Daily Political Media Summary: 2 July 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.


House Prices: The cost of buying a home in Scotland rose by 0.6% in 2008, figures for the Nationwide showed yesterday. However despite this the market did show signs of weakening as analysts warned that Scotland was not “entirely immune to the downward force hitting the entire British market.” (Herald page 2, Scotsman page 8, Daily Mail page 11)

Increased protection for savers: Chancellor Alistair Darling yesterday unveiled proposals to increase the protection available to customers who lose money when a bank collapses. At present, if a bank collapses savings are protected up to a maximum of £35,000, under new proposals this will be increased to £50,000, with customers receiving compensation within a week. (Herald page 3, Times page 37, Daily Express page 7, Daily Mail page 8, Courier page 6, FT page 3)

10p tax rate: A planned rebellion by a small group of Labour MPs, who are still not satisfied with the compensation package put forward by Chancellor Alistair Darling, has been scrapped after leading rebel David Taylor decided not to table an amendment to the government motion. (Herald page 6)

NCR axe 50 more jobs: Cash machine manufacturer NCR announced a reduction of 50 jobs at its site in Dundee yesterday. This is in addition to the 650 job cuts that were announced eighteen months ago. (Scotsman page 7, Courier page 1, 3)

Income Tax: The number of people paying the top rate of income tax has almost doubled since Labour came to power in 1997. The rise has been attributed to the fact that the level at which the higher 40 per cent rate is paid has not risen with wage increases. (Daily Telegraph page 1-2)

Car Tax: Motorists who choose to renew their car tax early in order to beat the new rates due to be introduced in April 2009 will be prevented from doing so by new legislation to be debated by MPs today. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) is due to double for the most polluting cars, with some people facing bills of up to £400 by 2010. The Conservatives estimate that approximately 2.3 million people will lose out as a result of the changes (Daily Telegraph page 2, Guardian page 7, Sun page 2, FT page 2)


Prison Sentences:
Former First Minister Henry McLeish has recommended that all shorter prison sentences be scrapped in favour of simplified and tougher community sentences. The Scottish Government’s Prisons Commission, headed by McLeish said “community sentences must be tougher than jail and must start on the day of the conviction, as prison terms do.” The report came as it emerged that the SNP government plans to halve Scotland’s prison population by releasing up to 4,000 prisoners serving six months or less, a move which provoked outrage from opposition parties. (Herald page 1, Douglas Fraser in the Herald page 13, Scotsman page 1, 4-5, Daily Record page 1-2, Times page 5, Bill Aitken in the Daily Express, Daily Express page 1,4, Daily Telegraph page 1, Daily Mirror page 6, Sun page 1, 8-9, Daily Mail page 10, Courier page 2, P&J page 12)

Foreign criminals: Figures released by the Home Office yesterday showed that the number of foreign criminals being deported from the UK rose by 22% when compared with 2007. In total 2,417 offenders were deported. The Home Office was heavily criticised in 2006, when it emerged that over 1,000 foreign criminals had been released from prison without being considered for deportation. (Herald page 4)

Lawyer acquitted: Human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar was yesterday acquitted of contempt of court. He was held on the charges after comments he made during the trial of Clackmannanshire terror suspect Atif Siddique. (Daily Record page 29, Times page 5, Daily Express page 5, Daily Telegraph page 8, Guardian page 12, Sun page 21, Daily Mail page 31, Courier page 9, P&J page 9)

Police forced to apologise: Tayside Police has apologised over its adverts for a new non-emergency contact number which offended Muslims. The advert which contained a puppy was condemned by some in the Muslim community for containing the animal which is seen as “ritually unclean” by followers of the faith. (Daily Record page 17, Daily Telegraph page 11, Daily Mirror page 6, Sun page 25, Daily Mail page 9, Courier page 1, 6, P&J page 7)


Disabled children: Ross Lydall writing in the Scotsman (page 24) comments on Holyrood’s decision to allocate £34 million to the freezing of council tax instead of its intended target, a scheme which provides wheelchairs and weekend breaks to disabled children. The abolition of the ring-fencing policy means that the Scottish Government cannot now oblige local councils to spend the money on specific schemes.

Merger creates leading nutrition centre: Scotland will soon have one of the world’s leading centres in nutrition following the merger of two institutions. The Rowett Research Institute has joined with the University of Aberdeen to create one of the world’s best equipped nutrition centres. (Herald page 8)

Cancer Centre: Public Health Minister Shona Robison has been criticised by the Conservatives for failing to address concerns about the future of one of the UK’s leading cancer centres. The Conservatives have claimed that the Scottish Photodynamic Centre in Dundee could “die on its feet” if Health Boards are allowed to stop sending patients there over funding concerns. (P&J page 6)


Part time grant: A new grant which aims to support more than 20,000 part time students became available yesterday. Under the scheme, new and existing students earning less than £18,000 per year and studying 50 per cent or more of a full time course will be entitled to a grant of £500. (P&J page 12)

Local Government

Trump inquiry tours proposed site: The inquiry into Donald Trump’s proposed luxury golf resort in Aberdeenshire visited the proposed site yesterday. (Scotsman page 9)


West Lothian question: The Conservative Party’s Democracy Taskforce headed by former Chancellor Ken Clarke published its recommendations on the so called ‘West Lothian question’ yesterday. Clarke put forward what he called “a neat, effective and sensible solution” to the conundrum which allows all Westminster MPs to vote on all legislation regardless of whether it applies to just England. For many this has resulted in a democratic deficit. Under the proposals, a designated ‘English only bill’ will be forwarded by the speaker, all MPs could then vote after the first debate, however by the time it reaches the detailed committee stage only English MPs would be able to vote. (Herald page 6, Ian Bell in the Herald page 15, Burning Issue in the Scotsman page 23, Scotsman page 6, Peter Riddell in the Times, Guardian page 11, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 8, Courier page 10, P&J page 13, FT page 2)

Salmond accuses Labour of panic: First Minister Alex Salmond yesterday accused Scottish Labour of being in a “blind panic” over the upcoming Glasgow East by-election. The contest is due to be held on July 24 which clashes with the Glasgow Fair holiday, something which the SNP sees as a deliberate attempt to remove voters from the process. Labour rejected these suggestions calling them “ill-judged nonsense.” (Herald page 6)

Labour leadership: Glasgow Cathcart MSP Charlie Gordon, who resigned his front bench job over the Wendy Alexander donations scandal, has begun to seek support for a possible bid for the Scottish Labour leadership. Gordon is the third MSP in as many days to declare an interest in the top job, along with Cathy Jamieson and Margaret Curran. This comes as recent reports suggest that the contest itself maybe postponed in order to concentrate resources on the upcoming Glasgow East by-election. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 17, Times page 3, Daily Telegraph page 8, Alan Massie in the Daily Mail page 14, Daily Mail page 2, Courier page 8, P&J page 9, FT page 2)

Kerr to quit race: Andy Kerr, for many the favourite to succeed Wendy Alexander as Scottish Labour leader is reportedly close to announcing that he will not run in the upcoming leadership contest due to concerns about his young family. (Daily Record page 6)