Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 526

Issue # 526                                     Week ending Saturday 16th  November 2019

Is it Not Time That We All Called A Halt to Really Dangerous Guy Fawkes Nonsense?
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Whether it is because some people in this area are becoming very posh or because the youngsters are becoming tech-savvy, we got a shock the other night. We went for walk in the rain up to Sandwick and some local kids were going round the houses collecting for their bonfire night despite the dreich weather. They asked me for a penny for the guy. I said sorry because I had no cash in my pocket. Then one piped up: “That’s alright, mister. You can spread the cost of your donation and pay us monthly by Direct Debit.”

He then took out his mobile phone and smiled: “Just fill in your bank details there and you can sign it with your fingernail there.” Cheeky monkeys. I felt I was being mugged by some junior highwaymen. “Away with you,” I roared in the best Ebenezer Scrooge tone I could muster in that pouring rain while thinking to myself how smart they were and how that wide-grinned entrepreneur would probably scoop Best Business Start-Up in a few years time.

Every year we come together for the lighting of bonfires, the letting off of fireworks and the burning of an effigy in celebration of the last time the British Government found weapons of mass destruction. It was a failed attempt to kill King James I, who was also King James VI of Scotland, and blow up Parliament and have him replaced by a Catholic monarch. Nowadays, we would call that terrorism.

Someone came up with the idea of bonfires to celebrate the King’s escape from the plot to put a rocket under him. That probably seemed like a good idea in 1605 but there’s no need for it now. Why not? Ooh, let me think. Because fireworks are horrendously dangerous, idiots aim them at people, many victims are injured every year, it terrifies innocent animals and has been known to kill them and that’s not funny any more.

People with post traumatic stress disorder are often utterly petrified. Does no one care? Yes, bonfires and rockets are quite a sight when viewed from an upstairs window if you have a good view. I like to have my glasses with me when I watch the spectacle. It’s an age thing. As I get on in years, I find I do need glasses. Glasses of fine malt whisky usually.

There are already rules about fireworks and they should be observed to the letter. You should never go back to a firework which does not go off. That’s why Mrs Mackay in Point tells me she has not been to the bottom of her garden since 1990. I know you say that you can’t be too careful, Mrs Mackay, but I was speaking to the man from the fire service and he says it should be safe enough now.

It’s even worse, though, when a firework does go off with a bigger bang than you expected.

November the 5th has come and gone
But the pain and hurt still linger.
I held a banger in my hand
Has anyone seen my finger?

Now the serious bit. There were 882 emergency callouts to Scottish fire services on Bonfire Night last week. Many fire crews were attacked by the low-lives who were lured by the bright lights like the insects they are. That is not fun. Our emergency services deserve better than having to run this annual gauntlet of violence from brainless thugs who make earthworms seem intelligent.

Despite the health and safety rules that we must follow the rest of the year, this pointless and utterly dangerous display of historical farce is still allowed because it seems our politicians are rubbish at doing the right thing. In Scotland, particularly, you can only get something actually done by a politician if you threaten them with voting for someone else - or for Brexit. That tends to work.

It is time we all started cranking up the pressure over Bonfire Night. Discussing this same point with an MP a few years ago, he thought he would be seen as a killjoy if he tried to ban it. Then he asked if I agreed. I answered: “No. If I agreed with you then we’d both be wrong.” He didn’t like that.

As Mrs X and I walked home from Sandwick the other night, it struck me how much money we could have lost by running my fingernail over a phone screen. Scary. She tried to cheer me up by telling there are some things I could never lose. Aw, she’s going to say I will never lose her love. But she said: “You can never lose a homing pigeon. If your homing pigeon does not come back, what you lost was just a pigeon.” Oh.

When we got home we were both wringing wet. After I had a shower and dried off, I heard herself yelling from upstairs. She says: “I need you to remove my clothes.” Really? I thought. That’s a bit forward of her. I was halfway up the stairs when she shouted: “From the dryer.”

London-Glasgow Passengers Choose Rail Over Air

The proportion of people travelling between London and Glasgow by rail rather than air has reached a record level, according to Virgin Trains.  In the 12 months to July 2019, 29% of passengers chose to travel with the train company rather than fly.  This is nearly two percentage points higher than the previous record set in 2014, during the Commonwealth Games.  Fastest flights between the cities take about an hour and 15 minutes. The train takes about four-and-a-half hours.  The figures released by Virgin Trains show the rise was driven by a 6% year-on-year increase in the number of passengers travelling between London and Glasgow by train, reaching 718,000.  This is up from around 244,000 a decade ago. Virgin Trains managing director Phil Whittingham said: "The number of people choosing train over plane is testament to the investment and improvement Virgin Trains has made in Anglo-Scottish services over the last two decades.  This growth is critical in supporting Scotland's economy and helping achieve government targets to decarbonise transport and achieve net zero emissions."  Colin Howden, director of sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland, said: "The current level of air travel is incompatible with the climate emergency so it's heartening to hear that rail is growing its market share over air for travel between central Scotland and London.  Comparable distances across Europe use rail rather than air as the dominant mode of transport, so it is overdue for Scotland to take action to cut the excessive volume of flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London."  He said rail produced a fifth of the climate emissions that come from air travel.  The boss of the consortium that owns regional airline Flybe recently said he could axe some routes where the journey could be made easily by train or car.  Connect Airways chief executive Mark Anderson said: "We need to be responsible."  Flybe's existing routes include London Heathrow-Edinburgh and London City-Edinburgh. Virgin Trains has run services on the West Coast Main Line since March 1997 but the franchise is being handed to First Trenitalia on 8 December.

Farmers 'Should Think More Like Pilots' for Safety, Say Researchers

Farmers should start thinking like pilots in order to improve safety in the industry, researchers have said.  Recent statistics showed that workers in agriculture were seven times more likely to die than those on a construction site.  After five years of research with farmers, University of Aberdeen psychologist Dr Amy Irwin said lessons could be learned from other industries.  She said changing a few key behaviours could make farming safer.  Check-list suggestions include surroundings - such as being aware of the location of power lines - and tractor safety measures, as well as having a first aid kit.  A number of aviation accidents in the 1970s led to researchers noting that while pilots were fully-trained and competent to fly, they could become complacent, or distracted, and make poor decisions as a result.  Dr Irwin said of farming: "Most of the accidents involve things like being entangled in machinery, knocked over by a vehicle, trampled by a cow, and so it's a really hazardous industry to be part of."  She believes a lead can be taken from other industries - aviation being deemed as the key one - to have an understanding of how areas such as teamwork, leadership and situation awareness can be crucial.  Dr Irwin cited paramedics and surgeons as other professions using similar techniques including check-lists.  She said: "In aviation and a lot of other high-risk industries they have training for all of these skills, farming has nothing, and we're looking to change that.  So by just changing a few behaviours, we can hopefully make farmers safer, and more effective."  The psychologist explained: "We're conducting research with farmers, finding out more about what they do on a daily basis, finding out what are the issues that might arise that might make things unsafe, then we're taking our research findings and turning them into practical tools, things like check-lists and we've got a new pocket guide for farmers.  Essentially it's about all the things both within the tractor cab and external to the tractor cab that a farmer has to be aware of.  Farmers, they're a sort of a hardy bunch, they tend to continue even if they're feeling tired or whatever.  So an important element of this is also checking yourself, checking how stressed you are, how fatigued or tired you're feeling, and how that might influence your safety operating this heavy machine."  On a farm near Peterhead, Peter Robertson said safety was already a priority. He runs a mixed farm with two members of staff.  He believes practical measures include making sure vehicle windows are clean, and lights are working.  He said of the check-list: "I think it's great. We've had it for the last fortnight - and think that the staff we have working on the farm do these checks anyway.  I think they're doing them unconsciously, but the good thing about this it firmly puts it down there, it's very grounded, and it just gives them another tool to keep the health and safety element and keep it sort of vibrant in the farm.  It's just part and parcel of what we do, there's a couple of local accidents where people were killed and we decided that was to do with visibility, so we now every day wear hi-vis vests on the farm, and it works, it's an easy thing to do."  Mr Robertson added: "I really like it and it's something that we're going to use a lot I would say on the farm.  I think it's a great opportunity for the agricultural industry to move on and look at safety in a different way and see if the industry can improve its health and safety record to be not the worst, to be the best."

First Minister Leads Remembrance Events in Scotland
The first minister has led Remembrance Sunday events being held across Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon laid a wreath at the Stone of Remembrance at Edinburgh City Chambers with Lord Provost Frank Ross, before a service at St Giles' Cathedral.  She gave a reading to commemorate those who had lost their lives in armed conflict.  Her deputy, John Swinney attended an event in Glasgow's George Square.  The SNP was being represented by Ian Blackford at the service at the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London, while Veterans Minister Graeme Dey took part in a service on board HMS Unicorn in Dundee.  A two-minute silence was observed across the country at 11:00.  Scottish Parliament Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh and Advocate General Lord Keen joined veterans, serving members of the armed forces and emergency services, and representatives from different faiths at the St Giles service.  In her address, Ms Sturgeon said of those who lost their lives serving their country: "Their sacrifice is responsible for the freedoms and the way of life that we take for granted today.  This is an opportunity to give gratitude, to show our respect, and to send a message that that sacrifice will never be forgotten.  I'm privileged today to lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Scotland and I do so with the utmost gratitude and respect, not just for the sacrifices of the past, but for the courage and the sacrifices of our armed forces today."  Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "On Remembrance Sunday every year, we reflect not on the glory of war - but on the huge sacrifice that was made so that we can stay free.  Many families in Scotland lost loved ones in the First World War and the Second World War.  We all have a responsibility to remember the sacrifice they made, and to hold the families they have left behind in our thoughts.  Let us resolve once again to think about how we can build and sustain peace in the future, while never forgetting the sacrifices of the past."  More than 90 wreaths were laid during the service organised by Legion Scotland and led by Reverend Calum MacLeod of St Giles' Cathedral, who read Binyon's Lines before hundreds of members of the public who gathered on the Royal Mile to pay their respects. RAF Sgt Whitson Johnson, 95, who fought in Burma during World War Two, attended from Portobello.  He said: "We must remember. Young people have to know what has happened in the past and realise what they are doing today was fought for.  Mostly they do appreciate it and it's nice to see younger people learning about what happened."  Lord Provost Frank Ross is the Edinburgh's veterans champion.  He said: "By attending a Remembrance service or parade, wearing a poppy or taking a moment of quiet reflection, so many of us have shown our gratitude and appreciation for the enormous sacrifices being made every day on our behalf by so many courageous men and women.  It has filled me with great pride to lay a wreath on behalf of all citizens at Scotland's national commemorations and to see so many local communities come together in their own ways to pay their respects."  Dr Claire Armstrong, chief executive of Legion Scotland, said people were as keen to be involved in Remembrance events than ever before.  She said: "We had discussions last year about how Remembrance would shape up once we finished the armistice for World War One.  We are in the shadow of that now, but the interest in Remembrance has not waned one bit, if anything it's been a springboard to get more people involved and more people interested. The amount of people we have here today - almost 100 wreaths are being laid, the biggest number that we've had in recent years - is testament to that."  Scotland will fall silent again at 11:00 on Monday for Armistice Day.  The two-minute silence will take place on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the time in 1918 when the guns finally fell silent along the western front, and an armistice was declared.

Two Cases of Deadly Diphtheria Detected in Lothian Area

Two people are being treated in Scotland for the potentially deadly diphtheria infection.  NHS Lothian has confirmed the two cases are related and both patients are thought to be in hospital in Edinburgh.  The health board said those involved had recently returned from overseas.  Public health experts said the likelihood of any additional cases was very small, as most people were protected by immunisation given in childhood.  In Lothian, 98% of children are vaccinated against diphtheria by the age of 24 months.  Alison McCallum, director of public health for NHS Lothian, said: "All close contacts of these patients have been identified, contacted and followed up in line with nationally agreed guidelines.  We encourage people travelling abroad to visit Fit for Travel where they can access information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad, as well as destination specific health advice." Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially fatal infection that can affect the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin.  It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure and paralysis. The infection is spread by coughs and sneezes, or by sharing items such as cups, cutlery, clothes or bedding with an infected person.  It is rare in the UK, because babies and children are routinely vaccinated against it.  There is a small risk of catching the disease while travelling in some parts of the world.

Flooding Affects Railway in Highlands and A75 in South
Train services between the Highlands and Glasgow and Edinburgh have been disrupted by "heavy flooding" on the line, ScotRail has warned.  The flooding affected the railway between Inverness and Carrbridge.  The line was closed until 10:25 when engineers managed to reopen the line, but there is a 5mph speed restriction and services continue to be disrupted. NetworkRail Scotland said a second line of track at the scene, the down loop, remained closed.  Replacement buses have been arranged for passengers who need them.  The flooding at the Slochd follows snowfall in the Cairngorms and heavy rain.  In Dumfries and Galloway, flooding closed the A75 at Barlae between Glenluce and Newton Stewart for several hours Diversions were put in place with westbound drivers facing a 30-mile (48km) detour and those heading east about 16 miles (25km).  Scotland Transerv said the road had reopened by about 14:00.

North Uist Iron Age Site Damage Investigated by Police

Police are investigating a reported unauthorised excavation at an Iron Age site in the Western Isles.  Dun Torcuill, a small uninhabited island in North Uist, has the archaeological remains of an ancient stone-built tower called a broch.  Stones have been cleared away, damaging the legally protected scheduled monument.  Police Scotland said it received a report of the damage on 22 October and was now appealing for information.  Officers have been working with Historic Environment Scotland on the investigation.  Sgt Gavin McDevitt, of Lochmaddy Police Station, said: "Damaging or removing any part of a scheduled monument is a criminal offence.  In this instance, there is the potential for destabilisation of the monument, and the loss of archaeological deposits previously protected by the tumbled stone."  He added: "It is an offence under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 to undertake works without Scheduled Monument Consent.  The penalties for offences under the Act are considerably higher than those for damage to property or vandalism offences, with fines ranging up to £50,000 or prison sentences of up to two years." Historic Environment Scotland said it would urge anyone with information on the incident to contact police.  Brochs are some of Scotland's oldest and most formidable structures to be found in Scotland, many of them in the Highlands, the Western Isles and Orkney.

Clara Ponsati Bailed in Edinburgh and Allowed to Keep Passport

Former Catalan government minister Clara Ponsati has been bailed at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after handing herself in to police.  The St Andrews University professor is wanted in Spain over her role in the Catalan independence movement.  The 62-year-old appeared in court and was granted bail and allowed to keep her passport.  Prof Ponsati's next court appearance has been scheduled for 12 December in Edinburgh.  The full hearing is likely to take place in Spring 2020.  She arrived at St Leonard's Police Station in the capital with her solicitor Aamer Anwar on Thursday morning and was transferred to the court hearing.  The two emerged from the court to cheers from supporters. Mr Anwar said: "Clara Ponsati faces a single charge of 'sedition' which relates to the organising of the referendum in her role as the minister for education.  The warrant is full of contradictions and mistakes, whilst it accuses Clara of everything, in reality the warrant provides no real examples of any alleged crime.  Clara submits that she should not be extradited for a 'show trial' in the Supreme Court, where she believes the only verdict would be one of guilt. "  He added: "Clara views these charges as a 'politically-motivated prosecution'. We will submit that Clara's human rights cannot be guaranteed in the Spanish Courts. "  Sedition is the illegal act of inciting people to resist or rebel against a government in power. The crime no longer exists in Scotland.  Mr Anwar said his client now trusted her fate to the Scottish justice system which she believes "to be impartial, robust and independent".  The charges relate to Catalonia's October 2017 independence referendum - which the Spanish state deemed illegal and refused to sanction.  Prof Ponsati was education minister in the Catalan government at the time.  If extradited and convicted, she could face a sentence of up to 15 years.  On 6 November, Mr Anwar advised the academic not to report to police because of "glaring contradictions" in the arrest warrant.  Mr Anwar said the warrant was translated by a senior judge, Pablo Llarena, and the UK authorities were seeking clarifications on the 59-page document.  Following clarification from Judge Llarena, it was finally accepted by the UK authorities for execution.  The latest European warrant was issued after a previous warrant was withdrawn last summer.  The development comes after nine Catalan leaders were convicted of sedition over their role in the 2017 referendum.  Protests erupted in Barcelona last month after they were sentenced to between nine and 13 years in prison by Spain's Supreme Court.  Prosecutors argued that the unilateral declaration of independence was an attack on the Spanish state and accused some of those involved of a serious act of rebellion. They also said separatist leaders had misused public funds while organising the 2017 referendum.

North Uist Crofter Died After Being Crushed by Cattle

A man died after being crushed by cattle at his croft, a sheriff has said following a fatal accident inquiry.  Hector Macleod, 58, was trying to return an escaped bull to its pen in a cattle shed at Berneray in North Uist.  Sheriff Christopher Dickson said there were no "reasonable precautions" the crofter could have taken to avoid the accident on 24 April last year.  The sheriff said his thoughts were with Mr Macleod's family.  In his determination, the sheriff noted the crofter had not previously experienced any signs of aggression from either the cows or the bull, which was born and raised at his croft.  Some of the cows were pregnant and others had calved.  Mr Macleod was in the main part of the cattle shed and in the process of returning the bull to its own enclosure when he was injured.  The bull, along with cows that got out of the shed, were safely returned to their pens.

Wick Woodland Volunteers Say Thank-you with 'Bothy Nicht' Entertainment
Volunteers who run a community woodland outside Wick served up an evening of old-style bothy entertainment to show their gratitude to individuals and businesses that have supported the project over the years.  Friends of Newtonhill Woodland welcomed about 30 people to the informal gathering in the cosy surroundings of their renovated croft house.  There was music, singing and storytelling as well as traditional fare including scones, pancakes, shortbread and tablet. The event also featured a display of information and photos relating to the illicit distilling trade that used to thrive in the Newton Hill area.  Fittingly, one or two drams were shared during the course of the evening. Although unable to attend, Pulteney Distillery manager Malcolm Waring donated two bottles of Old Pulteney 12-year-old and two bottles of Stroma liqueur.  The woodland has become a popular walking route and recreational area after being developed and maintained by the group of volunteers.  Performers included Nancy Nicolson, who told stories, sang songs and played the melodeon, and Alasdair Miller, on both melodeon and pipes.  There were further musical contributions from three generations of the Mackay family – Billy and his son Colin playing accordions, and Colin’s daughter Emma on pipes – while the Swansons were another family trio, with mum Marina on clarsach along with her children Freya (fiddle) and Finlay (guitar).  Chairman Billy Nicolson – who donned dungarees complete with nicky tams for the occasion – said it had been a successful evening.  “It was a thank-you to people who have contributed significantly in some way – some through funding, some through their physical labours, some through providing plant, machinery, goods and services," he said. "Over the past seven years we’ve had an awful lot of goodwill, especially from businesses, plus all our volunteers who put in a lot of work on a weekly basis.  "We thought it would be good to have a kind of theme – and the theme was a ‘bothy nicht’, with a big slant on the illicit whisky-making. The site is as close as you can get to at least one of the stills.  So it was a one-off thank-you to the people who have helped us and there was a nice bothy atmosphere. Nancy had them all singing along. And the Old Pulteney was given a fair shift!”

'I Was in Agony But Couldn't Get A Breast Reduction on the NHS'
Women have said they are being refused breast reductions on the NHS despite living with chronic, agonising symptoms for years. The NHS does not record how many patients are turned away but surgeons say more needs to be done.  Nicole Poole pleaded with health service doctors to reduce the size of her breasts for nine years before she finally gave up.  At the age of 18 she began experiencing soreness in her back, which over time led to severe shooting pains down her side. She also suffered migraines which gave her blurred vision, flashes and sickness.  Nicole was convinced it was caused by her chest size - a 32GG despite her clothes being a size 12.  The condition earned her the nickname "sick note" at work because she had so many absences.  "I was getting migraines twice a week," she said. "I was off work constantly with it. It was a really terrible time. I was depressed, I hated my body and everything about myself. I didn't go out anywhere."  By 21, Nicole's cup size had reached an H and she decided to speak to her GP but was told she was too young for a reduction. She was also advised to consider whether she wanted children before seeking the procedure.  A few years later her GP finally referred her to hospital but she received a letter saying surgery "wasn't necessary".  Nicole, from Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, said she then attempted to manage her condition with painkillers and developed a serious codeine addiction.  A second referral in her late 20s again led to rejection because her BMI (Body Mass Index) was above the criteria threshold.  Dr Judy Evans, honorary secretary at the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, said far too often women seeking reductions were dismissed because it was seen as a "women's issue" in medicine and that patient's reasons were "cosmetic" rather than practical.  She said: "Breast reduction is an operation which can free people from neck pain, from back pain. It can enable them to do more in terms of good, healthy activities like sport and swimming.  It can enable them to look after their children better, it takes them off anti-depressants. It's the most wonderful operation in terms of what it does for the person, but also I believe in the long term it saves a lot of money for the NHS."  However Dr Alex Munnoch, an NHS consultant plastic surgeon, said that Scotland had a "very clear" policy on managing breast reductions and that more women were refused surgery because of the "increase in referrals for cosmetic procedures".  "Another concern is that reduction surgery doesn't relieve symptoms. There was a study from a unit in Manchester which showed that for most patients, being fitted with the correct bra could negate a lot of symptoms."  Now 31, Nicole was shocked to hear how other women not only shared her condition but had also been unable to get help via the NHS.  Grace Watt, from Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, was 16 and a size 8 when she started experiencing back pain and migraines - her bra size was a 30GG. She also experienced painful rashes and said that stretch-marks on her breasts were so irritated, they would often bleed.  After being told she was "too young" for surgery at 16, Grace tried again after her 18th birthday but despite fitting all the NHS criteria, she was rejected and told she "wasn't a special case".  "I was sobbing," she said. "I was in so much pain and couldn't get anything to fit me. At that point I had a breakdown, my mental health was a mess, I quit my job and on top of the pain I was self conscious.  I wouldn't show any skin on holiday, I wore T-shirts in the swimming pool and I would hardly go out at home." In the past two years, both Grace and Nicole decided to seek reductions through private surgeons - a process that can cost patients about £6,500.  Nicole took out a loan while Grace was helped by her parents but both fear there are more women suffering in silence because they cannot afford to pay for the surgery themselves.  Since her surgery, Nicole has been promoted and works as an opticians manager.  "I was back at work within 10 days and I was fine on paracetamol," she said. "Now I've no back pain and I've had two migraines since getting the operation done.  I still have anxiety but my depression has lifted. I lost myself for so long I didn't know what I was like."  Many women, including Nicole, have been refused a breast reduction because their BMI was too high. The NHS says it must be 20-27 - the Scottish average in 2018 was 27.7. NHS Scotland calls this set of criteria their 'exceptional referral protocol' which was updated in April this year.  But there has been debate in recent years over whether BMI is the most reliable way to indicate overall health, particularly when bodies are notably disproportionate.  The number of surgeries completed for hypertrophy - large cell tissue - was on average 42, and the number decreases each year.  It is impossible to measure the number of rejections because the NHS does not record this figure - only successful surgeries.

Servicemen and Women to Enjoy Christmas Cakes From Wick

THIS festive season looks set to be just a little bit more enjoyable for those serving on board HMS Defender thanks to a local baker who has sent out a special consignment of 120 mini Christmas cakes.  Wick woman Anne Campbell, of Cake-A-Licious, decided to parcel up the cakes and send them to the destroyer as her son, Lieutenant Stuart Campbell (31), will be one of those deployed on the ship over the Christmas period.  "It is just to boost morale as they are all away during Christmas and New Year and won't see their families," she said.  Anne added that some of those on board the destroyer who will not be able to receive any gifts from home. The crew of HMS Defender have been in deployment since August and will not be home again until the end of March 2020.  This is not the first time she has sent a consignment out to a ship her son has been serving on over the festive season. A few years ago she made cakes and candy cane lollipops for another crew to enjoy.  The busy baker had more cakes to make this time as HMS Defender has around 260 people on board, while the minehunters Lieutenant Campbell used to serve on have a much smaller crew.  Anne also put an plea out on a local Facebook page, Caithness Crack, appealing for people to send out some Christmas boxes to the destroyer.  She said: "There has been a really good response. A few people have sent Christmas boxes out."  The Wick baker likes to do something for charity every month and this week she is going to present a Children in Need Pudsey cake to a local charity. She has had nominations from various organisations and the winners will receive delivery of the cake on Friday morning.  Anne also donates vouchers regularly to local charity draws.

Glasgow Church Minister Who Heckled Corbyn in Twitter Storm

The Church of Scotland has said it will "take seriously" any complaints about controversial tweets by a minister who heckled Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.  Rev Richard Cameron, the minister at Scotstoun Parish Church in Glasgow, shouted at Mr Corbyn as he entered a local community centre.  It later emerged that Rev Cameron had made Islamophobic and homophobic comments on his Twitter account.  The church said there had been "significant concern" about the posts.  In one tweet, Rev Cameron compared homosexuality to incest, describing them as "unnatural".  "Both cause harm by breaking sensibly held taboos," he added.  In September, he tweeted: "Christ has the power to help and change anyone. Obviously many gays hate this because want to carry on their perversion."  He also shared a series of controversial views on Islam, describing terrorism as "a problem Islam needs to deal with", a full face veil as "oppressive and unBritish" and the Prophet Muhammad as "a violent man".  In response, a spokeswoman for the Church of Scotland said it deplored comments which were Islamophobic or homophobic.  "At this stage all we can say is that there is a formal complaints process and that any complaints we receive in relation to this matter will be taken seriously and addressed," she added.  Rev Cameron, who worked in pharmaceutical sales before joining the church, has been minister at Scotstoun since 2000.  Earlier, he heckled Mr Corbyn during a trip to Glasgow, branding him a "terrorist sympathiser".  As Mr Corbyn was telling reporters about a scarf given to him by the Who Cares? Scotland charity, Rev Cameron shouted that he thought the Labour leader would be wearing an "Islamic jihad scarf".  "Do you think the man that's going to be prime minister of this country should be a terrorist sympathiser, Mr Corbyn?" he added.  "Who's going to be the first terrorist invited to the House of Commons when you're prime minister?"  The Labour leader did not react and he was ushered into the community centre by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard. Mr Cameron then accused Mr Corbyn of "running away".  The Church of Scotland rebuked Rev Cameron for the way he approached the situation, saying: "Whilst we may occasionally robustly challenge policy issues with which we disagree, we always intend to do that in a way that is polite and measured and allows for reasoned debate."


All the articles on Brexit  I’ve presented in Scottish News & Views have come from Scottish Newspapers and BBC Scotland so I thought you might be interested in this article taken from the Sydney Morning Herald

by Waleed Aly Sydney Morning Herald
Will Britain finally achieve Brexit , only to split part and cease to exist, asks Waleed Aly

The hazard with writing anything about Brexit is that it is out of date before you you’ve finished the piece.  Thats especially true in this whirlwind week in which Boris Johnson seems to have suffered his greatest humiliation, his grandest success, then his most galling frustration mere days, or even hours, apart.

His Brexit deal hammered out with the EU was already a regressive compromise on what Theresa May hd managed, and basically echoed what th EU had suggested years ago.  Imagine calling the Parliament to sit on a Surday only to have them reject it.  Then imagine them voting for it on Tuesday, only o turn around and delay its implementation so its completely moot- more or less forcing the EU to delay Brexit again.

An agreed Brexit deal, an agreed delay in the absence of a deal, and yet another British election to reset these things: these all had their turn at feeling likely in the past week.  It feels as though by the time this reaches print, the UK might not even exist.  That was a joke, I suppose.  Except it’s a shade too feasible to be funny.  So desperately intractable has this become that the only way Johnson could come close to delivering his Brexit case was to effectively to give up Northern Ireland as part of the UK in the process. The key element of his now frozen deal with the EU was the establishment of a customs border between Northern Ireland and Britain.  It was either this, or put the border in Ireland and risk the return of the awful violence that tore Ireland apart for three decades.

That is effectively Johnson’s choice: set Ireland alight, or sever the UK.  He chose the latter, even though he had only recently declared that “would be damaging the fabric of the Union” and that “no British Conservative government could or should sign up to any such arrangement”.

Brexit makes the most sense when we view it in broad thematic terms that tell us something about this global political moment of upheaval.  And the theme that seems most active here is the contradictory nature of nationalism.  Brexit lays this bare because it is itself borne of nationalist sentiment, and yet continually falls apart on nationalist terms.  It pretends to be a quest for a simple national independence, but is in fact held captive by competing nationalist claims. In this case, those nationalisms aren’t the ones that separate Britain from the EU.  They’re the ones that make up Britain itself.

Brexit’s great irony is that it’s a political union (Britain) protesting against another political union(the EU) on the grounds such unions rob its constituent members of sovereignty.
Of course Britain has been reckoning with that problems for years - which is why Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own separate parliaments.

But once you break it down its imprecise to say that Britain vote to leave the EU.  England and Wales did.  And even the result in Wales was thanks largely to the retired English people who live there.

Meanwhile Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Welsh speaking parts of Wales did not.  In a very real sense, this was a sovereignty in which the English sought to impose their will on other nations.  The impossible Northern Irish problem demonstrates this isn’t merely semantic observation.  It’s a fundamental question of identity in much the same way as the whole Brexit vote was.

Suddenly Northern Ireland and Scotland are being asked whether they’re more European than they are part of Britain - because if the Union prevails , it can only do so on England’s terms.  And the early answers to that question are startling.  Polling conducted by Lord Michael Ashcoft, a former Tory deputy chairman, found 46% of Northern Ireland would now vote to leave Britain and join the Republic of Ireland - a very high number given the bitter history over this exact issue. Meanwhile in Scotland Ashcroft found small lead for those who would vote for Scottish Independence.  Perhaps England is lucky the Independence referendum was done in 2014 before Brexit arose.  But now recall that Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has demanded a ne Independence vote by 2021.  Anything can happen.

Brexit is really a project of English nationalism.  And in the end, there’s a slim chance this might be exactly what is delivers: England alone with Wales.  A customs border with Northern Ireland effectively makes it another country immediately, whatever formal descriptions persist.  Northern Ireland would almost certainly have to be excluded from British free trade agreements, for example.

That is disaster for committed Unionits; that doesn’t seem to be true for Tory voters right now who are more committed to Brexit than to the Union itself.  Some 59% of them now say they’d prefer to lose Northern Ireland than sacrifice Brexit, and only 28% would choose to to call off Brexit instead.  The case of Scotland is even clearer 63% would be happy to see Scotland leave as the price of Brexit.

It might just have been simpler if England left the UK.  Because the truth is that the British national identity that drove Brexit doesn’t exist in the simple way we were urged to imagine. It was always a a complicated, contested thing; built of fault lines, existing only in tension.  Brexit is the earthquake that has split this open.  The only question left is what will survive under the rubble.

Last Updated (Saturday, 16 November 2019 01:24)