Reform Scotland News: 17 June 2013


Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 17 June 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.


Aberdeen Donside by-election: Over the weekend, First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were on the campaign trail on behalf of SNP candidate Mark McDonald. Senior Labour members reportedly noted the likelihood of defeat in the Aberdeen-Donside by-election when faced with a 7,000 strong SNP majority. The campaign has hinged on local issues of economic development and transport rather than the larger debate over independence. The SNP has held the seat since 2003. (Sunday Herald page 6, Scotland on Sunday page 5)

EU membership post-independence: Catalan MEP and European Parliament Vice President Alejo Vidal-Quadras has said that both Spain and France would move to block Scottish entry to the EU should Scotland vote for independence in 2014. Writing in the Scotsman, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon responds to the claims, noting the assets that Scotland brings to the table. (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 8, Scottish Sun page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1)

Flight diverted to Prestwick: A flight between Egypt and the US was diverted to Prestwick on Saturday after a threatening note was found on board. Five of the passengers, of Syrian origins, have claimed political asylum upon landing in the UK. It is not clear if there was a link between the note and the asylum claimants. (Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Scottish Sun page 1, Daily Record page 6)

Welfare and independence: Former MP and SNP Deputy Leader Jim Sillars has warned that a five year transitional period for welfare and benefits following independence could sink a yes vote. The move is designed to reassure voters of the security of their benefits and pensions, but concerns have been raised that the move would restrict the ability of Scotland to resist cuts made by Westminster. (Daily Express page 4, Andrew Nicoll in the Scottish Sun, Sunday Times page 1)

Models of independence: Common Weal, a group set up by the Jimmy Reid Foundation, is expected to launch today, outlining a vision for an independent Scotland along the lines of Scandinavian social democracies. The group will set out six blueprints for reform. The organisation was supported by the Church of Scotland although the Church has not taken a side in the independence debate. (The Herald page 5)

Intelligence in an independent Scotland: Dr Andrew Neal discusses the intelligence and security needs of an independent Scotland in light of the PRISM scandal and revelations about the extent of GCHQ activities. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Express page 4, The Times page 19)

Glasgow graduate elected in Iran: A 1970s graduate of Glasgow Caledonian was elected President of Iran this weekend. Dr Hassan Rouhani appears to be oriented towards reform and has pledged to promote a “constructive foreign policy” and enact a humans rights charter at home. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

A view from Canada: Bob Buchan, a Scottish-born Canadian business tycoon, warned that the independence debate risks becoming ‘tiresome’ as it has in Canada. The new Chancellor of Heriot-Watt University also spoke about university funding, encouraging universities to cultivate philanthropists rather than relying on public funding. (Sunday Herald page 6)

Lobbying at Holyrood: Labour MSP Neil Findlay has warned of the “industrial scale” of lobbying at Holyrood. In response, he published a member’s bill proposing further transparency. The Association of Professional Political Consultants has endorsed the publication of the diaries of MSPs. (Sunday Times page 3, Neil Findlay in the Sunday Times)

2015 general elections: Labour, which is currently leading the polls for the 2015 general election, could spurn an alliance with the Liberal Democrats and govern as a minority government, according to Liam Byrne. (Sunday Times page 2)

G8 conference: Prime Minister David Cameron prepares to attend the G8 in Northern Ireland this week. Taxes, transparency in business, economic recovery, and terrorism are expected to top the agenda. (Sunday Herald page 12, Euan McColm in Scotland on Sunday)

Kirk split: Six congregations have resigned from the Kirk following the move to allow gay ordinations. The loss of these congregations could lead to a £1 million shortfall in givings. (Sunday Herald page 14)

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. (The Scotsman page 25)

Alex McLeish: Alex McLeish has leant his support to the Better Together campaign and Sir Alex Ferguson is reportedly expected to follow suit. (Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 2)

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.

LibDem caution: Lord Rennard has been interviewed by police under caution in relation to allegations of sexual harassment. Lord Rennard has pledged to refute the allegations and Nick Clegg was criticised for not investigating more fully. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 11)


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.

Wind subsidies and the economy: SNP Ministers asserted that subsidies for wind farms, paid as a supplement on consumer energy bills, boost the economy and spur investment in Scotland. Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser challenged the claims, noting that wind farm firms are inundating councils with proposals to take advantage of investments. (Daily Telegraph page 13)

Lloyds sale: Chancellor George Osborne is expected to indicate that the sale of Lloyds’ taxpayer owned shares will take place before the General Election of 2015. The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards is expected to criticise Mr Osborne’s actions in regards to RBS. (Financial Times page 1)

Seaside resort revival: Scottish seaside resorts are seeing a revival as consumers seek closer, more affordable destinations. VisitScotland is working to encourage Scots to take advantage of destinations close to home. (Sunday Times page 16)

Tax avoidance schemes: Scottish peer Lord McFall and the Parliamentary Banking Commission will urge the scrapping of tax avoidance schemes set up by banks. The HMRC estimates that the schemes have cost the Exchequer £3 billion. (The Herald page 1)

Jobs boost: The Bank of Scotland indicated a growth in employment and a sharp increase in salaries in Scotland. (Scottish Sun page 2)


Sauna and prostitution concerns: A report by the Sunday Herald raises concerns about the unregulated nature of saunas in Edinburgh which fall under public entertainment ordinances, but are often believed to be linked to the sex trade. Some believe that the operations offer women a layer of protection, keeping them off the streets while other campaigners raise concerns about hidden violence against women. (Sunday Herald page 8)

Trauma of victims’ families: The families of murder victims face a long wait for help from the NHS in Scotland, with waiting lists of more than 16 weeks. These waits may put them at further risk of trauma and suicide. (Scottish Sun page 2)


Elderly healthcare costs: Professor Ian Frazer has raised concerns about the cost of intensive treatment of patients nearing the end of their lives, warning the costs of treating the elderly could limit funds for those who have a better chance of recovery. (The Scotsman page 6)

Regulation of foods: Public health minister Michael Matheson has pledged to introduce legislation on products high in fat, salt and sugar unless food manufacturers agree to regulate themselves. Responding to the proposals in the Sunday Times, Gillian Bowditch warns that people, rather than companies, will pay the price. (Sunday Times page 21)


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.

New state school in Edinburgh: The New School Action Group has urged the Edinburgh Council to adopt plans for a new school to offer more choice for parents. The group reportedly want the new school to be within the local school system but with its own ethos. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

Police in schools: School Liaison Officers have been instrumental in protecting schoolchildren from online grooming and preventing access to cigarettes and alcohol. However, a report by Glasgow Caledonian found that there are still challenges in integrating the SLOs and officers often initially face resistance from staff and students. (The Herald page 4)

University access: A report by the Social Mobility and Poverty Commission found that there were 126 fewer students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds at Russell Group universities in the 2011-12 intake than there were in 2002-3. (The Scotsman page 12)

School exclusions: Outgoing Scottish prisons chief Brigadier Hugh Monro has spoken out against school exclusions, arguing that they may trigger a life of crime and should be illegal. He called instead for inclusion units, like that at Dunfermline High School, for high risk children. (Daily Record page 14, Scottish Sun page 2, Sunday Times page 9)