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Daily Political Media Summary: 15 March 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 15 March 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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House prices: House prices rose by only 0.1% in March compared to February fuelling fears that the housing market could face a double-dip recession.  A fall in house prices could have knock-on effects on the economy as unemployment, public sector spending cuts, and higher interest hit consumers.  (Telegraph page B1)

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UK Budget: Alistair Darling has indicated that there will not be new spending cuts in his forthcoming Budget but refused to rule out tax increases.  (Scotsman page 5, Courier page 11, Telegraph page 2, Mail page 2, Express page 4)

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Public sector cuts: Major cuts in Scottish Government spending from 2011 may drag government and councils into their own depression.  Although such spending cuts will affect the whole of the UK, Scotland is particularly at risk given the public sector accounts for a large proportion of all Scottish jobs.  (Scotland on Sunday Business page 1)

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Crime

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Unpaid fines: Two thirds of fines issued last year for low level offences have gone unpaid.  Glasgow had the largest proportion of defaulters.  (Sunday Times page 10)

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Transport 

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Edinburgh trams: Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, the firm overseeing the construction of Edinburgh’s trams, has been accused of deceiving the public as it was revealed the organisation was aware for months that the project was running years behind schedule.  (Scotsman page 2)

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ScotRail strikes:  ScotRail has stated that there would continue to be normal service over the Easter holidays despite a planned strike by rail workers.  (Herald page 7, Courier page 9)

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Local Government

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Steven Purcell: The police have reportedly been asked by SNP MP John Mason and James Dornan, the SNP leader on Glasgow Council, to investigate whether ‘criminality’ was allowed to take place under Steven Purcell’s watch.  This comes as City Building (Glasgow) LLP, a quango established by Labour council under Steven Purcell, is facing an independent audit after allegedly awarding £10 million worth of contracts to Labour’s largest Scottish donor. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 5, Mail page 12, Sun page 9, Scotland on Sunday page 4, Sunday Times page 16, Sunday Herald page 23)

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Service privatisation: Glasgow Council is ready to let a private firm take over the running of its parks, litter collection and street cleaning services from the council.  (Scotland on Sunday page 5)

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Health

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NHS compensation: The Scottish NHS paid out £27 million in negligence compensation claims.  These payments have tripled since 2005 and include a number of costly claims relating to mistakes made in childbirth.  (Sunday Times page 2)

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NHS bonuses: Senior NHS staff are reportedly upset with Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon’s axing of their yearly bonuses, believing the bonuses were deserved on merit.  Ms Sturgeon cut the bonuses in order to help rein in public sector pay.  (Sunday Herald page 18)

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Education

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Class sizes: Councils across Scotland are abandoning Scottish Government class size targets for secondary classes in favour of meeting Government targets for primary school classes instead.  Financial pressures mean more local authorities may cut secondary resources and focus instead on primary.  (Herald page 1)

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Politics

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Lib Dems: In his speech to the Liberal Democrat spring conference yesterday, leader Nick Clegg said he was not in discussions with Labour or the Conservatives regarding a coalition government and denied that he would be the ‘kingmaker’.  He stated the party that receives the strongest mandate from voters would be the one with the moral authority to govern.  (Herald page 6, P&J page 5, Telegraph page 4, Times page 17, Guardian page 4, FT page 2, Mail page 10, Scotland on Sunday page 2)

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Labour-Unite row: Transport Secretary Lord Adonis yesterday criticised the planned strike by British Airways cabin crew as ‘totally unjustified’ sparking a row  with one of Labour’s biggest backers, the Unite union.  Labour has been under pressure to condemn the strike by the Conservatives, although a spokesman accused the Tories of politicising the issue.  (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 2, Courier page 1, P&J page 11, Telegraph page 1, Times page 11, FT page 2)

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Latest polls: Two polls released on Sunday point to just a four point lead for the Conservatives and suggest a hung parliament with Labour as the largest party.  (Sunday Times page 2)

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House of Lords: Justice Secretary Jack Straw is set to introduce plans today to replace the House of Lords with an elected body of senators, aiming to capitalise on public discontent with the chamber.  Critics of the Lords say it has no democratic mandate, though its supporters say expertise would be lost should it be abolished.  (Scotsman page 8, FT page 2, Mail page 18, Mirror page 6, Express page 4, Scotland on Sunday page 5)

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SNP conference: There is comment on how Alex Salmond must use the SNP’s spring conference in Aviemore to portray the SNP as the defender of Scotland in order to prove the party’s relevance in the upcoming Westminster election.  (Sunday Post page 15)

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SNP MEP Alyn Smith writes in the Scotland on Sunday that the success of the SNP minority government at Holyrood compared to the collapse of politics at Westminster should convince Scots of the need to have a proper debate on independence

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SNP activist discipline: The SNP have launched disciplinary action against party activist Alan Clayton after he reportedly suggested the death of the young Labour campaigner Danus McKinlay was a result of drug use.  (Herald page 6, Courier page 3, Times page 9, Record page 1, Scotland on Sunday page 4)

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MP expenses: Willie Rennie, Liberal Democrat MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, has come under scrutiny for expense claims.  It is claimed he used his Westminster allowances to pay for a constituency office phone line.  (Sunday Times page 7)

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Anne Moffat: Anne Moffat, the Labour MP for East Lothian who is facing deselection, has accused her critics of bullying and intimidation and vowed to fight for her seat.  (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 6, Courier page 3, Times page 9)

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GARL: Scotland Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson has said the cancelled Glasgow Airport Rail Link would have provided minimal benefit to Scotland’s economy and would not have reduced traffic or greenhouse gas emissions.  (Herald page 8)

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New coal power plant: Ayrshire Power has sparked controversy by lodging plans to build a new £3 billion coal-fired power plant at Hunterston in Ayrshire.  Environmentalists have urged the Scottish Government to reject the plans.  (Scotland on Sunday page 1)

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Scottish Conservatives: Irvine Laidlaw has reportedly continued to fund the Conservative party despite promising to stop until the Monaco-based businessman’s tax status was resolved.  The Scottish Conservatives have allegedly continued to benefit from a £5,000 pound-a-month rental subsidy provided by Lord Laidlaw’s firm Abbey Business Centres Ltd.  (Sunday Herald page 13)

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In the Sunday Times, Scottish fashionista and Tory supporter Tessa Hartmann talks about her support of the Scottish Conservatives and a potential makeover for Annabel Goldie.