Reform Scotland News: 20 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.


In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News



Child guardians: After MSPs in Holyrood approved the Children and Young People Bill, the child protection legislation is reportedly facing legal hurdles as religious pressure groups vow to fight the proposed “illegal law” which would see a state guardian appointed to every child under the age of 18. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 7, the Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 1, Press and Journal page 12)


Support for the Union: In a message delivered by model Kate Moss, rock star David Bowie has, in front of a live television audience of millions, called for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, Guardian page 3, Daily Mail page 1, Courier page 16)

In his first comments regarding the independence campaign, leading Scottish fashion designer Christopher Kane has said that he would prefer the UK to stay together. (Herald page 6)

Bill Leckie comments on page 15 of the Sun that he is neither a unionist nor a separatist, but that because he considers Alex Salmond’s proposals to be a leap of blind faith too far, he will be voting No in the referendum.


EU membership: Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, has reiterated his warning that an independent Scotland would face difficulties negotiating entry into the EU, backing the statement made by European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, who said last week that it would be “difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to win the support of all 28 member states. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 14, Times page 2, Press and Journal page 14, Courier page 14)


SNP bullying claims: Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph that the Scottish Nationalists are not in a position to complain that Scotland is being threatened or bullied every time their opposition says something that they don’t agree with, because they are no strangers to issuing threats themselves.

Martin Kettle comments in the Guardian that the SNP are acting like spoiled children, and that by refusing to engage properly with those who question their policies, and continuing to accuse all critics of “bluff, bluster and bullying”, they are acting like they have already lost the race.


Phone hacking inquiry: A jury in the phone hacking inquiry has been told that, at the height of the crisis, former PM Tony Blair offered to be an “unofficial adviser” to accused News International chief Rebekah Brooks. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 9, Telegraph page 1, Times page 7, Financial Times page 1, Daily Express page 3, Daily record page 2, the Sun page 16, The Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 10, Press and Journal page 17, Courier page 23)



Currency: Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that, in the event of having to find a currency arrangement “plan B”, an independent central bank may not be worth the money. He cites Scotland’s thriving free banking era, which ended in 1845 and was characterised by prudently managed banks and an alternative system of liquidity management, as evidence that a central bank is not always necessary.


Women in work: Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that the number of women in work in Scotland has reached its highest ever level at 1,243,000. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Times page 1, Daily Express page 2, The Sun page 2, Guardian page 12, Daily Mail page 21, Courier page 20)


Economic recovery: George Osborne will today issue a warning that Britain’s economic recovery is not yet secure, and that we cannot rely on consumer spending to get us back in the black, as the economy remains unbalanced. (Herald page 2, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 4)


Mortgage prices: Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has warned that if Scotland refuses to accept its share of the UK debts, mortgage costs in Scotland would rise by an average of £5,200 per year because of the effect it would have on borrowing and the country’s national reputation. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 8, Telegraph page 14, Times page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily record page 8, the Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 14, Courier page 14)


Lottery funding: In a speech today to the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Alastair Darling will warn that good causes may lose out on crucial funding in an Independent Scotland when the National Lottery ends. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 14)


Welfare: Alex Salmond has pledged £4 million of funding for a scheme that supports jobs in charities for young people, and has hit out at David Cameron for announcing that the UK Government’s welfare reforms were his “moral mission”. (Herald page 4)


Geothermal potential: Engineers at Glasgow University have calculated that Scotland has the geothermal energy capacity to heat the entire country, while a separate study by the Government suggests that hot water in flooded mines could be pumped out to meet a third of Scotland’s heating needs. (Times page 4)


Whisky tax: Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has urged fellow Conservative George Osborne to reduce the increasing tax burden on whisky exports, saying that it is “time to give whisky lovers a break”. (The Sun page 2)



Care services: After extensive polling of home care staff, Unison Scotland has reported that the current state of Scotland’s care services is not sufficient to meet the needs of those in need. (Herald page 3)


Waiting times: Despite acknowledging that his guarantee could be breached, health secretary Alex Neil has given a 100% pledge that all in-patients in hospitals in Scotland will be seen within 12 weeks. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 11, Press and Journal page 13)


Alcohol: According to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics, alcohol related deaths have fallen in Scotland in relation to the rest of the UK, with a 37% decrease between 2002 and 2012 in contrast to rising figures in England and Wales. (Herald page 11, Press and Journal page 13, Scotsman page 17, Times page 14, Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 22, Courier page 22)



School meals: Highland Council’s Adult and Children’s Services have warned that the Scottish Government’s plans to give a free school meal to every child in the first three years of primary school will not work in some rural areas. (Herald page 5)