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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 28 SEPTEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 28 September 2010

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.

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

Politics

Ed Miliband: Ed Miliband will reportedly use his first speech as Labour leader today to criticise Gordon Brown\’s claim that Labour "ended boom and bust", as he seeks to distance himself from the style of his predecessor and mentor. He will argue that, in power, Labour lost its way by failing to stand up to the City, burdening students with a lifetime of debt and claiming to have found a miracle cure for the economy when it had done no such thing. (Scotsman Page 1 & 4, Analysis page 31 & 33, Herald page 6, opinion page 15, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 13, Times page 1, 6-9, Daily Record page 4, Daily Mirror page 6, Sun page 8, FT page 1, Daily Mail page 6, Guardian page 1, Telegraph page 13) 

Afghanistan: A massive rescue operation was under way yesterday as Nato security forces streamed into the area where a Scottish aid worker and three Afghans were kidnapped. The woman from northern Scotland was travelling in one of two unarmoured Toyota Corollas, from Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan, to Asadabad, when the convoy was ambushed and all four people taken hostage. The 36-year-old Scot had been working for Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) in Afghanistan. (Scotsman Page 2, Herald page 2) 

SNP Regional list: A number of sitting SNP MSPs could face a battle to hold on to their seats after the party’s regional list for next year’s Holyrood election was published. But Annabelle Ewing, sister of Justice Minister Fergus Ewing and daughter of SNP stalwart Winnie Ewing, could be elected to the Scottish Parliament in May’s vote. The former Perth MP is fourth on the party list for Mid Scotland and Fife. Next year’s election could also see journalists George Kerevan and Joan McAlpine become MSPs under the SNP banner. (Scotsman page 13, Herald page 9, Telegraph page 6, Press and Journal page 8, Times page 14) 

SNP Membership: The SNP has said it is the biggest membership party in Scotland, amid claims Labour is "overstating" its support north of the Border. A breakdown of constituency members in the Labour Party\’s leadership ballot showed 13,135 were eligible to vote. However, the SNP said Labour had claimed to have 20,133 members in Scotland at a party hustings event this summer. The SNP said its own party membership in June stood at 15,945, making it Scotland\’s biggest party. (Scotsman page 13, Press and Journal page 8, Times page 14) 

Scottish Labour: In a briefing to journalists after his conference speech in Manchester yesterday, Iain Gray made it clear that he is now confident of victory and is expecting Labour to form a new administration on its own. Asked about how he thought the election next year would go, Mr Gray said: "I think if we get it right we could win a majority or close to a majority." Labour holds 46 of the 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament having fallen behind the SNP\’s 47 in 2007. (Scotsman page 7) 

Labour at Holyrood: Shadow Scottish secretary Jim Murphy said his party was going into next year’s Holyrood elections with confidence as he launched a stinging attack on the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition yesterday. Mr Murphy said May’s Scottish and Welsh parliamentary elections were the “next big tests” for the party. (Press and Journal page 5, Daily Express page 4, Telegraph page 5)

Scone Palace: A 16th century archway in the grounds of a palace was demolished after it was hit by a van in an accident. The "priceless monument" was all that remained of the approach to the Augustinian Abbey which once stood on the lawns of Scone Palace, near Perth in Perthshire. It was hit by a van being driven by contractors who were on site to pick up a marquee used at an event over the weekend, officials at Scone Palace said. Conservation architects are due to visit the site to assess the situation. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 3, Telegraph page 5)

Delhi Commonwealth Games: Scotland’s athletes have vowed to put a week of turmoil and uncertainty behind them as they took part in their first training sessions in Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Despite some the competitors suffering the effects of jetlag, Team Scotland stressed it was time for the "serious business" to begin. With just five days to go before the Games begin, thousands of workers are continuing to carry out frantic repair and maintenance work behind the scenes to bring the beleaguered athletes\’ village up to standard. (Scotsman page 10 & 11) 

Greenpeace activists: Environmental activists trying to stop an oil-drilling ship from moving have vowed to swim in front of it for as long as they can. Greenpeace said its swimmers had surrounded the Stena Carron 100 miles north of Shetland to stop it leaving for a drilling site in deep water in the North Sea. Wearing drysuits, they took to the water after legal threats put an end to earlier action. The group are using swimmers and kayakers, who are taking it in turns to continuously surround the ship (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 8, Press and Journal page 11)

Budget Cuts: Kenny MacAskill has warned that UK Government cuts threaten to leave the security industry vulnerable to "rogue and criminal elements". Speaking after a meeting with his counterparts in Northern Ireland and the Republic, David Ford and Dermot Ahern, the Justice Secretary has warned against scrapping the Security Industry Authority. The UK Government is currently considering where to make cuts in order to reduce the deficit, and the body that regulates security firms is believed to be among those under consideration for merger or the axe. (Scotsman page 12)

Charities Losing Status: Some of Scotland’s oldest charities are losing their status because they cannot afford to submit their annual reports to comply with the law. Nearly one in 10 (8%) of the country’s 23,261 organisations, ranging from universities to youth groups, have failed to submit accounts to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) – set up in 2006. Many organisations are unable to afford the estimated £400 cost of hiring an accountant to file the returns – a procedure that is required in order to meet the body’s legal obligation that charities should file their annual accounts within nine months of the end of the financial year. More than 8,000 older charities were wiped from the register in OSCR’s first two years but the rate of attrition was expected to have slowed by now. (Herald page 5, opinion page 14)

Economy

IMF: The International Monetary Fund backed the UK Government’s austerity plans yesterday and declared the economy to be on the mend. The Washington-based IMF praised George Osborne’s debt-cutting programme as ‘strong and credible’ and said that it did not expect it to derail the UK’s recovery. (Herald page1, comment page 21, Times page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Guardian page 1, Daily Express page 2)

Renewable Energy: First Minister Alex Salmond has said he is "confident" 100% of Scotland\’s electricity needs will come from renewable power by 2025. Mr Salmond was speaking ahead of an international conference, which will debate low carbon developments and renewable energy projects. Last week, the target to generate electricity from renewable sources was lifted to a new high for Scotland. The Scottish Government now wants 80% of electricity consumption to come from renewables, such as wind and wave power, by 2020 – up from the previous 50% target. Around 500 delegates are expected to attend the Scottish Low Carbon Investment conference, which takes place at Edinburgh International Conference Centre. (Herald page 7)

RBS Redundancies: A further 500 jobs are to be axed by the Royal Bank of Scotland in a fresh blow to the finance industry. Most of the losses are expected to be back-office roles within the RBS investment banking arm, including Edinburgh staff. The proposed cuts come after the part-nationalised bank announced 3,500 positions would go earlier this month. This followed the division\’s 9,000 job cuts announced last year. (Scotsman page 9, Herald page 1) 

Real Ale: Real Ale is drawing in a whole new generation of younger enthusiasts who want an alternative to mass-produced drinks, a report has revealed. The number of 17 to 24-year-olds drinking real ale increased by 17 per cent this year, according to The Cask Report, published yesterday. While beer sales are declining and pubs closing, real ale is bucking the trend, particularly in Scotland where s ales of cask ale were up 31 per cent in the last 12 months. (Scotsman page 16) 

Brussels: Richard Lochhead, the SNP’S Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary, became the first Nationalist minister to lead a UK delegation in Brussels when he joined EU fishing leaders yesterday in condemning the unacceptable mackerel quotas set by Iceland and the Faroes. Mr Lochhead won the right to speak for Britain after a last minute U-turn by David Cameron. First Minister Alex Salmond reportedly had to remind the Prime Minister of his pledge to respect the role of the Scottish Government. (Scotsman page 20, Herald page 8, Times page 18) 

Local Government

Dundee Waterfront: Six of the best architects in the world have unveiled their visions to create a new landmark building and international attraction for Dundee. The designers from America, Norway, Japan, Austria and Scotland have been short-listed for the prestigious contract to create the iconic V&A at Dundee, an outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum, which will dominate the city waterfront. The six designs and scale models of the proposed building, planned for a promontory on the River Tay, will be go on show to the public tomorrow at an exhibition which runs until 4 November. (Scotsman page 14 & 15, Herald page 11) 

Edinburgh, Princes Street: A long awaited overhaul of Princes Street is set to be a let-down because of the number of "cheap" new retail developments and cut-price hotel operators being lured, a heritage watchdog has claimed. The "String of Pearls" vision to breathe life back into Edinburgh\’s landmark street is in danger of ruining it for decades, the Architectural Heritage Society for Scotland (AHSS) warns. It has expressed fears about the long-term impact of new developments by EasyHotel and Premier Inn, as well as New Look and Primark stores, branding them cheap, dull and lacking in ambition. (Scotsman page 23, analysis page 32) 

Health

Smoking: A chemical found in cigarette smoke increases women\’s risk of suffering a pregnancy which develops outside the womb, Scottish researchers have found. About one in 50 pregnancies is ectopic, meaning the baby starts to grow before entering the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes. Now scientists at Edinburgh University have discovered why women who smoke have a higher risk of developing such pregnancies. The Edinburgh team found that female smokers who have had an ectopic pregnancy have raised levels of the protein PROKR1 in their fallopian tubes, increasing the risk of an egg implanting outside the womb. (Scotsman page 22, Herald page 4)

Assisted Suicide Bill: One of Scotland\’s top law officers is to face questions from MSPs on proposals to legalise assisted suicide. Solicitor General Frank Mulholland\’s appearance comes after the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ruled out issuing new guidelines last year, after prosecutors had done so in England and Wales. Independent MSP Margo MacDonald, who has Parkinson\’s disease, wants to make Scotland the first part of Britain to change the law which leaves Scots open to prosecution for culpable homicide. A special Holyrood committee has been set up to take evidence on the Bill. (Herald page 11)

Minimum Pricing: Large supermarket chains would benefit from a £700 million windfall if minimum pricing for alcohol was introduced across the UK, new research indicates. Tesco, the UK’s biggest supermarket, stands to reap the most substantial rewards, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The think-tank researched the likely impact of a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol – the controversial measure that could still be introduced in Scotland despite being rejected by opposition parties. IFS said such a policy would benefit retailers rather than the public purse, echoing an argument critics of minimum pricing have used against the measure. (Herald page 4)

Education

Glasgow Caledonian University: A pioneering initiative by a Scottish university to open a £1 million satellite branch in London is struggling to attract interest from students. In February, The Herald revealed that Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) had opened a new centre in the capital to teach postgraduate courses in business and finance. The move – the first of its kind by a Scottish university – was intended to take advantage of London’s lucrative market in overseas students with the university targeting 100 places in the first year. However, so far only 18 students have signed up for courses at GCU London, even though the university is already offering a discount of £3000 off the £12,000 fees. (Herald page 3) 

Robert Gordon University:  A former university principal has decided to hand back his honorary degree in protest at the decision to award one to Donald Trump. Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen will present the American tycoon with the honour next week in recognition of his entrepreneurship. The university also wants to acknowledge what the Trump Organisation is planning in the North-east, with its £750 million golf and housing development. But Dr David Kennedy, who was RGU principal from 1987 to 1997, said the decision to honour Mr Trump was "an insult to decent people everywhere". He plans to return the honorary degree he was awarded in 1999. (Scotsman page 17, Herald page 3)