Some Scottish News & Views Issue # 534

Issue # 534                                            Week ending Saturday 11th January 2019

If You’re Rude, Cynical Or Don’t Care, this Could Be the Best Year Yet for You
by Iain MacIver Courtesy of the Press & Journal

Despite this awful weather, I hope you all had a good new year because I have a feeling it’s going to be a rude one. We are only a week in and every second story in the paper seems to be about someone being horrible to someone else. Had you not noticed? No, I don’t just mean Donald Trump and his alleged rudeness to certain leaders in the Middle East because I don’t think I would have noticed that one anyway.

Someone was very rude the other day about Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield. Judge Jason Gardiner, their departing colleague on Dancing on Ice, lambasted the pair for ignoring him as he bade his goodbyes. He moaned they never called, never wrote - despite them working together for years. Aw, diddums. They will get round to it, surely? Too late. Jason said: “I thought they would get in touch but I have learned this industry is full of fake and disingenuous people.” Oh heck.

I am not being rude but the game of darts on TV is boring. OK, maybe I am being slightly impolite but honest. Now there is hope because the game it is getting characters again. Peter Snakebite Wright is a fantastic Scottish darts player. Wright has just won the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship. Before becoming a professional flinger, he was a tyre fitter. You may have seen him.

Known for his Mohican hairstyle which changes colour for each tournament, Peter is a breath of fresh air. Darts players being known to like a wee swallie, I thought his Snakebite nickname was because he liked beer and cider, known as a snakebite. His online profile says his nickname Snakebite is because: “I just like snakes,” he hissed. What a character. There is hope for darts, after all. Now all we need is someone who is not a crashing bore to take up snooker and save that game. These poker-faced grey men are killing it.

Despite his rudeness, Ricky Gervais has not always been my fave comedian but hosting the Golden Globes in the last few years has been rib-ticklingly funny. Mercilessly, he sticks it to the actors, the producers and the entire movie industry - which, despite being based entirely on fantasy and make-believe, takes itself super-seriously. Super-seriously? Now I’m beginning to sound like a ‘Hellooo dahling’.

Sticking it to some recently-released movie, Gervais saw a chance to roast an actor in front of him with a reputation for dating younger lassies. He said: “Di Caprio attended the premiere, and by the end his date was too old for him." Boom. He then raged at actors’ pomposity. He added the sharpest and most topical jibe ever when he superciliously sneered: “Most of you have spent less time in school than Greta Thunberg.” Cringe. Brilliant.

The movie of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s legendary show Cats had poor reviews so he summed them up saying: “This is the worst thing to happen to cats since dogs.” Urging the superstars not to use their acceptance speech for political points, he claimed film stars don’t know anything about the real world. The whole of Tinsel Town shifted awkwardly in its seat to hear such undeniable truth.

We are not all becoming rude. Regular readers may have figured that I adore Adele and she’s the exception which proves 2020 is not going to be all rude. Ms Adkins MBE is currently on holiday in the Caribbean with friends called Styles and Corden and it was her turn to pay for lunch. She is on a health regime but the bill still came to $472.50. When it came to paying, Adele added in the tips section the sum of $2020. Wow. That reminds me of her song Make You Feel My Love from a few years ago.

I could make you happy,
Make your dreams come true
There's nothing that I wouldn't do
Go to the ends of this Earth for you
Even give a large gratuity to you.

It doesn’t really fit. Maybe I should stick to writing prose. Oh well.

Most people are rude sometimes. Even Mrs X and I disagree about what to watch on the box. She is currently watching The Good Place, a schmaltzy American series which members of the Free Church (Continuing) would not approve of. It is actually set in the afterlife. Heavens above. Er, sort of. I wanted to watch my gritty true-crime show because she could watch her trashy Netflix at any time.

We had a right ding-dong about that. No way was I going to win so I just agreed to let her watch. Peace broke out. Mr Trump, if you want me to take over peace negotiations in the Middle East, I now have relevant experience. Yes, we made up because I suggested that it is fine we do not like the same things. I think she is watching too many of these American shows because her rude reply was: “Listen, bud. If everyone liked the same thing, they would all be married to me.”

Tory MSP Urges PM to Make Scots Drugs Deaths A Priority
A Conservative MSP has urged Boris Johnson to make tackling Scotland's record number of drugs deaths a priority.  Annie Wells has written to the prime minister asking him to hold a summit on the issue "as soon as possible".  It comes after the UK Westminster government announced in October it would bring experts together in Glasgow before Christmas to discuss the issue.  However, it was postponed due to December's snap general election.  Ms Wells called on both the UK and Scottish governments to place the issue at the top of their agendas and to put their political differences aside.  She said: "I lost a neighbour. Across Scotland we lost 1,187 people in 2018, and I heard from so many families who lost loved ones in 2019. So I've asked the prime minister to make the drug deaths crisis his top priority in Scotland. This year we should be focused on saving lives instead of getting caught up in politics and the usual constitutional blame game."  Scotland's drugs deaths have been described as a "health emergency".  Death rates are the worst in Europe, while Dundee has recorded the highest rate of drug-related deaths per 1,000 population of all council areas in Scotland.  The Scottish government said it planned to hold a summit on drug deaths at the start of 2020.  They said they had repeatedly invited the UK Westminster government to attend but that, to date, they had refused.  The Scottish government has been urging ministers at Westminster to change their approach on drugs misuse from a judicial matter to one of public health.  "We firmly believe the outdated Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 should be amended to allow us to implement a range of public health focused responses", a Scottish government spokesman said.  "We have called on the UK Westminster government to amend the act or to devolve those powers to Scotland, and this must be part of any discussion we have."  A spokeswoman for the Home Office said the number of drug deaths across the UK was "extremely concerning", in particular the figures for Scotland.  She said improving access to treatments such as Naloxone - used to treat overdoses of methadone, morphine and fentanyl - was key.  She added: "We will continue to work with the Scottish government to tackle drug-misuse and harm and sustain our support for programmes which reduce the health-related harms of drugs, such widening the availability of Naloxone to prevent overdose deaths."

Tribunal Ends '10 Years of Darkness' for Highland Dental Therapist

A dental therapist is furious NHS Highland will not take action against high-ranking staff who she claims bullied her out of a job.  Pauline Thomson, of Inverness, spoke out after winning an employment tribunal against the board.  It is the first case of its kind to come to light since last year’s Sturrock Review into allegations of bullying at NHS Highland.  Mrs Thomson, who represented herself, refused any kind of settlement and was awarded a payout of more than £2000.  She won her case for unfair constructive dismissal with the verdict uncovering a litany of “failures” and involving some academic staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI).  Mrs Thomson said she was first “victimised” by tutors when studying oral health science at UHI over “silly things” such as where she parked or how she wore her hair or who she ate lunch with. After graduating, she applied for a position as a tutor and that was when she was targeted by high-ranking clinicians who labelled her as “not to be trusted” in a letter and covering email.  The health board’s own investigation later stated that Mrs Thomson’s belief that it was “malicious and written with the intention of preventing her from being successful in interviews” may be “considered reasonable”.  Senior dental officer Dr David Monks drafted the letter with input from dental therapist and tutor Lynne MacKay. The letter and email were sent to the health board’s HR department by the dental therapy programme director Linda Gunn – an employee of NHS Dumfries and Galloway.  Mrs Thomson was not told about the accusations against her – she only discovered the letter and email existed five years later.  Clinical dental director Dr John Lyon became involved in 2017 and decided the best course of action would be to “manage her [Mrs Thomson] out of the organisation” – the email he wrote containing this suggestion ultimately prompted her to resign.  Mrs Thomson said: “When I saw the letter, initially I was devastated, it was awful to read things like that about myself. Once the authors were eventually identified it all made sense. It was typical school-ground behaviour displayed by institutionalised egotistical bullies.  When I won the employment tribunal, I felt fantastic. All I can say is that 10 years of darkness immediately lifted. I strongly deny the contents of the letter – it was without doubt malicious.”  A spokesman for NHS Highland said: “There is no finding of any matters which required disciplinary action. The tribunal verdict is specifically about the timing of sharing a covering email and the expressing of a management view regarding how to deal with a long-standing, complex and challenging situation involving an employee.  The finding of unfair dismissal is as a result of the member of staff resigning and is fundamentally a procedural and employment law matter, but one which we can and have taken learning from.  NHS Highland accepts the findings of the tribunal and acknowledges that there were failures in specific aspects of the management of this case, for which we apologise.  The letter referred to was written in 2012 and was not anonymous; it was the raising of genuinely held concerns at that time over a colleague who is no longer employed. “Any errors identified relate to how this information was dealt with at the time and subsequently. It is important that anyone who has concerns is able to raise these and have these listened to and investigated.”

Violinist Nicola Benedetti Launches Music Workshop in Glasgow
Violinist Nicola Benedetti has launched her own educational music programme for children in Glasgow.  More than 350 youngsters travelled from across the country to the city's Royal Concert Hall to take lessons from one of Scotland's most recognisable musicians.  The event is part of a series of workshops being staged across the UK.  The Ayrshire-born classical musician won the BBC Young Musician of the Year award in 2004 at the age of 16.  The events in Scotland will be attended by young people from 30 of the 32 local authorities with 81% state educated in Glasgow and 70% state educated in Dundee.  Ms Benedetti said she wanted the workshops to strengthen the youngsters' commitment to music as similar experiences had similarly affected her.  She said: "I have loved music and the violin since I was four years old.  Nothing could stop me from wanting to play, but each time I encountered a mass-collective musical experience it deepened and strengthened my enjoyment and commitment to music."

All Hands on Deck to Save Last of the Lightships
Volunteers are campaigning to save Scotland’s last lightship from sinking.  Owned by charity Tay Maritime Action (Taymara) the North Carr lightship – a lighthouse on a ship – is moored in Dundee awaiting restoration as an exhibition space.  A major leak almost caused the vessel, first launched in 1933, to sink.  Bob Richmond, chairman of Taymara said: “We’ve set up a 12-phase plan and we’re looking for funding now for the first two phases to get the vessel out of the water and make her at least tight from the ingress of water.” “It’s going to take a lot of time to restore this because she has had the ravages of time against her. There’s quite a bit of rust.”  Forty years of service off the coast of Fife and another four decades in dock have taken their toll.  The charity previously launched a £1m fundraising drive in 2016 in an attempt to fully restore the ship. They hope this fresh drive will generate cash to bring the boat back from  the brink.  Emergency crews were called out on last Sunday after the alarm was raised and firefighters pumped water out.  Richmond said, “The water was only about 150ml off the portholes. which would have let the water come in and would have meant a loss of the vessel. As soon as we got the water out we thought we could identify where the water was coming from. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to do that so far.  So it will be monitoring over the next few weeks until we can locate that and stop the leak.” The ship, once operated by the Northern Lighthouse Board, was stationed off the North Carr rocks near Fife, warning ships away from the treacherous North Carr reef. She remained in service until 1975 and was used as a museum in Anstruther before being purchased from a scrapyard in 2010 for £1.  December saw the 60th anniversary of the Mona lifeboat disaster.  On 8 December 1959, all hands were lost on the lifeboat sent to assist the North Carr Lightship, which was adrift in St Andrews Bay.

Community to Decide on Caithness Funding
Community groups in Caithness are being urged to apply for a slice of £10,000 funding. Whether it is a project for young people, a healthy living project, a crime prevention idea, a lunch club for older residents or a community art project, the Your Cash Your Caithness funding event can help.  Application forms to apply for up to £1,000 must be received by February 2.  The community will then get the chance to vote for the winners at an event in Thurso on February 29.  Applicants will be required to talk about their idea to the community.  Chairman of the Caithness committee, Councillor Matthew Reiss, said: “We are once again handing decision making back to the local community and it is the first stage in returning community empowerment to the most local level.  I would encourage as many individuals or groups as possible to take part in this initiative to get the funding they are looking for. This will be the sixth Your Cash Your Caithness event and I have no doubt that this one will be every bit successful as the previous five.”

Glasgow Airport Metro System Gets Council Leader Approval

Plans for a metro link for Glasgow Airport have been agreed by council leaders in Glasgow and Renfrewshire.  The first phase of the proposed Glasgow Metro would link Paisley Gilmour Street train station and Glasgow airport, before extending further east.  The announcement came ahead of a conference on the state of the economy and infrastructure in Glasgow. An airport rail link has been promised for years with different proposals approved and later scrapped.  The Glasgow Metro was first proposed by a commission tasked with improving the city's infrastructure in April last year.  Now the leader of Glasgow City Council, Susan Aitken, has said the metro's first phase will be between the airport and Paisley Gilmour Street train station.  Both of these sites are within Renfrewshire Council, and Cllr Aitken said the leaders of both councils have agreed funding for the project, although the support of the councils' members will have to be secured before work can begin. Various proposals for some kind of rail link for Glasgow Airport have been made for well over a decade.  In 2006, a private bill was introduced and passed in the Scottish Parliament calling for a service integrated into the existing rail network.  The £120m Glasgow Airport Rail Link was scrapped in 2009 when the Scottish government reduced its budget amid UK-wide austerity cuts in public spending.  The plans were resurrected in 2014, when eight local authorities around Glasgow agreed to a City Region deal worth £1.13bn, which was designed to fund major infrastructure around the city.  Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils then proposed two rail link options for the airport using the funds from the City Region deal: a tram-train line and a new light rail system, both running via Paisley.  The tram-train proposal, involving a specially-designed hybrid tram-train using the existing railway network and on-street tracks, was chosen as the preferred option in November 2016.  Construction was due to begin in 2022 with the line operational by 2025, but a report into the proposal raised significant concerns with its viability.  In February 2019, Cllr Aitken told a Scottish Parliament committee that the report into the tram-train proposals said it could not be delivered within the £144m budget.  She also said the report raised concerns over "longer-term operational viability and sustainability" but did promise that Glasgow Airport would eventually receive some kind of rail link.  Separately from the Glasgow Airport rail link, in April last year Glasgow's Connectivity Commission proposed a city-wide metro system, to connect areas with little transport infrastructure and boost the economy.  The proposal was mentioned in the Scottish government's latest Programme for Government, which said it will "consider the potential for a Glasgow Metro, which builds on the planned City Region Deal investment to link Glasgow Airport and the new National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland to Paisley Gilmour Street."  It is this plan, to connect Paisley Gilmour St train station and the airport with a tram, which Cllr Aitken said has been accepted as the first phase in the wider Glasgow Metro proposal.  Speaking ahead of the State of the City Economy Conference, she said the council's ambitions were making "considerable progress". She added: "The Scottish government has pledged to work with us on the Commission's recommendations, while Glasgow and Renfrewshire councils will undertake the feasibility work required to ensure it can be considered as a key, national project. Funding is already in place to deliver a first phase, linking Paisley with Glasgow Airport."  Now that funding is in place, reports will be prepared and submitted to both councils for approval. Exact dates for these votes have not been confirmed but they are expected soon.  A Renfrewshire Council spokesperson said a link between the airport and Paisley Gilmour Street station was "critical to improving sustainable travel choices and will make a significant impact on improved journey times and connections for business and for airport users and employees."  They added: "This will deliver benefits not only across Renfrewshire, the Glasgow City Region and the west of Scotland, but across the country. Subject to approval by elected members and the City Region Cabinet, we will work closely with Glasgow City Council and Transport Scotland in progressing these proposals."  Managing director of Glasgow Airport, Mark Johnston, said: "The city's metro proposals are compelling and demonstrate real ambition to deliver a much needed, sustainable transport system."

Ayrshire Villagers Fear Arsonist Will Kill After Number of Suspicious Fires

Residents have joined together to start a campaign aimed at halting the attacks in Dalrymple.
Residents living in fear have launched a campaign to stop a phantom firestarter.  Stop the Dalrymple Arsonist has been created by an anonymous group after a number of suspicious blazes have shattered the village. In August the Ayrshire Post told how dog breeder Michael Ewing had to flee his country home after it was set on fire. And earlier this month we reported that a number of vehicles and farm machinery had been mysteriously set alight around Holms Farm Road.  A spokesman for the campaign said: “I am speaking from a terrified Dalrymple that is in lockdown.  It is currently all we can talk about after the three firebomb attacks on three different houses this month.  Who is going to be attacked by this arsonist next?  Someone is going to be killed. Children are afraid to go to sleep.  Driving through Dalrymple is like driving through a war zone with the burnt-out shell of Michael Ewing’s house, numerous burnt-out vehicles scattered about and the fire damage to many properties.  It is a miracle that no one was burnt in the fierce, blazing fires that caused loud explosions that shook the village.  In all the lives of eight people in three houses were put in direct danger.”  The townsfolk are living in fear, worried that the arsonist will strike again. Concerned parents are said to have been meeting to discuss how to protect their families. Smoke alarms are being checked, CCTV and yard lights are being installed, night workers are driving around the village at night to check on neighbours, while farmers are organising late night patrols.  But now residents are urging anyone who might have any information that could catch the culprit to come forward.  They said: “After this month’s attacks a police officer on the scene said the fires all followed the same pattern and drew a direct link between the four arson attacks on the home of Michael Ewing.  They nearly caught the arsonist. The neighbours interrupted him as he was lighting the third fire.  As soon as he saw the car lights he ran off across the field. The third fire was extinguished and materials preserved.  But with each arson attack he is making mistakes – and he will be caught. There is one shared sentiment in the village: stop this arsonist. No one is safe. This will end with a funeral and an inquest.  Dalrymple needs help. Arsonists can’t help bragging. If anyone has any information please contact the police on 101. It could save a life.”

Piping Tradition Faces A ‘Silent Decline’ Says Charity

More than 30,000 young Scots would learn to play pipes and drums if they had the chance, but only 6,000 are learning so far, according to a national charity.  The Scottish Schools Pipes and Drums Trust (SSPDT) warned of the threat to our musical heritage this week. Opportunities to learn piping have disappeared in many communities when local pipe bands have folded and tuition has also stopped in many schools.  In response to the issue, SSPDT - in partnership with councils, education authorities, schools and local communities - is set on a mission to bring the opportunity to learn pipes and drums to thousands of youngsters across the country.  By developing local and long-term models of learning from an early age and into further education and adulthood, the charity aim to help to bring back the pipes to communities, and to give every young person in Scotland the chance to learn.  Research commissioned by Creative Scotland and conducted by The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland found that more 100,000 pupils want to learn an instrument at school but are unable to. Based on the popularity of the pipes and drums whenever SSPDT helps to introduce them to schools, it estimates between 30,000-54,000 pupils would want to learn to play but only 6,000 are learning in state schools across Scotland.  Alexandra Duncan, Chief Executive of SSPDT, said: “It’s clear that there is a huge unmet demand to learn pipes and drums amongst Scotland’s pupils.  When bands in our towns and communities vanish quietly, and when there is no tuition in local schools either, we lose a precious cycle of teaching and learning - and it’s this silent decline that we’re trying to address with partners.  Piping and being part of a band gives young people a sense of belonging and develops a wide range of life and employability skills including teamwork, individual and shared achievement, discipline, commitment and self-confidence. We believe it can change lots of young people’s lives for the better.”  Alexandra added that even where the pipes and drums are offered to pupils after they have had the chance to take up different instruments, demand is very high.  The Trust has helped 47 schools pipe bands to form so far, building on tuition provided in 265 schools. It also supports existing youth and school pipe bands with grants and the free loan of bagpipes. It is currently supporting projects in 22 local authority areas.

Electric Buses Launched in Glasgow in Bid to Cut Emissions
Electric buses are being launched in Glasgow on a commercial route for the first time since the 1960s.  Bus company First Glasgow said the introduction of the two vehicles was a "statement of intent" as Glasgow aims to become a "net zero" city.  Electric trolley buses previously operated in the city until they were decommissioned in 1967.  The new buses will run on the M3 route, connecting Milton and Springburn with Stobhill Hospital and the city centre.  They were built in Falkirk by Alexander Dennis and they were bought for First Glasgow with funding from electricity distributor SP Energy Networks.  Described as "state of the art", the buses have "mirrorless smartvision technology" - high definition digital cameras and an interior screen.  The bus firm says it removes the need for wing mirrors, helps reduce blind spots and the effects of bad weather on their vision.  They also have USB charging points, on-board audio-visual next stop announcements and free wi-fi.  Their introduction comes after Glasgow became the first Scottish city to have a low emissions zone, where emissions standards must be met by 20% of buses which pass through the city centre.  All vehicles entering the zone from December 2022 will have to meet the standards. Operator First said it was already 40% compliant with the regulations and it has promised to introduce more low-emissions buses.  Managing director Andrew Jarvis said the business wanted to make buses "part of the solution" to improve air quality in the city.  The new buses will make bus travel easier and more convenient for travellers as well as being better for the environment, he said.  "Every customer journey on the route will save around 2kg of CO2 compared with driving on your own in an average car, making bus the best choice in reducing the impact on the planet," he added.  Glasgow last had all-electric buses in the 1960s.  The city started to develop a network of trolleybuses in 1949.  It was hoped they could combine some of the advantages of trams with the ability to steer round obstacles such as parked vehicles.  But in 1967 they were phased out for what was seen as a more modern technology - the diesel bus.  One the last of the Glasgow trolleybuses ended up as an exhibit at the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft in Lincolnshire.  One of the new buses will be displayed at Glasgow's Riverside Museum over the weekend, before going into service on Monday.  The project has been financed through SP Energy Networks' £20m Green Economy Fund.  It is also backing the installation of 22 electric vehicle charging points in First Glasgow's Caledonia depot.  Its chief executive Frank Mitchell said Glasgow's ambition to be the UK's first net zero carbon city by 2030 would require "big changes".  "The introduction of the low emission zone was the cities first big test and sets out a marker for its ambitions," he said.  "The introduction of this new electric bus technology which will ultimately improve air quality and noise pollution in the city centre and other communities."

Boost in Status for Highland Nuclear Archive Centre
The UK nuclear archive base in Wick yesterday scooped a major industry award after becoming the 10th in Scotland to be granted Accredited Archive Status.  It is the latest accolade to come the way of the £20 million complex which opened in 2017.  The centre, which employs about 70 people, is creating a digital archive for the mass of records held at British nuclear power sites, including nearby Dounreay, over the past 70 years.  It also stores Caithness historical archives dating from the 14th century, comprising charters, minute books, correspondence, maps, photographs and plans.  Paul Lowe, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said: “I am pleased to congratulate Nucleus on achieving Accredited Archive status.  The scheme provides national recognition of excellence within the sector. It is greatly encouraging to see yet another Scottish archive successfully achieving the standard, in recognition of their good work.”

Scottish Labour Opens Door to A Historic U-turn on Indyref2

Scottish Labour will go to its members to ask whether the party should reverse its stance and support the holding of a second independence referendum.  Richard Leonard will put forward proposals for a consultation on indyref2 at a meeting of the party’s executive on Saturday, opening the door to a historic u-turn.  The party’s stance could be decided by members at a special conference as early as April. It is understood that all options will be left on the table, including Labour backing a multi-option referendum that includes a question on a fully federal UK.  The Scottish Conservatives said the move completed “Labour’s long and painful surrender to the SNP”.  “This move is a disgraceful sell out of the two million No voters, many of whom identified as lifelong Labour supporters,” Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said.  Mr Leonard’s move promises to deepen the row over indyref2 within Scottish Labour, with the party’s only MP Ian Murray - who is running for deputy UK leader - strongly opposed to a change in position.  The debate encroached on the Labour leadership contest yesterday, with two of the MPs vying to replace Jeremy Corbyn clashing over whether a second independence referendum should take place.  Clive Lewis said his party must not block another Scottish referendum and called for his colleagues north of the Border to be free to campaign for a Yes vote if they wished, warning that Scots should not be “dictated to”. But Mr Lewis’ stance drew a sharp reaction from leadership rival Jess Phillips, who insisted there were “no circumstances where I think it would be better for Scotland to leave the UK”. With Labour leadership contenders having until Monday to secure the nominations of 22 MPs, Ms Phillips joined Lisa Nandy and shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey in meeting the threshold to remain in the contest.  Frontrunner and shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer had 59 nominations as of yesterday afternoon, ahead of Ms Long-Bailey on 26, and Ms Phillips and Ms Nandy both on 22.  Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry has seven, while Mr Lewis - seen as an outsider in the contest - has just four.  The shadow financial secretary to the Treasury said the debate over who should lead Labour in the wake of its disastrous general election result had paid too little attention to Scotland.  “It is little surprise... that many Scots see themselves not as partners in a union of equal nations, but as a country shackled instead to a dysfunctional political system that is costing them dearly,” Mr Lewis wrote in a column;  “Given the option to exit the UK, it is little wonder that so many now support independence and, given the prospect of at least five years of Tory rule imposing a Brexit that Scotland did not vote for, the question of independence and a second referendum is unavoidable.”  He added: “It is not for me, as an English MP to dictate to Scotland what that form of government should be, and there should be no question of Labour opposing a second independence referendum if there is a mandate to hold one.”  The SNP welcomed Mr Lewis’ support for Scotland’s right to hold an independence referendum.  “If front bench spokespeople like Clive Lewis can respect Scotland’s right to self-determination, and understand why so many people are moving to support independence, there is no democratic reason why the UK Westminster government should attempt to block a referendum,” SNP deputy Westminster leader Kirsty Blackman said.

Tom Alexander of the Alexander Brothers Dies Aged 85

The death of veteran Scottish entertainer Tom Alexander has been announced.  The 85-year-old was one half of the enduring act The Alexander Brothers who toured the world in a career spanning more than 50 years.  Tom and his 79-year-old brother Jack, who died in 2013, started their professional career in 1958.  The pair, from Cambusnethan in North Lanarkshire, were awarded MBEs for services to entertainment.  After Jack died, Tom occasionally performed as a solo act.  Country dance band leader John Carmichael, said the pair had a very distinctive sound and took songs like These are my Mountains and Nobody's Child to an international audience.  The brothers were both classically trained and played from a young age, with Jack on the piano and Tom on the accordion.  They developed their Scottish style after comedian Roland Smith suggested they follow the style of popular acts like Andy Stewart and the Joe Gordon Folk Four.  Among the career highlights was a show at the Sydney Opera House in the mid-1980s and co-starring with Shirley Bassey at the London Palladium in 1967.