Reform Scotland News: 18 November 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

Grangemouth inquiry: Alex Salmond has condemned the UK Government’s plans to hold a major inquiry into union tactics during the Grangemouth dispute as “foolish and irresponsible”, adding that the probe is politically motivated. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 6, Press & Journal page 18, Scottish Daily Mail page 12, The Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, The Sunday Times 10)

The Labour leadership were reportedly “well-aware…and approved of” attempts to fix the candidate selection contest in Falkirk, according to documents published yesterday. (The Times page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 4, The Sunday Times page 1 & 10)

Independence debate: The former Lord Provost of Glasgow, Alex Mosson, has backed the Yes campaign, claiming that independence would be good for democracy. (The Herald page 6, Press & Journal page 19, The Courier page 15, The Sunday Times page 4)

Tennis player Andy Murray yesterday refused to take sides over Scottish independence, citing his love for both Scotland and Great Britain as a whole. (Scottish Daily Mail page 6, Daily Record page 21)

The SNP has been accused by a number of prominent professors of trying to silence a pro-independence academic, adding that the Scottish Government was “risking justifiable charges of the partisan abuse of its public powers.” (The Daily Telegraph page 5, Daily Express page 2)

Torcuil Crichton in the Daily Record discusses the surprisingly high levels of complacency about the result of the 2014 independence referendum, arguing that the poll is still very much wide open.

Gillian Bowditch in The Sunday Times considers the intensification of the independence debate, as the publication date of the White Paper on independence looms. (The Sunday Times page 31)

Brian Monteith in The Scotsman argues that Britain could be better governed if further regionalisation took place in England.

Devo Plus: Scotland’s unionist parties are reportedly discussing a deal which will commit them to handing Holyrood greater powers ahead of the referendum as suggested by the Devo Plus group. This follows on from a recent YouGov survey in which high numbers of voters were found more likely to vote No and save the Union if extra powers were pledged to Scotland.  (The Sunday Times page 4, The Times page 8)

Better Together: Cracks in the pro-Union campaign have reportedly been exposed by Scottish Labour chairman Jackson Cullinane, who said that many activists “cannot stomach” working with the Conservatives, adding that the current Labour leadership had effectively forced the party to join the pro-Union movement. (The Times page 8) 

Labour Party: Leaked emails have reportedly shed light on tensions between Ed Miliband and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls following emails in which a senior official in the Labour leader’s office described Mr Balls as “a nightmare.” (Guardian page 6, The Herald page 6, The Sun page 2, The Times page 4, The Daily Telegraph page 4, Daily Express page 4

Candidate selection: The Conservative Party is hoping to increase its electoral fortunes in Scotland by using US-style “primaries” to select candidates for the next election. (The Daily Telegraph page 6)

UKIP: An internal spat within UKIP has been played down by the party’s Scottish chairman, despite the fact two-thirds of its European candidates reportedly withdrew from the selection process. (The Times page 6, The Herald page 6)

Social mobility: Following Sir John Major’s comments on the “truly shocking” domination of the privately-educated and middle class in the “upper echelons” of public life, David Torrance, writing in The Herald, argues that a bold change is needed in order to improve social mobility.

Economy

Benefits: A study by the University of Edinburgh has found that high levels of benefits for the unemployed do not reduce the wish to work, nor do they increase their well-being. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 7)

Taxes: Leading members of the Conservative Party have challenged proposed tax breaks for Britain’s poorest people, arguing that the middle class must benefit too. (The Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 6)

City growth: The PwC 2013 Good Growth for Cities index has ranked Aberdeen as the best city to live and work in Scotland – and second best in the whole of the UK – with Edinburgh in third place overall. (The Scotsman page 17, The Herald page 9, Press & Journal page 25)

Education

Free school meals: The Child Action Poverty Group (CPAG) has called on the Scottish Government to extend free meals to all pupils in Scotland during their first three years of school. (The Herald page 1)

Health

Hospital care: Experts at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (PCPE) have said that Scottish hospitals must provide “genuine” seven-day care in a “consensus statement” to be presented to both the UK and Scottish Governments. (The Scotsman page 1, The Courier page 17, The Sunday Times page 1)

Meanwhile, wilful neglect of patients could become a criminal offence in Scotland under legislation proposed by Health Secretary Alex Neil. (The Herald page 1)

Justice

Rape trials: A legal bid to change the Victims and Witnesses Bill to reduce the use of rape victims’ sexual history in court trials will be launched at Holyrood. The proposed change in law will see victims being given the right to legal advice when aspects of their personal history are brought up in a case. (The Scotsman page 11)

Crime figures: Top police officers have warned that the targets culture of the new national force is damaging relations with the public and could result in officers massaging figures to give the impression targets are being met when they are not. (The Herald page 1