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Reform Scotland News: 29 August 2013

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 29 August 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

Syria: The coalition government last night pulled back from immediate military action against Syria, reportedly caving in to opposition demands to give United Nations inspectors more time to report on the alleged use of chemical weapons. The Prime Minister promised a further parliamentary vote before “any direct British involvement”. (Scotsman page 1, Hugh McLachlan in the Scotsman, Herald page 2, Iain Macwhirter in the Herald, Telegraph page 1, Peter Oborne in the Telegraph, FT page 1, Times page 1, Roger Boyes in the Times, Express page 5, Leo McKinstry in the Express, Sun page 10, Courier page 13, Guardian page 4)

Sterling zone: The SNP’s plan for Scotland to share a ‘Sterling zone’ with the rest of the UK after independence have been questioned by former Deputy Bank of England governor Brian Quinn in a paper published by the David Hume Institute, saying it would not be feasible and is “seriously, perhaps fundamentally flawed”. (Scotsman page 7, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Telegraph page 1, Times page 2, Express page 2)

Scottish Constitution: Alex Salmond has claimed that the creation of a written Scottish Constitution for an independent Scotland would help move the country away from the “profoundly undemocratic” system at Westminster, and “energise and inspire” the people of Scotland. (Herald page 3, P&J page 20)

Independence: Alex Salmond was yesterday accused by Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore of trying to “de-risk” independence, by pretending that independence would not result in fundamental change. Salmond was urged by Moore to “be honest” with voters when publishing the White Paper on independence. (Telegraph page 11, Times page 18, Jim Gallagher in the Times, Courier page 19, P&J page 21)

Bill Walker: More than half of Scottish MSPs (66 of 129) have backed a Holyrood motion calling on Bill Walker to resign from his parliamentary seat. Walker was earlier found guilty of the assault of three of his ex-wives and a step daughter. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 4, Sun page 8, Courier page 10)

Alex Salmond: Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph argues that Alex Salmond is becoming a liability for the yes camp, and that his increasingly “ridiculous” pronouncements are becoming increasingly more detrimental to the separatist cause. Cochrane argues that Nicola Sturgeon, or another senior member of the SNP would be better placed to replace Salmond in the run-up to the independence referendum in September next year.   

Prejudice: A survey of public attitudes in Scotland has been accused of underestimating the number of gay, lesbian and transgender people. Just 1% of the 11,000 people surveyed by the Scottish Household Survey defined themselves as gay, lesbian or transgender, which LGBT campaigners believe to a significant under representation; a result of stigma attached to being gay. (Times page 4)

Economy

Interest rates: Bank of England governor, Mark Carney yesterday warned of the dangers of stagnating Britain’s economic recovery with higher interest rates, but expressed “tremendous sympathy” for millions of savers set to lose out, a result of his announcement to fix interest rates until UK unemployment fell below 7%. In his speech, Carney said savers needed a stronger economy, and not higher interest rates. (Scotsman page 39, Terry Murden in the Scotsman, Herald page 26, Emma Rowley in the Telegraph, FT page 2, Times  page 2, Express page 2, Courier page 20)

Housing market: The number of Scottish first time home-buyers has risen to its highest level in five years, figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show. A total of 6,500 new home-owners took out loans between April and June, up by a third over the same period last year. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 11, Express page 2)

Education

Colleges: Scotland’s colleges face financial challenges in years to come amidst overhauls to the further education sector, a report by Audit Scotland has found. The report found that colleges were financially sound, though unlikely to be able to offset the reduction in government funding. The report also highlighted that focus on younger students had the potential to limit the opportunities of older people seeking to further their education. (Scotsman page 20, Laurence Howells in the Scotsman comments on the reshaped college sector in Scotland, Herald page 6, Times page 22, Record page 17)

National qualifications: Dr Gill Stewart in the Scotsman argues that the new qualification systems in place for those who have just entered S4 rewards a wide range of achievements and reflect work completed throughout the year, and not just in final exams. She puts forth that the new qualification system placed greater emphasis on “deeper learning” and aided young peoples’ ability to think for themselves.

Local Government

Equal pay: South-Lanarkshire Council is facing a record £100million equal-pay bill after agreeing to final settlement talks, following years of resisting claims from 3,000 female staff. Data released under the Freedom of Information Act suggested that male manual workers had been systematically paid more than female staff with the same skill levels, despite the two groups in theory being paid the same hourly wage. (Herald page 7)

Transport

Airport transport: James Kelly MSP has demanded the publishing of a report discussing transport to and from Glasgow Airport. These demands come amid reports that recommendations from independent consultants are yet to be made public as transport bosses are unhappy with options on the list. (Herald page 9)