The pro-Scottish independence paper launched this week. Photo: Getty
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Scotland's new pro-independence newspaper deserves its place

Avowedly pro-independence, The National hit the streets on Monday and sold out in a matter of hours.

Something highly unusual happened this week in Scotland – a new daily newspaper was launched on an unsuspecting public.

Avowedly pro-independence, The National hit the streets on Monday and sold out in a matter of hours; soon prompting complaints that it was as tough to track down as the proverbial hens teeth.

A hard copy of the first edition (sold for 50p) can still be bought - but only if you're prepared to fork out at least a tenner for it on eBay. In an era where papers are cutting staff and resources like there’s literally no tomorrow this is pretty stunning stuff.

By any measure then the first few days of this fledgling publication have been an enormous success. There are, of course, good reasons why it has been shifting up to 60,000 copies per day.

Post-referendum things remain very much up in the air. Politically there's plenty of unfinished business, not least the thorny issue of further devolved powers to Holyrood and an ongoing Labour leadership election.

Then there's the media. For those who didn't manage to follow every cough of the independence campaign it’s worth reflecting on the deep grassroots unease – nay, outright anger – on the Yes side about what is seen as an overwhelmingly pro-Union press.

Just one newspaper – The National’s sister paper, the Sunday Herald – came out in favour of independence. Others such as The Scotsman and the traditionally Labour-supporting Daily Record, were never likely to dive headlong into the Yes camp.

That meant the most pronounced and resolutely pro-indy voices were to be found away from the mainstream media on websites such as Wings Over Scotland and Bella Caledonia.

The Sunday Herald certainly did rather well on the back of its independence declaration, increasing by more than a hundred per cent its year on year circulation.

Such numbers are gold dust in these thin times and it can hardly be denied that The National is as much an economic as a democratic venture. Its publishers – Newsquest – have made it clear this is no more than a five-day pilot. It's sink or swim right now, this week.

Wisely The National's editor, Richard Walker, has said he's no knowledge of sales targets and even if he did would not spell out what they are.

Frankly has no need to take any hostages to fortune for his success with the Sunday Herald is evidence enough that the new paper stands more than a fighting chance.

It has a clear raison d’etre and will be welcomed by a large number of the 1.6 million Scots who voted Yes, a fair number of potential readers.

Angela Haggerty is editor of CommonSpace – a digital news and social networking service funded by the pro-independence Common Weal think-tank. She views the advent of The National as a "welcome development” and "certainly a step towards changing a lack of balance in the newspaper industry.”

That may depend on where you stand however, with some pro-Union journalists already gleefully describing the new venture as "McPravda".

A cheap shot this may be, but still, the last thing any newspaper would wish to be is a free-sheet for the party of government.

Doubtless the SNP will be rubbing its hands at the emergence of The National. For its part, its journalists will need to be prepared to hold the Holyrood government and Parliament to account as much as it would do the Smith Commission over devolution.

Indeed there is already some evidence of wider horizons, with child poverty and social inequality featuring as front-page leads.

As Haggerty rightly points out "at the very least the Scottish media has some excitement in it again. It has been a long time coming."

So let's have no knocking of The National, a serious voice reflecting a large chunk of public opinion and the changing landscape of Scottish politics. It deserves to be taken seriously.

Douglas Beattie is a journalist, author of The Rivals Game, Happy Birthday Dear Celtic, and The Pocket Book of Celtic, and a Labour Councillor based in London. He grew up in Scotland

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19 things wrong with Daniel Hannan’s tweet about the women’s march

The crackpot and these women.

Since Daniel Hannan, a formerly obscure MEP, has emerged as the anointed intellectual of the Brexit elite, The Staggers is charting his ascendancy...

State of this:

I mean honestly, where do you even begin? Even by Daniel’s rarefied standards of idiocy, this is a stonker. How is it stupid? Let me count the ways.

1. “Our female head of government” implies the existence of “their female head of government”. Which is odd, because the tweet is clearly aimed at Hillary Clinton, who isn’t anybody’s head of government.

Way to kick someone when they’re down, Dan. What next? “So pleased that my daughter received a wide selection of Christmas presents, unlike those of certain families”?

2. I dunno, I’m no expert, but it’s just possible that there are reasons why so few women make it to the top of politics which don’t have anything to do with how marvellous Britain is.

3. Hillary Clinton was not “the last guy’s wife”. You can tell this, because she was not married to Barack Obama, whose wife is called Michelle. (Honestly, Daniel, I’m surprised you haven’t spotted the memes.)

4. She wasn’t married to the guy before him, come to that. Her husband stopped being president 16 years ago, since when she’s been elected to the Senate twice and served four years as Secretary of State.

5. I’m sure Hillary would love to have been able to run for president without reference to her husband – for the first few years of her marriage, indeed, she continued to call herself Hillary Rodham. But in 1980 Republican Frank White defeated Bill Clinton’s campaign to be re-elected as govenor of Arkansas, in part by mercilessly attacking the fact his wife still used her maiden name.

In the three decades since, Hillary has moved from Hillary Rodham, to Hillary Rodham Clinton, to Hillary Clinton. You can see this as a cynical response to conservative pressure, if you so wish – but let’s not pretend there was no pressure to subsume her political identity into that of her husband, eh? And let’s not forget that it came from your side of the fence, eh, Dan?

6. Also, let’s not forget that the woman you’re subtweeting is a hugely intelligent former senator and secretary of state, who Barack Obama described as the most qualified person ever to run for president. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be so patronising as to imply that the only qualification she had was her husband, now, would you?

7. I’d love to know what qualifications Dan thinks are sufficient to become US president, and whether he believes a real estate mogul with an inherited fortune and a reality TV show has them.

8. Hillary Clinton got nearly 3m more votes than Donald Trump, by the way.

9. More votes than any white man who has ever run for president, in fact.

10. Certainly a lot more votes than Theresa May, who has never faced a general election as prime minister and became leader of the government by default after the only other candidate left in the race dropped out. Under the rules of British politics this is as legitimate a way of becoming PM as any, of course, I’m just not sure how winning a Tory leadership contest by default means she “ran in her own right” in a way that Hillary Clinton did not.

11. Incidentally, here’s a video of Daniel Hannan demanding Gordon Brown call an early election in 2009 on the grounds that “parliament has lost the moral mandate to carry on”.

So perhaps expecting him to understand how the British constitution works is expecting too much.

12. Why the hell is Hannan sniping at Hillary Clinton, who is not US president, when the man who is the new US president has, in three days, come out against press freedom, basic mathematics and objective reality? Sorry, I’m not moving past that.

13. Notice the way the tweet says that our “head of government” got there on merit. That’s because our “head of state” got the job because her great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandmother happened to be a protestant in 1701 and her uncle wanted to marry a divorcee – all of which makes it a bit difficult to say that our head of government “ran in her own right”.  But hey, whatever makes you happy.

14. Is Daniel calling the US a banana republic? I mean, it’s a position I have some sympathy with in this particular week, but it’s an odd fit with the way he gets all hot and bothered whenever someone starts talking about the English-speaking peoples.

15. Incidentally, he stole this tweet from his 14-year-old daughter:

16. Who talks, oddly, like a 45-year-old man.

17. And didn’t even credit her! It’s exactly this sort of thing which stops women making it to the top rank of politics, Daniel.

18. He tweeted that at 6.40am the day after the march. Like, he spent the whole of Saturday trying to come up with a zinger, and then eventually woke up early on the Sunday unable to resist stealing a line from his teenage daughter. One of the great orators of our age, ladies and gentlemen.

19. He thinks he can tweet this stuff without people pointing and laughing at him.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Daniel Hannan. He is on Twitter, almost continously, as @JonnElledge.