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Daily Political Media Summary: 6 October 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 6 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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European Funding: Two major green energy projects in Scotland, including the east coast\’s first offshore wind farm, are to be given more than £100 million of European funding. In a show of support for Scotland\’s renewables industry, the European Commission will grant £37million to a planned wind farm off the Aberdeen coast. A further £67million will go towards a transmission hub off the north coast of Scotland. (Scotsman)

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Services Sector: The services sector grew at the fastest pace in two years in September, in a sign that the recovery in the largest part of the economy is still going strong, even if the manufacturing sector has stumbled slightly. The purchasing managers’ index for activity in service businesses rose to 55.3 from 54.1, where a level above 50 is consistent with companies reporting a rise in activity compared with the previous month.  (FT page 3)

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Crime

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Central Belt Bias: A Holyrood committee has been accused of central belt bias by choosing only to hear verbal evidence on police budget pressures from Scotland’s biggest force. Grampian Joint Police Board convener Martin Greig is unhappy that the financially challenged north-east force is being denied the chance to address MSPs in favour of Strathclyde Police. The Scottish Parliament’s justice committee will be taking evidence from Strathclyde Police Chief Constable Stephen House, force finance director Allan Macleod and joint board convener Paul Rooney. (Press and Journal page 8)

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Crime Crackdown: Drugs with a street value of more than £6 million have been seized by Strathclyde Police during a month-long crackdown on organised crime gangs. Officers have also recovered £150,000 in cash and arrested 51 people with alleged links to organised crime. In the first four weeks of the force’s Break the Circle of Violence Campaign a further 14 people were arrested for alleged firearms offences, 27 illegal firearms taken off the streets and more than 1,000 people reported for alleged drugs offences. (Herald page 2, STV) 

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Health

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Flu Jab: The seasonal flu jab campaign has been launched by Scottish Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon. GP practices will now start holding flu clinics with free vaccinations for over 65s, healthcare staff and those with a medical condition which puts them “at risk”. This includes people with breathing problems, heart conditions and diabetes. A separate vaccination drive for swine flu will get under way in the coming weeks. Ms Sturgeon was joined at the launch of the campaign in Edinburgh by chief medical officer Dr Harry Burns. (Herald page 11) 

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Education

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Finance Curriculum: Scottish ministers want schoolchildren to learn how to get through the credit crunch and use money responsibly in the future. Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop yesterday announced that every child in Scotland will get lessons in basic financial skills at school. (Scotsman, Telegraph page 14, Courier page 3, Press and Journal page 3, BBC, STV)

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Politics

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Annabel Goldie: Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie has branded the SNP an "irrelevance" as she reportedly warned First Minister Alex Salmond to "put up or shut up" if he wanted to face a debate. In a blistering attack on the SNP, Ms Goldie dismissed Mr Salmond\’s demands to be included in a TV debate with the leaders of the UK parties as he was not standing for the UK Parliament. She also insisted that a Tory victory at the next election would help save Scotland from the nationalist "threat" and vowed to fight "tooth and nail" against Mr Salmond\’s "creeping nationalism". (Scotsman, Daily Express page 5, Telegraph page 6, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Herald page 2, STV) 

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Scottish Conservatives: The Conservatives have to persuade Scottish voters to use their candidates, rather than the Nationalists, to oust Labour. The best way to do this is by giving those voters the chance to judge David Cameron as often as possible, Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph. (Telegraph page 12)

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Suicide Pact:  Authorities are to investigate a residential unit that allowed two teenage girls to leave at night and take their own lives by leaping hand-in-hand from the Erskine Bridge. Neve Lafferty and Georgia Rowe died on Sunday when they plunged 125 feet into the River Clyde. Questions were raised last night about how the girls managed to leave the centre unsupervised and MP Jim Sheridan has called for an inquiry.  (Scotsman, Daily Record page 1, Daily Express page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 3, Herald page 1, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 3, Guardian page 1, BBC, STV)

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David Cameron: David Cameron has said a Conservative Government would take "unpopular" decisions including squeezing pay, cutting jobs and making people work longer to pay off Britain\’s debts. Criticising Labour\’s "cynical and limited" approach, Mr Cameron promised a "comprehensive" package of changes at the party\’s conference in Manchester, including bringing forward a rise in the basic state pension age and curbs on public sector salaries. (Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, FT page 1, Press and Journal page 12, Guardian page 1)

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Borrowing Powers: David Cameron has reportedly ruled out one of the key recommendations of the Calman Commission by distancing himself from the proposal to give the Scottish Parliament immediate powers to borrow cash for big construction projects. The Conservative leader indicated in a radio interview yesterday that if the Tories come to power next year, they would find it “difficult” to grant Holyrood the power to borrow money – as the Commission on Scottish Devolution proposed. The Tory leader said he believed that a government led by him would have to concentrate on reducing the UK deficit and not risk expanding that deficit by giving borrowing powers to Holyrood. He said: “It would be a difficult time to do it. Right now, the real problem is the scale of borrowing by the UK as a whole. The financial clauses of Calman are the most important and they will have to be looked at very carefully. Right now the priority is to get borrowing down at a UK level.” (Times page 13)

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Public Sector Pay Freeze: The highest earners in the public sector were last night given notice by Alistair Darling that they were in line for a salary freeze next year.

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The Chancellor wrote to the chairmen of the salary review bodies urging that there should be no pay rise for about 750,000 people including judges, senior NHS managers or GPs. Senior civil servants are entering the final year of a three-year pay deal in 2010, but Mr Darling wants the agreement torn up given the state of the public finances. (Press and Journal page 11)