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Daily Political Media Summary: 21 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 21 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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Budget: Tom Peterkin has indicated that John Swinney has not made tough enough decisions involving Scotland’s economic crisis. Peterkin argues that although Swinney has cut capital projects such as the Glasgow Airport rail link, the real cuts will have to be in public sector jobs, and that they will be severe. (Scotland on Sunday page 11, Tom Gordon’s Analysis in the Sunday Herald page 10)

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Investment in India: Scottish businesses are being urged to invest in India’s growing economy. A committee of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) is being launched at Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh on 28 September to encourage and aid young entrepreneurs and companies into the Indian market. (Scotland on Sunday Business section page 3)

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Transport 

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Edinburgh Trams: The £545million tram works may hit by further delays, pending negotiations between Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (Tie) and BSC. The delays are said to be caused by difficulties with planning and costs.  It has been estimated the work is to be ‘at least a month’ from resuming. (Herald page 4)

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Forth Road Bridge: SEStran and its partners have welcomed the Scottish Government’s backing for the new Forth crossing, but are appealing for a formal commitment towards public transport to be made in any bill relating to the project. Officers and elected members from SEStran, City of Edinburgh Council, West Lothian Council, Fife Council and Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) reached a consensus that a public transport strategy should be added to the draft bill before the legislative process begins. (Courier page 12)

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Education

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Curriculum for Excellence: The Scottish Government\’s flagship education policy was under fire last night as teachers, academics, business leaders and politicians lined up to criticise the Curriculum for Excellence. The policy, a massive overhaul of education in Scotland\’s schools, is due to be up and running by August next year. (Scotsman page 1)

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Local Government

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Council Spending: Councils have been accused of spending over £1million in ‘team-building exercises’. Spokesmen for various councils have defended the spending as ‘cost effective’. (Sunday Times page 12)

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Health

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Blood Platelet Donations: The Scottish National Transfusion Service is urging people to donate blood platelets, and say they are facing a dire situation. Because of their high demand and low shelf life, the SNTS aims to have 100 doses in supply, but sometimes that number is only at 70 or 75. Blood platelets are often used for cancer patients, premature babies, and babies with health problems. (Scotland on Sunday page 10)

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Politics

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Voting Age: An SNP Referendum Bill will include a proposal to lower the voting age to 16 for the Scottish Independence Referendum. If passed, this would incorporate an added 125,000 voters, putting the Scottish electorate over the 4 million mark. The SNP have quoted polls that suggest younger people are more likely to be in favour of the Independence Referendum than the middle-aged or elderly. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, page 16, Times page 5, Daily Telegraph page 1, Sunday Times page 1, Herald page 1, page 14, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 5, Scotsman page 23)

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Scottish Budget: John Swinney is calling on his political rivals to support his plea for Westminster to pass his £35million budget. Swinney has said that Scotland’s budget has been cut for the first time since devolution, and a higher allocation is needed to get Scotland through the recession. He has asked for other parties to support his call for Alistair Darling to raid future Scotland budgets. (Scotland on Sunday page 2, Sunday Times page 5)

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Al-Megrahi: It has emerged that the UK government may have had the legal power to stop Kenny MacAskill from releasing the Lockerbie bomber. Under the Scotland Act, the UK government have the power to intervene if a case breaches “international obligations”. Senior diplomats insist that this rule applied, as the US and UK government had an understanding that al-Megrahi would serve his sentence in Scotland. Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay has said Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy owes an explanation for why he did not use this provision. (Scotland on Sunday page 4)

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The Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) has concluded that al-Megrahi’s conviction may be unsafe because it relied on testimony from a discredited witness. (Sunday Times page 9)

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SNP minister Keith Brown has been accused of trying to rig a poll on whether it was right to release al-Megrahi.  It has been said that a senior staff member for Mr Brown emailed other Nationalist MSPs and researchers to vote ‘Yes’ in an online survey for a local newspaper. (Telegraph page 1)

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Lib Dems Conference: MSP Tavish Scott, addressing an audience on the second day of the Liberal Democrat conference in Bournemouth, claimed that “centralisation is a core approach of the SNP” and called for giant banks to be broken down and for people to have a choice of smaller banks, which are more secure. He also accused the SNP of being on course to spend £1billion on ‘distorted priorities’ that favoured the rich. (Scotland on Sunday page 4, Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6)

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Nick Clegg has proposed to eliminate the position of Scottish Secretary, as well as the whole of the Scottish Office, which he claims will save £1.8billion a year. Among other proposals, the Lib Dem leader has also suggested the axing of at least 90 quangos south of the border, and capping all senior salaries at the level at the Prime Minister’s £180,000 wage, which he says will save £1.2billion. (Herald page 6)

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Lib Dems are split on their opinion of the Independence Referendum. (Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 5)

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Euthanasia: The Scottish Government have said they do not have plans to change the law on euthanasia. Independent MSP Margo MacDonald intends to publish a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request the aid of a doctor to end their own life. MacDonald says she believes current legislation will only complicate future legal battles. (Times page 3)

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Charity Fraud: The Institute of Fundraising Scotland has warned charities against accepting funds from suspicious donors after it came to light that the BNP members were giving donations without claiming their affiliation, then listing the donations on their website. (Sunday Times page 13)

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Scottish Futures Trust: Labour has said it is ‘untenable’ for SFT chairman Sir Angus Grossart to remain in the position whilst his bank is involved in a £300 million contract for a building scheme under the SFT. Finance spokesman Andy Kerr has called on Alex Salmond to ask Grossart to step down if he does not resign. (Sunday Herald page 14)