Reform Scotland News: 5 August 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.



Salmond’s meetings with Murdoch: Documents by the Scottish Government that were published yesterday reveal the relationship between Alex Salmond and News International owner Rupert Murdoch over the past four years.  The documents show that the First Minister exchanged gifts, requested meetings and offered to shower Mr Murdoch with lavish hospitality, as a part of a concerted effort to court the billionaire’s media empire, which threw its Scottish tabloid newspapers behind Mr Salmond’s re-election campaign this year.  Labour leader Iain Gray said that revelations that Alex Salmond met News International executives 25 times in the past four years showed that the First Minister had waged a “four year campaign since he became First Minister to seduce Rupert Murdoch and News International, which has included gifts.  Not only is this unusual and highly questionable behaviour by Scotland’s First Minister, but he has gone out of his way to meet News International executives not based in Scotland”.  However a spokesman for Mr Salmond said that the focus of meetings with News International executives has been on “boosting jobs, investment and economic activity in Scotland”. (The Scotsman page 1,The Herald page 1, Courier page 9, The Times page 3, Daily Telegraph page 1, P&J page 5, P&J page 11, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Record page 2)


Tom Peterkin in the Scotsman (page 5) comments on the relationship between the First Minister and Rupert Murdoch.  Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph (page 4) also provides comment and analysis.


Tommy Sheridan: Former MSP Tommy Sheridan’s appeal against his perjury conviction has reportedly been thrown out of court.  It is thought that the Court of Criminal Appeal have ruled that the case lodged by Mr Sheridan, who was jailed in January for three years, as “unarguable”. (The Scotsman page 3, The Herald page 1, The Times page 11, Daily Telegraph page 12, Daily Mail page 4, Sun page 4)


Same-sex marriages: A row has broken out among Nationalist politicians after Glasgow MSP John Mason was attacked by SNP MP Pete Wishart over his controversial motion on same-sex marriages.  The MP for Perth and North Perthshire launched his attack on twitter last night after Mr Mason lodged a motion in advance of a Scottish Government consultation on legalising same-sex marriages.  Responding to the motion, which has already been branded as “bizarre” and “spurious” by Labour and Green MSPs, Mr Wishart said “John Mason’s nasty little anti-gay marriage motion is just wrong, and really disappointed that other colleagues have signed it” (The Scotsman page 10, Courier page 1, Daily Mail page 9)



Global Markets: Around £50 billion was wiped off the value of Britain’s leading shares as fears over the financial crisis in the eurozone sent the country another step closer to a second recession.  The UK’s banking sector bore the brunt of investor panic with shares in the tax-payer owned Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds and Barclays all plunging to lows not seen for more than a year before the markets closed last night.  The day’s frantic trading means taxpayers have lost around £28 billion of their £65 billion stakes in Lloyds and RBS.  When the markets closed yesterday the FTSE-100 was down 3.4%, while the New York’s Dow Jones index was trading at 4.3% down.  Traders warned that a climate of fear had descended, with many investors jettisoning their shares, while the huge drop in share prices will have a dramatic effect on the savings of ordinary people. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, FT page 1, Courier page 13, Guardian page 1, The Times page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mirror page 1, Sun page 9, Daily Record page 10)


Larry Elliot in the Guardian (page 1) comments on whether or not we are headed towards another recession. Jeremy Warner in the Daily Telegraph (page 1) provides commentary on the situation.


Job losses: Almost 2,000 workers face an uncertain future after one of Scotland’s largest care groups hit financial trouble and the closure was announced of more than twenty TJ Hughes department stores.  Cash-flow problems were blamed for Livingstone-based Choices Care group falling into administration.  (Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 8, P&J page 5)


Scottish tourism: Tourism in Scotland is on the increase thanks to the ‘staycationing’ boom, however it is likely to increase more thanks to a unique three year window of opportunity open up with the 2012 Olympics, followed by the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 – the same year as golf’s Ryder Cup is staged at Gleneagles.  According to Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland, the government-funded tourism body, Scotland is to reap the rewards from a combination of high-profile sporting events and public and private sector investment. (FT, page 3)



Jim Gallagher in The Scotsman (page 34&35) writes on police reform in Scotland and the advice he would give to Kenny MacAskill.



Mike Russell: Education Secretary Mike Russell opposed claims from a leading teaching union last night after it warned that cutbacks and reforms to their members’ working day will soon “undermine” education and prevent yesterday’s record exam results to happen again.  The NASUWT warned that the “gold standard” of education is being put at risk, and it singled out changes to teachers’ conditions of service and on-going review being led by Professor Gerry McCormac, which is examining teacher employment.  This prompted an angry response from Mr Russell as he sought to congratulate pupils on their exam results.  Mr Russell said that “I think that’s rather unfortunate to appear on a day when teachers’ unions should be celebrating the success of their members”.  (The Scotsman page 8, Courier page 7, P&J page 8)


Exam results: Last night is also emerged that the release of 25,000 exam results a day early was caused by the addition of a single errant space on a computer file which ended up tripping the system and causing the information to be sent out by mistake (The Scotsman page 8&9)


Higher education places: Scottish pupils who narrowly missed out on their desired exam grades face a tough battle for college and university places.  The squeeze has been caused by high numbers of applicants to higher education as a result of the recession and record pass levels for pupils at Higher level.  Figures published yesterday by UCAS, the higher admissions service, show that 21,630 pupils have already been accepted into Scottish colleges or universities. (The Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 10)


Gaelic exam papers: Students at Scotland’s largest Gaelic school are celebrating their results after the landmark decision to translate exam papers into the language for the first time. Higher candidates were able to sit mathematics in either English or Gaelic following the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s decision to expand the number of subjects that it offers in the language. (The Herald page 6)



E coli contamination: An investigation was continuing last night to pinpoint the source of E coli contamination which has affected water supplies to three costal communities.  More than 2,000 people living in Burghead, Kinloss and Findhorn areas of Moray have been warned to boil their water before drinking it, after traces of the bacteria were found in a storage tank that supplies homes in the area. (The Scotsman page 20)