Daily Political Media Summary: 15 February 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 15 February 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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Jobs: A new report by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development has stated the number of job losses in the UK may double with the public sector being hit particularly hard as spending cuts will soon begin to be felt.  (Scotsman page 8)

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Borrowing: Leading economists say the government lacks a credible plan to cut Britain’s budget deficit and that action to reduce the country’s borrowing should start immediately after the election. (Guardian page 6, Telegraph page 10, Mail page 8, Sunday Times page 1)

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Transport 

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SPT expenses: The chairman of Strathclyde Passenger Transport has stepped down amid questions about expense claims made by the quango.  Pressure is growing on SPT to account for £117,573 of claims made by its employees.  (Scotsman page 19, Herald page 1, Times page 12, Express page 5)

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West Edinburgh: Plans to create a major new rail and tram project in west Edinburgh have been delayed over escalating costs.  The Gogar Interchange, meant to link Edinburgh-Fife trains with the city’s trams, has seen its costs double over the past year.  (Herald page 5)

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Local Government

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Glasgow council: More than 2,000 staff at Glasgow City Council have applied for voluntary retirement deals which could see the council pay out £100 million.  The plan is expected to save £65 million a year.  (Herald page 1)

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Glasgow car clubs: Glasgow City Council is set to offer membership to residents in car clubs across the city in a bid to decrease congestion and emissions.  Car clubs enable members to book and drive vehicles a few minutes’ walk from their homes.  (Herald page 11)

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Health

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Obesity: According to new research, people living in Scotland are the second fattest in the UK.  Scotland’s average body mass index of 28.4 was behind only that of the East Midlands at 28.9.  (Herald page 5)

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Alcohol labelling: Wine, beer, and spirits will carry health warnings about alcohol under Labour plans to be introduced today at Westminster.  The SNP have agreed to implement these changes in Scotland.  (Telegraph page 1)

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Education

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‘Trust’ schools: Education secretary Mike Russell has endorsed East Lothian’s plan to introduce a trust arrangement for the council’s schools. Mr Russell said the council’s plans may well fit in with the government’s education strategy. (Scotsman page 1)

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In The Scotsman, Don Ledingham advocates a move away from Scotland’s centralised education bureaucracy towards more localised control similar to the old ‘Parish School’ system.

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University funding: Bernard King, principal of Abertay University and convener of Universities Scotland, has said some university principals are ‘over-panicking’ when it comes to spending cuts.  His position puts him at odds with English university leaders who have said cuts in spending for higher education threaten a ‘meltdown’ in higher education. (Scotsman page 11)

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New Campus Glasgow: Plans for Glasgow’s new supercollege, New Campus Glasgow, have been revealed.  (Herald page 12)

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Politics

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General election: A new poll shows the Tories’ lead over Labour has widened in the past fortnight after indications that Labour was closing the gap earlier in the year.  However, the poll also pointed to continued voter scepticism about David Cameron’s leadership.  (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6)

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Liberal Democrats: Nick Clegg has ruled out forming a coalition government with either Labour or the Conservatives if the Lib Dems hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.  (Guardian page 1)

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Scottish powers: David Cameron has pledged to grant Scotland more powers should the Conservatives win the general election.  (Scotsman page 7, Telegraph page 8, Courier page 3, Mail page 21)

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Scottish block grant: In a letter sent to Alistair Darling, George Osborne, and Vince Cable, Alex Salmond warned that any reductions in Scotland’s block grant next year would ‘be neither understood nor forgiven’ by the Scottish public.  (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 6)

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BNP: The British National Party has approved changes to its constitution that would permit non-whites to join the party.  Nick Griffin has said anyone can join the party provided they believe Britain should remain ‘fundamentally British’.  (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 6, Guardian page 4, Courier page 14)

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Nicola Sturgeon: Abdul Rauf has apologised to Nicola Sturgeon saying he did not wish to tarnish her reputation when asking for her help in avoiding a jail sentence for benefit fraud.  It has also been revealed that Ms Sturgeon took part in an NHS anti-fraud campaign four months before taking up Mr Rauf’s case. (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 6, Times page 8, Express page 9, Sunday Herald page 14, Iain Macwhirter in Sunday Herald page 7, Sunday Post page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 2)

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Legal reform: Leading Scottish lawyer Robert Forman has said planned Scottish Government reforms of the legal services market will threaten the independence of solicitors and may politicise the legal profession.  (Scotsman page 17)

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Quango bonuses: Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has called on the government to order quango bosses to refuse bonuses.  (Scotsman page 21)

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Labour MP: Labour MP Anne Moffat is set to learn her fate today, with the party hierarchy expected to consider complaints from activists in her East Lothian seat who want her deselected. (Sunday Herald page 4)

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Cash for access: Labour has accused the SNP of touting Alex Salmond to private firms to raise funds. A “commercial opportunities” pack sent to firms before the SNP’s pre-election conference in March reportedly offers the chance to sponsor three receptions attended by the First Minister for up to £5,000. (Sunday Times page 2