Reform Scotland News: 15 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

Renewable energy: Alex Salmond launched his bid for a second term in office yesterday, by declaring that Scotland can be powered entirely by renewable energy in nine years.  By 2020, Scotland could produce twice the electricity required for domestic use and this would also pave the way for an explosion in the use of new wind, wave, hydro and tidal schemes.  In addition, Mr Salmond claimed that it would lead to the creation of 13,000 new jobs in the low-carbon sector.  However, his pledge was met with criticism from the CBI in Scotland as they warned that it was both “unrealistic and undesirable” (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Times page 8, P&J page 14, Courier p13)


In addition, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott highlighted his party’s plans for the future of Scotland’s energy sector by promising to stimulate low-carbon investment, create thousands of ‘green’ jobs and hit carbon-reduction targets. (The Scotsman page 6, Daily Express page 2)


Tax freeze: Alex Salmond has promised to continue the council tax freeze for the full five years of the next parliament, which will save the average family in Scotland £1,200 . However, some doubts were expressed about the affordability of the measure.  The total cost of compensating councils for the freeze since it was introduced in 2008 is set to reach £2.5 billion.  (The Scotsman page 7, The Herald page 1, The Sun page 1, Daily Express page 2, Guardian page 13).


Education: The SNP have also outlined plans to provide an extra £100 million a year to universities to help with the funding gap, and have guaranteed there will be no tuition fees for Scottish Students (The Scotsman page 4; The Guardian page 13, Daily Record page 8, Daily Mail page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 1, P&J page 14)


Health:  The SNP manifesto has pledged to increase NHS funding by over £1 billion in the next four years, as well as provide an extra £30 million for early cancer detection (The Scotsman page 4, The Guardian page 13)


Police: The SNP have reportedly based their savings on the assumption that there will not be a single national police force after the election.  Financial papers accompanying the party manifesto show the saving made is on the basis of moving to “three or four police forces”, not one.  SNP Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has confirmed that the current system of eight forces will end if the SNP are re-elected in May. (The Scotsman page 4)


Liberal Democrats: Tavish Scott has hinted that the issue of a referendum on independence would not be a “deal-breaker”, in a potential coalition with the SNP.  His comments mark a change from the party’s position in 2007 when the Lib Dems ruled out a coalition with the SNP because of plans for a national vote on independence. (The Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 7)


Westminster Coalition: Tavish Scott has admitted that the Liberal Democrat campaign has been damaged by the party being part of the Westminster Coalition Government.  Mr Scott stated that he and UK leader Nick Clegg did not agree over certain issues, and that “being connected with the Conservatives is not terribly easy for the party”, and that he would have preferred a coalition with Labour instead. (Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 2)


BBC: The BBC has been accused of bias after SNP leader Alex Salmond was invited to appear on Question Time last night.  Labour has submitted a complaint to both the broadcaster and independent regulator Ofcom, claiming that Mr Salmond’s appearance gives unfair airtime during an election campaign. (The Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 7, Daily Mail page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 13)


Sport: The SNP and Labour have unveiled their plans to turn around Scotland’s health record by encouraging more sport in schools, but fell short of meeting demands for youngsters to have four hours’ physical education a week.  The SNP announced plans for a national football academy, while Labour would deliver free swimming lessons for all youngsters. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 7, Daily Express page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 13)


New ministerial positions: The Scottish Conservatives promised to create two new ministerial posts to help the fragile economy.  Enterprise spokesman Gavin Brown said that they would create a cabinet-level position of Minister of Finance and Reform and a Minister for Enterprise and Jobs. (Daily Express page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 13)


Comment and Analysis: Dr John Sproule, page 6 in The Scotsman, claims that the amount of physical education the parties are suggesting is not enough.  Richard Kerley gives analysis in The Scotsman, page 7 on the SNP council tax freeze.  Angus Macleod in the Times, page 9 comments on the SNP manifesto. Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph, page 11 also gives his commentary on the manifesto.



RAF: Typhoon aircraft based at RAF Leuchars in Fife have recently been called to help protect the no-fly zone in Libya, however the fighter jets have been grounded due to maintenance problems.  A report carried out by the Commons Public Accounts Committee showed that there have not been enough spare parts to keep the Typhoons in the air.  The report also revealed that only eight of the UK’s forty-eight Typhoon fighter pilots have had enough training. (The Herald page 2, Daily Record page 2)


Immigration: The Liberal Democrats have accused the Conservatives of trying to breach the coalition agreement on immigration.  The row erupted after Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to cut net migration to “tens of thousands” each year rather than hundreds of thousands.  Mr Cameron also stated that immigrants who are unwilling or unable to speak English have created a “kind of discomfort and disjointedness” which has disrupted communities.  The Business Secretary Vince Cable, who was not briefed on the speech, claimed that Mr Cameron’s speech could “inflame extremism”.  Mr Cable also challenged Mr Cameron by claiming that he had breached the policy deal (The Guardian page 4, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 6, Daily Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 1)


David Cameron has refused to back down over his pledge to cut immigration figures and was unrepentant as he said that the majority of voters want to see a reduction in immigration. The Prime Minister reminded the Liberal Democrats that the government policy on immigration was signed by Nick Clegg, and that they were part of the policy as well (Daily Express page 4, The Times page 6, P&J page 11, Courier page 3) David Cameron was also urged by some Conservative members to sack Vince Cable after his verbal attack on the Prime Minister. (Daily Mail page 6)


Comment and Analysis: Andrew Porter in the Daily Telegraph, page 4 provides an analysis on Vince Cable’s reaction to the immigration speech


Tourism: Scottish tourism leaders are hoping that a cartoon feature by Pixar and Disney will become a money maker for the industry.  The film is to be set in the Highlands and it is hoped that it will trigger a surge in interest in the Highlands and Scotland.  Mike Cantlay, Chairman of VisitScotland, stated that “this film has the potential to be absolutely huge for Scotland. (The Scotsman page 3, The Herald page 3)


Lloyds Bank: After announcing a further 325 job cuts as pat of its “ongoing integration programme”, Lloyds has come under attack from union leaders.  Lloyds Banking Group which is 41% owned by the taxpayer and owns Bank of Scotland, said the latest cuts will affect business support functions and group operations across the UK. (The Scotsman page 25)


Pensions: Figures from the National Association of Pension Funds revealed that a record number of schemes are being closed.  The collapse of traditional occupational pensions means millions of savers will be denied the retirement income they have expected.  (Daily Express page 1)


Local Government

Repair contracts: The Herald has revealed that concerns over the awarding of repair contracts at Edinburgh City Council were raised with officials a year ago.  Initially, an internal investigation was launched after there was concerns with officials over contractors being given access to critical information in the bidding process.  Lothian and Borders Police are now conducting a probe into the potential breach of the code of practice surrounding the awarding of contracts and also that home owners were overcharged. (The Herald page 2)


Riverside museum: Glasgow City Council has apologised for the spiralling costs of the new riverside transport museum.  The authority has admitted that the cost will be over £100 million, which is beyond the expected £85 million.  Officials were also forced to apologise for trying to blame the rising cost on private Developer Glasgow Harbour. (The Herald page 8).



Trafficking: The UK is less effective than Albania and Taiwan at protecting victims of human trafficking.  A report from researchers in Germany and the London School of Economics and Political Science has claimed that the UK is neglecting its duty to protect victims.  In recent months there has been concern that the Commonwealth Games, due to be held in Glasgow in 2014, could cause an increase in human trafficking and prostitution. (The Scotsman page 21)



Rail upgrade: A £200 million upgrade of the Aberdeen and Inverness rail line could be completed in five years. Transport Scotland has published Network Rail’s initial feasibility report on the revamp, which aims to slash journey times and run extra services between Aberdeen and Inverness (P&J page 8)



Job reductions: The University of Highlands and Islands (UHI) is cutting 28 jobs as part of a cost-cutting move, including the loss of 6 posts in the department which teaches Gaelic. (The Scotsman page 22) 


Course cuts: Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, has defended the proposals by a Scottish University to cut a number of courses as he does not see the cuts as “life-threatening” to the university.  The university wishes to cut courses such as modern languages, adult education and nursing, so they can concentrate on their “strongest courses” (The Herald page 4)



Metabolic Syndrome: Research has found that vegetarians are a third less likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes or a stroke than meat-eaters, as they have a lower rate of metabolic syndrome.  Metabolic syndrome tends to get worse as people get older in Scotland and it has a link with obesity.  Dr Rebecca Reynolds, a reader in endocrinology and diabetes at the University Of Edinburgh Centre Of Cardiovascular Science, claims that “metabolic syndrome is very prevalent in Scotland because it’s linked with obesity and Scotland has some of the highest obesity rates in Europe.” (The Scotsman page 23)


Cancer jab: A universal vaccine that could revolutionise the treatment of cancer could be available in just two years.  The TeloVac jab is part of a new generation of drugs that use the body’s own defences to fight the disease.  It is hoped that it will be effective against tumours, including those of the skin, lung and liver. (Daily Mail page 7)