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Daily Political Media Summary: 12 February 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 12 February 2010

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.

Economy

Alistair Darling: Chancellor Alistair Darling will today use a keynote speech to businessmen in Edinburgh to launch a scathing attack on the threat a Conservative government would pose to the economy and Scotland. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 2) 

Green jobs: The prospect of thousands of green jobs coming to Scotland has been raised by Nick Clegg, promoting the Liberal Democrats’ grand design for turning disused shipyards into wind turbine production centres. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen would be in the running under the scheme, which would offer £400 million to convert redundant shipyards.  (Herald page 7)

Housing safeguards: Safeguards aimed at protecting indebted homeowners from repossession became law last night at Holyrood. The move came as official figures published yesterday showed that the number of people in the UK who have had their homes taken off them was at its highest in 14 years. The Home Owner and Debtor Protection Bill, agreed by MSPs, is designed to make it more difficult for houses to be repossessed when homeowners fall into debt. (Scotsman page 15, Herald, Press and Journal page 12) 

Globespan: The firm blamed for the killer blow on weakened Scottish travel group Globespan used cash to prop up one of its own sister firms, it was claimed yesterday. Credit card processing company E-Clear diverted £1.5 million into keeping struggling Allbury Travel afloat. This was despite E-Clear withholding £35 million from Globespan before the Edinburgh-based owners of holiday airline Flyglobespan collapsed in December. (Scotsman page 21, Herald page 8)  

Health

Limbs specialist: A limb specialist who fitted an artificial left foot to an amputee\’s right leg has been banned from treating patients. Prosthetist Malcolm Griffiths gave West Lothian grandfather Patrick Morrison, 76, two left feet and failed to spot the blunder during two further check-ups. A disciplinary hearing of the Health Professions Council yesterday was told Mr Griffiths admitted 16 charges against him, including the allegations connected with Mr Morrison\’s care. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 3, Press and Journal page 12) 

Breakfast: Girls are more likely to skip breakfast than boys, according to a University of Edinburgh survey of more than 6,000 children across Scotland. Researchers found over half of 15-year-old girls regularly miss the crucial first meal of the day, while almost two-thirds of boys the same age said they ate breakfast. (Scotsman page 16) 

Education

Graduate Tax: Graduates of Scottish universities should pay a dedicated tax throughout their working lives to help fund higher education, a leading figure in the sector said yesterday. Bernard King, the new convener of Universities Scotland, which represents university principals, said the tax would help maintain competitiveness in the face of tight public finances and any rise in top-up fees in England. The call comes as Scottish universities are increasingly concerned about whether the existing level of public funding can be maintained in the current spending squeeze. (Herald) 

Politics

Nicola Sturgeon: Nicola Sturgeon\’s political career was on the line last night at the end of a dramatic day in which Alex Salmond repeatedly dodged questions about her attempts to prevent a fraudster being sent to jail. During First Minister’s Questions, the First Minister was given the chance to defend his deputy\’s actions on at least five occasions. Each time, he declined to give a straight answer.  However, opposition parties at Holyrood forced Ms Sturgeon to agree to make a statement to parliament on the matter. (Scotsman page 1, page 12, Gerry Hassan in the Scotsman page 35, Herald page 1, Times page 3, Magnus Linklater in the Times page 24, Telegraph page 1, Alan Cochrane page 10, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1) 

Independence referendum: First Minister Alex Salmond has tried to sidestep his political opponents and keep alive plans for an independence referendum. The bill will now be published in draft form, which will allow it to go out to consultation and extend its life beyond the "febrile" atmosphere of the forthcoming general election. He said yesterday: "It was the intent, in my estimation, of the Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat parties to grab control of the Referendum Bill and dispose of it as quickly as they possibly could.”(Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6, Times page 11, Angus Macleod page 11, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1) 

MSP Expenses: MSPs claimed more than a quarter of a million pounds in expenses in the last three months of 2009, it was revealed yesterday. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6) 

Watchdog costs: Westminster’s new expenses watchdog has defended its £6.6 million set-up costs – six times the amount MPs have been ordered to repay – insisting the annual bill to taxpayers will be lower in future years. A new London headquarters and computer equipment were included in the initial budget, a spokesman for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, (IPSA) explained. (Herald page 6)

 Minimum alcohol pricing: The SNP has suffered another blow to its plans to impose a minimum price for alcohol after a Holyrood committee raised doubts about its legality. The Scottish Government\’s plan is the cornerstone of a raft of measures to tackle Scotland\’s drink problem. But yesterday a report by the parliament\’s subordinate legislation committee, which considers the competency and legality of bills, found that the proposal might break the law. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 10)

 

In other news, Scientists who advise governments around the world on alcohol policy have written to Scotland’s politicians urging them to set a minimum price for drink. The experts from the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand sent the letter to all MSPs saying they should adopt the controversial measure to ban cheap alcohol. (Herald page 1)

 Deportation campaign: Campaigners last night welcomed the news a judicial review is to be held into the planned deportation of a ten-year-old Scots asylum seeker and her mother. Precious Mhango and her mother Florence, 32, from Cranhill, Glasgow, were due to be flown back to Malawi in November but were released from Yarl\’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire just days before Christmas. A high-profile public campaign was launched to keep the pair – who had previously been held in Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire – in Scotland. (Scotsman page 27, Herald page 12, Press and Journal page 4)

 Scottish Conservative Party Conference: Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman on David Cameron and the Scottish Conservative Party conference taking place today in Perth. (Scotsman page 33, Press and Journal page 3)