Daily Political Media Summary: 23 May 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Economic crisis: Further comment and analysis on the economic slowdown. Baroness Vadera, a business minister and former adviser to Gordon Brown, has said that the UK faced “the first real economic crisis” in a generation, whilst Lord Bilimoria, a cross bench peer who has worked with the Prime Minister, has attacked the tax increases introduced under Gordon Brown. (Telegraph page 1, FT page 2, Samuel Brittan in the FT, Daily Mail page 1).

Oil: Comment and analysis on the consequences of the price of oil reaching a record high of $135 a barrel. As a result the AA has called on the Government to delay a 2p rise in fuel duty expected in October (The Herald page 29, Bill Jamieson in The Scotsman page 28, Alf Young in the Herald page 15, Times page 62, Express page 23, Nils Pratley in the Guardian, Daily Mail page 6).

CO2 emissions: The Scottish Government has said that more will need to be done to tackle emissions as figures released yesterday showed that CO2 increased by 8% in 2006, mainly due to a shift to cheaper coal-fired power stations (The Scotsman page 1, The Herald page 7).

Central heating programme: The Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing announced that the Scottish Government’s pensioners’ central heating programme would prioritise those most in need, ending universal fuel allowance (The Courier and Advertiser page 10, The Herald page 4, Times page 4, P&J page 13, Daily Record page 10).

Interest rates: Figures released by the Office for National Statistics showed high street spending in April did not slow as much as the City had been expecting, making a summer interest rate cut less likely. Figures also showed that inflationary pressures on the manufacturing sector are at their strongest since 1995 (The Herald page 30, The Scotsman page 33).

Wind farms: The Crown Estate this week invited applications of interest from energy companies to set up wind farms on the Scottish coast. While Scottish weather conditions are ideal, some analysts think that the sea around Scotland is too deep for wind farms (The Scotsman page 26).

Post levy: A report produced for the Business Secretary John Hutton warns that the financial stability of Royal Mail is at risk and the Government should consider whether a levy should be imposed on Royal Mail’s competitors. (P&J page 11).

Crime


Scottish legal services: The Law Society of Scotland has backed the end of solicitors’ monopoly over the ownership of legal firms in Scotland. This makes it possible for solicitors to join up with companies such as banks or supermarkets to provide legal services (The Scotsman page 7, The Herald page 1, page 14).

Automatic early release: The First Minister has announced that the Scottish Government plans to scrap the automatic early release scheme (The Sun page 6, P&J page 8, Express page 1, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 12).

Fife police: Chief Constable of Fife Police Force, Peter Wilson, is to retire this week. (P&J page 6).

Transport

Green cars: Record fuel prices have wiped out the cost benefits of owning a greener diesel car, according to the Institute of Advanced Drivers (The Courier and Advertiser page 13).

Airlines: British Airways Chief Executive Willie Walsh has warned that the aviation industry would face a number of airline failures as a result of the increasing oil prices. (Telegraph B3, The Guardian page 1).

Education

Apprenticeships: Opposition parties criticised the Education Secretary yesterday, claiming that apprenticeship places had been cut and urging a new skills strategy (The Courier and Advertiser page 7).

Parent leaders: Glasgow is looking to develop parent leaders to give a greater role to parents in the running of schools. A lot of the detail still needs to be worked out but it is hoped the move will increase parents influence in school management. (TESS page 8)

Probationer teachers: Teaching unions fear that cash strapped local authorities are manipulating the teacher induction scheme by using probationer teachers as “stop-gap teachers” to avoid having to employ staff on more expensive permanent contracts. (TESS page 1)

Drama school: The First Minister has announced a review of funding of drama provision across Scotland. The announcement comes on the back of concerns about the future of the cash strapped Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. (Daily Record page 33, Daily Mail page 10)

Health

Leukaemia lab: A £3m laboratory which aims to develop a permanent cure for leukaemia was opened in Glasgow yesterday (The Herald page 11).

Patient records: Confidential patient records were removed from abandoned Strathmartine Hospital in Dundee yesterday after laying discarded in the building for three years. (P&J page 3, Courier page 1).

Cancer patient from England: Carol Rummels from England has spent £5,000 on cancer wonder drug Tarceva, denied to patients in England by the NHS, though available free of charge by the NHS in Scotland. Mrs Rummels is considering moving to Scotland to continue her treatment (Express page 11).

Local Government

Falkirk Council: The Accounts Commission has said that Falkirk Council is showing a ‘good, solid performance’, but has raised some concerns about the operation of its Best Value and Audit Forum (The Herald page 12).

Politics

Crewe and Nantwich By-election: The Conservatives have won their first by-election in 26 years, overturning a Labour majority of 7000. Edward Timpson won 7860 more votes than Labour’s Tasmin Dunwoody, a 17.6% swing. David Cameron is expected to capitalise on the victory in an early by-election in Henley, where new London Mayor Boris Johnston is due to step down (Times page 2, The Scotsman page 19, The Sun page 2, analysis of the implications by Gerri Peev in The Scotsman page 9, review of the campaign in The Guardian page 4, Telegraph page 1, Peter Riddell in the Times, Express page 2, FT page 2, Polly Toynbee page 37, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 2).

Scottish Conservatives: Scottish Conservative Leader Annabel Goldie says she does not regret working with the SNP in the Scottish Parliament ahead of the Scottish Conservative Party conference this weekend (The Scotsman page 19 Telegraph page 6, P&J page 9).

Barnett formula: David Cameron has indicated that a future Conservative government would replace the Barnett formula with a ‘needs-based’ formula to allocate resources to Scotland (The Herald page 1).

Labour donations: Personal donations to the Labour Party have fallen to less than one tenth of their level last year, making the party more dependent on trade union funding. (FT page 1, Daily Mail page 2).

Devolution: Magnus Linklater in the Times (page 11) comments on the future of the devolution process and the roadblocks to independence.

Trust poll: According to the 2007 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, 20% more people now trust the Scottish Government to act in the country’s interests than before last year’s election (The Scotsman page 17, The Herald page 6).

Scottish Futures Trust: Labour has attacked the Scottish Government’s new plan for funding public sector infrastructure projects. Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander said the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) was ‘legally incompetent and financially illiterate’ and questioned the legality of councils issuing municipal bonds, a key part of the Scottish Government’s proposals. There was also confusion yesterday about whether it would be possible to use the SFT to fund the new Forth Road Bridge (The Herald page 6, The Scotsman page 18, comment in the Courier and Advertiser page 14, Ian Bell, The Herald page 6, The Courier and Advertiser page 9, The Sun page 2, Telegraph page 1, Times page 4).