The Conservatives’ buzzword for the coming election is going to be “clean break”. They want a clean break Brexit. A clean break from the EU. The implication is that a clean break is clinical, final, without mess or upset. But the clean break Brexit that the Conservatives are seeking has a lot more in common with a pair of cleanly broken legs. It’s a clean break, but it’s painful, debilitating, it’s disruptive, and will require a long an arduous process of healing and remedial therapy. It will seriously restrict your freedom of movement, and you may never fully recover. That’s the clean break that the Tories have in mind. Worse, they’re actively seeking the sledgehammer to smash it down on our legs.
The Conservatives in Scotland are now just as keen on this as their colleagues south of the border, yet there’s been precious little attempt from most of the Scottis media to hold them to account for their changed stance. They’re no longer opposing Brexit, they’re no longer seeking to avoid a hard Brexit. They’re gung ho for an outcome that will damage Scottish jobs, economy, and have a serious negative effect on EU citizens resident here. The media isn’t holding them to account for their change of mind. They’re not being held to account for their anti-democratic refusal to recognise the mandate that the Scottish Parliament already has for another independence referendum.
But not all political parties in Scotland escape scrutiny, the party of independence has a problem because more people are supporting independence. The SNP meltdown continues. Bins in Govanhill are lying unemptied and now there’s a further blow to Nicola Sturgeon because some academics and others have articulated their reasons for wanting independence. At least according to the Herald in its latest attempt to win the SNPbad trophy by demonstrating that there is no story or development that cannot be spun into a problem for the SNP and the Scottish Government. The spin that the paper puts on 50 weel kent academics, writers, actors, artists, and musicians signing a manifesto for independence is that this “piles pressure” on Nicola Sturgeon. This is a terribly bad thing, because it means that Nicola Sturgeon has questions to answer. And those bins still haven’t been emptied.
Actually, the other day I saw my local MSP out in the rain picking up rubbish in the street and putting it in a plastic bin bag for disposal. The recent high winds had caused some bins to fall over and there was rubbish all over the place. I’m not always John Mason’s biggest fan, but fair play to the guy. What he did was a good thing and a genuine and sincere attempt to clean up our local area. He did it without any attempt gain publicity or to make himself look good. He just did it because he felt that it needed to be done. However the Herald would publish that as a story about how one of Scotland’s elected representatives was callously depriving the workers in the cleansing department of jobs, and was adding to the plastic crisis by using a black plastic bin liner to put the rubbish in. SNP MSP heartlessly endangers marine life. Will no one think of the turtles?
Prominent people making a public declaration of their support for independence and making a statement about how independence can make Scotland a better place to live in is a huge problem for the SNP. Well who knew? Everyone did. The Scottish press is entirely predictable in its anti-independence spin. That’s why people are voting with their purses and wallets and not buying it any more.
You could just as easily have said that this development “gave a boost” to Nicola Sturgeon. You could have said that a clear and articulate declaration of the positive gains of independence was a huge demonstration of support for the SNP’s core mission as it goes into its conference. You could have said that the declaration shows the prominent people in Scottish public life are losing the reticence that they previously had to speak out in favour of independence. You could have said that it illustrates the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Scottish Unionism, which has nothing to offer Scotland but whatever form of Brexit Westminster finally manages to agree to. You could have said that the declaration presented an attractive and plausible vision of the kind of Scotland that is achievable once Scotland is able to choose its own path and is no longer subject to electoral decisions of our neighbour which may be damaging to Scottish interests. You could have said that the declaration is an illustration of the increasing confidence of the independence movement. But this is the Scottish anti-independence media we’re talking about here. There are ancient 78 rpm records from the 1940s that spin less. So SNPbad it is. It’s one more story to add to the Provost’s shoe collection, the children’s hospital, and car park charges as the Scottish media gears up for the SNP conference.
If the Scottish media made one tenth of the effort that they make finding ways to criticise the SNP and the Scottish Government and instead put that into demanding to know why the anti-independence parties think that they can ignore a mandate given to the Scottish Parliament by the Scottish people, or demanding that the Tories are honest that their clean break Brexit is anything but clean, Scotland would already be a long way towards independence. That’s precisely why they don’t do it.
There’s a very clear double standard when it comes to holding power to account. The anti-independence parties do receive criticism, but that criticism is balanced with praise, and more importantly they’re given a free pass when it comes to the examination of their hypocrisy on the democratic mandate for another indyref. The independence movement and the SNP receive criticism, but the reporting of positive stories is thin on the ground. Positive developments are either ignored or spun as something negative.
The press is happy to go along with the language used by the Conservatives. We’re going to hear a lot more about a “clean break” Brexit in the weeks and months to come. There will be precious little examination of the fact that there is no such thing. There will only be a period of panic and disruption, followed by desperate attempts to negotiate some of the forms of access to the EU market that could have been negotiated beforehand. Or at least, could have been negotiated if the Conservatives were not drugged to the eyeballs with their fantasy vision of an Imperial Britannia ruling the waves. It’s as unrealistic as any LSD trip, yet the BBC insists on giving evident bollocks equal time to sensible reality. Because balance.
We have got to this point in no small measure because the British media has been content to normalise and propagate the language of the Brextremists. What is now referred to as a “soft Brexit” is what was called a hard Brexit during the EU referendum. What is now called a hard Brexit is the crashing out with no deal that was described as unthinkable during the EU referendum when those now pressing for it insisted that getting a Brexit deal would be the easiest negotations ever. If the British media had put in even a fraction of the effort to holding the Brexiteers to account as they do to finding negative spins to put on any development concerning Scottish independence, then Brexit wouldn’t be happening and support for independence would be lower than it is. The only clean break that is really required in the UK is a clean break by the media from its obsession with click bait, its knee jerk opposition to Scottish independence, and its cowardly reluctance to hold the Conservatives to account.
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