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Reform Scotland News: 8 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

Defence: The joint Westminster committee on the government’s National Security Strategy has criticised the UK government for failing to make contingency plans for defence and security should Scotland become independent.  A written parliamentary answer also suggests that ministers have vetoed contingency plans because they “are confident Scotland will continue to support the Union in any referendum”. A report featured in The Telegraph warned Britain’s defence capabilities could be damaged with the current proposed National Security Strategy. (Scotsman page 1, Tim Ripley in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 5).

 

Two referendums: A group of leading political analysts has warned that Scotland will need two referendums to become independent, one to give the SNP the authority to negotiate the split with the UK including Scotland’s share of the UK’s debt, and a second referendum for the electorate to give its verdict on the final settlement. (Scotsman page 6, Scott MacNab in the Scotsman).

 

Referendum date: Martin Kettle in the Guardian comments on the importance of the referendum date.

 

Devo Plus: Reform Scotland chairman, Ben Thomson, comments in the Scotsman that Holyrood could raise the majority of the revenue it spends whilst remaining part of the UK.

 

Electoral Commission: John McCormick in the Scotsman outlines the Electoral Commission’s responses to the UK and Scottish government consultations on the referendum. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2)

 

SNP resignation: Tommy Ball, an SNP activist in Glasgow has resigned from the party after being criticised for tweets where he branded British soldiers “ignorant racists” and claimed they “bayonet children”. He later changed his blog to state he was a “pro-independence activist”. Alex Salmond was urged by opposition parties to stop any SNP members who use blogs and social networking sites to abuse groups of people. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 4, Telegraph page 1).

 

Equality: Ruth Wishart in the Scotsman comments on the 101st International Women’s Day saying that changes are still needed both at home and in the workplace. A contrasting article in The Courier by Tony Troon questions whether holding a day for women only goes to draw attention to the differences in gender. (Courier page 31).

 

Singapore: Daniel Gay in the Scotsman comments that an independent Scotland could learn a lot from Singapore.

 

Scottish Labour: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman comments on how the Labour party in Scotland can win its way back to power.

 

Economy

Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland: The latest annual publication of GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland), published yesterday has suggested that Scotland’s finances are in a better state that those of the UK as a whole. (Scotsman page 1, John McLaren in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Herald page 6).

 

Rangers: Rangers administrators are reportedly racing to find a buyer for the club after cost-cutting talks involving cutting players’ salaries to prevent redundancies broke down. Rangers’ second-biggest shareholder, Dave King, issued a statement yesterday saying it was “inevitable” the club would be liquidated. Administrators Duff and Phelps warned of the club’s precarious position, describing it as “on the edge of oblivion”.  (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 72, Sun page 1, Mail page 13, Times page 1).

 

Remploy: The Government’s decision to cut funding to Remploy, a government owned company that was established in 1945 to provide employment for disabled people, could lead to more than 1700 disabled people in Scotland facing redundancy. It is reportedly feared that many of the former workers will be forced to claim benefits after the closure of Remploy factories in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Motherwell. However, it is reported that operations in Tayside and Fife will remain open. (Herald page 1, Guardian page 8, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 12, Times page 16, Courier page 11).

 

RBS: Vince Cable has reportedly dropped his proposal to break up RBS and create it into a “British Business Bank” as it would delay the return of the bank to the private sector and could break EU rules. The Bank also this week announced it would drop 300 back office staff and emigrate the work to India.  (Herald page 6, Record page 12).

 

50p tax: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald comments on proposals to drop the 50p tax band (Record page 8).

 

Local Government

Highland and Island’s fire service: A damning report brought to light the lack of cost effectiveness of the north’s fire brigade. Among the criticisms is the organisation’s management and value. Nearly half of the call outs recorded were actually false alarms. (Press and Journal page 5, Courier page 2).

 

Education

New exams: According to a survey by teaching union the EIS, less than one in ten teachers are either “fully” or “very confident” of delivering the new National qualifications in time. The survey was responded to by more than 2,700 teachers in different parts of Scotland.  The exams are due to replace Standard Grades and Intermediates from 2013-14. Education Minister, Mike Russell has come under increasing pressure recently to delay their introduction.   (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 4, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 7, Times page 21).

 

Science graduates: Professor Martin Hendry from the school of physics and astronomy at the University of Glasgow has called for science graduates to be sent into schools to help improve the teaching of science. (Scotsman page 21)

 

College drop-outs: New figures indicate that 27% of full-time students in further education dropped out in 2010/11. (Herald page 9)

 

Health

Diabetes risk: A conference held today in Glasgow will discuss the risks to Scotland’s residents from type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes UK estimates that over 500,000 Scots are at a heightened risk of developing the disease due to their lifestyle.  (Record page 22).

Transport           

Free Parking: Glasgow city council has become the first to introduce free parking in its city centre exclusively for electric cars. The council will subsidise the scheme to allow 19 car parks and 4000 roadside bays to become free to use. (Record page 20)

 

MOT tests: Scotland has come top for the number of MOT failures, with 13 Scottish towns in the UK top 20 for failures. Dundee fared worst with 20 per cent of cars failing first time round. The managing director of Halfords, Rory Carlin, said “These figures show many motorists feeling the financial squeeze have cut back on necessary repairs.”(Mail page 9)