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Daily Political Media Summary: 26 October 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 26 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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Recession: Shadow business secretary Kenneth Clarke has warned that Britain’s economic recovery will be “feeble and fragile”, and that whoever wins the next election will need a full Parliament for the forecast to improve. These comments come in reaction to Gordon Brown’s pledge to return the economy to growth by the end of the year. David Cameron has insisted that a new government would be needed to restore growth, blaming the current government’s mistakes for the fact the Britain remains in a recession. (Scotsman page 2, Press and Journal page 2)

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Sir Tom Hunter has urged Alex Salmond to cut income tax by 3p, which he says will bolster the Scottish economy and help it emerge from the recession. Sir Tom has said that Alex Salmond could use the tax-varying powers already at his disposal to thrust an extra £1billion into the economy. He also believes that cutting income tax would ease the burden on small business owners. (Sunday Times page 2)

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Scotland’s economy is said to be similar to that of the rest of the UK, despite earlier reports which showed it was in a worse condition. However, reports still indicate that Scotland, along with the whole of the UK are experiencing the worst economic recession since records began in the 1950s. Finance secretary John Swinney has pointed out that growth has been recorded for the first time since the first quarter of 2008. Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has accused the SNP of “freezing in the headlights” of the banking crisis, leaving Westminster to save Scottish banks. (Sunday Post page 15)

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HBoS: Shadow chancellor George Osborne has hinted that the Bank of Scotland may become independent if a Conservative government comes to power in the next election. He said he wants to see smaller banks on the high street to compete with larger banks.  (Scotsman page 2)

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Lloyds TSB Foundation: Sir Tom Farmer, one of Scotland’s leading businessmen, has weighed in on the Lloyds TSB Foundation controversy, saying that the Foundation must maintain the right to select which charities it supports. The Foundation is facing funding cuts from the bank, which also wants the right to choose charitable funding that goes along with its priorities. Sir Tom has warned that if the new restrictions are put in place, many grassroots charities may struggle to survive. (Scotsman page 9, Opinion page 24, Sunday Times page 15) The Lloyds Foundation chief executive Mary Craig has accused the banking group of refusing £2million in funds, due to the fact that members were not allowed to participate in the £4billion Lloyds rights issue. (Sunday Herald page 67)

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Scottish Enterprise: Scottish Enterprise chief executive Jack Perry, who steps down next week, has said that although SE has had some major successes, such as the Edinburgh Bioquarter and the Translational Medicine Research Collaboration, efforts to reform the group were often hindered by a lack of political and popular support. He has also said public opposition towards SE from the government undermined the collaboration it was meant to oversee. He suggested that if Scotland was able to overcome internal fragmentation, it would have the potential to become more competitive in the global market. (Sunday Herald page 64)

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Local Government

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Atlantic Square Project: A £100million riverside project for Glasgow has been unveiled. The Atlantic Square project in Glasgow’s International Financial Services District is set to build office buildings, a 150-bedroom hotel, and retail and leisure space around a courtyard. The project is expected to create up to 2,500 jobs. (Herald page 3)

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Health

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Swine Flu: The Scottish Government’s swine flu vaccine programme was described as “descending into chaos” on Saturday, as doctors were told of a shortage of vaccines. The plan to vaccinate those with the highest risk of catching swine flu was to begin today, but many GPs are being told that supplies will not arrive today, and that it may take up to three weeks. GPs have been reportedly inundated with phone calls from the public, asking when they can expect to receive their jab. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said that there will be a “phased commencement to the vaccination programme” due to limited supplies. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Herald page 13, Daily Telegraph page 4)

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Two more people have died in Scotland from swine flu, an 83-year old woman from Paisley and a 50-year old woman from Glasgow. Both were said to have had “significant underlying health conditions”. This brings the total number of deaths in Scotland from swine flu to 23. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 1)

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Cancer Targets: Campaigners expressed dismay about research which suggested that Scottish councils are doing less to promote cancer awareness. The anti-smoking group ASH Scotland has found that only 8 out of 32 Scottish councils have Single Outcome Agreements which pledge to encourage local services to work together to improve cancer education. This is a drop from last year when 20 councils adopted SOAs. (Scotsman page 13)

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Politics

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Lockerbie Bombing: It has been revealed that eight men who were considered “high-level” suspects in the Lockerbie bombing had not been investigated properly because the Libyan government refused to co-operate with Scottish police. Stuart Henderson, who spent four years leading the investigation, has said that Scottish police had intended to interview eight further suspects other than al-Megrahi, but that the Libyan government refused to release them for questioning. Relatives of the Lockerbie victims are said to be concerned that the police investigation is being conducted to thwart their call for a full public inquiry. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Scotsman page 1, Opinion page 24, Herald page 1, Analysis page 9, Comment page 12, Times page 9, Daily Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, Guardian page 10, Financial Times page 2, Daily Record page 2, BBC, STV)

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Pylons: Campaigners have vowed to fight against unconfirmed plans to build 600 pylons between Beauly and Denny. It had been reported yesterday that the Scottish Government may approve the £350million project within weeks. Protestors have complained the pylons would ruin the Scottish countryside and that alternative measures such as moving the cables to another location should be considered. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 4, Comment page 12, Daily Telegraph page 15, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, Daily Express page 4, BBC)

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Royal Mail: Adam Crozier, chief executive of the Royal Mail, has expressed hope that today’s talks will lead to “common sense” on the part of the Communication Workers’ Union. Up to 120,000 workers are set to stage a second strike on Thursday. Mr Crozier has also warned that the strike may put an end to sending Christmas cards, as well as paying bills via post. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 4, Times page page 5, Daily Telegraph page 2, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 1, BBC, STV)

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Scottish Independence: MSP Michael Russell has argued that it is imperative for Scots to have the right to vote for independence. He has said that the Scottish Parliament currently works under a “financial straitjacket” while Scottish interests are being debated without proper representation. (Scotland on Sunday page 18)

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Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Lib Dems, has said that he would not support Alex Salmond’s referendum.  Mr Scott’s allies, however, have not ruled out possible support for a future bill, saying that circumstances are not right for the current referendum. (Scotland on Sunday page 2)

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Papal Visit: Jim Murphy has said that he plans to request that Pope Benedict visit Scotland next year. The Pope is rumoured to be visiting the UK in 2010, although no firm plans have been announced. Mr Murphy is expected to meet the Pope next Wednesday. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 3, Daily Express page 7)

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Military Cash Boost: The SNP have accused the Ministry of Defence of not allocating Scotland the correct amount of military spending. The party claims that Scotland has been given £4.3billion less than it is rightfully owed. The SNP is to insist that the MoD significantly boosts its contribution to Scotland’s military budget. (Sunday Times page 1)

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BNP: Some BNP members have criticised Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC1’s Question Time, saying that he should have been more articulate and forceful. The party’s legal officer, Lee Barnes, called for “white riots” across the country, and said that Griffin “(failed) to press the attack” during his appearance. (Scotsman page 8)

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Charlie Baillie, the BNP candidate in the Glasgow North East by-election, has said he will “go to his grave” wanting his party to remain white only. Baillie said that whites need a party to represent their views. This statement appears to be in contradiction to Nick Griffin’s statement to a court last month that he would ask his party to oversee racial and religious integration. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Glasgow Rail Link: The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Scotland has criticised the SNP for its budget plans and for scrapping the proposed rail link to Glasgow airport. The group claims that the devolved spending plan is “inadequate” by cutting investments rather than protecting them. (Daily Express page 2)