The week outside Westminster

The SNP's plans for independence, the Newry bomb attack, Peter Hain's attack on the far right and more.


• First minister Alex Salmond published the Scottish National Party’s Government consultation on legislation for a referendum on the country’s constitutional future. Presenting the document, Salmond said:

“The Scottish Government believe in the sovereignty of the people. And as set out in the manifesto on which we were elected, we are committed to giving people the opportunity to express their views in a referendum.”

The prime minister, however, said that the SNP were “wasting time and resources on their dogmatic obsession of breaking up Britain”.

• The Scottish Sun had good news for Labour, with them leading the SNP by 22% north of the border.

• In making a statement to Parliament over her calls for a convicted fraudster in her constituency to be considered for a sentence other than prison, deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon declared:

“I did get some things wrong and for that I am sorry.”

Scottish Conservative and Unionist party leader Annabel Goldie, meanwhile, suggested that her apology should act as a lesson to Alex Salmond:

“She has taught him a lesson in humility.”

• Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon were both cleared of wrong doing over the lunch gate saga.

• Scottish secretary Jim Murphy made clear his view that “faith has always been important to Labour”. Cardinal Keith O’Brien reacted by telling Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray that the Pope “could really give you hell for what you have done in our country over the past 10 years”.

• As the Scottish Government published its strategy for tackling obesity, Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum told the First Minister that he should set an example when it comes to losing weight.

• Audit Scotland warned the public sector must find new ways of creating efficiencies to cope with predicted budget cuts.

Northern Ireland

• News that dissident republicans were likely to be responsible for a bomb attack outside a Newry courthouse provoked politicians of all parties to unite in condemning the attack. However, Ulster Unionist Party MLA for the area Danny Kennedy raised his concerns that the police and Northern Ireland secretary had become complacent over the security threat posed to Ulster. Northern Ireland Chief Constable Matt Baggott reacted by saying:

“We are far from taking the dissident threat complacently.”

• Martin McGuinness blamed the Real IRA for the shooting dead of alleged MI5 informer Kieran Doherty in Derry. McGuinness described it as a “dirty deed”.

• Alliance party leader David Ford confirmed that he would run for the new justice minister post. He said:

“This has not been an easy decision to make but a decision has finally been reached. We have had much discussion within our party on this and now that our two conditions have been met, we can nominate for the post of Justice Minister.”

• Traditional Unionist Voice party councillor, Cecil Calvert, was forced to apologise for comparing the police to the Gestapo. Democratic Unionist Party opponents called for him to resign his seat from Lisburn Council.

• Sinn Fein and the DUP agreed a new plan to fight sectarianism.

• Northern Ireland secretary Shaun Woodward extended the consultation period on a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. He concluded that it “could play an important role in underpinning the peace, prosperity and political progress of Northern Ireland”.


• Welsh secretary, Peter Hain warned against complacency over the threat from the far right. He said:

“The people of Wales have resolved that the rise of racist, fascist organisations must be stopped.”

• Assembly members voted in favour of powers to give the legislature control over the right to buy council housing. Conservatives, however, voted against a transfer of such powers, prompting former Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Mike German to brand them “bonkers”.

• An inquiry by the assembly’s Communities and Culture committee called for the assembly to gain powers to tackle youth offending and over children in secure homes.

• Research by BBC Wales found that Wales’s seven new health boards were on course to be £43 million over budget.

• Speaking ahead of Wales’s first public service summit, first minister Carwyn Jones declared:

“I can’t promise our road to recovery will be pain free, but it’s a journey we have to take.”

• Rhonda MP Chris Bryant called for sex education from as young as 12 to help tackle teenage pregnancies. He said:

“The truth is that such high levels of teenage pregnancy mean that in many cases poverty is handed down from one generation to another.”

• Plaid Cymru rural affairs minister Elin Jones announced the Welsh government would ban the use of electric shock collars. She said:

“I am confident that the approach I am announcing today will go a long way to promote the welfare of dogs and cats in Wales.”

Quote of the Week

“The perpetrators are acting against the democratically expressed wishes of all of the people of Ireland. They have nothing to offer our society.”

Sinn Fein deputy first minister Martin McGuinness condemning Monday’s bomb attack outside a Newry courthouse

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