Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 530

Issue # 530                                               Week ending Saturday 14th   December 2019

Reef May Be No Great Barrier to A Hot and Tropical Beach Holiday in the Sun
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming. Not content with forcing us to take a holiday soon when the whole country will grind to a halt, we then have to face a barrage of commercials promoting the benefits of toasting our beefy behinds on distant Spanish shores. Yet we have wonderful beaches here. Luskentyre, Seilebost, Hushinish and Scarista on Harris, Berneray on North Uist and Tangasdale on Barra. There are many others.

Even here on Lewis, great stretches of golden shell sand like Bosta on Great Bernera is sheltered and almost tropical in fine weather. Tropical may be taking it too far but that’s how it seemed to us growing up there. Uig is the ultimate body-bronzing location, however, with beaches like Ardroil and Reef. With a hot sun up above, Reef is my absolute favourite and compares with some of the best around the world. Come and see Reef beach for yourselves next summer.

Some doddery old boffin with a claim of accurate weather forecasting said on radio recently it’s going to be great next summer - so it must be true. Book now to avoid the rush. Yes, I know you want a holiday in the sun but take a chance on a staycation this time. Brexit and all that has not helped with choosing European destinations. We are a divided country. The actual outcome of the election will be that 100 per cent of Britons will think 50 per cent of Britons have lost their marbles for voting the way they did. And they probably have.

Which reminds me - will someone please tell me how to vote tomorrow? When I heard Boris promise he was going to build 40 new hospitals, hire 50,000 nurses and put 20,000 new cops on the beat, I obviously thought his party was the one to vote for. There was no alternative. Then I look at what the other parties are saying. Jeremy is promising 20,000 new teachers. Nicola says they’ll block NHS privatisation. I love all that.

The SNP also promise to fix Scottish trains. Why? They go, don’t they? We don’t much care about trains up here. Not because we have none but because there was no mention in any manifesto about fixing CalMac’s fleet of mainly broken-down old rustbuckets. Does nobody in the central belt care about island ferry links? That’s why we don’t care about your high-speed choo-choos and your electric trams.

The north of Scotland is way down in all parties’ priorities. There are two Scotlands. North of Perth should be important attracting visitors from around the globe so you would think all political parties would be vying to take the credit to make it better. Never complain the UK is divided again. It’s us. There seems to be an enduring Scottish Government regional economic strategy which can be summed up in this adapted line from The Corries’ famous song:
We faught at land, we faught at sea,
At hame we faught my auntie, O;
We’ll get nothing fae Scotland’s big bankie
Cos we’re north o’ the Braes o’ Killiecrankie, O.

Enough. I must stop being so negative about these confounded politicians. We should be upbeat that we even have a chance to vote. So we should make it a celebration about voting for the whole family and get younger ones looking forward to the day when they can cast theirs for the first time. We should make it part of growing up and make it fun. Hey, wee Calum, eat your sprouts or you will never grow up to Votey MacVoteface.

Voting is important. We already vote on many things - without realising we do that because we do it on a device. This week I have already voted to give 10 stars in an online review for supplier of that ointment that gave me great relief. So I'm not walking funny any more. And I don’t think I’ll be voting in the new X Factor series about bands that began this week.

I might watch it so I can be as smug as I was last week when Megan McKenna won the celebs’ version of the show.  From the off, I had been touched by that magical, crystal-clear voice and, on Megan’s first audition, I said to Mrs X that the winner was right there.

She’s not happy with my smugness and she’s not happy about my choice of our next holiday destination. I told her I was taking her somewhere nice where she could lollop about on a beach without a care in the world. Of course she asked how much that would cost and where? So I told her and she was ecstatic. She immediately phoned up her pal to say: “I don’t believe it. The tight-fisted old git is splashing out. He must have had a windfall because he is taking me to Tenerife.”

Now I haven’t the heart to put her right. She had asked me how much it was going to cost us and where we were going? So I just said: “Tenner. Reef.”

Brothers Cash in on 'Gin Without Sin' As Scotland Leads the World in Low-booze Spirits

Scotland has cornered the market in distillery gin – now the country is cashing in on a boom in the low-alcohol version of the drink. With 90 distilleries producing 180 versions, the trendy tipple has become our other national spirit. Now several are producing versions with less than two per cent alcohol in a surging market. The UK spent -£105million on booze-free and low-alcohol wines and beers last year. The -no-alcohol spirits market is worth £5million after just four years, with gin alternatives leading the charge.  Roddy and Kerr Nicoll run drinks firm Spirits of Virtue and make their own No Sin Gin as well as Asda and Lidl’s own-brand gin alternatives.  The firm, whose £9.99 CeroCero gin for Lidl sold out within three days this month, is on target to make 148,000 bottles of booze-free gin next month to meet Christmas and Hogmanay demand.  Roddy, 53, who set up the company with his younger brother in April last year, said: “I am a serial entrepreneur but I’ve never been involved in a venture that has had this much traction so quickly.  “The growth rate and demand for zero-alcohol drinks is phenomenal. We make Asda and Lidl’s own-label and are about to do the same for two other supermarkets.  We delivered 10,000 bottles of CeroCero non-alcoholic gin into Lidl on October 31 and they sold out within 72 hours. It’s just incredible.”  Drinks giant Diageo recently revealed 29 per cent of millennials are teetotal and 58 per cent of consumers are drinking more no and low-alcohol drinks than last year. Roddy, whose Glasgow-based -company also makes zero-alcohol whisky Dochus and Usko, a booze-free vodka, says there are several driving forces behind the trend. He said: “You’ve got young Muslims who don’t drink for religious reasons. You’ve pregnant and breastfeeding women, teetotal millennials, designated drivers and those staying sober for a healthier lifestyle.  Sober October and Dry January are also influencing factors, when people realise they don’t need a drink to be the life and soul of the party.”  Former reality TV hellraiser Spencer Matthews has jumped on the bandwagon by launching 1.2 per cent strength CleanGin.  Hannah Fisher runs The Start-Up Drinks Lab in Port Glasgow with business partner Craig Strachan.  The firm, which produces craft sodas, mixers, beers and ciders, has seen a huge rise in its low and no-alcohol contracts since last year.  Hannah, said: “In the last six months, our main production has been non or low-alcoholic spirits. We launched a range of non-alcoholic rosé wine called Sparklingly Sober.  We’ve already got a listing with Scotmid and are in talks with other supermarkets. Demand for alcohol alternatives is growing by the day.”

'Perfect' Scotch Whisky Collection Could Be Worth £8m
Auctioneers have unveiled what is believed to be the largest private collection of whisky ever to go on public sale.  More than 3,900 bottles of primarily single malt Scotch will be sold by online whisky auction specialists Whisky Auctioneer next year.  The "perfect collection" includes very rare bottles from The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank distilleries. Its collective value has been estimated at a hammer price of £7m to £8m.  Perth-based Whisky Auctioneer described it as "the most extensive private collection we have seen in terms of the completeness of representation of 20th Century Scottish distilleries".  The collection has been put up for sale by the family of an American businessman who died in 2014.  Colorado-based Richard Gooding, who once owned one of the largest soft-drink distributors in the US, spent more than 20 years amassing his collection. The eclectic mix of whiskies includes bottlings from some of Scotland's lost distilleries, such as Stromness and Dallas Dhu.  It also features some of the most sought-after bottles in the world, including The Macallan 1926 60-year-old Valerio Adami label and The Macallan 1926 60-year-old Fine and Rare.  In October a bottle of The Macallan 1926 sold for nearly £1.5m, including buyer's premium.  Other stars of the auction include a Springbank 1919 50-year-old (estimated hammer price: £180,000-£220,000) and The Macallan 50-year-old Lalique Six Pillars Collection (£90,000-£100,000) Until recently, the collection was housed in what Mr Gooding called his "pub" - a dedicated room in his Colorado family home that was specially designed to showcase his whiskies.  Who was Richard Gooding?  Mr Gooding's grandfather, James A Gooding, started the Pepsi Cola Bottling Company of Denver in 1936.  When he retired, Richard's Gooding's father took over the business before Richard became owner and chief executive in 1979.  He sold the company to PepsiCo in 1988. Colorado-based Mr Gooding died at the age of 67 in June 2014 after being diagnosed with skin cancer.  According to his family, Mr Gooding sought to create "the perfect collection" of whisky, travelling regularly to Scotland in his private jet in search of special bottles at auctions and distilleries.  His wife Nancy said: " He loved every aspect of it; from researching the many single malt distilleries to visiting them and tasting their whiskies.  He was always so pleased to acquire the bottles that he was searching for over the years.  His mission was to collect a bottle that represented every single distillery, but his favourite was always Bowmore, with his preferred whisky being Black Bowmore."  Whisky Auctioneer founder Iain McClune said Mr Gooding's collection was "truly one of a kind".  He added: "Its sheer scale and rarity makes it one of the most exciting discoveries in the whisky world, and we're thrilled to unveil it to the public ahead of it going live on our online auction site next year." The Gooding auction will go live on Whisky Auctioneer from 7-17 February and from 10-20 April 2020.

Fairmont St Andrews Bought by Hong Kong Investors
One of Scotland's most prestigious golf resorts has been sold to Hong Kong-based investors. Fairmont St Andrews said its holding company had been bought by a consortium led by Great Century for an undisclosed sum.  French hospitality group Accor will continue to operate the resort under a long-term management agreement.  The 520-acre property includes a 212-bedroom hotel and two championship golf courses.  The purchasers said they were "focusing on global investments within the golf and hospitality industries".  Great Century co-chairman CYM Chan said: "As a member of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club and a passionate golfer with over 30 years' experience in the golf and hospitality industries, it is a privilege and an honour to participate closely in the future enhancement of this great property at St Andrews, Scotland, the home of golf."  Fairmont St Andrews will host the final qualifier for the 2020 Open Championship at Royal St. George's Golf Club.

Thurso Among Streaming Venues for Science Lecture

Thurso is one of the venues at which youngsters and their families can experience the world’s longest-running science lecture series being streamed live.  The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures were begun by chemist Michael Faraday in 1825 and this year mathematician and presenter Dr Hannah Fry will join a prestigious list of speakers, which includes David Attenborough, Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins and jet engine pioneer Frank Whittle, to reveal a hidden layer of maths that now drives everyday life and show people how to decode life’s hidden numbers.  The first in a series of three lectures will beam live into the Newton Room at North Highland College UHI, Thurso, and the University of the Highlands and Islands STEM Hub in Inverness this Thursday from the Royal Institution’s theatre in London, and at Fort William’s Newton Room two days later. The three lectures will broadcast at 8pm on BBC Four on December 26, 27 and 28.  The free events are for young people over the age of 11 and their families. Hands-on science experiments will be available for everyone who goes along before and during the live streaming of the lectures.  Dr Emma Robertson, Science Skills Academy project manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the live stream of the Christmas lectures from the Royal Institution in the Highlands. Dr Fry brings an entirely new perspective to maths and learning for people of all ages. By relating maths to real life, these lectures will be engaging to the non-mathematicians among us, changing the way we see the world around us.  Dr Fry is a fantastic role model for girls considering a role in STEM careers as women are currently underrepresented in the field. The Newton Rooms and the University of the Highlands and Islands STEM Hub have a learning focus on STEM and this makes it possible to have exciting events like this in the Highlands. This is a great opportunity for young people and adults, and we encourage anyone interested to register for the event.”  It’s the first time that the lectures will be streamed live in Scotland.

Appeal Over Hen Harrier Death and Disappearances
RSPB Scotland has said it is "devastated" by the death of a hen harrier found shot and the disappearance of two more birds.  The dead bird was discovered by a member of the public near Wanlockhead, in the south of Scotland, in June.  Two other hen harriers last recorded in northern Scotland have also disappeared in "suspicious circumstances".  Anyone with information has been urged to contact Police Scotland or the RSPB's raptor crime hotline.  What has happened?  The first incident occurred on a grouse moor on the boundary between Dumfries and Galloway and South Lanarkshire on 7 June.  A post mortem examination found the bird died of "penetrating trauma" injuries consistent with shooting - it also showed the bird had been shot before.  The disappeared birds had been tagged as part of an RSPB project this summer.  One of them - which had its tracker fitted after it fledged from a nest on the Mar Lodge Estate in Aberdeenshire - was last recorded on 11 September over a grouse moor between Tomintoul and Grantown-on-Spey.  The final transmission from the other hen harrier - tagged in Easter Ross - came on 12 October in east Sutherland. RSPB Scotland said that despite laws to protect them, hen harriers remained one of the UK's "rarest and most persecuted birds of prey".  Dr Cathleen Thomas, Hen Harrier LIFE project manager, said: "We're devastated to have lost more young birds in suspicious circumstances." Scottish Land & Estates (SLE) said the incidents were a matter of concern but described the RSPB's appeal as a "blatant attempt" to put pressure on the government ahead of the publication of a report into grouse moor management.  A group looking at the issue - chaired by Prof Alan Werritty - delivered its findings to the Scottish government last month.  The SLE said that there were "serious questions" about the reliability of tags and not every failure meant a crime had been committed.  It also said the incident at Wanlockhead had been investigated by police and the estate where the dead bird had been found had hosted "several successful hen harrier nests". The Scottish Gamekeepers Association said it had an "unequivocal stance" on wildlife crime and had removed eight members in the last seven years.  It echoed claims RSPB Scotland was trying to put pressure on the Scottish government.

Nine 'Amazing' Bronze Age Figurines Found At Orkney Dig
Archaeologists working at the site of a proposed electricity sub-station in Orkney have found nine "amazing" stone carvings.  The 50cm (20in) tall sculptures have all been worked to give them shoulders, a neck and what looks like a head.  The first has been nicknamed the "Finstown Fella", after the location of the dig. After it was recognised, eight more were found on the site.  Experts believe they date from roughly 2000BC.  Sean Bell, site director for ORCA Archaeology, told BBC Radio Orkney that they had all been worked using a technique known as pecking - chipping away flakes of stone with a pointed metal or stone tool.  He said the round shape on the largest of the carved stones "definitely looks like a head, and in some lights you think you can see features on it. But whether that's intentional or not we can't say."  Mr Bell said finding nine of the anthropomorphic - or human like - stones in one place is unprecedented.  "Examples have come up, usually as individuals as a result of people ploughing," he added.  "But some of the examples we've got, instead of being rotund and three dimensional, are very flat. And they're similar to some that have come out from the Links of Noltland (on the island of Westray).  So, even though we're calling them all necked stones, they might not all have the same function. But so little is known about them. That's why this is so important."  The objects could be deliberate representations of the human form. Or they might have been made for a specific practical purpose. Or, perhaps, both. "One theory, particularly with the flat ones, is they may be set in the ground, and then the neck is used for a tether. A sort of Neolithic tent peg," Mr Bell said.  "Of course when you talk about anthropomorphic figures, you automatically start thinking of ritual and religion. But even a flat one being used to tether something could still be part of that aspect of society." Sean Bell said the discovery of so many of the stones in one place, and in a secure archaeological context, shines a light on a relatively unknown part of Orcadian pre-history and may help experts to understand more about the objects.  The dig was carried out at Finstown ahead of development at the site by SSEN Transmission.

'Peatlemania' Island Band Crowned Best Live Act At Scots Trad Music Awards
A Hebridean band formed by a fisherman, an electrician and a truck driver a year and a half ago have been crowned the best live act at Scotland’s annual traditional music Oscars. Isle of Lewis outfit Peat & Diesel – who have sold more than 7000 tickets for their first ever tour after being mobbed at festivals around the country this year – were one of the big winners at the Scots Trad Music Awards ceremony in Aberdeen.  The honour caps a remarkable rise to prominence, which has seen the band propelled from playing pub gigs to becoming social media sensations, getting mobbed by fans at music festivals and selling out Glasgow’s iconic Barrowland Ballroom months in advance.  Fisherman and frontman Callum “Boydie” MacLeod started playing and recording videos at home with electrician Innes Scott and delivery driver Uilleam “Uilly” MacLeod last year.  They have become folk heroes in their native Stornoway, where they were granted a last-minute main stage slot at the Hebridean Celtic Festival last summer to accommodate demand from audiences to see them. Callum "Boydie" MacLeod: "It was totally unexpected to win the award. I was holding my dram in my hand thinking: 'Please don't announce us - I didn't want to go up there to get it.' We're just a small band from Stornoway and didn't expect to be up against these other bands."  The seemingly overnight success of Peat & Diesel has been fuelled by a #Peatlemania campaign on social media and credited to the popularity of their “nonsense songs” which are inspired by modern-day life on Lewis.  Macleod added: "I'm not trying to do anything with my songs. I just write them to get them out of my head. I've been writing since I was at school.  They're all inspired by island life. It's all I've really known. I don't come off the island very much, although I've been off the island more in the last year than I have in my whole life."  Peat & Diesel, who will play their first Glasgow gig as part of next month's Celtic Connections festival, have added a second show at the venue, as well as gigs in London, Manchester, Belfast and Dublin, to try to keep up with demand from their growing fanbase.  MacLeod said: "We can't keep up with the amount of bookings we're being asked to do now. It's ridiculous. We just don't know what's going to happen next."  After Peat & Diesel's win was announced, speaking backstage minutes later, Scott said: "Everything just seems to be getting busier and busier for us. All the acts we're playing alongside are full-time musicians - this was just meant to be a hobby for us.  But it's all it's down to the crowds we've been getting from the day this all started 18 months ago. They wanted to see these three guys do as well as they can and keep pushing things to their absolute limit. We're just holding on for dear life.  Our first ever gig was in the Lewis Bar in Stornoway about 18 months ago. We were actually panicking that we didn't have enough material to do it.  The place got so out of control with people wanting to see us that we had to finish an hour and a half early."  The awards event, which was broadcast live on BBC Alba and Radio Scotland live from Aberdeen’s Music Hall, saw the Tiree Music Festival, declared event of the year just days after it was declared a sell-out for next year.  Islander Daniel Gillespie, artistic director of the festival, which was staged for the 10th time this year, said: "I think the island really was the main impetus to start the event. We have brilliant times as teenagers in the summer on Tiree and we just wanted to share that with people.  We mulled over the idea and how difficult it would be for a couple of years before we gave it a try. We had 600 people in the first year and 2000 people this year, which is really at peak capacity."

North Coast Wildfire Fuelled by Rank Heather Due to Lack of Traditional Muirburn

A North grazings clerk has claimed that the “abandonment” of the practice of controlled muirburn was one of the factors that allowed the Melvich and Strathy wildfire earlier this year to spread over such a wide area. Crofter Michael Mackay, said the downturn in muirburn - following the introduction of stringent new procedures and legislation - meant there were no breaks to stop the fire but instead large areas of “long rank heather” which only served to fuel it.  And he has hit out at environmentalists whom he claims have lumbered crofters and other land managers with “draconian legislation” that is “destroying our environment and not protecting it”.  He is now suggesting that the way forward would be to repeal at least 96% of environmental legislation.  The Melvich and Strathy wildfire burned for around six days and affected more than 5000 hectares of internationally important peatland. It also came close to encroaching on houses.  Crews from Thurso, Wick, Dunbeath, Kinlochbervie and Tongue were among those called out.  Helicopters water-bombed hot spots and smoke could be seen from miles away. Mr Mackay was prompted to speak out after reading a recent report.  The report highlighted analysis commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund which found the fire could have released an amount of carbon into the atmosphere equivalent to six days’ worth of Scotland’s total greenhouse gas emissions.  Gina Hanrahan, head of policy for WWF Scotland was quoted as saying: “How we manage and care for our peatlands influences their effect on climate change, as well as fire risk and how the habitat responds, so protecting and restoring peatlands needs to be a vital part of our response to both the climate and nature crises.”  Mr Mackay has slammed the WWF analysis as as much “sensationalism as science”.  Compared with other countries, such as China, the CO2 release is still insignificant,” he said.  He recalls growing up in the 1950s and 1960s when muirburn - or the burning of relatively small patches of heather some 6”-8” in height - was  commonplace.  The practice is widely perceived as having mainly been undertaken by sporting estates to encourage a grouse population but, says Mr Mackay, it was just as important to crofters who engaged in controlled burning to benefit the environment and their livelihood.  He said: “In the past crofters would often set muirburn fires while working at the peats in May or June.  The longer heather and old grasses would burn until stopped naturally by previous muirburn, leaving fresh growth that was of benefit to the crofters’ livestock and the wildlife.  We had an abundant and diverse flora and fauna. That was the result of many generations of small scale regular muirburn of relatively small patches, along with grazing to appropriate stocking levels.  But to my great disappointment we have lost so much of it - why? Because of environmentalist interference. The end result is extremely large areas of long, rank heather, which amounts to fuel.  Wildfires are inevitable if the fuel source is uncontrolled. An ignition source will inevitably occur whether natural or deliberate.  The only way to prevent wildfires is to eliminate the fuel source and that means either physically cutting the heather, which is impractical, or proper regular muirburn of small areas at a time.”
Comment - R
This situation is so familiar to us here in Australia where the present extensive bushfires have been attributed to not only drought and high temperatures  but lack of controlled burning to eliminate extensive undergrowth as fuel

Piping Event to Honour Eilidh Macleod
The world’s biggest school pipe band championships have paid tribute to a young piper who died in the Manchester Arena attack by naming a special award after her. Scottish Schools Pipe Band Championships created The Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award to commemorate the memory of the talented piper from Barra who was only 14 when she fell victim to the tragic bombing incident.  Having started playing bagpipes at the age of eight, Eilidh’s dedication to the craft would see her set off on a two-hour journey – which included a ferry passage – every few weeks, to train with Sgoil Lionacleit Pipe Band in Benbecula. Created to recognise bands that achieve more than just a competitive edge, The Eilidh MacLeod Endeavour Award will be awarded to groups that can demonstrate attributes such as perseverance and resilience in the face of challenges, community contribution, enthusiasm and camaraderie, innovation and efforts to include everyone regardless of circumstances. Eilidh’s father, Roddy MacLeod, said: “It really means a lot to our family to have her memory honoured by the piping community like this, as it was such a big part of her life.  It was Eilidh’s idea to start learning to play - she loved the sound of bagpipes. She would always stop to watch buskers and pipers in town and had so much admiration for them.  She started playing the practice chanter when she was seven and moved on to bagpipes at the age of eight. She was the youngest one in class when she started.  The influence that being a part of a school band had on her was immense - it was shaping her into an amazing young woman.”

Investor Joins Search for Gold in Central Scottish Mountains

A new investor has stepped into the search for gold in the mountains of central Scotland. Erris Resources has signed an option to buy 80% of a project aimed at exploring in two sites on the south side of Loch Tay, between Kenmore and Killin.  The area being considered for gold mining covers 237sq km (91.5sq miles).  Lead-workings at the village of Ardtalnaig have shown the rock has "good prospects" of including gold, silver and zinc. The other site of interest is Glen Almond, near Ardtalnaig, where a team from Leeds University found a 10g gold nugget in July.  The same project reportedly found 77 fine grains of gold while panning further downstream.  GreenOre, the company which has signed the investment with Erris Resources, has already carried out sampling of rock at the sites.  Erris Resources chief executive Anton Du Plessis said the targets in central Scotland were "highly prospective". He said: "This gives us exposure to new gold targets that have not previously been tested, but which are located in the highly prospective Grampian gold belt that already hosts some important gold deposits, such as Curraghinalt."  The project is 40km (24.8 miles) from Scotgold's mine at Cononish near Tyndrum, which is close to starting production.  Earlier this year, a gold hunter claimed to have discovered the UK's largest gold nugget in a Scottish river.

Scotland Election Results 2019: Sturgeon Says SNP Landslide 'Mandate for Indyref2'

The SNP has made big gains across Scotland, with Nicola Sturgeon saying the country had sent a "clear message" on a second independence referendum. With all of the Scottish results in, the SNP has won 48 of the country's 59 seats - 13 more than the 35 it won in 2017. The party also defeated Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson in East Dunbartonshire. Ms Sturgeon said the result had exceeded her expectations.  The SNP secured 45% of the votes - 8.1% more than in the last general election in 2017. Conservative secured 25.1% Labour 18.6%,
Liberal Democrat  9.5%  Green 1.0% The Brexit Party 0.5%     

Scotland  After 59 of 59 seats     
Scottish National Party SNP    won 48 seats +13 seats compared to 2017
Conservative CON                 won 6 seats Loss of 7 seats compared to 2017
Liberal Democrat LD              won 4 seats  +0 seats compared to 2017
Labour LAB                         won 1 seat Loss of  6 seats compared to 2017

However the Conservatives and Prime Minister Boris Johnson have won an overall majority across the UK after taking a string of former Labour strongholds in England and Wales.  Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was a "very disappointing night for the Labour Party" and confirmed he would not lead the party into the next election.

Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, had already pledged to send a letter to the prime minister before Christmas requesting that Holyrood be given the power to hold indyref2. Speaking at the Glasgow count, she said she would not pretend that everyone who voted for her party will necessarily support independence.  But she said it was a "clear endorsement Scotland should get to decide our future and not have it decided for us".  Ms Sturgeon added: "Scotland has sent a very clear message - we don't want a Boris Johnson government, we don't want to leave the EU.  The results across the rest of the UK are grim but underlines the importance of Scotland having a choice.  Boris Johnson has a mandate to take England out of the EU but he must accept that I have a mandate to give Scotland a choice for an alternative future."  The UK government's cabinet minister, Michael Gove, before the results started to be announced, said that he does not believe another independence referendum is inevitable. Labour's Ian Murray held on in Edinburgh South, meaning he is the only MP in Scotland. Mr Murray, a longstanding critic of Mr Corbyn, warned that his party's ideology must change or else it will "die" and said voters he spoke to on the doorsteps during this campaign did not see Mr Corbyn as prime minister and could not see Labour as a credible alternative government.  The SNP are once again the undoubted winners of the night, taking a slew of seats from their opponents including a big scalp in the form of Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson. The party haven't had it all their own way - running up against Tory resistance in a few seats and losing North East Fife to the Lib Dems - but Nicola Sturgeon's team have piled on thousands of votes in every seat and have already secured a landslide.  Labour, meanwhile, have collapsed across Scotland, with their share of the vote down sharply. They even lost the shadow Scottish secretary, Lesley Laird, to a candidate disowned by the SNP and who will sit as an independent.  The Conservatives have clinched victory UK-wide, but have lost a clutch of Scottish seats to the SNP - and will be wondering what this means for their campaign to "stop indyref2".  The Lib Dem vote share is up in most places, but any progress will be massively overshadowed by the loss of Ms Swinson. The party's leader has just gone from touting herself as a future prime minister to losing her seat for the second time in four years.

Message from Nicola Sturgeon
When I launched the SNP campaign just over a month ago, I could not reasonably have hoped for a more emphatic victory for the SNP in this election. Last night the SNP won an incredible 80% of seats in Scotland - an overwhelming endorsement of our campaign and message.  It is clear that that the kind of future desired by the majority in Scotland is different to that chosen by the rest of the UK. Scotland has rejected Boris Johnson and the Tories and, yet again, we have said no to Brexit.  This stunning election win last night for the SNP renews, reinforces and strengthens the mandate we have to offer the people of Scotland a choice over their future.  It is for the Scottish Parliament – not a Westminster government - to decide whether and when there should be a new referendum on independence.  So, given the verdict of the people of Scotland last night, the Scottish Government will next week publish the detailed democratic case for a transfer of power to enable a referendum to be put beyond legal challenge.  In an independent Scotland we will always get the governments we vote for. We will have full control of the powers and levers needed to build a truly fair and more prosperous country. We can take our place as an equal partner with our closest friends in the rest of the UK and across Europe.  The people of Scotland have spoken – it is time to decide our own future.