Daily Political Media Summary: 9 September 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 9 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: Diageo has rejected the Scottish Government\’s plan to halt closure plans in Kilmarnock and Glasgow. Management have just announced their intention to stick to their original plan, despite the Government\’s offer of public subsidies to retain 900 jobs in the West of Scotland.  The firm will instead close the Port Dundas distillery and packaging plant in Kilmarnock. Management say it will be offset with the creation of 400 new jobs at the company\’s Levenmouth plant and an £86 million investment in Fife. (STV)

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Recession: The National Institute for Economic and Social Research, one of the foremost independent economic forecasters, estimated that Britain had seen economic growth in the three months to August. Its announcement coincided with figures showing that the manufacturing sector was enjoying its strongest growth for 18 months, that consumer confidence was recovering and that the jobs market was improving for the first time in almost a year and a half. The stock market has bounced back, with shares in London hitting their highest level of the year yesterday. Estate agents reported that house sales and inquiries were up by more than 50 per cent in August on the same month last year. (Telegraph page 1, FT page 3, Guardian page 1)

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Spending Cuts: Alistair Darling set Labour a new “test of character” yesterday to make the hard choices required to ensure that public spending was devoted to the areas that needed it most.  The Chancellor prepared his party and the country for a new era of spending restraint to reduce the budget deficit after the economic crisis. Mr Darling spoke amid further signs that the recession is ending. (Times page 8, Press and Journal page 11)

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Crime

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Life Sentences: Murderers in Scotland will face heavier sentences, the worst killers receiving "life to mean life”, if appeal judges heed a call by the Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, QC. The country\’s senior prosecutor complained that a sentencing scale for murder of 12 to 30 years in jail was too compressed and inadequate for exceptional cases, such as terrorism or repeated sexual violence. She said a period which exceeded the natural life expectancy of the offender "may be appropriate."(Scotsman page 5, Herald page 1, Telegraph page 2, Press and Journal page 1, STV)

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Transport 

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Landslide: A landslide closed part of the A83 yesterday, as storms battered the West Coast and Central Scotland, disrupting rail services, ferry sailings and causing traffic chaos. The road was shut in both directions between the A814 at Arrochar and the A815 turn-off near Cairndow in Argyll, police said. There were no reports of any injuries but drivers faced a diversion of around 55 miles via Crianlarich and Dalmally. (Times page 11, Press and Journal page 9, STV)

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High Speed Rail: Eleven big cities will announce a joint campaign for a high-speed rail network serving the entire country tomorrow. UK Government plans involve the development of one high-speed north-south line, but the UK transport secretary, Lord Adonis, has said the cities\’ move has the government\’s "strong support", suggesting that development of a high-speed line would quickly lead to offshoot lines. The 11 cities in the campaign – Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield – said: "The campaign is deliberately focused on the importance of building a whole network to link all our major economic centres together, not simply a sterile debate about where a first route should go." (Guardian page 7) 

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Health

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Alcohol Ads: Doctors have called for a total ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship of sport and music events to tackle the UK\’s serious drink problems. The British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday outlined measures to "tackle the soaring cost of alcohol-related harm". Doctors said sponsorship of sporting and music events such as T in the Park must end because of the influence such marketing has on young people, in particular. They also called for an end to promotions such as two-for-one deals and ladies\’ free entry nights at clubs. (Scotsman page 10, FT page 4, Courier page 3)

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Education

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Better Teachers: Smaller class sizes are a "red herring" and the focus should be on improving the quality of people becoming teachers to raise exam results, according to a Scottish academic. John McLaren, an honorary research fellow at Glasgow University, cast doubt on the key SNP policy that has seen few councils reduce classes in the first three years of primary to the target of 18 pupils. (Scotsman page 25, Times page 21) 

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Parental Choice: Parents would be given a state-funded allowance to send their children to a school of their choice under a Tory overhaul of the Scottish education system.  The scheme would also give parents the right to demand a transfer for their child to a better-achieving school, putting headmasters in direct competition for their revenue. (Telegraph page 9)

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 Politics

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Foreign Affairs: The first document outlining how an independent Scotland would conduct its foreign affairs has been unveiled by the SNP. At a ceremony in Brussels, Scottish external affairs minister Mike Russell said Scots could have a "dual citizenship" arrangement with the rest of the UK. In the document, entitled Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr Russell also claims that an independent Scotland could share embassies and other facilities with the UK. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 9, Daily Mail page 5, STV)

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Al-Megrahi: A Holyrood committee is to hold a full inquiry into the way the decision to free the Lockerbie bomber was made. It is understood that the planned inquiry, by the justice committee, will focus on concerns that the decision to send Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi back to Libya was based on investment and trade concerns rather than legal and health grounds. (Scotsman page 8, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 8)

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MPs: David Cameron has vowed to cut the number of Scottish MPs by 10%, if he wins power at the General Election. The Conservative leader announced the proposals as part of a raft of measures that includes pledging to cut ministerial pay and end MPs’ subsidised food and drink if he gets into power. Mr Cameron said he would require the Boundary Commission to set out detailed plans to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 585, saving an estimated £15.5m a year. (Herald page 1)