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The National Newspaper Launches In Scotland - Cue New Conspiracy Theories

24/11/2014 16:41 GMT | Updated 25/11/2014 10:59 GMT

Pro-independence Scots who claim a biased media convinced the country to vote No in the referendum have reason to again step inside their local newsagent.

Insisting it will not simply be a mouthpiece for the Scottish National Party, despite the SNP giving it its backing - and the fact details of the paper were announced at a party event - The National has gone on sale for a pilot period of five days.

Even new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was photographed with her copy of the first edition of The National, which came out today.

the national

The first edition

Published by Newsquest, which already publishes the Herald, the Sunday Herald and the Evening Times in Scotland, the newspaper is edited by Richard Walker, who also edits the only paper to back independence in the referendum, The Sunday Herald, which recorded a 111% year-on-year increase in its sales in the week of the September referendum.

Commentators said The National was effectively a daily version of it, seeking to capitalise on its sales boost with a strong pro-independence line. It is the first new newspaper for the country since The Metro launched its Scottish edition.

But in true Scottish Independence debate-style, the sale of the newspaper immediately set off a series of conspiracy theories.

Sainsburys stores in Scotland are reportedly not selling the paper, prompting people to accuse the story of trying to put down the independence movement.

But the actual explanation was nowhere near as dramatic - there was a delay that meant the paper was not in the store's system.

The National's editorial says the paper "will be critical where appropriate and complimentary when merited" of the SNP and the government it leads.

The newspaper costs 50p and the masthead describes it as "the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland."

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The front page headline of The National's first edition reads "Give Scotland the powers to cut child poverty," focusing on a plea from charities to the Smith Commission on further devolution, to transfer welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The editorial says: "During the referendum campaign it became clear that there is a democratic deficit in terms of the Scottish media.

"In a population of some five million, with 45% of those eligible voting Yes, only one newspaper - our sister paper, the Sunday Herald - spoke out in favour of independence. That seems to us unfair.

"The raison d'etre of The National is to redress the balance and cogently to argue the case for independence."

Alan Roden, the political editor of the Scottish Daily Mail, said it was too small for the 50p cover price and had "rehashed SNP press releases".

Spectator associate editor Damian Thompson said the fact it was announced to a crowd of government supporters was "creepy".

The Guardian quoted a source who claimed the paper was similar to The i, the tabloid spinoff of The Independent that has relatively little of its own staff and relies on its the larger paper for content.

“The timing is good, the SNP has just passed 80,000 members and Nicola Sturgeon has just been named as the first female first minister,” the source told the paper.

“They are riding a tidal wave of interest in nationalism. And national daily newspaper launches are very rare, even if it is just Scotland, even as a pilot it is a big deal.”

Walker told BBC Radio Scotland that no extra permanent staff were taken on to produce the paper during the trial period.

He added: "Once that trial is over and, as I'm confident will happen, we continue, then yeah, we'll be employing new people."

Many Yes voters, calling themselves the 45%, after the proportion who voted for independence, clubbed together after the vote and promptly announced brands they would boycott for interfering in the result, including media outlets like the BBC.

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