{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"scottishindependence","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-15012/kezia-dugdale-wins-defamation-case-against-wings-over-scotland-1-4909109","id":"1.4909109","articleHeadline": "Kezia Dugdale wins defamation case against Wings over Scotland","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555515367000 ,"articleLead": "

Kezia Dugdale has won a defamation case brought against by the pro-independence blogger Wings Over Scotland.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Lothians MSP (right) had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, sent a homophobic tweet."} ,"articleBody": "

The Lothians MSP had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs the blog, sent a homophobic tweet.
Although a sheriff found the tweet had not been homophobic, he said Ms Dugdale’s claims in her Daily Record column met the test of a “defence of fair comment”.

Read more: Kezia Dugdale’s defamation case puts spotlight on power of new media bloggers

In a statement posted on her personal Twitter feed, Ms Dugdale said: “I am delighted to have won this case and hugely relived after two long years of it hanging over me.

“I cannot thank the team at the Daily Record enough. They stood by me as I stood up to him and won.

“Their support has been fulsome and unwavering throughout such a difficult time.

“This is an important judgement for the right to free speech and a healthy press.

“This ruling clearly demonstrates that every citizen is entitled to make comments as long as they are fair and reflect honestly held views.”

Campbell had been seeking £25,000 in damages. He had denied being a homophobe and insisted such an allegation was both “untrue” and “unfair”.

He went to court to protect his reputation as someone who consistently supported the equal treatment of homosexual people, and also sought £25,000 damages.

In his written judgement today Sheriff Nigel Ross said the true question was whether someone was entitled to view the tweet as homophobic, according to the Daily Record.

“Despite incorrectly implying that Mr Campbell is homophobic, her article is protected under the principle of fair comment,” he stated.

“She is not liable to pay damages to Mr Campbell.”

Mr Campbell said on his blog that he was still “fully digesting and considering” the judgement with his legal team before deciding on his next course of action, hinting at a potential appeal.

“My legal team and I have just received, unexpectedly early, the sheriff’s verdict in my defamation case against Kezia Dugdale,” he said in a post today.

“The short and paraphrased version is that yes, she did defame me by inaccurately calling me a homophobe, but because she’s an idiot who doesn’t know what words mean, she’s allowed to, so we lose.”

He added: “In almost every sense that the case was brought, we’ve actually won. I sought to defend my reputation against a false accusation of homophobia, to establish that I’m not a homophobe and to prevent anyone from being able to make such claims in future. All of those aims have been upheld, in explicit terms, by this judgement.

“Dugdale had claimed that she’d only said a single tweet was homophobic, not that I was a homophobe in general. The sheriff rejected that and noted that any reasonable person reading the article would have concluded I was being called a homophobe.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Lothians MSP (right) had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, sent a homophobic tweet.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Lothians MSP (right) had been taken to court over her claims in a newspaper column that Stuart Campbell, who runs Wings Over Scotland, sent a homophobic tweet.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4909497.1555515363!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6011554379001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/westminster-should-follow-scotland-and-lower-voting-age-say-reformers-1-4909034","id":"1.4909034","articleHeadline": "Westminster should follow Scotland and lower voting age, say reformers","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555500856000 ,"articleLead": "

Westminster should follow Scotland’s lead in giving the vote to 16 and 17-year-olds, electoral reformers have claimed on the anniversary of the last piece of legislation to expand the UK electorate receiving royal assent.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "16 and 17 year olds currently cannot vote in Westminster elections"} ,"articleBody": "

The voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 when the Representation of the People Act received assent on April 17, 1969, following a bill introduced by the then Labour Government.

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) said the 50th anniversary was a suitable time for Westminster to follow the example of Scotland, where 16 and 17 year olds were granted the vote in time for the 2014 independence referendum and the 2017 Holyrood elections.

MPs debated the subject earlier this month and now the ERS are calling on the UK Government to get behind the proposal.

READ MORE: Sturgeon criticised in leaked conversation on trans rights

Campaigners pointed to recent analysis by the Hansard Society which found nearly two-thirds of respondents felt the Westminster system of governing needs “quite a lot” or “a great deal of improvement”.

ERS chief executive Darren Hughes said: “On the 50th anniversary of extending the vote to 18-year olds, it is now time to learn from the success of votes at 16 in Scotland and embrace a fairer franchise for the whole UK.

“When they vote, 16 and 17-year-olds actually have higher rates of turnout in Scotland than 18-24-year olds. In the 2014 Scottish independence referendum turnout among 16-18-year-olds was 75%, with 97% of those who voted saying they would vote in future elections.

“Evidence has shown that they accessed more information ahead of the vote from a wider variety of sources than any other age group – showing that 16-year-olds are more than ready to engage in the democratic process in an enthusiastic and informed way.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "16 and 17 year olds currently cannot vote in Westminster elections","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "16 and 17 year olds currently cannot vote in Westminster elections","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894067.1555500852!/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/alexander-mccall-smith-forget-brexit-we-should-argue-about-this-instead-1-4908625","id":"1.4908625","articleHeadline": "Alexander McCall Smith: Forget Brexit, we should argue about this instead","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555491793000 ,"articleLead": "

In these fractious times, Alexander McCall Smith takes solace in memories of happier days when arguments were about how to pronounce Gullane and such like.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "How you say this word is a matter of some debate. Is it Gullin or Gillin? Could it even be Gillane or 'Gullane'? (Picture: Bill Henry)"} ,"articleBody": "

Disagreement can be disagreeable. Our national conversation has demonstrated that in recent months, when differences of opinion on political issues have raised the public temperature to an uncomfortably high level. We are riven; we are confused; we are angry with one another; we are unhappy. Gone are the days, it seems, when people could hold differing views and yet agree about the common good.

In such circumstances, we might remember the things that we used to argue about in Scotland – the old differences of opinion that now seem to be bathed in a warm glow of nostalgia. Perhaps we can divert ourselves from our current toxic exchanges by thinking about those comfortable old arguments and debates. How pleasant they were by comparison; how gorgeously irrelevant; how innocent.

Such as: how does one pronounce Gullane? There are those who consider that question otiose in our troubled times, but no, that controversy is never going to go away, and if anything is going to distract us from present woes, it is that one. In future, when somebody asks you your view of the European Union issue, smile politely and say, “Ah, but how does one pronounce Gullane?” That question has saved many Scottish dinner parties from becoming mired in heated debate about Article 50. It is, in a sense, a lightning conductor, keeping tempers down and saving friendships. It is, after all, possible to disagree with somebody about the pronunciation of Gullane without consigning them to Dantean regions below.

For the benefit of those south of the Border, the pronunciation of Gullane is a sort of Scottish Schleswig-Holstein question (Schleswig-Holstein is not in West Lothian, which also has a question). It has been around for a long time and in the minds of many it has yet to be resolved. You would think that people would have better things to think about, but they do not. The pronunciation of Gullane is a defining issue; for some it goes to the very core of their social identity.

READ MORE: The Edinburgh of the future will have no residents and an all-year festival – Alexander McCall Smith

The issue is this. There are two principal ways of pronouncing Gullane. One is Gillin, the other is Gullin. There are other possibilities, of course, including Gillane and Gullane. It will be noticed that the latter is also the way it is spelled, which of course has no relevance. The name Garioch, for instance, is pronounced Gairy, at least by some, including many who are called Garioch. Then there is Milngavie, which is pronounced in the way in which Milngavie is pronounced, which is Mul Guy. Hawick is, of course, Hoyick, and those pronouncing it as it is spelled will not get far in the Borders. These are all well-known oddities that have so far survived European Union harmonisation. Beware, though: the functionaries who are intent on abolishing summer time are planning an orthography/pronunciation directive that will require names to be pronounced in the way in which they are spelled. That may not be true – it probably isn’t – but stranger things have happened.

Back to Gullane. The interesting thing about the pronunciation issue there is that it reflects a social divide. Broadly speaking, the Uppies say Gillin and the Doonies say Gullin. Those boundaries are not absolute, but it is generally the case. So at one level it is akin to the difference between table-napkin and serviette – a distinction that seems to fascinate the English but that is of scant interest here in Scotland. We have the Gillin/Gullin controversy, which is far more interesting – and important.

READ MORE: Alexander McCall Smith: Edinburgh Airport should charge people to sit down

What do the people of Gullane themselves say? Well, the first point to be made there is that this should not be decisive. It is perfectly possible for people to get the name of their own place wrong, and to continue to do so against all the advice of professional etymologists. Sometimes, in fact, people get their own surnames wrong: I have met Macleans abroad who actually call themselves Mackleen. That raises delicate etiquette issues. How do you tell people that they are getting their own name wrong? It is very difficult. The only way of doing it tactfully is to simply look pained, or even wince, when they introduce themselves. That will usually cause them to realise that something is amiss and seek expert advice on how to pronounce their name correctly.

Gullane is, alas, seriously divided. As you drive through the village on your way towards North Berwick (pronounced Nurth Berrick), people who live on the right side of the road say Gullin, while those on the left say Gillin. That divide is regrettable, but it is very difficult to see how it can be overcome. Gillin is a shibboleth. At Muirfield, which is just outside the village, there is no question but that it is Gillin. Cadit quaestio. Choosing, then, to say Gullin, if one has been brought up to say Gillin, becomes an act of self-definition, a gesture of rejection of the constraints of tribalism. Gullin is, for such people, a protestation of independence, an identification with the authentic political and social culture of Scotland, which leans towards Gullin. Of course nobody may notice the gesture, but at least it is made, and those who make it report that they do indeed feel more authentic for saying Gullin rather than Gillin.

Many outsiders do not realise how important this issue is and how it exercises people in Scotland. That is because they are inauthentic. And as for the answer to the question of what is the correct pronunciation, that, as is well-known, is self-evident. It is ... (word limit reached).

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "How you say this word is a matter of some debate. Is it Gullin or Gillin? Could it even be Gillane or 'Gullane'? (Picture: Bill Henry)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "How you say this word is a matter of some debate. Is it Gullin or Gillin? Could it even be Gillane or 'Gullane'? (Picture: Bill Henry)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908623.1555491788!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-currency-plan-will-amplify-austerity-says-richard-leonard-1-4908609","id":"1.4908609","articleHeadline": "SNP currency plan will ‘amplify’ austerity, says Richard Leonard","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555433301000 ,"articleLead": "

Richard Leonard has claimed austerity would be “amplified” in an independent Scotland, as the debate on the SNP’s currency plan intensifies ahead of the party’s spring conference.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908608.1555433297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard said SNP fiscal plans wouldn't help society's poorest"} ,"articleBody": "

The Scottish Labour leader reiterated his criticisms of the Growth Commission report which called for Nationalists to stick with a policy of retaining the pound in the short term following a Yes vote, instead of immediately launching a new currency.

SNP bosses are facing the prospect of a grassroots challenge from party activists at next weekend’s conference who want to see an faster switch to a new Scottish currency.

But Mr Leonard said such a fiscal policy would not help alleviate poverty.

His party is beginning a series of “listening events” across the country aimed at informing its manifesto ahead of a potential snap general election.

The MSP spoke to The Scotsman following a meeting of community activists in north-east Glasgow, where concerns about austerity and the impact on the poorest in society were routinely raised.

“The discussion the SNP will have about currency emanates from the Growth Commission report published last year,” Mr Leonard said.

“One of the aspects of that report was a prospectus for 10 more years of austerity. We’ve been speaking here today on the harsh impacts that austerity has brought for the last 10 years.

“Under the SNP prospectus, whether it’s a currency tied to Sterling, or a seperate Scottish currency, they are looking towards a further decade of austerity to drive down the gap between public expenditure and revenue from taxation. What we’ve seen from the Philip Hammond era could be amplified if we reach a point of an independent Scotland.”

The sessions invite interested community groups to share their opinions on how social change can be intiatited, with ideas fed back to the policy unit tasked with writing the party’s manifesto ahead of a potential snap general election.

The event took place at the Barmulloch Residents Centre, which lies within the Glasgow North East constituency won by Labour’s Paul Sweeney in 2017.

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown said: “These are the same baseless arguments that Labour made in 2014 when they campaigned alongside the Tories and then lost all their seats – the truth is Richard Leonard would come up with reasons to argue against any currency option for an independent Scotland.

“The whole point of independence is to give Scotland the powers to take the decisions that are in our best economic interests – and that includes what currency we use. Labour would rather leave all of these powers in the hands of the Tories or the chaotic Westminster political system.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908608.1555433297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908608.1555433297!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Richard Leonard said SNP fiscal plans wouldn't help society's poorest","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard said SNP fiscal plans wouldn't help society's poorest","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908608.1555433297!/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-2-15012/former-snp-mp-sacks-defence-lawyer-days-before-embezzlement-trial-1-4908599","id":"1.4908599","articleHeadline": "Former SNP MP sacks defence lawyer days before embezzlement trial","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555431261000 ,"articleLead": "

A former MP has sacked her defence council a week before her trial is due to start.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908598.1555431258!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow Sheriff Court"} ,"articleBody": "

Natalie McGarry, 37, is to face three charges of embezzlement through different independence campaign organisations at Glasgow Sheriff Court next week.

McGarry, of Oliphant Crescent, Clarkston, was to be defended by John McElroy but she has dramatically fired him.

READ MORE: MSP calls for police to be banned from placing children in cells

The former SNP MP asked Sheriff Paul Crozier for an extension to her trial but this was refused.

McGarry was represented today by Janice Green but it is unlikely she will do so on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Letters to Nicola Sturgeon reveal public reaction to student dentist who avoided jail

Green told the court that it would be impossible for any lawyer to defend a client with such short notice.

The former politician is accused with embezzling £40,000 mostly through the Woman for Independence campaign.

McGarry’s final charge is failure to disclose a password for an iPhone to police.

The trial is due to last six weeks.

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4908598.1555431258!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4908598.1555431258!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Glasgow Sheriff Court","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Glasgow Sheriff Court","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4908598.1555431258!/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/mp-for-spain-expats-need-a-voice-alastair-stewart-1-4907927","id":"1.4907927","articleHeadline": "MP for Spain? Expats need a voice – Alastair Stewart","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555407214000 ,"articleLead": "

The five million Brits who live overseas should have their own elected representatives, writes Alastair Stewart.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907925.1555407209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Life for British expats is not one long holiday on the Costa del Sol ' most are of working age (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

Given Brexit has been delayed, possibly until October, there might be just enough time to squeeze in EU elections, a second referendum, a general election, a summer holiday and, well, whatever else you might like on the wish list.

With all that in mind, there’s also time to reflect on the remarkable inefficiency of how the UK represents the interests of its five million-strong people scattered across the world.

I should know. Until a month ago, I was living in Spain. Over five years, I met every variety of British migrant over there. I can tell you first hand that ‘expat’ is as loaded a term as any I’ve heard and the connotations are unfair. I don’t even need to describe the image it conjures up, you already know it, but I will say this – most Brits in Europe are of working age. The Office for National Statistics reports that two-thirds of the 784,900 British citizens in the EU are long-term residents between 15 and 64 years old.

Europe isn’t so much a playground as an employer for most of the million-strong Britons there. And, unless they renounce their citizenship, political decisions taken by the UK Government can still have real and lasting consequences on the lives of this global British diaspora.

Brexit is a case in point. There’s very little this global community can do about it beyond contacting their ‘local’ MSP or MP – and that’s only if they’ve been away for less than 15 years.

British citizens overseas register to vote using their last postcode in the UK. I’ve arrived home in Edinburgh after five years and found two bookshops I love have closed and a plethora of beloved pubs refurbished or under new management.

READ MORE: Brexit: Why it’s wrong to blame the older generation – Alastair Stewart

If old haunts have changed so dramatically, what is fair about my vote weighing the same as someone who lives and breathes in the constituency? An MP’s time is ultimately finite, and even more so if they hold a government position.

There are few constituency issues that will truly “make waves” unless they tap into a widespread or national problem. Why is constituency time being wasted by legitimate constituents abroad, demanding action from individual MPs, when they could be represented by a handful of dedicated Members of Parliament for overseas citizens? British citizens in Europe who’ve rallied against Brexit have had the biggest impact by acting collectively to lobby for their rights and their interests.

The current electoral system is not only unproductive, but also denies UK residents the complete focus of their taxpayer-funded representation for local, constituency issues.

Creating MPs for Brits overseas would not be unprecedented. In France, there are 11 seats that represent the 2.5 million Français établis hors de France (citizens of France overseas). Their delegates not only play an active and decisive part in French politics but represent regional constituencies such as Northern and Southern Europe. To go one further, the French even have an Assemblée des Français de l’étranger, the Assembly of French Citizens Abroad, that represents all French citizens living outside France and advises the government on issues affecting them.

READ MORE: Scottish independence would strip Churchill of his ‘Britishness’ – Alastair Stewart

Macedonia also elects three out of 123 seats to represent overseas citizens from three constituencies – the Americas, Europe-Africa and Asia-Oceania. There are currently 23,782 registered voters outside of the country, up from about 7,200 in 2011, when the three seats were established to stand in the Macedonian Assembly. The Italian Parliament is another of the few legislatures in the world to return seats for citizens residing abroad. The Overseas Constituency (Circoscrizione Estero) elects 12 representatives to the Chamber of Deputies and six to the Senate of the Republic from four electoral zones (including Europe).

Even in the United States, there are calls to introduce direct representation in Congress for nationals living abroad. The American Citizens Abroad organisation campaigns for the introduction of representatives and senators for the nine million US citizens worldwide because of “the special issues they face, the growing complexities of the global markets and the role that Americans overseas play in the competitiveness of the United States”.

It’s long overdue that the United Kingdom introduce Members of Parliament to represent a diaspora which has travelled far and wide but is still British. The introduction of MPs for regional or global constituencies would, if nothing else, make their ballot more relevant and be more fair for residents of the UK.

What is clear is something must be done to redress the imbalance and a glaring electoral hole. British citizens, wherever they are, have a right to be heard, and while voting is an individual right, concerns are often shared and that should be reflected.

Alastair Stewart is a freelance writer and journalist. He writes regular features on politics and history with a particular interest in nationalism and the life of Sir Winston Churchill. Read more from Alastair at www.agjstewart.com and follow him on Twitter @agjstewart

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alastair Stewart"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907925.1555407209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907925.1555407209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Life for British expats is not one long holiday on the Costa del Sol ' most are of working age (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Life for British expats is not one long holiday on the Costa del Sol ' most are of working age (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907925.1555407209!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6023261004001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-gardening-might-help-mps-think-more-clearly-kezia-dugdale-1-4907836","id":"1.4907836","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Gardening might help MPs think more clearly – Kezia Dugdale","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555390828000 ,"articleLead": "

The delay of Brexit should give MPs time to think about the various options, writes Kezia Dugdale as she looks apprehensively towards EU elections that could be hijacked by the far right.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907835.1555345027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Put the Monty Don in charge of Brexit ' there have been worse ideas"} ,"articleBody": "

I have a confession to make. I watched Gardeners’ World on Friday night and really enjoyed it, possibly an age thing or maybe just all this good weather. In truth, it is probably the product having spent a week in my partner’s back garden attempting to level it. For a week now, we’ve been raking and shovelling all sorts out of rubble and rubbish out in the vain hope of a pristine green lawn one day.

There’s not a bone in my body that doesn’t ache or twinge right now. However it’s also been a hugely enjoyable and reflective time. Time to breathe in fresh air and think.

With Brexit now postponed until October 31, perhaps this is what the country’s 650 MPs should do. Stop, breathe and think, or put Monty Don in charge of Brexit. I’ve heard worse ideas if I’m honest!

What we have now is time. Time that European Council President Donald Tusk warns us we should not waste. Yet everyone’s idea of how to spend it differs. Should it be used to hammer out a deal that Parliament can support? To organise a public vote? Alternatively, even time to hold a second Scottish independence referendum?

Nicola Sturgeon has long promised an update on her Indyref2 plans and has delayed her big intervention more times than the PM has lost votes.

Now there is a six-month window. That’s long enough for a snap referendum if she rolls the dice now. It must be tempting. Will there be a more opportune moment in her lifetime to call it than now? A killer combo of a weak Tory government, Brexit chaos, little focus on her government’s mounting domestic tribulations and ahead of the Salmond trial beginning? A gambler would surely play their hand.

READ MORE: Brexit: Theresa May faces ‘grassroots revolt’ as calls to quit grow

Of course it’s not that simple. Sturgeon would need a Section 30 order from the UK Government to hold a referendum and the Prime Minister has ruled that out. However, Theresa May is only that in name now.

Meanwhile other MPs, including notable Cabinet Ministers and leading opposition members are focusing on finding a deal that can command the support of the House of Commons. A cynic might suggest that’s what they should have been doing for the past three years, not just the last three weeks.

Any deal will require compromise. Labour says it cannot back a bad deal or no deal, insisting instead on the pursuit of a “good deal”. If such a thing exists of course, given all evidence shows us leaving the EU in whatever form will cause significant economic decline. Labour demands that good deal must include a customs union, the benefits of the single market but an end to the free movement of people that hinges upon.

The Tories bitterly oppose many of these demands. So, far from negotiating or compromising, those at the table are drinking tea and trying not to blink first, knowing by giving way on their own positions, they’ll face mutiny on their back benches.

READ MORE: Brexit: Second referendum in sight if SNP stop pushing independence – Ian Murray MP

It’s increasingly likely that we’ll participate in the EU elections next month. I savour every day I retain my EU citizenship, but I’m not sure I welcome an election which is so exposed to being hijacked by the far right. Tommy Robinson MEP is a real possibility. I can see Brexiteers congregating together under one banner, whilst Remainers offers 57 varieties, splitting that vote even further.

Those who want to stay in the EU could really do with one baggage-free political force to unite behind. Those who fear a second EU referendum because it would be a nasty and divisive might get a campaign like that regardless.

Whilst digging and raking, I’ve been throwing this around in my head on repeat. These are tumultuous times, which will define UK politics for generations. Those looking for green shoots have a lot of back breaking hard graft ahead of them yet.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kezia Dugdale"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907835.1555345027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907835.1555345027!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Put the Monty Don in charge of Brexit ' there have been worse ideas","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Put the Monty Don in charge of Brexit ' there have been worse ideas","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907835.1555345027!/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/indyref2-won-t-be-far-behind-an-snp-labour-coalition-lesley-riddoch-1-4907494","id":"1.4907494","articleHeadline": "IndyRef2 won’t be far behind an SNP-Labour coalition - Lesley Riddoch","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555323166000 ,"articleLead": "

As the polls start pointing towards a Labour/SNP coalition, indyref2 won’t be too far behind, says Lesley Riddoch

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907493.1555321870!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn has realised he must count Scotland out since the party's 2015 near-wipeout, says Lesley Riddoch"} ,"articleBody": "

Predictably, Margaret Hodge’s dodgy tape recording of Jeremy Corbyn on anti-semitism ruled the roost this weekend. It dominated BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend, and the front page of the Sunday Times. Meanwhile the Observer ran with warnings that Labour faces a wipe-out unless Corbyn backs a second Brexit referendum. Jings. Anyone would think Labour was surging in the opinion polls or something – and of course, they are.

It was left to Labour’s arch-critics at the Telegraph to publish the awkward truth; a poll of polls shows Labour would be the largest party in the event of a General Election tomorrow, whilst the Tories would lose 59 seats.

Actually, that’s nothing new.

Last week Labour’s lead was 9 per cent in a Harbury Strategy poll; 3 per cent in a Kantar poll; 4 per cent in a Survation poll, 2 per cent for BMG and the week before 5 per cent in a Deltapoll for the Mail on Sunday.

Indeed, there’s been a slow leftward lurch since Fiona Bruce’s infamous Question Time howler when she wellied into Diane Abbott about Labour’s parlous state in the polls. Actually, Labour were level-pegging with the Tories at the time – but who knew? Or rather, who in charge of Establishment narrative-making wanted to know?

In Sunday’s poll, another important result was tucked away. The SNP is predicted to pick up 11 seats which – if accurate – would bring their tally to 46. Not quite the system-busting 56 achieved in 2015 just after the indyref. But enough to give Jeremy Corbyn a working majority. Put another way, without the SNP, Labour could be the largest party without any clear route to government. The Lib Dem vote is also finally on the rise – the latest poll predicts they’ll add another 14 seats. But put together with their measly 11 current seats, that wouldn’t quite be enough to edge Labour over the line into power.

So, is a Labour/SNP coalition or supply and confidence agreement on the cards – and if it is, might that allow Nicola Sturgeon to demand a Section 30 order from Corbyn as the price of her support? And if it does, is that a bit of an independence game-changer?

Yes it is.

Now admittedly, a Labour/SNP win is currently just conjecture. These are opinions polls – not results. The pollsters probably sampled too few Scottish voters to be accurate and several other opinion-changing electoral tests are likely before another general election – including English local elections and the probable European poll, both of which could see a shift from the main parties to Ukip or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party. Especially since the broadcast media appeared to heave an enormous, collective sigh of relief the minute Farage appeared back on the political scene and have rushed to place him centre stage once again. It’s true too that the collapsing Conservative Party will nonetheless try to delay a general election for as long as possible. But if recent months have proved anything, it is that no scenario can be completely ruled out on the juddering British political scene.

I’ve no doubt Labour and the SNP are already talking behind the scenes – hardly surprising or very difficult these days since prominent MPs from both parties have spent weeks working together on hard Brexit-avoiding amendments. So the polls should give independence supporters cause for cheer.

Theresa May’s haughty “now is still not the time” is not necessarily the last word on Scottish Independence in 2019.

Happily, the demise of Labour in Scotland and the distancing of Scottish and UK Labour since Corbyn’s election, means the UK party has very little to lose by agreeing to a process that could let Scotland go. Before the indyref, received wisdom insisted that Labour couldn’t win at Westminster without a strong contingent from north of the Border. But since Scottish Labour’s virtual annihilation in 2015, Corbyn has realised he must largely count Scotland out. Of course, it’s true that Labour has no recent experience of power-sharing (the Lib-Lab pact was 40 long years ago) and there’s no doubt the media would portray a pact with the SNP as a colossal admission of weakness.

It’s also impossible to ignore Labour’s extraordinary capacity to shoot itself in the foot. Whilst the anti-semitism story is an old one, it’s still being mishandled and is not likely to leave the front pages anytime soon. The Brexit dilemma is a real one – lack of leadership and fence-sitting have become Corbyn defaults on the biggest dilemma facing Britain. Actually, Labour’s position on that other complex national emergency – the climate emergency – is equally floppy. But in a UK first past the post election, English voters have Hobson’s Choice. Scots can vote to leave the whole sorry mess – but English voters can’t. So whatever happens at council or European level, a UK election is likely to focus minds in England on the two big parties. And despite Labour’s evident weaknesses, the prospect of a Brexiteer Tory leader and Prime Minister will make most progressive voters in England conclude that Corbyn is now the lesser of two evils.

So, the prospect of a Labour/SNP pact is a real one, and may further deter Nicola Sturgeon from backing any unofficial poll when she makes her long-awaited announcement on a second independence referendum on 23 April. Of course, that needn’t stop her launching a strategy, which could adopt citizens’ assemblies over the summer to formulate a new independence blueprint as Joanna Cherry MP has suggested. It needn’t stop the First Minister naming a preferred date for a second ballot or going through the forlorn formalities of asking Theresa May for a Section 30 order.

But the whiff of longer-term change is now in the air.

The recent Leith by-election result showed the SNP and Greens picking up votes – which suggests the Euro elections will be a proxy Brexit referendum re-run with only the independence-supporting parties and the squeezed Lib Dems aligning convincingly with the popular Remain option. Obviously, nothing’s certain, but an even stronger Remain vote north of the Border will act as further evidence of material change and of the irretrievably different political cultures that now exist on either side if the Border.

A second independence vote may seem to have taken a back seat to Brexit. But things may be about to change.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "LESLEY RIDDOCH"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907493.1555321870!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907493.1555321870!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Jeremy Corbyn has realised he must count Scotland out since the party's 2015 near-wipeout, says Lesley Riddoch","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Jeremy Corbyn has realised he must count Scotland out since the party's 2015 near-wipeout, says Lesley Riddoch","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907493.1555321870!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6022043093001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/indyref2-currency-union-plan-was-disastrous-says-dennis-canavan-1-4907137","id":"1.4907137","articleHeadline": "IndyRef2: Currency union plan was ‘disastrous’, says Dennis Canavan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555323154000 ,"articleLead": "

The head of the 2014 Scottish independence campaign says its currency policy was \"disastrous\" and left it a \"hostage to fortune\" when the UK Government refused to back it.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907136.1555240588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dennis Canavan says currency union plan in 2014 was "disastrous""} ,"articleBody": "

Dennis Canavan has admitted the currency union proposal effectively left Westminster with a \"veto\" over the plan. The SNP is now proposing to change its approach and back a separate Scottish currency after independence.

Mr Canavan chaired the Yes Scotland campaign in 2014 and has called for Nicola Sturgeon to hold a second referendum before 2021 as Brexit turmoil engulfs the UK. And he says that the shortcomings of the last campaign must be addressed.
\"We ought to be honest enough and humble enough to admit that mistakes were made,\" he told BBC Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.
\"The currency thing, for example, turned out to be disastrous. I mean you cannot have a currency union with another partner unless the other partner agrees to that currency union.

\"So it was a hostage to fortune, it was giving our opponents - our unionists opponents - a veto over the policy, so that was a mistake.

\"I think that lessons have been learned now, that we've got to come up with a better currency option and I'm glad to see that support is growing now and seems to be accepted within the members of the Scottish Government that the idea of an independent currency in Scotland.\"

Early referendum ‘could kill off Scottish independence’
Mr Canavan has recently called for Nicola Sturgeon to seize the initiative and call another independence referendum, given the pro-independence majority among MSPs at Holyrood, combining the SNP and Greens.

\"My view for some time has been that we should have a second referendum on Scottish independence within the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament,\" he added.

\"We could argue that we have a Parliamentary mandate for indyref2.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907136.1555240588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907136.1555240588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Dennis Canavan says currency union plan in 2014 was "disastrous"","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Dennis Canavan says currency union plan in 2014 was "disastrous"","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907136.1555240588!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6022442046001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/early-referendum-could-kill-off-scottish-independence-1-4907071","id":"1.4907071","articleHeadline": "Early referendum ‘could kill off Scottish independence’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555182374000 ,"articleLead": "

Independence supporters should be in no rush to stage a second referendum when recent polls suggest they are unlikely to win, a prominent Yes campaigner has argued.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907070.1555182370!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "IndyRef 2 campaigners outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andrew O'Brian"} ,"articleBody": "

Colin Fox, leader of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), said any potential indyref2 should only be called when there was clear evidence the pro-Union camp could not win again.

The intervention by the former Lothians MSP goes against the grain of thinking among many other pro-independence veterans of the 2014 referendum.

Dennis Canavan, former chairman of the official Yes campaign, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, and senior SNP councillor Chris McEleny have all called in recent weeks for Nicola Sturgeon to set a date for another referendum this year.

The First Minister said last week she understood “the impatience of people who, like me, believe absolutely that the best future for Scotland is to be independent” and would clarify her position after the Holyrood Easter recess.

But Fox warned that rushing into another constitutional vote risked moving independence off the agenda for a generation, pointing to the example of Quebec, where separatists were narrowly defeated in a second referendum in 1995.

In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, he claimed Yes campaigners “should not underestimate” the UK state.

“The debate on the timing of another vote seems confused,” said Fox. “When do you have another independence referendum? Surely the answer is when you have a chance of winning one.

“All the polls show Yes is well behind. The argument for having a second referendum should come after having made a better case for independence so far.

“I’m not one of these people who wants a vote straight away. You should call it when we are ahead in the polls and build up a head of steam from then.

“We are taking on the British state. Too many people underestimate our enemy. Whatever else you want to say about the weakness of the socialist movement in Scotland, it has never underestimated the British ruling class.

“There is no sign of Yes winning a second referendum just now so therefore we must be patient.”

The SSP was one of the political parties, alongside the Scottish Greens and the SNP, to form part of the official Yes campaign in 2014.

Achieving unity among the various pro-independence factions ahead of the referendum, particularly those on the left, was a priority for Yes strategists.

But Fox has warned that coalition may be fractured in any future plebiscite if the SNP pursues a more pragmatic economic message.

Many on the left, including the SSP, have been vocal critics of the 2018 economic report produced by the Growth Commission, led by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson.

Wilson’s report called for an independent Scotland to continue to use the pound and only move to a new Scottish currency if a number of economic tests are met.

“My conclusion is the SNP’s argument is based on the idea that somehow the working class backed independence but the middle class didn’t,” said Fox. “But my view is the Yes movement did not win a majority of the working class in 2014. Not when areas like Fife, Renfrewshire and Invercyde returned majority No votes.

“If a future Yes campaign had the Growth Commission at its centre, would the left rally round it? The clear answer is no. We would not touch it with a bargepole.

“It’s been clear since it was published that it is a complete non-starter.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4907070.1555182370!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4907070.1555182370!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "IndyRef 2 campaigners outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andrew O'Brian","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "IndyRef 2 campaigners outside the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Andrew O'Brian","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4907070.1555182370!/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/brexit-tories-face-nosebleed-inducing-fury-but-not-in-scotland-john-mclellan-1-4906486","id":"1.4906486","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Tories face nosebleed-inducing fury, but not in Scotland – John McLellan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555146973000 ,"articleLead": "

As Conservatives in England feel the wrath of their supporters over Brexit, the party’s situation in Scotland is different as it prepares to welcome back Ruth Davidson from maternity leave. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour’s ‘momentum’ is in the wrong direction, writes John McLellan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906485.1555146969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is due to return from maternity leave next month (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Lunchtime on Thursday, there was plenty of sunshine on Leith, perfect weather for getting out and exercising the democratic franchise, but it was business as usual at the Norton Park and Broughton Nursery polling stations in the Leith Walk by-election. In other words, not much sign of life.

Be it political disengagement because of the Brexit meltdown, good old apathy for local government or a mixture of both, more than two-thirds of the electorate had better things to do than vote and a turnout of 30 per cent saw the SNP take the seat from Labour with a 1.3 per cent increase in the vote share. Bohemian, gritty and densely populated, there aren’t many places in Scotland like Leith Walk, so can the outcome be taken as a bell-weather of the national mood?

In many ways, it confirmed what most observers already suspected, that the SNP is holding steady but the slide of Scottish Labour is continuing unabated. Its vote share was down to 15.5 per cent from 22.4 per cent in 2017 despite fielding a very experienced campaigner in Nick Gardner, but compare it to a total share for its two candidates in 2012 of 33.2 and the collapse in a traditional Labour seat is undeniable.

Nor is this just Leith Walk; in last month’s Clackmannan Central by-election the Labour share fell from 39 per cent in 2017 to 31 per cent, and in Dee & Glenkens for Dumfries & Galloway Council in December Labour didn’t put up a candidate.

Momentum may be a Labour movement within a Labour movement, but for the official UK opposition and what was until relatively recently the default party of power in Scotland, momentum is certainly what it has – but in the wrong direction. Perhaps not surprisingly given all the publicity about climate change, the Greens seem to be benefiting more than the SNP.

In the Edinburgh Conservative Party, it’s fair to say that, against the background of Brexit turmoil, our expectations in a seat with no strong Tory tradition were not high, and although we were disappointed that the return for our candidate Dan McCroskrie fell from 14.4 per cent in 2017 to 10.7, it was still up on 2012’s 8.1.

There is no question Brexit is infecting all levels of politics and as the party in government the Conservatives should be taking the biggest hit, but despite a three-point drop in Leith Walk there was a three point rise in Clackmannan Central and In Dee & Glenkens the Tory share was actually up from 33 per cent to 45. That doesn’t look like a cliff-edge.

England and Wales go to the polls on 2 May for council elections which are already presenting a stiff test for Conservative candidates, judging by dispatches from the campaign trail on the Conservative Home website.

“I had somebody who was so furious he started getting a nosebleed. Even then he kept talking about the local Conservative MP letting him down,” an East Midlands candidate reported. And in the South-East: “When it comes to White Van Man it is much worse. We keep finding those who were marked as Conservative last time actually shouting and swearing.”

Goodness knows what will happen when Nigel Farage and his pals get going in the now seemingly inevitable European elections on 22 May, but that’s not the kind of reaction Scottish Conservatives are getting. That being said, there will be no avoiding the anger in the fishing ports of the north-east if there is any suggestion that rolling back on Brexit will lock the Scottish fleet into the Common Fisheries Policy.

The Scottish party has remained remarkably united and focused through all the chaos, largely because the SNP cannot accept the independence question has been settled, and the change in national leadership allows it to set out distinct policies in areas like immigration which respond to Scotland’s needs in a UK context. For Scottish Tories, much hangs on Ruth Davidson’s return from maternity leave next month at the Scottish conference, not because interim leader Jackson Carlaw has been doing a bad job, which he hasn’t. Expectations need to be carefully managed, but the inevitable attention Ruth Davidson will receive is an opportunity for renewal and a sense of direction.

Which is more than can be said for Scottish Labour.

Sister Morphine, 
I knew her well

Just before leafleting duty down Pilrig way on Wednesday, I dropped in on the launch of the Heart of Scotland Appeal, a new drive to raise and spend money on research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease in Scotland.

Author Val McDairmid, actor Billy Boyd and singer Amy Macdonald have backed the appeal, but as far as public awareness of heart disease is concerned the appeal couldn’t have done better than Rolling Stones legend Mick Jagger’s recent ticker trouble.

Jagger issued an update yesterday, thanking fans for their support and saying he was feeling much better after his heart valve replacement, which as he’s 75 will be a tissue replacement. They are usually taken from pigs and last about 15 years, avoiding a lifetime on anti-blood clotting warfarin which the mechanical alternative involves. Routine nowadays, but it usually involves your chest being sawn open, heart disconnected from the rest of you and your lungs plugged into a ventilator while the surgeon sets about your ticker with a sharp knife.

I know all this because four years ago I got away with a heart valve repair rather than full replacement. Waking up in intensive care, I was a porcupine of drips, drains and jump leads poking out where once there was unbroken skin, but also there was a morphine pump for whenever things got a bit uncomfortable. At the time I couldn’t help but think of the Stones’ song Sister Morphine Sir Mick first sang in 1971: “Here I lie in my hospital bed, Tell me, sister morphine, when are you coming round again?” but I didn’t have to wait, just push a button. By the looks of him Sir Mick didn’t need to relive the Stones’ hard-living past - the surgeons went in through an artery.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906485.1555146969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906485.1555146969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is due to return from maternity leave next month (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is due to return from maternity leave next month (Picture: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906485.1555146969!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/demands-for-theresa-may-to-quit-over-abject-surrender-brexit-delay-1-4906118","id":"1.4906118","articleHeadline": "Demands for Theresa May to quit over ‘abject surrender’ Brexit delay","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555063509000 ,"articleLead": "

Theresa May was accused of an “abject surrender” in Brussels and told to quit by one of her own MPs after she agreed to delay Brexit until 31 October.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906114.1555063008!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. PRESS ASSOCIATION"} ,"articleBody": "

Challenging her in the Commons, Brexiteers questioned whether the Prime Minister understood the level of “anger” across the country after having “broken promises 100 times” on not pushing back the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest ever’ march for Scottish independence planned in Glasgow

And former ministers David Davis and Greg Hands joined calls for new leadership to reset Brexit negotiations.

Mrs May faced MPs following a late-night agreement with the EU to delay Brexit by up to a further six months, ensuring the UK will take part in EU elections unless the Withdrawal Agreement can be passed before 22 May.

READ MORE: World’s oldest golf scorecard from Scotland to fetch thousands at auction

Mark Francois, the deputy leader of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, said the Prime Minister was guilty of “sheer obstinacy”, and Tory grandee Sir Bill Cash claimed the agreement “undermines our democracy”.

“Does the Prime Minister appreciate the anger that her abject surrender last night has generated across the country, having broken promises 100 times not to extend the time?” Mr Cash asked, before adding: “Will she resign?”

Mrs May replied: “I think you know the answer to that.”

Setting out the terms of the agreement in Brussels, which will see the UK retain full privileges of EU membership, the Prime Minister told MPs: “Sadly, not sufficient numbers of members across this House voted to leave the European Union on those dates and hence the extension has been requested to enable us to come to a position where this House can agree on a majority on a deal that we can deliver on leaving the European Union.”

She said she had fought off attempts by French President Emmanuel Macron to force tough conditions on the UK during an extension, including the possible removal of its EU Commissioner and its veto over budget issues.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the second Brexit extension in the space of a fortnight represents “not only a diplomatic failure, but is another milestone in the government’s mishandling of the entire Brexit process”.

But the two leaders tried to sound a positive note on talks between their parties which now represent the last chance for the government to have a say in the Brexit process.

Negotiators from the two front benches met yesterday for a second time this week, but little immediate progress is expected with MPs told that with an extension secured, they can return to their constituencies for the remainder of the Easter holiday.

Mr Corbyn said talks between Labour and the Conservatives to find a Brexit compromise were “serious, detailed and ongoing”, and on the central Labour demand that the UK stay in the EU customs union, Mrs May said: “I think there is actually more agreement in relation to a customs union than is often given credit for when different language is used.”

But the Labour leader warned that “all options should remain on the table, including the option of a public vote,” adding: “If these talks are to be a success... the government will have to compromise.”

Mrs May replied: “I’m not prepared just to accept Labour’s policies, the Labour Party isn’t prepared to just accept our policies. This takes compromise on both sides.”

Earlier, Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said the government would “listen” to the option of a second referendum, responding to a question from SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906114.1555063008!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906114.1555063008!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. PRESS ASSOCIATION","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May speaks in the House of Commons during a Brexit debate. PRESS ASSOCIATION","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906114.1555063008!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6023261004001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-nine-takeaways-from-another-delay-paris-gourtsoyannis-1-4906039","id":"1.4906039","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Nine takeaways from another delay – Paris Gourtsoyannis","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555062783000 ,"articleLead": "

Who’s got most to fear from a Halloween Brexit delay? Paris Gourtsoyannis casts his eye over the fallout from Brussels.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906038.1555062779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The positions of all our party leaders are likely to come under intense scrutiny (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

EU unity has started to fracture

There was real anger, particularly in Germany, at Emmanuel Macron’s stand against a long Brexit delay – but more countries could join him in October if we end up back in Brussels without any progress.

This isn’t the last delay

Other EU leaders were keen to send the signal that the end date isn’t important – avoiding no-deal is. Some, including Angela Merkel, are prepared to offer even more time.

Sturgeon’s conference job is tougher

The First Minister must now keep her focus on a second EU referendum or revoking Article 50, which isn’t what SNP activists gathering in Edinburgh in two weeks will want to hear.

Party conferences will be a frightfest

Now the UK’s new exit date is Halloween, party conferences will be a horror show. One will be a free-for-all of Tory leadership contenders, while the other will be a reckoning with party members if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t deliver a second EU referendum.

Labour could then face a floor fight over a new Brexit policy: back a compromise deal or revoke Article 50?

READ MORE: Brexit: David Mundell says Tories could back customs union in talks with Labour

Tory Brexiteers will be desperate

Tory Brexiteers know by now that Theresa May doesn’t believe “no deal is better than a bad deal”.

To leave on WTO terms, they need a new leader. Every day of this new extension will add to the regret at their attempt to oust her – an October extension is too soon for a new coup attempt.

Brexiteers in the 1922 Committee and in Cabinet will need to exert more extreme pressure on the Prime Minister to go.

Brexit could spoil legacies in Brussels

In November, the EU gets new presidents of the Council and Commission, and new Commissioners.

If Brexit isn’t resolved, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk will hand over a toxic portfolio, losing control of the outcome and spoiling their legacies. Another unhappy figure will be Michel Barnier, rumoured to want the Commission presidency – he argued for a short extension.

There may time for a People’s Vote

A six-month delay is less than Remainers hoped for, but there is just enough time to hold a second EU referendum. Experts suggest it could be done in 24 weeks; there are 29 left. The Government may come to see it as the only way to get its deal through the Commons. And if MPs authorise a People’s Vote, the EU could offer more time.

There is time for an election

It’s a risky way of unblocking the political drain, but an election is the only tool that could work. The Government isn’t keen, but Brexiteers could force one by backing a motion of no confidence, or the DUP could vote against the Queen’s Speech expected this summer.

Cross-party talks in the deep freeze

The pressure is off Labour to reach a compromise in order to avoid an immediate no-deal. Instead, the party’s focus will turn to getting a general election, so dragging talks out is more important than a breakthrough.

READ MORE: Brexit: Second referendum in sight if SNP stop pushing independence – Ian Murray MP

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906038.1555062779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906038.1555062779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The positions of all our party leaders are likely to come under intense scrutiny (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The positions of all our party leaders are likely to come under intense scrutiny (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906038.1555062779!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6025156272001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/solution-to-knife-epidemic-could-come-from-colombia-via-glasgow-1-4906063","id":"1.4906063","articleHeadline": "Solution to knife epidemic could come from Colombia...via Glasgow","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555062600000 ,"articleLead": "

In the mid-1990s, the Colombian city of Cali was arguably the most violent place on earth, its soaring murder rate linked to the country’s civil war and brutal drugs trade.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906062.1555062462!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A new solution to the knife crime epidemic has been proposed. Picture: Becky Duncan"} ,"articleBody": "

But while its problems are far from being over, the city’s homicide rate halved between 1995 and 2018 due to a range of interventions to tackle poverty and increase education and employment opportunities.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest ever’ march for Scottish independence planned in Glasgow

Now a leading public health expert has called on the authorities in England to look to South America as a means of tackling a rising wave of violent crime.

Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Professor John Ashton argues it was Cali – not Glasgow – where a public health approach to tackling violence first began.

READ MORE: Julian Assange arrested: Wikileaks founder faces US extradition

Last year in response to a growing number of deadly stabbings, London set up its first Violence Reduction Unit, a model developed in Glasgow under the auspices of Strathclyde Police.

The VRU has been credited with helping reduce the number of homicide cases across Scotland by 47 per cent from 115 to 61 between 2007/8 and 2016/17, with Glasgow responsible for a third of the overall decrease.

Professor Ashton said: “The current popular refrain for a public health response to violence is being linked to recent efforts in Glasgow which seem to be having some impact. However, the roots of this approach can be traced to systematic work in Cali over the past 30 years.

“The UK is now at a stage which requires stronger community organisation and participation linked to whole systems action, if knife crime and street violence is to be reduced. We have much to learn from our colleagues in Cali.”

Professor Ashton describes how, faced with a toll of over 1,000 drug-related homicides each year, the mayor of Cali, public health professor Rodrigo Guerrero, and his colleague Dr Alberto Concha-Eastman, adopted a classical public health model to tackle the problem.

Interventions in Cali included restriction of alcohol sales and access to weapons, police surveillance and enforcement using 24-hour courts and a holistic approach to poverty reduction, increased educational and employment opportunity and the mobilisation of communities, especially the mothers of young men who were fearful that their son would be next in the mortuary.

But while the homicide rate fell from 100 per 100,000 inhabitants in 1995 to 47.3 per 100,000 last year, it remains one of the world’s most dangerous cities.

In contrast, the homicide rate in Scotland was 1.1 per 100,000 in 2017/18.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906062.1555062462!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906062.1555062462!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A new solution to the knife crime epidemic has been proposed. Picture: Becky Duncan","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A new solution to the knife crime epidemic has been proposed. Picture: Becky Duncan","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906062.1555062462!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6023261004001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/nicola-sturgeon-vows-to-address-indyref2-calls-after-easter-break-1-4906043","id":"1.4906043","articleHeadline": "Nicola Sturgeon vows to address IndyRef2 calls after Easter break","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555062366000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to set out her thinking on a possible second independence referendum when MSPs return to Holyrood after the Easter break.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906042.1555062361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon joins MPs outside the Houses of Parliament. Photo by Ben Cawthra/REX/Shutterstock"} ,"articleBody": "

She made the vow after some within the SNP insisted the First Minister should use the latest delay to Brexit to “press with everything we have” for a fresh independence ballot - with a member of the party’s ruling national executive calling for a vote to take place in September.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest ever’ march for Scottish independence planned in Glasgow

Chris McEleny added that holding a referendum before the UK’s new Brexit deadline of October 31 would “allow the 200k EU nationals who live here to vote in it and allow Scotland to choose its own future with Europe”.

Meanwhile, long-serving SNP MP Angus MacNeil tweeted: “The #Brexit can has been kicked down the road again... we cannot follow suit by kicking the #indyref2 can behind it.”

READ MORE: Brian Souter expresses disappointment over Alex Salmond allegations

Ms Sturgeon told Bauer Radio: “I’ll set out my thinking on that after the Easter recess, but I understand the impatience of people who, like me, believe absolutely that the best future for Scotland is to be independent.

“Last night those countries that were deciding the UK’s future, with the UK out of the room, included a dozen countries that have populations smaller than or similar in size to Scotland, and yet Scotland is completely sidelined by Westminster in this whole process.

“Ironically Brexit, which was all about taking back control for Westminster, has actually highlighted how much power small countries have within the European Union, so the case for independence is stronger than it has ever been.”

While the First Minister spoke of her “relief” that the UK will not be “crashing out” of the EU on Friday without a deal, after Theresa May won another extension from European leaders, she called on the PM to use the additional time to stage a second European referendum.

The SNP leader also insisted that talks between the UK Government and Labour over how to resolve the Brexit impasse must be opened up to other parties, and to the devolved governments in Scotland and Wales.

But Ms Sturgeon warned a deal to keep Scotland inside the European single market, allowing the country to benefit from free movement of people, is the “very least” Mrs May will need to offer “if such talks are to stand any chance of success”.

She continued: “Further, and more fundamentally, the Scottish Government considers that any deal agreed by the UK Parliament should be put to another referendum, with the alternative proposition on the ballot paper being to remain in the EU.

“The extension to October 31 provides enough time to do this, and it is essential that no time is lost in making the necessary preparations.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “Once again Nicola Sturgeon is putting her obsession with a second independence referendum above all else.

“There is no longer any doubt that the SNP’s only goal throughout the entire Brexit process has been to push for indyref2.

“Scots have had enough of it, and the only update they want is to hear that Sturgeon might finally put an end to her continual pursuit for separation.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, also urged the First Minister to rule out holding another independence vote.

Ms Nash, a former Labour MP, said: “It is deeply irresponsible and reckless to advocate a divisive second independence referendum as early as this autumn.

“With the Brexit deadline extended and further uncertainty for our economy, the very last thing we need is even more constitutional uncertainty.”

For all the latest Scottish news, sport and features click here, or head to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906042.1555062361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906042.1555062361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon joins MPs outside the Houses of Parliament. Photo by Ben Cawthra/REX/Shutterstock","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon joins MPs outside the Houses of Parliament. Photo by Ben Cawthra/REX/Shutterstock","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906042.1555062361!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6022442046001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scotland-losing-too-much-wind-farm-building-work-admits-derek-mackay-1-4906074","id":"1.4906074","articleHeadline": "Scotland losing too much wind farm building work, admits Derek Mackay","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555061462000 ,"articleLead": "

More action to prevent lucrative wind farm construction contracts being lost to Scotland is needed, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has admitted, as he unveiled plans for a major conference to address the issue next month.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906073.1555061458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek MacKay will host the event next month. Pic: File"} ,"articleBody": "

The joint summit on offshore wind power, hosted by the Scottish and UK governments in Edinburgh, comes after Scots firm BiFab was forced to mothball two plants in Fife after missing out on lucrative contracts for turbines off the Scots coast.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest ever’ march for Scottish independence planned in Glasgow

Both governments, together with trade unions, offshore wind developers and supply chain companies, will discuss how the sector can be maximised. Those in attendance will also look at how UK companies can benefit from the build-out of offshore wind farms in UK waters.

Mr Mackay said: “Scotland has all the natural resources required to make it an ideal location for offshore wind, but we need to ensure our economy isn’t missing out from key contracts going overseas.

“We are committed to maximising the sector in Scotland, but we cannot do it alone – we need the whole industry to work together.

READ MORE: Julian Assange arrested: Wikileaks founder faces US extradition

“This summit will allow us to talk directly with the key developers and suppliers to establish what more we can do to help.

“The Scottish Government will be examining the consent process to ensure we use the powers at our disposal to keep work on these shores.

“And I hope to hear more from the developers and suppliers on what they plan to do to help grow our renewables economy.”

Mr Mackay will co-host the event on 2 May along with UK energy minister Claire Perry.

It comes after the mothballing of Scots factories such as BiFab which specialise in such work. Unite and the GMB said the failure to place any of the order for 100 steel jackets in Scotland is a “scandal”.

Foreign suppliers dominate the market, and British content in arrays built so far has been well below 50 per cent. Unions have called on the Scottish Government to push for “a level playing field” to compete against foreign firms which have state backing.

Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “Scotland has enormous offshore wind potential but too often this SNP government blow hot and cold and the sector suffers.

“This summit offers a chance to open up new frontiers for renewable energy in Scotland and ensure that this fledgling industry gets the support that it needs to flourish.”

Lang Banks, director of green group WWF Scotland, said: “It’s good to see this summit taking place. Over recent years Scotland has already reaped many benefits by positively embracing renewables in a big way, including the creation of thousands of jobs across the country and the dramatic reduction in carbon pollution.

“However, if we are to see a just transition for people and nature to a zero-carbon future, it’s vital action is taken to ensure we maximise the opportunities in sectors like offshore wind to grow further the jobs and economic benefits to Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906073.1555061458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906073.1555061458!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Derek MacKay will host the event next month. Pic: File","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Derek MacKay will host the event next month. Pic: File","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906073.1555061458!/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/a-curse-on-brexit-and-those-who-created-this-crisis-joyce-mcmillan-1-4906070","id":"1.4906070","articleHeadline": "A curse on Brexit and those who created this crisis – Joyce McMillan","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555061181000 ,"articleLead": "

The undermining of Europe’s great project for peace and prosperity is wasting too much time, writes Joyce McMillan.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906069.1555061177!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Angus Farquhar, Scotland's great land-artist and sage, has placed a solumn curse on the architects of Brexit (Picture: John Devlin)"} ,"articleBody": "

Another dangerous corner, another handbrake swerve, another delay to Brexit; and I guess I am not the only Remain supporter now looking forward to the next seven months with relief, yes, but also with a sense of absolute dread. Already, almost before the new “flexible” Brexit extension has been announced, the sound of people digging themselves further into their entrenched positions is loud in the land. The DUP, for example, says that the EU is running scared of a no-deal Brexit, and that Theresa May should therefore use the threat of it ruthlessly as a bargaining chip, regardless of the impact on some of the most vulnerable groups in British society. The extreme-Brexiteer European Research Group is muttering about how Theresa May must go, to be replaced by a Tory leader who “believes in Brexit” – much, I suppose, as a six-year-old might believe in the tooth fairy.

The Lib Dems are already beating the drum for a second EU referendum, even louder than before; they have the support of the SNP, who also still want to go back to the drawing-board and, if we must leave, redesign a Brexit that better serves the interests of all four parts of the UK. The Labour Party frontbench seem close to convincing themselves that Theresa May’s deal plus a permanent customs union is acceptable, whereas it is arguably the one form of agreed Brexit that is actually worse than the deal itself; they also still have their official policy of preferring a general election. And the Prime Minister says, for the hundredth time and more, that everyone should get this over with by voting for her deal, which is the only actual Withdrawal Agreement on offer.

What’s more the delay agreed by EU leaders on Wednesday night is just long enough to allow time for any of these options; and what this means is that after a brief pause for breath – or maybe not even that much respite – our interminable Groundhog Day of a Brexit debate can continue exactly as before, until one or other of these possibilities finally crawls, exhausted and broken-winded, over the finishing line of a Commons majority.

READ MORE: Brexit: Diane Abbott softens Labour free movement stance in talks with Tories

It is also worth observing that none of Westminster’s three largest parties is in very good shape to meet this ongoing crisis. If the delay to Brexit continues much longer, it’s not inconceivable that the Tory Party – the great survivor of British politics – could simply split down the middle, finally torn apart by the yawning gap between the needs of ordinary voters, and the raging retro-nationalism of its Brexit extremists, backed by elderly and dwindling band of active members.

The SNP is in a slightly similar plight, caught between the demands of an active membership many of whom simply cannot bear to wait any longer for the UK to make up its mind about Brexit, and a middle ground of Scottish voters who still seem reluctant to vote for a further round of traumatic constitutional change. And Labour – well, it is hard to imagine a party more profoundly divided, with half of its MPs now apparently convinced that the other half are not only politically misguided in every way, but complicit in the most profound misogyny, anti-semitism, and bullying.

Now it is just possible, of course, that the shambles of the last three years has in some way lanced the boil of far-right politics in Britain, and offered the British people a crash course in the positive value of open borders; recent UK polls suggest a surge in positive views of immigration since the EU referendum of 2016, making this now the most pro-immigration country in the OECD. If that is the case, then the next year may bring a decisive reversal of the Brexit decision, the humiliation of the pro-Brexit right, and the beginning of a renewal in centre-left UK politics that could just save the Union; although given the state of the two main parties, it is hard at the moment to see how that renewal might express itself.

READ MORE: Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon leads calls for People’s Vote during extension

And then there is the other possible positive outcome, for Scotland at least; in which – against a backdrop of continuing Brexit disarray – the First Minister holds her nerve, clings to the centre-left centre ground of Scottish politics, and gradually begins to see the decisive upward movement in support for independence for which she has been waiting since 2016. Indeed, if I were Nicola Sturgeon, I would now be throwing all the resources of my restless party into making sure that it goes into the May EU elections – assuming that they take place – armed with a brand new version of the Scottish Government’s famous 2013 Scotland’s Future manifesto, shorter, better-argued, and more radical and far-sighted in terms of resilience to economic and environmental change; a manifesto capable of taking the party not only into the European elections, but into a future referendum campaign based on the building of support around a serious plan for Scotland’s future.

For now, though, any possible benefits from these three years of shambolic indecision seem far beyond our grasp. Two weeks ago, at the National Theatre of Scotland’s Dear Europe farewell event in Glasgow, Scotland’s great land-artist, Test Department musician and sage, Angus Farquhar, told the story of his own family’s relationship with Europe over three generations, in peace and war; and then placed his most solemn curse on those who have chosen, in this most vital decade for the future of humankind, to spend time and energy sniping at and undermining Europe’s great project for peace and prosperity, after so much conflict.

And as we face another seven months of this ugly and repetitive debate, based from the outset on lies, fantasies, and the evasion of ever more urgent realities, it is hard even for the gentlest of pro-European spirits not to agree with every word of Farquhar’s curse; and to hope that the authors of this manufactured crisis will one day come to feel at the least a little of the pain, insecurity and fear that they have so carelessly inflicted on others, for reasons that remain at best inscrutable, and at worst indefensible.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906069.1555061177!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906069.1555061177!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Angus Farquhar, Scotland's great land-artist and sage, has placed a solumn curse on the architects of Brexit (Picture: John Devlin)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Angus Farquhar, Scotland's great land-artist and sage, has placed a solumn curse on the architects of Brexit (Picture: John Devlin)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906069.1555061177!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/labour-s-diane-abbott-hints-at-free-movement-policy-shift-1-4906123","id":"1.4906123","articleHeadline": "Labour’s Diane Abbott hints at free movement policy shift","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1555013091000 ,"articleLead": "

Labour will put economic prosperity ahead of ending free movement of people from the EU in any compromise Brexit deal, shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has insisted, in a significant change in tone on post-Brexit immigration policy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906122.1555013087!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

Jeremy Corbyn’s party has so far stood by a manifesto commitment that “freedom of movement will end when we leave the European Union”, and the Prime Minister cited an end to free movement as one basis for a possible compromise deal.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest ever’ march for Scottish independence planned in Glasgow

Labour’s stance has been seized on by the SNP, which has made the continuation of free movement one of its ‘red lines’ on Brexit, arguing the immigration is essential to keep Scotland’s population and economy growing.

READ MORE: Julian Assange arrested: Wikileaks founder faces US extradition

However, ahead of the resumption of talks yesterday, Ms Abbott sought to distance Labour from the government’s position on free movement, saying any decision would be made on the grounds of “jobs and prosperity”.

“All the workers we need will be welcome here, and they and their families will be treated fairly,” Ms Abbott said in comments to The Scotsman.

“The Tories have prioritised campaigning against migrants generally and freedom of movement in particular... It is foolish and reckless to change our immigration system in this way without first knowing what our future relationship with the EU will be.”

She continued: “Labour has repeatedly argued for close alignment with the Single Market, and our future immigration system must fit into any outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

“The government wants to put its claim to be curbing immigration ahead of our shared prosperity. Labour will always put jobs and prosperity first.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4906122.1555013087!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4906122.1555013087!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4906122.1555013087!/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/brexit-second-referendum-in-sight-if-snp-stop-pushing-independence-ian-murray-mp-1-4905913","id":"1.4905913","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Second referendum in sight if SNP stop pushing independence – Ian Murray MP","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554993237000 ,"articleLead": "

WITH a six-month extension to the Brexit crisis, a ‘People’s Vote’ is now closer than ever before, writes Ian Murray MP.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894779.1554993233!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Brexit"} ,"articleBody": "

For more than two years, Theresa May ran down the clock in the forlorn hope of forcing her flawed deal through parliament.

She remained firmly opposed to giving people their democratic right to have a final say on Brexit, and some claimed there simply wasn’t enough time to go back to the public.

Well, not anymore.

Now we have the window of opportunity to hold a people’s vote. It is within our reach.

After Tony Blair won his landslide election victory in May 1997, he delivered on Labour’s promise to hold a referendum on Scottish devolution as early as September of that year.

READ MORE: Brexit: David Mundell says Tories could back customs union in talks with Labour

The Constitution Unit at University College London has been clear that a swift legislative process is possible. The experts say passing the necessary legislation and the required regulated campaign can be done in 24 weeks.

There is time to hold a referendum before 31 October.

A confirmatory referendum received the highest level of support twice among MPs in the recent rounds of indicative votes in Parliament.

To achieve this, parties are going to have to work together in the national interest.

That means my own party leadership must maintain its full-square support for a People’s Vote, with a strict disciplinary process for those in the Shadow Cabinet who stand in its way.

It means the SNP must stop trying to leverage a divisive and unwanted second independence referendum into the negotiations.

READ MORE: Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon leads calls for People’s Vote during extension

It means the Tories must stop putting their party ahead of the country – there isn’t time for a self-indulgent leadership campaign.

The EU has given us a lifeline to avoid the calamity of Brexit, and the economic hardship, job losses and missed opportunities that come with it.

There is now a democratic solution to this crisis, and its time has come.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Ian Murray"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4894779.1554993233!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4894779.1554993233!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Brexit","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second referendum on Brexit","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4894779.1554993233!/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/brian-souter-expresses-disappointment-over-alex-salmond-allegations-1-4905649","id":"1.4905649","articleHeadline": "Brian Souter expresses disappointment over Alex Salmond allegations","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554990489000 ,"articleLead": "

A former major SNP donor has said he feels “disappointed” over allegations made against Alex Salmond.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905648.1554978509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stagecoach co-fonder Sir Brian Souter in 2013. Picture: TSPL"} ,"articleBody": "

Sir Brian Souter, a co-founder of the Stagecoach transport empire, is a friend and former political ally of Mr Salmond, donating more than £2m to the Nationalists before 2014.

The former First Minister has been charged with multiple accounts of sexual assault and two of attempted rape. Mr Salmond denies the allegations.

Sir Brian was speaking to worshippers at the Destiny Church in Glasgow when he referred to the case, The Times reported.

“Have you ever been really disappointed with someone that you really held in high regard?” he reportedly asked parishioners.

“I met with Alex Salmond at the airport a few months ago. I know him quite well and I like Alec. I’m not a fairweather friend. We had a good chat about things.”

READ MORE: Alex Salmond charged with attempted rape and sexual assault

He added: “I can’t tell you whether this (the court case) is right. I hope he gets justice and I hope his alleged victims get justice too. I can’t say anything about that but I would say this to you: I was disappointed, just that there’s a situation at all.”

Sir Brian has not made any donations to the SNP since Nicola Sturgeon became party leader in the wake of the 2014 referendum on independence.

Mr Salmond was charged with nine charges of sexual assault, two of attempted rape, two of indecent assault and one of breach of peace when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in January.

He entered no plea during the hearing. After leaving court, he read a short statement to reporters. “The only thing I can say is I refute absolutely these allegations of criminality and I will defend myself to the utmost in court”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905648.1554978509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905648.1554978509!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Stagecoach co-fonder Sir Brian Souter in 2013. Picture: TSPL","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Stagecoach co-fonder Sir Brian Souter in 2013. Picture: TSPL","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905648.1554978509!/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/indyref2-senior-snp-figure-calls-for-september-referendum-1-4905718","id":"1.4905718","articleHeadline": "Indyref2: Senior SNP figure calls for September referendum","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554989997000 ,"articleLead": "

A second referendum on Scottish independence should be held this September before the latest Brexit departure date a month later, a senior SNP figure has said

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905717.1554981780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris McEleny wants a September vote"} ,"articleBody": "

Chris McEleny, a member of the party's ruling National Executive, says the October 31 Brexit extension provides Nationalists with the clarity needed to pursue a second referendum this year.

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to set out her plans on a second independence vote when the Brexit situation becomes clearer but will face growing calls to make a statement soon. Electoral Commission rules could make it unlikely such a vote could be staged in such a short time, even if the UK Government was to back it.

Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit proves benefits of independence in Europe
Mr McEleny, who lost out to Keith Brown for the SNP deputy leadership last year, called on his party to campaign “with everything we have” to deliver an independence referendum before October 31.

“With an extension to the end of October, we now have the clarity that people required,\" Mr McEleny said.

\"People in Scotland should be given the opportunity to voice their preference on the future they want for Scotland.

\"Before the UK leaves the EU it is now time to press with everything we have to give people the opportunity to decide if they want Scotland’s future relationship with the EU decided for them or if they want to take that decision into their own hands by deciding that Scotland should become an independent country.

\"An independence referendum in September of this year would give us that opportunity.\"

SNP facing grassroots challenge over changes to independence currency proposals
A key stumbling block to a second referendum would be Prime Minister Theresa may's refusal to grant a Section 30 order which would allow Holyrood to legislate on such a vote.

Mr McEleney believes Scots are ready to vote yes after the last vote five years ago saw a 55%-45% majority in favour of staying in the UK.

\" Since 2014 everything has changed,\" he added.

\"Amongst many promises to convince people that weren’t quite ready for independence, the people of Scotland were categorically told that the best way to protect Scotland’s membership of the EU was to vote to stay part of the UK. As part of the UK we are now being dragged out of the EU regardless of what people in Scotland want.\"

" ,"byline": {"email": "scott.macnab@scotsman.com" ,"author": "Scott Macnab"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905717.1554981780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905717.1554981780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chris McEleny wants a September vote","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris McEleny wants a September vote","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905717.1554981780!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6008874678001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/brexit-our-politicians-have-failed-so-public-should-have-final-say-alex-cole-hamilton-1-4905787","id":"1.4905787","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Our politicians have failed so public should have final say – Alex Cole-Hamilton","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554987923000 ,"articleLead": "

The latest Brexit delay provides a window for a second EU referendum, writes Alex Cole-Hamilton.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905786.1554987919!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Remain: Anti-Brexit campaigners in Westminster (Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

I can understand why Scots are despairing. Both of our governments, in Holyrood and Westminster, are consumed by constitutional questions: how to get smaller, how to be more insular and how to break up close ties with old friends.

The news is a revolving cycle of Brexit misery. Labour and Conservative politicians are bickering and booing each other like kids. The SNP are plotting independence at every twist and turn. And all the while, people across the country have real worries about medicine supplies, low wages, poor housing and long waits for the doctor. It feels like these priorities are poles apart.

I don’t share these introverted ambitions to go it alone. I could run a relay without any teammates, but I wouldn’t do very well. Being part of the EU and the UK is of immense value to us. My party is keen on unions, not unicorns. We want to share knowledge and work with others to get things done. We need to cooperate with our neighbours on the continent to solve the migrant crisis as a collective. We want to be part of EU-wide medical trials to find the medicines of the future. Our young people benefit from schemes like Erasmus. Continent-wide security co-operation makes us more safe.

READ MORE: Brexit: Why it’s wrong to blame the older generation – Alastair Stewart

Over the last two years we’ve seen the curtain slowly pulled back on a future of complete chaos outside the EU. Chucking the towel in on all this collective progress is backward and blinkered. You can just picture history lessons in 20 years with kids who can’t get their heads around why we thought it was a good idea to leave. No one will have a logical answer for them.

Now the EU have granted another extension of the Brexit date through to Halloween and the spooky significance of this latest change won’t be lost on anyone. Putting people through prolonged panic and worry without the opportunity to voice their opinions is cruel. We’ve all endured the turmoil of the Prime Minister’s endless trips to Brussels. The fights in her party, the fragmenting of the opposition, the countless waste-of-time votes. People are truly sick of it and the chaos needs to end.

Last week the Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox, compared Brexit to birth. For most people that painful analogy just shows how deluded the Government has become. We don’t want pain, or job losses or companies to move abroad. The Tories’ unwillingness to put this decision back to the people displays a telling lack of confidence. If your deal is so great and your proposals so strong why wouldn’t people vote for them?

READ MORE: Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon leads calls for People’s Vote during extension

What’s more, this stalemate won’t come to a close on Halloween even if the Prime Minister’s deal does go through. That’s just the start. The negotiations on proposed free trade agreements will cripple our country for years. And then to make matters worse the SNP are planning to swoop in with the next ill-thought-out separation plan. They argue breaking up the 40-year-old partnership we have with Europe is devastating, but tell us breaking up a 300-year-old partnership would be simpler. That’s not credible.

We’ve now got a window to put the Brexit question back to the people. The solution cannot be a stitch-up between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. Whatever the outcome in the Commons, Brexit must be signed off by the British people. Why on earth should it be within the individual gifts of that untrustworthy troupe to trade freedom of movement, customs union access or other prizes millions of us hold dear? Parliament and politicians have failed. The public should have the final say.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Alex Cole-Hamilton"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905786.1554987919!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905786.1554987919!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Remain: Anti-Brexit campaigners in Westminster (Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Remain: Anti-Brexit campaigners in Westminster (Picture: David Mirzoeff/PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905786.1554987919!/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/biggest-ever-march-for-scottish-independence-planned-1-4905708","id":"1.4905708","articleHeadline": "‘Biggest ever’ march for Scottish independence planned","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554982001000 ,"articleLead": "

Campaigners are planning the largest ever march for Scottish independence in Glasgow next month.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905707.1554981432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Thousands attended a pro-independence march in Glasgow in 2018. Picture: John Devlin"} ,"articleBody": "

The All Under One Banner (AUOB) group, which has organised numerous political processions across Scotland, hopes to attract more than 100,000 people to its latest demonstration on Saturday, May 4.

It based that figure on the alleged turn out for a march in Edinburgh in October last year, which organisers optimistically claimed saw a six-figure attendance. Police at the time put the real number closer to 20,000.

AUOB is not officially endorsed by the SNP, but senior party figures have attended previous marches.

“We are hoping to beat Edinburgh, with over 100,000 people,” Manny Singh of AUOB told the Common Space website.

“The message is simple and it has not changed. Scotland must become an independent country, and Scotland needs to decide its own future.”

But pro-Union campaigners said such events did not reflect the views of the majority of people in Scotland.

READ MORE: Why marches are unlikely to lead to Scottish independence

Pro-independence marches have become an annual fixture in towns and cities across the country following the 2014 referendum, with the largest generally being held in Glasgow.

The last procession in the city saw organisers claiming a 60,000-strong turn out, although police put the number at 35,000.

Organisers believe such events act as a visual reminder of the strength of support independence enjoys.

But political opponents point out the 2017 AUOB march in Glasgow took place on the Saturday before a general election - the same vote that saw the SNP lose 21 constituencies it had won at a canter two years previously.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “We hope the marchers enjoy their day out, but it’s important to understand that these kinds of events don’t reflect the views of the majority of people in Scotland.

“Most people in Scotland know we are stronger together and don’t want a divisive second independence referendum.

“SNP politicians should choose to focus on the day job of fixing our schools and hospitals rather than address this event, and start listening to the majority of people in Scotland.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CHRIS McCALL"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905707.1554981432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905707.1554981432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Thousands attended a pro-independence march in Glasgow in 2018. Picture: John Devlin","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Thousands attended a pro-independence march in Glasgow in 2018. Picture: John Devlin","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905707.1554981432!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6011650901001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/general-election/brexit-nicola-sturgeon-leads-calls-for-people-s-vote-during-extension-1-4905517","id":"1.4905517","articleHeadline": "Brexit: Nicola Sturgeon leads calls for People’s Vote during extension","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554966069000 ,"articleLead": "

Nicola Sturgeon led calls for the UK to use extra time granted through a fresh Brexit delay to hold a second EU referendum.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905516.1554965564!/image/image.jpeg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpeg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for extra Brexit time to be used to hold a second EU referendum"} ,"articleBody": "

Nicola Sturgeon led calls for the UK to use extra time granted through a fresh Brexit delay to hold a second EU referendum.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit proves benefits of independence in Europe
After six hours of tough negotiation in Brussels, EU leaders announced that Brexit day would be pushed back to 31 October, with European Council President Donald Tusk warning the UK: “Please do not waste this time.”

READ MORE: Brexit postponed: EU leaders agree Article 50 extension to 31 October
The First Minister tweeted on Thursday morning: “It is a relief that - thanks to the patience of the EU - we will not be crashing out tomorrow.

“But the UK must not waste this time - allowing people to decide if they still want to leave is now imperative. And Scotland’s interests must be protected.”

The SNP’s Europe spokesman at Westminster, Stephen Gethins said the Prime Minister “must use this time to hold a fresh EU referendum with the option to Remain on the ballot paper.”

On Wednesday, Theresa May was challenged by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford over whether she would allow a second referendum, and did not rule it out.

Mr Gethins said compromise talks between the government and Labour that are set to resume today had to include the option of a referendum.

“It is welcome that we will not be crashing out on Friday but Scotland did not vote for Brexit and should not be forced to accept a Brexit deal put together by Labour and the Tories – parties that have ignored Scotland’s voice and interests every step of the way,” he said.

“Jeremy Corbyn must be clear on exactly what he is willing to concede to in talks with the Tories – if Labour helps them push through their plans to leave the Single Market, ending freedom of movement - which will cost jobs and hit public services - they will not be forgiven at the ballot box in Scotland.”

Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesperson Tom Brake said the extension of Article 50, which will be put into effect without the need for a vote in Parliament, was “a lifeline”.

“The Conservatives have dragged the country into chaos, but the extension agreed in the early hours of this morning offers a route out from the Brexit mess they have created,” Mr Brake said.

\"A flexible extension until 31st October is long enough to hold a People's Vote. The Prime Minister must now show leadership by handing the decision back to the British public.

\"It is long overdue that Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn abandon their party political games, stop wasting time, and give the people the final say with an option to stay in the EU.”

And Labour MP Paul Sweeney, who backs a second EU referendum, said the fresh delay was a “positive result”.

“It gives the UK an opportunity to fully consider its options, and for Parliament to find a majority for a way ahead,” he said.

“We also now have time to put any final deal back to the people to ratify in a public vote.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905516.1554965564!/image/image.jpeg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpeg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905516.1554965564!/image/image.jpeg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpeg","alt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for extra Brexit time to be used to hold a second EU referendum","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called for extra Brexit time to be used to hold a second EU referendum","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905516.1554965564!/image/image.jpeg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpeg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905518.1554966065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905518.1554966065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon is leading calls for a People's Vote. Picture: AFP/Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon is leading calls for a People's Vote. Picture: AFP/Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905518.1554966065!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"5848074148001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/brexit-postponed-eu-leaders-agree-article-50-extension-to-31-october-1-4905357","id":"1.4905357","articleHeadline": "Brexit postponed: EU leaders agree Article 50 extension to 31 October","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1554964280000 ,"articleLead": "

Brexit has been postponed until Halloween after EU leaders agreed an extension of Article 50 until 31 October.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905510.1555062814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council in Brussels. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

The six month delay, which will be reviewed at the end of June, means the UK will take part in EU elections unless a Brexit deal is agreed by parliament before 23 May.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit proves benefits of independence in Europe

READ MORE: Brexit: Donald Tusk says Westminster division means long delay

It was announced following six hours of tough negotiations in Brussels, with French President Emmanuel Macron making a lone stand against a broad consensus that the UK should be able to stay in the EU for up to a year more.

Theresa May could now stay on as Prime Minister for months in defiance of growing calls to quit from her own MPs, with sources saying she would only go when she has delivered a Brexit deal.

A Conservative source said Mrs May’s departure was tied to delivery of a Withdrawal Agreement, not any fixed date.

It will further enrage Brexiteers who have called on her to go after she opened the door to cross-party talks with Labour on a softer exit deal.

Last night the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith joined those calling publicly for Mrs May to go. And the executive of the party’s powerful backbench 1922 Committee met yesterday to discuss leadership succession.

In Brussels, European leaders were leaning towards giving the UK more time to agree a Brexit deal, with most speaking up in favour of an extension beyond the Prime Minister’s target date of 30 June, up to the end of the year or beyond.

But Mr Macron fought to force the UK out of the EU as soon as possible, warning that Brexit was a huge distraction from other priorities.

After European leaders heard from the Prime Minister, a source at the Elysée Palace said she had failed to convince them and warned the EU would “not sacrifice everything” to stop a no-deal Brexit. The source added that a disruptive UK in the EU was “not preferable to no deal”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is also understood to have argued for a short Brexit delay to keep pressure on the government and MPs to pass a Brexit deal.

And the President of the European Parliament hit out at suggestions that the UK could hold EU elections on 23 May, then withdraw before MEPs take their seats.

“We can’t accept that the European election be considered like a sort of game,” Antonio Tajani said. “The Parliament doesn’t intend to be ridiculed by anyone... We want to know what will happen and how long will current transition period last.”

Under new safeguards to protect the EU’s agenda from UK interference, the other 27 members of the bloc will hold more informal meetings to discuss issues without the UK present. Other ideas proposed included removing the UK’s representative on the EU Commission, and withdrawing its veto on budget matters.

Mrs May set out her case for a short extension with a break clause if a Withdrawal Agreement is passed in a presentation behind closed doors lasting around one hour, during which she answered questions from fellow leaders.

She then left the room to allow the other 27 heads of government to discuss the UK’s future in her absence over a dinner of scallop salad, loin of cod with brown shrimps and iced macadamia nut parfait.

An apparently relaxed Prime Minister laughed and smiled with Angela Merkel as the German chancellor showed her pictures on her tablet computer depicting the pair wearing jackets of exactly the same shade of blue as they addressed their parliaments earlier in the day.

Mrs Merkel had told German MPs earlier in the day that the EU “may well” go for a longer delay, although the UK would be allowed to leave “very quickly” if Parliament approves a withdrawal deal.

But as he arrived in Brussels, Mr Macron insisted that “for me, nothing is settled, and in particular no long extension”.

Despite having face-to-face talks with the PM in Paris on Tuesday, the French President said he needed more “clarity” and was “impatient” to hear what Mrs May would say.

“We must understand today why this request? What is the political project which justifies it and what are the clear proposals?” he said.

Mr Macron later posted on twitter: “We have managed to stay united during the past 34 months. This Union is important.”

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Tory backbencher Craig Tracey said she should abandon her “diluted deal” and take Britain out on World Trade Organisation terms, while Henry Smith warned that an extension would cost the UK £1 billion a month.

Pro-EU Justice Secretary David Gauke said Mrs May could carry on as PM until she has taken the country through the current phase of the negotiations and Britain has finally left the EU.

“I don’t think we should be rushing to change our leader when there is a big task to be done,” he said.

“If we are going through that process of trying to get Parliament to support a deal to find a way of breaking this deadlock, then Theresa May continues to be the right person to lead us through that process.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "paris.gourtsoyannis@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "Paris Gourtsoyannis"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905510.1555062814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905510.1555062814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council in Brussels. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Prime Minister Theresa May arrives at the European Council in Brussels. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905510.1555062814!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4905511.1554960945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4905511.1554960945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel looks back at French President Emmanuel Macron as they speak to the media ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel looks back at French President Emmanuel Macron as they speak to the media ahead of a European Council meeting on Brexit. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4905511.1554960945!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ {"video": {"brightcoveId":"6018717198001"} } ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} ]}}} ]}