Category Archives: Scotland

Northern Ireland and Scotland want a referendum on leaving the UK. And Wales?

The ballot box: come on, Wales – let’s have a chance to tell Boris Johnson to get stuffed!

Welsh people are showing surprising loyalty to the United Kingdom after being progressively abused by Tory governments since 2010.

They are lagging behind Northern Ireland and Scotland, where polls show a majority of people in both countries want referenda on whether to quit the union.

In Northern Ireland, 68 per cent of people are demanding the right to choose whether to stay in the UK or join the Republic of Ireland.

Scotland will get its referendum if Nicola Sturgeon has her way.

Only Wales is dragging its feet over the chance to show national displeasure with Boris Johnson’s travesty of leadership – widely believed to be the worst government in UK history.

The latest poll in Wales shows just 28 per cent of people wanting independence.

It makes you wonder where people here get their news.

Source: 68% in Northern Ireland want referendum on leaving the UK

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Covid-19 surge in Scotland after schools reopen – but Sturgeon won’t accept it

Nicola Sturgeon: she reckons schools must stay open, even though Covid-19 infections in Scotland have rocketed since the new term started.

This is what will happen in England – and on a much larger scale.

Scottish schools have reopened after their summer break – and Covid-19 infection rates have surged to their highest-ever level.

It is the predictable result of Boris Johnson’s ‘Freedom Day’ – the relaxation of all legal restrictions on gathering and distancing, which Scotland copied a few weeks ago.

Infections have been rising since the August 2 low of 799 and stood yeterday at 5,021 – Scotland’s highest-ever total.

Stunningly, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is refusing to face the facts and go back into lockdown. She’s reluctant even to go back through the stages of social distancing.

Speaking yesterday, the First Minister said: “I don’t want to go back to anything like a full lockdown.

If we, all of us, take the basic precautions right now that we know can slow the virus, then I hope no re-imposition of restrictions will be necessary.

How many people would have to die before she changes her mind?*

And she is determined to keep schools open, even though it is clear to anybody with a brain that they are the principal point from which Covid-19 is being transmitted to the population.

Her government has stressed that keeping schools open would be a number one priority regardless of what happens, with deputy FM John Swinney saying closures should be avoided “at all costs”.

Do those costs include preventable deaths? From what Swinney said, it seems they do.

How sad. We might have expected more intelligence from the Scottish government.

Perhaps Boris Johnson has just proved that stupidity is as easily-transmissible as the virus.

*Personally, This Writer thinks Sturgeon – and any other leader whose decisions cause preventable deaths (Boris Johnson) – should be made to visit personally the families of anybody who dies as a result of her decisions to apologise and offer restitution for the wrong she will have intentionally inflicted on them. At least that would keep her out of mischief for a (long) while.

Source: Covid in Scotland: Circuit breaker lockdown ‘an option’ to tackle virus surge | The National

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Could Welsh Labour split from the national party because of Starmer?

Starmer: this is just one of his offences while acting as Labour leader. Read down the article for more.

It seems Keir Starmer’s stance on Northern Ireland could be the final straw that forces Welsh Labour to secede from the national party.

Take a look at Dewi Eirig Jones’s response to Starmer’s unwarranted policy announcement below:

It would be easy to understand why anybody in a Labour Party organisation that still represented actual Labour values would want to split from Starmer’s Blairite, neoliberal, pro-Tory, anti-union, racist, little-Englander party but if you’d like examples, let’s see if I can provide some for you:

Support for NHS privatisation.

Support for Northern Ireland unionism in a referendum – when the Good Friday Agreement demands that he would have to be impartial.

Racism.

Homophobia.

Siding with the rich against the poor.

Blaming others for his own failures.

These:

  • The campaign to punish Labour left-wingers.
  • The campaign to silence criticism.
  • The erosion of Labour’s share of the electorate.
  • Starmer’s support for the loss of our right to protest.
  • Starmer’s attempt to gaslight us into thinking Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for Labour’s loss of support.
  • Starmer’s sustained support of Conservative policies and legislation.
  • Starmer’s support of the so-called Spycops Bill in particular.
  • Starmer’s adoption of fascist symbolism, in line with the Tories – flags, haircuts and suits preferred over socialist policies.
  • Efforts by right-wing Labour Party officers and representatives – many of them unelected – to disenfranchise party members and deny them representation.
  • And an attitude of entitlement that tries to tell us that we must accept Starmer sneering at us because he thinks he knows better.

And his ditching of the 10 pledges on which he was elected Labour leader in the first place.

I have many more examples but will those do for the time being? And would Scottish Labour consider doing the same?

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Tory politics of division: ‘look at Scotland! Covid is much worse there than in England!’

Conservatives really are pathetic, aren’t they?

Faced with criticism over the rise of the Delta variant of Covid-19, they resort to whataboutery. So we see this, in the Tory-supporting Telegraph:

Scotland is by far the UK’s worst Covid hotspot with rates more than double England’s, according to figures published by Nicola Sturgeon’s government yesterday that increased pressure on her

Do you see what they did there?

“Scotland’s Covid rate is much worse than England’s so Boris Johnson is actually doing really well!”

Except he isn’t, of course. And the information provided by the Torygraph is doubtless void of important facts that affect the outcome: vaccine supply, geographical factors and so on.

People won’t see the faults in the story. They’ll see the headline and pour scorn on the Scots, and on Nicola Sturgeon in particular.

And that’s how Boris Johnson’s Tories manufacture support for themselves.

Source:  Scotland’s Covid rate is more than double England’s, new figures reveal

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Hated disability ‘benefit’ to be replaced in Scotland – with no dreaded face-to-face assessments

Meanwhile, in England and Wales: it’s not quite this bad but the death toll suggests it might as well be.

It’s easy to understand why the Scottish National Party is so popular north of the border – it actually fulfils its promises.

For example: it is replacing the hated Tory Personal Independence Payment for people living with disabilities.

The new Adult Disability Payment will be phased in next year, providing financial support to cover the extra costs faced by people with disabilities.

The SNP-run Scottish government has announced that the benefit will take a new approach, to ensure dignity, fairness and respect.

According to the Daily Record:

Social Security Scotland will make decisions about entitlement for ADP using the applicant’s account of their circumstances and existing supporting information, where possible.

The number of face-to-face assessments will be significantly reduced and will only be necessary when it is the only practicable way to make a decision.

Most consultations will be carried out over the phone, but can be face-to-face in a GP surgery or even at home – whatever works best for the person applying.

And claimants will no longer be asked to carry out tasks to demonstrate how their disability, long-term illness or mental health condition affects them as part of the application process.

This promises to be a huge improvement. Also helpful will be the provision of supporting material which may include a social care needs assessment, a report from a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and information from a carer.

As a carer myself, This Writer would have loved to be able to submit information to support Mrs Mike’s PIP (and ESA) claims.

But anything can seem good before it has actually been tested.

I would like to hear from claimants of the new benefit, once it starts coming in. Let’s hope they say good things about it.

Source: PIP to be replaced by new disability payment which includes no face-to-face assessments – Daily Record

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Covid-19’s death toll on people with disabilities is HORRIFYING – but Scottish authorities won’t produce figures (Vox Political Scrapbook)

We’ve reached a point, now, where I can no longer talk to Mrs Mike about these stories because they send her into paroxysms of rage – and fear.

This particular news item is terrifying on two levels – firstly, that Covid-19 is having such a terrible effect on people with disabilities.

Don’t forget that, even if a person survives the virus, there may be knock-on effects that could seriously harm the quality of the rest of their lives: muscle damage, lung damage, neurological harm. If somebody already has a disability, this could be catastrophic.

And you know the Conservative-run Department for Work and Pensions wouldn’t give a damn.

Secondly, there’s the fact that the Scottish health authorities aren’t even bothering to research the effect of the virus on disabled people in that country.

To This Writer, the omission is as bad as that of the DWP itself when it spent years trying to hide the number of people who had died after being denied sickness benefits.

I eventually had to force the government to divulge those figures. And have there been any regular updates since then?

We all know the answer to that, I think.

Let us hope the Scottish authorities get their act together, compile those figures and then take action to help people with disabilities survive the virus.

Otherwise it will make the SNP’s claims to be more caring for people with illnesses and disabilities than Westminster look like a very bad joke.

Scotland has no idea how many disabled people are dying from coronavirus.

Despite public health chiefs in England and Wales using census data to check how hard the pandemic is hitting those with disabilities, Scotland is still in the dark.

Shock figures show that in England and Wales, an estimated 60 per cent of those who have died of Covid-19 considered themselves disabled in the 2011 census. Disabled men under 65 are 6.5 times more likely to die of Covid, while disabled women are more than 10 times more likely.

A separate report from Public Health England also found those with learning disabilities are six times more likely to die from Covid-19 than the general population.

Despite the alarming reality elsewhere in the UK, Freedom of Information requests have revealed that neither Public Health Scotland nor National Records of Scotland have extracted matching data.

Source: Scotland in the dark over how many disabled people are dying from coronavirus – Daily Record

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New pub closure rules can only increase Johnson’s lockdown muddle

Closed: but under what circumstances? Restrictions are now different across the UK and people are likely to catch Covid-19 due to confusion.

Boris Johnson’s ‘local lockdown’ plan is degenerating into incoherence as each tiny part of the UK adds new – and conflicting – Covid-19-related restrictions.

The latest addition to this babble is a restriction on pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England, forcing them to close at 10pm, starting on Thursday (September 24).

Why’s that? Does Covid-19 only come out for a drink after 10 o’clock?

It doesn’t make any sense at all – and in fact will only add to the confusion.

Look at Wales, where six local authority areas have local lockdown rules.

From 6pm on Tuesday (September 22), Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, and Newport join Caerphilly in having these restrictions: business closures are in line with national restrictions in Wales (meaning they’re different from those in England); you cannot meet indoors with anyone outside your household; you can no longer form a social bubble with another household; you cannot leave the local area without a reasonable excuse; and everyone over the age of 11 must wear a face covering in indoor public spaces unless exempt. I wonder if everybody there knows which indoor public spaces are exempt.

But in Rhondda Cynon Taff, the first four of those restrictions are the same – but the face mask rule doesn’t count. Instead, all licensed premises have to close at 11pm.

In seven local authority areas in northeast England, hospitality venues can only provide table service and take away orders, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden; travel is advised only for essential reasons, and a curfew applies to certain businesses between 10pm and 5am.

In seven local authority areas in Scotland, you cannot meet people outside your household/social bubble in a home/garden.

All of the places listed above are next to areas where these restrictions don’t apply – but others (that apply to all areas in their country of the UK) do.

There’s an area of northwest England that is really confusing: restrictions in Bradford are different from Pendle, which in turn differs from Burnley. Nearby Bolton is different again.

Is your head spinning yet?

Schools will remain open in all these places, despite the fact that they are now well-established as the principle route of transmission.

Further restrictions will also be announced in Scotland on Tuesday, while restrictions on households mixing indoors will be will be extended to all of Northern Ireland.

Ye gods!

It’s a lot of effort to be seen to be doing something when in fact – let’s be honest – Boris Johnson and his government are doing nothing to stem the tide of Covid’s second wave.

On Monday,  4,368 daily cases were reported – up from 3,899 on Sunday – along with 11 deaths.

This Site has already reported that a televised briefing by chief medical officer Chris Whitty and chief scientific officer Patrick Vallance warned that, if unchecked, the number of infections could be as high as 50,000 per day by mid-October.

Well, I’ve got bad news for them. Confusing as the restrictions are, none of them are going to stop that disaster from happening.

What we need is a working test, track and trace system that isolates people who have been in contact with those who have been infected – and prevents them from infecting other people.

Sadly, Johnson and his government have put the responsibility for such a system in the hands of profit-grubbing corporates who simply aren’t responsible enough to do it properly.

Johnson has offered to lift his “rule of six” restriction on social gatherings for 24 hours on Christmas Day, if we manage to turn back the new Covid tide – but this seems an empty promise; he knows it won’t happen.

My advice: go back into behaving as if the national lockdown in March never ended – if you can. If you can’t, do everything possible to avoid contact with other people.

You cannot rely on government intervention to save you from the virus.

So it’s up to you to do what you can yourself.

Source: Covid: Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm closing times – BBC News

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The Scottish Tories have a new leader – but he seems to be both confused … and prejudiced

New Scottish Conservatives’ leader Douglas Ross – in what seems to be the role he prefers.

The Scottish Conservatives have a new leader – Douglas Ross, who was elected unopposed by party members.

This seems a very odd thing for them to do.

Consider the evidence in the video below – which I know was created by a supporter of the SNP. Try to ignore the party political message and concentrate on what this says about the person:

The ‘dark money’ claim seems accurate, as the Scottish Unionist Association Trust did support Ross, and did not declare donations and contributions to political campaigns properly to the Electoral Commission. As a result, SUAT was fined £1,300.

His voting record speaks for itself and seems extremely, traditionally, Tory – supporting central government, hammering the NHS and minorities.

But he seems confused: his discussion of rural broadband, ATM closures and unfair postal charges challenged his own party directly, and his votes against equal marriage and equal gay rights ran against party policy.

Also, his claim that refereeing football matches would not interfere with his Parliamentary responsibilities – and his subsequent trip to Barcelona instead of voting on a Welfare Bill – is well-documented.

Let’s look a little closer at his attitude to travellers:

Tom London’s point is a good one. He doesn’t want tougher enforcement against a particular aspect of travellers’ behaviour that the public may find objectionable; he just wants enforcement against them because they are travellers.

So it is right to ask how people would have felt if Ross had been speaking about Jews, Blacks, Muslims, gay people or any other minority group.

And this is the Scottish Tory choice as leader of their party…

A man who opposes his party as much as he supports it, with a reputation for prejudice against a minority group for no reason other than that it exists, and who prefers to run off and referee football matches rather than representing his electorate.

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Scotland joins Wales to ban Covid-19 support to firms based in tax havens

Registered in a tax haven? Then no tax-funded help for you: there’s no reason the UK should give tax-dodging firms a hand during the coronavirus crisis if they haven’t paid their full dues. Wales and Scotland have made this clear; let’s see Westminster do the same.

Quite right too. If you’ve opted out of paying tax when the going was easy, then you can’t try to get help from the taxpayer in hard times.

Has the Tory government in Westminster made this decision yet?

The Scottish parliament has voted to block companies based in tax havens from using millions of pounds in coronavirus relief funding, in emergency legislation.

MSPs approved measures on Wednesday night brokered by the Scottish Greens to prohibit firms or individuals who are registered in tax havens, or are a subsidiary of an offshore company, from getting support grants.

The vote follows similar decisions by the Welsh government last week and by other EU member states, including Denmark and France, but ministers have yet to say how much Scottish government spending will be affected or how it will be enforced.

It is thought it could prevent companies with offshore links from applying to a new £120m enterprise resilience fund that provides grants for small- and medium-sized firms, and a £30m creative, tourism and hospitality bailout fund for firms that cannot get business rates relief.

The Welsh government blocked companies with headquarters in a tax haven from accessing its £500m economic resilience fund on 15 May. Ministers in Cardiff said last week it would affect a small number of companies.

Source: Scotland bans Covid-19 support to firms based in tax havens | Politics | The Guardian

BBC editor’s TWITTER clarification after ‘attack’ on Sturgeon in TELEVISION report. Where’s the TV apology?

Nicola Sturgeon: “Never in my entire political career have I ‘enjoyed’ anything less than this.”

Sarah Smith should not be allowed to get away with a mere attempt at clarification of this on Twitter alone, where her words will be seen by a tiny few, compared with those who saw her report.

Scottish viewers of BBC news were left fuming after Ms Smith gave a report in which she clearly stated that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was “enjoying” setting her own rules for the Covid-19 lockdown. Ms Sturgeon denied the claim:

Responses on Twitter have been uniformly along these lines:

Ms Smith has tweeted a claim that she meant Ms Sturgeon was “embracing” the opportunity to make law on Covid-19 – and has received equally short shrift from the object of her comment:

It isn’t an apology, is it?

That’s why I’m saying Ms Smith should return to Scottish screens and broadcast a full and frank apology for this astonishing piece of editorialising.

It was never her place to suggest that Ms Sturgeon was enjoying an inappropriate emotional response to the responsibility of setting policy on what is a life-and-death matter for millions of people.

And it seems clear that, for allowing this, the BBC as a whole must change its ways (and explain how it will achieve this).