Leader Comments Question Wisdom of Sun on Sunday Scoop

The scoop that helped the new Scottish Sun on Sunday launch yesterday – that the upcoming independence referendum has been scheduled for October 18 in two years' time – hasn't gone down well with at least a couple of newspapers today.

Following Scottish political editor, Andrew Nicoll's splash yesterday in The Scottish Sun's new Sunday edition, both The Scotsman and the Daily Record devote part of their leader columns to commenting on the wisdom of it.

Says rival, the Record, revelation of the date hardly squares with reported pledges by First Minister, Alex Salmond, to consult on the referendum: “So it was more than a little worrying to discover a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch claimed to have confirmation from a Scottish Government source that Saturday, October 18, is being lined up as the day of the big poll.

“This is the same Rupert Murdoch who sits at the top of an empire that controlled the News of the World.

“This was the very newspaper shut down because it had become a toxic brand after the phone hacking scandal.

“Murdoch has taken to praising Salmond on a regular basis.

“Now he seems to feel he has a say in Scotland's future.”

And under the heading, 'Leaking referendum date by way of The Sun won’t add votes', The Scotsman says: “Slightly odd is the choice of channel for dispensing this information – a leak to the new Sunday version of The Sun newspaper. Of course, since it has been unofficially leaked rather than officially announced, it makes it easier for the First Minister to change the chosen date, should that prove necessary. Rather more interestingly than that, handing out goodies and titbits to people whom Mr Salmond wishes to woo is a well-tried tactic from the SNP repertoire of political techniques.

“Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of The Sun and from whom all decisions about political positioning flow, could be described as a floating voter. The Sun has backed the SNP in the past, and sometimes it has not. And in recent months, Mr Murdoch has indicated his admiration for Mr Salmond’s political skills and some sympathy for the idea Scotland should be independent. So it is easy to see why Mr Salmond would want to curry favour with him.

“But the idea that this will pay huge dividends for the SNP is misleading. The influence that newspapers have over how their readers vote has dwindled in recent years.”