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Reform Scotland News: 16 March 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

Referendum: A leading economist, Professor Stephane Garelli, has argued an independent Scotland would have no choice other than to join the euro. (Scotsman page 1)

Tory approval rating: Ruth Davidson last night brushed aside the findings of a survey that suggested the Scottish Tory leader’s approval rating has plummeted. She scored an approval rating of 2.8 per cent on the ToryHoose website, down from plus 82 per cent in the last survey. (Times page 8)

Alex Salmond and tax increase: Alex Salmond reportedly oversaw plans to cover up proposed tax increases until they were “buried” in bad news. Civil servants advised Alex Salmond before last May’s Holyrood elections to drop a two-year legal fight preventing the press seeing details of the SNP’s local tax plans. (Daily Telegraph page 1, 14)

George Osborne and reducing tax: George Osborne is poised to slash the top rate of income tax from 50p to 40p in next week’s budget in a dramatic move that will delight business and the Tory right, but risks reinforcing the Conservatives’ reputation as protectors of the super-rich. (The Guardian page 1)

Eric Joyce: the 51-year-old quit the Labour Party this week but has insisted he has no intention of standing down from his role as an MP before the 2015 general election. He stated yesterday that he is staying to continue his work in the Congo. (Daily Mail page 1)

Economy

Youth employment:  The Scottish Secretary, Michael Moore, has called for employers to help expand government work experience programmes to tackle youth unemployment. Michael Moore wants an extra 500 placements on top of more than 2,000 already established in Scotland since April last year. The number of young Scots out of work has soared by nearly 50 percent in a year. (Scotsman page 10, Daily Mail page 2, Press and Journal page 11, Courier and Advertiser page 14)

Fire and police services: Scotland’s new single police and fire services reportedly face an annual VAT blow of up to £36million a year, fuelling fears of job losses. Under the present system, police and fire services are treated in the same way as local authorities and are exempt from the charge, but this does not apply to the planned single organisations. (Daily Mail page 20)

Whisky and Referendum: Whisky distillers have called on the Scottish and UK governments to urgently set out precisely what independence would mean for Scotland. (Scotsman page 3)

Job losses in health and social work: One in ten jobs in health and social work in Scotland has disappeared over the past five years, while the number in England has grown by more than 10 percent, a new analysis of the public sector has revealed. (Scotsman page 9)

Wind and wave power: Green energy experts are calling on the Scottish and UK governments to invest £80 million in wave and tidal power. Industry body RenewableUK said the cash was needed to help the sector, which could create 10,000 jobs in the UK by 2020. (Scotsman page 13)

Defence jobs decrease: Thousands of defence jobs will be lost in an independent Scotland as firms downsize or pull out altogether, a leading industry expert claims in a report. Helicopter contractors and suppliers could cut their operations or withdraw altogether. (The Herald page 1)

Education

Teachers’ union: Scotland’s largest teaching union has suspended plans for a strike after the Scottish government agreed to talks over controversial pension reforms. Nearly three-quarters of members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) who took part in a ballot voted in favour of taking industrial action on 28 March. (Scotsman page 11, Press and Journal page 11)

Supply teachers: Supply teachers in Scotland have consulted lawyers about taking action over changes to their pay and conditions that make it more profitable for them to work in a burger bar than teaching. (Times page 17)

Transport

Potholes: SNP councillors who tried to have £2million of pothole repair cash shared out according to need, were defeated yesterday after a vote. Members of Highland Council’s transport committee instead approved a controversial formula for doling out the cash, but agreed to reconsider before ever using the method again. (Press and Journal page 4)

Justice

Suzanne Pilley case: David Gilroy was convicted yesterday of killing his former lover and work colleague Suzanne Pilley. (Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, Press and Journal page 12, Courier and Advertiser page 3)

Health

Cancer drugs fund: Alex Salmond has been urged to ditch free prescription charges for the well-off to help Scottish cancer sufferers get access to the same drugs used to treat the Lockerbie bomber. (Scotsman page 16)