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Reform Scotland News: 26 September 2011

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 26 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

Historic labour move:  A landmark vote at the Labour conference today will pave the way for the Scottish party to take on a more autonomous role.  Labour is expected to vote in favour of cutting the Scottish party loose – a historic move that means Ed Miliband will in effect no longer be leader in Scotland.  Meanwhile, Ken Macintosh, the front-runner in the race to become Scottish Labour leader has taken steps to try and from a new “progressive alliance” with other centre-left parties.  At a reception at the Liverpool conference, Mr Miliband said he would “not rest until we are back where we should be, leading the Scottish Government”. (The Scotsman page 1, Brian Monteith in The Scotsman, Herald page1, Times page 7, P&J page 10, Daily Record page 8&9)

Tom Harris:  Labour is facing a “life or death” situation in Scotland which could see it become an irrelevance within a few years, according to a former minister who wants to be its next leader.  Tom Harris MP, the former UK transport minister said that the party is no longer taken seriously north of the border and could go the way of the Scottish Tories, who only have one MP.  Mr Harris added that failing to select a leader capable of bringing Labour out of the wilderness after May’s defeat to the SNP could “kill the union”.  (Sunday Times page 7, Sunday Herald page 20)

Corporation tax:  Business leaders have called for more clarity over the Scottish Government’s demand for control over corporation tax.  The Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) has warned corporation tax receipts are volatile, particularly in tough economic times, and it says businesses have yet to be convinced devolving that tax power as part of the Scotland Bill would be to their benefit.  The SCC believes that the Scottish Government should be doing more to promote growth with the economic levers it already has.  However, it has pledged to take an “open and pragmatic approach” to devolution and to “engage positively” with MSPs when its representatives appear before Holyrood’s Scotland Bill committee. (The Scotsman page 6, Herald page 5, Courier page 10, Herald on Sunday page 4, Daily Telegraph page 7, Daily Mail page 4)

John Swinney:  The Finance Secretary John Swinney writes about his budget in the Sunday Herald.

Scottish Conservatives:  The Scottish Conservatives risk being reduced to a rump the size of the Scottish Socialist Party or the Greens unless members “get real” about their situation, leadership candidate Murdo Fraser has said.  Mr Fraser is preparing to take “the unvarnished, unspun truth” to party members at a series of events around the country complete with a presentation that shows the Tory vote has halved since 1997.  It predicts that if the party continues to lose regional list votes at the same rate it has been doing since 1999, then the party will be reduced to under 7% of the vote in just over ten years.  However, current leader Annabel Goldie rejected plans for a breakaway party.  Ms Goldie said: “I have rejected this idea in the past and my position has not changed”.  (The Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Courier page 9, Times page 8, Sunday Times page 1, Daily Express page 4&10, Murdo Fraser in the Daily Express page 12, Sun page 2)

Spending plans:  Alex Salmond’s alternative blueprint for economic recovery in Scotland is a sham in which only the First Minister believes, Labour’s Holyrood leader will tell the party conference today.  Iain Gray will tell delegates in Liverpool that the SNP’s spending plans for the next three years are already discredited, despite being unveiled just last week, following attacks from businesses, academics, nurses, colleges and trade unions.  In the most outspoken passage, Mr Gray will mock Alex Salmond’s assertion that he has an alternative “Plan MacB” for growth by stating that the strategy is “nothing but MacBull”. (The Scotsman page 8, Daily Telegraph page 7, Daily Mail page 8)

Economy

BBC: BBC Scotland is expected to make as many as 150 staff redundant as the broadcaster cuts £16 million from its annual budget.  (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Express page 2) 

Transport

Bus cuts: Elderly passengers and rural communities could be hit by a “wave of cuts” to bus services with routes axed and fares increased to pay for cuts of more than £12 million to the industry, campaigners say.  Colin Howden, director of transport alliance Transform Scotland, said a wave of cutbacks followed budget cuts in England and the Scottish Government’s funding outlined in last week’s budget may have similar results.  Mr Howden said “the impact would be most severe for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, young people and those in rural areas”. (Herald page 1, P&J page 8)

Education

Legal challenge: The decision by a leading Scottish University to close a culture and language course is to be reviewed after claims it was unlawful.  The next meeting of Glasgow University’s ruling court is to hear concerns from two of the institution’s academics that moves to shut the Slavonic Studies course run counter to legislation on higher education.  (Herald page 10)

Enterprise: Sir Brian Souter has called on Scottish schools to do more to foster new ideas and encourage enterprise among young people in a bid to drive economic growth.  The chief executive of Stagecoach warned that too much emphasis is being placed on academic achievement and urgent action is needed to boost the employability of youngsters and improve their skills.  Mr Souter said that entrepreneurs were the “engine room” of the economy and creating private sector jobs was more important than ever at a time of shrinking public sector employment. (Herald page 7, Courier page 9)

Glasgow University: A new £14 million “self-enrolment” service launched this year at Glasgow University has left this year’s admissions system in chaos according to staff and students.  (Sunday Herald page 2&3)

Justice

Hate crime:  Scotland’s Jewish leaders have praised the Lord Advocate after a meeting to discuss how anti-semitic hate crimes will be dealt with under proposed new legislation. Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland met representatives of the Scottish Jewish community in Giffnock yesterday.  The senior law lord approached the group after the Scottish Government’s decision to draw up a new bill to combat sectarianism and religiously offensive behaviour. (Herald page 5)

Sectarian offenders:  Sectarian offenders jailed under new offensive behaviour at football laws are being rehabilitated in prisons as part of the Scottish Government’s bid to rid the game of religious hatred.  Ministers have backed the programme being run by the Iona Community, as it has been successfully piloted in Addiewell, Barlinnie, Kilmarnock, Glenochil and Greenock jails. (Scotland on Sunday page 6)

Health

Nursing staff:  Scotland’s nursing staff are “at breaking point”, with a survey showing they are suffering “plummeting” morale, financial worries and a complete collapse in job security.  The report by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said those working in Scotland’s NHS were under “immense pressure”.  Its employment survey followed figures from the Scottish Government last month that showed a “rapid acceleration” in the number of nursing posts being lost across NHS Scotland.  (The Scotsman page 1, Cary Cooper in The Scotsman, Herald page 1, Courier page 6, Sunday Times page 1, Daily Mail page 18, Daily Mirror page 1, Daily Record page 19)