You can say pretty much what you like in the British media, especially about Scotland. You can publish screaming headlines that tell outright lies about public figures, especially if they support Scottish independence. You can spread falsehoods and by simple repetition make them into truths, like the lie that Scotland would be automatically excluded from the EU if it became independent. You can invent fictions like Gordie Broon’s vow and turn them into game changing events. And you can get away with it. Or in the case of the Record and Gordie’s vow, or Reporting Scotland and its unending diet of kittens fitba and SNP bad, you can even get an award for it. It’s the programme of the Scottish play.
It seems that the very worst that’s going to happen when a newspaper doesn’t do its job is that it gets a slap on the wrist and has to publish a retraction, buried away on an inside page where it will remain unseen and unexamined. It’s like being told you must atone for lying by going deep into a dark and trackless forest and whispering the truth to a tree – before taking a chainsaw to it and turning it into paper on which you print the latest shocking news of Kim Kardashian’s nail job from hell, or something about the fitba.
This is exactly what has happened with the report of the memo published by the Telegraph which wrongly alleged that Nicola Sturgeon told the French ambassador that she wanted the Tories to win the election. The Independent Press Standards Organisation upheld a complain against the paper’s reporting of the Frenchgate memo, and told the Telegraph to inscribe an apology on a leaf on a poison vine, parasitising a tree deep within the Amazonian rain forest where not even Sting is going to find it and do a benefit concert to publicise its plight. And with that, Scotland’s lip was plugged, but not in a shaman kind of way. Although it is fair to say that much of the UK coverage of Scottish affairs reads like it was written after the reporters had ingested some of the more psychoactive South American shrubbery.
Having been told by IPSO that its report was wrong and needed to be corrected, the Telegraph obliged, and printed a five line comment on an inside page by way of compensation for its thousands of words of front page lies, its photo spreads and the acreage of commentary and news their story provoked elsewhere in the fair and balanced media with the Amazonian trippy plants up its nose. Because that’s fair and balanced.
So we are now in the lamentable position where most of the mainstream media and a large part of the Scottish public hold one another in open contempt. The public regard the media with suspicion and won’t take anything it says at face value. And the media’s representatives regard the public with disdain. You can’t maintain a democracy under such circumstances. How can the media scrutinise and bring to heel powerful vested interests when the public believes that the media is a powerful vested interest that is beyond scrutiny and beyond control?
It’s because of the incompetence of the media that we get a Tory government which, when asked to list what it considered English only legislation, included the Scotland Bill. Before some readers get worked up into an outrage at how Scotland’s devolution is apparently considered an English only matter by our Tory masters, the inclusion of the Scotland Bill on the list was clearly a mistake, or a wind up. So instead feel free to get worked up into an outrage at the fact we are governed by morons who are not held to account by a media inhabited with venal idiots.
If we had a media which properly scrutinised the UK government on Scotland’s issues, eejit Tory politicians might think twice before releasing a list of English only legislation to the media, when that list contains the Scotland Bill. Clearly no one had bothered to read the list. Conveniently this provides us with an answer to the question of just how much scrutiny our political masters are being subjected to. It’s none at all. Scotland is defenceless before the most right wing Tory government ever.
But our government is not merely viciously right wing, and entirely bereft of a democratic mandate in Scotland, it’s so shambolic that it makes Wullie Rennie look like he’s a yoga master with the power to retract his own genitals into his body at will leaving nothing but an empty scrotum. Which may explain the habitual look on his face. But that’s the sort of dickless bawbags we’ve got for a government. And by and large the UK media does not seem particularly concerned by this state of affairs. Worse than that, most of them are egging them on to punish us even more.
We’ve become used to the charade now when the Westminster Parliament debates Scottish affairs. There’s an empty chamber in the Commons, only the SNP and a handful of other MPs turn up. There’s a gobsmackingly insane point of order from Jacob Rees Mogg. An irrelevant intervention from a Labour MP who thinks the debate is really about something else entirely. Then a vote is called, Scotland’s MPs troop into the division to vote one way, and they’re instantly outnumbered by hordes of Tories and Labour MPs who appear out of nowhere and vote them down without bothering to sit through Jacob Ree Mogg – although to be fair that last bit is entirely reasonable. Unless you have think a refugee from Jeeves and Wooster is of cutting edge relevance to modern Scotland there is no point to Jacob at all. There are primary school nativity plays which are considerably closer to an accurate depiction of reality than the House of Commons debating Scotland. The entire affair is a pointless ritual, the semblance of democracy but none of the substance, and if we had a media that actually did its job they’d be screaming that fact from the rooftops.
We’re only at the start of Act 1 Scene 1 in the Westminster Scottish play, and Scotland is bored already. How much more of this can we take before we vote with our feet?
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