Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 10 December 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.
Scotland in the US: In an article in the Washington Post, the First Minister has criticized coverage of Scotland’s referendum on independence, noting that ‘democracy and self-determination’ were in the interests of the US. Academics believe that the US’s concern with Scottish independence is linked with the retention of the Trident nuclear deterrent. Speaking at Georgetown University, Scottish Secretary Michael Moore is expected to describe an independent Scotland as one lacking in clout and subject to difficulties accessing UK and European markets. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 4, The Times page 3, The Daily Telegraph page 2, Daily Express page 2)
SNP budget defeat: Jean Urquhart, former SNP MSP, vetoed an SNP bid to steer Holyrood’s Finance Committee to support the draft 2013/2014 budget. Ms Urquhart joined Tory and Labour MSPs in rejecting the budget on the grounds that it was not a budget for growth. (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 1, The Times page 3, Daily Record page 6)
Women in the workplace: A Holyrood report indicates that despite progress, women are still subject to ‘occupational segregation’, clustered in caring, cleaning, and clerical positions. The committee, led by Labour MSP Mary Fee, has identified several areas of concern, including segregation, the availability of childcare, funding and support for female entrepreneurship and equal pay in local authorities. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 11, Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman)
Gay marriage reform: Several senior Tories including London mayor Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Michael Gove signed a letter supporting same-sex marriage. Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has joined her colleagues in calling for gay marriage legislation which would be applicable in England and Wales. The Scottish Catholic Church has criticized plans, likening the Prime Minister to ‘Nero to the Christians’ (The Herald page 6, Andrew McKie in the Herald, The Scotsman page 13, The Times page 15, Tim Montgomerie in the Times, Daily Telegraph page 10, Daily Express page 28, Daily Mail page 7)
Trident fate: Sir David Omand, former chief of GCHQ and the UK’s first security and intelligence coordinator has said that should Scotland become independent, the UK would have to dismantle the Trident nuclear fleet as there isn’t a suitable alternative site for the submarines. (The Scotsman page 5, The Sunday Times page 2)
Better Together campaign strategy: Robert Durward, head of Cloburn Quarry Company, has warned Better Together lead Alistair Darling that he risks ‘snatching defeat from the jaws of victory’ by adopting a negative tone on Scottish independence, noting that denigrating Scotland’s ability to manage its own affairs may backfire. (The Sunday Times page 4)
Fiscal commission warning: The Fiscal Commission, a special advisory board put together by the First Minister, has advised that should the referendum on independence be successful, Scotland should impose regulations to avoid excessive spending and borrowing. This, the panel claims, will help prevent a Greek-style debt crisis. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)
Austerity policies: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain MacWhirter responds to the Autumn Statement put forth by Chancellor George Osborne. Mr MacWhirter writes that Conservatives see an opportunity in the crisis to make cuts to welfare and the public sector, noting that Labour doesn’t currently present a moral alternative to cuts. Also in the Herald, Ian Bell attributes the Chancellor’s emphasis on cuts on his privileged background and political development within the Conservative party.
Methane production and rail risk: Network Rail has objected to plans put forth by Dart Energy to extract methane gas in the Forth Valley, noting that the controversial extraction method poses a risk of explosion near one of Scotland’s busiest rail lines. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Herald page 6, Daily Express page 15)
Transport links: Writing in the Sunday Times, James Alexander of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry notes that Scotland’s lack of air links with Heathrow is threatening the success of Scottish businesses. He backs calls for the devolution of air passenger duty as a means of incentivizing further transport links.
MS Orkney link: The Orkney Island has the highest rate of multiple sclerosis in the world, with one in ever 170 women suffering from the debilitating illness. Dr Jim Wilson who is investigating the phenomenon says that it may be linked to a yet-to-be discovered genetic weakness. (The Herald page 5)
Drug legalisation: MPs are expected to advocate for the legalisation of certain drugs, modelled on the Portuguese system which has de-penalized the possession of small quantities of drugs. (The Scotsman page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 4, The Guardian page 1)
Cancer drug fund: Writing in the Scotsman, Brian Monteith criticises the First Minister for his rejection of the Cancer Drug Fund which has been supported by cancer charities as a means of improving access to new and expensive drugs. The Fund has been introduced in England and is backed by Conservatives.