The Three Most Disturbing Problems in Scottish Politics Today

Although Scottish Politics have managed to establish their own government and parliament, there are some “grey” areas that have been the subject of debate and controversy not only among political parties, but the media and public opinion in general.

Based on media coverage and political analyst reports, these are currently the top 3 controversial issues of Scottish Politics today:

1) Scottish independence debate

The Scottish independence debate is currently the no1 issue of the Scottish political agenda occupying the majority of headlines in media, over the last few years.

The debate is focused around the question of whether Scotland should remain a part of the U.K or establish its independence as a sovereign state, with radical political and socio-economical reforms as a result.  The political parties actively favoring the Scottish independence act are the Scottish National Party, the Scottish greens, and the independent MSP member Marco MacDonald while Scottish Labour party and the liberal democrats are standing against.

The government announced the launch of a referendum to give Scottish people the chance to hold the future of Scotland in their own hands in Autumn 2014, but it is still unclear what will be the result since the public opinion seems divided. The latest public opinion polls have revealed a slight majority of Scottish people voting against the independence but things are still unclear since the gap is becoming smaller with each month.

2) London’s influence and Scottish inability to self-regulate the press

As a dependent secondary state member of the United Kingdom, Scotland received very little attention from large British media like the BBC. While Scotland has its own media, they are still subject partially to press regulations and media influence of London. The Scottish press and the media have received numerous harsh critiques from the public and independent political analysts in the past accusing them of political propaganda and violation of free speech that serves the interests of London-which is currently the main constitutional state of authority of U.K. The problem is further fuelled by Scottish inability to self-regulate press and the major division and disagreement of the main political parties of Scotland.

3) Very limited power in Europe

Scotland is currently a single constituency member of the European Parliament with only 6 members representing the interests of Scotland independently. Even though the country has its own higher educational institutions, organizations, trade unions, financial services and a total population of over 5 million, Scotland is not a sovereign state to claim more power in the European Union Parliament. This of course brings a series of extra concerns and questions (e.g. How will be Scotland represented in the European Parliament in case becomes a sovereign state?), which again stem with the issue of public independence.

It is obvious that the common denominator here in which all other major Scottish political problems arise, is the issue of Scottish Independence which is still unsettled and highly controversial. The issue is complex in all aspects and the Scottish government will have to find solutions for the future of Scotland-who is currently at stake- and take into consideration alternative scenarios whatever the results of the public referendum in 2014.


The 3 Greatest Accomplishments of Lewis Macdonald While on the MSP

Lewis Macdonald was always a strong influencer in Scottish politics. As a Scottish Labour party high member and member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) since 1999, he’s been looked to as a leader and role model among the Scottish Labour party for decades.

An original Scottish native, Lewis Macdonald was willing to be involved with public matters concerning Scotland and served as Parliamentary researcher for MPs Frank Doran and Tom Clarke prior to his election in Scottish Parliament in 1999.Ever since, he has contributed significantly on on the fight for Scotland’s best interests and awareness of various socioeconomic issues that beset Scotland and the UK, trough various key governmental positions.

Among others, Lewis Macdonald has played a ministerial role in the following areas:

Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong learning from 2003 to 2004. As a deputy minister of Enterprise and Lifelong Learning, Lewis MacDonald assisted the Enterprise Minister and all governmental officials involved in all matters related to Enterprise and life-long Learning such as enterprise networks, business innovation, regional selective assistance, wholesale industry, business analytics, business ethos, retail industry, post offices, union liaison, corporate social responsibility, school’s enterprise, lifelong learning strategy, skills development, adult literacy and numeracy, training policy, work welfare and many other relevant matters.

Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Development from 2004 to 2005. During his incumbency as a Deputy Minister For Environment and Rural Development,  Lewis Macdonald was partially responsible for agriculture,  forestry, fisheries, environment, natural heritage, land reform, crafting, water quality control, and sustainable development affairs.

Deputy Minister for Health and Community care from 2005 to 2007. In this two-year position, Lewis Macdonald has contributed along with the main minister in public health matters, general health, wellbeing, pharmaceutical services, food safety control, dentistry, learning disabilities, substance misuse, older people welfare, social care and games.

Apart from these great accomplishments, Lewis Macdonald has also contributed a great deal on parliamentary committees on construction, diabetes, food, audit, health, tourism, culture, sports, economy, human trafficking, oil, gas and energy matters. As a member of the cross-party group in the Scottish parliament on construction, he assisted in developing of Scotland as a word-class construction industry and offering the best value for clients, an ideal environment and industrial employment opportunities for its people.  Similarly, he has assisted in bringing awareness and providing solutions to the sectors mentioned above.

Since 2011, he is also responsible for representing North East Scotland in the Scottish Parliament. In this current position, Lewis Macdonald main responsibilities include the consideration of constituents’ concerns, the proper representation of North East Scotland regional matters, and the offering of advice to the North East Scotland residents. Lewis Macdonald is also a member of the co-operative party which is concerned with trading and commercial issues, co-operative ethos, morals and regulations. Additionally he is a member of the Referendum Bill Committee- a committee formed by members of all parties for the legislation of the 2014 referendum on Scottish Independence. Furthermore, he is a patron of the Aberdeen FC trust which as well-known football club with rich history in Scotland and the U.K.


The 5 Most Valued Ideals of the Scottish Labour Party

Scottish Labour party is a left-centre political party that was officially established around 1900, merging the Labour Party of England and Wales (ex Labour Representative Committee) and the Scottish Labour party.  The party managed to grow in popularity over the last century and formed a majority government in the years:  1945-1950, 1964-1970, 1974-1979 and 1997-2010. Ever since 2010, the party serves as the main oppositional movement of the government.

The Scottish Labour party among others, supports the following 5 ideals.

1. Better interests, opportunities and better conditions for the working class

The party was formed mainly to be an active voice of the interests of the working class and the improvement of work conditions as a part of the “trade union movement”- a collective organization of working people and teams that actively support better working conditions and their fair treatment by the employees and the government, through the passing of relevant laws and regulations.

2. The pursuit of social justice

According to their official website and other resources, the party actively promotes the values of social justice, equality of opportunity and unity among people of all ages. The party believes these ideals must be identified and promoted at a young age, to form an equal society in the future. To support this cause, the party advocated the improvement of the level of public debate concerning poor children and the rejection of biased, politically-charged language that demonizes children who live in poverty and unfavorable conditions.

3. A ruling bdy based on social democracy

The party identifies itself as social democratic party,  that supports the values of a free market and the minimization of excess capitalism problems like extreme income inequalities, poverty and oppression of various minorities. The party believes in a carefully planned mixed economy that involves the government, stakeholders, trade unions and of course the citizens.

4. A leadership built on Political Decency

The party lists “decency” as one of their main values in their official website.  The party refers to the respect of honest and ethical political expressions and the value of different voices and views regarding a specific issue and government policies in general. Supporting the cause, the Scottish labour party recently  launched a campaign for British political decency in an attempt to minimize unethical and unfair political expression after daily mail published an article on Ralph Miliband’s life with the title “The man who hated Britain”, accompanied by the pun “a grave socialist” underneath a picture of Miliband’s grave. It was estimated that over 15000 British people signed the campaign in just a few days, which is an indicator that the value of political decency, is highly supported within the British society.

5. Rights matched with responsibilities

Although Scottish Labour party is an active supporter of equality measures of the working class and citizens in general, this doesn’t mean that responsibilities and respect of the nation’s law and regulations should totally loosen, as this may lead to social chaos and disorder. In other words, every citizen should feel free to support his rights and values, as long as he/she is obedient and respectful of established societal and national laws, duties and regulations.

The Scottish Labour party states the above values openly in their official website, although there a mild debate whether the party is actively involved in the promotions of these ideals- something totally expected since the party has two large parties as political opponents: the Conservation party and the Liberal Democrats.


How Do Irish Women Get Such an Amazing Locks?!

Whether ginger or any other hair color, Irish hair is a source of pride. According to national statistics, 46% of Irish people have ginger colored hair and the rest have mostly brown or dark blonde hair while the least common hair color is brownish black. More than 75% uses branded hair care products and the hair care market has grown by 2% over the last few years amounting to sales that reach £145 million in Ireland alone—which is something quite impressive considering the fact that other UK countries like England, Wales and Scotland barely hit £357 million sales in total (annually).

Making the most of your Irish hair is no rocket science—you just need the right routine, tools and products to make your hair shine—and keep it that way of course.

Here are the best ones:

•If you belong in the majority of gingerheads, you are both “blessed” and “cursed”—“blessed” in the sense that your natural red hair stands out from the crowd and cursed because red hair. According to hair experts requires more care as it has the natural tendency to frizz or look a little washed out in the sun.

How to fix this: Wear a hat or a hair spray with and SPF to protect your hair from sun and other damaging environmental elements e.g. the wind. Alternatively, you can use a leave in conditioner to moisturize and protect your hair at the same time.  The best leave in conditioner according to Velvet Tresses is Bumble and Bumble leave in conditioner.

•Deep condition your hair once in a week with a hair mask, specially formulated for red hair. Even though you hair might be naturally red, a mask or products in general targeted towards women with red hair can bring out your natural hues and make the color more vibrant.

•Be gentle with your hair. Your hair responds exactly to how you treat it—if you treat it like it’s a wild monster it will look wild, whereas if you treat it gentle it will look smooth and supple—you got the idea. Thus, it would be wise to use styling tools  (combs, brushes, hair dryers, etc) gently in a way that doesn’t damage the hair shaft.

•Get your hair trimmed a few inches, every two months. If you think that trimming your hair ends just a little prevents hair from growing back, you are mistaken. The truth is, when your hair ends are damaged, your hair will get thicker but it won’t grow easily in terms of length. So save some money, to visit your local hairdresser for a trim.


Why 12 Scottish Men Stopped Shaving for an Entire Month

This is a story of how 12 Scottish men stopped shaving and why they grew some of the manliest facial hair ever. In 2009, during the “No-Shave November”, a group of 12 Scottish men stopped shaving and grew their beards out for the whole month. Their reason is to support a local charity.

2009 was the year of the Scottish Homecoming. Scots all over the world were invited to return to their Scottish roots. This can be done by returning or visiting Scotland or even just engaging some of the old Scottish traditions. The official end of the homecoming year was on November 30, 2009.

A group of 12 men including pastors, youth and volunteer workers decided to take advantage of “NSN” or No Shave November to grow their beards to raise funds for a local charity called “The Ark”. The Ark is a non-alcoholic night club targeted for young people. It is a safe place where young people can hang out over the weekends without the worries of street violence.

The group felt that by growing their beards they were engaging on the tradition of a bearded Scot. Most of the men in the group, have never had grown facial hair due to the pressure of modern society. For them, it was a good idea to grow their beards on the last month of the Scottish Homecoming Year and to end it on the last day as well.

How did the men feel about growing out their beards?

Most of them were apprehensive about growing their beards. Most of them have never had facial hair and did not even know they could grow their hair. They also had worries about the anticipated itchiness and the change to their looks.

After the 30 days was up, all of them felt that growing their hair had been liberating. They didn’t have to worry about shaving and how others especially people close to them felt about their beards. Some like Alex changed their views of themselves and also noticed how other people’s views of him have changed as well.

Others have appreciated the benefit of the warmth it provides during the cold times. Alex compared it to wearing a balaclava.

Some of the men in the group are planning to continue to grow their beards as long as they can like Alex and James. Most however, plan to shave again because of the itchiness coming from growing it out. Ron stated that he didn’t like that food was hiding beneath the growth. He also didn’t like how random people stroke his beard without his permission.

All in all, they all felt that the experience was liberating and was a great experience. And on top of this, they are also happy that they were able to contribute to a good cause. They raised over £1000 Sterling and feel really great about being able to do so with an easy act such as growing their beards.


Should High Carb Foods Be Banned in Scotland?

According to the 2012 statistics, the diabetes rate in Scotland continues to rise with an estimated rate of about 10,000 individuals per year, causing me to think about low carb diets. Approximately 5% of the population has diabetes and the majority of this group has type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes can be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle.

One of the top causes of diabetes is obesity. High carbohydrate foods are the main contributors to obesity. While carbohydrates play an important role in the proper functioning of the body, excessive consumption of carbohydrates, especially high carb foods can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Top 10 High Carb Foods:

  • Fructose and granulated sugar
  • Hard candies, gummies, and drink powders.
  • Sugary cereals
  • Low fat crackers, potato chips, and rice cakes
  • Dried fruits
  • Flour, cookies, and cakes
  • Potatoes including french fries
  • Jams and preserves
  • Sweet pickles, salad dressings, and sauces
  • Pizzas

As discussed above, although carbohydrates are necessary for the body to function properly, high carbohydrate foods when consumed in excess are very unhealthy. High carb foods are also tastier thus making it difficult for a person to resist consuming them. With the rising trend of diabetes in Scotland, it may be effective to actually ban or at least limit the consumption of high carb foods.

Instead of high carb foods, low carb foods are recommended. What are examples of low carb foods? Below are some of them:

  • Spinach, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables. One serving has about 3 grams of good carbs.
  • 1 medium carrot that is about 7 inches has 8 grams of carbohydrates.
  • Tomatoes are also low carb foods and complex at that. Complex means it takes more calories to burn. 1 medium sized tomato has 7 grams of carbohydrates but then a normal person wouldn’t eat a whole tomato at a time.
  • Green beans have about 5 grams for every three fourth of a cup.
  • Broccoli is another low carb food. It has 8 grams of highly complex carb.
  • Green peas, sugar snap peas, and snow peas have about 10 grams of carbohydrates and also have good fiber.
  • A full cup of bean sprouts has 6 grams of carbohydrates.
  • A medium sized cucumber has about 9 grams of carbs. At a time, a person only consumes a third of a cucumber.
  • 2 medium stalks of celery have only 3 grams of carbs. Also, the fiber makes it a food that a person cannot eat too much of.

Low carbohydrate foods are very beneficial to treating obesity and contributing to weight loss. Aside from weight loss, the consumption of low carb foods compels the person to give up junk food. The dieter would also find themselves consuming more vegetables that contain essential vitamins. In effect the skin and hair will be healthier and more youthful in appearance. The digestive system will also be rejuvenated because of the extra fiber that the person would be consuming.

Really, the benefits of low carb foods are endless as it ultimately leads to a healthier, happier person.



5 Surprising Facts You Didn’t Know About Scottish People

Just like any other groups of people all over the world, Scottish people are subject to certain connotations and stereotypes. Blame it to the media, Scottish people, particularly the men, are stereotyped as wearing a kilt, having red hair, very pale, loves fighting when drunk, loves to have a good time, especially with women, and very patriotical.

While some of the stereotypes may be true, some are plainly born out of creative imaginations, as depicted by shows and movies. Learn more about the Scottish people here:

Aside from the stereotypes, there are certain things that many of us did not know about the Scottish people. Here are 5 surprising facts about them:

1. Scottish people can be particularly silent

If you get to stay in Scotland, you will certainly be surprised to see that contrary to the common stereotype that Scottish people are dour and noisy, they are generally very silent. This is true especially around people whom they are not really familiar with. After a few drinks, though, they will begin to warm up and become friendly with you.

2. Scottish people do not hate the English

This popular belief ensued because most Scots make the Englishmen as topics in their pastime and jokes. However, while it pretty normal to take offence especially against people who are quick to criticise, but Scots are generally polite and respects their own country, much more to that of the others.

3. Scottish people are bound with a huge drinking culture

As a matter of fact, only a few social occasions happen without drinking. Because of this, there are alcohol related issues which are being addressed in the country. Even the younger people love the drinking culture. This is probably one of the reasons why they are being stereotyped as heavy drinkers.

4. Scottish men do not wear a skirt; a kilt is not a skirt

Though the kilt may look like a skirt, it’s actually not. This piece of clothing is typically worn during weddings and other social events like the Highland Gatherings. There is a more casual version of the kilt, and they are mostly worn by rugby and football fans during international matches.

5. Not all Scottish Men have red hair

Again, blame it on the media. The truth is, Scotland is just like any other country facing globalization. Different types of people exist here. Some are a product of mixed races and interracial marriages. Though the earlier Scottish people may be the redheaded ones, time has changed this style.

Yes, Scottish people are interesting. They are a unique group of people. They have their own culture, own style of living, own way of dealing with each other. Bottom line is, they are still people. They may be unique in the eyes of the other people who do not do the way they do, and look the way they look, but they can be very interesting on their own. Just like any other nationality existing on the surface of the earth.