Reform Scotland News: 24 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

Yes to independence: The Scottish government has said that the official “Yes to independence” campaign will be a cross-party alliance and that the SNP will not be the only voice. First Minister Alex Salmond will be the keynote speaker at tomorrow’s official launch, along with Green co-leader Patrick Harvie. They insist that the “Yes Scotland” campaign is about more than just the SNP although opposition parties have claimed that Mr Salmond is running the campaign by “diktat”. (Scotsman page 6, Iain Macwhirter in the Herald)

Bill Walker: The SNP has been accused of “dragging its feet” in resolving the appeal made by Bill Walker against his expulsion from the party amid allegations of domestic abuse. The SNP confirmed that Bill Walker had submitted his appeal within the 21 day deadline but an appeal date had not yet been set. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 5)

Scottish battalions: The names of Scottish regiments will reportedly be saved however Scottish battalions will not be spared from being lost in the reorganisation of the army. This is likely to mean that the historic Argyll and Sutherland Highlander’s name will either be merged with the Black Watch or given to a new Territorial Army battalion. (Scotsman page 16, Record page 2, Telegraph page 8, Mail page 12, P&J page 11, Courier page 14)

Archbishop & Independence: The Archbishop of Canterbury has told the General Assembly that independence is “not a magic bullet” that will solve all of Scotland’s problems, commenting that he remained to be persuaded about Scotland’s separation from the rest of the UK. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 7, P&J page 15)

Passports: Rob Brown in the Scotsman questions the impact of independence on passports. If independence goes ahead, he states British passports will only be of use for a couple of years and questions how many will surrender British citizenship for Scottish citizenship.

Independent Scotland’s defence: MP’s have warned that an independent Scotland’s defence forces would not be at full strength for a generation. Three leading defence experts claimed the nation could be drawn into a possible conflict in the Arctic following increasing levels of Russian activity in the area. (Herald page 2, P&J page 11)

An Oxford-based military expert said that if Scotland did become independent “Ambitious Scots would serve the British Army rather than in the Scottish Army because that’s where the career opportunities are”. (Record page 2, P&J page 11)

Nato: There is widespread speculation that Scotland’s SNP government is about to make a U-turn on its long standing opposition to Nato membership. Lord Roberson in the Times argues it is the daftest of all the policies of the SNP, as Nato is the worlds most successful and popular collective defence alliance. (Times page 1, David Aaronovitch in the Times, Express page 15, Telegraph page 8)

Economy

Greece to exit euro: European Union leaders are still divided over how to resolve the possibility of Greece leaving the Euro.  It emerged yesterday that each of the eurozone nations agreed on Monday to pull together individual contingency plans for a €50 billion “Grexit”. This decision could tip Britain deeper into a recession. The FTSE 100 suffered its steepest one-day drop since November, dropping 2.5%. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Sun page 2, Record page 8, Express page 13, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 29, Mail page 2)

North Sea oil: A new Scottish research centre devoted to the development of carbon capture technology, could hold the key to unlocking the recovery of three billion barrels of North Sea oil worth £190 billion, experts have claimed. The new centre for CO2 Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) in Scotland is to be based at Edinburgh University. (Scotsman page 8, Times page 3)

Clinton Cards closure: Around 100 Scottish workers in 14 stores are to lose their jobs in the first wave of closures at collapsed retailer Clinton Cards, administrators said. (Herald page 7)

Youth unemployment: Bill Jamison in the Scotsman states unemployment among the young is about more than a reluctance to face the realities of a working life. This comment comes after reading the latest report on Scottish youth unemployment and observing yesterday’s “job summit” at the Scottish Parliament.

Ageing Scots: An inquiry into the impact of the cost and delivery of services to Scotland’s ageing population has been announced by Holyrood’s Finance Committee. Research by analysts at the National Records of Scotland office predict the number of pensioners will rise by 551,200 by 2035 to 1.4 million. (Herald page 6, Courier page 1)

Target for Scottish electricity: Energy giant Scottish Power said Scotland could be producing 100% of its electricity requirements from renewable sources by 2020. However it told MSPs that meeting the target would depend on several factors, including clear commitment from both Scottish and UK Governments to support policies that maintained investor confidence. (Herald page 6)

Education

Unemployable young: David Scott, chief executive of GTG Training which is owned by car dealer Arnold Clark, was expected to expand on claims that more than four-fifths of school leavers seeking an apprenticeship where unsuitable. However, he did not turn up to his scheduled Scottish Parliament committee session. (Scotsman page 2, Times page 3, Record page 2, Express page 25, Telegraph page 8)

Scotland’s new national qualifications: Teachers have criticised a national audit of readiness for Scotland’s new exams, accusing it of ignoring their concerns about the new qualifications. Education Scotland published findings on the level of preparedness for the new National Qualifications, concluding that delivery of exams was on track. However two of the largest teachers unions disagree stating the audit showed a lack of interest in teachers’ views. (Scotsman page 20, Record page 25, Express page 2, Telegraph page 1)

Students Strike: Hundreds of students yesterday created a wall of sound outside North Glasgow College in a bid to defend their courses being axed. (Record page 24

Schools failure to meet exam target: Figures show that nearly 97% of Scottish schools failed to meet a key exams target with only 12 secondary schools out of 400 saw at least half of their pupils pass 3 or more Higher exams last year, a Scottish Daily Mail investigation has found. (Mail page 1)

Justice

Prison Voting: The UK will fight a European court ruling that prisoners should be given the right to vote, Prime Minister David Cameron has announced. He stated it was up to parliament and not European judges. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Express page 2, Stephen Pollard in the Daily Express, Guardian page 10, Mail page 6)

Health

Clot-busting drug: Stroke patients given a new clot-busting drug after a heart attack are more like to make a better recovery than those who do not take it, research has found. An international trial, led by Edinburgh University, discovered more stroke survivors who took the drug were able to look after themselves than those who had not been given it. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 7, Express page 25, Telegraph page 16)

Pompe patients: Scots sufferers of a rare muscle-wasting disease are hopeful of a breakthrough in their battle for a drug rejected for use on the NHS after a “very positive” meeting with the First Minister. (Herald page 8)