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Daily Political Media Summary: 16 July 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Inflation: Consumers have been warned to brace themselves for at least another two years of price rises as inflation reached 3.8 per cent, the highest level for 11 years. The figure was higher than expected and made the prospect of interest rate cuts by the Bank of England less likely. It is now feared that inflation, measured by the consumer price index (CPI) could peak at 5.1 per cent and take as long as 2 years to fall back to the government target of 2 per cent. The news was followed by a call from Chancellor Alistair Darling for wage restraint. (Scotsman page 6, Daily Express page 2, Telegraph page 2, Herald page 1, Mirror page 7, Mail page 6, Record page 8, Times page 34, FT page 1)

Recession fears: Fears of a global recession had a heavy impact on worldwide share and oil prices yesterday. The FTSE 100 suffered a fall of 2.4 per cent, to close at its lowest level since October 2005. Oil prices fell by over $10 a barrel; the sharpest daily fall in prices for over 3 years. (Guardian page 23)

Quality of life: A new survey has found that British people have one of the lowest qualities of life in Europe, despite earning approximately £10,000 a year more than their continental counterparts. The high retirement age, too few public holidays, miserable weather and the higher cost of living have been cited as the main contributors. (Scotsman page 13)

Housing market: Scottish house builders and estate agents are turning to the rental sector in a bid to lessen their losses. The ongoing credit crunch has seen widespread job losses in the house building sector and now looks set to hit estate agents as well. Glasgow estate agent Clyde Properties yesterday revealed it had made a number of redundancies in its business, including the loss of 3 directors. (Scotsman page 29)

Childcare: Save the Children has warned that almost a quarter of parents on low incomes cannot keep a job because of the cost of childcare in Scotland. (Herald page 10)

National phone and email database: Plans to hold details of every call and email and the time spent on the internet by the public are being discussed by the government for inclusion in legislation later this year. (Herald page 1, Mail page 2)

Young Scots too stressed to work: More than 11,000 under 25s are receiving incapacity benefit due to ‘behavioural and mental’ problems including a 40% increase in the number claiming the benefit due to stress. (Mail page 1)

Crime

Bail breaches: The current and previous Scottish Government have been accused of being a ‘soft touch’ on criminals, after recent government figures showed there were almost 11,000 bail breaches in Scotland last year. (Daily Express page 28, Record page 6)

Police: An investigation by the Daily Record revels that 27 police officers in the last five years have avoided misconduct inquires by retiring and keeping their pension. (Record page 6)

Fish suppers for accused: Reliance guards are being sent to chip shops to collect free fish and chips and prisoners held in cells over lunch time. (Record page 1)

Knife Crime: Dorothy-Grace Elder in the Express (page 16) argues that knife crime is not being tackled effectively enough by politicians both north and south of the border.

Health

Breast Cancer: A new report has found that encouraging women to systematically examine themselves for signs of breast cancer does not reduce deaths from disease. Findings from the international body the Cochrane Collaboration also found that the common practice of self-examination could be doing more harm than good as it increases the number of women undergoing biopsies which do not turn out to be cancer. (Scotsman page 1, 4-5, Record page 6)

Margo MacDonald: Stephen McGinty in the Scotsman (pages 22-23) interviews MSP and Parkinson’s disease sufferer Margo MacDonald about her views on euthanasia and the right die, soon to be told in a BBC Scotland documentary. (Herald page 9, Mail page 34, Courier page 6)

Politics

Independence: John Mason, the SNP candidate for the Glasgow East by-election faced criticism yesterday after indicating that the SNP would not take no for an answer in any future independence referendum. Using a wedding analogy, Mr Mason claimed “when you ask someone to marry you, you sometimes have to persist.” These views contradict those of Alex Salmond who has always maintained an independence referendum is a “once in a generation event.” (Scotsman page 8, Telegraph page 9, Times page 5)

Glasgow East: Crime and fuel poverty were at the top of the agenda in the Glasgow East by-election campaign yesterday. Labour candidate Margaret Curran was joined by Taggart actor John Mitchie as she sought to outline her position on crime and anti-social behaviour. Meanwhile, it also emerged that SNP candidate John Mason has written to the Chancellor Alistair Darling urging him to enact an eight point plan on fuel poverty. (Daily Express page 4, Simon Heffer in the Telegraph page 18, Courier page 9, Herald page 6, Robbie Dinwoodie in the Herald, Allan Massie in the Mail, Mail page 4, Record page 2)

David Cameron: In a specially written article for the Telegraph (page B5) Conservative leader David Cameron gives his assessment on the government’s handling of the ongoing credit crunch and what his party would do to help limit its effects. Cameron’s comments came the day after he refused to rule out tax rises in the first term of a Conservative government, instead saying he “hoped” tax rises would not be necessary. (Telegraph opinion page 19, Focus on David Cameron in the Guardian pages 1-2, G2, Guardian editorial page 30, FT page 2).

Gordon Brown: Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian (page 27) gives his assessment of Gordon Brown.

Fire-fighters strike: Fire-fighters in Grampian are due to stage a walkout in protest over the sacking of a colleague for being too fat. Kevin Ogilvie was dismissed 2 weeks ago after failing the annual fitness test and being deemed unfit to carry out his duties. The Fire Brigades Union argues he should have been transferred to a more suitable role. (Courier page 2, Herald page 8, Mail page 6)

Labour Spring conference: The Labour Party has cancelled its spring conference next year as it struggles to get its finances under control. (Herald page 6, Courier page 10)

Lib Dem leadership: Lib Dem leadership hopeful Mike Rumbles MSP has called for the Scottish Parliament to raise all the money it spends. The front runner to replace Nicol Stephen as leader, Tavish Scott, launched his campaign yesterday. (Mail page 4, Times page 15, Courier page 9)