Shaun Milne Writes About – Today’s By-Election is about to change, in terms of design, functionality and style of editorial. That may lead to some disruption of normal services over the next few weeks, not least because there are holidays to be had. It does mean also the prospect of new voices, from a galaxy of bloggers. So far, Nick Clayton, David Calder, Chris Bell, Craig McGill, Paul Hineman and Mark Gorman. Here, SHAUN MILNE writes for a fourth time. You’ll see his biog below. Feel free to become an AMS blogger yourself, by emailing us, here.

I’ve been enthralled by the run up to the election.

The intense drama, the sniping, the political point scoring.

Of how one candidate puts their record up against the other, promises made and claims of promises broken.

How commentators say it is still too close to call, while media outlets nail their colours to the mast.

It is riveting stuff, for sure.

But then there is an enthusiasm still for politics in the US, thanks largely to Barack Obama.

The public appetite has been whetted there like never before.

Unlike here in Scotland.

Last time Joe Punter took to the polls in Glasgow East, the turnout was just 48.2 per cent.

But it was enough to hand David Marshall a 13,500 victory for Labour.

This time around, some predict, thanks to holidays, the poll could be as low as 30 per cent.

Newspapers are grateful for the battle to fill their pages in the midst of the summer silly season.

The Scots broadsheets have fairly sniped at their upstart English cousins for daring to dispatch their foreign corrs north, on to their turf to brave the Mean Streets of Glasgow.

Thousands of words filter south about poverty, discontentment and deep fried Mars bars.

But in reality, other than the need for a historic record, does the average reader care?

London newsdesks hope that if the Nats win then it will become a story, not because of the boost to Alex Salmond, but the campaign that will surely follow to oust Gordon Brown.

Otherwise, they probably couldn’t give two hoots about the result and will withdraw their numbers as hastily as they were sent.

In Scotland, there will be much fun had by whichever outfit wins and the result will be duly pored over and discussed – and that, of course, is only right and proper.

But it will do nought for newspaper sales.

Because even those it affects aren’t really that bothered. And it has been like that for years.

In 1999, while working for the Daily Record, I was sent to Shettleston before filing a spread on the vote for devolution (here).

It revealed little more than 40 per cent had voted, Labour was viewed as a disappointment, that nothing had changed.

Apathy was the only real winner. It seems it will be again.

As the results come in tonight, as the late desks get a chance to shine and the Sundays prepare their thought pieces, there remains a glimmer of hope that someone, somewhere cares.

Which is hardly a vote of confidence in our electoral process.

Let alone the poor editorial teams that have to cover it in detail for a longed-for audience that will, in all probability, barely exist.

Shaun Milne
is a founding director of award-winning design, media and publishing company Planet Ink Ltd, specialising in digital, paperless publications and corporate newspapers and magazines.

Previously, he was associate news editor of the Daily Record, and also news editor then deputy editor of the Scottish Daily Mirror.

Visit his blog here and his company website here. Or view his firm’s digital brochure here.

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