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Daily Political Media Summary: 9 November 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 9 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: Hopes are high that Scotland is past the worst of its private-sector job losses. The Scottish Purchasing Managers Index revealed that Scotland was the only part of the UK to see employment levels rise in October.  Research disclosed that improving workloads was the main drive behind the rise. Economists have expressed concern that this trend may not continue, following the announcement that RBS will be cutting at least 700 jobs in Scotland. (Scotsman page 33, Herald page 24)

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Gordon Brown’s plan for a transaction tax on banks was rejected by the United States. Mr Brown had raised the idea for a global levy that would require banks to have an emergency fund to prevent another international banking crisis. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Ian Macwhirter of the Herald criticises the nationalised bank bonuses whilst the country is in a recession and faces cuts to education and care for the elderly. (Sunday Herald page 7)

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Scottish Banks: Scotland on Sunday ponders the role of the Scottish Government in the break-up of Scottish banks. It writes that Scotland should have a greater role in what happens to its financial institutions. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

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Games Industry: Nobel Prize-winning US economist Paul Krugman has highlighted the games industry in Dundee, calling it a positive example of “economic geography”. He urged the UK Government to follow the model of Dundee’s “clustered” economic activity as a means of boosting the UK economy. (Sunday Herald page 56)

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The threat of Ireland luring the games industry from Scotland has come to the attention of Scottish Parliament, and it is rumoured that there will be an announcement this month. Bernard King in the Sunday Herald comments that Scotland should ease taxes on the industry before the Irish have a chance to take it away. (Sunday Herald page 56)

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Hotel Industry: Scotland’s hotels had the highest occupancy and rooms yield (revenue) in the UK outside London during September, according to the latest survey by accountant and business adviser PKF. (Press and Journal page 12)

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Transport 

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Forth Bridge: A YouGov poll has found that only one-third of people in Scotland support plans for a new £2.3billion Forth bridge. More than half the population think that the current road bridge should be repaired instead. (Scotland on Sunday page 9, Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 13, Courier page 9, STV)

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Network Rail: National Rail has denied claims that there will be cuts in the services to and from Glasgow on the East Coast line. Suspicions arose after the announcement of the handover of National Express East Coast routes to CrossCountry. (Scotsman page 12)

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Health

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ChildLine Calls: More than 200 children called a helpline last year with concerns about their parents’ harmful drinking. A report found that the rate of calls to ChildLine is twice as high in Scotland as the rest of the UK. The majority of children are calling over concerns about their parents drinking, but others have talked about physical abuse and other family problems. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 4)

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Assisted Suicide: A poll has found that two-thirds of people in Scotland support changing the law to allow assisted suicide. Legislation by Margo MacDonald, an independent MSP, is to be lodged in the Scottish Parliament next month, and is supported by 21 MSPs. The proposed legislation would allow people with degenerative conditions, terminal illnesses and dependent trauma victims to seek the help of a doctor to end their lives without fear that loved ones who assist them would be prosecuted. (Sunday Times page 1)

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Education

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Education Reform: An SNP/Lib Dem-led council is considering the establishment of a trust to run schools. The proposals could result in schools spending more money on specialist subjects, and even seeking financial support from the private sector. Although the idea is not supported by the SNP at Holyrood, Councillor David Berry hopes the proposal will lead to national debate on alternative solutions to what he considers a “very serious financial situation” in the education system. (Scotsman page 1)

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There is associated coverage of Reform Scotland research which says Scotland’s schools trail behind English schools in exam performance despite the increase in funding over the past decade.  The report finds that while England’s school results have steadily improved, Scotland’s school results have flat-lined. (Scotsman page 7, Commentary page 7, Scotsman Opinion page 26)

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Politics

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Glasgow North East By-Election: The number of voters registered to vote by post in the Glasgow North East by-election has more than doubled since the last general election. Glasgow City Council has confirmed that more than 6,045 people are registered to vote by post, up from 2,419 in 2005. The council insists that the numbers are partly due to its efforts to increase voter registration. (Scotsman page 2)

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Labour attacked the SNP on police, claiming that Kenny MacAskill has been “bragging” about extra officers but that these officers have been paid for by local councils. The SNP claimed that the UK Labour Government has deceived voters by cutting the train link between Glasgow and London. Meanwhile, the Conservatives alleged that Possilpark Health Centre currently does not have a health visitor. (Sunday Post page 5)

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Labour candidate Willie Bain said “The biggest issue in this campaign is jobs in the economy. The SNP aren’t doing enough to help.” David Kerr claims that the SNP is closing the gap on Labour. (Sunday Herald page 18)

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An Insight article from Scotland on Sunday finds that the voters of the Glasgow North East by-election are disillusioned by politicians and their promises. (Scotland on Sunday page 13)

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Labour has teamed up with Sir Alex Ferguson to issue a personal message to 40,000 Glasgow homes with Sir Alex giving his support to Labour. Sir Alex, who hails from Glasgow, says he supports Labour candidate Willie Bain because he is a local candidate who will “stop the city being ripped off” by the SNP. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Kenny Farquharson in Scotland on Sunday writes that we need to face the truth “that some Scots are deeply unpleasant racists” and that there needs to be less complacency toward those who vote BNP. He argues that even if the Glasgow North East by-election results show nil support for the BNP, the problem of overt racism inherent in some Scots should not be ignored. (Scotland on Sunday page 18)

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The Sunday Post finds that voter turnout will be crucial in the by-election, which is expected to only be 30 per cent. (Sunday Post page 8)

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Martin Bell is supporting independent MP candidate John Smeaton. Mr Bell says that “John can deliver a shock to the system” and that he is a “local hero”. (Sunday Post page 5)

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General Election Poll: A poll has found a ten-point swing toward Labour in the General Election voting intentions over the last six months. The poll indicates Labour is up at 39 per cent, while the Nationalists are down to 25 per cent. (Herald page 1, Analysis page 6, Herald Opinion page 12)

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Independence Referendum: It has been estimated that the independence referendum bill will end up costing taxpayers at least £2.5million. The National Conversation is reported to have cost more than £1million in the two years since it was established.  Opposition party leaders have called for Alex Salmond to drop the bill and focus instead on economic recovery. (Sunday Times page 7, Press and Journal page 1, BBC)

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Constitution Minister Mike Russell has warned opposition parties not to block the Independence Referendum, saying that the public has the right to vote on its future. (Press and Journal page 8, STV)

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Afghanistan: First Minister Alex Salmond has said he thinks Britain should consider bringing the troops home from Afghanistan. The statement comes after a BBC poll which found that 64 per cent of the public believe the war is “unwinnable”. Mr Salmond said he believes that there needs to be a “fundamental reassessment of the role, mission, strategy” in Afghanistan, and that nothing should be discounted, including the possibility of withdrawal. (Scotsman page 5)

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MSP Family Members: MSPs have said nothing as yet about a ban on employing family members. Their reluctance may mean that the House of Commons may now become tougher on expenses than the Scottish Parliament, ending one of Holyrood’s favourite boasts. (Sunday Herald page 7)

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Local Authority Reform: Accountancy firm KPMG and think tank Localis have called for a re-think of the role of local authorities. The groups are urging local authorities to move away from being service providers to reinventing themselves as “commissioning and procurement hubs”. The report suggests that councils should set self-imposed targets of 20 per cent cuts within the next two years. (Herald page 6)