A week in Scottish politics: 21 to 27 September 2012


Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 21 and 27 September, which are freely available online.

Thursday 27 September

Public focus: Jennifer Dempsie in the Scotsman describes the grassroots nature and focus of the Yes campaign writing that “if every person who currently wants an independent Scotland persuades just one other person – then Scotland will vote yes”.

A Labour change of heart: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald criticises the new policy stances of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, pointing out the relative insignificance of free services costs, “fair and humane policies”, as compared with the salaries and pensions of the higher-earning public sector workers.

Honesty is the best policy: The Sun’s Bill Leckie has come out in favour of Johann Lamont and her concerns over the sustainability of free services, in a sarcastic piece that lauds her courage to be honest about such cuts, going against the grain.

Targeting “the rich”: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman criticises the Lib Dems’ and Scottish Labour’s tirades against “the wealthy”, and particularly wealthier pensioners, varying defined as having assets greater than £50,000. Such rhetoric, he writes, evades the uncomfortable truth that we will all need to make sacrifices to eventually escape the economic trough we find ourselves in, while placing too much blame on “those who had the temerity to save a little more for their old age than what is now deemed good for them”.

Wednesday 26 September

Johann Lamont: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph suggests that Johann Lamont is taking a risk by calling for a rethink of popular policies such as free prescriptions and free university tuition.

Independence : Ian Bell comments on the lack of UK-wide coverage of Alex Salmond’s acceptance of a single-question referendum ballot paper.

Scotland & Venezuela: Brian Wilson suggests in the Scotsman that there are a number of similarities between Scotland and Venezuela.

Liberal Democrats: Mary Riddell in the Telegraph suggests that Nick Clegg must prepare his party to turn to the Left before the next election.

Paying for welfare: Gavin McCrone in the Scotsman says that the issue of how a welfare state would function in an independent Scotland – and how the country would pay for it – needs to be addressed by both the Better Together and Yes campaigns.

Tuesday 25 September

Andrew Mitchell: Polly Toynbee in the Guardian comments on the Andrew Mitchell saga and his disputed use of the word ‘pleb’.

Clegg’s leadership: David Maddox in the Scotsman considers whether saying “sorry” is enough to save Nick Clegg’s leadership.

Conference speeches: Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman considers the preparation that goes into a party leader’s conference speech.

Financial priorities: Colette Douglas Home in the Herald questions the policy of providing free prescriptions and bridge tolls to those who can afford to pay while some areas of the health service are struggling to provide key new drugs to patients in need due to costs.

Supporters of independence: Joan McAlpine in the Record comments on some of the converts to independence.

Devolved economy: Alan Trench and Guy Lodge in the Scotsman look at the experience of devolved administrations in Europe and the additional financial powers they have and what lessons Scotland can learn from them.

Wealth tax: Janan Ganesh in the FT comments that a tax on wealth can be consistent with Conservative principles.

Educational reform in England: Alex Massie in the Scotsman suggests that it is worth considering the changes to schools in England through the growth of “academies”.

Monday 24 September

Independence rally:  Brian Monteith in the Scotsman describes the turnout at the March for Independence as “meagre”, attributing it to the lack of grievances held by the people.

Ruth Davidson: Writing in The Telegraph, Alan Cochrane praises Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson for her instincts but says that the ‘jury is still out’ on her. He argues that Ms Davidson should stand firm against Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise for more powers should Scotland vote no on independence.

Friday 21 September

Independent economics: George Kerevan  in the Scotsman considers the diverging impact that the global recession has had on pro-independence sentiment: in Catalonia, it has sparked massive independence rallies; in Scotland, the response is one of extreme caution.

Pay freezes: Eddie Barnes  in the Scotsman considers the (poor) prospects for above-inflation wage increases in the pay deal discussions that will follow on from yesterday’s budgets, and indeed for budgets in the future.

Slow growth: John McLaren, of the Centre for Public Policy for regions, writes in the Scotsman of the challenges of achieving economic stimulus within a fixed budget.

Hype: Arthur Midwinter accuses the government of spin when it comes to their portrayal of the success of yesterday’s budget. Swinney’s budget, he writes, “will not drive economic recovery, as despite his acting, capital spending levers remain far below 2010, and his Budget decisions will continue the haemorrhage of jobs and services in the public sector”. (Herald page 3, see also Peter Jones in the Times page 4 and Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph page 4)

The future of the NHS: Jenny Stewart in the Scotsman considers some of the issues surrounding proposals to merge health and social care within the NHS.