Daily Political Media Summary: 7 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 7 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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Recession: Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has asked for political unity between rival parties in order to bring Scotland out of the recession. This request is in relation to meetings that are to take place between Mr Murphy, Alex Salmond, and Scottish business and union representatives about the Scottish economy. (Scotsman page 2)

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Spending Deficit: Chancellor Alistair Darling is set to unveil plans within the next few weeks to halve the government’s spending deficit over four years, his deputy at the Treasury said yesterday. (Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 9, Herald page 2)

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Bausch and Lomb: West Lothian Chamber of Commerce CEO David McDougall has blamed Scottish Labour and SNP politicians for failing to act to save the company from being relocated and the consequent unemployment of 500 people. (Scotsman page 14, Herald page 5)

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Lloyds Banking Group: Graeme Shankland, the head of special assets at Lloyds Banking Group has launched a bid to buy out as many as 60 troubled business loans from HBOS Corporate. It is understood that Shankland has put down £600 million on a portfolio estimated to be worth £1.4 billion at its best. (Scotsman page 31)

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PriceWaterhouseCoopers: The Scottish office of PwC has had a higher percentage increase in revenues than that of its parent group. PwC has had a less than 1 percent increase, bringing its value to £2.25 billion. The Scottish office has increased its revenues by 3.7 percent, with a value of £111 million. (Scotsman page 31, Daily Telegraph page B3

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New Bank: A top City financial analyst, Sandy Chen of stockbroker Panmure Gordon is planning to set up his own bank with former Bank of Scotland chairman Sir Peter Burt as chairman. They are hoping for an initial investment of £100 million to get the bank going. (Scotsman page 32, Herald page 28)

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North Sea: An Aberdeen-based consultancy has reported that oil operators are reluctant to invest in new technology because of the view that the North Sea is becoming a “declining energy base”. (Scotsman page 35)

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Transport 

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National Express: Perth-based transport group Stagecoach are prepared to pay the UK Government £100 million as a “change of control” payment to take over National Express’s rail business. This has been criticised by some City analysts as too high a price, but the Stagecoach group has insisted it will be fair if the Cosmen family/CVC consortium bid for National is successful. (Scotsman page 32)

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Glasgow Subway: The number of people using the Glasgow subway has dropped by 14 per cent in the past two months. The immediate drop in numbers is being attributed to engineering work, but there are concerns that the economic downturn and unemployment rates may continue to inhibit patronage. (Herald page 4)

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Road Congestion: Although road congestion has been lowered in the UK by 31 per cent due to the credit crunch, Scotland’s M8 has remained unaffected. AA president Edmund King has attributed this to the fact that the M8 is a link road, which would tend to be less affected. He also noted Scotland’s strong job security as a factor. (Scotsman page 14)

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Wireless Service: The Scottish Labour Party has called for wireless internet access to be made available for patrons of all trains and buses in Scotland. It asserts this would make public transport more appealing to consumers. (Scotsman page 17)

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Motorist Fees: A Scottish Government-commissioned report has recommended that motorist fees are the best initiative to cut carbon emissions. The study found that at the current rate it is unlikely the target of a 42 per cent cut in carbon emissions can be reached by 2022. It found that increasing charges on parking lots and a national road-pricing scheme had greater potential than the investment in public transport. (Herald page 14)

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Local Government

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Flooding: Moray council leaders are facing a £5million bill as a result of extensive flooding. The council has expressed frustration at the delay in developing a flood alleviation scheme in the area. More than 100 residents are in temporary accommodation due to flood damage. (Herald page 4)

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Health

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Suicide Rate: Experts have warned that the suicide rate in Scotland may increase as unemployment rises. Currently there are 188,000 people in Scotland without a job. This number has risen by 75,000 from last year. (Herald page 4)

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Swine Flu Investment: Investors have given a further £2.4 million to Scottish technology firm Lab901 toward swine flu production. (Scotsman page 31)

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Education

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Education Pilot: Conservatives are urging the Scottish Government to invest in “second chance” centres for students who are excluded from school due to disruptive or violent behaviour. They have run a poll that suggests 70 per cent of Scots support this idea. The scheme would be too costly to consider on a national level, so Conservatives are suggesting that a pilot programme should be run first. (Scotsman page 7)

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Student Exclusions: A YouGov poll has found that 75 per cent of Scots believe that head teachers should have the final say on excluding pupils from school. In contrast, 18 per cent support local authorities making this decision. (Herald page 1)

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Postgraduate Funding: Sir Muir Russell, the principal of Glasgow University, has called for Scotland to put more funding into postgraduate programmes. He believes that this will give Scottish universities a competitive edge, as well as boosting to the economy. (Herald page 8)

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Politics

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Scottish Independence: A leaked minute of an April meeting between some of the Scottish Government’s leading civil servants has revealed the intention that future spending be used toward “preparing Scotland to be a sustainable independent country”. (Scotsman page 1)

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Independence Bill: It has been estimated that the Scottish Government has spent £700,000 promoting the National Conversation. While the referendum bill, announced last week by Alex Salmond, the First Minister, is almost certain to be voted down by the opposition, spending on initiatives to bolster support for independence in the run-up to the planned poll has continued to rise. (Scotsman page 12, Sunday Times page 2, Times page 19)

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Iain Gray: Mr Gray has admitted that most Scottish people do not know that he is the leader of the Labour party. In an interview, Mr Gray has given his opinion on several issues, including his disagreement with the release of al-Megrahi, as well as his opposition to the UK Government’s proposed £500million in budget cuts to the Scottish government. (Scotsman page 4)

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Al-Megrahi: Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie has written to First Minister Alex Salmond requesting the release of all correspondence relating to meetings with Arab states. The Scottish Government has responded that all relevant documentation has been published. (Scotsman page 6, Sunday Herald page 4)

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The FBI has requested Kenny MacAskill’s home address so they can personally deliver a letter of distaste for his decision to release al-Megrahi. The Scottish Police have denied the request. (Scotsman page 6) 

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VisitScotland: Richard Saville-Smith, the PR manager for the Year of Homecoming, is taking VisitScotland to court. He claims that “bullying” by EventScotland caused him to suffer an episode of manic depression. After receiving treatment, he claims he was “kept in limbo” before being let go by the agency. (Scotsman page 12)

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Planning Application: A senior MSP has been criticised after lobbying on behalf of his friend and landlord on a lucrative planning application. MSP Kenneth Gibson backed a plan to build homes on SNP candidate Billy McLaren\’s seaside hotel in Arran. However, Gibson did not inform North Ayrshire Council at the time of his written intervention that he was renting a four-bedroom house from McLaren for an undisclosed sum. (Sunday Herald page 18)

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Scottish Energy Projects: SNP MEP Alyn Smith is requesting that the UK Government be taken to the European Court of Justice for discriminating against renewable energy projects in Scotland. He argues that Scotland is made to pay 10 times more to market their green energy compared than England. (Herald page 9)

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Public Spending: Alex Salmond has been urged by Scottish Conservatives to “come clean” with regard to public spending. This has come in reaction to a report that suggested senior civil servants are planning for the SNP administration to introduce a 5 per cent cut in public sector funding. (Herald page 6, Daily Telegraph page 16)