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Reform Scotland News: 1 March 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

Politics

Referendum ‘No’ Campaign: Today Douglas Alexander is expected to give an outline of the approach of the ‘No’ campaign. His vision is reportedly of a ‘national convention’ among the Scottish parties to discuss a long term vision for Scotland within the UK. This is a move that seizes on criticisms of the SNP for focussing too strongly on high constitutional issues rather than the people of Scotland. Mr Alexander is also expected to counter the anti-English rhetoric used by the SNP to paint the English as ‘right-wing foreigners’. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 5, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane)

Watchdogs: SNP MSP John Swinney has outlined plans to rationalise the multitude of regulatory bodies into just one or two if Scotland is to become independent. Currently, areas such as telecommunications, water, energy and transport are governed by their own dedicated regulatory body. However, under these plans there would be just one or two bodies. (Herald page 6, P&J page 14)

EU: EU member states have rejected the notion that Scotland could apply for EU member status ‘from within the EU’, thus bypassing several bureaucratic steps to membership. (Mail page 6)

Eastleigh By-Election: The Liberal Democrats have retained their Westminster Parliamentary seat in Eastleigh. The biggest surprise of the night was the success of UKIP who came second, pushing the Conservatives into third place. (BBC)

Economy

RBS: Bosses at the Royal Bank of Scotland have revealed that they believe that the bank, in which the government owns a majority share, is stable enough to begin being sold back into the private sector. The RBS chairman announced that although there was no timetable for the sale and despite a loss of £5.2bn he was confident that 2014 could mark the bank’s first step back into the private sector. (The Scotsman page 1, George Kerevan, Herald page 2, FT page 1, Record page 10, Express page 19, Guardian page 32, P&J page 32, Mail page 1, Courier page 13)

Publishing: The Scottish publisher Mainstream is to close after 35 years in the capital. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 1)

Justice

Anti-Bigotry Legislation: It has been claimed that police powers under legislation aimed at reducing sectarian violence in football are being misused. Lawyers have suggested that the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act undermines the human rights of football fans. These claims have reportedly led to the legislation being reviewed. (Herald page 8)

Fines: The Scottish Court Service has released figures showing that £26m in fines have, as yet, gone unpaid. (Herald page 9, Mail page 8)

Health

Old Age Support: A Marie Curie Cancer Care poll has highlighted a shortfall in support for the elderly at the end of their lives. 71% of people questioned in this Scottish survey said that they felt there is reluctance to talk about death and 45% saying that they themselves feel uncomfortable talking about it. The report accompanying the figures suggests that the NHS needs to focus on overcoming emotional obstacles if they are to provide sensitive care for the elderly. (Scotsman page 20)

Alcohol:  An academic at Stirling University has done research on exposure to alcohol advertising and has found that children are more exposed to it than their parents. This has prompted another debate into alcohol regulation. (Scotsman page 21, Herald page 4, Guardian page 3, P&J page 12)

NHS waiting times: The row regarding the state of the NHS in Scotland has reignited after a pensioner died after waiting six hours for an ambulance and a further 12 hours for a place on a ward. (Herald page 6, Times page 16, Telegraph page 4, Record page 22, Express page 7, Courier page 17)

Education

Immigration: The UK government has been criticised in a report looking into the impact of new immigration rules on universities in the UK. It revealed that tighter controls on overseas students have led to a fall in applications. The number of Indian students at Scottish universities fell by 25.8% between 2010/11 and 2011/12. (Scotsman page 16, Times page 9, Telegraph page 12, FT page 3, Express page 4)

English texts: The Scottish Qualifications Authority have released the list of texts to be studied by students of English in Scotland. However, the list has been criticised by teachers as being too restrictive. (Herald page 11)