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A week in Scottish politics: 1 to 7 March 2013

Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 1 and 7 March, which are freely available online.

Thursday 7 March 

Scottish budget: John McLaren writing for The Scotsman analyses Scotland’s budget position by looking at the UK’s tax and spend policies as well as North Sea activity.

Currency options: John Kay in The Scotsman writes about Scotland’s currency options and comments on how the currency decision is the most important economic decision for an independent Scotland.

Wednesday 6 March

Troops: Tim Ripley in the Scotsman and Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comment on allegations that  the Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond has gone back on a pledge made by his predecessor, Liam Fox, to base 7,000 troops in Scotland and develop a “super-barracks” outside Edinburgh. 

Catholic Church: Stephen McGinty in the Scotsman and Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comment on the state of the Catholic Church in Scotland following recent revelations regarding Cardinal O’Brien. 

Referendum campaign: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman comments on the positive and negative messages used in the referendum campaign.

Political debate: Robin McAlpine in the Scotsman comments that the possibility of independence is improving the quality of debate in Scotland.

Bankers’ bonuses: Allan Massie in the Scotsman, Ian Bell in the Herald, Joshua Chaffin in the FT, Mail page 2 and Simon Jenkins in the Guardian comment on the proposals to introduce a cap on bankers’ bonus backed by most EU member states.

GERS: Jim Gallagher in the Scotsman comments on Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS) publications and what the figures suggest for an independent Scotland.

Tuesday 5 March

Independence: Andrew Goudie writing in the Scotsman examines the economic ramifications of an independent Scotland and warns that it may face limits as both Scotland and the UK seek safeguards that the other would not tip a “sterling zone” into instability.

Trident: Harry Reid writing in the Herald comments on Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s assertion that any further cuts should be made in welfare and supports Vince Cable’s argument that all the savings required could be made by getting rid of Trident.

Social turmoil: Peter Jones writing in the Scotsman comments on the effects the social turmoil the UK is facing may have on the independence referendum and argues that it may play into the hands of the pro-independence camp.

Acts of Union: David Torrance writing in the Scotsman comments on the document produced by the UK Government on Scottish independence and argues that the history of the United Kingdom is more complicated than either Nationalists or unionists appreciate. 

Cardinal Keith O’Brien: Collette Douglas-Home writing in the Herald and Joan McAlpine writing in the Daily Record comment on the impact Cardinal Keith O’Brien’s revelations with have on the Catholic Church’s credibility and how its moral authority has been damaged.

Commission on School Reform:  Yesterday the Commission on School Reform, which was established by Reform Scotland and the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, published its final report ‘By Diverse Means: Improving Scottish Education’.   The report sets out 37 recommendations and argues that in order to reverse decline in education and become world-beating once again, we need to promote more variety and diversity in Scotland’s schools and increase the autonomy of individual schools.  The Commission believes that empowering schools will not only raise standards across the board but will help to tackle the chronic problem of underachievement among young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Comment and analysis by Keir Bloomer in the Scotsman, Alan McKenzie in the Scotsman, Scotsman Leader, and Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph.

Monday 4 March

UKip: Brian Monteith in the Scotsman comments on the impact UKip could have in Scotland.

European Court of Human Rights: Andrew McKie in the Herald  comments on suggestions that Tory Ministers Chris Grayling and Theresa May are reportedly working on pledges to withdraw the UK from the European Court of Human Rights for the Conservative’s 2015 manifesto.

Cardinal Keith O’Brien:  Tom Devine and John Haldane in the Scotsman comment on the recent revelations regarding Cardinal O’Brien.

Sunday 3 March

Secular Scotland: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Ian Bell argues that an independent Scotland should be a secular state, noting a growing population of atheists and inactive church members in Scotland.

UKip: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Iain Macwhirter reflects on the implications of the ‘Farage factor’ for Scotland’s constitutional future. In Scotland on Sunday, Euan McColm discusses UKIP’s prospects in Scotland, noting that Scottish parties are increasingly worried about the potential threat

Friday 1 March

Referendum: Alan Cochrane comments on Douglas Alexander’s strategy for the ‘No’ campaign. As Alexander attempts to shift the debate away from SNP led constitutionalism, Cochrane analyses the rhetoric of both sides in the debate.

RBS: George Kerevan discusses the selling off of government shares in RBS. He postulates that this strategy is designed for short term gain whereas keeping control of the bank may have longer term benefits.