Just in time for the weekend, here’s a look at the top 10 political must-reads from the last seven days:
1. SNP MP says Scottish transport minister failing to ‘engage’ in talks to save Dundee air traffic control jobs
A Nationalist MP has urged his party’s transport chief to “open his laptop and engage” with cross-party demands to save airport jobs. As The Press & Journal’s Political Editor Andy Philp reports, the SNP’s Angus MacNeil criticised his own colleague Graeme Dey over the controversial plan affecting his Western Isles constituency, as well as Dundee, Shetland and Orkney. Government-owned Highlands and Islands Airport Ltd wants to centralise air traffic control jobs in Inverness. The proposal has infuriated local politicians who came together with the Prospect union to force a re-think. Read more here.
2. Campaigners hoping A9 and A96 upgrades will be abandoned under SNP-Green pact
Sustainable transport campaigners say they are hoping the SNP’s proposed deal with the Greens will spell the end of work to dual the A9 and A96. Colin Howden, director of Transform Scotland, said he believed there “might be some movement” on multibillion-pound road projects if a power-sharing pact is confirmed. As The Press & Journal’s Investigations Editor Calum Ross reports, work to upgrade the two key routes between Inverness and Perth, and Inverness and Aberdeen, have been demanded for decades by many to try to improve road safety and spur economic growth, but the Greens have been long-standing opponents of investment in new road-building, arguing that the money would be better spent on public transport schemes, as well as more sustainable initiatives to promote walking and cycling. Read the full story at this link.
3. What’s in Scotland’s drugs? New research is underway that could lead to a reduction in deaths
Dundee and Aberdeen will host “pioneering” research for a project hoping to find out what is in Scotland’s illegal drugs. Experts will work in the two cities and also Glasgow, to best determine how drug checking services could be used to lessen the harm caused by illicit substances. As Paul Malik reports, drug checking is a scientific process which identifies purity, strength and make-up of a substance. It is used already in European countries like the Netherlands and Switzerland where testing takes place at nightclubs and festivals where people taking drugs can hand them over to be tested by experts. Read more here.
4. Scottish Government accused of ‘lagging behind’ on digital vaccine passports
Scots are facing barriers proving their vaccination status in some parts of Europe as the country lags behind developing its own digital app. Travellers from Scotland can currently only get paper confirmation of their vaccination status, while England & Wales have a digital version with a QR code on their NHS app. As Adele Merson reports, the Scottish Government recently awarded a £600,000 contract to a Danish IT firm to develop a vaccine passport which it aims to launch next month. Read more here.
5. ‘Lousy performance’: SNP and opposition parties clash over first 100 days election pledges
This month marks the 100th day of the SNP government following elections in May and opposition parties and the SNP have been clashing over whether or not election promises for that time have yet been met. The Conservatives say the SNP is “miles off target” on a number of commitments, while the Liberal Democrats claim many pledges have “fallen by the wayside”. As Rachel Amery reports, some of the pledges include publishing an NHS recovery plan, launching a Scottish Covid inquiry, producing a women’s health plan and vaccinating all adults against coronavirus. Read more here.
6. Jailed Alex Salmond blogger Craig Murray no longer in the SNP
A disgraced former ambassador and ex-Dundee University rector who is serving an eight-month sentence over blog posts about the Alex Salmond trial is now out of the SNP. As Andy Philip and Alasdair Clark report, Mr Murray drank champagne outside a police station where he handed himself in to begin his sentence at the start of August. A former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, he was jailed after being found in contempt of court earlier this year. Read the full story here.
7. ‘Deeply concerning’: Brexit blamed for plummeting EU student numbers applying to Scottish universities
A dramatic drop in the number of EU students applying to study in Scotland in the past year has been branded “deeply concerning”, with Brexit getting the blame. According to statistics from UCAS, the admissions service, the percentage of students living in other European countries who applied to study at a Scottish university dropped by 56% from 2020 to 2021. Previously, students from the EU were able to attend university in Scotland free of charge, with awards agency SAAS covering the cost of their tuition fees. The impact of Brexit means that from this year any EU student who does not have settled or pre-settled status will have to pay “astronomical” tuition fees. Read the full story here.
8. Donald Trump: Court grants permission to seek review of ‘unexplained wealth order’ decision linked to Scottish golf purchases
Scotland’s highest civil court this week ruled to allow a review of the SNP Government’s decision to knock back calls for a so-called McMafia probe into Donald Trump’s wealth. The ex US President has two courses in Scotland – his first purchase at the Menie Estate on the Aberdeenshire coast and second at Turnberry in Ayrshire. Scottish Greens had demanded First Minister Nicola Sturgeon uses an Unexplained Wealth Order to get to the bottom of where his money came from. But Ms Sturgeon rejected the call earlier this year, prompting a US-based human rights group, Avaaz, to seek a legal challenge. Read more.
9. Scotland’s climate crisis: Broken promises and what the Scottish Government plans to do next
Scotland will take centre stage later this year as Glasgow hosts the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference. The issue has been put under fresh spotlight after a landmark UN report found it was “unequivocal” human activity is responsible for global warming and that “widespread and rapid changes” have already occurred in every inhabited region across the globe. This week Derek Healey took a closer look at the Scottish and UK Governments’ climate change targets and whether or not they’re being met. Read more here.
10. SNP-Green deal would lead to ‘tidal wave’ of oil and gas redundancies, says north-east MP
A potential deal between the SNP and Greens would risk the oil and gas sector “being held at knifepoint”, a north-east MP has claimed. In talks between the two parties, the future of oil and gas has become a sticking point with the Greens pledging to “phase out” oil and gas in the North Sea. The issue fell sharply under the spotlight on Thursday after Nicola Sturgeon made a significant intervention where she called on UK ministers to “reassess” the Cambo oil field plan. Conservative MP Andrew Bowie said this week that he thinks the power-sharing deal is “potentially devastating for the energy sector and the north-east of Scotland in general”. Read the full story here.