Reform Scotland News: 6 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



Syria: Divisions over plans to launch a military strike against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria deepened as the G20 summit in St Petersburg got underway last night. Germany has said it had evidence the chemical weapons strike has been carried out by the Assad regime, but would not take part in military action. China, Brazil and India joined Russia in opposing the US-led strike. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, David Pratt in the Herald, Guardian page 8, P&J page 26, Courier page 17)


Super Puma crash: An investigation into the cause of a Super Puma helicopter crash which killed four oil workers has reportedly found no evidence of technical failure. Following the crash, all North Sea Super Puma flights were suspended but services were later resumed. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 9, Times page 6, Telegraph page 11, Express page 15, P&J page 2)


Business and referendum: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called on businesses to make the case for Scotland remaining in the UK. Speaking to the Confederation of British Industry, Mr Clegg repeated the Liberal Democrat promise that a vote against independence would lead to further devolution of powers. (Scotsman page 6, Mail page 10)


Bill Walker: MSP Bill Walker may lose 90% of his salary if he is jailed for domestic abuse later this month. Holyrood’s Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick revealed MSPs will get the chance to vote on a change to rules next week, which would see MSPs unable to carry out their full duties due to imprisonment receiving a reduced salary. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Times page 4, Telegraph page 8, Express page 2, Record page 2, Sun page 10, Mail page 27, P&J page 16, Courier page 3)


Labour funding: Labour leader Ed Miliband has held talks with the GMB’s general secretary after the union announced its decision to cut funds to the party. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6)


£500m discrepancy: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of financial incompetence over a £500million difference between Scottish Government and Audit Scotland figures on the cost of key transport projects. Sir Peter Housden, head of Scotland’s civil service, explained that the discrepancy was due to other costs such as land purchase and preparatory work being included in Audit Scotland’s estimate. However, Labour leader Johann Lamont accused the SNP leadership of using Sir Peter as a shield against their incompetence. (Scotsman page 10, Telegraph page 7)


Homosexual discrimination: MSPs have heard that same-sex couples in civil-partnerships still face discrimination and are not treated the same as mixed-sex married couples. Tim Hopkins, director of the Equality Network, expressed concern about the discrimination as he gave evidence to the equal opportunities committee scrutinising Scottish Government proposals to give same-sex couples the right to marry. (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 6, Times page 15, Courier page 16)


Syria and independence: Alex Massie writing in the Scotsman comments on the SNP’s indecisiveness on Syria and how it fits with their desire for an independent Scotland to be taken seriously on the world stage.


Referendum campaigns: Natalie McGarry writing in the Scotsman comments on the Yes and No campaigns and encourages them to look towards the future not the past.


Electorate satisfaction: A poll commissioned by the SNP has indicated that around half of the Scottish electorate are satisfied with Alex Salmond as a political leader. This compares with around a fifth who are satisfied with Prime Minister David Cameron. (Herald page 6)


Ed Miliband: Alison Rowat writing in the Herald comments on Ed Miliband’s future as leader of the Labour party following the GMB’s decision to cut funding.


Scottish Conservatives re-shuffle: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has returned Murdo Fraser to the shadow cabinet as enterprise, energy and tourism spokesperson. Ms. Davidson has further shuffled her cabinet with Liz Smith becoming culture, sport and young people spokesperson and Mary Scanlon taking over her role as education spokesperson. Annabel Goldie has become constitution spokesperson. The re-shuffle also sees the Conservatives’ newest MSP Cameron Buchanan take on the role of local government and planning spokesperson. (Times page 6, Telegraph page 7, Record page 2)


Lobbying laws: Liberal Democrat sources have suggested that the UK Government will remove several controversial clauses of the lobbying bill after mounting concern that charities could be gagged by the proposals. (Guardian page 19)


Universal Credit: Iain Duncan Smith has been forced to defend the Uk Government’s flagship Universal Credit scheme after the public spending watchdog condemned it as chaotic and flawed. (Scotsman page 16, Mail page 8, Richard Littlejohn in the Mail, Courier page 16)



Independence and trade: Michael Fry writing in the Scotsman criticises claims by HM Treasury and George Osborne that independence would result in a significant drop in trade between Scotland and England.


Bedroom tax: The Scottish Government has said it would not support Labour’s plans to stop bedroom tax evictions. Housing minister Margaret Burgess spoke against Labour’s plans after they set out a three-point plan to safeguard tenants unable to afford the cut in benefits. (Herald page 6)



Background checks: Politicians and campaigners have called for better background checks on foreign criminals after Sheriff Craig McSherry revealed immigrants in his court could be rapists or murderers but treated as first offenders. (Express page 1, Kerry Gill in the Express, Mail page 1)



Staff shortages: The British Medical Association’s Scottish Consultants Committee has warned that Scotland is facing a shortage of doctors in some areas due to difficulties in recruitment. The shortage is thought to already be affecting services with doctors working at unsustainable levels. (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 9)


Patient-Doctor ratios: Information provided by health boards has revealed that in some hospitals doctors, including juniors in their first year out of medical school, are covering more than 100 beds each at night. Dr Neil Dewhurst, President of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, expressed concern that patient-to-doctor ratios suggest that there may not be much capacity to cover unplanned care at night. (Herald page 1)



Vocational education: An interim report by the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Workforce, headed by Sir Ian Wood, has criticised the lack of vocational education in Scottish schools. Sir Ian also criticised the view that vocational training was an inferior option to university. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 5, Times page 17, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Express page 2, Mail page 19, P&J page 12)


Foreign languages: Plans to expand foreign language teaching in Scotland may be undermined by a lack of overseas assistants in classrooms. The British Council Scotland, which runs the Scottish Government-funded foreign language assistant programme, has called for funding of the scheme to be protected. (Herald page 8)


Nurseries: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has called on Alex Salmond to give all two-year-olds nursery places. Alex Salmond said the SNP has extended nursery provision while English nurseries were closing under the coalition government. (Record page 2)



A9 road-dualling: Following a discussion between Transport minister Keith Brown and the Free Church of Scotland, the Scottish Government has been criticised as “disingenuous” in stating that the A9 between Perth and Inverness could not be dualled faster. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 5, Courier page 1)


School run: Road safety campaigners have warned that the stress of the school run can cause serious accidents. Three children a week die or are seriously injured in accidents near schools in Scotland. (Sun page 8)