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Reform Scotland News: 24 September 2012

 

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 24 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

Independence rally: 5,000 people turned out for the first annual March and Rally for Independence on Sunday. The event, which was not officially affiliated with the Yes Scotland campaign, was designed, according to organiser Jeff Duncan, to “kick off the process” towards the independence referendum. Writing in The Scotsman, Brian Monteith describes the turnout as “meagre”, attributing it to the lack of grievances held by the people. (The Sunday Herald page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 3)

Lib Dem party conference: The Liberal Democrat party conference continued in the wake of Nick Clegg’s apology for the U-turn on university tuition fees. Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury has reportedly admitted that he had fears over the affordability of the tuition pledge prior to it being put into place. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 6)

Students on independence: A survey of nearly 2,500 fourth year students, those who would be eligible to vote should the SNP be allowed to extend the vote to 16- and 17-year olds, indicated that only 26% believe that Scotland should be an independent country, with 15% unsure. (The Scotsman page 6, The Times page 8)

Better together and data protection: The unionist campaign may have run afoul of data protection laws, reportedly failing to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office before collecting data from supporters of the campaign. (The Sunday Herald page 5)

Scottish Labour: A report in the Sunday Herald details the challenges faced by Scottish Labour to assert its authority vis-a-vis the UK-wide party and its failure to present a proposal for more powers for Holyrood in response to SNP proposals for independence. The discussion of the party’s future was precipitated by the suspension of Rami Okasha, head of strategy, communications, and policy for insubordination and the departure of Scottish general-secretary Colin Smyth. (The Sunday Herald page 6, The Sunday Times page 1)

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.

Abortion controversy: Rt. Rev. Joseph Devine, Bishop of Motherwell, sparked controversy when he compared images of aborted foetuses displayed as part of a protest to images of the Holocaust. He also attributed to the Green Party an anti-religious, gay agenda. (The Sunday Herald page 3, The Scotsman page 14, Scottish Daily Mail page 20, The Times page 8)

Economy

Workplace safety: A report by Professor Andrew Watterson of the University of Stirling criticises cuts to the UK Government’s Health and Safety Executive. The number of major and fatal workplace injuries has increased by 2,700 in the past five years and investigations and prosecutions fell over the same period. (The Scotsman page 17)

Liberal democrat tax proposals: Nick Clegg has announced plans to ensure that the rich “pay their fair share”, vowing to block further welfare cuts until a “mansion tax” was agreed upon by Tory coalition partners. Business Secretary Vince Cable also spoke out against tax havens and non-domiciles. (Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, The Guardian page 1, The Sunday Times page 1)

Business bank: Vince Cable is expected to announce a £1 billion “business bank” to lend small-and medium-sized British firms at the Lib Dem conference. (Financial Times page 2, The Guardian page 5, Scottish Daily Mail page 5, The Sun page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 1)

Pension pot scheme: A Liberal Democrat proposal would allow parents and grandparents to use their pension pots to help their family members to buy a home. They could use the lump-sum portion of their pension as a guarantee towards part of the mortgage. (The Herald page 1, The Times page 14, Daily Express page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 1)

Scottish retail: The Scottish Retail Consortium announced figures which indicate that total sales growth had been negative in seven out of the last 12 months, compared with just one negative month in the rest of the UK. The vacancy rate is 17% in Scotland compared to 13% in London. (The Herald page 3)

Health

Heart attack treatment: Dr. Keith Oldroyd, a leading cardiologist, has warned that heart attack patients are being denied the latest life-saving treatments as a cost cutting measure. The study found that there is a postcode lottery among Scottish regions as well as better care for patients supported by more articulate families who fought for treatment. (The Herald page 1)

Education

College mergers: Jim Gallacher, Emeritus Professor of Lifelong Learning at Glasgow Caledonia University, warned against the Scottish Government’s policy to merge colleges in the wake of extensive waiting lists. The Government attributes the problem to students making multiple applications but colleges said that demand was a result of cuts to teaching budgets which restrict the number of courses. (The Herald page 5)

Local Government

Possible council strikes: Tensions are simmering with council workers in the wake of the budget proposed by Finance Minister John Swinney, leading to concerns of a strike in the public sector. While the budget included an end of the pay freeze for civil servants and NHS staff, the small salary increase does not apply to many council workers who must negotiate through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. The head of Cosla recently warned against centralising services. (The Sunday Herald page 15)