Daily Political Media Summary: 11 August 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

£150 rebate: Gordon Brown is considering giving a £150 rebate to families on child benefit to help with the costs of rising energy bills. (Scotsman page 10, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 1, 4, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 6, Janet Daly in the Daily Telegraph page 20, Daily Telegraph page 4, Guardian page 10, Herald page 6, Courier page 9)

Stamp duty: Pressure is growing on both the Treasury and Downing Street as housing market leaders seek an end to the speculation over stamp duty. Chancellor Alistair Darling has refused to meet with estate agents for a third time, as rumours persist over a breakdown in relations between the Chancellor and Prime Minister over the uncertainty. (Times page 22)

Oil fund: More than 80 per cent of Scots support Scotland receiving a share of North Sea oil revenue according to an SNP commissioned survey. The results support the stance of First Minister Alex Salmond who has long called for the establishment of an oil fund for Scotland, similar to that seen in Norway. Such a fund could add an extra £500 million to the Scottish budget. (Daily Express page 2)

Economic outlook: The downturn in the UK economy is worse than previously thought according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI). CBI Director General, Richard Lambert, said the economic growth prospects for next year and into 2010 “look no better than anaemic” as he warned members to expect “uncomfortable times ahead.” (Herald page 1, P&J page 16)

Bank profits: Britain’s leading banks were yesterday accused of exploiting its British customers after it emerged that they made £500 million from them than they did a year ago. Bank profits have slumped to record lows in the past year as a result of the credit crunch; nevertheless they have been able to claw more back as a result of higher charges on domestic products such as mortgages and credit cards. (Daily Telegraph page 1, 4)

Manufacturing recession: UK manufacturing is on the brink of recession stoking fears of deterioration in the private economy in Scotland. The KPMG business outlook survey found that only Spanish and Irish businesses are more pessimistic about future economic conditions. (Herald Business page 1)

Crime

Police chief: The chief constable of Strathclyde police, Scotland’s biggest police force, has claimed the Scottish justice system is a “soft touch.” Stephen House has attacked what he sees as the trend in convicted criminals receiving fines and the SNP’s early release policy. (Daily Mail page 1, 2, Gillian Bowditch in the Sunday Times (page 19) comments on last week’s calls by Stephen House for a DNA database of all Scots.)

Transport

Forth road bridge: Campaigners and environmental groups yesterday proclaimed “fresh vigour” in their campaign against the construction of a second forth road bridge after receiving the “strongest signal yet” that the current bridge can be saved. (Herald page 9, Sunday Herald page 10)

Education

Teaching jobs: A teaching union has warned that Scotland is on course for a teaching crisis, as thousands of newly qualified graduates chase only a handful of jobs. The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) also voiced concerns over the Scottish Government’s promise to have 20,000 new teachers in training by 2011. (Daily Express page 8, Times page 17, Sunday Herald page 12)

Highers results: Recently released figures have shown that some Highers students were awarded passes despite getting more than half of the answers wrong. Some students were awarded Highers certificates with scores of 43 per cent. This comes amongst talk of a record number of passes this year. Critics however have voiced concerns about the standard of education. (Sun page 15)

School tradesmen: Parents groups have attacked plans to force tradesmen working in schools to undergo background checks. The plans, part of an overhaul of Scotland’s child protection system, could see plumbers, electricians, speakers and any adult visiting schools more than once a year facing checks. (Sun page 2)

Identity system: Thousand of pupils face being finger printed under a new identity scheme. The controversial proposal, which has alarmed both parents and politicians, could affect up to 8,000 school children across East Dunbartonshire. The local authority has defended the plans claiming it will help monitor attendance, buying of school meals and borrowing library books. (Daily Express page 6)

Exam results: School pupils in Glasgow have achieved their highest results ever following an intensive focus on literacy and numeracy by the local authority. Official figures show that attainment in the ‘three R’s’ in both primary and secondary pupils has risen steadily year on year and closed the gap on other local authorities in Scotland. (Herald page 1)

Health

Exercise: The amount of daily exercise needed to maintain a healthy lifestyle has been trebled to 90 minutes per day. New guidelines from the NHS Health Scotland are based on revised guidelines issued in the US. (Daily Express page 17, Daily Record page 18, Katie Grant in the Daily Mail page 14)

Return of matron: Scottish hospitals have been advised to bring cleaning back ‘in house’ in a bid to prevent the spread of superbugs and improve standards of cleanliness. The ‘back to basics’ call from Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon also signalled the possible return of matrons to hospital wards. (Daily Mail page 13)

Hand transplant: British doctors are close to carrying out Britain’s first hand transplant at the Royal Free Hospital in North London. Europe’s first voice box transplant is also being carried out at the same hospital. (Daily Telegraph page 1)

Alcohol deaths: There has been a big increase in the number of Scots under 40 being treated for alcoholic liver disease in the last five years. (Sunday Post page 1)

Anti-drink drive: Joan McAlpine in the Sunday Times (Ecosse page 8) comments on Kenny MacAskill’s anti-drink drive and argues that drinking needs they same tough approach that was given to tackling smoking.

Local Government

Local taxation: All three contenders in the Scottish Labour leadership contest have stated that they support replacing the council tax with a different form of local taxation. (Scotsman page 6, Hamish Macdonell in the Scotsman, Herald page 6, courier page 3, P&Jpage 9, Sunday Herald page 22)

Donald Trump: A number of leading Scottish business leaders have joined forces to back Donald Trumps’ £1 billion golf resort in Aberdeenshire. A decision on whether to allow the American tycoon to build the resort is expected from the Scottish Government this week. (Daily Express page 17, Daily Mail page 19, Daily Telegraph page 14, Herald page 7, Courier page 3, P&J page 7)

Right to buy: The right of council house tenants to buy their property at heavily discounted prices could be revoked under new Scottish Government proposals. The right would however continue for existing tenants. Housing charity Shelter welcomed the plans. (Daily Record page 2, Sunday Herald page 7)

Councillor travel expenses: North Lanarkshire councillor Charles Cefferty is in the middle of an expenses row after claiming 54,000 miles in work related car travel expenses between April 2006 and April 2008, enough to travel twice round the world. (Scotland on Sunday page 11, Sun page 29)

Politics

Scottish Labour party: Former First Minister Henry McLeish has called for the new leader of the Scottish Labour party to be given more autonomy. The call coincides with an SNP commissioned poll which found that Cathy Jamieson is the most recognisable leadership contender. A total of 58 per cent said they knew something or a lot about Ms Jamieson, compared with 19 per cent for Iain Gray and 34 per cent for Andy Kerr. SNP chief whip Stewart Hosie said the poll showed the leadership race was “a contest of the invisibles.” (Scotsman page 6, Sun page 2, Daily Express page 4, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 10, Daily Telegraph page 14, Times page 17, Courier page 3, P&J page 9, Henry McLeish in the Sunday Times, Kenny Farquharson in the Scotland on Sunday, Interview with Andy Kerr in the Scotland on Sunday page 14, Sunday Herald page 22)

Alan Johnson: Heath Secretary Alan Johnson is emerging as a key figure in the Labour leadership crisis at Westminster after a new survey found that Labour must drop Gordon Brown before the next election to stand any chance of winning. Relations between the Prime Minister and Mr Johnson have apparently soured after embryology legislation was pulled at the last minute in a bid to woo Catholic voters in the Glasgow East by-election. Mr Johnson is rumoured to be considering forming a ‘dream ticket’ with leadership favourite David Miliband. (Daily Mail page 10, Daily Telegraph page 4, John Harris in the Guardian page 27)

Alex Salmond: A survey has found that more than half of the Scottish public believe Alex Salmond is a better leader than Gordon Brown. The YouGov survey commissioned by the SNP found 52 per cent thought the First Minister was doing a better job than the Prime Minister and the Scottish Government cared more about the needs of families. (Sun page 2)

Bill of Rights: An influential Westminster committee has called for a UK Bill of Rights which goes further than present Human Rights legislation. The cross party committee on Human Rights has claimed that such a Bill should take in new areas of international Human Rights and contain a specific guarantee of the right to asylum. (Daily Telegraph page 10)

Conservatives: The Conservative conference will include a session on preparing for government. (FT page 2)

Holyrood supporting Mugabe: An investigation by the Scotland on Sunday (page 1) reveals that the Scottish Parliament pension fund has been invested in firms which have been criticised for their close links to Zimbabwe and Robert Mugabe.

Lib Dem leadership: Jenny Hjul in the Sunday Times (page 16) comments on the on-going Lib Dem leadership contest arguing that unlike Labour, the Lib Dems have a clear contender, Tavish Scott, and a proposal to maintain the UK based on a more federal state.