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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  26.  
    14:13: Match ban for Celtic fans

    Two men who were among 13 people held by police during a march by the Green Brigade group of Celtic fans have been given one year football banning orders.

    Poster

    Nicholas Diplacito, from Lanark, and Mark Glancy, from Glasgow, were arrested during the unofficial march in the Gallowgate area in March last year.

    Glasgow Sheriff Court heard they behaved in a threatening manner and struggled with police officers.

    Diplacito must also carry out 135 hours of unpaid work. Glancy was fined £630. Almost 200 officers were deployed to the march which took place before Celtic played Aberdeen.

     
  27.  
    13:50: Making waves...

    HMS Edinburgh has been put on sale after Edinburgh City Council decided that preserving it as a tourist attraction would be too expensive.

    A report commissioned by the council found that the financial costs of the attraction were too great.

    The ship has been listed for sale, along with HMS York and HMS Gloucester, on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website.

    A campaign to save the vessel was unsuccessful.

     
  28.  
    Text 80295 13:40: Poll tax - Your views

    Davey Wands. Methil: The poll tax was unfair in 1990, and it's still unfair in 2014. I paid it, but I think it's very unfair and reeks of Toryism to chase a 25-year-old debt.

    Anon: I want a rebate too. Why should those who don't pay always get off with it?

     
  29.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 13:35: Your pictures

    Michael Duignan: A Red Admiral butterfly enjoying the sunshine in Paisley today.

    A Red Admiral butterfly

     
  30.  
    Text 80295 13:22: Poll tax - Your views

    Andrew, Aberdeen: Good decision. Councils should move on instead of pursuing ancient debt on a tax that was abolished due to being unfair. Resources better spent pursuing more recent debt and on current priorities.

    Angus, Caithness: If u can afford to pay your way, but don't, u should lose voting privileges the same as other criminals.

    Craig, Cumbernauld: If everyone stuck together when Margaret Thatcher was forcing the poll tax upon us then no one would have had to pay it. Well done the people who fought the poll tax, we need to stop lying down to these Tory punishments. Scotland the Brave, what a joke.

     
  31.  
    Text 80295 13:10: Poll tax - Your views

    Ken, Kirkcaldy: If the debtor has been located then add the poll tax arrears to their current council tax bill. Recovery and fair.

     
  32.  
    12:55: Edinburgh 'hate crime' attack

    An attack which left a Chinese man seriously injured in Edinburgh is being treated as a "hate crime," police say.

    The 37-year-old restaurant worker suffered multiple injuries including stab wounds when he was assaulted by three men in the West Pilton area on Wednesday.

    The man was assaulted in the West Pilton area

    The man is in a "serious" condition in hospital.

    One man was detained in connection with the attack and police are following a positive line of inquiry in relation to the other suspects.

     
  33.  
    12:52: Sheeran & Grande strike right chord

    Ed Sheeran and Ariana Grande are the first performers to be announced for the MTV Europe Music Awards in Glasgow.

    Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande

    The music awards will be hosted in the city's SSE Hydro on 9 November.

     
  34.  
    Text 80295 12:42: Your views

    Michael: Is it just me or does Andy Murray play better when his mum is away? (Doing Strictly).

     
  35.  
    Text 80295 12:38: Poll tax - Your views

    Moe McCann: Good for Alex Salmond. It may not be cost effective to try to recover ancient debt. It was unfair then and much more so now.

    Bill Docherty, Peterculter: Well done Alex for applying common sense on poll tax. Tories on the right wing backlash against the Scots already. You can't take blood out of a stone and, like any potential long-term debt, once it's gone it's gone.

     
  36.  
    12:35: Poll tax debts

    The Scottish government will being in new laws to stop councils pursuing people for historic poll tax debts.

    First Minister Alex Salmond announced the move after it emerged local authorities were using the electoral register to chase outstanding bills.

    The poll tax, or community charge, was introduced to Scotland in April 1989 and replaced by council tax in 1993.

    Mr Salmond told MSPs it was misguided for councils to use current records to chase debts from decades ago.

     
  37.  
    12:32: Universal credit response 'undermines vow'

    Referencing Nicola Sturgeon's letter, First Minister Alex Salmond says the roll=out of universal credit "undermines unionist powers vow to devolve further welfare powers".

     
  38.  
    12:29: Poll tax John Beattie BBC Scotland

    FM announced at FM questions at Holyrood that poll tax debts are to be scrapped by Scottish government.

     
  39.  
    12:25: Murray serves notice...

    Sixth seed Andy Murray has breezed past Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-2 6-2, in an hour and 19 minutes, to reach the quarter-finals of the China Open.

    Andy Murray
     
  40.  
    12:16: NHS funding

    Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asks what the Scottish government will do to protect NHS funding in Scotland?

    Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson

    The first minister repeats that health funding will continue to rise, and alleges that the Conservatives's "lack of care towards the health service staff" in England has led to the prospect of a strike.

     
  41.  
    12:07: Poll tax debts

    First Minister Alex Salmond says that the expanded electoral roll, as result of the independence referendum, should not be used to collect outstanding poll tax debts.

    First Minister Alex Salmond

    It is believed that some voters disappeared from the electoral register to avoid paying the tax in the late 1980s.

    "After 25 years it's about time that the poll tax was dead and buried in Scotland," says Mr Salmond.

     
  42.  
    12:05: Armed raiders target Balloch home

    A West Dunbartonshire couple endured a "traumatic" experience after being confronted by two armed men in their Balloch home.

    The 56-year-old woman answered the door of her home in Buchanan Avenue on Tuesday evening and saw a man who appeared to have a firearm.

    The man and his accomplice forced their way inside before struggling with the woman's 63-year-old husband.

    The couple were uninjured before the suspects fled empty handed.

     
  43.  
    12:01: FMQ's rumbles into action

    First minister's questions is under way at Holyrood. You can follow live text coverage here.

     
  44.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 11:57: Your Pictures

    Shelley Waugh, Dundee: Taken while driving to Skye this week, Eilean Donan Castle looked picture postcard perfect in the warm autumn sunshine.

    Eilean Donan Castle
     
  45.  
    11:49: Never Miss A Beatt... John Beattie BBC Scotland

    Going to talk about parental leave, kids drinking and driving, and the "sharing economy". Anyone used these "sharing" websites?

    The Beattie Show gets under way at 12:00, you can listen live here.

     
  46.  
    11:44: Political debate Andrew Black Political reporter, BBC Scotland

    Hi! Follow live coverage of Scottish first minister's questions here.

     
  47.  
    @EveningExpress 11:35: Body found in flat identified Evening Express

    tweets: BREAKING: Man named after body found in Aberdeen flat.

    Read the full article here.

     
  48.  
    11:28: 'Dreams do come true'

    A centre for children's literature inspired by Peter Pan is one of several projects awarded grants by the funding body Creative Scotland.

    Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust

    The Peter Pan Moat Brae Trust aims to turn the house in Dumfries that JM Barrie claimed was the inspiration for his story, into a centre for children's literature and storytelling.

    The £687,000 award will help the trust develop its plans.

     
  49.  
    11:19: Teeing up Europe's next captain?

    With the dust having settled on Europe's Ryder Cup win at Gleneagles, attention turns to who will succeed outgoing captain Paul McGinley.

    Darren Clarke

    BBC Scotland's Tom English donned his plus fours before delving into the thorny issue of the captain's contest, noting that Darren Clarke is the white-hot favourite.

    "In racing parlance - a language that the golfer will understand given his fondness for the sport - [Clarke] is coming into the final furlongs still on the bridle while his nearest rival, Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez, is under the whip," writes the bold Tom.

    Read the rest of his thoughts here.

     
  50.  
    11:09: Power plant

    Petrochemical firm Ineos has agreed to buy the power plant which supplies its Grangemouth industrial site.

    The gas-fired heat and power plant, which already supplies the Ineos refinery in the Forth Valley town, is being bought from Finnish energy company Fortum for £54m.

    Ineos is currently building a new £300m ethane gas import and storage facility at Grangemouth.

     
  51.  
    11:02: Ill wind over turbine plan

    The firm behind plans for the largest wind farm on Lewis has ended its interest.

    Wind turbine

    GDF blamed delays in laying a subsea cable needed to carry electricity generated on the isles to the mainland, and rising costs.

    The French energy giant was to invest in the planned 39-turbine scheme on Lewis's Eisgein Estate.

     
  52.  
    @thecourieruk 10:58: Dundee restaurants forced to close The Courier

    tweets: Dundee restaurateurs hit out after double closure.

    Read the full article here.

     
  53.  
    @edinburghpaper 10:51: Pilton delivery driver attacked Edinburgh Evening News

    tweets: A police probe has been launched into an attack in Pilton last night. Man seriously hurt.

    Read the full story here.

     
  54.  
    Text 80295 10:46: Parkinson's disease - Your views

    Alistair, Howwood, Renfrewshire: Guid on the Big Yin! My mum bravely coped with Parkinson's for the last 12 years of a full life. Like many of her generation they gave a grand example of coping in diversity. The Parkinson's Society was a help but she, like Billy and Margo, found that inner strength necessary for all who are afflicted with the disease.

     
  55.  
    10:39: Holiday pay ruling

    CBI Scotland has warned that a recent court ruling on holiday pay could cause businesses to fold.

    The European Court of Justice said workers should receive regular overtime, commission and bonus payments during paid leave.

    Money

    Until now, only basic pay was part of the holiday entitlement.

    CBI Scotland's Andrew Palmer said the cost to employers could run into billions of pounds.

    "In Scotland and across the UK we could see job losses, we could see major infrastructure projects come to a stop, we could see the loss of overtime and really it stops confidence in Scotland and in the UK," he warned.

     
  56.  
    10:34: What's on the back pages?

    Celtic manager Ronny Deila has defended his criticism of the fitness levels of the squad he inherited from Neil Lennon in the summer.

    The Norwegian contends that if the players don't want to be "24-hour athletes" they should find work outside of football.

    Celtic boss Ronny Deila and Andy Murray Ronny Deila insists chips won't be served up for Andy Murray's dinner

    Deila used Cristiano Ronaldo as an example of how fit his players should be, and Andy Murray, with Deila insisting that there's no way the Scottish tennis star eats chips.

    Read the rest of the sporting headlines in our round-up here.

     
  57.  
    10:22: Government rejects welfare delay call Glenn Campbell BBC Scotland news

    The UK government has rejected a call from the deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to halt the implementation of universal credit while the Smith Commission considers what new powers should be devolved to Holyrood.

    In a letter to the prime minister, Ms Sturgeon argued that pressing ahead with the new system could make it harder to give the Scottish Parliament control of housing benefit, which both the Conservatives and Labour are proposing.

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Downing Street has confirmed receipt of the letter. But a UK government spokesman said they do not want to pre-empt the work of the commission and, until it has reported, government business will continue as planned.

     
  58.  
    10:15: Keep on running...

    Training schedule ahead of this weekend's Great Scottish Run? Check. Suitable running shoes in anticipation of pounding Glasgow's streets? Check. Sorted out a venue for post-race meal? Check.

    Great Scottish Run route

    BBC Scotland's animated map showing the route? Check.

     
  59.  
    newsonlinescotland@bbc.co.uk 10:07: Police firearms - Your views

    Bert in Fife: Have the advocates against armed police got nothing better to do than whinge on about the very people who put their neck on the line almost every day of the week to protect the public?

     
  60.  
    Text 80295 10:04: Police firearms - Your views

    Davie Rose, Grantown: What a waste of money, changing the holsters to "hide" the guns and batons. I have nothing to worry about the police having arms.

    Gordon: We wouldn't dictate to a surgeon who was going to save our life so we shouldn't dictate to officers who protect our lives. If we do, we have no right of complaint when something goes wrong.

     
  61.  
    09:58: 'Realities of policing'

    Specialist armed police officers in Scotland will in future only be deployed to firearms incidents or where there is a threat to life.

    The move came following concerns from politicians about officers carrying weapons while on routine patrol.

    Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Labour MSP Graeme Pearson, a former senior police officer, said it was a positive move.

    "It is to be welcomed, it creates a safer environment in our communities," he added

    "To try to suggest that Scotland was quite happy to see officers routinely armed and wandering about our communities is a complete mismatch with public opinion.

    Police officers with firearms

    "I welcome the fact that the chief constable has realised the realities of policing in Scotland and has made the right decision."

     
  62.  
    09:52: Enchanted Forest returns

    The Enchanted Forest, a sound and light show, is returning for its 12th year.

    Enchanted forest Faskally Wood near Pitlochry

    The annual event was first held in October 2002 near Dunkeld, but has been based in Faskally Wood, near Pitlochry since 2005.

    This year's show - titled Elemental - will run from 3 to 26 October.

    Prepare to be dazzled by the preview pictures of the spectacle here.

     
  63.  
    Text 80295 09:41: Police firearms - Your views

    Anon: Police should not be carrying guns because they are too trigger happy when handling speed guns.

    Liz: The Scottish Police Authority hasn't advertised their evidence-gathering exercise very well. How many people in Scotland know anything about it? And filling in an online questionnaire isn't acceptable, the questions are always skewed to get the answers the organisation wants. It's definitely not democracy.

     
  64.  
    09:38: Man falls from Hebridean cruise ship The Press and Journal

    tweets: Man taken to hospital after cruise ship fall.

    Read the full story here.

     
  65.  
    09:33: Arrest follows Bishopbriggs death

    Police have arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with the death of John McFarlane in Bishopbriggs.

    Mr McFarlane, 28, was seriously injured after being attacked near his home in the town's Auchinairn Road at about 22:35 last Thursday.

    The arrested man is expected to appear at Glasgow Sheriff Court on Friday.

     
  66.  
    09:26: Travel update BBC Scotland Travel Latest

    tweets: M9 heading into Edinburgh - very slow from Linlithgow to J2 Philpstoun - low sun glare is the problem here.

     
  67.  
    09:20: On this day...

    On this day in 1947 the paddle steamer Waverley was launched from A. & J. Inglis's yard on the Clyde. The Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world.

    She was in danger of being decommissioned in the early 70s, but in 1974 she was bought by enthusiasts from the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society.

    The paddle steamer Waverley

    Today in 1854 the pioneer of modern urban sociology, Patrick Geddes, was born in Ballater.

    Along with Adam Ferguson, Geddes founded modern sociology and urban planning.

     
  68.  
    Text 80295 09:07: Police firearms - Your views

    Margaret, Glasgow: I welcome the u-turn on guns on the street but, to be honest, I also think that Mr MacAskill brought them in on the quiet so that they'd be there in case of riots and other problems at the referendum.

     
  69.  
    08:59: Renewable energy

    Economic development agency Scottish Enterprise is putting £450,000 into an international fund which supports renewable energy projects.

    The fund, worth about £5.5m, aims to back ocean-related schemes like wave and tidal technology.

    Countries including the UK, Spain, France and Ireland will be able to apply for cash when the fund opens on 23 October.

     
  70.  
    Text 80295 08:52: Police firearms - Your views

    Heather, Edinburgh: You've heard of the saying 'I don't tell you how to do your job'. Police, nurses, firefighters do a great job. If anybody has a right to say whether police carry guns, it's them. They are on the frontline and should decide.

    John: The present chief constable should remember that the police are supposed to serve the public and that Scotland is not a police state.

     
  71.  
    08:45: Read all about it...

    "Hands Up, I Surrender" is the headline in the Daily Record above a photo of Police Scotland's chief constable Sir Stephen House after yesterday's announcement on armed police patrols.

    Thursday morning's papers

    Both The Herald and The Scotsman describe the decision that armed officers will no longer be deployed on routine patrols as a "U-turn".

    The prime minister's promise to cut tax for millions of families if the Tories are re-elected is the main lead for the Scottish Daily Mail.

    Read the rest of our newspaper round-up here.

     
  72.  
    Text 80295 08:35: Police firearms - Your views

    John in Fortingall: Please be careful how you describe this change. There will not be fewer armed police officers on duty. They will still be on armed patrols. It is just that they will not be attending routine calls, even if they are the closest resource. They will be reserved for specialist armed incident and threat to life duties only.

    John, East Kilbride: Why is it always said police on the streets? Where? In their cars is more likely, not like the old days.

     
  73.  
    08:31: Morning Call - Your views Louise White Presenter, Morning Call

    Campaigners have hailed a decision by police to overturn the policy of some officers carrying guns in public. We're asking: how much influence should the public have over the police?

    And, at the start of a 22 night sell-out tour of Scotland, Billy Connolly has made light of his health problems. What is it like living with Parkinson's disease?

    The lines are open now. 0500 92 95 00, or text 80295.

    You can listen live from 08:50 here.

     
  74.  
    08:20: Scottish universities - Your views

    Following on from our story on Scottish universities, did you attend any of those famous seats of learning? Care to share your memories of university life? Do you ever wake up at 03:00 in a sudden panic that you've missed a tutorial/exam?

    Get in touch via text to 80295, email here or tweet using #ScotlandLive.

     
  75.  
    08:15: Moving on up...

    Four Scottish universities have climbed up the Times Higher Education world rankings, despite the UK coming under pressure from overseas competition.

    Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen universities all performed better than last year.

    However, Dundee University dropped out of the top 200.

    Glasgow University Glasgow University climbed to 94th in the latest rankings

    In first place overall was the California Institute of Technology in the US, holding on to the top spot for the fourth year running.

    Glasgow was 94th and St Andrews 111th. They had shared 117th on the rankings last year.

    Aberdeen university was ranked 178th, up from 188.

     
  76.  
    @bbcscotlandnews using #scotlandlive 08:08: Your Pictures

    Douglas Sinclair tweets: Red sky in the morning in the island paradise of Orkney.

    Orkney
     
  77.  
    08:06: Sturgeon urges welfare reform delay

    Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appealed for major UK welfare reform to be put on hold in Scotland.

    She has written to Prime Minister David Cameron asking for a delay until plans for new powers at the Scottish parliament are considered.

    Nicola Sturgeon

    Universal credit is replacing six benefits and tax credits for working-age people with a single payment.

    It is being phased in across the UK by 2017 and is already available to some claimants in Inverness.

    Lord Smith's commission has been set up to seek agreement on a further devolution of powers to Holyrood.

     
  78.  
    08:02: Weather forecast BBC Scotland Weather Latest

    Good morning, Kirsteen here. Mostly dry today during daylight hours, with some brightness & sunshine. S/W winds will strengthen along the west coast... reaching severe gale-force across the Western Isles, Skye & n/w coast. Gusts of up to 65mph. Rain will spread from the west later, too.

     
  79.  
    08:00: Welcome Thomas McGuigan BBC Scotland News

    Good morning and a warm welcome from the Scotland Live team on Thursday 2 October as we bring you a comprehensive round up of news, sport, travel and weather between now and 18:00.

     

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