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Wings Over Scotland

Won’t somebody think of the children?

Posted on August 04, 2013 by

One of the benefits, if that’s the right word, of the Daily Record’s shambolic new iPad app is that the 30-day trial period means we got to see a print copy of the Sunday Mail today for the first time in years. It was largely like a parochial edition of Heat magazine (“FAT LASS DATES THIN BLOKE” got a spread), but buried 40-odd pages in was a “special report” that doesn’t seem to have made it onto the paper’s website.


The Mail accompanies the report with an editorial entitled “We must not abandon our Geordie pals”, which is very carefully worded in order to give the impression that a Yes vote would be to do just that, without actually saying so. But the actual content of the report is curiously at odds with the headlines.

(By way of a quick illustration of what we mean, the last paragraph of the leader column reads “Regardless of an independence vote, it makes sense to work closer together. As far as Scots and Geordies are concerned, we’re better together.” See how it works? You can easily read it several different ways, but it closes on a phrase with a very specific implication.)

The article is as schizophrenic as the editorial. A bar down the left-hand side paints the North-East of England as a poor relation, with a slew of statistics showing how Scotland contributes more and has lower unemployment and higher wages. Yet a vox pop across the bottom of the spread is full of Newcastle United fans asserting the usual myths about how Scotland is too poor, the oil’s running out, we couldn’t afford to pay for our own NHS and all the rest of it.

In the main piece, one passage reads:

“The biggest worry in the north east is what the UK government are prepared to offer Scots to vote against independence.

[North East Chamber Of Commerce policy director Ross] Smith added: ‘The greater concern is what sweeteners Scots voters will be offered to persuade them to vote no. Are they prepared to offer flexibility on corporation tax or air passenger duty? As far as the north east is concerned, there might come a point where the price for keeping Scotland part of the UK might be too high.”

Clearly Mr Smith has a very great deal more faith in the UK government’s inclination to offer Scotland greater powers after a No vote than we do. But just a few short paragraphs later we get a rather different interpretation of the issue from Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council:

“The referendum is a matter for the Scottish people and, if they vote for independence, we will seek to work with the new Scottish government and see if we can collaborate on joint projects.

And we would say to the Westminster government that we need additional support because we are disadvantaged being so close to Scotland. If Scotland votes yes, one would expect the Westminster government to almost immediately start talking to the north east about how they can help us retain a competitive edge.”

Mr Malcolm, then, seems to in fact regard Scottish independence as his region’s best hope, because the (r)UK government would be forced to grant concessions to an area currently neglected by London in order to avoid further economic damage. That doesn’t seem to tally with the report’s screaming banner that “GEORDIES FEAR LOSING OUT IF THERE’S INDEPENDENCE… If Scotland goes its own way, it would be like putting Hadrian’s Wall back up”.

Indeed, neither man quoted sees independence as the threat to the North-East. The precise opposite is true – Smith fears the result of a No vote (in the shape, however unlikely in reality, of Scots being bribed to stay in the UK with new economic advantages), while Malcolm sees opportunity for political leverage if there’s a Yes vote.

The Mail’s report is intriguing. Contradictory at every turn, some might call it balanced. Some might see it as a subtle subversion of the paper’s traditional Unionist stance. Others might see it as a cynical twisting of the truth, hiding a pro-Yes message underneath presentation that leads readers to draw the opposite conclusion.

Goodness knows which is the reality. We just thought you’d like to see it.

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53 to “Won’t somebody think of the children?”

  1. redcliffe62 says:

    If it can be proven Scots pay out more than they get back that will be crucial. The MSM want to avoid all discussion of that point.

  2. HighlandMartin says:

    Haven’t looked at a Sunday Mail since my last cat died and litter tray had to go out.

  3. Tom Hogg says:

    Thanks for letting us see the paper since we’re sure as hell not going to buy it.

  4. DanTDog says:

    @redcliffe62…this point has been made so many times…the answers are already in the public domain; The MSM know it full well and simply won’t acknowledge it…
    @HighlandMartin….how I wish there was a “like” button…how about it, Rev Stu…or is it a copyright issue…? 🙂

  5. beachthistle says:

    As the newspaper editors and their backers increasingly realise that the online debate is being won by Yes, and that media scrutiny is playing an important role in that, I reckon there will be more print-edition-only articles, editorials, comments and ‘special reports’ like this in the coming 13 months.
    Maybe a good idea to, between us, volunteer to each buy and ‘monitor’ a Scottish print edition of every newspaper for you Rev? I’d be happy to volunteer to do one but I’ve got quite a bit of work-travel planned for this year and I think it should be as ‘real-time’ as possible…

  6. The Man in the Jar says:

    And their point is? I have read it twice now and am still completely confused.

  7. Seasick Dave says:

    Don’t worry, Geordies, we’re not going anywhere.
    All we want is to make all our own decisions in Edinburgh, raise our own taxes and pay our own way in the world.
    Its really all quite simple.

  8. BuckieBraes says:

    The Hadrian’s Wall analogy adds to the confusion, as most of the City of Newcastle lies on the Scottish side of it. St James’ Park certainly does.

  9. Iain says:

    The ‘interviews’ at the bottom are a bit bizarre are they not.
    Some of the Newcastle supporters seem to know an awful lot of detailed information about how a different country from their own works – particularly since they are being asked as members of an opposition football team in Paisley, rather than visiting political students.
    They know about our salaries, job prospects, our economy, the amount of finite resources we have and how they equate to the levels in Newcastle …. they even discuss Donald Dewar, the founding father of modern Scottish politics (maybe!)
    They seem to know more about us than about 80% of people living in this country – and they seem to be unanimous. That is just spooky!
    Got to say, if I visited Newcastle, and was asked similar questions about the politics in their area, I would be lost. I would be polite and probably suggest they have a better understanding of the situation themselves, but I doubt I would be discussing the amount of detail they were able to.

  10. Iain More says:

    Another of the Scots will float off into outer space stories or a variation of! Can I put minefields in front of the new Hadrain’s Wall please?

  11. How long until we start seeing a revival of ‘The Jocks and The Geordies’, do we think?

  12. The Man in the Jar says:

    I haven’t been for a while but visiting Kendal in Cumbria numerous times last year most locals that I spoke to regarding independence wished that they could come as well.

  13. Graeme Purves says:

    I think this is a clumsy attempt at damage limitation following the very sensible and pragmatic report to the Association of North East Councils entitled: Can the North East and Cumbria benefit from greater Scottish Autonomy?

  14. pmcrek says:

    Dear Sunday Mail,
    I’m writing this open letter to inform you and your readers that “Hadrians Fucking Wall” is in England and happens to go right through the middle of Newcastle, something which you would have learned if you had ever bothered visiting the city.
    I would also like you to note that the invention of gunpowder coupled with recent innovations in the field of human flight have for the most part rendered the usage of 5 metre high walls to stem barbarian hordes obsolete.
    Best Regards
    The Internet

  15. Graeme Purves says:

    Contrast the rather saner way in which the matter is being addressed by local media in the North-East of England…

  16. Ian Mackay says:

    @The Man In the Jar Maybe that is their intention, to deliberately confuse. I think everyone’s twigged by now that the Better Together campaign is hopelessly flawed and there is no positive case for the Union.
    In order for the No campaign to win, then, it is now trying to confuse the Don’t Know vote. The mantra now is that Independence is too complex to understand, so vote No for what you know.
    Its a subtle shift but one that is also doomed to fail. Independence for nations isn’t really that complex, else why would 150 or nations have done it over the last 70 years or so. And if what you know is Westminster austerity cuts, trident missiles, illegal wars, and an increase in poverty then who would vote No for that?

  17. Karamu says:

    “Mark Aitken- Political journalist of the year”?? Seriously?!

  18. HandandShrimp says:

    I would send that to the Mail. They are so obtuse only a relatively plain speaking correction has any chance of getting through to them.
    I would agree with the Rev, they seem to have confused schizophrenia for balance. The article is confused, incoherent and misleading. They really should stick to “fat person dates thin person” stories, politics is obviously too tricky.

  19. SCED300 says:

    Another distraction and having a poke to cause confusion, though the confusion is in the contortions of pro-Union commentators and media.
    The North-East of England didn’t want a regional assembly, what would they use as an stick to get any concessions from Westminster? If Scotland votes No, that would strengthen Westminster power over all Devolution issues, if we vote Yes then what can the North East say? We want Independence? We want Devolution, after voting overwhelmingly against it?
    This is Labour desperation, and to me, a very feeble attempt to suggest they still have some control of the agenda.

  20. Karamu says:

    The “two regions”, yes, we are also part of England….

  21. Braco says:

    Rev, I would say it’s the last reason you give for this confused article. I am afraid it’s simple cynicism.
    The Mail’s thinking is probably based on the knowledge that throughout the 80’s and up to 97 when The SUN management changed support to NewLabour, SUN readers were regularly polled and asked what party they felt ‘their’ paper supported. The poll results showed that a majority of the SUN readership, even during it’s most right wing ‘GOTCHA!’ period, believed it (somehow) to be a Left wing Labour supporting paper!
    A theory at the time to explain this weird but consistent result was that as the readership strongly considered itself working class and closely associated the working class with Labour and ‘the left wing’, it also identified The SUN very strongly with the working class and therefor made the illogical leap that The SUN must therefor also be left wing and Labour supporting.
    I think it was the confusing nature of these results that led to the stereotype of the stupid, political naive SUN reader among the politicos and allowed the SUN all those ‘It was the SUN wot won it!’ headlines. Politicians actually believed and probably still do, that a right wing newspaper could deliver a leftwing electorate up to the Tories.
    Of course I would argue that all that happened was that the English working class electorate simply moved to the right, whilst happily holding on to the old familiar security blanket myths of a rock solid leftwing English working class. Much like their refusal to see their NHS and Welfare state being destroyed, preferring to see it as ‘transformed’ into something more in line with their true beliefs.
    I don’t think this gambit in the Scottish newspapers will work (and it has not to date) because the electorate never moved to the right in  the way the English electorate did and so the newspapers have never been able to effectively peddle the ‘It was the Record wot won it!’ myth.
    We do, after all, have a majority Govt formed from a political party in it’s second term, that has had no sustained support in either the print or broadcast media…. and don’t the Scots electorate know it!

  22. Training Day says:

    Next week from the political journalist of the year.. ‘Dear God, will no one think of our Cumbrian pals?’

  23. Dinnatouch says:

    Clicking the link above, I see that Alex Salmond’s head has been photoshopped onto a Newcastle United player’s body – with the sponsor’s name obviously very visible on the strip. Is this a subtle way of linking AS to Wonga in the minds of the readers?

  24. Helena Brown says:

    Given up on ever seeing something which could be even described as even handed from the MSM. Have to say if this is an article from the Political Journalist of the year, then they are in trouble. I do not understand how these people act like, I was going to say Prostitutes, but but they are at least honest,

  25. Vincent McDee says:

    Schizo, Rev? You obviously haven’t read yet the latest Kevin McKenna :
    He call it satire, but like someone says in the comments: If this is funny why aren’t we laughing? or somesuch.
    A sample: “Although Scotland is an independent nation, we intend to annex it as part of the national emergency and place Alex Salmond and his ministers under house arrest. We intend to plant some evidence that proves Salmond secretly intended to keep one of the decommissioned Tridents on the Clyde for a strike against England. This will get us the nod at the security council. The Americans have kindly agreed to set fire to their oil fields and blame it on al-Qaida. In the event that the current situation is maintained for a few years, then Scotland will come in handy for war games and naval exercises. Whatever the future may hold, Scotland will never be allowed to go it alone ever again.
    What says you?

  26. James Kay says:

    Well done, Rev, for persevering this far. I have/had the free Record app, and went with the one month free ‘upgrade’. But I gave up reading today’s paper before I reached this article.
    I hope I’ll be able to find out wher to turn it off before the first payment is due!!

  27. patronsaintofcats says:

    pmcrek says:
    4 August, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Dear Sunday Mail,
    I’m writing this open letter to inform you and your readers that “Hadrians Fucking Wall” is in England and happens to go right through the middle of Newcastle, something which you would have learned if you had ever bothered visiting the city.
    I would also like you to note that the invention of gunpowder coupled with recent innovations in the field of human flight have for the most part rendered the usage of 5 metre high walls to stem barbarian hordes obsolete.
    Best Regards
    The Internet


  28. HandandShrimp says:

    I think Kevin’s view of the future is based on all the spying and Machiavellian politics revelled by Manning and Snowden. It isn’t a swipe at Scotland as such, just how authoritarian and undemocratic Westminster will become (and on the plus side it assumes we win the Yes vote). Whether it is funny or not is a matter of taste as ever with satire.

  29. jim mitchell says:

    With this effort and the new ‘revelations’ about SNP penetration of the Labour Voters for Independence group in the Herald, I think it’s time to ask, has the NO campaign run out of steam?
    I also think it’s time for us to compare notes again on how the NO campaign seems to be doing in the areas where each of us live.
    For me here in Sauchie, Clackmannanshire, I have to report, with regard to the whole of Clackmannanshire, we have received a leaflet, (aimed only at men) in parts of a few streets.
    Labours own campaign, has held three meetings, mind you they were very secretive about them, never advertised them locally or gave a report on them afterwards in the local press, so make what you will of that. and just in case any one is wondering, there has been door step canvassing going on in the county, two leaflets have gone out through most doors, there have been various street stalls, letters in the press and one very successful meeting with over two hundred folk in Alva, with more planned!

  30. JLT says:

    Talking of hypocrisy, I find it almost breath-taking that the US and the UK are condemning Zimbabwe on rigged elections.
    Ehhhh …WTF! So, the UK government is unhappy with election practices carried out, in literally, the poorest nation on the Earth, but when it comes to campaigning in the Referendum of Scotland, it turns a blind eye to what the BBC is doing, or the lies being tossed around by the BT mob. In fact, it wholeheartedly makes sure that the lies are repeated on a daily basis.
    Double-standards and hypocrisy!
    What baffles me is …why the F*** are they giving a monkeys about Zimbabwe anyway? It doesn’t have oil and it is completely stony-broke. Is it mineral wealth that the UK is after? Is it to become a semi-protectorate once more, should the odious Mugabe ever get thrown out? Seriously, I’m baffled as to why we take such an interest in a nation that offers nothing! Or is it once again, because Britain once owned it, therefore, they have to interfere in it’s daily affairs, whether Zimbabweans likes it or not?

  31. JLT says:

    And as for the US, we all remember the rigged elections when Bush stole the Presidency from Al Gore.
    Pot. Kettle. Black.

  32. Robert Kerr says:

    @Jim Mitchell
    Yes, I already posted a few days ago that “entryism would come up re LfI.
    It didn’t take them long.
    Hail Alba

  33. Oneironaut says:

    Does this mean I can keep an eye out down at the Jobcentre for adverts reading:

    “Bricklayers wanted for large wall-building project to take place in late 2014 – Must have degrees in brick science and brick engineering and fifteen years’ experience in advanced astrophysics!”

    (That’s how they’re usually worded anyway!)

    Does Hadrian have any modern day descendants?  Might be a copyright issue in there somewhere…

  34. Hetty says:

    I will be in Newcastle next weekend, when I might get to gauge some attitudes regards our Independence. So far, the friends and family still living in N E England and some now living abroad, don’t want to discuss it at all, I think there’s a lot of resentment about it actually. They hate the tories, but many are still inclined to believe the MSM and bbc. There was a vote for the N E region to have some devolved powers in 2004, it was rejected big style, and I do wonder if people regret that now, also how informed were people about the pros and cons?  Hadrian’s wall, maybe it could be restablished a bit further down…might as well be considering wasteminster doesn’t give a damn about the North of England, they have nothing much except some nuclear power plants and lots of big shops, thatcher destroyed all the industries they did have.

  35. Robert Louis says:

    It truly beggars belief, the number of people in England who keep coming out with the ‘Hadrian’s wall’ pish, without grasping the rank stupidity involved.  Hadrian’s wall runs right through Newcastle upon Tyne, down the Westgate road, and on to an area called (and here’s a bleeping freaking clue folks!!!!) Wallsend.  Go up Westgate road, and there is still a wee bit of the wall on view, visible from the bus, FFS!!!!.
    The English education system, eh!

  36. Archie [not Erchie] says:

    @ Graham Purves – Thanks for the links to the ANEC report which I have just read with great interest and a wee twinge of sadness for our cousins just over the border. It seems to be acknowledged by the learned professors and various other advisors that their gaze should be shifted away from Mordor to the Shire. However it seems they are hedging their bets with many references to DevoMax and DevoPlus but at the same time hoping for full Scottish Independence as the best way.

  37. Tris says:

    Do they realise where Hadrian’s Wall was/is?

  38. Morag says:

    I just spent a week in Durham.  On a couple of days I wore my “A hundred of us – remain alive” t-shirt.  The yellow one.  Of course a lot of people asked me what it meant.  I explained that it essentially translated as, “We WILL win this referendum”.  They mostly looked a bit bemused.

    Then there was the Edinburgh girl who looked at it and said, apparently apropos of nothing at all, “what do a tree, a promise and a declaration have in common?”

    Arbre – oath – Arbroath.

  39. Archie [not Erchie] says:

    @ Robert Kerr – I looked at that Herald report earlier and I am still trying to figure out the caption under the photograph. Am I slow on the uptake? Which of the 4 is Alex Salmond?

  40. Jamie Arriere says:

    Any Geordie I’ve met has been good company, and as my dad used to say, they’re just Scotsmen with their heads kicked in. However, they still trot out the same TWTPTS garbage to us because they believe it of themselves. I think they need to get their own shop in order and get some ‘bonnie fechters’ – I couldn’t name one of the Northeast England MPs!
    They can’t say they didn’t have their chance…..

  41. Caledonalistic says:

    The three councillors standing behind the LFI banner (and at this point I’m assuming they are SNP councillors although I don’t know any of them) shouldn’t have done so.  Hopefully they get a good bollocking for it.  It’s mischievous and does neither LFI, the SNP, or Yes Scotland any favours.  The photo the Rev. posted the other day was fine, for the reasons he cited.  The one in the Herald is a step too far.  

  42. Caledonalistic says:

    Of course, if those rosettes are real, then all is forgiven…Who can say?

  43. Dorothy Devine says:

    It sure ain’t as mischievous as having someone doctor a photo of the Saltire.
    The media and the Lib/Lab/Con have difficulty with the concept of supporters from all parties and none being in favour of independence.
    Quite amazingly inept of them or deliberate obfuscation – who can tell????

  44. Robert louis says:

    Sorry, but I disagree.  It is of no concern if people from the SNP or ANY other political party choose to get pictured in front of a labour for independence banner.  I’m in the SNP, and would not hesitate to show my support for any of the YES campaign parties such as the green party, Labour for independence or Scottish socialists.  It would not for one second mean that the greens, for example, are not a real party but just an SNP front.
    I think you have fallen into the bitter together trap, by indulging their stupidity regarding people getting pictured at banners.  It is patent nonsense see;

  45. Adrian B says:

    The shocking truth about ‘Labour for Dependence’. It’s really just a front for the damned Tories!

  46. Bob Howie says:

    More fish and chip wrapping, it is all that is good for

  47. Dramfineday says:

    Archie [not Erchie] says:
     that their gaze should be shifted away from Mordor to the Shire. Love it Archie!

  48. Taranaich says:

    It truly beggars belief, the number of people in England who keep coming out with the ‘Hadrian’s wall’ pish, without grasping the rank stupidity involved.  Hadrian’s wall runs right through Newcastle upon Tyne, down the Westgate road, and on to an area called (and here’s a bleeping freaking clue folks!!!!) Wallsend.
    As well as apparently not knowing where Hadrian’s Wall is, these people don’t seem to even know who built the damn thing (hint, it wisnae the Scots), and what it was for (hint, it wisnae to stop people getting intae Scotland). Why on earth would the Scots rebuild a structure designed to restrict their movement by an empire who decided since they couldn’t feasibly colonise us, they’d better keep us oot their land?
    I still don’t understand exactly why leaving a political union with England is exactly the same as erecting physical fortifications. Is the implication that Scotland and England will become like East & West Germany or Israel & Palestine, which were partitions created in the aftermath of full-scale wars as a measure of protection against violent actions? If that’s the case, which side is Scotland meant to be?

  49. AnneDon says:

    I’m not in a political party, but I’m a Yes Scotland campaigner, and have held both Yes Scotland and Labour4Indy banners, and distributed both types of leaflets. We campaign together – and the photographs on FB, where “Scoop” McColm found the undoctored photos, makes it clear this was a joint day of leafleting by Yes and L4I. He removed the captions, that’s all.

  50. AnneDon says:

    I was at a Mayday Party organised for Labour 4 Indy by Celia Fitzgerald on 4th May this year. After listening to Citizen Smart (the smart, principled Smart brother), we all discussed our political history.
    Celia was a lifelong Labour party member who left a few years ago and joined SNP. Once Labour 4 Indy was formed, she left SNP, and rejoined the Labour Party, seeing that there was a way to campaign for independence from within the Labour Party.
    Many people have made the move from Labour to the SNP. (Not too many move back the way, of course.)
    The Labour hierarchy insist the membership should follow them rightwards because they know what’s best. It used to be “one more heave”. Now they’ve been in power and out again, that argument is harder to sustain.
    Claiming that the ends justify the means is difficult enough;  once you’ve forgotten what the ends are supposed to be, that becomes impossible – hence the vituperative nature of the debate from Labour loyalists.

  51. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Labour and the press have just given LFI publicity they could never have dreamed of

  52. Dcanmore says:

    This is absolute deranged pish from the Sunday Mail. So they say the North East is smarting over Amazon locating in Edinburgh instead of Newcastle. Are we suppose to hang our heads in shame, say sorry for wanting employment in Scotland, ‘here you go you deserve those jobs better than we do’. I hate this crap that comes from Labour and their lickspittals. Is Scotland supposed to remain some destitute backwater in poverty but knowing to our comfort that our comrades in the North East can go to a car plant in their thousands to build Nissans for the world. Are we supposed to be happy about that? Top Gear tonight showed the Best of British in the automotive industry by flying the Union flag and saying that ‘Britiain’ is actually doing all right. Of course every single factory they were championing under the flag is based in England.

  53. Barontorc says:

    Dcanmore – I watched the program also and not one mention of the Linwood Rootes factory and the Hillman Imp, which was a brave initiative to bring employment to Scotland as a car manufacturer, but as it turned out, it was an assembly concern building parts from England and was dependent on a dysfunctional supply chain.
    What the program showed me was that the design and vision of what cars should be from UK was abysmal in the extreme – and to think we laughed at Skoda!

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