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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Scotsman newspaper is facing further ridicule today after publishing yet another article attacking First Minister Alex Salmond after HMRC failed to obtain Corporation Tax payments from online retailer Amazon.
 
The paper’s editor was forced to defend the publication yesterday after readers derided an article from journalist Andrew Whitaker that contained attacks on Mr Salmond for providing the company with £10 million of funding in order to secure investment that created thousands of jobs.

Friday’s leading article followed revelations that the Westminster controlled HMRC had allowed a loophole to remain that resulted in the company paying little or no corporation tax in the UK despite carrying out business worth billions.

However, despite Editor Kenny Farquharson describing the Labour and Lib Dem condemnation contained in Friday’s article as “inexplicable”, the paper has claimed in today’s edition that the First Minister is now “under mounting pressure to come clean”.

The “mounting pressure” appears to be based on quotes from three opposition politicians including Labour MSP John Park.

The follow up article contains several quotes from opposition politicians including Mr Park, Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie and Green MSP Patrick Harvie who have demanded to know whether the global giant would face paying corporation tax in an independent Scotland.

The decision by the Scotsman newspaper to give the attacks such a high profile has bewildered Nationalists and Unionists alike.

The articles have resulted in unexpected support for the First Minister from Professor Brian Ashcroft who said emphatically that there should be no criticism of the Scottish Government over the £10 investment.

The academic said: “To criticise Amazon’s business model and the quality of the jobs provided as some have done is again a red herring. The critical question is what would the counterfactual have been to the investments? In non jargon: what would have happened if the Scottish government had not paid the £10.6 million to Amazon in grants?”

Professor Ashcroft’s comments were linked in a re-tweet by former Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander, the academic’s wife.

Responding to the attacks, a spokesperson for the First Minister said:

“One of the many advantages of an independent Scotland is that a competitive corporation tax regime will make it more attractive for companies to route activity through Scotland, and thus tax revenue.  Under devolution, the Scottish Parliament doesn’t get a penny of the corporation tax raised in Scotland.

“Last year, we published a report showing how having a 3 per cent lower rate than the rest of the UK would boost output and create 27,000 in the medium to longer term.

“When their recruitment is complete, Amazon will have up to 5,000 jobs in Scotland at peak periods – surely no opposition politician in Scotland is seriously suggesting that we should not have that employment.  Indeed, when Amazon invested in Scotland last year, there were howls of protest from politicians in North East England that they had lost out.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting small business, and our Small Business Bonus Scheme (SBBS) is just one example of how we are making a positive difference for small businesses across Scotland.

“The Small Business Bonus and other reliefs combined give Scottish business a competitive edge – over 85,000 properties now benefit from the Small Business Bonus as part of the most generous package of reliefs anywhere in the UK – a figure which represents two out of every five commercial premises in Scotland, and 54 per cent of shops in Scotland benefit from the small bonus scheme.”

Speaking to the Scotsman, John Park said: “The SNP say that we’re going to be independent soon after 2016, so would Amazon start paying the tax then. The SNP can’t on the one hand say that they want Scandinavian public services and then back a regressive corporation tax system that allows companies like Amazon to get away without paying anything.

“We now need to know what discussions Alex Salmond has had with Amazon about what its tax status would be in an independent Scotland or if corporation tax powers were to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.”

The row over the articles follow questions over an online poll carried out by the newspaper yesterday in which thousands of ‘votes’ were apparently recorded in the early hours of Friday for a pro-Unionist stance on the date for an independence referendum.

The ‘votes’ leapt by several thousand and halted with support for an early referendum running at around 70%, close to the claims by the UK Government following their referendum consultation. 

However the numbers mysteriously began to level off when suspicions were raised from scores of online readers who called into question the sudden surge.

Comments  

 
# Am Fògarrach 2012-04-07 04:40
The “mounting pressure” is really vicious and stupid since the Scottish Government can do absolutely nothing about this until Scotland either gets full tax powers or becomes independent, whichever happens first. Lots of trolls on the Scotsman article, but post #23 by ‘Huntly Loon’ is outstanding in the midst of all this keech. #27 by Castaway is also very good.
 
 
# Adrian B 2012-04-07 04:56
For those of you not familiar with Professor Brian Ashcroft, his wife is former labour leader (of MSPs anyway) Wendy Alexander.

Here is an interesting link to follow up on

macnumpty.blogspot.co.uk/…/…
 
 
# Dougie Douglas 2012-04-07 04:58
The Scotsman’s credibility evaporated many years ago.

They seem to be having a competition with the BBC to see who can publish the most mince about Salmond/SNP/Scottish Government/Scotland.

The BBC are still viewed by the public at large as a credible news source (mistakenly). The Scotsman has a readership that is so small that the nonsense that they print is irrelevant. The comment boards on the Scotsman are the natural habitat of the lesser spotted CyberBritNat – venomous, nasty raptors that jump on anything and spin like mad.

The BBC’s propoganda is far more subtle and effective. The Scotsman is best ignored.

But you all knew all of that anyway.
 
 
# Jim Johnston 2012-04-07 08:44
Correct Dougie, what credibility has the Scotsman had for the last decade ?

The frantic desperation of the anti-Independence FUD numpties becomes more bizarre by the day.
 
 
# admiral 2012-04-07 07:28
Two points:

1. The Scotsman has long since ceased to be a “newspaper” and has long since ceased to have any journalistic integrity whatsoever.

2. More to the point, what would Labour do NOW if it were the UK Government? What will the ConDems do NOW to close these tax loopholes, they are the UK Government? What did Labour do in their 13 years in government up to 2010 to close these tax loopholes? What would these parties do as the first Scottish Government after independence?
 
 
# Robert Louis 2012-04-07 07:44
You make a very good point. Corporate tax is completely under the control of Westminster, so what is the current Tory Libdem London Government doing to close the loopholes?? What did Labour do with 13 years in power in London to close the loopholes??

The Westminster Government has the power RIGHT NOW to rectify the situation, whereas the Scottish Government doesn’t.

These are the questions that Scottish journalists should be asking, instead of trying to pretend that somehow the Scottish Government which has NO control of corporation tax is responsible.
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-04-07 08:47
RL – Amazon is perhaps only the tip of an iceberg. Real heavy-weight stuff is already well entrenched overseas tax-wise. Take a look at www.ukuncut.org.uk
 
 
# Robert Louis 2012-04-07 07:35
The laughingly titled “Scotsman’ newspaper, ceased serving the people of Scotland in any meaningful way many years ago. It is actually sad to see it fall so much, yet fall it certainly has. Their was a time when even I would look at the ‘Scotsman’ to see what was happening in Scotland, but now I regard it as misleading and not objective. It could, with the right approach, be the ‘GO TO’ place for the whole world regarding Scotland and the constitutional debate, yet it seems intent on marginalising itself, with its parochial lop-sided, frankly stupid political coverage.

The real difficulty Scottish newspapers such as that have, and it is not alone, is that for years it has been comfortable feeding the Brit Nat narrative, serving up placating cap doffing Scot-Britannia pap to the masses, but the mood and politics of the people of Scotland have moved on, substantially. This constant and frankly absurd ‘SNP accused’ rubbish which comes from them no longer makes any sense. This particular story about Amazon, is just dumb, plain and simple, it really doesn’t require more thought than that.

My question on this, is do the many global shareholders of Johnstone press realise that in some way, some might think their investment is being used to ‘subsidise’ what can only be describe as ‘propaganda’. You know if you make an investment in a media group, you expect its management to maximise profitability, but by alienating its readership through the promulgation of an outdated political agenda, is the ‘Scotsman’ actually damaging itself, purely to maintain a particular political stance that fell out of fashion in 2007? It’s an important question.

My other question is, do the ordinary shareholders understand the situation??

Surely there must be some good, reasoned, intelligent journalists in Scotland? Or am I mistaken – is this guff from the laughingly titled ‘Scotsman’ newspaper the best we can expect?

Just as a side note, press regulation in Scotland is wholly within the remit of the Scottish parliament.
 
 
# Aplinal 2012-04-07 07:47
RL: I would agree with you. About the remit of the Scottish Government to regulate the press, I thought that that was a reserved matter, but nonetheless, can you imagine the reaction in the rest of the MSM if the Scottish government DID try to do something? And what actually could they do that would be effective, but at the same time resist cries of “State interference in free speech!” etc.?

They have to play the game, as there is little or no other media actually on their side. It’s a shame there is not the time (or indeed the benefactor available) to launch a genuinely neutral paper. It would be nice to have SOMEONE simply present facts and evidence on the most important political decision this country will ever make.

Those of us who regularly contribute and read this web-paper (if that is the correct description?) all understand the deficiencies in the MSM in Scotland, and we look elsewhere than the MSM/BBC in Scotland for information and facts, but I suspect that most Scots do not. Simply ignoring the MSM will not win over the opinion and votes of those in the ‘undecided’ category.

Somehow,we have to get a message out there. That is the challenge.
 
 
# Robert Louis 2012-04-07 08:05
I agree, that were the Scottish Government to intervene or ‘do something’, then the accusations would fly thick and fast. I’m not suggesting that.

I just find it depressing that in Scotland right now, aside from the likes of Newsnet Scotland, there is currently no mainstream media organisation actually presenting anything remotely like the FACTUAL truth regarding either the Scottish Government or the referendum.

A nation ruled by cringing forelock tugging Scots, who wish to undermine their own Government and democratic debate. It is utterly, utterly pathetic.

They call the unfinished ‘parthenon’ on top of Calton Hill, Edinburgh’s Disgrace. Well I would argue their is a new Edinburgh’s disgrace – The ‘Scotsman’ newspaper.

I wouldn’t even wrap chips in it.
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-04-07 08:38
The question is why are the JP shareholders, global or otherwise putting up with such a dive in their investment? Plunging from £3.50 to £0.06 is of RBS proportions.

Could it be the anti-independence line absurdly pushed by this Hootsman is actually being bankrolled with that intent. In other words – just who is losing money to keep it pushing this line and losing readership, advertising and credibility by the day as it does so?

Dark forces writ large indeed?
 
 
# Stevie Cosmic 2012-04-07 10:49
Totally agree. This bog roll is a complete joke masquerading as a business. It must be losing money hand over fist. If you look at the facts of the matter, the ridiculous stories, the rigged polls, the comments sections occupied 24/7 by the same people who manage to comment on stories before they go live…..the only conclusion one can reasonably come to is that The Scotsman is a front for something else, or at the very least, is being bank-rolled by, quite probably, the Labour Party.

Aren’t shareholders’ identities a matter of public record? Cant anyone do some digging to find out if everything is indeed legit?
 
 
# weegie38 2012-04-07 08:49
Quoting Robert Louis:
My question on this, is do the many global shareholders of Johnstone press realise that in some way, some might think their investment is being used to ‘subsidise’ what can only be describe as ‘propaganda’. You know if you make an investment in a media group, you expect its management to maximise profitability, but by alienating its readership through the promulgation of an outdated political agenda, is the ‘Scotsman’ actually damaging itself, purely to maintain a particular political stance that fell out of fashion in 2007? It’s an important question.

My other question is, do the ordinary shareholders understand the situation??



I’ve often wondered why no shareholder brings up the fundamental commercial dishonesty of the Scotsman’s political stance.

Under current conditions, the Scotsman encourages competition from British newspapers by insisting that Scotland remain part of the UK. This is reflected in its sales in comparison to the “newspapers of record” of other small nations in Europe. Its sales are dwarfed by Norway’s Aftenposten (250,000), Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten (120,000), and the Irish Times (100,000).

It’s high time there was shareholder pressure. The Scotsman is a business as well as a newspaper: currently it is not being run as either an honest business or an honest paper, and its circulation reflects this.
 
 
# McHaggis 2012-04-07 10:53
Here’s a thought…

The newspaper doesn’t solely rely on sales, but advertising revenue (which is growing online).

By publishing so many absurd stories, they actually increase online advertising revenue. The more bizarre the story, the more page hits there are (proven by the most stupid threads going on for 6 or 7 hundred comments.

So, a way to increase online advertising revenue is simply to keep on publishing more and more SNP accused nonsense.

There is a tipping point though. I used to read and comment almost daily on the stories, now a I seldom do either.
 
 
# UpSpake 2012-04-07 08:00
The disgraceful way that the BBC often treat the majority administration of the Scots Parliament beggars belief. Time after time the SNP are marginalised and time after time, the SNP put themsleves up to be marginalised. Often I thing that their media savy is poor to non-existent and I have said so here.
As far as the MSM is concerned and in particular the Scotsman, simply refuse to gove them an interview, marginalise them in return. Sure they might ratchet up the attacks against the SNP but they have only two choices here, engage or die.
When circulation of the Scotsperson drops below 25000, I will cease commenting or even entertaining them in any way. They will have marginalised themselves out of existence. Sad, but I won;t miss them any more than I would miss BBC Scotland if it ceased broadcasting tomorrow.
 
 
# Briggs 2012-04-07 08:13
‘Time after time the SNP are marginalised and time after time, the SNP put themsleves up to be marginalised’

Actually I think the SNP are playing the game very well.

They don’t produce knee jerk responses, but wisely consider carefully before speaking.

A few on here could learn by their example?
 
 
# weegie38 2012-04-07 08:39
Quoting Briggs:
‘Time after time the SNP are marginalised and time after time, the SNP put themsleves up to be marginalised’

Actually I think the SNP are playing the game very well.

They don’t produce knee jerk responses, but wisely consider carefully before speaking.

A few on here could learn by their example?



Absolutely.

People should remember the Scotsman’s influence on Scottish public opinion is almost non-existent now. It sells under 40,000 copies, so an optimistic estimate of the numbers actually reading the thing is going to be around 100,000 – 2% of the Scottish population. And even then, of course, that influence is not going to be universal: I know several folk who’ve become more sympathetic to the SNP thanks to the Scotman’s ridiculously over-the-top bias, but who still buy the paper.
 
 
# gus1940 2012-04-07 09:01
How many of the few remaining purchasers of The Scotsman only do so to access the Death Notices on which they have a monopoly? I may seem morbid to make that statement but having reached an age when contemporaries have started falling by the wayside how else does one find out about the deaths of those with which one has lost touch.

If only some well meaning business or individual could extract the Death Notices form various papers and publish them on-line they would be providing a valuable service while at the same time hastening the long overdue death of The Scotsman.

I can’t see how individual papers have any copyright over what is after all paid advertising – copyright, if any, surely would lie with relatives, Funeral Directors or Solicitors.
 
 
# tartanfever 2012-04-07 09:35
Spot on Gus – my parents only buy it for that reason and the same with their friends, once that generation passes then the circulation numbers will plummet
 
 
# Barontorc 2012-04-07 08:41
Briggs – 99% correct – there certainly have been a few banana skins recently. Live and learn well has to be the motto!
 
 
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-04-07 08:44
The words ‘Scotsman’ and ‘credibility’ in the same sentence just has to be an oxymoron.
 
 
# Ready to Start 2012-04-07 09:06
One ray of sunshine in the Hootsman.

HE former Scottish Labour MP Dennis Canavan has said he will back a “yes” vote in the independence referendum and has offered to campaign alongside the SNP in support of breaking away from the UK.

Mr Canavan, who was expelled from Labour after 26 years as an MP, also launched a strongly worded attack on his former party, accusing it of promoting the “preservation of the union ahead of social justice”.
 
 
# RTP 2012-04-07 09:13
Scottish independence: Dennis Canavan offers to campaign with SNP

This is a better story in the Scotrag.
 
 
# Ready to Start 2012-04-07 09:14
Apart from all the jobs Amazon brings they are by far the Royal Mail’s largest customer.
 
 
# J Wil 2012-04-07 09:21
As a demonstration of how the Scotsman is clutching at straws, as far as circulkation goes, you only have to note the number of enticements it puts out, like maps and DVDs to get people to buy the paper. Also the fact that they give away copies at the entrances to retail outlets such as Dobbies Garden Centres. Please buy our paper it is saying.
 
 
# clootie 2012-04-07 09:41
Way O/T

Latest response from BBC on my complaint regarding the inability to comment on BBC political Bloggs. The Trust passed it to the BBC Complaints

Reference CAS-1359584-JJ4D37

Thanks for contacting the BBC Trust. Your correspondence has been passed to us by the BBC Trust as it relates to matters which, in the first instance, are the responsibility of the BBC’s management. Under the BBC’s Royal Charter, the Trust has the distinct role of setting high-level strategic and editorial frameworks, but responsibility for day to day decisions within them rests with BBC management, so your correspondence has therefore been forwarded to us to respond to. I apologise for the subsequent slight delay in replying.

Your comments were passed to the Head of News, who has asked that I forward his response as follows:

“Thank you for your comments.

Occasionally, we receive complaints like yours, suggesting that our coverage, a presenter, correspondent or reporter favours, or is biased against, a particular political party. Our correspondents and reporting staff are acutely aware of their need to be impartial and unbiased, whilst covering highly contentious areas of debate and dispute between political opponents. They are highly professional and ask difficult questions of all the political parties. I can assure you that BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs output does not take any position which favours any political party. Our political coverage is impartial and rigorously challenges all the main parties.

Naturally, as governments are in the key decision making positions, our scrutiny of their actions is prominent on our output. This applies to the UK Government at Westminster and to the Scottish Government at Holyrood. We are in constant dialogue with Scotland’s political parties on matters concerning our coverage. They may question the way that we have reported an issue, or the way that we have questioned them, but they do not suggest that our coverage, presenters or reporters are biased.

On the issue of the online correspondent pages, the decision to change the operating model was taken for editorial reasons, to offer us greater flexibility and adaptability in the way that we use our resources. We are sorry if some online users do not agree with our decision to reduce the number of occasions on which comments to the two correspondent pages can be offered, but we do hope that our decision will result in a better service overall to Licence payers in Scotland.

I hope this response helps to allay your concerns.”

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to contact us.

Details of the BBC complaints process are available online at www.bbc.co.uk/…/handle.shtml.

Kind Regards

Lucia Fortucci

BBC Audience Services

www.bbc.co.uk/faq

NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.
 
 
# Diabloandco 2012-04-07 10:18
Same for me Clootie.

“On the issue of the online correspondent pages, the decision to change the operating model was taken for editorial reasons, to offer us greater flexibility and adaptability in the way that we use our resources. We are sorry if some online users do not agree with our decision to reduce the number of occasions on which comments to the two correspondent pages can be offered, but we do hope that our decision will result in a better service overall to Licence payers in Scotland.”
but that piece of gobbledygook requires some explaining!
 
 
# BillDunblane 2012-04-07 10:32
Aye, rearrange these words into a well known phrase or saying……

Lets try another tack – ask them to change the English, Welsh and NI BBC sites to offer to them also “..a better service overall to Licence payers..” and post it on the various BBC sites that allow comment.

Just as an additional thought – when was the last time you heard of Scottish Labour complaining about BBC bias?
 
 
# Aucheorn 2012-04-07 09:51
Let me see have I got this right.

You complain to the BBC they ignore you or fob you off, so you go through hoops to complain to the BBC Trust, and they send you straight back to the one who has already fobbed you off.

I thought the Magic Roundabout had been off the air for a while.

Talk about stonewalling !

PS That letter looks awfully familiar.
 
 
# Jim1320 2012-04-07 09:57
The Scotsman is giving oxygen to this story but the real shame lies with the likes of Labour and Willie Rennie. Why don’t they go to the Amazon sites and tell the workers they would like to scrap their jobs and throw them on the dole?

There is no principle these people would not toss aside to get a cheap shot at the SNP. Willie Rennie is part of the Coalition group. It is they that have for whatever reason not pursued the corporation tax.

It is absolute rubbish like this that makes me despair about the quality, intellectual ability and morality of the kind of people drawn to modern politics.
 
 
# Old Smokey 2012-04-07 10:15
I’m facinated by Labour MSP John Park’s remark ‘The SNP can’t on the one hand say that they want Scandinavian public services and then back a regressive corporation tax system’
Actually speaks volumes in itself.
By stating ‘Scandinavian public services’ he is refusing to state that the public services (ie free healthcare, free travelfor the elderly etc) are ‘Socialist’ in which Labour should beleive in, is the point that Labour are in reality no longer a socialist party or ave socialist beleif’s.But they and in particular John Park dont want anyone thinking that the SNP are more ‘socialist’ than the Labour party are, so will tag ‘Scandinavian’ rather than ‘socialist’.Also lend’s to their anti SNP arguement that somehow ‘Scandinavian’ is bad
 
 
# Woodside 2012-04-07 10:48
Mr Park asks the SNP if after 2016 Amazon would pay tax- as that year will have the first Scottish General Elections is Mr.Park already admitting that the SNP are going to win these elections and form the first government of an Independent Scotland.

If not the question surely has to be in those elections what will be the Labour Party policy in their manifesto on corporation tax?

Or maybe by then Labour will have withered so far that such a manifesto will be given equal coverage to the other minority parties.
 
 
# bringiton 2012-04-07 10:25
If the Scotsman circulation figures quoted here are correct and that number is going south then,to quote a well know unionist MP “who cares”.
No longer a serious newspaper and can be ranked along side the tabloid trash publications which regularly fabricate or distort stories just to sell their nonsense.
One day soon we will see the death of this newspaper being published in it’s own obituary section.
 
 
# Gaelstorm 2012-04-07 10:35
Should we be bothered by this nonsense?
I gave up on this “newspaper” shortly after Andrew Neil took over, & it’s readership continues in decline.
It’s an irrelevancy in the debate & should be treated as such. Even BBC Jockland hasn’t bothered with this “story”.
 
 
# BillDunblane 2012-04-07 10:41
According to the latest figures I can find, (ain’t too easy unless you pay – unless someone can give me a web address) the Beano now has a better circulation figure than the Scotsman. It is admittedly a much better comic, and covers articles more seriously.
Now that Dennis is on our side, we only have to deal with Minnie the Minx. (AKA Rosa Klebb / wee Jimmy Krankie)
 

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