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Daily Political Media Summary: 21 July 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.


Economy

Renewable energy: Professor Ali Sayigh, Chairman of the World Renewable Energy Congress thinks Scotland could lead the world in the research and development of renewable energy sources. (Scotsman page 8)

Unemployment: An influential economic think tank has warned that unemployment may reach 2 million by 2010. The Ernst and Young ITEM Club also claims that the UK is heading for an economic ‘horror movie’ with consumer spending growth slowing to zero in 2009. (Daily Mirror page 4, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 16, Telegraph page 1)

Interest rates: A top Bank of England adviser has warned that that the UK is falling in to a recession that could be “deep and painful” unless interest rates are cut sharply. David Blanchflower, a member of the BoE Monetary Policy Committee has also warned that hundreds of thousands of people could lose their jobs. (Guardian page 21, Libby Purves in the Times page 22)

Credit crunch: James Cusick in the Sunday Herald (page 33) speculates over whether Gordon Brown is experiencing a summer of discontent.

Foreign profits: The Chancellor is expected to this week scrap contentious reforms to the taxation of foreign profits that had led to a threatened exodus of companies from the UK. (FT page 1)

Crime

Sentences: Criminals in Scottish courts may be receiving inappropriate sentences due to their offender backgrounds being “misconstrued and misunderstood.” A report by the Centre for Sentencing Research found “serious failures of communication” in the production and use of reports which could be the difference between a custodial and community sentence. (Herald page 1, 2)

Knife crime: The Scotland on Sunday (page 13) carried out a special investigation into Glasgow’s knife culture.

Transport

Rail link: Efforts for a high speed rail link between Edinburgh and London were intensified last night as an influential committee of MPs called on the government to “consider very seriously the building of high speed lines.” The House of Commons Transport Committee report said urgent decisions were needed in order to tackle congestion on other routes, including the East Coast Main Line to Aberdeen. (P&J page 1, Telegraph page 2)

Education

Bad teachers: New powers which allow Scotland’s General Teaching Council to hold disciplinary hearings on incompetence and strike off bad teachers will be used for the first time next month. (Scotsman page 7)


Health

Pills for cancer: John Smyth, Professor of medical oncology at Edinburgh University has called for more money and greater emphasis to be given to palliative care in the treatment of cancer rather than prescribing more and more drugs. (Scotsman page 1)

Statins: Fears have been raised about the safety of a range of cholesterol drugs taken by more than four million patients. It is feared that users of statins, are more susceptible to contracting a rare form of lung cancer. Statins are also prescribed to sufferers of depression, sleep disturbance, memory loss and sexual problems. (Daily Express page 1, 8)

Obesity: Over 200 Scots are dying each year from extreme obesity, with as many as 1,000 people dying since 1999 according to new figures released from the General Register Office for Scotland. The figures come despite government attempts to encourage healthier living. (Daily Mail page 4)

NHS 24: Health boards officials have been accused of treating nurses like ‘battery hens’ by allegedly making them clock in and out for toilet breaks. Staffs at NHS 24, NHS Scotland’s health advice line have also protested at a ban on keeping possessions on their desks for safety reasons. (Daily Record page 1, 6)

C Diff: The number of cases of the hospital superbug known as C Diff has been halved at two hospitals after a more cautious approach was taken to the prescription of antibiotics. NHS Lothian believes that this is the reason behind the lowering of cases at the Royal Victoria Infirmary and Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. (Herald page 5, Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Drugs overdoses in children: An investigation by the Sunday Post (page 1) shows that at least 224 children under the age of 16 were hospitalised between 2002 and 2007 suffering from drug-related illnesses.


Local Government

Local income tax: John Swinney in the Scotsman (page 27) argues that replacing the council tax with a local income tax will create a fairer and wealthier Scotland. This comes as critics revealed that British troops would face ‘sky high’ bills under the SNP plan. UK Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth has warned the introduction of a local income tax would have a “damaging impact on service morale.” (Daily Mail page 18, Times page 7, Daily Express page 4, Herald page 6, P&J page 15, Telegraph page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 7)

Entertaining: Glasgow City Council have spent a massive £2.5 million on entertaining over the past 3 years, a figure which equates to £2,000 a day. Critics have condemned the council for the expenditure, arguing it would be enough to pay the salaries of 40 primary school teachers in the city. (Sun page 2)

Politics

Glasgow East by-election: Further coverage of the Glasgow East by-election. An opinion poll over the weekend put Labour on 52% with the SNP on 35%. (Scotsman page 10, Sun page 2, Katie Grant in the Daily Mail page 12, Times page 6-7, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mirror page 25, Daily Record page 2, Audrey Gillan in the Guardian page 6, P&J page 9, Courier page 3, Telegraph page 6, Scotland on Sunday page 6, Kenny Farquharson in the Scotland on Sunday, Sunday Times Ecosse page 3, Sunday Times page 1, Allan Massie in the Sunday Times, Sunday Herald page 1)

Independence referendum: It has been reported the Alex Salmond has chosen the ‘symbolic’ date of 30th November 2010 to hold a referendum on independence. Critics argue that the move is a ploy to exploit patriotic sentiment. The SNP are also hoping that other factors such as the prospect of Scotland competing for the 2010 Football World Cup will also heighten patriotism ahead of the poll. (Daily Mail page 8, Daily Record page 2)

Welfare reform: Further comment on the government’s plans to reform the welfare system. It has been reported that the reforms will be piloted first in Glasgow (Leo McKinstry in the Daily Express, Herald page 6)

Navy recruitment: A so called ‘golden hello’ is to be offered to potential recruits to the Royal Navy in an effort to encourage new sailors in to service and as an incentive to experienced staff to stay in the service. The deals could be worth between £5,000 and £25,000. (Herald page 4)