerged as Mrs May and senior ministers prepared to formally consider the future shape of the UK’s relationship with the EU in meetings today and tomorrow.

The Prime Minister claimed her government was “proving the doubters wrong” after EU leaders agreed on Friday to move on to phase two.

Mrs May said talks would now begin on an “implementation period” immediately after the formal date of Brexit – but Eurosceptic backbench Conservative MPs have already issued warnings that they will not accept arrangements which closely resemble continued EU membership during the transition to a new relationship.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson called for the Prime Minister to strike a deal with Brussels that would allow the UK to ditch EU laws, warning that being unable to diverge from the bloc’s regulations would leave the UK a “vassal state”.

Mrs May also hit out at anti-Brexit campaigners who “want to talk Britain down”.

She said: “Amid all the noise, we are getting on with the job.

“In the face of those who want to talk Britain down, we are securing the best and most ambitious Brexit deal for our whole United Kingdom.

“And my message today is very clear: we will not be derailed from this fundamental duty to deliver the democratic will of the British people.”

The Cabinet will thrash outs its stance on a post-Brexit trade deal over the coming days, with Mrs May under pressure from Brussels to provide clarity on the UK’s desired “end state” for the relationship it wants with the EU.

The Brexit “war cabinet” – a subcommittee of senior ministers chaired by Mrs May – will meet today, with a meeting of the full Cabinet scheduled for tomorrow.

Mrs May said: “Brexit allows us to seize the exciting opportunities outside the EU – with Britain in control of our ­borders and setting our own laws – while building the new European economic and ­security relationship that I have proposed.

“So we will approach these discussions with ambition and creativity.”

Mr Johnson used a newspaper interview to set out his vision for a UK-EU trade deal that would “maximise the benefits of Brexit” by allowing Britain the freedom to diverge from Brussels’ laws.

He called for a deal that “gives us that important freedom to decide our own regulatory framework, our own laws and do things in a distinctive way”.

The Prime Minister made agreeing an implementation period a priority to give businesses and families the time they need to adapt to a new relationship with the EU.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641791.1513545659!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641791.1513545659!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Barnier is in charge of Brexit negotiations with the UK. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Barnier is in charge of Brexit negotiations with the UK. Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641791.1513545659!/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/alex-rowley-return-to-labour-would-spark-anger-1-4641798","id":"1.4641798","articleHeadline": "Alex Rowley return to Labour ‘would spark anger’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513576800000 ,"articleLead": "

The prospect of former Labour Deputy leader Alex Rowley being welcomed “back into the party fold” after a collapsed harassment inquiry will be met with anger among colleagues, it has been claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641797.1513546034!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Rowley announced he would quit as Scottish Labour deputy leader. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Rowley announced he would quit as deputy leader at the weekend after an internal investigations panel dropped its inquiry into claims from an ex-partner that the politician made her life a “misery”.

The panel discharged the inquiry, claiming the woman involved had a failed to share her claims with him.

But she said it was “not appropriate” for Mr Rowley to see her entire statement which contained personal information, but had been prepared to hand over a “pared down” statement.

“It’s jobs for the boys,” she told the Sun on Sunday.

“Kezia Dugdale had more disciplinary action levied against her for going into the jungle for charity.

“She’s been treated exceedingly shabbily compared to the allegations against him.”
Ms Dugdale received a written warning last week over her unauthorised appearance on I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

Mr Rowley was suspended by Labour when the allegations first came to light. Although standing down as Deputy leader, Mr Leonard said at the weekend he will continue to “play a part” in rebuilding the party.

But a Scottish Labour source said: “It’s sickening to see Alex being welcomed back into the party fold by Richard.

“There’s a great deal of anger in the Labour group about this.

“If Rowley is given a job in the shadow cabinet, all hell will break loose. Why hasn’t he been interviewed by 
the group executive like 
Kez was? The double standards on display here absolutely stink.”

Mr Leonard has yet to name a shadow cabinet despite more than three weeks in the job as leader, following Ms Dugdale’s surprise resignation.

A party spokesman said: “Richard has been speaking to all members of the group to see how the team at Holyrood can work most effectively and will announce a new shadow cabinet in due course.”

Mr Rowley said at the weekend he is pleased that the panel has discharged the case against him.

But he added: “I am disappointed that they were unable fully to investigate – and I to have the opportunity to answer – the allegations, which relate to the acrimonious end to a relationship nearly five years ago. This means the only opportunity to do so would have been through the media and I am not prepared to cause that distress to my family.

“I am in politics to fight for social, political and economic change to improve the lives of working people. I will continue that work as a Labour MSP for the region of Mid Scotland and Fife.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641797.1513546034!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641797.1513546034!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Rowley announced he would quit as Scottish Labour deputy leader. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Rowley announced he would quit as Scottish Labour deputy leader. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641797.1513546034!/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/mhairi-black-alex-salmond-suggested-i-get-a-makeover-1-4641499","id":"1.4641499","articleHeadline": "Mhairi Black: ‘Alex Salmond suggested I get a makeover’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513517111000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP MP Mhairi Black has revealed Alex Salmond suggested she give herself a makeover and offered to help her choose clothes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641601.1513517114!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mhairi Black,pictured before being elected at the age of 20. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

In an interview with Holyrood Magazine to be published in full tomorrow, Black says that Salmond gave her style advice after her election as Westminster’s youngest MP.

READ MORE: Mhairi Black - why should we put indyref2 on the back burner?

And she revealed that Salmond suggested fellow MP Tasmina Ahmed Sheikh might help her choose clothes.

Black told the magazine: “I was just chatting away to him and whole time I’m thinking ‘what’s the point of this meant to be? Is this a date? Do I need to come out to Alex Salmond?

“It was fine, really, he was just giving me tips here and there and then he says ‘I’m sure Taz will take you out to go shopping or something at some point and you’ll find your own style.

“He then said that the last time he’s had this conversation it was with a young woman called Nicola Sturgeon.

“I thought, ‘Oh very good’ and I just left the awkward silence hanging when he asked me if I wanted him to arrange it with Taz.

“I’m like, I’m never going to be told how to dress, especially by a man.”

Black also said she had received little in the way of support from the party after being elected as a 20-year-old, and revealed she had never had a real one-on-one conversation with Nicola Sturgeon.

“I think things should change and that it might be an idea for Nicola to take the time to talk to folk or whatever but I hope that someone else further down the line does have a different experience to me.

“There should be more care..there you go. I know I’m doing that thing again, where I’m maybe minimising it because it’s myself I’m talking about and I don’t want to make out I was really needy or anything but I think that’s an area where the party does need a kick up the backside, especially given the kind of caring ethos that we like to preach in the party.”

A full interview with Black features in Holyrood magazine to be published tomorrow.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641601.1513517114!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641601.1513517114!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mhairi Black,pictured before being elected at the age of 20. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mhairi Black,pictured before being elected at the age of 20. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641601.1513517114!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641498.1513507217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641498.1513507217!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mhairi Black. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mhairi Black. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641498.1513507217!/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/tax-changes-will-penalise-scots-wanting-to-cash-in-their-pension-1-4641588","id":"1.4641588","articleHeadline": "Tax changes ‘will penalise Scots wanting to cash in their pension’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513515373000 ,"articleLead": "

Scots who decide to “cash in” their pension face paying thousands of pounds extra as result of Scotland’s new income tax system, the Scottish Conservatives have claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641587.1513515376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft Budget for 2018-19. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Under plans announced by George Osborne when he was Chancellor, anyone in the UK aged 55 or over can take out their full pension pot, with 75 per cent of the cash taxed as income.

Yesterday the Conservatives said Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s decision to increase tax for those earning more than £33,000 means people in Scotland now face higher tax charges on that pension than they would face if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

The average pension pot for somebody aged 55-65 is currently £105,000. Scots with such a pension will have to pay an extra £527 if they decide to cash out.

The tax penalty rises for those with higher pensions. According to Conservative analysis, Nicola Sturgeon, who currently has a £241,000 pension pot, would have to pay an extra £1,801 if she decided to claim her pension today.

Shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser MSP said: “The Nat tax will hit Scots during their working life, and now we learn that it could hammer them when they retire too.

“This is a classic unintended consequence of tax rises and shows that the SNP haven’t thought through these half-baked plans. The SNP’s message to Scots who decide they want to access their pension pot is – don’t aspire to save, because the Scottish Government is coming for you.”

He added: “Scotland’s tax powers are there to be used responsibility to help grow the Scottish economy. The SNP is using them to wreck it.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Our new, fairer, income tax policy will protect the 70 per cent of taxpayers – including pensioners – who earn less than £33,000 a year and ensure they pay less tax next year whilst asking those earning more than £33,000 to pay a proportionate amount more.

“Operating Scottish income tax is the responsibility of the UK Government and HMRC have made clear they will ensure the mechanisms for providing pensions tax relief continue to work effectively for Scottish pension savers.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641587.1513515376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641587.1513515376!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft Budget for 2018-19. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay delivering his draft Budget for 2018-19. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641587.1513515376!/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/snp-told-to-show-some-backbone-and-back-second-eu-referendum-1-4641489","id":"1.4641489","articleHeadline": "SNP told to ‘show some backbone’ and back second EU referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513505143000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP MPs must “show some backbone” and back an amendment to the Government’s Brexit Bill that would allow for a second referendum to be held, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has said.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641488.1513505145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Vince Cable. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

He made the plea after Labour, SNP and Liberal Democrat MPs united with rebel Conservatives to inflict defeat on Prime Minister Theresa May in a key vote on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

In light of that, Cable urged SNP MPs to back a Liberal Democrat amendment to the Bill which would provide for a referendum on the exit deal once it is agreed, giving the public the chance to vote for the UK to remain in the EU if they do not like the final agreement.

The Liberal Democrat leader said: “There is growing evidence that the British public wants a say on any final deal with the EU, including the option of an exit from Brexit.

“Moreover, the Scottish people voted to remain in the EU, so their elected representatives in Parliament really must push for a popular vote.

“Which is why the SNP’s Westminster party must show some backbone and support our amendment.

“Nicola Sturgeon herself has said a public vote would be ‘irresistible’ in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit that would see the UK crash out of the EU and that the people have a ‘right to look at the outcome’ if there is a deal.

“But she must go further and back our call for a referendum on any Brexit deal.

“The Conservatives have botched Brexit so far and the last thing the SNP should be doing is allowing the Conservative right to secure an economically damaging hard Brexit.”

An SNP spokesman said: “We could end up crashing out with no deal, or with a very bad deal, and, in those circumstances, for the UK Government simply to say to people they have to accept the outcome no matter how bad it is, may become very difficult for them to sustain.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641488.1513505145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641488.1513505145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Vince Cable. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Vince Cable. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641488.1513505145!/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/scots-private-school-headteacher-betrayed-by-snp-rates-hike-1-4641304","id":"1.4641304","articleHeadline": "Scots private school headteacher ‘betrayed’ by SNP rates hike","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513459432000 ,"articleLead": "

A leading headmaster has condemned the Scottish Government’s plan to raise £5 million from private schools, saying he now feels “utterly despondent” that he had supported the SNP in the past.

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Rod Grant, headteacher at the fee-paying Clifton Hall School outside Edinburgh, said plans to end business rates relief for institutions like his would “wreck” Scottish education by placing a huge financial burden on the state sector.

Grant’s remarks came as the backlash against the controversial plans outlined in last week’s Scottish budget mounted. Headteachers warned they would force up school fees, reduce the number of children from low-income families being privately educated and even lead to the closure of schools.

In an article posted on the Clifton Hall Facebook page, Grant argued that the policy had been driven by a “narrow-minded” desire to “kick” private schools.

Last week Finance Secretary Derek Mackay produced a budget that will end the arrangement whereby private schools are exempted from paying 80 per cent of their business rates.

The policy is estimated to raise £5m, but its opponents have argued it will drive up school fees, cut bursaries and force many families to pull children out of private schools.

Grant estimated that the consequence of more children having to be educated by the state would be £10.8m bill for the taxpayer.

“The anticipated effect of this policy will be that around 1,800 return, almost overnight, to state-funded education,” Grant wrote.

“State education costs the government £6,000 per pupil. On that basis the implementation of this policy will cost the country £10.8m whilst the rates increase will bring in £5m.

“So let’s be really clear, this is an attack on independent schools. It will not increase revenue, it will reduce it. It will not improve education it will continue to wreck it. It will not decrease social inequality, it will strengthen the dogma of elitism.”

Grant said it was wrong to characterise independent schools as elitist, arguing that one quarter of his pupils receive financial assistance, which meant children from all economic backgrounds were at Clifton Hall.

“I’m really saddened that at a time when schools like mine are doing everything they can to be community-spirited, less elite and, in particular, absolutely devoted to ensuring children from the poorest of backgrounds can attend, government seeks to add a tax burden on a tiny group of charitable institutions in complete contradiction to its stated aim of reducing inequity in society. This must, therefore, be a political decision as it certainly isn’t a financial one, which is really narrow-minded.”

Grant warned that the business rates hike would force private schools to close ranks and stop sharing expertise and facilities with state schools and the community.

He said: “I am now utterly despondent that I put my cross against SNP at the last election as this now appears to be a government that has rapidly changed from a socially democratic and ethical party into a body that is infatuated with control, dislikes dissent and is fixated on every element of society toeing the line.

“Unfortunately, this latest political decision directly affects children, Scotland’s children. The policy is being introduced not to avoid elitism, not to increase revenue, not out of some philosophical deeply held belief in us all being Jock Tamson’s bairns, but rather to kick ‘private’ education because it doesn’t fit with the government’s notion of educational equality.”

Grant’s claim that there would be an increased burden on the state sector was echoed by Cameron Wyllie, the principal of George Heriot’s in Edinburgh, who suggested the future of smaller private schools would be on the line.

“Obviously, we at Heriot’s are very disappointed that the Scottish Government has come to this decision.” said Wyllie.

“We do not believe, in essence, that the move will bring in any revenue, when it is balanced against the increased costs to the education budget in Scotland which will accrue from pupils leaving independent schools because a) their parents cannot afford the increased fees or b) schools find themselves having to reduce bursarial aid in order to find the money or c) because schools close.”

John Edward of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), which represents more than 70 institutions, said: “It would only take three per cent of our pupils, which is nothing, to go back to the state sector for the £5m to be wiped out altogether. This is at a time when they are being told to build over 500 new classrooms by 2020 just to accommodate the rise in secondary pupils. If the numbers don’t add up, which they don’t, it suggests it wasn’t a financial argument. If it is not a financial argument then at least have the decency to say so.”

Wyllie said it was a “crumb of comfort” that the Scottish Government had said it would exempt independent special schools from the business rates hike.

However, Edward said it was still unclear how schools for children with additional needs would be separated from mainstream private schools in the legislation. He also suggested that many children who needed learning support were educated in the larger mainstream private schools.

The rates change was originally proposed in the Barclay Review, an exercise commissioned by the Scottish Government to examine business rates and carried out by former RBS head of Scottish operations Ken Barclay.

The review, published in September, also said the arm’s length bodies running leisure and cultural facilities for councils (ALEOs) and universities should pay the full amount. The Scottish Government decided against ending business rates relief for ALEOs and universities.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As per the recommendations of the Barclay report, we propose to retain relief eligibility for special schools, but are giving further consideration to how we ensure that independent schools with exceptional circumstances – such as specialist music schools – continue to be eligible.

“We will continue to engage with the sector as we finalise the detail of our proposals, subject to which we intend to bring forward primary legislation to deliver this change by 2020 – as this is a change to non-domestic rating provision, rather than to charity law.

“This notice will allow time for those schools affected to plan ahead.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641302.1513459436!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641302.1513459436!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rod Grant with his pupils in the grounds of Clifton Hall School. Picture: Jon Savage","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rod Grant with his pupils in the grounds of Clifton Hall School. Picture: Jon Savage","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641302.1513459436!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641303.1513459438!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641303.1513459438!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "http://www.cliftonhall.com/","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "http://www.cliftonhall.com/","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641303.1513459438!/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/dani-garavelli-police-scotland-firearms-policy-lacks-scrutiny-1-4641130","id":"1.4641130","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Police Scotland firearms policy lacks scrutiny","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513450859000 ,"articleLead": "

Police Scotland should have exposed its latest strategy to far greater public scrutiny given its controversial history, writes Dani Garavelli

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On the face of it, the proposal by Police Scotland to allow armed officers to attend non-violent incidents if they are closer to the scene than their unarmed counterparts makes logistical sense. With the number of front-line officers falling, it seems wasteful to have some of the most highly-trained sitting idle when they could be mucking in, attending road accidents and improving response times.

Perhaps too the plan to arm 500 more officers with tasers is judicious given the increased threats of violence police officers appear to be facing. So far in 2017, 969 officers have been assaulted – an increase of nearly 27 per cent on 2016 – with 3,000 officer days lost over the past three years as a consequence of the injuries sustained. If the mere threat of being tasered prevented some of those assaults, that could only be a good thing.

And yet, something about the announcement, made on Thursday by Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne, was discomfiting. Maybe it was the timing – so close to the Scottish budget the chances were it would be overshadowed by other news. Maybe it was my inability to recall any public debate on what are quite significant shifts in policy. Or maybe it was the defensive response from prominent police representatives to anyone who dared to suggest such decisions should subject to greater scrutiny. Whatever, like law lecturer Dr Nick McKerrell, I couldn’t help but wonder if the force was taking advantage of “a vacuum of accountability”; like Green MSP John Finnie, I worried this was “mission creep towards a fully armed service”.

READ MORE: Why every Scottish police officer doesn’t need a gun

To understand why people might be hyper-sensitive about these proposals, which will be put before the Scottish Police Authority on Tuesday, you have to go back to 2014 when it emerged the then chief constable Stephen House had secretly authorised more than 400 firearms officers to carry handguns at all times rather than getting kitted up for specific incidents.

House, who had changed the policy without recourse to parliament, was forced into a U-turn after photographs of officers wearing guns in shopping centres appeared in some national newspapers.

Back then, Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “We have balanced our overriding duty to keep people safe with consideration of the views expressed about the perception of armed officers supporting local policing activities.” Yet, a year later, MSPs learned hundreds of armed officers were still being sent to pub brawls and drink driving incidents in defiance of the climbdown.

Since then, of course, the context has changed: a series of terrorist attacks around the country has heightened the risk to police and public safety. In particular, the death of unarmed PC Keith Palmer outside the Houses of Parliament renewed calls for more police officers to carry guns.

This rise in incidents – and the claim we couldn’t cope with a major attack – led Police Scotland to increase the number of armed officers in the force from 275 to 399. Fair enough.

However, as the recent BBC documentary The Force clearly demonstrated, policing by consent – the idea that the police gain their legitimacy through society’s approval based on transparency, integrity and accountability – has always been at the core of the Scottish service. If terrorist attacks undermine that principle – if they lead to a more militarised police service being brought in through the back door – then they have achieved their aim: to change the way we function.

Particularly concerning is the proposed increase in the number of officers who carry tasers. Tasers deliver an electric shock and are still hugely controversial; in England and Wales, their increased use has prompted concerns from Amnesty International, which warns they shouldn’t be used against children, the elderly, or people who have a mental health condition or are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

In the past four years, tasers have been linked with the deaths of two men: 23-year-old Jordan Begley in 2013 and former Aston Villa player Dalian Atkinson, 48, in 2016. The inquest into Begley’s death heard how he had been shot by the 50,000-volt stun gun and hit with “distraction strikes”, while being restrained by three armed Greater Manchester police officers. The jury ruled the use of the taser and restraint had “more than materially contributed” to a “package” of stressful factors leading to his cardiac arrest.

Atkinson died after he was tasered three times outside his father’s home in Telford, Shropshire. Three West Mercia police officers are under criminal investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in connection with the tragedy.

A recent Scottish Police Federation survey found nine out of 10 officers wanted to be armed with tasers. Their use is set to be reviewed next autumn and any officer discharging the device will continue to be referred to Scotland’s police watchdog, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

Making the announcement, Gwynne said the force had been engaged in an extensive engagement with politicians, stakeholders and local communities. But in reality there has been little public discussion about something that could alter the nature of policing; and the fact the tasers were announced at the same time as the news about armed officers makes one wonder if they weren’t being presented as the lesser of two evils.

The problem is that this is a time of great upheaval in Police Scotland. A series of controversies and high-profile suspensions have eroded both officer morale and public trust. With Chief Constable Phil Gormley on leave of absence, the force is rudderless, while Susan Deacon has only just taken over as chair of the beleaguered Scottish Police Authority.

With things still in a state of flux, it is arguably not the best time to be implementing policies as contentious and far-reaching as these. And the high-handed tone of police representatives who seem to believe that no-one outside the force should express an opinion does nothing to boost confidence that public concerns will be taken on board.

Perhaps a more flexible deployment of armed officers and an increase in the number of officers who carry tasers will turn out to be the best way forward. But more scrutiny on the part of politicians – and more acceptance of the need for scrutiny on the part of police representatives – would go a long way towards reassuring the public that the right decisions are being taken for the right reasons.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641129.1513450864!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641129.1513450864!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The threat of terror attacks at public gatherings, such as Edinburghs Christmas Market, has necessitated a greater role for armed police. Picture: SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The threat of terror attacks at public gatherings, such as Edinburghs Christmas Market, has necessitated a greater role for armed police. Picture: SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641129.1513450864!/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/future-scotland/tech/insight-the-scots-investors-in-the-bitcoin-boom-1-4641249","id":"1.4641249","articleHeadline": "Insight: The Scots investors in the Bitcoin boom","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513454825000 ,"articleLead": "

Some Scots investors in the cryptocurrency can barely believe their luck, writes Dani Garavelli

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641247.1513454819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A bitcoin ATM in Glasgows Sauchiehall Street. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Around 18 months ago, Norman, a pensioner from Inverness, was contacted about an investment opportunity: bitcoin. A financial dabbler, he had once been defrauded out of quite a large sum of money, so he was reticent about getting involved. But eventually he was persuaded to take the risk. He bought just over six bitcoins at just under £500 each, through a London-based broker, as well as investing £2,000 in another cryptocurrency – Ethereum.

A few months ago, he sold one of his bitcoins for £4,000, and he is in the process of selling another for somewhere in the region of £13,000. The remaining four, plus the Ethereum (which has also more than doubled in value), he plans to keep to see if the price keeps on rising.

“I was wary, but I thought, ‘Ach, I’ll give it a whirl’ and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Norman tells me. “It didn’t do much for a while, but then it just took off. When it reached £4,000, I thought, ‘If I sell one, I’ve got my money back so I won’t lose anything’. That was my strategy.

“Most people are saying I should sell the rest of my bitcoins now, but I am quite curious to see what happens. Some experts are predicting it will go stratospheric and others are saying it will all end in tears. But either way, I will have made a profit.”

For the past few months, the world has been in the grip of a bitcoin goldrush. Though the value fluctuates wildly from day to day (or even from hour to hour), its recent growth has been breathtaking: in April 2013, one bitcoin could be bought for £20; at 10pm on Friday it was worth £13,277. Between 20 November and Tuesday, it doubled in value.

READ MORE: Centuries-old London Stock Exchange Group embracing bitcoin technology

Last week, there were reports of bitcoin ATMs crashing in Singapore and Israel, while in South Korea, where trading is up to 16 per cent over prevailing international rates, Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon is worried it could corrupt the nation’s youth.

Some new buyers are approaching the enterprise with caution. Software developer Colin Burn-Murdoch, from Edinburgh, has invested just £200 in bitcoin. He is in the process of developing software which tracks the fluctuations in the cryptocurrencies’ value, alerting him when to buy or sell.

But stories like that of Kristopher Koch who, in 2013, bought an upmarket flat in Oslo by cashing in 1,000 of the 5,000 bitcoins he bought for £14 in 2009 – and the recent rises – are fuelling rash behaviour. Some people are already running up credit card debt and remortgaging their homes to grab themselves a piece of the action.

There is an irony at the core of this phenomenon. Bitcoin was established, by a shadowy individual or consortium, operating under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. Its raison d’être was to provide a decentralised alternative to the existing banking system; an alternative peer-to-peer exchange system that did not depend on an intermediary. But – though it is used to make both online and real-world purchases – its volatility is invalidating its usage. “You can’t go for a haircut and know the price of that haircut has changed by 10 per cent whilst you were having it,” says Daniel Broby, director of the centre for financial regulation and innovation at Strathclyde University.

Instead bitcoin’s success depends on it being traded as a commodity – like gold or oil (though it differs from other commodities in the sense that it has no physical form or use).

Last week’s rise in value was prompted by the start of bitcoin futures trading on Wall Street, which began with Chicago Board of Exchange Global Markets and will be rolled out by several other exchanges in the next few weeks.

“The futures contract means banks, insurance companies and hedge funds can participate in it,” says Broby. “Bitcoin is becoming institutionalised and legitimised. It is moving into the mainstream.”

To many observers, the rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies feels unsustainable. But there are those who believe the global nature of the cryptocurrency means there is still plenty of scope for greater growth. Last week, several analysts including Yann Quelenn, of the European online bank Swissquote, predicted one bitcoin would be worth $100,000 by 2019/20.

But economists are already branding it the biggest bubble of all time, surpassing the South Sea Bubble of 1720, in which many people were ruined, and warning those jumping on the bandwagon that they are taking a huge risk.

“The people participating in this market are ill-informed and making quite irrational decisions,” one financial expert tells me. “The only way this can solve itself is for the bubble to burst, for people to lose their money and for more rational players to come in at lower prices.”

Cryptocurrency evangelists tend to be anti-establishment libertarians who regard banking authorities as corrupt or inept. Bitcoin appeals to them because it is anarchic and is regulated by the people who use it. But there are many who view bitcoin in a more negative light. DBS, one of Asia’s largest banks, for example, has branded the system an elaborate scam – a kind of Ponzi scheme in which new investors provide the returns for older investors. Others – who are slightly less damning – still believe a centralised regulator is necessary to provide stability.

The advantages of bitcoin include the ability to send and get money anywhere in the world at a given time, very low transaction fees, a high degree of privacy and protection against identity theft .

However there are pitfalls. The most obvious is that if your “wallet” is hacked or you lose your private bitcoin “key” (see panel), you no longer have access to the bitcoin. James Howell of Newport claims to have lost 7,500 bitcoins when he threw out a hard drive in 2013. The bitcoins, then valued at £97, would be worth £60 million today. Once a cryptokey has been stolen, it is almost impossible to retrieve it.

The fact that bitcoin is a quasi-anonymous, untraceable way of moving money has made it particularly attractive to criminals. Just a few months after it was first used to buy goods – two pizzas from Papa Johns in May, 2010 – it became the currency for the Silk Road: an online drug market operating on the dark net.

The Silk Road is no more, its founder Ross Ulbricht having been jailed for life after he was tracked down by FBI officers. Its demise in 2013 saw the price of bitcoin take a short-term tumble.

But this was far from the only scandal. A few months after Ulbricht’s conviction in early 2015, Tomáš Jiříkovský was arrested in the Czech Republic for stealing millions of dollars in bitcoin from its successor, Sheep Marketplace.

And a few months after that, Mark Karpelès, the CEO of Tokyo-based bitcoin intermediary Mt Gox, was arrested and charged with fraud and embezzlement of $390 million from the currency exchange, which had filed for bankruptcy after announcing 850,000 bitcoins had gone missing.

Earlier this year, the ransomware attack Wannacry demanded ransoms in bitcoins after targeting computers running Microsoft Windows by encrypting data.

However, it is not bitcoin’s appeal to criminals which is the greatest obstacle to it becoming an established global currency; it is the huge amount of power required for the blockchain to function. The mining network which verifies transactions now consumes 30.14TWh of electricity a year. Each individual bitcoin transaction requires almost 300KWh of electricity, enough to boil around 36,000 kettles.

“Bitcoin suffers from an inherent problem: that to create the cryptograhic keys that make it secure, you have to use the raw processing power of computers, and that’s very energy-intensive,” says Broby.

“For all the bitcoins in the world right now, the energy in use to support them is as much as the Republic of Ireland generates every year – and this isn’t even yet a global currency. We don’t have enough planets to create the energy that would support bitcoin as a currency mechanism.”

For miners to keep taking part, the “reward” they receive for successfully sealing the block must be worth more than the energy they consume in the process. Were the value of the bitcoin to fall dramatically, the balance might tip, and a lot of the miners might collapse.

“That might mean one country, such as China, where the electricity is cheap, would have all the miners in the world,” says Bill Buchanan, professor of computing at Edinburgh Napier University.

“When one country takes over the currency, they can do whatever they want with it: they can roll back, they can pay themselves money, they can say your payment isn’t acceptable.”

Another problem with cryptocurrencies is that the anonymity they afford makes it easier for those involved to avoid paying taxes. “A cybercriminal will often take bitcoins and convert them into Ethereum – they can move money around,” Buchanan says. “So long as it stays in cryptospace, the taxman and the governments will never see it. Only when it comes back out and is exchanged back into dollars will a bank see it as real money.”

Marco Baressi, 30, who comes from Dundee but is currently living in the Philippines, began investing in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, in early October and is already quids-in.

He says he does a lot of research, attending conferences and watching Youtube videos of investors before making a purchase. “I wouldn’t have invested in them in the first place if I didn’t believe they’ve got a good chance of ‘going to the moon’ as they say in crypto-world.

“Bitcoin is such a big deal that one day it will be globally acceptable to pay for anything in it, and eventually it may be possible to do the same with other cryptocurrencies,” he says.

Broby and Buchanan agree digital currencies will eventually replace paper money, but believe investors such as Baressi are misguided to believe bitcoin is the future.

They say other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum, require less energy to create the security protocols and that some kind of centralised regulation is likely to be necessary in the long-term.

In Scotland, of course, we already have our own cryptocurrency: Scotcoin, owned by Fintech investor David Low, and worth $25m.

At the moment, Scotcoin works off the same blockchain as bitcoin; this means its value has also risen sharply but that it shares bitcoin’s volatility issues.

In the future, however, Scotcoin will move on to its own “permissioned” blockchain and will be fully compliant with Anti-Money-Laundering and Know Your Customer – the regulations that apply to stocks, shares and bank accounts, says Low.

“We are basically moving Scotcoin to a professional, regulated environment where everyone who wants to trade in it has to produce a passport and a utility bill, the same as they would if they were opening a bank account.”

Broby adds: “It is people’s acceptance of the philosophy that it makes sense to have a digital currency and then jumping to the conclusion that it should be bitcoin that is driving the price up.

“But what I am saying is that the more you know about the technology behind this, the more you are driven to the conclusion that at some point, the central banks will intervene and that bitcoin won’t be the solution.

“It will be a similar solution, but with better environmental and security protocols.”

Creation of a virtual currency

The story of bitcoin’s creation, and how it works, is fascinating. Inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement, its pioneers wanted to bypass financial institutions by establishing a decentralised system in which buying and selling could be done directly, without the need for an intermediary (though, in reality, most transactions are still carried out through a broker).

Though there are now around 1,000 cryptocurrencies across the world, bitcoin is the best known and most influential; it is to other cryptocurrencies what the dollar is to other fiat currencies (fiat currencies are those declared legal tender by a government, but not backed by a physical commodity).

First introduced in January 2009, bitcoins – like all cryptocurrencies – have no physical form (unlike the collectible coins that illustrate this article); they are pieces of computer code and exist only as numbers on a screen. New bitcoins are created by a complex computer process known as “mining” whereby participants solve maths problems to release them. The creators decided the total number of bitcoins – like gold or oil – should be finite, so there will only ever be 21 million (of which more than 16 million have already been mined).

Each bitcoin is defined by a public address and a private crypto-key – a long string of numbers and letters that act as a unique digital finger. The public address and private keys and must be kept securely in a “wallet”.

But bitcoins are also identified by their position in a public ledger of all bitcoin transactions known as the blockchain. It is the miners’ job to keep the blockchain intact. All transactions made within a set period are arranged into blocks. The miners then compete with each other to convert the information in that block into a much shorter series of numbers and letters known as a “hash”. Every time a miner seals off a block, they’re rewarded with 25 bitcoins (the incentive for taking part), the blockchain is updated and everyone in the network hears about it. Once a transaction is confirmed, it is irreversible.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641247.1513454819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641247.1513454819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A bitcoin ATM in Glasgows Sauchiehall Street. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A bitcoin ATM in Glasgows Sauchiehall Street. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641247.1513454819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641248.1513454829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641248.1513454829!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A collectable spin-off from the digital currency, which has no specie or notes. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A collectable spin-off from the digital currency, which has no specie or notes. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641248.1513454829!/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/cameron-to-lead-billion-dollar-china-trade-fund-1-4641161","id":"1.4641161","articleHeadline": "Cameron to lead billion-dollar China trade fund","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513455206000 ,"articleLead": "

David Cameron is to take on a role leading a billion-dollar investment initiative between the UK and China.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641159.1513444771!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Cameron greets Chinese President Xi Jinping at Downing Street in 2015. The former prime minister will take charge of a fund to improve ports, roads and rail networks between China and its trading partners. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The former prime minister played a key role in leading efforts to boost trade links with Beijing while he was in Downing Street and Chancellor Philip Hammond welcomed his new role during an official visit to China.

Cameron, pictured above, will take charge of the £750 million fund to improve ports, roads and rail networks between China and its trading partners.

The fund is supported by the British Government but will not involve any taxpayers’ money. Its launch was announced as part of a series of deals hailed by Chancellor Philip Hammond on a trade visit to China.

A spokesman for 
Cameron said the former prime minister’s role had been discussed with the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), which considers roles taken up by ex-ministers.

“David Cameron remains very proud of his work as prime minister launching the ‘Golden Era’ between the UK and China with President Xi [Jinping], and strengthening the UK/China trade and investment relationship,” the spokesman said.

“In an effort to build on that work out of office, he wishes to play a role in a new UK-China bilateral investment fund that will invest in innovative and sustainable growth opportunities in both the UK and China to create jobs and further boost trade links.

“Having now received official advice from Acoba, work is continuing on establishing the fund.”

Around £1.4 billion worth of commercial deals were announced at the UK-China economic and financial dialogue in Beijing attended by Hammond.

They included accelerating preparations for the London-Shanghai “stock connect” initiatives, which will mean investors in each country will be able to trade shares listed on the other’s stock exchange.

Hammond said: “We look forward to continuing the golden era of UK-China relations.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Hughes"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641159.1513444771!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641159.1513444771!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Cameron greets Chinese President Xi Jinping at Downing Street in 2015. The former prime minister will take charge of a fund to improve ports, roads and rail networks between China and its trading partners. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Cameron greets Chinese President Xi Jinping at Downing Street in 2015. The former prime minister will take charge of a fund to improve ports, roads and rail networks between China and its trading partners. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641159.1513444771!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641160.1513444776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641160.1513444776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Chinese vice premier Ma Kai with other delegates at the UK-China Economic Financial Dialogue in Beijing yesterday. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond and Chinese vice premier Ma Kai with other delegates at the UK-China Economic Financial Dialogue in Beijing yesterday. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641160.1513444776!/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/euan-mccolm-rage-at-rebels-betrays-panic-of-brexiteers-1-4641223","id":"1.4641223","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Rage at rebels betrays panic of Brexiteers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513455092000 ,"articleLead": "

The violent denunciation of fellow MPs who stand up for democracy is the surest sign yet that disaster awaits when we leave the EU, says Euan McColm

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641222.1513455097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dominic Grieve, who tabled the amendment, has contacted police about threats made to him concerning the vote. Picture: Justin Tallis/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Surely Brexiteers should have been delighted. This was, after all, exactly the sort of thing most of them insist drives their desire for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

If the “sovereignty” of parliament truly matters to the people who loudly proclaim that it does, then the 11 Tory rebels who joined with opposition MPs to force the Government to agree that the House of Commons will have a final say on whatever Brexit deal Prime Minister Theresa May is able to cobble together should be their new heroes.

Instead, assorted Tory MPs, Ukip monomaniacs, right-wing newspapers, and internet fury chimps collectively made it clear that they considered the 11 – including former secretaries of state Ken Clarke and Nicky Morgan – to be traitors. The Daily Mail demanded, on its front page, to know whether the rebels were proud of themselves (correct answer: yes). Nadine Dorries MP, a Chris Morrisian nightmare-made-flesh, demanded that the rebels be deselected and banned from ever again standing under the Conservative banner.

And then the death threats started. Former attorney general Dominic Grieve – whose amendment led to the government’s defeat – called in police over threats he received in the aftermath of the parliamentary vote, while his colleague, Anna Soubry, revealed that, she too, had become a victim.

In the twisted minds of angry Brexiteers the insistence by these 11 Tory MPs that parliamentary democracy must be sustained and respected represents nothing less than insurrection.

It would be disingenuous to claim that I find this dissonance at all baffling.

In the year and a half since a charabanc full of hucksters persuaded a narrow majority of UK voters to support Brexit, it has become increasingly clear that those who shouted loudest in support of the Leave campaign haven’t the faintest idea how to deliver on their promises. Brexit was sold by the likes of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson as not only an instant fix to whatever irks you but as something that could be expedited briskly.

You will, I’ve no doubt, recall how Europe would be ready to offer a great deal to the UK and how nations around the world would be queuing up to sign remarkable trading agreements that would usher in a new era of success.

Well, it turns out that was all irredeemable bollocks. It is not currently the Christmas season only for Christians but also for those of us who enjoy saying, “I told you so.”

And it’s because their case was a concoction of lies, smears, and distortions that the Brexiteers are now so very angry about the prospect of parliamentary scrutiny.

While the government spins wildly about the Prime Minister’s progress to the “next stage” of Brexit negotiations (which could collapse in an instant) it’s evident that the UK doesn’t have many cards to play.

Zealots like Tory MEP Daniel Hannan and former Labour MP Gisela Stuart who painted pictures of a post-Brexit Utopia are, every single day, being found out. With every announcement of cancelled investment, of jobs moving away from the UK, we see further evidence that the case for Brexit was based on the wishful thinking of people one would cross a motorway to avoid.

Brexiteers aren’t angry at the Tory rebels merely because they want the House of Commons to have a say, they are angry because they know their case doesn’t bear close examination. When Dorries shrieks about the deselection of colleagues, she distracts our attention from the fact that the very prospect of a “good” Brexit deal is laughable.

If one dares to point out that Brexit Secretary David Davis – like so many senior politicians, today, an idiot’s idea of a clever person – appears to be wildly out of his depth, one is blamed for the fact things aren’t going to plan. If only “Remoaners” would begin believing in Brexit then everything would be fine goes the line.

This is nonsense put about by stupid people. But nonsense is all the Brexiteers have.

Referendums (a reckless idea up there with cigarettes among the things I wish had never been invented) may – for a day – put power into the hands of the people but, after that, parliament must then take charge.

It is not treacherous to believe that the House of Commons should have a vote on the shape of the UK’s Brexit deal. In fact, if one believes the UK to be a democracy, it’s entirely patriotic.

Again, I lament the failure of the Labour Party to behave like a proper opposition when it comes to Brexit.

Sure, Labour MPs played their part in the government’s defeat, but Jeremy Corbyn is a leader doing little more than going through the motions on matters related to the EU.

For this, we may blame his career-long Euroscepticism along with the fact that a great many traditional Labour voters in working class communities across England supported Brexit.

With their rebellion, those 11 Tory MPs showed ten times the stomach for the fight that Corbyn displays.

It is inconceivable that the EU will make major concessions to the UK without the UK making major concessions to the EU. If Britain is to get what might be considered a good deal, then we’d be looking at the softest of Brexits – an amiable separation rather then a bitter divorce. A conscious uncoupling, if you will.

But the Brexiteers don’t want that. They want all ties severed; if the cost of taking back full control over immigration is economic misery, so be it. If you want to examine that cost too closely, be prepared to be called an enemy of the people.

During last year’s referendum campaign, the Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a man who shouted “Britain first” as he shot and stabbed her.

Those who are now trying to whip up the mob against the 11 Conservative MPs whose votes ensured our democracy is upheld should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. The rest of us should be grateful those rebels helped parliament take back control from the snake oil salesmen behind Brexit.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641222.1513455097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641222.1513455097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dominic Grieve, who tabled the amendment, has contacted police about threats made to him concerning the vote. Picture: Justin Tallis/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dominic Grieve, who tabled the amendment, has contacted police about threats made to him concerning the vote. Picture: Justin Tallis/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641222.1513455097!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/education/leader-taxing-private-schools-won-t-raise-standards-1-4641373","id":"1.4641373","articleHeadline": "Leader: Taxing private schools won’t raise standards","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513465734000 ,"articleLead": "

The fallout from the Scottish Government budget this week has only served to underline a lack of focus on what should be really important to Scotland in the coming decade.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641372.1513460125!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rod Grant, headmaster of Clifton Hall School, has criticised the narrow-mindedness of government policy. Picture: Jon Savage"} ,"articleBody": "

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has been praised in some quarters for tax changes which will hit the middles classes while also delivering a lower basic rate of taxation (19 per cent) than in England.

Job done, many have said.

The reality, however, is that those on the lowest incomes could see a benefit of just £20 a year, which will be quickly eaten up by rising prices.

Similarly, many in his party and beyond have welcomed a move to end business rates relief for independent schools. A quick look at nationalist message boards finds many urging the SNP to take the next step and abolish private schools altogether.

Both these measures may be politically astute. But the bigger picture is that on the economy and on education Scotland is lagging behind other developed nations.

The economic growth forecasts from the new Scottish Fiscal Commission are lamentable and on education we are falling down the international league table.

Solving these issues is what should be important. In a generation, no one will care whether Mackay outflanked Labour on tax. But they will care if his party’s failure to give enough support to spark an economic recovery lost Scotland far more in revenue that might be gained by tax tinkering.

And they will care if we damage a strong private education sector by driving up fees and reducing the number of bursaries available. The worst-case scenario is that some smaller independent schools could close.

Removing rates relief from private schools is petty. We should be giving the same relief to state schools, not seeking to punish our best performing establishments.

Independent schools produce the best results across Scotland year after year. Would it be so wrong for the SNP to encourage the state sector as a whole to aspire to these standards instead of attacking those who are doing well?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641372.1513460125!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641372.1513460125!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rod Grant, headmaster of Clifton Hall School, has criticised the narrow-mindedness of government policy. Picture: Jon Savage","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rod Grant, headmaster of Clifton Hall School, has criticised the narrow-mindedness of government policy. Picture: Jon Savage","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641372.1513460125!/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/pro-life-group-fights-plans-to-allow-women-to-have-home-abortions-1-4641197","id":"1.4641197","articleHeadline": "Pro-life group fights plans to allow women to have home abortions","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513465732000 ,"articleLead": "

Pro-life campaigners have indicated they will mount a legal challenge to halt Scottish Government plans to allow women to have home abortions.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641195.1513455311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The SPUC said it had received advice from an advocate suggesting that misoprostol could not be taken without some form of medical supervision."} ,"articleBody": "

John Deighan, chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) in Scotland, said the organisation had sought legal advice on the issue, and been told they “have a good chance of success”.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, confirmed in October that she had written to all health boards north of the border to say the drug misoprostol, which terminates a pregnancy, could be taken by women outside a clinical setting.

Calderwood described it as “significant progress” that women in Scotland who are up to nine weeks pregnant could take the second dose of the drug at home if they wanted, saying this would allow them “more privacy, more dignity”.

Campaign groups including Engender, Amnesty Scotland and Rape Crisis Scotland have welcomed the move. Professor Lesley Regan, president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) described it as ‘’admirable’’. But Deighan claimed the potential health risks for women were “horrific”. He said: “There would be no medical oversight and this development will result in dreadful threats to women’s health.”

SPUC said it had received detailed legal advice from an advocate who specialises in human rights cases, who said under the law the medication could not be taken without some form of medical supervision.

The advocate stated: “In my view, the taking of the abortifacient drugs must be done under the supervision either of a registered medical practitioner, or by some other suitable member of staff who is acting under the control of a medical practitioner. It cannot be done by a patient unsupervised, at home or elsewhere.”

The advocate added: “As the approval anticipates the patient administering the drug to herself without medical supervision, that approval proceeds upon a misdirection as to the requirements of the 1967 Act, and is accordingly unlawful.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “We’ve worked hard to ensure women are always able to access clinically safe services.

“Scotland is the only part of the United Kingdom to offer women the opportunity to take misoprostol at home, when this is clinically appropriate.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641195.1513455311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641195.1513455311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The SPUC said it had received advice from an advocate suggesting that misoprostol could not be taken without some form of medical supervision.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The SPUC said it had received advice from an advocate suggesting that misoprostol could not be taken without some form of medical supervision.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641195.1513455311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641196.1513455313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641196.1513455313!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, said the drug misoprostol, which terminates a pregnancy, could be taken by women outside a clinical setting. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Catherine Calderwood, said the drug misoprostol, which terminates a pregnancy, could be taken by women outside a clinical setting. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641196.1513455313!/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/education/video-scotland-s-education-system-in-numbers-1-4640659","id":"1.4640659","articleHeadline": "Video: Scotland’s Education System in Numbers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513456787000 ,"articleLead": "

Free higher education comes at a price, but Finance Secretary Derek Mackay promised to pick up the £1.8bn tab from Universities and Colleges.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640657.1513456792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The average primary school class size is 23.5, but primary PTR is 16.6."} ,"articleBody": "

Income tax reform is the biggest takeaway from Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s 2018/19 budget, but big changes are coming to education.

Attainment Scotland funding rose to £179 million. Of that, £120million set aside for the pupil equity fund and the remainder will be used to support young people in difficult family situations.

Scotland proudly offers free higher education to natives and the Finance Secretary has set aside £1.8 billion of the budget for Universities and Colleges to balance the books.

In 2016, the Scottish pupil teacher ratios (PTR) for primary and secondary were sitting as 16.6 and 12.2 respectively.

Mr Mackay is giving £88 million to local authorities to allow them to maintain those ratios.

Children with complex support needs will also benefit from a further £10 million.

In the video above, you can catch a small glimpse of the Scottish education system, told through numbers and statistics.

Facts like the average primary school class being 23.5 children and women making up 90% of primary school teachers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "tony.mcguire@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Tony McGuire"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640657.1513456792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640657.1513456792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The average primary school class size is 23.5, but primary PTR is 16.6.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The average primary school class size is 23.5, but primary PTR is 16.6.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640657.1513456792!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5681801427001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/russia-ridicules-suggestion-it-could-cut-undersea-communications-cables-1-4641272","id":"1.4641272","articleHeadline": "Russia ridicules suggestion it could cut undersea communications cables","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513450079000 ,"articleLead": "

Russia has hit back at “sensationalist” and “mind-boggling” suggestions that it could cut undersea communications cables to the UK.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641271.1513450084!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The head of the UK’s military said protection of the communications lines was a priority for Britain and its Nato allies in the face of Russia’s naval modernisation.

But a statement posted on the Russian Embassy in London’s website hinted that Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach’s comments may have been motivated more by concerns about the defence budget than fears of sabotage directed from Moscow.

His comments came weeks after Theresa May used her address at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London to warn that Russia had “mounted a sustained campaign of cyber espionage and disruption” against other countries.

The Russian Embassy’s response said: “Such sensationalist statements can cause regret, as they are fanning the flames for the unwholesome sentiment created by PM Theresa May’s banquet speech.

“Instead of discussing European security, an important issue for all the European nations including UK, London keeps speculating on numerous mind-boggling scenarios of a hypothetical conflict.

“The reasons look obvious - but even if the UK military needs money so badly, why intimidate people this much?”

In a lecture on Thursday, Sir Stuart said: “In response to the threat posed by the modernisation of the Russian navy, both nuclear and conventional submarines and ships, we along with our Atlantic allies have prioritised missions and tasks to protect the sea lines of communication.”

He warned: “Can you imagine a scenario where those cables are cut or disrupted, which would immediately and potentially catastrophically affect both our economy and other ways of living if they were disrupted?”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Hughes"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641271.1513450084!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641271.1513450084!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Russian president Vladimir Putin. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641271.1513450084!/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/alex-rowley-quits-as-scottish-labour-deputy-leader-1-4641128","id":"1.4641128","articleHeadline": "Alex Rowley quits as Scottish Labour deputy leader","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513444458000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Rowley will not return to his role as Scottish Labour deputy leader after a panel examining sexual harassment claims against him failed to complete its investigation.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641127.1513444464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Rowley has resigned as deputy leader of Scottish Labour. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

The list MSP for Fife had referred himself to the panel after an ex-partner accused him of bombarding her with abusive messages over a three year period.

The matter was “discharged” today by the panel because Rowley’s former girlfriend had not allowed a statement outlining her complaints to be shared with him.

The Scotsman understands several attempts were made to try and get the unnamed woman to give consent for the full investigation process to be followed.

But her refusal meant Rowley did not have the opportunity to respond to her allegations. It has been reported that Rowley’s girlfriend had referred the matter to the police on two occasions, but no action was taken.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has appointed Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, as interim deputy leader. Leonard said Rowley would continue to play a role in Labour, but a party source said it was not known yet whether Rowley would return to the Holyrood front bench.

Rowley said: “Today, I have informed Richard Leonard that I do not intend to resume the role of Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.

“I am pleased the panel has discharged the case which I referred to them, but I am disappointed that they were unable fully to investigate – and I to have the opportunity to answer - the allegations, which relate to the acrimonious end to a relationship nearly five years ago. This means the only opportunity to do so would have been through the media and I am not prepared to cause that distress to my family.”

He added: “I am in politics to fight for social, political and economic change to improve the lives of working people. I will continue that work as a Labour MSP for the region of Mid Scotland and Fife.

Leonard said: “Following on from Alex Rowley’s decision to resign from the position of deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, I have asked Lesley Laird to assume the position on an interim basis.

“I have spoken to Alex and for the sake of his family he has decided to step down from this important role. He informs me that it is a decision he made some time ago. He is a loyal and experienced member of the Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament and will continue to play a part in rebuilding the Labour Party in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4641127.1513444464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4641127.1513444464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Rowley has resigned as deputy leader of Scottish Labour. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Rowley has resigned as deputy leader of Scottish Labour. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4641127.1513444464!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-as-brexit-looms-scotland-s-low-gdp-growth-is-worrying-1-4640753","id":"1.4640753","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: As Brexit looms, Scotland’s low GDP growth is worrying","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513416549000 ,"articleLead": "

With GDP currently forecast to be below 1% until 2022, a no-deal Brexit could tip Scotland into recession.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640752.1513416554!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay must find a way to boost growth in Scotland's GDP."} ,"articleBody": "

It’s the economy, stupid. That was the unofficial slogan used by Bill Clinton during his first successful presidential campaign and it should probably be the mantra for politicians at any time and in any place.

Economic competence and electoral success go hand in hand – particularly when times are tough.

So the Conservatives’ calculation that our public services will miss out on a whopping £2.1 billion over the next four years because of the downward revision of Scotland’s growth forecasts could actually be the real story of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s new draft budget.

READ MORE: Slow economic growth to hit Scottish tax intake by £2.1bn

The historic decision to make major use the Scottish Parliament’s “tartan tax” powers for the first time, increasing income tax overall while cutting rates for lower earners, may have grabbed the initial headlines. But, as The Scotsman noted yesterday, it is economic growth – rather than raising relatively small amounts of extra tax – that has the potential to end austerity in Scotland. The Scottish Fiscal Commission is predicting the growth in Scotland’s GDP will be just 0.7 per cent next year. In comparison, the UK as a whole is expected to grow by nearly double that figure next year – 1.3 per cent. And, when this UK forecast was revealed, many commentators expressed shock that the figure was so low.

One can only hope the commission decided to err on the side of caution to a significantly greater degree than the Office for Budget Responsibility, which produced the British figures.

READ MORE: Scotland set to lag behind UK with growth below 1% until 2022

Some of Scotland’s economic woes are structural – the North Sea Oil industry has been suffering from low oil prices for some time, while the construction sector has seen an end to major projects like the Queensferry Crossing.

So it will not be a simple matter for the Scottish Government to provide a shot in the arm that makes a noticeable difference.

Of course, Brexit – a process almost entirely out of Holyrood’s control – overshadows all these economic forecasts and cannot be accurately taken into account until the full details of the trade deal with the European Union are known.

No deal or a bad deal could tip Scotland into a recession, possibly a severe one, as the resulting turbulence damages business confidence. And that would further increase pressure on public services, deepen austerity and increase the general sense of disquiet over stagnant wages and rising living costs.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640752.1513416554!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640752.1513416554!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay must find a way to boost growth in Scotland's GDP.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Finance Secretary Derek Mackay must find a way to boost growth in Scotland's GDP.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640752.1513416554!/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/bret-stephens-think-trump-is-losing-think-again-1-4640746","id":"1.4640746","articleHeadline": "Bret Stephens: Think Trump is losing? Think again","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513404000000 ,"articleLead": "

The US President’s approval rating may be low, but prosperity trumps morality, writes Bret Stephens.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640745.1513365776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump may seem like he's in trouble, but there are signs he could turn things around (Picture: AFP/Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

Take a walk with me, dear reader, into the yard, down the street — anywhere, really, just so that we can step outside of our house of outrage. It’s a roomy house, with space for everyone from woke progressives to disillusioned conservatives. It’s a good house, filled with people united in a just and defiant cause. It’s a harmonious house, thrumming with the sound of people agreeing vigorously. And lately, we’ve started to believe we’re ... winning.

We breathed relief on Tuesday night when Roy Moore went down to his well-earned political death, like Jack Nicholson’s Joker at the end of “Batman”.

We roared when Robert Mueller extracted a guilty plea from a cooperative Michael Flynn, and the investigative noose seemed to tighten around Donald Trump’s neck. We cheered when Democrat Ralph Northam trounced Ed Gillespie after the Republican took the low road with anti-immigrant demagogy.

It’s all lining up. Democrats have an 11-point edge over Republicans in the generic congressional ballot. The president’s approval rating is barely scraping 37 per cent. Nearly six in 10 Americans say the United States is on the “wrong track.” Isn’t revenge in 2018 starting to taste sweet — and 2020 even sweeter?

Don’t bet on it. Democrats are making the same mistakes Republicans made when they inhabited their own house of outrage, back in 1998.

You remember. The year of the wagged finger and the stained blue dress. Of a president who abused women, lied about it, and used his power to bomb other countries so he could distract from his personal messes.

Of a special prosecutor whose investigation overstepped its original bounds. Of half the country in a moral fever to impeach. Of the other half determined to dismiss sexual improprieties, defend a democratically elected leader and move on with the business of the country.

READ MORE: Scottish independence ‘would be terrible’, says Donald Trump

Oh, also the year in which the Dow Jones industrial average jumped by 16 per cent, the unemployment rate fell to a 28-year low, and Democrats gained seats in Congress. Bill Clinton, as we all know, survived impeachment and left office with a strong economic record and a 66-per cent approval rating.

If nothing else, 1998 demonstrated the truth of the unofficial slogan on which Clinton had first run for president: It’s the economy, stupid. Prosperity trumps morality. The wealth effect beats the yuck factor. That may not have held true in Moore’s defeat, but it’s not every day that an alleged paedophile runs for office. Even so, he damn well nearly won. The year 1998 also showed that, when it comes to sex, we Americans forgive easily; that, when it comes to women, we don’t always believe readily; and that, when it comes to presidents, we want them to succeed. However else one might feel about Mueller — or, for that matter, Ken Starr — nobody elected them to anything.

Which brings us back to Trump. Democrats may like their polling numbers, but here are a few others for them to consider.

The first is 3.3 per cent, last quarter’s annual growth rate, the highest in three years. Next is 1.7 per cent, the core inflation rate, meaning interest rates are unlikely to rise very sharply.

Also, 4.1 per cent, the unemployment rate, which is down half a percentage point, or nearly 800,000 workers, since the beginning of the year. Finally, 24 per cent, which is the rise in the Dow Jones industrial average since Trump became president — one of the market’s best performances ever.

READ MORE: Number 10 condemns Donald Trump for spreading Britain First videos

Democrats will find plenty of ways to explain that these numbers aren’t quite as good as they sound — they are not — or that we’re setting ourselves up for a big crash — we might well be — or that the deficit is only getting bigger — it is, but so what?

Politically speaking, none of that matters. Trump enters 2018 with a robust economy that will, according to the estimate of the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation, grow stronger thanks to the tax bill.

What about the outrage over the president’s behaviour? Kirsten Gillibrand and other Senate Democrats have called on Trump to resign following new accusations of sexual harassment and assault. Good luck getting him to agree. Tom Steyer and other liberal plutocrats want the president impeached and thrown out of office. Good luck electing 67 Democrats to the Senate.

Every minute wasted on that whale hunt is a minute the Democrats neglect to make an affirmative case for themselves.

Which leaves us with Mueller. All of us in the house of outrage are eager for the special counsel to find the goods on the president and Russia, obstruction, financial shenanigans, anything. The clues seem so obvious, the evidence so tantalisingly close.

Yet we should also know that the wish tends to be the father of the thought. What if Mueller comes up short in finding evidence of collusion?

What if the worst Mueller’s got is one bad tweet that, maybe, constitutes evidence of obstruction? And what if further doubts are raised about the impartiality of the investigation?

The president’s opponents have made a huge political bet on an outcome that’s far from clear. Anything less than complete vindication for our side may wind up as utter humiliation.

Dear reader, I too live in the house of outrage, for all the usual reasons. Just beware, beware of growing comfortable in it. As in 1998, it just might turn out to be a house of losers.

© The New York Times 2017

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bret Stephens"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640745.1513365776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640745.1513365776!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Donald Trump may seem like he's in trouble, but there are signs he could turn things around (Picture: AFP/Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump may seem like he's in trouble, but there are signs he could turn things around (Picture: AFP/Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640745.1513365776!/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/call-for-action-on-social-epidemic-of-loneliness-1-4640815","id":"1.4640815","articleHeadline": "Call for action on ‘social epidemic’ of loneliness","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513375981000 ,"articleLead": "

The “social epidemic” of loneliness needs to be tackled by a combination of government intervention and “every single one of us” playing our part, according to the sister of murdered MP Jo Cox.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640814.1513375986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kim Leadbeater (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Kim Leadbeater was speaking after a commission set up by Mrs Cox before her death recommended that the UK needs a government-led national strategy to combat a problem which affects millions of people.

The final report of the Jo Cox Loneliness Commission found that nine million adults in the UK are often or always lonely and that loneliness is as harmful to health as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

And it detailed how three-quarters of GPs say they see up to five patients every day who are lonely, and that loneliness is estimated to cost employers £2.5 billion every year.

Ms Leadbeater said: “Yes, government has got to play a part, that’s where policies are made and that’s where some of the money’s going to come from. But the great thing about this issue is that we can all make a difference.

“We can all go out tomorrow and knock on somebody’s door, catch up with a friend we’ve not seen for a while who might be having a tough time, and we can all make a little bit of difference.”

Speaking following the report launch in Batley, West Yorkshire, Ms Leadbeater said: “On a day-to-day basis it needs to come from us – every single one of us.

“I’m really embarrassed that I didn’t know my neighbours until Jo got killed.

“And I know everybody on my street now. Because what they did, they scooped me up and looked after me when I needed it, and that just shows you the power of community.”

Ms Leadbeater said her ­sister developed an interest in combating loneliness when she found herself feeling alone as a student at Cambridge University.

She said: “We all have this outside persona that everything’s great and we’re having this fantastic time but often it’s not like that.

“Jo and I were really close when we were growing up - we did everything together.

“When she went away to university, she entered this world of Cambridge, which was a very intimidating place for a working-class northern girl.”

But Ms Leadbeater said her sister would have wanted the report to move from words to action. “Talking about things is fantastic but let’s get on with it,” she said.

The cross-party commission was established by Mrs Cox when she was the Labour MP for Batley and Spen.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640814.1513375986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640814.1513375986!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Kim Leadbeater (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Kim Leadbeater (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640814.1513375986!/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/slow-economic-growth-to-hit-scottish-tax-intake-by-2-1bn-1-4640398","id":"1.4640398","articleHeadline": "Slow economic growth to hit Scottish tax intake by £2.1bn","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513361251000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s public services are set to lose more than £2 billion in income tax receipts over the next four years as a result of slowing economic growth, the Conservatives have warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640397.1513351377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay's budget came with "subdued" growth forecasts"} ,"articleBody": "

Disappointing growth forecasts predicted by the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) have seen a downwards revision of the income tax revenue, which will be collected in Scotland.

Forecasts made by the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC) showed lower than expected growth with GDP reaching just 0.7 per cent next year and only rising to 1.1 per cent by 2022.

READ MORE: Scotland set to lag behind UK with growth below 1% until 2022

The SFC warned that growth would be “subdued” and well below the two per cent experienced before the financial crisis. Scotland’s GDP is also expected to lag behind the rest of the UK.

The SFC report “Scotland’s Economic and Fiscal Forecasts December 2017”, published alongside Derek Mackay’s budget, warns: “The outlook for income tax is driven by the outlook for earnings and employment. Slow growth in the economy means slow growth in income tax revenues. As a result, the Commission is forecasting significantly lower revenue from income tax than previously forecast by the Scottish Government.”

READ MORE: Scottish Budget 2017: Private schools hit with £5m rates hike

When the SFC’s forecasts are compared with official Scottish Government projections made in February this year Scotland is now expected to raise £2.1 billion less.

Next year alone (2018/19), the lost revenue due to lower growth is expected to be £205 million compared to projections earlier this year.

READ MORE: Scottish Budget 2017: Income tax to be increased

That figure arises from the difference between February’s forecast of £12,320 million to £12,115 million this week.

A similar effect is predicted for 2019/20 when February’s forecast has been revised down from £12,943 million to £12,582 million – a difference of £361 million.

In 2020/21 the forecasts have been revised down from £13,681 million to £13,084 million – a reduction of £597 million.

While 2021/22 has seen the forecast revised down from £14,595 million to £13,662 million – a reduction in tax take of £933 million.

When the overall difference between February’s forecasts and this week’s SFC revised estimates were calculated the total came to almost a £2.1 billion loss of income tax receipts.

Shadow Finance Secretary Murdo Fraser made the point that the reduction in tax take for each of the next four years was more than the £164 million that ministers expect to raise from their reformed income tax system.

Mr Mackay’s budget announced two new tax bands that would deliver a small tax cut for the lower paid, but would see all those earning more than £26,000 pay more income tax than their counterparts in the rest of the UK.

Mr Fraser MSP said: “Thanks to the coming Sturgeon slowdown, the Scottish Government is projected to raise £2 billion less than expected over the remainder of this Parliament. That’s £2 billion less going to schools and hospitals because of the failure to match levels of growth we are seeing elsewhere in the UK.
“The SNP’s answer is to introduce a new Nat Tax - but these figures show if we had higher growth, there would be no need to do so.
“The SNP’s Nat tax isn’t just a broken promise, it’s bad economics. Hanging a sign at the border saying higher taxes will drive away jobs and leave Scotland further behind other parts of the UK.
“Nicola Sturgeon broke her promise on tax this week. She said she wouldn’t increase taxes on basic rate taxpayers, but that’s exactly what she’s done. 
“It is time she apologised, and instead focussed her government on delivering the growth we need to support our vital public services.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “There is no black hole. The independent Scottish Fiscal Commission – who provide these figures for the budget – clearly state that revenues rise year-on-year.

“Under the Fiscal Framework, all forecasts of the Income Tax revenues are founded on revenues in 2016-17, the year before devolution of full Scottish income tax powers.

“The SFC forecast that growth in Income Tax revenues will outstrip growth in the rest of the UK and provide extra support for public services. Far from their being a black hole, therefore, Scotland is on course to outperform the rest of the UK.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640397.1513351377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640397.1513351377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Derek Mackay's budget came with "subdued" growth forecasts","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay's budget came with "subdued" growth forecasts","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640397.1513351377!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5680204816001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-talks-progress-to-second-phase-1-4640698","id":"1.4640698","articleHeadline": "Brexit talks progress to second phase","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513361123000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May has declared she is “well on the road” to delivering Brexit, after leaders of the 27 remaining member states agreed to allow negotiations to proceed to their second phase.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640697.1513361128!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British Prime Minister Theresa May . Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister made clear she wanted talks on post-Brexit trade relations with the EU to begin “straight away”, as the UK continues with its goal of negotiating a deal which can be signed immediately after the official date of departure on March 29 2019.

Her target was described as “realistic” but “dramatically difficult” to achieve by the president of the European Council, Donald Tusk.

Mrs May was boosted by the terms of a statement agreed by the EU27 at the European Council summit in Brussels, which left the door open for “exploratory contacts” early in the New Year to allow Brussels to gain greater “clarity” on the UK’s ambitions.

READ MORE: Paris Gourtsoyannis: May’s Brexit deal is actually a trap

But the formal process is likely to run to a slower timetable, with official EU guidelines for trade talks not due to be approved until March 2018, when European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said the “real negotiations” would begin.

The EU27 confirmed Brussels’ position that a final trade deal cannot be signed until the UK has formally left.

The four-page document also sets out the process for agreeing the terms of a transition period expected to last two years after the date of Brexit.

And it makes clear that the EU expects the UK to observe all of its rules - including on freedom of movement - and accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice during this time.

It also set up a potential clash with London over Mrs May’s hopes of negotiating early trade agreements with countries outside the EU, stating firmly that the UK will stay in the single market and customs union during transition and will “continue to comply with EU trade policy”, which bars deals by individual states.

Speaking in her Maidenhead constituency, Mrs May told the Press Association that the move to the second phase of talks represented “an important step on the road to delivering the smooth and orderly Brexit that people voted for in June of last year”.

She said Britain would be “beginning the talks about our future relationship straight away”, adding: “There is still more to do but we are well on the road to delivering a Brexit that will make Britain strong, prosperous and secure.”

With Cabinet ministers due to discuss their preferred “end state” relationship with Europe for the first time next Tuesday, pressure is mounting on Mrs May to deliver a detailed statement on her aims which the EU will regard as an adequate basis to enter swiftly into substantive talks.

Asked whether Mrs May’s goal of concluding negotiations by March 2019 was achievable, Mr Tusk said: “It is still realistic and of course dramatically difficult.”

READ MORE: Brexit: Theresa May facing ‘real possibility’ of Withdrawal Bill defeat

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640697.1513361128!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640697.1513361128!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "British Prime Minister Theresa May . Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British Prime Minister Theresa May . Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640697.1513361128!/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/lawyers-to-turn-their-backs-on-police-duty-work-1-4640661","id":"1.4640661","articleHeadline": "Lawyers to turn their backs on police duty work","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513360698000 ,"articleLead": "

Lawyers belonging to one of the country’s largest bar associations will no longer provide on-call legal advice in police interviews amid concern over an “enormous” increase in their workload.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640660.1513359650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New rules on police interviews come into force in January"} ,"articleBody": "

The Edinburgh Bar Association (EBA) said it was withdrawing from the police station duty scheme ahead of new legislation coming into force next month.

Under the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act, all police suspects will have the right to a solicitor, and those considered vulnerable will no longer be able to waive that right.

The EBA said the Scottish Government had repeatedly failed to listen to its concerns over the burden the changes would put on the “ever-reducing” number of solicitors prepared to do duty work.

In a statement, it said: “The Edinburgh Bar Association has engaged at every opportunity throughout the past year in the hope that it could continue to offer assistance in the provision of legal advice sought by those who

find themselves in a position of extreme vulnerability.

“The fact that the amendment which we suggested in September has not been mentioned at any time during the passage of these regulations has served to highlight a complete disregard for the concerns which this body has

consistently raised.”

It added: The association takes the view that it would be unreasonable – and indeed irresponsible – to advise its members to offer to service the police station duty scheme when the burdens which will be placed upon their ever-reducing number will increase enormously.

“Accordingly, the unanimous view of the membership of the association is that it will cease to do so.”

Changes to the legislation were made following the landmark Cadder case, where the Supreme Court ruled the defendant had his human rights infringed as he was interviewed by police without a solicitor present.

While new pay rates for solicitors providing police station advice are due to come into force next month, there is a dwindling number of lawyers prepared to carry out on-call work.

Ian Moir, convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s legal aid committee said: “During our discussions with the Scottish Government, we highlighted the implications of solicitors being expected to provide legal advice at police stations around the clock.

This could have a particular impact on those solicitors with young children or with other caring responsibilities. The proposed rates of legal aid also fall well short of what we consider to be fair and reasonable.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Legal Aid Board said: “We will be contacting the EBA to discuss their concerns. “The new regulations introduce increased fees, extended unsocial hours payments and a simplified payment system.

“Solicitors will continue to be available for police station work from a mix of private firms and our employed solicitors to assist solicitors who are not able to respond to requests from their clients for assistance.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "chris.marshall@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4640660.1513359650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640660.1513359650!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "New rules on police interviews come into force in January","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New rules on police interviews come into force in January","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4640660.1513359650!/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/nicola-sturgeon-criticises-enraged-tories-over-tax-rises-1-4640552","id":"1.4640552","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon criticises ‘enraged’ Tories over tax rises","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1513355630000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has described the Conservative reaction to the SNP’s plan to raise taxes for the wealthiest Scots as “staggering” as the parties continue to digest yesterday’s budget.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4640550.1513354878!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon and finance secretary Derek Mackay at the Scottish Parliament following yesterday's draft budget announcement. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister took to social media to defend finance secretary Derek Mackay’s announcement that a new five band system of income tax would be introduced from spring 2018, which will mean those on a salary of £33,000 will pay more.

Tory finance spokesman Murdo Fraser dubbed the rise a “Nat tax” and claimed it broke a direct manifesto pledge to protect basic rate tax payers.

“In May 2016, 65 per cent of voters placed a cross in the box for parties opposed to further tax hikes, but their voices have been ignored by a Government that prefers to take direction from the high tax, low growth Green Party,” he wrote in The Scotsman.

But Ms Sturgeon hit out at the Tories, claiming their party had overseen cuts at Westminster which had hampered the most vulnerable in society.

In a tweet, she said: “It is staggering how enraged Scot Tories are at those on higher incomes being asked to pay a little bit more to protect public services (while the 70% on low and middle incomes get small tax cut) - but don’t bat an eyelid when their own party cuts the incomes of disabled people.”

READ MORE: Scottish Budget 2017: How SNP tax reform affects you

Meanwhile, Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said today his party’s goal in budget negotiations was to ensure “local services should not suffer a real terms cut”. He added that reports the Greens were demanding an extra £150m for councils as “misleading”.

He said: “We’ll examine the budget in detail and discuss with local government colleagues, then negotiate in good faith.”

Green MSP Andy Wightman said in an interview with BBC Scotland that councils had for years been treated as “second cousins” in Scotland’s political system.

He added: “We want a real terms increase (in council budgets) and that would involve somewhere in the region of £150m as I calculate it this morning”.

It is likely the SNP, who lack an overall majority, will need to rely on Green votes to pass their draft budget bill.

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