News diary 6 – 11 March: SNP leadership debates, Bronson parole hearing, Oscars

A look ahead at the key events leading the news agenda next week, from the team at Foresight News.

Leading the week  

The whirlwind tour of Scottish towns and cities continues for the SNP leadership candidates as the contest enters its second week and Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan try to make their mark at a series of hustings over the coming week.

The third session of the contest takes place in Inverness on Saturday (4 March), before an online session is held on Sunday (5 March), followed by in-person events in Dumfries on Monday (6 March), Johnstone on Wednesday (8 March), Glasgow on Saturday (11 March) and Edinburgh on Sunday (12 March).

With party in-fighting over trans issues and gay marriage escalating and the spectre of Sturgeon’s long tenure looming large over the contest, the SNP initially attempted to restrict media access to hustings events in an attempt to create “safe spaces” for debate before a backlash forced the party to permit limited access for reporters and live-stream the events across its social media channels.   

Nonetheless, much of the Scottish electorate is likely to only get a first good chance to assess their next potential First Minister on Tuesday (7 March) when the three candidates appear together before a live TV audience for an STV head-to-head debate special.

As continuity candidate Humza Yousaf and the controversial Kate Forbes appear to be in a two-horse race for the top spot, outsider Ash Regan has resorted to making increasing radical proposals for a prospective independent future, most recently stating Scotland would move to its own currency “within months” of achieving independence – a timeline Yousaf has since criticised as lacking “credibility”. Issues surrounding the feasibility of independence are likely to move increasingly to the forefront of the contest as the three candidates prepare for their second debate before the entire nation on Thursday (9 March) when Channel 4 hosts the first UK-wide televised debate in Glasgow.  

Rishi Sunak travels to France on Friday (10 March) for a summit with President Emmanuel Macron billed as an opportunity to reset a relationship that has become increasingly frosty in recent years.

The post-Brexit dynamic between the two nations has been dominated by rows over fishing rights and migrant crossings, with recent Conservative Party leadership contests throwing up the odd minor diplomatic incident for good measure. The Prime Minister’s first meetings with Macron at international summits in November last year immediately set the bar for Anglo-French relations higher than during the premiership of his predecessor Liz Truss, though there’s been no major test to the pair’s fledgling bromance in the intervening months.

The announcement on Monday of the Windsor Framework agreement between the UK and EU on post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by Macron, though the publication of Sunak’s hotly-anticipated small boats legislation, potentially in the days leading up to the summit, could upset the balance again. Speaking of Windsor, Friday’s meeting comes ahead of an expected state visit by King Charles towards the end of the month, another indication of the UK’s desire to re-establish an entente cordiale with its nearest neighbour.  

Notorious prisoner Charles Bronson appears at a public parole hearing on Monday (6 March) in his latest bid to secure release. Bronson, now 70, was the first prisoner to request to have his parole hearing held in public after a law change in June last year. He was first incarcerated in 1974 following an armed robbery and has since amassed 17 convictions, receiving a life sentence in 1999 for kidnapping a prison teacher and holding him at spearpoint. In 1994 he took a prison librarian hostage and demanded a helicopter, a cup of tea and an inflatable doll as ransom. His last attempt at freedom saw his appeal for parole rejected in 2017 when he was a prisoner at HMP Wakefield.  

Looking abroad  

With July’s NATO Summit in Lithuania coming into focus, Sweden, Finland and Turkey will hold their latest round of negotiations on the Nordic countries’ bids to become fully-fledged NATO members on Thursday (9 March).

The talks come amid continued chatter that Turkey could sign off on Finland’s membership while leaving Sweden’s bid pending amid ongoing tensions between Ankara and Stockholm, exacerbated by anti-Turkish protests in Stockholm earlier this year.

As it happens, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg begins a two-day visit to Sweden on Tuesday (7 March) with a meeting a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson where the subject is likely to feature prominently.

Finnish lawmakers, meanwhile, passed legislation this week paving the way for them to join the alliance, prompting further speculation that previous vows of a joint accession could be abandoned. Meanwhile Turkey’s upcoming presidential elections, still planned for 14 May despite the devastating earthquakes viewed as damaging President Erdogan prospects, have added an extra incentive for Erdogan drag out the dispute and portray himself as bulwark protecting Turkish interests in the face of external pressure.  

The biggest names in the film industry gather in Hollywood for one of the most important nights on the entertainment industry calendar as Jimmy Kimmel hosts this year’s Oscars on Sunday (12 March).

The hotly-tipped Everything Everywhere All at Once swept up at the SAG Awards, which shares voters with the Academy Awards, with Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, and Jamie Lee Curtis all winning in their respective categories and upsetting favourites such as Cate Blanchett for Best Actress in Tár.

Austin Butler (for Elvis) and Brendan Fraser (for The Whale) are favourites to claim the Best Actor award, but the category also features Colin Farrell for his performance in The Banshees of Inisherin; the Irish film was overlooked at the SAGs but could still enjoy a successful Oscars, with nominations in nine different categories. A rumoured performance by Rihanna could up the glam factor on the night significantly, while organisers will hope to avoid any semblance of controversy after last year’s notorious slap incident.  

Also look out for  

March 6  

  • Strike action by ambulance workers in England and Wales  
  • British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly plenary meeting  
  • Sentencing of Wayne Couzens on indecent exposure charges  
  • Andy Burnham and Ben Houchen address Transport for the North conference  
  • Rafael Grossi press conference on opening day of IAEA Board of Governors meeting  
  • Afghanistan and Myanmar discussed at UN Human Rights Council  
  • CERAWeek Energy conference opens  
  • Indian Well tennis tournament begins  
  • One month ago: Turkey and Syria hit by major earthquakes  

March 7  

  • Health Qs in the House of Commons  
  • Europe Minister at Lords committee session on future UK-EU relationship  
  • David Dinsmore and Alison Phillips at DCMS committee on misinformation  
  • Rachel Reeves and Nus Ghani address Make UK manufacturing conference  
  • Jerome Powell at US Senate committee hearing on monetary policy  
  • Chinese Foreign Minister press conference on margins of NPC session  
  • UN Human Rights Council general debate begins  
  • Chelsea face Borussia Dortmund in Champions League round of 16 second leg  

March 8  

  • Strike action by NHS nurses and ambulance staff  
  • Rishi Sunak faces Keir Starmer at PMQs  
  • Nikhil Rathi at committee session on the work of the FCA  
  • Chris Heaton-Harris at committee session on paramilitaries in Northern Ireland  
  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya address to RUSI on Belarus and Ukraine  
  • Informal meeting of EU defence ministers begins  
  • International Women’s Day  

March 9  

  • Peers debate minimum service legislation in the House of Lords  
  • Yorkshire cricket racism panel hearing concludes  
  • NHS Staff Survey results published  
  • Turkey, Sweden and Finland hold talks on NATO accession  
  • Arsenal and Manchester United play Europa League round of 16 first leg fixtures  

March 10  

  • UK GDP monthly figures released  
  • Strike by ambulance staff in Wales  
  • Ursula von der Leyen meets Joe Biden in Washington D.C.  
  • Association of School and College Leaders conference opens  
  • Scottish Lib Dem spring conference begins  
  • Women of the World Festival opens  
  • South by South West begins  

March 11  

  • Welsh Labour Party conference opens  
  • Green Party spring conference begins  
  • SOS NHS demonstration in London  
  • Scotland or Ireland could win Triple Crown in Six Nations round four  

March 12  

  • Best in Show at Crufts announced  
  • St Patrick’s Day Festival in London  

Statistics, reports and surveys  

March 6  

  • UK Construction PMI  
  • SMMT car sales figures  
  • UBS annual report  

March 7  

  • 2023 child health profiles  
  • Weekly stats on deaths registered in England and Wales  
  • Halifax House Price Index  
  • BRC retail sales monitor  
  • Q4 GDP for South Africa and Greece  
  • Results from: Reach plc, Bank of Ireland, Greggs, Fresnillo, Ashtead  

March 8  

  • IHS Markit/REC report on jobs  
  • Q4 GDP for the EU  
  • Results from: Adidas, Admiral Group, Tullow Oil, Hiscox, Legal & General, Thales Group  

March 9  

  • ONS stats on excess deaths England and Wales  
  • Weekly NHS data on urgent and emergency care  
  • MPs’ expenses published  
  • UK Finance release on household finances  
  • Q4 GDP for Japan  
  • International Narcotics Control Board annual report  
  • Results from: Gap Stories, Harbour Energy, Hugo Boss  

March 10  

  • UK trade statistics  
  • UK construction industry output  
  • US employment figures  

Anniversaries and awareness days  

March 6  

  • National Butchers’ Week  
  • National Dress Day  
  • Waste Week  

March 8  

March 9  

March 10  

March 11  

  • 3 yrs: WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic  

The news diary is provided in association with Foresight News.

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