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Daily Political Media Summary: 7 July 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Scottish economy: Economists have predicted that growth in the Scottish economy will exceed the rest of the UK in 2009 and 2010, raising hopes that Scotland is more resilient to the tough global financial conditions than the rest of the UK. Experts did however warn that Scotland could be outperformed by other parts of the UK in 2011. (Herald page 4, P&J page 16)

Fuel duty: The Conservatives yesterday unveiled plans for a “fair fuel duty regulator” which they claim would have cut petrol prices by 5p a litre if introduced in March this year. The system would work by cutting the duty when fuel prices are high and increasing it when prices are low, which the Conservatives claim will mean the government would “share the pain” of fuel rises. (Scotsman page 11, Telegraph page 1, 4, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 6, Daily Mail page 8, Guardian page 10, Times page 5, FT page 2, Courier page 12, P&J page 5)

Interest rates to remain on hold: The Bank of England is expected to leave interest rates on hold at 5 per cent this week, despite the concerns about rising levels of inflation and speculation of a split in the Monetary Policy Committee. (Daily Telegraph page B2)

Recession fears: Roger Bootle writing in the Telegraph (page B2) analyses the prospect of a recession in the UK economy, arguing that after Marks and Spencer’s poor figures last week “all the signs of a recession are here ” and making the prediction that “it could be five years before things return to normal.”

Threat to drinks trade: The Scottish drinks trade is under threat from a proposed EU ban on pesticides, leading many to believe that producers may in future have to import the crucial ingredients, such as wheat, needed to make beer and white spirits. (Sunday Post page 2)

Health

NHS fears: A survey by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found that half of all patients believe they will have to pay for NHS treatment within 10 years. The BMA which is holding its annual conference in Edinburgh found that despite a majority believing the NHS should remain free, many also expect to have to pay for services within a decade. One fifth of those who took part in the survey were from Scotland. The BMA has also called for an end to the glamorisation of smoking, arguing for more stringent guidelines on the portrayal of smoking on TV and in films. It also called for anti-smoking adverts to be shown in cinemas before the beginning of films. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 7, Telegraph page 14, Guardian page 8, Times page 9)

Superbug scanner: Scientists in Scotland have developed a so called ‘superbug scanner’ which could deter lethal bacteria in less than an hour. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh believe the new equipment could be used to fight deadly bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile known as C.diff. (Daily Mail page 1, 4)

Local Government

Edinburgh could lose World Heritage Status: Edinburgh is in danger of losing its World Heritage Status after Unesco launched an official inquiry. Delegates from the world heritage committee, meeting yesterday in Quebec City, are said to be concerned by the handling of the Caltongate development in the city’s Old Town, which went ahead despite 1,800 objections. (Scotsman page 9)

Politics

Broadcasting: Scottish Labour has expressed its opposition to plans to devolve broadcasting powers from Westminster to Holyrood, fearing the move could lead to the breakup of the BBC. The party also claims the devolution of broadcasting would lead to either an increase in the licence fee or “more likely a massive cut in the breadth and quality of programming we would access.” This comes after Labour accused BBC Scotland of showing a “pro-nationalist bias” in their political coverage. Journalists who used phrases such as ‘London government’ have been accused of trying to inflame anti-UK opinion and should be given ‘neutrality training.’ (Herald page 6, Herald page 13, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Times page 5, P&J page 7, Scotland on Sunday page 1-2, Sunday Times page 12, Sunday Herald page 15)

Glasgow East: The Labour Party will today select their candidate for the upcoming Glasgow East by-election. It emerged over the weekend that Margaret Curran; the Glasgow Baillieston MSP had been persuaded to put herself forward for nomination, after a number of candidates including Councillor George Ryan and Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell ruled themselves out. (Herald page 1-2, 6-7, Scotsman page 8, Daily Mirror page 2, Daily Record page 1-2, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mail page 6, Sunday Post page 1-2, Guardian page 4, Times page 12, Courier page 1-2, Scotland on Sunday page 4-5, Sunday Herald page 1-2)

Gordon Brown: Labour MPs’ have warned Gordon Brown that his “future as Prime Minister will be at stake” during the Glasgow East by-election. Some within the party have expressed the view that if Labour loses its 13,500 majority on July 24th, there will be “no way back.” Some have also indicated that even a win will not be enough to save the under pressure Brown. (Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph, Sun page 1-2, Courier page 1-2, P&J page 9, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times)

Lib Dem leadership: Hamish Macdonell writing in the Scotsman (page 11) analyses the impact of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system of voting the Liberal Democrats use to select their leaders. It also emerged yesterday that two more MSPs have joined the contest to be Lib Dem leader. Tavish Scott and Ross Finnie will today announce that they are entering the contest to succeed Nicol Stephen. (Scotsman page 11, Katie Grant in the Daily Mail, P&J page 9, Sunday Post page 15, Sunday Herald page 2, James Mitchell in the Sunday Herald)

Labour leadership: It has been reported that Gordon Brown will endorse Iain Gray as Scottish Labour leader, propelling him to front runner in the race to succeed Wendy Alexander as leader of the opposition in Holyrood. Meanwhile conflicting reports suggest that former Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson is the ‘surprise’ frontrunner for the job. (Daily Express page 4, Sunday Times page 4)

Civil servant bonuses: Independence: SuThere was widespread condemnation of the government yesterday after it emerged that civil servants had been paid £128 million in bonuses over the past year. The figure equates to approximately £7,000 each, despite a number of serious errors and breaches of security. (Daily Express page 2, Daily Mail page 16)

Independence: Support for independence in Scotland has fallen according to the first opinion poll since the end of the SNP first parliamentary session in office. The TNS survey showed that 39 per cent want independence, a figure which is down 2 per cent in the last three months but up 4 per cent when compared with last August. This however was compared with 41 per cent who oppose independence. (Sunday Herald page 2)

Harriet Harman: The Deputy leader of the Labour Party Harriett Harman is allegedly pitching for the job as Prime Minister should Gordon Brown be forced out. Rumours have surfaced that a number of backbenchers have been approached regarding her popularity and suitability for the job. (Daily Mail page 6)

MPs pay: Tom Little in the Scotland on Sunday (page 18) comments on last week’s House of Commons vote on MPs’ pay and expenses. MPs’ attracted criticism despite only awarding themselves a pay rise of 2.25%, they did however retain the much derided ‘John Lewis list’ which allows MPs to furnish second homes using their parliamentary expenses.

Public sector unrest: Iain MacWhirter writing in the Sunday Herald (page 18-19) comments on whether the country is about to face a situation similar to that of the late 1970s during the ‘winter of discontent,’ when rubbish was left uncollected and the dead were left unburied. 

Crime rate: The number of serious crimes in Scotland fell by 60,000 over the past twelve months new crime figures have shown. Recorded crime in Scotland has fallen consistently across Scotland with a year on year reduction of 6 per cent. Total crime is now at its lowest level since 2000. (Scotsman page 1, 4-5)