Daily Political Media Summary: 7January 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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Beauly to Denny power line: Yesterday the Scottish Government gave the go ahead to the proposed 137 mile power line between Beauly, near Inverness, and Denny, near Stirling. The pylons will be up to 217ft tall, which critics believe will ruin the landscape.  However climate change activists have welcomed the decision as essential to develop Scotland’s renewable energy potential. (Scotsman page 8, Niall Stuart in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Sun page 2, Times page 3, BBC, Express page 10,Mail page 10, Archie Stirling in the Mail, P&J page 1, Courier page 1, Telegraph page 12)

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Banking crisis warning: John McFall MP, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, has warned that Britain is in danger of being plunged into another financial crisis by its “unsafe” banking system. (Scotsman Business page 1, Herald page 30, Sun page 2, P&J page 11, Courier page 3)

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Debt: Lord Mandelson yesterday insisted the government had detailed plans to cut the country’s £178billon debt despite growing scepticism on the international money markets. (Express page 7)

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Iceland: Michael Hudson in the FT (page 13) argues that Iceland has the right to refuse debt servitude.

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Transport

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Cold weather: Further disruption and chaos occurred across Scotland yesterday as the cold weather continued.  The First Minister, Alex Salmond, has said that the prolonged bad weather is the worst the country has seen since 1963.  Many schools and roads remained closed and there are concerns for thousands of farm animals as temperatures are set to drop to -20 this weekend. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 9, Sun page 4, Guardian page 16, BBC, Times page 4, Mirror page 4, Mail page 6, John MacLeod in the Mail, Record page 7, Telegraph page 1)

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MSPs’ taxis: MSPs have been criticised for billing the taxpayer for taxis to take them from Holyrood to Edinburgh Waverley station – a seven minute walk away. (Mail page 2)

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Health

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Prescription charges: Approval was given at the Scottish Parliament yesterday for prescription charges in Scotland to fall from £4 to £3 from April. (Scotsman page 15, Herald page 6, Mail page 33, Record page 2, P&J page 9)

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NHS bonus scheme: Nicola Sturgeon has called for a freeze in the distinction awards bonus scheme given to senior NHS consultants with a less expensive and broader based merit programme devised to replace it. (Herald page 8, Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman, Sun page 6, BBC, Express page 2, Mail page 19, Courier page 3, Telegraph page 12)

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Crime

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Drug abuse: According to a report for the Scottish Government more than one in ten fathers in Scotland are abusing drugs. (Scotsman page 11)

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Heroin: A fifth heroin user has died from anthrax as fears a contaminated batch of heroin is circulating round Scotland. (Herald page 2, Times page 16, P&J page 6, Courier page 1)

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Lockerbie: Doubts have been cast over key evidence used to convict the Lockerbie bomber after a UN explosive expert said all fragments of the bomb would have been destroyed in the blast. (Herald page 10)

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Education

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University students: 40% of university students in Scotland now study part time. (Scotsman page 20)

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Politics

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PM plot: Yesterday two former Cabinet Ministers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, sent a letter to all Labour MPs calling for a secret ballot on the leadership of the Labour Party to address divisions within the party.  Although the plot appears to have fizzled out, observers have highlighted the length of time it took Gordon Brown’s Cabinet colleagues to condemn the move and give the Prime Minister their support.  In particular commentators feel that David Miliband only issued a lukewarm vote of confidence. Opposition leaders used the crisis to call on the Prime Minister to call a general election. (Herald page 1, Scotsman page 1, Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Sun page 1, Guardian page 1, Martin Kettle in the Guardian, Times page 1, Mirror page 1, Express page 1, Mail page 1, Record page 1, FT page 1, P&J page 1, Courier page 1, Telegraph page 1, Benedict Brogan in the Telegraph)

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MPs’ expenses: Gordon Brown has warned Sir Ian Kennedy, the chairman of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority not to water down the changes to the MPs’ expenses proposed by Sir Christopher Kelly’s Committee on Standards in Public Life. (Telegraph page 8)