The editor of The Scotsman is relishing the prospect of a 'good, old-fashioned popular paper ding-dong', similar to that of the 1960s – 'when the Daily Record slugged it out with the Scottish Daily Express' – and the 1980s, 'when The Scottish Sun began to flex its muscles'.
He is referring to the changing sales lead this last fortnight in the Sunday newspaper sales market, between the Sunday Mail and newly-launched The Scottish Sun on Sunday, which saw the latter take the lead with its debut edition a fortnight ago only to relinquish it a week later.
In his Editor's Notebook, McLellan gives a fascinating insight into how The Scottish Sun on Sunday's exclusive last week may have been scuppered by the Sunday Mail's sister title, the Daily Record.
McLellan writes: “Having angrily seen the Sun handed an exclusive for the first appearance of its new Sunday edition, the Record got wind of a stunning scoop for the new paper’s second outing – the revelation that Labour MP Eric Joyce had a fling with a teenage girl who had been helping in his Falkirk constituency office.
“The Record learnt the girl had told all to the Sun and had been whisked away in time-honoured fashion to make sure that rivals couldn’t get to her and steal the scoop.
“Unfortunately for the Sun, the Record was confident enough to run the story without speaking to the girl or without Joyce’s admission. In fact, at first it looked very much as if the Record had gone out on a limb.
“Even Labour’s Scottish leader, Johann Lamont, was persuaded there was more than a little truth in the story and quickly cut Joyce adrift. The only thing lacking was the girl’s side of the story – which duly came on Sunday when the Sun’s exclusive interview eventually appeared. But by that time interest had waned. Indications are that from a launch sale of around 360,000 copies, the new Scottish Sun on Sunday has already lost about 20 per cent of that to fall behind the Sunday Mail.”