Daily Political Media Summary: 20 May 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

Economy

Public spending: Further coverage of David Cameron’s speech to business leaders in Birmingham where he called for an end to “reckless state spending” as well as long term tax cuts. (Scotsman page 8,Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 5 and 15, Daily Mail page 2, FT page 2, Daily Express page 2, Peter Riddell in the Times, George Monbiot in the Guardian, Alf Young in the Herald).

Housebuilders: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman (page 31) comments on the effect the global economic slowdown is having on housebuilders and the consequences for the industry.

Tax Credit System: The Liberal Democrats have claimed that there have been overpayments in the UK tax credit system to the tune of £10bn over the last four years alone (Herald, page 6).

Pensioner’s Economic Worries: Pensioners are so worried about their long term economic future that they are making themselves sick. The charity Help the Aged has reported that 200,000 have been plunged into fuel poverty because of the rise in price of household bills. The charity continues that 20% of pensioners feel their quality of life has worsened in the last year. (The Daily Mirror, page 11, Press and Journal, page 12).

Scots suffering in slowdown: Shelter Scotland has warned that 265,000 of Scotland’s 2.3million homeowners have no safety net against a drop in income and are at risk of defaulting on their mortgage. (Daily Express page 1, Press and Journal page 15)

Inflation: Further comment and analysis on rising inflation. Experts have suggested that a widening gap between the index linked government bonds and conventional gilts could be a sign that financial markets are loosing faith in the UK Government’s ability to deliver low and stable inflation (FT page 1, George Magnus in the FT, Times page 41, David Wighton in the Times)

Corporation tax: Research by the Times (page 44) suggests that FTSE-100 companies Cadbury, Standard Chartered and British American Tobacco employed almost 11,000 UK staff and generated more than £6billion in global profits but paid no corporation tax in the UK last year.

Crime

Teenage criminal: 18-year-old Darren Cornelius from Edinburgh became the youngest person in Scotland to receive a lifelong restriction order yesterday, which will only see him released from prison if he is no longer deemed a threat to the public and but will remain monitored by authorities for the rest of his life. Cornelius has been charged with 65 offences since he was eight, including kidnapping and stabbing a nine-year-old girl when he was only 11 and more recently of a frenzied knife attack on a stranger. (Scotsman page 1, Sun page 1, Daily Record page 19, Daily Mail page 18, Daily Express page 7, Courier page 7, Herald page 3)

Criminal Assets Used On the Young: Money seized from criminals is being used by the Scottish Government to steer youngsters away from crime. Details of free events staged in the north and north-east are being texted to under-18s, the first of these being Scotland’s under-21 football match tonight, against opponents Norway. (Press and Journal, page 9)

Cocaine: An investigation in the Daily Record (Page 1) highlights the “real price of cocaine” as investigators travelled to Columbia to see how the money being spent on the drug by Scots was funding a civil war where many innocent men, women and children have been killed, maimed and driven from their homes.

Prisons commission: Former First Minister, Henry Mcleish, who is Chairman of the Scottish Government’s Prisons Commission said yesterday that the safety of the public who live near open prisons would be given significant consideration as part of the Commission’s work. (Courier page 1, Herald page 19)

Troops in uniform: Discrimination and abuse, physical or verbal, against service personnel wearing military uniform will become a criminal offence under proposals being suggested by the UK Government. (Herald page 11)

Transport

M8 bridge: A new footbridge over the M8 at Harthill which should have been completed last autumn has also risen in cost to £5.1million, a quarter higher than the original budget. (Scotsman page 14

Cairngorm Funicular Railway: The Cairngorm Funicular Railway has transferred ownership from the CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (CML) to Highlands and Islands Enterprise, essentially placing it under public ownership. CML has reported a debt of £6m, and the transfer of ownership has been seen as the the most effective way of securing the Railway’s long term future. (Herald page 5, Press and Journal page 4)

Education

Boost for Gaelic Education: The Scottish-wide Gaelic parents organisation has announced that they hope a two pronged approach will boost the amount of Gaelic speakers in Scotland. They will continue to press for the creation of more Gaelic medium schools, such as those already established in Glasgow and Fort William, while at the same time pressing for improvements in teaching the language in secondary schools. (Press and Journal page 4)

University: The Guardian (Education) comments on the attraction for students from particular countries to gravitate toward particular universities. For example Irish and Nigerians prefer Robert Gordon in Aberdeen while Americans like St Andrews.

Health

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: Yesterday MPs voted to allow scientists to use animal-human hybrid embryos for research purposes. MPs also backed the idea of allowing “savour siblings”. The debate will turn to time limits on abortion today. (Scotsman page 6, Sun page 2, The Herald page 1, The Daily Mirror, page 4, The Press and Journal page 8, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 1, FT page 4, Daily Express page 11, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 4,Times page 4, David Aaronovitch in the Times, P&J page 1, Guardian page 4, Dr Simon Fishel in the Herald.)

HRT: An international panel of experts concluded yesterday that women should not be put of using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) because of over hyped fears about side effects. The Experts, who presented their findings at the World Health Congress on menopause in Madrid said that HRT did not raise the risk of heart disease and its impact on breast cancer was minimal. (Scotsman page 11, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 18, Herald page 3).

Hepatitis: It was announced yesterday that the Scottish Government will dedicate £43m to combating the spread of Hepatitis C ushering in phase two of their action plan. The money will be distributed to health boards to be used in treatment, testing and care for those suffering with the disease. (Press and Journal page 9, Daily Record page 2, Daily Express page 14, Telegraph page 10).

Panels Scrutinise NHS changes: A public consultation exercise has revealed that the public support the idea of independent panels scrutinising changes made by NHS health boards. The findings were revealed yesterday by the Scottish Government (Press and Journal, page 9)

Politics

Labour in Scotland: Further comment and analysis on the future for the Labour party in Scotland. Former First Minister Henry McLeish has accused the Labour Party of making policy on the hoof with regard to the position on an independence referendum. Mr McLeish argued that there was “no compelling case” for a split vote now or before the next Scottish election. (Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 2, Times page 9, Herald page 6, Press and Journal, page 10, David Maddox in the Scotsman).

Crewe & Nantwich by-electiton: Further coverage and analysis about the by election due to take place on Thursday. (Sun page 4, Press and Journal page 5, FT page 2, Telegraph page 12, Courier page 9, Times page 9, Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, Guardian page 9).

Gordon Brown on YouTube: Gordon Brown launched a question and answer session on YouTube yesterday, giving members of the public the chance to ask him questions. Brown described the launch as an “exciting new initiative” (Herald, page 6)

Business Leaders Call for Drop in Opposition: CBI Scotland has called for the Scottish Government to drop its “anti-profit rhetoric”, on public projects being funded by private finance. This comes on the eve of Alex Salmond’s announcement regarding the Scottish Futures Trust, an alternative finance strategy to Private Finance Initiative (PFI). (Press and Journal, page 10)

Care Home to Stop Taking in Residents: The Kingsmead Nursing Home near Aberdeen has been told to stop taking in residents after ‘significant failings’ in care were reported. The findings come from Care Commission Scotland. An improvement notice has been issued to the nursing home which caters for around 65 residents (Press and Journal page 6)

Scottish Conservatives: Ahead of the Scottish Conservative Party conference at the weekend Angus Macleod in the Times (page 2) comments on the success of the Conservatives at Westminster and the possibility of their being a similar bounce in the fortunes of the party north of the border.

Opinion poll: A UK poll by ICM in the Guardian shows Labour’s support to be at its lowest level since May 1987 – just before Margaret Thatcher won her third landslide victory. The Conservatives were on 41%, Labour on 27% with the Lib Dems on 22%. (Guardian page 1)

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