A week in Scottish politics: 14 to 20 June 2013


Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 14 and 20 June, which are freely available online.

Thursday 20th June

Mansion House speech:  Jennifer Thompson & Patrick Jenkins in the FT and Chris Giles in the FT comment on George Osborne’s Mansion House speech, in which the chancellor said that the government would “urgently review” the recommendation from the UK parliament’s banking commission to split RBS into a “good bank” and a “bad bank”.

Crown Dependencies: David Torrance in the Scotsman looks at the governance structures of the UK’s Crown Dependencies and considers how those structures can inform the Scottish constitutional debate.

Fiscal powers: Simon Howie in the Scotsman argues that Scottish Parliament needs greater fiscal powers to help attract inward investment, whether by devolving greater powers or independence.

SMEs: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments that small and medium-sized enterprises could help the economy grow again.

Pensions: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments that Finance Secretary John Swinney needs to be more honest about what would happen to pensions in Scotland following independence.

Island councils: Tavish Scott in the Scotsman argues that too much power has been centralised in Edinburgh and that island councils want policies and powers that recognise their difference.

NHS in Scotland: Helen Puttick in the Herald comments on the annual representative meeting of the British Medical Association, which is to take place in Edinburgh despite the many differences between the NHS in Scotland and England.

New Banking Legislation: Iain MacWhirter in The Herald and Joris Luyendijk in The Guardian comment on new legislation that could see reckless bankers jailed and their bonuses returned.

Wednesday 19th June

European Union: Allan Massie writing in the Scotsman comments on the increasingly Eurosceptic Conservative party and Ken Clarke’s new role in the negotiations of a trade deal between the EU and North American Free Trade Agreement.

Independence: Barra Collins writing in the Scotsman compares Scotland’s current position to Ireland’s before it became a republic. He argues that, as in Ireland, there is a desire for independence, but Scotland is better prepared to support itself after independence than Ireland was.

Yes campaign: Natalie McGarry writing in the Scotsman calls on the Yes campaign to show the opportunity that independence offers and warns that they are at risk of alienating large parts of the Scottish electorate who cannot identify with their current campaign.

Military defence: Ian Bell writing in the Herald criticises the Ministry of Defence and the Government for making army personnel redundant and continuing to spend on nuclear weapons, drones and aircraft carriers.

University residency tests: Denis Edwards writing in the Scotsman criticises Universities Scotland’s suggestion of a residency test for students before receiving free tuition and suggests that it would weaken Scotland’s place in Europe.

Tuesday 18th June

European Union: Peter Jones from the Scotsman, however, has claimed that no correct answer to the issue of Scotland’s membership in the EU is certain until the vote is cast.

Monday 17th June

Welfare and independence: Andrew Nicoll in the Scottish Sun comments on suggestions that there would be a five year transitional period for welfare and benefits following independence.

Lesley Riddoch on independence: Writing in the Scotsman, Lesley Riddoch discusses her qualified support for independence, particularly in light of her support for an intermediate devo-plus option and her resistance to joining the yes campaign.

Sunday 16th June

Education reform: Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Liz Smith, education spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives, discusses new trends in Scottish education, including the attempt to start a new school in Edinburgh and other demands for greater diversity.  She credits these in part to Keir Bloomer and the Commission for School Reform.

Stephen Hester resignation: Writing in the Sunday Herald, Ian Bell responds to the resignation of Stephen Hester, noting the compensation the ex-RBS chief received and questioning Chancellor George Osborne’s role in his resignation. In Scotland on Sunday, Terry Murden and Martin Flanagan note that Mr Hester’s resignation might have been politically expedient as George Osborne explores the sale of the taxpayer-owned shares in the bank

Anti-Islamic tension in Scotland: Writing in Scotland on Sunday, Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh has warned that Scotland is not immune to anti-Islamic tensions experienced in England.

G8 conference: Euan McColm in Scotland on Sunday comments ahead of David Cameron attendance at the G8 in Northern Ireland this week.

Friday 14th June

Further Education: Alison Payne in the Scotsman comment on Reform Scotland’s latest report ‘A New Deal for Scotland’s Colleges’. The report calls for the vital role that colleges play to be more widely recognised and for them to be given greater independence so that they can respond more effectively to the needs and wishes of their local communities and students.

Tuition fees: Andrew Denholm writing in the Herald comments on the findings of an Edinburgh University study into the social mix of students at UK universities.

Protests: Joyce McMillan writing in the Scotsman criticises the police, media and general public for their attitudes towards protestors and finds similarities between the treatment of protestors in London and Istanbul.

First Ministers Questions: Alan Cochrane writing in the Telegraph comments on Johann Lamont’s questioning of Alex Salmond’s plans for independence and the division within the SNP party over what independence actually means.

RBS: George Kerevan in the Scotsman and Alison Rowat in the Herald comment on the resignation of Stephen Hester as chief executive of the Royal Bank of Scotland and accusations that Chancellor George Osborne has been engineering the resignation.