Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 18 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. In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.
Food safety in Scotland: A report by The Herald reveals that over four years, food safety testing has declined by one third, in the midst of budget cuts and redundancies. Allegations have also emerged that ministers at Westminster were warned of issues with the equine passport scheme which allowed horsemeat to enter the food supply. The cuts are particularly controversial given recent revelations about horsemeat sold as beef. 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. (Sunday Herald page 8)
Scotland and the EU: In an interview in the Sunday Times, Nicola Sturgeon claims that an independent Scotland would benefit from a fast-track accession process to the EU and would not be required to sign a new treaty. The University of Edinburgh’s Andrew Scott has been appointed for a two year term with the Scottish Government to provide advice on the government’s European engagement strategy. (The Scotsman page 6, Sunday Times page 1, The Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 4, Daily Express page 4)
Gay marriage and Muslim community: The Muslim community is expected to begin lobbying MSPs over proposals to introduce same-sex marriage in Scotland. Representatives of the Muslim Council of Scotland have said that proposals put forth by the SNP government have had a negative effect on support for the party. (Sunday Herald page 26)
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’.
Nicola Sturgeon on independence: In an interview in the Sunday Herald, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon discusses the bedroom tax and implications for Scottish families, the behaviour of women voters, and issues surrounding the referendum. (Sunday Herald page 24)
Scotland and Treaties: Writing in the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll addresses the legal analysis put forth by Westminster, noting that many of the 14,000 treaties to which the UK is party may be outdated or superfluous.
Work programmes: Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has rebuked graduates for protesting against work schemes which would see them stocking shelves. The remarks were made in response to a suit by a geology graduate who was required to work at Poundland. 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. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 4)
Retail vacancies: One in ten storefronts is vacant, leading to calls for action from the Scottish government by the Scottish Retail Consortium. The SRC asked for cuts to business rates, noting a discrepancy between rates in England and in Scotland. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 3, Daily Record page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 10)
Income inequality: Writing in the Sunday Times, Gillian Bowditch analyses the emphasis on income inequality and social justice in the debate about independence. She attributes Scotland’s rising income inequality to the legions of long-term unemployed and ageing populations, noting that entrepreneurship and innovation should not be sacrificed in pursuit of a short-term fix.
Child poverty: A report by the Campaign to End Child Poverty has found that one in five children in Scotland lives in Poverty with 27 of 32 local authorities having 20 per cent child poverty rates. (The Scotsman page 17, The Herald page 2)
Teen pregnancy prevention: The Scottish Sexual Health Lead Clinicians Group has issued a report urging the Scottish government to allow for the dispensation of condoms and the morning-after pill in Scottish schools in response to high rates of teen pregnancy, one of the highest in Western Europe. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Express page 9, Scottish Sun page 23)
Paediatric staffing shortage: Health boards have identified an increasing number of unfilled vacancies for paediatric doctors, some lasting up to two years. Staffing gaps are currently being filled by locums or consultants leading to concern over working hours and continuity of care. (The Herald page 1)
Tuition fees: According to NUS Scotland, the decision by the Scottish government to allow universities to charge English students £9,000 a year will lead to declining income for Aberdeen, Abertay, Queen Margaret and West of Scotland as they see student numbers from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland fall. (The Herald page 1)
Transport rankings: A Which? survey evaluated customer satisfaction with transportation services, with East Coast and ScotRail scoring 58 per cent and 53 per cent approval respectively. Virgin Rail topped the list with 67 per cent of travellers endorsing the service. (The Scotsman page 7, The Guardian page 19)
Urban development: Controversy erupted in response to a piece in Foreign Policy magazine which described Edinburgh as a ‘dystopian wasteland’ in the midst of significant decline. The magazine concludes that the capital isn’t one that befits an independent country. (Sunday Herald page 4, Sunday Times page 4)