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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 17, 2015

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

Jim Murphy announces resignation as Scottish Labour Party leader

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

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Jim Murphy yesterday announced he intends to stand down as Scottish Labour Party leader next month, after narrowly surviving a no confidence vote. Murphy said he will present a list of suggested reforms to be made to the party, including changing the system for electing party leader to one member, one vote, upon offering his resignation at the next meeting of its national executive in June. Murphy also said he will not stand for the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 and will “do something else”.

Jim Murphy in 2009.
Image: Steve Punter.

At a meeting in the Scottish city Glasgow yesterday, the party’s national executive held a vote of no confidence in Murphy; he won by 17 votes to 14. “Today I received more support in the executive vote than I did from members of the executive when I stood for election five months ago”, Murphy said. Murphy became Scottish Labour leader in December 2014, following Johann Lamont‘s resignation from the role. Until Scottish Labour holds a fresh leadership election — its sixth in a span of eight years — Kezia Dugdale, currently the party’s deputy leader, is to assume the role of acting leader for the time being. Murphy cited concerns about Scottish Labour being divided as a contributory factor to his decision. “Scotland needs a strong Labour party; Scotland needs a united Labour party”, he said yesterday. “We have been the greatest force for change in our nation’s remarkable history. The Scottish Labour party will rise again. It will be under someone else’s leadership and I am confident about my party’s future.”

The announcement came nine days after the party lost all but one of its 41 Scottish seats, including Murphy’s East Renfrewshire constituency, to the Scottish National Party (SNP) in a UK general election, and eight days after Ed Miliband said he would stand down as leader of the UK Labour Party.

There was controversy regarding whether Murphy should retain his role following this performance. Labour Party supporters were reportedly asked to sign a letter supporting Murphy’s leadership, to be presented at the executive meeting yesterday. Calls for Murphy to resign came from multiple quarters, including trade unions Unite and ASLEF, as well as Labour MSPs Alex Rowley and Elaine Smith. Earlier in the week, Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said “the anti-Scottish card that was played by Lynton Crosby and the Conservatives” had caused them to win a majority in the general election, before going on to say: “I lay the blame for that very squarely at the feet of Scottish Labour. Not only have they lost Scotland but I think they’ve been responsible for making certain that the Conservatives were back in power in Westminster.” However, trade unions USDAW and Community were amongst those supporting Murphy’s continued leadership.

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In a speech, Murphy suggested he did he did not want the party to be divided as a result of his leadership. “It is clear that the small minority who didn’t accept my election as party leader by the majority five months ago also won’t accept the vote of the Executive today and will continue to divide the party if I remain”, he said. Murphy singled out McCluskey for criticism, claiming to have “been at the centre of a campaign by the London leadership of the Unite union in blaming myself and the Scottish Labour party for the defeat of the UK Labour party in the general election. That is a grotesque insult to the Scottish Labour party.” He went on to criticise what he called McCluskey’s “destructive behaviour”, commenting that: “Whether in Scotland, or in the contest to come across the UK, we cannot have our leaders selected or deselected by the grudges and grievances of one prominent man. The leader of the Scottish Labour Party doesn’t serve at the grace of Len McCluskey and the next leader of the UK Labour Party should not be picked by Len McCluskey.”

Reacting to the news, SNP leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “I wish Jim Murphy all the very best for the future. Leadership is not easy and he deserves credit for standing up for what he believes in.” Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “Credit to [Murphy]. He stepped up and energetically campaigned for his beliefs. I wish him the best for the future.” Harriet Harman, the acting leader of the UK Labour Party, said Murphy had been a “hugely important figure” for them, adding: “Jim has given so much to the Labour Party over the last twenty years. He, I know reluctantly, took the responsibility for leading Scottish Labour at the most difficult election they have ever faced. He did so with incredible energy, purpose and dignity […] He leaves with the best wishes and thanks of our movement.”

Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie was more critical in his response, arguing the Greens should be the opposition of the Scottish Parliament instead. Harvie said Murphy’s resignation was “almost inevitable, but even as he announced it he promised to further weaken Labour’s relationship with the wider labour movement. People haven’t left Labour because of the trade unions, but because the party itself long ago strayed from its principles. Without a clear sense of purpose, it has seemed to care only about holding office instead of creating new ideas for a better society. It’s clear that the Scottish Parliament needs an opposition that’s creative and challenging, but which can act constructively too.”

Scottish Conservative Party leader Ruth Davidson tweeted: “Jim Murphy announces a managed exit in order to help the party, which is to his credit. But leaves a tough gig for whoever comes next.”

Wikinews asked Unite the Union to comment on the story and has yet to receive a response. However, Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scotland leader, earlier stated: “Jim has done the decent thing. Scottish Labour needs to recover, re-engage and reform. It can now begin that process.”

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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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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

Scotland
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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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February 6, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: February 6, 2009

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, February 6, 2009.

Help Wikinews! Contribute to Wikinews by expanding these briefs or add a new one.

Clarkson calls British Prime Minister Gordon a ‘one-eyed Scottish idiot’

British television presenter and newspaper columnist Jeremy Clarkson has told journalists in Sydney, Australia, that UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a “one-eyed Scottish idiot”.

The remark caused outrage amongst Scottish Labour politicians with some calling for the BBC to sack him. Clarkson has since apologised.

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U.S. gay spouses entitled to benefits, says judge

U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Stephen Reinhardt has ruled that same-sex marriages must be treated the same as straight marriages by authorities when it comes to healthcare and benefits rights. He also said that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional.

The judge was ruling in a specific administrative dispute process, so the judgment does not set a wider precedent.

Sources


Royal Bank of Scotland fires non-execs

The troubled Royal Bank of Scotland, now 68% controlled by the UK government, has fired seven non-executive directors from the pre-credit crunch era.

The bank is about to report losses of £28 billion and has been under fire for plans to pay bonuses to the trading staff who generated them.

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Icelandic retailer Baugur in trouble

Baugur, the Icelandic retail giant, has failed to get bankruptcy protection from its creditors at home and has placed its British arm in administration.

The group, which owns or has stakes in a large number of British High Street famous names, is being pursued for the equivalent of £1 billion in Iceland by the recently nationalized Landsbanki.

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May 4, 2007

Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

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Friday, May 4, 2007

Debating chamber in Scottish Parliament building
Image: Pschemp.

The Scottish National Party (SNP), which supports Scottish independence from the UK, has pulled off a historic, albeit narrow, victory in yesterday’s Scottish elections.

In the third Scottish election since the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, the left of centre SNP beat the ruling Labour Party by a single seat. It won 47 seats, while Labour won 46, down from the current 50.

It is the first time since the parliament opened that Labour has been beaten, and the first time in fifty years that they have not had a majority of Scottish constituency seats in any election.

SNP leader Alex Salmond declared: “Scotland has changed for good and forever.” He added that the Labour Party had “lost the moral authority to govern Scotland.”

The current First Minister of Scotland, Jack McConnell of Labour said: “While I recognise that the SNP are the largest party by the narrowest of margins, Alex Salmond must himself recognise that he does not have a majority in the Scottish Parliament or anywhere near a majority of the vote.”

It is believed that many factors caused the Labour vote to slump and the SNP vote to rise, including the war in Iraq and the renewal of Trident, which are both unpopular in Scotland.

The election also raises a serious dilemma for the Labour party’s Gordon Brown, a Scotsman widely tipped to succeed Tony Blair as the next prime minister of the United Kingdom. Brown is vehement in his support of the Union, and is a Westminster (London parliament) MP for Kirkcaldy. An SNP government in Scotland will find itself facing the very Labour party it beat in power in London.

Turnout was up 2% on the last Scottish election.

Controversy

The election was highly controversial, not least for having three separate systems, running in tandem –

  • A constituency vote, which was “first past the post”, and for a candidate.
  • A regional list vote, which was additional member system, and was for a party.
  • A local authority (council) vote, which was Single Transferable Vote, and in which parties could field more than one candidate in a ward.

The three systems, along with difficulties with electronic counting meant that maybe as many as one hundred thousand ballot papers were “spoiled”. In addition, there was also huge problems with the postal vote.

Due to the extensive computer problems, votes had to be cancelled early on Friday morning, and postponed to later in the day.

Many other problems beset the election, with a helicopter from the Western Isles constituency being held up by fog, and a boat carrying ballot papers from the Isle of Arran, breaking down in the Firth of Clyde.

Other parties

In addition to the SNP and Labour, the other parties results’ were as follows –

  • Conservative and Unionist – 17 members.
  • Liberal Democrats – 16 members.
  • Scottish Greens – 2 members.
  • Independent – 1 (Margo MacDonald, formerly of the SNP)

The Scottish Socialist Party, Solidarity and the Scottish Senior Citizens Unity Party were all wiped out.

In order to establish a majority in the Scottish Parliament, the SNP must form a coalition with one or more of these parties. The Liberal Democrats, who were in coalition with the Labour party in the first two terms of the Scottish parliament, are a possibility.

Other parties that campaigned for seats in Holyrood included the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the British National Party (BNP), the Scottish Unionist Party, the Scottish Socialist Labour Party, the Christian Peoples Alliance and the Scottish Christian Party.

Gains and losses

The Scottish National Party, while not gaining the landslide it had wished for, made breakthroughs in Glasgow (Govan), Edinburgh (Edinburgh East) and also took both seats in Dundee.

The Liberal Democrats gained seats in Dunfermline West, but their losses mean the number of seats they hold is unchanged.

Wales and England

While the Scottish election was going on, the Welsh were also having their election for the Welsh Assembly. Plaid Cymru gained a seat from Labour at Llanelli. The Conservatives had their best showing since the Assembly began.

The final results show that the membership for the new assembly will be:-

Labour 26 -4 Plaid Cymru 15 +3 Conservatives 12 +1 Liberal Democrats 6 – Independent 1 –

In England, the elections were more minor, dealing only with local authorities. However they can be an important indicator of how battleground seats might go in the General Election, expected in 2-3 years time. The Conservatives made the greatest gains, but did not make the breakthrough in Northern England that they would have hoped. The Liberal Democrats did not make the advances that they had hoped, and stayed at more or less the same level. Elsewhere, Cornish regionalists Mebyon Kernow gained an extra seat bringing their total to seven, and the Eurosceptic United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and Liberal Party (not to be confused with the Liberal Democrats) gained seats in several areas of England.

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