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Reform Scotland News: 28 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.

 

Politics

 

Salmond Golf Boycott: The First Minister Alex Salmond last night revealed he will not be attending the prestigious Open Championship at East Lothian’s Muirfield links course. Despite being a self-confessed golf fan, Mr Salmond is understood to want to draw attention to his opposition to male-only golf clubs. (Scotsman page 1)

 

Same-Sex Marriage: The Scottish Government yesterday published the bill to legalise same-sex marriage in Scotland, while protecting the rights of churches and religious groups. The Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland took the unusual step of issuing guidance about the type of comments that will be acceptable in submissions during the legislative consultation process. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 1, Times page 4, Record page 2, Sun page 2, Express page 2, Courier page 13, Press and Journal page 17, Mail page 4)

 

Magnus Linklater (Times page 4) supports the introduction of the legislation but says a ‘rational approach’ is needed to address the concerns of opponents. This leads him to describe the Lord Advocate’s intervention as ‘at best rash’.

 

Referendum Voting Age: MSPs yesterday supported a move to lower the referendum voting age. 16-and-17-year-olds will now be able to vote, but a last minute move by the Liberal Democrats to extend the right to prisoners was rejected. The franchise will be based on the local government and Scottish Parliament elections. (Scotsman page 4, Record page 2, Courier page 29)

 

National Theatre of Scotland: The new artistic director of the National Theatre of Scotland has revealed plans to stage a year-long programme coinciding with the independence debate. (Scotsman page 23, Herald page 3, Times page 9)

 

Joyce McMillan writing in the Scotsman argues it is natural and understandable that Scotland’s artistic and cultural communities should overwhelmingly favour a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum. Despite considering many members to be opposed to the SNP, she believes there is general disillusionment with Westminster and natural rejection of the negative campaigning of the No side.

 

Referendum: Michael Fry in the Scotsman laments the lack of political journals offering a space to debate ideas and future visions of Scotland, something that he contends is still of great importance.

 

Gregor Gall in the Scotsman believes it has become evident in the year since the launch of Yes Scotland that the SNP is not really in favour of independence ‘but rather a federal form of devo-max.’ He predicts a confused narrative will undermine the chances of securing a Yes vote in 2014.

 

Labour and Unite: The Unite union has reportedly threatened to take legal action against the Labour Party. An internal report considered by the party’s National Executive Committee suggested the union was trying to ‘stitch-up’ the candidate selection for the Westminster seat of Falkirk by filling the constituency with new members. Unite general-secretary Len McCluskey has written to union members in the constituency and allegedly accused Labour of running a smear campaign. (Herald page 6, Times page 7, Express page 10)

 

EU Budget Rebate: The Prime Minister David Cameron has reportedly received assurances from EU President Herman van Rompuy that Britain will not lose any of its budget rebate. It is believed France wanted Britain to concede 10 per cent of its £3bn rebate to support farming in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. (Sun page 2)      

 

Economy

 

Islands Infrastructure Funding: Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, yesterday pledged to boost renewable energy production in Scottish islands as part of a £100bn UK-wide infrastructure programme. The exact amount has yet to be announced. In addition, the Scottish Government will receive an extra £300m to spend on projects of its own choosing. Mr Alexander also revealed private sector experts have been consulted in a bid to find more efficiency savings. (Scotsman page 8, Record page 2, Mail page 8

 

Family Finances: The price of the minimum standard of living has risen by a quarter over the past five years. Increases in the cost of food, energy, rent and childcare mean families are facing an ‘unprecedented erosion of household living standards’ according to a report published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The increase has outstripped the standard measure of inflation and most wage rises. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 1 Courier page 31, Press and Journal page 15)

 

Scottish Water: Senior bosses at the publicly-owned Scottish Water paid themselves 1.6m last year. This figure includes £237,000 in bonuses of which the chief executive allegedly received £65,000. The annual report also revealed his salary is roughly double the First Minister’s. (Herald page 11, Telegraph page 1, Record page 2)   

 

Transport

 

Edinburgh Trams: The prospect of Edinburgh’s £776m tram system turning a small profit over the next fifteen years is dependent on a tax concession not yet granted by HM Revenue and Customs. Tax advisers believe a large part of the sinking-fund might be tax deductable but the council confirmed it had not yet made approaches to confirm that this was indeed the case. (Times page 9)

 

Health

 

BMA Proposal: The British Medical Association conference in Edinburgh heard all primary school children should receive free fruit and vegetables in a bid to improve health prospects. Under current initiatives, primary 1 and 2 pupils receive fruit and vegetables 3 times a week. It was argued that this should be extended to cover all pupils for every day they attend school. (Scotsman page 18)

 

Education

 

Graduate Employment: Nearly a third of Scottish university graduates are finding employment in non-professional jobs in the retail and service sector, according to figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The average salary for Scottish university leavers was £21,000 compared to £20,000 for those graduating from English universities. (Scotsman page 22, Herald page 8, Telegraph page 2, Mail page 12)

 

Justice

 

Police IT Link: Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House yesterday told the Scottish Parliament’s Justice sub-committee that the cost of a new IT system linking Scotland’s police computers might cost as much as £60m. Staff redundancies as part of the programme might cost as much as £6m.The original estimate for the integration programme was £12m for the first three years. (Herald page 1, Express page 2)