Reform Scotland News: 10 June 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.



Referendum: Scotland is heading for a single referendum that will give the people the chance to vote for three options – an independence-lite constitutional settlement, full separation from the UK or the status quo. Alex Salmond last night gave his strongest signal yet that he favoured a two-question ballot that would enable the people to decide between those three options, as a fuller picture began to emerge about the choices facing the country. The First Minister provided some clarity about the form of the referendum during a week that has seen much confusion created by the constitutional wrangling between the Scottish and UK governments. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Courier page 1)


Church of Scotland: A congregation in Aberdeen is set to become the first to break away from the Church of Scotland amid the growing row over the ordination of gay ministers. Members of Gilcomston South Church in Aberdeen’s Union Street are expected to formally vote to secede from the Church of Scotland at a meeting this summer in protest at the Kirk’s stance on homosexual clergy. Gilcomston Church is less than a mile from Queen’s Cross Church, the kirk at the centre of the threatened church schism, which was sparked by the congregation’s decision two years ago to induct the Rev Scott Ronnie as the first openly gay minister in the Church of Scotland. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 8, Times page 13, Press and Journal page 8, Daily Record page 27)


FMQs:  Alan Cochrane and Magnus Linklater both comment on Alex Salmond’s performance in yesterday’s FMQs. (Telegraph page 15, Times page 10, Scotsman page 7)


Care homes: Three-quarters of all Scottish care homes owned by crisis-hit Southern Cross have had complaints upheld in the past five years. Regulators have upheld multiple complaints about many centres, and nearly half of all homes have been warned about inadequate staffing levels. The findings raise major questions over whether the company, which has 98 homes in Scotland, should be allowed to pursue a cost-cutting review involving the possible loss of 3000 jobs UK-wide, including 400 in Scotland. (Herald page 1, page 5)


Tony Blair: A cache of documents from the former Labour government have shone a light on Ed Miliband and Ed Balls’ roles in Gordon Brown’s plot to take over the leadership from Tony Blair. The papers include letters exchanged between Blair and Brown which show them haggling over the terms for a handover of 10 Downing Street. They reportedly suggest that the Brown camp was planning for the change of power within weeks of the 2005 general election, with key roles in the process for Mr Miliband, Mr Balls and Douglas Alexander – now Labour’s leader, shadow chancellor and shadow foreign secretary. Labour sought to shrug off the significance of the papers, with a senior party source saying: “This is ancient history. We are a party looking to the future.” (Herald page 2, Telegraph page 1)


David Cameron: David Cameron will use a visit to Scotland next week to begin the fight back to save the Union as preparations get under way at Westminster to form a “Yes to Scotland in Britain” campaign. MPs from different parties have had initial talks on creating a cross-party campaign, have taken advice from the highly successful “No to AV” team and have already had pledges from potential donors. In wake of the SNP landslide at Holyrood and the early pace set by the Nationalists on the issue of the independence referendum, the Prime Minister is considering forming an inner team or “quad” of Cabinet ministers to formulate the political campaign against First Minister Alex Salmond and his colleague Angus Robertson, who has already been appointed as chief co-ordinator to the Yes to Independence campaign. “The Government is not neutral in this matter,” declared David Mundell, the Scotland Office Minister. “It is totally committed to Scotland remaining part of Britain and will be playing its full part in making the positive case for that. This is not a situation where the Government is going to be a casual bystander,” he added. (Herald page 6, Times page 1)


Green energy: The Scottish Government’s goal to generate 100% of the country’s energy needs from green sources by 2020 is unrealistic, unachievable and not in the best interests of energy consumers, according to a new report. Within nine years only 39% of Scotland’s electricity generation will be from renewable sources such as wind, wave and tidal power, including energy for export, Inverness-based Mackay Consultants has warned.  The prediction was denied by the Scottish Government, which stressed the real target is for Scotland to generate twice what is needed to meet all our energy demands, with 100% from renewables and the same again from other established sources. First Minister Alex Salmond has insisted the commitment is achievable and will help to re-industrialise Scotland with 130,000 jobs in the renewable and low-carbon energy sector in the next nine years. (Herald page 10)



Waldorf-Astoria: The Caledonian Hilton will be converted into the Hilton’s luxury Waldorf Astoria brand. It will be the first time the 127-year-old American name has come to Scotland.
Hilton, which runs the Edinburgh hotel under a long-term management agreement, will invest £14 million to refurbish every room as it seeks to attract a new breed of luxury travellers. Hilton bought and upgraded the Caledonian hotel in 2000 before selling it to current owners, the Caledonian Operating Company, for £51.7m in August 2007. Hilton retained the management contract, and will be responsible for the latest investment. (Scotsman
page 3)


North Sea oil revenues: The First Minister is due to announce proposals to change how North Sea oil and gas companies are taxed. The announcement follows the Budget set earlier this year by Chancellor George Osborne, in which he announced £2 billion-worth of new taxes on the windfall profits of oil companies. Oil and Gas UK, the trade association representing offshore companies, has claimed the windfall tax will cost the industry as much as £50 billion over the next 10 years. Alex Salmond will present a paper, UK Continental Shelf Tax Regime – Options for Reform, detailing measures designed to help firms maintain their planned investments in the face of recent changes to oil and gas taxation. (Herald page 6)


Riverside Museum: International architect Zaha Hadid presented the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which opens to the public on 21 June. It is one of the most complex buildings ever built in Britain, at a cost of £74 million. (Herald page 4, Times page 4, Scotsman page 21)



Teaching union: The leaders of Scotland’s largest teaching union have been accused of breaching its members’ trust after accepting a pay deal which will see the profession suffer £45 million of cuts to pay and conditions. The EIS came under a barrage of criticism from teachers as they gathered in Perth for the union’s annual congress. Michael Dunn of the union’s South Lanarkshire local association said: “I represent many branches and many of these did trust the leadership but now feel that trust has been breached.”A pay freeze is one thing but giving away conditions of service is unbelievable.” (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 2)




Heart disease: A fall in the number of people dying from coronary heart disease has helped bring Scotland’s death rate to its lowest level for at least 37 years, new figures reveal. Statistics show that 14,530 people died in the first quarter of this year, far fewer than in previous years, and the lowest since computerised records began in 1974. The figures from the Registrar General for Scotland (GRO) show deaths from coronary heart disease fell dramatically, with 2,051 victims of the condition, a 10.4 per cent drop on the same quarter last year. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 10)