Reform Scotland News: 7 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



Energy policy: According to a new Scottish Government report, an independent Scotland would demand a major say in UK energy policy. The report says that Scottish renewable energy could prevent blackouts and keep prices down across the UK, but that Scotland would require “a far greater degree of oversight” in return. (Herald page 7, FT page 3, Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 13)


Scottish constitution: Alex Salmond will reportedly tell an audience in New York today that the written constitution of an independent Scotland will be inspired by the United States, and that the US Constitution is a “supreme example” of setting out a country’s most enduring principles. He will also say that, while Scotland will never be a great power like the US, it can still aspire to be a great nation. (Herald page 7, Scotsman page 5, Times page 4, Sun page 2)

Secular groups, including the Humanist Society of Scotland and the Scottish Secular Society, have voiced objections to the suggestion that an independent Scotland would formally recognise the role of religion by writing it into the constitution. (Herald page 8)


Independence debate: According to the results of the latest poll conducted for Wings over Scotland, support for Scottish independence has hit a record high, with 47% of those who have decided intending on voting Yes, and 53% voting No. (Sunday Times page 1, Daily Record page 2, Scotsman page 5)

Senior SNP figures are reportedly laying out plans to heal divisions caused by the increasingly bitter independence debate, and working on measures to unify the country regardless of the outcome of the referendum. (Times page 4. Daily Express page 9)

A Scottish Labour MP, who wishes to remain un-named for the protection of his staff, has spoken of being left “terrified” by anonymous threats and abuse from rogue supporters of Scottish independence. Police officers are now patrolling the area where his office is located. (Scotsman page 1)

Alistair Darling has insisted that the No campaign is the positive voice in the independence debate, as he spoke out against the nationalists who “monster” anybody who disagrees with them, and direct abuse at supporters of the union. (Telegraph page 9)

Samir Brikho, Chief Executive of engineering giant Amec, has become the latest business leader to urge voters to vote No in the independence referendum, saying that a Yes vote would create uncertainty at a time when the North Sea requires “billions of pounds” of investment. (Daily Express page 9, Daily Record page 2, Press and Journal page 1)

Lesley Riddoch comments in the Scotsman that the Yes Campaign should focus on the idea that The UK is a union that does not actually work, and that only Scottish independence can free Scots from this.

Brian Monteith comments in the Scotsman that destroying the SNP’s credibility is not enough, evidenced by the fact that every week another part of their White Paper is attacked, yet popular support for independence is still increasing.


SNP history: David Torrance comments in the Herald that it is eighty years to the day since the Scottish National Party were formally inaugurated after the merging of the National Party of Scotland and the Scottish Party, and finds it interesting that the modern SNP does not seem to have any interest in celebrating its past.


Disabled badges: In a bid to crack down on the misuse of blue badges, a proposal to grant greater powers of covert surveillance to local authorities has been introduced at the Scottish Parliament. Under the new rules, councils would be able to place non-uniformed officers in car parks to catch those who abuse the system. (Herald page 8)


Maria Miller: Former Conservative Chairman Lord Tebbit has become the most senior Conservative to call for the resignation of the Culture Secretary amid controversy over her “arrogant” response to the handling of the investigation into her expenses claims. (Herald page 4, Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Telegraph page 4, FT page 2, Daily Express page 11, Sun page 4, Press and Journal page 13, Courier page 15)



Tax evasion: Scots who hide their money in offshore bank accounts are being targeted in a new anti-tax evasion offensive. (Herald page 1)


Fuel poverty: Renewed fears over debt levels have been sparked after research for the Debt Advisory Centre Scotland found that more Scots are using credit cards to pay off their fuel bills. 12% of people in the country used a credit card to settle a utility bill last month, up from 4% in summer 2013. (Herald page 5)



MSPs’ schooling: Research carried out by the Herald has revealed that MSPs are four times more likely to have gone to private school than the people they represent. While 17% of MSPs were educated independently, compared to the national average of 4%, this remains a much lower intake than that of Westminster, where 34% of members attended a fee-paying school. (Herald page 6)



Prison books: Leading writers have criticised rules banning friends and family from sending books to prisoners. Currently, books are only allowed to be delivered to Scottish prisons from pre-approved suppliers such as Amazon, and critics say that this measure is limiting prisoners’ access to books. (Herald page 8)


Murder prevention: Dr John Crichton, one of Scotland’s leading forensic psychiatrists, has called for widespread sale of non-stab kitchen knives to cut Scotland’s murder rate. He argues that blunt-tipped knives would be just as effective for cooking, but are less likely to become weapons. (Herald page 11, Scotsman page 13, Press and Journal page 18)



Walking aids: A Freedom of Information request has revealed that NHS Scotland spent more that £1.5 million on crutches and walking frames last year because people failed to return them. A spokesman has said that it is now a decision for the Scottish Government whether to introduce fines to deter this behaviour. (Herald page 1)