Reform Scotland News: 26 September 2013

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 26 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

Labour Conference: Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday defended plans to freeze energy prices should Labour win the next General Election, comparing energy firms with the banks that attempted to resist regulation prior to the 2008 crash. Energy firms have alleged that a price freeze would lead to a fall in investment in the sector, and even blackouts. (Scotsman page 1, Dr Monica Giulietti in the Scotsman, comments that price freezing may not address the lack of competitiveness within the sector. She observes that price freezing measures may cause energy firms to collude on prices while waiting for the freeze. Michael Kelly in the Scotsman, Richard Lloyd in the Scotsman, Herald page 1 and page 6, Kate Devlin in the Herald, Iain Macwhirter in the Herald, Telegraph page 1, Harry Wallop in the Telegraph, Times page 1 and page 6, Matt Ridley in the Times, Express page 1 and page 52, Record page 8, Sun page 2, Bill Leckie in the Sun, P&J page 13)

Scottish Labour: Scottish Labour is allegedly exploring the adoption of land ownership plans for its 2016 manifesto, in which developers must use land to build houses or risk losing it, a policy initially proposed by Miliband at the Labour Conference this week. (Scotsman page 5)

Independence: An independent Scotland could lead to problems of citizenship, an expert on migration has warned. Professor Bernard Ryan said the UK would be able to remove citizenship from Scots with “no personal connection to the rest of the United Kingdom” following a yes vote in next year’s referendum. (Herald page 2)

Royal Mail: Christine Jardine in the Scotsman comments on the privatisation of the Royal Mail, suggesting that it could prosper as a private company in the same manner that saw British Telecom flourish, suggesting that a Royal Mail free from government constraints and able to mobilise and modernise more efficiently would be able to compete with current alternatives. 

Bonuses: It was announced yesterday that George Osborne had filed a formal complaint against Brussels over proposals to cap banker’s bonuses to a maximum of 200% of their fixed salary. The Treasury said the EU rules would drive banker salaries higher, making banks ‘riskier rather than safer’. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 5, Telegraph B1, Times page 47, Ian King in the Times, FT page 1)

Fire-fighter’s Strike: Fire-fighters are to be balloted on whether to accept a Scottish government deal on pensions, with rejection of the proposal raising the possibility of strike action. Any strike would occur before the 23 October, the legal deadline for the action that union members previously backed. (Scotsman page 9, Courier page 2)

Economy

Employment Scheme: A flagship government scheme to aid businesses in Scotland create 300,000 more jobs as a result of cutting tax bills for businesses has seen take-up rates fall 90% below expectations. The scheme was a centrepiece of Chancellor George Osborne’s post-election emergency budget of 2010, part of plans to help places in the UK hit hardest by austerity measures. (Herald page 1)

Policy Proposals: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman criticises pledges made by the Lib Dems and Labour in their respective conferences, commenting that parties appear to have forgotton “austerity” Britain, and that with recovery apparently underway parties have reverted to pledges, reminiscent of the spending and borrowing bubble that contributed to the 2008 crisis. However, Jamieson also notes that no party can hope to succeed on a platform of cutbacks, restraints and austerity.

Economy Growth: Scottish firms are enjoying their biggest boom since before the financial crisis, according to a survey by the Bank of Scotland. Almost half of the companies surveyed reported an increase in turnover, with just 22% reporting a fall. (Express page 1, Courier page 13)

Justice

Corroboration: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill yesterday criticised the centuries-old rule in Scots law requiring evidence in trials to come  from two sources. He warned that cases of domestic abuse and rape were prevented from reaching courts as a result, though the Scottish Conservatives raised concerns over the potential for miscarriages of justice. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 7, Telegraph page 10, Times page 19, Alistair Bonnington in the Times, P&J page 19)

Education

State Guardian: Plans to introduce a state guardian for every child in Scotland were accused of being an “assault on families” by the Scottish Conservatives. MSP Liz Smith voiced concerns that plans to introduce a guardian from birth to 18 undermined Scottish parents. (Scotsman page 12, Express page 5,)

Local Government

Devolution: Gordon Matheson in the Herald argues that both Westminster and Holyrood should devolve more power to city regions, and in general local government. He comments that the growth and innovation within urban areas drives the economy, and that more focal and tailored urban strategy would better serve Scotland’s economy.