Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 27 February 2015
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.
Coalition: When questioned over a potential coalition deal with the SNP, Ed Balls did not repeat last month’s ruling out of the possibility. This has led to speculation that he has put a deal back on the table. However, in a visit to Edinburgh yesterday, he claimed that such a deal would be “unpopular” and that there was “no enthusiasm” among the electorate. (The Herald page 6, Scottish Daily Express page 2, The Scotsman page 9, The National page 2, The Times page 8, The Telegraph page 16, The Courier page 16)
William Hague: The Commons leader has warned of a possibly “dangerous” Labour/SNP coalition, claiming that the SNP would pull Labour leftwards and this “will be a factor people will have to think about”. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 11)
Referendum: Nicola Sturgeon has reportedly suggested that another referendum on Scottish independence may be possible in the next five years. This is a significant shift from her claim that the 2014 referendum was a “once in a generation thing”. (Scottish Daily Mail page 4)
UKIP: The party will today unveil plans to rip up the Barnett formula. UKIP’s economic spokesman Patrick O’Flynn will today claim that spending across England and Scotland should be equalised. (Scottish Daily Mail page 4)
Outside work: Following the controversy surrounding Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MSPs are to consider whether they should be banned from holding paid directorships or consultancies. (The Herald page 7, The Courier page 17, Press and Journal page 12)
Scotland Office: Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael is to recruit a new spin chief with a salary of up to £90,000, as the department attempts to boost its public image. The move comes after concerns that the Scotland Office failed to successfully promote new devolved powers following the referendum. (The Scotsman page 8)
UK Election: Kenny Farquharson in The Scotsman questions whether the SNP will really hold the balance of power at the General Election, suggesting that they are unlikely to play a part in creating the next Westminster government. Further, the rise of the SNP reportedly poses a “mortal threat” to Labour but also to the future of the UK as nationalist support has galvanised following the referendum. (The Times page 28)
Land reform: Nicola Sturgeon was challenged by Ruth Davidson to produce any government research about the effect of her proposals to overhaul the law of succession on Scottish agricultural output. She warned the First Minister that her plans risked driving up the cost of food shopping bills. (The Telegraph page 11, The Courier page 34, Press and Journal page 12)
Voting age: Senior Tories Lord Lang and Lord Forsyth have warned that the transfer of powers from Westminster on votes for 16 year olds was being pushed through without proper scrutiny. (Daily Record page 2, The Courier page 17)
Cash for MPs: Moderate Labour MPs have attacked Ed Milliband, accusing him of striking a “cash for MPs” deal with union bosses, alleging that two senior Unite officials have been put into safe seats. (The Sun page 2)
Austerity: John Swinney has claimed that Westminster’s obsession with austerity is flawed because it ignores the human cost. (The Sun page 2, The Courier page 17)
RBS: RBS boss Ross McEwan has admitted that bonus payments of £421 million were “outrageous” after a seventh straight year of losses. However, he claimed that the company had made “significant progress in becoming stronger and simpler” and dividend payments were on the horizon. (The Scotsman page 4, Scottish Daily Express page 2, The Herald page 7, Daily Record page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 19, The Guardian page 29, The Courier page 18)
North Sea oil: Ruth Davidson has urged George Osborne to do more to assist the flagging North Sea oil and gas industry by cutting taxes. (Press and Journal page 13)
Right to die: Former Church of Scotland Moderator Sandy Macdonald (father of actor David Tennant) has called on the Kirk to back the legal provision of “assistance towards a peaceful death”. (The Herald page 5)
Waiting times: Scottish Ministers will stand by a law that guarantees NHS patients a right to prompt treatment, despite increasing numbers of breaches leading to accusations that the legislation had become a farce. (The Herald page 6)
Legal highs: Scottish Legal Affairs Minister Paul Wheelhouse has backed new legislation to tackle the problem of legal highs (NPS). His backing comes in the wake of an independent group’s recommendation that the Scottish Government copy the Irish model of banning NPS sales. (The Herald page 2, The Scotsman page 8, Scottish Daily Express page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 28, The Courier page 16)
Police Scotland: Nicola Sturgeon has lent support to police chief Sir Stephen House as further questions were raised over the force’s use of stop and search. Her support comes after a report found that Ayrshire officers believed stop and searches had been “disproportionately prioritised”. (The Herald page 6, The Sun page 2, The Times page 9, The Telegraph page 11, The Courier page 17)
Inequality: Andrew Denholm in The Herald suggests that little or no progress has been made in closing the education attainment gap and that political parties who have the same aim of improving education for all should stop “dismantling each other’s policies”.
Teachers: All 32 of Scotland’s local authorities have now signed up to maintain teacher numbers after John Swinney announced that councils would lose out on a share of £51 million if they cut teaching staff. (Daily Record page 2, The Times page 9)