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A week in Scottish politics: 8 to 14 February 2013

Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 8 and 14 February, which are freely available online.

Thursday 14 February

Opinion caution: Iain MacWhirter in The Herald comments on the attitudes towards opinion polls and why he believes they should be treated with caution

Wednesday 13 February

No campaign: Michael Fry in the Scotsman comments on what he sees as the “deterioration” on the unionist side of the independence debate. 

Opinion polls: Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman suggests that if the opinion polls on the independence referendum were to tighten it could encourage more people to vote.

Back-to-work schemes: Stephen Pollard in the Express comments on the decision by three Court of Appeal judges who ruled that the government’s back-to-work scheme, which involved people having to work for free, was legally flawed.

Hydro-electric power: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments on the 70th anniversary of the legislation which created the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board, a move he describes as the “boldest and most successful industrial venture ever undertaken in the Highlands and Islands”.

University research: Peter Geoghegan in the Scotsman discusses proposals by the UK government to open up access to academic research.

Tuesday 12 February

Pope to stand down: Stephen McGinty in the Scotsman,  Colette Douglas Home in the Herald, David Gardner in the FT, Peter Stanford in the Telegraph, and Andrew Brown in the Guardian comment on the unexpected announcement from Pope Benedict XVI that he is to stand down as pope at the end of February due his age and infirmity. 

Independence implications:  Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph and Peter Jones in the Scotsman comment on reports from the UK government and the Scottish government examining the consequences of independence.

Written constitution: Iain Gray in the Scotsman argues that a written Scottish constitution could undermine the universality of ECHR.

Liam Fox: David Maddox in the Scotsman considers whether a comeback by Liam Fox is likely.

Monday 11 February

English devolution: Writing in The Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch reflects on English resistance to further constitutional change. She notes that English voters appear to support a ‘winner-takes-all’ economic system and a centralised system of government, despite evidence that it benefits London rather than England more broadly.

Sunday 10 February

Referendum prospects: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain MacWhirter discusses the challenges faced by both Yes Scotland and the SNP in the run-up to the referendum. He argues that they can reclaim the debate by focusing on what happens if the referendum does not succeed, capitalising on a ‘confidence gap’ which Unionists have failed to fill.

Friday 8 February

Tax:  George Kerevan in the Scotsman that John Swinney’s announcement that tax will not increase in an independent Scotland may be beneficial in the long run. He argues that keeping tax the same will attract companies to Scotland keeping it competitive. He refutes the idea of a ‘race to the bottom’ in taxes.

Independence: Adam Tomkins comments in the Scotsman that Scotland will not have time, in the proposed timescale of independence, to address key national issues.

FMQs: Alan Cochrane writes in The Telegraph about Alex Salmond losing sight on real national issues while on the campaign for independence. He suggests that the actions of the First Minister are guided by higher constitutional concerns rather than the well-being of the Scottish people.