Reform Scotland News: 16 January 2014
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.
Independence: Academics and experts have reportedly criticised the SNP’s independence timescale, calling the planned 18 month timescale to complete negotiations “wishful thinking”. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 8, Times page 20, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 14)
In a speech in Edinburgh, Alistair Darling is expected to attack Alex Salmond over his inability to answer basic questions about what independence would mean for the people of Scotland, labelling the First Minister the “biggest don’t know in the referendum”. (Daily Express page 2, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 11)
Scotland in Europe: Nicola Sturgeon argued in a keynote speech last night that Scotland would benefit from thousands more jobs and hundreds of millions of extra funds if it was an independent member of the EU (Scotsman page 8, Daily Record page 2, Sun page 2)
In a briefing to Scottish journalists at Westminster, Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael reportedly warned that an independent Scotland could be forced to give Spain fishing rights in the North Sea and would risk losing its share of the UK’s £5 billion rebate. (Scotsman page 8, Press and Journal page 11)
RBS bonuses: The Labour party has accused David Cameron of failing to crack down on bonuses paid at the Royal Bank of Scotland after the Prime Minister announced that only cash bonuses would remain capped at £2000, allowing for bonuses in shares to run into many millions of pounds. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, FT page 1, Daily Express page 13, Daily record page 2, Guardian page 6, Courier page 27, Press and Journal page 17)
Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that despite Ed Miliband struggling in the polls, his attack on bank bonuses will hit Cameron where it hurts.
Sterling guarantee: According to the Scottish Government, companies working on long-tern public sector construction contracts will continue to be paid in Sterling in the event of a Yes vote, after a new clause was added to infrastructure contracts. (Herald page 6, Times page 2)
Salmon fishing: As he opened Salmon season on the Tay, Alex Salmond has announced that an independent review will be launched to look into how Scotland’s wild fisheries are managed. (Herald page 8, Times page 13, Daily Record page 2, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 13)
Museum grants: £500,000 in capital funding has been issued by Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) to fifteen Scottish galleries and museums to support conservation and renovation projects. (Herald page 11)
Economic recovery: Official figures showed yesterday that the Scottish economy has enjoyed 18 months of continuous growth, a trend which is expected to continue throughout 2014. Scottish growth has reportedly outstripped that of all other small European countries. (Scotsman page 16, Times page 6, FT page 2, Sun page 2, Courier page 33)
Corroboration: Iain Macwhirter comments in the Herald that the abolition of corroboration is a “populist bridge too far” and that it is hugely concerning that sensible people can so casually disregard the rights of the accused.
Michael Kelly also comments in the Scotsman that it is astounding that Kenny MacAskill should announce to the Justice Committee at Holyrood that the case for scrapping corroboration has been made, as he argues that it is, at the very least, not proven. He also states that MacAskill’s piecemeal approach to legal reforms shows a lack of proper consideration of the changes afoot.
Police searches: New figures from Police Scotland show that the police have searched more than half a million people in Scotland in the last eight months, and that almost one in five of the people searched were carrying something illegal. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 1, Daily Express page 11, Press and Journal page 20)
Tuition fees: Former European Commissioner for Education has reportedly said that Alex Salmond’s proposal for an independent Scotland to continue charging English students fees is illegal and that, if implemented, could trigger legal action from the European Commission. (Telegraph page 1)
Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph that Alex Salmond’s habit for announcing things and insisting they will come to pass is well known and that his tuition fees plan being declared illegal by the EU is just “another reverse for Project Fib”.
Child monitors: A final attempt to amend proposals to assign a “state monitor” to every child in Scotland has failed, meaning the SNP bill will proceed to a final vote at Holyrood, in what critics are calling a “disproportionate state interference”. (Daily Mail page 1)
Primary teaching: Scottish children’s charity Children in Scotland has backed calls for primary school teachers to improve their skills in maths and science, after educationalist Keith Bloomer warned that Scotland is falling behind other countries in these subjects (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 11)
Alex Neil: Health Secretary Alex Neil is being accused of being in denial about the problems faced by the NHS after reportedly dismissing demands for a review of the way the NHS is operating. (Herald page 6, Times page 6, Courier page 20)
NHS workforce plan: Helen Puttick comments in the Herald that the Scottish Government’s plans to prepare the NHS workforce to cope with the growing elderly population is all very well-meaning but involves little more than describing planning structures.
According to the latest figures published by the Information Services Division, the number of elderly people in Scotland being admitted to hospital in emergencies has soared in the past decade. The Scottish Conservatives say that this shows the scale of the challenge faced by the NHS in coping with Scotland’s ageing population, and highlights a need for change. (Scotsman page 17, Daily Mail page 2)