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Daily Political Media Summary: 16 April 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Media Summary: 16 April 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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General Election

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TV Debate: Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was declared the clear winner of the first historic Prime Ministerial debate last night as he told voters to turn away from the "old parties", claiming only he could deliver real change for Britain. In a snap poll taken just after the debate finished, Mr Clegg was shown to have won victory among viewers. Forty-three per cent said he had won the debate, with Conservative leader David Cameron second with 26 per cent. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was declared the weakest performer, with only 20 per cent of viewers saying he was the best debater. Mr Clegg\’s victory in the debate will increase the likelihood of a hung parliament if his performance is reflected in improved poll ratings for the Liberal Democrats. (Scotsman page 1, Bill Jamieson page 5, Gerry Hassan page 5, Herald page 1, page 9, Alison Rowat in Herald page 8, Times page 1, page 7, Vernon Bogdanor in Times page 27, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, FT page 2, Guardian page 1, Daily Record page 6, Daily Mail page 11, Daily Express page 4, Daily Mirror page 1, Sun page 1, BBC, STV) 

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Alex Salmond: Alex Salmond described last night\’s historic TV debate as "a democratic outrage" over the decision to exclude the SNP and other smaller parties from the panel. The SNP leader and First Minister said the broadcasters had "followed meekly" in the trail of the three big parties who laid down nearly 80 ground rules before last night\’s event. Mr Salmond threatened legal action last year when it emerged that the three main UK parties had agreed to the terms of a debate. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 9, Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph page 12) 

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Economy

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Growth forecast: Britain’s economy will grow by 1.3 per cent next year, compared with the Chancellor\’s forecast of between 3 and 3.5 per cent, economists predict today. The forecast, from the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR), has been revised upwards from the 0.8 per cent predicted in January and assumes a Conservative victory in next month\’s general election. Despite its upward revisions since the start of the year, CEBR noted that its forecasts were well short of the "highly optimistic" views for 2011 and beyond released in last month\’s Budget. (Scotsman page B2, Telegraph page B2)

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Gleneagles: Gleneagles Hotels – which is owned by Diageo, the world\’s largest drinks company – made an operating loss of £554,000 in the year to 30 June as business customers cut back on their corporate events. The loss follows a slump in recent years in operating profits, which stood at £5.5 million in 2003-4 but fell to £1m in 2007-8. (Scotsman page 13, BBC, STV) 

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Banks: Bill Jamieson comments in the Scotsman on the two former executives of Northern Rock who had fines imposed and how it’s premature to ‘draw the line’ under the failings of RBS and HBOS until all bankers are brought to account. (Scotsman page 29) 

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Transport 

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Volcanic Ash: All but a few flights in and out of the UK will remain grounded until 1am tomorrow, it was announced today. Making the latest no-fly decision, air traffic control company Nats said the cloud of volcanic ash from the Iceland eruption continued to cover much of the UK. But Nats did say some flights in Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland to and from Glasgow and Prestwick would continue to be allowed until 7pm today and that some transatlantic flights to and from Glasgow, Prestwick and Belfast could be permitted as well. (Herald page 5, Times page 3, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, FT page 6 , Guardian page 2, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 1, Daily Mirror page 1, BBC, STV) 

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People with respiratory conditions are being warned to take precautions after volcanic ash bringing unprecedented chaos to the UK’s airspace was forecast to reach ground level. The alert came as aviation authorities said thousands of planes would remain grounded today, bringing chaos to tens of thousands of travellers and costing business billions. The NHS said ash would fall on Scotland early today, moving south later on. “It is important to stress that the concentration of particles that does reach ground level is likely to be low and should not cause serious harm,” a spokesman said. (Herald page 1) 

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Health

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Surgery delays: The number of operations cancelled in Scottish hospitals has risen by more than 10% in a year to the highest level since devolution figures revealed yesterday. (Herald page 6) 

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Trans fats: Banning fats common in processed food would save thousands of lives in the UK and prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks in Scotland alone every year. Trans fats – also known as trans fatty acids – are found in many cakes, pastries, pies, chips and fast foods. They are chemically altered vegetable oils that increase the shelf life of products but have no nutritional value. Experts have now called on the UK to follow the example of Denmark, New York, California, Switzerland and Austria in banning trans fats. (Herald page 8, Guardian page 18) 

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Education

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Colleges: College principals in Scotland have warned they may have to reject record numbers of students as a result of a real-terms decrease in funding. Core funding for teaching in Scotland\’s 43 further education institutions will remain static next year, despite a record number of applications for places during last year\’s recession. The Scottish Funding Council (SFC), which allocates money to colleges and universities on behalf of the Scottish Government, yesterday revealed next year\’s budget for individual colleges. (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 6, Press and Journal page 7) 

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Dropout rates: More students are staying on at Scottish universities rather than dropping out, but institutions here still have some of the worst retention rates in the UK, new figures show. According to official statistics, 2900 students left university before the end of their first year in 2007-08, some 9.9% of the total. The figures, from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), mark an improvement on the previous year, when 3150 dropped out, or nearly 11%. (Herald page 7 ) 

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Modern languages: Research reveals courses are shorter and less available – a trend which could threaten the Scottish economy. Modern languages courses for primary teachers are a fraction of the length they once were – and in at least nine local authorities have disappeared altogether. It is the latest evidence that primary schools are facing an increasing battle to meet national expectations for languages teaching. (TESS page 3) 

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Politics

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Purcell: Former Glasgow Council leader Steven Purcell is facing a police inquiry which is understood to centre on his admitted use of cocaine and allegations of corruption. In an unusual move Strathclyde Police yesterday formally confirmed the 37-year-old was under investigation. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 1, Times page 15, Guardian page 15, Daily Record page 9, Daily Mail page 8, Daily Express page 11) 

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Holyrood jobs: Job losses are being considered by Scottish Parliament chiefs who have announced plans to cut their annual budget by 15% over the next three years. The cost-cutting drive is aimed at reducing its current annual budget of £78.7 million by £11.8m. About 500 people are employed at the Parliament and job losses are among the options being considered, although a spokesman said Holyrood would work closely with the trade unions to try to avoid compulsory redundancies. Chief executive Paul Grice said the Scottish Parliament’s Corporate Body (SPCB) had been considering cuts since January. (Herald page 14, Telegraph page 14) 

\r\nBudget cuts for Scotland: Conservatives have called for £5.1 billion to be slashed from the Scottish Government\’s budget over the next three years. The party said a 15 per cent cut to be made to the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body should be the "benchmark" for the government\’s own £34bn budget. That is the equivalent of twice the annual justice budget, the entire education budget, or almost half the health budget, being cut. (Scotsman, Times page 11, Courier page 6, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 8)
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