Reform Scotland News: 12 March 201212.03.2012

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 12 March 2012

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is highlighted and underlined.

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News

 

Politics

Independence campaign: The SNP revealed its strategy for the referendum debate, which includes a detailed grassroots campaign to convince Scots to vote yes to independence. The party will use its near £2 million war chest for what campaign chief Angus Robertson called an ‘unprecedented mobilisation’. Alex Salmond also presented plans for May 2016 elections should the referendum succeed. (The Scotsman page 1, Financial Times page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 8, The Scottish Daily Mail page 1)

Lib Dem Conference: In a speech at the Lib Dem party conference in Gateshead, Nick Clegg made an attempt to reclaim the term “home rule” after First Minister Alex Salmond linked “home rule” with independence when speaking at the SNP conference. The Lib Dem leadership criticised Alex Salmond for conflating the terms and attempting to confuse people. (The Herald page 6)

SNP Conference: Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Alan Cochrane criticises the First Minister Alex Salmond and deputy Nicola Sturgeon for relying on the “Tory fear factor” in their speeches to the party conference. (The Daily Telegraph page 9)

Scottish Conservatives: Writing in the Scotsman, Brian Monteith criticises Conservatives for their support of proposals for minimum pricing for alcohol brought forth by the SNP. He argues that the party has abandoned its Scottish roots through its coordination from London. (The Scotsman page 25)

Alex Salmond: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter describes Alex Salmond’s positive rating in comparison to negative approval ratings for Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish Opposition leaders. He compares Alex Salmond to Teflon for skilfully sidestepping pitfalls which would have undermined a weaker politician and argues that even if the referendum failed, he might weather the storm. (The Sunday Herald page 9)

RAF base: Debate continues over the possible closure of RAF Leuchars. The base was scheduled to be closed to Typhoons and repurposed to house troops returning to the UK from deployment in Germany. However, concerns about the costs and logistics of the move have reportedly raised questions over the future of the base. (The Courier page 1)

Darling criticisms: Former Labour Chancellor Alistair Darling has criticised Alex Salmond for his support of the RBS takeover of ABN Amro. The remarks were made as he pledged to participate in the campaign against independence. (The Herald page 2, The Herald page 12)

Independence and poverty: Bob Holman, the former professor and social activist, said that independence could make Scotland a fairer place. At the Sunday Herald debate, Mr Holman criticised the Welfare Reform Bill for its unfair cuts. (The Sunday Herald page 3)

SNP suspension: Further allegations of abuse have emerged after a Herald report on actions by Bill Walker, MSP for Dunfermline. Mr. Walker has been suspended by the SNP pending investigation. (The Sunday Herald page 4)

Women in politics: Writing in the Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch argues for the inclusion of women in the debate over constitutional change. (The Scotsman page 23)

 

Economy

Corporation Tax: Treasury sources indicate that Chancellor George Osborne will reduce corporation tax to 20%, a move to boost business investment. This rate is much lower than other Western economies, the US has a basic rate of 35% and France 33.3%. Other measures designed to encourage business growth will include infrastructure investment and credit-easing plans for small and medium-sized firms. (The Sunday Times page 1)

Goodwin legal action: Former RBS chief Fred Goodwin and members of his board will face civil action from the RBS Shareholders’ Action Group. Thousands of individual investors, including hundreds of middle-ranking former RBS and NatWest employees, are taking part in the suit in which they claim “critical omissions” and “misleading statements” were made to encourage investments. (The Herald page 1)

Businesses on independence: Several prominent business leaders, including BNY Mellon and Ceridian, have said that independence would not disrupt their business and some view Edinburgh’s successful bid for the UK Green Investment Bank as a vote of confidence. The SNP also revealed plans to court businesses at their conference this weekend. However, a poll published by the Forum of Private Business in Scotland revealed that 86% of business leaders surveyed were against independence. (The Sunday Times page 1, The Courier and Advertiser page 14)

Petrol prices: According to a survey, Scots face the highest prices for petrol in the UK. The motoring body AA has said that significant differences in prices suggest that retailers are behaving unfairly and call for greater transparency in the setting of prices. Faced with high prices across the UK, Chancellor George Osborne has faced calls to reduce the fuel duty in his upcoming budget. (The Sunday Times page 7)

Recession forecasts: A chief economist at the Bank of Scotland said that although Scotland’s economic recovery would be slow, a double dip recession would be unlikely. Positive indicators for February included a rise in staffing numbers, increases in recruitment in the service sector, and reduced costs for business operation. (The Scotsman page 1, The Press and Journal page 17)

Edinburgh airport sale: Richard Jeffrey, the former head of the controversial Edinburgh tram project, has been hired by 3i, a London-based venture capital firm, to advise them on their bid for Edinburgh’s airport which was put up for sale by BAA last year. (The Herald page 8)

French power: State-controlled French power giant Areva plans to set up a renewable energy office in Edinburgh. The firm hopes to win supply contracts from offshore wind-farm developers and will use the move to compete with Vestas and Siemens. (The Sunday Herald page 42)

Independence budget: Finance Secretary John Swinney claimed in a speech before the party conference that Scotland will be better equipped to deal with financial issues independently than as part of the United Kingdom. (The Daily Telegraph page 9, The Daily Mail page 6)

Small business finance: Finance Secretary John Swinney has written to Chancellor George Osborne to encourage him to include incentives in the forthcoming budget that would benefit small businesses in Scotland. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Colin Donald urged Mr. Osborne to consider reducing debt repayments to help small businesses as well as retain low corporation tax.  (The Scotsman page 6)

Rangers Rescue: Douglas Park, owner of Park’s Motor Group, has joined the Blue Knights consortium in an effort to save the ailing club. Rangers’ administrators expressed plans to seize Mr Whyte’s shares to recoup their losses. (The Herald page 1, The Sunday Herald page 5)

Education

Childcare: Alex Salmond pledged to legally enshrine free nursery provision for pre-school children should independence be achieved. The initiative would ensure that all three and four-year-olds will be entitled by law to 600 hours of nursery provision per year, up from 475 at present. However, opponents criticised the party for failing to fulfil this promise under the current terms of devolution, citing its inclusion in the 2007 election manifesto. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Sunday Herald page 8)

Inclusion legislation: Student leaders from St. Andrews, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen have criticised their universities’ resistance to legislation which would mandate inclusion targets. The legislation would require universities to recruit high-performing students from schools which do not have high continuing education rates and would involve financial penalties should they fail to meet targets. (The Herald page 10)

Scottish exams: The Curriculum for Excellence has come under fire as fewer than 10% of teachers surveyed by the Educational Institute of Scotland say they are ready to begin teaching to the test. Some schools have called for delays in implementation, supported by Labour MSPs. (Scotland on Sunday page 13)

Health

Lung cancer test: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon announced the pilot of the blood test which would allow doctors to detect lung cancer years earlier than traditional tests. Smokers would be targeted in an attempt to increase survival rates. 5000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year, double the rate of the UK as a whole. (The Herald page 17)

NHS reforms: Speaking at the SNP Conference, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon warned that Scotland’s health budget could be cut by changes proposed by Westminister. The NHS reforms will allow for the partial privatisation of hospitals in England and could affect Scotland through the application of the Barnett formula. (The Herald page 7, The Times page 17, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Sun page 2, The Daily Mail page 6, The Daily Record page 8)

Local Government

Local government elections: The May local government elections are likely to be the subject of fierce competition between Labour and SNP with highly contested elections in Glasgow and in North Lanarkshire, long-held by Labour. Glasgow’s City Council came under sharp criticism from local government minister Derek Mackay at the SNP conference. He told attendees that Labour was “not fit for purpose.” Nicola Sturgeon also rallied SNP activists at the conference this weekend, saying that the SNP would fare well in the election against the “discredited” Labour party. (The Scotman page 6, The Herald page 7, Scotland on Sunday page 4, The Sunday Herald page 9)