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Reform Scotland News: 24 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

Politics

Alex Salmond speech: The First Minister is expected to argue that an independent Scotland would become a “beacon of progressive opinion” for voters in the British Isles. He will speak today in London at the annual Hugo Young lecture. He cites Scotland’s free university tuition, free prescriptions, the smoking ban, and his attempts to set a minimum price for alcohol as evidence of Scotland’s alternative approach to social issues. The speech also stresses continued cooperation should independence be achieved. Tory opposition cited the Scottish Social Attitude Studies to contest the notion that Scotland sits further to the left than England. (The Scotsman page 1, The Guardian page 4)

Scottish independence: Polls conducted by the Guardian and ICM found that 68% of Britons say that the “UK is stronger together.” In addition, 28% of those surveyed agreed that the Scottish government should manage Scotland’s referendum while 61% agreed that Westminster should have a say in the ground rules. (The Scotsman page 4, The Guardian page 4, Alex Salmond in The Guardian page 30, Daily Mail page 6)

Scotland Bill: Lord Forsyth tabled a motion to halt discussions on the Scotland Bill until the Government concludes its consultation on the referendum. The former Tory Scottish Secretary cited concerns that Holyrood could decline to give its consent after prolongued debate. (The Herald page 6)

English Parliament: Two English campaigners for an English Parliament reportedly met with First Minister Alex Salmond’s Special Advisor before Christmas. Opponents argue that this is part of the First Minister’s plan to increase support for independence in the rest of the UK by stirring up English nationalism. (The Scotsman page 5, Peter Jones in the Scotsman page 29)

Government spending: Reports released through freedom of information procedures indicate that the First Minister has spent £16,000 on a luxury banquet and entertainment in honour of the Chinese government. (The Scotsman page 5)

Quebec referendum lessons: Ailsa Henderson, a senior lecture at the University of Edinburgh, highlights lessons for both the SNP and Unionist parties. She cites a lack of clarity in the questions asked in both the failed 1980 and 1995 referendums. (The Scotsman page 33)

Economy

Energy Investment: A joint project between ScottishPower and SSE has been fast-tracked by energy watchdog Ofgem. The project is designed to upgrade an ageing power network and is expected to create 1,500 new jobs. (The Scotsman page 7, The Herald page 1, The Courier page 33, The Press and Journal page 36, Daily Express page 45, The Times page 1)

Greenland oil deal: Cairn Energy, the Edinburgh-based oil explorer, is in talks to sell further stakes in its Greenland exploration fields. This comes on the heels of an estimated £103 million deal with StatOil, Norway’s state-run energy firm. (Financial Times page 20, Daily Express page 12)

Pubs closure: A report issued by the Campaign for Real Ale indicated that weekly pub closures are highest in Scotland. An average of 3 close each week, which both CAMRA and independent think tank IPPR see as a threat to community life. They advocate reform of the licensing system to help preserve pub culture. (The Scotsman page 23)

Education

Student funding: The National Union of Students Scotland received information from 28 institutions about student bursaries, with half indicating that they had overspent their budget for 2011/2012, a situation which calls into question the future of student support. (The Courier and Advertiser page 13)

Health

Children’s health: Scottish scientists have found evidence that stressful conditions experienced by pregnant women in poor areas could affect the DNA of their children, increasing risks of heart disease and diabetes. (The Scotsman page 1, Daily Record page 8