Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Press and Journal Lost At Sea

I finished today up on Dundee Law, the extinct volcano which towers over the city, giving magnificent views in every direction. Even high up, the mercury was reaching 20C (70F) in the early evening – a minor miracle for Scotland in early April.

The occasion was a flying visit by Alex Salmond, for a photo-opp to unveil the Tayside and Fife breakdown of a recent YouGov poll on the forthcoming Holyrood elections. Even allowing for the enhanced margin of error, it still puts the SNP the proverbial country mile ahead of every other party, including Labour, which once had this part of Scotland in its pocket. I’m not going to post the figures, but let’s just say tomorrow’s Courier should make for interesting reading!

The Courier’s north-eastern stablemate, the venerable Press & Journal, carried a frankly daft and febrile feature today based on a straw poll of local businesses. From a total of 21 responses, most of which represented nothing more than a polite refusal to become involved, the P&J claimed to have found 6 businessmen who had said that independence would represent ‘a social and economic disaster and a colossal backward step’.

Trouble was, most of the six had said nothing of the sort, with at least one complaint about the way their comments had been represented landing on the editor’s desk during the afternoon. Of the most outspoken, Maitland Mackie, the P&J did at least have the grace to point out that he had stood unsuccessfully as a Lib Dem against Mr Salmond as recently as 1999. However, the biggest belly-laugh came in the editorial, where they appeared to suggest equivalence between the business success of Mackie and that of George Mathewson, the former chairman of Edinburgh-based banking giant RBS who recently endorsed the SNP and independence.

Let me say that coming from a farming background myself, I have the utmost respect for the ice cream business Mackie has built up over the years. As the employer of 70+ people, he's without doubt a serious enough figure in his own right. However, surely comparing his achievements to Matthewson’s stewardship of RBS to take it to being the 5th largest bank in the world, really is taking things a bit far.

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