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Reform Scotland News: 23/11/11

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. 

 Politics

Media hacking: Steve Coogan has stated to the Levenson Inquiry into press standards that newspapers act like the ‘mafia’. Coogan also claimed that stars are too scared to testify for fear of a backlash. Coogan has stated that Andy Coulson secretly listened in to a conversation he had with a reporter from News of the World where he was pressured into revealing personal information. The Levenson inquiry also heard from James and Margaret Watson, the parents of a boy who took his own life following the publication of derogatory articles about his sister who had been murdered. The Watsons called for a change in libel law so that newspapers could be sued for defaming dead people. (Scotsman pages 1, 6 & 7, Herald page 4, Sun page 10, Guardian page 10, Daily Express page 5, Daily Mail page 10, Financial Times page 4, Courier page 11, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Telegraph page 4, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mirror page 15, Times page 1 & 6)

Labour leadership: All three Labour leadership contenders have made remarks about challenging the SNP. Tom Harris commented to supporters that Alex Salmond ‘is not nearly as scary as he thinks’, as he attempted to convince them that he was the right person to challenge the First Minister.  Ken Macintosh argued that politics were more important than personalities in challenging the SNP and Johann Lamont criticised the possible inclusion of a ‘devo-max’ option in any referendum on independence. (Scotsman page 2)

Coalition challenge SNP: Danny Alexander last night criticised the SNP and claimed that their refusal to confirm a date for the referendum on Scottish independence was causing ‘a self-inflicted wound’ on the economies of both Scotland and the UK as whole. (Herald page 1 and 6, Daily Express page 2, Courier page 10, Press and Journal page 8, Daily Record page 2)

Independence Referendum: The Scottish Parliament could be given the powers from Westminster to legally run an independence referendum if they agreed to hold the poll within a fixed time period. Labour shadow ministers are considering using a provision in the Scotland Act which allows ‘powers normally reserved for Westminster to be given to Holyrood for a narrowly focussed issue that can also have a limited time cause.’ Such a move would need to be approved by the Scottish Parliament but could put pressure on the SNP to hold the referendum sooner than is currently expected. (Scotsman page 8, Times page 19)

Economy

Economic future concerns: A financial risk poll conducted by the Bank of England has shown a drop in confidence in the financial situation. The survey found that 90% of financial firms think that ‘the chance of a high impact event happening in the next year’ has increased in the last six months, the highest rate of concern since 2008. Some of the possible events include the collapse of the euro or a credit down-rating for the UK. The Bank of England hopes that the information gathered will prove valuable in identifying risks to the UK financial system. (Scotsman page 1)

Employment law reform: Vince Cable has revealed plans for the ‘most radical reform package for decades’ which could see a change in redundancy time periods, claims making and employment tribunal procedure. The plans could protect micro firms and other employers and are believed by the government to be capable of saving up to £10million and benefiting employers by £40million. (Scotsman page 2, Guardian page 11, Daily Mail page 2,  Financial Times page 2, Daily Telegraph page 2, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 4)

Thomas Cooke: The holiday company yesterday confirmed that it is facing financial difficulties and cash-flow problems due to a decrease in the number of people booking breaks.  However, it has stated that customers should not be concerned as their money is safe and any holidays already booked would be protected. There are worries that Thomas Cooke could collapse in a similar manner to XL which went under in 2008. (Scotsman page 5, Sun page 11, Guardian page 3, Daily Express page 1, Daily Express page 5, Daily Mail page 20, Financial Times page 1, Daily Record page 6, Times page 5)

Coastguard Cuts: Concerns have been raised that the closure of two of Scotland’s coastguard stations would put the fishing and oil industries at risk. (Scotsman page 10, Daily Express page 15, Daily Mail page 9, Press and Journal page 7)

Renewable targets unrealistic: Engineering leaders have warned that the SNP’s flagship policies for targets for renewable energy are not realistic and have suggested that meeting some targets may take a decade longer than predicted. There are concerns that pushing for such targets could drive up oil and gas prices with a knock on impact on Scots consumers. (Herald page 5, Daily Express page 10, Daily Mail page 17, Courier page 11, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Education:

Edinburgh College merger: Edinburgh Telford College may merge with Stevenson and Jewel and Esk Colleges to create the country’s latest ‘super college’. Talks are currently ongoing as to how to provide the best opportunity for school leavers in Edinburgh. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 9)

Mass strike: 99% of schools are likely to shut down in Scotland next week as teachers take part in the first nationwide strike in 25 years. The 30th of November will see public sector workers taking part in what may be the largest strike for a considerable number of years. In addition patients in hospitals and other NHS users will be affected by the strikes as NHS staff are likely to join in the pensions walkout leading to a large number of operations and treatments to be cancelled. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 1, Daily Express page 7, Press and Journal page 9)

Local government

Allegations about the Trump Organisation: The ‘Tripping Up Trump Organisation’ has claimed that Donald Trump’s plans to build championship links in his estate at Menie discriminates against women, as they believe that there are a lack of facilities for women in the architectural plans. The group have urged the planning committee considering the plans to oppose them. Trump International has described the claims as ‘nonsense’. (Scotsman page 3)

Olympic Icon: Plans to spend £20000 erecting a giant Olympic logo on Edinburgh castle have been called into doubt as the city’s planning leader raised concerns that such a move would damage the image of the castle and have a negative impact upon tourism. The move had been supported by Historic Scotland but has seen opposition in the council. (Scotsman page 9)

Justice

Anti-sectarian legislation: MSPs at Holyrood yesterday passed a new package of measures relating to sectarianism which could be made law by January. The measures could see football fans arrested for singing ‘offensive or sectarian’ chants at football games and if convicted given sentences of up to five years in prison and life-time bans from football grounds. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication Scotland Bill passed in spite of wide-spread opposition from the other political parties who raised concerns about the impact of the bill upon freedom of expression and a lack of clarity of the two new offences created. The Bill has the support of the SNP majority and also police and prosecution chiefs. (Scotsman page 1 and Comment page 30, Herald page 6, Sun page 8 & 9, Guardian page 10, Daily Express page 2, Daily Telegraph page 6, Times page 26)

Health:

Ageing workforce of NHS: The NHS in Scotland is facing a problem as its midwifery staff are predominately made up of those aged over 50 years and are an aging population. This could lead to a ‘retirement bulge’ and a subsequent shortage of properly trained staff. The number of people undertaking midwifery training is also in decline. The Labour and Conservative parties have criticised SNP measure which included the closure of three midwifery training schools. (Scotsman page 12, Sun page 35, Guardian page 14)

Dalgety Bay Radiation: The Ministry of Defence has been instructed to devise a ‘credible, long term plan’ to deal with the radioactive pollution in Dalgety Bay within the next three months or the site will become the first designated a Radioactive Contaminated Land spot in Scotland. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 8, Sun page 41, Daily Mail page 19, Financial Time page 2, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 7, Daily Telegraph page 6, Daily Record page 10)

Unhealthy Youth diet: A UK wide poll for the British Heart Foundation has found that Scots children are more likely to eat 5 packets of crisps, sweets and juice a day than fruit and vegetables with 22% eating unhealthy snacks three or more times a day. Recent figures have shown that one third of Scots children ages 11-15 are obese. The organisation today launches its ‘Food4Thought’ campaign. (Herald page 3, Daily Express page 15, Courier page 2, Press and Journal page 9)

Paracetamol danger: A significant number of people are endangering their lives by unknowingly overdosing on paracetamol. 25% of those who are victims of ‘staggered overdoses’ have failed to understand that the amount of paracetamol they are taking could be fatal. (Guardian , Scotsman, Daily Express, Daily Mirror page 1)