Reform Scotland News: 13 May 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.



Tax Powers: Alex Salmond has claimed that the UK Government will go against the will of the Scottish people if it denies Holyrood the power to lower corporation tax.  After meeting Scottish Secretary Michael Moore following the SNP victory last week, Mr Salmond claimed it would be “totally unacceptable, insupportable and not credible” for these powers not to be devolved.  The First Minister wants the Scotland Bill, which is currently passing through Westminster, to be changed in order to grant more power to Holyrood, including the ability to borrow £2 billion. (Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 8, P&J page 7, Courier page 13, The Sun page 2)


Sectarianism: Alex Salmond reiterated his determination to rid Scotland of sectarianism, and declared that the attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon was “utterly unacceptable”.  The First Minister stated that there was no place for “bigots or fools” who “attach” themselves to Scottish football.  In addition, two men were charged with sending parcel bombs to Neil Lennon, a lawyer and an ex-MSP (Scotsman page 6, Daily Express page 2-3, Daily Mirror page 19)


Scottish Conservatives: Tory MSP Gavin Brown has become the party’s new finance spokesman.  Mr Brown replaces Derek Brownlee who was not re-elected to Holyrood.  Newly-elected Glasgow MSP Ruth Davidson takes over the Culture Brief from Ted Brocklebank, who stood down as an MSP before the election.  Former Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson takes over rural affairs from John Scott who has become a Deputy Presiding Officer.  (Scotsman page 8. The Herald page 8, P&J page 8, The Times page 9, Courier page 9, The Sun page 2)


Scottish Independence: A poll by YouGov has found that Scottish Independence has more support in England and Wales than it does in Scotland.  According to the poll, 41% of people in the rest of the UK back the SNP’s plans to split from the Union, but it is only supported by 29% of people in Scotland.  Despite these findings, Alex Salmond claimed that the SNP would win an independence referendum if it could generate similar support to that which led to the landslide victory of the SNP.  (Scotsman page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 4)


Referendum: Nick Clegg has warned Alex Salmond not to “misinterpret his mandate” by believing that the SNP landslide victory was an expression of support for Scottish Independence.  The Deputy Prime Minister also did not rule out completely Westminster instigating its own Scottish referendum. (The Herald page 8)


Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman claims that Alex Salmond and the SNP party need to look beyond nationalism.  George Kerevan also in The Scotsman states that Alex Salmond needs to decide on a battle plan as a referendum draws nearer. Hugo Rifkind in The Times (page 27) claims that independence is the last thing that SNP voters want.  Alan Cochrane in The Daily Telegraph (page 19) states that the referendum could be disastrous for both Scotland and England as both countries are deeply entwined.


Independence Redefinition: The SNP is reportedly working on a major shift in the concept of independence which could see them ditching many aspects of the party’s historic drive for a separate Scottish State. This rethink of the SNP’s aim has emerged in a study by Professor James Mitchell at Strathclyde University, which was based on interviews with 80 senior figures within the party.  The new concept will remain true to the characteristics of independence but will contain many compromises.  (The Times page 1)


Jackie Baillie: Labour health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie has indicated that she may stand for the party leadership later this year.  The Dumbarton MSP insisted yesterday that she will wait until an internal review into the Labour defeat last week before announcing whether or not to stand. (Scotsman page 8&9)


Scottish Liberal Democrats: It is reported in The Courier that Fife MSP Willie Rennie will be the next leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats. Mr Rennie will take over from Tavish Scott who resigned after the party’s result at the Holyrood election. (Courier page 1)



Oil: The Parkmead Group has formed an alliance with Aberdeen based DEO Petroleum to scour three areas of the central North Sea for oil.  The group is planning to capitalise on the plunge in the price of North Sea assets following the Budget tax increase in March.  The deal saw shares in both firms rise by around 10% yesterday. (The Herald page 1)


Green Power: A pioneering scheme to harness the power of waves in Orkney has moved closer to reality after it was selected by the UK Government for consideration as part of a major European funding initiative.  If successful, it would be a major boost to Pelamis and Aquamarine Power, two Edinburgh-based companies that design and manufacture wave and energy machines.  (The Times page 23)


Local Government

Car-jacked: The daughter of a city councillor was carjacked by an escaped prisoner in Edinburgh. (Scotsman page 1)


Aberdeen By-Election: A by-election is being held to replace the Aberdeen councillor, Scott Cassie, who embezzled £13,500 from a community group. (The Herald page 13)



Slopping Out: Ministers are facing a new slopping out row after two convicted rapists were each awarded £500 damages for having to empty a chemical toilet at Peterhead Prison.  The legal victory for the men in a test case at the Court of Session paves the way for hundreds of other cases and adds pressure on the Scottish Government to speed up plans for a replacement of the notorious jail. (Scotsman page 15, The Herald page 4, The Times page 17, Daily Mail page 24, Daily Express page 8, Daily Record page 2)



Edinburgh Trams: Retailers in Edinburgh are threatening a revolt over plans to close Princes Street to traffic for ten months to allow repairs on the tram works.  They have made a series of demands to city council leaders, including compensation for firms expected to suffer financially while the repairs are being carried out, a guarantee that the trams will go as far as Princes Street initially and extra marketing for the city. (Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 5)


Inverness Airport: A campaign has been launched in defence of Inverness airport as a regional hub for the Highlands amid fears that such facilities are at risk.  Highland Council is worried that the increased landing charges at Gatwick alongside the increasing competition with Heathrow for long-haul routes will send short-haul flights to the London hub.  Councillors have backed Flybe which is challenging the increased landing charges and aim to lobby at Westminster and Holyrood to highlight the importance of the daily air links between Inverness and Gatwick for the Highland economy. (Scotsman 23)


Smartcards: Commuters in Scotland will not benefit from travel smartcards until 2018 as companies involved are reluctant to share their tickets, and there are also fears that operating costs will be too high, at nearly £23 million a year.  There had been hopes that tickets for bus, rail and ferry journeys could be combined into one format, similar to the Oyster-card system in London. (The Herald page 10)



Peter Wright: The president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA), Peter Wright, will use his last speech in the post to criticise Scotland’s curriculum for excellence and attack the UK Government for targeting teachers’ pensions.  Mr Wright will describe the new curriculum as “not capable of delivering” for parents, pupils or teachers. (Scotsman page 22, The Herald page 2)


Glasgow Caledonian University: An internal inquest is being carried out at Caledonian University into how it fell foul of Government rules over the recruitment of overseas students. (The Herald page 11)



BETA Blockers: Research led by Dundee University has found that BETA blocker drugs that are usually prescribed for heart diseases may also help sufferers of chronic bronchitis and emphysema.  It was found that the drugs reduced mortality rates and hospital admissions for patients already taking inhaler therapies. (Scotsman page 22, Courier page 12)


Drug Clinic: A new one-stop clinic for people with drug problems has opened in Aberdeen city centre.  The Timmermarket Clinic, which is the first of its kind in Scotland, houses up to 30 staff, including doctors, nurses, social workers and rehabilitation workers.  (Scotsman page 24)


Funding Row: Doctors on the Scottish island of Arran have claimed that services are at risk due to plans to remove funding for three GPs.  They say that NHS Ayrshire and Arran managers are removing money in order to pay for out-of-hours cover from the mainland, and claim that this will stretch services to breaking point. (Scotsman 23, The Herald page 10)


Drug Grant: A team of Tayside drug experts have been given a grant of £200,000 to help them develop new ways of treating diseases.  The drug discovery unit at Dundee University will use the cash to develop a collection of molecules which can be used to find new treatments. (P&J page 3)