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Reform Scotland News: 14 April 2011

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.

 

Scottish Election

SNP Manifesto: Alex Salmond will today publish the SNP manifesto for the next parliament. SNP campaigners say there is evidence Labour’s claim to be the “best line of defence” against the Tory administration at Westminster is bringing its traditional vote back into the fold. Mr Salmond is expected to use the launch of the manifesto to urge voters to focus on the election at Holyrood and not use their vote to protest against the Conservative-led government in London. (Scotsman page 1)

 

SNP ‘Funding Floor’: The SNP are to pledge to deliver a ‘funding floor’ deal for Scotland’s local authorities. Under the plans, no local authority in Scotland could fall below 85% of the national average settlement. Alex Salmond said the move would provide security for all councils, while protecting jobs and vital interests. (P&J page 13)

 

SNP Manifesto Pledges: The SNP has been accused of “desperate evasion” by Scottish Labour after it failed to publish the 84 out of 94 headline manifesto commitments it claims to have met in government. (Scotsman page 4, P&J page 13)

 

SNP ‘Double Standards’: Alex Salmond has been accused of ‘double standards’ after holding talks with a group of protesters who ambushed Labour leader Iain Gray last week. Parents in Renfrewshire were reportedly angered as their request for a similar meeting, over concerns the local council planned to bring non-teachers in to take lessons in a cost-cutting measure, was rejected. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 6)

 

SSP Manifesto: The SSP has launched its manifesto, with a rallying cry of “no cuts, not now, not ever”. The party is pro-independence and wants the council tax replaced with a graduated income tax, which it says will raise £15 billion a year. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Courier page 13)

 

Green Policies: In advance of yesterday’s Climate Day debate, the Scottish Greens outlined a package of its reforms. This included repairing the existing Forth Road Bridge and roads rather than building additional capacity and a move away from road and air travel. Other policies included increasing funding for community-led carbon reduction projects to £125 million over the next session, shifting Scotland’s entire electricity supply to a broad mix of renewables by 2020 and insulating all Scottish homes in a £100 million per year scheme. Scottish Greens’ Leader Patrick Harvie has said: “Tackling climate change and building a successful low-carbon Scotland are threads that run through the fabric of our whole approach to politics” (Scotsman page 5, Courier page 13)

 

Liberal Democrats: The Liberal Democrats have pledged to create a £250 million scheme to insulate the homes of thousands of Scots. (Scotsman page 5, P&J page 12, Courier page 13)

 

Conservatives: The Conservatives want to award a quarter of all local and national government contracts to small and medium-sized firms. They say the party secured a £10 million package for small businesses in the Budget that will create 5,000 Scottish jobs. (Scotsman page 5)

 

Labour Policies: Labour policies for the Holyrood election have come under attack from Scottish lawyers and teaching unions. One senior Scottish advocate described the party’s proposals on rape as “the most bizarre criminal justice proposal I have ever heard from a Scottish politician”. Teachers’ unions expressed their objections to Labour’s plans to place 1,000 new graduates into schools to improve literacy and numeracy, saying that it may prove unworkable and could even breach employment law. (The Times page 1)

 

Labour: Former chancellor Alistair Darling has defended the Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray’s decision to flee from protesters in Glasgow last week stating that “all elections have day-to-day occurrences”. (Scotsman page 5)

 

Poll of Polls: According to a poll of polls, by ScotlandVotes.com, Labour leader Iain Gray is on course to be First Minister after next month’s election with the SNP trailing by six seats although they are continuing to close the gap. (Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Sun page 3)

 

Politics

BBC Bias: Scottish Labour have issued a formal complaint to the BBC accusing the corporation of “outrageous bias” by breaching strict rules of impartiality by inviting Alex Salmond to appear on Question Time. (Daily Mail page 1, Daily Record page 9)

 

NUS Leader: Students have elected the president of NUS Scotland, Liam Burns, as their UK leader. (Scotsman page 21, The Times page 4)

 

Wise Group: Employment Minister Chris Grayling has said he was “disappointed” the Wise Group-a leading Scottish charity-lost out on a large contract to a firm led by one his department’s former top officials, but added that it would have been wrong for him to intervene in the independent process to decide who should run the Government Work Programme. (Herald page 8)

 

BBC Scotland: The head of news at BBC Scotland, Atholl Duncan, is to leave his post to take the position as executive director of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland. (Herald page 9)

 

Economy

Staycations: According to VisitScotland, Scotland has topped the UK league for ‘staycations’ revealing that the number of British domestic visitors to Scotland dropped just one per cent compared to 2009. (Scotsman page 9)

 

Unemployment: Despite a dramatic rise in the number of pensioners returning to the workplace, youth unemployment levels continue to soar. This has sparked fears that Scotland could be left with a “lost generation” of jobless youngsters. Unemployment is continuing to drop in Scotland. However, the rate of unemployment still stands at 8.1 per cent, higher than the UK average of 7.8 per cent. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 4, The Times page 19, P&J page 11, Daily Mail page 1, Courier page 1)

 

Edinburgh Film Festival: The Edinburgh International Film Festival has struck a sponsorship deal with mobile phone provider Nokia to back a three-day series of short-film events. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 7)

 

Art Fund: The Art Fund charity, which has played a key role in buying multi-million pound artworks for Scotland, has pledged to boost its annual spending by 50 per cent to meet “severe financial pressures” on galleries and museums. (Scotsman page 21)

 

Local Government

School Closures: Councillors in Orkney are to pursue plans which could see the closure of two primaries and the downgrading of a junior secondary. (Scotsman page 14)

 

Energy Scheme: Developers behind the first phase of a huge energy scheme aimed at transforming the north-east economy have won vital backing from council planning officials. The Energetica Industry Park is earmarked for 55 acres at Peterhead and would be part of a wider Energetica project, a 30-mile corridor between the port and Aberdeen lined with new businesses, leisure developments and housing estates. (P&J page 6)

 

Transport

Glasgow Commuters: Passengers on Glasgow’s Underground are to get their own Oyster-Card style ticket allowing them to top up a new travel card with credit in a scheme similar to the one operating in London. The scheme is to be set up and running by 2013 in time for 2014 Commonwealth games. (Scotsman page 14)

 

BMIBABY: BMIBABY is to axe its routes between Manchester and Aberdeen and Edinburgh Airports. The airline has blamed the financial downturn for the loss of routes. (Herald page 10)

 

Education

Teaching Union: More than 90 per cent of voters have indicated through a website poll that they do not trust the leadership of Scotland’s biggest education union, the EIS, after its leaders recommended acceptance of a pay deal other unions have rejected. (Scotsman page 16)

 

Glasgow University: Glasgow University has put off a decision on a controversial programme of cuts until after the formation of a new Scottish Government following pressure from staff and students. (Herald page 1)