Reform Scotland News: 22 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 Scotland, STV news and Sky News.


John Major: Labour leader Ed Milliband yesterday accused David Cameron of trying to “set one part of the United Kingdom against another” as the SNP continued to be the main focus of the election campaign. Ed Milliband warned that reaction to John Major’s speech could lead to a breakup of the UK. Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon branded John Major’s announcement “silly and undemocratic”. (The Scotsman page 1, The Heraldpage 1, The National page 2, Daily Record page 8, The Sun page 11, Scottish Daily Mail page 8, Press and Journal page 10, The Courier page 16)


Ian Bell in The Herald asks why anyone should take John Major seriously regarding his views on the SNP, considering he has got things “so wrong about the past, what price is his view of the future?”


Scotish Lib Dems: Allan Massie in The Scotsman suggests that the Liberal Democrats deserve to do better in Scotland than the polls suggest they will.


Home Rule: Independent research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that implementing Nicola Sturgeon’s plans for fiscal autonomy would result in a £9.7 billion black hole in Scotland’s finances in 2019-20. Nicola Sturgeon dismissed these findings saying they are “not relevant”. (The Scotsman page 7, The Heraldpage 6, The National page 3, The Times page 8, The Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 2, Scottish Daily Express page 2, Daily Record page 8, The Sun page 10, Scottish Daily Mail page 10, The Courier page 16)


SNP English votes: Alex Salmond, last night defended the SNP decision to vote on English policy in Westminster noting that it was SNP MPs in the past who challenged Tony Blair’s “Nick Clegg moment” by voting against top-up fees for English students. (The Scotsman page 7, The Herald page 1)


SNP minimum wage: Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to increase the minimum wage to £8.70 by 2020, a move that will make approximately 250,000 Scots up to £4,000 a year better off. (The National page 4)


SNP manifesto: Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh in The National suggests that the continued rise of the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon suggest that English voters also want to end austerity.


Jim Murphy: Jim Murphy has taken to the streets of Glasgow to campaign. (The National page 4, Scottish Daily Mail page 9)


Second referendum: Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has stated that the SNP’s refusal to rule out a second independence referendum before 2020 risks harming the Scottish economy as he urged people to “vote intelligently” to keep out the SNP. The Lib Dems have warned that the SNP would take the UK apart “with a screwdriver”. (The Herald page 7, Scottish Daily Express page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 8, The Courier page 17)


Labour/SNP coalition: Alistair Darling has entered the election campaign to warn Ed Milliband against making any deal with the SNP. However, the warning came as Nicola Sturgeon set out a clear deal to Ed Milliband that the SNP would support a Labour government as long as they did not become “Tory-lite”. (The Times page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Telegraph page 1, Scottish Daily Mail page 9)


Mediterranean tragedies: A letter drafted by SNP MEP Alyn Smith and signed by 24 figures from the church and across the charity sector, has condemned the deaths of thousands of migrant workers crossing the Mediterranean. (The National page 8)


Tactical voting: Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former Conservative foreign secretary, and former Conservative chairman Lord Tebbit, have urged Tory voters in Scotland to consider voting Labour in order to keep out the SNP. (The Times page 1, The Telegraph page 4, The Guardian page 9)


Alex Massie in The Times suggests that tactical voting against the SNP will not work as party loyalties are too strong and the numbers do not add up.


Drug possession: The Liberal Democrats have unveiled plans to decriminalise the possession of drugs in their Scottish manifesto. They claim that many of the 80,000 Scots left with a criminal record for the possession of drugs have mental health issues. (The Scotsman page 6, The National page 4, Press and Journalpage 11)


SNP mortgage interest rates: Mortgage interest rates could rise in the case of a Labour coalition propped up by the SNP, according to Morgan Stanley who noted that this arrangement would lead to a great deal of uncertainty. (Scottish Daily Mail page 1)


Foodbanks: More than 100,000 Scots have used foodbanks over the last year including 36,114 children. Figures were revealed by the Trussell Trust that showed the number of people relying on foodbanks at some point in the last year exceeded one million for the first time. (The Herald page 7, The Scotsman page 12, The National page 9, Daily Record page 4)



Scrapping Corroboration set aside: Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, who had expressed his intention to scrap the centuries-old system of corroboration within Scottish Justice, has recognised that a consensus on its removal could not be reached. Any changes to the system that requires two independent pieces of evidence for a case to come to court will “take time to consider fully”. (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 1, The National page 6, The Times page 1, The Telegraph page 1, Scottish Daily Express page 1, Daily Record page 2, Scottish Daily Mail page 4)


Scottish prisons: Scotland is continuing to jail too many offenders rather than providing more adequate social care, according to David Strang, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland. He stated that prisons were being used as a “welfare support system”. (The Scotsman page 5)


IRA song: Lord Carloway, the Lord Justice Clark, has said that the singing of the pro-IRA song Roll of Honour by a significant group of football fans would be regarded as both threatening and offensive. (The Herald page 2)



Free homes for teachers: Teachers in Moray are being offered rent-free accommodation in an attempt by Moray Council to deal with a staffing shortage. It currently has more than 70 vacancies in its 53 primary and secondary schools. (The Scotsman page 16, The Herald page 9, Scottish Daily Express page 11)



GP recruitment shortage: Scotland is facing a shortfall of 900 GPs over the next five years as new figures show an increasing recruitment crisis. (The Scotsman page 9, The Herald page 9, Daily Record page 5)


Breast cancer tests: Fewer women are taking advantage of breast cancer screenings year on year, according to figures published by the NHS’s Information Services Division. James Jopling, director for Scotland at Breast Cancer Campaign said the decline was “a concern” but that reasons for it remain unclear. (The Scotsman page 9)

Lyme disease: Scientists and Glasgow University have found that the grey squirrel may be capable of passing on Lyme disease to humans. (The Herald page 3, The National page 9, Press and Journal page 21)


Elderly care: Spending on free care for the elderly continues to increase at a rate higher than inflation with the total in Scotland now at just under £500 million per year. (The National page 13)