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Daily Political Media Summary: Monday 2 June 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Post offices: Peter Luff MP, Chairman of the Business & Enterprise Select Committee has claimed that a further 4,000 post offices could be under threat of closure, mainly if subpostmasters retire and are not replaced. (Scotsman page 9, Daily Record page 2, Telegraph page 1, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Mirror page 16, Daily Express page 2, Courier page 9, FT page 2)

Oil revenues: Alex Salmond has formally written to Gordon Brown asking for a share of the estimated £4 to £5 billion in extra income the UK Government is due to received in tax due to the increase in the price of oil. However Chancellor Alistair Darling said yesterday that he did not accept that there would be a £4 billion windfall (Scotsman page 10, Sun page 2, Telegraph page 10, Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 2, Times page 5, P&J page 1)

Oil price: The Sunday Herald conducts an investigation in to the price of oil in Scotland and around the world. (Sunday Herald page 10-11)

Oil profit windfall tax: Derek Simpson, co-head of the Unite union has called on Gordon Brown to impose a large windfall tax on the profit of oil companies. (FT page 3)

Fears for shipyard: The Scottish shipbuilding industry suffered a major blow yesterday when it emerged that the Royal Navy’s £4 billion warship building programme will be run from Portsmouth and not the Clyde. The scheme will guarantee Scottish jobs, however unions fear the decision will have a devastating effect on the long term future of the industry once the programme is completed. (Daily Record page 2)

Interest rates: Willem Buiter, a founder member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), writing in the Telegraph (page B2) calls on the Bank of England to increase interest rates by 0.25% as a way of combating inflation.This comes at a time when many expect the MPC to leave interest rates unchanged at 5% this month. (P&J page 17)

Economic downturn: Chancellor Alistair Darling admitted yesterday that the Treasury could lose billions of pounds of planned revenue due to the economic downturn in the British economy. (Herald page 1)

Water privatisation: An attempt to privatise part of Scotland’s water industry in an effort to boost competition has led to business customers who have already signed up to new providers, becoming increasingly concerned that they will be left without water, after doubts were raised about the start of the new service. (Sunday Herald page 74)

Crime

Police drop: The number of police officers in Scotland’s biggest force has dropped by almost 200 in less than a year. Scottish Parliament figures show that Strathclyde Police had 7,803 whole time equivalent officers in June 2007 compared with 7,619 in March 2008. (Sun page 2, Daily Record page 2, Telegraph page 10, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 15, Courier page 3, P&J page 7)

Sexual epidemic: Scotland is facing a so called “infertility time bomb” following an increase in cases of Sexually Transmitted Infections such as chlamydia which are going undiagnosed and untreated amongst men. (Sunday Herald page 1)

Police ‘customers’: A report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary for Scotland sets out guidelines for the police to call suspected criminals “customers” and ensure that they are treated with respect. (Daily Mail page 1)

Drugs strategy: Further comment on the Scottish Government’s new drug strategy announced last week. (Margo Macdonald in the Sunday Post, Tom Brown in the Scotland on Sunday)

Summary Justice: District courts previously operated by local authorities will now become justice of the peace courts under the administration of a streamlined Scottish Courts Service. (P&J page 6)

Transport

Road safety: Better roads are the key to better safety according to a survey of more than 17,000 AA members. Almost 72% of those surveyed thought that road and junction improvements would make roads safer. (Herald page 7)

High speed rail link: Rail ministers from Edinburgh and London met last week for preliminary discussions on building a multi-billion high speed train link between Scotland and London. Rail Minister, Tom Harris believes a new high speed rail link to London should be built alongside existing tracks. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Herald page 6)

Glasgow-Edinburgh link: Commuters and business leaders have attacked the Scottish Government for failing to allow direct trains from Glasgow to stop at Edinburgh’s newest station, Edinburgh Park. (Sunday Herald page 75)

Education

Student grants: Cost cutting by the Scottish Government will impose tougher constraints on students from low and middle income families wishing to access maintenance grants than those from England according to Scottish Labour. (Herald page 4)

Health

Healthy eating: The Scottish Government is urging Scots to choose healthier takeaway meals in an effort to “find a compromise” between the eating of junk food and efforts to tackle obesity. (Herald page 7)

Cancer drug: A drug described as having a ‘multiple warhead’ could offer a lifeline to patients of one the deadliest cancers. Sutent is the first new treatment for advanced kidney cancer to come on to the market in 30 years. (Herald page 3)

Childbirth: Women in Scotland are more likely to die giving birth than anywhere else in Western Europe according to a survey by the Worlds Health Organisation (Herald page 4, (Daily Express page 1, P&J page 7)

NHS funding: NHS Health Boards have voiced “major concerns” about a new system for dividing NHS money across Scotland. In a leaked letter NHS Highland claimed the system could “widen the gap between rich and poor, both in terms of their access to NHS services and their actual health.” (Herald page 1, 12)

Binge drinking: Fears have been raised after it emerged that children as young as 9 believe binge drinking is normal behaviour. A new survey found more than one quarter of thought drinking four pints of beer in an evening was acceptable. (Herald page 2)

Alzheimer’s: Researchers at Dundee University have discovered an enzyme they believe could be crucial in combating Alzheimer’s. (Courier page 1)

Matron: The traditional role of matron is expected to be revived in Scottish hospitals. (P&J page 10)

Local Government

Local income tax: The Scottish Government has admitted that 55,000 full time students who do not currently pay council tax would have to pay a local income tax. Yesterday Alistair Darling made it clear that the UK Government would not release £400 million a year in council tax benefit if council tax was scrapped in Scotland. (Scotsman page 1)

Politics

Scots in the Cabinet: Back bench Labour MPs have called on Gordon Brown to reduce the number of Scots in the Cabinet. Justice Secretary Jack Straw has responded to the calls saying that there were “plenty” of “English people – true-born English men and women” in the cabinet and there was no need for change. There are currently four Scots in the Cabinet including the Prime Minister and Chancellor. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Sunday Times page 1)

Calman Commission: Sir Alan Peacock in the Scotsman (page 24) comments that the Calman Commission should learn from the mistakes the Kilbrandon Commission made in 1973.

Terror detention: Gordon Brown will “stand firm” in calling for an increase in the number of days terror suspects can be held without charge from 28 days to 42. Writing in the Times (page 24), the Prime Minister sets out the Governments position on why the increase to 42 days is necessary. However, he is facing a backbench revolt over the plans, which threatens to further undermine his authority amongst Labour MPs. Opposition parties have also refused to support the move. The plan was further undermined when former Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith claimed the move would threaten “fundamental freedoms.” (Sun page 2, Telegraph page 4, Guardian page 1, Herald page 6, Sunday Herald page 2, Times page 1, Courier page 2, P&J page 12)

Brown an “electoral liability:” Alan Milburn, a former cabinet minister and former Blair ally, writing in the Sunday Times (page 19) argues that the way forward for the Labour Party should be should be to give people greater control over their own lives. He also claimed Gordon Brown has failed to set out “a coherent long term strategy for governing.” and claimed it was not now clear “what the Labour Party stands for.” (See also Monday’s Telegraph page 4).

Peerages: The Labour Party’s former chief fundraiser Lord Levy, the man who was arrested and questioned by police over the so-called Cash for Peerages scandal has admitted that the rich could increase their chances of gaining such an honour by donating money to political parties. (Telegraph page 4)

SNP complacency: Ian Macwhirter writing in the Sunday Herald (page 29) advises the SNP and Alex Salmond against the dangers of what he sees as “boredom and complacency.”

Tory chairman: The new chairman of the Scottish Conservatives has faced more questions about alleged discrepancies on his CV, after it emerged that he falsely claimed he was a professor. (Sunday Herald page 17)

MSP homes: New rules for MSP expenses means that around 30 MSPs will have to dispose of their second homes in Edinburgh if they wish to make future expense claims. The abolition of the Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance means MSPs will no longer be able to claim for second homes in the capital. Instead MSPs will have to rent accommodation or stay in hotels if they want the costs to be met by the tax payer. (Sunday Herald page 15, Daily Express page 2)

Prime Minister: The Justice Secretary Jack Straw yesterday said that to remove the Prime Minister for the second time without consulting voters would be unconstitutional. (Daily Express page 4, P&J page 12)

Civil Service: In an interview in the Scotland on Sunday (page 2) John Swinney outlines his plans to launch ‘Scotland performs’, based on ‘Virginia performs’, which tracked the progress on how the US state was doing in meeting a number of targets from unemployment to air quality.