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What we learned this week: Barney’s farewell to Labour and Scotland’s adieu to ‘Madame Ecosse’

A leading Aberdeen politician quit Labour over its plans for oil and gas, while tributes were paid to Winnie Ewing after her death at 93.

Aberdeen councillor Barney Crockett quit the Labour Party over Keir Starmer's oil plans. Pic: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson
Aberdeen councillor Barney Crockett quit the Labour Party over Keir Starmer's oil plans. Pic: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson

This week saw the death of SNP trailblazer Winnie Ewing, Barney Crockett quitting the Labour party, and soaring interest rates.

Barney Crockett, the former Labour leader of Aberdeen City Council, quit the party over its plans to end North Sea exploration.

The former Lord Provost described Sir Keir Starmer’s energy strategy as “more brutal” than anything Margaret Thatcher did to industrial communities in the 1980s.

The UK Labour leader unveiled major policy plans to shift from fossil fuels to renewables during a speech in Edinburgh on Monday.

Mr Crockett, who is now an independent councillor, claimed the party’s position on oil and gas had been drawn up without any consultation with local party members.

Midge population could soar

Scotland’s midge population could soon reach unusually high levels because of recent weather patterns.

The Scottish Midge Forecast said the insects hatched within a shorter timeframe this year because of a cold spring followed by a warm spell.

Dr Alison Blackwell confirmed this had resulted in a large first hatching with smaller geographical variations and is expecting a “mega second generation” to start hatching.

Get that repellent sorted now, folks!

Tributes to ‘Madame Ecosse’

Dr Winnie Ewing died at the age of 93.

Winnie Ewing – an iconic figure in the Scottish independence movement – died at the age of 93. She was elected to the House of Commons in the 1967 Hamilton by-election and served as president of the party from 1987 to 2005.

Mrs Ewing, who earned the monicker “Madame Ecosse”, was the catalyst for her party’s surge in popularity during the 1970s.

On arriving in London to attend the House of Commons for the first time, she famously told the press: “Stop the World, Scotland wants to get on”.

Drinking water shortage

Visitors to the St Kilda archipelago in the far north of Scotland have been asked to bring their own drinking water to help conserve the islands’ supply.

Water for the few people who work on the main island of Hirta, including rangers and contractors at a military radar site, comes from natural springs.

But St Kilda, which is situated about 40 miles west of the Western Isles, has had some of its driest weather in years and is struggling to maintain basic supplies.

The Sea Cloud Spirit cruise ship will sail into Aberdeen. Image: Sea Cloud

Plain sailing

Aberdeen Harbour will welcome the breathtaking Sea Cloud Spirit as part of its cruise ship schedule this week.

The vessel, which cost £78million to build, will sail into the Granite City with up to 86 passengers on board. Built in 2021, it measures 138 metres in length, boasts an impressive 28 sails and any resemblance to The Onedin Line is purely deliberate.

People can catch a glimpse when it docks in Aberdeen’s South Harbour on Wednesday.

Rising interest rates

The Bank of England raised interest rates from 4.5% to 5%  – the highest level since 2008 – in a surprise move, sparking fears the country could be heading into recession.

The bank’s governor Andrew Bailey defended the decision, saying: “If we don’t raise rates now, it could be worse later.”

Analysts argued that the increase will lead to higher repayments for people with loans and many mortgage holders, but it should benefit savers.

The deluge which fell on Hampden ahead of kick-off between Scotland and Georgia. Image: SNS.

Victory for Scotland

It turned into one of the longest football matches in history when heavy rain forced the players from the pitch shortly after the start of the European Championship qualifier between Scotland and Georgia at Hampden Park.

The contest was suspended for an hour and 40 minutes due to torrential rain, and the Georgians weren’t keen on restarting at all, but the night had a sunny outcome for Steve Clarke’s side who won 2-0 with goals from Callum McGregor and Scott McTominay.

They currently top their group with four wins from four.

Row over music festival cancellation

Bands and staff who were supposed to be performing at a cancelled music festival are owed “well over £1 million”, a union has claimed.

Organisers of the Doune The Rabbit Hole festival, which was scheduled to take place in Stirlingshire in July cancelled the event permanently, blaming a boycott and “campaign of misinformation” by the Bectu trade union and threatened them with legal action.

Attendees will not be given refunds, with ticket-holders asked to contact their banks. Many groups who appeared last year claim they are still awaiting payment.

A new report has recommended school pupils don’t sit exams before fifth year. Pic: Shutterstock.

Schools report

A major new report on the future of Scotland’s school qualifications system has recommended that students should not sit exams before fifth year.

The review was carried out for the Scottish government by Professor Louise Hayward and its findings have split opinion across the country.

Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth said: “I need to be certain that these changes are the right ones for Scotland’s young people – and I am determined that the voices of teachers will be central to this process.”

Cindy Beale’s comeback

They say that nobody really dies in the world of soap. And that was confirmed with the news that Cindy Beale, played by actress Michelle Collins, has returned to EastEnders after almost 25 years away from the programme.

Collins’ character made her comeback this week, decades after she was said to have died in prison while giving birth. And the producers have also announced that another former favourite Adam Woodyatt will be reprising his role as her ex-husband Ian Beale.