Reform Scotland News: 28 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

Independence debate: Alex Salmond has been accused of hiding the true extent of Scotland’s financial difficulties following analysis from former civil servant Jim Gallagher, for Better Together, which raises questions about the economic case for Scotland, and Alasdair Darling has warned that an independent Scotland would start life with a £10 billion deficit. The Spanish Prime minister Mariano Rajoy has also cast doubt on Scotland’s chance of being accepted into the EU. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 4, Daily Express page 2, Daily record page 8, Sun page 8, Daily Mail page 1, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 14, Guardian page 21)

Iain MacWhirter comments in the Herald that the SNP seem to be hoping that Scottish voters will tire of ‘abstractions about currency’ and will be much more interested in their focus on child-care costs.

Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that the White Paper ‘fails to pass examinations’ and that further work is needed before we can reach any conclusive answers on the future of Scotland or the UK.

Michael Kelly argues in the Scotsman that the SNP have missed an opportunity with the White Paper to truly open up debate.

Peter de Vink comments in the Scotsman that the case for a Yes vote is mounting and that the ‘advocates of fear’ need to offer Scotland real reasons to stay in the Union, but that it may already be too late for them to do so.

Sue Cameron comments in the Telegraph that a Yes vote would offer some wonderful ‘what ifs’, and that the possible complications are endless but not really addressed in the White Paper.

Mure Dickie comments in the Financial Times that the case for independence has angered some nationalists for being too cautious and not ‘old style’ enough, but that big business fears change.

Martin Kettle comments in the Guardian that Labour must answer the SNP with more than a slogan, and that they need to answer the question: Better Together for what?

Post office modernisation: a £640 million investment boost by the government is to be used to modernise thousands of post offices across the UK, which will see a “new style” of branch introduced. (Herald page 9)

Children’s services: A campaign has been launched to protect children’s services in Scotland after it was announced that 18 local authorities are facing a £35 million black hole in their finances. (Herald page 10)

Wind farms: An investigation into Scotland’s ‘worst’ wind farms has been launched by the Scottish Government after complaints from people who blame the turbines for sleep deprivation and other health issues. (Times page 22)

Economy

Public sector staffing: Despite the public sector reducing its staff budget by £1 billion, spending watchdog Audit Scotland claims that reducing the number of public sector workers is not likely to result in the savings required to balance the books, and that new approaches to the provision of front line services will still be required. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 1, Daily Record page 2, Courier page 20)

Unequal budget cuts: New figures from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation show that it is Scotland’s poorest areas that are suffering deeper cuts to budgets, and that the cuts are also £47 greater per head in the west than in the east of Scotland. (Scotsman page 11, Telegraph page 20, Courier page 21)

Oil industry: Investment in the North Sea oil industry is being held back by a lack of skilled workers, according to a report from the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce. (Daily Mail page 31)

Health

NHS Scotland spending: The Euro Health Consumer Index, a Europe-wide study on healthcare provision, has found that Scotland spends 10% more on healthcare than England but that this actually makes little difference to NHS performance. (Herald page 1)

Justice

Female prisoners: The number of women in prison on remand in Scotland has doubled since 2000, leading Elish Angiolini’s commission on women offenders to call for courts to consider alternatives to remand and for fewer women to be sent to prison. (Herald page 13)

Human trafficking: Labour MSP Jenny Marra is expected to argue today, at a committee set up by Theresa May to draft the UK’s Modern Slavery Bill, that Scotland needs its own laws to tackle human trafficking. (Herald page 11)

Driving under the influence: A study of 12 million insurance claims carried out by comparison website MoneySuperMarket.com has revealed that Scottish drivers are the worst in the UK for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, with Aberdeen motorists at the top of the table. (Herald page 11, Scotsman page 17, Daily Express page 33, Press and Journal page 11)

Helen McArdle comments in the Herald that setting a drug-drive limit for legal drugs will be a long and difficult road.

Local Government

Glasgow licensing hours: Plans to extend pub opening hours to 1am in Glasgow have been axed amid pressure from police. (Herald page 2)