Daily Political Media Summary: 1 March 2010


Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 1 March 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.



British credit rating: Britain’s bonds are trading at prices that suggest it has lost its top AAA credit rating.  Treasury officials hold that a formal downgrade is not necessary though the country’s servicing costs are higher than other AAA-rated countries.  (FT page 3)



Background checks: Police, politicians, and campaigners have welcomed the nationwide roll out of a scheme, modelled on Sarah’s Law in England and Wales, to allow parents to request background checks on anyone working in close contact with their children.  (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 4, Courier page 1)


Jailing youths: According to new research by the New Economics Foundation, jailing one young criminal costs the taxpayer £140,000 a year and makes them more likely to commit crime in the future as well as putting them at greater risk of unemployment.  (P&J page 11)



SPT: Alex Salmond has warned that Strathclyde Partnership for Transport must improve its performance or else it would be disbanded.  (Herald page 2, Sunday Times page 1)


Rail strikes: There will be cancelled or disrupted services on many of Scotland’s rail lines today as conductors go on strike in a row over who will be opening doors on a new line.  (Herald page 5)


High Speed Rail: Edinburgh’s main railway station has been all but ruled out of being able to accommodate a new high-speed rail link between Scotland and London. Transport leaders have said Waverley Station is incapable of being expanded enough to become home to the proposed 400-metre long trains. (Scotland on Sunday page 7)


Local Government

Council funding cuts: Pat Watters, president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, has said any cut in funding by the UK government would be ‘catastrophic’ for council services in Scotland.  (Scotsman page 2, Courier page 8, P&J page 9)


Counselling services:  Family counselling services are being curtailed, despite rising demand for their services, due to local authority budget cuts.  (Herald page 11)



Foetal Alcohol Syndrome: Thousands of children in Scotland suffer from Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, a potentially debilitating condition, due to binge drinking by mothers in the first three months of their pregnancy according to a study commissioned by the charity Children in Scotland.  (Herald page 1)


Children’s charities have also backed the Scottish Government’s minimum-pricing plans on alcohol stating excessive drinking by parents negatively affects children.  The organisations also argued for support schemes in schools with trained pupils and staff.  (Herald page 6)



University teacher training cuts: The head of Stirling University’s Institute of Education has said university education departments must become more research-oriented in order to secure new funding in the face of government cuts.  (Scotsman page 8)


Reform Scotland

Third sector consultation: Reform Scotland has launched a consultation paper calling for a wide-ranging re-think of public service provision arguing that more power should be transferred to the voluntary sector.  The paper was welcomed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which said the third sector can deliver public services more efficiently and effectively than the government.  (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 8, P&J page 7, Times page 15)



Conservatives: David Cameron delivered a speech without notes to the Tories’ spring conference in which he appealed to voters to vote for his party and make a break with Labour and the unpopular Gordon Brown.  Admitting the election would be a ‘real fight’ Mr Cameron used the speech to attack Labour for ‘dragging our whole country down’.  The speech is seen as crucial to the Conservatives’ election chances as the party’s lead over Labour has dwindled to single digits.  (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 6, Courier page 11, P&J page 1, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, FT page 1, Sunday Times page 1, Jonathan Oliver in Sunday Times page 18, Sunday Herald page 14, Scotland on Sunday page 4)


SNP: A YouGov poll suggests Scots would be more willing to vote for independence if the Conservatives come to power at Westminster.  The news could vindicate First Minister Alex Salmond’s strategy of waiting until after the general election to formally publish the SNP’s independence referendum, although the same poll found current support for independence stands at only 27% and SNP support as a whole 17 points behind Labour.  (Scotsman page 1, Courier page 11, Telegraph page 1, Times page 1)


John Curtice writes in the Scotsman that amidst declining popularity and ongoing delays over the publishing of the independence referendum, Alex Salmond needs to work to persuade the public of the SNP’s merits.


Liberal Democrats: In an interview ahead of the Liberal Democrats spring conference in Perth, Nick Clegg said he will be focussing on four themes for the upcoming general election: ‘fair taxes’, changes in education and economic policy, and a ‘complete overhaul of politics’.  Although coming out in support of greater financial power for Scotland, he hit out against Alex Salmond saying he was playing ‘PR tricks’ with his independence referendum.  (P&J page 10)


Independent Scotland: An independent Scotland would face a £17 billion-a-year deficit and inherit £125 billion of UK debt if Scots voted to break from the union this year, a study has revealed. Analysis by the Centre for Public Policy for Regions (CPPR), suggests an independent Scotland would have one of the highest levels of public debt in the developed world. (Telegraph page 10, Sunday Times page 7, Jason Allardyce in Sunday Times page 17)


STV: Questions are being asked of Alex Salmond’s relationship with STV.  A letter from the STV’s chief executive to the First Minister suggests the government may have encouraged the station to show more Scottish content in exchange for government advertising.  (Scotsman page 17, Telegraph page 2, Times page 15)


Nicola Sturgeon: Eddie Barnes in Scotland on Sunday comments on Nicola Sturgeon’s statement in Parliament last week. (Scotland on Sunday page 11)


Scottish Futures Trust: The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) has confirmed spending around £2000 a day on advice from external bodies. Labour MSP Bill Butler said it ‘beggared belief’ that the organisation had spent so much on additional assistance, and added that the SFT should be rebranded ‘Still Fleecing Taxpayers’. Created as a Government-owned company, the SFT is supposed to help “improve public infrastructure investment” by offering advice to public bodies on financing complex deals. (Sunday Herald page 10)


Scottish Water: Alex Salmond and finance secretary John Swinney have reportedly held meetings about the possible sale of Scottish Water with the Australian company which owns Thames Water. An inquiry using Freedom of Information laws has disclosed that Mr Salmond and Mr Swinney held at least two meetings with the Australian banking group Macquarie dating back as far as 2008. (Sunday Herald page 52)