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Daily Political Media Summary: 11 January 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 11 January 2010

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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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Flyglobespan:  E-Clear CEO Elias Elia has insisted Flyglobespan failed as a result of the global recession.  This comes amidst allegations E-Clear, a credit card handling company, withheld £35 million from the airline.  Finance secretary John Swinney wants an investigation of E-Clear’s role in the airline’s collapse, but Mr Elia defended his company’s practices as legitimate.  (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 11, Times page 15, Telegraph page 10)

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Festivals:  Experts have claimed Scotland is not likely to see any new festivals in the future as a number of large events have been cancelled due to funding problems and low ticket sales.  The recession, public spending squeeze and infrastructure problems were also cited as reasons for the demise of such festivals as Connect, Big in Falkirk, and Live at Loch Lomond.  (Scotsman page 12)

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Newspapers:  Labour culture spokeswoman Pauline McNeill believes young people should be given a free year’s subscription to their favourite newspaper on their 18th birthday in a move that could help Scotland’s struggling newspaper industry.  Labour has said such a scheme has worked well in France, though the Scottish Government would be asked to foot some of the bill. (Scotsman page 18)

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Financial Services:  News that financial services firms expect improved margins has been characterised as two steps forward, one step back for Scotland’s finance sector as growth prospects remain slim.  Despite this, firms are more optimistic about the future than they were at the end of 2009. (Scotsman page 35)

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Credit cards:  More and more Scots are being forced to use their credit cards to pay their mortgages.  A Shelter Scotland survey has found 80 per cent of Scots, or up to 128,000 households, admit to using their credit card to make payments in the last 12 months.  (Herald page 10, STV, BBC)

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Scottish banking sector: In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Ben Thomson, financier and Chairman of Reform Scotland, has given the clearest indication yet that he wants to lead a revolution in Scottish banking and has called for the break-up of Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland to go further than currently planned. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)

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Bank bonuses:  Royal Bank of Scotland has come under renewed fire after it was revealed that former ABN Amro bankers are being paid more generously now that they work for RBS.  This is due to RBS’s plan to defer bonuses over three years, whereas the Dutch bank deferred bonuses over four years.  (Telegraph page B1)

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Local Government

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Edinburgh council:  Former Lord Provost of Edinburgh Eric Milligan blamed Edinburgh councillors for the demise of the One City Trust charity.  He said the move to close the charity, which funded initiatives in the most deprived parts of Edinburgh, was symptomatic of attitudes in the council towards social exclusion (Scotsman page 16)

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Teenagers:  Glasgow council has ordered that children up to the age of 16 must be accompanied at all times by parents on licensed premises, even in toilets.  The council recognises there are differences between toddlers and teenagers, but has said it cannot make a legal distinction.  (Scotsman page 19)

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Health

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Recession:  Job insecurity and longer hours mean more Scots are experiencing a lower quality of life due to the recession.  New research by Scottish Widows indicates nearly half of working parents and grandparents felt they were not putting their family first and a Clydesdale Bank study pointed to 18 per cent of workers feeling more stressed since the recession began.  (Scotsman page 11)

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Hospital thefts: Items worth more than £900,000 have been lost or stolen from Scotland’s hospitals in the last two years. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said there had been 1,330 such incidents in 2008-09. Items worth £523,503 were either stolen or lost in that year, up from £401,077 in 2007-08 and taking the total for the two years to £924,580. The Scottish Government had originally put the value of items that were lost and stolen last year at about £325,000. (Press and Journal page 8)

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NHS consultants: More than 100 consultants who benefit from publicly funded ‘distinction awards’ are also working in private hospitals. Nearly one in five doctors who receive the lucrative bonuses – which can reach up to £75,000 a year – are not giving all their time to the NHS.  MSPs say that the revelation is another reason for scrapping a scheme that has become a drain on the public purse. Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon responded to criticism of the bonuses by calling on the scheme to be abolished. Ms Sturgeon comments in the Sunday Herald on consultant bonuses and Westminster’s role in ending them. (Sunday Herald page 14, 15)

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Politics

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Labour Party:  Further questions about Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s leadership have arisen in the aftermath of last week’s attempted coup.  New extracts from former party Secretary General Peter Watt’s memoirs claim Brown’s leadership was ‘completely dysfunctional’ and lacking in vision and strategy.  Gordon Brown expressed his determination to remain Prime Minister yesterday and revealed that he had drawn inspiration from Nelson Mandela. (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 6, Times page 6, Telegraph page 4, Press and Journal page 5, Guardian page 1, FT page 3, Sunday Post page 14, Eddie Barnes in Scotland on Sunday page 13, Jenny Hjul in Sunday Times page 22, BBC)

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Cameron: David Cameron says he will help Britain trade its way out of recession if the Conservative Party win the general election. He has also rejected the argument that public spending could pull the economy out of the downturn, promising to cut faster and deeper than Labour in an attempt to balance the nation’s books. (Scotsman page 5, Press and Journal page 5, Telegraph page 4

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Greenhouse gases:  The influential Environmental Audit Committee has recommended the UK Government should follow Scotland’s example and aim to cut Britain’s emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.  This figure is Scotland’s target and was agreed to by the Scottish Parliament last June.  (Scotsman page 2)

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Renewable energy: The offshore wind industry will spend around 50 per cent more in capital expenditure than the oil and gas sector over the next 20 years, according to industry estimates. In the wake of the Crown Estate’s round-three allocations for offshore wind last week, industry body Scottish Renewables estimates developers will spend £7.2 billion a year on capital expenditure between this year and 2030. About £1.8bn of this outlay will be in Scotland. This is compared to the less than £5bn a year spent in the North Sea by oil and gas companies, in a sign that offshore wind is now poised to come of age. (Sunday Herald page 56)

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ScotRail strike: Taxpayers are likely to pick up the tab for a Scotland-wide rail dispute because of a “strike breaker” clause written into the original franchise agreement with ScotRail. The indemnity provision could cost millions to the public purse. ScotRail will hold negotiations this week with the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) over a dispute on who operates doors on a new Glasgow to Edinburgh train service. (Sunday Herald page 1)

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Weather:  The Scottish Government has defended Scotland’s performance during the recent extreme winter weather.  Though salt supplies are low and councils have had to order from abroad, the Government revealed it had 40,000 tonnes of salt in store even as the South has had to severely ration its supplies. (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 6)

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Scotland’s affluence: Scotland is now the most affluent country in the UK, according to a study which reveals that a decade of devolution has produced higher wages and less poverty and unemployment than in England. The report, by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, suggests the so-called north-south divide, which previously characterised Scotland as the poorer relation, has been reversed. Scotland has fewer families living below the breadline, more people in work and higher levels of income than Wales, Northern Ireland and most English regions.  (Sunday Times page 1, Scotsman page 9, Times page 11)

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Beauly-Denny:  Campaigners believe the Scottish Government’s own documents prove that Scotland can achieve a renewable energy jackpot in the Highlands and Islands by laying undersea cables rather than building the 600 pylons required for the Beauly-Denny power line.  The undersea cable option has been largely ignored by the government, despite a recent official report that listed this option as more cost-effective than pylons.  (Herald page 1, Sunday Herald page 20, Sunday Post page 15)

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ITV: STV has accused ITV of pursuing a dirty tricks campaign in a dispute over the Scottish broadcaster’s decision to ditch network dramas in favour of home-grown shows. Senior figures at STV said the London-based network was using underhand tactics to create a “negative, inaccurate and misleading picture” of the Glasgow-based broadcaster. ITV has denied the accusations, insisting the viewing figures and financial position of each company “speak for themselves”. (Sunday Times page 14)