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Reform Scotland News: 25/01/2012

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 plans for Scottish economy: Alex Salmond stated yesterday that an independent Scotland which kept sterling as its currency would have to rely upon the Bank of England as a last-resort lender. The First Minister’s remarks came in response to a question posed by former Labour Treasury Minister Lord Myners in a question and answer session after his Hugo Young Lecture in London.

Independence referendum consultation paper: Alex Salmond will today launch his plans for the referendum for an independent Scotland. The First Minister will use Edinburgh Castle as one of the sites of this launch. His decision to use this venue has been criticised by opposition parties. The First Minister will outline a period of three months of consultation which is open to the public to express their views on the independence referendum.

Alex Salmond on GDP: Speaking as UK GDP figures are announced, Alex Salmond claimed last night that an independent Scotland would help Scotland out of the economic slump. The First Minister argued that smaller nation-states such as Norway, Sweden and New Zealand were coping better with the economic situation. Scottish Secretary Michael Moore rebutted these remarks and has stated that, “in times of strain, it’s better for families to stick together rather than break apart.”

(Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Sun page 6, Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 6, Daily Mail page 1, Times page 9, Courier page 2, Press and Journal page 11, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Independence referendum: Allan Massie in the Scotsman comments on Alex Salmond’s ‘wooing’ of English support and tolerance for Scottish independence. John Curtice writes that ‘devo-max’ may be the best deal for Scotland in The Scotsman. Ian Bell comments on English identity in The Herald. Alice Thomson comments on the danger of devo-max in The Times. Benedict Brogan warns David Cameron to avoid being viewed as purely an English Prime Minister in the Daily Telegraph.

Scottish Labour critique of SNP policy options: Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran yesterday claimed that Alex Salmond ‘doesn’t tell people the real costs’ of policies. Her remarks could be seen to signal a move away from support of flagship SNP policies on free prescriptions, no tuition fees and a council tax freeze. Ms Curran stated that SNP policies failed to help the poorest in society. Senior SNP MSP John Wilson likened her stance to that of the Conservative party and accused her of hypocrisy. (Scotsman page 6, Guardian page 8)

Scottish referendum and Spain: Information from government and diplomatic sources has shown that UK diplomats are seeking to reassure their Spanish counterparts that a Scottish independence referendum in 2014 would not spark demands for similar polls in Catalonia and the Basque country. There had been previous media coverage after claims that Spain would block an independent Scotland from joining the Euro. (Herald page 6)

SNP campaign funding: The SNP will not seek to raise the limit on campaign spending and is likely to stick to the 2010 budget set out in a consultation paper on a referendum written two year ago. Opposition parties had feared that the SNP might utilise some of its recent large donations. (Herald page 6)

Liberal Democrats: Lord Wallace, the Advocate General for Scotland and former leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has said that his party will make greater fiscal autonomy for Scotland one of their next general election pledges. He stated that he would push for ‘home rule’ but that the question regarding devo-max should not be asked under the context of an independence referendum. (Herald page 6)

Assisted Suicide Proposal: Independent MSP Margo MacDonald yesterday announced a proposal to allow friends of critically ill patients in Scotland to assist in suicide. The proposal would see the setting up of a ‘friend at the end’ scheme which would allow government ‘licensed facilitators’ as well as medics to help seriously ill people take their lives. The proposal has been met with opposition by some MSPs who feel that the bill is similar to the defeated End of Life Assistance Bill which was blocked by MSPs in a free vote at Holyrood and condemned by the Catholic Church in Scotland.  (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 2, Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 10, Times page 8, Courier page 2, Press and Journal page 13)

Economics

Cairn Energy: Edinburgh-based oil exploration company Cairn Energy has withdrawn its plans to award its founder, Sir Bill Gammell, £2.5million in shares as a bonus. Sir Bill was due to receive the shares as a reward for helping the company profitably sell off its Indian operation last year. The move has been hailed as ‘hugely significant’ by corporate government experts and could be indicative of a new trend regarding corporate governance and social responsibility.  (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 11, Daily Record page 10,

Watchdog places Sir Fred Goodwin’s knighthood in question: Former RSB boss Sir Fred Goodwin may be in danger of losing his knighthood after the author of a report into the bank’s collapse said the findings were  ‘censure’ of him. The Treasury Select Committee heard that direct criticism was removed from the Financial Services Authority report after the intervention of Sir Fred’s lawyers. One of the criteria used to determine the forfeiture of honours is that of censure by a professional body. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 5, Daily Mail page 17, Financial Times page 3, Daily Mirror page 6)

Scottish families spending less: The 2012 Aviva Family Finance Report has found that on average the incomes fell by 13% last year. This has led to families cutting back on expenditure on alcohol, restaurant and take-away meals and leisure activities. (Scotsman page 16)

Scottish Water Bills frozen: Scottish Water has announced that water bills will remain frozen from April. (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 11, Courier page 21)

Finance Ministers’ summit: Danny Alexander will host a jobs summit of finance ministers next month to work out a UK-wide strategy to deal with the rise in unemployment. The meeting will include the Scottish Finance Secretary and other devolved counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland. (Herald page 5)

Education

Mandatory Scottish Literature in Higher English exam: Education Secretary Michael Russell will today announce that from 2014-15 onwards all pupils sitting Higher English exams will be required to answer a question on Scottish texts. The announcement was welcomed by Scotland’s Makar Liz Lochhead and Ann Ballinger, general secretary of the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 1)

Local Government

Occupy Edinburgh leaves site: The Occupy Edinburgh protest group voluntarily left the site at St Andrew Square ahead of a forced eviction.  The move has been welcomed by Essential Edinburgh; the body who manage the square. The cost to restore the square will now be considered. (Scotsman page 4)