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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...

News

Scottish Government ‘happy’ to accept Electoral Commission’s independence referendum question

January 31 2013

The Scottish Government has agreed to change the question it will put to voters in next year’s independence referendum, after concerns were raised its preferred version could be biased towards a yes vote. First Minister Alex Salmond had proposed to ask: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” However, the independent elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission, said using the phrase “Do you agree” was commonly felt “to be biased towards a yes outcome and potentially leading people towards a yes vote”. The Scottish Government has accepted the commission’s recommendation that the question should instead be: “Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No.” Subject to the approval of the Scottish Parliament, this is now likely to be the question put to people in the referendum due to take place in autumn next year. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government accepts all the commission’s recommendations on the question and the campaign spending limits. The watchdog suggests higher spending limits than the SNP administration in Edinburgh proposed. Ms Sturgeon said she was “particularly delighted with the conclusion the Electoral Commission has reached on the question”. She said: “While its view is that our proposed question was clear, simple and easy to understand, I am nevertheless happy to accept their recommended change. “Their advice is based on rigorous testing and we will submit the Electoral Commission’s recommended question, Should Scotland be an independent country?, to the Scottish Parliament as part of the Referendum Bill.” Ms Sturgeon also gave her backing to the spending limits the commission has suggested, saying “they deliver a level playing field and will allow a fair and balanced debate on both sides”. She said: “We have always said that Scotland’s referendum will be run to the highest international standards of fairness and transparency and the Electoral Commission plays a vital role in that.” John McCormick, electoral commissioner for Scotland, said: “Any referendum question must be, and be seen to be, neutral. “People told us that they felt the words ‘Do you agree’ could lead voters towards voting yes.” The commission “rigorously tested the proposed question, speaking to a wide range of people across Scotland”, he said.

Motoring news

Form an orderly Q for Audi SUV

August 10 2016

First there was the Q7. Then the Q5 and Q3. All have been a phenomenal success for Audi. I’d be surprised if that script changes when the Q2 arrives in November. Audi’s baby SUV is available to order now with prices starting at £22,380. Can’t quite stretch to that? Don’t worry, an entry level three-cylinder 1.0 litre version will be available later this year with a cover tag of £20,230. From launch, there are three trim levels available for the Q2 called SE, Sport and S Line. The range-topping Edition #1 model will be available to order from next month priced from £31,170. While the entry-level 113bhp 1.0-litre unit isn’t available right away, engines you can order now include a 113bhp 1.6-litre diesel and 148bhp 1.4-litre petrol unit, both with manual or S tronic automatic transmissions. Also joining the Q2 line-up from September is the 2.0-litre TDI diesel with 148bhp or 187bhp. This unit comes with optional Quattro all-wheel drive. A 2.0 litre petrol with Quattro and S tronic joins the range next year. Standard equipment for the new Audi Q2 includes a multimedia infotainment system with rotary/push-button controls, supported with sat-nav. Audi’s smartphone-friendly interface, 16in alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and heated and electric mirrors are all also standard for the Audi. Along with the optional Audi virtual cockpit and the head-up display, the driver assistance systems for the Audi Q2 also come from the larger Audi models – including the Audi pre sense front with pedestrian recognition that is standard. The system recognises critical situations with other vehicles as well as pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle, and if necessary it can initiate hard braking – to a standstill at low speeds. Other systems in the line-up include adaptive cruise control with Stop & Go function, traffic jam assist, the lane-departure warning system Audi side assist, the lane-keeping assistant Audi active lane assist, traffic sign recognition and rear cross-traffic assist.

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

UK & World

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.

Motoring news

New Audi range is electrifying

June 7 2017

Audi has been relentless in its expansion over the past decade, scattering new models like confetti. It shows no sign of slowing down as we head towards the end of the decade. If anything, in fact, the company is increasing the pace of its model range expansion. The most recent news is the announcement of two new “Q” models – which will bring its SUV range to five – and three all-electric e-tron models. The German car maker intends that at least 30 per cent of its sales will be of electric or part-electric models by 2025, and aims to have the technology available for driverless city cars within four years. The plans were outlined to Audi shareholders during the brand’s AGM in Neckarsulm, Germany. Chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We are rejuvenating our model portfolio enormously and will renew five existing core model series by mid-2018. “In addition, we will expand our successful Q family by 2019 with two new concepts – the Audi Q8 and the Audi Q4 – and we will launch our battery-electric e-tron models.” The Q4 and Q8 will have coupe-like rooflines similar to BMW’s X4 and X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe. Three new electric Audis will appear by 2020, and the brand will then introduce electric versions across its core model ranges. Audi is also taking over the development of autonomous car technology across the Volkswagen Group and the first examples of driverless cars will be launched early in the next decade. Meanwhile the new ‘myAudi’ programme will establish a digital platform for online services across the range. The latter half of 2017 will see Audi update its luxury flagship models. A new A8 will be unveiled later this month and will be followed by a new A7. Audi haven’t confirmed yet but it seems likely we will soon see replacements for other older models in the range such as the A1, A6 and Q3. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk

Legal challenge against decision on ‘offensive’ party slogan after Jo Cox murder

January 24 2018

The leader of a political party has launched a High Court challenge against a decision to brand one of its electoral slogans “offensive” in the wake of Jo Cox’s murder.The Batley and Spen MP was stabbed and shot in her constituency by Thomas Mair in June 2016, during the final week of the referendum campaign.Following a review after her death the Electoral Commission removed the phrase “English Democrats – England worth fighting for!” from ballot papers for the by-election for her former seat in October of that year.The commission concluded the word “fighting” would be associated with its “violent, primary, literal meaning” by a significant number of voters in the polling booth.Robin Tilbrook, founder and chairman of the English Democrats, argued the commission was wrong to remove the slogan and said the party should have been consulted.Representing himself, the solicitor told the High Court: “We didn’t think it was offensive.“We are a small party with very little money and we rely on being visible on the ballot paper to get our message out.“To lose something like that with no power to resist and no opportunity to be consulted in advance is just potentially devastating.”Lawyers for the commission said Mrs Cox’s “politically motivated murder by Mair, who shouted “Britain First” as he killed her, created “electorally extreme” circumstances for the by-election.Philip Coppel QC, for the commission, said: “Apart from being a murder, and apart from leaving her two children motherless and her husband without a wife, this was an act that struck hard at the core of the democratic electoral process.”Mr Coppel added: “It was an act of extreme violence and an act that (Mair) publicly maintained was done in the name of putting country first.“It is that context which heightened the sensitivity attached to any word which associated violence with a particular cause.“In that context, for a ballot paper to include as a party description a call to using violent means would, at the very least, be inappropriate and ill-judged.”He said it was reasonable for the commission to conclude a “significantly large number of voters” would, in the privacy of the polling booth, associate “fighting” with violence rather than campaigning.Mr Justice Supperstone reserved his ruling on the case until a later date.

UK & World

Leave.EU faces record fine and possible police probe over EU referendum spending

May 11 2018

Brexit campaign group Leave.EU has been fined a record-equalling £70,000 and its chief executive has been referred to police over its spending during the EU referendum campaign, the Electoral Commission said.The pro-leave group, co-founded by former Ukip backer Arron Banks, failed to include £77,380 in its spending returns, taking it 10% over the limit for non-party registered groups, an investigation found.The commission said the actual overspend figure “may well have been considerably higher”, adding that the group had presented “incomplete and inaccurate” information.Leave.EU’s chief executive, Liz Bilney, who signed the spending returns, has been referred to the Metropolitan Police, with the commission saying it had “reasonable grounds to suspect that the responsible person for Leave.EU committed criminal offences”.Mr Banks attacked the Electoral Commission (EC) and threatened to take legal action over its findings.He said: “We view the Electoral Commission announcement as a politically-motivated attack on Brexit and the 17.4 million people who defied the establishment to vote for an independent Britain.”He added: “The EC went big game fishing and found a few ‘aged’ dead sardines on the beach. So much for the big conspiracy!“What a shambles. We will see them in court.”Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he added that the commission was made up of “former MPs, liberal MPs, the SNP, former Labour leaders of councils, all sorts of people that all believe in Remain”.The £70,000 fine handed out by the Electoral Commission matches its previous record financial censure, handed out in March 2017 to the Conservatives for offences during the 2015 general election campaign and by-elections the previous year.A separate probe into spending by the official Leave campaign, Vote Leave, is continuing, the EC said.The £77,380 which was not included in the spending was fees paid to the company Better For The Country Limited, the campaign organiser.The commission investigation also found that three loans from Mr Banks, totalling £6 million, had been incorrectly reported by Leave.EU.It was also criticised for failing to report services from US strategy firm Goddard Gunster when it should have done.The commission said it was satisfied that the overall overspend  “was in fact greater, given the failure to report an appropriate proportion of the cost of services provided by Goddard Gunster”.The organisation additionally failed to provide invoices or receipts for a further 97 payments of more than £200, which together totalled £80,224.But the commission said it found no evidence that controversial tech firm Cambridge Analytica had made donations or provided paid-for services, and its role was limited to “initial scoping work”.The controversial firm’s role in the referendum has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent weeks.Electoral Commission chief executive Claire Bassett denied claims of bias made by Mr Banks.She told Today: “The decisions were made by directors of the Electoral Commission, they were made based on robust evidence we had gathered, and indeed you can see that in the 30-page report that we published.”Ms Bassett added that there was evidence of problems with financial reporting, saying: “It is quite clear that those transaction returns contained inaccurate information about purported loans to Leave.EU and it also contains significant errors about how money was spent – money was missing and invoices were missing.”Tory MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said Mr Banks and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s communications director, would face questions from the committee next month.Senior Electoral Commission officials will appear before it on May 15, he added in a tweet.

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

Readers' letters

February 11: Is political obstinacy the barrier to taking a sensible line on power generation?

February 11 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - I never thought I would find myself in the same camp as the awesome and awful Donald Trump, but he has got one thing right it is worrying that Scotland is depending more and more on tourism as the saviour of the economy. There is nothing wrong with tourism it has led to an enormous upsurge in the quality of restaurants, hotels, etc but it is manufacturing that is going to pay the bills, and that is going down rather than up. Westminster and Edinburgh plug green power for all it is worth, resulting in the ruination of many magnificent landscapes with pylons and windfarms in direct contrast to what is desired by the tourist industry. Many of your readers have put far better than I am able how inefficient wind power is. Much more worrying is how likely it is that we are going to run out of power altogether and become reliant on European neighbours, who have more sense than we do, for necessary imported power. Nobody in Britain is investing in new and proper power stations. We have under Scotland about a 500-year supply of coal. We also have the technology to extract cleanly electric power from this coal. Why are we not doing the sensible thing and creating thousands of jobs in extracting and using this coal and becoming a massive exporter of power? Political obstinacy? Flexible thinking, it seems, is highly regarded in every area, except where it involves a politician doing a u-turn. Robert Lightband.Clepington Court,Dundee. Rugby club finances are in robust health Sir, - I refer to the article published in The Courier on February 6, reporting Cupar Community Council's support of Howe of Fife RFC's efforts to explore the possibility of it creating clubhouse facilities at Duffus Park, Cupar. The club welcomes the community council's support of this venture. However, the comments in the article attributed to its chairman, Canon Pat McInally, as regards the club's financial integrity were wholly inaccurate. Howe of Fife RFC is not, and never has been "...just about bankrupt..." as Canon McInally was quoted as saying. To the contrary, the finances of the rugby club are in robust health with its clubhouse operation trading profitably. I am sure that neither Canon McInally, nor any of the members of the community council, would have intended to cast doubt on the club's financial well-being, but, that, unfortunately, is what the article has achieved. In these circumstances, it is important that the record be set straight in order to allay any unfounded concerns that may have been raised amongst both the club's membership and the general public. Over many years Howe of Fife RFC has built a deserved reputation as a force in developing youth rugby. The project currently under consideration is driven by the club's ambition to build on that reputation and, ultimately, if possible, to provide improved facilities for all its members, but, in particular, the youth of the club. David Harley.President,Howe of Fife RFC. Where is the evidence? Sir, - Isn't living in Scotland interesting? Despite 75% of the electorate declining to vote SNP last May and the referendum being at least two years away, Ian Angus claims in his letter (February 8) that Mr Salmond has a "mandate for independence"! As if that's not enough he has decided that those who choose not to vote in the referendum must be opposed to the union, so a vote of less than 50% for independence will give the "green light" to go ahead with negotiations. Where on earth does he get the evidence for these statements? Kenn McLeod.70 Ralston Drive,Kirkcaldy. Memories of Willie Logan Sir, - The article on the 50th anniversary of Loganair brought back memories of founder, Willie Logan. In the early 1960s my parents lived in Magdalen Yard Road, overlooking the Riverside Drive airstrip. Blazing oil drums lining the grass runway often announced the early morning arrival of Willie to inspect work on the Tay Road Bridge. I worked for a spell then at Caird's in Reform Street, and on occasions there would be a hammering on the door before opening time, as he came post-haste from Riverside looking for a quick haircut! John Crichton.6 Northampton Place,Forfar. The road is not to blame Sir, - I refer to an article you ran on the front page quite recently, Shock at speeders on the A9. As an ex-driving examiner and member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I know the A9 having used it for years and have experienced some dreadful acts of overtaking at speeds over the limit. I certainly do not blame the road. All roads are safe without traffic. Neil G. Sinclair.St Martins, Balbeggie,Perthshire. Poor response Sir, - Further to your recent article, Windfarm response is positive, which referred to a proposal to erect a windfarm alongside the A822 tourist route between Crieff and Aberfeldy at a site above Connachan Farm, it may be illuminating to point out that the conclusions were based on only 50 responses a 1% return of the 5,000 survey questionnaires! A totally insignificant response. John Hughes.Crieff. Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.

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