{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scotland","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/expert-seeks-strategy-of-total-war-on-endemic-obesity-1-4691059","id":"1.4691059","articleHeadline": "Expert seeks strategy of total war on endemic obesity","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518911337000 ,"articleLead": "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dr David Blane says the overweight should be given the same priority as smokers and alcoholics with emphasis on psychological and cultural pressures involved. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dr David Blane says the overweight should be given the same priority as smokers and alcoholics with emphasis on psychological and cultural pressures involved. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691033.1518893992!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-hats-in-the-ring-spoil-sturgeon-high-wire-act-1-4691031","id":"1.4691031","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Hats in the ring spoil Sturgeon high wire act","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518910461000 ,"articleLead": "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/world/15-000-price-tag-for-washed-up-st-kilda-letter-1-4690988","id":"1.4690988","articleHeadline": "£15,000 price tag for washed up St Kilda letter","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518908942000 ,"articleLead": "

A rare surviving letter sent out to sea in the floating post box known as the “St Kilda mail boat” and found washed up on a beach in Norway has been put up for sale for £15,000.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4690986.1518891099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Letters from St Kilda were launched in a waterproof box."} ,"articleBody": "

The missive, written in 1899 by the visiting niece of the owner of St Kilda to her cousin in London, was sent in the mail boat – a wooden box or other waterproof receptacle attached to a homemade buoy – inside of which letters would be placed with a note attached saying “St Kilda mail”.

The letter, which was found in Haugesund, Norway and sent to London by staff at the British Consulate in the country, tells how the writer, Evelyn Heathcote, hopes it will enjoy a “better fate” than one she had sent a year earlier, which presumably did not reach its destination.

Before the evacuation of the islands in 1930, when all 36 inhabitants moved to the mainland, the St Kilda mail boat was the islanders’ main method of communication with the outside world.

The concept, which relied on hope that someone on the mainland would find the letters and put them into the postal system, was created in 1890 by a journalist who found himself stranded on the island and unable to communicate with the outside world.

In her letter of 28 June 1899, Heathcote, who visited the island twice with her brother, Norman – the author of a book about the history of the island – wrote: “I have just asked to have a St Kilda mail boat made, to be ready for the first NW wind, so I am getting some letters ready to go by it. I wonder if it will have a better fate than my last year’s venture. I hope so!”

According to postmarks on the envelope, it was eventually delivered to London four months later on 13 October, when the recipient had to pay five old pence in postage due.

Robert Hepworth, owner of Scotia Philately, who bought the letter from a collector, said: “This is a very rare item and probably one of the most important items to emanate from St Kilda. The St Kilda mail boat has a very romantic history. The inhabitants could hardly get mail to and from the islands in the winter months, so they created this carved out cylinder and used a sheep’s bladder as a float.”

He added: “It wasn’t exactly email and it wasn’t reliable. There are very few letters that actually are survivors because most of them sank without trace. I believe there are a few St Kilda letters in museums, but as far as I know, there are no others in private collections.”

A second St Kilda envelope in the same collection, sent by the island’s last postmaster, Neil Ferguson, in 1931, is also up for sale for £975. The envelope, which bears the message “Finder Please Post”, was discovered by a lobster fisherman at Rona Island by Lochmaddy and posted on to Edinburgh 19 days later.

After the evacuation of the last islanders, Ferguson returned during the summer, employed as a guardian of St Kilda by the owner, Sir Reginald MacLeod of MacLeod. MacLeod sold it to Lord Dumfries, who later became the 5th Marquess of Bute and it later fell into the hands of the National Trust of Scotland, which still manages it today.

By the early 1900s, the population of St Kilda had plummeted since its peak of 180 in the early 1800s, as islanders began to seek modern alternatives to the hard way of life they had been used to.

It has been reported that by the time of the evacuation there were only five surnames left in St Kilda, while two- thirds of the population were called Gillies or MacKinnon.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “This is an interesting piece of postal history and highlights the lengths people and Royal Mail went to in days gone by to deliver the post.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JANE BRADLEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4690986.1518891099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4690986.1518891099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Letters from St Kilda were launched in a waterproof box.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Letters from St Kilda were launched in a waterproof box.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4690986.1518891099!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4690987.1518891101!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4690987.1518891101!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "One of the St Kilda missives which is up for sale.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "One of the St Kilda missives which is up for sale.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4690987.1518891101!/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/culture/film/karen-gillan-film-starts-conversation-about-highland-suicides-1-4691007","id":"1.4691007","articleHeadline": "Karen Gillan film starts conversation about Highland suicides","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518904812000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish screen favourite Karen Gillan has revealed how the high suicide rate among young men in the Highlands inspired her to make her first feature film.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691006.1518904808!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Karen Gillan in a scene from the The Party's Just Beginning, which she wrote and directed"} ,"articleBody": "

The Inverness-born actress wanted to return from New York, where she was based, to her home city to bring her own script to the big screen.

The Doctor Who star also took on the main role – of a young woman struggling with the aftermath of her best friend taking his own life.

Now the 30-year-old actress is hoping that the film’s forthcoming world premiere in Scotland will open up discussion about why the suicide rate in the Highlands is way above the UK average.

For young men it is also around two and half times that for young women.

The Party’s Just Beginning, which will get its premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival this week, sees Gillan’s character Lucy living an erratic lifestyle after the loss of her soulmate.

Flashbacks show the close bond Lucy developed with her friend, but also how she has become haunted by loss, guilt and grief in the aftermath of his death during a bleak Highland winter.

Recalling the origins of the film, Gillan said: “I decided a few years ago that I wanted to write a script. I remembered this statistic I had read that the suicide rate among young men was higher in the Highlands than the rest of Scotland. I was so shocked.

“It struck me as a strange contradiction about the Highlands. I grew up in Inverness and it is always being voted one of the best places in the UK to live. I remember mulling over it for a couple of years when I was doing Doctor Who [playing the character Amy Pond]. I felt it was something really interesting to explore.

“I wanted to look into a lot of the motivations for suicide before I starting writing the script. The research was mainly psychological.

“One of the things I talked about with the team I made the film with was the postcard version of Inverness that everyone is familiar with and my character’s version of it and her experiences.

“In any touristy place there is the version tourists get and the one you get when you are growing up there. They’re not the same. I wanted to show Inverness in a more realistic light and what it is like growing up in a place kind of in the middle of nowhere.

Gillan added: “I hope the film affects people emotionally enough that it starts a conversation about the suicide rates among young people in all areas, not just the Highlands.”

The film, which Gillan will launch on Saturday, depicts Inverness in a dark new light – and it is likely to shock fans of her previous film work, including the Guardians Of The Galaxy blockbusters.

“I knew I wanted to tackle this tricky subject matter and knew where I wanted it to be set,” said Gillan. “I always knew I needed to tell the story from my perspective, with a character the age I was when I wrote it. Lucy has recently suffered the suicide of her best friend, who is probably the only person she has felt able to connect with. She feels a lot of guilt over the whole thing, she is quite self-loathing and self-destructive, and goes to some quite intense emotional places.

“I felt I could sympathise with why she is so hardened towards people. I don’t necessarily want people to like her, but I would like it if they could maybe understand her. She is completely different from my other roles, but I wanted to tell a story and I needed to do whatever would serve the story right and not think about how it would come across.”

Gillan added that she was struck by how male-dominated the film-making world is, which had probably deterred her from directing until now.

“When I was growing up in Inverness my parents gave me a video camera, which was my favourite thing in the world. I made a lot of horror films in the house I think subconsciously I’ve always wanted to be a director.

“I didn’t really see it as a possibility before this film. I think it was to do with the fact there aren’t that many female directors.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691006.1518904808!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691006.1518904808!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Karen Gillan in a scene from the The Party's Just Beginning, which she wrote and directed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Karen Gillan in a scene from the The Party's Just Beginning, which she wrote and directed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691006.1518904808!/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/john-swinney-urged-to-spent-extra-70-million-on-asn-pupils-1-4686755","id":"1.4686755","articleHeadline": "John Swinney urged to spent extra £70 million on ASN pupils","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518447973000 ,"articleLead": "

John Swinney has been told that at least £70.2 million extra needs to be spent on educating youngsters with additional support needs (ASN) this year to support them properly at school.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4627667.1518447966!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney"} ,"articleBody": "

Children’s campaigners claim the extra funding is urgently required as they highlighted major concerns over the way ASN youngsters are being educated against a background of public sector cuts.

The concerns have been outlined in a document produced by the Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), an alliance of independent and third sector children’s service providers.

The document has been produced for a Scottish Government consultation on guidance recommending that all children should be educated in mainstream schools, except in exceptional circumstances.

The document contrasts the dramatic rise in numbers of ASN pupils in Scotland at a time when spending by local authorities on additional support for learning has decreased.

Teachers have complained that the lack of cash and staff devoted to helping ASN children leads to disruption in the classroom, which leads to rising stress levels and has a detrimental effect on the education of youngsters across the board.

The SCSC document said that since 2012 the number of pupils in mainstream primary and secondary schools with ASN has risen by 47.3 per cent, from 111,058 to 163,594 (24.1 per cent of pupils).

At the same time, the number of ASN auxiliaries and behaviour support staff, has dropped by three per cent over the same period, from 16,377 to 15,880.

 Moreover, average per-pupil spending by local authorities on additional support for learning (local authority primary, secondary and special education), has fallen from £4,276 in 2012/13 to £3,817 in 2015/16, amounting to £459 per pupil and representing an 11 per cent cut.

Yesterday the SCSC calculated that Scottish Government cash of at least £70.2 million is needed this to bring the amount invested back up to 2012 levels of support.

The requirement to provide education in a mainstream setting for children and young people with ASN, including physical disabilities, learning difficulties and social, emotional or behavioural problems, has been in legislation since 2002.

 The coalition said it supported mainstreaming as a central pillar of inclusive education. But it emphasisedd that a severe lack of resources was preventing mainstream schools being able to fully support pupils with ASN. The coalition also highlighted that local authorities must be assisted to increase the number of special school/unit places available, reflecting the rising numbers of children and young people with complex or specific needs.

 Kenny Graham, Head of Education at Falkland House School and coalition member, said: “Many families face an uphill struggle when trying to get additional support for their child in a mainstream environment. We have seen increasing numbers of those being identified with additional support needs, set against the background of reduced numbers of specialist teachers and support staff. 

“A presumption of mainstreaming is also challenging in that, especially for children with ADHD, autism, and Tourette’s, many teachers lack the proper training in how to identify these conditions and in how best to support the child.

 “Mainstreaming should not simply mean entering the gates of a local school. It should mean inclusion in the aspiration of a mainstream curriculum with all the positive experiences and outcomes that should entail, regardless of where that school is. It should mean inclusion in a school community that supports real development and growth, not education in a segregated class with alternate break times. It should mean good mental and emotional well-being.

 Mr Graham added: “If we are to deliver genuine inclusion then that means providing the necessary resourcing to ensure the needs of all children, whether they have ASN or not, are met in the classroom.”

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: “As the SCSC recognise, education authorities have a duty to ensure that children and young people who have additional support needs get the support they need to achieve their full potential. Now that 95% of children with additional support needs are educated in mainstream schools, with all teachers providing support, it is inaccurate to only single out ‘support for learning’ teachers.

“We will carefully consider all the responses to our consultation along with research into the experiences of pupils, their families and those who provide support in schools which will conclude later this year and will inform the final guidance.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4627667.1518447966!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4627667.1518447966!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Education Secretary John Swinney","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4627667.1518447966!/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/travel/edinburgh-landmarks-to-be-lit-up-red-to-attract-chinese-tourists-1-4687096","id":"1.4687096","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh landmarks to be lit up red to attract Chinese tourists","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518371676000 ,"articleLead": "

A string of Edinburgh’s most prominent buildings and landmarks will be lit up red this week as part of the biggest ever drive to attract more Chinese visitors to the city – now that they are on the verge of outnumbering American tourists in the capital.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687095.1518333446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh castle bathed in red light. Picture: Jon Savage"} ,"articleBody": "

Visitor attractions, retailers and tourism businesses across the city are being urged to embrace the Chinese New Year festivities – which traditionally run for at least two weeks – as part of a bid for Edinburgh to become the UK’s most China-friendly destination.

As part of this China Ready strategy led by Edinburgh Tourism Action Group, it is hoped Edinburgh Castle, Jenners, the Balmoral Hotel, the Camera Obscura, the Scotch Whisky Experience and St Andrew Square will be illuminated to coincide with the start of the Year of the Dog on Friday.

According to new industry research, the Chinese market is now in the top 10 for Scottish inbound international travellers.

In Edinburgh, tourism industry leaders want to see growth of up to 15 per cent in the Chinese market by 2020 and a direct air link in place. A partnership agreement struck between bosses at Edinburgh Airport and their counterparts in Beijing last month could pave the way for the long-awaited link.

A surge in Chinese visitors to the city is thought to have played a major role in Edinburgh Castle recording more than two million visitors in a calendar year for the first time.

Other ideas being circulated in the tourism industry include encouraging businesses to host their own Chinese New Year celebrations, hanging up red decorations, encouraging staff to wear red, learning how to greet visitors in Chinese and even leaving red-coloured gifts for them.

Multrees Walk, the upmarket thoroughfare off St Andrew Square which is home to many of the world’s leading luxury brands, will be decorated with lanterns and running special promotions for Chinese New Year.

A gala concert is being staged at the Usher Hall, while the city council has revealed that some schools will be staging their own celebrations – including opera performances, panda conservation workshops, Chinese food and a dragon parade – due to the growing number of Chinese pupils being taught in the capital.

Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross, has also recorded a special video message which is being distributed to Chinese media outlets and via dedicated Edinburgh-run accounts on Chinese social media channels, which have attracted more than 60,000 followers in the space of 12 months.

The Chinese New Year campaign is being rolled out just over two years since an industry-wide initiative began to try to tap into a boom in Chinese travellers to the UK, which has seen the number of visitors soar from just over 100,000 in 2006 to 260,432 in 2016.

The project instigated by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group targets the city’s so-called “off season” between January and March, as well as the annual Golden Week holiday in China in October.

A key aim is to capture a slice of the market which sees around 6.15 million Chinese people holiday abroad for the festivities – often to visit friends and relatives.

Edinburgh is believed to be home to a record number of students of Chinese origin – more than half of whom are expected to play host to their own visitors to the city at least once a year.

Government agency Historic Environment Scotland has revealed that Chinese visitors now represent nine per cent of visitors to Edinburgh Castle, with more than 177,000 of them flocking over its drawbridge during 2017, just 10,000 behind the number of US visitors.

Nick Finnigan, executive manager at the castle, said: “None of us could have guessed 10 or 15 years ago that we would have as many people coming to the castle of Chinese origin as from the United States. It shows you the kind of reach we are having as a city and country.”

Rob Lang, chair of ETAG’s China Ready initiative said: “We are the home of Hogmanay, and with the city’s largest ever programme of celebrations and events to mark Chinese New Year we hope our Chinese guests will feel equally at home enjoying their own new year in Edinburgh in 2018.”

Organisers of the China Ready project, said that some “China-focused businesses” in the city centre had seen growth of up to 40 per cent in the Chinese market last year.

A spokesman said: “The latest research suggests that Chinese tourists spend on average four times as much as average tourists – with duty free tax refunds and currency exchange proving large incentives to spend whilst on holiday.”

John Donnelly, chief executive of Marketing Edinburgh, said: “The Chinese market is a massive opportunity for Edinburgh and Scotland, not just in terms of their numbers, but what they spend.

“It’s growing and evolving all the time. The real Holy Grail for the industry would be a direct air route. If and when that happens it would be a real game-changer.”

Roddy Smith, chief executive of city centre business group Essential Edinburgh, said: “China is a fast growing and vital market for Edinburgh.

“Through the China Ready project and the individual efforts of the city centre hotels, retailers and restaurants we have made great progress in ensuring the city is ready to welcome the many Chinese visitors to our city.

“Chinese New year is a key component to this and we are delighted that many partners are running specific events to celebrate this hugely significant time of the year and to welcome in the Year of the Dog.”

The Chinese New Year guide produced by ETAG states: “Just like you would on January 1st, make Chinese guests feel welcome by wishing them a Happy New Year. Bite the bullet and try a bit of Chinese.

“Red decorations, red merchandise displays, staff uniforms featuring red, red paper for your welcome letters, red gifts, red carrier or tote bags – however you choose to, using, giving or wearing red (often embossed with gold) will create a Chinese New Year atmosphere and feeling for your guests, bringing them joy, happiness and good luck.

“The only thing you mustn’t use is red ink which, confusingly, is deemed taboo and symbolic of severing ties. As well as red and gold decorations, items or displays with the coming year’s zodiac animal are similarly auspicious.”

EDINBURGH’S CHINESE NEW YEAR MESSAGE

In his Chinese New Year Message, Lord Provost Frank Ross will say: “As we enter the Year of the Dog, I would like to wish everyone in the Chinese community a very happy new year.

“All over the world, colourful celebrations featuring lanterns and fireworks will mark the coming of the Spring Festival on 16 February.

“I’m delighted that here in Edinburgh, we too will be marking the occasion with a special concert at our Usher Hall following an extraordinary three-month display of giant Chinese lanterns in the grounds of our Zoo.

“Edinburgh Zoo is, of course, home to the UK’s only giant pandas – a wonderful gift from the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association to the people of Edinburgh.

“In recent years, our Scottish celebrations for Chinese New Year have grown – providing us with an opportunity to enhance Scottish people’s understanding of Chinese culture.

“Because at Chinese New Year and all year round, the City of Edinburgh is very proud of its connections with China and South-East Asia.

“In education and academia, Edinburgh’s classrooms promote the learning of Mandarin in our schools, while we welcome a staggering 3,500 students to attend our universities every year in partnership with institutions in China.

“As a city, I certainly hope we will be able to welcome even more visitors from Chinese shores in the year ahead, and we look forward to welcoming you to experience all that Edinburgh has to offer if you are yet to visit.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4687095.1518333446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687095.1518333446!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Edinburgh castle bathed in red light. Picture: Jon Savage","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Edinburgh castle bathed in red light. Picture: Jon Savage","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4687095.1518333446!/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/david-coyne-why-we-should-welcome-the-rise-of-the-robots-1-4687128","id":"1.4687128","articleHeadline": "David Coyne: Why we should welcome the rise of the robots","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518334396000 ,"articleLead": "

Neo-luddite inspired panic would have us believe an impending “Rise of the Robots” could decimate jobs as smarter, faster machines render humans redundant in the workplace.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687127.1518334391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Self-service supermarket tills are replacing checkout staff. Photo by Jeff Blackler/Rex/Shutterstock"} ,"articleBody": "

Automation is not a new phenomenon, nor is leaping to conclusions without full consideration of the facts. What is new, however, is the pace of change that has already heralded the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution, and that will utterly change the face of work.

It’s an often quoted soundbite that two out of three children starting primary school will have jobs that don’t exist today. The recent Cities Outlook report stated 230,000 jobs could be put at risk by 2030 from automation, and Scottish cities would face greater challenges than those in the south-east of the UK in the future. However, it also said much more than that. It pointed out that automation creates huge opportunities for positive change in our economy. It highlighted the example of the workforce of 1911, and used census data to show the number of people employed in laundries, and in domestic service, two areas virtually eliminated by the development of machines. It went on to say: “Generally, those jobs that are made up of routine tasks are at a greater risk of decline, whereas those occupations requiring interpersonal and cognitive skills are well placed to grow”.

So, is the rise of the robots a disaster in the making? It need not be if we understand the processes which are driving the continuing evolution of our economy.

The first thing to say is that the types of jobs likely to be displaced – sales assistants, retail cashiers, admin assistants and the others – are known to be the kind of jobs of which we have too many today. They pay low wages and offer little opportunity for those who work in them. It makes no more sense to bemoan the loss of retail jobs now than it would to have mourned the loss of domestic servants in 1911.

Concern that Scottish cities will face greater challenges than those in the South-East is hardly a new reason to press the panic button. Scotland’s devolved powers and responsibilities are still relatively new and need time to gain momentum.

In a world of technology and increased automation, we need to develop the three core qualities which make us uniquely human in order to thrive.

First collaboration; the mix of observation and questioning which allows us to compromise, problem solve and create solutions which are not necessarily logical, but which work in the context. Next, emotional intelligence; the ability to understand what is not being said, to read the face of a patient or customer and apply empathy to service delivery.

Finally, self-management; the ability for an individual to resiliently navigate the uncertainty of the future, and to make career and learning decisions frequently.

The good news is that the Curriculum for Excellence already recognises this, and develops the right habits of mind. But, it’s not enough. We still consign our young people to an exam factory from S3, with a focus on fact retention and repetition rather than fluid application.

Our learning system has to adapt so that people are introduced to the working world while they learn and develop job relevant skills. The rate of change in the world around us will become so rapid that a disconnection between education and skill development would be economic vandalism. We already have the most qualified generation in Scotland’s history and yet many struggle to find work.

The development of these three core skills is already happening in economies like Switzerland and Finland which have a completely different paradigm shaping the relationship between industry and education. Companies are not the dumb consumers of a labour product, they specify and get involved in the quality assurance in the curriculum, at both vocational and higher levels.

We need a partnership between industry and education, which takes as a role model those companies who have a deep corporate commitment to developing their workforce.

Seeing the future of work through a dystopian prism where robots cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, is counter-productive at exactly the moment the conversation between tech, education and business needs to be progressive.

David Coyne is Director of the Centre for Work-based Learning

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "David Coyne"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4687127.1518334391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687127.1518334391!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Self-service supermarket tills are replacing checkout staff. Photo by Jeff Blackler/Rex/Shutterstock","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Self-service supermarket tills are replacing checkout staff. Photo by Jeff Blackler/Rex/Shutterstock","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4687127.1518334391!/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/pete-wishart-in-veiled-attack-on-nicola-sturgeon-s-brexit-plan-1-4686565","id":"1.4686565","articleHeadline": "Pete Wishart in veiled attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit plan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518182573000 ,"articleLead": "

Pete Wishart has told the SNP there is no point in “chastising” Leave voters as he revealed he is considering entering the race for the depute leadership of the party.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686563.1518182760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pete Wishart, SNP MP and ex Runrig rock star in his local constituency of Perth.\\n Picture: Chris Austin"} ,"articleBody": "

Mr Wishart’s said the SNP had to win back Leave voters in a depute leadership pitch which was interpreted as an attack on Nicola Sturgeon’s Brexit strategy.

Writing in the National newspaper, Mr Wishart appeared to take a swipe at Ms Sturgeon’s pro-EU stance which has been criticised for alienating the one million Scots who voted Leave. Mr Wishart said the party had to “unite the Yes movement and span the differing views about the European Union”.

He said: “On the EU there is no point chastising Leave SNP voters by simply extolling the virtues of an EU they feel alienated from. We have to construct a way forward which they can feel comfortable with.

READ MORE: Holyrood gains new oil and gas powers in wake of referendum

“Unless something dramatically happens within the next few months Scotland will find itself out of the EU as part of the UK in a year’s time and we have to face up to that reality. I would suggest a graduated approach for an independent Scotland rejoining the European Union with a series of steps and breaks where we can properly consider our progress. These steps would be EEA [European Economic Area], then EFTA [European Free Trade Association] then full EU membership.”

He added: “The last and most important step of rejoining the EU should only be taken with, at the very least, the full consent of an independent Scottish Parliament with a majority of members elected on a platform of rejoining the European Union. This approach, I believe, would bring back many EU voters that we have lost over the past year.”

Last night Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson said: “Pete Wishart’s comments can only be read as a sharp criticism of Nicola Sturgeon’s poor leadership since the EU referendum. It’s Nicola Sturgeon who has led the way in chastising leave voters over the last 18 months.”

Mr Wishart, the Perth and North Perthshire MP, also believes the party has to consider how to overcome the challenges that lie in the way of securing a Yes vote in a second referendum. He said there should be an “honest assessment” of why the SNP lost 21 seats in last year’s general election.

A key part of his strategy will be taking a “graduated approach” for an independent Scotland rejoining the EU, via the EEA and EFTA.

READ MORE: Mike Russell backs plans for Scotland - Northern Ireland bridge

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4686563.1518182760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686563.1518182760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pete Wishart, SNP MP and ex Runrig rock star in his local constituency of Perth.\\n Picture: Chris Austin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pete Wishart, SNP MP and ex Runrig rock star in his local constituency of Perth.\\n Picture: Chris Austin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4686563.1518182760!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5670822690001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-open-to-police-watchdog-law-change-1-4686014","id":"1.4686014","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon `open’ to police watchdog law change","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518100795000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has left the door open to changing the law so that the head of the police watchdog is no longer appointed by the Justice Secretary.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon open to law change"} ,"articleBody": "

Ms Sturgeon accepted that the change should be considered when challenged over the resignation of chief constable Phil Gormley at First Minister’s Questions.

Mr Gormley’s departure dominated the weekly joust at Holyrood with Richard Leonard renewing Labour’s calls for Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to quit over his handling of the chief constable’s position.

Mr Matheson has faced accusations of political interference in policing after he met with the then chair of the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) Andrew Flanagan to discuss the watchdog’s decision to allow the then chief constable to return to work.

Following the conversation in November, the SPA reversed its decision and Mr Gormley remained on special leave until he resigned this week.

At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asked Ms Sturgeon if she thought Police Scotland was being well managed, given that there had been the resignations of two chief constables and a Justice Secretary “pulling the strings when it suits him”.

Ms Davidson went on to criticise the fact that the SPA chair is a ministerial appointee.

The Tory leader said: “The head of the Scottish Police Authority is supposed to be independent of government yet it is Justice Secretary that appoints them. And as this affair has shown us that same Justice Secretary can pull the head of the Scottish Police Authority into a room and make him change his mind. Does the First Minister think that sounds like true independence to her?”

Ms Sturgeon replied saying the Justice Secretary had acted “entirely appropriately” when he discussed Mr Gormley’s return to work with the then SPA.

She added that she was “open” to changing the way SPA chairs are appointed, but warned that it would require changing the law.

The First Minister said: “We are open to looking in the future at how further changes can be made. But we have to be frank in telling parliament that substantial changes to that appointment process would require primary legislation. But we are open to discussing that and I am sure these are debates that will be taken forward in the months ahead.”

Ms Davidson pointed out the Information Commissioner was selected by a cross party panel, approved by the parliament and was therefore independent of government.

“That is exactly what we need from a police authority chair as well,” Ms Davidson said. “The First Minister is correct to say that five months ago, every single party in this chamber, bar the SNP, signed up for parliament to be in charge of appointing the SPA chair – to take it out of the hands of ministers and like the appointment of the information commissioner to put it in the hands of this whole chamber.

“So the First Minister stands here again, five months after she stood here before and says she can’t go further because it requires changing the law. Guess what First Minister. This is a parliament and changing the law is what we do.”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Of course we can consider whether legislative change would be appropriate. Can I suggest that it is proper to consider that fully and robustly and why should we take time? Because we have a new chair of the Scottish Police Authority in place. She is at the start of her term of office. I think she is doing an excellent job and I think we should get behind her. Yes, I think we should consider in the fullness of time before we come to appoint a new chair whether change is necessary.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon open to law change","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon open to law change","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/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/holyrood-immigration-plans-would-stop-migrants-moving-to-england-1-4685211","id":"1.4685211","articleHeadline": "Holyrood immigration plans would stop migrants moving to England","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518017830000 ,"articleLead": "

Foreign workers who travel to Scotland would be prevented from moving to other parts of the UK under plans for a new post-Brexit immigration system.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4685322.1518017824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP said there is a need for Scotland to have its own migration policy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson"} ,"articleBody": "

Migrants would be told they must live and work solely in Scotland as a “condition of entry” to the UK, according to proposals published by the Scottish Government on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Chief Constable Phil Gormley resigns from Police Scotland

A discussion paper on the issue says it is imperative that immigration levels do not fall dramatically after Brexit, warning that this could do huge damage to the nation’s economy.

It predicts that if the UK Government successfully cuts net migration to the tens of thousands, the cost to Scotland’s finances could be as high as £10bn a year by 2040.

READ MORE: Labour MP Hugh Gaffney to attend ‘diversity training’ after Burns Night rant

The analysis also makes a number of suggestions about how a future Scottish immigration system might work, which would require the devolution of some new powers to Holyrood. Under the plans Scottish ministers would set the entry criteria for new migrants, which could include their salary level, education, skills, age or the ability to speak English.

Acknowledging that this could lead to fears in England that Scottish migrants could simply move south of the border after entering the UK, it proposes restrictions on residency.

Home Office control

“Whatever the nature of devolution or differentiation, a central feature of Scottish migration policy would be to restrict migrants to living in Scotland as a condition of entry for the duration of the time they are under immigration control,” the paper states.

“How a residence restriction is defined and enforced would need to be agreed with the UK Government, but there are existing frameworks…that could prove instructive and demonstrate the feasibility of such an approach.”

Under the proposals, the Home Office would retain overall control over the UK’s borders and immigration enforcement, with employers and public services responsible for checking Scottish migrants’ status and eligibility. Read more: Migration cuts would be ‘devastating’ for Scotland, says Nicola Sturgeon “Inward migration does not just bring economic benefits.

By welcoming people to live, work and study in Scotland we can strengthen our society and enrich our lives,” said Scotland’s External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop. “Migrants contribute to our economy by bringing new skills and fresh approaches. Without their contribution Scotland’s economic growth will suffer.

“There is now an overwhelmingly strong case for Scotland to have the power to tailor its own migration policy to reflect its own unique circumstances.”

Although there is general political agreement in Scotland that it is in the nation’s interests to retain existing immigration levels, opinion polls suggest that Scots are not in favour of having a separate system from the rest of the UK.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “After we leave the EU, we will put in place an immigration system which works in the best interests of the whole of the UK.

“Decisions about our future immigration system will be based on evidence, which is why we have asked the independent Migration Advisory Committee to assess the economic and social impact of EU citizens in all parts of the UK. “We are engaging with and considering the view of all stakeholders – including the Scottish Government and businesses in Scotland.”

This story first appeared on our sister site iNews.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4685322.1518017824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4685322.1518017824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP said there is a need for Scotland to have its own migration policy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop MSP said there is a need for Scotland to have its own migration policy. Picture: Lisa Ferguson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4685322.1518017824!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1508862309336"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/december-s-a-e-waiting-performance-worst-since-target-was-set-1-4683972","id":"1.4683972","articleHeadline": "December’s A&E waiting performance worst since target was set","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517921287000 ,"articleLead": "

Waiting times for Accident and Emergency treatment hit their worst levels on record in December, official NHS statistics have revealed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666704.1517921283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shona Robison, Health Secretary"} ,"articleBody": "

The most recent monthly statistics showed 85.1 per cent of the 141,988 patients attending A&E services were admitted, transferred or discharged within the Scottish Government’s four-hour target time. This was the lowest since the 95 per cent target was set in 2007.

A total of 3,301 (2.5 per cent) patients waited for more than eight hours while 817 (0.6 per cent) waited for more than 12 hours in December.

The figures saw the Scottish Conservatives claim that the Scottish Government was mismanaging the NHS and failing patients.

Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs said: “After 10 years in government the SNP’s management of the Scottish health service has led to the longest A&E waiting times for more than six years.

“Clearly this undermines any excuses about winter pressures.

“As a result of the SNP’s mismanagement thousands of patients are waiting, many in pain and discomfort, for more than four hours, while thousands are waiting more than eight hours.

“The SNP has repeatedly broken its own target and, by its own measure, is failing the NHS and failing patients.”

Since December the weekly A&E figures show an improvement in waiting-time.

For emergency departments for the week ending January 28, 89.7 per cent of patients were seen within the target time.

This is up for the third week running from a low of 77 per cent but down from 92.5 per cent in the same period last year.

Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “It is positive news that, for the third week in a row, A&E waiting-times are improving across Scotland and nine out of ten people were admitted, discharged or transferred within four hours.

“Flu-like illness has hit hospitals hard this winter and the flu rate is still four times higher than the same period last year.

“I’d urge anyone eligible for the free flu vaccine to take advantage as it’s quick, easy and the best protection against flu.

“Figures today also show that Scotland’s core A&E departments have outperformed the UK for nearly three years and I’d like to thank staff right across Scotland’s health and social care systems for their consistent hard work, all year round.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666704.1517921283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666704.1517921283!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shona Robison, Health Secretary","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shona Robison, Health Secretary","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666704.1517921283!/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-castle-visitor-numbers-threaten-to-overwhelm-site-1-4682106","id":"1.4682106","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh Castle visitor numbers threaten to overwhelm site","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517825399000 ,"articleLead": "

A series of new crowd control measures are to be introduced at Edinburgh Castle after its operators admitted it had become overwhelmed at peak periods.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4682105.1517732149!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tourists gather on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

Timed slots for visits will be introduced for the first time as part of a drive to curb congestion problems in and around the attraction.

The government agency responsible for the site will be urging all potential visitors to book in advance this summer, with admission prices hiked for “walk-up” tickets.

Around 18 extra members of staff will be hired to monitor the volume of visitors around the site, including at popular locations like the Crown Jewels exhibition.

Historic Environment Scotland will be warning for the first time that the only way to guarantee entry is to book in advance online.

A new esplanade manager and queuing system will be introduced to try to cut down on congestion around the drawbridge, the only entrance for visitors.

Travel trade operators and cruise liner companies whose guests normally flock to the attraction to start their day out in Edinburgh will instead be urged to overhaul their schedules to bring parties in the afternoons, which are said to be much quieter than the mornings.

The shake-up has been ordered after bosses admitted the visitor experience was “compromised” in the summer when the castle attracted record numbers of visitors. More than 10,000 were recorded on 20 separate occasions last August, helping it to attract nearly 1.8 million visitors for the year for the first time ever.

The castle’s measures have been revealed months after Edinburgh World Heritage warned the city was at risk of suffering the “same fate” as Venice and becoming a “hollow museum shell” due to attractions reaching near capacity and the number of tourists thronging the Old Town. Official reports published by the city council last month raised concerns that roads, pavements and transport networks are struggling to cope with the influx of tourists during peak periods.

Nick Finnigan, executive manager of Edinburgh Castle, said: “When we created the current ticket office inside the castle walls more than a decade ago we were getting something between 900,000 and a million visitors. All the signs are that we’re going to have to manage more than two million visitors in future.

“The castle is designed to keep people out. The fact there is a very narrow entrance as you come in presents massive challenges.

“We’re going to have four time-slots for advance booking and will plan the number of tickets we put online based on our other business with the travel trade.

“We want people to book online. They can still queue up to buy a ticket, but we would say that in the busier periods they may have a very long wait and it will be dearer, as the walk-up price will be going up from £17 to £18.50.

“We’ll be basically saying to people in our marketing campaigns and on social media: ‘If you book online you are guaranteed to get in.’ If we have sold our allocation of advance tickets we will be monitoring the numbers.

“I felt in July and August last year the numbers we had did compromise the visitor experience. We are not actively encouraging more visitors over that period. We want everybody coming to the castle to have a relaxed and enjoyable time.”

Nicholas Hotham, head of external relations at Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “While we welcome the measures being introduced at Edinburgh Castle, we also believe that other measures will need to be introduced to widen the visitor footprint, which is too focused on the area from the High Street to the castle.

“Edinburgh boasts one of the most extensive urban World Heritage Sites in Europe, and we actively urge visitors, and residents, to explore the wonders of Dean Village, Stockbridge, the New Town and Canongate, among other areas. This will result in a deeper appreciation of what is so special about the city and help alleviate problems of overcrowding.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, said: “Scotland’s reputation as a quality destination relies on continued investment and innovation to ensure that current provision meets future demand. It’s fantastic to hear that attractions like Edinburgh Castle are introducing creative new approaches to ensure that visitors continue to have the best experience possible during their time in Scotland’s capital.”

Donald Wilson, culture leader at the council, said: “Edinburgh Castle is the jewel in the capital’s crown and at the top of every visitor’s must-see list. It is critically important that those who plan to visit, can, and that they have a fantastic and memorable experience when they get there.

“Some parts are almost 900 years old and these changes look set to provide a positive visitor experience and help in the continued preservation of our beautiful historic castle.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Ferguson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4682105.1517732149!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4682105.1517732149!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tourists gather on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tourists gather on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4682105.1517732149!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5702964184001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-too-many-of-jock-tamson-s-bairns-are-racists-1-4682089","id":"1.4682089","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Too many of Jock Tamson’s bairns are racists","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517702156000 ,"articleLead": "

When I was a boy, we did our racism with a friendly smile. There were no spittle-flecked outbursts, no violent attacks, no campaigns to send anyone “back” but, during my lower middle-class suburban childhood, there was racial prejudice and plenty of it.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4682088.1517731069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anas Sarwar believes Islamophobia has become more insidious and institutionalised. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

We spoke of P***s and Ch***ies as if this was perfectly normal. Of course, it was not and, though I’d realised by my teens that this sort of thing was not on, it’s important to remember just how easily a child can by influenced by the hateful language he hears.

When the Labour MSP Anas Sarwar last week revealed that, during his recent unsuccessful campaign to become leader of his party, he had been told by a senior councillor that Scotland wasn’t ready for a “brown Muslim P***” as a political leader, colleagues and opponents alike were quick to offer solidarity. There was no place in Scotland, they said, for this prejudice.

And the sentiment was true. Sadly, however, this prejudice long ago found its place and it is proving more resistant to eviction than we might have hoped.

One of the comforting things we Scots tell ourselves about ourselves is that we are tolerant and open. We’re all Jock Tamson’s bairns, we say.

Yet Sarwar’s experience – and the experience of many more Scots of Asian descent – suggests white Scots have become somewhat complacent when it comes to the matter of racial equality.

In the aftermath of the interview in which he described his experiences, Sarwar said he had been “inundated with heartbreaking individual stories”.

He heard from a young woman whose hijab was ripped off her head at an underground station, from a child scared to go to school because classmates taunt him that he’s a terrorist, and from a hotel worker regularly abused but told by the boss that the “customer comes first”.

These, among countless other stories, should shatter the notion – if it still lingers – that Scotland is uniquely open-minded when it comes to issues of race. They should – in fact, they must – provoke us to do better.

Last week, Sarwar was among those launching at Holyrood the new Cross Party Group on Tackling Islamophobia. All parties in the Scottish Parliament and more than 50 organisations have committed their support. Some of the statistics provided by researchers working for the group show just how timely its formation is.

Police Scotland, for example, has the fourth highest number of recorded Islamophobic hate crimes of all the police authorities across the UK. And if that’s not enough to convince you that Scotland has an ongoing problem, how about the deeply troubling fact that almost half of Muslim children fear going to school on the day after a terrorist attack? Surely that devastating statistic tells us not only that the problem exists but that racist views are being blithely handed on to children.

During the 2016 EU referendum campaign, senior leave campaigners indulged in some appalling dog-whistle politics. The subtext of much of the “debate” about immigration was that until the UK left the European Union, we would be forced to continue to accept the wrong kind of incomers.

Perhaps you recall that awful “breaking point” poster in which an image of Syrian refugees – people fleeing for their lives – was used to suggest the UK was being deluged by freeloaders (and brown-faced ones, at that)?

The effectiveness of this sort of campaigning told us that the UK has not come as far as we might have thought. It told us that good old-fashioned racism was alive and well.

Writing in the New Statesman magazine last week, Sarwar stated that progress had been made. He recalled being assaulted in 1997 because of the colour of his skin and added: “I think we have moved on incredibly from that time”.

But the charge he then made – that everyday racism and Islamophobia has now become more insidious and institutionalised – has a bleak clang of truth.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon spoke in Holyrood on Thursday about Sarwar’s bravery in describing his experiences. Members of all parties applauded as she said Holyrood should be united in fighting racism.

But while this was a welcome demonstration of leadership, there’s still a lot to be done.

I began this column by remembering the casually racist language I heard so often during my childhood.

It did not, I hope, play much of a part in shaping the sort of adult I became, but I saw in others how the language they heard at home became the catalyst for more aggressive behaviour. I saw friends of Asian heritage abused and attacked and, though I found these incidents appalling, they were hardly surprising. If we raise children to think that others are profoundly different then of course many of them will take that to a dark conclusion.

If Sarwar is right (and I fear he is) and racism has become more invidious and institutionalised, then we need to see more done in Scotland’s schools to tackle prejudice.

I hope this is something the new Cross Party Group will look at. Yes, it’s great that political opponents and civic Scotland are coming together to try to make a difference, here, but statements of intent and warm words about inclusivity are not, in themselves, a solution.

My children go to a primary school with a most diverse group of kids. Their mates come from families with – among others – Indian, Mexican, Thai, and Pakistani heritage.

But, though this is undoubtedly a good thing, this diversity does not mean that the poison of racism doesn’t lap around.

My kids – your kids – are vulnerable to being influenced by the things they hear from others. Too often, I fear, what they hear are the sort of views I thought had been left in the past.

Anas Sarwar deserves our admiration for bravely speaking up on this issue. But his words will be far more effective if they’re accompanied by action from those politicians who have declared they stand with him.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4682088.1517731069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4682088.1517731069!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Anas Sarwar believes Islamophobia has become more insidious and institutionalised. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Anas Sarwar believes Islamophobia has become more insidious and institutionalised. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4682088.1517731069!/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/gross-racial-inequality-belies-scottish-myth-say-experts-1-4682102","id":"1.4682102","articleHeadline": "Gross racial inequality belies Scottish myth, say experts","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517700157000 ,"articleLead": "

Urgent action is needed to address the “gross racial inequalities” in Scotland, according to a major study condemning the lack of leadership when it comes to tackling discrimination.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4682101.1517730489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Govanhill in Glasgow. Theres an embarrassing lack of data on ethnicity and employment in the city. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Government, politicians and employers have been urged to tackle the country’s racism problem by the authors of a new book challenging the “myth” that Scotland is a more egalitarian country than others.

Compiled by academics and equality campaigners, the book, No Problem Here: Understanding Racism in Scotland, warns that the job situation for black and minority communities is “bleak” and “in some cases” is getting worse.

Edited by Neil Davidson, Minna Liinpaa, Maureen McBride and Satnam Virdee, all of Glasgow University, the book highlights discrimination in the workplace and the harassment suffered by the black and minority ethnic (BME) population.

The difficulties faced by the BME community when it comes to getting work in the public sector is examined in a chapter by Jatin Haria, Executive Director of the Coalition of Racial Equality and Rights.

“Urgent and major action is needed to address the gross racial inequalities in the Scottish labour market if Scotland is truly to become the equal, egalitarian nation it wants to become,” Haria writes in a chapter suggesting that quotas should be introduced to deliver fairness for all.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Haria said data revealed that after interviews for local authority jobs, white applicants are three times more likely to secure a position than non-white applicants.

He also quoted the latest official figures which showed that just 1.6 per cent of Scottish Government employees identify themselves as BME, a statistic that showed no improvement since 2014.

According to the latest census figures, the percentage of people from minority ethnic groups stands at four per cent of the population, but the BME population is rising steadily.

The Asian population is the largest minority ethnic group, representing three per cent of the population or 141,000 individuals. The BME population is proportionally larger in Scotland’s cities, accounting for 12 per cent in Glasgow and eight per cent in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

Haria said: “You have a BME population in Glasgow of over 12 per cent and that’s from the census, so it has probably increased since then. And you have a Glasgow City Council workforce of about two per cent from their own published figures.

“It just wouldn’t be acceptable south of the border. I would have thought there should be a greater outcry here. In Scotland it is allowed to go on and that’s what we are saying about a lack of leadership.

“The disparity in employment is so obvious, but there is so little action around it. Because employment is a long-term process, you won’t get promoted to headteacher for another 20 years or so – if we don’t do something about this now we are going to have a long-term problem.”

The book, published by Luath Press, has been released at a time when the Labour politician, Anas Sarwar, has brought the issue of racism to the fore.

Last week Sarwar claimed a Labour councillor had told him “Scotland wouldn’t vote for a brown Muslim P**i” when he was standing against Richard Leonard in the Scottish Labour leadership contest.

After Sarwar’s claims, Councillor Davie McLachlan, leader of the Labour group on South Lanarkshire Council, has been suspended by the party. McLachlan has said he was stunned by the allegation and denies the claims.

The book acknowledges that various anti-racism initiatives have been launched by the Scottish Government and others, but Haria argues that the approach is too “ad hoc” and there is not enough effort to collect BME employment data.

He writes: “The real need is to deal with institutional, structural and direct racism by organisations and individual employers… Quotas based on ethnicity are surely the best way to ensure equality of outcome, at least in the short term… There is not just a lack of recognition of the problem, there is a lack of any urgency to do anything about it and there is a lack of any leadership on this issue in Scotland.”

Elsewhere in the book, personal experiences of racial harassment are outlined, which the authors contrast with the inclusive image of Scotland promoted by politicians.

In one chapter, Davidson and Virdee accuse the SNP of creating a “dominant story”, through a more positive attitude towards immigration, that Scotland is more “egalitarian” than England. This, they argue, reinforces “the myth that Scotland does not have a serious racism problem”.

A Glasgow City Council spokesman said: “Achieving equality and diversity in our workforce is important. The more any organisation reflects the community it serves, the better it will be. Clearly, we all have to accept that there is some way to go. We also have to acknowledge, as employers and as a community, that the potentially varied and complex reasons minorities are under-represented at all levels in government and in the wider public sector have not yet been fully addressed.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “There is no place for racism in our vision for Scotland. Our Race Equality Action Plan: A Fairer Scotland For All was published in December and includes over 120 actions which we will take over the lifetime of this Parliament to improve the lives of minority ethnic communities in Scotland.

“We are determined to lead in advancing race equality and our plan sets out actions in many areas including employment, education and housing, to tackling race inequality and racism, to help break down the barriers that prevent people from minority ethnic communities from realising their full potential.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4682101.1517730489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4682101.1517730489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Govanhill in Glasgow. Theres an embarrassing lack of data on ethnicity and employment in the city. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Govanhill in Glasgow. Theres an embarrassing lack of data on ethnicity and employment in the city. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4682101.1517730489!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-pledges-to-tackle-knife-crime-in-wake-of-jp-campaign-1-4680235","id":"1.4680235","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon pledges to tackle knife crime in wake of JP campaign","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517500436000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to work with young people to tackle knife crime in schools when a Johnston Press campaign disclosing the scale of the problem was highlighted in the Scottish Parliament.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674876.1517500432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon"} ,"articleBody": "

At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon was challenged to reduce violence in schools by the Conservative MSP Michelle Ballantyne

Ms Ballantyne quoted figures for Scotland unearthed by the UK wide campaign and published earlier this week in the Scotsman.

The Conservative politician told the First Minister that between April and November 2017 80 school pupils were found with knives on school premises with a further 45 incidents of pupils being caught carrying an offensive weapon.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would always work with partners to drive down “such unacceptable behaviour”.

She added: “We are investing millions of pounds in violence reduction programmes for young people: the no knives, better lives youth engagement programme has received funding since 2009, and the mentors in violence prevention programme is about empowering young people themselves to challenge and speak out against violent and abusive behaviour. The police have an important role to play when crimes are committed and in prevention, but much of our focus should be on working with young people to prevent behaviour of this type.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4674876.1517500432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674876.1517500432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4674876.1517500432!/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-declines-to-rule-out-council-tax-hike-1-4680017","id":"1.4680017","articleHeadline": "FMQs: Nicola Sturgeon declines to rule out council tax hike","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517493105000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon refused to rule out council tax rises next year when challenged to do so at First Minister’s Questions.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4680099.1517930768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government must be able to influence the UK's Brexit objectives. Picture SWNS"} ,"articleBody": "

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson criticised the Scottish Government’s budget claiming it sent a high tax message that would harm business and deter investment in Scotland.

This week Finance Secretary Derek Mackay forged a budget deal with the Green Party that will result in middle earners paying more income tax.

The deal will see more Scots pushed into the “higher” 41p tax bracket to help fund an extra £159.5 million for local authorities.

READ MORE: Scottish Conservative support falls as SNP’s rises - poll

At First Minister’s Questions, Ms Davidson referred to a contribution made by Green co-convener Patrick Harvie in Wednesday’s stage one budget debate.

During the debate, Mr Harvie gave notice that his party would be unable to enter negotiations on next year’s budget “unless meaningful progress has been made on local tax reform”.

Ms Davidson said Mr Harvie was demanding council tax rises and challenged Ms Sturgeon to rule them out.

READ MORE: Doddie Weir slams NHS after being denied access to MND drug

The Tory leader said: “We already know that the SNP has put up taxes on buying a house. It has put up business taxes and now it is putting up tax on ordinary working people, breaking its own manifesto promise to do so. Instead of listening to Scotland’s business community, the only person Nicola Sturgeon listens to is Patrick Harvie.

“The Greens passed her budget last year, they are passing her budget this year and they are already told her which tax they want her to put up to pass her budget next year. Yesterday Patrick Harvie told the chamber he wanted meaningful progress on local tax reform and translated that means next year he is coming for your council tax.

“Surely even for the First Minister that would be a tax rise too far. Will she rule it out?”

The First Minister declined to answer the question directly. Ms Sturgeon said: “Of course we have got lower average council tax bills in Scotland than in other parts of the UK. Increases in Scotland are capped at three per cent which is much less than the potential increases in the rest of the UK. The difference here between Ruth Davidson and this government is quite simple. We are interested in protecting our public services we are interested in making sure we have the revenue to invest in world class infrastructure and business support. We want to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the impact of Ruth Davidson’s Tory cuts, particularly to welfare.

“All Ruth Davidson is interested in is tax cuts for the very richest in our society. That is the difference. I have to say to Ruth Davidson, she is on the wrong side of public opinion on this and perhaps that is why her party has hit the buffers.”

Earlier the Tory leader said there were two views of Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s budget. One was the Patrick Harvie view that it was “the best thing since sliced bread” and the Sir Tom Hunter view that it “sends a message that we are a high tax economy.”

“Who does the First Minister think Scotland should trust with their money – Harvie or Hunter?” asked Ms Davidson.

Ms Sturgeon replied that she thought the people of Scotland should trust Derek Mackay.

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4680099.1517930768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4680099.1517930768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government must be able to influence the UK's Brexit objectives. Picture SWNS","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minster Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government must be able to influence the UK's Brexit objectives. Picture SWNS","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4680099.1517930768!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5680204816001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/calls-for-michael-matheson-s-resignation-ramped-up-1-4677537","id":"1.4677537","articleHeadline": "Calls for Michael Matheson’s resignation ramped up","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517328479000 ,"articleLead": "

Pressure mounted on Justice Secretary Michael Matheson when Holyrood’s two main opposition parties demanded his resignation over claims of political interference in the policing system.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Justice Secretary Michael Matheson"} ,"articleBody": "

After Mr Matheson was forced to Holyrood to answer questions about recent controversies Labour issued a statement saying he should quit his Cabinet job.

Labour’s justice spokesman Daniel Johnson took the step after Mr Matheson faced repeated Conservative calls for his resignation in the Scottish Parliament.

Mr Matheson was hauled in front of parliament after it emerged that one of his most senior civil servants sought to delay the publication of a report into the Scottish Police Authority by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).
E-mails published at the weekend revealed that Scottish Government official Don McGillivray suggested that PIRC Kate Frame could hold back publication of the report into SPA complaints.

The suggestion was rejected by the Commissioner who stated: “My perception of your remarks is of governmental interference with my independence.”

The emails came to light after former SPA chair Andrew Flanagan told MSPs felt he had no choice but to block the planned return to work of sidelined Police Constable Phil Gormley after Mr Matheson intervened in the process.

Addressing MSPs, Mr Matheson said he had first heard of the emails on last Thursday on January 25th when he was advised that an article based on them was to be published in the press.

Mr Matheson claimed there had been “no instance” of governmental interference.

But he said: “What I do recognise is that aspects of the email from my official of the 30th November could be perceived as government interference with her independence.

“I also recognise there should be no room for ambiguity in communications. I fully support the independence of the Polices Investigations and Review Commissioner.

The aim of the email was to identify risks for the PIRC to consider. Officials were aware of a number of ongoing complaints against senior officers, but had no knowledge of the content of the Audit report when the email was sent on the 30th of November.

“PIRC, the member will recognise, has made clear there was no interference in the publication of the report. I’m clear the decisions of the timing of the report remained with the commissioner at all stages and it was for her whether the points raised were relevant or not.

“She decided it was appropriate to proceed as planned. I fully support her independent decision making in these matters.”

In Holyrood chamber Conservative Shadow Justice Secretary Liam Kerr repeated his party’s call for Mr Matheson to go.

Mr Kerr said: “Michael Matheson can stand there and say the report wasn’t delayed and there was no interference. But it is no defence to say the government tried to stop it and failed. An attempt at interference is still interference. We now know there is a deeply embedded culture of secrecy and central interference. That tone is set from the tone.”

Mr Kerr said the Justice Secretary had fallen short of the standards expected of high office adding he did not have the “moral credibility” to do his job.

He added: “When will he do the honourable thing and resign?”

Mr Matheson replied that he would continue to do “the honourable thing and that is to do my job properly”.

After Mr Matheson’s appearance in parliament, Mr Johnson issued a statement saying: “Last week, evidence from Andrew Flanagan contradicted Michael Matheson’s previous statement to Parliament and over the weekend it became clear that Mr Matheson’s department attempted to interfere in the publication of a PIRC report.
“The Justice Secretary and his department have now repeatedly shown a callous disregard for the independence of policing and external bodies.
“The Cabinet Secretary had to be dragged to Parliament to answer our questions and quite frankly, failed to provide any justification for his actions.
“It is clear that Michael Matheson has over-stepped his authority and is no longer fit to serve in the Scottish Government Cabinet as Justice Secretary. He must now do the right thing and stand down.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Justice Secretary Michael Matheson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Justice Secretary Michael Matheson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/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/insight-neglect-of-forces-veterans-continues-to-end-in-tragedy-1-4674769","id":"1.4674769","articleHeadline": "Insight: Neglect of Forces veterans continues to end in tragedy","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517125949000 ,"articleLead": "

Former Army sergeant Calum MacLeod was in an Irish American bar in Germany when he suffered the flashback that forced him to face up to his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). With hindsight, he accepts he had been struggling for a long time.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674768.1517125945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Veteran Steven Wyllie outside the Reid Mcewan activity centre. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Ever since he had been attacked while serving with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in Northern Ireland in 1992, he had suffered nightmares, which he countered with heavy drinking. Back then, a crowd of youths had cornered him in an alleyway, hit him over the head with a concrete slab and stolen his gun. When he regained consciousness in a hospital in Belfast, he was told one of the youths had pointed the weapon at his head and fired, but the mechanism had jammed, so he survived.

Hearing U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday on the jukebox in Heidelberg more than a decade later triggered a violent outburst. “One of the Yanks had put it on and I just lost it,” says MacLeod. “My best friend was with me. He said: ‘Your eyes just changed; you were hyper-aroused.’ He forced me into a taxi. I was lashing out, trying to escape. The song, the sounds, the crowd: I really thought I was back in the Province.”

MacLeod, from Hamilton, ended up in a psychiatric hospital where a colonel told him he was suffering from one of the worst cases of PTSD he had ever seen. Posted back to the UK and unable to cope with confined spaces, he pioneered a successful scheme to help would-be Army recruits reach the required level of fitness. But, in 2011, after 23 years of service, he decided it was finally time to call it a day.

Leaving the Forces is rarely an easy option; adjusting to the plodding pace of civilian life after years of living on your nerves can be a challenge. Jobs and housing are in short supply and the camaraderie has gone. It is not uncommon for relationships to break down or for veterans to find themselves homeless. MacLeod’s own marriage failed and he found employers unsympathetic to his condition. Eventually, he decided to focus on building up his business, Alpha Military Fitness, and on motorcycling, which staves off his dark thoughts.

“I think I am one of the lucky ones and that’s largely because my family got me through. Some of the veterans come out and there’s no-one there for them. In the last 18 months, I have been to seven funerals: all suicides,” he says.

There is more than one way to self-destruct, of course. Some people kill themselves in a single act, others in instalments. Their sense of purpose and self-worth evaporates; they stop caring whether they live or die until, eventually, they are beyond reach.

This appears to be what happened to Darren Greenfield, who had been sleeping rough when he died in an Edinburgh hospital just before Christmas. Greenfield, 47, was a familiar figure to rail commuters as he sat in his camouflage jacket begging outside Waverley Station. Friends say he served 12 years in the Army and drove armoured vehicles in Bosnia in the early 90s. After leaving in 1998, he disappeared from his siblings’ lives until one of his sisters, Asten Robertson, tracked him down. He moved to Edinburgh to be near her, but neither she nor the charities who work with rough sleepers could find a way to stabilise his life.

Though he secured a place at Whitefoord House, a hostel for homeless ex-servicemen, he found it “too regimented” and returned to the streets. After his death, a cardboard sign reading “gone to the angels” was put up at his pitch.

MacLeod, who had spoken to Greenfield on several occasions, said many former squaddies gave him money, but he was “beyond help”. He and Colin MacLachlan, an SAS veteran, have set up a charity, Who Dares Cares, in an attempt to reach out to ex-servicemen who might benefit from support. Among other things, they are developing a Facebook site and an app through which troubled veterans will be able to access volunteers with a military background at any time of the day or night. “We want to make sure there’s someone for them to talk to when the demons come out and the black holes open up,” MacLeod says.

There are an estimated 240,000 veterans in Scotland and most adapt fairly quickly to life on the outside. A significant minority, however, struggle to make the transition. Perhaps they joined the Army straight from school before they learned any life skills; perhaps they were fleeing a troubled home life and have no families to return to; perhaps they lived in married quarters, with lots of amenities and like-minded friends and now find themselves in a council scheme where they know no-one.

The Army teaches soldiers to be strong and self-reliant, but their lives are lived within clearly defined parameters. When they leave, they often feel disorientated; they may have no idea how to access housing, health services, benefits, and be too proud to seek help.

On either side of the Atlantic, there have been complaints that veterans are poorly recompensed for the sacrifices they have made. For a long time, the Armed Forces did very little to prepare its servicemen for civvy street. “When I left in 1993, it was just, ‘Thank you for your service and bye bye. Be out of your billet by 10am’,” says former Army chef Steven Wyllie.

With so many young men leaving after tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Armed Forces began to offer more support. Nowadays, they offer resettlement packages which include advice on social housing and access to training courses. In 2000, the Armed Forces Covenant – once a tacit recognition of the mutual obligation that exists between the State and its armed services – was put into writing, and in 2007 the Royal British Legion accused the then Labour government of breaking it.

As a result, the then health secretary, Alan Johnson, promised that veterans would get priority treatment on the National Health Service and those who had suffered injuries would be treated immediately in hospital rather than put on waiting lists. Councils were also to ensure veterans were not disadvantaged when it came to social housing. Most now waive the “local connection” criteria for ex-servicemen who may have lived abroad for many years (though, clearly, if there is no housing for locals, there is no housing for veterans either).

In 2015, £35m of fines paid by banks implicated in the LIBOR scandal were put into a special pot to fund projects run by military charities such as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA). For its part, the Scottish Government has appointed a Scottish Veterans Commissioner and established a Scottish Veterans Fund.

None of this has stopped some ex-servicemen from falling on hard times; the shrinking of our Armed Forces means more are coming out in the middle of an economic downturn when there is already a dearth of affordable accommodation and pressure on mental health services.

According to Scottish Veterans Residences, which provides temporary accommodation, including Whitefoord House, 650 veterans were assessed as being homeless last year, though many more may have been sofa surfing.

The charity – which houses a total of 150 veterans who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in Glasgow, Dundee and Edinburgh – estimates 3 to 4 per cent of rough sleepers are from a military background. Of the 71 veterans they took into their Edinburgh residence last year, ten had been on the streets.

“The reasons veterans end up homeless are similar to the reasons anyone ends up homeless: unemployment, mental health problems, alcohol abuse,” says Susie Hamilton, head of external relations. “But those problems may be magnified for ex-servicemen because, if you have moved around a lot, you are unlikely to have the social network you would have if you had lived in the same place for a long time.”

Combat Stress – a national charity which works with veterans suffering PTSD and other mental health problems – is also under increasing pressure with a UK-wide rise in referrals of 143 per cent over the past ten years. In Scotland, Combat Stress has 365 registered veterans, with 253 referred to its services for the first time in 2016. As well as providing a network of community teams, it runs Hollybush House, a residential treatment centre in Ayr.

At a newly opened activity centre on the Erskine Estate – an ex-serviceman’s village near Bishopton – Wyllie, 55, who has himself attended Combat Stress, is at a computer researching his family tree. A former chef with the catering corps (now the logistics corps), he served in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Germany and Canada and “saw a few things” that still trouble him today.

When he left the Army in 1993, at the age of 31, he discovered the years he had spent away meant he was not immediately eligible for social housing – so he had little choice but to move back in with his parents.

Eventually, he made himself homeless and moved round temporary accommodation for six and a half years before securing a council house in Dumbarton. In the early years, he picked up jobs in catering, but he found the gap between cooking for 3,000 and cooking in a hotel too great, and in any case his mental health was failing.

Like many people who suffer from PTSD, Wyllie finds it impossible to use public transport, and for several years he was confined to the house.

In another room, I find Garry Morrison, 39, working on a charcoal picture of a German Shepherd dog as part of an art class. Morrison, also a chef, was badly injured while training for deployment to Afghanistan and now walks with a stick. Medically discharged in 2010, he was forced to leave the married quarters at the base in Germany and move back to Scotland with his wife and three young children.

Like Wyllie, the family had no automatic right to social housing, so they moved in with his parents and then into dingy temporary accommodation before being offered a cottage for four on the Erskine Estate years ago.

“You leave what we call ‘behind the wire’ accommodation and it’s like being dropped in the deep end. You have to figure out: ‘Who do I see about housing? Who do I see about my banking? Who do I see about schools?’” says Morrison.

Morrison says he too suffers from PTSD. “Being in catering I was used to a busy lifestyle – I was always on the go, always fit. To go from that to not being able to do physical training, not being able to work – it brings your mood down,” he says. “You feel disappointed and that opens the gateway to other things.”

Talking to Wyllie and Morrison, you get the sense they feel forsaken by the Armed Forces and government and maybe even by a population that fails to give British veterans the respect accorded to their American counterparts by US citizens . “It took me ages to get into local mental health and I haven’t had a CPN [community psychiatric nurse] for two years,” says Wyllie. They have nothing but praise, however, for Erskine and the other charities who step in to fill the breach.

At present, the Erskine Estate is comprised of four care homes and 44 one, two and three-bedroom cottages. Recognising the challenges faced by early service leavers, however, the charity has just unveiled plans for 24 apartments for single men and women. The apartments, which will have a double bedroom, en-suite shower room and kitchenette, will house veterans working at Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, which is due to open in June. This social enterprise will employ 40 ex-servicemen and women to produce road and rail signs and provide fulfilment services.

The new Reid Mcewen activity centre, which runs classes in woodwork and cooking as well as art, and is open to all veterans in the Erskine/Bishopton/ Dumbarton area, is providing a morale boost to Morrison and Wyllie. For the past year, however, Wyllie has also been receiving one-to-one mentoring through a project called Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine. The project – funded by ABF, The Soldiers’ Charity and run in partnership with Erskine – tackles social isolation among those with ongoing mental health problems.

Project co-ordinator Ali Smith says one in five of the 72 veterans who have been matched with a mentor have PTSD and 22 per cent have been homeless. “At one of our focus groups, an ex-serviceman painted a perfect picture of how he slowly self-isolated – how he went from being able to go out of his house to just being with his family to gradually reducing his world room by room, until his entire universe was his bedroom ,” adds Andy Forster, programme manager of the national volunteering charity TimeBank, under whose auspices Shoulder to Shoulder Erskine runs.

Wyllie’s mentor is an ex-Royal Marine who has helped Wyllie push himself little by little to the point where he feels confident enough to attend the centre. “If I hadn’t been being mentored I would still be confined to the house,” he says. “Now, this centre has opened I have somewhere to go and the possibility of making more friends.”

The Scottish Government has identified two groups as particularly vulnerable: early leavers with less than four years’ service (50 per cent of whom will not have found employment after six months) and older NCOs (non-commissioned officers). But what Smith is seeing is a growth in the number of middle-aged men who left the Armed Forces many years ago whose lives have slowly disintegrated.

This is a perfect description of Greenfield, who had been out of the Army for almost two decades. Today, the Ancre Somme Association is among several organisations raising funds for his funeral. “We just want to do our best for Darren and his family,” says association secretary Tommy Davidson. “He deserves to be honoured and remembered.”

A more enduring legacy, however, would be a future in which fewer veterans slipped through the net. This is the goal MacLeod and MacLachlan have set themselves.

“We want to get to people earlier; to give them a sense of purpose,” MacLeod says. But they also want to help those who are teetering on the edge. “If we can pull guys back from the brink, if we can stop them from pulling the trigger – that would be an achievement.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "DANI GARAVELLI"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4674768.1517125945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674768.1517125945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Veteran Steven Wyllie outside the Reid Mcewan activity centre. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Veteran Steven Wyllie outside the Reid Mcewan activity centre. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4674768.1517125945!/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-art-for-art-s-sake-doesn-t-seem-to-be-good-enough-for-the-nats-1-4674510","id":"1.4674510","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Art for art’s sake doesn’t seem to be good enough for the nats","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517096761000 ,"articleLead": "

One of the most bewildering aspects of the 2014 independence referendum campaign was the way in which so many Scottish artists happily aligned themselves not only with the Yes movement but with the government.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674509.1517076512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "During the referendum campaign James MacMillan criticised 'shouty' pro-independence artists. Picture: Philip Gatward"} ,"articleBody": "

Self-styled radicals cosied up with establishment figures like former first minister Alex Salmond without ever questioning his plans.

Now, of course, there was nothing unremarkable about artists taking a side in the constitutional argument, but the willingness of so many to act as mere propagandists for SNP ministers was troubling indeed.

The unseemly spectacle of creative Scots as government poodles reached its apotheosis when the writer Alan Bissett appeared at the SNP’s final conference before referendum day to perform a section of his pro-independence play, The Pure, The Dead And The Brilliant, in advance of Salmond’s keynote speech.

Bissett – whose simplistic “Scotland good, UK bad” view of the arguments then playing out made him a darling of the government and encouraged the funding of his work by Yes supporters – became something of a poster boy for state-approved art.

The referendum is old news but there still linger nagging doubts about the undue influence of the Scottish Government on the arts community.

The composer and conductor Sir James MacMillan is one of the few high-profile creative Scots willing to ask important questions about this uneasy relationship. Last week, in the aftermath of funding announcements by arts quango Creative Scotland, he ventured again into the debate.

MacMillan recalled how he and assorted others in the “creative community” (his exasperated inverted commas) were invited, last May, to an event where the matter of Scotland’s “National Culture Strategy” would be discussed.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop reassured those attending that Scottish artists “don’t have to be close to government. They just have to have a common understanding of what the country wants.” This reassurance only served to underline the problem of government interference as well as exposing the Culture Secretary’s failure to understand the nature of artists and their work.

Artists do not “have to” have a common understanding of anything. They are not part of a herd and those willing to be subsumed into one are not necessarily the free and original thinkers they might consider themselves.

MacMillan went on to describe an event where group discussions were led by nationalists such as former pop star Pat Kane. The “common understanding” of Scottishness and artists’ concerns over Brexit were hot topics.

Creative Scotland was represented at the event, MacMillan reported, but so far as he could see, it was rather sidelined. The composer now asked whether the politician-led government strategy for the arts superseded that produced by Creative Scotland.

Last week’s Creative Scotland funding announcement saw a number of highly controversial decisions. Children’s theatre companies Catherine Wheels and Visible Fictions, and Birds of Paradise and Lung Ha, both of which work with people with learning disabilities, are among 20 organisations and companies to be completely stripped of their long-term funding.

It’s hardly surprising that questions exist about Scottish Government influence in these decisions. The Culture Secretary, having laid out ground rules about the duty of artists, can hardly expect us to accept that she has no desire to influence the direction in which publicly funded creative work moves, can she?

There are others who share MacMillan’s concerns but who feel unable to speak up over fears that their own funding will be cut. This is an intolerable situation.

Those “creatives” (my exasperated inverted commas) who aligned themselves with the SNP in 2014, believing themselves to be part of a socialist rather than a nationalist project, face a new quandary. Do they stick with the cautious party of Scottish government, with its generally centrist policies, or do they align themselves with the UK Labour Party under the leadership of old-school socialist, Jeremy Corbyn? If their desire truly is for a more traditionally left-wing direction for the country then surely the nats’ horse is the wrong one to back? As MacMillan wrote last week, “Much of what the SNP and Yes campaign offered creative types and intellectuals – grievance, moral superiority, a hint of radicalism – Corbyn’s Labour Party provides in spades”.

I share the composer’s confusion about the willingness of some artists to support a government which has done so little for them. When he states that the SNP at Holyrood is unwilling to trust the instincts of artists, preferring to pressure them into becoming part of its national project, I can’t help but agree.

Of course, the usual pro-government bloggers and SNP hangers-on were utterly dismissive of MacMillan (after all, what on earth can the country’s pre-eminent composer know about the creative process?) but these dismissive reactions merely bolster his case. If one is the wrong kind of artist (ie not a grievance-driven nationalist) then one’s views are worthless.

Under the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition that controlled Holyrood between 1999-2007, there was no attempt by ministers to dictate to artists what they should and should not do. This may not fit with the worldview of those in the arts world duped into thinking the Scottish Government is their great champion but it is, I’m afraid, the truth.

Having given themselves over to the cause of the party of government, will those pro-independence artists feel able to criticise the SNP when criticism is due? The signs, so far, are that they will not. The sense of moral superiority that accompanied the support of some artists for independence carries on. This is not a recipe for freedom of expression.

Artists should be able to expect the support of government when it comes to funding. But concerns endure that that support is conditional on those artists backing the SNP and its independence plans.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4674509.1517076512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674509.1517076512!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "During the referendum campaign James MacMillan criticised 'shouty' pro-independence artists. Picture: Philip Gatward","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "During the referendum campaign James MacMillan criticised 'shouty' pro-independence artists. Picture: Philip Gatward","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4674509.1517076512!/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/mattress-recycler-bids-good-night-to-scottish-waste-nightmare-1-4674516","id":"1.4674516","articleHeadline": "Mattress recycler bids good night to Scottish waste nightmare","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517094702000 ,"articleLead": "

A new mattress recycling facility, the first of its kind in Scotland, has opened on the outskirts of Edinburgh.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674515.1517125288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Site manager Ken Chrystal at the Hamilton Waste & Recycling facility in Carberry. Picture: Greg Macvean"} ,"articleBody": "

It has been designed to tackle a major problem that sees 12,000 tonnes of waste being dumped every year north of the border. Around 500,000 mattresses go to landfill annually in Scotland, part of around 7.5 million across the UK.

Until now the bulky items have been disposed of in this way, taking up a lot of space and presenting an environmental hazard.

Ken Chrystal, site manager at Hamilton Waste & Recycling, designed the new system. He hopes to process 100,000 mattresses this year – around a fifth of Scotland’s total mattress waste – and more in future.

The firm has already signed deals with three local authorities in Scotland, and has received interest from England and Wales.

Talks are also under way with some of the country’s leading bed retailers, which offer customers an uplift service for used mattresses.

Five full-time workers are now employed at the specialist plant, located at Carberry in East Lothian.

“Mattresses going to landfill is a huge problem nationally,” said Chrystal, “partly because of the enormous volumes of space they take up, but also because of their nature – they create voids which fill with poisonous methane and can explode.

“Landfill sites hate them because they cannot be compacted, plus they’re potentially hazardous and harmful to the environment.”

The average mattress weighs around 28kg. Although they are labour-intensive to deconstruct, there is up to 10kg of valuable scrap steel in the springs in each one, and around 20kg of various grades of textiles.

“We recover the steel, as well as cotton, shoddy fibres, polyester, ticking, coconut hair – some materials have value, others have none,” said Chrystal.

“Recovered fabrics such as polyester are collected and go back into manufacturing, possibly to make new mattresses, while waste latex and foam can be chopped up and reused to make things such as carpet underlay.

“There is usually a part of the outer fabric that is too wet or heavily soiled to be reused, so this is used locally as fuel to produce green energy.

“With this new plant we can guarantee 100 per cent landfill avoidance.”

Hamilton Waste and Recycling recently became the first Scottish company to be awarded the Green Compass PAS 402 accreditation for recycling excellence.

The firm, which employs around 100 workers, also has specialist facilities for recycling plastics and building waste such as plasterboard and wood.

It was awarded £117,678 from the Circular Economy Investment Fund to drive the new project forward.

The £18 million fund offers investment and supports work that will deliver circular economy growth. It is administered by Zero Waste Scotland and backed by the Scottish Government and the European Regional Development Fund.

Iain Gulland, chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Mattress recovery is a circular economy opportunity for Scotland that we have been pursuing for a number of years, and to see mattress reprocessing becoming possible on Scotland’s shores is a fantastic achievement – not just for the environment but for the Scottish economy.

“The Circular Economy Investment Fund offers businesses financial support to make transformative projects happen.”

Hamilton Waste and Recycling is aiming to process 2,000 mattresses 
a week, but Chrystal says there is potential to massively increase that number.

“We’re not at full capacity yet, but the site is fully operational and we will continue to expand and adapt,” he said.

“I’m hopeful this will become the norm, once people see the environmental benefits.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ilona Amos"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4674515.1517125288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674515.1517125288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Site manager Ken Chrystal at the Hamilton Waste & Recycling facility in Carberry. Picture: Greg Macvean","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Site manager Ken Chrystal at the Hamilton Waste & Recycling facility in Carberry. Picture: Greg Macvean","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4674515.1517125288!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scotland-bottom-for-economic-growth-warn-tories-1-4674635","id":"1.4674635","articleHeadline": "Scotland bottom for economic growth, warn Tories","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517094035000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon’s economic record will be attacked ahead of the Scottish budget, with the Conservatives claiming Scotland is heading for the lowest level of growth in the developed world.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674634.1517124338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon in Hoylrood. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

With MSPs set to debate stage one of the budget this week, the Scottish Tories have produced economic analysis which they will use to argue against Sturgeon’s plans for income tax hikes.

A dossier produced by the Conservatives compared Scottish growth rates with other countries across the G20, OECD and EU.

They used GDP figures produced by the Scottish Government’s independent economic forecaster, the Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC), the Office for Budget Responsibility and the OECD.

A comparison across 46 countries showed that Scotland was 41st in 2016 with GDP growth of 0.4 per cent.

Although Scottish GDP is forecast at 0.7 per cent in 2018 and 0.9 per cent in 2019. Scotland is leapfrogged by other countries and ends up languishing in 46th position at the foot of the table.

With the Scottish economy lagging behind other countries, the Conservatives will argue that Finance Secretary Derek Mackay should not be raising taxes.

The forthcoming budget will be the first to use Holyrood’s new powers to raise income tax. Mackay proposes to introduce an extra 21 per cent income tax band for earnings between £24,000 and £44,000 that will sit between the basic and higher rates. He has also put a penny on both the higher and top rates, increasing them to 41p and 46p respectively.

Tory analysis also claims the Scottish Government has failed to meet two key economic targets introduced in the Scottish Government’s 2007 Economic Strategy.

The first was “to raise the GDP growth rate to the UK level by 2011”. This has now been reset to an indefinite target as Scotland has failed to match UK growth in 30 of the 42 quarters since they came to power. The second target was “to match the GDP growth rate of the small independent EU countries by 2017.” As of Q3 2017, Scottish growth was 3 per cent lower than in small EU countries, and the gap is increasing.

The Tory dossier also claims Scottish firms pay business rates equivalent to 2 per cent of GDP, the highest in Europe.

Yesterday shadow economy secretary Dean Lockhart said: “The simple fact is that despite ten years in power, the SNP has created a Scotland with high taxes and continuous low growth.

“To quote the independent Fraser of Allander Institute, such low trends in economic growth for Scotland have not been witnessed in 60 years. This impacts on the amount of money available for schools, hospitals and roads.

“The SNP must concentrate on growing the Scottish economy. There can be no case for raising taxes while Scots are already paying so much and getting so little.”

John McLaren, an independent economist who runs the Scottish Trends website, said: “The Scottish Fiscal Commission forecast annual GDP growth rates of under 1 per cent up to 2021. In contrast, almost none of the other 45 countries forecast by the OECD, from Italy and Russia to South Africa, has GDP growth of under 1 per cent in 2018 or 2019. That’s pretty damning and worrying for the government.

“It is not really the SNP that’s to blame, it is more to do with the global downturn. What could be argued is that the SNP hasn’t reacted to that problem sufficiently.”

Defending his strategy, Mackay said: “Our income tax policy will protect the 70 per cent of taxpayers who earn less than £33,000 a year. As a result of our draft budget, Scotland will be the lowest taxed part of the UK for the majority of taxpayers.

“In addition, our budget plans will see hard-working public sector workers receive a pay increase of as much as 3 per cent – putting more money in their pockets. The government is determined to grow our economy – as demonstrated by the £270 million increase on economic spending we announced in the draft budget.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4674634.1517124338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4674634.1517124338!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon in Hoylrood. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek Mackay and Nicola Sturgeon in Hoylrood. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4674634.1517124338!/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/rates-loophole-brings-businesses-to-their-knees-1-4667584","id":"1.4667584","articleHeadline": "Rates loophole brings businesses to their knees","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516541662000 ,"articleLead": "

Hundreds of firms have been hit with punitive business rates hikes as a result of a loophole in the Scottish Government’s budget, Scotland on Sunday can reveal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667142.1516473356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Daniel and Joanna Campbell at the Leaf & Bean cafe, which has been hit hard by the rise. Picture: Ian Georgeson"} ,"articleBody": "

Fears that firms will be put out of business have been raised after Labour research revealed hundreds of small enterprises are affected, with almost 100 seeing their bills more than double.

The loophole exists despite Finance Secretary Derek Mackay’s efforts to cap business rates rises following an outcry over the sharp increases caused by last year’s revaluation. At least 650 small to medium-sized businesses have been hit by the rates increase leading to Labour calls for the loophole to be closed.

“This is a mess,” said Labour MSP for Edinburgh Southern, Daniel Johnson. “The SNP Government chose to act when the pressure from political parties and businesses became too strong. However, they introduced a transitional deal that effectively missed out hundreds of businesses. Those businesses planned their finances around Mackay’s big announcement – only to be told weeks later that they were still seeing their bills skyrocket.”

“I have spoken with business owners in my constituency who are really struggling – indeed one popular local café had to close its doors – they simply can’t afford these huge bills.

He added: “This gets to the heart of this budget’s basic competence. Derek Mackay must make a simple fix and close this loophole to protect these 650 small businesses across Scotland.”

Last year Mackay introduced a cap on business rates rises of 14.75 per cent following anger over the huge increases many businesses faced as a result of the revaluation of their rateable values. Business rates are calculated by multiplying a business’s rateable value by the poundage rate and then applying any reliefs such as the Small Business Bonus Scheme. The loophole arises because the cap applies to gross rates bills before relief from the Small Business Scheme is taken into account.

Meanwhile the revaluation has seen the rateable values of businesses increase so that they are no longer eligible for as much relief from the Small Business Scheme. For example, a firm whose rateable value increased from between £10,000 and £12,000 to beyond £18,000 would lose 50 per cent rates relief and end up paying the full whack. Labour analysis based on independent figures suggests 95 business properties were affected in this manner, suffering a business rates rise of 129 per cent. A total of 73 business premises saw their rateable value increase from between £10,000 and £12,000 to between £15,000 and £18,000 – a change that saw their relief downgraded from 50 per cent to 25 per cent and led to a 72 per cent business rates hike. A further 483 business premises saw their rateable value increase from between £12,000 and £18,000 a change that saw them lose relief of 25 per cent and having to pay the full amount. Those affected saw business rates hikes of between 35 per cent and 53 per cent.

Mackay’s spokesman accused Labour of “hypocrisy” saying the government had extended the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

Case study

Daniel and Joanna Campbell invested tens of thousands of pounds in their Leaf & Bean café, the small business they set up around four years ago. Their hard work was just beginning to pay off and they had achieved their first year’s profit. Then their rates went up from £5,227 to £7,997 – an increase of 53 per cent. “I am fuming and I find it absolutely shocking,” said Daniel Campbell. “When the rates bill came through, it felt like our guts had been ripped out. We are now back to square one.”

The café in Morningside, Edinburgh, which employs up to 10 staff, had its rateable value reassessed. The increase in value meant they were no longer eligible for 25 per cent relief from the Small Business Bonus Scheme.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4667142.1516473356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667142.1516473356!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Daniel and Joanna Campbell at the Leaf & Bean cafe, which has been hit hard by the rise. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Daniel and Joanna Campbell at the Leaf & Bean cafe, which has been hit hard by the rise. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4667142.1516473356!/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/science-unearths-neglected-health-food-potatoes-1-4667421","id":"1.4667421","articleHeadline": "Science unearths neglected health food: potatoes","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516527673000 ,"articleLead": "

Move over goji berries and green tea and make way for the humble tattie.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667428.1516527667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gardener with a handful of freshly harvested potatoes"} ,"articleBody": "

The latest research suggests potatoes can play a significant role in helping combat everything from heart attacks to cancer and strokes and now it seems they could even stave off dementia.

The potato, once a staple on every dinner table in the UK, has fallen from grace in recent years.

This is partly because of fashion, with a rise in popularity of the likes of rice, pasta and couscous, but also due to a perception the starchy tubers aren’t very good for you because of their carb load.

Now agricultural research scientists from Scotland’s James Hutton Institute (JHI) believe it’s time to put spuds back on the menu as a healthy and nutritious part of a balanced diet.

The call comes from Professor Derek Stewart and his colleague Mark Taylor, who recently completed a new study reviewing the latest research into potatoes and nutrition for the Agricultural and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB).

Stewart, a senior scientist and plant chemistry specialist at JHI, said: “Potatoes have got an unnecessarily bad name and consumption of fresh potatoes has been going down for a long time.

“I think the problem is that people look at tatties as just a source of carbohydrate, and of course if you’re eating loads and you’re deep-frying everything it’s not going to be particularly healthy. But I wouldn’t lay all the blame on the potato.

“I think a lot of misconceptions have been drummed up.

“The studies we looked at found a whole raft of different benefits. If you had to live the rest of your life on just one thing, you could do it on potatoes and remain pretty healthy. There are not many crops you can say that about.

“Potatoes are a great source of loads of vitamins and macro and micro minerals, which many people spend money buying supplements for.

“There are also non-nutrients like carotenoids and polyphenols. They’re pretty good for dietary fibre too.

“Epidemiology studies have been carried out on huge populations, looking at potatoes and cardiovascular disease, and what came up there was replacing meat in the diet with vegetables and potatoes is linked with a lower risk of heart attack.

“Other research has found a strong association with enhanced cognitive function in the elderly if they’re eating potatoes, although they haven’t yet identified an underpinning cause.”

Today around 46.8 million people are living with dementia around the globe, but that figure is set to more than treble by 2050.

It is one of the leading causes of death in the UK, claiming the lives of 15 per cent of women and eight per cent of men.

A spokeswoman from the charity Alzhemier Scotland, said: “What is good for your heart can also be good for your head.

“A good way to reduce your risk of dementia is to make some changes to your lifestyle, such as taking regular exercise, adopting a Mediterranean diet rich in essential nutrients, moderating your alcohol intake and not smoking.”

She says dementia is the biggest health and social care challenge facing today’s society.

There are more than 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and by 2020 it is estimated there will be more than one million people 
living with the condition in the UK.

She added: “Scotland has made significant progress in the past decade in improving the care, support and treatment for people with dementia, but much remains to be done.”

Unhealthy eating is widely blamed as a factor in Scotland’s poor health record.

Research has shown that children and young people north of the border follow a diet that falls short of national recommendations and is less healthy than that of their counterparts in other European countries.

And it’s getting worse – the latest health survey suggests only two in ten Scots are eating the guideline five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, while one in ten has none.

Stewart believes putting fresh home-grown spuds on our plates could help change this.

“By and large this is a glowing report for potatoes,” he said.

“Of course you have to take it with the caveat that potatoes have to be taken as part of a balanced diet, rather than going daft with them.

“We know they can deliver much of your recommended daily requirements for a lot of different vitamins, so being able to take it in different formats means it’s very versatile.

“You can take in potato in multiple different formats and in most of those formats it’s palatable, whether it’s mashed, roasted, boiled, baked or even chips. Certainly the elderly will eat potato, and once eaten it is well digested, which means they can easily take up the nutrients. Nutrition in the elderly is difficult because the way your body absorbs what you need from your food changes as you get older.

He believes the potato also suffers from always having been around – a lack of novelty.

“When you get something new and flashy like quinoa or different types of twisty pasta, potatoes have to compete on that basis,” he said.

“But I think the flexibility of the potato outstrips any other crops for food. The way you take potatoes in is only limited by your imagination. Apparently you can even make desserts from them.”

Mike Storey, head of resource management at AHDB, says potatoes are not only good for human health, their cultivation is less harmful to the planet than that of many other staples.

“Potatoes are not in the five-a-day because they are classed as starchy carbohydrates,” he said.

“They should be on your plate as a starchy carbohydrate, alongside other vegetables.

“They are high in vitamin C, iron and folate, plus a range of micronutrients as well as carotenoids and polyphenols. They are also a good source of dietary fibre.

“Potatoes have been maligned in terms of having a high glycaemic index, or GI, but that very much depends on the cooking method and potato variety. This new report shows the GI is not higher than for other starchy foods.

“Another positive aspect is their satiety level. They are very good in terms of producing a feeling of fullness –feeling satisfied after you’ve eaten them. This is great, reducing the urge to overeat and possibly helping combat obesity.

“Like all foods, potatoes should be eaten in moderation, but they have 
a really important part to 
play in the health of the nation.

“As well as that, they have a good profile in terms of environmental impact. Potatoes require less water than crops such as rice to put the same amount of calories on a plate. That’s great news for growers at home and abroad.

“There are lots of reasons why potatoes should be the nation’s favourite veg.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4667428.1516527667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667428.1516527667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Gardener with a handful of freshly harvested potatoes","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Gardener with a handful of freshly harvested potatoes","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4667428.1516527667!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4667429.1516527671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667429.1516527671!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Young carer and senior lady sitting beside table, drinking coffee","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Young carer and senior lady sitting beside table, drinking coffee","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4667429.1516527671!/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/health/gp-contract-gets-the-thumbs-down-from-rural-doctors-1-4660637","id":"1.4660637","articleHeadline": "GP contract gets the thumbs-down from rural doctors","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515887106000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s rural doctors have voted overwhelmingly to reject the proposed new GP contract set to be rolled out later this year.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660636.1515864204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Practices in remote areas feel sidelined, says RGPAS chairman David Hogg"} ,"articleBody": "

Figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday show that of the 74 out of 115 rural GPs who voted, 65 said no to the contract proposal.

A members’ survey carried out by the Rural GP Association of Scotland (RGPAS) reveals the considerable level of concern felt by doctors in remote areas of the country, with 66 out of 74 doctors saying they don’t feel they have been adequately represented in the contract negotiations.

The association has criticised the Scottish Government and the BMA for refusing to publish the geographical breakdown when the results of the national poll are announced next week.

The latest move is part of an ongoing row with rural GPs, who have been joined by colleagues from the Deep End practice in Govan, who care for some of the most socially deprived people in the country. They have also voiced concerns over the Workload Allocation Formula used to determine levels of funding.

Dr David Hogg, chairman of the RGPAS, said they were still waiting to hear back from the Scottish GP Committee (SGPC) about concerns they have raised.

He added: “There is significant concern from our members that rural practices have been sidelined from the attempts to improve future primary care in Scotland.

“There seems to be a disconnect between the strategic aspirations of the Scottish Government and the operational realities of delivering GP services, particularly to rural communities.

“We would have expected greater assurance and clarity on how this contract is going to be implemented in rural areas, and without this we have had to use our votes to indicate that more thought must be given to rural-proofing the proposals.”

The doctors from the Govan SHIP (social and health integrated partnership) say the new funding formula is heavily weighted in favour of practices which have a higher percentage of affluent elderly patients as opposed to younger deprived people with multiple health problems.

Chair of BMA Scotland’s GP Committee Dr Alan McDevitt said: “The proposed contract will ensure that every practice in Scotland has their finances protected, while providing more financial support to those practices with under-resourced higher workloads.

“The proposed contract will also mean that golden hellos in rural areas will be expanded and financial assistance for relocation costs will be put in place, helping rural GP recruitment.

“The process for the poll was agreed at the SGPC meeting in August at the same time as the committee approved the question that will be asked and where all of Scotland’s LMCs were represented. There was no request or discussion around a regional breakdown of the poll results at this meeting.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The new contract will ensure GPs can spend more time with patients and less time on bureaucracy. It will help cut doctors’ workload and make general practice an even more attractive career.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kevan Christie"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4660636.1515864204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660636.1515864204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Practices in remote areas feel sidelined, says RGPAS chairman David Hogg","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Practices in remote areas feel sidelined, says RGPAS chairman David Hogg","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4660636.1515864204!/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/leader-sturgeon-must-focus-on-the-european-single-market-1-4660854","id":"1.4660854","articleHeadline": "Leader: Sturgeon must focus on the European single market","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1515881770000 ,"articleLead": "

As a Brexit supporter, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars can be expected to take issue with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, even if both share the main objective of Scottish independence. Sturgeon sees Brexit as a possible road to independence, if the process of leaving the EU goes wrong; Sillars fears that opposition to Brexit which is seen as obstructive will create a backlash against Scottish independence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660853.1515881767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sillars is not impressed by the SNP's strategic thinking over Europe. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

Sillars clearly disagrees with Sturgeon’s approach, and he has a valid point about the long-term game. If the Scottish Government was to “sabotage” Brexit, as he puts it, there would be consequences. Sturgeon and the SNP could indeed expect to be on the receiving end of similar tactics should Scottish independence ever be at stake. All is fair in love and war, and politics as well of course.

He also points out that the Brexit ballot paper “had nothing to do with Scotland” despite the Scottish vote delivering a majority for Remain.

Tomorrow, Sturgeon will publish an analysis paper on Scotland’s future relationship with Europe, post Brexit, and it is expected to contain grim warnings of what will be lost, as well as what would be the most desirable outcomes of an undesirable event. Sturgeon is entitled to state her view that a hard Brexit will have a serious negative impact on the Scottish economy if that is what she believes, but the key matter in terms of Sillars’ criticism is the issue of “sabotage”. Does trying to get the best deal out of Brexit – and for the SNP, that means staying in the single market – amount to undermining the UK government? So far, despite what her critics might claim, the First Minister has not crossed into that territory.

Ultimately, it is unlikely that the Scottish Government has the ability to disrupt or impede Brexit, even if it wanted to, in which case it should avoid making futile gestures, which would only be seen as petty. The best strategy for the First Minister is to accept that Brexit is coming and fight for Scotland’s best interests within that scenario – staying in the single market.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4660853.1515881767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4660853.1515881767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sillars is not impressed by the SNP's strategic thinking over Europe. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sillars is not impressed by the SNP's strategic thinking over Europe. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4660853.1515881767!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}