Tram tests begin in Scotland's capital as power lines to be electrified
Scottish News: News in Scotland - Monday
Scottish independence: Tory dinner ‘supports’ Scotland from Chelsea mansion
A Conservative Party fundraising dinner held “in support of Scotland” has been ridiculed after plans emerged that it will be held 350 miles away in a Chelsea mansion. The dinner is being held by the Conservative Friends of the Union (CFU), who are charging £750 per head. A senior Conservative source commented: “This is yet another own-goal and more ammunition for the Nationalists”. An SNP spokesperson said: “This confirms that the ‘No campaign’ is Tory-led and is being funded and driven from south of the Border.”
Scottish Independence: Trade union leaders to brief members on referendum
Trade union leaders across the UK are to hold their first national discussion on the independence referendum next month. Labour has insisted that trade union members reject independence. However, next month’s meeting will begin planning a strategy for those union members that do support independence. The Scottish Trades Union Congress general secretary, Grahame Smith, said the organisation had yet to take a position on independence, but could do so at its congress in April 2013 or 2014.
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Scottish independence: Norway’s oil economy boosts SNP’s argument
The SNP have claimed an independent Scotland would not be over reliant on oil because it makes up less of the country’s overall income than is the case in Norway. Oil revenues have contributed approximately a fifth of Scotland’s annual income (21.3 percent) in the last decade while Norway’s oil income contributes to over a third of its annual income (36.5 percent). The SNP have said this new analysis “has blown a major hole” in claims about Scotland’s oil dependency. However, pro-Union parties have said the analysis proves Scotland is better sticking with the UK, where oil revenues contributes just 2 percent to the overall economy.
Scottish referendum: Salmond under pressure to reject UK monarchy
The chairman of the pro-independence ‘Yes campaign’ has said the Queen should not be head of state in an independent Scotland. Former Labour MP Dennis Canavan criticised the Scottish government’s proposal to keep the monarchy in place in an independent Scotland. First Minister Alex Salmond plans to keep the Queen as head of state following a ‘yes’ vote, noting that the Union of the Crowns pre-dates the political Union of Scotland and England. However, Canavan rebutted by saying the building blocks of Scottish democracy meant that sovereignty should be with the people, not an unelected monarch.
Scottish government plans for a ‘smoke-free’ Scotland
Scottish ministers are set to draw up ambitious plans to make Scotland “smoke-free” over the next two decades. Campaigners supporting the plan have commented that aiming to have a smoke-free Scotland by the early 2030s would be an “ambitious but realistic” aim. Director of policy and communications at anti-tobacco charity Ash Scotland, John Watson, supports the idea and thinks it “would really strengthen the idea that Scotland is a leading nation in terms of tackling tobacco.” However, Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking pressure group Forest, said: “I think the government has overstepped its remit if it tries to force people to give up what is a legal product.”
Rosebank to become working distillery by 2017
The historic Rosebank distillery in Falkirk is to become a working brewery, bottling plant and “micro-distillery” under a new multi-million pound scheme. Gerald Michaluk, the entrepreneur behind the Arran Brewery, also proposes to open the “Scottish National Brewing and Distilling Centre” as a tourist attraction. Former owners of the site, Diageo, wrote into the deeds that the site cannot be used for distilling until 2017. Around seventy jobs are expected to be created by the project, which is subject to planning approval.
Edinburgh Trams: tests begin on tracks and vehicles
Significant tests of the tracks and vehicles of Edinburgh’s tram project will begin over the next few weeks. Overhead power lines are being electrified from Monday between Edinburgh airport and the tram depot at Gogar. If the tests go to plan, this section will be the first of the tram line to be completed by March next year. The line will then be handed over to the City of Edinburgh Council. The project is already a year behind schedule and massively over budget. The revised budget for the single 8.3 mile tram line, which will run from Edinburgh Airport to York Place in the city centre, is £776mn.
Mental Health Association: Two people commit suicide every day in Scotland
The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SamH) has revealed two people commit suicide every day in Scotland. The figure is four times greater than the number of people killed in road accidents. ‘Two Too Many’ is the new campaign launched by SamH, which encourages members of the public to help reduce suicide by bringing the issue to the forefront of discussions and challenging any stigma over it. The charity’s chief executive, Billy Watson, said: “We believe suicide can be prevented, and we hope the public will support the Two Too Many campaign.”
Scotland: NHS incident reports released under FOI
A Freedom of Information request has resulted in hundreds of previously secret NHS reports investigating serious incidents being published by BBC Scotland. More than 300 reports – including 105 deaths – have been released. The reports include details of deaths from fatal doses of medicine, missing equipment during a cardiac request, as well as a person being blown up while on oxygen therapy after lighting a cigarette. Robbie Pearson, from Healthcare Improvement Scotland, admitted they have no idea of how bad the incidents are on a National Scale. He continued: “At present we don’t know. That’s why we’re going out to all the NHS boards. We’re starting this month and we’ll be around all the boards by the end of next year.”
BAE: Union ‘confident’ about future of Clyde shipyards
Union officials based at two of BAE Systems’ Scottish shipyards have called for a decision on their future to be made as quickly as possible. BAE Systems’ UK chief executive Nigel Whitehead has said one of the company’s bases could close, with a decision made by the end of the year. Union spokesman Jamie Webster has said he was confident “the Clyde will come through this.” The future of BAE’s three main shipyards after two new aircraft carriers are completed has been in doubt for some time amid fears there will not be enough work to keep all three busy and profitable. A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “BAE systems is an important employer in Scotland. We will monitor this situation closely and work with BAE with the aim of ensuring any future plans protect the interests of employees and shipbuilding in Scotland.”
UK and WORLD
Corruption fine "double hit" for RBS
The Royal Bank of Scotland may face a "double hit" of fines over its alleged participation in fixing Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate). Both the UK's Financial Services Authority (FSA) and regulators in the US may fine the bank according to different schedules causing extended unwelcome publicity for the bank. Previously, Barclays received two fines of £290mn on the same day in June by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.
Catalan elections: Pro independence parties vote increases but Mas punished
After yesterday’s Catalan elections, Convergència i Unió (CiU) conservatives new nationalist dream 'falls short of majority'. The drop in support for Artur Mas’s party complicates an straightforward referendum proposal, however left wing pro-independence parties have increased their share of the vote. Artur Mas party, centre-right CiU remains the largest bloc, (50 seats out of 135, down from 62 last time).The left-wing nationalist ERC won 21 seats – up from 10 in 2010; the pro-independence Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds United (ICV) won 13 seats - up from 10 in 2010. Pro-independence CUP took 3 seats for the first time. The total sees a tally of 87 seats for pro-independence/sovereignty parties all of whom support an independence referendum - a clear majority.
Egypt: President Morsi to meet judicial council over new powers
The Egyptian president is to meet senior judges today in an attempt to ease the crisis sparked over his new powers. Protests reminiscent of the revolution last year have been ongoing across Cairo’s Tahir Square for a third day. Activists claim Morsi’s recent actions have been an attempt to grab more power. The country’s highest judicial author has hinted at a compromise to avert further escalation. However, Morsi’s opponents have called for a complete cancellation of a decree they feel threatens democracy. The president’s political office have repeated assurances that the measures are temporary, and said Morsi wants dialogue with political groups to find “common ground” over what should go in Egypt’s constitution.
UN: climate summit opens in Qatar
The eighteenth United Nations climate change conference has opened in the Qatari capital of Doha. About 17,000 delegates are expected to attend, with carbon permits high on the agenda for discussion. Tension is expected to continue between wealthy and developing countries. “Hot air” carbon permits is the term used to refer to the attempts made by some wealthy countries to carry over unused carbon permits to avoid future cuts. Developing nations say this is unfair and reduces the value of any future commitments made.
Israel’s defence minister resigns from politics
Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, has announced he will quit politics after the general election next January. Mr Barak said he will remain as defence minister until a new government is formed. The decision ends a 53-year long career in Israel’s military and political establishment. Mr Barak told reporters: “I want to study, to write, to live and have a good time.”
Syria: Russian PM brands UK and France “unacceptable”
The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has slammed the UK and French acceptance of the Syrian rebels as “unacceptable.” Medvedev told Agence France-Presse: “From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable.” The Russian prime minister continued “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognising a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.” However, Medvedev insisted Russia has a “neutral position” whilst pointing to the controversial nature of Paris’s idea of arming the Syrian opposition.
Iran, Syria, Russia reject NATO missiles on Turkish-Syrian border
Iran, Syria, and Russia are fighting the NATO decision to place Patriot defence missiles along the Turkish-Syrian border. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast commented on the installation of the missiles along the border, saying they will “make the situation more difficult and complicated.” Russia, an ally of Damascus, said the deployment could increase risks in conflict. Syrian officials have called the move “provocative.” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN: “We cannot see any point that would justify these concerns. The missile system has a defensive purpose only. This system will not be operational unless there is a risk to our security.”
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