Reform Scotland News: 22 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
Legal advice on EU: The First Minister Alex Salmond went to court to prevent disclosure of legal advice pertaining to whether an independent Scotland would retain full EU membership, it emerged yesterday. The Scottish Government insists that attempts to keep such information from the public domain is normal practise, as with all legal advice given to ministers. (Times page 13, Sun page 1)

George Galloway:  Bradford West Respect MP George Galloway has sought to clarify marks he made regarding rape after receiving public criticism from his own party leader.  Mr Galloway had initially commented that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was merely accused of bad ‘sexual etiquette.(Herald page 1, Times page 15, Scotsman page 7, Sun page 2, Susan Boniface in the Express, Express page 14, Louise Mensch in the Telegraph page 23, Guardian page 1, P&J page 16)

Nato: Pat Kane, a prominent campaigner for Scottish independence and member of the Yes Scotland board, has criticised the SNP leadership’s attempts to reverse the party’s longstanding opposition to Nato as ‘not honourable’. However, he feels the issue is far from a deal-breaker as many of these issues would be contested at the first post-referendum election in an independent Scotland. (Herald page 2)

Michael Russell: Education Secretary Michael Russell yesterday retracted comments describing lawyers brought in to examine the legal aspects of an independent Scotland as a ‘kangaroo court’.  (Herald page 6, Times page 1, Scotsman page 10, Telegraph page 2)

SCVO:  Labour has entered the controversy over the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ (SCVO) links with the Scottish Government, insisting that such bodies must accept scrutiny. This comes after last week’s discovery of email communication between Michael Sime, SCVO chief executive and First Minister Alex Salmond about a second question on the referendum. (Herald page 6, Express page 27, Telegraph page 7)

Shipyards: Union leaders have said that Scottish independence could be a major threat to the Scottish shipbuilding sector because the UK may be reluctant to award defence contracts to a foreign country. The comment comes as the Ministry of Defence has delayed a decision on contracts for the Type 26 Frigate until after the independence referendum. (Express page 23)

Independent Scotland: Iain G Mitchell QC writes in the Scotsman that proponents of independence must convince voters that keeping sterling, membership of the European Union and banking regulations is realistic in an independent Scotland. (Scotsman page 11)

Voting age: Paul Gilbride in the Express suggests that moves by Alex Salmond to ensure that under 16 and 17 year olds are able to vote in the independence referendum are calculated to appeal to youngsters who want to change their world in an environment which appears to offer little hope to them.

Economy
Borrowing: Public sector borrowing reached £600m last month, leading to criticism of the UK Government’s economic strategy. Opposition leaders have said the news leaves plans to balance the books by 2015 in disarray. Borrowing in the first four months of the year was £9.3bn higher than the equivalent period last year whilst there was a 20% drop in the corporation tax take , according to official figures. (Times page 1, FT page 3Telegraph page 1, The Sun page 2 Herald page 6, Scotsman page 1)

Savings: The Family Finances Report has suggested that Scottish families are opting to pay off their debt at the expense of saving money. The average Scottish household has half the debt of the UK, with only 36% of Scots possessing a credit card compared to the UK average of 52%. (Herald page 8, Scotsman page 22, Sun page 4, Express page 4, P&J page 12)

Health
NHS abroad: Scottish doctors have warned that moves by the UK Government to allow English hospitals to expand abroad represent a further example of the ‘creeping commercialisation’ of public healthcare. (Scotsman page 18, FT page 2)

Transport
Airlines: Virgin hopes to launch its first routes between Glasgow and London Heathrow by next summer. The company hopes the new routes will act as a connection to its London-based transatlantic flights. (Herald page 12, Scotsman page 1)

Education
University of the Highlands & Islands: The University of the Highlands and Islands is to receive 1000 extra places, funded by the Scottish Government, as the Scottish government reportedly seeks to answer claims that Scottish students are missing out to students from the rest of the UK in the clearing system. (Scotsman page 15, P&J page 8)

EU and Free tuition: The number of students from the European Union taking up free Scottish university places rose 3.6% in the last year as Aberdeen and Stirling Universities confirm that no Scottish student will be offered a place on the 137 courses with places available. (Telegraph page 5)

Brian Wilson suggests in the Scotsman that the SNP’s policy of free university places for all is leading to Scottish universities limiting places to Scottish students and that the aim of policy regarding the issue should be centred on widening access to university education.