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Daily Political Media Summary: 14 May 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

£2.7b tax cut: Yesterday in the Chancellor announced an emergency mini-budget to address the impact of the removal of the 10p tax cut on low earners. Every basic rate tax payer will receive a £120 boost by an increase in the individual personal tax allowance by £600 to £6,035 for this financial year, backdated to April and coming into effect in September. The Government is borrowing £2.7billion to pay for the policy. (Scotsman page 1, P&J page 5, The Herald page 1, The Guardian page 1, The Times page 1, Daily Mirror page 8, Daily Mail page 1, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1) Chris Dillow in the Times, Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail)

10p tax rate: Alistair Darling’s compensation to low-earners who lost out in the abolition of the 10p income tax rate could add to the burden of small businesses and push public borrowing towards £50bn breaking the government’s fiscal rules say economists (The Guardian page 8)

Housing market: A number of newspapers have details of Housing Minister, Caroline Flint’s briefing to the Cabinet on the state of the housing market after she was photographed with the briefing in a clear plastic folder. The briefing revealed that the Government expects a 10% fall in house prices this year, though it “can\’t know how bad it will get”. (Scotsman page 5, P&J page 10, The Guardian page 6, The Sun page 8, The Times page 6, Daily Mirror page 9, Daily Mail page 12, FT page 3, Telegraph page 1)

Sick Days: The CBI reports that sick leave cost UK businesses £13.2billion last year with workers taking an average of 6.7 days off for illness, though the average increased to 9 days in the public sector. (Scotsman page 36, The Guardian page 25)

Interest Rates and Inflation: Hopes of further interest rate cuts by the Bank of England were dealt a further blow yesterday as it emerged that inflation had unexpectedly risen to 3% (the Times page 40, Daily Telegraph page 85, The Courier page 11, FT page 3, Telegraph page B5)

Inflation: Nils Pratley writing in the Guardian (page 25) comments about the danger of what he calls ‘inflation fixation’

Crime

Salmond to act on airgun ban: First Minister Alex Salmond is to lobby the UK government on allowing Scotland to begin a nationwide pilot scheme on airgun legislation. (Daily Express page 1)

Transport

Stirling –Alloa – Kincardine rail link: The Scotsman (page 10) reports on the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine rail link which is costing £85million and will open on next Monday.

M8 to Edinburgh airport: A revised masterplan for the West of Edinburgh is to propose a new direct motorway link from the M8 to Edinburgh airport. (Scotsman page 24)

Education

Scottish schools to get two hours of PE a week: Minister for Schools, Maureen Watt has announced that all schools in Scotland will be expected to provide at least two hours of PE per week in order to tackle the “high priority” of childhood obesity. (The Herald page 5, Telegraph page 8)

Alan Massie writing in the Daily Mail (page 20) comments on the plan to encourage former soldiers to enter the teaching profession.

School Meals: Children in Scottish primary schools will be limited to eating chips three times a week as part of a new healthy eating campaign launched by the Scottish Government (Daily Record page 17)

Health

Private treatment for cancer drugs: The Health Secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, admitted yesterday that some cancer patients may have to turn to the private sector for drugs, stating that “difficult decisions” sometimes had to be made in the NHS regarding which drugs were freely available. (Scotsman page 21)

Study of Scottish DNA to begin in search for MS cure: A ‘groundbreaking’ study of Scottish DNA is due to begin in Orkney and the Shetland, aimed at establishing why Scotland has the highest rates of Multiple Sclerosis in the world. (The Herald page 1)

Local Government

Aberdeen Chief Executive quits: The Chief Executive of Aberdeen City Council, Douglas Paterson has opted to take early retirement from his post on the same day that the Accounts Commission began a public inquiry in to the leadership of the council. (P&J page 1, The Herald page 4, The Sun page 2, The Times page 11, Daily Mail page 26, The Courier page 6)

Politics

Labour & the referendum: The Labour party in Scotland was yesterday accused of another U-turn over its position on a referendum on independence. It has been reported that at the Labour MSP Group’s weekly meeting they changed their policy from the position that they would “not vote down any referendum bill that comes before this parliament” to “We reserve the right to scrutinise any bill that comes before this parliament” and “it all depends on the wording and the timescale of the bill”. (Scotsman page 2, P&J page 1, The Herald page 6, The Sun page 2, Daily Mirror page 8, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 2, The Courier page 1, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph)

Independence referendum: Alan Trench comments in the Scotsman (page 32) that the debate over independence will run and run, regardless of the outcome of a referendum.

Brown has “lost Scotland” claims Cameron: UK Conservative leader David Cameron has claimed that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has “lost Scotland” and is “putting the UK at risk” in the wake of the confusion over the pledge made by Scottish Labour Leader Wendy Alexander to support an immediate referendum on independence for Scotland. (The Herald page 6)

MEPs pledge to retain Scots voice in Europe: A group of Scottish MEPs will travel to Westminster today to make the case against cutting the amount of Scottish MEPs from seven to six. (The Herald page 6)

Outlook for Labour: Jonathan Freedland comments in the Guardian (page 27) that a period in opposition for the Labour Party at Westminster could “let the party redefine its purpose” and prevent it from being “exiled for a generation.”

Crewe and Nantwich by-election: Further coverage of the run up to the Crewe and Nantwich by-election (The Guardian page 15)

Labour Memoirs: Stephen Glover writing in the Daily Mail (page 14) comments on the recent swathe of New Labour memoirs entering the public domain, saying that the “the glut of self serving memoirs tells us everything about New Labour.”