Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 624

Issue # 624                                                  Week ending Saturday 16th October 2021
My Advice to Boris Johnson is to Boldly Go and Cross That Bridge When He Comes to it by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Shepard. Its 10-minute mission: to look down on our strange new world. To boldly go where, actually, quite a few have gone before and then come back again in time for tea. Nah, it doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, does it?

They’ll probably be up there by the time you read this. Star Trek actor William Shatner and his crewmates were due to blast off at 1.30pm, our time, unless they’re delayed again by wind. Wind is a terrible problem for such missions because capsules are small. It’s not as if you can open a window.

As Captain James Tiberius Kirk, of the USS Starship Enterpise (NCC-1701), he pretended to live in space. Now aged 90 but looking and sounding like someone 30 years younger, Shatner has come clean. He is planking it. The cool, calm Capt Kirk admits he’s scared witless and this time second officer Spock is not ready with Vulcan logic.

I know you said you wouldn’t want to hear the words: “Houston, we have a problem.” That’s because you want to live long and prosper. I get it. This is just 10 minutes. You will be the oldest person ever to have gone into space. It’ll be a short holiday. Like Boris Johnson and family are having in Marbella. There’s a lot of fuss about it and the problem is that Boris is very recognisable so it could be short.

The PM should come to the west of Scotland again. They got an Airbnb in Applecross last year but tabloids found them. Come to the island of Great Bernera instead. We have a new replacement metal bridge almost complete now. It’s still a secret, but it’ll actually be a drawbridge. When locals on Bernera see anyone dodgy hanging around Earshader, they will just pull the ropes and up it will come like Tower Bridge to keep undesirables off Paradise Island.

Over there, Boris can loudly sing to his wife that Dr Hook song he declined to at their wedding. “And he said, Come on Carrie, carry me a little farther. Come on Carrie, carry me one more mile.”

Meanwhile, Mr Shatner and crewmates hope to get to inner space about 62 miles up. That’ll be at the Kármán line. It’s like a Brexit border, but in the sky. Sixty two miles. That’s like going from the centre of Aberdeen to the middle of Elgin - but vertically. Ah right, that could be challenging. Doable but you would rather not on a wet and windy winter’s night.

Weather doesn’t bother anyone up in the great beyond. It is so quiet in space because there’s no air to carry sound. What was that famous ominous line from the film Alien? “In space, no one can hear you scream.” When they had a practice run the other day, William S went to make a coffee. He told the other astronaut he couldn’t find the milk. His crewmate replied: "In space, no one can. Here, use cream.”

Prince Charles doesn’t use cream but cheese to power his ancient jalopy. He rambled on around the Balmoral garden, throwing a bit of shade on the government’s climate commitment, saying youngsters are frustrated with uncommitted adults and praising Greta Thunberg. The heir to the throne sounded very sensible, actually. He confirmed he had electric cars and then he said: “My old Aston Martin, which I've had for 51 years, runs on, can you believe this, surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process.”

I use cheese and wine for energy too. In my case, it’s Sauvignon Blanc and Welsh rarebit.

While HRH is using food as energy in an unusual way, something else is trying to get food in an unusual way. Scientists have discovered crabs like to gnaw on undersea power cables. Brown crab like nothing better than getting their claws into a PLUTO - a pipeline under the ocean to you, landlubbers. So that’s why the cable under the Minch taking power from Harris to Skye and beyond snapped last year? Brown crabs could have been nibbling it in the octopus’s garden in the shade (hat tip to writer Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr).

News just in from the spaceship ... William Shatner spotted a 10-dollar bill on the capsule floor. As he bent down, one of the other crewmates claimed he saw it first. There was an argument.

Whose ten? We have a problem ...

Call for Gordonstoun to Fund Mental Health Support for Abused Pupils
A former pupil has said the elite Gordonstoun school should set up a trust to help those who suffered abuse access mental health treatment.   He said the boarding school should take responsibility for abuse he and others suffered at Aberlour House in Moray.  It was then considered a prep school for Gordonstoun. The schools have since merged.  John Findlay told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry he was sexually abused by a teacher in 1990 at the age of 12.  The inquiry is currently looking at allegations of abuse in boarding schools.  Mr Findlay - who waived his right to anonymity - told the inquiry he was boarding at Aberlour House when, after a rugby match, he needed painkillers.   He said an English teacher gave him what he thought was medicine and soon after the man came into his dormitory and sexually abused him.   Mr Findlay told the inquiry he could not move or speak during the attack but was conscious of what was happening.  When he confronted the teacher later, he said he was told he must have imagined what happened because of the pain relief he had been given.   The matter was taken up with a senior official at the school and Mr Findlay said he understood that his parents agreed not to pursue police action after being assured the man would never teach again.  He said he discovered the man went on to teach in England where he ended up leaving in similar circumstances. After that, he went to teach at a school in Kenya.   The man has now died.   Mr Findlay said he still suffers from severe anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).   Mr Findlay said his parents regretted not pursuing police action, and he feels the police should have investigated irrespective of his parents' and the school's thoughts.   He told the BBC he did not blame his parents or the school but that his abuser should have been prosecuted.   "The fact he went on to teach and abuse other individuals is disgusting," he added.  Mr Findlay called on Gordonstoun to set up a trust to fund mental health support for former pupils who have survived abuse.  He said: "Gordonstoun has the opportunity here to stand up and do the right thing and that is to look after former pupils by providing care and medical attention that's needed and prescribed with regards to mental illnesses."   Aberlour House and Gordonstoun had links but were separate legal entities until they merged in 1999.  The school has previously offered "a very sincere apology to anyone who has suffered abuse either at Gordonstoun or Aberlour House".  He is due to meet the current principal of Gordonstoun to discuss the issue next month.   Another witness, referred to only as Paul to protect his anonymity, told the inquiry that Gordonstoun did not listen when abuse was reported in 1989.  The former pupil - who says he was groomed by another teacher, later convicted of child sex abuse - told the inquiry if Gordonstoun had listened then the abuse might not have happened.   Paul said this teacher abused him when he was a teenager, after the teacher formed a friendship with him.   In 2018, the teacher was jailed for grooming several pupils at Gordonstoun. He was freed after six months.   Paul told the inquiry he had almost never spoken to anyone else about the abuse he suffered at Gordonstoun throughout his adult life, but decided to speak to the police after hearing the teacher's conduct towards other pupils was being investigated.   He said: "I couldn't let someone stand up alone and go through all that."   Paul said that initially his relationship with the teacher was like a friendship, and he would take part in activities the teacher ran.  He said other children warned him that the teacher could be "handsy".  At one point, he invited Paul to the school's swimming pool. Paul said that when he arrived the teacher removed his swimming costume and invited Paul to do the same, though he decided to leave.  During another incident, Paul said the teacher groped him as he was playing a computer game.   Paul told the inquiry: "I tried to block it out, I can literally still see the screen in front of me... it's crystal clear."   During his evidence session on Tuesday, Paul said he was aware of at least five other victims, three of whom were involved in the criminal case against the teacher.    He said: "The most distressing, critical failure at the time was that Gordonstoun didn't listen to someone who reported abuse at the start of 1989.  Had they listened, potentially the abuse that happened to me would not have happened."   Paul, who is now in his 40s, said the abuse he suffered at Gordonstoun had affected the rest of his life.  The inquiry is due to hear evidence from Gordonstoun's current principal, Lisa Kerr, again later this week.  Ms Kerr gave evidence to the inquiry in March and apologised on behalf of the school to those who had suffered abuse, saying: "I'd like to offer a very sincere apology to anyone who has suffered abuse either at Gordonstoun or Aberlour House."  The inquiry, before Judge Lady Smith, continues.

COP26: Huge Scarf Being Stitched Together for Climate Conference
A group of knitters from across the UK are making a scarf which will be 1.5 miles (2.4km) long to mark a UN climate conference taking place in Glasgow.  Different segments have been made by hundreds of knitters and it is all being stitched together now ahead of COP26.  The segments have messages about climate change and the environment which ask the delegates to take urgent action.  The length reflects the 1.5C of the Paris Agreement - the goal to limit global warming to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels.   It is the idea of a woman from Edinburgh and will be featured in Glasgow Green during the conference.

Employment Rate in Scotland Continues to Rise
The number of people in employment in Scotland continued to rise slightly in the past three months, according to official figures.  The Office for National Statistics said more than 2,630,000 people aged 16-64 were working between June and August.  It followed another slight increase in last month's figures.  The latest rate of 74.3% was 0.3 of a percentage point up on the previous quarter but still 1.1 percentage points lower than pre-pandemic levels.  Scotland and London are the only parts of the UK where employment remains lower than before the coronavirus pandemic.  Across the UK last month, there was an employment rate of 75.3% and the number of job vacancies in hit a 20-year high.  The unemployment rate in Scotland remained at 4.4%.  Employment minister Richard Lochhead said the Scottish government would "continue to do all we can to support employees and employers" following the end of the UK Westminster government's furlough scheme.  He said: "In 2021/22, we will invest more than £1bn to create jobs and ensure people have the skills needed to meet the economic opportunities of the future.  Mr Lochhead added the UK Westmnster government "needs to take action on immigration policy" to help solve the vacancy rate challenges.  Scottish Secretary Alister Jack welcomed the latest figures.  He said: "The UK Westminster government's priority is getting people back into work - so it is pleasing to see the latest employment figures once again show positive signs of recovery for Scotland with more people returning to employment.  Our Plan for Jobs is helping people secure well-paid, skilled employment as we build back better from the pandemic, and we will continue to do all we can to see our economy flourish again."  The furlough, or job retention scheme, came to an end on 30 September.   According to research by the Resolution Foundation, almost one million workers were believed to still be on the scheme when it closed.  Many forecasters, including the Bank of England, said they would expect a small rise in unemployment after the scheme was scrapped.  Yael Selfin, chief economist at KPMG UK, said labour market shortages "could stunt" the UK's economic recovery from the pandemic.  "The recovery is testing the capacity of the economy to adjust to a new post-pandemic environment, a task made more difficult by the reduced availability of overseas workers," she said.  "Acute skill shortages have pushed vacancies to record levels for a second month in a row in September, as employers struggled to find skilled staff."

Lorna Slater: COP26 Protests 'Must Not Endanger Human Life'
Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has backed protestors who plan to cause disruption during COP26 but said they must not endanger human life.   The global event is expected to attract demonstrators to Glasgow in large numbers and it is likely some will attempt to block roads.   Police Scotland has said it would facilitate safe and peaceful protest.  Ms Slater told BBC Scotland's Sunday Show she sympathises with those who believe more action is needed. The biodiversity minister said: "Protest is meant to be disruptive and we do have a legal right to protest in the country which should, absolutely, be protected.  If you think a couple of weeks of disruption of protests is upsetting wait until you see Glasgow half under water when we reach 3.5 degrees of global warming.  That will be very disruptive."   Both Ms Slater and her Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie have said they plan to join protests at COP26.  The UN summit will be held at the Scottish Event Campus from 31 October until 12 November.  World leaders, including US President Joe Biden, are expected to attend and it is will to be policed by about 10,000 officers a day.   In England hundreds of climate protesters from Insulate Britain have been arrested in recent weeks after blocking major roads including motorways.   The group is supported by some members of Extinction Rebellion (XR), which also uses disruptive tactics to campaign for climate action.   Asked where she would draw the line, Ms Slater made reference to the protests south of the border.   She said: "I would draw the line at things that would endanger human life.   For example there was a rumour, that has since been disproved, that some protestors were stopping emergency vehicles. That turned out not to be true but, of course, protestors must allow emergency services through."  On road blockades, she added: "Extinction Rebellion have done it several times but they always make sure the emergency services can get through."

How Are the Scottish Greens Settling in to Government?
The Scottish Green Party has held its first conference as a party of government, with leaders promising that they are "only just getting started" with tackling climate change.   The party has a less prominent position in parliament now, having forfeited speaking slots at Holyrood's primetime events like first minister's questions in its deal with the SNP. But with Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater in ministerial offices, will they be able to deliver on big policies and make the pact worthwhile?   The partnership had a difficult first few weeks, with events conspiring to throw up a series of wedge issues which threatened to drive the two parties apart.   There was the Cambo oil field, and Nicola Sturgeon's attempt to sit on the fence about it even as the co-operation agreement was being finalised.  Then there was vaccine passports, which the Greens had been quite critical of but were bound into backing amid constant opposition pressure.  This rocky start was in many ways an object lesson for the Greens in the trade-offs involved in government, where pragmatism is often as important as principle.  James Shaw - a co-leader of the New Zealand Greens who are part of a similar partnership arrangement - told the Scottish party that they would have to "swallow a few dead rats" in order to occupy a position of influence.   They might have hoped to wait a little longer before tucking in, but the good news for the Greens is that the partnership stood the test. Perhaps it will be all the stronger for having been tempered in the heat of a political rammy, rather than having a stress-free honeymoon period.  And they can now look ahead to opportunities as well as challenges, with the COP26 summit in Glasgow looming.  On the eve of the conference, Patrick Harvie made his first ministerial statement to the Holyrood chamber - a landmark moment for Green politics in the UK.   It was also another crash-course in the challenges of government, as the minister faced tough questions about how to pay for a decarbonisation project which could cost £33bn.   It will be interesting to see if these parliamentary set-pieces become a more regular feature as Mr Harvie and his co-leader Lorna Slater settle into their roles. As it stands, other than popping up to answer the occasional portfolio question they seem to have disappeared into the depths of St Andrew's House.   Perhaps this is understandable, as they adapt to new circumstances and get their feet under the table. But as part of a large team of junior ministers, Mr Harvie and Ms Slater may ultimately have a similar profile to that of, say, Ben Macpherson or Ash Denham - regardless of how ably they lead their portfolios, they do not enjoy hours of airtime.  There is a ministerial pecking order, which starts (and often ends) with Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney, before moving to cabinet-level ministers and only then to more junior figures.  This taps into an age-old dilemma for politicians, and a familiar one from the Labour Party's latest bout of introspection. Would you rather be seen and heard and "win the argument", or actually get stuff done with less in the way of bombast?  Governing is not a straightforward business, particularly when you want to make radical changes. Guiding a single piece of legislation through parliament requires countless hours of consultation, wrangling with lawyers over redrafts, seemingly endless committee appearances, and horse-trading over tinkering amendments.  Most of that graft does not take place in the Holyrood chamber or in front of a camera. Mr Harvie and Ms Slater may become more anonymous figures than they were during the election campaign, or even at any point when the Greens were in opposition - but they could have the reward of seeing some of their policies become laws, a legacy which will last far longer than a good clip from FMQs.  It isn't just the Green leaders who have experienced a trade-off of airtime for influence.   The party has had to give up many of its prime speaking slots at Holyrood; at first minister's questions, responding to statements and motions, and in leading their own chamber debates.   And with the co-leaders closeted in ministerial offices and Alison Johnstone off to become presiding officer, it has been left to less experienced voices to take centre stage at Holyrood.   Ross Greer, recently the parliament's youngest-ever MSP, is now an elder statesman of the Green MSP group, while newly-elected Gillian Mackay has been catapulted into a lead role.  This might chiefly be of interest to dedicated viewers of Parliament TV - a small but proud slice of the voting population, for all that it has a knock-on effect in how much coverage the Greens get in broadcast reports and print media.   The thing is, the very fact of the deal, giving the government an automatic majority and neutering the opposition, has taken some of the intrigue out of proceedings at Holyrood. There is little jeopardy or risk of an upset.  This security is essentially what the SNP were looking for in the pact, and as such it may be in the party's interest to give their junior partner the odd headline-grabbing platform in parliament.   But with the government more comfortable than at any point since the SNP took power, it could well be preferable to have a small voice inside the administration than a big one in opposition.   Green issues will be to the fore in the immediate future, thanks to the COP26 summit in Glasgow.   It is not yet entirely clear what Nicola Sturgeon's role is to be in the conference itself, so it is equally mysterious what part her junior ministers might play.   But the hope is that the event will set the table for a longer political conversation about climate change and what can and must be done about it.   The plan for the Greens is that from within government, their part in that conversation can be a prominent one - perhaps even beyond the domestic stage.    In any case, it is far too early to evaluate whether the SNP-Green deal is working out. The pact is only six weeks old, and is due to run for a five-year parliamentary term.   Change does not happen quickly, and nor does legislation. It may be years before we can properly determine what the Greens have got out of it, and what they have had to give up in return.  And obviously, the ultimate jury will be the electorate. Five years is a long time in politics, and if things go to plan for the SNP and Greens, Scotland could be a very different country by the time voters next go to the polls to elect MSPs.

COP26: Cruise Ship Arrives on River Clyde to Accommodate Summit Goers
The first of two cruise ships that will provide accommodation for people attending the COP26 summit has arrived in Scotland.   The Latvian-flagged Romantika has berthed at King George V dock, next to Braehead Shopping Centre in Renfrew.   A second vessel, the MS Silja Europa, will arrive from Estonia in the coming days.  Up to 25,000 government representatives, media and campaigners are expected to be in Glasgow.  Concerns have been raised about the cost and availability of accommodation in the city for the climate summit, which takes place from 31 October until 12 November.   Paavo Nõgene, chief executive of the ship owner Tallink, described the decision to bring a second ship to Scotland as a "last-minute agreement".  Each member of the United Nations has been invited to Glasgow, meaning nearly 120 heads of state are expected to attend along with around 20,000 accredited delegates.   Last Friday, it emerged Pope Francis will not travel to Scotland but US President Joe Biden has said he is "anxious" to be there and the Queen has confirmed she will attend.  Meanwhile, BBC Scotland has found evidence that a squeeze on available accommodation has sent prices soaring in Glasgow.   One room in the city advertised as £42 per night on Monday is being advertised as costing £1,400 per night during the summit.   Fiona Hooker, of the Stop Climate Chaos Scotland campaign, said the cost and availability of accommodation was "a huge concern" for activists attending the summit.   She said: "It's incredible that they can charge so much.  What people are looking for is a place to stay with a local person and the chance to feel part of the event."  Restaurateur and property owner Charan Gill, who became known as Glasgow's "Curry King" and is one of the country's top entrepreneurs, called the practice "opportunistic".  He told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime with John Beattie that he would not increase rents because it was damaging to the city's reputation.   "Sometimes you have to pay a premium," he said. "But there has to be some sort of moral compass where we say surely this is wrong.  You will not live off this money forever - fine, you might make an extra few hundred or thousand pounds here and there. At the end of the day you have to go back to your normal people, your normal market, your normal tenants who keep your bread buttered."   Airbnb told the BBC they would donate all revenue from stays in Glasgow during the summit to Zero Waste Scotland.  A spokesperson said: "We are offering Glaswegians an incentive to start hosting in an effort to provide more accommodation during a unique event and to address a significant accommodation shortage.   The expected attendance for COP26 is double that of local hotel capacity and hosting helps cities like Glasgow use existing space to scale up and welcome major events."  Nearly 700 households have signed up to the COP26 Homestay Network.  Operated by the third sector, the initiative is asking people to open their doors and provide affordable or free accommodation to COP26 attendees.  But Jillian Evans, the head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, told BBC Scotland she had some concerns about this plan.   She said: "People coming from different parts of the world, some where the vaccination programme is not the same as ours, there are risks associated with that.   Then you put people in touch with one another, in folk's homes, and that increases the risk even more."   A COP26 spokesperson told the BBC: "As hosts of COP26 it is of huge importance to the UK there are a wide range accommodation options available which suit the requirement of delegates attending from around the world.  We have been working with our hotel provider, MCI, to make sure this is the case."    The COP26 global climate summit in Glasgow in November is seen as crucial if climate change is to be brought under control. Almost 200 countries are being asked for their plans to cut emissions, and it could lead to major changes to our everyday lives.

Scotrail and Caledonian Sleeper Strike Confirmed During COP26
Scotland's rail network will be hit by strikes during the UN climate summit in Glasgow, a union has confirmed.   The RMT said members who work for ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper will stage industrial action during COP26 in an ongoing row over pay.   ScotRail staff will strike from 00:01 on Monday 1 November until 23:59 on Friday 12th November.  The summit, which is expected to draw thousands of people to Glasgow, runs from 31 October until 12 November.   Sleeper staff will strike on Sunday 31 October from 11:59 until 11:58 hours on Tuesday 2 November and again for 48 hours on Thursday 11 November from 11:59.   GMB cleansing workers in Glasgow and Unite's Stagecoach staff have also voted to strike during COP26.  A spokesman for ScotRail said the "highly damaging" strike action was "extremely disappointing" as it faced a serious financial crisis in the wake of the pandemic.   It is the latest stage in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions and proposed cuts to services at the rail operator, which wants to reduce the number of services across Scotland by 300 a day from next May.   Unions and management were due to meet on Tuesday afternoon, when a fresh offer was expected to be made to workers.   But on Thursday, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Both ScotRail and the Caledonian Sleeper have had adequate time to come up with a fair pay settlement for Scotland's rail workers in advance of COP26. Instead they have kicked the can down the road and left us with no option but to put this action on today.  We know that these strikes will close rail services in Scotland but the blame for that lies with Abellio, SERCO [operator of Caledonian Sleeper] and the political leadership at Holyrood."   ScotRail is currently run by Dutch firm Abellio - but will be taken over by a company owned and controlled by the Scottish government in March next year.   The move was announced by the government earlier this year after Abellio was stripped of its contract three years early amid concern over its performance.   ScotRail has been in talks for several weeks with trade unions about pay and conditions. A formal written offer was made to four rail trade unions - Aslef, RMT, TSSA, and Unite the union.   The company said it had only survived the pandemic due to emergency taxpayer support of more than £400m in "the most serious financial crisis in our history".  A spokesman said: "It's extremely disappointing that the RMT have opted to continue with this highly damaging strike action, particularly when a pay offer, negotiated over several weeks, has been made to the trade unions.   We're seeing customers gradually return to Scotland's Railway, but the scale of the financial situation ScotRail is facing is stark.  To build a more sustainable and greener railway for the future and reduce the burden on the taxpayer, we need to change. All of us in the railway - management, staff, trade unions, suppliers, and government - need to work together to modernise the railway so that it is fit for the future."   Transport Scotland said it welcomed constructive talks between all parties and that a "significant offer" has been made by employers since the RMT ballot opened.  A spokeswoman said: "We understand that the RMT will now ballot its membership again on the substance of this offer. We hope that RMT members and the other unions will agree and accept this offer, putting to an end existing and proposed industrial disputes and action.  Rail workers have played their part in keeping the country moving through the pandemic and we are sure that they will see the importance of the moment and the role they can play in showing the best Scotland's Railway has to offer as we welcome world leaders from across the globe to COP26."

COP26: Protesters Who Block Major Roads 'Will Be Moved' by Police
Protesters who block major roads during the UN climate conference in Glasgow will be moved and may face arrest, police have said.  Police Scotland said this would apply even if the COP26 protests are peaceful as they could be unlawful and unsafe.   Dep Ch Con Will Kerr told BBC Scotland officers have a "whole range of tactics" to use in such circumstances.   Although disruption is expected, DCC Kerr insisted emergency services would still respond to those who need them.   "Some protesters will inevitably try and block some roads. If it's not a main arterial route, we'll take a sensible proportionate approach to it.," he said.   "If it's a main route, if it involves movement plans for the world leaders, if it involves major disruption to the life of the city, then we will move in and if the protesters won't move, we will remove them."  Asked how quickly the police would move people, he said: "It depends on how many people, what the environment is, but it also depends on how quickly we need to move for the safety of the protesters themselves.   Running on to major roads to try and block it is a very unsafe thing to do. If we need to step in quickly, we will step in quickly."  The force said that because the UN actively encourages protest, certain groups have been accredited and assigned a time and venue to gather.   Police Scotland has met with a number of groups to discuss how the event will be policed, including Extinction Rebellion.   Assistant Chief Constable Bernie Higgins said there was "no one size fits all to protest".   "Some groups will do a lie in," he said. "If people want to go to George Square and lie down, crack on, because you're really not going to have much impact on the conference.   If however you decide to try and shut the Kingston Bridge then that's really, really dangerous for yourself, it's really, really dangerous to other road users and potentially it would prevent ambulances responding to calls so we would move very swiftly to clear that area and it would result in arrests."   He added that police could put diversions in place if protesters block minor routes.    About 10,000 officers will be deployed each day to the conference in Glasgow next month, where around 120 world leaders and heads of state are expected to attend.   Every force in the UK will assist Police Scotland with operations, including British Transport Police, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and Ministry of Defence police.    Specialist resources such as firearms officers, dog handlers, mounted branch, search teams and the marine unit will be used.   Significant events during the conference, running from 31 October to 12 November, include the two-day world leaders summit on 1-2 November and the youth event on 5 November.    Police Scotland also expect 100,000 people to attend a climate rally on 6 November in the city centre.  The style of policing throughout the event will be "friendly, fair and accommodating", according to the force.   In addition to road closures, DCC Kerr said there was potential for "further disruption" if pressure on agencies and services becomes "more acute".   However he stressed: "I can reassure the public that if they need an emergency response from us they will get it."   DCC Kerr added: "There's no straightforward, simple or single answer to the complex problem of tens of thousands of people and well over 100 world leaders moving about a city over a compressed period of time.  Our principal and simple objective is relatively straight forward, to run a safe and secure environment in which the conference can take place. We are very confident the conference will take place in that secure environment."

Viking-age Treasure Hoard Comes Home to Galloway
A Viking-age treasure hoard unearthed in a field in south west Scotland seven years ago has come home to Galloway.   The collection - described as one of the most important UK archaeological finds of the century - is on display at Kirkcudbright Galleries.    The items were found by metal detectorist Derek McLennan in 2014.   Their permanent home is at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh but they will be in Dumfries and Galloway until July next year.   It will then go to Aberdeen Art Gallery from 30 July to 23 October 2022.   "It is a great occasion, the Galloway hoard is finally out in Kirkcudbright where people can see it," said Dr Adrian Maldonado of National Museums Scotland (NMS).  "It is on a long-term exhibition here - nine months - even longer than it was on display in Edinburgh.  It's a fantastic opportunity for people who haven't seen it yet to see these objects cleaned up and conserved for the first time."    He said it was hard to overstate the significance of the collection.    "There are objects which are completely unique to this hoard," he said.   "In terms of quantity, there is more silver in this hoard than any other hoard in Scotland.  There is more gold in this hoard than in any hoard in Britain or Ireland and there are objects that only exist within this hoard that we have never seen before."  A battle over the best location for the hoard to be housed followed its discovery seven years ago.  Dumfries and Galloway Council had hoped to secure Scotland's most significant treasure trove find in over a century for the new gallery in Kirkcudbright.  It argued that would be closer to where it was unearthed than if it went to the capital.   However, NMS said its Edinburgh base was "best-placed" to restore and conserve the collection of more than 100 artefacts.  The dispute was finally decided by the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer (QLTR) - which deals with treasure trove in Scotland - and allocated to Edinburgh.  NMS gave a commitment at the time to bring the collection to Kirkcudbright in future.  It has now hit the road to come back to Dumfries and Galloway where it lay buried for hundreds of years.    John Martin, the vice chairman of the local authority's communities committee, said that while Edinburgh was its permanent home there would always be some elements in the region.   "There will always be part of the Galloway hoard in the galleries," he said.  "It is not as if after nine months when it moves away from here we will never see it again.  I know there was a bit of disappointment at the time but when you see it, it is a national treasure and I suppose that Edinburgh is the place to show it."  For the time being, though, it is back in Galloway until the summer.

Rare Dalmore Whisky Sale Raises £100,000 for V&A Dundee
The V&A Dundee design museum is to receive £100,000 from the sale of a collection of rare single malt whisky.   The announcement by Dalmore Distillery came after it sold a collection of six bottles at a Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong for £830,000.   Part of the proceeds will be donated to the V&A, as part of a four-year partnership between the distillery and the museum.  The Dalmore Decades No.6 Collection was bought by an Asian private collector.  Alness-based Dalmore said it was the only complete set of its kind, bringing together milestone releases from 1951, 1967, 1979, 1980, 1995 and 2000.  Sotheby's spirits specialist Jonny Fowle said: "The Dalmore is truly an icon of the whisky world, and this collection encapsulates everything that the distillery stands for.  In today's premium whisky market, it also encapsulates the key elements sought after by collectors over the past two years."   V&A Dundee director Leonie Bell added: "This generous donation will help continue to support the work we do to champion and celebrate design as an integral part of everyone's life, in Dundee, across Scotland and around the world."

Royal National Mòd 2021
An Comunn Gaidhealach have published competition syllabuses for The Royal National Mòd 2021 which will take place in a hybrid format this year from 8th to 16th October 2021. The online syllabus, similar to the one used for the online Mòd last year, will give people the opportunity to take part in this year’s Mòd by submitting videos of their performances. Age ranges and disciplines in the online syllabus have been extended this year to encourage as many participants as possible.  A number of solo singing competitions, including the An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal, The Mary Lamont Traditional Gold Medal and the An Comunn Gàidhealach Silver Pendant will be held at Eden Court as well as a selected, limited number of premier junior competitions. These include the James C MacPhee Memorial Medals as well as the An Comunn Gàidhealach Silver Pendant and Traditional Medals.

Covid in Scotland: Royal Alexandra Hospital Restricts Visiting
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde issued an "urgent" notice on Wednesday for the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley.  The health board said all acute wards at the RAH, with the exception of maternity and mental health, would be limited to "essential visits" only.  Restrictions will remain in place for three weeks until Tuesday 2 November.  The board said it had become "more challenging" to separate patients and visitors on open wards, to allow social distancing and other mitigations against Covid.  NHS Greater Glasgow said in a statement: "Essential visiting arrangements will be applied flexibly and compassionately and each patient's needs considered on their own merits.   Carers, those providing essential care or emotional support, or spiritual care are not considered to be visitors and should continue to be permitted to attend a patient in hospital."

The SAHC still needs a Newsletter Editor. Do you have a love of storytelling or know of someone that does?  If so, we need a newsletter editor.  Please contact me to discuss this very important role for keeping the Scottish Diaspora informed through my email address  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it   I wish you all the very best and to remain safe and well in this troublesome times.
Malcolm Buchanan, President

Coisir  Ghaidhlig Astrailianach
(Australian Gaelic Singers) will be back rehearsing on a face to face basis at Macquarie Presbyterian Church in Eastwood as soon as this*** Covid restrictions allow.   They are looking for interested folk to join them.  If you’d like to join - the choir is open to all, whatever your background.  The only pre- requisites are willingness to learn and lots of enthusiasm! A knowledge of Gaelic and/or music is not essential. If interested please contact the Music Director on (02) 9638-2625 or email him on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it