Scottish news bulletin: 17th December 2008


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.


Interest Rates: George Kerevan in the Scotsman (page 31) comments on how much further the interest rates can fall. Below negative is seemingly not impossible. A negative interest rate or tax holding on cash may be where the market is turning. As the economic crisis deepens, we are getting closer to central banks lowering rates to the zero boundary.

Economic Crisis: Conservative leader David Cameron is banking on the fact that the slump of the pound and the deterioration in confidence about the state of the economy will begin to resonate with voters, however at the moment, the persona of Scrooge at this time of year is punishing him at the polls. Gerri Peev comments in the Scotsman. (page 24)

Inflation: Inflation could dip below one percent, warns Meryvn King, the Bank of England governor. The Treasury last night announced it would lower the cost of fees for banks using it £250 billion credit guarantee scheme. (Scotsman page 17) King spelled out the deterioration in the UK economic outlook in a letter to Chancellor Alistair Darling. Analysts predict negative rates for much of 2009. (Herald page 26, Guardian page 24, The Courier page 13, Press and Journal page 11)

Unemployment: Unemployment is likely to rise above three million in the current recession, the Bank of England’s labour market expert warned today. (Guardian page 1)

Nationalisation: Taxpayers face paying billions of pounds more to prop up Britain’s banks. (The Daily Telegraph page 1)


Glasgow Airport Terrorism: Dr Billal Abdullah was found guilty of the terrorist attack which took place last year at the Glasgow airport. He has been given a life sentence. (Scotsman page 1) Jordanian neurologist Mohammed Asha was found innocent of conspiracy and was acquitted of all charges. (Herald page 1, Daily Mail
Page 1,
Guardian page 1, Daily Record page 1, Scottish Daily Mirror page 1,The Times page 1, Daily Express page 1, The Sun page 4, Daily Telegraph page 1, Press and Journal page 1)

New Police Body to Tackle High-Finance Crime: John McFall, the chairman of the Commons Treasury Select Committee has called for Kenny MacAskill, Justice Secretary, to set up a new body to tackle fraud within Scotland. (Scotsman page 8) The call comes in the wake of the arrest of Wall Street investment manager Bernard Madoff. (Herald page 6)

Homicides: Drink and drugs are linked to half of killings in Scotland last year. However the number of homicides has dropped over the period. More than half of the homicides took place in the Strathclyde Police area. (Herald page 10)

Knife Culture: Knife culture is claiming two lives a week, as new figures released by Scotland’s chief statistician, Rob Wishart, show. (Daily Mail page 26) Knives are in half of all murders last year. (Daily Record page 23). Kenny MacAskill has been criticised for his ‘soft touch approach’ The SNP vows to get tough on knife and drinking culture. (Daily Express page 15, The Daily Telegraph page 5, The Courier page 9, Press and Journal page 10)

Assault: More than three woman are sexually assaulted a week by a man on bail, figures showed yesterday. (The Sun page 6)


Ferries: Leaked emails between an SNP leading academic and a senior civil servant show anger at seriously misleading ferries review. Professor Neil Kay has made it clear he will have nothing to do with the ferries review unless the government was willing to take his expert advice seriously. (Herald page 6)


Anti-depressants: One in ten Scots taking anti-depressants and the number of anti-depressants prescribed has more than tripled in the past 15 years. (Scotsman Page 14, Daily Mail page 17, Daily Record page 12)

Uniforms: New NHS uniforms have been designed to reduce the risk of infections. The former long sleeved white garments were banned and replaced by new short sleeved shirts. Doctors are not to wear ties or long sleeved coats. Doctors warned that the most effective way to tackle infections was through proper hand washing. (Herald page 8, The Daily Telegraph page 10, The Courier page 6, Press and Journal page 9)

Childhood Obesity: Youngsters are overweight by the time they get to primary school, new figures show. According to the NHS figures, 20 percent of Scottish children were overweight, obese or severely obese in the first year of school. Public Health Minister Shona Robison said the figures showed the ‘sheer scale of the problem’ of childhood obesity. Tory health spokesperson Mary Scalon has blamed parents for school kids’ obesity. (Daily Express page 15, The Courier page 11, The Press and Journal page 17, Daily Mail page 29, The Daily Telegraph page 10)

Vaccine: The number of children immunised with the controversial MMR vaccine has reached a record high. (Herald page 8, The Courier page 9)

Nursing Dropouts: Scotland’s NHS is heading towards a staffing crisis after it has emerged that nearly one-third of student nurses drop out before qualifying. (Daily Mail page 23)


Public Sector Pensions: Further to the story yesterday, the SNP refuses to cut the overpaid pensions in public sector. John Swinney, Finance Secretary, has decided to keep up the overpayments for the 5000 pensioners under the Scottish Government remit. (Scotsman page 8) Labour deplored the decision to continue with the overpayments and accused the Scottish Government as being ‘utterly irresponsible’. (Herald page 11, Daily Record page 10, The Times page 5, Daily Express page 10), The Daily Telegraph page 11, The Courier page 9, Press and Journal page 9)

Scottish Futures Trust: SNP funding vision comes under fire as the strategy for paying for major public projects has been seriously criticised by Holyrood’s finance committee. The Scottish Government has already failed to commission any new school projects since coming into power 19 months ago because of the delay over the Scottish Futures Trust. Ministers have been urged to allocate new capital projects. (Scotsman page 8, Herald page 6, Daily Express page 10, The Daily Telegraph page 5, The Courier page 6, Press and Journal page 7)

Arrest over Home Office Information Leaks: The Conservatives are saying that the report on the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the Whitehall leaks which lead to the arrest of Tory Shadow immigration minister Damien Green has serious failings. Police are preparing to drop the inquiry on Mr Green. (Scotsman page 10, Herald page 6, Daily Mail page 32)

Royal Mail: Gordon Brown faces Labour revolt after he agreed with Lord Mandelson to part privatise Royal Mail. The government yesterday opened the door to allow a foreign company to take over part of the Royal Mail. The Dutch delivery giant TNT has already expressed an interest. Fear of thousands of jobs in mail will go to the Dutch company. (Herald page 6, Daily Record page 21, Guardian page 14, Sunday Mail page 8, Daily Record page 10, The Times page 24, The Sun page 2, FT page 3, The Daily Telegraph page 10, The Courier page 13, The Press and Journal page 17)

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.


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