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November 12th – November 18th, 2022 Week 46

 12/11/22 – 18/11/22                                                                                        

Women Won’t Wheesht!

            A woman wearing a purple scarf was told to remove it or leave Committee Room 6 today (15th November).  She was there supporting women’s rights in the ongoing gender reform bill.  Apparently these colours are ‘political’.  The Code of Conduct for visitors bans banners, flags or political slogans including on clothing and accessories, but apparently does not apply to MSPs at least one of whom, Rachael Hamilton, was not thrown out of the chamber for wearing purple and green.  Neither was Joanna Cherry at Westminster.

            As far as I am aware, no politician wearing a rainbow lanyard has ever been asked to leave.  Rainbow lanyards and pink and blue ties as sported by Ross Greer are not political, you see.  The Presiding Officer belatedly apologised for the woman being asked to leave but did not clarify why the request was made or by whom.

            Women are told to ‘be kind’, but only if we are wearing the right colours.

Sex Offenders

            However, sex offenders will likely be able to get a gender recognition certificate (GRC) thanks to the SNP/Greens voting down an amendment proposed by Russell Findlay which would have denied them a GRC unless they could prove they had gender dysphoria.    

           Following on her earlier announcement that predators never pretend to be anything other than predators, Shona Robison claimed there is no evidence of sex offenders taking advantage of the GRC process and wants them to be able to self-identify their way into women’s services.  Murray Blackburn McKenzie and many others have tried to point out the ample evidence to the contrary, but Shona ignores it.

Dundee’s road crossings gone ‘woke’

            Dundee seems to have forgotten the impact on visually impaired people of different coloured road crossings, and have just installed pale pink and blue road crossings on Union Street.  It is not clear whether the council carried out any Equality Impact Assessment on the effects on visually impaired people.  Guide dogs have become confused by this and refused to move, endangering those they are guiding.  These crossings have been tried numerous times across the UK and each time they seem to be done with no reference at all to the disabled.

            Roads and pavements are becoming a minefield of overlapping cycle, pedestrian, car and bus lanes where pedestrians may have to cross several different lanes to get on a bus.  It is also becoming easy for motorists to be caught in bus lanes because you have no choice, or for pedestrians, particularly visually impaired ones, to be injured because of confusing road layouts.

A New Scots Currency

            The Scottish Greens are against ‘rushing into’ a new Scots currency or tying its introduction to arbitrary yardsticks.  Ross Greer warns against parties imposing their agenda without considering the ‘wider … political context’.  Oh, the irony.

Baroness Davidson

            is certainly on the money with her appearances in the House of Lords.  She has claimed over £15,000 in allowances and expenses in her first year in return for attending on 34 days, attending only 18% of the votes. 

Warships to be built on the Clyde

            The UK government is ordering 5 more warships, to be built on the Clyde, supporting 1700 jobs over the next decade at BAE Systems at Govan and Scotstoun.  They are to replace the fleet of 12 retiring Type 23 frigates.  Prompted this time by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this is not the first-time Clyde has been promised work. Remember the 13 Type 26 frigates if we voted ‘No’ in 2014, then it was reduced to 8, then 3…

Get Me Home Safely

            Maggie Chapman has launched proposals for a new law requiring hospitality bosses to provide free late-night transport to help workers get home safely.   This follows Unite the Union’s Newcastle campaign for safe transport home for hospitality workers.  Licensees would need to satisfy this requirement to obtain late licences.  Ms Chapman wants the bill extended later on to other shift workers, emergency staff, social carers and others who have no choice in the hours they work.

            City centres late at night are not safe even for men but particularly for women, especially as they are often the scene of drunk or antisocial behaviour, which if nothing else, unnerves those running the gauntlet.

            Again, the irony….

Planning

            Scotland needs more planners to deliver the green revolution.  Numbers have dropped by one third since 2008, and funding has dropped with it.  To fulfil the demand for renewables investment, Scotland needs twice as much capacity in the next few years as it has put in place over the last 30 years, which means planning applications, which needs planners.

Rural NHS

            The 2007 SNP pledge to ensure all six rural hospitals in Scotland are staffed by a minimum 3 general surgeons has not yet been met.  Only the Balfour Hospital in Orkney and the Gilbert Bain in Shetland are operating at the required level.  The other 4 hospitals, the Belford in Fort William, Caithness General Hospital in Wick, Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban and the Western Isles Hospital all have fewer.

Domestic Abuse Act

            Demands are growing for Scotland to enact a law to cover the death of an unborn baby resulting from domestic abuse to the mother.  Scotland lacks the equivalent of England and Wales’ crime of child destruction, which can carry a 14-year sentence.  Another option would be to use the existing law of attempted murder or domestic abuse, add on the fact that an unborn baby died and reflect this in the sentence.

Health/Women:

            Draft new NHS guidelines mean that ‘woman’ is not to be included in sexual health service information for fear of upsetting trans men! ‘Inclusive’ signage, registration forms, leaflets and training as part of NHS National Services Scotland’s Scottish Pathway for Trans Healthcare (SPATH) is aiming for ‘inclusion’ by excluding ‘women’ and wants to specifically include non-binary identities.  It is part of a general move away from ‘gendered healthcare’.  ForWomen Scotland says the Scottish NHS is in the grip of a science-denying cult.  They rightly say gender is irrelevant in healthcare, but sex on the other hand is extremely relevant.

A83 Rest and Be Thankful

            Ministers have confirmed that a permanent fix to the A83 may not be ready until 2033, despite a campaign by 1500 businesses to have it finished by 2024.  The project will not be formally adopted and approved until spring 2023.  Every year it is closed for various periods due to landslips, in 2020 for over 200 days.  Transport Scotland’s preferred route is via Glen Croe, with 5 options vying for approval, some of which include tunnels which would take up to two years longer to complete.

            Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth blamed the long timescale on technical challenges and the ‘dynamic’ landscape. 

Nuclear Safety

            The UK Cabinet Office published a list of over 2400 EU laws which will fall on 31st December 2023 if not specifically retained.  Among them are 10 key regulations protecting the public and workers from nuclear accidents and radiation leaks.           

            The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ORN) is working to preserve the legislative framework which includes the 2019 Radiation (Emergency Preparedness and Public Information) Regulations compelling councils and companies to draw up emergency plans in the event of a nuclear accident.

The Migrant Worker Extension

            has led to over 30 mostly British workers being replaced by cheaper foreign workers for the Normand Navigator, a Norwegian-registered supply ship working on the Neart Na Gaoithe offshore wind farm in Fife.  The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union believe the British crew will be replaced by Filipino workers.  The concession exists due to sector fears of a shortage of workers, and has been temporarily extended on several occasions, the latest being to the end of April 2023, but government minister Robert Jenrick says the scheme will definitely close then.

VAT and the National Care Service

             The rollout of the new service may be delayed, and its final cost is unclear.  It has also been revealed that the Value Added Tax (VAT) bill for the service may be £32 million.  Currently the integrated boards delivering adult community health and social care services can largely reclaim VAT.  It depends on whether the new boards will fall under section 33 or section 41 of the VAT Act 1994.  If the former, the boards can recover all VAT associated with taxable business and non-business activities, but if the latter they can claim a refund of VAT on some services only.

Gaelic University

            Campaigners argue that Sabhal Mor Ostaig (National Centre for Gaelic Language and Culture) College on Skye should become the first degree-awarding Gaelic University. It already partners with the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) in delivering further and higher education and is unique in offering instruction solely in the Gaelic language.

Finally,

            Two animals had lucky escapes recently, being rescued from busy roads.  A baby otter about a month old was rescued from the road at Monymusk in Aberdeenshire and was taken to the New Arc rescue centre in Ellon where she will stay for 12 months.  

             And a puppy dodging traffic on the A96 has the players of Turriff United to thank for stopping their team bus, then stopping traffic while they dodged around trying to scoop her up, finally getting the Pomeranian cross called Foxy to safety on the bus. 

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