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 Referendum: David Cameron has acknowledged that the Better Together campaign must do more to promote an “emotional and historic” case for the Union, in a bid to win over the hearts of Scots in the run-up to the referendum. The Prime Minister added that although he believes the No campaign is already winning the economic arguments for Scotland remaining in the Union, it must now turn towards “arguments of the heart.” Pro-independence campaigners last night claimed Mr Cameron’s comments illustrated that the No campaign had failed to convince Scots that their future would be better as part of the UK. Alex Salmond also criticised the Prime Minister, highlighting his refusal to participate in a televised debate as a mixture of “arrogance and fear”. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 6, The Daily Telegraph page 5, The Times page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 2, The Sun page 2, Daily Record page 4, Press & Journal page 13, The Sunday Times page 1)
With 56% of UK voters keen to witness a televised debate between Alex Salmond and David Cameron, Lesley Riddoch in The Scotsman questions Mr Cameron’s reluctance to participate.
Meanwhile, a YouGov poll on behalf of the Better Together campaign has found that a stronger Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom is the most favoured option among Scots. 32% of adults were in favour of maximum devolution; 30% of those polled favoured independence and 29% supported the status quo. (The Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Times page 2, Press & Journal page 13, The Sun page 1-2)
Nicola Sturgeon has responded to critics of the SNP government’s white paper, arguing that it provides a ‘compelling case’ for Scottish independence. Leader of the No campaign Alistair Darling has previously said that the number of unanswered questions in the document should send “shivers of fear” through Scots. (The Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 6, Press & Journal page 12, Daily Record page 4)
Jeremy Peat, the director of think-tank the David Hume Institute, has said that greater clarity is needed on whether there would be further devolution in the event of a no vote, adding that it is also “critical” that the issue of currency must be resolved before September’s referendum. (The Herald page 3)
Brian Monteith writing in The Scotsman reflects on the challenges David Cameron will face in the coming 12 months, citing the referendum as a test.
David Torrance in The Herald considers the realities of the independence referendum, describing Alex Salmond as “a teller of tales” in his attempt to make Scotland appear colonised by England.
Alan Cochrane writing in The Daily Telegraph discusses the fact that despite the SNP being a force to be reckoned with thanks to their “unquestioning devotion” to the pro-independence campaign, support for independence in the opinion polls has barely moved.
Sir Tom Hunter in The Sunday Times has warned against negative campaigning in the independence debate, adding that it is a big turnoff for the public. The Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist voiced concerns that the SNP still have many important questions to answer, adding the debate is becoming “polarised, unproductive and lacking in ambition”. (pages 5 & 23)
Pensions: David Cameron has pledged to retain the “triple-lock” guarantee of minimum annual pensions rises of 2.5% should the Conservatives win the 2015 election, adding that it was “fair” to protect pensions from spending cuts. However, he declined to rule out a restriction on other pensioner benefits after the general election. (The Scotsman page 5, The Herald page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, Press & Journal page 17)
Immigration: Following claims that the lifting of border restrictions on January 1st raised fears of the arrival of thousands of new migrants to Britain from eastern Europe, Scottish external affairs minister Humza Yousaf has warned that Westminster’s “inflamed” rhetoric risks creating tensions over immigration, adding that they must be “extraordinarily careful” in the language they use. (The Scotsman page 10)
Child care: Alex Salmond has claimed that independence is necessary in order for the Scottish government to provide 30 hours a week of child care. In a YouGov survey commissioned by Better Together, however, nearly two-thirds of people believed the government should be using its current powers to provide better childcare services. (The Herald page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 2)
Bill Walker: The disgraced former MSP Bill Walker will remain in jail, having failed in his bid to be released early. (Daily Express page 7)
Economic recovery: The most recent Bank of Scotland Business Monitor has confirmed that Scotland’s economic recovery is expected to continue into 2014, with 37% of firms surveyed confirming that turnover had increased in the three months up to the end of November. (The Herald page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 6, Daily Record page 4, Press & Journal page 24)
Meanwhile, George Osborne will today warn that years of cuts lie ahead, adding that Britain’s recent recovery is not enough to overcome the economic woes of the last five years. (Guardian page 4, Financial Times page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 2)
National examinations: Teachers have raised fears over the workload involved in the preparation of pupils for the new National exams, citing a lack of support and clarity from the Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) who introduced the exams to replace Standard Grades. (The Scotsman page 6, The Herald page 7, The Times page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 18, Daily Express page 2, Press & Journal page 14)
Cancer risk: The World Cancer Research Fund has warned that British women are putting themselves at risk of cancer because of their lack of physical activity, with figures suggesting women in the UK have the 10th highest rate in the world for cancer diagnoses linked to sedentary lifestyle. (The Scotsman page 12, The Herald page 5, Guardian page 7, Scottish Daily Mail page 23, Press & Journal page 15)
Tumour diagnosis: The Brain Tumour Charity has called for urgent action to speed up the diagnosis and improve the care for patients with brain tumours, as figures reveal that a third of people visited their GP more than five times before being diagnosed. (The Scotsman page 12)
Patient care: A report has found that NHS nurses and other staff in Scotland are leading the world by implementing the Releasing Time to Care (RTC) programme, enabling them to spend thousands of extra hours with patients and to increase efficiency. (The Scotsman page 15)