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Reform Scotland News: 11 June 2012

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 June

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

Greens & Yes campaign:The Scottish Green Party has declined to join the cross-party Yes campaign, claiming that the SNP were failing to include others in the campaign’s decision making process. Green leader Patrick Harvie MSP said that the party didn’t want to end up “simply cheerleading for the SNP” and criticised the SNP’s stance on the retention of the monarchy and the pound. Green members will now vote at their annual conference in October to decide if they want formal links with the Yes Scotland campaign. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson commented that the campaign was in “utter shambles.” The move has prompted independent nationalist MSP Margo Macdonald to announce that she will not formally be joining the campaign and described it as too heavily “aligned to a political party” (Scotsman page 1, Sunday Herald page 16, The Herald page 6, Andrew McKie in the Herald, The Times page 1, Press & Journal page 11, Scottish Daily Mail page 4, The Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Sun page 2)

No campaign: The No campaign is expected to formally launch the week beginning 25 June and to call itself “Better Together”. In addition, the founder of one of Scotland’s most successful advertising agencies is to help spearhead the campaign to save the union. Simon Scott was responsible for the successful anti-independence campaign run by Labour in 1999. However, Mr Scott is expected to adopt a more positive tone this time around, emphasising the benefits of the union between Scotland and England. (The Scotsman page 7, The Times page 4)

Referendum campaign donations: The Yes campaign has called on all groupings in the referendum campaign to refuse to accept donations of over £500 from people not on the electoral register in Scotland. The proposal would also mean that trade union donations could not be used.  The No campaign has accused the SNP of trying to fix the rules. (Sunday Herald page 17)

Identity: Lesley Riddoch in The Scotsman comments that we need to do more to define what is to be Scottish, or what we want it to be in the future.  While Mike Elrick in Scotland on Sunday comments on the idea that independence wouldn’t stop Scots considering themselves British, claiming that independence would cause a major shift in the relationship between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Union Jack: An advisor to the Royal Household on heraldry said that the Union Jack may undergo dramatic changes should Scotland become independent. The name of the country would change and the flag might have to be completely redesigned as it currently combines the crosses of three countries united under one sovereign. (The Times page 4)

Tory donor: Former Conservative Party donor John McGlynn has indicated that he is likely to back independence if there is no third option on the ballot in the referendum. (The Scotsman page 7, Scottish Daily Mail page 4, The Times page 1, The Daily Express page 4)

Leveson Inquiry: Alex Salmond is reportedly facing increasing pressure to reveal whether he was a victim of phone hacking ahead of his appearance before the Leveson Inquiry on Wednesday. Gordon Brown, George Osborne, Ed Miliband and David Cameron will all give testimony to the inquiry this week. (The Scotsman page 13, The Financial Times page 4)

Freedom of Information: The new Information Commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, has commented that public bodies in Scotland still lack expertise when dealing with freedom-of-information requests and handle them poorly. (The Scotsman page 18)

Jeremy Hunt: Lord Oakeshott, a former Lib Dem treasury spokesman, has reportedly told a TV documentary that “clearly Mr Hunt should have resigned some time ago” and “no self-respecting minister could possibly carry on”. (Guardian page 2, The Herald page 6)

Gay marriage: 69 MSPs, a majority of the Scottish Parliament, have reportedly indicated that they would vote in favour of same sex marriage. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Sun page 2)

Economy

Eurozone and UK economy: Tory MP Douglas Caswell has commented in his blog that the absence of domestic economic reform was the cause of “awful economic performance”, rather than George Osborne’s claims it was the fault of the Eurozone crisis. Several Tory MPs called upon the Chancellor to cut regulation for small businesses, scrap the petrol price rise, and attract investment from wealthy foreign countries. Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney is expected to accuse George Osborne of adopting a wrong-headed approach to the economic crisis in a speech in Glasgow today. He warns of the negative effect that UK- wide austerity plans have had on the Scottish economy.  (Guardian page 6, The Herald page 1, The Times page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 2, The Financial Times page 1)

Modern apprenticeships: Figures from Skills Development Scotland and released by the Labour Party have revealed that last year four out of every ten Modern Apprenticeships went to people who had already been in their job for more than six months, despite the fact that the scheme is supposed to be aimed at lifting young people out of unemployment. (Scotsman page 15, Scotland on Sunday page 4, Daily Express page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 2)

Public sector tax loophole: The Scottish government has announced that it is blocking public-sector employees from legally avoiding paying tax on their salaries by getting paid through a company.  Non-payroll arrangements can now only be entered into in the “most exceptional of circumstances”. (Sunday Herald page 4)

Scottish taxes: Brian Monteith in The Scotsman describes the Scottish government’s intention to replace stamp duty with a new tax which will start at a higher value of property but be funded by increasing the rates on more expensive properties as an ultra-progressive tax.

Justice

Legal high: Police are investigating whether a teenager who died at RockNess at the weekend had taken a so-called legal high drug, Benzo Fury. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7, The Times page 3, Press and Journal page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 5, The Courier page 16, Daily Record page 1)

Lord Advocate: The Former Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini is seeking a court order against Robert Green who claims she was involved in the cover up of a paedophile ring involving several prominent Scots. (The Herald page 1)

Education

Gay marriage in the classroom: According to the leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholics, teachers will be required to stress the validity of same-sex marriage if gay weddings are legalised. The Scottish government has sought to assure faith groups and parents that teachers wouldn’t be required to go against their beliefs, but QC Aidan O’Neill suggests that failing to teach that gay weddings are equally valid would fall foul of equality laws. (The Times page 1, Daily Express page 15)

Health

Legionnaires’ disease: According to the Scottish government, the Legionnaires’ outbreak has entered its later stages and there are expected to be fewer new confirmed cases.  As of Sunday there were 82 confirmed or suspected cases. (The Scotsman page 9, Sunday Herald page 1, The Herald page 5, The Times page 12, Scottish Daily Mail page 16, Daily Express page 11)

Scots suicide risk: Researchers from Edinburgh University found that the percentage of people taking their own life is 79% higher than south of the border. They attribute this to poor mental health, coupled with drug and alcohol use and socio-economic deprivation. (The Herald page 11)

Local Government

Orange marches: Dani Garavelli in Scotland on Sunday comments on Glasgow City Council’s review of its policy on marches.