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December 4, 2015

UK begins airstrikes against IS in Syria

UK begins airstrikes against IS in Syria

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The government of the United Kingdom has said Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers began airstrikes yesterday against Islamic State targets in Syria. The bombings follow British Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to support action against IS in Syria on Wednesday.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, from file.
Image: Chatham House.

RAF Tornado bombers based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus attacked oilfields in Syria which are controlled by and fund IS. UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the airstrikes were designed to deliver “a very real blow on the oil and revenue” of IS.

A Ministry of Defence statement said six “elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted” by the Tornados with support from other aircraft. It said sensors on the aircraft determined the targets were clear of non-combatants.

On Wednesday, MPs held a ten-hour debate on air strikes against IS, during which UK Prime Minister David Cameron urged them to support the action. They voted 397 to 223 to join the United States and France who are already bombing IS targets in Syria.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s opposition Labour Party, voted against airstrikes, arguing the need for bombings “did not stack up”. Mr Cameron also failed to get support from the Scottish National Party (SNP), almost all of whose MPs voted against taking action in Syria.

Following the airstrikes, Prime Minister Cameron said they had been “good for the country” and indicated “patience” would be needed in fighting IS. Mr Fallon said the UK are due to bomb more IS targets in Syria “in the next few days and weeks”.

Six Typhoon warplanes along with an Airbus A400M carrying engineers, ground crew and supplies left RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland yesterday to travel to Cyprus. Two further Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk, England are to join the planes based in Cyprus.



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Ministry of Defence statement regarding airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria

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August 15, 2015

Scottish Labour elect Kezia Dugdale new leader

Scottish Labour elect Kezia Dugdale new leader

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

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Kezia Dugdale MSP, new leader of Scottish Labour.
Image: Scottish Labour.

Kezia Dugdale MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) has been elected as the new leader for Scottish Labour, it was announced today in Stirling. Dugdale replaces former MP Jim Murphy who resigned in June following Labour losing 40 of its 41 Scottish seats in the UK general elections. Dugdale received 72.1% of the vote, beating out Ken Macintosh who got 27.9% of the vote. Alex Rowley MSP was elected deputy leader.

Dugdale — the youngest Scottish Labour leader at age 33, and the third woman to take the role — said she will now work “night and day” to try and restore Labour’s position in Scottish politics. In a statement to voters, she tried to appeal to Labour’s lost supporters: “Take another look at the Scottish Labour party. I am not so presumptuous to ask instantly for your vote. But at the recent election 700,000 of you stuck with us but many chose someone else. All I ask is that you take a fresh look at the Scottish Labour party under my leadership.”

Harriet Harman, who is acting leader while the leadership elections for the national party are underway, welcomed Dugdale’s election: “I would like to congratulate Kezia Dugdale on being elected as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and Alex Rowley on being elected as Deputy Leader. They will be leading the historic task of rebuilding our Party in Scotland, reconnecting Labour with the people of Scotland and re-energising the links between our party in Scotland, Wales and England, and I know they will lead the party in Scotland forward with energy and commitment to Labour values and principles and will have the full support of the whole of the Labour Party.”

Derek Mackay from the Scottish National Party said a change of leadership won’t fix “the deep, deep problems which the Labour Party in Scotland now faces”.

During the election campaign, Dugdale criticised the length of time it was taking to select a new national party leader, both for UK Labour and for the Scottish party, and expressed concern UK candidate Jeremy Corbyn would not be electable as Prime Minister, telling The Guardian: “I want there to be a Labour government; otherwise I’m wasting my time. I don’t want to spend my whole life just carping from the sidelines. […] Here’s a guy that’s broken the whip 500 times. So how can the leader of the party enforce discipline with that record?”

This week, she said on BBC Good Morning Scotland: “That is hardly the most critical thing that anybody has said about his campaign. I am excited about his campaign and many people across the country are.”

Deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives Jackson Carlaw described her change of tune on Corbyn’s leadership bid as a “spectacular flip-flop”: “Only last week she was attacking Mr Corbyn by warning that a Labour party led by him would be ‘carping from the sidelines’. Now she says that they ‘share the same views’. What appears to have changed her mind is the dawning realisation that Mr Corbyn is heading for a landslide victory and she needs to get on board if she’s going to win her own election campaign.”



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May 9, 2015

Conservatives win majority in 2015 UK general election

Conservatives win majority in 2015 UK general election

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

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David Cameron is to continue being Prime Minister of the UK after his Conservative Party won a majority of seats in a general election on Thursday. Although the party led a Coalition government it formed alongside the Liberal Democrats after the previous general election in 2010, this is the first time the party has won an overall majority since 1992.

Cquote1.svg Our manifesto is a manifesto for working people and as a majority government, we will be able to deliver all of it. Indeed, it is the reason why I think majority government is more accountable Cquote2.svg

David Cameron

Across the UK, Conservatives won 331 seats out of the 650 available, an increase of 24 on their 2010 total. The Labour Party, which won 258 seats in 2010, now has 232. The Liberal Democrats experienced the heaviest number of seat losses, dropping from 57 to eight. Amongst the Liberal Democrat figures to lose seats were David Laws, Charles Kennedy, Simon Hughes, Jo Swinson, Lynne Featherstone and Jenny Willott. Liberal Democrats leader Nick Clegg said while “fear and grievance have won, liberalism has lost”.

Although UKIP and the Greens each only won one seat, their national vote share increased by 9.5% to 12.6% and by 2.8% to 3.8%, respectively; this compares to 7.9% for the Liberal Democrats, 30.4% for Labour and 36.9% for Conservatives. Statistics reported by the BBC suggest the voting turnout was 66.1%, based on an electorate of approximately 46.4 million.

The bulk of Conservative seat increases occurred in England, where their seat total increased by 21 to 319 out of a possible 533. Labour’s seat count here increased by 15 to 206, while the Liberal Democrats dropped from 43 seats to six. The final results defied opinion polls, which had broadly suggested Labour and Conservatives were tied for the lead. An independent inquiry is set to be conducted into opinion polling accuracy in the UK, given they had appeared to underestimate the Conservatives’ success and/or overestimate Labour’s results.

“I truly believe we are on the brink of something special in our country”, David Cameron said in a speech yesterday. “We can make Britain a place where a good life is in reach for everyone who is willing to work and do the right thing. Our manifesto is a manifesto for working people and as a majority government, we will be able to deliver all of it. Indeed, it is the reason why I think majority government is more accountable.” In highlighting what a Conservative government would set out to achieve, he said it would include “Three million apprenticeships, more help with childcare, helping 30 million people cope with the cost of living by cutting their taxes, building homes that people are able to buy and own, creating millions more jobs that give people the chance of a better future and yes, we will deliver that in-out referendum on our future in Europe.” He went on to talk about new powers the UK Government had and would devolve to regional administrations in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. For the latter, he said, “our plans are to create the strongest devolved government anywhere in the world with important powers over taxation.”

In Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) made the largest gains of any party in the UK, increasing from six seats to 56 seats out of a possible 59, the highest number they have ever had, based on a Scotland vote share of approximately 50%. The number of constituencies held by Labour and Liberal Democrats there decreased from 41 and 11, respectively, to one for each of them, with the Conservatives staying at one seat. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, who said this result had surpassed her expectations, said “the tectonic plates of Scottish politics [have] shifted”. Sturgeon also stated that the SNP would “work with others across the UK, to try to get more progressive politics at the heart of Westminster”. One seat, Glasgow North East, experienced a record swing of 39% from Labour to the SNP. On top of that, 20-year-old student and SNP candidate Mhairi Black became the youngest MP to be elected in the UK since 1667.

In Wales, Conservatives went up from eight to eleven of a possible 40 seats. Labour achieved 25, down one from 2010; the Liberal Democrats went down two to one seat and Plaid Cymru remained at three seats. In Northern Ireland, most of the 18 constituencies did not change hands. However, Sinn Féin went down one to four seats, while the Alliance Party lost their one seat. The Ulster Unionist Party, who did not win any seats in the last general election, won two seats this time.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls was one of the high profile losses for Labour, having lost his seat to the Conservatives by a narrow 422-vote margin. Numerous Liberal Democrats who were previously government ministers, including Ed Davey, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander, all lost their seats. In the wake of the results, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage all announced they would resign from their roles as the leaders of Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP, respectively. Farage had said he would stand down as leader if he did not win the seat of Thanet South, which he did not, but said yesterday he was considering whether or not to stand in a leadership election for the party later this year. Clegg described the situation for his party as “a very dark hour for our party”. He blamed the large loss of Liberal Democrat MPs on “forces beyond their control”, describing the situation as “simply heartbreaking”. Meanwhile, Miliband said “I have done my best for nearly five years” and that “Britain needs a Labour Party that can rebuild after this defeat”. Harriet Harman — the current deputy leader — is to serve as interim leader until a new Labour leader is selected. Harman also intends to resign the deputy leadership.

Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich East, said he is considering running for Labour deputy leader. “I’ve always thought that the deputy leader role is the campaigning role”, he said. “We’ve got a mayoral election in Tower Hamlets to fight in six weeks’ time. Who knows, we might even have a by-election for London mayor. So this party has got to keep campaigning whilst we try and understand what’s gone on in the general election.”

Meanwhile, Cameron has begun to appoint members of his new cabinet, announcing George Osborne, Theresa May, Philip Hammond and Michael Fallon are to retain their posts as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary, respectively.

David Cameron, Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister. Image: Land of Hope and Glory.

David Cameron, Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister.
Image: Land of Hope and Glory.

Ed Miliband, outgoing Labour Party leader. Image: Department of Energy.

Ed Miliband, outgoing Labour Party leader.
Image: Department of Energy.

Nick Clegg, outgoing Liberal Democrats leader. Image: World Economic Forum.

Nick Clegg, outgoing Liberal Democrats leader.
Image: World Economic Forum.

Nigel Farage, outgoing UKIP leader. Image: Nigel Farage.

Nigel Farage, outgoing UKIP leader.
Image: Nigel Farage.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish National Party leader and Scottish First Minister. Image: Scottish Government.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish National Party leader and Scottish First Minister.
Image: Scottish Government.



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  • “Labour grabs poll lead in UK General Election campaign” — Wikinews, April 10, 2015
  • “UK elections: Hung parliament, Cameron to negotiate with Liberal Democrats” — Wikinews, May 7, 2010
  • 2010 UK general election results” — Wikinews, May 6, 2010

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November 29, 2013

John Major weighs in on Scottish independence debate

John Major weighs in on Scottish independence debate

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Friday, November 29, 2013

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John Major in 2007.
Image: Steve Punter.

Yesterday in London, former UK Prime Minister Sir John Major gave a speech at the Institute of Directors outlining his opposition to plans for Scottish independence. This follows the publication earlier in the week of a white paper by the Scottish government outlining plans for what would happen if the country votes to leave the United Kingdom.

Major said that there won’t be a currency union between a newly independent Scotland and a post-split United Kingdom: “A currency union, which the SNP Scottish National Party assume is negotiable, would require the UK to underwrite Scottish debts. That cannot, will not, happen if Scotland leaves the Union. There can be no halfway house, no quasi-independence underpinned by UK institutions.”

Major said the other alternative was to join the Euro, but this would require Scotland to first join the European Union. EU membership may not be easy as “many states would have concerns about the accession of a separatist member. […] How would Spain feel — with breakaway movements in Catalonia and the Basque Country? Spain uses uncertainty over EU membership to deter Catalonia from even holding a referendum on independence. It is hardly likely she would happily wave in Scotland. Spain will not be alone in being wary of separatist tendencies.”

Major also said that Scottish nationalists engaged in anti-English sentiment. “Anti-English sentiment from separatists irritates and enrages, as it is intended to do, but across the UK people know and value Scots as partners, work colleagues, friends and neighbours. It is hard to imagine Scots becoming foreigners.”

A spokesperson for Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland and the leader of the Scottish National Party, responded to Major’s remarks: “Sir John Major is quite wrong to suggest that the rest of the UK should lay exclusive claim to all the assets of the UK, which the people of Scotland contribute to and of which Sterling is one. But he is also just about the very last person the No campaign should be calling on to make their case. He was the Tory prime minister who presided over his party’s complete wipe-out in Scotland and the more he tries to lecture the people of Scotland, the better it will be for the Yes vote.”



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November 21, 2013

Scottish legislature gives green light to same-sex marriage

Scottish legislature gives green light to same-sex marriage

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Alex Neil introduced the legislation on behalf of the Scottish Government.
Image: The Scottish Government.

Members of the Scottish Parliament voted 98–15 in a free vote yesterday to approve the Marriage and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Bill, which seeks to legalise marriage between partners of the same sex. If the legislation is passed, Scotland may start allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2015.

Scottish government ministers have attempted to reassure religious groups who oppose same-sex marriage they will not be required by law to conduct them, but may “opt in” to conduct ceremonies for same-sex partners. The law also contains provisions that would protect individuals from being required to perform marriages if their congregation has opted-in but they disagree with same-sex marriage.

Alex Neil, the Scottish government health secretary, said the bill “will create a more tolerant society in Scotland and will mean that, in respect of marriage, there is genuinely equal rights right across the entire community”.

Support for the bill crossed party lines. Jim Hume from the Liberal Democrats said the vote was “a demonstration that our Scottish society values everyone — no matter their sexuality”.

Conservative MSP (Member of Scottish Parliament) Ruth Davidson — who is herself a lesbian — argued in Parliament that the bill “matters to the future nature of our country. We have an opportunity today to tell our nation’s children that, no matter where they live and no matter who they love, there is nothing that they cannot do. We will wipe away the last legal barrier that says that they are something less than their peers. We can help them to walk taller into the playground tomorrow and to face their accuser down knowing that the Parliament of their country has stood up for them and said that they are every bit as good as every one of their classmates.”

From the Labour party, Mary Fee argued against the claim that existing civil partnership legislation was satisfactory: “I ask the opponents of the bill who comment that civil partnerships were introduced for LGBT people whether the suffragettes were happy when the Representation of the People Act 1918 was introduced, allowing women over 30 to vote. No, they were not. They fought for a further decade to enfranchise all women and equalise the voting ages of men and women.”

Elaine Smith, also a Labour MSP, said she feared MSPs opposing same-sex marriage were being “bounced” into supporting the bill for fear of being branded homophobic. “Since indicating that I did not intend to support the redefinition of marriage, my religion’s been disparaged, I’ve been branded homophobic and bigoted, I’ve been likened to the Ku Klux Klan and it was suggested that I be burnt at the stake as a witch”, Smith claimed.

John Mason from the Scottish National Party said “Parliament is not reflecting public opinion on this issue” and the public was more divided on the issue than the parliamentarians in Holyrood were.

Outside the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, a demonstration was held by the LGBT rights group Equality Network supporting the bill. Tom French from the Equality Network said of the vote: “Tonight the Scottish Parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to back same-sex marriage and uphold the principle that we should all be equal under the law.”

Colin Macfarlane from the gay rights group Stonewall Scotland also welcomed the vote: “This is a truly historic step forward. We’re absolutely delighted that MSPs have demonstrated overwhelmingly that they’re in touch with the twenty-first century.”

The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Scotland both oppose the Bill. Reverend Dr William Hamilton from the Church of Scotland said while the Church opposes same-sex marriage, they stand against homophobia and “will continue to be a constructive voice in the national debate” about the bill.

In July, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill passed into law in Westminster and will allow same-sex couples to marry in England and Wales.



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March 23, 2013

Scotland sets date for referendum

Scotland sets date for referendum – Wikinews, the free news source

Scotland sets date for referendum

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

On Thursday, Scotland’s First Minister and Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Alex Salmond set the date September 18, 2014, for the country’s referendum on political independence from the rest of the United Kingdom. The question to be presented at the ballot is: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”; if a majority vote “Yes”, the union of the parliaments, in-place since 1707, will come to an end.

Graph charting opinion on the referendum from several surveys undertaken during the past year.
Image: Metallurgist.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the SNP believe Scotland would be more prosperous under self-government controlling their own resources, including the oil, fishing and farming industries.

The vote comes from what Salmond describes as a chance “to build a better country”. Salmon urged the Scottish population to seize the opportunity for independence, quoted by ABC as saying, “[t]he choice becomes clearer with each passing day – the opportunity to use our vast resources and talent to build a better country, or to continue with a Westminster system that simply isn’t working for Scotland,”

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However, Independence opponent and Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont claims the SNP have failed to detail how an independent Scotland would support itself. Lamont told the The Guardian that Salmond has failed to explain how the new nation would deal with health care and education issues, as well as what its polices would be on tax, pensions and welfare.

For this election only, the voting age of the September referendum has been lowered to 16. Polling expert Prof John Curtice told the BBC: “If you look at the polls in the round, what you discover is, yes, younger people are perhaps a little more likely to be in favour of independence.” However, the Professor was sceptical if younger voters would be the all-deciding vote that the SNP believes them to be.

ABC reports opinion polls show only 30% of the Scottish population currently support independence, with 50% favouring the status-quo as part of the the United Kingdom.

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February 17, 2013

Two Outer Hebrides councillors launch petition to retain local flight services

Two Outer Hebrides councillors launch petition to retain local flight services

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

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In the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, two councillors from the Scottish National Party (SNP) began a petition Friday, the day after Comhairle nan Eilean Siar — the local government council for the Western Isles — said it would discontinue flight services between the islands of Benbecula and Barra as part of its 2013 / 2014 budget.

File photo of plane at Barra Airport in September 2010.
Image: calflier001.

The petition — entitled “To petition the Scottish Parliament that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar maintains its support for the lifeline air services between Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra” — has also been launched in response to another council decision to restrict flight services between the islands of Benbecula and Lewis to three days a week, although the move has been temporarily suspended for two weeks to allow for NHS Western Isles to provide funding for said services. Otherwise, the changes come into effect late next month. Gordon Murray and Rae MacKenzie, the two councillors who launched the petition, are both from the town of Stornoway in the isle of Lewis. At the council’s meeting, Councillor MacKenzie suggested an alternative budget retaining flight service financing. The petition says the council’s decisions “risk the future of all internal flights within the Outer Hebrides and would severely undermine the transport connections which have been built up between the islands over the last forty years, with serious implications for the local economy and community.”

The council’s decision to remove the £148,000 (about US$230,000 or 172,000) subsidy means Benbecula – Barra flights are to cease operation within the next few weeks. When the decision comes into effect, travelling between the islands will only be available through the use of ferry services. The council, which was trying to achieve about £5 million (US$7.75 million or €5.8 million) in spending reductions, said some 75% of seats on these flights were vacant.

Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar in the British Government, and Alasdair Allan, MSP for the same constituency in the Scottish Government, both of whom are SNP members, have criticised the council’s decision. MacNeil said he was “disappointed” about the move and claimed Comhairle nan Eilean Siar was “axing these services while pocketing the cash” provided to them by the Scottish Government. Meanwhile, Allan said the council’s action was “a significant blow to the community”. He said, from Benbecula: “As someone who used the Barra to Benbecula flight today, it is clear to me what importance this service has in keeping the Western Isles connected.”

Council leader Angus Campbell subsequently criticised MacNeil for his remarks, saying he was “extremely disappointed” by them. “The use of the term ‘pocketing the money’ shows a disrespect for the democratic process of local Government”, he said. He also requested that MacNeil and Allan “stand shoulder to shoulder with the Comhairle to campaign for increased funding for the Western Isles to help deal with these issues rather than turning on their democratically elected local council over individual issues they don’t particularly like.”

Campbell described the council’s 2013 / 2014 budget as “the most difficult we have faced during my time as a councillor.”



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February 16, 2013

Two councillors in Scottish Outer Hebrides launch petition after council restricts local flight services

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In the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, two councillors from the Scottish National Party (SNP) began a petition Friday, the day after Comhairle nan Eilean Siar — the local government council for the Western Isles — said it would discontinue flight services between the islands of Benbecula and Barra as part of its 2013 / 2014 budget.

Location of the Outer Hebrides, or Western Isles, within Scotland.
Image: Barryob.

The petition — entitled “To petition the Scottish Parliament that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar maintains its support for the lifeline air services between Stornoway, Benbecula and Barra” — has also been launched in response to another council decision to restrict flight services between the islands of Benbecula and Lewis to three days a week, although the move has been temporarily suspended for two weeks to allow for NHS Western Isles to provide funding for said services. Otherwise, the changes come into effect late next month. Gordon Murray and Rae MacKenzie, the two councillors who launched the petition, are both from the town of Stornoway in the isle of Lewis. At the council’s meeting, Councillor MacKenzie suggested an alternative budget retaining flight service financing. The petition says the council’s decisions “risk the future of all internal flights within the Outer Hebrides and would severely undermine the transport connections which have been built up between the islands over the last forty years, with serious implications for the local economy and community.”

The council’s decision to remove the £148,000 (about US$230,000 or 172,000) subsidy means Benbecula – Barra flights are to cease operation within the next few weeks. When the decision comes into effect, travelling between the islands will only be available through the use of ferry services. The council, which was trying to achieve about £5 million (US$7.75 million or €5.8 million) in spending reductions, said some 75% of seats on these flights were vacant.

Angus MacNeil, MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar in the British Government, and Alasdair Allan, MSP for the same constituency in the Scottish Government, both of whom are SNP members, have criticised the council’s decision. MacNeil said he was “disappointed” about the move and claimed Comhairle nan Eilean Siar was “axing these services while pocketing the cash” provided to them by the Scottish Government. Meanwhile, Allan said the council’s action was “a significant blow to the community”. He said, from Benecula: “As someone who used the Barra to Benbecula flight today, it is clear to me what importance this service has in keeping the Western Isles connected.”

Council leader Angus Campbell subsequently criticised MacNeil for his remarks, saying he was “extremely disappointed” by them. “The use of the term ‘pocketing the money’ shows a disrespect for the democratic process of local Government”, he said. He also requested that MacNeil and Allan “stand shoulder to shoulder with the Comhairle to campaign for increased funding for the Western Isles to help deal with these issues rather than turning on their democratically elected local council over individual issues they don’t particularly like.”

Campbell described the council’s 2013 / 2014 budget as “the most difficult we have faced during my time as a councillor.”



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October 18, 2012

Cameron, Salmond sign deal for referendum on Scottish independence

Cameron, Salmond sign deal for referendum on Scottish independence

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

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United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond have signed a deal for a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in the autumn of 2014. The deal, signed in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, gives the Scottish Government clear legal power to hold a referendum. The deal lapses if a referendum is not held before the end of 2014.

The deal, signed on Monday, achieves a compromise between the proposals of Mr Cameron and Mr Salmond. Sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds are to be allowed to vote in the referendum. Mr Salmond favoured this. However, there is to be only one question on the ballot paper, a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question on whether Scotland should be independent. Mr Salmond had proposed a second question on the ballot paper, on so-called ‘devo-max’. This would have given Scotland full tax-raising powers while still remaining inside the United Kingdom if voters rejected independence.

The pro- and anti-independence campaigns have been setting out their positions. The pro-independence campaign, which is led by former BBC Scotland news chief Blair Jenkins and supported by Mr Salmond’s Scottish National Party and the Scottish Green Party, seeks to convince voters of the benefits of independence. Mr Salmond said: “The agreement will see Scotland take an important step toward independence, and the means to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland. I look forward to working positively for a yes vote in 2014.” The anti-independence campaign Better Together is headed up by former U.K. chancellor Alistair Darling and is supported by the Scottish Labour Party, the Scottish Conservatives, and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Mr Darling suggested Scotland leaving the union would mean a pointlessly “uncertain future”.

Currently, Scotland is run through devolution. The Scottish Parliament can make laws on ‘devolved’ issues, which include health, education, and policing. However, the U.K. parliament still has power over ‘reserved’ issues like defence, foreign affairs, and taxation.



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May 6, 2011

UK holds referendum on voting system

UK holds referendum on voting system – Wikinews, the free news source

UK holds referendum on voting system

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Friday, May 6, 2011

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File photo of a UK polling station sign.
Image: secretlondon123.

The United Kingdom electorate took to the polls yesterday to vote in both local elections and a UK-wide referendum regarding the system used to elect its members of parliament to the House of Commons. The polls opened at 07:00 BST (0600 UTC) yesterday morning and closed at 22:00 BST (2100 UTC) last night.

Alongside the normal local elections for seats on 279 councils, and elections for seats in the devolved Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Irish Assemblies, the country saw the first nation-wide referendum since 1975, regarding potentially replacing the current first past the post voting system with the Alternative Vote (AV) system currently used for general elections in Australia, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, as well as for some mayoral and party leadership elections worldwide, including in the UK.

Mayoral elections also took place in Leicester, Mansfield, Beford, Middlesbrough, and Torbay. Some areas also experienced elections to parish councils, while the constituency of Leicester South underwent a by-election after its Labour MP Sir Peter Soulsby stood down to run for mayor.

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One polling station in Stockport was delivered the wrong ballot papers, causing around 90 people to cast invalid votes. Those affected were, where possible, contacted and asked to cast their vote again, according to the local council. Another, in Llandeilo, was closed for two hours after escaped dogs bit four people nearby.

The AV referendum came about as a result of the coalition agreement between the Liberal Democrats, who support voting reform and promised a referendum in their campaign, and the Conservatives, who initially opposed reform but agreed to a referendum as a compromise, following the election in May last year.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) hopes to retain control of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood, where it currently runs the minority government, in the hopes of potentially holding a referendum regarding Scottish independence, which they did not deliver in their first term in power; meanwhile Labour hope to end their coalition with Plaid Cymru by taking control of the Welsh Assembly; however, sources from within the party report that it is likely that Labour will fail to reach a majority. Little is expected to change in Ireland, where the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin are expected to retain their dominance over the Northern Irish Assembly.

Polling booths in the New Forest.

Polls taken prior to the election implied that AV would be rejected by some margin, but due to low turnout — despite good weather — the results are likely to be unpredictable. The results of the AV referendum are not due to be declared until 20:00 BST (1900 UTC) today, and counting is not due to begin until 16:00 BST (1500 UTC).

As usual, Sunderland was the first council to report, and was held by Labour; as is the case with many councils in the north of England, it is considered a Labour safe seat. Early predictions indicate that a number of Liberal Democrat councilors in northern cities will lose their seats to Labour or Conservative candidates. Former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett reportedly said that the national opinion had changed from “Clegg mania” into “Clegg pneumonia”. In an interview with the BBC, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg put predicted Liberal Democrat losses down to voters being “angry” at the coalition government, but also said that the electorate is “not stupid”, and would vote in council elections based on local—rather than national—factors.

The first Scottish Parliament constituency to report was Rutherglen, which is held by the incumbent Labour MP, James Kelly. Despite being considered Labour’s fourth safest Scottish seat, it experienced a swing of more than seven percent towards the SNP, and large Labour losses are predicted across Scotland. Nearby East Kilbride was the second to report, and was gained by SNP candidate Linda Fabiani from the Labour incumbent Andy Kerr.



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Some information contained in this article was obtained from television, radio, or live webcast sources. Reporter’s notes and the broadcast source details are available at the collaboration page.

External links

  • w:English Wikipedia United Kingdom Alternative Vote referendum, 2011 — Wikipedia
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