Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 13 September 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.
Please note that due to the public holiday, there will not be a media summary on Monday 16th September.
Kirk marriage row: Reverend Alan Hamilton, convenor of the Kirk’s legal questions committee, has warned that the Kirk may be forced to stop performing weddings in Scotland over fears it could be sued for not performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. The Scottish Government insists that their proposals for same-sex weddings include legal safeguards to protect the Kirk from being sued. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Express page 4, Record page 6, Sun page 6, Mail page 1, P&J page 23, Courier page 20)
Labour by-election candidate: Two male front-runners to be Labour’s candidate in the Dunfermline by-election have ruled themselves out amid increasing pressure for a female candidate to be selected. The by-election will replace Bill Walker who was convicted of assaulting his three ex-wives. (Scotsman page 6, Courier page 11)
Nick Clegg: Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott has suggested the party should consider replacing Nick Clegg as leader before the 2015 general election. Lord Oakeshott warned that the election could be disastrous for the party if it does not sever ties with the Conservatives as early as May 2014. Liberal Democrat sources have dismissed Lord Oakeshott’s claims and Vince Cable has condemned Lord Oakeshott for his comments, which included supporting Mr Cable as the party’s future leader. (Scotsman page 8, Telegraph page 10, Guardian page 6, P&J page 13)
Child-access: The Scottish Government has admitted that more needs to be done to speed up social work cases relating to child-access issues. Local Authority leaders had complained that social workers were being held up by children’s hearings and the courts. (Scotsman page 9)
Human trafficking: The Scottish Government has been warned that the 2014 Commonwealth Games may lead to an influx of victims of human trafficking in Scotland. MSPs have been urged to make people who procure sex and consumer goods from victims its top anti-trafficking priority. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 11)
Land deal claim: John McGlynn, founder of the Airlink Group, has called for an apology from Labour leader Johann Lamont after she named him in parliament as benefitting from a land deal with the Scottish Government. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Times page 17, Telegraph page 13, Express page 23, Record page 9, Mail page 20, Courier page 13)
Royal Mail privatisation: Following the announcement by the UK government that the Royal Mail is to be sold, concern is mounting over the future of the universal postal service. The service protects remote parts of Scotland from a reduced or more expensive service. Labour has warned that legislation does not provide a strong enough guarantee to prevent a privatised Royal Mail from dropping the universal service and the SNP warned that the sell-off could be particularly harmful for Scotland. The Conservative business minister Michael Fallon insisted that the objective of the reform was to continue to protect the service. (Scotsman page 11, Herald page 7, FT page 3, Express page 2, Sun page 2, Mail page 10, P&J page 17, Courier page 15)
Unions and Royal Mail: The Communication Workers Union will ballot members for strike action following the announcement by the UK Government that the Royal Mail will be privatised. Industrial action could start by mid-October, as potential investors are being encouraged to buy shares. (Joyce McMillan in the Scotsman, Herald page 7, FT page 3, Guardian page 1)
BBC: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman criticises the BBC over its severance payouts and calls for an end to the licence fee.
Independence debate: Charlie Jeffery writing in the Scotsman comments on the information available to help Scots understand the issues at stake in next year’s referendum and the role the Future of the UK and Scotland programme will play in bringing together knowledge and views to engage the public.
LibDem conference: More than 5,000 people are due to attend the Liberal Democrat autumn conference in Glasgow this weekend. The event is predicted to give a boost of £8.5million to the local economy. (Herald page 6, Alison Rowat in the Herald)
Procurement Bill: Alex Salmond has pledged to use a new Procurement Bill to outlaw blacklisting against trade unionists and to help communities and smaller companies benefit from public contracts. (Herald page 6)
Electric cars: The Scottish Government has announced plans to replace all its vehicles with electric transport to help meet the SNP’s goal of zero petrol and diesel emissions from towns and cities by 2050. Opposition politicians have criticised the commitments as “mad-cap” and a waste of money. (Times page 19, Express page 1, Sun page 2, Mail page 11)
Expenses: Figures released yesterday by the parliamentary spending watchdog show the bill for Westminster MPs expenses is higher than it was before the 2009 scandal. More generous staffing budgets coincided with a rise in the number of MPs who employed relatives and claimed their salaries on expenses. Among those claiming expenses over £190,000 on top of their salary was MP Eric Joyce who was arrested for attacking fellow MPs in the House of Commons bar. (Times page 4, Record page 10, Guardian page 13, P&J page 13)
Alex Salmond: SNP MSP Christine Grahame has criticised Alex Salmond for the pressure placed on Holyrood’s justice committee due to the amount of justice legislation his government has introduced. The First Minister attempted to flatter Ms Grahame as convener of the justice committee however the approach backfired with Ms Grahame only complaining more vociferously about the time pressures her committee is under. (Telegraph page 13)
LibDem polls: A YouGov survey has revealed that just 21 per cent think the Liberal Democrats are trustworthy and more than seven in ten people say they do not know what the party stands for. (Sun page 2)
House price cap: The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors have called on the Bank of England to impose a five per cent limit on annual price rises to prevent another “housing bubble”. They also suggested a cap on the amount people could borrow in relation to their income and their deposit. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Guardian page 36, Mail page 8, Courier page 21)
Monetary policy: Bank of England governor Mark Carney has been questioned over the confusion surrounding the Monetary Policy Committee’s commitment to keeping rates at record lows until the economy nears full health. Mr Carney insisted that Britain’s recovery is still in its early stages and declined to support George Osborne’s statement earlier this week that the economy had turned a corner. (FT page 2)
Independence and pensions: Gordon Brown is expected to claim that independence would put Scotland’s 1.5million pensioners’ security at risk. During the speech in his Kirkcaldy constituency, Mr Brown is expected to say that with an ageing population, Scotland will require three per cent more spending than the rest of Britain per capita on welfare by 2021 and that by pooling resources across the UK we are able to ensure a better deal for state and private pensions. (Herald page 2)
Super mansion tax: Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat president, has suggested that Britain’s most expensive homes should be subject to a “super mansion tax” to help raise billions of pounds in extra tax revenue. Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable has also spoken in support of the tax and Nick Clegg has also said that elderly people with homes worth £2million or more should consider selling them or risk the mansion tax being deducted from their estates after death. (Telegraph page 10, Mail page 8)
Female unemployment: Alex Salmond has reportedly been criticised for saying that the 13,000 rise in female unemployment was encouraging as it meant more women were getting work in the first place. (Record page 2, P&J page 15)
National Sports Centre: Edinburgh has successfully won the bid to be home to Scotland’s National Performance Centre for Sport. The plan to expand the Riccarton campus at Heriot-Watt University beat off rival bids from Dundee and Stirling. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon approved the recommendation for the £30million project to be awarded to Edinburgh. (Herald page 10, Courier page 1)
Budget cuts: Scottish Labour has criticised budget cuts which sees funding for MRSA screening and initiatives to help improve hospital cleanliness dropped from £28.4million to £18.5million in 2014/15. The Scottish Government has said the same results could be achieved with lower costs. (Scotsman page 17, Mail page 32)
Creationism: The headteacher and deputy headteacher of Kirktonholme Primary School in East Kilbride have been removed from their posts while South Lanarkshire Council investigates links to a US Christian creationist sect. Pupils at the school were given creationist books during a school assembly and members of the sect had been acting as teaching assistants for eight years. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 3, Record page 7)
Graduate employment: The University of the Highlands and Islands, Scotland’s newest university, is among the worst in the UK for graduate prospects according to a study by YouGov. St Andrews and Robert Gordon University were amongst the top ten. The study also found that more than half of graduate employers believe very few university leavers are ready for the world of work. (Scotsman page 8)
Teachers’ exam: A series of tests have been published for aspiring teachers as part of attempts to improve literacy and numeracy standards in Scotland’s schools. The tests have been devised by Education Scotland in partnership with universities and are a direct response to a report published in 2011 which called for an improvement in teacher training. (Scotsman page 18)