{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/education/pupil-workforce-facing-harassment-by-sex-pests-1-4755693","id":"1.4755693","articleHeadline": "Pupil workforce facing harassment by sex pests","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1529231835000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s teenage school pupils are facing sexual harassment from employers and customers at their part-time jobs, say union officials.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755692.1529231833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Unions into Schools project is helping youngsters to learn about their rights at work. Picture: Frazer Band"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) says many pupils working in cafés and restaurants are reporting being told by their employer that sexual harassment from customers is “just part and parcel” of the work.

Sarah Wiktorski, campaigns and communications officer, said that the STUC’s Union into Schools project, which sends speakers into state and private schools, is uncovering issues which would otherwise remain largely unchallenged by the pupil workforce.

“These younger people don’t have the knowledge or confidence to challenge behaviour which is quite scary and upsetting. They know they are very replaceable, they are very aware of that.

“But with sexual harassment we’re not just talking about the issue, we tell them there are ways they can stop it. It can be actions such as getting together with colleagues and recording incidents. We are educating them that customers and bosses don’t have the legal right to treat them like that.”

Other issues uncovered include older pupils struggling with zero hours contracts, not knowing they are paid less than older people for doing the same job, not being aware they are entitled to breaks, bullying, and worrying about getting home safely late at night because they cannot afford a taxi.

Union representatives said the taxi issue struck a chord with many pupils who were concerned about their friends.

Ross Greer, Scottish Green MSP, and his party’s education spokesman, said pupils should learn about their rights at work and the role of unions through school PSE (personal and social education) lessons .

Terry Anderson, STUC union and community development officer, said school sessions also “upskilled” union reps who got first-hand testimony from youngsters in the gig economy.

“I’m 51 and I’ve never worked a zero hours contract when you don’t know when your next shift is and have to keep checking your phone at all hours. These pupils are dealing with things experienced trade unionists have never experienced. But there is a lot of work to do. I remember one girl asking ‘what have unions got to do with hairdressing?’ which was actually a very good question and provided a good starting-point for a discussion.”

The Scottish Government has provided funding support for the project since 2010, giving £23,500 last year with a similar level of funding likely this year.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As young people prepare for the world of work it is vital they are familiar with the rights and responsibilities associated with the workplace.

“The Unions into Schools project is a great resource helping young people develop the confidence and knowledge to ask questions and understand the importance of equal rights, while also making them aware of their responsibilities as employees and citizens.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Shan Ross"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4755692.1529231833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755692.1529231833!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Unions into Schools project is helping youngsters to learn about their rights at work. Picture: Frazer Band","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Unions into Schools project is helping youngsters to learn about their rights at work. Picture: Frazer Band","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4755692.1529231833!/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-snp-ignores-history-with-politics-of-grievance-1-4755732","id":"1.4755732","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: SNP ignores history with politics of grievance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1529217940000 ,"articleLead": "

Last week’s coup de théâtre has boosted nationalist support, but it’s unlikely to bring the dream of independence any closer, writes Euan MCColm.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755731.1529217937!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Blackford speaks in the House of Commons on Wednesday before he being dismissed for challenging Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

No political party has better understood the dreams of Scottish voters in recent years than the SNP.

Obviously, when it came to the party’s central mission of achieving independence, it found itself out of step with the public, but in elections to both Holyrood and Westminster since 2007, the Scottish nationalists have dominated.

READ MORE: Watch SNP MPs walk out of PMQs after Ian Blackford ordered to leave

If you ask any of those – whether senior politician, special adviser or spin doctor – involved in the SNP’s transformation from fringe players to political titans how they achieved this remarkable turnabout, they will tell you two things.

First, the SNP fundamentally changed its message. Where, previously, the nationalists had stuck with tried and tested (and only partially successful) messages about Scotland’s victimhood within the Union, they now told a more optimistic story.

READ MORE: SNP membership surges by over 5,000 after MPs’ walkout

When Alex Salmond began his second stint as SNP leader, in 2004, he didn’t talk about what Scotland couldn’t achieve while it remained inside the UK but what it could be if his party ran the devolved administration in Edinburgh.

The second thing an SNP player who was in the game at the time will tell you is that the Scottish Labour Party had lost its way; a decades-long connection with enough voters to ensure victory after victory was more fragile than anyone had thought.

The SNP’s change of tack, from perpetually whining about Britain to cheerleading for a bright new Scotland, collided beautifully with Labour’s predicament.

Funny to think now, as former politician Salmond spends his life trying to restart fights long lost, that back then he was the master at soothing unionist fears. A vote for the SNP wasn’t necessarily a vote for independence but an indication that you were willing to give the nationalists a crack of the Holyrood whip.

With a change of approach, the SNP transformed the tone of Scottish politics which, between 2007-11, saw the nationalists happily work with Tories to ensure delivery of policies.

Those days might as well be a century ago, so dramatically has the political atmosphere changed. Now grievance and complaint – amplified as loudly and delivered as hysterically as possible – passes for debate.

Political discourse in Scotland is now conducted in a tone so increasingly shrill that by 2020 it will be audible only to dogs. But while we can hear it, it seems to be working.

The SNP’s Westminster group stormed dramatically out of the Commons on Wednesday because Scotland had been disrespected over Holyrood’s rejection of the UK government’s EU Withdrawal Bill.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed a day later that the stunt (she didn’t call it a stunt but it was a stunt despite SNP denial that it was a stunt. There is nothing wrong with political stunts but let’s call them what they are) had encouraged more than 5,000 people to join her party.

This was all beautifully constructed by the SNP. The UK government is not – unless threatened legal challenges prove otherwise – bound by a vote in the Scottish Parliament to refuse consent for the EU Withdrawal Bill. This means the SNP simply cannot get what it says it wants, But it can create a compelling story about Scotland being ignored.

Whether the vote at Holyrood was meaningful or not (and some might even say it deserves to be placed in the “stunt” category), it created something which the UK government had no choice but to ignore or “disrespect”. Of course, this was not simply a case of villainous Westminster rejecting the views of a Holyrood vote of no legal worth, it was an outrage against Scotland, and all who live here.

Since Wednesday’s events, the political narrative has shifted in the SNP’s favour. The declaration supporting independence by Murray Foote, has added to the SNP’s momentum. When editor of the Daily Record, he had devised the famous (some may wish to prefix that) Vow front page, which saw unionist political leaders offer a more powerful devolution settlement in return for a No vote.

Just a few days after an SNP conference during which she effectively took the prospect of a second independence referendum any time soon off the table, Sturgeon seems to have the wind at her back again.

Whether this remains the case is another matter entirely. The extraordinary influx of new SNP members after the referendum, the Westminster landslide in 2015, a Brexit result that saw Leave win despite most Scots voting Remain – none of these things has given the pro-independence movement the fillip it needs to take it over the 50 per cent mark.

Instead, the appetite for constitutional change remains as it was four years ago.

So does the arrival of new members who joined after the Westminster walkout signal that things are about to change? I have my doubts.

The sight of furious SNP MPs storming out of the House of Commons debating chamber helped build strong political narrative but with the Brexit process a continuing mess of complexity and unanswered (perhaps unanswerable) questions, the SNP may struggle to keep the focus on their party line of attack.

Not so long ago, the SNP’s agreed line on the prospect of a second independence referendum was that Sturgeon was not minded to hold one until opinion polls showed – over a substantial period of time – support for independence at 60 per cent. This, even her opponents privately conceded, was reasonable .

It would appear that this requirement is no longer considered necessary.

The SNP is now fighting an attritional battle, a long, slow grind where even the flicker of another polling point in favour of Yes has members champing at the bit for another round of constitution wars. But every time, in recent years, the SNP has heaved in an attempt to lift its cause, it has succeeded only in further entrenching the positions of both Yes and No voting Scots.

And so the argument rages on, ever louder, ever angrier, supported by the curious belief of politicians that this is now the sort of thing voters really want to hear.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4755731.1529217937!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755731.1529217937!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ian Blackford speaks in the House of Commons on Wednesday before he being dismissed for challenging Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ian Blackford speaks in the House of Commons on Wednesday before he being dismissed for challenging Speaker John Bercow. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4755731.1529217937!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5797046653001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/health/speech-therapist-offers-unique-insight-into-mnd-1-4755699","id":"1.4755699","articleHeadline": "Speech therapist offers unique insight into MND","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1529189244000 ,"articleLead": "

It was when she began to notice her speech slowing with tiredness that Ruth Porter first knew something was wrong.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755698.1529171820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Porter is determined to continue riding horses as long as she can. Picture: Alistair Linford"} ,"articleBody": "

A language therapist, she had also become aware of her gait and the difficulty she had walking in a straight line or running for a bus.

After returning from a 2013 holiday in New Zealand where she had struggled to mount her bicycle, Porter, 67, visited a neurologist who initially suspected she had a brain lesion.

But Porter knew better. Her training as a speech therapist and her knowledge of neurological conditions led her to her own conclusion: motor neurone disease.

MND, a rapidly progressing illness which stops signals from the brain reaching the muscles, is a hugely feared but also widely misunderstood condition which is diagnosed in 200 people each year in Scotland. More than half die within 12 months.

Porter, who was diagnosed in 2014 shortly after moving to Edinburgh, is determined to raise awareness of her condition before it’s too late.

Born and raised in Northern Ireland, she spent her life working with others across the world to improve their speech and language skills, including most recently as an English teacher at the Berlitz Language School in Edinburgh.

It is a cruel irony that her greatest fear about living with MND is losing the ability to communicate verbally.

“I so enjoyed my work as a speech and language therapist providing intervention to children and adults with speech, language and communication needs,” she said.

“There are a number of challenging symptoms with the onset of MND, however, right now, the most challenging symptoms for me are losing independence due to my difficulty in walking, and losing my speech.

“Verbal communication becomes increasingly difficult as symptoms progress with MND, due to increasing weakness in the tongue, lips and vocal cords, in addition to breathing difficulties.”

Tomorrow sees the start of MND Awareness Week, which hopes to challenge some of the misconceptions about the disease.

Despite being badly understood, MND has received increasing levels of media coverage in recent years due in large part to the campaigner Gordon Aikman, who died of the condition aged just 31 after raising more than £500,000 to help fund research into a cure.

Others to have been diagnosed with the illness include former rugby international Doddie Weir and ex-Rangers player Fernando Ricksen.

Porter, one of more than 450 people living with MND in Scotland, said the illness is routinely confused with either Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or Multiple sclerosis (MS).

She is unsure of her life expectancy, but said her symptoms have continued to “march on relentlessly” since her diagnosis.

“Talking is now very effortful and on occasions, some find my speech difficult to understand,” she said. “I can no longer walk on my own, so I rely on friends to get out regularly.”

But despite the disease’s progression, she is determined not to give in, continuing with her passions, including horse riding.

“I ride with Ravelrig Riding for the Disabled Association in Balerno and continue to go on riding holidays,” she said. “I’ve just returned from a week’s horse riding in the Azores.”

She hopes to be able to drive a carriage when riding a horse is no longer possible.

Craig Stockton, chief executive of MND Scotland, said: “This MND Awareness Week we launched a new campaign to tackle the misconceptions and stigmas around MND and I would like to thank Ruth for bravely sharing her story.

“People affected by MND across the country have been speaking out about their experiences and we hope this will help more people understand the disease, its emotional and physical impact and how we, as a society, can treat people with MND, with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

For now, Porter’s training as a language therapist has helped her develop compensatory speech strategies, such as speaking slower or stressing the ends of words.

MND may eventually rob her of her voice, but she will remain determined to be heard.

Visit mndscotland.org.uk/MNDAware for more information.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4755698.1529171820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755698.1529171820!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Porter is determined to continue riding horses as long as she can. Picture: Alistair Linford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Porter is determined to continue riding horses as long as she can. Picture: Alistair Linford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4755698.1529171820!/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/business-leader-urges-snp-to-drop-disruption-plan-1-4755724","id":"1.4755724","articleHeadline": "Business leader urges SNP to drop disruption plan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1529188034000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s Westminster walkout has triggered a business backlash with a leading figure from Scottish industry calling for a swift end to the Brexit powers dispute.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755722.1529180693!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP MPs pose for a picture following the Westminster walkout last week. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

David Watt, executive director for the Institute of Directors in Scotland, said politicians needed to show more respect for each other at the end of a tumultuous week that saw the SNP and Tories at loggerheads over EU withdrawal.

Watt’s remarks came as the SNP was promising a campaign of disruption at Westminster whereby they use House of Commons procedure to frustrate parliamentary business.

Senior figures in the party have compared their guerilla plans to those adopted by the 19th-century Irish nationalist Charles Stewart Parnell, who used standing orders in the Commons to impede work at Westminster.

As Watt made his plea for politicians to work together, a senior SNP figure cautioned his party against going too far in its campaign of obstruction. Jim Sillars, a former deputy SNP leader, argued that a promise of disruption could backfire, because the party’s 35 MPs would struggle to deliver it.

Relations between the SNP and the UK government plummeted to a new low last week after the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford led his MPs out of the Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The SNP made the gesture when Blackford was suspended by the Speaker after he refused to sit down in protest over the House’s failure to debate his party’s claims of a Brexit power grab.

Reacting to last week’s drama, Watt said: “Business needs some clarity about what is actually going on so they can start planning for Brexit. Any disruption between governments will cause uncertainty. This is about things like agriculture and fishing and any lack of clarity over control of these areas will not help us. Politicians need to sort these things out otherwise the economic consequences of Brexit could be severe. The politicians need to get co-operation internally [within the UK] and externally [with the EU] to get resolution on these issues. They need to get on with it.

“The UK government has got to respect devolution and the Scottish Government has got to respect that we are in the UK. They need a bit more respect for each other. There is not much more than nine months until Brexit. It is going to happen and we need to get the best arrangements.”

After the walkout the SNP succeeded in securing an emergency debate on the impact of Brexit on devolution, which will take place tomorrow morning.

Sillars, who himself was suspended from the Commons in 1989 when he was MP for Govan, said Blackford had been “very clever” to ask for parliament to sit in private to discuss Brexit – the demand that led to his suspension.

But he warned that the tight timetabling of the modern House of Commons would prevent the SNP from “doing a Parnell”.

Sillars said Blackford had “won an important battle” by securing a debate, but urged the party not to over-promise when it came to talk of disruption, arguing the SNP should avoid the type of scenario that saw Nicola Sturgeon forced to backtrack on her second independence referendum plans in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

“I think we have got to be very careful of promising what will be very difficult to deliver. It could backfire,” said Sillars. “We already have one example when the day after the referendum in Europe Nicola marched the troops up to the top of the hill and very, very gradually took them back down again. You can’t have that too often.”

Tomorrow Blackford will use the SNP’s emergency debate to make the case for emergency legislation to remove the contentious EU Withdrawal Bill clause at the heart of the devolution Brexit power row.

It was clause 15 of the EU Withdrawal Bill that led to the Scottish Parliament refusing to give its consent to the legislation, triggering the current constitutional stalemate.

Clause 15 would enable certain powers in devolved areas, which are returning from the EU, to be frozen by the UK government for a limited period of time while common frameworks are drawn up across the country.

The SNP believes this amounts to a “power grab” while the UK government argues that the move is essential so that a British-wide approach can be developed in certain areas to protect the UK internal market.

Blackford said: “I am very grateful to the Speaker for granting us this time to debate devolution following the shambolic proceedings in parliament.

“The Prime Minister gave a commitment that she would treat Scotland as part of a ‘union of equals’. Yet she pressed ahead with a power grab in direct opposition to Scotland’s elected Parliament. We hear from the Prime Minister about respecting devolution – but the Prime Minister has ignored Scotland.

“The Tories haven’t won a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland for over 60 years, yet they press on to claw back powers from Holyrood without consent. Their respect for Scotland is skin-deep at best.

“History will remember this defining moment when the UK Parliament chose to reject devolution. This will haunt the Scottish Tories for a generation.”

Blackford’s colleague Stewart McDonald, MP for Glasgow South, said there were “lessons to be learned” from Parnell, but said it would be “daft” to obstruct parliament every day.

“We are exploring options for what can be done,” he said. “If that means frustrating business, delaying votes, procedural tactics to delay government statements so be it.

“If it means doing that kind of stuff in order to be heard properly, we have no problem in doing that. We have used the procedures to make a point. I don’t want to abuse them. We will pick and choose when to do it. I am not saying we will disrupt every item of business on every day’s order paper. That would be silly. But when the time is right then we will.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4755722.1529180693!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755722.1529180693!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "SNP MPs pose for a picture following the Westminster walkout last week. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "SNP MPs pose for a picture following the Westminster walkout last week. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4755722.1529180693!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4755723.1529180695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4755723.1529180695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Watt, executive director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Watt, executive director of the Institute of Directors in Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4755723.1529180695!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/festivals-to-close-two-more-capital-streets-1-4751974","id":"1.4751974","articleHeadline": "Festivals to close two more capital streets","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1528616128000 ,"articleLead": "

TWO key thoroughfares in Edinburgh’s Old Town are set to be closed to traffic for the first time during the peak summer festivals period as part of a drive to improve public safety and ease transport congestion.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751973.1528616124!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cockburn Street, which leads into the busy Royal Mile. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

Cockburn Street and Blair Street will be sealed off between 10am and 5pm every day in August under a shake-up planned by Fringe chiefs and council officials.

The closures would be the biggest upheaval for traffic in the Old Town during the Fringe for around two decades, since part of the High Street between Cockburn Street and the High Court was closed off to accommodate demand from street performers.

The changes are planned to coincide with the proposed introduction of new security barriers which would prevent motorists from turning into the Royal Mile from the Bridges.

The plans have emerged months after an official council report warned of “a very real concern” about overcrowded pavements and the dangers of pedestrians stepping into traffic during the peak festival periods.

More recently, the city council has set out ambitions to hand over more space to pedestrians and cyclists, tackle some of the most “congested and cluttered” hotspots, and encourage a “shift away from private cars”.

Old Town residents have published their own dossier calling for new curbs on traffic in key thoroughfares.

City council leader Adam McVey said: “Our festivals are part of what makes Edinburgh such a special place to live and they contribute to our status as one of the highest quality of life cities anywhere in the world. Millions of visitors bring investment, diversity and energy to our city, but it is no secret this also brings challenges in terms of the impact on our core services.

“In an effort to track the experience of visitors and residents, we have also launched a reporting system to examine the liveability, sustainability and vibrancy of Edinburgh in August. As part of this we are reviewing levels of pedestrian space in central areas during peak times so that we can improve the pedestrian experience.”

Olly Davies, the Fringe’s head of marketing, said: “We’ve been speaking to the council and the police in recent months about possible changes in our licence this year. The thinking behind the proposed road closures is to reduce the possibility of conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4751973.1528616124!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751973.1528616124!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Cockburn Street, which leads into the busy Royal Mile. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Cockburn Street, which leads into the busy Royal Mile. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4751973.1528616124!/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-ghost-of-past-scandal-haunts-storm-in-a-teacake-1-4751985","id":"1.4751985","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Ghost of past scandal haunts storm in a teacake","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1528584462000 ,"articleLead": "

Twenty-one years ago, I was hired by The Scotsman to report on shenanigans at Glasgow City Council. In those pre-devolution days, when local authorities represented the most powerful manifestation of government outside Westminster, all the daily papers had hacks on council beats and we were kept very busy because, although there were good eggs among the elected members, so many councillors were either stupid or bent or both.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751983.1528563969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow City Council Lord Provost Eva Bolander with her chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Ghost. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

In Glasgow, what became known as the “junkets for votes” scandal, saw various members of the Labour group accuse each other of taking sweeteners which influenced their political decisions. It was a meaty story, which saw a number of Labour councillors suspended by the party. This was headline news, playing out on the TV every night.

Glasgow City Council’s SNP group consisted, in those days, of just three members – Kenneth Gibson (now an MSP) and two defectors (one of whom never turned up to meetings) from Labour. With just two functioning councillors out of 83 members, the SNP hadn’t much of a presence in the debating chamber but that nationalist duo exploited Labour’s woes to their own advantage magnificently. They drove news stories about Labour sleaze while insisting that they operated to a higher standard. SNP demands for openness and transparency caught the public mood perfectly.

By the time the scandal ended with the reinstatement of suspended members to the Labour Party, the belief that the party’s councillors were snouts-in-the-trough wide boys had become fairly popular. Labour had nobody but itself and some clever SNP councillors to blame.

The decline of Labour in Scottish local government was underlined last year when the party lost control of Glasgow to the SNP. The city council is now led by Susan Aitken, a smart politician, regarded highly by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and respected as someone of substance by her opponents.

Aitken has distinguished herself among the new generation of SNP politicians by prioritising being a voice for her city over being a voice for her party. It is this sort of reputable behaviour that has some muttering about Aitken perhaps, one day, going to Holyrood, where she’d surely be considered ministerial material.

Aitken is not above good old-fashioned, gloves-off politics when the occasion demands. Her appointment last year of a consultant to examine decisions made by past administrations might have, as a council spokesman said at the time, been about ensuring greater public confidence in council decisions, but it also, conveniently, helped foster the impression that Labour councillors are a shower of wrong ’uns.

All of this makes the peculiar case of Glasgow City Council and the £235,000 Rolls-Royce Ghost all the more baffling.

Last week the council proudly announced that an anonymous benefactor had gifted the Roller to the city for use by the Provost, Eva Bolander. How lovely.

But there was just one problem, one huge, it’s-right-there-in-front-of-your-eyes-you-fools problem. Politicians benefiting from the use of a freebie Rolls-Royce and keeping the benefactor’s name a secret is just not on. Without knowing who had given the car, we could never know whether they had benefitted from council decisions.

We were asked to accept that the council had checked and everything was okay and we shouldn’t worry about it.

Aitken, in an uncharacteristically tetchy intervention, tweeted: “A philanthropic donor, as is fairly common, asked to be kept anonymous. Their wishes have been respected. Full stop.”

But full stop was not good enough. As an opposition politician she’d have torn the Labour leader of the council to shreds for such a complacent reaction.

Matters were not helped by others, such as SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter – a member of Nicola Sturgeon’s constituency staff – treating the whole thing as a trivial matter, “joking” about those raising concerns: “It’s because they think a nationalist donated it I think, in return for free unicorn grazing on Glasgow Green.”

This was idiotic stuff from a councillor who holds office in what they’re calling the City Government these days. It was precisely this sort of arrogance that brought Labour down in Glasgow.

Amusingly, it turned out that the mystery benefactor was one Boyd Tunnock, whose family’s products have played their part in making me the terrible wreck of a man I now am.

Tunnock – a pro-Union Tory Party donor – inadvertently caused the SNP-run council a lot of pain through his generosity. His request for anonymity might have been well intentioned, a reflection of modesty that said he didn’t want a fuss, but politicians should have said no.

I’m told – and can believe – Aitken regrets her initial reaction and that she “entirely gets” why the council should never have agreed to the conditions suggested by Tunnock.

The Labour Party squandered decades of goodwill by treating the voters with what often seemed contempt. Support was taken for granted and this bred an arrogance among many of the party’s elected members, who began to see running big, powerful local authorities such as Glasgow City Council as their God-given right. It turned out that voters did not enjoy being taken for granted and they began to turn to the SNP in considerable numbers.

The lessons the SNP should have learned as it rose and Labour fell – about being more open, more honest and more accountable – were completely forgotten in the case of the free Roller.

This stramash will blow over soon enough and the Provost will get to swank about in her new motor, looking the very picture of civic splendour.

But councillors – all politicians – should remember that this sort of stuff has a cumulative effect. It starts with a mystery Rolls-Royce and before you know it, trust has gone.

If Susan Aitken cares to look across Glasgow City Council’s debating chamber, she will see the haunted faces of men and women who learned that lesson far too late.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4751983.1528563969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751983.1528563969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Glasgow City Council Lord Provost Eva Bolander with her chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Ghost. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow City Council Lord Provost Eva Bolander with her chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce Ghost. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4751983.1528563969!/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/health/insight-terminal-diagnosis-for-homeopathy-1-4751984","id":"1.4751984","articleHeadline": "Insight: Terminal diagnosis for homeopathy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1528578201000 ,"articleLead": "

Lawyer Mary McGowan was horrified when she was first referred to the Centre for Integrative Care (formerly known as Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital); she had been ill for several years with conventional medicine doing little to alleviate her symptoms or even provide a diagnosis, but she was still wary of the alternative treatments on offer.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751980.1528578181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A range of homeopathic remedies, which have now been discredited. Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

“I was absolutely furious with my GP,” she admits. “I thought: ‘What is this – are you sending me for sugar pills?’ I was utterly sceptical.”

Such was her pain, however, she went anyway. Once there, she was placed under the care of a former GP, Bob Leckridge. He had become disenchanted with prescribing a litany of “antis” – antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-inflammatories and antihistamines – and wanted to focus on healing the whole person. Ask McGowan now what she thinks of homeopathic medicine and she still isn’t 100 per cent sure it is effective. What she is convinced of, however, is that under the care of Leckridge her condition improved.

“What I think is missed sometimes about what they do at the Centre for Integrative Care [CIC] is that it’s not just about giving people sugar pills. What you are provided with is a level of care you don’t see anywhere else in the NHS.

“For example, the appointments were an hour long; they were holistic; they looked into everything about you. Bob introduced me to meditation, to relaxation. He did give me homeopathic remedies – and I have no idea whether they worked or not – but I know while I was there, I felt better .”

Unfortunately, McGowan’s health deteriorated again in the wake of flu vaccinations; more tests carried out privately to get to the bottom of her complicated neurological and cardiological symptoms revealed she had chronic Lyme Disease (which is, in itself, a contentious diagnosis). Now, Leckridge is retired and, in any case, McGowan is rarely well enough to make it out of the house, but she says she still uses the pain management techniques she learned at the centre every day.

Although it still has its fierce defenders, homeopathy is an increasingly discredited area of medicine; developed in the 1790s by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann, it is based on the principle that “like cures like”; that a substance which causes particular symptoms can also help cure those symptoms.

Key to the treatments is a process of dilution and shaking known as succussion. The bulk of homeopathic remedies consist of substances that have been diluted in water many times until there’s none, or almost none, of the original substance left.

Unsurprisingly, critics dismiss homeopathy as quackery; medical hocus pocus that preys on the desperation of the chronically ill. In 2010, a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report found homeopathic remedies performed no better than placebos, while England’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, agreed the principles on which it is based are “scientifically implausible”.

South of the border, all homeopathic hospitals have now closed other than the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine, which has been told to stop prescribing homeopathic medicines. And last week, NHS England won a High Court case which allowed it to stop paying the £92,000 cost for homeopathic medicine prescribed by GPs. The court case came about because its original decision was challenged by the British Homeopathic Association (BHA). The BHA argued there was “plain evidence homeopathic treatment does work in particular cases”.

The High Court made no judgment on the legitimacy or otherwise of homeopathy, merely endorsing NHS England’s consultation process as “fair and balanced”. But its ruling leaves Scotland as almost the last place in the UK where homeopathy is still available on the NHS.

According to figures compiled by the Good Thinking Society – a nonprofit organisation promoting scientific scepticism – the NHS in Scotland currently spends £1.7 million a year on the CIC, which is based at Gartnavel in the West End of Glasgow; there are no figures available for the amount of money being spent on homeopathy through GP prescribing but – based on the English example – it is likely to be in the tens of thousands.

When Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board announced plans to close the hospital’s in-patient facilities last year, the move was fiercely opposed by former patients.

But the English court decision means the CIC is once again likely to find itself in the firing line, especially as the Good Thinking Society, which had focused on England and Wales, is now likely to turn its attention north.

BMA Scotland is also opposed to NHS spending on homeopathy. “We believe there should be no further commissioning of, nor funding for, homeopathic remedies or homeopathic hospitals,” says Dr Adam Collins, chair of the BMA Scotland Junior Doctors Committee. “No UK training post should include a placement in homeopathy, and pharmacists and chemists should remove homeopathic remedies from shelves indicating they are ‘medicines’ of any description, and place them on shelves clearly labelled ‘placebos’.”

Michael Marshall, project director for the Good Thinking Society, says the organisation embarked on its campaign because homeopathy was 100 per cent discredited.

“I can understand why a patient would be passionately in favour of homeopathy, especially if they’ve been told by a practitioner: ‘This is the thing for you.’ If you are in a very vulnerable position, and if you have a condition where you have had lots of different treatments and none of them seem to work, I can see why this last resort might feel like the thing and you don’t want that to be taken away.

“The patients themselves are not the problem, but they are one of the reasons why homeopathy persists, as are the practitioners around the country who will seek the imprimatur of the NHS on homeopathy and use that as sign of the respectability and legitimacy of their treatment.”

The CIC began life as the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital on Great Western Road. The design for the current building was put out for competition as part of the city’s Year of Architecture 1999 and its £2.78m construction was funded by legacies and public donations (though, on opening, it became part of the NHS).

Just five years later, however, NHS Greater Glasgow was already talking about closing 15 overnight beds to save £300,000 and – though the board backed down at this stage – the hospital has faced a succession of cuts ever since.

Around 2010 the hospital started closing at weekends and the on-site pharmacy was removed, while the number of nurses is said to have dropped from 22 to two full-time nurses and one part-time nurse in the same period.

Over the past few years, the number of health boards referring to the hospital has also declined; according to the Good Thinking Society, in 2015/16 only five others – Ayrshire and Arran, Grampian, Tayside, Western Isles and Shetland – were still using the service, although NHS Lothian is believed to still refer a handful of patients.

The in-patients facility, which latterly, consisted of seven beds and accounted for just 5 per cent of attendances, was closed last year, but in 2015/16, the number of attendances stood at 5,737.

Other treatments advertised on its website include mindfulness, music therapy, anthroposophic medicine, acupuncture and mistletoe or iscador treatment, which is particularly controversial.

According to Marshall not only is mistletoe therapy unscientific, it is potentially dangerous. “When it’s given to cancer patients on the NHS, the justification used is that it helps with side-effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, but there’s no evidence that it works,” he says.

“What’s worse, though, is that iscador, was designed as a cancer treatment. Rudolf Steiner observed that mistletoe grows on trees and starts to take over the organism, and decided that is much the same as how cancer cells grow in the body. Therefore he reasoned mistletoe must cure cancer. I am aware of NHS GPs who actually believe this stops the growth of cells, even though there is absolutely no evidence that it does”

There is no suggestion, of course, that doctors at the CIC are using mistletoe therapy as a cure and the website specifically states it is not an alternative to conventional cancer treatment.

In the past, some politicians, including Coatbridge and Chryston MSP Elaine Smith, have defended the CIC against cuts. However, while writing this piece, I did detect a general embarrassment around the homeopathic elements of the service (which may have prompted the name change around 2014). Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board declined to put someone up to talk about it, but later issued a statement insisting that, since 2011, no homeopathic medicines have been prescribed or dispensed on site. In other words, the centre’s doctors will consult and advise on homeopathy, but patients will have to ask their GPs for a prescription or pay for the treatments themselves.

As for the Scottish Government, it has effectively washed its hands of the problem by delegating responsibility for the decision on funding to the individual health boards.

The debate over the use of homeopathy is complicated by the fact that – though it has plenty of critics – a number of qualified health professionals continue to have faith in its efficacy. Leckridge now lives in France, but, after spending 20 years at the hospital, he still believes it performs an important role.

“The vast majority of patients asked to be referred to the hospital because their GPs and specialists had exhausted the evidence-based options,” he says. “After all, there are no evidence-based options that work for every single patient. What options are available on the NHS for patients who have exhausted the evidence-based options?”

Leckridge believes the results he witnessed suggest there is more to homeopathy than just a placebo reaction. But he says – even if the treatments were merely placebos – that would not necessarily render them pointless; after all placebos do produce a marked improvement in some people’s conditions. One theory suggests if a patient expects a pill to do something, their body’s chemistry can produce a reaction similar to that of a medicine.

“The whole placebo debate seems pretty superficial and naive to me,” says Leckridge. “Nobody has managed to explain what the placebo effect is, how it works, when it works. So when people say it is ‘just a placebo’ what do they mean? As I said, placebo and doing nothing are not the same and placebo outcomes can be extremely good ones: restoration of normal sleep, elimination of pain, fatigue or dizziness.

“Finally, it’s impossible in any particular consultation to know what part of the patient’s improvement is due to specific effects of a therapeutic agent and which is due to placebo. Surely the placebo response – which we always understood as the ‘self-healing response’ – is an inextricable component of improvement in every positive therapeutic outcome?”

As Marshall points out, ending homeopathy funding is politically tricky because so many patients with chronic long-term conditions – especially those who have been treated like hypochondriacs – view alternative therapies as a lifeline.

In Switzerland, popular support for alternative medicines runs so high that in 2016 the government ruled homeopathy and four other complementary treatments should be covered by basic compulsory insurance.

Perhaps some of this belief in alternative therapies is a backlash to the over-medicalisation of illness. Catherine Hughes, 49, a qualified healthcare professional, says she owes her life to treatments, including homeopathy, that she received at the centre. She led the campaign against the closure of the in-patient beds and has raised a petition complaining about the health board’s alleged failure to promote the service, which she says patients only find out about through “word of mouth”.

Hughes has been ill with multiple long-term conditions, including an auto-immune condition, since 1988. She says the side-effects she suffered as a result of all the conventional drugs she received were so severe she could have died.

“I depend on the service I get at the CIC and haven’t really had a relapse for ten years,” she says. “I wouldn’t go back to a conventional hospital now because when I go in they try to bully me to take conventional medicine and I end up really ill.”

Over her time at the CIC, Hughes has been treated with acupuncture, electric stimulation therapy and homeopathy. “If you have multiple conditions, every specialist you see wants to put you on different medications so your symptoms could be caused by the interaction of all the things you are on.

“The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Catherine Calderwood, has a report on holistic medicine which says it should not all be about prescribing pills – well that’s what the CIC does. Some people come out of there on less medication which is better for them and better for the NHS.”

Still, lobby groups such as the Humanist Society Scotland are concerned people like Hughes are being misled. “Homeopathy has gone through extensive testing and never been shown to have any greater impact than a placebo, so the question is: ‘Is this the best use of NHS money?’” asks campaigns director Fraser Sutherland.

“It is worrying that Scotland is now the only part of the UK funding it. It is also worrying that it might be giving people false hope; that it might be leading them to believe these treatments are doing something where all the evidence says they are not doing anything at all.

“By fobbing people off, is homeopathy perhaps masking the original problem and leading to greater healthcare problems in the future?”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4751980.1528578181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751980.1528578181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A range of homeopathic remedies, which have now been discredited. Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A range of homeopathic remedies, which have now been discredited. Picture: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4751980.1528578181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4751981.1528578190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751981.1528578190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Catherine Hughes says she owes her life to treatments, including homeopathy, that she received at the Centre for Integrative Care. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Catherine Hughes says she owes her life to treatments, including homeopathy, that she received at the Centre for Integrative Care. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4751981.1528578190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4751982.1528578198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751982.1528578198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Centre for Integrative Care was formerly known as the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Centre for Integrative Care was formerly known as the Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4751982.1528578198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-conference-george-kerevan-attacks-growth-commission-report-1-4751784","id":"1.4751784","articleHeadline": "SNP conference: George Kerevan attacks Growth Commission report","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1528473064000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP’s new independence blueprint would leave Scotland “at the mercy of the banks” and put the poor at risk, a leading party figure has warned.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751783.1528473062!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew Wilson's Growth Commission criticised"} ,"articleBody": "\n

Economist and former MP George Kerevan was applauded at the SNP conference when he attacked Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission.

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Mr Kerevan said Mr Wilson’s plan was “too conservative” and argued that his currency proposals would not allow Scotland to grow its productivity.

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Speaking at a fringe meeting at the SNP conference, Mr Kerevan criticised the Commission’s proposal to keep using the pound without shared control over the Bank of England after independence.

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Mr Wilson’s 354-page document said Scotland should retain the pound for around a decade to give time to get the Scottish economy in order.

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It said that Scotland should only establish its own currency once six stringent economic tests had been met.

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READ MORE: Clara Ponsat will appear at SNP conference this weekend
\n
\nAt the event hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs, Mr Kerevan said Scotland’s lack of its own currency would deprive the nation of the mechanisms to influence the economy.
\nUnder the arrangement to keep the pound, Scotland would not have the ability to alter monetary policy through levers such as interest rate levels.
\nMr Kerevan argued that other small countries like New Zealand and the Scandinavian nations had devalued their currencies to prosper.
\n“Andrew rules out a Scottish currency, he thereby rules out the very mechanism that Scandinavian countries and New Zealand used in order to boost their productivity and realign their cost structure,” Mr Kerevan said.
\n“What the Scandinavian countries did in the 90s and what New Zealand did in the 90s and the last decade was to devalue the currency.
\n“What I’m saying is you can’t do what Scandinavia did. You can’t do what New Zealand did if you don’t have your own currency.
\n“If we don’t have our own currency, we are at the mercy of the banks. And it is the banks and the banking system in this UK - this warped banking system - that is one of the real causes of our under performance and our under investment and therefore our low productivity.”
\nMr Kerevan’s analysis was greeted with applause from members at the event.
\nMr Kerevan said the document was “a little bit too conservative” for his taste, adding that he would like a strategy that would pursue growth more vigorously.
\nArguing that Mr Wilson’s approach could take up to 15 years to pay down the deficit, Mr Kerevan said: “My disagreement with Andrew is that I think we need to grow the economy more vigorously and solve the problem that way.
\n“Andrew thinks when we get growth we should split it between paying down the deficit and a little bit extra on public expenditure.”
\nMr Kerevan said he had concerns that a “too conservative” strategy devised to win over people to independence did not do enough for the poor.
\n“But you don’t do that (win over No voters) if you start risking people at the other end - the poor, the unemployed, the people stuck in dead-end jobs, the companies desperate for investment capital, if you don’t provide something for them from independence then what is independence for?” Mr Kerevan said.
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\nREAD MORE: Poll: Rise in support for SNP could lead to seats gain

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\n" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4751783.1528473062!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4751783.1528473062!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andrew Wilson's Growth Commission criticised","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andrew Wilson's Growth Commission criticised","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4751783.1528473062!/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/business/insight-how-the-new-v-a-helped-dundee-get-its-mojo-back-1-4748885","id":"1.4748885","articleHeadline": "Insight: How the new V&A helped Dundee get its mojo back","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1528014026000 ,"articleLead": "

It’s well into evening, but builders are still moving in and out of the old arcade at the back of the Caird Hall at speed. A restaurant needs to be built, a bar must open, the clock is ticking as the city’s countdown to the opening of the V&A Dundee on 15 September intensifies.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748943.1528013991!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The V&A of Dundee. Picture; John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The arcade, which closed in the early 1980s, was where Dundonians once picked up their half-loafs, potted houghs, ribbons, buttons or maybe a roll of linoleum. Children would return again and again for a shot on Champion the Wonder Horse and a free lolly, if they sang along to the theme tune.

While the arcade recalls the city’s past for many, today the building looks directly to the future.

Its new customers will have a clear view across Slessor Gardens to Kengo Kuma’s £80 million V&A Dundee, the bold symbol of the city’s renewal that looks out onto the Tay like a vast ship waiting for its next journey.

St Andrews Brewing Company has reportedly invested a seven-figure sum in its space in the old arcade, with upmarket restaurant Brassica – think not potted hough but crab bonbons and Bellinis – also moving in.

There is chat that a comic-themed enterprise, in a nod to one of the city’s oldest creative industries, will open too to help meet the demand of 500,000 visitors arriving in Dundee during the first year of the museum.

Businesses are springing up , money pours in and world interest peaks in Dundee, a city punished by decades of industrial decline including the loss of its jute industry to competition from India and much of its manufacturing base going to the Far East. Shipbuilding also vanished from the city shores.

Today, John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council, is feeling excited. “Excitement is being felt across the city in a way it never has before. People ask me what the impact the V&A will have on Dundee in the future but I can point to what the impact has been before it has even opened.

“We’re not just talking hard figures. It’s the mood of the city, the feeling, the buzz.

“It’s a city regaining its confidence. I think for a long time, Dundee was a punchline at the end of a joke. Not now.

“We were always seen as the poorer relation to Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. Sometimes that feeling was in the city itself.

“The V&A has really reignited that feeling of pride. People are really proud to say they are from Dundee in a way they weren’t even ten years ago.”

Dundee’s renewal is, of course, not sudden or new and at times has been hard fought. Art has long helped to rebuild. At first, artists took to planting urban gardens in neighbourhoods emptied by the exit of the textile industry.

Then, more than 100 public art projects were completed over 20 years. Dundee Contemporary Arts opened and the universities drove innovation. The city became the nerve centre of the computer games industry and leaders in life sciences research.

The masterplan to develop the Waterfront, an ugly mess of walkways, derelict land, concrete and car parks that kept the city centre apart from the river, has been ongoing for 20 years.

Dundee V&A was later added to the jigsaw, with the idea of the museum first floated in 2007 and planning permission granted in 2012.

Planners are now balancing commercially viable hotel and office space with Kuma’s internationally recognisable creation, which ran £31m over initial budget given the technical demands of the building.

A key site in the waterfront development – site six – has recently started to fill up at pace, with the new AC Marriott Hotel and adjoining offices partly blocking the view of the V&A. It sits just a road width from the museum, creating a narrow channel between them.

The loss in aspect of the museum has been a concern for some in the Unesco City of Design Dundee.

Alexander is quick in his response to the criticism. In short, the hotel delivers jobs, investment and opportunity for people in a city that has the lowest employment rate in the UK (64.1 per cent) and where 28 per cent of children grow up in poverty.

He says: “Some people have said leave it open, leave the view open. But that defeats the point of creating employment to help lift the city and its people who are experiencing poverty.

“We are 20 years into a 30-year plan. The V&A never featured in the original waterfront plan and I think people have now bought into the V&A. I think opinion against it has changed wholesale. I think if people are saying ‘we don’t want you to block the view’ that suggests people really love the V&A. And what we don’t want to have is other buildings competing with Kuma’s design.”

Dundee City Council has retained ownership of the vast majority of the waterfront sites, giving the local authority an “interesting position” when it comes to getting what it wants for the city from potential investors.

“It doesn’t matter who you are. We will be asking questions like ‘do you pay the Scottish Living Wage?’ If the answer is no, we will asking them to look at that again,” the council leader says.

Hotel company Sleeperz, which now arches over the railway station, has agreed to pay staff the living wage of £8.75 an hour at Dundee and all of its sites, Alexander says. Commitments on apprenticeships and work placements for young people have also been sought from the new companies arriving.

Alexander adds: “We don’t shy away from the major challenges that exist in Dundee. I represent and grew up in one of the most deprived areas of Dundee. In every individual project on the waterfront we are looking at whether there is a social gain. It not just about the financial side of things, it has never just been about that.”

The way Dundee has used culture to power regeneration has created obvious comparisons with cities like Bilbao, where Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim attracts 800,000 visitors from outside the Basque region every year.

The architectural spectacular, which cost €195m to start up, was brought to the city in 1997 amid high unemployment, separatist violence, pollution and a dying shipbuilding and steel industry.

It is estimated the Guggenheim, both directly and indirectly, generates about €400 million every year and has created 4,500 jobs, principally in transport, hotels, restaurants, bars and retail.

V&A Dundee director Philip Long is cautious to accept comparisons between Dundee and Bilbao, but says: “The Bilbao effect has become well known and a much sought-after phenomenon. Anyone who is interested in the effect of development and regeneration through cultural investment has to be careful when talking about Bilbao. The effect of the Guggenheim has been remarkable and hard to emulate.

“However, if you are talking about a city that has had the guts to go out and attract an extraordinary cultural institution, if you are talking about a city that has a real ambition to build its economy after decline in industry and if you are talking about a city that is perhaps some distance from a capital, then you are certainly talking about Bilbao and you are also talking about Dundee.”

Lorenzo Vicario, from the department of sociology at the University of the Basque Country, recently questioned the perceived success of the Bilbao effect given the rise of inequality in the city. Writing in Apollo art magazine, he said severe poverty had increased in Bilbao since 2000 by 33 per cent and now affects 11.5 per cent of Bilbao households, a figure twice the average for the Basque Country as a whole.

Long says: “A new cultural institution isn’t the cure to all difficulties. It is not something that remedies all but what it can do is help to regenerate the economy, excitement and confidence in a city – and perhaps even hope.”

In Scotland, about 33 per cent of the public visited a museum in 2016, with those aged between 25 and 35 most likely to walk through the door. The majority (55 per cent) have a degree or professional qualification and about 90 per cent of museum visitors come from the 20 per cent least deprived communities in Scotland.

To reach out, V&A Dundee staff have gone into community centres and care homes and worked with mental health groups and military veterans with the message that good design improves people’s live. It’s a message that hits home, Long says.

The museum has connected with about 100,000 Scots so far and its hoped that every person reached – and indeed every person who visits the museum – will treat Dundee V&A as a “new living room for the city”.

Its core audience – the “bread and butter” – will be drawn from those who live within a 60-minute drive from the city. Those who live within a 90 minute drive – taking in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow – are expected to be its next biggest audience. Both groups take in 2.35 million people and are expected to grow.

Further afield, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Nordic countries are of greatest interest to those building visitor numbers at the V&A. On an international level, India, Japan and China are regarded as good drivers of tourists, along with the US.

International journalists are streaming into Dundee on a regular basis, printing publicity of the kind money can’t buy. Lonely Planet recently listed it as one of the must see destinations of 2018, along with Provence, Kosovo and Cantabria.

Professor Paul Harris, dean of Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art, says: “I was looking back at Lonely Planets from the 1990s to see what they were saying then. They basically recommended not to come to Dundee.

“The key risk is now is that people come down for the day and don’t come back. What we want is for people to stay for two to three days – and then come back again. For us, it’s about turning Dundee into a destination but that is already happening.”

Ian Ashton, of Pirate Boats in Broughty Ferry, is already feeling the V&A effect. He set up in April 2017 to take people out on the Tay to look at the museum from the water and had 3,500 customers in the first year. He has now had to buy a new rib boat to keep up with demand, with the small company fielding inquiries from across the world.

While the museum is not actively working to build an audience in London, the English capital will deliver the museum’s opening exhibition, Ocean Liners, which has been on show in Kensington since February to critical acclaim.

Its move to Dundee will fulfil the aim of sharing the V&A’s vast collection with a wider audience, with curatorial staff in Scotland working closely with colleagues in London to build the exhibition, which will feature extensive Scottish content from the Clydeside shipyards.

There is no word yet whether the V&A London’s blockbuster summer show on Mexican artist Frida Kahlo will come to Scotland. In time, it is hoped exhibitions from around the world will be exclusively brought to the UK by V&A Dundee.

Along with 300 items to go on permanent display in the museum’s Scottish Design Studios will be an entire Charles Rennie Mackintosh tea room which has spent the past 50 years packed away, piece by piece, in Glasgow.

Sitting out in the sunshine in the new green space of Slessor Gardens, where concerts are now staged with an urban beach to become its new neighbour, is David Doogan, 52.

Doogan comes regularly to the spot to take in the view and has already tried to get into the V&A for a look, without luck. People are eager for the museum to be unwrapped. Little gaps in the fence surrounding the museum have started to appear, with the barrier prised open just enough to slip a phone through for a photo.

Doogan says: “I’m a Dundonian and I know this city. The city was a terrible place. Where we are now, this used to be a ring road and an entry and exit to the bridge. There was a terrible casino, a terrible swimming pool and Tayside House – terrible. The railway station was terrible.

“It’s kind of mind-boggling what is happening now. In fact it is mind-blowing. It is sometimes hard to believe this is Dundee now.”

If good design betters lives, it seems like V&A Dundee – and the city itself – might just be able do the same.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alison Campsie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748943.1528013991!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748943.1528013991!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The V&A of Dundee. Picture; John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The V&A of Dundee. Picture; John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748943.1528013991!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748880.1528013999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748880.1528013999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The City Quay in Dundee. Picture John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The City Quay in Dundee. Picture John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748880.1528013999!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748881.1528200084!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748881.1528200084!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dundee schoolchildren will receive a special 'Dundee' edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dundee schoolchildren will receive a special 'Dundee' edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748881.1528200084!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748882.1528014013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748882.1528014013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The North Carr lightship. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The North Carr lightship. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748882.1528014013!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748883.1528014015!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748883.1528014015!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who won the competition to design the V&A Dundee.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who won the competition to design the V&A Dundee.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748883.1528014015!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748884.1528014023!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748884.1528014023!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A man listens out in the Sensory Garden at 'Slessor Gardens. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A man listens out in the Sensory Garden at 'Slessor Gardens. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748884.1528014023!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/boutique-hostels-firm-in-hunt-for-edinburgh-site-1-4748811","id":"1.4748811","articleHeadline": "Boutique hostels firm in hunt for Edinburgh site","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527978587000 ,"articleLead": "

A South American hospitality firm is targeting Edinburgh as part of a major expansion into the UK on the back of securing £70 million in funding.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748810.1527951251!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Selina is looking at locations in Edinburgh as it bids to increase its portfolio to 54,000 beds worldwide by 2020. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor"} ,"articleBody": "

Selina, which operates “boutique” hostels which combine accommodation and co-working spaces, is looking at locations in the Scottish capital as it bids to increase its portfolio to 54,000 beds worldwide by 2020.

The company has recently secured Series B funding in a round led by the Dubai-based investor Abraaj Group, and backed by entrepreneurs including Adam Neumann, who founded US-based communal work space firm WeWork.

Selina, launched in 2014 in Panama by Israel-born Rafael Museri and Daniel Rudasevski, now employs around 1,000 people and has hostels across Latin American including Mexico and Costa Rica.

As well as accommodation and work spaces, each of its sites offers services such as fitness classes and volunteer activities.

Steven Ohayon, vice president of business development, said: “We have proven Selina’s concept through Central and South America and now see potential in the UK. Bringing Selina to the UK is a key part of our global expansion strategy and will provide a hospitality experience consumers can’t find elsewhere.”

Ohayon said the firm was looking for long-term leases of existing properties in Edinburgh as part of a targeted entry into the UK market which will also see sites open in Brighton, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

The group will also be opening its first US location in Miami in September, followed by New York and Los Angeles, and plans are under way for investments in Germany, Poland and Spain.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Perry GOURLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4748810.1527951251!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4748810.1527951251!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Selina is looking at locations in Edinburgh as it bids to increase its portfolio to 54,000 beds worldwide by 2020. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Selina is looking at locations in Edinburgh as it bids to increase its portfolio to 54,000 beds worldwide by 2020. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4748810.1527951251!/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/splits-emerge-in-independence-movement-over-snp-growth-commission-report-1-4745543","id":"1.4745543","articleHeadline": "Splits emerge in independence movement over SNP Growth Commission Report","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527592532000 ,"articleLead": "

Left-wing independence supporters have said the SNP’s new vision for breaking up the UK will be a “hard sell” on the doorsteps because it will create more austerity.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745542.1527403527!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Independence supporters march in Glasgow earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Splits in the Yes movement opened up the day after Nicola Sturgeon’s party published its new economic case for independence. Jonathon Shafi, the co-founder of the Radical Independence Campaign, said the SNP’s economic plan must remove its most “damaging” elements.

At the end of last week, economist and former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson published the SNP’s long awaited report from the Sustainable Growth Commission. The 354-page document, commissioned by Sturgeon, set out a plan for Scotland to emulate 12 other small, advanced, independent nations including Denmark, New Zealand and Norway.

The paper, entitled Scotland, A New Case For Optimism, admitted that an independent Scotland would take up to 25 years to match the economic performance of such countries and outlined a ten-year plan to cut the country’s £13.3 billion deficit. Among the recommendations were plans to pay the rest of the UK an annual £5bn solidarity payment to cover Scotland’s share of UK debts and shared services. An independent Scotland would retain the pound outside a formal currency union with the rest of the UK until such time as the economy was strong enough to sustain a separate Scottish currency.

Wilson argued increasing growth could ensure public spending was kept above inflation while the deficit was being cut from 8.3 per cent of GDP to 2.6 per cent.

But the Scottish Conservatives and Labour claimed his approach would lead to years of cuts in public services worth billions of pounds.

The threat of austerity also concerned Shafi, who criticised the report for failing to take account of the views of trade unionists.

Shafi said: “In 2014 the independence movement was galvanised around opposition to crushing Westminster austerity. That too was the theme of the successful SNP general election campaign. The Growth Commission, despite claims to the opposite, would open the door to various forms of austerity politics.

“The report advocates tight fiscal discipline, reducing an independent Scotland’s prospective deficit to no more than three per cent in the first five to ten years, and lower than the growth rate during the transition period. This means reducing public spending to satisfy the City of London, who an independent Scottish Finance Minister would have to answer to.”

Shafi added: “The Radical Independence Campaign will engage with this debate in various ways, and believes that through the course of that debate the most damaging elements of the document can be altered. If they are not, it will be a very hard sell on the doorsteps of all those looking for bold change and who need radical economic transformation.”

Meanwhile, Labour claimed Wilson’s proposals would leave Scotland with a larger deficit than any other OECD country including Greece, Italy and Spain.

The SNP, however, accused Richard Leonard’s party of being “miserable” and said bringing down the deficit would be combined with public spending increases. Of Shafi’s remarks, an SNP spokesman said: “The Growth Commission report is explicitly anti-austerity, and offers an alternative to the Tory hard Brexit – which would leave Scotland facing real downward pressure on public spending as the economy slows. The report provides the opportunity to look afresh at the case for independence, to replace the despair of Brexit with optimism and hope about Scotland’s future. We look forward to hearing views on the report’s recommendations – from community groups, businesses and trade unions, to the wider Yes movement and across civic Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4745542.1527403527!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745542.1527403527!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Independence supporters march in Glasgow earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Independence supporters march in Glasgow earlier this month. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4745542.1527403527!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5789587885001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/health/revealed-the-cost-of-free-paracetamol-to-nhs-scotland-1-4745545","id":"1.4745545","articleHeadline": "Revealed: The cost of free paracetamol to NHS Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527405971000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s 14 health boards have spent more than £57 million on providing free paracetamol since charging for prescriptions was scrapped by the SNP government in 2011.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745544.1527405790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010."} ,"articleBody": "

The figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday through a Freedom of Information (FoI) request lay bare the true cost of the flagship policy to provide over-the-counter drugs on the NHS.

At present the average cost of a pack of 16 paracetamol tablets is around 30p, and around three billion tablets have been dispensed for free.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spent more than any other health board in Scotland in the seven-year period – forking out more than £12m.

READ MORE: Leader: Free prescriptions help better off at NHS expense

The figures relate specifically to primary care costs including GP prescriptions, with secondary care provision, provided in hospital settings, not included.

The next highest spenders were NHS Lothian, who racked up an £8.2m bill for paracetamol, and NHS Lanarkshire, who spent £7.5m prescribing the drug.

Before it was abolished in 2011, the £3 prescription charge raised £57m for the health service in Scotland.

Dr John McAnaw, chair of the Scottish Pharmacy Board, who represent the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland, said the prescribing of paracetamol needed to be looked at in the context of treating longer-term conditions such as osteoarthritis.

He said: “It is very difficult to comment on the cost of one medicine in isolation.

READ MORE: Kevan Christie: Why we should stop running marathons

“This must be looked at in the context of the total amount spent on prescription medicines, and in an era of an ageing population, living longer sometimes with several long-term conditions.

“Paracetamol is an inexpensive but safe and efficient option which is used to treat many different kinds of pain, including the chronic pain of long-term conditions.”

He added: “Any increase might reflect that paracetamol is used as a first choice and frequently reduces the need for more expensive painkillers which might not have such a good safety profile, particularly in our frail and elderly population.”

At present a charge of £8.80 is made for each item on the NHS in England, although some people are exempt because of their age, income or medical condition.

The NHS in England has spent almost £400m prescribing paracetamol in the past five years at a cost of £3.23 per item, despite the pills being sold over the counter at a fraction of the cost.

James Price, campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s completely baffling how trusts have spent so much on paracetamol, which can be purchased for mere pennies in commercial shops. But poor NHS procurement means that it is much more expensive to both purchase and give to patients. Taxpayers should not be subsidising paracetamol when it is much cheaper in the shops.”

Free prescriptions are seen as a tool to reduce health inequalities and a way to ensure people with long-term conditions are able to keep taking their medicines.

Under devolution, Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010.

However, the policy has come in for criticism, with doctors calling for means-testing to be brought in. This was dismissed by health secretary Shona Robison as a “tax on ill health”.

More recently, trouble-torn NHS Tayside decided to cut back on paracetamol handouts in a bid to sort out their dire finances after it was revealed that £2.7m of its endowment fund, which takes donations from the public, was used for routine spending.

NHS Tayside has spent more than £6m on prescribing paracetamol since prescription charges were abolished.

Scottish Conservatives health spokesman Miles Briggs said: “Almost £58m is a huge amount of money for health boards across Scotland to be spending on a drug that is relatively cheap.

“Prescribing paracetamol costs significantly more than the actual drug costs, so we need to try to encourage people to purchase paracetamol from pharmacies and supermarkets instead of costly NHS prescriptions.

“Every NHS tax pound is vital to help improve and invest in our Scottish NHS and the nation’s health – we need to see the better utilisation and spending of NHS resources.”

According to the latest prescription cost analysis from the Scottish Government’s Information Services Division going back to 2015/16 – the total number of items dispensed was 102.61 million, with a gross ingredient cost of £1.10 billion.

Scottish Liberal Democrats health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “With health board budgets under huge pressure, it’s important that all expenditure is rigorously assessed to ensure that they provide value for taxpayers’ money.

“The intention of free prescriptions was to ensure that everyone had access to the essential medicine they needed.

“Health boards should be ensuring that the prescriptions distributed reflect this intent.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Our policy of free prescriptions removed what was effectively a tax on ill health, and is one we remain firmly committed to. The best people to make judgments on when particular prescriptions are needed are medical professionals. Paracetamol provides effective pain relief, and the majority of its use in Scotland is to support the management of chronic disease.

“The spending on paracetamol prescriptions represents approximately 0.5 per cent of the total drug expenditure across NHS Scotland over the same seven-year period. When it comes to procurement of medicines, we work with partners to ensure that they are provided in the most cost-effective way.”

NHS Board/Amount

Tayside£6,081,403

Dumfries & Galloway£1,966,904

Highland£2,763,690

Lanarkshire£7,597,904

Ayrshire & Arran £274,763

Grampian£6,253,095

Orkney£352,493

Lothian £8,271,713

Gtr Glasgow & Clyde£12,758,520

Western Isles£362,566

Borders£1,618,480

Shetland £373,983

Forth Valley £3,674,250

Fife£5,431,986

Total£57,781,750

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4745544.1527405790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745544.1527405790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4745544.1527405790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5647351805001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/why-cleaner-seas-can-be-bad-news-for-birds-1-4745499","id":"1.4745499","articleHeadline": "Why cleaner seas can be bad news for birds","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527375122000 ,"articleLead": "

Populations of some of the UK’s best-known water birds have plummeted to record lows, according to a new report.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745497.1527353172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Numbers of eider ducks on the Clyde have fallen by over 60 per cent in 15 years."} ,"articleBody": "

Results from the latest Wetland Bird Survey, published by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), show numbers of eider, mallard and pochard have crashed to their lowest known levels.

Other water birds – including curlew, goldeneye and red-breasted merganser – are also at their scarcest for three decades.

Experts believe a number of factors are to blame, including climate change, increases in predation, threats from invasive species and land use changes.

However, it’s thought improvements in sewage treatment could also play a big part in the declines of some species.

Research shows sewage outflows can create nutrient-rich sediments that attract creatures such as worms and shellfish, which in turn offer good feeding for birds.

Europe-wide declines in species such as eider ducks, pochard and goldeneye have coincided with the introduction of directives aimed at cleaning up the seas. In Scotland pochard numbers have dropped by 79 per cent, mallards by 49 per cent and eiders by 31 per cent.

Dr Ben Darvill, development and engagement manager for BTO Scotland, says the figures are worrying and greater understanding of the reasons is needed.

He said: “It’s probably a combination of things. In some cases it will be because there are fewer birds and not so many surviving to breed, and in other situations it may be because birds have moved on elsewhere because there is more food.

“If the birds are fine but just choosing to hang around elsewhere because there’s more food then that’s okay.

“But there’s quite a bit of concern for eider ducks. These are resident breeders here and over winter in the Forth and Clyde.

“Studies in the Clyde show populations have been progressively going down since the 1990s. We’re not sure of the exact cause but there seems to be links with improved water quality and long-term declines.”

He stressed that there is no question that anyone is asking for a return to poorer water quality.

The key is to ensure other threats are reduced as much as possible to give the birds the best chance of survival.

“It’s important from a conservation point of view to make sure other threats to eiders are addressed – we need to tackle non-native predators like mink, which can badly affect colonies, and things like disturbance from human activities. ”

Ornithologist, author and researcher Chris Waltho has been studying eider ducks around the Clyde for more than 40 years.

He has seen the local population plummet from an all-time high of 20,000 in 1997 to under 7,000 in a decade. Today, there are between 5,000 and 6,000.

“We know what’s happening at a population scale but we really don’t understand the full causes yet,” he said.

“There are probably a whole variety of factors at play, one of which is water quality. Eiders feed predominantly on mussels, and these have been disappearing.

“Mussels like enriched waters, not necessarily the cleanest but also not the dirtiest as that comes with many other problems.”

The curlew is also struggling north of the border, with the population halving in just 15 years.

Sarah Sander, RSPB’s Curlew Recovery Programme manager, said: “Curlew are found throughout the year in Scotland, frequenting coastal areas in winter and breeding on upland grassland and moorland in spring.

“They are, however, in serious trouble as the breeding population has dropped by 59 per cent since the mid-1990s.

“The main driver of this decline is due to changes in land use, primarily farming practices, conversion to forestry and predation.

“We’re working with farmers on initiatives like 
the Clyde Valley Wader Initiative.

“We urgently need to act now as it would be unthinkable to lose the bubbling call of the curlew from Scotland.”

But it’s not bad news for all wetland birds. Some species are doing very well here.

Numbers of black-tailed godwit have increased more than fourfold, likely as a result of warmer temperatures, while gadwalls have more than doubled.

Geese are also on the up, partly due to hunting restrictions and an increase in food due to modern farming practices.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "lona Amos
"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4745497.1527353172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745497.1527353172!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Numbers of eider ducks on the Clyde have fallen by over 60 per cent in 15 years.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Numbers of eider ducks on the Clyde have fallen by over 60 per cent in 15 years.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4745497.1527353172!/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/edinburgh-branded-too-posh-for-monopoly-s-old-kent-road-1-4745527","id":"1.4745527","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh branded ‘too posh’ for Monopoly’s Old Kent Road","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527374336000 ,"articleLead": "

The makers of a new Edinburgh Monopoly board are struggling to find an option to replace the original Old Kent Road – because they feel the city is “too posh”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745526.1527414083!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The view from Calton Hill takes in several prime locations in the capital. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor"} ,"articleBody": "

Winning Moves UK – makers of the board under official licence from owners Hasbro – said they have sifted through a wide range of suggestions, but there is “a distinct dearth of nominations for an Edinburgh Old Kent Road equivalent”.

They said they may end up opting for “something old” such as the Royal Mile to keep with the Old Kent Road association.

IN PICTURES: 20 places we’d like to see on the new Edinburgh Monopoly board

The original Edinburgh Monopoly board hit the shops in 1998. However, it is now undergoing a complete makeover which will include Edinburgh-themed tokens in place of the traditional pieces of a top hat, dog or car.

The previously released Edinburgh board boasted Shore Place in Leith as the equivalent of Old Kent Road.

A spokesman for Winning Moves said: “We announced last month that Edinburgh is Passing Go and we have been spoilt for choice with very many great suggestions that have poured in.

“At the top end of the board, it’s going to be a challenge getting all the great landmarks on such is the abundance of crown jewels and gems – from the castle to the Scott Monument and everything on the Royal Mile and in the Old Town.

“However, at the other end of the board we face a very different challenge. We have sifted through each and every suggestion and there’s a distinct dearth of nominations for an Edinburgh Old Kent Road equivalent. Maybe the city is just too posh to have one.”

He added: “But we will find an equivalent – the space won’t appear blank. We may select something old in keeping with the spirit of the title of Old Kent Road.”

The public was asked to send in suggestions for inclusions on the new board, which could see James Bond star Sean Connery, who was born in the capital, among the tokens, while Greyfriars Bobby, a miniature Edinburgh Castle and a giant panda were also listed. It is understood that the office for The Scotsman and Scotland on Sunday has done well in the voting and is in line for a spot on the board.

The current board features landmarks including the former Bank of Scotland headquarters on The Mound and the St James Centre – which has recently been torn down to make way for a new development – as well as the former Scotsman building on Holyrood Road.

Other Scottish cities, including Aberdeen, Dundee and Glasgow, also have their own editions of the game – there is even an Isle of Arran edition. The revamped Edinburgh game is expected to be released in time for Christmas 2018.

Suggestions on the game’s official Facebook page include replacing the traditional train stations with the four sports stadiums of Murrayfield, Meadowbank, Tynecastle and Easter Road.

Lord Provost Frank Ross, said: “I can’t wait for my chance to play the updated version. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they’ve incorporated recent changes to the capital into the new game. I’m sure the makers will have been spoilt for choice of landmarks to use.

“Surely the City Chambers must be worth at least £100!”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4745526.1527414083!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745526.1527414083!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The view from Calton Hill takes in several prime locations in the capital. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The view from Calton Hill takes in several prime locations in the capital. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4745526.1527414083!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ {"gallery": {"id":"1.4728737","galleryImages":[ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4728734.1525372325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4728734.1525372325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "sns_14433558_tynecastle_gvs","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "sns_14433558_tynecastle_gvs","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4728734.1525372325!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ]}} ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/health/leader-free-prescriptions-help-better-off-at-nhs-expense-1-4745549","id":"1.4745549","articleHeadline": "Leader: Free prescriptions help better off at NHS expense","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1527372999000 ,"articleLead": "

The greatest myth about the Scottish Government’s flagship free prescriptions policy is that prescriptions are actually free.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745548.1527365840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010."} ,"articleBody": "

There may be no direct cost to the individual receiving the drugs but they must be paid for somehow.

The current solution is for the cost to be borne by a drugs budget under increasing pressure. Once prescription charges raised more than £50 million a year for the NHS. Their abolition meant there was considerably less money to spend on medicines.

Among the arguments against the policy is the fact that it disproportionately helps the better-off. Prescriptions were already free for those on low incomes or benefits, so the Scottish Government’s munificence was not directed towards those in need but towards those who were already doing fine.

In the seven years since prescription charges were abolished in Scotland, health boards across the country have spent more than £57m providing free paracetamol – that can be bought for as little as 30p for 16 tablets in shops.

It is certainly true that before the Scottish Government did away with charges for all, many people would have been prescribed paracetamol without having to pay. But many of those now receiving everyday drugs such as the painkiller for free would have absolutely no problem paying for them themselves.

It is hardly surprising that the abolition of prescription charges has enjoyed widespread popularity. But there is a heavy cost for this policy and we should be willing to discuss whether it’s as fair as it appears.

If we believe that universality should apply when it comes to free prescriptions then we have to accept that our position means money that might be invested in new – and better – drugs simply is not there. We have to believe that the right of the wealthiest to get free paracetamol is more important than the loss to the NHS drugs budget caused by the policy.

Free prescriptions are, it turns out, very expensive, indeed.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4745548.1527365840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4745548.1527365840!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Wales was the first part of the UK to make prescriptions free, in 2007. Northern Ireland followed in 2010.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4745548.1527365840!/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/economy-secretary-keith-brown-says-he-s-not-a-currency-expert-1-4743042","id":"1.4743042","articleHeadline": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown says he’s not a currency expert","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526990716000 ,"articleLead": "

Economy Secretary Keith Brown admitted he was not an expert on currency when he was quizzed by MSPs on Scotland’s economic performance.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4743041.1526994080!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Brown made the admission when asked by Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart to confirm whether the new Scottish National Investment Bank would use Sterling over the next 10-15 years.

Appearing in front of Holyrood’s Economy committee, the Economy Secretary suggested the decision on future currency used by the bank was not one for him.

When asked if the bank would use Sterling, Mr Brown suggested it would to begin with but was unable to predict future changes.

“I think that would be the person that’s got the job of trying to establish certainty going forward to a 15 year period – nobody else can do that,” said Mr Brown, who is favourite to take over as SNP Depute Leader.

“Who knows what changes are going to happen over the course of that time? That’s the currency they’re going to work in, sure, when they’re started, but beyond that who can say what currency changes are going to make. I certainly can’t – I’m not a currency expert.”

Later Mr Lockhart tweeted: “Cab Sec for the Economy @KeithBrownSNP reveals to Economy Committee that he is `no currency expert’. In the week where the long awaited Growth Commission report is to be published this is worrying.”

On Friday the SNP will finally release its Growth Commission document, which has been written by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson.

The Commission has been billed as an economic blueprint for an independent Scotland and is expected to address issues such as what currency would be used in the event of a Yes vote.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4743041.1526994080!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4743041.1526994080!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Economy Secretary Keith Brown","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4743041.1526994080!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-undercover-police-probe-helps-to-restore-trust-1-4742114","id":"1.4742114","articleHeadline": "Leader: Undercover police probe helps to restore trust","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526770496000 ,"articleLead": "

Ensuring public safety will, on occasion, require the deployment of undercover police officers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4742113.1526763614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Timex employees demonstrate in 1993. Picture: Ian Rutherford"} ,"articleBody": "

Whether it’s an operation to target drug traffickers or a plan to ensure security remains tight during major events such as political summits, there are a range of circumstances in which we would expect investigators to work incognito.

But accepting that undercover police work is legitimate and, at times, entirely necessary requires on the part of the public a degree of trust.

The very nature of this type of work means that it – and the decisions that inform it – happen behind a wall secrecy.

The public can only hope that those who order and carry out undercover operations do so only when absolutely necessary. If this is not so, then the danger of injustice hangs heavy over matters.

Given the very real concern that the highest standards were not always met, campaigners have asked for a full public inquiry into undercover policing in Scotland.

Earlier this year, Justice Secretary Michael Matheson rejected calls for a public inquiry into undercover policing after the Home Office refused to extend the remit of a judge-led inquiry in England to include Scotland.

We continue to believe this was the correct decision. Such a step – without hard allegations at this time – would amount to little more than a fishing expedition.

But we will await with interest the findings of an investigation into the roles played by undercover police in political disputes such as the miners’ strike and the anti-poll tax campaign.

Researchers, using legal aid funding, are looking at whether police surveillance extended to disputes such as the 1993 Timex strike in Dundee and the attempt by the so-called “Pollok Free State” to block construction of the M77 motorway in Glasgow.

Campaigners hope their findings will assist them in a bid to force the reversal of the Scottish Government’s decision.

If the current investigations concludes with credible allegations of inappropriate behaviour by officers then there may well be a case for them to have their way and for an inquiry to be scheduled.

If no specific claims of wrongdoing are levelled, that will not mean this is a matter that can be quickly forgotten.

We know from cases south of the Border that undercover officers have, in the past, smashed through professional boundaries, in some cases forming relationships with those they are being paid to spy on.

If nothing else comes from this controversy, let us hope that – at the very least – the light that has been shone on the mistakes of the past will help to ensure that the highest standards are upheld by all officers involved in future undercover work.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4742113.1526763614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4742113.1526763614!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Timex employees demonstrate in 1993. Picture: Ian Rutherford","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Timex employees demonstrate in 1993. Picture: Ian Rutherford","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4742113.1526763614!/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-best-of-enemies-will-thwart-davidson-s-ambition-1-4741956","id":"1.4741956","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Best of enemies will thwart Davidson’s ambition","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526770310000 ,"articleLead": "

Something almost unthinkable happened at the Scottish Parliament last week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741955.1526745263!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson turned the Scottish Conservatives into Scotland's official opposition at Holyrood. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP and Scottish Labour called a brief halt to the hostilities that define their relationship. In order to vote together against Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit legislation these great foes formed a powerful alliance.

The rejection by nationalist and Labour MSPs (and Liberal Democrat and Green ones, too) of the EU Withdrawal Bill might be little more than symbolic gesture – Holyrood has no power to prevent Brexit from taking place next year – but the sight of such sworn political enemies uniting so enthusiastically bears remarking upon.

I believe, however, that such unlikely unity will soon become far more common.

One of the big stories in Scottish politics in recent years has been the remarkable success of Tory leader Ruth Davidson. Having taken charge of a party widely considered to be on the brink of irrelevance, Davidson now leads the second largest group of MSPs at Holyrood.

Labour were humiliatingly knocked into third place by Davidson’s resurgent Scottish Tory Party in the 2016 election. Following that achievement, the Scottish Conservative Leader announced her next ambition: it was her intention, she said, to become the next First Minister of Scotland. A Tory? Leading the Scottish Government? What are the chances of that?

Well, they are probably fairly slender, but then we could have said the same about her ambition to supplant Labour as the second party at Holyrood until very recently, couldn’t we? Sure, Davidson had better polling figures than either of her predecessors and, yes, she had the issue of opposition to a second independence around which to build a campaign, but until the results began coming in two years ago, the idea that the Tories could seriously mount any kind of Caledonian comeback seemed optimistic, to say the least.

With the issue of independence continuing to dominate Scottish politics, Davidson hopes her continued commitment to the endurance of the UK will pay even greater dividends, leaving her as leader of the largest party at Holyrood after the 2021 election.

She may be pitching a little high, there, but her opponents would be foolish to underestimate her. It is, if not likely, entirely possible that by playing again on her opposition to a second independence referendum, the Tory leader will further consolidate her support among the pro-UK majority that still exists in Scotland. The loss of a handful of rural seats to the Tories and urban constituencies to Scottish Labour could easily see First Minister Nicola Sturgeon lose her status as leader of the largest parliamentary group.

But there is a difference between being leader of the biggest party at Holyrood and being able to form a government.

The SNP may have proved, in 2011, that the Scottish Parliament’s voting system – designed to encourage cooperation and even formal coalition – could result in an overall majority for one party, but that remains a most unusual outcome. Not even Davidson’s most enthusiastic supporters would suggest she has it in her to lead the Scottish Tories to an overall majority. Instead, her best chance of obtaining the keys to Bute House would be to try – just as Alex Salmond did after his first Scottish parliamentary election victory – to form a minority government.

And this, chums, is the point at which Davidson’s dream will die.

Pragmatists – they do still exist – in both Scottish Labour and the SNP agree that they would work together to prevent the Tories taking power.

Recent years have seen the relationship between the nationalists and Labour deteriorate to new lows; mutual disdain developed into visceral hatred during the independence referendum campaign, when the accusation that Labour politicians were nothing more than “red Tories” became terribly fashionable. This charge helped the SNP win both Holyrood and Westminster seats in areas – Glasgow, for example – that were, until very recently, considered Labour strongholds.

Could the animosity between these two parties – both competing for what we might describe as the social democrat vote – really be overcome? In the name of preventing a Tory government at Holyrood it most certainly could.

As one SNP source put it, if the Conservative Party manages to leapfrog the nationalists in 2021, it will be up to Labour to decide whether it does nothing and lets Davidson into office or it supports the SNP, either formally or informally.

The SNP and Scottish Labour have previously worked together on a number of councils but the national narrative remains that they hold fundamentally different values. Further success for the Tories will only show how inaccurate that view is.

Ah, but what about the matter of a second independence referendum? Sturgeon has – kind of, sort of – promised her supporters that a second kick of the constitutional ball will soon take place. How would that sit with a political arrangement with Labour?

The scuppering of a second indyref would be Labour’s victory to claim, should it choose. In reality, an election result that meant the nationalists required Labour support to retain power would have already removed the pro-independence majority among MSPs.

By the time they were turning to Labour for help, the nationalists would have accepted the dream of a second referendum in the near future – perhaps even in the blink of an SNP generation – was over.

It is not only SNP and Labour politicians who see the prospect of their cooperation at Holyrood becoming increasingly likely. Tories, too, fear the only flaw in Davidson’s plan is that fact that her opponents are as one on their hatred of their party.

As one Conservative put it to me: “Would Labour let us in just to f*** up the SNP? Massive risk, that.”

Last week we saw the SNP and Scottish Labour in the unusual position of standing, shoulder-to-shoulder, against a common foe. This unlikely alliance should send the clearest message to Ruth Davidson that she is never going to be First Minister.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741955.1526745263!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741955.1526745263!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ruth Davidson turned the Scottish Conservatives into Scotland's official opposition at Holyrood. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ruth Davidson turned the Scottish Conservatives into Scotland's official opposition at Holyrood. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741955.1526745263!/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/health/dani-garavelli-throwing-out-pizzas-with-swimming-bath-water-1-4741950","id":"1.4741950","articleHeadline": "Dani Garavelli: Throwing out pizzas with swimming bath water","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526770260000 ,"articleLead": "

I am aware some people have always found Jamie Oliver insufferable: that boyish smarm, that hint of condescension about how less well-off people live their lives, provokes in them a perverse urge to stuff their faces with macaroni pies. Suffice it to say that in Oliver-hating terms, I am late to the garden party. Though I was not blind to his snobbery, I thought his efforts to excise Turkey Twizzlers from school dinners were well-intentioned and his campaign for a sugar tax worth a shot.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741949.1526744567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon meets Jamie Oliver at his HQ in London, where she announced new childhood obesity initiatives. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA"} ,"articleBody": "

Last week’s call for a ban on 
2-for-1 pizzas, however, pushed me firmly into the anti-Oliver camp and not merely because a man who has made millions from selling Italian food to those who could afford to eat it in a restaurant appeared to be sneering at those whose only hopes of enjoying the same experience was to look out for special offers at their local takeaway. His proposal just seemed so superficial, so facile, so lacking in any understanding of how ordinary families function or any attempt to get to grips with the complexities of the interplay between deprivation and the UK’s obesity problem; it was as if a veil had been pulled back to reveal Oliver in all his paternalistic glory.

After a year in which Scottish food banks handed out 170,625 three-day emergency food parcels, just under a third of which were to children, could the TV chef really believe the odd Margherita was the crux of this generation’s nutritional problems?

It was disappointing, then, to see the First Minister, whose party has not shied away from transformative health policies, such as minimum pricing for alcohol and the campaign for a drugs consumption facility, endorsing Oliver’s idea as she announced a target of halving child obesity in Scotland by 2030.

Given that statistics show one in three of the country’s children are at risk of being overweight, with a further 14 per cent at risk of being obese, few people would argue against making children’s diets a priority.

Those who are obese as children are likely to continue being obese into adulthood and are at increased risk of suffering from diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Two in three adults in Scotland are now overweight and the annual cost to the NHS of obesity is estimated at between £360m and £600m.

Since 2000, childhood obesity levels have remained static, which means that for almost 20 years, despite hundreds of thousands of pounds being invested in healthy eating initiatives, few inroads have been made.

The notion that cracking down on 2-for-1 promotions is the answer to all this, however, could only come courtesy of someone who has never had to fill empty bellies on a tight budget; the kind of person who wonders why those from deprived areas might spend money they don’t have on a plasma TV (it’s because they can’t afford to go out at night, Jamie).

Choosing to eat healthily is in many ways the prerogative of the better off; it’s easy to make smoothies if you own a liquidiser; cheap meat casseroles are a cinch if you have a large pot to put them in and aren’t scrabbling around for coins to feed the electricity metre; little tubs of hummus are a joy, especially if they come beautifully packaged from Waitrose. Add to this the effort of shopping when the nearest supermarket is two bus rides away and the kids are hungry and irritable and demanding something to eat Right This Minute.

Offers like Domino’s Two for Tuesday allow those whose lives are a daily struggle to inject a frisson of excitement into the occasional mealtime; to take the pressure off, for once, so maybe their time together as a family will be less fraught. Although still far from cheap, two large pizzas for the price of one may also enable those whose parents could not otherwise afford to cope with more mouths to invite a few of their friends round for tea.

Outlawing such offers might arguably make the odd pound or so difference to some children’s weight, but it would also strip another small pleasure from lives that are already more difficult than Oliver is ever likely to experience.

And, yes, I can see there is a potential contradiction here: how is it possible to support the Scottish Government’s minimum pricing on alcohol – as I do – while arguing against similarly interventionist action on unhealthy food? The answer is this: alcohol is something we choose to consume, but eating is a necessity. The way to tackle obesity, therefore, is not to make junk food more expensive, but to make healthy food cheaper and more accessible and – above all – to ensure people are invested in their own well-being.

To encourage kids to do more exercise too, of course. In a piece of spectacularly unfortunate timing, at roughly the same time as Sturgeon was telling Oliver about her plans to clamp down on cheap junk food promotions, Glasgow City Council was announcing the scrapping of unlimited free swimming for children and pensioners. From 28 May, under-18s will have to pay £1 a session, while OAPs will pay £3.

Depute council leader David McDonald said this decision was made because the take-up of free swimming for concessions had plummeted since the policy was introduced in 2001 and because the most affluent were making more use of it than the least affluent.

Surely though, the response to this is not to further discourage those from deprived areas by introducing charges, however minimal, but to go into schools and encourage more young people to go along. The thing about swimming is it’s the most egalitarian of sports: it requires no expensive equipment, no forward planning and you can take part in groups of any size. All you need is to grab trunks and towel and you are good to go.

McDonald says Glasgow City Council has reduced the cost of an adult swim and there will be targeted free swimming during weekends and the holidays so kids will still be able to benefit so long as they are organised enough to check out timings in advance. Yet cuts like these send out a negative message in a city where poor health is entrenched, especially given that reports on the Commonwealth Games suggest there has been little dividend in terms of increased participation in physical activity.

I am not suggesting there is a quick fix to any of this: consoles, smart phones, poverty, out-of-town supermarkets and several generations’ reliance on convenience foods all play their part in an intricate web of factors which fuel poor choices.

Perhaps Sturgeon’s plans to halve child obesity by 2030 are more complex than her chat with Oliver would suggest. I hope so. Because pretending this can be solved by a proxy war on Domino’s won’t help fill rumbling stomachs, but it could leave a bad taste in the mouth.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Dani Garavelli"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741949.1526744567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741949.1526744567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon meets Jamie Oliver at his HQ in London, where she announced new childhood obesity initiatives. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon meets Jamie Oliver at his HQ in London, where she announced new childhood obesity initiatives. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741949.1526744567!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/electric-boost-to-north-coast-500-s-green-credentials-1-4741890","id":"1.4741890","articleHeadline": "Electric boost to North Coast 500’s green credentials","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526767464000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s most famous scenic driving route is turning green as the North Coast 500 signs an electric vehicle firm to its list of partners.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741888.1526737769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bealach na Ba is one of the route's highlights"} ,"articleBody": "

The new deal, with Ingliston-based Ecosse EV, means travellers can undertake the popular Highland tour with a much reduced carbon footprint.

The company runs a fleet of luxury Teslas, offering chauffeur-driven travel and self-drive options.

Last year a team from North Coast 500 confirmed the route’s suitability for electric motoring. There are already at least 42 EV charging points along the way, while some hotels have installed chargers for use by guests.

Stephen Dunn, chief operating officer of Ecosse EV, said: “The North Coast 500 is the perfect platform in which to highlight the environmental benefits of choosing the zero-emissions alternative in self-drive and chauffeur-drive, without compromising on luxury,” he said.

“As the route grows in stature, the ever-growing popularity brings with it a substantial increase in carbon emissions from fossil-fuelled internal combustion engines.

“Our partnership ensures visitors wishing to experience the route and locals living on it have the cleaner and greener option, which will help support a sustainable future for the North Coast 500.”

The 516-mile journey, which takes motorists through Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness and Inverness-shire, was named the world’s best road trip by Condé Nast Traveler magazine last year.

It includes several challenging ascents and descents, including the famed Bealach na Bà at Applecross – the winding road climbs in a series of hairpin bends to 626m above sea level over about four miles.

A recent report suggests marketing of the North Coast 500 attracted 29,000 additional visitors to the Highlands – worth an extra £9 million – in the first 12 months after its launch in 2015. The research, commissioned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, showed an average 26 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared with a six per cent rise across the Highland region.

The tourist organisation VisitScotland has described it as “the ultimate 500-mile journey”, offering access to historical castles, spectacular beaches and dramatic mountains along the way.

Chris Taylor, regional leadership director for VisitScotland, said: “The North Coast 500 has been a huge success for Scotland’s visitor economy, generating millions of pounds in additional spend as well as showing off the incredible scenery and attractions across the Highlands.

“Ecosse EV is one of several companies that have shown real innovation by creating a product that allows visitors to combine their desire to explore Scotland with their environmental responsibilities, contributing to ongoing efforts to make our country a sustainable destination.”

Tom Campbell, managing director of North Coast 500, added: “We are delighted to be working with Ecosse EV, our newest corporate partners. This is another great addition to the options available for travellers on the North Coast 500.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ilona Amos"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741888.1526737769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741888.1526737769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Bealach na Ba is one of the route's highlights","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Bealach na Ba is one of the route's highlights","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741888.1526737769!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741889.1526737777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741889.1526737777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tesla drivers won't be left stranded by a lack of charging points","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tesla drivers won't be left stranded by a lack of charging points","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741889.1526737777!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-msp-john-mason-suggests-disabled-celtic-fan-should-support-another-team-1-4741040","id":"1.4741040","articleHeadline": "SNP MSP John Mason suggests disabled Celtic fan should support another team","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526565983000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP MSP John Mason told a disabled Celtic fan to think about supporting another team when he raised concerns that parking restrictions at the ground would stop him from going to games.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741130.1528300911!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Mason, the SNP MP for Glasgow East."} ,"articleBody": "

The Glasgow Shettleston MSP was contacted by the Newcastle-based Celtic fan, who explained that he is unable to walk for more than 10 minutes.

READ MORE: John Mason apologises for IRA ‘freedom fighters’ comment

The fan, who is a season ticket holder, expressed concern that a parking ban for match days at Celtic Park would mean he was unable to attend matches.

In an email, Mr Mason said: “Could you think about supporting a smaller more local club that would appreciate your adding to their crowd?”

Mr Mason is a Clyde supporter.

READ MORE: Majority of Scots concerned how Brexit will impact on them

Labour MSP James Kelly said Mr Mason had made an “outrageous comment”.

Mr Kelly said: “Rather than representing the interests of a disabled man who wants to bring his custom and spend his money in John Mason’s constituency, he is just telling him to go support another football team. 

“It’s a ludicrous response from a politician who has been a constant source of embarrassment for the SNP. 

Mr Kelly added: “If John Mason’s attitude is to tell people to stay away from the East End of Glasgow he’ll soon find the voters in Shettleston will send him packing too.”

Mr Mason said the email was only one part of a wide discussion. He said there was a “huge problem” with inappropriate parking around Celtic Park and he supported the council’s proposal to make the area a more controlled parking zone.

Mr Mason said: “In response to several folk raising the question of disabled fans or others who could not walk far, I have said that there is plenty of room for these fans to park if those who are able to walk 20 minutes would park further away in a more considerate manner. 

“The parking problem is not caused by disabled fans.  It is caused by perfectly able bodied fans (often with very expensive cars!) wanting to park as close as possible to Celtic Park (and I think the other major stadia in the City) with no regard for residents. I hope that clarifies my position.

 “However, as a more general point, I am a Clyde supporter and would like to see more fans considering supporting smaller more local teams… like Clyde!  (To be fair to the gentlemen I was chatting to on social media or email, he told me he does also support a local team, so well done to him.)”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4741130.1528300911!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4741130.1528300911!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "John Mason, the SNP MP for Glasgow East.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "John Mason, the SNP MP for Glasgow East.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4741130.1528300911!/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/fmqs-nicola-sturgeon-tackled-over-school-subject-scandal-1-4741000","id":"1.4741000","articleHeadline": "FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon tackled over school subject ‘scandal’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526562382000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish pupils are facing a shrinking choice of subjects with the majority of schools only offering six subjects to S4 pupils, Holyrood has heard.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4720829.1526571168!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon"} ,"articleBody": "

At First Minister’s Questions, Tory leader Ruth Davidson described the situation as a “scandal” and called for a Holyrood inquiry.

Ms Davidson quoted work carried out by Professor Jim Scott, which found that subject choice fell dramatically when schools in poor areas were compared with those in the wealthiest areas.

The Tory leader said the “majority” of schools now offered S4 (14 and 15-year-old) pupils just six subjects, which meant “severely limited” options for those wanting to study sciences and languages.

“It is the poorest parts of Scotland that suffer the most,” Ms Davidson said.

READ MORE: Majority of Scots concerned how Brexit will impact on them

“If you go to a school in one of the wealthiest parts of Scotland, you have got a 70 per cent chance of being able to choose between 12 or more Advanced Highers.”

Ms Davidson then asked Nicola Sturgeon how many schools in the poorest areas offered 12 or more Advanced Highers.

After Ms Sturgeon failed to come up with the answer, Ms Davidson said the figure was two.

READ MORE: Final approval given for homes on edge of Culloden Battlefield

“There are just two schools in the poorest parts of Scotland where you can choose between 12 or more Advanced Highers and in the rest you get nowhere near that. That’s the reality in SNP Scotland,” Ms Davidson said.

The Tory leader quoted Professor Scott saying the academic had concluded that the S1 to S3 curriculum was in “serious disarray”.

“Pupils are then crashing down suddenly to as few as six subjects in S4, meaning they are effectively picking their Highers at the age of 14 and it is pupils in the poorest areas that are being hit hardest. There is a scandal going on in secondary schools right now and this government is curtailing the choice of our young people to pursue that same broad based education that the First Minister enjoyed, that I enjoyed, that generations of Scots have benefited from. It can’t continue. We support a parliamentary inquiry into this issue. Will the First Minister back it?”

Ms Sturgeon replied that there had been a scandal in Scottish politics this week and it had involved the resignation of one of Ms Davidson’s front-benchers. She was referring to Peter Chapman, the Tory who quit the front bench after a lobbying row.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I cannot believe that Ruth Davidson doesn’t think that’s what’s important is the Highers and other qualifications that our young people are leaving with.

“There are more young people, including in our most deprived communities, now leaving school with qualifications including Highers. There are more young people with Advanced Highers, a 40 per cent increase in our most deprived communities in the young people coming out of our schools with more Advanced Highers. More young people with more qualifications. That’s a sign of success of our education system, which is why the Tories don’t want to recognise it.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4720829.1526571168!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4720829.1526571168!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4720829.1526571168!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5746108438001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/train-driver-hailed-as-a-hero-after-saving-dog-stranded-on-forth-bridge-1-4739055","id":"1.4739055","articleHeadline": "Train driver hailed as a hero after saving dog stranded on Forth Bridge","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526288770000 ,"articleLead": "

It WAS a narrow escape for a petrified pooch who spent hours dodging trains on the tracks of the Forth Bridge before being rescued.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4739054.1526288768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Train driver Ross Scott shared this post on Facebook after resucing Echo"} ,"articleBody": "

Runaway dog Echo, was stranded on the stretch between North Queensferry and Dalmeny for about two hours at peak time on Friday night.

The British Tranport Police and Scot Rail staff co-ordinated a mission to save the Romanian rescue dog and bring it back to safety.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing the terrified pet running back and forth, avoiding countless trains.

Train driver Ross Scott from South Queensferry was working the late shift and swooped in to save the dog from the busy line. Driving the 1912 service from Edinburgh Waverley to Kirkcaldy, he had been warned of the furry fugitive.

He explained: “I was working back shift on Friday and was notified about a disruption on the Forth Rail Bridge and had been told that for the past hour there had been a dog on the bridge.

“As I approached Dalmeny station the police had told me that the dog is still on the bridge. I proceeded with caution and saw Echo curled up in a ball by the track south of the first portal. I contacted the signaller who gave me permission to attempt to retrieve the dog. I jumped down and managed to get a hold of him and carried him back to the train.”

A southbound train with the dog’s owner aboard then stopped next to Ross’ train.

He added: “Someone shouted down that the owner was on board their train so my Network Rail colleague carried Echo over to the other train and reunited him with his owner.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4739054.1526288768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4739054.1526288768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Train driver Ross Scott shared this post on Facebook after resucing Echo","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Train driver Ross Scott shared this post on Facebook after resucing Echo","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4739054.1526288768!/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/plea-for-more-specialist-beds-for-disabled-children-1-4738731","id":"1.4738731","articleHeadline": "Plea for more specialist beds for disabled children","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526144538000 ,"articleLead": "

A leading charity is calling on the Scottish Government to do more to provide specialist beds for disabled children in their homes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4738729.1526144534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Francesca Vernel and son Daniel at their home in Lenzie."} ,"articleBody": "

Newlife, which helps disabled and terminally ill children, and has spent more than £350,000 on providing specialist beds in Scotland, says there are 36 children who are going without this piece of vital equipment.

The charity says a specialist bed which it can loan to parents while they await local council funding can cost anywhere between £1,500 right up to £10,000. The more expensive beds come with a high to low function that goes down to the floor to allow a child in a wheelchair to transfer on to it and the bed can be raised, which is essential to stop children who are pump-fed from choking.

Newlife also claims the true number of recognised disabled children in Scotland has been underestimated according to statistics from the Family Resource Survey which show a rise of 10,364 on the previous year 2016 bringing the total to 82,541.

The charity has spent a total of £1.2 million across Scotland to provide specialist equipment to help 712 children which it says illustrates a shortfall in provision.

A spokesperson for Newlife said: “Our experience is that health and social care bosses in Scotland often treat disabled children as ‘mini adults’ and try to provide adult-sized hospital beds with low bar sides or suggest children should sleep on mattresses on the floor.

“These policies totally fail to understand the very distinct needs of kids who often lack understanding around danger and safety. It should never be acceptable for a disabled child to have to sleep on the floor, or for a parent to go to bed at night terrified that when they wake up, their child might have died.

“Newlife believes that all children in the UK, regardless of their disability, should be able to sleep comfortably and safely.”

The Scottish Government is about to open a consultation on the proposed National Framework for Families with Disabled Children and Young People. This was floated in 2016 but has been delayed.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The provision of equipment for children and young people is an essential part of the therapeutic management of their disabilities and is effective both in terms of improving quality of life and potentially reducing the need for more intensive intervention and care. All health boards and local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide equipment that meets the needs of disabled children and young people in the community and to work in partnership with relevant bodies to ensure the best possible care for those with complex needs.

“We are currently reviewing our guidance on the provision of children’s equipment with a view to issuing an update later this year.”

CASE STUDY

Francesca Vernel, a primary teacher from Lenzie, near Glasgow, told Scotland on Sunday how she had been pushed from “pillar to post” in her quest to obtain a specialist bed for her severely disabled son.

Daniel, aged five, suffers from grade 5 quadriplegic cerebral palsy – the most severe type – and has to be fed through a tube.

Vernel said she thought Daniel had suffocated in January while sleeping in his old standard baby cot after he slipped off the reflux wedges that kept him propped up at an angle to ensure that he didn’t aspirate on his own vomit.

She said: “He’s essentially almost like a newborn baby in a two-year-old’s body so he’s relying on adults for everything.

“He suffers a lot from chest infections because he’s got severe reflux as part of the condition and he vomits quite regularly. So the minute he gets a cough he’s sick, he aspirates on vomit, so it goes into his lungs so he ends up with chest infections and in hospital.

“One morning I went to get Daniel up – he was still in a bog-standard baby cot and in the cot I had him on two reflux wedges, so he can lie at an angle because if he lies flat he’ll be sick.

“I saw that he had slipped down the cot and had one leg stuck over the end of it and his other leg was stuck through the bars and his face was stuck right in against the side. Because he can’t move, he’d got himself stuck and couldn’t get out of that position.

“I thought he’d suffocated because his face was against the side. Now he’s got heavier he slips down the cot, he can wriggle about but he can’t do purposeful movement.”

Vernel described days spent to-ing and fro-ing between Daniel’s physiothereapist and the local NHS board and council. She eventually contacted Newlife after failing to get anyone to take ownership of the problem and provide her son with a specialist bed, and now has one on loan until July while she sorts things out with the local authorities.

Vernel added: “I contacted Newlife to ask how I would go about applying for funds and to get a bed. On the Theraposture site it said that Newlife could help with funding for the bed which is £5,500. He’s got an emergency one from Newlife just now and they told me they wouldn’t be able to provide any funding until I’d exhausted the possibility of getting funding from the NHS or the council.

“I learnt from the charity that East Dunbartonshire social work should be providing a bed for him but nobody was willing to say yes and when I phoned the council no-one knew what I was talking about.

“Eventually they put me through to social services who said they only dealt with beds for adults – so from their point of view they said there was absolutely nothing the council could do to help. ”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KEVAN CHRISTIE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4738729.1526144534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4738729.1526144534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Francesca Vernel and son Daniel at their home in Lenzie.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Francesca Vernel and son Daniel at their home in Lenzie.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4738729.1526144534!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4738730.1526144535!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4738730.1526144535!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Daniel Vernel, five, in his specialist bed.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Daniel Vernel, five, in his specialist bed.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4738730.1526144535!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/free-music-lessons-face-death-by-1-000-cuts-1-4738728","id":"1.4738728","articleHeadline": "Free music lessons face ‘death by 1,000 cuts’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1526165168000 ,"articleLead": "

A Holyrood move to change the law and ensure all pupils in Scottish state schools have the right to free music tuition has been launched.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4738727.1527865415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Music tuition fees have been rising as councils face hundreds of millions of pounds being axed from their budgets. PICTURE: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

MSPs have been told there is a “groundswell” of support among parents and communities for instrument lessons, amid concerns over soaring fees and cuts to music teacher numbers.

Music tuition in schools is facing “death by a thousand cuts”, a Holyrood petition warns, with the most recent reductions having left its future at a “tipping point”.

Paolo Nutini, Nicola Benedetti and Dame Evelyn Glennie are among the Scottish musicians who have voiced concerns.

Mike Riddiough, from Ayr, who plays in a brass band, has been campaigning against charging in South Ayrshire and now wants free music tuition protected in statute across Scotland.

He has lodged the petition calling on the Scottish Government to change the law to ensure instrument lessons are available “as of right”.

“Private musical instrument lessons, that are so beneficial, are generally out of reach. Music education in state schools should be free,” he states.

“It is right that the best educational opportunities should be available to all children in Scotland, with no barriers such as fees create. A change in the law is overdue.”

More than two-thirds of Scotland’s 32 councils charge for music tuition and fees have been rising in recent years as town halls seek to cope with hundreds of millions of pounds being axed from their budgets.

Clackmannanshire recently voted to double the cost of music tuition. With some exceptions, parents will now pay £524 a year. Riddiough has been campaigning in South Ayrshire against plans to start charging £200 a year for music tuition.

The EIS teaching union has also expressed concern about a dramatic fall in the number of music teachers – from 1,100 to 640 over the past decade.

Councils are not obliged to provide musical tuition, though all youngsters are currently guaranteed specialist music tuition by primary five through the Youth Music Initiative funded to the tune of £109 million over the past decade by Scottish ministers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4738727.1527865415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4738727.1527865415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Music tuition fees have been rising as councils face hundreds of millions of pounds being axed from their budgets. PICTURE: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Music tuition fees have been rising as councils face hundreds of millions of pounds being axed from their budgets. PICTURE: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4738727.1527865415!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}