Primary school pupils to be told ‘boys can have periods too’ in new sex education guidance

PRIMARY school pupils will now be told that boys can have periods too in new sex education guidance.

The advice to teachers was approved by Brighton Council in a bid to tackle stigma surrounding menstruation.

Getty – Contributor

The report states: “Trans boys and men and non-binary people may have periods”, adding “menstruation must be inclusive of ‘all genders’.”

It also orders that “bins for used period products are provided in all toilets” for children and that trans pupils and students should be provided with additional support from a school nurse if needed.

The council said it was also “important for all genders  to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together”.

Getty – Contributor

The guidelines on tackling period poverty come just a few months after Brighton & Hove City Council issued a Trans Inclusion Schools Toolkit to encourage sensitivity around student gender identity.

In the toolkit, teachers are told to be responsive to the needs of all non-binary and trans children and are reminded that intentionally not using a person’s preferred name or pronoun can constitute harassment.

It also recommends a non-gendered uniform so that children are supportive of all students, regardless of gender.

In 2016, the £12,000 a year public school Brighton College was thought to to be the firs to change its uniform policy so that transgender pupils could wear what they like.

But Tory MP David Davies told the Mail On Sunday it was “insanity” for teachers to be explaining the concept of transgender boys having periods to eight-year-olds.

He said: “Learning about periods is already a difficult subject for children that age, so to throw in the idea girls who believe they are boys also have periods will leave them completely confused.”








A council spokesman told the Sun Online: “We believe that it’s important for all genders to be able to learn and talk about menstruation together. We recommend including boys in our lessons on periods and opportunities for girls to discuss issues in more detail if needed.

They added: “We are working to reduce period poverty. By encouraging effective education on menstruation and puberty we hope to reduce stigma and ensure no child or young person feels shame in asking for period products inside or outside of school if they need them.

“Our approach recognises the fact that some people who have periods are trans or non-binary.”

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361 Golden Retrievers Met Up In Scotland And Had The Best Time Ever

361 Golden Retrievers Met Up In Scotland And Had The Best Time Ever Golden Agolden_chewbacca/Instagram

There are few creatures on earth as pure and comforting than a golden retriever.

From their silky ears to their kind smiles, these dogs take their role as ‘good boys’ extremely seriously.

And so I genuinely cannot imagine the joy I would feel if surrounded by 361 of these gorgeous, golden angels.

Would I pass out with happiness? Would I stroke their fur until my palms wore away? Perhaps it’s best not to find out…

😂😂😂 waiting for their grandma to drop some food – one of my fave pics from yesterday 😂 #foodorientated #goldensofinstagram #mooch #beggingfortreats #feedmegrandma

A post shared by CHEWY (@golden_chewbacca) on

Worlds record broken by myself and my best friend @golden_chewbacca ! 361 goldens celebrating 150 years since the very first litter!!

A post shared by BUDDY (@buddy.scotland.golden) on

However, this is the dreamy scenario experienced by a big bunch of dog lovers, who assembled at Guisachan House, Tomich, Inverness-shire, to celebrate all things golden.

A total of 361 golden retrievers frolicked and played in the grounds of the stately home, looking delighted to be be among so many of their distinguished friends.

The marvellous-in-every-way event was held to commemorate the 150th anniversary of golden retrievers receiving recognition as a breed, with Members of the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland (GRCS) in attendance.

According to the Friends of Guisachan website:

In 1868, Nous, a Wavy-coated Retriever, and Belle, a Tweed Water Spaniel were bred together by Dudley Coutts Marjoribanks, later known as Lord Tweedmouth.

From that breeding he kept two yellow females, Primrose and Cowslip and gave one male, Crocus, to his son, Edward Marjoribanks.

For many decades it was thought that there was a fourth puppy, Ada, but that was subsequently determined to be erroneous.

Ada was from a second mating of Nous and Belle and was given to Lord Tweedmouth’s nephew, the 5th Lord Ilchester, beginning the famous Ilchester line of retrievers. Thus it was the offspring of Nous and Belle that became the foundation of the breed subsequently known as, and now universally loved as, the Golden Retriever.

The goldens getting counted doing “the duke of York” a new world record of 361 goldens counted! Can you spot chewy and @buddy.scotland.golden 🐶🐶 #goldenretriever #guisachanhouse #guisachangathering2018

A post shared by CHEWY (@golden_chewbacca) on

UNILAD spoke with Ashleigh Craigmile, proud owner of the beautiful Chewbacca.

Ashleigh explained:

The meet up was for the 150th anniversary of the first litter born of goldens!

They were first bred in Scotland by crossing a wavy haired retriever with a golden spaniel by Lord Tweedmouth from Guisachan estate!

She added:

It was such a wonderful day with people travelling from all over the world! New Zealand, America etc!

Ashleigh and Chewy were joined by their best pupper pal, Buddy, who made sure to Instagram some truly paw-fect clips of the day.

Each dog looked like the regal Lord or Lady of the kennel they truly are, appearing quite content as they returned to their ancestral seat.

Those who attended the event appeared to have enjoyed a truly magical experience, with the green Scottish fields gleaming gold with an ocean of the iconic dogs.

One excited person tweeted:

New world record of number of golden retrievers in the same place at once!! 361!!! We were there!!!! Woohoo.

And The One Show have been filming all day at The Guisachan Golden Gathering …. an exciting day with Richard Cleaver — feeling excited.

Another described the scene as being ‘what heaven looks like’.

We have friends attending the Guisachan Gathering!!!!! Wish we were there too! ❤️🥳🎉❤️

— Chuck Billy & Asa (@MaineGolden) July 18, 2018

New world record of number of golden retrievers in the same place at once!! 361!!! We were there!!!! Woohoo.
And The One Show have been filming all day at The Guisachan Golden Gathering …. an exciting day with Richard Cleaver — feeling excited

— Lesley Cleaver (@lesleycleaver) July 19, 2018

Is it just me or would anyone else enjoy this sort of weekend way more than a festival?

You can follow the adventures of Chewbacca the golden retriever on his woof-ly Instagram.

If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

This content was originally published here.

Update on Scotland’s Future

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By Jason Michael

YESTERDAY, ADDRESSING HOLYROOD, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out her thoughts on the way forward for Scotland. It fell considerably short of the expectations of many in the independence movement. This was not “the announcement” we were led to believe she would make when she said a number of months ago that she would shortly make an announcement on another independence referendum. Social media has doled out a few slaps in recent weeks to pro-independence writers, myself included, for daring to question “Nicola,” but, having come to expect little from the current leadership of the Scottish National Party, what we have discovered is that we have been given more than we expected. Sturgeon’s update to the Scottish parliament was not quite the “nothing burger with a side of fries” per David Hooks’ assessment. Yesterday, Sturgeon gave us something rather than nothing. Albeit not what we wanted; it was something.

Not everyone is cock-a-hoop with independence being hitched to the fortunes of England qua the politics of Brexit. Linking these, as the Scottish government does, has two effects; once more it makes independence a reaction to events abroad rather than being an end in itself and it subjects our democracy again a reliance on a set a conditionalities over which England and not Scotland has the final say. Many of us want independence to be about Scotland and only about Scotland. We want this decision to be made as a result of our own initiative and at a time of our choosing. In essence, this want for a truly Scottish independence without reference to England and the politics of Westminster is a type of romanticism, but, and while I consider myself a romantic, in reality, it simply will not work. The difference here is that between idealism and Realpolitik; whether we like it or not Scotland is constitutionally bound to Westminster – and therefore to England and England’s Brexit, and so independence cannot be about Scotland alone.

So a nothing burger with a side of fries then.
“we’ll have a bill”
“we’ll talk to opposition parties to find points……

David Hooks (@PoliticsScot) April 24, 2019

Our independence concerns Westminster because it is about more than Scotland. It is about the break-up of the United Kingdom, the realm of Westminster. The British government will always oppose Scottish independence because it challenges its power and control over our valuable resources. So, any politics of independence in Scotland must, therefore, be engaged with these political realities, and that means engaging with Westminster, England, and the politics of Brexit. England’s decision to leave the European Union has fundamentally altered the status quo. As the First Minister rightly said, it has exposed “a deep democratic deficit.” Our interests – save when they are in agreement with the majority south of the border – are not represented at Westminster, devolution, as it is, has been shown to be unfit for purpose, and Westminster can, as it has done, grab powers back from us – and all of this has been fully demonstrated by Brexit.

Independence, as a historical event, is not a Platonic ideal. It is not a supertemporal anamnesis – a unique and unchanging eventum, always and everywhere the same thing. Our independence, when it comes, will happen amid real and concrete social, economic, and political circumstances, and it will be won as a result of correctly navigating those realities. Right now, those realities are dominated by the politics of Brexit in the context of our national domination by England at Westminster. Thus, if we are to win independence in the next few years, we must win it by engaging with the real obstacles; Westminster, England, and the politics of Brexit.

There is a certain genius, then, in connecting the cause of Scottish independence to Brexit – as it is determining the present conditions of the political field of play and changing the status quo in such a way that people who voted to preserve the union in 2014 can find their needs better served now by voting for independence. This is something the First Minister gave us yesterday; she gave us more clarity on at least how her party is thinking. Strategically, this is not at all bad. At the very least it is realistic and sets out the terrain on which the rules of engagement – her proposed legislation on future referenda in Scotland – will be put to use.

Sturgeon tells Holyrood chamber that public should be offered a choice on independence within lifetime of this parl……

Libby Brooks (@libby_brooks) April 24, 2019

Where she is in danger of making a serious tactical blunder, in my own opinion, is when she says: “the immediate opportunity we now have is to help stop Brexit for the whole UK.” Firstly, this appears to contradict the initial premise of her argument for independence; that Scotland suffers a serious democratic deficit at Westminster, resulting in us being ignored and having policy imposed on us against our will. Regardless of Theresa May’s ability to hold on to her job, Westminster – with the Conservatives and Labour in support – is overwhelmingly pro-Brexit. How can Scotland, which cannot protect its own interests in the Commons, protect the whole of the United Kingdom? How can Scotland save England from itself? At best, the Scottish government’s efforts to stop a Brexit England so clearly wants is a waste of time and resources. At worst, it will damage our cause.

Second to this, working to stop Brexit by having the question of EU membership returned to the electorate or by having Article 50 revoked, when Brexit is the very thing that is working most in favour of Scottish independence, looks to me to be counterproductive in the extreme. The art of diplomacy is allowing your adversaries to have your own way. If England wants this Brexit and Brexit is the very thing doing the heavy lifting for independence here in Scotland, then let England have its Brexit!

We were given two more things which are worthy of mention; a deadline to which we can hold the SNP and a possible alternative route to independence through cross-party coöperation. At long last – at long last – our First Minister has mentioned “the mandate.” It’s not only a mandate. It’s a triple-lock mandate, a cast iron mandate – and one with an expiring shelf life. Sturgeon did affirm this mandate, and although I will quibble on the meaning of its wording, she has acknowledged that her government was elected on that mandate and so the choice between an unwanted Brexit and independence will be put to the people – without a Section 30 order if necessary – before the end of the lifetime of this parliament. This wasn’t the firm date we had hoped for, but it does set a deadline to which we can hold her. This was an important statement. It was a gift. We can run with this.

Inviting the opposition parties at Holyrood to come forward with ideas to mitigate the problems of being part of th……

Dick Winchester (@DickWinchester) April 24, 2019

Given that Westminster is not in Scotland’s bests interests and that devolution, as it is, is not fit for purpose – things even Murdo Fraser has conceded, Nicola Sturgeon has proposed an open process of dialogue with the British unionist parties seeking to gain something short of independence but better than what we have. In a world running short on statesmen, this was a splendid – even Bismarckian – act of statesmanship, and kudos to her for it. Some may see this as a sell-out, but I will argue the case that it is not. This is a smart move. A Yes vote in another independence referendum will never be guaranteed. There are no sure bets in real politics. Recognising this, and after setting out her intention to hold another referendum – albeit under the right conditions, the First Minister has written into this game plan a Plan B. If it happens that we fail to win independence, she has opened the door to the possibility of gaining Home Rule with unionist support, a gradualist approach that worked for Ireland in 1922 with the formation of An Saorstát Éireann (the Irish Free State).

Over the past number of months patience in the wider independence movement has been wearing thin with the SNP and with Nicola Sturgeon in particular. What was offered yesterday was definitely not what we were sorta-kinda led to believe was coming. This was not “the announcement.” Neither was it the unveiling of “the plan” or the firing of the “starting pistol.” It was none of that, and no doubt in some quarters the failure to deliver on these will lead to further frustration and anger, but – and this is important – what she did deliver was not entirely useless. Admittedly, we may be cynical and imagine this something-but-nothing was a ploy to free up space for clapping at conference, but it wasn’t a nothing burger. This was something, and this something rather than nothing bristles with possibility. We have to give her that much. We can make something of this.

Nicola Sturgeon on Brexit and another Scottish independence referendum

This content was originally published here.


Lack of music education ‘is now really hitting poorer children’ in Scotland – The Scotsman

A lack of music education in schools is widening the knowledge gap between advantaged and disadvantaged students, an expert has said.
The warning from Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director at the Royal Albert Hall, comes amid a growing anger in Scotland over soaring charges for music tuition and cuts to music teachers.
Youngsters from poorer backgrounds do not have the same opportunities to get involved in music as their better-off peers, she said.
“What is happening is this divide being created between people with the knowledge, and who can afford it, being able to give their children access to music,” she said.
“But for people who don’t have the know-how or can’t afford to pay for private lessons, and the schools aren’t delivering that really important music education, then what hope have they actually got? The opportunities just aren’t there for them at all.”
Asked whether this was widening the gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged, she said “absolutely” and that diversity is a difficult topic.
Ms Noble added: “People who come from a more challenged background are not going to have the opportunities that the people who are more wealthy and have the opportunities do.”
In Scotland, increases in costs of music tuition have been contentious. In 2018, several councils either introduced or increased fees for instrumental lessons – now topping £500 in some cases. Some have even started charging for the hire of local authority instruments.
The number of music teachers in schools across Scotland has also fallen steadily from 108 at the start of the decade to 62 last year.
Ms Noble said schools need to “step up” to make sure everyone has access to music, but that organisations like the Royal Albert Hall also had a role to play. She said the issues surrounding arts education need to be addressed if gender parity in the industry is to be achieved.
New data released by the Royal Albert Hall indicates the top ten classical composers most recognised by British people are male.
Mozart and Beethoven (both recognised by 70 per cent) and Bach (60 per cent), topped the list in a survey of 1,000 adults.
In comparison, women composers had significantly lower recognition, with Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann and Hildegard von Bingen known to just 30, 17 and 7 per cent respectively.
Ms Noble said: “History has left us a legacy of great classical composers – Mozart, Bach and Schubert to name a few.
“But we must make sure that young people are exposed to not just these white, male titans, but women, and that those from minority backgrounds are recognised too.”

This content was originally published here.

10 Must See Coastal Areas and Beaches in Scotland – Scotland Info Guide

Silver Sands of Morar

Scotland is a country with many amazing attractions and sights and it has a culture that is full of Anglo-Saxon history and tradition. Recognized as a place that can cater to the interests and needs of any type of traveler, a trip to Scotland is a must for anyone and every visitor can find something interesting and exciting to do in Scotland. If you search the internet for Things to do in Scotland you’ll find out that it’s full of articles titled “Top 10 Places in Scotland” and “Best places to Visit in Scotland” and most of them share the same places to go to and things to do. Not a bad thing of course but we like to show you the other beautiful parts of Scotland too!

An alternative to all the “Must Do Scotland” and “Top 10 Scotland” articles is to take you to Ten of the most beautiful coastal areas in Scotland, not just the beaches, but stretches of coastline with quaint little towns, yes lovely beaches too and a beautiful hinterland where you can get a real sense of Scotland. With well over 6,100 miles of mainland Scottish coastline there is plenty to see, enjoy, be amazed about and discover. These are typically the areas where you don’t usually see a lot of folk, where you can make lovely walks, admire stunning scenery, visit pretty wee towns, make stunning car tours and enjoy the peace and quiet you sometimes miss out on when you do visit those “Top 10 Places in Scotland”.

The Silver Sands of Morar – Arisaig to Mallaig

In the right weather some beaches in the west of Scotland resemble the Mediterranean with white sandy beaches, clear blue and turquoise seas and lush vegetation. This is never more so the case close the village of Morar, where the river Morar flows into the sea. The white sandy beach is called the Silver Sands of Morar. The stretch of coastline from Arisaig to Mallaig, along the “Road to the Isles“, is one of the most beautiful in Scotland. It’s for a good reason that the famous Scottish movie Local Hero was shot on a beach a mile from the Silver Sands of Morar. The view at sunset towards the Cuillin on Skye and the Small Isles is one of the finest on the west coast. Read more here about Arisaig, Morar and Mallaig

Lochinver to Stoer

Lochinver is the largest fishing town in the North-West Highlands, roughly an hours drive north from Ullapool, the Pearl of the North. To the North-West of Lochinver is a South-West facing stretch of land which is home to some amazing beaches and coastal scenery. Achmelvich Beach and Stoer Bay are just two pearls in this necklace of coves, cliffs and sandy inlets. This is an area waiting to be discovered and once you reach the Lighthouse of Stoer you are rewarded with magnificent sea views and a fascinating walk to the Old Man of Stoer, a 60 metres tall sandtone pillar in the ocean. Read more about this stunning area here

The Lothian Coast from Dunbar to Portobello

A fascinating coastline stretches from Dunbar on the East Coast almost all the way to the heart of Edinburgh. There are some lovely villages and sea-side towns in this part of Scotland. Dunbar, which is also known for being the birth place of John Muir, has a nice harbour that includes remains of Dunbar Castle and since 1780 home to the well known Belhaven Brewery. Further to the North-West is Tantallon Castle with views towards Bass Rock, home to a large colony of Gannets. Further along the coast is the lovely seaside town of North Berwick with some beautiful beaches, a marina and pretty town centre. Between North Berwick and Port Seton are a few nice beaches and four Golf Courses in the Dunes, no wonder this area is also referred to as Scotland’s Golf Coast. Further along the coast is Musselburgh, one of Scotland’s oldest towns and the largest town in Lothian. This magnificent stretch of coastline ends in Portobello, a charming seaside suburb of Edinburgh with a very nice beach. More info is available in our East Lothian Guide

Oban – Gateway to the Hebridean Islands

When friends ask me which part of Scotland they MUST see, I always advise them to visit the West Coast and a few of the islands. Perhaps I’m biased because I live on an island off the West Coast but I’m not the only one with this opinion. Many others consider the West of Scotland one of the most beautiful areas in Europe. The seas are clear and marine wildlife is abundant and the many islands are all unique in their own right. The seaside town of Oban is the gateway and from here one can reach almost all the island in the Inner and Outer Hebrides. Besides being a gateway to the Hebridean islands, Oban is also a very pleasant town to visit and a few nights in this town are highly recommended. We have a page about Oban and a page with further info about the Islands of Scotland

Moray and Banffshire Coast

White-washed cottages, splashed with colour; narrow lanes running between rows of weathered houses; harbours that gather in restless boats; a frame of long, swaying grass against a sandy beach; old dinghy boats planted with flowers; piles of stones, shells and blue-netted lobster pots adorning gardens and doorsteps. If you want to lose yourself in a maze of lanes, contemplate life from the top of a sea-facing dune or collect spectacular sunsets, head for the Moray and Banffshire Coast. Join our Guest Writer Emma Gibb on her trip along the Moray and Banffshire Coast

The Far North and East

With a low level coast on the Eastern side and high rugged cliffs and stacks on the Northern side, the Caithness Coastline between Wick, John o’Groats and Thurso is one of the most scenic in the North of Scotland. Thurso and Wick are the core settlements, and are centred on harbours and make their hard earned living on a combination of sea fishing and leisure and tourism. In between is the Northern Highland village of John o’Groats which provides visitors with a dramatic, natural scenery and captivating wildlife. Dunnet Head, the mostly northerly point of mainland Britain, is only 11 miles away while Duncansby Head Lighthouse and the Stacks of Duncansby are a little over one mile from John o’Groats. All there is to see and do can be found in our Guide of John o’Groats, Wick and Thurso

Durness, Cape Wrath and Sandwood Bay

Spectacular coastal scenery is yours when you take the time to visit this coastal area. Cape Wrath is the most Northwesterly tip of mainland Scotland and it’s very remote and difficult to visit. It requires a wee passenger ferry to cross the Kyle of Durness and an 11 mile minibus trip to reach the lighthouse. Sandwood Bay, 9 miles to the south, is even harder to reach. From Blairmore, where you need to park, it’s a four mile walk to reach this beautiful sandy beach. There is no other means of transportation. Chances that you find yourself alone there are quite good! Durness is the main village in this part of Scotland with a population of around 400 and it offers stunning views towards the cliffs on the north coast. More info on our Durness and Cape Wrath page

Crail & Pittenweem – East Neuk of Fife

Scotland has some amazing picturesque seaside fishing villages and the most beautiful ones can be found where you least expect them, in the County of Fife, south of the Home of Golf, St Andrews. This area, or corner, of Scotland is called East Neuk which stands for East Nook or Corner. Crail goes back a long way, as far back as the Pictish period, that’s the early middle ages. Marketgate, in the medieval heart of the village, was once the largest market place in Europe. It’s a sheer pleasure to wander through the streets and enjoy the harbour views. Nearby Pittenweem is further south and just as lovely as Crail. It’s only one and a half hour drive from Edinburgh away and very much worth visiting! More info here

East of Inverness to Nairn

This might be a somewhat unexpected entry in between the other listings. However, this is a surprisingly interesting stretch of Moray Firth coastline which starts at Fort George and to the East of the lovely seaside town of Nairn. Opposite Chanonry Point, on the Black Isle, is one of the most beautiful forts in Europe, Fort George. It is the mightiest artillery fortification in Britain, if not Europe, and is highly recommended for a visit. Afterwards a wee trip to Nairn is a must! Nairn is an ancient fishing port and market town and has a very pleasant beach and seafront, an interesting history, lovely wee cottages in Fishertown and an attractive town centre. More info here

Red Point Beach to Rubha Reidh Lighthouse

Rubha Reidh Lighthouse

Wester Ross is one of the most stunningly and wild areas of Scotland and the coastline is just amazing. Red Point Beach can be found on the North shore of Loch Torridon, opposite the Applecross Peninsula. This is an amazing Reddish/Pink sandy beach backed by rather high dunes. Fantastic for a family day out. Following the coastline to the lovely village of Gairloch you pass wee settlements like South Erradale, Port Henderson and a few others, all of them offering beautiful views over the ever changing coastline. Around Gairloch are quite a few beautiful beaches and further North-West is “Big Sand” which also has a large campsite. Further north is a single track road which ends at the Rubha Reidh lighthouse. Halfway folk are encouraged to leave the car but you don’t have to. The drive up there is just stunning, not for the faint hearted though, and the views on a clear day towards the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides are breathtaking. We have extensive coverage of both Wester Ross and the aforementioned spectacular stretch of coastline

photo of nairn is copyright by Mick Garratt

This content was originally published here.


Is there less poverty in Scotland: Will BBC Scotland INFORM us?

From Reporting Scotland yesterday:

‘Poverty and income inequality continues (sic) to rise according to the latest figures from the Scottish Government.

‘You deal with it!’

As always, we got the bare facts and a quick reference to the Scottish Government blaming UK Government austerity and the latter saying the Scottish Government could compensate for it. The remarkable opportunity there to probe the morality of the UK Government apparently admitting responsibility for the poverty increase and then arrogantly telling Scotland to deal with it, was not taken.

‘SG Actions to deal with it’

The obvious link, also, to some of the actions taken by the SNP to compensate was not taken. Click on these for a reminder of some:

How steep is the increase?

We often see graphs on Reporting Scotland when the evidence is useful. Why didn’t we see these revealing graphs?

No one wants to see any increase in poverty at all, but this information is important. Is the relatively small increase in relative poverty for children and the flattening-out, at least in part, a consequence of the Scottish Government’s actions. Should BBC Scotland inform us of the possibility?

Comparison with UK and long-term trends

Journalists love to talk of context and journalism educators make much of it, so how does child poverty, in Scotland, for example, compare with the UK? See these:

Child poverty and related low-income in Scotland is less common than across the UK and though it has been in decline long-term, it has begun to increase again.

How much is poverty expected to increase in Scotland comparative to the UK?

Once more, any increase is to be abhorred and decreases will be our aim after independence but it’s informative to see that only the affluent South-East is expected to have as low or lower, for children, increases than in Scotland. Should BBC Scotland at least consider the effects of the Scottish Government’s moderation of austerity and inform us?

After housing Scotland has the lowest poverty levels in the UK

Could this be anything to do with Scottish Government action on, for example, building far more social housing and the unique ban on ‘no-fault’ eviction?

We should be told.

This content was originally published here.


Looking back on knife crime in Scotland – Talking-up Scotland

No knives, better lives

I’m wary of seeming smug when there is so much suffering in other places but it’s still worth reminding everyone of what has been achieved or which has happened for unknown reasons, so here are the most recent TuS reports on knife crime:

The Theresa Effect in the Independent today: ‘Knife crime has risen to the highest level since 2010 in England and Wales, new figures have revealed as police say stabbing investigations are being made harder by social media. In the year…

(c) SWNS According to the Scotsman today: ‘Scottish police officer numbers at lowest level in nine years. In the first three months of year, Police Scotland had the equivalent of 17,170 full time officers, according to Scottish Government statistics. The…

‘Treating knife crime as a health issue has led to a dramatic drop in stabbings: of the 35 deaths of young people in Britain this year, none were in Scotland.’ As violent crime spirals out of control in London…

(c) It’s been more than 80 years since ‘No Mean City’ was set in Glasgow and comedians, including our own, continue to base their humour on an image of a violent, drunken people but the last ten years have…

Michelle Ballantyne, Scottish Conservative early years spokeswoman (c) The Southern Reporter Yesterday, the Scotsman headlined with: ‘Scots teachers pressured to cover up knife incidents’ and followed up with: ‘A Johnston Press knife crime investigation revealed ten pupils across Scotland are…

(c) Police Scotland According to the Guardian yesterday, in England and Wales, knife crime has increased by 21% to September 2017. This a dramatic figure large enough to suggest an emerging and extremely worrying trend. In Scotland, knife crime…

Watching Sky News this morning, making sure I don’t even catch a glimpse of Jackie Bird, I saw a short piece on how London police have been learning from Glasgow police on how they might reduce knife crime especially fatal…

What is Reevel thinking? This is the latest in a series of lies by Reporting Scotland on, for example, gangs, knife, crime, obesity and hospital infections. I’ll summarise in the next post today. Last night, Jackie Bird opened confidently…

I think we’re all getting a bit embarrassed with comparisons revealing Tory England to be a place in hell. While there are times when I will persist because the justifiable target is not the poor souls living there but…

This content was originally published here.


Scotland? What Scotland? – Peter A Bell

Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process, and excluding The National in this way simply underlines how she is running scared of answering tough questions.

The stuff about Theresa May “running scared” of difficult questions makes for great political rhetoric. But, as I’m sure the First Minister is well aware, it doesn’t quite reflect the reality.

Theresa May is not afraid of tough questions, for two reasons. Firstly, as a professional politician, she is trained to deal with hard interrogation. And, as the British Prime Minister, she has a small army of advisers whose task it is to ensure she is thoroughly briefed and equipped with well-rehearsed responses for any question.

This, incidentally, is how she will deal with Jeremy Corbyn in the proposed TV .debate’. She will be armed with a sword of stock phrases and a shield of glittering generalities. Corbyn will have nothing but a water-pistol loaded with vacuous slogans and the Pac-A-Mac of his self-righteousness.

Then there’s the arrogance. I have not the slightest doubt that Theresa May considers herself an excellent orator and debater. Again, she has a small army of people around her whose jobs rely on assuring their charge of her shining brilliance after every performance – no matter how dire that performance may have been. May, like most senior British politicians, exists in a bubble of near-adulation that shields her from both criticism and reality. She is entirely oblivious to the ineptitude that is clearly apparent to detached observers. And almost entirely unaware of how widely she is detested.

This conceit of herself makes her unafraid. The protective phalanx of minders makes her self-assured.

The significant point in the above quote is right at the start. When Nicola Sturgeon says “Theresa May has ignored Scotland throughout the whole Brexit process”, she hints at what is actually behind decision to exclude The National from her press event. The British establishment has discovered the power of ignoring.

We exist in a world of media. We swim in a sea mediated messages. If something isn’t trending on Twitter or the subject of Facebook fury, it barely exists. If it doesn’t warrant a mention in the crowded 15-20 minute space of rolling news, then it isn’t happening. If it isn’t being talked about by the Andrews Marr and Neil, it just isn’t important.

The British establishment has deployed the ignoring strategy as one strand of its effort to diminish Scotland in the public consciousness. They denigrate our public services, delegitimise our democratic institutions and trivialise Scottish issues They aim to eradicate our distinctive political culture.. They seek to obliterate our national identity in a storm of unionjackery.

The National would seem an obvious target for this studied ignoring. May’s lackeys doubtless thought it in keeping with the ignoring agenda to exclude the paper which, almost uniquely, presents the news from a Scottish perspective. Very evidently, they got it wrong.

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This content was originally published here.


Bloody Scotland: The Origin Story | Historic Environment Scotland

A number of years ago, I went with a small group of friends to visit the ruins of Castle Campbell in Clackmannanshire. It was a strikingly bright June afternoon: a cloudless sky, no breeze, and the sort of humid, energy-sapping heat that very occasionally and very unexpectedly intrudes upon Scottish summers.

The castle sits between two narrow glens in the Ochil Hills, above the small town of Dollar. From the car park, you still have quite a distance to walk – all part of the experience, as a steep path winds up the hillside, with the ruined walls revealed only gradually on approach.

Castle Campbell overlooking Dollar – once known as Castle ‘Glume’

That summer the surrounding undergrowth was an uncontrolled explosion of greenery, punctuated everywhere by bright, colourful wildflowers. It was so warm that the castle was blurred in a heat haze. There were no other visitors. We climbed in and out of the ruins, enjoying the dry coolness in the shade of the old stones. The only sounds were our own footsteps, the scratching of grasshoppers, and the lazy hum of bees drunk out of their minds on nectar.

The castle nestles a little in its hillside setting, surrounded by tall trees. When you are there, you can look out and see almost no sign of the modern world. We walked down to the stepped terraces in front of the castle to sit in the sun. And that was when we heard it. A gunshot. In the stillness of the day, it echoed off the hillsides like a thunderclap. One of our group screamed at the shock of it.

We all looked at each other for the tiniest instant with genuine alarm. And then we started laughing. ‘Must be a farmer’, one of us said. And we didn’t question it beyond that. A farmer doing the sorts of things farmers do; not that any of us really knew what those things might be. Within seconds, we had relaxed again. We walked some more around the castle, and descended the winding path back to our car, the gunshot forgotten.

Author Denise Mina, whose contribution to Bloody Scotland, set in Edinburgh Castle, won the 2018 Crime Writer’s Association Short Story Dagger

Buildings have ways of getting under our skins…

Well, perhaps not totally forgotten. Because that moment of alarm always stayed with me. It teased with possibility. What if it hadn’t been a farmer, I wondered? What might we have stumbled upon unwittingly? Who was firing the gun? What – or indeed who – was in its sights? Why was the trigger pulled? The setting that afternoon added immeasurably to the potential for drama: the heat, the stillness, the seclusion. And looming over it all was the castle – called ‘Glume’ before it was Campbell, and set between the valleys of two portentously named burns: ‘Care’ and ‘Sorrow’. It is a dark, implacable ruin; a survivor; a witness to so much over the half-millennium since it was first built.

So perhaps, in some imagined story, it could have been more than just a witness, perhaps it could have had a purpose too. Buildings and places have ways of getting under our skins, of provoking thoughts, memories and feelings – good and bad. If we had to recall all of the major emotional moments of our lives, all of the highs and lows, and were then asked to plot them on a map, I suspect most of us would be able to do it remarkably easily. You always remember where you were when… Buildings don’t pull triggers. But perhaps they can trigger people to pull them. Perhaps.

Author Chris Brookmyre in Bothwell Castle – the setting for his contribution to Bloody Scotland, ‘The Last Siege of Bothwell Castle’

What If?

That day at Castle Campbell came back to me when I found myself talking to the co-founder of the Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival, Lin Anderson, and its director Bob McDevitt, in the Authors’ Yurt at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2016. ‘What if?’ I asked them. ‘What if we asked twelve of Scotland’s top crime writers to write short stories inspired by twelve of our most iconic buildings? What would they think? What would they come up with? What could possibly go wrong?’

Bloody Scotland is the answer.

Prepare yourself for a lot going wrong for a lot of people in a lot of ways in a lot of buildings. Prepare yourself for crimes of passion and psychotic compulsion. Prepare yourself for a 1,000-year-old Viking cold-case, a serial killer tormented by visions of ruins old and new, and an ‘urbex’ love triangle turning fatal. Prepare yourself for structures that both threaten and protect, buildings that commit acts of poetic vengeance or act as brooding accomplices to murder.

Author Val McDermid at the Hermit’s Castle in Assynt, setting for her Bloody Scotland story ‘Ancient and Modern’, which has been shortlisted for best short story at America’s 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Awards © Alan McCredie

Two of Scotland’s Greatest Assets

Yes, a lot goes wrong. But, of course, a lot goes right too. Because these stories offer a perfect demonstration of the incredible wealth of creative literary talent in Scotland today. Scottish crime writing has carved out a formidable reputation. Our authors can entertain and they can shock. And they are fearless when it comes to tackling many of the issues at the heart of contemporary society, shining lights into some of the darkest corners.

Bloody Scotland paperback book jacket

Bloody Scotland, then, is a tribute to two of our nation’s greatest assets – our built heritage and our crime writing. Read these stories and, if you haven’t already, go out and visit the structures and sites that feature. Seek your own inspiration from the experiences, let your imagination wander. Just like our writers have done, feel that electric jolt of excitement at all the myriad possibilities that Scotland’s places can offer.

Bloody Scotland is out now in paperback, RRP £8.99, and is available from the Historic Scotland online shop


Most popular names in Scotland | National Records of Scotland

Olivia and Jack remain the most popular baby names in Scotland, and Smith, Brown and Wilson the three top surnames, according to figures published today by National Records of Scotland (NRS).

The full lists of first forenames given to babies whose births were registered in 2018 replace the top 100 lists published in December, and include the first forename of every baby, including those whose births were registered in December.

The three top surnames in the Birth, Marriage and Death registers for 2018 – Smith, Brown and Wilson – have been the most common surnames recorded in the registers for over 40 years, based on five-yearly analysis going back to 1975.

The NRS website includes annual lists of babies’ first forenames back to 1974. Jack has been the top boys’ name for 11 years running.  Three boys’ names have been top in at least five of the years from 1974 to 2018: David (19 years: 1974 to 1992), Ryan (five years: 1994 to 1998) and Jack (16 years: 1999 to 2002, 2006 and 2008 onwards).  Olivia has been the most popular girls’ name for three years running.  Four girls’ names have been top in at least five of the years from 1974 to 2018: Laura (11 years: 1979 to 1989), Emma (eight years: 1990 to 1993, 1996, 1997, 2003 and 2004), Chloe (five years: 1998 to 2002) and Sophie (nine years: 2005 to 2013).  

Many once popular names have gone out of fashion.  A table of the Top 10 names for each sex for 1975 and for every fifth year thereafter, shows that (for example):

This year, NRS has added a section on names given to babies of both sexes.  As one might expect, most names were very strongly associated with only one sex.  However, the numbers for some names were split between the sexes roughly two-thirds to one-third (e.g. Alex, Rowan) or even around 50:50 (e.g. Ellis, Taylor).  For a few names, there has been a change in the balance.  For example, the name Jan used to be given mainly to girls but latterly has been given only to boys, and Morgan is a name that was once given only to boys but nowadays is given mainly to girls.   

The publications Babies First Names – 2018 and Most Common Surnames in Birth, Marriage and Death registers are available on this website. An Infographic and Interactive data visualisation for Babies First Names – 2018 can be found on the Infographics and Visualisations page of this website.