Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 13 August 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.
Scottish referendum and the Olympics: Campaigns for and against Scottish independence were quick to seize on the Olympics spirit. The Yes campaign pointed to a Panelbase poll which indicated that 12% of those surveyed felt that the success of Scottish athletes made them more sympathetic to the Yes campaign. Labour MP Douglas Alexander countered that the success of Team GB encouraged Scots to “celebrate again what we share across the United Kingdom” (The Scotsman page 10, Daily Record page 15, Sunday Times page 11)
Olympics: Douglas Alexander in the Scotsman comments on the impact that Olympics success will have on the campaign for independence.
Olympics and Scottish Identity: Iain Macwhirter in the Sunday Herald comments on the identity crisis faced by Scottish athletes and the ability of Scotland to maintain the level of investment in sport should independence be achieved.
Scottish team in Rio?: Sir Craig Reedie, a member of the International Olympic Committee, noted that if Scotland voted for independence, they would not be able to send an independent team to Rio due to the length of negotiations and the need to secure international recognition. A Scottish government spokesperson contested the statement, pointing out that Montenegro became an independent state in 2006 and was recognised by the IOC just one year later. (The Times page 14, Daily Telegraph page 14, Scotland on Sunday page 1)
Henry McLeish on independence: In an appearance at the Edinburgh Book Festival, former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish said that independence might be the “shock” needed to boost Scottish confidence. He emphasised that he remained opposed to independence, but urged his party to embrace a third option for greater devolved power. (The Scotsman page 14)
Alex Salmond and Devo-Max: Private correspondence obtained by the Herald reportedly shows that the First Minister’s office has been helping campaigners pushing for a devo-max option on the ballot. Publicly, the First Minister has maintained his preference for a single question while leaving the door open to changes. Leaked documents indicate correspondence between Mr Salmond’s special advisor and Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, regarding Unite members’ support for a second question. (The Herald page 5). An Editorial in the Herald comments on the release of the emails.
Scottish government risk register: The Scottish government has compiled a “risk register” of hypothetical outcomes of independence. The Government has refused Freedom of Information requests for the public release of this register, noting that it is “based on what might hypothetically happen rather than fact” (The Daily Telegraph page 16, Scottish Daily Mail page 20, Sunday Herald page 12)
Conservative unionist support: The Conservative Friends of the Union campaign has reportedly attracted 10,000 supporters and a £100,000 war chest. Tory leader Ruth Davidson has embarked on a Scotland-wide tour to drum up support for the grassroots campaign. (The Sunday Times page 15)
Nato: Ian Bell in the Sunday Herald weighs in on SNP proposals to drop their historic opposition to independence.
Scottish growth: Donald MacRae, chief economist at the Bank of Scotland, reported that Scotland’s economy faces either low or no growth for the rest of the year as the global financial crisis continues to affect jobs and investment. (The Scotsman page 16, The Herald page 26)
West Coast rail bids: Unions warned that the likely success of FirstGroup in securing the franchise for the West Coast route will lead to job cuts, increased fees, and reduced services for passengers. According to reports, FirstGroup is thought to have offered £6.5-£7billion for the 14-year franchise period, outbidding Virgin Trains by more than $1billion. Virgin Trains may mount a legal challenge, arguing that FirstGroup’s bid could only come at the cost of services. (The Herald page 4, Daily Express page 22, The Daily Telegraph page 31, Scottish Daily Mail page 21)
Parental drinking: A campaign by Children 1st has been launched to expose the risks of alcohol fuelled violence. The campaign is in response to Scottish government figures which found up to 93,000 youngsters are adversely affected by their parents’ alcohol misuse. (The Scotsman page 15)
Skin cancer treatments: A study at Strathclyde University has discovered how melanin, the naturally occurring pigment which acts as a sunscreen, is structured. This discovery could offer clues as to what causes the development of malignant melanomas, allowing for more effective diagnosis and treatment. (The Herald page 9)
Tranquiliser abuse: The use of Diazepam, a tranquiliser, is soaring in Scotland. The drug, often known as Valium, is used by professionals and housewives to subdue stress and control anxiety as well as used by young people as a recreational drug. Users are increasingly turning to the internet for their supply, and senior police officers warn that the drug is often contaminated and especially hazardous when mixed with alcohol. In 2010, it was involved in 93 (19%) of the country’s 485 drug deaths. (The Sunday Times page 15)
Quango spending: Scottish Enterprise, the organization charged with promoting investment in Scotland, reportedly increased its hospitality spending from £607,000 in 2010-2011 to over £757,000 in 2011-2012. (The Scotsman page 15)