REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 7 DECEMBER 2010

Reform Scotland

\r\n

Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 7 December 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

Scotland Bill: The SNP Government has been challenged by opposition leaders to stop playing politics over the Scotland Bill after backing a move to smooth its passage through Parliament. Labour leader Iain Gray, supported by the Tories and Lib Dems, last night submitted a Legislative Consent Memorandum to the Scottish Parliament to ease its progress through the committee stage. Mr Gray said the Bill, which will give Scotland additional tax-raising and other powers, was supported by the majority of the Parliament. (Herald page 6) 

\r\n

Lib Dems: Tensions within Liberal Democrat ranks increased last night as a minister and two parliamentary aides suggested they might vote against the Coalition’s proposed tuition fees rise for English universities and resign from their government roles. As Thursday’s vote nears with the largest student protest to date planned for Westminster, pressure is mounting on party leader Nick Clegg. The possibility of trebling fees to as much as £9000 a year is causing turmoil within Liberal Democrat ranks as before the General Election all 57 of the party’s MPs signed a pledge to oppose a fees rise. Last week, there was intense discussion about a mass abstention to preserve party unity – the Coalition Agreement grants Lib Dem MPs, unhappy at the proposed fees rise, a concession: abstention. Yet Number 10 has been stressing the principle of collective responsibility. (Herald page 6, Times page 13, Press and Journal page 5, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mirror page 9,  Scotsman page 10) 

\r\n

National Christmas card: A couple dancing at a Christmas party, a festive scene painted by Jack Vettriano, was yesterday unveiled as the official Christmas card of First Minister Alex Salmond. Mr Vettriano, one of the country’s most popular and successful painters, had been chosen by the First Minister to paint his Christmas card. It is the first official Scottish validation of the Fife artist, whose work has yet to be bought by a public gallery outside the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. Mr Salmond said he was a “huge fan” of the sometimes controversial artist, and Mr Vettriano, who has been awarded an OBE for his services to art, said he was “immensely proud and flattered” to be asked to provide the image, which was unveiled at the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh last night. The sale of Let’s Twist Again will benefit four Scottish charities, which will also each receive six signed limited edition prints. (Herald page 2, Courier page 3, Daily Mail page 13, Daily Express page 15, Scotsman page 6) 

\r\n

BBC slip-up: Two of the BBC\’s leading presenters have apologised after making the same embarrassing verbal slip over the name of Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Jim Naughtie, an anchorman on Radio 4\’s flagship Today programme, mispronounced Mr Hunt\’s surname, replacing the first letter with a C. The gaffe was repeated on the same station by Andrew Marr. Both Scots later expressed regret over the mishap, which prompted a flurry of complaints to the BBC and comments on social networking sites. (Scotsman page 11) 

\r\n

Wildlife: Protection for wildlife and the extension of scientifically important woodland are among the projects set to benefit from a multi-million-pound fund for Scottish rural priorities. The £31.5 million boost announced yesterday is targeted at environment and forestry projects and will support government priorities to improve water quality, mitigate climate change and protect biodiversity. It is co-funded by the European Union (EU) and the Scottish Government. Projects to benefit include a croft on Lewis which will receive £37,021 to enhance birdlife habitats and £801,736 to extend native woodland in Dumfriesshire. (Scotsman page 20)

\r\n

Justice

\r\n

Drink/drug driving: First-time drink-drivers could have their vehicles seized and crushed by the courts, under tough new measures being examined by Scotland’s police chiefs. Senior officers are looking at extending the system that currently applies to repeat offenders to those with very high alcohol readings – and any disqualified driver caught behind the wheel. The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (Acpos) believes the one-year-old forfeiture initiative has been a “resounding success” – with 357 repeat drink and drug-driving offenders caught and 72 vehicles seized, then sold or crushed. A further 33 seized vehicles are awaiting a decision. Politicians and road safety chiefs last night welcomed the proposed initiative as one “worth considering”. (Press and Journal page 1)
\r\nMurder rates:
Scotland has the fifth highest homicide rate of 29 nations on the continent, according to figures. Lithuania, Estonia and Finland, which have US-style liberal gun laws, led the European Union’s murder league table with Bulgaria and Scotland making up the top five. Scotland had 2.14 homicides for every 100,000 people in 2006-2008, just below the figure for Bulgaria and just above those of Romania, the Czech Republic and Ireland. Lithuania, officially Europe’s murder capital, lost an average of 8.76 lives to homicide per 100,000. (Herald page 10) 

\r\n

Transport

\r\n

Snow: Motorways and major roads were brought to a gridlocked standstill yesterday following a snow blizzard during the morning rush hour. As temperatures fell, many were preparing to spend a freezing night in their vehicles. The M80/A80 and M8/A8 were among the main roads worst affected, after congestion prevented gritters from making routes safe early on. Many drivers and passengers, including families, were stuck for up to 12 hours, with some likely to be trapped for longer without food and water as they waited for help. Strathclyde Police set up a special events room, with representatives from the fire-and-rescue and ambulance services working with local authorities. The army was drafted in to help paramedics reach patients. (Herald page 1, Telegraph page 1, Times page 12, Courier page 1, Press and Journal page 1, Daily Record page 1, Daily Mail page 1, Daily Express page 2, Sun page 1, Scotsman page 1) 

\r\n

Health

\r\n

Cancer death rate: An aspirin a day could save thousands of Scots from developing cancer every year, scientists have found. Scientists from Edinburgh and Dundee found that a daily aspirin slashed death rates from cancer by up to 60 per cent. The discovery, following a 20-year study of more than 25,000 patients, offers hope to millions of Scots. Scotland is the worst affected country in the UK and among the worst in Europe for cancer survival rates, with women particularly badly hit. When aspirin was taken every day for five years, the death rate from all cancers fell by 34%. (Scotsman page 3, Herald page 7, Telegraph page 2, Times page 1, Daily Express page 1, Sun page 19)