LABOUR’S Scottish leadership must have been choking on their porridge yesterday morning when one of the party’s most loyal media backers, the Sunday Mail, announced that it was supporting the Scottish Greens in the forthcoming European parliamentary elections.

It’s the first time that a leading Scottish Sunday tabloid other than the Sunday National has come out in favour of an independence-supporting party, but Yes activists should be careful about getting overly excited about an apparent breach in the normally solid wall of Unionism in the Scottish media.

For while it has fallen into bed with the Greens and appears to be swooning over their top candidate, co-convener Maggie Chapman, the Sunday Mail doesn’t like “constitutional bickering” – code words for dismissing a second independence referendum.

The Sunday Mail editorial said: “Our backing of the Green Party doesn’t mean we agree with them on everything – and doesn’t necessarily mean we’d follow them on the Yes side of a new independence referendum.”

Still, a hint of a breakthrough in the mainstream media’s denial of even the suggestion of an independence referendum is welcome, and nobody could gainsay the Mail’s view that “the Euro poll in 11 days has been turned into a proxy referendum on Brexit – the issue which has crippled our politics for almost three years and counting.”

Since the paper’s chances of ever supporting the SNP are somewhere between nil and nought – given its Unionist ownership and strong link to sister paper the Daily Record – it must be seen as a devastating blow to Labour that the Sunday Mail says the Greens are the answer in the elections on May 23.

The editorial continued: “At the last election in 2014, Chapman was pipped by David Coburn, a Ukip politician so obnoxious that Nigel Farage wants nothing to do with him.

“What a message it would send if Scotland elected a Green MEP and rejected Farage’s Brexit party, Ukip and the sinister band of vaudevillian characters who sail in both.”

Chapman’s co-convenor Patrick Harvie MSP said: “We’re delighted that the Sunday Mail is backing the Scottish Greens in the European elections this year. This is the most important European election we’ve ever faced; it’s vital that we elect Scotland’s first Green MEP to work in tandem with our European neighbours and tackle the climate emergency.

“We know that A Green New Deal can create hundreds of thousands of jobs in Scotland and millions across the continent, transforming our economy. Across Europe, Greens are outpolling the far right, by offering hope over hate. On the May 23 your vote matters more than ever, so vote Green.”

On an undeniably good day for the Greens, the Sunday Mail also revealed the backing of a celebrity for the party’s election cause in Scotland – Sam Heughan of Outlander.

The man who plays James Fraser in the series told the Sunday Mail:“Green ideas are on the move so it would be great to see a Green MEP elected for Scotland to stand up for our place in Europe, and to help turn the climate crisis into an opportunity for a fairer society too.”

Heughan was a strong supporter for Yes in the first independence referendum in 2014, and is known for his commitment to environmental causes.

Patrick Harvie commented: “Sam’s a fantastic ambassador for Scotland and has a long record of standing up for our natural environment.

“His backing – adding to the Green’s first ever endorsement from a national Scottish newspaper – shows that the Green movement is changing the face of politics and that we now have a huge opportunity to elect Maggie Chapman as Scotland’s first ever Green MEP on May 23.”