Reform Scotland News: 27 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



EU debate: Following last night’s debate on Europe between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg, a YouGov snap poll has shown that that 57% of people believe Mr Farage performed better. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 12, Telegraph page 1, Times page 8, FT page 4, Sun page 2, Guardian page 6, Daily Mail page 12, Press and Journal page 19, Courier page 22)


Independence debate: Lord Steel of Aikwood has reportedly told former Prime Minister John Major that he is “very welcome” to come to Scotland to promote the Union, but has warned him not to campaign in Scotland if he plans to make a negative case against the SNP. (Herald page 1)

MPs from the North of England are set to take on a key role in the battle for a No vote by “lovebombing” Scots with the message that they are wanted in the UK, and challenging the SNP’s portrayal of England as a politically alien land with an overwhelmingly right-leaning outlook. (Herald page 6)

The UK Government is expected to publish a new information pack on the economics of independence, with ministers warning that Scots would suffer rising unemployment, higher interest rates and tighter public spending if they vote Yes in the referendum. (Telegraph page 6)


R&A female vote: In response to political and commercial pressure, the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews is to hold a vote on its single-sex policy on September 18th, the same day as the Scottish independence referendum. (Herald page 3, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 7, FT page 4, Daily Mail page 13, Courier page 3)


Child guardians: A legal challenge to block SNP plans for every child in Scotland to have a named guardian will be lodged next month, amid growing opposition from angry parents. (Scotsman page 1, Daily Express page 4, Press and Journal page 15)



Welfare cap: Despite a rebellion from several backbenchers, Labour have defended their decision to vote for the capping of welfare spending, saying that an annual cap on the overall welfare bill is the “right thing to do”. (Herald page 2, Courier page 14)

The SNP were accused of performing a U-turn after their MPs were among the 22 who voted against the welfare cap, despite the idea being supported by Alex Salmond last year. Opponents of independence have said that this now means there is confusion over whether the cap would be introduced in an independent Scotland or not. (Scotsman page 12)

Iain MacWhirter comments in the Herald that, although they insist that they are only responding to public opinion becoming more anti-welfare, by voting for welfare to be capped, Labour, the party that created the welfare state, has lost much of its credibility.


Currency: Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP and adviser to Alex Salmond, has reportedly said that using the pound informally and refusing to take on any of the UK’s national debt would be a “pretty attractive option” (Herald page 6)

A YouGov poll has found that more Scots believe that George Osborne is bluffing over ruling out a currency union than believe he is telling the truth. (Times, page 1)


North Sea oil: Following claims the figures were over-optimistic, Finance Secretary John Swinney has agreed to update Scottish Government forecasts for North Sea oil and gas revenues. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 10, Times page 4, Daily Mail page 2, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 22)


Wind power: A decision by energy giant SSE to limit its commitment to Scottish offshore wind energy projects has raised concerns over the future of development in the industry in Scotland. (Herald page 8, Daily Mail page 6, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 31)


Energy Prices: SSE has also sparked hopes of a price war between the big six energy suppliers after announcing that their prices are to be frozen until 2016. (Herald page 8, FT Page 3, Times page 4, Scotsman page 9, Daily Express page 1, Daily record page 2, Sun page 2, Guardian page 20, Daily Mail page 6, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 13)


Scottish economy: Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that a series of robust figures from the Bank of Scotland’s Business Monitor show that Scotland is not being held back by Westminster’s austerity measures, and that claims that we are “being robbed” or “missing out” are unfounded.



University research: David Willetts, UK Minister for Universities and Science, has warned that funding of research at universities across the UK could not continue to be integrated if Scotland were to gain independence, and that UK-wide research councils would not continue to fund research at Scottish universities as they do currently if there was a Yes vote. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 10)



Prison treatment: After a visit from Europe’s anti-torture watchdog, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Punishment, prison officers in Scotland have reportedly been warned not to use excessive force against inmates. (Herald page 4)


999 danger areas: Latest figures from the Scottish Ambulance Service show that the number of addresses in Scotland which have been flagged as dangerous, meaning that ambulance crews can request police backup before attending an incident, has doubled in less than a year, from 593 to 1213. (Herald page 7)



Confidential hotline: A confidential whistleblowers’ hotline for NHS staff to raise concerns about healthcare practices is to be extended for two years after receiving numbers of calls and triggering six investigations. (Herald page 1)


Health boards bailouts: Four health boards have had to be bailed out by the Scottish Government for a total of almost £10 million. (Herald page 1)


GP resources: Helen Puttick comments in the Herald that many patients feel rushed when visiting their GP, and that, if GPs had more resources and more time to do their jobs, people might feel more comfortable raising “one last thing” in their appointment, which may improve health outcomes.


Local Government

East Renfrewshire: After bringing in a series of supposedly undemocratic rule changes, three rebel community councils in East Renfrewshire have been warned that they may be stripped of their funding and powers. (Herald page 10)