Scottish news bulletin: 24th April 2009

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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.

Economy

Budget 2009: The Institute for Fiscal Studies in its analysis of this week’s Budget warned of ‘two parliaments of pain’ as taxes rose and public services were slashed up to 2018. (Scotsman page 12, Telegraph page 1, Guardian page 1, page 14 FT page 2)

Tax rise: Alistair Darling’s decision to introduce a 50 per cent tax rate for high earners is backed by a majority of voters, according to the first post-Budget opinion poll. The findings came alongside a sustained push led by Gordon Brown to counter suggestions that the higher levy represented the death of New Labour, which has always stood out against raising income tax rates. (Times page 6, Telegraph page 5, Guardian page 12, FT page 1, P&J page 12)

Lloyds Banking Group: Fresh fears about the future of thousands of financial jobs in Scotland have been raised after Lloyds Banking Group announced that it will axe almost 1000 posts. (Scotsman page 8, Press and Journal page 13)

Transport

Tram works: The cost of Edinburgh’s tram scheme has risen above the planned £512 million, as the city council confirmed it planned to shelve the second part of the network because of the recession. (Scotsman
page 14, Herald page 1)

High Speed Rail Link: Scotland’s transport minister Stewart Stevenson, yesterday pressed the case for a high-speed rail connection between Scotland and England at a meeting with his UK counterpart Lord Adonis. ‘There is no doubt that a high-speed rail link connecting Scotland, London and Europe would bring significant economic and environmental benefits’, Mr Stevenson said. (Herald page 7)

Forth Bridge Road Work: Work was being carried out yesterday on the Forth Road Bridge to start the lengthy process of replacing almost 2000 heavy-duty nuts. The work to replace all the nuts is expected to be carried out over the next few years. (Press and Journal page 1)

Education

Scottish education: Further coverage of Reform Scotland’s bulletin on educational attainment and economist John McLaren’s report on devolution and schools in the Times Educational Supplement Scotland. (TESS page 1)

Politics

Scottish Poll: Public support for the SNP is soaring on the eve of the second anniversary of the party’s rise to power in Scotland. In the wake of the Chancellor’s Budget, a new poll by YouGov shows that the SNP has strengthened its position at both Scottish and UK levels. (Herald page 1, page 6)

UK Poll: The Conservative leader David Cameron has almost doubled his lead over Labour in the past month, according to a poll carried out after the Budget. A YouGov poll gives the Conservatives an 18 point lead. (Telegraph page 1)

Funding Row: Alex Salmond was reportedly told yesterday by Labour leader Iain Gray to ‘grow up’, get on with his job of running the Scottish Government and to stop complaining about the size of his budget. This week’s Budget dominated First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood, with all the party leaders taking the opportunity to focus on the knock-on effects of the Budget for Scotland. (Scotsman page 12,
Magnus Linklater in the Times )

Local Income Tax: The recession has reportedly put an end to Alex Salmond’s plan to resurrect his local income tax after the next Holyrood elections, according to the Tories. A combination of plummeting income tax yields, thanks to rising unemployment, and tighter public spending has put a £1 billion hole in the plan. (Telegraph page 10)

Muslim Candidate: The Quilliam Foundation, an organisation set up to counter Islamic extremism in Britain, has accused a SNP parliamentary candidate of being ‘sectarian and divisive’ and alleged that he is using the Nationalists as a front to promote his radical views. In response, an SNP spokesman said: “this disgraceful attack is untrue from start to finish, and the Quilliam Foundation has zero credibility... the very last thing we need is people with no knowledge of Scotland spreading nastiness and smears.” (Times page 5)

North Sea: The UK Government yesterday gave the go-ahead for a new generation of coal-fired power stations which will see a proportion of their carbon dioxide emissions buried underground - much of it likely to be beneath the North Sea. (Scotsman page 1, Guardian page 6)

Reform Scotland is an independent, non-party think tank that aims to set out a better way to deliver increased economic prosperity and more effective public services based on the traditional Scottish principles of limited government, diversity and personal responsibility.

www.reformscotland.com

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