News in Scotland Monday
Former Chancellor Alastair Darling has been accused of trying to
influence the Electoral Commission over the wording of Scotland’s
Scottish independence: Review of Scottish referendum question begins
The UK Electoral Commission has begun proceedings into assessing the Scottish government’s question regarding the independence referendum. Ministers have stated that the inquiry will be of the ‘highest international standards’. This follows a request from Alex Salmond as to the coherence, clarity and simplicity of the question prior to the poll. The review, lasting twelve weeks, spearheaded by John McCormick, the Scottish commissioner on the UK electoral watchdog stated that it will “assess the referendum question to see whether voters find it clear, simple and neutral. If it isn’t, we’ll say what needs to be done”.
Scottish independence: SNP accuse Darling of attempt to influence Electoral Commission
The SNP have claimed that former Chancellor, Alistair Darling is attempting to influence the deliberations of the Electoral Commission on Scotland’s referendum question branding his conduct as “utterly shameless”. The Labour politician has been quoted as describing the question as “skewed” and “another attempt to rig the question” in a broadside that is clearly intended to influence the Electoral Commission’s process.
- Referendum question to be tested
- UK Crisis: Scots suffer from declining British economy
- Second referendum on EU needed
- Westminster released false figures to ‘distort’ Scottish economy
- Scottish independence: Nationalist split emerges over EU policy
Scottish independence: Moore confident of more devolution but short on specifics
Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has claimed that he is “confident” that the Scottish parliament will have more powers repatriated to it following a ‘no’ vote in the 2014 referendum. Nationalists have indicated scepticism pointing to similar promises made before the 1979 referendum which were not followed through with.
Crisis hit BBC should review cuts to Scottish budget, says SNP
BBC Scotland must introduce a moratorium on job cuts given the on-going crisis affecting the Corporation, the SNP has said. On the day that the director and deputy director of news stepped aside pending the outcome of an internal review – which follows the resignation of Director General George Entwhistle, who is set to receive a £450,000 pay-off – the SNP has called for a review of the cutbacks to front-line posts at BBC Scotland.
Albright comments on Scottish referendum
The US’s former most senior foreign affairs official, Madeleine Albright, has commented on the Scottish independence referendum. The former US Secretary of State who was in tenure during the Kosovo war for independence and whose policy was widely viewed as militarily hawkish said: “I find it hard to get involved in Scottish politics but I think one always has to be careful… In this day and age we have to all try to figure out how to work together, not so much separately.”
Bank of England policy fails as Scottish economy stagnates
According to a Bank of Scotland report Scotland has seen virtually no growth whilst manufacturing jobs have disappeared. The report is further evidence that the policy of low interest rates and quantitative easing by the Bank of England (BoE) may have been counter-productive for Scots. The report’s findings pointed to the increased business overheads caused by rising price of energy, fuel and food in October. Price inflation is an indicator that the BoE’s QE or money creation policy is failing businesses outside London.
High speed rail link plans between Edinburgh and Glasgow unveiled
Nicola Sturgeon today unveiled plans of a high speed rail service between Edinburgh and Glasgow which is to cut journey times by half. The SNP wish to have the project completed within twelve years; a decade prior to the estimated completion of high speed rail links north of London. This comes after her calls for the entire country to be included within the HS2 plans from the outset. Instead the deputy first minister stated that “we will not wait for Westminster to bring high speed rail to us” when such a service would “benefit our businesses, our jobs market and also our tourism industry. And it will put us up there with the world’s greatest transport networks”. The two day conference continues in Glasgow this week.
McLeish and Souness Jordan’s credentials for Scotland post update
Former Scotland legends Alex McLeish and Graham Souness have come forward in support of Joe Jordan to fill the role of Scotland Manager. Although Gordon Strachan has been the favourite to take over from Craig Levein, there have been calls to consider Jordan for the role. As a former player with AC Milan and Manchester United, and Harry Redknapp’s number two at Tottenham and Portsmouth; McLeish believes Jordan would have no problem filling such an international role. Although agreeing that Strachan would also be a good choice for the job, McLeish has come out in favour of Jordan, stating that “he is tactically tremendous because of working with Harry all these years and with the different systems they have played. I don’t think Joe would be caught short in terms of tactical nous at that level.”
Smith returns to Ibrox as board member
Walter Smith returns to Rangers for a third time in his career after accepting a position as a non-executive director alongside businessman Ian Hart. Stating that he has no aims to involve himself in the football operation of the club, he instead wishes to focus on the “rebuilding of Rangers after a very difficult period in the club’s history”. Such appointments come at a significant time, representing a show of support and commitment to the current owners ahead of the launch of a share issue. Showcasings with potential institutional investors will begin this week, before fans are invited to buy stakes in the club.
UK and WORLD
CBI boss calls for corrupt bankers to be protected
CBI Director General, John Cridland, will today call for the government to legislate to protect banks from lawsuits related the sale of libor-related products. In spite of allegations that libor rates were manipulated by banks Mr Cridland is expected to say that businesses who were sold libor-related products should lose the right to raise legal action against the banks.
Newsnight crisis spreads as more executives step down
The BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden has stepped down from her post along with her deputy, Stephen Mitchell, it has been reported. The resignations come in advance of a report in relation to the Newsnight programme which wrongly implicated Lord McAlpine in a pedophile scandal. The new developments follow the resignation of the BBC’s director general George Entwistle over the weekend.
BBC attacked for Entwistle payout
The BBC crisis has deepened after it was disclosed that former Director General George Entwistle received a payment of £450, 000 after resigning from his post following the controversial Newsnight sex abuse allegations.
Israel bombs Gaza
Israeli airstrikes are targeting tunnels near the city of Rafah as Palestinian fighters retaliate with rocket fire into southern Israel. The Israeli military undertook a series of air strikes, claiming to have targeted “a terror tunnel and a weapons facility” in the north and a rocket-launching site in the south.
Britain could intervene in Syria within months, says top UK general
The UK’s most senior general has stated in an interview for the BBC that Britain could intervene in a ‘very limited’ capacity due to the threat of a worsening humanitarian crisis within Syria. The statement from Chief of Defence Staff General Sir David Richards is a serious warning that Britain is preparing for military involvement in Syria. It would suggest that British policy has now shifted from attempting to support and organize the disparate rebel groups to instead considering military intervention. This follows comments by Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond, who also confirmed that the UK had not ruled out military action; but was still focused on overcoming objections from both Russia and China to get a strong UN Security Council resolution condemning the Bashar al-Assad government. Russia has previously warned that any military intervention from the West would not go unanswered.
Israeli army fires at Syria
The Israeli army has fired what they describe as “warning shots” into Syria after a shell from inside Syria landed inside an army post in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Recently Western-backed rebels were reported to have been firing mortars into neighbouring countries in order to pull other nations into the conflict.
Syria opposition forms coalition
Syria’s leading opposition group has formed a new inclusive coalition in attempts to unify opposition against President Assad. The meeting which took place on Saturday was shrouded in unrest as two reported suicide car bombs exploded killing dozens of soldiers within Daraa – the birthplace of the uprising which began in March 2011. Reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights indicate dozens of fatalities on both sides. The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was unveiled in Doha on Sunday.
Its president will be Moaz al-Khatib, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Meanwhile, Syrian government aircraft bombed the rebel-held town of Ras al-Ain, near the Turkish border. Observers and activists estimate that now more than 36,000 people have been killed in the conflict.
Syria jet bombs near Turkish border
Israel continues firing into Syria for a second day in response to mortar fire landing in Israeli controlled Golan Heights. Although there were no injuries, this has called into question the Israeli involvement in conflict with its northern neighbour. Despite beliefs the mortar fire has hit unintentional targets, Israel has stated that it will continue to retaliate if such attacks persist.
Syria opposition coalition selects new leader
A new government in exile has been elected in Syria strengthening the opposition to the Syrian government and president Assad. The newly elected reformist Damascus religious leader, Mouaz al-Khatib has been unanimously elected as its president. Jailed several times for criticising the current system under Assad, and who subsequently fled into exile, Khatib has called for all soldiers to quit the Syrian army and for all sects to unite. Such a coalition has created hopes in its Western and Arab backers that the Syrian government can be toppled, leaving place for this newly formed government to take over.
Syria’s Assad warns of Apocalyptic war
President Bashar Assad has warned of apocalyptic consequences should there be any foreign intervention in Syria. Directed specifically at the West, and other regional states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Assad has stated that he does “not think the West is going [to intervene], but if they do so, nobody can tell what is next. I think the price of this [foreign] invasion if it happened is going to be more than the whole world can afford”.
China may not recognise Syrian opposition coalition
Syrian opposition factions united after pressure from Western donors may not have their coalition recognised by China. Both China and Russia appear concerned over Western interference in the conflict and have blocked US-led UN resolutions aimed at forcing President Assad to resign.
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