Daily Political Media Summary: 23 July 2009

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 23 July 2009

All newspaper references refer to Scottish editions. Where there is a link to a newspaper’s website, the relevant page reference is blue and underlined.

Economy

Diageo: Public money could be used to save hundreds of jobs being axed in Scotland by drinks giant Diageo, First Minister Alex Salmond has said. The Scottish Government could channel money through Scottish Enterprise to help the company avoid the loss of 900 staff at its Johnnie Walker plant in Kilmarnock and its distillery in Glasgow.  Diageo said yesterday that it would seriously consider an alternative to the closure of the two plants.  (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 6, Times page 14, Courier page 12, Press and Journal page 4, STV)

UK Economic League Table: Scotland could "de-couple from economic recovery for years to come", the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) warns today. It says high public spending economies such as those of Scotland and Wales will be hit harder in the coming cutback in public spending. It forecasts that as a result Scotland will lag most regions of England in growth between 2010 and 2013, coming in ninth out of 12. (Scotsman page 10)

Recession: Official figures published yesterday portrayed a deepening recession in Scotland and provided further evidence that manufacturers and construction firms are bearing the brunt of the downturn. The Scottish economy shrank 2.4% in the first quarter of the year, according to figures from the Scottish Government following a 1.7% drop in gross domestic product in the last three months of 2008 and a 0.8% drop in the three months to the end of September. (Herald page 28, Press and Journal page 10, STV)

Bail-outs: Chancellor Alistair Darling has ruled out a further bail-out for Britain\’s troubled banking sector, it emerged last night. He has rejected warnings from the International Monetary Fund that new financial support could be needed to head off a fresh economic crisis. (Scotsman page 11)

Scottish Businesses: The number of business insolvencies in Scotland has risen by a third in the last year amid warnings that it will take another five years for UK income levels to return to where they were before the recession began in early 2008. (Herald page 1)

Public Sector: The public sector needs to improve the way it buys goods and services during the recession, according to Audit Scotland. A report out today, entitled Improving Public Sector Purchasing, calls for more savings through increased collaboration between government agencies and institutions and better management. (Press and Journal page 14, STV)

Personal Insolvency: The financial crisis has caused record numbers of Scots to declare personal insolvency, with 524 people a week going bankrupt and 6,294 personal insolvencies between April and June, up a third from the same period last year. (Herald page 7, Daily Mail page 10, Daily Express page 2)

Crime

Violent Crime: Violent crime outside the Central Belt has surged in the past year, with police witnessing increases in assaults of up to 15 per cent in parts of the country. While violent crime in Scotland\’s main centre of population is falling, Tayside, Grampian, Fife and Northern constabularies have collectively witnessed scores more serious attacks in the past year. (Scotsman page 13)

Drink Driving: The number of motorists caught driving under the influence of drink or drugs has dropped by almost a quarter, figures showed today. An annual summer police crackdown saw 267 arrests, compared with 343 last year. The statistics were welcomed by police chiefs but said they are "no cause for celebration". (Herald page 3)

Colonel Gaddafi: Families of those killed in the Lockerbie bombing have expressed outrage that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, is to visit New York, the destination of the doomed Pan Am Flight 103. The UN has disclosed that Colonel Gaddafi, who is blamed for the bombing of the aircraft in 1988 and loss of 270 lives, will address the 192-nation General Assembly in New York. (Times page 1)

Transport

National Express: Stagecoach, the bus and train operator, was linked with a takeover bid for its crisis-hit rival National Express last night as FirstGroup, a third competitor, walked away from a possible deal.  Stagecoach, headed by Brian Souter, its founder and chief executive, was named by transport industry sources as the interested party after National Express confirmed receipt of a second approach. (Times page 36, STV)

Health

Swine Flu: Details of the first Scots likely to receive a swine flu vaccine have emerged, amid growing concerns over how GPs will cope with the extra workload. A nationwide vaccination programme could start as early as next month, as the first vaccine supplies arrive from GlaxoSmithKline.  There has been some concern that the vaccine will not be tested properly and could pose a risk to public health. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Telegraph page B1, FT page 15, Press and Journal page 13)

Elderly Patients: Scotland\’s new Public Services Ombudsman yesterday heavily criticised a number of health boards about decisions that resulted in poor standards of care for elderly patients. Glasgow and Greater Clyde Health Board was particularly highlighted for the "inadequate" care and dignity shown to an 88-year-old patient who died in the Victoria Infirmary in an open ward. (Herald page 1)

Education

School Holidays: The Scottish Government is considering extending the school holidays to combat the spread of swine flu. Scientists argued this week that a decision to delay the return of pupils before the virus takes hold in the autumn could allow more time for vaccine production and disrupt the spread of infection. (Times page 10)

Politics

Asylum Seekers: Record numbers of asylum seekers are seeking appeals after their bid to stay in Scotland has been rejected by the Home Office. Appeals for rejected asylum seekers have risen by more than 60 per cent in the last four years. (Daily Mail page 1)