Reform Scotland News: 2 July 2012


Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 2 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


A referendum on Europe: Dr Liam Fox, the former defence secretary, is expected to demand that the government start drawing up a list of powers the UK wants handed back from Brussels.  Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that the case for a referendum on Britain’s role in Europe would be “very, very powerful” should Europe move towards a more federal model. However, he cautioned that a vote would not take place until it became clear how the EU would evolve in response to the Eurozone crisis. Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged that the UK’s position on an evolving EU needed input from voters and hoped that the current period of transition would allow the UK to win back powers from Brussels. However, he said that a referendum would have to wait until after the 2015 elections due to resistance from Liberal Democrat coalition partners, a move which was met with criticism by Tory MPs who sought a firm commitment to the vote. (The Scotsman page 8, Drew Scott in the Scotsman, The Herald page 6, Financial Times page 3, Daily Express page 1, The Times page 3, Daily Telegraph page 1, Sunday Times page 1, The Guardian page 9, Scottish Daily Mail page 9)

Devo-max question: Questions remain over whether First Minister Alex Salmond will push for a third option on the referendum ballot. It has reportedly come to light that Mr Salmond described the devo-max option, which would enhance the power of the Scottish Parliament as “very attractive” and a “first step” towards independence during a speech in San Francisco. However, Blair Jenkins, the new chief of the Yes Scotland campaign, has said that he is campaigning only for independence, leading to rumours of a split within the Yes campaign. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 6, The Times page 3, Daily Record page 2, Sunday Herald page 4)

Better Together campaign: Better Together, the campaign against independence, have noted that women hold the key to the referendum plans as polls indicate that women are much more sceptical than men about independence. The group hopes to harness “female chattiness” to get people on board. The Yes Campaign will also attempt to woo women with micro-targeting. However, plans could backfire if the campaigns become too aggressive in their attempts to engage people. Writing in the Sunday Times, Gillian Bowditch criticised both campaigns for their failure to appeal to “cool heads,” focusing on sentiment rather than providing an authoritative analysis of outstanding questions. (Daily Express page 4, Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times)

Scottish Secretary reshuffle: Jo Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, is being proposed as a possible replacement for Michael Moore as Scottish Secretary in a Westminster reshuffle expected over the summer. Ms Swinson, 32, was the youngest MP in the Commons and served as Nick Clegg’s parliamentary private secretary. (Daily Express page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 2)


Bank-rate rigging: Barclays Chairman Marcus Agius is expected to resign today over the rigging of inter-bank lending rates. Chief executive Bob Diamond will face questions from the UK Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee about his personal involvement in the scandal and his position remains uncertain. Four RBS staff members have been fired over their involvement in the controversy and Chancellor George Osborne has confirmed that HSBC, RBS, Citigroup, and UBS are under investigation for their involvement. Allegations of misconduct were shared with US and UK central banks and regulators in 2007. However, the FSA did not begin investigating until 2010, when the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission provided strong evidence of the manipulation. Head of the Financial Services Authority Lord Turner said yesterday that the FSA should consider “whether we should strengthen these powers considerably.” A new rule outlined by the FSA may prohibit the directors of banks which collapse from ever working in the financial services industry again, an initiative designed to act as a deterrent to bank directors.  (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, Andrew McKie in the Herald, Financial Times page 1, Daily Express page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 4, Daily Record page 2, Sun page 6, The Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1)

Credit rate warning: Caledonian Trust has warned that an independent Scotland would face a credit rating as low as those of Slovakia, Chile and South Korea, falling from AAA to A+ or A1. The rating change could have an impact on economic growth and borrowing as well as the interest rate for consumers. (The Sunday Times page 7)

Young adults need parental help: A study published by the Bank of Scotland found that more young Scots are relying on handouts from their parents as they enter the working world, a fact attributed to the uncertain economic climate and the rising costs of leaving the family home. Parents provide assistance with university costs and down payments on their first home as well as with day to day expenses. (The Herald page 11)


Boys reading rates decline: According to a new report by the National Literacy Trust, boys are less likely to read than girls, and when they do read, they do so at a lower degree of literacy. The NLT attributes the decline to parental encouragement and the presence or absence of reading role models. (The Scotsman page 10)

Scottish school confidence: Findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey indicate that confidence in Scotland’s education system have dropped to a record low since the SNP entered office. Scots believe that classroom standards have fallen. A quarter attributes the decline in education, health services, and public transport to the Scottish government, while half blame Westminster. (The Sunday Times page 4)

University access scheme: The £1.8 million scheme to increase the number of Scottish students from deprived areas entering professions has fallen short of expectations. The scheme has recruited just 23 extra medical students, 29 additional lawyers, six architects, five vets, and three dentists. St Andrews, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh have also faced criticism for their failure to recruit students from diverse social backgrounds. (The Herald page 7)

English students in Scotland: English students could be allowed to study at Scottish universities with lower grades than their Scottish classmates. While government-funded places for Scots are filling up, the fall in English applications following the introduction of fees could translate into more places for lower performing students from England. Lord Forsyth accused the universities of discriminating against the English financially and the Scots academically. (The Sunday Times page 1)


Scottish speed limits: The motorway speed limit in Scotland will remain the same as Westminster considers increasing the speed limit in the rest of the UK from 70 to 80 miles per hour on the motorways. The Scottish government has competence over Scottish roads but has come under criticism from the opposition. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 7, The Times page 8)