Daily Political Media Summary: 15 October 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 15 October 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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Lloyds Banking Group: Lloyds Banking Group could be in line to receive up to £5 billion of taxpayers\’ money from Alistair Darling to shore up its finances. The Chancellor is reported to be ready to hand the money over to the part-nationalised group so that it can escape the government\’s toxic asset insurance scheme. (Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 1) 

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Scottish Enterprise: Scotland\’s main economic development agency was accused of "feather-bedding" last night, after terms of a multi-million-pound severance deal for staff were published.  It emerged that Scottish Enterprise spent £41 million over the past four years paying off 350 employees, at an average cost per person of £115,000. The agency offered applicants over the age of 40 lump sums equivalent to two months\’ salary for every year served – almost six times statutory rates. (Scotsman page 2, Telegraph page 11, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph page 11)

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Unemployment: A new report has revealed that almost one in five households in Scotland has nobody employed in them. The figures came out in a Scottish Government report on the same day as separate UK unemployment statistics showed Scotland\’s unemployment rate was catching up with the rest of the UK. The number of people claiming unemployment benefit in Scotland went up by 49,000 in the year to September to 132,000. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 4, Courier page 2, Press and Journal page 5, FT page 1, Daily Express page 2, Sun page 2, Daily Mirror page 14, Daily Mail page 6, STV)

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Green Energy: An agreement signed yesterday between Scotland and India aims to boost green energy in both countries. A memorandum of understanding was signed between the two governments, with the aim of driving innovation in renewable energy and supporting their goals of increasing wind energy, solar power and bio fuels. It will also hopefully lead to more joint working between Indian and Scottish universities and research centres. (Scotsman page 17) 

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Scots Charities: The number of charities closing in Scotland has doubled on the previous year, as the economic downturn takes its toll on the giving sector. More than 1,500 organisations shut their doors in the past year and dozens more are expected to fall victim to the financial crisis. The reasons for charities closing are various, and the total includes 85 groups removed from the register by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator because they were no longer active. The figures emerged one day after the Lloyds TSB Foundation, which has used a share of profits from the banking group to make more than 12,000 donations worth more than £84m, suspended all new grant applications. (Herald page 2) 

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Diageo: Paul Walsh, chief executive of drinks giant Diageo, yesterday said he would not reconsider plans to cut 900 jobs in Kilmarnock and Glasgow, despite demonstrations by affected workers in London and Scotland. The drinks giant plans to close its Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock and the Port Dundas grain distillery in Glasgow under proposals unveiled in June and confirmed last month. (Herald page 30, STV)

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Bankers: Investment bankers are about to enjoy a record bonus season as confidence surges in the financial markets. Just 12 months after the global economy was brought close to collapse by reckless lending, which led to banks to turn to taxpayers for help, stock markets in London and New York are enjoying one of the strongest bull runs in decades and investment banks are preparing to announce huge profits. (Times page 1, Guardian page 26)

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Postal Strike: Union chiefs are poised to set a date for a national postal strike as hopes for a breakthrough in a dispute with Royal Mail over jobs failed last night. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) is expected to give seven days’ formal notice of its intention to strike today, paving the way for a nationwide walkout by more than 120,000 postal workers as early as next Thursday. Britain’s first national postal strike since 2007 is set to paralyse deliveries and add to a backlog of more than 30 million items. (Times page 11, Telegraph page 12)

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Britain’s Debt: Britain’s economy was consigned to a list of those at ‘high risk’ because of spiralling national debt. The European Commission issued a warning that the worsening budget deficit poses serious concerns that the country will be unable to meet future spending commitments such as pensions. (Daily Mail page 12)

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Local Government

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Recession: Councils are entering "one of the most challenging periods of recent times", with finances becoming even tighter, a report warned today. The Accounts Commission said the downturn, and the need to make savings, meant "many councils are facing a very challenging financial outlook". The independent body added that, in these circumstances, it was vital that authorities provided best value. (Scotsman page 2, STV)

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Politics

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By-Election: Alex Salmond predicted yesterday that the fight for Glasgow North East would be a "brammer of a by-election with a monster result" as he launched his party\’s campaign in the constituency. Kicking off the campaign with SNP candidate David Kerr, the First Minister said he wanted to "send a message that will shake the Labour establishment in Glasgow and Westminster to its core". The party believes independence may be its best weapon in winning the seat, with more historical support there for the issue than for the SNP. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 2, Times page 3, Telegraph page 8, Press and Journal page 9, Daily Express page 10, Daily Record page 2, BBC, STV)

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General Election: Alex Salmond will tell the SNP conference this weekend the party is on the verge of a spectacular breakthrough at the next UK General Election. The First Minister said his party is “there or thereabouts” in reaching the levels of support required to meet his target of 20 seats at Westminster. But he said he wants more than this as he seeks to take maximum advantage of Labour’s malaise and the Tories’ struggle to ‘detoxify’ their party north of the Border. (Telegraph page 10) 

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Independence: Magnus Linklater comments in the Times on the Scottish Nationalists and ‘independence-lite, the new moderate approach to devolution’. (Times page 30)

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Debate: Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy reportedly accused Alex Salmond of “running away from a debate. Murphy offered to go head-to-head with the First Minister last month but was turned down. SNP chief whip Stewart Hosie said Westminster leader Angus Robertson had already agreed to take part in a debate. (Daily Record page 2)

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Harriet Harman: Harriet Harman was accused of using the Commons expenses scandal to position herself for the Labour leadership as MPs broke cover yesterday to insist they would refuse to pay money back. Senior Labour figures reportedly believe their deputy leader is ‘shamelessly playing the gallery’ by encouraging a behind the scenes attempt to overturn the controversial audit of MPs’ claims. (Daily Mail page 8)