From national warnings on the surge in coronavirus cases, to local councillors caught red-handed running troll accounts on social media, it’s been another busy week in Scottish politics. Just in time for the weekend, here’s a look at the top 10 political must-reads you need to catch up with:
1. ‘Like Eat Out to Help Out on steroids’
An adviser to Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the rise in Covid cases linked to Scots football fans at the Euros shows the country risks scoring an “own goal” – and warned politicians to learn from last year’s push to reopen restaurants. Professor Stephen Reicher, from the University of St Andrews, said government should reflect on the Eat Out to Help Out campaign and the impact it had on the spread of infection. Press & Journal Political Editor Andy Philip covered that story, and you can read it in full here.
2. Job fears highest in north-east as furlough winds down
People in the north-east of Scotland are the most worried about their future employment, according to a poll. The findings, which take in Dundee and Aberdeen, reveal anxiety about jobs on the day the UK Government wage support is scaled back. The scheme, known as furlough, was brought in to protect jobs in the first lockdown but is due to end this autumn. Read all the details here.
3. Trans rights: How gender recognition reform became one of Scotland’s most heated debates
The contentious debate over trans rights and gender identity looks likely to become one of the most defining of the new parliament. The row has already caused internal division within the SNP, prompting Nicola Sturgeon to make an extraordinary personal intervention earlier this year. Trans issues again fell under the spotlight last week, after Scottish Green members criticised the party’s talks with the SNP over accusations of ‘transphobia’. Reporter Adele Merson has been following these issues and wrote this in-depth story which explains everything you need to know about the trans rights issue in Scotland.
4. Ian Blackford insists the Scottish Government will decide IndyRef2 timing
Ian Blackford has insisted that the Scottish Government would decide the timing of a second independence referendum and not Westminster. The SNP Westminster leader told Conservative ministers it was time they “recognised democracy” and the result of the Holyrood election last month. The Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP was reacting to remarks made by Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, who said on Monday that there would not be a another referendum “any time soon”. Read the full story here, from reporter Calum Ross.
5. Thousands of bottles and cans dumped outside Holyrood
More than 1,000 cans and bottles have been dumped outside the Scottish Parliament to mark one year until the launch of the deposit return system. The new scheme, which comes into effect on July 1, 2022, will see shoppers pay an additional charge when buying drinks in cans or bottles.However, they will be able to get this fee refunded when they return their empty cans and bottles for recycling. Reporter Rachel Amery covered this story and you can read more here.
6. Putting flu and covid jabs in arms this winter will be ‘challenging’
Health secretary Humza Yousaf visited Dundee this week and talked to our reporter Paul Malik about the challenges looming for the NHS this winter. The roll-out of this year’s flu jab and “booster” covid vaccine for the over 50s will be difficult, the health secretary has admitted, as the country prepares to face looser restrictions. Read Paul’s full story here.
7. Second Conservative councillor unmasked as social media troll
Reporter Derek Healey unmasked a senior Conservative councillor this week, caught red-handed running an anonymous anti-SNP troll account that coached unsuspecting members of the public to “tactically vote” for him in May’s Scottish Parliament election. Braden Davy was the second Angus councillor to be outed for their online shenanigans, after another Tory Derek Wann confessed to being behind the ‘Lady Whistledown’ account after our investigation. In the latest developments, police tell us they’ve been asked to look into whether any electoral laws might have been broken. Read more here.
8. Michael Gove’s week in politics
Aberdeen-born Michael Gove has had quite a turbulent week as our Westminster correspondent Dan O’Donoghue reports. At the start of the week the Cabinet Office minister – who is responsible for countering the push for independence – said the UK and Scottish Government’s focus should be on the Covid recovery and not the constitution. Mr Gove also had to defend himself from accusations that he used money earmarked for Covid research to fund polls on the Union. And late on Friday afternoon Michael Gove announced his divorce from newspaper columnist Sarah Vine.
9. Elections watchdog offers to help SNP with second independence referendum
Bosses at the Electoral Commission have offered to help the SNP hold a second independence referendum, despite opposition from the prime minister. The regulator’s new chairman John Pullinger has said he is open to an “independent discussion” with Scottish officials if they wanted “something to be done that helps them with their democracy”. His remarks put the commission on a collision course with the Boris Johnson, who has said he will reject any request for an “irresponsible and reckless” second poll. Read the full story here.
10. SNP seeking to appoint new ‘complaints officer’ after recent controversies
The SNP is recruiting for a new “complaints officer” after a series of controversies over the conduct of senior figures in the party. The post-holder would be responsible for managing complaints to the SNP, as well as acting as a point of contact for complainants. The advertisement states that the successful candidate would “complement the work of the national secretary, responsible for discipline within the party”. The move follows multiple scandals involving prominent SNP figures in recent years, including former leader Alex Salmond, former finance secretary Derek Mackay, former early years minister Mark McDonald, former whip Patrick Grady, and the MP Margaret Ferrier. Read the full story here.