Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 537

Issue # 537                                                       Week ending Saturday 1st February 2020

Why, If We Can Have Alphabet Soup, Do We Not Have Punctuation Cereal?
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Being a bit of a nerd, I am one of those people who punctuates my text messages. It takes longer to remind Mrs X to get Marmite, few other people do it and sometimes I do ask myself why I even bother. “Get Marmite x” would convey the message just as well as “Please remember, my love, to get that brown sticky stuff you detest and which you think makes me stink of horrible, old beer barrels. Oh, in case you’re wondering, this is your husband, by the way.”

I was taught to punctuate, therefore I do. Punctuation has been in the news this week and it has brought home the importance of putting squiggles and periods in the right place. Let’s just take an ordinary sentence and see the difference some different punctuation can do to it. Take “There’s a Maypole dancer.” Lose the apostrophe and insert a comma and what do you get? “Theresa May, pole dancer.”

See? It’s very important. What’s the difference between a cat and a comma? A cat has claws at the end of its paws but a comma is a pause at the end of a clause.

The current fuss is over a comma allegedly missing from the new Brexit 50p coin. Not just a pointless furore but a pointless comma and, come to think of it, a pointless coin and a Brexit that is also ... yet to be proven to actually have a point. The coin is inscribed with the words “Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations”.

Some have decided that the serial comma should be introduced after the word friendship. They say it should be used in a list of three or more items before the word “and” or the word “or”. They say it has been in use for decades but cannot provide evidence while others claim it was just a quirk of a particular printer who worked with the mighty Oxford University Press in the late 1800s.

Then it died off but popped up again in 1978. The same comma is also called the Harvard Comma and the Americans have their own colourful theories about how the comma is from the US of A. I would love to tell you all about them but I only have 850 words, one life and you probably have some important tasks to complete like gulping down your morning cuppa, buttering your toast and then scoffing it. No, no comma after toast there.

More importantly, I was not taught to use the Oxford Comma in Bernera Primary by my inspiring teacher, Mrs Sheila Maciver. Miss Maciver taught me everything. Therefore, I do not accept that there is any such thing as an Oxford Comma. End of discussion. Full stop.
And stop the dieting. Every second TV show and magazine is packed with dieting tips for the new year. It is all a waste of time. You would be better off having a good old fry-up every morning instead as long as you cut out the snacking in-between. That is not just me saying that. That is bariatric surgeon Andrew Jenkinson who is fed up with having to deal with patients coming off diets and putting even more weight back on. In fact, he has written a book about his studies of 2,000 patients.

Just eat the freshest food you can with the least additives, he says. Fresh meat from a butcher is fine. Sausage, bacon, eggs and tomatoes are not a problem - just don’t eat too much. A proper cooked breakfast sets you up for the day, says Mr Jenkinson. You know something, my granny used to say exactly the same thing. Granny Murdina was no bariatric surgeon. She was a bit batty though.

And fresh fish - learn to love it. Seafood of all kinds is packed with goodness. Even picky people will take to fresh fish if they focus on the benefits. If they had been told there was no other option when they were young they wouldn’t be such spoilt brats now turning up their noses at fish later in life. Giving in easily to immature kids’ dislikes has ruined generations. Namby-pamby parents ought to be the ones punished.

Oh and be careful of foods which are branded vegan. Respected Scottish food writer Joanna Blythman, who researches what is in our grub, has found that some vegan-labelled products are “just high protein flours with gums and glues”. Yuck. She is on about meatless meat - those products that are made to look and taste like meat. Look her up on Twitter and see what she has recently found. Stomach-churning stuff.

Please forgive me if I’ve upset any readers when I was suggesting that your use of punctuation may have been wrong all this time. I just do not like over-punctuation. There are many times I use commas myself and I know that it can change the meaning of a sentence if you do not use one on occasion. For instance there are three things I love - eating my family and not using many commas.

Alcohol Off-Sales Fall in First Year of Minimum Pricing

The amount of alcohol sold in Scotland's shops fell during the first year of minimum pricing but sales increased south of the border.  NHS research found the volume of pure alcohol sold per person dropped from 7.4 to 7.1 litres - a fall of 3.6%.  In England and Wales - where minimum pricing was not implemented - the volume rose from 6.3 to 6.5 litres.  The biggest impact of minimum unit pricing (MUP) was on cider sales which fell by nearly a fifth (18.6%).  The price of cider rose from 13p per unit on average to 56p following the law change.  Fortified wine - which had no price change from 60p per unit - was the only drink to show an increase, up 16.4%.  Sales of spirits fell by 3.8%, wine fell 3% and beer sales dropped to 1.1%.  Minimum pricing saw the price of beer and spirits rise 6p per unit on average, to 57p and 58p respectively, while wine jumped by 14p to 61p.  MUP was finally introduced in Scotland in May 2018 after years of delays from legal challenges.  It targeted low cost, high strength products, seen as a source of problem drinking, by setting a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol.  The analysis - which compared the 12 months after implementation with the previous 12 months - found it led to an average increase of 5p per unit.  The reduction in pure alcohol sold was the equivalent of 26 units annually per person - about 12 pints of average strength beer.  Despite the reduction, the sales equate to every adult in Scotland drinking about 27 bottles of vodka a year.  Lucie Giles, public health intelligence adviser at NHS Health Scotland, said: "Today's findings show that the scale of change varies according to drink category.  For example, per adult sales of cider saw the greatest decrease, and this was likely to be associated with cider having the greatest relative increase in average sales price, once MUP came into force."  The researchers said it was unlikely the increase in alcohol sales in northern England was due to cross-border "booze cruises" because similar rises were also observed further south.  Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the findings showed Scotland was moving in the "right direction".  He added: "We have seen a change in the average price of alcohol, with the average price per unit rising by approximately 5p in Scotland compared to England and Wales. While the impact of reduced consumption will take a little longer to show, I remain convinced MUP is one of the main drivers in reducing alcohol harm."  British Medical Association Scotland chairman Dr Lewis Morrison said: "Minimum unit pricing is still in its infancy - we are not even two years into the policy - but already we seeing a change and that is extremely encouraging for its long-term strategy."  Alcohol Focus Scotland said other studies had suggested consumers were switching to smaller size packs and lower strength products.  Chief executive Alison Douglas said: "Even a small reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed in Scotland will mean fewer lives damaged by or lost to drink.  Increasing the price of alcohol is one of the most effective and cost-effective policy measures to reduce alcohol consumption and harm." The Scottish government has said it will review the level of minimum pricing after May, the second anniversary of the law coming into force.

Dumfries and Galloway Council Weighs Up Gaelic on Welcome Signs
A Scottish council is being asked to consider adding Gaelic to its welcome signs on roads entering the region.  There are currently 20 such boards on routes into Dumfries and Galloway - written only in English.  The chairman of promotion group Gàidhlig Dumgal has contacted the council to ask it to look at the move.  The organisation is particularly keen to see the bilingual signs on the entry routes into Galloway like the A75, A77, A714 and A713.  Why Dumfries and Galloway?  Gàidhlig Dumgal, the organisation set up nearly a decade ago to promote the language in the region, said there was a "a strong degree of interest" from locals and visitors alike in the Gaelic heritage of the area.  It added that there could be long-term economic benefits, as well as increasing awareness of the language.  The group said a form of Gaelic - Galwegian Gaelic - was spoken in Galloway from around the 5th Century to some time between 1600 and 1800.  Dumfries and Galloway Council's Gaelic Language Plan (GLP) has also recognised the "important role" it played in the linguistic heritage of the region.  "Gaelic speakers resident in our council area form a small but important and culturally active part of our community," it said.  Councils across Scotland have their own GLPs, which have been introduced at different times.  At present only five out of 32 local authorities told the BBC that they had their welcome signs in both English and Gaelic - Argyll and Bute, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highland, South Ayrshire and West Dunbartonshire.  However, a number of others are already on a similar path to the one being proposed in Dumfries and Galloway.  They have agreed to consider adding Gaelic to the signs as and when they need to be replaced.  A total of 13 said they had no plans to change their English-only welcome any time in the near future.  There are already Gaelic signs in Dumfries and Galloway at the border with England - as there are in the Scottish Borders - which welcome motorists to Scotland.  However, this would go further and see them introduced, gradually, at all entries to the region.  A report to councillors in Dumfries and Galloway said that if they wanted to go ahead with the move it could be done on a "cost neutral" basis.  That would mean signs in both languages would only be go up as part of its routine replacement programme or when the current ones are damaged beyond repair. The signs are, however, said to be quite durable which could mean several years will pass before all entries to the region would carry a Gaelic welcome.

Experts to Oversee Reviews of 80 Infection Cases At Glasgow Hospital

Two experts have been appointed to oversee a review of around 80 cases of infections at Glasgow's largest hospital complex.  The health board has faced a backlash over its infection control procedures after two children died.  Health Secretary Jeane Freeman also announced two paediatric cancer wards that closed in 2018 would not reopen till this summer at the earliest.  The first group of case reviews are due to begin in February.  Ms Freeman, who recently escalated special measures at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said she had not ruled out taking the health board to level five.  This means it would be deemed to be "unable to deliver effective care" and would require ministerial intervention.  The health board was partly placed in Stage 4 special measures in November - this was extended across the entire health board on Friday.  In a ministerial statement, Ms Freeman reiterated that families affected should "have their voices heard and their questions answered".  She also said all families would be given a face to face report once the reviews are complete.  The health board's chief executive Jane Grant welcomed the update, agreeing that families should be "at the centre of everything we do".  "We continue to work with Professor Marion Bain in the area of infection control and we welcome the opportunity now to work with Professor Mike Stevens and Gaynor Evans to address these issues and go on to rebuild the confidence of the public," she added.  Lead by Prof Bain, the review will cover infections in the paediatric haemato-oncology ward at the children's hospital since it opened in 2015.  It aims to discover whether children were put at risk because of their environment and whether the measures in place were effective in tackling these risks.  Independent experts Professor Mike Stevens and Gaynor Evans have been asked to prioritise the two fatal cases as well as those currently being treated.  Prof Stevens, of the University of Bristol, has more than 30 years of experience as a consultant paediatric oncologist in the UK.  Ms Evans is a registered nurse and NHS England's clinical lead for a programme to reduce infections across the health service until March 2020. Both children were patients on a ward affected by water contamination, with their deaths emerging after Labour MSP Anas Sarwar was contacted by a whistleblower.  Mr Sarwar said the latest move was a "step in the right direction" but the "heart of the problem" had not been dealt with, as he called for those responsible to be removed from their posts.  He said: "Those responsible for creating this mess can't be the ones to fix it. The health board leadership has lost the trust of patients, parents and the public - and those in charge must be removed."

Wick Kitchens Firm Ashley Ann Plans to Create New Jobs

Up to 40 new jobs could be created in Caithness as part of a company's expansion project. Ashley Ann Ltd, which designs and makes kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms, plans to invest more than £2m in its factory in Wick over the next five years.  The family-run firm is the largest private employer in Caithness and the addition of the new jobs would increase its workforce to more than 200 people.  It plans to make alterations to its factory and install new equipment.  Ashley Ann Ltd has secured £400,000 from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to help fund the work.  The company was set up in 1986 by Stephen and Ellen Bremner, initially operating from a small workshop in Thurso.  In 2007 it moved to larger premises in Wick, before it later leased additional warehouse space in the nearby former Caithness Glass premise.   The company bought the warehouse in 2018 with HIE's support.  Chairman Stephen Bremner said: "The long-term support from HIE has not only helped us on a financial level, but their expertise across a range of business disciplines has also helped give us the further confidence needed to forge ahead with our growth plans.  We're already the largest private employer in Caithness, so the additional increase in our workforce is a strong demonstration of our commitment to the region's economy."

Drunk Pushed Teenager on to Railway Track in Muir of Ord

A drunk pushed a teenage boy on to a railway track because the youngster had laughed at him, Inverness Sheriff Court was told.  James Wynn was in the railway station in Muir of Ord during the evening of Saturday, January 25 while two 14 year old boys were sitting on a bench.  Fiscal depute Robert Weir said that the 35 year old of Vulcan Cottage, Muir of Ord, responded to the boys shouting at him, by shouting and swearing back at them, saying he would "murder" them. "The teenagers were scared by this and one ran off only to be chased by Mr Wynn. Then the other boy was pushed on the body off the platform and on to the tracks.  Fortunately no trains were in or out of the station at the time but a train was due 20 minutes later. The boy suffered a mild concussion and a slight cut to the back of his head. Police were called and Wynn was quickly traced."  Wynn appeared from custody and admitted threatening behaviour and assault to injury.  Defence solicitor Neil Wilson said his client had been placed on a community payback order just six days ago and a background report would be required.  He said: "He was intoxicated and the boys were laughing at him." Sheriff Margaret Neilson said: "But he is 35 and they were only 14 years of age."  Mr Wilson acknowledged the sheriff's comment and added: "The best thing I can say for him is that he is pleading guilty at the first opportunity, accepting responsibility and avoiding the need for the two boys to go through the ordeal of a trial."  Wynn was remanded in custody pending sentence on February 13.

Snow Strands Drivers Overnight
(In the light of our heat thought you might like this-R)
Drivers were stranded on the M74 for several hours overnight as heavy snow hit parts of Scotland.  Commuters are facing wintry conditions with snow and ice affecting some parts of the country.  The Met Office has issued yellow warnings of snow and ice for most of the country and an ice warning for the north-east, which are valid until 11:00.  Forecasters warned that snow was likely on higher ground.  Police said the M74 was shut between junctions 14 and 15 northbound for a time overnight, but was passable with care on Tuesday morning.  One driver, Cheryl Burnett, told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme that it had taken her six and a half hours to travel from Dumfries to Glasgow.  "I left Dumfries just back of 21:00 and I didn't get to Glasgow until 03.30 this morning," she said. Ms Burnett said conditions on the motorway were "absolutely treacherous" with all three lanes blocked, causing miles of tailbacks.  "It took hours before a gritter could get anywhere near us and they had to use the hard shoulder. It was only when we did start moving that we realised that so many lorries had jack-knifed and had hit the barriers," she said. "I've never seen snow like that for such a long time."  Traffic Scotland said there were very snowy conditions across the trunk network on Tuesday and advised people to drive with care. Police in southern Scotland advised people to leave extra time for their journey and drive according to the conditions.  Transport Scotland said a number of incidents involving lorries on the M74 had led to "significant tailbacks" on the road.  A spokesman said: "Double treatments were carried out on the M74 before the snowfall and all available resources were deployed. Police Scotland issued travel advice ahead of the weather warnings and this was also communicated through Traffic Scotland, social media, and local radio bulletins.  We have also instructed our performance audit group to undertake a full review of the incidents and winter service provision to identify any lessons that can be learned."

Campaigners Welcome Fife Gas Plant Rejection At Hillend

Climate campaigners have welcomed a decision to reject plans for a new gas plant in Fife. Fife Council turned down the application for the facility in Hillend on Monday.  Hillend Action Group staged a protest outside the council building alongside Extinction Rebellion Fife and Friends of the Earth Scotland before the vote. A spokeswoman for the firm behind the plans, Gas Generation Growforth, declined to comment.  The 19.9MW electricity generation plant was planned so it could supplement renewable energy during peak demand. Plans showed it would be 125m in length, and it would have 10 chimneys measuring 14m (46ft) in height.  It was planned on a site 250m from houses.  Residents from the Hillend Action Group have been resisting the proposed development due to concerns about local air pollution and its contribution to the climate crisis.

Scottish Independence: MSPs Back New Referendum in Holyrood Vote

MSPs have backed calls for a new referendum on Scottish independence in a vote at Holyrood.  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a new poll later this year, and wants UK ministers to agree to this.  But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected her call for a transfer of powers, saying the 2014 vote was a "once in a generation" event.  MSPs voted by 64 to 54 to agree that circumstances have changed since then, and that "a referendum should be held".  The vote is not binding on the UK Westminster government, and Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said that the UK Westminster government's position was "not remotely" changed by it.  Ms Sturgeon is due to make a speech on Friday setting out the "next steps" in the "campaign to secure Scotland's future as an independent nation". Ms Sturgeon formally requested a transfer of powers - similar to that which underpinned the 2014 referendum - after the SNP won 48 of Scotland's 59 seats in December's general election.  Mr Johnson replied that he could "not agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums".

Nicola Sturgeon’s Statement on Scotland’s Future
(with some slight edits-R)
This is a pivotal moment for the UK and Scotland.  Tonight, the UK will leave the European Union.  That will be a moment of real and profound sadness for many of us across the UK. And here in Scotland, given that it is happening against the will of the vast majority of us, that sadness will be tinged with anger.  It would be easy to dwell on that.  On what is being taken away from us.  But that is not what I want to do today. Instead I want to focus on something much more important.  Hope of a different and better future for Scotland.  A future in which our path as a country is determined by those who care most about Scotland’s interests – all of us who live here.  A future in which we don’t have to choose between a relationship with our closest friends across the British Isles and our ties with Europe – but can instead build and nurture both.  A future where our own Parliament and Government – accountable to the people of Scotland – are responsible for the decisions and the international partnerships that shape our direction and our destiny.  A future where we continue to be an open, welcoming place to live, study and work.  And a valued member of the European family of nations.  After tonight, that future is only open to us with independence.  Our task is to persuade a majority of people in Scotland to choose it.  So I want to focus today on the work we need to do to persuade a majority in Scotland that independence is the right choice – and how in the process of doing that, we will secure our right to choose it in a referendum. Of course, people have differing views on whether or not Scotland should be independent, but the case for us having the right to make that choice is overwhelming.  As of 11pm tonight, the UK that Scotland voted to remain part of in 2014 – a UK inside the EU – will no longer be a reality.  The status quo that a majority voted for will no longer exist.  There will be a material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014.  Leaving the EU is a fundamental change in Scotland’s constitution.  The consequences will be significant, even if they are not all felt immediately.  Right now, Scotland does not have the powers to mitigate many of these consequences let alone avoid them altogether. And the UK Westminster Government has shown no interest at all in finding ways to accommodate our distinctive views and interests.  Take the vital issue of migration.  On Monday I published proposals that would, in a post Brexit world and within current constitutional arrangements, allow Scotland to address our distinctive population challenge.  These proposals have significant support from across civic Scotland and the business community. And yet within hours and with no consideration whatsoever they were dismissed out of hand.  Fewer people able to come to Scotland to live and work risks a working age population going into decline. That means fewer people available to do the jobs that need done in our private businesses and public sector, including our NHS. And it means fewer people paying the taxes that we need to fund these public services.  It means an economy stagnating not growing, and Scotland not reaching our full potential.  That is just one way in which we know already and with certainty that the folly of Brexit coupled with the deaf ear of Westminster will damage Scotland’s prosperity and wellbeing.  And as will become stark in the months ahead, it will not be the only consequence of Brexit that will be harmful to Scotland.  Exactly how Brexit will develop beyond tonight is not yet certain.  Negotiations about the terms and nature of the UK’s new relationship with the EU haven’t started yet. New cliff edges have been created by the UK Government and a devastating No deal outcome at the end of the transition remains possible.  For my part, I hope that the future relationship will be a close one, and I will do all I can to encourage that.  But be under no illusion.  All the signs from this Tory government are that instead of co-operation and close relationships they are heading for divergence and de-regulation.  What that will mean in the future for workers’ rights and environmental protection, for the shape of our economy and the nature of our society will be profound.  And, while this will be of little interest to a Tory government, the impact will be felt most by those who already have the least – the vulnerable and the poor.  So we know that change is coming.  But it does not have to be the change the Tories want to impose on Scotland.  A new independence referendum will put the decision about the best path for Scotland into our own hands.  And there is a mandate from the public and from the Scottish Parliament for a referendum.  The SNP has won three successive parliamentary elections on the commitment to give people the choice.  And this week the Scottish Parliament has endorsed that position. That the Tories are trying to block a referendum only shows their contempt for democracy in Scotland.  And – somewhat counter productively for them – it serves to illustrate how unequal this supposedly equal union is.  Fundamentally, the Tory position is a sign of weakness not strength.  If they had any confidence in the argument for the Westminster union, they would have no problem with the people of Scotland having the right to choose. It is the fear of defeat that is making them so desperate to deny us the choice.  And we should draw great encouragement from that.  What we in the independence movement must not do is allow a sense of frustration – understandable though it may be – to take us down dead ends or weaken our sense of purpose.  We mustn’t let the Tories turn a positive, persuasive and invigorating discussion about the best future for our country, into an arid and bitter argument about process and procedure.  We must stay the course – even if it sometimes feels difficult. And that’s not caution talking. It’s realism.  For me to pretend that there are shortcuts or clever wheezes that can magically overcome the obstacles we face might make my life easier in the short term – but it would do a long term disservice to the independence cause that I, like so many, have dedicated my life to.  My job is to lead us down a credible path that can deliver independence.  And that is what I am absolutely determined to do.  To achieve independence, a referendum, whenever it happens – whether it is this year as I want, or after the next Scottish election – must be legal and legitimate. That is a simple fact.  It must demonstrate that there is majority support for independence.  And its legality must be beyond doubt. Otherwise the outcome, even if successful, would not be recognised by other countries.  And the best way to achieve that, even though it may not be ideal, is to reach agreement on a transfer of power to the Scottish Parliament, just as we did for 2014.  It has been suggested, though, that in the absence of such an agreement, it might be legal for the Scottish Parliament to hold a consultative referendum – to establish the opinion of the Scottish people even though agreement would still be required to implement a pro independence outcome. The issue of whether the specific constitutional reservation in the Scotland Act puts any form of independence referendum outside the powers of the Scottish Parliament – or instead leaves open scope for a non-binding consultative vote – has never been tested in court.  That means it cannot be said definitively that it would not be legal, but equally it cannot be described as being beyond legal doubt.  If a proposal for a referendum on that basis was brought forward it would be challenged in court.  If a court ruled that it was legal, it wouldn’t be a “wildcat referendum” as our opponents like to brand it – it would be within the power of the Scottish Parliament.  Should the UK Westminster Government continue to deny Scotland’s right to choose, we may reach the point where this issue does have to be tested.  I am not ruling that out.  But I also have to be frank. The outcome would be uncertain. There would be no guarantees.  It could move us forward – but equally it could set us back.  So my judgment at this stage is that we should use our energies differently.  We must focus firmly on building and winning the political case for independence.  That is necessary to win a referendum.  But it is also how we will secure one.  And though we have made much progress – as yesterday’s opinion poll showed – we have more work to do.  So let me set out some of the steps we will take.  Firstly, I will continue to do all that I can to secure a referendum this year.  Brexit has put Scotland on the wrong road. And the further down it we go, the longer it will take and the harder it will be to get back on the right one. We need back on the right road as soon as possible.  To that end, we have informed Parliament this morning, that following the passage of the Referendums Bill at the end of last year and this week’s vote in favour of a referendum, we will ask the Electoral Commission to re-test the question – ‘should Scotland be an independent country?’  That question is simple, intelligible and well recognised across the country, but Parliament made clear it wanted it re-tested and it is the next practical step we need to take within our powers to prepare for a referendum.  We will also build on the vote in Parliament this week by seeking to broaden the coalition of support for Scotland’s right to choose.  In the first instance we will invite Scotland’s elected representatives – MSPs, MPs, the MEPs elected last year and council leaders – to come together to endorse a modern Claim of Right for Scotland through a new Constitutional Convention.  To declare that it is for the Scottish Parliament to decide whether and when there should be an independence choice and build support for that principle amongst civic Scotland.  In the SNP and in the Scottish Government we will also step up work on building the substantive case for independence.  In September I confirmed that the Scottish Government would start the work needed to ensure that people have the information they need to make informed choices about the future of the country.  In the coming months, the Scottish Government will publish the outcome of that work.  The “New Scotland” series of papers will seek to provide the information and answers people want.  They will provide detail on how Scotland can make the transition from a Yes vote to becoming an independent country.  And they will set out ideas and options for how we can use the powers of independence to build a better future – to grow a stronger and more sustainable economy, tackle poverty and inequality, better meet the climate challenge and expand opportunity for our country and for each and every person who lives here.  The work of the SNP’s Social Justice Commission is a vital part of this and is well underway, engaging with organisations across Scotland.  The Commission will shortly publish proposals for wider debate in the SNP and across the country on how we can use the powers of independence to make Scotland the fairer country we all want it to be.  And from the Spring, we will respond to the report of the Citizens Assembly and engage with its views on what kind of Scotland people want to see and how we can achieve it.  We will do all of this recognising that the SNP is only one voice, and that policy in an independent Scotland will be determined by the outcomes of democratic elections.  Persuading those who are not yet persuaded requires information and answers, but at its heart it requires conversation.  And as we showed in December’s general election – when we do the work and offer leadership and vision, we can and we do win.  There are many people who voted No in 2014 now thinking about independence differently in light of Brexit.  We must show that we understand the complexity of the issues they grapple with and that for many emotions will be mixed. So we must make our case with passion but also with patience and respect.  And we must never stoop to the level of our political opponents. Boris Johnson has demonstrated that in this debate there is no line he will not cross.  It’s not just his dismissal of election results in Scotland and his derision at votes in the Scottish Parliament.  This week he described serious, considered and widely supported Scottish Government proposals on migration as “deranged”.  The Tories are not governing Scotland – they are goading Scotland.  But as a wise woman once said – when they go low, we go high. So let’s keep focused on the job at hand – and take heart from the fact that we are winning. And independence has never been closer.  The strength of our values.  The strength of our vision of an open, progressive, outward looking Scotland for all who live here, no matter where they come from.  An independent Scotland will be born from the strength of our capacity to persuade.  History tells us that change often comes quickly after many years when the obstacles seemed great.  Or as the great Nelson Mandela said – ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’.  In Scotland I believe we are on the cusp of such a moment. Now is the time to stay focused and resolute. It is time to build our strength to secure the right to choose and win Scotland’s independence.

Vandals Daub Glue in Edinburgh Tourist Attraction Toilets

Top tourist attractions in Edinburgh have been targeted by vandals who daubed glue in the toilets.  Police are investigating two incidents at the National Museum of Scotland on Friday and another at the Festival Theatre.  On one occasion a child's snowsuit became stuck to a baby changing table in the museum.  Officers said the glue was applied to different areas of the toilets.  Insp Trish Robertson said: "Thankfully nobody has been seriously injured as a result of these incidents, however these thoughtless acts were extremely irresponsible and could have potentially harmed young children."