0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

Daily Political Media Summary: 22 March 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Media Summary: 22 March 2010

\r\n

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.

\r\n

 

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

UK Budget: Chancellor Alistair Darling yesterday refuted Conservative claims that his upcoming budget would be “window dressing” by stating Labour would not produce a second budget should it win the election.  Mr Darling also said his budget would be “workmanlike” and not include any pre-election giveaways.  He also ruled out a rise in VAT and criticised Tory plans to introduce a bank levy.  (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 2, P&J page 5, Courier page 9, Telegraph page 2, Times page 6, Guardian page 1, FT page 1, Mirror page 7, Express page 7, Mail page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Herald page 23)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Alistair Darling is under pressure to announce a bank tax in his budget this week after the Conservatives said they would punish the City with a new levy. (Sunday Times page B1, Scotland on Sunday page 2)

\r\n

 

\r\n

The economic think tank Ernst & Young Item Club has warned that Mr Darling’s projections on the economy are too optimistic and argues that further cuts in public spending must be made.  (Scotsman page 35, Times page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Scottish budget cuts reprieve: George Osborne yesterday said that he would allow any budget cuts planned by an incoming Conservative government to be delayed for a year in Scotland. The Scottish Government\’s £30 billion budget for 2010/11 will be excluded from the round of cuts that the Conservatives will impose on the rest of the UK if they win the election. (Scotland on Sunday page 1, Sunday Post page 2, Telegraph page 10)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Scottish economic independence: SNP Finance Minister John Swinney said yesterday that the Scottish economy was strong and the country could no longer remain a part of “bankrupt Britain”.  Speaking at the party’s spring conference, Mr Swinney said the key to Scotland’s economic future was renewable energy.  (Scotsman page 4)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Scotland’s business sector: David D Murray claimed a triple blow of taxes, political uncertainty and the Scottish banking crisis is actively discouraging investment in new business ventures. He claimed this comes at a time when the growth of the private sector is more vital than ever as swingeing cuts to the public sector appear inevitable. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Scottish Enterprise: Scottish Enterprise is to radically shift its strategy of focussing on key economic sectors, its new Chief Executive has confirmed.  Lena Wilson has indicated a major change in the agency’s approach in which the strength of an investment opportunity, not its sectoral classification, becomes paramount. (Sunday Herald page B56)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Marine energy: According to Alex Salmond, a plan has been put into place that could turn Scotland into the “Saudi Arabia of marine energy”. Mr Salmond is determined to take bold steps to achieve his targets. The first 10 projects are forecast to create 5,000 engineering jobs in Scotland over the next decade. (Sunday Times page 11)

\r\n

 

\r\n

EU fisheries policy: Scottish Fisheries Secretary Richard Lochhead is in Brussels today to set out his case for a “radical shift” in EU fisheries policy that will stress conservation and sustainable fishing practices in order to meet the needs of the fishing industry.  (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 4, P&J page 7)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Public sector size: New official figures have revealed that public sector spending now accounts for 52% of Britain’s GDP.  (Telegraph page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Scottish Lawyers: Scotland’s lawyers will vote this week on a planned shake-up described as the most important change to the profession in its history. Alternative Business Structures (ABS) give law firms greater flexibility in the way they are run as businesses, such as permitting the investment of external capital, promoting non-lawyers to the partnership and offering combined services, including accountancy or surveying. (Scotland on Sunday page B3, Sunday Herald page B52)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Local Government

\r\n

Steven Purcell:  A publicly-owned construction quango set up by former Glasgow council leader Steven Purcell has reportedly donated a total of £4,000 to Labour. Last week it was revealed City Building treated Labour grandees, including Scottish leader Iain Gray and his wife, to a £2,000 dinner at a party fund-raiser last year. Now it has emerged the Glasgow City Council-owned firm also took a £2,000 table at a similar event last month. (Scotland on Sunday page 6, Sunday Herald page 1, page 16,  page 17, Joan McAlpine comments in the Sunday Times page 23)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Labour donor: Police are reportedly considering launching a “cash for favours” investigation into one of Labour’s biggest donors after he was awarded public sector contracts worth up to £20 million. Strathclyde police confirmed they were consulting the prosecutor’s office in Scotland about allegations that Willie Haughey was unfairly awarded contracts while Steven Purcell was in charge of Glasgow City Council. (Sunday Times page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

New parking penalties: Parking fines in Scotland’s cities may be increased from £60 to £100 as ministers look for new revenue streams for cash-strapped councils.  (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, P&J page 1, Sunday Post page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Council salaries: Around 80 local authority staff in Scotland are earning six-figure salaries and almost 3,000 Scottish council workers are now on more than £50,000. (Scotland on Sunday page 6)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Health

\r\n

SNP health pledges: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon used her speech at the SNP conference to announce a series of health-related measures including online self-assessment checkups for over-40s, face-to-face “heart MOTs”, and “brief interventions” on alcohol abuse.  (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, P&J page 4, Courier page 1, Express page 5, Mail page 9)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Glasgow life expectancy: A report published in the journal Public Health has found Glaswegians of all social classes die earlier than they would in similar cities in England.  The study refutes the theory that Glasgow’s poverty can explain its high rates of mortality.  (Herald page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Education

\r\n

University Facebook threat: Lecturers at Scottish universities who use Facebook to communicate with their students may face disciplinary action because of a lack of official guidelines regarding the site’s use.  The Universities and Colleges Union Scotland will debate this disciplinary risk to its members at its annual congress this week.  (Herald page 13)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Admissions Enquiry: The University of Edinburgh is to be referred to the government’s Equality and Human Rights Commission over its admissions policy, which allegedly gives priority to applicants from Scotland and the north of England. (Sunday Times page 13)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Remote Education: Lochmaddy primary is one of 18 schools in the Western Isles threatened with closure under council plans to centralise education and address the issues of declining pupil numbers and poor-quality buildings. A consultation is under way but if all those affected close, the Western Isles could lose almost half of its schools by 2018. (Sunday Times page 11)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

SNP conference: SNP leaders used their spring conference in Aviemore to criticise Labour policies as well as reinvigorate party activists ahead of the UK general election.  Alex Salmond told party activists he cannot prevent cuts in public spending in Scotland, warning that “difficult times are coming” but still urged members to “get a Saltire over the constituencies of Scotland”.  Nicola Sturgeon used the Steven Purcell scandal to attack Labour’s “culture of secrecy” and “fear of transparency” whilst Kenny MacAskill criticised the party’s record on crime.  (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6, Sun page 2, Scotland on Sunday page 2, Sunday Herald page 22, Sunday Post page 15, Jenny Hjul comments on Alex Salmond’s speech in the Sunday Times page 22, Kenny Farquharson comments in Scotland on Sunday page 16)

\r\n

 

\r\n

MPs’ Lobbying Scandal: Labour was forced to bring forward a promise from its upcoming election manifesto to enforce a compulsory register of lobbying after senior Labour MPs were filmed by an undercover journalist allegedly offering their services in return for cash.  Conservative leader David Cameron has called for an investigation, whilst the Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg described the MPs’ behaviour as “very, very sleazy”.  (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 2, P&J page 11, Courier page 11, Telegraph page 4, Times page 8, Guardian page 1, FT page 2, Express page 10, Mail page 6, Sunday Times page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

Jack McConnell: Jack McConnell, the former First Minister, is reported to have discussed a possible role working for a future Conservative government.  The former Scottish Labour party leader, who continues to represent the party as MSP for Motherwell and Wishaw, reportedly met William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, earlier this year. (Sunday Times page 5, Sunday Herald page 1)

\r\n

 

\r\n

SNP candidate resignation: Osama Saeed, former aide to First Minister Alex Salmond and SNP candidate for Glasgow Central, has resigned as chief of the Scottish Islamic Foundation after discrepancies were reportedly uncovered in the organisation’s accounts.  (Scotsman page 2, Sunday Herald page 7)

\r\n

 

\r\n

General Election polls: A hung parliament seems to be the most likely result of a general election according to two polls released yesterday.  (Scotsman page 5)

\r\n

 

\r\n

BA strikes: Knock-on effects of the British Airways cabin crew strike have meant 60% of BA flights between Scotland and Heathrow and Gatwick on Tuesday have been cancelled though this first set of strikes will officially end tonight.  (Scotsman page 8)