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Daily Political Media Summary: 5 August 2009

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 5 August 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

Whyte & Mackay: The major distiller has announced plans to shed up to 100 jobs. Whyte & Mackay yesterday confirmed a proposal to lose up to one sixth of its Scottish workforce, citing the recession and the "punitive UK legislative climate" as factors. A grain distillery at Invergordon in Easter Ross is thought to be in line for more than 30 of the job cuts.  First Minister Alex Salmond has backed calls for a summit on the plight of the whisky industry as the latest job losses sparked a row over the Scottish Government\’s minimum pricing plans for alcohol. (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 1, Press and Journal page 10, Courier page 6, Financial Times page 2, Daily Record page 7, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 7, Sun page 2, STV)

Lloyds: The part-nationalised Banking Group has said it made a £4 billion half-year loss, blaming the bad debts of HBOS which it took over in January. The bank, which is 43 per cent owned by the Government, claimed that 80 per cent of the £13.4 billion impairments on bad debt were due to HBOS’s assets. (BBC, STV)

Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS kicked-off the sale of its "non-core" assets yesterday by agreeing a $550 million (£327m) deal with Australia & New Zealand Banking Group for a swathe of Asian businesses. (Scotsman page 35, Herald page 33, Press and Journal page 5, Courier page 15, Financial Times page 14, Guardian page 22, Daily Express page 64)

Weir Group: The Weir Group is on course for a full-year profit haul of £170 million, the company said yesterday, after a robust first-half triggered a sharp share-price rise. Sterling\’s weakness and a "strong" performance from its service and spares businesses helped it to post double-digit rises in interim revenue and profit, putting the Glasgow-based group on track to hit the top end of its previous profit guidance. (Scotsman page 36, Herald page 34, Press and Journal page 18, Daily Telegraph page B8)

Northern Rock: Almost four out of ten of Northern Rock\’s mortgage customers are now in negative equity, as the nationalised bank revealed its half-year losses had soared by 24 per cent. (Scotsman page 2, Courier page 3, Financial Times page 3, Daily Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 22, Daily Mail page 4, Daily Express page 10, Daily Mirror page 4)

Transport  

Lothian Buses: Falling passenger numbers caused by tram works disruption and the recession pushed Edinburgh\’s main bus operator into the red for the first time in its 20-year history. (Scotsman page 11)

Education

Scottish Exam Results: Scotland’s teenagers have achieved the best-ever pass rate in the history of the Higher qualification. The results, published by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), show 74.2 per cent passed their Highers. Last year, the figure was 73.4 per cent. The record year will fuel fears that thousands of Scottish pupils could miss out on university places after an unprecedented increase in applications to higher education. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 9, Daily Telegraph page 8, Daily Record page 12, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Mirror page 6, Sun page 2, STV, BBC)

Politics

Tobacco Displays: A ban on displays of cigarettes will seriously damage business and boost the black market, shopkeepers warned yesterday. A poll conducted by the Tobacco Retailers Alliance revealed that four out of five corner shop owners said they believed the Scottish Government\’s plans would hit their business by encouraging illegal purchasing. (Scotsman page 22, Herald page 10, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 6, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 16, STV)

Oil Fund: George Kerevan comments in The Scotsman on Finance Secretary John Swinney’s proposals for a Scottish Oil Fund. “Predictably, this idea has been attacked as either too late in the day, or ‘fantasy economics’ given the state of UK finances.” (Scotsman page 36)

Glasgow City Council: Councillors within the ruling Labour administration in Glasgow could refuse to cross picket lines when the expected strike by more than 1,000 cleansing and parks staff begins next week. (Herald page 2)

Assisted Suicide:  Lord Advocate Elish Angiolini is expected to come under increased pressure to clarify the circumstances that would lead to a prosecution for assisted suicide in Scotland. It follows the decision by the director of public prosecutions for England and Wales that the forthcoming guidelines for those countries will apply "at home and abroad". (Herald page 7, Daily Telegraph page 8)