The Scottish Sun today formally announced its backing for the Scottish National Party in the Scottish Parliament election next month – with a dramatic splash covering the entire front page with the heading: ‘Play it again, Salm’.
And the tabloid devoted six pages inside to praising the SNP and its leader, Alex Salmond, and attacking Scottish Labour.
However, it clarifies its editorial stance in its leader column, pointing out, ”let’s be clear from the outset, The Scottish Sun might back Mr Salmond – but that DOESN’T mean we support Scottish independence”.
It goes on: “Four years ago we warned a vote for the SNP would strangle Scotland and turned their party logo into a noose. But they froze council tax, cut business rates, axed bridge tolls and prescription charges and built schools and hospital.”
The News International redtop’s editor, Andy Harries, is quoted, saying: “The SNP has proved them to be a capable and trustworthy government. We won’t always agree with all their policies but Alex Salmond and his team are head and shoulders above anything Labour has to offer.
“That’s why I am proud to offer the support of The Scottish Sun to help put them back in power.”
The Scottish Sun’s decision now commits Scotland’s two best-selling daily newspapers to a head-to-head battle in the run up to the vote on the fifth of next month. Ten days ago, allmediascotland reported how the Daily Record, forecasting the Scottish Sun would back the SNP, commented: “”And it's a striking switch for a paper that, in a notorious lapse of taste on polling day 2007, portrayed the SNP logo as a noose.”
Today, the Daily Record gives no direct mention to the Scottish Sun’s decision but in its leader column states: “This election is not about fancy photo ops or what US-base celebrities have to say. It’s about jobs, and ensuring that, after the nightmare of the 1980s, another generation of kids isn’t lost to long-term employment. And Iain Gray is the only party leader who is taking that seriously.”
BBC Scotland was announcing the Scottish Sun’s backing for the SNP on both its TV and radio news bulletins this morning, with Harries interviewed on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.
Meanwhile, Ewan Crawford, a former chief of staff in 2003 to the then SNP leader, John Swinney, today takes an in-depth look at the battle of the two best-selling Scottish dailies on the election front, in a lengthy article in The Scotsman.
Crawford is a lecturer in journalism at the University of the West of Scotland, and has appeared on BBC TV Scotland's Newsnight Scotland current affairs programme as a specialist on political issues.