06 Nov News in Scotland Tuesday
Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May claims Scots may be denied
dual citizenship if they vote for independence
Scottish News: News in Scotland – Tuesday
Fears spread by Westminster over post-independence security threat
UK Home Secretary Theresa May has claimed that Scots could lose their British passports and be denied dual nationality should they vote ‘yes’ in next year’s independence referendum. The claims raise the spectre that Scots will be unable to visit, travel and work inside England despite the fact that every citizen across the European Union can. Previously Mrs May claimed that there would have to be passport controls on the Anglo-Scottish border should the EU force a post-independent Scotland to join the Schengen free travel zone, from which the UK is exempt. However, as the Republic of Ireland is so well integrated with the UK it too has an exemption allowing common arrangements to exist between Ireland and the UK. Experts agree that it would be in the best interests of Scotland and the remainder of the UK for Scotland to remain exempt from Schengen. Making such public claims lead observers to suspect Mrs May is deliberately spreading fears over people’s safety and security in order to influence the result of Scotland’s independence referendum next year. Such interventions are now so regular that commentators fear that Westminster’s resources are now being deployed systematically in order to manipulate next year’s vote.
Westminster’s ‘threat of independence’ line turns to credit unions
The latest independence ‘threat’ story emanating from Westminster has turned to the poor’s access to credit unions. After independence, Scots ‘could’ lose access to cheap loans Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander will claim today. Mr Alexander will also claim that Scottish firms and individuals benefit from the UK’s world class financial services sector. Mr Alexander will face questions over this asserting after the last few years have seen UK banks and their role in the financial crisis, Libor and IDSAfix fraud, ‘mis-selling’ of financial products scandal, money-laundering fines, anti-trust cartel operations fines and other corruption stories. Mr Alexander will be responding to a House of Lords investigation into the practicalities of independence. The committee’s findings have often been challenged by participating experts and has generated a large volume of ‘threat of independence’ stories in the mainstream media.
Independent Scotland could easily deliver benefits system, experts confirm
An independent Scotland would have more than enough dedicated infrastructure and personnel to deliver pensions and other welfare benefits on day one, according to a Scottish government commissioned report published this week. In its first findings, the Expert Working Group on Welfare will say that Scotland is already home to enough Department of Work and Pension (DWP) offices to ensure continuity of service. The SNP government argues this capacity could be switched to paying Scots, and there is no reason to fear a break in delivering benefits despite the complexity of the system. Ms Sturgeon has announced that, in the event of independence, a future SNP government would abolish the ‘bedroom tax’ and cut the tax bill for mothers returning to work. She continued: “We reject the Westminster parties’ proposed cuts to pensions and support for families and it’s now abundantly clear that it is only with independence that we can safeguard pensions and welfare in Scotland”. The BBC has instead reported that the welfare working group is to recommend that Scotland shares the administration of pensions and benefits with the rest of the UK after independence.
Investigation into Glasgow Labour Leader misconduct dropped
A police investigation relating to allegations of misconduct by the Labour leader of Glasgow City Council relating to the £100,000 George Square redesign contract has been dropped. The allegations were that Mr Matheson directly intervened in the project – which would lead to a £15mn redesign – to pressure council staff to interfere in the process. It was decided there was no evidence of criminality. The previous Glasgow Council leader Steven Purcell also had an investigation dropped. Mr Purcell resigned and was again in the news recently when an assault took place at his flat.
UK crisis: Thames Water accused of ‘ripping off the taxpayer’
The UK’s largest water company has been accused of “ripping off the taxpayer” after it paid no corporation tax last year despite making profits of more than half a billion pounds. Thames Water increased customer bills by 6.7 percent, awarded its chief executive a £274,000 bonus and made profits of £549mn on a turnover of £1.8bn. Yet customer satisfaction had dropped and hundreds of people’s homes were flooded with sewage. The company succeeded in cutting its tax bill to zero and was even handed £5mn in credit from the UK treasury by writing off investments against the amount it was due to pay the government. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “This is a disgrace. Since privatisation, water companies have been ripping off consumers, pushing bills up much higher than inflation. Now we know they are ripping off the taxpayer too”.
Hundreds of Turkish police dispatched to contain protesters as unrest grows
Hundreds of Turkish police are struggling to contain protesters after taking over Taksim Square in Istanbul, with violent clashes spreading to the surrounding streets. Hundreds of security troops were dispatched at the scene early this morning to disperse remaining protesters with tear gas – previously reported to have been supplied by the US. While the square itself has seen relatively low levels of violence during the first hours of the operation, the surrounding streets have become a place of serious confrontation. Taksim Square is one of primary locations of anti-government protests in Turkey, which are entering their 11th day today. The protests started as a small environmentalist sit-in aimed at stopping a city development project. But it has grown into a nationwide anti-government movement following the brutal dispersal of Gezi Park defenders on May 29.
Russia considers asylum for PRISM whistleblower
As Barack Obama’s administration struggles to contain what has been described as the ‘most significant leak in US history’, political opinion in the US is split, with some members of Congress calling for the immediate extradition from Hong Kong of the whistleblower, Edward Snowdon. But other senior politicians are questioning whether US surveillance practices have gone too far. Calls from US lawmakers are extensive however, citing an extradition treaty with the United States signed in 1996 as a means to have Snowdon returned to the US from China to face trial for treason. Snowdon has since left his hotel in Hong Kong and been taken to an undisclosed location, as Russia and Iceland consider granting political asylum to the NSA whistleblower. In the UK, foreign secretary William Hague has avoided going into detail about how Britain handles information offered by US intelligence agencies – raising further questions about the nature of the deep seated relationship between the UK and US governments.
US talks on Syria – arms race in war-ravaged nation may follow
The US may decide this week to directly arm Syrian insurgents who fight alongside al-Qaeda. Recently, factions have split the insurgents – who are supported by the West – and armed by proxy via regional allies such as Qatar. The insurgents have suffered a series of military setbacks in the geo-politically sensitive region. Any ‘boots on the ground’ intervention by the West will incite regional tensions and draw in ally Iran which in turn may draw in nuclear power Russia. The region is a vital conduit for gas pipelines between the Caspian Sea and Eastern Europe at a time when energy reserves are becoming scarce and so have global military and diplomatic significance.