A week in Scottish politics: 15 to 21 March 2013


Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 15 and 21 March, which are freely available online.

Thursday 21 March

Budget: Comment and analysis following George Osborne’s 2013 budget:

Brian Monteith in the Scotsman, David Bell in the Scotsman, John McLaren in the Scotsman, Pete Martin in the Scotsman, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Iain McMillan in the Scotsman, David Watt in the Scotsman, Colin Borland in the Scotsman, Michael Settle in the Herald, Iain MacWhirter in the Herald, Stephen Boyle in the Herald, Ian McConnell in the Herald, Ian Bell in the Herald, Andrew McKie in the Herald,  Max Hastings in the Mail, John McDermott in the FT, Matthew Engel in the FT, Martin Wolf in the FT, Matthew Taylor in the FT, Janan Ganesh in the FT.

Bank of England: Alex Brummer in the Mail considers the impact Mark Canrney, the incoming Governor of the Bank of England, will have.

Independence & the economy: Peter McGregor and Kim Swales in the Scotsman consider whether Scotland’s economic interests are best served within the “spatially polarised UK economy whose general growth performance it typically tracks” or as an independent country.

Devolution: Tavish Scott in the Scotsman argues that devolution should not end in Edinburgh and calls for councils to be given a stronger role.

High streets & housing: Jennifer Cunningham in the Herald comments that empty high street shops and offices could be converted into housing to help meet housing needs.

Wednesday 20 March

Childcare proposals: Rona Dougall in the Scotsman comments on the UK government’s proposals to enable parents in work to receive up to £1,200 a year towards the cost of child, financially rewarding mothers who choose to return to work, but not those who choose to stay at home.

Press regulation: Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, Francis Bennion in the Telegraph and  Simon Jenkins in the Guardian comment on proposals to regulate the press.

Budget day: Robert Kerr in the Scotsman and Mary Riddell in the Telegraph speculate ahead of the Chancellor’s budget due to be delivered today.

Tuesday 19 March

Budget: Paul Johnson writing in the Scotsman comments on Britain’s economy in advance of tomorrow’s Budget and argues that despite households struggling, the pain has been spread across the board and many people remain in employment.

Stephen Pollard writing in the Express argues that tomorrow’s Budget is likely to be the deciding factor in whether or not the Conservatives win the next election and argues that Osborne should cut public spending and cut taxation.

Benedict Brogan writing in Telegraph comments on the forthcoming Budget and how it may be received in light of the doubt caused by events in Cyprus.

Sir Terry Leahy writing in the Daily Mail argues that the coalition’s plan is not working and that public spending and taxes should be cut.

Bedroom tax:  Joan McAlpine writing in the Daily Record criticises plans for the bedroom tax and argues that it is a cruel tax on the poor and disabled.

Holyrood powers: Rachel Ormston and John Curtice writing in the Scotsman comment on the findings of a survey by Scottish Social Attitudes that the majority of people in Scotland would support remaining within the UK, but giving Holyrood responsibility for everything apart from defence and foreign affairs.

Cyprus crash: Treasury minister Greg Clark told MPs yesterday that the government was putting pension payments for British ex-pats with Cypriot bank accounts on hold to ensure they receive them. The move has come as the Cypriot parliament prepares to vote on a bank deposit tax as part of a wider bailout package. (Comment and analysis from Peter Jones writing in the Scotsman and Richard Littlejohn writing in the Daily Mail.)

Press regulation: Polly Toynebee writing in the Guardian comments on the deal agreed by Westminster to introduce rules on press regulation.

Monday 18 March

Press reforms: Iain Macwhirter looks at Ireland’s press regulations as a warning of what might occur in Scotland should proposals go forward. In the Scotsman, Brian Monteith notes that Scotland doesn’t need a home-grown media regulator. Writing in the Scottish Sun, Andrew Nicoll argues that the biggest threat to the free press is people on Twitter who are seemingly free to make claims and notes that regulation of this is impossible.

Budget projections:  In The Herald, Andrew McKie urges the Chancellor to be bold and think about the voters rather than the banks.

Shetland and Orkney: Politicians in Shetland and Orkney have begun discussions on the status of the oil-rich northern islands should the referendum on independence succeed. The islands are expected to use their oil reserves to increase their autonomy regardless of the result. Former Scottish Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott has said that he would support the bid. Writing in the Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch assesses the islands’ bid for autonomy, noting that this could be an interesting chance to learn about community empowerment.

Sunday 17 March

Oil and independence: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Ian Bell responds to Unionist warnings about the potential of Scotland’s oil, noting that other countries, including Norway,  have successfully leveraged their natural resources to fund public services as well as make ethical investments.

Alistair Darling on independence: Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Alistair Darling builds his case for maintaining the Union, noting that the UK is better able to deal with economic challenges together.

Budget projections: Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Eddie Barnes assesses the Chancellor’s prospects for the budget, noting that this may be the last real chance for the Chancellor to make amends before the public goes to the polls in 2015. Also in Scotland in Sunday, Andrew Wilson notes that Prime Minister David Cameron might consider removing Mr Osborne to improve his electoral chances.

Press regulation: Writing in Scotland on Sunday Alex Massie responds to the McCluskey press report, which he describes as naive and out of date.

Friday 15 March

Scottish education system: Graham Leicester  reacts to the Reform Scotland and Centre for Scottish Public Policy report on education. He argues that a stronger sense of direction is needed in the Scottish education system, one that is not overtly designed through targets.  Alex Wood in The Herald also comments, focussing on how Scotland can improve its education in the face of complacency.

Defence: Paul Cornish writes in the Telegraph about SNP plans for defence after independence. He argues that Scotland’s defence capabilities would suffer through lack of resources. Also in the Telegraph Alan Cochrane reacts to Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s rebuttal to Alex Salmond’s defence plans.

Conservative leadership: Alison Rowat speculates about the potential of Theresa May to be Conservative Party leader.