29/04/23 – 05/05/23
Following ISP’s request to lodge a petition asking for the Stone of Destiny not to go south for the coronation, the Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament claimed it is the Monarch’s prerogative to decide what is to be done with the Stone. This was swiftly followed by the unedifying spectacle of Scotland’s First Minister trotting behind the Stone as it left for England after Alister Jack is reported to have stood guard so that it would not be nicked again by those nasty nats.
Monarchical prerogative is grounded in the English concept of monarchy where the monarch is supreme, but in Scotland it is the people who are sovereign. The Crown is not the personal possession of the monarch, nor is the government or land of Scotland (which includes Scotland’s natural resources). As underpinned by the Declaration of Arbroath and the Claim of Right, the monarch reigns at the pleasure of the people of Scotland and we can remove him or her whenever we wish if he or she does not do what the people want.
Scottish Coronation Oath
While Scotland’s legal system, church and education are expressly preserved by the Act of Union, Westminster has ignored and denied the distinct and separate nature of Scotland’s laws and monarchy. The Scottish Coronation Oath has not been taken since Queen Anne. As long as Charles refuses to take the Scottish coronation oath and refuses the sovereignty of the Scottish people, however much you are a monarchist, Charles will not be the lawful king of Scotland.
Now the people are being invited to take their own oath of allegiance to Charles. Scottish Republicans of course will not take it. But should Scottish monarchists take it if said monarch has not taken the Scottish Coronation Oath?
Campaign Group Republic
have branded the pledge ‘offensive, tone deaf and a gesture that holds the people in contempt’. The Establishment hopes the pledge will result in a great cry around the nation… of support for the King’. Many people cry out in anger about austerity and privilege. We are constantly fed the lie that one of the richest countries in the world ‘can’t afford’ a decent pay rise for medical staff or to feed and house its people. Perhaps they could have a Poundland coronation, complete with plastic crown, and tell Charles he is going to pay inheritance tax whether he wants to or not.
as expected have stepped up to the plate with no fewer than 145 articles on the monarchy on their website. For republicans, there are veiled media warnings about protesting. It’s allowed, but …. Probably best not to.
Originally on the list of British and Commonwealth artists to be celebrated at the coronation, The Proclaimers’ ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ is now off the list after they criticised of a lack of republican perspectives in the media over the Queen’s death and funeral.
Meanwhile a petition has been launched to strip Prince Andrew of his title as the Earl of Inverness. He has already lost the right to be called His Royal Highness and other military titles including air commodore.
Consumer Advice Scotland (CAS) want stricter punishments for harassment and illegal evictions by landlords, and strengthened rights of redress including civil damages, temporary bans on landlords guilty of bad practices, and mandatory landlord training prior to registration.
CAS were consulted about illegal evictions in 522 cases in 2022/23 (up 60% since before the pandemic), with 675 or more applications for evictions from private landlords, and 125 social housing tenants evicted from their homes since the eviction ban in September.
A New Kind of Letting Agency
working on a not-for-profit basis will be established later this year, backed by Lloyds Banking Group and homelessness charity Crisis, to partner with Scotland-based social enterprise lettings agency Homes for Good (HfG) to make renting easier and more affordable.
HfG was founded in 2013 to help people on low incomes access private rentals. The agency will ban exclusionary practices like demanding advance rent from the homeless, strict reference requirements and guarantors. Profits will be reinvested. Beginning in London, it will later extend across Britain.
Scottish government ministers are considering legal action to claim thousands of long-term empty properties from their owners to solve the nation’s homelessness crisis, using Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs)
Around 43,000 homes liable for council tax have been empty for 6 months or more, of which 28,000 have been empty over a year. Over 14,400 families are in temporary housing. An expert group under previous housing secretary Shona Robison is calling for a ‘large-scale national acquisition policy to buy private-sector properties tailored to local needs’ for differing types of housing. It also suggests that landlords evicting tenants to sell their house should have to consider selling to the local authority first. Scottish-government funded Scottish Empty Homes Partnership and tenants’ union Living Rent agree.
Scotland’s 2017 aim of making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring has not been realised, with rising numbers rough sleeping, people trapped in homelessness and 10,000 children in temporary accommodation. Local authorities have CPO powers to purchase homes without the owner’s agreement if it is ‘in the public interest’. But the power is used infrequently and tends to be used for significant buildings regenerating a whole area. Problems include a lack of staff resources for preparing a case for a CPO and upfront legal costs.
This week in Edinburgh 1100 experts from 50 countries will discuss 600 research papers to try and learn more about endometriosis, which plagues many women who are often disbelieved by the medical profession.
The condition often, but not always, causes excruciating pain and can lead to infertility. Its causes may be genetic, environmental or an immune system malfunction. Tissue similar to that lining the uterus wall grows elsewhere, affecting 10% to 12% of women worldwide.
It is hoped to develop more effective treatments for a condition being recognised belatedly by the medical profession.
SNP Manifesto Dropped?
Humza Yousaf has signalled he intends to throw the kitchen sink at measures to eradicate poverty, saying difficult decisions must be made on election pledges not yet delivered, in order to target (means test) help.
He may look to increase taxes on those earning over £100,000, and drop the commitment to free school meals for P5 and P6 pupils, as well as secondary pupils. Free healthcare and university tuition will remain, but prescriptions may be under threat. And although he says communities will not be forced to accept Highly Protected Marine Areas (HPMAs), he struggled to define fishing communities or how they might appeal.
Audit Scotland say doubts remain over the long-term future of the Ferguson Marine shipyard due to the lack of a business plan. But a new round of bonus payments totalling £47,000 is being made to Ferguson Marine directors, following £87,000 paid last year. Shona Robison claims the payments are due to ‘legacy contractual commitments’ made in 2022 ‘without the prior knowledge of the Scottish government’, claiming they are legal requirements, although HumzaYousaf contradicted this by saying no bonuses should be paid this financial year.
FM’s last financial review for 2021-22 admitted to ‘significant doubt’ over its continuation as a going concern due to funding doubts. A revised performance framework for bonus payments is still awaiting consideration and approval by the Scottish government, but it appears bonus payments already paid cannot be clawed back.
And anger is mounting over CalMac paying £1.6m for crew salaries to March this year for crews on the ferries which are still being built. The salaries include pay, travel and subsistence, pension and National Insurance contributions. CalMac say crew salaries were funded by the yard, but Ferguson Marine deny this.
Most new crew members have been employed since February 2022 – three masters, three chief engineers, three second engineers and five third engineers.
And the recently-recruited MV Alfred (costing £1 million per month) may go back to Pentland Ferries following the grounding of the MV Pentalina even though it appears there is no contractual obligation to do so.
Waste Targets off track
The Scottish government is off its 2025 waste targets, with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) saying only one of four targets has been met, to reduce total waste (19.9% achieved against a 15% target). Off-track are landfill bans and recycling 70% of waste, and there are no stats for food waste reduction.
And job creation has inversely tailed off the more revenue is generated in the offshore wind sector, with only 3,100 full time jobs created by 2021, when over 19,000 had been estimated. In 2014, for every £1 million of income from offshore wind firms the result was 7 jobs, but now it is only 1.
Arms firms getting government grants
Despite the Scottish government saying it does not fund weapons manufacture, it has given £8 million grants to companies linked to the arms industry, including Chemring Energetics UK Ltd, Boeing, BAE Systems and 5 others, which together made £738m profit in the last financial year. Chemring’s finance helped it in process innovation, automated design, test and optimisation of advanced manufacturing processes in activities including pyrotechnics, battlefield simulation products and flares.
Axing The Butcher
There are calls to rename a street honouring Prince William Augustus, the ‘Butcher Cumberland’ memorialised in Kirriemuir’s Cumberland Close. He ordered the execution of Jacobites left alive after the Battle of Culloden, as well as Jacobite supporters more widely in the Highlands, ordered settlements to be burned down and livestock confiscated. More than 100 Jacobites were hanged, women raped and imprisoned, and many were sent to London for trial.
Cumberland was given the freedom of the City of Glasgow and made chancellor of both Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities, and calls have persisted over the years to remove Cumberland’s statue from Ben Bhraggie in Sutherland.