Daily Political Media Summary: 19 May 2008


All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.


Reform Scotland: Geoff Mawdsley, Director of Reform Scotland, exchanges emails with Stephen Boyd, STUC Assistant Secretary, in the Sunday Herald (Page 78 and 79). Geoff argues that lower taxes are a key element to a prosperous Scotland.

Mortgage: According to the Mortgage Monitor more than 38,000 different mortgage deals offered by lenders have disappeared in the past year, making it harder for people in the UK to re-finance their homes. (Scotsman page 5)

Oil Revenue: SNP ministers have ‘seized’ on a new report showing that the recent surge in oil prices would give the Scottish government a £4.4 billion budget surplus if it received the revenue from North Sea oil. Finance minister John Swinney claimed the revenues were “filling London’s financial black hole” and also claimed Scotland should set its own petrol duty and road tax levels. (Daily Express page 2, Courier page 3, P&J page 9, Scotland on Sunday page 6, Sunday Times page 6, Daily Mail page 6)

Tax: Ian MacWhirter writing in the Sunday Herald (page 31) claims the Gordon Brown is “getting desperate” in his attempts to compensate the low earners who lost out in the abolition of the 10p tax rate.

Tory Tax Plans: UK Conservative leader David Cameron has pledged to lower taxes on families and put an end to “reckless state spending” in his latest speech to attract voters in the run up to the Crewe and Nantwich by-election on Thursday. (Daily Telegraph page 1)

Council sick days: An investigation by the Sunday Post (page 1) suggests that each council employee in Scotland took an average of 12 days off sick last year at a cost of £210million.

Credit crunch: Further comment and analysis on the global economic slowdown. (David Smith & Iain Dey in the Sunday Times, Anatole Kaletsky in the Times)


Drink Laws: the violence that marred the aftermath of Rangers UEFA cup defeat last Wednesday has led to new attempts by Holyrood to “crack down on the booze culture that has shamed the country”. (Times page 2, Courier page 1, P&J page 6)

Police Failure: New figures have shown that Scotland’s eight police forces have failed to solve one in five crimes over the past five years, including eight murders, five hundred attempted murders and more than one thousand rapes. (Daily Express page 5)

Young offender: The Daily Record (page 1) criticises the revelation that a 17-year old awaiting trial for allegedly abducting and assaulting a young boy is being kept in a four bedroom farmhouse in Dumfriesshire with access to Sky TV and trips to the cinema and leisure parks instead being kept in a young offenders’ institution.


Borders Railway: A poll commissioned by the Scotsman has shown that most people living near the proposed Borders railway line, which will cost almost £300m, are unlikely to use the new train service. (Scotsman page 13)


Teacher shortage: It was revealed at the Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) conference at the weekend that a number of teachers who have changed jobs to join the profession are quitting after just a year because of a lack of teaching posts and they cannot afford to drop to part time hours. (Scotsman page 9)

Classroom Assistants: Also at the SSTA conference it has been alleged that secondary school pupils are increasingly being taught by classroom assistants and not qualified teachers in a bid to save money. (Herald page 8)

Schools sharing headteachers: Plans are expected to be unveiled this week proposing that three schools in Perth and Kinross could come under the control of one headteacher as part of plans to safeguard small schools. No specific schools have been named yet but it is expected the plans will be introduced as a two year pilot. (Courier page 5)

Faith schools: Proposals for Scotland’s first state funded Islamic school is expected to be submitted to Glasgow Council within two months. The First Minister has stated he is “sympathetic” towards the idea. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, The Sun page 2)

Headteachers: Jenny Hjul in the Sunday Times (page 18) argues that headteachers need to be given back the powers to properly run their schools, including excluding unruly children.


Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: Further coverage of coverage of the controversial bill which will be debated in the House of Commons today and tomorrow. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 1, Eddie Barnes in the Scotland on Sunday, Telegraph page 1, Times page 4)

MRSA: British scientists are “on the brink” of developing a new “wonder gel” which experts claim will stop the spread of the hospital superbug MRSA. (Daily Express page 1, P&J page 14)

Local Government

Donald Trump: Donald Trump’s proposed £1 billion golf resort in Aberdeenshire could be built without having a detrimental effect on the environment say two environmental charities. (Herald page 5, P&J page 10)


Scottish election: Ron Gould, the Canadian elections specialist who carried out the inquiry into the voting problems at last year’s Scottish election has said he “was not comfortable” that all 129 MSPs received more votes than their opponents. This followed an announcement by UK ministers that control of Scottish elections will remain with Westminster and not be passed to Holyrood (Scotsman page 8, Mirror page 5, Herald page 7, Ian MacWhirter in the Herald page 13, Sunday Herald page 18, Daily Telegraph page 10, P&J page 9, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 4)

Labour party in Scotland: It has emerged that Wendy Alexander’s call for a snap referendum on independence sabotaged plans for UK ministers to do the same. Such a plan has now been ruled out after it became clear that it would not receive the backing of Prime Minister Gordon Brown. It has also emerged that the most senior advisor to Wendy Alexander has “walked out” after a row about her apparent u-turn over her independence referendum stance. (Sunday Herald page 7, Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman, Daily Telegraph page 8, Scotland on Sunday page 2, Sunday Times page 2)

Outlook for labour: Further comment and analysis on the future of the Labour Party and the Government under Gordon Brown. A YouGov poll published on Sunday gives the Conservatives a 20-point lead over Labour with 45% with Labour on just 25%, putting Gordon Brown’s popularity on a par with John Major’s. (Sunday Times page 1, David Smith & Jonathan Oliver in the Sunday Times)

Trident: UK Defence Secretary Des Browne has warned First Minister Alex Salmond that he would be acting illegally if he tries to “obstruct or interfere” with Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Browne has also pledged that he will not allow the SNP to “undermine Britain’s national security.” (Daily Telegraph page 11)

PFI Controversy: An investigation by the Sunday Herald (page 1, 4-5) has uncovered what it calls the “great PFI swindle,” which it claims has made huge dividends for investors in Scottish developments, such as Hairmyres Hospital in East Kilbride, at the expense of taxpayers.

Age of Consent: A proposal to lower the age of consent in Scotland from 16 to 13 will not be supported by the Scottish government, as it believes such a move would “send out the wrong signal to young people who were considering having sex.” (Sunday Herald page 16)

Marriage: Leader of the House of Commons and UK Deputy Labour Leader Harriet Harman has said that marriage is irrelevant to UK government policy and that ministers should not “tell people how to bring up families.” (Daily Telegraph page 6)

Hung Parliament: It has been claimed that following meetings with senior party members, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg will support the Conservatives if they are the largest party in a hung Parliament. Clegg did however rule out taking a cabinet position in such a coalition saying he would instead provide “supply and confidence.” (Daily Telegraph page 6)

Mohamed al Fayed: Mohamed al Fayed has claimed he will settle permanently in the Scottish highlands if Scotland becomes independent. In addition, al Fayed also said Scotland should receive a majority share of North Sea oil revenue. (Herald page 1, P&J page 9)

Crewe & Nantwich by-election: Further coverage and analysis about the by election due to take place on Thursday. (Scotsman page 18, Sunday Herald page 21 P&J page 5, Michael Portillo in the Sunday Times, Daily Mail page 4, Times page 24, William Rees-Mogg in the Times, FT page 2)