Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 24 August 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.
Council tax: Reform Scotland has called for Scottish councils to be given greater control over local taxation making councils less dependent on central government grants (Herald page 1).
Independence referendum: Former first minister Alex Salmond has criticised the BBC’s coverage of the Scottish independence referendum. Meanwhile, senior SNP sources have warned of the negative impacts of holding a second Scottish independence referendum before 2020 (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Record page 9, National page 3, Telegraph page 4, Times page 11).
Liberal Democrats: In an attempt to address gender imbalance within the party, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has set up a working group to increase representation of Liberal Democrat women and will consider women-only shortlists for parliamentary selections (Scotsman page 6, Record page 2, National pages 2-3).
Climate change: A new report by the Low Carbon Infrastructure taskforce has called for a national infrastructure plan to achieve the greenhouse emission targets, which the Scottish Government has been failing to meet in the past four years (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 4).
Labour Scotland: Kezia Dugdale has argued for a closer relationship between Labour and the Scottish business community with the aim of reducing inequality in Scotland. Ms Dugdale has also pledged to support new Labour supporters to become MSPs (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 2, Sunday Times page 10, Express page 2, Times page 8).
Benefit cuts: SNP MSP Dennis Robertson has criticised the recent social security cuts by the UK government after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) issued guidelines for their front-line staff to deal with unsuccessful applicants who threaten to self-harm. Meanwhile, DWP Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is to reassess sickness benefit to encourage claimants to go back to work. Stephen Naysmith comments on the DWP and the benefit sanctions scheme (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 6, Scottish Sun page 2, Stephen Naysmith in the Herald, Times pages 1-2).
Left-wing alliance: Lesley Riddoch in the Scotsman comments on the possibilities of the new Scottish left-wing political party, Rise.
SNP: David Torrance in the Herald warns of the risks of the SNP resembling New Labour.
Police Scotland: A new team of academics has been set up under the Scottish Institute for Policing Research (SIPR) to investigate the effectiveness of Scotland’s single police force. Some MSPs have questioned the secrecy of recent reports on Police Scotland (Herald page 5, Express page 2, Sun page 2, National page 6, Telegraph page 8, Times page 5).
EU referendum: Some of the Conservative party’s biggest donors, together with at least eight Cabinet ministers, are believed to be willing to campaign to leave the EU in the run-up to the referendum (Express page 2).
Labour leadership: Amidst increasing pressure, Jeremy Corbyn has rejected the idea of a split within the party following his potential victory; this happened as Alan Johnson ruled out the creation of a breakaway party if Mr Corbyn won the leadership. Mr Corbyn has also criticised NATO and the impact of big banks on inequality, considering the possibility of renationalising the Royal Bank of Scotland together with other assets. Lastly, he recently revealed a new plan to increase the number of Labour MPs from ordinary backgrounds. Former Scottish Labour leader Lord McConnell has warned about the possible problems with the voting process for the Labour leadership contest (Sunday Times page 10, FT pages 1-3, Record page 9, Times page 8).
T in the Park: The revealing of a meeting held between a second SNP minister and the festival promoters has widened the cronyism row over the music festival (Herald page 2).
Older women: The Scottish Commission on Older Women has launched a report raising concerns about the challenges that women over the age of 50 are encountering in the labour market (Herald page 7).
Oil revenue fall: The amount received in tax receipts from the exploitation of North Sea oil has slumped in the first quarter of 2015. Following this decrease, leading trade unionist Jake Molloy has called on the Scottish Government for more openness and transparency in the calculation of oil production. Scotland’s finance secretary John Swinney has remained positive and has predicted a production increase this year (Record page 2, National pages 2-3, Times page 4).
Happiness therapy: Researchers from Edinburgh Napier University are carrying out a feasibility study on the applicability of Behavioural Couples Therapy in the NHS, with the aim of improving the health and happiness of children in the UK (Herald page 9).
Alcohol consumption: Following a 5% rise in alcohol-related deaths last year, the SNP is pressing Westminster for the devolution of weights and measures policy to implement tighter regulations on alcohol selling (Sunday Times page 1).
Primary school testing: Glasgow City Council’s executive member for education Stephen Curran has called for consultation with parents and teaching unions over the introduction of standardised assessments of Scottish primary school pupils (Herald page 4).
Global education surveys: The decision of the Scottish Government to pull Scotland’s school system out of international surveys has been contested by leading Scottish educationalists at Edinburgh University and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (Sunday Times page 7).
Festival tax: A new tax-raising system has been proposed by Edinburgh City Council’s culture leader to maintain the funding levels of the city’s festival (Scotsman page 8).
Taxi licences: A new requirement to submit a medical report may be implemented for taxi licence applications in the north of Scotland (Scotsman page 11).
Shorter trains: Commuters have complained about the few carriages being laid on by ScotRail between Glasgow and Edinburgh in the morning on weekdays (Herald page 1).