WHILE LAST WEEK’S political focus in Scotland was split between the arguments on whether or not to raise taxes and what might replace the Barnett Formula, there can be no mistaking that the bigger game was being played out in capitals across Europe over the Prime Minister’s negotiation on European Union reform.
Nicola Sturgeon on threat to welfare state: Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined her view that the UK government poses “the biggest threat” to the welfare state.In a key note speech she claimed that the best protection against cuts would be independence. (The Scotsman page 1, Stephen Osborne in The Scotsman, The Herald page 6, The Press and Journalpage 19, The Times page 3)
Alex Salmond and Rupert Murdoch: First Minister Alex Salmond was accused last night of negotiating a private deal with Rupert Murdoch. Mr Murdoch allegedly agreed to base his media empire in Scotland and campaign for independence or “devo- max” in return for corporation tax being cut from 26% to 10%. Opposition MSPs have criticised Mr Salmond over the talks. (The Daily Record page 2)
Referendum Plans: Matt Qvortrup in The Scotsman examines the legal status of the referendum.
Economic predictions: Scotland’s chief economist has warned that the country’s economy will remain flat throughout the first half of this year. Dr Gary Gillespie stated that public finances face an austerity chill of almost twenty years before spending will return to its pre-recession high. His report did however say that there was “no risk” of a double-dip recession in Scotland. The report has prompted Finance Secretary John Swinney to call for more to be done to stimulate economic growth (The Scotsman page 2, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Peter Jones in The Scotsman, The Herald page 6, The Times page 14, The Daily Mail page 10)
Launch of microfinance bank: Economist Professor Muhammad Yunus has unveiled plans for the launch of an arm of Gramenn Bank in Glasgow. The Nobel Prize winner’s organisation was originally set up to help impoverished communities in Bangladesh and will offer unsecured loans for social business development and community- orientated financial advice. This will be the first arm of the bank to be opened in Europe. (The Scotsman page 8, Muhammad Yunus in The Scotsman)
Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS has come under fire after an announcement that it is to reduce back office jobs in Britain and transfer the work to India. Unions fear that this could mark the beginning of further job cuts. (The Herald page 1, The Times page 14, The Guardian page 25, The Daily Mail page 8)
Renewable Energy: A new government report has claimed that Scotland’s electricity will come solely from renewable sources by 2020. The Electricity Generation Policy Statement (EGPS) states that electricity bills would be nearly £100 cheaper a year if the SNP’s renewable energy targets were met. However, Sir Donald Miller, chair of the South of Scotland Electricity Board and ScottishPower, has stated that energy costs will rise if the desired increase in renewable energy is reached. (The Scotsman page 12, The Heraldpage 1, The Daily Mail page 6, The Courier page 35, The Press and Journal page 12)
Rangers: Players and administrators have failed to reach an agreement over possible redundancies and wage reductions. Discussions are due to recommence today after the administrators Duff and Phelps consider a final proposal from the players overnight. (The Scotsman page 1, The Times page 1, The Sun page 1, The Courier page 3)
Aberdeen City Garden Project: A target deadline for the completion of the plans for the proposed Aberdeen Union Terrace Garden project has been set as the project management board outlined its aim to finalise the design plans by autumn this year. (The Scotsman