How far will Alex Salmond go in his bid to woo Rupert Murdoch? The Scottish First Minister has met the Sun King or his executives 26 times since taking office and exclusively revealed to the Scottish Sun on Sunday his planned referendum date of 18 October 2014.
Now it's emerged that Murdoch and Salmond also discussed the notable subject of corporation tax at their recent meeting. According to former Murdoch confidant, Andrew Neil, the News Corp head indicted that he could move BSkyB's headquarters to Edinburgh if an independent Scotland slashed corporation tax from 26 per cent (the UK rate) to 10 per cent. In return, Murdoch, who has already tweeted his support for Scottish independence, could swing his tabloids behind Salmond's campaign. Writing in the Daily Mail, Kelvin MacKenzie suggested that the SNP leader was giving "serious thought to the idea".
Given Salmond's record of sycophancy towards Murdoch that is no surprise. Following a meeting with Murdoch in New York in October 2007, he wrote:
I enjoyed our conversation and, as ever, found your views both insightful and stimulating.
On another occasion, after the opening of News International's Eurocentral printing plant in Motherwell, Salmond fawned:
Thank you so much for the invitation to open the splendid new plant at Eurocentral. I hope that News International goes from strength to strength and that your "big bet" in newspapers will pay off.
Salmond was eventually rewarded when the Scottish Sun backed the SNP at the last Holyrood election and when the paper's executives treated him to a curry dinnner after his party's remarkable victory.
For now, with the SNP determined to maintain unity ahead of the referendum, Salmond's behaviour is unlikely to be challenged. But it's unsurprising to learn from the Daily Record that grassroots activists are dismayed by their leader's actions.