Talking Point: Mind your language

Written by on 3 July 2014

Trawl the internet long enough, or in fact ask enough people the same question, however misinformed, and you will get the answer you want.
No matter how many sources may have informed you of the opposite, you can still convince yourself black is white by ignoring all dissenting viewpoints.
Last year should have, by rights, seen environmental campaigners breathing a sigh of relief as the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest findings on the dramatic man-made impact on the planet.

Talking point: Spinning a car crash

Written by on 3 July 2014

Ed Miliband used his speech today in Edinburgh to back up Johann Lamont’s attack on the SNP over the NHS during yesterday’s First Minister’s Questions.

“Just this week, a warning from Scotland’s doctors to the SNP that the decisions they have taken on the NHS have been like a five-year ‘car crash’,” he said.

Like Lamont, he is referring to the outgoing chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland Dr Brian Keighley’s speech to the association’s annual conference.

Rural Scotland - yes or no?

Written by on 3 July 2014

Rural Scotland is once again the battleground for the independence debate.

At last year’s Royal Highland Show campaigns were launched on both sides of the referendum as they tried to reach out to the farming sector.

While Scotland is a modern, industrial nation, 95 per cent of the land mass is classed as rural, which is home to 18 per cent of the population. In addition, with food and drink playing such a vital role in the country’s economic plans, the farming sector is a key area to win over for both Yes and No.

Talking Point: Beyond 2020

Written by on 3 July 2014

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.

Our place in the world

Written by on 3 July 2014

Major events like the Commonwealth Games that pull people in from all over the globe can make people think about their place in the world.
Just as the Sochi Winter Olympics will be primarily remembered for highlighting equality issues in Russia, so too is the World Cup in Brazil putting the country’s own political struggles on the global stage after starting under a cloud of police controlling demonstrations using teargas and firing rubber bullets.

Bin the bags

Written by on 3 July 2014

This year Scotland might start to win the war against the pesky carrier bag.
There are 750 million of them dished out a year, many of them ending up in a landfill, where they will stay undecomposed for more than 1,000 years.

Talking point: Crossing lines

Written by on 3 July 2014

Berwick-upon-Tweed MP Sir Allan Beith has tabled questions in the Commons on the issue of cross-border care, after concerns were expressed at his local Liberal Democrats’ branch about ‘recent changes’ resulting in patients from Scotland not being treated at Berwick Infirmary.

Get in the great outdoors

Written by on 3 July 2014

The picture of a happy mother and son could have been any family snap.
What it didn’t show was that the mum was a recovering heroin addict and her wee boy had never been allowed to spend a night in his own bed, remaining with foster carers instead.

Tree of life

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 3 July 2014

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.

Talking Point: Money, money, money

Written by on 3 July 2014

To paraphrase Jessie J – not something you’ll find me doing often in this column – unfortunately, in the world of local government, it is all about the money. Last week, the Local Government Association (LGA), the umbrella organisation for councils south of the border, said local authorities in England face a funding gap of £5.8bn between March 2014 and the end of 2015/16.