Reform Scotland News: 8 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


Cameron and austerity: David Cameron and Nick Clegg are expected to announce today that they will not change their plan for economic austerity after poor election results last week. It will be announced today in a speech which marks the second anniversary of the formation of the UK coalition government. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 14, FT page 1, Guardian page 2, Mail page 8, Record page 2).

Independence referendum: MPs on the Scottish affairs select committee at Westminster have called for a neutral and clear worded independence referendum question and for it to be overseen by the Electoral Commission. The SNP has disagreed with the committee’s decision that the proposed question is ‘biased’ and ‘unfair’ towards the Yes vote. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, Sun page 4, Express page 2, P&J page 11, Courier page 2).

Peter Jones in the Scotsman has said that the council elections give evidence to suggest that Scottish independence is becoming less popular and is not the most important issue for the Scottish electorate.

Labour popularity: Simon Pia in the Scotsman argues that Labour should fight the SNP to regain the centre-left ground to increase their popularity in Scotland.

Scottish Conservatives and Lib Dems: Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, has offered disaffected Liberal Democrats to join the Scottish Conservatives as SNP and Labour led coalition talks take place for running councils across Scotland. The Liberal Democrats have dismissed the offer. (Telegraph page 10, The Sun page 6, P&J page 6).

Defence cuts & Scottish Regiments: Defence cuts are to reconstruct Scottish units and see the loss of famous Scottish regiment names such as Black Watch, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Royal Highlanders Fusiliers. (Telegraph page 1).

Nadine Norris: Leo McKinstry in Monday’s Express comments that Nadine Dorris is right in saying the coalition have its priorities wrong.

Queen’s speech: Tim Montgomerie in Monday’s Guardian comments on what should be included in the Queen’s speech.


Sustainable recover: Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson, Professor Jim McDonald, the principal of Strathclyde University and Phillip Grant, the new head of the Lloyds Banking Group in Scotland, will give evidence to MSPs on the finance committee on the need for a highly educated workforce and exploiting international markets for a sustainable recovery for the Scottish economy. (Scotsman page 6).

Wind farm report: An official report by BiGGAR Economics concluded that Britain’s onshore wind farms supports 8,600 jobs and were worth more than £548m to the UK economy in 2011. Scotland currently accounts for 60% of the UK’s wind power. (Scotsman page 11).

Public sector pensions strike: Up to 30,000 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) are protesting at Westminster’s pension reform. The strike is to take place on Thursday and expected to cause disruption to UK and Scottish government departments, including Jobcentre and courts. (Herald page 5, P&J page 12).

Scottish unemployment: The Centre of Economic and Business Research (CEBR) has estimated that the Scottish labour market is weaker than before the financial crisis. The Scottish unemployment rate is estimated to be higher than that of the UK and at the highest level since 1993. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that unemployment in north-east of Glasgow is at 49%. (Times page 13, Daily Mail page 4).

Local Government 

Labour and SNP coalition in Edinburgh: Labour and SNP councillors have announced they are forming a coalition to run the City of Edinburgh Council after yesterday’s talks. Labour had previously talked with the Conservatives and the Greens. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 13, Express page 2, P&J page 6).

Local government elections: Comment, analysis and fallout following the local government elections.  (Lesley Riddoch in Monday’s Scotsman, Brian Monteith in Monday’s Scotsman, Alan Cochrane in Monday’s Telegraph, John Curtice in the Scotland on Sunday, David Torrance in the Scotland on Sunday, Euan McColm in the Scotland on Sunday, Duncan Hamilton in the Scotland on Sunday, Iain Mcwhirter in the Sunday Herald, Ross Martin in the Sunday Herald, Tom Gordon in the Sunday Herald, Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times)


Carer’s mental health: A poll by Princess Royal Trust for Carers has highlighted that six in ten unpaid carers in Scotland have suffered mental health illness and that a fifth of Scotland’s 657,000 carers are caring for a relative for over 50 hours a week. (Scotsman page 14).

Emergency drug plan revealed: The Scottish Government has agreed to develop an emergency national co-ordinated strategy to handle infections spread through contaminated illegal drug use following two life-threatening outbreaks among users. (Herald page 8).


Drug-driving: The UK government has urged the Scottish government to follow their move to outlaw drug-driving. Offenders will face up to six months in jail and a fine of £5000, as well as a 12-month driving ban. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said the UK legislation unveiled this week ought to include roadside testing equipment and ought to on impairment rather than the presence of drugs in the system. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 4).


Pre-school education cuts: Five of Scotland’s main teaching unions and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council have issued a statement calling for a reversal in plans by budget constrained local councils to reduce the number of qualified nursery teachers. The announcement comes ahead of a meeting of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee later today. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 2).

New curriculum costs: The cost of the introduction of the curriculum for excellence has reportedly increased to as much as £110m. This increase could be roughly eight times more than initial estimates. Allegations are based on a leaked Scottish parliament briefing note. (Mail page 1).


Island ferries contract: Maritime union Nautilus International announced concerns over the Scottish Government’s decision to name Serco as the lead bidder for a ferry contract for the Northern Isles. The contract is under £243 million and would see Serco taking over routes to Orkney and the Shetlands from rival Northlink for six years. (Scotsman page 7, P&J page 11).