Reform Scotland News: 29 October 2012

 

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 29 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

Alex Salmond and EU: The First Minister has claimed that Scotland would enter the European Union as a successor state although Nicola Sturgeon revealed that the government had not taken legal advice to justify this claim. Unionist campaigners accused Mr Salmond of lying with his remarks and a controversy erupted surrounding the First Minister. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Tom Gordon assesses Mr Salmond’s opportunities to regain public trust while in the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll believes that Mr Salmond has disappointed voters. Also in the Herald, Ian Bell points out that independence is not about the First Minister, urging voters to focus on the proposition rather than the personality. Andrew Whitaker comments in Scotland on Sunday that the issue presents an opportunity for Alistair Darling and the Better Together Campaign.

Ministerial code: Mr Salmond referred himself to the independent commission to investigate for a possible breach of the ministerial code. He has also been criticised by opposition politicians for wasting money on ‘vanity projects’ when he attempted to block Freedom of Information requests to publish legal advice on EU membership. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 4, The Telegraph page 9, The Times page 9)

EU response to independence: Writing in the Sunday Times, Gillian Bowditch and Mark Macaskill assess EU member state responses to the possibility of Scottish membership. While the EU has not provided an official opinion on the process for Scottish membership, member states with concerns about their own regions, particular Spain, might block membership. The Spanish Foreign Minister stated that Scotland would have to “join the queue” and some academics argue that Scotland might not be in a position to retain UK opt-outs from the Eurozone and Schengen. (The Sunday Times page 21, Daily Express page 4)

Michael Moore on independence: Speaking at the Scottish Lib Dem conference, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore accused the SNP of playing “fast and loose with Scotland’s future”. At the same event, Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie announced a cross-party commission to explore further powers for the Scottish Parliament to be put to voters in the 2015 General Election. (The Sunday Herald page 15, Scotland on Sunday page 4)

Whitehall papers: Whitehall is reportedly developing what has been called a ‘Manifesto for the UK’ which will outline the benefits of maintaining the UK in 13 key policy areas including trade, currency, debt, and services. Sir Jeremey Heywood will oversee the teams of civil servants tasked with developing these papers. (The Herald page 7)

Trident investment challenge: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is expected to announce £350 million of funding towards the replacement of the nuclear weapons system at Faslane. He will warn that the removal of Trident following a successful referendum on independence will jeopardise thousands of jobs. In response to the remarks, the SNP pointed to figures from the Ministry of Defence which indicate there are 520 civilian jobs at Faslane. (The Scotsman page 1, The Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 2, Daily Record page 8)

SNP supporter quit: Following the defection of two MSPs over concerns about Nato membership, Adil Bhatti, a key ally of Nicola Sturgeon, has quit the party following the row over the issue of legal advice on EU membership. Mr Bhatti was the former convener of Scottish Asians for Independence. (Daily Record page 4)

Savile investigation: Police have begun to question other celebrities regarding their involvement with Jimmy Savile and Gary Glitter was arrested on Sunday. Questions have emerged about how aware former BBC Director General Mark Thompson was of the cancelled Newsnight allegations, with the Sunday Times establishing that his office was alerted twice. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain MacWhirter reflects on his time at the BBC and how the allegations have been handled by the organisation. (The Sunday Herald page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 8, Guardian page 4, The Times page 7, The Sunday Times page 1, Daily Record page 1. Daily Express page 5, Scottish Sun page 1)

MSP pension funds: Despite legislation to reduce smoking in Scotland, more than £1 million of MSP pension cash is invested in tobacco firms. Anti-smoking lobbyists urged fund managers to divest themselves of the shares, noting a conflict of interest. Andrew McKie in the Herald comments on the issue. (The Sunday Herald page 8)

Economy

Trade union jobs: The Sunday Herald reports on allegations that the Scottish construction industry has been keeping detailed files of trade union campaigners and blacklisting them from employment on projects across Scotland. A raid by the Information Commissioner’s Office on The Consulting Association revealed more than 3,000 worker files. (The Sunday Herald page 18)

Workplace injury claims: Compensation claims for personal injuries in Scotland have risen by 25%, six times the rate in England. Campaigners point to the higher number of people employed in agriculture and construction which are more hazardous jobs. (The Scotsman page 10)

Living wage: A report by KPMG revealed that one in five workers in the UK earns less than the living wage (currently £8.30 an hour in London and £7.20 in the rest of the UK). The living wage is voluntary and represents an increase on the minimum wage of £6.19 an hour. (The Scotsman page 14)

Health

Organ donation opt-outs: Despite 90% of adults supporting organ donation, only 40% are registered to participate. SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson has secured a parliamentary debate on the issue of presumed consent, in which organ donation would be the default position unless the person explicitly opts-out. The Welsh government is in the process of introducing the law and 24 European countries have implemented it, leading to a substantial increase in the number of organs available for transplant. One of the challenges inherent in the legislation is that the families of patients often override their consent. (The Sunday Times page 17)

GP pay: Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil has announced talks on a direct deal with GPs and the Scottish government. (Daily Record page 6, Daily Express page 9)

Justice

European arrest warrants: Senior Scottish police officers have called for the retention of the European arrest warrants system, which they say allows them to prosecute offenders even when they flee the United Kingdom. Home Secretary Theresa May has signalled that the UK would repatriate powers over police and justice cooperation included in the Lisbon Treaty. (The Scotsman page 1)

Education

University degree inflation: 70% of students leave university with a first or upper second degree ranking, up from 54% in 1994. Employers have complained that it is increasingly difficult to use degree ranking to assess the quality of candidates. Universities have begun introducing the Higher Education Achievement Report which lists marks as well as volunteer work, prizes won, and sports participation.  (Scotland on Sunday page 2)