Reform Scotland News: 21 May 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 21 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: The Conservative-Lib Dem negotiations have allowed for a finely tuned balance between the policies of the two parties. While the Prime Minister has kept his plans to make £6 billion of spending cuts, to scrap Labour\’s planned "jobs tax" and to cap immigration, the Lib Dems won 20-odd seats in the government as well as fixed-term parliaments and implementation of the Calman Commission recommendations (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 8, Times page 1 and 8-9, Camilla Cavendish in the Times, Guardian page 12, FT page 3, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 6).

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Alcohol Pricing: SNP ministers are under pressure to drop their plans to introduce minimum alcohol pricing in Scotland as a new coalition document introduces UK-wide measures such as a ban on the practice of “loss-leading” in supermarkets (Scotsman page 4).

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Scottish Conservatives: Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie has finalised the team that will lead her party\’s campaign for next year\’s Holyrood elections.  David McLetchie will be campaign manager, with John Lamont as justice spokesman, Murdo Fraser as health spokesman, and Liz Smith given responsibility for education (Scotsman page 5, Herald page 9).
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Labour Leadership: Candidates for the party leadership will be allowed an extra 13 days to gather nominations due to the increase in the number of contenders. With the entry of Andy Burnham and Diane Abbott, there are now six contenders for the race (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 8, Times page 10).

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Scottish Secretary: Danny Alexander has offered to address MSPs at Holyrood to explain the Liberal-Conservative Government’s legislative programme which includes proposals to give Holyrood new tax powers, create an offshore electricity grid to support wind power generation and job creation in Scotland, and establish a commission to look at the West Lothian Question (Herald page 1).

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Barnett Formula: Under the coalition deal agreed by the Tories and Liberal Democrats, the Barnett formula will continue to be used in allocating taxpayers’ money to the nations of the United Kingdom. No replacement will be considered until the budget deficit has been dealt with.  (Times page 9, Telegraph page 10, Alan Cochrane in Telegraph page 15).

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Ravenscraig: Confidential files on the closure of Ravenscraig were recently made public which indicate that the Tory Scottish Secretary, aware of the negative economic impact on Scotland, tried to stop the 1992 closure of the Lanarkshire steel plant (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 12, Times page 23).

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Economy

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Royal Mail Modernisation:  Business Secretary Vince Cable unveiled plans for a part-privatisation of the Royal Mail yesterday.  Royal Mail’s modernisation initiative, which is three-quarters complete, has seen its group operating profit rise by £83 million to £404 million (Scotsman page 1, Herald page 30, Times page 47).

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Commonwealth Games: The cost of hosting the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014 is now £523 million, a £70 million rise since November.  Officials say the increase is due to inflation forecasts.  Meanwhile, a study by a group of health professionals and academics in Glasgow is questioning the benefit to the local citizenry of hosting such events (Herald page 1).

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Child Poverty: With 10,000 more children living in poor households than last year, the number of children living in poverty in Scotland has risen for the first time in more than a decade.  Currently 21% of Scottish children are affected (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 4).

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Transport 

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British Airways Strike: The Unite union successfully appealed against an earlier High Court ruling that had granted BA’s management an injunction against the back-to-back walkouts. The BA cabin crew will now launch three five-day strikes. Tensions between British Airways and Unite increased as BA posted record annual losses of £531 million (Herald page 2, Times page 15, Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 5).

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Local Government

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Quango Payment: The Public Audit Committee has heavily criticised the Scottish Government for doubling a severance payment to former Transport Scotland chief executive Dr Malcolm Reed (Herald page 10,Times page 9).

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Health

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Synthetic Cells: U.S. scientists have created the world’s first synthetic living cell, which could lead to the production of new medicines.  Edinburgh University is among the leading centres of synthetic biology in the UK (Scotsman page 1, Times page 3, FT page 1, Telegraph page 1).

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NHS Job Losses: Labour leader Iain Gray challenged First Minister Alex Salmond to publish documents showing how many jobs health boards in Grampian and Tayside are to cut. The SNP administration has been under increasing pressure since NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde announced last week it was looking to lose 1,200 staff (Press and Journal page 4, Sun page 2, Daily Mail page 2).