Reform Scotland News: 14 November 2011


Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 November 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. 



George Osborne: Following claims by the chancellor George Osborne, that plans for an independence referendum were damaging the Scottish economy, Finance Secretary John Swinney accused him of ‘juvenile scaremongering’. The Chancellor reportedly said that major companies had told him that they were worried about investing in Scotland and that the prospect of an independence campaign is damaging the Scottish economy.  Alex Salmond has said conversely that major companies are investing in Scotland and that this is the reason for higher employment in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK. He added that Scotland’s economic problems have little to do with the independence referendum, and everything to do with George Osborne and Tory economic policies from London (The Herald, page 1. The Courier and Advertiser, page 9, Daily Mail, page 18, The Daily Telegraph, page 1, The Daily Express, page 9, The Sun, page 2, Daily Record, page 2).


New Italian PM: Economist Mario Monti has agreed to form a new government that will attempt to rescue Italy. This move came following claims by the former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, that the single currency has been built on a decade long myth that the Italian and German economies were the same.  There have been pledges of support for a Monti government, saying he has the moral authority and economic knowhow to reform Italy’s economy (The Herald, page 2. The Courier and Advertiser, page 15, the Press and Journal, page 12, The Scotsman, page 10).  George Osborne has made clear that the euro crisis will not be over until France too has answered doubts about its debts (Daily Mail, page 6, The Daily Telegraph, page 1)


Henry McLeish: Former First Minister Henry McLeish has warned that Unionist parties must come up with a more inspiring campaign to prevent Alex Salmond dominating the independence referendum debate.  He reportedly said that Alex Salmond is moving down a constitutional one-way street, but there is little in his path to prevent him.  Mr McLeish stressed the need to explore alternative options (The Herald, page 6).


North Sea oil and gas revenue: According to the former Conservative cabinet minister, Michael Portillo, the UK government should give Scotland an ‘appropriate’ share of North oil and gas revenue to preserve the Union; Mr Portillo reportedly said that the UK government should take control from SNP of the debate on Scotland’s future.  The former defence secretary called on the UK government to offer the SNP full fiscal autonomy, which would require the settlement of the division of oil and gas between England and Scotland and full authority for Scotland to raise its own taxes. He added that Scots would find this difficult to refuse, so maintaining the Union (The Scotsman, page 1)


Scottish Conservatives: The Scottish Conservatives are facing a new crisis as wealthy donors reportedly refuse to bankroll the party following the leadership contest.  Car park magnate John McGlynn, a major donor to the party, is reportedly withholding donations following the election of Ruth Davidson.  He also claimed that other wealthy business men might also do this. (Daily Mail, page 23, The Sunday Times, page 3, Scotland on Sunday, page 19)


Pension proposals: Finance Secretary John Swinney has made it clear that the Scottish government will not support planned changes to public sector pensions and the ‘extremely constrained timetable being pursued by Westminster’.  The refusal of the SNP government comes as trade unions are due to announce the results of industrial action ballots this week in response to the Government’s planned shake up of pensions.  A day of action on November 30 could result in more than two million workers going on strike (The Times, page 9, page 13)


Equal Opportunities: Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury is backing what critics call positive discrimination to break the stranglehold of white men at the top of the judiciary.  The senior judge wants to use a controversial new law to allow those appointing judges to favour women or ethnic minority candidates over white men where there are two otherwise equal applicants (The Times, page 1)


Cardinal O’Brien: According to the leader of the country’s Catholics, Scotland’s political leaders have failed Scotland over the past few weeks by trading personal insults rather than engaging in constructive debate.   Cardinal Keith O’Brien reportedly said that the behaviour of politicians is alienating voters, and could lead to a drop in standards of politeness and decorum, especially among the young (The Daily Telegraph, page 4, Scotland on Sunday, page 2)


Scotland and the euro:  Alex Salmond is under fresh pressure from Labour to share Scottish government legal advice on whether an independent Scotland would stay in the EU and be forced to join the euro.  The First Minister dismissed calls from Labour to issue the advice, citing the Ministerial Code as a reason for keeping it secret.  However, it has now emerged that the code does not allow for disclosure.  Publication could settle the growing row over the future of Scotland in the EU (The Sunday Herald, page 10)



Economy slowdown: According to the latest Bank of Scotland PMI survey, the economy in Scotland is struggling to maintain growth momentum amid signs of a slowdown, particularly in Scotland’s private sector economy (The Herald, page 1).  Figures show that employment in the private sector fell for a third month running in October, its lowest level for ten months.   (Daily Mail, page 18)


UK growth plan: Plans for a £50 billion emergency cash injection to boost UK growth have been drawn up as ministers prepare for a spate of dire economic news.  The Bank of England tomorrow have plans to slash Britain’s growth prospects to just 1% for this year and next year, down from 1.5% just three months ago.  Youth unemployment is also expected to hit one million for the first time since records began more than 20 years ago.  Fresh details have emerged of Coalition infighting over plans to get the economy moving, with Business Secretary Vince Cable ruling out Tory proposals to freeze benefits (Daily Mail, page 2).  Vince Cable further courted controversy yesterday by having sympathy with the four-week protest at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, suggesting that income and equality was behind the public’s anger (Daily Express, page 4)


Independent Scottish economy: A leading economist, David Bell, from the University of Stirling, has warned that an independent Scotland would have a dangerously imbalanced economy.  He said that the country’s manufacturing base had been severely eroded and that too little was spent on research and development.  He added that Scotland has had a bigger gap between its exports and imports than most other leading nations and that decline in manufacturing must be reversed if Scotland were to become independent (The Sunday Times, page 9)



M74 eases congestion: Traffic levels have considerably reduced on a congested section of the M8 in Glasgow following the completion of the M74 in the summer, but the number of cars travelling along other parts of the motorway network has also increased.  Environmental groups have raised concerns over the overall negative impact of the new motorway by encouraging people to drive (The Herald, page 8)


Terror fears: Home Secretary Theresa May faces fresh pressure over relaxed border controls at Scottish airports.  Thousands of passengers have reportedly passed through Scottish airports without adequate security and passport checks between July and October.  The revelations came after claims amid growing anger over claims that checks on non Europeans were relaxed in other parts of the country without ministerial approval (Daily Express, page 2, The Sun, page 14, The Sunday Times, page 1)



Language teaching: The number of classroom assistants employed to help schoolchildren learn a foreign language has dropped by 80% in the past six years. The huge decline, thought to be due to cutbacks, has resulted in a campaign being launched by the cultural relations body British Council Scotland (The Herald, page 9, The Advertiser and Courier, page 9, The Press and Journal, page 17, The Scotsman, page 2).  According to experts, Scotland could miss out on international investment by not supporting the development in foreign languages (The Times, page 4)


University Tuition Fees: The Liberal Democrats have claimed that universities who charge English and Welsh students the maximum £9,000 a year to study would wall foul of a test set up by the UK Government to ensure fair access to education.  The estimated average fee of all Scottish universities for students from the rest of the UK is £6,841.  Universities in England and Wales, however, who want to charge more than £6,000 must apply to the Office for Fair Access, outlining how they are widening participation and encouraging students from under-privileged backgrounds. Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader has called for the Scottish government to put a similar fair access policy in place (The Courier and Advertiser, page 9).


Teacher strike: Teachers’ representatives have called for a ballot on industrial action if the Scottish government move to change their daily hours and working conditions.  Member of the Educational Institute of Scotland have warned that they would strike if controversial plans outlined in the McCormac Review were brought into force.  Teachers across Scotland are already taking part in a pension strike on November 30 and the McCormac report raises yet further prospects of further strikes (The Sunday Herald, page 7, Scotland on Sunday, page 1)



Police deployment: Hundreds of civilian police posts have been axed and officers may not be patrolling the streets and instead may be forced behind desks to cope with staff cuts.  Scotland’s police chiefs have spent over £34 million on overtime payments to cope with office jobs vacated by civilian staff. Following the release of Reform Scotland figures, Tory justice spokesman David McLetchie has said that this matter is of concern and that priority must be given to putting police officers on the streets.  The Scottish government aim to merge the country’s eight police forces into one, reportedly saving an estimated £1.7billion over 15 years and ensuring that resources are focused on the frontline (Daily Mail, page 10).



Cancer drug discovery: Scientists have discovered a new approach to curing cancer, which they believe offers new hope to patients with aggressive and deadly tumours.  The new drug works in a completely new way, by altering the structure of a cancer growth protein.  Researchers hope the compound will be effective against a wide range of the fastest-growing and most dangerous cancer (The Herald, page 4)


Scotland’s drugs bill: The cost of Scotland’s chronic drug problem is the highest of any nation in the world, with the problem costing £3.5 billion a year out of the economy.  An international UN report on the financial impact of drug abuse has shown that it eats up 1.9% of the Scotland’s GDP.  Compared to countries across the world, Scotland topped the list when it came to criminal justice, the cost to the NHS and social care.  The Scottish Government is being called upon by campaigners to rethink its drugs strategy (Daily Mail, page 29)


Botulism scare: A batch of Lloyd Grossman korma sauces have been pulled off supermarket shelves amid a botulism scare.  Health bosses have ordered the recall after two people who ate the curry contracted the potentially deadly illness (the Press and Journal, page 4, The Scotsman, page 1, Daily Mail, page 5)


Throat cancer cause: The UK reportedly has more cases of throat cancer than anywhere else in Europe, and experts blame alcohol and obesity for this.  According to a league table of cancer rates, 6.4 out of 100,000 people develop oesophageal cancer in the UK every year; this is almost double the European average (Daily Express, page 4)