Daily political media summary: 21 May 2008


All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.


Scottish Futures Trust: Yesterday the Scottish Government launched its policy for funding major public projects, Scottish Futures Trust. The Scottish Government intends to create a new municipal bond based on the collective assets and revenue streams of councils and the new programme would replace PPP and PFI. Opponents have said that the SNP has gone back on its manifesto promise because the Scottish Futures Trust still allows private companies to make profits by funding public projects. (Scotsman page 6, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Douglas Fraser in the Herald, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 11, Alex Cochrane in the Telegraph, Sun page 14, Daily Mail page 24, P&J page 9, Courier page 11, Times page 4, David Lonsdale in the Times)

10p tax rate: According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies an estimates 18million families in the UK will be worse off compared with now by an average of £150 a year unless the one-off tax cut announced last week and top-ups to the winder fuel allowance are extended. The IFS director, Robert Chote said By announcing a big, one-off increase in the personal income tax allowance, Alastair Darling has not only created millions of winners this year, he has created millions of potential losers next year (Scotsman page 8,Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 31, FT page 2, Guardian page 2)

Digital entertainment industry: A report due to be published tomorrow called Digital Entertainment in Scotland is expected to highlight that the sector generates 4% of Scotland’s economic output and employs 100,000 people. (Scotsman page 29)

Retail Slump: Mark’s and Spencer Chief Executive Stuart Rose said yesterday that the UK wide ‘retail slump’ could last another year to 18 months. Rose was speaking as M&S announced pre-tax profits of over £1 billion, a figure that despite being higher than previous years, disappointed analysts. (Herald page 26, Daily Telegraph B2 & B4)

Northern Rock: It has been alleged that the risk posed to taxpayers money tied up in Northern Rock is greater than first thought. Ron Sandler, the government appointed chairman of the stricken bank, said yesterday to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee that the ongoing credit crunch threatens to “undermine its restructuring.” (Telegraph Business, FT page 6, Guardian page 30)

Foreign Tax: Alistair Darling yesterday promised that the business community would not be allowed to become the government’s “fiscal fall guy.” He was speaking to the CBI as he attempted to placate business leaders angry at the introduction at extra taxes on international businesses. This came in the face of widespread reports that many big companies were considering quitting Britain for more tax friendly countries. (Daily Telegraph page B2)

Tax Reform: Irwin Stelzer writing in the Telegraph (page 21) argues for “lower, simpler and fairer taxes.”

Energy Bills: The price British households pay for gas and electricity is rising faster than in the rest of Europe, due to the lack of competition amongst energy providers. This claim was made by Allan Asher, the Chief Executive of energy consumer watchdog Energywatch (Telegraph, page 8)

Navy Warships: The Ministry of Defence yesterday ended ten years of uncertainty when it confirmed that plans for two new aircraft carriers, to be built in Scotland, would go ahead. The announcement was welcomed in Scotland as it safeguarded hundreds of Scottish jobs at shipyards in Govan, Glasgow and Rosyth, Fife. (Daily Mail, page 18-19, Daily Record page 12)


Early release row: Sheriff Kevin Drummond has criticised the system of early release from prison after sentencing a man who had reoffended within weeks of his release just five months into a 16 month sentence. Sheriff Drummond said “I’d be failing in my duty to the public if I did not make it clear that, in my opinion, judicial disposals’ are largely meaningless and the system is being brought into disrepute” (Scotsmanpage 15, Daily Mail page 6, Herald page 9, Daily Express page 1)


Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill: MPs voted last night to reject all amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which proposed to reduce the upper time limit for abortions to below 24 weeks. It was the first time the issue had been debated as part of government legislation for 18 years. MPs also voted to scrap IVF guidelines that consideration should be given that children should have a father figure, instead opting for “supportive parenting. (Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, the Sun page 14, Daily Mail page 1-2, Daily Record page 6, P&J page 1, Courier page 2, FT page 2, Guardian page 1, Mark Henderson in the Times, Times page 1, Daily Express page 18)

Cancer waiting times: New figures have shown that cancer patients are still waiting too long for treatment, despite the issue being one of the SNP government’s commitments on taking office last year. (Herald page 8)

Local Government

Trump: Donald Trump yesterday warned that he will withdraw his proposals for the £1b development of the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire if he is to be forced to change the golf course. The message comes as part of his statement to the public inquiry on the matter. (Scotsman page 3)

Wind Farms: Alan Massie writing in the Daily Mail (page 14) argues that despite opposition, the rising price of oil and lack of effectiveness of other sources of energy such as wave and tidal power, means that wind farms are needed in order to reduce the “carbon footprint” of Scotland. Though he adds that wind farms are merely a “supplementary” source of energy. This comes after the Scottish Government decided this week to overturn a Scottish Borders decision to refuse the building of a wind farm in Langhope Rig.


Crewe & Nantwich by-election: Further coverage and analysis about the by election due to take place on Thursday. (Scotsman page 8, Gerri Peev in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, Daily Mirror 9, FT page 2, Guardian page 7, Jonathan Freeland in the Guardian, Times page 32, Daniel Finkelstein in the Times)

Police Numbers: The Labour Party claimed yesterday to have evidence that the SNP was failing in its commitment to increase police numbers by an extra thousand. Figures released showed that Scotland now had forty five fewer officers than when the SNP came to power in May 2007. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 1, the Sun page 14, Daily Mail page 2, Courier page 3)

Tory thinkers: The FT (page 4) looks at the people, including Oliver Letwin, Michael Gove and Steve Hilton, who are reshaping Conservative party policy at a UK level.