Helen Martin: Ewan McGregor acted like an egotistical diva

Ewan McGregor at the premier of Trainspotting 2 in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
Ewan McGregor at the premier of Trainspotting 2 in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
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Stick with the day job, Ewan

EWAN McGregor is a local hero in Scotland with a special status in Edinburgh because of Trainspotting and T2. But he is also one of these movie stars who like to see themselves as activists, political lecturers and world ambassadors.

Owen Thompson MP, Colin Beattie MSP, Cllr Margot Russell and Cllr Jim Bryant outside The Clydesdale Bank branch in Dalkeith High St

Owen Thompson MP, Colin Beattie MSP, Cllr Margot Russell and Cllr Jim Bryant outside The Clydesdale Bank branch in Dalkeith High St

He wants to use his star status to help good causes, but also to further goals and policies he believes in.

Fair enough, but his feet are beginning to poke out of his boots when he forgets he is employed as an actor to star in and promote a film.

Backing out of a Good Morning Britain TV interview because he didn’t agree with Piers Morgan’s views on the recent global women’s march, something completely unrelated to the task in hand, was childish and extremely arrogant.

As Morgan said, he could have raised the march during the interview and made his point. Instead he huffed off like an egotistical diva.

Banks

FOUR of the RBS branches we have used for the last 15 years, have been shut. Now the Clydesdale is closing 40 branches. Between 2015 and 2016, 600 bank branches closed in the UK, but it’s not easy to get an accurate tally of how many have closed in the last five years because each bank obviously works independently and the closures come thick and fast.

Every bank claims it is responding to “changes in the way customers choose to bank”, the implication being that tellers are standing about twiddling their fingers while customers tap their laptop keys at home.

Three of our defunct branches were always busy with customer queues snaking out of the door, particularly – but not only – at peak times.

For many, including those who use the 157-year-old Clydesdale branch on Dalkeith High Street shutting its doors in April, a bank closure means travelling further afield (in their case to East Lothian), or using a local Post Office.

Well, that’s where it becomes a farce because Post Offices are also closing. Even Morningside, a perpetually busy PO to which people travel from miles around for essential services, is on the death list.

Our local PO was once part of a general store and newsagent with two or three staff and a separate PO counter. Now it is usually run by one man, from one counter.

Folk queue to buy groceries, newspapers, fags or e-cigs, stationery, sweets, gloves and scarves, stamps, to collect pensions or parcels, return parcels, post overseas and order or pick up foreign currency. And besides, the only banking service it offers is cash withdrawal.

Bank branches are closed to reduce overheads and wage bills and increase profit level, and certainly not because the majority of their customers have gone online.

If that were the case, each announced closure would not be met by community protest and local politicians begging for a re-think because of the predicted effect on local customers and businesses who desperately need a real branch.

There is also a devastating effect on communities and the local economy. If someone has banking, shopping and lunching to do, they drive or bus to a location that offers all three in one place.

The notion that online banking is only avoided by the digitally illiterate is a myth or a lie, depending on whether it comes from an enthusiastic on-liner or a bank official.

Online banking has several drawbacks, from security risk and data hacking to personal responsibility for errors and a total absence of banking advice that is necessary for anything other than a simple current or savings account.

Small businesses, customers with multiple accounts, ISAs and bonds all need more ‘service’.

The government still owns a major stake in RBS, and has a duty to represent and protect the interests of citizens from all ruthless, commercial, banking operations. Limited lending, nil savings rates, mis-selling, killing off small businesses, now minimum branches and service?

We should be looking to governments to do more to prevent branch closures, rather than MSPs and MPs campaigning individually against each one. Banks have become a national and international scandal. Who else can take them on?

Class war over university places

A CLASS war is building over university places since the Scottish Government decreed that a fifth of them have to be taken up by the poorest 20 per cent of pupils by 2030.

As tuition fees for our own and EU students are paid by the government, they call the shots. Greater access by one group means less access for another, so ‘middle class’ kids are getting fewer places, something that the government’s advisory group on educational equality and widening access has confirmed will continue.

Well, of course it will. The principle is the same whether we look at the gap in wealth, education or anything else. Any other shared asset is finite. If one group gets more, another gets less.

The more some people are paid, the less others get. The more millionaires we have, the more we have poverty and food banks.

This tinkering policy isn’t ‘widening’ access, merely ‘changing’ it.

Teaching gran to punch eggs

WHEN Mary Berry did that sporting arena, ‘gotcha’, clench-fisted, face-distorting, punching the air thing after winning the best TV Judge at the National Television Awards it was like seeing your granny losing her rag at a wrestling match. Creepy.