Daily Political Media Summary: 29 March 2010


Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 29 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.



NI increase:  The Conservatives today will promise to block Labour’s planned rise in National Insurance contributions.  The multi-billion pound pledge will be paid for by cuts in public sector spending.  (Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, FT page 1, Express page 4, Mail page 1)


Banking reform: The Treasury Select Committee will today argue for vast reforms of Britain’s banking system in order to prevent future bail-outs of the sector.  The committee is expected to urge ministers not to rule out the break-up of “too-big-to-fail” banks and to look into limiting the size and scope of banks.  (Scotsman page 6)


Financial services upturn: According to a new CBI/Pricewaterhouse Coopers report, profits and business volumes are expected to increase in the financial services sector after a stable start to 2010.  (Scotsman page 31)


Post Office: Post Office branches will begin to offer a wider range of financial services under Government plans to be released today.  The move is aimed at making the Post Office more sustainable.  (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Courier page 9, P&J page 9, Telegraph page 4, FT page 2)


Home building plan: The National Housing Trust, being revealed today by the Scottish Government and Scottish Futures Trust, will aim to generate £130 million for councils in order to stimulate activity on mothballed housing sites.  (Herald page 8, Scotland on Sunday page 1)



GARL: A freedom of information request has revealed that ministers were warned the Glasgow Airport Rail Link may not be completed until after the 2014 Commonwealth Games despite public assurances to the contrary.  (Herald page 1)


Edinburgh trams: The companies hired to build Edinburgh’s tram network have complained that local bureaucrats are paralysing the project.  5,000 letters have been sent to the BSC consortium from Transport Initiatives Edinburgh, the council-run body charged with overseeing construction.  (Sunday Times page 7)



Drugs cost: The Director of the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Drug Misuse Research has estimated a single drug addict costs Scotland £60,000 per year.  With an estimated 55,000 addicts in Scotland, the total bill for health care, criminal activity and other social costs associated with addiction comes to £3.5 billion per year.  (Scotsman page 1, Neil McKeganey in the Scotsman)


A&E police: Britain’s heavy drinking culture has forced local NHS trusts to pay police officers to cover A&E departments in order to prevent violence against staff.  NHS Greater Glasgow alone pays £60,000 a year for four officers to cover the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Western Infirmary on Friday and Saturday nights.  (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 9, P&J page 10)


Quango bonuses: Last year, 130 employees in one department of the National Services Scotland quango took home more than £650,000 in bonus payments from the NHS.  (Sunday Herald page 23)



Curriculum for Excellence: Education secretary Mike Russell has said he is committed to rolling out the SNP’s Curriculum for Excellence from August this year despite claims that schools and teachers will not be ready to implement the new curriculum.  (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 4, Courier page 2, P&J page 11, Times page 13, Sunday Times page 7)


Community-controlled schools: Mike Russell is expected to signal his support for shifting control over schools from councils to communities in his keynote speech at an event organised by the East Lothian Council on 22 April.  (Scotsman page 9)


University funding: The National Union of Students and the University and College Union are pressuring the Scottish Government to provide more funding to allow more students to enrol in science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses following a similar move in England.  (Herald page 4)



Scottish Labour spring conference: Scottish Labour met in Glasgow on Saturday for their spring conference, the theme of which was “Operation Fightback”.  Despite a series of recent local and national setbacks for the party, activists left the gathering optimistic they can emerge from the general election with at least as many seats in Scotland as they hold at the moment.  (Sunday Post page 15)


Gordon Brown used his conference speech to accuse the Tories of planning a “cruel” and “hard-hearted” raid on the pockets of middle Britain.  He stated that only Labour could be trusted to protect middle and modest income earners.  (Scotland on Sunday page 2)


Scottish poll: Labour is increasing their lead over the SNP and Conservatives in Scotland according to a new opinion poll.  37% of those polled intend to vote Labour compared to 24% for the SNP, 18% for the Tories, and 14% for the Liberal Democrats.  The poll also indicates Gordon Brown widening the popularity gap between himself and David Cameron to 12 points.  (Times page 13, Scotland on Sunday page 1)


Scottish powers: Gordon Brown has promised Scotland will receive more powers including greater tax-raising flexibility should Labour win a fourth term in office.  (P&J page 8, Sunday Post page 2)


Tory poster campaign: The Conservatives have launched a new poster campaign designed by the same firm responsible for the successful “Labour isn’t working” campaign in 1979.  The posters feature a smiling Gordon Brown alongside negative claims about his record as Prime Minister.  (P&J page 1, Telegraph page 4)


Labour election pledges: Despite pledging to ring-fence schools and health funding, the Treasury has admitted that Labour’s guarantee would apply only to current spending; future investment will most likely be cut.  (Sunday Times page 2)


In Scotland on Sunday, Eddie Barnes seeks to find out why voters seem to be disenchanted with and detached from politics.


Alistair Darling: Chancellor Alistair Darling has revealed in a new interview that he threatened to leave the government last year when Gordon Brown was considering demoting him.  He said there was “no ill feeling” but said he had refused to be removed from his post.  (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 6, P&J page 8, Telegraph page 4, Record page 2)


British Airways strike: BA cabin crew began their second walkout on Saturday leading David Cameron to charge that unions have “scented weakness” in the government’s response to the strike.  Gordon Brown denied this claim stating that under Labour the number of working days lost to strikes had fallen by 90%.  (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 2, Courier page 1, P&J page 5, Guardian page 5, FT page 2)


Cash for access scandal:  Scottish MP Adam Ingram is the latest former minister to be caught up in the cash for access scandal.  He has denied wrongdoing after being quoted by an undercover reporter allegedly saying he could assist companies in accessing government ministers for a fee of £1,500 a day.  The former armed forces minister and Labour MP for East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow is not standing for re-election.  (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6, Courier page 9, P&J page 9, Guardian page 10, Mail page 2, Sunday Times page 1)


Government FoI case: The SNP have been accused of censoring the public’s right to know as it has mounted a legal challenge on the Scottish Information Commissioner’s ability to request information from the Scottish Government as part of its investigations.  (Sunday Herald page 10)


Tommy Sheridan: The outspoken former Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan has announced he will return to politics as the candidate for the Glasgow South West seat for a new socialist coalition.  (Scotland on Sunday page 1)


Child poverty: Sixty children are made homeless everyday according to the housing charity Shelter.  Nearly half of all homeless children are aged five or under and 128,000 children live in fuel poverty.  (Sunday Herald page 1)


Steven Purcell: It has been revealed that City Building (Glasgow), the quango established by Steven Purcell, awarded a lucrative contract to a company with Labour party ties last year.  (Sunday Herald page 8)


Prominent Labour donor and Glasgow businessman Willie Haughey will reportedly offload one of his companies as well as commit to stop doing public sector work and report himself to Audit Scotland. (Sunday Herald page 8)


Gordon Brown has said that judgements regarding Steven Purcell have to be seen in the context of the achievements of the council as a whole during his time as leader.  (Herald page 1)


In an interview with the Sun, Steven Purcell gives an account of the events leading up to his resignation from Glasgow City Council.  (Sun page 4)


Women in Politics: In the Sunday Times, Wendy Alexander comments on women in Scottish politics and argues that an open political culture in Scotland will benefit both men and women.  (Sunday Times page 9)