Reform Scotland News: 20 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



Royal Mail: Alex Salmond has pledged to return the Royal Mail to public ownership if he was leading the government of an independent Scotland following the referendum. Opposition MSPs have accused Mr Salmond of political opportunism and Labour’s postal affairs minister Ian Murray said it was “another off-the-cuff, uncosted promise”. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 8,Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Express page 2, Record page 8, Sun page 1, Mail page 12, P&J page 11, Courier page 4)


Same-sex marriage: Lawyers have warned that individual ministers refusing to carry out the same-sex marriage ceremonies could face court challenges. The warning has come despite the SNP government insisting that individual celebrants would always be protected from being forced to take part in the ceremonies. (Scotsman page 8)


National Convention: Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander is expected to say that the constitutional row over independence has left people “cold”. Mr Alexander is expected to make the comments in a speech tonight in Paisley. He has also announced plans for a National Convention after the 2014 referendum to work out what extra powers Scotland should have in the event of a No vote. He is expected to call on the SNP today to commit to joining the convention. Sir Kenneth Calman has backed the call for a new commission to be formed to examine which extra powers should be transferred to Scotland in the event of a No vote at next year’s referendum. Sir Kenneth added that any further devolution of powers must be considered in the context of the entire UK. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6 Times page 2, Express page 25, Record page 8, Telegraph page 20)


Nato talks: It is reported that the Scottish Government sent civil servants without any defence or military background for talks with Nato officials. The talks were to discuss an independent Scotland’s membership of the alliance. (Scotsman page 10)


Ed Miliband: The Conservatives have criticised Ed Miliband for trying to “soothe his biggest paymasters” as plans were announced to reform Labour’s relations with trade unions. A YouGov survey has also revealed the Conservative party has drawn level with Labour for the first time in three years. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 6, Express page 25, Sun page 2, Mail page 26)


LibDems and independence: Joyce McMillan writing in the Scotsman comments on Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats claims that they would move for enhanced Scottish home rule following a No vote in next year’s referendum.


Yes campaign: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman discusses the reasons he will be joining the Yes campaign’s march in Edinburgh tomorrow and encourages other Scots to join it.


Labour party: Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy has warned that Labour must put more effort into translating the party’s flagship principles into coherent policies. Mr Murphy also defended Ed Miliband saying he was beginning to get the One Nation theme across. (Herald page 1)


Islands’ future: Scotland’s islands are to aim for a separate place in Europe, with direct involvement in policy-making in Brussels. The scale of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles councils’ ambitions were unveiled yesterday at the start of a two-day conference in Kirkwall. (Herald page 1, P&J page 8)


Sport: An expert group will examine the development of sport in an independent Scotland. The Working Group on Scottish Sport, chaired by former Labour first minister Henry McLeish, will report its findings next spring, including how to ensure success at future Olympic Games. (Herald page 6, Express page 2, Mail page 13)


Anti-sectarian laws: The Saltire Society has published a pamphlet criticising Scotland’s anti-sectarian laws. In the pamphlet, writer Alan Bissett claims the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications Act is damaging to free speech. (Herald page 10)


Political correctness: Alison Rowat writing in the Herald comments on the resurgence of concerns over political correctness and argues that it is not ‘political correctness gone mad’, it is progress.


EU poll: Labour policy chief Jon Cruddas has indicated that Labour could demand a referendum on Britain’s EU membership next year. (Sun page 2)


Johann Lamont: In an interview with the Scottish Sun, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont has criticised Alex Salmond for portraying a perfect future in an independent Scotland. (Sun page 6)



Pensions: The Office of Fair Trading has ordered a crackdown on the pensions market to protect nine-million people with workplace pensions. In a new report, the OFT said that up to £40 billion of savings could already be in schemes delivering poor value for money or which are at risk of doing so. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 9, Mail page 1, P&J page 12)


Bedroom tax: TUC research has shown that Scottish councils have some of the highest proportions of tenants with rent arrears following the introduction of the ‘bedroom tax’. Since the housing benefit change was introduced in April, 50,000 households in 114 local council areas across Britain can no longer afford to pay for their accommodation. Margaret Burgess, the Scottish minister for housing, has said that the Scottish Government is in opposition to the measure and has announced an additional £20 million for discretionary housing payments. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 2, Courier page 1)



Care home deaths: Police are investigating four deaths at a Bupa-run care home in Corstorphine, Edinburgh. The Pentland Hill home was ordered to make a series of improvements last month following an inspection by care home watchdog the Care Inspectorate. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 5, Times page 1, Mail page 1, Courier page 23)


Corruption unit: Plans for Police Scotland’s new specialist unit to prevent organised crime infiltrating the public sector and local authorities have been criticised by prominent legal professionals. Advocate Niall McCluskey said the need for the unit has been inflated and may abuse employee rights. (Herald page 7, Times page 9, P&J page 13, Courier page 23)



Supply teachers: A new survey shows councils across Scotland are struggling to fill posts this year due to a lack of supply teachers. The shortage is thought to be a result of a pay deal agreed in 2011 by the Scottish Government, local councils and the EIS. (Herald page 7, Times page 2, Express page 25, Mail page 18, Courier page 14)


Languages: Greater protection is to be given to threatened language teaching at Scottish universities from the Scottish Funding Council. The body will assess whether any proposed cut would be detrimental to the range of languages taught in Scotland. (Herald page 8)


Referendum and education: Andrew Denholm writing in the Herald asks what effect the result of the referendum will have on education in Scotland and comments on the latest edition of Scottish Education’s predictions.



A9 safety: A study by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry has revealed that businesses believe dualling the A9 and the A96 route between Aberdeen and Inverness would provide an economic boost to the region. Business leaders also branded the A9 as substandard in its current condition. The Scottish Government has been encouraged to fast-track dualling of the A9 in light of the survey and the number of causalities on the road. (Scotsman page 18)


East coast line: Labour is expected to call for the not-for-profit company currently running the east coast mainline to be allowed to bid for the franchise. (Guardian page 12)