A week in Scottish politics: 7th to 13th September 2012

Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 7 and 13 September, which are freely available online.

Thursday 13th September

Hillsborough: Martyn McLaughlin in the Scotsman comments on the findings of the Hillsborough Independent Panel which ruled that South Yorkshire Police and emergency services made “strenuous attempts to deflect blame” on to innocent fans for the disaster. 

Scotland in the EU: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald and Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comment and interpret comments made by European Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly regarding an independent Scotland joining the EU.

Scottish reshuffle: Christine Jardine in the Scotsman comments on Nicola Sturgeon’s new role in the Scottish government.

Unemployment:  John McLaren in the Scotsman comments on the unemployment rate in Scotland, which is higher at 8.2 per cent than the rest of the UK, at 8.1 per cent, according to official figures.  The figures also indicate that nearly a quarter of Scottish 16 to 24 year olds out of work.  

First-time buyers:  Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on the new MI New Home mortgage indemnity scheme, which is backed by the Scottish government, and is aimed at helping first-time buyers buy a new-built property with only a 5 per cent deposit.

University league tables: Christopher Marshall in the Scotsman comments on the publication of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) latest global university league tables.

Scottish air connections to London: Tavish Scott in the Scotsman discusses Scottish air connections to London and says that consumer choice and competition on fares is in Scotland’s interests.

Wednesday 12th September

Centralisation: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman suggests that the political culture of centralisation of political powers has remained in spite of devolution, as more money is handed to Edinburgh from the regions.

Focus on independence: Iain Gray in the Scotsman comments that the debate in Scottish politics is too focused on the independence referendum and should be more focused on issues such as social justice and equality.

Tuesday 11th September

Risk calculations in politics: Peter Jones, in the Scotsman, derides the ‘science’ of risk calculation in politics, and the claims made on either side of the independence debate of ‘likely’ outcomes and implications of union or independence. More useful, he feels, is a consideration of the principles and of the personalities involved on each side.

A positive case for the union: Ruth Davidson in the Herald sought to make a positive case for the United Kingdom, criticising “doomsayers” on both sides of the independence debate and highlighting a number of recent Westminster government economic initiatives that have benefited Scotland.

Leadership reshuffling: David Maddox in the Scotsman muses that the recent cabinet reshuffling in Westminster highlighted Cameron and Clegg’s weaknesses rather than their strengths, and could lead to more urgent calls within their parties for them to be shuffled along as well.

Conservative Voice: Don Porter in the Telegraph outlines the motive and objectives of the new Tory faction, Conservative Voice.

Denying the obvious: Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman complains about the media trend of using recent opinion polls to show that Scots are really just as conservative as their English counterparts, despite elections results time and again pointing to the contrary. He comes out in favour of independence as a way of ensuring that Scotland’s political distinctiveness not be overshadowed by the composition and policies of governments in Westminster.

Language learning: Hugh Reilly in the Scotsman questions the value of making foreign languages compulsory in school up to S3 when they are, he claims, often poorly taught, and suggests instead shifting the focus to improving language education first, before rolling it out to more students for longer.

Monday 10th September

Second question: Andrew Nicoll in the Sun sets out the SNP’s commitment to a single question in the referendum, noting that the party hopes that many of the 2/3 not in favour of independence may, like businessman Jim McColl who recently came out in support of independence, vote yes in the absence of a middle option.

Health spending: Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman discusses the need to spend strategically to improve health outcomes, calling upon Alex Neil and Nicola Sturgeon to lead the way.

Drink driving limit: Jane Devine in the Scotsmanresponds to the lower drink drive limit by urging drivers to consider whether it is really safe to drive after drinking, even if one falls well within the legal limit.

Sunday 9th September

Nicola Sturgeon and the yes campaign: Iain MacWhirter assesses Nicola Sturgeon’s chances in her new role within the independence referendum campaign describing her as indicative of the changing nature of Scottish nationalism.

Friday 7th September

Independence: Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman stresses that the independence debate is in need of a “special politician” to engage people, and urges Nicola Sturgeon to show courage, imagination and vision. David Gardner in The Financial Times comments on the clamour for Catalan Independence and draws parallels between this and Scotland’s Independence debate. Angus Macleod in The Times explores George Osborne’s claim that Alex Salmond will lose independence voters as he has been forced to “go negative”.

Scotland becoming Anglified: Tom Miers in the Scotsman says that Scotland is becoming more and more like England, heralding a lack of clarity in terms of Scottish national identity.