Some scottish News & Views Issue # 487

Issue # 487                                          Week ending Saturday 19 January 2019

The Nation Waits to See Whether Peterhead’s Nathan Has the Guts to Go Back to Gut Fish
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

The BBC are back in the north east to make another TV series about fishermen. The last one was about 10 years ago and it was called Trawlermen. Why is the BBC going back to sea with these guys fae the Bloo Toon when we cannae undstond a flippin’ word that cams oot their mooths, like? Seriously, the only way I could follow Skipper Jimmy Buchan on Trawlermen was by putting on the subtitles. Even that technology could not keep up with him sometimes. Now look what they’ve done witth this new series on Monday nights called Fish Town. They have another skipper, this time John Buchan, up in the hi-tech driving seat of the deep-sea haddock-catcher, the Ocean Endeavour.

You know what, I heard him fine. I could undstond, sorry, understand him. Subtitles not required. Sorry Jimmy, no offence, but some north-east people are difficult to follow for heather-stuffed Hebridean ears. I am sure our Gaelic lilts are the same for you. Not only could I make out what John Buchan was on about but also rookie fisher and former fish frier Nathan Foreman, who was on his first trip and who seemed to be struggling with his new role. No criticism here, mate. I couldn’t do it - either now or when I was also 18. As Skipper John took her in to the west coast, probably Kinlochbervie or Lochinver, after sad family news cut the trip short, he also had his doots whether the lad would be back for another trip to Rockall. We’ll find out next week.

I like the fact this series is not set about the yakkety-yak radio chat in the wheelhouses. That lost me. Monday night’s programme also featured trainee fish buyer Jason Jack who, at just 24, has a budget of £50,000 every morning to buy something to go with the chips and mushy peas of diners throughout Europe. Noo, that’s a lot of haddies, ken. His old man was there to keep him right, of course. Just as veteran Skipper John Clarke on the trawler Reliance II was also there to keep son David, 24, right when he thinks he knows the ropes or even how to make the best scoff. Sensible lad, even though he did take time off to see Beyonce with his girlfriend, I reckon David will make the grade soon.

You know, I think Auntie Beeb may actually have another hit on its hands with Fish Town. That’s because it is about real people. It was a bit emotional at times and does not even attempt to glamourise the tough and often-forgotten work that these fishers of men do week in, week out, to put food on our table. It’s a tough old game. Then when they get through the heartaches, the separations from families, the inevitable poor catches, the hurricane force winds, and cooking like David’s, they are then raided - by our own government. How will the trawler Rosenbloom fare when the fishery protection squad board her? I can’t wait until 7.30pm on Monday for the second episode. There’s six of them.

When Nathan said the trip was brutal, you could not help but sympathise with the lad. I think he said he had been on a scallop boat before, going a few miles out, but you got the impression the biggest waves he had seen were when he washed the chip shop floor with his mop and bucket. Going to Rockall took a whole day and when they got there Storm Hector blasted up to Force 11. Yuck. We didn’t see him or any of the crew hanging over the side saying goodbye to their breakfasts but maybe that was edited out. If that didn’t happen, they’ve probably got a job for life if they want it.

Which is more than can be said of most of our leading politicians in Scotland and in the UK. What is going on? The Prime Minister seems to be running out of crises she can withstand. The First Minister is facing an inquiry and may also be on her last legs, depending on who you listen to. Things keep happening so fast. By the time you read this, it could have all changed again and everything could be hunky dory for both of them. Nah, I don’t think so either.

Watching Fish Town reminded me that fish is my favourite food and I will generally have it for at least one course when we are out. But it has to be very fresh. Some of us used to go to a London fish restaurant when I was based in those parts. It was expensive though so we could not go too often. This time we went and the waiter greeted us with a cheery: “Welcome. Long time no see.” I ordered my usual flakey seabass with caper dressing and all the trimmings but, when it came, it just wasn’t right. I complained and said it didn’t smell as fresh as last time. The waiter replied: “As I said, long time no sea.”

Inmates Packed in Like Sardines At Crowded Prisons, Lib Dems Warn
The majority of Scotland’s prisons were at or beyond their maximum capacity last month, figures show.  Glasgow’s Barlinnie jail was operating at 139% capacity in December and Inverness at 137%.  Other sites at or exceeding their prisoner limit were Addiewell, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Glenochil, Kilmarnock, Perth and Shotts.  The figures were revealed following a parliamentary question from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, whose justice spokesman Liam McArthur warned inmates are being “packed into prisons like sardines”.At the start of 2018, five prisons were at or beyond their capacity, rising to nine out of 15 by the end of the year.  Those operating within their capacity last month were Cornton Vale, Grampian, Greenock, Low Moss, Polmont and Castle Huntly.  Mr McArthur said: “These new figures show that our prisons are bursting at the seams with the majority now full or overcrowded. People are being packed in like sardines.  Those working in prisons have warned that the population surge is putting services at risk and jeopardising progress. Prison capacities are set for a reason. Staff need to work in a safe environment. Overcrowding makes it harder for them to work with individuals and help rehabilitate them.”  The Lib Dems said evidence shows short-term sentences are less effective at rehabilitating people than “robust” community-based sentences, which would reduce the pressure on jails. Mr McArthur said: “That is why the Scottish Government now must get on and introduce a presumption against short-term sentences of less than 12 months. Ministers need to urgently ease the pressure on our prison system and change the way we deal with less serious offenders to make our communities safer.”  A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland has the highest rate of incarceration per 100,000 of population of any Western European country, which is why we are focussed on action to stop people going to prison in the first place. Our approach to reducing reoffending has seen reoffending rates drop to a 19-year low, and we are committed this year to extending the presumption against short prison sentences in favour of more effective community penalties.”

Grateful Dad Raises £4k for Raigmore Hospital Play Project
A Black Isle father has joined forces with his employer to donate £4550 towards the creation of an all-weather outdoor play area for young patients at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. Insurance broker Gareth Vaughan and his partner Ruth Stormont, of Fortrose, have spent much time in the hospital’s Highland Children’s Unit since the birth of their second child, Carys.  Now aged 18 months, she was born 10 weeks prematurely, weighing just 2lb 4oz and with amniotic band syndrome resulting in one of her feet being amputated at birth.  She also developed holes in her heart and feeding problems requiring her to be tube fed. Consequently, much of her young life has included periods in Raigmore as well as the Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow. Mr Vaughan (35) said the outside play area at Raigmore had helped the family – including son Ben, then aged two – to be together.  “A hospital ward isn’t a place for a two-year-old and it wasn’t very practical,” he said.  “We didn’t want him bringing in bugs from outside – or having the chance of him catching anything.  That’s why the play area is invaluable.”  But having noticed it was exposed, he got behind the Archie Foundation’s Fresh Air appeal to help develop a year-round space.  He raised £350 by holding a bake sale at Towergate Insurance in Inverness, part of the Ardonagh Group whose charitable arm, the Ardonagh Community Trust, added match funding of £200 plus a £4000 grant.  When I heard about the Archie Foundation Fresh Air project which will help children play outside in all weather, I wanted to give something back for the help they gave us,” he said.  Christina Brockman-More, Archie foundation fundraising manager said it would go a long way in helping the appeal to reach its £100,000 target.  This is an incredible donation to receive and we can’t thank Gareth and the Ardonagh Community Trust enough.”

Claims Scottish Health Service Received £55 Million Less Than UK Westminster Government Promised
The Westminster Government has "picked the pocket of the health service" in Scotland, with funding claimed to be £55 million lower than promised.  A "disappointed" Jeane Freeman told MSPs the UK's budget allocation of the Barnett formula for health for 2019-20 fell short of what she was told Scotland would get.  The Health Secretary said the Scottish Government has made up this shortfall, putting further strain on other parts of the budget. Ms Freeman said: "The Scottish Government has passed on resource consequentials in full and provided an additional £55 million. This reinstates the UK Westminster Government's reduction and protects resources for our frontline services."  The Cabinet Secretary agreed with a comment from George Adam MSP, who said: "It's almost as if Westminster has picked the pocket of the health service to the tune of £55 million."  He stressed if the shortfall had not been made up "we would have had more difficult decisions to make than we currently have".     Ms Freeman said: "The other side of that, having made good that shortfall from the overall Scottish budget in a situation where the Scottish Government's budget is significantly reduced, then that puts pressure elsewhere. The money has to come from somewhere. It should have come from the UK Westminster Government because that was the commitment they made. They didn't honour that commitment."  The total spending on health and sport for the next year is forecast to be in excess of £14 billion, she said to MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee, which "includes a further shift on the balance of spend towards mental health and to social and community care".  Ms Freeman also told the committee the Scottish Government was using £392 million to help reduce waiting times.  She said: "This will support our Waiting Times Improvement Plan and will lead to sustainable improvements to performance, including the aim that by 2021 95% of outpatients and 100% of inpatients will wait less than 12 weeks to be treated."  This year will also be the first when Scottish health boards will be able to spend more or less than their budget so long as they are balanced in three years.  Explaining the changes, Ms Freeman said: "In return for their efforts in delivering the reforms set out in the delivery plan and the financial framework, boards will be required to deliver a break-even position over a three-year period, rather than annually, as is the case currently.  In every year, boards will have 1% flexibility on their annual resource budget to allow them the scope to marginally underspend or overspend in that year." She added: "The spending plans are supported by greater flexibility to assist boards in planning beyond one year and to consider key areas of investment such as in relation to primary care, mental health and waiting times improvements."

Sir Chris' Top Peak is Suilven
He has conquered Everest and is considered Britain's greatest living mountaineer. But climbing luminary Sir Chris Bonington has told top travel guide Wanderlust that Suilven in north-west Sutherland is the mountain that most shaped his life.  Sir Chris's career has included 19 expeditions to the Himalayas, including four to the world's highest mountain, and the first ascent of the south face of Annapurna.  The mountain was immortalised last year in the film Edie, in which Sheila Hancock stars as an octogenarian who makes a life-changing decision to climb its steep, remote slopes.  Sir Chris (84) said: "Suilven is a long whale-back of a mountain, but when you approach it from the west you just see the end of it – an absolutely perfect peak, with a great sandstone buttress.  I first climbed Suilven when I was 17 and it is one of the most magical days I have ever had.  It was my second holiday in Scotland, just after I had discovered climbing, and I went up with a friend. We carried our rucksacks, hitch-hiked, and bivvied most of the time. I remember sleeping in the ruins of Ardvreck Castle – it was the only thing with a roof on it for miles – before we set off from Lochinver to climb Suilven.  We tried following a route which wasn't very good, so we ended up climbing a new route.  The views from the top of Suilven were incredible. To the south there was a big, wide loch, dotted with islands.  That day captured everything that I love about climbing and inspired me to keep doing it – the sense of exploration, the beauty of the mountains themselves, as well as the experience of really stretching yourself in the process."  Second on his list was the North Face of the Eiger, ahead of the Central Tower of Paine, Chile.  The Old Man of Hoy, Orkney's 449ft sea-stack, was placed fourth on his list. Sir Chris made the first ascent of the Old Man of Hoy in 1966 and climbed it again in 2014. I was the first person to climb the Old Man of Hoy and the oldest when I climbed it again when I was 80," Sir Chris said.

What is Hogmanay?
An annual event that takes place in Scotland to see in the New Year, it is observed over the course of several days, the pinnacle being New Year’s Eve.  The festivities often continue on 1 and 2 January, both of which are bank holidays in Scotland.  Although its exact origins are unknown, some believe that the celebration may have been introduced to Scotland by the Vikings, who invaded Scotland in the 8th and 9th Centuries.   The Norse raiders would celebrate the Winter Solstice with lively parties, a tradition that’s continued throughout the years for Scots celebrating the New Year.

Where does the word Hogmanay come from? Defined as “the 31 December”, “New Year’s Eve” or “the last day of the year” in the Dictionary of the Scots Language, the etymology of the word is nonetheless a topic of debate. Some believe the word originated in France, while others believing that it has Anglo-Saxon origins.  “The name could come from the Anglo-Saxon ‘haleg monath’ meaning holy month,” Dr Donna Heddle, director of the Institute for Northern Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands, told the BBC. “But the most likely source seems to be French. In Normandy presents given at Hogmanay were ‘hoguignetes’.”  It’s believed that the word ‘Hogmanay’ became more widespread after Mary Queen of Scots returned to her home country after visiting France in 1561.  
How is it celebrated?
Festivities begin on 30 December with a traditional torchlight procession that passes through the Scottish capital of Edinburgh. With thousands of spectators looking on, dancers and musicians make their way down the city’s Royal Mile, starting from Edinburgh Castle.  A huge ticketed street party then takes place.  Similar festivities will also take place across the rest of Scotland, with cities including Glasgow and Aberdeen holding parties.  After midnight, Scots take part in a good luck tradition called ‘first-footing’, which involves being the first person to enter the home of a friend or neighbour.  The person entering the home of another is expected to bring them gifts such as whisky, shortbread or black bun, before being presented with food and drink by the host.  One Hogmanay tradition that’s spread across the world is the synchronised singing of Auld Lang Syne to see in the New Year.  The song derives from a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns.  It is custom to link arms with the people on either side of you when singing the song, the title of which can be translated as meaning “old long since”.

Improving Access to Sandwood Bay
The North West Highlands are undergoing an increase in demands from high visitor numbers, which are expected to continue rising, writes Romany Garnett. In parallel with higher visitor numbers following the North Coast 500 route, local authority services are being squeezed and reduced, putting pressure on the few remaining local facilities. Thanks to a grant from the coastal communities fund, the John Muir Trust is working to upgrade existing amenities on Sandwood Estate. These improvements are intended to prevent further deterioration of facilities while giving visitors a better experience of the area in and around Sandwood.  This project started at the end of 2017 and is now almost completed, having created additional employment in the area. At the beginning of the project, a survey of local businesses highlighted a number of potential improvements. These include the need for more signage, information about the estate, more choice in outdoor activities, better interpretation and more online information. The main project outcomes are: (1) updating facilities at the Blairmore car park, (2) improving the track into Sandwood Bay to prevent further erosion, (3) working with Kinlochbervie Primary School and High School, (4) organising a threeday free outdoor festival for local residents and visitors, (5) organising guided walks, (6) producing a new leaflet to promote local activities and “slow tourism”, and (7) providing training and volunteering opportunities.  We have finished upgrading the car park surface at Blairmore and have made improvements to the toilet block which will soon have an up-to-date interpretation panel highlighting local history and wildlife. Signage will encourage people to behave responsibly in accordance with the Scottish outdoor access code. This includes reminders to leave no trace, to respect the interests of other people, to care for the environment, to bring back more litter than you take in and to keep dogs under close supervision.  Pupils from Kinlochbervie High School have contributed artwork which will be installed along the track. We are also working with a “leave no “trace” group to help tackle issues around increased tourism on Sandwood Estate. This project intends to help local crofters and hospitality businesses to cope with increasing visitor numbers while promoting environmental responsibility. Improvements made will hopefully benefit the landscape, crofters, local residents and visitors to the area.

Opera Star's New Inverness School for Singers

An international recording artist who has been building up a reputation with his own gospel choir is now set to open a new singing academy in Inverness.  Tony Henry is the talent leading the Highland Voice choir which has performed a number of prestigious dates including at the Belladrum Festival and helping bring in the bells this year at the Highland capital’s Red Hot Highland Fling.  Explaining his vision for the Tony Henry Music Academy he said: “Over the months I have been building up a number of students that I have been working with and, although I am eternally grateful to the owners, restrictions in my current premises mean I have been unable to offer lessons in the evenings and weekends, which is when an increasing number of people want to learn to sing.  I truly believe that everyone can sing – and I am keen to work with anyone that has been thinking about singing, but maybe just hasn’t got round to it or is just too shy to come along.  He added: “I would encourage anyone to come along and give it a go. I promise I’ll make it easy for you and we’ll have some fun as well.”

The Last Battle Fought by Scotland’s Clans
It was fought on a Highland hillside as an ancient feud between warring factions in the north flared up over a stretch of disputed land. The Battle of Mulroy broke out in early August 1688 between the MacDonald and Mackintosh clans whose feud had lasted some 300 years. Their last violent encounter is remembered for its classic downhill Highland charge and the use of the feared Lochaber axe.  Around 1,500 men gathered at Maol Ruadh near Spean Bridge for the battle with the MacDonalds of Keppoch raising around 700 fighters which included back up from the Camerons of Lochiel and the MacMartins of Letterfinlay.  Leading the clan was Coll MacDonald, who had been studying at St Andrews University when he succeeded his father as chieftain six years earlier.  Meanwhile, the Mackintoshes gathered around 1,000 men for the battle. This included fighters from its Clan Chattan allies and up to 500 government soldiers from the Independent Highland Companies that were brought down from Inverness.  Under dispute was a stretch of land at Keppoch with the hostilities intensifying after clan chief Lachlan Mackintosh ordered the construction of a fort on the site.  The law upheld the land as his - with a parchment from the Privy Council to prove it - but the MacDonalds of Keppoch lay claim given the clan system’s right of long occupancy, continued improvement and successful defence, according to accounts. As the construction of the fort continued, Coll MacDonald’s forces gathered, shielded by the hills of Glen Roy, according to Historic Environment Scotland’s inventory of historic battlefields.  As men mobilised, Captain Mackenzie of Suddie was dispatched from Inverness to give government aid to Mackintosh so he could fight his enemies.  For at least a week, the two mounting forces were kept apart by the high waters of the River Spean and Roy.  But in the first week of August, the Mackintoshes crossed the rivers to find “their enemies arrayed on good ground on the slope of Maol Ruadh, according to the HES account of events.  The account added: “The MacDonalds and their allies, who were positioned on the high ground, executed a classic Highland charge down the slope towards the Mackintoshes.  While some accounts describe the MacDonalds discharging one volley before charging forward to meet their foes with drawn swords and Lochaber axes, another quite detailed account describes a fire-fight lasting for up to an hour.  The fighting resulted in many casualties, including Mackenzie and several leading members of Clan Chattan, before the Mackintoshes were routed.”  The regular troops of Mackenzie’s force returned to their garrison at Inverness, carrying with them some of the wounded.  The MacDonalds captured Lachlan Mackintosh and his family, along with his possessions and supplies that had been moved to the old fort near Keppoch House, according to HES.  Mackintosh was forced into a written agreement regarding the tenancy of the MacDonald lands with the prisoners hastily released as soldiers prepared for their rescue.  HES said the battle was significant given it was the final major final major engagement which can be classed solely as a clan battle within Scotland.  Its’ Inventory of Battlefields added: “Shortly after Mulroy is fought, the political climate is transformed by the so-called Glorious Revolution and the nature of clan life and warfare in the Highlands is transformed along with it.”  The MacDonalds faced a campaign of brutal reprisal until the Government forces were recalled in the build up to arrival of William of Orange and the removal of James VII.  While the Battle of Mulroy has been widely described as Scotland’s last inter-clan battle, some have argued that the involvement of government forces means that the last true battle was the Battle of Altimarlach, fought in 1680 between the Campbells and Sinclairs.

Oran Mor to Unveil Robert Burns Murals to Celebrate Life of the Bard
A series of vast murals depicting the epic Robert Burns poem Tam O’Shanter have been created for one of Glasgow’s leading arts centres.  Ten paintings have been created for Oran Mor, in the city’s west end, by artist Nichol Wheatley to coincide with the 260th anniversary of the birth of Burns.  Wheatley, 47, has spent most of the last two years working on the murals, which are around three metres wide and two metres tall.  However, he had to take a break for more than two months to work as a concept artist in the pre-production phase of the making of the Netflix Robert the Bruce epic Outlaw King.  The murals depicting the 1791 poem have been designed by Wheatley to fit on to the ceiling of Oran Mor’s main bar. But they will also be hung in its main auditorium each year to coincide with the venue’s annual Burns celebrations.  Wheatley previously worked with the artist Alasdair Gray on his work for the auditorium of Oran Mor – one of Scotland’s biggest pieces of public art – and the nearby Hillhead underground station.  Wheatley was first approached about creating work for Oran Mor by entrepreneur Colin Beattie after he bought the Byres Road building, which opened as a bar, restaurant, nightclub and events venue in 2004. It is best known for launching the lunchtime theatre series A Play, A Pie and A Pint.  Wheatley, who was brought up in Kinross and studied at Glasgow School of Art, said: “Years ago, the thought was that I might start at the bottom of the auditorium and Alasdair might start working at the top. However Alasdair, who is an utter genius, had such an incredible scheme in his mind, to depict the universe in murals in the auditorium. As that flowered, it rapidly became evident that I shouldn’t do anything other than help Alasdair. We’ve really become colleagues after working on and off for about 12 years.  I actually had the first conversation about the Tam O’Shanter murals with Colin in 2006.  But it was not until about two years ago that he approached me to say he really wanted me to come and do them. I gave Colin a few ideas of how I would set tackle it and how I saw it. He basically told me ‘off you go’ and left me to it for two years. He’s the pretty client. He utterly believes in the artist. I thought it would be best to think of the murals as an allegorical set of paintings and the themes about a man getting drunk, lusting after women and the abandoned kirk. I also thought it would be really interesting to put Tam O’Shanter more into the landscape than other paintings have.  The story has been in my head since I was taught the poem as a kid.  I’ve always wanted to make these paintings and this commission has been a challenge and a delight. I’ve been working on the murals pretty much constantly for the last two years, although I was hired to be a concept artist on Outlaw King. I was hired right at the beginning of the production to draw out what scenes may look like.  I ended up working on it for around ten weeks. They asked for to stay on for longer but I told them I needed to work on this job for Oran Mor.” Mr Beattie: “Nichol’s rendition of the ten paintings created for Oran Mor will prove to be a truly significant addition within the canon of Burns art.  His work is simply magnificent and I’ve no doubt it will stand tall amongst all the other great Burns art that has preceded it. The creation of Oran Mór was to encourage ‘Art for All, All Year Round’ and it’s important to me that we support Scottish artists. I’m confident this commission will help bring Burns to a new generation.”

Pound Rises After 'Meaningful' Brexit Vote
The pound has risen after MPs voted to reject Theresa May's Brexit deal by 230 votes. The vote opens up a range of outcomes, including no deal, a renegotiation of Mrs May's deal, or a second referendum.  Sterling rose 0.05% to $1.287 after declines of more than 1% earlier in the day.  The currency slumped 7% in 2018 reflecting uncertainty about the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union.  MPs voted by 432 votes to 202 to reject the deal, the heaviest defeat for a sitting government in history.Business groups said their members' patience was wearing thin. "There are no more words to describe the frustration, impatience, and growing anger amongst business after two and a half years on a high-stakes political rollercoaster ride that shows no sign of stopping," said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce. He implored MPs to come to an agreement, and was joined in this plea by business groups including the Federation of Small Businesses, the Institute of Directors and the Confederation of British Industry.  Some investors see the chances of a no-deal Brexit diminishing as parliament exerts more authority over the process. "The probability of a no deal has diminished while the chances of a delay in Article 50, a second referendum or even, at the margin, no Brexit at all, have all increased. The consequence of those scenarios has encouraged sterling to rally despite the PM suffering the worst parliamentary result in a century," said Jeremy Stretch of CIBC Capital Markets.  Hedge fund manager Crispin Odey, a major donor to the Brexit campaign, said he now expected the project to be abandoned altogether and that he is positioning for the pound to strengthen.

Discord As 'Scotland’s Finest Boutique Music Festival' Called Off

A Duchess and a council are singing from different song sheets over the cancellation of “Scotland’s finest boutique music festival”, it has emerged.  The Best of the West Festival, known as BOWFest, has been held in the grounds of Inveraray Castle – the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll – since 2011.  Eddi Reader, Skipinnish and Blazin’ Fiddles are amongst the acts to have performed at the weekender, which also showcased the region’s food and drink.  But organisers have pulled the plug on this September’s event, with Eleanor, Duchess of Argyll, citing a lack of public funding as a key factor.  She said: “We receive no government support and Argyll and Bute Council have withdrawn their financial assistance whilst providing significant funding to other similar events. Funding available from some local community sources has also been consistently denied despite the proven local interest and economic benefits.  I wish all festivals and events in Argyll all the best for 2019 and onwards. I know they do a fantastic job in promoting the area and look forward to attending and enjoying some of them with my family.  It is a huge regret that we can no longer deliver a family festival beneficial to the community in this part of Argyll but to bring a freshness and a continuity to this, or any event, requires support both financial and in kind.” The news follows research last week that highlighted the area’s music tourism potential.  According to the Duchess, the non-profit festival has netted £1 million a year for the local economy, with 30,000 people attending since its inception.  Backed by private sponsorship, any returns were ploughed back into the staging of the next event.  She said: “I have never had funding from the council.  I was not allocated anything in the new Argyll festivals and events fund either. My vision was to promote the amazing produce and talent – including young as well as established talent – that we have in the west coast, and all in the grounds of the world famous Inveraray Castle.  The feedback from visitors, sponsors and people who have performed at and supported the festival has been huge and there is shock and disappointment at our decision, which I can assure you has not been made easily.”  Victoria Winters, of the Argyll and the Isles Tourism Co-operative, called the cancellation “a huge shame” for music fans, food producers and businesses, with local accommodation providers set to lose out on custom.  Tiree Music Festival, also in Argyll and Bute, was granted £12,500 by the council this year, with Oban Live receiving £15,000 and Cowal Highland Gathering – the area’s biggest event – drumming up £49,100.  The cash was allocated from the local authority’s large grant fund.  It is understood that prior support to BOW Fest ran to around £2500, which helped pay for the event’s craft tent, a space that promoted local businesses.  Argyll and Bute Council said it was “disappointed” by the call-off, adding: “We provide funding where possible for events. However, it should be noted that our contribution to Bowfest has been low-level and on an ad-hoc basis, rather than as a key partner.  Given ongoing cuts to our budgets, expectations of councils have to be realistic and events have to be commercially sustainable.”  Local councillor Sandy Taylor said he was “surprised” by the loss of the “really good cultural addition”, adding: “I was unaware at any point of this group asking for support from the council.  Had they done that, I would have offered my support.”

Brexit: Out of the Frying Pan
World Trade Organisation tariffs could effectively block meat exports to the European Union, and would boost food price inflation.  The Scottish government is warning that removal of those tariffs by the UK could open the floodgates to cheap imports.  The food and drink sector is warning of a potential £2bn hit to sales, and it is being held back by the freeze on investment.  Amid the noise and confusion of Brexit, between parties and parliaments, here's a small example of the complexity that comes with "taking back control".  It comes from Fergus Ewing, the Scottish government secretary responsible for agriculture.  It has to do with knocking down barriers to trade, but at great risk to farmers.  To explain, if there's no deal on a transition, exports of meat can be expected to face some of the highest tariffs. On agriculture, Europe really does look like a fortress.  None of the tariffs are simple. There are different rates on a carcass and on butchered meat, and different rates on different cuts.  For beef, the default tariffs registered with the World Trade Organisation by the European Union start just south of 60% tariffs and can go over 100%, according to Quality Meat Scotland. For lamb, which in Scotland depends on the premium French market, the tariff can be 63% for boneless meat and 45% with the bone in. If you think that is impossibly unfair on British farmers after Brexit, remember that this is the regime that has protected them for four decades from efficient, lower-cost US, Australian or Argentinean producers, sometimes with lower regulatory standards allowing for that efficiency.  Countries that have struck trading deals with the European Union have carved out tariff-free quotas, or preferential tariffs, or both. The UK starts a no-deal Brexit with the same WTO tariffs that the EU has had. Eventually, the UK could seek to carve out its own deal, though from a relatively weak negotiating position. Until then, the WTO tariffs look eye-watering. Or it could display its credentials as a champion of free trade by slashing or removing tariffs.  That would have the added and important benefit of taking the pressure off price inflation in the early stages of life outside the EU. The sudden imposition of tariffs pours fuel on to inflationary pressures. So here's where Mr Ewing gets involved, writing a letter to Michael Gove, the Brexiteer cabinet minister responsible for agriculture in Whitehall.  The Holyrood minister's letter recognises that, as things stand, a no-deal Brexit will leave Scotland's meat exporters facing these tariffs. It references the possibility of lowered tariffs for imports into the UK. But the WTO rules state that if Britain offers such a deal unilaterally to one country or trading bloc, then it must do so to all.  So those efficient producers in the Americas and Down Under could sell their beef and lamb and pork to the UK under the same attractive deal being given to the EU. At that point, much of Britain's livestock farming is served up with stuffing.  So there's a balance to be struck; keep inflation under control, but don't undermine farming. "While lowering tariffs in this way could mitigate the effect on consumers, by opening the floodgates, it risks considerable harm to our domestic producers," Mr Ewing wrote to Mr Gove. "It also gives away much of the negotiating capital for the future trade agreements which you prize."  So to the Holyrood minister, it requires "sensible and sensitive" application of new trade tariff powers, and preferably the introduction of Tariff Rate Quotas - limited amounts of imported produce, at lower or no tariff rates.  For Scotland, without the pressure points of Channel ports, or the super-efficient cross-Channel supply chains of England's car factories, the food and drink sector looks to be the part of the economy that is most vulnerable to a chaotic Brexit.  There are those tariffs on the big export areas of beef and lamb. Fresh food delivery, of shellfish, for instance, risks being stuck at ferry port bottlenecks.  The scale of the risk was set out this week by a broad range of industry voices; the Food and Drink Federation of producers, Scottish Bakers, salmon farmers, the National Farmers Union Scotland, Quality Meat Scotland and the promotions body Food and Drink Scotland.  Together, they reckon they're worth £14bn per year to the Scottish economy.  But "even using the UK government's own projections, we estimate the cost of no-deal to our industry would be at least £2bn in lost sales annually. That is on top of the short-term chaos resulting from transport delays and labour shortages".  I encountered one source of that sales loss on Wednesday, reporting for TV from the Food and Drink Hub in Cumbernauld - a company that, for only five years, has been wholesaling produce from companies too small to have their own widespread distribution networks.  The Food and Drink Hub handles that for them. That's how there is such a range of Scottish craft beers and artisanal gins available across retail. It provides ScotRail with the contents of its snack trolley, including the haggis-flavoured Mackie's crisps.  Morrison's works alongside the Food and Drink Hub to provide much of the supermarket chain's local produce, with which it seeks to differentiate itself.  It likes how the Scottish business works so much that Morrison's has asked the wholesaler to operate a similar scheme with small local producers in parts of England, starting in Leeds.  For these small brewers, distillers, the bakers and purveyors of edible gifts, there is a big prize to be seized if the Food and Drink Hub implements its plan to get into exports.  But while Brexit provides such uncertainty, that plan is gathering dust. The potential will go unrealised until the Brexit mists clear, and that's not expected for at least a year. Probably much longer.  Such investment postponed is one of the glaring results of uncertainty for business across the sectors. Its lobby groups are bristling with frustration that the Brexit debate has left them no clearer about the outcome.  Enough of the pantomime, said one - the time for theatre is over. No more games - work together and sort it out, was the consensus on Tuesday night into Wednesday.  Currency markets have priced in an assumption that the scale of the government's defeat for Theresa May's withdrawal agreement deal has made a softer Brexit more likely. Sterling strengthened a tad on that basis. Currency traders, however, know as much about this as anyone else. Their pricing of sterling is a gamble on a more economy-friendly outcome. And in current circumstances, it's particularly risky to set odds on the outcome of politicians acting rationally.