Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 462

Issue # 462                                                          Week ending Saturday 28th  July 2018

Supreme Court Case Over Scottish Brexit Bill to Begin
A legal challenge against the Scottish Parliament's Brexit bill is to begin at the Supreme Court in London.  MSPs passed the bill, an alternative to Westminster's EU Withdrawal Bill, in March amid a long-running row over post-Brexit powers and devolution.  Holyrood's presiding officer had raised questions over whether the legislation was within the parliament's remit, and UK law officers challenged it in court.  However the Scottish government insists the bill should be allowed to stand.  The WelSsh and Northern Irish assemblies will also be represented in the two-day hearing, having made submissions backing the Scottish government's stance.  A judgement is not expected until later in the year.  The UK Withdrawal from the European Union (Legal Continuity) (Scotland) Bill - known as the "continuity bill" - was passed under emergency procedures with only the Conservatives and a single Lib Dem MSP voting against it. But before it could become law, it was referred to the Supreme Court by UK law officers to settle whether it lies within Holyrood's competence. Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh penned an official memo saying the bill was "not within the legislative competence of the parliament", as it would see MSPs "make provision now for the exercise of powers which is it is possible they will acquire in future".  This was denied by Lord Advocate James Wolffe, the Scottish government's top legal adviser, who insisted the legislation was "carefully framed" not to cut across EU laws - and said it was designed on the Withdrawal Bill in that regard. The UK Westminster government's senior law officers said they wanted the Supreme Court to look at the bill to ensure there was "legal certainty" about whether it is valid.  Arguments will be heard at the Supreme Court by Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Sumption, Lord Carnwarth, Lord Hodge, Lord Kerr and Lord Lloyd-Jones. They will hear from legal representatives of the Scottish and UK governments, as well as the counsel general for Wales and the Northern Irish attorney general, who have made submissions as interested parties.  Both have backed the Scottish government's view that Holyrood should be allowed to legislate on Brexit. The Welsh government originally had a Brexit bill of its own, which also faced a court challenge, but the legislation was withdrawn after Welsh ministers came to an agreement with UK counterparts over the Withdrawal Bill. The three options open to the judges are to give the bill the green light, to reject it entirely, or to allow some sections to stand while rejecting others. Should any part of the bill be struck down, it would go back to Holyrood for MSPs to consider making changes. The Scottish government and the UK Westminster government have been unable to agree on how powers currently exercised from Brussels are to be used after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.  Both sides agree that certain powers should be used to set up UK-wide frameworks of common rules and regulations, in fields like food standards and labelling. But ministers cannot agree on who should have the final say over how this should be done. Scottish ministers say giving Westminster the final say is a "power grab" from Holyrood, while Whitehall ministers say they cannot give MSPs a "veto" over UK-wide plans.  With the dispute deadlocked, MSPs refused to give their consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill, giving fresh importance to the issue of the continuity bill and whether it will be allowed to stand. The Scottish government has also indicated that it will not put any of the UK Westminster government's further Brexit legislation forward for consent votes at Holyrood until the row has been resolved.

It’s Blooming Marvellous in Stornoway!

Stornoway is in full bloom thanks to a project by the Stornoway Amenity Trust. The Trust, which is a non-profit making organisation, led by a team of volunteers, made it its mission to brighten up the town for the summer.  Receiving funds from the Western Isles Lottery has allowed the Trust to fund flower displays in the town centre, Bayhead and as far as Manor Roundabout where new flower beds have been created.  Charlie Nicolson, Chair of the Amenity Trust said: “We are very pleased to have been able to brighten up the town with floral displays for the summer.  This has been possible due to funding from the Western Isles Lottery and we hope that the public will continue to support us through the Lottery to allow us to carry out even more projects to improve our town for locals and visitors alike.” The floral displays were created by Willowglen Garden Centre. The Amenity Trust would like to thank Hebridean Housing Partnership (HHP) for also supporting the project.

Barclays Plans 2,500 New Jobs in Glasgow

Barclays has unveiled plans to create up to 2,500 jobs at a new hub in Glasgow, in a major boost to Scotland's financial services sector.  The bank will house its technology, functions and operations teams at a campus at the planned Buchanan Wharf development on the banks of the Clyde. Barclays said it would "play a pivotal role" in its "long-term strategic priorities".  The move would double Barclays' current workforce in Scotland.  Barclays has agreed to purchase the campus development from Drum Property Group and is currently finalising the design of the new facility as part of the wider Buchanan Wharf development. The bank's existing Scottish operations are expected to start transferring to the new campus from 2021.  Scottish Enterprise has agreed to provide a grant of £12.75m towards the project. The offer requires that at least 42% of the new jobs are of "high value", with at least 341 posts made available for disadvantaged workers or those who have a disability.  The development will make the bank one of Glasgow's largest commercial employers.  Paul Compton, chief operating officer at Barclays, said: "The Glasgow campus, alongside others in Whippany, New Jersey, and Pune, India, is part of a global strategy to create world-class facilities for our functions, technology and operations teams.  This new campus at Buchanan Wharf is a flagship project for the bank, which builds on Barclays' long history in Scotland and clearly demonstrates our commitment to supporting the UK economy."  Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the project would be "transformational for Glasgow". This is fantastic news for Glasgow. This is the kind of investment that will create lots of jobs ... but it is also the kind of investment that will be transformational for this part of the city. It is likely to act as a magnet for other investment that will see the regeneration of a part of Glasgow that has long needed it."  She added: "The new campus will strengthen Glasgow's financial services sector and shows Scotland continues to be a highly attractive location for inward investment.  I am particularly pleased that as part of this investment, Barclays has committed to employing local people who often face barriers into work, including those with disabilities and young people."  Paul Lewis, from Scottish Enterprise, said: "This investment establishes Glasgow as a key global site for Barclays, providing a platform for growth whilst also securing existing operations in Scotland.  It will breathe new life into a part of the city with huge potential and bring significant new jobs, including employment specifically for disadvantaged workers."  Buchanan Wharf is a major mixed-use scheme currently being developed by Drum Property Group.  Drum managing director Graeme Bone said the project was "setting a new benchmark for large scale development across Scotland"  He added: "Our development will be one of Scotland's largest single-site construction projects, bringing together over a million square feet of prime Grade A office space with residential accommodation, and an exciting mix of amenities and landscaped public spaces."

No Deal Brexit Would Mean No More UK by Iain Macwhirter
They cannot be serious. The UK Westminster Government is to issue 70 “technical notices” in the next few weeks advising families and small businesses on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. You know, stuff like stock-piling canned food and medicines in case of dislocation at the ports. Firms to start making customs declarations for the first time, and to prepare for the abrupt departure of EU staff. We'll no doubt be told to assist the army guarding the ports and help the police prevent any civil disobedience from three million-odd EU citizens who’ll be left high and dry. Oh, and forget air travel, continental holidays, mobile phone roaming. Not so much Project Fear as Protect and Survive.  Of course it will never happen. It's all Remoaner fantasies and Brussels scaremongering to try to get Britain to submit to the heel of the European Court of Justice and cough up the £40 billion divorce bill. Except that this scaremongering isn't coming from Brussels, but from the British civil service whose job it is make contingencies. And they are right to do so. A no-deal Brexit is looking more and more likely, following the effective demise of Theresa May’s compromise White Paper last week. Her attempt to remain in the EU regulatory environment by adopting a “common rule book” – in other words, agreeing to replicate all the terms of our current membership while not actually being a member of the EU – pleased no one. It was condemned as “vassalage” by Boris Johnson in his resignation speech, and a “national humiliation” even by pro-Europeans like the former Labour EU Commissioner, Lord Mandelson. The trade bills scraped through parliament last week on the back of a handful of rebel Labour MPs and the indolence of the current and former Liberal Democrat leaders who failed to show for a crucial vote on Monday. But amendments from hard Brexiteers have made May’s White Paper unworkable. The Scottish Government hasn't commented on the no deal preparations, but it, too, will have to think the unthinkable. This week the Supreme Court will rule on whether the Scottish parliament had the right to pass a Continuity Bill, seeking to retain control over devolved powers like food, fishing and environment repatriated from Brussels. But this has been comprehensively overtaken by events. The Scottish Parliament was reduced to the status of a parish council last week by legislation that ran roughshod over Holyrood's legal right to withhold consent if it disagrees with aspects of the new trade agreements. No Sewel convention is going to prevent Scotland disappearing down the Brexit sink hole. Now, when people talk of a no-deal Brexit they usually mean something like Britain “reverting” to World Trade Organisation terms, or a Canada-style free trade agreement. Wrong. No deal means no deal – it means no trade agreement, no two-year transition period in which things remain largely as they do today. No rights to travel in Europe for work or leisure without a visa, no common standards for medicines, nuclear material or air safety. Everyone will do their best to prevent relations with Europe breaking down completely, and people being hurt – but accidents can happen. A no deal would be Britain’s biggest economic dislocation since the Second World War. Even a bog standard, free trade deal has to be negotiated and the one struck last week between the EU and Japan took eight years. And even when we have one, it will not be anything like Britain's current “friction-free” access to the customs union and the single market. There will be tariffs of 10 per cent on cars (so goodbye Nissan and Honda) and 15 per cent on average on food. But much worse will be all the non-tariff barriers to trade: like sanitary and “phytosanitary" regulations [protective measures against contaminants] which could make much produce unsellable. Service industries, which make up 80 per cent of the British economy will find that they are not automatically authorised to trade in the EU. Banks and financial services will lose their “passporting rights” – though many have already jumped ship. There will be a hard border in Ireland, or the Irish Sea, because there has to be one, despite what Theresa May said in Ireland last week. No dealers, like the Tory MP John Redwood, insist this is not necessary. “We don't want to set up any borders” he says. This is a new dimension in post-truth politics verging on the theatre of the absurd. The whole point about Brexit was to set up borders – that is what leaving the European Union means. And the UK's only land border with Europe runs right through the Emerald Isle. It’s 500 km long and has 300-odd crossing points. Moreover the Good Friday Agreement requires regulatory harmonisation north and south. Brexiteers seem to believe that everything will just continue as it does now, and that all those multilateral agreements Britain has entered into over the last 40 years will somehow still apply even as we leave the EU.  Right wing economists like Professor Patrick Minford insist that Britain will be so efficient, freed from Brussels red tape, and so low cost, that we we’ll still be able to flood their markets with our cheap goods and services. But that kind of Vietnamisation of the UK economy is not something that British people are quite prepared for. Brexiteers expect the “anglosphere” – the Commonwealth plus America – to give preferential terms to the UK. But countries like Canada and India are all much more interested in trade deals with the EU, not their former imperial master.  Remain-voting Scotland has been watching the slide to a no deal Brexit with mounting alarm. There was chaos in Westminster last week, as pairing arrangements were abandoned, Tory anti-Brexit rebels were threatened, and a clutch of die-hard pro-Brexit Labour MPs saved the day for Theresa May. It felt like being chained to a lunatic. Every constituency in Scotland voted to remain and the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for Scotland will be dire. But not nearly as dire as it will be for the future of the United Kingdom.  Descent into no-deal chaos, or even the imminent threat of such, will surely lead to the collapse of the UK Westminster government. Theresa May has been a “dead woman walking”, to use the former Chancellor’s phrase, for over a year, and now she isn’t even doing that. With parliament deadlocked, and both the major UK parties opposed to a repeat referendum on Brexit, her departure should mean a General Election, as the Tory party spirals into a state of civil war.  In any General Election against the background of a no deal Brexit we can expect the SNP to return another super-landslide even greater than in 2015. Labour will be condemned for failing to defend the Scottish Parliament's powers, and for Jeremy Corbyn's refusal even to contemplate a soft Brexit solution involving continued membership of the customs union and single market. The Scottish Tory revival is already stone dead, and the Liberal Democrats are irrelevant. Scots will vote with fury for the party that has consistently opposed Brexit: the SNP. That could mean curtains for the Union, as Scots realise that they made a mistake in 2014. The Tory right better believe it: no deal means no more UK.

More Than 200 Pipe Bands to Compete in World Championships

More than 200 pipe bands from across the globe are to travel to Glasgow for a chance to be crowned world champion.  The World Pipe Band Championships are to be held on August 17-18.  Around 8,000 pipers and drummers from 13 countries will descend on Glasgow Green to compete for the prize.  Ian Embelton, chief executive of the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said: "The World Pipe Band Championships are now on a scale that would scarcely have been imagined 70 years ago when it was first held in Glasgow.  We have bands entered from all over the world all competing to stage their best performance and test themselves against the best.  Pipe bands also play a significant role in the development of young people, in building communities and friendships and teaching skills that will last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations."  More than a quarter of the 214 entries will come from overseas with nations represented including New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France, Canada, Oman, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Eire, USA, England, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Play Set to Bring Story of the Caledonian Canal to Life
Waters of Time, the new bespoke Canal Theatre play produced by the Walking Theatre Company, is set against the making of the Caledonian Canal and uses the Fort Augustus lock staircase as its stage. The cast will take visitors on a journey through time, exploring the canal’s history.  The programme celebrates the opening of Scottish Canals’ new Caledonian Canal Centre in Fort Augustus, a visitor and destination hub which opened in May.  The centre offers new, all year round, facilities for visitors and locals, including information, a gift shop promoting locally sourced goods and a café serving homemade produce. Visitor interpretation is incorporated throughout the centre, unlocking the wealth of local heritage and internationally renowned local features of the Caledonian Canal, Great Glen and Loch Ness. Seven holiday rooms are also available to let for guests who want to make Fort Augustus their base, bookable through Airbnb. The creation of the centre was supported by VisitScotland and the Heritage Lottery Fund Scotland, and was awarded £237,500 of Coastal Communities Funding.  This contributed to the £1.2 million redevelopment of existing vacant premises in Fort Augustus, bringing the redundant building back into a productive and sustainable use.  Mark Smith, head of destinations and tourism at Scottish Canals, said: "The new Caledonian Canal Centre is an exciting addition to the canal side at Fort Augustus. During the development of this project we have been working closely with the local community to develop the stories of the canal and bring our rich heritage to life, and we look forward to continuing this.  We’re delighted to welcome Canal Theatre to Fort Augustus to mark the opening of the new centre, and we’re sure that visitors and locals alike will enjoy meandering through the years with the play’s characters."

In Pictures: the Lost Ways of Island Life
They capture everyday life in the islands and the lost skills, tools and chores that underpinned survival in Scotland’s far reaches for generations.  Now more than 5,000 negatives and 1,000 prints from the archive of Margaret Fay Shaw, who documented islanders for more than 70 years, have been digitally preserved for the future.  Shaw, an American heiress who left her native Pittsburgh for South Uist in 1929, became a passionate chronicler of Gaels and their culture.  She lodged with two sisters, Mairi and Peigi Anndra Macrae, whom she met while staying with their cousin Donald Ferguson, at Boisdale House.  It was the Gaelic singing of the sisters that sent Shaw on a cultural odyssey across the islands and fuelled a deep interest in recording both the images and sounds that reflected everyday life.  She absorbed herself in the culture and lived with the sisters in their blackhouse in North Glendale for six years. Shaw, who died in 2004, met the folklorist John Lorne Campbell on South Uist in 1934 with the couple later moving into Canna House on the island of Canna in 1938. They were to live there for the rest of their lives.  It was here that her vast photographic collection was left with it now being digitised by the National Trust for Scotland, who now own the island, after it received funding from the Morton Charitable Trust.  Work is ongoing to identify those people captured in the images, some which were taken almost 100 years ago.  The National Trust for Scotland intend to make the archive available online for future generations to enjoy

'Utterly Shocking' Blow to Scots Shipbuilding As Plan for New Frigates is Halted

Plans to build the next generation of frigates have been halted - levelling a blow to Rosyth which was expected to work on them. A team led by Rosyth yard owners Babcock,  had unveiled a proposal for the £1.25 billion Type 31e general purpose light frigate programme just last month.  Called the Arrowhead 140, the design was a contender for the scheme which would see the Royal Navy replace Type 23 frigates with five new Type 31s - until now. An official spokesperson said there were “insufficient compliant bids for an effective and robust competition”.  Babcock and BMT recently signed a cooperation agreement which could see the Type 31e built in Rosyth, Scotland and Appledore, Devon if their bid is successful. It was understood that the Rosyth/Appledore option was the preferred build and assembly locations It is suggested that work on the next generation of frigates for the Navy has had to be suspended and delayed on the grounds of cost.  The MoD is understood to have ended the original acquisition process, citing insufficient compliant bids for an effective and robust competition.  While moves are under way to develop a new ‘streamlined’ competition, the pause means that the target in-service date (ISD) of 2023 is now in doubt. SNP Defence spokesman Stewart McDonald MP said that news was "utterly shocking".  He said: ‘’Suspending this vital programme on the very last day of parliament is the kind of thing we have grown to expect from this deeply cynical untrustworthy government – but it is still utterly shocking.  "The Ministry of Defence has been unable to answer the most basic questions about the cost of this new Type 31e frigates and today they have had to own up to their own chaotic failures.  This has deeply serious consequences for our naval defence capabilities and the future of the shipbuilding across the UK.  Time after time the Tories make claims about shipbuilding being safe in their hands only for the workforces to be hammered by u turns - lies and broken promises. Today’s reports will be just another hammer blow from the Tories who think they can do anything to Scotland and get away with it.  The Scottish Tories need to wake up to the threats to our shipbuilding industry from their own incompetent government and stop dismissing SNP concerns as ' scare mongering' as they do every time I raise them in parliament.  This is proof that yet again on the last day of parliament that the Tories cannot and must never be trusted on shipbuilding.’’ Scottish Labour MP for Glasgow North East Paul Sweeney said: "It's clear the MoD price target was unrealistic without putting in place the certainty of the orders being placed with a given consortium, so they could invest and be match-fit to build the ship at that price. The industry deserves better than for this story to be sneaked out on the day before recess. It's disappointing that the Secretary of State did not choose to inform the house.  Just as we have seen with the Fleet Solid Support ships the Government is failing to support our industry and provide the reassurance needed for our shipbuilding industry to invest to be world class. We have a huge opportunity to achieve that with Type 26 being built on the Clyde and Type 31e, yet their adherence to free-market dogma above all else is squandering it; going back to the bad old days of insecure jobs and lack of investment that plagued our shipyards through the 1990s."  It appears that the Type 31e project is not completely dead, as the MoD says it will seek a new “streamlined” competition as soon as possible. Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson said during the 2016 Holyrood election campaign that the "light frigate order" would definitely be going to the Clyde.  In a statement the MoD said: "Making this decision now and starting a new procurement is the right thing to do to deliver the best outcome. We will present plans for a new streamlined procedure imminently."  The MoD added:  “There have been no changes in our plans to procure a first batch of five new Type 31e frigates to grow our Royal Navy.  We still want the first ship delivered by 2023 and are confident that industry will meet the challenge of providing them for the price tag we’ve set. This is an early contract in a wider procurement process, and we will incorporate the lessons learned and begin again as soon as possible so the programme can continue at pace.”  The decision to move to Type 31e came after the MoD undertook a shake up two years ago of how warships will be built for the Royal Navy that aimed to spread the work around the country. Proposals floated by industrialist Sir John Parker in his review of the sector in 2016 were backed by the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon in a move intended to deliver budget vessels to the British military that are also aimed at being attractive to foreign buyers.  Sir John recommended the new vessels be built at shipyards around the country, using the “modular” system employed to construct the huge Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

Scorn At Claim Sutherland Chosen for Spaceport Because it is Close to Tory Seats
A Labour frontbencher has claimed that north Sutherland was chosen to host the UK’s first spaceport because it is “close” to Tory seats – despite the nearest being 100-miles away. Shadow Science Minister Chi Onwurah – who also suggested the site near Tongue was too far from the equator – faced a backlash last night as she was mocked for her “utterly bizarre” remarks.  The Conservatives have never won a Holyrood constituency in the Highlands and islands, have had no MPs in the region since the 1980s, and the nearest current Tory-held seat to the spaceport site is more than 100 miles away in Moray.  The UK Space Agency has also dismissed claims that launch sites need to be near the equator, saying northern Scotland was “well suited geographically” for the launch of small satellites into polar and sun-synchronous orbits of Earth.  But in the Commons, Ms Onwurah said: “The proposed Sutherland spaceport will be the northernmost operational spaceport in the world.  As a Newcastle MP, I am all for going north.  “However, spaceports are overwhelmingly sited near the equator where the Earth’s rotational speed is highest, allowing rockets to harness an additional natural boost.  Does funding take into account the potential extra costs associated and what factors were taken into consideration when choosing the location far from the equator, although close to Tory marginals?”  Rival politicians seized on the remarks last night, with Conservative MSP Donald Cameron branding the intervention “utterly ignorant”. “The fact of the matter is that Sutherland was chosen as the vertical spaceport site because, as the UK Westminster Government rightly pointed out, Scotland is the best place in the UK to reach in-demand satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets,” he said. “The UK Westminster Government also announced an additional £2 million towards horizontal launch sites and there many parts of the UK in the running for this.  It’s abundantly clear however that this utterly bizarre statement highlights the reality that a left-wing Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn would deny Scotland vital investment.” Jamie Stone, the area’s current Liberal Democrat MP, said: “If Ms Onwurah is willing to come visit I would be more than happy to show her exactly what we have to offer.  She will also be pleasantly surprised to know how few Tories we have in our part of the world.”  He added: “The UK Space Agency is absolutely right that our Highland geography is well suited to launching satellites. Having lobbied for Sutherland to host the UK’s first spaceport, I am all too aware of how carefully selected the far North was for this exciting new development.”

EU ‘Cannot and Will Not’ Accept Key Part of Theresa May's Brexit Plan
The EU “cannot and will not” accept any post-Brexit customs deal with the UK that gives a third country responsibility for tariff collection, its chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said in a blunt rejection of a key component of Theresa May’s strategy. In a press conference following talks with UK Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Mr Barnier said the EU had “doubts” that the UK’s plan for a ‘facilitated customs arrangement’ where London would collect tariffs and perform checks on goods destined for Europe could work.  The two men pledged to meet every week ahead of a crucial EU summit in October, when both sides hope the UK’s withdrawal agreement can be signed off by European leaders.  Mr Barnier said that he wanted to "bring new energy into these negotiations" over the coming weeks, and said UK proposals on foreign policy and security marked "a real step forward".  He also welcomed the acknowledgement in Mrs May's White Paper that the European Court of Justice is the only arbiter of EU law.  But he said: "In contrast, on our future economic relationship, it comes as no surprise that finding common ground between the EU27 and the UK is more difficult." Mr Barnier warned that retaining control of the EU's money , law and borders also applied to the EU's customs policy. The EU cannot and the EU will not delegate the application of its customs policy and and rules and VAT and excises duty collection to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU's governance structures."  And he said the ‘backstop’ plan to ensure there was no hard border in Ireland had to be resolved before any withdrawal agreement is signed off.  The UK has said it cannot accept a backstop that effectively keeps Northern Ireland alone in the EU customs union, erecting a trade frontier in the Irish Sea.  Mr Barnier said he had “no objection in principle” to a backstop being applied to the whole UK, but added: “We have doubts that it can be done without putting at risk the integrity of our customs union or commercial policy our regulatory policy."  Mr Raab was challenged over his claim this week that the UK may refuse to pay its £39 billion ‘divorce bill’ if a deal isn’t reached on future trade. In Brussels, he said: "We have been clear, as the EU is, that there is no deal until we do the whole deal.  The various different aspects - the Withdrawal Agreement, the protocol [on the Irish border] and the political declaration [on future relations] - come as a package as a whole.  We had a good and constructive conversation today about how we make sure in practice that there is that link between those two key areas, the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration on the future framework." But Mr Barnier insisted that the commitment on the financial settlement made by Mrs May last December was regarded by Europe as final.  He told Mr Raab: "It is quite right that there is agreement on nothing until we have agreement on everything.  But what is perfectly clear to the 27 EU member states and the European Parliament is that what has been agreed in December and March has been agreed for good."

13 Old Superstitions From the Highlands and Islands
From not combing your hair at night to cat claws laid in the foundations of houses, superstitions long underpinned everyday life in the Highlands and Islands as people sought safety from harm as well as a dose of good fortune.  Here were look at 13 superstitions, as recorded in the classic 19th Century text The Gaelic Otherworld, by John Gregorson Campbell.

1. The Right-Hand Turn
This was the most important of all the observances, according to Gregorson. It was believed all thing should be done in a left to right motion to correspond with the course of the sun. Screws would be turned only in this direction, coffins would be turned around the grave in this manner and boats turned to sea from left to right. Drams would also be served in this way. The Gaelic word for this custom is deiseal.

2. Getting up in the morning
It was considered unlucky to get out of bed on the left hand side. If someone had a bad day, or if something unfortunate happened, it was said ‘I did not rise on my right hand today’. Also, washing water was not usually shared. To do so would risk a quarrel between those who used it. According to Gregorson, the first person should spit in the water to prevent it being passed on.

3. Clothes
When a person put on a new suit, it was customary to wish him luck. It was considered unlucky, however, if a woman was the first to make the gesture.

4. Houses
It was customary to put a cat’s claw, a man’s nail and a cow’s hoof below the foundation of every house, Gregorson wrote. A piece of silver was placed under the door post. Those moving into the house, or onto the land, would burn some straw after arriving. This was called a possession wisp, or a sop seilbhe.

5. Baking
The last piece of meal remaining from baking a batch of oatmeal cakes was not be thrown away or put back in the tin. Instead it kneaded into a little bannock - called the bonnach fallaid - and given to a child of the house. Housewives placed particular importance on this practice as it was believed the baking came out well as a result.

6. Lucky cheese
When leaving the summer pastures on Lammas Day, August 1, to take cattle back to the strath, a small cheese of curds was made from that day’s milk for luck and goodwill.

7. Fire

No fire materials were shared by householders on the first day of every quarter of the year - New Year’s Day, St Bride’s Day, Beltane and Lammas.  It was believed that by doing so the health of the herd would be weakened. If fire materials were given, then a piece of burning peat was thrown into a tub of water to keep the visitor to the house from doing harm, Gregorson wrote.

8. Thunder

During a thunder storm, a poker and tongs would be placed in the fire to protect the house from danger.

9. Salt
“The stealer of salt and the stealer of seeds/two thieves that get no rest.”  A high value was generally placed on salt and if it was loaned out of the house, it had to be returned as quickly as possible.  Gregorson wrote that if the borrower died before returning the salt, his ghost will revisit the earth. Oatmeal taken out of the house in the evening was sprinkled with salt to prevent the fairies getting the benefit.

10. Combing hair
Hair was not combed at night and, if it was, every hair that came out was put in the fire. Gregorson also wrote that no sister should comb her hair at night if her brother was at sea.

11. Sea language
The sea was awash with superstition, and many fishing communities still retain a strong sense of custom and belief to protect them from harm and ensure safe passage on the water. Gregorson wrote of east coast fisherman venturing to Tiree who would not speak in their boat of a minister or a rat. Everywhere it was deemed unlucky among seafaring men to whistle in case it conjured a storm.

12. Big Porridge Day
In the Western Isles, a large dish of porridge made with butter and other good ingredients was tipped into the sea in the belief it would draw valuable seaweed ashore.  The Big Porridge Day was held in late Spring or on the Thursday before Easter. Then, it was known as Shore Thursday or Maundy Thursday. The ritual would be at its most effective if carried out on a stormy night.

13. The Saining Straw
A wisp of straw - or sop seile in Gaelic - was used to deposit drops of water that had come into contact with silver or gold, such as a wedding ring, around the house. The ritual was thought to protect the house and its occupants from the evil eye. In Spring, horses, harnesses and ploughs received a similar treatment before being sent out to the field. The Gaelic Otherworld, by John Gregorson Campbell has been republished by Birlinn Books.

Glencoe Visitors to Benefit From £1m Investment
The landscapes of Glencoe have both inspired and haunted for generations.  Now, a £1m investment in the visitor centre will insure those coming to the area will leave with a deeper understanding of the iconic glen.  National Trust for Scotland today announced the investment and said it wanted visitors to learn about the world-famous site in a more immersive way than the centre currently allows.  The centre, which attracts around 200,000 visitors a year, will close between September and December to allow improvements to take shape although the car park, a temporary cafe and toilets will remain.  Simon Skinner, Chief Executive at the National Trust for Scotland, said: “Glencoe is a perfect example of what we do. It’s an extraordinarily complex place where we welcome visitors from around the world, all coming for different reasons.  It’s one of the eight national nature reserves in our care and many are drawn by the landscape and nature. Others come to find out about the history of the place and the Glencoe Massacre which still has the power to evoke powerful emotions. Increasingly too, we’re seeing more visitors to Glencoe thanks to its starring role on small and big screens.  Our investment, which we do for the love of Scotland, will provide visitors with a much-improved experience at one of Scotland’s most significant national and natural treasures.”  The improvements will be made within the existing footprint of visitor centre, where people will be able to move through different themes of the glen.  The themes include Glencoe Through Time, which includes the story of the Glencoe Massacre, and Inspirational Glencoe. Here, visitors will learn how the landscape has inspired writers, composers and artists over time.  Tales of Glencoe will look at the myths and legends of the area while Origins of Glencoe will take visitors back 700 million years when the glen was formed. National Trust for Scotland is set to invest £60 million in the country’s built and natural heritage over the next five years.