Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 4 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.
Eastleigh by-election: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon weighed in the recent Eastleigh by-election which saw UKIP in second place. Ms Sturgeon claimed that this was indicative of a growing divergence between England and Scotland and would encourage both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives to move further to the right. Scottish Tory Alistair Mackenzie announced his resignation from the Conservative party, claiming that Conservatives are increasingly out of touch with the voter. 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. (Sunday Herald page 8, Brian Monteith in the Scotsman, Sunday Times page 19, Tim Montgomerie in the Times, James Kirkup in the Daily Telegraph)
European Court of Human Rights: 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. This is despite pledges by Prime Minister David Cameron to avoid moving to the right in light of the Eastleigh by-election defeat. The Scottish Human Rights Commissioner Professor Alan Miller has criticised plans, describing it as a backwards step. (The Guardian page 9, The Herald page 5, Andrew McKie in the Herald, Daily Telegraph page 7, Daily Express page 6)
Cardinal Keith O’Brien: The Sunday Herald issued a special report on allegations against Cardinal Keith O’Brien who until last week was the UK’s highest ranking Catholic. The Cardinal has been accused of inappropriate behaviour and this weekend admitted to sexual misconduct. Professor John Haldane of St. Andrew’s has brought forward a proposal that would require priests to sign a celibacy vow in light of the scandal. (Sunday Herald page 27, The Guardian page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 1, Tom Devine and John Haldane in the Scotsman, Sunday Times page 1, Gillian Bowditch and Jason Allardyce in the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Record page 1, Scottish Sun page 4, Daily Express page 1)
Pesticide ban and bee populations: The Scottish Government is under pressure from environmentalists to back a ban on pesticides which are putting bee populations at risk. Westminster has rejected the EU legislation saying that the science is incomplete. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)
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.
Soldiers in Scotland: Plans to move 7,000 soldiers from closing German bases to Leuchars have been scaled back, with only a ‘modest increase’ in the number of troops stationed at the base. The SNP has accused the Ministry of Defence of backtracking on their promises. (The Herald page 2, The Times page 1, Daily Record page 7)
Devo Plus pledge: The Devo Plus group has urged Labour, Liberal Democrats, and Conservatives to sign the Glasgow Agreement in which they would agree to incorporate a pledge for more fiscal powers for Scotland in their 2015 General Election and 2016 Scottish Parliament manifestos. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Alan Cochrane describes the proposal as providing a ‘consolation prize for Alex Salmond’ (The Scotsman page 8)
Oil and gas jobs: A report by Lloyds Banking Group indicates the potential for 34,000 new oil and gas jobs in Scotland, noting that Scottish operations were more expansionist than English ones and were likely to embrace diversification. (The Scotsman page 14, The Times page 15)
Scottish tourism: VisitScotland chief Mike Cantlay urged tourism operators to think beyond ‘whisky and Nessie’ when promoting the Scottish brand abroad. (The Scotsman page 16)
Public services post-independence: Claims by Unionists that Scottish citizens will be denied access to the British healthcare system have been dismissed by the SNP. Writing in the Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch reflects on the need to address pressing concerns about the future of public services in an independent Scotland. (The Times page 1, Daily Express page 4)
Drink driving regulations: New drink driving regulations which will lower Scotland’s legal limit to the EU average of 50mg from the UK’s 80mg may cause concerns for tourists and business travellers, unaware of the discrepancy between England and Scotland. The Scottish Government has announced plans for awareness raising ahead of the law, the powers for which were granted in last year’s Scotland Act. (Sunday Herald page 5, Daily Express page 4)
Victims’ surcharge: Families of crime victims have criticised plans introduced by the Scottish Government to introduce new legislation for supporting victims, including a victims’ surcharge. Campaigners call for further action from the government including the introduction of case companions to assist families during criminal proceedings. (The Herald page 5)