THE INIQUITOUS situation whereby 8.4% of our population gets to vote on the future of the other 91.6% has obviously proved to be an irritation for our regional press. Denied a say in the Scottish referendum, they’ve been unable to do what they do best – campaign hard on a local level.
There are some exceptions. I can understand the Welsh newspapers getting involved as they will probably be next in line if the ‘Yes’ vote prevails today. I can also understand the Northern Echo, whose readers are probably living in fear of marauding cattle rustlers coming over the border, coming out in favour of the maintaining the Union. But what’s got to do with the Southern Daily Echo?
I ask because on at least two recent occasions, the Southampton-based title has implored Scots to vote ‘No’ on its front page, even though an unfortunate, inconvenient death obviously cocked up this morning’s design showcase. Now unless there’s something I don’t know about Hampshire (perhaps a secret tunnel running from Basingstoke to Blairgowrie) this English county is about as far away from the fearsome Picts as you could possibly get, so why inflict someone else’s punch-up on the genteel residents of Winchester?
THERE was a story doing the rounds a while ago about an advertising agency which spent several weeks coming up with a 140-character promoted tweet on behalf of a client. I should imagine a similar amount of PR effort went into composing Andy Murray’s deceitful devolution message to his 2.7 million followers late last night.
So without explicitly saying so, Mr Murray, who has no vote because he lives in Surrey, gives the impression that he supports the ‘Yes’ campaign, not because he necessarily agrees with all their motives, but because of the perceived negativity of the ‘No’ campaign. And by timing the tweet to go out at 2am after election reporting restrictions meant that it wouldn’t be broadcast on TV or radio, he denies Alex Salmond a valuable publicity coup while still cementing his public image as a proud Scot. Very, very clever.
IF YOU want a further example of the paranoia surrounding the BBC’s role in the devolution debate, how about the complaint by ‘Yes’ campaigners that the corporation deliberately scheduled an episode of Dad’s Army last Saturday to show Scots in a poor light?
The programme in question featured stereotypical Scot Private Frazier, played by John Laurie, taking over the running of the Warmington-on-Sea platoon only to make a complete mess of things. The Beeb has insisted that they have 80 episodes of the programme which are always shown in order, apart from the odd Christmas-themed show and that there was no political intent in the scheduling.
So we now have Captain Mainwaring lined up in front of the firing squad alongside poor bloody Nick Robinson. To be honest, I’d have been quite impressed if this had been some devious scheme to derail the devolution campaign. Sadly, I don’t think anyone at the BBC is smart enough to have come up with it.
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan