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Daily Political Media Summary: 8 February 2010

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Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 8 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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Skills shortage: The Prince’s Trust says in a new report that the UK could face a skills shortage in the future due to the high level of youth unemployment. (Scotsman page 6)

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Power line: TV archaeologist Neil Oliver has joined the campaign against the proposed Beauly to Denny power line and likened on-shore wind farms to “raping” the countryside. (Scotsman page 11)

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Foreign student visas: The number of foreign students granted visas is to be cut to crackdown on abuses within the system. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 2, Telegraph page 12, Guardian page 15, P&J page 10, Courier page 14, Mail page 8)

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Crime

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Early prison release: Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has stated that scrapping early release from prison will be a priority for the government in the coming months.  (Herald page 11)

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Local Government

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Police spending: The Strathclyde Police has spent nearly £500,000 on hotel accommodation over the past two years even as the force faces deep budget cuts.  (Herald page 4)

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Council staff: Scotland’s councils are facing a cut of £305 million and the loss of 3,000 jobs over the coming financial year, according to a union survey on the public sector squeeze. (Scotland on Sunday page 2)

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Health

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Out of hours care: The BMA has warned that the NHS in Scotland will soon be unable to cope with the growing number of patients trying to access out of hours care as the ambulance services, NHS24 and A&E departments have all seen demand soar in recent years. (Scotsman page 1)

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Type 1 diabetes: Children in Scotland are more likely to be admitted to A&E with life threatening diabetic complications than anywhere else in the UK. Scotland has the third highest incidence of type 1 diabetes in children in the world. (Scotsman page 19)

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Quality of care: Improving patient experience is at the heart of the Scottish Government’s new Quality Strategy for the NHS.  Increased feedback from patients will be used to tailor local improvements.  (Herald page 5)

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Life expectancy: The average Scots male will enjoy just 66.3 years of good health, new NHS statistics reveal. As a result, most of those collecting their pension when the retirement age rises to 67 in 2034 will have ill-health. In contrast, Scottish women are enjoying a much healthier lifestyle, according to healthy life expectancies projected for babies born in 1999-2003. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

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Education

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New University: A group of leading independent schools are studying plans to set up an elite private university for families frustrated by the quality of education at mainstream institutions. The university would be modelled on American liberal arts colleges, which concentrate on providing high-quality teaching for undergraduates rather than research. Fees would be at least £10,000 a year. (Sunday Times page 13)

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Transport

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High speed rail: The prospects of a high-speed rail link between London and Scotland have been dealt a blow after the Conservatives admitted they had budgeted for the route to extend only as far as Leeds.  While work is due to begin on a 250mph line between the London and Yorkshire by 2015, David Cameron has no funding or timetable in place for the line to Glasgow and Edinburgh. Labour has also refused to commit to a Scottish link. (Sunday Times page 1)

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Rail strike: Results of a conductors’ strike ballot within Scot Rail are to be announced tomorrow, though the company has said it will draft in managers from other train operators if the strike goes ahead. (Scotsman page 9)

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Politics

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MPs’ expenses: Home Secretary Alan Johnston said yesterday that the four parliamentarians facing criminal charges over their expenses should face the courts while David Cameron and Nick Clegg have both called for a change in the law to prevent MPs using parliamentary privilege to avoid prosecution over expenses. (Scotsman page 2, Times page 8, Telegraph page 1, FT page 2, Guardian page 7, P&J page 1)

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In Scotland, Jim Devine vowed to clear his name after being charged under the Theft Act following an £8,745 parliamentary expenses claim for stationery costs and a cleaning bill. Mr Devine said he strongly refuted the charges.  He has now been summoned to appear at the City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on March 11. (Sunday Herald page 4)

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SNP lunches:  Further coverage of the lunches with Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon sold at auction by the SNP to raise party funds.  The First Minister has now cancelled the lunches. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 1, Sunday Herald page 1, Times page 13, Sunday Times page 2, Telegraph page 1, P&J page 7, Courier page 9, Record page 2, Mail page 11, Express page 2, , page 8, Sunday Post page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 1, page 13)

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Barnett formula: Ahead of the Scottish Conservative Conference this week Brian Monteith in the Scotsman discusses how David Cameron should address the issue of financial powers for the Scottish Parliament.

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Polling: Labour has overtaken the SNP in Holyrood constituency and regional polling for the first time since Alex Salmond became the First Minister.  The polls also show Labour’s Westminster lead over the SNP widening.  (Herald page 6)

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Scottish Labour: Joan McAlpine comments in the Sunday Times on Labour’s position in the Scottish Parliament, and how SNP government got its budget approved with the help of the Conservatives and Greens. (Sunday Times page 23)

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Scottish Conservatives: A Conservatives victory over the SNP at this year\’s general election is "within our grasp"; the former leader of the party in Scotland will declare this week. Setting out an ambitious target, David McLetchie claims his party – currently with just one seat – could cause a remarkable upset by getting more seats than the Nationalists, who have seven MPs at present. (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

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Saltire flags: The Scottish SNP Government has spent more than £250,000 on Saltire flags since taking office, figures released today showed. The SNP spent £265,007 sending the Saltire flags to Scottish schools and British embassies overseas to help celebrate St Andrew’s Day, Burns Night and the Year of Homecoming. The flags were also used in Scotland Week celebrations in North America and at major events across Scotland. (Herald, Sunday Times page 15, Sunday Post page 12,

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Calmac: A report has recommended the break-up of the Calmac ferry network for economic reasons.  The Scottish Government wants to sell some of Calmac’s smaller routes to private firms to encourage investment in new ferries.  (Herald page 8)

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Alcohol: Labour is to propose outlawing alcoholic drinks with high caffeine content. It will table an amendment to the Scottish government’s bill to introduce minimum pricing for alcohol that would set a maximum limit of 150mg of caffeine per litre in alcoholic drinks. This is less than half the 375mg in Buckfast tonic wine. It would also lead to the outlawing of some alcopops, such as Red Square Reloaded. Denmark, Iceland and Norway have already introduced such a ban and America is considering one following warnings from scientists. (Telegraph page 2, Sunday Times page 3, Scotland on Sunday page 1

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Creative Scotland: Jenny Hjul comments in the Sunday Times on Scotland’s newly formed arts body, Creative Scotland. She argues that the limited funding and support allocated to the arts will need to be distributed wisely whilst Scotland faces deep public spending cuts. (Sunday Times page 22)

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Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility.

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