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Reform Scotland News: 18 June 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

Euro crisis: Fears of Greece being forced out of the eurozone were abated as early election results in the country indicated that two parties committed to the terms of the £105bn EU/IMF bailout would form a coalition government. Mr. Samaras, the leader of New Democracy and a likely candidate for Prime Minister, pledged to honour its commitments to its European partners. Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to urge Germany and the European Central Bank to intervene decisively in the eurozone crisis when he speaks today ahead of the G20 summit in Mexico. (The Scotsman page 1, Georgios Karyotis in the Scotsman, The Herald page 1, The Times page 1, Financial Times page 1, Financial Times page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Guardian page 1, Press and Journal page 12)

Phone hacking: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed that Scotland’s top civil servant Sir Peter Housden’s refusal to confirm or deny that the Government had been targeted, indicates that Scottish government phones have been hacked. According to Mr Rennie, the hack could pose a serious threat to national security and commercial confidentiality. (The Scotsman page 1, Brian Monteith in the Scotsman, The Times page 13)

Nuclear submarines: The UK Defence Secretary is expected to place an order for new nuclear reactor cores as part of a revamp of the Trident nuclear fleet. The investment will come at a cost of £1 billion. The SNP expressed its opposition to the move, deriding it as an “obscenity.” The move came amidst a report from the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, detailing how the Trident system could be safely and quickly dismantled. The report was welcomed by the Scottish government which has pledged to dismantle the base should independence be achieved. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 6, The Times page 7, Daily Express page 7, Daily Record page 2, The Sunday Herald page 1)

Independence campaign: The SNP asked campaigners to use the term “independent Scotland” instead of speaking of “independence” outright. The move came on the advice of a psychologist trained in marketing techniques which linked “independence” with risks. Members of the SNP’s fundamentalist wing reportedly objected to the move which downplays the implications of Scottish independence. (The Scotsman page 13, The Herald page 6, Andrew McKie in the Herald, The Daily Telegraph page 11, The Sunday Herald page 10, Daily Mail page 12)

No campaign: The No campaign, operating under the tagline “Better Together”, has secured the services of the communications chief of Strathclyde Police Rob Shorthouse. Mr Shorthouse served in St Andrew’s House and as senior communications officer for First Minister Jack McConnell. No campaigners cite the SNP’s emphasis on what would remain the same in an independent Scotland as fostering distrust of the party’s goals. (The Herald page 1,The Sunday Times page 7, The Daily Telegraph page 11, Daily Mail page 8, Scotland on Sunday page 4)

Scotland and Nato: The SNP is reportedly poised to drop its opposition to Nato after talks with Denmark and Norway, which share the SNP’s stance on nuclear weapons, but participate in the defence alliance. The move is seen as an attempt by the Party to address thorny issues regarding Scotland’s defence and security should independence be achieved. These issues include the status of the Trident submarine base and the division of military assets. (Financial Times page 3)

Gay marriage poll: In a poll conducted by Ipsos Mori, more than two-thirds of Scots believe religious organisations should have the right to decide whether to conduct same-sex marriages. 64% also support same-sex marriage. However, nearly two thirds of those who participated in the Scottish government’s public consultation did so to speak out against gay marriage. The poll comes as the Scottish government plans to announce proposals for marriage equality. (The Herald page 11, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, The Times page 2)

Donation fine: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has been fined for failing to declare a donation on time. She was the first MSP to be fined by the Electoral Commission for the offence. (The Times page 6, The Sun page 2, The Sunday Herald page 5, Daily Mail page 12)

Economy

Robin Hood Tax: According to Oxfam, a majority of MSPs support introducing a “Robin Hood” tax on financial transactions. Support comes from members of the SNP, Labour, and the Greens. Campaigners claim the tax could raise £20 billion in the UK and £250bn worldwide each year. The proposed tax on financial transactions faces opposition from Conservatives and the British Bankers’ Association who argue this could drive away business. (The Scotsman page 11)

Education

University fines: Scottish universities may face fines from the Scottish Funding Council for over-recruiting publicly-funded students. The move comes as an attempt to close the loophole for Northern Irish students. Under EU regulations, if Northern Irish students take up their right to dual citizenship with the Irish Republic, they can apply as EU students and are not subject to paying fees. Publicly-funded places are strictly controlled while fee-paying places are not. (The Herald page 5)

Parenting strategy: The Scottish Government will launch the National Parenting Strategy to ensure that Scotland’s parents and carers get the support they need. Speaking about the initiative in The Sunday Times, the minister for children and young people Aileen Campbell writes about the roles dads play in their children’s upbringing. Work with fathers found that most wanted to be more involved in their children’s lives but felt that activities and services were designed for mothers, making them feel excluded. She also urges an evaluation of the role employers can play in enabling dads to balance the world of work and parenthood. (The Sunday Times page 23, The Sunday Times page 13)

Justice

Drink drive limit: Scottish government figures found that total convictions for drink driving had fallen by over a third between March 2008 and March 2012. This announcement led to calls from the Institute of Advanced Motorists to halt proposals to lower the drink-drive limit further. The Institute claims this could stretch police resources and target drivers who are not a risk to others. (The Scotsman page 7, Press and Journal page 11)

Legal action against Fred Goodwin: Former Royal Bank of Scotland chief Fred Goodwin cold face legal action over decisions taken which led to the bank’s collapse.  An inquiry ordered by the Business Secretary Vince Cable was reported to have concluded that there is “prosecutable evidence.” The report will be sent to Scottish authorities who will decide on further action. (The Scotsman page 6)