Reform Scotland News: 11 December 2013

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 December 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

Defence U-turn: The Ministry of Defence has reportedly been forced to abandon plans to privatise defence purchasing, costing the taxpayer an estimated £7.5million. Instead, a new government trading entity will be created to purchase equipment and supplies, recruiting and managing staff “along commercial lines”. (Scotsman page 9, FT page 4)

SNP economic policy: Leading business figure Ian McKay, of the Institute of Directors, has reportedly described the SNP government’s economic vision for independence as a “wish list” with no firm costs, adding that there was a frustration among business leaders in Scotland trying to be “non-partisan” about the lack of numbers on many key issues. (Scotsman page 12, Telegraph page 1, Express page 17, Mail page 17, P&J page 10)

Mandela memorial service: Both David Cameron and Barrack Obama have been criticised for being photographed taking a ‘selfie’ with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt at the national memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg yesterday. (Times page 10, Scotsman page 1, Brian Wilson in the Scotsman, FT page 9, William Wallis in the FT, Herald page 5, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 1, Guardian page 9, Mail page 1, Courier page 17)

Scottish Labour: A survey by Ipsos MORI has shown that Scottish Labour is catching up with the SNP in Scottish parliamentary elections. 36% of those surveyed said that they would vote for the SNP if there was an election at Holyrood tomorrow, while support for Scottish Labour currently stands at 34%, according to the poll. (Herald page 6)

Independence white paper: A poll by YouGov has found that the SNP’s white paper on independence, published a fortnight ago, has reportedly had barely any impact on how voters intend to vote in the referendum next September. (Times page 1, John Curtice in the Times,  Gregor Gall in the Scotsman)

Fracking: Lord Deben, chairman of the Government’s climate change advisory body, has dismissed claims that fracking would cause significant damage to the environment, adding that Britain needed to reduce reliance on foreign imports of fossil fuel. (Times page 2, Telegraph page 16)

Universal credits scheme: The government’s official independent auditors have challenged claims made by Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith that the IT failure relating to the universal credits scheme has only cost the taxpayer £41million, pointing to the write down of a further £91million of software assets. (Guardian page 13)

Clutha bar helicopter crash: The funerals of two victims of the Clutha bar helicopter crash were held yesterday, including the service for one of the two police officers who lost their lives. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 9, Times page 12, Express page 14, Courier page 19)

Dangerous dogs: Alex Salmond has vowed to hold a summit on the menace of dangerous dogs, after attending a meeting yesterday with the mothers of three child victims. (Express page 1)

Economy

Independence: A report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said that spending in an independent Scotland would have to be cut in order to support an aging population, regardless of a potential influx of working-age immigrants. The report warned that an influx of 1.3million immigrants would still lead to a reduction of about 3% in spending. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Mail page 6)

Third sector: Over half of charity bosses in Scotland fear that funding is set to fall across the sector according to a survey by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations. The report warned that a shortfall in funding could potentially jeopardise many existing projects, despite increases in demand for many services. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 2)

Education

Tertiary education: A record number of pupils from Glasgow are going on to higher education, official figures have shown. (Herald page 10)

Health

Midwifery: An increasing number of births by women between the ages of 40 and 44 has meant that midwives in Scotland are having to deal with more complex births, according to a report by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM). (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 3)

Justice

Human rights: An action plan for human rights, thought to be the first of its kind in the UK, has been launched in Scotland. The document sets out “key commitments” from organisations covering various aspects of Scottish life. Areas of especial concern include care, disabled rights, health, criminal justice and business, the Scottish Human Rights Commission has said. (Herald page 9)

Human trafficking laws: The Faculty of Advocates has warned that current human trafficking laws are insufficient, and have backed MSP Jenny Marra’s bid to introduce new powers. (Scotsman page 13)

Racist crimes: Racist incidents against minorities recorded by police across Scotland have fallen by 14% (4,628 from 5,389) within the last year. Meanwhile, the number of anti-English (80 to 145) and anti-Scottish incidents (350 to 379) reported to the police rose. The Scottish Conservatives have reportedly raised concerns that the statistics are in part attributed to anti-English feelings arising in the run up to next September’s referendum. (Scotsman page 18, Herald page 7, Times page 16, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 35, P&J page 13)