Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 459

Issue # 459                                     Week ending Saturday 7th   July 2018

Maybe I Like Printing So I Can Just Print A Licence to Print Money by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal
Printing is such an amazing discovery. The fact that this newspaper has been mass-produced so professionally with wonderful illustrations and informative text is a technological marvel. The printing press may seem like an old system but the very latest technology is now used to bring you vital information. When you have well-crafted text nestling on the page with sharp high-resolution photos, it all makes for reading that is such a pleasurable experience. Don’t you think? Yes? Hello.

Systems in local, regional and national newspapers all round the country run perfectly day in and day out. No matter how strong the lure of computers is nowadays there is nothing like the feel of a newspaper in your hands as you slump on the sofa - with a dram, coffee or Horlicks by your side, as is your wont. That way you can sit back and take in amazing news you never thought you would read - like there being a shortage of CO2 gas for beer because of factory closures in the fertiliser industry. My father used to say cows make the best fertiliser. Does that mean that ...? Maybe not. I am probably thinking of methane.

What made me start thinking about printing this week is the news I read the other day that a business magazine is being launched called Grow. No, not the American one which is all about cannabis horticulture, apparently. Grow will soon be available at airport executive lounges around the world. Who is publishing it? Facebook, that’s who. The online giant has decided that the best way to capture the attention of company bosses who regularly travel is not with the web, apps or chat rooms but to print some stuff to put in front of them. Just like everyone did before, er, Facebook. You could not make up this stuff.

Printing on a small or large scale is utterly amazing. Having had a printer malfunction a while back, I now completely appreciate the usefulness of reliable small office printers that anyone can use at home. You can do it all so professionally that it looks like it was put together by a team from a print works. And there are many to choose from - Epson, Brother, Canon. My new printer is made by HP. The ink looks a bit funny but it tastes great on a bacon sandwich.

The printed word won’t go out of fashion because we want our correspondence to look like it was done by someone who knew what they were doing. There are many other things, even around the house, that you can print. You can print a sheet of paper like a menu, a letter to the taxman or a door notice saying We Charge £50 Per Minute To Listen To Sales Pitches And Religious Messages. Engraving is also popular but you can take it too far and appear pompous. That Hillary Clinton must be full of herself. I saw a picture of her bathroom in a magazine and she even had her taps engraved - H and C.

To be a printer you need to learn about all the different fonts and plates and sometimes you have to use ways of writing that are no longer in common use. One example is Roman numerals. I used to be really good at them but I have lost the knack and I get so upset with myself. I keep practising writing random numbers but still I struggle. For example, I can’t even remember how to write 1, 1000, 51, 6 and 500 in Roman numerals - I M LIVID.

Nothing surprises local councils and government departments more than getting a letter from someone that looks far more professional than the one their own department sent in the first place. It makes them really wonder who they are dealing with. So remember to print a few sheets on a good quality printer, use paper clips or staples to attach them all together, punch holes in the sheets of paper to make it look as if they have been in files and use yellow highlighter a lot. Highlighter pens are the way to go. Mark my words.

It is hard work being a printer. A friend of mine told me he got sacked from a printing company for taking a few days off. I was surprised and wondered whether they could sack him for that when he was entitled to take three whole weeks of annual leave. I told him that he should consider taking them to an employment tribunal. He said: “Nah, I won’t bother with all that. Apparently, we were not supposed to be taking any days off - not when we were making calendars.”

Iona Community Launches £500,000 Appeal
The Iona Community has launched an appeal to raise £500,000 for an accommodation overhaul.  The Community welcomes around 1500 guests each year and has played a significant role in the island’s economy since it was established in 1938. A recent survey of the residential facilities revealed that, without some urgent repairs and long-term major investment, they would be unfit for purpose within seven years.  Reverend Kathy Galloway, joint leader of the Iona Community, said: “This project will ensure people from around the world can continue to share in the community’s life within the historic setting and beauty of Iona. We want to adapt the living areas to be accessible for wheelchair users and people with mobility issues. We also want to install a renewable energy heating system and winter proof the building so that we can extend our season to welcome more visitors and volunteers each year. At the moment, many rooms are too cold to use past October.” The appeal has raised £3 million so far – another £500,000 is needed to meet the target. The Iona Abbey Capital project will deliver improved access, new bedrooms and fully accessible shower rooms and toilets, improved insulation and washing facilities.

Annie Lennox Named First Female Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University
Annie Lennox has been installed as the first female chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University.  The singer-songwriter and social activist said she was “humbled and awed beyond measure” to be appointed to the position at the university. She pledged to use her ceremonial leadership role to further the university’s mission to promote the common good during a special ceremony at its Glasgow campus on Monday.  The Eurythmics star succeeds Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus in the role of chancellor.  She said: “I am humbled and awed beyond measure. I only wish my parents, grandparents and great grandparents could be here today to witness this special occasion, as it would have filled them with pride and disbelief, proving in some way that miracles can sometimes happen. After all, it’s with thanks to them that I am here in the first place. “  The new chancellor said she has no degree herself but could be described as “an honorary graduate from the school of life”.  She added: “I come from a long line of hard-working Scots from the times when class boundaries, economic identities and gender roles were very firmly established. Young women from working-class backgrounds gaining university degrees were as rare as kangaroos in the Antarctic.”  Students and staff were joined by invited guests including Olympic rower Dame Katherine Grainger, singer-songwriter Midge Ure OBE and Scottish actor Martin Compston at the ceremony.   First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gave a speech while Scotland’s Makar Dr Jackie Kay, the nation’s official poet, read a specially-commissioned poem to commemorate the occasion.  Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE, vice-chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “Our values-led mission is to collaborate with others to deliver excellent education and research which transforms the lives of the individuals and communities we serve to create lasting social benefit. The students, staff and lay governors of the university share a common sense of purpose, to work together for the common good. We are deeply honoured to welcome our inspirational new chancellor to our university.”  The singer has sold more than 83 million albums worldwide during a musical career spanning four decades.  As well as her time as part of Eurythmics, she has had a solo career and has been recognised with numerous musical awards.  She has also worked to raise awareness about the HIV/AIDS pandemic and received an OBE from the Queen in the New Year’s Honours list in 2011 for her humanitarian work, recognising her contribution in raising awareness of the pandemic as it affects women and children.

Don't Dignify Trump by Violence – Turn His Scottish Visit Into A Carnival of Contempt by Iain Macwhirter
According to Godwin’s Law, revealed online by the American lawyer and author Mike Godwin in 1990, the longer an internet discussion continues, the greater the likelihood that someone will be compared with Hitler. Another internet wit combined this with Moore’s Law on computer memory, and concluded that the length of Twitter threads which end with accusations of fascism, halve every year.  Well last week, Godwin’s Law reached a kind of singularity, as Godwin himself accused the Trump White House of behaving like fascists. It’s no longer a joke. Many people, not just keyboard warriors, believe that we are witnessing a creeping fascism in the West, and that it’s time to stop laughing about it and do something. At the very least, according to the Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard, Donald Trump's visit to the UK next month should be cancelled to show that he has stepped beyond the bounds of civilised behaviour.  Looking around the West last week it was hard to disagree that something nasty is on the creep. We had Trump locking up separated immigrant children in “concentration camps”. Images were fresh of the immigrant rescue ship Aquarius, laden with 630 migrants from Libya, being turned away from Italy and embarking on a desperate odyssey that ended in the Spanish port of Valencia.  Then we saw an Italian minister of the interior, Matteo Salvini, using the kind of language about Roma that echoed the Nazis attitude to the Jews. The Lega politician called for a “mass cleansing, street by street, neighbourhood by neighbourhood”. Far right parties have been elected in a swathe of Central European and Eastern countries from Turkey to Hungary. An anti-immigrant party won this month's election in Slovenia, confirming that small countries aren't immune to the march of the right. Far right Swedish Democrats are racing ahead in the Swedish polls before September’s elections.  You don’t have to subscribe to the “Brexit is fascist” hyperbole to be more than a little worried about what is happening to our political culture. Trump is something we haven’t seen in a developed country since the 1930s: a political leader who launches trade wars as a deliberate act of policy, alternately threatening and then sucking up to dictators like Kim Jong Un. His behaviour at global summits, such as the recent G7, where he snubbed the EU and picked a fight with Canada’s Justin Trudeau, was reminiscent of the delinquent nationalism of fascists like Benito Mussolini.  The state of global capitalism is also redolent of the 1930s. The 2008 crash brought the corrupt banking boom to an abrupt end, and, as before, the burden of resolving the crisis is being borne, not by the rich, but the relatively poor. Bankers carried on with business as usual after a state bailout: the top one per cent have seen their assets increase in value thanks to money printing; while wages have fallen in value. The Institute for Fiscal Studies confirmed last week that this is the longest pay freeze since the Napoleonic Wars. Ruling classes throughout history have been adept at diverting economic discontent onto outsider groups whether Jews, Muslims, Irish or Gypsies. So, things are bad, there's no denying it. I’ve been knocking around politics for a good many years and can’t remember anything like this. Even the braying coarseness of Tory MPs following the SNP's walk out earlier this month was of a different kind: as if, in the age of Trump, restraint and magnanimity have gone out of fashion. However, we need to beware assuming that this new populism, is an exact replica of 1930s fascism.  Fascism was a romantic, pre-Enlightenment philosophy which glorified a master race and saw other peoples as genetically inferior. Nazism had a populist element: it was, after all, called the National Socialist Workers Party. But it was also militarist, expansionist and sought to enslave neighbouring states. Populists like the Five Star Movement, led by the comedian Beppo Grillo, which won the recent general election in Italy, are rather different. One of the “stars” is environmentalism - and yes, I know, Hitler was a vegetarian, but he certainly wasn’t green.

Trump is belligerent, certainly, and demonises immigrants, but he is not the leader of a two-million strong militia with ambitions to annex Canada and enslave Mexico. He has the National Rifle Association, but even they don’t strut around in jackboots, smashing Muslim businesses. At least not yet. Trump isn't so much fascism as flashism: a kind of celebrity populism which presents itself more like Dynasty than Der Sturmer. Trump doesn't study philosophers like Heidegger and Schopenhauer as Mussolini did. He doesn't have a concept of Der Wille or Das Volk – only his wealth and his folk. This is no cause for complacency, however. As David Runciman argues in “How Democracy Ends”, assuming that military dictatorships are on the way may blind us to what is actually happening. We are seeing, rather, the subversion of democracy from within by political leaders who subscribe to democratic values and even claim to support minority rights. Vladimir Putin still stands in relatively free elections, but he has been busy skewing political perception through fake news and other post-modern dark arts, while his oligarch friends export Russia's wealth to the London property market. Yes, the end result, world war, is certainly a possibility. Though again, as he demonstrated with his sudden detente with Kim, Trump has no ideological dimension. He doesn't think much beyond ego-gratification and what he calls the “art of the deal” - winning short term gains. But his headstrong abandonment of rules-based diplomacy and free trade could certainly provide the context for international conflict. You don't need jackboots to start a war – just blind self interest. Which brings us to the Trump visit to the UK. There have been calls for it to be cancelled, and it is hard to disagree. He's been refused leave to address parliament, and has effectively been excluded from London. But actually refusing him admission to the UK would set an awkward precedent since, distasteful as it may be, he is still the elected leader of the United States. We have recently given actual state visits to genuine dictators like President Xi of China, whose regime incarcerates dissidents and executes more people annually than the rest of the world combined.  It would be best if Theresa May made clear through diplomatic channels that now might not be the right time – if ever. However, if the visit does go ahead, it should be used to make a very clear statement that he is not welcome. This should not include militant disruption and violence, along the lines planned by Antifa activists, because this would only strengthen Trump's popularity at home. As a flashist, drunk on celebrity, what Trump really can't cope with is ridicule. If he ventures to Scotland to play golf, he should be met by a carnival of contempt, led by that six metre high balloon of the “orange baby”, and an immigrant march across his golf links. Let's not dignify Donald Trump as some ideological tyrant, but portray him as he is: an international buffoon, a confidence trickster and liar, who has duped his country, and turned the greatest military power on the planet into the laughing stock of the world.

Hotel Fury After Roadworks Keep Guests Awake All Night
The proprietors of a Brora hotel have hit out at BearScotland after they and their guests spent a sleepless night because of roadworks outside their door. Wendy Pearce, who runs the Sutherland Inn with her husband William, and their guests had to put up with the sound of jackhammers operating into the small hours and the bleep of reversing vehicles.  One guest was so frustrated that he left at 5am.  The couple are angry that BearScotland, which manages and maintains the trunk road, did not warn them in advance of the overnight working and were unhelpful and dismissive when they complained.  Mrs Pearce said: "We had a dreadful night and hardly anyone in the hotel got any sleep – it was horrendous." The roads firm has spent days carrying out £170,000 surfacing improvements on more than a kilometre of the A9 from the southern outskirts of Brora to the centre of the village.  Mrs Pearce said she had received a letter advising her the work was scheduled but was not unduly concerned.  She said: "It was absolutely fine with us because we thought it was just a day time thing. We had no problem with that at all."  But the couple heard on the village grapevine on Monday morning that work would continue throughout that night and into Tuesday morning. With the hotel’s seven bedrooms all fully booked, Mr Pearce phoned BearScotland in a bid to confirm the rumour and to say overnight working was not acceptable.  But, according to the couple, a representative of the firm was completely unhelpful and responded with "disinterest".  Mrs Pearce said: "They started working with jackhammers in the evening. The noise was really bad and the whole building vibrated. That continued until after 11.30pm when they began laying tar. This involved vans reversing up and down. Each time they reversed, we could hear the warning beep sound. We had to deal with a lot of irate guests."  At one point she went outside to complain to the works supervisor – the noise was so bad that she had to take him back into the hotel in order to be heard. "The chap in control was completely disinterested and basically informed me that BearScotland could do what it liked," she said. Mrs Pearce finally fell asleep at 3am, only to wake at 5am when one of her guests decamped.  She said: "I know it’s not our fault but we have tried hard to build up a good reputation and this has done us no good at all. A lot of our guests that night were workers at the distillery and had to start their day after having little sleep." The Pearces have now complained to ward councillor Deirdre Mackay and sent her a video to show exactly what they had to put up with. A spokesperson for BEAR Scotland said: "We’re sorry to learn of Mr and Mrs Pearce’s experience during this project, and we’ve reached out to the Sutherland Inn directly to explain the reasoning behind the night-time working.

Runrig Reveal Donnie Munro As Special Guest for Farewell Concerts
Rock band Runrig have revealed that former frontman Donnie Munro will be performing at their farewell concerts in Scotland this summer.  Munro will be appearing at Stirling's City Park 21 years after leaving the band with a series of farewells concert at its iconic castle. Munro, who will be opening the band's two concerts beneath the ramparts of the castle on 17 and 18 August, said "it feels so right to be there at the end."  A statement from the band announcing Munro's appearances said the two final concerts would be "a celebration of Runrig’s significant achievements over the last 45 years."  Runrig sparked a worldwide scramble for tickets when they announced they would be bowing out after 45 years with a final show in Stirling, along with dates in Denmark and Germany this summer, with an extra City Park gig added to accommodate demand.  Munro joined Runrig in 1974, the year after the group was formed by brothers Calum and Rory Macdonald and Blair Douglas. He left the group to pursue a career in politics but, unlike his long-time bandmate Pete Wishart, he failed in an attempt to win election to the House of Commons. Munro said: “Runrig has been a hugely significant part of my life, over many years and, having been there from the beginning, it feels so right to also be there at the end. To have the opportunity to share in and to celebrate the last 45 years of the band’s iconic music and the special relationship we have all enjoyed with an amazing audience, is a great honour and I am delighted to have been invited to play a part. Runrig has been such an important part of my life, I feel that I 'departed' but 'never left'. To be there as Runrig say their final goodbyes will be deeply moving.” Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis has already been announced as a special guest for the Stirling gigs, which are expected to attract around 45,000 fans over the two dates. Tickets are still on sale for the first show.  Rory Macdonald said: “We’re delighted that Donnie and Julie Fowlis will join us in Stirling as our guests. These will be unique shows as we celebrate 45 years in the music industry, and to have them there with us, just makes our final farewell extra special.”

The Clock is Ticking to Deadline As Mod Entry Date is Extended

Time is running out for competitors to register their entries for Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail 2018, to be held in Dunoon this year.  However, An Comunn Gàidhealach have announced that the entry deadline will now be extended to July 13th, meaning that competitors wishing to compete at this year’s Mòd now have an extra few days to register their entries. Alison Bruce, Mòd Officer, said: “With the success of the online entry system making our administration of the entries slightly easier, we want to give competitors an extra amount of time to get their entries in.  This means also that all the competitions, including Piping and instrumentals are now all due on the same date.  We are aware that this is a busy time for folk with schools closing for the summer break which makes it difficult for some to meet the previous deadline, but competitors now have an extended period, until the 13th July to enter.”  The return of Gaeldom’s premier cultural festival to Dunoon, always a popular location with Mòd participants, was welcomed by Convener of the Local Organising Committee, Dick Walsh.  He said this week: “Preparations for Mòd 2018 in Dunoon are well underway.  The Local Organising Committee and Argyll & Bute Council are delighted to support the organisation of the event again and we’re looking forward to welcoming competitors and spectators and everyone who attends the competitions and events. The Local Authority has been, and continues to be, very supportive of the Mòd in every aspect of its operations. Indeed, we are excited about Dunoon hosting Gaelic’s principal festival in October.”  Am Mòd Nàiseanta Rìoghail will be held in Dunoon between 12-20 October 2018. To find out more about this year’s event see website: www.ancomunn.co.uk or www.moddhunomhain.com

Treasury to Cover Policing Cost of Trump Visit to Scotland

The Treasury has confirmed it will fund policing costs of up to £5m if US President Donald Trump visits Scotland. It is believed Mr Trump will head to Scotland after meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in London next week.  Concerns were raised that any such visit could require at least 5,000 officers to police, costing Scotland's national force up to £5m. However, Treasury Secretary Liz Truss has now confirmed that money would be made available for policing any visit. Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf had written to UK counterparts saying it would be "completely unacceptable" for the Scottish government to carry the costs of policing the visit.  It is thought that President Trump may visit at least one of his golf courses in Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire.  Mr Trump's mother was born on the Isle of Lewis, and he made several visits to his "ancestral home" before he became president. He last visited Trump Turnberry in June 2016 - on the day after the EU referendum - on his first foreign trip as the Republican presidential candidate. That trip was the subject of a small protest, but if he travels to Scotland much larger rallies are expected in a number of locations now that he is in office - all of which would need to be policed.  Police Scotland is working on "extensive operational planning" for a visit by the president, with interim Chief Constable Iain Livingstone warning the Scottish Police Authority that "we will have to utilise over 5,000 conventional officers, along with public order officer, specialised search and firearms resources".  Writing to Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Mr Yousaf cited the 2005 G8 summit in Gleneagles, when the UK government paid £20m towards policing costs.  In a letter replying to Mr Yousaf, Ms Truss stressed that "the final details of the president's visit to the UK, including Scotland, are still to be confirmed".  She wrote: "As you are aware, policing is a devolved matter in Scotland. However, on an exceptional basis, I can confirm that the Treasury would provide ring-fenced funding of up to £5m to cover the costs incurred by Police Scotland should a visit from the president be confirmed."  Mr Yousaf welcomed the move, while Mr Livingstone said it was a "fair outcome" - adding that "detailed planning continues" in "another busy and demanding summer" for the force.  Some Scottish politicians have spoken out against Mr Trump's visit, with Green co-convener Patrick Harvie tweeting that the UK government "will also pay the political cost of their friendship with this dangerous, delusional bully".

Beach Evacuated After ‘Mortar’ Find
A popular North East Fife beach has been evacuated following the discovery of a suspected mortar shell. Police and fire fighters raced to Tentsmuir beach, near Tayport, shortly after 10.30am on Tuesday morning following reports of a suspicious item on the beach. Members of the public were ushered from the sands and told to keep back. A wide cordon has been established by uniformed officers, keeping people as far from the discovery as possible. Bomb disposal experts have been called to the scene from the Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit as well as specialist personnel from Police Scotland.  A Police Scotland East division spokesperson said: “Police in Fife are currently in attendance in the Tentsmuir Forest area of Tayport following a report that a suspected mortar shell was found by a member of the public. Specialist personnel including the EOD have been alerted and a cordon is currently in place.”

Councillors 'Missing Scale of Challenge'
Some Highland councillors do not appreciate the seriousness of the long-term budget crisis before them, according to their finance director. The unusually stern remark from Derek Yule was followed up with the more upbeat assessment that 2018 offered "an opportunity" to shape the future of the council.  He told them: "I worry that there are a number of members in the chamber who don’t appreciate the scale of the challenge, and they need to make clear decisions and then support the delivery of these."  Initial, three-year, projections indicate that yet more savings of up to £125 million may need to be found in a current annual budget of about £500 million.  Budget leader Alister Mackinnon indicated last week that council tax would rise by more than 25 per cent, if the Scottish Government allowed that scale of increase.  A raft of other financial headlines emerging from a full council meeting in Inverness may have done little to inspire. Councillors were informed that the UK Westminster government had again snubbed their call for an historical and massive housing debt to be written off. There was intense anger over the revelation that the Scottish Government had under-spent its budget by £453 million while cutting council grants. After a passionate argument over the SNP’s governance of Holyrood finances, councillors voted 45-20 in favour of a Liberal Democrat/Labour motion to write to Finance Secretary Derek Mackay to demand a £21.4 million payback as Highland’s "share" of the under-spend.  Lib Dem group leader Alasdair Christie cited heart-rending cuts in services the council had to make to balance its books, affecting "some of the most vulnerable people in our communities – grants to Blindcraft and Women’s Aid, and play areas".  He said: "We should have some of that £453 million redistributed to us so we can revisit some of the savings we’re having to take. It’s totally irresponsible in times of austerity to under-spend by such an obscene amount, almost to the intent of creating some slush fund that will be given out at some stage in the future."

Service to Mark 30 Years Since Piper Alpha Disaster
A service to remember the 167 men who lost their lives in the Piper Alpha disaster 30 years ago has taken  place.  Family and friends of the victims of the world’s worst offshore tragedy wase joined by some of the 61 survivors who managed to flee the burning platform on July 6 1988.  The Act of Remembrance took place at 7pm on Friday in Aberdeen’s Hazlehead Park, home to the Piper Alpha Memorial Garden.  The service had been organised by the Reverend Gordon Craig, chaplain to the UK offshore oil and gas industry. He said: “So many lives were affected on that terrible night and it is right and proper that we take a little time to recognise this. In doing so, my prayer is we provide a little crumb of comfort to those affected most. I think it is vital that the industry takes time to remember too. The deaths of those men led to massive improvements in the way safety was managed in North Sea industry. It became an infinitely safer place than it was in 1988 but it will only remain so if we all play our part. Remembering the cost when things go horribly wrong can only encourage us all to work safely.”  Industry representatives read aloud the names of those who died and a lone piper  play a lament, which was followed by a minute’s silence.

William Meets Woman Who Worked As Nurse on NHS’s First Day

The Duke of Cambridge met a woman who worked as a nurse on the first day of the NHS as he attended a reception to mark 70 years of the service. William was introduced to Catherine Reid, 90, during the event at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh on Thursday. Mrs Reid, known as Kit, told how she exchanged early memories of her nursing career and the transition into the NHS with the royal guest.  She said: “My first pay was two pound notes and a 10 shilling note. The week before national health it was seven (shillings) and six (pence).”  Mrs Reid, of Haddington in East Lothian, worked as a nurse from 1946 until 1952 and spent some of her career at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids’ Hospital.  “My first memory of work was the knowledge that the hospital was getting much busier and there were more children coming in and going out cured. Before that, the parents couldn’t afford medical help and were leaving it too late for their children to come in and many of them didn’t make it.  Also I remember saying to the sister I was working with at the time, ‘the parents coming in now have lost their terribly haunted look because they know now they can bring their children in’.” She told how the nurses had to live on site in those days and would therefore tend to give up work when they became married.  “We weren’t allowed to live out of hospital, we had to stay in the nurses’ homes,” she said.  “I loved it – I loved the camaraderie, I loved the company, I loved everything about it.  It wasn’t all drudgery and hard work, we had lots of fun into the bargain.”  The evening reception, attended by 700 people, was one of a series of events taking place around the UK to mark 70 years since the health service was founded. During the engagement, William watched a short film about the history of the NHS and listened to singing by the NHS Forth Valley Nurses Choir.

Minister Marks Centenary of 100-year Whisky Link with Japan
A Scottish Government minister has raised a glass to the centenary of an enduring business link between Scotland and Japan – and a shared love of whisky.  External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop marked the role Scotland played in the foundation of drinks giant Nikka Whisky – a leading Japanese brand and owners of the Ben Nevis Distillery in Fort William – while on a trade mission to the east Asian nation.  Masataka Taketsuru, the founder of Nikka Whisky, famously travelled to Scotland in 1918 to learn the process of distilling malt whisky, working at distilleries across the country after studying at Glasgow University.  In 1920, he married Jessie “Rita” Roberta Cowan, from Kirkintilloch, before returning to Japan later that year, and going on to play a key role in the establishment of the Yamazaki distillery in 1924. The Yamazaki distillery was the country’s first whisky distillery and Mr Taketsuru’s role in its creation earned him the title of “the father of Japanese whisky”.  In 2011, the distillery produced the winner of the “world’s best single malt whisky”, and Scotch whisky exports to Japan are now worth more than £80million a year.  Ms Hyslop said: “Nikka whisky has deep roots in Scotland’s whisky heritage.  This year, Nikka celebrate 100 years since founder Masataka Taketsuru visited Scotland to study whisky production. He fell in love with Glasgow and met his future wife in the city.  This week, I will aim to strengthen those bonds between Japan and Scotland that have endured for centuries, a relationship that will continue to  flourish.  I want to thank the company for long-term relationship with Scotland via investment in their Fort William operation in whisky production, the Ben Nevis Distillery.”

The Highlands and Islands Nurses Who Inspired NHS Creation

Some 35 years before the birth of the NHS, a state-run healthcare service in the Highlands and Islands treated patients in Scotland’s remotest spots with motorbikes and rowing boats often used by nurses to reach appointments.  The creation of the Highlands and Islands Medical Service in 1913 was then a unique social experiment launched after the Dewar Report found poor care and treatment in the North and in some cases, no care at all. A solution was sought given that large number of crofters and fishermen received no wages and were unable to qualify for the National Health insurance Scheme of 1912.  The service in the Highlands and Islands was to pave the way for the creation of the NHS, which celebrates its 70th anniversary today.  District nurses often worked by the light of tilley lamps and battled the elements to reach their patients, on one occasion saving a toddler who had fallen into a pot of soup.  The district nurses were judged to be of extraordinary pedigree most of them having temporarily left their Hebridean homes to train in Edinburgh and Glasgow as Queen’s Nurses, which expanded their clinical skills and gumption in the field. Accounts of those working in the new service were recorded by author Catherine Morrison in Hebridean Heroines, 20th Century Queen’s Nurses, published last year.  One former district nursing officer, Christine MacLennan, who served until the 1970s, recalled in the book:  “Nurses had to have the courage and the physical strength to face the black moor walks at night, exhausting battles with wind and rain and journeys by small boats across stormy seas.  It was the way help must come to save the patient, it was given without hesitation.”  Long, often hazardous journeys were made to see patients, including storm-hit trips on boats to lighthouses and fog-ridden walks on coastal paths.  Horses and motorbikes were used by some of the women, who would often act as GP, nurse and midwife - to get around.  Within a few months of the Dewar report, the Treasury agreed to provide an annual grant of £42,000 to fund HIMS - the equivalent to one shilling and sixpence for each member of the population.  Morrison, in her book, described the impact of The Dewar Report as “seismic” with HIMS to inform the setting up of the NHS in Scotland in 1948.  “The Secretary of State for Scotland introduced the NHS (Scotland) Bill in the House of Commons in 1946 by informing the House that the HIMS had provided the necessary pointers towards a comprehensive service for the whole country,” she said.  The service of the Queen’s Nurses was also to inspire nursing in some of the world’s remotest places, from frontier land in the United States to Newfoundland in Canada and the Australian Bush.

Assynt Crofters Celebrate 25 Years of Historic Estate Buyout

The 25th anniversary of the historic buyout of a Highland estate by the Assynt Crofters is being celebrated this week.  The purchase of the North Lochinver Estate in 1993 made headlines around the world and broke new ground in land reform in Scotland.  The crofters stopped the estate being broken up and sold off in small lots after its owner, a Swedish land speculator, went bust.  This week, a series of events is being held in Assynt to mark the achievements of the crofters who led the buyout of the land and to reflect on both the past and future of land ownership in Scotland. The Allan MacRae Memorial Debate was held on Wednesday in honour of the crofter and passionate advocate of land reform who lead the buyout.  A biography of MacRae, who died in June 2013, will also be launched by author Judith Napier.  Fèis in the Fank, an all-night festival of Scottish music, celebrated the anniversary with artists including Skerryvore, Blazin Fiddles, James Graham and the Skala Ceildh Dance Band leading the party.  The deal secured by Assynt Crofters is considered to have inspired a new chapter in land ownership and inspired buyouts on the island of Eigg and the Knoydart Peninsula.  The attempt to buy the estate at Lochinver was famously described as “bordering on the lunatic” by some but the planned purchased gathered momentum as liquidators made clear their intention to buy out the land,  The Assynt Crofters’ Trust was formed and a public appeal for funds launched.  A deal was reached in December 1992. Almost half of the £300,000 was raised by the crofters and their supporters both at home and abroad. Some donations came from those who traced their ancestors to those pushed off the land during the Highland Clearances.  Sutherland District Council and Highland Regional Council also supported the purchase with a donation also made by Highland Fund to help with the administration of the trust.

Scottish Finance Jobs Growth 'Outstrips London'
Scotland has outpaced London in terms of jobs growth in financial services in the past year, according to a report.  Industry-led body TheCityUK said the number of jobs in the sector north of the border grew by 6.6%, to 161,000.  London saw a rise of 5% in the same period. The report found that financial and related professional services now accounted for 8.9% of the Scottish economy - the largest area contribution outside London. It said Scotland had "particular strengths" in banking, life assurance and pensions, with a "renowned centre of excellence" in investment management and data science, as well as an emerging FinTech community. It also found that after London, Glasgow remained the biggest insurance centre while Edinburgh had the largest centre for banking and was also a "major international location" for fund management.  TheCityUK chief executive Miles Celic said: "One in every 14 British jobs are in financial and related professional services. These 'City jobs' aren't just confined to London, they're in financial clusters all across the UK, in cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester." First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "This report reinforces Scotland's position as the UK's leading financial services hub outside London. Scotland offers a combination of a well-established financial services sector and ongoing innovation, with many global companies already based here." Meanwhile, a separate survey found a sharp rise last month in the number of people who found permanent jobs in Scotland. The Royal Bank of Scotland Report on Jobs said permanent placements rose at their fastest pace in 44 months, outpacing the UK as a whole.  There was also a marked increase in billings for contract staff, according to the survey of recruitment agencies.  While demand for staff grew at an accelerated pace, the number of available candidates continued to fall. The report said that, as a result, pay pressures "remained elevated", with both starting salaries and temp staff wages increasing further in June.

Last Updated (Saturday, 07 July 2018 05:27)