0131 524 9500 | info@reformscotland.com

REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 17 SEPTEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 17 September 2010

\r\n

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. 

\r\n

In addition to the newspaper stories outlined below, further news coverage can be found online at BBC News Scotland, STV News and Sky News.

\r\n

Politics

\r\n

Papal visit: The Pope was greeted in Edinburgh by the Queen, Alex Salmond, Nick Clegg and the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Palace of Holyrood House, as well as the 125,000 people who are estimated to have lined his processional route. An attack on secularism followed, with the Pope describing Britain as ‘a dictatorship of relativism’ and ‘aggressive atheism’. He linked the increasing secularism of Britain with Nazism, stating ‘let us never forget how the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated view of man and society’. This theme was continued later in his sermon at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, which it is estimated 70,000 Catholics attended. The Pope spoke of those “who now seek to exclude religious belief from public discourse, to privatise it or even to paint it as a threat to equality and liberty”. The comments were not greeted kindly by the British Humanist Association, who described them as “a terrible libel against those who do not believe in God”. However, the Pope also talked of less contentious matters, praising those in Glasgow for having listened to his predecessor’s call for greater Christian unity, which had led to “greater trust and friendship with the members of the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church and others”.

\r\n

Small demonstrations did occur in Edinburgh, with about 80 people outside the Usher Hall and Festival Square. More notably, the Reverend Ian Paisley and fifty of his followers gathered in Magdelan Chapel, the birthplace of the General Assembly of the Kirk, as a form of protest against the Papal visit. However, the trip was generally regarded as a great success, with Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Catholic Church, saying that “Scotland had set the bar extremely high…[and]presented an especially welcoming face to the Pope and indeed the world”. Strathclyde Police were also pleased with how the day turned out, and that such ‘a hugely complex operation’ had gone off without a hitch. Fiona Taylor, Assistant Chief Constable, stated that Glasgow was “well equipped…to host global events” looking forward favourably to the Commonwealth Games of 2014. (Scotsman, pages 1, 2 & 3, 4 & 5, 6 & 7, special 8 page supplement, Herald, pages 1, 2 & 3, special 14 page supplement)

\r\n

Aircraft carriers: The Holyrood cross-party consensus aimed at winning a £5 billion order for the two aircraft carriers for Scottish shipyards suffered another blow last night as Labour and the SNP traded accusations in a dispute. The argument began after a breakfast meeting in Edinburgh yesterday between Alex Salmond and Nick Clegg, who was in the capital for the Pope’s visit. Nick Clegg told reporters after the meeting that there had been no specific discussion about the carrier order at the Clyde shipyards and at Rosyth. The Labour Party then accused Mr Salmond of an ‘astonishing dereliction of duty’ for not pushing the subject of the carriers.  (Times page 10, Courier page 11, Scotsman page 12)

\r\n

Clashing poll dates: Nick Clegg has spoken of his wish to resolve the argument over the clash of the Westminster and Holyrood election dates in 2015. He said that ‘there is an issue when you are asking people to vote for two parliaments that create two governments – there is an issue of complexity there’. Mr Clegg spoke of altering the date of the Holyrood election, in order that it might fit in with the coalition’s plans for fixed-term, five year parliaments. However, he resisted the idea of moving the AV voting reform referendum, which clashes with 2011’s Scottish Parliament elections. (Scotsman page 12)

\r\n

BBC licence freeze: The BBC was pitched into a battle over the future of the licence fee yesterday after UK Government sources suggested that ministers might abandon the current deal with the corporation and cut the fee in 2012. Sir Michael Lyons, the Chairman of the BBC, wrote to Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, offering to freeze the licence fee for the next two years. But while Mr Hunt accepted Sir Michael’s offer to cancel the planned rise to £148.50 in April next year, he rejected the further freeze in 2012 and is understood to be considering imposing a cut. (Times page 13, Press and Journal page 13)

\r\n

Immigration cap: Immigration limits are costing the UK thousands of jobs and hurting the country’s fragile economic recovery, Vince Cable has said “a lot of damage is being done to British industry.”  He said companies were moving jobs overseas in response to punitive caps that left them unable to hire key staff. The cap on non-EU workers was a manifesto pledge for David Cameron and proved popular with voters: it was reluctantly accepted by Lib Dems in the May coalition negotiations. (FT page 1)

\r\n

Economy

\r\n

House prices: A number of limits imposed on access to mortgages for first time buyers, such as the end of self-certification and interest-only mortgages, and limits on lending, have led to potential homeowners having to produce, on average, a 25 per cent deposit compared to the 11 per cent deposit needed before the recession. (Scotsman page 24)

\r\n

Transport 

\r\n

Increase in train travel: Train operators say that passengers are increasingly choosing to travel between Scotland and England via rail rather than by plane. Air travel continues to dominate but its market share has fallen dramatically in the last two years, against the increase of rail. Rail’s market share has increased from 12 per cent in 2008 to 21 per cent in 2010. The Association of Train Operating Companies spokesman, Edward Welsh, spoke of a “fundamental shift in the way that people get around the country”. (Herald, page 9)

\r\n

Local Government

\r\n

Council job losses: Edinburgh City Council will axe up to 800 jobs in a bid to knock £45 million pounds off its budget in the next two years. However, unions believe that as many as 3,500 jobs could go in the coming years as positions are outsourced. A report states that “as staffing costs make up over 40 per cent of the Council’s overall expenditure, a reduction in this area cannot be avoided”. Half of Scotland’s councils have now announced their figures for budget-cutting, which include the loss of 13,000 jobs. Experts believe that the figure may rise to 20,000 in the future. Edinburgh Council is staging a number of “budget summits” to discuss the cuts, though the first of these sessions gained a 90 per cent dissatisfaction rating from the local residents, council workers and union members who attended it. John Stevenson, president of the City of Edinburgh Unison branch, said he was “disappointed that the Council did not follow our request and the motion by Labour and the Greens to avoid compulsory redundancies” and that cuts were “completely unnecessary”. However, he stated that at this point no industrial action had been planned. (Herald, page 4)

\r\n

Health

\r\n

Scottish lifespan: The life expectancy for people in Scotland has risen in the past decade, from 72.7 years to 75.4 for men, and from 78.2 to 80.1 years for women. However, this life expectancy is one of the lowest in Europe, with many other nationalities living between 4-5 years longer. The figures also show that life expectancy is greater in the rest of the UK, with an increase of 2.5 years for men and 1.8 years for women. Within Scotland itself, the figure varies dramatically with the highest figure being in East Dunbartonshire, with 78.3 years for men and 83.1 years for women. The lowest figures come from the City of Glasgow, with 77.5 years the average for women and 71.1 years for men. (Scotsman, page 15)

\r\n

Cancer diagnosis: Cancer Research UK has issued a report investigating how successfully the four countries of the UK have implemented their strategies for dealing with cancer diagnosis and treatment. Scotland is reported as having progressed in cancer prevention, treatments and standard nationwide care. But more needs to be done to raise awareness of early signs and symptoms, and to successfully follow up screening programmes for breast and cervical cancer. Those working in cancer, interviewed for the report, said that they feared this area could be subject to “financial constraint in light of efficiency savings”. (Scotsman, page 15)

\r\n

Education

\r\n

GLOW network: Directors of education are pressing the Scottish Government to give guarantees on the future of the Glow schools intranet. The Association of Directors of Education in Scotland has held meetings on the issue with Education Secretary Michael Russell and Learning and Teaching Scotland chief executive Bernard McLeary to express the concerns of its members, including future funding for the system. Glow developments will form a centrepiece of next week’s Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow, which is organised by LTS. The intranet is regarded as the key resource for schools to support everything from the curriculum to CPD. Leslie Manson, ADES president, decided to commission a membership survey six months ago in response to “mutters and mumbles” about how well Glow was delivering. (TESS page 1)