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Daily Political Media Summary: 13 August 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy

Inflation: Yesterday it was announced that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) had reached 4.4%, the highest level for 16 years. The figure is up from 3.8 per cent in June and has largely been attributed to the rise in cost of key staples such as bread, meat and cereals. It is also less likely that the Bank of England will cut interest rates to aid the slow down in the economy. (Scotsman page 1, Burning issue in the Scotsman, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Sun page 2, Herald page 1, Herald Business page 1, Times page 3, Daily Express page 7, Daily Mirror page 6, Guardian page 3, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 10, Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail page 10, P&J page 1, Courier page 17, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1)

Unemployment: Unemployment figures are released today and are expected to make uncomfortable reading for the government. The OECD has predicted the figure to reach 5.8 per cent, with skilled tradesman and construction worker expected to bear the brunt of the job losses. (Guardian page 25, Daily Record page 2)

House prices: Scottish house prices are beating the credit crunch and continuing to rise according to a new report. The Scottish House Price Monitor has found that the average value of a house north of the border rose by £2,712 over the past three months. (Daily Mail page 2, P&J page 9, Courier page 1)

Highland tourism: Lib Dem leadership hopeful Tavish Scot MSP and Danny Alexander MP yesterday called on the Scottish Government to do more to help Highland tourism during the credit crunch. (P&Jpage 6)

Crime

Rape compensation: Ruth Wishart in the Herald (page 13) comments on the recent legal challenge by rape victims, who had their compensation awards reduced by one quarter after it emerged they had been drinking prior to the incident. For Wishart the situation “shames Scottish justice.”

Sex offenders: Fewer than one in 100 sex offenders living in communities are intensively monitored by the police. Critics argue that supervision of convicted rapists and paedophiles is almost “non-existent” because police do not have the time or resources to needed to watch them. Chief constable of Strathclyde police Stephen House has claimed police are only just about to cope with keeping checks on such offenders due to a host of other demands. (Daily Mail page 4)

Transport

BAA: Further speculation about the possibility of BAA selling off either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport. The Herald (page 1) reports that the Spanish owners of BAA, Ferrovial will be ready to sell Glasgow airport within a month, in a bid to avoid a full scale break up of its operations by the Competition Commission.(Scotsman page 9, P&J page 7)

Education

Student debt: Students in Scotland are facing soaring levels of debt due to the credit crunch according to a survey by the Bank of Scotland. It was also revealed that students in Edinburgh and London pay more for alcohol than anywhere else in the UK. (Scotsman page 8, Sun page 2)

Health

Surgery opening hours: NHS24 said yesterday that its bosses were in discussions to see how they tempt GPs to open during holiday periods to improve access to primary care. At the same time Nicola Sturgeon has ordered NHS 24 to cut staff sickness absence levels (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 5, Daily Record page 2, P&J page 10, Courier page 3)

Cancer drug: British researchers have announced dramatic progress in the battle against breast cancer by revealing a technique which can stop the growth of a tumour. The technique has proved hugely successful on mice and hopes have been raised about its effectiveness on humans. (Daily Express page 1, 7, Daily Mail page 2)
Local Government

Chairman urged to quit: The chairman of Scotland’s leading regeneration agency and a prospective SNP candidate has been urged to step down after it emerged he had taken a position with a rival development body in South East England. Robert Crawford, chairman of the Clyde Gateway board has been appointed by the South East England Development Agency. (Times page 5)

Politics

John MacDougall: MP for Glenrothes, John MacDougall, has died following a long illness. He held the seat for Labour at the 2005 election with over 50% of the vote and a majority of over 10,000 over the SNP. (BBC News Online)

Scottish Labour leadership: Further coverage of the contest. Iain Gray’s campaign was given a boost yesterday when he was endorsed by trade union Unite. Fellow candidate Cathy Jamieson has called for shop and pub staff to be given the same legal protection as emergency workers. (Scotsman page 11, Sun page 2, Herald page 6, Times page 5, Daily Record page 6, P&J page 10, Courier page 11, Alan Massie in the Mail)

Lib Dem leadership: Leadership candidate Ross Finnie yesterday admitted Scottish voters do not think his party matters. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland alongside other candidates, Tavish Scott and Mike Rumbles, Mr Finnie argued the next leader must persuade voters Lib Dem policies were relevant. (Sun page 2, Herald page 6)

Conservatives: Conservative leader David Cameron has played down accusations that his party is smug after rebuking Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague for declaring the party was likely to win the next General Election. Mr Cameron also attacked the government for what he sees as its recklessness over the uncertainty over stamp duty. (Sun page 2, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 2, FT page 2)

Labour finances: The Labour Party has staved off the threat of bankruptcy after it managed to restructure its loans and persuade key backers to defer repayment of their loans until 2015. The party has been hoping to persuade those who lent money to the party, which sparked the subsequent cash for honours scandal, to turn their loans in to donations, however only two out of the eleven lenders agreed to do so. (Times page 21)

Think Tank report: A think tank which is closely tied to the Conservative Party has claimed that northern cities such as Liverpool, Bradford and Sunderland have “little prospect of offering residents the standard of living they aspire.” Policy Exchange suggested that inhabitants of such cities should move to the South East or London to achieve a better standard of living. The report comes as David Cameron begins a tour of marginal northern constituencies. (Daily Mirror page 15, Guardian page 15)

Opinion poll: An SNP-commissioned Yougov poll gives the SNP a 19% lead over Labour and would see all Labour leadership contenders losing their seats if replicated at the next Scottish election. (Courier page 3)