Coronavirus live: ‘We’re not done with lockdown yet’

The latest coronavirus news and updates from across Scotland on Thursday, April 9.

Coronavirus: News and updates. Pixabay
Coronavirus: News and updates.

8.30pm: Blue light tribute during clap for our carers

The nation has once again come together to thank the NHS workers fighting coronavirus.

Now in its third week, the clap for our carers campaign continues to recognise key workers and all those working on the frontline battling to stop the spread of Covid-19.

At 8pm on Thursday, people across the UK showed their appreciation for health staff by cheering and applauding into the streets.

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Police Scotland joined forces with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Scottish Ambulance Service to hold a special blue light tribute.

7.20pm: Prime Minister out of intensive care

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been moved out of intensive care, Downing Street has confirmed.

On Thursday night, a spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has been moved this evening from intensive care back to the ward, where he will receive close monitoring during the early phase of his recovery.

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“He is in extremely good spirits.”

6pm: North Air agrees to furlough workers on full pay

Unite Scotland has welcomed the decision by North Air based in Aberdeen to furlough employees during the Covid-19 crisis on full pay.

North Air is a fuel tanker company for aircrafts based at Aberdeen Airport.  

The decision to furlough 27 workers in line with the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme follows Unite securing a trade union recognition agreement with the company earlier this year.

Unite regional officer, Shauna Wright, said: Unite the Union are delighted that North Air have agreed to utilise the government retention scheme and top up the salary to 100% for the workforce in Aberdeen. 

“This is a welcome offer from the company and shows that North Air as an employer values their staff group during these difficult times. 

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“Unite earlier this year signed a recognition agreement with North Air and this is a testament to good working relationships at a local level. 

“We hope that this shows all employers that doing the right thing at the right time is the way forward.”

5.30pm: Lawyer to scrutinise police use of emergency powers

A leading human rights lawyer has been appointed to scrutinise Police Scotland’s use of emergency powers during the coronavirus crisis.

John Scott QC will be the chairman of an independent group examining how police are using the new powers granted by emergency legislation.

Officers now have the ability to fine or arrest those suspected of breaching lockdown rules.

Mr Scott is a solicitor advocate with more than 30 years’ experience in the legal profession. He was involved in the Lockerbie case appeal and previously led the Scottish Human Rights Centre.

He is also the chairman of a review into mental health legislation.

Chief constable Iain Livingstone invited him to take on the new role, following consultation with justice secretary Humza Yousaf.

5pm: Death toll continues to rise

A total of 7978 patients have died in hospital after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 5pm on Wednesday, Dominic Raab has said, up by 881 from 7097 the day before.

On the possibility of easing the lockdown, the foreign secretary said: “We are not done yet. We must keep going.”

He added: “It’s been almost three weeks and we’re starting to see the impact of the sacrifices we’ve all made.

“But the deaths are still rising and we haven’t yet reached the peak of the virus. So it’s still too early to lift the measures that we put in place.

“We must stick to the plan and we must continue to be guided by the science.”

Speaking at the Downing Street daily briefing, he said Prime Minister Boris Johnson “continues to make positive steps forward and he’s in good spirits”.

3.25pm: Sturgeon will consider allowing those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 to be tested for the virus

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said testing relatives of people who have died from coronavirus could prevent them from “grieving alone”.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Leonard said “compassionate testing” could also help patients receiving end-of-life care to enjoy the time they had left.

So far, facilities across Scotland have carried out more than 27,000 tests for coronavirus. Priority is being given to NHS frontline staff.

The First Minister said she would look at the issue “very carefully”.

2.59pm: Postal staff walkout as bosses fail to clean ill worker’s desk

Angry postal staff staged a walkout after bosses failed to clean the workstation of a worker who was hospitalised with coronavirus symptoms.

Staff at a Royal Mail sorting office in Greenock, Inverclyde, raised their grievances after a worker fell ill in work between last Thursday and Saturday and was subsequently hospitalised.

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Royal Mail: The workers walked out on Monday.

A source said despite colleagues expressing their worries about the employee’s health, nothing was done by management and the worker continued to handle hundreds of parcels to be delivered.

Workers arrived at the sorting office on Monday morning to find out that their colleague had been admitted to hospital, yet they were expected to carry on as normal.

They immediately walked out while representatives from the Communication Workers Union (CWU) met with bosses.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: “There was a disruption to service on Monday morning at Inverclyde delivery office.

“We are working with our people to resolve any areas of concern.

“A deep clean of the office is taking place today.

“Royal Mail takes the health and safety of its colleagues, its customers and the local communities in which we operate very seriously.”

2.20pm: Priority supermarket delivery slots for vulnerable Scots to be in place next week

Nicola Sturgeon said about 4200 packages of food and essential items have been delivered free of charge to “shielded” people unable to leave their home at all during the coronavirus pandemic.

She added that the 136,000 people across the country identified as most vulnerable by medics have all been contacted offering help to get medicine and – if requested – free food deliveries.

Of those, 21,000 have registered for the support service, Sturgeon said.

In addition to the offer of food deliveries through the Scottish Government’s contracts with suppliers Brakes and Bidfood, those in the shielded group will soon be able to ask for their details to be passed on to supermarkets who will offer priority delivery services.

2.09pm: Sturgeon: Scotland faces ‘mental health legacy’ from coronavirus

Scotland will be left dealing with a “mental health legacy” of coronavirus once the virus has been quelled, the First Minister has said.

Taking part in the first ever virtual meeting in the history of the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon said the effects of isolation necessitated by the outbreak will be felt long after it is over.

In response to a question from Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, the First Minister said funding had been made available to allow for the expansion of counselling services, including the creation of virtual cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) sessions.

She said: “Not just in the immediate phase of dealing with this, but I suspect for a long time afterwards, we’re going to be dealing with a mental health legacy of it.

“We have to make sure that the services that provide the help that people need are there and that means expanding access to counselling now, but looking ahead to make sure that these services are appropriate in the future as well.”

1.50pm: New PPE advice for care workers following union anger

Pixabay via Pixabay

New guidance has been issued on what personal protective equipment (PPE) Scottish care workers should wear, following concern from trade unions.

The Scottish Government has agreed with unions and local authorities that the UK-wide guidance on PPE is “official and fully comprehensive”.

Unions had criticised supplementary guidance issued by Scotland’s chief nursing officer Fiona McQueen regarding the use of face masks for care workers looking after patients not suspected of having Covid-19 symptoms.

1.22pm: PM continues to improve after ‘good night’ in intensive care

Boris Johnson’s condition “continues to improve” in intensive care where he has spent three nights while being treated for the coronavirus, Downing Street has said.

The Prime Minister had a “good night” in St Thomas’ Hospital in London and thanks the NHS for the “brilliant care” he has received, his official spokesman said on Thursday.

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12.55pm: Coronavirus claims 81 more lives as death toll rises to 447

The coronavirus death toll in Scotland has risen to 447, the First Minister has confirmed.

Nicola Sturgeon said 81 more deaths had been recorded since yesterday.

Before a ‘virtual’ session of First Minister’s Questions, she said 4957 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in Scotland.

Sturgeon stressed as usual that the figure was an “underestimate”.

A total of 1781 coronavirus confirmed or suspected patients were in hospital as of 9am on Thursday, with 212 in intensive care.

12.27pm: Scottish coronavirus facilities have tested 5,000 people

Coronavirus testing facilities across Scotland have already tested 5,000 people.

This includes a new facility at Glasgow Airport, which opened in a long-stay car park on Sunday, and will prioritise testing NHS frontline staff.

The Glasgow drive-through facility is by invitation only, for those who are priority testing.

Professor Jason Leitch, the Scottish Government’s national clinical director, told BBC Radio Scotland: “We’ve now tested 5,000 health and social care workers across the country, partly using work you’ll have seen on the TV, and places in Fife and Tayside.

“It’s part of the UK approach to testing but we’re responsible for who gets in and out of that service. So, we take priority people and put them through that first, and as that expands we’ll be able to increase that list.”

12.16pm: Sturgeon not expecting COBRA to propose easing lockdown measures

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The First Minister says easing of lockdown measures unlikely.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is not expecting the Cobra committee to propose any easing of the coronavirus lockdown measures, ahead of Thursday’s meeting.

The emergency meeting, featuring the leaders of the devolved governments, will be chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab after the Prime Minister spent another night in hospital suffering from Covid-19.

The First Minister told Sky News the meeting is expected to discuss the current coronavirus situation and there is little chance lockdown measures will be changed.

She said: “I agree with Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales; I don’t think there is any possibility, any likelihood, of these lockdown measures being lifted immediately, or even imminently.”

12.10pm: Former justice secretary calls for prisoner releases to fight virus

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has called for the Scottish Government to set up a prisoner release programme to tackle coronavirus.

Writing in the Scotsman, MacAskill said the state has a duty of care to inmates in its prisons, which are “geared toward hothousing the virus, rather than shielding the prisoner from infection”.

Last week, MSPs passed the Scottish Government’s emergency Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill which put in place provisions to allow prisoners to be released should the prison estate become overwhelmed.

Under the new law, only those convicted of sexual or terror offences or someone who poses a threat to an identified person will be exempt from release

12.04pm: Residents dead in coronavirus outbreak at third Scottish care home

A third Scottish care home has experienced a deadly Covid-19 outbreak, with nine elderly residents reportedly dying from the virus.

Staff at Tranent Care Home in East Lothian, which cares for people with dementia, are currently trying to manage the outbreak.

It follows other outbreaks at Castle View care home in Dumbarton, West Dunbartonshire, where eight residents died after showing coronavirus symptoms, and Burlington care home in North Lanarkshire, where 13 died.

11.48am: Uni cafeteria delivers van load of stock to local food bank

A cafeteria at Edinburgh Napier University has delivered a van load of leftover stock to a local foodbank.

Enjoy at Edinburgh Napier in Sighthill sent the food to the bank at South Leith Parish Church on Tuesday.

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A Facebook post from Enjoy said: “In times like these we know how important is to pull together and help each other out.

“We loaded up a van and delivered our leftover stock from Sighthill to the food bank at South Leith Parish Church!

“A huge thank you to Rev. Iain May for all the work the church is doing to help those in need in the local community.”

10.48am: Scottish Building Society staff support Alzheimer Scotland helpline

Scottish Building Society has partnered with Alzheimer Scotland’s free 24-hour hotline to help those living with dementia and their families during lockdown.

Staff at SBS are supporting the charity’s volunteers by providing specialist advice on questions around finances, such as mortgages and savings.

With families in self-isolation, the charity have had to increase capacity on this critical lifeline.

They reached out to SBS to ask if staff could volunteer their expertise for the helpline.

Paul Denton, SBS Chief Executive, said: “It is critical at this time that those living with dementia and their partners, carers and friends know that they are not alone.

“Alzheimer Scotland provides a vital lifeline at these difficult times and everyone at the Society feels privileged to support such an essential charity.”

10.41am: Foodbanks across Scotland benefit from ScotRail stock donation

People in need across Scotland have benefitted from donations from ScotRail staff.

ScotRail’s hospitality teams have donated food and drink stock to charities operating foodbanks in Glasgow, Edinburgh Aberdeen and Inverness.

The train operator has temporarily withdrawn all on-board hospitality services from its trains, resulting in a surplus in short dated food and drink such as soft drinks, snack boxes and confectionary.

Help for the Homeless Glasgow and Church of Scotland’s Edinburgh North East and Leith foodbank are among the charities who received donations.

10.40am: Charity provides emergency supply packs to ‘sick kids’ hospital

An Edinburgh charity is providing emergency supply packs to support children and families in hospital through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity (ECHC) – which supports the Royal Hospital for Sick Children – has launched an emergency appeal to help families having to cope with the impact of the outbreak on top of the distress of having a sick or injured child.

The free emergency packs contain non-perishable food products and essential items including nappies, toilet roll, tinned soup, beans and tea bags so parents and carers do not have the additional stress of shopping for their families while their child is in hospital.

10.22am: Uni launches study to understand mental health implications of covid-19.

A leading university is launching a new study into the mental health and wellbeing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in adults across the UK.

The University of Glasgow will work in partnership with Samaritans and SAMH for the project.

The study will aim to understand the impact of the pandemic, and the unprecedented social distancing measures introduced across the country, on mental health indicators such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, self-harm or positive mental wellbeing.

9.55am: Airbnb cancels all bookings in the UK for the next month

Short-stay rental giant Airbnb has cancelled all bookings in the UK for April and said properties would only be available to health care professionals and key workers.

It put the restrictions in place in response to government advice regarding the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown.

Airbnb said in a statement: “In response to UK Government advice we have liaised with guests to cancel all leisure stays during April 2020 to ensure we limit the spread of coronavirus, protect our community and observe travel restrictions.

“During April we are happy to host healthcare professionals, or key workers connected to the coronavirus response who still need accommodation away from home during this difficult time.

9.16am: Doctor has only held his baby girl once as he self-isolates from family

In a bid to protect their families, some NHS workers have taken steps to isolate themselves outside of work.

Sending children to stay with grandparents, aunts and uncles is one step some NHS staff have chosen to take.

Other NHS workers have started living in hotels, hostels and other temporary accommodation as they care for coroanvirus patients.

One Glasgow GP described how he is still sharing a roof, but is isolating himself from his wife, son and newborn baby in order to protect them.

Sandesh Gulhane’s baby girl is just one week old but he has only held her once – after she was born by caesarean section in a sterile operating theatre.

He told PA that he wanted to do “everything” he possibly can to keep his family safe.

“I am basically socially distancing myself from my family,” Dr Gulhane said.

“I say hello, but I don’t hug my six-day-old child, my six-year-old son, I don’t go near my wife.

“I sleep in a separate room, I use a separate bathroom, I eat separately to them.”

He urged people to stay at home, adding: “I am sacrificing my family life and people can’t sacrifice having a BBQ.”

8.53am: Hearts to fight SPFL plans to relegate them to Championship

Premiership bottom club Hearts last night released a statement on SPFL plans to finish the season as it stands.

That would mean Hearts being relegated to the Championship, with Celtic being declared champions.

Here’s what Jambos chair Ann Budge had to say.

Ann Budge says Hearts will not accept SPFL plans to finish the season as it stands.

8.50am: What does the coronavirus data tell us?

The National Records of Scotland yesterday released detailed data on coronavirus deaths for the first time.

STV News’ online politics reporter Dan Vevers has analysed the numbers.

8.37am: Prime Minister spends third night in intensive care

Boris Johnson remains in intensive care, where he was taken on Monday night after his coronavirus symptoms worsensed.

He is said to be “responding well” to treatment and is sitting up and talking.

8.30am: Coronavirus claims life of first NHS worker in Scotland

STV News last night revealed the death of district nurse Janice Graham from Covid-19.

She’s the first NHS worker in Scotland to lose their life to the coronavirus.

Friends and colleagues have paid glowing tributes.

District nurse Janice Graham is the first Scots NHS worker to die from coronavirus.

8.15am: Nicola Sturgeon to hold virtual FMQs.

Thursday is usually the day the First Minister fields questions at the Scottish Parliament from opposition leaders and MSPs.

Today, however, she’ll do it via video call as part of her daily briefing from St Andrew’s House.

8.00am: UK Government to consider lockdown extension

The UK Government’s emergency committee Cobra will meet today to discuss an extension to lockdown.

Politicians will review the restrictions based on scientific evidence about the spread of coronavirus.

Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said ending lockdown early would be a “monumental mistake”

7.35am: Housing market ‘may need government intervention’

Government intervention may be needed to help revive the housing market after the coronavirus epidemic, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The RICS March 2020 Resident Market Survey shows a downward trend for all areas of the housing market across Scotland post Covid-19.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “The feedback from the survey does imply that further government interventions both in the wider economy and more specifically in the housing market may be necessary.”

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to supporting the housing market and home-building industry and to achieving the earliest possible restart of housing construction, but only when it is safe to do so.”

7.23am: New poll warns that Scotland is facing a ‘cost of living crisis’

Scotland faces a “cost of living crisis” amid the coronavirus outbreak, a poll of more than 1,000 adults has found.

The tracking poll for Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) found about a third (34%) of Scots were concerned about their ability to pay for food and other essentials.

7am: Dedicated dozen: Carers move in to keep coronavirus out

A dozen care home workers are spending 32 nights on lockdown alongside elderly residents in a desperate bid to prevent coronavirus.

St David’s Care Home owner Ivan Cornford, 58, decided the best way to protect residents was by blocking access to the outside world.

It was only possible thanks to 11 of his employees volunteering to live in the home — and sacrificing contact with their own families for the entire time.

From end-of-life care to feeling ‘fantastic’ thanks to new drug

Hailey Mann is living with cystic fibrosis but her life has completely transformed after receiving Kaftrio.

STV News / STV News
Hailey Mann is living with cystic fibrosis but her life has completely transformed after receiving Kaftrio.

A woman with cystic fibrosis says she’s feeling ‘fantastic’ just a year on from preparing to receive end-of-life care.

Hailey Mann, 25, had potentially just months left to live when was given the new drug Kaftrio on compassionate grounds last summer, several weeks before it was approved for widespread use by the Scottish Government a year ago.

Fast-forward 12 months and Hailey’s outlook has improved considerably thanks to the revolutionary medicine.

“I don’t know what I expected because it was a last resort but if it’s a last resort, you try,” Hailey told STV News.

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“It’s definitely exceeded 100 times what I thought would happen. Just before this time last year I was bed-ridden downstairs because I couldn’t get myself upstairs. It was more that I was existing, rather than living.

“I think those two weeks, even before the (drug) was licensed were vital, absolutely vital, just from when I was told to make end-of-life plans…honestly I don’t know if I would be here without that two weeks.

“I mean that first tablet that I took, there were changes with my breathing within four hours. By day four, day five, I didn’t have any oxygen and life was just different, totally different.”

Kaftrio is a “triple combination therapy” and contains three drugs – ivacaftor, tezacaftor and elexacaftor – which improve lung function and helps those with cystic fibrosis to breathe more easily.

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The heriditary condition is caused by a genetic mutation that disrupts the body’s ability to regulate salt and water transport in the body, causing damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs.

The medication, which is now available on the NHS, has improved Hailey’s lung function and helped her put on weight.

Before Kaftrio, she was preparing for end-of-life care. Hailey’s condition was so urgent that she was eventually granted the drug on compassionate grounds two weeks before it was officially approved.

When Hailey, from Westhill, Aberdeenshire, was too weak to fight her cause, her mother Alison was always in her corner.

She told STV News she is thrilled at her daughter’s progress.

“It’s a bit of a blur last year if I’m honest – this time last year. We had been given weeks for Hailey and we were told that that drug, as much as she might get it, might not work for her because she was so poorly,” she said.

“But we still had to fight for it and thank god we did.”

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And Hailey is not alone as experts say Kaftrio has exceded all expectations.

Dr Keith Brownlee, director of medical affairs at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: “Truly and utterly remarkable to tell you the truth.

“I worked as a paediatrician for around 30 years caring for families and children with CF and throughout those 30 years we were dealing with the consequences of CF, but these drugs begin to treat the fundamental cause of CF, so they are truly revolutionary.”

Now with her whole life ahead of her, Hailey is looking forward to the little things which mean so much.

She said: “I want to see my little sister growing up, learning new things and doing new things, climb up the stairs and go down the slides with her – just things I never thought I would be able to do again is amazing, and she loves it too.”

Starmer: Future of Scotland is question for Scottish people

The Labour leader said the priority should be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

STV News

By Lewis McKenzie & Bernard Ponsonby

The future of Scotland is a question for the Scottish people, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

However, he insisted that for the lifetime of the current Scottish Parliament, the focus should be on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Sir Keir also dismissed suggestions that a UK Government could take the Scottish Government to court in order to strike down Holyrood legislation brought forward to hold an independence referendum.

“The priority has to be the recovery, that is uppermost in people’s minds.”

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader
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Speaking to STV News on the second day of his visit to Scotland, Sir Keir was asked whether he accepts that people in Scotland should not need Westminster’s permission to choose the government they want.

“It is a question for the people of Scotland. That isn’t a principle that any of us quarrel with,” he said.

“It has to be a matter for the people of Scotland, I don’t quarrel with that principle.

“What I am saying is that the priorities at the moment are the recovery from the pandemic.”

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Sir Keir continued: “The priority has to be the recovery, that is uppermost in people’s minds.

“And it was only a few weeks ago that every party going into that election said it should be the priority.”

Asked whether the UK Parliament should have the right to veto a second referendum, he said: “Well, that’s the current arrangement in Westminster.”

He added: “Stepping back from that, the question about the future of Scotland, it’s obviously a question for the Scottish people.”

The Labour leader said that the constitutional question had diverted focus from the concerns facing people in their everyday lives.

Pressed on when an appropriate time would be for a referendum to be held, he responded: “When we have come through the recovery and started to grapple with some of the issues in relation to climate change.”

He continued: “For the lifetime of this Parliament, we should be concentrating on the recovery.

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“But I am frustrated that there is a burning issue, which is what is the future of those communities and those jobs in the north east of Scotland and nobody is addressing that.

“The SNP promised thousands of jobs in the wind sector, they’ve delivered about one in 20.

“And the constitutional issue is a way of diverting focus from some of the very real concerns that we have here in Scotland that affect people in their everyday lives and affect probably the next generation of jobs in places like the north east of Scotland.”

The Labour leader insisted that politics should be kept out of the courts when asked about a potential for a legal challenge to any future referendum legislation.

“I have never thought that politics should involve going to court,” he said.

“I think politics should be kept out of the courts, and I say that as a former lawyer.

“Politics should be fought in the political arena and I’m sure that’s where in the end it will be fought.”


Ponsonby: Starmer has electoral Everest to climb for No 10

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer spoke to STV News during his visit to Scotland on Thursday.

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Labour: Party leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has an electoral Everest to climb and if he is ever to make it to Downing Street his Scottish party have to radically alter the electoral arithmetic at the next General Election.

Scottish Labour have a number of problems, not least the fact politics north of the border is still largely defined by preference on the constitutional future of the country.

They become squeezed between two polar opposites and appear unable to carve out a distinct identity of their own.

In an interview for STV I reminded Sir Keir that for much of the history of devolution Labour had been agents of change.

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The 1974-79 Labour government legislated twice for a Scottish Assembly and the party was the biggest player in the Scottish Constitutional Convention, which produced a scheme that the Labour government delivered in 1997.

I put it to Starmer that Labour had nothing of any real import to say on the constitution since they created the Scottish Parliament and were therefore simply defenders of the status quo.

He rejected the charge emphatically saying that the status quo was no longer an option and that a new constitutional relationship was needed.

Sir Keir is clearly working on a new plan for devolution, but to date what additional powers may be offered by a future Labour government are not clear. He did cite responsibility for employment law as an area ripe for decentralisation.

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Labour need a plan and soon. They desperately need an identity on this issue in order that Unionist voters don’t end up in the Conservative camp because they are seen as more robustly anti Nationalist.

The intriguing question is whether the ‘more powers’ strategy has appeal anymore. That ship might just have sailed with the Vow made on the eve of the 2014 Referendum.

Starmer asserted in the interview that he accepts voters in Scotland have the right to choose their own future.

Implicit in that stance is an acceptance of a second referendum on independence. His line was not now, not until the pandemic and its consequences pass.

When pushed on this he ruled out support for a referendum in this term of the Scottish Parliament.

Of course when the SNP Government introduce their bill to facilitate an independence poll, there will be a row with Westminster and a long debate about whether Holyrood actually has a legal basis to try and deliver a change to the future of the whole United Kingdom.

Starmer was interesting on this point, saying that he did not believe a political issue ending up in the courts would be the way to proceed. And yet, that is where an inter-governmental spat might head, since the SNP Government will insist on pursing their bill and ministers at Westminster will continue to insist such a bill is outwith the scope of the powers of the Parliament.

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The Labour leader would prefer that politics was dominated by the economics of recovery and the future of public services since this is stronger ground for his party.

Both he and Anas Sarwar know that is but a pipedream and that they need something which is a distinctly Labour response to the current constitutional debate. And they need it to help win back voters who have deserted the party.

The challenges for Sir Keir Starmer are not just formidable they are frightening when you see how radically the electoral calculus needs to shift if he is to be propelled from leader of the opposition to Prime Minister.


No quarantine for double vaccinated arrivals from France

India, Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE removed from travel red list but travellers from Mexico now have to hotel quarantine.

Hollie Adams / Stringer via Getty Images
Travellers returning from France no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

India and three Middle Eastern countries have been removed from Scotland’s coronavirus travel red list – and arrivals from France will no longer need to self-isolate if fully vaccinated, the Scottish Government has said.

But travellers from Mexico and Georgia will now have to quarantine in a hotel.

It comes as part of a host of changes to the traffic light system for international travel.

The Scottish Government said the new lists will come into force at 4am on Sunday.

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Travellers from Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will join those from India in not having to isolate in a hotel on entry to the country.

Mexico, Georgia and the French overseas departments of La Reunion and Mayotte will be put in the red tier.

Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Latvia, Romania and Norway are among seven countries being added to the quarantine-free green list.

Arrivals from France will no longer need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated.

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It will be aligned with all other amber nations, from which arrivals only need to quarantine at home if they are not fully vaccinated.

While Spain remains on the amber list, travellers are advised to be cautious due to a new variant originating in South America.

The Scottish Government said passengers should get a PCR test prior to departure from Spain rather than other available tests such as lateral flow.

Quarantine hotel costs will also change “in light of a decision taken by the UK Government, which manages contractual arrangements on behalf of the four nations”, the Scottish Government said.

The price of a stay in managed isolation is to increase from £1750 to £2285.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson said: “These latest changes make it clear that international travel remains challenging.

“Recent relaxations to travel restrictions for fully vaccinated people were due to the huge success of the Scottish Government’s vaccination programme.

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“It is vitally important we protect that progress through continued vigilance on importation, and we continue to urge caution given the risks caused by variants of concern.”

Teens accused of ‘leaving unconscious boy on live railway track’

It is claimed the boy was struck on the head with a piece of concrete as well as being repeatedly punched and kicked

© Google Maps 2020
Court: Five teenagers are to stand trial.

Five teenagers are to stand trial accused of trying to kill a boy and leaving him unconscious on a railway track.

Jordan Duncan, 18, Stephen Fairservice, 18, Adam Tennant, 18, Josh Todd, 18, and a 17-year-old boy – who cannot be named for legal reasons – faced the allegation at the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday.

The indictment lists two locations for the May 4, 2018 incident including Lanark train station in South Lanarkshire.

It is claimed the boy was struck on the head with a piece of concrete as well as being repeatedly punched and kicked.

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He is said to have ended up on the ground unconscious.

Prosecutors claim the boy was then dragged onto a “live railway line”.

The attempted murder charge states this was to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life.

Lawyers for the five pled not guilty on their behalf at the hearing.

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A trial was fixed for March next year.


Yellow weather warnings as thunderstorms set to strike

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings for thunderstorms and rain.

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Thunderstorms are expected to strike across Scotland on Friday and Saturday.

The Met Office has issued yellow weather alerts, with Scots urged to prepare for travel disruption and flooding.

Heavy rain is expected to drench the north-east between 12am and 2pm on Thursday.

The likes of Montrose, Stonehaven, Aberdeen, Inverurie and Keith are likely to see most of the downpour.

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Thunderstorms are expected to start at around 4am on Thursday and will last through the day. The warning stretches from the Scottish Borders right up to the Highlands.

On Saturday, the whole country has been put on high alert for the thundery showers. The yellow warning starts at 4am and ends at midnight.

Experts have warned of potential damage to buildings as a result of floodwater, lightning strikes, hail and strong winds.

Spray and sudden flooding could also lead to difficult driving conditions and road closures.

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The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has also issued 12 flood alerts.

Friday weather alerts

Met Office via Website
Friday: Weather warnings for thunderstorms and rain.
  • Rain warning: 12am to 2pm
  • Thunderstorm warning: 4am to 11.59pm

Saturday weather alert

Met Office via Website
Saturday: Weather warning for thunderstorms.
  • Thunderstorm warning: 4am to 11.59pm.

STV Weather presenter Philip Petrie said: “So far this week things have stayed fairly settled, with even some dry and bright conditions on offer. Even today started relatively dry with sunny spells in the east through the morning.

“Unfortunately, things are turning more unsettled from the west today as we have low pressure taking control of the weather.

“This low pressure is not going anywhere fast and will gradually move eastwards over the weekend giving us cloud, heavy rain, scattered showers – thundery at times, and windier conditions.

“This is why the Met Office has issued a series of yellow weather warnings for certain parts of the country over the next couple of days.

“Tomorrow looks set to be wet and miserable for much of the country – lots of rain which will be slow moving but turning showery through the afternoon.

“Some of those showers will be heavy and possibly thundery so we have the thunderstorm warning covering parts of Angus, Fife, Falkirk, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, Aberdeenshire and the Highlands.

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“The showers could also band together to create longer spells of rain, particularly around the north east, so we have a rain weather warning in force through tomorrow morning and into the early afternoon covering Angus, Aberdeen and Moray – here we could see between 40-60mm on higher ground.”


Coronavirus: 11 deaths and 1381 new cases recorded

A total of 381 people were in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19.

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Covid-19: The fight to stem the spread of the deadly virus goes on.

A further 11 deaths and 1381 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Scotland overnight, according to official figures.

The daily test positivity rate is 4.9%, up from the 4.7% reported on Wednesday.

Of the new cases reported on Thursday, 290 are in Lothian, 289 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 220 are in Lanarkshire, and 118 are in Grampian as well as Fife.

The rest of the cases are spread out across eight other health board areas.

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A total of 381 people were in hospital on Wednesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, two fewer than the day before. Out of those, 55 patients are in intensive care.

The lab-confirmed death toll of those who tested positive within the previous 28 days currently stands at 7976, however figures including suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is now at least 10,370.

It was also confirmed that 4,018,503 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 2177 from the day before.

A total of 3,268,887 people have received their second dose, a rise of 19,265.


Hairdressers, hotels and retailers ‘broke minimum wage laws’

Companies have been 'named and shamed' by the UK Government for underpaying workers.

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List: Scots businesses 'named and shamed' for breaking minimum wage laws.

Hairdressers, hotels, retailers and an amusement park are among the Scottish businesses “named and shamed” by the UK Government for breaking the minimum wage law.

The breaches by the 22 companies took place between 2013 and 2018.

A total of £31,000 was found to be owed to 209 workers after investigations by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

The businesses have been made to pay back what they owe, and were fined an additional £46,000.

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Among the companies named are J Ren Ltd, trading as Mooboo, a bubble tea shop in Glasgow’s St Enoch Shopping Centre.

It owed £3114 to 24 workers between 2014 and 2017.

John Codona’s Pleasure Fairs Limited, which runs Codona’s Amusement Park in Aberdeen, owed more than £1318 to 90 workers between March and November 2017.

Ian Littlewood, a member of the management team at the amusement park, said the company “do pay the minimum wage – 100%”.

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He added: “There was an error where we deducted the cost of a uniform from staff which was pointed out by HMRC and all monies were paid back for that but we have never not paid the full minimum wage.”

Harbour Havens Limited, which trades as Kildonan Hotel on the Isle of Arran, was named for racking up £2478 in arrears to four workers between 2014 and 2017.

Anne Acuna, one of the company directors, said they have always paid above minimum wage and said she was “disheartened” to be named on the Government’s list.

She said the issue stemmed from paying room and board for seasonal workers as the hotel is on an island.

“They have always been paid more than minimum wage but sometimes it looks like it’s under minimum wage when you take off room and board,” she said.

“They had contracts when they came in, they knew what the room and board was, they were happy with that.

“We’ve been doing that for years when all of a sudden this comes up and we immediately stopped paying them in that fashion.

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“We were caught in a situation that had no bad intention whatsoever.”

Also named were Rainbow Rooms International hairdressers in Glasgow, South Ayrshire and East Dunbartonshire, owned by Brittain & McMail Limited, Riccardo Corvi, Janine McMahon, and Fleeson & Robb Limited.

The Department for Business said minimum wage breaches can occur when workers being paid on or just above the minimum wage have deductions from their pay for uniform or accommodation.

Other breaches can involve paying the incorrect apprenticeship rate or failing to pay workers for all the time they had worked, such as overtime.

Business minister Paul Scully said: “Scottish employers can’t take their eye off the ball when it comes to upholding workers’ rights.

“There is never an excuse to short-change workers and paying the minimum wage isn’t optional.

“It’s up to all employers in Scotland, including those on this list, to check government guidance and pay workers properly.”

Chairman of the Low Pay Commission Bryan Sanderson said: “These are very difficult times for all workers, particularly those on low pay who are often undertaking critical tasks in a variety of key sectors including care.

“The minimum wage provides a crucial level of support and compliance is essential for the benefit of both the recipients and our society as a whole.”

Tributes paid to 11-year-old boy who drowned in river

Dean Irvine was pulled from the River Avon in South Lanarkshire after getting into difficulty on July 24.

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Tributes: Dean Irvine died after getting into difficulty in the River Avon.

Tributes have been paid to an 11-year-old boy who died after getting into difficulty in water last month.

Emergency services were called to the Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, on Saturday, July 24.

Dean Irvine was recovered from the Avon Water, also known as the River Avon, which runs through the park and was pronounced dead at the scene.

On Thursday, around 100 local residents, friends and family gathered to pay their respects in Fleming Way, near the 11-year-old’s family home in the Hillhouse area of Hamilton.

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Many wore green, including Celtic shirts, with flares of the same colour set off as the hearse moved off.

Relatives and friends had the word “Deano” printed on the back of their football tops along with the number 11.

The crowds applauded and set off fireworks as the hearse carrying the coffin left the area with a convoy of cars following towards Celtic Park.

Some cars in the convoy played the club anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone, with the words also on a card beside the coffin and flowers reading Deano, Son, Brother beside a bouquet made into a football.

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Club staff gathered at the stadium to applaud the cortege, which then continued to a funeral home in Hamilton.

The 11-year-old was one of seven people to die after getting into difficulty in Scotland’s waters in a single week.

Edina Olahova, 29, Rana Haris Ali, nine, and Muhammad Asim Riaz, 39, died after getting into difficulty in Loch Lomond, near Pulpit Rock, on Saturday, July 24.

A 13-year-old boy lost his life in water at Hazelbank in Lanark the same day, while a 16-year-old boy died at Balloch at the south end of Loch Lomond the previous day.


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