It can be difficult to keep up with the news. That’s why we do the hard work for you, making sure everything is written up each Sunday ‘For The Record’.
With regards to Covid, local news continued along the same trends followed in previous weeks. An alcohol ban on the ScotRail network came into force, designed to reduce the risk of transmission due to drunken behaviour, as 11 council areas across West and Central Scotland entered Tier 4 restrictions. This meant non-essential shops, pubs, restaurants, and gyms were forced to close, with schools remaining open. The new restrictions will remain in place until December 11th.
The number of people who have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 rose to over 5000 this week. The first related death was reported on March 14th.
In Scottish politics, much of this week’s debate centred on alleged comments by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson reportedly called devolution – the process which established the Scottish Parliament – a ‘disaster’ in a private call with Conservative MPs. This was met with outrage by many Scottish politicians, including of course the SNP.
In St Andrews, varied stories made headlines. Of note for our readers, these included the news that Willie Rennie MSP has called for students to be tested for Covid on their return to the University following winter break, as well as before they go home, to prevent a repeat of mistakes made this semester. Also, Samantha Nisbet from Kinkell Byre – a beloved venue for student-ran events – told the Courier that over 70 events have been postponed this year. She called on the UK Government for additional support.
The big news nationally this week was political.
The first story of the week had to be Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement to the Labour Party after his response to the EHRC report finding Labour guilty of institutional antisemitism. Following a meeting of the NEC, Labour’s ruling body, which decided to readmit the former Labour leader as a member of the party, current leader Sir Keir Starmer declined to restore the whip to Mr Corbyn. This means that although a member of the Labour party, Corbyn will sit in the House of Commons as an independent MP.
The decision seems to have angered both sides of the debate. Allies of Jeremy Corbyn, such as Len McCluskey, leader of powerful union Unite, called for Corbyn’s immediate reinstatement as a Labour MP when he was first removed. At the same time, Corbyn critics and leading members of the Jewish community alike expressed regret at his readmission to the party at all.
The Conservatives did not make it through the week unscathed, either. First, of course, the early part of the week was spent scrambling to respond to the leak of Johnson’s alleged remarks over devolution. The second part of the week brought its own problems, with the resurfacing of allegations of bullying against Home Secretary Priti Patel, in the form of an unpublished report seen by the BBC.
Patel stands accused of breaking the ministerial code, albeit perhaps unintentionally, due to her conduct with civil servants. She is reported to have screamed and swore at staff in the Home Office, amounting to harassment and bullying. The Home Secretary denied all allegations while offering a half-apology for her behaviour, and the Prime Minister allowed her to stay on in the role. Sir Alex Allen, the PMs independent advisor on ministerial standards, has resigned as a result.
Covid, of course, contributed headlines this week. The PM is isolating once more after coming into contact with an infected MP, major vaccine trials are set to start in the UK with over 6000 volunteers taking part, and the NHS is preparing for a mass rollout of vaccination (and jabs) next year. The big question of the week has been the plans for Christmas. As of today, we still don’t know what restrictions will be in place for the 25th.
Finally, the Chancellor Rishi Sunak made headlines of his own. He has reportedly been considering a pay freeze for millions of public sector workers, while the government this week confirmed changes to the way it assesses value for money of large projects. This will remove a longstanding bias which has resulted in underinvestment in the North of England and other regions.
Big international news continued to be dominated by America this week.
The overarching narrative focused on the continued collapse of Donald Trump’s efforts to cling on to the presidency, despite losing the election by over 6 million votes nationally and 306-232 in the Electoral College. This loss was reinforced this week as Trump’s team lost and abandoned legal challenges in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and other key states.
Perhaps worst of all for the one-term President, president-elect Joe Biden was confirmed as the winner of the election in Georgia – dubbed #blorgia online – after the state completed an automatic recount of votes due to his slim margin of victory (less than 0.5%). Without Georgia, Trump has to overturn results in three other states to retain the White House – something which now seems impossible short of a constitutional coup.
Trump was also heavily criticised this week, even by some Republicans, after he fired a top election official who contradicted his claims of voter fraud. Trump said he “terminated” Cisa chief Chris Krebs earlier this week; Krebs reportedly learned of his dismissal via Twitter.
In other US news, four astronauts launched from Florida for the International Space Station this week. The trip was made in a rocket and capsule provided by SpaceX, a company founded by Elon Musk.
Setting aside the US, here are some other international stories to read if you find the time: