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Reform Scotland News: 14 September 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. 

  

Politics

Anti-Sectarianism Bill: Professor Tom Devine told MSPs yesterday that the sectarianism problem is part of the ‘fabric of Scotia’ and extends beyond football stadia.  He added that existing laws are ‘perfectly adequate’ to crack down on the actions targeted by the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill. Scotland is currently the only country in the world with specific anti-sectarianism legislation. A Scottish Government spokeswoman defended the legislation last night, saying ‘these new laws will send out a clear message that there is no place for bigots in modern day Scotland.’ (Scotsman page 2, The Sun page 2, Daily Express page 6, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 28, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 5)

 

TV Advertising for Children: A leading children’s charity has called for a ban on television advertising aimed at under-12s after a study revealed that many families feel pressured by a materialistic culture in the UK. Unicef UK said research showed that children feel trapped in a materialistic culture and don’t spend enough time with their families. (Scotsman page 26, Guardian page 12, The Herald page 4, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 1)

 

Anti-Independence Campaign: Former First Minister Jack McConnell claimed yesterday that anti-independence campaigners have nobody to head the referendum fight against Alex Salmond.  Speaking on the BBC’s Daily Politics show yesterday McConnell argued that any head of a pro-Union campaign must be a ‘figure of some popular appeal’. (The Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 2)

 

Strikes: Union leaders warned last night that Britain is facing the biggest wave of industrial action for a generation. Schools, hospitals and other services could be hit by the dispute over public sector pensions this winter, with an announcement of coordinated strike action expected to be made today.  The move is likely to follow a debate at the TUC Congress in London. (The Herald page 1)

 

Economy

Housing Market: Million-pound homes in Scotland are continuing to sell well, despite the overall housing slump, according to new figures by estate agent Savills. Almost 150 £1m-plus homes sold in Scotland in 2010, compared to 106 in 2009. (Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1)

 

SNP Growth Policy: The SNP government’s plans to revive the economy have been branded ‘inadequate’ by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).  It claims plans to cut corporation tax and create specialised enterprise zones will not be enough to produce a long-term return to growth.  An SNP spokesman said that the report is ‘clearly out of date’ as its conclusions are based on 2008 data. (Scotsman page 6, The Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Telegraph page 5)

 

Banking Sector: Scotland’s two major banks have been criticised for poor customer service after consumers rated them among the worst financial institutions in the United Kingdom.  Bank of Scotland was rated joint second worst for overall customer satisfaction after Santander. Royal Bank of Scotland only fared slightly better in the new report by Consumer Group Which?. (Scotsman page 7)

 

Sales Figures: Scotland’s high streets suffered the second worst fall in sales since records began last month, according to the Scottish Retail Consortium. Sales in Scotland fell by 0.7% last month, compared to the same time last year. (Daily Mail page 4)

 

Inflation: Annual inflation reached 4.5% last month, according to official CPI figures. The figures show that clothing rose by its biggest increase on record in August while the price of gas, electricity, water and housing rocketed by 5.1% – the highest annual increase since July 2009. (Scotsman page 8, The Sun page 4, The P&J page 9, Financial Times page 3)

 

Health

Minimum Alcohol Pricing: Most voters opposed to the Scottish Government’s plans to impose minimum pricing for alcohol believe that the policy will fail to reduce excessive drinking and unfairly punish moderate drinkers, a report by Alcohol Research UK has found.  Researcher Professor Martin Hager has recommended that the government should highlight key features of the policy.  (Scotsman page 25)

 

Education

Teaching in Scotland Review: A review carried out by Gerry McCormac, principal of Stirling University, has called for the focus on reducing class sizes to be ditched in favour of improving standards among teachers.  The report added that low pupil-to-teacher ratios did not necessarily improve educational attainment. The main author has accused Scottish schools of being ‘overly prescriptive and inherently inflexible’. Education secretary Michael Russell said: ‘these recommendations need to be given full and careful consideration as I believe they can make an important contribution to the work to develop our teaching force’. (Scotsman page 4, Ross Martin in the Scotsman, The Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, The Courier page 1, Daily Mail page 6, The Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 2, The Times page 3)