Daily Political Media Summary: 19 August 2008

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions.

Economy
Pensions Written-Off: The Tories yesterday claimed that as many as 2m pensioners will have £100 written off as a result of inflation, the equivalent of the rise in the pension credit. (Guardian page 13, Daily Express page 4)

Scotland’s Economy: Alf Young in the Herald compares the respective performances of both the Scottish and the UK economy.

House prices: According to Savills, the property consultant, Scotland and the south-east of England are expected to bounce back fastest from the housing market slump while other parts of the UK will take as much as six years longer. (FT page 4)

Crime
Drink ban: Men accused of domestic abuse face being banned from drinking alcohol under radical plans being considered by the Crown Office. (Scotsman page 1, Daily Express page 4, Herald page 2)

Human Trafficking: A New report by Amnesty International states that human trafficking is prevalent in Scotland, and highlights that fact that to date, no one has been convicted of the crime in Scotland. The report also outlines concerns about the lack of suitable accommodation and support for victims. (Herald page 1)

Fixed Penalty Fines: Kenny MacAskill has defended secret guidelines telling prosecutors which crimes to fine offenders for, and for which crimes they should be sent to court. He has also been forced to admit that there has been the ‘odd mistake’ in letting off violent criminals with menial fines. The comments have sparked criticism from groups working with the victims of crime. (Times page 13, Courier and Advertiser page 6, Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 20)

Education
Teachers Not Teaching: Teachers have been taken out of classrooms to make way for new graduate recruits who have been promised a one year probationary post. The government error is thought to be costing taxpayers around £46m a year. (Daily Mail page 1 and 4)

Social Research: In the Guardian, Polly Toynbee comments on the value of social research within the UK and the lessons that the UK Government need to take from it.

Health
Addiction Centre: Nicola Sturgeon yesterday officially opened a new centre at Gartnavel Royal Hospital in Glasgow for the treatment of those suffering with drug and alcohol dependencies. (Herald page 6)

Local Government
Strike action: Andy Kerr has challenged John Swinney to prevent the threatened walk out by 200,000 council workers this week. (Scotsman page 6, Burning Issue in the Scotsman, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Express page 2, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, P&J page 1)

Housing Market: Tavish Scott of the Liberal Democrats has stated that Alex Salmond needs to take control of the Scottish housing market and to stop “dithering”. (Daily Record page 2, Courier and Advertiser page 3, P&J page 9)

Politics
UK “less fair”: George Osborne will make a speech at the Demos think-tank today accusing Labour of making the UK less fair with policies on taxes and pensions exacerbating the gaps in society. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 4, FT page 2)

Conservative policy: Business leaders have urged David Cameron to clarify Conservative policy on a number of big projects to mitigate the uncertainty facing businesses in the run up to the election. (FT page 3)

Lib Dems: Nick Clegg has set the target of capturing up to 50 additional seats at the next general election and is switching focus from targeting Conservative seats to targeting Labour ones. (FT page 3)

Cabinet Meeting: Alex Salmond will today hold a Cabinet meeting in the Perthshire town of Pitlochry. (Courier and Advertiser page 11)

Labour contest: Further coverage on the Labour leadership contest. Iain Gray’s proposed talks with the Conservatives over council tax reform have appeared to have stalled. (Hamish Macdonell in the Scotsman, Daily Mail page 2, Times page 17)

Calman Commission: The Calman Commission, the independent commission set up to study the future of devolution, will be staging roadshows across the country this year. (Courier and Advertiser page 6)

PM Change: An ICM poll has declared that a change in the leader of the UK Labour party would not stave off a defeat from the Conservatives in an election. The poll has David Cameron virtually the same number of percentage points (21) ahead of both Gordon Brown and David Milliband. (Guardian page 1, P&J page 9)

PM Criticisms: Austin Mitchell, the MP for Great Grimsby, has warned Gordon Brown that Labour is now in the “last chance saloon.” (Herald page 6)

Glenrothes by-election: Gordon Brown praised potential by-election candidate Henry McLeish at John MacDougall’s funeral yesterday fuelling speculation that the former First Minister will be Labour’s candidate. (Sun page 3)