The Scottish government has been urged to rethink its position on currency
going into Scotland's independence referendum IMAGE: STOCKPIX.EU
Scottish News: Top Stories - Tuesday
Scottish independence: own currency a 'must', expert warns
The SNP must rethink and reverse its economic strategy in relation to currency before the referendum, warns Jim Cuthbert in a report commissioned by the Jimmy Reid Foundation. Mr Cuthbert's voice is added to the growing number of economists and international financiers who believe sterling could face a crisis of confidence in the near future. Cuthbert argues, according to The Herald, that by remaining in a currency union with England Scotland would be exposed to the "high likelihood of a potentially catastrophic crisis in the not-too-distant future". Concerns are also growing in Scotland's boardrooms that post-independence money printing by the Bank of England alongside leveraged buyouts could see Scotland's property assets and business equity migrate southwards causing irreparable damage over a period of decades. Early last year Scottish Times called for the Scottish government to consider a parallel currency system which was in place when the Euro was introduced for international transactions while member nations kept their own currency for domestic transactions. Without such controls England could export massive inflation to Scotland which it will be powerless to defend itself against.
Warning Taylor donation could alienate Better Together support
Better Together, the anti-independence campaign, faces being alienated by its own supporters after refusing to hand back a donation from Ian Taylor of Vitol, the global oil-trading firm. Reported in The Herald, director of the left-wing Jimmy Reid Foundation, Robin McAlpine argues that most Scots would want the 'no' to independence group to return the cash. Mr Taylor, has given the 'no' campaign £0.5m to help fund their referendum campaign however a series of articles published in the media have pointed to his background of alleged involvement in aggressive tax evasion and alleged controversial dealings with controversial regimes including giving $1mn to the convicted war criminal Arkan. Mr McAlpine reportedly said: "Better Together is developing a reputation for speaking on behalf of the business elite and its interests. Its refusal to even consider whether this donation sends the wrong message is not helping one bit." Chair of Better Together, Alistair Darling, who met Mr Taylor is refusing to return the donation or answer key questions about what he knew of the accusations levelled against Mr Taylor prior to accepting the donation.
More Scottish news:
- Better Together credibility battered after warnings of fresh UK downgrades
- Scottish independence: UK downgrade means promised 'recovery' is like Waiting for Godot
- Scots go hungry to maintain London’s global status
- Scottish government criticised over ‘coherence’ of education reforms
- Scottish independence: economy will be a success after independence, says expert group
Construction firms operating ‘blacklist’
Major construction firms which set up a "systematic blacklist" of workers appear to be continuing to avoid taking full responsibility for their actions, according to a report by MPs. The Scottish Affairs Committee said it was "appalled" to discover thousands of workers were put on the list – made illegal in 2009 - and added that in many cases people were included for raising legitimate concerns over health and safety issues. The MPs said some of the biggest names in construction as well as many smaller firms had been involved. The committee said: "The organisation set up to create, maintain and operate the blacklist, appears to have been largely established by Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd, which also provided TCA's chairmen for eight of its 16 years of operation. "Other major subscribers included Skanska and Balfour Beatty”.
Lord McCluskey to be quizzed by MSPs
Former High Court judge Lord McCluskey who produced a controversial report on press regulation in Scotland following the Leveson Inquiry is to be quizzed by MSPs. The committee of MSPs is looking at the implications the royal charter will have in Scotland which creates an independent press regulator in England and Wales. Following the publication of the Leveson Report last year, First Minister Alex Salmond asked Lord McCluskey to chair an expert group set up to recommend press regulation reforms in Scotland - concluding that a voluntary code was unlikely to work. Instead - opposition parties to a government controlled press have been told by Scotland's culture secretary Fiona Hyslop that it is only “appropriate to wait until the middle of April to bring the matter to parliament” in the form of debate.
Scottish independence: STUC urged to ‘finish the job it started’
The trade union movement will today be urged to finish the job it started by campaigning vigorously for Scottish independence. Yes Scotland advisory board chairman Dennis Canavan will say self-determination offers the best opportunity for trade unionists to work with the Scottish government to build a fairer Scotland. Mr Canavan will say that most powers are retained by “a UK Government which the people of Scotland did not elect. In an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government would always be elected by and accountable to the people of Scotland”. He will add: “In an independent Scotland, the Scottish Parliament would also have the power to legislate on Trade Union rights. This would enable the Scottish Government to work with the Trade Union Movement to build a more prosperous and a fairer Scotland”.
Big Ben to be silenced at Thatcher’s funeral
The bells of Big Ben and the Great Clock at Westminster are to be controversially silenced for Wednesday's funeral for Lady Thatcher, the Commons Speaker has announced - while increasing unease about the scale of the funeral spread across political parties. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of organising Thatcher's funeral has come under fire amid accusations that he is concealing the event's true costs by omitting the wage bills of police officers and service personnel for the large scale military operation. The Labour MP John Healey said: "This is a state funeral in all but name without the consent of the people. Churchill, who was the only PM over the past 100 years to have a state funeral, unified the country, while Margaret Thatcher divided it”. Fears remain that protesters will disrupt the procession on Wednesday – with highly questionable public order laws being enforced by the police to arrest anyone who causes 'distress'.
Boston bombings hit financial markets after gold plummets
A correction in the gold market has seen prices plummet in precious metals. The downwards pressure on gold comes from the futures market in which many analysts now believe to hold little or no physical gold behind the futures contracts which strongly influence the price. Gold is seen as a hedge against currency devaluation and its sell off would have the effect of supporting the perception of the dollar as a safe haven asset class. Meanwhile the Boston bombings have added to volatility in the currency markets. After 9/11 the dollar fell sharply against the euro. However with the euro in trouble, the fall in gold prices will mitigate against any loss in the dollars' confidence caused by the Boston incident.
Explosions kill three in Boston marathon
The overnight death toll after the Boston marathon bombing has risen to three this morning, also causing injuries to at least 140 other people, many of whom remain in critical condition. Early on Tuesday morning the Guardian witnessed FBI investigators entering and leaving a building in the Boston suburb of Revere, at one stage taking away a black plastic bag. The Associated Press said Massachusetts state police had confirmed that a search warrant related to the investigation into the explosions was served on Monday night but authorities provided no further details. Obama said he had spoken with the FBI director and the Department of Homeland Security, who were coordinating the federal response. He avoided using the word "terrorism" to describe the explosions but vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. But Boston police commissioner Ed Davis told reporters at a media briefing when asked whether the city was under a terrorist attack replied: "We're not being definitive about this right now, but you can reach your own conclusions based on what happened”.
Organised crime has the ability to ‘destabilise societies around the globe’
Organised crime groups dealing in fake goods, drugs, human trafficking and illicit wildlife trade earn nearly $90bn annually in East Asia and the Pacific, a UN report showed on Tuesday. It estimates that the top money-makers for crime groups are the trade in counterfeit goods ($24.4bn), illegal wood products ($17bn), heroin ($16.3bn) and methamphetamines ($15bn). Migrant smuggling and the trafficking of females for prostitution or general labour also earn crime bosses hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said the threat from organised crime is now so great that it has the ability to "destabilise societies around the globe" – adding: "We need to talk about this, and organise a coordinated response now. It takes a network to defeat a network".
Serial blasts in Iraq days before its first elections since US withdrawal
A wave of bombings across Iraq have killed at least 33 people and wounded more than 160 others, officials said, just days before the country's first elections since US troops withdrew. Most of the deadly attacks on Monday morning reported by police officials were bombings, killing several people in major cities. Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Baghdad, Waleed Ibrahim, said both Shia and Sunni neighbourhoods were targeted in the spate of attacks to hit the city. The credibility of the April 20 vote has now been drawn into question as 14 election hopefuls have been murdered and just 12 of the country's 18 provinces will be taking part. Although security has improved since the height of Iraq's confessional conflict in 2006-2007, 271 people were killed in March, making it the deadliest month since August, according to AFP figures.
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