Reform Scotland News: 12 September 2011


In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News. 



Labour Leadership Election:  Labour has announced plans to create a new Scottish leader and a beefed-up party north of the Border to fight back against the SNP. Reforms will reportedly lead to the loosening of ties with the UK Labour party, with the UK leader no longer in charge of the Scottish party’s fortunes.  Meanwhile, Labour education spokesman Ken Macintosh has launched his campaign for the party leadership with a warning that the party must change and ‘harness the potential of devolution’. (Scotsman page 10, The Courier page 13, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Eddie Barnes in Scotland on Sunday)


Conservative Leadership Election: Former Scottish Secretary Lord Forsyth has given his backing to Ruth Davidson to become the next leader of the Conservatives in Scotland.  The peer has been critical of Murdo Fraser’s plans for a new centre-right party. Mr Fraser has, however, received the backing of multi-millionaire Alister Jack. (Scotsman page 10, Daily Telegraph page 13, Daily Express page 8, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald, Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times, Sunday Times page 3)


Ruth Davidson has sacked a Holyrood assistant who burned an EU flag amid anti-Catholic taunts.  A Sunday Herald investigation uncovered footage of Ross McFarlane setting fire to the EU flag while dressed in Glasgow University robes last year.  (Sunday Herald page 18)


Recycling: Thousands of tons of waste placed into recycling bins by households is still being thrown into landfill sites as councils fail to hit recycling targets.  The level of domestic waste produced has fallen from 3.41million tonnes in 2007-8 to 3.14million tonnes in 2010-11, this figure is still 16% below the national target of 3.76million tonnes. (The Daily Mail page 1)


Nuclear Energy: The SNP has been accused of inconsistency with regards to its anti-nuclear policy.  The SNP government has backed Westminster’s plan to double the number of nuclear powered submarines on the Clyde, despite Ministry of Defence safety concerns and the SNP’s own ambitions for a nuclear free Scotland. (Sunday Herald page 22)


Feud over SNP Council Elections: The former head of the SNP in Glasgow has reportedly launched an attack on his local party members, accusing them of suffering from ‘paranoia, conspiracy theories, mental illness and downright stupidity’.  Ari Mack made the comments in a statement to activists saying he was quitting as convenor of the SNP Glasgow Regional Association.  (Sunday Herald page 22)



Pension Age: The UK government is to bring forward an increase in the state pension age to 67 under plans to prolong the working life of millions of people under 50, according to the pensions minister. The retirement age could be raised to 67 as early as 2026. (Scotsman page 13, The Sun page 2, The Daily Mail page 11, Financial Times page 2, Daily Telegraph page 12, Daily Express page 4)


Whisky Sales: Sales of Scotch whisky abroad are now worth £115 a second to the country, according to the latest data. Exports jumped almost a quarter in the first half of this year to nearly £1.8 billion – despite the global slump. (The Sun page 2, The Daily Mail page 5 and Hamish Macdonell in the Daily Mail, The Herald Business page 1, The Courier page 10, Press and Journal page 20, Daily Record page 24)


Budget Cuts: The Institute for Fiscal Studies has claimed that the UK government cuts will reduce the living standards of Britain’s families by more than 10% over the next three years, with those on the lowest incomes suffering the most. The IFS also claimed on Sunday that the 50p tax rate for Britain’s highest earners may not raise any extra revenue for the Treasury. (The Guardian page 1, The Herald page 1, The Sunday Times page 1)  


Council Tax: Nearly half of Scotland’s councils wish to adopt Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a scheme devised in the US that aims to unlock private infrastructure developments in deprived areas. Fifteen councils have made sixteen applications to the Scottish Futures Trust worth hundreds of millions of pounds for permission to pilot TIF schemes. (Sunday Herald page 43)


Banking Reform: The Independent Banking Commission report is released today, which will recommend what the UK government should do to reform the UK banking sector.  Angela Knight, head of the British Bankers’ Association, has claimed that any increased costs will make it more difficult to lend to businesses and keep the economy moving.  The contents of the report are predicted to include the ring fencing of retail banks from their investment arms, plus new capital rules.  (Steven Vass in the Sunday Herald and Edmund Conway in the Telegraph) 


Economic Growth: Scots have become more upbeat than the rest of the UK about prospects for the economy for the first time in two years. An IPSOS Mori opinion poll found that 22% of Scots believe the Scottish economy will improve over the next 12 months, while only 18% say the same of the UK economy.  (Sunday Times page 2)



Pension Strike: Scotland’s largest teaching union, the EIS, confirmed it will ballot its members on strike action over proposed changes to pensions.  Teachers have already agreed – at the EIS’s AGM in June – to use industrial action to resist any deterioration in their conditions of service. (Scotsman page 9, The Daily Mail page 16, The Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 11, Daily Record page 2)


Tuition Fees: Students from Scotland will not see tuition fees introduced for degree courses at Scottish universities in future, the education secretary has pledged. Education Secretary Michael Russell said: ‘there are not and will not be tuition fees for Scottish domiciled students’. Meanwhile Aidan O’Neill QC has announced he is to lead a legal challenge on behalf of a group of English students who must pay fees to attend Scottish Universities. (Scotsman page 13, Sunday Times page 8, Judith Duffy in the Sunday Herald)



Megrahi Lawyer: A prominent Scottish lawyer, Professor Robert Black, has become embroiled in a row over legal fees as part of efforts to help free the Lockerbie bomber. (Scotsman page 8, Daily Record page 6, Daily Express page 2)



Bowel Cancer: People living in parts of Scotland are three times more likely to die from bowel cancer than any other part of the UK, according to new rankings published today.  Glasgow was cited as the worst in the country for the number of deaths from the disease per year followed by Orkney and Falkirk. (Scotsman page 11, The Sun page 14, The Daily Mail page 19)


Carers: Three-quarters of older carers in Scotland say looking after a sick or disabled family member has had a negative impact on their physical health, according to a survey carried out by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.  Just over half reported a deterioration in their physical health over the past year and 36.6% of older carers have delayed treatments or operations because of their new caring role. (Scotsman page 12, the Herald page 11, The Courier page 10, Daily Telegraph page 10)