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National Focus: Stories from Scotland

SNP Amendment Highlights Fractures in Labour

On Wednesday, 15 November, Keir Starmer was faced with a major rebellion as 56 frontbench Labour MPs voted for an SNP amendment which called for an ‘immediate ceasefire’ in the Gaza strip. Labour MPs had been told to either abstain or vote against this amendment, as UK Labour favours a ‘humanitarian pause’ and not a ceasefire, claiming that a ceasefire would give Hamas time to regroup.

While favouring a ‘humanitarian pause’ was the party line, Anas Sarwar, the leader of Scottish Labour, has also publicly called for a ceasefire.

Vaping Sees Exponential Increase in Scottish Schoolchildren

This week, the results of a 2022 survey were presented to a parliamentary committee on vaping. The rate of school children vaping has skyrocketed in recent years, with one in four 15 year-olds reportedly vaping in 2022, a huge increase from 2% seven years ago.

Additionally, the rate of school children vaping socially as opposed to habitually has also seen a massive uptick. According to the survey, 40% of fifteen year-olds had tried a vape in the last 30 days, even if it was not a regular habit.

To combat this issue, the First Minister is proposing a ban on single-use vapes, particularly because the price point, colourful appearance, and flavourings appeal to children. However, the First Minister has also made it clear that the ban must be handled delicately, as vaping is an invaluable tool in helping smokers quit.

Scrutiny Over Minister’s iPad Bill

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Health Secretary, has come under scrutiny for racking up a data bill on his government-owned iPad of over £11,000 while on holiday in Morocco.

The Government and Matheson have come to agreement, with Matheson agreeing to pay £3000 from his budget, and the rest being funded by the Scottish government. However, both these sums ultimately come from the public, which has prompted further scrutiny. The Tories are proposing a vote of no confidence over the incident, suggesting that Matheson would not have been able to use so much data while doing purely government work.

Image by Wikimedia Commons

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