Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 356

Issue # 356                                                                       Week ending 9th  July 2016

Why Politicians Don’t Want to Look Like A Dog’s Dinner by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Note: Maragan dubh is the plural of marag dubh - the Gaelic for black pudding.
Some years ago, the children lined up in the canteen for lunch of an island primary school on the west side of Lewis run by a teacher who was very religious. At the head of the table was a large tray of hot dogs. The teacher came in, looking very presbyterian, and plonked a sign on the hot dog tray. It said: “Take only one. God is watching.”

At the other end of the table, was another big tray with a pile of yummy chocolate eclairs. One boy was heard to say to another: “Take all the eclairs you want, Alasdair. God is at the other end watching the hot dogs.”

Simply eating plays a dangerous part in politics as well as in primary education for elected representatives. More hazardous than stress, falling over their own feet or wardrobe malfunctions. Or kissing babies. All these have made even veteran politicians look awkward or clumsy when a camera is clicking but the most dangerous of all is hunger.

They cannot avoid eating or drinking at some point in their working day. When they give in to this basest of instincts and reach for something tasty like a hot dog or a bacon sarnie, it’s carnage. That’s when the common or garden elected member comes over all awkward and ends up looking silly.

It is not just because politicians often go for lunch while they are discussing important matters of the day like Brexit, the Australian election or whether the capital of the Scottish Highlands should have a pier that looks like a bridge that wasn’t finished because they ran out of cement and stuff. It’s that it can make them look completely stupid.

Who can forget the pained, industrious expression on Ed Miliband’s face tucking into a bacon sandwich in 2014? That photo popped up everywhere and helped shred his credibility as someone who could be like us, the ordinary people.

David Cameron later found himself at lunch with a big sausage in a roll in front of him. Desperate to avoid a “Milibacon” photo, he approached the hot dog with a knife and fork. Wot? That did nothing for his credibility as someone on the level with voters who never used cutlery for a jumbo wiener with extra ketchup and onions.

Sensible politicians will do what they can to avoid being seen scoffing or slurping. Lessons have been learned now. There are notable exceptions like Nigel Farage, who is not the leader of UKIP this week. He grabs a pint and a fag when a camera is around so he is seen as a normal cove with ordinary pastimes like swigging and puffing - and so eventually becoming a strain on our creaking NHS.

They love sausages in Australia. They even have sausage sizzle booths at the polling stations when they go to vote as they have been doing in the last few days. Although they are still counting the votes in an apparently close tie, the main talking point is how to eat a banger. Opposition leader Bill Shorten caused outrage when he tried to eat his sausage-and-bun combination from the middle, not from the end.

What the ...? Why would he do that? He was obviously trying too hard to avoid a “Milibacon” incident. Everyone puts the end of the hotdog into their mouth first. To nibble in the middle is like, well, pretty unforgivable. In front of the cameras? What were you thinking, Bill? Man up, for goodness sake.

Being peckish can let us all down. I happen to know a friendly fellow from the north side of Lewis who was in Edinburgh last year for a family celebration. It went on long into the night and the following morning he was still under the weather. He skipped breakfast at his hotel and wobbled off to catch his train. Then the hunger pangs started.

Luckily, through the haze of his pounding hangover, he spotted out of the corner of his eye a certain window display. “Ah, maragan dubh. Just the job.” he thought. He dashed in and asked for a Stornoway black pudding. He was going to eat it cold on the train. Yep, some people do. As soon as he ordered it, the assistant asked: “Are you from Stornoway yourself then?”

Feeling he should stand up for the national appeal of island produce, he demanded: “Why did you ask me if I’m from Stornoway just because I asked for Stornoway black pudding? If I asked for Danish bacon would you ask if I was from Denmark?”  She said: “Probably not. But they’re not black puddings in the window. They’re black brogues. You’re in a shoe shop.”

Queen Tells Scotland to ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, As Nicola Sturgeon Affirms Nation’s Place in European Union
The Queen urged the nation to 'keep calm and carry on' in the wake of the Brexit vote - as Nicola Sturgeon affirmed Scotland's place within the European Union.  Speaking after the most febrile political week of her 64-year reign, which has put Scotland on the path to a second independence referendum, the monarch said it was important to stay “calm and collected” when events were moving at “remarkable speed”.  Opening the fifth session of the Scottish Parliament since devolution, she told MSPs: “One hallmark of leadership in such a fast-moving world is allowing sufficient room for quiet thinking and contemplation, which can in turn enable deeper, cooler consideration of how challenges and opportunities can be best addressed.”  Although she did not mention Brexit directly, her message was not hard to decipher given the turmoil since June 23.  Speaking after the Queen, the First Minister, who has said a second referendum is “highly likely” if Scotland is pulled out the EU against its wishes, underlined her commitment to maintaining Scotland’s European ties, something that may only be possible with independence. Let us “play our part in a stronger Europe and a better world,” she said.  Sturgeon said MSPs had been given the "precious opportunity to contribute to building a better country - and build it we will", adding: "To do so we must be bold and ambitious. We must show courage and determination. Our collective commitment to the people of Scotland today is that we will not shy away from any challenge we face, no matter how difficult or deep-rooted."  Sturgeon also took a swipe at the Leave campaign’s xenophobia saying Scotland would remain an “open and inclusive nation” and thanking the thousands of EU migrants who had made their home here.  Reflecting on “who we are in Scotland today,” Sturgeon said: “We treat others with respect. We celebrate our differences...We are more than five million men and women, adults, young people and children, each with our own life story and family history, and our own hopes and dreams.  We are the grandchildren and the great grandchildren of the thousands who came from Ireland to work in our shipyards and in our factories. We are the 80,000 Polish people, the 8,000 Lithuanians, the 7,000 each from France, Spain, Germany, Italy and Latvia. We are among the many from countries beyond our shores that we are so privileged to have living here amongst us.  We are the more than half a million people born in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who have chosen to live here in Scotland. We are the thousands of European students studying at our universities and our colleges. We are the doctors and nurses from all across our continent and beyond who care for us daily in our National Health Service.  Whether we have lived here for generations or are new Scots, from Europe, India, Pakistan, Africa and countries across the globe we are all of this and more. We are so much stronger for the diversity that shapes us. We are one Scotland and we are simply home to all of those who have chosen to live here. That is who and what we are.”

Help Call for Rural Fuel Poor
CALLS have been made for both the Scottish and UK governments to reduce fuel poverty, particularly in rural areas where it is at its worst.  Highland is one of the worst areas in Scotland with more than half (55 per cent) of residents spending more than 10 per cent of their income on energy – the measure of fuel poverty set by Westminster.  This is 20 per cent higher than the  national average of 35 per cent in fuel poverty, according to the Scottish Homes Condition Survey and is one of the worst in the country, beaten only by the Western Isles and Orkney Islands. Rural fuel poverty has been called unacceptable by Dr Russell Barr, moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland.  He said: “I am calling on the Scottish and Westminster governments to help rural communities affected by fuel poverty.Higher charges paid by electricity consumers in the remotest parts of Scotland and no mains gas supply means some of our most vulnerable communities are hit hardest.  It is unacceptable  that some of the highest levels of fuel poverty are in the areas with the richest potential for renewable energy whether wind or hydro.” Both governments have pledged to reduce fuel poverty, with the Scottish Government planning to eradicate it ‘as far as reasonably practicable’ by November this year.  A spokeswoman said: “The Home Energy Efficiency Programmes for Scotland: Area Based Schemes target fuel-poor areas, to provide energy efficiency measures to a large number of households while saving emissions and helping to reduce fuel poverty. They may offer you energy efficiency measures, depending on where you live. The schemes are designed and delivered by local authorities in conjunction with local delivery partners.” The UK Government has its own ambitions and aims to  see as many fuel-poor homes as possible with a Band C Energy Company Obligation (ECO) rating.

Taking Steps to Stay Fit
Diabetes UK is calling on people in Caithness to take one million steps each in July, August and September to raise money for the charity.  With people advised to take a minimum of 10,000 steps a day to maintain good health, the charity has come up with a way to encourage people to get sponsored to improve their fitness.  The 1 Million Step Challenge works out at 10,000 steps a day but people can do other exercise to count towards the total.  The money raised will help Diabetes UK fund research into the condition and support some of the four million people in the UK who have it.  Jane-Claire Judson, national director of Diabetes Scotland, said: “Walking is a great way of keeping fit and active, and can help you to maintain a healthy weight which is key to reducing your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Getting plenty of exercise and eating healthily can also help people with diabetes to manage their condition well.”

Highlanders Surrender 1107 Air Weapons
The initial Air Weapon Surrender period is now complete with a total of 11,569 air weapons handed in to Police stations throughout Scotland.   Within Highland and Islands Division, 1107 air weapons were surrendered, which was the second highest amount from Scottish divisions. The majority of the weapons have already been sent for destruction. Due to the resounding success of the initiative, and in order to further reduce the amount of air weapons in circulation, Police Scotland has extended the amnesty until December 31 and arrangements are in place at all Police stations within the division to allow for any unwanted weapons to be handed in for destruction.  Members of the public who no longer wish to keep an air weapon are encouraged to take the opportunity to hand it in to their nearest Police station before the end of the year.   Anyone who resides in a remote area and is unable to transport their air weapon to a Police station should contact Police on 101 and ask for an officer to collect the weapon from their home address. They will do all they can to accommodate your request. The new licensing regime is not a ban on air weapons but a means of ensuring people can use air weapons in a regulated way without compromising public safety. The legislation aims to strike the right balance between protecting communities and allowing legitimate shooting in a safe environment to continue. To keep or use an Air weapon after December 31 this year without a licence could result in prosecution under the Air Weapon and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2015which carries penalties of a fine or up to two years imprisonment.

Planning Application Lodged for New Village Square in Ardgay
An ambitious proposal to redevelop a derelict site in the centre of a bypassed Sutherland community has reached an important milestone.  A planning application has been lodged with Highland Council to regenerate the centre of Ardgay in the hope of giving the village new heart.  The exciting scheme involves demolishing the run-down Lady Ross Hotel, which currently occupies the site, and replacing it with a proper village square, bordered by a terrace of four affordable houses, parking and a business hub. The Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust (KoSDT) is spearheading the project and has the support of Ardgay and District Community Council, Highland Council and others.  Architect Catriona Hill, of CH Architecture, Bonar Bridge, has been appointed agent for the redevelopment. She said earlier this week that a funding package was in place and, if consent is granted, work could start fairly quickly.  Ardgay began to slide downhill economically after the Dornoch Bridge opened 25 years ago, bypassing the community.  The area has since been hit by the closure of Carbisdale Castle youth hostel in 2011 and the destruction by fire of the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre in 2013.  However, there have been signs of an upturn, with a grocery store cum café and a bike shop opening in the village last year.  It is also understood work is due to start shortly on a  £1.8 million youth and family centre at South Bonar Industrial Estate, between Ardgay and Bonar Bridge.  The Lady Ross Hotel stands on a one acre site and was once a thriving business but closed down after going into liquidation some eight years ago. It has since fallen into disrepair.  KoSDT decided to embark on a regeneration project in 2015 and local people were consulted about how the site should be redeveloped.  The group’s application for £530,000 from the Scottish Government Regeneration Capital Fund has been successful and funding has also been forthcoming from Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish and Southern Electricity.  Owners Colin and Christine Mitchell, who took over the Lady Ross Hotel nearly four decades ago, recently put the site on the market and KoSDT confirmed this week that the sale has gone through.  Catriona Hill said the masterplan involved demolishing the hotel building, landscaping the area to form a village square and providing 24 new parking spaces.  A historic barn, located next to the hotel, will be refurbished to provide serviced office space. KoSDT is expected to move into this new hub along with the area’s tourist information centre but space will be available for other businesses.  Ms Hill confirmed that bats had been found in the barn but said this had been expected and would not hold the redevelopment back unduly.  Planned at a later date is a terrace of four affordable homes to the west of the square and three affordable housing plots which will be to the back of the site.

Brain Family to Give Evidence to MPs on Immigration System Experiences
A family fighting deportation from the UK is to give evidence to a committee of MPs about its experience of the immigration system.  Members of the Scottish Affairs Committee will hear from Kathryn and Gregg Brain, who moved from Australia to Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands with their son Lachlan in 2011.  The family’s campaign to remain in the country following the withdrawal of the post-study work visa has made headlines around the world. The committee is visiting the Isle of Skye as part of an inquiry into the demography of Scotland and the implications for devolution.  A public evidence session held at Sabhal Mor Ostaig will focus on the challenges faced by people living in rural communities.  Speaking before the session, SNP committee chair Pete Wishart MP, said: “I am delighted to be coming to Skye, to meet the people who live here and understand the challenges they face. It is pleasing that the last few decades have seen steady population growth on the island. However, it is important that we keep investigating policies that enable inhabitants to live fulfilled lives and attract others to move here. I am especially pleased to be hearing from Gregg and Kathryn Brain. During an inquiry such as this it is easy to focus on cold, hard statistics.  However, it is equally valuable to hear about the real experiences of those involved in the immigration system, to understand what attracted them to Scotland and hear the challenges they are facing in staying here.”

Getting Western Isles Online
A national roadshow giving people free advice and help with using the internet is coming to the Western Isles.  With almost 17% of people in Scotland missing out on the benefits of being online, the Scottish Government’s Let’s Get Online campaign is set to help people across Scotland get online with a nationwide roadshow.  From keeping in touch with friends and family and searching for jobs, to managing bills and watching catch-up TV, the campaign aims to highlight the benefits the internet can provide.  The Let’s Get Online team will visit towns and cities across Scotland from 31 May until 22 July offering free, informal, one-to-one, drop-in sessions on how to get online.  The free drop-in sessions will take place in the Western Isles on the 13 July from 10am to 5pm in Stornoway.  Trained and friendly staff will host over 100 sessions at a variety of locations ranging from supermarkets and job centres to local community hubs and shopping centres.  The team will help people experience the benefits of being online first hand by providing people with one-to-one support for a variety of online activities such as how to search for jobs, set up an email address, tips for safe internet shopping and banking and how to video call friends and family.

An Independent Scotland Would Only Need Majority to Join EU, Even If Spain Wanted to Block It.
An independent Scotland could become a member of the European Union even if Spain wanted to block it, a law expert has revealed.  Professor Sionaidh Douglas-Scott said full statehood could be achieved if a majority, rather than a unanimity, of EU members, backed it.  Her view of the complex EU rule book removes the threat of a single country, such as Spain, being able to veto Scottish membership for their own domestic reasons. Douglas-Scott, of Queen Mary University London, told Holyrood’s Europe Committee there was a way that Scotland could stay in without Spain’s blessing.  She said Scotland could carry out its own negotiations with Brussels while the UK was leaving the EU under the formal process known as article 50.  Scotland could then claim to be the “successor state” to the UK and be kept in by majority support after a Yes vote in an independence referendum. Douglas-Scott said: “If Scotland, whether as successor state or with some other arrangement, wanted to proceed under the umbrella of article 50, it would be looking for a majority, rather than unanimity.  But if Scotland was looking for recognition as a new independent state, there might be pressure to go to article 49, which is the accession procedure, and that requires unanimity.” A Scottish Government source said: “This is an interesting contribution. Many key players in Europe are indicating they are open to finding a solution for Scotland. And if an independence referendum is the chosen route, then this suggestion, or something like it, may well come into play.”  As the potential implications of the Brexit vote started to emerge last week, Nicola Sturgeon travelled to Brussels to drum up support for Scotland staying in the EU.  The First Minister met key figures, including the president of the European Parliament.  She was given a warm reception from politicians keen to hold the EU together while the UK unpicks its relationship with Brussels.  Scotland’s future in the bloc of 28 states was endorsed at the weekend by German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel, who is close to Chancellor Angela Merkel.  Gabriel told a German newspaper that the EU would certainly accept Scotland as a member in its own right after leaving the UK.  But Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and others have threatened to block an easy route in for Scotland.  Rajoy has serious concerns that Catalan secessionists would seize on Scottish membership to back their case for leaving Spain.  Rajoy also ruled out talks with Scotland before article 50 is triggered.  He said: “I want to be very clear Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union.  Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the Government of United Kingdom.”  Nicola Sturgeon WILL hold second independence referendum as advisers urge her to call poll before Brexit talks conclude. “Scotland is not, and never has been, a member state. The UK is the member state, and continues to be so, notwithstanding this month’s referendum result.  The clear focus of energy in Scotland now should be in playing a lead role in ensuring that the UK secures the best possible deal for its future relations with our European partners."

UK Government Should Copy Nicola Sturgeon's Brexit Panel

The UK Government should follow Nicola Sturgeon’s lead and appoint an expert panel to help it prepare for Brexit, former Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has said.  The First Minister appointed the high-profile team within days of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union.  Included are former diplomat Lord John Kerr and former European Court of Justice judge Sir David Edward. "x-Liberal Democrat MP Mr Moore, who is now a devolution adviser to PwC, said that in the wake of the shock Brexit vote “people are looking for a plan and they are looking for leadership”. He added: "The Scottish Government has set up its advisory panel.  I hope that the UK Government in Westminster will match that.”  He praised the expertise of those who will be advising the First Minister.  “Everybody on that panel, you can see how they have earned their place, and they are also quite independent-minded.  (For instance) Charles Grant, who is probably one of the most pre-eminent European experts in the UK and Europe, is the kind of guy who can go in and talk to the top officials and ministers anywhere on the continent.  The First Minister and others deserve credit for having a broad range of people, who won’t just go along with a particular view. They are there to offer expertise and presumably also to challenge."  He also expressed concern that civil servants will now have to focus a lot of their time and energies on Brexit potentially to the cost of other important policies, such as the devolution of new powers to Scotland.

Extra Bus Safety Net for Island Travellers
Western Isles Council will pay Scottish Citylink to lay on an extra bus in a bid to avoid Stornoway ferry passengers being stranded on the mainland.  Travellers regularly complain about being left behind on the operator’s Inverness to Ullapool service which is timed to meet the ferry for Lewis.  Numerous foot passengers have been caught out just turning up without a ticket on the twice daily service.  In one recent case, other travellers had a whip round to pay the £80 taxi fare for a couple who could not get on the bus.  CalMac staff at Stornoway – who take seat bookings for Citylink – face the brunt of people’s frustration when told there is no room on the bus.  The new arrangement only kicks in when travellers turn up without a ticket and the strong message is for passengers to pre-book in plenty of time.  The islands’ council and regional transport authority, Hitrans, will make up the shortfall if Citylink is asked to lay on a special coach.  Demand will be gauged by monitoring the Citylink computerised booking system.  Hitrans and Western Isles Council accept it is “not commercially viable for the operator to ensure that sufficient capacity could always be provided for anyone expecting to travel without a booking.”  Iain Mackay, chair of the council’s transport committee, said: “We very much welcome the co-operation of Scottish Citylink and the opportunity to collaborate with Hitrans in seeking to reduce the likelihood of passengers being stranded in either Inverness or Ullapool.  We do however need to emphasise that, for operational reasons, this additional capacity cannot in any way be completely guaranteed by the operator.  There remains a very real imperative that all passengers should make every effort to book as far in advance as possible of when they intend to travel from either Inverness or Ullapool.”

Historic Fort George Barracks Facing Closure After 250 Years

The historic Fort George barracks near Inverness is “at risk” of being shut down by UK defence chiefs.  It has been revealed that the future of the 250-year-old garrison – home of the famous Black Watch battalion – has been thrown into doubt.  Scottish Government ministers have been told that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering pulling the Army out of the site as part of a nationwide review.  It has been claimed that any such move would represent a “betrayal” of the Highlands.  The SNP’s Keith Brown has written to UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon to say he is “disappointed” by the move – and that it would have “huge significance” for Scotland.  The minister learned of the move from a local meeting. He also warned that it would have a “major impact” on Historic Environment Scotland’s ability to continue operating the site.  Any MoD pull-out from Fort George would represent a huge blow to the economy of Inverness and the Highlands. Built after the Battle of Culloden, the 500-strong Black Watch 3SCOTS is based there, with many of their families also living in the area.  And it is one of the region’s top tourist attractions, being home to The Highlanders’ Museum, the largest regimental museum in Scotland outside of Edinburgh.  Mr Brown is due to raise his concerns about the proposal when he meets UK defence minister Mark Lancaster today.  In his letter to Mr Fallon, the SNP minister said: “I was deeply disappointed to learn through the local Firm Base meeting that Fort George, home of the Black Watch, is at risk in the latest round of MoD reforms.  The base has been in continuous use as a garrison for almost 250 years, so any decision for the Army to vacate the site would have huge significance in Scotland.  There are also considerable practical consequences for the Scottish Government.  Fort George is operated by Historic Environment Scotland, under a scheme of delegation from Scottish ministers who retain ultimate responsibility for the site.  This decision, if taken, would have a major impact on our ability to maintain the site.  I would therefore expect MoD ministers to discuss this with Scottish ministers well before decisions are made.”  Fort George has previously been suggested as a possible area for MoD savings, but was spared the axe when it was last reviewed in 2012.  Inverness and Nairn MSP Fergus Ewing said: “There has been a long list of closures and cuts and cuts to Scottish Army and RAF basess, from the Gordon Highlanders to RAF Kinloss. Many former servicemen inthe Highlands are very proud of their military traditions and history. All of them have long memories and will be appalled at any betrayal of Fort George.”  In January this year, the MoD announced plans to dispose of 12 sites to try to save £500million.  It was the first phase of a plan to reduce its overall estate by 30% and raise £1billion, with a full list of affected sites in the “Footprint Strategy” due to be revealed later this year.

Highland Military Tattoo Boss Says Fort George Must Be Saved
A leading figure at the under-threat Fort George barracks has said that it would be a “sad day” if the base was closed.  Major General Seymour Monro, who is chairman and director of the Highland Military Tattoo and served as chairman of The Highlanders Museum, urged defence chiefs not to pull out of the base.  It was revealed that the 250-year-old garrison was facing the axe in the latest round of Ministry of Defence cuts.  Almost 450 people have signed a petition against its closure in the last few days, including Hollywood actor Hugh Grant, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, MP Drew Hendry and MSPs David Stewart and Kate Forbes.  Built after the Battle of Culloden, the garrison has been the home of the famous 500-strong Black Watch battalion for almost a decade.  The base attracts 55,000 visitors each year, and studies carried out into its economic impact have revealed that its closure could cost the Highlands £14million a year and lead to the loss of 112 jobs. Fears have been raised that any withdrawal from the site by the Army could threaten the future of the Highlanders Museum, which is also based at Fort George.  Maj Gen Monro CBE previously led a fundraising campaign to raise almost £3million to renovate the regimental museum, with the work completed in 2013.  Previously held at the Northern Meeting Park in Inverness, the biggest tattoo outside Edinburgh was scrapped after 60 years in 2011 due to cost-cutting measures.  It was reborn in 2014 at Fort George, and will be held this year between September 9 and 11.

Declaration of Arbroath Awarded UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ Status
Scotland’s most famous document, the Declaration of Arbroath, was awarded special status by the United Nations. The “precious and fragile” document, drafted in 1320 and kept in the National Records of Scotland, has been included by UNESCO in its UK “Memory of the World” register.  The “Declaration” was a letter to the Pope, written in 1320 and signed by the Scottish barons pledging their resistance to English rule.  Sealed by 51 magnates and nobles and sent to Pope John XXII to assert Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom, it is recognised as the first declaration of contractual monarchy in Europe.  Its inclusion recognises its “outstanding significance to the UK”.  The document was displayed for the first time in 11 years, since it was exhibited at the Scottish Parliament in 2005.  Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop said: “Almost 700 years after the Declaration was drafted, it is fitting that it has been globally-recognised. This iconic document was so important when it was written and has inspired people for many generations and internationally.  It is a clarion call for the expression of the sovereignty of the Scottish people to be recognised -- but this is not just a document for Scotland now; it is a document for the world.  “To have that recognition by Unesco Memory of the World gives it the recognition that it rightly deserves.”  She added: “It is so fragile and so precious and to see it has been a huge personal privilege.”  Tim Ellis, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said: “The Declaration of Arbroath holds a unique place in Scotland’s history and tells a vital piece of our story, as its entry in UNESCO’s Register confirms.  We’re proud to hold it in our collections at National Records of Scotland and to work to preserve it for future generations.”  Elizabeth Oxborrow-Cowan, Chair of UK Committee, UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, said:  “It is one of the earliest articulations of Scottish nationhood and still a very important document in Scottish identity.  The most remarkable thing is that this document has survived for nearly 700 years.”  The Declaration of Arbroath was drafted on April 6th, 1320 -- six years after Robert the Bruce’s historic victory against Edward II at Bannockburn -- as a plea to Pope John XXII to stop supporting the English and recognise Scotland’s independence.  It was most likely drafted in the scriptorium of Arbroath Abbey by Abbot Bernard on behalf of the nobles and barons of Scotland.  It states: “As long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom -- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”  Alan Borthwick, head of medieval and early modern records at the National Records of Scotland, said: “There is little doubt that this is the most important document we have. Most people in Scotland would agree it is ‘the’ iconic Scottish document.  It encapsulates in the course of only around 800 words, the case for Scotland’s ancient sovereignty as well as imploring the assistance of the Pope in bringing an end to the long running dispute with England. It is a remarkable survivor.”

Interactive Clan Map Launched
A leading tartan weaver has launched an interactive map which will allow members of the public to trace their clan roots.  Lochcarron of Scotland has created an interactive map that displays the ancestral lands of Scottish clans.  The map allows users to hover over each clan name and discover the clan history, motto, and tartan specific to this clan.  The map can be found at:

Queen Meets Forensic Expert Behind Richard III Face Reconstruction

The Queen is to meet the forensic anthropologist who led the reconstruction of the face of former king Richard III.  The University of Dundee's Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID), headed by the renowned professor Sue Black, came to worldwide attention in 2012 after reconstructing the face of Richard III based on his remains. The centre is the leading institution for the study and application of human anatomy, forensic human identification, disaster victim identification and forensic science research.  The team's expertise has been vital to a number of high-profile criminal cases across the UK and a s a week of engagements continue in Scotland, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh will visit CAHID to see the work of experts and unveil a plaque.  Earlier in the day, the Queen and Philip are due to meet apprentices working at a tyre factory saved from closure a decade ago. Young workers in the Michelin Tyre Factory in Dundee will demonstrate their skills in the plant which been producing car tyres for 44 years.  It is one of the largest private employers in the city with about 900 staff and it was saved from closure in 2005 when it reversed a management decision.

Wick High School Unveil its Brand New Tartan
Wick High School has created its very own tartan as part of its celebrations of moving to its new home.  Third year art and design students were challenged to create a new tartan for the school with the help of  Blackstairs Highlandwear proprietor Martin Gill. The design will be used for creative projects ranging from incorporating it in to items of clothing  bags, mobile phone covers and other items.  Wick High is also considering using the tartan to go with a new school uniform once it moves to the new community campus in October.

Leadsom Argued Scotland Was 'Heavily Subsidised' by English
One of the candidates battling to become the next Prime Minister argued that Scotland was “heavily subsidised by the English”.  Energy minister Andrea Leadsom also railed against the “enormously costly layers of government” created by Scottish devolution.  The subsidy claims came in a 2007 blog criticising the SNP Government's decision to abolish university tuition fees for Scottish students.  Mrs Leadsom emerged earlier this week the surprise challenger in the fight for the Tory leadership, knocked Michael Gove out of the race exactly a week after he appeared to do the same to Boris Johnson.  The pro-Leave campaigner now faces a run-off with the Home Secretary Theresa May, who called for the UK to stay in the EU.  The SNP claimed that the comments showed that Mrs Leadsom was “itching” to cut Scotland’s funding.  SNP MSP Michael Russell, the convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Finance Committee, said: “We know that elements of the Tory party have for years been itching for the opportunity to hammer Scotland’s budget even further – and Ms Leadsom is just the latest senior Tory to raise questions over Scotland’s funding in recent weeks, following hot on the heels of Michael Gove and several others.  It’s imperative that both leadership candidates now make it absolutely clear that they respect the fiscal framework signed up to by both the Scottish and UK Governments just a few months ago – and if they fail to do so, people in Scotland will be under no illusions as to what they have in store for our budget."  He also said that when the choice for the next Prime Minister is between Mrs Leadsom and Mrs May it was clear that whoever wins "Scotland will lose.”  In the wake of the shock Brexit vote the Home Secretary has insisted she can unite the party.  But her call to stay in the EU was rejected by most of the party’s members.  Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said that she backs Mrs May, but called on her to guarantee that all EU nationals currently living in the UK would be able to stay.  Mr Johnson also put pressure on the Home Secretary to make the same commitment.  Mrs Leadsom has said that she would allow all those currently living here to remain.

These old chestnuts again -Well, if there are too many layers of Government in Scotland & its heavily subsidised , then there is a simple solution........ Independence. So..........why is she so opposed to it? Maybe because, while talking the rhetoric about subsidies, she knows the truth. England would be poorer by 60 billion at least, each year. As well as a submarine park for London's missiles.

Chessmen Come Home
The Lewis Chessmen have arrived on home soil as they await the official opening of the new purpose-built museum at Lews Castle on July 14th.  Six pieces have returned to the Western Isles where they were discovered more than 150-years with a King, Queen, bishop, knight, warder and pawn making up the stunning display. Figures from the Lewis Chessmen have only previously been displayed on the islands on a short-term basis but they will go on permanent display as part of a loan between the Comhairle and the British Museum.

Dounreay History Features At New Exhibition
Photographs, film clips and other objects chronicling the history of the Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) at Dounreay have been sent to Edinburgh to feature in an exhibition showing how the site has contributed to the energy industry in Scotland.  Dounreay is set to feature heavily at the Energise Gallery, which is one of 10 new galleries being launched by the National Museum of Scotland (NMS) on Friday as part of a £14.1 million redevelopment. The relics from the PFR, which was the second and last fast reactor to be built in the UK, include electrical panels from the control room, a uranium glass sculpture of Dounreay which glows in the dark, and pages from the famous boys’ comic Eagle which features the research reactor. PFR was conceived as the final step to bring fast reactors into use as conventional power stations, but in the late 1980s the UK government pulled the plug on the technology. The reactor closed in 1994 and is in the middle of a major programme of decommissioning which is scheduled to see it being levelled by the mid-2020s. The new galleries are opening in the NMS’s 150th anniversary year in the latest phase of an £80 million blueprint to transform the museum and showcase the breadth of its world-class collections.