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The Sunday Telegraph's 'badly thought through' cover to Susan Boyle's opinion in The Mirror - Chris Boffey reviews the Sunday papers' referendum coverage

Chris Boffey is a former news editor of the Observer, Sunday Telegraph and the Mirror and onetime special adviser to the Labour government.

This week, in the lead up to Thursday's referendum Chris Boffey, former Fleet Street news editor and The Drum columnist, will be reviewing the newpaper coverage as Scots head to the polls.

It was not quite up there with "Gotcha" the infamous Sun headline when the General Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine during the Falklands war but the Sunday Telegraph front page lead and picture in the early editions was badly thought through and lacked humanity

A picture of a union-flag draped coffin being carried by kilted soldiers and the headline "Our soldiers lost their lives trying to preserve the UK. What would their families say?"

The Telegraph justified the coverage by quoting the former head of the armed forces Lord Dannatt who said up to 100 Scottish died in Northern Ireland fighting to save the union.

Close reading of the caption below the picture showed the insensitivity of the Telegraph. The coffin carried the remains of a soldier killed In Afghanistan, not saving the union. However, because of the the beheading of a British citizen in Iraq, the splash, maybe fortunately, for the Telegraph did not last the night. Mathew D'Ancona in his column was more perceptive and less febrile.

The Sunday Times was sober in previewing David Cameron's speech in Aberdeen tomorrow when he will say their is no going back on the vote but then in classic Sunday paper hyperbole tried to bring Prince Harry into the debate when quoting his view of the Invictus games as being a great British institution. His view that they could be next held in Glasgow was for the Sunday Times proof that he supported the no campaign.

Getting close to the Sunday Telegraph for sheer one sidedness was the Mail on Sunday with a raft of stories and pictures portraying a UK without Scotland. There were flags without the saltire, the historian Andrew Roberts talking of Scotland in meltdown, and a possible run on the banks as people scurried to hit the ATMs. Strangely, this contrasted with a carefully constructed leader that laid out the options for Scotland and then politely asked the Scots to stay part of the UK.

The Observer, my last paper, went for the factual, quoting an optimistic Alistair Darling saying the no vote had won and backing it up with its own poll which gave the no camp a 53 per cent to 47 per cent lead. A classic Observer leader fudge, "on one hand, and on the other" comes down firmly on the fence saying that whatever happens Scotland will never be the same.

The Independent on Sunday had a powerful early editions front page with Darling and Alex Salmond head to head and then we move on to the silliness of the Sunday Express quoting Deacon Blue's Ricky Ross on why yes should win and the Sunday Mirror getting Susan Boyle, the well-known political pundit, to give her view that Scotland should not vote to leave.

The Sun on Sunday goes for Aberdeen-born Michael Gove calling for the Scotland to stand firm with the rest of the country alongside the SNP's Angus McNeil saying the opposite.

All in all quite predictable and quite rightly did not last the night as the main story once news was revealed of the dreadful beheading in Iraq.

Former Sunday Mail editor, Noel Young, has also looked at how the Scottish papers covered the referendum in today's Sunday editions.