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Reform Scotland News: 14 May 2012

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 May 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

Scotland’s future: Billionaire businessman Sir Tom Hunter has warned politicians to stop scaremongering and conduct a positive debate about the future of Scotland in an editorial in The Sunday Times. He also criticised Scotland’s “pampered” benefits scroungers, arguing that they have become addicted to handouts from the state. His warning came as it emerged that nine of ten people were on some form of welfare payments in Glasgow’s East End. He encouraged young Scots to look east to China where he was impressed by the ambition and confidence of the people. (The Herald page 6, The Sunday Times page 21, The Sunday Times page 1, Daily Mail page 8)

Referendum questions: Retired MP Tam Dalyell has argued that the ballot papers for the independence referendum should include an option to abolish the Scottish Parliament and warned that devo-max would have a destabilising effect on the United Kingdom. Mr. Dalyell was responsible for first bringing up the West Lothian question, in which Scottish MPs could vote on solely English issues at Westminster. In the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll argues that Alex Salmond’s refusal to push the referendum forward is a way to buy time and increase support for the referendum. (The Scotsman page 14, Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 10)

Scottish regiments: Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has backtracked on his plans to abolish Scotland’s old regiment names, promising he will do “everything” possible to protect them. However, he did warn that some multi-battalion regiments will face cuts under his plans to reduce the British Army’s manpower from 102,000 to 82,000. First Minister Alex Salmond joined the campaign, a move which surprised some followers.  (The Daily Telegraph page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 15, The Sunday Times page 1)

Scottish defence post-independence: A report on Scotland’s economic and military prospects found that Scotland’s military strength post-independence would be considerably smaller than that of Denmark. According to the analysis, Scotland could afford its own military, but those forces would be smaller than those of its neighbours, and would be limited to operations within the confines of Scotland’s nearest neighbours. However, the overall cost would be less than is currently spent on Scotland’s share of defence spending. The report concluded that Scotland could defend itself for about £2 billion a year, working out to about 1.2 per cent of GDP. (The Times page 3)

Megrahi release: Prime Minister David Cameron has criticised the release by the Scottish government of the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. Mr. Megrahi was released on compassionate grounds after doctors predicted that he had less than three months to live. Nearly 3 years after his release, Mr. Megrahi is alive, a fact that doctors attribute to his treatment with a drug unavailable in Scotland. (The Herald page 1)

UK popularity poll: Labour leader Ed Miliband’s approval ratings are now higher than Prime Minister David Cameron’s, according to a recent YouGov poll. 32% of people think he is doing well, and 55% doing badly, giving him an approval rating of minus 23 in contrast to Cameron’s minus 29. Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg stands at minus 54%. (The Sunday Times page 6, The Observer page 6)

Green energy targets: An analysis prepared by the University of Strathclyde for MSPs indicated that Scotland could fall short of ambitious green energy targets. This is especially true if gas prices fall due to fracking of cheaper shale gas. (The Daily Telegraph page 10, Press & Journal page 13)

Economy

Eurozone crisis and the UK: Business Secretary Vince Cable said there was little for Britain to do in regards to the Eurozone crisis. His intervention came as Greek coalition talks remained deadlocked and German voters challenged Angela Merkel’s leadership at the polls. Dr. Cable said that Britain could be negatively affected if the Eurozone crisis spread. (The Times page 1)

Rangers sale: Charles Green, the former Sheffield United chief executive, made an offer of £8.5 million for Rangers. He has promised to bring the club out of administration and ensure a debt-free future. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 1, Daily Record page 1, Scottish Sun page 1, Daily Mail page 5, Courier & Advertiser page 3, The Times page 1)

Education

Charity award for at-risk youth: The Big Lottery Fund’s Realising Ambition programme will target youth at risk of falling into criminal activity. The money will fund 6 projects in Scotland which have been proven to improve the prospects of children aged eight to fourteen and cut crime. (The Herald page 10)

University tuition u-turn: Scottish labour leader Johann Lamont attracted criticism after she appeared to indicate that Labour might abandon its pre-election pledge not to charge fees for university students. She called for an “honest debate” on the issue, noting that college places are being “filleted” to pay for free university tuition. (The Times page 11, The Daily Telegraph online)

Health

Minimum pricing of alcohol: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon is expected to set the new minimum price for alcohol at 50p per unit. The move is designed to tackle Scotland’s alcohol problem. However, retailers and manufacturers have opposed the move and a legal challenge is expected. CBI Scotland said that the increase in minimum pricing will boost supermarket revenue by millions of pounds. (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 1, Daily Record page 10, Press & Journal page 12, The Times page 11)