Reform Scotland News: 23 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
 
Politics
Independence march: Thousands marched in Edinburgh over the weekend in support of Scottish Independence. Addressing the crowd, First Minister Alex Salmond said that a Yes vote would not be a win for the SNP, but for the people of Scotland. (Sunday Herald 
page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 4)
 
SNP pension proposals:  The Better Together campaign has criticised SNP proposals to potentially lower the state pension age. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the pension age in Scotland should suit ‘Scottish circumstances’, referring to Scotland’s lower average life expectancy. However, the No campaign claim that promises made by the SNP, including the re-nationalisation of the Royal Mail, will cost at least £32bn. (Herald 
page 4, Telegraph page 1, The Times page 6, Express page 2, Sunday Times page 1, Sunday Herald page 3, Scotland on Sunday page 1)
 
Andrew McKie, writing in the Herald, comments on the need for pensions reform and the SNP promise to lower the pension age.
 
Alan Cochrane, writing in the Telegraph, comments on the ambitious promises which the SNP are making about the future of an independent Scotland, which include more generous pensions and the re-nationalisation of the Royal Mail.
 
Defence budget: Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy will today warn that defence spending in Scotland will fall by 25% if voters back independence. In a speech at the Labour party conference today, Mr Murphy will quote a report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies which says that the defence budget for Scotland will fall from £3.4bn to £2.5bn. (Scotsman 
page 10, Herald page 6)
 
TV debate: Coalition sources have ruled out the prospect of a live TV debate on Scottish Independence between Alex Salmond and David Cameron, calling it a ‘non-starter’. Alistair Darling, the leader of the Better Together campaign, has insisted that Mr Salmond wants to use the TV debate to deflect attention away from the holes in SNP policy. (Herald 
page 3)
 
Damian McBride: Labour leader Ed Miliband has said that he urged Gordon Brown to sack former spin doctor Damian McBride, whose memoirs have exposed infighting and briefings given against rival ministers within the Labour party. Mr Miliband said that these actions were ‘not my kind of politics’. (Scotsman 
page 11, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 7, Guardian page 7)
 
Unite: The general secretary of Unite has warned Labour that ‘no one is pushing us out of our party’. Len McCluskey was responding to the controversial plans to reform party membership and the link between the party and unions. GMB leader Paul Kenny, speaking on behalf of 14 unions affiliated with Labour, has said that the collective voice of the unions would not be ‘washed away by an electoral gimmick’. (Scotsman 
page 11, Herald page 6)
 
Meanwhile, there have been further allegations of voting irregularities in Falkirk from independent MP Eric Joyce. (Sunday Times page 4)
 
Apprenticeship plans: The British Chambers of Commerce has denounced Labour’s plans for an ‘apprentice tax’. The scheme would require large companies to offer a new apprenticeship vacancy each time they hire a worker from outside the EU. The Institute of Directors said the plans were ‘completely removed from reality.’ (Scotsman page 11, Herald 
page 6, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 6)
 
Conservative conference: The Chairman of the Conservative party has claimed that the Liberal Democrats have held back efforts to cut red tape, and that a Conservative majority government would pursue a Thatcherite free trade agenda. (Scotsman page 15)
 
Scottish writers: A leading figure in Scottish literature has given a warning about the impacts that a Yes vote could have on the publishing industry in Scotland. Hugh Andrew, the managing director of Birlinn publishing house, said that independence would erect an ‘artificial wall’ between Scotland and the London-dominated publishing industry, and that Scottish writers could be perceived as ‘foreign’ by the rest of the UK. (Scotsman 
page 14)
 
Scottish Labour:  
Ruth Wishart, writing in the Scotsman, comments on the hard work Labour will have to do to return to power at Holyrood in the event of a No vote in next September’s referendum.
 
Female candidates and domestic abuse
Jane Devine, writing in the Scotsman, comments on MSP Bill Walker’s abuse conviction and argues that fielding female candidates to replace him is tokenism and does not address the issue.
 
‘Virus of Nationalism’: The Scottish Labour leader has attacked the SNP’s ‘cynical’ political philosophy, stating that the referendum is a chance to dispel the nationalist ‘virus’. Johann Lamont claimed that the SNP is not interested in using its political powers to aid Scotland, but instead sees a ‘political opportunity’ to push for independence. (Herald 
page 6, Telegraph page 8, Times page 1, Express page 4)
 
Referendum Voting: Andrew Nicoll, the editor of the Scottish Sun, comments on the potential impacts of next year’s independence referendum and argues that people should vote based on what they believe in instead of what they are afraid of.
 
Referendum game-changer: Gillian Bowditch, writing in the Sunday Times, comments on the need for a game-changer in the debate on Scottish Independence, which has become bogged down over claim and counter claim.
 
2015 Election: In the Guardian, 
Chris Huhne suggests what he thinks Ed Miliband needs do to if he is to win the 2015 general election, while Neil Lawson sets out the challenges facing the Labour party ahead of the election.
 
Economy
Labour manifesto: Ed Balls will ask the independent Office for Budget Responsibility to assess Labour’s manifesto, in an attempt to challenge claims that there is a £28bn black hole in the party’s spending plans. (Scotsman page 10, Herald 
page 1, Guardian page 1)
 
Justice
Prisoner wages: Prisoners in Scotland’s jails are reportedly being paid £3million-a-year for carrying out menial tasks, hobbies, and in-cell work. Statistics from the Scottish Prison Service show that the prison population has been given a total of £14million over the past five years, in addition to the £30,000 spent on each prisoner every year for guards, food and clothing. (Express page 15)

Education
University of St Andrews: The University of St Andrews has been named as the Best University in Scotland by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide. Scotland’s oldest University was ranked as 4th best in the UK overall, with Edinburgh and Glasgow ranked as 22nd and 25th respectively. (Telegraph page 15)

At-risk children: Many at-risk children believe they should have been taken into care earlier, according to the findings of the Scottish Parliament’s education committee. Young people are also unhappy with the hearings system which determines whether they are taken into care, which is ‘intimidating, stuffy and stressful’. (Scotsman page 9)