English media 'ignoring' Scotland

Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell claims the English media has virtually written off Scotland as irrelevant following devolution.

McConnell’s claims came as he prepared to hold a reception in London with MPs and journalists to promote his project for Scotland to attract more immigrants.

He wants the project to boost the country’s wider profile – and its image south of the border.

However, the First Minister feels his efforts are being hampered by what he sees as the growing lack of interest in Scotland among the English media – underlined by the lukewarm interest in last year’s Holyrood elections.

In recent weeks he has met ITV executives and BBC Scotland’s board of governors, urging them to use their influence so that greater prominence is given to Scottish affairs.

Sources close to McConnell say he feels the English media only becomes interested when there is renewed controversy over the £430m cost of the new Scottish Parliament building.

And his disquiet was accentuated when his only recent prominence on the UK news agenda was over his decision to turn down the invitation to attend the D-Day landings commemoration in favour of a golf dinner – a decision he subsequently reversed amid hostile media coverage.

He told a press conference in Scotland: “It would be very easy to live in the south of England and hear nothing about Scotland apart from the occasional controversy. That has been a change since devolution. Scotland is less reported south of the border.”

The BBC in London challenged McConnell on the lack of network coverage. A spokesman said: “There are more Scottish-based stories on network news than at any time before.”

By Hamish Mackay

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