Down the rabbit hole with Tony

Tony Blair is so worried about Jeremy Corbyn winning the Labour leadership election that he’s speaking out against it for free. Or more exactly he’s speaking out against it in the hope that he can remain free. If Jezza wins the leadership election and then becomes Prime Minister, Tony might be swapping his smart suits for an orange jumpsuit and his cufflinks for handcuffs.

This is why Tone is keen to let anyone who will give him a hearing, which is a small and increasingly diminishing audience outside of Central Asian dictators, that he thinks that Jeremy Corbyn practises Alice in Wonderland politics. Tony knows a great deal about fantasy, having pursued Conservative politics down a rabbit hole into a topsy turvy world where he played the role of the Queen of Heartlessness, playing croquet with human lives. It takes a special kind of brass neck for a man who took his country to war on the basis of an entirely invented prospectus to decry a pacifist politician for peddling a fantasy, yet Tony now warns us that Jeremy Corbyn preaches “a parallel reality … in which reason is an irritation”. Jeremy, says Tony in all apparent sincerity, has WMDs that can reach Cirencester in forty five minutes.

Tony doesn’t look in the mirror created by a puddle of Iraqi blood, except to admire himself. Making him Middle East Peace Envoy was like putting Myra Hyndley in charge of child protection. He’s far too focused on his own self-grandisement to reflect on the effects of his actions on the little people. The truth is he probably doesn’t care that much, nowhere near as much as he cares about making money from representing Central Asian dictators.

Tony Blair has but one achievement in his life, to create a Labour party that the lying mendacious UK media could believe in, and fittingly he managed that on the back of a great lie. The great lie was that there was still a Labour party left after Tony had got his paws on it, and that it was still a party of the left. Tony transformed Labour into a party of identikit drones and android clones preaching a pastiche of Thatcher’s predatory profit taking. Tony turned politics into performance, a reality show called Britain’s Got Talons where the poor and the disabled and the migrants and the marginalised get ripped apart in the press for the entertainment of the powerful. Greed is good when you call it stakeholding, smiled Tony’s tombstone teeth, as he held the stake that he plunged into the heart of Labour’s last socialist pretensions.

It was supposedly all down to Blair that Labour won the 1997 election, but Labour sold its soul to the Pied Piper of Hammy Lies for nothing. They were so desperate to get power and privilege again that they destroyed everything that was once good about them. They turned themselves into their enemies and in so doing turned themselves into the enemies of those they claimed to represent. The common cry is Scotland is that we didn’t leave the Labour party, the Labour party left us. Tony was driving the bus, he drove our hopes and aspirations off a cliff as a sacrifice to the newspaper demons.

The truth is that an insentient sea sponge could have won that election for Labour, and in most Scottish constituencies that’s exactly what happened. By 1997 the entire UK was as fed up and sick of the Tories as Scotland had been for the previous 18 years. It wasn’t so much that Labour won spectacularly, but that the Tories lost spectacularly. Labour would have performed as well even without the Conservative con of Tony.

After 1997 the scale of the Tory defeat was such that the party was lost in the wilderness for a decade, so lost that it chose Michael Howard as leader, the only politician in the history of the universe who is more slimy than Peter Mandelson who is himself more slimy than a garden slug which has taken a swim in a vat of wallpaper paste. Naturally Labour won again. The party’s victory came despite Iraq, because the opposition was every bit as complicit and even more slimy. Triangulation ruled.

But by then it was too late to save Labour, too late to rescue the British state. The road to Scottish independence started on the road to Baghdad, it was wafted aloft by UN resolutions that were never sought. Revulsion with Thatcher was the midwife of the Scottish Parliament, and revulsion with Labour will be the midwife of independence. Jeremy Corbyn is a good man, but he’s England’s last hope, he’s not ours.

Tony claims that he’s the older statesman who has travelled the road before. We should listen to his warnings that the path is littered with boulders and there’s a cliff ahead and that Jeremy Corbyn is headed straight off it. But Jeremy Corbyn isn’t travelling Tony’s road at all. Tony’s road is a lying road, a false road, a road to deception. It’s a road that leads to a right wing party, a road that doesn’t lead where any left wing person would want to go. It’s a road off the end of a cliff for social justice, for the redistribution of wealth. It’s a road that leads to inequality and rampant casino capitalism, a privatised highway to wealth and power for the few. That’s not the road that Jezza is on.

Tony is the creator of the plastic smiles who have dominated our public life ever since he smiled at the fool Gordie over the table of a posh London restaurant and lied through his teeth to the only man in the country as vain and self regarding as he was. Gordie is as self-serving and as much of a liar as Tony is, he’s just less photogenic.

It’s their style of politics that we want to put an end to. We want our politicians to be human beings, not plastic grins without content. Jeremy Corbyn stands for all those thousands of ordinary people who want a politician for whom public service means just that, and doesn’t see it as serving himself from the public. But Tony and Gordie cast their dire warnings that any attempt to change British politics will end in failure and ignominy, and together with their friends in the press they will do their utmost to make sure that their predictions come to pass. What’s left of their shattered credibility and the credibility of the lying British media depends on it.

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The ignorocracy of a shrivelled balloon

We need to calm down about the BBC. Scotland voted no, and that means that the people of Scotland surrendered all and any right to input on our devolution settlement. We will get what we’re given and should tug our forelocks like good North Britons, and go and be grateful that Edinburgh Castle has been plastered with a giant Union flag. The BBC just as it is is perfectly able to provide Scotland with totally unbiased Great British broadcasting. People who voted No voted for everything to remain exactly the same forever, say the people who promised that a No vote was a vote for safer and faster change.

So said Philip Davies MP, or at least that is what his comments boiled down to. Actually what he said was that Nicola Sturgeon needed to calm down following her “demands” that Scotland should get its own public service television channel. Of course the fact that Nicola had not demanded anything is irrelevant. All she really did was to air the suggestion that the BBC adopt a federal structure and as part of this Scotland should get its own dedicated channel. Her suggestions were in fact originally proposed from within the BBC itself, before being dropped on account of costs and uppity Scottishness.

But then any suggestion from a supporter of Scottish independence counts as a demand and a threat when the Union dangles from the fraying thread of 384,000 votes. Listen very carefully and with every slight and put down you can hear another strand in that thread pull apart. We’re respecting the views of the 55%, and we’re respecting the fact that they’re declining in number with every passing day.

Phil was speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, which may or may not be another of those international Scottish arty festivals that’s never been directed by a Scottish person. I’ve no idea, to tell the truth, all I know is that if the festival had never had a Scottish director it would be wrong to point it out and if you did then one of Scotland’s legion of right wing newspaper columnists would write an angry article about the evil of anti-English racism that lurks at the very core of every Scottish psyche. Except for those Scottish psyches which are right wing and North British of course and which do their best to do an impression of not being a Scottish psyche at all, a definition which conveniently includes most of the modern Labour party.

Neither do I have any idea who Philip Davies is, nor why his opinion on the future of Scottish broadcasting should be considered newsworthy. However it didn’t take long to discover that Phil is, not to put too fine a point on it, about as relevant to Scottish broadcasting as a five day old shrivelled balloon lurking behind the sofa is relevant to creating a cheerful party atmosphere. Possibly pointing that out also makes you an anti-English racist, or at least anti-balloonist, but frankly I am way beyond caring.

Phil’s one of those white able bodied middle class heterosexual Conservative men who are very quick to claim victimhood status. White able bodied middle class heterosexual Conservative men with high paid jobs and a public profile are subject to more discrimination than anyone else, apparently. Or at least, since they are white able bodied middle class heterosexual Conservative men with high paid jobs they’re far more important than anyone else and so any slights they perceive must natually be more important than the discrimination experienced by lesser mortals.

These are the same mental gymnastics which go behind complaints by the aforesaid rightwing Scottish commentators about perceived anti-English racism from Scottish people and allows them to ignore the far more blatant anti-Scottish racism which peppers the pages of the rightwing UK press like those wee bits vegetable matter that litter the vomit of a drunk. That’s just a bit of banter, humourless nat. But if a Scottish person makes equivalent remarks about the English it’s proof positive of the atavistic impulses and blood and soil nationalism that’s the real hidden face of separatism. Or something.

But back to Phil. Phil fancies himself as a contrarian, which is to say that he’s your typical middle class golf club boor-bore with the opinions to match. The Tory MP for Shipley feels that it’s an appropriate use of his time as a parliamentarian to send a stream of letters to the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission demanding to know why the Black and White Minstrels are offensive, and whether the Metropolitan Black Police Association is racist because it doesn’t represent white police officers. Phil isn’t any more enlightened when it comes to people with disabilities. He called for disabled people to be paid less than the minimum wage because they’re “less productive”.

Phil is likewise deeply unenlightened on the rights of LGBTI people. He wants people who aren’t heterosexual to get back into their box. This may or may not be the same box that Scottish independence supporters are supposed to get back into, but it’s quite likely that it is. Phil also hates the EU, women’s rights, the Human Rights Act, thinks we need to imprison more people, and is one of those Tory Neanderthals who gives Neanderthals a bad name. The real Neanderthals were welcoming of the Cro-Magnon migrants, and cared for the sick and the disabled, which is a lot more than can be said for the Tories.

Having been uncertain who Phil is and then finding out, I’m still in the dark as to why his opinions should have been sought on the future of Scottish broadcasting. I’m even less sure why those opinions, once expressed in Phil’s inimitable style, should have been perceived as being important and worthy enough to be plastered over the pages of a number of newspapers.

But then we voted No, and having voted No we were voting for the future of Scotland to be a hostage of fortune to the mouthings off of the Tory Phils of this world. It doesn’t matter that he knows as much about Scotland as the average rightwing Scottish newspaper columnist knows about the finer points of linguistic methodology, he’s a Tory MP accountable to no-one in Scotland, and his prejudice outweighs any fact, his ignorance counts for more than any knowledge.

Scotland isn’t a democracy, it’s an ignorocracy where decisions are made by shrivelled balloons.

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Get tae

Scotland’s over-abundance of right wing commentators have reacted predictably to suggestions from Nicola Sturgeon that the BBC should be federalised and Scotland gain its own dedicated English language TV channel. Some have stated proud-Scotly that they don’t want the BBC to become any more Scottish, wearing their cultural cringe and ignorance on their sleeves like a badge of pride. Scottish culture is after all only fit for pithy insults and invitations to get tae. Putting more of it on the telly might actually encourage people to take it seriously, and that would never do. Allow people to explore their own culture and they might just decide that there’s more to life than the Great British Bake Off and poverty porn on Channel 5. They might realise that Scotland isn’t the marginal and unimportant little province which it is reduced to by an unequal Union.

One of the strangest things about the Scottish media is that it is full of people who openly despise the populace they write for. Scottish culture, insofar as they recognise its existence, is to be belittled and joked about. At best it is to be patronised and treated like a small but not too well behaved child. Gaelic is a dead language, they say as they fight against any attempts to keep the language alive. And Scots isn’t a language at all, they claim with a confidence which is inversely proportional to their knowledge and understanding of linguistic issues. A wee hint – having a degree in English literature doesn’t qualify you to state that Scots is not a language, and most certainly not while you labour under the misapprehension that Ausbau and Abstand are 1980s German electropop bands.

Worse than any of this however, they regard their own ignorance, lack of knowledge, and elephant hide sensitivity as positive attributes to be admired and aspired to. We live in a country where the dominant voices, the elite voices, have traduced and warped our view of ourselves and our country to such an extent that not once in over 70 years has the directorship of Scotland’s most important and prestigious arts festival, the Edinburgh Festival, been held by a Scot. Yet this singular fact, which would be unthinkable in any other European country, is regarded as perfectly normal and acceptable. What is unacceptable to the dominant voices in the Scottish media is to point out how remarkable it is and to suggest that it may not be a desirable state of affairs. Liz Lochhead found herself subject to oppobrium and insults for daring to suggest that the best person to direct a Scottish arts festival might be someone who was familiar with Scottish culture and arts.

What this boils down to is that in the eyes of the modern exponents of the Cringe, Scottish people are only to be valued when they cease to be Scottish. Call them out on this however, and they will react with howls of outrage. How very dare you accuse them of cringery. All of them are proud Scots, and all of them love Scotland. But the truth is that they are like religious fundamentalists who say that they have no problems with gay people, they love gay people. It’s just gay sex that’s wrong. Gay people can be loved as long as they don’t do anything gay. The Scottish Unionist fundamentalists have no problems with Scottish people, it’s just expressing Scottishness that’s wrong.

The old saying goes that familiarity breeds contempt, and Scottish culture is the everyday, the lived experience. As such it must be of lesser value than the imagined British culture to which the fundamentalist Unionist aspires. Only this imagined British culture is just that – an imagining. The irony is that the claims of Unionists to a less parochial cultural aspiration rest upon a deep rooted parochialism. There’s nothing much to distinguish Scotland from England, they cry. And they are correct. But the problem for their argument is that it can also be applied in equal measure to Ireland. And more, since so many British Unionists suffer from the same propensity to monolingualism that besets the rest of the English speaking world, they do not realise that what they say about the commonalities between Scottish people and English people also apply to the rest of the human race.

I lived in Spain for many years, am fluent in Spanish, have many close Spanish friends – many of whom don’t speak English. Yet most of the “very British problems” which were aired in a humorous Twitter hashtag and a TV show recently also apply to them. They are problems of the human condition, not distinctive features of a pan-British culture. Britishness corrals and confines, it’s no more a platform to a wider world than Scottishness is. In fact, it’s less so, as it’s an unlived experience, an imagining not a daily life.

Of course, the real reason that the right wing Scottish commentariat don’t want more Scottish content on our national broadcaster, and don’t want our national broadcaster actually to be a national broadcaster, is quite simple and self-serving. The more Scottish our telly becomes, the less of a place there will be on it for right wing media persons who are dismissive, denigrating and deprecating of Scottish culture and politics. Whereas just now our media revolves around their opinions, in a Scottish media they’d become the marginal figures that they truly are. This is not a country which votes for the right in any huge numbers, yet spokespersons of the right are represented in our media in numbers which are vastly out of proportion to the society which they claim to speak for. Or more accurately, the society they speak down to from their lofty position on the Great British soapbox.

That’s why they are so viscerally opposed to our public funded broadcasting service becoming more representative of the public it serves. A publicly funded Scottish media that was controlled and regulated within Scotland would not be the platform for unchallenged right wing Unionism that the Scottish media currently allows itself to be. You don’t need a column in a right wing newspaper to work that out. They need to get tae.

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The unbearable snideness of Iain

Once upon a time, there was a discredited Tory leader. There’s been a fair few of those. This one had led his party to electoral humiliation at the hands of Tony Blair’s New Labour, and his lack of leadership skills, his insensitivity and tin ear, his gross incompetence, and his inability to distinguish truth from fiction had caused him to become the most risible leader of a major political party in decades. And that was no mean feat because this is the UK, where establishment incompetence and venality is so entrenched that Gordon Broon is still regarded – at least by the media – as a statesman instead of a man in a bit of a state.

That Tory leader was Iain Duncan Smith. It all started off so well, the Tory hopes that the quiet man of the right would set the party on the road to power after the serial disasters of William Hague’s term and leader were as bright as the glare on Iain’s shiny bald head which was going to rise like a full moon and cover up the star struck embarrassment of Wullie in a baseball cap yo-ing wit da yoof in a pathetically transparent attempt to make like the Tories still had some sort of relevance in the 21st century. The Tory party assured its media acolytes that there would be no more of this press office idiocy, and moon heid Iain’s straight talking and no-nonsense leadership would be a total eclipse of the spun.

The Tories had invested a lot of confidence in a man whose previous term in high office had been restricted to shouting at squaddies while having a sergeant major standing behind him. Following in the traditional pattern of rich and well connected families with idiot offspring, Iain got a commission in the British army. Unsuprisingly, within months it became clear that Iain was scarcely fit to manage a knitting pattern, as he purled himself in knots before the press on a daily basis. Sadly for Iain, but not anyone else, it all unravelled as quickly as the sock puppets on the BBC news, snagged on Nick Robinson’s toenails.

The core difficulty with Iain’s term in office wasn’t any great political dispute, it wasn’t any high priniciples. It wasn’t even the traditional Tory seppuku of party self harm over EU membership. It was that he was a duplicitious lying wee shyster and everyone was laughing at him. It soon transpired that Iain’s claims to have studied at the highly prestigious Italian university of Perugia boiled down in reality to having looked at a pamphlet advertising a course when he was there one weekend with his terribly well off missus, eating pasta and pizza on the piazza.

Iain had wrought such utter devastation on his own party and his own reputation that he wasn’t even able to take the traditional way out, accepting a directorship in a City financial institution. That’s how crap he was, and City financial institutions don’t exactly demand competence, skill, knowledge, or indeed moral probity from their political refugees. Instead, Iain had to flee on pilgrimage to Easterhoose in the hope of rescuing the remnants of his career from the wreckage of ruinage he’d brought down on his own baldy head. You have to be pretty piss poor as a Tory if you need to go and find some credibility in Easterhoose.

Iain came to Easterhoose. He basked in the poverty like a supplicant seeking salvation. Which is exactly what he was, unfortunately the only saving he was seeking was the salvation of his career. And as soon as he’d re-established a place for himself in the Tory party as the man who really “got” poverty, he pissed off in a posh car to a big house, a feat previously only achieved by some of the more entrepreneurial minded residents of the scheme. But Iain did it with pharisee press calls instead of pharmaceuticals.

Rebranding himself as a compassionate Conservative, Iain rebranded compassion too. Previously it meant to share in someone’s suffering, to feel their pain. Iain’s compassionate Conservatism means sharing out the pain so everyone suffers. Everyone except people like Iain, who have had the good fortune to have well connected and wealthy families. Iain’s never had to worry about feeding his well padded stomach. He’s never had to fret about ensuring that his kids have new shoes, that they’ll wake up in a house that’s heated. Iain’s got a cosy life, and that apparently makes him an expert in the psychology of poverty. Although admittedly a day trip to Shandwich Shopping Centre is more experience of poverty than any of the rest of the Tory Eton Boy cabinet have got.

Now Iain is telling us that work is good for your health, and wants us to believe that forcing the sick, the disabled and the terminally ill out to work in a crappy job on the minimum wage is actually a form of therapy for them. It’s all for their own good, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with an ideologically driven assault on the state. Heaven forfend you could think that. Iain’s a compassionate Christian Conservative.

Iain’s the kind of Christian that Jesus would condemn along with the money changers in the temple. I’m not a believer, but Iain is the kind of Christian that gives his faith a bad name, and he’s up against child abusing priests for competition. He thinks that social security is charity, and not an essential means of ensuring that all of us have a decent standard of living and a decent life. Because when there is poverty, when there’s a yawning gap between the richest and the poorest and that gap grows every wider, all of us are impoverished.

The usual suspects have joined in the condemnation of Iain’s incompetent compassion. Andy Burnham and the Daily Record fulminate against Tory policies that penalise those who are already poor, that punish the powerless and malkie the marginalised. But Andy condemnation couldn’t stretch to voting against the Conservatives, and the Daily Record campaigned for a No vote so Scotland was left prostrate before the Tory voting shires. Their compassion is as counterfeit as Iain’s.

There’s only one way to ensure that Scotland is safe from Iain’s brand of pitiless compassion and cruel care. That day is coming ever closer, when the unbearable snideness of Iain and the crocodile tears of those who only pretend to oppose are no more.

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The Tories are fucking bastards

The Sunday Herald has reported that Benefits Agency staff are now being given special training so that they know what to say when a claimant threatens suicide. The social security system, the safety net that is supposed to supply the basic needs of citizens who have nowhere else to turn, is killing people. Think about that for a moment. The very system that is supposed to provide succour instead sucks the life from the weak. The only means left to those who have been marginalised to drag themselves back to relevance, instead it tosses them off the edge of the world. We live in a country which points accusingly at those it has betrayed, and condemns them for its own failure.

The means of salvation is the road to death, the sign above the Job Centre tells you to abandon hope, abandon dignity. Your humanity is left at the door and you become a statistic to figure in poverty porn on Channel 4. The comfortably off tsk their disapproval of your poverty. It’s all your own fault for being poor. Perform tricks, jump through hoops like a trained dog. Learn how to sit up nice and beg like a good boy or girl. And then you’ll get your welfare biscuits.

We’re not supposed to call it social security any more. Social security might make the poor think that they have a right to dignity. We’re supposed to call it welfare – a weasel word that reeks of charity and the kind bestowal of privilege by the powerful. Bugger that. We should not allow ourselves to be complicit in the murdering of language by the state, in its abuse of words in an attempt to hide the establishment’s own shame and disgrace.

In one of the richest countries in the world it’s not a privilege to have food in your stomach. It’s a right. It’s not a privilege to have a roof over your head. It’s a right. It’s not a privilege to have warmth in your home. It’s a right. In a country with an embarrassment of energy resources our political masters should be embarrassed and ashamed that there are people who cannot afford to heat their houses in a freezing winter. But the privileged look to their investments, they look to their directorships, they look to their wealth and they don’t look the poor in the eye.

Every homeless person, every begging outstretched hand, every paper cup proffered on a pavement, every sign scrawled in sobs, every tin of beans given in a foodbank, is a direct consequence of the refusal of the rich to accept that they have a responsibility to the society that has allowed them to amass their wealth. The rich in the 21st century tell the masses the solution lies in Victorian charity, while they squirrel their wealth away in tax havens. Those who suck wealth call themselves wealth creators, and we’re all impoverished as a result.

According to the Black Triangle group who campaign for disability rights, by March this year at least 80 people had committed suicide after being let down by the safety net that strangles, the safety net that kills. Almost 50 others had died as a direct result of benefits sanctions. Ponder that for a moment, and weep. Weep and grieve for the dead, howl in rage for the thousands more driven to desperate measures, to begging in the street, to trudging to food banks.

Claimants threatening suicide is now considered a likelihood. It’s now such a commonplace occurrence that policies and plans are put in place to deal with it. It clearly hasn’t occurred to the politicians who have ultimate responsibily for the system that the best way to deal with people who have been driven to suicide by the benefits system is to change the system so it supplies people’s basic needs and then the question of suicide would never arise.

The barbarities of the bedroom tax have driven disabled people from their homes. Bankers enjoy their bonuses on the back of a disabled man who has to bathe in a blow up pool because the state says it’s too expensive to allow him to remain in a house adapted for his needs.

When you’re poor, you’re not allowed to have human dignity. This is modern Britain. This is the state that Scotland remains in thrall to, a state of disgrace, a state of despair, a state of desolation.

I try hard to think of elegant and expressive words, to craft the perfect phrase. But then sometimes I just think – the Tories are fucking bastards. And the passionless appeasers who suck the soul and spirit from the Labour party are every bit as bad. The Tories and the Labour right condemn us to live in a society where consumerism consumes conscience, where avarice eats altruism, where capitalism craps on care and compassion. There is no place for the humane or the human in modern Britain. All there is left is the stultifying merry go round of trivialities of the Great British pat on the back, the Great British self-regard, the Great British blindness, the Great British PPI rip off. Like the wizened victim of bad plastic surgery this decrepit caricature of a state looks at itself in the mirror and thinks it looks damn fine. It can’t see what we see. It’s too far gone up its own arse. This is not a state that can be reformed. It can only be begun anew.

There is no more to say, only a righting of wrongs to seek, only a settling of scores to pursue. I can weep, weep weep because in the jaggy leaves of the thistle there is no more a Scotland where I was born like you. But I’m done weeping. I will grieve no more. I will stand arm in arm with my sisters and brothers and get angry, get organised, get even. I will live to see a new Scotland, a land where dignity has value, not a price.

Our day will come. There will be another independence referendum, and next time it’s personal.

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The Nick Robinson show

The British establishment media is parochial and provincial, narra-nebbit and noxious. Living entirely inside a wee anglophone bubble in London, many, if not most, of its denizens speak only two languages – English and Troll – and I’m not too sure about their command of English. BBC political editor Nick Robinson would disagree however, he has investigated himself and absolved himself of trollery. It’s all the fault of independence supporters for hating the English.

During the independence referendum campaign last year, Nick had a well publicised spat with Alicsammin during a press conference. In search of an anti-independence headline Nick asked Alicsammin about the Royal Bank of Scotland, and got his airse handed to him on a plate. Nick then went on the main BBC news at six and said that Alicsammin hadn’t answered the question that he had in fact answered. It’s just that Nick didn’t like what he’d been told, and was annoyed not to get the another blow for independence headline he’d been so plainly trawling for.

So rather than admit that Alicsammin had given him an answer that was not to his pleasing, Nick just made it up and the report he gave on the BBC’s flagship news programme was even more fictitious than Gordie Broon’s vow. Nick now says that he “phrased his report badly”. He phrased it so badly that it said the opposite of what actually transpired. That’s a special type of mealy moothed mendacious that is.

This incident came after months of biased and one sided reporting by Scotland’s national broadcaster, and for many it was the Robinson that broke the camel’s back. Nick really should have known that the BBC’s reputation in Scotland was dangling by a very frayed thread. Instead of doing what he could to bolster the BBC’s reputation, he pulled on the thread for his own reasons. The last shreds of the BBC’s credibility unravelled like an old sock, the toe of truth popped out, and it kicked the BBC on the bum.

In their anger and dismay, several thousand ordinary licence payers demonstrated outside the BBC’s Scottish headquarters. The demonstration was entirely peaceful and non-violent. There were no disturbances, there were no arrests. But they weren’t there purely because of Nick Robinson – frankly Nick, you’re not that important. If the BBC’s coverage of the referendum until Nick’s misrepresentation had been unbiased and as fearless in its criticism of the No campaign as it was of the Yes campaign, then Nick’s wee invention would have been dismissed as an individual lapse. But it wasn’t an individual lapse, it was part of a pattern of lies, obfuscation, misrepresentation, one-sidedness and outright pro-Union propaganda.

In a bout of self-justifying whining, Nick – who has a book to sell – is now trying to shift the debate onto the protests. He’s claiming that it was organised or approved by the SNP government, when it was no such thing. It was spontaneously organised by ordinary voters and licence fee payers in Scotland. The protests did not have the support, blessing or backing of the Scottish Government.

In a crude attempt to make out that he is the victim of his victimisation, he is also repeating the lie that the term “metropolitan” is code for English, and that public distaste in Scotland for the way in which he misrepresented the press conference and Alicsammin’s answer is motived by hatred for English people. Specifically English reporters covering Scotland’s independence debate. Hiding behind weasel words may be Nick’s modus operandi, but it’s not true for the rest of us. If I wanted to say something against the English I’m perfectly capable of using the word English to refer to them. But then, like the overwhelming majority of independence supporters I have no beef with the English. My late partner was English, my daughters are English. And I resent having to mention that in order to prove my non-English hating credentials. There are plenty of English people I have a deep personal animus against, but my distaste for them has nothing to do with their nationality and everything to do with personal issues. There are even more Scottish people I have issues with, which on Nick’s logic makes me an anti-Scottish racist.

Personally I’m sick fed up with the claim that Scottish independence is driven by hatred of the English. It’s a claim which is in itself racist, based on the stereotype that there is nothing distinctive or different about Scotland and its political culture – that Scotland is defined by opposition to England and nothing else. It’s a claim beloved of Scotland’s Unionists who have a cultural cringe a mile and half wide, it serves to justify their own belittling and depreciation of their own culture.

Metropolitanism is the belief that the entire world revolves around the metropole and defines itself with reference to it. It’s far easier for the likes of Nick to imagine that they are hated than it is for them to accept the reality that they are irrelevant. After all, when you’re hated you’re still important. But Nick isn’t that important, and he has nothing of interest to say about Scotland. It’s a country he neither understands nor appreciates. Still, I am sure he loves us, just as long as we continue to play our supporting role in the Great British Pageant – the role that allows British nationalists to pretend that their nationalism isn’t nationalist at all.

We have a right to expect reporters for the national broadcaster to be even handed and unbiased. We have a right to express our displeasure when the national broadcaster fails in its duty and responsibility to us. The correct comparison with Putin’s Russia is that we have a state broadcaster which slavishly supports the establishment, the state, and vested interests and which deliberately sets out to undermine, traduce, and marginalise opposing voices. Nick is not the one who’s been refused a platform here, he’s made a speech at the Edinburgh book festival about how he’s being silenced. He’s got articles in the press about how he’s been silenced. He’s published a book about how he’s been silenced – coming to a remainder bookshop near you soon. For a man who’s being silenced he’s not short of platforms to stand on to tell everyone he’s been silenced.

Meanwhile the case for independence is still sidelined and ignored in the mainstream media. Independence supporters are still traduced and insulted. We deserve better than this. The real lesson to take from the Nick Robinson show is that we need to devolve the BBC now.

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One party in a state

According to complaints voiced regularly by the surprisingly large number of right wing Unionist commentators which a left leaning country produces, Scotland is now a one party state. The overwhelming dominance of the SNP, which is currently crushing all the other parties the opinion polls, means that Scotland has no effective opposition. This is of course a very bad thing, because the right wing Unionist commentators’ favourite parties are scarecely getting a look in.

Some, well I say some, I mean the Tories’ Adam Tomkins, has published a blog saying that he’s now confident that the Union is safe. Adam has leapt to this conclusion, or rather fond hope, precisely because the SNP is doing so well. Essentially his argument boils down to “we must be scraping the bottom of the barrel now” and there can’t be any downwards left to go. He’s clearly not taken the Labour party into account here, as there seem to be no limits to the depths of the hole that party is digging for itself.

The thing is, it’s not that Scotland is a one party state because the SNP is so fantastic. The SNP is merely competent. Scotland is a one party state because the opposition is fecking hopeless, and there is absolutely no sign that any of the Unionist parties are about to get their act together any time soon. This is as true of Adam’s beloved Tories as it is of Labour and the functionally extinct Lib Dems. Tory leader Ruth Davidson is so confident of success in May that she’s bagsied herself a flying carpet to a list seat in Edinburgh where she can escape the wipeout awaiting the party in the West. Adam’s hopes of revival rest upon the dubious condition that voters who get fed up with the SNP will once again put their faith in the same Unionist parties that they’ve already lost faith in. But the big flaw in his argument is that this isn’t a one party state, this is a democracy, and other pro-independence parties are available.

It’s vanishingly unlikely that anyone is going to put their faith in Labour any time soon. Labour is killing itself. The only contest that Labour is winning is the contest for party least likely to inspire confidence. It’s not just that Kezia Dugdale’s all new Labour cabinet looks exactly like Jim Murphy’s all new Labour cabinet which looked exactly like Johann Lamont’s all new Labour cabinet. Labour’s new team is the same as its old team and the old team was pretty mince. Any party leadership which thinks James Kelly MSP is one of its leading lights is in deep trouble. James’s only claim to fame is that he once narrowly failed to make the finals in the World’s Most Boring Man competition. Even Iain Gray is less grey. Kezia’s problem however is that she’s having to make her selection from a very shallow pool. The only reason the stagnant pond has still got oxygen is because of the amount of puffery it receives from BBC Scotland.

But even if you do change your mind and decide that you want to support the Labour party after having supported someone else, the Labour party is making it pretty clear that you will not be welcome. The Labour party is now engaged in purging members and supporters who it believes have voted the wrong way in its leadership election. By the wrong way, they of course mean voted for Jeremy Corbyn. Those whose votes and membership are no longer welcome even include people who have previously stood as candidates for council seats for Labour, union members, and Labour supporters of many years standing.

The purged ones have been grassed up to Labour’s compliance unit because they may once have said something on social media that showed less than brainless acceptance of whatever right wing craziness the Labour party leadership was espousing that week. Funnily enough none of the supporters of the three interchangeable wonks has been purged, only supporters of the only candidate who actually stands for anything recognisable as Labour values.

We’ve crossed through a magic mirror into a topsy turvy world where you get purged from the Labour party for supporting a socialist leadership candidate, apparently being left wing isn’t progressive, or at least not the right kind of progressive – with the emphasis on right. And to think the party’s right wing think that it’s Corbyn supporters who have taken leave of their senses. By a spooky coincidence the new Labour purge is happening on the 75th anniversary of Leon Trotsky being purged by an ice pick in his head. The modern Labour party is equally determined to stick an ice pick in the head of anything that could be described as socialist or left wing.

Labour has now become a party which refuses to accept that people who once supported other parties have changed their minds and now support Labour instead. Although to be fair, you only need to look at the shower of idiots, placepersons, and robotic careerists who lead the party to realise that it is pretty implausible that anyone would drop their commitment to the Monster Raving Looney party and shift to Labour instead. But as they complain about the SNP crushing all opposition, perhaps they ought to remember that it’s doing so because it has welcomed new members who formerly supported other parties. The difference of course is that the SNP does actually have some principles that it stands for.

Still what the Labour party hierarchy is doing is nothing new. It used to be all the rage in Northern Ireland. It’s called gerrymandering. When you can’t be sure that you’ll get the election result that suits you, you don’t change your own policies, you change the electorate instead. The only contest that Labour is winning is the one where they make themselves even less popular than the Tories.

Scotland is continuing its progress to being a one party state, aided immeasurably by one party in a state, a state of confusion, a state of disgrace, a state of betrayal of everything it once stood for. Labour still has a lot of digging to do before it reaches the bottom of the pit, and when it does stop, it will be because there’s no party left.

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