‘No single best choice for currency in independent Scotland’

The Institute for Government has published new papers on borrowing and currency options for Scotland if it voted to leave the UK.

This 'tighter fiscal policy' could potentially mean spending cuts, tax rises, or both.
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This 'tighter fiscal policy' could potentially mean spending cuts, tax rises, or both.

The government in an independent Scotland could have to consider either tax rises or spending cuts “before too long” no matter which currency option was adopted after the leaving the UK, a think tank has warned.

The Institute for Government published new reports looking at the currency and borrowing options that could be available, should Scotland become independent.

But the paper on currency stated: “Whichever currency option an independent Scotland adopted, before too long it would probably have to run tighter fiscal policy than the position that Scotland would be likely to inherit on day one.”

This “tighter fiscal policy” could potentially mean spending cuts, tax rises, or both.


While the think-tank identified several potential options for currency in an independent Scotland, it ruled out a formal currency union with the UK – which the SNP had proposed in advance of the 2014 referendum – on the basis that the UK Government would not agree to it.

It also ruled out immediately joining the euro, adding that this would “only be possible only in the medium term – once Scotland had jumped through the necessary hoops” of re-entering the European Union and then meeting the necessary conditions for membership of the eurozone.

The think-tank concluded that “using sterling informally maybe the most attractive option at the very start”.

This fits with current SNP policy, which is that Scotland would retain the pound after independence, before seeking to establish its own currency.


The report added: “Once an independent Scotland had established its reputation for prudent fiscal policy and a commitment to low and stable inflation – and had time to build foreign exchange reserves – the attractions of issuing a new currency would probably increase.”

It went on to say that under such conditions a new currency “would be likely to be less volatile”.

The Institute for Government also claimed leaving the UK could “constrain Scotland’s fiscal policy because there would be limits on how much it could borrow year after year”.

And it warned that “Scottish debt interest costs would probably exceed rates that the UK could borrow at if Scotland remained in the union”.

Even in the the current low interest rate environment, the think tank estimated that “Scotland’s borrowing costs would be 0.4–0.9 percentage points higher than UK rates”.

Gemma Tetlow, chief economist at the Institute for Government and author of the report on Scotland’s currency options, said: “Scotland’s currency choice would have far wider implications than just the cash people use in their day-to-day lives – including implications for financial stability, what freedom the Government has to use monetary and fiscal policy, how easily businesses can trade with other countries, and the attractiveness of Scotland to foreign investors.

“There is no single best choice, all options would come with trade-offs.”


The papers have been published following confirmation from Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, that the Scottish Government is restarting work on a “detailed prospectus” for independence.

Sturgeon has already said she wants to hold another vote on the future of the UK by the end of 2023, assuming it is safe to do so amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK campaign group, Scotland in Union, said the reports showed the “astonishing risk and recklessness of the SNP’s plan to scrap the pound”.

She stated: “Introducing a new Scottish currency would have devastating consequences for our economy, with a knock-on impact on how much we can spend on hospitals, schools and social care services.

“When our NHS is in crisis and people are waiting hours for ambulances, and we have years of recovery ahead of us following Covid, this proves just how irresponsible the SNP’s separation blueprint really is.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “As the First Minister set out last week, work on a detailed prospectus is now being taken forward in line with the democratic mandate which has been secured for a referendum.

“The evidence shows that many independent countries of Scotland’s size have higher national incomes per head than the UK.

“Given Scotland’s resources and advantages, there is no reason an independent Scotland would not also be a successful economy – free of the damage of Brexit.”

Yousaf confident any COP26 coronavirus case rise can be ‘countered’

Some 25,000 people are expected to come to Scotland for the climate conference.

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Glasgow: Some 25,000 people are expected to come to Scotland for COP26.

The Scottish Government can take the necessary steps to counter a potential spike in Covid-19 cases caused by the COP26 gathering, health secretary Humza Yousaf has said.

As many as 25,000 people are set to arrive in Glasgow for the key climate summit, billed as the “last chance” to counter the effects of climate change.

But experts, including key government advisers, have raised concerns over a potential increase in cases associated with so many people being in a relatively small area.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Yousaf said “of course” there will be Covid-19 cases associated with the event, but he was confident these could be contained.


“There’s not a public health expert in the world that would say there’s no risk in the middle of a global pandemic to have tens of thousands of people descending onto largely one city,” he said.

“There is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising thereafter, but we’ll do everything we can to mitigate that.”

He added: “We are also very, very assured by the protocols we’ve got in place (at the conference) to be able to isolate those cases as best as we possibly can.”

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Scottish Government: Health secretary Humza Yousaf.

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “The health secretary simply had no answers to the potential impact of COP26 on our NHS.


“We need to see action to speed up the booster programme, ramp up testing and to secure surge capacity for our NHS.

“We are looking down the barrel at a winter of extreme pressure on our NHS and potentially surging levels of Covid.

“We need action from the health secretary to avoid this, not warm words.”

Cases in Scotland were on the rise throughout the summer as coronavirus restrictions were relaxed, but began to fall in September as the vaccination programme reached its end with young people included, but the drop has levelled off, with cases in October rarely falling below 2000 per day.

Despite the stubborn statistics, the health secretary said there are no immediate plans for a return to tough restrictions.

“We’re not actively considering restrictions,” he said.

“We know the harm restrictions have had in the past and therefore doing things like ensuring as many people get vaccinated as possible, continuing to make face coverings mandatory in certain settings such as indoor public settings and public transport, ensuring that we have that universal testing offer and asking people to test themselves regularly.”


But Yousaf said it would be “foolish” to speculate on possible restrictions at Christmas.

“I’m not going to tell you what’s happening in a couple of months time,” he said.

‘Take action against drink spikers rather than punish venues’

A number of reports of spiking – including allegedly with needles – have surfaced on social media in the past week.

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Spiking: A number of reports have surfaced on social media in the past week.

Scotland’s health secretary has said the focus should be on “taking action” against men who spike women’s drinks, as opposed to punishing venues.

Reports of a spate of spiking incidents against women, some involving the use of needles, have spread through social media in the past week, prompting police investigations across the UK.

Humza Yousaf, who was justice secretary earlier this year, said police were taking the incidents “incredibly, incredibly seriously”, but said he would not like to see venues punished.

“My view, having discussed this issue as a government, is that the night-time industry are very, very concerned and are doing everything they possibly can,” he told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show.


“I don’t think we want to beat the night-time industry over the head because of this issue.

“It is the perpetrators – the men, because let’s be honest it is men perpetrating this – that we need to get through to and if necessary take action against.

“We will continue to examine the law and enforcement to make sure it is robust to deal with this.”

He added: “I was deeply concerned to read those reports.”


When asked what action the government can take to tackle the problem, Yousaf said: “We’re looking at the law at the moment to see if it’s absolutely robust.

“But I know from the justice secretary’s (Keith Brown) conversations with Police Scotland they are taking it incredibly, incredibly seriously and doing whatever is necessary.”

According to a report by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), almost 200 spiking incidents were recorded in the past two months, according to data from 40 police forces across the country.

What the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow could achieve

There is no big ‘Paris Agreement’ style deal to secure in Glasgow, but the conference needs to deliver on a number of fronts.

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Glasgow: There is no big ‘Paris Agreement’ style deal to secure, but the conference needs to deliver on a number of fronts.

The COP26 summit in Glasgow is being billed as the biggest UN climate conference since countries secured the Paris Agreement at talks in the French capital in 2015.

However, there is no big new deal like the Paris Agreement to agree at COP26 – instead Glasgow has to deliver on the promises made six years ago and, alongside the formal UN negotiations, drive action to tackle the worsening climate crisis.

Here are some of the key areas where action is needed and where momentum and new commitments could help Glasgow be seen as a success:

Keeping 1.5C within reach


Glasgow has been billed as the last best chance to limit global warming to 1.5C in the long term.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to curbing temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5C – beyond which worsening impacts of climate change will be felt.

But, back in 2015, it was clear the emissions cuts countries had signed up to left the world far off track to meet the global temperature goals so, under the Paris deal, countries were due to bring forward more ambitious post-2020 national plans ahead of COP26.

Even with new plans many countries have brought forward, the world is nowhere near on track for the 1.5C target, and there are concerns that some countries might turn their attention to post-2030 action, when much more efforts are needed within the next ten years.


So UK officials want to see countries addressing how to close the gap between ambition and action required up to 2030, as part of the negotiated text that it is hoped will be secured by the end of the two weeks of talks.


The key to success at COP26 is delivering on a long-promised $100bn a year for 2020 to 2025 for poorer countries to develop cleanly and cope with the impacts of climate change.

It is seen as a matter of trust between developing and developed nations for donor countries to deliver on the promised private and public climate finance, and conversations will also begin on unlocking further funds after 2025.

There is pressure for finance to be split equally between efforts to cut emissions and to adapt to climate change, and also pressure to address demands on support for loss and damage caused by extreme weather and rising seas.


Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel, and polluting coal plants need to be phased out in the next two decades to meet climate goals, according to the International Energy Agency.


The UK wants to see more momentum on ending the use of coal, and is urging developed countries and regions to commit to phasing it out by 2030, or by 2040 in the case of developing nations, and for commitments to no new plants.


Road transport accounts for a tenth of global emissions, so countries are being urged to commit to ensuring all new car and van sales are zero emission vehicles by 2035 or 2040 and put in place policies to boost uptake.

Vehicle manufacturers are also being urged to commit to selling only zero emissions vehicles by 2035 or earlier.


Healthy and restored forests can absorb and lock up vast amounts of carbon from the atmosphere, and protecting trees – along with other carbon-storing natural habitats such as peatlands – is seen as key to cutting emissions and helping communities and wildlife cope with climate change.

The pressure is on countries to take steps to halt and reverse deforestation, switch to sustainable agriculture and support efforts to protect or conserve 30% of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.


While the most significant greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide, methane – from sources including livestock, agriculture such as rice production and fossil fuel extraction – is a powerful, but short-lived climate-warming gas.

Cutting emissions of methane is seen as a key way to curb warming in the short-term.

A US and EU-led “global methane pledge” which commits countries to cut their emissions of the gas by 30% by 2030 has already garnered a number of signatures ahead of its formal launch at COP26, where it is hoped more will sign up.

The Paris rulebook

Back in the negotiations, there are still some outstanding issues about how bits of the Paris Agreement are going to work, and they need to be sorted out to make it operational and effective.

There are three issues: transparency, Article 6, and common timeframes, and negotiating them will be key to COP26.

A transparency regime would see UN-run assessments of what countries are doing on climate, but all countries need to agree to face these reviews.

Countries are meant to submit updated climate plans – or NDCs – every five years under the Paris Agreement, but there is no coherence on how long a period those plans cover.

Agreeing common timeframes will make it clearer who is doing what and help comparisons.

And then there is Article 6: the part of the Paris Agreement which covers carbon markets.

Finalising the rules on how these markets work would allow countries to buy carbon credits that fund new clean projects or protect and restore forests to cover their emissions as part of climate action.

More on:

‘We can restore our damaged peatlands – but we’ll need help’

Efforts are under way across Scotland to repair eroded peatlands in a bid to help fight climate change.

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Peatland experts believe ambitious targets to restore damaged landscapes can be met – but only if more specialist contractors are hired.

The Scottish Government has pledged to spend £250m restoring peatlands over the next ten years to help fight climate change.

Peatlands filter much of the water we drink, provide habitats for wildlife and draw in more carbon from the environment than forests.

When they are eroded and burned to be used as fuel and compost, they emit more carbon than they store, and experts believe 80% of Scotland’s peatland is damaged.


‘Pathway to recovery’

Diggers are being used to smooth and recover peat at the Cairngorms National Park in a bid to restore them to their natural state.

Stephen Corcoran, peatlands programme manager at the park, which features some of the highest peatlands in the UK, said: “It’s a pathway to recovery, but the process does take a while.

“We’ll need more skilled contractors to help us with this project going forward because it is a massive area that needs to be restored.”

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The Scottish Government has pledged to spend £250m restoring peatlands over the next ten years.

Meanwhile, peatland action project officer Sue White is working to restore damaged landscape in Shetland.

Peatland that should be naturally covered in protective vegetation has been exposed and is emitting carbon.

“This sort of landscape is losing somewhere around 23.8 tonnes of carbon equivalent every year and we’ve got 40,000 hectares of it in Shetland,” she said.

“That alone is putting a huge amount of CO2 into the air, but we can turn it around quite simply.

“This funding is a good start. Going forward it is going to need private investment, but investors are very interested because you can sell carbon.”

The Scottish Government said it hopes the funding will help to restore 200,000 hectares of peatland by 2030.

Hunt for man who exposed himself to woman and carried out solo sex act

Police said the flasher struck in Linn Park, Glasgow, at around 6pm on Friday.

© Google Maps 2020
Linn Park: The incident happened on Friday evening.

A manhunt has been launched to catch a flasher who exposed himself to a woman in a Glasgow park.

The man also carried out an indecent act on himself during the incident in Linn Park at around 6pm on Friday.

Police said he struck near to the waterfall viewpoint.

The suspect is believed to be in his late-30s and around 6ft 1in. He was also described as slim and bald.


He was wearing a plain white vest and electric-blue basketball-style shorts with white leggings underneath.

Detective sergeant Nikki McPherson, of Glasgow CID, said: “Clearly, this was a disturbing and upsetting incident for the woman involved, who thankfully reported the matter to police.

“We are asking the public to get in touch if they think they know who this man is, or have witnessed similar incidents recently.

“We will be carrying out extensive enquiries to find the man responsible.”


If you have any information, call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

More on:

Two men in hospital after ‘disturbance’ outside hotel

Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening at this time.

© Google Maps 2020
Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the incident to contact them.

Two men had to be taken to hospital after a disturbance outside of a hotel in Argyll and Bute.

The incident took place on Saturday, at around 10pm, outside the Rosslea Hotel in Rhu.

Police say that a 27-year-old man was seriously assaulted and was taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital.

A 42-year-old man was also assaulted and was taken to the Royal Alexandria Hospital.


Their injuries are not believed to be life threatening at this time.

Detective Inspector Fiona Macarthur, of Dumbarton CID, said: “We know the hotel area would have been relatively busy at the time and the consequences of this incident could have been far worse.

“We’re appealing to people who witnessed the incident or has any relevant information to contact us.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 4135 of October 23.


Alternatively, they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

West Lothian tree planting plans branded a carbon offset ‘con’

A community leader has questioned how effective it is to fell mature trees and replace them with saplings.

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West Lothian: A community leader has questioned how effective it is to fell mature trees and replace them with saplings.

Almost £400,000 is to be spent on tree planting schemes in West Lothian despite concerns that acres of saplings cannot match the loss of mature trees felled by developers.

The planned planting over the next few years represents a major part of the council’s carbon capture plan as it drives towards its net-zero targets.

However, a community leader has questioned how effective it is to fell mature trees and replace them with saplings.

Pippa Plevin, from the Joint Forum of Community Councils, told a meeting of the council’s Environment PDSP: “The planting schemes are very welcome but planting saplings, especially if the saplings don’t survive, is not the same as the offset you get from the mature trees that are being felled for developments at East Calder or Bangour.


“Why are developers able to get away with felling mature trees?”

She branded the planting of saplings to replace mature trees as “a bit of a con”, adding: “Replacement of mature trees with whips is not the same carbon offset at all.”

Chris Alcorn, a principal planner, pointed out that while it was principally whips that were planted, there were situations where conditions demanded the planting of heavy standard or extra heavy standard mature trees.

Mr Alcorn said that planning law was generally set up to protect the natural environment. Planting programmes ensured that trees were protected and maintained with grant and other funding.


Head of planning Craig McCorriston told the meeting that while it was regrettable that trees had to be felled for development, a balance had to be struck with the demands of population growth.

At Bangour the trees being cut down are plantation growth which are poor carbon offsetters. 

He agreed with Mrs Plevin that it was not like-for-like replacement to plant whips but added that the council often demanded replanting or five or six trees for every one lost.

Also, at Bangour, the plantation growth will be replaced with a more diverse range of trees creating a greater biodiversity and improved offsetting.

He added: “We also get management in place for existing trees. A lot of historical planting has not been maintained well, particularly by the private sector.

“Through a development-led process we can get agreements in place to maintain trees going forward.

“While it is regrettable to lose trees to development there are certainly benefits to be derived from a development-led approach to ensuring that we get replacement trees and better maintenance.”


Among the sites that will see major planting is Nelson Park in Armadale. This former football field will be revitalised as a site for the Queen’s platinum Jubilee forest project.

Other sites identified for schemes dubbed wee forests in urban settings are at Parkhead, West Calder and Addiewell and also at Polkemmet at Whitburn.

Around 40 sites had originally been considered and planning officers agreed to share a list of the original sites with councillors following a request from Alison Adamson.

The council will also benefit from part of east central Scotland urban tree canopy programme and replacement of trees lost because of ash dieback.

An outline of the council’s work on ash dieback will come to the next meeting of the Environment PDSP.

By local democracy reporter Stuart Sommerville

Vin Diesel walks Paul Walker’s daughter down the aisle at wedding

Meadow Walker, 22, married actor Louis Thornton-Allan in a small ceremony in the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

Meadow Walker via Instagram
Family: Vin Diesel walked Meadow Walker down the aisle.

Vin Diesel walked the daughter of his late Fast and the Furious co-star Paul Walker down the aisle at her wedding.

Meadow Walker, 22, married actor Louis Thornton-Allan in a small ceremony attended by friends and family in the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

She shared photos from the beachside event on Instagram and wrote: “We’re married!!!!”

A black and white video also showed Diesel, 54, escorting her down the aisle.


According to Vogue magazine, the bride wore a custom Givenchy Haute Couture wedding dress designed by Matthew Williams, creative director of Givenchy.

Her Hollywood star father, who was famed for his work in The Fast and the Furious franchise, died in a car crash in 2013 when he was 40.

He starred alongside Diesel, playing racing rivals, and the pair remained close friends.

Meadow told Vogue she and her now-husband said their vows in front of a smaller gathering than hoped.


She said: “The pandemic impacted our plans. Louis’ family wasn’t able to attend.

“A lot of close friends whom we consider family were also unable to attend due to travel restrictions.”

Walker played Brian O’Conner in The Fast and the Furious films and was set to star in Furious 7 at the time of his death.

In pictures: When Clydebank reached the Scottish Cup semi-finals

Clydebank took on Celtic at Hampden in the 1989/90 Scottish Cup semi-finals.

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Sean Sweeney can't believe he hasn't scored for Clydebank after leaving Celtic keeper Pat Bonner on his knees.

Clydebank are back in the Scottish Cup for the first time in 20 years – and will take on Elgin City in a televised second-round clash on Monday.

It’s been a rollercoaster couple of decades for the former league stalwarts, whose name was controversially wiped off the football map following a takeover by Airdrie United, before they rose from the ashes as a junior outfit.

Now plying their trade in the West of Scotland Premier League, they’ve earned a spot on the road to Hampden, the venue for their 1989/90 season semi-final against Celtic.

Although they lost 2-0, they gave Billy McNeill’s side plenty of scares on a memorable afternoon for the Bankies, who were once sponsored by chart-toppers Wet Wet Wet.


In pictures, here’s a look back at the time Clydebank reached the last four of the Scottish Cup, their best ever run in the competition.

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Andy Walker gets the better of Jim Gallagher to open the scoring for Celtic.
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Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner pushes a shot from Clydebank’s John Davies round the post.
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Clydebank’s Paul Harvey and Celtic midfielder Steve Fulton battle for possession.
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Sean Sweeney thinks he’s scored for Clydebank, but his effort drifts wide.
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Clydebank goalkeeper Jim Gallagher.
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Clydebank’s Sean Sweeney chases Celtic striker Dariusz Dziekanowski.

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