Question of numbers

Full picture on numbers during Commonwealth Games will not become any clearer

by Jul 23, 2014 No Comments
Written parliamentary questions often see MSPs given the run-around, waiting up to a month for a minister to offer up a vague answer that, in a number of cases, scarcely constitutes an answer at all. Richard Baker’s latest request is unlikely to be any different. The North East Scotland MSP this week submitted a question asking the Scottish Government to detail how many police officers will police the Commonwealth Games, broken down by each of Police Scotland’s 14 divisions. It comes amid concerns that officers are being diverted from all parts of the country to provide security at the Glasgow showpiece. Here’s how the process has worked. Police Scotland has adopted a model tested in London two years ago known as ARCHI testing. The objective is clear: inform police planners...
Talking point: Beyond 2020

by Jul 15, 2014 No Comments
It might be a slightly terrifying thought but 2020, the D-Day for what seems like all government targets, is only six years away. By that time in Scotland, carbon emissions should be cut by 42 per cent, the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity supply should be coming from renewable energy and actions to improve biodiversity should have seen the development of a more diverse and stronger environment. Yes, the old cliché of a week being a long time in politics still rings true and all manner of unseen events will have happened by 2020 – in that time, we will have had one Olympics with another on the way and another Football World Cup. But, at the same time, the politicians elected in the next couple of years, whether for the UK or Scottish Parliaments, will be coming to the end of...
Another revolving door

Westminster reshuffle brings more changes at DECC

by Jul 15, 2014 No Comments
DECC During the 2010 election campaign I interviewed David Cameron as he toured the country in one of his last appeals for Scottish votes. In a boardroom near Aberdeen and flanked by a panel of local Tories, one of the main topics of conversation was his party’s policy on energy. There were laughs around the table as he ridiculed the frequency with which the Labour government under Blair and Brown had gone through energy ministers – what he could offer was a bit more stability. The latest reshuffle has seen wholesale changes for both cabinet and junior ministers, with William Hague, Ken Clarke and Owen Paterson all leaving the government – and Michael Gove moving from Education Secretary to chief whip. But with with just under a year to go until the next General Election, DECC has yet...
Talking point: Unhealthy debate

How Scotland's NHS is being used as a misinformation punchbag

by Jul 11, 2014 No Comments
HealthBordersIllustration The NHS is dominating the independence debate today, but there are not a lot of facts flying around. Firstly the former UK health minister Sam Galbraith is interviewed in the Record about his life saving specialist surgery in Newcastle. “I was just another British person in Newcastle. There were other Scots folk there and we were all treated the same. There were no forms to fill in, no money to be considered. It was all just done because people needed it done,” he tells the paper. Better Together took to twitter to post a link to the story with the quote “The British NHS saved my life”. However the notion of a ‘British NHS’ is just that – a notion. In reality the NHS has always been separate in Scotland. As the health system in England has been subject to recent root and...
Family tree

On the benefits of education, the tragedy of child marriages and why it is good to have a big sister

by Jul 10, 2014 No Comments
Tree When I was in primary school I climbed one of the biggest trees in the known world. It was around five kilometres tall, looming over the surrounding landscape. Anyone who could climb a tree like that would have been a real hero – a legend in their own time. I set about about it with a nimble dexterity, moving between the branches like I was half-boy, half-tree frog. But then one of my classmates, the size of an ant, did the lowest thing a person could do. They shouted up that they would inform the authorities. Tree climbing was banned and I knew it. I panicked and shot back down. On the ground reality hit, I didn’t know what to do – a janitor was coming. I became seized by the kind of frozen terror well known to any outlaw. Things were saved by the arrival of my sister...
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