{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/business/companies/retail/scots-shoppers-hit-by-400-brexit-price-hike-since-referendum-vote-1-4783490","id":"1.4783490","articleHeadline": "Scots shoppers ‘hit by £400 Brexit price hike since referendum vote’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534232181000 ,"articleLead": "

Household bills in Scotland have soared by more than £400 a year on average since the Brexit vote two years ago, research has claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4783489.1534225750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Campaigners say the average household bill has risen by �1,269 a year"} ,"articleBody": "

The price of everyday goods such as sliced bread, milk and butter has increased sharply in the past two years because of the falling value of the pound since the decision to leave the EU, according to the study by the People’s Vote campaign.

There are growing calls for a second vote on the final Brexit deal amid fears the cost hikes will only get worse after the UK’s formal departure in March.

Uncertainty over the Brexit negotiations has also meant inflation in the UK has been higher than in other eurozone countries, fuelling the significant increase in the cost of living.

According to the campaigners, the average Scottish household bill has risen by £1,269 a year since Brexit. They say this is £417 higher than it would have been had we voted to Remain.

However, the research was disputed by the Scottish Conservatives, which described it as “far-fetched and unconvincing” because it made simplistic assumptions about the causes of inflation.

The data is based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for the average annual household spend in Scotland.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “For hard-working families across Scotland, Brexit means bills, bills, bills.

“Hiking the price of bread, butter and milk would hammer those who struggle to make ends meet.That’s why representatives from all parties should join us in calling for a say on the final Brexit deal.”

The price of 250g of butter averaged £1.36 in June 2016 and now costs £1.79 – an increase of 43p. A 227g packet of coffee is up 26p. Bread has risen by 4.5 per cent (6p a loaf), while sausages are up 45p a kilo on average. Salmon fillets have gone up by £2.81 a kilo.

Scots trying to eat healthily have also been hit hard. Apples are up by 13p a kilo, superfood broccoli is up by 29p and tomatoes are 15p a kilo more expensive. The cost of a glass of wine has shot up by 21p a glass and a whisky nip is up from £2.69 to £2.87.

Emma Currie, a Scottish actor and a supporter of People’s Vote, said: “These figures show Brexit is already hitting everyone’s pockets in Scotland hard and we haven’t even left the EU yet. Uncertainty and the risk of no-deal or a bad deal is already having an impact on our economy. That’s really frustrating for so many Scots who voted to stay part of the EU by a large margin.

“Despite the promise of increased funds for the NHS, greater prosperity and more money for government spending, this hasn’t materialised. Instead we’re seeing tighter budgets and less money in our pockets.

“As a mother, it’s worrying to see the impact on our daily and family lives.”

Supermarket giants have warned the Treasury a no-deal Brexit would force up the price of the average weekly food 
basket by as much as 12 per cent.

Senior executives from some of the big four supermarkets made the alarming prediction in briefings to the Treasury on the impact on food prices of a no-deal Brexit.

The biggest tariffs on imports from the EU could include cheese, up by 44 per cent, and beef, up by 40 per cent. Tariffs on chicken could rise by 22 per cent.

It comes amid growing fears about the collapse of the negotiations with the EU as the stalemate continues over Theresa May’s Chequers plan.

Trade Secretary Liam Fox warned recently that no deal was the most likely scenario after the UK’s departure.

It emerged over the weekend UK voters are now ready to back Remain in a rerun of the EU referendum, as polling research indicated more than 100 Westminster constituencies that backed Leave in the 2016 referendum would switch their preference.

But there is little sign of any imminent move by the SNP leadership to get behind such a second vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has only said she will not stand in the way of a second vote, but other figures such as Brexit minister Mike Russell and Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard have been more enthusiastic. The precedent it may set for a rerun of a future independence referendum Yes vote is at the heart of SNP concerns.

SNP Europe spokesman Peter Grant called on Mrs May to step back from the “cliff edge” and work with the devolved institutions to avoid a hard Brexit.

“The UK government is leading the economy and business community down the path of economic self-sabotage if it continues to sideline Parliament, ignore devolved administrations and push aside warnings by organisations,” he said.

“It’s high time Theresa May ended the narrow-minded approach and instead worked with the devolved governments in order to protect our economy, businesses and hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Tories questioned the research and said it was wrong to include alcohol prices, which had increased across the board in Scotland due to the introduction of minimum unit pricing in May.

He said: “There are any number of things that can contribute to price rises. Simply blaming Brexit, something that hasn’t happened yet, is fanciful.

“No one doubts there will be challenges thrown up by leaving the EU, as well as opportunities, but this research is far- fetched and unconvincing.”

A UK government spokeswoman said: “The UK has an excellent level of food security built on access to a range of sources, including strong domestic production and imports from third countries. This will continue to be the case after exit.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "SCOTT MACNAB"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4783489.1534225750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4783489.1534225750!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Campaigners say the average household bill has risen by �1,269 a year","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Campaigners say the average household bill has risen by �1,269 a year","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4783489.1534225750!/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/letters-lesley-riddoch-wrong-to-claim-bbc-fails-to-report-pro-scottish-independence-marches-1-4783631","id":"1.4783631","articleHeadline": "Letters: Lesley Riddoch wrong to claim BBC fails to report pro-Scottish independence marches","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534238832000 ,"articleLead": "

A few days ago Russian human rights activists used an event at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to attack Alex Salmond for taking money from Russia Today – Vladimir Putin’s propaganda TV channel.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4783629.1534238828!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scotsman columnist Lesley Riddoch. Picture Johnston Press"} ,"articleBody": "

They said: “I think it’s awful ... All the Russian propaganda TV channels are not working to provide information, but to provide hatred.”

Rather than echo these views and help a former First Minister of Scotland be less of a national embarrassment, Lesley Riddoch used her column in the Scotsman (Perspective, 13 August) to attack the BBC for apparently not reporting recent pro-independence marches. Of course, this is “Fake News” from Riddoch.

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: BBC struggles to accept Scottish independence isn’t a ‘phase’

A quick search finds that the BBC did report these events with headlines like “Independence supporters stage Glasgow march” and “Thousands take part in Scottish independence march in Inverness”.

Bizarrely, Riddoch also spends a good deal of her article defending the pro-SNP Government blogger Stuart Campbell aka Wings Over Scotland.

This is a man who makes a lucrative income out of using the worst kind of language to attack those who dare to question the SNP.

Lesley Riddoch’s article shows us only one thing – hardcore nationalists in Scotland aim to move the public away from trusted news sources like the BBC and on to so called “alternative” media like Campbell and social media. In that domain, people like Putin thrive as they can control content to deliver their agenda.

READ MORE: Pussy Riot founder slams Alex Salmond’s Russian TV hosts

Of course, the BBC News is not perfect but when looked at as a whole it does a pretty good job. That simple fact is why hardcore Nationalists don’t like it. They’d rather Scotland was a place where the media only reports good news about the SNP Government.

The problem is that this attitude results in the kind of news output people enjoy in Russia where, ironically, many turn to the BBC for their news.

(Cllr) Scott Arthur, Edinburgh

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Thousands of Scottish independence supporters are expected to march in Dundee this weekend.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4783017.1534157530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A number of pro-independence marches have taken place up and down the country. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Pro-independence campaigners will stage a rally in the coastal city on Saturday, May 8.

Marchers are set to leave Baxter Park at 12.45pm for a procession through the streets of Dundee.

According to the All Under One Banner (AUOB) Facebook event page, around 2,000 people are planning to attend the march, with around 4,000 “interested”.

READ MORE: ‘Around 40,000’ take part in pro-independence march in Glasgow

A number of pro-independence rallies have been staged this year by the AUOB group.

In May, around 40,000 people took part in the Glasgow event, with men, women and children draped in Saltires and waving flags as they walked from Kelvingrove to Glasgow Green.

Speakers at the event included controversial former MSP Tommy Sheridan.

READ MORE: Helen Martin: English pose biggest threat to the Union

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4783017.1534157530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4783017.1534157530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A number of pro-independence marches have taken place up and down the country. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A number of pro-independence marches have taken place up and down the country. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4783017.1534157530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/in-pictures-hundreds-protest-in-glasgow-against-bbc-bias-1-4782599","id":"1.4782599","articleHeadline": "In pictures: Hundreds protest in Glasgow against ‘BBC bias’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534149515000 ,"articleLead": "

A couple of hundred protesters gathered outside of the BBC headquarters in Glasgow on Saturday afternoon to protest against what they describe as “BBC bias”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782586.1534009759!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Protester Gordon Hadley (80) outside the BBC offices.' Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

• View the full album HERE

The rally at Pacific Quay saw demonstrators call out the BBC for not representing the “voices of the people of Scotland”.

Hundreds of people waved Wings Over Scotland flags, Saltires and anti-BBC banners and listened to speakers such as ex-employees of the broadcasting firm, bloggers such as Peter Bell and organisers of the protest including David McGuinness, who spoke about the “constant negativity of the BBC”.

One speaker stated: “[In the future] the BBC will be as extinct as the dinosaurs, while wee boys may run around saying ‘I wish there were still dinosaurs’, there will be nobody, in a future independent Scotland, saying ‘I wish there was still BBC Scotland news.’”

Last month, the BBC denied it had asked YouTube to shut down two pro-independence accounts on the video uploading giant’s website in a row over copyright, with Stuart Campbell, who runs the Wings over Scotland website, claiming that the BBC had “gone on a crusade against pro-independence sites” by “suddenly launching mass takedown demands”.

The move provoked anger from Scottish independence supporters.

• READ MORE: BBC denies asking YouTube to shut down two pro-independence channels in copyright row

In a report on the demonstration by the BBC, a spokesman for the broadcaster said: “We offered the leaders of the protest the opportunity to come in to the building to enter into dialogue with senior managers at BBC Scotland but they declined the offer.”

Reacting to the events on Twitter, Labour councillor for Linn Ward on Glasgow City Council, Malcolm Cunning posted: “Absolutely typical, a small cabal of fringe nationalists protest outside the BBC here in Glasgow claiming that ‘BBC Scotland does not speak to the people,’ and then refuse an offer to meet with senior BBC managers to discuss their complaints.”

One of the organisers of the demo, David Milligan, also responded to the report by the BBC tweeting: “I was the person asked and I declined. We don’t want to enter into a dialogue with the BBC to try to repair things.... Do any of you see any buttons up the back of my head? No! We want to see the end of the BBC in Scotland. I hope I made that clear.”

Twitter user @WilfJames added his support, posting: “I was working today but stand with the people protesting at Pacific quay today. The BBC has been running labour and conservative press releases as news for to long. Scrutiny has gone. Journalism is dead if it continues.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782586.1534009759!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782586.1534009759!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Protester Gordon Hadley (80) outside the BBC offices.' Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Protester Gordon Hadley (80) outside the BBC offices.' 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ANY agreement about anything between Scotland and the UK seems about as far-fetched as a perfect Brexit. It’s as if the Auld Enemy relationship hasn’t changed since the 13th to 16th century, despite the establishment of devolution and Theresa May’s reference to her “precious Union”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782296.1534147642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many 'dahn saff' refer to Britain as 'England' and consider the Union flag 'English'. Picture: AP"} ,"articleBody": "

The union continues to be hostile rather than precious. With many ­reasons on both sides for that, the most constantly grating is not the drive for independence. It’s England’s lack of respect and total ignorance about this country.

The public south of the Border (not that there really is a “border”) aren’t expected to know that much about a country they’ve never lived in, with many believing it’s as much a part of England as Yorkshire.

But for major players in Westminster, political pundits, establishment figures, the BBC, other broadcasters and anyone else who comments about Britain, their lack of knowledge about Scotland is pathetic, but also increases hostility among many Scots.

So often “dahn saff” people refer to Britain as “England”, and consider the Union flag to be “English”, along with referring to English passports and the Queen of England. Scotland doesn’t exist.

A year ago, Jeremy Corbyn was ­discussing improving devolution, and suggested it would be “problematic” for Scotland to have its own legal ­system. Apparently, he had no idea that had been the case since 1707. Was he aware of other differences, such as education and the health service?

The lack of knowledge in England about independence and the SNP is hugely significant. The recent case of Chris McEleny who worked in the MoD munitions site in Ayrshire in 2016 while running for the SNP deputy leadership, is interesting.

His security clearance failed followed by suspension, after national security officers questioned him over his pro-independence views. How is it possible that supporting a political party (the main leading party in his country) made him a security risk? Would the same have applied to a Labour candidate?

Perhaps these officers (along with many people in England who know nothing about our politics) believed the SNP was a Scottish version of the IRA, some sort of republican army, a small “nutty” sect, rather than the established political party which has ruled Scotland for years, supported by a large percentage of the population. Our devolved government and its voting system were designed by the UK to avoid a “ruling” party, a plan that failed because of the level of SNP votes.

Not all SNP voters necessarily want independence, they just want an SNP government. It’s all too complex for the English to grasp.

The Scottish Employment Tribunal judge presiding over McEleny’s case against the MoD didn’t focus on party loyalty. He said McEleny’s belief in the right of Scotland to national sovereignty was a philosophical belief with similar cogency to a religious belief.

As a Scottish judge he must have known the precedent repercussions of discriminating against an SNP ­supporter – half the country would be up in arms, especially Nationalists working for English organisations. The English will be mystified. This is NOT an SNP epistle. My point is that there is no chance of Union ­survival while the English establishment remains so ill-informed, lacking in understanding and blind to the country which, for some mysterious reason, it wants to keep.

The Fringe has spread out too far already

Edinburgh Council wants Festival and Fringe venues to spread out across the city to stop bottleneck jams in the centre.

We live in a quiet, residential area next to a very long, walled lane that eventually leads to the Meadows. It can be a dire location at this time of year with raucous Fringe-goers making their way home late at night, laughing, shouting and scattering rubbish, devoid of respect for sleeping families on the other side of the wall. Detrimentally, the Fringe is already “spreading” from the centre.

Widening venue locations will increase levels of disturbance. It won’t be welcomed by everyone. And with more security measures needed at Fringe events, the police may not be happy with the plan either. Is the Fringe simply getting too big?

Stop driving out our own citizens

Evening News reader feedback is a good reflection of public views. As protesters about the ridiculous level of student flats and accommodation being built in Edinburgh made clear, the Capital is becoming a giant campus rather than a city.

My son and his partner, now living in Musselburgh, are part of a growing generation of young city professionals moving to Midlothian and East Lothian where they can afford to buy comfortable, roomy flats and commute. Along with them goes their council tax, plus their retail, trades and leisure custom.

Students don’t pay council tax, and don’t stay forever. Nor do tourists. Yet that’s the direction Edinburgh is going in.

The need to stop pumping up tourism and halt planning approval for student blocks is obvious. Using sites for affordable housing benefiting renters and buyers is what we desperately need to maintain our city.

TV missed the May protesters

I’m not usually a fan of social media. But occasionally, “newsy” films are posted showing interesting events ignored or omitted by Scottish television companies. Last week Facebook posts showed two separate occasions during Theresa May’s brief visit to Scotland when large crowds gathered to boo the PM. No sign of that on TV.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782296.1534147642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782296.1534147642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many 'dahn saff' refer to Britain as 'England' and consider the Union flag 'English'. Picture: AP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many 'dahn saff' refer to Britain as 'England' and consider the Union flag 'English'. Picture: AP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782296.1534147642!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782297.1534147660!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782297.1534147660!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Fringe brings chaos to the streets of Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Fringe brings chaos to the streets of Edinburgh. Picture: Jon Savage","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782297.1534147660!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5802065688001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brian-monteith-education-failure-will-be-the-nationalist-epitaph-1-4782809","id":"1.4782809","articleHeadline": "Brian Monteith: ‘Education failure’ will be the Nationalist epitaph","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1534146866000 ,"articleLead": "

For all its blustering bravado about holding another independence referendum, it is the sheer scale of its own incompetence that is going to sink the SNP government – and its failure on education will matter the most.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782808.1534146863!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The SNP's management of education under Swinney and his predecessors has been to deny, dissemble and distort the true picture of what is happening in Scottish schools, says Brian Monteith. Picture: Stuart Nicol"} ,"articleBody": "

The SNP once had a strategy of showing it was at least no worse than Labour and the Liberal Democrats at managing Scottish public services. Once the public could see that schools would still teach kids to read and count, even speak a second language; once people could be assured that there would be no NHS cuts that would diminish the service they had come to expect; and once everyone would be relaxed that the trains would run on time and roads would be, if not paved with gold, at least paved then the SNP could win a second term and get down to the business of delivering independence.

If the Scottish Executive, now re-branded the Scottish Government, could run competently the vast majority of those public services that touch Scots then they could have the confidence to take on the whole gamut not yet devolved of raising taxes, conducting foreign relations and having a credible defence.

The strategy undoubtedly worked. Having become the largest party at Holyrood by one seat, and then relied upon Annabel Goldie’s hitherto untouchable Tories to rule as a minority administration, the SNP went on to win a famous second term in 2011 that gave Alex Salmond the chutzpah to push on with a referendum that he nearly won.

Now, four years on from that disappointment, and the SNP government is still waving the flag for a further referendum but the strategy of demonstrating its competence is in tatters. Everybody can see it except the SNP government itself, which is either in complete and utter denial of its growing litany of failures – evidenced by a failure to show humility and the constant need to spin an alternative narrative – or ministers simply blame Westminster and Tory austerity which is not supported by the facts.

This past week we have seen education come back to the fore as possibly the greatest failure of SNP competence.

If there was one thing domestically that Scotland developed within the union it was a world-wide reputation for an enviably successful education system that equipped boys and girls of all classes with an ability to achieve their ambitions. That is not a claim that can be made now.

The decline in Scottish education did not happen overnight, but it has become more marked during the tenure of the three SNP administrations.

We have seen a steady decline in primary school literacy and numeracy, the introduction of a new curriculum that is more and more accepted within the teaching profession as in need of urgent reform, while Scotland’s position in various international rankings for maths, English and science has fallen from among the best to barely average and behind countries with much poorer resources.

Professor of Education Jim Scott has demonstrated the pass rate for the Higher exams is declining. Now pass rates will go up and down, but a decline of three years in a row is a trend, and one that cannot be ignored. While the teaching of Gaelic was given a generous pledge of further support from education secretary John Swinney, we can also see the uptake in foreign languages has fallen through the floor with the obvious outcome that fewer Scottish pupils will be equipped for the wider world. The picture in sciences is no better.

Gaelic is not much use in China or the Americas but the SNP undoubtedly hopes it should make us feel different from the rest of the UK.

We also know teacher shortages in key subjects such as maths are common and the numbers of teachers leaving the profession is expected to grow. We know that other experts on Scottish education, such as Professor Lindsay Paterson and Keir Bloomer believe urgent action is required but the supposed John Swinney – whom Nicola Sturgeon appointed as a safe pair of hands – has withdrawn his proposed education reforms rather than build a consensus with other parties in Holyrood.

Indeed the SNP’s management of education under Swinney and his predecessors has been to deny, dissemble and distort the true picture of what is happening in Scottish schools by changing how statistics are presented, withdrawing from comparative international rankings and shoving the blame on to others. Yet we now know that spending on education has fallen by an enormous £400m over a period when the resources available are reported by the Accounts Commission as being constant. So much for education being the top priority that Nicola Sturgeon claimed.

It was the First Minister herself who said, “judge me on my record on education” – well if we do that it shall have to be a Fail. It was the First Minister who said, “I have a sacred responsibility to make sure every young person gets the same chance to succeed” – yet restricted subject choice and funding cuts mean this too would be marked Fail.

I have written in this column before that Nicola Sturgeon’s only hope of the SNP remaining the largest party after the next Holyrood elections is if she can divide the country for or against independence, preferably through holding an unwanted referendum, so that supporters of independence stay with her party. The strategy for competence has been abandoned, not intentionally, but simply because the government is indeed incompetent.

We see this not just in education but in other areas too. Despite having been given more funding for healthcare than ever before by Westminster (essentially the English taxpayer) the NHS is beyond breaking point with Accident & Emergency or Children’s wards closing and being relocated further away from patients.

British free enterprise delivered the Forth Bridge in the 19th Century, the British state delivered the Forth Road Bridge in the 20th Century, but the Scottish government has still not completed the Queensferry Crossing even though it rushed to open it before it was truly finished. Our roads meanwhile have more craters than the moon and let’s not even start on the trains.

The SNP government has avoided necessary reforms if they might upset vested interests who might vote for independence and has persevered with policies that take focus away from ensuring our children can read, write and count. People can see what is happening and it is through their own incompetence that voters will finally reject the SNP.

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Now that many south of the Border are objecting to BBC bias, matters may come to a head, says Lesley Riddoch

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782826.1534146796!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The BBC's failure to report on local pro indy marches across Scotland hsa not just infuriated Yes voters. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The BBC has had a rather bad August.

It started with a row over the YouTube channel run by Scottish independence blogger Wings Over Scotland which was closed down by YouTube after BBC Scotland complaints about breaches of copyright. After a storm of protest Aunty withdrew the objections prompting YouTube to reinstate the channel.

Interviewed on Radio Scotland, BBC Scotland’s head of public policy, Ian Small explained the BBC felt forced to act when a Labour blogger cited Wings and another pro independence site whilst defending the presence of BBC material posted on his own site. But this revelation only served to demonstrate that BBC Scotland treated the two possible cases of copyright breach very differently.

The Labour politician enjoyed five days of “constructive discussion” with the BBC whilst Stuart Campbell and Peter Curran were simply shut down without notice.

All of which has simply exacerbated long-running feelings of discontent amongst independence supporters about bias at Pacific Quay.

Meanwhile, a perfect storm was brewing along slightly different lines south of the Border over Radio 4’s news flagship, the Today programme.

READ MORE: BBC to review YouTube policy following Wings Over Scotland row

Presenter John Humphreys described Boris Johnson’s controversial burka remarks as “typically colourful language” and concluded; “Boris is Boris.”

Co-presenter Nick Robinson asked: ‘Isn’t there a danger that if we police every word, we play into the hands of extremists?’

Maybe that’s a valid question – but it follows weeks where the BBC has given hours of airtime to a forensic analysis of everything Jeremy Corbyn has ever said about Israel. Fair? Proportionate? Balanced?

The same day, official figures showed the Today programme’s lost more than 800,000 listeners this year. The BBC said a “quieter news agenda” was partly to blame. But lecturer and author Tom Mills says it may be because “liberals and leftists have finally given up on the programme”. Just as they (and Scottish independence supporters) have largely given up on another BBC flagship – Question Time. Since it’s off air for the summer recess, the Today programme has suddenly become the biggest target for unhappy English Labour voters – finally sharing the disenchantment with Aunty felt north of the Border since 2012.

One Twitter exchange said it all: “I used to listen to the Today programme every morning but BBC News has become unprofessional, superficial and derivative. It has given up reporting in favour of propaganda and I can’t listen to it any more.”

“I’m afraid I recognised that decades ago. I suspect it depends on your class and station. As a working class Scot BBC bias has been evident through my entire life (now 53). It’s taken much longer to be noticed by middle class, southern England – for whom Radio 4 largely exists.”

But whoever got there first, last week saw BBC critics unite online.

Anger over hounding Jeremy Corbyn whilst gently joshing with Boris Johnson combined with dissatisfaction over the non-coverage of independence rallies across Scotland this summer to produce #BBCswitchoff – a twitter hashtag which trended worldwide on Thursday night.

Some BBC weekend news programmes discussed the phenomenon – including Radio Scotland’s consistently probing weekend GMS. But Aunty generally did what it excels at doing – shutting up shop and hoping this latest storm will blow over. Maybe it will.

READ MORE: In pictures: Hundreds protest in Glasgow against ‘BBC bias’

But problems slowly gathering for decades are now crying out for discussion and remedy. The biggest is balance – the BBC’s sacred duty. In the old days when Westminster was the only parliament, Labour and Tory the only possible parties of UK government, party politics the main unit of democratic organisation and the great and good the only authorities that mattered, the system just about worked. But though that old, rigid, London-centric consensus has gone, archaic BBC ideas of “balance” have survived.

Not my opinion but that of Gavin Esler – a BBC reporter and presenter for around 20 years. He says: “In the post-Trump, post-Brexit information world, the pillar of journalistic ‘balance’ has cracked. Consider this dilemma. When Donald Trump tells us he never made a statement we have all just heard him make, is it necessary to ‘balance’ [this reality] with a Trump loyalist telling us the president employs ‘alternative facts’? The ‘crisis in our democracy’ comes because maintaining quaint ideas of ‘balance’ in a world filled with ‘systematic disinformation’ is an existential threat.”

North of the Border, BBC Scotland has struggled to accept that independence isn’t a “phase,” a single issue where balance matters only during an active referendum campaign. It’s the new most important faultline in Scottish politics and it is “led” not just by party politicians but by bloggers and locally organised groups all over Scotland.

That’s why the BBC’s failure to report on local pro indy marches across Scotland, organised by All Under One Banner rather the SNP has not just infuriated Yes voters – it’s been inevitable given Aunty’s rigid understanding of “balance” and who gets to make news. BBC Scotland still refuses to think about who is allowed to “warn” of catastrophes, who is therefore forced to “respond” and what that does to the credibility of each side.

Now that English Corbyn supporters are complaining about the same BBC bias towards existing power structures (from which only crazy radicals would deviate), things may be coming to a head. BBC journalists are also unhappy – subject to hostility online yet forbidden from correcting even factual mistakes for fear of escalating Twitter wars.

In these circumstances, it’s a terrible shame the BBC lost an excellent broadcaster this week whose popularity with all “sides” has been nothing short of amazing. Over a decade, the talented Scot Eddie Mair and his team on Radio 4’s PM programme perfected the knack of transforming the dry facts and figures of news into fascinating and insightful human stories. The confidence they demonstrated in placing long personal interviews at the top of the programme was breath-taking – yet faced with evasive political figures Eddie was utterly incisive and compelling without being gratuitously rude.

Eddie Mair is due to start broadcasting again in September on LBC – which is good news for listeners. But the BBC cannot afford to lose such skilled and inquisitive presenters, when its capacity to reflect the genuine diversity of these islands is being questioned constantly on all sides.

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The march of progress has been stopped in its tracks by political dogma and prejudice, writes Euan McColm.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782643.1534020401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 07, 2018 Britain's then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street in London.'Britain's Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said on August 7, 2018 he had asked former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to apologise for disparaging comments he made about Muslim women wearing burqas. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVASDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

The economist John Maynard Keynes is often quoted as responding to a challenge over a shifted position by saying, “When the facts change, I change my mind.” There is some debate over whether Keynes ever actually uttered those words – or a variation of them – but regardless of their provenance, they contain a simple wisdom.

No matter how strongly we might hold a belief, when presented with evidence that it is wrong, we must be prepared to change our minds. Otherwise, how can we progress? Scientific discovery would cease, self-examination would become redundant, conmen would have countless barrels of fish to pop off.

In this, the new age of the ideologue, open minds seem more scarce than ever. Across the political spectrum, dogmatism is the in-thing; to give ground, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that one is wrong, is unthinkable.

The Labour Party is controlled entirely by ideologues. Leader Jeremy Corbyn and those closest to him, whether elected members, special advisers, or party officials, have remained true to beliefs cemented in their teens.

Their belief in the efficacy of far-left politics is absolute. Some of those closest to the Leader of the Opposition are communists. As ideologies go, communism is one of the strictest, don’t you think?

The Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis is an inevitable result of the leader’s ideology. If your lifelong position has been that the “imperialist West” is a force for bad, there is a danger that among your fellow travellers will be some who hold extreme views.

Such entanglements have brought Corbyn to where he now stands, leader of a Labour Party that has lost the trust of most of British Jewry.

So rigid is Corbyn’s belief system that he has always been blind to the flaws of those he considers allies. In many instances he has embraced anti-Semites, prizing their opposition to the West over anything else.

Prime Minister Theresa May is not, I think, a rigid ideologue. The Conservative Party, however, is being run by right-wing dogmatists. The pro-Brexit members of her parliamentary group hold sway. The PM has no option but to deliver an outcome that she doesn’t believe in but that is the only thing that matters to these colleagues.

Last week, former foreign secretary and current unspeakable charlatan Boris Johnson wrote a newspaper column in which he stated that women wearing the burqa looked like letterboxes or bank robbers. It was a horrible example of Johnson thoughtlessly punching down.

Regardless of whether Johnson’s words were a deliberate dog whistle to the far right or simply an example of a populist newspaper columnist trying, ineptly, to pep up his latest piece without considering the consequences, the reaction among those who share his pro-Brexit position has been informative.

The Prime Minister and the Conservative Party chairman may both have condemned Johnson’s language (only the latest, let’s not forget, in a line of nasty Johnsonian remarks that includes that time he wrote about “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles”) but from Brexiteers there is nothing but support.

The real story here, they insist, is that Johnson is standing up for free-speech. And, anyway, he was defending the right to wear the burqa, so who’s the bad guy here?

The free speech argument, whether cynically deployed or not, is compelling. Our own rights in this regard depend on the rights of others to say things we might find offensive.

But there is also a fairly compelling case that Islamophobia infects the Tory right. If one’s political life has been dominated by the beliefs of an isolationist nature, it’s likely that among one’s comrades will be those whose views are unpalatable.

Labour’s anti-Semitism and the Conservatives’ Islamophobia are the twin consequences of ideologues taking control.

The rise of the ideologue has collided with a new tribalism among voters. Referendums on both Scottish independence and membership of the European Union have created deep divisions among voters. Politicians may talk of people coming together but not one of them believes that to be happening.

This tribalism means supporters of both Labour and the Conservatives devote much of their time to devising ever more contorted explanations for why their preferred politician isn’t a raging anti-Semite or Islamophobe (or an all forms of racism racist).

They organise “twitterstorms” where they agree to switch off the BBC or demand the resignation of this traitor or that heretic, and they grow ever more certain of their righteousness.

Last week a former challenger for the position of deputy leader of the SNP won a court’s backing for his assertion that his pro-independence position should be regarded as a “philosophical belief” and duly protected in law.

Councillor Christopher McEleny hasn’t done much for those in his party who wish us to believe that theirs is a peculiarly civic nationalism. Rather, he stands now as an example of the nationalist who believes in independence at any cost, the nationalist who’d live in a cave to be free.

Those who truly believe in Corbyn or Brexit do so with all of the passion with which McEleny believes in Scottish independence. Their faith cannot be shaken by facts. If anything, any challenge to their beliefs sees them doubling down. Political campaigners begin to identify as persecuted minorities.

Ideologues and their devoted followers excuse themselves from difficult debate. Their “computer says no” rigidity means there’s rarely room for nuance and never space to believe a political opponent might be acting in good faith.

We’re trapped in a political stand-off between tribes whose faith is unshakeable. The prospect of progress lies wounded in the corner.

Someone – perhaps John Maynard Keynes – once said that when the facts changed, he changed his mind.

These days, politics is dominated by people who, when the facts change, prefer find a new explanation for why those facts are wrong.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782643.1534020401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782643.1534020401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 07, 2018 Britain's then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street in London.'Britain's Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said on August 7, 2018 he had asked former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to apologise for disparaging comments he made about Muslim women wearing burqas. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVASDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "(FILES) In this file photo taken on March 07, 2018 Britain's then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street in London.'Britain's Conservative Party Chairman Brandon Lewis said on August 7, 2018 he had asked former foreign secretary Boris Johnson to apologise for disparaging comments he made about Muslim women wearing burqas. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVASDANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782643.1534020401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782523.1534020404!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782523.1534020404!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Johnson has ridiculed the burqa in the name of free speech, according to his supporters. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Johnson has ridiculed the burqa in the name of free speech, according to his supporters. Picture: Dan Kitwood/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782523.1534020404!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/john-mclellan-tory-turncoat-ashley-graczyk-must-resign-1-4782121","id":"1.4782121","articleHeadline": "John McLellan: Tory turncoat Ashley Graczyk must resign","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533963600000 ,"articleLead": "

John McLellan is dismayed by a Conservative defector to the cause of independence, Ashley Graczyk, and the former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson’s recent remarks about the burka.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782120.1533910897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "All smiles: John McLellan, left, celebrates with Ashley Graczyk and Ruth Davidson after the former two were elected as Conservative councillors (Picture: Neil Hanna)"} ,"articleBody": "

It goes without saying that as a Conservative councillor I don’t support the break-up of the UK, and those Craigentinny/Duddingston voters who gave me their first preference at last year’s election knew exactly what they were endorsing. Similarly, those who endorsed SNP candidates knew they were advancing the cause of independence.

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work, but that assumption has been challenged this week by the decision of my former Conservative group colleague Ashley Graczyk to embrace Nationalism; in so doing she has turned her back on the 1,600 people in Sighthill/Gorgie who gave their first preference to a candidate whose campaign literature said “We don’t want a second referendum” above a picture of her with Ruth Davidson.

Across the city, those people who opposed independence but didn’t support the Conservatives had the choice of voting for the Labour or Lib Dem candidates, but they voted for the candidate they thought best placed to oppose the SNP and as a result the Conservatives won the highest number of first preferences.

Although it was a council election, there was no doubt the national picture was at the forefront of voters’ minds, while local concerns for people likely to vote Tory centred on initiatives closely associated with the Labour-SNP administration like the tram project and the blanket 20mph speed limit. First-time candidates like Ashley and I should have been under no illusion people would be voting for the party, not individuals.

READ MORE: Ashley Graczyk: Why I quit as Tory councillor and now back independence

The basis of the system relies on the candidates knowing exactly what they are representing. What they can’t do is within a matter of months say it’s all been a big mistake, that they didn’t really understand what they were representing, but then hang on to the seat and the allowance.

Councillor Graczyk hasn’t quite been able to make the full leap to membership of the SNP, and although her conversion to Nationalism hasn’t quite been Damascean, as recently as April she was posting pictures of herself on social media with a Union Flag.

Three SNP Edinburgh councillors have also left their parties, one following allegations of misconduct and the other two because of in-fighting, and while I still believe all three should have resigned, none have renounced the banner of independence under which they were elected.

Ashley was elected as a representative of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist party by people who believed in the Union and change in the council. She no longer represents us and the only way to find out if the views of those electors of Sighthill/Gorgie who backed her have altered is to ask them. If she really believes in representative democracy she should resign and fight a by-election.

Bojo the publicity seeker strikes again

Someone whose loyalty to the Conservative cause has never been in any doubt is Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw, fighting campaign after campaign throughout the years when the Scottish party was at its lowest ebb.

For him, whatever may be going on behind the scenes public unity is an absolute, so I can only guess at how angry he was to use social media to condemn Boris Johnson over his Daily Telegraph burka column. “Just to be clear this is not a debate about the prevalence of the burka”, he tweeted. “It is about the casual, typically sensationalist and gratuitously offensive rhetoric deployed by Boris Johnson. It has caused real offence to many of my constituents. Bluntly, I’m fed up with him. Enough.”

He was on relatively safe ground, given both Theresa May and Ruth Davidson had called on Johnson to apologise, and he now faces a formal party investigation. The problem was not the point of the article, which argued against a ban “because it is inevitably construed – rightly or wrongly – as being intended to make some point about Islam”, but his description of Muslim women looking like letter boxes or bank robbers.

His critics would doubtless agree with the conclusion that “if you go for a total ban, you play into the hands of those who want to politicise and dramatise the so-called clash of civilisations”. Indeed, Ruth Davidson’s comparison with banning crucifixes is echoed in the article, pointing out that prohibition of veils would “risk a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation.”

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: Boris the Cad pales in Lord Carrington’s noble shadow

Having duly fanned the flames of grievance, he predicted “you risk turning people into martyrs”, but Johnson is no martyr. Quite the opposite. Having made what was for him a low-key resignation speech and Westminster now becalmed in recess, he has successfully grabbed the headlines without actually calling for anything, and what might otherwise have been a 24-hour story could go on for days.

The greater the outrage, the greater the publicity which in turn feeds the outrage and mounts pressure on an increasingly compromised inquiry. The party is hanged if it doesn’t punish him and hanged if it does, while Johnson carries on regardless. If it had been a genuine misjudgement in which his eagerness to entertain went too far, then it would have simple to issue an immediate retraction. He didn’t.

Maybe he will issue an “if I’ve caused offence” apology today, just in time to catch the Sunday papers and political shows in sleepy August, or maybe we all have to wait until the next instalment in Monday’s Telegraph. But he’ll have had a week’s worth of publicity, appealed to a sizeable chunk of the electorate who won’t even have read the article, and been paid about £5,000 for the piece into the bargain.

Just a couple of stinging similes and bingo, everyone is talking about old Bojo again. Shameless isn’t in it.

No US trip for council deputation

Another withdrawal up at Edinburgh City Chambers, not a councillor, but the offer from the council’s IT supplier CGI to fly a group of five officials and councillors to the US and Canada to demonstrate how well they operate after mounting complaints about their performance here. Why the change of heart? Surely it can’t be because an anonymous councillor snitched to the Evening News? Or perhaps CGI realised a clean bill of health from the delegation could lead to accusations, however unfounded, of buying off criticism while the opposite would mean the company had met the cost of a kicking.

No hold-ups on affordable housing
Getting on with the day job... After the Prime Minister and First Minister formally signed off the £1.3bn Edinburgh Region City Deal this week, attention now switches to delivery. So much has been promised about the positive impact the investment will have that public expectation needs careful management, but there should be no hold-up with Edinburgh’s affordable house-building programme now the council has ownership of large tracts of land in Granton and approved the management process to create 4,000 new homes.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "John McLellan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782120.1533910897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782120.1533910897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "All smiles: John McLellan, left, celebrates with Ashley Graczyk and Ruth Davidson after the former two were elected as Conservative councillors (Picture: Neil Hanna)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "All smiles: John McLellan, left, celebrates with Ashley Graczyk and Ruth Davidson after the former two were elected as Conservative councillors (Picture: Neil Hanna)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782120.1533910897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-snp-austerity-could-kill-independence-dream-1-4782305","id":"1.4782305","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: ‘SNP austerity’ could kill independence dream","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533963600000 ,"articleLead": "

The SNP has long complained of “Tory austerity”, imposed on Scotland by a heartless UK Government. But, increasingly, the rallying cry of other parties has been “SNP austerity”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4771752.1533923647!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs accused Nicola Sturgeon of being the 'Beeching of the NHS'"} ,"articleBody": "

Now Miles Briggs, the Conservative Shadow Health Secretary, has accused Nicola Sturgeon of being the “Beeching of the NHS” because of cuts to health services in rural areas, which he compared to the infamous closures of many a rail line and station in the 1960s.

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: The case for the NHS in a nutshell

While some may accuse Briggs of dressing up in left-wing clothes to attack the SNP, it is an astute strategy.

If the dream of Scandinavian-style wealth and social equality dies in the minds of Scots, how many will take the gamble of independence? Support for the SNP may fade.

So Sturgeon needs to find a way to make sure the NHS provides an acceptable level of service that the country can actually afford – both for the sake of her own party’s ambitions and for everyone in Scotland.

And that, as The Scotsman has said before, may involve some tough decisions on issues like free prescriptions.

READ MORE: NHS at 70: Can the ‘free’ healthcare model survive?

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4771752.1533923647!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4771752.1533923647!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs accused Nicola Sturgeon of being the 'Beeching of the NHS'","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shadow Health Secretary Miles Briggs accused Nicola Sturgeon of being the 'Beeching of the NHS'","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4771752.1533923647!/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/ex-scottish-labour-leader-jim-murphy-launches-scathing-attack-on-jeremy-corbyn-1-4782079","id":"1.4782079","articleHeadline": "Ex-Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy launches scathing attack on Jeremy Corbyn","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533919037000 ,"articleLead": "

A former Scottish Labour MP has launched a scathing attack on his party’s leadership, claiming Jeremy Corbyn and his team are “intellectually arrogant, emotionally inept and politically maladroit”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782078.1533919035!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jim Murphy campaigning ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. He has criticised the UK Labour party leaderaship as 'emotionally inept'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson"} ,"articleBody": "

Jim Murphy, who led the party in Scotland from 2014-15, made the damning remarks in a full-page advert in the pages of the Jewish Telegraph.

The dramatic intervention follows weeks of accusations that Mr Corbyn has failed to tackle anti-Semitic elements within his party.

Mr Murphy, who represented East Renfrewshire until 2015, the constituency with the largest Jewish population in Scotland, said he “could no longer remain passive while the current Labour leadership does so much damage to Labour’s relationship with British Jewery”.

He claimed the party had appeared to have “deliberately turned its back” on Jews living in the UK.

He continued: “When in a hole of its own making, rather than stopping digging, Labour’s leadership has asked for a bigger shovel.

“British Labour’s top-team has shown itself to be intellectually arrogant, emotionally inept and politically maladroit.

“There’s no other way to explain why Labour has sustained a row with Jews about the best way to challenge the racism that Jews face.”

READ MORE: Jeremy Corbyn says sorry for hurt caused to Jewish people

Mr Corbyn on Monday apologised for the hurt caused to Jews by anti-Semitism in Labour following stark warnings about the risk the row posed to the future of the party.

The Labour leader acknowledged there was an issue with anti-Semitism in the party and said people who denied that were “contributing to the problem”.

His comments came after deputy leader Tom Watson warned the party faces being lost in a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it addresses the concerns of the Jewish community.

But Mr Murphy went further, claiming there was “a small but growing minority of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists” among the party membership and that Mr Corbyn was not doing enough to stamp them out.

“Jeremy is the elected leader and, along with the shadow cabinet, has the opportunity to shape party policy,” he said. “But no party leader has the right to shatter the relationship with British Labour and British Jewery.”

Mr Murphy held several cabinet positions under the premiership of both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

A prominent campaigner for a No vote in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, he became leader of the party north of the Border shortly after.

But his career as leader was marred by Labour’s disastrous performance in Scotland at the 2015 UK General Election, which saw the party lose all but one of the 41 seats it was defending - including his own.

Jackson Carlaw, who represents the East Renfrewshire constituency of Eastwood at the Scottish Parliament, said: “This is an unprecedented, powerful and thundering indictment of Corbyn by Jim Murphy. Sadly East Renfrewshire Labour and their elected members are outliers in this maelstrom of anti-Semitism.”

READ MORE: Labour denies Jeremy Corbyn compared Israel to Nazis

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4782078.1533919035!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4782078.1533919035!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jim Murphy campaigning ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. He has criticised the UK Labour party leaderaship as 'emotionally inept'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jim Murphy campaigning ahead of the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. He has criticised the UK Labour party leaderaship as 'emotionally inept'. Picture: Phil Wilkinson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4782078.1533919035!/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/former-snp-minister-calls-for-less-marching-more-listening-1-4782038","id":"1.4782038","articleHeadline": "Former SNP minister calls for ‘less marching, more listening’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533908149000 ,"articleLead": "

Independence campaigners should do “less marching and more listening”, according to former SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779033.1533905594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish independence supporters during a rally at Glasgow Green. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

His comments follow a series of pro-independence events across Scotland including an annual march in Glasgow earlier this year which saw a record number of supporters take to the streets.

Many want to see the First Minister press ahead with a second referendum on leaving the UK when she provides an update on her position in the autumn.

However, Mr MacAskill called for supporters to be patient, warning that a lack of clarity over Brexit and the unlikelihood of permission being granted by UK ministers mean another vote will not be immediate.

Nicola Sturgeon has previously urged SNP members to concentrate on winning the case for leaving the UK rather than the timing of any ballot.

Writing in The Herald newspaper, Mr MacAskill said caution from the First Minister was wise, but he added that “real leadership” was needed to gain support for her position.

Read more: SNP MSP calls in police after vile letter is sent to constituency office

“Just because you’re marching doesn’t mean that you’re any closer to a referendum, let alone to winning it,” he said.

“And that’s where Nicola Sturgeon needs to show real leadership.”

The former MSP added: “She’s waiting for the chance and will take it when it comes.

“There needs to be less marching and more engagement on the doorsteps; listening to people, not telling them what you want them to think.

“So far, the party has been remiss in campaigning and providing direction, which is why others have filled the void with marches and other activities.

“Leadership needs to be shown shown with party HQ building the organisation from the base up not being seen as the First Minister’s fan club.”

An SNP spokesman said: “The base of support for independence has never been as consistently high as it is now - and we agree with Kenny MacAskill about the need to work hard to persuade even more people across the country of the benefits of an independent Scotland.

“Support for independence is likely to rise further as the reality of the Theresa May’s shambolic Brexit plans becomes clearer and in the face of an arrogant Tory government which thinks it can do whatever it wants to Scotland and get away with it.”

Read more: SNP MSP quits Twitter after ‘attacks’ from Old Firm fans

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Lynsey Bews"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4779033.1533905594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779033.1533905594!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish independence supporters during a rally at Glasgow Green. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish independence supporters during a rally at Glasgow Green. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4779033.1533905594!/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/tory-councillor-apologises-for-sharing-muslim-women-as-patio-umbrellas-post-1-4781945","id":"1.4781945","articleHeadline": "Tory councillor apologises for sharing ‘Muslim women as patio umbrellas’ post","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533898193000 ,"articleLead": "

A Scottish Conservative councillor has apologised for sharing an image comparing Muslim women to patio umbrellas.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4772276.1533898190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Muslim Council of Scotland have called on Ruth Davidson to take action and root out Islamophobia within her party. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Aberdeenshire councillor and deputy provost Ron McKail is reported to have shared an image of three folded black patio umbrellas on Facebook.

The post from 2016 included the text: “I spent half an hour talking to them, wanting to learn about their culture until the bartender cut me off and told me they were patio umbrellas.”

The apology came amid a wider row in the party over comments made by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson on burkas.

Mr Johnson has refused to apologise for comments comparing women wearing face-covering veils to bank robbers and letter boxes despite condemnation from senior Tory figures including Scottish party leader Ruth Davidson.

Mr McKail has previously said sorry for sharing social media posts from the far-right group Britain First.

He told the Daily Record newspaper the patio umbrella image was part of the same group of posts, adding: “I have apologised for sharing that and made clear I thought I was sharing material in support of British troops.”

Mr McKail, who represents the Westhill and District ward, added that he did not agree with Mr Johnson’s comments.

Read more: Ashley Graczyk: Why I quit as Tory councillor and now back independence

A spokesman for the SNP said: “This is typical hypocrisy from Ruth Davidson - she’s outraged about Islamophobia when it suits her but turns a blind eye when it’s in her own party.

“The Tories need to get their house in order - vile Islamophobic and bigoted views are rife within their party, to the point where they think someone with these views is an acceptable choice to be deputy provost in Aberdeenshire.

“The Muslim Council of Scotland have called on Ruth Davidson to take action and root out Islamophobia within her party - a call that has fallen on deaf ears.

“Perhaps Ruth Davidson should concentrate on removing the deeply-ingrained racism and Islamophobia on her own patch before trying to occupy any moral high ground on the back of comments by her party colleagues south of the border.”

Read more: Letters: Johnson’s burka ‘gaffe’ bid to stir up anti-Muslim hysteria

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Catriona Webster"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4772276.1533898190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4772276.1533898190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Muslim Council of Scotland have called on Ruth Davidson to take action and root out Islamophobia within her party. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Muslim Council of Scotland have called on Ruth Davidson to take action and root out Islamophobia within her party. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4772276.1533898190!/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/ex-tory-s-move-to-snp-is-massive-embarrassment-for-ruth-davidson-1-4781457","id":"1.4781457","articleHeadline": "Ex-Tory’s move to SNP is ‘massive embarrassment’ for Ruth Davidson","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533888185000 ,"articleLead": "

An SNP MP has described a former Conservative councillor’s decision to back Scottish independence as a “massive embarrassment” for Ruth Davidson and her Party.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4763629.1533888181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ashley Graczyk celebrates her win with Ruth Davidson in the 2017 election."} ,"articleBody": "

Ex-Tory cllr Ashley Graczyk announced she is set to the take the unlikely step of joining the SNP, in a move that will bolster the party’s depleted ranks on the city council.

She also condemned the Conservative Party policies and said the “increasingly safe and sensible choice” is for Scotland to leave the UK but remain in the “heart of Europe”.

READ MORE: Ex-Tory councillor says Scottish independence is safe and sensible

SNP MP for Edinburgh South West, Joanna Cherry described cllr Graczyk’s move as a “massive embarrassment” for Ruth Davidson and the Tories.

Ms Cherry said: “[The move] is yet another signal that more and more people are ready reject a Brexit UK in favour of an independent Scotland.

“As more and more examples of Tory cruelty emerge – whether it is on welfare, disabilities, migration or anything else – more people will reconsider the benefits of independence, as Councillor Graczyk has done.”

She went on: “Ashley Graczyk is right to raise these concerns. The Tory record of welfare cuts is causing staggering hardship for communities across Edinburgh and the rest of Scotland – they need to wake up to the damage their policies are causing.”

Ms Cherry continued: “This kind of choice is no surprise given how chaotic a future under continued Westminster rule will be – and as we get ever closer to a disastrous No Deal Brexit, more and more people will be asking themselves the same questions as Ashley Graczyk.”

READ MORE: Union Jack flag-waving councillor to join SNP weeks after leaving Tories

The Evening News understands a verbal agreement had been made for the Sighthill/Gorgie councillor to join the party just months after leaving the Tories in protest at their “treatment of the disabled”.

The move may feel like a measure of revenge to the SNP leadership who have lost their position as the largest party on the city council to the Conservatives after three of its members quit. The SNP remains in power due to its coalition with Labour, but bragging rights and the ability to push its policies through in the face of opposition are at stake.

City council leader Adam McVey said Cllr Graczyk had not joined the SNP but would not comment on whether discussions had taken place.

Cllr Graczyk, who is deaf, said she would continue to serve her constituents as an independent councillor but did not respond to questions about talks with the SNP.

READ MORE: Ashley Graczyk: Why I quit as Tory councillor and now back independence

She said: “I could not get over the UK government’s treatment of disabled people. Over the last year I have been increasingly convinced the UK government does not and cannot deliver policies in keeping with Scotland’s values. The political journey I have been on has led me to the conclusion that Scotland needs independence to allow us to build the kind of society we aspire to. “I will continue to serve my constituents as an independent councillor, fighting for their best interest, and I look forward to working with the council’s administration and others across the city to take forward our progressive vision for Edinburgh.” The move will infuriate Conservative voters in Sighthill/Gorgie who elected her at last year’s local elections.

Cllr McVey said: “Ashley has contributed a lot to the city in the last year. I appreciate the journey she has been on from voting No to supporting Yes is one mirrored by many people across Edinburgh witnessing the impacts of the UK government’s policies. “I’m looking forward to working closely together on key priorities to take the city forward in the coming months.” Cllr Graczyk was said to be “on the brink” of defecting to Labour before she quit the Tories, but returned to the Conservative fold after an intervention by Lord McInnes, the party’s Scottish director.

One SNP insider was dismissive about the decision of the local party leadership to welcome Cllr Graczyk into the fold. “They’re obviously desperate. It was only a few months ago that she was swanning around with a Union Jack mug and wearing a Union Jack headscarf,” said the source. “They would obviously take Theresa May if she came knocking.”

Cllr Jason Rust, chairman of the Edinburgh Conservatives group, said: “If local politicians flit around, it’s not something that sits well with people locally and a move to the SNP would be a complete betrayal of those who voted for her to support Ruth Davidson in rejecting a second independence referendum. “It’s time for the SNP to come clean about discussions.”

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4763629.1533888181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4763629.1533888181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ashley Graczyk celebrates her win with Ruth Davidson in the 2017 election.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ashley Graczyk celebrates her win with Ruth Davidson in the 2017 election.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4763629.1533888181!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5633275275001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/ashley-graczyk-why-i-quit-as-tory-councillor-and-now-back-independence-1-4781415","id":"1.4781415","articleHeadline": "Ashley Graczyk: Why I quit as Tory councillor and now back independence","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533823323000 ,"articleLead": "

Over a period of a year as a Scottish Conservative councillor, there were three things that had radically transformed my political views about Scottish independence from No to Yes.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4781414.1533823321!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ashley Graczyk celebrates with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson after being elected as a Tory councillor (Picture: Neil Hanna)"} ,"articleBody": "

The first is the impact of Conservative policies on people and communities. As a new Edinburgh councillor, I saw with my own eyes the impact the Conservative policies, especially those relating to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and welfare, had on the local people and communities.

I have lost count of the amount of times I have met with various disabled people and those in difficulties who have been immensely impacted by the DWP at local level. I, personally, have seen people reduced to tears because of Universal Credit, PIP (Personal Independence Payment), Access to Work and the Access to Elected Office Fund (UK).

I also speak, from personal experience, that the Access to Work application and assessment process is far too bureaucratic, obstructive and is no longer fit for purpose. Quite frankly, it is a horrible process and many charities have the same concerns.

The final straw was when I received an email from a team member of the Government Equalities Office in response to my open letter to the Minister for Women and Equalities. I had shared my delight in the Access to Elected Office Fund (UK) being reinstated for a year and urged the Minster to make it permanent. I also shared briefly how grateful I was for the support I received from the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) and the positive impact it had on my campaign.

The UK Government acknowledged there were certain barriers, but they also stated that the Access to Elected Office (UK) was being wound up and that the political parties were expected to have ultimate responsibility to meet extra costs for disabled candidates. I’m concerned the UK Government wants to shift the responsibility for costly, unreasonable adjustments to political parties, like they do to employers with Access to Work and, like some employers, some political parties would not have a sustainable budget to meet the costly support needed.

READ MORE: Union Jack flag-waving councillor to join SNP weeks after leaving Tories

This would put a cap on disabled people’s ambitions to get into public and political life and certain types of work from anywhere in the UK.

The second reason is the UK Government itself. In June 2017, I witnessed a snap General Election with an unlevel playing field and a clear disadvantage for disabled candidates, thanks to the UK Government’s decision to not release the Access to Elected Office Fund (UK). I witnessed disabled people throughout the UK who would have loved to but were unable to stand as MP candidates, including Scottish candidates, as they could not afford the support needed thanks to the Access to Elected Office Fund UK being reserved (had it been devolved, it is likely the Scottish candidates would have had received funding from the Scottish Government).

Some of the political parties did not have the sustainable budget to provide, nor had the time to fundraise for a snap election. Those that did manage had to pay extra on top of the campaign itself. This example made me wonder if the same could potentially happen to the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland) if the Scottish Conservatives ever got elected into the Scottish Government. All this demonstrates what life is like for disabled people under the current UK Government.

It also made me wonder, what kind of society do I want to live in – a society under a selfish Government that looks for any excuse to not support disabled or vulnerable people and favours the rich? Or a society where together, we can work for the removal of barriers to people’s economic, social, and civic inclusion, and to promote our rights, choices and voices, as full and equal citizens?

I decided to resign from the Conservative party because I refused to give up our right to participate in work, politics and in society on an equal, level playing field under the current UK Government that wants to remove or alter policies that puts a cap on our ambitions.

The third reason is my belief in self-governance.

Along with all the other City of Edinburgh councillors, we have the privilege to govern the Capital city of Scotland, and in my first year as a councillor I saw with my own eyes how we run our city via the council. We also received some insight into the various roles MSPs and MPs have due to working cross-government on various issues.

READ MORE: ‘We’ve got a food bank’: Theresa May heckled at Edinburgh Fringe

Over time, it became more glaringly obvious to me the absurdity of reserved matters being dealt with by Westminster and not by the Scottish Government (bear in mind I voted No in the 2014 independence referendum), as Scotland is capable of governing on reserved matters too. I became more convinced that Scotland needs political independence to build a different and better Scotland.

I have been brought up with the UK as my country, and all my life I had seen the whole of the UK as my homeland. I don’t want to see new borders as I’m about finding new and practical ways to break down barriers and unite people as central to one of my progressive values.

But I came to the realisation that to preserve and protect the values we have in Scotland, we cannot have policies imposed on us from Westminster that jar with the kind of Scotland we are trying to build.

So simply, we need independence. Scotland’s traditional liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights need to be protected. It was a question of which values were more important for me to serve in my ward, after all I campaigned under the vision of ‘Communities that Work for Everyone’ and I believe the Conservatives and UK Government cannot deliver that aspiration.

What I personally struggled to come to terms with, was that for Scotland to get political independence we need to break up my homeland. We need to break up the old Union which does not work with devolution and work together as a new ‘Union of Independent Nations’, as equals cooperating with our UK neighbours on an equal footing while the Scottish people control their own destiny.

I believe it is time for Scotland to have political independence, to self-govern with the full freedom to build and shape Scotland’s future with our own hands – to make it the kind of country we want it to be and the kind of Government we want to have (one with a caring heart!).

Yes, I freely admit we need to find new and practical solutions such as, the kind of currency we will have, the kind of central bank, and so on, but we can work, discuss, debate and share ideas together to find these solutions and turn the vision of an independent Scotland into reality. Heck, if we can invent televisions, telephones, penicillin and insulin – to name a few – surely, we can create ways to self-govern our country? Didn’t these inventions all start with a vision from those could imagine a different future?

The increasingly safe and sensible choice seems to be for Scotland to stay at the heart of Europe, independent and in control of our own destiny. It is time to embrace Yes with full confidence in our future.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ashley Graczyk"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4781414.1533823321!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4781414.1533823321!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ashley Graczyk celebrates with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson after being elected as a Tory councillor (Picture: Neil Hanna)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ashley Graczyk celebrates with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson after being elected as a Tory councillor (Picture: Neil Hanna)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4781414.1533823321!/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/union-jack-flag-waving-councillor-to-join-snp-weeks-after-leaving-tories-1-4781002","id":"1.4781002","articleHeadline": "Union Jack flag-waving councillor to join SNP weeks after leaving Tories","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533820628000 ,"articleLead": "

She used to drink from a Union Jack mug and wear a headscarf emblazoned with the union flag when she was first elected to the City Chambers.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4781001.1533798014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ashely Graczyk pictured alongside ''Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

But just weeks after quitting the Conservatives councillor Ashley Graczyk is set to take the unlikely step of joining the SNP in a move that will bolster the party’s depleted ranks on the city council.

The Evening News understands a verbal agreement had been made for the Sighthill/Gorgie councillor to join the party just months after leaving the Tories in protest at their “treatment of the disabled”.

READ MORE: Ex-Tory councillor says Scottish independence is safe and sensible

The move may feel like a measure of revenge to the SNP leadership who have lost their position as the largest party on the city council to the Conservatives after three of its members quit. The SNP remains in power due to its coalition with Labour, but bragging rights and the ability to push its policies through in the face of opposition are at stake.

READ MORE: ‘We’ve got a food bank’: Theresa May heckled at Edinburgh Fringe

City council leader Adam McVey said Cllr Graczyk had not joined the SNP but would not comment on whether discussions had taken place.

Cllr Graczyk, who is deaf, said she would continue to serve her constituents as an independent councillor but did not respond to questions about talks with the SNP.

She said: “I could not get over the UK government’s treatment of disabled people. Over the last year I have been increasingly convinced the UK government does not and cannot deliver policies in keeping with Scotland’s values. The political journey I have been on has led me to the conclusion that Scotland needs independence to allow us to build the kind of society we aspire to.

“I will continue to serve my constituents as an independent councillor, fighting for their best interest, and I look forward to working with the council’s administration and others across the city to take forward our progressive vision for Edinburgh.”

The move will infuriate Conservative voters in Sighthill/Gorgie who elected her at last year’s local elections.

Cllr McVey said: “Ashley has contributed a lot to the city in the last year. I appreciate the journey she has been on from voting No to supporting Yes is one mirrored by many people across Edinburgh witnessing the impacts of the UK government’s policies.

“I’m looking forward to working closely together on key priorities to take the city forward in the coming months.”

Cllr Graczyk was said to be “on the brink” of defecting to Labour before she quit the Tories, but returned to the Conservative fold after an intervention by Lord McInnes, the party’s Scottish director.

One SNP insider was dismissive about the decision of the local party leadership to welcome Cllr Graczyk into the fold. “They’re obviously desperate. It was only a few months ago that she was swanning around with a Union Jack mug and wearing a Union Jack headscarf,” said the source. “They would obviously take Theresa May if she came knocking.”

Cllr Jason Rust, chairman of the Edinburgh Conservatives group, said: “If local politicians flit around, it’s not something that sits well with people locally and a move to the SNP would be a complete betrayal of those who voted for her to support Ruth Davidson in rejecting a second independence referendum. “It’s time for the SNP to come clean about discussions.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4781001.1533798014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4781001.1533798014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ashely Graczyk pictured alongside ''Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ashely Graczyk pictured alongside ''Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4781001.1533798014!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5802476545001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/ex-tory-councillor-says-scottish-independence-is-safe-and-sensible-1-4781259","id":"1.4781259","articleHeadline": "Ex-Tory councillor says Scottish independence is safe and sensible","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533819727000 ,"articleLead": "

Councillor Ashley Graczyk has revealed what led her to leave the Conservative party and support Scottish independence.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4781258.1533814043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Tory councillor Ashley Graczyk is in talks to join the SNP."} ,"articleBody": "

Cllr Graczyk’s move comes just months after leaving the Tories in protest at their “treatment of the disabled”.

The unlikely step will bolster the party’s depleted ranks on the city council and the Edinburgh Evening News understands a verbal agreement had been made for the Sighthill/Gorgie councillor to join the SNP.

In a letter posted to her Twitter account, Cllr Graczyk outlines a number of reasons as to why her political views have radically transformed, one of which being the “impact of Conservative policies on people and communities.”

She wrote: “I have lost count the amount of times I have met with various disabled people and those in difficulties who have been immensely impacted by the DWP at local level.

“I, personally, have seen people reduced to tears because of Universal Credit, PIP, Access to Work and the Access to Elected Office Fund (UK).”

Cllr Graczyk also cited her belief in self-governance as to why she’s joining the city’s Nationalists ranks.

She said: “Along with all the other City of Edinburgh Councillors, we have the privilege to govern the Capital City of Scotland, and in my first year as a Councillor I saw with my own eyes how we run our City via the Council.”

“We also received some insight into the various roles MSPs and MPs have due to working cross-government on various issues. Over time, it became more glaringly obvious to me the absurdity of reserved matters being dealt with by Westminster and not by the Scottish Government (bear in mind I voted NO), as Scotland is capable of governing on reserved matters too. I became more convinced that Scotland needs political independence to build a different and better Scotland.”

READ MORE: Union Jack flag-waving councillor to join SNP weeks after leaving Tories

She added:” I have been brought up with the UK as my country and all my life I had seen the whole of the UK as my homeland. I don’t want to see new borders as I’m about finding new and practical ways to break down barriers and unite people as central to one of my progressive values.

“But I came to the realisation that to preserve and protect the values we have in Scotland we cannot have policies imposed on us from Westminster that jar with the kind of Scotland we are trying to build.

“So simply, we need independence. Scotland’s traditional liberal values of freedom, tolerance, equality, and individual rights need to be protected.”

She concluded: “The increasingly safe and sensible choice seems to be for Scotland to stay at the heart of Europe, independent and in control of our own destiny. It is time to embrace Yes with full confidence in our future.”

Cllr Graczyk, who is deaf, said she would continue to serve her constituents as an independent councillor but did not respond to questions about talks with the SNP.

The move will infuriate Conservative voters in Sighthill/Gorgie who elected her at last year’s local elections.

Cllr McVey said: “Ashley has contributed a lot to the city in the last year. I appreciate the journey she has been on from voting No to supporting Yes is one mirrored by many people across Edinburgh witnessing the impacts of the UK government’s policies.

“I’m looking forward to working closely together on key priorities to take the city forward in the coming months.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted her support to cllr Graczyk.

She posted: “@ashleyannotate was elected in 2017 as a @ScotTories councillor. However, her experiences as a councillor - especially seeing the impact of welfare cuts on her constituents - led her to leave the Tories and support independence.”

READ MORE: ‘We’ve got a food bank’: Theresa May heckled at Edinburgh Fringe

Join our Facebook group Our Edinburgh to share images and news from and around the Capital

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4781258.1533814043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4781258.1533814043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former Tory councillor Ashley Graczyk is in talks to join the SNP.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former Tory councillor Ashley Graczyk is in talks to join the SNP.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4781258.1533814043!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5802065688001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-independence-could-lead-to-whisky-tax-and-income-tax-rises-1-4780961","id":"1.4780961","articleHeadline": "Scottish independence could lead to ‘whisky tax and income tax rises’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533808509000 ,"articleLead": "

 A whisky tax should be introduced in an independent Scotland, according to a new paper warning that income tax rises would also be needed to tackle austerity.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780960.1533806270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The whisky industry has warned that any additional tax in an independent Scotland would threaten jobs and investment. Picture: Neil Hanna"} ,"articleBody": "

An analysis of the SNP’s indep­endence blueprint also suggests reducing Scottish university degrees from their traditional four-year term to save money, cutting defence spending and introducing a fee for basic health care.

The critique of Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission was conducted by the economist John McLaren of the Scottish Trends website.

Professor McLaren also said the Growth Commission ignored the impact that rising health needs would have on unprotected budgets. He calculated that unprotected budgets would have to be cut by 15 per cent in order to meet the demand for health care.

In order to avoid the “austerity” he claimed would result from Mr Wilson’s blueprint, Professor McLaren made a series of recommendations. Among them were a whisky tax, which he said could prove attractive because manufacturers would not be able to move production elsewhere if they still wanted to call it Scotch. Last night his suggestion was resisted by the whisky industry, which said it would threaten jobs and investment.

Professor McLaren criticised the Growth Commission for a lack of transparency over the implications of spending restrictions. He said there was “no analysis” of the negative implications of breaking up the UK free trade area and a lack of clarity over Scotland’s debt position.

He also said there was an over- optimistic approach to start- up costs and the assignment of UK assets. Professor McLaren said: “It is difficult to see how another decade of austerity, involving real terms cuts in around the half budget, can be achieved. As a result, upfront savings need to be made rather than relying on an extended period of change which simply delays and prolongs the necessary fiscal adjustment.”

Keith Brown, depute leader of the SNP, said: “The Sustainable Growth Commission’s report has given us all hope for an alternative to the Tory chaos over Brexit, and has sparked positive discussions about how we can grow our economy, end austerity and build a fairer society as an independent country.

“The SNP approach will be to continue to reject austerity, and our focus will be to grow the economy and invest in Scotland’s future.”

A Scotch Whisky Association spokesman said: “Any additional tax, either on whisky or on tourism, would threaten jobs and investment.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780960.1533806270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780960.1533806270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The whisky industry has warned that any additional tax in an independent Scotland would threaten jobs and investment. Picture: Neil Hanna","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The whisky industry has warned that any additional tax in an independent Scotland would threaten jobs and investment. Picture: Neil Hanna","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780960.1533806270!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5772554747001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/tom-peterkin-brexit-set-to-delay-scottish-independence-referendum-1-4780903","id":"1.4780903","articleHeadline": "Tom Peterkin: Brexit set to delay Scottish independence referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533807132000 ,"articleLead": "

With so much uncertainty surrounding the Brexit deal, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is having to be cautious about calling a second independence referendum, writes Tom Peterkin.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780901.1533745222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many SNP supporters will be dismayed by what they will see as Nicola Sturgeon's timidity on the Indyref2 question (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

When Nicola Sturgeon was asked if she agreed with Professor Sir John Curtice’s forecast that she was unlikely to call Indyref2 in the next five years, her answer was both waspish and mildly amusing.

“Professor John Curtice is a very talented man who I have the greatest of respect for,” the First Minister said, “but to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t live inside my head. Although he may quibble with that, I don’t know.”

I’m no fortune teller myself, but I’m pretty sure that if the doyen of political soothsaying was asked if he had taken up residence in the First Ministerial cranium the answer would be no.

Nevertheless, Professor Curtice’s predictions are always worth taking heed of, based as they are on impeccable sources and an unrivalled political nous. Therefore there has been much interest in what the Strathclyde University psephologist had to say earlier this week.

He argued that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and how to manage it would be the Scottish Government’s priority, a state of affairs that would kick a second independence referendum into the long grass.

Ms Sturgeon may have given a rather dismissive answer when asked about Professor Curtice’s remarks, but her own comments do little to discourage the notion that Indyref2 is being eased towards the back burner.

In fact, for readers of the runes, Ms Sturgeon has dropped plenty of heavy hints that her plans for Indyref2 are to be delayed because of Brexit’s uncertain state.

The most recent was when she spoke to journalists after meeting with Theresa May at Edinburgh University. It was there that she took her perfunctory approach to the question about Professor Curtice. But her other remarks were telling.

Having promised to update the nation on her Indyref2 plans in October, she indicated that there was likely to be a delay to that particular timetable.

The reason was that her original plan was to make a decision on whether to pursue the referendum option when the terms of the Brexit deal were clearer.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon unsure about IndyRef2 plan after Theresa May meeting

With that deadline fast-approaching, there is little sign of the fog clearing and Ms Sturgeon admitted she didn’t know what she would say about a second referendum in October. “Presumably when we get to October, I’ll give an update. What the content of that update is, by definition, I don’t know right now,” she said.

In fairness to the First Minister, she has always made it clear that her October pronouncement on Indyref2 was contingent on having an idea of what shape any Brexit deal will take.

Ms Sturgeon clearly now feels that come October there will not have been enough clearing up of the confusion over the UK’s departure from the EU.

And at this rate, her pledge to come up with a “precise timetable” for a second referendum is falling rapidly by the wayside.

Ms Sturgeon claimed she had received very little in the way of reassurance from Mrs May that the terms of the Brexit deal would be any clearer in two months’ time.

Those comments chimed with her message to the grassroots at the SNP conference in June when she appealed for patience and urged them to stop obsession about the “when” of independence and concentrate on the “why”.

Clearly the First Minister is trying to manage the expectations of her followers, large numbers of whom will be dismayed at what they will see as timidity on the independence question.

Then, of course, there is the other side of the constitutional equation – those for whom the thought of another referendum holds little appeal. Bitter experience tells Ms Sturgeon that her decision to tie another push for an independence referendum to the Brexit vote cost her half a million votes in last year’s snap election. No wonder the First Minister appears to be taking a cautious approach this time around.

READ MORE: Editor responsible for ‘The Vow’ now backs Scottish independence

And then there is the question of whether Mrs May would even countenance a section 30 order – the mechanism by which Westminster transfers the power to hold a referendum to Holyrood.

When asked about this after her meeting with Ms Sturgeon, the Prime Minister’s reply was characteristically Maybotic. Having accused the Scottish Government of “sowing the seeds of division” on Brexit, the well-rehearsed phraseology made yet another appearance.

“The Scottish people voted in 2014,” Mrs May said. “They had a referendum. They gave a clear decision. They wanted Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom ...”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Professor Curtice had a far more helpful insight into the challenges faced by Ms Sturgeon from a UK Government standpoint.

He argued there was “no way” the Scottish Government could secure a section 30 order, because Mrs May’s administration is being propped up by the Democratic Unionist Party – the most passionate Unionists of them all.

Furthermore, there still does not appear to be a surge in support for Scottish independence.

Ms Sturgeon must have little appetite to agitate for a referendum that she has no guarantee of winning.

Given that Ms Sturgeon herself doesn’t yet know what she is going to say, it doesn’t look as if much light is going to be shed on Indyref2 plans in October unless things change dramatically Brexitwise.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom Peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780901.1533745222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780901.1533745222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many SNP supporters will be dismayed by what they will see as Nicola Sturgeon's timidity on the Indyref2 question (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many SNP supporters will be dismayed by what they will see as Nicola Sturgeon's timidity on the Indyref2 question (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780901.1533745222!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780902.1533745228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780902.1533745228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon may disappoint nationalists in favour of a swift independence referendum (Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon may disappoint nationalists in favour of a swift independence referendum (Picture: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780902.1533745228!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/alex-salmond-reveals-why-he-has-ditched-edinburgh-fringe-show-1-4780915","id":"1.4780915","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond reveals why he has ditched Edinburgh Fringe show","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533749552000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Salmond has explained why he has ditched his plans to appear at this year’s Edinburgh festival fringe saying there wasn’t enough time to prepare a new show.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780914.1533745219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former First Minister Alex Salmond will not be returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

In April the former First Minister said he planned to bring his Alex Salmond Unleashed show back to Edinburgh after making his debut last year.

Mr Salmond’s show was unveiled at last year’s fringe amid a blaze of publicity. The performance took the form of a chat show and the guests included the then Brexit Secretary David Davis, the comedian John Bishop and the independence supporting actress Elaine C. Smith.

The show hit the headlines when Mr Salmond was accused of making a sexist joke. The First Minister said: “I promised you today we’d either have Theresa May, or Nicola Sturgeon, or Ruth Davidson, or Melania Trump, but I couldn’t make any of these wonderful women come.”

READ MORE: Alex Salmond denies he is plotting political comeback

There was then a drum roll and Mr Salmond quipped: “To the show”.

Since then Mr Salmond has been widely criticised for broadcasting The Alex Salmond Show, on RT, the Kremlin backed television station formerly known as Russia Today.

In April, Mr Salmond said: “I can confirm that we are planning to bring a new show to the Fringe in August.”

Yesterday he explained his absence from the world’s largest arts festival saying: “Since we only completed the tour of last year’s Show at the end of this April, we weren’t able to prepare the new production in time for this year’s Fringe. However, we fully intend to be back in Edinburgh next year with a very different style of production. The Unleashed tour finally ran to 30 shows from Gala to Inverness, played to over 10,000 in audiences and raised £36,000 for charities and good causes in Scotland and internationally. This success was greatly helped by the four stars awarded by The Scotsman reviewer Kate Copstick.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780914.1533745219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780914.1533745219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Former First Minister Alex Salmond will not be returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Former First Minister Alex Salmond will not be returning to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780914.1533745219!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5752726847001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/nicola-sturgeon-unsure-about-indyref2-plan-after-theresa-may-meeting-1-4780241","id":"1.4780241","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon unsure about IndyRef2 plan after Theresa May meeting","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533716900000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has admitted that she doesn’t know what she will say about IndyRef2 when she updates the country about her Brexit plans in the autumn.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780353.1533716897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrive for the signing the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal at the University of Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

The First Minister has promised that she will make an announcement on her position on a second independence referendum in October.

Ms Sturgeon set the timetable, which corresponds with the SNP autumn conference, when she reset her indyref plans following her party’s loss of seats in last year’s snap General Election.

The timing of the announcement was contingent on the notion that the shape of the Brexit deal would have become clear by then.

READ MORE: Theresa May hails £1.2bn city deal as ‘exciting step towards brighter future’

But after meeting Theresa May in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said she had made next to no progress in finding out how the deal would work and was increasingly anxious about a no deal scenario.

Ms Sturgeon said there was still “an awful long distance” between the UK and the EU and expressed doubts that a deal could be done by October.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon ‘will kick IndyRef2 into the long grass’

“Presumably when we get to October I will give an update (on a second independence referendum). What the content of that update is, by definition, I don’t know right now,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“The Prime Minister said today she is planning to be in a position where there will be a detailed statement on the future relationship by October. I leave everybody around the table to draw their own conclusions on how we get from here to there, given the state of things just now but that’s what she has just told me.”

Earlier Ms Sturgeon said her discussions with Mrs May did not result in “a whole lot of information” that she didn’t have previously.

“My concern about the prospect and the increasing prospect of a no deal Brexit certainly wasn’t allayed in that meeting.

“We discussed the progress around the Chequers agreement. The Prime Minister thinks Chequers is the basis of an agreement about the future relationship – not withstanding that everybody else thinks that it is not.

“My most fundamental concern was seeing how much distance there still is between the UK and the EU on the Northern Irish back-stop, which is of course an essential component of the withdrawal agreement and without a withdrawal agreement in October we are facing no deal. So it seems to me an awful long distance between the two sides on that issue.”

Ms Sturgeon said she asked the Prime Minister directly what her Plan B was if there was no withdrawal agreement by October.

“There is no clear sense of that there is simply an insistence that situation won’t arise,” the First Minister said.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780353.1533716897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780353.1533716897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrive for the signing the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal at the University of Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (L) and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrive for the signing the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal at the University of Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780353.1533716897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780239.1533667263!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780239.1533667263!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with Theresa May in Edinburgh today. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with Theresa May in Edinburgh today. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780239.1533667263!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5803004865001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/theresa-may-urges-nicola-sturgeon-to-not-sow-politics-of-divison-1-4780254","id":"1.4780254","articleHeadline": "Theresa May urges Nicola Sturgeon to not ‘sow politics of divison’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533670502000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May challenged the Scottish Government to get behind her Brexit proposals, instead of trying to “sow the politics of division”.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780252.1533670601!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May has called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to back her Brexit deal. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister insisted all parts of the United Kingdom should support the Chequers deal, agreed by the cabinet on Britain’s departure from the European Union.

She spoke out after holding talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - with the SNP leader saying afterwards the discussions had failed to ease her concerns that Britain could be forced to quit the EU without a formal agreement.

Liam Fox, the UK Government’s International Trade Secretary, recently put the chances of this happening as 60-40 - blaming European “intransigence” for the situation.

Ms Sturgeon said afterwards: “My concern about the increasing prospect of a no deal Brexit certainly wasn’t allayed in that meeting.

“We discussed obviously the position around the Chequers agreement. The Prime Minister’s position continues to be that she thinks Chequers is the basis of an agreement on the future relationship, notwithstanding that everybody else thinks that it’s not.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon still to decide on IndyRef2 plan after meeting Theresa May

Mrs May, however, insisted her government was “working to get a good deal for the whole of the United Kingdom,” in Brexit talks with Europe.

The Prime Minister stated: “We set out a clear proposal in the Chequers plan, that delivers on the Brexit vote, that does so while protecting jobs and livelihoods in the UK, that ensure we deliver on free movement in the future, the ending of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, but that we are able to do so while maintaining good trading relationships with the European Union, that’s important for all parts of the UK.

“We’re now sitting down and discussing those proposals with the European Union and we’re negotiating as a United Kingdom.”

The Scottish Government has repeatedly called for the UK to remain in both the European single market and the customs union after leaving the EU.

Tensions between the two administrations have also become more frayed after the Scottish Government refused to back the European Withdrawal Bill, instead passing its own Brexit contigency legislation - with the Supreme Court currently considering a Westminster challenge to this.

Mrs May was clear she wanted all parts of the UK to support the Chequers deal that her cabinet had agreed on.

“I think it is incumbent on all parts of the United Kingdom to be supporting the proposals that we’re putting forward in their interaction with Brussels,” she said.

“I think it important we see those proposals being supported, rather than sadly what I fear we see here which is an attempt to sow the politics of division.

“We’re working to get a good deal, we’ve put forward a proposal that delivers on the Brexit vote, that protects jobs and livelihoods here in the UK, that will be good for all parts of the United Kingdom, that ensures we have that clear good trading relationship in the future with the European Union, and that delivers on other issues people want.”

READ MORE: Theresa May hails £1.2bn city deal as ‘exciting step towards brighter future’

Asked if she would accept any request from the Scottish Government to hold a second independence referendum, Mrs May said the focus should be on delivering for the UK.

The Prime Minister said: “The Scottish people voted in 2014, they had a referendum, they gave a clear decision they wanted Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

“I believe what we should be doing now is working and getting on with the job of delivering on the future of the United Kingdom, that’s about Brexit, it is about getting a good Brexit deal, it is about all the other issues like the industrial strategy, like the city deals.

“What I want to see is the Scottish Government also putting forward their support for proposals we have put forward to the European Union that will deliver on the vote, but would also deliver for Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

She spoke after formally signing the £1.3 billion city deal for Edinburgh and the south east of Scotland with the First Minister.

Mrs May described that agreement, which brings together the two governments, councils, universities and business as being an “exciting step towards a brighter future” for the area.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "KATRINE BUSSEY"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4780252.1533670601!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4780252.1533670601!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May has called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to back her Brexit deal. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May has called on First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to back her Brexit deal. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4780252.1533670601!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1496158247544"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/nicola-sturgeon-will-kick-indyref2-into-the-long-grass-1-4779861","id":"1.4779861","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon ‘will kick IndyRef2 into the long grass’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533660593000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon is unlikely to call a second referendum on Scottish independence in the next five years, the country’s leading polling expert has predicted.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779172.1533642780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make a statement on her IndyRef2 plans in the autumn. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Sir John Curtice said the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and how to manage it would remain the Scottish Government’s priority, with another constitutional vote being “kicked into the long grass”.

The First Minister is expected to deliver an update in the autumn on her party’s plans for an IndyRef2.

“Firstly, there currently is not a majority in favour of independence,” Sir John told The Scotsman. “Nicola Sturgeon had originally conceded that a second referendum on independence would take place when the Brexit process became clear - but the Brexit process is unlikely to become clear until at least January.”

READ MORE: John Curtice: Indyref2 strategy ‘based on false presumption’

Sir John added there was a second hurdle to overcome at Westminster, as there was “no way” the Scottish Government could secure a Section 30 agreement - which gives Holyrood the power to legislate for a referendum - from the UK Government at the present time, as the DUP in the House of Commons would be likely to veto it.

He continued: “If Nicola Sturgeon’s principal objective is to remain first minister it is not clear why she would take the risk of holding a referendum that is at serious risk of being lost.”

Ms Sturgeon was last month urged to put the national interest ahead of the SNP’s drive for independence and support a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.

The plea was made by Labour MP Ian Murray in a letter to the First Minister in which he argues that her support could be pivotal when it comes to securing a People’s Vote.

Murray, a prominent Remainer and member of Scottish Labour for the Single Market, said there was now a “very real risk” of a “no-deal” Brexit, an outcome that would have “catastrophic consequences”.

A spokesman for the First Minister said at the time it was not the SNP who were standing in the way of a second EU referendum, and that Mr Murray’s time “would be better spent persuading his own Labour colleagues to back him”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4779172.1533642780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779172.1533642780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make a statement on her IndyRef2 plans in the autumn. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon is expected to make a statement on her IndyRef2 plans in the autumn. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4779172.1533642780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5734512594001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/brexit-nicola-sturgeon-urges-theresa-may-to-set-out-plan-b-1-4779674","id":"1.4779674","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon urges Theresa May to set out ‘Plan B’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533627680000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May will be urged to set out a “Plan B” for Brexit during crunch talks with Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh today amid growing fears that the UK will leave the EU without a deal.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779673.1533620089!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May (left) meets with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh."} ,"articleBody": "

The Prime Minister has said ahead of the meeting that the Brexit aftermath can lead to the spread of “economic prosperity across the country.”

But it comes as a stark survey of businesses north of the Border warns of a negative economic impact of life outside the EU for Scotland with “uncertainty in the UK government’s negotiating position” criticised.

The leaders meet with relations between Westminster and Holyrood at an all-time low as both governments are locked in an unprecedented constitutional battle at the UK Supreme Court over claims of a power grab on the Scottish Parliament.

Mrs May will sign off £600 million of city deal funding for Edinburgh as she visits the capital and agree millions more in further investment north of the Border.

The trip will be dominated by ongoing concerns over Brexit, though, with Ms Sturgeon poised to step up the pressure on the Prime Minister as negotiations in Brussels show little sign of breakthrough with just seven months until the UK’s departure.

UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox warned at the weekend the prospect of a “no deal” Brexit now looks the most likely scenario. It would mean hefty tariffs for firms exporting into Europe and questions over the future of EU nationals living here.

But Mrs May said ahead of today’s visit: “As we leave the EU, the UK Government is working in partnership with business, academia and the devolved administrations to create more good jobs and spread economic prosperity across the country.

“By making the most of our country’s assets and the talents of all of our people, we can build a brighter future for the whole UK.”

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon leads Britain’s most influential woman poll

The UK government has been touting its plans for Brexit agreed at Chequers – including plans for a common rulebook on all goods – to the EU and its leaders. But the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier already appears to have rejected the plan, prompting widespread concern that a “no deal” scenario seems inevitable.

The First Minister will today call on Mrs May to set out a “Plan B” to secure agreement on withdrawal and also lay the groundwork for the UK’s post-Brexit future.

“A no deal Brexit would be utterly unacceptable and deeply damaging, but by talking it up as a negotiating tactic there is a very real danger it becomes a reality,” Ms Sturgeon said ahead of the meeting.

“With the Chequers proposals falling flat, even if a withdrawal agreement can be secured, there is a very real risk that we end up with a blind Brexit – which will see the UK step off the cliff edge next March without knowing what landing place will be.

“That would do as much harm to jobs, investment and the economy as a no deal Brexit and would leave the country directionless through the transition period.

“Given this lack of clarity and real concerns of no agreement, it is time the Prime Minister told us what her Plan B is. We cannot have no deal and we cannot have a blind Brexit.

“The whole of the UK deserves answers from the Prime Minister and we cannot continue without a back up plan.”

A new survey of 350 firms north of the border conducted out by the respect Fraser of Allander Institute think tank paints an increasingly gloomy picture of the post-Brexit economic landscape in Scotland.

Only 6 per cent said the Brexit decision had a positive impact on their business, with 44 per cent saying it had been damaging. It also found three-quarters of firms said they had not received enough information about leaving the European Union to allow them to plan for the different possible outcomes of Brexit – with 59 per cent blaming “uncertainty in the UK’s government’s objectives” in the negotiations as the key factor in this.

An agreed settlement still remains the probable result of the ongoing Brexit talks, a spokesman for the Prime Minister said yesterday, but there is a risk negotiations may fail.

“We continue to believe that a deal is the most likely outcome, because reaching a good deal is not only in the interests of the UK, it is in the interests of the EU and its 27 members,” he added.

“But the Trade Secretary is right to say there is a risk of the negotiations not succeeding and the government has to prepare for all eventualities.”

The spokesman said the Brexit White Paper published last month following the Cabinet summit at Chequers was recognised by Brussels as “a significant move.”

“Following the publication of the White Paper, we are now in a serious conversation across a broad range of issues with the EU,” he said.

“They recognise that the White Paper represents a significant move by the UK and now they need to respond.”

Former Brexit secretary David Davis has warned that the EU will be making a “massive miscalculation” if it thinks the UK is not ready to walk away from talks without a deal.

“This has great scope for being a massive miscalculation on the part of the EU that could end up with no deal by accident,” Mr Davis said

“It’s certainly not the intention of the EU to have a no-deal Brexit but they are misjudging us at the moment. The UK Parliament does not want no deal but it’s certainly not going to be pushed around by the European Parliament.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond has also privately warned City bankers to seek non-European business in preparation for possible restrictions on access to EU markets, it was reported yesterday.

Ms Sturgeon has already indicated that she plans to a second independence referendum after Brexit once the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU become clear, but that is unlikely to be the focus of today’s talks.

The UK Supreme Court is currently considering an unprecedented constitutional clash between Westminster and Holyrood. It comes after the Scottish Government passed its own post-Brexit legal framework for Scotland, after claiming that the UK’s Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill was a “power grab” on the Scottish Parliament in key areas like agriculture and fishing.

Although a political agreement on that now seems unlikely, Ms Sturgeon 
will call on the Prime Minister to engage in discussions about how to give Scotland a role in future negotiations following a recent House of Commons Public Administration 
and Constitutional Affairs committee report highlighting the lack of proper engagement with devolved governments.

“The UK government has launched a power grab on the Scottish Parliament and now even a House of Commons committee says Whitehall takes little account of the realities of devolution in the UK,” the SNP leader added.

“It cannot carry on like this and the UK government needs to start listening to the views of the people of Scotland.”

Westminster has said it must hold on to some powers being repatriated from the EU for a limited period to protect the integrity of the UK market.

Read more: Brexit could have a ‘disastrous’ impact on Edinburgh International Festival

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4779673.1533620089!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779673.1533620089!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May (left) meets with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May (left) meets with Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House in Edinburgh.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4779673.1533620089!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5745942705001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/residents-ready-to-battle-for-wallace-monument-view-1-4779638","id":"1.4779638","articleHeadline": "Residents ready to battle for Wallace Monument view","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1533618000000 ,"articleLead": "

Residents have hit out at proposals for a major housing development on green belt near the Wallace Monument in Stirling saying new buildings would block views for future generations of the world-famous structure.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779637.1533582819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "You can see William Wallace Monument on top of the hill"} ,"articleBody": "

Proposals for a the 50-acre site on farmland at Craigmill and Powis Mains Steading featuring 165 housing units, including flats and a ‘social village’ directly under the Abbey Craig, home to the monument, have been submitted to Stirling Council.

Paul McDonald, spokesman for residents at nearby Craigmill, between Causewayhead and Blairlogie, said that they had found out ‘by chance’ about the proposed scheme.

“A resident was browsing online last week and found the proposals.

“We wrote to Stirling Council to ask for clarifications on a number of points. The council is already fully aware of significant issues surrounding the area,’ said Mr McDonald.

“We’re doing this primarily out of a sense of history and pride of where we live.

“It’s going to remove a view you’d never get back. Fifty per cent of the view from the Wallace Monument, if not more, is already built on. This is the last remaining section of view out to the Ochils.”

He added: “We spoke to council planners. They said they had outlined reasons to the developer’s agent why the proposals could be difficult.”

The National Wallace Monument, on the Abbey Craig, is a major tourist attraction visited by more than 100,000 people each year.

The 67-metre high sandstone tower marks the 
location of William Wallace’s Scottish forces before the 
Battle of Stirling Bridge in 
September 1297 and overlooks the battlefield. The tower, which holds Wallace’s sword, was completed in 1869 
following a fundraising campaign.

The battle was part of the Scottish Wars of Independence and resulted in victory for Wallace and his men against the English and Edward I.

A spokesman for Stirling Council said: “No application has been submitted in relation to this proposed development.

“Developments of this nature have to go through a formal process which would involve engagement with the local community prior to any application being submitted.

“It would be inappropriate for the council to comment on such an application formally until it had come before the planning and regulations panel.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4779637.1533582819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4779637.1533582819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "You can see William Wallace Monument on top of the hill","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "You can see William Wallace Monument on top of the hill","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4779637.1533582819!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}