Reform Scotland News: 17 May 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.



TV debate: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore went head to head last night in the first televised debate between the Yes and No camps in the run-up to next year’s referendum. An independent Scotland’s right to keep the pound took centre-stage during the debate. (Scotsman page 1)


Ukip: Ukip’s attempt to hold a press conference at a bar on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has been greeted with angry protests.  Mr Farage made two attempts to leave the bar by taxi before police has to be called in to escort him away from the scene. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 4, Magnus Linklater in the Times, FT page 4, Sun page 1, Express page 5, Record page 7, Guardian page 11, Mail page 7, P&J page 11, Courier page 29)


Political system: Joyce McMillan writing in the Scotsman criticises the focus in Westminster on Benefit fraud rather than tax avoidance and the lack of political leadership on the centre-left of British politics.


EU membership: John Curtice writing in the Scotsman comments on surveys which suggest views on EU membership are very different in Scotland than in England.


Independence: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman argues that Scotland needs to be independent before the rest of the UK leaves the EU.


Purdah: Holyrood ministers may face a tougher legal sanction than their Westminster counterparts on the purdah period banning announcements during the referendum campaign period. (Herald page 6)


EU legal advice: Ministers are under pressure from Conservative and Labour MSPs to publish their legal advice on an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union. The Scottish Government has refused to publish the advice so far but has said that Scotland’s continued membership of the EU will be set out in the White Paper, which will be consistent with the legal advice they have received. (Herald page 6, Times page 11, Sun page 2, Express page 5, Mail page 6, Courier page 30)


Wind farms: Donald Trump’s lawyers have filed a petition against the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Mr Trump is seeking a ruling that a decision not to hold a public inquiry into the wind farm and its subsequent approval were unlawful. (Scotsman page 1, Times page 13, Express page 2, Mail page 19, P&J page 1)


Canada and independence: The Prime Minister of Canada at the time of the last referendum on independence for Quebec has questioned the decision to allow Scottish independence to be decided by a single vote. During a lecture series at the Scotland Office, Jean Chrétien also reportedly warned that the independence referendum campaign could tear families apart. (Times page 9, David Torrance in the Times)


No. 10 rifts: Senior Conservatives have reportedly begun to plan for an early break-up of the coalition amid fears that Nick Clegg will be unable to keep his party in government until 2015. (Times page 1)


Electricity: MSPs have heard that Scotland is at risk of blackouts due to the slow pace of UK electricity market reform. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing commented that the UK Government’s electricity market reform programme is “too slow and too complex”. (Record page 2)



RBS: The Royal Bank of Scotland has announced plans to cut 1,400 jobs over the next two years as part of plans to restructure the retail head office. RBS have insisted that staff working in branches will not be affected. Unions have described the move as “brutal and outrageous” and have highlighted that RBS returned to profit in the first quarter of this year. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 15, Sun page 4, Express page 9, Record page 1, Mail page 12, Courier page 13)


Tax avoidance: Alison Rowat writing in the Herald comments on the increasing evidence of multinational corporations’ tax avoidance and criticises the HMRC for not keeping up with the internet age.



Police spending: Scottish police have been criticised for spending almost £600,000 on foreign travel over the past four years. The police have refused to reveal the purpose of many of the trips including a £26,000 trip to Thailand. (Herald page 10)



Roads: A third of Scotland’s roads are in an unacceptable state of repair according to an official report published today by Audit Scotland. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 7, Telegraph page 11, Sun page 2, Mail page 39, Courier page 31)



Cancer drugs: A Dunbartonshire cancer patient has been forced to consider a move to England in a bid to gain access to a cancer drug on the NHS. The treatment could extend her life and would be prescribed free of charge south of the Border but would cost the family £10,000 for a three month course in Scotland. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 13, Telegraph page 1, Times page 11, Sun page 2, Express page 1, Record page 2, Mail page 5, P&J page 15, Courier page 31)


Free prescriptions: Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph comments on First Minister’s Questions and comments on the difficulty Alex Salmond faced in responding to Johann Lamont’s criticism of the ‘free’ prescriptions system which prevents patients accessing more expensive drugs.



Colleges merger: The Scottish Funding Council has praised the merger of Glasgow’s Central College, Metropolitan College and College of Nautical Studies as a success. The merger has reportedly saved £7.4million. (Record page 2)