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Daily Political Media Summary: 24 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 24 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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Recovery: The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has said that people should not believe that just because the technical recession is drawing to an end, the recovery will be pain-free.  It said that although the economy was likely to start growing again in the second half of this year, rising unemployment and weak consumer spending have put the sustainability of the recovery in doubt. (Telegraph page 2, Herald page 32) 

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Crime

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Assisted Suicide: The Lord Advocate was accused yesterday of creating a “legal no-man’s-land” over assisted suicide after she stated that guidance issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions in England and Wales would not apply in Scotland, nor be replicated. Jeremy Purvis, the Liberal Democrat MSP, said it was “deeply disappointing” that the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, QC, had not clarified the grounds on which someone could be prosecuted in Scotland. (Times page 7, STV, BBC)

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Transport

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Edinburgh Trams: 16 residents on the tram route are fighting plans to attach the overhead power cable supports to buildings rather than to poles in the street. The residents have said the move would ruin their historic properties and incur extra mortgage fees if they sold their homes. They are among the first nine people being cited to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court next month. Similar proceedings are pending against four others. The other owners holding out are in Constitution Street and Shandwick Place. The city council, which is taking the action to allow the work to go ahead, wants to avoid using poles to support the wires to reduce clutter on stretches of the tram route. (Scotsman page 7)

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Dundee Rail station: Plans worth more than £10million to transform Dundee\’s railway station were unveiled today. The proposals would improve the existing facilities for train users, including a new first class lounge, as well as shops, office units and a restaurant. The plans have been prepared on behalf of the Dundee Waterfront Project, a partnership between the city council and Scottish Enterprise, but would have to be agreed and implemented in conjunction with Network Rail, who owns the station. (STV)

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Health

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Swine flu: Public health chiefs want to blood test school pupils in a bid to track the swine flu virus as the anticipated second wave of the pandemic approaches. Health Protection Scotland has requested, via local authorities and health boards, that schools infected with swine flu volunteer to take part in the tests. The proposals come as the number of school-age children infected with swine flu continues to rise, with hospital admission rates of the 5-14 group also climbing. (Herald page 1, STV)

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Education

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Primary education: Primary schools across Scotland are facing a major shake-up in the way standards of basic literacy and numeracy are assessed. The Scottish Government is considering a major overhaul of the current system, which relies on standardised tests to assess how well pupils are progressing in reading, writing and mathematics. (Herald page 8) 

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Politics

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Scottish Television: An independent Scotland would see the BBC replaced by a new state-funded broadcaster, it has emerged. In a paper on the future of Scottish broadcasting, Culture minister Mike Russell outlined a vision for a purely Scottish broadcasting corporation funded by licence payers, advertising and direct taxation. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 7, Times page 11) 

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St Andrews Day: A five-day festival is to be held across Scotland for the nation\’s biggest-ever St Andrew\’s Day celebrations. More than 40 events, including open-air concerts, fashion shows, street parties, parades and firework displays, are planned over 26-30 November. The festivities will be promoted around the world to help ensure a successful send-off for the Scottish Government\’s Year of Homecoming. (Scotsman page 11)

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Lib Dems: First Minister Alex Salmond has attempted to woo the Liberal Democrats into supporting an independence referendum. Speaking at a conference on devolution yesterday, Mr Salmond went out of his way to revive an offer for a multi-option referendum on the future constitutional position of Scotland. A multi-option referendum is known to be favoured by the Liberal Democrats. (Scotsman page 12, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph, Press and Journal page 13)

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Nick Clegg: Liberal Democrats Leader Nick Clegg claimed at his party conference that the Lib Dems are replacing a “dying” Labour Party. The next general election will now be a two-horse race between the Lib Dems and David Cameron’s Conservatives, he said.  Mr Clegg said: “I want to be the first Prime Minister in my lifetime to be on the side of the weak against the powerful, on the side of freedom against conformity, on the side of human innovation against government decree.” (Telegraph page 12, Scotsman page 3, Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 1, STV)

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Trident: George Kerevan comments in the Scotsman on military deterrence and how reducing Britain’s new Trident fleet from four submarines to three will make no difference. (Scotsman page 27, FT page 4, BBC)

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Holyrood petitions process: Parliament minister Bruce Crawford told MSPs yesterday that Holyrood must embrace new ideas to engage Scots better. Mr Crawford maintained that young people and other hard-to-reach groups needed a bigger voice to inform policymakers. His comments came in a debate on the petitions process, which MSPs want to change. "Any means which better engages the interest of young people and encourages an exchange of views and greater participation in the democratic process is worth doing," he said. (Scotsman page 42)

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Civil service jobs: Civil servants in Scotland have been largely protected from the effects of job cuts compared with their counterparts in Whitehall.  Finance secretary John Swinney gave an assurance to the unions that there will be no compulsory redundancies during the period of the current spending review. The commitment has been described as being "unique to Scotland". The draft budget published last week by the Scottish Government makes it clear that some tough choices will be need to be made over the next few years as the SNP administration tries to cope with the first real cuts in public expenditure since devolution. (Scotsman page 42)

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Climate Summit: Alex Salmond has called for Scotland to have it own delegation at the global climate change talks in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen summit will be the biggest and most important climate change gathering since the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997. All the major world leaders are expected to attend. (Telegraph page 7, Herald page 6)