Daily Political Media Summary: 17 August 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 August 2009

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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.

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Economy

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Diageo: The Scottish Government is this week expected to launch a fresh attempt to save jobs by trying to persuade Johnnie Walker makers Diageo to build a new bottling plant in Kilmarnock. With the fight to keep the jobs reaching its final stages, ministers will receive a consultants\’ report this week, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise, setting out the case for the retention of the workforce in Kilmarnock and Glasgow. (Scotland on Sunday page 9)

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Inflation: Inflation will slip further below the Bank of England\’s two per cent target this week, sparking expectations that governor Mervyn King will be forced to write to the Chancellor as soon as the autumn. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is tipped to slide by 0.3 percentage points to 1.5 per cent when the latest figures are unveiled on Tuesday. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)

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Edinburgh Festival: The full economic benefit of the festivals cannot be counted until the final curtain comes down on 31 August, but organisers say that the early signs are encouraging. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)

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Bonuses: Alistair Darling is ready to legislate to curb City bonuses amid mounting public anger about the return of huge rewards for bankers. The chancellor has signalled that he will change the law to ensure executive bonuses are not paid to employees whose transactions put banks at risk. The new rules would cover the whole British banking system rather than just those institutions that have been partly nationalised, such as the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds. (Sunday Times page 3, Herald page 5, Telegraph page 10, Courier page 14, Press and Journal page 14, BBC)

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Trump: Plans by the US billionaire tycoon Donald Trump for a highly controversial hotel and golf resort on Scotland\’s north-east coast look likely to be blocked by the local council. The majority of Aberdeenshire\’s councillors are reportedly opposed to moves to force four families from their homes on the Menie estate near Balmedie in order to make way for the development. (Sunday Herald page 5)

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Scots Tourism: One of Scotland\’s leading economists has attacked the government\’s strategy for tourism, claiming the sector\’s performance since devolution suggested the money would be better invested elsewhere. John McLaren, an economic consultant at Glasgow University\’s Centre for Public Policy and the Regions, questioned the country\’s strategy for tourism, pointing out that the sector\’s contribution to the economy and its gross value added output has fallen since 1999, while its productivity was a long way below the national average. (Sunday Herald page 52)

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Crime

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Lockerbie: The Lockerbie bomber\’s health has deteriorated to the point that he may die before any decision is made about his release from jail. Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi is believed to be no longer receiving treatment for his prostate cancer but having pain relief offered to those in the final stages of the disease. Senior sources said that there was “no chance” of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi being sent back to Libya on Wednesday as had been expected. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Post page 1, Sunday Times page 1, Sunday Herald page 1, Scotsman page 4, Herald page 4, Times page 3, BBC)

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Child protection: The children of drug addict parents who shoot up at home should be considered for immediate removal into care, the Scottish Labour leader has declared.

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Iain Gray says it is "unacceptable" for the State to sit back and allow parents to neglect their children without examining whether foster care, adoption or a care home would be better for them. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Courier page 10, Press and Journal page 7)

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Transport 

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High Speed Rail: Ministers have agreed £1bn funding for Scotland\’s biggest package of railway enhancements in a generation. They will include electrifying the track between Glasgow and Edinburgh and bringing fastest journey times down to just over half an hour. Under a deal between the government agency, Transport Scotland, and track owners Network Rail funding for the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP) will be borrowed against the asset value of the UK rail network. (Herald page 1)

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Health

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Minimum alcohol pricing: Ministers have claimed growing support for setting minimum prices for alcohol, following reports that the plan is set to become a reality. According to reports at the weekend, the Scottish Government\’s proposal – aimed at tackling a problem that costs Scotland more than £2bn a year – is likely to be supported by Labour at Holyrood, which would ensure a parliamentary majority. (Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 11)

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Education

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Curriculum for Excellence: As Scottish children head back to school this week with the government\’s much vaunted Curriculum for Excellence yet to be implemented, Fiona MacLeod and Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman comment on whether the Scottish education system is fit for purpose. (Scotsman page 12)

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School uniforms: More than half of Scottish parents on low incomes cannot afford to pay for their children\’s school uniforms and equipment, new research revealed on Monday. The study, carried out by charities Save the Children and Family Action, shows that 56% of families with household incomes of less than £15,000 will not be able to buy everything their children need to start the new school years. (STV, BBC)

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Politics

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Construction industry: Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has called on the First Minister to take urgent action to address "the crisis in the construction industry". Mr Gray cited a survey that indicates the value of public investment has plunged by nearly £2bn since the SNP came to power. In 2007, the value of public investment projects in the pipeline was £1.3bn. According to a new analysis of figures published by the Scottish Government\’s Infrastructure Investment Unit, this fell to £303m in 2008 and is expected to be £508m in 2009. (Herald page 4, Press and Journal page 11, STV)

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NHS: A close ally of Tory leader David Cameron yesterday tried to distance himself from remarks made by a Conservative MEP attacking the NHS. Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove insisted it was "complete nonsense" to suggest he personally did not back the health service after  it was reported he and other senior Tories are listed with MEP Daniel Hannan as co-authors of a book Direct Democracy which criticises the NHS. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 2, FT page 3, Courier page 11, Press and Journal page 3)

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