Reform Scotland News: 20 December 2012


Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 20 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



Afghanistan withdrawal: Defence Secretary Philip Hammond revealed yesterday that the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan will commence next April. A number of Scottish soldiers arrived home early yesterday in time for Christmas after receiving leave 3 months ahead of schedule. (The Scotsman page 1, FT page 3, The Daily Express page 9)


BBC and Savile: The BBC came under further criticism yesterday for the failure to broadcast a documentary exposing Jimmy Savile’s sex abuse scandal last year. A review into the decision said it was “flawed” and plunged the BBC into “chaos and confusion”. The deputy director of news, Stephen Mitchell, yesterday announced his resignation after the damaging allegations. The £450,000 payoff to director- general George Entwistle was also criticised. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7, FT page 2, The Sun page 1, The Daily Record page 10, The Daily Express page 5, The Times page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 1)


English ‘colonist’ remarks: John Byrne, one of Scotland’s leading artists, has condemned the recent controversial comments of writer Alisdair Gray, who came under criticism at the weekend for suggesting English people working and living in Scotland were “colonists”. His comments were largely critical of the number of English candidates securing prime jobs in the Scottish arts scene. Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman has commented his support for Alisdair Gray, saying that Scottish identity must be protected from the threat of uniculturalism. (The Scotsman page 3)



Oil revenues falling: A report by the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR) has warned that falling oil revenues will leave Scotland worse off than the rest of the UK by the independence referendum. The report predicts that the amount of oil and gas pumped from the North Sea is likely to fall, as well as projecting lower price levels in the future. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 8, The Sun page 2, The Daily Record page 21, The Daily Express page 2, The Times page 14)


Clyde warship contract: Defence Minister Philip Hammond reiterated the warning yesterday that the contract for thirteen Type-26 warships, which is expected to go to Clyde shipyards, may be at risk due to the independence referendum. He said that there were no intentions to build warships outside of the UK, telling the Commons Scottish affairs committee that the nation would lose our on “cutting-edge” research contracts in the event of a split. The SNP has accused Westminster of scaremongering, saying that a Royal navy chief, Vice-Admiral Andrew Matthews, thinks the possibility of using the Clyde would still remain an option. (The Scotsman page 16, the Herald page 6, The Daily Record page 21, The Daily Telegraph page 6)


Long-term unemployment figures: The Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) say that the number of people out of work for a year or more was up 50% on this time last year, with 38,000 Scots facing their second Christmas on benefits. They have urged more action from ministers to tackle the issue. (The Scotsman page 16, The Herald page 7, The Sun page 2)


Recovery after Hall’s redundancies: The Scottish Government and West Lothian Council have revealed a £29million plan to create 3,000 jobs over the next five years in the area affected by the closure of Hall’s of Broxburn meat processing. (The Scotsman page 18, The Herald page 2, The Daily Record page 6)


Fishing farm grants: More than 120 fishing industry projects across Scotland are to benefit from a £5.8 million boost in the latest round of awards from the European Fisheries Fund. (The Scotsman page 8)


Food banks: David Cameron has warned that rising numbers of families will be dependent on food banks for their Christmas dinner this year. There are more than 11 food banks currently operating in Scotland, with a further 10 in the process of opening. Welfare reforms and rising food prices have been cited as the cause of this demand. (The Herald page 4, The Daily Record page 9)


Christmas spending down: A survey by CBI (Confederation of British Industry) has found fewer shopkeepers reporting growth compared with this time last year. (FT page 3, The Herald page 27)


£50million housing boost: The Scottish Government has decided to allocate £50million of the £205million handed over by Westminster in the Autumn statement to housing projects. It is hoped that a building boom will boost the economy. (The Daily Record page 2)



‘Not proven’ verdict: The SNP Government has made proposals for the “not proven” verdict in trials to be scrapped as part of a shake-up of the judicial system. This comes amid the ongoing negotiations on whether or not to remove the need for corroboration. The majority of the legal profession have criticised the SNP proposals, forcing ministers to open fresh consultation. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 5, The Sun page 2, The Times page 16, The Daily Telegraph page 1)



Rail strikes off: ScotRail passengers have been spared the possibility of chaos amid strike action in the run-up to Christmas after the railway company managed to reach an agreement with union leaders yesterday. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Sun page 2, The Daily Record page 2, The Times page 16, The Daily Telegraph page 1)


Trams tested: Edinburgh’s tram line moved one step closer to completion yesterday after contractors tested a tram at full speed along a section of the track. The project is estimated to be completed and open for use in the summer of 2014. (The Scotsman page 11, The Times page 13)



Health inequalities: The Chief Medical Officer for Scotland, Sir Harry Barns, has commented that health inequalities are the biggest issue facing Scotland today, and that MSPs must deliver consistent solutions to make a difference over the coming decade. His views were given to Holyrood’s Public audit committee after the damaging report last week by Audit Scotland which revealed high levels of inequality in Scotland’s healthcare system. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 10)


EU cigarette crackdown: The European Union has proposed a ban on menthol cigarettes and warnings to be placed on electronic ones in a bid to crackdown on smoking. With 70% of smokers starting before the age of 18 it is hoped that these new measures will make smoking less attractive to young people. (The Herald page 5, FT page 6, The Sun page 7)


Internet alcohol ban: Plans were unveiled in Holyrood yesterday to ban the ability to buy alcohol on the internet. The ban hopes to remove the possibility of Scots taking advantage of multi-buy promotions online, which are now banned in the nation’s shops. However, the move may face opposition if it is found that a ban on orders from England and abroad breaks trade laws. (The Times page 1, The Sun page 2, The Daily Record page 2, The Daily Express page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 10)



University elitism: Two of Scotland’s ancient universities, Edinburgh and St Andrews, have been criticised for not going far enough in their attempts to widen access to poorer students. Whilst Glasgow University has created an additional 200 places for those from deprived backgrounds, Edinburgh and St Andrews will only create an additional 70 places between them in the next academic year. The Scottish government has revealed that an extra £1.1billion funding package will be given to universities in the next year. (The Scotsman page 14, Michael Fry in the Scotsman, The Herald page 9)


Deprived students: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman urges extra resources to be given to schools in deprived areas. His comments come after the exam results league tables published yesterday showing that schools in Scotland’s most affluent areas continue to benefit from a much higher proportion of students going on to university education.