Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 477

Issue # 477                                     Week ending Saturday 10th  November 2018

So You Think You Know for Sure Which Political Party is the Third Largest in the Country? By Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Now that the kiddies have their own TV channels to watch, the teatime slots once taken up by Magpie and Jackanory are now taken up by programmes testing people’s general knowledge with various degrees of difficulty. The Chase, Tipping Point, Pointless and Impossible. I blame Magnus Magnusson. He started all this by making people squirm to his booming music and his shock hooter telling contestants they were out of time. Unless, of course, he had started, so he finished. Now there is an audio countdown. Hey, I forgot Countdown, but it’s really a word and number game.

If you think you are good, try Eggheads with Jeremy Vine, doing his third stint of the day. He is also on Channel 5 in the mornings in what used to be called The Wright Stuff. Its a quiz show but the contestants are media pundits with a few doctors thrown in for good measure. He then finishes that at 11.15am and has 15 minutes to cycle to Broadcasting House to read out what is going to be on his midday to 2pm show on Radio 2. Then he goes for a cuppa and wonders if he can think up questions before the guests arrive. Broadcasters should have a union to complain about their workload. We should write to our MP.

The weather was so bad that I watched the gogglebox at the weekend. One quiz show had a political question which stumped me. What was it called again? It was just two letters. IQ? Was that it? Wait. Maybe it was XL. No, I don’t think so. I only thought of XL because I was ordering new underpants online recently and they did not have my size. Still, as they didn’t have XXL, if the XL tighty-whiteys bring tears to my eyes then they are going straight back to that shop they came from. Pants must just be a sideline. Their main activity must be hand-crafted furniture shop because I think they are called BigDrawers4U.com.

The political question? Oh yeah, nearly forgot. Sandi Toksvig asked which was the UK’s third-largest political party. Blank mushes all round until one of the panel said the SNP. That panellist was a man who shoulda ken that wun, former educashion minister and nearly-prime minister, Ed Balls. He suggested it was the Lib Dems and even chanced his arm at UKIP and the Green Party. Still wrong, Balls. The mystery party has 38 MPs, 17 peers and seven MSPs. It turned out that Ed Balls himself is actually a member of the third-largest party - it’s the Co-operative Party. How confusing is that. That is the name of the Yuletide staff festivities at the largest supermarket in Stornoway.

It turns out all Labour elected members are also Co-op Party members as it has been affiliated to Jeremy’s lot since 1927. This could be a good time for Co-op PolPar to come out of the shadows shouting its own message loud and clear. Which is what a couple of X Factor wannabes failed to do on Saturday. Did you hear that fiasco? Well, no one did, because the bouncing Scouser and the Tetley guy sounded garbled. Here’s the strange thing; it was pre-recorded the night before so Robbie Willliams could catch a plane to South America. How did they not notice at the time it was being recorded or at any time before it was broadcast? I can see why Agitated Anthony, the Scouser, is now claiming someone was plotting backstage to get him off.

One person who won’t be coming off is Dalton Harris. That kid from Jamaica is going to win. No question. His voice is phenomenal and the control with which he can sing high or sing low is something to behold. Dalton Harris is not actually from Harris but he is the Calum Kennedy of downtown Kingston. The next few weeks of X Factor are, in fact, merely a formality to fill the allocated airtime and give Simon the chance to call in favours from big stars to show their faces because viewing figures are poor. The format has just run its course. If I was a medical person I might say the patient is weakening and it may soon be too late for treatment.

Unlike Mrs X. Yes, my missus has been a bit short with me of late. My fault, I suppose, because I did break those cups, I did leave the telly on all night, I did walk round the house with mud-spattered shoes and I may have forgotten a few things on the shopping list so now she has to do it herself just to make sure we can feed ourselves. So I began to research why she might be so prickly with me. It just gave me a list of possible medical conditions that make sufferers grumpy. IBS is not nice and it seems to affect a lot of people at some time or another. Can there really be 15% of the population with yon Irritable Blone Syndrome?

Dundee Michelin Tyre Factory Closes with Loss of 850 Jobs
Michelin is to close its tyre factory in Dundee, with the loss of about 850 jobs, confirming that it would leave the city by 2020.  The company said the factory was "unsuitable" given current market conditions and it would not be financially viable to invest further.  Workers were informed of the decision during a short meeting at the plant at about 08:00 on Tuesday. They were sent home and told that production will resume on Thursday. Some employees said they were angry that they first learned about the decision to close the factory from the media.  The union Unite has said the closure would be a "hammer-blow" to the city.  Michelin said the Dundee site, which opened in 1971 and specialised in smaller tyres, has suffered because of a shift in the market towards low-cost products from Asia. The company praised its Dundee employees' dedication but said that, in spite of that and its own "continuous efforts" the plant could not be saved.  Scottish government Economy Secretary Derek Mackay will visit Dundee later while the UK Westminster government said it "stands ready" to do everything it can.  If you've needed new tyres recently, you probably found that they had to be ordered and trucked from a distant warehouse.  It used to be that you could go into a garage, you might get a choice of three manufacturers, and there and then, the mechanics could haul any of the three off a storage rail.  What used to take 20 minutes now takes days, and often a lot more money.  The change is partly down to the business practice of limiting stock to reduce costs, and having car parts delivered to order. But it has more to do with the growth in the range of tyres.  That seems to be the reason why Michelin has not only punctured hopes for continued employment at its Dundee manufacturing plant, but on Tuesday it is telling its 845 workers that it will have the whole operation up on bricks within two years.  It said its priority now was to provide support for the workers who faced being put out of work.  Michelin said enhanced redundancy packages would be available, with early retirement measures for those at the end of their career. In a statement it said: "In accordance with UK legislation, Michelin will begin a consultation process with employees, employee representatives and the trade union on the closure project, and on social support measures in the next two weeks."  Factory manager John Reid added: "I understand that these proposals will come as a huge blow to our employees and to the city of Dundee as a whole. It's also a very personal blow for me. I have been part of Michelin Dundee for 26 years and I am very proud of the hard work and dedication shown by the team here.  This factory has faced incredibly tough challenges before and we have come through thanks to the hard work and flexibility of our people and the union, and the backing of the Michelin Group. However, the market for the smaller tyres we make has changed dramatically and permanently, and the company has to address these structural changes."  Michelin is Dundee's largest industrial employer, and was boosted three years ago when the firm announced a £50m investment in new machinery.  Last year First Minister Nicola Sturgeon visited the factory as Scottish Enterprise confirmed it was investing £4.5m in the plant.  At the same time Michelin said it was committing £12m to a project which would help the site meet demand for larger tyres. In September the firm warned that jobs could be lost at the plant in the face of "extremely challenging trading conditions" but it did not raise the prospect of its closure. A UK Westminster government spokeswoman said: "This is a hugely difficult time for the Michelin workers and their families. We are in touch with the Scottish government and other local partners, and stands ready to do everything it can to help.  In particular we are reviewing how we invest the £150 million we are putting to the Tay Cities Deal, to make sure that the Deal can respond to this challenge." For the Scottish government, Mr Mackay said he would be in Dundee on Tuesday, where he hoped to meet representatives of the workforce, the city council and the management team.  He said: "My immediate priority is on trying to find a sustainable future for the site, that will protect jobs and I will leave no stone unturned.  I was informed at the end of last week of the possibility of closure and immediately sought discussions with the senior management team at Michelin.  I know the workforce and unions have gone to immense lengths to make the plant as competitive as possible to secure its future, and we will leave no stone unturned in trying to protect the future of the Dundee site."  The leader of Dundee City Council, John Alexander, said: "Michelin is part of the fabric of this city.  "I'll be working with colleagues and officials to clarify the situation and will work with whoever is necessary in the best interests of the entire workforce and their families. Dundee always rallies behind its own and we will again."

Scotland to Get AI Health Research Centre

Scotland is to get its own £15.8m artificial intelligence (AI) health research centre.  The Glasgow-based centre will look at how AI could improve patient diagnosis and treatment. It will bring together experts to explore using AI in the treatment of strokes and some cancers. It is hoped that using technology to process large amounts of data will allow the health service to operate more quickly and efficiently.  The centre will be known as the Industrial Centre for Artificial Intelligence Research in Digital Diagnostics (iCAIRD). The UK Westminster government announced £10m of funding, with a further £5m coming from partner companies.  It is predicted that iCAIRD will create new jobs centred around AI and digital technology in healthcare.  Prof David Harrison, principal investigator for the project, said: "Our aim is to transform digital diagnostic healthcare in Scotland, in order to benefit patients and make processes more streamlined and modern for the NHS."  Prof Dame Anna Dominiczak, vice principal at the University of Glasgow, said the setting up of iCAIRD was "a great coup for Scotland and its people, and further positions Scotland's ability to be a global leader in precision medicine".  She added: "iCAIRD epitomises our 'triple helix' approach to healthcare innovation and Precision Medicine by developing research and innovation concurrently in industry, the NHS and academia."  UK Research and Innovation chief executive, Prof Sir Mark Walport, said early diagnosis of illness "can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment and save lives".  He added: "The centre (will) bring together the teams that will develop artificial intelligence tools that can analyse medical images varying from x-rays to microscopic sections from tissue biopsies.  "Artificial intelligence has the potential to revolutionise the speed and accuracy of medical diagnosis."

Nuclear Archive Wins Scotland's Best Building Award

A national archive for the civil nuclear industry has won a top Scottish architecture prize. Nucleus in Wick has been constructed to hold more than 70 years' worth of information and up to 30 million digital records.  It has won the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for 2018. Nucleus, built at a cost of £21m, was chosen from a shortlist of a total of 12 designs. Among the other buildings in the running for the prize were Glasgow's Barmulloch Residents Centre, Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh and The Black Shed in Skye. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority had the facility constructed at a former RAF site. The archive was opened last year.  Many of the documents, photographs and technical drawings it will hold relate to Dounreay, an experimental nuclear power complex 30 miles (48km) away from Wick.  Papers, photographs and plans are also being sent for storage from nuclear sites at Harwell in Oxfordshire, Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia and Sellafield in Cumbria.  Nucleus will also store local archives dating back to the 16th Century. The awards ceremony was held at the new V&A Dundee.Fiona Hyslop, secretary for culture, tourism and external affairs, said: "Good design in our built environment is a key mechanism for supporting our economic success, taking forward our environmental objectives, contributing to our cultural continuity and promoting healthy lifestyles."

Sutherland Spaceport Project to Move to Next Stage

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) said it will "step up" its engagement with people who live close to the site of a proposed spaceport in Sutherland.  Land on the Melness Crofters Estate (MCE) has been identified as the potential location for the launching of rockets carrying micro satellites.  MCE is set to work with HIE on the project following a ballot of crofters.  However, the spaceport is opposed by a campaign group set up by some crofters and non-crofting residents. Protect The Mhoine has concerns about the spaceport having a negative impact on the environment and landscape, the exclusion zone's boundary and how consultation on the project has been handled.  Twenty seven of the votes cast in the MCE ballot were in favour of the estate working with HIE, and 18 were against. There was one spoiled ballot.  HIE said a planning application for the spaceport on the Moine peninsula could be submitted to Highland Council by the end of next year.  Roy Kirk, HIE's project director said: "The creation of a satellite launch centre in Scotland is a unique and exciting project.  "We are very grateful to the Melness crofters for agreeing to work with us as we progress plans to make our vision a reality in Sutherland.  We firmly believe that the spaceport will open up a host of new opportunities for businesses that want to become involved in the growing space sector.  As part of our next steps, we'll be stepping up our communications and making sure local people know what the spaceport is likely to mean for them."  He added: "It's understandable that people have concerns as well as hopes for such an innovative venture, and we will be making sure there are opportunities to meet and discuss all the issues, from jobs and other economic benefits, to safety and the environment." Dorothy Pritchard, chairwoman of MCE said: "MCE held a ballot that resulted in support for progressing discussions to reach a heads of terms. This simply means we are happy to continue discussions with HIE, work towards a conclusion on the heads of terms and ultimately the land lease.  The onus will be on HIE to demonstrate a sensitivity towards safety and the environment."  She said those who voted in favour could see many local advantages including potential jobs and opportunities for young people.  But she added that "like those opposed to the development" they wanted to see the project done in a way that minimised the impact on the environment and adequately addressed safety considerations. The spaceport project, called UKVL Sutherland, is being backed by the UK Space Agency. Companies Orbex and Lockheed Martin both plan initial launches in the early 2020s, if the spaceport goes ahead.  Chris Larmour, of Orbex, said: "We are one important step closer to having satellites launched from British soil. Protecting the environment is one of Orbex's primary concerns - and that is reflected throughout our operations and our rocket design." A spokesman for the UK Space Agency said: "We welcome the positive decision by the land owners on agreeing a future lease option with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which is developing the Sutherland spaceport.   Scotland is the best place in the UK to reach in-demand satellite orbits with vertically launched rockets.  The proposed spaceport in Sutherland could create 400 jobs across Scotland and contribute to further growth of the UK's world-leading space sector."  The site offers the chance to launch satellites into a particular orbit.  Under the proposals, satellites launched from Sutherland would fly from north to south.  As the Earth spins the satellites would be able to observe the entire planet over a period of four or five days. Organisations looking at crop patterns, pollution or the movement of ice have an interest in this type of satellite Earth observation.

Enough Uk Oil Reserves 'For At Least 20 Years of Production'

The UK has enough oil reserves to sustain production for the next 20 years and beyond, according to a new industry report.  The Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) has estimated overall remaining recoverable reserves and resources of up to 20 billion barrels.  However, it said significant investment was required in new field developments for untapped potential to be realised.  The OGA said further collaboration between companies was also needed.  The report describes the UK's petroleum reserves as remaining at a "significant" level. Gunther Newcombe, operations director at the OGA said: "OGA's current estimate of remaining recoverable hydrocarbon reserves and resources from UKCS's producing fields, undeveloped discoveries and mapped leads and prospects is in the range 10 to 20 billion boe (barrels of oil equivalent) plus."  The OGA highlighted extended field life factors included lower operating costs and higher oil price.  In September, official figures showed oil and gas production from Scottish waters had fallen by 1.7% after two consecutive years of growth. They show that 73.7 million tonnes of oil, gas and liquid gas were produced in 2017-18, compared with 75 million during the previous year.  However the value of the oil and gas grew by 18.2% to about £20bn, largely thanks to the rising oil price.

The Scot Who Began the Two-minute Silence
A two-minute silence on Armistice Day has been observed since the first anniversary of the end of World War One in 1919. But what is perhaps less well known is that the idea for the silent reflection came from a Scot who lived in South Africa during the conflict. Robert Rutherford Brydone was born in Edinburgh's New Town in 1862 and was a pupil at the city's George Watson's College.  According to research by writer and educator Joan Abrahams, Mr Brydone emigrated to South Africa when he was 22 and carved out a successful career in insurance.  During World War One, Mr Brydone, by then in his 50s, was a member of the town council in Cape Town.  Ms Abrahams' research says Mr Brydone was actively involved with the recruiting meetings in the city's Drill Hall.  At a meeting held early in 1915, it is reported a man in the audience said: "You will forget us as soon as we are gone."  Mr Brydone is said to have promised that the city would not forget its sons during their absence. As an outward sign, he arranged a monthly meeting to remember the soldiers fighting in Europe.  In early 1918, Mr Brydone and Cape Town mayor Sir Harry Hands decided to take the remembrance further.  The death of Sir Harry's eldest son in the war led them to consider new ways of marking soldiers' sacrifice.  Mr Brydone suggested the firing of the city's Noonday Gun could mark a "pause" in activity during which people could pray for the men fighting in the war.  According to Ms Abrahams, Mr Brydone and Sir Harry organised an area of the city where the traffic would be brought to a standstill for the duration of the pause and the first silence was observed at Cartwright's Corner in Adderley Street on 14 May 1918.  As soon as the city fell silent, a trumpeter on the balcony of the Fletcher and Cartwright's Building on the corner of Adderley and Darling Streets sounded the Last Post.  The Reveille was played at the end of the midday pause.  Articles in the newspapers described how trams, taxis and private vehicles stopped, pedestrians came to a halt and most men bared their heads.  The pause was originally three minutes but was reduced to two "in order to better retain its hold on the people".  It was repeated daily for the duration of the war and only ended in December, after the conclusion of the conflict.  The stated aim of the pause was silent remembrance, fulfilling a debt of honour to the fallen and demonstrating to those who survived that the sacrifice of the dead did not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  Another South African, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, is rightly credited as being the driving force behind the annual two-minute silence on Armistice Day.  He took the idea to King George V who introduced it on the first anniversary of the end of the war and it has been repeated around the world ever since.  However, Ms Abrahams says Sir Percy acknowledged that the idea came from Mr Brydone's Cape Town pause.  He said that other towns followed its example but "nothing was as dramatic as the Cape Town observation simply because of the midday gun".  In Cape Town there is a plaque entitled "commemoration of an honourable tradition".  It reads: "When the Noonday gun was fired from the Lion Battery, Signal Hill, on 14 May 1918, it brought Cape Town to a dead stop for a Two-Minute Silence.  One minute in 'Remembrance for those who died for their cause', one minute in 'gratitude' for survivors.  The idea was initiated by Mr RR Brydon and the mayor of Cape Town, Sir Harry Hands.  "Sir Percy Fitzpatrick submitted the suggestion to King George V.  The 'two-minute' silence has been observed internationally since 1919 on 11 November and Remembrance Sunday at 11h00."

Armistice Tributes Show Scottish Parliament At its Best
At times like this, said Richard Leonard, this Parliament is at its best. He was referring to Holyrood's tribute on the centenary of the Armistice which brought World War I to a weary, shell-shocked, limping, bloody halt.  I would not dissent in any way from Mr Leonard's comments. His own contribution was first class, thoughtful and empathetic. So too were the contributions from each of the other leaders.  They contrived, individually and collectively, to pay homage to those who died, those millions who died - while simultaneously excoriating the horror of futile conflict.  The balance between those two facets was different in each speech. But all five contributions featured that blend.  On Sunday, Remembrance Day, the names listed in the Scottish National War Memorial Roll of Honour will be projected onto the parliament building.  Alongside Scottish service personnel, the list includes nurses, munitions factory workers, Merchant Navy sailors and overseas combatants who fought in Scottish colours.  Set to music, the full tally of those who died in Great War service runs to 134,712 names. Projecting the Roll of Honour at Holyrood will take seven hours.  Today, that elongated visual tribute gained its accompaniment, its oratory. The speeches were thoughtful and elevated - but also iconoclastic, challenging.  Nicola Sturgeon opened in personal mode, recalling the War Memorial in Dreghorn, where she grew up. She told us, quietly, it stood on a hill overlooking her primary school.  There are, she said, a little more than fifty names on it, running from James Andrew to Andrew Wylie. Like the many other memorials across Scotland, a litany, a mnemonic of suffering and sacrifice.  The first minister stressed that it was "vital" to remember and honour those who gave their lives in service.  But it was right too to mark "the sheer scale of the suffering" involved, to underline that "peace cannot be taken for granted".  Alongside the formal ministerial tribute, there were other personal notes from the first minister, reflecting upon four years of commemoration, a century since the beginning and end of the war which was supposed to end all wars.   Ms Sturgeon said she would never forget the Beating the Retreat ceremony at the Arras battlefield site last year. Jackson Carlaw, for the Conservatives, delivered an excellent speech. He too paid tribute, heartfelt tribute, recalling the twin memorials in his old school, Glasgow Academy.  But, at length and in depth, he condemned the "futility" of so much of the conflict. Partly, he said, that resulted from "19th century military tactics facing 20th century technology."  He urged MSPs to deliver their tributes with honour and authenticity, while resolving "that this is not and will not be to glory in that war in its ambitions or its monstrous, indiscriminate slaughter". Then Richard Leonard, the Labour leader. He deftly moved from tribute and pathos to tragedy and persuasion. Recalling contemporary opposition to the conflict, he summoned up a future designed to heal division.  The balance from the next speaker was tipped more firmly in the direction of condemnation. But, wearing a white poppy, Patrick Harvie of the Greens stressed he was determined to "honour and remember those who lost their lives".  But Mr Harvie recalled, with summoned anger, the "mutual slaughter" in what he styled "an atrocity committed by the governments of both sides against the people of both sides."  Finally, Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats. He too skilfully blended both emotions, honour and horror. And he closed, fittingly, with words from Neil Munro's poem Lament for the Lads.

"Sweet be their sleep now wherever they're lying/
Far though they be from the hills of their home".

Michelin Blow Gives Us A Glimpse Into A Post-Brexit UK
by Iain Macwhirter
You could almost sense the collective shrug of resignation across Scotland at the news that the Michelin tyre plant in Dundee is to close in 2020 with the loss of 850 jobs. Did people even know that Dundee still made industrial products? It’s associated now with internet video games and the V&A museum. A prime tourist destination. Does it still want to be associated with smelly, environmentally-unsound car tyres?  Well, yes: it certainly should. There may be a glut in the global market for Michelin’s small car tyres, and diesel and petrol cars are being phased out. But we are not going to see the end of transportation, which is the basis of civilisation itself. Whatever you look at – electric, hydrogen, compressed air – the vehicles of the future are going to need tyres.  And increasingly they are likely to require small, high-quality tyres, with low rolling resistance, of the kind Michelin was supposed to specialise in making in Dundee. The current vogue for ever-larger cars, with bigger wheels, which we are told has killed demand for the plant’s tyres, cannot last. Heavy diesel SUVs will be so expensive to run in five or ten years’ time that no one in their right minds will buy them. It is anyway one of the daftest fashions of modern times.  But surely, making car tyres is a noxious chemical process that pollutes the environment and leaves a massive carbon footprint? Well, not in Dundee it doesn’t, where much of Michelin’s power comes from two wind turbines. Sixty-one million pounds – much of it public money – has been spent on making this plant one of the most advanced and least polluting on the planet. The more you look at the closure of Michelin Dundee, the less it seems to make sense. This is not some rust belt relic.  The Michelin plant used to provide secure employment for nearly 1,000 workers, and many more in the companies that depended on their wages. It contributed at least £45 million to the local economy – four times the best estimate of the V&A’s impact. These were secure, well-paid jobs, not disposable seasonal tourist work. You can well understand the anger of the workforce here, which has worked closely with the French firm since it came here in 1971.  Indeed, one of the reasons Michelin’s closure came as such as surprise is that it has been, in many ways, a model of modern, constructive industrial relations and rarely in the news – unlike plants like Timex, which closed after a bitter strike in 1993. The Michelin union leaders are talking about “betrayal” by the company, not least because the news was leaked to the press before the workforce got to hear of it, and before Christmas too. Why, they ask, has this happened only three years after the Dundee plant was reconfigured precisely so that it could make a larger range of bigger tyres?  Well, the biggest and most obvious change is Brexit. That has been the black swan event that no one in large-scale manufacturing in the UK considered a possibility until 2016. And only very recently has the prospect of a no-deal Brexit become a reality. This is a French firm, after all, and you might expect it to be worried about the prospect of 5.4m tyres having special export certificates and tariffs when they cross new borders to the European single market.  However, the company insists that its decision to close Dundee has nothing to do with Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. There is no particular reason to disbelieve it. Indeed, it might well have suited the pro-European French President, Emanuel Macron, to declare that Brexit is such a disaster on wheels that even tyre manufacturers are fleeing the UK.  So, we’re left with the firm’s main claim that cheap tyres from Asia are being dumped here, and making even modern car tyre manufacturing uneconomic. That has nothing directly to do with Brexit, but it does relate to it. It underlines the kind of economic environment into which Britain is headed, post-Brexit. Increasingly, workers in the UK will be competing with workers in developing countries where wages are often nugatory.  The “Global Britain” project is all about thrusting Britain into this low-cost, low-regulation market, a kind of Hong Kong of Europe, where we produce cheap goods to flood the EU. At least that’s the theory of the Tory Brexiters. A more likely scenario is cheap goods, like tyres, flooding into Britain destroying what is left of our manufacturing base. Britain may be a post-industrial economy, but that doesn’t mean that making things is unimportant. Brexit is isolating the UK from EU supply chains and hastening deindustrialisation.  Should the Scottish Government intervene? Well, its powers are extremely limited, not least by EU regulations on supporting loss-making industries. A lot of public money, around £11m, has already gone into the plant. It doesn’t seem plausible that it could be nationalised, because it is an integral part of a global company, the second-largest tyre manufacturer on the planet, and would lack the global retail networks to sell the tyres even if it could make them cheaply enough.  Some might suspect that Michelin had known all along that its plant was doomed and was just using what public money it could access to run the plant down while extracting what profits it could. But that would be ungenerous. Michelin has a reputation for being a relatively responsible company, and anyway it invested a great deal of its own cash in the Dundee plant. Unfortunately, it was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But these are not jobs that Britain can lose with equanimity. The intellectual capital being built in Dundee’s universities and the games sector GTA may provide twice as many jobs as Michelin, according to TIGA, which represents the digital publishing and video games industry. But these jobs can go as fast as they arrive. Scotland needs an industrial policy that doesn’t depend on the vagaries of the market. And the sudden collapse of the UK tyre industry is a signal reminder of what life would be like outside the European Union.

UK Westminster Government Lose Another Round in Legal Battle Over Brexit

A last ditch bid to halt Brexit will go ahead later this month after a UK Westminster Government appeal against the move was rejected by Scotland's top judges.  A cross-party group of politicians is seeking a ruling from Europe's highest court on whether parliament can revoke the UK's withdrawal from the EU.  They were given permission to take the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in a landmark ruling earlier this year, however the government tried to appeal against the decision.  Following a tense hearing at the Court of Session on Thursday, which saw the Advocate General for Scotland drafted in to represent the government, the application to appeal was thrown out by Scotland's most senior judge, the Lord President, Lord Carloway.  The case will now be heard at the CJEU later this month, although the government could still attempt a further appeal to the UK Supreme Court. Speaking outside court, SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, one of the politicians behind the action, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that the hearing before the Court of Justice will go ahead on the 27th November.  It's absolutely vital for MPs that they get the answer to this question. The UK Westminster Government want people to think the only choice is deal or no deal, but there is the possibility of a third choice - to reverse the madness of Brexit." If the ECJ rules that parliament can revoke Article 50 without the permission of the other 27 EU states, Brexit could, in theory, be stopped.  However, it would be up to parliament to make that decision, with many politicians reluctant to overturn the result of the referendum. Ms Cherry added that the case was simply about clarity over the legal position, saying: "We're not trying to usurp parliament, we just want an answer to the legal question of whether or not Article 50 can be revoked."  The legal battle is being led by Green MSP Andy Wightman, alongside his fellow Green MSP Ross Greer, Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler, David Martin, SNP MEP Alyn Smith, Scottish LibDem MP Christine Jardine, and Ms Cherry.  LibDem MP Tom Brake and Labour MP Chris Leslie are additional parties to the action.  The UK Westminster Government tried to argue that judges had made a mistake in allowing the case to proceed by rejecting claims that the case was purely "academic or hypothetical".  They also claimed that any decision in the case could "constitute a breach of parliamentary privilege".  In rejecting the appeal bid, Lord Carloway said the government's application was "largely a rehearsal of the points made" in the earlier hearing, which were rejected by the court.  However, it was the issue of timing which ultimately led to the application being refused.  Lord Carloway said that if permission to appeal were granted, there would be "little prospect" of a final decision in the case in advance of any parliamentary vote on the final Brexit deal.  He added that the UK Westminster Government could still go on to appeal any decision by the CJEU at a later date.  During the hearing, the Advocate General for Scotland, Lord Keen, argued that the issue was a "matter of high constitutional importance" which should be referred to the Supreme Court.  However, Aidan O'Neill QC, representing the politicians, said the government's bid made no "arguable point in law for appeal to the Supreme Court".  He added: "The Court of Justice should be allowed to get on with its job." Mr O'Neill also asked: "Why is the UK Westminster Government so keen on keeping the public, members of parliament, in ignorance of what the position in law is."  Lord Carloway responded: "That's a very interesting question but it's got nothing to with these proceedings." The advocate also raised the issue of expenses in the case, saying that the "procedural wrangling" was adding to his clients' costs.  "The Government has very deep pockets," he said. "It has access to taxpayers' money - we don't."

Engineers Use Drone to Connect Remote Highland Property to Broadband

Engineers have used a drone to fly broadband cable across a river for the first time to reach a remote property in a Highland glen.  The Openreach team used the innovative method to reach a home on the other side of a 50-metre wide stretch of river in Glenmazeran.  New armoured cable has been buried along 10km of single-track road through the glen to the right of the River Findhorn, where most of the 37 scattered homes included in the first phase of the project are located, but a different approach was needed for the property across the water.  Engineers completed a week’s training to become certified by the Civil Aviation Authority to fly the drone for commercial purposes, and then used it to fly the cable across the river, where it was connected to a telegraph pole.  Openreach plans to use drones as part of its “toolkit” to reach places in difficult terrain as the gadgets are more reliable than previous methods which have included attaching cables to golf balls and hitting them over, or throwing them attached to a hammer.  Kevin Drain, Openreach’s chief engineer for the north of Scotland, said: “Although Glenmazeran is only 20 miles from Inverness, the properties are very remote and scattered. We’ve had to contend with steep drops and bankings as we buried cable along the single-track road.  But the biggest challenge was reaching one remote home, 400 metres away from the main route, where the fibre cable needed to span a 50-metre wide stretch of river.  In the past we’ve tried all sorts of ways to do this - like attaching cables to fishing lines, golf balls and even hammers, which frankly proved hit and miss.  This is the first time we’ve used a drone to drop fibre into place here in Scotland and as a delivery method it’s unbeatable. Drones will now become part of our toolkit to reach places where the terrain means traditional engineering is difficult or impossible. We did need to practise our technique. It’s a bit different from connecting up a street in Inverness, that’s for sure!” The Glenmazeran project is co-funded by residents, community use money from local wind farm operator Eneco, and Openreach.  Residents are also helping to dig in the final lengths of cable which travel from the new fibre spine to their properties.  Work is ongoing to connect properties to Fibre-to-the-Premises technology (FTTP), with the network now live and around two-thirds of the 37 homes able to order a service. The rest are expected to follow later this month. The technology can deliver download speeds of up to one gigabit per second (1Gbps) - enough bandwidth to stream 200 HD Netflix movies simultaneously. Robert Thorburn, partnership director for Openreach in Scotland, said: “This may be one of the quirkier uses for a drone, but innovations like this means we can now deliver high-speed broadband in situations where traditionally it’s been impossible for any business or partnership to justify the work.”

Tories Are No Friend of Fishing, Says Isles MP As He Warns Not to Fall for ‘Tory Pretences’

The Tories are no fisherman’s friend, says Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, as he warns islanders not to fall for ‘Tory pretences’.  The latest pretence is an ‘assurance’ by Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell, that the UK will leave the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) by 2020 even if the Brexit transition period is extended.  Mr MacNeil said Mr Mundell is in no position to give any commitment on this given that the UK Government has no plan whatsoever for future fisheries management post Brexit.  The Tory Government are also continuing to fail the industry by refusing to assist with the ongoing crew shortage issue. Mr MacNeil said: “David Mundell cannot given any guarantee on leaving CFP as there is as yet no plans for anything post Brexit.  He and his colleagues seem oblivious to the fact that: It was the Tories who took the UK into the CFP;  It was the Tories who enabled the concentration of fishing quotas in the hands of the few;  It was the Tories who were adamant just a few months ago that we would have to leave CFP pre March 2019 before taking a u-turn to accept the principle of fishing in any transition.  It is the Tories who cannot give any guarantee that there will be no shellfish waiting at borders, that no shellfish will be wasted either in March 2019 or after December 2021, or that lorries will not be delayed on their weekly rotations.  There are too many Tory pretences on fishing despite ‘assurances’ being welcomed by Tory MSP Donald Cameron.  The chickens will be coming home to roost for the Tories very soon and Mr Cameron, despite his bluster, knows it well.”