There has been an enormous amount of speculation in the final days of the Scottish Independence debate as to whether Rupert Murdoch would use the front page of The Scottish Sun to back Alex Salmond’s Yes campaign. Bruised by the phone hacking scandal, the newspaper mogul appeared to be set to back Scottish Independence and aim a missile at the Cameron premiership. The BBC’s Andrew Neil, who is a former editor of The Sunday Times and confidant of Murdoch tweeted: “He thinks the hacking scandal was revenge of the British establishment on him. Break up of Britain would be his revenge.” Neil also reported that Murdoch and Salmond spoke a week ago about a swing in the polls in favour of independence.
Up until 2009 The Sun had consistently backed the winner in UK general elections but by that year, press power was already visibly on the slide. In 1992 after Kinnock lost to Major the headline screamed “It Was The Sun Wot Won It’, Tory MPs acknowledged that The Sun contributed to their election triumph and Kinnock himself blamed the paper for his failure to win the election. Today the sun has finally set on that level of power and influence. The Sun’s front pages in both England and Scotland reflect the mood of the public without attempting to influence it. The Scottish Sun echoes the uncertainty of the vote with its blank page and in the rest of the Union a story about Prince Harry and his girlfriend makes an unsubtle nod to the overwhelming sentiment south of the border. Whatever the outcome we should celebrate the end of an era where one man can change the fortunes of a nation by deciding on a headline.