The Sun stoops to new lows with its Scottish front page

It seems Alex Salmond's campaign to woo Rupert Murdoch has paid off


That The Sun failed to come out in support of the Labour Party is unsurprising, given Ed Miliband’s persistent campaigning against the Murdoch press and its often outrageous tactics in seeking to gain stories.

That the paper has decided to back diametrically opposed parties north and south of the border however, reaches new opportunistic lows.

In Scotland, the paper urges readers to cast their votes for the SNP declaring Nicola Sturgeon to be a ‘a phenomenon who inspires people’.

Across the rest of the country it urges voters to back the Tories, dubbing the SNP ‘wreckers’ and warning of a potential Labour/SNP ‘nightmare’ government.

Andrew Nicoll, political editor of the Scottish Sun has argued that the contradiction reflects ‘two distinct editorial positions from two distinct, editorially-diverse newspapers’. But the reality is that it not only highlights the interdependence of the SNP and Conservatives, but once again demonstrates the fruits of Alex Salmond’s efforts to woo the Murdoch empire.

First, the different front pages demonstrate for all to see that for the Conservatives the SNP has become a convenient bogeyman. They need the SNP to be doing well in Scotland in order to instil fear in the hearts of the English and get them to vote Tory.

Meanwhile for all the SNP’s bluster of opposing a Conservative government, such a scenario would clearly be to their advantage. The prospect of a Conservative-led administration in Westminster with a large number of SNP MPs elected in Scotland would stoke the grievances held north of the border still further. It would in all likelihood lead to a second independence reference much sooner than anyone imagined.

But today’s newspapers serve as a reminder of the lengths that Alex Salmond went to in courting the Murdoch press during his time as first minister and leader of the SNP.

As Left Foot Forward reported at the time, the Leveson Inquiry revealed that Salmond had sought discussions with the then-UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt over News Corp’s bid to take over BSkyB.

In an email sent on 11 February 2011 Frederic Michel, News Corp’s senior vice president for Government Affairs and Public Policy in Europe, declared that Salmond would ‘call Hunt whenever we need him to.’

Responding to a written parliamentary question tabled by shadow Scottish secretary Margaret Curran and published in April 2012, Hunt explained in no uncertain terms:

“Mr Salmond’s office contacted mine to request a telephone call on 3 March 2011, and again a number of times in the following days. However, I can confirm that no such call took place or was ever scheduled.”

In 2011, the Sun on Sunday backed the SNP in election to Holyrood: elections that the SNP ultimately went on to win, securing an outright majority in the Scottish parliament. And in February 2012, Rupert Murdoch declared on Twitter that Alex Salmond was ‘clearly most brilliant politician in the UK.”’Alex Salmond’s recently published memoir on the independence campaign has been published by  William Collins, an arm of HarperCollins, which is in turn a subsidiary of Mr Murdoch’s News Corporation.

In April 2012, the Guardian also outlined details of over two dozen meetings held between Salmon, Rupert Murdoch, Murdoch’s son James (then running News International), BskyB, and other editors and executives from the Murdochs’ media empire.

While the SNP will undoubtedly be pleased to have got such a high profile endorsement, the question now for Scottish voters is how desirable Murdoch’s support really is.

For those undecided, remember that in April 2012, the Sunday Mail in Scotland revealed that the police had informed former first minister Jack McConnell that details of his phone and those of his children were found in the notes of a private detective who worked for the Murdoch press.

The Daily Record has also previously revealed that Salmond’s own former parliamentary aide Joan McAlpine has also had her phone hacked by the News of the World.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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10 Responses to “The Sun stoops to new lows with its Scottish front page”

  1. Gerschwin

    So in other words it’s urging no one to vote Labour – nice one Rups!

  2. Cole

    Lying, dishonest twerps says Vote SNP in Scotland – and Vote Tory in England and Wales to ‘stop the SNP ‘running the country’…

  3. David Lindsay

    We need to ask Nicola Sturgeon how and why she is so left-wing that Rupert Murdoch supports her. We also need a debate between The Sun‘s Editor in London and The Sun‘s Editor in Edinburgh.

    Ought that to be televised? Or might a private, ticketed event be suitable, since the whole thing could easily turn very post-watershed indeed? Whether from television rights or from ticket sales, a fortune could undoubtedly be made. But in aid of which charity, and why?

  4. sarntcrip



    The sad thing is that when Murdoch snuffs it another mogul will take over. The fact that politicians crawl to him makes a mockery of democracy but I suppose the public are just as gullible by reading the crap.

  6. Gary Scott

    Another nasty newspaper (The Sun). Unsurprisingly backing the Tories in England but VERY surprising that they back SNP.

    Every party has its newspapers. In Scotland the Tories have The Daily Mail, The Express, The Telegraph. Labour has The Daily Record, The Mirror, The Herald. Until last year, no newspaper backed SNP or independence.

    A strange set-up indeed. With high support for SNP and an outright majority in a PR parliament no newspaper support? The Tories, reviled in Scotland and holding one seat out of 59 has the support of three national papers? Labour’s papers were about right in number but oddly compliant with Labour, more of a campaign than a report!

    Since then SNP/Independence has found support from two dailies, The National (a new paper from the owners of The Herald) and The Sun and one Sunday, The Sunday Herald.

    Whilst the Tories are still overrepresented and SNP underrepresented it is beginning to look like a ‘fairer’ press. What IS different this time is that Labour have never had to work for the Scottish vote and the harder Ed Milliband pushes against SNP, the more Scottish votes he loses. Why is it a problem for him to say he will be realistic after the vote and ask SNP for support? He is telling voters in England that he will allow Cameron another 5 years before dealing with another left-wing party, SNP. SNP have ruled out doing a deal with the Tories and in fact it is SNP policy to never go into coalition with them.

    This is a strange election, current polls suggest that the Tories can’t get an absolute majority no matter who joins with them. Labour CAN get in but appear not to want power. This leaves possibilities of minority governments who can have bills voted down repeatedly and not govern effectively. What else could be done? A Labour/Tory coalition? Going back to the country in October.

    We deserve better than this…

  7. Gary Scott

    Rupert, lying and dishonest? Imagine that, a newspaper mogul being dishonest, lying, cheating, stealing – no, I just can’t believe such upstanding members of society would do such a thing! (Why won’t someone invent the ‘sarcastrophe’)

  8. uglyfatbloke

    I love the concept of the sarcastrophe…brilliant!
    There again I also applaud the Raving Loony demand for a 3-way choice in an EU, out or shake it all about.

  9. Keith M

    What tossers the Murdoch press is.

  10. DeDeeMac

    You have to ask the question, why would it suit the right wing press, the tories and the SNP, the answer…because it is a brilliant tactic that gets all 3 exactly what they want, fascinating how easily the electorate are fooled, even an eventual independent Scotland would virtually ensure a perpetual Tory government in England, now we wait for the comming revolution when the devistation they seek begins to bite deep.

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