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January 28th – February 3rd, 2023

28/01/23 – 03/02/23

Active Travel

            ISP Leader Colette Walker recently drew media attention to the problems the visually-impaired are still experiencing in navigating new street layouts which aim to encourage active travel.  Some major roads require pedestrians to cross cycle lanes to get to bus stops and crossings, as well as pavement dips being too shallow, making it hard for guide dogs to differentiate between footpaths, cycle lanes and roads.  Guide dogs and their owners are confused by the new lanes.  Controlled crossings do not run consistently between each staggered crossing.

            Glasgow City Council said it had followed national guidelines for its Victoria Road scheme but will make amendments to the Sauchiehall Street scheme.  Leith Walk in Edinburgh has been described as a ‘no-go zone’, with the pedestrian footpath and cycle path put next to each other at an indistinguishable height.

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The Scottish National Investment Bank

            is still without a chief executive a year after the last one suddenly left her post.  The bank is responsible for £2 bn of public money intended to invest in green projects to support the race to net zero. The first chief executive Eilidh Mactaggart resigned after 18 months in the post, citing personal reasons, with the bank paying her over £98K without explanation in lieu of notice.

            A replacement was expected in the latter half of 2022, but despite hiring London-based head-hunters to recruit a successor, there has been no progress apart from one candidate emerging, who later decided not to take the post.  The cost to the bank for the failed recruitment process is nearing £180,000.


            The Scottish government is set to lose most of the £52.4 million it paid into part state-owned renewables manufacturer Burntisland Fabrications (BiFab) after its first collapse in 2020.  This is despite the government being a secured creditor. The Scottish government first became involved in 2017, when it gave BiFab a £37.4 m bailout and then converted it to a 32.4% equity stake in the company, which stakeholding became worthless when BiFab entered administration.  They also provided a loan facility of over £15m as part of the firm’s working capital, an amount which is now a debt of the collapsed BiFab.

            The government has put up £300,000 to take legal action to claw back £17.8 million, a claim which the current administrators would pursue.  Assets like factories and equipment will be sold off.  But ahead of the Scottish government in the queue as secured creditor is the Royal Bank of Scotland, potentially owed £14m, which could swallow up most or all of any available funds.

Oil firm sent equipment to Russia

            American firm Baker Hughes, which received nearly £5 million grants from Scottish Enterprise, exported oil and gas drilling equipment from Montrose to Russia three months after Scottish ministers announced they wanted Scottish businesses to cease trading with Russia.  This was not illegal, but a cessation had been requested by the Scottish government.  The fear is that Scottish government money may indirectly have helped fund the Russian war effort against Ukraine.  Baker Hughes suspended new investment in Russia in March 2022, but the last shipment from Montrose was in June 2022, with Scottish support ceasing in July 2022.

Is Scotland out of step with the EU?

            Anthony Salamone of the Europa Institute at the University of Edinburgh claims that Scotland has done little to maintain close relations with the EU despite the Scottish majority in favour of the EU.  He says Scotland has become disconnected from the institutions, politics and functioning of the EU and Scots Law has not kept up with European legislation, despite having a provision in its EU Continuity Act enabling it to do so.  He is aware that automatically linking Scottish independence has made some people move further away instead of nearer to Europe.  He also blames the Scottish government for having no plan on how to remain close to the EU while still within in the UK.  And that’s before many EU laws just fall at the end of 2023 if they are not specifically adopted by the UK.

            Angus Robertson countered that Scotland is continuing to engage with the EU through trade dialogues, the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement meetings, and Scotland’s own overseas networks.

The National Care Service

            Plans to introduce a national care service along the lines of the NHS have stalled as the UK’s second biggest union decided to boycott further involvement, objecting to the transfer of social care from local government to the Scottish government.  The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) have urged the government to delay the rollout until at least the autumn as it is so far from what they envisaged.

Cannabis and Psychiatric admissions

            Cannabis is now the drug most likely to trigger mental illness, with 3,700 new patients in the last three years presenting with hallucinations and psychotic delusions linked to cannabinoids. Hospital admissions are up by 68% since its use was decriminalised in Scotland in 2016. It is responsible for 29% of new admissions nationally; but as high as 50% of new admissions in the Western Isles; and over 40% in Fife, East Renfrewshire and Mid and East Lothian.

            As prosecutions have halved, psychiatric admissions linked to cannabis have soared.  Experts are warning that cannabis is not the soft option it is claimed to be.

Gender Reform:

Tiffany Scott

            After the uproar caused by the plan to house Isla Bryson in a women’s jail, Nicola Sturgeon then saw no problem in allowing another violent sexual offender to be jailed in a women’s prison, the prisoner having transitioned after committing the crimes.  This prisoner is so dangerous on various occasions court proceedings had to be suspended, and Scott attacked and stalked female staff, bit open veins and squirted blood around.  Scott is on an Order for Lifelong Restriction, but apparently imprisoned women were ‘risk-assessed’ as safe in his presence.

            The second public outcry resulted in Scott remaining in the male prison estate.

‘Italian-style prisons for trans inmates

            Marion Calder of Forwomen Scotland has suggested building a special trans unit within the male prison estate, as has occurred in Italy.   Justice Secretary Keith Brown also said a trans unit in women’s jails may be an option. 

Violent/non-violent offenders

            But he then tied himself in knots when trying to justify his government’s previous stance by saying ‘violent’ offenders shouldn’t be in the women’s estate, but ‘non-violent’ ones were okay, showing little understanding that sexual violence escalates.  It may start at flashing and peeping tom activities, often with a sexual element for the perpetrator, but without physical violence against women.  The most serious crimes of rape and murder are preceded by lesser offences, so what if prisoners are imprisoned as ‘non-violent’ and graduate to ‘violent’ when imprisoned?

A full house of phobias

            Not content with traducing gender-critical women as transphobic, and refusing to apologise for it, Nicola Sturgeon then doubled down by inferring they may also be ‘deeply misogynistic (!), often homophobic and …some may be racist’.


Health Secretary refuses to meet Mesh Victims

            Women who have suffered from mesh implants have called on the Scottish government to hold an independent review into the use of surgical mesh products, but this was denied by Health Secretary Humza Yousaf.  Polypropylene mesh implants are still in use in some cases.

GP Practices closing to new patients

            The number of practices in Greater Glasgow and Clyde which are closing to new patients is rising, and some are restricting their geographical area of coverage, as well as dropping services like joint injections. From one or two closures it is now ‘in the teens’. Glasgow Local Medical Committee said there are no practices in their area which are not in some level of ‘escalation’, where practices temporarily suspend some non-essential activities like arthritis injections.

Saturday GPs

            Nicola Sturgeon has suggested one way of easing the pressure on the NHS would be to open GP surgeries on Saturdays, a plan rejected by most GPs.  Lanarkshire GPs agreed Saturday opening for January only, but Dr Andrew Buist, chairman of the British Medical Association Scotland’s GP Committee, said lack of staff would make Saturday opening impossible, saying GPs have enough trouble covering Monday to Friday as it is.

Routes to Independence are getting very crowded:

            The SNP’s Route to Indy Conference will set out two options for members to vote on.  If over 50% of eligible voters vote Yes in a Westminster election it would either be a mandate to negotiate independence or indicate support for a second referendum, followed by a demand to transfer s30 powers.  Angus Robertson and Alyn Smith say Yes will be an automatic vote for Independence in the EU.  Alba’s Neale Hanvey MP used an Early Day Motion at Westminster to force a debate to transfer s30 powers to Holyrood.  Under this scenario, if the Scottish people somehow show they want one, a referendum can be held, with further referendums allowed within 7 years of the previous one.  This bill gets a second reading on March 24th.  And former chief Yes strategist Stephen Noon is looking to UK constitutional reform, a form of devo-max, which would possibly depend on giving Scotland concessions.    

            In terms of elections, it’s surprising how many people are now seriously considering the ISP’s original idea of a plebiscite election.


            Is it time for revolution or at least a few weekly marches?  After the raising of the pension age, particularly bad for WASPI women; ordinary people subsidising energy companies’ profits; homeowning becoming limited to a smaller and smaller ‘elite’; the bonfire of EU regulations; the Internal Market Act; and legislation amending human rights and the right to strike, should we follow the French lead?

            The Gilets Jaunes first mobilised in 2019, protesting for weeks against the cost of living, and ordinary people and trade unionists are again on the streets protesting President Macron’s recent decision to raise the retirement age by 2 years to 64, which two-thirds of French people oppose.

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