Reform Scotland News: 29 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
Leveson:
Tony Blair gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry yesterday where he was accused of being a war criminal by a protestor.  He said that he had nothing more than “a working relationship” with Rupert Murdoch until he left office in 2007. (Scotsman page 8, Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman, Herald page 5, Sun page 19, Record page 8, Times page 4, Rachel Sylvester in the Times, Express page 7, FT page 2, Telegraph page 4, Guardian page 8, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, Mail page 8, P&J page 13, Courier page 22)

Cameron’s media adviser:  Number 10’s head of communications, Craig Oliver, was caught on camera yesterday criticising BBC News chief political correspondent Norman Smith for a package on BBC’s Six O’clock News on Friday regarding Jeremy Hunt.  Mr Oliver accused Mr Smith of broadcasting “opinion rather than impartial reporting of the facts”. (Scotsman page 9, Sun page 2, Guardian page 9, P&J page 12, Courier page 22)

Jim McColl & referendum: Entrepreneur Jim McColl has said that he may back independence if given the option of a straight ‘yes-no’ question on independence in the referendum.  However, Mr McColl’s preference is for Holyrood to be given full fiscal powers but remain within the UK. (Scotsman page 1)

Bank of England & Independence: Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of making a gaffe over claiming an independent Scotland would be able to appoint people to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, which is responsible for setting interest rates. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, Mail page 6)

Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph argues that greater scrutiny needs to be made of the SNP’s claims about independence.

Baroness Warsi: Peter Kernaghan, the Lords Commissioner for Standards, is considering whether to investigate allegations about Baroness Warsi’s expenses. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Ross Clark in the Express, Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 7, Mail page 19)

Robert Kilgour:  Tycoon and Conservative Party donor Robert Kilgour has said he will remain in Scotland to make the country a “success” if voters back independence. (Scotsman page 4)

Recession & devolution: Peter Jones in the Scotsman looks at the financial situation in Spain and comments that financial crises can push devolution into reverse.

Relationship between Scotland & rest of the the UK: Andrew Nicoll in the Sun looks back over the past 300 years of the Act of Union. Joan McAlpine in the Record argues that independence won’t stop us being a united island with Royal, social and familial ties.

Scottish Lib Dems: Tim McKay in the Scotsman comment on the impact of the Lib Dem’s involvement in the coalition at Westminster on the party’s recent local election results and how the party can improve its standing.

Pollster and referendum: Peter Kellner, president of YouGov, has commented that looking at previous referendums and campaigns in the UK and Scotland, independence will need to be twice as popular as maintaining the union if independence is to win. (Times page 7, Express page 6, Mail page 6)

Economy         
Pasty tax: The UK government reportedly intends to scrap its plans to extend VAT to hot takeaway pies, sausage rolls and pasties.  The new proposals will mean VAT only applies to food which is intended to be served hot, leaving out food which is left to cool in cabinets, such as pasties.  The government is also going to drop plans to increase VAT on static caravans to the full 20 per cent.  (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Sun page 1, Record page 1, Times page 1, Express page 2, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, Mail page 2, P&J page 14, Courier page 17)

Labour market policy: Jeremy Peat in the Scotsman comments that under independence or Devo Max difficult decisions would be faced regarding labour market policy and the need to increase relative competitiveness.

Austerity impact on charities: A study by the New Philanthropy Capital has warned that nearly one in 10 major charities faces closures amidst public sector spending cuts, loss of donations and rising levels of need. (Herald page 1)

Education
School toilets:
A survey of parents by the Scottish Parent Teacher Council has suggested that pupils are making themselves ill because they are reluctant to use dirty school toilets and could be being restricted to when they can use the toilet. (Scotsman page 15)

Students from Northern Ireland: Dundee University has recorded a 20 per cent increase in the number of students who live in Northern Ireland but are applying with an Irish passport.  Irish nationals can apply to study in Scotland as EU students and have their fees paid, whilst students from the rest of the UK cannot. (Herald page 7)

School handbooks: The Scottish government is seeking to change the law so that schools are not required to include national statistics on exam performance at Higher in the guide for parents, meaning parents cannot compare the school’s performance with the national one. (Herald page 8)

Justice
Abu Qatada:
A judge has refused bail to terrorist suspect Abu Qatada in his latest appeal against deportation on the grounds that it would be “exceptionally problematic” with the Olympics already demanding heightened security. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Express page 4, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 4, Mail page 11, P&J page 16, Courier page 18)

Local government
Union Terrace Gardens:
A decision on the redevelopment of Union Terrace Gardens in Aberdeen has been put on hold until August. (P&J page 5)

Health
Dentists:
The OFT has urged the Scottish government to introduce a regulator for private dentists following concerns private dentists are deliberately misleading patients in to paying for treatment they could receive on the NHS. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 2, Mail page 10)