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A week in Scottish politics: 15 to 21 February 2013

Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 15 and 21 February, which are freely available online.

Thursday 21 Febraury

Principles before personalities: Lord Jack McConnell in The Scotsman criticises the “personal bitterness and anger” among Scottish politicians in the independence referendum campaign, calling for a “grown-up pact” and refrain from “personal abuse and threats”.

Northern Ireland: James Maxwell in The Scotsman explains the worrying effect Scottish independence might have on some people within Northern Ireland.

Employment up, but we’re poorer: Bill Jamieson in The Scotsman argues although Scottish unemployment is falling, the numbers in work are still down compared to the UK as a whole.

Energy prices: Iain MacWhirter in The Herald criticises the rising price of energy in Scotland, when Scotland has such a vast surplus in electricity and gas.

Wednesday 20 February

Financial rights: Ailsa McKay writing in The Scotsman argues that the forthcoming referendum on independence provides Scotland with the opportunity to think creatively about how we design and deliver state welfare in a new Scotland.

Culture: Alan Riach writing in The Herald argues that the cultural argument should play a pivotal role in the argument for independence.

Scottish poverty: Brian Wilson writing in The Scotsman comments on the End Child Poverty campaign’s report that there are wards in Scotland where over 20 per cent of children live in poverty and criticises the accusation from some nationalists that the English are responsible for Scotland’s problems and are stealing Scottish money and resources.

Tuition fees: Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph argues that whilst the SNPs policy for free tuition may only be a short-term winner, trying to convince voters that  failing to charge fees will affect the poor is a hard sell.

Tuesday 19 February

Welfare costs: David Bell in the Scotsman suggests that Scots would face rising taxes to meet welfare demands if the country became independent because there are a higher proportion of pensioners and people on benefits in Scotland.

Tory party: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments on Ruth Davidson’s speech in which she set out a number of policies to help the Scottish Conservatives broaden their appeal.  Policies include extending free nursery provision to two-year-olds, developing vocational education in school for 14 and 15 year-olds and allowing a return to 95% mortgages to help people on to the housing ladder.

Import-export balance: Peter Jones in the Scotsman comments on conflicting figures regarding the state of Scotland’s import-export balance.

Soft drink tax: Collette Douglas Home in the Herald comments on suggestions that a tax on fizzy drinks would should be introduced to help tackle obesity.

Monday 18 February

Women and independence: Writing in the Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch reflects on polls which indicate lower support for independence amongst women. She argues that women want ‘concrete evidence that independence will change all lives – not just some lives for the better’.

Sunday 17 February

Food safety in Scotland: In a Scotland on Sunday piece, Richard Lochhead criticises what he describes as the complacency of retailers in light of the growing food safety scandal. Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter reflects on the lack of trust in the industry, noting that there is no excuse for the financial and health scandals of recent years.  

Work Programmes: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Ian Bell discusses the mandatory work programmes for job seekers, pointing out that work placement programmes which see jobseekers forced into positions at Poundland and retailers don’t necessarily equip jobseekers with the necessary skills to succeed.

Friday 15 February

Ed Miliband: Poly Toynbee in The Guardian reacts to Ed Miliband’s latest speech in which he announced his support for a Mansion Tax to fund the reinstatement of the 10p tax band. She delves further into the speech claiming that he is a leader with a vision as he attempts to redefine the economic debate to focus not so much on ‘the squeezed middle’ but those on low income.