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Daily Political Media Summary: 4 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 4 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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Diageo: Hundreds of Johnnie Walker staff were awaiting the final say on their job future last night, after another attempt to save the plants in Glasgow and Kilmarnock. Finance secretary John Swinney presented a proposal to Diageo yesterday to keep the two plants open. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 1, STV)

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Taxes: Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman on the state of the nation’s finances and the possibility that extra taxes may be on their way. (Scotsman page 26)

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Recovery: Alistair Darling last night expressed confidence that Britain would pull out of recession and start its recovery next year but also warned "uncertainties and risks" still remained and nothing was guaranteed. The Chancellor\’s remarks to a CBI Scotland dinner in Glasgow echoed those earlier from Gordon Brown, who, in a joint letter with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said that although indicators pointed to economic stabilisation, "the crisis is not over". (Herald page 2)

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Health

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Swine flu: Estimates of the number of people in the UK who could die in the flu pandemic have dropped to 19,000, it was announced yesterday. At the Scottish Parliament, Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said up to 2,000 Scots could die from it in a “worst-case scenario” over the coming months. Revised guidance for the NHS puts the UK-wide range from 3,000 deaths to a “worst-case scenario” of 19,000, down from 65,000 reported in July. (Press and Journal page 1)

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Education

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PPP schools: Highland Council has been saddled with an overspend of £754,000 because it budgeted too little for its PPP contract in the last financial year. The first bill for the schools arrived in March and, because some of the buildings were completed in 2007-08, it covers more than a year. In the future, therefore, the council expects the overspend to be considerably smaller, but nevertheless £356,000 more than expected. And this is an additional expense that will be incurred ever year until the PPP contract ends in 2037.

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The council is now deciding whether to pursue an action for damages against the specialist advisor who underestimated the cost of the schools. (TESS page 3)

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Politics

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Referendum bill: Alex Salmond put a Referendum Bill at the heart of his government\’s plans yesterday, even though it will almost certainly be voted down by MSPs when it comes before parliament next year. Opposition MSPs claimed the First Minister\’s third legislative programme focused on "constitutional vandalism" rather than "economic recovery", and told him his referendum proposal would be knocked back. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Times page 15, Telegraph page 5, Press and Journal page 6, Courier page 1, FT page 4, Daily Mail page 1, STV, BBC)

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Al-Megrahi: Almost half of all Scots now support Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill\’s controversial decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing in a dramatic shift in public opinion. The YouGov poll of 1556 people found 45% thought Mr MacAskill made the right call to free Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi last month on compassionate grounds. The same percentage said he was wrong. (Herald page 1)

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Qatar: The Scottish government faced demands last night for full details of its relationship with Qatar, after the Gulf state was revealed to have lobbied for the release of the Lockerbie bomber. During trade talks held in June with Qatar’s International Co-operation Minister, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s First Minister, was asked to free Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi. (Times page 10, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Guardian page 2)