Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 22 May 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.


Security: Concerns have been raised over SNP MPs’ involvement in Westminster committees that oversee the UK’s intelligence and security services due to the party’s anti-Trident stance. The cross party Intelligence and Security Committee is nominated by the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition. A senior SNP source is reported to have said, ‘We will be looking to be on absolutely everything. Where the Liberal Democrats were, we will seek to be.’ (The Herald page 1)


Trident: The SNP have secured a debate at Westminster on the future of Trident after a whistleblower leaked allegations of safety lapses in the nuclear deterrent system last week. Nicola Sturgeon has also called for an inquiry into the allegations.  (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 6, Press and Journal page 11, The Scottish Daily Mail page 8)


Rail strike: A national strike across the UK’s rail services organised for Monday and Tuesday 25-26th May, which would have affected around 90% of ScotRail’s scheduled journeys, has been called off. (The Herald page 3, The Scotsman page 8, The Scottish Sun page 2, Press and Journal page 1)


EU referendum: Alex Salmond has hinted he would be willing to work with George Osborne as part of the campaign to keep Britain in the EU before a planned referendum in 2017, after his appointment as the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman at Westminster. (Daily Express page 5, The Courier page 16, The Scottish Daily Mail page 8)


Labour split: Liz Kendall, a candidate for the leadership of the Labour Party, has warned that the creation of a separate Labour party in Scotland is not the answer to the recent surge in SNP support. Her remarks follow suggestions that her main rival in the competition, Andy Burnham, would support such a move along with other high-ranking Labour officials. Alex Rowley, a Scottish Labour MSP, has urged his party to abandon ‘attack-style politics’ and ‘become the party of Home Rule’ if it is to survive in Scotland.  (The Herald page 6, The Daily Record page 7, The National page 4, The Courier page 16)


Devolution: The convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Devolution Committee, SNP MSP Bruce Crawford, has called on the Conservative Government to ensure that the new Scotland Bill is ‘fit for purpose’ before its introduction to the Commons next Thursday, urging  further strengthening of the Smith Commission’s recommendations, particularly regarding welfare powers. (The Herald page 6, The Daily Record page 7, The Times page 14, The Courier page 14)


SNP MPs: The longest-serving MP in the House of Commons, Sir Gerald Kaufman, has branded the new cohort of SNP MPs at Westminster ‘goons’ playing ‘infantile games’ in the chamber, over their row with Labour over seating arrangements. (The Scotsman page 5, The Times page 2, The Scottish Daily Mail page 8)


Jenny Hjul in The Herald (page 13) has commented on how the new cohort of SNP MPs will be able to influence government at Westminster.


Holyrood reform: Michael Russell MSP gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee calling for elected convenors of the parliament’s committees since there were not enough MSPs to carry out sufficient oversight. (The National page 7)


Assisted suicide: The bill on assisted suicide due for deliberation in the Scottish Parliament next Wednesday has been met by a 15,300-signature petition in opposition. (The Herald page 6, Daily Express page 4, Press and Journal page 16)


Church of Scotland: The General Assembly has voted to delay a final ruling over its decision to allow gay-marriage among clergy members, sending the contentious issue back to deliberation among the presbyteries. (The Herald page 8, The Scotsman page 10, The Times page 2, Press and Journal page 14, The Courier page 17,The Scottish Daily Mail page 9)


Voting age: The Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, has confirmed that 16 and 17 year olds will be able to vote in next year’s Holyrood election. (The Daily Record page 6)


IVF: A group of MSPs have urged a change in the rules on IVF which would allow more childless couples to start a family, by granting an extra third cycle of the treatment. (Daily Express page 4, Scottish Daily Mail page 6)


Kezia Dugdale: Kenny Farquharson in The Times (page 27) has commented that Scottish Labour’s defeat must not lead to a quick, ill-thought through election of a new leader, suggesting that if the party’s deputy leader, Kezia Dugdale MSP, was elected, she must be allowed time to grow into the role.


BAE: The defence giant BAE has invested £100m in its Clyde shipyards, saving its Govan site from closure. A previous £200m had been considered in favour of building a ‘frigate factory’ at Scotstoun, but the company has decided on a more ‘cost-effective’ move that ensures both sites will remain open. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 1, The Scottish Sun page 2, The Daily Record page 18, The Times page 1, The Courier page 18, The Scottish Daily Mail page 19)


Stamp Duty: Receipts from stamp duty in Scotland have more than halved since the Scottish government’s decision to change property taxation in April 2014, as buyers of more expensive homes hurried through sales before the changes were implemented. (Financial Times page 4)


Primary School Testing: The teaching union, EIS, has voiced concerns that the re-introduction of national testing in Scotland would amount to a ‘betrayal’ of the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence. The First Minister yesterday refused to rule out such a move after recent studies showed a drop in primary-level education standards in Scotland, which would see testing return after its abolition under Labour in 2003. (The Herald page 1, The Scotsman page 6, Daily Express page 2, The Times page 14, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Courier page 1, The Scottish Daily Mail page 6)


Andrew Denholm in The Herald (page 13) has commented on the Scottish Government’s Curriculum for Excellence amid the recent debate onprimary-level education standards.


Student debt: The SNP was accused of failing young Scots during First Minister’s Questions yesterday, by allowing student loan debt to double since they took office 8 years ago. (The Daily Record page 7)


Cancer treatment: A group of more than 80 leading medical professionals have warned that cancer patients in Glasgow could be negatively affected after a shake-up in the health system, due to the creation of the new South Glasgow General Hospital in the city. (The Herald page 2, Daily Telegraph page 1, The Scottish Daily Mail page 28)


Local Government
Edinburgh Festival: City of Edinburgh Council have planned a ‘bed tax’ across the city’s hotels in order to plug a funding gap of a predicted £10m in the festival’s finances. (The Herald page 4)


Aberdeen housing: Aberdeen councillors are considering proposals to curb the number of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), which would limit the amount of transient students who are resident in Old Aberdeen amid fears that local residents are being squeezed out. (Press and Journal page 3)


Tobacco industry: The tobacco giant Philip Morris is to launch the biggest corporate compensation case in history against the Scottish and UK governments’ decision to impose plain packaging on cigarette packages, seeking between £9-11bn. (The Scotsman page 1)


Stop-and-search: Figures obtained by The Scotsman reportedly show that Police Scotland undertook over 15,000 stop-and-searches between April 2013 and October 2014, before the decision to scrap the practice was taken. (The Scotsman page 12)