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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 14 MAY 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 14 May 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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In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News. 

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Politics

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Coalition government and the budget deficit: After settling in, the Conservative – Lib Dem coalition is now set to face the UK’s grim economic situation, particularly Britain’s budget deficit.  In an effort to relieve the deficit, calls have been made for spending cuts as well as a rise in VAT, with predictions it will hit 20% before the end of 2011.  Government ministers will face a 5% pay cut as well as a freeze in earnings for the next 5 years (Scotsman page 8, Guardian page 1 and 13, Record page 8, Sun page 9, Express page 4 and 5, Mail page 6 and 7, Times page 6, Press page 8, Telegraph page 4, Financial Times page 1 and 3). 

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Additionally, while basic rate taxpayers would see tax cuts under Conservative- Lib Dem proposals, with the personal earning allowance raised to more than £7,000, this is to be offset by a rise in National Insurance contributions for those earning more than £35,400 (Telegraph page 1). 

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Coalition opposition: The coalition also faces opposition from some senior Tory and Labour MPs over a proposal in the coalition agreement to stipulate that dissolution would need to be approved by at least 55% of MPs. This would be a radical shift away from the Commons tradition of allowing a simple majority of one to force a government to resign (Herald page 6, Guardian page 8, Mirror page 1, Times page 9, Telegraph page 8, Financial Times page 2, Courier page 10, Press page 9). 

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Cabinet posts: David Cameron continues to finalise selections for cabinet posts with a few Conservatives set to lose their positions to the Lib Dems in a bid to appease Lib Dem critics of the coalition (Times page 8, Guardian page 10). 

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Coalition government and Scotland: Alex Salmond will call for a £700 million ‘fiscal stimulus’ for Scotland in his meeting with David Cameron today, potentially straining relations between the administrations.  The two will likely also discuss plans to implement the Calman recommendations, which would give Scotland more control over taxes and borrowing powers (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, page 7, Record page 9, Express page 5, Mail page 7, Times page 9, Telegraph page 1, Press page 1 and 8).
\r\nCoalition Ideology: Several commentators have speculated on the role of political ideology in the new coalition (Fraser Nelson in the Times, Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, Martin Kettle in the Guardian). 

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Labour Leadership Contest: The contest for a new Labour leader continues with former Cabinet minister Ed Balls considering a bid for the party leadership. It is likely that David Miliband’s brother, Ed, will also become a contender (Guardian page 16, Courier page 10, Press page 9, Financial Times page 6, Telegraph page 9). 

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SNP: Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman comments on the future of the SNP.  

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Economy

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Broadband coverage: Telecommunications giant BT is to invest £2.5 billion over the next five years to extend its super-fast broadband service to cover two-thirds of UK homes by 2015.  BT has stated that Scottish householders are to be among the first to benefit, as Scotland currently suffers from some of the slowest broadband speeds in the developed world. (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 14) 

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Crime

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Crime rates: Crime is down by 10% in Strathclyde, Scotland’s largest police force area, saving the taxpayer more than £26 million in the last year. Murders were down by 30% and assaults had decreased by more than 11%.  However, there was a 17% increase in the level of recorded rapes (Herald page 8, Sun page 4). 

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Transport 

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Flight disruptions: Scotland is set to be hit by a 5-day British Airways strike, with about 30,000 passengers unable to fly on each day of the strike.  Authorities have also predicted air closures due to volcanic ash to last well into the summer (Herald page 14, Guardian page 2, Courier page 10). 

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Health

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NHS jobs: More than 1,200 jobs are set to be made redundant at Scotland’s largest health board, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.  Over half of the jobs will involve those working in nursing and midwifery (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 1, Record page 1, Sun page 2, Express page 1, Mail page 1, Times page 7, Telegraph page 6). 

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Education

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Curriculum for Excellence: HM Inspectorate of education (HMIe) will postpone school inspections in local authority secondary schools from August until December in order to redirect officers toward the implementation of the new curriculum.  The controversial measure has already been delayed by a year due to teacher demand for more training and resources (Scotsman page 16, Herald page 5, TESS page 1, Times page 15).