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Reform Scotland News: 12 December 2013

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

Spin doctors: Figures released under the Freedom of Information have shown that government spin doctors have cost the Scottish taxpayer £10 million in the 14 years since the creation of the Scottish Parliament.  (Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 19)

 

Wind farms: Despite the Ministry of Defence and the RSPB both withdrawing previous complaints, the Mountaineering Council have maintained their objections to plans to build a 17-turbine wind farm close to one of Scotland’s national parks in Angus on the grounds that the turbines will spoil the views for residents and visitors. (Herald page 10)

 

Commonwealth Games: Under an initiative called More Than Gold, 8 different denominations of Christians in Scotland have been asked to become hosts to participating athletes who might not otherwise be able to afford the games experience due to soaring accommodation prices in Glasgow. (Herald page 11)

 

Independence polls: The latest YouGov polls show that eight out of ten people are planning to vote in the referendum in 2014, but that support for independence has risen by just one percentage point to 33% since the release of the SNP’s White Paper. It was also revealed that Labour has overtaken the SNP in voting intentions for Holyrood, with voters reportedly becoming disenchanted with Alex Salmond and the nationalist government. (Times page 9, Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 2, Courier page 14)

 

Fracking: At a conference examining the shale gas revolution, Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University has stated that people whose homes and land are affected by fracking should be fully compensated, and has accused the planning system of being weighted in favour of developers rather than those affected. (Scotsman page 10, Times page 29)

 

Referendum Roadshow: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald compares Alex Salmond’s plans to hold public meetings on a monthly basis around the country to Tony Blair’s 2005 “masochism strategy”, and wonders whether the tour might turn out to be more public flogging than sales pitch.

 

Written constitution: Michael Kelly comments in the Scotsman that Nicola sturgeon’s promise of strengthening human rights in an independent Scotland with a written constitution is not necessarily a good thing, and suggests that there are many reasons why an unwritten constitution is actually a more effective way to ensure justice and human rights are upheld.

 

SNP campaigning: Alex Massie comments in the Times that of all the conceits used by Scottish nationalists in their quest for independence, there are few more baseless than their claim to be running a positive campaign, but that the nationalist response to Osborne’s pension proposals shows that sometimes this mask can slip. 

 

Economy

Housing market: The property market in Scotland has experienced a ‘double boost’, with the number of properties changing hands and the value of those properties both increasing. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 20)

 

Business rates: Finance Secretary John Swinney told MSPs yesterday that annual increases to business rates in Scotland will not rise above 2%, in an effort to maintain a competitive advantage over the rest of the UK. (Scotsman page 1, Daily Express page 17)

 

Education

Class sizes: The Scottish Government has been accused of “abject failure” as it was revealed that pupils in Scottish primary schools are in larger classes than in 2007 when the SNP came to power. (Herald page 3, Scotsman page 1, Times page 18, Daily Mail page 1, Daily record page 14, Daily Express page 17, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 1)

 

Health

Waiting times: A report by Audit Scotland has found that hospitals across Scotland are failing to meet the legal requirement that patients do not wait longer that 12 weeks for treatment. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 16, Daily Mail page 19, Press and Journal page 9)

 

Transport

Air Travel: Helen McArdle comments in the Herald that the proposed slashing of the air passenger duty would attract airlines to Scotland, meaning that in an independent Scotland we would all enjoy cheaper holidays abroad, better business connections, and a greater choice of direct long-haul routes. She adds that this may also have positive implications for the fate of Prestwick Airport.