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Reform Scotland News: 9 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
Independence poll: A TNS-BMRB poll has found that support for independence is at 28% with 53% of poll participants in favour of maintaining the Union. The figures show a drop in support for independence of 10%. (Scotsman page 8)

George Osborne: In his speech to the Conservative party conference yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne has suggested he would take a further £10 billion out of the welfare budget by 2017 and hinted at possible new taxes aimed at the richest, despite having rejected ideas for mansion and wealth taxes. He emphasised that the UK is ‘all in it together.’ He also said that the Conservatives stood for fairness whilst also announcing a plan to allow staff the right to swap employment rights for shares. (Scotsman page 1, Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Record page 6, FT page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 6, Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph, Express page 4, Courier page 16, Mail page 8, P&J page 12)

Labour priorities: Ex First Minister Henry McLeish has suggested that the electorate is now unsure of what Scottish Labour stands for in the wake of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont’s signalling that she intends to review many reportedly popular policies such as free prescriptions. (Herald page 6, Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman)

David Cameron: Prime Minister David Cameron has said in a speech to Scottish Conservatives at the national conference in Birmingham that the preservation of the Union is his top priority. He also stated that he would confirm the terms of the referendum in a meeting with First Minister Alex Salmond next week. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 5, Times page 7, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 1, P&J page 2)

Ruth Davidson: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has suggested that the SNP’s policy of free prescriptions is costing lives by diverting funds away from those that need treatment the most. She also suggested that she may be in the 90% of the Scottish population that gets more from public services than she contributes. Her speech also emphasised the need for the Better Together campaign to achieve a big ‘No’ win at the 2014 independence referendum (Herald page 6, Record page 6, Joan McAlpine in the Record, Sun page 2, Peter Jones in the Times page 7, Telegraph page 8, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Allan Massie in the Telegraph page 23, Express page 5, Courier page 17, Mail page 4, P&J page 13)

Creative Scotland: Leading figures in the Scottish arts world have voiced their concern that the Scottish government’s primary arts funding body Creative Scotland is ‘damaged at the heart’ in an open letter. Signatories include Liz Lochhead and John Byrne. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1)

Lockerbie bomber’s release: It has emerged that First Minister Alex Salmond sought the public endorsement of Donald Trump for the decision to release the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi. Labour has said that the revelation suggests that the Scottish government thought they were owed a favour by Mr. Trump following the decision to grant him permission to pursue with his golf resort plans. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 1, Record page 2, Sun page 27, Times page 5, Telegraph page 12, Express page 10, Courier page 15, Mail page 2, P&J page 1)

Economy
Pensions: The retirement funds of millions could reportedly be affected by changes to pensions, it emerged yesterday, as figures show that the deficit of FTSE 100 final salary pension schemes has risen to £55billion over the last year. In addition, changes to how inflation is calculated could also have a downward effect on pensions. (Express page 1)

The Euro & independence: Jennifer McKiernan in the Courier speculates on the influence the Euro will have on the independence debate, suggesting that an independent Scotland would have to join the Euro.

Bankers’ pay: Stephen Hester, the chief executive of RBS, says that bankers need to ‘deserve their pay.’ However he also underlined his opinion that people should recognise that when bankers work hard, they deserve the remuneration given to them. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 7)

Transport
High Speed Rail: Patrick McLoughlin, the UK Transport Secretary, has said that if the High Speed 2 railway service is extended to Scotland it could reduce travel time between London to Scotland to under three hours. (Courier page 17, Mail page 10, P&J page 13)

Rail privatisation: Harry Reid suggests that privatisation has benefited railways in the UK in comparison to national operators abroad as well as in the UK before privatisation.

Health
Drug availability: Avastin, a drug used to fight advanced ovarian cancer has not been approved for use in Scotland’s NHS hospitals despite it having been trialled here and used by the NHS in the rest of Britain. The Scottish Medicines Consortium, who presided over the decision, said that the manufacturers had not proved sufficiently that the drug represented value for money. (Scotsman page 11, Express page 10)

Education
Free tuition: David Willets, the UK Education Secretary, has questioned the wisdom of the Scottish government’s free tuition policy, suggesting that, without fees, the SNP will face inevitable questions about where the money will come from to fund higher education. (Scotsman page 5, High Reilly in the Scotsman)