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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 24 April 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 ScotlandSTV news and Sky News.

Politics

Nicola Sturgeon: The SNP leader has admitted that she is ready to divide opinion within the Labour Party as part of a post-election agreement with MPs from her own party, which would aim to establish a ‘progressive alliance’ at Westminster. In an exclusive interview with The Herald, Ms Sturgeon also revealed that it was not her intention to pitch the SNP campaign for the 2016 Holyrood elections on a pledge to hold a second independence referendum. (Herald pages 1 and 8, Scottish Daily Mail page 6, The Courier page 1)

SNP candidate: Labour has called for the resignation of Neil Hay, an SNP general election candidate standing in Edinburgh South, who has reportedly used Twitter to post offensive messages about unionist voters as ‘quislings’.  (Herald page 7, Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 6, The Times page 8, The National page 4, Daily Express page 5, Daily Record page 10, The Scottish Sun page 10, Press and Journal page 12, Scottish Daily Mail page 1, The Courier page 14)

Conservative Party: David Cameron has launched the first ‘Tory manifesto for England’ which aims to establish the programme of ‘English Votes for English Laws’ within the first 100 days of a new Conservative government after May 7th. The manifesto also gave a clear commitment to create 60 per cent of new jobs outside London and the South East. Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy accused Mr Cameron of a ‘crude, nasty bid’ to boost Scottish nationalism. Business leaders have expressed concerns that Mr Cameron is heading ‘too-negative’ a campaign, focusing on the SNP, rather than emphasising the economic successes of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition (Herald page 7, Scotsman pages 9 and 11, Financial Times pages 1 and 2, Daily Express page 5, Press and Journal page 12, Guardian page 1)

IFS: The Institute for Fiscal Studies has released an in-depth study of the economic proposals put forward in the various parties’ election manifestos. In particular, the SNP has been accused of ‘anti-austerity posturing’ as the think tank calculated the Scottish public would see a longer period of austerity than suggested by the party, leading to potentially greater cuts than those proposed by Labour. (Herald page 7, Scotsman page 11, Telegraph page 1, The Times page 1, The Financial Times page 3, The National page 3, Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 8, The Scottish Sun page 8, Guardian page 6, Scottish Daily Mail page 6, The Courier page 13)

Gordon Brown: The former PM has accused the Conservatives of ‘whipping up anti-Scottish feeling’ and becoming the ‘party of English nationalism’ by attacking the SNP in a crude bid to win votes. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 10)

Oil prices: The Labour Party has accused the SNP of keeping the Scottish public in the dark over recently-declining oil prices, after it emerged that updated forecasts for North Sea oil tax revenue will not be published until after the General Election. (Herald page 6)

Party donations: Labour received £1 million in party donations, more than twice the amount given to the Conservatives during the second week of the election campaign. The Lib Dems were given £50,000 and UKIP £8,000. (Scotsman page 11, The Courier page 15)

Unite: The Scottish division of the UK’s largest trade union, Unite, has called for more autonomy for Scotland, raising doubts about the group’s traditional alliance with the Scottish Labour Party, whose leader has recently criticised SNP’s plans for full fiscal responsibility. (The National page 4, Scottish Daily Mail page 7)

Anti-Sectarianism: The shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran has written an open letter to football fans, calling for the Scottish government’s Offensive Behaviour at Football Act to be scrapped as it had failed to reduce intolerance and bigotry within Scottish football. (Scotsman page 6)

Election Scenarios: Alison Rowat has commented in The Herald (page 13) on several scenarios in which the SNP agree a post-election deal with Labour, including one which could see the prospect of independence for Scotland scuppered.

Kenny Farquharson in The Scotsman (page 26) has written that a post-election deal between the SNP and Labour Party could change the Nationalists and make a second referendum less likely.

Alan Cochrane in The Telegraph (page 7) has commented that Scotland could be facing ‘one-party rule’ after the General Election, calling on the other parties to reverse the current tide in favour of the SNP in the polls.

Kevin McKenna has written in The Times (page 8) that Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy faces an uphill struggle in trying to win votes for his party in Glasgow, citing a recent ‘cultural shift’ in the city.

Economy

House prices: House prices in the UK’s largest regional cities, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, have risen at a faster rate than those in London for the first time in a decade, according to a new survey by Hometrack. In March 20115, Glasgow saw a 7.6 per cent year-on-year rise of an average house costing £111,700, while only 3 to 6 per cent rises were recorded for London’s central boroughs. (Herald page 2, The Courier page 21)

Pensions: Pensions across the UK have fallen to an all-time low according to government records, due to recent low-interest rates. The figures come two weeks after government rule changes which allow the retired to spend their pensions as they please. Last year the average annual income payable from a standard annuity fell by 5.7 per cent, and have worsened by a further 6.4 per cent drop since January 2015 alone. (Herald page 1)

North Sea oil: Trap Oil, one of the largest firms operating within the North Sea oil industry, has suggested it is ‘highly likely’ to run out of cash reserves within three months as a result of the recent decline in oil prices. It alerted a loss of £380,000 per month, and wider yearly losses of £44.4 million. Sir Ian Wood has called for further tax breaks from the UK and Scottish governments, praising George Osborne’s aid to the ailing industry in his most recent budget. (Scotsman page 12)

Justice

Child sex abuse: Police Scotland has launched a major project working with NHS Scotland, local councils and charities in order to tackle the problem of child sex exploitation in public institutions, following last year’s revelations of a large child sex ring operating in Rotherham. (Herald page 4)

Corroboration: The First Minister has defended the Scottish Governmant’s handling of the issue of corroboration after it has come under attack in recent weeks, with Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson labelling the Government’s handling of the issue as ‘one of the most shameful episodes in the Parliament’s history’. (Herald page 9, Daily Record page 12, Press and Journal page 17)

Education

Scots language: Education Scotland has urged enhanced provision for Scots language tuition in schools as part of improving literacy skills, engagement with culture and reversing negative perceptions of the language amongst the public. An official survey has shown that nearly two-thirds of the Scottish public do not believe that Scots is a real language. (Herald page 1)

EU students: Glasgow University has issued a warning to the Scottish government that a rise in the numbers of EU citizens studying at Scottish universities could lead to a decline in the number of Scottish students. (Herald page 5)

Colleges: The Educational Institute of Scotland teaching union has raised concerns that up to £100 million being held in reserves by Scottish colleges could be used to improve student support and teaching quality, on the grounds that the reserves are being held as public money. (Herald page 10, Scotsman page 16)