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Reform Scotland News: 7 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 debate: Clyde Blowers boss and billionaire Jim McColl says that Independence is the only way forward if Scotland wants more powers.  Mr McColl has previously supported the solution of devo-max, but warns that now, full fiscal autonomy within a union is no longer a viable option for Scots, as it is not “gaining enough support” and will most likely not make a significant difference to Scotland in this generation. George Osborne lodged a counter-attack on the economic case for Independence, by claiming an “emotional attachment” with Scotland, assuring the SNP that an independent Scottish state would face the same fiscal difficulties as countries in the eurozone. Mr Osborne also told business leaders in Scotland that he would be sticking with his deficit-reduction plan, as no one else had a better idea. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7, The Times page 16, Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, Courier page 19, P&J page 22)

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”.

Single question referendum: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will meet with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore next week in order to discuss the uncertainty surrounding the referendum questions. It has been claimed that following talks between the SNP and coalition, there is now a “definite” move towards a deal on a one-question ballot paper. (The Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Courier page 18)

BBC job cuts: When asked his opinion on the proposed 35 job losses north of the border, Alex Salmond called the news “extremely disappointing” and further commented: “It is time the BBC acted like a national broadcaster for the whole of the country.” (Sun page 4, Daily Record page 2)

Coalition re-launch: In an attempt to re-launch the UK government yesterday, David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced an easing of restrictions imposed by the planning system on homes and businesses to boost growth.  However, Labour has insisted that the government was “kidding itself” if it thought that this new strategy would revitalise the UK. (The Scotsman page 6)

MPs claiming £250,000 daily in expenses: Figures show an £18m increase in expenses claims since 2011-12, with three Scottish MPs being among the top five claimants. (The Scotsman page 19, The Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Daily Telegraph page 2, P&J page 14)

Extra £5.5m to be spent on security at Holyrood: Holyrood managers are to spend £6.48 of taxpayers’ money on an “external security facility”, a move condemned by some MSPs, including Scottish Green Party co-convenor Patrick Harvie, who branded it an attempt to create “Fortress Holyrood”. (The Times page 11, Courier page 18)

Economy

Recession here to stay: A leading international organisation has predicted that the UK will fail to pull out of the recession this coming quarter, and has drastically cut its growth forecast. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed that the UK would be the third worst performing G7 nation after Japan and Italy this year, and advised that countries suffering weak growth should cut interest rates. (The Scotsman page 6)

North Sea Oil boost: A pioneering technique which uses technology to inject desalinated water into seabed reservoirs could release 6bn barrels of North Sea oil, thereby extending the life of the oil and gas industry. (The Scotsman page 17)

Justice

Violent criminals freed early from Scottish prisons: Thousand of dangerous criminals are reportedly walking free with reduced sentences, despite the SNP’s pledge to end the automatic early release system in 2007. (Daily Express page 7, Sun page 2)

Drink driving limit to be lowered: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has declared that enforcing a lower drink driving limit in Scotland will help to save lives, bringing the country into line with France, Germany and Spain. The consultation, which proposes to reduce the limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50 ml, is being driven by the SNP and has had wide backing from the police and the public. (The Scotsman page 11, The Times page 11, Daily express page 2, Sun page 4, Daily Record page 2, Courier page 17, P&J page 14)

Health

GP workload: GPs are reportedly under “enormous pressures” with appointment slots reaching “saturation point” according to new GP leader Dr Alan McDevitt and, as a result, they are refusing to take on more work.  In order to combat this, The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has called on the government to invest in general practices, hiring more GPs in order to give them more time with patients.  (The Herald page 1)