Election reflection and the great mandate debate

Why a supposedly straightforward issue has become bogged down in confusion.

Boris Johnson wants to rebuff Nicola Sturgeon's push for a second independence referendum. Pool/Pool via Getty Images / WPA Pool/Pool via Getty Images
Boris Johnson wants to rebuff Nicola Sturgeon's push for a second independence referendum.

During, and in the immediate aftermath of, the Scottish election, there was quite a bit of debate and comment over the basic issue of what constitutes a mandate.

I say ‘basic’, for it really should be as straightforward as who won the election and can that party command a parliamentary majority to enact pledges made in their election manifesto?

And yet, this fundamental proposition seemed lost amid a whole series of refinements to the ‘who wins and who can govern’ principle. As this argument was played out against a backdrop of fury over the proposed holding of a second independence referendum, it seemed positions were taken and argued from the perspective of for or against constitutional change.

As the counting of votes got under way and as it became clear that the SNP had won the election and won it well, a narrative emerged that somehow it would represent failure if they did not win 65 seats. And, if they didn’t, they had no mandate for indyref2.

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Once the votes had been counted, several Conservative big hitters then turned to the share of the vote on the constituency ballots to argue that unionist votes outpolled votes for independence, as if the election was actually a referendum.

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Ballot counting in Aberdeen.

Many of those same politicians have argued that since nationalists insisted the 2014 referendum was to be ‘once in a generation’ or ‘once in a lifetime’, then this should act as an effective bar to the holding of a new poll.

The desire to introduce novel concepts to the idea of what constitutes a mandate is primarily used by proponents of the status quo. I don’t criticise them for that; it’s politics after all and politicians deploy arguments they think bolster their positions.

Two great constitutional questions have dominated the last decade in politics. Should Scotland become an independent country? And should the UK leave the European Union? The people have spoken in two referenda and the judgement was No to the former proposition and Leave to the latter.

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The SNP won the 2011 election and legislated for an independence poll. They had a mandate to do so. The Conservatives won the general election in 2015 and legislated for an in-out EU referendum. They had a mandate to do so. In both cases, the principle is the same; you win an election and if you can command a parliamentary majority for your position it will see the light of day.

Straightforward enough, isn’t it?

Of course, politics will always attempt to complicate what is not complicated. It is perfectly true that Scotland voted decisively to remain in the UK. For many remainers, there was therefore no mandate to take Scotland out of the UK. Most voters in Scotland do not vote for Conservative governments and it has been long argued, therefore, that they have no mandate to enact anything. These, of course, are political arguments that define the hurly-burly of crossfire. 

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The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross.

What is indisputable is that voters of the UK as a whole elect the UK Government. If the Conservatives across the UK win an election and wish to bring forward proposals for which there is not support in Scotland, it can do so. Its mandate comes from votes across the UK.

One of the arguments for independence is that you will always get the government you vote for and that the current constitutional settlement does not bridge the reality of Scotland going one way on an issue, like Brexit and the government of the UK going in another direction.

True enough, but as long as the constitution is as it is, it is not credible to argue that a Conservative government at Westminster has no mandate to pursue policies it was elected to enact. 

Likewise, it is not credible for politicians in Scotland to deny the SNP has a right to pursue indyref2. What was good enough for a UK Conservative government in 2015 should be good enough for an SNP government in 2021.

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Michael Gove refused to rule out a legal challenge to stop indyref2.
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I deliberately say ‘right to pursue’ since the arguments over a Holyrood-inspired independence referendum may yet succumb to legal arguments in the courts. That mother of constitutional battles is for another day.

Just for the record, the Conservatives won the 2015 election on 37% of the vote. The SNP won the most recent election with a constituency vote of 47.7%, a full ten percentage points ahead of the Conservative share in the UK in 2015. 

Our system of government does not rely on winning over 50% of the popular vote, it relies on being able to form a government and carrying the numbers in parliament for a proposal. The electoral system may be unfair, but that is an argument about the electoral system, not about the right to govern.

Many issues, probably most issues, where governments take decisions are not to be found in a party election manifesto but they decide nevertheless since they have won an election and have a mandate to govern. That’s the way the system works.

The mandate argument is now about to fade and a new one will take centre stage post-Covid and that concerns the legality of any new plebiscite.

At the moment we have a stand-off.

Nicola Sturgeon wants a legally agreed poll with Westminster, but Boris Johnson does not want to play ball. Plan B for Sturgeon is for Holyrood to legislate, daring the Prime Minister to go to court to block the move. The First Minister reckons that would simply propel a surge in support for independence and marginalise the UK Government on the issue.

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Nicola Sturgeon will push for a second referendum.

She would argue she has a mandate to pursue a referendum. He would argue he has a mandate to say ‘no’. What is obvious is that a stand-off without end is not very satisfactory for either party. The issue highlights a glaring hole in the constitution of the UK, that part written, part unwritten, uncodified mish-mash of rules and conventions; there is a need to agree how a constituent nation of the UK can hold a constitutional referendum or alter its relationship with the rest of the UK.

For Scotland, there is the precedent of 2014 but that cannot be triggered as a matter of automatic legal right. In Northern Ireland there is a route to a ‘border poll’ on Irish reunification and in Wales the debate lags behind even addressing such issues.

There is talk of a constitutional convention in the air. If one ever sees the light of date then it should definitively pronounce on mandates, road maps to change and put beyond skirmish the questions currently defining the major faultline in Scottish politics.


‘He had a knife… I thought I’d just have to be stabbed’

Victims of mass stabbings at a Glasgow hotel reflect on their suffering 12 months later.

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Three asylum seekers who were hurt in mass stabbings at a hotel are still suffering from flashbacks a year on.

Sudanese national Badreddin Abedlla Adam, 28, was shot dead by armed police after injuring six people in a knife attack at the Park Inn in Glasgow.

Police officer PC David Whyte and two hotel workers were also taken to hospital after the incident, which prompted a huge emergency response in the city centre.

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The Park Inn Hotel was housing asylum seekers.

Ahead of Saturday’s anniversary, the three asylum seekers spoke together for the first time and revealed they’re haunted by the memories every day.

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Max Aubin Glossoa and two other men – being named only as Mo and Mohamed – also told STV News they had no “bad feelings” towards their attacker.

‘I spend the days in my house’

Max, 21, from Ivory Coast, rarely ventures outside even 12 months on from the “worst day of my life”.

“To me now ‘safety’ is just a word,” he said. “I came here to be safe and I was stabbed, so it’s just a word. 

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“Physically I have a lot of scars on my body and there are a lot of things I still can’t do, like go to the gym and work out. Mentally it is difficult to forget as the flashbacks are still coming and coming.

“I feel alone. There can be ten people in the room but I still feel alone because I don’t trust anyone. 

“I don’t like to go outside in case someone will hurt me, so I spend all my days in my house, far from the city and from people.”

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Max Aubin Glossoa

‘I just have to be stabbed

Blood in the hotel lift was the first thing that alerted Mohamed, a teenager from Sierra Leone, to the danger, before he was confronted by the knifeman.

“He was keeping a knife behind his back,” the 18-year-old said. “He grabbed me and punched me and tried to reach for his knife. I was shouting for help, but no one was coming to my rescue.

“I thought ‘I’ll just have to be stabbed. I’ll just have to die’.”

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The teenager, who spent three days in hospital with severe bruising, managed to break free and ran outside, where he saw his friend Mo had been stabbed.

“He was crying and saying he was going to die,” Mohamed said. “As he was calling my name, I was just thinking how was I saved.”

‘Will I play football again?

Mo was going to get lunch when he was stabbed in the back.

“I tried to turn and he stabbed me again,” the 19-year-old said. “He was holding two knives and stabbing at my back and stomach. I was shouting and shouting. The place where I tried to run to was blocked.”

Mo spent ten days in hospital and still needs treatment for a liver problem.

“The first thing I asked my doctor was ‘will I play football again?’. The doctor said ‘yes’ and I was like ‘thank god’.

The incident prompted a huge emergency response.

It’s killing me slowly

The three men were moved into flats after being released from hospital and have had counselling, but still face an uncertain future as they wait to learn whether they can remain in Scotland.

Mo said: “It’s killing me slowly. We are always thinking about one thing – is the Home Office going to do this or that? We are in total darkness and thinking about this every day is not good for my mental health.“ 

Their immigration lawyer Andrew Bradley said his clients’ cases deserved to be treated as a priority.

“These three men are going to have to live with what happened to them in Glasgow for the rest of their lives,” he said.

“They have been struggling over the last year and their recovery from this trauma is really poorly served by the ongoing delay.

“It is time the authorities involved and Home Office gave these cases the priority they deserve.”

Needs ‘were not met’

In the aftermath of the attack, serious questions were raised about the treatment of asylum seekers, who were placed in hotels by the Home Office – following a suggestion from housing contractor Mears Group – as Scotland went into lockdown.

Charities and politicians said the needs of vulnerable people – including children, pregnant women and trafficking survivors – were not being met.

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Six people were stabbed.

An agreed pause with the city council on asylum seekers being placed in Glasgow by the Home Office remains in place.

Mears said the victims of the Park Inn attacks had been offered counselling and other support, and that it aimed to move all asylum seekers out of hotels within the next month.

A statement read: “We are seeing the housing and lettings market open up and we are now able to procure additional dispersed accommodation in the community.    

“We have 170 service users currently and we are arranging moves out every day, with the aim of all service users being out of hotels by the end of July.”

What did the Home Office say?

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We take the welfare of those in our care extremely seriously. All asylum seekers in hotels are provided with full-board accommodation with three meals a day served as well as all other essentials.

“In the aftermath of the Glasgow incident, our accommodation provider offered trauma response services and had regular conversations with residents to ensure mental health needs were addressed.

“Our New Plan for Immigration will reform the broken asylum system, allowing us to welcome people through safe and legal routes, while preventing abuse and pressure on the system and the criminality associated with it.”

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Forensics investigators carry out work at the hotel.

Who was Badreddin Abedlla Adam?

The 28-year-old from Sudan had been living in Glasgow for six months before carrying out the attacks at lunchtime on Friday, June 26 last year.

He’d been struggling to get help with his mental health during the pandemic and fellow asylum seekers at the hotel were worried about his behaviour.

One person told STV News he had previously warned he was going to carry out an attack – which campaign group Refugees for Justice said was the culmination of a “tragic chain of events”.

A year later, Max said he had “no bad feelings” towards his attacker.

“Every day when I remember, I still feel guilty,” he added. “We were the same. We lived in the hotel and we were asylum seekers. We didn’t take the time to say ‘are you ok?’.” 

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Badreddin Abedlla Adam

Remembrance and unity’

A commemoration event will take place in Glasgow at 1pm on Saturday, when people are being asked to bring flowers, candles and poems to George Square.

Refugees for Justice coordinator Pinar Aksu said: “We want to mark the anniversary of what happened last year, by remembering our friends and all of the people seeking asylum in our city who lost their lives.

“We want June 26 to be a day when we all come together in a moment of remembrance and unity.”

Pensioner accused of killing toddler dies before court case

Criminal proceedings end following death of woman arrested in connection with killing Xander Irvine by dangerous driving.

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Xander Irvine died after being hit by a car in Edinburgh's Morningside area last year.

No one will stand trial over the death of a three-year-old boy in Edinburgh after the pensioner accused of killing him by dangerous driving passed away.

Xander Irvine was walking with his mother, Victoria, 37, when he was hit by a car on Morningside Road on June 30 last year.

The toddler was taken to hospital but suffered fatal injuries.

A 91-year-old woman was arrested in connection with the incident.

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But the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (Copfs) said on Friday the case is now closed after the pensioner died on May 16.

A Copfs spokesperson said: “As the accused is now deceased, criminal proceedings are at an end.”

The accused appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last October charged with causing death by dangerous driving and while uninsured.

She made no plea and she was released on bail. A trial was expected to take place next month.

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Meanwhile, a fundraiser to install a wood carving in Xander’s memory at Morningside Playpark has already raised almost £7500.

To donate, visit the GoFundMe page here.

Man dies after two fall overboard from fishing vessel

Police say 61-year-old man pronounced dead after falling into sea in the Sound of Rum on Thursday evening.

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A Coastguard helicopter went to the scene.

One man has died after he and another crew member went overboard from a fishing vessel.

The pair were recovered from the water by the third member of the crew after they fell into the sea in the Sound of Rum.

Police said that one of the men, a 61-year-old, was pronounced dead.

A rescue operation was launched after the Coastguard received a Mayday call from the vessel just before 7.10pm on Thursday.

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The Mayday stated that two of the three crew had entered the water, two nautical miles north-west of the island of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides.

Mayday relay broadcasts were issued to vessels in the area and the Coastguard helicopter from Stornoway and RNLI lifeboats from Mallaig and Tobermory were sent to the scene.

The Coastguard said the crew member still on the fishing vessel managed to get both men back on board, where the helicopter’s winch paramedic attended to them.

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Police were called to a report of two men having fallen into the sea from a fishing vessel in the Sound of Rum.

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“Emergency services attended, including the RNLI lifeboat from Mallaig and HMCG helicopter from Stornoway.

“Both men were recovered from the water but one, a 61-year-old man, was sadly pronounced dead.

“There are no suspicious circumstances. A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

The other man suffered a minor injury and did not need any hospital treatment.

An HM Coastguard spokeswoman said: “Mallaig RNLI lifeboat escorted the fishing vessel to Mallaig Harbour, where they were met by Police Scotland and Mallaig Coastguard Rescue Team.”

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Matt Hancock accused of having affair with adviser

Pictures published by The Sun appear to show the UK health secretary kissing an adviser to his department.

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There are calls for an investigation into the appointment of the adviser.

UK health secretary Matt Hancock has been accused of having an affair with an adviser to his department.

The Sun published pictures of the married Cabinet minister appearing to kiss Gina Coladangelo, who the newspaper said was hired by Hancock last year.

The images, which appear to be captured from CCTV footage, were taken on May 6 from the headquarters of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), the newspaper adds.

It said the minister hired Coladangelo as an unpaid adviser on a six-month contract in March last year, before appointing her as a non-executive director at the department.

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Hancock, who is said to have met Coladangelo at university, has been married to his wife Martha for 15 years and they have three children together.

Coladangelo is the marketing and communications director at Oliver Bonas, a British retailer founded by her husband Oliver Tress.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Friday morning that he would not be commenting on the “entirely personal” matter following the reports about his Cabinet colleague.

When asked if the health secretary had been ignoring social distancing rules when the images were taken, Shapps told LBC he is “quite sure that whatever the rules were at the time were followed”.

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However, the UK Government’s road map out of lockdown said people should continue to keep their distance from anyone not in their household or support bubble until May 17.

Asked about the rules around appointing friends to Government positions, Shapps told Sky News: “First of all, I think the actual issue is entirely personal for Matt Hancock.

“In terms of rules, anyone who has been appointed has to go through an incredibly rigorous process in Government, so whatever the rules are, the rules will have to be followed.

“There are no short cuts to that, as anyone who has had anything to do with the appointments system in the Civil Service knows.

“There are very strict rules in place.”

Labour said the Government needs to answer whether the health secretary had broken any rules or there had been “conflicts of interest” in the appointment of his closest adviser.

An opposition party spokesman said: “Ministers, like everyone, are entitled to a private life.

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“However, when taxpayers’ money is involved or jobs are being offered to close friends who are in a personal relationship with a minister, then that needs to be looked into.

“The Government needs to be open and transparent about whether there are any conflicts of interests or rules that have been broken.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said on Twitter: “The reason Matt Hancock should resign is that he is a terrible health secretary, not because of his private life.

“From the PPE scandal, the crisis in our care service and the unbelievably poor test and trace system, he has utterly failed.”

Hancock was not at his north London home on Friday morning. The DHSC was also contacted for comment.

SNP MP Tommy Sheppard said that there must be an investigation into the appointment of Coladangelo.

“Private matters are just that but public appointments are another matter entirely and they warrant proper scrutiny and full transparency,” he said.

“There must be an investigation into this appointment and a full public inquiry into the Tory cronyism scandal engulfing Westminster, which is out of control.

“The public deserve answers as to why so many Tory friends and donors have been handed jobs, peerages, public contracts and many millions of pounds in taxpayers’ money.”


Brother and sister with rare genetic disorder seek match

Five-year-old Lily and three-year-old Benjamin are so unique their condition doesn’t even have a name.

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A brother and sister thought to be the only people in the world with the rarest of genetic conditions are joining an international search to help find other families who could be like theirs.

Lily and Benjamin Arnott, from Penicuik, Midlothian, are so unique their condition doesn’t even have a name.

Their parents, Kenny and Crystal, have signed up to a world-leading database in the hope of finding support.

“It can be quite lonely sometimes being parents of children with additional support needs,” said Mr Arnott.

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“Being a parent is hard full stop. It’s hard. But it’s quite hard to explain to other parents what you go through every so often.

“So I guess that’s going to start being really important to us.”

The Arnotts are among 684 families in Scotland who have signed up with Surrey-based charity Unique, whose world-leading database helps to track down and pair families with extremely rare chromosome and gene disorders in the UK or overseas.

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Home: Benjamin Arnott has a rare genetic condition.

Children, who were thought to be the only one with a specific rare chromosome or gene disorder (RCD), are being paired with others and given a lifeline to share experiences and information.

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“Our hopes with being on Unique is to be part of this ever-growing database and hopefully reaching out to other families that may have the same rare chromosome and then being able to support each other,” said Mrs Arnott.

There are no set milestones for Lily and Benjamin’s development because there are no other confirmed cases exactly like theirs.

Genetic testing after Lily was born showed that she had an extra chromosome strand.

Her younger brother, Benjamin, has the same unusual arrangement which has so far not been identified in other patients whose details are logged with UK or international databases.

Finding other families offers the family not just emotional support, but also an opportunity to share information that could help answer questions about the children’s future.

If a match were to be found with an older child or even adult, it would provide valuable information to the family and their doctors.

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Search: The Arnotts have signed up to Unique.

“Having a child with a rare or unique condition can be a very lonely place but this incredible application of science is leading to new discoveries every day, so we have been able to put families in touch with similarly ‘unique’ families across the world,” said Dr Beverly Searle, CEO of Unique.

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“Many of our families have been told that their child may be the only one in the world with their specific disorder so discovering someone else like them and sharing their journeys can be life-changing.”


Crack cocaine, heroin and cash seized in police raids

Three men have been charged in connection with the county lines operation in Aberdeen on Thursday.

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Police: Officers raided nine properties in Aberdeen.

Three men have been charged after more than £30,000 worth of crack cocaine and heroin was seized in police raids across Aberdeen.

Almost £20,000 in cash was also recovered as part of the intelligence-led county lines operation.

On Thursday, officers raided nine properties in areas including Garthdee, Rosemount, Bucksburn and Bridge of Don.

Over the course of the operation, known as Operation Makeshift, police recovered the cash haul as well as heroin with a street value of £13,000 and crack cocaine with a street value of £18,000.

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Three men, aged 22, 35 and 47, were arrested and charged in connection with drug supply offences and will appear at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Friday.

Police said county lines groups typically use young or vulnerable people to deliver or store drugs, and to sell to customers.

This can involve intimidation, violence and in some cases the sexual exploitation of young people.

Members of a group may take over a vulnerable person’s home as a base to conduct their operations from, often coercing the person into helping them through violence or threats of violence.

Detective inspector Martyn Thomson said: “Proactively targeting organised crime groups who exploit vulnerable people and import drugs into our communities for their own illicit gain remains a priority for our officers.

“Thursday’s operation shows we’re committed to identifying the supply chain of drugs and disrupting the activity of people intent on bringing them to the north-east.

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“Drugs cause nothing but harm and despair to families and communities.

“However we can’t do this alone. The public continue to play a vital role in assisting investigations into drug crime and I would encourage anyone who believes an individual or property within their community may be being exploited for criminal purposes to contact Police Scotland.”

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


Watchdog probes Amazon and Google over fake reviews

Officials to examine whether people and businesses have been able to post fake reviews online with too much impunity.

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Competition and Markets Authority have opened formal probe into fake reviews.

Competition officials are to examine whether people and businesses have been able to post fake reviews online with too much impunity.

The Competition and Markets Authority has opened a formal investigation into whether Amazon and Google have done enough to crack down on the practice.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: “Our worry is that millions of online shoppers could be misled by reading fake reviews and then spending their money based on those recommendations.

“Equally, it’s simply not fair if some businesses can fake five-star reviews to give their products or services the most prominence, while law-abiding businesses lose out.”

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The watchdog said that over the past year it has become concerned that the two technology giants are not doing enough to detect fake and misleading reviews or suspicious behaviour.

In some cases users might have reviewed the same range of products or businesses, or at times reviews suggest that the writer was paid or given another incentive to write the post.

It questioned whether the two are doing enough to investigate and promptly remove fake and misleading reviews from their platforms, and impose adequate sanctions on reviewers or businesses engaged in the practice.

“It’s important that these tech platforms take responsibility and we stand ready to take action if we find that they are not doing enough,” Mr Coscelli said.

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The CMA said its concerns have been prompted by a year-long initial inquiry, which caused it to launch this formal investigation.

If it finds that the two companies are not doing enough, the CMA could force them to change how they work.

But officials stressed that they have not yet reached a view on whether either has broken the law.

Last year Facebook, Instagram and eBay removed groups and banned individuals for buying or selling fake reviews on their sites.

Barbados, Bermuda and Malta added to UK green travel list

On Thursday the list was announced by the Northern Irish Executive ahead of the UK Government.

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Travel: Barbados, Bermuda and Malta are among the countries being added to the green list.

Barbados, Bermuda and Malta are among the countries that have been added to the UK’s green travel list.

On Thursday, the list was announced by the Northern Irish Executive, ahead of the announcement by the UK Government.

The new additions to the green list are Malta, Madeira and the Balearic islands; the Caribbean nations of Antigua, Barbados, Barbuda, Dominica and Grenada; and the UK overseas territories of Anguilla and Montserrat, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Pitcairn, and Turks and Caicos Islands.

Current green list countries include Australia, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

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Meanwhile The Dominican Republic, Eritrea, Haiti, Mongolia, Tunisia and Uganda have been added to the red list following the latest review, which means travellers are required to enter managed isolation for ten days upon their return.

The latest changes come into effect at 4am on June 30.

The Scottish Government said there will be close monitoring of the position in the Balearics over the next three weeks ahead of the next review point.

The easing follows the latest review of the ‘traffic light’ risk warning system for international travel which came into effect on 17 May.

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The steps were considered on a four nation basis at a strategic meeting which also considered possible options for future changes to amber list arrival requirements.

The Scottish Government said it was “cautiously considering the evidence” for easing amber list travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people.

However no decision is expected on this immediately and four nations discussions will continue.

The latest analysis of international travel restrictions has seen no change to the green and red list requirements.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said: “From the outset we have said caution is required regarding international travel and people should think very carefully about travelling abroad as situations can suddenly change.

“We continue to work closely with the other home nations and are cautiously supportive of exploring options for the easing of restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from countries on the amber list – but only if the clinical advice supports it and if systems are in place to ensure the wider safety of the Scottish population.”

Joanne Dooey, president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association, said: “Any destination going on the green list which has a route from Scotland is welcome.

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“The Balearic Islands are one of the most popular destinations for Scots to travel on holiday.

“The additional Caribbean destinations are also good news.

“Being able to travel to amber countries if you have been double vaccinated is the next positive move we need.

“We need to bring back customer confidence that holidays can be booked now.”


Scotland ‘could face paramedic shortage without bursary’

Unison said those training to be paramedics should be given the same bursaries as nursing and midwifery students.

Scottish Ambulance Service via Website
Bursary: Calls for extra payment for paramedic students.

Scotland could face a shortage of paramedics in future if students in the profession are not given the same bursaries as those training to become nurses and midwives, union leaders have warned.

Unison is demanding action on the issue after a campaign for student paramedics to receive bursary payments won cross-party support in the run-up to the Holyrood election.

It comes as changes being brought in from September will mean those who wish to become paramedics have to complete a three-year degree – rather than undergoing apprentice-style, on-the-job training.

Student paramedic Lisa Tainish said: “Where there once was a pay-as-you-learn apprenticeship for paramedics, we now have three years of expensive education to pay for.

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“Student paramedics are at a disadvantage when it comes to supporting studies with a part-time job in the traditional student employers such as retail and hospitality.

“You physically can’t finish a busy eight to 12-hour frontline placement, witnessing traumatic events like death or serious injury, then go sit behind a shop till or bar with a smile on your face.”

Ms Tainish, a member of the Pay Student Paramedics campaign, insisted: “The placement work we do is work and should be paid.

“Our research clearly shows that financial pressure has paramedic students on the verge of choosing a different career.

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“The brutal reality is that unless support such as a bursary, already given to student nurses, gets put in place, Scotland could be facing a critical shortage of paramedics.

“All the political parties gave us a commitment they would sort this out. Now it’s time for action.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “We are committed to the introduction of a bursary for student paramedics as quickly as possible.

“We are working with the Student Awards Agency Scotland to do this at the earliest opportunity.”

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