Debt Advisory Scotland http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net Mon, 04 Feb 2019 12:45:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/cropped-images2-1-1-32x32.png Debt Advisory Scotland http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net 32 32 Scotland? What Scotland? – Peter A Bell http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/scotland-what-scotland-peter-a-bell/ Mon, 04 Feb 2019 12:45:27 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/scotland-what-scotland-peter-a-bell/ Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process, and excluding The National in this way simply underlines how she is running scared of answering tough questions. The stuff about Theresa May “running scared” of difficult questions makes for great political rhetoric. But, as I’m sure the First Minister is well aware, it doesn’t...

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Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process, and excluding The National in this way simply underlines how she is running scared of answering tough questions.

The stuff about Theresa May “running scared” of difficult questions makes for great political rhetoric. But, as I’m sure the First Minister is well aware, it doesn’t quite reflect the reality.

Theresa May is not afraid of tough questions, for two reasons. Firstly, as a professional politician, she is trained to deal with hard interrogation. And, as the British Prime Minister, she has a small army of advisers whose task it is to ensure she is thoroughly briefed and equipped with well-rehearsed responses for any question.

This, incidentally, is how she will deal with Jeremy Corbyn in the proposed TV .debate’. She will be armed with a sword of stock phrases and a shield of glittering generalities. Corbyn will have nothing but a water-pistol loaded with vacuous slogans and the Pac-A-Mac of his self-righteousness.

Then there’s the arrogance. I have not the slightest doubt that Theresa May considers herself an excellent orator and debater. Again, she has a small army of people around her whose jobs rely on assuring their charge of her shining brilliance after every performance – no matter how dire that performance may have been. May, like most senior British politicians, exists in a bubble of near-adulation that shields her from both criticism and reality. She is entirely oblivious to the ineptitude that is clearly apparent to detached observers. And almost entirely unaware of how widely she is detested.

This conceit of herself makes her unafraid. The protective phalanx of minders makes her self-assured.

The significant point in the above quote is right at the start. When Nicola Sturgeon says “Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process”, she hints at what is actually behind decision to exclude The National from her press event. The British establishment has discovered the power of ignoring.

We exist in a world of media. We swim in a sea mediated messages. If something isn’t trending on Twitter or the subject of Facebook fury, it barely exists. If it doesn’t warrant a mention in the crowded 15-20 minute space of rolling news, then it isn’t happening. If it isn’t being talked about by the Andrews Marr and Neil, it just isn’t important.

The British establishment has deployed the ignoring strategy as one strand of its effort to diminish Scotland in the public consciousness. They denigrate our public services, delegitimise our democratic institutions and trivialise Scottish issues They aim to eradicate our distinctive political culture.. They seek to obliterate our national identity in a storm of unionjackery.

The National would seem an obvious target for this studied ignoring. May’s lackeys doubtless thought it in keeping with the ignoring agenda to exclude the paper which, almost uniquely, presents the news from a Scottish perspective. Very evidently, they got it wrong.

If you find these articles interesting please consider a small donation to help support this site and my other activities on behalf of Scotland’s independence campaign.

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Why No One Does Winter Like Scotland http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/why-no-one-does-winter-like-scotland/ Wed, 30 Jan 2019 12:45:26 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/why-no-one-does-winter-like-scotland/ Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park It’s perhaps a bold claim to make that there’s nowhere quite like Scotland in winter, but we are sticking to our guns on this one! With a unique combination of events, festivals, landscapes, natural wonders, food, drink and more, Scotland makes a pretty special package during the winter months. Want...

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Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park

It’s perhaps a bold claim to make that there’s nowhere quite like Scotland in winter, but we are sticking to our guns on this one! With a unique combination of events, festivals, landscapes, natural wonders, food, drink and more, Scotland makes a pretty special package during the winter months. Want to know why? Let us show you how no one does winter like Scotland!

First of all… our amazing skies

You can be bowled over by the Northern Lights…

A post shared by Neil Christie (@neilchristie91) on

Yes, you can see them in Scotland! To experience this incredible night-time phenomenon, it’s mostly about being at the right place at the right time, but if you do manage to catch sight of those magical ‘mirrie dancers’ then you’ll probably find yourself uttering gasps of  ‘ooooh!’ and ‘aaaah!’.

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are most often seen from the north Highlands, Orkney and Shetland, but have also previously been visible to the eye from as far south as Dundee, Edinburgh and Loch Lomond.

…or count thousands of brilliant shining stars

A post shared by Astronomical Observatories (@astronomicalobservatories) on

You can also look to the heavens to see the many twinkling wonders of the universe. Scotland is rather fortunate as there are many areas which experience no or little light pollution, meaning that on a clear night you can enjoy wonderful stargazing with innumerable stars and planets can be seen without the aid of a telescope.

You could visit the Dark Sky Park in Galloway Forest Park in south west Scotland, head to Dark Sky Discovery Points across the Highlands, or set sail to the Isle of Coll, Scotland’s Dark Sky Island! Staring up at the vast starry sky, no doubt you’ll feel the presence of something greater and it’ll leave you with a sense of wonder.

Then there are our incredible events

You could join one of the world’s biggest parties…

Loony Dook, South Queensferry

In the run up to midnight on Hogmanay, there are torchlight processions, candlelit concerts, energetic ceilidh dances, pop concerts, not to mention all the action of the world-famous Hogmanay Street Party. On 1 January, refresh yourself at the Loony Dook and plunge into the reviving waters of the Firth of Forth.

…or perhaps feel the heat at a fire festival!

A post shared by katherinejamieson (@katherinejamieson) on

In Scotland in winter, we know how to turn up the heat. A number of communities continue to carry out some of their hottest ancient traditions in the months of December and January. Join in with fiery revelries at New Year with events such as the Stonehaven Fireballs or the Comrie Flambeux.

Or head to Shetland in January to see the subarctic merrymaking at the truly unique Up Helly Aa, an incredible spectacle of flame and fierce costumes to celebrate the island’s Norse heritage. It culminates when a Viking long ship is set ablaze – you won’t see that anywhere else!

Then dance the night away at Celtic Connections…

A post shared by Celtic Connections (@celtic_connections) on

Glasgow is home to one of the world’s premier winter music festivals. Celebrating folk and roots music, the diverse festival sees over 2,000 artists, which includes both international stars and home-grown talent, perform across 30 of the city’s finest venues. In 2018 Celtic Connections will take place from 18 January – 4 February.

…or toast the Bard at a Burns Supper

Prestonfield House, Edinburgh

In January every year, Scots and fans of Scotland celebrate the life and works of Robert Burns, but here we reckon do it with extra gusto – it’s the chance to honour one of our favourite sons, after all! Burns Suppers are a merry affair of eating, drinking, poetry and sometimes song. Haggis and whisky, the national dish and the national drink, are an important part of the proceedings, as well as the famous works of Burns.

Burns Suppers are not only organised by Burns Clubs, but plenty of venues hold events that you can join in with. Why not experience Burns Night aboard a royal yacht, or join in with the festivities of the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries in south west Scotland? You can always hold your own too!

We have our delicious food and drink

Warm up with a distillery tour…

A post shared by Raasay Distillery (@raasaydistillery) on

Scotch whisky is a true winter warmer. Is there a better way to melt away the winter’s cold than on a distillery tour? You could follow the Malt Whisky Trail and take in the distilleries of Speyside, many of which are known for producing whisky distinctive characteristics of rich, fruity flavours. It’s not unusual to sample a sherry cask Speyside malt whisky and think of festive treats such as Christmas cake, cloves and sherry. You might find a nice bottling to take home – hot toddies, anyone?

As well as distilleries, there are plenty of cosy whisky bars across the country, which are the perfect place to relax, chat to knowledgeable bartenders and discover your favourite dram. Sláinte!

… then sample the best of Scotland’s winter larder

A post shared by The Kitchin (@thekitchin) on

Whatever time of year, Scotland’s natural larder is full of tasty seasonal produce and winter is no exception. It’s the season where you can try the best game bird, hare and venison, root vegetables are bountiful and fresh mussels harvested in January are often the plumpest you’ll find!

One of the best ways to experience a country is through its cuisine. In Scotland there are plenty of fine restaurants, including 9 with Michelin stars, for those wanting a meal that little bit more special, as well as traditional pubs serving home cooked dishes and modern bistros offering great value for money. Prepare to ‘wow’ your taste buds!

 And of course, our great outdoors

Be awestruck by magical winter landscapes…

Loch an Eilein, Rothiemurchus Forest, Cairngorms National Park

Snow dusted peaks, enchanting woodlands, glittering lochs and rolling hillsides sparkling with morning frost; Scotland’s great outdoors is transformed into a true winter wonderful during the coldest months of the year. Take them in with your own eyes and explore some of the country’s many beauty spots.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park isn’t short of breathtaking scenery. Explore the shoreline at the likes of Milarrochy Bay and views of mountains across the water. Or admire the thick Caledonian pine forests of the Cairngorms National Park.

…and take in the beauty from a unique vantage point

Lomond Royal Lodges overlooking Loch Lomond © Argyll Holidays

At Argyll Holidays, stay in one of the luxury lodges where you can admire the snow-capped mountains around Loch Lomond and hide from the winter chill inside a blissfully bubbling hot tub. Perfect place to bring in the New Year, perhaps?

…with wonderful winter wildlife all around

White tailed sea eagle © Neil McIntyre

Whilst you are out and about enjoying the landscapes, also keep your eyes peeled for Scotland’s wilder inhabitants as they adapt to the colder season. In the Cairngorms, you might be lucky enough to spy snowy ptarmigan and pure white hares on mountain sides or soaring golden eagles above. Bring your binoculars!

Did you know you can see wildlife under the cloak of darkness? Join Nocturnal Wildlife Experience in Dumfries & Galloway on a night-time excursion on foot to spot roe deer, badgers and more with the help of specialist thermal imaging and night vision equipment.

And finally, our snow!

Hit the city, then the slopes

Glencoe Mountain

Did you know that from Scotland’s cities it’s only a few hours to Scotland’s fantastic ski resorts?! For example, from Dundee you could be at Glenshee Ski Centre in one hour and a quarter, while Glencoe Mountain is reachable from Glasgow in around two hours!

It’s easy to fit in a trip to one of the country’s ski centres for a session on the slopes, with many avid snowsports enthusiasts visiting for the day or an overnight stay. If it’s your first time skiing or snowboarding, or you need to refresh your skills, why not get some lessons?

Highland coo near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

So, what are you waiting for? Pack those mittens, scarf and hat and come see for yourself. Get planning a winter break today – search for amazing accommodation and find travel options to suit you!

Source

https://www.visitscotland.com/blog/winter/why-no-one-does-winter-like-scotland/

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Make Scotland a Shelter http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/make-scotland-a-shelter/ Fri, 25 Jan 2019 12:45:56 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/make-scotland-a-shelter/ Tweet Follow @RPJblog By Jason Michael IRISH POLITICS HAVE TAKEN a turn for the better in the last couple of years. England’s decision to leave the European Union and its rapid descent into social, political, and economic madness have effected a change in the Irish government that almost a hundred years of independence from England...

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Tweet Follow @RPJblog
By Jason Michael

IRISH POLITICS HAVE TAKEN a turn for the better in the last couple of years. England’s decision to leave the European Union and its rapid descent into social, political, and economic madness have effected a change in the Irish government that almost a hundred years of independence from England have failed to produce – strong and stable government. Those unfamiliar with the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, will not know the origins of its two main political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Cutting a long story short, these two parties were the result of the Irish Civil War (1922-23). Much like modern politics in Spain after 1939, politics in Ireland over the past ninety-five years have been the working out of the continuing and the unresolved tensions of a serious civil conflict.

Ideologically, the pro-Treaty party (Fine Gael) and the anti-Treaty party (Fianna Fáil) are both centre-right parties, looking after the interests of the dominant social class of each faction. It is a long-standing joke among the other parties in the Dáil that they should bury the hatchet and become a single party, but memories are long on small islands, and the grudges held in families since 1923 have not exactly died. But before the Civil War both were powerful factions within Sinn Féin and fought the British together in the War of Independence (1919-21).

🎙 Brexit has done something good for Irish politics. It would be a good idea for Scotland to follow this example.… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…


Jason Michael (@Jeggit) December 13, 2018

Brexit has, it seems, reminded them of their common enemy, and in the cause of the national good they have set aside many of their differences to work together to stop the chaos in England spreading to Ireland. The party in government in Dublin, Fine Gael, does not have a majority; a situation, which in normal times would be dealt with in the formation of a coalition, but has gained the support of its old enemy, Fianna Fáil, in a prolonged confidence and supply agreement. While I am not exactly a fan of either of these parties, it has to be accepted that their decision to work together has stabilised politics in this country to an extent heretofore thought unimaginable.

In short, Ireland has become a haven from the madness of Brexit. Ireland is culturally closer to England than many Irish people might like to admit, and its upper class has always been hand-in-glove with its English counterpart – the aristocracy. This affinity between the two nations, together with the degree to which both benefit from mutual trade with one another, means that Brexit could easily infect and destabilise Ireland. This has always been a fear, and something British intelligence has tried to exploit with the creation of troll farms dedicated to persuading Ireland to join the dark side and leave the EU.

Knowing this, the two main political parties have made the smart choice to circle the wagons and work with each other to protect the interests of Ireland. This unlikely alliance has strengthened Ireland not just internally, but has given the country a louder and more powerful voice in Europe and as a part of the European Union. Never in its history as a state has Ireland had more power over its former colonial master than it enjoys right now. The overt anti-Irish racism being spat out from various quarters within the British establishment demonstrates how much this change in Ireland frustrates a Britain than genuinely believes it is owed something from Ireland.

“The UK decided they wanted to go ahead with Brexit, so any agreement has to be between the EU & the UK, but bear i… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…


Dr. Jennifer Cassidy (@OxfordDiplomat) December 13, 2018

The plan is bearing fruit. It is making Ireland stronger and producing the sort of politics – or at least political stability – of which anyone would be proud. This is something Scotland can take and make its own. Dealing with Brexit is not easy for the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government. Everything they do is reactive – always responding to the chaos spewing out from London. The Scottish government is caught in a cycle in which it is constantly running about putting out the fires started by crazed Brexiteer pyromaniacs. But this doesn’t make for good politics. It makes for a seemingly endless state of emergency, a condition that is giving the Scottish people and the independence movement event fatigue. There is so much going on that people are becoming exhausted, and sooner or later an exhausted electorate will settle for anything for a bit of peace – and that would be a nightmare for Scotland and for independence.

Scotland and Ireland have much in common. They are countries of about the same size and population with a long history of English domination. When England wobbles, Scotland and Ireland quake. In both Scotland and Ireland, regardless of their social and cultural proximity to England, there is an acute awareness of the badness of Brexit. Both instinctively understand that it threatens the fabric of their society, and both are aware of the extent to which England is working to draw them in to the misery of its awful situation. Ireland, realising this, has begun the work of healing old divides in order to protect itself from becoming England’s toy again. Scotland, not so much.

Yet, even among Scottish unionists there is a growing wariness of Brexit and the impact it will have on our country. We have reached a critical moment – the end of the Article 50 negotiations – at which concrete steps must be taken to protect Scotland. It is time for greater national unity. We are one Scotland and we are quick to shout this slogan, but the divisions remain real and deep. It is time to put the well-being of Scotland first and begin the task of working together, across all divides, to save ourselves from the impending disaster that is Brexit. By making Scotland a shelter from England’s folly we give unionists the chance to see how dangerous union has become, and in so doing we give ourselves a better chance of voting Yes in the next independence referendum.


Nation Norway: discussion points


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SNP signals further tax hikes for middle class Scotland – The Scotsman http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/snp-signals-further-tax-hikes-for-middle-class-scotland-the-scotsman/ Sun, 20 Jan 2019 12:45:22 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/snp-signals-further-tax-hikes-for-middle-class-scotland-the-scotsman/ Scots middle earners could face more tax hikes after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said he “sensed” there is further scope to increase rates. Ahead of setting out his budget next week, Mr Mackay faces calls from the IPPR Scotland think tank to freeze the threshold at which people begin to pay the higher rate of...

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Scots middle earners could face more tax hikes after Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said he “sensed” there is further scope to increase rates.

Ahead of setting out his budget next week, Mr Mackay faces calls from the IPPR Scotland think tank to freeze the threshold at which people begin to pay the higher rate of income tax to lift 40,000 children out of relative poverty.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

Scots earning above £33,000 already pay more than elsewhere in the UK following an overhaul of the tax bands introduced by the Scottish Government last year. However a majority of Scotland – about 55 per cent – pays less than elsewhere in the UK.

The tax gap is already poised to widen after Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled plans in his recent UK budget to raise the higher 45p threshold south of the Border to salaries of £50,000 and above. In Scotland this rate, set at 46p, applies at salaries of £43,430 and above.

Mr Mackay said he wants Scotland to have a “competitive tax regime”.

“I will always follow the evidence to understand the tolerable levels of divergence,” he told the Financial Times. “However, I do not think that now is the time to pass on tax cuts to the richest.”

The minister said he is committed to progressive taxation but said he would not raise taxes if this meant lower revenues. Asked whether he thought Scotland is still some way from this, he responded: “That is my sense.”

If bands increase with inflation as expected next week, high earners would receive the biggest tax cut as the UK-wide personal allowance is raised.

But IPPR Scotland says freezing the higher rate threshold would still mean tax cuts, only not as steep.

This would raise £210 million for social security support, which could lift 40,000 youngsters out of poverty if applied over the next three years.

Rachel Statham, IPPR Scotland Economic Analyst, said: “The Scottish government should consider action on the higher rate tax threshold at next week’s budget. Our analysis shows that if tax bands go up with inflation as usual, higher earners in Scotland – those earning over £43,430 a year – could receive a tax cut over three times larger than someone earning minimum wage. At a time when public finances are under considerable strain, Scotland can’t afford this.

“By freezing the higher rate tax threshold, the point at which earners begin to pay the 41p tax rate, we could raise additional tax revenue. This could be spent on the Scottish government’s clear priorities.”

The Scottish Government overhauled the income tax system for 2018/19 after control over rates and bands were devolved to Holyrood. It saw the creation of five bands, including the new starter and intermediate rates. Mr Hammond’s changes for next year will means Higher earners pay significantly more in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. Even if the Scottish income tax bands only move with inflation, workers making £50,000 north of the Border face tax bill £1300 Higher than their UK counterparts from April.

SNP strategists claim policies such as taxpayer-funded university education, prescriptions and personal care for the elderly, as well as lower water and council tax charges, are popular enough to have resulted in a broader acceptance among middle class Scots of the case for modest tax hikes.

But Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary Murdo Fraser voiced concern over Mr Mackay’s comments.

“This is a clear hint from Derek Mackay that he’s considering even higher taxes for Scotland,” Mr Fraser said.

“We’ve already heard from numerous businesses warning against this, pointing out the damage a tax differential would do to Scotland’s economy.

“The SNP government has also been told about the damage to public sector recruitment which could be caused by further tax hikes.

“But these remarks by the finance secretary confirm he simply isn’t listening to these experts on this vital matter.”

Other parties at Holyrood, including Labour and the Greens, are likely to support the push for more tax increases hinted at by Mr Mackay. He could freeze the higher rate salary threshold rather than increase it in line with inflation which would raise an extra £64 million. He could also increase the rate itself from 46 pence to 47 pence.

Labour says changes to the tax system can deliver “real change”.

Labour finance spokesman James Kelly said: “We want a Scottish budget where the richest pay their fair share to properly fund public services and tackle inequality.

“The SNP has taken Tory austerity and quadrupled it for local lifeline services, while Theresa May’s government has clearly broken its promise to end austerity.

“Income tax is devolved and, as this important report makes clear, making different choices on the higher rate threshold in Scotland could lift 40,000 children out of poverty.

“The SNP must deliver a progressive tax system that meets the needs of communities across Scotland.”

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland, said the IPPR analysis shows how Holyrood’s tax and benefit powers can be used to make a “dramatic impact” on child poverty.

He said: “With UK government benefit cuts driving more and more families into hardship the Scottish Parliament must use every tool in its toolbox to protect Scotland’s children and meets its own statutory child poverty targets. The Scottish Government’s commitment to a new Income Supplement by 2022 is very welcome, but hard up families really cant wait that long. This new analysis demonstrates the kinds of impact that can be made now.”

Source

https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/snp-signals-further-tax-hikes-for-middle-class-scotland-1-4839970

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Scotland mustn’t kid itself abour racism – Kezia Dugdale – Edinburgh Evening News http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/scotland-mustnt-kid-itself-abour-racism-kezia-dugdale-edinburgh-evening-news/ Tue, 15 Jan 2019 12:45:26 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/scotland-mustnt-kid-itself-abour-racism-kezia-dugdale-edinburgh-evening-news/ The alleged racial abuse of Hearts player Clevid Dikamona during the Edinburgh derby was sickening. TV pictures showing a Hibs fan apparently shouting at the footballer were beamed into living rooms and pubs across the country. I’m pleased that both the club and the police have taken the incident very seriously. Whether the allegation is...

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The alleged racial abuse of Hearts player Clevid Dikamona during the Edinburgh derby was sickening.

TV pictures showing a Hibs fan apparently shouting at the footballer were beamed into living rooms and pubs across the country.

I’m pleased that both the club and the police have taken the incident very seriously. Whether the allegation is proved or not, it’s sometimes easy to pretend Scotland is a uniquely tolerant country, where racism is a thing of the past. Sadly, that’s not true. It isn’t talking Scotland down to say so, because we can only hope to tackle intolerance and hatred if we accept it exists.

At the weekend, a report from the Humanist Society Scotland told us some home truths. Around one-in-ten people in Scotland would not accept someone of a different religion marrying a relative or being elected as their MSP, while 20 per cent said same-sex relationships are wrong.

Last year, a new book revealed that Scotland has a higher rate of race-related murders than the rest of the UK. Our supposed anti-racist values as a nation are a “myth”, the authors concluded.

There have been reports over the past year of Muslim women being attacked in Scotland, while a worrying number of anti-semitism cases also came to light.

There is no doubt that, as a country, we have made great strides towards ending intolerance. And I know every political party in Holyrood is committed to doing more. It’s clear that we must work harder to change attitudes in our playgrounds, our workplaces, on the terraces, and in our communities. It is a fight for all of us.

Working together, we can ensure that Scotland’s image as a beacon of tolerance becomes a reality.

Source

https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/opinion/scotland-mustn-t-kid-itself-about-racism-kezia-dugdale-1-4850330

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Call for review over Police Scotland strip searches of women http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/call-for-review-over-police-scotland-strip-searches-of-women/ Thu, 10 Jan 2019 12:45:22 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/call-for-review-over-police-scotland-strip-searches-of-women/ Police Scotland figures on strip searches of women have been described as “alarming” and prompted calls for police chiefs to investigate. An analysis by The Ferret of Police Scotland stop and search data found that more women were strip searched outside a police station than inside a police station. The reverse was true for men....

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Police Scotland figures on strip searches of women have been described as “alarming” and prompted calls for police chiefs to investigate.

An analysis by The Ferret of Police Scotland stop and search data found that more women were strip searched outside a police station than inside a police station. The reverse was true for men.

For all types of search, the detection rate – where the person being searched was found to be hiding something of interest to the police – was found to be lower among women than it was for men.

An academic expert on stop and search, Dr Kath Murray, said that the data suggested that the “threshold for suspicion” that could trigger a strip search by police officers appeared to be lower for women than for men.

“The use of strip search should be proportionate, fair and effective. This means searches should be justified, and based on reasonable suspicion,” Murray said.

“The differences in both location and detection rates between sexes suggests that the threshold of suspicion may be lower for women, compared to men. It is not however possible to draw a clear explanation from the data and Police Scotland should investigate these differences further.”

The data shows that when men were strip searched outside a police station, the police got a positive result in 49 per cent of cases. But only 39 per cent of strip searches conducted on women outside a police station yielded a positive result.

This is deeply alarming and deserves a full explanation from the Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable.
Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, said: “This is deeply alarming and deserves a full explanation from the Justice Secretary and the Chief Constable.

“We must make sure that police are properly resourced and that the circumstances of any search are appropriate, informed and alert to the suspect’s vulnerabilities.”

Scottish Greens justice spokesperson, John Finnie MSP, called for a review of current practices to ensure that Police Scotland were applying their standards fairly.

He said: “The use of strip-searching should always be proportionate and based on reasonable concerns about the concealing of illegal materials. But these figures are likely to raise concerns among the public so I would encourage Police Scotland to review current practices to ensure that the reasonable test is being followed.”

The Scottish Government published a code of practice governing stop and search in 2017, after public concern mounted over the number of people being searched without a legal basis. The code says that a “constable carrying out a strip search must be the same sex as the detainee.”

Police Scotland have been publishing data on stop and search since 2015.

The latest figures for the first half of this financial year show that six women aged 18 or under were subject to strip searches outside a police station. A further four women aged 18 or less were strip searched inside a police station.

Chief Inspector Lyn Ross from the Specialist Crime Division said: “Intelligence-led stop and search is a valuable and effective policing tactic when used in the right place, at the right time toward the right people and contributes to the prevention, investigation and detection of crime whilst at the same time keeping people safe and improving community well-being.

“Police Scotland recognise that stopping and searching members of the public is a significant intrusion into their personal liberty and privacy and is committed to ensuring that all stop and search activity is carried out in a lawful, proportionate, justifiable and accountable manner.

“Whilst carrying out a stop and search, officers will treat members of the public in keeping with Police Scotland’s core values of fairness, integrity and respect. Police Scotland will ensure that an individual’s rights are upheld in accordance with the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equalities Act 2010.

“Police Scotland continue to monitor all search activity and proportionate use of the tactic and will continue to report information publicly through quarterly management information reports.”

Note: the charts in the post were updated on the day of publication to make the statistics easier to understand.

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Health visitors in Scotland to be paid Band 7 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/health-visitors-in-scotland-to-be-paid-band-7/ Sat, 05 Jan 2019 12:45:20 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/health-visitors-in-scotland-to-be-paid-band-7/ Health visitors in Scotland will be paid more than their counterparts in England and Wales. Health visitors in Scotland will now start on Band 7, with a starting salary of £33,222. In contrast, health visitor in England, Wales and Northern Ireland usually start at band 6, with starting salaries of around £28,050. Unions claim the...

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Health visitors in Scotland will be paid more than their counterparts in England and Wales.

Health visitors in Scotland will now start on Band 7, with a starting salary of £33,222. In contrast, health visitor in England, Wales and Northern Ireland usually start at band 6, with starting salaries of around £28,050.

Unions claim the change better reflects the contribution health visitors pay to the health and wellbeing of communities.

It is hoped the change will attract more skilled nurses to the usually under resourced speciality.

Norman Provan, RCN Associate Director, said: “Health visitors play a crucial role in supporting parents and children through the early years. The importance of their contribution to the health and wellbeing of our communities needed to be reflected in the pay that these specialist nurses receive.

“The RCN pushed to have the job re-evaluated and we are pleased that the process confirmed our position – that health visitors deserve more financial recognition for the job that they do. The new job description and banding have been agreed nationally and we are now looking for health boards across Scotland to apply this for their health visitor workforce.”

Working in ‘trying circumstances’.

Unite the union are putting pressure on the Scottish Governement to ensure the increase is properly funded and funding is not diverted from other key services.

Gavin Fergie, Unite’s Lead Professional Officer for health in Scotland, said: “Unite is pleased that the higher banding is a recognition of the professional dedication and quality of service provided by health visitors in Scotland. Under often trying circumstances, they do their professional best to address Scotland’s public health needs.

“The health visiting service is at a cross roads in Scotland with the numbers of practitioners not available to meet the demands and aspirations of the service.

“Unite hopes that this decision will add to the attraction of being a health visitor as a career choice. However, we are equally clear that this re-banding must not come at the expense of other colleagues in the wider health sector and result in future cuts by health boards.

“The Scottish Government must ensure that this increase is properly resourced and no finances are diverted away from other key areas.”

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Should BBC Scotland’s Graham Stewart resign as state broadcaster misses 100% success in critical NHS target performance? – Talking-up Scotland http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/should-bbc-scotlands-graham-stewart-resign-as-state-broadcaster-misses-100-success-in-critical-nhs-target-performance-talking-up-scotland/ Mon, 31 Dec 2018 12:45:14 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/should-bbc-scotlands-graham-stewart-resign-as-state-broadcaster-misses-100-success-in-critical-nhs-target-performance-talking-up-scotland/ Should I be flattered? In a rare communication since his former boss tried to have me sacked, a BBC Reporting Scotland reporter has had a go at responding to my recent piece on how a BMA study undermines their agenda on NHS targets. Here’s the TuS report: Here’s one of Stewart’s three tweets in response:...

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Should I be flattered? In a rare communication since his former boss tried to have me sacked, a BBC Reporting Scotland reporter has had a go at responding to my recent piece on how a BMA study undermines their agenda on NHS targets. Here’s the TuS report:

Here’s one of Stewart’s three tweets in response:

Taking this as evidence of a principled position by our state broadcaster, why did they, then, miss one of the targets which NHS Scotland had met 100% and for the fifth year in succession? Could that be suppression of information?

Here is the one they conveniently missed:

The target is for 90% of patients to be screened within 365 days of receipt oi referral. Demand for the screening had gone up 5.36% since the last quarter yet 100% were screened within 365 days. The target has been met since in was first measured in 2015.

This is a quite significant and newsworthy target given that its failure to be met in England has had wider and shocking consequences for corruption in the NHS, benefiting the private sector and politicians and for related mental health conditions. See:

IVF failures create knock-on effects in women’s mental health

Failing to treat infertility can result in problems and further costs for the NHS in other areas. A Danish study of 98 737 women, between 1973 and 2003, showed that women who were unable to have children were 47% more likely to be hospitalised for schizophrenia and had a significantly higher risk of subsequent drug and alcohol abuse. See this:

IVF in England has become a licence to print money.

As we tumble toward a hard Brexit and trade deals with the USA allowing the private sector into the heart of the NHS, we can see how things will work out in the already privatised IVF service in England and contrast it with the state-controlled and regulated version, in Scotland. See this from the Guardian today:

‘Private fertility clinics routinely try to sell desperate patients add-ons that almost certainly don’t help – why isn’t more done to monitor the industry?  Around three-quarters of all IVF cycles fail. And results vary with age. Figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) published in March state the average live birth-rate for each fresh embryo transferred for women of all ages is 21%; for those aged under 35, it is 29% – the highest it has ever been. For older women, the picture is bleaker: 10% for women aged 40-42, for example. IVF is expensive. And what makes it worse, says Hugh Risebrow, the report’s author, is the lack of pricing transparency. “The headline prices quoted may be, say, £3,500, but you end up with a bill of £7,000,” he says. “This is because there are things not included that you need – and then things that are offered but are not evidence-based.”’

IVF in England has created opportunities for the private sector

In Tory-run NHS England, only 12% of boards offer three full cycles in line with official guidance. 61% offer only one cycle of treatment and 4% offer none at all. Private treatment costs between £1 343 and £5 788 per cycle.

Why some UK politicians would like more privatisation in the NHS

There are 64 Tory and Labour (New) MPs with ‘links’ to private health care. Why would we trust them to protect the NHS? See this:

Perhaps Stewart could pass this to the BBC Scotland Disclosure Team to investigate?

For more, see:

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NATO and an Independent Scotland – Bella Caledonia http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/nato-and-an-independent-scotland-bella-caledonia/ Wed, 26 Dec 2018 12:45:20 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/nato-and-an-independent-scotland-bella-caledonia/ ​The issue of nuclear weapons and an independent Scotland is one of the most hotly contested questions concerning independence. The Scottish National Party has made its opposition to nuclear weapons a primary point in arguing the case for an independent state. The argument has usually been made in terms of SNP opposition to the renewal...

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​The issue of nuclear weapons and an independent Scotland is one of the most hotly contested questions concerning independence. The Scottish National Party has made its opposition to nuclear weapons a primary point in arguing the case for an independent state. The argument has usually been made in terms of SNP opposition to the renewal of the UK’s Trident missile system, but SNP spokespeople have also stressed its rejection of all nuclear weapons. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon continues to endorse this position and it continues to be one of the major reasons advanced for an independent Scotland.

Is this a genuine position or is it just rhetoric? After all, the SNP conference in October 2012 approved a resolution stating that an independent Scotland would seek to remain a member of NATO. This decision constituted a sharp reversal of the previous policy opposing NATO membership. The issue of Scotland and NATO requires serious analysis, not sloganeering.

The SNP and Nuclear Weapons

​The SNP has always opposed nuclear weapons and has frequently pledged that an independent Scotland would be free of all nuclear weapons. For instance, a 1976 statement held that all governments with nuclear weapons in Scottish territory “will be required to remove them.” A 1992 statement reaffirmed that an independent Scotland “will order nuclear weapons and installations off our soil.”

​Of course, the focus has always been on removing the UK’s Trident carrying submarines from Faslane. That issue has always been viewed as an important aspect of asserting Scottish independence from Westminster, with its blatant disregard for the welfare of Scots. A good example of this stance was voiced by Colin Campbell, acting as the SNP’s spokesperson on military affairs, who stated in 2001 that the issue of Trident was non-negotiable and the UK government would “have to work out” whether the cost of relocating the submarines was “worth the cost.”

The SNP and NATO

​This remains the official SNP position. Nevertheless, despite the consistent position on nuclear weapons, the SNP has vacillated in its position on NATO. Yet NATO’s policy is clear. Nuclear weapons are an important part of the alliance’s arsenal. In a statement issued in 2012, the member countries reaffirmed that “nuclear weapons are a core component of NATO’s overall capabilities.” Furthermore, “NATO will remain a nuclear alliance.” As a military alliance, there is an understanding that member nations will permit the United States, the NATO country that holds the vast majority of the alliance’s nuclear weapons, to make use of military bases within their territory.

​This has left the SNP in a delicate position trying to balance its policy opposing nuclear weapons with its desire to maintain friendly relations with the United States. In the 1960s, the SNP was clearly opposed to Scotland’s membership in NATO. In the 1970s, the SNP altered its previous policy, proposing that Scotland’s continued membership in NATO would be contingent on it ceasing to be a nuclear alliance. To be clear, the SNP was suggesting that it would be willing to support membership in NATO, but only if Scotland was not required to host nuclear weapons and if the alliance stopped considering nuclear weapons as a critical component of its arsenal. These were conditions that had no possibility of being fulfilled, so the SNP’s change in policy was more one of attitude, rather than a significant shift in position.

​In the early 1980s, the SNP reasserted its unconditional opposition to NATO. By then it had become clear to everyone that NATO was a military alliance that relied on the threat to use nuclear weapons and that this policy was not going to change. In its 1992 election manifesto, the party held that “membership of a nuclear weapons based alliance system is inconsistent with the SNP non-nuclear defence policy.” In 1997, the manifesto called for “a phased withdrawal from NATO.”

​By 2012, the SNP was a party in power seeking to present itself as a mainstream alternative to the Westminster parties. Furthermore, the agreement to hold a referendum on Scottish independence had just been reached and the SNP leadership was worried that opposition to NATO might cost pro-independence forces favourable votes. At its annual conference in October 2012, the party’s leadership rammed through a policy committing the SNP to “maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons.” This position represented a distinct change in SNP policy, not only from the one that had previously been held, but from any of the party’s prior statements. At times in the past, the SNP had conditioned any possibility of remaining in NATO on a change in the alliance’s policy on nuclear weapons. The 2012 statement made no mention of NATO policy, but rather narrowed its concerns to the hosting of nuclear weapons in Scottish territory.

Faslane and Nuclear Weapons

​The SNP has had a difficult time justifying its willingness to maintain NATO membership, while maintaining that an independent Scotland would be free of nuclear weapons. As a result, SNP leaders have presented a series of deliberately misleading statements. When Alex Salmond, then the first minister, explained the new policy in a statement given to the BBC Scotland immediately prior to the 2012 conference, he pointed out that “twenty-six of the 29 countries in NATO are non-nuclear countries.” This statement is true, but irrelevant to the issue. No one seriously believes that an independent Scotland would attempt to become a nuclear power. The real issue is whether Scotland would continue to permit its military bases to be used by U. S. submarines and planes armed with nuclear weapons.

​In fact, the Faslane Naval Base is currently being used by U. S. subs carrying Trident missiles. Although the United States follows a ‘do not ask, do not tell’ policy and thus never formally notifies a host country that one of its subs or planes is carrying nuclear weapons, experienced observers can tell. In March 2018, a sub of the Ohio class, most of which carry Trident missiles, docked at Faslane. Furthermore, U. S. subs of both the Ohio and Virginia class have been frequently seen entering the Faslane base. (The Virginia class subs are designed to destroy enemy submarines and are therefore not armed with nuclear weapons. Both Ohio and Virginia class submarines are powered by nuclear reactors.)

​Faslane is not only the home port of the UK’s submarine fleet, it also hosts U.S. subs carrying Trident missiles. Should an independent Scotland remain a member of NATO, U. S. submarines would continue to use Faslane, so Scotland would not be free of nuclear weapons, even if the UK’s submarines carrying Trident missiles were moved to an English base.

The Danish Option

​Most of those who support Scotland’s continued membership in NATO realise that, in general, member countries agree that their military bases can be used by U. S. subs and planes armed with nuclear weapons. Still, they argue, a country can explicitly opt out of this informal agreement and still continue to be a member of NATO. To validate this claim, they point to Denmark and Norway as countries that have approved resolutions rejecting the stationing of nuclear weapons within their territory and yet remain within NATO.

​In April 1988, the Danish parliament approved a resolution stating that visiting warships would have to be notified of that country’s policy on nuclear weapons. The resolution was passed over the opposition of the government, then controlled by conservative parties. Thirty-one years previously, the Danish government had issued a statement that it opposed nuclear weapons and would not allow them within its territory. This earlier statement had remained a mere wish, so the 1988 resolution was an effort to implement the guideline adopted in the 1950s.

​The 1988 resolution created a significant diplomatic stir. The United States reaffirmed its position that it would not notify a host country as to whether a specific sub or plane carried nuclear weapons. Furthermore, the Danish government was convinced that actually implementing the resolution would lead to Denmark’s being forced to withdraw from NATO.

​An informal and confidential agreement was forged that enabled both countries to resolve this impasse. The Danish government sent the United States and NATO a formal memorandum stating that it opposed nuclear weapons and did not want them on its territory. Then, when a specific submarine or plane notifies the Danish authorities that it is about to use one of its military bases, the Danish government sends a note notifying the United States that it “assumes” that the visit will be “in compliance with” Danish policy. No mention of nuclear weapons is made in these follow up notes.

​This informal agreement remains in force to this day. Furthermore, U. S. officials have made it clear that the Danish understanding is “similar to an arrangement with Norway.” Both countries continue to adhere to a nominal policy of opposing nuclear weapons within their territory and yet both continue to allow U. S. submarines carrying Trident missiles to dock at their naval bases.

​The reality is that NATO membership is incompatible with a genuine determination to ensure that a country is free of nuclear weapons. The Danish government understood this, so it agreed to an arrangement that eviscerated the resolution approved by its parliament.

A Way Forward

​The current SNP policy is untenable. As long as Scotland remains within NATO it will not be free of nuclear weapons. As it stands now, it is very possible that Scottish independence would lead to the UK eventually moving its Trident fleet from Faslane to an English port. This would not mean that Scotland no longer hosted nuclear weapons. The United States would continue to dock its submarine fleet at Faslane, including those subs carrying Trident missiles. An end to such visits could only occur if and when Scotland leaves NATO.

​The call for a nuclear weapons free Scotland has widespread popular support. Making it a reality will require not only expeditiously moving the UK’s Trident fleet from Faslane, but leaving NATO as well. Without this, Scotland will be left playing a part in an elaborate masquerade aimed at bolstering the spurious credibility of a sham policy. We will be left with a meaningless gesture without substance.

​The Scottish peace movement should set NATO as a priority issue. As long as Scotland remains within NATO its military bases will continue to host U. S. submarines and planes carrying nuclear weapons. Scotland can lead the way toward a peaceful future, and a world without nuclear weapons, but only if it leaves NATO.

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The SNP just sent a warning shot to Labour in Scotland http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/the-snp-just-sent-a-warning-shot-to-labour-in-scotland/ Fri, 21 Dec 2018 12:45:54 +0000 http://www.debtadvisoryscotland.net/the-snp-just-sent-a-warning-shot-to-labour-in-scotland/ Despite losing a third of its MPs in 2017, the Scottish National Party (SNP) still rules the roost in Scotland. And a warning shot sent to the Labour Party shows the SNP wants to keep it that way. With Scottish Labour reportedly on the rise, the SNP government has stressed its own left-wing credentials by...

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Despite losing a third of its MPs in 2017, the Scottish National Party (SNP) still rules the roost in Scotland. And a warning shot sent to the Labour Party shows the SNP wants to keep it that way.

With Scottish Labour reportedly on the rise, the SNP government has stressed its own left-wing credentials by announcing its commitment to a publicly owned Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB). In doing so, the SNP is essentially putting a Labour pledge into action before it can do so itself.

A “truly transformative” plan

On 28 February, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the SNIB would make around £500m available in the next three years for new investment. The bank, she insisted, could be “truly transformative”.

Tesco Bank CEO Benny Higgins developed the plan, and recommended funds of at least £2bn over the course of its first ten years. The SNIB will give microloans to small businesses and up to £10m to expanding businesses, along with debt support. Part of its aim will be to move Scotland towards a greener economy.

University College London’s Prof Mariana Mazzucato has influenced the plan as an economic adviser to the Scottish government. And after the launch, she said:

around the world state investment banks are taking centre stage in providing such finance for key social and environmental challenges… [The bank] will help steer the path of innovation towards overcoming key challenges by creating and shaping new markets.

Precisely what’s needed. And Jeremy Corbyn agrees.

The New Economics Foundation’s Laurie Macfarlane has previously insisted that:

Meeting the key challenges of the 21st century – climate change, demographic change and economic inequality – requires substantial amounts of long-term and sustainable investment, but relying on expensive private financing schemes has saddled taxpayers with eye watering costs and poor quality outcomes.

And UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems to agree. In 2016, he told Scottish voters:

There has to be an investment-led economy and there has to be full employment for all. And you have to have a Scottish investment bank as part of it…

Speaking in Glasgow in January, meanwhile, he reiterated his commitment to setting up a national investment bank and a network of regional banks across the UK. This would spark “investment-led growth”, he said, “from fast-tracking infrastructure spending… to building the essential transport and digital links to realise our potential”.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell pledged the same thing in 2016, saying these banks would “help mobilise £500bn into the economy and transform Britain”. And in 2017, he said:

Other economies are growing now across Europe and across the world and that is as a result of government intervention… That is why I have put forward proposals for a national investment bank… It is about long-term stable investment, patient investment…

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”

Scottish Labour’s economy spokesperson, Jackie Baillie, responded to the SNP’s plans by saying:

While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the SNP appear to have only sketched this out on the back of a fag packet.

She continued:

The SNP’s proposed Scottish Investment Bank is in danger of not having enough money to do the job required, to invest in business and grow our economy.

Scottish Labour is committed to delivering a Scottish Investment Bank worthy of the name, with £20 billion of funding over the next decade – ten times more than the amount proposed by the SNP, because that’s what it takes to really transform our economy.

Not radical enough?

The usual suspects – neoliberal thinktanks and billionaire-backed media outlets – say the idea of a national investment bank is ‘barmy’ and “unnecessary”. But that’s no surprise. They’re still clinging on to a failed ideology (neoliberalism), and the false idea that inequality is a force for economic good.

More up-to-date commentators, on the other hand, have claimed that “Labour’s investment bank plan could help fix our damaging financial system”, and that it could be “an opportunity to pioneer new approaches to public ownership and democratic accountability”. One financial sector worker, meanwhile, emphasised that it’s actually an uncontroversial and even mainstream proposal elsewhere. Writing at OpenDemocracy,John Marlow insisted that it’s:

easy to point to Germany’s Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau or any number of other promotional banks around the world. In fact, the UK’s utilities, universities and corporate sector have been receiving several billion in financing from the EU’s own Luxembourg-based investment bank every year. If we lose out on that because of Brexit, it would seem only sensible to put something in its place.

In fact, he worried that “Corbyn’s proposal might not be radical enough”.

A new consensus

Scottish Labour has long needed to break with its past and flank the SNP from the left. And new leader Richard Leonard knows it. As he said in November 2017, there’s:

a new consensus around where the Labour Party needs to sit politically… which is about extending public ownership, which is about ending austerity, which is about investing in public services and which is about seeing a shift in power from the few to the many.

He believes Scottish Labour is now winning back lost voters.

But the SNP isn’t going to take that fight lying down. And by putting one of Jeremy Corbyn’s big manifesto pledges into action before the Labour Party could get the chance, it has shown it’s up to the challenge.

Get Involved!

– Read The Canary‘s previous coverage of the SNP and Scotland.

Featured image via Kenneth Halley/Licence

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