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Daily Political Media Summary: 13 November 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 13 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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Immigration:  Business leaders have opposed Gordon Brown’s plans to reduce non- European immigration into the UK stating that it would harm the Scottish economy which currently benefits from the flow of skilled migrants in areas of care, catering and engineering.  Mr Brown’s speech on the issue highlights concern over the costs of immigration into the UK and follows the heightened popularity of the British National Party.  (Scotsman page 1, Times page 20, Guardian page 13, Financial Times page 2, Telegraph page 10, Press and Journal page 11, BBC)

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Factory closure:  A factory which employs people who are blind and disabled has been threatened with closure following monthly losses of £70,000.  Glencraft which currently employs 50 people has received some offers of assistance from the third sector.  (Scotsman page 15)

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Gender pay gap: Statistics of full time employment in Scotland have highlighted an increasing gap of approximately 0.4 per cent between male and female wages. Harriet Harman – responsible for women’s issues in the UK – has promised a new Equality Bill to tackle the issue.  (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 4)

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Repossession rates: The Council of Mortgage Lenders have reported that the number of people losing their homes has been reduced by a third thanks to low interest rates, government assistance and lenders being less restrictive with owners struggling to make payments.  Despite rising unemployment, the number of repossessions rose only by 3 per cent although it is still at its highest since 1995.  (Scotsman page 20)

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Kenmore: Lloyds Banking Group have sent administrators into the 21 companies within the Kenmore property group as part of its crackdown on debt accumulated by the Bank of Scotland.  The property group’s entering into administration has been said to mark the end of Scotland’s once thriving commercial property community.  (Herald page 1)

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Diageo:  Drinks giant Diageo has come under further criticism as it has emerged that it received public funding for the expansion of its bottle plant in Kilmarnock which is now closing and will result in a loss of 700 jobs.  Green MSP Patrick Harvie has criticised the company for using government money to fund redundancies.  (Herald page 13)

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Transport 

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Renationalised trains:  East coast main line Scotland to London trains will be renationalised from tonight for a period of 18 months.  The UK Government has taken over the franchise from failed rail operator National Express East Coast.  It is unlikely any obvious changes to the costs of the service will be seen, however the £2.50 reservation fee will be removed.   (Scotsman page 23)

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Train stations:  Glasgow Central, Paisley Gilmore Street and Edinburgh Waverley are just a few of the train stations which will be renovated over the next four years.  The project, estimated at £3.25 billion, will be carried out by Network Rail.  (Herald page 4) 

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Glasgow Airport:  The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has outlined the problems facing Glasgow Airport in terms of passenger numbers which have fallen by 20 per cent in the last two years.  Edinburgh and Prestwick Airports have benefited from use by low cost airline companies which have increased passenger numbers.  (Herald page 6)

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Health

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Dementia medication:  A study outlining the prevalence of dementia patients being given unnecessary doses of anti-psychotic drugs in nursing homes and hospitals has prompted Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon to take action.  This has followed complaints that drugs are being used as a “chemical cosh” to enable easier care of patients. It has been estimated that 1,800 deaths are linked to overprescribing.  (Scotsman page 13, Times page 17, Guardian page 18)

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Swine flu:  Health Protection Scotland has stated that the number of Scots affected by swine flu has once again risen in the last week to an estimate of 21,500 people.  Additionally, a further person who had underlying health problems has died having contracted the disease, bringing the number of related deaths to 34 whilst in England the number of people affected has decreased.  (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 5, Guardian page 17, Press and Journal page 14, BBC, STV)

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C-diff: It has emerged that health officials in Dundee have released inaccurate information over the outbreak of Clostridium Difficile at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital.  It was originally reported that two people had died directly and three people had related deaths over a period of 10 weeks instead of the correct period of 2 weeks.  Labour has accused the SNP of “lacking transparency” in its reporting of the issue. (Herald page 8, Times page 13)

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Education

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Trust schools: Proposals to improve schools in East Lothian Council through the introduction of education trusts has been backed by education expert Professor Geoff Whitty.  The endorsement follows growing pressure from the Conservatives on the SNP to replace Education Secretary Fiona Hyslop with someone who “would tackle the issue”.  The trusts seek to devolve more authority to community-led boards of governors in a bid to improve performance.  (Scotsman page 7, Times page 36)

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Catchment area:  Glasgow City Council has registered a formal complaint over East Renfrewshire Council’s decision to remove hundreds of houses from the catchment area for St Ninian’s School which has recently become oversubscribed.  (Herald page 10)

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Council cuts:  Council plans to make financial savings by cutting staffing, closing schools and altering pupils’ lunches and lessons have left parents to meet some of the costs of basic activities.  MSPs have launched an inquiry into education funding which will look at all potential areas for saving.  (TESS page 1)

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Class sizes:  A review of class sizes in Scotland may recommend councils setting their own class size limits following the difficulty in implementing the SNP pledge to reduce class sizes.  (TESS page 3)

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Politics

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Glasgow North East by-election: Labour has dashed the SNP’s hope of winning the Glasgow North East by-election as Willie Bain has won with a majority of 8,111, although turnout was a record low for a Westminster by-election in Scotland at 32.9 per cent. Retention of this seat will be welcomed by Gordon Brown, especially following the loss of the Glasgow East seat in 2008.  (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Guardian, Financial Times, Telegraph page 2, Press and Journal page 12, Courier page 12, BBC, STV)

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Referendum:  The SNP have faced increasing pressure to scrap plans to hold a referendum on independence due to the rising costs.  Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has outlined the £12million costs of the SNP’s “flagship policy” as wasteful.  The costs include salaries for civil servants, events and leaflets.  (Scotsman page 13, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane page 15, Courier page 10)

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Homecoming:  Disappointing ticket sales have led to a downgrading of venue for the key event The Homecoming Live: The Final Fling. Both the recession and “perceived politicisation” have been cited for the lack of interest in the event.  (Herald page 4)

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BBC:  The BBC has again come under pressure following expenses claims by director general Mark Thompson and other senior executives.  The information was posted by the BBC following calls for greater openness over salaries and remuneration.  However, the publication of 70 pence parking meter fee and £647.50 for a night’s stay at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas has drawn the most attention. (Financial Times page 4, Scotsman page 7, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 3, Herald page 5, Guardian page 1, Times page 6)