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The Scotsman and The Daily Record berate Scottish Government over leak on referendum date

By Hamish Mackay

February 28, 2012 | 3 min read

The Scotsman and The Daily Record have berated the Scottish Government over an alleged leak to a new Sunday tabloid on the preferred date for the country’s independence referendum.

The newly-launched Sunday edition of The Scottish Sun carried a front-page splash story claiming the date had been fixed for October 18, 2014.

Declared The Scotsman in a leader article: “Slightly odd is the choice of channel for dispensing this information – a leak to the new Sunday version of The Sun newspaper.

“Of course, since it has been unofficially leaked rather than officially announced, it makes it easier for the First Minister to change the chosen date, should that prove necessary.

“Rather more interestingly than that, handing out goodies and titbits to people whom Mr Salmond wishes to woo is a well-tried tactic from the SNP repertoire of political techniques.”

The Scotsman pointed out that ...”Rupert Murdoch, the proprietor of The Sun and from who all decisions about political positioning flow, could be described as a floating voter.

“The Sun has backed the SNP in the past, and sometimes it has not. And in recent months, Mr Murdoch has indicated his admiration for Mr Salmond’s political skills and some sympathy for the idea Scotland should be independent. So it is easy to see why Mr Salmond would want to curry favour with him.

“But the idea that this will pay huge dividends for the SNP is misleading. The influence that newspapers have over how their readers vote has dwindled in recent years.

“Mr Salmond should also be aware of the problems of getting too cosy with rich and opinionated businessmen – his one-time friend and admirer Donald Trump is now hurling abuse and promising to finance campaigns against wind farms.”

The Daily Record also devoted part of its leader columns to the alleged leak - claiming that revelation of the date hardly squared with reported pledges by Salmond to consult on the referendum.

The Record commented: “... it was more than a little worrying to discover a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch claimed to have confirmation from a Scottish Government source that Saturday, October 18, is being lined up as the day of the big poll.

"This is the same Rupert Murdoch who sits at the top of an empire that controlled the News of the World.

"This was the very newspaper shut down because it had become a toxic brand after the phone hacking scandal.

"Murdoch has taken to praising Salmond on a regular basis. Now he seems to feel he has a say in Scotland's future."

Within the Sun's front page story, headlined 'Day of Destiny' there was no official Government source quoted in revealing the date of 18 October 2014.

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