Reform Scotland News: 20 May 2013

Politics

Conservative controversy: The Prime Minister has expressed his support for Lord Feldman. The senior party member has been accused of describing grassroots activists amongst the party as ‘swivel-eyed loons’. Grassroots activists and backbenchers have also challenged the Prime Minister’s stance on gay marriage, characterising it as a distraction from the party’s core aims and attributing its advancement as responsible for growing support for Ukip. (Scotland on Sunday page 2, The Herald page 6, Andrew McKie in the Herald, The Times page 1, Daily Telegraph page 1,The Guardian page 7)
 
UK immigration policy: Scotland’s external affairs minister Humza Yousaf has challenged the immigration reforms laid out in the Queen’s Speech, characterising them as ‘damaging’ to Scotland’s economy. He argues that the approach would deter skilled workers from coming to Scotland and noted opposition to the measures from Scottish businesses, trade unions, charities and universities. (The Scotsman page 5)
 
UKIP: Otto Inglis, the Ukip candidate for the Aberdeen-Donside by-election has been linked with the right-wing Letter Writers Guild which has made controversial statements on the nature of Islam. Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Euan McColm reflects on Nigel Farage’s canny use of the media in Scotland, noting that the party leader knows Ukip won’t win the Aberdeen by-election but is using it as an opportunity to raise the profile of the party in Scotland. In the Scotsman, Brian Monteith urges Alex Salmond to condemn the treatment of Nigel Farage (who required a police escort after activists disrupted an event) in the name of free speech. (Sunday Herald page 18, The Sunday Times page 4)
 
Kirk divide: Prof David Fergusson of Edinburgh’s School of Divinity has proposed a compromise motion on the controversial issue of gay marriage. This would allow congregations to exercise a conscience clause in the case of the ordination of gay ministers. Professor Fergusson says this is a means of preventing a deep split in the church. The bill will face a vote today. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Scotsman page 1, Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman, The Herald page 5, The Sunday Times page 5, Libby Purves in the Times)
 
Falkirk by-election threat: Eric Joyce has pledged to force a by-election for his seat in Parliament should Labour leaders engage in what he describes as a political ‘fix’. The MP was responding to allegations that Unite was heavily promoting a given candidate. (Sunday Herald page 3, The Scotsman page 5)
 
George Galloway: Respect MP George Galloway has made claims regarding the future of Roman Catholics in an independent Scotland, warning that they might face discrimination. He also called the future of Catholic schools into question. The SNP responded to his claims, describing him as ‘out of touch’. (Sunday Herald page 19)
 
Yes Scotland consultant: Businessman Mark Shaw has been engaged as a part-time consultant for the Yes Scotland campaign, an effort to boost coordination between the campaign and the SNP. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

Economy
Post-independence economy: A Treasury report has claimed that an independent Scotland would be unable to underwrite savings up to £85,000 in the event of bank collapse. The paper also warned that the Scottish economy would be more reliant on the banking sector than Cyprus and Iceland, both countries which have seen their economies devastated by bank failure. John Swinney has argued that the calculations by the Treasury are outdated, failing to take into consideration the substantial banking reforms that have occurred since 2008. (The Scotsman page 1, Sunday Herald page 20, John Swinney in the Sunday Herald, Financial Times page 4, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Express page 2)
 
Youth unemployment: A report by the Scotland Institute found that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are increasingly subject to part-time and insecure work. Youth unemployment has increased from 16 per cent in 1992 to 20 per cent in 2012. The report acknowledged that the Scottish Government was restricted in the competences available to them but the government was encouraged to open up opportunities to youth in the public sector. (Scotland on Sunday page 10, Scottish Daily Mail page 8)

Justice
Domestic violence reporting: The Association for Scottish Police Superintendents are expected to back an initiative, known as Clare’s Law in England where it has been introduced, which would require men with previous domestic violence convictions to disclose them. It might also allow police and community officers to warn women involved with those convicted without falling afoul of data protection laws. The scheme is expected to be controversial amongst human rights campaigners. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Herald page 4, The Times page 17)

Health
Breast cancer testing: A test for the genetic mutation which may lead to breast cancer will be made available to women in England and Wales who have moderate risk factors in their family history. The test will remain restricted in Scotland to women who have a strong family history. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Herald page 3, The Times page 4, Daily Express page 3)