Reform Scotland News: 24 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

Due to the upcoming Bank Holiday Monday, please note that there will be no media summary on 27th August.

Politics

“Vanity project” criticised: Alex Salmond has been criticised by opposition leaders for spending £400,000 of taxpayers’ money on the hiring of Pall Mall pavilion during the Olympic games.  It was later revealed that Scotland House failed to attract a single deal, but a Scottish government spokesman said “It provided a platform for making connections and taking forward conversations”. (The Herald page 2)

SNP faces same-sex marriage protestors: Campaigners gathered outside Renfrew Town Hall yesterday, where an SNP question and answer session was being held, organised by the “Scotland for marriage” group, backed by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.  Supporters of the “No to Nato” campaign were also present, in an attempt to voice their opposition to the SNP ditching its long-standing opposition to Nato. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 6, The Times page 13, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 11, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 21)

Devo-max option no problem: Perth MP Pete Wishart has declared that there would not be any problem with a devo-max option in the Independence referendum, affirming that there is “no inbuilt hostility” to this in the SNP.  However, despite this revelation, Alex Salmond is reportedly still deciding whether to back its inclusion. (The Scotsman page 6)

Morale in armed services hits record low: Thanks to major changes in the British armed forces, including government defence cuts, and 18,000 army job losses; morale has hit its lowest level in four years. Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said “These figures are a real worry and a terrible reflection of this government’s defence policy…The whole country will now expect David Cameron to sit up, listen and change course in response to this worrying trend.” (The Scotsman page 7, The Herald page 2)

Past privacy rulings stop papers printing Prince Harry images: A request from St James’s Palace, made via the Press Complaints Commission, asked the press to respect Prince Harry’s privacy. It has been claimed that it was only due to a number of high profile court cases involving celebrities and the Leveson inquiry that prevented the photos being published, as these dealings had “neutered” the press, changing the way it handled privacy. Despite this, the Sun became the first British newspaper to publish the photos, claiming there was “clear public interest” to do so. (The Scotsman page 20, The Herald page 7, The Daily Telegraph page 1, P&J page 12)

Next day release for abusers: New figures show that one quarter of Men arrested for domestic violence are being released the next day, putting women at further risk of abuse. Deputy Chief Constable Campbell Corrigan of Strathclyde Police said “Reoffending rates for domestic abuse are 60% to 62%.  We want to tackle reoffending and change behaviour.” (The Herald page 2)

Council urged to reconsider Aberdeen Union Garden’s redevelopment: Alex Salmond and Donald Trump united in anger over the rejection of a £50 million offer to regenerate Aberdeen’s city centre park, calling the decision “shocking” and “deeply disappointing”. The plan would have been financed by prominent businessmen, including oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood.  Instead, councillors voted for an alternative proposal, which sought to invest in additional buildings around the city centre. (The Herald page 9, The Times page 12, Daily Record page 10, P&J page 1)

Honour for Chris Hoy:  Sir Chris Hoy is to be granted the prestigious honour of freedom of his home city, granted by councillors in Edinburgh. (The Times page 6, Daily Express page 14, P&J page 23)

NATO:  George Kerevan in The Scotsman comments on why an Independent Scotland must stay in Nato.

Economy

Diageo whisky boss insists Independence won’t affect investment: Paul Walsh, Chief Executive of Diageo, has suggested that Independence will make no difference, as potential investments should be judged on economic rather than constitutional grounds, but has asserted that he does not wish to enter into a political debate.  However, the SNP have used this affirmation to hit back at anti-Independence activists, calling their arguments “hollow”. (The Scotsman page 6, The Times page 13, Daily Express page 12, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 21)

Anger over boast about boost for pensions: Bank of England chief Mervyn King claimed that the bank’s quantitative easing scheme had boosted pensions, with a report claiming that households were on average £10,000 better off as a result. However, the Director General of Saga, Ros Altman, revealed that the Bank’s report did not address the 21 million over-50s who are said to be negatively impacted by the scheme. (Daily Express page 2)

Banking:  Peter Geoghegan in The Scotsman comments on how the economic crisis has prompted roughly 80,000 thousand people a month to move their money from the Big Five banks, believing that Britain’s banks should re-localise, creating branches that are adapted to the economic and social needs of their specific areas.

Health

Foreign patient leave NHS hefty unpaid bill: Health tourists have left Scottish NHS boards with a bill of almost £1 million over the last four years.  These patients came from a variety of countries, such as Brazil, Pakistan, South Africa and the US, and covered a huge range of treatments, such as eye tests, heart care and maternity services. Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw suggested that the NHS operate a pre-payment system, whereby non-resident UK patients receiving non-emergency care should be made to pay up front; as a means of “clamping down” on the situation.  Mr Carlaw further commented: “Our NHS may be the envy of the world, but that does not mean the world can have a piece without paying its way.” (The Scotsman page 15, Sun page 8, Daily Express page 4)

Methadone addicts “risk brain damage”: The methadone programme, which offers methadone to heroin addicts as a means of weaning them off the drug, is said to cost the nation £36 million a year, and could potentially cause brain damage. (The Times page 1)

Education

Rise in English students coming to Scotland: Due to cut-price fees of £6,841 a year, Scotland’s Universities have seen a 26 per cent increase in the number of English and Welsh students accepting places, whilst England has seen a drop of 26,000 in its native students, a fall of 8 per cent from last year. Although Scottish Universities have seen a 0.2 per cent drop in Scottish students, Education Secretary Mike Russell said that “higher results day saw record numbers of Scottish students accepted at that point to Scottish Universities.” He quashed claims that Scottish students are missing out, assuring the public that the government had moved to “protect” places for native students, saying “there is absolutely no question that a student from England or Wales could take the place of a Scottish student.” (The Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 5)

Transport

Cameron shifts stance on Heathrow plans: David Cameron is under pressure to appoint a new transport secretary after he reportedly shifted his stance and is now more supportive of the expansion of Heathrow. (Financial Times page 1)