Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 11 February 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.
Energy: Alex Salmond has urged energy giant ScottishPower to examine the expansion of its ‘hollow mountain’ power plant at Ben Cruachan, a move that could reportedly create 1,000 jobs and “keep the lights on” across the UK. A doubling in the size of the plant, as suggested by Mr. Salmond, would require investment in the region of £600million. ScottishPower’s parent company Iberdrola has begun a feasibility study at the request of Mr. Salmond, though said that the major project would not necessarily come to fruition. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 5, Times page 8, Record page 8, P&J page 9)
Energy Minister Ed Davey has warned that the ‘Big Six’ energy providers could be broken up as a result of concerns about their monopoly of the energy market, and the high levels of profits recorded. Mr. Davey has written to industry regulators Ofgem and the CMA. (Scotsman page 4, Martin Flanagan in the Scotsman, Herald page 11, FT page 3, Courier page 18)
Independence: Alex Salmond has come under increased pressure to ‘come clean’ over whether loosening Scotland’s immigration policy after independence would lead to border controls. (Telegraph page 1)
Colette Douglas Home in the Herald and Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph argue that irrespective of Scottish public opinion of Prime Minister David Cameron, he has a duty to represent the UK and debate for the Union.
Alex Massie in the Times comments on the effectiveness of the Yes campaign, noting the increase of support for independence in recent polls.
Peter Jones in the Scotsman warns that independence could lead to higher energy bills as the rest of the UK will not be subsidising Scotland.
Labour: Labour leader Ed Miliband has warned that he would continue to cut spending if Labour wins the next General Election, while also pledged to curb unaccountable power in both the public and private sector, while increasing wages for the lower paid. Mr. Miliband also revealed that a UK-wide Labour policy review, examining key issues such as inequality, will form the basis for Labour’s 2015 election manifesto. (Scotsman page 10)
Better Together: Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy has called on the No campaign to appeal more positively to voters ahead of September’s independence referendum. Mr. Kennedy also accused the SNP of centralising power in Scotland in a way that would have “shocked” the late Margaret Thatcher. (Herald page 1, Sun page 4, P&J page 12)
Lord Rennard: The Lib Dem peer Lord Rennard, currently suspended over sexual harassment allegations, has sent a letter to the party giving it until Thursday to lift his suspension or face action at the High Court. (Herald page 6, Sun page 2)
Women in politics: The Scottish Parliament is set to host a conference on the representation of women in politics. Women politicians from around the world will meet next month to discuss the particular challenges that they face. (Times page 11)
National debt: Taxpayers should spend the next few decades paying down the national debt in a bid to avoid leaving the burden to future generations, Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said. Mr. Clegg yesterday told business leaders that such measures would ensure the economy was more resilient to future crashes, with aides to Mr. Clegg confirming that the plan could take anywhere from 10 to 20 years depending on what percentage of debt was cut. (Herald page 2)
Welfare: Nicola Sturgeon has unveiled plans for £7million of funding for services for those adversely affected by welfare reform. The sum includes £3.5million for advice services and £2.5million for anti-poverty projects in 2014/15. (Herald page 2)
Young troops: Thousands of young troops leaving the Armed Forces after four years or less are likely to find themselves unemployed and to experience other problems, a review commissioned by the Prime Minister has found. (Sun page 2)
Growth: Rising exports and an increase in business investment will see UK economic output grow at a faster rate than initially anticipated, the CBI predicted. The organisation said that strong domestic demand and record low borrowing costs also underpinned the improvement in confidence among companies. (Scotsman page 29)
Pension fund: A multi-billion pound pension fund has reportedly turned down opportunities to invest in Scotland because of uncertainty created by the independence debate. (Telegraph page 9, Express page 4)
Online safety: Scottish parents are being encouraged to talk to their children about the dangers of going online. Children’s minister Aileen Campbell said that she was “delighted” to support the Safer Internet Day 2014, a campaign that aims to promote more responsible use of mobile and internet technology. (Scotsman page 6)
Meanwhile, the number of calls that the NSPCC’s ChildLine received for support and advice on how to deal with being bullied on social networking sites, chat rooms or via their mobile phones has doubled in the last two years. (Herald page 7)
Euthanasia: Care Not Killing (CNK), an alliance of organisations against assisted suicide, is to oppose a Scottish man’s legal battle for the right to help to end his life. (Herald page 1)
Court reforms: Plans to reform civil courts will put poorer Scots at a disadvantage, the new Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, James Wolffe QC, has warned. Under new reforms claims worth less than £150,000 will be moved to the sheriff court in the hope that it will save money for claimants and the justice system. Mr. Wolffe has warned that it will undermine the right of ‘ordinary’ men and women to be represented by a skilled and effective advocate. (Scotsman page 14)
Child abuse: An official report has suggested that the Scottish Government create specialised teams of lawyers, police and childcare experts to investigate historic abuse. (Scotsman page 12)
Potholes: Official figures have revealed that local councils compensate drivers on average £1,600 a day for damage caused to vehicles as a result of potholes. The total figure for reimbursements by local councils over the last five years currently stands at more than £2.7million. (Scotsman page 5, Express page 14, P&J page 16, Courier page 9)