ReformScotland News: 17 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 Bill: Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the draft Scottish Independence Bill yesterday, providing an interim written constitution to take effect immediately after a prospective Yes vote, with a permanent constitution to be established in the longer term. She explained that the fundamental principle underpinning the bill is that, in Scotland, the people are sovereign and as such she urged Scots to get involved in the 4 month consultation process. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 4, Times page 1, Record page 7)


During a visit to Orkney yesterday, Alex Salmond launched his island prospectus ‘Empowering Scotland’s Island Communities’ which assured that Scottish islands will gain more economic powers and be represented at the heart of government after independence. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Times page 8)


Alex Massie in the Times, discusses Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement of the draft Independence Bill, describing it as ‘partisan and timid’ in comparison to the US Constitution. (Times page 6)


Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph discusses the impact of the referendum result on the future of Alex Salmond as party leader and who his potential successors would be.


Alex Salmond has announced that a local income tax would be imposed on Scottish households following independence, replacing council tax, which would be attractive to pensioners and those on low incomes. Finance Secretary John Swinney has suggested that Scotland could borrow billions in its fledgling years to tackle austerity and encourage growth and dynamism. The plans were instantly attacked by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander who said this was another example of the Scottish Government ‘saying anything to try to get their numbers to add up’. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Times page 7, Express page 2)


Peter Jones in the Scotsman critiques John Swinney’s promise of halting austerity by increased borrowing, describing it as ‘implausible’. (Scotsman page 23, Times page 7)


Further Devolution: In a joint pledge yesterday from the three pro-union parties Scots can be assured beyond all doubt that Holyrood will get more powers if Scotland votes No. The guarantee promises that the next Westminster government will strengthen further the powers of the Scottish Parliament, in particular in fiscal responsibility and social security. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 4, Times page 6, Express page 2, Record page 6)


Ben Thomson in the Scotsman (page 15) writes about yesterday’s three pro-union parties’ promise for more financial accountability and discusses ways it could have been improved in relation to the Glasgow Agreement proposed by Reform Scotland’s Devo Plus Group a year ago.


Referendum: Following the online backlash directed at JK Rowling for her support of Better Together, former Scottish MP Lord Foulkes asked the Justice Minister if legislation could be brought into place to protect individuals from what he described as ‘vile, personal internet abuse’. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Record page 7)


Gordon Brown has appeared to question the devolution of powers over education at a speech in Edinburgh, citing surveys that suggest that more than half of 14-17 year olds would not choose to be part of an exclusively Scottish education system. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1)


Alistair Darling has called the notion that the UK Research Council will continue in an independent Scotland ‘laughable’ and that keeping university free-free for Scots while charging those from elsewhere is ‘legally unsustainable’. (Herald page 6)


A BSA (British Social Attitudes) survey has found that two thirds of people in England and Wales believe that after independence, Scots would have to make a clear choice about being British or Scottish as opposed to one third who would support dual-nationality. (Telegraph page 1, Record page 6)


The Moderator of the Church of Scotland has spoken out after receiving abuse online from ‘determined characters’ on both sides of the independence debate and has urged people to ‘turn down the rhetoric and focus on the substance’. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Record page 7, Express page 2)


A PPI (Pensions Policy Institute) report claims an independent Scotland could run out of money to fund pensions if it keeps the same state retirement policy as the rest of the UK. The report suggests a future Scottish government would need to raise taxation reduce spending in other areas or have higher debt levels. (Times page 8)


Brian Groom in the Finanical Times discusses the Independence debate in relation to recent polls and intervention from key public figures and comments on implications of a Yes vote on the rest of the UK.


Trident: A NatCen survey on British Social Attitudes has found that more people in England want to see nuclear weapons removed from Scottish waters than those North of the Border. 41% of Scots said British Nuclear submarines could continue to be based on the Clyde after independence whereas 63% of English people think they should be moved elsewhere. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 1, Sun page 2, Express page 2)


Bedroom Tax: A survey by the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations has found that a quarter of organisations believed the bedroom tax has affected their ability to re-house homeless people and that two thirds reported an increase in tenants looking to transfer after changes in housing benefit. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 7)


Putin Controversy: Alex Salmond will be greeted in a traditional ceremony at the Edinburgh branch of the Association of Ukrainians in an attempt to diffuse tensions over his recent comments in support of Vladimir Putin. (Scotsman page 6)



Airgun laws: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has outlined a commitment to licensing for airguns to ensure they are being used for legitimate reasons by responsible people. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 7)



Baby Deaths: An independent review has cleared Wishaw General Hospital of failures relating to the deaths of three babies, concluding that there was no evidence inadequate staffing contributed to the tragedies. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 10, Record page 1)