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Wings Over Scotland

Two cousins

Posted on July 31, 2013 by

The internet’s been enjoying itself since last night knocking up satirical versions of The Sun’s wraparound cover today. For no immediately apparent reason (except perhaps that it’s a slow time for news) the paper has suddenly decided to give a “State Of The Union”-type address explicitly setting out its beliefs on a variety of subjects.


We thought that it might pass a few idle moments to compare the UK and Scottish editions, and see how closely those beliefs matched up on either side of the border.

(You can read the UK leader column in full here and the Scottish one here. We’ve taken the images out of the UK one for tidiness, as there are none in the Scottish edition. Click each pic below to enlarge.)


Good to know that the speed of light is constant, at least. The only change is the substitution of the stridently imperial “But this is still our GREAT Britain” for the interestingly ambiguous “But this is still the country in which we have so much pride.”


You’d expect this section to be different, of course. The paper gives qualified support to the Tories in the UK and the SNP in Scotland, but avoids taking a stance either way on independence, and offers few clues.


We’re frequently told by opponents of independence that there’s no great difference in Scottish public attitudes to welfare those espoused in the rest of Britain. But the Scottish Sun leaves out the two most aggressive lines from the UK version:

“It has destroyed entire communities and is bleeding Britain dry. The cap on benefits brought in by this Government is still way too generous and must be cut.”


Again, you’d expect differences here. In Scotland, football gets two thirds of the entire entry, compared to just two lines in the UK edition. The “British” version names just one non-English sportsperson – Andy Murray, inelegantly dubbed “Muzza” – and focuses on the Olympics, ignoring the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup mentioned in Scotland. And it talks of when “we” beat Australia at cricket, an event which we’re sure thrills people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Here’s the weirdest bit. For a UK audience, the Sun demands “urgent surgery” on the health service, attacking the ring-fencing of spending and raging about “useless pen-pushers”. It could be interpreted as backing for further privatisation, except for the criticism of GPs running businesses rather than caring for patients. The paper is angry, but we can’t make out what it wants done about it.

In Scotland, on the other hand, The Sun bizarrely has nothing at all to say on the subject of the NHS. Does that mean everything’s fine? Your guess is as good as ours.


Europe is another intriguing one. The text, while reworded, is actually largely the same except for a line about a particular Scottish case. But there’s one rather interesting omission: the UK version loses the line “And we certainly hold no truck with the swivel-eyed fanaticism of Nigel Farage and his UKIP crew.”

As with welfare, we’re also often told by journalists that the idea of the Scottish view on EU membership being significantly different to that of the rest of the UK is a myth. It doesn’t look as though The Sun agrees.


…yet save for the replacement of “English Defence League” with “Scottish Defence League”, the two editions’ comments in immigration are identical.


You wouldn’t expect The Sun to have anything but the most effusive praise for Our Brave Boys, of course. But the wording of the two panegyrics is fascinatingly different. For some reason the UK one mentions the Help For Heroes charity while the Scottish edition talks about the paper’s own “Millie Awards”.

Much more noteworthy, though, is the disappearance of this UK line from the Scottish version: “Our position on the world stage is at stake. Protecting our interests, as we have in theatres like Iraq and Afghanistan, would be impossible if cuts continue.”

Sounds as though “punching above our weight” on the “world stage” doesn’t play as well in Scotland as it does south of the border. And oddly, nuclear weapons don’t get a mention anywhere.


Of all the topics you might think WOULD be handled differently, it’s a surprise that energy isn’t. The two entries are word-for-word identical. There’s no pandering to Scotland’s renewables potential, and a demand for fracking that’s all but irrelevant outside England. And again, no sign of the word “nuclear”.


With Scotland having its own education system, the two entries are almost completely different, though the UK one contrives to attack Labour and praise the Tories while the Scottish one doesn’t mention political parties at all.

In the UK the teaching unions are bitterly lambasted on the grounds that they “loathe change”, while in Scotland “constant changes” are depicted as a bad thing failing Scotland’s children. We’re confused. How much is the right amount of change?


On royalty, the two entries are identical except for a single line that’s curiously gone missing in Scotland: “We are huge fans of the Queen, Wills, Kate, Harry and, yes, Charles and Camilla too.”

A reflection of a different attitude between the two countries, or just short of space? You’ll have to draw your own conclusions. And other than a token namecheck for Susan Boyle in the Scottish entry for “showbiz”, that’s about that.

As a starting point for One Nation Britain, it’s not too convincing.

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36 to “Two cousins”

  1. Doug Daniel says:

    “Ed Miliband’s left-wing Labour speaks mainly for the trade unions.”
    Funniest thing I’ve read all day.

  2. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Aye, somebody should run that one past Unite if they fancy a chuckle.

  3. JLT says:

    I’m just waiting to see what happens with Fracking in Scotland if the country votes ‘No’. As you know, Rev, West Lothian is built on shale, and Fracking companies love shale.
    Makes you wonder where the first rig head will be placed – Bathgate, Livingston, Whitburn, Blackburn, Bents, West Calder…

  4. Vronsky says:

    What’s wrong with being ‘swivel-eyed’?  Won’t you have a bit of a problem if your eyes don’t swivel?  Everyone I know has eyes which swivel, as far as I can see (with my swivelling eyes).  Don’t most of our problems arise from people whose eyes are  completely incapable of swivelling, the dullards who can see only what is (tactically) placed in front of their noses?  The Sun has eyes which don’t swivel.  Good for them.

  5. Cheryl says:

    ‘Even the Lib Dems have had their moments.  We just can’t think of any’.
    Top class research from the Sun, then.

  6. kininvie says:

    @JLT – West Lohian is riddled with old shale workings, most of them flooded long since. I imagine (hope) the frackers will look for somewhat less difficult territory first!

  7. southernscot says:

    Confirmation if needed Britain=England

  8. Murray McCallum says:

    “it talks of when “we” beat Australia at cricket, an event which we’re sure thrills people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
    The England cricket team is, I think, a misnomer as the team represents the ECB (the England & Wales Cricket Board).  So folks in Wales can be thrilled. No problem with that if you like the complicated version of rounders.

  9. Tom Hogg says:

    The whole approach of having two versions is intellectually dishonest.  If you are The Sun and you support the UK, and if this is a “state of the nation” address, then they should be identical.  The only answer that you are left with is that The Sun acknowledges that Scotland is different and it is tacitly in support of independence.

  10. Patrick Roden says:

    @ Tom Hogg
    The Unionist Parties all do it as well, so don’t be surprised.
    But I agree with you, it’s intellectually dishonest.

  11. Beastie says:

    Almost feel dirty.

    That’s the most I’ve ever read from the Sun in about fifteen years. Any edition, Scottish or English.  I’ve got a bit of headache now that might just be the feeling you get as Sun editorials make you less intelligent.

    Honestly, I know you’re only highlighting the level of ridiculousness but you should really post a health warning on anything quoted from the Sun.

    “Warning; lowest common denominator journalism ahead” should do it.

    Joking aside… I think I was joking… excellent analysis as usual from WoS.

  12. Glassbead2 says:

    Unfortunately, all too many people buy this rag and it’s opinions…

  13. John Lyons says:

    What’s with the scottish version not getting our landmarks on it? Why couldn’t we get the Wallace monument and that Statue of Robert Bruce outside Edinburgh castle. And the castle itself for that matter.
    Oh what, they’re all famous for opposing England aren’t they…
    Well what about Hampden then, and Longanet and the forth road bridge?
    Ran out of time or couldn’t be arsed?

  14. Tattie-boggle says:

    I read the sun last week and dropped 50 points off my IQ

  15. tartanarse says:

    Sun readers are buffoons. That a “paper” has a girl with her baps out in each edition tells you all you need to know about the rag.
    At least they have the nerve to tell us that theirs is a Scottish version.
    There are no Scottish newspapers, only London ones, however many thistles they put on the front.
    Our problem is that there are many fools with votes. Let us just hope that they are outnumbered by decent folk.

  16. CameronB says:

    Nice comparative analysis. Two things I took from it are that the commercial nous of the Sun suggests that their are specific differences in social attitudes between Scots and rUK. Second, Scotland does not have an NHS. Either that or Scotland has no health. Whichever.
    Re. Shale oil and cracking. Scottish chemist James Young prepared “lighting oil,” lubricating oil and wax from cannel coal and since 1862 from torbanite.[19] In 1850 he patented the process of cracking oil.[20][17]
    If memory serves me, the world’s first commercial shale oil cracking plant (refinery), was opened in Broxburn shortly after. So it would seem like kismet for Scotland to exploit its considerable remaining shale potential. Hopefully not though, before a less environmentally damaging process can be developed.

  17. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Hopefully not though, before a less environmentally damaging process can be developed.”

    Having seen entire buildings vanish into old shale workings in Bathgate in my youth, let’s hope not.

  18. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Simply the two Suns, anybody know what the Irish Edition has as a front page, are different simply because the countries are different and this is being developed as a deliberate policy in order to protect the paper’s circulation whatever happens post Referendum.
    If they get a real sniff of a YES vote they will edge towards supporting that and will come out in favour of YES once they are convinced of it.
    Follow the money. They sell to the LCD and the prejudices / perceptions of their readership. Although Murdoch, himself, hasn’t made a direct comment about what he thinks re the Referendum, I feel reasonably sure his would be Yes opinion. He hates the British State I think it is fair to say.

    Follow the money.

  19. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Tattie-boggle says:

    I read the sun last week and dropped 50 points off my IQ
    and 2 minutes out of your life.

  20. JLT says:

    Rev. Stuart Campbell says:     
    “Hopefully not though, before a less environmentally damaging process can be developed.”

    Having seen entire buildings vanish into old shale workings in Bathgate in my youth, let’s hope not.
    I remember of two large holes opening up due to the old mines. One in Bathgate, the other at Pumpherston Golf Course. Rumour has it that they filled in the one at Pumphie using a train carriage! Whether that is true or not, I have no idea, but I’m sure I’ve heard it being mentioned a couple of times.

  21. Chic McGregor says:

    Rev. You may cringe a little at this, but I once did a similar exercise in the run in to an election once on the LibDem manifesto. Suspicious when they required your postcode before downloading it, I downloaded the Scottish version and one with a made up English postcode.
    There were many differences, but the most damning one was the completely different set of projects the money from their extra penny in the pound on income tax would be spent on.  Apparently, the entire amount was to be spent in both countries on different things.

  22. Vincent McDee says:

    Hi Rev.
    The British Sun have had Osborne and Salmond as hero/villain of the week:
    since Alex dared to wave the famous saltire in Wimbledom ( I know, weeks in Britain seems to have more days than in Scotland, but that’s probably par for the course in the Sun.)
    It will be nice to check who’s the hero/villain in the Scottish Sun, wouldn’t you say?

    Oops! I forgot! the hero/villain thing is of Westminster, as we have Holyrood it seems there’re neither heroes not villains here.


    PS: If you have an eye on the list of links at the bottom of the Scottish version, you may notice that there is not a British version, just English and Welsh ones.

    Could it be because English and british are synonimous to the Sun?

  23. Andy-B says:

    Murdochs rag the Sun has always played both ends against the middle, making and breaking governments, he’ll hedge his bets, as long as its in his interests to do so.
    Though no matter how enticicng his headlines, he’ll never sell many Sun’s in Liverpool.

  24. Max says:

    It is what is missing that is interesting.
    So what is it about Scotland that news corporations clearly don’t understand. The BBC don’t get Scotland, they don’t even try. Scottish editions of London newspapers fail to get it. Papers published in Scotland do everything they can not to get it by behaving in a parochial manner. STV come close but they are hampered by so called national schedules.
    There clearly is no one out there that represents Scotland in a true and honest way in the broadcast media and newsprint formats. Scots are entirely reliant in explaining themselves to themselves and to the world via the internet.  
    The media, however you wish to label them, has failed Scotland. 

  25. CameronB says:

    Re. Fracking again. If you’ve not already seen it, I’d suggest watching “Gassland”. Has the industry cleaned itself up and do we want or even need this in Scotland?

  26. Chic McGregor says:

    Airth, just North of Falkirk is to be Britain’s first commercial unconventional gas development.  See:

    In this instance it is the gas from Scottish coal seams they are after, but the principle is the same.  Fracking will probably not be done at first, but when yields drop, they will ‘need’ to.  
    There are worse problems with this than for shale.  The water which needs to be pumped out is even more contaminated (it is set to be pumped virtually untreated into the Forth) with all kinds of chemicals associated with coal seams in it.  Subsidence continues to be a risk.  Coal is less permeable than shale so a much higher density of access well have to be drilled.  The licence site includes Bannockburn and isn’t all that far from Grangemouth (where any subsidence could have catastrophic consequences).
    If ‘successful’ this would inevitably roll out across the entire Central Scotland coalfield.
    Local opposition and Falkirk Council reticence has meant that DART have appealed directly to the Scottish Government.  The expectation (certainly mine) is that they will fare no better there.
    DART expansion of operations in Australia have been virtually stopped by local opposition there in Queensland.
    Recently the European manager and the surface manager have resigned, not sure if that is necessarily good news.
    Meanwhile, with a suspended MP incumbent until the next GE, Falkirk is not best placed regarding representation at Westminster.

  27. G H Graham says:

    I’ve been misled; I thought the only purpose of The Sun was to slake the salacious thirst of tradesmen who drive Ford Transits to work while enjoying a robust morning erection.

  28. Chic McGregor says:

    @Vincent McDee
    Rather balanced interview of Alex Salmond by RT.  (RT?  clue, not the Radio Times)

  29. Susan S says:

    I’m glad you read it for us, Rev. 
    I’d rather stab myself in the eyes with a rusty fork.  For instance, I had no idea they had a Scottish version of the Sun.   For why?  Who reads it, rather than read the UK version?  Or rather…who reads the damned rag at all..? 

  30. JLT says:

    Chic McGregor
    This worries me, it really does. When you have 80% of the population sitting right on top of coal and shale, well, you can guess what will happen. I don’t think Westminster will care one iota about Scotland.
    This is why I mentioned yesterday, why it could be a new front to attack BT on. Let Darling and Co. explain their stance on Fracking. I’m sure the Scottish population will be horrified if it found out that there is a chance that their water could be polluted, as well as being exposed to toxic chemicals. This would surely push the Yes vote over the 50% mark if not even 70%! This is the one scary story we can push out, and people will sit up – Unionist or not Unionist. Darling and co will brick themselves on this!!
    And yes, I have seen the movie Gasland. It is really scary. Look up a map of the USA and see how many Rigs have been planted from Canada, all the way to Mexico. I can see something similar in the UK from Aberdeen, all the way to the Watford Gap!

  31. alexicon says:

    “…and the SNP in Scotland, but avoids taking a stance either way on independence, and offers few clues.”
    No, the Sun newspaper has already nailed its colours to the mast and said it is against Independence and it is for the union.
    It has also said that it wants a balanced debate.
    Expect a banner headline similar to its infamous hangman’s noose closer to the referendum.

  32. panda paws says:

    As much as it pains me to say it, the Sun has hit on a truism. Better Together/No campaign really is so negative it should be renamed “Worse Apart”. I think I’m going to borrow that!!

  33. Taranaich says:

    The fact that both editions of The Sun are perpetuating the poisonous and untrue stereotype that it’s somehow “generous” and “easy” to give people with little or no means or possibility of income a way of supporting themselves, and that “culture of entitlement” line… it truly and utterly disgusts me.
    The problem with the frequency of swearing these days is that it’s more difficult to truly convey profound and extreme hatred for an idea when people throw out words like vernacular. That The Sun, supposedly a populist paper, has bought into the “benefits scroungers are ruining Britain” and thinking the current cuts aren’t enough, fills me with such complete contempt that I would happily spit in the face of whoever wrote this evil screed.
    The Sun can go straight to Hell.

  34. Molly says:

    Chic McGregor,, that’s an interesting use of the word reticence regarding Falkirk Council. Oot oh their depth is another interesting phrase

  35. Ann says:

    I am right in reading that “contaminated” water from fracking will be pumped directly into the River Forth without any kind of filtering.
    The River is just recovering from the pollutants from the mines and human waste and it could all be for nothing.
    It won’t be long until the whole of Central Scotland once again becomes an industrial wasteland.
    Now is the time for the Scottish Government. the Scottish Environmental Agency and all the likes of the SWT and other wildlife charities take and stand against the bully boy foreign conglomerates and say NO.

  36. Murray McCallum says:

    Energy / Environment
    The Tories are up to their usual tricks – even in their own back yards.  Francis Maude’s constituency covers Balcombe, West Sussex.

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