Reform Scotland News: 2 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

Scottish Labour: A YouGov poll has found that a high proportion of voters surveyed described Scottish Labour as “Out of touch” (35 per cent), “Incompetent” (29 per cent) and “Boring” (26 per cent). A Labour party spokesperson responded, saying: “We knew when we lost the Scottish Parliament elections in 2011 that people wanted us to change. That’s why in the past year, we’ve seen real change in our party that’s helped us get closer to people and communities across the country.” (Scotsman page 10)

Referendum: Labour MSP Michael McMahon has written to the SNP asking them to abandon any prospect of a second question in an independence referendum. An SNP spokesperson responded that there was widespread support across Scotland for a second question, and that notion could not be summarily dismissed. (Scotsman page 10)

Independence: A YouGov survey of 1,029 Scottish adults over four days from 17 July has found that support for independence has fallen by three percent from the beginning of the year, to 30%. Support for union, meanwhile, has increased by one point to 54%. (Times page 15, FT page 4, Daily Express page 25, Sun page 10)

Scotland publicity: Alex Salmond has been criticised for his decision to use an upmarket London club as his base for promoting Scotland to the world during the Olympics, at a cost of £400,000, when the Scotland Office could have been used for free. Visits to the Scottish representation have also reportedly been lower than anticipated, with most visitors being officials transported down from Scotland. (Herald page 6, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)

Whitehall staff: The Taxpayers’ Alliance has criticise the UK government over increased staff numbers, accrued over the first three months of this year, in seven Whitehall departments, despite sharp cuts elsewhere. (Scotsman page 16, Daily Record page 15)

Army pensions: Armed forces personnel will now have to work 20 years, up from 18, before being eligible to claim an army pension. The pension rate will also be reduced for younger retirees, until they reach the state pension age of 67. The cuts will affect those retiring in 10 years’ time, with middle-ranking officers set to lose an average of £250,000 of their retirement income. Sergeants and corporals will lose £25,000. (Daily Express page 8)

Zipwire: London Mayor Boris Johnson was left dangling 30ft above ground yesterday as he lost momentum gliding along a zipwire as part of an Olympic event. (Scotsman page 7, Iain MacWhirter in the Herald page 13, Telegraph page 5, Daily Express page 5, Sun page 6, Guardian page 9, Mail page 9)

Same sex marriage police complaint: A man from the Northeast has submitted a complaint to Grampian Police over the Scottish government’s plans to introduce same sex marriage.  He claims that there is no justification for the change and felt the SNP was causing “profound and sustained annoyance by wrongdoing”.  However, groups involved in both sides of the debate have commented that the complaint is wasting police time. (P&J page 12)

Economy

RBS: Ministers are considering plans to buy out private RBS investors in order to fully nationalise the bank, amid frustrations over banks’ failure to increase lending to businesses. (FT page 1)

Recession: The Bank of England and the ECB are facing pressure to increase their course of quantitative easing in the autumn, amid concerns over a deepening recession, low spending on the high street, and poor performances in the UK manufacturing sector. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 15, FT page 3)

Film industry: Glasgow is to be the setting of Hollywood’s latest instalment in the Fast and Furious series, with significant economic benefits predicted by Glasgow City Council. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 5)

Olympics: The Olympics have failed to deliver the economic boost that had been forecasted for the UK high street, with many businesses and attractions in London registering declines in visitors of up to 40% compared with last year (Scotsman page 6, FT page 4, Telegraph page 8)

Ferries: Ferry staff are threatening to strike amid concerns that the Scottish government may seek to privatise certain routes in 2013. (Herald page 1)

Education

Internships: The Scottish Government has announced funding to support 110 graduates seeking internships which will serve as a stepping-stone into employment, in recognition of emerging trends in the graduate labour market. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6)

A southern exodus: Applications to UK universities by students from southern Euro-zone countries are up 150%, as youth from crisis-struck countries seek to escape the economic gloom and low employment prospects in their home countries. (Telegraph page 12)

Local government

Edinburgh properties: The Edinburgh Council looks set to axe its property conservation department and radically reform the system for building repairs in the city, as several department staff were dismissed or suspended in the wake of a corruption investigation. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 5)

South Lanarkshire finances: It has been reported that the former finance chief of South Lanarkshire council, whose department lost £100,000 of taxpayers’ money in a case of bank details fraud, received severance payments of up to £500,000. (Daily Record page 11)

Health

Health records research: £19m have been put up by a government-charities partnership towards the creation of four new centres of excellence in electronic health research due to be set up by the end of the year in London, Manchester, Swansea, and Dundee. (Herald page 5)