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Daily Political Media Summary: 8 December 2009

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 8 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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Barnett Formula: Leading economist Professor David Bell has warned that if a new formula based on need was implemented in Scotland, it could result in a £4.5 billion decrease in funding from Westminster. Professor Bell, whose research was commissioned by the Welsh Assembly, has produced the first fully worked through alternative to the Barnett Formula, which is the current funding arrangement for Scotland. He found that if a needs-based formula was implemented rather than the current one based on population, the size of the Scottish grant would shrink from being 20 per cent higher per head than England down to 5 per cent higher. (Scotsman page 1, Opinion page 30, David Bell’s Article page 31)

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RBS: Details of the amount of overseas “bad debt” dumped into the laps of British taxpayers by RBS have been revealed.  The funds are now covered through the Government’s Asset Protection Scheme (APS). (Daily Telegraph Business page 1)

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Pre-Budget Report: Under political pressure to curb bonuses and economic pressure to cut spending, the chancellor faces a juggling act that will set the terms of next year’s election, writes George Parker for the Financial Times. (FT page 13)

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Crime

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Drink Driving: Politicians have been criticised for taking excessive measures against drink drivers. A leading traffic solicitor has said that taking away a car instead of issuing a fine is “far from sensible”. The annual crackdown on drink drivers began yesterday, which punishes second-time drink driving offenders by removing their licences and possibly their vehicles. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 9, Press and Journal page 10, Courier page 11)

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Police Complaints: Complaints about Scotland’s police have risen significantly in the last year, from 6,840 to 8,558. On average, this results in approximately one complaint for every three officers. A total of 575 cases ended with misconduct proceedings or advice to officers. John McNeill, Police Commissioner for Scotland, said that the number of police in Scotland is higher than ever, as is the scale of operations. He says “You could argue that the public have more confidence in the police and expect higher standards and that’s why we are seeing more complaints.” (Herald page 1, Opinion page 12)

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Transport 

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Elderly Transport: Dumfries and Galloway council is being criticised by advocates for the aged because of its decision to cut its entire budget for supported bus services from next April. Age Concern and Help the Aged are arguing that the move could mean that thousands of elderly people in rural areas may have to move into care homes because they will no longer have the transport they need to access essential services. (Herald page 6) 

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Bus Concerns: Alan Millar, editor of Buses, urges bus users to make their voices heard to politicians before cuts to services are implemented. (Herald page 13)

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Health

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Drug Treatment: Health boards are to receive £28.6 million next year for drug treatment services. Community safety minister Fergus Ewing said, “We are committed to turning round lives and helping deliver a safer, strong Scotland.” He also said that every £1 spent on treatment for drug addiction equates to a saving of £9.50 to the public purse. Critics have asked why the SNP did not meet this pledge in their first budget. (Scotsman page 6, Press and Journal page 8, BBC, STV)

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Politics

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Christmas Cards: Alex Salmond was accused of “politicising Christmas” when he revealed his Christmas card last night, which shows a young girl in a wintery wood holding a saltire over her shoulder. Political opponents have said Mr Salmond is “obsessed with independence” and that it would have been more impressive if he had “thought about the message of Christmas rather than picking out the most nationalistic Christmas card he could find”. A spokesman for Mr Salmond said they have a case of the “bah humbugs” and “obviously lack Christmas cheer”. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 3, Daily Telegraph page 7, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Express page 10, Sun page 14, BBC)

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Top Civil Servant Earners: The Scottish Government is considering more transparency on public sector pay. The government is also considering adopting Gordon Brown’s proposal to name the public servants who earn more than £150,000. Scottish civil servants in areas such as health, education and local government could all face pay scrutiny should this be implemented.  (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 1, Guardian page 4)

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Hogmanay: VisitScotland is being criticised for adverts urging tourists to avoid overcrowded and “overpriced” venues, in favour of hiring private venues, such as castles or country house hotels. Organisers of flagship Hogmanay events across Scotland have pointed out that several events are free, or that they do their best to keep prices “as low as possible”, and that they need as much help as possible from VisitScotland to attract tourists. (Scotsman page 12)

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Class Sizes: Ex-Education Minister Hugh Henry of Labour has called for an inquiry into class sizes. Mr Henry claims Alex Salmond promised a cut in class sizes back in 2007. Mr Salmond was reported to parliamentary authorities last week amid accusations that he misled parliament by claiming the pledge was on track. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 7, Press and Journal page 8, Courier page 7)

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Sectarianism: Composer James MacMillan has once again accused Scotland of ignoring sectarianism. Mr MacMillan says he believes Scotland’s media has been ignoring the problem, saying they only wanted to print “good news” on the subject. Ten years ago, Mr MacMillan’s lecture at the Edinburgh International Festival brought forth accusations of “anti-Scottishness” and even “mental derangement” against the composer. (Times page 17)