A guest post by Samuel Miller
From the lack of serious Scottish political news out there you’d be forgiven for thinking that bugger all is happening. Not to mention you may be feeling a bit frustrated, anxious or downright borderline paranoid. Perhaps worth remembering, that one way or another this is going to be a fairly important year for Scotland’s population. There is a lot going on in political and legal circles people aren’t normally privy to and won’t necessarily understand the necessity of, (there always is). It’s also WHY we have a political class. They are there to administer and manage the process/procedures of government. They are there to deal with and within these legalities, adhere to their mandated pledges, and work in the best interests of the population in their care. That is to say, a duty of care without fear or favour. The REAL day job.
This lack of knowledge does NOT make the public stupid. A little explanation now and again can go a long way for people who aren’t anoraks, but who do feel anxious or afraid (bit of a theme of mine this week). You can see why it is also where the less altruistic, or less ethical, elements of establishment parties and the mainstream media find this lack of knowledge or engagement fertile ground. Mmmm… and by less altruistic and ethical, I mean pretty much all of them and the horse they rode in on. (And do we really need to revisit every scandal, fib and theft in parliamentary history followed by a blow by blow account of the Leveson inquiry? Not to mention the sheer animosity displayed over the past several years by the vast majority of the UK media toward the concept of independence, the Scottish government and YES movement?)
Ignorance is their friend as we’ve seen time and again. They use people’s lack of political engagement and knowledge on say; constitutional law, the Scotland bill settlement, devolved and reserved issues, the nature of the Barnett formula, to basically confuse at best or make shit up at worst. They also create memes, project definitions and narratives to harm or hinder demographics and opposition as required (see under ‘Nat’s’ and YES movement’s major motivation apparently being hatred of the English and generally just being unpleasant, blood and soil, tartan terror, most dangerous wummin, blah de blah… sigh). Like chimps on a sugar rush, they chuck pooh in all directions knowing some will stick and become a set myth. Finally, these reckless, (some might say idiotic), elements have apparently limitless access to similar elements within a mainstream media which appears only too willing to disseminate and/or give credence to their guff. Oh, and the popular market saturation to spread it far and wide. The detrimental effect this has on wider society? Well, they don’t seem too bothered about that. A win’s a win and they can always create another narrative to sweep the scraps together at a later date when they need a vote or two. People will understand. It’s not personal. It’s just politics.
Charmers one and all really.
So here’s the pitch. People fear the unknown and as we’ve previously noted, not everyone is interested in politics or will be engaged by it. They just want it to work and have someone to blame when it doesn’t. These are the people who need to hear the opposing view and be provided with access to information and opinion which is counter to an often alarming mainstream narrative. New media sites like this, video media sources such as Phantom Power, Livestream, Truly Scottish TV and hardcopy voices such as the National and iScot, are the only balance and representation near half of Scotland’s population have at their disposal. The only opportunity to shine some light in those dark corners and dispel needless or callously engendered fears. Spookily though, even with all their power, access and wealth, the establishment are still fearful of such relatively small voices. That should really tell you something.
I mean, could it actually be that this new media does have a knack for cutting through wonk speak and metro babble? Might it be that butterfly effect thingy has some legs right enough? Clearly for some that would never do. Tut! Maybe also worth a thought readers, but with knowledge fear of the unknown lessens. Once you have seen or learnt a thing for yourself, it cannot be unseen or unlearnt. I’d say that without question and if it was at all possible, there are political and media elements who would deny people even this route to representation and self expression. Some folk apparently don’t like competition for their narratives. Who knew?
This year, of all years, with Brexit looming, austerity ideology still in full effect and a central government seemingly set on deconstructing a devolution settlement IT created to suit its own ends. This year, we need to focus on keeping these lines of communication open. Call it a hunch, but I think we’re going to need every means of reaching people we can get our hands on and in the not too distant future.
Without them? We go back to the days of mushroom farming and sleepwalking toward that cliff edge. Now I don’t know about you readers, but other than the aforementioned fungi, I can’t think of anyone who would appreciate being kept in the dark and fed on sh… manure.