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Reform Scotland News: 2 October 2012

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 2 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

Labour conference round up: Labour Leader Ed Miliband is expected to make a personal speech designed to position himself as a viable Prime Minister and distance himself from his public-school educated rivals. Mr Miliband is also expected to speak about Labour’s role in the Scottish referendum. Shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran is expected to describe the battle to save the Union as “the fight of our lives” at the Labour party conference, blaming both the SNP in Edinburgh and Conservatives in London for promoting the “politics of division”. Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont will use a speech at the Labour party conference to strike back against SNP criticism and accuse the SNP of behaving as “Tartan Tories”, intent on squeezing the poor to help the better off.  (The Sun page 2, The Herald page 1, page 6, The Scotsman page 1, Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 8, The Times page 6, Daily Telegraph page 9)

Labour’s economic proposals: Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls claimed that the coalition’s rivalries and personality conflicts were slowing the economic recovery and promised a thorough analysis of each pound the government spent should Labour be elected. His remarks, which touched upon salary and pension freezes, sparked opposition from Unite which described a public sector spending freeze as “simply not acceptable”. (The Times page 1)

Immigration: Shadow Labour immigration minister Chris Bryant dismissed claims that Britain was overcrowded and described UK government efforts to curb the number of foreigners as “ludicrous” at the Labour party conference. (Daily Express page 4)

Lamont proposals: Writing in the Daily Record, Joan McAlpine compares Johann Lamont’s speech decrying Scotland’s “something for nothing” society to Mitt Romney’s attack on Americans who pay no income tax.

EU referendum: Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said an in-out referendum on EU membership should take place once the Euro crisis had been resolved. His statements indicated that he believed people would choose to stay in the European Union. (Daily Express page 4)

EU membership following independence: In a speech at the University of Edinburgh, Lord Wallace of Tankerness QC, is expected to warn that an independent Scotland would have to negotiate its membership of the European Union and might not benefit from the UK’s Schengen and currency opt-outs. (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 6, Daily Mail page 20, The Times page 8, The Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Financial Times page 4)

Referendum campaign cap: Alex Salmond has called for tight spending limits on the campaign to prevent it being “bought and sold for English gold”. The Scottish government has proposed a £750,000 spending limit for the two main organisations. (The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2)

Scottish foreign policy: Writing in The Herald, Harry Reid questioned Prime Minister David Cameron’s speech before the UN General Assembly, arguing that an independent Scotland could “take a positive if modest role in the world”. (The Herald page 13)

Keith Vaz probe: Senior Labour MP and chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz reportedly faces a parliamentary probe after allegations about mystery payments into his bank account. A police investigation has allegedly revealed £500,000 in deposits between 1997 and 2001, money he claims is from property deals. (Daily Express page 2, The Telegraph page 9)

Economy

Bank culture criticism: In a speech at the London School of Economics, RBS Chief Executive Stephen Hester called into question the banking culture which hasn’t paid adequate attention to the needs of its customers, focusing instead on short term profits. (The Herald page 1)

JJB closure: Sports store giant JJB will close all but 4 of its Scottish branches, leaving 350 staff redundant. Sports Direct took over four of the stores and will rebrand them. (The Herald page 10, The Scotsman page 1)

Scottish service sector: A report by the British Chambers found that the service sector performed much worse in Scotland than any other part of the UK. Scottish service providers saw a drop in sales and orders. (The Herald page 24)

Irish example: Writing in The Scotsman, Peter Jones explains that the economy is likely to play a leading role in debates over the referendum. He points to Ireland, once held up as a model for the Scottish economy post-independence which has struggled to recover from the economic crisis.

Transport

Transport cards: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a cashless ticketing system similar to London’s Oyster cards. The introduction of the Saltire Card, which would allow people to travel on trains, buses, and ferries, has been complicated by the fact that Scotland’s transportation systems are owned by several different companies. (The Herald page 7, The Scotsman page 12, Daily Mail page 24, Daily Express page 9, The Times page 12, The Telegraph page 14)

Health

Diabetes crisis: 4.4 million Britons are expected to have diabetes by the end of the decade, with 342,000 in Scotland. NHS Scotland estimates it currently spends £300 million annually in diabetes treatment. (Daily Express page 1)

Education

College student decline: The number of students at Scottish colleges has dropped by 80,000 as a result of cuts to part-time courses in favour of full-time courses for 16 to 19-year olds. The Scottish Council for Development and Industry has warned that the cuts could negatively affect the country’s economy and jobs market. (The Herald page 2)

University fees: Writing in The Scotsman, Ewan Crawford questions Labour’s proposed re-evaluation of free university fees for everyone. He notes an OECD study which indicates that graduates of tertiary education generate an extra £55,000 by paying higher income tax and social contributions. (The Scotsman page 28)

Justice

Police misconduct: Calls have been made for Scotland’s new police force to prevent officers from retiring as a means of avoiding disciplinary action after figures reveal that 12 officers have left their jobs ahead of facing complaints over the past five years. Officers found guilty of serious misconduct can lose part of their pensions. (The Herald page 4)

Televised trials: Austin Lafferty, president of the Law Society of Scotland, will share his support for televised trials with MSPs. He argues that it would make the system more accountable and increase public awareness about the procedure. (The Herald page 8)

Police bonus: Since 2008, Scotland’s police officers have received £23.8 million in bonuses, a statistic which was met with criticism by MPs and tax campaigners who question the bonuses awarded for the completion of “unpleasant tasks” and large payouts to senior police officers. (Daily Record page 2, The Telegraph page 14)

Local Government

Tourist tax cut: Plans put forward to add an additional fee to visitors’ hotel bills have been abandoned by the council in response to objections from business leaders. (The Scotsman page 1)