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Reform Scotland News: 1 October 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 1 October 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

Race and Scotland: A rally held by the Scottish Defence League in opposition to immigration was held outside the Scottish Parliament on Saturday. Attendees were outnumbered by counter-marchers, led by Unite Against Fascism. At the same time, a protest coordinated by the Muslim Council of Scotland against the film “Innocence of Muslims” attracted 1000 people in Glasgow, with participants speaking out against the portrayal of Islam in the film. Politicians and faith leaders sent messages of support, condemning the film for its attempts to incite violence. (The Sunday Herald page 6)

Labour and the welfare state: Columnists responded this weekend to Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s speech which called into questions some of the SNP’s entitlement policies, particularly for the better off. The leader has been criticised by the SNP for what they view as Conservative economic policies. (Brian Monteith in the Scotsman, Kerry Gill in the Daily Express, Andrew Nicoll in the Scottish Sun, Tom Gordon in the Sunday Herald, Andrew Whitaker in Scotland on Sunday)

Miliband on independence: Labour leader Ed Miliband noted that the SNP could win the referendum, positioning the Labour party as the only party which can prevent the break-up of Britain. In the speech made as part of the Labour party conference, he praised the work done by Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1)

Troops to Scotland: Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said that he’d look to relocate 20,000 British troops from Germany to Scotland if his party wins the 2015 general election. The move could provide a significant economic boost to communities. (The Sunday Times page 1, Daily Express page 5)

Women and independence: Jeane Freeman, chief of staff to former first minister Jack McConnell, has launched the Women for Independence campaign which will work alongside Yes Scotland to address the concerns of women about independence. (The Scotsman page 15)

Devolution Commission: Scottish Labour Leader Johann Lamont announced the formation of a commission to develop a blueprint for new powers for Scotland. The Commision includes Labour MSP Duncan McNeil who has played a role in the Devo Plus campaign, senior Scottish Labour figures at the Scottish, Westminster, and European levels and academics who will serve in an advisory capacity (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Constitutional futures: Constitutional lawyers from five Scottish universities have launched the Scottish Constitutional Futures Forum to inform the debate around the referendum. (The Herald page 2)

Economy

Monetary union: First Minister Alex Salmond is under pressure to explain his economic policy following questions about the feasibility of retaining the pound without a fiscal stabilisation pact with the Bank of England and the Treasury. The pact would have entailed agreements on Scotland’s taxes, spending, and borrowing in order to ensure the stability of the shared currency. (The Sunday Herald page 6)

Nuclear power: Labour MP Tom Greatrex is expected to warn that the SNP’s opposition to new nuclear power plants may mean that thousands of workers are left behind on jobs. (The Herald page 6)

Transport

Edinburgh trams: Edinburgh’s controversial trams project could be up and running six months ahead of schedule, possibly as early as Christmas 2013 following the resolution of contract disputes. (The Scotsman page 1)

Health

Drink pricing: Westminster is set to back the Scottish Government’s minimum pricing for alcohol which has been challenged by the whisky industry. The European Commission has also raised concerns in regards to the legality and compatibility of the legislation with free trade agreements. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 6)

Violence in hospitals: Research found that an average of four people are attacked each day at Scottish hospitals leading to calls to address security concerns. (The Scotsman page 17)

Justice

Police force cuts: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has been called by Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie to appear before Holyrood to explain the staff reductions that will occur as part of the merger of Scotland’s police forces. Figures leaked to the Sunday Herald indicate that 550 civilian staff will be cut. (The Scotsman page 5, The Sunday Herald page 1)

Education

Colleges funding gap: Figures suggest that colleges are providing many courses at the same level as universities but receiving millions of pounds less, prompting allegations of a two-tier system in which colleges are left underfunded. Colleges receive £1285 a year for Higher National Diploma and Higher National Certificate qualifications which are seen as comparable to year one or two of a university degree. In contrast, universities receive £1820 per student. (The Herald page 7)

Edinburgh teaching: The Sunday Times University Guide reveals that the University of Edinburgh was ranked last for teaching although it performed well on research indicators. Heriott-Watt was named Scottish University of the Year. (The Sunday Times page 1)

Political education: A report by Education Scotland found that the shortage of modern studies teachers may make it difficult for students to acquire political literacy. The report found students were disengaged from the political process and ignorant about how the system works. This is particularly important in light of the possibility of extending votes to 16s and 17s for the referendum. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)