News in Scotland - Friday

alistair-darling.jpg
Alistair Darling, campaign chief for Better Together faces a setback in his
defence of the Union as Westminster tax hikes forecast by IFS

 

Scottish News: News in Scotland - Friday

Scottish independence: Scots face huge tax whammy if they vote 'no' in referendum
The economic debate over Scottish independence has taken a dramatic turn after experts warned that the UK government will need to raise taxes by £9bn to plug a huge gap in Westminster finances after the next UK election. Chancellor Osborne's spending cuts will result in a massive gap in government finances causing taxation to rise by £9bn, warns the Institute for Fiscal Studies. With the 'no' campaign pressuring Yes Scotland to show that taxes will not go up in an independent Scotland, it appears that Scots families could face a tax whammy if they vote 'no'.

Lamont urges Salmond to bring forward independence blueprint

First Minister Alex Salmond was asked to bring forward his plans for an independent Scotland ahead of schedule by opposition Labour leader Johann Lamont. Immediately after the eyes of the world were on Mr Salmond's announcement that the Scottish independence referendum would be held on September 18, 2014, the first minister was urged to bring forward the date of publication of the government's white paper on independence which is due to be published in November. The debate over independence has so far been bogged down in party squabbles over the rules of the debate rather than the debate itself. Yesterday's Holyrood exchanges appear to show that that spirit of debate has yet to change.

 

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Improvements to be made in university access

Details released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) has shown that 26.6 percent of full-time undergraduates studying in Scotland in 2011-12 came from the poorest homes, compared with 30.7 percent across the UK as a whole. However, the figures do not take account of any progress made or additional places that will be created in 2013-14 to widen access. Education secretary Mike Russell said: “the best package of student support in the UK will come into force this year, ensuring students from the poorest families receive an income of at least £7,250 a year”. Scotland, unlike the rest of the UK, continues to provide free tuition fees to Scottish students attending university.

Wind farm plan scrapped

A wind farm which was planned for construction around Ben Wyvis in Ross-shire have been scrapped after no appeal was lodged against a decision by Highland Council to deny planning permission for the Clach Liath proposal. Campaigners who opposed the project will lobby the SNP conference this weekend to stop wind farms spreading across the Highland landscape.

Press regulation: McCluskey defends journalist prosecution

The former judge at the heart of a controversial report backing a system of statutory regulation for Scotland’s press, has defended his plan for tighter controls of the media. Lord McCluskey confirmed his proposal that Scotland’s press should be subjected to law – a move that could see journalists prosecuted for breaking the industry’s code of practice. But Mr Salmond has distanced himself from the proposal which he said was “not the view of the government or government ministers”. The proposed Scottish regime has come in for sharp criticism when it was published last week – with warnings that prosecuting journalists for breaking the code of practice would be “open to abuse” by governments.

INTERNATIONAL                                          

Falkland papers show many in Downing Street disagreed with Thatcher

Some of Margaret Thatcher's closest policy advisers voiced strong concerns that the Falklands Islands were not worth the fight, from the earliest days of the campaign, according to the latest release of files from the former Conservative prime minister's personal papers. The scepticism extended to the head of the Downing Street policy unit, Sir John Hoskyns, who voiced the fear of making "almighty fools of ourselves". This March, the Falkland islanders voted by 1,513 to three to retain their status as an overseas territory of the UK. The Argentinian president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, this week urged Pope Francis to intervene against the "militarisation of Great Britain in the South Atlantic".

Russia and Cyprus fail to reach deal for a bail out

Talks between Russian officials and the government of Cyprus broke up early today, with no agreement on a cash infusion that could have helped the tiny island to secure an EU bailout. Russian investors refused the plans proposed by the Cypriot finance minister during a trip to Moscow, according to state run news agency RIA Novosti - one proposal being for Russian investors to develop the country's natural gas reserves. Cyprus will now again have to find a way to recapitalise its insolvent banks with help from the 'troika' of the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund. The nation's banks at present are being kept afloat by emergency funding from the ECB, but that will end on Tuesday without a deal.

New Chinese leader visits Russia

In a signal that China and Russia are becoming closer allies in geopolitical affairs, the new leader of China Xi Jinping chose a visit President Vladimir Putin. Observers will interpret the visit as a sign that both nations are persuing a common goal in global political relations. Mr Putin has said that both countries are collaborating on a common objective “to shape a new, more just world order.”                                               

Guantanamo Bay a drain on the US taxpayer

Former Guantanamo prison official Ret. Col. Morris Davis has discussed with Russia Today how the once 'temporary' facility has become a money drain as repair and maintenance bills begin to pile up. As prison officials at Guantanamo Bay struggle to explain an inmate hunger strike - a new report has revealed that the US Southern Command has requested funding for construction of a new building, as well as for maintenance on the existing facility. Media outlets have speculated that the new project could cost American taxpayers around $200 mn. Ret. Col. Davis said: “there’s a lot of money being wasted at Guantanamo, and a lot of our prestige is going down the tubes as well. So there’s just no good reason to keep it going”.                                               

Italy sends marines facing murder charges back to India  Italy has moved to defuse a diplomatic dispute with India by agreeing to send back two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen last year. The two Italian marines are due to face trial in India over the allegations, but after the Indian Supreme Court allowed them to return to Italy last month to vote in national elections, Rome refused to send them back. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called Italy's actions "unacceptable" warning of "consequences" for the two countries' relations. Italy has argued that the February 2012 shooting involving its marines happened in international waters and was therefore outside of Indian jurisdiction. Latorre and Girone say they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

 

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published this page in News 2013-03-22 11:51:47 +0000