Pressure is mounting on the anti-independence campaign Better Together
to hand back a £0.5mn donation from Ian Taylor (above) after former
First Minister Henry McLeish raised his concerns
Scottish News: Top Stories - Monday
Scottish independence: pressure growing on ‘no’ campaign to hand back Taylor money
Labour former First Minister Henry McLeish has now voiced his concerns about the £500,000 donation from Ian Taylor – around a series of new broadsheet newspaper revelations about the activities of oil giant Vitol, the company of which Mr Taylor is president and chief executive. The reports include allegations of an extensive tax evasion scheme, and dealings in Serbia, Iran, Iraq and Libya. However, No campaign chairman Alistair Darling has insisted the campaign will keep the donation, despite the growing controversy. Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Angus Robertson said: “Let’s be absolutely clear – holding on to this £500,000 donation will be much more costly to the ‘no’ campaign in the long run. This is a serious error of judgement by Alistair Darling”.
Scottish Independence: Scotland wouldn’t need Trident to remain in NATO
The SNP has welcomed confirmation from Labour Defence Spokesperson Jim Murphy that "you don't have to have nuclear weapons on your soil" to be in NATO - as the SNP are proposing for an independent Scotland. In a confused interview, Mr Murphy however also claimed that "The Labour party believe in multilateral nuclear disarmament" – but refused to be drawn on Johann Lamont's prolonged silence on the matter, described as 'deafening' by the New Statesman. Despite his demand for answers from the SNP about its defence policy – which the SNP argue has provided on several occasions - Mr Murphy has yet to give any indication about what Defence might look like under a future Labour government. The development comes as hundreds of activists today will stage a blockade at Faslane Naval Base in protest over the UK Trident nuclear missiles stored there. The blockade will form part of a weekend of action calling on Westminster to scrap Trident and use the huge budget to fund “human needs” like welfare, education and health.
More Scottish news:
- Better Together credibility battered after warnings of fresh UK downgrades
- Scottish independence: UK downgrade means promised 'recovery' is like Waiting for Godot
- Scots go hungry to maintain London’s global status
- Scottish government criticised over ‘coherence’ of education reforms
- Scottish independence: economy will be a success after independence, says expert group
Scottish Independence: Scotland’s debt could be much lower than the UK’s
The Scottish government is proposing an independent Scotland should take on a public sector debt burden at just over half of the rate faced by the UK if it was allocated based on population. It contrasts this with a different position if Scotland is credited with revenue from oil and gas which has contributed more in tax over the past 30 years. On this basis, it says Scotland should only have to take on £56bn – 38 percent of GDP in 2011-12. This would take Scotland's debt levels to pre-UK credit crunch. Nicola Sturgeon, the deputy first minister, said: "The mismanagement of the UK economy by Westminster has led to a situation where we are all burdened with a massive UK debt. That is an argument for independence, not against it”. The minister added: "It is clear that, whatever way we look at it, Scotland is in a much better financial position than the UK, including on the issue of national debt”.
Scottish Tories attempt to postpone Thatcher debate
The Scottish Conservatives are to stage a last-ditch attempt at getting a Holyrood debate on Margaret Thatcher postponed until after her funeral. The Green Party in the Scottish parliament have chosen the late prime minister’s record as the subject of their debate on Wednesday, the same day as her funeral. But Tory chief whip John Lamont, has described the timing of the debate as “crass and distasteful”, demanding it is moved. However, last night it appeared that the plea would fall on deaf ears with the other parties supporting the debate. Defending his party’s decision, Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Margaret Thatcher has died, but the tragedy for huge numbers of people is that Thatcherism as an ideology still lives. We aim to encourage honest consideration of the legacy of Thatcherism, the core elements of which – competition and selfishness – continue to affect our society and our economy”.
UK crisis: controversial public order law accused of eroding free speech
Campaigners reacted angrily last night after Scotland Yard suggested protesters should consider avoiding Thatcher's funeral because they face arrest under a controversial public order law. In England, Section 5 of the Public Order Act allows police to detain those who cause "alarm, harass or distress", with officers given discretion about how they interpret the law. Val Swain, of the police monitoring campaign group Netpol, said: "This is a public state occasion and not a private family funeral - It is tantamount to arresting people that are not supportive of Thatcher's ideology”. David Lawley-Wakelin, who was charged under Section 5 last year for heckling Tony Blair at the Leveson Inquiry, said: "This law has become used at the whim of judges and applied spuriously as it was in my case. It is eroding free speech and taking us closer towards countries [where] we are trying to stop this from happening”.
Opium production at near record levels in Afghanistan
Twelve years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is heading for a near-record opium crop as instability pushes up the amount of land planted with illegal but lucrative poppies, according to a bleak UN report. The rapid growth of poppy farming as western troops head home reflects particularly badly on the UK, which was designated "lead nation" for counter-narcotics work over a decade ago. If this year's poppy fields are harvested without disruption, the country will likely gain status as producer of 90 percent of the world's opium. With powerful figures in the drugs trade who take over half the profit from each kilo of opium, shrinking opportunities to earn money from Nato or international aid contracts may lead to huge opium funds being used as bargaining power for upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections – leaving the country yet again unstable with an uncertain future.
Capriles demands recount after Maduro claims victory
Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has refused to accept ruling party candidate Nicolas Maduro's election victory - demanding a recount and slamming the ruling party with allegations of election fraud. After winning by less than 300, 000 ballots, Maduro has however welcomed an audit. "We are calling for respect of the results. If they want do an audit they are welcome to do it. They can do whatever audit they want to do. We trust in the Venezuelan electoral system" said Maduro. Maduro was widely expected to win the right to complete the six-year term Chavez won in October, promising to continue oil-funded policies that cut poverty from 50 to 29 percent with popular health, education and food programmes.
China’s economic growth less than expected
China's economic recovery slowed in the first three months of 2013 with slowing factory output, and investment spending forcing analysts to start slashing full-year forecasts. Tim Condon, head of Asian economic research at ING in Singapore said: "Industrial production is unexpectedly weak and that's the source of weakness in GDP”. As economic growth in China's key markets such as the US and Europe has slowed, and its exports weakened, there have been calls for China to rebalance its economy. The central bank has therefore adopted QE measures to try and spur growth, but some analysts have warned against any further aggressive easing measures, adding that such measures may promote asset bubbles and overheat the economy which contributed to the 2008 financial crash. Already such news hitting the stock market has led to a panic of gold sales in an attempt to devalue the metal.
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