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Sturgeon gives ‘wrong pre-scripted answer’ to SNP MSP’s question – The Herald

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NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of giving the “wrong pre-scripted answer” to a question from one of her own backbenchers for the second time in a week.

Scottish Conservative MSP Stephen Kerr raised a point of order in Holyrood following the apparent mistake.

It came after Ms Sturgeon responded to a question from SNP MSP Stuart McMillan about a public inquiry into the coronavirus crisis.

Instead of addressing the issue, the First Minister referred to Covid measures in the education sector.

On Wednesday last week, Ms Sturgeon made a similar mistake after a question from SNP MSP Stephanie Callaghan about NHS Lanarkshire.

The First Minister read out the answer to the next question due in Holyrood, from the SNP’s Evelyn Tweed, and later said there had been “confusion on my part”.

Raising a point of order today, Mr Kerr said: “Presiding Officer, for the second time in two weeks, the First Minister has read the wrong pre-scripted answer to her backbencher’s pre-scripted question.

“Stuart McMillan asked about the inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of the pandemic.

“The First Minister’s answer was all about schools.

“Can you, Presiding Officer, please advise as to what options there are to ensure that we hear an answer to the question that was actually asked?”

For health news, please click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/health-matters/

SNP official under investigation over ‘threatening phone call’ claim – Daily Record

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An SNP official is under investigation after claims he made a threatening phone call to a new business owner.

Ian McPherson, a staffer for Westminster MP Allan Dorans, admitted making a “terrible error of judgement” in his call to Ayr painter Craig Hainey.

It followed the opening of Mr Hainey’s new business in Ayr’s North Harbour, to which he had invited Tory MSP Sharon Dowey.

He then claims to have received a call from McPherson asking why Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown had not been asked along instead.

Mr Hainey, who has opened Pro Paints, claims McPherson warned him: “I hope this doesn’t affect your business”.

The SNP worker this week admitted making the call and said he had been “trying to clear up confusion between list MSPs and MSPs”.

For political news, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/politics-matters/

Scottish independence: Support for Yes drops if voters think it will cost them money – Daily Record

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Scots are far less likely to back independence if they believe it will cause public spending to drop, the introduction of a hard border, or the pound being replaced, a new poll has found.

A survey carried out by Survation on behalf of pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union found that 50 per cent of those asked would be less likely to vote Yes in a referendum if it meant their personal income was reduced.

Respondents were given a number of scenarios around the question: ‘If you thought the following scenarios were likely to occur as a result of Scottish independence, would this make you more or less likely to vote for independence?’.

The introduction of a hard border between Scotland and England could dominate any future referendum campaign.

41 per cent of the people asked in the survey said they would be less likely to vote for independence, compared to 17 who would be more likely if border posts were put up.

If people knew that taxes would increase following independence then 45 per cent of the 1,040 people asked said they would be less likely to vote ‘Yes’, while 36 per cent said they would be neither more or less likely.

The Scotland in Union poll comes days after Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign to end the Union has received a boost.

A survey found a narrow majority in favour of Scottish independence.

The survey, by pollsters Opinium, asked 883 people how they would vote if the referendum question asked was ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’.

Once don’t knows were excluded from the total, 51% said they would vote Yes and 49% said they would vote No.

Here’s all you need to know about the Scotland in Union poll:

The SNP and Alba conferences are over, so what have we learned? – The Scotsman

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Between the virtual SNP conference and that of the new Alba Party in Greenock town hall, the refrain went “anything you can do, I can do better, I can do anything better than you” – with a call and response of “no you can’t, yes I can” coming from Scottish nationalists, once comrades -in-arms, but now locked in a woad-stained battle.

From Keith Brown’s plea to members to “reach out” to No voters to Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum-heavy speech, the SNP conference played many of its greatest indy hits over again. Meanwhile members of the Alba Party congregated for their first conference in Greenock, flocking to the sound of Alex Salmond’s cry for freedom.

The parties may want the same outcome, but their approaches are wildly different. Ms Sturgeon has shifted her stance slightly and is appealing for “co-operation” rather than confrontation with the UK Government in her bid to ensure a second referendum can be held by her promised date of 2023.

She is pinning her hopes on the idea that Boris Johnson will be forced to move his position by the sheer force of democracy and the mandate she says the Scottish people gave her at the May election, when the SNP won a historic fourth term in government.

But there is an undercurrent of a harder-edged challenge from the First Minister.

Work on the “prospectus” or white paper on independence has restarted within the Scottish Government, and she has been clear to state that any vote will be “legal”, which raises the prospect of the whole situation ending up in court – and who knows whether it will be adjudged that such a vote without Westminster approval will indeed be legal.

The Alba Party, however, believe the SNP has been too slow for too long in its demands for independence and called the six years since the referendum “Groundhog Day”.

In his speech, Mr Salmond was scathing, telling delegates: “If you constantly march people up to the top of the hill and then down again, then you end up all singing Rule Britannia.”

Scottish Government warned about race row comic Janey Godley’s offensive tweets months before hiring her for Covid ads – The Sun

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THE Scottish Government hired race row comic Janey Godley for a TV health campaign despite being alerted to offensive tweets about Asian people in June, it has emerged.

Four Twitter posts were flagged up in a complaint three months ago, including two calling for people to “speak English”.

It came after Godley, 60, was booked for an anti-litter push between the Nats administration and the Zero Waste Scotland agency in May.

But the Scottish Government told a woman who complained that “due diligence” checks were carried out on the comedian and pro-indy activist — and that ministers could not “intervene” in her role.

An official added the complainer should contact cops if she had a hate crime to report.

Godley was later paid £12,000 of taxpayer cash to front the “Stop the Spike” Covid ads but was axed when posts about the disabled and black celebs came to light.

Tory MSP Russell Findlay called the latest revelation “staggering”.

He said: “The Scottish Government decided to hand an SNP- supporting comedian a large sum of public cash despite these vile posts being flagged directly with officials.

“This confirms the suspicion that there’s one rule for protected SNP cronies and another for the rest of us.

“Nicola Sturgeon must apologise immediately. Why were racist tweets ignored when awarding a lucrative contract for a crucial public health message in the fight against Covid?”

Labour MSP Foysol Choudhury said the tweets were “deeply troubling”.

But he added: “What raises more serious questions is the government’s response to this. The public deserve answers.”

Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘disgrace’ after heckling MSP over gender reforms – The Herald

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NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of trying to shut down debate about controversial gender reforms after telling an MSP who raised them he should be ashamed of himself.

Speaking about her new Gender Recognition Reform Bill on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon said she understood that “some have sincerely held concerns about” the proposed legislation.

However when Tory Murdo Fraser mentioned a protest by hundreds of women concerned about the “contentious” and “divisive” plan, Ms Sturgeon verbally attacked him for it.

The First Minister, who recently urged MSPs to “make an effort to disagree more civilly”, shouted “Shame on you!” across the Holyrood chamber.

Mr Fraser said the comment was “a disgrace” and accused Ms Sturgeon of dismissing the concerns of the women protesters involved.

It was sign of the increasing tensions at Holyrood over the legislation, which is intended to simplify the process of legally changing one’s gender through self-identification.

Obtaining a gender recognition certificate currently requires a medical diagnosis and takes at least two years.

The new law would remove the medical element and shorten the time to six months, relying on self-declaration in front of a notary public or a justice of the peace instead.

Opponents fear the move will see men who identify as women using single-sex spaces and services, such as refugees, some of whom may abuse the system to prey on women.

Last week around 400 people attended a Women’s Rights demo outside parliament at which the crowd booed mentions of Ms Sturgeon and the Greens, who also back the new law.

Poll: Majority of Scots opposed to second independence referendum in 2023 – Holyrood Magazine

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Just over a third of voters are in favour of a second independence referendum within the next two years, a poll has found.

The Survation poll carried out for the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union found only 38 per cent of those surveyed want a second vote during the timetable set out by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Just over half (52 per cent) said there should not be a referendum in the next two years, while 10 per cent said they didn’t know.

Setting out the Scottish Government’s programme for government on Tuesday, Sturgeon said she had instructed civil servants to begin work on a “detailed prospectus” for independence, with the aim of holding a second vote – nine years since the last – by the end of 2023.

The Survation poll also found that 57 per cent of people in Scotland would vote to “remain” part of the United Kingdom in a referendum – with only 43 per cent in favour of “leaving” the UK.

Among those who voted SNP in the 2021 Holyrood election, 20 per cent would vote to remain part of the UK, and 24 per cent do not believe there should be a referendum on independence within the next two years.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “This poll confirms that Nicola Sturgeon is out of touch with the people of Scotland.

“A majority of voters oppose her plans for a divisive second referendum within the next two years, and she should listen to what people are telling her.

For more news on Scottish politics, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/politics-matters/

Sturgeon pushes for independence (again) – The Spectator

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t’s Groundhog Day in Holyrood. Amid criticisms about her administration’s underwhelming ‘Programme for Government,’ Nicola Sturgeon has returned to her favourite hobby house: Scottish independence. Much like ABBA’s reunion, the First Minister combined some new tunes with her greatest hits, declaring that May’s election was an ‘undeniable’ mandate for such a plebiscite by the end of 2023 ‘once the Covid-19 crisis is passed’.

Steerpike is not surprised at Sturgeon’s choice of priorities, preferring to have her civil servants devote their energies to indyref2 rather than letting Scots take their masks off when sat on a train. The SNP and its acolytes have had no compunction in undermining the Union at every opportunity throughout the pandemic; a strategy that has been great for poll numbers but has led to almost half of Europe’s top 20 Covid-19 hotspots being located in Scotland.

Much more noteworthy is the lack of interest in Sturgeon’s announcement. Westminster was admittedly distracted with Boris Johnson’s tax shenanigans but even north of the border there was a far more muted reaction to the First Minister’s pronouncements then her previous statements. The Scottish editions of both the Times and Daily Telegraph for instance relegated the news on their front to a nib; BBC Scotland similarly buried the announcement on its homepage.

Campbeltown wind turbine factory closes permanently – BBC news

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A wind turbine factory in Argyll has been permanently closed, with administrators now selling off equipment used at the site.

Owners CS Wind effectively mothballed the Campbeltown factory, which manufactured offshore and onshore wind farm equipment, in the spring of 2020.

The company said “deteriorating market conditions” had led to a lack of new contracts and declining revenues.

All staff have now either left or been made redundant.

Three-quarters of the 94-strong workforce had already departed in August 2020 with only a handful of staff left running the facility.

The manufacturing plant, located at the Machrihanish Business Park near Campbeltown, was bought by CS Wind, a South Korean firm, in 2016.

At the time it was Britain’s only UK facility for manufacturing onshore and offshore wind towers.

It previously went into administration in 2011 before a partnership between Scottish and Southern Energy and Marsh Wind Technology saved the factory.

After CS Wind failed to secure major work with the Kincardine and Triton Knoll offshore projects in 2019, the majority of the staff were made redundant.

At the time the Unite union called the move a “major blow to Scotland’s renewables manufacturing capacity.”

“Market conditions” are being blamed for CS Wind (UK) being wound up, yet market conditions for wind power have never looked better.

Thousands of towers are required for turbines being planted in the North Sea, with a huge further boost planned in the next 10 years.

Existing onshore windfarms are being renewed after 25 years of torque and tension from generating power.

So there must be other explanations for the repeated failure to make the Campbeltown factory into a success story.

Part of the problem is thought to be the South Korean ownership failing to give the plant the support it needed in the past five years. There’s been a stand-off with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which provided public funding.

But there is a wider question about the failure to link the renewable power revolution to a manufacturing base in Scotland.

The Scottish government sunk more than £37m in three BiFab yards in Fife and Lewis for fabricating offshore platforms. That also went into administration.

For more environmental fails, click here: https://www.scotlandmatters.co.uk/environment-matters-2/

Finance secretary Kate Forbes challenged by Tories after drawing a blank on figures – The Herald

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KATE FORBES has come under fire from Tory MPs for failing to get to grips with her figures.

Ms Forbes, Scottish finance secretary, was appearing at a session of the Scottish Affairs Committee this afternoon when she was asked about how much the Scottish Government had spent so far on city and region growth deals.