Arctic role models: Should Scotland look north for inspiration?

Sunrise over Aberdeen beach, picture taken by Sarah Rose Sunrise over Aberdeen where you are closer to Stavanger in Norway than the capital of England

Stand on the quayside at Aberdeen and you are closer, geographically, to Stavanger in Norway than you are to London. In the centuries when travel was easier by sea than by land, the Norsemen came south to plunder, conquer and settle.

Many of the place-names of Scotland are the legacy of a time Nordic Europe drew the lands bordering the North Sea around it and bound them into one ocean-going community of peoples. Sutherland is so called because it was once one of the southern parts of that community.

Does anything survive of that distant time? Does the North Sea separate us from, or connect us to, our Nordic neighbours?

One of Sweden's most popular tourist attractions is the 17th Century warship Vasa.

Its hull is 70 metres long and decorated with oak carvings of mermaids, wild men and sea monsters - which are designed to celebrate the might of Imperial Sweden and to intimidate its enemies.

Who? What? When?

  • Voters in Scotland - including for the first time 16 and 17-year-olds - will have their say in a referendum on Scottish independence.
  • They will be asked the "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
  • The referendum takes place on Thursday 18 September, 2014.

It is a visually stunning reminder that Sweden once dominated the northern tier of Europe, drawing many of its Baltic neighbours into its orbit. Both Norway and Finland have, at different periods in their history, been joined to Sweden in a union.

All three of these nations are broadly comparable to Scotland, whose people will take part next year in an independence referendum.

At first glace all of these countries have;

  • Small populations spread across large territories
  • Long coast lines (the word Norwegian 'fjord' is surely derived from the same root as the Scots 'firth')
  • A traditional dependence on maritime activities, including fishing and shipbuilding
  • And Norway has an oil industry that has helped turn one of the poorest countries of Europe into one of the richest in the world

They have also evolved a way of living, and of governing, which is the envy of much of Europe.

My story

Allan Little

"I'm Allan Little. I was born, raised and educated in Scotland, but I haven't made my career here.

"For the past 25 years, I've worked as a foreign correspondent, reporting from more than 80 countries.

"I've seen nations torn apart and die, but I've also seen others born, and find their way in a new, changing world.

"Over the coming year, I'll be covering much of what happens here, in my home country."

They're often held up as an example of what Scotland could aspire to become - benign, non-belligerent, socially harmonious and prosperous social democracies.

This reading appeals particularly to the pro-independence left in Scotland.

The Nordic model is "a high wage economy, based on highly productive enterprise," says Robin MacAlpine of the Jimmy Reid Foundation.

He explains: "You use the money that generates through tax, to create extremely strong public services.

"You have this chain - good economy, good jobs, good wages, good taxes, good public services, and high social cohesion."

Finland illustrates well both the strengths and weaknesses of small independent nations on the periphery of Europe.

For decades after WW2, it was almost entirely dependent on trade with the Soviet Union. And it thrived.

In fact it over-reached itself. In the late 1980s it deregulated its banking sector and entered a period that came to be known as the "casino years".

NORWAY

Children in Oslo, Noeway
  • Population - 4.9 Million (2012)
  • Life expectancy (average) - Men 77 years, women, 83 years
  • Individual tax rates - From 0% up to 47.8% (2013)
  • Unemployment - 3.5% of the workforce
  • Education - Norway has free education from the ages of six to 18. Some 195,000 students are at Norwegian universities with the majority receiving the state education loan fund. Generally, students at state universities and university colleges do not pay tuition fees.
  • Health system - The system is funded by taxes, with a state insurance scheme giving basic levels of welfare. In-patient hospital treatment is free, but visits to doctors, dentists and specialists, as well as prescriptions medicines, incur charges.
  • Paternity leave - 46 weeks of parental leave at 100% of pay or 56 weeks at 80% of pay. Up to 14 weeks of this leave can be taken by the father.

Martti Sanna, an economic adviser to the Finnish government, says: "House prices were going up like never before.

"There was a feeling that we were more or less invincible."

The Nordic legacy

Many Scottish place names have Norse origins.

  • 'Dalr' (dale) meaning valley. Examples include Brosdale, Helmsdale, and Laxdale.
  • 'Lax' meaning salmon. Examples include the Lewis villages of Laxay and Laxdale.
  • 'Vik' (wick) meaning a bay. Examples include Wick, Lerwick and Uig.
  • 'Fjord' meaning sea-loch. Examples include Gruinart, Snizort, Collafirth, Seaforth.

Then the crash came. It provided a signature lesson on the key weakness of many small nations: that their economies are often dangerously dependent on a relatively small number of volatile sectors.

In Finland's case, its dependence of the Soviet Union meant that in 1991 its main export market disappeared almost overnight.

"The world economy was also in turmoil and this resulted in a large banking crisis," says Sanna. "And very suddenly, more or less the whole Finnish economy collapsed."

The economy shrank almost overnight by 10%. The government was forced to make drastic cuts in public spending in what was already a high-tax country. Things got steadily worse.

The Finns did not riot, they did not strike, they did not demand the ring-fencing of health budgets, or insist on spending money they did not have. Unemployment soared.

Banks went bust

Is this a cautionary tale, useful, perhaps, to the Better Together campaign, which argues that Scotland, had it been independent, would have sunk under the weight of the near-collapse of RBS and HBOS?

Yes and no. It took years of pain but Finland recovered. This year it was rated No1 in Europe in a recent global dynamism index. Sweden and Norway came second and third and these were the only three European nations to make it into the top 10 of that league table.

The secret of Finland's successful emergence from economic catastrophe was its independent currency, the Markka.

Sanna says: "We tried to keep it at a fixed rate against other currencies.

"But we had to give it up and let it float. It devalued considerably and this helped exports. We let a couple of major banks go bust and the ones that were left merged. The whole banking sector was completely overhauled."

FINLAND

Helskini
  • Population - 5.4 million (2012)
  • Life expectancy (average) - Men 76 years, women 83 years
  • Individual tax rates - from 6.5% up to 51% (2013)
  • Unemployment - 8.1% of the workforce
  • Education - Education in Finland is free to all beginning at the voluntary pre-primary level and continuing through upper secondary school. Universities do not charge tuition fees.
  • Health system - Primary healthcare is universally available, funded mainly by taxation. Fees are charged for doctors' visits, and other medical expenses including outpatient care and prescription drugs but these are partially or fully reimbursed by the country's compulsory National Health Insurance scheme. The scheme also provides Sickness Allowances (compensation for loss of income during incapacity for work).
  • Paternity leave - Paid maternity allowance for 105 working days. Paternity leave is 54 working days altogether (approximately 9 weeks).

An independent Scotland, in any similar crisis in the future, would not have this option, because under current plans Scotland is not to have an independent currency.

Sweden, Norway and Denmark have all kept their own currencies. Among the Nordic states, only the Finns, ironically, joined the Euro.

Nokia - Ringing the changes

Nokia phone

1865 - Nokia starts out as a riverside paper mill in south west Finland and branches out into making rubber boots and car tyres.

1962 - The company makes its first electronic device for use in nuclear power plants.

1963 - Radio telephones for the army and emergency services are made by Nokia.

1984 - The Mobira Talkman portable car phone goes on the market.

1987 - Phone technology moves on and Nokia introduces the handheld Mobira Cityman.

1992 - The first digital handheld GSM phone, the Nokia 1011, is made.

1994 - The 2100 series is launched, the first phones to feature the Nokia Tune ringtone.

1998 - Nokia is the world leader in mobile phones.

2007 - The firm combines its telecoms operations with Siemens to form a joint venture named Nokia Siemens Networks.

2013 - Nokia joins forces with Microsoft to strengthen its position in the smartphone market.

They did so largely for political, rather than economic reasons, and many - given what has happened since - now regret the loss of their currency independence.

But it wasn't only currency independence that brought Finland back from the brink and made it one of the continent's most successful societies. It was a series of factors that illustrate the fleet-of-foot flexibility of small independent states.

The one area of public spending the government did not cut was research and development. While hospitals and schools were being squeezed, the government increased spending in this field by 25%.

At the same time, an old Finnish company that had built itself up over more than a century decided to take a major gamble. Nokia had started life in the nineteenth century in the wood pulp business. By the late twentieth century it also made electrical cabling and rubber boots - hardly the stuff of the digital future and the knowledge economy.

Erkki Ormala, a former senior executive at Nokia, now an academic, says: "The decision was made to divest all the other businesses and to concentrate on mobile communications.

"The rest is history."

For 20 years, tiny Finland dominated the world's mobile phone market. At the height of its success, Nokia was supplying 40% of the global market.

The sale of Nokia to Microsoft this summer marked the end of the company's dominance. The company has laid off 10,000 workers globally. Unemployment in wealthy little Finland is 8%, higher than Scotland's.

But it has weathered the storm because during the years of Nokia's ascendancy, Finnish investment created scores of smaller, independent hi-tech enterprises selling services to Nokia. The games manufacturer Rovio is one. Their computer game Angrybirds has sold 1.7 billion downloads worldwide.

Start Quote

In everything, from pension policies to the way you run public services, the Swedes are at the forefront of liberalisation.”

End Quote Fraser Nelson The Spectator

Is there a lesson here for Scotland? A decade ago, I asked the CEO of a small but highly successful internet security company a simple question - if Finland were still in a union with Sweden, and its tax regime was decided in Stockholm rather than Helsinki, what would the Finnish economy look like?

"Nokia," he said, "would still be making rubber boots". Tax autonomy is vital to the success of the Nordic model.

It is not only the left in Scotland that applauds the Nordic model. Finland, Sweden and Norway all now have right-of-centre governments.

Fraser Nelson, the Scottish editor of the far-from-left-wing London weekly The Spectator, looks to Sweden for inspiration, and wishes David Cameron would have the guts to be as right wing in some of his thinking as the Swedes are.

Sweden is "one of the few countries in the world that is cutting tax and getting growth as a result," he says.

He adds: "In everything, from pension policies to the way you run public services, the Swedes are at the forefront of liberalisation. They're showing that there need not be a tension between free-market ideas and progressive ends."

SWEDEN

Stockholm, Sweden
  • Population - 9.5 million (2012)
  • Life expectancy (average) - Male 78, Female 83
  • Individual tax rates - From 0% up to 57% (2013)
  • Unemployment - 8.0% of the workforce
  • Education - Schooling is free in Sweden. Preschools and university education is funded by the government in part.
  • Health system - The Swedish system gives everyone who lives or works in Sweden equal access to heavily subsidized healthcare. It is funded by tax and patient fees cover only a small percentage of costs.
  • Paternity leave - 60 days for each parent are counted respectively as maternity and paternity rights. The is 60 remaining weeks of parental leave, of which 270 days are paid at 80% of earnings and the 90 remaining days paid at a flat rate.

In Sweden 10% of the public health service is contracted out to private companies. Swedes also pay a fee to visit their GP.

Britta Walgreen is the chief executive of St Goran's hospital on the outskirts of Stockholm.

"We have a contract with the local authority to provide care as part of the public health service," she told me. "We are paid for each patient we treat. But if we improve the service, and we are able to discharge a patient two days early, we are paid the same but our cost comes down."

It is not uncontroversial even in Sweden, because some public money ends up as private profit.

Start Quote

Lars Tragard

Sweden is in many ways a harsh society. There's not a lot of compassion for loafers, for people who do not work. This is not a generous welfare state. We don't have a lot of welfare queens”

End Quote Lars Tragardh Historian

Walgreen, a former anaesthesiologist, told me: "I think the important discussion is not whether the care provider is public or private but what it can deliver.

"Just being publicly owned is no guarantee that the quality is high."

This flexibility, too, is key to the Nordic model's success. Would such a policy fly in Scotland? Would any government here dare to propose reforms that would, in our ideologically binary political culture, look like the privatisation of the health service?

Sweden's welfare model is also little understood here. It is not generous to the unemployed. It is designed to keep people in employment, not to reward them for being out of work. If you are on the dole for more than 12 months your welfare payments fall drastically and you are required to attend seminars and training workshops.

Many take unpaid jobs for work experience. The unemployed are stigmatised in Sweden.

The historian Lars Tragardh told me: "Sweden is in many ways a harsh society. There's not a lot of compassion for loafers, for people who do not work. This is not a generous welfare state. We don't have a lot of welfare queens."

But Sweden spends more on childcare for working parents than it does on its armed forces. Anna Nyborg is a young mother-of-two, and a senior executive at Ericsson in Stockholm.

From the age of 12 months, the county is required by law to provide children with day care. For two children under school age, she pays £200 a month.

She explained: "And this includes food and nappies and everything."

Anna Nybord The senior executive has subsidised childcare for her two young children

As a result, the Nordic countries have more women in work than almost anywhere else in Europe. It is welfare spending designed to sustain and support wealth creation, rather than to drain from it.

But it is still costly.

Tragardh took me out onto the roof of his university building and in a bracing Nordic wind we looked down onto the rooftops of Stockholm.

He says: "You get 360 degrees up here. There's the royal palace. There's the fairground. But what is Stockholm's tallest building? There it is and it symbolises Sweden's love affair with the state: that is the headquarters of the national tax authority."

Scandinavians pay the highest taxes in the world. In Sweden, if you're only reasonably well-off, you surrender close to two-thirds of your income to the tax man. It is a condition that Swedes have reconciled themselves to over the years.

Land ownership

It is the egalitarianism of Nordic society that appeals to many in Scotland. Where does it come from? Can Scandinavia's social harmony be taken off the peg and made to fit a non-Nordic society?

The Nordic world has been, historically, much more classless than Britain. They have a tradition of land ownership that is radically different to anything that Scotland has experienced.

In the eighteenth century Swedish peasants owned the land they worked. They had title deeds - property rights. That put them in a different relationship with the power of the crown than their counterparts in Scotland where, as the journalist Lesley Riddoch points out in her book Blossom, a thousand people still own 60% of the privately-owned and, and where only in recent years has the number of people owning their own homes passed the 50% mark.

SCOTLAND

People in Edinburgh
  • Population - 5.3 million
  • Life expectancy (average) - men 76 years, women 80 years.
  • Individual tax rates - From 0% up to 45% (2013) (as part of the UK system)
  • Unemployment - 7.4% of the workforce
  • Education - Scotland spent more per capita on tertiary education than England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2011-12 because Scots students do not pay tuition fees in Scotland, and under-graduate courses generally run for four, not three years.
  • Health system - The NHS is free at the point of use for anyone resident in the UK. The health service in Scotland is the responsibility of the Scottish government. Prescriptions are free in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales.
  • Paternity leave - New mothers have the right to take 52 weeks leave, with 39 being paid through statutory maternity pay, maternity allowance or contractual maternity pay. New fathers are entitled to at least two weeks' paternity leave on the birth of their child.

But the Nordic country that is arguably most similar to Scotland is Norway. If you'd sailed into Oslo 30 years ago, you'd have passed shipyards and marine workshops on the waterfront.

They were, by then, already in terminal decline. There was a lot of public pressure on the government to use the country's new oil wealth to rescue the industry and save jobs. It didn't happen. Norway, ruthlessly, let its declining old industries die.

For Norway understood very early that its oil wealth, if mismanaged, would be a curse rather than a blessing. Windfall resources like that can have the effect of so inflating a nation's currency, that every other sector of the productive economy becomes uncompetitive and collapses.

Old and new oil platform The 1970s marked a turning point for Norway - oil was discovered

Norway's political parties entered into a self-denying pact. They agreed not to spend a penny of the oil revenues in Norway itself. So they save it all instead, investing in companies overseas.

Its oil fund is now worth £400bn. What's more 96% of the interest on that fund is reinvested in it. The Norwegians allow themselves to spend only 4% of the interest each year - and none of the capital. But even that is enough to pay for 10% of the annual public budget.

It is a quiet Nordic rebuke to the rest of us. Britain's oil wealth - of course much smaller as a proportion of GDP - has been used as part of the overall tax take.

Start Quote

The Nordic countries come out on top when it comes to innovation, creating new businesses, and flexibility”

End Quote Jonas Store Norway's former foreign minister

And an independent Scotland, initially at least, would need to spend its oil revenues to meet existing commitments. The Scottish government argues that it could, in time, start an oil fund. But the Norwegians have a 40-year start on us, and much, perhaps most, of the wealth that was there has now gone.

Norway declared independence from Sweden in 1905. There was tension between the two nations and even the threat of war. But there were negotiations at the end of which the Swedish King renounced his claim to the Norwegian throne, in effect dissolving what had been a United Kingdom.

Echoes of that tension remain. The Norwegian journalist Marie Simenson worked for a time as her newspaper's correspondent in London, and reported from Scotland during the 1997 referendum campaign.

She told me: "Norwegians used to have an inferiority complex about the Swedes.

"The Swedes were the big brother of the Nordic countries. They ruled over Norway till 1905. It's still there especially among older people - the Swedes seem more posh, more sophisticated, and we are still like farmers and fishermen and so forth.

Vasa More than 1,000 years ago, Swedes set sail in boats, like Vasa which now sits in a museum in Stockholm

"I saw these same traits in the Scottish view of England. The Scots are like the Norwegians - they are outgoing and so on, but if you push their buttons, they're a bit touchy. It's the same with the Swedes. In sport, it is the most important thing to beat the Swedes."

The warship Vasa sank, just 120m from the shore, on its maiden voyage in 1638. It keeled over under the weight of its own grandiose, unsustainable ambition.

Twenty years ago, the received wisdom in Europe was that the Nordic economic model had had its day - the public sector was too big, the state, like the Vasa, top heavy.

Norsemen Jarl Squad arrive at Lerwick harbour in a 30-foot longboat Norsemen return to places like Scotland - but not to conquer and pillage but to celebrate their heritage

Norway's former foreign minister, Jonas Store, told me: "We were told that we were doomed in the new global economy.

"But we've seen over these last years that the Nordic countries come out on top when it comes to innovation, creating new businesses, and flexibility.

"We have higher employment, sounder public finances, safe and solid public welfare, because we have unions that take collective responsibility and strike responsible deals. We have a high level of social capital, as well as financial capital."

Could an independent Scotland emulate the model? And if it could, why couldn't a strongly devolved Scotland within the UK do the same?

For what, in the Nordic context, does "sovereignty" mean? And, given the extraordinary degree of interdependence and co-operation that exists between them and the rest of Europe, in what sense is any of these countries (in the parlance of the Scottish constitutional debate) "going it alone"?

It's not for me to answer the questions.

But as an old foreign correspondent returning to my own country at a time of historic decision-making, I wonder this - shouldn't we at least try to see the choice we face next year in its broader European context?

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    Stephen Maguire

    In recent years matches went from best of 17 to best of 11 and this year that also applies to the semi-final stage.

    "It is a different tournament and it's not as good as the way it was," said Maguire after his 6-2 first round win over Lu Ning.

    "It used to be best of 17 and it was a better tournament to be honest, but we don't get a say in it."

    Live coverage on BBC One begins tomorrow. You can also follow online, on mobile or via the BBC Sport app.

     
  23.  
    13:07: Record week for port

    Scotland's largest container port has reported its busiest week on record.

    The Port of Grangemouth said it handled 4,200 containers this week, surpassing its previous record by more than 200.

    Port of Grangemouth

    The container business was boosted by a strong potato seed season and an increase in the drinks market of whisky and white spirit cargos.

     
  24.  
    #ScotlandLive 12:59: Scottish book characters - Your views

    Niall Stuart: Chae Strachan and Long Rob of Sunset Song. Two of the most perfect characters, and some of finest people you could never meet.

    Fran Staban: good to see Francis Lymond as top Scots fictional character. Perhaps now the books will be reprinted properly #dorothydunnett

     
  25.  
    12:53: Fresh appeal over murder

    Police investigating a murder in Prestwick say they are following a "positive line of inquiry" and have made a fresh appeal for witnesses.

    Arthur Green, 60, was found dead on 20 November at his home in Pleasantfield Road.

    Arthur Green

    Mr Green was last seen alive at about 22:30 on 19 November and was found in the morning by family members.

    Det Ch Insp Gary Boyd said: "I am particularly interested to hear from anyone who has seen a medium-sized silver or light-coloured car, which we believe had more than one occupant, which may have been parked in the Pleasantfield Road or Oswald Road area late on Wednesday evening.

    "I am keen to speak to the occupants of this vehicle or anyone who may have seen or has knowledge of this vehicle."

     
  26.  
    12:40: Care service 'must improve'

    A housing support and care at home service has been told to stop taking on new clients until it has made a raft of improvements.

    The Care Inspectorate expressed concern Absolute Care in Aberdeen.

    Following an inspection, Absolute Care has been given an "unsatisfactory" grading for the quality of care and support, staffing, and management and leadership.

    The Care Inspectorate said Absolute Care had to do a lot to improve.

     
  27.  
    12:31: Spot the loonies

    Registration for the New Year's Day Loony Dook at South Queensferry in the Firth of Forth has opened.

    Loony Dook 2014

    The Loony Dook has been held for 26 years.

    Over 1,000 "Dookers", clad in fancy dress costumes and cheered on by over 4,000 spectators, welcome in the New Year with a swim in the shadow of the Forth Bridges.

     
  28.  
    12:24: Kheredine Idessane BBC Scotland

    tweets:@andy_murray wedding will be in 2015. Good luck, Kim, fitting it into the ATP schedule #summerweddingpostWimbledon?

     
  29.  
    12:15: Sanctions hit engineering firms

    Western sanctions against Russia are having an impact on Scots engineering firms, according to a survey.

    Scottish Engineering said manufacturing exports were stifled in the third quarter by the effects of a recession in the eurozone.

    engineering jobs

    But it also pointed to Russia's "general economic malaise" and said US and EU sanctions had hit a range of Scottish-produced goods.

    However, the industry body added that the sector was now "back on track".

     
  30.  
    12:07: Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: Grangemouth port has busiest week ever, handling 4200 containers: boosted by inbound festive stock, outbound potatoes and whisky.

     
  31.  
    12:00: Knifepoint robbery

    A thief who held up an Edinburgh newsagent with a knife before stealing all the money in the till is being sought by police.

    The incident happened at about 19:40 on Thursday at the Dalry Newsagent on Dalry Road.

    A 39-year-old woman was working alone in the shop when a man entered and brandished a knife before demanding money.

    After stealing the contents of the till he then made off towards Gorgie Road.

    Officers are urging witnesses to come forward.

     
  32.  
    11:49: Bridges contract awarded

    The tender to manage and maintain the Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing is to be awarded to Amey LG Ltd.

    forth road bridge

    Transport Minister Derek Mackay said awarding the contract to a single operating company will be cost effective and efficient.

    Amey will first become responsible for the Forth Road Bridge in June next year, and later the Queensferry Crossing when it opens in 2016.

     
  33.  
    #BlackFriday #ScotlandLive 11:41: Black Frightday - Reaction in Dundee

    Iain Geddes: Just had my tesco shop delivery, driver said a woman got a broken arm and young kid with a smashed face. #blackfriday carnage in Dundee.

    Karl Henry: You know if the headline has the words "Dundee" and "Supermarket" that it's going to be something bad. #BlackFriday

    Brian McLaughlin: #BlackFriday hits Dundee. Dundonians celebrate by hitting each other. This city, man. Cracks me up.

    Greig Stott: Fights breaking out at @Tesco in #Dundee apparently. Save your energy and your dignity. And buy online. #BlackFriday #Scam

     
  34.  
    11:29: Clutha findings 'ready'

    The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has said it ready to "reach its conclusions" about the cause of the Clutha helicopter crash in Glasgow.

    clutha helicopter

    Investigators said in their latest update that they still needed several weeks to draft the final report which should be ready by early 2015.

    The Police Scotland helicopter crashed onto the busy Clutha bar on 29 November last year, killing 10 people.

    The AAIB previously said that both engines failed but has yet to set out the cause.

     
  35.  
    11:19: Farmer death inquiry

    A fatal accident inquiry is getting under way into the death of a farmer who was killed while operating a grain auger.

    Jim Sharp, 66, was a former convenor of NFU Scotland's livestock board and described as "an ambassador for all that is good in farming".

    He was killed in March on his Newbigging Walls Farm near Lauder.

    The inquiry - which is expected to last one day - is being held at Selkirk Sheriff Court.

     
  36.  
    11:12: Testing time for Wolff

    Susie Wolff will stay at the Williams Formula 1 racing team next season in an enhanced role as test driver.

    Susie Wolff

    The 31-year-old Scot was development driver this year but her position will be expanded in 2015 to include two runs in Friday practice and two tests.

    The move comes after Wolff impressed in an outing in free practice at the German Grand Prix this year.

    "I'm really happy to be able to carry on and get more time in the car," Wolff told BBC Sport.

     
  37.  
    11:05: Chhokar retrial to go ahead

    Three high court judges have granted prosecutors permission to retry one man accused of murdering the Lanarkshire waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar in 1998.

    Surjit Singh Chhokar

    At a hearing in Edinburgh, they said Ronnie Coulter could be re-prosecuted under double jeopardy legislation.

    The court ruled that two other men, Andrew Coulter and David Montgomery, cannot face trial for a second time.

    All three men were previously cleared of murdering Mr Chhokar, 32, in Overtown, North Lanarkshire.

     
  38.  
    10:58: Good times for hospitality Douglas Fraser Business and economy editor, Scotland

    tweets: Scottish hotels doing well in August: BDO. Glasgow revenue +21% with Comm Games. Edinburgh +5% per room, to £116, just below London

     
  39.  
    10:50: Health board legal advice

    NHS Grampian is taking legal advice over the publication of a report into general surgery at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

    Aberdeen Royal Infirmary

    The review was carried out by the Royal College of Surgeons of England at the request of the health board.

    An expert group spent two days within the general surgery department.

    The board said it was taking legal advice in relation to its responsibilities both to publish the report and its Data Protection issues.

    The findings of a separate investigation by Healthcare Improvement Scotland into patient care at ARI is due to be published next week.

     
  40.  
    #BlackFriday #ScotlandLive 10:42: Black Frightday - Your views

    Alan Quinn: Only in dundee could tesco extra get shut down for the night

    Katie O'Donnell: So annoyed that this ridiculous #BlackFriday tradition has made it to Scotland #dundee #tesco #banblackfriday

    Pat Potter: If you find yourself fighting in Tesco over who gets £50 off a TV, take some time out to reflect on where you went wrong in life

    Donnie Murdo: Seeing some videos from dundee tesco if this is indicative of the rest of the country Black Friday should be banned

     
  41.  
    10:32: Smith 'dropped welfare proposals' Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    The Smith Commission appears to have contemplated more extensive welfare devolution until the final phase of negotiations.

    smith commission

    The BBC has seen pages from a draft of the commission's report which would have allowed Holyrood to vary all the key elements of Universal Credit.

    The draft was from 11:00 on Tuesday.

    But the proposal had been removed by the time the commission's final report was published on Thursday morning.

    Supporters of the idea say it would have allowed Holyrood to develop a distinctive Scottish approach to welfare.

     
  42.  
    10:26: Hospitals' future in doubt?

    NHS Borders is examining the future of four community hospitals as it looks to redesign health services in the region.

    Hawick hospital

    It currently operates facilities at Peebles, Hawick, Duns and Kelso.

    Medical director Dr Sheena MacDonald said that saving money on buildings could allow them to invest in areas such as staffing.

    She said any changes had to be made for "absolutely the right reasons" and should ensure a service which was "at the very least" as good as at present.

     
  43.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 10:18: Who is your top Scottish book character?

    You've got the whole of Scottish fiction to chose from, but who is your favourite book character?

    Sherlock Holmes in book quiz

    Email us, or tweet using #ScotlandLive to let us know who they are and why they have captured a special place in your heart.

    If you're lacking inspiration, why not try your luck in our quiz and see how much you know about some of the best-loved characters from Scottish fiction.

     
  44.  
    10:10: 127mph driver banned

    A former racing driver has been fined £2,000 and banned from driving for 15 months after admitting to speeding at 127mph on the A96 in the Highlands.

    Speedometer

    Police clocked Owen Mildenhall, 41, of Edenbridge, Kent, in a Porsche Carrera 911 at Tornagrain near Inverness.

    The incident happened at 00:45 on 10 July.

    Mildenhall has since lost his job as a motoring journalist, Inverness Sheriff Court heard.

     
  45.  
    10:02: The National 'is here to stay'

    Scotland's new pro-independence newspaper The National, which began a five-day trial on Monday, is to become a permanent fixture.

    the national

    Publisher Newsquest, which owns the Herald and the Sunday Herald, says the new tabloid's sales were "beyond the wildest dreams".

    An editorial in the paper today thanked readers for their support.

    It said 60,000 copies were sold on its first day and about 11,000 people have signed up for a digital subscription.

     
  46.  
    #BlackFriday #ScotlandLive 09:55: Black Frightday - Your views

    Kara: The people acting like animals just because of 'black friday' at silverburn are disgusting! Get a grip

    Gregor Burny: As funny as that video is of Tesco Silverburn last night it's pretty sad that folk get so raging over a TV tha'ts no really reduced that much.

    Govanite: #BlackFriday Glasgow Style. Tesco Silverburn shut down due to fighting

    Barry Douglas: These videos of tesco silverburn are genius im sure i seen my wee pops in there shouting pollok krew with a 50" plasma under his arm

     
  47.  
    09:49: Taste of success

    A pilot project being run in Dundee to help tackle malnutrition among older people is proving so successful it is hoped it will extend across Scotland.

    Meal Makers food scheme participants

    The Meal Makers scheme matches a volunteer cook with an elderly person through a website and, after checks are carried out, the cook prepares an extra portion of food once a week to take to the "diner" they have been paired with.

    The scheme will be rolled out in Glasgow in the new year.

    The Food Train charity, which runs the scheme, hopes it will then extend across Scotland over the next two years.

     
  48.  
    09:46: BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    Hermiston- EDN City Bypass - 1 lane closed. Slow traffic - Road traffic collision E/B btw Calder Junction and B701 (Baberton Junction). Ambulance is there

     
  49.  
    09:40: Deila backs 'brave' Bhoys

    Manager Ronny Deila says Celtic can look forward to the knockout phase of the Europa League despite losing 3-1 at home to Salzburg.

    Celtic manager Ronny Deila looks on

    With the Austrians winning Group D, Celtic progress as runners-up after Dinamo Zagreb's loss at Astra.

    In the last-32 Celtic will meet a group winner or one of four third-placed teams from the Champions League.

    Deila said: "I think in the second half we showed a lot of what we can do as well.

    "They showed courage to get back in the game and I'm proud we really attacked them but we could not get the equaliser."

     
  50.  
    09:34: Oil price keeps on falling

    Brent Crude oil is still losing value - down by 5% in just one day of trading.

    The drop takes the price of a barrel to a four-year low of less than $73.

    Oil rig

    David Ridland, of CastleBay Investment Partners, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that oil rich countries such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait met in Vienna yesterday and decided not to cut production.

    "They've got a production cap of 30 million barrels a day. In truth, the underlying demand is 29 so there is a greater supply than demand at the moment and that's led to the falling of prices," he said.

    "Why have they done that? Because it's a game of chicken, a game of chicken with the US in particular and the shale gas industry, which is obviously a new entry that's come on."

    Mr Ridland added: "Production in oil and gas in the US is at a three-decade high. Combine that with a slight over-supply with Opec, and a decline in demand particularly from places like China and Europe. With the sanctions in Russia having an impact as well, that's leading to a short-term weakness in the oil price."

     
  51.  
    09:26: Today's papers

    Most of today's front pages are devoted to the recommendations of the Smith commission on further devolution - and the contrasting reactions from the political parties.

    'Blueprint for a stronger and better Scotland' is the headline in the Scotsman, while The Herald focuses on the "furious clashes" that erupted after Nicola Sturgeon described the report at "disappointing".

    bbc

    The Times says the SNP has vowed to fight for more powers, and the Scottish Daily Mail accuses the "bitter" SNP of raining on its own parade.

    Read our full review here.

     
  52.  
    09:18: Black Frightday

    A shopper caught up in the Black Friday frenzy at a Tesco store in Glasgow has told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme she never wants to repeat the experience.

    Shoppers at Black Friday sales in Tesco Silverburn, Pollok, Glasgow

    Police were called to stores across the country after reports of scuffles among bargain-hunters.

    Fiona Murray was at the 24-hour Tesco at the Silverburn shopping centre in Pollok and said larger items like televisions had been placed in the foyer on pallets with a ribbon acting as a barrier.

    Staff were going to cut the ribbon at 00:01 but didn't get a chance.

    Ms Murray said: "I was at the back of the store and I was first in our little queue and it was a lovely atmosphere. All of a sudden you just heard one person trying to get in to see what was underneath the wrapped pallets.

    "That then caused someone else to try and grab it and they started to take the items before the staff were able to go in and allow it to happen, but there wasn't enough staff."

    She added: "It was really quite frightening to hear the people running to that area, and you were thinking someone is going to get squashed in a minute.

    "It was horrible. I could have gone back this morning but I've chosen not to."

     
  53.  
    09:08: BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    There will be a few mist or fog patches initially, although hill fog will be extensive over eastern Scotland.

    Outbreaks of light, patchy rain will continue to affect parts of the east with the odd spot trying to feed through the Central Lowlands at times.

    There will be more in the way of brightness towards the Glasgow area, with sunshine for the west coast and the north-west corner. Mild with highs of 10 or 11C.

    A fresh south-easterly wind will affect the east coast, strong to gale force over the Northern Isles.

     
  54.  
    09:01: Scotland's top book character is...

    The public has voted Francis Crawford of Lymond the most popular character from a Scottish book.

    Francis Crawford of Lymond

    The central character of Dorothy Dunnet's Lymond Chronicles was joined in the list by Ian Rankin's Rebus, Sherlock Holmes and Oor Wullie.

    Francis Begbie from Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting came second by one vote.

    The poll attracted more than 3,150 votes from 28 countries including Argentina, Singapore and Qatar.

    Edinburgh-based JK Rowling earned two places in the list for Hermione Granger (sixth) and Harry Potter (joint ninth).

     
  55.  
    08:53: Incinerator plans

    There are plans to build a multi-million pound plant in East Lothian, which will burn rubbish to create energy.

    The company Viridor says the new system at its site near Dunbar will incinerate around 300,000 tonnes of waste a year, preventing it from being dumped in land-fill sites. But environmental groups claim the emissions are toxic.

    Rubbish in a refuse lorry

    Martin Gray, from Viridor, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that the concerns are unfounded.

    He said: "In terms of the energy recovery facilities themselves, it is literally the material that can't be recycled that goes in the front end.

    "People can be reassured in terms of this established proven and safe technology operating across Europe. And it rigidly complies with stringent national and international standards."

     
  56.  
    08:44: Today's Morning Call BBC Radio Scotland

    Yesterday's Smith commission report recommended the Scottish parliament be given new powers over some taxes and welfare payments.

    But do the proposals go far enough? Kaye Adams is joined by Stephen Gethins, former special adviser to Alex Salmond and political commentator, and former Labour advisor Simon Pia.

    And it's Black Friday - so we want to know if you queued all night and did you get yourself a bargain?

    Get in touch and let us know: Text 80295 with your views.

     
  57.  
    08:37: Aberdeen bypass 'ahead of schedule'

    The Aberdeen bypass will be completed ahead of schedule, the Scottish government has announced.

    Bypass sign

    It was originally estimated that the £745m project would be finished by the spring of 2018.

    But Infrastructure Minister Keith Brown will today confirm, on a visit to the North-East, that the completion date has been brought forward to the winter of 2017.

    The new deadline also applies to work to dual a section of the A90 between Balmedie and Tipperty.

    Mr Brown said the committed investment of nearly £1bn by the Scottish government in transport infrastructure in the North-East underlines its determination to deliver for the area.

     
  58.  
    08:31: Celtic lose...but qualify

    Celtic qualified for the knockout stage of the Europa League despite falling to defeat at home to Salzburg.

    Stefan Johansen pulled one back for Celtic against Salzburg.

    Salzburg's win secured the Austrians' top spot in Group D, with Alan scoring twice in the first-half and Naby Keita adding another late on.

    Celtic's riposte came from Stefan Johansen and they played more assuredly after the break, but they were undone by Salzburg's initial zeal.

    Astra defeated Dynamo Zagreb in Romania to ensure Celtic finished second.

     
  59.  
    08:24: On the roads BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    A92 Fife - Road traffic collision where B946 comes onto A92, (near Williamson bus depot, not far from the Five Roads Roundabout). Affecting the road both ways.

    M90 Friarton Bridge Southbound - Road traffic collision involving a lorry and car - blocking lane 1 of 2 - at the north end of the bridge. Traffic busy on approach.

    A9 Southbound - Reports that one lane is blocked by an accident southbound between A822 (Greenloaning) and B8033 (Ashfield).

    Crianlarich- Traffic light failure on A82 Westbound between A85 and Inverarnan means slow traffic. Problem with the temporary traffic lights on a bad bend. Police are en route.

     
  60.  
    08:16: Black Friday frenzy

    Police were called to a Tesco supermarket in Glasgow at about midnight after reports of scuffles among bargain-hunters at the start of so-called Black Friday.

    tesco at silverburn glasgow

    The 24 hour-store at the Silverburn shopping centre in Pollok was closed for a short time.

    Police were also called to a Tesco store on the Kingsway in Dundee after hundreds of shoppers packed the car park and queued for cut price goods.

    There were no arrests in either incident .

     
  61.  
    08:10: Craig Whyte to appear in court

    Former Rangers owner Craig Whyte will appear in court in Glasgow later after being detained as he arrived in the UK from Mexico.

    Craig Whyte

    The 43-year-old was held at Heathrow Airport on Thursday before being brought to Scotland.

    He was held on an arrest warrant in relation to an investigation into his takeover of Rangers in 2011.

    Extradition proceedings were not required.

     
  62.  
    08:02: Clutha benefit gig

    A benefit gig will be held later in memory of the victims of the Clutha tragedy.

    Clutha crash scene

    A police helicopter crashed through the roof of the pub on Friday 29 November last year, killing ten people and injuring dozens more.

    Tonight a charity show will be held at the Barrowlands to mark the first anniversary of the tragedy.

    Meanwhile, the families of the victims are still waiting for the conclusion of a report by the Air Accidents Investigations Branch into why the crash happened.

     
  63.  
    08:00: Paul McLaren BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and welcome to another instalment of Scotland Live as we offer you a comprehensive round-up of news, sport, travel and weather from across the country between now and 18:00.

     

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