{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/extinction-rebellion-is-part-of-our-capitalist-system-bill-jamieson-1-4909600","id":"1.4909600","articleHeadline": "Extinction Rebellion is part of our capitalist system – Bill Jamieson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555563600000 ,"articleLead": "

Climate change activists like the members of Extinction Rebellion are part of our capitalist system, which provides the best way to save the planet from the perils of climate change, writes Bill Jamieson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909441.1555525985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Climate change activism took to the streets this week – traffic chaos in London and Edinburgh, transport disrupted, street demonstrations and police arrests.

Supporters of Extinction Rebellion set out to disrupt “business as usual” and highlight the “climate and ecological catastrophe unfolding across the globe”. Scotland saw some 30 arrests and in London up to 500,000 people were affected by the diversion of 55 bus routes.

More is likely to follow. Prominent among the protestors was an organisation called the Green Anti-Capitalist Front. It accuses capitalism of “killing the Earth ... Without the imposed scarcity of capitalism and the alienation and isolation it causes,“ its leaflet claimed, “we would be able to build communities which fulfil everybody’s needs while reducing our environmental impact to a manageable level”. The choice, it concluded, was between “a future where we can flourish, or a capitalist-induced hellscape awaiting us if we do nothing”.

Not all the demonstrators might go all the way with Guardian columnist George Monbiot’s declaration that “we have to overthrow this system which is eating the planet with perpetual growth”. But I suspect the sentiment is widely shared by those glueing themselves to lorries and blocking the streets of our major cities: ‘Capitalism’ is the enemy of climate action and sustainability and it is only through government intervention that change can be made.

It is a view that is as poorly informed as it is self-defeating, for it is the opposite that is more true. It is ‘capitalism’ – the system driven by the choices and actions of millions of consumers and producers – that is the most effective means of delivering change and improvement. To this extent, climate change activism and campaigns for sustainability are part and parcel of capitalist progression, the means by which consumers – and increasingly investors – are compelling changes in consumer choice and corporate behaviour. And it is through this process of reform and adaptation that our best prospects lie.

READ MORE: Edinburgh police say 29 people arrested during Extinction Rebellion protest

Already there is an irreversible swing away from fossil fuels. Alternative energy sources from wind farms to solar panels are a growing feature of modern life. There is a constant drive for technological gain and improvement. Our homes are better and more efficiently powered and built. Petrol-driven vehicles are under challenge from the electric car on which billions of pounds have been invested. Emission standards have improved massively from 30 years ago. And in innumerable areas of consumer behaviour we are making wiser and more informed choices – from food to household products, toiletries to clothing.

Of course, we can despair that we could be doing better; that the pace of lifestyle change is not faster, that bad habits persist. But that is all the more reason why the forces driving change should not lose heart and should redouble their efforts.

Nor is pressure for environmental protection and sustainability coming from consumers alone. A growing number of institutional shareholders are making commitment to sustainability a key requirement for the companies in which they invest. Earlier this week, Legal & General Investment Management, the largest money manager in the UK with £1 trillion worth of pension fund money, warned that the world is facing a climate catastrophe and businesses around the world must address it urgently or face the ultimate sanction for a public company – investor boycott.

Its climate warning was the top of a list of concerns about the way companies are run. And here it is not alone. The fund managers who are pulling their investments out of fossil fuels include the World Council of Churches, the Rockefeller family and insurance giants AXA and Allianz. Collectively their portfolios are said to total about £7 trillion and they will increasingly influence firms with discretion over their use of fossil fuels. Many other investment management companies have also adopted environmental sustainability metrics while others have launched specific ‘sustainability’ funds.

READ MORE: Climate change: Where Extinction Rebellion is going wrong – Martyn McLaughlin

In all this, government has a role in setting standards and adopting tax policies that encourage companies to innovate and adapt. But it cannot be left to government alone, or for activists to assume that government ownership and control will assure a cleaner, safer environment. We surely learnt that lesson with Chernobyl and the industrial devastation exposed in eastern Europe when the Iron Curtain came down. And we are learning it again with China, where the pursuit of growth has wrought far more environmental damage than that which Monbiot and others have accused the West. ‘Capitalism’ is not the enemy of climate change activism – rather the means by which it can drive forward that constant need for innovation, adaptation and life improvement.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909441.1555525985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909441.1555525985!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Climate protesters join Extinction Rebellion Scotland as they form a road block on the North Bridge. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909441.1555525985!/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/notre-dame-donations-virtue-signalling-for-a-tax-break-bill-jamieson-1-4909603","id":"1.4909603","articleHeadline": "Notre-Dame donations: Virtue-signalling for a tax break? – Bill Jamieson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555563600000 ,"articleLead": "

Barely had the flames died down at Notre-Dame Cathedral than pledges of financial support for rebuilding began to pour in, writes Bill Jamieson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909601.1555525994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Notre-Dame is to be rebuilt 'even more beautifully' (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty)"} ,"articleBody": "

A combined €800 million (£692 million) has already been pledged by a number of companies and business tycoons to help rebuild the Unesco World Heritage site in Paris.

The astonishing reverence for Notre Dame – by no means confined to France – is testimony to the huge emotional power that centuries-old buildings have over our lives.

They are integral to our national story, part and parcel of where we came from and who we are.

READ MORE: Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris suffers ‘colossal damage’ in inferno

Their magnetic attraction is well beyond their modern religious significance and reflects our constant desire to reaffirm our distinctive identity and belonging.

The French President, Emmanuel Macron, has vowed it will be rebuilt “even more beautifully” and has pledged all donations will be tax deductible and set aside in a special fund. But the enormity of the response so far has already sparked misgivings that so much is being pledged for a physical building when the faith it represents has constantly espoused charitable works and the imperative to help the poor and the suffering.

Excessive virtue signalling for a tax break? Restoration work will be extensive and will take many years to complete.

But before this gets underway, searching questions will be asked as to whether the ultimate cost fairly reflects the underlying purpose and mission of the original building. Meanwhile, there may be an opportunity here to demonstrate how modern technology can be put to best use to preserve this astonishing building for another 800 years.

A hologram spire, for example, visible from space?

READ MORE: Brian Pendreigh: Parisians take Notre-Dame’s ruin in their stride

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Bill Jamieson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909601.1555525994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909601.1555525994!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Notre-Dame is to be rebuilt 'even more beautifully' (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Notre-Dame is to be rebuilt 'even more beautifully' (Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909601.1555525994!/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-under-fire-for-fall-in-scottish-college-staffing-levels-1-4909639","id":"1.4909639","articleHeadline": "SNP under fire for fall in Scottish college staffing levels","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555563600000 ,"articleLead": "

Staffing numbers in Scotland’s colleges have plummeted by more than 1,700 in just over a decade according to official figures.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4895977.1555531273!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Staffing numbers have fallen across Scottish colleges. Picture: Scott Louden"} ,"articleBody": "

The number of full-time staff working at colleges in Scotland has fallen by 13.5 per cent since 2007 with numbers of teaching staff also dropping by 12.7 per cent.

The analysis of the Scottish Funding Council figures by Scottish Labour shows there were 12,653 full-time equivalent employees at colleges across the country in 2007/2008, but this had dropped to 10,942 by 2017/18. Full time teaching staff numbers fell from 6,311 to 5,512.

The statistics were revealed as college staff prepare for three more days of strike action next month in a bid to increase the 2 per cent, over three years, pay rise that has been offered by Colleges Scotland.

Labour’s education spokesman Iain Gray claimed the figures highlighted a failure by the SNP to support Scotland’s further education sector.

“Colleges are key to jobs and growth, not to mention their important role in widening access to opportunities for disadvantaged young people,” he said.

“Since the SNP took power, and their subsequent botched regionalisation of the sector, further education in Scotland has suffered. Colleges have faced under-investment, students numbers have plummeted by 120,000 and staff numbers have also declined.”

He added: “What’s more, staff and students are working in buildings in need of repairs totalling hundreds of millions of pounds. Hard-working lecturers are now also engaged in industrial action over a cost-of-living pay rise to which they are entitled. For too long further education has been seen by the SNP as the poor relation. That must end.”

Lecturers have already carried out four one-day strikes and have agreed to other industrial action including refusing to record student results in their employer’s results system and a withdrawal of goodwill.

The Educational Institute of Scotland – Further Education Lecturers’ Association Lecturers has said teaching staff are “asking only to be treated fairly, and to receive a pay settlement that reflects the rising cost of living.”

Scottish Conservative children and young people spokeswoman Alison Harris said the staffing figures were further evidence “of the damaging cuts imposed by the SNP on our college sector.

“Each year colleges help prepare thousands of people for employment, yet thanks to SNP cuts we’ve seen a drastic fall in student numbers and now staff.

“We need to give this sector the support it needs not only for the benefits it provides to students, but to the economy as well.”

However the Scottish Government refuted the Labour analysis and said: “Since college regionalisation in 2013, college lecturer headcount figures have increased by 400, and full time equivalent have increased by 100. We continue to support the college sector through significant capital and revenue investment. Since 2007, we have invested more than £6 billion into Scotland’s colleges.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4895977.1555531273!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4895977.1555531273!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Staffing numbers have fallen across Scottish colleges. Picture: Scott Louden","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Staffing numbers have fallen across Scottish colleges. Picture: Scott Louden","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4895977.1555531273!/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/snp-overplays-its-hand-over-horrendous-rape-clause-kenny-macaskill-1-4909257","id":"1.4909257","articleHeadline": "SNP overplays its hand over horrendous ‘rape clause’ – Kenny MacAskill","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555563600000 ,"articleLead": "

After a row breaks out over the SNP’s criticism of the UK Government’s benefits ‘rape clause’ and the Scottish Government’s refusal to offset its effects in Scotland, Kenny MacAskill writes that the party needs to be careful not to overplay its hand.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909256.1555508869!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shirley-Anne Somerville attacked the Tories then ran for cover, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: John Devlin)"} ,"articleBody": "

The rape clause spat is what irritates ordinary folk about politicians. There’s logic in both arguments and yet an absolute position is taken by all sides.

The two-child cap on tax credits – unless the mother can show a third or subsequent child was born through rape – is horrendous. It’s degrading and inflicting misery – both food banks and appalling levels of child poverty testify to that.

Campaigners are right to call it out and Alison Thewliss has been relentless in her pursuit of the UK Government. Yet, it’s also correct that the Scottish Government has the powers to mitigate it, even if it comes at a hefty price tag.

Of course, it’s all part of a Tory plan to either minimise or share the blame, with the Scottish Government required to either suck it up or soak it up. They can plug the gap or pay a political price.

READ MORE: Tory MSP claims ‘there is no such thing as a rape clause’

But that’s always been known. Some see it as a benefit of devolution, others as a trap. It’s also the case that not every cut can be offset by Holyrood. The bill would be too high, nevermind restricting the priorities of the Scottish administration.

But the SNP are hoist by their own petard on this. If it’s so awful, and I think it is, then they have a duty to at least try and mitigate it or explain why they can’t.

Had they left it to their Westminster MPs, they could have avoided any seeming acceptance of responsibility, but perhaps understandably they argued more broadly than that. Had they explained the costs and referred to their limited budget that too may have been acceptable in public eyes. Given other pressing needs, it may well be a price too high for Holyrood and something only Westminster can fix. But instead the Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville lambasted the Tories and then ran for cover, her seeming intransigence undermining Alison Thewliss’ efforts. It’s a lesson not to play overplay their hand. The SNP needs to learn to pick its battlegrounds and ensure it can afford its powers and Westminster has to foot the bill for those that are too expensive. Otherwise leave it to Westminster colleagues to argue.

READ MORE: UN committee demands repeal of so-called ‘rape clause’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kenny MacAskill"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909256.1555508869!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909256.1555508869!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shirley-Anne Somerville attacked the Tories then ran for cover, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: John Devlin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shirley-Anne Somerville attacked the Tories then ran for cover, says Kenny MacAskill (Picture: John Devlin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909256.1555508869!/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/why-eu-elections-could-break-tory-party-kenny-macaskill-1-4909327","id":"1.4909327","articleHeadline": "Why EU elections could break Tory party – Kenny MacAskill","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555563600000 ,"articleLead": "

There’s been much written about Brexit and, unfortunately, there’s even more to come. But all its absurdity is surely encapsulated in the European elections, writes Kenny MacAskill.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898628.1558072490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Mark Duffy/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Will the vote be held, if it is, will elected members even take up their seats and, if so, just who might be returned?

It’s also a microcosm of the increasing costs of the whole palaver. Holding the elections in 2014 is estimated to have cost £109 million. Costs are hardly likely to have fallen since then and both late notice and perhaps even increased security may well add to them.

Even if they’re cancelled, there’ll expenses incurred that require to be met from printing documentation, booking venues and making other standard preparations. It’ll all be added to the growing bill from the haemorrhaging of Japanese industry and inward investment, to the booking of non-existent ships and the preparation for ‘Armageddon’. All for zero return as the supposed compensatory upsides have proven illusory. It’s no wonder that the Tories are desperate to avoid them, even if appears that Theresa May’s doing her best to ensure they proceed. You’d have thought that returning from her humiliation in Brussels, with encouragement, if not threats from Europe ringing in her ears, would have seen her set to with a will. The elections are set for 23 May and the European Parliament meets again on 2 July.

READ MORE: Richard Leonard: ‘EU election must not be about Scottish and British nationalism’

Instead of getting to work, the UK Parliament has gone into recess and she has gone walkabout with her husband. Time is short but you literally couldn’t make it up.

What’s even more inexplicable about her behaviour is that if the elections do take place – and its looking increasingly likely that they will – then the Tories will get a political thrashing of Flashman severity.

There’ll be little public sympathy, let alone party support, for the posh boys and girls put up for the whipping but it’ll be brutal for the Tories as a whole.

Their vote’s already in freefall and, with the party divided, nevermind their supporters deriding the election itself, it’ll plummet to a level that a major party hasn’t seen in my lifetime. There’s hostility on the doorsteps and desertion in the ranks. The impact will be felt by local council candidates as much as Euro election ones. That’ll see increased demands for Theresa May’s head, fuelling further division within the party. The slow trickle of defections will accelerate and the civil war intensify.

If the strategy is to do a deal with Labour that gets her off the hook of holding the election, then you’d have thought she’d have prioritised that – not waltz off to the hills.

But, at best, Labour would force not just a customs union but other unpalatable surrenders, negating the whole Brexit argument and further dividing the party. What may be acceptable to Corbyn is an anathema to the ERG Tories, and the DUP seems set to reject anything but an absolutist position. All the while, the Irish border issue remains unresolved and discussions to reach an accord don’t even seem to have got around to that yet. But, why should Labour even do a deal? They face difficulties themselves if they’re seen to bail out the sworn enemy, let alone abandon a People’s Vote. Far better to let the Tories stew and, after all, Labour will do reasonably well in these elections, though not in Scotland.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens hopeful of ousting Ukip at European elections

They’ll most likely top the UK poll, even if at low level, with so many non-mainstream parties popping up. That at least bolsters Corbyn and sets them up for a general election. I do feel sorry for the European Parliament about the people who might well be returned as MEPs from the UK. Farage and UKIP were odious enough but his new Brexit Party are even more sinister. Sadly, they’ll probably blend in well, as it’s certain that equally malevolent parties will be returned from all across the EU. So, if the EU elections do take place, they’ll tell us little other than what a mess the Tories are in and what a price we’re all paying for this self-inflicted disaster. Although the costs might be worth paying if it’s what finally breaks the Tory Party.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kenny MacAskill"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4898628.1558072490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4898628.1558072490!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Mark Duffy/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Mark Duffy/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4898628.1558072490!/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/scottish-businesses-hampered-and-weakened-by-brexit-cloud-1-4909644","id":"1.4909644","articleHeadline": "Scottish businesses hampered and weakened by ‘Brexit cloud’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555563600000 ,"articleLead": "

The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has taken its toll on the confidence of Scottish businesses and is “hampering” the country’s ability to compete internationally, a report has warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909643.1555532069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Businesses are struggling amid a 'Brexit cloud'. Picture: Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

Uncertainty over the UK’s departure from the EU has caused the health of the Scottish economy to “weaken considerably” in the first few months of this year, according to the Scottish Chambers of Commerce.

In its new analysis with the Fraser of Allander Institute, the SCC has found that although businesses are still “relatively resilient”, the “cloud of Brexit” is making it difficult for firms to consider long-term plans.

Earlier this month, an extension was agreed with the EU to extend Article 50 until October 31, unless the UK is able to agree on a process for withdrawal before then.

Tim Allan, president of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The prospect of a no-deal Brexit has undoubtedly taken a toll on business confidence in Scotland in the first quarter of 2019. Companies in Scotland are caught in a pincer movement of business challenges.

“On one hand, businesses are faced with increased cost pressures due to currency weakness and higher wages, and on the other they are hit by the dampening effects of political turmoil caused by the ongoing uncertainty of our future relationship with the EU.

“There is an immediate urgency to deal with Brexit, which is hampering our ability to compete on the international stage. We see this borne out in the decline in confidence, difficulties in recruitment and challenges in exporting.

“Furthermore, restraint on plans to invest will do nothing to solve Scotland’s ongoing productivity challenge which requires sustained levels of investment in skills and training if we are to see the shift the economy needs.”

The SCC’s quarterly economic indicator is Scotland’s longest running survey of its kind, operating since 1990. Its latest findings come just two days after it was revealed Scotland’s unemployment figures had reached a record low at 3.3 per cent.

Mr Allan added: “Our survey has shown some real areas of robustness which highlights the resilience of Scottish businesses and their resolve to stay focused on creating jobs and paying taxes to fund vital public services. But the pressure on Scottish firms is rising, with the prospect of increased costs due to inflation, currency volatility, Brexit preparations and the prospect of increased taxation remaining as top concerns for all sectors.”

Professor Graeme Roy, director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, said: “The lack of clarity about the UK’s terms of exit from the EU continues to cast a shadow over day-to-day decision making, with businesses clearly struggling to make long-term plans in such times. Weak business investment has been a feature of recent times, and this latest survey shows that firms are becoming even more reluctant to make investment decisions at this present time. “This is an unwelcome sign given the key role that investment plays in boosting productivity.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909643.1555532069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909643.1555532069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Businesses are struggling amid a 'Brexit cloud'. Picture: Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Businesses are struggling amid a 'Brexit cloud'. Picture: Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909643.1555532069!/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-criticised-in-leaked-conversation-on-trans-rights-1-4908971","id":"1.4908971","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon criticised in leaked conversation on trans rights","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555528806000 ,"articleLead": "

The leaking of a private conversation between three female SNP politicians criticising Nicola Sturgeon’s stance on transgender rights has exposed deep divisions in the party over the controversial issue.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869442.1555498927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

MSPs Gillian Martin, Ash Denham and Ruth Maguire said the First Minister was “out of step” with the views of the SNP group at Holyrood over the impact on women of possible changes to the Gender Recognition Act.

The women’s conversation, made in Twitter’s private direct mail function, was leaked online yesterday. It shows an apparent exasperation at the First Minister’s comment that she did not see “the greater recognition of transgender rights as a threat to me as a woman or to my feminism”.

READ MORE: Hard recession awaits Scotland if UK crashes out in no-deal Brexit

In response the three SNP MSPs said that Ms Sturgeon was “a bit out of step with the feelings of her own group” of parliamentarians. They also suggested the SNP group’s concerns had not been shared with the First Minister by Cabinet Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville.

The Scotsman understands that Ms Somerville met a number of SNP MSPs earlier this year to discuss their concerns about the proposed GRA changes which would allow people to “self-declare” as the opposite gender.

Currently those seeking to change gender have to live in the preferred gender for two years and be diagnosed with gender dysphoria by a doctor to gain a Gender Recognition Certificate. Some women’s groups believe the change to self-declaration will erase women’s sex-protected rights and undermine data which is dependent on knowing if a person is a man or a woman.

The debate over the legal changes has been branded “toxic” and one Scottish MSP. Joan McAlpine, has spoken publicly about her concerns, and has since been bombarded with abuse by trans campaigners and threatened with de-selection. Ms Maguire, who is convener of Holyrood’s equalities committee, has also been criticised for thanking Ms McAlpine for raising the issue.

The private conversation was made public yesterday by an SNP member, Jordan Henderson, who has worked for Ash Denham MSP in the past.

In his tweet which shows the MSPs’ conversation, Mr Henderson says: “Deeply concerning to see this conversation between SNP elected members claiming the FM is out of step for backing trans rights in Scotland. @theSNP and @NicolaSturgeon must act.”

An SNP source said: “This was a private conversation and we know that staff can have access to MSPs Twitter accounts, so it will be extremely hurtful for the MSPs involved to think that one of their staff has leaked this to Jordan Henderson.

“The fact remains that the majority of SNP MSPs are concerned about the impact of transgender self-identification on women’s rights and this should be able to be raised publicly without abuse. This kind of leak doesn’t help that happen.”

However an SNP spokesperson said: “The SNP supports trans rights and women’s rights as part of our commitment to human rights and equality.

“Trans people must be able to live their lives without facing unnecessary barriers and discrimination.

“It is important that any discussion on trans rights and women’s rights is discussed respectfully.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "Gina.Davidson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Gina Davidson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4869442.1555498927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4869442.1555498927!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4869442.1555498927!/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-2-15012/kezia-dugdale-this-case-was-never-about-the-definition-of-homophobia-1-4909617","id":"1.4909617","articleHeadline": "Kezia Dugdale: ‘This case was never about the definition of homophobia’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555527747000 ,"articleLead": "

For two long years, this legal case has been hanging over me. It has caused me, my family and my friends, deep distress and anxiety - and there have been some very difficult days along the way. Yesterday was a moment of immense relief.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909616.1555527743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale"} ,"articleBody": "

I don’t have space in this article to mention all those who supported me, but to every single person who wrote to me or sent me a supportive Tweet: thank you.

I read them all. They came from supporters of all political parties and none. They lifted me up during the dark days.

But yesterday’s victory wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Daily Record newspaper, which stood by me at every step of the journey.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for the UK leadership of my own party, but I am grateful for the support of so many people within the Labour movement, including many fellow MSPs.

Yesterday’s result was an important judgement for the right to free speech and a healthy Press. The ruling clearly demonstrates that every citizen is entitled to make comments, provided they are fair and reflect honestly held views.

This case was never about the definition of homophobia. It was about whether a citizen can make a fair comment and not end up in court.

The result is good news for people the length and breadth of Scotland, and it’s particularly good news for columnists writing in this newspaper and other newspapers.

I am a fierce protector of a free Press. High quality, trusted and professional journalism is needed more than ever.

It is essential to our democracy, which is why I believe that growing the sector instead of making further cuts should be a priority.

In recent months, while this case has been rumbling on, much has been made of the intemperate language in our politics today. In court, there was discussion about “poison arrows” being fired.

Separately, politicians at Westminster have been branded “traitors” in recent weeks and forced to take security measures to protect themselves and their families. In Scotland, MSPs have found themselves subjected to vile threats via social media.

It’s time to clean up our politics. When our communities are so deeply divided, there is a duty on all of us to work harder to promote respect and understanding, the good that politics and the political process does all in pursuit of a more tolerant and just society.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kezia Dugdale"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909616.1555527743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909616.1555527743!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909616.1555527743!/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/wings-over-scotland-vs-kezia-dugdale-case-hinged-on-this-key-question-1-4909611","id":"1.4909611","articleHeadline": "Wings Over Scotland vs Kezia Dugdale case hinged on this key question","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555526431000 ,"articleLead": "

The defamation case brought by Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell against Labour MSP Kezia Dugdale raised important questions about free speech.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4895341.1555526428!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (Picture: John Devlin)"} ,"articleBody": "

After his defamation case against Kezia Dugdale was thrown out, the Wings Over Scotland blogger Stuart Campbell wrote that “in almost every sense that the case was brought, we’ve actually won”.

And, indeed, the sheriff’s written judgement agreed with Campbell on two key points: that he “does not hold homophobic beliefs or feelings ... [and] has demonstrated by his conduct over many years that he supports equality for homosexual people” and that his tweet which sparked the dispute “was not motivated by homophobia and did not contain homophobic comments”. This will go a long way to healing the reputational damage he suffered as a result of the Labour MSP’s claim that the tweet – “Oliver Mundell is the sort of public speaker that makes you wish his dad had embraced his homosexuality sooner” – was homophobic.

READ MORE: Kezia Dugdale wins defamation case against Wings Over Scotland

However, the sheriff decided that even though Dugdale’s opinion was wrong, the comments she made were still “fair” and dismissed the blogger’s claim for damages of £25,000. “The law of defamation allows redress for damaging comments about character, but it also recognises that a balance must be struck with competing public values, such as free speech,” the judgment said. “It recognises that there is significant public interest in allowing people to freely express opinions without fear of legal penalty. Accordingly not every damaging comment about character will result in legal liability for harm or distress.”

This case may have attracted headlines partly because of the fame of the two people involved, but it also had broader implications. If the ruling had gone in Campbell’s favour and he had been awarded substantial damages, then it could have had a discouraging effect on the challenging of other public remarks that did actually cross the line in terms of homophobia or other forms of prejudice.

Despite strict laws of defamation in Scotland and the UK, there has always been considerable latitude in the political sphere. For example, after David Lammy recently compared the ERG Tory MPs to the Nazis, the group’s leader Jacob Rees-Mogg responded by saying he “feels sorry” for the Labour MP. Freedom of speech is a key part of any functioning democracy. If politicians and political commentators start suing one another, debates that need to be thrashed out may not be.

READ MORE: Kezia Dugdale’s defamation case puts spotlight on power of new media bloggers

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4895341.1555526428!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4895341.1555526428!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (Picture: John Devlin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale (Picture: John Devlin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4895341.1555526428!/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/environment/climate-protesters-cause-london-chaos-by-climbing-on-trains-1-4909610","id":"1.4909610","articleHeadline": "Climate protesters cause London chaos by climbing on trains","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555526095000 ,"articleLead": "

Campaigners who climbed on top of a train and glued themselves to the roof have been arrested as the third day of climate change protests, which have caused serious disruption in London, continued.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909609.1555526091!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Climate activists on top of a Dockland Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station in east London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Two Extinction Rebellion (XR) demonstrators clambered aboard the carriage of a DLR train at Canary Wharf station in east London at around 11am yesterday.

The pair, a smartly dressed man and woman, glued their hands to the roof before being removed at around 12.40pm and taken away in a police van in the busy financial district.

More than 300 people have been arrested so far.

XR demonstrations have been taking place at Parliament Square, Waterloo Bridge, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch this week - with organisers saying protests will continue for a fortnight.

More than half a million people have been affected by road closures, traffic gridlock and disruption to transport and businesses since Monday.

Transport for London (TfL) said the DLR stunt caused only minor delays on the network.

On Wednesday, authorities disabled Wi-Fi at Tube stations in a bid to stop campaigners intent on disrupting Underground services from co-ordinating their efforts.

Scotland Yard said it is now “in the process of moving demonstrators on Waterloo Bridge” and “those that do not comply may be arrested”.

The group said the force made “loads of arrests” on Wednesday afternoon at its “international solidarity event” in Oxford Circus, and claims the cells in the capital are full and “operating on a one-in, one-out capacity”.

But the Metropolitan Police has said it has “contingency plans in place” should they run out of space.

XR has emerged as the premier protest movement for climate change activists.

Since its first demonstration last year, the group has injected fresh energy into the environmental cause, capturing headlines, recruits and high-profile supporters.

But some critics hit out at the group’s “seriously flawed” methods.

Sefan White, 24, who works for a company producing bar snacks in sustainable packaging, was stopped from getting to work on Wednesday.

He said: “I’m devastated. I’m trying to get to a job now. We’ve got to go round Camden on a 30-pub journey and we’re going to be late now.

“We’re probably going to lose money today.”

Music student Anouska Stahlmann said her ill mother and elderly grandparents had to walk part of their journey because of the risk of getting stuck in a tunnel while on the Tube.

The 20-year-old said: “I have no issue with wanting to better the environment and we’re fairly conscious of it as a family. Their methods, however, are seriously flawed and are not inclusive of people who want to support the cause.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909609.1555526091!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909609.1555526091!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Climate activists on top of a Dockland Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station in east London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Climate activists on top of a Dockland Light Railway train at Canary Wharf station in east London. Picture: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909609.1555526091!/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/poll-nigel-farage-s-brexit-party-in-the-lead-for-europe-elections-1-4909570","id":"1.4909570","articleHeadline": "Poll: Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in the lead for Europe elections","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555523399000 ,"articleLead": "

Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party has opened up a five-point lead in the next month’s elections to the European Parliament, according to a new opinion poll.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909569.1555523394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British politician and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage addresses the first public rally of their European Parliament election campaign in Birmingham. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

A YouGov poll, commissioned by the People’s Vote campaign, puts the Brexit Party on 27 per cent ahead of Labour on 22 per cent with the Conservatives trailing on 15 per cent.

The findings, which are weighted by likelihood to vote, represent a surge in support for the new party since a YouGov poll for The Times last week put them on 15 per cent – almost level-pegging with the Tories on 16 per cent, with Labour leading on 24 per cent.

READ MORE: Hard recession awaits Scotland if UK crashes out in no-deal Brexit

It follows the burst of publicity the Brexit Party received with the launch last week of its election campaign, when it was announced that Annunziata Rees-Mogg – the sister of the leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg – would be among its candidates.

It will reinforce fears among ministers the Conservatives are heading for a crushing defeat if the poll on 23 May goes ahead as planned – a result that would almost certainly see fresh calls for Theresa May to quit.

The Prime Minister has said she is determined to get a Brexit deal through Parliament before that date, which would mean voting would be cancelled.

However, that not only means winning a “meaningful vote” on a deal, which has already been rejected three times by the Commons, but also then passing a bill formally ratifying the agreement in law.

Much is likely to depend on whether cross-party talks with Labour can agree a common way forward, with the two sides expected to take stock of progress when MPs return to Westminster after the Easter recess.

The latest YouGov poll suggests some of the increase in support for the Brexit Party comes from Ukip voters switching to the new party, with Ukip down from 14 per cent last week to 7 per cent.

Among the pro-Remain parties, the Greens came top with 10 per cent, followed by the Liberal Democrats on 9 per cent, Change UK on 6 per cent and the SNP/Plaid Cymru on 4 per cent.

Meanwhile, the People’s Vote campaign, which backs a second referendum, said the findings suggested Labour could stop the Brexit Party topping the poll if it backed a public vote on whether to go ahead with Brexit.

The poll showed that in those circumstances, support for Labour would increase slightly to 23 per cent, while support for the Brexit Party dropped to 26 per cent.

However, if Labour’s manifesto commits it to going ahead with Brexit – even with a customs union which it is seeking to negotiate in the talks with the Government – its support drops to 15 per cent, level with the Conservatives and a resurgent Liberal Democrats.

Labour former foreign secretary and People’s Vote supporter Dame Margaret Beckett said if the party “hedge our bets” on a referendum, the Brexit Party would storm to victory.

“These elections have proven to be rich hunting grounds for Nigel Farage’s brand of extreme right wing politics before and may be again,” she said.

“But the message of this poll is loud and clear: it suggests that if anyone can stop Farage winning it is Labour – and only if we back a people’s vote.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said the campaign would be transformed if Labour came out in favour of remaining in the EU in a second referendum, although he doubted Jeremy Corbyn would be willing to do so.

“It would be a game changer if they made it absolutely clear that in a referendum campaign they would campaign to remain within the EU,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“I find it difficult to see they could do that given that Jeremy Corbyn has said repeatedly he is there to deliver Brexit, but it certainly would change the nature of the argument.”

Conservative former education secretary Justine Greening hinted that if the Tories became the Brexit party then she would quit.

Asked if she had considered leaving the Conservatives, Ms Greening told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: “It’s certainly a challenging time I think for me to be in the Conservative Party.

“For me it was about three things: it was about opportunity, a strong economy and well-managed public finances.

“And clearly I think if we become the Brexit party that really goes against those three core tenets of what I think being a Conservative Party member is all about.”

YouGov questioned 1,855 British adults between 15 and 16 April to compile the poll.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909569.1555523394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909569.1555523394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "British politician and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage addresses the first public rally of their European Parliament election campaign in Birmingham. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "British politician and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage addresses the first public rally of their European Parliament election campaign in Birmingham. Picture: Daniel Leal-Olivas/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909569.1555523394!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6026340026001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/patronising-extinction-rebellion-activist-storms-out-of-sky-news-interview-1-4909564","id":"1.4909564","articleHeadline": "‘Patronising’ Extinction Rebellion activist storms out of Sky News interview","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555520069000 ,"articleLead": "

Extinction Rebellion activist Robin Boardman stormed out of a Sky News interview after presenter Adam Boulton accused him of being “patronising” and engaging in “middle-class self-indulgence”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909563.1555520065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Activist Robin Boardman is interviewed by Sky News presenter Adam Boulton. Picture: Sky News"} ,"articleBody": "

The 21-year old activist had been discussing the campaign of “mass civil disobedience” that has hit London in recent days that is aiming to raise awareness of the issue of climate change.

He argued the protests, which have seen almost 300 people arrested and severe transport disruption across the British capital, are necessary, saying “mass disruption is the way to get people’s attention”.

READ MORE: Police arrest 29 people over Edinburgh climate change protest

Mr Boulton hit back telling him: “I feel very patronised by you because I feel that I’m well aware of what the situation is and I don’t see why millions of fellow citizens should be inconvenienced.”

He went to accuse the activist of behaving like a “right-wing fascist”.

“You sound like someone who wants to dictate to people how they want to live their lives,” he said.

Mr Boardman outlined the group’s three demands – for the Government to declare a “climate and ecological emergency”, the halting in decline of biodiversity and a “new democratic body” in the form of a citizen’s assembly.

Mr Boulton hit back saying: “You’re not really democratic at all, are you?

“You aren’t giving people a choice about having their lives disrupted. You’re not giving people a choice about what they think because you know that it’s right.”

He went on: “There is absolutely no democracy in this at all.”

Mr Boardman said: “People are going to die and if we don’t disrupt that possibility, then we are failing as a species. We’re failing people.

“I care so deeply, so deeply, about the people in this world and all the lives on it and I will not see it die. I will not see it go this way.”

The presenter pointed out the protest was taking place during the Parliamentary Easter recess and that ordinary Londoners were bearing the brunt of the impact of the protests.

He said: “After a week Parliament has left, you come here and cause disruption in Westminster. You are not even getting your message across.”

“You’re like the incompetent middle-class, self-indulgent people and you want to tell us how to live our lives. That’s what you are, aren’t you?”

Mr Boardman said: “People are not going to be able to put food on to their table, on their plates, and I won’t stand for that.”

“And I won’t stand for people who won’t stand up for what it means to live on this planet. And I won’t stand for anything else,” he said before walking out of the interview.

Activists from the group chained themselves to a Docklands Light Railway train in Canary Wharf on Wednesday morning in the latest incident in protests that have brought much of central London to a standstill.

Activists staging a mass sit in on Waterloo Bridge are being slowly removed by the Metropolitan Police, who are telling the demonstrators to move to a designated area at Marble Arch.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Albert Evans"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909563.1555520065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909563.1555520065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Activist Robin Boardman is interviewed by Sky News presenter Adam Boulton. Picture: Sky News","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Activist Robin Boardman is interviewed by Sky News presenter Adam Boulton. Picture: Sky News","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909563.1555520065!/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/average-scottish-house-prices-suffer-first-annual-fall-in-3-years-1-4909494","id":"1.4909494","articleHeadline": "Average Scottish house prices suffer first annual fall in 3 years","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555517418000 ,"articleLead": "

Property prices in Scotland dropped in February for the first time since March 2016, official figures have shown.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909123.1555517414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Average house prices in Scotland have fallen"} ,"articleBody": "

Registers of Scotland figures showed the average price of a property in Scotland in February 2019 was £145,762 – a decrease of 0.2 per cent on February in the previous year.

Aberdeen saw the greatest decrease, with prices falling seven per cent to an average of £149,435, while neighbouring Aberdeenshire also suffered a fall in values of 5.8 per cent.

READ MORE: Uncertainty causes average house prices to fall

Meanwhile, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that overall UK house prices are continuing to slow to the lowest annual increase in seven years, driven by dramatically falling prices in the previously buoyant market of London, where the value of a typical property slumped by 3.8 per cent.

Overall, prices rose just 1.7 per cent in January down to 0.6 per cent in February according to the latest official ONS figures – the lowest annual increase since September 2012. The average UK house price was £226,000 in February, £1,000 higher than a year ago.

North of the border, official figures showed that the biggest price increases were in Midlothian and Perth and Kinross where average prices increased by 9.9 per cent to £185,753 and 8.8 per cent to £192,631 respectively. Average price increases were recorded in the majority of local authorities – 22 out of 32 council areas – when comparing prices with the previous year.

Janet Egdell, accountable officer at Registers of Scotland, said: “The average price of a property in Scotland in February 2019 signalled the first annual decrease since March 2016, falling by 0.2 per cent in the year to February 2019.

“Prices increased in around two thirds of local authority areas and different property types showed a mixed picture, indicating that the market is highly variable across the country in this time of uncertainty.”

The volume of residential sales in Scotland in December 2018 was 7,392 – a decrease of 8.2 per cent on the original provisional estimate for December 2017. This compares with decreases of two per cent in England and 5.1 per cent in Wales, and an increase of 4.3 per cent in Northern Ireland.

The fall in London prices was the largest drop since mid-2009. However, the UK capital still has the highest average house price at £460,000.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at financial services firm Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Annual UK house price growth slowed to 0.6 per cent in February, the lowest annual rate in seven years. London prices fell 3.8 per cent, their largest annual fall since August 2009 in the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis.

“This follows efforts by policymakers to cut down on riskier mortgage lending, though clearly uncertainty over Brexit will have played a large part in the capital’s faltering housing market.”

Mike Hardie, head of inflation at the ONS, said: “Annual house price growth has slowed to the lowest rate in close to seven years.”

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Conor Riordan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909123.1555517414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909123.1555517414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Average house prices in Scotland have fallen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Average house prices in Scotland have fallen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909123.1555517414!/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/scottish-government-extends-programme-to-tackle-fuel-poverty-1-4909505","id":"1.4909505","articleHeadline": "Scottish Government extends programme to tackle fuel poverty","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555516907000 ,"articleLead": "

Scots at risk of fuel poverty stand to benefit from a further round of investment to ensure more homes across the country are energy efficient.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909504.1555516903!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Around half a million households in Scotland face fuel poverty"} ,"articleBody": "

A minimum of £38 million was awarded to Warmworks, a managing agent which aims to deliver the Scottish Government’s fuel poverty scheme over the next two years.

But campaigners warned further funding would be needed if ministers were to truly eradicate fuel poverty north of the Border.

Last year, a target was set that no more than five per cent of households in Scotland would be in fuel poverty by 2040.

The funding was awarded by Warmer Homes Scotland, a Government scheme designed to help people in need make their homes warmer and more comfortable by installing energy saving measures.

On a visit to Dundee to meet the 15,000th Warmer Homes customer, housing minister Kevin Stewart said the investment, and the extension of Warmer Homes Scotland to 2022, demonstrates the Government’s commitment to eradicating fuel poverty and increasing energy efficiency.

Mr Stewart said: “This funding will have a huge impact for people seeking to make essential improvements to the energy efficiency of their home.

“We have taken a world leading approach to tackling fuel poverty with the introduction of the Fuel Poverty Bill and setting an ambitious target that by 2040, no more than 5% of Scottish households are in fuel poverty.

“I’m delighted to see for myself the excellent work being done in homes across Scotland.”

Elizabeth Leighton, director of Existing Homes Alliance Scotland, said half a million households suffered from fuel poverty.

“A continutation of Warmworks is welcome as they are doing a good job in making people’s lives better, as well as delivering local jobs,” she said.

“But we would have liked to have seen a much bigger funding award. Too many people - more than the population of Glasgow - are at risk of fuel poverty already.

“A bigger budget would allow more people to be helped. This should be the last generation of Scots who face fuel poverty.”

A spokeswoman for the Child Poverty Action Group said: “The cost of fuel is an unavoidable burden on Scottish families living in poverty. One in five people in Scotland are living in poverty and 240,000 children are having their childhoods limited by its effects. Taking action to boost incomes has never been more important.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909504.1555516903!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909504.1555516903!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Around half a million households in Scotland face fuel poverty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Around half a million households in Scotland face fuel poverty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909504.1555516903!/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-2-15012/kezia-dugdale-wins-defamation-case-against-wings-over-scotland-1-4909109","id":"1.4909109","articleHeadline": "Kezia Dugdale wins defamation case against Wings over Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555515367000 ,"articleLead": "

Kezia Dugdale has won a defamation case brought against by the pro-independence blogger Wings Over Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Lothians MSP (right) had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, sent a homophobic tweet."} ,"articleBody": "

The Lothians MSP had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs the blog, sent a homophobic tweet.
Although a sheriff found the tweet had not been homophobic, he said Ms Dugdale’s claims in her Daily Record column met the test of a “defence of fair comment”.

Read more: Kezia Dugdale’s defamation case puts spotlight on power of new media bloggers

In a statement posted on her personal Twitter feed, Ms Dugdale said: “I am delighted to have won this case and hugely relived after two long years of it hanging over me.

“I cannot thank the team at the Daily Record enough. They stood by me as I stood up to him and won.

“Their support has been fulsome and unwavering throughout such a difficult time.

“This is an important judgement for the right to free speech and a healthy press.

“This ruling clearly demonstrates that every citizen is entitled to make comments as long as they are fair and reflect honestly held views.”

Campbell had been seeking £25,000 in damages. He had denied being a homophobe and insisted such an allegation was both “untrue” and “unfair”.

He went to court to protect his reputation as someone who consistently supported the equal treatment of homosexual people, and also sought £25,000 damages.

In his written judgement today Sheriff Nigel Ross said the true question was whether someone was entitled to view the tweet as homophobic, according to the Daily Record.

“Despite incorrectly implying that Mr Campbell is homophobic, her article is protected under the principle of fair comment,” he stated.

“She is not liable to pay damages to Mr Campbell.”

Mr Campbell said on his blog that he was still “fully digesting and considering” the judgement with his legal team before deciding on his next course of action, hinting at a potential appeal.

“My legal team and I have just received, unexpectedly early, the sheriff’s verdict in my defamation case against Kezia Dugdale,” he said in a post today.

“The short and paraphrased version is that yes, she did defame me by inaccurately calling me a homophobe, but because she’s an idiot who doesn’t know what words mean, she’s allowed to, so we lose.”

He added: “In almost every sense that the case was brought, we’ve actually won. I sought to defend my reputation against a false accusation of homophobia, to establish that I’m not a homophobe and to prevent anyone from being able to make such claims in future. All of those aims have been upheld, in explicit terms, by this judgement.

“Dugdale had claimed that she’d only said a single tweet was homophobic, not that I was a homophobe in general. The sheriff rejected that and noted that any reasonable person reading the article would have concluded I was being called a homophobe.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Lothians MSP (right) had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, sent a homophobic tweet.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Lothians MSP (right) had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, sent a homophobic tweet.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6011554379001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/westminster-should-follow-scotland-and-lower-voting-age-say-reformers-1-4909034","id":"1.4909034","articleHeadline": "Westminster should follow Scotland and lower voting age, say reformers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555500856000 ,"articleLead": "

Westminster should follow Scotland’s lead in giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, electoral reformers have claimed on the anniversary of the last piece of legislation to expand the UK electorate receiving royal assent.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "16 and 17 year olds currently cannot vote in Westminster elections"} ,"articleBody": "

The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 when the Representation of the People Act received assent on April 17, 1969, following a bill introduced by the then Labour Government.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) said the 50th anniversary was a suitable time for Westminster to follow the example of Scotland, where 16 and 17 year olds were granted the vote in time for the 2014 independence referendum and the 2017 Holyrood elections.

MPs debated the subject earlier this month and now the ERS are calling on the UK Government to get behind the proposal.

READ MORE: Sturgeon criticised in leaked conversation on trans rights

Campaigners pointed to recent analysis by the Hansard Society which found nearly two-thirds of respondents felt the Westminster system of governing needs “quite a lot” or “a great deal of improvement”.

ERS chief executive Darren Hughes said: “On the 50th anniversary of extending the vote to 18-year olds, it is now time to learn from the success of votes at 16 in Scotland and embrace a fairer franchise for the whole UK.

“When they vote, 16 and 17-year-olds actually have higher rates of turnout in Scotland than 18-24-year olds. In the 2014 Scottish independence referendum turnout among 16-18-year-olds was 75%, with 97% of those who voted saying they would vote in future elections.

“Evidence has shown that they accessed more information ahead of the vote from a wider variety of sources than any other age group – showing that 16-year-olds are more than ready to engage in the democratic process in an enthusiastic and informed way.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "16 and 17 year olds currently cannot vote in Westminster elections","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "16 and 17 year olds currently cannot vote in Westminster elections","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/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/metoo-founder-rose-mcgowan-to-stage-solo-show-at-edinburgh-fringe-1-4908711","id":"1.4908711","articleHeadline": "#MeToo founder Rose McGowan to stage solo show at Edinburgh Fringe","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555496298000 ,"articleLead": "

The American actress and activist Rose McGowan, one of the leading figures in the global #MeToo movement, is to stage her own-woman show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908710.1555485907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rose McGowan attends the Vivienne Westwood show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019 on March 3, 2018 in Paris, France."} ,"articleBody": "

McGowan, one of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s first accusers, will make her first ever appearance at the event with a run of performances in August.

READ MORE: Notre-Dame fire: Authorities say devastating blaze ‘fully extinguished’

She will perform in the 840-capacity main auditorium at the Assembly Hall, the home of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, on The Mound.

McGowan is due to appear in Edinburgh less than three months after the trial of Weinstein, who is accused of rape, assault and harassment by multiple women, is due to begin in New York.

Her lunchtime Fringe show will feature a mix of memoir, music, storytelling, projections and performance in a show set on Planet 9, “a new world of possibilities”.

McGowan, who published a best-selling memoir last January, three months after the first allegations against Weinstein emerged, has said recently that she felt the #MeToo movement had pressed a “cultural reset” around the world.

READ MORE: MSP calls for police to be banned from placing children in cells

Speaking about her Fringe show, McGowan, whose best known screen roles include Scream, The Doom Generation, Charmed and Grindhouse, said: “It is such a forward thinking festival and it’s a perfect match for my show, Planet 9. Essentially it’s a mixed media show that has spoken word, visual and music - it’ll be my first time performing a song live!

“I’m so looking forward to sharing space and thoughts with audiences at the Fringe.”

Publicity material for the show, which will be launched on 15 August, states: “She invites the audience on a healing journey of discovery to this new planet.

“The antidote to all that is earthbound, from here we can see Earth from a new perspective and learn how to create a liberated, fairer society for ourselves. Like moon dust, Rose hopes you will take a little piece of Planet 9 with you wherever you go.”

Another Hollywood star, Nick Offerman, who is best-known for Parks and Recreation, The Founder and Fargo, will be playing in the same venue as McGowan.

Also confirmed for this year’s Fringe are a solo show by Clive Anderson, who also be hosting the live incarnation of the TV favourite Whose Line Is It Anyway?

His solo show is part of the Assembly Festival line-up, along with Arabella Weir, star of The Fast Show and the hit Scottish sitcom Two Doors Down.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908710.1555485907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908710.1555485907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rose McGowan attends the Vivienne Westwood show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019 on March 3, 2018 in Paris, France.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rose McGowan attends the Vivienne Westwood show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2018/2019 on March 3, 2018 in Paris, France.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908710.1555485907!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5827785857001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/bus-companies-belch-out-toxic-fumes-while-raking-in-huge-profits-gavin-thomson-1-4908535","id":"1.4908535","articleHeadline": "Bus companies belch out toxic fumes while raking in huge profits – Gavin Thomson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555494618000 ,"articleLead": "

A fund set up by the Scottish Government to improve older buses and reduce air pollution has been snubbed by many bus operators, leaving millions unspent, writes Gavin Thomson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908534.1555494613!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Air pollution protesters wearing gas masks stage a 'die-in' in Glasgow's George Square (Picture: John Devlin)"} ,"articleBody": "

The fund of £7.89 million closed on 8 March, having only given out £1m. The unspent £6.89m could have been used to clean up the bus fleet and protect our health. Meanwhile, Scotland’s cities have illegal, toxic level of air pollution. Something stinks.

The money was made available by the Scottish Government to pay for retrofitting of buses with new exhaust systems to filter out the pollution. In this way, older buses can be brought up to modern standards.

On the two pollutants of most concern, upgrades to the oldest buses could reduce pollution by up to 90 per cent for nitrogen dioxide, and half for fine particles.

The exhaust upgrade fund could have converted around 500 buses. Instead, only 84 buses will be improved. Lothian Buses received funding to clean up 26 of their buses, while Xplore in Dundee will be improving 10 buses. This is barely scratching the surface.

Some 2,500 early deaths are caused by air pollution in Scotland every year. The majority of buses in Scotland do not meet the latest standard, so we need big changes to our fleets. With measures such as Low Emission Zones being introduced in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen, bus companies need to upgrade.

The fund was particularly targeted at Glasgow where the Low Emission Zone started operating at the beginning of this year. So why did the money go unspent, and why are we still breathing toxic fumes?

Bus operators complained they weren’t getting enough money, claiming that schemes in England paid more. The Scottish Government said they were giving the most money they could while not breaking European state-aid rules.

READ MORE: Air pollution killing more people than smoking in UK

There appears to have been something of a stand-off between the biggest operators and the Government. This has resulted in millions going unspent and bus exhausts remaining more dangerous to health than they should be. Everyone loses.

Let’s hope more money is available next year, and bus operators reconsider their stubborn approach. Even if they did, that would be a year of unnecessary, avoidable pollution. Another year of preventable emissions from buses, of high levels of pollution, of more children suffering with asthma, and increased likelihood of strokes and heart attacks.

It’s worth keeping in mind the bus industry in Scotland gets £300m every year from the public purse, on concessionary fares and other services.

In the last financial year, Stagecoach Group made £112.9m profit from its regional UK buses and FirstBus made £50m profit. Even in the context of declining bus passenger numbers, these are still huge sums of money being made, by some operators.

The money that wasn’t used by bus operators won’t be “rolled over”, or given out to a different air quality project; it will go back into the general Scottish Government pot. A wasted opportunity, due to corporate greed.

This scandal takes place at a time where we’re finally starting to see a spark of ambition in transport. Edinburgh Council’s City Centre Transformation Plan includes part-pedestrianisation of key streets, along with a car-free day on the first Sunday of every month. The Transport Bill currently working its way through Parliament includes franchising powers, to give local authorities greater control over buses.

READ MORE: Air pollution exposure linked to increased risk of miscarriage, study suggests

Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone, launched on 31 December 2018, only required a tiny fraction of the city’s buses to be improved or replaced. The proportion of Glasgow’s buses that have to meet modern standards will gradually increase until 100 per cent of buses are included in 2022. But Glaswegians will want to know why they’re waiting four years for cleaner air when millions are going unspent right now.

While we wait to see what the Low Emission Zones in Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and Dundee will look like, what areas the zones will cover, this disinterest from our large bus companies gives cause for alarm. Bus companies that are seriously committed to improving our air quality wouldn’t sit on their hands like this. Bus passenger numbers are plummeting in the west of Scotland. Fares are rising – most minimum fares in Glasgow are now £2.40, compared to £1.70 on Lothian Buses – while routes are cut or shortened.

But buses are a key tool for improving air quality and reducing climate pollution. When a bus service is run effectively, that means scores of people can travel by bus rather than car. Fewer cars on the road means lower emissions.

Instead, companies seem happy to profit from older buses that continue to belch out toxic fumes on our streets. Because of their inaction, there’s been very little improvement to air quality, and an equally small change to the huge health impacts suffered from air pollution. We need big ideas and ambition to expand our bus network, but to start with, we need our bus operators to put people’s lives before their own profits.

Gavin Thomson is air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Gavin Thomson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908534.1555494613!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908534.1555494613!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Air pollution protesters wearing gas masks stage a 'die-in' in Glasgow's George Square (Picture: John Devlin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Air pollution protesters wearing gas masks stage a 'die-in' in Glasgow's George Square (Picture: John Devlin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908534.1555494613!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6026725878001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/climate-change-where-extinction-rebellion-is-going-wrong-martyn-mclaughlin-1-4908627","id":"1.4908627","articleHeadline": "Climate change: Where Extinction Rebellion is going wrong – Martyn McLaughlin","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555494141000 ,"articleLead": "

The Extinction Rebellion climate campaign is fighting a worthy cause, but its protests risk leaving the public unstirred, writes Martyn McLaughlin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908626.1555494137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the youth-led Sunrise Movement has captured the public imagination with a plan for a Green New Deal (Picture: J Scott Applewhite/AP)"} ,"articleBody": "

If the promise and potential of Extinction Rebellion is imbued with a revolutionary zeal, it is hard not to be disappointed by how such a potent, contagious force has manifested itself over the course of the movement’s short history. In the six months since its inception, the burgeoning worldwide protest group has strived to communicate the urgency of the threat posed by climate change, framing it as an unprecedented global emergency which will bring about a mass extinction of mankind’s own making.

There is a feverish fatalism underpinning its core messages, and rightly so. If sober arguments rooted in incontrovertible scientific facts have failed to make their mark, perhaps it is time for something more bracing. Perhaps that time has already passed. Either way, it is refreshing to see such vigour in the new, virulent strain of climate protesters.

Extinction Rebellion is the result of indignation and desperation, the only real legacies of a debate that has raged on and off for the best part of three decades. As the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has pointed out, time is now running out to save ourselves from the worst effects of a looming catastrophe. The planet needs champions like never before, and some of those behind Extinction Rebellion make an articulate, impassioned case. Take Dr Gail Bradbrook, one of the co-founders of the rapidly growing movement.

“If your government isn’t protecting you and the future of your kids, you have a duty to rebel, and a right to rebel,” she reasons. “When you say, ‘No’, and you get on the streets, and you do an act of civil disobedience, it changes your psychology.”

READ MORE: Climate change activists scale Finnieston Crane in Glasgow

How frustrating it has been, then, to see this energy fail to translate to the much-heralded protests taking place in cities including London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. What was billed as the second major push of the group’s campaign has been, in truth, scarcely distinguishable from any other demonstration for any other cause.

Maybe it is demonstration fatigue. From Brexit and the Trump presidency through to issues such as the Iraq war and student tuition fees, the spectacle of the large-scale protest has been an irregular, yet powerful show of dissent in British public life over the past two decades.

But sustaining that, particularly when so many people struggle to formulate an emotional response to climate change, will be one of the main challenges Extinction Rebellion has to overcome.

So too, it must acknowledge, or at least consider, the limitations of its chosen route of disruptive civil disobedience in order to bring about “radical” social change.

The visibility of the movement is everything, and yet the photographs and videos which emerged from this week’s demonstrations do not capture the gravity of its campaign.

In Glasgow, activists hauled a banner up the heights of Finnieston Crane, a tactic employed in the past by those protesting against the militarisation of Armed Forces Day, and campaigners for nuclear disarmament. In London, meanwhile, supporters set up impromptu protest camps – tactics lifted straight out of Occupy London’s playbook.

The so-called ‘swarming’ strategy, which saw activists stage sit-ins on busy public highways and bridges in order to disrupt motorists and distribute leaflets, is more enterprising and directly addressed the ‘business as usual’ malaise which has allowed us to sleepwalk into jeopardy in the first place. But its impact, much like the patience of drivers, is finite.

The day’s proceedings even saw the glass door at the Waterloo headquarters of oil giant Shell smashed, with graffiti spray-painted on the exterior. The question for Extinction Rebellion is whether these action will have the impact it badly needs.

READ MORE: Four environmentalists are murdered every week – Dr Richard Dixon

No one should expect a new generation of protestors to rewrite the rules of protest, and it is prudent to cherrypick ideas from elsewhere. But without some kind of distinguishing characteristic, the group will struggle to realise its ambitions.

The movement wants the UK Government to “tell the truth” by declaring a climate emergency, establish a citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice, and reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025. Extinction Rebellion knows where it wants to get to. But does it know how to get there?

For all the urgency of its language, its goals seem to be lacking in focus. It has no discernible political strategy, and no defined roadmap to move towards its aims. Compare that if you will with the Sunrise Movement, a youth-led political action group in the US, which together with congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has captured the public imagination with its plan for a Green New Deal.

The wide-ranging stimulus package is concerned not only with the environment, but health, education, transport, and the economy. Sunrise too supports mass acts of civil disobedience, but there is more meat on its bones.

With British politics in a state of flux, there is a chance for Extinction Reblillion to achieve something similar. Or perhaps our parties are so hopelessly lost in the Brexit maze, there is no way out.

Those behind Extinction Rebellion may well argue that the threat posed by climate change is too pressing to focus on what government – and parliament – can do, and up to a point, they may well be right. But in a race where time is rapidly running out, it risks being left behind.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908626.1555494137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908626.1555494137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the youth-led Sunrise Movement has captured the public imagination with a plan for a Green New Deal (Picture: J Scott Applewhite/AP)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the youth-led Sunrise Movement has captured the public imagination with a plan for a Green New Deal (Picture: J Scott Applewhite/AP)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908626.1555494137!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6026725878001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/alexander-mccall-smith-forget-brexit-we-should-argue-about-this-instead-1-4908625","id":"1.4908625","articleHeadline": "Alexander McCall Smith: Forget Brexit, we should argue about this instead","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555491793000 ,"articleLead": "

In these fractious times, Alexander McCall Smith takes solace in memories of happier days when arguments were about how to pronounce Gullane and such like.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "How you say this word is a matter of some debate. Is it Gullin or Gillin? Could it even be Gillane or 'Gullane'? (Picture: Bill Henry)"} ,"articleBody": "

Disagreement can be disagreeable. Our national conversation has demonstrated that in recent months, when differences of opinion on political issues have raised the public temperature to an uncomfortably high level. We are riven; we are confused; we are angry with one another; we are unhappy. Gone are the days, it seems, when people could hold differing views and yet agree about the common good.

In such circumstances, we might remember the things that we used to argue about in Scotland – the old differences of opinion that now seem to be bathed in a warm glow of nostalgia. Perhaps we can divert ourselves from our current toxic exchanges by thinking about those comfortable old arguments and debates. How pleasant they were by comparison; how gorgeously irrelevant; how innocent.

Such as: how does one pronounce Gullane? There are those who consider that question otiose in our troubled times, but no, that controversy is never going to go away, and if anything is going to distract us from present woes, it is that one. In future, when somebody asks you your view of the European Union issue, smile politely and say, “Ah, but how does one pronounce Gullane?” That question has saved many Scottish dinner parties from becoming mired in heated debate about Article 50. It is, in a sense, a lightning conductor, keeping tempers down and saving friendships. It is, after all, possible to disagree with somebody about the pronunciation of Gullane without consigning them to Dantean regions below.

For the benefit of those south of the Border, the pronunciation of Gullane is a sort of Scottish Schleswig-Holstein question (Schleswig-Holstein is not in West Lothian, which also has a question). It has been around for a long time and in the minds of many it has yet to be resolved. You would think that people would have better things to think about, but they do not. The pronunciation of Gullane is a defining issue; for some it goes to the very core of their social identity.

READ MORE: The Edinburgh of the future will have no residents and an all-year festival – Alexander McCall Smith

The issue is this. There are two principal ways of pronouncing Gullane. One is Gillin, the other is Gullin. There are other possibilities, of course, including Gillane and Gullane. It will be noticed that the latter is also the way it is spelled, which of course has no relevance. The name Garioch, for instance, is pronounced Gairy, at least by some, including many who are called Garioch. Then there is Milngavie, which is pronounced in the way in which Milngavie is pronounced, which is Mul Guy. Hawick is, of course, Hoyick, and those pronouncing it as it is spelled will not get far in the Borders. These are all well-known oddities that have so far survived European Union harmonisation. Beware, though: the functionaries who are intent on abolishing summer time are planning an orthography/pronunciation directive that will require names to be pronounced in the way in which they are spelled. That may not be true – it probably isn’t – but stranger things have happened.

Back to Gullane. The interesting thing about the pronunciation issue there is that it reflects a social divide. Broadly speaking, the Uppies say Gillin and the Doonies say Gullin. Those boundaries are not absolute, but it is generally the case. So at one level it is akin to the difference between table-napkin and serviette – a distinction that seems to fascinate the English but that is of scant interest here in Scotland. We have the Gillin/Gullin controversy, which is far more interesting – and important.

READ MORE: Alexander McCall Smith: Edinburgh Airport should charge people to sit down

What do the people of Gullane themselves say? Well, the first point to be made there is that this should not be decisive. It is perfectly possible for people to get the name of their own place wrong, and to continue to do so against all the advice of professional etymologists. Sometimes, in fact, people get their own surnames wrong: I have met Macleans abroad who actually call themselves Mackleen. That raises delicate etiquette issues. How do you tell people that they are getting their own name wrong? It is very difficult. The only way of doing it tactfully is to simply look pained, or even wince, when they introduce themselves. That will usually cause them to realise that something is amiss and seek expert advice on how to pronounce their name correctly.

Gullane is, alas, seriously divided. As you drive through the village on your way towards North Berwick (pronounced Nurth Berrick), people who live on the right side of the road say Gullin, while those on the left say Gillin. That divide is regrettable, but it is very difficult to see how it can be overcome. Gillin is a shibboleth. At Muirfield, which is just outside the village, there is no question but that it is Gillin. Cadit quaestio. Choosing, then, to say Gullin, if one has been brought up to say Gillin, becomes an act of self-definition, a gesture of rejection of the constraints of tribalism. Gullin is, for such people, a protestation of independence, an identification with the authentic political and social culture of Scotland, which leans towards Gullin. Of course nobody may notice the gesture, but at least it is made, and those who make it report that they do indeed feel more authentic for saying Gullin rather than Gillin.

Many outsiders do not realise how important this issue is and how it exercises people in Scotland. That is because they are inauthentic. And as for the answer to the question of what is the correct pronunciation, that, as is well-known, is self-evident. It is ... (word limit reached).

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "How you say this word is a matter of some debate. Is it Gullin or Gillin? Could it even be Gillane or 'Gullane'? (Picture: Bill Henry)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "How you say this word is a matter of some debate. Is it Gullin or Gillin? Could it even be Gillane or 'Gullane'? (Picture: Bill Henry)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/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/calls-for-free-bus-tickets-for-poorer-kids-in-edinburgh-1-4908844","id":"1.4908844","articleHeadline": "Calls for free bus tickets for poorer kids in Edinburgh","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555487356000 ,"articleLead": "

Bus bosses should issue free school trip tickets to children living in poverty in the Capital, it was claimed yesterday.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890992.1555487352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bus bosses should issue free school trip tickets to children living in poverty in the Capital, it was claimed yesterday.. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The councillor leading the campaign to eliminate child poverty from the Capital urged Lothian buses to step in and help amid calls for the entire city to play its part.

The city’s child poverty action unit will present its first report to the Scottish Government in June – including a list of aims to reduce the number of children living in poverty. In Edinburgh, an average of 22 per cent of children live in poverty, while in some parts of the Capital, it’s as high as 35 per cent of youngsters living in relative poverty.

The cross-party action unit also includes teachers, PSAs, nurseries, mental health and public health experts, input from housing, family support and social workers – as well as young people themselves.

Chairwoman, Cllr Alison Dickie, also the council’s vice education, children and families convener, has called for everyone to take responsibility in helping improve young lives.

She said: “Edinburgh is a lovely city, great for many – but I hate the deep inequality. Schools cannot do this alone – that’s why partners are really important. The focus has got to be on action now. I weep about the social isolation that exists in this city of all ages. I think we have lost sight of what really matters. It’s actually just simple acts and schools are really beginning to lead on that.

“Most of all, it’s about removing stigma, the level of which absolutely shocks me. Until our city is ready to work together, learn together and live together, removing that stigma is fundamental.”

The council has already helped reduce levels of poverty through its schools-based 1 in 5 project while income maximisation has recouped hundreds of thousands of pounds in unclaimed benefits for families. Work has also been done over holiday hunger, period poverty and school uniform grants.

Ideas being touted includes an appeal to Lothian buses for tickets for school trips being provided free of charge in order to allow all pupils to enjoy the same experiences.

Cllr Dickie said: “We’re going to challenge Lothian buses on that if they want to help us. Lothian buses would make my day if they would just provide those free bus fares for school trips.

“That would really help – the schools are saying it would be great. As a teacher, you take out your whole class on a bus to a museum, but some people don’t get to those museums. It’s coming out of school budgets so if those tickets were free, it would really free up a lot.”

Other ideas could include extending food support and family support services and potentially adding more money onto free school dinner cards and reviewing portion sizes.

Cllr Dickie added: “We potentially at the end of this will have to fight for more money. We are building an inclusive city, we are building it in times of limited resources.

“We need to look at some of the decisions about hall hire costs and costs of activities. If we make that unaffordable for families, then there are issues there.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4890992.1555487352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4890992.1555487352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Bus bosses should issue free school trip tickets to children living in poverty in the Capital, it was claimed yesterday.. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bus bosses should issue free school trip tickets to children living in poverty in the Capital, it was claimed yesterday.. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4890992.1555487352!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6016080560001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/environmentalists-block-bridge-to-bring-edinburgh-to-standstill-1-4908620","id":"1.4908620","articleHeadline": "Environmentalists block bridge to bring Edinburgh to standstill","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555480862000 ,"articleLead": "

Hundreds of climate change protesters brought central Edinburgh to a standstill during last night’s rush hour, blocking one of the capital’s main thoroughfares to traffic for hours.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908619.1555445159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Climate Change group Extinction Rebellion brings North Bridge, Edinburgh to a stand still this afternoon"} ,"articleBody": "

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Organisers said 32 arrests had been made by 9pm, but Police Scotland said the operation was “still ongoing” and could not confirm a figure last night. Demonstrators who refused to move from the bridge were filmed being led away to waiting police vans or loaded onto a local bus.

READ MORE: Edinburgh climate change blockade LIVE: Hundreds of protesters gather| City Centre delays| Buses diverted
Some protesters were in themed fancy dress, including a Chinese-style dragon. Others banged drums, chanted or played football, while banners reading “the planet is dying” and “we need you to care” were held aloft. The planned protest, which is part of a wider movement demanding global political action to stop climate change, led to long tailbacks in the city centre.

Extinction Rebellion wants the Scottish Government to be bolder on the issue by committing to achieve net zero carbon commissions by 2025 and forming a citizens’ assembly to create new policies.

Tom Younger, who was part of the human barricade at the Princes Street end of the bridge, said the occupation was “part of a much wider movement” that included school strikes over recent months. The 28-year old said: “We need to step up and make our voices heard. We’re demanding the Government goes zero carbon by 2025. It needs to tell citizens the truth about what’s happening.”

The protest is part of an international week of action calling for governments and councils around the world to declare a “climate emergency”.

Dr Anna Fisk, 35, a lecturer in theology and religious studies at the University of Glasgow, said there was “massive frustration” at a lack of action from politicians.

“We wish we didn’t have to disrupt people’s days or cause them inconvenience, but we need to do things like this to get people’s attention and, more importantly, the government’s attention,” she said.

“Unfortunately, things like signing petitions and more conventional protest marches people have been doing for 30 years just haven’t worked.

“Now we need to break the law, we need to be prepared to be arrested. I’m willing to be arrested. It’s not something that I’m looking forward to or think is going to be fun, but I am prepared to do that because it’s so important.”

Lauren McGlynn, 38, a professional photographer, said: “I have two kids and I am terrified for their future. To not take action would be the same as signing their death warrants and I refuse to do that.”

The protest in Edinburgh was held after similar action in London on Monday saw widespread disruption, with demonstrators refusing to end their road blocks and more than 200 arrests made.

Superintendent Bob Paris said Police Scotland had been made aware of the protest in advance and had put in place an operation to provide a “proportionate response”.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are demonstrating this global leadership by setting the most ambitious statutory climate change targets of any country in the world for 2020, 2030 and 2040, which will mean Scotland is carbon neutral by 2050.”

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908619.1555445159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908619.1555445159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Climate Change group Extinction Rebellion brings North Bridge, Edinburgh to a stand still this afternoon","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Climate Change group Extinction Rebellion brings North Bridge, Edinburgh to a stand still this afternoon","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908619.1555445159!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6026749599001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/hard-recession-awaits-scotland-if-uk-crashes-out-in-no-deal-brexit-1-4908689","id":"1.4908689","articleHeadline": "Hard recession awaits Scotland if UK crashes out in no-deal Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555480497000 ,"articleLead": "

The risk of Scotland being plunged into recession with a no-deal Brexit “remains high”, a stark report by leading economists today warns.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891645.1555480480!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The warning comes admidst negotiations about the next steps of Brexit. Pictures: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

The Fraser of Allander Institute says last week’s extension of the UK’s EU departure date until 31 October has only “kicked the can down the road”.

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There are now fears the unrelenting focus on EU departure has “crowded out” important issues about the key structural changes that Scotland’s economy is now facing.

And political leaders north of the Border have come under fire as the 20th anniversary of the Scottish Parliament nears over Holyrood’s long-term failure to deliver stronger growth.

A range of scenarios for growth are set out in the institute’s latest economic commentary, from a disorderly Brexit – in which case Scotland is likely to enter recession – to a scenario whereby confidence returns and nearer trend growth is likely.

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Fraser of Allander Institute director Professor Graeme Roy said: “Last week’s announcement to move the deadline for the UK’s departure from the EU to October has helped to reduce the imminent threat of a ‘no-deal’ outcome impacting upon the Scottish economy. However, it has only ‘kicked the can down the road’ with little evidence so far of UK policymakers being able to agree a compromise approach. The risks to the economy therefore remain high.

“Moreover the nature of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU is but one step in the process – the negotiations on the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU have yet to begin in earnest.”

The institute’s central forecast, based on an orderly departure at some point this year, puts growth at 1.1 per cent in 2019, and 1.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent for 2020 and 2021 respectively.

However, in the event of a no-deal Brexit with no policy response from government, the economy could contract by 2.1 per cent this year as a result of the economic shock, then by 1.5 per cent again next year, before growth returns in 2021 of 1.4 per cent.

“Even if there is a “maximum” policy response, it would result in negative growth of 0.2 per cent this year and a 0.3 per cent contraction the following year.

The UK government is in talks with the Labour Party in a bid to find a compromise Brexit deal that can command support of a majority of MPs. But no agreement has yet been struck and disgruntled Tories are already agitating to oust Prime Minister Theresa May. A replacement hardline Brexiteer such as Boris Johnson would make a no-deal Brexit more likely.

The report shows economic growth has remained steady over the course of 2018, with growth being fairly broad based, employment at a near record high and unemployment at a record low.

However, earnings and productivity growth remain weak, which presents challenges for Scotland’s long-term prospects.

Prof Roy also delivered a withering assessment of Holyrood’s record on the economy in Scotland. He said: “Next month will mark 20 years since the first elections to the Scottish Parliament and despite progress in some areas, the growth challenge is arguably still something that remains inadequately addressed in the political discourse in Scotland.

“Key government targets on the economy, including in growth, exports and productivity, have all been missed. One particular area of concern for the Scottish Government is the emerging outlook for some of Scotland’s devolved tax revenues, which suggests that revenues may have performed worse than forecast in recent years.”

John Macintosh, a tax partner at Deloitte, said: “There is a pressing need to encourage investment and to improve productivity. This should increase our long-term growth.”

Economy secretary Derek Mackay said: “We agree with the Fraser of Allander Institute that the ongoing uncertainty over Brexit continues to divert attention and resources away from the wider economic issues facing our country.

“It is clear that there is a great deal at stake for every business and their voices must be listened to before irreversible decisions are taken.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4891645.1555480480!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4891645.1555480480!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The warning comes admidst negotiations about the next steps of Brexit. Pictures: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The warning comes admidst negotiations about the next steps of Brexit. Pictures: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4891645.1555480480!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6025156272001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-will-theresa-may-the-pm-without-honour-ever-resign-brian-monteith-1-4908653","id":"1.4908653","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Will Theresa May, the PM without honour, ever resign? – Brian Monteith","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555477242000 ,"articleLead": "

She’s failed to win a general election, lost three Commons votes on her flagship Brexit plan, failed to deliver on her promise the UK would leave the EU on 29 March and seen the resignations of numerous Cabinet ministers. When will Theresa May ever resign as Prime Minister, wonders Brian Monteith.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908652.1555438997!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May made a guarantee that the UK wouldm leave the EU on March 29 - but we did no such thing. Picture: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

Politicians at Westminster and Holyrood are on their Easter holidays at the moment, but that has not stopped attempts to ­remove the Prime Minister going on in the background. Calls for resignation of the Prime Minister go with the job. It’s something the occupant of 10 Downing Street can expect the ­moment the threshold has been crossed.

Normally the calls of “resign, resign” come from the opposition ­parties with, over a period of time, one or two disgruntled backbenchers throwing their toys out of the pram too. The usual conventions are that if Cabinet ministers start to resign there is such a calamitous loss of self-confidence within the governing party that the prime minister has little alternative but to fall on his or her sword.

Margaret Thatcher was never voted out of office by the people, or by her MPs. She won every general election she contested, rode out the resignations of her Defence Secretary, Chancellor and Foreign Secretary, and won various leadership challenges when confronted with them.

When she was challenged again, ostensibly about her policy on the Poll Tax, but surreptitiously about her policy towards what would become the European Union, she took counsel from ministers and supportive MPs and decided that, having won the first round, she should not contest the second round and moved aside. The party members were appalled she had been forced out but were not given a say.

The course of events that have developed with Theresa May have some similarities but some significant differences. Theresa May did not win her general election in 2017 after a dreadful campaign and might have tendered her resignation at that time, allowing a different minister to form a government. It would have been the honourable thing to do. Instead she limped on with the support of the DUP.

Since then she has seen her flagship policy – her so-called ‘deal’ with the EU defeated not just once, or twice, but three times, and by record numbers. The honourable course of action at that point would have been to resign, but not this Prime Minister.

She has also seen the resignation of countless cabinet ministers, including her Defence Secretary, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary – as well as not one, but two Brexit Secretaries, both of whom she betrayed by going to the EU behind their backs.

Her Cabinet is at war with her and against each other, with collective responsibility a completely meaningless term. The DUP have made it clear they have no faith in her. In such a state of disarray the honourable thing to do would have been to resign and let someone else take the reins. Not this Prime Minister.

On more than 100 recorded ­occasions, the Prime Minister swore to us – even offering a “guarantee” – that the UK would leave the EU on March 29, 2019.

The law was set up to achieve this and she had the power to deliver it – but we did not leave on that date, nor on her second promise of April 12 either. She swore she would not “contemplate” leaving after June 30 but has broken that promise too by accepting a new leaving date of October 31. In breaking so many promises the honourable thing would have been to resign. Not this Prime Minister.

Her MPs tried to remove her in December but the government ‘payroll’ vote kept her in place. We now have European elections she said would not happen and the Tories have fallen way behind Labour in the polls.

Now constituency chairmen are seeking to call an emergency general meeting to sack her using internal party rules – and are already close to getting the 65 signatures they require.

I wish them Godspeed – but I have a warning. A prime minister without honour will seek to ignore them. I do hope I am wrong.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "BRIAN MONTEITH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908652.1555438997!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908652.1555438997!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Theresa May made a guarantee that the UK wouldm leave the EU on March 29 - but we did no such thing. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Theresa May made a guarantee that the UK wouldm leave the EU on March 29 - but we did no such thing. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908652.1555438997!/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/lifestyle-2-15039/capital-s-concrete-concert-hall-plans-backed-before-crunch-hearing-1-4908649","id":"1.4908649","articleHeadline": "Capital’s concrete concert hall plans backed before crunch hearing","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555450342000 ,"articleLead": "

Proposals to build the first new concert hall in Edinburgh for more than 100 years have been backed by planners ahead of a crunch hearing.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908648.1555450338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New designs for IMPACT Scotland new concert hall in St Andrew Square"} ,"articleBody": "

Planning officers have recommended that permission to build the £45m Impact Centre be given the green light when proposals are determined by the development management sub-committee next week.

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If approved by councillors next Wednesday, the 1,000-seat auditorium will also include a 200-seat studio for performances, rehearsals and recordings as well as rooms for education and conferences. The open foyer will host music performances and a cafe bar.

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Officials said that the Impact Centre “would make a valuable contribution to the city’s cultural infrastructure and provide opportunities for its use by the wider community”.

Located behind Dundas House at St Andrew Square, it will also become home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and will be used as a venue for the Edinburgh International Festival.

Sir Ewan Brown, chairman of IMPACT Scotland, said: “We look forward to presenting the case for Edinburgh’s first purpose-built music venue in over 100 years to the committee.

“This is an opportunity for the city to raise its game in terms of cultural infrastructure and provide a world-class venue for the people of Edinburgh and its many visitors.”

At Wednesday’s hearing, councillors will listen to presentations from Richard Price from New Town and Broughton Community Council, Adam Wilkinson from Edinburgh World Heritage Trust and Terry Levinthal from heritage watchdog, the Cockburn Association. City centre councillors and other interested parties, including Impact Scotland, will also be given the chance to have their say on the plans.

The proposed development has gained the backing of the Cockburn Association, Essential Edinburgh, Historic Environment Scotland, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust and the community council.

Bosses at the new St James Centre, which is currently under construction, have raised fears over traffic and deliveries while the Gleneagles Hotel, being built at St Andrew Square, has highlighted noise concerns. The St James Centre has also raised concerns about the use of concrete for the new concert hall, labelling the material “completely inappropriate”.

In a report to councillors, planning officers have highlighted that although the proposals do not “impact adversely and significantly on city-wide views”, it will “affect the spatial characteristics of the planned First New Town”.

But officers have praised the “simplicity of the architectural form and materials”, believing it would provide a “more cohesive backdrop to Dundas House”.

The report adds: “Therefore, on balance, and taking its proposed use into consideration, it is considered that the proposed development does not remove or detract from key characteristic components of the conservation area that gives the area its special interest.

“It will contribute to the architectural quality of the area with a contemporary high quality building designed to respond to its historic and modern urban environment. The proposal’s gentle domed roof, symmetry to the axis of George Street, glazed colonnade and elliptical form of the hall assist in mediating between the scale of the neo-classical Dundas House and the contemporary Edinburgh St James development.

“In this regard, the special character and appearance of the New Town Conservation Area will be preserved and enhanced.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Bol"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908648.1555450338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908648.1555450338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "New designs for IMPACT Scotland new concert hall in St Andrew Square","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "New designs for IMPACT Scotland new concert hall in St Andrew Square","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908648.1555450338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}