A week in Scottish politics: 6 to 12 December 2013

Reform Scotland’s round-up of comment and analysis pieces we have referred to in media summaries between 6 and 12 December which are freely available online.

Thursday 12 December

Referendum Roadshow: Iain MacWhirter in the Herald compares Alex Salmond’s plans to hold public meetings on a monthly basis around the country to Tony Blair’s 2005 “masochism strategy”, and wonders whether the tour might turn out to be more public flogging than sales pitch.

Written constitution: Michael Kelly comments in the Scotsman that Nicola sturgeon’s promise of strengthening human rights in an independent Scotland with a written constitution is not necessarily a good thing, and suggests that there are many reasons why an unwritten constitution is actually a more effective way to ensure justice and human rights are upheld.

Air Travel: Helen McArdle comments in the Herald that the proposed slashing of the air passenger duty would attract airlines to Scotland, meaning that in an independent Scotland we would all enjoy cheaper holidays abroad, better business connections, and a greater choice of direct long-haul routes. She adds that this may also have positive implications for the fate of Prestwick Airport.

Wednesday 11 December

Independence white paper:  Gregor Gall in the Scotsman comments on the impact of the Scottish government’s white paper on independence.

Nelson Mandela memorial service: Both Brian Wilson in the Scotsman and William Wallis in the FT comment on the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Monday 9 December

No campaign: David Torrance writing in The Herald argues that the No campaign should be more proactive rather than reactive in its bid to keep Scotland as part of the Union, adding that their policies are just “plugging gaps”.

Differing political values: Lesley Riddoch writing in The Scotsman discusses the fact that while Scotland is drifting further and further from the current British political mindset, the way ahead is still not clear cut, arguing that more detailed evidence is needed.

Friday 6 December

Nelson Mandela: Jim Murphy writing in the Scotsman comments on the life of Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid leader who became South Africa’s first black president.

Childcare: Robbie Dinwoodie writing in the Herald comments on Labour leader Johann Lamont’s criticism of the SNP’s flagship policy for a major increase in childcare after independence.

Referendum campaign: George Kerevan writing in the Scotsman criticises the running of the No campaign and Alistair Darling’s leadership.

Autumn statement: Chancellor George Osborne has announced his Autumn statement and insisted his austerity plans are working, saying that Britain is on the mend and outpacing Germany, France and the US in its recovery.  The statement revealed plans for increases to pension age, petrol price freezes and an increase to personal allowances. Scotland’s budget is also set to rise by more than £300million in the coming years but Scottish finance secretary John Swinney has criticised any attempt to claim Scotland’s fortunes are improving, after spending was cut deeply earlier this year. Shetland Council is to receive £10million towards housing debt and Edinburgh University will receive an £11million space technology centre. (Comment and analysis from Martin Flanagan in the Scotsman, Michael Settle in the Herald, Alison Rowat in the Herald, Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph, Jeremy Warner in the Telegraph, John Swinney in the Record, Patrick Wintour in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian)

Immigration: Michael Fry writing in the Scotsman argues that Scotland will need more immigrants in the future as its population ages and struggles to boost economic growth.