Reform Scotland News: 6 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

 

Votes for prisoners: In an article for the Scotsman, the former chief inspector of prisons, the Very Rev. Dr Andrew McLellan, accuses the Scottish government of ‘weakness’ because of its resistance to allowing prisoners to vote in the referendum. He also said it was trying to ‘wriggle’ out of European law on the issue. (Scotsman page 7)

 

Scottish Conservatives divided: Differences of opinion within the Scottish Conservative party about the devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament have been revealed ahead of the party’s annual conference. One opponent said supporting such a move would be ‘appeasement on a grand scale’ to nationalism. (Scotsman page 8, Telegraph page 15)

 

Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph says the Scottish Tory conference will have a gaping hole in the middle because it will not discuss the party’s position on devolution of more powers, the issue representatives most want to debate.  

 

Independence referendum: Better Together hopes to encourage Scots living in other parts of the UK to urge friends and family in Scotland to vote against Scottish independence. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 16, Press and Journal page 14, Mail page 8)

 

Bill Jamieson, writing in the Scotsman, contends the Yes campaign is struggling to make an impact, two years after the SNP won a mandate to hold an independence referendum. He argues a lack of clarity on what independence will mean is a contributing factor.

 

Alex Massie, writing in the Times, believes David Cameron should make the case for why English unionists want to maintain the union when he addresses the Scottish Conservative conference this week.  

 

Iain MacWhirter in the Herald suggests Jim McColl’s ‘independence in the UK’ vision is not impractical and even has some historical precedent. He argues the union is whatever the partners choose to make it. 

 

CIA rendition flights: The Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland QC has ordered police to investigate claims, contained in an academic study, that Scottish airports were used as stop-off points for CIA rendition flights. (Herald page 1, Record page 10, Times page 2, Press and Journal page 2, Mail page 1)

 

Bedroom Tax: Mary Taylor, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, will today criticise the so-called bedroom tax. She is expected to describe it as ‘unfair, arbitrary and incompetent’. (Herald page 4

 

Labour: Ed Miliband is expected to announce Labour’s intention to introduce a benefits cap in a bid to convince voters of his party’s economic competence. It is also believed that he will controversially announce his intention not to reverse the coalition government’s policy of withdrawing child benefit from those earning more than £50,000 a year. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Record page 2, Times page 17, Financial Times page 2, Telegraph page 10, Express page 2, Guardian page 2, Mail page 2)

 

Economy

 

Royal Bank of Scotland: Labour and SNP MSPs united to condemn the Royal Bank of Scotland for its controversial plans to close branches in Scotland. Bank bosses have been accused of ‘turning their back’ on the taxpayers who provided the bailout during the banking collapse. (Scotsman page 20)

 

Tourism: Michael Kelly in the Scotsman believes the Scottish tourism industry is underperforming, despite focusing its efforts on the right sectors. He says more might be done to maximise the potential of golf and ancestry tourism. 

 

Transport

 

Driving penalties: UK road safety minister Stephen Hammond has announced new penalties for careless driving. Speeding fines are to increase to £100 and on-the-spot penalties will be introduced for careless driving offences such as tailgating. Drivers may also face three penalty points on their licence for such offences, although it is expected that training courses will be offered as an alternative. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 11, Sun page 2

 

Local Government

 

Payday loans: Edinburgh City Council is considering restricting access to payday loan websites on all council computers in the city. It is hoped the move, which would affect buildings such as libraries and community centres, will encourage people to use credit unions instead. (Scotsman page 14)

 

Council reductions: The CBI has called on John Swinney, the Finance Secretary, to consider reducing the number of local authorities in Scotland as part of a government cost cutting package. (Herald page 2)

 

City Leader sacks rival: The leader of Glasgow City Council has sacked the head of the transport quango that operates the Glasgow Subway. It is alleged Gordon Matheson sacked George Redmond because of ‘disloyalty’. (Herald page 8)

 

Education

 

Student grants: The Labour Party challenged Michael Russell, the education secretary, to provide students with ‘decent grants’ during a debate in the Scottish Parliament. It came as new evidence suggested the current system makes poor students financially worse off by burdening them with debt. Mr Russell responded by claiming Labour wants to end free education. (Scotsman page 12, Record page 2, Times page 6, Express page 6)

 

Education red tape: The education secretary Michael Russell has pledged that inspectors will reduce unnecessary red tape to ensure the implementation of the Curriculum for Excellence is a success. (Herald page 5)