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REFORM SCOTLAND NEWS: 15 FEBRUARY 2011

Reform Scotland

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Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 15 February 2011

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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 highlighted 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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Defence cuts: A quarter of the RAF\\\’s trainee pilots are to be sacked today in the latest stage of the government\\\’s defence cuts, it has emerged. Up to 100 student pilots will be told the news that they have no future in the service. They are said to include some who are just a few flying hours away from earning their wings as fully qualified pilots. Reports said up to 20 fast jet pilots, 30 helicopter pilots and 50 transport aircraft pilots are to go. Air Vice Marshal Mark Green, the head of RAF training, is said to be preparing to visit the three training schools to inform them of their fate. The cuts will mean that the Ministry of Defence will effectively have to write off the £300 million spent on their training, which can cost up to £4m a person.  

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Scotland’s RAF bases could be spared the axe, it emerged last night, after the Prime Minister reportedly gave Alex Salmond a personal assurance that RAF Lossiemouth and RAF Leuchars do not face a head-to-head battle for survival. The First Minister emerged from an hour-long meeting at No 10 Downing Street to say he had told David Cameron of his resentment that it seemed the ongoing review had come down to a straight choice for closure between the two Scottish bases.(Scotsman page 9, Herald page 6, Telegraph page 5, Times page 10, Press and Journal page 1, Courier page 1, Daily Record page 2) 

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Big Society: Alex Salmond last night reportedly urged David Cameron to be realistic about his expectations for the Big Society as the Prime Minister re-launched the policy. After a wide-ranging meeting between the two men in Downing Street, the First Minister emerged to say he could not think of a more inauspicious way to launch the policy, given the background of “extraordinary difficulties” on public spending, particularly for the voluntary sector. Mr Salmond, who noted there was a “substantial suspicion” that the Big Society policy was simply a cover for cuts, reportedly claimed the Scottish Government had a much closer relationship with the voluntary sector than was often the case in England. (Herald page 6, Telegraph page 10, Times page 1, Press and Journal page 5, FT page 1, Daily Record page 2, Daily Mail page 10, Daily Express page 2) 

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Justice

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Part-privatised police service: Two Scottish police forces are considering privatising cells in an effort to save money in the face of budget cuts. In what could be the first move towards a part-privatised police service in Scotland, they will hold talks with international security firm G4S tomorrow over the creation and management of new custody suites. G4S estimates it could save a medium to large force with 200 cells £77 million over four years. It has refused to name the Scottish forces it will be talking to. (Scotsman page 1) 

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Child beatings: Detectives last night confirmed they are investigating claims boys have been beaten in madrassas (Islamic schools) in Glasgow. Their probe is understood to be focusing on madrassas at Glasgow Central Mosque, Scotland’s biggest place of worship of any faith, the influential Masjid Noor in Pollokshields and the smaller Zia ul-Quran nearby. The investigations came after prominent Scottish Muslims raised concerns about teaching methods and child safety regimes at the mosques and their associated madrassas. Scottish-born parents have reportedly complained that some teachers in the madrassas recruited from Pakistan were using corporal punishment against their children. Ali Khan, the chairman of Roshni – a charity that focuses on child abuse in ethnic minority communities – last night stressed that there was no excuse for hitting children at madrassas. (Herald page 1) 

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Local Government

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Inverclyde Council leader:  Stephen McCabe, who heads the Labour-led administration at Inverclyde Council, has made the surprise decision to quit his post, citing family and his career outside politics. He is leaving his post at a time of considerable upheaval, with four senior officials suspended last month following the failure of a scheme designed to save the authority several million pounds. However, he denies his departure is related to the suspensions and collapse of the council’s so-called Future Operating Model (FOM), which secured only £250,000 in savings from a target of £1.9 million. (Herald page 7) 

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Health

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Obesity: A new report has found that even without other well known risk factors obese people are still almost twice as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack. While it was known that obese people are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol, all contributory factors to heart conditions, a research team from Glasgow University have discovered that a person\\\’s weight and levels of fat can directly increase the risk of a fatal heart attack by as much as 75 per cent. That\\\’s even if the person is otherwise healthy. The survey of 6,000 middle-aged men, whose health was tracked for 15 years, revealed an as yet unexplained link between high levels of fat as found in those who were obese and fatal heart attacks. (Scotsman page 6, Herald page 5, Daily Express page 8)

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Education

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Science: A leading scientific institution has hailed the way science is taught in Scotland, where almost twice as many 16 to 19-year-olds studied it as in other parts of the UK.

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The Royal Society suggested that all UK education systems be reformed to emulate successes in the education system north of the Border. Almost half (49.7 per cent) of students aged between 16 and 19 took Higher science in 2009, according to the society\\\’s State of the Nation report, which drew on government figures. More students taking one or more science subjects also did so in combination with mathematics in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK, the report said. The Royal Society said that as Scottish students tend to take five subjects at Higher they have more choice and flexibility than at A-level where the tendency is to pursue three subjects. (Scotsman page 14)