I’VE had the privilege of working for almost every Scottish national newspaper title worthy of the name in some capacity over the last 35 years. After a while you reach a point where you think you can’t be surprised at any of the curiosities that sporadically emerge from this trade. The last time this occurred was at the launch of The National in 2014.

On the evening of the day the paper launched I was invited to discuss its merits on STV’s Scotland Tonight along with some other industry figures. I recall expressing some cautious optimism that the paper would succeed in the long-term and become a welcome addition to a vibrant newspaper landscape. I felt sure it would provide a few new openings for journalists, especially younger ones, at a time when the Scottish newspaper industry was encountering serious challenges, not the least of which was declining circulation and advertising revenue.

And from a political perspective I felt that its very existence might address a democratic deficit in the pattern of Scottish newspapers’ allegiances. Bizarrely, throughout the referendum campaign of 2013 and 2014 not a single national daily title came out in support of independence even after it became clear that the Yes movement had grown to include hundreds of thousands of people who had been either Undecideds or No voters at the outset. Of the national Sunday titles only the Sunday Herald supported independence.

READ MORE: Where are all the high-profile women of colour in the SNP ranks?

Support for the constitutional status quo united some strange bedfellows including the Daily Mail, Daily Record and Scotsman.

Sometimes you got the impression that the Daily Mail was actually running the No campaign rather than simply supporting it while the Daily Telegraph paid its Scottish editor a bonus for playing his part in fighting off the nationalist hordes.

Yet, reaction from within the Scottish newspaper industry about the appearance of The National, was characterised by sullenness and sneering. On STV that night a couple of commentators I’d reckoned might be supportive of the enterprise began to put the boot in. None seemed to have a clue what the launch of a newspaper at short notice entailed.

Nor did they seem to have considered the irony of attacking a newspaper for its unashamedly partisan political position when the right-wing press for many decades have stretched the concept of objectivity and fairness when covering politics to breaking point.

This was never more apparent than during the Scottish independence referendum and the EU referendum.

Some right-wing commentators who along the way forgot that journalists are supposed to maintain a distance from celebrity and power have poured scorn on The National for, ahem, continuing to support Scottish independence.

Their own titles’ implacable and slavish devotion to the Union and Conservatism doesn’t appear to have featured in their thinking.

Three years after its launch the National is adding a Sunday edition to its six-day output. It’s a vote of confidence to astute editorial judgment and the hard work of a small core of staffers and freelancers.

It remains unashamedly supportive of Scottish independence but permits its columnists, including myself, to be critical of the SNP Government.

It has provided a platform for some gifted young female voices such as Shona Craven, Kirsty Strickland and Eve Livingston who regularly challenge old thinking on gender issues, feminism and violence against women. Nadine McBay’s music coverage is also the smartest and edgiest in the business.

The National also provides a welcome space for Michael Fry, perhaps the most eloquent and original right-wing commentator operating in Scotland today.

It’s also the only Scottish title which thinks its readers won’t get a nose-bleed at being offered the opportunity to read about the history of our nation. I wish our new Sunday stable-mate well and trust that it will have a long life and provide opportunities and platforms for other younger and unfashionable voices.

Another new low for the DWP

EACH week it seems the DWP sets a benchmark for behaving inhumanely to vulnerable UK citizens. It’s almost as if some kind of grim bonus and incentive system operates within the offices of the outsourcing specialists. Thus, the staff member who can think up the most devilishly cruel way of withholding benefits to the workshy gets a free, all-inclusive weekend in Margate or Blackpool.

Last week’s entry was one of which the Marquis de Sade would have been especially proud. A Falkirk grandfather who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour was being assessed for personal Independence Payment when he was asked to perform a headstand against the wall of his home.

Apparently, this was later explained as a little joke on the part of the assessor. In normal circumstances this might even be taken as a joke and the family could all have had a good laugh.

But when you’re dealing with an agency that has driven hundreds of claimants to commit suicide as a result of being asked to meet impossible standards of proof you can never assume anything.

The National:

Love Island winner Dani Dyer

The British public have displayed an unquenchable appetite for reality television, including programmes like Get Me Out of Here Naked and Island of the Loving Dead. I’d love to see us integrate some of these ideas in a humane way to sort out the wheat from the chaff amongst our disabled and otherwise vulnerable community.

Potential claimants would be warned well in advance that they will be whisked off to an uninhabited island and left to fend for themselves. Only those who emerge physically or mentally worse off than when they went in will get benefits. Those who actually die will at least be able to do so knowing that their loved ones will be able to cash in on back-dated claims and funeral costs. Survivors will be deemed to be fraudsters and taken away for questioning.

The National:

Should the capital get favourable treatment? 

Time to fix the BBC's Edinburgh weather bias

HERE is a small problem with the BBC’s nightly weather report and it’s nothing to do with how big Scotland appears on the UK map.

Sometimes you only catch the end of the weather when they put up the four capitals of the UK countries with their temperatures for the next day included beside them.

In three out of the four capitals – London, Belfast and Cardiff - this works because they are the also the most populous cities in the country and thus are proper “capital” cities.

Edinburgh, though lovely and important, is a boutique city.

Thus, in three out of the four cities featured, the BBC’s temperature snapshot affects the country’s most populous region.

In Scotland, by far the most populous region is Glasgow and the West which dwarves the population of Edinburgh and the East.

It’s time for the BBC to remove Edinburgh from its weather report and replace it with Glasgow.

I know this seems petty and tribal and you may very well be right, but still ...