Daily Political Media Summary: 30 October 2008


Golden rules: The Chancellor has announced that the government is abandoning its fiscal rules in order to increase borrowing to support the economy during the downturn. However, he intends to reduce borrowing in the medium term, raising the prospect of tax rises or slower spending growth after the next election (Herald page 2, Times page 22, Peter Riddell in the Times, P&J page 5, Telegraph page 1, FT page 2, Mail page 2, Record page 2). George Kerevan argues that the key to economic revival lies in consumer spending, not public spending (Scotsman page 24).

HBOS: There were calls for a report by the Office of Fair Trading about the public interest implications of the Lloyds TSB/HBOS deal to be made public yesterday. The report is expected to remain secret until the Business Secretary decides whether to refer the case to the Competition Commission (Scotsman page 6).

Interest rates: A member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has said that the bank did not act fast enough to cut interest rates. David Blanchflower said that the Bank failed to appreciate the scale of the recession (Telegraph page B1).

NHS Highland: NHS Highland is in facing financial difficulties due to higher-than-predicted staff costs and a lower-than-expected budget increase. It predicts that it will have to cut spending by £36.6m by 2012, instead of the £16.8m previously planned (Herald page 1).

Neonatal care: A charity has warned that babies are being turned away from Scottish neonatal units because of a lack of specialist nurses. In its report, Bliss called for health boards to recruit and retain an extra 140 neonatal staff (Herald page 4, P&J page 1, Record page 24).

Local Government
Free school meals: Twenty-three of Scotland’s 32 local authorities have said they cannot afford to provide free school meals within existing budgets (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 9, P&J page 11).

The Norwegian foreign minister has said that the experiences of Norway and Scotland are very different and that he would not be happy if the example of his country was being used as a “source of division or strife in other countries”. The SNP has frequently cited Norway as an example an independent Scotland could follow (Times page 11. Courier page 7, Telegraph page 14, Mail page 12).

Embryology bill: Cardinal Keith O’Brien has been criticised for making comparisons between the Government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and Nazi experiments (Times page 17, P&J page 14).

Glenrothes: The SNP candidate in the Glenrothes by-election provoked criticism when he appeared to suggest that, if elected, he did not want to spend more than five years at Westminster as he would get homesick (Times page 11, Record page 6).