Reform Scotland News: 20 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

Budget: George Osborne has used his Budget announcement to reportedly appeal to older voters in the run up to the 2015 election, with new measures on pensions and savings. A referendum row also broke out after the Chancellor used his commons statement to claim that further drops in North Sea oil revenue are expected, and would leave an independent Scotland exposed. He also warned of “how precarious the budget in an independent Scotland would be”, and predicted that Scotland would be left with a shortfall of £1000 per head if they voted Yes in the referendum. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 6, Sun page 6, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 16. See also Budget Specials in The Herald, Scotsman, Telegraph and FT)

Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that, despite the upbeat tone of Osborne’s Budget yesterday, which seemed to suggest that sunny skies are ahead, it was a Budget with dark matter at its heart as the worst is far from over and there will need to be years of cuts come in order to combat the rising tide of national debt.

Peter Oborne comments in the Telegraph that this was Osborne’s fifth and best budget so far, and that it shows that the Lib-Dems and the Tories can work creatively together. He suggests that the best chance the Conservatives have of winning the 2015 election is to renew their vows with the Liberal Democrats.

 

Crimea: David Cameron has told the Commons that the international community will pay a high price if it does not take action over the Ukrainian crisis, and has called for European leaders to set out the consequences that Moscow will face for the annexation of Crimea. (Herald page 4, Courier page 30)

Iain MacWhirter comments in the Herald that there is a danger to the West in talking tough on Ukraine, and that we should be wary of drawing provocative historical comparisons.

 

Lena Wilson: Questions have been raised over Lena Wilson’s commitment to her £200,000 position as head of Scottish Enterprise after it emerged that she received £60,000 in fees from a part-time role with another organisation. (Herald page 6)

 

2015 election: Conservative MP John Stevenson has reportedly demanded that Scots be banned from voting in the 2015 General Election if there is a Yes vote in this year’s independence referendum, in order to prevent a constitutional crisis. (Herald page 7)

 

Economy

Building restoration: Six buildings across Scotland are to share £1.9 million of funding from Historic Scotland’s Building Repair Grants. (Herald page 4)

 

Offshore wind farm: The green light has been given to a £1 billion wind farm in Scottish waters off Caithness that, with up to 326 turbines, would be the third largest in the world and capable of powering more than a million homes. (Herald page 9, Scotsman page 17, Times page 4, Daily Express page 23, Daily Mail page 34, Press and Journal page 2)

 

Justice

HMP Barlinnie: The Scottish Prison Service is planning to close the overcrowded HMP Barlinnie, Scotland’s biggest jail, and replace it with an expanded facility on a site up to twice as large. (Herald page 7)

 

Transport

A9 improvements: 18 miles of the A9 between Perth and Inverness are to be dualled a year earlier than was originally planned. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 18, Sun page 31, Courier page 11)

 

Prestwick Airport: Nicola Sturgeon has told the Scottish Parliament Infrastructure Committee that, despite being owned by Holyrood, Prestwick Airport will not be given preferential treatment by the Scottish Government, and that ministers will remain neutral over which airports get support. She also said that she was “not unmoved” by calls to rename the airport Robert Burns International. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 18, Daily Express page 23)