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Daily Political Media Summary: 24 November 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 24 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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Recession: Dominic Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that Britain will face a rise in unemployment into next year. Mr Strauss-Kahn said that there is an improvement in the overall outlook of Britain’s economy and indications that job cuts may be coming to an end. He said the economy appears to be stabilizing but “is still highly vulnerable”. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 30)

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Lloyds Banking Group: Labour MSP George Foulkes has called for Lloyds to “stop playing human chess” with its executives. The call comes amid concern that responsibility for Bank of Scotland may be ebbing away to the London-based executives of Lloyds Banking Group. Mr Foulkes has said that Lloyds ‘should now divest themselves of the Bank of Scotland’ so the Scottish bank can maintain its structure and keep management in Scotland. (Scotsman page 6)

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Transport 

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GARL: Scotland’s six main business groups have joined forces to try to save Glasgow’s axed airport rail link. They said the SNP Government’s decision to scrap the rail shuttle to the city centre would hit Glasgow’s international links, worsen congestion and lose construction jobs. The business groups are the CBI Scotland, the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland, the Institute of Directors Scotland, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and Scottish Financial Enterprise. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 9, Times page 10, Daily Mail page 2, Courier page 1)

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Bridge Checks: Engineers have begun checking the safety of bridges in southern Scotland as the Met Office has warned of severe weather across Dumfries and Galloway, the Borders and Cumbria. These areas are bracing themselves for three inches of rain and possible wind gusts of 65 mph. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 4)

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Car Accidents: The number of people in Scotland who die in car accidents is at its lowest figure in 50 years. However, people in Scotland are more likely to die in car accidents than those living in Wales and England. (Herald page 2)

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Local Government

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Local Council Reform: Sir John Arbuthnott has put forth radical proposals for local council reform in and around Clyde Valley.  Under the proposals, local authority staff could be shared across several boundaries to increase the availability of expertise, and council properties could be grouped into one arms-length organisation to manage and possibly sell them off. If enacted, these reforms would be the biggest overhaul of local government services since unitary authorities were introduced in 1996, and could pave the way for similar arrangements to take place in other parts of Scotland. (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 1)

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Health

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Hospital Inspection: The Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (ARI) has been criticised for not observing basic infection control measures by the Healthcare Environment Inspectorate (HEI). During its inspection, the HEI found beds too close together, spillages, and stains on the floors, walls, and ceilings. They said that the standard of cleaning was “very poor” and showed a “lack of attention to detail”. (Herald page 4, Opinion page 14, Times page 15, STV, Daily Express page 3, Sun page 8)

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Autoimmune Drug: A 10,000 signature petition is being sent to the Scottish Parliament in favour of readily distributing a drug that helps treat autoimmune diseases, including HIV, AIDS, and cancer. The drug is not readily prescribed by the NHS because it is not patented and there has been a lack of clinical trials. If something were to go wrong, GPs and dispensing pharmacists can be sued by patients. The drug, called Low Dose Naltrexone, (LDN) obstructs brain endorphins which stimulates the immune system. (Scotsman page 22)

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Education

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Pupil Behaviour: A report has found that 90 per cent of Scottish teachers believe that most pupils are well-behaved in schools. Although student-to-teacher aggression was low (7 per cent), 30 per cent of teachers said there had been aggressive or violent peer-to-peer behaviour. Accordingly, 30 per cent of pupils surveyed reported seeing such aggression between students. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 1, Opinion page 14, Daily Mail page 1, Press and Journal page 9, Courier page 10)

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Politics

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Expenses Scandal: It is reported that four MPs are to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). Last week, six politicians, including Scottish Labour MP Jim Devine, were believed to be under investigation by Scotland Yard. None of the four parliamentarians have been named. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Times page 5)

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Police Funding: Scotland’s chief constables warned Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill in a meeting yesterday that they face “unprecedented financial challenges” due to tighter government spending. (Scotsman page 6)

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Sectarian Incidents: A report from Strathclyde University says that firms should record sectarian incidents and not dismiss them as “banter”. The report, funded by the Scottish Government and the Sense Over Sectarianism campaign, refers to the case of QC Donald Findlay, who resigned as deputy chairman of Rangers after being secretly recorded singing “The Billy Boys”. (Scotsman page 14, page 1)

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Scottish Whisky Legislation: New regulations aimed at protecting Scotch whisky came into force yesterday. The changes have already been hailed by industry bosses at the Scotch Whisky Association as being “landmark legislation”. They mean that bottles will have to carry a category description – such as “blended Scotch whisky” – to ensure drinkers get clear and consistent information. Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy explained the reason for the changes and said: “These regulations will help protect whisky customers across the globe.” The Scottish Government worked with the industry and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs while the legislation was being prepared. (Scotsman page 22 Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 6)

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Tax powers: The UK Government will commit tomorrow to giving Scottish ministers greater control over income tax levels in Scotland. This will reportedly lead to a cut of about £10billion from the block grant to Scotland. Details of the proposal and other plans to devolve more powers to Edinburgh will be spelled out in a White Paper at Westminster. It is the UK Government’s response to the proposals drawn up by the Calman Commission with support from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Tory parties. (Press and Journal page 9)

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Donald Trump: A pensioner has launched a legal challenge in a bid to stop Donald Trump building a golf course on her land. Molly Forbes is seeking an interim interdict over the decision to grant planning permission for five pockets of land not owned by Mr Trump\’s company. (BBC, STV, Press and Journal page 11, Courier page 3)

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Independence Referendum: A YouGov poll showed 57 per cent of respondents did not support Scottish independence, and that Alex Salmond should put the idea at the bottom of his list of priorities. (Daily Telegraph page 1)