Reform Scotland News: 9 July 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 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

Lords reform vote: The debate on House of Lords reform may divide the coalition, as 100 Tory back-benchers are expected to rebel on the issue, joining with Labour to vote against the reform. The proposed reform would create an upper house where 80% of the peers are elected. Senior Lib Dems have warned that if the bill is blocked, they will oppose Tory-led reforms in education and boundary changes. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 7, The Sunday Times page 7, The Guardian page 4)

Independence poll: A poll conducted by TNS BMRB indicates that 50% of those polled would vote against independence, with only 20% voting for. The poll was conducted after both the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns were launched. Voters were also asked to choose between independence, more powers, and the status quo. An increase in support for additional powers was indicated while both independence and anti-independence lost points from previous polls. (The Herald page 1)

Referendum ballot: Margo MacDonald, the Independent MSP who is a former SNP member and supporter of independence, has criticised Alex Salmond’s equivocation on the inclusion of a third option and the hasty nature of the Yes campaign, which she described as having “no shape, no boundaries, no premise.” Writing in The Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch encourages Independent MSP Margo MacDonald to join the Yes Scotland campaign as a counterweight to the SNP dominated effort. (The Herald page 7, Daily Mail page 10, The Times page 13, Daily Express page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Eddie Barnes in Scotland on Sunday)

Yes Scotland Advisory Board: The Advisory Board for the Yes campaign has been announced. The board will be chaired by Dennis Canavan, a former Labour MP and Independent MSP and will include singer Pat Kane, chef Andrew Fairlie, fitness expert Sarah-Jane Walls. The board will also include SNP supporter and actress Elaine C Smith, property developer Dan Macdonald, Deputy Leader Nicola Sturgeon and SNP executive member Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. (The Sunday Herald page 18)

Gay marriage vote: Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, warned that plans to legalise gay marriage in Scotland would lead to an unprecedented backlash by the church. The Scottish government is expected to announce the outcome of its consultation later this month. Should the consultation move forward, the bill could be introduced to the Scottish Parliament in 2013. (The Sunday Times page 1, The Times page 17, Daily Record page 9, The Sun page 2)

Public opinion on Europe: A YouGov survey found that two-thirds of respondents want a referendum on continued membership of the European Union within the next few years. Almost half would pull out today if given the choice. The Fresh Start group, founded by a group of Tory MPs, have demanded that the UK renegotiate terms on justice, energy, agriculture and defence. (The Sun page 8)

Wimbledon final: Prime Minister David Cameron and First Minister Alex Salmond attended yesterday’s match, cheering for Andy Murray. A Scottish Saltire joined the Union Jack above Downing Street to show support for the Scottish player. (The Herald page 3)

Economy

Bank lending: Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable noted that banks are “throttling” the UK’s economic recovery by refusing to lend to small firms. The Bank of England has attempted to boost the economy through quantitative easing, in which more funds are released to banks in the hope that they are passed on to businesses. However, critics of the policy have argued that the banks have hoarded money. (The Scotsman page 8)

Employment figures: The Bank of Scotland Purchasing Managers’ Index found growth in the manufacturing and service sector as well as an increase in employment. However, the widespread slowdown in the United Kingdom and the Eurozone crisis pose a threat to Scottish exports. (The Times page 13)

Shipyard closure: BAE Systems has drawn up plans to shutter the Govan shipyard and Portsmouth dockyard in an effort to consolidate its naval operations. BAE is planning an overhaul of its naval operations in response to a lack of orders from the Ministry of Defence. (The Sunday Times page 2)

Scottish banking: Former SNP Treasurer Ian Blackford urged the First Minister to create Scotland’s own financial rules and regulations, citing the failure of the Bank of England and its partner institutions to prevent scandals like those seen at Barclays. He proposes a separation between commercial and investment banking which would encourage economic growth and allow the investment industry to rebuild trust. Under this system, “casino banks” would be allowed to fail. (The Sunday Times page 21).

Tax breaks for trees: Scottish government advisor Dr Andrew Cameron has advised that a tax break, which would allow wealthy landowners and investors to plant trees in exchange for tax offsets, would help Scotland meet its forest coverage goals. (The Sunday Times page 4)

Education

University access reform: The Scottish Funding Council is in the process of drafting agreements with Scottish universities around the maintenance of key courses and access. However, Universities Scotland, which represents the country’s 18 principals, has criticised the process as “rushed and poorly managed.” (The Scotsman page 15)

League tables: League tables which detailed the difference in achievement between the cleverest pupils from both affluent and deprived areas have led to renewed calls to provide financial incentives for strong teachers to join struggling schools. Education Secretary Michael Russell said he was “sympathetic” to the idea. (The Herald page 11)

Justice

Lost paperwork thwarts prosecution: 1,939 criminal cases were dropped last year because the police failed to file the paperwork on time. Labour justice spokesman Lewis Macdonald blamed the 40% increase on police cuts and job losses. (The Scotsman page 8)

Health

NHS prescriptions: A dossier compiled by Scottish Conservatives found that doctors were prescribing toothpaste, sun cream, and plasters. They warned that the free prescription system was being abused. The cost of free prescriptions has increased £36m since the charges were abolished last year. (The Scotsman page 8, The Sunday Times page 1, Daily Record page 16, Daily Express page 5, The Sun page 2)