Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 4 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.
Post-Referendum planning: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter responds to the suggestion made by the Electoral Commission that the opposing camps issue a joint statement on what a yes vote would mean. He notes that the unionist campaign has largely been based on threats: economic uncertainty, border police, expulsion from the EU, which would only come to fruition if the UK government decided to behave belligerently in negotiations. Recent polling indicates that when asked ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ 32 per cent said yes. (The Scotsman page 4)
Referendum campaign funding: Reports reveal that all or part of the £2 million referendum war chest given for the Yes campaign has been retained by the SNP which is encouraging the Yes Scotland campaign to raise its own funds for the referendum. (Sunday Herald page 3, The Scotsman page 4)
Implications of a no vote: In the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll discusses the Electoral Commission’s recommendations, noting it is an opportunity for greater clarity. Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie urges unionist parties to join with nationalists to discuss the implications of a no vote and develop a plan for more economic and constitutional powers for Scotland.
Gay marriage debate: Rebel Tory MPs may undermine the UK government’s plans to introduce legislation that would allow for gay marriage in England. As many as 180 MPs are expected to abstain or vote against the bill although it is expected to pass with support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. (The Guardian page 2, The Scotsman page 14, The Herald page 6, Andrew McKie in the Herald, Financial Times page 2)
Conservative electoral priorities: Conservatives are reportedly planning to include Scottish constituencies on their list of 40 marginal seats to contest in 2015. Ruth Davidson’s announcement about further powers to Holyrood may symbolise the party’s desire to mount a comeback in Scotland, where they have only 1 MP. (Financial Times page 2)
Informing the debate: Writing in the Sunday Times entrepreneur Tom Hunter calls for more evidence and less emotion in the debate about independence. He urges Scots to reflect on the degree of change they want.
Holyrood bubble: A report by the Jimmy Reid Foundation indicates a growing gap between those who work in and around Holyrood and the average person. They note that the disproportionate influence of high earners may shape policy and lead to group think. (Sunday Herald page 22)
Redundancy costs: More than £600 million has been paid out in the form of ‘golden goodbyes’, redundancy payments made to public sector workers laid off due to austerity measures. This figure includes high profile early retirements. The most drastic cuts were made to the Scottish Prison Service, Scottish Enterprise, and quangos, while the Scottish Government has shielded the health service from the worst of the cuts. (Sunday Herald page 8, Daily Telegraph page 4, Daily Express page 6)
Jim McColl on independence: Scottish businessman Jim McColl has backed independence, a response, he says, to the overemphasis of UK economic policy on London and the southeast. He urges a ‘management buy-out’ in which economic policy, including taxation powers, would be devolved to Scotland. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 3, Daily Telegraph page 7)
George Osborne on banks: Chancellor George Osborne is expected to warn banks that their failure to comply with the directives of the Banking Reform Bill will lead to banks being broken up to minimise risks to consumers and the tax payers. (The Herald page 1, Financial Times page 1, The Sunday Times page 2)
Icelandic fisheries: Despite announcing cuts to their quotas, Icelandic fisheries have come under criticism from the Scottish government and the fishing industry for their history of overfishing, leading to falling stocks. (The Times page 13, Daily Telegraph page 10)
Victim surcharge: A new law expected to be put forth by the Scottish Government will require those convicted, sentenced, and fined in court to pay into a victim fund for victims in need. (The Herald page 1)
Tuition fees legal challenge: An attempt by two English students to contest tuition fees charged to English students as discriminatory has failed as the students were unable to secure legal aid. (The Herald page 8)
Forth Crossing claims: Edinburgh Council has demanded £4.4 million from the Scottish government to cover compensation claims for complaints regarding noise, vibration, and smells on work relating to the Forth Crossing approach roads. (The Scotsman page 1)
Bus pass funding: Ralph Roberts, Managing Director of McGill’s bus service has claimed that the £10 million in funding announced by the Scottish Government covers only part of the expected shortfall, noting that buses are essentially carrying passengers for free. (The Herald page 10)
High speed rail: The proposals for high speed rail to connect London and the North will not reach Scotland until 2050 or 2060, leaving Scottish politicians and taxpayers wondering why they are subsidising development in the South. Planners cite the lack of critical mass to justify the implementation of high speed rail. (The Sunday Times page 14)
Flu vaccination research: Researchers in Edinburgh are working to develop flu vaccines which would be able to be updated as the virus changed and deployed quickly should a pandemic flu occur. (Sunday Herald page 8)
Air pollution concerns: Friends of the Earth Scotland has issued a report in which 26 locations with unsafe levels of pollution were named. Up to 3,000 people a year in Scotland are expected to die prematurely because of pollution, 10 times the number of people killed in road crashes. (The Herald page 2, Scottish Sun page 25)