Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 416

Issue # 416                                             Week ending Saturday 2nd September 2017
Misery Galore in the Outer Hebrides As Tight Little Island Runs Out of Money by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

“There is noo moore wheesky.” Who doesn’t remember that the doleful wail which echoed around the island of Todday in the film Whisky Galore. Young and old bemoaned the terrible effects of war on the island and particularly on the dwindling stocks of the wee dram. The entire story is about the efforts of the wily locals to outwit HM Customs and Excise and, of course, pompous Captain Waggett of the Home Guard who had vowed to discover where they were getting their hooch.

Things have changed since the events that inspired Compton Mackenzie - but not much. Further north, on the island of Harris, the plaintive cry of the lesser-spotted Hearach is: “There is noo moore moneey.” The bustling wee ferry port of Tarbert has been left without a hole-in-the-wall for weeks. The automatic teller machine, or ATM, at the tourist office in the square is empty and it is no longer being replenished with sponduliks by the Bank of Scotland.  Things are getting serious.

Where do the hordes of swarming towrists from Englandshire and beyond get the cash to go and buy some lengths of Harris Tweed and some handmade candles in the Buth Bheag? And how can they join the locals for a wee sip of Harris Gin, distilled just an ollack’s throw away in the inner harbour? Many visitors cannot spend their hard-earned in Tarbert. It’s chust terrible.

Those shops and hostelries that can give cashback may retrieve the situation a little but many other shops and businesses realised what was actually happening. When many visitors arrived and were told the ATM was busted they jumped back into their jalopies and immediately head north to the bright lights and the beeping ATM keypads of Stornoway. And who can blame them?

It was past issues with the ATM that caused this shambles.  Alasdair Allan, the MSP, told the bank to get its act together because the machine was often out of order in the busy summer period. The bank then decided to pass it to a private company to run and the blinking thing has hardly dispensed a banknote since. There are “issues” about ownership. Basically, these two companies have lost sight of the need to urgently serve their customers and have instead got caught up in endless red tape.

Did you know it was actor Reg Varney, the cheery Cockney geezer from On The Buses, who launched the first ATM for Barclays Bank in June 1967? Back then, these ATMs worked a bit differently.  You didn’t need a card but put in your account number. A drawer would open and in it would be a voucher. You had to sign it, like a cheque, put it back in again and enter another code number before it whirred again, clicked and a squeaky drawer slowly opened to give you a crisp, new tenner. If you needed more readies, you had to do the whole shebang all over again.

About 10 years after that, Varney was up in Stornoway on holiday, driving about in an open top car. I didn’t recognise him at first but the dozens of island lasses mobbing him down where the Caledonian Hotel used to be, seemed to be pretty sure it was him. “Come on, Morag. Let’s go and chat up that bus driver guy off the telly.” “Are you sure it’s him? He doesn’t have his uniform on, Mary Ann.” “Of course not, Morag. He’s on holiday. You’re so stupid.”

Yeah, life was simpler back then. In fact, it was a bit like last Wednesday. Remember that day? That was the day that Facebook went down in the morning. How did we survive when the biggest social networking site went offline for a while? After the initial rage and hurling of Anglo Saxon expressions in Gaelic, kettles eventually went on, clothes were finally ironed, rooms were given their overdue dusting and, waow, beds were made. Washing was hung out to dry. Neighbours greeted each other over the back fence. People spoke and told each other what they really thought of Donald Trump - and common, everyday stuff like that.

I suppose that if the Bank of Scotland doesn’t want to maintain the Harris hole-in-the-wall, then they should just hand it over to another bank or company that could run it. I spoke to a new financial company but I don’t think they were serious. The manager was far too cheerful when he said to me: “We would have to find another place to put it in Tarbert - a building or just a wall. In fact, we could even put an ATM in a tree. If it’s successful, we might expand to other branches.”

Victory Parade for Scotland's World Pipe Band Champions Snubbed by Transport Chiefs

A victory parade by Scotland’s world champion pipers has been vetoed by transport chiefs. The Inveraray and District Pipe Band had hoped to stage a 10-minute march down the town’s Main Street tonight.  However, Transport Scotland officials ruled a road closure order could not be agreed in time. But former community council convener Iain MacAskill said: “This is Inveraray, it’s not George Square.  The band really put the town on the map and we wanted to give them some recognition.” They won the world title at Glasgow Green on August 13 – only the second Scottish band to do so in 12 years. The parade plans began to unravel after local police responded to a Facebook post about the march, asking if road closures were in place.  The pipe band had hoped to stage a march down the town's main street. As a result, the community council only contacted Transport Scotland on Tuesday. Band manager Jim McMillan said: “When we won a Grade 2 world title, we just bailed off the bus and marched up the street and didn’t ask permission and nobody said anything about it. We didn’t apply for a licence for this but you’d have thought they might have seen a wee bit of sense in the circumstances.” A Transport Scotland spokes-man said: “Due to short notice, the required legal instruments couldn’t be put in place.”

Castle Attraction is A Towering Success
Inverness Castle’s viewpoint has attracted its most customers yet, pulling in 5013 visitors in July – and surpassing the 15,000 milestone this week.  The North Tower, which offers 360 views of the city, has been so popular it has been open for an extra two hours per day during the summer.  The figure for July tops the 3255 visitors in June and the 2548 who attended in May.  The viewpoint opened in April following refurbishment funded by the Inverness and Highland City-Region Deal.  Opening the tower to the public is the first stage in a wider plan to transform the castle into a tourist attraction, when the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service (SCTS) move to new premises in 2019.  Opening to the public with a free promotion attracting 1500 people over the Easter holidays, the visitor attraction has continued to welcome visitors and guests from all over the world.  On Tuesday, Sarah Allred from San Diego became the 15,000th visitor, along with her husband Brad.  She was presented with a bouquet of flowers to celebrate the milestone.  Inverness Provost Helen Carmichael said: "The view from the top offers a wonderfully different perspective of the city."  The viewpoint will be open to visitors until the end of October.  Meanwhile, the council is in the embarrassing situation of having to apply to itself to erect signs that are already in place at the castle.  The council’s own planning rules were broken when High Life Highland, a company running some council leisure facilities, stuck up the signs after having discussions with the SCTS which operates Inverness Sheriff Court and the District Court from the castle building.

Brexit Exodus As One Million EU Workers See Their Future Outside UK

Almost one million EU nationals currently working in the UK are considering leaving the country in a potential “Brexit brain-drain”, according to a new survey.  Among those who said they were considering quitting Britain were 50% of EU workers with PhDs, 39% with postgraduate degrees and 52% of those on higher incomes who were interviewed for the survey for KPMG UK.  The survey of 2,000 EU citizens found that 45% plan to stay in the UK after Brexit, 35% are considering leaving and 8% have made up their minds to go. If all of those considering departure actually left, it would reduce the UK’s national workforce by 3.1% - almost one million people - said the consultancy firm. KPMG’s head of Brexit, Karen Briggs, said: “Our survey highlights how important the actions of employers are going to be if the UK is to avoid a Brexit brain-drain. Although almost half of the EU citizens working in the UK plan to stay, what other EU citizens choose to do is definitely hanging in the balance.  Against this backdrop we expect to see increased competition for talent between employers over the coming years, and numerous firms seeking to supplement their workforce with AI (artificial intelligence), robotics and automation.” Half (50%) of those surveyed said they felt less welcomed and valued in the UK since the Brexit vote.  In a separate poll of 1,000 EU citizens from countries supplying large numbers of workers to the UK, some 49% said that the desirability of Britain as a place to live and work had fallen due to the referendum result.  OnePoll questioned 2,000 EU workers in the UK between July 14 and 31, and 1,000 EU citizens living in Poland, Ireland, Romania, Portugal, Italy, Lithuania, France, Germany, Spain and Latvia between July 14 -25.

Kezia Dugdale Quits As Scottish Labour Leader Saying Party Needs Fresh Energy

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has resigned with immediate effect – insisting her decision is best for her and best for the party.  She said she left the party “in better shape than I found it”, after taking on the job in the wake of the 2015 general election, which saw Labour lose all but one of its MPs in Scotland while the SNP enjoyed a landslide victory. With four years to go until the next Holyrood elections, Ms Dugdale said: “I am convinced that the party needs a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate to take the party into that contest.”  Jeremy Corbyn, who she campaigned against in the 2016 party leadership contest, paid tribute to her for taking on the job of Scottish leader at “one of the most difficult times” in Labour’s history north of the border.  Labour managed to win back some of the seats it had lost the Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP in the June 2017 snap general election, with the party now having seven MPs from Scotland. Mr Corbyn said: “I’d like to thank Kezia Dugdale for her work as Scottish Labour leader and the important role she has played in rebuilding the party in Scotland. Kezia became Scottish leader at one of the most difficult times in the history of the Scottish Labour Party, and the party’s revival is now fully under way, with six new MPs and many more to come. I want to thank Kez for her tireless service to our party and movement, and look forward to campaigning with her in future for a country that works for the many not the few.”  Ms Dugdale becomes the third Scottish Labour leader to have resigned since the 2014 independence referendum, after Johann Lamont and Jim Murphy, while Anas Sarwar and Iain Gray have also served as acting leader since the vote on Scotland’s future.  Ms Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, wished Ms Dugdale well for the future, writing on Twitter: “We may be opponents, but @kezdugdale led her party with guts and determination and I admired her for that.”

Business Leaders Gather At Falls of Shin Visitor Centre
The first ever Sutherland Business Breakfast took place at the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre today.  The event, organised and hosted by Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust experience manager for Falls of Shin, Dale Pryde-MacDonald, was a success and connected a range of local businesses across the Highlands and helped them with the perfect networking, advice and guidance opportunities. More than 25 businesses attended the event, which is now hoped to be a regular fixture in the calendar. Amongst those in attendance were businesses such as MacKay & Co chartered accountants of Golspie, CH Architecture of Bonar Bridge, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and many more. Guest speakers on the day were Liam Christie (president, Inverness Chamber of Commerce), Trudy Morris (chief executive, Caithness Chamber of Commerce) and Cecilia Grigor (director, Planit Scotland). Each of the three speakers took time to present to the audience before partaking in a panel session answering questions from attendees. The morning captured the essence of some of the key issues the area faces – business development, youth employment, sustainable communities and support for local businesses and allowed the speakers to present methods of facing those challenges.  On the success of the event, KoS Development Trust's Dale Pryde-MacDonald was amazed by the turnout. He said: "I had been monitoring the bookings for the past couple of weeks and I wasn't just amazed by the numbers but by the quality of businesses and decision makers we had in the room.  There has long been a need for this kind of event in my eyes, and there cannot be a more fitting venue than Falls of Shin to host it. We must give everybody thanks for making this event such a success – the attendee's, Graham and his catering team, who were immense, the speakers for taking the time out to come along and advise and to the trust for really backing me in this event.  If we can help just one business with one issue today as far as I'm concerned our job is done. We hopefully provided a platform for businesses to really find the help they need or the contacts they need to thrive and give them the best opportunity to develop."

Former Soldier Sparks Major Terror Alert with ‘Killing Unbelievers’ Text
A major terror alert was sparked when a former soldier and Muslim convert referred to killing “unbelievers” in a text message.  Alexander Tiffin, who had been to Saudi Arabia and Turkey earlier this year, sent disturbing text messages to a member of his mosque five days after the London Bridge attack in June.  The recipient, Shakibur Khan, discussed the tirade with other members of the committee and told the police.  But after a thorough police investigation into Tiffin’s background, computer and contacts, it was concluded that he was not a terrorist – but “an idiot”.  Yesterday at Inverness Sheriff Court, Tiffin, of Kilmuir Place, Invergordon. admitted behaving in a threatening manner on June 8.  Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart described how Tiffin, 29, had converted to Islam less than a year ago. At about 2.45am on the day in question, Mr Khan received a series of text messages from Tiffin’s phone number.  He added: “The first of these messages indicated that he was drunk, but the third said, “I decided to kill the unbelievables”, followed by a text simply stating, “Unbelievers” and another saying, “Allahu Akbar”.  He was alarmed by the terms of these messages. As he was at that time at the Masjid (mosque) for first prayers, he asked Tiffin to come to the Masjid to talk but received no response.  After discussing the texts with members of the Masjid Committee and having received a message from one reporting that a red Volvo car such as Tiffin was known to drive had been seen in Inverness, Mr Khan went to Burnett Road Police Station to report his concerns.”  The court heard police launched an investigation and Tiffin was taken into custody. he confirmed the mobile phone number was his, said that he had been exceptionally drunk the night before but accepted that he must have sent the message.  Tiffin told officers he could see why it had would cause so much concern, but claimed to have no memory of having sent it.  He said the text was “the polar opposite” of his beliefs, could not explain why he sent it and apologised.  Mr Urquhart explained that extensive police inquiries established no links to terrorist oranisations, adding: “The conclusion has been that he was an idiot, not a terrorist.” Sentence was deferred for a background report until September 22 and Tififn was granted bail by Sheriff Margaret Neilson.  Defence lawyer Roger Webb said his client was in a wheelchair due to a psychiatric disorder.

Repairs to Be Carried Out At “Iconic” Eilean Donan Castle

One of Scotland’s most iconic castles is poised to undergo repairs to protect the building for decades to come – and make it safer for thousands of visitors.  The operators of the world famous Eilean Donan Castle at Dornie have lodged plans for maintenance work “to enhance and protect the castle’s heritage”.  It would focus on two areas of the second level of the category A-listed building – the courtyard and an external building.  The courtyard is extensively used by visitors on daily tours and large events such as weddings, but requires a new roof to stop water leaking into the vaults below where the toilets are located.  New Caithness slate slabs are to be used to replace existing stonework, while the wall is to be increased in height.  Meanwhile, at a separate “external covered area”, scaffolding will be erected so that rotten timbers can be removed and replaced with a new wall plate, while leadwork is also to be checked and replaced where necessary.  A design statement lodged with the application states: “All proposed repair and maintenance works to Eilean Donan Castle are to be carried out in a respectful and well-considered manner in order to enhance and protect the castles heritage.”  It adds that the work aims to make “minimal impact on the castle’s existing aesthetics through careful architectural detailing”, to “create a safer environment for the general public and future visitors” and to “help maintain the longevity of Eilean Donan Castle”.  Frequently featuring in postcards, films and television, the castle sits on a small tidal island where three sea lochs meet – Loch Duich, Loch Long and Loch Alsh. It was founded in the 13th century, and became a stronghold of the Clan Mackenzie and its ally the Clan Macrae, but in the early 18th century, the Mackenzies’ involvement in the Jacobite rebellions led in 1719 to the castle’s destruction by government ships.  The castle was rebuilt in the early 20th century and is now one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations.

Police Hail Stop and Search Results in Borders

Police in the Borders carried out 87 stop and searches for drugs from April to June. And more than half of their searches were successful, with 47 proving positive.  Chief Inspector Andy McLean said: “We are continuing to ensure we are in the right place at the right time to conduct searches as we are getting told by local people who know the perpetrators.” Officers have also stepped up their visits to licensed premises. They made 196 over the same time period – 99 more than last year.  Ch Insp McLean added: “We have increased our amount of visits to licensed premises as a form of early intervention to try and deter patrons from becoming involved in violent crime or antisocial behaviour.”

Far North Hospital Beds Under Threat

The Town and County Hospital in Wick could close and become a day care  centre, it has emerged.  And the Dunbar Hospital in Thurso could lose its inpatient beds but continue as a minor injuries unit and become an out-of-hours hub for Caithness and north Sutherland.  The changes would mean there would be no inpatient beds at either of the  Hospitals. All the hospital beds in Caithness would then be in Caithness  General in Wick, according to a well-placed John O’Groat Journal source  who did not want to be identified.   The Town and County and Dunbar are closed to general admissions at  present and only take palliative care beds. It is understood that has been the case since the first week of August.  There are two palliative care beds at Dunbar but they could be closed following a review being undertaken in the autumn by NHS Highland,  according to the source.  The person claims there are alternatives to closing beds and said money could be saved by working differently such as cutting the number of hospital managers.  The uncertainty over the future of hospital beds in Caithness is causing  concern to staff whose morale is low.  A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “Whatever is decided in the public consultation, our strategy is to have the right number of beds for Caithness which will be supported by community services so that people can be looked after locally.”

Alex Rowley Rules Himself Out of Scottish Labour Leadership Contest

Alex Rowley has said he will not stand for the Scottish Labour leadership.  The Fife MSP revealed he does not harbour any ambitions to be the first minister of Scotland. Mr Rowley has taken on the interim leadership following Kezia Dugdale’s decision to stand down. The former Fife Council leader said: “I have no ambition to be the first minister of Scotland. It’s never something I saw myself doing, so I have no intention in running for leader because, as I say, whoever is in that job their focus should be on becoming first minister.” He said it would be “wrong to speculate” on who he would like to stand.  His decision not to run follows fellow left-winger Neil Findlay ruling himself out of the contest.  That leaves Richard Leonard as the front-runner to be the pro-Jeremy Corbyn candidate. Anas Sarwar, the party’s health spokesman and the former deputy leader, is the bookies’ favourite, but has yet to show his hand. Mr Rowley called for a “good, positive campaign and contest” after dismissing speculation the election could expose divisions in the party. “It’s not something I recognise,” he said. “I don’t think there are any wings within the party (trying to) take control of the party. I believe the party is far more united now than it was when Kezia Dugdale took it over. We are far stronger now and we owe her a great debt of gratitude for all the work that she has done.”

Green Light for Altnaharra Wind Farm

The result of the Judicial Review into Creag Riabhach Wind Farm at Altnaharra was announced with Lord Boyd of Duncansby ruling to uphold Scottish Ministers’ decision to consent the project.  The wind farm will consist of 22 turbines, with a total generating capacity of 72.6MW, enough to supply around 50,000 homes.  The result of the judicial review comes after Scottish Ministers granted consent in October 2016, on the basis that the project would make an important contribution to climate change targets, while also providing social and economic benefits for the communities in Altnaharra and Sutherland.  It also follows on from the Highland Council’s decision to raise no objection to the application back in September 2015.  The project, which was first submitted to the Scottish Government in January 2014, has been developed by a private company in partnership with the local working estate. Tim Philpot, director of Creag Riabhach Wind Farm, said: “We welcome the decision today. Over the last five years our dedicated team has been continually engaging with the local communities, the Highland Council and Scottish Ministers to deliver a project that we can all be proud of.  We now look forward to delivering a successful project that will not only generate up to 72.6MW of clean, renewable energy, but will also give the communities of the North Highlands region a lasting legacy benefit.”  Pieter Bakker, estate manager and tenant farmer at Altnaharra Estate, said: “Creag Riabhach Wind Farm will help secure additional jobs for local people, while also supplying important work opportunities for local contractors. My community and the other communities surrounding the estate will significantly benefit from this project, which will provide up to £9 million in inward investment through the community benefit funds, which will be used to support important local projects. The economy in Sutherland is fragile and in desperate need of investment, in particular in Altnaharra. We can now take this opportunity to create a sustainable legacy for future generations in the area.”

Gaelic ‘Bear Hunting’ Kids Are Internet Sensations
A group of primary school children from the east end of Glasgow have become internet sensations after their Gaelic musical version of ‘Going on a Bear Hunt’ went viral on YouTube.  Views of the film, which features youngsters from Caledonia Primary enacting the story in their school grounds in Baillieston, have climbed to nearly 2.2 million. The film, made with the help of the Grounds for Learning charity, is just under five minutes long and shows the pupils from P1 and 2 ‘hunting’ for a bear. Dressed in oilskins and wellies, they go splashing through the mud and creeping through concrete tunnels, while they sing the words to Tha Sinn a’ Dol a Shireadh Mathan, a Gaelic version of the kids classic story by Michael Rosen.  The story was shortened slightly and put to the tune of Drunken Sailor by the then depute head of Caledonia Primary, Jackie Mullen. Jackie, who now works with the national Gaelic resource agency Stòrlann as a Gaelic trainer, is also a member of the band Folky MacFolk Face.  The film was made by a media crew working for Grounds for Learning back in 2013, when Jackie was teaching full-time and teaching Gaelic to the pupils at Baillieston. She had been looking for some stories and songs to bring the lessons to life and chose Tha Sinn a’ Dol a Shireadh Mathan, which had been published by Gaelic educational books organisation Stòrlann. The film was then shown at the annual Grounds for Learning conference on outdoor learning as an example of how teachers could use their school grounds for lessons.  The charity put it on YouTube but recently it began gathering an amazing number of hits. When it passed a million views in June, Grounds for Learning shared it again on their Facebook page, saying: “We have a hit on our hands! Watch, enjoy and share…” At that stage, it was getting between 40,000 and 60,000 hits a day. The comments on YouTube show that people are watching it from far and wide. One music teacher from Iceland said: “This is absolutely wonderful! I can’t stop smiling (the terrible bear!) and I really look forward to ‘playing’ this book with my Icelandic pre-schoolers… It would be nice to make an Icelandic version of it.” Another woman said: “Wow, this is so cool. My daughter was randomly watching it and now she knows the whole song and watches it every day. We don’t even live in Scotland, we live in Leicester.”  Jackie said: “Honestly, it’s incredible. I had no idea when I rejigged the script that it would end up this internet phenomenon that it’s been. Over two million is just incredible.  When we made it we had no idea who would be watching it but somebody is. It’ll be really interesting to find out who all these people are. I’d say it’ll be at three million before we know it which is great for the language because it’s out there, big scale.”  Jackie stressed: “These are not Gaelic Medium Education pupils. They are Gaelic learners in primary one and two. I think that’s really important. it would be so easy to look at them and think that they’re Gaelic Medium.” Instead, they had been learning a little of it through a programme of classroom resources for Gaelic learners created by Stòrlann, called Go! Gaelic. Stòrlann chief executive Donald W Morrison said it was “a terrific achievement”, adding: “As I engage with this heartwarming performance, I can only marvel at the power of the word, the wonder of the story, and the excitement of sharing a common experience.  I am not alone, it seems that over two million others have joined with the children of Caledonia Primary as they swish and swash their way through an intrepid Gaelic quest for this big, elusive, bear. Stòrlann is extremely proud to have played its part in the facilitation of this remarkable and epic Gaelic adventure.” Alison Motion, Grounds for Learning Scotland director, said: “It has dwarfed anything else that we have ever put out. On any media. We went looking to see why it had been picked up – and it appears that a children’s programme in the States either made some reference or added it to the ‘you might like to watch this now’ buttons at the side of their website. When something is picked up like that, particularly in different nations, You Tube promotes it and it is more likely to appear on feeds. We did have one very entertaining day watching the view numbers rack up.”  The idea of using the school grounds as the setting had come from the children themselves. It was filmed on a freezing cold day in January and the school janitor had to pour boiling water onto the hard ground to ‘melt’ it so the children would have some mud to splosh around in.  They needed a river, too, and a piece of blue fabric did that job. The best prop has to be the bear, though — the school’s teddy bear mascot, ‘Cal’. Jackie said: “He was very happy to cooperate and be a scary bear in the concrete tunnel.” Head teacher Shona Allen said of the film: “We’re really proud of it and we’re so excited when we hear about more views on YouTube. It was such a good time for us because Grounds For Learning were using us and Jackie was really promoting Gaelic. It’s a lovely piece of our history; something that’s just had ripple effects.  I just think it’s brilliant. I’m not surprised (at the number of views) because it was so well done.”  She added: “The children still watch it. Sometimes we put it on in assembly — the P6 and P7 children who were in it still love watching it and they can still recite all of it.” Grounds For Learning said their closest second to this film, which currently has 2.179 million views, is the ‘Natural playgrounds’ film with around 47,000 views. Director Alison said: “We’re delighted with the success of the Bear Hunt. It’s great to see our Gaelic resource take off in this way. For us the key part of this is that the kids explored outside while doing the poem. Outdoor learning is now part of Learning for Sustainability. Children have an entitlement to be outdoors on a daily basis, in nature. There’s plenty of research to show that being outside enhances your mental health and wellbeing.”

Tory MPs Tell Theresa May She Can’t Go ‘On and On’

Conservative MPs have given a lukewarm reaction to Theresa May’s claim that she will lead their party in the next general election.  Mrs May’s comments caught some in her own party off guard, coming less than three months after she squandered the Conservatives’ majority in a disastrous snap election.  The result forced the Prime Minister to humble herself before backbenchers, telling the Tory 1922 Committee in June: “I will continue to serve as long as you want me.”  She struck a more strident tone in Japan, promising to deliver social reforms that will give the country a “brighter future”.  On Wednesday night Mrs May said: “I’m in this for the long term. There’s a real job to be done in the United Kingdom. It’s about getting the Brexit deal right, it’s about building that deep and special partnership with the European Union, but it’s also about building global Britain, trading around the world.” Speaking at a press conference alongside Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe today, Mrs May added: “I said I wasn’t a quitter and there is a long-term job to do. There is an important job to be done in the United Kingdom, we stand at a really critical time in the UK.” Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, viewed as a potential candidate in any future Tory leadership contest, said the Prime Minister had his “undivided” support but former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan said it would be “difficult” for Mrs May to lead the party into the next election, due in 2022. And former party chairman Grant Shapps said it was “too early” for Mrs May to talk about going “on and on” like Margaret Thatcher, insisting it was for the party to decide how long she remained leader. He said it was “probably the case” that nobody wanted Mrs May to face Jeremy Corbyn at the ballot box again and added: “I think colleagues may well be surprised by this interview last night.” Ms Morgan told BBC’s Hardtalk that no leader wants to put a date on their departure in advance because it is a sign of “your own political mortality”. But she added: “I think it’s going to be difficult for Theresa May to lead us into the next general election.”

Comment -R
The UK Westminster Government is failing to uphold disabled people's rights across a range of areas from education, work and housing to health, transport and social security, a UN inquiry has found.  The UN committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities examined the government's progress in fulfilling its commitments to the UN convention on disabled people's rights, to which the UK has been a signatory since 2007.  Its report concludes that the UK has not done enough to ensure the convention – which enshrines the rights of disabled people to live independently, to work and to enjoy social protection without discrimination – is reflected in UK law and policy.  Although it praises initiatives by the Scottish and Welsh governments to promote inclusion, it is scathing of the UK Westminster Government's inconsistent and patchy approach to protecting disability rights and its failure to audit the impact of its austerity policies on disabled people.

Pentland Firth Turbines Provide World Record Month with Power for 2,000 Homes

Atlantis project MeyGen, located in the stretch of water between Caithness and Orkney, has provided enough energy during August to power 2,000 Scottish homes.  The first phase of the project will involve three turbines with the third expected to come into use in September. In a production update, the company said the power station had created more than 700 MWh of electricity in August.  David Taaffe, director of project delivery at MeyGen said: "The production performance from the installed turbines on the MeyGen project has been very good. August proved to be a world record month, providing enough energy to power 2,000 Scottish homes from just two turbines.  With yet another successful installation campaign expertly completed this week by the Atlantis operations team, we expect to continue to break records throughout the rest of the year generating both predictable power and revenue." Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland said the world record for monthly production was a "really exciting moment". He said: "This is a sign that Scotland is really making progress in harnessing the power of our seas and that we're on our way to securing a low carbon future. By supporting projects like this one, which provide clean, predictable, homegrown power, the Scottish Government can help fight climate change, strengthen our energy security and drive further job creation in sustainable industries." Hannah Smith, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: "The tides that flow through the Pentland Firth are some of the most powerful anywhere on earth and harnessing them has meant using machines and skills which have never before been tested on a commercial scale. This latest record is just one in a long line for the MeyGen project, which is leading the world in tidal energy deployment. If the determination and ingenuity shown to date are anything to go by, it won't be the last."

Outer Hebrides to Get its First Mosque After Council Approval

The Outer Hebrides is to get its first mosque after councillors unanimously backed the plans. Proposals to redevelop a semi-derelict store building in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis have been approved by the islands’ local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.  Consent had previously been given for a “community centre” to be used for religious practice in the James Street building.  But a new application for planning permission was submitted in June this year, expressly calling it a mosque.  Local authority officers recommended the plans should be approved in a report which went before members ahead of the vote on Thursday. The Western Isles, which last year welcomed six Syrian refugee families, has a small Muslim community.

Outlander Stars Support Gairloch Heritage Museum Crowdfunder

Stars of the TV hit Outlander are lending lent their support to a Highland museum’s fundraising efforts. People now have the chance to get their hands on some coveted Outlander goodies in aid of Gairloch Heritage Museum. The museum has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the final £60,000 required for its proposed new museum. It has teamed up with Adhamh O’Broin, Gaelic consultant for Outlander, to offer some great rewards. Up for grabs are a limited number of Gaelic dictionaries, signed by members of the Outlander cast including Sam Heughan who plays Jamie Fraser, and Gaelic lessons with Adhamh. People will also be able to purchase inscribed metal plaques inspired by the Gairloch Pictish fish which will be part of a large installation that will take pride of place in the new museum.  Adhamh said: “Not many people are aware but Gairloch and Wester Ross have played an integral part to the creation of the TV series, Outlander. We use the Wester Ross Gaelic dialect throughout the series and I often called upon Gairloch man, the late Roddy Mackenzie, for advice when we were on set. Roddy, who was also heavily involved in the Gairloch Heritage Museum, helped us by providing accurate translations and local sayings to ensure we were portraying the language as authentically as possible. Roddy worked very closely with Roy Wentworth when Roy was compiling the well-known dictionary, Faclan is Abairtean à Ros an’ Iar – Gaelic words and phrases from Wester Ross – which also proved invaluable to myself and the cast whilst filming.” The funds raised will secure the long-term future of the museum’s collections and the cultural activities it offers and the museum team hope to open the new premises in early 2019.  The local community has already raised over £140,000 towards the total and it is hoped that the remaining £60,000 will be raised through this crowdfunding campaign.