This week the Daily Record, a newspaper with all the self-awareness of a Labour MP in Scotland just before the last election staring at the oncoming headlights of the SNP freight train and thinking the bright lights are going to make them a star, claims that the infamous Vow has been fulfilled. It has been fulfilled in exactly the same way as my vow this time last year to climb Mount Everest. Since I am currently writing this article up two flights in a close in Barlanark, that’s a vow fulfilled. There’s even a furrow that’s been worn in my carpet.
Barlanark is at least up a hill, and so enjoys a position of prominence, which is a damn sight more than can be said for Gordie Broon and the Daily Record’s vow that if Scotland voted No we’d get “safer and faster change” giving us Home Rule and the nearest thing possible to full fat federalism.
What we’ve witnessed instead is Gordie Broon and his precious vow vanishing with even less of a trace than a wee puddle of pug pee in the afternoon sun. Which is also a fair assessment of the lasting consequences of the hagiographic commentary in the Mailesque fanboydom that passes for much of the mainstream media in the UK.
On the day after the lowest paid workers have lost £4.4 billion in tax credits, there’s a refugee crisis provoked by decades of Western manipulation and arms dealing in the Middle East, and while global warming continues unabated and the Pacific ocean is seeing the worst El Niño for 65 years, the UK media is obsessed by the fact that the new leader of the Labour party didn’t sing a song asking a god he doesn’t believe in to save a monarchy he doesn’t believe in which isn’t in any danger anyway. If it were possible to harness disapproving tuts from the media, the UK would have a limitless supply of renewable energy.
The truth is that if he had sung the bloody anthem, the same papers would be full of headlines denouncing the republican atheist Corbyn for his God Save the Queen hypocrisy. It doesn’t matter what he does, the papers are going to disapprove. If they’d devoted one hundreth of the vigour which they devote to denouncing Corbyn to a critical examination of Gordie Broon’s vow, the outcome of the independence referendum might have been very different. And that’s precisely why they didn’t, and a perfect illustration of how our media is a force for manipulation by the establishment and the powerful, and not a mirror to society. It is unfit for purpose.
However pointing out that the UK media is unfit for purpose counts as an attack on press freedom, at least according to the same people who think that they have the right to spout any auld pish in the papers but don’t think that the punters have the right to point out that it’s pish.
The UK media is repeating the same mistake with Jeremy Corbyn as they made with the SNP. The media demonised a perfectly middle of the road social democratic party, and actually claimed that it was just like the North Koreans, that it’s an irrational religious cult, that it brainwashes and abuses. Every action by the SNP, no matter how mild mannered or reasonable, provoked a howl of outlandish and outrageous outrage from the Daily Mailesque pug-pissers. And in so doing, the media destroyed any credibility that it once possessed, because if all you hear are hyperbolic denunciations of perfectly reasonable propositions, then you’re not going to listen to reasonable criticism of unreasonable actions. The media did this with the SNP, and now half of Scotland no longer listens to a word the media says. The Daily Telegraph could publish an expose of goat sacrificing by the SNP leadership to propitiate Satan, and half of Scotland would shrug its shoulders and go meh.
We’re now witenessing the exact same process with Jeremy Corbyn, only on steroids. He’s constantly referred to as “a left winger” even by the BBC, but they don’t describe Davie Cameron as a right winger, even though he undoubtedly is. If this keeps up, by this time next year, most of the UK will have ceased to believe a word that the mainstream media publishes – and ensuring that most people disregard them is probably the best public service our newspapers and broadcaster could provide, because that’s how irredeemably piss-poor they are. But saying that makes me an enemy of free speech, because free speech doesn’t apply to ordinary people on the Internet, that’s abuse.
But back to Gordie, who has been easy to miss. Gordie has been invisible for the past year, despite swearing blind on national telly, or more correctly on the news where we are, to a fawning interviewer, that he personally would guarantee the delivery to Scotland of puppies, cute kittens, tax powers, control over knitting patterns, and the TV remote control. He then vanished only to pop up pacing the carpet in doomed attempts to save the Labour party in Scotland and prevent Jeremy Corbyn’s victory during which he refused to answer any questions about the promises he’d made a few months before.
According to a recent opinion poll only a tiny proportion of Scotland’s voters believe that the Vow has been fulfilled. That’s the same proportion that includes Daily Record leader writers, BBC Scotland management, and the last remaining dregs of the Unionist parties in Scotland. It’s also the same proportion which believes that Elvis is alive and well and serving fish suppers in a chip shop in Methil, that the BBC’s Scotland 2015 is a programme worth watching instead of a documentary about the struggles of Norwegian wallpaper hangers, and that we really are Better Together with the Labour party.
The Vow was never meant to be fulfilled. It was always an exercise in cynicism, a vague set of unspecified promises that could be spun as a substantial grant of real powers but which was hollow and meaningless. That’s what it was always meant to be, and in that sense, and only in that sense, it has delivered. It has delivered the bankruptcy of the Scottish media and the Scottish unionist parties. It’s also delivered the agenda into the hands of the Yes campaign, and it’s why one year on from the referendum which the No campaign won, we’re still here and we’re still on the road to independence.
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