{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"politics","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/pete-wishart-rules-himself-out-of-snp-deputy-race-1-4691749","id":"1.4691749","articleHeadline": "Pete Wishart rules himself out of SNP deputy race","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519046247259 ,"articleLead": "

Pete Wishart will not contest the depute leadership of his party, the SNP MP has announced as he called for other candidates to take forward his message of caution on indyref2.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Wishart, the SNP's longest serving parliamentarian at Westminster, had raised speculation that he might run for the post by calling for a second independence referendum to be put off beyond the next Scottish elections.

Losing a second independence referendum triggered by Brexit would be \"unthinkable\", Mr Wishart warned last week.

In a blog post on Monday, he said he does not believe he has \"sufficient support within the party\" and had decided not to stand.

READ MORE: Indyref2: Pete Wishart says it would be ‘unthinkable’ to lose second independence vote
Mr Wishart, who represents Perth and North Perthshire and narrowly held off the Conservatives by 21 votes in 2017, also called for a fresh approach to the EU from the SNP. In order to win back support from pro-Brexit supporters of Scottish independence, he said the nationalists should underline that an independent Scotland would make a \"graduated\" return to EU membership, with public approval sought for each step back into the bloc.

\"I said when I was considering standing for the Depute Leadership of the SNP that I would take soundings from colleagues within the party and across the membership before making up my mind to have my name put forward,\" Mr Wishart wrote on his website.

\"After listening very carefully to the response to my agenda, I have decided that I do not believe that I have sufficient support within the party and I will not now be standing.\"

He added: \"I firmly believe that a referendum should take place at the optimum time for success taking into account external features such as the increasing concerns around Brexit, and to proceed only when we have sufficient evidence that it could be won.

\"There are certain issues I could have perhaps ducked or de-emphasised in order to better assist me in any depute leader contest, but anyone who knows me knows that this is not something I would be prepared to do. I will always speak out on what I believe is in the best interests of my country.\"

Mr Wishart concluded: \"I hope that others may be able to take up this agenda and perhaps present it more convincingly than I could and I will be asking candidates who do come forward their views on these issues.\"

READ MORE: Pete Wishart in veiled attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit plan

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.png","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.png","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/paris-gourtsoyannis-ruth-vs-jacob-is-battle-for-tory-soul-1-4692195","id":"1.4692195","articleHeadline": "Paris Gourtsoyannis: Ruth vs Jacob is battle for Tory soul","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519084860000 ,"articleLead": "

How the two most popular Tories – Ruth Davidson and Jacob Rees-Mogg – settle big differences will define Conservative party, writes Paris Gourtsoyannis.

" ,"articleBody": "

There is a relentlessness to Ruth Davidson’s antipathy for Boris Johnson that demands respect.

As befits a former Territorial Army officer, there she was again at the weekend, helicoptering into a Sunday morning political programme to do what she does best: ambush Boris.

When they faced off in the biggest live TV set piece of the EU referendum campaign, she called out his campaign as a pack of lies. Addressing the Westminster press pack in 2016, her best jokes were at his expense, and almost unprintable.

This time, speaking to ITV’s Robert Peston, the Scottish Conservative leader warned the foreign secretary was “walking a fine line” with his insistence that sticking close to EU regulations after Brexit would be “intolerable”. Publicly contradicting Johnson frustrates both the hard Brexit forces in government and the foreign secretary’s leadership ambitions – all in a day’s work. But Davidson may need to turn her attention elsewhere.

When the term ‘Moggmentum’ was coined last summer to describe the breathless enthusiasm of campus Conservative society types, it was assumed to be a heat-related illness. But it’s a measure of how limited the Tories’ options are that a Jacob Rees-Mogg leadership bid, once the preserve of snarky viral content, is now being discussed seriously.

Rees-Mogg is increasingly seen as the Conservative answer to Jeremy Corbyn: a conviction politician who is wholly unfashionable by traditional standards, and therefore perfectly captures the anti-politics moment. Confronted with the popularity of an unashamed leftist, the Tories can be forgiven their fixation with an equally unapologetic Conservative, who like Corbyn thinks his party has drifted away from its roots.

Unlike David Cameron and Theresa May, Rees-Mogg tells small-c conservatives they aren’t the problem and don’t have to change, and he’s been rewarded for that confidence boost in Tory membership surveys. In the areas that matter most – Brexit, Unionism and social policy – he also appeals to the group of MPs that have the biggest say over whether the government survives: the DUP. It’s saying something that the party of Ian Paisley helping to put the first practicing Catholic into 10 Downing Street would only make the top ten most gob-smacking political events of the past two years.

In what was seen as a nod to his popularity with the Tory masses, on 15 July last year the anachronism from North East Somerset joined Twitter with a Latin proverb. It may also have been a signal to colleagues of his ambition: three days earlier, Rees-Mogg was backed by 226 MPs in an election to the powerful Commons Treasury Select Committee chairmanship. The winner was Nicky Morgan, a Tory Remainer and critic of Theresa May who got most of her 290 votes from Labour MPs.

It was a secret ballot, but Rees-Mogg probably won handily among fellow Conservative MPs. He now chairs the powerful European Research Group, which pulls the government’s strings on Brexit, and other organs like the Bow Group are thought to be in his corner.

Ministers and Conservative MPs know that if Rees-Mogg makes it to the last round of a leadership vote, then he would likely win in a ballot of Tory members – a group whose dwindling number and ageing profile does no harm to his chances.

That likelihood grows the deeper that Ukip sinks into irrelevance. Rees-Mogg already has the backing of Nigel Farage, and his presence on a leadership ballot would see a tide of former Tories rush back in from Ukip to back a hard-Brexit enthusiast. Not so much a Corbyn-esque crisis of entryism as re-entryism.

The possibility is said to be a source of rising panic in government and among Conservative moderates, where talk focuses on how to block Rees-Mogg in the early stages of a leadership contest as MPs narrow the field of candidates in successive ballots.

Finding an alternative candidate ought to be a priority as well. In order to draw support from Rees-Mogg while retaining the backing of senior party figures, that person has to be an acceptable face of Brexit. That isn’t likely to be Johnson, but it definitely isn’t Amber Rudd either. Much may rest on whether Davidson can bring herself to back someone like Michael Gove, whose record during the EU referendum was no better than the Foreign Secretary’s.

It may not come to that. Rees-Mogg must know that appealing to a subsection of the Brexit electorate isn’t the same as convincing the country you should be in charge. He must recognise that putting the MP for the 19th century into Number 10 would put the Tories’ electoral prospects at grave risk.

With typical self-effacing charm, Rees-Mogg has publicly deflected all attempts to mark him as a leadership prospect – like another darling of the Conservative grassroots. Rather than a direct intervention by either of them, a Tory leadership contest before the next general election in 2022 is more likely to see Davidson and Rees-Mogg shaping events from a distance. In a broad field of relative unknowns, an endorsement from one of the only recognisable faces in Tory politics will be valuable currency.

However the next leadership race unfolds, the fact that two figures with such profoundly opposing views are leading players hints at a profound rupture on the horizon. When you stop and think about it, it’s difficult to believe Davidson and Rees-Mogg are in the same party. They might share a belief in the fundamental principles of conservatism, but when it comes to the awkward detail on abortion, immigration, same-sex marriage, climate change and a good deal else, there is no-man’s land between them broad enough for a private Tory culture war.

The next leadership contest won’t just be a debate about what kind of Brexit deal the UK wants, but about what kind of UK the Tories want. That debate will be an awkward one.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/bbc-dismisses-snp-msp-s-claims-over-question-time-representation-1-4691843","id":"1.4691843","articleHeadline": "BBC dismisses SNP MSP’s claims over Question Time representation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519049680000 ,"articleLead": "

The BBC has defended its decision to invite a former UKIP leader on its flagship current affairs programme after a senior SNP MSP described it as “ridiculous”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691842.1519049677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nigel Farage (right) has been a regular guest on Question Time over the years, including this 2013 episode in Edinburgh. Picture: Joey Kelly"} ,"articleBody": "

Nigel Farage is reportedly among the guests for this week’s edition of Question Time, which would be the 32nd time he has appeared on the BBC1 show since 2000.

Critics of the UKIP MEP claim his party is over-represented on the programme, given they presently have no MPs and are currently polling at just two per cent nationally.

Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Brexit spokesman, said in a tweet: “It is the BBC and its management that is now looking ridiculous, especially in Scotland where UKIP has a single elected representative yet gets more air time (via UK originated broadcasts shown in Scotland) than Scotland’s governing party (which is also UK’s third largest).”

Question Time regularly attracts criticism from supporters of all political parties, with invited guests and even its studio audience scrutinised for suggestions of bias.

In 2016, SNP supporters asked whether one episode was actually filmed in Dundee as advertised after John Swinney was given a rough ride by some audience members.

A BBC spokesman told The Scotsman: “The Question Time panel varies from week to week to ensure a broad range of views are represented. Party appearances on the programme are in line with past electoral support. Since the last general election SNP members have featured significantly more often than UKIP.”

READ MORE: Pete Wishart rules himself out of SNP deputy race

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691842.1519049677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691842.1519049677!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nigel Farage (right) has been a regular guest on Question Time over the years, including this 2013 episode in Edinburgh. Picture: Joey Kelly","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nigel Farage (right) has been a regular guest on Question Time over the years, including this 2013 episode in Edinburgh. Picture: Joey Kelly","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691842.1519049677!/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/culture/music/nicola-sturgeon-morrissey-should-stick-to-music-1-4691772","id":"1.4691772","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon: Morrissey should stick to music","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519046655000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon believes fans go to Morrissey gigs for his music rather than to hear his political views after the singer appeared to criticise Scotland’s First Minister at a gig.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691771.1519046652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrissey played the Hyrdo in Glasgow on Saturday. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The former Smiths frontman reportedly asked the audience at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on Saturday if they “actually” liked Nicola Sturgeon.

He is also said to have added “those hands would be in anybody’s pocket”, prompting some people to leave the concert, according to social media reviews.

Ms Sturgeon said she was not a particular fan of The Smiths growing up but described Morrissey as a “huge talent”.

She said he was “entirely entitled” to express his views but believes fans would rather listen to his music.

Speaking on a visit to a school in Alexandria on Monday, the First Minister said: “I haven’t really paid much attention to it to be perfectly honest.

“Was I a Smiths fan? Not hugely, I liked some of it. I’ve always thought Morrissey was a huge talent but I suspect people go to his concerts to listen to his music rather than hear his political views.

“That said, he’s entirely entitled to express them.”

READ MORE: Music review: Morrissey, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "PAUL WARD"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691771.1519046652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691771.1519046652!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Morrissey played the Hyrdo in Glasgow on Saturday. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrissey played the Hyrdo in Glasgow on Saturday. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691771.1519046652!/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-msp-criticised-over-response-to-scottish-soldiers-killed-by-ira-1-4691707","id":"1.4691707","articleHeadline": "SNP MSP criticised over response to Scottish soldiers killed by IRA","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519043048000 ,"articleLead": "

An SNP MSP who described the IRA as “freedom fighters” has been branded “unbelievable” for refusing to sign a motion pressing the Scottish government to support justice for three murdered soldiers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691706.1519043045!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The cenotaph in Belfast city centre, which became a focus for public mourning following the 1971 killings"} ,"articleBody": "

Fusiliers Dougald McCaughey, 23, John McCaig, 17, and Joseph McCaig, 18, were drinking in a Belfast bar in 1971 when IRA men befriended them and invited them to meet girls at a party.

They were then taken to the outskirts of Belfast and shot in the head, prompting the killings to become known as ‘The Honey-trap Murders’.

The London lawyers who successfully brought a civil action which saw four men found liable for the 1998 Omagh bomb has launched a fund-raising appeal for a similar action against the alleged 1971 killers.

Glasgow MSP John Mason caused outrage with his comments on Twitter in February 2017 when asked to endorse the campaign.

In his response, he said: “Happy to support all campaigns to bring about justice. But not taking sides between Irish and British.”

He was then asked if he was refusing to take sides between Scottish soldiers and Irish murderers.

The Glasgow Shettleston MSP responded: “You say Irish murderers. Others say Irish freedom fighters. I support Scottish soldiers if they do good but not if they do bad.”

After much pressure by campaigners Mr Mason eventually apologised, as did SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, on his behalf.

Kris McGurk, who is spearheading the justice campaign for the three soldiers, recently succeeded in having a motion brought before MSPs which calls on the Scottish government to press for security files on the murders to be released to his legal team for a civil action.

He wrote to his MSP, Mr Mason, asking him to sign the parliamentary motion; however he refused, describing Mr McGurk’s approach as “a bit one sided”.

“I recently saw the film ‘No Stone Unturned’ which told the story of six killings in Loughinisland in 1994 apparently by the UVF with collusion by the police and/or the British Army,” Mr Mason said.

“Again there has not been a court case and the victims’ families feel aggrieved.

“Overall I would be happy to support more of the truth from these times coming out and more justice being seen to be done. I would be happy to support a motion in Parliament along these lines. However, this particular motion appears to be a bit one sided as it focuses on victims on one side and does not mention victims on the other side. Therefore, I am not comfortable about supporting it.”

But Mr McGurk slammed his MSP’s response.

Speaking to the Belfast News Letter, a sister publication of The Scotsman, he said: “John Mason has again let himself, his constituents and his party down,” he said. “Comparing two separate and totally different shocking atrocities is one thing, but then down right refusing to support two Scottish families in their heartbreaking search for closure and truth is just a whole new level of unbelievable.

“How can this Scottish campaign, deeply affecting Scottish families, for the murder of Scottish soldiers and deeply in the interest of the Scottish public, be something a Scottish MSP refuses to support?

“It is this ignorance from people like John Mason that has, and is still, causing victims to wait decades to have closure and justice served.”

Tory MSP Maurice Corry, who is tabling the motion, said he hopes Mr Mason will reconsider his position.

“The motion is about getting the truth and justice for two Scottish families that were devastated by losing their loved ones during the Troubles. I hope Mr Mason will reconsider his position and give his support to my motion,” he said.

But an SNP spokesperson defended its MSP.

“John Mason has responded to Mr McGurk, making clear his support for reconciliation efforts between communities in Northern Ireland and efforts to deliver justice for victims and families affected by conflict,” he said.

“He has also invited Mr McGurk to meet with him to discuss the campaign.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691706.1519043045!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691706.1519043045!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The cenotaph in Belfast city centre, which became a focus for public mourning following the 1971 killings","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The cenotaph in Belfast city centre, which became a focus for public mourning following the 1971 killings","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691706.1519043045!/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/fire-brigades-union-passes-no-confidence-vote-on-scottish-leadership-1-4691541","id":"1.4691541","articleHeadline": "Fire brigades union passes no confidence vote on Scottish leadership","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519034692000 ,"articleLead": "

Fire Brigades Union members have passed a unanimous vote of no confidence in the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service chief officer and his senior leadership team.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691540.1519034687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The union said it is of the firm belief that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had many opportunities to resolve issues. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the vote came after its members repeatedly raised concerns over the availability of fire appliances and the continuing reliance on overtime to crew appliances.

The union said it is of the “firm belief” that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) has had many opportunities to resolve these issues but has made no satisfactory improvements.

As a result, FBU members tabled a vote of no confidence in chief officer Alasdair Hay and his senior leadership team which was passed unanimously at an emergency committee meeting of the Scottish regional committee.

The FBU said it is also concerned that a public consultation on service transformation has started before the SFRS has “successfully integrated all legacy Fire Services practices and processes” and “standardised existing uniformed terms and conditions”.

The union said it has continually made it clear that all legacy consolidation, including standardising of uniformed terms and conditions, must be satisfactory resolved before moving onto negotiations on service transformation.

READ MORE: Concern over 80 per cent rise of firefighters off with stress

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LUCINDA CAMERON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691540.1519034687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691540.1519034687!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The union said it is of the firm belief that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had many opportunities to resolve issues. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The union said it is of the firm belief that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service had many opportunities to resolve issues. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691540.1519034687!/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/scotland-needs-more-ethnic-minority-head-teachers-says-sarwar-1-4691502","id":"1.4691502","articleHeadline": "Scotland needs more ethnic minority head teachers, says Sarwar","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519031948000 ,"articleLead": "

A senior Labour MSP has called for action to tackle the lack of ethnic minorities employed in senior education roles in Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691501.1519031946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anas Sarwar said more needed to be done to encourage ethnic minorities to enter the teaching profession in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Anas Sarwar, former deputy leader of Scottish Labour, said radical measures were required to ensure more non-white people entered the teaching profession and subsequently achieved positions of power in the sector.

Only 16 head teachers or deputy head teachers north of the Border are from black or Asian backgrounds, according to the most recent Scottish Government statistics, while only one per cent of teachers in general are from an ethnic minority - despite four per cent of the country’s population being non-white.

The Scottish Government said a working group on diversity in education was expected to report before the summer.

Mr Sarwar’s intervention follows the launch of two petitions in Glasgow calling for education bosses to protect the teaching of Urdu in city schools and ensure pupils have role models from minority communities.

Hundreds of families from the Pakistani and Kashmiri communities have signed a petition to chief executive Ann Marie O’Donnell, which state the council has made improvements in some areas but still lacks senior education staff from ethnic minorities.

One petition states: “There is a growing disquiet among Glasgow’s diverse children and families due to the general lack of visible staff and, in particular, promoted posts in Glasgow schools and as head and deputy head teachers.”

The council said it had been in contact with the petition organisers.

READ MORE: University of Edinburgh students demand lecture strike compensation

“If you look at higher tiers of public sector bodies — chief executives of government departments, principals of colleges and universities and, indeed, head teachers of primary and secondary schools — and ask how many of them are from ethnic minorities, the answer is either zero or next to zero,” Mr Sarwar told The Times.

“Is that because the talent or experience is not out there? I don’t believe that is the case. That is why I want the government to do a race audit, not just of the workforce but of the leadership roles in the workforce. They should be published every two years, while the Rooney rule should also be introduced.

“It would mean that whenever a vacancy comes up at least one ethnic minority individual would be shortlisted for it, as long as one applies.”

Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, said the under-representation of black, Asian and other minorities in the profession was a matter of “deep concern”.

Mr Sarwar last week called on Nicola Sturgeon to adopt equality training for senior figures in public life to help tackle “everyday racism” in Scotland.

The Glasgow MSP recently claimed a senior Labour councillor, Davie McLachlan, made racist comments during a conversation between the pair during the recent Labour leadership contest, when the Glasgow MSP lost out to Richard Leonard.

This was “categorically denied” by the councillor and a party investigation is now underway.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “Although teacher recruitment is a matter for local authorities, we want to encourage action to address this issue through a working group on diversity in the teaching profession. The group, chaired by Professor Rowena Arshad, is expected to make recommendations before the summer of this year.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691501.1519031946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691501.1519031946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Anas Sarwar said more needed to be done to encourage ethnic minorities to enter the teaching profession in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anas Sarwar said more needed to be done to encourage ethnic minorities to enter the teaching profession in Scotland. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691501.1519031946!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/call-to-scrap-sport-tax-plan-amid-fears-for-future-of-grassroots-facilities-1-4691386","id":"1.4691386","articleHeadline": "Call to scrap ‘sport tax’ plan amid fears for future of grassroots facilities","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519030302000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Government is being urged to abandon plans for a so-called “sport tax” amid fears grassroots facilities like tennis courts and community centres face the axe or massive bills.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691385.1519030298!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "There are concerns that proposed changes would mean local authorities will struggle to build new sports and cultural facilities. Picture: Jane Barlow"} ,"articleBody": "

Labour say vital tax breaks on new developments built by public trusts will effectively end as part of an overhaul of Scotland’s system of business rates which may leave many proposed new developments “unaffordable”.

The plans are at the heart of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s budget which will be passed by MSPs at Holyrood this week. But there are fears it could undermine efforts to improve the nation’s health by pricing people out of physical activity.

Labour North east MSP Jenny Marra said: “These proposed changes mean local authorities will struggle to build new sports and cultural facilities – condemning communities across Scotland to crumbling sports centres and run-down libraries.

“There are a number of stories from across Scotland showing the harm these changes will cause.

“It is bad enough that Derek Mackay plans to take more money out of council budgets, hampering the work they do but it is inconceivable the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport, Shona Robison, believes taxing sport and physical activity is the right way forward.

“The way to improve our children’s health is to encourage physical activity, not make it unaffordable.

“The SNP Government must abandon these regressive plans for a sport trax before the budget on Wednesday.”

A national review of Scotland’s system of business rates published last year called for an end to rates relief for bodies like arms length organisations (ALEOs) which runs sports and leisure facilities for local authorities, such as Edinburgh Leisure in the capital. However, they won a reprieve when Mr Mackay said he would keep the tax break for existing ALEOs but tax breaks will end for new ALEOs.

Labour also confirmed yesterday correspondence obtained by Ms Marra from the Finance Secretary indicates that while new developments built by existing ALEOs may get an upfront tax break, it will be clawed back by ministers from the overall local authority grant.

It is feared a number of projects around the country could be hit by unexpected bills or face the axe. In Aberdeenshire, proposals to move culture and sport within a trust model have already been axed amid concerns it would cost an extra £600,000 in the first year alone, compared with the £500,000 per saving originally expected.

Plans for a new indoor tennis facility in Inverclyde could also be hit by a rise in costs, according to Labour. It is understood Inverclyde Leisure and Inverclyde Council have agreed to put up two- thirds of the local funding on the basis the other third would come from the £15m national pot.

In Dundee the Menzieshill Community Centre, which has already won planning permission, is likely to face an additional tax bill of about £200,000 when it goes ahead.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said new developments will continue to be eligible for relief, but if any new relief exceeds amounts currently provided to council ALEOs, around £45 million, this additional relief benefit will be offset against grant allocation in the local government finance settlement.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Leisure and cultural venues currently run by council arm’s-length bodies will continue to benefit from charity relief from non-domestic rates, following our recent rejection of the recommendation from the external Barclay review to end this relief. However, to mitigate against further expansion of arm’s-length bodies, and to ensure the right balance between rates liabilities and protecting local services, we have decided to offset any additional relief benefit to councils.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691385.1519030298!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691385.1519030298!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "There are concerns that proposed changes would mean local authorities will struggle to build new sports and cultural facilities. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "There are concerns that proposed changes would mean local authorities will struggle to build new sports and cultural facilities. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691385.1519030298!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5723311326001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/lib-dems-investigated-over-holyrood-election-spending-1-4691475","id":"1.4691475","articleHeadline": "Lib Dems investigated over Holyrood election spending","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519028353000 ,"articleLead": "

The Liberal Democrats are being investigated by Scottish electoral authorities over an allegation the party failed to accurately report its spending during the last Holyrood election.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691474.1519028351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Cole-Hamilton (right) celebrates becoming an MSP in 2016 at his office in Corstorphine with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, then Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron and former party leader Menzies Campbell. Picture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

The Electoral Commission will focus on one key marginal seat in particular following a complaint from a member of the public.

The Lib Dems could face a stiff fine if found to have knowingly or recklessly flouted electoral law.

An investigation began earlier this month centred on the Edinburgh Western constituency and the Lothians region.

Current MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton was a dual candidate at the 2016 vote - meaning he stood in both the seat and was also included on his party’s list vote.

According to electoral rules, dual candidates are expected to make an “honest assessment” of whether their spending promotes their constituency or list campaign. Parties are warned not to “split costs of an item if produced mainly to promote a candidate,” the Herald reported.

The Lib Dems regained the Edinburgh Western seat following an intense campaign which exploited an alleged financial scandal engulfing the then SNP MP for the area, Michelle Thomson.

The commission is understood to be examining why around £1950 identified by Mr Cole-Hamilton as list spending was apparently omitted from the party’s national return.

The MSP, now the party’s health spokesman at Holyrood, reported he spent £32,549 on his constituency campaign - £543 below the legal limit.

Lib Dem candidates in other Edinburgh constituencies spent an average of £924.

Mr Cole-Hamilton and his election agent were previously invesgitated and reported to the Crown Office but prosecutors dropped the case in October last year.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats said previously that “everything was done by the book” and they had confidence there was nothing in the complaint.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ANGUS HOWARTH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691474.1519028351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691474.1519028351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Cole-Hamilton (right) celebrates becoming an MSP in 2016 at his office in Corstorphine with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, then Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron and former party leader Menzies Campbell. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Cole-Hamilton (right) celebrates becoming an MSP in 2016 at his office in Corstorphine with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie, then Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron and former party leader Menzies Campbell. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691474.1519028351!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-monteith-jeremy-corbyn-has-some-explaining-to-do-over-czech-spy-meetings-1-4691309","id":"1.4691309","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: Jeremy Corbyn has some explaining to do over Czech spy meetings","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519025477000 ,"articleLead": "

The Labour leader has some explaining to do to retain the trust of his party’s supporters, writes Brian Monteith.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691308.1518984407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North."} ,"articleBody": "

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party has some explaining to do.

When one paper breaks a story that in the mid eighties he was meeting with a Czechoslovakian diplomat who was later deported for spying it might be seen as unfortunate. It might be denied as innocent. When a second paper runs the story but with more detail it encourages thoughts that there may indeed be some grounds to question what was behind the meetings.

When a third paper expands the original story to now include fifteen Labour MPs, including not only the current Labour Leader but the Shadow Chancellor and Ken Livingston then the reasons for any connections with diplomats of a Warsaw Pact power need a full explanation. Simply denying money changed hands does not answer why there might have been any meetings in the first place.

Regular supporters of Labour are no friends of communism; they are not now and were not back in the eighties. Labour voters could be serving in the armed forces, they could have been working in our intelligence and security services, the Foreign Office and Ministry of Defence. They would however have no sympathies with the rulers or representatives of countries that formed the Warsaw Pact. For politicians it is different, for politicians what they say and how they act tells us what they think, what they believe in and how they might use power if government office were to be given over to them.

To consider the meetings of Jeremy Corbyn with the spy Jan Sarkocy we need to remember the context of those times.

Nearly twenty years before, in 1968, Czechoslovak communist leaders attempted liberal reforms – called the Prague Spring – only for the Soviets to send in the tanks to brutally crush it. By the eighties fresh attempts of encouraging liberal democracy were being attempted in Poland, through the trade union Solidarnosc movement. The Soviet leaders feared a violent response from Polish workers if they tried military intervention, their solution was to impose a new Polish President, General Wojciech Jarulzelski, who quickly introduced martial law.

The demands for reform in Poland did not, however go away, and they were soon being heard in Hungary, Bulgaria, East Germany, Rumania – and Czechoslovakia. The communist rulers of Czechoslovakia were resisting change and in the forefront of that resistance was their reviled Secret Police, the StB, with operatives at home and in the diplomatic missions, such as in London.

There could be no doubt that any British MP meeting with representatives of the Czechoslovakian embassy would be the subject of reports sent back to Prague, and if useful, Moscow.

In the changes that were being played out the new hope for change in the Soviet Union, its President Mikhail Gorbachev, had already communicated privately as early as 1985 that there would be no more Soviet military interventions. Instead the Eastern Bloc nations would be free to determine their own destiny – to choose capitalism or socialism. In November 1989 the Velvet Revolution took place and Czechoslovakia chose democracy, and with it a shifted towards capitalism.

When one looks back at that period, especially with the help of the copious and detailed records of the Soviet Union and its satellites that become available every year, we can now contend figures such as Gorbachev were already more supportive of reform than British Marxists such as Jeremy Corbyn.

While Corbyn was meeting Czechoslovakian diplomats representing some of the few remaining hawks in the Warsaw Pact, Gorbachev was meeting Reagan, Bush and Thatcher in an attempt to convince them “perestroika” (listening) and “glasnost” (openness) would bring Soviet reforms and thus strengthen the cause of peace.

So what were the reasons for Corbyn’s meetings with a cold war spy? What did he think he could achieve? Was it ignorance, naivety or both? Supporters of Corbyn may think the meetings amount to nothing, but it is surely by his actions that we as electors are able to hazard a guess whether or not he is fit to be Prime Minister and what his subsequent judgements might be like.

Unfortunately for the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has a record of being on the wrong side of arguments, especially when it comes to international affairs and security issues.

Corbyn’s association with the cause of the IRA and its supporters is well documented and includes refusing five times in a BBC interview to condemn the IRA’s murders. Only two weeks after the IRA’s Brighton bombing that resulted in the direct deaths of five people, Corbyn invited convicted IRA bombers to the House of Commons. He was also heavily involved with the magazine, London Labour Briefing, that carried a reader’s letter praising the Brighton bombing for its audacity and which included the line “what do you call four dead Tories? A start”.

He has said that the Falkland’s War was a “Tory plot to keep their money-making friends in business” despite the then Labour leader Michael Foot backing deployment of the Falklands Expeditionary Force. He has since suggested open talks with Argentina with no right of self-determination for the Falkland Islanders.

On the Yugoslavian civil war Corbyn opposed NATO’s campaign to save Kosovo but also denied the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic had committed war crimes and denied there had been any genocide there.

In Middle East politics Corbyn called recognised terrorist organisations Hezbollah and Hamas his “friends” at a reception he hosted inside the House of Commons and has taken appearance money from Iranian Television after Ofcom banned it for filming the detention and torture of an Iranian journalist. Such behaviour has only encouraged greater belief that he is willing to associate with anti-Semites, such as taking tea on the House of Commons Terrace with Raed Salah, a man imprisoned for anti-Jewish racism and violence.

More recently Corbyn’s worldview has led to further misjudgement, praising Venezuela’s socialist policies in 2015 as “a cause for celebration” while the humanitarian charity Caritas reports 41 per cent of Venezuelans are now feeding off waste food and malnutrition amongst children climbed from 54 per cent to 68 per cent between April and August last year.

The reports of Corbyn’s meeting with foreign secret agents follow a pattern that, at best, suggest poor judgment, but whatever the motive, demonstrate a repeated association with people that have wished Britain and its people harm. Jeremy Corbyn needs to explain himself if the doubts about his fitness for office are not to grow.

• Brian Monteith is a director of Global Britain

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691308.1518984407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691308.1518984407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691308.1518984407!/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/details-of-misconduct-claims-against-former-snp-minister-revealed-1-4691419","id":"1.4691419","articleHeadline": "Details of misconduct claims against former SNP minister revealed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1519021809000 ,"articleLead": "

The details of misconduct claims against a former SNP minister that led to his resignation over allegations of inappropriate behaviour have come to light.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691418.1518990016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former minister for childcare and early years Mark McDonald stood down after it was claimed he sent a woman lewd messages. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Mark McDonald stood down in November as minister for childcare and early years after it was claimed he sent a woman lewd messages referring to a sex act.

He apologised at the time saying that actions he had thought “to have been merely humorous or attempting to be friendly” might have made other people uncomfortable.

He was suspended by the SNP after a second allegation against him emerged.

A Sunday newspaper reported the comments were Twitter direct messages from the married MSP to the woman after attempts to meet up for a chat failed.

The texts for which Mr McDonald later apologised were sent to a woman in late 2016 and were brought to the attention of SNP managers late last year.

The newspaper said one of the messages read: “Cutting me deep”. It was followed by “That’s twice you’ve dingyed {ignored] me now. Twice. It’s ok tho I understand”, followed by sad emojis. A third direct message read: “My phone wanted to autocorrect dingyed to fingered there which I’m so glad I noticed before I sent that message”, which was followed by an emoji with a flushed face.

Private investigators working for the SNP are looking into a number of allegations against him, including claims that a woman woke in a hotel room with him and had no recollection of how she got there, and that he asked a colleague for a loan. The allegation regarding another woman surrounds an alleged incident in December 2015 after the SNP Christmas party in Edinburgh’s The George Hotel, now named The Principal. It was reported that after the party, some guests, including Mr McDonald, went to a nearby nightclub. At about 1am he and another male SNP colleague who was accompanied by the woman are said to have retired to the Holyrood hotel near the Scottish parliament where both men were staying. Investigators were told that, to the distress of the woman, the other male who was with her then went to bed.

Mr McDonald is said to have offered to order the woman a taxi but she was unable to give him the address where she was staying. As a result, it is claimed he offered to let her sleep on his bed while he slept on an armchair.

Throughout the investigation Mr McDonald has denied any wrongdoing insisting his concern was for her welfare.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691418.1518990016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691418.1518990016!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former minister for childcare and early years Mark McDonald stood down after it was claimed he sent a woman lewd messages. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former minister for childcare and early years Mark McDonald stood down after it was claimed he sent a woman lewd messages. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691418.1518990016!/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/culture/music/morrissey-jibe-at-nicola-sturgeon-met-with-boos-at-scottish-gig-1-4691127","id":"1.4691127","articleHeadline": "Morrissey jibe at Nicola Sturgeon met with boos at Scottish gig","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518975657000 ,"articleLead": "

Morrissey has received a backlash from some Scottish fans on social media after criticising First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrissey was performing at the SSE Hydro. Picture: Contributed"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon urged to back or sack suspended MSP Mark McDonald

The former frontman of The Smiths was performing at the SSE Hydro on Saturday evening when he apparently made a disparaging statement about the SNP leader.

Some revellers reportedly walked out of the venue, with at least one person Tweeting about leaving the show afterwards due to the singer making comments about the SNP leader between songs.

He asked: “I am curious. Do any of you actually like Nicola Sturgeon?

He then added: “Those hands will be in anybody’s pocket.”

The statement was met with jeers as well as a few cheers from the crowd.

Some social media users then stated after the show that they had left in anger at Morrissey’s antics, while one Twitter user claimed he witnessed one man forcing his wife to leave the show shortly after the statement was made.

Morrissey previously backed the Yes campaign movement at the Scottish independence referendum, saying the nation needed to leave the “United King-dumb”.

• READ MORE: Music review: Morrissey, SSE Hydro, Glasgow

READ MORE - Air date revealed for new series of Still Game

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FORBES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Morrissey was performing at the SSE Hydro. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrissey was performing at the SSE Hydro. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/uk/calls-for-british-boy-to-be-given-medical-cannabis-licence-1-4691195","id":"1.4691195","articleHeadline": "Calls for British boy to be given medical cannabis licence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518966608000 ,"articleLead": "

MPs have called on the Home Secretary to issue a medical cannabis licence to a six-year-old boy whose rare form of epilepsy improves after taking the drug.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691194.1518964329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Medical marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Alfie Dingley has a rare form of childhood epilepsy (PCDH19) which triggers multiple serious seizures - at one point he had 3,000 seizures and 48 hospital visits in a year.

Last September, Alfie went to the Netherlands to take a cannabis-based medication prescribed by a paediatric neurologist, and saw his seizures reduce in number, duration and severity.

Members of the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on drug policy reform have now called on the Home Office to issue a licence for Alfie to continue taking the medication, which he is currently not permitted to have in the UK.

Grandmother Maggie said: “Alfie has gone from a death sentence to the prospect of a more normal life with school, friends and fun, in his own familiar home.

• READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon backs use of cannabis as medicine

“We want the people who have the power to give him this gift to put themselves in the position of Alfie’s family, to think creatively and with open minds and to find a way forward.

“Above all we want compassion to find a way round inflexible rules.”

With the Dutch cannabis medicines, it is expected that Alfie would have around 20 seizures a year.

He stayed with his parents in a holiday camp in the Netherlands to receive the life-saving treatment, but without medical insurance in the country they had to return home.

Alfie’s seizures, which can number up to 20 or 30 a day, can gradually be controlled in UK hospitals, but over time it is likely he would be institutionalised with psychosis and die prematurely.

Crispin Blunt, co-chair of the APPG, said: “It would be heartless and cruel not to allow Alfie to access the medication he needs to make his life as seizure-free as possible and to keep him out of hospital.

“Parliament really must look at reforming our laws to allow access to cannabis for medical purposes, which has huge public support.

“Right now, however, the Home Secretary can grant a special licence for Alfie to get the drug he needs.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691194.1518964329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691194.1518964329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Medical marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Medical marijuana on display at a dispensary in Los Angeles, California. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691194.1518964329!/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/paloma-faith-reveals-she-s-a-massive-fan-of-nicola-sturgeon-1-4691184","id":"1.4691184","articleHeadline": "Paloma Faith reveals she’s a ‘massive fan’ of Nicola Sturgeon","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518963511000 ,"articleLead": "

Paloma Faith has revealed that he’s a “massive fan” of Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691183.1518963507!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paloma Faith praised Scotland's First Minister. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Morrissey jibe at Nicola Sturgeon sparks walk-out at Scottish gig

The award-winning artist is such an admirer of the SNP leader that she’s afraid she would be stunned into silence if the two ever met.

She told the Sunday Post’s iN10 magazine: “I’m a massive fan of Nicola. I wouldn’t mind her attending a concert but I think I would be too star-struck.

“I don’t often get star-struck but when I’m in awe of someone I wouldn’t know what to say.

“So I hope if she does decide to come along that she’s quiet about it.”

Paloma Faith’s praise comes a day after fellow singer Morrissey criticised Sturgeon at a gig in Glasgow.

The former frontman of The Smiths received a mixed response when asking if ‘anyone actually liked Nicola Sturgeon’ with some of the SSE Hydro crowd deciding to leave mid-show.

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon urged to back or sack suspended MSP Mark McDonald

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FORBES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691183.1518963507!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691183.1518963507!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Paloma Faith praised Scotland's First Minister. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Paloma Faith praised Scotland's First Minister. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691183.1518963507!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/main-players/donald-trump-lashes-out-at-fbi-over-florida-school-shooting-1-4691182","id":"1.4691182","articleHeadline": "Donald Trump lashes out at FBI over Florida school shooting","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518962472000 ,"articleLead": "

President Donald Trump lashed out at the FBI, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.”

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691181.1518962468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Timothy Egan: A kid just schooled Donald Trump on mass shootings

Trump said on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

The FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a “desire to kill” and access to guns and could be plotting an attack. But the agency said Friday that agents failed to investigate.

The FBI’s acknowledgment that it mishandled the tip prompted a sharp rebuke from its boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a call from Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump ally, for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.

Trump and other Republicans have heavily criticized the FBI. They are still dissatisfied with its decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server, and they see signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

READ MORE - Scottish Labour discuss Donald Trump protest

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATHERINE LUCEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691181.1518962468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691181.1518962468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "US President Donald Trump. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691181.1518962468!/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/scotland-ranks-third-in-the-world-for-female-political-empowerment-1-4691180","id":"1.4691180","articleHeadline": "Scotland ranks third in the world for female political empowerment","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518962417000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland ranks third in the world for political empowerment for women, according to new analysis.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691179.1518962414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Ruth Davidson ready to defy UK Government on Brexit

Research by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) found Scotland follows Iceland and Nicaragua in terms of female political empowerment while the UK is ranked 13th.

Analysts from SPICe studied the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2017 which measures political empowerment by the number of women in parliament, in ministerial office and as head of government over time.

The UK ranked 17th in the world but Scotland was not included in the report, so SPICe analysts studied the data to discover where Scotland would be placed.

They found Scotland would be placed at 27th in the world in terms of the number of women in parliament, with a female to male MSP ratio of 0.55. The UK is placed 38th.

The analysis shows Scotland comes in at number seven in its number of women to men at ministerial level, after six countries took joint first place - Bulgaria, Canada, France, Nicaragua, Slovenia and Sweden, while the UK is 23rd.

For the number of years with a female head of state over the past 50 years, Scotland is placed 14th while the UK takes the number eight spot.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “100 years after some women gained the right to vote, women are still fighting for equal representation in politics.

“But this new analysis shows that Scotland is leading the way on women’s representation - with Nicola Sturgeon as Scotland’s first female First Minister leading a gender-balanced Cabinet.

“However, despite the huge progress made in the last century, we still need to go further to achieve true equality. The SNP will continue to work towards a Scotland where every girl and woman can reach her full potential and we will always use every power at our disposal to reach that goal.”

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon urged to back or sack suspended MSP Mark McDonald

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Laura Paterson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691179.1518962414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691179.1518962414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691179.1518962414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/snp-plan-day-of-action-to-save-rbs-branches-1-4691176","id":"1.4691176","articleHeadline": "SNP plan ‘day of action’ to save RBS branches","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518960782000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP has planned a national “day of action” as part of a campaign to prevent RBS branch closures.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691175.1518960779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The bank announced plans to close 62 branches, but has since granted a reprieve for 10. Picture: Michael Gillen"} ,"articleBody": "

READ MORE - Ruth Davidson ready to defy UK Government on Brexit

The bank announced plans to close 62 branches across Scotland, but has since granted a reprieve for 10 premises.

Those branches - most of which are in communities where there is no other branch for several miles - will stay open until the end of 2018, with an independent review carried out into whether they remain open long-term.

The SNP said the move did not go nearly far enough, and has vowed to continue the campaign to keep the remaining banks open.

SNP politicians and community campaigners will gather in towns across the country on March 10 to collect petition signatures.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “After huge pressure from the SNP and community campaigners, RBS announced a reprieve for 10 local branches - but our fight to save the remaining banks continues.

“The SNP national day of action is aimed at keeping the pressure up on RBS.

“They have shown they are willing to listen - but their damaging and misguided plans to continue with the closure of 52 branches across Scotland are completely unacceptable and must be challenged.”

The RBS branches remaining open until at least the end of the year are in Biggar, Beauly, Castlebay/Barra, Comrie, Douglas, Gretna, Inveraray, Melrose, Kyle and Tongue.

READ MORE - Nicola Sturgeon urged to back or sack suspended MSP Mark McDonald

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lynsey Bews"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691175.1518960779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691175.1518960779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The bank announced plans to close 62 branches, but has since granted a reprieve for 10. Picture: Michael Gillen","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The bank announced plans to close 62 branches, but has since granted a reprieve for 10. Picture: Michael Gillen","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691175.1518960779!/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/general-election/ruth-davidson-ready-to-defy-uk-government-on-brexit-1-4691155","id":"1.4691155","articleHeadline": "Ruth Davidson ready to defy UK Government on Brexit","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518954864000 ,"articleLead": "

Ruth Davidson has warned she is ready to  oppose a bad Brexit deal which would be damaging to Scotland's interest.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691154.1518954454!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson could oppose the UK Government's eventual Brexit deal"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Tory leader accused Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson of walking a \"fine line\" in his recent speech setting out his vision for a post-Brexit future.

Ms Davidson campaigned against the UK's departure from the EU and warned that any deal on future relations with the Brussels bloc must be right for British business.

Read more: ‘Do not block post-Brexit security deal’ warns Theresa May
She told ITV's Peston show: \"What I want is to make sure that we've got a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, that we're able to - in the Prime Minister's words - trade with and operate within, to the maximum possible extent, the single market

\"I think that's right for Scottish businesses, for UK businesses, but I also accept the idea that if we are going to leave the EU, then as well as getting a trade deal with the EU we should be able to get trade deals with other countries too.\"

Asked if it was possible that she may not support a policy reached by the UK cabinet on future EU relations, Ms Davidson said: \"Certainly.

\"Falling out on WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules would not be something that I think would be to the benefit of my constituents here in Edinburgh or in the country as it is.\"

Read more: Scottish Secretary criticised over ‘silence’ on Brexit papers
WTO rules on trade would mean costly tariffs on the import and export of goods between the UK and EU. This is widely seen as being a drag on economic growth.

But the Scots Tory leader insisted such a \"no deal\" scenario is unlikely.

\"Nobody, whether a remainer like me or a leaver like Boris wants to see lorries stacked up at Dover.\"

The SNP has claimed that Scotland's voice is not being heard in the Brexit process and Ms Davidson does not have a formal role in the UK Government's Brexit policy negotiating team. But the Tory leader insists she has been ensuring that Scotland's position is being heard.

\"Everybody that's got a position within the party has been feeding in and certainly I've had a number of conversations, in person, on the phone, sitting down with other ministers, with the Prime Minister to make sure that what people coming to me from different sectors in Scotland want is represented and also to make sure that the doors are open for Scottish business, Scottish firms, Scottish organisations to be able to be heard by the ministers that are helping formulate our policies.

\"I don't think Scotland is not being listened to. My job is to make sure that those people that need to get sat in front of the right folk, whether that's officials or ministers get that.\"

The Foreign Secretary said in a speech last week that if the post-Brexit deal sees UK firms too closely aligned with EU rules and regulations, it could hold back growth.

But Ms Davidson said: \"I think Boris Johnson walks a pretty fine line in that speech actually.

\"What I was pleased to hear was him echoing the words of the Prime Minister in Florence when he was talking about the idea that we don't want lesser goods here.

\"We want to be able to have the same sort of level of professionalism. As the Prime Minister said in Florence, folk in the Uk they don't want shrunky washing machines. They want things that are well-built, that work and that don't cost the environment much.

\" That's what we want to.\"

A lose regulatory alignment is likely after Brexit because Britain helped \"write the regulations\" of the EU, having been a \"big member\" for over 40 years.

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691154.1518954454!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691154.1518954454!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Davidson could oppose the UK Government's eventual Brexit deal","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson could oppose the UK Government's eventual Brexit deal","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691154.1518954454!/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/plans-to-curb-junk-food-and-takeaway-portion-size-in-scotland-1-4691153","id":"1.4691153","articleHeadline": "Plans to curb junk food and takeaway portion size in Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518954024000 ,"articleLead": "

The Scottish Govern­ment’s diet and obesity strategy “A Healthier Future” published last year has several eye-catching recommendations.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691152.1518954020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Among the other controversial proposals are introducing portion limits on the size of takeaway, pub and restaurant meals. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Among them are restrictions on junk food and the capping of restaurant and takeaway portions. It said ministers are “minded” to clamp down on promotions on food and drink that is high in fat, salt and sugar.

This could include a ban on multi-buy offers on products such as crisps and sweets.

Among the other controversial proposals are introducing portion limits on the size of takeaway, pub and restaurant meals. Food outlets would be forced to attach labels on menus and packaging disclosing how many calories their dishes contain. It also foresaw a role for the controversial “named persons”, which the Scottish Government intends to introduce to every child in Scotland.

Named persons would be “required to be available and responsive to parents to promote support and safeguard the wellbeing of children by providing information, advice, support and help to access other services”.

The document prioritises delivering a weight management for people with or at risk of type 2 diabetes, pointing out that the NHS spends 9 per cent of its total expenditure on treating the condition. This is accompanied by a “worrying increase” in the disease. The recommendations to tackle over- consumption of junk food have been welcomed by medical experts.

But the Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC), which represents shops including the large supermarket chains, warned they risked hitting “hard-pressed households already struggling with inflation and other rising costs”.

SNP ministers have also said they would “strongly press” the UK Government to ban TV advertising for unhealthy foods before the 9pm watershed. The Scottish Government will also examine imposing new restrictions on advertising unhealthy food at locations “used by a high proportion of children”, such as visitor attractions, and on trains and buses.

Ministers will lobby the UK Govern­ment to extend the sugar tax on fizzy drinks to include sweet, milk-based beverages containing less than 95 per cent milk.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691152.1518954020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691152.1518954020!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Among the other controversial proposals are introducing portion limits on the size of takeaway, pub and restaurant meals. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Among the other controversial proposals are introducing portion limits on the size of takeaway, pub and restaurant meals. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691152.1518954020!/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/expert-seeks-strategy-of-total-war-on-endemic-obesity-1-4691059","id":"1.4691059","articleHeadline": "Expert seeks strategy of total war on endemic obesity","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518911337000 ,"articleLead": "

A leading doctor has claimed the Scottish Government’s anti-obesity strategy needs to be broadened to look at psychological issues, cultural pressures and improving Scotland’s weight loss services.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dr David Blane says the overweight should be given the same priority as smokers and alcoholics with emphasis on psychological and cultural pressures involved. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Dr David Blane also believes more emphasis should be placed on training doctors in working with overweight patients and that obesity should be given the same priority as tackling smoking and drinking.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Blane said he thought the government’s strategy is too narrowly focused on the link between diabetes and obesity and more should be done to look at other complex health issues relating to being overweight.

Although he believes treating diabetics is an important strand of Scotland’s obesity crisis, Blane said more should be done to look at other complex health issues linked to being overweight, such as heart disease and breathing problems.

Blane, who specialises in tackling obesity, will address a conference in Edinburgh this week titled “Policy Priorities for Tackling Obesity in Scotland” which will be attended by public health minister Aileen Campbell.

“For me the main criticism of the strategy is that its focus in terms of weight management services seems to be on people either with diabetes or at risk of diabetes,” said Blane. “That is clearly important, but there are a large number of adults with obesity and other health problems related to their weight, which aren’t necessarily diabetes.

“It is probably less than one third, less than a quarter even of patients that have diabetes. So there is quite a large number of adults with complex health needs and often there are large psychological components to obesity. Often there are situations of adversity in childhood or other stresses that someone has been under which has led to over eating as a coping mechanism.

“I think what I consider a narrow focus on diabetes neglects some of that more complex health problems and particularly the psychological issues relating to obesity. So I am talking about heart disease, high blood pressure, obstructive sleep apnea, other breathing problems plus a range of psychological issues like stress, anxiety, depression, tied up with the societal stigma surrounding obesity.”

He added: “It is about social and cultural attitudes. In the society we live in there are lots of mixed messages. You are getting bombarded with images of what it is to be healthy and beautiful. The fashion industry partly drives that. There are other stereotypes of people with obesity being lazy. It’s a tough nut to crack.”

The Scottish Government is working on an anti-obesity strategy which includes proposals to clamp down on promotions on food that is high in fat, salt and sugar. It is also looking at the introduction of portion limits on takeaways and pub and restaurant food. Much of it is concerned with preventing type 2 diabetes, a condition that takes up NHS resources and which obese people are at seven times higher risk of contracting.

Scotland has some of the highest obesity levels among the OECD countries. The latest statistics suggest that 29 per cent of Scotland’s children are at risk of becoming overweight (including obesity) and 14 per cent were at risk of becoming obese.

Around two thirds of adults (65 per cent) are classified as overweight, a figure that includes 29 per cent who are obese.

The risk of obesity is higher for those living in poorer areas with 28 per cent of men in the poorest areas classified as obese compared with 22 per cent in the more affluent areas. The gap between rich and poor is more pronounced amongst women, with 37 per cent of females in deprived areas classified as obese compared with 21 per cent in richer areas.

Last week fresh statistics found that thousands of children, including some as young as two, have been referred to specialists amid concerns over their weight in the past three years.

Health board weight management services have seen more than 5,000 youngsters since 2014-15, with at least 1,600 referrals of under-18s last year alone. Hundreds of those referred were aged between two and four.

With NHS weight management services facing huge demand, Blane said the treatments available were patchy across the country.

Blane, who is a GP and Glasgow University academic who works with some of the most deprived communities in Scotland, cited a study demonstrating that weight management services vary from health board to health board.

“Obesity has not really had the same attention to weight management services that we have had to other problems like smoking or alcohol,” Blane said.

“The funding put towards the services side of thing has been minuscule in comparison and I think that has knock-on effects, because partly there is the issue of availability of services and that varies across Scotland. Even the services looking at simple diet and physical activity stuff in a co-ordinated way is variable across the country. Bariatric surgery [including gastric bypasses and gastric bands] is extremely variable.”

He added that health professionals do not get the training required to treat obesity effectively.

“The Royal College of Physicians and the Academy of Medical and Royal colleges have both done reports in the last few years saying that obesity is under-represented in training curricula so actually professionals are not getting the training they need to talk about weight,” he said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We have put forward a package of bold measures designed to help people make healthier choices, empower personal change and show real leadership. Improving the food environment is the single biggest change we want to see in terms of public health. Our strategy includes world leading proposals to restrict the marketing of foods high in fat, salt and sugar.

“As with our ground-breaking strategies on alcohol and tobacco, this is the start of a progressive plan of action, learning from our experience in Scotland and further afield, that will make a real, lasting difference to the country’s health. We are currently considering all of the comments received to our consultation which closed at the end of January.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dr David Blane says the overweight should be given the same priority as smokers and alcoholics with emphasis on psychological and cultural pressures involved. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dr David Blane says the overweight should be given the same priority as smokers and alcoholics with emphasis on psychological and cultural pressures involved. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/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/concern-grows-over-rise-in-self-harming-by-prisoners-1-4691011","id":"1.4691011","articleHeadline": "Concern grows over rise in self-harming by prisoners","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518910711000 ,"articleLead": "

Politicians have raised concerns about prisoners self-harming in Scottish jails after new figures suggested there has been a dramatic rise in the damaging behaviour.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691010.1518958336!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From November 2016 to October 2017, there were 506 incidents of prisoners self-harming."} ,"articleBody": "

The newly released data suggests the number of incidents of self-harm in Scottish prisons has increased by 82 per cent over the last three years.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that in the year November 2016 to October 2017, there were 506 incidents of prisoners self-harming, compared to just 282 incidents in the year to October 2014.

The figures represent a worrying trend, with the number of self-harm incidents increasing each year since 2014.

Labour has called on the Scottish Prisons Service (SPS) and HMIPS to investigate the cause for this increase and to attempt to reverse the trend.

The SPS said the rise could be accounted for by new ways of recording self-harm incidents.

The figures showed that there were 288 incidents of self-harm between November 2012 and October 2013. The figure fell to 282 between November 2013 and October 2014 before rising to 328 between November 2014 and October 2015. The upward trend continued with 414 incidents recorded between November 2015 and October 2016. Another dramatic rise saw the total reach 506 between November 2016 and October 2017.

In some cases self-harm can be linked to having suicidal thoughts. Last year 13 people took their own lives while in Scotland’s prisons. That compared with 12 in 2016, four in 2015, eight in 2014 and seven in 2013.

Scottish Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, Daniel Johnson, said: “These are deeply worrying figures that show a disturbing trend.

He added: “The Scottish Prison Service must look into this matter and determine the cause for this increase. They must then seek to reverse this worrying trend.”

A Sottish Prison Service spokesman said: “It should be noted that in November 2013 it was highlighted that there was no consistent method for recording incidents of self-harm. It was agreed that it was essential to collect accurate data as there may be lessons to be learned as well as to inform future policy development. This has led to more accurate recording of self-harming behaviours amongst those in custody rather than there being a significant increase.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691010.1518958336!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691010.1518958336!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "From November 2016 to October 2017, there were 506 incidents of prisoners self-harming.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From November 2016 to October 2017, there were 506 incidents of prisoners self-harming.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691010.1518958336!/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/euan-mccolm-hats-in-the-ring-spoil-sturgeon-high-wire-act-1-4691031","id":"1.4691031","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Hats in the ring spoil Sturgeon high wire act","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518910461000 ,"articleLead": "

When the SNP’s membership began soaring after defeat for the Yes campaign in 2014’s independence referendum, not everyone in the party was thrilled.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Sure, more than 100,000 new members told an explicit story about a party on the up. And the money those new members paid for the privilege of joining didn’t do any harm either.

But, behind the scenes, wise heads in the SNP worried about how the party would keep so many new recruits in line. Those whose disappointment in the 2014 result had driven them into the arms of the nationalists were, by and large, of the view that a second referendum should be held as soon as possible; Alex Salmond’s replacement as leader, Nicola Sturgeon, thought otherwise.

It’s testament to Sturgeon’s skills as a leader that, since then, she has been able to manage the expectations of a huge, unwieldy party membership. She has kept them on their toes, ready to leap into constitutional battle at a click of her fingers while repeatedly failing to give them the referendum they so dearly want. That prize sits, just out of grasp, a tantalising possibility whose existence ensures discipline.

The First Minister’s cautious campaign may be about to be hopelessly undermined as the SNP chooses a new deputy leader.

The previous incumbent of this position, Angus Robertson, stepped down a fortnight ago. Robertson, a Sturgeon loyalist, had held on to the job despite losing his seat in last summer’s general election but, after that result, it was always a case of when rather than if he would quit.

Already, Robertson’s decision has exposed a significant split in the party over how it should proceed on the matter of independence.

The Glasgow Cathcart MSP, James Dornan, was first to declare his candidacy. Dornan, not, I would posit, known for his smart political thinking, stomped all over the First Minister’s cautious approach to the constitution.

SNP members should prepare for a second referendum as early as next year, said Dornan. This, I’m bound to point out, is not how the First Minister and members of her inner circle see things playing out.

And it’s not just on the timing of a second referendum that the views of Dornan and Sturgeon diverge. He told Scotland on Sunday last week that he was not convinced that plans for a second referendum were to blame for the SNP’s loss of 21 Westminster seats last June.

This analysis – if that’s not overstating the quality of the thinking here – runs counter to that conducted by senior party figures who believe (wisely, in my opinion) that the SNP’s mebbes-aye-mebbes-naw approach to another vote on the constitution became intensely irritating to the No-voting majority.

Pete Wishart MP – who has not yet declared his intention to run – is also dipping a toe in the water of this particular debate. His take is rather different to Dornan’s. Wishart, who discovered, when his majority was slashed to just 21 last year, that using social media to taunt No voters as “nawbags” was a damned stupid thing to do, advocates a more cautious approach than Dornan. Now is the time, he says, for the SNP to think carefully about its next move and to consider more thoughtfully the views of those nationalists who voted Leave in last year’s EU referendum.

The SNP deputy leadership contest is shaping up to be a battle between two contradictory positions. Sturgeon could well do without this.

The First Minister most assuredly does not require as her deputy party leader someone agitating, like Dornan, for indyref2 sooner rather than later. She has been quite brilliant in the way she has offered party members nothing when it comes to the constitution while having them believe huge progress has been made. Dornan – or someone similarly excitable – would threaten this uneasy agreement between the leader and the led.

Opinion varies in SNP circles about what precisely Dornan thinks he’s playing at. The two conflicting views are either that he believes Sturgeon is wrong on the timing of a second referendum and is ready to defy her or that he is out of his depth and hasn’t thought of the implications of what he is saying.

Whether Dornan is rebel or fool is neither here nor there. If he becomes deputy leader on the promise that he’ll have the party ready for a referendum next year then he’ll create an expectation among members that Sturgeon will not be able to meet.

A second independence referendum will only take place with the consent of the UK government and, after a majority of Scots voted for Unionist parties last year, there’s no way that’s going to be forthcoming next year; Dornan’s campaigning on the basis of a referendum that won’t happen is either deeply cynical or deeply foolish. My money is on the latter.

Wishart’s decision to participate in the debate – if not yet the contest – will be no more comforting to Sturgeon. The MP for Perth and North Perthshire is a divisive character, whose enthusiasm for goading opponents – and voters – on Twitter makes senior SNP figures despair. As one veteran campaigner told me: “It’s nice that Pete wants to do some thinking – the problem is he wants to tell the rest of us about it.”

Robertson, though rejected by voters last year, had made a decent fist of the deputy leader’s job. A moderniser and political centrist, he was acutely aware of both the importance and the fragility of his party’s relationship with voters who might back it at elections but who continue to reject independence.

Sturgeon will, I’m sure, want to see someone similarly level-headed as the next deputy leader. So far, that candidate has not emerged. Instead, the First Minister is facing the prospect of a battle between two politicians she doesn’t rate.

Neither James Dornan nor Pete Wishart has the political chops to be deputy leader of the SNP. The danger for Nicola Sturgeon is that they destabilise her party while demonstrating their inadequacies in the weeks ahead.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/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/fears-for-future-of-free-cash-machines-in-scotland-1-4691015","id":"1.4691015","articleHeadline": "Fears for future of free cash machines in Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518908933000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish Labour MP Ged Killen has demanded a full review of plans to change cash machine funding, warning that they threaten 45 per cent of the UK’s free-to- use cash machines.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691014.1518956570!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "There are fears for 30,000 free UK ATMs. Photograph: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

Killen outlined his demand in a letter to the UK government’s Payment Systems Regulator, the body which oversees the running of ATMs.

His concerns have been prompted by a proposal by LINK, the UK’s biggest ATM network, which plans to cut the fee that card providers like banks and building societies pay to machine operators every time a customer withdraws cash.

The plan is for a 20 per cent reduction in the fee from 25p to 20p, a change which Killen said threatened the viability of 30,000 free ATMs.

Killen said: “Scotland is expected to be one of the worst regions of the UK effected by LINK’s decision. There are already more cash machines in one corridor in the House of Commons than on the whole of Cambuslang Main Street in my constituency. I do not believe the public will accept any further reductions.

“Following the most recent round of bank closures by RBS and now this decision from LINK, I am concerned that the loss of financial infrastructure on our high streets threatens to leave many people across the country excluded from free and easy to use financial services.”

He added: “The government and the regulator must act quickly to prevent the UK’s ATM network from being desolated and parts of Scotland becoming cash machine deserts.”

 A spokesman for the Payments System Regulator said: “Our ultimate goal is to make sure the UK has an ATM network that is sustainable, works for consumers and provides widespread free access to cash. Our work is delivering that. At our prompting LINK has made changes that will better protect consumers’ access to free-to-use cash machines.”

He added: “We will be keeping a very close eye on progress.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691014.1518956570!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691014.1518956570!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "There are fears for 30,000 free UK ATMs. Photograph: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "There are fears for 30,000 free UK ATMs. Photograph: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691014.1518956570!/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/julie-hepburn-in-bid-to-replace-angus-robertson-as-snp-deputy-leader-1-4691037","id":"1.4691037","articleHeadline": "Julie Hepburn in bid to replace Angus Robertson as SNP deputy leader","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518908783000 ,"articleLead": "

A party activist who has worked with some of the SNP’s senior figures has thrown her hat into the ring in the contest to become the deputy leader of the party.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Although not an elected politician, Julie Hepburn is well-known in SNP and has worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney."} ,"articleBody": "

Julie Hepburn entered the contest yesterday saying the SNP should be trying to convince No voters of the case for independence in advance of a second independence referendum. Although not an elected politician, Hepburn is well-known in the party and has worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney and the Perth and North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart.

She currently works for MP Stuart McDonald and is married to Employability Minister Jamie Hepburn. Announcing her candidature, she said the timing of indyref2 was down to Nicola Sturgeon and the government.

She said: “I think the most important thing we can do now is listen until at such a point there is a clear opportunity for a new vote and there is demonstration that in the wider population there is demand for one. There is no point in holding a referendum until there is an opportunity to win. We don’t need to be playing the match right now. The match is not on. We need to be doing the preparation and training. We should not be pushing our views, but listening to No voters, or as I like to say, those people who are yet to be persuaded.”

Hepburn joined the SNP in 2000 and is currently the research manager for McDonald. Her career has included two spells as the party’s political education convener between 2009 and 2012 and from 2015 to 2017. She is also a former member of the party’s national executive committee.

“We have a lot of very high profile, capable people who can stand in for the First Minister in terms of being the public face of the party, going on television and pushing our arguments,” she said.

“What I want to do is push through the internal reforms which are under way.”

She is the second person to formally declare an intention to stand. Glasgow Carthcart MSP James Dornan has already announced that he will stand in the deputy leadership race to succeed Angus Robertson, the former Moray MP and SNP Westminster leader.

Westminster leader Ian Blackford has ruled out putting his name forward, despite many believing he would be a good fit for the job.

Several others including Tommy Sheppard, MP, Joanna Cherry ,QC MP, and Pete Wishart, MP are considering standing.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Although not an elected politician, Julie Hepburn is well-known in SNP and has worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Although not an elected politician, Julie Hepburn is well-known in SNP and has worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/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-urged-to-back-or-sack-suspended-msp-mark-mcdonald-1-4691035","id":"1.4691035","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon urged to back or sack suspended MSP Mark McDonald","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518908586000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is under growing pressure to back or sack the suspended MSP Mark McDonald as he continues to be absent from Holyrood while being investigated over his inappropriate behaviour.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691034.1518894311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark McDonald, pictured with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond in 2013, has failed to attend parliament since his resignation as a junior minister in November. Photograph: Universal News And Sport"} ,"articleBody": "

Last night the Scottish Conservatives said it was now time for the SNP leader and the former Children’s Minister to decide whether he continues as the MSP for Aberdeen Donside.

McDonald resigned from the Scottish Government back in November after admitting inappropriate behaviour. He has since been suspended from the SNP and his conduct is the subject of a party investigation.

He has failed to attend parliament since his resignation as a junior minister, although he has been seen at his constituency office.

If McDonald were to resign as a MSP it would trigger a by-election for his seat.

Last night the Conservative MSP for Aberdeenshire West Alexander Burnett said: “It’s now over three months since Mark McDonald was in Parliament. He and the SNP have dragged this on for far too long.

“It’s time he and Nicola Sturgeon decided one way or the other.

“Either he comes back in the next week or he should resign and let someone else represent the people of Aberdeen Donside.

“The Nationalists love to preach to others about how to go about their business, yet when it comes to themselves, they go silent. Enough – it’s high time they sorted this out.”

Last week McDonald was embroiled in further controversy when it emerged that he is entitled to a £7,270 “golden goodbye” after quitting as a minister. Under the Scottish Parliamentary Pensions Act 2009, as a departing junior minister he is entitled to one quarter of the extra £29,083 he received on top of his £62,000 MSP’s salary for serving in the government.

McDonald is automatically entitled for the payment despite the circumstances of his departure from ministerial office.

Departing ministers are allowed the payment 90 days after they quit.

His eligibility for the payment has caused anger and this week the issue will be raised at a meeting of the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, the group of MSPs responsible for running Holyrood.

McDonald quit on 4 November last year after admitting he caused a woman “considerable distress”.

He apologised for “inappropriate” behaviour towards others, though he suggested it was a misguided attempt at humour.

Immediately after his resignation, Sturgeon said his behaviour was of a kind “that some others may well have thought was not serious enough to resign”.

A week later, however, McDonald admitted his action had caused “considerable distress and upset”.

After a second claim, McDonald was suspended by the SNP on November 16, losing the parliamentary whip.

The claims against McDonald include allegations he sent a text message to a woman that included reference to a sex act.

There have since been reports that a young woman has complained to party bosses claiming she woke up in the MSP’s hotel room bed – but could not remember how she got there.

According to reports, McDonald had told the woman that he would “look after her”. There is no suggestion of any criminality.

Private investigators are now looking into the allegations made against the 37-year-old.

A report will then be submitted to party chiefs who will decide on the MSP’s future.

A spokesperson for the SNP said:  “Mr McDonald is currently suspended from the SNP. An independent investigation is ongoing and it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691034.1518894311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691034.1518894311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Mark McDonald, pictured with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond in 2013, has failed to attend parliament since his resignation as a junior minister in November. Photograph: Universal News And Sport","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Mark McDonald, pictured with Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond in 2013, has failed to attend parliament since his resignation as a junior minister in November. Photograph: Universal News And Sport","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691034.1518894311!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}