Politics redundancy threat at Scotsman believed to be at heart of Westminster motion

PLANS by The Scotsman newspaper to halve its reporting team at Westminster, by making the post of political editor redundant, are believed to be at the heart of an Early Day Motion submitted by the former leader of the Liberal Democrats.

Sir Menzies Campbell says the House of Commons should be concerned about threatened cuts to the number of lobby journalists reporting from Westminster for Scottish national newspapers.

Though he makes no specific reference to The Scotsman, earlier this week the paper’s political editor, Ross Lydall, was told his post is at threat of redundancy, likely to be confirmed next week.

The move comes hard on the heels of moves to merge the content and production operations of The Scotsman and sister title, Scotland on Sunday – as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

As far as the papers’ politics coverage is concerned, the group editor is Eddie Barnes, who was previously political editor at SoS.

It is understood Lydall had not applied for the group position because he wanted to remain in London. He had joined The Scotsman less than two years ago from London title, the Evening Standard. He was City Hall editor at the Standard.

Campbell’s motion reads: “That this House notes with concern the threat of cuts to the number of lobby journalists reporting from Westminster for Scottish national newspapers; notes that cutting jobs in this area will have a detrimental effect on the quality and quantity of political reporting on reserved issues such as defence; and urges the proprietors of the Scottish national newspapers to protect the exemplary political reporting of lobby journalists for the Scottish press by avoiding job cuts in this area.”

At the end of last month, Hamish Macdonell left The Scotsman as its Scottish political editor, having taken a voluntary redundancy package. It means that what used to be a six-person politics team across the two newspapers is expected to soon become four: Barnes, Tom Peterkin, David Maddox and Gerri Peev, Peev being Lydall’s deputy at Westminster.