Reform Scotland News: 8 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:

Train station protest: Labour leader Iain Gray was yesterday met with protestors at Glasgow Central Station while he was there to highlight Labour’s plans to reinstate the axed Glasgow Airport Rail Link.  Mr Gray was faced with chants from nine members of Citizens United Against Cuts to Public Services, who were intent on disrupting his attempts to speak to passing voters.  Previously the group have attempted to disrupt the Scottish Conservatives and Liberal Democrats on their campaign trail.(The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 8,Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 11, Daily Mail page 7, Sun page 8, Daily Express page 5, Daily Record page 2, The Times page 19)


Conservative Campaign: Conservative leader Annabel Goldie has pledged £20 million to boost health visitor centres in Scotland if they win the election in order to tackle the “postcode” lottery which is experienced by Scottish families. (The Scotsman page 9)


SNP Campaign: Alex Salmond announced plans for a £250 million fund from the savings on the new Forth Bridge project to secure a “fairer future” for young Scots.  The Scottish Futures Fund would be used for new sports facilities, digital infrastructure and green transport initiatives.  Ministers estimated a budget of £1.87 billion for the new bridge, but a new deal was struck last month which came in at £1.54 billion (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 6, The Times page 19, The Daily Telegraph page 7)


Comment and Analysis: Eddie Barnes, in The Scotsman comments that Iain Gray should “lighten up” when it comes to protestors on the campaign trail. George Kerevan page 33 in The Scotsman comments on how improving employment figures will be the “real battleground” for the election.  Jim Gallagher, in The Scotsman comments on how three of the major political parties are aiming for a single national police force.


Tuition Fees:  Peter Downes, the principle of Dundee University claims that Alex Salmond and Iain Gray will have to break their promises not to introduce student tuition fees if Scottish Universities are to maintain their international excellence (The Daily Telegraph, page 7)



Defence cutbacks reviewed: Prime Minister David Cameron is said to reassessing the cuts to the military in the wake of the Libyan conflict.  Senior military sources have claimed that this rethink may lead to the reduction of equipment – such as RAF Tornados, some of which are based at Lossiemouth – being postponed or reversed. (The Scotsman page 1, The Times page 3, The Daily Telegraph page 1)


Job-finding contract: UK ministers could face a legal challenge over the decision to award a contract to find jobs for people who are out of work to two private-sector companies – Ingeus and Working Links – at the expense of Scottish social enterprise the Wise Group.  According to Labour’s Des McNulty, who sits on the board of the Wise Group, there appear to be some discrepancies in the way contracts covering employability schemes in Scotland under the Government’s Work Programme have been allocated.  Mr McNulty contacted The Herald and claimed that it could not be legal for contracts to be awarded “to an organisation that doesn’t meet the published tender”.  (The Herald page 7).


MP expenses: Taxpayers handed MPs £3.2million in expenses for the final two months of 2010, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) revealed yesterday. The watchdog rejected £9,998 worth of claims submitted by 44 MPs from the same period. In total, 26,500 claims were submitted in November and December, although many may relate to expenditure in previous months. There were more than 72,000 claims totalling £9.98million between May last year – when Ipsa took over the administration of MPs’ expenses – and December. The claims from November and December were down from the £3.6million paid out in September and October last year. (Press and Journal page 10)



Minimum wage: The national minimum wage is set to increase in October by 15p an hour to £6.08, which will benefit almost a million workers.  Citizens Advice Scotland warned that it will barely offset the rise in the cost of living for many vulnerable people. (The Scotsman page 2)


Drug company jobs: Drug company GlaxoSmithKline is moving its manufacturing process from India to Scotland, and it plans to invest ‘tens of millions of pounds’ in its operation in Irvine, Ayrshire.  (The Herald page 1)


Inverness Airport: Over 700 jobs are to be created at Inverness Airport over the next seven years.  Roxhill Developments has signed an agreement with Inverness Airport Business Park to develop their business at the terminal.  The deal could eventually lead to 1200 jobs in the next decade, and it is hoped that this will offset the 2000 jobs due to go at RAF Kinloss. (The Herald page 4)


Salmon Farms:  Anglers have called for tighter regulation of Scotland’s salmon farms, after they published official figures which they claim raise serious concerns over sea lice infestations.  High sea lice numbers on farmed fish have been linked to the collapse in salmon and sea trout numbers in Scottish rivers.  (The Daily Telegraph, page 12)



Radical law reforms: Senior Judge Lord Carloway has published a consultation paper which raises the possibility of a number of radical law reforms, such as Saturday courts and ending both the requirement of corroboration for prosecutions and the right of suspects to remain silent without any negative inference being drawn.  Lord Carloway was brought in to look at Scots law after the UK Supreme Court, citing European Human Rights, forced the Scottish Government to introduce emergency legislation to give all suspects in custody the right to consult a lawyer.  Lawyers, police officers and legislators have the chance to answer some of the 34 questions that have been posed by Lord Carloway, and his recommendations will be published in the autumn. (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 1)


Lockerbie:  Police investigating the Lockerbie bombing met with the Libyan defector Moussa Koussa yesterday.  There has been speculation about what he knows about the bombing which killed more than 270 people in 1988. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 1)


In related news, Lamen Khalifa Fhima, who stood trial alongside Mr Al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing but was cleared of any involvement, faces a possibility of a retrial in the Scottish Courts because of a recent overhaul in Scotland’s double-jeopardy laws.  The new double-jeopardy law was passed by parliament last month and means that a person may stand trial for a second time if there is compelling new evidence.  Senior prosecutors have decided that a second Lockerbie trial in relation to Mr Fhima is now possible if Moussa Koussa provides evidence of his involvement (The Times, page 5)



Radiation from Fukushima: Further minute traces of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan have been found in Scotland.  They were found in grass and air samples from across the country, however they are of “no concern” to health. (The Scotsman page 17)


Muscle-wasting conditions: Three NHS-funded care advisors will begin helping families across Scotland after a “tireless campaign” for specialist support workers.  Previously, there had only been two part-time advisers were shared between thousands of patients with muscle-wasting conditions. (The Scotsman page 20, The Herald page 9)