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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Dundee FC ‘standing by’ Paul McGowan after he is spared jail for police assault

April 15 2015

Dundee FC officials have pledged to stand by midfielder Paul McGowan in the wake of his third conviction for police assault. The 27-year-old was spared jail during an appearance at Airdrie Sheriff Court, instead being subjected to a restriction of liberty order that confines him to his home between 7pm and 7am for 16 weeks. McGowan had previously admitted assaulting a police officer and breach of the peace. He will have to wear a tag and hispunishment will rule him out of evening fixtures including next week’s midweek clash with his former club Celtic. The court heard McGowan “charged toward” two police officers who attended a disturbance at Wheatholm Street in Airdrie in the early hours of November 23 last year, and later threatened to kill them. He subsequently kicked another officer on the body as his arrest was beingprocessed at Coatbridge Police Station. It was McGowan’s third such conviction for assaulting a police officer. While a St Mirren player he wassentenced to 130 hours of unpaid work and handed a one-year supervision order after he admitted kicking two officers. But Sheriff Derek O’Carroll spared him jail after hearing he had instigated regular counselling through PFA Scotland, the players’ union, in addition to social work sessions. His solicitor Liam O’Donnell told the court that social work reports “finally give some indication that the accused is getting it in terms of his offending”. Mr O’Donnell added: “He was not in any trouble from the age of 16 to 23. At age 23 he separated from his partner. The reasonhe separated has been attributed to an underlying gambling problem. “This gambling problem seems to be the root of his offending.When he takes alcohol his anger about the gambling problem seems to come out through aggression.” Mr O’Donnell revealed the player was undergoing voluntary counselling each week through the Paisley-based RCA Trust, which helps people with alcohol andgambling addictions. “He is fully supported by his club,” he added.“The managing director of DundeeFootball Club (John Nelms) is present in court to indicate his support because he is addressing matters.” After listening to the address, Sheriff O’Carroll reminded McGowan of theprevious occasions he had been convicted of offences. “And here you are again facing similar charges,” the sheriff said.“It’s quite correct to say that you are on the cusp of custody and certainly that’s in the thoughts of the court.” However, he proceeded to sentence McGowan to the tagging order, provided he continues with the counselling. “If you breach the order you will be brought back here and I have already advised you what the outcome will be,” the sheriff added. Mr Nelms, who was accompanied in court by players including captain James McPake, declined to answer questionsoutside court. McGowan also declined to comment but Mr O’Donnell said: “He is relieved with the outcome and he knows he needs to modify his behaviour. He appreciates the support of his club and others.” A statement from Dundee FC outlined the club’s support for the popular player. It read: “The club does not condone the behaviour which has led to this and wouldn’t from any member of our staff. We fully respect the decision made by the court and Dundee FC will be standing by the player. “Paul is an integral part of the club and we will be working alongside the PFA with him as he bids to positively resolve hisoff-the-field issues. “With the support of the manager, his team-mates and club staff, we hope Paul will be able to move forward and be part of another successful season next year at Dens Park. The club will be making no further comment on the matter.”

Motoring news

Join the queue for littlest Audi Q

November 9 2016

Audi’s relentless release of new models continues with the launch of its smallest SUV. The Q2 goes on sale in the UK next week with prices starting at £22,380. There’s an extensive selection of petrol and diesel power trains as well as the option of front or Quattro four-wheel drive. More models will be added to the range later on, including powerful SQ2 and RSQ2 versions. Aimed squarely at a younger audience, the Q2 has bolder, sharper lines and a different shape to Audi’s bigger SUVs, the Q3, Q5 and Q7. Although it’s clearly meant more for buzzing around cities than growling across farmland, cladding and skid plates lend it an aura of ruggedness. Audi is also offering a range of vibrant colours to deepen the Q2’s appeal to youthful buyers. The interior is as plush as you’d expect from Audi, justifying its price hike over similarly sized SUVs like the Nissan Juke and Honda HR-V. The materials are high quality – softtouch plastics, leather on higher spec cars and brushed aluminium trim elements all blended into a smart-looking package. As standard, drivers get a seven-inch infotainment screen on top of the dashboard. It’s operated through Audi’s rotary dial system that’s far more intuitive and easier to use when on the move than rivals’ touchscreen systems. Among the many options is Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit - a 12.3in screen that replaces the manual instruments behind the steering wheel. Overall, the Q2 is 4.7in shorter than the A3 hatchback, but Audi says there’s enough leg and headroom for two adult passengers in the back. Boot space comes in at 405 litres – 50 more than you’ll find in the A3 hatchback and rival Nissan Juke, although it trails the Mini Countryman by the same amount. To begin with, the only diesel option is a 1.6 litre with 114bhp, although a more powerful 184bhp 2.0 litre unit will be added to the range soon. Similarly, the petrol engine range is limited for now but will be expanded by the end of the year. The 1.4 litre, 148bhp unit offered now will be joined by 1.0 litre, 114bhp three cylinder turbo and 2.0 litre, 187bhp options – the latter coming with an S-Tronic automatic gearbox. When it arrives the 1.0 litre petrol version will be the cheapest model in the range with a price tag of £20,230. Courier Motoring has yet to get its hands on the car but early reviews have been very positive and Audi looks to have yet another winner on its hands. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


Jeremy Corbyn’s absence from Scottish Labour conference played down

March 18 2016

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has insisted it is a "new age" for the party as she was quizzed on Jeremy Corbyn not addressing its spring conference this weekend. Ms Dugdale's comments come as it emerged neither the UK party leader would be speaking nor shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who is in Glasgow at a business conference on Friday. She said she leads the party in Scotland and was in charge of what happens. "He (Mr Corbyn) didn't need an invite and he didn't decline to come," Ms Dugdale told BBC Radio Scotland. "This is the last Scottish Labour Party conference before the elections. I'm the leader of the party, I lead an autonomous Scottish Labour Party, I'm in charge. "I work very closely with Jeremy Corbyn - we are good friends. He doesn't need to be there to offer support to me, or indeed to the Scottish Labour campaign." Last week, the party confirmed Mr Corbyn will be campaigning in Scotland ahead of May's Holyrood election but would not be attending the conference. She was also asked about Mr McDonnell's attendance at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) conference and whether he had declined to go to the party's Glasgow conference which gets under way on Saturday. Ms Dugdale replied: "No, John McDonnell will be speaking at the FSB conference today and he will also be launching a couple of different MSPs' campaigns over the weekend. "This is a new age in the Scottish Labour Party, where the Scottish Labour leader is in charge of what happens in Scotland. "I'm incredibly supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and very loyal to him. "We are a good team and part of being a good team is knowing when to take your place and this weekend I'm going to lead the Scottish Labour Party towards the Scottish Parliament elections. It's really that simple." Mr Corbyn did address the Scottish Labour conference in Perth in October. Speaking on the Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Dugdale also discussed the party's proposal for a 1p rise in the basic rate of income tax which she said would generate around £475 million. Four times during First Minister's Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon condemned Chancellor George Osborne's Budget decision to raise the threshold for the top rate to £45,000 as the "wrong choice". Ms Dugdale added: "We have also argued, like the SNP, that we would oppose that increase in the threshold for middle income earners." The First Minister was pressed on how she would use new powers over the charge, which are coming to Scotland from 2017 and she said the party will outline its tax plans early next week, Ms Dugdale added: "All of these tax powers have one common theme and that is about using the powers of our parliament to stop Tory cuts. "That's the whole point of the Scottish Parliament - to take different choices, different decisions than the Tories in Westminster and it is high time we did that."


John McDonnell unveils Labour’s £70bn boost pledge for Scotland

March 11 2018

Labour’s shadow chancellor has pledged a £70 billion boost for the Scottish economy, as he insisted the party was “coming for power”.John McDonnell outlined how a future Labour government would increase spending north of the border, pledging money for public services and for infrastructure investment, along with the possibility of speed rail up to Scotland.He revealed details of the cash as he closed the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee.He said there could be an extra £3 billion a year in Barnett consequentials – cash that comes to Scotland as a result of spending decisions taken by the UK – amounting to £30 billion over 10 years.He also said Labour’s £250 billion National Transformation fund would see £20 billion spent in Scotland over a decade, that could help “rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and deliver key investments such as extending HS2 to Scotland”.A UK National Investment Bank could provide another £20 billion in Scotland over 10 years, helping small and medium businesses.Mr McDonnell said: “Let’s do the sums. Taken together, our commitments over a decade could mean an additional £70 billion for the Scottish economy.”And he compared the spending from Labour’s planned UK Investment bank with the SNP’s “measly £340 million” of initial capital for the “so-called Scottish Investment Bank”.He told the nationalists: “If you are going to steal our ideas, for goodness’ sake do it with a bit of style.”The shadow chancellor used his speech to condemn the austerity being imposed on people by both the UK Conservative Government and the SNP administration in Edinburgh.Under the nationalists he claimed Scotland’s economy was “stagnating”, telling party activists: “There has been nothing done in the last 10 years to grow the economy, to tackle the blight of poverty that is scarring Scotland.“Both north and south lives are being destroyed and millions have been left in despair, and it is thanks to the failed economic dogma of neoliberalism and austerity.“Austerity is a political choice, it’s not an economic necessity. And the Tories and the SNP, they chose austerity.“We choose the socialism, we choose the alternative.”With Scottish Labour having elected left-wing MSP Richard Leonard as its new leader in November, Mr McDonnell also insisted the party was heading back to power in both Westminster and Holyrood.He told the conference: “Let the message ring out from this conference and every Labour Party meeting. We have had enough, we’re not taking any more.“We’re coming for power and to power and we will seize it in Scotland as we will in the rest of the UK.”The results in the 2017 general election, where Scottish Labour increased its tally of MPs from one to seven, and came second to the SNP in several other areas, had “cheered his heart”, he said.Mr McDonnell told the conference: “You’ve not just won seats now, you’ve made us close to winning in many more Scottish seats that are now considered marginals.“And its these seats that will hold the key to victory at the next election. So Scotland will decide whether we have a Labour or Tory government. You will be the people who will make the difference.”

Scottish politics

Labour figures eyeing up independence are ‘living in fairyland’, says party veteran

August 23 2016

Labour grandee Tam Dalyell has said those in the party warming to Scottish independence on the back of the Brexit vote are “living in fairyland”. Former First Minister Henry McLeish and David Martin, who is Labour’s longest-serving MEP, are among the senior Labour figures who have said they could be converted to the independence cause. Official Scottish Labour policy is to oppose a second referendum on secession until at least 2021, but leader Kezia Dugdale has been accused by some quarters of softening her pro-Union stance. Delivering his assessment of those in the party shifting towards independence, Sir Tam told The Courier: “They are living in fairyland. I think they are wrong. “McLeish and others had better realise that there is no chance of an independent Scotland being admitted into the European Union. “No prime minister of Spain would allow it and nor would the Germans.” Mr McLeish, who led a Scottish Labour government in 2000/01, said earlier this year the party must abandon its strategy of “just saying no to independence” and advocated a “new alternative of real home rule”. Mr Martin, who is on Ms Sturgeon’s Standing Council on Europe, has said independence is “worth considering” if Scotland cannot retain access to the single market. Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley revealed last month that he would not oppose a second independence referendum, saying the Brexit vote had shifted the debate. His boss Ms Dugdale reprimanded on live radio yesterday saying it was “wrong” for Mr Rowley to take that stance against party policy. Sir Tam, who was an MP in Scotland for 43 years and a fervent Unionist, called on MPs from all parties to block Brexit. “I believe it is up to every member of Parliament to do the right thing and to vote against the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “I would hope the House of Commons blocks Brexit and I have very strong views on this.” He said the referendum result does not have to be enacted because “people were lied to and misled by (Boris) Johnson and others”. “You look at what Brexit would mean for places like Dundee, and the damage it could do to universities like Dundee, and I am very angry about it,” he added. Article 50 is the legal mechanism through which member states leave the EU. Political and constitutional experts disagree on whether Parliament has to vote on whether it is triggered.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.


Shadow chancellor John McDonnell urges Scots voters to ‘come home’ to Labour

September 28 2015

Labour's shadow chancellor John McDonnell has issued a plea to voters in Scotland to "come home" to the party. In his keynote speech to the Labour annual conference in Brighton, Mr McDonnell said he was "devastated" at the party's collapse north of the border in May's general election, which saw the SNP take 56 of the 59 available seats. He accused the SNP of letting its left-of-centre voters down on issues like wages, rents and taxes and insisted that Labour was now "the only anti-austerity party" in Scotland. "I was devastated by Labour's losses in Scotland," said Mr McDonnell. "The SNP has now voted against the living wage, against capping rent levels, and just last week voted against fair taxes in Scotland to spend on schools. "So here is my message to the people of Scotland. Labour is now the only anti-austerity party. Now's the time to come home." Labour lost more than 300,000 votes and all but one of its 41 MPs in Scotland in May, as its share of the vote plummeted from 42% to 24%. SNP depute leader Stewart Hosie said: “Mr McDonnell’s comments confirm that when it comes to Scotland Labour haven’t changed. “Rather than learning from their mistakes and setting out a positive vision for the country, they are repeating the same negative and ill-informed rhetoric that saw them all but wiped out in Scotland at the last election. They may have changed the messengers but it’s the same tired old message. “Labour’s economic plans are all over the place. While the SNP went into May’s election opposing austerity and campaigning for a real-terms increase in public spending, Labour ran scared of the Tories and backed their draconian cuts and welfare reforms. “While the SNP remain firmly opposed to George Osborne’s pro-austerity fiscal charter, John McDonnell just last week mandated Labour MPs to troop through the lobbies with the Tories yet again to back the plans, just as they did when they voted for £30 billion of cuts in the last Parliament. “Labour have now lost all credibility and no one will take these claims remotely seriously.”

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km