With the print editions of daily and weekly newspapers closing down all across the country, it was very surprising to see a new daily paper being launched last week. The National is printed in Glasgow and is aimed at the 45 per cent of Scots who voted “yes” in September’s Independence Referendum.
Unsurprisingly, the publication has drawn criticism from other media outlets, with the Daily Telegraph dismissing it as little more that an SNP propaganda sheet. That does seem a bit rich given that Alan Cochrane, the Telegraph’s Scottish editor, has just published a book titled Alex-Alex Salmond – My Part in his Downfall. Cochrane uses the book to boast about how his advice to David Cameron, given over dinners of venison and burgundy, was crucial in saving the Union.
Incidentally, reports of Salmond’s “downfall” may be a touch premature. After the May 2015 General Election Salmond seems certain to be a Westminster MP and, if the opinion polls are to be believed, could well be the leader of an SNP group which finds itself holding the balance of power in a hung parliament.
But back to The National. The paper is published by Newsquest, the UK branch of giant US publishing house Gannett. It does seem unlikely to me that Newsquest have decided to publish The National as a political gesture. It is far more likely to be a hard headed business decision; they clearly feel that there is a gap in the market which other papers are not filling.
Most of the UK’s national daily papers continue to support one of the two main parties, despite all the evidence that the electorate are deserting the Conservatives and Labour in favour of alternatives such as UKIP, The Green Party and the SNP. Who knows, if The National is a success it may encourage other publishers to launch newspapers aimed at UKIP or Green supporters? It will be interesting to see what develops.