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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 December 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 17 December 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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Unemployment:  Scotland’s unemployment has dropped, with the latest figures yesterday recording a fall in the number of people out of work for the first time since the summer of 2008. The number of unemployed in Scotland fell by 2,000 to 187,000 in the three months between August and October, although the figure is still 52,000 higher than the same time last year. (Scotsman page 12, Courier page 12, STV)

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Globespan: Scottish airline Flyglobespan has been grounded after its parent company collapsed with the loss of nearly 800 jobs, hitting over 100,000 passengers. Administrator PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) said last night: "Flight operations will cease from this evening." Some 5,000 passengers had been due to fly with the airline over the next few days.  Passengers are advised to call a helpline today for the latest advice and visit the website for further information in the meantime. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Times page 1, Telegraph page 1, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Express page 7, Sun page 1, STV, BBC)

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Funding row: The Lloyds Foundation for Scotland believes an agreement the bank has signed with its three charitable counterparts in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands could cut funding to charities. The foundation claimed that the arrangement would see the amount of money donated to charities "slashed" over the coming years. The foundation, a leading funder of charities in Scotland, is an independent organisation that has traditionally operated under a covenant sealed by an act of parliament. The covenant dictates that the Lloyds TSB Foundation and the three other autonomous foundations covering the rest of the UK receive a share of 1 per cent of the Lloyds Banking Group\’s pre-tax profits each year. (Scotsman page 24)
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Spending cuts: Alistair Darling has been accused of concealing Treasury figures showing how deep Labour\’s planned spending cuts will be and the effect on public services. The Chancellor, under pressure from MPs, admitted that "assumptions" had been made about spending levels but refused to agree to demands from a member of the powerful Treasury Select Committee to release them. In last week\’s pre-Budget report, Mr Darling committed to halving the record deficit in four years, but only pencilled in spending cuts for 2011. (Telegraph page B1) 

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Crime

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Gang culture: A scheme to tackle the notorious gang culture in Glasgow has dramatically reduced youth violence. The Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) has resulted in a 49.2 per cent reduction in offending among Glasgow gang members who have engaged with the project.  Since launching a year ago, 368 young men in the East End of the city – about half of all those involved with violent gangs – have signed up to change their lives. The results also show an 18.5 per cent drop in recorded violent activity among those gang members who did not engage with CIRV. The achievements of CIRV were described as "excellent" yesterday by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. (Scotsman page 21, Times page 17) 

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Health

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Life expectancy gap: Women in Scotland are failing to improve their health at the same rate as men and may not continue to outlive them for much longer, according to Scotland\’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns. Men are giving up smoking in their thousands and exercising more, meaning they will live for seven more years, on average, compared with 1980. But while women still have a greater life expectancy than men, the gap is narrowing, as many continue to smoke and lead less healthy lifestyles. And while more men suffer from obesity than women, that gap is closing too, with the proportion of women classified as morbidly obese increasing, as it stays steady among men. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 1, Times page 22, Courier page 11, Press and Journal page 11) 

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Politics

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Creative Scotland: Fiona Hyslop pledged yesterday to be the "midwife" for the long-delayed arts quango Creative Scotland and promised to be a "hard-edge" minister as arts budgets come under pressure in central and local government. In her first press briefing since being moved out of the education portfolio, Ms Hyslop promised to put culture "at the heart of government" by making the case for the arts on economic, financial and social grounds. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 8)

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SNP blogger: Education Secretary Michael Russell is under pressure after an aide who resigned for writing an anonymous attack-blog claimed that his former boss knew about the website and even suggested ideas. Mark MacLachan, the site’s author, also made veiled threats to Mr Russell about press exposure and asked him for help finding a job with a quango. A spokesperson for the MSP said: “Mr Russell is not the sort of person who responds to implied threats.” (Herald page 1, page 6, page 7) 

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Scots Guards: The Scots Guards welcomed their 200th recruit this year yesterday in a formal ceremony at Edinburgh Castle. The new soldiers all swore an oath of allegiance to the Queen at a ceremony at the regimental headquarters in Edinburgh Castle, witnessed by family and friends. (Scotsman page 13, Press and Journal page 12) 

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Lockerbie: The Lockerbie bomber was contacted yesterday, but not before questions had been raised about the arrangements for monitoring a man convicted of killing 270 people. Lord Fraser of Carmyllie, the former Lord Advocate who oversaw the prosecution of Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi, said that the Scottish government, not East Renfrewshire Council, should be keeping tabs on him in Libya. A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said: “The government does not normally monitor licence conditions. We felt there should be something in place in this case and we felt it should be East Renfrewshire Council.” (Times page 21, Courier page 8, Press and Journal page 13)

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Kinloss Airbase: Alan Cochrane comments in the Telegraph on the SNP Westminster leader’s anger at planned cutbacks to the Kinloss RAF base. (Telegraph page 7) 

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Scottish Government files: Policy documents belonging to SNP ministers have been lost in the post, stolen from a Holyrood conference room and left on a train and in a car park.  The litany of lost information has been revealed for the first time, and includes data that was “protectively marked” because of the sensitive content.  There have been 11 cases of paper documents being lost or stolen since February this year. Meanwhile, there have been 21 laptops, PCs and Blackberry mobile phones taken or mislaid over the past two years. (Telegraph page 7) 

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MP expenses: A Liberal Democrat economics spokesman has formally lodged an appeal against a demand for repayment of almost £18,000 in parliamentary second home allowances. Jeremy Browne, who represents Taunton, went public immediately after Sir Thomas Legg, the former Whitehall mandarin, submitted his report on the cases of 753 MPs and former MPs whose expenses he reviewed over a five-year period. Mr Browne became the first to appeal to Sir Paul Kennedy, a former Appeal Court judge who has been drafted in to be the final arbiter in the expenses scandal that has engulfed Parliament. (Times page 1, Courier page 8, BBC)

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