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.
Alternative Voting System: Scottish voters support a controversial new system for electing MPs to Westminster, the first poll to test the views of the nation has shown. A YouGov survey for The Scotsman, ahead of a referendum on 5 May, shows narrow support for swapping the current first-past-the-post system for the Alternative Vote (AV) which allows candidates to be ranked in order of preference. Last night, experts said the result in Scotland could prove decisive in what is likely to be a knife-edge UK-wide vote, as the referendum is being held on the same day as the Scottish Parliament elections. (Scotsman page 1, Sunday Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 13, Herald page 8)
Manifestos: The head of Scotland’s local government body has reportedly dismissed the manifestos of the main political parties contesting the Holyrood election as “unambitious, largely irrelevant and financially unsound”. Rory Mair, chief executive of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), accused the main parties of failing to address the “core issues” affecting funding for public services and claimed that key policies such as the council tax freeze and maintaining police numbers were undeliverable. Mr Mair said it was “not possible to avoid” compulsory redundancies among those employed by Scotland’s 32 local councils in the next few years. (Scotsman page 4-5, Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Press and Journal page 12, Sunday Times page 13)
SNP Take Lead: Alex Salmond is on course for a second term in office with an exclusive poll today revealing that the SNP is stretching ahead of Labour in the 2011 election race.
The YouGov poll for Scotland on Sunday shows that the Nationalists have surged ahead of their main opponents in the first stage of the campaign and currently stand to win a six-seat victory over Labour on 5 May. (Daily Telegraph page 2, Herald page 7, Press and Journal page 12, Scotland on Sunday page 1)
Coalition: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott has said his London colleagues will play no part in deciding whether the party will enter a coalition in Holyrood, should the option arise after the elections. Mr Scott said a decision on a possible coalition would be taken by Scottish MSPs, without input from the Lib Dems in Westminster. In an interview in the Sunday Herald, Mr Scott said: “Why would I pay attention to London on this issue where we fought a campaign having to deal with the consequences of London for the last six, seven weeks. (Sunday Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 8, Times page 13, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 9, Scotsman page 4)
Jim McColl backs SNP: Businessman and entrepreneur Jim McColl as backed the SNP for a second term in government. Mr. McColl – who is the founding partner, chief executive of chairman of Clyde Blowers Capital, and one of Scotland’s wealthiest people – said the SNP leader Alex Salmond was the “best man for the job.” (Press and Journal page 12, Herald page)
Vacancies increase: Demand for staff has increased at its fastest pace since September 2007 as the recovery from the recession extends into the jobs market, figures show today.
Vacancies for permanent staff have risen at their fastest rate for three and a half years, while demand for temporary staff increased for the 14th consecutive month, according to the Bank of Scotland’s monthly jobs report. (Scotsman page 1)
Census: Half a million householders in Scotland could be facing fines of £1000 because they have failed to return their census forms. Three weeks on from census day on March 27, more than two million questionnaires have been completed on paper or online but 20% of households north of the Border have still to fill in their personal details and return the surveys to organisers. (Herald page 1)
Vital Treatment: Dangerously ill patients living in Scotland’s largest health board area are being refused life-transforming treatment available to sufferers with similar symptoms throughout the rest of the UK. Experts say lives are being put at risk by a “lottery” for people with the rare blood disorder paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH), which affects around 12 patients north of the Border. The disorder causes red blood cells to explode, leaves patients too exhausted for simple tasks and at risk of kidney failure and potentially fatal blood clots. (Herald page 5)