Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 2 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.
Referendum: First Minister Alex Salmond has been warned by business chiefs that his plan to hold a historic referendum on Scotland’s independence could create a lengthy period of uncertainty over the country’s future and damage the economy. Linda Urquhart, the chairman of CBI Scotland, last night told a dinner in Glasgow that there was concern among her members over the “possible damage” that could be caused by the confusion over the timing, wording and legality of the proposed public poll. Ms Urquhart also called for the First Minister to present Scots with a simple “yes or no” question on independence, saying that it was vital to ensure that the referendum produced a clear result on the country’s future. The comment provoked an intense political row last night, as SNP MPs accused CBI Scotland of mounting “politicised attacks” against the Nationalist case and failing to represent the views of Scottish business accurately. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, Courier page 11, Guardian page 7, The Times page 3, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 6, Daily Express page 1)
Campaign Finance: Scotland’s smaller parties spent nearly £400,000 on campaigning in this year’s Holyrood elections, new figures have revealed. The figures of 18 parties were published yesterday and show that the Scottish Lib Dems were the biggest spenders on the list of those contesting the elections with a £176,300 figure. The Electoral Commission list did exclude Scottish Labour, SNP and the Tories who all spent over £250,000 and therefore have until the end of the year to reveal the level of their campaign expenditure. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 4, Courier page 11, The Times page 14, Daily Record page 2)
Lockerbie Bomber: According to a poll carried out by Ipsos Mori, 55% of Scots believe that SNP ministers were wrong to free the Lockerbie bomber on compassionate grounds. More than two years after Abdelbaset Ali Mohamed Al Megrahi was released, it was found that most Scots think that Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has made a mistake. (Courier page 7, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 15)
Poverty: Anti-poverty campaigners have called on politicians to do more to help the poor, as new figures revealed that the number of children being brought up in Scottish households where no adults are working has increased. The number of under-16s living in households without adults in employment rose to 145,000 this year from 141,000 last year. (The Scotsman page 16, Guardian page 10, Daily Mail page 19, Daily Express page 1)
Christian Guy provides comment in The Scotsman (page 17) on how the welfare system traps many people on benefits.
Edinburgh Trams: There is reportedly fresh concern about the impact of Edinburgh’s troubled tram project on the city’s main bus company, amid claims the firm has been kept in the dark over plans to use its profits to help finance a huge loan to get the scheme back on track. Insiders close to the company say its management had no say in proposals to force Lothian Buses to pay £2.7 million to lease tram vehicles from the city council. There could be a further impact on the firm if the Scottish Government fails to include the tram in its concessionary travel scheme, which means that Lothian Buses could be left to foot a bill of up to £4 million. (The Scotsman page 1)
Ross Martin in the Scotsman (page 34&35) provides comment on the Edinburgh tram project.
Tobacco Research: Professor Gerard Hastings of Stirling University’s Centre for Tobacco Controlled Research has spoken out after it emerged Philip Morris International (PMI) is attempting to gain access to his research into young people’s smoking habits. PMI, the world’s biggest tobacco company, has submitted a Freedom of Information (FoL) request asking for the university’s data. The research, which involves thousands of teenagers, examines why they started smoking, and what they think of marketing by tobacco companies. (The Scotsman page 11, Courier page 9, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 5)
Graduates: Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) have shown that more than a quarter of graduates were not in full-time work more than three years after leaving Scottish Universities. However, the Scottish figure is marginally better than that for the UK as a whole, as 26.7% of graduates in Scotland who left higher education in 2006-7 were not employed on a full time basis three years later, while it was 27.7% for the UK as a whole. (The Scotsman page 17, The Herald page 10, Daily Telegraph page 16)
Teaching: Incompetent Scottish teachers will be removed from the profession more quickly under a radical overhaul of disciplinary procedures. The General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) has published new measures designed to make the process of striking a teacher off quicker and more effective. (The Herald page 1)
Debt Management: A growing number of school pupils are receiving lessons in how to manage money to help stop mounting debt problems among young Scots. Citizens’ Advice Bureaus are setting up more partnerships with schools in an effort to tackle the issue with one in three young Scots now owing more than £5,000. (The Scotsman page 25)
Sectarian Violence: The Lord Advocate has defended the failed prosecution of a football fan accused of sectarian violence against Celtic manager Neil Lennon. Frank Mulholland QC said that the Crown Office would “continue to prosecute as hate crime” any offence where there was enough evidence. (The Scotsman page 8, Courier page 7, The Times page 19, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Express page 10)
Gerard Brown in The Scotsman (page 8&9) provides analysis on why aggravation charges are harder to prove than breach of the peace. Alan Cochrane in the Daily Telegraph (page 4) provides commentary on the situation and claims that sectarianism is not just within football but within the justice system as well.
Informants: Criminal informants are being paid at least £250,000 a year by Scotland’s police forces, new figures reveal. In the past two years, Strathclyde Police have handed out more than £400,000 to informants without having to account for the money spent. Last night, senior politicians and tax-payers’ groups demanded transparency over the money paid to criminal insiders. (The Herald page 4, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 4)
Stroke patients: Scottish scientists are moving forward in their pioneering research to treat stoke patients using stem cells. Researchers at the institute of Neurological Sciences at the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow have already injected the early stage neural cells into the brains of three stroke patients in a world-first trial. After passing safety tests, they have now been given the go-ahead to give more patients even bigger doses of the stem cells, and it is hoped that in the future that they will be able to show that stem cells can help repair damaged brain tissue and reduce disability. (The Scotsman page 22, The Herald page 4, The Times page 14)
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