THE latest edition of The Economist, in which post-independent Scotland is labelled “Skintland”, has provoked an angry backlash with the First Minister Alex Salmond claiming that the parody “insults every single community north of the Border”.
The front page of the news magazine has mocked up a map of Scotland with place names replaced by puns that suggest poverty, financial incompetence and economic chaos – including “Glasgone”, “Edinborrow”, the “Loanlands” and the “Shutland Islands” – under the headline “It’ll Cost You”.
The accompanying article warns that if Scots vote for independence they “could end up as one of Europe’s vulnerable, marginal economies”, possibly faring as badly as crisis-torn Greece.
Yesterday, Mr Salmond claimed The Economist will “rue the day” that it published the map. He did not comment on an illustration of him wearing a crown, dressed in robes and holding an empty petrol pump.
The cartoonish depiction of an impoverished Scotland attracted criticism from across the political divide, although David McLetchie, former leader of the Scottish Conservatives, called on the First Minister to answer the questions posed in the magazine about how an independent Scotland would operate.
He said: “The SNP is manufacturing outrage aimed at anyone who dares to question their perspective that a separate Scotland would be a land of milk and honey, a line they are constantly pedalling about our future.”
Former Labour first minister Henry McLeish, who subscribes to The Economist, said that the portrayal of Scotland was “patronising” as he criticised the publication for “ridiculing” Scots and taking a “lofty position” about the country’s political future.
“As a reader of The Economist every week for many years, I’m not surprised at how patronising and eccentric it can be. It reveals the sparsity of knowledge about the subject and comes from the magazine’s traditional right-wing stance on most political and economic issues,” he said.
“The magazine appears to be taking great pleasure in ridiculing the idea of a nation wanting to take its responsibilities seriously.”
Education secretary Michael Russell used Twitter to condemn the article as “extraordinarily insulting to every Scottish citizen no matter their politics”.
His Cabinet colleague, Nicola Sturgeon, added: “Scots who don’t support independence will find this week’s Economist cover every bit as offensive as those who do”.
But it was Mr Salmond who appeared most infuriated by the coverage.
“This is how they really regard Scotland. This is Unionism boiled down to its essence and stuck on a front page for every community in Scotland to see their sneering condescensions.
“They shall rue the day they thought they’d have a joke at Scotland’s expense,” he said.
The Economist article, which appeared without a byline, said: “If Scots really want independence for political and cultural reasons, they should go for it. But if they vote for independence they should do so in the knowledge that their country could end up as one of Europe’s vulnerable, marginal economies.
“Edinburgh’s fine architecture and its Enlightenment role earned it the nickname ‘Athens of the North’. It would be a shame if that name became apt again for less positive reasons.”