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Reform Scotland News: 23 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

SNP & NATO: The SNP’s plans to hold an internal vote on whether to end its long opposition to an independent Scotland joining NATO have reportedly been scrapped. (Scotsman page 8, Stuart Crawford in the Scotsman) 

The First Minister has been criticised on Twitter by MSP John Finnie for failing to end the NATO speculation earlier. Mr Finnie tweeted that Salmond must end the speculation or he would lose his left-wing support. (Herald page 1, Express page 15, Times page 5)

Joint Ministerial Committee: Alex Salmond has been accused of snubbing a Joint Ministerial Committee in London today which will discuss welfare reforms and the Olympics in favour of an energy conference in Aberdeen, with critics accusing the First Minister of choosing a “publicity rich” event over the talks. (Scotsman page 20, Times page 15, Mail page 2, Courier page 18)

News International: MPs have asked the House of Commons standards watchdog to investigate whether three News International executives lied to the culture, media and sport select committee. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 12, Guardian page 6)

Class: In a speech to the Sutton Trust in London yesterday Nick Clegg said that the UK is still “a long distance” from becoming a classless society. (Scotsman page 22, Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Courier page 23)

Business & the constitution: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman considers the approach that will be taken by business leaders in the run up to the referendum.

Economy

IMF: Yesterday IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said that the UK economy had underperformed and unemployment remained “much too high”.  The IMF urged the UK to consider cutting interest rates and a further round of quantitative easing.  Ms Lagarde said ministers should prepare a plan for a worse economic environment which could include a cut in VAT.  However, the IMF also said that the UK government should not divert from its aim of deficit reduction. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Record page 2, Express page 4, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, P&J page 12, Mail page 4, Courier page 23)

Nuclear funding: The SNP has accused the UK Coalition Government of subsidising nuclear power through the back door. Mike Weir, SNP energy spokesman, said UK ministers were ‘obsessed’ with nuclear power whilst the Coalition Government has insisted that its energy bill is not a ‘blank cheque for nuclear’. Consumer groups and green campaigners have warned that the changes would raise bills and penalise renewable energy while boosting nuclear power. (Herald page 6, Financial Times page 3, Guardian page 11, Mail page 12)

Trident contracts: British companies were awarded £350m worth of contracts to design the next generation of nuclear submarines. (Herald page 6, Ian Bell in the Herald)

Youth unemployment: The Arnold Clark motoring group has told MSPs that the majority of Scotland’s school leavers are unemployable. Jim McColl, chairman and chief executive of Clyde Blowers, said his experience was similar to that of Arnold Clark, and suggested that the Scottish education system was failing young people. (Express page 15, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 17)

Offshore wind farm: A globally recognised expert on the North Sea oil and gas industry, Professor Alex Kemp, announced yesterday that he supported plans for the 11-turbine offshore wind farm off the Aberdeenshire coast, which has outraged Donald Trump. (Herald page 7, P&J page 6, 7) 

Lib Dems & economy: Adrian Beecroft, a Downing Street advisor, has claimed that the Liberal Democrat objections to removing red tape are harming the economy and preventing job creation. (Telegraph page 1, 14, Mail page 6)

Oil boom: Thousands of energy jobs are expected to be created by a record-breaking licensing round for North Sea oil and gas drilling. (P&J page 1)

Justice

Prison votes: The Prime Minister was last night called to lift Britain’s blanket ban on prisoner voting after the European Court of Human Rights ruled it was illegal and some inmates should be allowed to vote. Westminster has another six months to come forward with a change in the law so prisoners could be free to vote by the time of the independence referendum planned for 2014. (Herald page 6, Sun page 1, Express page 1, Times page 15, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 1, Courier page 13)

Lockerbie bomber: A number of high profile individuals including Terry Waite, Cardinal O’Brien and Tam Dalyell have backed a call for an inquiry into the conviction of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi for the Lockerbie bombing.  Concerns have been raised over the conviction including allegations that the Crown failed to disclose key evidence. (Scotsman page 10, Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, Record page 7, Times page 5, Telegraph page 9, P&J page 13)

ASBOs: The Scottish government has said that it will not follow England and Wales’ plans to replace Anti-Social Behaviour Orders. (Scotsman page 19)

Criminals to compensate victims: A Victim Surcharge is one of a series of measures being considered by the Scottish Government. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill launched the plans yesterday, which aim to give victims a place at the centre of the legal process. (Express page 2, Times page 15, Telegraph page 5, P&J page 15, Courier page 2)

Past Cases to Juries: Judges and Jurors in Scotland will be able to hear evidence of an defendant’s previous convictions and ‘bad character’ under proposals by the Scottish Law Commission. Leading QC Donald Findlay expressed ‘horror and disgust’ at the proposals. (Herald page 1, Express page 2, Telegraph page 5, Mail page 8, Courier page 2, Scotsman page 21)

Health

Obesity: A Glasgow University study has revealed that the NHS in Scotland is ‘fighting a losing battle’ against childhood obesity, as three-quarters of health staff do not know how to diagnose or treat it. (Herald page 3, Telegraph page 9, Mail page 10)

Parkinson’s: A molecular ‘switch’ that could explain how certain genes protect the brain from Parkinson’s disease has been discovered by Scottish scientists. (Herald page 9, Courier page 1)

Education

Teachers’ contracts: Brian McAlinden, a former headteacher at Castlemilk High School in Glasgow and who currently sits on the Scottish government’s attainment group has called for teachers to be given five-year fixed contracts which would provide an “incentive” for the profession to keep their skills up to date. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 2)