I have held the view for many years now that The Scotsman spectacularly failed to live up to its title, that it was blindly unionist and establishment-biased, and that objective journalism had gone oot the windae a long, long time ago, subservient to proprietorial values rather than journalistic ones.
In fairness, as a west-coaster, I also had a long term loyalty to the Herald, even though its ancient journalistic traditions (the oldest English language newspaper in the world) had become subservient to Labour and New Labour values. I stuck with it because its Letters page was - and is - the glory of the newspaper, superior to any other British newspaper that I know.
The Scottish nationalist views and perceptions were fairly presented there, even though it was as likely that they would get a fair exposure in news and opinion features as the prospect of The Soldier’s song being voiced by an Ibrox crowd, or No Surrender rising from the terrace of Parkhead.
But I continued to sample The Scotsman, buying the paper in addition to the Herald a couple of times a week, and regularly looking at the online edition – and in the last week or so, it has frontally challenged my negative expectations on a number of occasions. Yesterday, it exceeded my most hopeful ones.
An article by Joan McAlpine headed It’s time to get angry and get ahead of the pack instantly caught my eye, because the headline and the sub-header encapsulated exactly how I was feeling about the challenges facing Scotland now, and in the future. I would love to reproduce it verbatim, but it is categorised by The Scotsman as premium content, requiring a subscription to read it in full (I bought the paper!) and if ever an opinion piece deserved the title of premium content, it was this one.
So you’ll have to either get a copy of Wednesday’s paper or subscribe to get it, unless some less scrupulous blogger has put up a bootleg copy.
In 800 or 900 words, it tightly, economically, cogently and passionately said all that I want to hear said about Scotland today, articulating the core ideas that define my late, but passionate nationalism. It was so well written that - as a writer of sorts myself - it would have commanded my respect even if I had fundamentally disagreed with the viewpoint expressed.
This is the kind of journalism Scotland needs at this defining moment in our history, and we rarely see it.
I have never met Joan McAlpine, and have had no contact with her until today (an email of congratulation and thanks for her piece from me.)
The Scotsman surprised and delighted me today, and I will now buy it daily, in the hope that at least one quality Scottish newspaper is now prepared to exhibit journalistic and editorial balance across the parties, a balance that was never needed more than it is now.
I fully expect that an avalanche of mail, some of it hostile, some supportive will hit tomorrow's Scotsman letters page, and that there will be some real debate, red in tooth and claw, of the type that Scotland needs today.