STURGEON’S OFFER: Scottish first minister invites Remainers to settle in Scotland if independence occurs


The first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has invited residents of the other parts of the UK who were disappointed with the outcome of last year’s Brexit referendum to settle in her country, as she petitions for a new referendum on Scottish independence.

In a report by London-based newspaper The Evening Standard, the first minister announced an open invitation to the forty-eight per cent of Britons who voted ‘yes’ to staying in the European Union to relocate to Scotland, which plans to rejoin the EU should the outcome of the second ‘indyref’ be in favour of Scotland departing the United Kingdom and going it alone. Sturgeon presided over the first referendum, in 2014, which saw fifty five per cent of voters opt to stay in the UK, and forty-four per cent lean towards independence.



Sturgeon has expressed that those who have experienced discomfort with the actions of Westminster could relocate to Scotland and be part of a “outward-looking, compassionate country”. The open invite is the latest in a war of words between Sturgeon and UK prime minister Theresa May, who is open in her desire to realise Brexit and complete EU withdrawal by 2019. May has condemned Sturgeon for demanding a new referendum before Brexit negotiations with Brussels are complete, and has refused to give federal government permission for it to go ahead, angering Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party (SNP) which she heads.

In an address she made at the SNP conference in Aberdeen recently, Sturgeon has said that her party will completely guarantee the rights of EU nationals residing in Scotland. This is at odds with May’s approach, where she has refused to give a final ruling on EU settlers’ status in a post-Brexit Britain. May’s critics have accused her of using European nationals in the UK as a ‘bargaining chip’ in order to force the EU to guarantee settlement rights of Britons living in countries like France and Spain. At the address, Sturgeon also said that Scotland had potential for massive opportunities, and criticised the Conservative Party, who are the dominant political party currently in the UK, claiming they were trying to interfere with Scotland and accused them of maintaining a condescending attitude towards the country since the 1980s.

Sturgeon also criticised Westminster for its attitude towards Europeans living in the UK, saying “You cannot lecture others about politics not being a game while you are using the lives of human beings as pawns,” to Prime Minister May.

She told the conference: “Imagine what will happen if Scotland chooses to stay.

“We will become a magnet for talent and investment from all across the UK.

“So let me issue this open invitation today – Scotland isn’t full up.

“If you are as appalled as we are at the path this Westminster Government is taking, come and join us.

“Come here to live, work, invest or study.

“Come to Scotland – and be part of building a modern, progressive, outward-looking, compassionate country.”

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“Nicola Sturgeon tells UK residents: Move to Scotland if you don’t like Brexit” – Patrick Grafton-Green, EveningStandard – News – Politics (18 March 2017)
“File:Welcome to Scotland sign A1 road.jpg” – Amanda Slater via oxyman, Wikimedia Commons (14 September 2008)



AUTISTIC BOY HANDCUFFED: Police restrain 12-year-old after fight with own brother



A police force in Scotland have been condemned for excessive force after officers handcuffed a schoolboy with autism after he got into a fight with his brother in class, The Mirror newspaper reports.

Twelve-year-old Colin Gow, who attends Lanark Grammar school in Lanark, got into a dispute with his older brother Keiran, aged 13 and also autistic. He allegedly hurled a plastic bottle at his brother which set off the fight, and was then subsequently handcuffed by police. Colin was said to have been left ‘distressed and sobbing’ after the incident, which took place at a special Additional Support Needs class.



Colin and Keiran’s father, Colin Gow Senior, told the Mirror: It broke my heart to see my son in handcuffs.

“It wasn’t the way to deal with this incident.”

“The first thing I did was ask the officer to take the handcuffs off – he was clearly very distressed – and I put my arms round him to comfort him,” he said.

Lanarkshire authorities said that Colin had to be handcuffed for his own and others’ safety, but the boy’s parents have demanded an urgent review of how the incident was handled by police and the school. The incident took place just before the end of the school day on February 2nd, and a pair of officers were called to Lanark Grammar, where they handcuffed Colin, who also has spina bifida and is only 5’1″ tall. As a result, Colin’s parents now say he has developed a phobia of the police. The child also had to be taken for treatment at Wishaw General Hospital in Wishaw, north Lanarkshire county, the Mirror states.

Police and education chiefs at South Lanarkshire Council insist Colin had to be restrained to keep everyone “safe from physical harm”. Police representatives also claimed that Colin’s special education needs and his conditions were not made apparent to them at the time.

According to the Daily Record newspaper, Colin started attending Lanark Grammar, which was founded in 1183 and is one of Scotland’s oldest secondary schools (for pupils aged 11-16), after he was expelled from his previous school for allegedly punching a teacher. Lanark Grammar has a specialist unit for children with ‘Additional Support Needs’, including those with autism and dyslexia. During the day, Colin attends the unit and mixes with the non-unit students during morning assemblies, break times and lunch hours.

Despite the school’s specialism, Colin’s parents expressed concerns about the way his condition is being handled. His mother, Sharon, said that she was informed that they as parents would not have to do anything as the school’s dedicated staff would handle any issues that arose. They were at first optimistic that Colin would thrive at Lanark Grammar, but Sharon told the Mirror that Colin was not getting the support he badly needed.

South Lanarkshire Council’s head of education Carole McKenzie confirmed the police were called into the school as a result of “concerns for the pupil’s safety”.

She said the boy was attempting to leave school grounds without permission, which his parents deny.

Superintendent Louise Skelton, of Police Scotland, said officers quickly established “no criminality”.

She said: “In order to protect the boy involved, staff and officers, handcuffs were deployed in an effort to keep all parties safe from harm.

“Officers remained with the boy until he was left in the care of a relative.

“Police Scotland has been engaging with the family. No complaint has been received at this time.”

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“Police handcuff 12-year-old autistic boy after fight with brother at school” – Stephen Jones, Mirror – News – UK News – Schools/MGN Limited (12 February 2017)
“Handcuffed Girls Qiqi Lourdie December 05, 20104” – Steven Depolo, Flickr (5 December 2010)

POST-BREXIT SCOTLAND: First minister may sign off separate trade deal with EU



As the UK decides what to do next after the life-changing EU referendum in June which saw the country vote largely to leave the European Union, and the nation is facing a rocky political climate coupled with a weak pound, there are concerns about whether the UK will still be able to maintain access to the European single market.

In a sign of the complexity of the situation, and with EU leaders hitting back hard at the UK’s pick-and-choose approach to negotiations, the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has hinted that her country may go it alone in seeking a separate trade deal with the Continent, the BBC reports.



Around 62 per cent of eligible Scottish voters were in favour of Remain, and in the aftermath of the highly divisive referendum, some members of Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party pushed for another plebiscite on Scotland quitting the UK and rejoining Europe. In a recent interview with the BBC, the First Minister said that she believed a deal could be struck which will preserve Scotland’s own access to the single market, saving the country millions of pounds in tariffs and other fees for importing European goods.

Speaking on videolink with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Sturgeon said that Brexit should not come in the way of Scotland establishing its own and separate trade deal that will not be affected by the rest of the union’s departure from the EU.

“I think that is possible,” she said.

Sturgeon also added that her government are examining the technicalities of a separate trade deal and mentioned We will publish proposals over the next few weeks.”

In recent days, EU leaders have warned the UK that continued access to the single market is dependent on it continuing to allow free movement of EU citizens. Concerns over the UK being a magnet to EU arrivals was one of the issues vocalised by supporters of Leave.

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“Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland may seek separate EU trade deal” – BBC News – UK – Scotland – Scotland politics (16 October 2016)
“Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland” – First Minister of Scotland, Flickr (29 November 2014)

IBROX DISASTER: Scottish football team remembers the fallen 40 years on – January 2011

New Year’s Day may have been a time of happiness for most, but for the Scottish football club Rangers FC, their fans and for many in Scotland, New Year’s Day 2011 was a time for remembrance for 66 fans who perished in a stampede at the club’s ground in Glasgow forty years ago at the time of the memorial service, which took place in January. The Ibrox disaster of 1971 also saw 200 people injured in the darkest day of the team’s history.

Thousands of people gathered at the Rangers FC home ground in Glasgow in January 2011 to remember one of the darkest chapters in Glaswegian and Scottish football history, reported The Scotsman newspaper today in a past New Year’s events commemoration. Four years ago, the special service was attended by relatives, families and friends of those who died. Many survivors of the Ibrox disaster, despite the onset of old age, also attended to pay their respects to their fallen friends. At the time of the disaster, a match between Rangers and their rivals Celtic was taking place and players from both teams also honoured those who died at the service.

They made a vow to always remember those who perished in the disaster, in which fans attempting to leave the stadium were crushed to death as they tried to leave through overcrowded gates after the conclusion of the game. The incident occurred on the Stairway 13 part of the Old Firm’s Ibrox Stadium, then called Ibrox Park. At that time, 80,000 fans were on the stalls for the Rangers vs. Celtic clash and safety concerns had been raised about the standard of Ibrox’s passageways after two fans died in an earlier stampede. Among the dead in the 1971 disaster included several children, including five school friends from the town of Markinch in Fife. Rangers FC admitted responsibility for the disaster and were later sued by several families of victims.

Statue of John Greig at Ibrox Stadium, memoria...
Statue of John Greig at Ibrox Stadium, memorial to the Ibrox Disaster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The tragedy was described by Martin Bain, Rangers’ chief executive, as a “tragedy beyond belief“, according to The Scotsman.

The service was attended by around 5,000 people, including past and present Rangers players, including John Greig, the team captain at the time of the disaster, whose statue forms part of a memorial to the victims of both the 1971 tragedy and a similar incident that occurred at the turn of last century. The Celtic side were represented by manager Neil Lennon, chairman John Reid and chief executive Peter Lawwell.

Victims’ relatives and the footballers placed bouquets of blue and white flowers, the team colours of Rangers at the stand as the current manager Walter Smith, a survivor of the tragedy, and Greig solemnly read out the names of the fans who did not return home that fateful day. As the act of commemoration, several relatives were reported to have turned and saluted to the stand where their loved ones watched the game.

The Celtic chairman then also laid a wreath in his team’s colours of green and white before the crowd, who had gathered at the Govan East Corner area of the stadium, fell silent for two minutes as an act of remembrance. Following this, the Rangers chief executive addressed the mourners, describing the events of January 1971 as an “unimaginable horror“.

He said “January 2, 1971, is a date that will be forever etched deeply into the soul of the Rangers family. Each year we remember with the heaviest of hearts and wish for all the world that the fate of those on Stairway 13 had been so different.

Forty years may now have passed, but as Willie Waddell said at the time, the scar is deep. It still is, and always will be.”

Martin Bain then went on to recollect to the gathered how Rangers and Celtic put aside their sporting rivalry to rally together and support each other, both fans and officials.

Rivalries do run deep – sometimes too deep – but at the core of it all is a common bond, and that is a love of football,” he explained. “A game of football should and does bring joy, happiness, frustration and disappointment in different measure, but it should never bring tragedy and disaster.

To the relatives and friends of those lost, and those who survived Stairway 13, his message was a simple one of remembrance.

We cannot fully comprehend your grief, your anguish, your torment, or your suffering, but we can come together today to offer you our comfort,” he vowed. “There is a heartfelt desire among all of us to remember and never forget.

The service was presided over by local Christian clergy, in particular the Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, who himself was a survivor who was watching the match from the Copland Road terracing at the time the crush occurred. Rev. MacQuarrie described the tragic events as a “personal tragedy” for the families left behind.

After the Reverend’s address, a lifelong Rangers fan, Ian Loch, another survivor, read an extract from a speech famous among the club’s fans. Entitled ‘To Be a Ranger‘, it was originally delivered by past manager, Bill Struth.

No matter the days of anxiety that come our way, we shall emerge stronger because of the trials to be overcome,” he told the crowd. “That has been the philosophy of the Rangers since the days of the gallant pioneers.”

There was also a musical element to the memorial service as the Glasgow Philharmonic Male Voice Choir and the Salvation Army and Govan Citadel band led the crowd in the hymns The Lord is My Shepherd, Guide Me Oh Thou Great Jehovah and Follow On. A large banner was seen suspended from the Bill Struth Stand, which stated: ‘In our hearts forever’. Several Scottish figureheads of government and religion also paid their respects along with fans, including the Lord Provost of Glasgow, Bob Winter, Nicola Sturgeon, then the country’s Deputy First Minister, the Right Rev John Christie, the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, and the Most Rev Mario Conti, Glasgow’s archbishop.

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“Ibrox disaster: ‘A date that will be forever etched in Rangers’ soul’ ” – The Scotsman (3 January 2011, republished 2 January 2015)
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“File:John Greig Statue.JPG” – Archibald99, Wikimedia Commons (18 February 2007)

BANK HOLIDAY WASHOUT: Bad weather expected for southern Britain

Holidaymakers planning to visit beaches and festivals in the south of the United Kingdom this August Bank Holiday weekend have been warned by weather forecasters that unseasonably bad weather could ruin their plans and cause travel chaos on English and Welsh motorways, according to a new report out today by The Guardian newspaper.

The Meteorological Office (Met Office), the U.K.’s national weather institute, is predicting cold and damp weather to cover most of southern Britain, possibly impacting visitors to the Notting Hill Carnival in west London, as well as sunseekers traditionally heading out to popular beaches like BrightonGreat Yarmouth and Shoeburyness. The Met Office has also issued a ‘yellow’ weather warning for southern England on Monday. The rest of the British Isles will escape the worst of the rainy weather, but will still feel cold despite spells of sunshine. On Monday itself, Scotland and northern England will feel cold to start off with, but average midday temperatures are predicted to reach 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 degrees Fahrenheit). Ironically the Bank Holiday for August is only marked in England and Wales and is not being observed in Scotland. The precipitation and likelihood of ruined holidays and unsafe driving conditions could temporarily dent the British tourism industry, which usually sees record numbers of ‘staycation’  tourists taking advantage of an extra day off work and the long weekend to go on short breaks to the seaside and other places of interest. The tourism body Visit England is expecting five million Britons to plan an overnight holiday trip this weekend.

English: Rain Swept Beach - Skegness Looking n...
English: Rain Swept Beach – Skegness Looking north from about level with the seal sanctuary. It was an awful day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A short spell of heavy rain was reported yesterday in the east London area at around 6:00 pm and lasted for approximately twenty minutes according to one observer, despite much of the day having fine and sunny weather. The Met Office expects heavy rain and winds to roll in across the south on Monday, ruining the last long Bank Holiday weekend of 2014. Their yellow weather alert could spell disaster for people using motorways as they return from weekend breaks as surface water on the tarmac will make driving conditions more hazardous. Overnight temperatures, which are already considerably low for this time of year, will plummet to freezing point during this weekend with the first frosts appearing in the north of the UK since the summer weather dissipated. Monday’s weather warning will apply to parts of Wales, London, south-east England, as well as the south-west and East Anglia regions, where temperatures will be at an unseasonal average of 17 degrees Celsius (62.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Met Office said: “Heavy rain is expected to affect many southern areas of Britain at times during bank holiday Monday, with strong winds a possible additional factor close to southern coasts. The public should be aware that there may be some impacts to holiday traffic and other outdoor activities.

A complex area of low pressure looks like bringing an unpleasant day’s weather to much of the south on Monday. Rainfall amounts look like exceeding 20mm quite widely, while a few places might see around 40mm, so there will be a lot of surface water and spray on roads.

The spray will probably be made worse by strong winds across some southern areas; gusts to around 40mph may occur at some coastal locations although this will depend on the exact track of the low pressure.

The Met Office uses a weather warning system consisting of colours, rather like traffic signals. There are three colours used for what the Office terms as ‘severe weather’ and five in use for instances of ‘extreme weather’. The basic colour scheme used by the Met for communications with the public and media outlets consists of light green for ‘no severe weather’ (normal meteorological conditions); yellow for ‘be aware’ (some unusual and impacting weather to be expected); orange for ‘be prepared’ (bad weather expected, people are advised to be vigilant and check weather forecasts) and red for ‘take action’. Red warnings are the most severe and the public are advised to be extra vigilant, to follow orders from authorities and to be prepared for ‘extraordinary measures’. Orange alerts are usually in place for localised flooding, while red alerts are actioned during periods of intense flooding and extreme weather such as hurricanes.

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“Bank holiday weather set to be cold and damp in southern Britain” – Press Association via The Guardian – News – UK news – Weather/Guardian News and Media Limited (24 August 2014)
“Key to warning colours” – Meteorological Office
“File:Rain Swept Beach – Skegness – – 779989.jpg” – Colin Babb, via Wikimedia Commons (24 April 2008)

DVLA DATA SELLING SCANDAL: Motorists’ details sold to car parks for fine chasing

Scottish newspaper The Daily Record reports today that the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency) is under fire for allegedly selling on motorists‘ personal details, such as names and registered addresses to private car parking firms to chase unpaid fines. The DVLA’s selling of the data has controversially been said to have cost the British taxpayer £1 million to date. Drivers have expressed outrage after the DVLA processed 2.6 million requests from owners of car parks in order to put pressure on motorists who have failed to pay outstanding parking charges and fines.

The DVLA, which holds data on all registered drivers in the United Kingdom at its central offices in Swansea, Wales, has been said to have made an income of £6.7 million from the secretive data deal.

Ironically the agency was forced to pay a total of £7.6 million to furnish driver’s details to the parking firms, which caused it to have a shortfall of £900,000, all of which was made up from taxpayers’ contributions. The DVLA is believed to charge a fee of £2.50 for administrative costs to parking companies acquiring its licence data, but then each final request ended up costing £2.84 after processing.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation – which own the RAC motoring club and driver assistance network, commented on the scandal: “Essentially you have got taxpayers bankrolling private companies.

“It is absurd that hardworking men and women are effectively subsidising private parking firms.


Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rival motorist assistance company The AA (Automobile Association) also spoke out against the DVLA’s selling of people’s private details in the name of revenue making. Its spokesperson Luke Bosdet said: “It’s a double whammy of these parking enforcers chasing up every fine that they can possibly pin on the drivers to maximise their profit while costing the taxpayer for the privilege.

Hugh Bladon from the Alliance of British Drivers said: “First of all, our details should be held within the DVLA and not allowed to go anywhere except perhaps to the police.

“I’m surprised at the figures as my understanding was the DVLA were making a profit out of this. If they are making a loss they should stop.

The DVLA’s selling of its registration only came to light recently when several motorists reported receiving letters from a debt collection company and private parking ‘enforcer’ called ParkingEye. One driver in Scotland claimed to have found a ‘Parking Charge Notice’ at their home from the company. Gavin Bell opened the notice only to find he had been hit with a £85 fee after the firm claimed he overrun a pre-agreed thirty-minute stay while parked at a piece of private land in the town of Airdrie. Angered at the steep charge, Bell refused to settle the charge and made a Freedom of Information request to the DVLA after discovering they had sold his name and postal address to ParkingEye. 

Gavin, 35, from Cambuslang, near Glasgow, said: “The DVLA handed over my details with seemingly no questions asked. You would think they would have to show some kind of just cause.

“When I found out the fee for getting driver details is so low it effectively just encourages these private firms to ask for the information whether there’s any merit to the case at all, I thought it was crazy.

 “It costs more than it brings in to administer.


English: A car park from above.
English: A car park from above. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The letters sent from the parking firms, which are often printed on thick, officially headed paper to people’s home addresses are made to resemble ‘statutory penalty charge notices’ in a bid to confuse and scare drivers into assuming they have broken the law and must pay up immediately. In reality, the notices hold no ground legally at all. Firms use the letters to demand immediate payment of fines and charges and threaten car owners with increases and penalty charges which can double or triple the debt, if not worse. However, these are considered as ‘civil contracts’ legally, which means that the police will not bring non-paying motorists to court and that the parking operator cannot force a driver to pay the outstanding demand unless the claim is taken to a civil court first and a summons is issued. Nevertheless the letters have proved a lucrative ‘money-spinner’ for dubious parking firms eager to claw back what they feel they are owed, and they will still send out letters even for small amounts. In fact many parking firms have been said to have struck up deals with private landowners to collect parking fees from their lands at no additional cost to the landowner.

In response to the Daily Record’s uncovering of the secret handshake of data between the DVLA and parking companies, the agency replied and acknowledged there was a shortfall in the cost. They said: “DVLA sets fees to recover costs – we do not aim to make a profit.” The scandal over the selling of private data to companies solely out to make a profit is sure to anger many drivers and the general public already shocked by governmental ineptitude over the data of citizens, including losing thousands of names and addresses on USB memory sticks and patients’ records going missing from NHS clinics and laptops. Many private companies in the UK, such as banks and retail stores will sell the debts of customers to private debt collection firms for a pittance, who then threaten debtors with legal measures and bailiffs if money owing is not cleared. Councils and other local government bodies have also sold on the contact details of people owing rent arrears to private firms for many years, legally. This is however the first time that a national-level government agency has been implicated in doing the same.


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“Revealed: Government sell motorists’ details to private car park bosses chasing fines.. and it costs taxpayers £1million” –  Lynn McPherson, The Daily Record and Sunday Mail (27 July 2014)
“File:DVLA.svg” – Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency/Kashmiri (via, Wikimedia Commons (28 January 2013)
“File:Car park -8.jpg” – heartbeaz, Flickr via Wikimedia Commons (13 July 2008)