Reform Scotland News: 25 June 2014

Daily Political Newspaper Summary:  25 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

Politics

Phone-hacking scandal: Prime Minister David Cameron’s former director of communications Andy Coulson was found guilty yesterday of plotting to hack phones while he was editor of News of the World. Former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks, her former personal assistant, and her husband were cleared of all charges. David Cameron has issued a “full and frank” apology for giving Coulson a job.

(Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Daniel Finkelstein in the Times, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1, Sun page 4, Courier page 13, Mail page 1, Guardian page 1, Patrick Wintour in the Guardian)

Televised debate: The proposed plans for a head-to-head televised debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling have reportedly collapsed. The negotiations between the two sides allegedly broke down as result of STV agreeing to move the date of the debate from the initially agreed date of 16 July to after the Commonwealth Games on behest of the First Minister. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, FT page 1)

Independence debate: The head of an expert working group on welfare and constitutional reform commissioned by the Scottish Government has told MSPs that a Scandinavian system of welfare is not possible to implement in an independent Scotland. (Scotsman page 18)

Former First Minister Lord Jack McConnell has warned that infighting between members of the Better Together campaign could lead to the Yes campaign winning. Mr McConnell referred back to the failed 1979 referendum on devolution, commenting that it demonstrated that united campaigns win. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 7)

Alex Salmond has demanded an investigation into claims by the Treasury that an independent Scotland could face start-up costs of £2.7billion. (Herald page 7, P&J page 12)

Local income tax: Reform Scotland has criticised proposals from the SNP for a centrally-set and controlled local income to replace council tax after independence.  The think tank argued that the tax would be local in name only and that instead councils how be allowed to decide how best to raise local finances. (Express page 2, P&J page 13)

Social media: Actor Brian Cox has called for an end to the targeting of celebrities on social media for their views on independence. (Scotsman page 6)

Meanwhile, a prominent lawyer and leading figure in the Labour Party in Glasgow who aimed online abuse at the First Minister has apologised. (Herald page 3)

Cost of living: A report by consumer group Which? has revealed that over one in three households in Scotland is experiencing financial distress, with less than a quarter of households saying they are living comfortably on their incomes. (Herald page 2)

Economy

Interest rates: Bank of England governor Mark Carney has denied repeatedly offering conflicting guidance on when interest rates will rise from their all-time low, while again playing down prospects of an early rise in interest rates. (Scotsman page 36, Herald page 2, Times page 8, Telegraph B1)

Carney has revealed the stagnation of wages to be a reason for the continued low rate of interest. Since 2008 there have been only six months where real weekly earnings have been above levels inflation. (Record page 37)

European Union: Over three million jobs would be put at risk were Britain to leave the European Union, analysis by the Treasury has concluded. (Telegraph page 1)

Education

Tuition fees: An independent Scotland could no longer charge English, Welsh and Northern Irish students university tuition were it to become a member of the EU, education experts have warned. The report by the University of Edinburgh also suggested that an independent Scotland could struggle to maintain a policy of free tuition for home students. (Scotsman page 16, Times page 10, Telegraph page 14, Courier page 18)

Three-year degree: Abertay University in Dundee has said that it will trial new “fast track” degrees that aim to offer the same qualification in three years, rather than the four years that is typical of Scottish degrees. (Herald page 11, Courier page 16)

Health

NHS sustainability: The Chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland has warned on the sustainability of the NHS, likening the country’s health service to the Titanic.  Dr Brian Keighley warned that both the public and politicians had difficult questions to face on the level of service they wanted and the amount of tax they were willing to pay to provide it. (Herald page 1, Express page 1, Record page 1)

Cancer waiting targets: Nine of Scotland’s fourteen regional NHS boards have failed to meet a key target for the treating of suspected cancer patients, official statistics have revealed. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 5)

GP waiting times: Patients are being put at risk by “brutal disinvestment” in general practice, and must now often wait for over two weeks for an appointment, the chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned. (Guardian page 8)

Smoking: The BMA has called for a lifetime ban on the purchase of cigarettes by any individual born in this century. The plan, described as ‘radical’, would aim to see the eventual phasing out of cigarette sales. (Telegraph page 14)

Transport

Cycle scheme: The Glasgow city cycle hire scheme has been launched, with a reported total cost of £600,000. Glasgow City Council described the scheme as “attractive, affordable and easy to use”. (Herald page 5, Record page 26)