Scotland

How Scotland's newspapers wrote up White Paper day

There is only one story in town in Wednesday's newspapers as the Scottish government's White Paper on independence dominates the Scottish press.

Pictures of First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon holding the blueprint - actually, it's more of a book - graced many of the front pages, while others went down the cartoon route.

The Scotsman

A full-page Saltire on the front page launched 12 pages of coverage, colour and analysis in the Scotsman. Former SNP candidate George Kerevan called the White Paper "the first fully comprehensive manifesto for political change seen in the UK since, arguable, the Beveridge report". And he praised it for offering a "more rounded vision of a new Scotland". Elsewhere, former Labour MP Brian Wilson questioned the substance of the document, writing "there is much in this White Paper that it is possible to split peas through". But Mr Wilson added that the "one good thing to be said for it is that the target now exists". The paper's leader argued that many questions about independence remained unanswered, but said the document was a "gauntlet laid down to the parties in the Better Together campaign", and urged UK ministers to be more forthcoming with their plans for Scotland if it stays in the UK.

The Herald

The Herald's largely upbeat coverage in both the main paper and a eight-page pull-out will likely provide some cheer for the SNP. The paper's leader said the White Paper had gone some way to "filling the vision vacuum that has thus far dogged the campaign". Elsewhere, Iain Macwhirter said he didn't believe the White Paper would convert many people to independence, but praised it for presenting an "eloquent challenge to the unionist parties". Analysing how the document might affect voter intentions, Professor John Curtice argued that the consequences are uncertain for the SNP, since "neither the UK government nor the EU seem inclined to indicate they will be willing to play ball".

The Sun

In signature style, the Scottish Sun went for a humorous front page, casting Alex Salmond as Michael J Fox looking at his watch with the headline "Eck to the Future", in a retro mock-up of the film poster for Back to the Future. Inside, the coverage was even-handed, and featured articles written by both Alex Salmond and pro-Union Better Together's leader, Alistair Darling. Elsewhere, the paper asked a large group of readers and celebrities for their views on the independence blueprint.

The Daily Record

The Daily Record, which supports the Better Together Campaign, ran "Forget about the price tag?" as its front page headline. The paper's Westminster editor Torcuil Crichton cast Mr Salmond in a biblical light, and said Alex Salmond's "new and old testament" was promising to "move mountains". But he concluded: "If there were contradictions in his theology of independence, the first minister could not hear them." Elsewhere in the paper, columnist Joan McAlpine, an SNP MSP, asked readers: "Do you trust David Cameron and George Osborne, whose economic policies have done less than zero for ordinary people?"

The Times

The headline on the front page of The Times, which featured a picture of the First Minister with his eyes closed, said the White Paper signalled a "bitter UK split". On the opinion pages, Alex Massie called it the "biggest, best, most wide-ranging prospectus yet placed before the Scottish people." He said the challenge now for the SNP was to change the question from "why" to "why not". Elsewhere, an underwhelmed Magnus Linklater said the launch was "intended as an appeal to the head rather than the heart. But somehow, one felt, the heart wasn't in it."

The Daily Mail

The paper's Scottish edition featured a cartoon of Alex Salmond in full Braveheart regalia, with the headline "The Great Pretender". The paper, which is staunchly pro-Union, gave six news pages to coverage of the white paper, and highlighted the financial "costs" of independence, while columnist Jonathan Brocklebank described yesterday's launch as the "grounds for divorce". Elsewhere, the paper's Mac cartoon depicts two elderly ladies speaking with a Church of Scotland minister: "We canna make up oor minds. God promises heaven on Earth, but so does Alex Salmond."

The Press and Journal

While the front page of the paper highlighted an oil-related story - "Salmond vows: No more oil tax raids" - as part of its coverage, this bastion of life in the north east of Scotland focused on the role that Lossiemouth would play in the plans for an independent Scotland's defence force.

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