Possible secret talks between SNP leader, Alex Salmond, and the publisher of The Scottish Sun, Rupert Murdoch, may have resulted in the newspaper's lavish support for Salmond, yesterday, in the run up to the Scottish Parliament elections next month.
The speculation is from The Guardian’s Scotland correspondent, Severin Carrell, in a blog on the MediaGuardian website. Says Carrell: “One tantalising suggestion is that Murdoch and Salmond secretly met in Wapping several months ago – an event that has uncanny echoes with Blair's discreet audiences with the tycoon.”
Tomorrow, Salmond is a guest at a political breakfast being hosted by The Sun publishers, News International, with its four main political reporters in Scotland also to be attendance: Angus Macleod (The Times), Andrew Nicoll (The Sun), Euan McColm (News of the World) and Jason Allardyce (Sunday Times).
Four years ago, The Scottish Sun was anti-SNP.
Carrell continues: “But to get back to the ‘why’ [the paper now supports SNP], there is an obvious commercial logic. The Sun's main competitor, the Record, is an unshakably Labour paper, a traditional position it has taken for decades. Taking a contrary position to the Record makes obvious sales sense, particularly outside the Record's core area of Glasgow, but the Sun could equally be agnostic; after all, not all of its readers will vote SNP.
“Insiders say the paper likes winners, and since it last suggested Scotland might need to consider suicide if Salmond was elected, it has decided the SNP leader is indeed a winner. They argue the SNP's inspirational tax-cutting and upbeat electioneering is more in tune with their readers' outlook than the Record's more stolid reporting. Sun readers are younger, more upwardly mobile, as are SNP voters.”
Carrell reports that Salmond's advisers deny that he and Murdoch have recently met, but do not deny that conversations have taken place at a senior level between Salmond and senior NI officers. He claims NI executives in Scotland have seen Salmond in private, and were apparently handed internal SNP polling results – “documents rarely offered to the media”.