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Daily Political Media Summary: 10 November 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 10 November 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: Union officials claimed Diageo chief executive Paul Walsh visited the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock yesterday to threaten workers protesting against its closure. Unite’s national officer for food and drink, Jenny Formby, claimed Mr Walsh spent only a short amount of time with employees and told  workers that Diageo might return to statutory minimum redundancy packages if they continued to protest. (Scotsman page 20 Herald page 4)

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Recession: A Populus poll has found that Britons are more optimistic about the economy than they have been for the past 18 months. The findings come today as October high street sales are the highest they’ve been in seven years, igniting hopes that Britain is finally emerging from the recession. (Times page 1)

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Crime

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Women in Prison: An inquiry into the status of women in prison has found that 80 per cent have mental health problems, and about 2 per cent of those should be in hospital. Members of Holyrood’s Equal Opportunities Committee raised “deep concern” over reports that there may be insufficient opportunities for treatment outside Cornton Vale, Scotland’s only jail for women. (Scotsman page 13) The Committee’s report also said that half of female prisoners’ children are imprisoned as adults. (Herald page 2, Press and Journal page 7, BBC, STV)

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Health

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Stirling Royal Infirmary: The Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI), set up to tackle bugs such as MRSA and Clostridium Difficile, yesterday published a report which found Stirling Royal Infirmary to be unsanitary. The inspectors found dusty floors, cobwebs, and dirty toilets in the hospital. The HEI made eight requirements and five recommendations for improvements. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 9, Daily Telegraph page 16, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 5)

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NHS Drugs: A landmark deal between the NHS and pharmaceutical companies has granted Scottish patients access to expensive life-saving drugs. The agreement is set to save health services in Scotland tens of thousands of pounds. People who have cancer will be among the first to benefit from the deal. The agreement would mean that in some cases, companies will pay for therapies for patients who do not respond to treatment, or pick up the pill for part of its cost. So far two drugs have been approved, but it is understood a number of other deals are being considered by experts. (Scotsman page 1)

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Pay Gap: The British Medical Association has found a £15,245 pay gap between male and female doctors working in the NHS. While part of the pay gap is due to experience, the study claims that between 40 to 50 per cent of the difference is due to discrimination. (Guardian page 1)

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Education

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Education Reform: Councillor David Berry, who yesterday announced the proposal to set up a trust to run schools, has said that the East Lothian model could serve as a prototype for educational change in Scotland. He attacked Labour leader Iain Gray, who came out in opposition to the plans, accusing him of getting caught up in “party political rhetoric”.  Mr Gray has accused the Council of dressing up money-saving ideas as better services. (Scotsman page 9)

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Liz Smith, the Tory schools spokesman, said the move increased pressure on Fiona Hyslop, the Education Minister, to back Conservative plans for reform and break away from the SNP “obsession with local authority control”. (Daily Telegraph page 1, Commentary page 12)

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The Educational Institute of Scotland has criticised the proposal, saying that headteachers already have too many responsibilities and work under strained budgets. Ken Cunningham of School Leaders Scotland, however, believes the proposals are worth consideration, saying that it is time to get a bit more “imaginative” about how schools are managed. (Herald page 12)

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Ross Martin, political analyst and policy advisor specializing in education, encourages debate on Scotland’s education system, and that reform must involve “a mixed economy” that appreciates both public and private sectors. (Scotsman page 33)

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In a Letter to the Editor, Ben Thomson of Reform Scotland writes that comparisons of Scotland’s education system to that of other countries are important if we want to improve the performance of our schools. (Scotsman page 34)

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Politics

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Nuclear Power: Labour leader Iain Gray has accused the SNP of tossing aside 18,000 construction jobs and millions of pounds in investment because of its opposition to nuclear power. David Mundell, the Conservative shadow secretary of state for Scotland, has accused Alex Salmond of hypocrisy by calling for a nuclear power-free Scotland but also pleading for nuclear power headquarters to remain in Scotland. The UK Government has signalled a huge expansion in nuclear power for Wales and England, naming up to 10 sites where new power stations could be built. (Herald page 1, Opinion page 14, Scotsman Opinion page 32)

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Terry Murden of the Scotsman comments that the SNP need to be more open-minded about nuclear policy or Scotland risks being left behind in the energy debate. (Scotsman Business 6)

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Over-50s Redundancies: Glasgow City Council is set to offer staff that are over 50 years old redundancy packages in an attempt to cut costs. The council has insisted that redundancies are not compulsory, and expect between 1,000 and 1,500 workers within the age bracket to come forward. (Herald page 1, Opinion page 14)

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Glasgow North East By-Election: Labour, Lib Dem, and SNP have all urged voters in the area not to vote BNP in Thursday’s election. BNP leader Nick Griffin made his second trip to the constituency yesterday. Alistair Darling and Nick Clegg both denounced the BNP’s “nasty message of hate”, while the SNP issued a statement saying it was “vital” the BNP is rejected. (Times page 9)

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SNP candidate David Kerr admits that he is behind, but says there is a swing towards the SNP and it’s a matter of whether that swing is enough to give the SNP victory. (Daily Telegraph page 15, Daily Express page 12, Sun page 21)

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Referendum: SNP finance secretary John Swinney admitted yesterday that he had not put the referendum into the Scottish budget. Scottish Liberal Democrat Tavish Scott said that the money would have to come from key services in the budget, which could put schools or hospitals at risk. Labour’s finance spokesman Andy Kerr added that the £9million referendum is a move that is “a mixture of cynicism and incompetence”. The Scottish Government said last night that no public services would be put at risk. (Scotsman page 14)

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Calman Commission: Scottish Constitution Minister Michael Russell said that the Calman Commission sold the Scottish people short, and that only the SNP’s National Conversation represented the potential for change. Mr Russell said that the SNP agreed with “about half” of the Calman Commission’s findings but that its recommendations are either flawed or do not go far enough. (Herald page 8, Daily Telegraph page 15)

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Scots Regiments: Ministry of Defence figures have shown that three Scottish Regiments that have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are undermanned. The Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are both 13 per cent under-manned, while the Scots Guards are 12 per cent under-manned. The gap reflects the number of trained personnel required versus the actual number of troops fit for duty. (Scotsman page 9)

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Cigarette Display Ban: Daniel Torras, managing director of Japan Tobacco International, writes that banning the display of cigarettes will encourage young people to start smoking, as illicit trade will occur with cheaply-made cigarettes. (Scotsman page 32)

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Minimum Price on Alcohol: The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) intends to fight plans for the introduction of a minimum price on alcohol. A leaked copy of the SWA’s public affairs brief seemed to reach out for companies willing to fight the legislation. (Herald page 4)

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