Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Your super soaraway Salmond

Much as I've become an enthusiastic supporter of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, one thing that irritated me slightly in the early days was that I kept receiving emails during the passage of the referendum bill inviting me to revel in the fact that - "We're almost there, James! It looks like we're going to have our referendum on May 5th!". I of course didn't for one second want a referendum on the same day as the Scottish Parliament election, and the fact that the London coalition selected that day of all days drove a coach and horses through their much-vaunted 'respect agenda' towards Scotland.

Until now, it appeared I needn't have worried - the AV campaign has been staggeringly low-profile for what is only the second UK-wide plebiscite in history. However, that seems to be changing slightly with the widespread reporting of cross-party events by both sides, and that's where the problem kicks in - it means that the news will once again be unduly dominated by Westminster politicians talking about a Westminster issue, right in the heart of the Holyrood campaign period. I suppose we should just be grateful that the broadcasters haven't used the vote as an excuse to hold another series of rigged Prime Ministerial (sic) Debates!

In any case, it's hard to be too downbeat on the evening that the country's biggest-selling newspaper comes out for the SNP. It's too early to assess the likely effect - in one sense it just evens up the score, with the Record continuing to churn out mindless propaganda for Labour as only they know how. However, the fact that the Sun's stance is completely new (and indeed a total reversal of their notorious 2007 hatchet job attempt) might just mean that it carries a bit more punch with readers.

And one other small piece of good news tonight - the combined support for the SNP and Plaid Cymru in ICM's latest GB-wide poll of Westminster voting intentions stands at a healthy 5%.


  1. The Sun???? "Jings, crivens and help m'boab"!!!!

    Why the volte face by this arch-unionist, opportunist yellow sheet (to borrow a expression from the States)?

    What do they suspect or are pretty certain they know about current unfolding events in Scotland?

    Do they anticipate a deluge of such magnitude that the whole political landscape is going to be imminently and utterly transformed?

    If Newsnet Scotland was taken down by a DoS attack, it may be that certain elements entrenched in the status quo suspect the same thing and the gloves are coming well and truly off.

  2. To those moaning about the Sun's declaration, you don't have to buy it, I still won't even though it is a welcome endorsement in contrast to their vituperative 2007 output and this is the mother of all flip-flops.

  3. I did buy the Sun today and they have a small article about the 2007 (Vote SNP and you put Scotland's head in the noose)

    Now it says (Now they're good noose) lol so original.

    James 5% of the SNP and PC? The last sub poll had the SNP on 36% for Westminster, they must be nearing 40% now!!

  4. We'll never know, Allan, because unfortunately ICM don't publish a Scottish subsample - just ones for the 'north', 'midlands' and 'south'!

  5. The Sun is looking for sales and its main competitor in Scotland is the Record. It has now decided that supporting the SNP is going to help sales, it's nothing to do with the Tory Party, independence, the SNP or even Scotland.

    The reason that the Sun has switched while none of the others papers have is that the North British Papers are part of the Scottish establishment and are driven by their political allegiance to Labour while the interloping Sun is driven purely by money. In a way it's like the English reporters who come north to report for the BBC and don't understand the local rules about supporting Labour at all times.

    In addition to the 2007 noose the Sun switched abruptly from Labour to Tory in 2009 across the UK so if any nationalist thinks that the Sun has converted to the nationalist cause they need their head examined.

    If the Sun thought it would improve sales by switching back to Labour on election day it would do that without a thought. The only loyalty the Sun has got is to ££££££££ signs.

  6. James.

    Pity because I think they would had been interesting.

  7. Dougthedog

    In addition to the 2007 noose the Sun switched abruptly from Labour to Tory in 2009 across the UK so if any nationalist thinks that the Sun has converted to the nationalist cause they need their head examined.
    I think the nationalists know that the Sun does not support independence and the paper did state this today. Alex Salmond also acknowledged this in the paper so please try and not portray the nationalist as thick!

  8. Doug is spot on.

    The Sun backs the winners, and then tell the winners it was “the Sun wot done it”.

    They only care about being in the winning side. I doubt if it will sway the vote; it just means the Sun’s political antennae have told it that the SNP is the right one to back...and that is probably good news

    Although, if I’m not mistaken they did it once before... and were wrong!

    James: is this not the third UK-wide referendum? Did they not have two in the ‘70s on EU membership, one with Heath on whether to go in; one with Wilson on whether to stay in?

  9. Doug

    As you probably know I am a committed Nationalist and an atavist, however I welcome The Suns endorsement. I think everyone, apart maybe from John Parks and The Guardian, knows that this is not a political conversion, but a quest for more sales.

    The SNP even with Brian Souters money could not buy publicity on this scale. The SNP were running a campaign to raise £50 thousand for a regional press campaign for the week of the election, given that a full page in the Sun costs about £250 thousand nationally and we had what six pages plus the front page, that's priceless.

    Does advertising work? yes, that why companies spend so much money on it. Will it gain extra votes? don't know, but it certainly will do no harm.

    Has it got Labour worried? you bet it has. Its got them petrified. Also applies to the in house newspaper the DR.

    Should we be worry about Murdoch? yes of course but I would still trust Alex Salmonds judgement on this.

  10. Dubbieside:

    I'm sure that the old adage that all publicity is good publicity applies in this case but the Sun is a fickle friend if you can call it a friend at all and I hope that Alex Salmond keeps it at arms length.

    For the moment they may be useful but the Sun coming out as a nationalist supporting paper makes me very, very wary.

  11. Doug

    I think that we can all agree that The Sun is a fickle friend, however if for no other reason than the panic it is causing in Labours ranks at the moment I still think the short term gain is worth it.

    It also helps that Iain Gray is being fully exposed in at least on part of the MSM.

  12. I don't like The Sun or Rupert Murdoch, but I welcome the transformation from the 2007 "noose" attitude. And the reasons they give for supporting SNP/Salmond are valid.
    Labour are rubbishing this and other "celebrity" backers, but it is surely a sign of the times that a paper which demonised the SNP is now prepared to support them, just as Brian Cox who actually campaigned for Labour in 2007 is backing the SNP.
    I read ssomewhere that Jim McColl has also backed the SNP, but not in The Scotsman obviously, nor was it on any BBC outlet.

  13. Tris, the answer to your question is no - Heath took Britain into the Common Market without a referendum. That's why Enoch Powell (rather incredibly) voted Labour in both 1974 elections - it was the only way a European referendum was going to take place.

  14. Bear in mind that the Labour "swingback" prior to the 2010 election began almost as soon as the Sun switched allegiance. I've always suspected that, if they hadn't run constant stories going on about how Brown should be tortured to death for misspelling a dead soldier's name, the Tories would have won a majority.

    So I'm hoping they can keep their coverage reasonably positive, saying nice things about the SNP rather than laying into Gray.