19/11/22 – 25/11/22
Death of the Act of Union:
Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court decided that Scotland does not have permission to hold an independence vote without Westminster’s agreement. Nothing shouts ‘prisoner’ more clearly than that. Scots Law is meant to be guaranteed by the Act of Union 1707, and Scots Law’s foundation on the sovereignty of the people is in marked contrast to English Law, which holds that the supreme power is the King in Parliament. The UK’s position that this encompasses Scotland too is wrong.
If they were really upholding Scots Law, the wishes of the Scottish people for a referendum or even independence itself would be enough in light of the clear will of the people expressed in elections over many years.
Needing ‘permission’ shows how hollow is the talk of a precious family of nations. But regardless of what the UK says, Scots Law remains supreme in Scotland and it is under Scots Law that Scotland must claim independence. No more asking permission.
The SNP plan to hold a special conference early in 2023 to discuss their next moves.
For Women Scotland arranged for two de-transitioners to appear before the Scottish parliament on Tuesday this week to warn them against rushing into gender reforms which they believe do not have sufficient safeguards, or indeed any at all. Sinead Watson from Glasgow and Ritchie Herron from Newcastle say the voices of de-transitioners have not been heard by any of those rushing through gender reform legislation. Miss Watson is especially concerned about plans to allow 16- and 17-year olds to get a gender recognition certificate. Her experience was that when she went to a gender identity clinic she was headlong affirmed in a decision she thought at that time was right, but later regretted, saying the clinic failed to address her underlying issues.
Ritchie Herron is concerned about the ‘huge increase in numbers of young girls presenting as trans’, saying the number of males having gender reassignment surgery may soon exceed the numbers of trans-identified women having double mastectomies.
Herron had two short appointments at a clinic followed by medical and surgical interventions, and says it left him with lifelong side effects. He claims the clinic overlooked his vulnerable state at that time in the rush to affirm his chosen gender. He too later regretted the decisions and the course of action he took.
UN Concerns on Gender Reform:
Nicola Sturgeon appeared to dismiss the concerns of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women Reem Alsalem, who said the government’s proposed reforms do not properly consider potential unintended consequences. Saying it is violent men we have to fear, Sturgeon refused Conservative MSP Pam Gosal’s request to put the reforms on hold, saying they would reply to the rapporteur ‘soon’. She also refused to say what plans the Scottish government actually has to curb violent men.
One year prior to her death, Adrienne McCartney from Irvine spoke to the Sunday Post to reveal the domestic abuse she suffered and what she regarded as the continued failings of police and prosecutors to protect her (‘For Adrienne: A victim betrayed’, Marion Scott, 20/11/22). Weighed down by the feeling that she was being continually let down, she died in August this year after taking a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. She had seen the most serious charges against her husband dropped and due to an error the fiscal also failed to ask for a Non-Harassment Order which she had specifically requested.
The police were not so tardy though in arresting her for a ‘social media post’, although she was never charged. She felt let down by NHS Ayrshire and Arran when she asked for a psychiatrist or counsellor. Instead they offered her an online cognitive behaviour course. Various allegations against Police Scotland over their treatment of her came to nothing.
The Elimination of Violence Against Women Day
on November 25th opens 16 days of activism around Scotland and elsewhere culminating with events on International Human Rights Day, 10th December. There will be various events and workshops, mostly organised through the local authority.
for more information go to the ISP website or ISP Safe in Scotland on facebook, or check with your local authority to see what they have planned.
Alexa, Spy on my Ex for me
A male was convicted recently at Livingston Sheriff Court for using an Alexa smart device to spy on his ex-partner. The House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Select Committee is currently considering the potential for bad faith actors to abuse new technology. Alexa is supposed to play a warning tone when someone connects remotely via ‘drop-in’, but if you are in a different room when this happens, you may not hear the warning.
Or the microphone being muted prevents it hearing the trigger words which activate it. Professor George Loukas, cybersecurity expert from the University of Greenwich told the committee that ‘tech-assisted abuse at home is common nowadays’.
De-coupling Renewable Energy prices
The SNP have joined trade body Energy UK and the Scottish Greens to call on the UK government to decouple renewable energy prices from the cost of gas, in an effort to lower prices for consumers. Unit prices for all forms of energy are tied to gas prices on the world market, which have risen dramatically due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This could save households on average £250 a year (£18 billion in total) and save businesses a total of £11 billion. Energy Action Scotland supports the move, saying the energy crisis is on a par with the covid pandemic and needs the same kind of overarching response by the UK government. They in turn have so far not responded.
The Housing First programme has been hailed as a game-changer for homeless people with complex support needs, providing homes first, then intensive tailored support for as long as a person needs. Its Pathfinder Programme has scaled up delivery of housing across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dundee Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, housing 579 people so far.
Central to this was £2 million from social enterprise the Social Bite raised through mass sleep- outs, plus £5.5 million funding from the Scottish government and £150,000 from The Merchants House Of Glasgow.
The programme helps to halt repeat homelessness, not least by its support to combat drug misuse and the help it gives in negotiating the benefits system and healthcare.
There are as many as 1333 Housing First tenancies across Scotland.
People dying on the street
The Scottish homelessness crisis is evident in that almost five people a week died while living on the street or in temporary accommodation, some due to drug misuse. This is where the Housing First initiative comes into its own in providing housing first, then tackling the other problems a person faces, rather than the traditional model which tries to get people ‘clean’ first, then give them a home.
are increasingly giving up the struggle and moving back in with their parents, according to research for investment manager Fidelity International. Fully 44% of 18–35-year-olds in Scotland have either already moved back or plan to do so. Others have moved in with friends to spread the astronomical costs of renting.
When buying became too expensive, renting was the safety net, but when renting became too expensive, society suddenly woke up to the fact that there is no further safety net. We need to build more houses and other types of property, but also desperately need rent control legislation, to free up properties which owners can no longer sustain without receiving sky-high rents to subsidise their own mortgages. Putting them back on the market would start to correct the shamefully out-of-kilter housing market, enabling more people to buy again, bringing prices down gradually and relieving the pressure on the rental market.
Landlord unions say Airbnb brings money into an area. True, but this can be sporadic, and when too many properties are lost to holiday lets and second homes the real loss is the communities which had built up over generations, children going to local schools, people building a sense of community, then having their lives uprooted. You can’t put a price on that.
A two-tier NHS?
Nicola Sturgeon reaffirmed that the NHS in Scotland will remain free for all but did not deny that senior NHS managers had discussed introducing money-saving measures like reviewing free prescriptions, faster discharge from hospital, and pausing funding for new drugs, or even charging wealthier patients. The outrage from Scottish Conservatives was predictable, but they failed to point out that the English NHS has gone down the privatisation route to a much greater extent than Scotland.
The Edinburgh International Book Festival
will be scaled back next year due to a fall of 40% in their income compared to 2019. There will be redundancies among the 32 full-time and 150 temporary staff. About 100 of next year’s events will be cut but it will go ahead at the Edinburgh College of Art as this year. The blame has been put on covid and on the growing cost of living crisis, leaving people with little disposable income.
Last month the Edinburgh International Film Festival called in administrators with the Filmhouse Cinema in Edinburgh and the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen ceasing trading immediately, along with the film festival. The arts in general continue to have a torrid time in their efforts to recover from the pandemic.
concluded last Friday with no further strengthening of the commitments to end fossil fuel use, although the new Loss and Damage Fund to assist countries which are suffering is a welcome addition. The Scottish government committed a total of £7 million last year and this to the fund.
for more on COP27 go to the ISP website and ISP on facebook
Three rare white reindeer from the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd are ready to go on tour for the first time. Vanilla, Mr Whippy and 99 were born in the summer and are now ready to join the rest of the 150-strong herd as they embark on their travels round the UK spreading festive cheer.
Their calming nature and wintry looks evoke the cosy nights of winter and may be just the tonic for stressed-out people in these trying days.