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November 7, 2014

Edinburgh\’s \’Million Mask March\’ flies distinctly Scottish colours

Edinburgh’s ‘Million Mask March’ flies distinctly Scottish colours

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Amongst other Guy Fawkes Night partying, the now-regular march to the Scottish Parliament by Anonymous saw significantly higher attendance, Wednesday, at this year’s event. With Catalan flags and pro-Independence Saltires flying, activist numbers had clearly been swelled by the referendum result.

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Banner — later used to lead the march — laid out on the Castle Esplanade before setting off.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police waiting, on the adjacent Johnston Terrace, prior to the march setting off.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Saltires by moonlight, as the growd gathers on the Castle Esplanade.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Anonymous Scotland banner surrounded by group of protesters.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Independence supporters mingling with masked members of Anonymous.
Image: Brian McNeil.

As the march prepares to set off, the banner is raised and the crowd asked to assemble behind it.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd heading off Esplanade, with the Outlook Tower Camera obscura to top-right of frame.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police Scotland watch as the crowd progresses down Edinburgh’s High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Walking down Castle Hill on the Royal Mile.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Edinburgh Castle as backdrop to the crowd leaving the Esplanade.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Further down Edinburgh’s High Street, with the banner passing the High Court.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd progressing down Edinburgh’s High Street towards the Scottish Parliament
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing the top of Cockburn Street on the Royal Mile.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing the top of Cockburn Street on the Royal Mile.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd progressing down Edinburgh’s High Street towards the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A Police van leads the procession down the bottom-half of the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

March walking down The Canongate.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Passing Edinburgh’s New Street, which leads down to the City of Edinburgh Council‘s Waverley Court HQ.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Marchers walking down Edinburgh’s High Street towards Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The March progresses through the city’s Canongate area.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Regardless of chanting, which included taunts over the lack of BBC presence, marchers were in good spirits.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd outside the Scottish Parliament was a wide mix of ages.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Not all who took part wore Guy Fawkes masks.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Most of the crowd were well wrapped-up to guard against the night air chill.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Catalan independence flag flying as part of the protest at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Police Scotland were conspicuous amongst the crowd, although not present in large numbers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Catalan independence flag flying as part of the protest at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some protesters self-identified as part of the 45% of the Scottish electorate who voted Yes to Independence.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pro-Independence sentiment was highly-visible amongst protesters at the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some banners were particularly direct with their message.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Several humorous Independence-related tropes were on display.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some banners were particularly direct with their message.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Several humorous Independence-related tropes were on display, although the protest was good-natured throughout.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Free paper masks were being handed out to those not prepared to buy mass-manufactured ones.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters waiting for the event’s speakers whilst PA problems were sorted out.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Guy McV at the protest outside the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd walking across grassy area between Parliament and Queen’s Drive.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters waiting for the event’s speakers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Kilted protester with Saltire mask.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters waiting for the event’s speakers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Kilted protester with Saltire mask.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Banner with Scottish Parliament partially visible in the background.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Much of the crowd treated the gathering at the Parliament like a party.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Attendee filming the event, with Parliament building in the background.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Wrapped up against the cold, outside the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Many draped themselves in Scotland’s flag, the Saltire.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Staring through a paper mask into the camera.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Not all present were overly-concerned with the cold weather.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protesters outside the Scottish Parliament after marching from Edinburgh Castle
Image: Brian McNeil.

Speakers address the assembled crowd after some technical difficulties with the PA system.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A documentary-maker films the protest speakers.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A few of the collected donations intended for a local food bank.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Many treated the protest more like a party.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Protested, with beard jutting out below Guy Fawkes mask.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The crowd listening to speakers at the Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.




Related news

  • “Scotland says ‘No’ in independence referendum” — Wikinews, September 19, 2014

Sources

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This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
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September 10, 2014

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce second pregnancy

Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announce second pregnancy

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2012.
Image: Carfax.

Kensington Palace announced on Monday that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, is pregnant with a second child after the onset of acute morning sickness led to her cancelling an engagement at Oxford University, where the couple were due to open a new centre for the study of China.

Prime Minister David Cameron expressed his congratulations: “Many congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I’m delighted by the happy news that they’re expecting another baby.”

Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband also congratulated the couple: “Fantastic to hear that Prince George will soon be a big brother. Congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their happy news.”

A number of media outlets speculate the announcement of the Royal baby may influence the outcome of the Scottish independence referendum later this month, suggesting it may encourage people to vote to stay in the Union.



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August 27, 2014

Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Wikinews wanders the Referendum-year Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

With many venues reporting sell-out shows, the 68th year of the Edinburgh Festival attracted visitors from around the globe. Wikinews‘ Brian McNeil roamed the city for the four weeks of the event, capturing the colour, spectacle, and comedy, in photos.

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Visitors crowd onto Edinburgh’s High Street, adjacent to the Tron Kirk, for the first day of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A street performer sets up in Hunter Square, next to one of the city’s golden postboxes, unpacking paraffin for his act.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View across Edinburgh’s High Street (Royal Mile) onto the top of Cockburn Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A musician prepared for Scotland’s unpredictable weather at the side of the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Tron pub, next to the top of Blair Street, advertises live comedy in the basement, along with their 3am license.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A performer balances on top of a bollard just inside the pedestrianised part of the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Tourists on the High Street for the 2014 fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Tourists mingle with performers handing out fliers on the Edinburgh High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Track-suited performers wait to go onstage in the High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A troupe performs for the crowd in traditional dress.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A troupe performs for the crowd in traditional dress.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers on Edinburgh’s High Street for the Festival Fringe 2014. In the distance, the Firth of Forth.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowd looks on as performer spins disk on a stick before throwing it high into the air.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performer throwing spinning disk from stick into the air.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performer throws spinning disk high overhead.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Fliers and posters advertise a few of the shows on-offer at this year’s Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Stall selling tied-balloon creations with Fringe show fliers as backdrop.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Edinburgh’s ‘Auld Reekie Tours’ (Venue 129) advertising their underground and graveyard tours of the city.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Food stall situated at the side of the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Blackboards list the day’s, and tommorrow’s, performances on the doors of the Tron Kirk in Edinburgh’s High Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The bar, with stained-glass window backdrop, inside the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva, more-used to busking, performs inside the Tron Kirk on the Fringe’s opening day.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva performing in the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh fringe 2014.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Susana Silva performing in the Tron Kirk, Edinburgh fringe 2014.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley with Michael Dodds on Cajon.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Pat Dennis, Sean O’Malley and Michael Dodds performing in the Tron Kirk.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Crowds in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket for the 2014 Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Street performers in the Grassmarket.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Bruce Fummey performing his 2014 Fringe show, “Aaah’m Votin YES” in The Beehive.
Image: Brian McNeil.

A few minutes walk from The Beehive, a busker plays with an array of effects pedals.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View down the Grassmarket from the West Bow end.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of St John’s at the west end of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some people at the art & craft fair, in the grounds of St John’s, enjoying themselves despite a downpour
Image: Brian McNeil.

One of the city’s tour buses, at the west-end of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the Festival Wheel, situated in Princes Street Gardens.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Various festivals take place in Edinburgh throughout the summer, including the The Guardian-sponsored Book Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

View of the castle, with posters for Festival shows on the railings of Princes Street Gardens.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Chalk art outisde the Scottish National Archives at the East-End of Princes Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Banner for The Caves, just off the Cowgate.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Cowshed in Edinburgh’s Cowgate; a venue well-liked by performers, apart from the beer prices.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Musician walking up Niddry Street, with guitar in hard case.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The Blind Poet, in Edinburgh’s West Nicholson Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Bar staff, working in The Blind Poet on Nicholson Street.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Baz Simpson, who organised The Wolf Sessions at The Blind Poet; before, and during, The Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Baz Simpson, who organised The Wolf Sessions at The Blind Poet; before, and during, The Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Performers in the Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street, last Saturday of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Aaron Robbie Wright, performing in The Blind Poet on the last Sunday of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Aaron Robbie Wright, performing in The Blind Poet on the last Sunday of the 2014 Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

The High Street’s taxi rank stretches from the top of Niddry Street halfway to the Scottish Parliament.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Unfortunately, trouble at the High Street taxi rank is not uncommon – regardless of the festival being on, or not.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Fringe performers, and flier distributors, come in all shapes and sizes.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Some artists continued distributing fliers right up until the last couple of days of the Festival Fringe.
Image: Brian McNeil.

Age is no barrier to busking during the Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.

With so many visitors, rubbish (garbage) is somewhat of an issue during the Festival.
Image: Brian McNeil.


Sources

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This article is a featured article. It is considered one of the best works of the Wikinews community. See Wikinews:Featured articles for more information.
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June 6, 2014

Queen\’s Speech sets out Coalition government\’s final year agenda

Queen’s Speech sets out Coalition government’s final year agenda

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Friday, June 6, 2014

File:Queen Elizabeth II delivering 2013 Queen’s Speech.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II, opening Parliament in a similar event last year.
Image: VOA.
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Queen Elizabeth II formally reopened Parliament on Wednesday and announced the legislative agenda of the UK government for the final year of the Coalition’s five year term. New measures introduced covered crime, the economy, energy and house building.

Business and economy

The next year of legislative changes would, the speech claimed, “deliver on [the government’s] long-term plan to build a stronger economy and a fairer society”. On economics, it promised the government would continue to lower taxes, produce an updated Charter for Budget Responsibility to “ensure that future governments spend taxpayers’ money responsibly”, and continue reduction of the deficit.

On employment law, the Queen’s Speech announced reduction in employment tribunal delays and plans to try and “improve the fairness of contracts for low paid workers” — a response to “zero-hours” contracts. The Institute of Directors support reforms to zero-hours contracts, specifically by removing “exclusivity” clauses. The speech also announced the introduction of a “collective pension” system similar to schemes in use in the Netherlands.

The government is also to increase penalties on companies that do not pay employees minimum wage, and reform National Insurance contributions by self-employed people. The government also plans to extend the ISA and Premium Bond savings schemes and abolish the 10% tax rate on savings. The speech also promised more house building, and also to introduce legislation to reduce the use of plastic bags.

Crime and law

The speech announced the government would seek to pass a new Serious Crime Bill “to tackle child neglect, disrupt serious organised crime and strengthen powers to seize the proceeds of crime”. Another bill will be introduced to deal with modern slavery and human trafficking and to support victims of these offences. The speech also said the government “will lead efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict worldwide”.

The Serious Crime Bill would also include an increase in the sentence for those who bring about “cyberattacks which result in loss of life, serious illness or injury or serious damage to national security, or a significant risk thereof”. Under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, these are currently subject to a ten year prison sentence, but the punishment would now risk imprisonment for life. Punishment for cyberattacks that cause “a significant risk of severe economic or environmental damage or social disruption” would increase from the current ten year maximum tariff to fourteen years.

Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group said existing laws already allow effective prosecution of those engaging in cyberattacks.

The speech also announced legislation would be introduced “to provide that where a person acts heroically, responsibly or for the benefit of others, this will be taken into account by the courts”.

Constituents would be able to “recall” an MP who had been found guilty of misconduct under a proposed law that will be debated. The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith described the current plans as “meaningless” and said voters had been “duped”. The Bill would force a by-election if 10% of voters signed a petition within eight weeks, but only if a Commons committee had decided the MP could be recalled. This latter requirement will make it “impossible to recall anyone” according to Goldsmith.

Business minister Michael Fallon defended the recall proposals: “we have to protect MPs from being recalled by people who just disagree with them[…] What you have to ensure is an MP can’t be hounded out just because people disagree with them back in their constituency.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he agreed with Goldsmith the bill was not perfect, and he wanted “a radical California-style recall” system, but he had settled for a “modest” bill to satisfy “Conservative Party resistance”. Goldsmith claimed Clegg had been “the architect of the current Recall Bill”.

Tim Aker, head of policy for the UK Independence Party, said: “The decision to only offer recall voting on a signed-off-by-Parliament-basis reflects a political class that does not know, does not trust and certainly does not represent its people.”

Fracking

Green MP Caroline Lucas spoke in opposition to the government’s fracking proposals.
Image: The Health Hotel.

The speech included measures to make it easier for businesses to engage in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of shale gas. The Institute of Directors said laws “must be updated if the UK is to enjoy the benefits of our shale potential”, specifically by scrapping laws on trespass to allow the gas extraction to occur. The British Chamber of Commerce also support such a reform: “While fracking may be unpalatable to some, it is absolutely essential, and business will support legislative measures to exploit Britain’s shale gas deposits”. Activists from Greenpeace fenced off Prime Minister David Cameron’s home in Oxfordshire with a sign reading “We apologise for any inconvenience while we frack under your home”, and delivered a £50 cheque — identified as the maximum compensation suggested for property owners.

Simon Clydedale from Greenpeace UK said of the fracking proposals: “The prime minister is about to auction off over half of Britain to the frackers, including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty like the Cotswolds. Fracking won’t deliver energy on a meaningful scale for years, if ever, by which time we’ll need to have moved away from dirty fossil fuels and towards high-tech clean power if we’re to head off dangerous climate change.”

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, spoke in opposition to the fracking proposals after the Queen’s Speech: “Not only does this bill defy public opinion, it denies people a voice. To allow fracking companies to drill under people’s homes and land without their permission is to ignore public interest in pursuit of the vested interests of a few.” A poll conducted by YouGov found 74% of respondents opposed the plans.

Reaction

Following the Queen’s Speech, politicians from all parties debated the direction of the government in the year ahead.

Prime Minister David Cameron said that the Queen’s Speech showcased “a packed programme of a busy and radical government”, whose “long-term economic plan is working but there is much, much more to do”, and it would “take the rest of this Parliament and the next to finish the task of turning our country around”.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “We would have a Queen’s Speech with legislation which would make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills and build homes again in Britain. A Queen’s Speech which signals a new direction for Britain, not one which offers more of the same.”

Cameron described Miliband as having a “rag bag, pick-and-mix selection of statist Seventies ideas [… a] revival of Michael Foot‘s policies paid for by Len McCluskey‘s money” — a reference to controversies surrounding the substantial funding Labour gets from trade union Unite.

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron said of the Queen’s Speech: “I suspect the pensions proposals will be around for a generation or more and will be remembered. It’s about making sure they are fairer, cheaper, more secure, more reliable and potentially better for people.”

Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd said: “This was an uninspired Queen’s Speech delivered by a government that has well and truly run out of steam.”

Angus Robertson, the leader of the Scottish National Party in Westminster, said the Queen’s Speech barely mentioned Scotland: “The absence of any mention at all of the Westminster parties’ plans for Scotland in the Queen’s Speech is extraordinary. […] In this – the year of the biggest opportunity in Scotland’s history – Scotland hardly even gets a nod at Westminster, and not a single mention of future plans for improving government in Scotland.”

The speech made brief mention of Scotland: “My government will continue to implement new financial powers for the Scottish Parliament and make the case for Scotland to remain a part of the United Kingdom.”



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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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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

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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.



Sources

Wikinews
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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May 4, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: May 4, 2007

Wikinews Shorts: May 4, 2007 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: May 4, 2007

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A compilation of brief news reports for Friday, May 4, 2007.

Newspaper accuses Ahmadinejad of indecency

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been accused of “indecency and violating religious values” for embracing and kissing the hand of an elderly woman – his former schoolteacher – to express his gratitude.

The Iranian Hezbollah newspaper issued a statement saying, “The Muslim Iranian people have no recollection of such acts contrary to Shariah law during Islamic rule.” The Iranian government instituted Shariah law soon after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Ahmadinejad has been criticised in the past for his objections to the enforcement of hijab and for permitting women to attend soccer matches.

Sources


Campaigning drawing to a close for French presidential candidates

Logo of the French Republic

Ségolène Royal (Socialist Party) and Nicolas Sarkozy (UMP) made their final appeals to voters today.

Campaigning is not allowed tomorrow or on the day of voting, which will take place on Sunday, May 6.

Royal, who has been falling behind in the polls, said, “It is my responsibility today to alert people to the risk of [his] candidature with regards to the violence and brutality that would be unleashed in the country [if he won],” specifically referring to the type of violence seen in the 2005 civil unrest.

Sarkozy responded in a radio interview with Europe 1: “She’s not in a good mood this morning. It must be the opinion polls… She’s finishing in violence, in a certain state of feverishness. When I hear her remarks, I wonder why a woman of her qualities carries such violent feelings. It adds nothing to the debate.”

Sources



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Scottish elections: SNP gains 20 seats

Scottish Parliament Building
Please also see a full article at: Party supporting Scottish independence from UK wins elections

Following yesterday’s parliamentary election, the Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Alex Salmond, became the largest party in the new Scottish Parliament. The SNP is committed to hold a referendum on Scottish independence by 2010.

After a confusing day, in an election marred by many thousands of rejected ballot papers, the party has a 1 seat advantage over the Scottish Labour Party (SLP) who have controlled the Executive for the last 8 years.

For Salmond to become take the position of First Minister from SLP’s Jack McConnell he needs to gain the support of another party. Only the Scottish Conservative Party and the Scottish Liberal Democrats (the current junior partner of the SLP) are large enough.

The parliament election was held on a combined ‘first past the post’ and Party List system, at the same time as local council elections, (which do not have the same constituencies) and used, for the first time, a Single Transferable Vote system. This appears to have confused many voters and led to a high number of spoilt papers.

Sources


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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.

Sources

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has more about this subject:
Scottish Parliament election, 2007
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