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Reform Scotland News: 11 September 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 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

Politics

Management of council elections: The Electoral Commission has found that 89% of voters deemed last May’s local elections well run, a significant improvement upon the findings of 2007, when the elections were marred by voting delays and electronic counting machine malfunctions. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6)

SNP culture: Former SNP MP Jim Sillars has described the current SNP party culture as being one of a totalitarianism akin to that of the communist parties of the last century, where backbenchers accept mindlessly the edicts of the higher levels. SNP spokespeople have firmly denied this, pointing to the debate raging within the party over NATO membership. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Times page 12, Telegraph page 4, Record page 8, Express page 15, P&J page 15, Courier page 19)

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. (Scotsman page 25)

A positive case for the union: Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson sought to make a positive case for the United Kingdom in today’s Herald, criticising “doomsayers” on both sides of the independence debate and highlighting a number of recent Westminster government economic initiatives that have benefited Scotland. (Herald page 13)

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. (Scotsman page 28, see also Rachel Sylvester in the Times page 23, on the potential challenge to Cameron’s leadership posed by Boris Johnson, Patrick O’Flynn in the Express page 12, FT page 4, Mail page 6, Guardian page 5)

Conservative Voice: Don Porter in the Telegraph outlines the motive and objectives of the new Tory faction, Conservative Voice. (Telegraph page 20, see also Herald page 6)

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. (Scotsman page 28)

Blair in the dock: In the wake of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s comments last week, independent MSP Margo MacDonald is working to introduce a bill in the Scottish parliament which would aim to bring Tony Blair to trial over the Iraq War. (Herald page 8)

Economy

Westminster to support ESM: MPs voted last night to support moves in the EU towards a European Stability Mechanism, designed to strengthen the single currency against future financial crises. (Scotsman page 2)

Strike action: A number of trade unions have threatened strike action this winter should talks over pay freezes break down, with possible disruption to services in job centres, tax offices, passport control, and driving test centres. In all, union officials have warned that as many as 50,000 public-sector workers in Scotland could participate in the action. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Times page 15, FT page 2, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Guardian page 7, Mail page 8, P&J page 16, Courier page 19)

A New Deal for Scotland: Finance secretary John Swinney has hinted at an influx of cash into the construction sector being a large feature of next week’s Budget, in the hopes of stimulating growth as Scotland follows the rest of the UK into a double-dip recession. (Scotsman page 12, P&J page 15)

Education

School music fees: Aberdeen City Council has denied claims made by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) that it has generated £500,000 in revenue on school music tuition fees, saying that in fact its net contribution to music tuition for 2012/13, after fees have been discounted, was £783,000. (Scotsman page 5, P&J page 6)

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. (Scotsman page 27)

Local Government

Edinburgh trams: 298 businesses have lodged compensation claims with Edinburgh Council to date, for travel disruptions and loss of custom due to the ongoing tram works across the city. The claims so far total between £7 million and £10 million. (Herald page 7)