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Daily Political Media Summary: 11 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 11 September 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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Edinburgh Hotels: Edinburgh hotels enjoyed high levels of booking during the Festival period, despite the recession.  (Scotsman page 24)

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 Diageo:  Alex Salmond has escalated his war of words with Diageo by warning the drinks giant could not "just walk away" from the fallout of its decision to shed 900 jobs. The First Minister claimed the firm was so intent on maximising profits that it failed to consider the "social consequences" of closing plants in Kilmarnock and Glasgow. But he faced accusations that he had been "part of the problem, not the solution" after launching a public tirade against the firm\’s management before they had made a final decision on the cuts. Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph. (Telegraph page 10, Alan Cochrane, Courier page 1, STV, BBC,  Times Online)

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RBS: Royal Bank of Scotland was yesterday accused of “blatant abuse of the immigration system” by importing cheaper foreign labour to replace redundant workers. The Professional Contractors Group (PCG), the representative body for 1.4 million freelance workers, says a number of roles are being filled through Intra Company Transfers (ICTs), a system set up to allow employees of multinational companies to bring in specialist skills flexibly to fill shortages on a temporary basis from overseas. (Herald page 10)

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Highland Supermarket Jobs:  Plans to move Asda into areas in the Highlands have been delayed following legal action raised by an opposing developer, Inverness Estates, and Highland Council.  Asda have been attempting for the last ten years to open stores in the Highlands, an area which is dominated by Tesco, and were recently granted permission for the £27 million development project which was set to create 400 jobs in the area. (Scotsman page 8)

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Crime

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Scots Prisons: Scotland’s prisons should consider a controversial “one in, one out” model to deal with overcrowding, the chief executive of the service said. Mike Ewart, head of the Scottish Prison Service, said the country should look at the safety valve system of other European countries and revealed that the country is the “best” in Europe for locking up its own people. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 1, STV)

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Transport 

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Edinburgh Airport:  Tourism into the city during the Edinburgh Fringe and increased Ryanair flights from Edinburgh Airport have led to record number of passengers especially compared to Glasgow Airport.  BAA, who operate the three main Scottish airports, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, have cited the economic downturn for the reduction in the use of Glasgow and Aberdeen.  Edinburgh appears to be an exception in its growth of passengers.  (Scotsman page 14)

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Health

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Scotland’s Health Reputation: Scotland’s reputation for the poorest health record in Europe is changing and is demonstrated by a reduction in the number of deaths due to heart disease, strokes and cancer.    Improvements in NHS care and changes in Scotland’s health policy have been credited for changes, however the Scottish Government have advised that further progress could be made as people move towards healthier lifestyles which would reduce preventable diseases.  (Scotsman, page 2, Courier page 12)

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Swine Flu:  Intensive care beds are to double in anticipation of swine flu cases over the coming winter.  The Scottish Government have warned that this could have a knock-on effect on other NHS services as priority will be given to the sickest patients removing resources from non emergency care. (Scotsman page 12)

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Alcohol Promotions: Ministers have given the green light to banning drinks promotions in supermarkets and ­off-licences in a dramatic widening of the Scottish Government’s battle against alcohol abuse. In his first major public ­announcement on the new ­alcohol laws since they were introduced last week, justice secretary Kenny MacAskill told industry experts: “If a buy-one-get-one-free is wrong in the pub, it’s also wrong in the supermarket”. Mr MacAskill also squared up to the whisky industry by rubbishing their claims that his proposals for minimum pricing would have an impact on exports. (Herald page 1, Press and Journal page 1) 

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Local Government

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Princes Street: Plans to open Edinburgh’s Princes Street to traffic over the Christmas period are in place following pressure from the areas retailers.  Traffic is currently diverted to allow tram tracks to be laid which is scheduled to be completed in November. Initial plans to keep the street traffic free for the Christmas period may be changed to allow public transport access and encourage shoppers to spend more time in the area. (Scotsman page 14)   

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Education

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Tuition Fees:  Student leaders in the north-east have rejected a call from one of Scotland’s top educationalists for tuition fees to be reintroduced for those who can afford them. The former head of Universities Scotland, Lord Sutherland, said some of the money from tuition fees should be used to fund scholarships for students from poorer backgrounds. The suggestion met a hostile reception from students, unions and politicians, and prompted calls from opposition parties for an independent review of university funding to ensure Scottish universities do not lose out to institutions south of the border. Upfront tuition fees were abolished in Scotland in 2002 and in 2007 the Scottish Government abolished fees altogether. (Press and Journal page 11, Scotsman, page 13 The Times, page 16-17)

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Tory Education Conference: The party this week launched a major offensive designed to embarrass its political opponents and inject fresh thinking into the debate on educational standards in Scotland. It wants to see extended parental choice, greater autonomy for schools and more effective testing. At a conference held in Edinburgh on Tuesday, the Tories felt they had tapped into a reservoir of demand for change as calls for improvements were supported by senior figures who would have previously been considered the Conservatives’ opponents; Lindsay Paterson, professor of educational policy at Edinburgh University; Fred Forrester, former deputy general secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland; and academic economist and former adviser to Labour ministers, John McLaren. (TESS page 1) 

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Politics

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Scottish Independence: Motor racing legend Sir Jackie Stewart has commented on the Scottish people’s right to take part in a referendum over Scottish independence.  His views have been welcomed by the SNP who wish to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in 2010.  Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives all oppose a referendum.  (Scotsman page 8)

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Lockerbie: US President Barack Obama has expressed his \’\’disappointment\’\’ at the decision to release the Lockerbie bomber during a 40-minute phone call with Gordon Brown, the White House has said. (Telegraph page 2, Courier page 8, Press and Journal page 9, BBC)