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Reform Scotland Media Summary 9 February 2015

Reform Scotland
Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 9 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.

Politics
Devo Max City Plan:
Jim Murphy is expected to reveal plans today for a ‘UK Core Cities Charter’ that proposes the creation of a ‘twin-city powerhouse’ between Edinburgh and Glasgow, giving both councils the power to keep a large proportion of the taxes they raise including income tax and create new levies to generate economic growth, in a bid to attract business and compete with London (Scotsman page 1, Times page 6, Financial Times page, Daily Record page 12)

A report in the Herald today, suggests that the power shift to cities may bring an economic boost of £200bn (Herald page 1)

Yes for Labour: Jim Murphy has entitled his campaign, Yes for Labour, in an effort to attract pro-independence voters who previously supported Labour in the 2010 election (Herald page 2). The Labour leader’s move has been criticised by the SNP as another ‘copycat scam’ (The Sun page 4)

First past the post: A recent poll by the Electoral Reform Society indicates that the SNP may pick up thousands of extra votes in the General Election but risk failing to convert these votes into seats in Westminster, if Labour are able to improve their ratings in the run up to the election, suggesting problems with the first past the post system (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 6, Press & Journal page 12)

English votes for English laws: Nicola Sturgeon insists that she will oppose any ban placed on Scottish politicians from voting on English laws that may have a direct impact of the national and economic interests of Scotland (Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 6, National page 4)

Wind farm Policy: The Scottish Government is being challenged by six national bodies to change their policy on assessing major wind farm developments that are opposed by their own expert environmental advisors (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 1)

Celtic Veto: Plaid Cymru and the SNP have joined together to demand that the UK should not be allowed to leave the EU unless there is not only a majority throughout the UK as a whole, but crucially also in each of the four home nations (The Times page 1, Telegraph page 2)

Bedroom Tax: SNP ministers are reportedly demanding rapid progress in the devolution of welfare powers, in order to enable them to scrap the bedroom tax (National page 13)

SNP-Labour deal: The SNP has reportedly called for an extra £1bn funding, as well as insisting that the Trident nuclear deterrent is not replaced, as part of any potential deal to prop up any Labour government (Sunday Times page 7)

Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times has warned that the lack of unity amongst the unionist parties have led to their disintegration in the aftermath of the referendum (Sunday Times page 19)

Brian Monteith in The Scotsman today, comments that Bookmakers are more likely to correctly predict the result of a general election than pollsters, who are tipping the Conservatives for the win (page 24)

David Torrance in The Herald today comments that following the referendum, unexpected alliances are arising, and that the First Minister has the authority to pull off a deal with the Tories if the SNP’s conditions were met (page 15)

Economy
North Sea oil budget: Oil expert, Sir Ian Wood, has issued further warnings to the Chancellor George Osborne, to provide help to the oil industry in the Budget, amid fears that £200bn of the UK’s oil and gas reserves could be lost (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 13). The National reports that support for the industry has been echoed by SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie who demands that the government must take action (page 5)

SNP land reform: The Duke of Buccleuch, Britain’s biggest private landowner, has hit out at the SNP’s land reform policy, saying it was a mistake to focus on ownership rather than land use. (Scotsman page 9)

East Coast sell-off:
A union has called for an in depth inquiry into the ‘rushed’ sell off of the publicly owned East Coast rail franchise (Herald page 5)

Broadband: Small businesses in four of Scotland’s cities are set to receive a share of £40m national funding to access superfast broadband (Herald page 6, Courier page 15)

Health
NHS tax recommendation: A Scottish NHS agency, NHS Health Scotland, has recommended a more progressive tax system with higher welfare payments and more rights for trade unionists, a move that has been criticised by politicians (Sunday Times page 1)

Justice
Short prison terms:
Thousands more prisoners are being put into jail for 3 months or less despite a flagship SNP law that was introduced to radically reduce short term prison sentences (Herald page 3)

Plain cigarette packets: A former Chief constable of the British Transport police Sir Ian Johnston has warned that proposals for plain cigarette packets will aid smugglers (Telegraph page 6)

Education
London school strategy:
Nicola Sturgeon is reportedly hoping to replicate the ‘London Challenge’ in Scotland, a school strategy that has resulted in sustained improvement in pupils performances south of the border, as part of her efforts to tackle educational inequality (Scotsman page 9, Daily Record page 2, Courier page 15, Daily Mail page 4).  The Times reports that the First Minister’s shift in focus to education is a bid to wrest control from Labour on this pivotal issue (page 6). Meanwhile The National reports that the move has been criticised by Education unions in Scotland as a gimmick (page 8). Magnus Linklater, in The Times, argues that the First Minister needs to learn from the reforms of the education system in England and apply them to Scotland where inequality in education remains unchanged (page 6)

Scottish University gender gap: Scottish Universities are reportedly making slow progress in addressing the gender gap in the promotion of female academics. New figures show that just 21.8% of professors at Scottish Universities are women, despite females making up 45% of the academic workforce (The Herald, page 8)