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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...

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

Rocktalk

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.

Readers' letters

Merely highlighting the union’s failings

January 30 2014

Sir, The Nordic countries have recently come to the fore in the independence debate. The enviable record of prosperity and equality they share with the Alpine and Low countries has become a beacon for those espousing Scottish independence while, predictably, those who oppose it seek to tarnish that record with a selective concentration on income tax rates. While many in the “no” campaign hope that shallow scare story will be enough to neutralise the Nordic influence on the debate, others on the left are not convinced. They see the threat it poses to their assertion that Scotland thrives under the union. So they offer a different argument and claim the surest way for Scots to emulate the Nordic success is to put their faith in the strength of the UK and its ability to deliver it. However, there is a flaw in that assertion. If true, should Scotland not already be there? It’s not as if the union is a new construct that needs time to bed in. It has had many years to deliver prosperity and equality for Scotland. Instead, despite the union and an oil boom, Scotland lags far behind its small, independent neighbours. Indeed, this latest assertion from the “no” campaign merely highlights the failings of the union. Stuart Allan. Flat E, 8 Nelson Street, Dundee. Brits need to buck up their ideas a bit Sir, Up until last week I had been very concerned about the number of immigrants being offered work in this country when so many British people like myself are unemployed. However, I had a major building job to be done in my house last week and I felt very frustrated at the length of time it took and this was mainly because the builders arrived late in the morning, then took a tea break for an hour, had lunch for another 90 minutes and then an hour’s tea break in the afternoon. They also finished early. I do not think British people, particularly in the building trade help themselves gain employment by building this sort of reputation. A friend of mine was having building work done by a group of Polish workers. Although they spoke little English they arrived on time, took very little time off and stayed later. Is there a difference in the work ethic of British builders and their European counterparts? If this is the case then maybe the migrants deserve the work? Gordon Kennedy. 117 Simpson Square, Perth. It just doesn’t add up at all Sir A card was inserted into my copy of The Courier at the weekend that claimed my energy bills would fall if Scotland became a new state. As usual, this huge claim doesn’t specify how that “lower cost of living” would be paid for. Right now, Scotland receives much more energy subsidy than the rest of the UK. Last year, Scotland got almost five times the subsidy for renewable energy than the rest of the UK. The cost of some of those renewable devices is enormous. It’s an expensive policy. It can only be afforded because the UK pays it all. For myself, my renewable subsidy is thirty-eight times the regular price for your domestic electricity. That’s £6 a kilowatt paid to me, compared with the 15.5 pence many readers pay for electricity right now. With a new Scottish Government taking on all the subsidies paid for our renewables, how on earth could that same government afford these very high costs, AND cut our current bills? It just doesn’t add up. Andrew Dundas. 34 Ross Avenue, Perth. Completely bonkers? Sir, I cannot be the only reader who, having read Tuesday’s excellent contribution to your enquiry into fuel poverty, Bishop Nigel Peyton’s article about much the same thing and your article into just how poorly Dundee’s economy is performing, to read that Justine Greening proudly announced we are tripling Britain’s overseas economic aid to £1.8 billion. Has the government, having lost the plot some time ago, gone completely bonkers? Can one get a job lot of straitjackets? Robert Lightband. Clepington Court, Dundee. School run gases worse Sir, The article in Monday’s Courier regarding levels of air pollution in our towns and cities should give us all cause for concern, but I would like to see air samples taken outside our schools when the school run is on. Most of the vehicles used to ferry children to school do very short journeys and the vehicles do not reach operating temperature which means the engines spew out even more poisonous gases. Children and adults have to walk through this daily. It can’t be good for their health. Bob Duncan. 110 Caesar Avenue, Carnoustie. It’s obscene Sir, At last someone is highlighting the cost the royal family inflicts on the British taxpayer. The money lavished out on them is obscene while people are having benefits cut and some are having to choose whether they have food or heat. Alister Rankin. 93 Whyterose Terrace, Methil, Leven. Protecting the wealthy Sir, The condemnation of Ed Balls’ limited and modest proposal to raise the income tax threshold back to 50p for those earning more than £150k has come exclusively from the financial aristocracy. This same group of bankers and speculators (who caused the 2008 crash) have successfully lobbied against any regulation to stop a repeat. Instead the solution to the deficit has been a brutal and inhuman series of cuts to the living standards of working people under the guise of austerity. The UK Government is currently fighting the EU in court to stop legislation which would cap banker bonuses at 100% of their salaries. The reason the Chancellor gave when he reduced the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p was because it only raised revenue of £1 billion per year. This is half of what the bedroom tax is saving the government. The Tories don’t care about working people, they are only interested protecting the lifestyles of the obscenely wealthy. Alan Hinnrichs. 2 Gillespie Terrace, Dundee. No doctors will be involved Sir, As a humanist, I read the article “Staying in control until the last minute” (Courier, January 24), with interest. I am very glad that Dr Buist of Blairgowrie tries to talk his patients out of wanting his help in assisted dying. We, the very few, fewer than two per week out of Scots who die per week, who may want help to die should never ever seek help from a doctor. So, concern for professional medical principles is not necessary. Here in Dundee, a local humanist has developed SCOOP, a scheme whereby far-sighted adult Scots who wish to die stress-free and with dignity, may register this wish officially and when the moment comes as come it must for all of us they will qualify for the help of a compassionate registered facilitator who will supervise their demise in a dignified stress-free manner without any NHS involvement whatsoever. Once SCOOP is legalised this controversy will be resolved and laid to rest forever. Jean Clark. Temperance House, Brechin. They need to be alert as well... Sir, In response to M Clunie, “Need to alert pedestrians” (Letters, January 25), I would ask: “when will pedestrians become more alert to what is going on around them?” I cannot speak for cyclists, but most pedestrian mobility scooter drivers are very aware of their responsibilities towards pedestrians. However, they find that their vigilance is not reciprocated. Too many people wander around with their attention distracted by headphones, mobile phones etc, and seem completely unaware of prams , mobility scooters or others less able than themselves. Mobility scooters do have a beeper but people jump out of their skins and are none too pleased if they are used, so I find it better to quietly wait my turn, put an arm out to prevent someone inadvertently backing into me and warn them I am there if possible. More often than not there is an exchange of apologies and people are very kind and helpful. Mrs M Dumbreck. Mossgiel, Dysart. Gagging law danger Sir, I would like to thank Lindsay Roy, the Labour MP for Glenrothes for supporting the House of Lords’ positive amendments to the Gagging Law. Whilst the overall vote was lost, Lindsay stood up for democracy. The gagging law introduces new rules that would prevent non-politicians from speaking on the big issues of the day. Many charities and campaign groups have spoken out against it. Despite how vocal civil society has been about the issues with this law, the government are trying to rush it through without proper scrutiny. Groups that normally would not agree, have been united in speaking out against this law. Politics is too important to leave to political parties, and in a healthy democracy everyone should be able to express their views. Katrina Allan. 23 The Henge, Glenrothes. Why were they allowed? Sir, It is not only Asda’s sign which offends (Letters, January 21). Aldi in St Andrews has two massive signs, quite unnecessarily. How both were permitted by the council planners is beyond me. Let us hope Cupar’s Aldi is more restrained. John Birkett. 12 Horseleys Park, St Andrews.

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

Fife

Public asked to help solve seal mystery in the Tay

April 2 2013

WALKERS ARE being urged to help solve the mystery of the Tay’s declining seal population. In the past decade, numbers of harbour seals, which are also known as common seals, have plummeted, promoting scientists at St Andrews University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) to investigate why they are disappearing. One theory is that they are being killed by boat propellers. To get to the bottom of the mystery, the SMRU tagged a number of seals to monitor their movements. However, the tags have not been working properly. Seal tags are fitted with a mobile phone sim card to send back information, but this has malfunctioned. The SMRU is now asking members of the public to get in touch if they see a tagged seal so data can be recovered. Senior research scientist Callan Duck said: “If we can recover these tags, all that data is still being collected and we would be able to get all that information from them.” In recent years, seals have been washed ashore with strange corkscrew injuries, suggesting they had been fatally injured after coming into contact with propellers. The data on the tags could help scientistslike Mr Duck find out how the seals wereinjured. Harbour seals are not endangered but have declined in certain areas. Mr Duck said they are now becoming so scarce around the Tay and Eden Estuary there is a danger the local population could struggle to recover from further decline. Anyone who spots a tagged harbour seal on the banks of the Tay is asked to contact SMRU on 01334 463446. ENDS

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

Games jam played out well in Dundee

September 25 2016

Dundee  developers have come up with new virtual reality games in just 24 hours as part of a competition. A games jam took place from 4pm on Thursday until 4pm on Friday at Tag Games, resulting in games prototypes with names like Spider Spider, Mouse of Horrors and Terminal Station. The developers also created their own answer to the famous Boaty McBoatface, with a game titled Vanny McVanFace. Virtual reality, a form of technology that simulates a player's presence in a replica of a real environment, is said to be the future of games with some VR versions already present in many living rooms. Tag's marketing executive Gavin Moffat said: "At the games jam, staff split into four teams of four people - a designer, an artist and programmers. "They then had 24 hours to design a game prototype. "You would struggle to design a full game in that time, although it could be done if you're extremely good and the game is simple. "But with a prototype, you could then spend months perfecting and polishing it into a full game. "Some really great ideas can come out of these jam - you have to be creative and work fast. It was a great event. "This time the theme was virtual reality. Virtual reality headsets are already being used but it's difficult to say whether they'll become the default in gaming. "It could be the case that it's popular for a few years and then people get bored of it, or it could remain popular. "However, it certainly has great potential." Over the past 20 years Dundee has become an international hub for games developers with the world's biggest-selling video game - Grand Theft Auto - starting life in the city. Games jam are popular events where games developers get together to brainstorm ideas and create new prototypes within a short space of time.

Readers' letters

September 23: Name new Perth bridge after famous angler

September 23 2010

Today our correspondents suggest a name for a new bridge and discuss tax breaks for the computer game industry, green energy, religion and schools. Name new Perth bridge after famous angler Sir, One of your readers suggested that a bridge over the River Tay at Perth, intended for pedestrians and cyclists, was a waste of money. How very Scottish. The cost of £1.38 million appears a good investment given that Scotland is often seen as the sick man of Europe with high death rates from heart disease and strokes. Anything that enables us to improve our lifestyle by reducing the burden on our health services must be money well spent and the council should be applauded. As concerns a name for this landmark, might I suggest Ballantyne's Bridge after Miss Georgina Ballantyne, who will forever be linked with the river having caught a Tay salmon in 1922 weighing 64lbs - a UK record for a salmon landed by rod and line. Kenneth G. N. Stewart.Landalla,Florence Place,Perth. Throwing good money after bad Sir, I am not sure if Steve Bargeton was being tongue-in-cheek in his recent diary column (September 18) but his opinion on the computer games industry was neatly juxtaposed with an article on the opposite page about the collapse of Dundee firm Realtime Worlds. Your political editor says that providing £40 million of tax breaks per year to the sector would provide the public purse with a net gain of £400 million in tax receipts and create 3500 graduate-level jobs and presumably solve world poverty and reverse global warming at the same time. If only life was that simple. The figures provided sound like typical industry/ political spiel. Meanwhile, back in the real(time) world, your other article quoted an industry expert as saying that the firm's pivotal APB game attracted sales of only one ninth of that necessary for its survival. It seems unlikely that tax breaks would have somehow enhanced the game sufficiently to increase its sales nine-fold. As history has shown time and time again, throwing public funds at fundamentally uncompetitive products and businesses is just taxpayers' money down the drain. Of course, taxpayer-funded assistance and a favourable regulatory environment can help industry in appropriate circumstances but the Scottish political mindset seems dominated by the need to find a deserving home for as much public money as possible - and there's always a queue of willing recipients, whether in the private or public sector. And while the bills for the profligacy have to be paid eventually, both Labour and the SNP seem preoccupied with trying to deny their part in the spending spree, while the Tories and Lib Dems are being accused of threatening the economic recovery by being over-zealous in trying to turn off the tap. Stuart Winton.Hilltown,Dundee. Fantasy of green future Sir, The articles covering the views of the MSPs Jim Mather and Murdo Fraser on wind farms (September 20) are yet another reminder of the dangers of expanding onshore wind production in Scotland. Murdo Fraser is correct in pointing out the adverse effects on our landscape and hence tourism but the concept of visual amenity is subjective and personal. What is more objective and less arguable is the cost of installing the infrastructure and the vast amount of subsidies and incentives given to landowners and developers, relative to the amount of dependable electricity actually produced by wind turbines. Jim Mather and the Scottish Government have long known that wind farms are very poor sources of dependable power, frequently producing less than one per cent of UK supply. He and they also know that Scotland only produces around one-fifth of one per cent of the world's carbon emission "problem." As Energy Minister, Jim Mather owes us all an explanation of why he and his colleagues expect consumers to pay high prices to solve a "problem" that scarcely exists, using a system that scarcely works and at prices more and more people will scarcely be able to afford. It is time the fairy tale of wind power was ended. Ron Greer.Armoury House,Blair Atholl. Two-fronted attack on church Sir, Ian Wheeler asks if the threat of Islam is uniting Catholics and Protestants in the fight for survival (September 21). Let us hope so. Islam has powerful non-Muslim players in the field if you count the secular, the atheist and the left-liberal neo-Marxists, all with their own particular reasons for supporting Islam. The average British secularist disputes any religion but more so Christianity. The average militant atheist attacks the Christian God but, when challenged similarly to treat the Islamic God, refrains, claiming all religions are the same. The neo-Marxists are the most dangerous. Their liberal organisations support Islam in its anti-Christian and anti-capitalist stance which makes them useful in the fight to establish a "progressive" society. Andrew Lawson.9 MacLaren Gardens,Dundee. Educational poverty trap Sir, David Robertson's suggestions that the way to improve school performance in Dundee is to have more religion in them is simplistic and laughable. He erroneously states that schools in Scotland which are not Catholic are Christian. Presumably he means Protestant. I have never come across a school in Scotland which describes itself as Protestant. They are non-denominational. The solution to the gap between the children living in poverty and those who are not is a redistribution of wealth. We do not need to scare children into obedience by telling them untruths about eternity in hell. Alan Hinnrichs.2 Gillespie Terrace,Dundee. 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.

Politics

Nicola Sturgeon promises ‘credible’ plans in tax credit cuts exchanges

November 5 2015

Nicola Sturgeon has pledged "credible, deliverable and affordable plans" to protect poorer families from tax credit cuts as she criticised Labour's "back-of-a-fag-packet" proposals to ensure no Scots lose out. Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has already pledged if the Conservatives at Westminster reduce the payments, her party would use new powers coming to Holyrood to fully mitigate these. The First Minister said today her government would act to counter the changes if they are pushed through by Chancellor George Osborne. But she did not give any details on what form this would take or how it would be paid for. Ms Sturgeon came under pressure from Labour on the issue of tax credits at First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament. It comes after Ms Dugdale told the Scottish Labour Party conference that if she becomes First Minister after next year's Scottish elections, she would reverse the cuts for households north of the border. The Scottish Labour leader said this would be paid for using income tax cash from higher earners and by not cutting air passenger duty, as the SNP plans to do. She told Ms Sturgeon: "Across the UK, Labour will fight the Tory government's attempt to cut tax credits. We want George Osborne to scrap his plan altogether. "But if he doesn't, this Parliament must act to protect working families." The SNP leader told her: "Over these next three weeks we intend to keep up the pressure on George Osborne to drop his plans for tax credit cuts. "Unlike Labour - who remember initially abstained in the House of Commons on this issue - the SNP have consistently opposed these cuts." She said if the cuts were not reversed in full "what we will do as a responsible government is bring forward credible, deliverable and affordable plans to protect low-income households, just as we did on the bedroom tax. "I think that, frankly, is a far better plan and it is far fairer for people who are affected by these cuts than back-of-a-fag-packet proposals from a party that knows it has little chance of ever being in a position to implement them." She hit out at Labour, saying that "just when the pressure is building across the UK on George Osborne, they ease up on the Tories and attack the SNP instead". Ms Dugdale told the First Minister that Labour had introduced tax credits asshe pledged the party would “do everything we can to protect them includingusing the powers of this Parliament.” The Labour leader insisted: “No matter what George Osborne does at the autumn statement, Scottish Labour is committed to restoring the money lost through tax credits for working families.” She pressed Ms Sturgeon on the issue the day after Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil told MSPs the Scottish Government will have the power to top up tax credits if they are cut by the UK - but said Holyrood ministers would not reveal their plans until they have been “properly costed”. Ms Dugdale said the 6,000 families in the First Minister’s Glasgow Southside constituency who benefit from the payments “deserve a bit more than a vague assurance from the SNP that the government will act”. She added: “This is the week the SNP’s constitutional games came unstuck, because after years of responding to every problem with complaints about the constitution, Alex Neil finally gave the game away. This was the week the SNP had to admit the new powers heading our way can transform Scotland. “This is the week that the SNP had to confront the fact that difficult choices will have to be made, so will the First Minister now give up the politics of grievance, will she look to the future of what is possible, move on from the past and just get on with delivering a fairer Scotland?” Ms Sturgeon said the SNP would “continue to oppose these cuts at source, unlike Labour who when it came to a vote in the House of Commons abstained”. She added that if the reductions to tax credits go ahead, ministers “will bring forward a credible, workable, deliverable affordable plan to protect low-income households”. The First Minister continued: “The detail of this, to families out there who are affected, really matters. And one of the details that matters most is how this policy would be paid for.” Ms Dugdale has said some of the cash would come from not implementing the SNP’s planned cut in air passenger duty, but the First Minister said in an interview with Holyrood magazine the Labour leader had already pledged to spend that money on education. “In the space of 24 hours Labour managed to spend the same sum of money twice over,” Ms Sturgeon said. “That is basic incompetence and the people of Scotland frankly deserve better. “We’ve known for some time that the public thinks Labour is unelectable, I think what we have found out this week is that Labour thinks Labour is unelectable. It’s less Keir Hardie, more Laurel and Hardy.” Ms Sturgeon, who has urged voters in next May’s Holyrood elections to judge her on her record, added: “There’s one place and one place only where Labour can be judged on their actions and not on their words, and in Wales Labour don’t even mitigate the bedroom tax: that’s the reality of Labour in government.”

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