Reform Scotland News: 15 December 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 labour leadership: The Scottish Labour leadership ballot closed yesterday. Three candidates have put themselves forward to succeed Iain Gray – Johann Lamont MSP, Ken Macintosh MSP and Tom Harris MP. (Scotsman page 2)


Russian warship: The appearance of the Russian warship, anchored on the edge of Moray Firth, sparked debate on defence cuts and reportedly caused a row between the UK and Scottish government on release of information. The war ship has been accused of dumping waste off the Scottish coast last night, as it sought shelter from a storm. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 7, Press & Journal e page 1, Daily Record page 21, Daily Mail page 19)


Green targets: Auditor General for Scotland, Robert Black, told Holyrood’s audit committee that, if Scotland intended to meet its target for carbon emissions, measures previously ruled out would have to be considered. Road pricing and parking schemes were mentioned. The SNP has so far abolished tolls and parking charges at publicly owned hospitals, while plans to introduce congestion charges in Edinburgh was rejected by its residents. (Scotsman page 5, Courier page 6, Daily Mail page 8)


Same-sex marriages: A letter signed by more than 70 of Scotland’s evangelical churches will be handed over to St Andrew’s House today opposing same-sex marriages. The event is to be marked by a rally. (Scotsman page 9, Press & Journal page 7, Courier page 13)


Christine Grahame: SNP MSP Christine Grahame has been censured by parliamentary authorities after she was found to have been misused Holyrood resources during her election campaign. Last night the Crown Office said it was considering whether any actions should be taken against the MSP who is also convener of Holyrood’s Justice Committee following an investigation by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body. (Herald page 1, Daily Mail page 31)



Sir Fred Goodwin: Sir Fred Goodwin could face a criminal prosecution over his management of RBS at the time of its failure in 2008, following a damning report published by the Financial Service Authority. (Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2)


Unemployment soars: Scotland’s unemployment rate is no longer lower than the rest of the UK’s figures. Rising from a 7.5 to  8.5% in the last three months, the number exceeds the UK average of 8.3%.   Alex Salmond, who has come heavily under criticism at the release of these figures, has called for a UK-wide job summit with the finance secretary John Swinney. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, Press & Journal page 19,  Courier page 11, Daily Telegraph page 16, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, Daly Mirror page 7,Daily Mail page 2, Times page 11)


Bill Jamieson in The Scotsman on the criticism facing Alex Salmond.



School performance:  The gap between Scotland’s best and worst-performing schools show no sign of closing according to newly-published figures. The figures once again showed the disparities between the results achieved in more affluent areas , compared to those in less well-off parts of the country. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 5, Press & Courier page 1, Courier page 9, Daily Mail page 4)



Anti-sectarianism bill: The SNP used its majority to pass its controversial anti-sectarianism bill through Parliament yesterday. Football fans wearing T-shirts printed with criticism were banned from the Scottish Parliament’s public gallery. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Ian Macwirther in the Herald, Press & Journal page 7, Courier page 12, Daily Telegraph page 2, Sun page 6, Daily Record page 1, Daily Express page 15, Daily Mail page 28, Times page 21)


Shirley McKie case: Fingerprint evidence should be treated as opinion-based rather than fact in Scottish courts, a comprehensive enquiry into the long-running Shirley McKie case has ruled. The report, which is likely to have wide repercussions, found that forensic examiners are “ill-equipped” to reason their conclusions, as they are used to regarding them as “a matter of certainty”. The £4.75m enquiry was set up to examine what steps were taken to identify and verify the prints involved in the  case against Ms McKie, who was accused of perjury when she insisted the prints found did not belong to her. An official apology to Ms McKie was released. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 11, Press & journal page 11, Courier page 11, daily Record page 28, Daily Express page 10, Daily Mail page 19, Times page 24)


Homicide rate: Scotland’s homicide rate soared by nearly a fifth over the past year, newly released government figures have revealed. (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 4, Press & Journal page 7, Scottish Daily Mail page 1)



NHS: Audit Scotland said that all health bodies met their financial targets in 2010-2011, but ten out of 14 territorial NHS boards reported recurring deficits. Increasing demand for services, costs and reduced staffing members are threatening its operation. Audit Scotland warned of growing pressure on services to come as the NHS tries to tackle persisting problems such as lower life expectancy, health inequalities, smoking, obesity and drug and alcohol misuse. (Scotsman page 16, Daily record page 10, Daily Mail page 17)


Obesity and alcohol: Obesity, poor diet and excessive alcohol consumption is causing “unacceptable levels of ill health” in Scotland, the country’s Chief Medical Officer has warned. This was a comment on the recently released annual report, which did however show decline in mortality rates for the big three killers: cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 12, Courier page 3, Sun page 4, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mirror page 2, Magnus Linklater in The Times)



A83: A campaign has been launched by Argyll Frist Group of independent councillors on Argyll and Bute Council, demanding urgent action to improve the main road from Argyll into central Scotland. (Herald page 3)