Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 20 March 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.
Budget: George Osborne has been urged to spell out how he will achieve the £12bn savings forecast for the next parliament. The OBR has suggested that his plans will require a “tightening squeeze followed by a spending splurge”. There has been controversy as Ed Balls reportedly admitted there was “nothing” in the budget he would “need to reverse” while Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy has stated that the Budget means “the worst is yet to come”. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The National page 2, The Sun page 2, The Guardian page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 8)
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) claims that families will be better off later this year than they were in 2010, reportedly undermining Labour’s claims about living standards. George Osborne will pledge to take nearly a million people out of the 40p rate of tax by raising the threshold to £50,000 despite attempts to block the move by his coalition partners. (The Telegraph page 4, page 1)
Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman says that George Osborne has ignored the country’s underprivileged. She claims that the poverty experienced by 13 million people in the UK is the result of the 2008 crash: those at the bottom are continuing to suffer its effects.
Lib Dem-Labour: The Liberal Democrats condemned much of George Osborne’s Budget as the party made moves to maintain hopes of a coalition with Labour in May; however, the party faced criticism yesterday as Danny Alexander attempted to present an alternative Budget. (The Herald page 6, Scottish Daily Express page 4, The Guardianpage 10, Scottish Daily Mail page 10, Press and Journal page 12)
SNP member: An SNP member who posted a homophobic rant on social media about Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has been suspended by the party. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7, Telegraph page 1, The Times page 2, The Nationalpage 4, Scottish Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 7, Scottish Daily Mail page 13, Press and Journal page 13, The Courier page 15)
Devo Max: A devo max Scotland would be £7.6 billion worse off next year, according to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies. The IFS claimed that a Scotland relying on tax revenue raised solely north of the border would have to make deep spending cuts unless the price of oil recovered or the economy grew much faster than the rest of the UK. (The Herald page 6, The Times page 11)
Referendum: Alison Rowat in The Herald suggests that we should accept that another referendum is inevitable as independence continues to be the dominant topic in Scottish politics. She warns that we should not “sleepwalk” into another referendum.
NHS battle: Kenny Farquharson in The Scotsman claims that while the NHS is the most significant concern for voters in Scotland, it has yet to become a central issue in general election campaigns north of the border. However, he predicts that will soon change and that lack of choice in the country’s health service could spell trouble for the SNP.
Oil projections: Nicola Sturgeon has admitted the SNP was “wrong” about its claims over Scotland’s future oil wealth during the referendum campaign. The First Minister came under fire as opponents claimed the Nationalists’ plans would leave Scotland facing billions of pounds of cuts. (The Scotsman page 4, The Herald page 6, The Telegraph page 14, The Times page 11, Scottish Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 10, Press and Journal page 14)
Nicola Sturgeon’s suggestion to English voters that they should back the Green Party at the General Election was highlighted by Ruth Davidson as hypocritical given the Greens’ stance on North Sea oil. (Scottish Daily Mail page 2)
SNP poll boost: A Survation poll has shown support for the SNP continuing to grow, placing support up two points to 47 per cent with Labour down one to 26 per cent. (The Herald page 1, Daily Record page 6, The Sun page 2)
Edinburgh Festival: Edinburgh International Festival has been warned that it is “utterly unrealistic” to expect substantial sums of new public funding to be invested in the event as the Edinburgh local authority is trying to make tens of millions of pounds worth of savings. (The Scotsman page 3)
Liberal Democrats: Nick Clegg will today attempt to rally his party in Scotland, telling them they can still succeed in May and urging them to “hand Alex Salmond another defeat”. (The Scotsman page 6, The Telegraph page 14, The Times page 2, The Sun page 2, The Courier page 15)
Alex Salmond: Alex Salmond was yesterday besieged by independence supporters as he launched his referendum memoirs at a book signing in Glasgow. (The Scotsman page 10, The Herald page 3, Scottish Daily Mail page 13, The Courier page 15)
Drink drive limit: Thousands of jobs could be at risk as a survey by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association showed that most bars and pubs in Scotland have reported a drop of at least 10 per cent since the introduction of tough new drink-drive laws. (The Herald page 1)
Local authority: Andrew Burns in The Scotsman argues that the funding and powers of individual local authorities is a broken system and that it must be fixed to allow councils to work effectively with those in their local areas.
Young Farmers: Kirsten Williams in The Scotsman suggests that in order to boost the agriculture industry, more must be done to help young farmers into the industry.
Equal pay: More than 4,000 women are to receive payouts giving backdated equal pay under an agreement from North Lanarkshire Council. (The Herald page 2)
North Sea oil: North Sea-focused Enquest has said that tax changes in the Budget will help to ensure the future of the Scottish industry, making investment in older wells more attractive. (The Herald page 27, Press and Journal page 31)
Pipe bands: Pipe bands are to enjoy a tax break following yesterday’s Budget. A re-classification will see them fall into the tax-free category of “orchestra”. (The Scotsmanpage 5, The Herald page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 10)
Waiting times: The number of patients waiting longer than the target time to be discharged from hospital is beginning to fall. Health Secretary Shona Robison said evidence indicated that progress was being made to tackle “bed-blocking”. (The Scotsman page 6)
Elderly care fund: The Scottish Government has promised a fund worth £200 million to help Scotland’s growing elderly population. Health Secretary Shona Robison has promised a “landmark change” to the way people are looked after. (The Herald page 2)
School bureaucracy: Schools are being urged to draw an action plan to show how they would tackle classroom bureaucracy – a significant factor in levels of teacher stress. (The Herald page 5)
Speeding: Speed cameras across Scotland caught nine people doing more than 120mph during 2014. Transport Minister Derek MacKay has indicated that retraining courses for speeding drivers could be introduced in Scotland. (The Scotsman page 7, The Heraldpage 8, Scottish Daily Mail page 35, Press and Journal page 11, The Courier page 21)
Train travel: Scotrail has warned that commuter trains between Edinburgh and Glasgow may become so crowded this summer that people will be unable to board. (The Scotsmanpage 12)
Lothian Buses: Four directors at the taxpayer-owned company are at the centre of a row over free golf, dinners and entertainment from a key supplier as a deal worth more than £10 million for a fleet of new buses was concluded. (The Herald page 5)