Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 485

Issue # 485                                     Week ending Saturday 5 January 2019

So That Was Not A Great Year But We Could Start Munching A Lot of Lovely Cabbage in 2019 by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Let me be among the first to say bliadhna mhath ùr to you. That is Gaelic for how is your sore head?  No, I jest, I am merely wishing you a happy new year. It was a quiet one here. Nothing like being told I am on driving duties to ensure the sales of fizzy tablets and other hangover cures will not be boosted by me. Or maybe at my ripe old age, I have finally got the message that sipping the bevvy sentimentally and copiously at this time is a particularly unhealthy thing to do? Oh heck, I may as well give up altogether then and not touch a drop in 2019. What do you think? No, nor me.

A very old and very frugal lady who I met the week she turned 100 believed she had reached the ton because she rarely refused the offer of a wee dram. However, she never bought one herself because that would be just making it easy for Norman Lamont, the Chancellor at the time. She complained he would just raise taxes from ordinary people and then give tax breaks to millionaires. That seemed to be the one political issue she cared about and she admitted it help her justify “being very, very stingey”. I too will now take any offers of free drams but spend less this year. Definitely? That’s a definite maybe. Maybe I’ll drink tea.

Mind you, people are going right off tea. According to ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne, passengers now buy twice as many coffees as they do tea. It used to be the other way round 30 years ago. Coffee is more expensive - even if you have to buy a whole pot of tea. It’s about marketing. These fancy high-calorie coffees are being pushed with foreign-sounding names like cappuccino, latte, mocha. Tea, meanwhile, is flogged as Ty-phoo, Tetley and PG Tips. How exotic. We need to make tea sexy again. How about “tea will make you live to 100 or your money back”?

The big news in 2019 may be Brexit - it could be completely cancelled. Europe’s top law officer, advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, still says the UK can just change its mind anytime. At the weekend, Liam Fox said pretty much the same thing saying if MPs do not go for the much-criticised Theresa May deal the whole Brexit thing “would be 50-50”. He is only the international trade secretary, of course, so what would he know about anything?

Not as much as the fisherman who told me the other day that Brexit was going to be a disaster. He said fishermen got a rough deal from the EU but if he was not a fisherman he would never have supported it. He said that if we get Brexit, the UK will be on its knees in three years. His family take a different view though and they all want out of Europe as soon as possible because, they say, it has been robbing us blind for years. Me? I haven’t a scooby what to believe. I just wish Brexit would become easier to understand in 2019.

In science and medicine, some say we will see big changes in how many disorders are treated before they become acute. It could all be to do with bacteria in the gut which can be linked to weight, diabetes, depression and so on. Scientists seem to have made giant leaps recently and we may be persuaded to go for fermented foods like they have in healthier countries like South Korea and even Eastern Europe. So fermented cabbage - or kimchi as the Koreans call it - could be the way to go. I’ve tried it and after a while you will get to like it. Easier to eat than guga, for example.

On the telly, the best shows in 2018 included Bodyguard in August and September. Heck, it was powerfully made with great stars in Scots actor Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes, as the home secretary with the loose knicker elastic. An incredible 17.1 people watched it which made it the most watched UK drama on the BBC ever. It seems they are going to make another series. They are being a bit secretive but it has been confirmed Beeb bigwigs are talking about it. Ach, it has probably been filmed already and will pop in the autumn schedules. That’s what we pay our TV licence for.

Anyway, enjoy what is left of the holiday. Even if you and I are not on the Honours List, now is the right time to have a good time. My late uncle Donald always loved New Year because he liked the conviviality. If you don’t know what that means, it does not mean bevvy. Actually, it’s close enough. I remember him saying that the happiest and most special people were born in September. I was chuffed. September? Really? That’s me, I was born in September.  He nodded and said: “I know. If you're born in September, its pretty safe to assume your parents had a bliadhna mhath ùr.”

Remote Scots Village Clicks Into Place with DIY Broadband
Enterprising villagers in a remote west coast community have taken matters into their own hands to connect to the digital world.  Residents in Drimnin, on the coast between the Isle of Mull and Ardnamurchan, have been struggling to work in the area due to a broadband service they describe as “like something from the dark ages”.  Known by some as “the end of the road”, Drimnin is home to 57 properties at the end of 12 miles of single-track road from Lochaline, on the Morvern peninsula. It had not been included in any plans for the roll-out of broadband, so locals have had access only to an unreliable satellite connection more than 30 times slower than terrestrial systems. This meant activities such as online banking, watching TV on catch-up or installing computer updates were often impossible.  But after joining forces with a local fish farming company, the villagers have found a way to solve the problem – do it themselves. In collaboration with the newly formed Drimnin Broadband Community Group, they have overcome geographical challenges to deliver broadband via a complex system of wireless radio links and repeater masts. Scottish Sea Farms invested £55,000 towards getting the infrastructure in place, with additional grants of £12,500 from Morvern Community Trust and £10,000 from the National Lottery Fund. Tobermory Harbour Association has also provided support, while householders and businesses are sharing the cost of line rental.  Now the whole area is enjoying faster and more reliable internet. David Campbell, one of the group’s founding members, said: “Drimnin is the sort of community where we do lots of things for ourselves but this particular project has been hugely popular with everyone in the village. The whole community pulled together to make it happen.” Rhonda Newsham is manager of Drimnin Estate, a working farm that also offers holiday accommodation. She said: “We’ve gone from a situation where we had a monthly wi-fi allowance that guests very often used up within the first week, meaning we had to buy costly top-ups, to being able to advertise that we have unlimited free wi-fi.”  Annabel Thomas, founder of the Ncn’ean Distillery: “Since first opening our doors in 2017, we’ve struggled with even the most basic tasks such as taking card payments. Now we’re able to do online banking, video conferencing, screen sharing – all the latest advances that make running a business a whole lot easier.”

EU Visitors to Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Soar Ahead of Brexit in 2019

Sales of tickets for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay festival have soared in countries across the EU after organisers launched a charm offensive to celebrate Scotland’s relationship with the rest of Europe.  Organisers have reported the most significant surges in bookings for the celebrations from Spain, Germany and Italy. The news emerged as the main street party was declared a 60,000 sell-out more than 24 hours in advance.  They say the event will have significant echoes of the first Edinburgh International Festival, which was staged in the aftermath of the Second World War, to provide “a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”. The German band Meute has been asked to create a special soundtrack for the main fireworks display.  The three-day Hogmanay festival, which got under way with a spectacular fire parade through the historic heart of the Old Town, have been promoted with a “We Love You” strapline this year to coincide with the run-up to Brexit.  Thousands of torch-bearers formed an image of a love heart in the middle of a map of Scotland in Holyrood Park at the climax of the annual curtain-raiser, which brought tens of thousands of spectators on to the streets.  Official Hogmanay celebrations were first organised in Edinburgh 25 years ago following the success of a one-off programme of winter events staged in the city to coincide with its hosting of an EU summit in December 1992.  Underbelly, the current producers of the Hogmanay festival, have invited street performers, musicians and DJs from France, Germany and Spain to take part in events. All three countries, along with Italy and the Netherlands, have been targeted in online marketing campaigns.  Tickets have been sold to more than 80 countries, while organisers are also reporting record interest from international media arriving in Edinburgh to in cover the event. Underbelly – which says it wants to celebrate the city’s internationalism and its cultural links with Europe in the way the first Edinburgh International Festival did in 1947 – has commissioned six writers to create “love letters” to Europe for the event.  Images of their words will be projected on to six landmarks around the city, including the National Monument on Calton Hill, the Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile, and Leith’s former Customs House.  Underbelly director Charlie Wood said: “Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has always been a festival of celebration and a time when one looks back and forward. The city asks the world to come through its door to celebrate the end of one year and the start of another.  Regardless of what happens in 2019, Scotland and Britain will still be a full part of Europe, social, culturally and historically, but that is particularly the case in Edinburgh with the history of its festivals.  When a committee was formed in 1945 to set up the Edinburgh International Festival its intention was to create a new post-war identity as ‘the cultural resort of Europe.’  I think it is entirely right, as Britain may be just about to exit the EU, for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay to restate that and celebrate that we are still very much a social, creative and artistic focal point for Europe.  Hogmanay is playing its part in ensuring we honour a founding principle of the festivals. Our response is a cultural one, not a political one. It’s a statement which we hope will engage our audiences and the wider world to emphasise that whatever happens politically in 2019, Scotland will remain part of Europe culturally, socially and historically.  I can’t think of a better representation of our celebration than asking the German band Meute to compose the music for the midnight fireworks off Edinburgh Castle. It’s an echo of the Vienna Philarmonic performing in 1947 at the Edinburgh International Festival.  We’ve sold more tickets than ever before at this stage, we have more press and media accredited from around the world. The eyes of the world will be on Edinburgh. It’s a great opportunity to say it is still very much part of Europe and it wants to celebrate its links with Europe.”

Prince Charles and Nicola Sturgeon Attend Iolaire Centenary Commemorations

The Prince of Wales and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon have joined commemorations to mark 100 years since the HMY Iolaire disaster.  Only 82 of the 283 passengers on board the ship are believed to have survived when it smashed into rocks near Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis during the early hours of January 1, 1919.  The men had been returning home to Lewis, Harris and Berneray having survived the First World War.  Crowds gathered at the memorial site on Tuesday to mark a century since the disaster.  Prince Charles gave a reading at the service and met with descendants, while Ms Sturgeon also spoke with members of the public.  They both laid wreaths at a monument which overlooks the scene of the tragedy, as did representatives from emergency services and other organisations.  A note left by Charles read: “In special remembrance of your service and sacrifice.”  Ms Sturgeon said: “As we welcome in the new year, today in Stornoway we rightly look back 100 years and remember those lost on the Iolaire – a tragedy that involved so many, so close to shore and, for most of the men, so close to home.  We reflect on those who perished and how survivors, family, friends and the wider communities on Lewis, Harris and Berneray must have felt.  It may have been a century ago but the legacy of the Iolaire will never be forgotten.  I was honoured to be part of the commemorations and meet descendants.”  Every single village on the Isle of Lewis was affected by the disaster.  Psalms were sang in Gaelic and English during the ceremony, as was the national anthem.  Prayers and moments of silence also ran through the event.  A new sculpture to commemorate the Iolaire, adjacent to the memorial, was shown Prince Charles.  It features a bronze depiction of a coiled heaving line, referencing the acts of John Finlay Macleod who swam out with a rope to rescue 40 of the 79 men who were saved. One of the wreath-bearers, Lt Alison Ross of the Royal Navy, is his great-great niece through marriage.  The 29-year-old, of Great Bernera, said: “To do what he did at a time like that is pretty incredible.  I’m so glad I could be here with the Navy, but also with my great-aunt, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the community – it was really quite an honour.  It’s such as shame that people weren’t able to talk about it for decades afterwards.  So it’s really incredible now that 100 years later the whole community can come together”. Artists Will Maclean, Marian Leven and Arthur Watson also unveiled a work which bears the names of those lost and the communities they came from, as well as a bronze wreath composed of maritime insignia.  As events took place on land, a similar commemoration was held on board Caledonian MacBrayne’s MV Loch Seaforth ferry near where the Iolaire hit the rocks. More than 500 people were on board, including schoolchildren from the Western Isles who threw 201 red carnations into the sea.  The occasion ended with a diver taking a wreath to the site where the ship sank.

Young Turning Backs on Auld Lang Syne, Say Researchers

Younger listeners are unlikely to be seeing the New Year in to Auld Lang Syne, according to research from an online music service.  The next generation are more likely to let old anthems be forgotten, according to Deezer, which says its statistics show Auld Lang Syne is not a Hogmanay hit with younger listeners.  "We two have paddled in the stream" is the English translation of the opening line of Robert Burn's fourth verse, but online streaming data shows that the traditional ballad is losing popularity, with mainly older generations still listening.  The song, based on the Rabbie Burns poem, was the most-played track in the ten minutes between 11.55pm on New Year's Eve 2017 and 12.05am on January 1 this year, according to the streaming service.  However, the hymn to the passing of the old year may be a tradition that is lost on a new generation, with 18 to 25-year-old listeners making up only 5 per cent of those streaming on Hogmanay. More than half of all Auld Lang Syne streams are from listeners aged over 45.  Deezer editor Adam Read said: "This New Year's Eve, we're encouraging more young people to embrace the festive tradition of singing Auld Lang Syne." The song remains popular in Glasgow, the location of the most streams. This is followed by Farnham in Surrey, with Aberdeen, Barry and Great Yarmouth rounding off the top five. Burns first penned the poem in 1788, claiming to have collected the verse from a more ancient Scots folk song, and it was later put to a traditional folk melody.  Since then it has spread throughout the world as a New Year tradition.

MPs Should Come Back From Their Constituencies and Prepare for Coalition
by Iain Macwhirter
New Year. Now is the time when those stupid enough to do so, make their predictions for the coming year. Will Donald Trump be impeached? Will Russia invade Ukraine? Will there be a global economic recession? The answers to all of these is, I suspect, no. About the only thing we can say with reasonable certainty is that there will be another royal baby in 2019. But this New Year there's only one forecast that really matters: what will happen with Brexit? As in a war, Brexit will crowd everything off the political agenda in 2019. Like the Ides of March, Britain's fate must be sealed on Brexit day in only 13 weeks time.

Will May finally win parliamentary support for her Withdrawal Deal? Will she be ousted in a cabinet coup? Will there be a repeat referendum? Will Britain end up revoking Article 50? These are the options, broadly speaking. About the only thing that seems pretty certain to me is that there will be no General Election and no “No Deal” Brexit. I simply cannot see parliament or the country accepting the chaos, cost and potential suffering of crashing out of the European Union without any negotiated settlement.  True, planes wouldn't fall out of the skies and trade would continue, somehow, but the disruption would create enormous stress. There is a strong possibility of food shortages, and people with medical conditions would suffer needless anxiety over medicine supplies. The fact that the Government is preparing to put the army on the streets and ports testifies to the risk of civil disturbance. There would be a hard border in Northern Ireland overnight and a resumption of sectarian tensions. Small firms would go bust and big firms would leave. So, I am confident that MPs and ministers will prevent this happening, if necessary by removing Theresa May and forming the equivalent of a wartime coalition. Working back from that the most probable outcomes look like: Revoking Article 50 or May's Withdrawal Deal. And, it will be Labour, not Theresa May, the Tory Brexiters or the DUP, who decides which.

We begin both scenarios with Theresa May losing her “meaningful vote” in the week beginning January 14. May postponed the Commons vote on her Withdrawal Deal on 10th December – but she was only delaying the inevitable defeat. Her pre-Christmas negotiations with Brussels produced nothing of substance, merely a reaffirmation from the 27 that any Irish backstop would be temporary.  Brexiters hate the Withdrawal Deal, which they think chains Britain to the EU, and Jeremy Corbyn does too – and for rather similar reasons. He thinks the state aid rules would prevent a Labour government nationalising the utility companies, and also believes that a permanent backstop would give Britain “no say” on any future trade deals. May's Withdrawal Deal should therefore be defeated by around 50-100 votes.  Corbyn will then finally table that motion of no confidence in the government which he delayed in December. May will assuredly win that vote, because the last thing Tory MPs and the DUP want is general election, a Corbyn government and an even worse deal. May will now have won confidence votes from her own MPs and from the House of Commons. That will make her immovable – at least for the time being.  Armed with this she will return to Brussels and stage another televised spat with Jean-Claude Juncker. The 27 will probably have something else up their sleeves (they want Britain out as much as May does). Perhaps Michel Barnier will propose amending the Political Declaration to include a 12-month limit to the Irish backstop. This was dropped from the final draft of the December communique.

The 27 could also extend the transition period making a commitment that negotiations must be concluded by March 2022. This is already in the Political Declaration, but it could be built into a firm commitment and subject to independent arbitration. The Irish backstop would thus become a last resort and triggered only in the event of a total breakdown of time-limited trade negotiations. This will be the moment of truth for Labour, as Theresa May brings her amended deal back to the Commons in February. The hardline Brexiteers and the DUP will not be persuaded because the legally-binding Irish backstop will still be there in the Withdrawal Agreement. The future will be in Labour’s hands. Many pro-Europeans tell me that Corbyn will at this point “pivot” to a referendum, voting down the Withdrawal Deal a second time, and backing a cross-party amendment for a Peoples Vote.

But while he doesn't accept May's Withdrawal Deal, still less Norway Plus, nor does Corbyn favour remaining in the European Union. Before Christmas, he caused widespread dismay among pro-Europeans by confirming that, even if he were to win a general election, Labour would still be committed to Britain’s departure from the European Union.  The Labour leader's instinct will surely be to secure concessions from Theresa May on the future trade negotiations. A closer alignment with the single market and a permanent customs deal, is what he wants. To get her business through, she would surely end up agreeing. Deal done. Britain leaves as planned. Pro-European Labour MPs would rebel, but that would be unlikely to scupper the government's pro-Withdrawal majority.  Alternatively, if Jeremy Corbyn stands firm and pivots to a referendum, there will be unprecedented turmoil in parliament, not least over what the question should be. Theresa May will stand down and there will be a political vacuum. As the clock ticks down to Brexit day, a new parliamentary party could emerge: the Europe Party, uniting all the pro-Remain MPs, and dedicated to a second referendum. The choice for voters would be Revoking Article 50 or No Deal. May’s deal, it seems to me, would be a dead duck by this stage.

By Revoking Article 50 Britain would retain its opt-outs from the euro and its budget rebate and there would be no disruption of trade. It would be as if Brexit never happened. Brussels would happily delay Article 50 for a referendum. However, this referendum would be like an offer voters can’t refuse, because MPs in the “Remaniac Coalition” (as they’d be called in the press) would have to resign en masse if the country opted for No Deal.  It would be terrible campaign, exactly three years after the original referendum, with the far right raging about immigration. It would take years, decades for the bad will to subside. But faced with the prospect of a chaotic No Deal (and no stable government to implement it) I suspect voters would back Revoke. There is nothing undemocratic in having a final say. Parliament has failed to find a credible formula for leaving the EU. The only way to end this agony and confusion is for Britain to accept that Brexit is just too costly, too difficult, too unpredictable and too all-consuming. The message would be: For God's sake, let's just stop this madness and get our lives back.

Morecambe and Wise Comedy Copy is An Online Hit for Highland Firm
Back in the ’70s and ’80s, no seasonal television show was bigger than Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise’s Christmas specials.  Now Highland Copiers managing director Mike Rae and service manager Chris Rae – no relation – have scored a seasonal comedy hit of their own by recreating Eric and Ernie’s famous breakfast sketch. Voted the most iconic Morecambe and Wise routine by television viewers in 2012, it sees the comedy duo preparing breakfast in perfect time to instrumental tune The Stripper. “Although there is a team of seven here, Chris heads up the servicing side and I look after management and sales, so it’s already a bit like a double act,” Mike explained.  Chris for his part did not require much persuasion to take part.  “To give Mike his due, he comes up with some mad things, but he’s usually pretty bang on,” Chris said.  The video was shot at Hughes & Innes’s bathroom and kitchen showroom in the Longman by Inverness video specialist System2 and the public reaction has even surprised Mike and Chris. By Boxing Day the video, accessible via the company’s Facebook page, was well on the way to 20,000 views and had already resulted in one photocopier sale.  “Because it was so successful and we had so much fun doing it, we’ve already booked in next year’s Christmas issue,” Mike revealed.

Hogmanay Revellers Mark the Arrival of 2019 in Scotland’s Capital
People from around the world have welcomed in the new year at a colourful street party in the “home of Hogmanay”.  Around 75,000 party-goers gathered in the centre of Edinburgh, in the shadow of the city’s castle, to see in 2019 at the bells at one of the globe’s largest street parties.  The jubilant crowd counted down the 10 seconds to midnight before a fireworks display lit up the sky above the famous landmark, with the soundtrack provided by German band Meute.  A mass rendition of Auld Lang Syne then rang out around the city when the fireworks fell silent.  The events were the main focus of the street party which ran for several hours over December 31 and January 1. Organisers of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay planned this year’s events to celebrate the ties between Scotland and Europe as the UK prepares to leave the EU in 2019.  Bands, DJs, street performers, dancers and acrobats from Scotland and mainland Europe all performed at the open air event.  Revellers enjoyed music across three stages, with Scottish favourite Gerry Cinnamon appearing on the Waverley stage, Judge Jules and the Mac Twins leading the DJ stage in Castle Street, while Elephant Sessions took to the stage in South St David Street.  Meanwhile, Franz Ferdinand, supported by Metronomy and Free Love, headlined the Concert in the Gardens at the foot of Castle Rock, while some of the country’s top ceilidh bands played at Ceilidh under the Castle. First in the queue to see Franz Ferdinand were Jessica Cassino, 37, from Brooklyn, New York, and 28-year-old Alina Entelis, from Israel.  Ms Cassino said: “I love Franz Ferdinand. Edinburgh’s beautiful, I love it. I’ll be back next year.”  Ms Entelis, who is currently studying in London, said: “When I started looking at the Franz Ferdinand concert, I saw a bunch of other events going on.  I was participating in the Torchlight Procession on Sunday and I loved it.  I feel like Edinburgh is the best place to be on New Year’s Eve right now.  Everybody is jealous of me back home!  I’ve been here once before and I loved it and I was really looking forward to coming back.  I think it’s magical and I’ve recommended it to a bunch of my friends.” The crowd featured first time visitors, return visitors and those with family links to Scotland. The weather was windy but stayed dry as for the festivities. Elsewhere in Scotland, Inverness hosted Scotland’s biggest free Hogmanay event, while celebrations also took place in centres such as Aberdeen and Stirling.  The Scottish capital’s three-day festival of events to mark the start of 2019 opened on Sunday with the traditional torchlight procession, culminating in Holyrood Park where the outline of Scotland was lit up. A report out earlier this year found that the economic impact of Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations on the city was more than £39 million.  A study for organisers Underbelly noted that 165,994 people from 80 countries attended last year’s programme of events to welcome in the new year.  Scotland’s Europe Minister, Ben Macpherson, said: “Edinburgh is one of the world’s best known cities for bringing in the New Year. Few places celebrate quite like Scotland –  Scotland’s ties with our European and international friends and neighbours stretch back centuries, and this year’s celebrations reflect those ties of friendship, business, culture and commerce – strong ties that the Scottish Government and so many others are determined to see endure, whatever the New Year holds in terms of the Brexit process.”

Ullapool Kids Honoured for Sea Plastic Campaign

Primary and high school pupils in Ullapool have been recognised for their campaign work promoting and protecting marine life in the north-west Highlands.  The Ullapool Sea Savers (USS) was set up after being involved in a campaign to ban plastic straws from the Ross village last year.  Since forming in early 2018 they have been helping to highlight issues around marine life, and individual children have taken on roles as species ambassadors for a number of animals including flame shells, turtles, dolphins and sharks.  One of them, Poppy Lewis (12), has become an otter ambassador, and following their campaign to stop proposals to dredge kelp on the west coast and Hebrides, they have received an Otter Oscar from the Skye-based charity – International Otter Survival Fund. The Oscars are given to people and groups who have worked to help protect otters, and kelp plays an important role in otter life, providing food and habitat for the species.  The kids from USS were part of a west coast community campaign for #NoKelpDredge and they even travelled to Holyrood to submit their opposition.  Living Seas community officer Noel Hawkins who presented the award on behalf of IOSF and has worked with the USS kids said: “Seeing kids of this age not only interested in their marine life and environment but prepared to stand up for it and help protect and conserve it is inspiring. While many adults are still discussing climate change... kids around the world seem to embracing the issue doing their part to call on adults and politicians to do more to help protect what will be their future.”  The group has also made the final of the Scottish Rural Awards 2019 for conservation and the environment, in recognition of its work highlighting the need to reduce plastics.

Why Westminster Will Never Truly Represent the Will of the People
While the 2016 Brexit referendum was only advisory, not binding on the UK Westminster Parliament. However this puts legal correctness above practical politics, since in practice no Parliament can overrule the will of the voters expressed in a referendum that Brexit should happen. Hence the need for a second referendum to reverse this decision in principle and cancel the Article 50 request.  What the UK Westminster Parliament can decide is what form Brexit should take, which was not decided or even asked in the referendum. But here we run into the major defect of the UK Westminster Parliament. It is elected by first past the post, which almost certainly produces a government with only minority support from the voters (and on occasion not even the largest minority). This defect is compounded by the Westminster principles that this minority has the right to impose its will on the majority (if the government can at least win a confidence vote); and that the government need only consult its own party and can ignore the views of other parties, devolved parliaments, and voters. For Brexit, these defects have been compounded by a divided Conservative Party and a Prime Minister who seeks to impose a particular form of Brexit without consulting anyone if she can help it. So we have a Brexit treaty which Parliament would reject (if the PM allowed it to vote). Meanwhile, for the Official Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn has moved from wishing he could ignore Brexit altogether, to using it to bring about a General Election, which would be won by a party with only minority support.  Contrast the Scottish Parliament, with an electoral system specifically designed to prevent a single party having a majority of seats without a majority of the votes (though this failed in 2007.) The Scottish Government has to be either a coalition; or if a minority one-party government has to accept the need to consult on policies with other parties. If it tries to ignore Parliament, a parliamentary defeat will provide a sharp reminder of its place (as has happened to the SNP government). On the other hand, the Scottish Parliament has reached consensus (Tories excepted) on legislation to protect Scottish Brexit interests.

Culloden Piping Centre Plan Gets A Second Wind

New life is being breathed into plans to create the Highlands’s first dedicated piping centre. The family behind the project – Burgess, Fiona and Scott Hay – could be forgiven for feeling a bit deflated after an initial online crowdfunding appeal failed to meet its £45,000 target. But the Hays – who run Burgess Bagpipes – are rejuvenating efforts in time for this month’s Celtic Connections, one of the world’s premier folk music festivals held annually in Glasgow over three weeks.  Burgess Bagpipes hopes promoting its vision at the event, which kicks off on January 17, will give their fundraising campaign the boost it desperately needs.  “We are going to Celtic Connections and we are hoping that that will have an impact on what we are trying to do,” said Burgess Hay, who runs the company with his wife Fiona and son Scott. “We have a trade stand there every year at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, so we are going to be using that to promote the idea.  We are there every year for the full three weeks. We usually sell pipes and promote ourselves to all the professionals and the thousands of people who visit so we are hoping this year it can really give us a springboard to get the idea out there and kick-start the funding drive again.  A centre like this is something we think is long overdue in the Highlands and would be a good thing for the area.”  A suitable site for the centre has been identified at Culloden, and it had been hoped to start work on the first phase in the spring.  The aim is to transform the site into a bagpipe centre with a manufacturing and visitor experience including piping archive, museum, exhibition and shop.  The centre will also include tuition areas for pipers.  “We want everyone to be able to learn about the culture and history of the pipes,” Mr Hay said.  “It’s not just about tourism though. It’s a centre for everyone.” The True Sound of the Highlands appeal has so far raised £9068 – about 20 per cent of the funds it had been hoped could be raised to get the first stage of the operation up and running.  The online campaign also has a February 4 deadline.  “Regardless of what happens, the project will go on,” Mr Hay said. “We are still working towards an opening date in May. The £45,000 is for the initial stages of the operation, to get the manufacturing going and the shop and tuition areas up and running.”  The Hays – who transform blocks of African blackwood into high-quality instruments – thanked everyone for their backing so far. VisitScotland regional director Jo Robinson is among those in favour of the idea. The centre would provide exactly the kind of high quality, authentic experience outlined in the national tourism strategy which lays out Scotland’s collective ambition to be recognised as a destination of first choice,” she said.

Outlander Filming Locations That You Can Visit in Scotland

Series four of fantasy drama Outlander is coming to a close, but there’s never been a better time to visit the stunning Scottish locations that bring the story to life. There are plenty to choose from, whether you fancy a trip to Glasgow, Edinburgh, the Highlands or the Lowlands.
1. Loch Katrine
The peaceful rolling hills and forests around the loch the inspiration and setting for Sir Walter Scotts poem The Lady of the Lake featured heavily as the backdrop to several scenes from season two.
2. Deanston Distillery
One of the distillerys warehouses was used as the setting of a wine warehouse owned by Jamies cousin Jared at the docks in Le Havre.
3. Dysart Harbour
The little harbour just along from Kirkcaldy in Fife stood in for Le Havre where Claire and Jamie arrive to start a new life in France in season two.
4. Drummond Castle and Gardens
The Italian-style gardens provided a stunning backdrop for much of season two after the Frasers flee to the French court of Louis XV. Its located outside of Crieff.
5. Doune Castle
Doune Castle near Stirling doubles as the fictional Castle Leoch the home of Colum MacKenzie and his clan. It also has a cameo in the 20th-century episode when Claire and her husband visit it on a day trip.
6. Culross
Fans will recognise the Mercat Cross area as the fictional village of Cranesmuir, where Geillis lives. Behind the ochre-coloured Culross Palace is Claires herb garden at Castle Leoch.
7. Bakehouse Close
Renamed Carfax Close in Outlander season three, it is the setting of a pivotal scene where Jamie and Claire reunite after years of separation at Alexander Malcolms print shop.
8. Tweeddale Court
The hustle and bustle of the market where Claire was reunited with Fergus was filmed in Tweeddale Court. The entrance to this time capsule of a street is from the Royal Mile.
11. Craigmillar Castle
Scenes depicting Ardsmuir Prison, where Jamie is held as a Jacobite prisoner after the Battle of Culloden, were filmed here for season three.
12. Dunure Harbour
The little harbour in the village of Dunure in Ayrshire stands in for Ayr Harbour as Claire and Jamie leave Scotland in pursuit of Young Ian. Less than a mile away is Dunure Castle that featured as Silkie Island.
13. Drumlanrig Castle
The castle was used as Belhurst Manor the Duke of Sandringhams estate in season two. Here, Claire, Jamie and Murtagh have a final showdown with the Duke while Redcoats set up camp in the grounds.
14. Glasgow Cathedral
In season two, the cathedrals atmospheric crypt doubles up as the lHopital Des Anges in Paris where Claire volunteers her medical skills.
15. Glasgow University
The historic institute doubled for Harvard University where Frank, Claires husband, taught. Established in 1451, Glasgow University is the fourth-oldest university in the English- speaking world.
16. Kelvingrove Park
The beautiful Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow doubles for the Boston Park were Claire frequently takes walks.
17. The Devil's Pulpit
Situated a few miles southeast of Loch Lomond, Finnich Glen possesess a palpable mood. The beautiful location featured in season 1 of Outlander.
18. Highland Folk Museum
This remarkable model village featuring crofted houses was utilised as a filming location
19. Tibbermore Church
Located to the west of Perth, Tibbermore Church served as the setting of the notorious witch trials of season 1
20. Gosford House
The Pleasure Gardens of Gosford House were deemed ostentatious enough to serve as the grounds of the Palace of Versailles in season 2 and 3