Reform Scotland News: 10 March 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

Politics

Independence referendum: During his keynote speech at the Liberal Democrat spring conference in York, Nick Clegg yesterday issued an emotional appeal for Scotland to remain within “the family of four nations”, adding that the next parliament will need to commit to a “reconstruction and renewal of the UK.” (The Scotsman page 8, The Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 8)

Gordon Brown will today call for a new constitutional settlement for Scotland in the UK which will outline a bill of rights and will guarantee the permanence of the Scottish Parliament. In a speech in Glasgow, Mr Brown will call on politicians to save the Union through a “power sharing” relationship between Edinburgh and London , which would offer “a clear, positive alternative to independence” while bringing an end to Westminster’s “undivided sovereignty.” (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 1, The Daily Telegraph page 1, The Guardian page 5, Daily Express page 5, Daily Record page 1, The Sun page 2)

Meanwhile, Andy Murray has said he will not publicly disclose his views on independence in an attempt to avoid the furore surrounding his comments about the English football team in 2006. The Wimbledon champion added that his thoughts “aren’t that relevant” as he will not be eligible to vote on September 18th. (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 1,The Times page 2, The Daily Telegraph page 9, The Guardian page 5, Daily Express page 5, Daily Mail page 4, The Sun page 2, Press & Journal page 12, The Courier page 15)

A legal bid launched by Aidan O’Neill QC to give some 800,000 Scottish expats the vote in September could be fast-tracked to the UK’s highest court. Mr O’Neill claims it is illegal to deny those living outside the country a say in the referendum and his legal advice will be sent to both the First Minister and the Prime Minister in the hope of overturning the ruling. (Daily Express page 1, Daily Mail page 4, The Sunday Times page 1)

The leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie, yesterday promised that new powers would be accorded to Holyrood in the event of a ‘No’ vote. Mr Rennie said that the consensus to give Scotland several new powers was also supported by both the Conservatives and Labour. (The Times page 1)

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has said that an independent Scotland would have to make significant concessions on many crucial issues to have a chance of completing negotiations on EU membership by the SNP’s 2016 deadline. (The Herald page 6)  

In a survey of the 100 leading Scottish businesses published yesterday, more than a third would consider quitting Scotland in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote for independence. The study by Survation found that far more companies believed independence would harm business than those that think it would benefit them, while the vast majority thought it was important to stay in the currency union with the rest of the UK. (The Times page 6, Press & Journal page 12, The Courier page 15)

David Torrance in The Herald argues that London often fails to notice the apparent gap between the progressive rhetoric of the Scottish Government and its actual policy.

Brian Monteith writing in The Scotsman comments on the referendum being about both Scottish governance and identity.

John McLellan in The Sunday Times believes that regardless of the result of the referendum, the Conservative Party will be presented with an “opportunity to lead”. (The Sunday Times page 23)

Dounreay test reactor: The Ministry of Defence has accused Alex Salmond of “scaremongering” after he wrote to David Cameron to demand an apology for not being told about a radiation issue at the Dounreay nuclear test reactor in Caithness. The MoD said that the small radioactive discharge that was discovered in January 2012 at the site was not a public safety risk, prompting the Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont to call on Mr Salmond to “stop playing politics.” (The Daily Telegraph page 5, Press & Journal page 11, The Courier page 16)

First Minister’s Expenses: Alex Salmond has been criticised for spending almost £100,000 of taxpayers’ money on hosting events for football bosses, ambassadors and film executives at Edinburgh Castle. The Scottish Government, who had attempted to block the publication of the expenses for the last year, insisted that the castle was used to “conduct official business, showcase Scotland and celebrate worthy causes.” (The Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 4)

Childcare: Gillian Bowditch in The Sunday Times assesses the influence of women in the independence debate. (The Sunday Times page 21)

Economics

City living: A study by Lloyds Bank has found that Stirling is the most affordable city in the country to live in, with the average home costing £132, 734. Meanwhile Aberdeen, Dundee and Inverness have seen the greatest property price increases in the UK in the past decade. The report acknowledged, however, that urban life on the whole has become less affordable over the last twelve months amid surging house prices. (The Scotsman page 13, The Herald page 5, The Guardian page 3, Daily Mail page 13, Press & Journal page 15)

Future of Pensions in Scotland 

There are still some places available for our free event ‘The Future of Pensions in Scotland’ which we are running with Pinsent Masons. It will take place at 2pm on Thursday 13th March and promises to be an interesting discussion with the UK Pensions Minister Steve Web MP, and other leading politicians. Please email Alison.Payne@reformscotland.com for full details, or to reserve a place.