Reform Scotland News: 4 October 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. 



Scottish Tory leadership contest: There was a hustings of the four contenders to replace Annabel Goldie as leader of the Scottish Conservative party at the UK party’s conference in Manchester yesterday.  Murdo Fraser said the party faced a “slow death” unless it was scrapped and rebuilt, with opponents rejecting this proposal.   The contest is reportedly becoming more hostile following David Mundell’s comments that he would not stand under the banner of a new party if Murdo Fraser won the election. Fellow contender Ruth Davidson has reportedly warned David Cameron that he needs to spend more time in Scotland if the party is to survive. (Scotsman page 8, Alan Trench in the Scotsman, David Maddox in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Times page 14, Sun page 2, Express page 4, Mail page 11, Courier page 11, P&J page 10, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)


Cameron on Salmond: David Cameron last night called Alex Salmond a “big feartie” over his refusal to hold the referendum on independence sooner rather than later. (Herald page 1, Times page 1, Record page 2, Telegraph page 1)


Independence: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on the strategy the SNP must adopt if they are to get as close to independence as they can.


Scotland Bill: Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, has described the proposed Scotland Bill as “virtually meaningless” because it ignores the areas where devolution clashes with UK policy such as health and care, benefits and employability. (Scotsman page 2, John Dickie in the Scotsman)


Scottish Labour: Scottish Labour MP Ian Davidson has condemned the party’s clearout of “dead wood” councillors in Glasgow as an appalling way to treat hard-working councillors.  The comments come as almost half of Labour’s 47 councillors in Glasgow face de-selection. (Herald page 2)



Osborne’s speech: In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester George Osborne announced plans to inject billions of pounds into the economy to support small business to help prevent a second credit crunch. He unveiled the new mechanism of “credit easing” amid fears that bank lending could dry up again following the eurozone crisis. He also suggested that he was prepared to tear up the Government’s carbon emissions targets to ease the burdens on businesses. (Herald page 6, Times page 13, Rachel Sylvester in the Times, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Express page 5, Mirror page 14, Mail page 10, Alex Brummer in the Mail, Guardian page 1, George Monbiot in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, Courier page 11, P&J page 10, Telegraph page 6, FT page 1)


Additional spending: The Scottish Government is expected to get an additional £67.5million from the Treasury next year as a Barnet consequential of the UK government paying for a council tax freeze in England.  Downing Street sources have reportedly pointed out that this is enough to pay for the council tax freeze in Scotland. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6)


House prices in rural Scotland: Average house prices in rural Scotland have doubled in value over the past ten years according to the latest annual Bank of Scotland Rural Housing Review. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 4)


Construction industry: According to a report by the Federation of Master Builders nearly half of Scotland’s building firms have warned that conditions in the construction industry are in decline. 46% of small construction companies reported experiencing deteriorating conditions during the summer.  The survey also indicated that companies in Scotland were more concerned about the state of their industry than their counterparts in England or Wales. (Mail page 2)


Plastic bag tax: Green MSP Alison Johnstone has lodged a motion at Holyrood urging the Scottish Government to follow the example of the Welsh Assembly and introduce a plastic bag tax in Scotland. (P&J page 8)



Lockerbie bomber:  In his first public statement in more than two years convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi has admitted that he did play a role in the attack on Pan Am flight 103 which claimed 270 lives.  However, he has argued that the part he played was greatly exaggerated by the West and he hopes that the truth of the events will be made clear soon.  He also said that he only had a few months left to live at best.  (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 3, Sun page 25, Record page 8, Express page 7, Mirror page 12, Mail page 8, Guardian page 14, Courier page 13, P&J page 9, Telegraph page 18)



University fees: Universities Scotland has claimed that the introduction of tuition fees in Scotland for students from the rest of the UK will help close the funding gap between higher education north and south of the border along with the additional £135.5million per year from the Scottish Government.  The University of the Highlands and Islands became the last Scottish university to announce its fees from 2012 yesterday which will see students from the rest of the UK pay £7,500 a year. (Scotsman page 20, Times page 11, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Express page 15, Courier page 8, P&J page 1, Telegraph page 2)



Organ donations: According to research published in the British Medical Journal the number of organ donors registered in Scotland increased from less than 1% of the population in 1994 to 34% in 2009.  However that number of organs annually donated fell over the same period. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 8)


Life expectancy: According to Dr Margaret Sommerville, NHS Highland’s director of public health, there is a 14-year gap in life expectancy between the richest and poorest inhabitants of Inverness. (Scotsman page 18, P&J page 1)