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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...

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.

Perth & Kinross

Culinary dimension added to Perth Show

July 28 2016

For more than 150 years Perth Show has been a popular, once a year meeting point for the people of the city and the farming community. The show - now the third largest of its type in Scotland – remains as always a showcase for champion livestock but this year holds a much wider appeal for visitors. To be held on Friday and Saturday August 5 and 6 on the South Inch, throughout the two days, trade stands, sideshows, entertainment, activities, music and parades all add to the vibrancy of the show along with a new culinary direction. “For the first time, Perth Show is set to feature a cookery theatre and food and drink marquee,” said show secretary Neil Forbes. “This will bring a new and popular dimension to the visitor attraction. “Perth Show 2016 is also delighted to welcome Perthshire On A Plate (POAP) - a major food festival, celebrating the very best in local produce and culinary talent. “Organised by Perthshire Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival will run as part of the show and feature celebrity and local chefs, demonstrations and tastings, book signings, food and drink related trade stands, fun-filled activities for ‘kitchen kids’ and a large dining area and pop-up restaurants in a double celebration of food and farming.” Heading the celebrity chef line-up are television favourite Rosemary Shrager (Friday) and spice king Tony Singh (Saturday), backed by a host of talented local chefs including Graeme Pallister (63 Tay Street) and Grant MacNicol (Fonab Castle). The cookery theatre, supported by Quality Meat Scotland, will also stage a fun cookery challenge between students from Perth College and the ladies of the SWI. A range of pop-up restaurants featuring taster dishes from some of the area’s best known eating places will allow visitors to sample local produce as they relax in the show’s new POAP dining area. “We’re trying to create a wide and varied programme of entertainment,” said Mr Forbes. “Late afternoon on Friday will see the It’s A Knockout  challenge with teams from businesses throughout Perth and Perthshire competing against each other. “And the first day’s programme will end with a beer, wine and spirit festival where teams can celebrate their achievements and visitors can sample a wide range of locally produced drinks.” This year will also see the reintroduction of showjumping at Perth Show on the Saturday afternoon.

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

Universities consider breaking ties with National Union of Students

April 22 2016

Britain's leading universities are on the verge of breaking ties with the National Union of Students (NUS) after it elected a left-wing president who refused to condemn the Islamic State group. Students at Oxford and Cambridge universities declared on Thursday that they would be holding referenda to determine whether they should remain associates of the NUS. The announcements were made after Malia Bouattia, 28, was made the first black Muslim president of the national body. Ms Bouattia has courted controversy in the past for attacking "Zionist-led media outlets" and suggesting that non-peaceful "resistance" is the most suitable solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel. In 2011, while she was still studying at the University of Birmingham, Ms Bouattia co-authored an article in which she said that the university was "a Zionist outpost in British higher education". More recently, during her role as the NUS black students' officer, Ms Bouattia voted down a motion to condemn Islamic State, on the grounds that doing so would be "blatant Islamophobia". News of the president-elect's previous comments caused widespread outrage on university campuses, prompting 57 Jewish student leaders to pen an open letter to her, demanding that she clarify her position towards them. In her response Ms Bouattia claimed that she had been "misrepresented", adding that she was anti-Zionist but not anti-Semitic. Following her election at the NUS national conference in Brighton on Wednesday, members of the audience also applauded student delegates for suggesting that Holocaust Memorial Day should be shunned because it is not "inclusive". Although only in its infancy, the campaign to disaffiliate from the NUS has gained support from students studying at the universities of Durham, York, Westminster, Birmingham, Edinburgh, the London School of Economics and King's College London. Since Ms Bouattia's election on Wednesday, several student groups have launched social media campaigns on Facebook, encouraging their universities to cancel their NUS membership. In an online poll conducted by the Young Liberal Society, a group made up of more than 250 students from leading universities, a motion calling for "no confidence and disaffiliation" from the NUS gained unanimous support. The potential fallout from Ms Bouattia's election could deal a serious financial blow to the NUS, which represents the majority of the 2.3 million students studying in Britain. Student unions at large universities typically pay an annual fee of between £50,000 and £52,000, which the NUS charges to provide support and training. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle on Wednesday, Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the anti-extremism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, wrote: "The Union of Jewish Students is naturally alarmed at her new role as President of the NUS. So should we all be. "It was Malia Bouattia who led the charge at the NUS to block a motion that sought to condemn Isis and show solidarity to the Kurds fighting them, because it was deemed 'Islamophobic'. "At this same meeting the NUS did pass a motion to boycott Ukip... Thus, in a sign of the terrible times in which we live, Britain's student leadership found it easier to condemn Ukip than Isis. "And we wonder why the populist right is on the rise?" Commenting on the campaign to leave the NUS, Megan Dunn, the incumbent president, said: "To anybody here or back on campus that is whispering of disaffiliation from NUS because of this conference - know this: We are stronger when we work together. "And when students' unions are under attack we are better off united than we are standing on our own, believing we can defend ourselves by standing apart. "So don't walk away. Get organised, stand up for your beliefs. Fight for what you believe in. Because when you do, win or lose, we are stronger together." Ms Bouattia declined to comment.


Dundee’s student union accused of ‘regressive censorship’ over Daily Mail ban bid

February 26 2018

A bid by Dundee’s student union to ban the sale of three national newspaper titles on campus has been branded “regressive censorship”. A motion was backed by Dundee University Students' Association’s ruling body to remove the Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Sun from its shops. Sean O'Connor, the DUSA president, said the newspapers "do not match our values" and run “inflammatory and sensationalised articles that demean and insult members of our community”. But the move has been condemned by critics as an erosion of freedom of speech. Ross Starke, a politics student who works as a Dundee United kit man, leads a group of students opposed to the ban. “It is regressive censorship that goes against freedom of speech,” the 21-year-old said. “Surely the university should be encouraging students to think freely, develop their thought, debate and challenge things they disagree with. “A protectionist move such as this does not set students up well for when they graduate and are exposed to a wider range of views. https://www.facebook.com/thecourieruk/posts/10156002863376215 “It also sets a dangerous precedent by trying to marginalise a mainstream side of news as well as normalising real hate and extremism.” In a draft motion to the student representative council, Mr O’Connor said selling the titles undermines the union’s commitment to diversity. He told The Courier: “As the president of DUSA I introduced an idea for debate to our democratically-elected student representative council regarding the sale of newspapers which do not match our values. “This idea was intensely debated and, at this time, is undergoing significant reform and consultation.” The motion was supported by the SRC but still needs final sign-off. DUSA has not ruled out staging a referendum. The original text reads: “This motion proposes that DUSA, following previous actions such as the Boycott of The Sun, stop stocking the Scottish Daily Mail, the Scottish Daily Express and the Scottish Sun, in accordance with the Stop Funding Hate Campaign. “I am also proposing that we cease to allow any pop-ups on social media or online for these newspapers.” Last month Virgin Trains reversed its decision to stop selling the Daily Mail on its West Coast services pending a review. The paper’s stance on issues such as immigration was “not compatible” with the company’s belief, staff were originally told.

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.

Mike Donachie

Are Saltires on strawberries an issue worth flagging up?

September 12 2016

It may be hard to swallow this but haggis really is British. I watched, bemused but sympathetic, as the politics of produce caused arguments in recent days and Scottish consumers found it hard to stomach seeing a Union Flag on food produced in Scotland. First, it was “the Great British Haggis” marketed in red, white and blue by a Fife company. Instead of quietly filling a groaning trencher, as is its wont, our national dish caused people to choke wi’ perfect scunner at the suggestion it might come from a larger isle. Next, it was berries. Tesco issued an explanation about UK-wide packaging for Scottish strawberries and Sainsbury’s had to follow suit thanks to a British flag appearing on some Perthshire blueberries. It was all a bit unsavoury. As someone who considers himself Scottish first and British second, I admit each case caused me to breathe in sharply through my teeth. Scottish berries (and especially Perthshire ones) are, in my opinion, incomparably wonderful and the idea of haggis being British had me checking it wasn’t an article from The Onion. But here’s the thing: that British flag is accurate. It is a matter of simple geography that Scotland is part of Britain, which is, in turn, part of the legal entity known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is itself part of the British Isles. These facts are undeniable, whatever the political and social hopes of many Scots. More problematic was the outrage that a simple flag could cause. I wouldn’t fly the Union Flag, because I feel it has colonialist connotations but for perhaps millions of people it’s part of their identity and that should be respected. To be offended by its appearance on food is, frankly, pointless. Whether it’s a good marketing move is another matter. I’d sooner buy something with a Saltire on it but I suppose the companies involved can do what they like, especially if, as reported, the larger English market has a different preference. But I hope we can all agree on one thing: British or Scottish, you can’t beat a big plate of mashed-up lungs – tasty.


St Andrews “Tennent’s Lager Appreciation Society” denied university recognition

January 27 2017

St Andrews University Students' Association has refused to officially recognise an appreciation society for Tennent's lager, regardless of a "petition" from students to reinstate the drink at its union bar. A ‘Tennent’s Lager Appreciation Society’ was established in the town after students returned to classes in September to find that they could no longer order it. Outraged student drinkers went online to protest, setting up a tongue-in-cheek petition which secured hundreds of signatures, resulting in "emergency supplies" being offered to the Fife university's freshers by the drinks giant. Speaking of the gesture at the time, Claire Arnott, head of UK Brand Activation at Tennent’s, said: “We were touched when we read the articles and petition so thought sending some beer was the least we could do." Charlotte Andrew, Student Association president, said the change from Tennent’s to Coors at the union this academic year was decided upon by a buying consortium of five Students’ Associations from across Scotland and Northern Ireland. “This two year deal represented the best offer for students,” she said. “Sending 1,728 cans of free alcohol into Halls of Residences, especially when there are students aged 16 and 17 living in halls, is not demonstrative of socially responsible behaviour from such a large and well-known company." https://www.thecourier.co.uk/fp/news/local/fife/291120/tennents-row-leaves-a-bitter-taste-in-st-andrews/ Representatives from the St Andrews University ‘Tennent’s Lager Appreciation Society’ were disappointed when their application was rejected by the student association and they were refused permission to become an official university recognised society. Tom Coombes, President of the St Andrews University Tennent’s Lager Appreciation Society, said: "The student body of St Andrews is still shaken from the decision to remove Tennent's from our union. This is a tolerant university but some decisions cannot be taken lying down. The newly formed Tennent’s Lager Appreciation Society will not rest until Tennent's is back on the menu." St Andrews cited ‘legal matters’ as the reason they would not accept the application.

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