Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 445

Issue # 445                                     Week ending Saturday 31st  March 2018

Does Saturday Night Telly Stop You From Cleaning Up A Dirty, Polluted World? By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Why is no one protesting at the latest increase in postal charges? I am long enough in the tooth to recall the reaction when they first brought in first and second class stamps. An ordinary letter - such as a Littlewoods football pools coupon - had cost 4d, or four old pennies. Then they brought in the two-tier system and all of a sudden the 5d letter crawled down to pools HQ in Liverpool a lot slower. If you wanted it to get there in two days, as before, you had to pay an extra old penny. That was a dilemma for my old man, I can tell you.

My father was lucky with the pools over the years. He won something most years and I remember he once won three weeks on the trot. Not the jackpot, by the way. I am not a secret millionaire. The total for the three consecutive weeks was only about £600 - or was that the largest of the wins? Whatever, it was rather handy back then. Life is a bit more complicated now and a lottery player in the Highlands has just missed out on £1 million because they did not claim that tidy sum by last weekend. Please, please don’t do it ... don’t check your ticket now. You are going to be so fed up if you were the winner who missed out. OK, check it and phone me if it was you.

Few people send letters any more except accounts personnel sending out bills and they do not worry about postage costs. However, the number of small parcels has gone through the roof. Whether you are ordering the latest gizmo from Amazon or recycling through auction sites, the postal traffic in packets has gone whoosh. In just a few years, the type of business the Royal Mail is doing has changed so much.

How we live is completely changing and that is bringing new benefits and a whole slew of serious problems. Wee plastic items and wrappers are bunging up the insides of marine creatures, filtration systems and sewers. This has been going on for years but only now are serious efforts being made to educate the dirty, lazy, disinterested people who are responsible - you and me. We must stop using plastic straws, plastic drinks bottles and crisp packets - difficult one that, with Britain’s Got Talent coming back soon.

The biggest offenders though are, er, ladies. No, not a potentially sexist remark. It is just factual. Figures just out show heavy use of make-up has made Britain among the worst plastic polluters in Europe. World Wildlife Fund (WWF) showed the UK uses more plastic cotton buds - 13.2 billion items a year - than any other European nation because that is how ladies apply and remove their warpaint. How many? 13.2 billion? I stick one in my ear once a month to see if there’s a brain still in there - yes, I know, but it feels good and there’s something stopping it coming out the other ear. Then straight in the bin, some fly away from the dustbin, land in the sea and float for 60 years - unless, of course, an unlucky fish or whale swallows them.

This year, the UK will also use 42 billion straws and 4.1 billion single-use drinks cups and lids. Even when taken away on the bin lorry to the dump, cotton buds escape and end up in rivers and the ocean. We are also the second biggest user of crisp packets, getting through 8.3 billion a year. They fly and roll for many miles too in a breeze. Altogether, Britain uses the fifth highest number of single-use plastic items per person, use of make-up is thought to be behind the high use of cotton buds, which are used to remove it. Save the planet, miss. Use a tissue. Waste disposal and mail delivery are just two examples of our changing world.

A few years ago, I was shown round a Royal Mail sorting office. I was given a tour of the depot and I asked the guy what the big machine was. It was the NP4000R sorter system. It can sort 40,000 letters an hour and it's 99.5% accurate. It was controlled by supercomputers, each of which is 1,000 times more powerful than my home PC. It has over 15,000 state-of-the-art optical location identification sensors with 200 miles of fibre-optic cable. It cost about £100 million to develop. Wow, impressive. So I asked what happens to the letters after they’re sorted. He said: “Er well, we just give them to someone on a push bike.”

Original Performer Dougie to Help North-east Folk Festival Celebrate 30th Birthday
A popular North-east festival that has entertained crowds from all over the world and attracted the likes of Billy Connolly is celebrating its 30th birthday. The Stonehaven Folk Festival takes place in July but tonight was to see a special concert to mark three decades of music.  Scottish folk legend Dougie MacLean, who played at the first festival in 1988, was due to entertain the crowd at the Town Hall concert.  Former committee members have been invited to the launch event as a thank you to everyone who has supported the festival over the years. Current committee chairman Charlie West said: “It is great we are celebrating the 30th year.  We’ve got the launch event and we have invited former committee members to come and celebrate with us.  When the folk festival is in full swing you see a lot of faces but you don’t get a good opportunity to stop and catch up with them due to being so busy.  This is why we wanted to give former committee members the chance to come along to the event for a catch-up.  In total, I believe we have around 38 people who have been on the committee over the years.  It is a celebration and a thank you for all the hard work that is put in to make the festival possible.  It is great that Dougie is here considering he played at the first folk festival and he has always come back and played special events like our 25th anniversary. Each year we try to get new acts to come but it is always special to have someone who played at the first event.”  During the folk festival – from July 5-8 – events will take place all across the coastal town, including daily workshops, singarounds and music sessions, as well as the internation-ally famous World Paper ’n’ Comb Championships.  Another popular part of the weekend is the annual aqua ceilidh that takes place at the town’s heated outdoor pool. Added to the folk festival calendar in 1996, the ceilidh attracts hundreds of people wanting to do a bit of Scottish country dancing in the art deco pool.  The folk festival regularly attracts thousands of traditional music fans from as far afield as Australia, Canada and the United States.  Charlie has been involved with the event for a number of years, first getting involved during the third festival.  This year will be his 10th as chairman of the organising committee. He added: “As it is our 30th year we are hoping to have a few surprises lined up. I think the festival will continue to evolve and will always be around in some way. However, we always try to do something different year on year to keep people coming back. I’m really looking forward to this year’s festival.”

Scotland’s Renewables Industry At Risk From Hard Brexit

A hard Brexit could damage Scotland’s renewables industry by cutting off access to vital labour and funding, Nicola Sturgeon will warn.  Scotland’s First Minister will urge the  UK Government to provide clarity on the future of the sector as she addresses the Scottish Renewables annual conference in Edinburgh.  The speech falls in the week that marks one year until the UK is due to exit the European Union (EU).  Ms Sturgeon will highlight the importance of the industry to Scotland’s economy, with more than a third of the UK’s renewable energy produced north of the border.  She is expected to say: “Scotland has internationally recognised research expertise in renewables.  We also have incredible renewable resources, and a long history of engineering excellence. Those assets give us the basis for a thriving renewables sector and supply chain.  Brexit makes this work rather more challenging. If we are taken out of the single market, it will hinder our supply chain and reduce our skills base.  If we are outside the internal energy market it could affect our influence on issues such as energy regulation and cross-border energy flows, something which is of increasing importance.  And, arguably more damaging to our ambitions, we could also lose access to EU funding.  Scotland has benefited from one of the biggest investments ever made by the European Investment Bank – the £500 million of funding they provided for the Beatrice offshore windfarm.  Scotland has also done disproportionately well from EU support for research and innovation in the renewables sector. We want that to continue. Although the overall outlook for this sector is hugely positive, we need the UK Government to provide clarity on these points. A hard Brexit could potentially cause harm to our supply chain and skills base; our influence on big decisions on issues such as regulation and energy flows; and our access to funding.  It’s a good example of why arguing for the least damaging approach to Brexit – for continued single market and customs union membership – is a core part of the day to day business of government.”

Blair Steps Up Call for Second Brexit Referendum

Tony Blair will call the Government’s Brexit strategy “dangerously irresponsible” as he steps up calls for a second European Union referendum.  The former prime minister will argue that Theresa May is trying to avoid spelling out the detail of her plans until “we are irreversibly out of Europe”.  He will say Parliament has the chance to “change the direction of the process” by legislating for another referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal.  People say that there will be disillusion if Brexit doesn’t happen. Personally, I doubt this if it is the result of a fresh ‘say’ on the final deal,” he will say.  But even if true, the bigger disillusion will be when those who voted for Brexit because they feared the future shaped by free market globalisation, realise they are now conscripts in an adventure to embrace it more fully. This is the awesome responsibility which now rests with Parliament.”  In a speech in Westminster, Mr Blair will say the Government’s whole approach to the negotiation so far has been based on trying to satisfy both wings of the Conservative Party. The approach has become known as “cakeism” over claims the Government is trying to “have its cake and eat it” .  Mr Blair will say:  “As time goes on, it will become crystal clear that the Government’s original negotiating position was built on sand. They will realise that they are in mortal danger of putting a proposition to Parliament which will not pass.  Either it will mean divergence from Europe in which case, the business community will protest the damage and MPs may take notice of that. Or it will mean alignment with Europe in which case the diehard Brexiteers will cry foul and the British people will wonder why we are leaving.”  The approach will be to try to “fudge” the problem – supported by Brexiteers – until the date of the UK’s departure, Mr Blair will say.  Ministers will hope that the terms of the new relationship are “sufficiently vague to let the fiction of ‘cakeism’ continue”.  “It is this strategy that Parliament has a duty to foil,” Mr Blair will say, arguing that the Government’s approach is “deeply, dangerously irresponsible.”  The ex-premier will argue that the Government should spell out the choice facing the country – either a close relationship with the EU which would risk failing to fulfil the “central Brexit promise” of control over laws or divergence from Brussels which could disrupt trade and damage the economy.  The sensible strategic course for the Tories is to share the responsibility,” he will say.  “Resolve the dilemma before March 2019. Put the proposition to Parliament.  If it succeeds, then no one can say we voted in Parliament in ignorance. Even better let the MPs have a free vote.  Then let the people make the final judgment.”

BBC Presenter Says Cancer Could Have Been Detected Earlier Under Scottish System

BBC newsreader George Alagiah said his cancer was caught “very late” and may have been detected earlier if England had similar screening procedures to Scotland.  The 62-year-old presenter, who lives in London, discovered his stage four bowel cancer had returned before Christmas.  In Scotland both men and women are automatically offered screening for bowel cancer every two years from 50 years old – yet in England it starts at 60.  The chance of survival for five years or more for those with stage four bowel cancer is less than 10% – however if it is caught at stage one the chances are near-100%, according to Cancer Research UK.  Mr Alagiah said: “Had they had screening at 50, like they do in Scotland … I would have been screened at least three times and possibly four by the time I was 58…We know that if you catch bowel cancer early, survival rates are tremendous. I have thought: why have the Scots got it and we don’t?”  The Sri Lankan-born newsman, who is married with two sons, then tweeted on Sunday: “My cancer was caught late, very late.  Earlier screening is the key. Simply no reason why others should have to go through all the treatment that I’ve had.” He was initially diagnosed with the disease aged 58 in 2014 after noticing blood in his stools. It had spread to his liver and lymph nodes and he endured rounds of chemotherapy and several operations, including the removal of most of his liver.  In October 2015 he announced his treatment was over and returned to BBC News At Six.  Mr Alagiah said he was supporting a campaign by Bowel Cancer UK to make screening available to everyone in England from 50.  The disease kills nearly 16,000 men and women annually in the UK, the charity said.  It is the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK, behind lung cancer.  Mr Alagiah joined the BBC in 1989 and spent many years as one of the corporation’s leading foreign correspondents before moving to presenting.  Professor Anne Mackie, director of programmes for the UK National Screening Committee said: “The UK’s independent screening committee is currently consulting on some possible changes to the current bowel cancer screening programme.  This includes starting screening at an earlier age.  All comments will be considered by the committee ahead of its formal recommendation in the summer. Until this time, the programme will remain unchanged.  The new Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) will be rolled out nationally as part of the bowel cancer screening programme in 2018/19 and will detect more cancers earlier and save more lives.”

Meet Scotland's Youngest Clan Commander Who is Causing A Stir with Big Brother Requests and Outlander Meetings
When Iain MacGillivray was voted to become Scotland’s youngest clan commander, he didn’t expect his appointment to cause much of a stir.  But in the last 18 months the kilted Highlander has been invited to Celtic gatherings across the world, met Outlander author Diana Gabaldon, visited the tomb of Bonnie Prince Charlie and was even asked to appear on Big Brother.  Farmer Iain, of Calrossie, near Tain in Easter Ross, was just 29 when he was chosen to become commander-in-chief of Clan MacGillivray, making him one of the youngest chiefs of modern times.  He now plans to use his youth to help drum up renewed interest in his clan.  Iain, now 30, said: “When I was voted in, I didn’t expect to be chosen at all. I was sure the clan would pick someone older and wiser.  But I think the fact I had youth on my side helped tick a few boxes in my favour.  I’ve been overwhelmed by the response my becoming commander has had – even the makers of Big Brother have been in touch asking if I would be interested in taking part in their show.  There is an authoritative body on the Scottish clan system that’s called The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs, and they joke they are ‘The Barely Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs’ because of the age of the -majority of clan chiefs.” The clan elected their new leader at a convention in Inverness in August 2016 attended by MacGillivrays from all over the world. Iain beat competition from three American candidates to become the first Scottish head of Clan MacGillivray in more than 100 years.  The last Scottish chief, Captain John William MacGillivray, died in 1914 with no heir. The title passed to his cousin, John Farquhar MacGillivray, who lived in Toronto and held the role until 1942 when he too died without an heir.  The post has remained empty ever since. Iain, who is the eldest of six siblings and helps run his family sheep and cattle farm, said: “It is rare for a clan to be without a chief, but no one came forward with a valid claim. The Lord Lyon, who deals with all matters relating to heraldry, encouraged the clan to appoint a -commander-in-chief, who could go on to become chief.”  Iain, who plays the bagpipes and fiddle, speaks Gaelic and is a talented athlete who competes regularly at Highland Games, won the overwhelming majority of votes.  Over the past year-and-a-half he has been on a mission to do all he can to promote his family history and galvanise his clan, which has tens of thousands of members.  He has attended Clan MacGillivray association gatherings everywhere from Melbourne to the Netherlands and Thunder Bay in Ontario, Canada.  He is using his international relations degree to help him set up and organise what he hopes will be his clan’s biggest global gathering, which he is arranging to be held near Tain in 2020.  He is also currently setting up his own clan commander Facebook page. Iain, who is single, said: “There is a big Outlander craze at the moment which is helping romanticise and generate new interest in Scotland’s clans which is fine by me, particularly if it leads to new members of Clan MacGillivray.  I met Diana Gabaldon, the author of the Outlander series, last year in Beauly. I had my kilt on and a Clan MacGillivray banner, and she was very receptive and knew of the clan.” .  Despite his age, Iain had his own brush with death just months after taking up his new role as head of his clan when he suffered a broken back after being crushed by a tractor in an accident on his farm. Iain said: “I think one of the reasons I was voted to become commander-in-chief was because my age meant I would probably have a long future with the clan ahead of me, but that almost didn’t happen. We were putting up a fence on the farm, and I was on the ground lifting the fence posts when the bucket of the tractor fell on top of me.  It weighed a ton and the doctors have told me they don’t know how I survived.” Iain will hold the role of clan commander for the next five years, after which he can apply to become chief of the clan.

Nicola Sturgeon Powerless Over Arrest of Catalan Professor

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is powerless to intervene in the case of a former Catalan minister who faces an extradition battle as she prepares to hand herself in to Police Scotland. Professor Clara Ponsati was education minister in the Catalan government in October when it declared independence from Spain. She fled to Brussels with former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and three colleagues as Madrid dissolved the regional government and issued arrest warrants.  Earlier this month she returned to St Andrews University, where she had been director of the school of economics before taking up the role of Catalan education minister last summer.  She has previously spoken of her fear she would be “sent straight to jail” if she was returned to Spain to face a charge of rebellion, which carries a 30-year sentence.  Police Scotland yesterday confirmed that arrangements are being made with Ms Ponsati’s lawyer for her to hand herself in. Last night her lawyer, Aamer Anwar, said she has “instructed me to robustly defend all attempts by the Spanish authorities to extradite her”. It follows the decision on Friday by a Spanish judge to reactivate arrest warrants for Ms Ponsati, Mr Puigdemont and three other former Catalan ministers. Mr Puigdemont was detained in Germany yesterday and, as the news emerged, thousands marched in protest in Barcelona.  Ms Sturgeon said: “We strongly oppose the Spanish government’s decision to seek the arrest and imprisonment of independence supporting politicians.” She added: “The fact that our justice system is legally obliged to follow due process in the determination of extradition requests does not change those views.”

New Bank of Scotland ATM Only Issues English Notes

The prickly issue of Scottish banknotes not being universally accepted south of the border has been brought to the fore at a bank in Inverness – with a leading nationalist branding it "almost comical".  To the surprise of some customers, the Bank of Scotland has installed a cash machine which issues English notes only.  The single ATM inside the Eastgate branch is clearly marked: "This machine dispenses English notes only."  A spokesman for the bank said: "All Bank of Scotland branches provide Scottish notes, however, in order to provide the type of banknotes that meet our customers’ needs, a number of our branches offer a choice of both Scottish and English notes.  Areas where people might be contemplating heading south to England, such as busy tourist destinations such as Inverness and Edinburgh, have ATMs dedicated to doling out Bank of England notes.  Premises in England are still within their rights to refuse Scottish notes.  Inverness and Nairn SNP MP Drew Hendry said: "As someone who travels to and from London every week, I am aware that there are some premises that do not accept Scottish notes, but this is quite a bizarre development from Bank of Scotland.  The idea that the demand for English notes in Inverness High Street is so great that the bank just had to install an English notes only machine is almost comical."

North-east Ghost Hunters Witness Strange Goings on At Cathedral

Things went bump in the night for ghost hunters at an overnight vigil and spookathon at a North-east cathedral.  Twelve people  decided to brave the freezing temperatures and be locked in 13th Century Brechin Cathedral from 9.00pm till dawn, in the hope of encountering the supernatural.  Incidents have now been collated, with video footage of orbs, and a “man” outlined in the back pews near the organ just two of the spooktastic occurrences at the city landmark.  Unexplained thumps were heard, candles snuffed out early and the name Zachary and two others found in The Reverend Grahame’s book “Writ in the Stones” were said to have “come through”.  Attendees were encouraged to bring along cameras or other devices such as tablets that might help record any incidents, although the group chose not to rely on any electrical equipment – in case of “interference from spirits”.  Louise Duncan from Bravo Brechin said: “The cathedral vigil has actually stemmed from the ghost walk nights that took place over Halloween last year.  We had an amazing amount of interest for these kind of events and since then have had several requests for more tours. We decided, instead of tours in the fairly cold winter evenings we would devise some kind of overnight visit, and this is how the cathedral event came about.”  Previous paranormal incidents have included a guest taking a photo of the church in which a monk in brown robes can be seen, while on another occasion, a picture taken of the cathedral pews, revealed the figure of a plague doctor and several people on the ghost walks felt their necks or legs being touched.A spokesperson for the event said: “We started with a short prayer and ended with thanks to all who have resided and worked there over the centuries.  Some interesting paranormal footage was caught on camera of orbs, as seen before in other images of the cathedral, and of a hatted outline sitting at the rear pews.  We also have a photo of an extra person sitting head bent as though listening intently to conversation at the front pews. There is video footage of the orbs and a “man” outlined in the back pews near the organ.  In the end, it was not the paranormal that ended the vigil early, but the cold – the building became simply too chilled to stay in, and the intrepid investigators ended their spooktastic event at 3.30am and went home.

Dolphin Numbers Stable in Moray Firth

A report published this week by Scottish Natural Heritage states that about 200 dolphins call Scotland’s North Sea coast their home, with more than a hundred frequently using the Moray Firth. But despite the research carried out by the University of Aberdeen, the population – the most northerly in the world – is still considered to be vulnerable.  Recognised as a major tourist attraction, the dolphins are said to generate upwards of £4million per year for the local economy.  Welcoming the news, Moray’s MSP Richard Lochhead said: "You only have to pop down to the Spey Bay Dolphin Centre to see just how popular dolphin spotting is. Stable bottlenose dolphin numbers of the east coast is great for our marine environment, as well as our local economy.  It is incredibly important that we continue to do all we can to protect them and our marine environment."

Berwick Academy Takes First Steps Towards ‘A New Beginning’
Berwick Academy leaders have spoken of the need for ‘a new beginning’ that a damning Ofsted report has brought about.  The school has been judged ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted inspectors and placed into special measures.  The report, published on Monday, heavily criticised the quality of leadership and teaching at the school, and raised serious concerns about pupil behaviour and pupil outcomes.  The school must now make rapid improvements, with key indicators to be checked by Ofsted on half-termly monitoring visits.  In a letter to parents, acting headteacher Steve Wilkes and chairman of governors David Cairns state: ‘If improvements are in line with expectations, the school should expect to secure a ‘Good’ grading in 18-24 months.  If improvements are not rapid enough, further interventions will be imposed, including the taking over of the school’s governance and management by an external body and/or Academy chain; A need to work closely with, and guided by, the Department for Education (DfE), Ofsted, the Regional Schools Commission, and any other school improvement organisation that the DfE feels appropriate; A change in the leadership of the school.’  They continue: ‘We want the school to be a focus of local pride, a place that equips our young people to enrich their community and a place that Berwick deserves. A school that ultimately helps to attract people to the area.  ‘Clearly, this judgment means that this is not currently the case. This must be seen as a watershed moment and a new beginning. We see this as an opportunity to re-engage with our students, parents, teachers, the community, and external experts in a constructive and honest dialogue. What is not in question is the commitment to improve for all, moving forward.  There must be rapid changes, and this will challenge students, parents, and teachers. If we are successful, and we must be, because the education of our children is the most important responsibility, then it will be because we began to speak with one voice and our students feel both challenged and supported by us all.’  They gave assurances that the day-to-day running of the school will continue as normal and reveal that several changes have already been made as a matter of urgency since the resignation of headteacher Alexis Widdowson.  These include a review of safeguarding and a meeting with Northumbria Police regarding anti-social behaviour outside of school.  Staff have also undergone additional safeguarding training, there will be increased school counsellor hours from September and an anti-bullying programme is under way. Uniform rules have been tightened and there is reduced tolerance of behaviours in lessons that stop others learning.  The next step is to hold a public meeting to discuss the situation and next steps. It is proposed that this takes place in the town hall, and a date is being sought as a matter of urgency for after the Easter break.

Secrets of the Romans' Forgotten War Against Scotland Revealed

IT was an act of imperial aggression could have changed the history of Scotland, but has largely been forgotten to the mists of time.  Nowadays, it is popularly believed that the Romans had little to do with Caledonia, staying behind their defensive walls while getting on with colonising and civilising the rest of Britain.  But now a new book has shed light on the terrifying campaigns of Emperor Septimius Severus, whose ambition to conquer the ancient people north of Hadrian’s wall sparked genocide and almost extended the Empire to the foothills of the Highlands. In ‘Septimius Severus in Scotland: the Northern Campaigns of the First Hammer of the Scots’, author Dr Simon Elliot has for the first time laid out the path taken by the legions as they put Scotland to the sword in the third century AD, and linked scientific data which shows the desolation they left behind.  He believes that Severus set out to outdo his illustrious forbear, the Emperor Augustus, by extending Roman rule over both the ancient Persians and the Britons - and was only stopped by his own death in York before his plan could be completed.  Dr Elliott said: “Northern Britain and the lands that would become Scotland in the Roman period is the Wild West of the Empire - it’s one of the few remaining places the legions did not conquer.  The poet Horace told Augustus that he would not become a God until he defeated both Parthia (Persia) and Britain, and when Severus he was finished with Parthia he turned his eyes north.”  Trouble was brewing along Rome’s northern border in the year 207. Two tribal confederations - the Maeatae and Caledonians - had come together and were threatening to break through Rome’s defences.  Severus responded with an army of 50,000 legionaries, and a plan to crush the northern tribes and establish a Pax Romana once and for all.  Dr Elliott, a Trustee of the Council of British Archaeology, said: “It’s not clear if there really was a threat or if this was just the excuse to invade, but Severus made the most of the opportunity.  These confederations had been bought off before and had become wealthy, and their elites and warriors had a taste for it and wanted more.  There are also suggestions that there was a ‘harvest shock’ at the time, causing famine in the north and driving the tribes south.” The Emperor Severus, along with his sons Caracalla and Geta, made their base at York and marched up the Roman road which ran to the Borders, “cauterizing all before it”.  Each day a huge marching camp up to 70 hectares in size was built, making the Roman force untouchable.  After the Firth of Forth was reached, the Emperor crossed over the River Esk at Inveresk, reoccupying a fort at Cramond, near modern-day Edinburgh.  At some point, probably at South Queensferry, a bridge of 900 boats was built to allow the army to cross northwards, chasing the fleeing tribes who fought a guerilla campaign without resorting to a pitched battle they could not win.  But Dr Elliott says that Severus then divided his force into two, launching a blitzkrieg under Caracalla to seal off the Highlands, stopping at Bervie Water, 13km south west of Stonehaven. The Emperor’s own force then made its move, heading north through Fife with camps at Auchtermuchty and Edenwood and a fort at Carpow on the River Tay, before he “slammed into the soft underbelly” of native resistance in the upper Midland Valley, brutalising the local population. “This was Roman conquest as robbery with violence writ large,” Dr Elliot said.  Having secured peace - on Roman terms - Severus returned south only for the tribes to rise again the following year. This time, The Emperor stayed in York and gave command to Caracalla, ordering him to kill every man woman and child he encountered. Dr Elliott said: “We can imagine the scene when this astounding order was made - Severus seated at a podium in York quoting Agamemnon to his generals, telling them to ‘kill everyone, even the unborn in the womb’. This was genocide. I think he was planning to absorb northern Britain, possibly right up to the Highland line, into the Roman empire. And if that had been a success we wouldn’t have the Scotland that we have today.”  But the writ of the Empire was not to last long. Severus died in York 211 and his sons immediately left for Rome to solidify their bids for the throne. Scotland was pacified, but remained unconquered. And slowly the legions withdrew. Dr Elliott said: “Whenever I’m giving talks, I always say that the Scots shouldn’t feel bad because they remain the one area of Britain which the Romans never conquered and occupied.  Severus may have smashed his way through the country, but he didn’t make the natives bow down to Rome for very long.”

‘Dishonest’ UK Westminster Government ‘Letting Everybody Down’ Over Brexit

Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell has accused the UK Westminster Government of being “frankly dishonest” over Brexit and “letting everybody down”.  While the Prime Minister and others have highlighted opportunities that could come from leaving the European Union (EU), Mr Russell insisted that “there is no pot of gold” that will come as a result of this. Concerns are growing about the “inability” of Theresa May and her government to “measure up to the task they have” in negotiating the country’s exit deal, he said.  And with a prolonged standoff between Holyrood and Westminster over where powers should go when they come back from Brussels, Mr Russell insisted there needs to be “less rhetoric from the Prime Minister, more work on making sure everybody sits around the table and agrees”. While both Scotland and Wales “want a deal with the UK Westminster Government” that will allow them to give their consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill, he claimed Westminster was “ignoring the reality” of devolution – adding that as things stood no deal could be stuck. If no agreement is reached between the UK and the devolved administrations he warned  the “constitutional crisis simply gets worse, gets deeper”.  With a year to go until the UK formally leaves the EU the Scottish Government published a document highlighting the impact leaving could have on a variety of people across the county.  The Protecting What Matters report concludes leaving the EU will have “huge implications” with Scottish ministers pledging to “give a voice to individuals all of whom have so much at stake” from Brexit.  To launch the document Mr Russell met with some of those who spoke out about their fears, including Piotr Tlok from Poland, who said unanswered questions about what will happen to EU citizens had sparked concerns that people could be deported. The 29-year-old recruitment consultant said: “What we’re experiencing at the moment is a huge, huge question mark, I don’t know what my status is, what my status will be in a year, I don’t know what I should do, where I should go, what authorities I should approach to ask. That’s the biggest problem at the moment.” He added: “I would like to know what my status is and what I need to do to stay in Scotland and to have my rights provided, that is the biggest question at the moment.”  Mr Russell said: “What we’re doing is listening to people who are affected by Brexit and we’re publishing their views today to mark the first anniversary of the Article 50 letter and a year to go before it takes effect.” Worries have “simply increased” since the referendum in 2016, the Brexit Minister said, adding that “people are very unsure and uncertain about what is taking place”.  He hit out “Far from things clarifying in the last 12 months we’ve got even more uncertainty. If you are EU citizen who is living here then you are unsure about what lies ahead, if you are somebody who is involved in farming or fishing you are unsure about what lies ahead, if you work in a university you are unsure about what lies ahead. “The issue is people don’t know what is happening and with six months left of negotiating time, there are huge issues to be addressed that are simply not being addressed. So I think you have to look at this government and see it is letting everybody down, but it is also talking often nonsense about Brexit.”

MSP Delivers Holyrood Address in Gaelic

An MSP has called for Gaelic to be given Unesco status as she delivered an entire Holyrood speech in the language.  Kate Forbes, the member for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch, said she wanted to demonstrate Gaelic was a living language as MSPs used headsets to listen to a simultaneous translation. She became just the second female MSP, and the first in the current Scottish Parliament chamber, to deliver a whole contribution in Gaelic during a plenary debate. There have been a handful of Gaelic contributions in the parliament’s history, including a full speech from SNP stalwart Winnie Ewing in 2000 and, in more recent years, from current International Development and Europe Minister Alasdair Allan; and Ms Forbes’ predecessor in the Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch seat Dave Thompson. Ms Forbes spoke as MSPs were considering a motion on Scotland’s support for the Unesco convention for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage.  Speaking afterwards, the SNP MSP said: “It was really important not only to talk about Gaelic, but to actually use the language in the Holyrood chamber, to demonstrate that it is one of Scotland’s most significant cultural assets.  There is a lot of political support for the language, despite the inaccurate negativity about money spent on Gaelic and occasional politicising.  Gaelic is the key to elements of our history, culture and music. That is why I believe it should be granted Unesco status as an intangible cultural heritage.  It is a sad day for any society that forgets the rich cultural heritage of their past, and we need to protect Gaelic.”