Reform Scotland News: 23 July 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 23 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

Politics

Gender & the referendum: According to a poll carried out for the Sunday Times and Real Radio, once undecided voters are excluded, 51 per cent of men are in favour of independence, while 62 per cent of women are against it.  Overall support for independence stood at 36 per cent, with 45 per cent opposed and 20 per cent undecided. (Sunday Times page 1, The Herald page 6, Rosemary Goring in the Herald, Daily Express page 4, Press & Journal page 12, Scottish Daily Mail page 8)

Olympic trade delegation: First Minister Alex Salmond will lead a Scottish Government trade delegation to the Olympics in a bid to drum up business for Scotland. Based out of Scotland House, the initiative will focus on reaching major UK and overseas companies which do not currently have operations in Scotland. (The Herald page 1)

Glasgow Tories: Malcolm Macaskill, who was removed from the top of the Conservative Party’s Glasgow list just before the start of the 2011 election campaign, has reportedly received a five-figure payout from the party after threatening to sue over the handling of his removal from the list.  He was replaced at the top of the list by Ruth Davidson, now leader of the party in Scotland. (Sunday Herald page 10, The Times page 9)

Gay marriage: David Cameron is reportedly ready to reassure the Scottish government that the Scottish government’s proposals on gay marriage would not leave churches open to prosecution under the UK Equality Act.  (Sunday Times page 8, Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times)

SNP & NATO: A YouGov poll has suggested that three-quarters of Scots believe that an independent Scotland should remain in NATO.  The SNP’s leadership is reportedly trying to change its policy to allow membership of NATO. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Tom Peterkin in the Scotland on Sunday, Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald, The Times page 9)

Economy

Pressure on austerity measures:  In response to economic indicators that are expected to show a deepening of the double dip recession, the Institute for Public Policy Research, advocated a 2p cut in National Insurance, increased borrowing, and an abandonment of austerity measures. The think tank claims that cuts are worsening the recession by undermining confidence among businesses and consumers. Alex Salmond is expected to send a letter to Chancellor George Osborne endorsing a rethink of austerity plans. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, Bill Emmott in the Times)

Education

Charitable status of schools: An investigation for the Sunday Herald has shown that due to the charitable status of fee-paying schools in Scotland, while local authority schools have to pay full non-domestic rates, because many fee-paying schools are charities they receive an 80 per cent discount on their rates.  The investigation suggests the discount has saved private schools in the six local authority areas investigated £10m over three years. (Sunday Herald page 6)

Health

Whisky industry against minimum pricing: Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman admonishes the drinks industry for ignoring public opinion on outlawing cheap alcohol as a means of reducing crime and violent behaviour.

Justice

Border agency backlog: A report by the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has found that the UK Border Agency has a backlog of 275,000 missing foreign criminals, failed asylum seekers, and illegal immigrants. The Chairman of the committee Keith Vaz MP warned the backlog would take years to clear. (The Herald page 2, Financial Times page 4, The Sun page 1, The Guardian page 4, Scottish Daily Mail page 18)

Drugs: According to the statistics compiled by the European Monitoring Centre for Drug and Drug Addiction Scotland is the top of the European league table for illegal drug use.  (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Times page 16)

Local government

Housing: According to Geddes Consulting, the housing plans of the four main city regions 352,670 new homes will be needed over the next 12 years.  However, land capable of suiting only 173,000 new homes has been set aside, leaving a shortfall of 179,000 homes. (Scotland on Sunday page 9)

Transport

Railway alcohol curfew: Scotrail has introduced a night-time drinking ban on most of its trains this weekend. The rules restrict passengers from drinking or visibly carrying alcohol between 9pm and 10am. The ban was introduced in response to customers’ concerns over anti-social behaviour on trains. (The Herald page 3)