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Daily Political Media Summary: 2 November 2009

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 2 November 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.

Economy

Banking: Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced that three new high street banks are to be created after Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group are split up and Northern Rock is sold off. Mr Darling wants to improve competition and recoup the billions of pounds of public money used to bail the banks out. (Sunday Herald page 1, Scotsman Opinion page 26, Herald page 1, Herald Analysis page 4, Times page 3, Guardian page 6, Daily Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1)

A group of Scottish businessmen may be in talks to buy the TSB from Lloyds Banking Group when it is sold as part of the company’s break-up. The businessmen are said to be in talks with senior politicians, the Treasury, and the European Commission about relaunching TSB Scotland as an independent Scottish bank. An announcement on the future of the Lloyds Banking Group is expected tomorrow. (Scotsman page 1)

Unemployment: Accountants BDO have warned that the UK unemployment level is set to rise to 2.75million next year, a substantial rise from the 2.47million people currently out of work. (Scotsman page 10, Press and Journal page 5)

Recession: Consumer confidence has hit an 18-month high and small businesses are at their most optimistic for two and a half years, indicating that possibly the worst of the recession has passed. Today’s consumer confidence report, published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and Nielson, signifies that people are feeling more confident about their finances and job prospects. (Scotsman page 33, Guardian page 25)

Crime

Sex Offender Scheme: Ministers are considering a new law which would allow parents to request background information on anyone who works closely with their children. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill is said to be waiting for the results of the pilot programme in Tayside to be released next summer, but that the plan is to begin the programme across Scotland after that. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Daily Telegraph page 10, Press and Journal page 7, Daily Mail page 1, Sunday Post page 4)

New Crime-Fighting Agency: A 40-officer team comprising the Scottish Intelligence Co-ordination Agency (SICU) is being created to combat Scotland’s problems with human trafficking, serious fraud, and gangsters. The creation of this unit follows the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency’s (SCDEA) findings in June that there are 367 serious organised crime groups in Scotland, almost all of which are involved in drugs offences. The new unit will be based in Livingston, and is set to begin work in June. (Herald page 1)

Gang Fighter Recruitment: Gang fighters in Glasgow are being offered £6 an hour jobs if they agree to give up violence. The programme, started by the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV), is currently recruiting recently “retired” gang members in an effort to reduce the number of gangs in the Glasgow area and to deter youngsters from leading a life of crime. The pilot programme has received UK Government support and will be funded by Westminster’s Future Jobs Fund, which will commence next month. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

Health

Swine Flu: Three more people have died while suffering from swine flu, bringing the total number of deaths in Scotland to 29. (Sunday Times page 1, Herald page 2, Courier page 11, STV)

Politics

Independence Referendum: Lib Dem leader Tavish Scott and Tory leader Annabel Goldie have united in opposition to the SNP’s plan for a referendum on Scottish independence. Both have accused Alex Salmond of “obsessing” over the referendum and have called for the SNP leader to drop the issue. Meanwhile, a YouGov poll for the Green Party suggests that Nationalists and Labour are equal in voting intentions for the regional vote at the next Holyrood elections, with the SNP ahead of Labour in the constituency vote. (Sunday Herald page 13, Sunday Times page 1, Herald page 6, Comment page 14, Times page 17, Courier page 9, Daily Telegraph page 10, BBC)

Poppy Wreaths: Veterans groups have expressed outrage that MSPs are able to charge taxpayers for the cost of their Remembrance Day wreaths. The decision was made a month ago by Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body (SPCB), despite a public outcry last year when some MSPs charged as much as £170 for the wreaths. (Times page 16, Daily Telegraph page 11, Press and Journal page 9, STV)

Lockerbie: Gordon Brown has written a letter to the victims’ families, informing them that the UK Government will not hold a public inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing. The Prime Minister said it was “inappropriate” to hold a public inquiry and that a Scotland-based inquiry would be sufficient. (Sunday Times page 2, Daily Telegraph page 11)

Cash Rip-Off: Local Authorities will be £270m worse off next year under the SNP, according to opposition politicians who said ministers were ‘ripping off’ councils. (Sunday Times page 2)

Business Community: Jenny Hjul comments in the Sunday Times that the Scottish business community has ‘lost its patience with the nationalists’. (Sunday Times page 24)

Property Tax: Emails from the Scottish Government indicate that SNP ministers may be considering a move to a property tax. Finance secretary John Swinney’s department may be looking at replacing the SNP’s pledge of raising local tax through income with one based on property. (Scotsman page 13)

Drugs Row: Scotland’s leading drugs expert Neil McKeganey has weighed in on the controversy surrounding Professor David Nutt’s assertion that ecstasy and cannabis were less harmful than alcohol. Mr McKeganey has accused the professor of “undermining” efforts to tackle narcotics, saying that Nutt has been “on a collision course with the government” for several years. (Herald page 1)