Reform Scotland News: 22 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.

Independence, tax and debt: Alex Salmond yesterday launched the Scottish government’s paper, ‘Scotland’s Economy: The case for independence”.  The First Minister stated that an independent Scotland would set corporation tax 3 per cent lower than the UK rate in a bid to attract multinational firms.  However, Alistair Darling has argued that if Scotland was part of a currency union with the UK, Westminster could try and block such a move.   Alex Salmond also reportedly commented that an independent Scotland would not pay a share of the UK’s debt if Scotland was not allowed to be part of a sterling zone. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 1, Peter Jones in the Scotsman, Record page 10, Express page 4, Telegraph page 1, FT page 2, Mail page 6, Guardian page 12, P&J page 10, Courier page 14) 

Coalition: Nick Clegg has reportedly warned rebel Conservative MPs to stop playing games and undermining the government and insisted that the coalition would continue until the next election. (Guardian page 1, Courier page 15)
Trade union: The ASLEF, a rail union, has become the first trade union to back the No campaign ahead of the referendum. (Scotsman
page 5)
BBC referendum coverage: The BBC is reportedly going to spend £5m on a new range of TV and radio programmes in the run up to the referendum. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 6)
Brian Wilson in the Scotsman outlines what he envisions would be the difficulties following independence for Scotland and the UK, which share a land border, but would have different immigration policies.
Matt Qvortup in the Scotsman argues that people’s emotions and passion are more importation to winning the independence referendum than economic statistics.
Contradictory campaigns:
Ian Bell in the Herald comments on what he sees as the contradictory messages in both the unionist and independence campaigns.
Arab Spring row: Opposition parties have reportedly criticised External Affairs minister, Humza Yousaf, for making comparisons between the Arab Spring and Scotland’s constitutional debate. (Herald
page 1, Record page 11, Express page 4, Mail page 7, P&J page 11)
Scottish debate: Daniel Finkelstein in the Times comments that he is against independence “sort of”, but can see the credible case for it. However, he comments that the political cost of the union is a big one for him personally as without Scotland “the Tories would have won a majority of 21 at the last election”.

IMF: Eddie Barnes comments ahead of the IMF’s report, due out today, on the UK’s economic situation.

Local government
Kirk care services: Peter Bailey, chief executive of the Church of Scotland’s charitable body, CrossReach, has reportedly warned that care services run by the Kirk could face being downgraded if councils continue to cut funding. (Scotsman page 1

Number of councils: Chief Superintendent David O’Connor, the president of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, has commented that the number of councils and health boards should be cut to save money. (Herald page 1)

Court closures: Eric McQueen, the chief executive of the Scottish Courts Service, has told MSPs that new “justice centres” could see areas such as the Borders moving all court business under one roof. (Herald page 9, Times page 16, Record page 2, Express page 2, Mail page 16, P&J page 18, Courier page 13)

University places: Professor David Bell is expected to tell a conference today that following independence there could be a big increase in students from the rest of the UK coming to study in Scotland. Those students would be entitled to free tuition under EU rules and would increase the competition on Scots for places. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 2)

Cost of drugs: Professor Angela Timoney, chairwoman of the Scottish Medicines Consortium, yesterday told the Scottish Parliament’s health committee that it was sometimes OK to say no to lifesaving drugs if they did not come at a fair price to the NHS. (Scotsman page 1, Mail page 4)