Reform Scotland News: 12 May 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



Foreign students: A poll of 200 overseas students from Edinburgh and Glasgow Universities has found that 45% of those from China would be less likely to study here if Scotland was independent, raising concerns about the loss of essential fee-paying students. (Herald page 4)


Commonwealth Games: Glasgow City Council is attempting to draft in additional officers from around the country in order to deal with the extra environmental health and trading standards work resulting from the games. (Herald page 4)


#Bringbackourgirls: David Cameron has not ruled out the possibility that British troops could be sent to Nigeria to aid in the rescue of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls. (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 14, Daily Mail page 8)


John Smith: The widow of late Labour Party leader John Smith has said that his life can inspire a new generation of public servants as she announces the creation of a new centre, the John Smith Centre for Public Service, to “promote public service as a noble vocation” on the 20th anniversary of his death. (Herald page 3, Scotsman page 15, Times page 9, Telegraph page 7, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 13)


Independence debate: Alex Salmond has already started assembling a team of experts from around the world to negotiate Scottish Independence in the event of a Yes vote. (Scotsman page 4, Sun page 2)

Lord Tebbit, former Conservative cabinet minister, has thrown doubt on claims that David Cameron’s government is not preparing for the possibility that Scotland might leave the United Kingdom, saying he would be surprised if no contingency plans were being drawn up. (Herald page 6)

Alex Salmond has ducked the chance to call on David Cameron to resign if Scots vote for independence in September, but has said that the Prime Minister would be in a “difficult position” if it was judged that he did not try his hardest to get Scotland to stay. (Herald page 6)

Brian Monteith comments in the Scotsman on the debate on resignation following the result of the independence referendum.

EuroMillions winners Colin and Christine Weir have given a combined total of £2.5million to the pro-independence campaign this year, bringing the total donated by them to £3.5million, and reportedly providing 80% of the Yes campaign’s funding. (Scotsman page 5, Times page 9, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 2, FT page 2, Guardian page 7, Daily Mail page 6, Courier page 13)

The Church of Scotland has called on both sides of the independence debate to remain polite and not make personal attacks on those who speak out.  (Sunday Times page 6)

Allan Massie comments in the Sunday Times that even No voters should say yes to putting decency back into the independence debate, and that we should have courtesy and respect for those who disagree with us.

Lesley Riddoch comments in the Scotsman on the pleas for reconciliation in the independence debate, and says that there is no use fanning imaginary flames, and that what is needed now is real debate.


Salmond on Putin: Ukrainians in Scotland have criticised Alex Salmond for not apologising for his comments apparently praising the Russian President Vladimir Putin. They have also accused him of further insulting them by referring to their country as “the Ukraine” instead of “Ukraine”. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 1, Times page 4, Telegraph page 8)


Inequality reduction: David Torrance comments in the Herald that the Scottish commitment to reducing inequality is largely rhetorical, and that Alex Salmond’s refusal to explain why existing mechanisms available to the Scottish government have not been utilised to that end, despite highlighting Scotland’s “cycle of deprivation” is evidence of this.


Plain packaging: Scottish whisky could be thrown into a tit-for-tat trade war with Asian tobacco-producing economies as legislation for plain packaging is introduced to Holyrood. The Indonesian government has proposed forcing Australian wine to be sold in plain labelled bottles in retaliation against Australia introducing plain-packaged cigarettes in 2012, and there are fears that the same could be done with Whisky. (Scotsman page 14)


Freedom of movement: David Cameron has defended the free movement of labour in Europe, but has said it that it should be returned to its original concept, which was for people to go and work in another country, not just live there. (Times page 10, Telegraph page 1)



Small businesses: Smaller businesses in Scotland are urging last-ditch changes to the Procurement Reform Bill, to give them a better deal and secure thousands of jobs. (Herald page 1)


Interest rates: The Confederation of British Industry has delivered a warning about overheating in the housing market, saying that interest rates need to rise early next year, and also highlighting that the current economic recovery could be derailed by the political uncertainty surrounding the UK. (Herald page 7, FT page 3, Guardian page 14)


North Sea oil fund: Newly unearthed reports have shown that, 37 years ago, Prime Minister James Callaghan dismissed advice to set up a North Sea oil fund that could have been worth£116 billion today. (Sunday Times page 6, Press and Journal page 24)


Pensions: According to research published by Nicola Sturgeon today, Scottish people are being short-changed on their pensions by an average of £11,000 because they die sooner. Last year the Deputy First Minister also suggested that, in an independent Scotland, people could get their pensions sooner because they don’t live as long. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 5, Daily record page 20)


Tax avoidance: David Cameron has hit out at Gary Barlow after a judge revealed that the pop singer was part of a huge tax avoidance scheme, commenting that he is “opposed to all aggressive tax avoidance schemes”. (Times page 1)


Whisky Exports: David Frost, the Chief Executive of the Scotch Whisky Association has said that the network of Scottish overseas missions envisioned by the White Paper is insufficient, and that whisky producers should have a say in where an independent Scotland’s embassies are, or else risk seriously damaging the industry. (Times page 19, Daily Express page 1, Sunday Times page 1, Telegraph page 8, Daily Mail page 6)


Scottish billionaires: According to the Sunday Times Super-Rich List published yesterday, Scotland now has a record 7 billionaires, up from last year’s 6. (Sunday Times page 1, Times page 15, Scotsman page 7, Courier page 19)



University rankings: St Andrews University has been ranked the best in Scotland and the 4th best in the UK in the latest edition of the Complete University Guide. Edinburgh University has fallen out of the top 20 for the first time in 6 years. (Herald page 5, Scotsman page 16, Courier page 10)



Armed police: Police officers in the Highlands are now regularly carrying guns when supporting colleagues on normal duties, in what is a major departure from the established approach to policing in Scotland. John Finnie, MSP for the Highlands and Islands and a former police officer, has called this a “worrying development” and is to raise the issue in Holyrood. (Herald page 7)


Underage alcohol-buying: After it was revealed that only three prosecutions have been made in three years, it has been claimed that underage youths caught buying alcohol are being given immunity from prosecution. (Herald page 8)


Court reform: A central aspect of Scotland’s civil courts shake-up faces being dropped amid widespread criticism from justice campaigners and lawyers who say that the proposed increase to the damages threshold from £5,000 to £150,000 is too great and would put wronged people off taking legal action. (Herald page 10)



GP Crisis: Doctors from Ayrshire and Arran have warned that a shortage of GPs in Scotland is causing a crisis in primary care, and that a lack of new GPs, and large numbers retiring is putting local services at risk. (Scotsman page 10)


Local Government

Rugby expenses: North Lanarkshire council has been criticised by Taxpayer Scotland after officials sanctioned public funds to subsidise a rugby team’s trip to France. (Daily Express page 10)