29 September 2009

A Good Day for the Daily Record

Why, you might ask, is the following front page in the UK edition of the Sun, displaying the headline Labour's Lost It, good news for the Daily Record, the Scottish Sun's bitter rival, which seems to have been fighting a losing battle against the Murdoch title in recent years?


The Sun in London is now anti-Labour, and pro-Tory.

But who will the Scottish Sun back?

It can't credibly stick with Labour: if it does, the home-grown articles will be pro-Labour but they'll jar against the UK content, which will be looking at things from the opposite angle.

It can't go Tory: the Scottish political landscape at present reflects a Labour-SNP battle. The Tories just aren't at the races, and likely Sun readers in Scotland aren't likely potential Tory voters.

It can't go SNP when just two and a half years ago, it depicted the SNP logo as a hangman's noose.

Now, there's a school of thought that says, "So what?", best outlined by that line in Yes, Minister:

Sun readers don't care who runs the country as long as she's got big tits.

But I don't think that's true. Remember "It was the Sun wot won it?". I don't think that's true either. What The Sun is good at is acting almost as an echo chamber, not instilling readers with its views but giving to them what they want to read. Murdoch tapped into lingering doubts about Neil Kinnock in 1992, he didn't create them. He tapped into the massive unpopularity of the Tories in 1997, he didn't generate it. The public opinion was already there: the Sun merely reflected it and perhaps, at most, pushed a few undecudeds into the popular camp. Why? Because first and foremost, Murdoch likes to make money, and he does this by selling papers. If people don't agree with what's in your papers, they won't buy them. It's a no-brainer, so the Sun will always reflect what Sun readers think, rather than challenge it.

Now, with the UK edition going anti-Labour, it hardly makes sense for the Scottish edition to remain supportive. The editorial team will realise this.

But, of course, the Scottish Sun can't go Tory like the UK edition: it will lose far more readers than it could gain by doing so.

It can't go SNP either: the dyed-in-the-wool Labour voters (they do still exist) will be appalled, and SNP supporters have long memories: they won't be overly thrilled to buy a paper that depicted their party in such a charming way a couple of years ago. Again, it will lose more readers than it could gain.

So where will those readers go? Answer: the paper that hasn't changed its position and still supports the same party as those floating readers now looking for a new paper. The Daily Record.

If the Scottish Sun takes a pro-SNP line, the writers who've been hostile for so long will find themselves in an odd position and the Record could poach some of them. The same editorial, a more popular line-up of writers and columnists. A more attractive paper for some. Result for the Record!

If they go Tory, expect the Record to crank up the small-n nationalism. Scotland's champion, the paper that's still loyal to Labour but still loyal to you. I can see it now. Again, it'll play well with the punters. Still hostile to the Tories, still very much with a clear, Scottish identity but not pro-independence. And a large chunk of the audience that feels the same - a captive audience. Again, result for the Record!

So we'll wait and see how the Sun plays this tomorrow, but I'll bet that it's champagne and cigars at the Record tonight.


Scott said...

You can read the Scottish editorial here


Stuart Winton said...

Well cleary the Scottish Sun is taking the same anti-Labour stance as the London edition, but there's certainly no nod towards the SNP either.

As for the Tories, the Scottish Sun's position is presumably encasulated in the following sentence:

"If David Cameron becomes the next Prime Minister, Scotland needs to make the best of it."

It will probably lean towards the Tories, but with huge caveats to avoid alienating readers.

Stuart Dickson said...

- "If people don't agree with what's in your papers, they won't buy them. It's a no-brainer..."

Has anyone told Johnson Press?

Today's 'Spot the Difference' competition (there are many, eg. the word "immigration" does not appear in the Scottish version):

The Scottish Sun is swithering:

The run-up to the General Election will be the most important chapter in Scotland's recent political history.

The debate starts here.

And it is time for Cameron to come out from behind the rhetoric and show what he will really do for our nation.


But the English Sun has already made its mind up:

- The Sun believes - and prays - that the Conservative leadership can put the great back into Great Britain


Grogipher said...

"Scotland is big enough and grown-up enough to have control over the issues that affect our country."

It's been a while since I agreed with the Sun heh!

Anonymous said...

I seem to recall the Scottish Sun supporting the SNP in the mid-90s. Can't see why that wouldn't happen again. They'll make up some crap excuse, but it won't really matter.

redcliffe62 said...

i agree with you almost completely.

the sun will allegedly fence sit for a while as they cannot risk their circulation dropping too much, as labour voters in scotland buy the record as the sun will be pro tory overall, just as the website is.

the record should state openly that the sun is now a tory paper supporting cameron and his english tory values and invite its readership to come on board.

i do not expect too much more anti labour sentiment in the sun in scotland, as it will cheese off at least half of its readership.
C1, C2, D and E's in the West of Scotland will be suppoting Gordon rather than Dave, although many are more inclined to Alex, well at least the majority of Catholics are. Interesting how that happens eh?

unless the sun has a total website makeover and deletes its pro tory status which is unlikely.
it is only scotland after all!