And now for an April 1992 flashback, far more horrific of course. But back then, as its English edition warned the last person to leave Britain if Neil Kinnock became Prime Minister to turn off the lights, the Scottish edition of The Sun took a rather different line, encouraging its readers to vote for the Scottish National Party. At the time, many were surprised by this stance - quite a few attributed it to the strong possibility that the vote in Scottish marginal seats might decide the balance of power at Westminster, and suggested that Murdoch wanted to split the vote and encourage those who might otherwise have voted Labour to vote SNP and thus increase the Tories' chances. How much effect that had we cannot be sure. But I think he was playing a longer game. He had already, strategically, decided to support Scotland's secession from the UK so as to strengthen (as it undoubtedly would, massively) his own ideal socio-political model in England. As far back as 1995, long before anti-Scottishness among English right-wingers had reached its current hysterical level, Jonathan Miller (not that one, but a truly loathsome Sunday Times columnist and obsessive campaigner against the BBC licence fee) was only half-jokingly proposing to stand as an SNP candidate in his ultra-safe Tory Hampshire seat so as to make the point that such areas, and their inherent politics, would be much more likely to have things their way at Westminster if the "socialist stragglers" of Scotland were hived off. It was only the transmutation of the Labour Party into something Murdoch could accept on both political and cultural levels, coupled with the exhaustion of Major's Tories and (importantly) their continued allegiance to an essentially pre-Sky vision of Britain, that put him off continuing this simultaneous pro-Tory (because he meant it) and pro-SNP (for strategic reasons) stance.
Now the time seems to have come for that stance to return, with all it may bring with it this time. I predict in doom-laden tones that The Sun in May 2010 will support the Tories in its English edition, and the SNP in its Scottish edition, and will know precisely what it's doing and why it's doing it, even if plenty of its own readers don't. I may be wrong. But I think the odds are in favour of my being right.