Daily Political Newspaper Summary: 21 September 2011
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.
Spending review: Council chiefs have accused SNP ministers of “pulling a fast one” in today’s historic Spending Review, claiming they are being forced to go into the red to help the Scottish Government stay afloat. Finance Secretary John Swinney will today unveil his long-awaited spending plans for the next three years, in which he is expected to confirm that budgets across the public sector will be frozen, as austerity measures hit home. The Scottish Government will also show how it intends to fund costly spending commitments including a five-year council tax freeze and a pledge to keep pace with English university funding without the help of tuition fees. Mr Swinney is expected to say that infrastructure projects across Scotland will be prioritised by ministers in the belief that they can maintain employment and avoid a double-dip recession in Scotland. However council leaders have said that Mr Swinney had asked them to take the strain by borrowing cash for the next two years to pay for their own capital projects. Approximately £220 million would have normally went to councils from Edinburgh, but it is understood that ministers want the funds to pay for their own commitments. (The Scotsman page 1, Herald page 1, Courier page 11, P&J page 11, Times page 3, Daily Record page 2)
Eddie Barnes in the Scotsman (page 2) provides analysis on the SNP plans for the spending review. John McTernan in the Scotsman (page 27) provides comment on what he would like to see in the new budget that is to be presented today.
Independence: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has accused First Minister Alex Salmond of lacking the “courage of his convictions” in failing to bring forward a straight Yes/No vote on Scotland’s place in the UK. Mr Clegg said that the Nationalists were playing a “cat and mouse game” with the Scottish people, which could cause “serious damage” to the economy north of the border. (The Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, P&J page 10, Daily Express page 4)
Ian Bell in the Herald (page 13) provides comment on the Liberal Democrats bringing up the issue of Independence.
Lewis MacDonald: Former health minister Lewis MacDonald has launched his bid to be elected as deputy leader of Scottish Labour with a pledge to “re-energise” the party in the wake of its electoral loss this year. Mr MacDonald was the first candidate to declare for the post currently held by Johann Lamont, who has already announced that she will stand in the contest to replace Iain Gray as leader. (The Scotsman page 11, P&J page 9)
UK Economy: The International Monetary Fund has cut the UK’s growth forecast and warned the world economy is entering a “dangerous new phase” prompting fears of a fresh global recession. The latest IMF World Economic Outlook predicts the UK’s gross domestic product will grow by 1.1% in 2011m compared to the 1.7% predicted in April. The growth figures for 2012 were also cut. (The Scotsman page 1, FT page 5, Herald page 1, Courier page 15. Daily Telegraph page 1, Times page 1, Daily Mail page 2, Daily Express page 2, Sun page 4)
Mike Danson in the Scotsman (page 5) provides analysis on what needs to be done to another recession.
Edinburgh Trams: The over-budget tram project in Edinburgh is expected to cost nearly four times as much per mile of track than similar light rail projects elsewhere in the UK, a Government report has revealed. Figures published by the Department for Transport put the average cost of building tramways in urban conurbations at £25 million per mile, though this does not include Edinburgh, where costs have increased by £231 million and the route has been curtailed due to a funding shortfall. (Herald page 10)
Teacher workload: Teaching leaders have criticised a wide-ranging report into working conditions, accusing its author of “ducking and disregarding” issues surrounding their workload. The review of teachers’ pay and conditions which was led by Professor Gary McCormac, principle of Stirling University was published last week after an eight-month investigation. It recommended a series of changes to make working arrangements in Scotland’s schools more flexible without changing the 35 hour per week worked by teachers. However, yesterday teaching unions appearing before the Scottish Parliament’s education committee criticised the review, with one group accusing it of “rehashing” ideas already in use. (The Scotsman page 2, Herald page 6, Courier page 10)
Language cuts: Oscar winning playwright Sir Tom Stoppard yesterday helped deliver a petition against cuts to modern languages at Scotland’s universities to the Scottish Parliament. He is among more than 3,000 people who have signed the petition calling for better funding for lesser taught languages and cultures such as Russian, Czech and Polish at Scottish Universities. It comes as Glasgow University is set to axe its Slavonic studies department next year. (The Scotsman page 15, Herald page 5, Times page 17)
Graham Leicester in the Scotsman (page 30&31) provides comment and analysis on Scottish education and says that critics must accept that the Curriculum for Excellence as it provides the best hope for future generations.
Sectarianism: Bigoted Scottish football fans who incite violence by sectarian singing or chanting should be named and shamed so that their families, friends and employers know what they have done, community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham has said. The minister also promised a wider focus on sectarianism in new laws being debated in the Scottish Parliament, which Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland said could transform attitudes in the same way that racism and drink driving has been tackled in the past. (The Scotsman
page 1, Daily Telegraph page 2, Times page 17, Daily Express page 10, Sun page 6&7, Daily Record page 6)
Cybercrime: Professor Bill Buchanan, a cyberspace expert, has warned MSPs that outwith the Scottish Crime and Drugs Enforcement Agency there seemed to be no extensive understanding of the internet and its operations within law enforcement agencies. Giving evidence to the Justice Committee on the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Bill, Mr Buchanan cast doubt on whether there was “enough knowledge in the Scottish police to understand the internet and how it is used by people. (The Herald page 11)
Brain tumour tissue bank: The UK’s first brain tumour tissue bank accessible to researchers and scientists across the country has been established by Glasgow University. The unit, which is based in the city’s Southern General Hospital, will act as a repository of clinical information for all scientific, academic and commercial researchers. It is hoped that created a one-stop central bank, the number of treatment options will be increased for patients in the future. (The Scotsman page 20, Herald page 10)