On the eve of the Scottish election in 1987 the Scottish version of The Sun’s front page featured a hangman’s noose in the shape of an SNP logo. “Vote SNP today and you put Scotland’s head in the noose.”

Oh my, how times have changed. With the Scots to vote on 5 May to elect a new Assembly, Murdoch’s north of the border version of The Sun has changed its tune.

The villains are now heroes! And, we might ask, why?

Surely the reason would not be connected to a desire to prevent the evil Labour Party from getting the appearance of electoral respectability anywhere in the United Kingdom?  How presumptious of Roy Greensland in The Guardian to suggest that The Sun’s backing for the Scot Nats is all about Westminster! What nonsense of Mr Greenslade to write:

It is eager to bolster prime minister David Cameron and, at the same, time, to undermine any sign of revival in the fortunes of Labour under Ed Miliband.

The Sun doesn’t really care for the SNP or Salmond. It has no time for the central ambition of the Nats to achieve independence. It is an unashamedly unionist newspaper.

The editor, Andy Harries, did his best in a BBC interview to square that circle. “We won’t always agree with all their policies,” he said. But “the SNP has proved to be a capable and trustworthy government… Salmond and his team are head and shoulders above anything Labour has to offer.”

The Sun’s supposedly “independent” Scottish stance is nothing of the sort. It is a cynical act, a piece of old-fashioned realpolitik.

Rupert Murdoch and his British editorial minions obviously wish to deny [Labour House of Commons leader Ed] Miliband any possibility of a take-off. For his part, Labour’s leader is aware that Wapping will not countenance him.

His call for a public inquiry into newspaper regulation will ensure that there will be no Sun U-turn at the next general election.