A week in Scottish politics: 16-22 November 2012


Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 16 and 22 November, which are freely available online.

Thursday 22 November
Devo Plus:  Severin Carrell in the Guardian comments on the blueprint published by the Devo Plus group which sets out how further powers could be devolved to Holyrood so that the Scottish Parliament could become responsible for raising the majority of what it spends.  

UK rebate
: Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian comments on the start of the EU budget talks, which begin today.
Business comment on independence: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on business leaders reluctance to speak out in the independence debate.

North Sea oil: John McLaren in the Scotsman comments on how the Scottish government could balance the books if the decline in North Sea oil continues, while Iain MacWhirter in the Herald comments that Scotland could be as prosperous as Norway.

Wednesday 21 November
Independence: Jim Gallagher comments in the Scotsman on the changing perception of Scotland and the English response if Scotland votes for independence.

EU budgets: Joshua Chaffin gives comments and analysis in the Financial Times on David Cameron’s deal to freeze the EU budget and crunch summit with EU leaders.

Curriculum for Excellence: Val Corry writes in the Scotsman about the benefits Curriculum for Excellence will offer to school pupils.

Pension tax: Simon Hinde comments in the Express on reports that George Osborne is considering a new tax on the pensions of higher earners in an attempt to cut the Government’s budget deficit.

Energy tariffs: Mary Riddell comments in the Telegraph on new measures announced by the government to crack down on energy tariffs in a bid to control soaring prices.

IFS report on independence: Ian Bell comments in the Herald on the Institute for Fiscal Studies report on the economic possibilities of an independent Scotland.

Tuesday 20 November
Wind power:
Joan McAlpine in the Daily Record says that Scottish Enterprise’s deal with French wind power company Areva  to build turbines in Scotland shows that the SNP are making good on their pledge to foster a new green industry in Scotland

RBS: Peter Jones in the Scotsman suggests that it is not certain that Royal Bank of Scotland will stay in an independent Scotland unless Alex Salmond can issue guarantees that the Scottish government would be able to back its liabilities.

Lynton Crosby: Ewan Crawford in the Scotsman says that the Conservatives’ hiring of Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby for the 2015 General Election would have little impact on the result of the independence referendum and that whether Scotland becomes independent or not would depend on whether the Yes campaign can persuade the Scottish people that jobs would be safer.

Monday 19 November

SNP competence: Writing in the Scotsman, Brain Monteith calls into question the SNP’s reputation for competent government in the wake of rows about college funding and European Union membership. In the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll echoed these sentiments, noting that it is the job of the First Minister to know these details. In the Daily Telegraph, Alan Cochrane discusses Labour’s efforts to impose new rules on Parliamentary behaviour.

Sunday 18 November

Scots education: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Ian Bell responds to efforts to introduce Scottish literature to school children, arguing that children should instead be taught a love of reading rather than specific texts.

College funding: Education Secretary Michael Russell is facing controversy after Stow College chairman Kirk Ramsay secretly recorded a meeting in which the subject of waiting lists were discussed. Mr Ramsay was publicly asked to resign following the incident but opposition figures are calling for an investigation of Mr Russell’s behaviour.  ( Iain MacWhirter  in the Herald and Eddie Barnes in Scotland on Sunday)

Friday 16 November

SNP double apology in Holyrood: Simon Johnson in the Telegraph comments on Alex Salmond’s apology for misleading MSPs over funding to Scotland’s colleges.

Scottish employment figures misleading: George Kerevan in The Scotsman writes that the disparities in the Scottish and UK-wide ONS unemployment figures comes down to details in the data and that we ought not to be so hasty to criticise Scotland’s employment, especially as it has a higher employment rate in comparison to five out of nine areas in England.