Daily Political Media Summary: 19 October 2009
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.
Fiscal Powers: The recession has strengthened the case for Holyrood to be given greater power to raise the money it spends, Reform Scotland, the leading economic think-tank, has claimed. In a new paper, entitled ‘Fiscal Powers 2nd Edition’, Reform Scotland says the debate is no longer about whether Holyrood should have more fiscal autonomy, but which revenue-raising functions should be devolved and how. (Scotsman page 5, Sunday Times page 2, Joan McAlpine page 23, Press and Journal page 7, Daily Express page 2)
Lloyds Banking Group: A peacekeeping deal may have emerged between Lloyds Banking Group and its charitable foundation, Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland. Last week, the group announced that it would have to cut £6million a year from its Foundation, which has caused fear that several charities may fold. Politicians have been working with both sides to broker a solution. (Scotsman page 12, The Herald Comment page 13, Sunday Herald page 52)
Recession: The recession is over in the UK, but a sustained recovery relies on a pick-up in world trade because consumer debt is hampering domestic demand, say a group of influential economists. The Ernst & Young (E&Y) Item Club will tomorrow release its autumn report, which will declare that the country is "back from the brink" as confidence in equity markets rebounds. However Dougie Adams, senior economic adviser to the E&Y Scottish Item Club, warns that Scotland faces lagging behind the rest of the UK. "Global market forces will have a big part to play in Scotland\’s return to economic growth as it will do in the rest of the UK. For an enduring recovery, Scotland faces a major challenge of shifting gears to an export and investment-led economy – a process that certainly won\’t take place overnight." (Scotland on Sunday page B1)
A survey of UK self-employed business professionals has shown that two-thirds of Scottish business managers believe Scotland will be experiencing an upturn by spring 2011. (The Herald page 27)
Nurses: A study by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has found that 52 per cent of Scottish nurses have said they are “too busy” to provide the level of care they feel is necessary. The RCN has said although funding for the heath service has more than doubled in the past 10 years, the amount of work for nurses has also increased. (Scotsman page 2, The Times page 15)
Prediabetes: A report from Diabetes UK has warned that an estimated 620,000 Scots have “prediabetes”, which makes them up to 15 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes – or Impaired Glucose Regulation (IGR) – have blood glucose levels higher than normal and are mostly obese or overweight. (The Herald page 3, Daily Telegraph page 14, Daily Express page 8)
Swine Flu: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon urged Scots last night to get vaccinated against swine flu amid fears that cases of the virus will soar over the winter. She used the platform of the last day of the SNP’s conference to tell pensioners and members of other at-risk groups that the jab was their best defence against H1N1. And she warned: “Make no mistake, swine flu can kill and this vaccine will save lives.” Ms Sturgeon also said it would also protect family members, friends and the wider public, as well as helping the NHS. (Press and Journal page 1)
Academic Attainment: A UK-wide parliamentary constituency study has indicated that the number of youth from a poorer background attending university is below goals, and the level of academic attainment for Scotland is lagging behind England. The report has raised fear that Scotland is subject to a “postcode lottery” of achievement, with only three constituencies in the list of 20 best-performing areas for higher education. (Scotsman page 14, The Times page 21)
University Principals: Scotland’s public spending watchdog has been asked to examine the pay of university principals in the higher education sector. Audit Scotland has been called to step in after it emerged that the elite group of officials had been given salary increases of up to 70% over five years while at the same time making staff redundant. Some of the officials, 12 of whom now receive remuneration packages of more than £200,000, have also been getting bonuses and private health care paid by the taxpayer. Hugh Henry, the chair of Holyrood’s public audit committee, said the pay rises were “truly staggering”. (Sunday Herald page 8)
SNP Conference: Alex Salmond set course for the general election yesterday, vowing to reject the cuts deemed necessary by Labour and the Conservatives and insisting there was still the cash available to keep public services afloat. In his keynote speech at the SNP conference in Inverness, the First Minister attacked the "miserable, depressing" prospect of public sector cutbacks, arguing that his opponents could find extra funds if they chose to end Britain\’s nuclear deterrent. He vowed to keep spending going on the NHS, schools and public services.
SNP Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced the end of the “right-to-buy” option, which allowed council tenants to buy their homes. Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government supports those who would like to become home owners, but it must also support those who cannot afford to buy. She says the new policy will protect up to 18,000 houses over the next ten years. Ms Sturgeon also announced the Stracathro Hospital, which has been independent for four years, will be returning to full NHS control.
(Scotsman page 1, page 3, Opinion page 24, The Times page 15, The Herald page 1 and page 6, Analysis page 6, Comment page 13, Daily Telegraph page 10, Post page 15, Scotland on Sunday page 4, Sun page 2)
Scottish Secretary: Conservative Scottish shadow Secretary David Mundell has dismissed claims of a conspiracy afoot by Westminster Conservatives to avoid naming him as Scottish Secretary. It has been rumoured that senior Conservatives believe Mundell would be no match for First Minister Alex Salmond. (Scotsman page 7, The Times page 18, Sunday Herald page 1)
Postal Strike: The postal workers’ union has warned that if the Royal Mail hires 30,000 temporary workers to work during the planned strike, it will only make matters worse. The Royal Mail has said it is doing everything possible to minimise delays for its customers. (Scotsman page 8, The Times page 22, The Herald page 1, Daily Telegraph page 2, Sunday Herald page 2, Sunday Post page 14, Courier page 11)
Orange Order: The SNP has said it welcomes a debate on the constitution with the Orange Order, a Nationalist group which aims to boost the unionist vote in the next General Election. The group claims to have 50,000 members, who are urged to back whichever unionist party is most likely to beat SNP members in individual areas. The Order’s Grand Master Ian Wilson has said the greatest problem Scotland faces is in the growing independence movement. (Scotsman page 8, The Times page 3, The Herald page 6)
Lockerbie: Alex Salmond reignited the row over the release of the Lockerbie bomber by comparing the man who freed him to Gandhi. The First Minister said Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill had followed the same principles as the great spiritual leader, whose civil disobedience movement helped found modern India. The comments were applauded by delegates at the SNP conference in Inverness, but condemned by opposition MSPs and relatives of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing. (Sunday Herald page 16, Press and Journal page 8)
Two referendums: A British government would almost certainly insist on two Scottish independence referendums, raising the cost of the process to up to £14m, according to senior Labour and Tory sources at Westminster. (Sunday times page 1)
Employment Discrimination: A government-directed sting operation into the employment sector has found that Scottish employers discriminate based on the names of applicants. Researchers found that a person with a “Western” name would have to submit an average of nine job applications before being called back, whereas someone with a “minority” name would have to submit sixteen applications. (The Herald page 5)
MSPs Chauffer Expense: The Scottish Parliament has contracted a Glasgow-based chauffer company to drive senior MSPs over the next three years, at a cost of over £100,000. (The Herald page 6)