Labour make £100 billion general election pledge to Scotland

The Labour Party have promised over £100 billion to Scotland in the next decade if they win the general election on December 12.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said that the investment would be a chance for the “people of Scotland to break free from the failed policies of the Tories in Westminster”.

He said: “This extra investment will provide the funding that Scottish Labour would use to build 120,000 new council and social homes, invest £6 billion in retrofitting homes to the highest energy efficiency standards, and bring dignity back to care workers and care users alike with a 25 per cent increase in investment in social care.

“This investment is the transformation that only a UK Labour government can make. This is the difference a UK Labour Government can make to Scotland. There is one way to challenge the failed status quo on December 12, and that is a vote for Scottish Labour.”

Labour have just seven MPs from Scotland, but they know that they must improve that number if they want to hand Jeremy Corbyn the keys to Number 10 come December 13.

Scotland was once a heartland for Labour in their glory days of electoral success in the nineties, and they must try again to come and take seats from both the Conservatives and Scottish National Party.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn launched his party’s manifesto on Thursday.

The money Scotland would receive will be split into three areas; National Investment Bank (£20bn), National Transformation Funds (£30bn) and Barnett Formula consequentials (£50bn).

In a passionate and heartfelt speech at the launch of Labour’s manifesto, the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn also pleaded with people to vote and make sure they had told family and friends to register on the electoral ballot.

He said: “The first step is to make sure you are registered to vote, if you are not registered then do it today.

“Vote for yourself and your family, vote for your community, vote for the person who is struggling who you don’t even know. Vote for the mother falling into debt because she has to fork out for her children going to university.”

To combat the ever-increasing housing crisis, Labour also announced that they would build over 100,000 homes by the end of their first term in power. This would complement the 50,000 homes for social housing through associations.

Prince Andrew to step back from public appearances

Prince Andrew has announced that he will be stepping back from public duties amid the ongoing scandal engulfing The Duke of York.

His friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein has led many to ask questions of the Prince and his wider role as part of the Royal family.

Jeffrey Epstein was arrested again in July of this year and was denied bail ahead of his trial. Epstein died in his prison cell on 10th August and his death was ruled as suicide. If he had lived to stand trial, Epstein could have faced up to 45 years in prison. It was after this that allegations began to surface against Prince Andrew.

The second son of Her Majesty is accused of sexual misconduct with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts in April of 2001. The Prince has denied these claims and tried to clear the air in a tell-all interview on BBC Newsnight this Saturday, however despite sitting down with presenter Emily Maitlis, the public were left with more questions than answers.

In the 60 minute interview with Maitlis, Prince Andrew denied any memory of meeting, dining, dancing and having sexual relations with Roberts in a nightclub in 2001.

Tramp nightclub is in Mayfair
(credit: geograph.org.uk)

In a statement released by The Duke of York on Wednesday, he chose not to go into detail but stated his reason for stepping back from public view.

He said: “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein have become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.”

More than 20 companies, including Barclays, KPMG and the English National Ballet, had all distanced themselves from the Prince.

He still strenuously denies any involvement with Jeffrey Epstein. The Prince also claims to have no knowledge of the trafficking of young girls to Europe and Epstein’s private island on the US Virgin Islands.

The conversation around Prince Andrew and Epstein began gaining traction after a Channel 4 Dispatches entitled ‘The Prince and the Paedophile‘. It documented the interviews of Epstein’s victims as well as hearing from Virginia Roberts who spoke of her nights with the Prince.

 

Princes Street presents Poundland: Does it reflect the decline of Britain’s high streets?

Poundland opened its Princes Street store on November 16 (Credit: @edinspotlight)

The opening of Poundland’s new flagship store on Princes Street has split residents of Edinburgh, writes Darren McConachie

The site officially opened last weekend and has already drawn both praise and criticism in equal measure.

Many of those who frequent the shops of Princes Street believe that a Poundland opening is the first step towards losing the prestige that so many feel the street holds.

Businesswoman Jane McAllister is one of the residents who feels that there were better options for the site, including the addition of a restaurant or another cafe.

She said: “Whilst I understand the argument that Poundland will allow people to buy things, I think that other faculties could have been put to use there.

“It is clear that Princes Street is no longer what it once was.”

However, many others are delighted to see the shop open its doors to welcome the masses.

Calum Campbell, a student at Edinburgh University, has hailed Poundland for the opening and thinks that it will benefit everyone in the area.

He said: “I’m confused why people are moaning about this. It’s just a shop with plenty of other shops.

“As a student, I’m not going to knock having a Poundland around that means I can spend less and get more. That is exactly what the customer wants.”

While opinion is split, Poundland will no doubt continue selling from their new shop where the only big issue will be if they can make people think differently about shopping in a discount store.

The mindset may shift someday soon, but until then it seems that students and those who don’t mind a bargain will be propping up the aisles of Princes Street’s newest boutique.

Could ‘Black Friday’ be the saving grace for Britain’s high streets?

Analysis by Josh McConnellogue

It is no secret that Britain’s once glorious high street is in decline.

But with stores like House of Fraser, Maplin and Poundworld all collapsing in 2018, could ‘Black Friday’ be the key to bringing back much-needed investment?

Sigma, a user experience agency, showed that purchases made on ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ gave the British retail sector a massive £7 billion cash injection in 2018.

However, in-store retail spending over the ‘Black Friday’ shopping period dropped by 7% in 2018.

So why the dramatic decline?

Suggestions are that instead of heading to a crowded high-street, and facing the prospect of low stock or dealing with stressed out retail workers, consumers are staying in the comfort of their own homes – unrestricted by the high street opening hours – and are ordering online whenever they want.
In addition, with more and more retailers investing heavily online, customers have a wider selection from their phones than in-store.

Household names like Karen Millen, Jack Wills, Bathstore, Patisserie Valerie, Coast and Debenhams have all gone into administration this year.

The switch from in-store to online is evident with online clothing site Boohoo snapping up Karen Millen and Coast to open them as online retailers only, contributing to record highs in empty shops.

WHY ‘MAN UP’ MENTALITY NEEDS TO STOP

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

There are many struggles to navigate in the 21st century, from working enough to afford next month’s rent as well as trying not to live too sedentary a lifestyle. However whilst physical health is important, all too often mental health is overlooked and, at times, men will be reluctant to discuss their problems. One phrase that cuts deeper than most is ‘man up’.

Often used as a throwaway term by people who presumably don’t give it a second thought, the phrase can burrow deep into the psyche of other men.

Those who have unknown struggles being told to ‘man up’ forces them to reconsider everything: the way they are viewed, the respect they are given, the esteem in which they are held. That is the issue with mental health, nobody can know how other people feel and whilst the small roots of conversation are starting to sprout, there is still some way to go.

Liam Robertson, 25, has in the past faced struggles with his mental health. After a few months of counselling he had begun to feel like himself again, the fog had begun to dissipate. However after an argument with a friend he was told to ‘man up’.

“It’s difficult to explain exactly how you feel when you hear the words. There is a twist in your stomach and I didn’t know whether to cry or punch a wall,” Liam said.

The reason for the emotion is to suggest they are not man enough or a ‘real’ man. It particularly hurts more when people are aware that others have gone through struggles with their mental health.

It must be said that to speak out about any struggle requires a great deal of bravery, as many people I spoke with for this article admitted to suffering in silence, before they eventually came up for that life affirming breath of air.

One such person was Iain McKenzie, a hardworking student who would sit in his house for days at a time when depressive episodes would hit him. For many months, nobody close to him knew of the issues that he faced until one day he opened up to his friends whilst sitting at the pub.

The first conversation is always the hardest, and with his support network established, he was able to talk to his doctor and begin to build his life back up.

“This time last year I felt as though there was no way out,” Iain told me.

“[My friends] would send a text and I would reply that I was fine, but in reality I was just sitting in my house, counting the hours until the next day began and the cycle repeated. Now though, life just seems so much better, in part, thanks to the help offered by my doctor.”

Lee Cambule, author and mental health campaigner, recently spoke to MPs about the challenges men and boys face in overcoming boundaries when it comes to their own mental health.

“There’s this perception of men that they should ‘man up’ and ‘just get on with it’, that they should be strong in the face of this adversity, and this makes it very difficult for them to then open up and seek help,” Cambule told MPs at the Women and Equalities Committee.

There are people who no doubt say ‘man up’ who mean no harm but the issue isn’t whether or not offence is meant. The phrase is harmful to the psyche and does nothing to help any man who has previously struggled or may yet have struggles with mental health in their lifetime.

At times life can feel like an uphill struggle. If people just took a moment to pause and think about the power of their words then nobody would try to scale the mountain of ‘man up’.

To learn more about how traditional gender roles are affecting our society today, check out our podcast discussing the issue of shared parental leave here.

Struggling Hearts face on-form Rangers in the Betfred Cup semi-final

Craig Levein takes his Hearts side west to Hampden Park this Sunday to meet Steven Gerrard’s Rangers team in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup. Both sides will be hoping to win a place in the final as neither has lifted silverware since 2012. 

Hearts won their place in the semi by knocking out Aberdeen on penalties after an enthralling 2-2 draw. Rangers were victorious in West Lothian defeating Livingston by a goal to nil. 

When the sides walk out at Hampden, Rangers will be overwhelming favourites to win the tie as they sit level at the top of the Scottish Premiership having only had one defeat this season – to their rivals Celtic. 

Hearts, meanwhile, are currently second bottom in the league. Last night, they lost 1-0 in Perth to St Johnstone, and they have only picked up 23 league points in the whole of 2019. However, the Jambos will take heart from the fact that they held Rangers to a draw in Gorgie a fortnight ago and should aim to use the same tactics they did on that occasion. This will mean a big day for talisman striker Uche Ikpeazu who was a handful for the Rangers defence in Edinburgh.

If Hearts can somehow make the most of Ikpeazu’s hold up play and get players beyond him, they may think that this will not be their last appearance at Hampden this season.

The Ibrox side go into this fixture on the back of a convincing 4-0 victory over Ross County in Dingwall, with Ryan Jack and Alfredo Morelos scoring braces.

Rangers, confident as they will be, are not going to overlook Hearts and will know what to expect. If the midfield – led by an inspired Ryan Jack – can make use of the width of the Hampden pitch, then it will allow for wingers Ryan Kent and Sheyi Ojo to try and enjoy their respective one-on-one match up against the defenders in maroon. If Jermain Defoe and Alfredo Morelos continue firing goals for fun then, this could turn into a very long Sunday afternoon for Levein’s men. 

They will be looking to break a hoodoo of sorts at this stage of the competition. In the past three seasons, Rangers have lost in the semi-final of the Betfred Cup, losing to Celtic, Motherwell and Aberdeen.

 

 

Edinburgh mum planning hunger strike in effort for Government to help her son

An Edinburgh mum has today spoken of her desperation ahead of her hunger strike which aims to pressure the Government into funding her son’s medication.

Karen Gray, 44, uses oil that comes from a whole cannabis plant, which is illegal in the United Kingdom, to treat her son Murray’s epilepsy. The prescription of Bedrolite and Bedrocan costs around £1200 a month which Ms. Gray has been crowdfunding since her son was given the prescription by a Dutch doctor in March.

Murray now attends school regularly with friends and hasn’t had a seizure in over 100 days, however, this still is not enough for a doctor to sign off on the prescription in this country.

The Government has not yet allowed for the prescription to be made available on the NHS and so along with seventeen others from campaign group End Our Pain, Ms. Gray is heading to Downing Street to begin a hunger strike from November 1st.

Ms. Gray said: “We’re in a desperate situation, we’ve absolutely had enough. We feel like we’ve got no option and we have to do something drastic. The government needs to step in and provide funding until the prescriptions are sorted out.”

 

The hunger strike is not the only form of fundraising that the Edinburgh mum has undertaken. Previously she has taken part in a sponsored walk across the Forth Road Bridge, as well as having a race night in November.

Edinburgh-born Taylor eyes World Champion belt

Josh Taylor has spoken of his ambition as he aims to become unified champion of the world and the undisputed super-lightweight king ahead of his fight against Regis Prograis on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London.

‘The Tartan Tornado’ arrives into the fight as the slight underdog against his American opponent who boasts a record of 24-0-0, with twenty wins coming by way of knockout. Taylor by contrast has a record of 15-0-0 with twelve knockouts.

He rose to prominence by stunning up and coming superstar Ohara Davies in the summer of 2017, forcing the Englishman to turn his back on the Scotsman. This victory allowed Taylor to be entered into the Muhammad Ali trophy at the expense of Davies and with victories over Ryan Martin and then Ivan Baranchyk he now finds himself just thirty-six minutes from unified super-lightweight glory.

The fight itself will not be easy, Regis Prograis has been favoured to win this tournament since the first round. The Louisiana native admitted that Taylor will be the toughest fight to date but he expects nothing less than a win when so much is on the line.

Speaking on The Gloves Are Off he said: “I feel I can do everything. Whatever I feel like doing in the ring, that’s what I do.”

Taylor feels however that there is no way Prograis can match him in the ring, citing he thinks the American will struggle to fight with him on the inside or box on the outside should it come to it.

Both fighters boast a knockout percentage of over 75% and many do not expect this fight to go the distance.

It will be the first time that Taylor will be unable to call upon a raucous home crowd in Scotland where he was successful in two victories earlier in the tournament. Instead the Prestonpans local must head to London for the fight of his life, however Taylor was happy with the reception given by the fans.

“I’m a little Jock who has come down to the middle of London and I got a great reception,” he said. “So it was really nice and warm.”

The fight was already well publicised before the now infamous press conference last month, with heavyweight boxer Derek Chisora claiming he wouldn’t fight unless his clash was giving joint billing as co-main event alongside Prograis-Taylor.

This didn’t please either fighter and both made their feelings very clear on the day of the press conference, advising the 35-year-old to focus on his own fights and stop trying to take the limelight from younger boxers.

On Saturday night though, all the talking stops and the attention of all fans of boxing will tune into the O2 Arena to witness the potential crowning of Scotland’s next boxing superstar.

 

“I can’t wait to get in there now. I got a great reception tonight and I can’t wait for Saturday.” Taylor said.

 

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