REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 14 SEPTEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 September 2010

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

Budget cuts: Liberal Democrat backbenchers raise fears about a public backlash against the planned budget cuts. This forced their Coalition Chancellor to defend his planned welfare cuts to MPs.  Charles Kennedy has warned that the Tory-Liberal Democrat Government “should not throw the baby out with the bathwater” with its spending cuts programme. In a move that reveals the depth of concern within the coalition’s junior partner over the cuts agenda announced in recent months, Mr Kennedy warned of the danger that the measures could do more harm than good, especially on issues such as education. (The Herald Page 1& 3, Times page 1) 

Papal visit: The Rev Ian Paisley has confirmed he is travelling to Edinburgh to protest against the state visit of the Pope to Scotland. Mr Paisley, along with 60 ministers from the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, will be congregating at the Magdalen Chapel in the Cowgate in a church where John Knox once preached. The ministers will then stage a public protest in the Grassmarket, unfurling a banner objecting to the visit. The decision has prompted criticism from politicians in Scotland, although the Catholic Church is taking a lighter view. Yesterday Cardinal Keith O\’Brien said he would have been surprised if Mr Paisley had decided to ignore the Pope\’s visit. (Press and Journal page 11, Daily Record page 3, Daily Express page 10, Scotsman Page 1, editorial page 4-5, Tom Gallagher  comments in the Scotsman Page 30 & Tom Gallagher Page 32, the Herald Page 9)

Election timetable: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been accused of "gross disrespect" to Scotland and throwing the timetable for future Holyrood elections into chaos by making it clear that the 2015 poll would have to be shifted. The announcement came in the debate on fixed-term parliaments when Mr Clegg dealt with the issue of a clash between planned elections for Holyrood and Westminster on 7 May, 2015. (Scotsman Page 2, opinion Page 30, Guardian page 9, Courier page 11, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Mail page 19, The Herald Page 6)

TUC: A leading Scottish employment law expert has warned that union leaders could break the law if they turn their proposed strikes into a campaign of direct action against the coalition government. Lynne Marr, of Edinburgh law firm Brodie\’s, said union bosses would have to show that any action planned to combat the cuts was directly related to pay and conditions and not simply opposition to government reforms. Her comments came as union leaders at the TUC conference in Manchester made it clear that they intended to co-ordinate their action and threatened waves of strikes. (Then Herald Page 5, Comment in The Herald Page 14 Scotsman Page 13, Times page 1,) 

Art sale: From the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists to a seething scene of Indian tigers by 51-year-old Scottish artist Peter Howson, Sotheby\’s unveils a line-up of Scottish pictures worth an estimated £2.4 million in Edinburgh today. The works of the Glasgow Boys, based in and around the city from the late 19th century, have dominated the Scottish art scene this year. Works by artists including Edward Arthur Walton and Arthur Melville will go under the hammer later this month at the auctioneers\’ Scottish sale in London. (Scotsman Page 14)

National Gallery: The Edinburgh gallery closed in April 2009 but is on course to reopen in November 2011 after a massive £18 million overhaul. With major construction now well under way or completed – including a rebuilt west roof – the project is on time and on budget, National Galleries of Scotland director-general John Leighton said yesterday. "The 20th-century gallery is disappearing, and the 21st-century gallery is emerging," he said. Innovations include scaling back air-conditioning systems in a new green approach, allowing the building\’s temperature and humidity to change slowly through the seasons, saving 20 per cent or more in energy costs. (Scotsman Page 3, The Herald Page 3)

Economy

Renewable energy: Alex Salmond yesterday turned to the Basque Country in Spain as his latest source of inspiration for how Scotland’s political model and economy could develop, holding meetings with key figures in Bilbao. The First Minister’s visit coincided with an announcement by Iberdrola, the parent company of ScottishPower, that it would invest £4 billion in the UK between 2010 and 2012, two thirds of which will be in Scotland in renewable power generation and enhanced electricity distribution networks. (Times page 3, Peter Jones comments on page 3, Telegraph page 12, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 12, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 2, John McTernan comments Scotsman Page 31, The Herald Page 11, opinion Page 14, Scotsman Page 6, Struan Stevenson Letter in Scotsman Page 34)

Defence Cuts: Rival parties at Holyrood are set to launch a joint response to threatened defence cuts in Scotland. It follows all-party talks in Edinburgh to discuss a joint submission to a review about the future of a £5 billion aircraft carrier project in Scotland. Leading figures from the SNP and from the Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Green parties thrashed out an agreed response, after it emerged the two Royal Navy supercarriers to be built at Rosyth and on the Clyde could be under threat (Scotsman Page 7, David Maddox comment in the Scotsman Page 32 Times page 8, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph , Courier page 1, The Herald Page 2, Letter in the Herald Page 015)) 

House Prices: Only a slowdown in the number of properties going on the market is preventing a slump in Scottish house prices, as demand from buyers continues to fall, new research out today shows. The latest monthly report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reveals property sales in Scotland slowed in August, traditionally a buoyant month for the housing market. It follows downbeat figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) showing that first-time buyers now account for a lower proportion of the lending market than at any time since the credit crunch began three years ago. Scottish surveyors expect a modest rise in house prices over the next three months, after the majority reported either no change or a small fall over the past three months. And Scotland is the only part of the UK where surveyors expect prices to go up over the coming months. Page 16)

Fishing Blockade: Scottish pelagic skippers have vowed to continue their blockade action to prevent mackerel and herring catches from the Faroes being landed at Scottish ports.

The decision to continue direct action was taken at a mass meeting of fishermen in the Buchan port of Fraserburgh yesterday. Last month, local fishermen mounted two successful quayside blockades at Peterhead to prevent Faroese trawlers landing huge consignments of mackerel for processing at local fish factories. The protest came after the decision of the Faroese and Icelandic governments to set massive autonomous quotas for a catch which is worth £135 million to the Scottish pelagic fleet. (The Herald  Page 12,Scotsman Page 20)

Airline Expansion: Glasgow airport will reportedly receive a major boost today when airline Jet2 announces the launch of a series of routes that will create up to 150 jobs.  The carrier is expected to base several aircraft at the airport to serve a range of European destinations, including in Spain, Cyprus and Turkey. Jet2 is believed to have won Scottish Government funding to launch the base for its cabin crew and other staff. The airline already operates 15 routes from Edinburgh airport, having expanded from a single route there five years ago. (Scotsman Page 7)

Crofting: Crofters have been assured they can survive the tough economic climate through innovation and collaboration. Delivering a keynote address to the Scottish Crofting Foundation annual meeting in Oban, environment minister Roseanna Cunningham said organisations are having to consider how to live within a drastically reduced budget from Westminster. Ms Cunningham also told the meeting the Crofting Reform Act, which gained Royal Assent this summer, will safeguard the future of crofting. The bill will reform the Crofters\’ Commission to allow elected board members and strengthen its powers to prevent the loss of croft land, and to reduce absenteeism. (Scotsman Page 21)

Video Games: A decision not to offer tax breaks for the video games industry could put jobs at risk in Scotland. Members of the Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee met yesterday at Dundee\’s Abertay University to discuss a new £5 million project there, which is expected to create up to 30 new companies and 400 jobs. (Scotsman Page 7)  

Justice

Police Merger: Scotland’s police forces are split over whether to merge to save money in the face of forthcoming budget cuts. The Scottish Policing Board was presented with two alternatives to the current eight Scottish force structure – one single force, or three, probably covering the east, west and north of the country. However, representatives of Grampian and Northern police boards spoke out against any centralisation. Sources say only Strathclyde is clearly in favour of a single force, with others yet to be convinced either way. Any change to policing structure would need new legislation and with Scottish elections taking place next year, they would be included in the main party\’s manifestos. Norman MacLeod, convener of the Northern Joint Police Board, and Martin Greig, his counterpart at Grampian, opposed continuing the centralisation review but were outvoted. (Scotsman Page 17, The Herald Page 1) 

Transport 

New Forth crossing: Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has restated the Scottish Government’s commitment to building a £2 billion crossing over the Forth, as details of the construction companies bidding to upgrade the M9 approach road south of the bridge were announced. Four consortia, comprising seven of the UK’s biggest construction companies, will bid to carry out work valued at up to £65 million at junction 1A, near Edinburgh Airport. (The Herald Page 9)

Car club expansion: Car clubs could expand rapidly to contain more than 100,000 members across Scotland over the next 12 years with Government backing. Environmental group Transform Scotland Trust predicted that the car-sharing model established in Edinburgh over the last decade could be rapidly rolled out in the rest of Scotland’s cities and be taken up in some rural areas. (The Herald Page 4)

Health

Legalised cannabis: A Scottish cannabis expert has called for the drug to be legalised and licences made available to people who want to smoke it. Professor Roger Pertwee, of Aberdeen University, who pioneered research into the effects of cannabis in the 1960s and 1970s, argues that only people under the age of 21 and those suffering from mental illness or at risk of psychosis should be prevented from buying the drug. He believes this would take it out of the hands of criminal dealers and make it less likely to be a gateway drug, leading to harder and more dangerous substances. (Press and Journal page 1, Scotsman Page 9, The Herald Page 7) 

Sexual health: A report on the impact of a £5m government campaign to improve the sexual health of young people has concluded that it has had "limited beneficial impact" and had failed to reach vulnerable teenagers. (Scotsman Page 10, The Herald Page 7)

Homeopathy: A Scots health board is considering withdrawing funding for homeopatheic medicines after criticism they were being used as an alternative to vaccinations. A BBC investigation found that some homeopathic practitioners in Scotland, including Inverness-based Katie Jarvis, are offering the remedies to patients who do not want to use vaccines, such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) injection. NHS Highland said it does not support the use of homeopathic preparations instead of vaccinations. The board will discuss the issue at its next meeting in October. (Scotsman Page 23, The Herald Page 22)

Care for the elderly: Peter Jones asks if “it’s possible to get more for less cost when looking after the elderly.” The cost of free personal care has grown since it was introduced in 2002, the cost of the policy had doubled by 2008 from £147 million to £3101million. (Scotsman Page 29 Colette Douglas Home comments in The Herald Page 13 & 14)

Alcohol misuse: Liam Burns comments on tackling Scotland\’s drink problem. While everyone agrees that something needs to be done, there\’s no such agreement on what this should be.  He believes we have to be clear that alcohol misuse is a problem for Scottish society as a whole and not one which can be pinned on just a small section of the population, certainly not on young people by default. (Scotsman Page 30, Letter in The Herald Page 14) 

Education

Energy research: A Scottish-born Canadian mining magnate, hailed as a modern-day Carnegie, is to make the largest private donation ever received by a Scottish university to establish a new Chair in engineering. He graduated from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and yesterday, the leading philanthropist returned to the campus where he was a student to announce the donation of £1.3 million to establish a new Chair in Sustainable Energy Engineering. It is the largest-ever donation by an individual and one of the largest donations Heriot-Watt has received. The announcement coincided with the launch of the Whitlock Energy Collaboration Centre at Carnegie College in Fife, which Mr Buchan also gave £650,000 to establish. His donation to the Fife institution was the largest single private individual donation to a Scottish college since the time of Andrew Carnegie, the Scots-American steel magnate who was the college\’s founding benefactor. (Scotsman Page 21, Opinion Scotsman Page 30, Courier page 7, The Herald Page 11)

Poor students: Scotland has fewer university students from working class backgrounds than any other part of the UK, despite Alex Salmond’s decision to scrap tuition fees, according to research published today. Barely one in four undergraduates in Scotland comes from a less well-off home. Scottish universities also have one of the lowest proportions of students from state schools. (Telegraph page 1)