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Daily Political Media Summary: 28 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 28 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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Banking Bonus Laws: Legislation set to be introduced in the next few weeks will scrap automatic year-after-year bonuses and stop executives getting payouts unless they can prove they are deserved. Bonuses will be deferred over a period so that they can be clawed back if they are not warranted by long-term performance. In a related move to prevent bankers cashing in this Christmas, before the new laws come in, Mr Darling and Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, will tell banking leaders this week that they should immediately implement rules on deferring bonuses and stopping automatic payouts that were agreed by the G20 at the weekend. (Times page 1, Guardian page 1)

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STV: A legal dispute between STV and ITV will intensify this week, with the Glasgow-based broadcaster expected to seek £40m in compensation from the national group. The move is in retaliation for ITV’s decision last week to sue STV for up to £38m in unpaid bills because STV, the parent company of Scottish and Grampian television, opted out of screening networked dramas such as The Bill, Wuthering Heights and Marple. The action threatens the future of STV, which has debts of £44m and a pension liability of £30m. (Sunday Times page B1) 

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Crime

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Parades: Strathclyde Police has revealed there are on average between two and three marches every day within its force area. The force says events such as Orange parades can have “a disproportionate impact on the community in terms of security and feelings of wellbeing”, while consultations on parades found knock-on effects included increased fear of crime, loss of tourism and bad publicity. In the financial year ending last April, 1,061 parades were staged, taking up almost 50,000 police officer hours and costing the force £1.7m, with 96 arrests. From April to August this year there were 610 parades, with police costs almost £900,000. The main Orange parade in Glasgow in July alone triggered 55 arrests and 271 fixed penalties. (Herald page 1, BBC) 

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Early Releases: The Justice Secretary has released more killers on compassionate grounds in two-and-a-half years than his predecessors did in eight. New figures show that, since the SNP took charge of a minority government in 2007, Kenny MacAskill has granted early release to three terminally ill prisoners sentenced to life for murder. They include Abdelbaset Ali al Megrahi, the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, who was released from Greenock Prison last month after becoming ill with prostate cancer. (Herald page 3, Sunday Post page 1)

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Local Government

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Council Tax Freeze: The national agreement between the Scottish Government and local authorities is possibly under threat after several authorities warned they could no longer afford to implement a council tax freeze. (Sunday Times page 7) 

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Health

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Children’s Exercise: Scotland’s children are not getting enough daily exercise with less than one-fifth receiving the recommended daily amount. A poll by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that 17 per cent of children took less than an hour of exercise a week when they were supposed do an hour every day. The statistics showed that three-­quarters of Scots young people (74 per cent) were unaware of the daily amount of exercise they should be doing, and one-third (35 per cent) of those questioned admitted they “couldn’t be bothered” to exercise daily. (Herald page 7)

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Minimum Alcohol Pricing: Plans to set minimum prices for alcohol in Scotland will save hundreds of lives a year, a government-commissioned study is expected to report. The crackdown will also reduce crime and days lost from work, helping the economy. The study predicts the greatest impact will be among heavy drinkers of strong cider and supermarket-label spirits, rather than the modest middle-class wine drinkers cited by opponents of the scheme. (Herald page 6, Times page 23, Courier page 1, Sunday Herald page 21, Sunday Post page 5, Scotland on Sunday page 5, STV)

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NHS Doctors: Five hundred senior doctors are sharing a £30 million pot of public money to boost their incomes while frontline services are being threatened with cuts, an investigation has revealed. NHS consultants are pocketing an extra £74,000 a year in “distinction awards” as a way of topping up salaries of almost £100,000. Politicians from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP have united in calling for urgent reform of the system. The Scottish Government has called for spending restraint as a way of protecting the most vital public services. (Sunday Herald page 1)

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Education

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Glasgow City Council: Scotland\’s largest local authority faces further financial pressures after it emerged there is a higher than anticipated school roll, just months after around 20 primary schools were shut. Figures released by Glasgow City Council show that it is some £2m short on the savings it expected to make within its education department, with senior council figures attributing the deficit in part to an unexpectedly high school roll. (Herald page 7) 

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School Building Programme: SNP ministers will seek to tackle the scandal of Scotland\’s crumbling schools this week by listing 14 secondaries to be rebuilt under the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) programme. A school in Alex Salmond\’s constituency will be included after a two-year delay while ministers sought a replacement for the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop will confirm most of the money will come from the Scottish Government. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, STV)

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Politics

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Labour Party Conference: Prime Minister Gordon Brown launched "Operation Fight back" yesterday, his party\’s last-ditch bid to avoid being ousted at the general election, as he opened Labour\’s conference with a pledge that he would "not roll over" and be defeated. In a message aimed as much at voters as those positioning themselves to take over from him as leader, Mr Brown made clear he would not be prised easily from Number 10. The BBC is also facing criticism over the interview in which Gordon Brown was asked about his health. (Scotsman page 1, Telegraph page 4, Times page 6, Courier page 11, Press and Journal page 1, Guardian page 4, Sunday Times page 16, Iain Macwhirter in Sunday Herald page 7, Scotland on Sunday page 11, Scotland on Sunday page 1, BBC) 

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Peter Mandelson: Lord Mandelson has disclosed that he would be willing to accept a job under a future Conservative Government. The business secretary said he would be willing to put his “experience at the disposal of the country”, if Labour lost power. “As I grow older, I can imagine more ways of serving my country than simply being a party politician,” he said. Asked whether he might use his experience in business and world trade under a future government, he said: “If I was asked to do something for my country using that asset base, of course, I would consider it.” (Sunday Times page 1) 

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Constitutional Debate: Alex Salmond reportedly turned down a challenge from Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader at Holyrood, to stage a head-to-head St Andrew’s Day debate on Scotland’s constitutional future. (Times page 7, Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 5) 

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Saltire: Scottish Labour is to adopt the Saltire as its campaign logo for the general election in an attempt to wrong foot the SNP.  Jim Murphy, the Scottish secretary, said he and Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray, want to ‘reclaim the Saltire’ from the nationalists, whom he accused of seeking to convince voters that they have a monopoly on patriotism. (Sunday Times page 7, page 9, STV) 

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Climate Change Summit: John Swinney has reportedly claimed that Scotland had been "relegated to the fringes" of the Copenhagen climate change summit after the UK Government snubbed SNP calls for a Scottish minister to attend. The SNP administration had sent a letter to Gordon Brown calling for Scottish ministers to be represented at the summit in December. It has since emerged that Ed Miliband, the Energy Secretary, replied saying the Scottish Government could send an official to Copenhagen in December, in line with practice in previous years. (Scotland on Sunday page 3, STV)