Reform Scotland News: 08.11.2011

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. 



Lord Gould: Labour peer Philip Gould, who was a key adviser to Tony Blair, died on Sunday night from cancer aged 61. (Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 6, The Times page 11, Alastair Campbell in The Guardian page 1, The Financial Times page 2, Daily Mirror page 21, The Sun page 12).


Independence referendum: It is reported that the Labour party is considering backing any moves by the UK coalition to stage an independence referendum.  It comes as David Cameron challenged Alex Salmond to set the timetable for the Scottish Government’s referendum following the Prime Minister’s meeting with new Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson yesterday. After the meeting the Prime Minister also urged the three Unionist parties in Scotland to rally round the Scotland Bill which would give more powers to Holyrood as an alternative to Scottish independence. (Scotsman page 6, Joan McAlpine  in the Scotsman, David Maddox in the Scotsman, The Times page 11, The Courier page 8, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 6, The Press and Journal page 9,The Herald page 6, The Sun page 4).


SNP referendum could be illegal: Scottish QC, Aidan O’Neill, has said that the SNP’s planned referendum has a ‘high chance’ of being struck down by the courts as only Westminster has the authority to hold a vote on the break up of Britain. Mr O’Neill said that it would be up to the UK Supreme Court to decide on the matter but that he would not rule out the SNP crying foul for political gain if his plans were declared unlawful. (The Daily Telegraph page 1)


Lamont launches leadership campaign: At the launch of her campaign, Scottish Labour leadership contender Johann Lamont said that countenancing an independent Scotland was not defeatist but a recognition that voters had the right to choose. She did, however, make it clear that it was Labour’s job to convince the Scottish people of the benefits of remaining within the UK. Lamont also used her launch to present herself as the ‘change’ candidate and called for unity within the party. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 11, The Courier page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 2, Daily Record page 2).


Million pound donation to SNP: The SNP is on course to gain a huge boost in funding for their independence campaign after reports suggested they are expected to receive a seven figure sum from the winners of the £161 million Euromillion fortune. However it is unclear whether the SNP would be allowed to mobilise the entire sum as the Unionist Parties have called for limits on funding for referendum campaigns. (The Times page 15).



Youth unemployment: The Trades Union Congress has warned that the number of 16 and 17-year-olds out of work will soon hit one million across the UK.  Since 2007 16 Scottish local authorities have seen an increase of 100 per cent or more of the number of unemployed 18 to 24-year-olds. (Scotsman page 2).


Renewable jobs: Scots are likely to miss out on the majority of top jobs in the renewable energy sector unless action is taken to address the current skills shortage according to figures produced by Taylor Hopkinson Associates, a recruitment consultant specialising in green energy. (Scotsman page 1, Robert Norris in the Scotsman)


Housing market: A report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has suggested that the Scottish property market has gone into early hibernation with sellers shying away from putting their homes on the market. Chartered surveyors in Scotland suggested the uncertainty over the eurozone debt crisis had affected confidence in the UK restricting mortgage availability and making sellers nervous. (Scotsman page  21, The Herald page 5)


115,00 to lose incapacity benefit: A report published today by Sheffield Hallam University says that 115,000 people in Scotland who currently claim benefits will lose their incapacity benefit with 65,000 being pushed out of the benefit system entirely. The report attributes these changes to the Westminster reforms of the welfare system which will apply more thorough checks of eligibility. The report adds that a further 35,000 people will claim Job Seekers Allowance and that the older industrial areas of Scotland, the north of England and Wales will be the hardest hit. (The Herald page 1, Daily Mail page 2, The Sun page 2)


SNP energy claims: The SNP’s renewable energy plans have come under attack by Professor Ian M Arbon of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Professor Arbon accused the Scottish Parliament of failing to set out credible plans to meet their target and that the SNPs forecasts of how much energy would be generated were hard to believe when one looked at the experience of other countries. The Professor also urged ministers to publish figures which show that 60 per cent of Scotland’s electricity could be provided from projects which are already under way. (The Herald page 5)


300 jobs at risk: The collapse of the window manufacturers, AC Yule, has left 300 Scottish jobs at risk. (The Herald page 5)



Teachers’ pay review: The NASUWT, which represents 7,000 teachers in Scotland, has claimed that implementing the recommendations made by Professor Gerry McCormac in his review into pay and conditions would “undermine” the focus on teaching and learning.  The review, which was published in September, concluded that current arrangements were “overly prescriptive and inherently inflexible”. (Scotsman page 11, Hugh Reilly in the Scotsman)


SNP University fee policy ‘racist’: Labour MP for Dundee West, Jim McGovern, has said that the SNP’s policy of providing Scottish and EU students with a free university education whilst charging the highest fees in the UK for English students, ‘smacks of racism.’ He refused to retract his statement after the Nationalists described them as ‘disgraceful slurs’ saying that he believed the SNP was an anti-England organisation. (The Daily Telegraph page 10)



Illegal immigrants: Home secretary Theresa May yesterday told the House of Commons that it will never be known how many illegal immigrants entered the UK following unauthorised decisions by senior officials at the UK Border Agency to relax checks at the UK’s ports. Although May denies any knowledge of the ‘unauthorised’ relaxation of checks, she admits she did secretly order a relaxation of controls on hundreds of thousands of passengers at British ports and airports. Labour have criticised her of giving the ‘green light’ to more lax checks as a result of the Government cuts which have left the UK border controls understaffed. (Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 6, The Times page 1, The Courier page 10, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Guardian page 1, The Financial Times page 3, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 8, The Press and Journal page 4)



Case backlog: Former Sheriff, Douglas Cusine, has criticised Scotland’s justice system saying that a backlog in trials could be allowing the guilty to walk free. The now retired sheriff said that some cases were coming to court three years after the alleged offence causing witnesses to be unable to provide accurate evidence needed for conviction. (The Herald page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 10, Daily Record page 10)




High-speed rail: In a report by the House of Commons’ transport select committee published today, MPs reportedly suggest that if the Scottish Government wants work on a high-speed rail link to Scotland to start early it should do the preparatory work itself.  The reports states “Despite pleas from some in Scotland and the north of England to build southwards from the north, it seems clear that construction should start with the London–West Midlands phase, as this is where capacity needs are greatest….There is no reason, in principle, however, why the Scottish Government should not start preparatory work on a Scottish high-speed line, if it so wishes.”  (Scotsman page 16)



Fat patients risking cancer: A research team from Dundee University has warned that doctors and other healthcare workers are failing to give patients enough crucial information about the links between obesity and cancer.  (Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 8)


Local Authority

Second council cuts pre-school funding: East Renfrewshire Council has announced that due to budget constraints it will impose funding cuts on free places in private and volunteer-run nurseries. It is thought that at least 70 children aged three and four will lose out on pre-school education funding as a result. (The Herald page 7)