Reform Scotland News: 6 August 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 6 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

Referendum questions:  Alex Salmond is hoping to ensure that the referendum is legally binding by offering an adaptation to the wording which would make the result of a multi-question referendum clear. SNP ministers are drawn to wording which would first allow voters to vote yes or no on independence. Voters would then be asked if further powers should be introduced “if Scotland were to remain part of Britain.” Professor John Curtice who has been advising on the referendum question said that this would provide the clear choice David Cameron has asked for. (Sunday Times page 1, Daily Express page 4)

SNP Nato plans: Alex Salmond is facing dissent from within the party as he works to end the party’s historic opposition to Nato. Up to 12 SNP MSPs could join a campaign to urge the party to retain its stance against the defence alliance. At the party conference, SNP members will reportedly be asked to back a motion that an independent Scotland would “maintain Nato membership subject to an agreement that Scotland would not host nuclear weapons” (The Herald page 4, The Times page 13, Daily Record page 25)

Independent Scotland and intelligence: Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of Westminster’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said that Scotland would have to spend millions establishing a new security service should the independence referendum succeed. Oil and gas platforms might be a likely target for terrorists. In response to his remarks, a Scottish government spokesperson said that the proposed structure for the intelligence service would be outlined in a white paper to be issued next year. (Daily Express, page 8)

Orkney and Shetland: Alistair Carmichael, the MP for the Northern Isles, has insisted that the islanders may insist on their right to determine whether or not they’ll join an independent Scotland or remain with the United Kingdom. The islands have approximately one third of Scotland’s North Sea reserves which they might maintain if they stay in the United Kingdom. (The Herald page 4)

Coalition divorce: According to reports, key advisers to Prime Minister David Cameron and senior Tory backbenchers are exploring the option of a coalition divorce a year before the next election. The reports come as new figures indicate that the Lib Dems are losing support and dropping members. A survey of ConservativeHome members found that members fear that a lack of action on Europe and human rights is costing the Tories votes. A report by Lord Ashcroft suggested that grassroots members are leaning towards support for the UK Independence Party and proposing a deal between the two parties. (The Scotsman page 12, Sunday Times page 12)

Cameron’s successor: A YouGov poll indicates that London Mayor Boris Johnson has emerged as the voters’ favourite to take over as Tory leader after David Cameron. Mr. Johnson appears to have benefitted from the success of the Olympic Games. He is also reportedly being backed by major party donors who believe he is in a better position to lead. Mr. Cameron is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet in early September. (The Scotsman page 12, The Sunday Times page 1, Financial Times page 4)

MSP flat scheme: Former Scottish Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen has reportedly made almost £110,000 on a house purchased as part of the defunct Holyrood housing allowance scheme. The scheme once allowed MSPs to receive taxpayers’ money for mortgages and is now restricted to only rent. Green leader Patrick Harvie called for MSPs to pay back the profit from their sales. (The Scotsman page 18)

Political activity and public posts: Writing in the Scotsman, Jane Devine examines the Local Government Scotland Act 1989 which prohibits people who hold certain posts within councils from political activity. She questions the rationale of the legislation, which she says discourages politically- engaged people from entering public service, instead going directly to parties. (The Scotsman page 27)

Archbishop apologises: Bishop Tartaglia, the incoming archbishop of Scotland’s largest Catholic congregation, has apologised for remarks made linking the early death of Labour MP David Cairns with homosexuality. His remarks sparked widespread criticism. (The Herald page 7)

Yes Scotland: In an interview with the Herald, former BBC Scotland and STV news chief Blair Jenkins talked about his work at the helm of the Yes Scotland campaign. He notes that the campaign will campaign on the basis of a yes / no question rather than including a second question. (The Herald page 13)

Economy

Fuel poverty: According to newly released government figures, Scotland has twice as many households in fuel poverty despite a significantly lower population. Households are judged to be in fuel poverty if they have to spend more than 10% of their income to pay their energy bills. Campaigners cite poor housing, access to gas, and the lack of transparency over prices as behind the problem. (The Herald page 10)