The Guardian / Observer has proven to be the big disappointment of the independence campaign. If you do manage to construct a coherent shelving unit out of the Guardian’s one dimensional flat packed reports, you’ll get a shoddy and poorly manufactured piece of crap that won’t take the weight of a lying leaflet from Better Together.
You’d expect that sort of thing from the Mail or the Telegraph, but when the referendum campaign kicked off I did, naively perhaps, harbour fond hopes that the liberal traditions of the Guardian might just allow the Scottish indy case a fair shake of the stick. But no such joy, the Guardian out-Mails the Mail in its eagerness to depict independence supporters as atavistic English haters. The UK media is united in singing from the same “ooo aren’t they racist” songsheet.
The Observer was at it again this Sunday. A report on Alistair Carmichael’s latest fact-free whinge contained a number of accusations that the independence campaign has been disfigured by racism and intolerance. Of course it’s only Yes campaigners who do that sort of thing, what British nationalism being the only non-nationalist nationalism ever.
I can’t be bothered dissecting the contents of Alistair’s interview. He’s a waste of space and if he didn’t exist no one would feel the need to invent him. Ali wants us to take him seriously, and gets upset when we don’t. You don’t get respect for talking out your arse, Alistair, you get mockery. The rest of us learned that lesson in nursery school.
However he raised a couple of points that should not go unchallenged. Alistair said that it was wrong to claim that the people of Scotland and the people of England have different values. And this would be true. The people of Scotland and the people of England do, by and large, have shared values. We share those values with the rest of Europe, and just about everywhere where most people aren’t fundamentalist god-botherers of one sort or another. The problem however is that this is not about sharing or not sharing values with ordinary English people, it’s about Scotland not sharing values with Westminster. It is convenient for Alistair and Better Together to confuse the difference.
Alistair was very annoyed that he’d been called a Quisling. He was called that because he diminishes Scotland’s prospects and potential, he either knowingly lies or he repeats untruths he does not challenge, and he colludes in the stereotypes and racism which form the prism through which the Westminster elites view the Scottish independence campaign. But this is not the same as rounding up Jewish people at the behest of Nazi occupiers and sending them off to death camps, which is what yer actual Vidkun Quisling did. People were afraid of Quisling, with very good reason. Alistair is not a Quisling, he’s an Uncle Tam – a figure of fun and ridicule, not fear.
However it allowed the reporter to indulge in another bout of mud slinging. Ooo aren’t the Scots terribly racist. We need Westminster to keep our atavistic impulses in check for us.
When the Guardian does deign to cover Scotland with something approaching intelligence, it discusses the effect independence might have on England – or to be more exact, on the English political elite. Because in Guardianland Scottish independence isn’t really about Scotland at all.
How foolish of those Scots to complain that Scotland has a different political culture to the rest of the UK. Scotland is exactly the same as England, only with scenery. Scotland is nothing more than a region of the UK with a burning hatred of all things English due to ancient historical grievances. That is, to the Metropolitan commetariat, what defines us. If Scotland is defined as nothing more than a region of the UK where people hate the English, then any Scottish independence campaign must be a racist campaign.
But the reports in the UK media of the racism that supposedly disfigures the Scottish independence campaign are themselves racist. They play to racist stereotypes of semi-civilised Scots who need Westminster to civilise us. They do this in the hope that voters will be discouraged from engaging with the independence debate, so that the power of the Westminster elite will remain unchallenged.
The real racism in this campaign lies with the Guardian, the Daily Mail, and the Uncle Tams. Racism, like homophobia or sexism, is fundamentally about power. Who has power, who exercises power, and who is to be subject to that power. The British establishment have the power, and they use it to keep Scotland shut firmly in a constitutional box where the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland can be contained and ignored, and Scotland’s resources and potential can be harnessed to the demands of the Westminster elite. In order to maintain their privilege, Scotland must be trivialised and diminished. Calling supporters of independence racist and anti-English is a means to that end.