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September 3rd – September 9th, 2022 Week 36

03/09/22 – 09/09/22         

Another Police Scotland ‘Boys’ Club?

            Former police constable Gemma MacRae has accused Police Scotland of failing to tackle a systemic culture of sexism, bullying and misogyny in the force.  Prosecutors took three years to dismiss 20 allegations against the ‘Moray Boys’ Club’, with only one allegation of sexual assault against her by a former colleague leading to prosecution and conviction five years after she first reported him. 

            It started when she reported her live-in police officer partner for domestic abuse and was ostracised by male colleagues.  No action was taken against him, but her life unravelled.  She was sent a funeral cross and mocked by a senior officer as being mentally unstable due to stress.  On one occasion she was taken out in a van by a group of male officers into a forest and dumped alone and terrified before they returned to pick her up, mocking her.

            She says the group of male officers was not investigated properly, and she remained unsupported, eventually forced out of her dream job.  The officer who sexually assaulted her worked on for a year, then left with a pension.  He will be sentenced later this month.  Her ex-partner, accused by her of domestic abuse, is now a Kent Police officer.   

            Other female officers reported incidents involving the same group of officers. Most allegations were not deemed to amount to criminality or there was insufficient evidence, said the force. h Chief Superintendent Catriona Henderson said the guilty officer’s conduct would have been potentially gross misconduct had he remained in post but there was nothing to stop him resigning and keeping his pension.  However, CS Henderson thinks this has improved things for women going forward.

Ferries

            The two ferries housing Ukrainian refugees may be used until December 2024, despite worries over cramped conditions, lack of privacy, and problems with forging links with the local community.   The Leith Ferry has 1400 people onboard, including 500 children, and visitors are not allowed onboard.

Island Ferries

            The continuing saga is undermining island life but appears of little concern to Nicola Sturgeon or even some of her MPs.  She has resolutely refused to charter an additional vessel to improve fleet resilience, and expects islanders to wait until next year at the earliest for the two ferries under construction, but the long delays make it unclear they will even be fit for purpose.

            Work on the pier at Uig on Skye has been revamped to mean that the six-month closure has been reduced to 14 weeks over two periods, eight weeks in January 2023 and 6 weeks later in 2023.  This is to accommodate a ferry which has not yet been built.

            It is hard not to believe that the islands are not only physically peripheral, but politically peripheral as well.

Women’s Issues:

The ‘female brain’ and impulse shopping

            University of Glasgow Professor John Paul Leach, consultant neurologist and head of undergraduate medicine, thought it hilarious to show a graphic depicting the ‘female brain’ in terms of ‘impulse shopping’, ‘gold digging’, ‘shiny things and diamonds’, ‘driving skills’ and so on.  The slide was eventually removed when students complained. 

            He obviously thought he was back in the 1990s when he worked as a ‘comedian’ while working as a research registrar.  Another (male) academic, Dr Stuart Waiton, sociology lecturer at Abertay University, Dundee, leapt to his defence, saying we must differentiate between ‘serious discrimination’ and a ‘not very clever attempt to be funny’.

            No, this demeans women, especially coming from a medical professor teaching students.  Last year a study by the British Medical Association found that 91% of female doctors had experienced sexism at work, and whereas only 4% of male doctors felt their clinical ability had been doubted or undervalued due to their sex, for women the figure was 70%.

Gender Reform bill:

            Liz Truss is working to block Scotland’s plans for gender reform, citing concerns over people from elsewhere in the UK obtaining a gender recognition certificate (GRC) in Scotland on terms which would not apply in their home countries.

            She is concerned about women’s rights in Scotland, England and Wales.  As women’s rights to single sex spaces are based on the Equality Act 2010, her intervention would be correct.  The Scottish government cannot take away single sex spaces and cannot redefine ‘woman’ to allow males in.

for more on Women’s Issues, go to ISP Safe in Scotland or ISP on Facebook

UK/NZ Trade Deal

            SNP MSP Jim Fairlie thinks the much-heralded UK/New Zealand trade deal is a very bad deal for Scotland (‘Why New Zealand trade deal is so bad for Scotland’, National, 7/09/22) and may undermine the whole farming sector, leading to depopulation and land abandonment, with long-term food shortages.

            In the first year of the deal, the UK will let in 12,000 tonnes of NZ beef, compared to the 3,333 tonnes across all 27 countries allowed by the EU.  By year 15, the UK will allow in 60,000 tonnes of NZ beef and 50,000 tonnes of mutton, and thereafter an unlimited quantity, while the EU will cap imports at 10,000 tonnes which will be subject to tariffs. 

IndyRef2

            Even before being confirmed as PM, Liz Truss has declared she will ignore opinion polls supporting independence unless they reach over 60% for over a year AND over 50% of eligible voters vote for it.    

            The SNP will now submit written arguments on Scotland’s right to hold a referendum but are limited to 20 pages and must avoid repeating the Lord Advocate’s case.

Dialysis and Rising Energy Bills

            Those who use kidney dialysis machines at home may miss vital treatments due to being unable to pay to run the machines for five hours a day three times a week.  Patients who skip sessions have a 68% higher mortality rate than those who do not.  They also get very cold and can’t just ‘put on another jumper’.

Rent Controls and Eviction Freeze

            The SNP has belatedly brought in an immediate rent freeze to the private and social rent sectors, with an eviction ban till at least March 2023.  The move has been universally welcomed by renters, but predictably opposed by landlords who claim that it will make them sell their houses/flats and reduce the rental supply, thus pushing up rents.  Renters would say rents have already risen out of all proportion and it is time for a reset.

            In countries like the Netherlands, rent increases are contingent on property improvements.  Here, it is hard to get obligatory repairs done by landlords.

Student Support is Broken

            The National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland has published research, entitled ‘Broke’, showing worrying levels of financial distress and poverty.  Twelve per cent of respondents had experienced homelessness since starting their studies, with 64% of respondents experiencing mental ill-health due to money worries.  Ending student support in June forces them onto Universal Credit.  Scottish government support over the summer would have helped immensely, more than the mere encouragement of student hardship funds to fill the gap.

            The situation worsened over the summer and some students are now desperate.  And new students to the University of Glasgow are no longer guaranteed university accommodation, regardless of where they are from.  One student was reported to be living in a tent in St Andrews, such is the shortage of affordable accommodation.

Shipbuilding Investment

            A £100 million plan has been unveiled to secure shipbuilding on the Upper Clyde at Govan.  BAE Systems is building a new shipbuilding hall to enable it to fully construct ships indoors then move the parts to a new assembly facility at Govan.  The yard has an order for three type 26 frigates and hopes for a Ministry of Defence contract for five more.  The plan allows eventually for two ships to be constructed simultaneously.

            BAE will recruit between 1000 and 1200 staff in the maritime sector this year, 400 of whom will be at Govan, and they will recruit 200 apprentices next year, investing in a skills academy to train and keep skilled staff.   

Access to Cash

            A new banking model involving Post Office ‘hubs’ is being extended to Scotland after the Cash Action Group campaigned to keep cash available for all.  Special Post Office Hubs will support all major retail banks.  Scottish locations include Brechin, Forres, Carluke and Kirkcudbright, following the pilot BankHUB at Cambuslang, with each of the five major banks taking turns to provide weekday services.  

            Cash is still needed by those who have strict budgets, like the vulnerable, learning disabled and others on fixed incomes.  Many others like having the option of cash and counter services, especially as internet banking may be patchy in rural areas due to poor internet connectivity.

            Cambuslang led the charge for cash four years ago when three bank branches closed in 18 months and the number of cash machines reduced from four to two.  As many as half the 1000 bank branches available in Scotland in 2015 have since closed.

Finally,

            Zippy the Stowaway Palm Squirrel is being cared for after arriving in Scotland from India aboard a ship.  The crew finally rounded him up only three days before they docked in Aberdeen.  They had kept him supplied with grapes after he had evaded them for most of the journey due to a nifty turn of speed.  The New Arc charity (North East Wildlife & Animal Rescue Centre) in Ellon are looking for a permanent home for him.  He is an unusual three-striped variety of squirrel and may live out his days in a local zoo after completing quarantine.

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