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Reform Scotland News: 29 April 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

Yes Scotland: Dennis Canavan, the chairman of Yes Scotland, claims the campaign needs to ‘sharpen up’ and focus on the climate of austerity if it hopes to win next year’s referendum. Lesley Riddoch writing in the Scotsman argues the SNP is failing to fight back positively against what she describes as ‘the relentless negativity of the No Campaign’. The interventions follow a YouGov poll in which 62% of those surveyed said the SNP’s case for independence was either ‘not very convincing’ or ‘not convincing at all’. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2, Telegraph page 1, Express page 2, Sunday Times page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Courier page 15, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

 

Labour Vote: Party members in Falkirk have been warned they may be ineligible to vote in the contest to select a candidate to replace Eric Joyce for the 2015 General Election. They will only be permitted to take part if they fill in a direct debit mandate. (Herald page 6)

 

Coalition Disagreement: Coalition ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Nick Clegg disagreed over the correct approach to pensioners’ benefits. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 10, Press and Journal page 17, Daily Mail page 8, Courier page 15)

 

Mary Lockhart: The chair of the Scottish Co-operative Party stepped down after writing an article in favour of Scottish independence. Mary Lockhart was a former member of Labour’s Scottish Executive. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

 

Church of Scotland: Euan McColm writing in the Scotland on Sunday argues the SNP might have been too quick to dismiss the intervention of the Church of Scotland in the referendum debate.

 

Economy

Infrastructure Spending: A report by the public accounts committee has branded the coalition government’s £310 billion infrastructure project to revive the economy as ‘unrealistic’. (Scotsman page 10, Daily Mail page 2)

 

Independence: Senior political figures and commentators have continued to debate the economic prospects and currency choices for a future independent Scotland. (Sunday Herald page 10) Gillian Bowditch writing in the Sunday Times argues that neither the SNP nor the Westminster government has a strong position on the economy if there is a Yes vote. Andrew Wilson writing in the Scotland on Sunday argues the currency question is not about whether Scotland could use sterling after independence but whether it should. Iain MacWhirter writing in the Sunday Herald argues the Better Together campaign is having success at creating doubt, highlighting pensions as the latest area of uncertainty. The Finance Secretary John Swinney writing in the Sunday Herald claimed sterling was a joint asset which Scotland was entitled to inherit. Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, also writing in the Sunday Herald disagreed and asked if there was a Plan B.

 

RBS: A consortium fronted by former Tesco finance director Andy Higginson has offered Royal Bank of Scotland £3 billion for 316 branches the bank needs to sell by the end of the year on the orders of the European Commission. (Sunday Times page 3)

 

Oil and Gas: Michael Fallon, the UK’s Energy Minister, has warned oil and gas leaders are concerned about the prospect of a Yes vote and such an outcome might lead to reduced North Sea investment. (Press and Journal page 1)   

 

Justice

Legal Fines: The Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill will reportedly today produce new plans that will give court officials greater access to the records of the Department of Work and Pensions to allow them to deduct money from the benefits of those who default on their court-imposed fines. (Scotsman page 14, Daily Record page 18)

 

Criminal Assets: Criminals in Scotland have been stripped of more than £80 million since the Proceeds of Crime Act came into effect in 2003. (Sunday Times page 15, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 20, Scotland on Sunday page 8, Sunday Herald page 5)

 

Health

Cigarette Ban: A ban on the public display of cigarettes in Scottish supermarkets comes into effect today. Brian Monteith writing in the Scotsman argues that the Scottish Government’s ban is the latest attempt to demonise smokers. He is also unconvinced that there is any evidence to suggest it will reduce the numbers of young people taking up smoking. (Herald page 8, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 14)

 

Multiple Sclerosis: A report published today has reportedly revealed ‘glaring gaps’ in the treatment and support available to suffers of MS across Scotland. Only a third of those with the condition are benefiting from life-transforming medicines which is one of the worst rates in Europe. (Herald page 1)

 

Motor Neurone Disease: The charity with campaigns in Scotland to raise awareness of MND has called for sufferers to be exempted from fitness-to-work tests and the bedroom tax. (Herald page 2

 

Health and Austerity: A new academic report will claim that austerity programmes across Europe and North America are having a detrimental impact on public health. (Herald page 4)

 

Local Government

Police Investigation: Gordon Matheson, Labour leader of Glasgow City Council, is reportedly being investigated by police over alleged misconduct during the contest to redesign George Square. Political opponents have renewed calls for him to resign. (Scotsman page 7, Daily Mail page 27, Sunday Herald page 2)

 

Budget Overspends: The cost of keeping roads open during the spring cold snap has forced six councils to collectively overspend their winter budgets by almost £4.5 million. (Herald page 1)

 

Transport

Travel to England: The proportion of people using trains instead of planes to travel from Scotland to England has doubled according to new figures. This has been attributed to faster and more frequent services, the availability of wi-fi and discounted tickets. (Scotsman page 1)

 

Petrol Consumption: According to the AA, petrol sales in the month of March were the lowest since January 1990. Experts believe this has resulted from motorists trying to reduce fuel bills by buying smaller cars and using public transport. (Daily Mail page 4)

 

Local Transport: The chair of the Scottish Transport Studies Group has called for a more integrated local transport network and better pedestrian access to major town and city streets ahead of the publication of a major Scottish Government transport report. (Sunday Herald page 16)   

 

Education

Foreign Language Learning: An analysis of education statistics carried out by The Scotsman has revealed that only one in ten S5 pupils in Scotland are taking foreign language courses. Experts warned this might have a detrimental effect on Scotland’s standing in the world. (Scotsman page 1)