More than £250,000 worth of drugs seized in police raids

On Tuesday night, officers raided seven properties in Galashiels and recovered drugs, cash and electronic equipment.

Police: Officers raided seven properties in Galashiels on Tuesday night. Georgeclerk via IStock
Police: Officers raided seven properties in Galashiels on Tuesday night.

More than a quarter of a million pounds worth of drugs have been seized by police in the Scottish Borders.

On Tuesday night, officers raided seven properties in Galashiels and recovered drugs, cash and electronic equipment.

The intelligence-led operation involved officers from Police Scotland’s criminal investigation department, specialist departments and the local community action team.

A quantity of heroin – believed to have a street value of more than £250,000 – was seized from a house in Laidlaw Court.

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Properties in Church Street, Meigle Street, Hawthorn Road, Glendinning Terrace, Haliburton Place and Clapperton Place were also searched.

A 39-year-old man has been arrested in connection with drugs offences. 

He is due to appear at Jedburgh Sheriff Court on Wednesday.

A further four men, aged 24, 28, 32 and 43, will also be reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with drug offences.

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Detective chief inspector Bryan Burns said: “This is a significant seizure and demonstrates our determination to rid our streets of drugs.

“Through effective intelligence gathering, and the help and support from the local community, we continue to cause considerable disruption to the supply of drugs in the Scottish Borders and associated organised crime.

“We will continue to investigate those who profit from, and care nothing for, the misery that drugs bring to individuals, their families and communities.”

If you have any concerns about the supply of illegal drugs in your area, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.


Election 2021: Final results as SNP wins ’emphatic’ victory

The SNP has won a fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish Parliament election.

Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images / Jeff J Mitchell via Getty Images

The SNP has won a fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish Parliament election.

The party finished on 64 seats – one more than in 2016, but one short of an overall majority.

The Conservatives won 31 seats, Labour 22, the Scottish Greens eight and Liberal Democrats four.

You can look at a breakdown of the results here:

Constituency seats

ConstituencyResults (Turnout)
Aberdeen CentralSNP HOLD (56%)
Aberdeen DonsideSNP HOLD (58.2%)
Aberdeenshire EastSNP HOLD (64%)
Aberdeen South
& North Kincardine
SNP HOLD (64%)
Aberdeenshire WestConservatives HOLD (70%)
Airdrie & ShottsSNP HOLD (59%)
Almond ValleySNP HOLD (61%)
Angus North
& Mearns
SNP HOLD (64%)
Angus SouthSNP HOLD (65%)
Argyll & ButeSNP HOLD (68%)
AyrSNP GAIN (68%)
Banffshire
& Buchan Coast
SNP HOLD (56%)
Caithness Sutherland
& Ross
SNP HOLD (65%)
Carrick, Cumnock
& Doon Valley
SNP HOLD (59%)
Clackmannanshire
& Dunblane
SNP HOLD (66%)
Clydebank & MilngavieSNP HOLD (70.8%)
ClydesdaleSNP HOLD (67%)
Coatbridge & ChrystonSNP HOLD (63%)
CowdenbeathSNP HOLD (61%)
Cumbernauld & KilsythSNP HOLD (65.2%)
Cunninghame NorthSNP HOLD (64%)
Cunninghame SouthSNP HOLD (58%)
DumbartonLabour HOLD (68%)
DumfriesshireConservatives HOLD (66%)
Dundee City EastSNP HOLD (58%)
Dundee City WestSNP HOLD (57%)
DunfermlineSNP HOLD (66%)
East KilbrideSNP HOLD (66%)
East LothianSNP GAIN (69%)
EastwoodConservatives HOLD (76%)
Edinburgh CentralSNP GAIN (63%)
Edinburgh EasternSNP HOLD (61%)
Edinburgh Northern
& Leith
SNP HOLD (63%)
Edinburgh PentlandsSNP HOLD (65%)
Edinburgh SouthernLabour HOLD (71%)
Edinburgh WesternLib Dems HOLD (71%)
Ettrick, Roxburgh
& Berwickshire
Conservatives HOLD (64%)
Falkirk EastSNP HOLD (63%)
Falkirk WestSNP HOLD (62%)
Galloway & West DumfriesConservatives HOLD (65%)
Glasgow
Anniesland
SNP HOLD (58%)
Glasgow CathcartSNP HOLD (62%)
Glasgow KelvinSNP HOLD (54%)
Glasgow Maryhill
& Springburn
SNP HOLD (52%)
Glasgow PollokSNP HOLD (55%)
Glasgow ProvanSNP HOLD (52%)
Glasgow ShettlestonSNP HOLD (53%)
Glasgow SouthsideSNP HOLD (59%)
Greenock
& Inverclyde
SNP HOLD (63%)
Hamilton, Larkhall
& Stonehouse
SNP HOLD (61%)
Inverness & NairnSNP HOLD (64%)
Kilmarnock
& Irvine Valley
SNP HOLD (61.5%)
KirkcaldySNP HOLD (57%)
LinlithgowSNP HOLD (62.2%)
Mid Fife & GlenrothesSNP HOLD (58.9%)
Midlothian North
& Musselburgh
SNP HOLD (61%)
Midlothian South, Tweeddale
& Lauderdale
SNP HOLD (66%)
MoraySNP HOLD (65%)
Motherwell and WishawSNP HOLD (59%)
Na h-Eileanan an IarSNP HOLD (66%)
North East FifeLib Dems HOLD (69%)
Orkney IslandsLib Dems HOLD (65.4%)
PaisleySNP HOLD (62%)
Perthshire NorthSNP HOLD (70%)
Perthshire South & Kinross-shireSNP HOLD (70%)
Renfrewshire North
& West
SNP HOLD (68%)
Renfrewshire SouthSNP HOLD (65%)
RutherglenSNP HOLD (63%)
Shetland IslandsLib Dems HOLD (66%)
Skye, Lochaber
& Badenoch
SNP HOLD (68%)
StirlingSNP HOLD (69%)
Strathkelvin
& Bearsden
SNP HOLD (72%)
Uddingston & BellshillSNP HOLD (61%)

Regional list seats

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Central Scotland

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives3
Labour3
Greens1

Glasgow

PartyMSPs elected
Labour4
Conservatives2
Greens1

Highlands & Islands

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives4
Greens1
Labour1
SNP1

Lothian

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives3
Labour2
Greens2
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Mid Scotland & Fife

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives4
Labour2
Greens1

North-East

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives4
Labour2
Greens2

South of Scotland

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives3
Labour3
SNP1

West Scotland

PartyMSPs elected
Conservatives3
Labour3
Greens1

SNP wins election, but just one seat short of overall majority

The Scottish Greens provided a pro-independence majority in the 2021 Holyrood elections.

Jane Barlow via PA Ready

The SNP has won an emphatic victory in the Holyrood elections, but did not gain an overall majority.

Nicola Sturgeon’s party took 64 seats in Thursday’s vote – 62 in constituencies and one on the Highlands and Islands and another in the South Scotland regional list – one shy of a majority but well ahead of the Tories on 31 seats.

With the failure to return 65 MSPs, the case for another independence referendum is weakened, but the Scottish Greens provide an overall pro-independence majority of 72 seats.

In a televised victory speech, Sturgeon said another vote was “the will of the country”, adding: “It is a commitment made to the people by a majority of the MSPs have been elected to our national parliament.

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“It is the will of the country.

“Given that outcome, there is simply no democratic justification whatsoever for Boris Johnson or anyone else seeking to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose our future.”

If the request is rejected, Sturgeon said, “it will demonstrate conclusively that the UK is not a partnership of equals and that – astonishingly – Westminster no longer sees the UK as a voluntary union of nations”.

She added: “That in itself would be a very powerful argument for independence.”

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The SNP also boasted a historic return in Glasgow Kelvin, after Kaukab Stewart became the first woman of colour to be elected to Holyrood in its 22 year history.

The First Minister said she was “thrilled” with Ms Stewart’s win, and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar also congratulated her on claiming the seat vacated by the retiring Sandra White.

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Tories matched their best ever result at a Scottish Parliament election.

The Scottish Conservatives have matched their best ever result at a Scottish Parliament election as new leader Douglas Ross maintained the 31-seat total won in 2016.

The party picked up two seats on the regional lists, offsetting the loss of two constituencies.

Ross, who took over the party in August last year, said he will not “shy away” from fighting SNP plans for an independence referendum in the new parliamentary term.

He will re-enter Holyrood on the Highlands and Islands regional list as his party upped its number of MSPs in the area.

He said: “I’ll stop talking about independence when the SNP stop talking about independence.

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“The fact that they put it front and centre of their election manifesto meant that I was going to respond to that.

“I’m not going to shy away from the SNP, I’m not going to hide from the crucial debate here in Scotland.”

Scottish Greens via Scottish Greens
The Scottish Greens returned eight MSPs.

The Scottish Greens’ co-leader Lorna Slater said her party will have “greater influence in Holyrood than ever before” following the party’s best election performance.

Slater said the SNP falling short of an overall majority and the Scottish Greens’ returning eight MSPs was a “good thing for Scotland” because her party offered “positive, practical policies” for the country.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has pledged to form a “credible alternative” to the SNP in the next five years, despite the party’s worst performance north of the border since devolution.

Fraser Bremner via Getty Images
Scottish Labour had worst performance north of the border since devolution.

The party returned 22 MSPs, down from 24 in 2016, but the head of the party – himself only in post for 10 weeks – managed to counter polls which had them falling even further.

He said: “We’re on a journey to build a credible alternative to the SNP.

“Not just oppose the SNP, but to build a credible alternative. And that job doesn’t stop with this election campaign.

“I think even my harshest critics would accept we have run an energetic and enthusiastic campaign, we got Labour back on the pitch.

“That is something for us to build on for the next five years.”

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Alex Salmond has insisted his new Alba Party is ‘here to stay’.

Former first minister Alex Salmond has insisted his new Alba Party is “here to stay”, despite his failure to be re-elected to Holyrood.

The one-time SNP leader had stood for Alba on the regional list in the North East of Scotland, but his attempted Holyrood comeback was ultimately unsuccessful.

However, he insisted that the new party – which supports independence and had hoped to help win a “supermajority” for this in the Scottish Parliament – had now “established itself as a political force with which to be reckoned”.


Alba leader Alex Salmond fails in bid to return as an MSP

The former first minster had hoped to boost the Scottish independence cause by returning to frontline politics with his Alba Party.

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Salmond's party failed to pick up a seat in the region after winning just 8269 votes

Alex Salmond will not return to the Scottish Parliament after he failed in his bid to pick up a seat on the North East regional list.

The former first minster had hoped to boost the Scottish independence cause by returning to frontline politics with his Alba Party.

But his party failed to pick up a seat in the region after winning just 8269 votes.

The Scottish Conservatives won four seats on the North East list, Scottish Labour two and the Scottish Greens one.

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Earlier on Saturday, Salmond has said the First Minister “lost her nerve” on Scottish independence in 2017.

The former SNP leader was speaking on a podcast with independence supporters after he admitted his party was unlikely to get any seats in the Holyrood elections.

As well as Sturgeon, Salmond took aim at the leadership of the SNP, who he described as “graceless”.

He also singled out MP John Nicolson, describing him as a “poser”.

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The Alba Party leader also claimed his party had helped the SNP in constituencies such as Banff and Buchan Coast.

“Nicola will prevaricate, Nicola lost her nerve on independence back in 2017 and has never recovered it,” Mr Salmond said.

“It’s as simple as that.”

He also accused the SNP of “grand old Duchess of York behaviour”, saying they were “going up and down this hill numerous times”.

The SNP won Banff and Buchan Coast with a much-reduced majority, with new MSP Karen Adam retaining the seat previously held by Stewart Stevenson.

Salmond claims his party helped the SNP win the constituency.

“If you look at Ayr or Banff and Buchan Coast, it’s quite clear that they would have lost these seats, in the case of Banff and Buchan Coast, and they wouldn’t have won in the case of Ayr, without the Alba intervention,” he said.

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“I think it’s a reasonable assumption that the SNP wouldn’t have got that 700 votes (majority in Banff and Buchan Coast), unless Alba were there encouraging people to vote and encouraging people to vote SNP.

“I think the Alba intervention has been helpful practically.”

Alba also has “electoral credibility”, Salmond said, due to the party having two MPs and 20 councillors.

Elected members in Alba were voted for while they were members of other parties, apart from Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Neale Hanvey, who was suspended by the SNP at the time of his election in 2019.

“That will make Alba a force to be reckoned with,” he said.

The former first minister went on to attack senior members of the party he once led, saying: “Many of the SNP leadership are among the most graceless people I have ever come across.

“John Nicolson, he takes the biscuit for lack of grace.

“He’s the ultimate poser, he’s done nothing for the independence movement of any shape or form in his puff.”

He went on to accuse Mr Nicolson, the MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, of “piggy-backing on the work of others”.


Familiar faces at Holyrood as former MPs among those to win

Angus Robertson, the SNP's former Westminster leader, is among those who have won a seat at Holyrood.

Mark Scates via SNS Group
A number of former MPs have won seats in the Holyrood election

Angus Robertson

The SNP’s former Westminster leader between 2007 and 2017, he lost his seat in the snap election called by Theresa May to the Conservatives’ Douglas Ross in the Moray constituency.

Since his departure from Westminster, Mr Robertson has worked as the managing director of pro-independence think-tank and polling organisation Progress Scotland.

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
Angus Robertson was elected as the MSP for Edinburgh Central.

Mr Robertson, who was also the depute leader of the SNP between 2016 and 2018, won the Edinburgh Central constituency seat with a majority 4,732.

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The constituency was previously held by the former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, who did not seek re-election as she will be heading to the House of Lords after accepting a peerage.

Douglas Ross

A prominent figure throughout the campaign after taking over as Scottish Conservative leader from Jackson Carlaw in August last year, Mr Ross will take his seat after being elected as a list MSP for the Highlands and Islands.

It isn’t the first time Mr Ross has been at Holyrood however – he was previously a regional MSP for the Highlands and Islands between May 2016 and June 2017 before resigning his seat after winning the Moray constituency in the 2017 UK general election.

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Douglas Ross will serve as an MSP, whilst retaining his Westminster seat.
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Last year, Mr Ross resigned as a Scotland Office minister in Boris Johnson’s government following controversy surrounding Dominic Cummings’ trip to Durham during the first coronavirus lockdown across the UK.

A qualified football official, he faced criticism for missing a vote in the Commons on Universal Credit whilst working as an assistant referee during a Champions League fixture in 2017.

He is still an MP for Moray and has indicated that he will not resign his Commons seat, although he pledged to not take a salary from his Holyrood role.

Paul Sweeney

Elected as an MP in 2017 when Scottish Labour increased their seats in Scotland from one to seven during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party at UK level.

He represented the Glasgow North East constituency and served as Labour’s shadow minister for Scotland, before losing his seat in the 2019 election to the SNP’s Anne McLaughlin.

Last year, Mr Sweeney spoke about applying for Universal Credit after finding himself unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Neil Gray  

A recent departure from Westminster, Mr Gray resigned as the MP for Airdrie and Shotts in March, having held the seat since 2015.

His re-election triggers a by-election for the seat, which will be held on Thursday May 13.

Throughout his time at Westminster, Mr Gray served as the SNP’s spokesperson for work and pensions.

In his final speech in the Commons, he said his decision to resign as an MP had been motived by a desire to be “closer to home to be a good father, and being in the constituency more”.

Michelle Thomson

Won her seat at Holyrood with 47.3% of the vote as the SNP held the Falkirk East constituency.

Ms Thomson was the MP for Edinburgh East between 2015 and 2017 before losing her seat to the Liberal Democrats’ Christine Jardine.

In her time at Westminster, Ms Thomson briefly served as her party’s spokesperson for business, innovation, and skills.

During a Commons debate focused on UN International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women in 2016, she told MPs that she had been raped at the age of 14, with a visibly moved then-Speaker John Bercow telling her the speech had “left an indelible impression upon us all”.


Kaukab Stewart becomes first woman of colour to serve as MSP

Stewart held the Glasgow Kelvin seat for the SNP with 14,535 votes, succeeding Sandra White.

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Kaukab Stewart will become the first woman of colour to serve as an MSP at Holyrood after winning the Glasgow Kelvin seat.

Stewart held the Scottish Parliament seat for the SNP with 14,535 votes, succeeding Sandra White.

Stewart was also the first woman of colour to stand in the 1999 Scottish Parliament election, but lost out to Donald Dewar in Glasgow Anniesland.

Speaking to STV News after her historic win on Saturday, she said: “This is the first time that a woman of colour has been elected to the Scottish Parliament.

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“I mean, it shouldn’t have taken this long because it was actually me that stood for the SNP in 1999. So I didn’t actually think it would be me, but here we are.

“It’s important, I think, the message out there is don’t give up, there are many, many barriers that people like myself have to go through, but at the end of the day our voice in the Scottish Parliament is just as important because actually we care about loads of issues, not just sort of like traditional issues that you might connect with minority communities.”

Stewart said it had taken more than two decades to get elected due to the “double whammy” of racism and sexism.

She explained: “You’ve got the double whammy because you’ve got the racism that you face and then you’ve got the sexism and the misogyny that you have to face as well, so when you put those two together it’s a heady mix that sort of like puts extra additional barriers.

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“And I’m a teacher. I’ve dedicated my life, 30 years, to education as well, so I don’t have the type of job that, you know, allows you to go. I’ve taken leave obviously for campaigning, but, you know, as a hard-working teacher you don’t have the time to do what maybe some other politicians can do.”

Stewart said she now hopes to tackle the poverty-related attainment gap.

She added: “I hope I get that opportunity. I do think that after 30 years I can provide some kind of, you know, insight into the complexities of it.

“On the election trail you hear lots of soundbites about ‘oh, education is awful’, but I think you’re doing our children and the staff in schools a great disservice there because they’re working incredibly hard and it’s a complex issue that is as much concerned with poverty as it is with education.

“So, we’re not going to be able to make any progress there unless we deal with poverty.”

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Glasgow Kelvin: Kaukab Stewart winning a seat at the Scottish Parliament.

Scottish Green Party co-leader Patrick Harvie finished second in Glasgow Kelvin with 9077 votes. Scottish Labour picked up 8605 votes, the Scottish Conservatives 2850 and the Scottish Liberal Democrats 977.

In her acceptance speech, Stewart said: “To the voters of Glasgow Kelvin, I cannot thank you enough for putting your trust in me.

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“We are lucky to have one of the most diverse, vibrant communities in Kelvin and it is without doubt an honour to be elected as the first woman of colour to the Scottish Parliament.

“It has taken too long but to all the women and girls of colour out there, the Scottish Parliament belongs to you too, so whilst I may be the first, I will not be the last.”

Following Stewart’s win, Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Party politics aside, this is a special and important moment. It has taken far too long, but Kaukab Stewart is the first woman of colour to be elected to the Scottish Parliament.

“I could not be prouder right now.”


Sturgeon tells PM not to block Indyref2 after election win

The SNP leader claimed an 'emphatic victory' in the Holyrood election on Saturday afternoon.

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that Westminster has no right to block a second vote on Scottish independence as she claimed an “emphatic victory” in the Holyrood election – despite the SNP failing to secure an overall majority.

Sturgeon insisted that her chances of winning an overall majority, which declined dramatically after the SNP failed to capture Aberdeenshire West from the Tories, had always been a “long shot”.

With the SNP having made some gains in constituencies – such as former Westminster leader Angus Robertson taking Edinburgh Central – and with the party’s Kaukab Stewart becoming the first woman of colour to be elected as an MSP, Sturgeon declared she was “thrilled” with the results.

The SNP leader insisted: “We have won more constituency seats than we did in the last election, we have won a higher share of the vote in the constituency ballot than in 2016, and actually we have won more votes and a higher share of the vote than any party in the history of devolution.

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“By any standard this is a historic achievement, a quite extraordinary achievement for the SNP – our vote share is up, the vote share of the other main parties is down.

“So the SNP has won this election emphatically, the message we took to the people has been endorsed, and I now intend to get back to work to deliver on all of what we put to the Scottish people.”

The SNP has pledged to hold a second independence referendum, with Sturgeon having already said she wants this vote to be held before the end of 2023.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has however insisted it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to have such a ballot as Britain emerges from the coronavirus crisis.

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He told the the Daily Telegraph his impression was that Scottish voters had “moved away from the idea of a referendum”.

And when asked what he would do if Sturgeon attempted to hold one without a Section 30 order from Westminster granting permission, Johnson insisted there was “no case now for such a thing”.

But with Holyrood now certain to have a pro-independence majority, made up of SNP and Green MSPs, Sturgeon said Westminster must not stand in the way of such a ballot.

She stated: “It looks as though it is beyond any doubt that there will be a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament and by any normal standard of democracy that majority should have the commitments it made to the people of Scotland honoured.

“So to any Westminster politician that tries to stand in the way of that, I say two things: firstly, you are not picking a fight with the SNP you are picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people.

“And secondly, you will not succeed. The only people who can decide the future of Scotland are the Scottish people and no Westminster politician can or should stand in the way of that.”

Meanwhile Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens co-leader, told BBC Scotland: “Certainly we can see that with the Scottish Greens we clearly have a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, and that is something we are very excited about.

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“We think it is a clear mandate to at least go back to the Scottish people and ask the question, to have an actual conversation about what kind of country we want to be.”

Her comments came as the regional list seats started to be declared, with the Scottish Greens picking up a seat in Central Scotland for the first time ever.

Earlier on in the day, the Tories had held the key seats of both Aberdeenshire West and Galloway and West Dumfries.

And while Sturgeon’s party made other gains in the constituency votes at Holyrood on Friday, their success in gaining Ayr and East Lothian, from the Tories and Labour respectively, will see them lose MSPs from the South of Scotland regional list.

The coronavirus pandemic meant traditional overnight counts were abandoned after Thursday’s Scottish Parliament election, with counting instead taking place on Friday and Saturday.

Sturgeon, who comfortably defeated Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar to claim Glasgow Southside, said afterwards her initial focus would be “to get back to work to steer the country through the crisis and into recovery”.

She added: “That remains the case. But once the crisis is over, and if there is a majority in the parliament for an independence referendum, people should have the right to choose our future. Scotland’s future should always be in Scotland’s hands.”

Meanwhile, former first minister Alex Salmond conceded it is unlikely his new Alba Party will take seats in this election.

“I’ve obviously looked at the ballot boxes at the count and they’ve given us some very good ones – Aberdeenshire had over 10% in a couple of the ballot boxes,” he said.

“But in some of the big ballot boxes, I think we ended up over 3% in Aberdeenshire East, the same in Banff and Buchan, a bit more actually, which I’m pleased with because these are our best results in Scotland.

“But that doesn’t get you a seat. You need 4.5%, maybe 5%, to get a seat. But nonetheless it’s a creditable performance for a party which has just celebrated its sixth birthday – in other words, we are six weeks old.”

The former first minister insisted: “I think Alba’s future is secure.”


Two men in hospital with serious injuries following stabbings

Police enquiries continuing after men seriously injured in Blairdardie area of Glasgow on Saturday morning.

Ross MacDonald / SNS Group via SNS Group
Police attended stabbing incident in Glasgow on Saturday morning.

Two people have been taken to hospital with serious injuries after police were called to a double stabbing incident in Glasgow.

Officers attended an incident on Keal Avenue in the Blairdardie area of the city on Saturday morning and found two men with injuries.

They were taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital for treatment.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 10.30 am on Saturday, 8 May, 2021, police received a report of a disturbance on Keal Avenue in Glasgow.

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Officers are in attendance and two men, aged 41 and 39, have been taken to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital with serious injuries. The incident was contained and there was no risk to the wider public. Enquiries into the circumstances are ongoing.”

People should get what they vote for, insists Angus Robertson

Angus Robertson said he believes people are voting for a pro-independence majority at Holyrood.

Dan Kitwood via Getty Images

The people of Scotland will decide the country’s future, newly-elected SNP MSP Angus Robertson has insisted.

It comes after Boris Johnson said that holding a Scottish independence referendum in the “current context” is “irresponsible and reckless”.

Mr Robertson, who won the Edinburgh Central seat in the Holyrood election, said that there is still time for the Prime Minister to “see sense”.

“If the people are voting for something to happen in a democracy, what the people vote for is what they should get,” Mr Robertson told STV News.

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“And if Boris Johnson hasn’t reflected on that enough yet, I hope he does. There’s still time to see sense.

“And so I’m going to concentrate on making the point that I hope we’re still living in a democracy and if we do it’s the people who will decide Scotland’s future.”

Mr Robertson, who served as the SNP’s Westminster leader between 2007 and 2017, also backed the timeline set out by Nicola Sturgeon in holding an independence referendum in the middle of the upcoming parliamentary term.

“There were three things in my victory speech that I spoke about as being particular issues of concern to me which are housing, homelessness and drug deaths,” he said.

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“And those are all things that I want to address in the next Scottish Parliamentary term, as well as everything else that Holyrood has responsibility for.

“We need to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and we need to deliver on what looks like the wishes of the people of Scotland that they will be returning a pro-independence majority to Holyrood with a mandate for there to be a democratic referendum in the next parliamentary term.”

Mr Robertson continued: “I agree with Nicola Sturgeon when she said that she was aiming for the middle of the parliamentary term and that would give obviously the Scottish Government appropriate time to be able to help us emerge from the coronavirus pandemic.

“But, also ensure that we can have the referendum during the parliamentary term because after all, if the people have voted for that to happen, then that’s exactly what should happen and I support Nicola Sturgeon and SNP colleagues in making that happen.”

The former SNP MP for Moray also warned the Conservatives that they cannot tell people in Scotland what they can and can’t do.

He said: “We have just been in an election where my party went to the people and said we want to hold a referendum, and do you know what? We’re winning.

“And the parties that went into the election saying there shouldn’t be a referendum are losing. And in a normal democracy, the parties that lose graciously concede defeat and tell the party that’s won now over to you, deliver your manifesto.”

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He added: “Are we really saying it’s just a matter of fact that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is going to overrule the people of this country who haven’t voted for his party in a single national election since 1955 and we’re supposed to just blithely accept that?

“Well, do you know what? The days of private Tory landowners, absentee landlords, sitting in their private gentleman’s clubs in London telling the restive natives in Scotland what they can and they can’t do is over.

“We’re not living in the 19th century, we’re living in the 21st century and the people, I believe, are voting for a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament.”


Services cancelled as ‘cracks found’ on high-speed trains

Trains serving Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow have been affected, with some services delayed or cancelled.

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Disruption: High-speed trains taken out of service.

Rail passengers are being urged not to travel after a number of high-speed trains were taken out of service after ‘cracks were found’.

LNER trains serving Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow have been affected by the issue on Saturday, with some services delayed or cancelled.

The Class 800 Hitachi trains were taken out of service as a “precautionary measure”.

Network Rail said some Great Western Railway (GWR), Hull Trains, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) and TransPennine Express (TPE) trains of the Hitachi 800 model were taken out of service.

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Great Western Railway said cracks were detected on “more than one” Hitachi 800 train, so all 93 Hitachi 800s in their fleet are being inspected as a “precaution”.

A spokesman said: “There’s a crack that’s been spotted and as a result of that – as a precaution – we’re checking all the trains, and while that’s taking place it’s better that they’re not used.

“It’s been found in more than one train, but we don’t know exactly how many trains because the fleet is still being inspected.”

Asked how long the disruption will last, the GWR spokesman said: “It’s a question of how quickly the trains can be inspected – it’s highly likely that it will certainly persist through to the end of today.

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“Once more inspection has been carried out we’ll have a better understanding as to whether that disruption is going to continue into tomorrow.”

The spokesman added that the issue is affecting long-distance journeys between cities, which are being refunded, but that suburban and rural GWR services are still running as normal.

A LNER spokesperson said: “A number of Class 800 series Hitachi trains from several train companies have been taken out of service today for checks as a precautionary measure. 

“This problem is being investigated by Hitachi and once trains have been checked, we hope to be able to release them back into service as soon as possible. 

“This could affect a significant number of our services and passengers are advised not to travel today.”

Mick Lynch, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: “RMT is fully aware of the issues that have led to the cancellation of services on LNER today and that similar problems with cracks appearing in the fleet on Great Western are also emerging.

“Hitachi needs to ensure the highest safety standards and properly investigate and rectify the issues.”

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Manuel Cortes, general secretary of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said passengers should not be charged extra in future to pay for repairs.

“It’s welcome news that railway engineering staff have found these cracks before they led to an accident,” he said.

“This rolling stock must not be allowed back into service until we are 100% certain these trains are safe.

“It’s important to point out that the affected trains are relatively new, in which case the manufacturers should foot the bill for any repairs, not passengers or taxpayers.”

Hitachi Rail has apologised for the disruption caused.

A spokesman said: “We are working with all partners to resolve this issue as quickly and safely as possible.

“We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to passengers for the impact this may be causing for their travel plans.”


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