Displaying items by tag: Scotland
The Scottish government's chief legal officer has come under fire after saying that prayer vigils outside abortion clinics could be 'far more damaging' than verbal protest. Addressing the UK's supreme court about abortion clinics in Northern Ireland, Dorothy Bain KC said she believed ‘standing in judgment’ was just as psychologically damaging for women. She wants prayer vigils to be excluded from ‘buffer zones' - areas where protesting or handing out leaflets are banned - outside abortion clinics. The Catholic Church has labelled Mrs Bain's remarks as ‘absurd and alarming’, and have condemned her comments. Everyone has the right to express and offer our opinion on religious belief, and more importantly, religious practice. The Church said, ‘To be told they can't stand silently in prayer, in this case, outside an abortion clinic or a hospital that carries out abortions is really, frankly, chilling and extremely worrying.’
Scotland has been marked by the devastating impact of drug and alcohol addiction in many ways. Today, the nation is at the forefront of addiction related issues and deaths in Europe, with health, economic, and educational repercussions, and social challenges for families and communities in urban and rural environments. The widening mental health crisis, socio-economic challenges, and limited clinical support exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic have led to the highest increase in addiction issues in over ten years. But we are a nation with hope. For decades, Christian organisations have invested tremendously in the building of in-person and online spaces for drug addiction recovery. Within the last decade, over 2,300 individuals have been directly treated and successfully recovered from their addictions through faith-based recovery programmes, with thousands more impacted in some way. The Scottish government has appointed a minister for drugs policy and increased funding to reduce addiction.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has faced scathing criticism over her handling of the chaos caused by binmen striking in over 60% of Scotland’s councils until the end of August. Walkouts in a further twenty councils start on 6 September. While piles of rat-infested rubbish line Scotland’s streets, Ms Sturgeon is having rubbish collected from her official residence by taxpayer-funded contractors. Teachers are also to ballot for industrial action, which would see primary schools and nurseries shut. Cleaners, janitors, catering staff and pupil support staff will walk out from 6 to 8 September, forcing the closure of a thousand schools and nurseries. Over 80% of Unite members from Scotland’s exam board have also voted to walk out following the pay dispute. Mail and train workers will also strike in September.
The BBC have discovered that Scots with learning disabilities and autism have been locked in secure hospitals and psychiatric wards for decades, unable to get out despite ministers saying 22 years ago they should be living independently in the community. One person with a learning disability had been behind locked doors for 25 years. Another was cleared for release eight years ago but is still in hospital. Families said their relatives had been left to rot. The Scottish government said the findings were unacceptable and that local services must do more to get people into their own homes. Freedom of Information requests revealed that 15 Scots with learning disabilities and autism had been living for twenty years or more in hospital, 40 for over ten years and 129 for over a year. Nine autistic people with learning disabilities who had never committed a crime were in a high-security psychiatric hospital which houses Scotland's most serious criminals.
SNP ministers are facing a new legal battle over the definition of women, after they were accused of flouting a court ruling stating that biological men cannot be counted as female. The campaign group For Women Scotland claimed Nicola Sturgeon’s administration was trying to ‘redefine women yet again’ by issuing transgender rules it says are ‘wholly incompatible’ with a landmark court victory, which it won only five months ago. The feminist organisation was backed by Scotland's top civil court in its claim that SNP legislation designed to increase the number of women on public boards was unlawful as it stated that anyone ‘living as a woman’, regardless of their biological sex, would count as female. However, the Scottish Government has issued new statutory guidelines which state transgender women should still be counted as female in the workplace quotas, so long as they hold a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC). Trina Budge, a director at For Women Scotland, said, ‘The Government seems incapable of either abiding by a court order, or understanding that the definition of woman does not include any males.’
Mariangela Alejandro, a history and politics student, was taught by professor Tim Hayward at Edinburgh University. But a few weeks into the course she complained, ‘He goes from talking about global financial markets and poverty into this realm of conspiracy theories about the Syrian president and Russia.’ Days after a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed, Prof Hayward retweeted a Russian ambassador to the UN describing the attack as #fakenews. The tweet said the hospital had been controlled by the Ukrainian military, and no patients were there. In a lecture he outlined an argument that the renowned aid organisation the White Helmets may have helped fake a chemical attack in Syria. Russia has said the attack was staged. In March he and other academics were accused by MPs in the House of Commons of spreading misinformation about the Ukraine war. Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said the Government would crack down hard on misinformation.
Fred Parry attributes twenty years of sobriety to a rehab clinic, saying recovering from alcoholism was the best thing that ever happened to him. He is now a cellist, a music teacher, a husband and father. When his son Adam began battling addiction, Fred sent him to the same clinic to recover. He did for a short time, but Fred could not afford further rehab. Adam didn’t present like an alcoholic; he was well-spoken, intelligent, often reading three books at a time. But he was tortured and couldn't find a way out. Addiction took over when he started studying chemistry at University. He dropped out and was hospitalised six times for alcohol-related seizures. Fred was told by a doctor, ‘There's nothing you can do for an alcoholic, just lock them up and throw the key away’ Adam died after another seizure. He was 32. Mr Parry wants the Scottish government to improve access to addiction treatment services, including residential rehab.
CARE for Scotland has urged Nicola Sturgeon to oppose assisted suicide to protect people with disabilities, after she signalled she might support plans to legalise the practice. In a recent interview Ms Sturgeon said she is ‘more open’ to a law change and has no ‘concluded view’ on a member's bill from Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Liam McArthur. Ms Sturgeon expressed opposition to assisted suicide in 2015 when it was last considered in Scotland. CARE said, ‘The First Minister's assessment of assisted suicide's dangers was correct in 2015 and ‘remains so today. It is confirmed by Canada’s tragic experience, where vulnerable citizens are coerced into opting for assisted death after being unable to access care and support. Canada experiences the ‘slippery slope’ of such laws. If Scotland agrees to assisted suicide for terminally ill, a campaign will begin in earnest to widen eligibility for the physically and mentally disabled.’ For more on Canada’s experience, see
Scotland’s school curriculum should be scrapped and replaced with a ‘traditional’ system, the Scottish Tories have said, amid warnings that classroom discipline has almost completely broken down. Teachers are now routinely being attacked, spat on, and sworn at by children as young as four. Mike Corbett, of the NASUWT teaching union, said serious issues had been reported even at the best state schools. He accused the Government of turning a blind eye to the problem by refusing to commission research into poor behaviour; it was as if it didn't really want to know the scale of the problem. Scottish Tories have now called for a ‘national conversation’ about replacing the country’s Curriculum for Excellence, which was supposed to help develop ‘well-rounded’ and confident children. This ‘un-Scottish’ approach has failed and its introduction over a decade ago has coincided with the country plummeting down international education league tables.
A detailed analysis of where almost £5bn of Covid business funding went is not possible due to gaps in data, a spending watchdog has found. The Scottish government provided £4.4bn in grants and business rates relief between the start of the pandemic and October 2021. A further £375m was announced following the emergence of Omicron last winter. Although the speed and scale of the rollout helped to safeguard thousands of jobs and businesses, Audit Scotland was unable to determine where all the money ended up. It also identified gaps in information about how quickly applicants received funding. Auditor general Stephen Boyle said, ‘Knowing where the money went matters’. Information to enable wider analysis of how funding supported groups, such as female-owned businesses, is not available from centrally held data. The Accounts Commission said that councils' fraud arrangements are generally robust, but during the pandemic they were severely relied upon.