Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 22 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.
SNP Conference: Alex Salmond’s keynote speech at the SNP Conference drew a distinction between rule from Westminster and rule from Scotland, noting that the Westminster government was increasingly viewed as ‘incompetent’. He described independence as a process rather than a single event, a move seen as a means of reassuring voters who had hoped for devolution. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, David Torrance in Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Herald page 6, The Times page 1, Financial Times page 2). Writing in The Herald, Andrew McKie reflects on First Minister’s Alex Salmond speech on class, noting that despite efforts to appeal to the middle class, politicians everywhere are increasingly out of touch with what voters need and want.
SNP and Nato: The SNP’s initiative to drop historic opposition to Nato narrowly passed but party members sought guarantees that an independent Scotland would not have to serve as a base for nuclear weapons should it participate in the defensive alliance. Writing in the Sunday Times, Jenny Hjul reflects on the vote, noting that it represents an unusual split in the SNP which is known for its internal cohesion. (Scotland on Sunday page 4, Tom Peterkin in Scotland on Sunday, The Guardian page 10, Magnus Gardham in the Herald, The Scotsman page 6, Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman)
Scotland and the world: Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Fiona Hyslop outlines her vision for Scotland’s role in international affairs.
Tory rule and referendum prospects: Polling conducted by Panelbase found that support for independence rests at 37% with 45% saying no. However, when asked to reflect on independence should the 2015 UK general election result in a Conservative-led or Conservative/Lib Dem government, 52% would vote in support of independence with 40% voting no. The Euro is another factor in voter preferences, with a poll by Better Together indicating that 33% would be less likely to back independence if Scotland had to join the Euro. (The Sunday Times page 1, The Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Express page 4)
Coalition critiques: Conservative grandee Lord Tebbit described the Conservative/Liberal Democrat alliance as a ‘dog of a coalition’, arguing that the leadership had been defined as ‘unfeeling Toffs’, particularly in light of Andrew Mitchell’s resignation. (Scotland on Sunday page 2, The Herald page 6)
Political realities: Writing in the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll points to a lack of transparency on both sides of the referendum debate, particularly regarding Scotland’s economic prospects.
Referendum spending limits: The SNP has pledged to limit campaign spending to £750,000 by the two main groups in the 16 weeks before the election. Political parties represented at Holyrood would be restricted to £250,000 in the regulated period. However, the Electoral Commission has said that this cap should be closer to £1.5 million. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 1, Daily Mail page 8, Press & Journal page 8)
Blair Jenkins and Yes Scotland: Blair Jenkins, the leader of the Yes Scotland campaign, shares his thoughts on the campaign, recent polls, and the prospect of independence in a Scotland on Sunday interview with Eddie Barnes. (Scotland on Sunday page 13)
Young voters: The SNP has pledged to allow 16 and 17 year olds a vote in the referendum on independence. This age group could form 2.2 – 2.7% of the electorate. A poll by the Mail on Sunday indicates that their views roughly mirror the general population on independence. (Sunday Herald page 8)
Leadership popularity: A poll conducted by YouGov found that 43 per cent of people in Scotland believe the First Minister is best at looking after the nation’s interests, compared to 6% for Labour Leader Johann Lamont and 5% for Ruth Davidson. LibDem leader Willie Rennie had only 2% of the vote. (The Scottish Sun page 2)
UK and the EU: A poll conducted by Survation found that 51% of people in the UK were in favour of leaving the EU, with only 34% preferring to stay in the European Union. Prime Minister David Cameron has hinted that a pledge for a vote on the EU could be included in the Conservative’s electoral manifesto for the 2015 general election. (Daily Express page 7)
Savile inquiry: Panorama, the BBC’s flagship documentary programme, will look into the BBC’s actions in relation to allegations of sexual abuse surrounding Jimmy Savile. A Newsnight investigation was shelved last December over concerns about scheduling and reportedly internal pressures. (The Times page 1, The Telegraph page 1)
Poverty in Scotland: A new report from Demos indicates that more than 24,000 Scottish families are facing severe disadvantage, with Glasgow’s population faring the worst. The report examines income levels along with unemployment, education, overcrowding, and poor mental and physical health. (The Herald page 5)
Economic support: SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a £45 million fund to build 1,000 new homes and a £33 million welfare fund to assist Scotland’s poorest. Her speech attacked George Osborne’s austerity initiatives, urging the Chancellor to focus on capital stimulus and economic growth rather than cuts. (The Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 8)
Tourism and wind farms: VisitScotland has reportedly raised concerns about wind farms, claiming that turbines could put off tourists who visit Scotland to see the untouched landscape. Their remarks came in response to a wind farm proposal in Lockerbie, a popular route with walkers. (Daily Express page 8)
Lockerbie investigation: Investigation into the Lockerbie bombing continues in Malta, with investigators turning towards Al Amin Khalifa Fhimah, who was originally acquitted of the crime. Mr Fhimah could be re-tried under double jeopardy legislation recently passed by the Scottish Government. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)
Corroboration rule: Speaking at the SNP Conference, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill indicated that he would evaluate Scotland’s centuries-old corroboration rule which requires that evidence be backed up by two sources. The rule makes it difficult to prosecute domestic violence and sexual abuse which often take place in private. According to a report in the Daily Record, one fifth of those tried for rape receive a ‘not proven’ verdict. (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 4, Daily Record page 1)
Cancer treatment wait times: Cancer patients seeking therapies not routinely funded by the NHS may have to wait weeks for a decision to be made. Waiting time clocks were introduced in 2007 to ensure that patients were treated in a timely fashion, but reports have emerged that providers have adjusted the clocks to allow for government targets to be met. (The Herald page 1)
Tuition fees and independence: Under EU regulations, tuition fees charged to students from the rest of the UK would be abolished should Scotland vote for independence and enter the European Union. The Scottish Government would need to find £150m a year to fund 20,000 English students. (The Sunday Times page 1)