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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 08 OCTOBER 2010

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 8 October 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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Steven Purcell: Former Labour councillor Steven Purcell issued an apology to members in the ward he represented on Glasgow City Council on Monday, more than seven months after quitting as leader following his admission to a clinic specialising in drug addiction.  Mr Purcell, who has admitted using cocaine, is expected to play a part in Labour\’s Holyrood election campaign next year. His reappearance comes months after he ruled out a return to front-line politics, saying there was "not a chance" of a comeback. He is understood to have read out a statement thanking members of the Drumchapel and Anniesland Labour Party for their support during the 15 years he served as a city councillor. (Scotsman page 1)

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Labour Shadow Cabinet: Scottish Labour MPs are expected to feature prominently in the new shadow cabinet, currently being selected by leader Ed Miliband. Jim Murphy, Douglas Alexander and Anne McKechin were all elected to the front-bench team, despite previous claims that the elections could see a cull of Scottish MPs from Labour\’s top team. Intense speculation will now follow before Mr Miliband decides which MP gets which job, with an announcement expected over the next few days. Mr Alexander, the former International Development Secretary, has been mentioned as a possible shadow Foreign Secretary, while Mr Murphy could end up as defence shadow, taking on his fellow Scot Liam Fox. Miss McKechin is likely to be made shadow Scottish Secretary. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 2, Daily Mail page 6, Times page 5)

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Donald Trump: Donald Trump will receive his first ever honorary degree from one of Scotland\’s leading universities. The American businessman is due to receive the degree, Doctor of Business Administration, from Aberdeen\’s Robert Gordon University at a graduation ceremony at the Garthdee campus this morning. (Scotsman page 11)

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Climate manifesto: Stop Climate Chaos Scotland – the coalition of more than 40 organisations including RSPB Scotland and WWF – has published a manifesto calling for all political parties to commit to a range of measures ahead of the Holyrood election. The group has published a list of requirements – many of which are already part of the Climate Change Act – for all parties to sign up to ensure that stringent environmental measures will come into force no matter which political party takes control of Holyrood next year. SCCS\’s manifesto includes ruling out future use of carbon credits to meet emission reduction targets, cutting the national speed limit on country roads to 50mph, and investing between £60 million and £120m to restore peatlands in Scotland. (Scotsman page 20)

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Economy

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2014 Commonwealth Games: The 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow has suffered a setback, with the BBC pulling out of a broadcasting deal that could have generated multi-million-pound savings for the event. The pressures of the financial climate contributed to the BBC turning down an invitation to be "host broadcaster", a role that would have seen the corporation providing all the cameras, cabling and television infrastructure in Glasgow in return for the broadcasting rights. The BBC will still bid along with other broadcasters to provide coverage of the Games. The collapse of the deal was revealed after MSPs published a report that raised more questions about financing of the 2014 Games, suggesting ticket sales predictions were too ambitious and might need to be reviewed. (Scotsman page 4, Herald page 11, Daily Express page 9)

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Public sector pensions: Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in Scotland would have to pay more and work for longer under recommendations put forward by Lord Hutton to reform the state-funded pension scheme. The comments have sparked a row with trade unions, angry that a workforce already facing a two-year wage freeze and the likely loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs as a result of spending cuts could be dealt another financial blow. The independent commission, led by former business secretary Lord Hutton, yesterday suggested that public sector pensions should move away from final salary schemes to the career-average schemes more commonly seen in the private sector, branding the existing set-up as "fundamentally unfair". Around one in four Scottish workers, around 574,000 people, are employed by the public sector, working in a range of organisations from the NHS to local authorities, the Scottish Government and the police force. (Herald page 6, Scotsman page 8, George Kerevan comments page 33, Guardian page 11, Daily Record page 8, Sun page 6, Press and Journal page 10)

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Public spending cuts: Alex Salmond has warned Chancellor George Osborne to be cautious with public spending cuts or he will endanger economic recovery. The First Minister was speaking after the three devolved nations of the United Kingdom issued a joint statement saying the cuts that have been signalled in the spending review will come too fast and bite too deeply. They have appealed to Mr Osborne to reduce his plan to cut billions from their budgets over the next four years and recommended that savings are made over a longer term. (Herald page 6, FT page 3, Press and Journal page 6, Telegraph page 7)

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Property price fall: Homeowners who cannot hold off selling any longer have been blamed for the biggest monthly drop in house prices for almost 20 years, prompting fears of a renewed downturn in the UK property market. Experts said that people who were buoyed by the last Labour government’s promises that the worst of the credit crunch was over are struggling to attain asking prices for their properties, leading to a 3.6% fall in the average UK house price in September. The figures contained in the Halifax’s monthly house price index yesterday were the biggest drop since the bank began compiling them in 1983. In August, it had reported the number of approved mortgages for homes in August was at its lowest level in six months. It said a rise in the number of properties for sale and a drop in demand fuelled by uncertainty over the economy had wiped £6000 off average values. The fears came as the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee yesterday opted to keep interest rates at 0.5% for the 19th consecutive month. (Herald page 10, Guardian page 1, Daily Mail page 1)

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Drastic Navy Cuts: The Navy is likely to be reduced to its smallest size in 500 years in a bid to ensure that plans for two new aircraft carriers are not scrapped. Construction has already begun on the first of the ships, The Queen Elizabeth, at the Clyde Shipyard, where parts of the carrier will be built before being assembled at Rosyth. However, construction has yet to begin on the second ship, The Prince of Wales, due the uncertainty in defence spending. The fate of the carriers has become central to the Government’s Strategic Defence Review and the Navy has argued that the carriers must be built in order for Britain to remain a high-ranking military power. (Telegraph page 1, Times page 9)    

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Justice

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Tommy Sheridan: Tommy Sheridan was secretly filmed describing a confession he made to political colleagues as the "biggest mistake of his life", it was alleged yesterday. Colin Fox, the man who replaced Mr Sheridan as leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, told a jury he had been asked by Mr Sheridan to lie about his admitting that he had visited a sex club.  The witness said he was clear what had been said because the confession was the party\’s "9/11". Footage from a video was played to the High Court in Glasgow and Mr Fox said he recognised Mr Sheridan\’s voice. The trial continues. (Scotsman page 7, Herald page 1, 4-5, Daily Express page 5, Daily Record page 11, Sun page 4-4, Daily Mail page 5, Press and Journal page 11)

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Merger of Scottish police forces: Some of Scotland’s eight police forces are to be merged in a bid to ‘limit the effect of looming spending cuts’. The idea has been proposed by the First Minister, who did not mention the specifics of his plan, but indicated that he was not in favour of a single Scottish-wide police force. Research by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) has shown that 25% of the policing budget is spent on administrative costs, and have stated that it is appropriate to “look at whether that figure can be cut so that the front line of police can continue to be protected”. It is not known how many police forces will be created, with suggestions that three may be an appropriate number. The Scottish Lib. Dem leader Tavish Scott spoke against the idea of a single Scottish force, stating that “a single chief constable for Scotland will know that he or she owes their contract and their future entirely to the justice minister. It will be a highly political post and a highly political appointment”. (Telegraph page 2)

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Health

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Obesity: Younger people who are severely obese should be targeted with surgery to tackle their health problems, according to a Scottish surgeon Duff Bruce. Dr Bruce said more needed to be done to increase access to bariatric surgery – such as gastric banding – in Scotland, where only about 150 operations are currently carried out each year. Speaking at a conference in Edinburgh, he said that without the resources to help everyone in need of such surgery, funding could be targeted at those most likely to benefit, including younger obese patients with Type 2 diabetes. The Scottish Government yesterday said surgery was a last resort and their focus was on preventing people becoming obese in the first place. (Scotsman page 16)

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Nursing staff: First Minister Alex Salmond claimed yesterday that north-east nurses had not been asked to work for free and was accused of insulting medical staff who already have been consulted about doing extra shifts for no extra money. Mr Salmond made the remark at Holyrood yesterday when he was challenged on the issue by Labour leader Iain Gray. It was reported earlier in the week that surgical nurses at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary are being asked to work an extra shift a month to help the health board save money. The health board said the move could save £385,000 and avoid the need to cut staff numbers. Mr Gray said during first minister’s questions that the rates revaluation under the SNP government was going to cost the NHS £5million, with the Grampian health board having to pay more than £750,000. (Press and Journal page 6)

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Education

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Behavioural difficulties: One fifth of children entering primary have "a particularly concerning pattern" of social, emotional and behavioural difficulties which could affect their longer-term success at school, according to findings from a major Scottish study.

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The researchers have called for action to be taken to smooth the transition from nursery to primary school. Two thirds of children demonstrating emotional problems in primary showed no evidence of difficulty at pre-school. Paul Bradshaw, research director at the Scottish Centre for Social Research and co-author of the report presented the findings to the annual conference of educational psychologists in Scotland last week. The Growing Up in Scotland survey, carried out by the Scottish Centre for Social Research, is tracking the lives of 8,000 Scottish children from the early years. (TESS page 3)

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Scotland’s colleges: Five years from now, Scotland will have fewer colleges and be sharing functions from finance to learning resources. The recession will have "made it happen for us", thus proving that "every cloud has a silver lining", Ray Harris, the chief executive of Scotland\’s Colleges, told a vocational education conference in Glasgow last week. The further education sector will be facing bigger pressures to take school leavers, adult returners, those leaving care, and the most vulnerable groups. "We will have to deliver more for less funding," he said. The merger of the three Glasgow city centre colleges was a indication of things to come as the sector faced a 25 per cent reduction in its expenditure, Dr Harris continued. (TESS page 6)