Reform Scotland News: 16 July 2012

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 16 July 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


Cardinal calls for gay marriage referendum: As government ministers met to discuss next steps on legislation which would recognise gay marriage, Cardinal Keith O’Brien called for a referendum on the subject. The consultation conducted by the Scottish government received a record number of responses from both opponents and supporters. Cardinal O’Brien suggested that a vote on gay marriage was just as important as the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence. Muslim leaders have joined the opposition to gay marriage, warning deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon that the SNP would lose the support of the community should the government push forward legislation. Representatives of Stonewall Scotland and the Equality Network spoke out against the proposed move, pointing to public support for gay marriage, support from MSPs, and the anti-democratic nature of a referendum on public policy. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Sunday Times page 7, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 8, Daily Mail page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 6, The Times page 15)

Second question debate: Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson and Professor Stephen Tierney have questioned the idea of a second question on the referendum ballot. The Scottish Independence Convention also strongly opposes a second question. First Minister Alex Salmond has previously hinted that he’d be open to the inclusion of a question which would see enhanced powers for the Scottish Parliament while remaining within the Union, something which appears to have support amongst the public and sections of civic Scotland. Mr. Wilson described a second question as a “cop-out” and Prof. Tierney warned that the inclusion of a second question could lead to criticisms about the legitimacy of the vote. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 4, The Sunday Herald page 12, The Times page 15)

Challenges for Alex Salmond: Writing in the Sunday Times, Gillian Bowditch described the “summertime blues” faced by the First Minister, citing polls which indicate declining support for independence, a study oil which forecast reduced oil revenues and a ruling by information commissioner Rosemary Agnew that indicated that the SNP had “failed” to comply with freedom of information legislation requests regarding the status of Scotland in Europe. Upcoming challenges include the debate over the inclusion of a second question on the referendum ballot and the possibility of intense resistance to gay marriage legislation. (The Sunday Times page 19)

Coalition rift: As Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, predicted the collapse of the coalition before the General Election in 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron admitted that there are “profound areas of disagreement” between Conservatives and their Liberal Democrat coalition partners. However, he insisted that the coalition is the best means of addressing pressing economic and political challenges. Sources inside the Liberal Democratic Party note that Nick Clegg is being encouraged to make a dignified compromise on Lords reform, trading his demands for elections to the House of Lords for an end to hereditary peers, tougher sanctions against wrongdoers, and a reduction in numbers. Further disagreement has emerged over the Scottish referendum, with sources indicating that Mr. Clegg was left out of discussions over the referendum timetable and the possibility of a Westminster-run referendum. (The Sunday Times page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 17)

Qatari laird: Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al Thani, the Emir of Qatar and the world’s richest man is searching for a highland estate to purchase. His staff reportedly contacted the First Minister, whom Mr. Al-Thani met during Alex Salmond’s official visit to Qatar last year, for assistance in locating an estate in which appropriate security measures could be put in place. (The Sunday Times page 7)

Rangers: Calls have been made for Stewart Regan, head of the Scottish Football Association, to stand down over the handling of the demotion of Rangers to the Third Division. Mr. Regan had pushed for the Rangers to be placed in the First Division despite the vote by Scottish clubs. (The Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 1)


Scottish police force: The post of Chief Constable of the new single Scottish police force will open for applications this week and several female officers are amongst the eight individuals who have expressed interest in the force. Judith Gillespie, the deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Justine Curran, chief constable of Tayside police are expected to apply for the job. The assistant commissioner of the Met, Cressida Dick, is also rumoured to be considering an application. (The Sunday Times page 9, The Daily Record page 14)

Scots law: Frank Mulholland QC, Scotland’s most senior prosecutor, launched an attack on the country’s legal system, branding it “sexist and discriminatory.” He called for an end to the centuries-old law of corroboration, in which two sources of evidence are provided to establish that a crime was committed. Mr. Mulholland explained that the requirement disproportionately affects women who are the victims of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence as these crimes typically happen away from witnesses and cameras. The Carloway review found that in 80% of the cases studied, proceedings were not taken because of the lack of corroboration. (The Sunday Times page 1)

ETA terrorist caught: Benat Atorrasagasti Ordonez, a Basque separatist, was captured on Friday after 11 years on the run. He had been living in Edinburgh under an assumed name with his wife and two children. Mr. Ordonez is expected to be extradited to Spain to face charges there. (The Scotsman page 15, The Herald page 5, Daily Mail page 5)


Negligence payout: Scots health chiefs paid £70 million to parents of babies who died or were left disabled by maternity unit blunders over the past two years. Thirty cases of negligence were settled between 2009 and 2011, with 100 claims outstanding. (The Sun page 2, The Times page 5)