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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 27 AUGUST 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 27 August 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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Labour leadership: The competition for Scottish votes for the Labour leadership between the Miliband brothers has heated up, with both men claiming to have the upper hand. David Miliband, making his third visit to Scotland since the leadership race started, has disputed claims that his brother Ed has majority support north of the border. David Miliband has advised his party of the necessity of being frugal. Such comments contrast with his four opponents – his brother Ed Miliband, Andy Burnham, Ed Balls and Diane Abbott.  It is felt that such comments are unlikely to endear him to union leaders who are mostly backing his brother Ed. However, David Miliband is leading among MPs and ordinary members, having won the Edinburgh East primary this week (Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Guardian page 14, Martin Kettle in the Guardian, P&J page 12, Courier page 12, Telegraph page 6).

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Jack McConnell: Scotland\’s longest-serving First Minister, Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale, announced he is to quit frontline politics and will not stand at next year\’s Scottish Parliamentary elections (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 6, Express page 2).

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Access to ministers: The Conservative Party has come under fire for allegedly offering access to ministers at a £1,000-a-plate dinner at the party conference in October.

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The inaugural Conservative Party Business Dinner is being marketed as an exclusive networking event where places start at £500. Each table of ten is reportedly to be hosted by a prominent Conservative MP but individuals prepared to spend £1,000 are supposedly guaranteed access to at least one serving government minister (Scotsman page 6, Telegraph page 1, Mail page 1).

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Economy

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Fringe: Royal Bank of Scotland\’s sponsorship of free entertainment on the Royal Mile is set to expire next week and Kath Mainland, chief executive of the Festival, has admitted no deal is in place for the street theatre areas on the High Street for next year. RBS has been one of the Fringe\’s main backers for the past ten years and its support is understood to be worth around £100,000 a year as the firm provides a host of infrastructure on the High Street, including performance stages, poster towers and waste bins. However, Festival insiders have admitted a hunt for a new headline sponsor for the High Street is well under way (Scotsman page 8).

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TV industry: Millions of pounds of public money must be spent making television programmes to keep the industry afloat, according to a new report by The Scottish Television Broadcast and Production Working Group.  The report’s findings stated that the industry could expand massively over the next three years, increasing turnover from £215 million to £346 million and creating 1,700 jobs but that these targets would require the government arts body Creative Scotland to increase massively its investment in the television sector (Scotsman page 13, Times page 19).

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Airport fee: Business and tourism would be hard hit by the passenger drop-off charge at Scotland\’s busiest airport, according to nearly three-quarters of those who responded to the Midlothian and East Lothian Chamber of Commerce survey.  More than 40 per cent said the planned £1 fee at Edinburgh Airport would affect whether they used the airport in the future.
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page 24).

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RBS in Glasgow: The Royal Bank of Scotland is to close its Direct Line insurance business at Atlantic Quay and pull out of offices on St Vincent Street in Glasgow, shedding 440 posts.

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The state-owned bank announced 2,000 redundancies across its insurance arm. RBS is required to sell off its insurance division by 2013 under an order from the European Commission in exchange for the £54 billion handout of public money that saved the bank in 2008 (Herald page 4, Express page 4, Record page 2).

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Immigration: Net migration to the UK soared by more than 20 per cent last year, fuelled mostly by 60 per cent fewer Britons leaving the country to live abroad – down from 90,000 to 36,000 – and by a 35 per cent rise in overseas students coming to Britain. The figures, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), also showed almost one in four births in the UK last year were to mothers born outside the UK. At the same time, the number of people coming to work in Britain has continued to decline with a fall of 14 per cent recorded in the 12 months to June 2010. In response, an abrupt introduction of a "radical cap" on immigration from next year has been proposed.  However, The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has warned that this will lead to major UK skills problems (Herald page 6, Times page 13, Financial Times page 1, Guardian page 4, Express page 1, P&J page 15, Courier page 12, Telegraph page 10).

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Justice

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Police cuts: Scotland\’s biggest police force is cutting 200 officers and 600 civilian staff as budget pressures start to take their toll. Strathclyde Police will offer voluntary redundancy to support staff. While police officers cannot be made redundant, 130 are expected to move on, and 70 retire, and a recruitment freeze will stop them being replaced. The majority of Scotland\’s police forces, which face budget cuts of up to 25 per cent over four years, are yet to put numbers on staff reductions. However, if the cuts made in Strathclyde are matched elsewhere, some 2.5 per cent of police officers and almost a quarter of civilian staff will be axed (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 5, Express page 8, P&J page 7, Telegraph page 8).

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Health

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Obesity surgery: The NHS has seen a ninefold rise in five years in the number of surgical procedures performed on obese patients to try to reduce their weight. In 2008-09, the NHS carried out 4,246 weight loss operations, including stomach stapling and fitting gastric bands, compared with 480 procedures in 2003-04, according to the NHS Information Centre (Guardian page 1).