Reform Scotland News: 25/10/2011


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. 



Europe: The motion being debated in the House of Commons last night to hold a referendum on the UK’s continued membership of the EU was defeated by 483 votes to 111, with the leadership of all three main parties rejecting the proposal.  However, about 80 Tory MPs backed the motion representing the largest Conservative rebellion during this parliament and this biggest ever whilst the party was in office. The rebellion saw two Conservative MPs, Adam Holloway and Stewart Jackson, both parliamentary private secretaries, leave their positions. Despite the reported damage done to the Prime Minister’s reputation and position by the rebellion David Cameron has said he has ‘no regrets’ over triggering the rebellion. Meanwhile according to a Guardian/ICM poll 70% of voters want a vote on Britain’s EU membership.  The poll also reveals that 49% would vote to leave the EU while only 40% wish to remain. (Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 1, 4 and 5, Mary Riddell in the Daily Telegraph, The Times page 8, The Guardian page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, The Sun page 1, The Daily Express page 1, The Press and Journal page 5, The Courier page 9, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 7, Financial Times page 1).


Cost of independence: The UK government released figures yesterday suggesting Scotland had run up a deficit of £41billion in recent decades.  However the SNP highlighted that Scotland had faired proportionately better than the UK as a whole which had run up a debt of £715billion over the same period.  (Scotsman page 1, John McLaren in the Scotsman, The Herald page 6, The Times page 5, Scottish Daily Mail page 4, The Daily Express page 2, The Courier page 11.)


Cost of Scottish EU membership: UK Government lawyers in research thought to have been commissioned by UK ministers have revealed that an independent Scotland would have to apply for EU membership which could take up to three years and cost the taxpayer billions of pounds in lost funding from Brussels. This assertion challenges the claim made by the SNP that an independent Scotland would automatically become an EU member. It is also reported that the Government in London could veto Scotland’s membership application if, following a yes vote in an independence referendum, relations sour. It is also suggested that Scotland would be expected to adopt the euro which contradicts Alex Salmond’s claim last weekend that the Scottish people would be able to decide their own currency if independent. (The Herald page 1).


SNP trade trip: Alex Salmond has come under attack from fellow MSPs due to his plans to take a trip to the Middle East, including Qatar, which lobbied for Abdelbasset Ali Mohad al Megrahi’s release, this week to promote Scottish business. The criticism comes as part of a continuing row over the release of the man convicted over the Lockerbie bombing. Mr Salmond has defended his trip saying that the Middle East offers excellent opportunities for Scottish businesses. (The Herald page 6, The Daily Telegraph page 12, Scottish Daily Mail page 2, The Daily Express page 2)


Calls for definitive separation vote: Labour leadership candidate Tom Harris MP will today suggest that the Scottish Government’s referendum for independence must be legally bound to follow Canadian-style rules by asking an unambiguous question. The Liberal Democrats have questioned what would happen if both questions; one for absolute independence and the other to remain within the Union but gain tax powers, received yes answers despite the contradiction. Alex Salmond has responded by saying that if the first question attracted 50% support he would take this as a mandate for separation even if more people voted for the second option. (The Herald page 6, The Daily Telegraph page 6, The Times page 1, Daily Record page 6).


Independence referendum: Peter Jones and Joan McAlpine in the Scotsman comment on the SNP’s strategy to come up with a second question for a middle option for the independence referendum. Philip Stephens in the Financial Times comments on Britain sleepwalking toward a break-up.



Gas supplies: The UK reportedly has only two weeks of gas storage in case of an emergency, compared with 69 days in Germany, 66 days in the USA and 87 days in France.  MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee have called on the UK government to increase our storage capacity. The committee has commented that the budget decision in March has left the UK among the most ‘unstable oil and gas provinces in the world.’ (Scotsman page 12, The Press and Journal page 10).


Warning to Scottish recovery: The global slowdown is threatening Scotland’s ‘already weak recovery’ according to Donald MacRae, chief economist at Lloyds Banking Group Scotland. (The Herald page 25).


Oil brings boom in house prices: In the last decade property prices in the north-east have increased dramatically. Aberdeen is now the second most expensive city in Scotland behind Edinburgh with commentators pointing to the oil industry in influencing the rise. (The Press and Journal page 7).



University: The number of Scots applying to study at Scottish universities has fallen by 10 per cent over the past year. Scottish Universities have also seen a decline in applicants from other parts of the UK.(Scotsman page 1, Alastair Sim in the Scotsman, The Herald page 5, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 17, The Guardian page 7, Scottish Daily Mail page 17).


Further Education: Scotland’s colleges will today warn that due to budget cuts 20,000 student places could be lost and that jobs would be axed on a par with last year’s 1000 lost jobs in the sector. (The Herald page 8).



Justice delays:  A submission to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee from the Prosecutors-Fiscal Society (PFS) has led to fears that a backlog of cases which are waiting to be dealt with by prosecutors could lead to some criminals walking free. In the past six months the number of unprocessed criminal cases within the Court Office has increased from 7000 to 14,000. Cutbacks and staff redundancies within the court system are being blamed for the problem. The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have however commented that this situation will not affect cases subject to time bar. (The Herald page 1).



Wind turbines: A map of wind farms in Scotland has provoked an angry reaction from campaigners against wind farms who claim that the map shows the ‘blanketing’ of some of Scotland’s most iconic and beautiful countryside including the Highlands, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. There are more than 200 wind farms which have been built or are under construction and another 97 are planned according to the latest official data. (The Times page 11, The Press and Journal page 1).

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