IT has been widely reported in recent weeks that one of the knock-on effects of the coronavirus crisis may be its damage to press sales amidst social distancing, customer apprehension and the curtailing of advertising in the UK.

Many newspapers and magazines have obviously witnessed a substantial drop in sales for some years now and it is clear that many younger people, particularly but not exclusively, prefer to procure their news from social media rather than by traditional methods. The prolonged lockdown has certainly resulted in an existential battle for some publications as evidenced by proposed redundancies in a number of newspapers, yet the traditional stalwarts of the UK press continue to play a central role in shaping public opinion.

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It is an unfortunate but accurate fact that the majority of British national newspapers, and I include Scotland in this, have adopted an obsequious stance and sought to act as cheerleaders for the Westminster government during this current health crisis, ignoring their glaring obfuscation and their increasingly desperate evasive and dishonest narrative.

The majority of our daily national newspapers are unapologetically right-wing and owned by billionaires such as the Barclay brothers, Rupert Murdoch and Viscount Rothermere. Their raison d’etre is to protect and defend the Conservative government, and therefore the status quo, regardless of fairness or social justice. Rather than holding the present government to account they have attempted to misreport policy failings and run banner headlines deifying the Prime Minister to appeal to the unquestioning reader, a naked and unashamed bread-and-circuses approach to journalism.

Many of these publications neither enhance nor encourage democratic thought or debate as witnessed in the Daily Telegraph’s front page headline on Tuesday “Russia tried to meddle in Scottish vote”, a blatant and cheap attempt to to smear the independence movement and divert analysis from the Conservative government’s inaction or incompetence regarding the long-awaited Russian report.

The National stands as a beacon of hope for those in Scotland who reject publications that exist to defend the UK state and bolster the ugly face of xenophobic English nationalism. It is clearly and unapologetically in favour of Scottish independence but also inclusive, introspective and progressive. I look forward to the day in Scotland when a free press reports the news to a free people.

Owen Kelly

I’m getting a bit tired of hearing more and more “Reds under the bed” stories. Of course Russia attempts to influence opinion in other countries, as does USA, China and the UK, among others. This theme that the Russians are the bad guys and we’re the good guys who NEVER do anything naughty belongs in the 1950s.

Very few in possession of more cells than an amoeba still believe this McCarthy-type nonsense.

Some governments overtly suppress criticism and some (like UK) do it covertly. They’re all up to dirty tricks and double standards with very few (if any) exceptions. If you tune in to RT, Al Jazeera etc you get a balance. It’s just a matter of listening to as many versions of “the truth” as you can, then trying to make the best decision.

Barry Stewart

THE BBC really should issue a health warning when inviting Tories onto talk shows. Radio Scotland’s morning phone-in show yesterday featured the “leader” of East Dunbartonshire Council talking down Scotland and talking up the Union in a deeply ignorant and offensive way. Thank goodness The National’s Shona Craven was on hand to tell him, and the listeners, the truth about the UK’s so-called safety net. Overall, though, I am not convinced the Scottish Government is refuting and rubbishing the lies and distortions of the Unionists robustly enough.

It seems to me the core message – to be pumped out good and hard all the way to the Holyrood election and beyond – is as follows:

1. Every penny we get from the UK Treasury is our own money, laundered in Westminster, and does not begin to equate to our rightful share of the revenues from the North Sea (and now West of Shetland/North Atlantic) oil, poured down the throats of the boys in red braces since the 70s.

2. The waste of our money on the House of Lords alone, let alone Trident, Brexit (brace yourselves) etc etc is obscene.

3. For all that, we get the “blessings of Union”: the poorest pensions of any comparable state; a chronic shortage of decent, affordable housing; an underfunded, struggling health service, now facing plunder by Trump’s cronies; crumbling, archaic infrastructure and roads, and most disgraceful of all – 25% child poverty!

4. If Yes had won in 2014, Scotland would right now be receiving a share of the EU’s emergency pandemic funding.

Last but not least: the Scots are resilient, inventive and hardworking. We would have dealt with this crisis better and quicker unfettered by Johnson’s criminal sloth and English exceptionalism – which sacrificed thousands of lives – and we will make our way in the world just fine after independence.

David Roche