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Reform Scotland News: 14 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.

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

Brown speaks out against devo-max: Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spoken out against devo-max in the annual Donald Dewar Lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, saying the option would lead to a “race to the bottom” in the management of pensions and tax, with adverse implications for the Scottish public sector in a more fiscally devolved Scotland. Gordon Brown also criticised the SNP’s plans to maintain sterling in an independent Scotland, saying it would create a “colonial” relationship with the UK. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 3, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 2, Record page 4, Express page 2, Mail page 2, Guardian page 1, P&J page 15, Courier page 2)

The SNP and NATO: Rifts are reportedly appearing in the SNP over the issue of NATO membership. Alex Salmond and others in the party leadership back a proposed policy reversal, which would see Scotland applying for NATO membership should the country gain independence. Many in the party remain opposed to such a change, and plan to use a conference run by the SNP CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, a 1000-member group) on 25 August to discuss strategies for maintaining the status quo against NATO membership. (Scotsman page 5)

Scottish Tories: Andrew Whitaker in the Scotsman comments that Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson should start to propose a viable alternative for the future of the party, if the Conservatives are to reverse their 20-year trend of decline.

Independence and the Olympics: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments against the “hijacking” of sports triumphs by politicians on both sides of the independence debate.

SNP and the House of Lords: Research conducted by the SNP in Westminster shows that the staff of nearly a third of peers in the House of Lords have links to lobbying firms. The party has used these findings to condemn the coalition’s abandoning of plans for Lords reform just a few days ago and to question the functioning of Westminster more broadly. (Herald page 6)

Trident: The Welsh cabinet has discussed the possibility of assuming the UK’s Trident nuclear capability should Scotland become independent. The SNP has made it clear that an independent Scotland would not wish to continue playing host to Trident. (Herald page 6)

Willie Rennie attacks charities body: The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats has accused the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisation, which represents Scotland’s charities, of being little more than a “front organisation” for the SNP government, after the leaking of a private email between an advisor to Alex Salmond and the head of the SCVO which would suggest that the SNP was trying to use the SCVO to coordinate action in favour of a second question in an independence referendum. (Herald page 7, Telegraph page 12)

Economy

Train protests: A “day of action” has been launched today by unions, transport campaigners and rail passenger groups, ahead of planned announcements of rail fare increases. The increased fares are in line with the permission recently granted by the government to raise fares by 3% more than retail price index inflation. Protesters plan to target Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central stations. (Scotsman page 15, Record page 6)

Fuel poverty: A Scottish government report has warned that fuel poverty, defined as households spending more than 10% of their income on energy, may rise to affect the average household this year.  More even than the 800 000 households  were thought to have been affected by the issue last winter. (Herald page 2, Times page 15, Telegraph page 8, Sun page 2, P&J page 13

Education

Funding for law students: Student leaders from ten Scottish universities offering law degrees have written a letter to Education Secretary Michael Russell, urging him to reconsider the Scottish Government’s decision not to offer student maintenance loans to law students completing the vital Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (DPLP). The diploma is awarded after a year-long course that is not formally part of an LLB, but that is required in order to formally enter the legal profession. The demands are part of a wider campaign to increase the profession’s diversity. (Herald page 9)

Frustrated teachers: Alex Wood in the Herald comments on the anger and pessimism of Scottish teachers ahead of the new term, as they are faced with implementing the new Curriculum for Excellence amid budget cuts and school reorganisations.

Health

Prostate cancer drug: A drug used to prolong the life of patients suffering from prostate cancer, thought to be the drug used to sustain Abdelbasset Al-Megrahi, convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, has been approved for use and coverage by the NHS, after years of requests from pressure groups and charities. (Herald page 3, Times page 11, Telegraph page 10, Sun page 2, Record page 8, Express page 7, P&J page 12)