Black Friday is a new concept in Scotland and what a bonanza- with bargains to be had in most shops as the starting gun is fired on the Christmas shopping season. It's new to us but Americans have been at it for ages and it has come to represent a key fixture in the Thanksgiving Holiday calendar.
However, Black Friday means something altogether different if you are wintering on the Syria trail this festive season. In fact, it's fair to say that most days are pretty colourless if you face the prospect of suffering another night in a field somewhere in Eastern Europe waiting for papers or transport to the next stop on your journey. In the summer, it might just have been tolerable, but with the harsh continental winter fast approaching- grim nights in open fields could, with few degrees drop in Celsius, become fatal nights in open fields.
This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer stood in the House of Commons and set out his spending plans for the next 5 years.
The headlines were full of his decision to scrap tax credit cuts that would have hit 250,000 families in Scotland. I am proud that Lib Dems in the House of Lords helped force George Osborne to change his mind and scrap his damaging plans.
Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb also deserves real praise for helping secure £600 million to improve mental health services in England. At First Minister’s Questions this week, I urged Nicola Sturgeon to ensure that the extra money that Scotland will receive as a result of this decision is ring-fenced for mental health services in Scotland. The need for investment is just as pressing north of the border.
The case for a wider review into the operations of Police Scotland is now overwhelming.
Just his week it was confirmed by Interception of Communication Commissioner’s Office (IOCCO) that the force had breached the law on the interception of communications on five occasions, ‘adversely affecting’ four individuals.
Earlier this week, former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell was introduced to the House of Lords and made his first speech in a debate on the Scotland Bill.
This is what he had to say:
In keeping with many public lectures in the Highlands, albeit of a somewhat different nature, I start with a text: from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, chapter 51, verse 1 –
“Look unto the rock from which you are hewn.”
It is an enormous privilege to have been asked this evening to deliver the inaugural Charles Kennedy memorial lecture; to speak about one of my closest friends in politics, Charles, and how his politics were shaped by his roots in this Highland community, and the Highland Liberal tradition.
In 2012 I warned the previous First Minister Alex Salmond about the closure of police call centres. He laughed and said I was “spreading gloom and doom”.
After the closure of the Glenrothes and Stirling control rooms, calls from people in Fife and other parts of Scotland were transferred to staff at the Bilston Glen control room.
Ten years ago, the Scottish Executive signed an historic co-operation agreement with the Government of Malawi.
Building on ties first established by David Livingstone, the explorer, medic and missionary, this agreement has seen successive Scottish and Malawian governments work together and deepen these historic links.
I was pleased to speak at the annual "Science and the Parliament" event today - a get together for people involved in Scotland's science sector that I helped establish back in 2001. During my speech I talked about the importance of investing in research and evidence-based policy making.
The full text of my speech was as follows:
Yesterday the First Minister confirmed that journalists will be able to publish school league tables following the introduction of the National Standardised Testing. Nicola Sturgeon has previously hidden behind weasel words to avoid such an admission because she knows that league tables are incredibly damaging to education. When she was in opposition she was opposed to league tables. She was right then and wrong now.
This morning I had the chance to speak to a business audience from the Kinross-shire Partnership. My message to them was clear - we have seen real progress since the dark days of the recession. Now we need to take action to ensure that we are supporting businesses as they grow. I have called for a review of business rates to ensure that we do not penalize companies who choose to invest in their premises.
This is what I had to say: