{"JP":[ {"NewsSection":{"name":"uk","detaillevel":"full", "Articles": {"count":25,"detaillevel":"full","articlesList":[ {"article": { "url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/mike-clancy-the-government-s-actions-show-defence-is-a-low-priority-1-4669400","id":"1.4669400","articleHeadline": "Mike Clancy: The Government’s actions show defence is a low priority","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516703840000 ,"articleLead": "

Difficult questions about defence spending will be back on the agenda over the coming week.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4669399.1516703838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Govan shipyard on the Clyde. (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)"} ,"articleBody": "

A parliamentary debate, today, once again puts the spotlight on the government’s shipbuilding plans. This follows on from a steady drip of embarrassing news stories about the lack of resources for the armed forces over the past few months.

Britain has world-class defence and shipbuilding industries. Thousands of jobs and small businesses across the supply chain, as well as our armed services, rely on the success of our shipbuilding industry. But, the industry needs a government in Westminster that is on its side. The government has published a national shipbuilding strategy that includes many positive aspirations. However, the omission of defence from the government’s industrial strategy plans will have set alarm bells ringing. It was a missed opportunity to talk up British skills and to secure a long-term future for our ship yards.

Our members in Prospect are very familiar with the challenges that lie ahead of them. These dedicated employees are dealing with the dual challenges of plugging a £20 billion funding “black hole” while trying to maintain the UK’s global defence position.

READ MORE: Army could stay in Germany to counter Russian aggression

By failing to provide specific detail on funding the government is implicitly stating that defence is low down the political agenda. This needs to change.

Ministers should make a swift decision on the procurement process for five new Type 31e frigates.

Prospect supports the government’s plan to build these in a modular fashion, spreading the work around the UK. Britain has the naval yards that can build these ships, but the clock is ticking.

Ministers need to take rapid action to secure jobs and keep the navy served with the best infrastructure. These actions would demonstrate a renewed commitment to the armed forces. The government could provide even more stability by committing to a building the new fleet solid support ships in the UK instead of sending the work to South Korea. The government should balance the value of sending taxpayers money abroad against generating regional economies by awarding contracts to UK based companies especially if state subsidies are used to support international competitors. There should be a level playing field

READ MORE: Leader comment: The Great Powers are playing a dangerous game

By backing British shipbuilding, the government would be showing how seriously it takes defence both at home and to the rest of the world.

Underlying all of this is the urgent need to increase the proportion of our GDP we spend on keeping our country safe. World Bank figures show that since the end of the Cold War, defence spending has averaged at 2.4 per cent of GDP, but now stands at just 1.8 per cent, failing even to meet the minimum Nato requirement.

The UK’s capacity to build its own equipment is absolutely vital. The benefits are not only to the armed forces, but also to the wider UK economy. The defence sector directly employs 142,000 staff and, between 2010-14, the UK benefitted from an average of £7.7bn in exports. If we do not reverse the current trajectory of defence spending then our sovereign capability in defence is at risk.

It is time for the government to listen to the armed forces, the industry, the workforce, the public and their own MPs and do what is right for the defence industry and for Britain. 
l Mike Clancy is general ­secretary of engineering and defence union Prospect

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Mike Clancy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4669399.1516703838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4669399.1516703838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Govan shipyard on the Clyde. (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Govan shipyard on the Clyde. (Picture: Phil Wilkinson)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4669399.1516703838!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/hannah-utley-what-a-drama-how-conversation-starters-can-build-real-connections-1-4668138","id":"1.4668138","articleHeadline": "Hannah Utley: What a drama! How conversation starters can build real connections","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516690833000 ,"articleLead": "

I spent my first day as ­creative learning officer at Macrobert Arts Centre in Sauchie Hall, where members of the ­community were exploring the theme of protest with artist Philip Gurrey and drama practitioner Lucy Wild – all inspired by a production called Coal (Gary Clarke Company).

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668136.1516618739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "5 Soldiers by the Rosie Kay Dance Company, pictured at Edinburgh Castle by Colin Hattersley"} ,"articleBody": "

It was fantastic to see members of the community, both young and old, coming together to engage with these activities and inspiring to see the ­genuine interest and passion they felt.

This was my introduction to the ‘conversation starter’ approach that Macrobert Arts Centre has been using since Julie Ellen took up ­leadership in 2015. Each season, a production is placed at the heart of a programme of activities that has real relevance for different people and communities across the Forth Valley.

We don’t want the engagement with these communities to be a one-off event. We want the conversations to continue to develop over time and to grow into real connections and ­relationships. In the case of Coal, a chorus of local women played the miners’ wives in the production, real roles not just bit parts; and recorded voices and artwork from local ­people formed part of a specially-commissioned exhibition by artist Philip Gurrey.

As part of this project, I also had the chance to visit the Cowie ­Miner’s ­Welfare Club with Gary Clarke, ­witnessing at first-hand the pride this community held in their mining tradition and the excitement they felt at seeing their stories on stage. Those few hours in Cowie have stayed with me and continue to remind me of the importance of this kind of work.

I’m about to start a project that will reinvigorate some of the relationships started by the very first ‘conversation starter’ focused around Rosie Kay’s 5 Soldiers: The Body is the Frontline, in 2016. Working in partnership with the Armed Services Advice Project (ASAP), Stand Easy Productions and the Royal Caledonian Education Trust, we’re creating education resources for schools and delivering a practical and intensive drama project with local veterans.

Through this project we will engage with those veterans who are most isolated and disconnected with their local community, and wouldn’t ­otherwise even consider getting involved with the arts.

5 Soldiers asked the questions ‘How much physical risk would I take to do what I care most about?’ and ‘Who am I if I can’t do that thing?’. These questions are at the heart of what we will be exploring with the participants. We hope to enable them to take the first steps towards finding their place as a ‘civvie’ and making sense of their lives and community through this new lens.

I hope that through this project we’ll be able to give something back to ­people who have made huge personal and physical sacrifices for their local community and the nation. We’ll be working to build relationships with these veterans that open up other opportunities for them.

We are not being idealistic, we realise that engaging with such a hard to reach group will pose huge challenges. However, by working with experienced partners such as ASAP and Stand Easy, I hope we will be able to build something special which has a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of the participants. I believe the true power of participatory arts is in the way that it not only enriches our lives but also enables us to undergo a transformation – broadening our horizons and allowing us to become more confident, self-assured individuals with a strong sense of our own worth and importance.

The combination of drama with practical skills aims to help the ­veterans engage with the support available to them. Our key objective for this project is to enhance participants’ understanding of their place as civilians, within society, and to build positive, lasting relationships.

Hannah Uttley is creative learning officer at Macrobert Arts Centre.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4668136.1516618739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668136.1516618739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "5 Soldiers by the Rosie Kay Dance Company, pictured at Edinburgh Castle by Colin Hattersley","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "5 Soldiers by the Rosie Kay Dance Company, pictured at Edinburgh Castle by Colin Hattersley","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4668136.1516618739!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4668137.1516618742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668137.1516618742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Hannah Uttley, Creative Learning Officer at MacRoberts Arts Centre","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Hannah Uttley, Creative Learning Officer at MacRoberts Arts Centre","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4668137.1516618742!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/darren-mcgarvey-comparing-sturgeon-to-thatcher-is-deeply-offensive-1-4668790","id":"1.4668790","articleHeadline": "Darren McGarvey: Comparing Sturgeon to Thatcher is deeply offensive","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516687200000 ,"articleLead": "

Richard Leonard’s comparison of Nicola Sturgeon and Margaret Thatcher is absurd; one gave us baby boxes, the other corpses with needles in their arms, writes Darren McGarvey.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668789.1516643122!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard abandoned all reason in comparing Sturgeon to Thatcher, says Darren McGarvey Picture by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)"} ,"articleBody": "

According to Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, he has “never witnessed, since the days of Margaret Thatcher, a political leader that was so divisive”.

Given the sheer volume of ­divisive leaders across these islands, that have arisen and fallen since the Thatcher years, Leonard could ­really have been talking about ­anyone.

Was he referring to Tony Blair, who divided the country over the Iraq War, a conflict in which ­hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians were killed and over which many looming questions remain? Perhaps it was a nod to Gordon Brown’s patchy stewardship of the UK economy as Prime Minister, when he was undone by a lot of his own decisions in his ­previous role as Chancellor, including deregulation (and Brown-nosing) of the financial sector. Then again, he may have been talking about David Cameron, who gambled the farm to appease the nut-jobs in his own ­party, and lost it all spectacularly when Britain voted to leave the EU.

But no, Leonard did, in fact, describe First Minister Nicola ­Sturgeon as the most divisive leader since Thatcher during an appearance on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland show.

Granted, Sturgeon is not exactly flavour of the month. Her decline in popularity can be traced directly back to her decision to hitch a ­second referendum onto the ­omnishambles that is Brexit.

That political rush of blood to the head, in the chaotic aftermath of the referendum on EU membership, may yet go down as the moment the SNP – at that time the most powerful force in Scottish political history – began its slow, inevitable decline. Then again, it might not.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon is ‘most divisive UK politician since Margaret Thatcher’

And if one thing is sure to raise questions over Leonard’s judgement, amid talk of a Scottish Labour revival, it’s an absurd comparison between the First Minister and the socially corrosive and altogether toxic legacy of the late Margaret Thatcher. What is such a ridiculous remark supposed to achieve, ­Richard? Such a comparison is obscene in its stupidity. In the next few weeks, I’ll be applying for a baby box for my daughter who is due in April. In that box, which also functions as a cot, I will find months’ worth of useful items, including clothes, muslin cloths, a travel changing mat, an ear thermometer and even a wee thing that helps me check the temperature of my new-born’s milk without having to touch it. The only thing that divided ­people when it came to baby boxes was the fact that every family expecting a baby was to receive one.

Now let’s rewind to the year I was born: 1984. With Thatcherism in full swing, my community became an incubator for crime, violence and alcohol and substance misuse. The dream of the housing scheme – an ambitious social programme designed to raise the quality of life for thousands of families – quickly turned into a living nightmare.

Thatcher’s radioactive social and fiscal policies, whether ­taking an axe to the only industries which provided a route out of poverty, guinea-pigging regressive ­taxation on the poor or, in 1971, snatching free school milk from the hands of working-class children revealed one thing: her entire ­posture towards the poor and ­vulnerable was cold, ill-considered and detached. Thatcherism led to a generation of children growing up in alcholic homes, in communities they were deeply ashamed of, in conditions of chronic psychosocial stress so severe that it morally deformed many of them.

READ MORE: Sturgeon ‘bullying like Thatcher’, says Labour

Thatcher, her spineless, servile lackeys, and their collective social ineptitude, all but gutted these ­communities of their morale and dignity. Then, having ripped out every means by which people may lift themselves up, Thatcher turned around, with a grin on her face, and smugly told those same communities to take responsibility – to the rapturous delight of the very small cross-section of the population who stood to benefit from such lunacy.

Those were the years when being working class, rather than a mark of pride, became a source of shame. Something you’d happily get into debt attempting to conceal, while numbing yourself to the reality of social immobility by indulging the slew of toxic coping strategies now provided by the new, hyper-intuitive neoliberal cathedral lurking on the edge of your housing-scheme like a hungry monster.

American-style malls, which have come to replace youth clubs, churches and libraries as the heart of working-class communities, now function as social mobility simulators, where people can purchase the fleeting illusion of moving up the ladder, while fully submerged in economic quicksand.

The River Clyde, once a global symbol of industrial prowess and opportunity, is now most notable as the murky, watery grave many of the city’s inhabitants will choose to abbreviate their lives. A river lined by gated, trend-ridden housing, ­hypnotic 24-hour casinos and American diner food most people can’t afford to access.

Sturgeon is a lot of things, and nationalism (of all kinds) can ­certainly cause division, but this is surely a question of scale. ­Comparing the First Minister of Scotland to Thatcher is not only wrong and absurd, but also deeply offensive. Sturgeon gave us baby boxes, reversed the bedroom tax and has pledged to create a fairer social security system, in consultation with people who have experience of welfare. Thatcher gave us corpses with needles hanging out of their arms and a generation of traumatised children who had to be raised by grandparents. Get a grip.

Such a comparison could only be possible if you’ve abandoned all reason, in pursuit of a cheap political point. Therefore, I implore those of you who found yourself nodding in agreement when you read Leonard’s remarks, to reconsider their implications. And to all the Thatcherites out there, spitting teeth in your tea at the thought of the Iron Lady’s legacy being tarnished, I look forward to seeing you in hell.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Darren McGarvey"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4668789.1516643122!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668789.1516643122!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Richard Leonard abandoned all reason in comparing Sturgeon to Thatcher, says Darren McGarvey Picture by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Richard Leonard abandoned all reason in comparing Sturgeon to Thatcher, says Darren McGarvey Picture by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4668789.1516643122!/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/uk/army-could-stay-in-germany-to-counter-russian-aggression-1-4668953","id":"1.4668953","articleHeadline": "Army could stay in Germany to counter Russian aggression","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516659678000 ,"articleLead": "

The head of the British Army has paved the way for a potential U-turn on the decision to pull back troops from Germany owing to the growing threat of Russian aggression.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668952.1516659702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Nick Carter. Picture: Getty Images."} ,"articleBody": "

General Sir Nick Carter highlighted how the Kremlin, in building an increasingly aggressive and expeditionary force, already boasts capabilities the UK would struggle to match.

And he said that Britain would need to prepare to “fight the war we might have to fight” as he said hostilities from ­Moscow could be initiated sooner than expected.

Under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, all British troops in Germany were earmarked for recall back to the UK, with the final units set to leave the county in 2019 and the bases there closed.

But Gen Carter said that when it comes to threats, it is important to recognise that “readiness is about speed of recognition, speed of decision-making and speed of assembly”.

He said the Army was testing the ability to deploy over land by using road and rail, but that it was “also important to stress the need for a forward mounting base”.

“Therefore we are actively examining the retention of our infrastructure in Germany, where we store our vehicles in Ayrshire Barracks in Rheindahlen, and our training facilities in Sennelager, as well as our heavy equipment transporters that are based there, and our stockpiling and ammunition storage,” he revealed.

To a packed room at the Royal United Services Institute in London for his speech yesterday, Gen Carter also showed a Russian military propaganda video that detailed their vast equipment and ammunition.

He said it would have to be accepted that the three-minute video is “information warfare at its best” and that it showed the Kremlin has an “eye watering quantity of capability”.

Gen Carter said he did want to suggest that Russia would go to war in the traditional sense, but that Moscow “could initiate hostilities sooner than we expect”.

“I don’t think it will start with little green men, it will start with something we don’t expect. We should not take what we have seen so far as a template for the future,” he added.

Gen Carter also stressed how the UK needs to “prepare ourselves to fight the war we might have to fight”.

“I think it is an important point, because in being prepared to fight the war we might have to fight, there is a sporting chance that we will prevent it from happening,” he added. “And I think the 100th anniversary of World War One gives us the great chance to actually think about what the war might look like.”

The 58-year-old highlighted how Russia had used the conflict in Syria to “develop an expeditionary capability”.

And he said that as an ally of Bashar al-Assad, Moscow had used the war to “combat-test their long range strike missiles and over 150 new weapons and items of equipment”.

Gen Carter also stressed that Britain would have to “take notice of what is going on around us” or that the ability by the UK to take action would be “massively constrained”.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4668952.1516659702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668952.1516659702!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Sir Nick Carter. Picture: Getty Images.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Sir Nick Carter. Picture: Getty Images.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4668952.1516659702!/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/keith-brown-superfast-broadband-for-all-scots-is-coming-1-4668510","id":"1.4668510","articleHeadline": "Keith Brown: Superfast broadband for all Scots is coming","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516632252000 ,"articleLead": "

In an age of burgeoning technological advancements, digital connectivity is playing an increasingly influential role in Scotland’s economic success, writes Keith Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668509.1516632250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many tasks are now being performed over the internet, so a functioning connection is important (Picture: PA)"} ,"articleBody": "

In homes and offices, connecting to the web and social media via reliable and efficient broadband is fast becoming essential for success and helps deliver inclusive economic growth. It also helps businesses in rural and urban areas to innovate and grow, prepares young people for tomorrow’s workplace and supports the growth of a skilled workforce fit for the digital century.

Investment is key, and our programme – run by my Cabinet colleague Fergus Ewing – to upgrade Scotland’s fibre broadband network is leading the way, with an ambition to ensure all parts of Scotland are covered. The latest figures are currently being assured but we shortly expect to confirm that our Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme achieved its target of extending fibre broadband access to 95% of homes and premises by the end of 2017.

READ MORE: Scottish Budget 2017: £600 million for broadband expansion

However our job is not yet done, as still too many of our rural communities remain with limited or no broadband access. We therefore announced the single largest public investment ever made in a UK broadband project – some £600 million through the ‘Reaching 100%’ project. This investment is targeted more specifically at rural and remote Scotland, ensuring that every home and business across Scotland will be able to access superfast broadband by 2021.

READ MORE: Worst areas in Britain for broadband speed all in Scotland

It is a commitment, and a programme, entirely unique to Scotland. It is a choice the Scottish Government has made – superfast broadband for all. No other part of the UK has matched our ambition. Put in context, the Scottish Government’s £600m investment is more than three times larger than that of Westminster’s Fibre Fund which will cover the whole of the UK, and Scotland’s impressive progress is underlined by Ofcom’s figures showing we have progressed faster in extending superfast broadband access than any other UK nation. Had we not aimed high and chosen a path best suited to our particular broadband needs, swathes of rural Scotland would be left in the economic slow-lane.

••••••

Just as investment is important for digital connectivity, the same is true for transport.

Scotland’s economy from north to south, east to west, and urban to rural – demands faster, more reliable physical and digital connections to better link people and places right across the country. The march of technology is at times breathtaking, and envisaging a world even more connected in the years ahead leaves heads spinning.

I believe that not only must Scotland keep up with the pace of change, it must lead it. So investment in both physical and digital connectivity is crucial for our future economic prosperity. Transport is at the very heart of providing the physical infrastructure needed to help support economic growth and we have shown we possess in spades the foresight and ambition to deliver. But that ambition must be married to investment, and we have set the bar high.

Having pumped £20 billion into transport projects over the last decade to help arrest years of under-investment by previous governments, transformative transport schemes have been delivered on our watch that will better connect economic hubs, big and small, with improved physical links.

Urban and rural bottlenecks, so often ignored, have been unblocked. The M74 ‘Missing link’ scheme which lay on a planning table for decades has been delivered by the Scottish Government. So too has the M80 upgrade which has improved strategic road connections between Glasgow and Stirling and beyond. The £500 million improvements to the motorway network around Glasgow which opened to traffic last year is now delivering journey time improvements of up to 20 minutes, with a new interchange at Raith alleviating tailbacks which so often frustrated drivers during peak times. After ten years of planning and construction, our flagship £1.35 billion Queensferry Crossing has been delivered, referred to by the World Economic Forum as a “stunning structure”, the Crossing will bring benefits to road users and businesses around our capital and across the region for generations to come.

2018 will be the defining year for the £745m Aberdeen bypass as it moves into its final phases of construction, with £6 billion of economic benefits and 14,000 new jobs to be realised over the next 30 years. When opened, the north east will finally get the road Scotland’s oil and gas capital deserves – a network of 128 kilometres new dual carriageway, side roads and access roads, 75 new bridges, 70 new culverts, two major river crossings, two wildlife crossings, and a railway bridge – all helping to reduce congestion around the city, and improving journey times around the region.

Critically important rural transport improvements which benefit local communities have been delivered across the country – from the Crianlarich bypass on the A82 which has halved traffic in the town, to a new bypass at Mosstodloch on the A96

which has improved traffic flow along the route. Numerous other smaller road schemes have been delivered right across the country each playing their part in connecting businesses to the marketplace and people to their place of work or leisure, whilst helping unlock Scotland’s economic potential.

Looking to the future and matching ambition with major transport plans, we are pressing ahead to dual both the A9 from Perth to Inverness, and the A96 from Inverness to Aberdeen, collectively some 160 kilometres of upgraded road. The first section of the A9 dualling programme is finished, and this year we expect a major section between Birnam and Luncarty to begin construction. Design work on the A96 is pressing ahead and when work on both dualling schemes is completed, we will

have invested around £6 billion more in our strategic road network, finally connecting all seven of our cities by motorway or dual carriageway.

We want to see more people opt for the train and have invested nearly £8 billion on rail since 2007 to enhance services and upgrade infrastructure. We returned rail services to the Borders for the first time in nearly 50 years, have re-opened the Stirling-Alloa- Kincardine line, and are now operating the revitalised Airdrie-Bathgate line and its new stations. We have increased daily services across Scotland to 2,300 with a further 200 from next year. 160 extra carriages have been added to ScotRail’s fleet with an additional 200 to follow. We are electrifying the rail network across the central belt, and have added 76 kilometres of new track across the country.

Work is progressing well on rail enhancements on the Aberdeen to Inverness line and Highland mainline. The first phase of work on the Aberdeen and Inverness line improvements– the relocation of Forres station, platform extensions at Elgin, and signalling upgrades - are complete, with the next stage on the Aberdeen to Inverurie & Insch section now under way – paving the way for faster journeys and more frequent services. The second phase of Highland mainline enhancements, to be

delivered next year, will see passengers benefit from the introduction of a fleet of High Speed Trains, a new timetable of hourly services in both directions between Perth and Inverness with average reductions of around ten minutes, and more

efficient freight operations that better respond to the demand from freight customers.

Our track record on rail alongside our on-going future investment will truly transform the rail network and give passengers and freight users across rural and urban Scotland the best railway they’ve ever had.

Over £200 million is being invested on the National Concessionary Travel Scheme, with widened entitlement that will allow free journeys anywhere in Scotland – from John O’Groats to Jedburgh, or Stranraer to Stonehaven. We have also doubled our investment in active travel to £80 million, having already delivered over 500 kilometres of new walking and cycling infrastructure and over 150 kilometres more resurfaced - opening up cycling and walking activities to more communities.  We’re investing over £180 million this year alone in ferries, and £60 million on lifeline air services - better connecting our island and remote communities with local and national economic centres. Transport makes the physical connections between rural and the urban environments, so our strategic and substantive investment is vital for Scotland’s prosperity.

*******

Our investments in physical and digital connectivity are bringing people and places closer together whilst transforming our economic prospects. Our investments are driving innovation and making Scotland more competitive in the 21st century. They are supporting and creating thousands of jobs and new skills. They are creating opportunity and breeding confidence for others to invest in Scotland and its people. They are also better connecting Scotland when it has never been more important to be better connected.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Keith Brown"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4668509.1516632250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4668509.1516632250!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many tasks are now being performed over the internet, so a functioning connection is important (Picture: PA)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many tasks are now being performed over the internet, so a functioning connection is important (Picture: PA)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4668509.1516632250!/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/kirsty-gunn-women-need-to-be-brave-on-streets-not-just-say-me-too-1-4666417","id":"1.4666417","articleHeadline": "Kirsty Gunn: Women need to be brave on streets, not just say ‘me too’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516600800000 ,"articleLead": "

Women are tricky. Men are. We’re tricky to ourselves, tricky to each other. Though we do everything we can to close the gap between genders – thinking as feminists, thinking ethics, politics, sexuality and gender, all in terms of a social norm that might exist that would put all issues of domination and subjection to rights, still the trickiness is there all the same.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666416.1516377669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In each situation, in an office, in a room, on the street, women must stand up for themselves. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto"} ,"articleBody": "

We’re different, is the trouble, in all kinds of ways, and though that difference may become increasingly flattened out as the heterosexual norm is eased and we embrace, more and more, a wider definition of masculinity and femininity, there are still the inevitabilities of animal behaviour, chromosomes, the fact that at the end of the day we’re all bodies together in a room.

The body no one has wanted to be next to recently, of course, in a hotel room or in a production suite, is Harvey Weinstein’s. His wife wanted to be, we might assume – there are the children, after all, that the two of them had together, and

the great big Hollywood house and lifestyle that they maintained which would have kept them all pretty close. And I suppose there are others, too, family and friends who’d known him for a long time and knew what he was like, but, generally, people like Harvey Weinstein are pretty hard to take.

READ MORE: Margaret Renkl: The raw power of saying #MeToo

Whether you’re a man or a woman, you have to be in for the long haul – with that wedding ring and divorce settlement in mind, or a job prospect, or a long-term professional relationship that’s going to be of advantage to you in all kinds of ways – if you are to put up with the sorts of behaviours that this kind of particular individual likes to put about the place. Which is why I am wondering why all those women climbed into black frocks at the Golden Globe Awards this month. “Why now?” was my first thought. Why “Me Too” at this late stage in the proceedings, when the systematic abuse of women that has been part of the Hollywood story from the beginning must have been something they were aware of from the moment they first said “I want to be in the movies”? Whether we’re talking about the casting couch of the big studios back in the 1920s, the sexual peccadillos of ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle or the breast-obsessed Howard Hughes, through to the victimisation of Marilyn Monroe and so on and so on and so on, right up to the present day, with these latest, frightful allegations, there’s nothing new about the story of the powerful, career-brokering movie producer who wants all the cakes in the shop and to eat them, one by one.

READ MORE: Why democracy can’t tolerate sexual lies and hypocrisy

I also thought, looking at the pictures of the ceremony – those rail-thin actresses in various iterations of designer kit, some dresses more revealing and figure-hugging than others, so many, with their big eyes and their big hair, straight out of a Disney film – why we should be considering the ghastly actions of one old jerk as a focus for feminist ire? Rather, I mean, than taking a wider view of an industry – and indeed, a social norm – that has it that women, in general, who aren’t of a certain proportion or appearance or age are somehow invisible?

Yes, there was Meryl and Oprah and Emma, in all their wise and wonderful glory, but on the whole the American movie industry has Snow White and Little Princess fixed as the ideal archetypes, not real, live, heaving, breathing women who are over 43. Where, too, in the pictures were the directors who are women, or producers, for that matter? Why is it only old Harvey, sitting squat as a toad on the top of the glass ceiling while all the pretty women of his films are trapped beneath? As so many women remain trapped, in whatever jobs they try to hold down – whether stacking shelves at a supermarket or maintaining the professional positions they’ve won through the applications of their intellects, education and hard, hard work.

A friend of mine, who’s a barrister and mother of three, talks about the institutional sexism that prevails in her “industry”. The “low-level abuse”, as she puts it, is “always just under the radar, so the men who are responsible can throw their hands in the air if you call them on it, and say, ‘it was just a joke...’”. Of course these men are too clever to come right out and admit that they think their female colleagues are really “just girls”, she says. Professional people are smart; they know how to cover their tracks. But that doesn’t mean the ongoing relegation to the margins that being the only woman in the room brings, or the continued assumptions that patriarchal behaviour is best doesn’t have an effect on how all women everywhere think of their work, their role in society, and their self esteem. What we need to do, to my mind, is stand up for ourselves one by one, in our own terms, in our own way.

Make individual judgments and act on them to keep ourselves protected and safe. That wolf whistle in the street? Call it out. The inappropriate comment from the boss at work? Step on it. Even if he comes back at you with the usual: “Oh, lighten up, why don’t you?” If you’re an actress wanting a job, or a woman wanting to keep hers … still, step on it. “Me Too” doesn’t speak loud enough, to my mind. It’s hiding in a group. Women have to be brave. In each situation, in a street, in an office, in a room. we’re on our own.

The men who batter women and rape them and kill them don’t start off that way. They start off by saying, “Come on, darling. I didn’t mean it. It was just a joke.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Kirsty Gunn"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666416.1516377669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666416.1516377669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "In each situation, in an office, in a room, on the street, women must stand up for themselves. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "In each situation, in an office, in a room, on the street, women must stand up for themselves. Picture: Getty/iStockphoto","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666416.1516377669!/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/uk/queen-elizabeth-what-will-happen-when-the-monarch-dies-1-4667401","id":"1.4667401","articleHeadline": "Queen Elizabeth - What will happen when the monarch dies?","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516525818000 ,"articleLead": "

While the monarchy may divide opinion, what happens when our monarch dies?

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We need to talk about Elizabeth. There’s a conversation taking place in secret – in rooms just off the corridors of power – about what happens when Her Majesty The Queen dies, as all must sadly do. “I can’t talk about this publicly,” one of those involved told me a while ago.

“We’re not thinking about what happens next. It would be improper to do so while the Sovereign is alive. But if we were to do so, it might look something like this.”

The high-ranking figure looked down at notes they would have to deny ever making.

READ MORE: Queen pays tribute to Duke of Edinburgh in Christmas message

But lately there has been a shift in mood. Elizabeth Windsor is 91 years of age now, it will be 65 years since her coronation this June. Without really realising it, we are being prepared for regime change.

The celebrations of her Golden and Diamond jubilee have provided a chance for the nation to say a long, grateful goodbye.

Netflix series The Crown has given British viewers a chance to understand the pressures that were placed on her so young and to feel a new sympathy for a woman who has often otherwise seemed distant.

The real Elizabeth Both have helped alter perceptions but then suddenly at the weekend the real Queen intervened with an extremely rare interview. By looking back at her own Coronation, she inevitably raised the subject of the next one, the event that none of those who serve her will ever admit to talking about.

Elizabeth Windsor is an expert at symbolism, having skilfully positioned herself in recent years as the nation’s Granny. Having such photogenic grandsons helps, and it’s a big year for them. William and Kate will have another baby in April and the following month Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle – the divorced, American mixed-race actor whose entry into the family will reboot the House of Windsor.

Meanwhile, the actual heir to the throne is keeping a low profile. Prince Charles fulfilled more than 500 engagements last year but made few (if any) startling interventions into politics, which is unusual for him.

There are increasing signs of other people getting ready for change, too.

“The chat has broken surface rather more,” says Dr Bob Morris of the Constitutional Unit at University College London.

He points for example at the website of the Privy Council, that grand gathering of advisors to the Queen, which has recently posted a remarkably detailed account of what it will do when she dies.

The next King

Within hours, the next king – presumably Charles, still grieving – will stand before an emergency gathering of peers, MPs, archbishops and other Privy Councillors to make the Oath of Accession, swearing to uphold the kingdom and “inviolably preserve and maintain the Settlement of the true Protestant religion”.

He won’t have a choice about that, it’s the law.

Separately, details have emerged of Operation London Bridge, a protocol beginning with news of the death being passed from palace to Downing Street with the words, “London Bridge is down.” A footman will pin up a notice edged in black on the gates of Buckingham Palace, even as the Press Association tells the world electronically.

The BBC will switch to the national anthem, sombre music and news programmes hosted by presenters in black.

But what happens afterwards largely remains secret, even though a group led by the Duke of Norfolk has been meeting to discuss this for over a decade, under the code name Operation Golden Orb. They won’t say anything publicly, of course, but the group is planning an event with the potential to redefine us as a nation. The last Coronation was an ostentatious declaration that post-war Britain still had power and glamour, with 8,000 guests – many in ermine – enduring a three-hour service.

The next will be half as long, with a much smaller but more inclusive guest list and far less bling. “The 1953 Coronation was the last imperial hurrah,” says Dr Morris. “I can’t see we would put the same sort of resources into the next one.”

The budget will depend on who is in power – Jeremy Corbyn might have strong ideas, for example – but for now the politicians are leaving others to think about it.

“My understanding is that the Queen herself, being a very pragmatic lady, realises there is going to be concern about this at some point,” says Dr Morris.

Prince Charles insists that he has no part in the planning; but given how forthright she was on Sunday’s programme, it would be extraordinary if the Queen had not at least sought to give her own personal advice.

The other people with a stake in this are the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster Abbey, who will write and host the service. The ancient Coronation liturgy expresses a long-held deal between the Church of England and the Crown.

“We’ll declare you to have been appointed by God, you swear to preserve our unique rights and privileges,” is what it says in so many words.

No other faiths were allowed near the service in 1953. That just won’t wash this time, which is why the senior leadership of the Church has privately accepted the need to “involve” other faiths in the Coronation, breaking with a millennium of tradition.

The other people with a stake in this are the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster Abbey, who will write and host the service. The ancient Coronation liturgy expresses a long-held deal between the Church of England and the Crown.

“We’ll declare you to have been appointed by God, you swear to preserve our unique rights and privileges,” is what it says in so many words.

No other faiths were allowed near the service in 1953. That just won’t wash this time, which is why the senior leadership of the Church has privately accepted the need to “involve” other faiths in the Coronation, breaking with a millennium of tradition.

For now, even republicans have to admire the dignity and sense of duty with which the Queen has done her job. Many others feel a genuine, gratitude and warmth towards her. Servants of the Crown will hope to move fast to install the new King while memory of that warmth remains strong. The Queen has been a constant presence in almost all our lives.

She’s seen off Stalin, Churchill, Thatcher, Reagan, Gorbachev and all the rest and allowed herself to become a symbol of values that now seem on the verge of being lost. Whatever you think of them or her, the death of Queen Elizabeth will leave a huge hole in national life and raise questions about who we are.

Those who want to keep the Crown in place are already talking about that, among themselves. Perhaps the rest of us should be too.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "COLE MORETON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4667400.1516525815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4667400.1516525815!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Her Majesty The Queen. Picture; PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Her Majesty The Queen. Picture; PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4667400.1516525815!/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/uk/protest-held-over-ongoing-closure-of-vital-children-s-ward-1-4666760","id":"1.4666760","articleHeadline": "Protest held over ongoing closure of vital children’s ward","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428089000 ,"articleLead": "

Parents and carers held a protest outside a hospital yesterday over the continued closure of a children’s ward to in-patients who have been seen out of hours.

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The demonstration at St John’s Hospital in Livingston called on the Scottish Government and NHS Lothian to sort out staffing issues that have led to the vital ward being closed for more than 200 days.

This has meant that more than 400 children from West Lothian have not been treated locally and have had to travel through to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. The ward, which has been closed for out of hours inpatients since July last year, was hit by similar summer shutdowns in 2012 and 2015.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said the situation has been going on for six years and called on NHS Lothian and the Scottish Government to sort out the problem.

He said: “This demonstration today has come about because parents of children who have had to use this service are frustrated and angry that there appears to be no resolution to this problem. It has been going on for six years with no end in sight and only recently we have discovered that since 7 July a total of 414 children have had to be transferred out of hours to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. They should have been treated in their own hospital. NHS Lothian and the SNP government must know bring about a plan to end this scandal.”

The latest update comes after the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health published a second review into the service in October and warned there was no “quick fix” to the fragile rota.

The expert body also endorsed NHS Lothian’s decision to temporarily suspend inpatient services in order to maintain safe facilities for children and it said the service should only resume once the extra staff are recruited or trained.

The health board have recruited two staff since the end of 2017 and are looking to recruit more consultants.

Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer of Acute Services, NHS Lothian, said the latest additions would not immediately solve the issues around staffing.

She addded: “We last updated in October and we are really keen families and patients know exactly what is happening in paediatric services in St John’s Hospital. This is a really positive move. We have our sixth consultant joining the team and we have made an offer to another clinician which means seven new consultant posts have been filled.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "St John's Hospital in Livingston. Picture: Ian Georgeson","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666759.1516403631!/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/stephen-jardine-veganism-and-brexit-show-how-divided-we-are-1-4666665","id":"1.4666665","articleHeadline": "Stephen Jardine: Veganism and Brexit show how divided we are","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

Vegans and the rest are further apart than Remainers and Brexiteers, says Stephen Jardine.

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This time last January, things were going so well. For a month I switched to a vegetarian diet to test the impact on someone who has always been a happy carnivore. By this stage I was already enjoying the experience and feeling the benefits and by the end of the month, I’d decided to cutback my meat consumption permanently.

Given that positive experience, this year I decided to go the whole hog, or rather mung bean, and embrace Veganuary. After last year, just how hard could it be? The answer is, too hard for me.

It didn’t begin well. At the start of the January I emptied the fridge and then stocked it with vegetables, nut butter, hummus and other vegan-approved foods. I then stepped back and realised, there was actually nothing I really wanted to eat. Putting that down to years of conditioning by the meat industry, I turned instead to the groaning shop shelves of vegan snack and meals. While they kept hunger at bay, I couldn’t help but think of all the things I would rather be eating.

One week in, I downloaded some vegan recipes and cooked roast vegetable salads, coconut curries, baked sweet potatoes and black bean burgers. Everything was fine but it wasn’t delicious and the thought of eating food like that for the rest of my life filled me with more than the January blues. But it wasn’t the food that finished off Veganuary for me, not even the vegan cheese, which deserves a special place in hell.

It was not what you eat but who you are. When you say you are trying vegetarianism, most people just want to know how it’s going. Say vegan and the frequent reaction is a narrowing of the eyes and simple question, why?

READ MORE: Is Edinburgh becoming Scotland’s vegan capital?

If you thought the gap between Remainers and Brexiteers was wide, it is nothing compared to the divide between Vegans and the rest. “How do you know if someone is vegan? They will tell you,” goes the old joke. There is a suspicion veganism and insufferable smugness are too closely related. You don’t have to look further than the Veganuary website and it’s claim that 23,831 animals will be saved as a result of the initiative. That probably sits alongside the promise of £350 million of EU cash for the NHS in terms of spurious fantasy.

The reality is, no animals are saved by 60,000 extra people eating vegan in January. The global meat industry will keep on turning and for every person turning their back on a lamb chop, another is ready to pick up the cutlery.

READ MORE: Vegans are going wild for vegan square sausage

In terms of how our industrial food system operates, veganism changes virtually nothing. However that doesn’t make it wrong. Once you top up your vitamins to avoid any deficiency, there is plenty of evidence it’s a healthy diet. And vegans can be assured they are not helping to perpetuate the industrial food.

There is a way to bridge the divide between vegans and the rest – through part-time approaches like VB6. It involves eating vegan during the day then whatever you want after 6pm. A mass adoption of that more achievable goal would be much more likely to impact on the meat trade but it would also involve some understanding on either side of the vegan debate and that still seems to be unpalatable.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Stephen Jardine"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A green salad with spinach, quinoa, walnuts and dried cranberries (Picture: Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A green salad with spinach, quinoa, walnuts and dried cranberries (Picture: Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666664.1516391197!/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/jane-bradley-toxic-plastic-waste-is-returning-from-sea-to-poison-us-1-4666669","id":"1.4666669","articleHeadline": "Jane Bradley: Toxic plastic waste is returning from sea to poison us","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

Wet wipes, straws and ‘mermaids’ tears’: Jane Bradley on the marine plastic epidemic that’s poisoning our food.

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‘Ohhhh, it’s garbage,” said the fresh-faced American tourist, clearly relieved to realise that the giant bags we were lugging onto Cramond promenade did not actually contain dead bodies.

His expression changed and he looked us straight in the eye, in that sincere way that only Americans can. “I thank you,” he said.

It was a freezing Saturday morning and while most of you were probably happily tucked up your beds, I was out in my gardening gloves and a woolly hat, plucking revolting items of sewage from the beach. I can’t claim a great gesture of altriusm: my far more motivated friend had suggested we take part in a beach clean and with a new year’s resolution to say yes to as many things as possible, I had agreed.

I was glad I did. Walking along the seafront before the clean up, I’d thought the beach hadn’t looked too bad, from a distance. What I had expected to find was litter left by people who had enjoyed summer picnics on the sand a few months ago. A discarded drinks can, maybe, a couple of chocolate bar wrappers. Bright-coloured pieces of litter which would have been obvious to the naked eye, perhaps slightly faded by their time in the sun.

On closer inspection, however, while a few bits of dropped packaging were indeed lurking among the rockpools, it was sewage waste which was the major culprit, discharged – somehow – into the sea and washed straight up onto the beach. Cramond, in north-west Edinburgh, is particularly bad, apparently, an issue which Scottish Water is currently investigating to pinpoint why so much debris washes up on the beach there.

They have, according to the Marine Conservation Society (MCS), which coordinated the clean-up, checked sewage pipes in the area and have found no problem. Yet, there is no doubt that a problem exists, somewhere. The evidence is all over the beach.

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: Action against climate change could be David Attenborough’s lasting legacy

We picked up thousands of wet wipes. There were huge clumps of the things, snagged in among seaweed and peppered with plastic cotton bud sticks, the kind that the Scottish Government thankfully banned last week. When I heard the news of the ban, I have to say I was surprised that they had chosen to focus on cotton buds. I’ve never bought them in my life, I’m not sure I know anyone who has, so the fact that they were apparently littering our seas in their tiny, stick-y glory was news to me.

Yet they are. Blue ones, white ones, yellow ones. They wash up on the beach in Cramond with alarming regularity. An image from American wildlife photographer Justin Hofmann, part of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which opened at the National Museum of Scotland yesterday, offers a chilling insight into the impact of these items. His photograph shows a tiny sea horse, its tail wrapped around a pink cotton bud stick as it swims through the ocean. Its title is ‘Sewage Surfer’.

READ MORE: Theresa May vows to eliminate avoidable plastic waste in 25 years

While the 88 volunteers at the clean-up were spread out to tackle a long stretch of beach, those who were working in a designated 100-metre section were asked to document everything they found, in a bid to get some kind of feel for the scope – and type – of rubbish which is on the beach. In that tiny section alone, 335 ear buds were found. Meanwhile, of all of the 8,585 items found in the 100m stretch, a massive 6,583 or 76.7 per cent were classed as “sanitary”, ie wet wipes and their possibly even more unpleasant cousins: nappies and sanitary towels. All of this came out of sewage pipes after someone put them into their toilet. Last year, the MCS launched its Wet Wipes Turn Nasty campaign, which, as well as trying to educate people about what should actually go down the loo – the “three Ps” of “poo, pee and paper”, apparently – also asked producers and retailers of wet wipes to ensure there packaging was clearly labelled with “Do Not Flush” messaging. The friendly American was not the only passerby to remark, positively, on our work.

There is no doubt that the public’s attitude towards attempts, however meagre, to clean up our oceans and beaches has, if you’ll pardon the pun, undergone something of a sea change in just the past few months. It is no longer the work of environmentalists and beach users. It has became a problem for all of us.

The BBC’s Blue Planet series, which aired last year, showcased the damage that our lifestyle is doing to the seas and the marine life which lives there. The MCS survey actually found that just 12 per cent of the rubbish was left on the beach by members of the public. We have woken up to the reality. Beach littering is no longer what we leave behind when we are visiting, it is what we put down our toilets and into our bins, which is ending up in the sea.

Plastic has been found in the stomachs of almost all marine species including fish, birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles, according to the MCS. On our beach clean, plastic accounted for 1,755 items of rubbish, 20 per cent of the waste found. While a few of these items – just nine plastic drinks bottles on the 100m stretch – were plastic bottles, there were 63 items such as single-use plastic straws, cutlery and trays and we also spotted tiny little plastic pellets known as “nurdles”, which are used as a raw material by industry to make new plastic products. The tiny pellets, which also go by the misleadingly attractive name of “mermaids’s tears”, soak up chemical pollutants from their surroundings and then release the toxins into the animals, such as birds and fish, that eat them.

If the idea that microplastics have been found in the stomachs of fish and shellfish is not enough to raise alarm, the MCS says it has been estimated that an average European seafood consumer ingests 11,000 plastic particles a year.

We are actually eating the plastic we are allowing to pollute our seas. Let’s take action now.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jane Bradley"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Plastic-stemmed cotton buds were one of the most common items found on Cramond Beach (Picture: Catherine Gemmell/Marine Conservation Society)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Plastic-stemmed cotton buds were one of the most common items found on Cramond Beach (Picture: Catherine Gemmell/Marine Conservation Society)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666668.1516391204!/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/john-mclellan-how-i-took-on-a-dodgy-cold-caller-selling-insurance-1-4666663","id":"1.4666663","articleHeadline": "John McLellan: How I took on a dodgy cold caller selling insurance","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516428000000 ,"articleLead": "

About half of all calls to landlines in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen are unwanted, writes John McLellan.

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Nine out of ten Scots know what it’s like. Just as tea is on the table the phone rings with what looks like a proper number: “Hi, is that John? You had a good day? No, I’m not trying to sell you anything…”

Those that come up “international” are easy to ignore, but not-so-cleverly disguised cold calls are the bane of modern life. Sometimes, I can’t help stringing them along to see what happens, although my wife took great exception when I told one in a solemn Late Call voice that I was terribly sorry but Mr McLellan has only just passed away that very morning.

Just before Christmas I took a call from a woman sounding like an EastEnders extra who said my boiler insurance was due for renewal and she could save me £150 there and then. She asked what bank I was with, wanted to check my card details, but got extremely shirty when I refused even get the card, never mind read her the number. The call ended.

READ MORE: Ban on cold callers in 100 residential areas throughout Edinburgh

Of course we don’t have boiler insurance. A check on the “Who Called Me” website revealed three entries for the company name that she mentioned since August. “I’ve just been conned out of £150,” said one. “The company managed to get £150 out of my partner. Disgusting organisation,” said the second. And the third: “Called my parents who were conned into paying two £75 payments.” Another website, DIYnot, told a similar story: “They’ve taken £150 from my mum’s bank account.”

I looked up the address for the company in north London, which Google Streetview showed was an unassuming street of terraced houses facing the back of a disused DIY store. But it was also the address of another firm which, according to its website, is a major UK incorporation agent that apparently is “not just a faceless, web-based company”. It has “a team of skilled and friendly staff for all your business questions”. Which is just as well because there are over 15,000 companies registered at that address, although how they all fit into a three-bedroom house is another matter.

READ MORE: Nuisance calls firm fined £400,000 for 100 million calls

The firm that called me has one director, who lives in Essex. He is also director of another company which describes itself as a provider of “home tech specialist solutions” and is connected to reports of attempts to sell unauthorised insurance for Sky boxes. Its website is beyond parody, offering a “fully focused system signal check to insure (sic) the system is receiving the best signal possible for its geo location. This includes a customer visual check of the area concerning the dish so we can assess the dishes (sic) range.” In other words, you go outside and have a look.

Part of the pitch was to give me a telephone number and sure enough, on a calling back, it was answered by someone saying it was indeed the firm mentioned in the call. I first rang to lodge a complaint and the promised return call never came. I called again to speak to the director, and when I said I was both a journalist and a councillor, the chap said he didn’t know him, that he was only maintenance and everyone had gone home for the night.

But he took my details and, lo-and-behold, the next day the director rang; bit of a diamond geezer who’d probably be good fun down the boozer.

“We’re a reputable company, don’t think ill of us because of what you’ve read, I’m a young guy setting out trying to earn a living …” that sort of thing.

I began to feel a bit sorry for him, which shows what a good operator he is, a natural-born Apprentice candidate. “Lord Sugar, my business is low-cost, high turn-over and very scalable, and boiler maintenance to maximise efficiency has an ecological message which is very much in keeping with the times…” You’re hired….

Being public-spirited, I tried to call the local council’s trading standards department and got a chap with a vaguely familiar but hard-to-locate accent, not that surprising for London. He took down the details but warned that as he was part of a UK-wide service he couldn’t guarantee what would happen. “Where are you based?” I asked, thinking it would be somewhere like Slough or Stoke. “We’re in the Western Isles,” he said.

It’s not just London; if you’ve got a problem with a nuisance cold caller, rogue trader, or generally dodgy service in Glasgow, Aberdeen or Dundee and you phone the council trading standards department, you’ll be speaking to a Hebridean working for Citizens’ Advice whose UK call centre is in Stornoway.

Edinburgh and Stirling councils are two of a dwindling number of councils not to have outsourced their trading standards contact system, but the consumer affairs organisation Which? has been running a reporting service as part of its campaign to clamp down on unwanted calls.

Their research shows that 90 per cent of Scots received nuisance calls on their landlines (can it be that low?), the worst being Glasgow where 51.5 per cent of all calls to landlines are unwanted. In Edinburgh the figure was 48 and in Aberdeen 45.

The Scottish Government announced an action plan in September to boost the Which? campaign, so if you get a call from one of these companies, make sure you report it.

John McLellan is director of The Scottish Newspaper Society and a former editor of The Scotsman

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "John McLellan"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Many calls to landlines are unwanted (Picture: Getty)","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Many calls to landlines are unwanted (Picture: Getty)","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666662.1516391145!/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/uk/hotel-owner-bans-vloggers-after-free-stay-request-1-4666626","id":"1.4666626","articleHeadline": "Hotel owner bans ‘vloggers’ after free stay request","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516386917000 ,"articleLead": "

A popular vlogger who asked a hotel owner for a free stay was given a scathing response - and her request posetd online.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Youtube influencers are now banned. Picture: PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Elle Darby, 22, wrote to a Dublin hotel and cafe about a “possible collaboration,” involving free accommodation for her and her partner.

The “influencer” said: “I would love to feature you in my Youtube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation.”

But it was greeted with disdain by Paul Stenson, of the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge Hotel in Dublin, who poured scorn on the request - and has now banned bloggers.

Ms Darby, based in Bath, Somerset, said she had 87,000 Youtube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers, and “work as a social media influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty & travel based.”

READ MORE: Youtube star slammed for mocking suicide

However, Mr Stenson responded: “Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure.

“It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.

“If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room?

“The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates?

“Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?”

The Facebook post was greeted with a mixed reaction, with some accusing Paul of bullying and others accusing Ms Darby of being a “spoiled brat.”

She responded by posting a video on her YouTube channel, under the heading “i was exposed (SO embarrassing)”.

READ MORE: Call for Youtube star to be banned over suicide video

In the video, Ms Darby claimed people over the age of 30 “had no idea how social media works these days”, and revealed she had received hundreds of messages of abuse.

She said: “I feel disgusting having to say this. As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home … I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.”

The emotional vlogger accused internet users of targeting her.

She added: “These were all 30 years plus people internet bullying a 22-year-old girl who is just trying to run her own business and raise awareness of what appeared to be a stunning Dublin hotel.”

Ms Darby also claimed the response of hindering “the younger generation from doing what they enjoy”, and that she “cried my eyes out in my car alone”.

The hotel has announced that all bloggers are banned from the business.

Mr Stenson wrote: “I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.

“The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was “exposed” with “malicious intent” for asking for a freebie.

“This kind of victimisation is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing.

“If any of you attempt to enter our premises from now on, you will be ejected.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Youtube influencers are now banned. Picture: PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Youtube influencers are now banned. Picture: PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666625.1516386913!/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/uk/prince-william-s-new-buzz-cut-cost-180-1-4666257","id":"1.4666257","articleHeadline": "Prince William’s new buzz cut ‘cost £180’","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516372062000 ,"articleLead": "

The Duke of Cambridge’s new haircut reportedly cost as much as £180.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Duke of Cambridge shows off his new haircut. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire"} ,"articleBody": "

Members of the public got their first look at Prince William’s closely cropped hair as he launched a health programme at Evelina London Children’s Hospital on Thursday.

READ MORE: Meghan Markle gets an apron as first official Royal gift

It is understood the heir to the throne, 35, opted for a buzz cut after receiving advice from the Duchess of Cambridge’s hairdresser, Richard Ward.

Mr Ward charges a base fee of £125 for a men’s cut and finish, his website states.

According to The Sun, the cut was reportedly carried out by Joey Wheeler, one of Mr Ward’s deputies, during a private session at Kensington Palace.

Younger brother Prince Harry, 33, has openly joked about William’s receding hairline and once said: “I think he definitely is brainier than I am - but we established that at school, along with his baldness.”

READ MORE: Joyce McMillan: How will Scots react to this nostalgic vision of merry old England?

Reports that the haircut cost £180 have been greeted with surprise and disbelief on social media.

Twitter user Andrew S said: “The real news about Prince William’s haircut is that mine is virtually identical to his and cost £6.”

RC Robjohn tweeted: “Why did Prince William’s haircut allegedly cost £180? He hasn’t got much of it left to cut.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "The Duke of Cambridge shows off his new haircut. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "The Duke of Cambridge shows off his new haircut. Picture: Matt Dunham/PA Wire","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4666256.1516372059!/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/boris-johnson-proposes-bridge-across-the-english-channel-1-4665843","id":"1.4665843","articleHeadline": "Boris Johnson proposes bridge across the English Channel","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516369268000 ,"articleLead": "

Boris Johnson has raised the prospect of a second crossing for the English Channel after top-level talks between the UK and France.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson made the suggestion following talks between the UK and France."} ,"articleBody": "

The Foreign Secretary said “good connections” were important to the relationship between the two countries and wondered whether the Channel Tunnel should merely be regarded as “a first step”.

Mr Johnson said the UK-France summit, attended by French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May, had agreed to establish a panel of experts to look at major projects.

READ MORE: The government of Glasgow: SNP administration opts for name change

The Foreign Secretary is understood to want a new fixed link between the UK and France and believes “it’s crazy that two of the biggest economies in the world are connected by one railway line when they are only 20 miles apart”.

But suggestions that the new link could come in the form of a bridge over the Channel won a sceptical response from representatives of UK shipping.

Trade body the UK Chamber of Shipping said in a tweet: “Building a huge concrete structure in the middle of the world’s busiest shipping lane might come with some challenges.”

Sources close to Mr Johnson said the French President was enthusiastic about the idea of a new link.

A joint declaration after the summit at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, said: “The United Kingdom and France have a long history of collaboration in delivering cutting-edge technologies.

“Whether pioneering supersonic travel or better connecting our countries through the Channel Tunnel, co-operation between our nations has produced radical innovation.

“We will continue to partner to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, including through a joint scheme, supported by up to 100,000 euro (£88,000) per year, to support academic exchanges, scientific collaboration, and innovation.“

READ MORE: Brian Wilson: The one thing that could make me a Brexiteer

The communiqué added: “As we look to the future of our relationship through the 21st century, we have agreed to establish a joint group of eminent and qualified persons to examine other options for future co-operation, including for significant projects.”

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Boris Johnson made the suggestion following talks between the UK and France.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Boris Johnson made the suggestion following talks between the UK and France.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4658013.1516351518!/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/brian-wilson-the-one-thing-that-could-make-me-a-brexiteer-1-4665523","id":"1.4665523","articleHeadline": "Brian Wilson: The one thing that could make me a Brexiteer","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

Sometimes it helps to see events through the prism of local experience rather than relying on pronouncements from those who present themselves as all-knowing. This may apply to the strange case of Brexit, the dog that isn’t barking.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit may prove to have positive benefits for Scotlands fishing fleet. Picture: Getty"} ,"articleBody": "

Judging by the daily outpourings of doom, gloom and apocalypse, you might expect the nation to be up in arms and flocking to the Sturgeon standard, demanding not one second referendum but two and living in fear of penury inflicted by callous Brexiteers.

Ms Sturgeon has invested heavily in the hope that this scenario will at some point unfold. Maybe she will get lucky. For the time being, support for independence is down and most Scots seem willing to wait and see what Brexit yields.

Through my local prism, I can help explain why. I was talking to Duncan MacInnes, secretary of the Western Isles Fishermen’s Association, who seemed amused by the anti-Brexit rhetoric: “Since the referendum, the prices our fishermen are getting for shellfish have gone through the roof – they’re double what they were this time last year.”

Instead of relying on EU markets, the industry looked for new ones, particularly in the Far East. Prices there are forcing EU buyers to match them. There’s a strong suspicion that, for years, the Europeans took advantage of market dominance to hold down prices. Now they must compete.

READ MORE: Poll: Voters ‘in the dark’ over Labour’s position on Brexit

Across from Stornoway harbour lies Arnish fabrication yard, created at the height of the oil platform boom and struggling ever since. Again this week, redundancy notices have been issued as work runs out on the sole renewables contract, farmed out from troubled BiFab in Fife. I suppose the Scottish Government’s defence of its lamentable failure to turn the thousands of turbines which adorn Scottish hillsides into a manufacturing industry would be along the lines of: “It wisnae us. The EU said these things could be made in Spain, Denmark and Germany, and there’s hee-haw we could do about it.”

In the 1970s, a strong government used its leverage to ensure a great Scottish supply chain was formed to support the North Sea. Nothing remotely similar happened with renewables. Is it not possible that, outside the EU, manufacturing jobs could have been linked to approval of projects, which demonstrably has not happened?

In other words, no matter how one voted, the hyperbole of recent days does not square with experience here, and perhaps elsewhere. For years we heard the EU blamed for unwanted diktats, from ferries to environmental designations. Is all this to be forgotten as Sturgeon promotes the new article of faith that Brussels is the font of goodness while life without it would be intolerable? That case has to be argued rather than asserted from Edinburgh in a glossy brochure filled with worst-case scenarios which probably won’t happen. An almost comical touch was added with a map which showed, via a big blob, that we send 43 per cent of our “international” exports to the EU. Sadly, the map did not show the 63 per cent of our overall exports (worth four times as much) that we send to the rest of the UK, the single market which Ms Sturgeon is hell-bent on breaking up. That contradiction does not go unnoticed.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit will cost Scotland £12.7bn a year, finds report

I do not pretend that the price of shellfish or travails of a fabrication yard constitute a metaphor on the Scottish economy. There are real risks in Brexit which is why, on balance, I voted to remain. But sensible people can also see opportunities to do things better which are actually quite exciting if that is how events develop. There is a more nuanced view of the EU than Ms Sturgeon invites us to believe.

She could have put herself in a more credible position by simply saying: “We are ruling out a second independence referendum until after the 2021 Holyrood elections when many matters will be clearer. Meanwhile, our efforts will be concentrated on the best possible deal for Scotland and planning for the creative use of new options outside the EU.”

Instead, she did the opposite by dangling the prospect of Indyref2 to the faithful, with an announcement later this year in the light of Brexit developments. Refusing to separate the timescales for these two processes guarantees an approach that will inevitably be tactical in pursuit of the Nationalists’ raison d’etre, rather than transparent in advancing Scotland’s urgent interests.

That may be as big a tactical mistake as the attempt to link the Brexit vote to demands for a second referendum. People, businesses, communities do not like being used as pawns and if it transpires that Brexit is heading towards an accommodation most Scots can live with, then the Scottish Government’s unremitting search for squabbles is unlikely to be seen as an adequate contribution. The shape of Brexit will evolve in the months ahead. The same interests that need defended in Scotland – such as access to immigrant labour – apply throughout the UK. Reasonable solutions will probably be arrived at because failure to do so is obviously self-defeating. Labour’s position of trying to shape Brexit through scrutiny and responding to outcomes which emerge is easy to ridicule but actually quite sensible.

If one thing could turn me into a Brexiteer it would be the elitist complaint that voters were too ill-informed to answer the question. That is an argument against holding referendums rather than for re-running them till they give the right answer. Let events take their course and seek to influence them – but the starting point of negating a democratic decision is wrong and dangerous.

I had departed politics before Lord Adonis, who has emerged as leader of that tendency, was fast-tracked to the status of “Labour grandee”. As far as I can see, he is an FT journalist who joined the gilded set and was duly shrouded in ermine. It is unfair to say nobody ever elected him since he was once an SDP councillor but heaven knows what mandate he thinks he has to frustrate what 17 million people voted for, without regard for how they might react if he succeeded.

Lessons in humility are required, north and south of the border.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Brian Wilson"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Brexit may prove to have positive benefits for Scotlands fishing fleet. Picture: Getty","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Brexit may prove to have positive benefits for Scotlands fishing fleet. Picture: Getty","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665522.1516296669!/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/jim-duffy-ferris-bueller-s-warning-to-today-s-young-generation-1-4665627","id":"1.4665627","articleHeadline": "Jim Duffy: Ferris Bueller’s warning to today’s young generation","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

Real life moves quickly, warned Ferris Bueller, so don’t be distracted by social media too much or it could pass you by, writes Jim Duffy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ferris"} ,"articleBody": "

Bueller … Bueller … Bueller …! Yes, I just loved Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the movie. It was one of those right-of-passage movies along with The Breakfast Club, that changed how I thought and perceived the world. But, only this week I was flabbergasted to discover that many twenty-somethings have never even heard of these movies never mind seen them.

They’re missing out on so much, but no-one has alerted them to the fun and knowledge that jump out from this genre of film. It’s time to change that. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when we have great films about growing up that still hold magic today and can still communicate a message.

A young family member this week was updating his LinkedIn profile as he was about to ping some people on the social media platform to inform them about his availability for a job. I thought this was great.

He was using the site to sell himself in as a decent candidate for an internship. It wasn’t exactly a cold call, but a warmish tap on the shoulder to prospective hosts. Most industrious I thought. He asked me for a headline that he would pop into the title text for the message.

READ MORE: Jim Duffy: Tensions rising in the real-life Town Called Malice

I thought for a while, then said: “How about ‘Watch out Ferris Bueller!’” I expected a rousing “wow” or “nice one”. But all I got was: “Who is Ferris Bueller?”

“You’ve never seen Ferris Bueller?” I taunted. It appeared not. I was genuinely amazed. After all, we’ve all seen Matthew Broderick annoy, outwit and devastate Ed Rooney, the dean of pupils, right?

When I was at school, there were two ways to take the day off. One was to “dog it”. By dog it, I mean play truant. A phrase I never understood as if you invite a kid to play, then they will right? So playing truant must have seemed like fun to many. I must admit I never dogged it as I didn’t see the logic here and in any case, I quite enjoyed school. But a few in my class did play truant and, every now and then, took a Friday off. The second way to get the day off school was to pull a sickie.

And this is what Ferris Bueller did with great aplomb. He totally conned his parents into thinking he was sick, albeit his sister Janie was having none of it. He then sailed really close to the wind when winding up Ed Rooney, who for some reason just did not like Ferris.

READ MORE: Jim Duffy: Embrace the joy of missing out on social media

Alas, it did not work out well for Rooney but, as you would expect, our little hero won the day. The movie is a metaphor for disruption and has magnificent quotes. “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Even more poignant today, I would suggest. What about The Breakfast Club then? Everyone has seen that, surely? The film with the worldwide hit theme song by Scottish legends Simple Minds – Don’t You Forget About Me – and that amazing cast of young actors? With Molly Ringwold, Emilio Estevez and Ally Sheedy just to name a few, this movie was a classic in its day. A bunch of kids who did not know each other in school and would not have even talked to each other, all couped for a whole day in detention. Yes, detention on a Saturday folks.

If that had been allowed at my secondary school, I know a whole load of boys, me included, who would have spent 50 per cent of their weekends back in the school assembly room writing meaningless essays. And what a day it turned out to be for all the characters in The Breakfast Club. Both movies were directed by the late John Hughes and spoke to a whole generation. They were about teenagers and young people discovering who they are and rebelling against the system, social class and parental expectation pressuring young people to select certain subjects and friends, achieve specific grades and leave these institutions ready for the next stage of their education.

Mind you, that was not going to happen for John Bender, played so well by Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club. He was going home after his visits to the club to an alcoholic father who used cigarette butts to burn his arm in order to teach him some discipline. No change here then as we still have weirdos who treat their kids as dolls as we have seen only this week in California.

Both movies have lessons for us parents, teachers and guardians. But, both movies were screened at a time when there was no social media. Ferris at no time can be seen checking his Instagram account. The additional pressure on young people as a result of the need to see and be seen in the virtual world has ramped up. Indeed The Breakfast Club today would have consisted of five young people texting, tweeting and Facebooking for hours with no interaction between them, while they hid their phones from Mr Vernon. Not much of a movie.

I’d love our young people to watch and enjoy and learn from the these two films I like. But, as they sit glued to iPhones and Androids, thumbing away, what else is this generation missing out on? My own daughters doesn’t talk to me anymore. They text me or message me on Messenger. I guess that’s ok as at least I am in their mind’s eye, especially when they want money. Things have changed. I only hope that today’s young people take heed of Ferris’ words and don’t miss too much.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "Jim Duffy"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ferris","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ferris","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665626.1516304036!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-holiday-lets-shouldn-t-be-hell-for-neighbours-1-4665633","id":"1.4665633","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Holiday lets shouldn’t be hell for neighbours","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

The boom in short-term holiday lets in Scotland has had a significant impact on the economy.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665632.1516304108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon signalled the Scottish Government may act over short-term holiday lets"} ,"articleBody": "

According to industry leader AirBnB, the people who book through its website alone are worth about £1m a day to Scotland.

A lot of people are clearly finding a cheap, easy and pleasant way to visit Edinburgh, Glasgow, scenic Highland glens and other parts of the country, while many Scots have discovered a welcome alternative source of income.

READ MORE: AirBnB proposes 90-day curb on Edinburgh lets – except during Festival

However, the boom has also brought problems, some utterly appalling. In one of the worst examples, a student and her flatmates in Edinburgh were issued with rape alarms and advised to move after the creation of a “party flat” in the same Edinburgh tenement. They said stag parties of up to 40 middle-aged men were turning up “nearly every weekend”. There was “constant noise”, broken glass in the stair and, on one occasion, a man tried to force his way into the flat. A councillor told one of the flatmates that “one girl got raped in a stairwell” of another property. Most issues are thankfully much less terrifying; residents can find it difficult getting hold of the owner of a holiday flat to deal with communal repairs. There are also concerns about empty properties reducing the sense of community in city centres and the failure of some holiday landlords to pay business rates.

AirBnB is now proposing to restrict people to renting out properties in Edinburgh to 90 days a year, outwith peak festival periods.

READ MORE: Edinburgh students given rape alarms over ‘party flat’ concerns

But it is not the only short-term letting website, so Nicola Sturgeon is right to consider whether councils should be given greater powers to deal with situations that get out of hand.

If nothing else, establishing some new ground rules might help create a level-playing field for everyone involved. At present, councils can act if there are complaints but they can be perhaps understandably slow to respond, given the cuts in local authority spending. The real issue might not be a lack of regulation, but a lack of resources to enforce existing ones.

Most people using AirBnB-style websites simply want to have a nice holiday and Scotland, in particular, should be careful not to do anything to put tourists off. After all, VisitScotland estimates tourism is worth £11bn to the economy.

But exploring ways to ensure neighbours’ lives are not blighted seems a sensible idea.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665632.1516304108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665632.1516304108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Nicola Sturgeon signalled the Scottish Government may act over short-term holiday lets","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Nicola Sturgeon signalled the Scottish Government may act over short-term holiday lets","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665632.1516304108!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/leader-comment-excitement-growing-over-new-v-a-museum-in-dundee-1-4665631","id":"1.4665631","articleHeadline": "Leader comment: Excitement growing over new V&A museum in Dundee","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516341600000 ,"articleLead": "

The V&A Museum of Design in Dundee was designed to look like the prow of a ship pointing out into the Firth of Tay, so it is apt that the opening exhibition will be Ocean Liners: Speed & Style.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665630.1516304066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ocean liners will form part of the opening exhibition at the great ship of the V&A museum in Dundee in September"} ,"articleBody": "

Visitors will get an idea of what life was like for the wealthiest passengers on board these “great floating palaces”, but also for those who worked in the depths of the engine room, in what organisers have promised will be a “breath-taking” show. If the outside of the dramatic museum building – part of a £1 billion redevelopment of the Dundee waterfront – is anything to go by, we will not be disappointed. As its contents are revealed, excitement is growing in Scotland and beyond about the opening in September. The Wall Street Journal has named Dundee Scotland’s “coolest city” and one of the top 10 places in the world to visit in 2018, alongside Shanghai and Madagascar.

Eight years in the planning, the new V&A could become a global attraction that puts the city very much on the map.

A lot of money and hope has been invested in the project and so far the signs have all been positive. The Scotsman can’t wait.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665630.1516304066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665630.1516304066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Ocean liners will form part of the opening exhibition at the great ship of the V&A museum in Dundee in September","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Ocean liners will form part of the opening exhibition at the great ship of the V&A museum in Dundee in September","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665630.1516304066!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/chris-tarrant-fined-after-pleading-guilty-to-drink-driving-1-4665152","id":"1.4665152","articleHeadline": "Chris Tarrant fined after pleading guilty to drink-driving","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516285789000 ,"articleLead": "

Radio host and TV presenter Chris Tarrant has apologised after he was given a road ban for drink-driving.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665151.1516285786!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris Tarrant outside London Studios on the Southbank"} ,"articleBody": "

The 71-year-old was over the limit while behind the wheel of his Mercedes on December 16 in Bucklebury, close to his home in Berkshire.

Tarrant, wearing a navy suit and striped tie, entered a guilty plea to the charge at Reading Magistrates’ Court on Thursday morning.

He was disqualified from driving for 12 months and fined £6,000.

READ MORE: Chris Tarrant charged with drink driven in his Mercedes

The court heard Tarrant’s breathalyser reading was 50 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - the legal limit being 35 microgrammes.

After the hearing, Tarrant told reporters: “I made a mistake and I paid for it. I shouldn’t have driven. Full stop.”

The presenter, famous for his role hosting hit quiz show Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?, said he was “very sorry”.

He said he drank “just enough to be over”, adding: “I honestly didn’t think I was over, but apparently I was, so fair enough.”

Asked if he thought the punishment was fair, he said: “Yes.”

Tarrant was at the Bladebone Inn in Bucklebury from 12.30pm and the court heard he was served four drinks - all brandy and ports - but it was pointed out by his counsel that they were not all drank by him.

READ MORE: 1 in 28 drivers stopped over Christmas failed drink driving test

Prosecutor Hasrat Ali said that staff and others in the pub were “concerned” that he had decided to drive home after 2pm.

“One member of the public had noticed that Mr Tarrant had stumbled near the bar area,” she said.

As a result of a discussion in the pub, a member of the public phoned the police.

Officers arrived at Mr Tarrant’s home at 2.25pm - 13 minutes after the phone call was made.

“He claimed that he had just drank three glasses of wine just prior to police arriving,” Ms Ali said.

The court heard that he refused to sign a pocketbook and after a breath test he was taken to the police station where he was interviewed about the offence.

“He gave a different version of events in the sense that it wasn’t three glasses of wine that he had drank, that in fact he had a large glass of brandy and a glass of wine,” Ms Ali said.

Tarrant’s counsel, Simon Ray, said the drinks that were bought in the pub were not all consumed by Tarrant.

Sentencing the TV host, District Judge Shomon Khan said drink-driving was “serious” and puts others “at serious risk”.

The judge, who said he was giving Tarrant credit for pleading guilty at the first hearing, imposed a fine of £6,000 and disqualified him from driving for 12 months.

If Tarrant completes a rehabilitation course by August 18, he will be allowed to drive again on October 18.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4665151.1516285786!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4665151.1516285786!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Chris Tarrant outside London Studios on the Southbank","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Chris Tarrant outside London Studios on the Southbank","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4665151.1516285786!/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/regions/edinburgh-fife-lothians/edinburgh-workers-spend-a-quarter-of-their-salaries-on-rent-1-4664944","id":"1.4664944","articleHeadline": "Edinburgh workers spend a quarter of their salaries on rent","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516285508000 ,"articleLead": "

Nearly a quarter of the average income earned by residents in Scotland’s capital is spent on rent, a new study has shown.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664943.1516310236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rent levels in Edinburgh are among the highest in the UK. Picture: Callum Bennetts"} ,"articleBody": "

Edinburgh is among a group of UK cities identified as having high rent levels by analysts at jobs site CV-Library.

READ MORE: V&A Dundee to open in September with ocean liners exhibition

The average monthly rent in the city is £463, which equates to 23 per cent of the typical salary.

However, this is significantly lower than in London, where workers pay a “staggering” 37 per cent of their monthly salary on rent - more than three times as much as in other parts of the country.

The average monthly rent in London is now £836. This compares with Hull, where average rents are £227.68 - around 11.6 per cent of wages.

Other cities with high rents included Brighton at £623 a month (32 per cent) of average wages, Bristol (£458, almost 22 per cent) and Southampton (£418, around 21.8 per cent).

The highest monthly pay was said to be in Aberdeen, at £2,300, just more than London, while the lowest was in Exeter, at £1,855.

Lee Biggins, managing director of CV-Library, said: “Generation ‘rent’ is well and truly in full swing, and while some cities offer manageable living costs and generous pay packets, others could be pushing workers to breaking point.”

READ MORE: Poll: most Scots back SNP’s tax rise plan

The study did not factor in additional costs on top of rent, such as council tax, electricity, water and gas bills, or other monthly outgoings including mobile phone and internet contracts, pension, transport and insurance.

People living in cities such as London, Brighton, Edinburgh and Bristol could be heading towards “debt levels” each month, said the report.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "ALAN JONES"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664943.1516310236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664943.1516310236!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Rent levels in Edinburgh are among the highest in the UK. Picture: Callum Bennetts","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Rent levels in Edinburgh are among the highest in the UK. Picture: Callum Bennetts","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664943.1516310236!/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/uk/brexit-msps-to-set-out-repeal-bill-fears-at-house-of-lords-1-4664961","id":"1.4664961","articleHeadline": "Brexit: MSPs to set out Repeal Bill fears at House of Lords","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516278251000 ,"articleLead": "

A delegation of MSPs is due to raise concerns over key Brexit legislation in talks at the House of Lords.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616092.1516278249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A cross-party group of MSPs will attend the inter-parliamentary forum on Brexit."} ,"articleBody": "

Senior parliamentarians representing three Holyrood committees will set out cross-party concerns over the EU Withdrawal Bill on a visit to London.

They will attend the inter-parliamentary forum on Brexit, which brings together the relevant committees from both Houses of Parliament and the devolved legislatures.

The MSPs will criticise the lack of progress the UK Government has made on amending the Bill during its Commons passage.

READ MORE: Poll: most Scots back SNP’s tax rise plan

Both the Scottish and Welsh Governments have branded the legislation a “power grab”, saying they cannot recommend it be granted consent in its current form, which would see EU responsibilities in devolved areas initially transferred to Westminster.

A promise to introduce changes to address concerns about the problematic clause 11 during report stage in the Commons slipped, with the amendments now expected to emerge in the Lords.

Holyrood’s cross-party finance and constitution committee has unanimously agreed that the clause is “incompatible” with the devolution settlement.

SNP convener Bruce Crawford MSP said: “It is hard to overstate our concern, indeed dismay, that the UK Government did not amend the Bill during its Commons passage, despite a clear commitment to do so from UK ministers towards the end of 2017.

“If a constitutional crisis is to be averted, it is vital that the UK Government brings forward changes to the Bill that properly respect the devolution settlement.

“All three of our committees welcome this chance to share our concerns with the Lords and appreciate their willingness to engage on issues that potentially endanger the devolution settlement.”

He will be joined by Tory MSP Graham Simpson, convener of the delegated powers and law reform committee, who said: “My committee is strongly of the view that the Withdrawal Bill should be amended so that UK ministers can only legislate in devolved areas with the consent of devolved governments.

“At the same time, there needs to be a process for the Scottish Parliament to scrutinise Scottish ministers’ decisions before that consent is given.

“Ministers will have extraordinary powers to make laws under this Bill, so it is vital that each of the UK’s legislatures have the opportunity to scrutinise effectively regulations made under these highly unusual ministerial powers.”

Also attending the talks will be the SNP convener of the Europe committee, Joan McAlpine, who added: “As the Bill approaches its passage through the Lords, this is a timely opportunity for us to raise again the concerns that my committee has highlighted on the implications of EU withdrawal for Scotland.

READ MORE: Bill Jamieson: Carillion’s failure was necessary, nationalisation isn’t

“As the House of Lords committees identified many similar concerns to us in their extensive work on Brexit, I hope that these joint discussions will feed into the consideration and scrutiny of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill by the Lords.”

The three will be joined by deputy conveners Tory Adam Tomkins, the SNP’s Stuart McMillan and Labour’s Claire Baker.

A UK Government spokeswoman said: “Every part of the United Kingdom needs a functioning statute book, and that applies as much to Scotland as elsewhere.

“We have made good progress in our discussions with the Scottish Government on common frameworks and we look forward to making significant further progress over the coming weeks.

“We have made clear that we will bring forward an amendment to Clause 11 of the Bill in the Lords, and are confident we can get to a position which has the support of all sides.”

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": "CATRIONA WEBSTER"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4616092.1516278249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4616092.1516278249!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "A cross-party group of MSPs will attend the inter-parliamentary forum on Brexit.","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "A cross-party group of MSPs will attend the inter-parliamentary forum on Brexit.","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4616092.1516278249!/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/sport/tennis/andy-murray/andy-murray-wins-battle-to-build-pool-and-gym-at-new-home-1-4664948","id":"1.4664948","articleHeadline": "Andy Murray wins battle to build pool and gym at new home","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516277550532 ,"articleLead": "

SIR Andy Murray has won a battle to build a new multi-million pound mansion with a swimming pool and gym.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664947.1516277621!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andy Murray will knock down the existing property in Surrey. Picture: PA"} ,"articleBody": "

The tennis ace plans to demolish a property he bought for nearly £3 million and construct a new home in its place.

However, Andy Murray's project hit a snag when permission for separate outbuildings housing a pool and gymnasium were refused by council planners because they were too big and did not fit in with the surrounding area.

The house is in Leatherhead, Surrey, just a few miles from 30-year-old Murray's current £5 million home in Oxshott which he shares with wife Kim and their two young daughters.

The double Wimbledon champion's house plans have now been given the go-ahead after his architects submitted revised plans for the leisure facilities which means they will be smaller than originally planned.

READ MORE: Andy Murray mocks US President Donald Trump on Twitter
In a written report, planning officials at Mole Valley District Council said: \"The proposal is for two separate outbuildings to be used for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse, one for a gym and garden room and the other for a swimming pool and sauna.

\"This application follows on from two separate applications for the outbuildings that were refused.

\"The agent has addressed the height issues by setting the building more within the slope of the land which allows for the height to be taken from the highest part of the surface of the ground next to it.\"

The proposals show the swimming pool building, which must not exceed four metres in height, will also include a massage room, changing facilities and a sauna while the gym will have a summer house attached to it.

The pool and gym could be used to help Murray's rehabilitation from injury. He is currently recovering from hip surgery in Australia and is not expected to be back on the tennis court until the summer's grass court season.

He and wife Kim bought the house, which has a tennis court in its 28 acres of grounds, in November, 2016. They initially built an extension before deciding to demolish it and build their own bespoke home in its place.

Plans show the new house will be a two-storey home with five en-suite bathrooms on the first floor and a library and a study on the ground floor. It will also have a large dining room, a larder and a snug room.

Murray's architects said the existing house was \"of no particular historic or architectural merit\" and would be replaced by an \"attractively designed property\".

Planners granted planning permission and said: \"The design of the property would be one of a Georgian appearance with narrow long windows and stone detailing.

\"The position of the new property would be close to the existing and therefore the spacious nature of the site would be maintained.

\"It is considered that the design of the building and its position within the plot would not cause harm to the character of the area.\"

In an interview last year, Murray said he intended to spend more time in Scotland when he retired from tennis but would remain living in the south of England as long as his family were happy there.

READ MORE: Aidan Smith: Is Andy Murray really done with scowling and ice baths?

" ,"byline": {"email": "russell.jackson@jpress.co.uk" ,"author": "RUSSELL JACKSON"} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664947.1516277621!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664947.1516277621!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Andy Murray will knock down the existing property in Surrey. Picture: PA","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Andy Murray will knock down the existing property in Surrey. Picture: PA","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664947.1516277621!/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/s-karly-kehoe-debora-b-f-kayembe-and-shawki-al-dubaee-academic-refugees-have-much-to-offer-countries-which-give-them-a-safe-haven-1-4664819","id":"1.4664819","articleHeadline": "S. Karly Kehoe, Debora B. F. Kayembe and Shawki Al-Dubaee: Academic refugees have much to offer countries which give them a safe haven","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516271535000 ,"articleLead": "

Imagine what it would feel like if you had your career ripped out from under you. If you had your entire life’s work destroyed by people who feared your critical appraisal. How would you feel if, all of the sudden, you became a ­target for violence or retribution just because you worked at a university and were considered to have intellectual ­abilities?

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "S. Karly Kehoe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland"} ,"articleBody": "

In 2016, the Royal Society of ­Edinburgh’s Young Academy of ­Scotland (YAS) decided to recognise the rights of academic researchers and practitioners fleeing conflict by introducing the at-risk academic and refugee membership initiative (ARAR). Founded in 2011, YAS brings together the next generation of Scotland’s talent and its mission is to achieve transformative societal change through citizenship, ­innovation, collaboration, evidence and leadership.

According to the UN, the number of people displaced worldwide due to war and conflict has now topped 65 million. The Geneva Convention defined a refugee as someone who is displaced, has been forced to cross national borders and who ­cannot return home safely. To receive ­refugee status, a person must have applied for asylum, making them an asylum seeker while awaiting a ­decision.

A displaced person, even though legally entitled to refugee status, ­cannot apply for asylum and is excluded from official asylum seeker status. The United Kingdom has adopted the Geneva Convention as well as the two additional protocols which states that people whose ­liberty has been restricted shall, if made to work, have the benefit of working conditions and safeguards similar to those enjoyed by the local civilian population.

When YAS inducted the first four ARAR members into its wider ­membership of 126 in 2016, it became the first young academy in the world to welcome these professionals into its ranks. In taking this bold, but ­necessary step, the YAS membership not only acknowledged the potential of these colleagues to make outstanding and meaningful contributions to the future prosperity of Scotland, but it committed to helping them to regain some of the social and professional capital that they had lost during their displacement.

If we exclude these professionals, we run the risk of losing out on what they would have accomplished or on the discoveries they might have made. For the academic researchers and practitioners, accessing the ­networks needed to recover their careers is vital but, more often than not, what they experience is a long corridor of closed doors. Some also have additional needs including building stronger language skills, understanding the academic culture and, at a basic level, settling their ­families into a routine and trying to establish a level of normality.

Living in the global north, many of us have no idea that this is the ­reality for many people. Many more of us have no awareness of the fact that some of these at-risk scholars are now our neighbours.

When we do find out about them, though, it is incumbent upon us and the organisations we represent to find ways of sharing our resources and of making space for them in our networks, ­universities and social circles. It is also important that we find ways of considering and evaluating fairly their academic qualifications and that we establish systems to either recognise them as being on par, where possible, or provide routes to enable upgrading.

At a panel at the recent Protecting the Rights of Individuals Fleeing Conflict symposium organised by the Committee on Human Rights of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in Washington, legal health and human rights advocate Leonard Rubenstein made the point that “you don’t have to grant rights to recognise rights”.

Building resilient societies, as ­countries like Scotland, Canada and others seek to do, requires us to look for and capture talent wherever we find it. It also requires us to have a moral compass and to extend the hand of friendship to newcomers. YAS seeks to build empathy among the scholarly ­community and use that to ­create meaningful opportunities for ­integration. This is an essential part of keeping research fresh and ­progressive. While governments have a major role to play in enabling this, we, as individuals, must bear some of the responsibility. You can read more about YAS’s work, and our current ARAR member recruitment round, on our website: https://www.youngacademyofscotland.org.uk/.

S. Karly Kehoe, Debora B. F. Kayembe and Shawki Al-Dubaee, members of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland.

" ,"byline": {"email": "" ,"author": ""} ,"topImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "S. Karly Kehoe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "S. Karly Kehoe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664816.1516271528!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"bodyImages": [ {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664817.1516271530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664817.1516271530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Shawki Al-Dubaee, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Shawki Al-Dubaee, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664817.1516271530!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} , {"image": {"url":"/webimage/1.4664818.1516271532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/box_600/image.jpg","thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664818.1516271532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","alt": "Debora B. F. Kayembe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","width":600,"height":315,"thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Debora B. F. Kayembe, Member of the RSE Young Academy of Scotland","landscapeurl":"/webimage/1.4664818.1516271532!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_595/image.jpg","landscapewidth":595,"landscapeheight":398}} ] ,"polls":[ ] ,"videos":[ ] ,"imageGallerys":[ ] ,"externalLinks": [ ] ,"relatedList":{"count":0,"list":[ ]} }} , {"article": {"url":"https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/bill-jamieson-carillion-s-failure-was-necessary-nationalisation-isn-t-1-4664410","id":"1.4664410","articleHeadline": "Bill Jamieson: Carillion’s failure was necessary, nationalisation isn’t","commentCount":0,"publishedDate":1516255200000 ,"articleLead": "

The demise of the corporate behemoth Carillion is no argument for nationalisation, writes Bill Jamieson.

","articleThumbnail": {"thumbnailUrl":"/webimage/1.4664409.1516219329!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_170/image.jpg","thumbnailWidth":170,"thumbnailHeight":"auto","imageAlt": "Carillion's collapse was spectacular and questions must be asked, but the answer is not nationalisation (Picture: SWNS)"} ,"articleBody": "

Few more tasty dishes could have been served up to Jeremy Corbyn than the collapse of Carillion, the construction and services behemoth.

Tens of thousands of jobs at risk, hundreds of small firms facing bankruptcy over unpaid bills and critical public services from hospitals to schools facing uncertainty.

What more damning exposure could there be of public-sector outsourcing and private-sector failure? Carillion’s handling of numerous projects came under criticism and maintenance contracts were withdrawn. Three public profit warnings in five months were issued last year – but ignored by the UK Government, which continued to award Carillion huge contracts. Once again, it seems, the capitalist model has failed.

New contracts were taken on in the hope that extra revenues would make good the shortfalls in existing ones – a giant Ponzi scheme in effect. Meanwhile Carillion’s management kept shelling out millions in dividends to shareholders while the group’s pensions deficit ballooned.

READ MORE: What Carillion collapse means to Scotland

Enough, already! The solution is blindingly obvious: bring all those infrastructure projects and long-term public service contracts in-house, to be overseen and managed by the public sector, cutting out the need for profits to finance dividends, fees to banks and costly advisors – and bringing to an end the fat cat pay circus. That’s one way of summing up this corporate debacle. But there’s another. This is not a “failure of capitalism” but an object lesson in how sanction and penalty should work to enforce reform. On this perspective, Carillion is a necessary failure. It sends a clear and salutary signal on the constant dangers of aggressive ambition and over-reach, while reinforcing the cautionary principle that should govern all undertakings: mind that you do not bite off more than you can chew – you may choke to death. A set of searing post-mortems is now underway – as well they should – questioning the award of government contracts, the project accounting system, the oversight of so-called watchdogs and auditors, and above all the Carillion management.

These may take many months. For not least of the questions to be explored is how this company, the UK’s second largest construction concern with a £1.5 billion debt pile, was allowed to grow so big.

The scale of Carillion’s operations almost beggars belief. Contracts embraced institutions from the Royal Opera House, Library of Birmingham and Tate Modern to the controversial HS2 high-speed rail line and the headquarters of GCHQ.

READ MORE: Darren McGarvey: Carillion – giants of capitalism or scroungers?

Built up through the acquisition of parts of Tarmac, Mowlem, Wimpey and Alfred McAlpine, it came to hold some 450 government contracts spanning the departments of Education, Justice, Defence and Transport. Its projects included the running of libraries under the fanciful brand name “Cultural Community Solutions”. Amey Housing took on the maintenance of some 50,000 army homes across the UK. Contracts worth between £700 million and £1bn in total. Last year a report by the Public Accounts Committee described the group’s performance for the MoD as “totally unacceptable”.

Carillion maintained approximately half of the UK’s prisons and Young Offender Institutions – again, widely criticised by independent monitoring boards. Two major hospital building contracts have fallen behind schedule, while responsibility for handling the delivery of school meals in Oxfordshire has now been handed to firefighters. Critical issues need to be explored here, three in particular. The first relates to the culture within Carillion – but is by no means confined to it – that encouraged aggressive fixed-price contract bidding to secure business and the booking of profits before contracts (with inevitable cost over-runs) were completed.

Second is who, if anyone, in government had overall oversight of the totality of all the public sector contracts and projects that Carillion was taking on. And who was checking on the competence of Carillion’s finances and its management to handle them? The third relates to the banks, City institutions and investors who for the past 30 years sought to dismantle the corporate behemoth conglomerates and mouthed the mantra of focused business models: no management, the mantra insisted, could possibly have a uniformity of competence across many disparate activities.

Yet multi-contract corporates such as Carillion and Interserve sprang up amid all this, with fund managers and analysts extolling the so-called ‘defensive’ qualities of these all-purpose infrastructure and service models – just so long as they paid the dividends. Ever-rising order intake seemed to be the only metric that mattered, blinding them to issues of managerial competence – and of course, ever-rising debt. As for the £600m pension fund deficit, who seemed much concerned about that, such was the flawed culture within Carillion?

While the post-mortems get underway, it is tempting to urge that public service contracts are now brought in-house and managed by central and local government: tempting, but blind to past experience. The land is littered with examples of public sector failure – projects that overran massively such as Edinburgh’s trams, rail line extensions that billowed in cost, buildings that fell years behind schedule, poor workmanship, inefficiency and wasted resources.

No public sector approach can ever be total, for which local authority can afford a fully staffed, full-time, multi-skilled and multi-specialist workforce to meet all contingencies? Heavy assurances would be given that small-scale outsourcing would be allowed to enable contracts to be undertaken and completed with confidence. But for years, small and medium-sized enterprises have railed against the exclusive nature of public sector procurement.

Nowhere has this complaint been louder than in Scotland, where the business community has constantly lobbied government ministers for a more equitable slice of the pie. Qualification hurdles working against small firms can range from lack of historic track record to size of balance sheet and gender and diversity requirements. All these can effectively bar all but the biggest private sector firms from bidding for contracts. The system favours the biggies. But, hey, isn’t this where we came in? The path out of this trap inevitably involves pain: sanction, behaviour change and cultural shake-up. In this respect ‘capitalism’ must be allowed to work: managers and government agencies brought to account, and business models obliged to reform and adapt.

Seventeen years ago, the US – that epitome of unbridled capitalism – threw the book at the gross corporate mismanagement at the corporate giants Enron and WorldCom. Government did not step into ‘rescue’ them but instead ensured that market sanction had its chastening effect. That is why Carillion is indeed a necessary failure and why the sanction of bankruptcy and searching inquest must apply. Just as an enterprise system should reward success, it needs also to penalise failure – the endgame business seeks to avoid.

There is every reason to despair at what has happened, but every reason, too, for hope that Carillion will stand as a lesson that will bring about a chastened but more responsible business culture.

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The UK Government’s failure to meet a deadline to amend legislation to devolve some EU powers to Scotland after Brexit may play into the SNP’s hands but a deal can still be struck, writes Tom Peterkin.

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The tortuous process of extricating the United Kingdom from the European Union appears to be triggering quite an array of responses from Conservative politicians.

A few days ago the Scottish Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw complained – only half in jest methinks – that the prospect of speaking in a Brexit-related debate gave him a migraine.

The eleventh day devoted to debating Brexit in the House of Commons proved all a bit much for dear old Sir Desmond Swayne, who very publicly nodded off while the finer points of EU withdrawal were being discussed. The Brexiteer blamed the rigours of an early morning swim in the Serpentine rather than weariness with the arch-Europhile Ken Clarke, who happened to be speaking at the time.

For Ruth Davidson the over-riding emotion of the moment has been frustration.

READ MORE: Adam Tomkins: How to avoid a Brexit ‘power grab’ crisis

In a series of interviews, the Scottish Conservative leader has expressed her exasperation at the UK Government’s lack of progress when it comes to setting out which EU powers will come to Holyrood.

Ms Davidson’s frustration is widespread across the Scottish party and nearly boiled over on Tuesday night when Conservative MPs from north of the border complained vociferously about the behaviour of the UK Government.

The frustration stemmed from Scottish Secretary David Mundell’s admission earlier this month that changes to Clause 11 of the EU Withdrawal Bill, which deals with devolution, had been delayed.

As it stands, Clause 11 would result in 111 powers in devolved areas being retained by Westminster when they are transferred from the EU.

This state of affairs that has led to long-standing SNP claims that Theresa May’s administration is undermining devolution by indulging in a power grab at the expense of the Scottish Parliament.

READ MORE: Tommy Sheppard: Brexit bill is the power grab of the century

Scottish Conservatives have been acutely alert to these criticisms and, in fact, the UK Government agrees that a substantial raft of powers should come to Holyrood, aside for those best dealt with across a common UK framework.

Therefore the missed deadline is a source of embarrassment, as is the fact that the changes to Clause 11 will be brought forward in the House of Lords rather than the Commons.

Hence Ms Davidson’s frustration and some forthright remarks in the House of Commons chamber from Stirling Tory MP Stephen Kerr.

“It sticks in my craw,” said Mr Kerr. “It’s not really good enough and as a member of the House of Commons I hang my head to think that we have somehow dropped the ball.”

Mr Kerr lamented the lost opportunity to make the changes and thereby “pull the rug from under” the SNP’s “squalid argument”.

His frustration was palpable. “It would have shown them (the SNP) up as the creators of grievance rather than giving grievance a voice,” he said. “The [UK] Government had control of the timetable. The deadlines were created by them, but they have let this chamber down by not delivering on what they promised.”

With the Scottish Tories now a force at Westminster thanks to the swelling of their ranks to 13 MPs and Mrs May’s failure to win an outright majority, the UK Government should listen to the likes of Mr Kerr.

The problem for Mr Kerr and his Tory colleagues north of the border, however, is that the UK Government appears to have a bit of a tin ear when it comes to matters Scottish.

UK ministers should remember that sorting out the Irish border is not the only constitutional hurdle that has to be overcome when exiting the EU. The politics of Scotland and Wales have to be taken into account when devising Brexit strategies.

Scottish Conservative sources say it was the sudden departure of Damian Green from Mrs May’s Cabinet, rather than ignorance of Scottish politics, that has led to the current situation. Mr Green, they say, was adept at over-ruling Whitehall officials whose default position was for powers to go London.

Whatever the reason, missing the Clause 11 deadline gives the SNP ammunition and complicates an already complex situation.

Much of the frustration felt in Tory circles north of the border is down to a feeling that progress is being undermined. Last year there was a suggestion that talks between the Scottish and UK Governments were unusually constructive. A more collegiate atmosphere was evident in negotiations and it seemed as though Scottish Tory attempts to act as honest broker between the two governments was bearing fruit.

The Clause 11 public relations foul-up has rather spoiled that atmosphere, but the Scottish Tory insiders say there is still optimism that a ‘more powers’ deal can be struck.

Their optimism is based on the notion that striking a deal will suit both governments in one way or another. Mr Mundell has promised that Brexit will bring a “powers bonanza” to Holyrood. The Tory calculation is that the SNP may be critical of any arrangement short of outright independence, but will generally support moves that help make the Scottish Parliament more powerful.

As one senior Scottish Conservative put it yesterday, if a more powers deal fails to materialise the SNP has nowhere to go other than a second independence referendum.

With a YouGov poll suggesting yesterday that only 36 per cent of Scots want another independence vote in the next five years, calling indyref2 is a gamble – a massive gamble that would wake Sir Desmond Swayne from his slumbers and do little for Jackson Carlaw’s migraine.

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