Magazine article Public Finance

'Skintland' Slur Shakes Up Scots

Magazine article Public Finance

'Skintland' Slur Shakes Up Scots

Article excerpt

Not since The Sun asked: 'Would the last person to leave Britain please turn out the lights' if Neil Kinnock won the 1992 general election has there been such a row over a front page, at least in Scotland.

The recent Economist cover depicting Scotland as 'Skintland', with cities renamed 'Edinborrow' and 'Glasgone', generated an astonishing row.

First Minister Alex Salmond said the magazine would 'rue the day1 it ran the story, accusing it of 'sneering* and 'insulting every community in Scotland'. The former Labour first minister, Henry McLeish, said it was 'patronising and eccentric', while the twitterati fizzed with indignation at the magazine's 'racism' and 'lies'.

The Economist warned that if Scotland voted for independence in 2014, it would become One of Europe's vulnerable marginal economies' and would likely suffer a sovereign debt crisis of Greek proportions. Now it's hardly new for a London weekly magazine to criticise the economics of independence - the Spectator and even the New Statesman do it all the time. But somehow this 'Skintland' joke hit a raw nerve. Why so?

You might think that the best way to respond to the banter would have been to hand it right back to them. After all, it's a bit rich for the London financial elite to poke fun at Scotland's debts when the UK itself is running a deficit of £126bn. You might have turned the map around and dubbed it 'Great Bankruptland'. The Scottish chattering classes seem to be living in thin-skinned land.

Timing, of course, is everything in politics, and the Scottish media had been looking for an opportunity to revisit the controversy over the referendum. Not much has happened since UK Prime Minister David Cameron's visit in February, when he challenged the Scottish National Party government to bring forward the date of the ballot.

The feature also gave the SNP an opportunity to ramp up its rhetoric and remind Scots that, in fact, an independent Scotland would be among the top six developed countries in terms of gross domestic product per head. …

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