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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.png","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.png","alt": "editorial image","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "editorial image","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691748.1519046436!/image/image.png_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.png","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/music/morrissey-jibe-at-nicola-sturgeon-met-with-boos-at-scottish-gig-1-4691127","id":"1.4691127","articleHeadline": "Morrissey jibe at Nicola Sturgeon met with boos at Scottish gig","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518975657000 ,"articleLead": "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CRAIG FORBES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Morrissey was performing at the SSE Hydro. Picture: Contributed","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Morrissey was performing at the SSE Hydro. Picture: Contributed","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691126.1518965646!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/euan-mccolm-hats-in-the-ring-spoil-sturgeon-high-wire-act-1-4691031","id":"1.4691031","articleHeadline": "Euan McColm: Hats in the ring spoil Sturgeon high wire act","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518910461000 ,"articleLead": "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Euan McColm"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "From Nicola Sturgeons point of view, the level-headed Angus Robertson will be a hard act to follow as deputy leader. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691030.1518893702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/julie-hepburn-in-bid-to-replace-angus-robertson-as-snp-deputy-leader-1-4691037","id":"1.4691037","articleHeadline": "Julie Hepburn in bid to replace Angus Robertson as SNP deputy leader","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518908783000 ,"articleLead": "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom peterkin"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Although not an elected politician, Julie Hepburn is well-known in SNP and has worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Although not an elected politician, Julie Hepburn is well-known in SNP and has worked for Deputy First Minister John Swinney.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4691036.1518894468!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/surprise-depute-leader-candidate-urges-snp-to-get-into-training-for-indyref2-1-4690784","id":"1.4690784","articleHeadline": "Surprise Depute Leader candidate urges SNP to ‘get into training for Indyref2’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518871233000 ,"articleLead": "

A surprise new candidate has thrown her name into the hat for the role of SNP depute and has nailed her colours to the mast by calling for internal organisational change to get the party ready for a new independence referendum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4690804.1518871230!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Julie Hepburn has put her name into the hat for the Depute Leader role"} ,"articleBody": "

Julie Hepburn is the second contender to declare and is the first woman to enter either this year’s contest or the one held in 2016.

She also marks the first candidate not to have an elected role as MSP, MP, MEP or councillor.

READ MORE: Indyref2: Pete Wishart says it would be ‘unthinkable’ to lose second independence vote

However, according to reports, the 38-year-old is well known among senior figures in the SNP having been employed previously as a case worker for Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Perth MP Pete Wishart.

And the surprise candidate, who joined the party in 2000, came out with a clear idea that will no doubt appeal to those keen to try and obtain an independence vote as soon as possible.

She urged changes in the party to strive for indpendence and called for the SNP to “get in training” for a possible new vote, but stated that the timing was ultimately up to the First Minister and her Cabinet.

Speaking to the National she said: “It’s important to note that whoever becomes depute leader will not be deciding unilaterally what the strategy is and when the decision will be,” she said.

“Ultimately it is a decision for the First Minister and the Scottish Government. They will draw on a huge range of opinion, including the party membership, the NEC and different folk around the country.

“Whoever is depute leader is not going to change that. I think the most important thing we can do now is listen until at such a point there is a clear opportunity for a new vote and there is demonstration that in the wider population there is demand for one.”

READ MORE: SNP calls for monarchy funding to be slashed

She added: “There is no point in holding a referendum until there is an opportunity to win. We don’t need to be playing the match right now. The match is not on. We need to be doing the preparation and training. We should not be pushing our views, but listening to No voters, or as I like to say, those people who are yet to be persuaded.”

She said: “The depute post has previously been held by parliamentarians. So people have seen it in that way. But in fact there is no reason why it should be.

“It is an internal office bearer role to co-ordinate policy development and that’s what I want to do.

“We have a lot of very high profile, capable people who can stand in for the First Minister in terms of being the public face of the party, going on television and pushing our arguments. What I want to do is push through the internal reforms which are under way. We’ve got an ongoing constitutional review [of party structure]. There was a need for reform before 2014 but obviously after our massive membership surge it became more pressing.

“But after the series of elections this is really the first opportunity the party has had to step back and see what reforms we need.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4690804.1518871230!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4690804.1518871230!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Julie Hepburn has put her name into the hat for the Depute Leader role","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Julie Hepburn has put her name into the hat for the Depute Leader role","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4690804.1518871230!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4690782.1518869193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4690782.1518869193!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Surprise Depute leader contender Julie Hepburn has called for the SNP to get into training for Indyref 2","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Surprise Depute leader contender Julie Hepburn has called for the SNP to get into training for Indyref 2","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4690782.1518869193!/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/opinion/brian-wilson-here-s-how-to-avoid-political-interference-in-the-police-1-4689856","id":"1.4689856","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: Here’s how to avoid political interference in the police","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518760800000 ,"articleLead": "

I try to avoid becoming wise after events so, amid the deluge of “why-oh-why has it all gone wrong?” commentaries on Police Scotland, it is worth recalling that objections to its establishment were well signposted – and totally ignored.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689855.1518725407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The police need to be held accountable at local levels , not by yet another quango. Picture: Rob McDougall"} ,"articleBody": "

The critical point from which all else flows is that the creation of Police Scotland, the removal of local accountability and the appointment of a supine quango were primarily politically driven acts, rather than responses to operational needs.

In the recent words of Colin McKerracher, former Chief Constable of Grampian: “The police didn’t want it. The public had no great appetite for it. So why did it happen? It happened because the SNP Government wanted to brand it ‘Scottish’.”

That omnipresent imperative continues to trump all other considerations for those who view our society through the narrowest of political prisms. Creating nationwide bodies with the suffix “Scotland” attached, just in case anyone was in doubt, has symbolised the drive for political control over every cog in the wheel of national life.

Policing in Scotland formerly rested on a tripod of regional police boards with democratic accountability; Ministerial responsibility at a safe distance from operational matters; and Chief Constables answerable to the Boards for running their forces. By and large, the system worked. Dissatisfaction with the organisational structure of Scottish policing did not rate high on many agendas.

There were operational matters on which closer co-ordination was required, though experienced police officers believe this could have been achieved without creating a single force, particularly when the trade-off extracted was loss of local nuance and accountability, to be replaced by an anonymous Scottish Police Authority (SPA) made up of the usual quango trusties.

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill: Cuts in England show Police Scotland was good idea

My objections (shared only by the Liberal Democrats at Holyrood) were threefold – loss of local accountability as part of the wider pattern of centralisation; the creation of yet another quango as an erosion of local democracy and, crucially, the proximity of Scottish Government ministers to operational policing. In particular, the office of a single Chief Constable would inevitably become more politically charged.

One of many questions which now arise is how many senior officers, with the necessary qualifications, would want the Police Scotland job, in the certain knowledge that they would be walking into a vipers’ nest of political intrigue and constant external attention, as well as the normal demands of policing the country. That legacy will not be resolved with a short-term fix.

Throw in damage to morale, a rush to the retirement exit of experienced officers and the damage done to the public credibility of Scottish policing, and it is clear that the political architects of Police Scotland face a long charge-sheet. Surely it is time for some admission of responsibility and at least partial reversal of the structural damage, instead of ploughing on in the hope that another new appointment will do the trick?

The SPA has been invisible in its supposed role, to “promote continual improvement in policing” and “hold the Chief Constable to account”. On the one known occasion when it sought to exercise its independence, by recommending reinstatement of Chief Constable Phil Gormley, it was promptly put back in its box by the Justice Secretary. This administration does not create quangos for the purpose of losing control.

The new chair of the SPA, Susan Deacon, said this week that she “prefers to look forward and not back” and that she “doesn’t want people playing the blame game” about what has gone before, which are understandable clichés given the history of the organisation. At the same time she complained about scrutiny by MSPs of the Justice Secretary’s involvement in the Gormley case on the grounds that it was “unedifying”.

READ MORE: Kenny MacAskill: Police can’t respond to ‘minor’ crimes

That is where a contradiction arises. A few years ago, MSPs would not have been asking these questions because no Minister would have been interfering in the work of Police Boards across Scotland. It is the political action of establishing Police Scotland and the SPA quango which has created conditions in which political scrutiny of their relationships is the wholly justified corollary and it is naïve to protest otherwise.

Deacon’s problem is that she is presiding over an organisation which has no real right to exist in its current form and has so far done nothing to earn public confidence. That is not her fault but she will not circumvent history or politics by telling those who attempt to scrutinise the whole murky business to back off because efforts to get to the truth of why Scotland’s Chief Constables fall like ninepins are “unedifying”.

Perhaps I can offer her a different approach to sending out the message that the SPA has become independent of government, rather than patsies who are remunerated to rubber-stamp and defend a very bad idea. First, she should listen to people like McKerracher who is calling for the restoration of a degree of local accountability in the structure of Scottish policing.

Instead of resisting that approach, it would be refreshing if the SPA took the lead in advocating it; presumably the organisation is not unaware of the perceptions which surround it. Quangos don’t vote for their own dissolution so I am realistic in my expectations. A division of functions between a national organisation and a small number of regional bodies with elected representation would be both feasible and reassuring.

Then there is the interesting question of British Transport Police and the Nationalists’ drive to break it up in order to make the Scottish element part of Police Scotland. Nobody but nobody with any sense thinks this is a good idea. The Chief Inspector of Constabulary has confirmed that it has no policing rationale and is driven purely by politics. Real issues of public safety are at stake. The envisaged costs of “integration” are escalating into millions which could be used for actual policing.

What better opportunity for a new broom at the SPA to say: “For the next few years, Police Scotland has enough on its plate. We cannot support the break-up of British Transport Police.” That would be interesting but also, I fear, unlikely.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Wilson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4689855.1518725407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689855.1518725407!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The police need to be held accountable at local levels , not by yet another quango. Picture: Rob McDougall","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The police need to be held accountable at local levels , not by yet another quango. Picture: Rob McDougall","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4689855.1518725407!/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/alex-salmond-blasts-shameful-repeal-of-offensive-behaviour-at-football-act-1-4689225","id":"1.4689225","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond blasts ‘shameful’ repeal of Offensive Behaviour at Football Act","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518686461000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Salmond has slammed political opponents who voted to repeal the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689224.1518686458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSPs voted to scrap the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act"} ,"articleBody": "

The controversial act, which was piloted by Salmond in 2011 was scrapped at Holyrood in January through a Member’s Bill.

However Salmond blasted those that voted to repeal accusing them of political point-scoring over principles.

MSPs voted 65-61 to repeal the Act in January in a move that Salmond dubbed ‘shameful’.

READ MORE: Euan McColm: Offensive Behaviour at Football Act was no way to tackle bigots

He said: “It is totally shameful. It is perfectly legitimate to say such legislation could be improved, or changed in certain aspects – that is what happens as legislation beds down.

“To know what’s going on all you have to do is listen to what is being sung during certain televised matches, so why on earth in Scotland in 2018 should we accept sectarian singing in our living rooms, and anybody who does anything which sustains that and allows it to continue should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.”

He accused the opposition at Holyrood from ‘running away’ from the problem of sectarianism in Scotland, and directing much of the blame at Labour saying: “Labour is greatly to blame, and I don’t expect anything from the Tories who have little regard for eliminating sectarianism in Scotland as we have seen from the antics of some of their councillors and candidates.”

“But you would hope that progressive parties would want to eliminate sectarianism and its manifestations as surely as they should want to eliminate sexism and racism – it is in the same category of evil things, and the only way to defeat it is to confront it, so to run away from that battle is a dreadful thing.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond calls for independence debate as he brands Theresa May ‘incompetent’

“To do it for political purposes is pathetic and the irony is that they won’t get any thanks for it because the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland want to have done with this.

“It is putting a stain on Scotland’s reputation as a country in order to give a bloody nose to the SNP – what could be more pathetic than that?”

The repeal Bill moved on to further consideration at committee level following the vote in January, before a final vote of all MSPs takes place.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4689224.1518686458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689224.1518686458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "MSPs voted to scrap the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSPs voted to scrap the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4689224.1518686458!/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/indyref2-pete-wishart-says-it-would-be-unthinkable-to-lose-second-independence-vote-1-4689182","id":"1.4689182","articleHeadline": "Indyref2: Pete Wishart says it would be ‘unthinkable’ to lose second independence vote","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518680899000 ,"articleLead": "

Pete Wishart has urged Nicola Sturgeon not to hold a second independence vote until at least 2021 unless she is certain a vote in the next few years would provide a victory.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689180.1518680890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Wishart SNP MP wrote about the timeline for independence in his column"} ,"articleBody": "

Writing in his column in the National today, titled ‘Why we need to be like Wallace in Braveheart’ the SNP MP wrote: “It would be unthinkable to lose another indyref and almost reckless to proceed without good evidence it could be won.”

The suggestion from Wishart follows on from suggestions made by MSP James Dornan that a new vote should be held as early as next year.

However, Wishart, who could be a possible contender in the forthcoming contest for depute party leader, said that he would be against an earlier vote unless there was evidence that a Yes vote would win.

He justified the 2021 timeframe as he felt that the negative economic impact of Brexit would not be clear to voters in Scotland until after the EU/UK transition period ends, at the end of 2020.

Following Brexit, it is his opinion that support for Scottish independence would rise.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond calls for independence debate as he brands Theresa May ‘incompetent’

He said: “In this Parliament we do have a mandate to hold another referendum and if we begin to see evidence that the time is right it should be deployed,” he wrote.

“But we only should hold a referendum when we are certain of winning and not hold one just because we can.

“If the optimum conditions are assessed to be found on the other side of a Scottish election then we should properly prepare and ensure that a mandate is once again forcefully renewed, undisputed and incontrovertible.

“I actually believe that it would be impossible to win a referendum if we can’t secure a mandate to hold one.

“Then there are events. It is not beyond possibility that the UK Brexit project will totally implode in chaos and the ‘optimum’ time comes into play sooner rather than later.

He added: “We should obviously grab that opportunity and quickly put in place a referendum. But with this scenario we’re literally talking about months and is therefore something we cannot properly plan for and would be largely out of our control.”

READ MORE: Poll: Support for Scottish independence at 32%

“Scottish independence is now one of the most discussed issues in our nation. Before the last referendum independence was pretty much an abstract idea that most people hadn’t properly considered, now, most of our fellow Scots have pretty strong views on the subject. Offering the same prospectus, with the same arguments, is likely to produce the same result.”

He also urged SNP and pro-independence supporters to work together and to convince previous No voters that independence was the right option for Scotland saying: “Scotland will secure its independence and we are so tantalisingly close, but we have work to do in convincing our fellow Scots who voted No last time to join us as well as uniting all Scots from both sides of the EU referendum.

“Setting a roadmap and plan is essential in getting us there as is striking at the optimum time for success.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4689180.1518680890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689180.1518680890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Peter Wishart SNP MP wrote about the timeline for independence in his column","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Peter Wishart SNP MP wrote about the timeline for independence in his column","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4689180.1518680890!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4689181.1518680897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4689181.1518680897!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP joins the newly elected SNP MPs for a photo-call with a background of the Forth Bridge at South Queensferry,","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP joins the newly elected SNP MPs for a photo-call with a background of the Forth Bridge at South Queensferry,","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4689181.1518680897!/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/roddy-gow-obe-brexit-is-making-this-government-blind-to-an-emerging-raft-of-global-problems-1-4688179","id":"1.4688179","articleHeadline": "Roddy Gow OBE: Brexit is making this government blind to an emerging raft of global problems","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518612000000 ,"articleLead": "

Whatever the expectations of this year’s World Economic Forum, probably the greatest ­outcomes were that Donald Trump’s “sales pitch” for his America First ­policy stayed on script.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688178.1518611995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Roddy Gow OBE, Chairman, The Asia Scotland Institute"} ,"articleBody": "

The media focus on him obscured the other very significant speeches by Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, French president Emmanuel Macron and Jack Ma of Chinese ­conglomerate Alibaba.

Much of our interconnected world continues to grow and meet the ­challenges of globalisation with which US nationalism seems out of step. Despite the rhetoric, ­however, we may be seeing a shift in ­positions.

The US admits that we must work together to combat terrorism, a restructured Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) of 11 countries has the US rethinking its position on that, and there is a realisation that by the US ceding global leadership, China will fill a void and expand its ­influence through the Belt and Road ­initiative, that literally and figuratively ­connects it to many parts of the globe.

What does all this mean for how we connect with Asia? Is the UK ­really focusing on engaging in key areas and using its influence to the full?

Are we reaching out to attract ­students and young professionals to the UK and Scotland, where our universities and reputation for excellence in higher education should be offering great opportunities for learning and relevant skills?

On 26 January, the initial Scottish seminar of the British Foreign Policy Group (BFPG), sponsored by ­Edinburgh University and the Asia Scotland Institute, was held in the McEwan Hall, entitled Global ­Heritage, Global Ambitions: Scotland’s International Relations.

READ MORE: Markets 2018: Home or Overseas – Where to from here?

Two panels of senior figures from across the UK assessed global ­challenges against a background of Scotland’s role in UK foreign policy and the importance of listening to people’s concerns and perspectives.

In the context of a post-Davos Asia and engaging with youth, there were a few points to ponder.

The Westminster Government’s preoccupation with Brexit has resulted in our failure to engage on other critical geopolitical issues. We do not seem to have the bandwidth to lead on Myanmar, Syria, refugees and working out how to deal with the US administration.

The UK and Scotland also face ­enormous demographic challenges with populations that are both ageing and shrinking. Immigration far from being perceived and represented as an existential threat is an essential ingredient in maintaining our ­service and health sectors. Cutting off the source of qualified immigrants from Europe and Asia is creating the potential for an economic disaster.

Attracting and retaining overseas students by offering post-study visas to remain and work here seemed utterly obvious to everyone at the BFPG event, yet the almost single-minded determination of the Prime Minister to include student ­numbers in her 100,000-immigrant target cap appears to be the main obstacle. It is critical that this policy be changed or our universities and schools will face a funding crisis as Brexit is enacted.

Scotland’s historic connections give it a unique opportunity to engage with Asian and other markets, yet export figures are lower than ­elsewhere in the UK and our largely economy based on small and medium-sized enterprises is slow to engage. In many cases business leaders and owners lack the ambition of their forebears to seek out new markets and boost their prospects through trade.

Young ­people need to feel that they can engage in the political process – the independence referendum saw a great increase in interest. Many elections in recent months have been votes against the establishment and an expression of disillusionment with existing structures. This ­populist movement needs to be addressed and fresh talent brought to our political ranks.

Artificial intelligence and its by-products are with us to stay. We must learn to accommodate them, providing young people with the skills to succeed in a rapidly changing world where robotics will remove some mundane tasks and thinking, through to the consequences for those holding jobs that are likely to be replaced.

These points are all highly important and as the meeting ended there was a realisation that something needs to be done and soon. The mission of the Asia Scotland Institute is to educate and inspire tomorrow’s leaders, while increasing their understanding of Asia and its markets.

This could hardly be more ­relevant and pressing.

Roddy Gow OBE, chairman, the Asia Scotland Institute.

Buy your tickets to the annual Scotsman Investment Breakfast Seminar here

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4688178.1518611995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688178.1518611995!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Roddy Gow OBE, Chairman, The Asia Scotland Institute","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Roddy Gow OBE, Chairman, The Asia Scotland Institute","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4688178.1518611995!/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/alex-salmond-will-answer-questions-about-indyref-2-timeline-on-new-tour-1-4688712","id":"1.4688712","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond will answer questions about ‘Indyref 2 timeline’ on new tour","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518605441000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Salmond has promised to answer questions about the prospect of a second independence referendum “if he is asked” about when indyref2 should take place.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688711.1518605434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond at his fringe show Unleashed."} ,"articleBody": "

The former First Minister will follow up from his show at last year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

His new tour will be held across four locations in Scotland before going to London.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond calls for independence debate as he brands Theresa May ‘incompetent’

The tour will begin in the Caird Hall on Friday, March 2, followed by the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness, on Saturday, March 3.

Salmond will then take the tour to his home town on Linlithgow on Friday, March 9, before going to the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow on Saturday, March 10.

The show run will close with a final date in London the Cadogan Hall on April 22.

The format will be the same as the earlier tour dates which all sold out helping to raise £27,000 for charities.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond is taking his Fringe stage show on a UK tour

The new tour will include guest appearances by Scots comedians Janey Godley and Des Clarke, with legendary Scottish folk singer Sheena Wellington and the show’s in-house band The Carloways all performing.

In the National, Salmond said: “Des Clarke has been a hit with his impersonation of ‘The Donald’ so we are working on new routines which might just be slightly surreal.

“I dare say the Rev Jolly might appear, especially after he got 165,000 views on Facebook around Christmas.

“I am particularly pleased that we are going to the Caird Hall in Dundee which I love and that we are also going to the Highlands for the first time.

“I’m also looking forward to the show in Linlithgow which is obviously very special for me. The last time I performed in the theatre of Linlithgow Academy was 1967 when I sang a rendition of Edelweiss in the scout gang show, but this time I won’t be singing Edelweiss but might just be tempted into singing the Four Marys, the Linlithgow song, with Sheena Wellington.

“I’ve also never done a speech in the Citizens in Glasgow so that will be great fun.”

Each show will also include a special mystery guest whose identity is to be kept secret.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4688711.1518605434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688711.1518605434!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond at his fringe show Unleashed.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond at his fringe show Unleashed.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4688711.1518605434!/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/alex-salmond-calls-for-independence-debate-as-he-brands-theresa-may-incompetent-1-4688689","id":"1.4688689","articleHeadline": "Alex Salmond calls for independence debate as he brands Theresa May ‘incompetent’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518603653000 ,"articleLead": "

Alex Salmond has branded Theresa May as ‘incompetent’ describing her as the ‘worst prime minister’ he knows, and urged for debate about how to ‘get independence in nearest proximity.’

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688687.1518610414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond speaking at the Scottish Independence Convention."} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking to the National about his time away from politics, the former First Minister vowed that he will not be returning to mainstream politics in the immediate future, and that is not tempted to stand for the Deputy Leadership of the SNP.

And it would appear that Mr Salmond is indeed content away from politics as he expressed his joy in his current work, which includes a successful radio show on LBC and a televised show on RT.

Speaking on the Deputy Leader matters he stated that he was not weighing up or who he is backing saying: “I haven’t really said anything about it. It’s not something I have in mind.

“I haven’t released a statement about it as I don’t really regard it as a tenable or realistic proposition.”

“We don’t even know the field yet but I’m sure there will be no shortage of candidates.”

READ MORE: BP boss defends Theresa May over Brexit strategy

He added: “I always liked internal elections as they are good for debating issues. Deputy leadership elections in the SNP have been quite significant, and in living memory the really significant one that I can remember was myself against Jim Fairlie in 1987 which was basically the classic face-off between the fundamentalists and the gradualists.

“It was an epic contest which was resolved in favour of gradualism and myself, so they can be good for debate and a template for party strategy as the party benefitted from having the issues discussed and people getting things out of their systems.

“What motivates people in the SNP is independence so there is nothing more motivating than having a debate about how we are getting there.

“It’s not a debate about whether we have independence or even why, it’s a debate about how to get independence in nearest proximity.”

When asked about the current state of politics in the UK, the former First Minister held nothing back, especially on the current Prime Minister and Brexit negotiations.

He said: “Theresa May is the worst prime minister that I know of.

READ MORE: Theresa May ‘on the brink of a leadership challenge’, reports claim

“She is someone who knows from her own experience and her own background and her own wishes during the EU referendum campaign and also from the professional advice of her civil servants, she absolutely knows that Brexit of any kind, but especially a hard Brexit, is going to be an act of economic self-harm that is going to blight the lives of millions of people.

“It is going to reduce the living standards of people and she knows this to be a reasonably provable fact, yet she is blundering ahead in that aimless, disorganised and haphazard fashion that she has made her own. That is an act of complete abdication of political leadership.

READ MORE: Poll: Half of Scots ‘back an independent Scotland in EU’

“Margaret Thatcher made some really grievous policy errors but I do think she probably believed she was doing the right thing but Theresa May knows she is doing the wrong things and no one can work out why.

“She is both incompetent and wrong-headed.

“As for Jeremy Corbyn, he is guilty of abdication of opposition. In terms of democracy there has to be an alternative government, a choice offered on the key issues of the day and Brexit is that issue.

“He is offering no choice, no substance, a will o’ the wisp policy that no one can get a handle on, because Corbyn knows full well that he is part of a hard Brexit cadre of an old Labour leadership, whereas Labour’s membership and their predominantly younger supporters are keen on staying within a European context.

“He wonders why he can’t get a lead in the opinion polls – well you can’t stay fuzzy on the big issue of the day and expect to beat the Government.

“That might tell the SNP that time is short to provide a different Scottish solution.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4688687.1518610414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688687.1518610414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond speaking at the Scottish Independence Convention.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond speaking at the Scottish Independence Convention.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4688687.1518610414!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4688688.1518610416!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4688688.1518610416!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Alex Salmond has branded Theresa May as incompetent.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Alex Salmond has branded Theresa May as incompetent.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4688688.1518610416!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/police-aware-of-independence-protesters-m8-flag-plan-1-4687321","id":"1.4687321","articleHeadline": "Police aware of independence protesters M8 flag plan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518454068000 ,"articleLead": "

Police are aware of a campaign group’s plan to “populate” bridges and footpaths along the country’s busiest motorway as part of a pro-independence protest.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687320.1518380615!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The M8 is Scotland's busiest motorway. Picture: Phil Wilkinson"} ,"articleBody": "

The proposed demonstration would see individuals carry flags and banners on viewpoints along the M8 between Glasgow and Edinburgh on Saturday, April 7.

The organisers, calling themselves YesM8, said the event was “about being seen” and was not intended to cause traffic disruption. They hope flags could be seen from 70 crossings along the route and are hoping to recruit “local co-ordinators”.

But some have expressed concern over the stunt, claiming it would be a distraction to drivers and could potentially lead to accidents.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman told The Scotsman: “However well-organised and stewarded, large gatherings of people on motorway overbridges could be distracting for drivers approaching at high speeds, as well causing an obstruction to travellers on the overbridges and side roads.

“It is an offence under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984 to hang or fly items such as banners and/or flags from the overbridge structures, or to affix them to road signs. This is to prevent unnecessary distraction to or over-reaction by motorists on these high speed roads, as well as to avoid these items falling onto the road itself causing danger to approaching traffic.

The spokeswoman added officers would work with the group to “facilitate the safe, lawful and peaceful assembly of the participants so that road travellers are not distracted, impeded or otherwise obstructed.”

A spokesman for YesM8 said: “We met them earlier and understand the rules.”

The planned event has divided opinion among independence supporters. Former SNP MSP and Scottish Parliament presiding officer Tricia Marwick tweeted: “If they want to do something then get out leafleting or knocking doors.”

The group said in a statement yesterday: “Just for a little clarity for the naysayers. This is about visibility. This is not about shutting down roads and junctions and causing chaos. We want lawful gatherings on footpaths over the M8.”

YesM8 claims it was inspired by the work of another grassroots campaign, Bridgesforindy, which shares pictures of saltires flying from various crossings.

READ MORE: First Minister’s residence Bute House ‘needs £300k of repairs’

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4687320.1518380615!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687320.1518380615!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The M8 is Scotland's busiest motorway. Picture: Phil Wilkinson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The M8 is Scotland's busiest motorway. Picture: Phil Wilkinson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4687320.1518380615!/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/staggering-costs-of-disability-benefit-appeals-revealed-1-4687313","id":"1.4687313","articleHeadline": "‘Staggering’ costs of disability benefit appeals revealed","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518415200000 ,"articleLead": "

More than £100 million has been spent by the Department for Work and Pensions on administering reviews and appeals against disability benefits in little more than two years, figures show.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687312.1518378559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The DWP said a small proportion of decisions were overturned. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

This is in addition to the tens of millions of pounds spent every year by the Ministry of Justice on the appeals, around two-thirds of which have been won by claimants in the past year.

The bill has been branded “staggering” and prompted a Tory former minister to claim “something is seriously wrong with the system”.

The DWP said a small proportion of decisions were overturned and most employment and support allowance (ESA) and personal independence payment (PIP) claimants were happy with their assessments.

But the department is also facing questions from the work and pensions select committee over the figures, amid claims it was not given similar information for its own inquiry into PIP and ESA.

Figures obtained through a freedom of information request show the DWP has spent £108.1 million on direct staffing costs for ESA and PIP appeals since October 2015.

The figure covers mandatory reconsiderations, an internal DWP review and appeals to tribunals run by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The monthly cost has been steadily rising and in December the DWP spent £5.3m on mandatory reconsiderations and appeals for PIP and ESA.

The equivalent figure for October 2015 was £2.6m.

“To spend this amount on admin fighting to uphold flawed decisions that shouldn’t have been made in the first place is staggering,” said Neil Heslop, chief executive of the disability charity Leonard Cheshire.

“Thousands of disabled individuals have had to fight to receive support to which they are legally entitled.”

Since October 2015, 87,500 PIP claimants had their decision changed at mandatory reconsideration, while 91,587 claimants won their appeals at tribunal. In the first six months of 2017-18 some 66 per cent of 42,741 PIP appeals went in the claimant’s favour.

The figures for ESA since October 2015 show 47,000 people had decisions revised at mandatory reconsideration and 82,219 appeals went in the claimant’s favour.

So far in 2017-18, 68 per cent of 35,452 ESA appeals have gone in favour of the claimant.

Tory peer Baroness Altmann, a former minister at the DWP, said the money could be spent on benefits for those who need them, rather 
than on the costs of fighting claims.

A DWP spokeswoman said it was working to improve the process, including recruiting around 190 officers who will attend PIP and ESA appeals to provide feedback on decisions.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "JON VALE"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4687312.1518378559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687312.1518378559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The DWP said a small proportion of decisions were overturned. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The DWP said a small proportion of decisions were overturned. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4687312.1518378559!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-ministers-shouldn-t-see-official-stats-early-say-msps-1-4687345","id":"1.4687345","articleHeadline": "Scottish ministers shouldn’t see official stats early, say MSPs","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518415200000 ,"articleLead": "

Scottish ministers should no longer be given early sight of official statistics to stop independent analysis being drawn into partisan political debate, a parliamentary report has recommended.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687344.1518383405!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSPs say that, while there is no suggestion that Nicola Sturgeon and ministers tried to influence statistics ahead of publication, they should no longer have an early view. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP"} ,"articleBody": "

A majority of opposition MSPs on Holyrood’s economy committee called for an end to the practice which allows ministers and officials access to official figures before they are released.

Their report said there was the potential for confusion, highlighted by debates sparked during the independence campaign over the Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) figures.

“While there is no evidence of the statistics being subject to ‘influence’ prior to their publication, the greater concern is around the opportunity to ‘spin’ the numbers in a positive way in advance of any other commentator or political party being able to respond,” the report said.

Last year the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Bank of England scrapped pre-release access for ministers.

The committee report said the prevailing view of its six Labour, Tory and Green MSPs was that early access to market sensitive statistics, including Scottish GDP and Gers, should end.

However, four SNP members instead backed a “presumption” against early access following the committee’s inquiry on economic data in Scotland.

The report highlighted the importance of high-quality economic statistics in Scotland given the parliament’s new fiscal powers and ongoing debates around constitutional reform.

Research commissioned by the parliament suggested the pace of devolution was beginning to “expose cracks” in the UK’s system of producing economic statistics.

It urged ministers and the ONS to prioritise improving the quality of data on earnings, trade, Scottish prices and regional economic statistics.

The inquiry found no evidence of a problem with the independence of the production of statistics but recommended ministers carry out a review which could consider the possibility of setting up a new agency

Committee convener Gordon Lindhurst said: “Now is a crucial time for the Scottish Government to consider greater independence for the production of economic statistics in Scotland, and a robust and independent analysis of the kind of data Scotland needs for a strong, thriving and sustainable economy to benefit all.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4687344.1518383405!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687344.1518383405!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "MSPs say that, while there is no suggestion that Nicola Sturgeon and ministers tried to influence statistics ahead of publication, they should no longer have an early view. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "MSPs say that, while there is no suggestion that Nicola Sturgeon and ministers tried to influence statistics ahead of publication, they should no longer have an early view. Picture: Andy Buchanan/AFP","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4687344.1518383405!/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/let-s-get-ready-for-early-indyref2-says-snp-msp-james-dornan-1-4687046","id":"1.4687046","articleHeadline": "Let’s get ready for early indyref2, says SNP MSP James Dornan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518304307000 ,"articleLead": "

SNP deputy leadership candidate James Dornan said Scotland could vote for independence next year as he pledged to get the party ready for it in his pitch for the job.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687045.1518334892!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "James Dornan says Nicola Sturgeon's push for early independence poll has not cost the party votes. Photograph: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, the Glasgow Cathcart MSP said a Yes vote in indyref2 could be achieved as soon as 2019 or 2020.

“Circumstances are changing almost every day. It has to be at a time from the SNP viewpoint when it is of maximum benefit for us and when that will be will be close to the [Scottish] election time, maybe 2019/2020 would be my guess. Politics have never been more volatile than they have over the last few years.”

Dornan said driving the party towards achieving independence would be “crucial” to his campaign to replace Angus Robertson as the SNP’s deputy leader.

His enthusiasm for a quick second referendum comes despite many criticising Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to react to Brexit by putting another independence vote on the table. Sturgeon’s indyref2 strategy was seen as a key factor in the SNP’s poor performance in last year’s snap General Election.

Dornan, however, rejected that analysis, saying he was “not convinced” that plans for another referendum were to blame for the SNP losing 21 Westminster seats.

“I know people have equated that [a second referendum] with the 2017 result,” Dornan said. “I’m not so convinced. In 2017 there was clearly a co-ordinated arrangement – maybe unofficial – to get Alex [Salmond] out, get Angus [Robertson] out.”

Sturgeon was also criticised for overlooking the views of one million Scots who voted to Leave. But Dornan did not think the attitude of Leave voters would stand in the way of the fight for independence.

He said: “They talk about a third of our party voting to Leave, but I would bet you that having seen the burach (mess) – as Alex (Salmond) was fond of saying – they will be reconsidering their views on Brexit.”

Dornan said he would be campaigning to represent the SNP’s “authentic working- class voices”. With previous deputies having been Westminster-based, he said the next should come from Holyrood because the SNP should recognise the Scottish Parliament as the primary parliament.

Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont said:“You’d think after recent election results the SNP would understand that Scots are fed up with them pushing for another independence referendum.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Tom peterkin 
"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4687045.1518334892!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4687045.1518334892!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "James Dornan says Nicola Sturgeon's push for early independence poll has not cost the party votes. Photograph: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "James Dornan says Nicola Sturgeon's push for early independence poll has not cost the party votes. Photograph: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4687045.1518334892!/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/what-powers-has-the-scottish-parliament-gained-since-2007-1-4686801","id":"1.4686801","articleHeadline": "What powers has the Scottish Parliament gained since 2007?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518200697000 ,"articleLead": "

This week Holyrood gained powers over onshore oil and gas licensing, the latest piece of the 2016 Scotland Act to be activated.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686795.1518200190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Parliament debating chamber. Picture: Toby Williams/TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

The same legislation, which enacted the recommendations of the 2014 Smith Commission, has already resulted in Scottish ministers being given responsibility for areas such as income tax and welfare policy.

Ministers at Holyrood now have authority to legislate for the granting and regulation of licences to search and bore for petroleum. David Mundell hailed it as the latest in “significant new powers” to go to the Scottish Parliament.

But the issue of devolved powers, always a sensitive subject, has become especially potent in the wake of Brexit. Shortly before Christmas a coalition of 80 civil groups described Brexit legislation as an “attack on the principles of devolution”.

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington responded that devolved nations would end up with greater powers at the end of the Brexit process. SNP ministers are not so sure. Agriculture and fisheries policies currently set by Brussels remain sticking points.

Since its establishment in 1999, devolution has largely been a one-way street in terms of powers being transferred from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament. Brexit is the first major event to shake his presumption.

READ MORE: Scotland facing constitutional crisis over Brexit bill

Post-2007 and Calman

By the time the SNP formed its first administration in 2007 it was obvious that elements of the still young Scottish Parliament were ripe for reform. Holyrood funding was a frequent criticism - with ministers handed a block grant from the treasury, rather than setting taxes.

The ball was rolling by December 2007 when opposition MSPs led by Labour backed the creation of a commission on devolution. Known as the Calman Commission, after its chairman, Sir Kenneth Calman, its terms of reference included improving “financial accountability”.

The Scottish Government later described the commision as a flawed “messy fudge” because it failed to consider options for Scotland outwith the current constitutional framework.

Nevertheless, the commission’s 2009 report was the basis for the Scotland Act 2012. This handed the Scottish Government the ability pay for capital projects such as roads, hospitals or schools by issuing bonds for the first time. It also permitted borrowing from the National Loans Fund and commercial loans, up to a limit of £2.2 billion.

Perhaps most significantly, Holyrood gained the ability to raise or lower income tax by 10p in the pound - as long as any change was applied equally across all tax bands.

Onwards to Smith

Shortly before her election as Scottish Conservative leader in 2011, Ruth Davidson famously pledged a “line in the sand” over new powers for Holyrood. Her then leadership opponent, Murdo Fraser, had floated the idea of backing more financial powers for the parliament. “The Scotland Bill currently going through Westminster is the line in the sand,” she responded. “The time for arguing about the powers the people want is over. It’s time now to use the powers that we have.”

But by 2013 the Scottish Tories were debating handing further powers to the parliament - which party grandee Michael Forsyth dubbed a “suicide mission”.

The 2014 referendum on independence focused the minds of the Unionist parties, who found themselves under pressure to set out their plans for further devolution if Scots voted No.

Following the vote in September 2014, then prime minister David Cameron announced the creation of Smith Commission to “convene cross-party talks and facilitate an inclusive engagement process across Scotland to produce, by 30 November 2014, Heads of Agreement with recommendations for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament”.

This act was said to have fufilled the controversial “Vow” signed by Unionist party leaders in the days before the referendum, promising more powers for Holyrood if Scotland voted to retain its place in the UK.

Smith results and the 2016 Scotland Act

The commission received 14,000 emails and letters from the public and a further 250 contributions from groups. On November 27, 2014, following tense talks involving the four main parties, the commission published its report.

It called for the Scottish Parliament to have complete power to set income tax rates and bands, to receive a proportion of the VAT raised in Scotland - amounting to the first ten percentage points of the standard rate - as well as receiving increased borrowing powers to support capital investment and ensure budgetary stability.

“The fruits of Smith’s labours, and those of the negotiators acting on behalf of their parties, is a package of powers that will define the next stage of Scotland’s constitutional journey,” The Scotsman reported at the time.

The pro-Union parties hailed the package as one that will give Scotland one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.

The future

Brexit is a second gamechanger in how power is devolved from the centre, with the final outcome uncertain.

The Scottish Government is actively urging Westminster to hand over powers on immigration. It has argued that a steep drop in immigration to the UK could have a disproportionate impact on Scotland - and see its population fall in the long-term as a result.

Many key sectors north of the border - tourism and hospitality in particular - heavily rely on migrant workers.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4686795.1518200190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686795.1518200190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Scottish Parliament debating chamber. Picture: Toby Williams/TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Scottish Parliament debating chamber. Picture: Toby Williams/TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4686795.1518200190!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4686798.1518200196!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686798.1518200196!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Lord Smith of Kelvin reveals the Smith Commission report in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland in 2014, which backed more powers for Holyrood. Picture: Alex Hewitt","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Lord Smith of Kelvin reveals the Smith Commission report in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland in 2014, which backed more powers for Holyrood. Picture: Alex Hewitt","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4686798.1518200196!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4686799.1518200198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686799.1518200198!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Professor Anton Muscatelli in March 2009 with the published report by the group established to advise the Calman Commission on financial accountability. Picture: Jane Barlow","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Professor Anton Muscatelli in March 2009 with the published report by the group established to advise the Calman Commission on financial accountability. Picture: Jane Barlow","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4686799.1518200198!/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/brian-wilson-lewis-ignores-trump-and-his-nhs-attack-helps-explain-why-1-4686133","id":"1.4686133","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: Lewis ignores Trump and his NHS attack helps explain why","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518170050000 ,"articleLead": "

Donald John Trump has never shown the slightest real interest in his Hebridean connections and, to the great credit of the island from which his mother was an economic migrant, it has reciprocated by paying the least possible attention to him.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686132.1518169127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump's tweets have the unerring ability to get the wrong end of every stick, says Brian Wilson Picture: AFP/Getty Images"} ,"articleBody": "

It would have been different if she had come from Ireland. By now there would be a Trump Trail, lots of tourist tat and perhaps a moving statue. But Lewis has done its best to ignore its most famous son while he, patently, has assimilated absolutely nothing from its history or values.

Occasionally, that seems like a pity. An example was last Sunday when Trump crowed via Twitter: “Thousands of people are marching in the UK because their universal system (of health care) is going broke and not working”. With his unerring ability to get the wrong end of every stick, Trump appeared to believe that people were demonstrating against the NHS and its “universalism” rather than in defence of that principle.

If only, at some point in his life, he had done a little listening and learning in the croft house kitchens of Lewis, how different things might have been. Possessed with even the scantest knowledge of his own people’s history and the society his mother was born into, it would surely be impossible to vent such ignorant hostility towards the concept of “socialised medicine”.

For there was no corner of the United Kingdom which benefited more from the NHS’s creation. Indeed, his mother’s native island and the poverty which it endured were at the roots of the first great experiment in universal health provision, free, or almost free, at the point of use – the Highlands and Islands Medical Service.

In the early part of the last century, the system which Trump upholds prevailed in the Highlands and Islands as elsewhere. If someone needed a doctor, they paid. Most people could not afford it (like the 28 million in the United States who have no health insurance today) so they postponed a visit to the last possible moment, when often it was too late. There was a recent story about a New York man who won a million dollars in a lottery. Only then could he afford to visit a doctor who promptly diagnosed advanced cancer. He died a few weeks later.

READ MORE: Islanders plan Mexican protest if Donald Trump visits Hebrides

That pretty much sums up the case against Trump’s preferred system, just as countless similar experiences in the last century made the case for change in all civilised countries – and in the Highlands and Islands, possibly before anywhere else. Conditions were so dire that in 1911, the Secretary of State for Scotland, Lord Pentland, asked Sir John Dewar, the whisky baron, to lead a Committee of Inquiry into provision for medical care in the Highlands and Islands. The Dewar Report was devastating and, of all the evidence which the committee heard, the most harrowing was in Lewis.

The Dewar Report did not mince its words: “That such a condition of affairs as we found in Lewis should exist within twenty-four hours of Westminster is scarcely credible. Nor is it creditable from a national standpoint.” As a direct result of the Dewar Report, an embryonic scheme of universal health care was created, built on affordable access to doctors and a network of newly trained nurses.

It was a great social reform which – alongside improved sanitation and housing - slowly transformed conditions throughout the Highlands and Islands, most markedly in the Western Isles. It was not until the NHS came along in 1948 that the final attack on diseases associated with poverty – TB and polio among them – prevailed. If only Donald John Trump could comprehend and apply a little of that history.

READ MORE: Losses at Trump’s Scottish golf resorts have doubled

Recalling the Highlands and Islands Medical Service points to another truth worth reinforcing before political mythology carries all before it. There is a long and honourable history, decades before Holyrood was conceived of, where Scotland did things differently from the rest of the UK and led the way in enlightened reforms which others then followed.

The treatment of young offenders and the right to education of children with special needs are two noble examples that spring to mind and there were many more, delivered through Scottish legislation at Westminster. Indeed, the ongoing challenge for the Scottish Parliament is to deliver as much progressive social reform as was achieved without the benefit of its deliberations in the preceding post-war decades. It’s that kind of history which makes many Scots feel a strong distaste when everything that has gone before is dismissed in order to give succor to a new political orthodoxy. Take for example a tweet of Trumpian stupidity this week from Dr Philippa Whitford MP, who felt called upon to advise the nation: “The choice is simple. Independence or subservience. Eventually Scots will have to choose.”

Personally, I have never felt remotely subservient and have no intention of doing so under prescription from Dr Whitford. She has previous form when it comes to dramatic statements. During the 2014 referendum campaign (when she was obliged to apologise to fellow NHS professionals in England for gross misrepresentation), Dr Whitford presented us with an ultimatum: “In five years, England will not have an NHS and, in ten years, if we vote No, neither will we.”

Like Trump, she fell victim to her own hyperbole. Pretending that the NHS is on the verge of collapse is as disrespectful as American hostility to universal provision is irrational. The NHS is far stronger than the rhetoric which surrounds it and the vast majority of people who experience it are grateful and satisfied, rather than intent on predicting its doom. And, of course, we are fully entitled to do things differently in Scotland if we want to.

Pressure for a better NHS should never stop because there will always be new needs and demands. It should be recognised that it is not all about money. But pretending, from any quarter, that the system is on the verge of breakdown in order to make a political point scarcely does justice to the importance of the institution or faces up to the genuine challenges which any government will have to cope with.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Wilson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4686132.1518169127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686132.1518169127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Donald Trump's tweets have the unerring ability to get the wrong end of every stick, says Brian Wilson Picture: AFP/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Donald Trump's tweets have the unerring ability to get the wrong end of every stick, says Brian Wilson Picture: AFP/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4686132.1518169127!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5647351805001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/holyrood-gains-new-oil-and-gas-powers-in-wake-of-referendum-1-4686215","id":"1.4686215","articleHeadline": "Holyrood gains new oil and gas powers in wake of referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518134507000 ,"articleLead": "

Powers over onshore oil and gas licensing are the latest to be handed to Holyrood in the wake of the independence referendum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686214.1518113785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Mundell. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scotland Act of 2016 has already resulted in Scottish ministers being given responsibility for areas such as income tax and welfare policy.

Now the legislation, brought in after the Smith Commission considered how devolution could be improved in the wake of the vote to remain part of the UK, is transferring powers over onshore oil and gas licensing to Edinburgh.

READ MORE: Onshore energy sector in last-ditch fracking plea to MSPs

Ministers at Holyrood will get authority to legislate for the granting and regulation of licences to search and bore for petroleum, along with powers to regulate the licensing process.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “This is the latest in the transfer of significant new powers to the Scottish Parliament.

“The Scotland Act 2016 delivers in full the recommendations of the Smith Commission.

READ MORE: Claims that North Sea gas could run out in a decade labelled ‘poor’

“We promised to make the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved administrations in the world, and we have delivered on that promise.

“People in Scotland now have a greater say than ever before over their own affairs, while retaining the security and safety of being part of a strong United Kingdom.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4686214.1518113785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4686214.1518113785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "David Mundell. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "David Mundell. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4686214.1518113785!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5669920656001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-open-to-police-watchdog-law-change-1-4686014","id":"1.4686014","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon `open’ to police watchdog law change","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518100795000 ,"articleLead": "

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "TOM PETERKIN"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon open to law change","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon open to law change","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4662237.1518100790!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/facebook-deletes-snp-general-election-victory-boast-1-4685493","id":"1.4685493","articleHeadline": "Facebook deletes SNP general election victory boast","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518027406000 ,"articleLead": "

Facebook has deleted a boast on its corporate site that it helped the SNP “achieve an overwhelming victory” at the 2015 general election, when the party won 56 out of 59 constituencies in Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4685492.1518027401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie at a post-general election event in 2015, when her party returned 56 MPs. Picture: Alistair Pryde/JP Resell"} ,"articleBody": "

The social media giant previously listed the result as one of several political campaigns in which the online platform had made a positive difference, the Telegraph reported.

The page detailed how the Nationalists had turned the “disappointment of the No vote” in the 2014 independence referendum into an “opportunity” by capitalising on a “groundswell of support” and leaving the “remaining parties with only one seat apiece in Scotland” a year later.

It added: “Campaigners across the political spectrum now recognise that using Facebook made a demonstrable difference to the election result.”

The California-based tech giant said it had helped the party reach 1.24 million Scots during the 2015 election campaign, with 416,485 people reached on election day itself.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party stunned even its own members with its 2015 success, which was by far its record result in a Westminster election. The SNP was reduced to 35 MPs at the subsequent general election in 2017.

READ MORE: How the SNP has coped with losing 21 MPs

All major political parties routinely buy digital advertising from a variety of platforms, but Facebook has faced persistent criticism following the 2016 US presidential election that it does not do enough to curb so-called “fake news”.

Company founder Mark Zuckerberg was forced to defend Facebook against allegations of bias last year. “We hope to give all people a voice and create a platform for all ideas,” Zuckerberg wrote in September following criticism from Donald Trump.

It was reported in December the platform had set-up a political unit, which one business news organisation claimed enabled “the dark art of digital propaganda”.

But Katie Harbath, a former Republican digital strategist who oversees the Facebook political team, defended the unit. “We’re proud to work with the thousands of elected officials around the world, who use Facebook as a way to communicate with constituents, interact with voters, and hear about issues important in their community,” she told Bloomberg. “We take our responsibility to prevent abuse of our platform extremely seriously.”

But some in the organisation have warned Facebook of not appearing too close to one particular party or cause.

Elizabeth Linder, a senior figure in the team until 2016, said: “It’s not Facebook’s job to be so close to any election campaign.”

The Telegraph reported that Facebook did not respond to a request for comment as to why it had deleted the pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4685492.1518027401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4685492.1518027401!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie at a post-general election event in 2015, when her party returned 56 MPs. Picture: Alistair Pryde/JP Resell","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon takes a selfie at a post-general election event in 2015, when her party returned 56 MPs. Picture: Alistair Pryde/JP Resell","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4685492.1518027401!/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/undercover-police-probe-unnecessary-says-justice-secretary-1-4685404","id":"1.4685404","articleHeadline": "Undercover police probe ‘unnecessary’, says justice secretary","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1518023301000 ,"articleLead": "

A Scottish inquiry into undercover policing is not in the public interest, the Justice Secretary has said.

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

Michael Matheson said he had taken into account public concern over the use of covert police officers but concluded that a Scottish probe was “not necessary or justified”.

Mr Matheson was addressing parliament after a review by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) said undercover policing had been used effectively and that Police Scotland had not infiltrated social justice campaigns.

READ MORE: Chief Constable Phil Gormley resigns from Police Scotland

HMICS found the use of undercover operations was not widespread but that the Metropolitan Police’s controversial Special Demonstration Squad (SDS) and National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) had both deployed officers to Scotland.

It examined the practice between 2000 and 2016, following on from the Undercover Policing Inquiry which was set up in England and Wales to investigate allegations of misconduct by undercover officers.

A legal challenge has been brought by campaigner Tilly Gifford who wants that inquiry to be extended to Scotland, and Mr Matheson has faced calls for a separate Scottish probe.

The justice secretary told MSPs: “We have seen no evidence of the sort of behaviour by Scottish police officers that led to the establishment of the Undercover Policing Inquiry.

“The HMICS review provides reassurance to the public and to this parliament around the extent and scale of the use of undercover police officers since 2000.

“It identifies room for improvement and makes a number of recommendations that Police Scotland have committed to implement in full.

“I’ve considered carefully whether I should establish a separate Scottish inquiry under the Inquiries Act.

“In all the circumstances I am not satisfied that establishing a separate inquiry is necessary or in the public interest.”

Mr Matheson said a separate probe would be subject to delay and duplication and would be disproportionate in cost.

He said he had written again to the Home Secretary Amber Rudd urging her to widen the terms of reference of the English inquiry.

Labour’s Neil Findlay said: “By refusing a public inquiry or to look beyond the year 2000 the cabinet secretary fails victims, many of them women, and fails our democracy.

“Now the only people on the mainland UK who will not have access to justice are Scottish victims.”

Green MSP John Finnie told Mr Matheson: “You need to take charge of this situation, you need to call an inquiry, you need to assert your independence in relation to this. This is a Scottish matter - please deal with it.”

READ MORE: English undercover police were deployed in Scotland

Lib Dem Liam McArthur said he was also “disappointed” at the failure to instigate a public inquiry and urged the justice secretary to reconsider.

Conservative MSP Liam Kerr questioned what was being done to address the lack of a formal notification process for cross border operations, as highlighted by HMICS.

Responding to the decision, Ms Gifford said: “This is an ongoing fight for truth and accountability.

“It is the very political, policing and corporate establishments who sanctioned these abuses that have composed this HMICS review, and now deny Scotland a public inquiry.

“Our process of legally challenging this decision will continue.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Justice Secretary Michael Matheson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Justice Secretary Michael Matheson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4657566.1518023295!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/chris-marshall-scotland-should-have-an-inquiry-into-undercover-policing-1-4684589","id":"1.4684589","articleHeadline": "Chris Marshall: Scotland should have an inquiry into undercover policing","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517983200000 ,"articleLead": "

Tilly Gifford was just 24 years old when men she believes were undercover police officers attempted to recruit her to spy on her fellow environmental activists.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4684588.1517943723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tilly Gifford says she was offered money to spy on fellow environmental protesters by men she believes were undercover police (Picture: John Devlin)"} ,"articleBody": "

Tilly Gifford was just 24 years old when men she believes were undercover police officers attempted to recruit her to spy on her fellow environmental activists.

Gifford was one of seven protesters belonging to the campaign group Plane Stupid who were arrested for occupying a taxiway at Aberdeen airport in March 2009.

She later recorded exchanges with two men claiming to be from Strathclyde Police who indicated they could pay her for any information she had on her fellow protesters.

Nearly a decade on, Gifford will be among those looking on with interest when justice secretary Michael Matheson delivers a statement on undercover policing at Holyrood today.

The minister tasked HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) with carrying out a review in 2016 after then Home Secretary Theresa May refused to extend a public inquiry in England and Wales north of the border.

Unlike England’s judge-led inquiry, which has a remit to investigate undercover practices dating back to 1968, the HMICS review is incredibly narrow, focussing on the period since the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act came into force in 2000.

READ MORE: Anger at Scotland’s failure to publish undercover policing review

Its limited scope and the fact one of those involved in carrying out the review was Stephen Whitelock, a former head of Strathclyde Police CID, has not filled campaigners with hope.

Gifford has led attempts to win a judicial review to force either the UK Government to extend its inquiry or have the Scottish Government set up its own.

There are some who believe Mr Matheson is about to do just that.

In a letter sent to the convener of Holyrood’s policing committee last week, the justice secretary – who has had the completed HMICS report since 2 November – confirmed he has been considering the issue of a Scottish inquiry.

Many will question why any of this matters.

If police officers spying on those exercising their democratic right to campaign and protest is not enough, then consider some of the methods used.

In 2015, the Metropolitan Police issued an “unreserved apology” to seven women tricked into having relationships with undercover officers working for the National Public Order Intelligence Unit and the Special Demonstration Squad (SDS).

READ MORE: Activists raise funds for legal challenge into police spying

Those officers included notorious surveillance operative Mark Kennedy who is alleged to have spied on protesters in Scotland during the time of the G8 summit at Gleneagles in 2005.

Another officer, Mark Jenner, is also said to have made trips to Scotland in the late 1990s, a period not covered by HMICS review.

There are also questions over the role of Phil Gormley, Police Scotland’s chief constable who has been on leave since September while bullying allegations against him are investigated.

Mr Gormley was head of Special Branch at the Met in 2006 – the division which had responsibility for the SDS.

He has previously said he is happy to appear before the English inquiry, if called to give evidence.

It remains to be seen how detailed the HMICS report is, although the justice secretary has described it as “detailed and comprehensive”.

It may well pose as many questions as it answers, such as whether undercover officers spied on campaigners in the run-up to the 2014 independence referendum.

A judge-led public inquiry may yet be the only way of getting to the truth.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Chris Marshall"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4684588.1517943723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4684588.1517943723!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Tilly Gifford says she was offered money to spy on fellow environmental protesters by men she believes were undercover police (Picture: John Devlin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Tilly Gifford says she was offered money to spy on fellow environmental protesters by men she believes were undercover police (Picture: John Devlin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4684588.1517943723!/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/new-weather-map-proves-bbc-misrepresenting-scotland-says-snp-mp-1-4684495","id":"1.4684495","articleHeadline": "New weather map proves BBC ‘misrepresenting’ Scotland, says SNP MP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517938488000 ,"articleLead": "

The BBC’s decision to change the angle of its weather map proves that it has been “misrepresenting the land mass of the UK” for years, an SNP MP has claimed.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4684494.1517938795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The old BBC weather map will be replaced. Picture: BBC"} ,"articleBody": "

Ronnie Cowan, the MP for Inverclyde, said he hoped that the corporation’s change of tack would also lead to it treating Scotland more fairly in its news coverage.

The BBC announced today it was returning to a “flat map projection” for both regional and UK views, in the biggest shake up to its weather coverage for more than a decade.

The previous “tilted” map caused anger when it was first launched in 2005, with another SNP MP, Angus MacNeil, claiming it gave viewers a “distorted” view of Scotland.

READ MORE: RBS announces stay of execution for 10 local branches

The protests prompted the corporation to change the angle slightly 11 days later, but some Scots have remained unhappy about the map’s perspective.

In 2016, the then SNP MP Paul Monaghan accused the BBC of making Scotland “literally appear less significant” through its weather coverage.

The issue was also discussed ahead of the 2014 independence referendum, with some suggesting people were being “trained to underestimate Scotland’s size”.

READ MORE: Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon demands ‘urgent and meaningful’ role in talks

Writing on the Bella Caledonia website ahead of the vote, Robert Sproul-Cran suggested that the angle of the map could have a “profound effect on our understanding of who and where we are in the world”.

In a statement, Mr Cowan’s office said he had yet to see the new BBC weather map in action but approved of the change in principle.

“It is good to hear the BBC have acknowledged they were misrepresenting the land mass of the UK and have addressed the problem,” the statement read.

“I hope it’s an indication that Scotland and Scotland’s issues will get a fairer representation on all topics, not just the weather.”

Mr MacNeil said he was “delighted” that the BBC had “done the right thing”, adding: “It only took them 12 and half years. Now people can see Scotland really is a big place and we need to have ambitions for Scotland to match.”

However, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw described their claims as “risible” and “the worst form of nationalist paranoia”.

He added: “Poor wee Ronnie needs to get over himself. Nicola Sturgeon ought to be embarrassed by her hapless parliamentarian as it’s the sort of outburst you’d expect from a faceless cybernat on Twitter, not a serious representative in Westminster.”

The row is the latest tussle between the BBC and supporters of Scottish independence, with former SNP leader Alex Salmond leading the way in his criticism of the corporation.

In 2015, the former First Minister said BBC bias in favour of the Union was a “significant factor” in deciding the result of the referendum and his biggest regret was failing to forsee how important it would prove.

Weather bulletins will feature new on air graphics and the latest technology, allowing for longer range forecasting on both TV and radio.

“We know how important weather is to all of our audiences both in the UK and globally, so I am delighted to be able to bring them a refreshed look, new data and additional functionality,” said the BBC’s head of weather Liz Howell.

A BBC spokesman said: “We are pleased that viewers like the new design and with the overwhelming positive response we’ve received. The new look also makes the most of new higher resolution data, and all our presenters around the UK are enjoying sharing that with their viewers.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4684494.1517938795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4684494.1517938795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The old BBC weather map will be replaced. Picture: BBC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The old BBC weather map will be replaced. Picture: BBC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4684494.1517938795!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4684571.1517946845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4684571.1517946845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "BBC Weather launches a new look weather map today. Pciture: BBC","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "BBC Weather launches a new look weather map today. Pciture: BBC","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4684571.1517946845!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5727176817001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/poll-support-for-scottish-independence-at-32-1-4683018","id":"1.4683018","articleHeadline": "Poll: Support for Scottish independence at 32%","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517927109000 ,"articleLead": "

Scotland’s current constitutional arrangement remains the most popular choice for voters, a poll has suggested.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4683017.1517834243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pro-independence marchers make their way through Glasgow in September 2017. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

A survey by pollsters Survation found 36 per cent backed the status quo when presented with four options, including full independence, “devo max”, or don’t know.



The poll, carried out last month, found support for independence at 32 per cent, while 17 per cent backed devo max - which would hand all powers to Holyrood short of defence and foreign affairs - with the remainder undecided.



It was commissioned by the Scottish Independence Referendum Party (SIRP), a fringe organisation which wants a new vote on Scotland’s future. The party’s founder, Mark Whittet, stood in the Edinburgh West constiutency at the 2017 general election but won just 132 votes.



“This poll shows that almost half of all Scots are not in favour of the status quo and the current half-way house under the present partly-devolved powers from Westminster to Holyrood,” he said.



“The full devo max option is where the Scottish parliament would have full control over every aspect of government with the exception of defence and foreign affairs.



 



READ MORE: ‘Give Scotland seat at Brexit talks or risk indyref2’



 



“The 49% figure is greater than the 45% who voted for independence in the 2014 referendum, so the Unionist parties should not delude themselves into thinking that they would win the inevitable next referendum.



“The poll also shows a simple majority of 36% in favour of the status quo. But with almost the same number (32%) in favour of Scottish independence, this does not end the issue for a generation.”



Adam Tomkins, constitution spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “This poll shows that there is no mandate for any more constitutional wrangling.



“Indeed, the highest quantity of respondents clearly endorsed the current constitutional settlement. What all voters want is for the SNP to stop banging on about independence and start improving health and education.”



Commenting on the poll results an SNP spokesman said: \"As this poll shows, people across Scotland are hungry for change - with half of Scots in favour of Scotland gaining more powers.  \"This will only increase further when the full extent of a damaging Brexit becomes clear and if we're dragged out of the Single Market against our will, with the job losses and serious economic harm that will entail.\"



READ MORE: SNP must let differences surface in deputy leader contest, says Lesley Riddoch

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4683017.1517834243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4683017.1517834243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Pro-independence marchers make their way through Glasgow in September 2017. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Pro-independence marchers make their way through Glasgow in September 2017. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4683017.1517834243!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1508852437194"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/westminster-freemason-lodges-for-politicians-and-journalists-in-operation-1-4683340","id":"1.4683340","articleHeadline": "Westminster Freemason lodges for politicians and journalists ‘in operation’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1517850642000 ,"articleLead": "

Two Freemason lodges set up for politicians and journalists are operating in Westminster. The revelation has led to calls for MPs to be forced to register their membership.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4683338.1518119050!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The UK's Department for Exiting the EU have been criticised for arrangements made to allow MSPs to read Brexit analyis papers. Picture: Free Image/Pixabay"} ,"articleBody": "

New Welcome Lodge, which was established for politicians in the late-1920s, has 22 members, according to the the Freemasons governing body, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).

Gallery Lodge, which was set up for journalist covering Westminster politics, has 45 members, while a second lodge for journalists, Alfred Robbins Lodge, has 18 members.

A spokesman for UGLE said that none of the 22 members of New Welcome Lodge “has an occupation detailed on our membership records as Member of Parliament”.

They said that none of those who had joined Gallery Lodge or Alfred Robbins Lodge since 2000 had recorded their occupation as a journalist or “anything obviously linked to the newspaper industry”.

READ MORE: Poll: Support for Scottish independence at 32%

Register of interests

MPs and peers are not required to reveal their membership of the Freemasons, but can choose to do so.

None have done so, the Guardian reported. Freemasons were historically viewed as extremely secretive, but have in recent years attempted to increase transparency.

A spokesman said that the all three lodges meet at the headquarters in London, not in Parliament, adding: “It is strictly forbidden to discuss politics or religion at our meetings so any suggestion that these lodges wield political influence is again misleading.”

The spokesman added: “In the past, perhaps we have not helped ourselves by shying away from explaining who we are and what we do; but that is now changing and we have a greater resolve to put forward a case – and it is a positive argument – to highlight that we are driven by integrity, by a desire to help those less fortunate that us, and to stem the flow of negative perceptions which has unfairly dominated public opinion.

“We yearn for the day when every Freemason can proudly declare themselves a member of our great and historical organisation without fear of retribution, suspicion or damage; but that day appears to be some way off.

‘Prejudice and discrimination’

“Sadly, too many Freemasons have to exercise caution in response to the prejudice and discrimination they fear they will face. Disappointingly, we have too many concrete examples of rank discrimination on the basis of membership of an organisation which is a stated force for doing only good in society.

“When Freemasonry is once again recognised for its moral courage, and that Freemasons are properly looked upon as upright and decent individuals whose conduct is rooted in both integrity and service to others, then those members in the more sensitive professions will feel able to declare their membership openly.”

David Staples, the chief executive of the UGLE, said many Freemasons keep their membership secret to avoid discrimination and prejudice.

He told the Guardian: “Contrary to populist perception, being a Freemason helps those members in roles serving society in the broader sense, including journalists, politicians, policemen and lawyers, to be better in those jobs by encouraging them to act as better people themselves.”

This article first appeared on our sister site iNews.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "William Mclennan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4683338.1518119050!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4683338.1518119050!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The UK's Department for Exiting the EU have been criticised for arrangements made to allow MSPs to read Brexit analyis papers. Picture: Free Image/Pixabay","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The UK's Department for Exiting the EU have been criticised for arrangements made to allow MSPs to read Brexit analyis papers. Picture: Free Image/Pixabay","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4683338.1518119050!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"1508862309336"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}