Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 464

Issue # 464                                            Week ending Saturday 11th August 2018

Serco's Asylum Evictions Plan to Be Challenged in Court
Legal action to prevent asylum seekers being evicted from properties run by the Home Office contractor Serco is due to be lodged later.  The housing charity Shelter Scotland is filing papers at Glasgow Sheriff Court to prevent two tenants being issued with so-called lock-change orders.  Serco has plans to issue the eviction notices to 330 asylum seekers. However, it agreed to suspend the action until the issue had been clarified in the courts. The subject is also due to be raised in the Court of Session in Edinburgh after a case was lodged by Govan Law Centre, which is also trying to prevent the evictions by Serco. Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said the charity's legal team would present papers on Monday morning at Glasgow Sheriff Court along with a legal services agency who were acting for a third individual to prevent the lock changes.  He told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland radio programme "due process has to happen".  "You cannot simply give people short notice that they are about to be put, literally, out on the street," he said.  "What we are wanting to do is ensure that the court oversees this process and actually makes sure that people have had their full rights to appeal.  "This is a human rights issue and this is an issue which people across Glasgow, and across Scotland, have quite rightly shown their outrage at."  Earlier this month, Serco, which is contracted to provide housing while applications are considered by the Home Office, said it planned to evict those tenants who had exhausted the asylum process.  The company said it was no longer willing to provide free accommodation to "over-stayers" and would serve lock-change notices to no more than 10 people a week. Their position prompted widespread criticism from politicians and campaigners who have accused the company of putting profit before people.  Following a weekend of protests outside the Home Office building in Brand Street in Glasgow, Serco said it would halt the action.  A company statement said they would "pause all further lock-change notices to other asylum seekers who have received negative decisions whilst the law is being tested and clarified".

Independence Views 'Protected by Law'
An employment tribunal has ruled that equality law protects an employee's belief in Scottish independence.  It came at a preliminary hearing on Chris McEleny's case against his former employer, the Ministry of Defence.  Mr McEleny, an SNP councillor and former candidate for his party's deputy leadership, claims he was unfairly targeted because of his views. Judge Frances Eccles has agreed that his support for independence qualifies as a "philosophical belief".  The case will now proceed to a full hearing.  The claim by Mr McEleny, the SNP group leader on Inverclyde Council, concerns his treatment by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) when he announced he was running for the post of deputy leader in the party in 2016. He was employed as an electrician at the MoD munitions site in Beith, North Ayrshire. Mr McEleny said that around the time of the leadership hustings, he was told his security clearance had been revoked and that he was suspended.  He also said that he was interviewed by national security officials on issues that included his pro-independence views.  Claiming he had been unfairly targeted, Mr McEleny left his post.  Following the preliminary hearing, Frances Eccles said she was persuaded Mr McEleny's support for independence had "a sufficiently similar cogency to a religious belief... to qualify as a philosophical belief". Under the Equality Act 2010, it could therefore be relied upon as a "protected characteristic" for claiming discrimination.  The judgement said: "The claimant was clear in his evidence that he does not believe in Scottish independence because it will necessarily lead to improved economic and social conditions for people living in Scotland.  It is a fundamental belief in the right of Scotland to national sovereignty."  A lawyer acting for the MoD had argued that a political belief did not amount to a philosophical belief.  "It does not have a similar status or cogency to a religious belief," it was claimed.  The MoD had further argued that support for Scottish independence did not extend far enough beyond Scotland to warrant the status of a philosophical belief and would have "no substantial impact on the lives of citizens in, for example, Tanzania, Peru or India".  But Ms Eccles found that sovereignty and "self-determination" were "weighty and substantial aspects of human life" and that "how a country should be governed is sufficiently serious to amount to a philosophical belief". Speaking on behalf of Mr McEleny, lawyer Aamer Anwar said: "This legal precedent now enables my client to pursue a claim for direct discrimination alleging that he was discriminated against because of this belief.  But whilst this an unprecedented legal landmark, I am conscious that this case has taken up two years of Cllr McEleny's life, it really is time that the UK government launched an inquiry into the alleged treatment rather than forcing him to pursue them through the courts."  A spokesman for the MoD said: "It would be inappropriate to comment on the details of an ongoing employment tribunal."

Don't Let the Blind Men of Brexit Take Us Over the Cliff by Iain Macwhirter:
In the beginning there was just Brexit. Then we had Soft Brexit and Hard Brexit, and latterly No-Deal Brexit. Now comes a new variant: Blind Brexit. Brexiteers like Michael Gove have reportedly realised that there will be no agreement on Britain’s future trading relations with the EU before the Article 50 door closes next March. Fine with us, they say: at least we’ll be out of the European Union and to hell with the consequences.  In this summer of discontent, as Britain digs in for a Dad’s Army departure from the EU, complete with stockpiling food and martial law at the ports, it’s clear none of the options before parliament can prevail. The No-Dealers haven’t a clue; Theresa May’s White Paper is toast; the Labour opposition have abdicated responsibility. There’s no majority in parliament for another referendum.  Hence Blind Brexit. It’s different from No Deal in that it does involve a partial deal, that Britain will pay the £40 billion divorce bill, recognise the rights of EU citizens and accept an Irish backstop. There would also be a solemn and binding commitment to working for a “friction-free” trade agreement, which no-one would believe, but would park the issue until after Britain is clearly and finally out of the European Union.  Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, is thought to be open to this and willing to add agreements on security co-operation to any such deal in October. The Germans have denied that they favour Blind Brexit, but there does appear to be a softening of attitudes on the continent – or perhaps they’re just getting bored with the whole Brexit business.  Clearly, Theresa May’s “facilitated customs arrangement” is a non-starter. The EU can’t allow a country that isn’t a member of the customs union to collect duties. Britain could have a Canada-style free trade deal, a Norway-style EEA arrangement, which means remaining in the single market, or World Trade Rules, which (when negotiated) would mean tariffs and non-tariff barriers on goods going to the EU. Or none of the above, if you want to go the full Mogg.  May’s plan could, in theory, be adapted to become the European Economic Area – perhaps by having Britain rejoin the European Free Trade Area. EFTA was created by Britain in 1960, has its own court for settling disputes and would allow Britain to discretely join the EEA. In many ways, EFTA is the obvious solution, as even Tory Brexiteers like Daniel Hannan MEP argue. But this “Norway plus” model would never get past the Brexit headbangers of the Tory European Research Group of MPs. For their part, Brussels doesn’t want a crash-out/no-deal Brexit because it might lose the £40 billion that Britain owes to the EU budget. A Blind Brexit in October would at least secure the EU’s money and the future of EU citizens. Parking Britain’s future trade relationship could also work rather well for the 27. Businesses like Airbus are talking about moving production to the EU. Some financial organisations already have done so, including two of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment funds, confirming that money has no shame. But Blind Brexit would be a catastrophe for Britain. At least with No Deal there is the option of delaying the implementation of Article 50 at the last minute. The Brussels rules allow this – indeed, Britain could delay its departure indefinitely. As the former EU ambassador, John Kerr, has pointed out, freezing Article 50 would allow Britain to keep its current favourable deal with the EU.  If Article 50 just doesn’t happen, nothing does. We remain in the European Single Market and the Customs Union and there is no border issue in Ireland. More importantly, Britain doesn’t lose its hard-won opt-outs from EU Treaties, such as from the single currency, or its rebates from EU budget contributions. And, unlike the EEA option, Britain retains its say in the formation of single market policies. Moreover, the “power grab” of devolved responsibilities, that is threatening to undermine the Scottish Parliament, would also be halted. The EU Withdrawal Bill, which has sought to repeal the 1998 Scotland Act, would be stillborn.  The truth is that Britain already has a very good deal from the European Union negotiated over many years. It is obvious now that there’s no way of replicating that favourable trading status from outside the EU. The Brexiteers have failed to come up with any credible plan that doesn’t involve huge losses for British industry and taxpayers. Theresa May’s White Paper compromise keeps all the “bad” things about being in Europe – the European Court, payments to Brussels, rules and regulations – without Britain having any say in them.  It’s also becoming clear that there will be the mother of all recessions when Britain leaves the EU. This is because of shrinking trade, collapsing investment, food-price inflation and the departure of migrant workers. That’s why the Bank of England jacked up interest rates last week. Governor Mark Carney revealed that the bank has “stress tested” for unemployment doubling, house prices collapsing by 30 per cent, and interest rates tripling. He also pointed out that Britain has already lost two per cent of GDP because of Brexit. This is why the Michael Goves are giving the nod to Brussels that, if they just hold off decisions on our future trading arrangements, the UK will pay them the divorce money.  His Brexit supporters realise that the roof is about to fall in, but they hope that if they can just scrape over the March 29 deadline, then it won’t matter because Britain will be out of the EU with no prospect of getting back in. Why? Because it is inconceivable in future when (and it surely will be when) Britain tries to get back into the single market, that the EU will ever offer us a deal comparable to what we’ve just lost by leaving.  Blind Brexit is a real possibility, if only because Labour is reluctant to prevent it. Jeremy Corbyn is no great EU enthusiast anyway, and he probably hopes that, once the post-Brexit recession hits, the backlash will propel Labour into office. It very well might. But Labour would be inheriting an economy in a death spiral, with no prospect of rectifying matters in the short term.  The Hard Brexiteers have already factored a Tory defeat into their calculations. They know that May is doomed, and that this Conservative Government will fall sooner rather than later. But they believe a short, sharp spell of Corbynomics, against a background of chaotic post-Brexit economic recession, will allow the Tories to come roaring back in five years – or maybe 10 – with a hard right-wing leadership under Rees-Mogg or Boris Johnson.  This must not be allowed to happen. Britain must wake up from its Dad’s Army nostalgia. Labour, SNP, LibDems and Tory Remainers must get together and ensure that there’s no Article 50 until there’s a trade deal. Don’t let the Blind Men of Brexit take us blind-folded over the cliff.

Man Selling Donald Trump Toilet Paper Shifting ‘250 Sheets A Day’ At Edinburgh Festival
A businessman is literally ‘rolling in it’ after he took a break from his day job to sell loo roll printed with - Donald Trump’s face.  Tim Baker, 29, came up with the idea at Christmas, but really ‘cleaned up’ after taking the toilet paper to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival - where he is shifting 250 rolls a day.  He has sold 1,000 rolls in four days - averaging around 250 a day - to visitors of all ages, from all over the world. One roll sells for £3 or two for a fiver. Tim, who runs a marketing business, drove 370 miles from Bristol and sleeps in a van.  He says the venture has proved so lucrative that he expects to be on the property ladder by the end of year, all from flogging toilet rolls from a shopping trolley.  Tim, who is originally from New Zealand, said: “I hope to be on the property ladder by the end of the year, just from toilet rolls.   There are two designs, one of his puckering up his lips and one were he is making a speech to Republicans, dressed in a suit and red tie.  I’ve sold around 7,000 or 8,000 toilet rolls since Christmas.  I asked around and found someone who was printing toilet roll for a good price, and we came to an arrangement.  I had to find someone to be a courier for about a train carriage worth of toilet rolls.”  Tim went to London in July for the massive protest against the American president’s visit, and has also sold them on the streets of Cheltenham, Glos, and Bath, Somerset.  He said: “I’ve got a peddler’s permit so I’m constantly pushing a shopping trolley around.  I haven’t seen anyone else selling them - you can get them online for a fiver but mine are cheaper.  Little kids come up and buy them. I usually say ‘is your mother about?’ and they’re waiting and looking from afar.  Teenagers are buying them, Americans are buying them, Japanese tourists, French people and Germans, a few Australians.  It is very international. A lot of British people buy them as well, and Scottish people. He is universally unpopular which is why I’m selling Donald Trump toilet paper. I don’t think anyone else will be so unpopular in the history of mankind.”  Tim added: “I run a marketing company, but this is more profitable. I’ve got a manager who runs the other thing.  But he has experienced some hostility from American tourists at the annual event, which started on August 3 and ends on August 28. Tim said: “It is a comedy festival, that was part of my decision making process. I thought it would be a good crowd.”

The Hardships of Prehistoric Life on North Uist Revealed
The hardships of prehistoric life on North Uist have been revealed with islanders battling starvation, sand storms, rising tides and floods that drove them out of their homes around 5,000 years ago.  Newly published research from excavations at the Udal peninsula on North Uist tells of dramatic shifts in the environment during the late Neolithic period and early Bronze Age.  The tough environment had a “severe effect” on the health of those living on the Udal, said Beverley Ballin Smith, of GUARD Archaeology.  Analysis of teeth taken from the remains of two inhabitants indicate they suffered a lack of food as children and endured periods of starvation.  Shellfish such as whelks are likely to have been a staple of their diet. Archaeological remains of two round buildings dating to between 3000 and 2500 BC were also examined with artefacts indicating the butchering of animals, pottery making and the manufacture of quartz tools.  These buildings may have been the last surviving structures of a larger settlement that was covered by a thick layer of sand, like Skara Brae on Orkney, Ms Ballin Smith, who has been leading on the post excavation work, said.  She added: “The storm that brought the sand covered fields and grazing lands in addition to the village, from dunes to the west.  The effects were so severe that the buildings and the farming land had to be abandoned and people moved inland.”  New fields for grazing and agriculture were created once the sand had settled but these was also destroyed in time by another severe storm.  A thick stone and shingle beach was left in place of the farmland with the coastal landscape being dramatically transformed.  Sometime after the creation of the beach, a burial cairn was built, under which a young man was laid to rest in stone cist.  This large round mound of stone and turf was the largest man-made structure on the Udal peninsula. The monument lasted approximately 4000 years before coastal erosion led to its excavation. Ms Ballin Smith said: “Our Neolithic and Bronze Age ancestors lived through climate change events such as dramatic sea-level rise and increased storminess, and trauma such as loss of fields, crops and animals.  They had to relocate their settlement and houses to safer areas.” Further research will determine how those living on Udal survived the Bronze Age will be part of the research at the South Mound, the next site on the peninsula to be investigated. The Udal was the focus of many years of archaeological excavations by the late Iain Crawford. A new book will be published in honour of the vast body of work undertaken on the peninsula by Mr Crawford.  The book, which has been edited by Ms Ballin Smith, is the result of several years of post-excavation work on the smallest of the Udal sites, which was exposed by coastal erosion after an exceptional high tide in 1974.   While Iain Crawford completed the fieldwork by 1984, he could not complete the project to publication.  After a long illness he died in 2016 at the age of 88.  Ms Ballin Smith has spent the last few years analysing the archaeological material recovered from Mr Crawford’s excavations.  It is hoped the findings will help illuminate the archaeology of the Western Isles to a larger audience.  Malcolm Burr, Chief Executive of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar., said: “While the archaeology of the Western Isles is as rich, diverse and intriguing as that of the rest of Scotland, it is less well known.  Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and its partners are working hard to see this position change, and this new publication of the smallest of Iain Crawford’s excavations at the Udal site in North Uist, is part of this effort.  The excavations at the Udal recovered fragile evidence in the face of erosion by sea, storm and the ravages of time. The story told by these structures and artefacts, however, reflects the earliest centuries of communities’ life experiences on the Udal headland from some six thousand years ago, one of the longest and most fascinating time lines in the archaeology of Scotland. The two Neolithic houses and Bronze Age burial cairn bear testimony to the antiquity and importance of this site.” Dr Lisa Brown from Historic Environment Scotland said ‘It is great to see these results of the excavation of the Neolithic and Bronze Age remains now published, both as a book and free to download online. Using the most up to date scientific techniques, the author and contributors have been able to provide additional insight into how the earliest communities were living on this peninsular, and how they coped with the changes in the environment which affected their lives. We are pleased to have been able to support this work through our archaeology funding programme.’  This first major publication from the Udal project was launched at Sollas Community Hall in North Uist and was jointly funded by Historic Environment Scotland and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.  The new hardback book, Life on the Edge: The Neolithic and Bronze Age of Iain Crawford’s Udal, North Uist edited by Beverley Ballin Smith is available from Archaeopress Publishing Ltd, at for £25. A free version is also available to download from the same internet address.

Nicola Sturgeon Confirms Extension of Highlands Superfast Broadband Roll-out
Nicola Sturgeon has announced 25,000 additional homes and businesses in the Highlands and Islands will be able to access superfast broadband through the Digital Scotland roll-out. The First Minister today visited Tomintoul in Moray, the highest fibre-enabled village in the north of Scotland, to announce a second round of extended broadband coverage. The community, which is 1,132ft above sea level, was upgraded to fibre in 2016. Ms Sturgeon visited the Tomintoul Discovery Centre which is using the technology to bring local history to life through virtual reality and 360 degree video work.  The Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) project, led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered on the ground by engineers from Openreach, started roll-out in Buckie in Moray in 2014. Having met the contract’s target to deliver access to superfast to around 124,000 homes and businesses, it is now expected to deliver superfast access to almost 150,000 premises by next year.  The Scottish Government has committed to bringing superfast broadband access to all premises by 2021, and a procurement to deliver the Reaching 100% (R100) project is currently under way.  The First Minister said: “The £146 milion project has passed its original targets and is providing opportunities for businesses and communities across the region to transform the way they work. The Tomintoul Discovery Centre is just one of the businesses now benefitting from superfast broadband and is an example of how they’ve used it to enhance their visitors’ experience.  “We will build on this success and our Reaching 100% programme, backed by £600 million, will deliver superfast broadband access to every home and business in Scotland by the end of 2021 – the only part of the UK to do so.”  Doug Nisbet, TGDT chair said: “The centre is testament to our community and demonstrates what can be achieved when communities work together to a common vision. Our area hosts many innovative businesses at the forefront of their field and TGDT welcomes the announcement that more properties in the Highlands will benefit from superfast broadband. We look forward to the connection of all properties in our area to the fibre network.”  When it was launched, the Highlands and Islands plan was acknowledged as one of the most challenging broadband projects in Europe. The geography, the scattered nature of the population and lack of existing or planned fibre meant it was a huge engineering challenge.  The new fibre network stretches across every local authority area in the Highlands and Islands, from North Roe in Shetland to the heights of Tomintoul and to Southend in Kintyre.  The project is funded by the Scottish Government, the UK Government, HIE and private sector partner BT Group.  Charlotte Wright, Chief Executive of HIE, said: “The project has seen more than 1,200km of fibre cable laid to create a core network, including 20 subsea routes to reach our island communities, and there are more than 900 new fibre cabinets delivering services to local homes and businesses.  This infrastructure makes it easier for broadband and mobile operators to deliver and grow services, opening up the many social and economic benefits of good regional connectivity.”

Paraguay Visitors Learn From Iona Connection

With its isolated location a mile off the coast of Mull, any visitor to the Scottish island of Iona is likely to be a long way from home.  That is certainly true for Paty Cabral, a 24-year-old from the village of Santa Maria de Fe in rural Paraguay.  Cabral is one of a long line of volunteers whose trip to Iona has been made possible by the Santa Maria Education Fund – a UK-based charity that provides scholarships for third-level education as well as free English classes in Santa Maria.  The scheme was set up in 2004 by Margaret Hebblethwaite, founder of the Santa Maria Education Fund. A British journalist, she moved to Santa Maria in 2000 and founded the charity to help with the town’s unemployment and lack of access to tertiary education. Her efforts have forged an unexpected link between the rural South American locale and Iona, triggered by the decision to set up a hotel in Santa Maria.  Hebblethwaite needed the venue’s new manager, Rufino, to speak English to attract foreign tourists.  She got in touch with the Iona community, which had been running a long-standing volunteer programme since 1970, and they accepted Rufino.  Since then a total of 14 volunteers have made the trip from Santa Maria to Iona, staying on the island for around six months.  Rufino now works as a hotel manager in Ciudad del Este – the second-largest city in Paraguay. Three other former volunteers also work in hotels, with a further six teaching English.  Cabral, who has been on Iona since April, said: “I’ve learned a lot and my English has improved hugely. I’ve learned more here than in a year of classes at home.”  She spends her days working in the centre’s kitchens, learning to make bread, cookies and cakes to sell to tourists.  In return, she receives free accommodation and meals, as well as an allowance of pocket money for personal expenses.  For Daisy Rios, who now teaches English in a town near Santa Maria after visiting Iona in 2014, it was an experience she will never forget. “It’s helped me to get work and to stand out for my experiences abroad,” she said.  Good training for a professional environment was just one of the scheme’s benefits to volunteers, according to Kathy Galloway from the fund’s leadership team. “We want to break down barriers of background, age and language,” she said.

The Ancient Highland Shielings Inspiring 21st Century Living

They were simple huts lived in during the warmer months by families taking their cattle away up into the hills for summer grazing.  The shielings were mainly lived in by women and children who usually left for the hills on Beltane, May 1, the first day of summer.  Some would stay until Lammas Day on August 1, the start of harvest season.  Time at the shieling would allow cattle to feed on rich summer pastures while keeping the animals away from crops growing down in the straths.  The spell away was regarded as a particularly special time year with a rich tradition of song, poetry and stories forming around the time in the hills.  Now, the Shieling Project at Struy near Beauly, is working to get young people appreciating this old way of life and how its principles can be applied to good living in 21st Century.  Dr Sam Harrison, founder of the social enterprise, said the ways of the shieling helped young people get back to basics and offered an alternative to screen time and consumerism.  Peat cutting, looking after animals and cultivation of food are among activities offered at the project.  Dr Sam Harrison: “You can go from looking back to looking forward. The shielings are about outdoor life and it is about being resilient, tough and strong. It is about making buildings from local materials, growing and cooking your own food and entertaining yourself.  The shieling holds lots of different issues together.  The shieling tells us how to treat our landscapes, how to build things, how to build culture and identity and how language fits with the landscape.”  The use of shielings is thought to have dated from the end of the Iron Age with the Vikings adding their own versions of huts to the landscape. The earliest account of a shieling was made by Thomas Pennant in Voyage to the Hebrides published in 1776.  He wrote: “I landed on a bank covered with sheelins, the temporary habitations of some peasants who tend the herds of milch cows.  These formed a grotesque group; some were oblong, some conic, and so low that the entrance is forbidden without creeping through the opening, which has no other door than a faggot of birch twigs placed there occasionally; they are constructed of branches of trees covered with sods; the furniture a bed of heath; placed on a bank of sod, 2 blankets and a rug; some dairy vessels; and above, certain pendent shelves made of basket-work, to hold the cheese, the product of the summer. In one of the little conic huts I spied a little infant asleep.”  The diet at the shieling consisted largely of dairy, with cheese, curd and butter made from the cow’s milk. A ‘lucky cheese’ for children was also made from curd from milk collected on the last day at the shieling, according to accounts.  Diet was supplemented by oatmeal - with large amounts of salt also taken to the summer grazings - and supplemented by foraged plants such as chickweed, wild mustard, watercress, mugwort and wood sorrel.  Whisky still sites can be found in the vicinity of some shielings and may explain the occasional presence of corn-drying kilns for malting the barley, according to research.  Dr Harrison said shielings were largely phased out during the 1700s and 1800s when drovers sought out cattle to buy.  Demand for salt beef during the Napoleonic Wars helped bring subsistence living to an end with the exchange of money coming into play, Dr Harrison added.  However, it is known the shielings were still occupied in summer months on the Isle of Lewis until the 1950s.  Dr Harrison said: “Basically everyone packed up their stuff, including all their cows and animals, and headed to the shieling.  It was hard work but also, people loved being up there. They loved the freedom of it.”  Dr Harrison said the ecological value of the shieling should be valued as much as their social and cultural impact.   He added: “The shieling was an effective ecological model for 800 years or more. It was a pretty good system for the hills.  Cows are eating everything and their manure helps the soil. The hills go through two to three months of intensive grazing and then left for nine months. The hills were far more ecologically diverse than they are now with wildflowers, grasses and herbs.  The story of the shieling is not just about people but of the landscape too.”  Six modern sustainable bothies have recently been built at the Shieling Project, with hopes to restore an ancient shieling in Glen Strathfarrer around an hour’s walk away.  Dr Harrison said: “Up on the hill we actually have a historic shieling. We have got the real thing.  It really is a big area of green and you can still see the impact the people and the cows made. There are the ruins of around 27 structures here. They would have been really quite small structures built mostly out of turf. You can see the outline of each building and a doorway. Most of the shielings were part of quite big settlements, sometimes you would find as many as 50 huts. They are almost like little villages.  We have this idea of shielings being romantic, lonely places but they were usually pretty bustling. They were often hoaching with people.”  According to a paper by Professor Hugh Cheape of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI on the isle of Skye, the shieling system has survived into the present day in Norway, parts of Sweden and Finland and the highlands of Central Europe.

Theresa May Urges Nicola Sturgeon to Not ‘Sow Politics of Divison’

Theresa May challenged the Scottish Government to get behind her Brexit proposals, instead of trying to “sow the politics of division”.  The Prime Minister insisted all parts of the United Kingdom should support the Chequers deal, agreed by the cabinet on Britain’s departure from the European Union.  She spoke out after holding talks with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon - with the SNP leader saying afterwards the discussions had failed to ease her concerns that Britain could be forced to quit the EU without a formal agreement.  Liam Fox, the UK Government’s International Trade Secretary, recently put the chances of this happening as 60-40 - blaming European “intransigence” for the situation.  Ms Sturgeon said afterwards: “My concern about the increasing prospect of a no deal Brexit certainly wasn’t allayed in that meeting. We discussed obviously the position around the Chequers agreement. The Prime Minister’s position continues to be that she thinks Chequers is the basis of an agreement on the future relationship, notwithstanding that everybody else thinks that it’s not.”  Mrs May, however, insisted her government was “working to get a good deal for the whole of the United Kingdom,” in Brexit talks with Europe.  The Prime Minister stated: “We set out a clear proposal in the Chequers plan, that delivers on the Brexit vote, that does so while protecting jobs and livelihoods in the UK, that ensure we deliver on free movement in the future, the ending of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, but that we are able to do so while maintaining good trading relationships with the European Union, that’s important for all parts of the UK. “We’re now sitting down and discussing those proposals with the European Union and we’re negotiating as a United Kingdom.”  The Scottish Government has repeatedly called for the UK to remain in both the European single market and the customs union after leaving the EU. Tensions between the two administrations have also become more frayed after the Scottish Government refused to back the European Withdrawal Bill, instead passing its own Brexit contigency legislation - with the Supreme Court currently considering a Westminster challenge to this.  Mrs May was clear she wanted all parts of the UK to support the Chequers deal that her cabinet had agreed on.  “I think it is incumbent on all parts of the United Kingdom to be supporting the proposals that we’re putting forward in their interaction with Brussels,” she said.  “I think it important we see those proposals being supported, rather than sadly what I fear we see here which is an attempt to sow the politics of division.” The Prime Minister said: “I believe what we should be doing now is working and getting on with the job of delivering on the future of the United Kingdom, that’s about Brexit, it is about getting a good Brexit deal, it is about all the other issues like the industrial strategy, like the city deals.  What I want to see is the Scottish Government also putting forward their support for proposals we have put forward to the European Union that will deliver on the vote, but would also deliver for Scotland and the rest of the UK.”

Comment -R
Now, the Prime Minister insisted all parts of the United Kingdom should support England's Chequers deal, the deal which had no input at all from the devolved elected governments. The deal which was agreed by the Conservative government's cabinet with no representatives from the devolved Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales governments. Meaning England represents the devolved elected governments in the Brexit negotiations and she now insists that they support her England's Brexit deal.

Deal to Bring Scottish Wind Power to 550 Homes
An Aberdeenshire wind farm will supply more than 500 homes in south-west England with power under a new agreement confirmed today, further underlining the strength of Scotland’s renewable energy sector.  Sustainable energy firm Thrive Renewables and gas and electricity supplier Bristol Energy have struck a supply deal for 0.8 megawatts of wind power from an onshore site near Strichen, enough energy to power around 550 homes.  The supplier purchased the renewable electricity produced by Thrive’s Clayfords wind farm for 12 months starting from September this year, in a deal completed via online auction site E-power. Scottish Government figures show wind power is the largest single sector in Scotland’s renewable energy economy and experts have already tipped that 2018 will be another bumper year of wind generation for Scotland, after a record-breaking first quarter. In the first three months of the year, onshore wind turbines in Scotland generated enough power to run the equivalent of five million homes, a 44 per cent increase from the same period in 2017.

'Clear Evidence' of Bronze Age Activity on Staffa
Archaeologists say they have found the "first clear evidence" of Bronze Age activity on Staffa, off Mull, in the Inner Hebrides.  A fragment of decorated prehistoric pottery was found on the island, known for its unusual geology, including Fingal's Cave, in 2016.  Last week, a larger trench was excavated.  It revealed the western side of a structure defined by a series of ditches and pits.  A burnt grain of hulled barley found in 2016 was radiocarbon dated to 1880-1700 BC.  This along, with the other finds such as more pieces of pottery, have led archaeologists to suggest that people were visiting, and probably living, on Staffa in the Middle Bronze Age.  The Historic Archaeology Research Project, Staffa, a partnership involving a number of organisations including the National Trust for Scotland, The Glasgow School of Art SimVis and universities of Glasgow and Stirling, has been leading the study. Derek Alexander, the National Trust for Scotland's head of archaeological services said: "This is our fifth season out at the island to investigate its past.  Each time we go there we add another little piece of the jigsaw.  It seems likely that people in the past were just as curious about their surroundings as we are. We can only imagine what Bronze Age people may have thought of the geological marvel that is Fingal's Cave."

Highland Games Cancelled Due to Heatwave As Farmer Can’t Harvest Hay
They are the highlight of the social calendar for many communities across Scotland, showcasing sporting prowess, traditional dancing, piping, tug o’ war and good- natured banter about ancient clan rivalries.  But now the heatwave sweeping the UK has led to the first cancellation of a Highland games because the farmer whose land it is due to be held on cannot harvest his hay.  The 2018 Invercharron Highland Games, near Bonar Bridge in Sutherland, which attracts thousand of visitors worldwide every year, was due to be held on 15 September, but farmer Peter Campbell very reluctantly made the decision on Sunday night that he could no longer offer his field and had to give priority to winter feed for his animals. The game’s website posted a notice saying “It is with severe regret that the Invercharron Highland Games has had to be cancelled this year. The farmer, whose field we use, grows his winter feed hay crop in the field and because of the exceptionally dry weather we have had, the crops are growing too slowly and as a result he will not be able to harvest before the games and the feed is urgently needed.”  With Invercharron being the final games of the year many of the Scottish Highland Games Association league results are determined there, making the events a cliffhanger for many competitors and spectators.  It is also located on the North Coast 500 route, meaning it brings much-needed business for local businesses such as hotels and bed and breakfasts.  Sally Macintosh, secretary of Invercharron Highland Games, said; “It has been a really difficult decision for the landowner who has helped us for over 20 years. But his crops are only around 60 per cent of where they should be and it’s either he feeds his animals or gives us the field. We are disappointed, but life gets in the way. The hot weather has been enjoyable for many but it has been quite traumatic for farmers. It’s no-one’s fault.”

Edinburgh Book Festival Chief Hits Out At Visa Issues Facing International Writers

The director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival has hit out at the “humiliating” treatment of international writers in the wake of growing problems securing visas for some of them to appear at the event.  Nick Barley revealed there had been serious doubts over the planned appearances of as many as a dozen authors due to tighter immigration rules. It has emerged that MPs, MSPs, the British Council and British embassy officials around the world have been brought in to help ensure the programme could go ahead, although some writers are still awaiting final approval.  Mr Barley said that some international authors have faced demands to produce birth certificates, marriage certificates, bank statements and even undergo biometric tests.  And he predicted the festival is only likely to face further problems in future due to the likely impact of Brexit. Mr Barley said he would be willing to help lead a taskforce of cultural organisations, including Edinburgh’s festivals, to persuade the UK Westminster government to introduce a “streamlined and simple” system for established artists invited to appear at events.  He said: “This an issue which is much wider than Brexit and is happening regardless of Brexit. Beyond Europe we’ve seen a significant increase in difficulties in securing visas for international authors.  The immigration laws that have been passed recently are making it much more difficult this year.”