Reform Scotland News: 22.11.2011


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. 



Independence referendum: Former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish has commented that the idea that the UK government takes control of the referendum is “insulting and contemptuous”.  His comments come as it emerged that the SNP are to receive a donation of £1m from the SNP supporting couple who won £161million in the Euromillions lottery. Meanwhile all main political parties are being urged to stand by their promise to support a reform in party funding as they prepare to reject the reform proposals from an independent commission. (Scotsman page 6, David Maddox in the Scotsman, The Herald page 6, The Times page 3, The Guardian page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 10, The Courier page 7, The Press and Journal page 10, Daily Express page 2)


Independence poll: A poll by Progressive Scottish Opinion has suggested that 53 per cent of Scots are against independence, 28 per cent in favour and 17 per cent were unsure. (Scotsman page 6)


Labour leadership: More than 300,000 ballot papers are being sent out to Labour party members, trade unions and affiliates in the Scottish Labour leadership contest. (Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 6)


Nuclear power: Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow and candidate for the Labour Leadership, has urged the party to support the construction of more nuclear power stations in Scotland arguing that it is time the party realised that it is the only way to ensure the future energy gap is filled. (The Times page 13)


Wind farm: A £4.5billion project to create a 300-turbine wind farm 13 miles off the coast of Caithness has been proposed by Moray Offshore Renewables Ltd, a joint venture involving a number of foreign companies. The wind farm would cover about 114sq miles and could produce about the same amount of energy as a conventional power station.  An application is expected to be submitted to Marine Scotland in the summer. It is thought that the project would employ around 1,400 people for the construction and would lead to almost 300 sustained jobs in the region. (Scotsman page 1, Johanna Yates in the Scotsman, The Herald page 8, The Press and Journal page 1)


Mail on Sunday accused of hacking: The actor Hugh Grant has accused the Mail on Sunday of hacking his voicemail messages in 2007. Speaking at the Leveson Inquiry yesterday Grant said that a story which appeared in the newspaper in 2007 regarding his alleged relationship with a movie studio executive could only have been found out through his voicemail messages. The paper has released a statement “utterly refuting” Grant’s claims. (The Herald page 2, The Times page 3, The Guardian page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 7, Mail on Sunday page 11, The Press and Journal page 5, Daily Mirror page 6, The Sun page 10, Daily Record page 6)


Welfare Bill: Inclusion Scotland, an organisation which campaigns for the rights of people with disabilities has urged the Scottish Parliament to oppose the Welfare Bill which it says will cost more than £500million and will lead to a ‘staggering’ loss of income for disabled people in Scotland. Inclusion Scotland has also argued that Scotland will be disproportionately affected by the Bill because of higher rates of impairment due to the presence of more working class areas. (The Herald page 6)



Northern Rock: The Labour Party has claimed that the UK government could have delayed the sale of Northern Rock in order to achieve a better deal for the taxpayer.  The bank has been sold to Virgin Money for £747million, leaving taxpayers with a £400m loss. (Scotsman page 2)


Senior executives’ pay: The pay of the UK’s top senior executives has reportedly increased by more than 4,000 per cent over the past 30 years according to a year-long inquiry by the High Pay Commission. It also pointed out that in the last year executive pay in the FTSE-100 companies rose by an average 49% whereas ordinary workers’ pay rose by just 2.7%. The Business Secretary Vince Cable has promised to take action following the report’s findings. (Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 1, The Times page 13, The Guardian page 1, The Financial Times page 4, The Courier page 11)


Business loans: The Prime Minister told members of the CBI yesterday that a credit-easing scheme would be included in the Chancellor’s autumn statement next week to help reduce the cost of loans to small and medium-sized businesses. (Scotsman page 8)


UK missing debt target: David Cameron hinted yesterday at the CBI conference that the Coalition Government would miss its targets to cut the UK’s debt. This news comes alongside a Populus poll for The Times which showed that optimism in the economy has suffered a drop as 79% of voters believe the country will fare ‘badly’ over the coming year. (The Times page 8, The Guardian page 1, The Financial Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 2, The Sun page 2)


Retail sales: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on the problems facing Scotland’s retail industry.


SNP cuts: Labour has accused the SNP of introducing spending cutbacks twice as quickly as the Coalition Government. The figures released by Labour reveal that although the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, reduced capital budgets by 11%, Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney made cuts of 21%. John Swinney defended the SNP and his actions saying that the cuts were dependant on the levels of capital spending which are set by the UK Government. (Daily Express page 2)



Teaching union to strike: Scotland’s second largest teaching union, The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) has voted in favour of industrial action with 80% backing the move. The SSTA will join over two million public sector workers on November 30 and will be the first strike by Scottish teachers since the 1980s. (The Herald page 4, Daily Mail page 26, The Courier page 11)


McCormac report: Professor Gerry McCormac has warned that Scottish schools could fall behind unless the controversial proposals in his report on teachers’ pay and conditions are implemented.  The report recommends an end to the focus on class sizes, the introduction of “external experts” to aid teachers and scrapping the system of chartered teachers. (Scotsman page 15)


Deprived children missing out: A group of 12 anti poverty ambassadors have launched a campaign backed by Save the Children called ‘Get In’ which aims to tackle poverty by calling for discounts on activities, services and transport so that poorer young people can afford to be more involved in leisure activities. The move follows research by the campaign which has found that poorer children in Scotland are being excluded from activities due to cost, which their wealthier peers take for granted. (The Herald page 3)



Cancer Research: Research centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh will today, alongside centres in Cambridge, Leeds, Manchester and Cardiff, begin research into genetic tests to match cancers with the most appropriate treatments, involving 9000 patients. Cancer research UK, AstraZeneca and Pfizer are funding the £5.5million programme which it is hoped will lead to the development of more personalised cancer treatments. (The Times page 14)



Road safety: A survey by the road safety charity Brake has revealed that 57% of 17-24 year olds in Scotland have been endangered by their friend’s driving due to drink-driving or inexperienced peers speeding. (The Herald page 7)


ScotRail strike: The trade union representing around 1,000 ScotRail drivers, Aslef, is expected to ballot for industrial action as a result of disputes over train driver shortages which has lead to added work pressure. (The Herald page 1)


Forth Crossing: The law firm which drew up the contract for the Edinburgh tram project, DLA Piper, has been given £1.9million to carry out legal work for the replacement bridge. The news comes despite the fact that Edinburgh Council is considering legal action against DLA Piper and other legal firms for the financial losses it has incurred during the adjudication process and calls on the Scottish Government to prevent similar mistakes being made with the £1.6million crossing project. (The Herald page 4)