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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 2 SEPTEMBER 2010

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Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 2 September 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: Tony Blair’s recently released autobiography, A Journey, has created a row within the Labour Party. Published on the day Labour members received their leadership ballot papers, Mr Blair’s criticism of Gordon Brown’s leadership was greeted with dismay by senior figures in the party. Mr Brown has stated that he will not respond to Tony Blair’s attack until after the Labour leadership contest is over so as not to deflect more attention away from the battle to succeed him as party leader.

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Nevertheless, Mr Blair’s comments have threatened to intensify the rift between the two current front-runners for the Labour leadership, the brothers David and Ed Miliband, who are widely seen to represent the Blairite and Brownite wings of the party.  However, David Miliband has distanced himself from Tony Blair’s statements which come very close to endorsing the economic strategy of the Conservative-led Coalition Government (Scotsman page 6, George Kerevan in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Iain MacWhirter in the Herald, Times page 1, Matthew Parris in the Times, Guardian page 1, Julian Glover in the Guardian, Telegraph page 1, John McTernan in the Telegraph, Express page 8, Mirror page 8, Record page 6, Mail page 1, Courier page 1).

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Economy

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Standard Life jobs: Almost 500 jobs are to be cut at the Edinburgh offices of insurance and pensions giant Standard Life. The news comes as it was confirmed that Edinburgh has slipped down the ranking of the top global financial cities after its reputation was "tarnished" by the banking crisis (Scotsman page 1, Bill Jamieson in the Scotsman, Herald page 1, Times page 11, Guardian page 28, Telegraph page 9, Express page 2, Mail page 22, Courier page 10).

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Energy: Scottish Power, Scottish and Southern Energy, npower and EDF Energy are to be investigated by energy watchdog Ofgem after receiving reports that the four suppliers could be breaching their obligations governing door-to-door and telephone sales. The regulator stated that it said it was prepared to take strong action against any companies found to be misleading customers into signing contracts with suppliers and has set up a consumer hotline (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 5).

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BBC strike: Thousands of BBC journalists, technicians and other staff could walk out this month after staff across the UK voted in favour of industrial action in a row over pensions. The strike could disrupt coverage of the Papal visit to the UK, next month’s Ryder Cup and other sporting events (Herald page 2).

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Transport 

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EU taxes: British drivers face being hammered by taxes from Europe to pay for climate change policies. The plans include controversial road pricing and higher levies on fuel.

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The report by energy and ­climate change consultants AEA was carried out for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Climate Action and states that the changes aim to cut emission by about 90 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. British drivers already pay some of the highest fuel taxes in Europe, with 65 pence in the pound paid at the pumps going to the Treasury, and £45 billion a year in motoring taxes. Only about £8 billion is spent on roads (Express page 1).

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Local Government

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Residential care: According to a report by Audit Scotland, children in residential care, many of whom risk leading lives of unemployment, homelessness and prison, are being failed by the Scottish Government. Despite at least £250 million a year being spent on care homes, many children leave with poor educational skills and suffer mental health problems and other difficulties as adults. Audit Scotland criticised councils for failing to make use of costing models, having no estimates for the costs of alternatives, and not getting value for money (Scotsman page 12, Herald page 10).

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Justice

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Health and safety cases: Nearly 30 Scottish firms have been prosecuted for serious breaches of health and safety laws in the first year of a new dedicated unit within the prosecution service. The Health and Safety Division of the Crown Office Prosecution Service was established last July to allow specialist prosecutors to lead the investigation and prosecution of health and safety cases across Scotland. Frank Mulholland QC, the Solicitor General, announced that 27 cases had been brought to court in the first year, with every prosecution resulting in pleas of guilty. The total amount of fines imposed was £654,000. Mr Mulholland said the speedy resolution of the often complicated cases meant victims and witnesses were spared the need to give evidence in court (Scotsman page 17).

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Health

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CliniHub: British scientists have developed a Star Trek-style medical "tricorder" that they claim can diagnose diseases such as breast cancer in minutes. The hand-held device analyses a patient\’s blood, urine or saliva sample to indicate the presence of disease, much like the one used by Dr Leonard "Bones" McCoy in the sci-fi series. Named the CliniHub, the gadget features a number of "ports" into which samples are placed. The samples react to chemicals inside the ports, which then change colour to denote diseases in the same way that a pregnancy test turns blue (Scotsman page 22).

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Smoker exclusion: A third of smokers are forced to lie about their habit to find a home to rent. Only 7 per cent of landlords will allow tenants to smoke in their properties, while 38 per cent would evict someone who smoked indoors, according to flatshare website Easyroommate. Smokers are also unpopular with fellow tenants, with only 19 per cent of people saying they would be prepared to share a home with a smoker, while 37 per cent said they would only do so if their housemate agreed to just smoke outdoors (Scotsman page 24).

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