Well it’s all over now. Decided. Minds made up. No need to say a syllable more. JK Rowling backed up by her island of lawyers has pronounced upon the EU referendum with a Harry Potter reference and it’s all over the papers. JK and Harry Potter and want us all to remain a part of the EU, in case you were wondering. Although if you’re a regular reader of this blog it’s a pretty safe bet that you weren’t. Discovering you’re on the same side of an argument as JK Rowling isn’t generally regarded as being a sure-fire signal that you’re doing the right thing, at least not in this household, and I am quite sure in many others.
It’s not that authors of fantasy fiction for young people have no right to express an opinion. Of course she does. She has every right to pronounce upon any topic that takes her fancy, and she frequently does. It’s what we all aspire to. When I become a grown up writer I want to write a series of books for young adults, sell the rights to Hollywood for a series of blockbusting movies, become a billionaire on the royalties, and then sit on Twitter threatening people with defamation. That’s living the high life that is.
It’s just a bit wearing that every time JK Rowling indulges herself in a Harry Potter reference on social media about something serious and non-fictional that’s going on in the world it’s plastered all over the front pages of the newspapers as though it were the latest addendum to the tablets of the ten commandments which were handed down by God to Moses Potter on Mount Sinai. Which is apparently somewhere near Hogwarts and only accessible via a special camel train on Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station. The publicity her views receive is probably not unrelated to the way in which a claque of journaloids hang on to each of her 140 characters as though they were holy writ. It saves them from having to do any proper work.
Journaloids, in case you were wondering, are people who give the outward appearance of being employed as news gatherers without actually gathering anything newsworthy, and who prefer to collect fluff from the navels of celebrities which they write up without any semblance of wit, originality, or skill. If you read through the lightweight tripe they produce you could be forgiven for believing that the search for some weighty news was as difficult and technical as the search for gravity waves.
It’s not as if JK Rowling’s intervention is going to alter the outcome in any way. Most people who possess IQs in at least double digits are not swayed in their political opinions by celebs. No one hangs on to Rylan’s words of wisdom on the debt crisis in the Mediterranean, although to be fair he probably thinks it’s got something to do with a shortage of sun loungers. No one cares about Kim Kardashian’s views on Syria, although Kanye probably thinks that it would all be solved if only he had a starring role. The reason, the only reason, we get some much of our newspapers filled up with the vacuous views of entertainers is because it saves the newspapers from having to do any proper work, and in saving themselves from proper work they’re not doing their job of holding the powerful to account.
Both sides in this EU referendum campaign have been indulging themselves in dishonesty and lies on a truly epic scale. I want Scotland to remain a part of the EU, but our intelligence is insulted by the hyperbolic scaremongering of the remain campaign just as most people are revolted by the racist dog-whistling of Nigel Farage for the leave campaign. Actually it’s not even dog-whistling, it’s audible to one and all. Amidst all the screaming in the dumbed down hysteria that passes for an EU referendum campaign you can’t hear any truth or sense. And instead of clarifying and simplifying things for the public, the media is screaming the most. You only need to look at the headlines in the press to be overcome by a feeling of nausea and despair. All you’re going to learn is that both sides in this campaign think that the public have less intelligence than a wannabe Rylan who has fried their brains on a sunbed.
Right now as I type this, leave supporter Michael Forsyth, Thatcher’s former bagman in Scotland who presided over the annihilation of his party but who still gets to sit in the House of Lords influencing our laws, is pontificating on an EU referendum debate on BBC Scotland about how important it is for a country to be governed by people that it votes for and the injustice of laws being made by politicians who are unaccountable. That’s right, a man who was utterly rejected by voters and whom we can’t get rid of thinks it’s wrong that other people influence laws without being directly accountable to the voters. It’s fine as long as it’s Tories like him though. Self-awareness was never one of Mikey’s strong suits. Thankfully an audience member has asked him whether the phrase pot, kettle, and black means anything to him. It takes a punter to ask the questions that the media won’t ask.
One person screaming is a ranter, it takes two to create a rammy. This is a campaign which is dominated and led by Tory men, in which Conservative concerns are the only ones which get an airing, and in which the tone is set by the Tories. When the nasty party holds a referendum, it’s going to get nasty. The tone we see just now is how the Conservatives conduct their politics. You’re going to get an incoherent and bitter campaign when it’s run by a party which sees no problem in governing Scotland despite the fact that their support is confined to a small minority of Scottish voters, which cheerfully stuffs the unelected House of Lords with placepersons like Mikey Forsyth, and then preaches about how unfair it is that the popular will is ignored.
There is a serious and thoughtful debate to be had about the European Union, about its structures and its goals and the place of the United Kingdom and Scotland within it. This is not that debate. We’re not going to get it as long as we have a media which is more interested in reporting the opinions of celebrities than it is in asking difficult questions of the Palace of Westminster. This is a campaign reported by journaloids.
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