The Scottish media pack has got itself a bone, and it’s going to chew it. And chew it. Lost amonst the vast tundra-like acreage of the Scottish media’s coverage of Alex Salmond, there was an article this week entitled Alex Salmond Is Looking For Blood. And I thought to myself, clearly, he’s not the only one. You could say the same about the vast majority of the Scottish media. Today there was yet another column, this time entitled It’s Not Going To End Well. And indeed it’s not, although I suspect that it’s not Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon who need to be worried in the longer term.
Despite the MeToo movement, despite what seemed to have been a new consensus that allegations of sexual harrassment should be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity, that the feelings and voices of the alleged victims should be central to the investigation, the Scottish media is hell bent on using the allegations against Alex Salmond as a political tool to bring down the Scottish government and the independence movement. They’re doing this without the slightest consideration of the alleged victims, Alex Salmond, or indeed anyone else.
What makes the entire episode even more distasteful is that the cheerleaders are the Scottish branches of the Labour and Conservative parties, parties which have themselves very poor recent track records in the investigation of complaints against prominent party members. Their hypocrisy is breathtaking, and entirely unremarked upon by their tag team partners in the Scottish media.
Not that we should be surprised. This is a country where, as it has often been pointed out, the media is wildly unrepresentative of the views of the public it claims to serve. The overwhelmingly British nationalist Scottish media doesn’t see its job as being to hold up a mirror to a Scotland where half the population – and growing – support independence, but rather to do all it can to deny, deflect, and damage the independence movement.
The media in this country are lost in their monomaniacal pursuit of SNPbaddery. Now of course when there are allegations made against a former First Minister, allegations which are not properly investigated leading to that former First Minister taking the government he used to lead to court, that’s a story, no one is denying that. The Scottish civil service has not covered itself with glory here. However the anti-indy media in Scotland is so all-consumed with its hatred of the SNP and the broader independence movement, that it’s unable to put this story into its proper perspective. This is fundamentally a story about individuals, a story which will have limited political implications and effects.
Compare and contrast with what’s going on elsewhere. Right now we’ve learned that the FBI opened an investigation into the sitting president of the USA in order to discover whether he’s a Russian agent. That’s mind-boggling in its implications. The FBI can’t just open an investigation on a whim. There has to be credible and serious evidence. The investigation has to be approved by the US Department of Justice. Yet according to the New York Times, such an investigation was started by the FBI into Donald Trump, an investigation which was apparently then folded into the ongoing Mueller investigation into the president. It is entirely possible, and some would argue plausible, that we live in a world where the American president is acting as an agent for Vladimir Putin. That has enormous implications not just for the USA, but for the rest of the world. No one in the Scottish media has bothered to examine the ramifications of these developments on Scotland, a key part of the NATO alliance and the site of some of Trump’s business interests, because hey, SNPbad.
Somewhat closer to home the British government is in the terminal stages of its Brexitosis disease. For all the talking up in the Scottish media of a supposed SNP civil war, there is a very real and very obvious civil war going on within the Conservative party and the British government. This is a government which preaches about respecting the EU referendum result while using it as an excuse to undermine parliament and treats democratic accountability with open contempt.
The British state currently has the most inept, casually cruel, and irresponsible government in living memory. The British state is perched on the verge of a precipice due to the single minded pursuit by large factions of the Conservative party of the fantasy of British exceptionalism. The government may not last the week, and we could be facing a snap general election in which the Conservatives tear one another apart. Their abnegation of reality and single minded concentration on their narrow short term party political interests has created the most serious crisis in the British state since the end of WW2.
The fantasy is apparently shared – albeit in a British Parliamentary Road to Socialism version – by large parts of the Labour party. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn confirmed on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning that he would fight that snap general election on the basis of his own Brexit fantasy, a so-called jobs-first Brexit. There’s no such thing as a jobs-first Brexit. That’s like saying that there’s a patients-first bubonic plague.
We have a British government, a British political establishment, led by chancers peddling a lie. However the British government hasn’t just pursued an unrealistic Brexit fantasy, it has also used Brexit as a tool to undermine the entire devolution settlement. This was then presented by the Scottish media as some minor quibbling about food standards and package labelling.
Throughout this entire sorry episode in the decline and fall of the British state, the Scottish media has avoided a detailed and thoughtful examination of the effects of Brexit on a Scotland which voted to remain in the EU by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain in the UK. Scotland sits powerlessly on the sidelines, and that’s just fine with the vast majority of the media in Scotland.
As soon as the story broke about allegations being made against Alex Salmond, it was entirely to be expected that the Scottish media would go to town on it. In this country we have a media which has not come to terms with the new Scotland that arose in the 21st century, a Scotland which is increasingly confident within itself and questions its place and role within the UK. The Scottish media still hankers for the days of the late 20th century when talk of independence was marginal and absent from the Scottish political mainstream. As soon as they scented the whiff of blood they were going to go for it, losing themselves in an orgiastic frenzy of SNPbaddery.
The modus operandi of the Scottish media has always been to personalise the cause of independence, to desperately attempt to corral it within the confines of a single political party and its leader. We saw that in the constant repetitions of the phrase Alex Salmond’s referendum during the campaign of 2014. We still see it in the Scottish media’s single minded pursuit of SNPbad stories as a proxy for attacking the broader cause of independence.
Sadly for them it’s not going to work. Whatever the outcome of this story, it won’t have the slightest effect on the demand for Scottish independence. The reality which the British nationalist media in Scotland cannot and will not accept, which they wilfully refuse to comprehend, is that the Scottish independence movement is not driven by the SNP. It’s not a creature of Alex Salmond. It’s not a creature of Nicola Sturgeon. The driving force for the campaign for Scottish independence is the manifest shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies of the British state. Those are shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies which are only set to get worse. No amount of SNPbaddery will change that.
The British state is bleeding to death from its self-inflicted wounds. Nothing that the Scottish media can say about Alex Salmond is going to alter that political and historical reality. It’s not just the Scottish media which scents blood. So do we. The difference is that our teeth have purchase.
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