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Daily Political Media Summary: 12 April 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Media Summary: 12 April 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.


General Election

Labour manifesto: Gordon Brown will launch Labour’s election manifesto today.  The party has insisted that it will contain no new large spending commitments, and will offer affordable measures instead.  While Mr Brown has pledged not to raise basic income or capital gains tax rates, he offered no guarantee that VAT would not be raised.  Other promises include public referendums on the House of Lords and on the introduction of the alternative-vote system, a free vote in Parliament on whether to lower the voting age to 16, the creation of a £2 billion green investment bank, and a pledge to devolve more powers to Scotland.  Scottish Labour will launch their manifesto today as well and it is expected to include a promise to build two new aircraft carriers in a bid to preserve shipbuilding jobs.  (Scotsman page 1, Tiffany Jenkins in The Scotsman, Herald page 1, Courier page 1, P&J page 10, Times page 1, Guardian page 1, Telegraph page 1, Mirror page 6, Record page 6, Mail page 6, Sunday Herald page 10)


Dole:  Claimants on long-term benefits are to be told to take a job or face having their state hand outs taken away under radical plans expected to be unveiled in Labour\’s election manifesto today. Gordon Brown will announce the maximum time an individual in good health should be allowed to claim Jobseekers\’ Allowance is two years. The government will then give them a state-funded job or a work placement. But if they refuse, their benefits will be taken away. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)


Gordon Brown heckled: Gordon Brown\’s tour of a marginal seat in Scotland led to bad-tempered scenes yesterday as he was heckled by Scotland\’s Education Minister over his views on Iraq. Keith Brown, the SNP MSP for Ochil, confronted the Prime Minister as he left the house of a constituent.  The confrontation last night led to claim and counter-claim after Labour\’s director of communications, Rami Okacha, who was present with the Prime Minister, alleged he had been punched in the back by the SNP minister. The SNP described the claim last night as "fantasy". (Scotland on Sunday page 2, Sunday Post page 2, Sunday Herald page 1)


Conservative manifesto: The Conservatives will launch their manifesto tomorrow with anticipated promises to create a “Super-ISA” to help under-30s save as well as plans to sell discounted shares in bailed-out banks.  Tax breaks for married couples as well as a partial reversal of Labour’s planned rise in National Insurance contributions are also expected to feature prominently.  (Scotsman page 5, P&J page 10, Times page 9, Guardian page 6, FT page 1, Express page 1)


Marriage tax break: David Cameron defended his tax break for marriage as more about "the message, not the money" last night after opponents argued the £150 a year benefit was "patronising drivel". The Conservatives yesterday unveiled their latest pre-election tax cut, pledging to use £500 million from a new levy on banks to give to give married couples a tax break, which will also apply to gay couples in civil partnerships.  This will apply to only a third of Britain\’s 12 million married couples, with anyone earning more than £44,000 a year deemed ineligible. (Scotland on Sunday page 2, Sunday Post page 2, Sunday Times page 2)


Fundraising gaffe: Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy was forced to deny that a known gangster had contributed to his election campaign after Lewis Rodden – jailed in 2005 for extortion and known as “Scooby” – was seen at a fundraising dinner at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow.  (Scotsman page 7, Sunday Herald page 1)


Cancer leaflet row: A Labour leafleting campaign targeting cancer patients has been attacked by the Tories and Liberal Democrats.  The Labour leaflets criticised Conservative health policy, and there have been calls for an investigation into whether the party used private patient databases for the mailshot. (Herald page 6, Courier page 9, P&J page 11, Guardian page 11, Mail page 7)


Tory elderly policy: Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie has accused Labour of being “dishonest” as the Tories launched a poster campaign across the UK aiming to rebut Labour accusations that the Conservatives would end free bus passes, TV licences, and winter fuel payments for the elderly.  (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 7, Courier page 9)


Scottish debate: Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy, Tory Shadow Scottish Secretary David Mundell, Lib Dem Scottish Affairs spokesman Alistair Carmichael, and SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson clashed in a TV debate yesterday on the BBC.  Taxes and Trident were two of the main issues discussed.  (Herald page 7)


Leaders’ wives: Almost three-quarters of Sunday Post readers believe Gordon Brown and David Cameron’s wives shouldn’t be with their husbands on the general election campaign trail.  Just four per cent of the readers say the party leaders’ wives would influence their vote, and mostly negatively. (Sunday Post page 8)


Airlink: A businessman behind one of Scotland\’s fastest-growing private companies has vowed to move his headquarters to Switzerland if Gordon Brown is re-elected as Prime Minister. John McGlynn, founder and chairman of Paisley-based Airlink group of parking and property companies, also warned that Labour\’s 1p National Insurance (NI) tax increase would force him to consider job cuts. Mr McGlynn told Scotland on Sunday: "If Gordon Brown is Prime Minister from 7 May I will have to move somewhere else – Zurich. And there are lots of other businesses that will do the same." (Scotland on Sunday page B1)


SNP: The SNP has resorted to an “insurgency campaign” as it struggles to meet fundraising targets.  The perception that the party won’t wield power in Westminster is reported to be behind the SNP’s difficulty in fundraising.  (Scotsman page 6)


Conservative/SNP deal: David Cameron has ruled out any prospect of a deal between the Conservatives and the SNP in the event of a hung parliament.  Mr Cameron said that his party could not negotiate with the SNP out of principle because he does not agree with the SNP agenda for independence.  (Sunday Times page 1)


Business leaders: The Lib Dems have criticised business chiefs backing Tory plans to cut National Insurance. Party Leader Nick Clegg said wealthy business leaders should not ‘tell governments how to run this country”. (Sunday Post page 8)


Leaders’ debates: In a first for British politics, the three party leaders this week go head to head in a live television debate, knowing that how they perform in front of millions may be pivotal to the outcome of the General Election. On Thursday night, British politics will experience a historic first. At 8:30pm in a TV studio in northern England, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg will take part in the first UK General Election leaders’ debate. The preparations this week will be intense. American political consultants with experience of the US presidential version have been hired to give them the inside track. Some time on Wednesday, the three men will disappear from the campaign trail, to be taken to a private location, for their last-minute \’prepping\’. (Scotland on Sunday page 11, Sunday Post page 9)


Campaign strategies: There is comment on the campaign so far with some believing that the Conservatives appeared to have “won” the first week of election campaigning on the back of George Osborne’s plan to partially block a planned rise in National Insurance contributions.  Labour strategists are keen to move on from attacking the Tory tax plans to plans contained in their manifesto in the coming weeks in order to begin to make up ground in the polls.  (Sunday Times page 13, James Cusick in the Sunday Herald)



Oil and gas: Scottish oil and gas companies have reported sales of £15.4 billion, an 8.3% increase from last year.  Overseas sales alone have increased 15.1% from last year.  (P&J page 1)


Private sector activity: According to a survey conducted by the Bank of Scotland, private sector activity rose in Scotland in March for the ninth straight month, although at a weaker pace than that recorded in February.  (P&J page 16)


Business rates: Hundreds of Scottish firms are struggling to meet hikes of as much as 99 per cent in their business rates this month. Inner-city hoteliers in particular have reportedly seen their non-domestic business rates rocket "out of all proportion" since 1 April after the Scottish Government undertook a five-year revaluation of the taxes. Taxation levels are calculated according to the rateable value of a firm\’s premises except for hotels, cinemas and theatres, where they are based on turnover. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)


Financial services: Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE), an industry body for Scotland\’s beleaguered financial services firms, has joined forces with a UK-wide organisation led by the Lord Mayor of London in an effort to redeem the reputation of the industry. Lord Mayor Nick Anstee told a select audience of SFE members last week that since the crisis the industry had been under a "sustained attack" which has created a "toxic environment" for financial services companies. Mr Anstee, who is heading up the new body TheCityUK, said he aimed to "restore trust" in the City as well as other UK financial centres. (Scotland on Sunday page B1)


Scottish Business: Colin Donald comments in the Sunday Herald that Scotland must elect to become a nation of traders and recover its historical reputation as a global leader in trade. Scottish Business leaders also tell Colin Donald on what terms the general election campaign should be fought. (Sunday Herald page B43, page 46)



Cell blocks: A new block of ten cells – which can be moved to other areas to meet demand – will be set up in Saltcoats, in Ayrshire, after being approved by Strathclyde Police Authority.  The metal-skinned cabin, complete with CCTV cameras and intercom system, will cost around £750,000 – a fraction of the price of traditional bricks-and-mortar cell blocks and help to end a critical shortage of containment facilities. More are expected to be installed around Scotland as public sector budget cuts bite. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)


Local Government

Steven Purcell: It is reported that the Purcell scandal may have an impact on the general election, although it is difficult to predict its extent.  The SNP are committed to playing the “Purcell card” as it contests six Labour seats in Glasgow in the hope that an anti-Purcell backlash dovetails with wider discontent with Labour.  (Sunday Times page 6)


Reports indicate that it will be a four-way race to follow Steven Purcell as the leader of Glasgow City Council.  (Herald page 4)


Lockerbie artwork: A huge installation controversially evoking the Lockerbie bombing is to feature as part of an upcoming arts festival in Glasgow. The show, Camp 2010, at the city’s Tramway venue features shards of metal debris and the nose-cone of a large aircraft. The families of those who died in the 1988 disaster described the imagery used as “horrible”.  Sources close to the exhibition stated that the installation was referred to as “the Lockerbie piece”, but the director of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Arts (Gi) strongly denied it was specifically about the bombing. (Sunday Herald page 8)



Organ donation: It has been revealed that up to 800,000 people may have had their wishes regarding the use of their organs wrongly recorded due to computer error.  (Scotsman page 8, P&J page 5, Express page 10, Mail page 12)


New cancer plan: A new project is being launched across Scotland that will see samples collected from tumours from every removed kidney cancer that will then be stored in a “biorepository”.  It is expected that research done through the repository means Scottish patients will be among the first to benefit from experimental new drugs. (Scotsman page 9)



English students: A new report has warned that English students who study in Scotland are being driven back down south after graduating due to anti-English attitudes amongst Scottish employers.  (Scotsman page 18, Express page 2)


Sex Education: Teenagers are reportedly giving sex education lessons to younger children in a controversial new scheme to reduce the high rate of unwanted pregnancies. Pupils as young as 14 have been trained to teach younger schoolmates about puberty, contraception and where to get advice on gay issues in the first move of its kind in Scotland. (Scotland on Sunday page 1)



HIE: A quango facing allegations of conflict of interest has been criticised after handing over nearly £1.4million to a firm that employs one if its own board members. Highlands and Islands Enterprise paid most of the sum so BSW Sawmills could relocate its premises just yards from its original base of operations. An HIE spokesperson said Andy Rogers, a board member of the quango and a senior employee of the firm, played no part in the grant-making decisions. HIE receives around £50m of public money every year to boost economic development. However, the quango was damaged recently after it emerged that around £150,000 had been handed to a consultancy firm co-founded by HIE chairman William Roe. (Sunday Herald page 16)