Newspapers in Scotland are slowly coming off the fence ahead of Thursday’s independence vote – with two more opting to say ‘No’ to breaking up the United Kingdom.
The Sunday Post newspaper, one of the country’s biggest titles with a circulation of 161,000, believes they are too many risks in following the ‘home alone’ path.
It has urged readers to stay loyal to the union in Thursday’s referendum vote, following the lead of The Scotsman which declared for the no camp last week.
And Glasgow-based daily The Herald today came down on the side of the no camp, saying it backed staying in the UK so long as there is far-reaching further devolution.
In addition the Trinity Mirror-owned Daily Record today published a front page declaration from the three main UK party leaders promising Scotland wide-ranging new powers and guaranteed funding in the event of a no vote.
Only one paper – the Herald’s Sudnay stablemate the Sunday Herald – has bucked the trend and since early May urged its readers to vote ‘Yes’. The bonus for the publication has seen ABC year-on-year sales increase with monthly rises of up to 25pc.
Despite Scotland’s “genuine disillusionment with Westminster”, many of the big titles – including the Daily Record, Aberdeen Press & Journal and Dundee Courier – have sat on the fence, pursuing a neutral stance in the interests of editorial impartiality.
The Sunday Post finally came clean on the issue with its audience by announcing it was” as Scottish as haggis and Maw Broon’s tartan shawl.”
It said in a leader column: “It would be wrong for us not to offer an opinion when we have been so immersed in the debate and analysis. In doing this we hope that, if nothing else, our readers will appreciate that we can’t just sit on the fence.
“The Sunday Post believes the case for independence, at this time, is unproven and carries too many risks,” but not before telling readers it understand why many of the people of Scotland are convinced “going it alone is the best way forward.”
Meanwhile the Sunday Herald – the lone voice in the battle for the heart and soul of a solo Scotland – gave its readers an unequivocal image of the way ahead.
The paper produced a wrap round ‘Saltire Selfie’ made up of hundreds of pictures submitted by readers – and then produced a second ‘front page’ inside.
Neil Mackay, the paper’s news editor, said he was overwhelmed with the response from readers.
“I think it’s amazing to get that kind of feedback from readers and show that our journalism has had a genuine positive effect,” he added.
“I think a lot of people have felt confused by the way the media’s handled this debate, and I’m glad they feel we’ve done our bit for them.”
Sunday Herald editor Richard Walker explained how the paper decided as early as May it was right to back the Scottish independence route.
He said a majority of the paper’s main voices had either started as supporters of independence or had moved towards that view.
“I moved towards that view, I didn’t start out supporting independence, it took me a long while to realise that was the best future for the country,” he added.
“When it became obvious to me that the main opinion in the newspaper was in support of independence I thought it only honest to tell our readers that that’s where we were coming from.”