Daily Political Media Summary: 4 August 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 4 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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Markets: Yesterday saw huge surges in the pound and on the stock market. Both the pound and the FTSE 100 index of top UK shares hit their highest levels since last October on growing hopes of an economic recovery. (Scotsman page 1, page 31, Telegraph page 1, Times page 34, Guardian page 22, FT page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Express page 1)

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Bonuses: Barclays warned yesterday that an over-zealous regulatory crackdown in the banking sector could "throttle" bank lending and economic recovery. Chief executive John Varley, unveiling an 8 per cent rise in half-year pre-tax profits to £2.98 billion (£2.75bn), also defended bonus payments as equivalent to football managers buying top talent to help deliver success. (Scotsman page 32, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 2, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, FT page 3, Press and Journal page 5, Courier page 1)

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Transport

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Late Trains: Train punctuality on a key London to Scotland rail line is still well below the national average, despite a £9 billion upgrade of the route. Only 86.4 per cent of services on the West Coast Main Line operated by Virgin Trains ran on time in the period from 28 June to 25 July this year, Network Rail said yesterday. (Scotsman page 5)

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Local Government

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Edinburgh Refuse: A breakthrough was announced in the pay dispute between Edinburgh\’s bin collectors and the city council last night after union leaders said they were set to call off industrial action that has caused chaos across the capital. Council chiefs expect refuse collectors and street cleaners to resume "normal working" by Friday after presenting fresh proposals for a wages shake-up to officials yesterday. (Scotsman page 21, Telegraph page 9, STV, BBC)

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Glasgow Housing Association: A team of the UK\’s foremost social housing trouble-shooters have been drafted in to carry out a review of the Glasgow Housing Association. With two of its top team announcing their departures in recent weeks and constant speculation about its chief executive, the landlord will be scrutinised by the Financial Information Company Ltd after its rebuke by the housing sector\’s watchdog over the failure to meet core objectives. (Herald page 1)

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Health

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C Diff: A public inquiry into nine hospital superbug deaths could be widened after it was revealed that a further 28 people had been killed by clostridium difficile at a separate hospital run by the same health board. Scottish ministers have now conceded that the terms of reference of the forthcoming inquiry centred on the Vale of Leven Hospital in Alexandria can be broadened to include Gartnavel General in Glasgow. The deaths have brought pressure on the government to answer questions from relatives and health campaigners about the scale of the problem. (Herald page 1)

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Education

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Gaelic Education: The Scottish Government is taking “immediate action” to safeguard the future of the Gaelic language. Culture Minister Mike Russell and Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop announced yesterday that civil servants will work more closely with language promotion organisation Bòrd na Gàidhlig over the next three months to identify what action is needed to increase the number of speakers. The news comes after First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed a further £800,000 for Gaelic education; taking government investment in the Gaelic schools fund to £2.15million this year. (Press and Journal page 9)

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Politics

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Extradition: The Labour party has been accused of losing "their moral compass" over the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon. SNP home affairs spokesman Pete Wishart yesterday added his voice to the growing number of politicians calling for Home Secretary Alan Johnson to reconsider his decision to allow the extradition of the Glasgow-born 43-year-old to the US, where he faces trial and a potentially long prison sentence. (Scotsman page 16)

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Scottish Labour: David Maddox comments in The Scotsman on the recent poll that put the Labour Party two points ahead of the SNP in Westminster voting intentions. He writes that “the outlook is bleak for a party struggling with leadership and no real alternatives to SNP policies”. (Scotsman page 24)

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Public Service Cuts: Professor John Kay, one of the First Minister’s economic advisors, has reportedly stated that public spending cuts are inevitable for Scotland and Finance Secretary John Swinney has some extremely difficult decisions to make on public expenditure. Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph (Telegraph page 10)

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Ferry Fares: First Minister Alex Salmond has hailed a pilot scheme to encourage more people to travel to the Western Isles as a success. The Scottish Government says the road equivalent tariff (RET) operating on all ferry routes attracted 23 per cent more cars and 14 per cent more passengers between October 2008 and June 2009 compared with the same period in 2007/2008. (Press and Journal page 9)

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