Reform Scotland News: 06 January 2012



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 Conservative leader: The new Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson in her first major public speech has urged Scotland to reform by following the example of countries like Germany. She urged people, in particular, to rediscover the values and culture surrounding hard work and low debts. According to Ms Davidson, “decades of socialism” were to blame for the loss of enterprise and the capacity for effort in the work place. “The something for nothing culture”, she proclaimed, has now ended. While urging followers in Scotland to return to “the principles which made us great”, she also confirmed a policy over-haul to take place within the party (The Scotsman page 12, The Times page 8, The Herald page 6 and 16, The Courier page 9, Daily Express page 10, Scottish Daily Mail page 6, Scottish Daily Record, Daily Telegraph page 10)

Labour and spending: Jim Murphy, the shadow defence secretary, has urged the Labour party to reject “shallow populism” and accept “the reality of cuts” in order to build credibility. He said the party should outline where it would make savings rather than simply opposing all government spending cuts. He insisted that “there is a difference between populism and popularity” and insisted that credibility should be the ‘bridge’ which takes it to the latter (The Guardian page 1, The Telegraph, Daily Mail)

SNP rejects rating warnings: The Scottish Government has rejected the claims that it would struggle to maintain a triple-A credit rating if independent from the UK. The analysis, carried out by a leading fund manager, argued that poor relative growth and a bias towards larger nations were key factors. A government spokesman has insisted that Scotland would not only maintain the rating but that “Scotland was in a far stronger position than the UK in terms of fiscal policy”. (The Scotsman page 7 and 32, The Herald, Scottish Daily Record, Scottish Daily Mail page 8)

Abbott apology: Labour’s Diane Abbott was forced to deliver an apology yesterday after reportedly claiming “white people love to divide and rule”. The shadow Public Health Minister’s tweets have led to some accusing her of racism and received criticism from within and outside her party. She said at first that it had been taken out of context but then “apologised for any offence caused”. (The Scotsman page 14, The Guardian page 11, Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 7, Daily Telegraph page 9, Daily Mail, The Press and Journal, The Sun page 2)

Aid worker seized: A Scottish Red Cross doctor, Khalil Dale, was kidnapped by gunmen in Pakistan yesterday. He was dragged from his car as he returned home. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the incident which occurred in a region where attacks have occurred in the past. Just last week four health workers were also kidnapped in Pakistan’s poorest province Balochistan; which is currently seeing fighting amongst government forces, separatist militants, and pro-Taliban fighters (The Scotsman page 1, The Times page 5, The Guardian, The Herald page 1, Daily Express page 4, The Sun page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, Daily Record, The Wall Street Journal)



Boardroom earnings: 2012 has seen a cross-party trend which criticises rising executive pay. Amongst the complaints, business secretary Vince Cable this month has published the results of a consultation on executive pay. The increase in pay seen for the directors of British companies in recent years claimed to be out of touch both with company performance and a nation asked to accept austerity. (The Financial Times page 1 and 3)

Pressure on RBS chief: Royal Bank of Scotland’s chief executive Stephen Hester is under pressure to clarify his plans for its investment banking operation which could mean up to 5,000 jobs being lost. He was expected to publish a review ahead of the bank’s annual results next month but has come under increased pressure as the UK government announced in December that it would adopt the recommendations of the Independent Commission on Banking which would result in a separation of retail and investment banking operations. (The Scotsman 39 and 41, The Financial Times)



Cut induced stress: Scottish teachers are suffering from record stress levels in the workplace as result, union leaders argue, of continued council cuts and a new school curriculum. In the past year, payouts to teachers and lecturers suffering from the condition topped £650,000. This figure follows a reduction in the number of teachers by 4,000 since 2007. It is believed that larger class sizes and a greater work load could be at the heart of rising claimants. (The Scotsman page 6, The Times page 13, The Herald page 1)

Re-examining the science focus: An independent inquiry into Scotland’s schools set up by think tanks Reform Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy is to examine whether scientific subjects should be given priority. It will also reportedly look at the different approaches offered by a variety of different schools and curriculums. (The Times page 9)



New skin cancer treatment: A new treatment for skin cancer which uses a radioactive paste could cure the disease in less than two hours. The treatment could prove especially beneficial to the 1,100 Scots affected every year, as it does not require surgery or radiotherapy. (Scottish Daily Mail page 1)


Local Government

Matheson criticises cuts: Glasgow city council leader Gordon Matheson has accused the SNP of “bleeding money away from councils”. There are to be £350 million cut from budgets in the coming year. This follows the 13,000 local government jobs which were cut in 2011. Labour believes this figure could be surpassed this year but the SNP government insist projected revenue spending will be maintained (The Scotsman page 2, The Herald page 6, The Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2)



Storm train injuries: Two passengers were injured when a train from the Highlands to the Central Belt crashed into a fallen tree on the main line. The tree had been blown on to the tracks by the high winds felt all over the country. It happened as an attempt to clear thousands of fallen trees from lines was under way. The clean-up continued on yesterday, following Tuesday’s storm while 14,000 households were still without power and many households suffered from flooding. (The Scotsman page 10, Press and Journal page 1, The Courier page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Edinburgh trams: As Edinburgh’s city-centre braces for the tram construction work to be extended into St. Andrew Square, Edinburgh council Chief Executive Sue Bruce admits it was “doomed” from the start. At one point, she claims, the entire project was almost scrapped all together. She has ordered council officials to submit a detailed audit of all related documents which will aid a coming public inquiry into the construction delays. She admits that the project “dominated” her first six months in the council with mediating between parties a key-factor in the final agreement to keep building (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 11, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 4)

Drink-drive increase: The number of people reported drink-driving during an annual police review was seen to have risen 12%. A total of 478 people were reported for driving while over the limit during the four-week festive campaign, up from 426 last year. It is feared that the usual media and educational campaigns along with the added risk of losing your licence or even car, are still not being effective enough to tackle the issue in Scotland (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 9)