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Meet the contenders vying to become the new Scottish Conservative party leader

As the nominations for the 2020 Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party leadership contest close at noon today, with votes taking place shortly after – EN4News takes an in-depth look at the two candidates vying for the position.


Jackson Carlaw:

Jackson Carlaw - Conservative - Eastwood

(Credit: Scottish Parliament)

https://www.jacksoncarlaw.org.uk/

https://twitter.com/Jackson_Carlaw

Jackson Carlaw is the MSP for Eastwood in the West of Scotland, and is also the current acting leader for the Scottish Conservation Party following Ruth Davidson’s resignation in September 2019. He represented the party in the televised debates throughout the 2019 General Election campaign.

Carlaw serves as the Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, and served as Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservative Party under Ruth Davidson from 2011 to 2019.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Tory Deputy leader and co-chair of Jackson Carlaw’s leadership campaign, said that the Eastwood MSP is the man to lead the Scottish Conservatives “through 2020 and beyond”.

“It’s a really exciting time for us in the party,” Kerr explained.  

“Time is short, we have only 15 months until the 2021 election – we need experience, we need a proven leader. He’s got a track record, and he holds Nicola Sturgeon to account every week in FMQs.” 

“We are doing a full policy review into looking at the policies that have taken us this far, but also looking at whether the circumstances change since they were put in place, and whether they create opportunity for the people of Scotland and take us forward in a positive way.”

Kerr says that Carlaw is the man that can take the Conservatives into government and is the strongest Conservative MSP to challenge Nicola Sturgeon for First Minister: “Jackson Carlaw has what we need to take us forward with a policy platform. I want to be part of the government, I don’t do this to be in opposition. Jackson’s the man that can deliver this for us.”

Currently, Carlaw looks set to become the next Tory leader.

Proposals:

Carlaw pledges that he will diversify the Scottish Conservative party

 

 

Michelle Ballantyne:

MichelleBallantyneMSP

(Credit: Scottish Parliament)

https://www.michelleballantyne.org.uk/

www.twitter.com/mballantynemsp?lang=en

Michelle Ballantyne is a Conservative Member of Scottish Parliament for the South Scotland region, assuming office in May 2017

Before becoming a politician, Ballantyne was originally a nurse from the south-east of England. She trained at the Royal London Hospital and after moving to Scotland, graduated from Heriot Watt University with an Honours degree.

In her bid for the party leadership, Ballantyne claims she “will kick-start a blue-collar revolution in the Scottish Conservatives”. 

Proposals: 

  • Localism: devolving powers from the party centre back to local associations. We need to hone the relationship between our local associations and the central party, to ensure we can best draw upon the wealth of talent in our associations and support our local councillors.
  • Empowerment: I want to see our associations empowered and trusted to run their own affairs so that the establishment supports associations, not the other way around.

 

  1. Policy: we will give our members a real voice in setting policy. Not only will I re-invigorate policy forums across the country, but we will also hold a special policy convention this year to kick start our blue-collar revolution.
  2. Review: If elected, I will commit to a full review of the party’s structure and look at how we can improve or reform existing arrangements to build on the professionalisation and ensure accountability.
  3. Party Management Board: To ensure that the party’s management board keeps its finger on the pulse of our membership and that it makes sound long term decisions, I will widen the board to include places for an MSP elected by their group, an MP elected by their group, and a councillor elected by councillors. The party board is not the leader’s board. My changes will make the board work for the membership.
  4. Deputy leader: Our MSP group and MP group can find themselves working in separate silos when instead we should be more collaborative and collegiate. If we are to be successful, we need to make sure we coordinate the efforts of all our elected representatives at all levels. I will proactively ensure better lines of communication between both Parliamentary groups, as well as those in local government, and to bring us together as one team I shall appoint my deputy leader from our MP group in the House of Commons.
  5. Councillors: We need to offer councillors as much as support as possible. While a good start has been made, if we are serious about capitalising on our success in 2017, and building a strong foundation for 2022, we need to join up our teams in the Scottish Parliament and in local councils in a more effective manner.

 

Blue Monday: Survival Guide

How to get through the lowest day of the year 

This coming Monday (January 20th) marks the annual date observed by some as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.
The term was first coined back in 2005 by a holiday company called Sky Travel. In a now famous press release, the company claimed that they had calculated the most depressing date of the year using an equation.

Sky Travel took many factors into consideration while determining the date of Blue Monday. Firstly, they looked at weather conditions around this time of year where rain, wind and snow were in abundance.

They then considered the level of debt which had likely accumulated by people over the festive period. It was also found that around the third Monday of January was when most New Year’s resolutions failed. Additionally they also looked into low levels of motivation, time spent sleeping, hours of sunlight and stress levels.

Generally reported as falling on the third Monday of January each year, Blue Monday has become a date dreaded by many.
All is not lost however, you don’t have to spend Blue Monday barricaded in your room eating tub after tub of peanut butter Häagen-Dazs.

We have here 6 ways you can beat Blue Monday and dreary winter months ahead!

Survival Tip #1 – Brave the Weather

Credit: Pixbay

I know it looks horrible out there. But spending even 20 minutes outside each day can provide you with some amazing health benefits.

Studies have shown that getting yourself outside (especially during the winter) can boost your immune system, improve your focus, lessen anxiety, help you sleep better and even increase your self-esteem.

So this Blue Monday, rain or shine, why not arrange to go a nice walk in the local park or if you’re feeling brave, go a good long hike with a friend.

Survival Tip #2 – Socialise

Credit: Flickr

Humans are sociable creatures who crave regular interaction with other humans. Even the most introverted individual could not survive without a little communication with other people.

And social interaction is good for us. According to psychology, being social is an integral part of human nature. Our own nervous systems actually expect us to have others around us and when we go without, it puts a large amount of stress on our bodies.

Nobody likes to feel lonely, but it can be difficult around this time of year with increased workloads, lack of funds and adverse weather conditions to ensure that we are getting enough social interaction.

Don’t spend Blue Monday alone if you can help it, call up a friend that you haven’t seen in a

while and pick up where you left off.

Survival Tip #3 – Get Active

Credit: Flickr

If you are not fond of exercise, it may seem a little counter intuitive to spend Blue Monday doing something you hate. However, it may be just what you need to boost morale and improve your own self-image.

Through exercise, your energy levels are increased making you more alert and boosting your immunity. There has also been a link found between regular exercise and improved mental health. Want to increase your confidence and reduce your stress levels? Getting active may be the way to go.

Joining a gym is a great way to keep fit but it can be a little costly.

If you would like to get active this Blue Monday without spending too much, why not join a local running group?

Survival Tip #4 – Try a New Diet

Credit: Pexels

After all those Christmas dinners, selection boxes and bottles of Baileys, now is the perfect time to try and new diet and improve your health!

You don’t need to try anything too intense. Introducing more fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet can be very beneficial. While reducing the amount of red meat you consume lowers your risk of heart disease and is good for the environment.

Due to lack of sunlight, this time of year it can be very difficult to get the crucial vitamins and minerals that we need. By eating foods rich in vitamins C and D, you can help boost your immune system.

This Blue Monday why not follow our easy recipe and make your own Vitamin Booster!

 

Survival Tip #5 – Clean Your Space

Credit: Flickr

Studies have shown that a cluttered space can equal a cluttered mind. We all have our own space and no matter how small, it can seem daunting to think about tidying it.

It is especially common to lose track of tidiness after the rush of Christmas and New Year, however cleaning your space may reduce your stress levels and make you feel more contented to work at home.

Our advice would be to start small and take your time. You don’t need to rush and you can take breaks in between. If cleaning your space means tidying several rooms then don’t stress yourself by taking it all on at once, start in one corner of a room and progress from there.

If your mind is feeling a little muddled this Blue Monday, try tidying your space and see if your headspace feels tidier too.

Survival Tip #6 – Have a Cheap Day Out

Credit: Flickr

The festive period can be very hard on our bank accounts. One big source of unhappiness around this time of year is lack of money. It is very depressing having to turn down fun activities because of money problems, however, there are lots of ways in which you can enjoy yourself without a lot of money.

Some wonderful ideas for a cheap day out include, a trip to a museum or art gallery, a walk around your local botanical garden or a day out at the park.

Get yourself out of the house on Blue Monday and go enjoy some low-cost fun!

Whatever you decide to do this Blue Monday, please remember that it’s okay not to feel okay all of the time and there are always people you can speak to if you need a little support. Call Samaritans at any time on 116 123.

New Year, New You? Why 19% of us are likely to have given up on our New Year’s resolution by today

January 17 has been coined “Ditch your New Year’s resolution” day after studies showed it is the day people are most likely to have given up their January 1 self-improvement vow.

Most people tend to look towards improving themselves in traditional ways. These include working on their health and fitness along with saving money and reading more books.

So why do we still set New Year’s resolutions for ourselves year-in, year-out despite only a small amount of people sticking to them? A recent survey has revealed that only 19% of Britons are successful at keeping their resolutions.

If you have given up on your resolutions already then you are clearly not alone. We all have good intentions but these never seem to last very long.

EN4News spoke to psychological therapist Sara Huibregtse Van Loon to find out more about why we give up so easily and what the reasons for that are.

She says people make these goals with the knowledge that they might not actually succeed.

“It seems that that date [today] was set to give people a way out of their resolutions should they want it.”

When asked why people give up on their resolutions, Sara explained that people tend to pin too much hope on succeeding that they forget how challenging it is to actually do so:

“Long-term thinking requires a lot of discipline… we tend to underestimate task difficultly whilst over-estimating our ability to succeed at tasks.”

info 2

(Infographic: Laura McCulloch)

Background and age can have an effect on how likely certain people are to succeed with their resolutions.

“Individual differences in personality, circumstances and life experiences are likely to play a large role,” Sara said.

However, it is important to note that there was no background information that Sara could give us to expand this further.

For Sara, it’s important that people set realistic goals that they are willing to physically work towards. She went onto explain that resolutions are often more superficial based:

“Resolutions, as opposed to other goals, tend to be focused towards achieving an ideal version of the self and with so much pressure on the resolution to create improvements in the way the person sees themselves, others and the world, the resolution even if stuck to, usually cannot live up to that – therefore, people can drop them quite easily.”

But how does failing impact upon our mental health? For some people, failure can take its toll on their mental wellbeing as they tend to take this failure to heart:

“We can easily fall prey to cognitive distortions or ‘thinking traps’ such as all-or-nothing thinking which is where, e.g. my resolution might be to switch to a plant-based diet, but then I eat some cheese and think – ‘that’s it – I’ve ruined it now, I may as well give up.’”

“A city transformed” Edinburgh Council unveils radical mobility plan

Edinburgh Council has announced a 2030 vision for Edinburgh, as its new City Mobility Plan (CMP) looks to shake up transport in a quest to make the capital carbon neutral by 2030.

A three-stage plan released by the council reveals that the city will become more eco-friendly and efficient as part of its CMP. Priorities of the council include; enhancing public transport, the creation of people-friendly streets, new developments and becoming carbon neutral.

Chamber Street with ‘people friendly’ street change’s (Credit: Edinburgh Council)

The plan outlines three dates which projects are expected to be completed by. The first phase will conclude in 2022, expectations of this phase are that the tram to Newhaven which is currently under development will be largely complete. A systemic review of bus routes and times will come into place.

The introduction of a low emission zone (LEZ) which will help tackle Edinburgh’s congestion and pollution by only granting certain vehicles access to parts of the city.

The second phase in 2025 will see air pollution drop as part of the successful integration of LEZ, as bus congestion will have improved. A transit plan will have been largely agreed by this point. George Street will be completely transformed and discussions regarding Princes Street vehicle access will be addressed.

The new pedestrianised ‘George Street’ (Credit: Edinburgh Council)

 

The third phase, aptly named “A city transformed” shows that the mass tram network will have been finished. Reaching out from the airport to Newbridge, The Royal Infirmary and the waterfront in the north. The city centre “will be largely car-free, with the workplace parking levy reducing in revenue as car use to commute declines.”

Edinburgh Trams (Credit: Edinburgh Council)

And the “Waverly Masterplan” a plan to further develop Edinburgh Waverly will be fully implemented.

Speaking about the plans, Council Leader Adam McVey has said the council was making “great strides towards reducing carbon emissions” and emphasised that now was the time for bolder actions if the city was to achieve this carbon-neutral goal by 2030.

Addressing the major climate concerns Mr McVey said: “I’m confident that we’re doing the right things to help tackle the increasing threat of climate change but it’s clear that we need to act with even greater pace and urgency if we are to protect the city, while creating a greener, healthier, better-connected environment for generations to come.”

In a meeting on Thursday the Transport and Environment Committee met to discuss the draft CMP. Committee member Ian McFarlane said it was “critical that we [the committee] are radical” and that there was no option to “stand still”.

Ewan Kennedy, the Senior Manager of Transport Networks, said that Edinburgh is “undoubtedly one of the best transport cities in the country.” He further alluded to how the council needs to be proactive with the need to tackle climate change and that the committee and council were “committed” to this.

Stuart Hay, Director of Living Streets Scotland, said that it was “vital” for Edinburgh to match various European capitals in its quest to reduce its emissions. Discussing the increase in pedestrian activity and the reduction of vehicle access Mr Hay said: ”Creating space by removing traffic will need further development of Edinburgh’s well-regarded bus service and more strategic tram routes. Substantial investment is needed, so new funding sources such as the workplace parking levy are vital.”

Claire Miller, Green Councillor for the Edinburgh City Centre, said that optimism is our best bet in completing plans to become carbon neutral on time.

 

The draft will go to public consultation in February for 8 weeks to further develop the CMP.

Students open up Edinburgh’s first sustainable club night

Students from Edinburgh University are set to launch a new club night for the city. The night, called ‘Zero Chill’, will be Scotland’s first-ever sustainable night club.

The students are part of the social enterprise group “Conscious Change” and will be launching the club night on Friday 17th of January with all products being environment-friendly as well as locally sourced.

The club night will take place in La Belle Angele, a venue that was specifically chosen due to its use of LED lighting and the short distance between Edinburgh’s student hubs.

Resources that are being used include things such as veg-ware cups, which are naturally decomposable and even the toilet paper will be recycled. The group are confident that this will be a big hit with students.

The group leader of conscious change, Imogen McAndrew, has said that the night will be ‘a celebration of global music diversity and global conscious changes’.

“The response has been great. This is just the start and we’ll see what we can do. We’ve nearly sold out tonight so it should be a good night.”

The proceeds from the event will go directly back into the conscious change group and will aim to help students think about the ways that they can help the environment during life at university.

“We can’t escape sustainability. As students, we have the luxury of putting on a night like this. It’s completely in our hands to make a change and we have the platform to do this. Even the legacy we leave for the next group of students is massive.”

The plans for the future are simple. The group want to become one of Edinburgh’s leading club nights whilst being completely sustainable. Once they have got up and running with the event, they will try to replace the biodegradable veg-ware cups with the multi-use steel cup. The idea behind the steel cup is that it will work in a deposit scheme with one glass for the night.

While the group remain optimistic about being able to break into the club market, Edinburgh is already one of the UK’s leading nights out with clubs open through the week. However, Imogen hopes that the unique selling point will be enough to draw the crowds in.

Edinburgh Council unveils strategy for carbon neutrality by 2030

NHS launches campaign to increase male blood donors

Surge in UK pub numbers down to food rather than drink

Latest controversy in ‘cruelty-free makeup’ adds to growing confusion around the ethics of beauty products

The UK spends over £3.2 billion on cosmetics every year. Cruelty-free makeup is one of the biggest areas of growth in the industry, with over 1300 brands being cruelty-free. Surely more and more brands making the effort to be more ethical can only be a good thing?

Cruelty-free makeup, in basic terms, is makeup that does not test on animals. When it’s said like that is sounds pretty simple, yet issues surrounding it makes it more complicated.

Depending on who you ask, people have different opinions on what classes as cruelty-free. Some brands like “Urban Decay” are cruelty-free, but the company that owns them – the parent company, “L’oreal”, is not. Some people believe that because of this “Urban Decay” is not cruelty-free, while others will argue it is as the brand does not test on animals.

The latest controversy involves cruelty-free makeup giant, Charlotte Tilbury, whose sales have reached £100 million, has been found to have “pop-up shops” in China. This is an issue because China the one country in the world where animal testing is mandatory.

The company has found a loophole, where they can showcase their products in beauty stores, but the customers can not purchase them in-store, they have to do so from an overseas website. This causes an issue because the products may still be tested on animals as testers, and makeup application is done in-store, which may happen if the Chinese authorities receive complaints on the products.

Charlotte Tilbury’s PR team was contacted for comment, but EN4 News is still waiting for a response.

The controversy ties into a bigger issue, which is the lack of transparency in the cruelty-free makeup industry. Many makeup brands try to avoid the question or try to trick people into thinking that brands don’t test on animals when they do.

On top of the increasing list of cruelty-free products, vegan makeup is on the rise. Vegan makeup means there are no animal-derived products in the make-up, lipstick is commonly made with beeswax, for example, but a vegan lipstick would be an animal-friendly alternative. However a brand can be vegan, yet still test on animals.

Photo Credit: Elise Kennedy

Cruelty-free brands can be identified but a rabbit logo that internationally is known as a cruelty-free logo, some brands use unofficial rabbit logos which can confuse consumers into thinking that the product is cruelty-free when it is not. This does not mean that if a brand does not have a rabbit logo on its products, it is not cruelty-free.

To help this there are websites such as Leaping Bunny which have full lists of makeup brands that have been officially verified as cruelty-free.

See below for a list of some of the many brands which are cruelty-free:

Photo Credit: Elise Kennedy

NHS launches campaign to increase male blood donors

The NHS has kicked off the new decade with a nationwide campaign to increase male blood donations. In 2019, only around 41% of new donors were male, despite male blood being used for a variety of illnesses which female blood is not able to treat.

Throughout January, the NHS will be campaigning to increase their first-time male blood donation rates by an ambitious 26% in 2020 which equates to roughly 68,000 new donors. This means that if the campaign is successful, first-time male blood donation rates will rise to 67%, overtaking female blood donation rates which reached 59% last year.

Number of annual new donations (Credit: NHS)

Every winter the NHS tries to encourage extra donations due to Christmas closures, however, donations must be regular to be effective as centres often have a “shortfall” after Christmas. A Staff Nurse from Edinburgh Blood Donation Centre says that while they do have a large number of donors, they are often irregular:

“Because we have a lot of students, you have them for a wee while then they move off… it’s just a constant battle to keep people coming in.”

Male blood exclusively is used for blood transfusions in newborn babies and provides 93% of donated platelets – an essential part of the blood’s clotting system. More than half of platelets donated are used to treat cancer patients to reduce internal bleeding. Regular donations are essential due to the shelf life of certain parts of the blood:

“Red blood cells last for about a month but platelets only last about a week, so we always need to keep going.”

Why do we need male blood?

Credit: Pixabay

Men are much more likely to have higher levels of iron compared to women as they don’t menstruate, which means that their donations are far less likely to be rejected because of low haemoglobin. This helps to maintain a level of consistency with donations which is vital to patients who receive regular transfusions throughout their lifetime.

Women are also known to produce certain antibodies and proteins during pregnancy. The presence of these antibodies affects the immune system, which can make transfusions a little more complicated.

Scared?

Voluntarily having blood sucked out of your arm is a terrifying concept to most people and this fear is why many of us choose not to donate.

If you’re thinking of donating and helping potentially hundreds of people, here are some tips to calm your nerves so you can get the most out of your life-saving donation.

Remember to eat!

An empty stomach and low blood sugar can make you feel sick and dizzy and means you are more likely to faint.

Have a snack just before you donate – high sugar snacks are preferable which gives you the perfect excuse to demolish a chocolate bar.

Stay hydrated!
Losing a fairly large volume of fluids can make you feel quite ill, so doctors recommend you drink at least 500ml of water before you donate.

Water is available at blood donation centres so remember to bring your reusable water bottle.

Distractions!
If anxiety can get the better of you in high-intensity situations, it might be worthwhile to take some time to set out your “plan of distraction” for when you’re donating.

Bring someone along with you, whether it’s your mum, your significant other or a friend – you might need a hand to hold.

If you’re donating alone, make a playlist full of your favourite inspirational songs and have your earphones at the ready to jam in your ears and drown everything else out.

Treat yourself!
You might be feeling a little dizzy or tired afterwards so head home, get comfy and spend the rest of your day on the couch with everyone’s friend Netflix.

Remember to eat and stay hydrated afterwards for the quickest recovery.

Don’t feel guilty about resting and looking after yourself – you just helped save some lives, you deserve it!

While they want as many people to donate as possible, nurses from the Edinburgh donation centre encourage you to put yourself first:

“If you get too nervous, it’s not going to work for you – it’ll just make you ill and we’re trying to make people better!”

Credit: Rhi Ramsey EN4 News

Credit: Rhi Ramsey EN4 News

QUIZ: Can you recognise these areas in Edinburgh from these old photographs?

Can you recognise these areas in Edinburgh from these old photographs?

Making Tracks – An Edinburgh ‘tramsformation’ begins?

Constitution Street under transformation

Road blocks were enforced, traffic cones were placed and trucks were assembled to initiate construction on the next phase of the Edinburgh Trams network in Constitution Street on Monday.

In four years’ time, York Place and Newhaven should be connected by a shiny fleet of super trams in a £207.3 million project, given the green light by Edinburgh City Council just over eight months ago.

In the first quarter of 2023, trams should be serving the Foot of the Walk, Port of Leith and Ocean Terminal on a new 2.8-mile long line.

While the network extension will bring positive transport, infrastructure and environmental benefits in the long term, unsurprisingly, the decision to lengthen the route was met with mixed reviews.

While the trams have been operating successfully for over five years now, on an 8.7-mile long line from Edinburgh Airport to York Place, their journey from inception and design to construction and delivery was fraught with difficulty and mired in controversy.

After the project revisions, contractual disputes and funding crisis, it took six years and over £776 million to build, but over £1 billion will be payed after interest. Indeed, the cost of this extension rose by a quarter before construction even began.

The 2008 global financial crisis also didn’t help. In order to reduce inflating costs, sections from Ingliston Park and Ride to Newbridge North, Haymarket to Granton and Granton to Newhaven were dropped.

Newhaven, intended to be part of the initial route, was also cancelled bringing the trams to an abrupt halt in York Place, providing a route to the airport that could be achieved already by bus.

Disruption to businesses, danger to cyclists and the suspension of overhead electric cables attached to residential buildings also drew concern and criticism of the project.

Edinburgh Trams are on their way

Despite this, the trams have proven their worth, with the city using them so much that original ridership projections were surpassed, enabling the operation to post pre-tax profits only two years after the trams got going.

More journeys are being made every year with 7.3 million people choosing to use the tram last year alone, more than the entire population of Scotland.

In 2016, another stop, Edinburgh Gateway, was opened providing a transport interchange between the Edinburgh Trams and trains from across Scotland allowing passengers to travel to the airport entirely by rail.

Originally part of phase one, the route to Newhaven is now finally on its way.

Signs point straight ahead to 2023

Should the Newhaven extension repeat the annual passenger growth seen on the first Edinburgh Trams line, as the strong business case suggests it will, Newbridge, Granton and connection to Newhaven (forming a circular route) may yet see trams approaching over the horizon.

With the Scottish Government’s recent declaration of a climate emergency and net-zero target for greenhouse gas emissions in just over a quarter of a century, the case for electrified public transport such as trains and trams will only strengthen.

If lessons have been learned from previous mistakes, considering the monster of a nightmare that was created in the capital city before, the next Edinburgh Tram service to Newhaven should have a much smoother journey.

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