Reform Scotland News: 25 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

White Paper on independence: On the eve of the publication of the Scottish Government’s white paper on independence, the debate over currency in a separate Scotland has intensified, with Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael claiming plans to integrate Scotland into a currency union with the rest of the UK “wouldn’t work.” (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 1, Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, Press & Journal page 13)

A cross-party group of MPs will warn that Scotland will be “doubly dependent” on both the EU and Westminster in the event of a narrow Yes vote. However, the Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group on Taxation (APPTG) will provide a boost for the SNP by backing proposals for pre-referendum talks between Westminster and Holyrood on the sharing of the pound. (The Times page 2)

Gillian Bowditch and Jason Allardyce in The Sunday Times stress that the white paper must prove that Scots will be better off independent, arguing that although independence is indeed viable, it will not be an easy option. (The Sunday Times page 32)

Ronald MacDonald writing in The Sunday Times argues that tying Scotland to sterling will see an increase in mortgage payments, with heavy controls over public spending and taxes. (The Sunday Times page 37)

Lesley Riddoch writing in The Scotsman claims the white paper will be at best a summary of what is already known, as it does not answer fundamental questions surrounding the possibility of a Yes vote.

Alan Cochrane writing in The Daily Telegraph accuses the SNP of “an arrogance born of desperation”, warning that the Scottish people remain unconvinced in the face of Alex Salmond’s independence “wishlist” as outlined in the white paper.

Independence date: Alex Salmond will this week announce independence day as March 24th 2016 should voters back the Yes campaign. (The Scotsman page 6, The Sunday Times page 1)

Andrew Nicoll in The Sun argues that making history is more than just picking a date, adding that Alex Salmond should concentrate more on the 50% of Scots who have stopped voting, for example.

Voting indicators: A Panelbase survey shows support for a Yes vote is at 38%, while the No campaign has a nine-point lead at 47%. However, 15% of those asked said they did not know which way they would vote. (The Scotsman page 7, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, The Sunday Times page 1)

Boris Johnson writing in The Daily Telegraph argues that separation from Scotland would be “stupid, wretched and painful.”

Brian Monteith in The Scotsman discusses the “flawed” campaign of the SNP in its attempt to persuade the public to vote Yes in order to make Scotland a more equal society.

David Torrance writing in The Herald highlights the need for political reality to be considered in the lead up to the referendum, adding that the Left and the SNP rely too much on fantasy.

Pensions: The Pensions Protection Fund (PPF) claims independence would bring a higher risk of work pensions going bust, claims of which are “a further blow to the SNP’s pensions plans” according to Shadow Pensions Minister Gregg McClymont. (The Daily Telegraph page 10, Daily Record page 2, The Sun page 2, The Sunday Times page 8)

Falkirk selection: Local members of the Falkirk Labour Party have elected trade unionist Gray Allan as their new chairman; a move which many hope will mark a fresh start for the Party. (The Herald page 6)

In the wake of the row over the selection of a candidate in Falkirk, the Labour Party leadership has been criticised over its handling of the situation by a member of Falkirk’s executive (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 6, Daily Record page 2)

Co-op bank scandal: The Labour Party’s property portfolio reportedly benefitted from £3.8million of cheap loans from the Co-operative Bank raising new questions over Labour’s relationship with the bank, whose former chairman and Labour councillor the Reverend Paul Flowers has been arrested on bail on suspicion of drug offences. Co-op bosses, meanwhile, are planning to axe all donations to Labour in the wake of the scandal. (The Daily Telegraph page 4, The Times page 4, The Sunday Times page 2)

Social work: Local authority social work departments have overspent more than £35million, with growing numbers of elderly people and vulnerable children pushing budgets to the limit. (The Herald page 1)

Economy

RBS: Business Secretary Vince Cable warns public trust in the Royal Bank of Scotland could worsen following allegations that the bank forced businesses into financial difficulty for its own gain. (The Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 23, Daily Record page 1,The Times page 4, Press & Journal page 1, The Sunday Times page 1)

Health

NHS: Scotland’s NHS is facing a winter crisis after it emerged that many Scottish hospitals are already operating above the recommended occupancy levels. (The Times page 10)