Reform Scotland News: 2 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.

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News


Devo Plus poll: A YouGov survey within a wider poll commissioned by the Devo Plus group has found 59% of respondents would vote ‘No’ in the upcoming independence referendum, with only 29% saying they would vote ‘Yes’. However, 16% of ‘Yes’ voters say they would be more likely to vote no if this meant additional powers being devolved to the Scottish Parliament. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Herald page 15, Mail on Sunday page 12, Scotsman page 7, Times page 7, Telegraph page 6, Record page 2, Express page 4, Metro page 9, Mail page 16). Angus Macleod in the Times argues that the Yes campaign will not be able overturn the unionists’ lead in the polls, whilst Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph comments that the Yes campaign is divided. Meanwhile, Andrew McKie in the Herald comments upon the hypothetical nature of the choice Scottish voters will make in the independence referendum.

Independence: A report from the Treasury will claim that independence would cost the Scottish economy £5 billion in lost trade over the next 30 years, meaning Scottish families would lose £2,000 in household incomes. The Chancellor George Osborne will set out the findings of the paper which argues the separate regulations and fragmented economy of an independent Scotland would harm growth. SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has criticised the paper, arguing the economic policy of the Westminster government is damaging to the Scottish economy (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, FT page 5, Record page 2, Guardian page 2, Courier page 3). However, Gordon Brown will today deliver a keynote speech for the United with Labour campaign, arguing the value of fairness in Scottish society is best served by remaining in the union. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 2, Record page 2, Courier page 3)

Syria: Westminster cabinet ministers have insisted that the UK government will not make a renewed attempt to convince Parliament to support military action in Syria, following claims by United States Secretary of State John Kerry that the US government have evidence that chemical weapons were deployed in Damascus on 21st August. Any US action has been delayed by President Obama seeking authorisation from Congress, whilst the UN have refused to set out a timeline for the publication of their own findings (Scotsman page 1, Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman, Herald page 8, Sunday Times page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, FT page 3, Guardian page 4, John Harris in the Guardian, Mail page 2, Courier page 15).

Independence Referendum Poll: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has hailed as encouraging a survey that found the Yes campaign to have the lead in the independence debate. The survey commissioned by the SNP found 44% of respondents intended to vote ‘Yes’, compared to 43% that would vote ‘No’. (Sun page 1, Courier page 1, P&J page 11)

Free childcare: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced that free childcare will be extended to double the number of two-year-olds in low income families. As part of the Westminster government’s £534 million investment in childcare, 130,000 two-year-olds will now be eligible for up to 15 hours of free childcare per week. (Scotsman page 6)

Bedroom tax: Iain Gray has called on the Scottish Government to pledge £50 million to compensate those Scots whose benefits have been reduced by the bedroom tax. The newly appointed Scottish Labour finance spokesman argued that the money should be provided to Housing Associations and local councils to reimburse those claimants whose benefits were reduced. (Scotsman page 10)

Lobbying: Following the concerns expressed by key charitable organisations such as Oxfam, the Royal British Legion and the Salvation Army, election law expert Helen Mountfield QC has warned that the proposed lobbying reforms being debated at Westminster tomorrow will limit the extent to which charities can speak in the public interest. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 3, Guardian page 6)

Labour conference: Unite’s regional committee in Scotland has proposed that the union’s delegates boycott the Labour conference next month, following party leader Ed Miliband’s calls to reshape the relationship between the unions and the Labour party. (Herald page 10)

Bill Walker: The Scottish Parliament will consider this week whether they can impose a pay cut on Bill Walker MSP should he be jailed for his domestic abuse convictions. (Sunday Herald page 3, Times page 7, Mail page 25)

Policymaking: Brian Monteith in the Scotsman comments that contemporary politicians must do more to consider a wider body of evidence related to their policy positions.

Sir David Frost: Tributes have been paid to the journalist and broadcaster Sir David Frost, who died yesterday aged 74 from a suspected heart attack. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 9, Record page 1, Guardian page 8, Mail page 6, Courier page 13, P&J page 18)


Higher education: A report by Universities Scotland has found the higher education sector attracts “nearly half” of Scotland’s foreign investment. It is argued that only the energy and financial and business services sectors contribute more to the Scottish economy, with the highly skilled graduates, world-class research facilities and industry connections associated with Scottish universities driving foreign investment. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 7, Mail page 10)

Addiction costs: A report by The Centre for Social Justice think-tank claims that alcohol and drug abuse cost the UK economy £21 billion and £15 billion respectively, by fuelling poverty, debt, worklessness, homelessness and crime. (Herald page 4, Mail page 30)


End-of-life care: Figures published by Information Services Division Scotland show efforts to ensure patients spend more time at home towards the end of their lives have led to only a one day increase in the last five years. In 2007-08 the average amount of time spent in hospital during the last six months of life in Scotland was 17.5 days, with this reduced to 16.5 days by 2011-12. Whilst some health boards are reaching the targets set by the 2008 Scottish Government report, ‘Living and Dying Well’, campaigners argue all health boards should be providing better end-of-life care in patients’ homes. (Scotsman page 17)


Educational Standards: A report by Children in Scotland has found that parents, along with 90% of teachers and youth workers, believe educational standards will decline as a result of the Westminster government’s reductions in public spending. Following the Chancellor cutting £300 million from the Scottish Government budget in June, the Scottish Government is said to share the concerns. (Herald page 7)

Local Government

Glasgow City Council: The SNP have called on Glasgow City Council to delay publication of a report on the financial impact upon the council of Scotland becoming independent. Ahead of a council by-election in Govan, it is claimed that the potentially political content of the report means publication before the by-election would breach the Local Government Act 1996. (Herald page 6)