Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 February 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
UK legal advice: The UK has published legal advice on the implications of Scottish independence for international organisation membership and participation in treaties. The report, compiled by Professor James Crawford and Professor Alan Boyle indicates that the rest of the UK would remain the signatory to the agreements, and an independent Scotland would have to renegotiate membership in international organisations as well as the 8,500 treaties that Britain is currently party to. In response to the report, Deputy First Minister challenged the conclusions, citing other successful cases and describing it as indicative of the ‘breathtaking arrogance’ of the Westminster government. (The Scotsman page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 1, The Herald page 1, The Guardian page 10, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, Daily Record page 4, Daily Express page 1)
Economic implications of independence: The First Minister’s Fiscal Commission have outlined the economic prospects of an independent Scotland, recommending that the pound should be maintained to the benefit of both Scotland and the rest of the UK. The group described Scotland as a ‘wealthy and productive’ country. (The Scotsman page 7, The Sunday Times page 4, The Times page 1, The Herald page 6)
Scottish special forces: The SNP’s defence spokesman Angus Robertson has indicated that Scotland will need to develop a special forces squadron to counter threats to oil and gas platforms. Reports indicate that the force will cost £10 million to develop and £5 million a year to maintain. (The Sunday Times page 4)
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.
Scotland in the Union: Writing in the Sunday Times, Prime Minister David Cameron outlines his case for the Union. He speaks about the shared history of the United Kingdom, including the institutions of the NHS and BBC and the United Kingdom’s participation in two world wars. He also notes that Scotland within the UK has a greater influence than outwith.
Small nations: Writing in the Sunday Times, David Skilling reflects on Scotland’s prospects as a small nation. He points to ‘small advanced economies’ of Norway, Sweden, and Singapore. He notes that Scotland’s comparative disadvantages are a result of a lack of policy autonomy which would allow it to pursue meaningful economic growth policies.
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.
Scotch beef: The Scottish Government urged consumers to purchase Scotch beef to protect the industry from the negative economic affects of the scandal. Opposition MSPs had criticised the Scottish Government for its inactivity in the face of a growing scandal. (The Scotsman page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 4, Scottish Daily Mail page 7)
Welfare reforms: The Scottish Government has described the cuts to welfare, particularly in regards to support provided to pregnant women and families as ‘an assault on families’. The analysis conducted by the Scottish Government indicates that the average family could be around £700 a year worse off. Cosla has criticised the ‘bedroom tax’ which they fear would penalise people in social housing and lead to an increase in debt and evictions. (The Scotsman page 1, Sunday Herald page 4)
RBS bonus: Controversy has erupted after it emerged that Stephen Hester will receive a bonus of £780,000 in shares just days after his bank was fined £391 million for their role in the Libor rigging scandal. RBS is 81% owned by the taxpayer. (The Scotsman page 10, The Sunday Times page 1, The Herald page 5, The Guardian page 20)
Unpaid fines: A report by the Scottish Court Service indicates that while the use of fines in lieu of court appearances has increased, many of these fines have gone unpaid. Almost 98,000 crimes were solved by the police but the perpetrators received a fine rather than appearing in court. However, 36,000 of these fines have not been paid. (The Sunday Times page 5, The Herald page 5)
Cost of obesity: Researchers at Glasgow University have calculated the costs of treating obesity, including treating associated illnesses, providing medication and A&E care. People with a BMI over 40 cost society an average of £700 a year. (The Sunday Times page 1)
Prescription waste: NHS managers believe that the Scottish Government’s free drugs policy is leading to £26 million in waste each year. The policy has led to an increase in prescriptions for products which were once sold over the counter. (The Sunday Times page 13)