Reform Scotland News: 23 April 2012


Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 23 April 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


Donald Trump: American businessman Donald Trump arrived in Aberdeen to launch his campaign against wind farms and give evidence before a Holyrood committee this week. Mr. Trump has accused Scottish government ministers of lying about his organisation’s past support for wind farms, saying that he was given assurances that wind farms would not be placed near his luxury golf course. He threatened to axe his hotel plans if ministers support the placement of wind farms nearby. However, a letter leaked to the Sunday Herald reveals that the tycoon warmly endorsed targets adopted by the Scottish ministers, lending his support to “appropriately placed wind farms.” His arrival comes as a new survey found that voters in Scotland are increasingly sceptical about the potential of wind farms to serve Scotland’s energy needs, preferring the development of tidal and wave energy. (The Scotsman page 1, Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman page 23, The Herald page 1, The Times page 14, The Herald page 3, Daily Express page 7, Sunday Times page 1, The Sunday Herald page 8, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Scottish identity survey: A recent YouGov poll found that only 41% of Scots said the Queen made them feel proud to be Scottish. This is compared to 80% in England. Sources of pride cited by Scots include comedian Billy Connolly, the Edinburgh Festival, Robert Burns, and the Scottish Highlands. These results may explain the lack of enthusiasm for Jubilee festivities in Scotland as well as calling into question First Minister Alex Salmond’s support for retaining the monarch should the referendum on independence succeed. (The Scotsman page 1, Andrew McKie in the Herald)

House of Lords reform: Nick Clegg has warned Prime Minister David Cameron that he must resist efforts by Conservative party members to halt reform of the House of Lords, noting that Liberal Democrats had backed coalition measures that they did not like. (The Scotsman page 6, The Times page 13)

Business and the referendum: David Cameron has accused Alex Salmond of attempting to “intimidate” companies which speak out against independence. The Prime Minister called for a quick, simple and legal vote with a single question but did not propose a specific date for the referendum. (The Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Record page 2)

Bill Walker: The SNP is facing pressure to explain why it allowed disgraced MSP Bill Walker to stand for election when party officials knew he had a pattern of violence. The SNP has reportedly admitted that information about Mr Walker’s past was handed to the constituency office of Nicola Sturgeon in 2008. This information, provided by a relative of Mr Walker’s third wife, was passed along to the party headquarters. (The Times page 5, The Daily Telegraph page 12, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 2, The Sunday Herald page 6)

Scottish Tory Donor: The financial prospects of the Scottish Tories have taken a hit as it was revealed that Malcolm Scott, who has made more than £1.6 million in personal and corporate donations to the party, reportedly owes more than £8 million. (The Sunday Herald page 4)


Scotland’s economic future: Prominent politicians and business leaders gathered at a Herald/Fraser of Allander seminar to discuss Scotland’s fiscal future. The seminar was dominated by the discussion of the Scotland Bill, which had been passed through the Scottish Parliament just a day earlier. Moderator Iain MacWhirter asked Scottish Secretary Michael Moore if the bill had become an anachronism as the parties were discussing additional devolution and alternative proposals. This characterisation was contested by Mr. Moore who described it as the “biggest transfer of financial powers since 2007.” However, fellow speakers disagreed with Jim McColl of Clyde Blowers arguing that it did nothing for business. (The Sunday Herald page 50)

Youth unemployment high: The number of young people in Scotland who have been out of work and claiming Job Seekers Allowance for more than 12 months has increased by more than 1,100 according to figures released by the STUC.  (The Scotsman page 8)

Edinburgh Airport sale: Global Infrastructure Partners, the owner of Gatwick and City airports, is poised to acquire Edinburgh airport for around £850 million. BAA was forced to put the airport up for sale after regulators decided it controlled too much of the UK market. (The Daily Telegraph page B1)


New curriculum: The Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association found that teachers were often overlooked in a national audit on upcoming curriculum and exam changes. The audit, conducted by Education Scotland, is designed to determine whether Scottish schools are ready to introduce new National 4 and National 5 exams. (The Herald page 8)


Law change on rape cases: Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland has said that hundreds of rape and sexual offense cases could be prosecuted if the Scottish Parliament abolishes the requirement for corroboration. In 2010, the Supreme Court’s Cadder judgement found that it was a breach of the ECHR to allow an accused to be detained and interviewed without the right to a solicitor. Mr. Mulholland said the ruling combined with the centuries-old rule of corroboration made it difficult to prosecute such cases. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 3)

Michael Brown: Convicted Scottish multi-millionaire Michael Brown is awaiting extradition to the UK this week. Brown stole nearly £8 million from the former chairman of Manchester United. (The Scotsman page 14, The Herald page 7, The Guardian page 1, Daily Express page 1)

Unpaid fines: More than 40% of fines issued for antisocial behaviour remain unpaid, totalling £2.7 million. A report also found that sheriff court and justice court fines were also in arrears. Direct fines handed out by procurators-fiscal and the police have resulted in non-payment levels of up to 50%. (Scotland on Sunday page 4)


Obesity concerns: New research published by Glasgow University found that overweight Scottish teenagers are unconcerned about the health implications of their weight. The research suggests that there must be new ways of engaging young people on the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. (The Scotsman page 15)

Local Government

Local elections: Scotland on Sunday looks at the implications of the upcoming local elections. With no national elections taking place concurrently, the local elections are expected to be a key battleground as parties seek to consolidate support in the run-up to the referendum. Glasgow is especially important as the winner will preside over the Commonwealth Games which will take place a few months before the referendum. In Edinburgh, the trams debacle is likely to challenge the Liberal Democrat and SNP coalition. (Scotland on Sunday page 13)

Local election ballot mishap: North Lanarkshire, a hotly contested council, has been forced to reissue 26,000 postal ballots because of misleading information. The voting instructions were old and did not reflect the new Single Transferable Voting system now used. (The Herald page 6)