Reform Scotland News: 10 September 2012



Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 10 September 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


Nicola Sturgeon and the yes campaign: Following last week’s unexpected cabinet reshuffle, The Sunday Times had a piece on Nicola Sturgeon’s role overseeing the referendum in addition to taking on cabinet responsibilities for infrastructure and capital spending. Her first order of business was to meet with David Mundell, the Scottish Office Minister. This was met with criticism by Michal Levack, chief executive of the Scottish Building Federation who suggested that her role in the referendum was “overshadowing” her position as minister for infrastructure. However, the appointment may help the SNP address the issue of women being less supportive of independence. Iain MacWhirter assesses Nicola Sturgeon’s chances, describing her as indicative of the changing nature of Scottish nationalism. (The Sunday Herald page 14, The Sunday Times page 20)

Scotland’s EU status: Remarks by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has suggested that EU citizenship of people in a region that secedes from an existing member state would have to be “negotiated within the international order”. While the Scottish government downplayed the statement, Margo MacDonald and Jim Sillars caution that the status of Scotland within the EU should not be taken for granted. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 15, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2)

Second question: Writing in The Sun, Andrew Nicoll 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. (The Sun page 15)

Devo Plus report: A report to be published by the Devo Plus group notes that since 1999, fuel poverty, drug addiction, and homelessness have either worsened or failed to see any real improvements. They attribute this to the lack of powers held by the Scottish Parliament. Jeremy Purvis, leader of the Devo Plus group, claimed that making the Scottish Parliament responsible for raising the money it spends would improve accountability and social outcomes. (The Scotsman page 11)

Labour and the Coalition: Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls offered to work with Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable to develop an alternative plan to the coalition’s cuts programme, urging Conservatives to listen to proposals made by Mr Cable. The statement was made in an attempt to split the coalition and Mr Balls indicated that he would not work with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg. Mr Cable appeared to reject the attempt, arguing that “flattery does not necessarily deal satisfactorily with the issue” (The Scotsman page 6, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2)

Defence secretary in Scotland: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has not made a trip to Scotland since taking his post 11 months ago. In contrast, his predecessor Dr Liam Fox made seven visits to Scotland within six months of taking the post. SNP Spekesperson Angus Robertson MP described the defence secretary as “running scared” after cuts to Scottish military personnel. (The Scotsman page 10)

Conservatives and union: Peter de Vink, a former Tory fundraiser, says that Scottish independence could reverse the flagging fortunes of the Scottish Conservatives. The independent Midlothian councillor and businessman described Scottish Conservatives as having “no future whatsoever”, and expressed support for a referendum on independence. (The Sunday Times page 2)


Pension fears: A report published by Scottish Widows indicates that a third of people in Scotland believe they will not have enough money in retirement even if they double their pension contributions. Scottish Widows stressed the need to encourage people to contribute to retirement funds and urged employers to improve education on the new company pension schemes to be rolled out at the end of the month. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 11)

TUC congresses: The TUC Congress was dominated by talk of industrial action against the coalition government’s austerity measures. An alliance was also revealed between two leading unions, Unison and the GMB, to campaign against spending cuts. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 1)

Scottish homebuyers: Figures published by the Royal Bank of Scotland indicate that Scottish homebuyers have benefitted from lower prices and changes to tax and National Insurance rates, making homes more accessible to people in Scotland compared to the rest of the UK. (The Herald page 7)

Red tape cuts: Ministers will reveal a pro-business initiative which will protect companies making efforts to comply with health and safety rules from US-style compensation claims. They will also pledge to cut 3,000 regulations that businesses complain have been holding them back. (The Times page 1, Financial Times page 2)


Drug use policies: A survey of Scottish MSPs found that just 3% believe current policies on illegal drugs are effective. The survey was conducted before the publication of a report which indicated a 20% increase in drug related deaths in 2011 and an estimated 50,000 Scots addicted to drugs. (The Herald page 4)


College waiting lists: Despite growing demands for qualifications and high rates of unemployment, more than 10,000 students are on waiting lists for Scotland’s colleges. This is claimed to be because of funding reductions for further education institutions, which focus primarily on vocational training, despite 21.5% unemployment amongst 16 to 24-year-olds. (The Herald page 1)

Music class fees: A report by The Sunday Times revealed that Scottish councils have accumulated £3 million in profit from fees for musical training and exams, prompting warnings from the Scottish government that these councils may be breaking the law. (The Sunday Times page 4, Press & Journal page 3, Scotland on Sunday page 9)


Health spending: Writing in The Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch discusses the need to spend strategically to improve health outcomes, calling upon Alex Neil and Nicola Sturgeon to lead the way. (The Scotsman page 25)

Drink driving limit: Jane Devine responds 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. (The Scotsman page 27)

Luxury meals: Expensive ready meals are often nutritionally inferior to cheaper no-frills ranges, according to research conducted by Glasgow University. The luxury meals often have more fat and salt than the discount meals available. (The Sunday Times page 9)

Multiple sclerosis treatment: The Scottish Medicines Consortium will decide today whether to offer Fingolimod to sufferers of multiple sclerosis in Scotland. The drug is already available to patients in England and Wales through the NHS but was rejected by the organisation earlier this year for not providing sufficient value for money. (Scotland on Sunday page 8)

Soft water and liver disease: According to research produced by the Foundation for Liver Research, Scotland’s tapwater may be contributing to a high rate of liver disease, which is typically attributed to alcohol consumption. The study shows that residents in soft-water areas are more likely to suffer liver disease from alcohol consumption than those in hard-water areas. (The Times page 13)