There are few creatures more confused and bewildered nowadays than your average Unionist commentator. Scotland voted No, right? Yet here we are, almost 18 months later, and the Union is as shaky and insecure as ever. It wasn’t supposed to be like this back in those heady pre-referendum days when the metrocommentariat was confidently predicting a massive No victory that would consign the Nessie of separatism its watery grave, where it would rest with other the mythical beasties that needn’t trouble the grown ups. Beasties like social democracy, democratic accountability, and social justice.
But Nessie is alive and well and challenging stereotypes, objecting vociferously when supposedly adult current affairs programmes on the BBC report on Scottish politics with backdrops of bagpipes and loch monsters. And she’s been joined by her socialist sisters bellowing and threatening. The establishment must man the barricades to prevent them breaking into the mainstream. But it’s too late, and the Westminions are reduced to poking fun at the marginal elements in a hopeless attempt to infect the movements that are about to overwhelm them.
Never mind that the Union is disappearing quicker than candy floss in a pond. Never mind that the mainstream media has lost credibility more completely than a Tory MP in a compassion contest. Look over there! There’s those three guys in the Scottish Resistance picketing the Tunnock’s factory. Those independence supporters, what are they like eh? Eh? Eh? No really, they’re the crazy out of touch ones, not us. Oh no not us. Not us with our invites onto BBC current affairs programmes and our editorials about how Jeremy Corbyn’s taste in socks means he’ll never be Prime Minister.
The ones with most to gain from bigging up the fringe factions of the Scottish independence movement are the bubble dwellers of the Unionist commentariat. That’s how far they’ve got to look before they can find people who are more out of touch than they are. So naturally a tiny fringe group which is in no way reflective of the mainstream of a mass movement supported by half of Scotland gets more publicity than the mainstream movement. It suits the Unionist parties that way. There are in fact more photos of Unionist journalists ironically wearing Scottish Resistance t-shirts than there are members of the Scottish Resistance.
All movements have fringes, but the more extreme fringes of the Scottish independence movement attract considerable attention from the mainstream media, attention that the self same media doesn’t give to the fringes of the Unionism. This is the case even though the lunatic fringe of Unionism, the crazy dangerous anti-democratic frayed edges of a former colonialist state, are far larger and far more influential than anything that Scottish independence has to offer. The mainstream media in this country works very hard to present the image of psychotic separatists, while turning an indulgently blind eye to the excesses of the swivel eyed yoons.
There are many swivel eyed extremists of yoonery. There are the balloons who inflate their egos on Twitter. There are the marchers in sashes and crimpolene uniforms. There are the fascists who hate and spread poison. They all get a free pass from the press that searches out cybernats. But those aren’t the ones who should worry us most. The ones that we should worry about are the ones who sit in Westminster. The ones whose idea of a good day’s work is to make sure that their fellow citizens live in houses that aren’t fit for human habitation. The ones who demonise doctors. They’re the ones who think that the poor need to be punished in order to make them productive but the rich must always be rewarded and placated. But they’re the ones that our press calls the moderates.
The extremists are the ones who have not lost sight of humanity, who know that you can’t be properly human if you’re not humane. If that’s the case, then I’m proud to be an extremist, because if a neo-liberal Labour MP or a benefits slashing banker’s bonus backing Tory is a centrist then this state has lost all sense of balance and proportion. The role of the media should be to point out the madness, to highlight the insanity, to take a stand for those who are punished by the powerful. Instead it acts as a cheerleader for an establishment that it has become a part of.
This was very clear from Thursday’s edition of Question Time, a programme which has long since descended into a parody of establishment values. There was a right wing politician, a righter wing politician, two right wing journalists, and a token lefty to provide the obligatory BBC definition of balance. One of the right wing journos, the posh one claimed to be speaking for the ordinary person, for the man in the street. And doubtless she was, if you define ordinary as well heeled, well connected, a fully paid up member of the British establishment and the street you have in mind is Whitehall.
The reason that the media spend so much time attacking the interest that ordinary people, that’s real ordinary people not the kind of ordinary people who Times journalists claim to represent, is because the metrocommentariat bubble has long since floated away into the ether. It’s currently levitating in the vacuum, in orbit around Uranus. It’s a symptom of press ownership in this country. A handful of oligarchs control the bulk of the press, and naturally the press reflects the concerns of its owners and those promoted within it are those who articulate the thoughts of the wealthy. In the UK the mainstream media has ceased to act as a bulwark of democracy, it’s one of the threats against it.
We can look forward to a lot more press coverage of the unrepresentative fringes of our movement, especially as the election campaign gets going. The bubble wants us to to believe that an extreme fringe is as representative of the independence movement because the bubble is itself only representative of an extreme fringe. It hasn’t worked in the past and it’s not going to work now. Our media is going to continue to be bewildered and confused, lost in their bubble floating away in the empty sky as the currents of life move on without them. One day, one day soon, the bubble will burst and no one will care. We’ll have moved on with a media we’re creating for ourselves from the ground up.
The real troublemakers are the ones who will spoil the media bubble.
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