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Daily Political Media Summary: 23 July 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Passport strike: Thousands of summer holidays are at risk due to a 3 day strike by passport office workers over proposed office closures. Those waiting for passports may not get them in time and once work resumes a backlog is expected which will take days to clear. The strike will also halt the service which allows people to get a passport the same day for an extra fee. (Daily Mail page 4, Courier page 2)

Post Office closures: As many as 51 Post Offices will be closed across Western Scotland as part of the government’s closure programme. The Post Office itself has insisted that 91 per cent of customers will not be affected. (Daily Record page 12, Daily Express page 11, Herald page 9)

Failure fund: Bank of England Governor Mervyn King told MPs yesterday that banks should pay upfront to a proposed multi-billion pound ‘failure fund,’ which would compensate depositors quickly when an institution fails. (FT page 1, Guardian page 23, Herald page 27)

Consumer spending: Scottish consumer spending increased at almost four times the rate in England in June. The latest Retail Sales monitor figures increased hopes amongst analysts that Scotland is coping better with the credit crunch than the rest of the UK. (Herald Business)

Voter confidence: Voters confidence in the economy is now lower than in 1979, the period of the winter of discontent. The Ipsos-Mori also shows that Gordon Brown’s attempt to reassure the public that the country can weather the economic storm have fallen on deaf ears as 75 per cent of those asked expect things to get worse over the next year. (Herald page 1, 6, P&J page 17)

Golden rule: Irwin Stelzer in the Telegraph (page 17) argues that the Prime Minister is right to abandon the ‘golden rule’ as a limit on borrowing when the economy is in a downturn could contribute towards a recession.

Welfare: Simon Heffer in the Telegraph (page 16) comments that as welfare bills are set to soar, there is no better time take people out of dependency.

Crime

Knife crime: Youth crime, including carrying knifes has fallen in East Renfrewshire under a pilot scheme which involved bringing together teachers, police, health and social workers to discuss a young person’s offending and how to prevent them slipping into a life of crime. (Scotsman page 8)

Education

Teacher attacks: Teachers in Scotland were assaulted nearly 5,000 times last year according to a Scottish Sun investigation. (Sun page 1, 8-9)


Health

GPs to face check-ups: All of the UK’s doctors are to face annual assessments so licenses can be removed from poor performers under proposals being announced by the Chief Medical Officer today. (Scotsman page 5, Times page 1, 11)

Drug abuse: Drug abuse is to blame for much of Scotland’s higher death rate compared to the rest of the UK according to the Drug Misuse Research Centre at Glasgow University. (Scotsman page 15, Sun page 4, Times page 19)

Obesity plans: A prominent Scottish Government advisor yesterday proposed taxpayer funded ‘bribes’ as an incentive for obese Scots to lose weight. Prof Annie Anderson who advises both the Scottish and UK Governments on obesity claimed the incentives could be used towards gym membership and slimming holidays. (Daily Mail page 1, 4)


Local Government

Aberdeen cuts: The leader of Aberdeen City Council has warned that the proposed £50 million of cuts may not be enough to clear the city’s debts and more cuts may have to be made next year. (Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 25)

Local income tax: The Scottish Government’s plans for a local income tax face an ‘affordability gap’ due to the effects the economic downturn has had on tax revenues. Slowing growth in the UK economy has shown that less income tax is being paid which experts predict will leave the SNP facing a £73 million gap in its finances for the scheme. (Herald page 6)

Politics

Glasgow East: Alex Salmond yesterday declared the Glasgow East by-election a referendum on the popularity of the Westminster and Holyrood governments. Today is the last full day of campaigning before polls open tomorrow. (Scotsman page 1, Rikki Brown in the Sun page 6, Sun page 2, Alan Massie in the Daily Mail, Daily Record page 2, Times page 4, Kerry Gill in the Daily Express, Daily Express page 2, Tristram Hunt in the Guardian, Guardian page 14, Herald page 7, Courier page 6, P&J page 17, Telegraph page 1)

Margaret Thatcher: Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman (page 24) comments that fuss over whether Margaret Thatcher should have a state funeral masks a deeper problem within the political left, which should focus on developing policies for today.

Tony Blair: Tony Blair’s so called ‘farewell tour’ cost taxpayers £750,000 according to government figures published yesterday. Prior to stepping down last year, the former Prime Minister made nine overseas visits between April and June 07, which included meetings with George W Bush and the Pope. This came as it emerged Labour ministers in all spent a total of £11 million on overseas travel and chauffer driven cars last year (Daily Mail page 23, Times page 17, Daily Express page 1, 4, Telegraph page 13)

PM’s spin doctors: Gordon Brown was faced criticism last night after it emerged that the government now employs 73 spin doctors costing the taxpayers £6m a year while £560,000 has been spent on four advisers to help improve the Prime Minister’s popularity. (P&J page 1, Telegraph page 12)