GE2019: How have parties in Scotland used social media?

STV News analysed how politicians utilised Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this election.

Additional reporting by Emma Maxwell

At this point, it’s become a truism that social media is the new battleground where elections are fought – and, arguably, won or lost.

Actually, it’s not even that new anymore.

There are debates about the extent to which stuff on social media “cuts through” with the general public, but there’s no doubt that it does.

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Just ask the parties, who have spent in some cases hundreds of thousands of pounds in recent weeks on Facebook and Instagram adverts (Twitter, of course, having banned political advertising before the election campaign started).

The ease and relative cheapness with which parties can carry out incredibly granular micro-targeting of voters to ram home specific and tailored messages is a key part of the attraction.

The fact, as well, that online political advertising is like the Wild West – there is virtually no regulation, although Facebook has recently tried to bring in more checks.

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Legislation simply hasn’t caught up yet, with the Coalition for Reform in Political Advertising saying this has been a “fake news and disinformation general election”, especially in the digital sphere.

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But looking past that debate, the key parties and political leaders in this election in Scotland are as active on social media as they have ever been.

Using the tools the digital age provides, politicians north of the border – as in the rest of the UK – use social platforms to amplify their messages, project a bit of their personalities and show how busy they are on the campaign trail.

Regarding TV and radio coverage, parties often discuss internally how they are doing in the “air war” during elections.

But how have they got on in Scotland in the virtual air war? STV News analysed their use of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

SNP

The SNP are by far the biggest party in Scotland on social media.

In fact, that doesn’t really do the scale of the disparity justice.

The party’s following on Facebook alone is twice as large as the followings of Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives and the Scottish Lib Dems combined across all three platforms.

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It’s not a completely fair comparison. There is only one SNP, while the other three Scottish parties are part of larger UK outfits.

But since the 2014 independence referendum, when the modern independence movement grew arms and legs on social media, the nationalists have dominated this sphere.

Key facts

Facebook followers: 293k

Twitter followers: 248k

Instagram followers: 28.7k

Nicola Sturgeon

The leader has an even larger following than her party, with around 350,000 Facebook followers and more than 1m on Twitter.

Her pinned tweet – a social video of her listing Scottish Government achievements – has had nearly 500,000 views and has been retweeted close to 4000 times.

This election…

Since November, SNP activity has been increasing across its social channels – most notably on Instagram most where it has gone from posting every day or every couple of days to multiple times a day since last week.

  • The average number of Instagram likes on its 32 posts so far across November and December is 1304
  • Meanwhile, the 12 videos posted on the platform garnered an average of 3460 views.
  • It has seven highlights, including one specifically for the general election, with 52 stories in it.
  • On Sturgeon’s Instagram, she receives average likes per post of 2079, and 8266 average views on videos.

On the other two platforms, where the party’s follower count is around ten times higher, pickings are even more profitable.

  • A recent campaign video featuring Alan Cummings has had more than 450,000 views across Facebook and Twitter, with more than 5000 Facebook shares and 2500 retweets.
  • Clips of Nicola Sturgeon from Tuesday night’s BBC Scotland leaders’ debate garnered thousands of likes between them, with the most popular (on WASPI women) liked 871 times and retweeted 318 times.

Key messages

  • Since November 1, Sturgeon has posted on Facebook 46 times, 21 of which concerned her party, her policies or the lovely vague category of “other” – non-party political posts. 
  • 22 posts discussed Boris Johnson or the Conservative party in general, attacking him or them in the posts. 
  • Only four posts explicitly mentioned the word “independence”, with the SNP leader more comfortable this election using terms like giving Scotland a “choice”, or putting “Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands”.

Scottish Conservatives

Key facts

Facebook followers: 27.7k

Twitter followers: 32.1k

Instagram followers: 607

Jackson Carlaw

Carlaw – who only, to be fair, took over from Ruth Davidson in August – has the smallest social media following of all the Scottish party leaders.

He has fewer than 2000 followers on Facebook, fewer than 600 on Instagram but nearly 11,000 on Twitter – his preferred platform.

His pinned tweet – a clip from the BBC debate bashing Nicola Sturgeon’s priorities – has had more than 1000 likes and 405 retweets.

This election…

  • The Scottish Tories only set up an Instagram account at the end of October this year.
  • Of the 53 posts posted since November 1, they have gained an average 46 likes. 
  • Video posts have gained 170 views on average (of which there have been nine).
  • It has one highlight, which is election-themed.
  • On Facebook and Twitter, a campaign video featuring former leader Ruth Davidson posted early on Wednesday morning has had around 19,000 views.
  • Despite having similar follower counts on both platforms, around two-thirds of the views and shares for that video came from Twitter, with Facebook the weaker outlet for the party – a trend true for most of its posts.

Key messages

Looking at the party’s social media output, the party’s key campaign message opposing a second independence vote is crystal clear.

  • On Facebook since November 1, Carlaw has posted 78 times, of which only 14 didn’t mention any other party and focused on the Conservatives.
  • 59 posts focused on Nicola Sturgeon or the SNP in general, whilst there were four mentions of Labour and one post about the Lib Dems.
  • Of these posts, there were 13 which raised the prospect of a Sturgeon-Corbyn deal, and one post bashing Sturgeon, Corbyn and Swinson. 
  • Overall, there were a whopping 58 posts which mentioned Scottish independence in some fashion.

Scottish Labour

Key facts

Facebook followers: 28.8k

Twitter followers: 42.5k

Instagram followers: 1971

Richard Leonard

The Scottish Labour leader is the second most popular Scottish party leader on Facebook and the third most popular – after Willie Rennie – on Twitter.

He doesn’t have an Instagram account.

He has roughly 8500 followers on Facebook and 20,000 followers on Twitter. 

Leonard has notably injected some humorous zingers into his output this election. The most popular – a dig at Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson in November – managed 2400 retweets and more than 10,000 likes on Twitter.

This election…

  • Four Instagram highlights – focused on young people, homes, mental health and LGBT issues.
  • Since November 1, there have been nine Insta posts, each gaining an average of 101 likes, and video clips taking an average of 217 views.
  • On Twitter, a Richard Leonard clip from the BBC debate slamming Conservative policies proved to be popular, gaining 216 likes and 169 retweets.
  • Scottish Labour have created an event on Facebook titled ‘Vote Labour for real change on Thursday 12 December’ in which 313 are ‘going’ and 153 people are ‘interested’.
  • On Richard Leonard’s personal Twitter, posts which mentioned Jeremy Corbyn generally gained more attention. 
  • One such tweet posted eight hours ago and which features Corbyn and Leonard together garnered 1300 likes and 169 retweets. 
  • Whereas a post by Richard Leonard made ten hours ago in which a clip is featured of his campaigning only gained 137 likes and 84 retweets.  

Key messages

  • Since November 1, Richard Leonard has posted 136 times on Facebook, with 86 of those posts solely about Labour and its agenda.
  • However, he posted about the SNP or Nicola Sturgeon 16 times, and the Conservatives or Boris Johnson 21 times.
  • The Lib Dems were mentioned negatively only once, while Brexit was directly covered seven times and Scottish independence three times.

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Key facts

Facebook followers: 4.5k

Twitter followers: 13.7k

Instagram followers: 763

Willie Rennie

Despite his party having the smallest social media following of the big Scottish four, Willie Rennie himself is the second most popular leader on social platforms.

He has around 6650 followers on Facebook and 24,000 on Twitter – both substantially more then the Scottish Lib Dem accounts – and he even has a couple of dozen more on Instagram.

Rennie often likes to get his point across with humour and objectively dodgy puns to go along with his well-documented love of a photo-op.

This election…

  • On Instagram the party has created three highlights – none specifically election-oriented – and posted nine times since November 1, gaining an average of 43 likes per post. 
  • Four video clips on the platform have gained an average of 116 views apiece.
  • The most liked picture is the launch of their campaign with a large sign saying ‘Stop Brexit’, gaining 42 likes.
  • On Twitter, the party retweets other accounts a lot but generally struggles to get retweets or likes on its own posts into the double figures – or even into decent single figures.
  • On Willie Rennie’s Instagram, there have been 23 posts, gaining an average of 36 likes each and six video clips averaging 141 views. 
  • It mainly consists of photos of the Scottish Lib Dem leader, such as his dressing up as Santa for the Glasgow ‘Santa Dash’ at the weekend, the post for which gained 66 likes. 
  • On his Twitter feed, he often shares Scottish Lib Dem tweets with additional comment.
  • For example, sharing an official party tweet concerning education, Rennie commented: ‘Nicola Sturgeon once claimed education was her top priority, but nobody is now in any doubt that the SNP will always put independence first no matter the cost. Instead, we can build a brighter future by making it stop and investing in education.’ 
  • This gained 142 likes and 50 retweets, making this one of his most popular posts compared to others. 

Key messages

  • Since November 1, Willie Rennie has posted 72 times on Facebook, of which 25 mention Brexit and 21 mention independence, in the context of stopping both.
  • The SNP are expressly criticised 12 times, while Labour is similarly mentioned three times and the Tories brought up four times. 
  • The Lib Dem manifesto and main agenda is promoted in 17 posts without focusing on other parties or bashing other leaders. 

Murder investigation launched after discovery of teenage girl’s body

Amber Gibson, 16, went missing in Hamilton on Friday night.

Police Scotland
Police Scotland can confirm that the body of a young female found near to Cadzow Glen, Hamilton, has been formally identified as 16-year-old Amber Gibson.

The death of a missing 16-year-old girl is being treated as murder after her body was discovered in a wooded area in South Lanarkshire.

Amber Gibson, also known as Amber Niven, disappeared in Hamilton shortly before 10pm on Friday.

She had last been seen on Cadzow Street, after leaving her home in the Hillhouse area around 9.15pm that night.

On Sunday morning, at around 10.10am, emergency services were alerted to a body near to Cadzow Glen.

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On Monday, Police Scotland confirmed the formal identification of the body and said the death was being treated as unexplained.

But on Tuesday night, officers announced the launch of a murder investigation into the killing.

They have appealed to the public for help discovering what happened to Amber.

Detective superintendent Raymond Brown, from Police Scotland Major Investigations Team West, said: “Our thoughts very much remain with Amber’s loved ones and we will continue to support them through this terrible time.

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“Whilst our enquiries continue, we are asking for anyone with any information on what happened to Amber, or anyone who believes they saw her at any point of her movements between Friday and Sunday, to please come forward.”

Chief inspector Briony Daye, Local Area Commander, said: “I’d like to reassure the local community that this is believed to be an isolated incident and there is not any risk to other members of the public.

“There will continue to be an increased police presence in the area over the coming days and anyone with concerns can speak with local officers at any time.”

Anyone with information can call police on 101, quoting incident 1281 of November 28. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, to remain anonymous.

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Medics angry ahead of debate on safety at Glasgow hospital

Senior clinicians have written to the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care about ‘unfounded criticism’.

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Queen Elizabeth University Hospital: Medics angry ahead of debate.

A group of senior clinicians at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow have complained about “unfounded criticism” of clinical teams and staff.

In a letter to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon and the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care, Humza Yousaf, 23 senior clinicians “…have expressed their immense frustration”.

The clinicians wrote: “As NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde clinicians and clinical leaders, we write to express our immense disappointment and frustration about the way in which our hospitals, our colleagues and the treatment of our patients is being portrayed in the press and the chamber of the Scottish Parliament.”

They add: “We are particularly disappointed that individual patients are being discussed in Parliament without the knowledge of the families concerned, causing untold distress to families already grieving the loss of their loved one.

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“Our staff across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, provide professional, dedicated care to their patients and as we prepare for a challenging winter, this sustained criticism of our staff is undoubtedly causing them distress and worry.

“This unfounded criticism of our clinical teams and staff as well as the safety of our hospitals, is also hugely detrimental to staff morale at a time when so much is being asked of them.”

The letter comes ahead of Labour leader Anas Sarwar calling for Sturgeon to “finally do the right thing and sack the leadership at Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital”.

Labour claim photographs of mould, recently discovered at QEUH, and published in an academic paper expose the risks of water in seeding infection inside hospitals.

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Labour’s opposition business motion focuses on patient safety, and calls on the Scottish Parliament to withdraw its confidence in the leadership of Greater Glasgow & Clyde Heath board.

The vote comes after families and clinicians came forward to speak out about a series of deaths at the flagship hospital spanning the last five years.

Sarwar said that repeated pleas from the loved ones of those who have died from preventable hospital-acquired infection have been ignored.

Up to 6000 staff beginning three-day strike at Scottish universities

Ten institutions will be affected by the industrial action starting on Wednesday.

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The staff, on picket lines outside main university entrances, join colleagues at 58 universities across the UK taking similar action.

Up to 6000 staff at 10 Scottish universities are starting a three-day strike.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) Scotland voted to strike from Wednesday to Friday in a dispute about falling pay, pension cuts and “worsening working conditions”.

The staff, on picket lines outside main university entrances, join colleagues at 58 universities across the UK taking similar action.

Last month UCU members at the 10 Scottish institutions backed a strike in two separate ballots, one about pension cuts and one about pay.

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UCU claims employers have misled staff over the size of pension cuts and rejected the union’s demands to address falling pay and worsening working conditions.

Staff at seven universities – Heriot Watt, Dundee, Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and the Open University in Scotland – will strike over both pay and pensions.

Staff at Edinburgh Napier, Glasgow School of Art and Queen Margaret University will take action on pay only.

This week, UCU said Universities UK (UUK) had misled staff and vice chancellors about the scale of the cuts it was pushing through.

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According to the the union, UUK had repeatedly said its cuts to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension would lead to staff pensions being cut by 10% to 18%.

However, the USS trustees’ own modelling shows that a typical member will see a 36% cut.

The union said staff pay has fallen by 20% after 12 years of below-inflation pay offers while almost 90,000 academic and academic-related staff are on insecure contracts.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “It is deeply regrettable that staff have been forced into taking industrial action again, but sadly university bosses have shown little interest in negotiating in good faith and addressing the serious concerns of staff over falling pay, massive pension cuts, equality pay gaps and the rampant use of insecure contracts.

“The truth is that staff are asking for the bare minimum.

“But sadly, the only time vice chancellors and principals seem to listen is when staff take action, and those leading our universities should not underestimate their determination to change this sector for the better.”

In a statement a UUK spokesperson said: “It is deeply frustrating to be facing industrial action over USS pensions.

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“Only one in four USS scheme members are UCU members.

“Out of 50,000 ballots mailed out, only 20,000 were cast in favour of strike action. This puts support for pensions strikes among UCU members at 40%, which accounts for less than 10% of the 203,000 active scheme members in USS.

“Nonetheless, UUK repeatedly offered to share alternative proposals with employers, and that offer remains.

“We wrote to UCU on September 7 to clarify this, but to date we have received no reply.”

The UCU says the action will escalate in the new year if employers continue to ignore staff demands.


Children with bad asthma at higher risk of Covid hospital admission

Scientists suggest that five to 17-year-olds with poorly controlled asthma should be considered for vaccination.

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Around 1.1 million children in the UK are estimated to have asthma.

Children with poorly controlled asthma are three to six times more likely to be admitted to hospital with coronavirus than those without the condition, new research suggests.

Scientists suggest that five to 17-year-olds with poorly controlled asthma should be considered for vaccination to reduce the risk of infection and the spread of Covid-19 in schools and households.

They say that considering the risks, around 9000 children in Scotland in whom the condition is not controlled, could benefit from being vaccinated- and more than 109,000 children could benefit across the UK.

Around 1.1 million children in the UK are estimated to have asthma.

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In the study, poorly controlled asthma was defined as prior hospital admission for the condition or being prescribed at least two courses of oral steroids in the last two years.

The research team from Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Strathclyde and St Andrews and Public Health Scotland analysed a dataset as part of the EAVE II project, which uses anonymised linked patient data and covers 99% of the Scottish population.

Around 750,000 health records for five to 17-year-olds across Scotland were analysed, which included 63,463 children diagnosed with asthma.

Among children with asthma, there were 4339 confirmed cases of Covid-19 between March 1 2020 and July 27 2021.

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Of these, 67 children were admitted to hospital.

Among children without asthma, there were 40,231 confirmed cases of Covid-19, of whom 382 were admitted to hospitals, the researchers found.

Using two or more recent courses of oral steroids as the marker of poorly controlled asthma, 255 per 100,000 of children with poorly controlled asthma were admitted to hospital with Covid.

This is compared to 54 per 100,000 of children without asthma and 91 per 100,000 of children with well controlled asthma.

In those with Asthma, 548 per 100,000 of children who had been in hospital for the condition in the previous two years were admitted with Covid-19 compared with 94 per 100,000 who were not admitted for asthma in the previous two years.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute and EAVE II study lead, said: “Our national analysis has found that children with poorly controlled asthma are at much higher risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation.

“Children with poorly controlled asthma should therefore be considered a priority for Covid-19 vaccination alongside other high-risk children.

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“As with any medical intervention, it is important to consider both the risks and benefits from vaccinations.

“Emerging evidence from children aged five and older suggests that Covid-19 vaccines are overall well-tolerated by the vast majority of children.

“It is now for policymakers to decide how to act on these data.”

He added: “These data also underscore the importance of maintaining good asthma control in children, particularly during the pandemic.”

The study is a result of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation request to use EAVE II to investigate the risk of hospitalisation in school-aged children with poorly controlled asthma.

The results are published in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.


Nearly a million over-65 year-olds expect to be lonely this Christmas

Research by Age UK found nearly a million people aged over 65 do not have anyone to celebrate Christmas with this year.

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Research: Around 625,000 pensioners said they were feeling depressed.

Dame Helen Mirren and former Strictly Come Dancing judge Len Goodman have urged people to help the elderly combat loneliness at Christmas.

Research by Age UK found nearly a million people aged over 65 do not have anyone to celebrate Christmas with this year.

Far from being a season of good cheer the festive period is set to leave around 675,000 pensioners feeling fed up about being alone, with as many as 970,540 saying they would not have anyone to share Christmas with.

The research found some 625,000 said they were feeling depressed, around 400,000 felt forgotten while up to 250,000 spoke of being anxious.

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The charity said a friendly phone call or visit could be the best Christmas present someone struggling with loneliness could receive.

Dame Helen and Goodman are among those who are backing Age UK’s call for everyone to make the effort to phone an older friend over the Christmas season, so they know they are not forgotten.

Dame Helen said: “It’s heartbreaking to hear that so many older people don’t have anyone to share Christmas with this year, especially after the past 18 months everyone’s had.”

She added: “A friendly phone call or a visit for a cup of tea with an older person in your life could really brighten their day and help them feel connected again.”

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Goodman said: “Sadly there are a lot of lonely older people in our communities all around us and we should, especially this year, do all we can to reach out and connect with one another.”

He suggested that “something like a simple conversation could help brighten up an older person’s day and give them a much-needed boost” and “maybe they need some help getting shopping in or would like to join you for a cuppa and a natter in the lead up to Christmas”.

He urged people to check in on an older friend, relative or neighbour to see how they are doing.

The charity is also looking for donations to its Make Christmas A Little Brighter campaign, to help it meet a growing demand for its telephone-based services.

Among those who have been helped by Age UK’s Telephone Friendship Service for the past five years is a 71-year-old man, named only as Michael who lives alone.

Michael, who has been chatting to a volunteer called Gemma, said: “Loneliness is devastating.

“It feels like having a prison sentence for 30 or 40 years, you’ve got no one to talk to or say anything to.

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He said: “I always look forward to my call with her (Gemma) when Friday comes around, she is a diamond.”

Connie, 94, who also lives alone, said she felt “scared” that her voice was not working properly as she spoke to so few people during lockdown.

She also worries about the colder months when it gets dark early and she fears falling in the winter weather so she does not go out much.

Connie said: “I don’t know what it is exactly that makes them so important.

“I guess it’s having another person who is interested in me – that’s wonderful.”

Meanwhile, Childline said its helpline counselling sessions to youngsters about loneliness peaked over the festive period last year, with the service delivering a record number of nearly 600 in December alone.

There were 6,039 counselling sessions about loneliness from April 2020 to March 2021, marking an all-time high for a single year, according to Childline which is run by the NSPCC.

This is an increase of 49% over the past four years.

The NSPCC has launched its Here for Children Appeal calling for donations, so Childline counsellors can answer a child’s call for help this Christmas.

Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen said: “The festive period can be especially difficult for children who are struggling with their mental health or are in homes that are unsafe.

“Given the impact of the pandemic, it is no surprise that this year we’ve seen record numbers of children get in touch with us about loneliness.

“The lockdowns exacerbated these feelings for some young people, especially when schools had to close, and they couldn’t see the friends and family they loved and needed.”

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FM: Nine cases of Omicron in Scotland traced to single private event

Nicola Sturgeon said that those who have tested positive have so far not required hospital care.

Scottish Parliament via Scottish Parliament TV

Nine confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in Scotland can all be traced back to a single private event, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

STV news understands the outbreak is linked to a birthday party.

The First Minister said that those who have tested positive have so far not required hospital care.

In a statement at Holyrood, Sturgeon explained that those who attended the event on November 20, have all been self-isolating.

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“I can confirm that as of 5pm yesterday (Monday), there are nine confirmed cases in Scotland,” she told MSPs.

“Five of these are in Lanarkshire and four are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

“We have preliminary information on all nine of these cases which is the basis of the information I am about to share with Parliament, however I want to stress that health protection teams are continuing their investigations.”

She continued: “Let me say firstly that none of the people who have tested positive for this new variant have so far required hospital care.

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“All nine were tested on or around November 23 and because they had tested positive, they have all been self-isolating.”

The First Minister said that as the known cases are so far linked to the single event, community transmission may still be limited.

She told MSPs: “None of these individuals, as far as we know, has any recent travel history to, or known links with others who have travelled to the countries in Southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.

“However, while the contact tracing exercise is still ongoing, health protection teams have established that all nine cases are linked.

“They all trace back to a single private event on November 20.

“Indeed, we fully expect that there will be more cases identified over the coming days that are also linked to this event.

“In summary, the lack of any known travel or overseas connection to these cases does suggest that there is some community transmission of Omicron already happening in Scotland.

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“However, the fact that all known cases are so far linked to this single event suggests that community transmission may still be limited.”


Which street in Scotland has the slowest broadband?

Although more people have access to superfast speeds than ever before, many are suffering from slow connections, according to a survey.

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The Banchory street is among five across Scotland with average speeds of less than 1Mbps.

Grant Road in Banchory, Aberdeenshire, is the slowest street for broadband in Scotland, according to research by comparison site Uswitch.com.

The street clocked an average download speed of just 0.28Mbps, which means it would take more than 41 hours to download a two-hour HD film.

In contrast, the fastest street in the country – Murrayfield Terrace in Bannockburn, Stirling – had average speeds of 665Mbps, meaning that the same two-hour film could be downloaded in just 62 seconds.

The Banchory street is among five across Scotland with average speeds of less than 1Mbps.

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The village of Berriedal, Earlish in Portree, Rolland Avenue in East Wemyss, and Houstoun Gardens in Uphall, make up the top five slowest streets.

Portlethen in Erskine, Duncan Drive in Elgin, Bunloit village, a caravan park in St Andrews, and East Park Street in Huntly complete the top ten slowest streets with none reaching above an average of 1.69Mbps.

The UK average broadband speed is 79.1Mbps, according to the figures.

Dalhousie Crescent in Dalkeith is the second fastest street on the list, hitting an average of 576Mbps, followed by Raith Drive in Cumbernauld, Harmong Street in Bonnyrigg, and Abbotsford Avenue in Hamilton – all of which clocked speeds above 470Mbps.

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The list of the top ten fastest streets is completed by Ruchill Street in Glasgow, Skylands Rise in Hamilton, Tower Place in Edinburgh, Paterson Drive in Dumfries and Galashiels Avenue in Chapelhall – recording average speeds of 311Mbps or higher.

Uswitch said the number of users getting faster broadband speeds is growing, with 43% of those in the UK experiencing superfast internet connections of more than 30Mbps – almost double the number six years ago.

But the comparison site urged frustrated consumers to check what speeds they are getting and see whether faster broadband is available.

“It’s great to witness the increased uptake of ultrafast broadband, but we don’t want to see large swathes of the country left behind on shoddy connections that aren’t cutting it for modern life,” said Ernest Doku, a broadband expert at Uswitch.com.

“Initiatives like the Universal Service Obligation and Project Gigabit are helping improve connections at both ends of the spectrum, but there is a lot more to be done so consumers don’t get left behind.”

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “This survey highlights an important point: if people are getting low broadband speeds, it isn’t usually because fast connections are not available.

“Crewe is actually well covered by superfast broadband – including Wistaston Road. So we always recommend speaking to your provider to check you’re on the fastest connection and the best deal.”


Donald Trump accuses Duchess of being ‘disrespectful’ to the Queen

Trump also said that Prince Harry has been 'used horribly'.

Isaac Brekken via Getty Images
Trump: Criticised Markle in Farage interview.

Donald Trump has accused the Duchess of Sussex of being “disrespectful” to the Queen and the royal family.

In a wide-ranging interview with Nigel Farage, the former US president also said he thinks the Duke of Sussex has been “used horribly”.

Trump spoke about a number of subjects during the interview which took place in Florida on Monday and will be broadcast on GB News.

Speaking about Meghan Markle, Trump said: “I’m not a fan of hers. I wasn’t from day one. I think Harry has been used horribly and I think someday he will regret it.”

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According to GB News, he added: “I think Harry’s been used and been used terribly.

“I think it’s ruined his relationship with his family, and it hurts the Queen.”

In response to comments from Farage about Meghan using Duchess of Sussex headed writing paper to lobby members of Congress, Trump said: “She is trying do things that I think are very inappropriate.”

GB News said he told Farage: “I think she’s very disrespectful to the royal family and most importantly to the Queen.”

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During the interview, Trump described the Queen as “a great woman, such a great person, a historic person”.

It is not the first time Trump has spoken about the royal family.

During his state visit to the UK in summer 2019, Trump praised the royals saying: “The Queen and the entire royal family have been fantastic.

“The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong.”

He has been critical of Meghan and Harry on a number of occasions.

Trump said of the duchess in The Sun in 2019: “I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

And he tweeted following their departure from the royal family in 2020: “I am a great friend and admirer of the Queen & the United Kingdom.

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“It was reported that Harry and Meghan, who left the Kingdom, would reside permanently in Canada.

“Now they have left Canada for the US however, the US will not pay for their security protection. They must pay!”

When the couple urged people to vote in the 2020 election, Trump told reporters: “I’m not a fan of hers and I would say this, and she probably has heard that.

“But I wish a lot of luck to Harry, cause he’s going to need it.”

GB News said the interview features Trump talking about Boris Johnson, the presidential election, events at the US Capitol on January 6, Black Lives Matter, the migrant crisis in the US and the UK, Antifa, and the question of whether he will run for office again.

Farage, The Trump Interview airs at 7pm on Wednesday on GB News, which is available on Freeview 235, Sky 515 and Virgin Media 626.


Average price tag on a home expected to rise by 5% next year

Scotland is among the most competitive markets in the UK, Rightmove said.

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Rightmove said that its price forecast takes supply, demand and pricing data into account.

The average price tag on a home across Britain is predicted by a property website to increase by 5% next year.

The most competitive housing markets currently are in Scotland, the West Midlands, the South West and Yorkshire and the Humber, Rightmove said.

It predicts these areas are likely to see asking price growth at a higher rate of upwards of 7% next year.

By contrast, asking prices in London are expected to increase by around 3%.

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Rightmove said that its price forecast takes supply, demand and pricing data into account.

Rightmove’s director of property data, Tim Bannister, said an imbalance between supply and demand “has resulted in buyer demand per available property being at near record highs, suggesting that the 2021 scenario of multiple buyer bids on a high proportion of properties when they come to market is set to continue in the new year”.

He added: “We do, however, expect the pace of rises in 2022 to be slower than in 2021 due to increasingly stretched buyer affordability following this year’s rapid rises in average prices.

“Slowing in the pace of price rises and activity is likely to be more evident in the second half of the year. Therefore, if sellers are too optimistic on their asking price in the first half of the year, they risk missing the most active part of the market.”

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A stamp duty holiday, which recently ended, prompted a rush of buyer activity in 2021 as people looked to make the most of discounts on the tax.

Mr Bannister said: “While Rightmove sees a continuing busy market in 2022, we forecast it to be less frenzied than 2021 especially if the current scarcity of properties is eased as more owners decide to come to market in the first half of the year.

“Movers will still benefit from good mortgage availability and attractive rates even if base rates rise, and more choice of property coming to market and the slower pace of price rises compared to 2021 will encourage some who have held back so far to take action.”


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