by Colin Campbell Friday, April 17
THE independence supporting “National” newspaper, pandering to and a platform for the most extreme elements of the nationalist movement, could disappear from the newsstands.
It now carries a daily appeal from its editor for support in its effort to survive the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Calum Baird says newspaper sales across the board have collapsed by as much as 30 per cent, bringing “a deadly threat to our paper’s future”.
The National sold around 8,000 copies before the virus threat struck, but it also has a significant online presence.
Launched after the 2014 referendum, it has been responsible for whipping some of the most extreme nationalists into a frenzy in their determination to break up the UK, by any means necessary.
Its letters pages regularly includes material from contributors which indicates a dislike of “the English” and a near-hatred of those who are opposed to independence and wish to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Since the coronavirus crisis began the National, recognising the UK-wide mood of the times, has toned down its rhetoric and devoted most of its coverage to the virus emergency.
But this week it returned to ugly form in pushing a wilfully divisive agenda. On Tuesday it gave a front page headline to the claim: “UK Govt ‘told PPE firms to prioritise England’”.
That claim has since been discredited. Scotland’s health secretary Jeanne Freeman, along with First Minister Nicola, had expressed concern that care home workers north of the border could be losing out. Ms Freeman later said she accepted and was grateful for Government assurances that this was not the case.
The same edition of the paper led pages with headlines: Is England getting the better business deal?; PPE companies ‘were told only to supply to England’; The Treaty that history, and the English, forgot; and, One day the English will see the PM was a charlatan.
Contributors to the letters pages argued: “Does anyone now doubt that being in the Union is directly responsible for the death of many Scots” and said people who voted Conservative in the December general election “effectively voted for the death of their friends, relatives and neighbours”.
One of the paper’s leading columnists recently referred to Scots opposed to independence as “Unionist stormtroopers”.
As he begs readers for support editor Baird says 500 people have taken out digital subscriptions, but that’s not enough to compensate for the decline in readership.
The National may yet survive to push its toxic agenda. But the possibility exists that the most inflammatory and divisive journal ever to appear in Scotland could be on its deathbed.