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November 24, 2014

Pro independence daily The National launched in Scotland today – new jobs promised if pilot works

By William Turvill

Newsquest's new Scottish newspaper has gone on sale today for a pilot period of five days.

A sister title to the Herald, Sunday Herald and the Evening Times in Scotland, the title has promised to "fly a vibrant flag for independence".

The title is edited by the Sunday Herald's Richard Walker and no permanent staff have been taken on for the pilot week.

But if it proves successful, and the Herald and Times Group continues to publish the title, Walker said new jobs will be created.

The newspaper costs 50p and the masthead describes it as "the newspaper that supports an independent Scotland".

The front page headline of the first edition reads "Give Scotland the powers to cut child poverty", focusing on a plea from charities to the Smith Commission on further devolution, to transfer welfare powers to the Scottish Parliament.

The first editorial of the National says: "The status quo is no longer an option and there is an unquenchable desire for greater devolution.

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"Quite simply, the Scottish people want to be more directly and deeply involved in the decisions that affect them and the generations to come.

"It is with this uppermost in mind that today we launch The National, a daily newspaper that will fly a vibrant flag for independence and the right for Scots to govern themselves."

Walker's Sunday Herald was Scotland's only national newspaper to come out in favour of leaving the UK in the run-up to September's referendum. The newspaper reported a 111 per cent year on year rise in circulation in the week of the vote.

Details of the National were announced at an SNP rally in Glasgow at the weekend, but the editorial says the paper is not "a mouthpiece of the Scottish National Party and the government it leads".

It adds: "That would not be a healthy course to follow. We will be critical where appropriate and complimentary when merited."

The editorial said it was "unfair" that the Sunday Herald was the only paper supporting independence during the referendum.

"During the referendum campaign it became clear that there is a democratic deficit in terms of the Scottish media.

"In a population of some five million, with 45% of those eligible voting Yes, only one newspaper – our sister paper, the Sunday Herald – spoke out in favour of independence. That seems to us unfair.

"The raison d'etre of the National is to redress the balance and cogently to argue the case for independence."

The five-day pilot will allow the publisher to see if there is sufficient demand for such a paper, and if sales meet expected levels, it will continue.

Walker told BBC Radio Scotland: "We haven't employed staff on a permanent level because clearly it's a five-day trial but once that trial is over and, as I'm confident will happen, we continue, then yeah, we'll be employing new people. For me this is about creating jobs.

"It's a really exciting venture and it's something that I believe in and the staff believes in, so we're pleased to do it."

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