Reform Scotland News: 20 June 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



Independence Referendum: Chief Counting Officer for the Referendum Mary Pitcaithly has warned there will not be a recount if the question is decided by one or two votes and that only a concern about the integrity of the counting process would warrant a recount. (Herald page 1)


Alex Salmond has rubbished claims that the Scottish Government is drawing up a report calculating start-up costs of an independent Scotland. During First Minister’s questions he confirmed he has met with an academic whose £250m estimate he endorsed. Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie claims the First Minister ‘doesn’t have a clue about set-up costs’ in the event of a Yes vote. (Herald page 6, Record page 8, Express page 2, Sun page 2) 


Salmond faces pressure from campaign group Republic to ditch the monarchy. The group plans to meet in Edinburgh next month, undermine Salmond’s attempts to reassure Scots that we could keep the Queen in an independent Scotland. (Express page 2)


A Scots business tycoon based in Monaco has spoken out in support of the Yes campaign, stating he would consider moving home to an independent Scotland. Jim, McColl, the boss of engineering investment giant Clyde Blowers Capital is not able to vote in the referendum, but advises Scots that the decision is not about the SNP but about ‘whether we want decisions affecting our lives to be made in Scotland or Westminster’. (Scotsman page 6)


Finance Secretary John Swinney has stated his belief that the independence debate will come down to which option voters believe will give them the best economic prospects. He told the ICAS Accoutancy conference yesterday that people will not be swayed by ‘crude’ figures such as the UK Treasury’s analysis that Scots will be £1400 better off in the union and suggested they were more likely to be influenced by his party’s programme, set out to ‘expand and to grow the Scottish economy’. (Scotsman page 6)


Chief Executive of the Weir Group Keith Cochrane has warned that an Independent Scotland would face a potential hiatus of future investments and that his firm could be forced to relocate outside of Glasgow. Pro-Independence group Business for Scotland disputed the claims, insisting a strong ‘Scotland Brand’ would give companies a boost in international markets. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Times page 3, Express page 2, Record page 8, Telegraph page 1)


Better Together campaign chief Blair McDougall sent a bizarre email to Alex Salmond yesterday, welcoming him to the fight to keep Scotland in the UK. It is understood the email was sent automatically to those who join up, and that pranksters have previously signed up William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Salmond’s spokesman joked that the email highlighted the desperation of the campaign. (Record page 8)


John McTernan in the Scotsman, offers a critique of the SNP’s interim constitution and disputes its claim that ‘in Scotland, the people are sovereign’.


Joyce McMillan in the Scotsman investigates the high-tax, high spend, high-equality Nordic fiscal model after a report placed Denmark the happiest nation in Europe and asks if an independent Scotland could move towards a similar model.


Alison Rowat in the Herald discusses attitudes in England towards Scotland and possible independence, as well as attitudes in Scotland towards the English. 


Gerry Braiden in the Herald warns against comparisons with Ireland in the referendum debate, stating that ‘Independent Ireland isn’t a case study on the potential complexion of an Independent Scotland’


Alex Cochrane in the Herald discusses Alex Salmond’s response to accusations that he is drawing up a report on start-up costs for an independent Scotland.


Kirsty MacAlpine in the Herald discusses independence as an opportunity to ensure equal rights for all citizens, specifically in relation to the draft constitution’s mention of equal rights for LGBT individuals.


Former Labour Home Secretary Lord Reid has been reported to the Electoral Commission for breaching the law as his full page ‘Vote No’ advert in the Scottish Catholic Observer fails to specify who funded and promoted the campaign. (Herald page 6)


An Ipsos Mori poll has found that most Britons, by two to one, think the main UK parties should offer extra devolution to Holyrood in the field of taxation, and that England and Wales should get the same powers. (Herald page 6)


Miliband: Ed Miliband has asserted his belief that he will defy the odds and win the next general election and has detailed plans for a new Youth Allowance policy for out of work 18-21 year olds. The plan has been praised by businesses for linking benefits for the young with training schemes, but criticised by unions for ‘Tory rhetoric’. (Times page 8, FT page 2)


Free Childcare: The Scottish Government came under fire last night after it emerged that a legal duty for councils to provide 600 hours of free childcare to certain families will come into effect 3 months later than planned. Labour’s education spokeswoman Kezia Dugdale described the flagship policy, on which the white paper was built, as being in ‘disarray’. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 4, Times page 5)


Poverty Study: The Poverty Truth Commission has produced a report based on an 18 month study which demands that any attempt made at tackling poverty must directly involve those who are affected by it. The commission recommended an end to zero-hours contracts, a reduction in the number or people being sanctioned by job centres and the creation of a not-for-profit energy company. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 7)


Disability Benefits Reform: Six months of delays in processing a new disability benefit have let down some of the most vulnerable people in society, forcing them to turn to food banks and charitable donations, a study by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found. The Personal Independence Payment, introduced to replace Disability Living Allowance has caused ‘chaos’ with the Department of Work and Pensions resulting in delays and a backlog of claims according to PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge. (Herald page 8)


Baby Ashes: Families affected by the Mortonhall baby ashes scandal will learn today what action council chiefs will take to prevent such a tragedy happening again. Edinburgh City Council will detail its response to the 22 recommendations made by Lord Advocate Dame Elish Angiolini who chaired the investigation. (Scotsman page 15)



Jobs Market: Research carried out by s1jobs suggests that the number of applicants per role is returning to the levels seen before the recession, suggesting that the jobs market is starting to stabilise and that there has been a ‘resurgence of the Scottish economy’. (Herald page 2)



Stop and Search: Assistant Chief Constable Wayne Mawson told the Scottish Parliament yesterday that the practice of consensual ‘stop and searches’ would no longer be carried out on those under the age of 12. The move was welcomed by politicians; Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes called it a ‘victory for children and their rights’. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1)


Rape Figures: Police Scotland have released figures showing that the number of reported rapes has increased by 25%, and sexual assaults by 10% since last year. This was attributed to an increase in reporting by victims, and only a ‘modest’ increase in actual crimes committed, which may have been driven by high-profile celebrity sex-crimes cases. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 7, Times page 15, Express page 1)



Shared Headteachers: The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has spoken out against councils looking to extend a money-saving policy of shared headteachers, saying that every school deserves to have its own headteacher. (Herald page 1)


Education Report: A report on education in Scotland has been accused of being ‘watered down’ to downplay the how badly some schools are performing. An earlier draft of the Audit Scotland report showed that Scottish schools were performing at a slower pace than the rest of the UK. (Telegraph page 9, Times page 6)



Doctors’ Hours: Health Secretary Alex Neil has told Health Boards they must end the practice of Junior Doctors working 7 days/nights in a row back to back and that more resources were required to ensure junior doctors were not overstretched. The move was welcomed by opposition politicians. (Herald page 3)