Reform Scotland News: 17 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.


In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News


EU referendum: Boris Johnson has warned that the UK government cannot put off a referendum on the UK’s future in the EU indefinitely. He has said that Britain should also be prepared to walk away if it was unable to negotiate a new relationship. Nicola Sturgeon has warned that Conservative Party splits over the issue are the biggest threat to Scotland’s continued EU membership.  (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 7, Guardian page 11)


Charities: A report by the Carnegie UK Trust will be published today reportedly showing that 97% of charities are not prepared for the changes that they will face if Scotland becomes independent. The report will also state that charities are afraid to get involved in the independence debate in case they appear non-charitable and partisan. (Scotsman page 14)


Alasdair Gray: The writer Alasdair Gray has reportedly branded English people who take up temporary jobs in Scotland to advance their career ‘colonists’. His anger was directed at senior arts administrators and admits that whilst his comments may seem anti-English, it should be remembered that they were “employed by Scots without confidence in their own people”. (Scotsman page 14, Times page 5, Magnus Linklater in the Times, Mail page 12, Scotland on Sunday page 6)


Labour anniversary: Johann Lamont will celebrate her one year anniversary as Scottish Labour leader today by underlining the party’s commitment to achieving new powers for Holyrood while remaining within the UK. She will also set out Labour’s views on Scottish education, including the current system of free tuition fees during a keynote speech in Glasgow. (Scotsman page 16, Mail page 4)


Westminster control: SNP MSP Sandra White has accused Labour officials at Westminster of wanting to maintain control of Scottish Labour. The claim has been prompted by the new general secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland having to report to the UK party’s top official rather than Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont. (Scotsman page 16, Sunday Herald page 21)


SNP and independence referendum: Brian Monteith in the Scotsman comments on the opportunity the SNP now has to rethink strategy and be honest about independence following last week’s retreat over automatic EU membership. Andrew McKie in the Herald criticises the SNP for not checking its assertions about independence and an independent Scotland’s EU membership. Andrew Nicoll in the Sun questions whether voters will trust Alex Salmond over independence promises. Gillian Bowditch on page 22 of the Sunday Times comments on the oversimplification of independence by the SNP and the lack of information on what it would mean for Scotland.


Edinburgh bikes: Jane Devine in the Scotsman comments on the expense and disruption of the Edinburgh tram works and argues that providing public bicycles would have been a better and cheaper solution.


Anti-English bullying: The departing National Theatre of Scotland artistic director Vicky Featherstone has described a period of criticism focused on her Englishness that forced her to question her position as anti-English bullying. (Herald page 1)


Labour referendum campaign: Scottish Labour deputy leader Anas Sarwar has been appointed the party’s referendum campaign co-ordinator. (Herald page 6, Scotland on Sunday page 4)


Wind farms: Campaigners have warned that Holyrood ministers face a serious conflict of interests if they decide on Scottish Water’s plans for a wind farm. The wind farm could reportedly save Scottish Water several million pounds a year but Graham Lang of Communities Against Turbines Scotland has warned that this could reduce the grant they receive from the Scottish Government. (Herald page 9)


Referendum funding limits: Sir Alex Ferguson has accused Alex Salmond of trying to silence England-based Scots who want their views on independence to be heard. He has also criticised the move to prevent Scots no longer living in Scotland from voting in the referendum. The Chief Executive of Better Together, Blair McDougall, has also criticised spending limits during the final run-in as a fix to stifle debate. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 12, Times page 11, Sunday Times page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 4)


ScotRail strike: Talks between ScotRail and the RMT union have failed to avert the strike threat which will affect rail travel on Christmas Eve and the last Saturday before Christmas. The passenger whose confrontation with a ticket inspector sparked the rail strike has said that he felt intimidated and humiliated during the encounter. (Telegraph page 10, Mail page 22)


Independence and business: Mark Shaw, chief executive of Edinburgh-based Hazledene Group, has warned that misleading claims about independence could damage Scotland’s overseas business interests. He has also appealed for an end to “scaremongering” over Scotland’s membership of the EU. (Sunday Times page 7)


SNP and EU membership: Divides are reportedly beginning to show within the SNP over EU membership. SNP MEP Alyn Smith has reportedly said that the party was guilty of ‘an unforgiveable own goal’ on the issue and former deputy leader Jim Sillars has reportedly expressed concern that incompetence is allowing the case for independence to fall by the wayside. The European Commission has also rebuffed calls from the SNP for talks on EU membership until after New Year. (Mail page 12, Sunday Herald page 11, Euan McColm in Scotland on Sunday)


Independent Scotland and EU membership: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in the Sunday Herald comments on why the EU will want to keep an independent Scotland as a member. 



Energy prices: The Fuel Poverty Advisory Group has urged David Cameron to take stronger action to ensure there was a more widespread effort to tackle fuel poverty levels. This follows reports that an extra 300,000 homes could be pushed into fuel poverty by Christmas. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 4)


Homelessness: Shelter Scotland has revealed that 26% of people would struggle to pay their mortgage or rent for more than one month if they lost their job. According to the charity at least 5,300 children in Scotland will be homeless this Christmas. (Herald page 3, Courier page 10)


Underemployment: MSPs will launch an investigation today into claims that 270,000 Scots are underemployed. Holyrood’s economy committee will look at the affects on people not working as many hours as they need to get by. (Herald page 6, Courier page 10)


Banking reforms: The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards is expected to call for legislation to be drafted that would allow banks to be broken up rather than ring-fenced. The report is due on Friday and is in response to the Bank Reform Bill. (Telegraph page B1)



New Scottish police force: The Scottish Government has been accused of failing to keep track of the amount owed by the regional forces, which will merge into a single body from April. The latest figured released by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill show that the new force will start with debts of over £100 million. (Times page 13, Courier page 13)


Gangs: Chief Constable Stephen House has given plans to ban underworld gangs from owning pubs, taxis and security firms to the Scottish Government. A special judge would have powers to impose sanctions on suspects without them appearing in court. (Record page 1)



Music funding: The Scottish Government has announced a £1 million boost to funding of music in schools to allow them to buy musical instruments for pupils. It will also set up a group to look at music tuition fees, which can vary across councils. (Herald page 7, Courier page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 1)



NHS and ADHD: A report by Healthcare Improvement Scotland has revealed that the NHS in struggling to cope with the rise in ADHD diagnoses and, whilst some improvements in the care of sufferers and their families have been made, many issues still remain. (Herald page 9 )