Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 18 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.
Press reforms: Party leaders at Westminster were in the midst of negotiating a deal on Leveson press reforms with a vote in the House of Commons today. The Parties are reportedly divided on whether or not the Royal Charter for media outlets should be underpinned by statute. Sources indicate that the First Minister and the SNP are increasingly wary of implementing the press reforms recommended by Lord Leveson and the Scottish Lord McCluskey panel, fearing that measures, which would be some of the strictest in the Western world, might be open to challenge under the ECHR. Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Alex Massie responds to the McCluskey press report, which he describes as naive and out of date. 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. The Sun has launched an attack on proposals for legislation, urging MPs not to shackle the press, linking the independence of the press with democracy and freedom. 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. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Herald page 3, The Herald page 8, Daily Record page 6, Daily Express page 4, The Times page 1, Financial Times page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Guardian page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 2)
Budget projections: Chancellor George Osborne is reportedly expected to fast-track pension and social care reforms in order to win support from the ‘grey vote’ ahead of Wednesday’s budget. The single-tier pension is expected to be introduced in 2016, a year earlier than expected and the cap on social care will be increased. 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. In The Herald, Andrew McKie urges the Chancellor to be bold and think about the voters rather than the banks. (The Scotsman page 1, Scottish Sun page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 4)
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. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Express page 2)
Scottish Lib Dem conference: At the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference in Dundee, Danny Alexander pledged to crack down on companies using offshore headquarters to dodge their tax bills. Party members used the conference to attack ministers over the implementation of the ‘bedroom tax’, voting overwhelmingly against the tax, a snub to both the UK-wide and Scottish leadership which has defended the measures. (Scotland on Sunday page 4, Sunday Herald page 9)
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.
Iraq war: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Alex Salmond marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war, which will be marked by a debate on the war and Scotland’s role in the world in the Scottish Parliament this week. (Sunday Herald page 32)
Defence projections: Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson has warned that an independent Scotland would struggle to attract the 15,000 troops necessary for a Scottish defence force, likening it to Dad’s Army. (Scottish Sun page 2)
Referendum date: The date for the Autumn 2014 referendum is expected to be announced this week. Religious groups have rallied against a plan for a Saturday vote, with the Jewish community expressing concerns that this would disenfranchise the community. The Saturday date has been considered as a means of boosting the turnout. Thursday 9 October and 16 October are considered to be the likeliest dates. (The Sunday Times page 6, The Times page 9, The Daily Telegraph page 7)
Post-independence plans: Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said that the SNP was drawing up secret plans for extended powers should the referendum on independence fail. The Scottish Government denied that plans were in progress, arguing that ministers were fully focused on the 2014 referendum. (The Daily Telegraph page 7)
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.
Single police force bill: Scotland’s single police force will immediately face a bill of £1 million for officers and staff suspended or on leave while criminal and disciplinary measures are carried out. Scottish Conservative Chief Whip John Lamont has spoken out against the costs as a waste of money. (The Herald page 1)
Scotland’s green energy: Tom Greatrex, Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister is expected to claim that the UK will not need to rely on Scottish green energy to meet its commitments to carbon reduction, claiming that the UK could shop around for green energy sources. (The Herald page 5)
Genetic testing: Professor Lord Robert Winston is expected to give a lecture in Edinburgh this week in which he warns that advances in genetic technologies can lead to genetic meddling in which parents attempt to boost their children’s intelligence. He notes that current controls on fertility treatments have not been able to keep pace with advances in technology. (The Scotsman page 5)
Violence reduction: The Scottish Violence Reduction unit is rolling out a new jobs scheme which was met with success in the United States at rehabilitating violent offenders and integrating them into their communities in response to the challenges that ex-convicts face in securing gainful employment. (The Herald page 7)
Local government satisfaction: A survey of people in Scotland has found a wide degree of variation in satisfaction with local government services, including schools, social care and waste disposal. The information was released by the Information Service and also included data on expenditure and government efficiency. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)