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Daily Political Media Summary: 28 August 2008

Economy
Mortgage deals: Scottish Government Communities Minister Stewart Maxwell has said he would encourage moves by mortgage lenders to take into account the fact that Scotland’s housing market has not been as badly hit as south of the border. However, the Council of Mortgage Lenders rejected the idea saying that a lack of liquidity in the banking sector was the main reason mortgage criteria have tightened (Scotsman page 8)

Scottish Enterprise: Staff at the non-departmental government body Scottish Enterprise took more than 17,000 sick days last year, according to written parliamentary answers. The figures work out as 6.4 days off for each of the 2,647 staff (Scotsman page 11, Express page 19).

Interest rates: David Blanchflower, a member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, has said that only a dramatic cut interest rates can stave off the worst effects of a recession. He predicted that two million people could be jobless by Christmas (Scotsman page 29, Mail page 2, Courier page 3, P&J page 15, Telegraph page B1, Guardian page 1).

Fiscal powers: Peter Jones in the Scotsman (page 31) comments on a shift in business opinion which now seems to be more open to the Scottish Parliament having more fiscal powers.

Council of Economic Advisers: At its most recent meeting, the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers expressed concern about some of the SNP’s policy positions. It urged the First Minister to commission an independent assessment of nuclear power before ruling it out completely; it said that ministers needed to move quickly to clarify plans for a Scottish Futures Trust; and it noted the difference in attitude between those students who pay for higher education and those who do not, recommending that the government ensures that students treat education as a personal investment (Herald page 6).

Crime
Plot to kill PM: Three men questioned about an alleged plot to assassinate Gordon Brown were charged with terror offences last night (Scotsman page 6, Mirror page 7, Herald page 2, Guardian page 3).

Prison population: The Scottish Consortium on Crime and Criminal Justice has echoed the Sentencing Commission’s call for a sharp cut in the prison population (Herald page 6).

Transport
Zoom: The Scottish owned transatlantic budget airline suspended all flights yesterday and applied to go into administration blaming the rising cost of fuel (Scotsman page 7, Sun page 9, Express page 1, Mirror page 4, Herald page 1, Record page 1, Times page 15, P&J page 8).

Network Rail: The Office of Rail Regulation set Network Rail a target of reducing disruption to passengers from engineering work by 37% within five years. Engineering work overruns led to Network Rail being fined £14m at the beginning of this year (Herald page 10, P&J page 15, Guardian page 6).

Education
Probationer teachers: Three quarters of Scotland’s probationer teachers have been unable to find a permanent job, according to a survey by the TESS (TESS page 1).

Health
Health in Glasgow: People in the deprived suburbs of Glasgow have a lower life expectancy than those born in India, according to a report by the World Health Organisation. The report said that social factors, not genetics, were responsible and that “social injustice is killing people on a grand scale” (Times page 6, Herald page 15, Courier page 9, Telegraph page 8, Mail page 6, Record page 2 Craig Brown and Martyn McLaughlin in the Scotsman page 22).

Superbugs: Scientists at Aberdeen and St Andrews Universities have made a breakthrough which could be the first major step towards wiping out MRSA and C diff superbugs. (P&J page 1, Herald page 2).

Dementia: The Scottish Government has announced a £1m investment for a Dementia Clinical Research Network to bring together leading academics and clinicians. (Telegraph page 8)

Politics

Glenrothes by-election: The Prime Minister is reportedly under pressure from Cabinet colleagues to campaign in the Glenrothes by election. David Cameron has confirmed that he will be campaigning in the constituency and has challenged Gordon Brown to do the same. The Conservatives have selected Maurice Goldman as their candidate for the by-election (Times page 1, Scotsman page 6, Courier page 1, Telegraph page 11).

Scottish Labour leadership campaign: At a hustings meeting in Glasgow Cathy Jamieson called for an end to the ‘disconnection’ between the Labour Party in Scotland and in London (Herald page 6, Courier page 11).

Sports funding: The Scottish Government has said it will listen to Olympics hero Chris Hoy’s concerns about the lack of high level training facilities in Scotland (Scotsman page 10).

UK Cabinet: Greg Rosen in the Scotsman (page 28) argues that UK ministers have to show more joined up thinking in order to win back public trust and that all the blame for recent problems within the Labour party should not simply be placed at the Prime Minister’s door.

Labour Party funding: Figures released by the Electoral Commission show that nearly half of all donations to the Labour Party over the last three months were from the trade union Unite. The party has debts of £17.8m (Express page 2, Herald page 6).

Tavish Scott: Charles Kennedy urges the new leader of the Scottish Lib Dems to be bold (Herald page 17).