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Reform Scotland News: 3 April 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

Europe debate: After a second debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg regarding Britain’s future in the European Union, snap polls have again declared Mr Farage the winner, this time by a margin of 69% to 31%. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 7, Telegraph page 1, Times page 11, Financial Times page 2, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 10, Courier page 19)

 

Independence: With less than six months to go, record numbers of Scots have reportedly registered to vote in the independence referendum. The latest estimates from the Electoral Commission reveal that 4.1 million Scots are now on the electoral roll. (Herald page 6)

Iain MacWhirter comments in the Herald that the No camp is far from united when it comes to talking about Scotland’s future, and that, if it were not for a sympathetic press, the Better Together campaign would be in big trouble.

Alex Massie notes in the Times that, for the first time in years, there is optimism in Tory circles in Scotland, and that the independence debate has revitalised the Scottish Conservatives, finally giving them a realistic cause to fight for.

SNP MSPs have reportedly been rebuked for their behaviour after reportedly “bullying” and “shouting down” industry leaders over currency issues at the Holyrood economy committee.  (Scotsman page 10, Telegraph page 10, Times page 15, Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 2, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 8, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 19)

Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman that the independence battle was always going to be a feisty one, but that it has been getting continually nastier and it is time for both sides to take a breath. He argues that recent events, such as the TV encounter between Johann Lamont and Nicola Sturgeon, and business leaders being shouted at by the SNP, cross the line between fair rebuttal and menacing nastiness, and will not only hamper the whole debate, but create an appalling impression of our country to those outside Scotland.

 

Scotland in the EU: The SNP have been called on by Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael to fill in the “missing details” about their plans to have an independent Scotland fast-tracked into the EU. (Herald page 6)

 

Foreign aid: The UK met United Nations targets for spending on international aid for the first time last year, according to provisional new figures from the Office of National Statistics. The total given to developing countries in 2012 was £11.4 billion, up from £8.8 billion the previous year, bringing the total, as a proportion of gross national income, up to 0.72%, in line with the UN targets of 0.7%. (Herald page 6)

 

2015 election: Pressure is being put on David Cameron from senior Conservatives to rewrite the rules of the 2015 general election so as to prevent Scottish people from participating if they vote in favour of independence. The exclusion of Scotland could be pivotal in determining who the next UK government is. (Times page 1)

 

Scottish defence: Dr Andrew Murrison, Minister for International Security and Strategy, has poured scorn on the SNP’s post-independence plans to spend an extra £500 million “beefing up” Scotland’s military, dismissing it as a “wish list”. (Press and Journal page 2)

 

Economy

House prices: According to figures from the Nationwide Building Society, property values in Scotland have risen by their biggest margin in six years. In the first quarter of 2014, the average house sold for £138,386, up 7.6% on last year. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 14, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 13)

 

Wind energy: Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, has warned that proposals to limit the number of onshore wind turbines in Scotland could increase energy bills and cost thousands of jobs. (Herald page 3, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 19,)

 

Currency: SNP MP Angus MacNeil has suggested that a currency union between the UK and an independent Scotland would not last if the economies diverge, and that his party’s preferred option would only remain viable if the separate countries remained in step with each other. (Herald page 6)

 

Education

Stirling University: Stirling University has set up a partnership with private education company INTO to recruit and teach oversees students. The controversial agreement will see the establishments operate two study centres for international students in Stirling and London, but concerns have been raised over the “creeping privatisation of higher education” and the resultant impact on quality (Herald page 1)

 

Transport

Games disruption: Organisers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games have been warned that deliveries to and from Glasgow face disruption unless officials can speed up the release of information regarding road closures and traffic restrictions during the 11-day competition. (Herald page 8)

 

Prestwick Airport: in the Herald, Helen McArdle comments on the campaign to rename Prestwick Airport in honour of Robert Burns, and how Chief Executive Mark Rodwell has dismayed fans of the poet by saying that such a name would confuse travellers as the area is not instantly connectable with Burns.

 

Health

NHS 24: In the latest in a series of IT failures in the health sector, a £27 million computer system designed to improve the NHS 24 helpline has been delayed indefinitely. (Herald page 1)