The feeding frenzy

The anti-independence media in Scotland, which is the overwhelming majority of that smug and self-satisfied Scottish institution, has over the past few days been indulging itself in its favourite pastime of a perspective free feeding frenzy of SNPbad. On this occasion the cause of its call for a procession of pitchforks and torches is the news that Nicola Sturgeon has deleted her WhatsApp messages. At first the Scottish media worked itself up into a paroxysm of spittle flecked anger, complete with calls for a police investigation. In newsrooms up and down Scotland there are editors who are nostalgic for the murder tent and can’t wait for the sequel – The Murder Tent and the Case of the Slaughtered WhatsApp messages, which they are doubtless hoping will be found after the polis have dug up Nicola Sturgeon’s garden.

The Covid Inquiry is in fact in possession of reams of information and messages from the Scottish Government, including informal messages to and from the former First Minister. In a statement put out due to the media hysteria, Nicola Sturgeon reiterated that fact, and repeated that her government and its officials and advisors did not use WhatsApp for formulating policy response to the pandemic.

This is in marked contrast to the WhatsApp messages of Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, both of whom, unlike Nicola Sturgeon are known to have used WhatsApp for making policy decisions during the pandemic, yet who told the Inquiry that all those messages had been lost, giving extremely dubious and implausible excuses which do not stand up to even cursory examination. Yet the bare faced lies of Sunak and Johnson, and their unbelievable claims to have “lost” all their WhatsApp messages, messages which detailed actions which were be responsible for the unnecessary deaths of thousands of people, all wrapped up in inhumane callous disregard for the lives of ordinary people, were met by the Scottish media with a collective, “Oh dear what a pity, now here’s the fitba.”

Compare and contrast with the torches and pitchforks treatment meted out to the Scottish Government, the Scottish media becomes seized by hysteria, so caught up in its own feeding frenzy of outrage that it loses all sense of perspective. It is no longer attempting to report the news, it is trying to stoke up anger and outrage.

The question which the Scottish media is not addressing is what exactly do those at the head of the pitchfork parade think is being covered up? Do they think that anyone in the Scottish Government wanted to let the bodies pile high as Boris Johnson was reported as saying,that scientific advice was deliberately ignored as in Sunak’s lethal Eat Out to Help Out the Virus scheme, or that there was anything in Scotland as nakedly corrupt as the VIP lane for PPE contracts? No one is alleging that, not even the anti independence media in Scotland. The silence in that regard is deafening. The Scottish media would go to town on the merest hint of a possibility that something similar happened in the Scottish Government. There would be an hour long special on BBC Scotland, presented by James Cook with his best concerned citizen face on. It would dominate the news agenda for weeks and would not end until ministerial resignations had been secured and police investigations launched.

Instead there’s only innuendo and muck raking from the very same people who gave Johnson and Sunak a free pass, and a desperate evidence free attempt to draw an equivalence between the Scottish Government and the dismal, corrupt and callous chaos of the Conservatives at Westminster.

The reason for this is patently obvious. The Scottish Government is widely regarded as having dealt with the pandemic in a far more responsible and competent manner than the British Government. In doing so it proved that Scotland is perfectly capable of rising to the challenges posed by a global crisis, which in turn is a powerful argument against opponents of independence, no wonder they are desperate to discredit that legacy.

All this is a consequence of a Scottish media whose prevailing views are grossly unrepresentative of the country which it purports to serve. A good half, if not more, of the people of Scotland support independence yet the Scottish media boasts just one single newspaper out of almost 40 daily and weekly publications which backs independence, meanwhile the broadcast media is ultimately answerable to politicians in Westminster and takes the lead on its news agenda from a press which is overwhelmingly skewed towards that nationalism which isn’t nationalist because it’s British.

So instead of a media which seeks to hold up a mirror to the society which it is supposed to serve, we get a Scottish media which constantly seeks to address the mismatch between the media consensus and the public by trying to change the public to agree with the media instead of changing the media to agree with the public. Berthold Brecht will be nodding in recognition.

There’s a fundamental British arrogance and Scottish Cringe prejudice at play here, Scots are too wee and too stupid to know what’s best for them and must never ever get ideas above their station.

In other news, next week BBC Question Time will be coming from Glasgow, a city which voted Yes in the 2014 referendum, remain in the 2016 referendum, and which has an SNP council, SNP MPs at Westminster, and SNP constituency MSPs at Holyrood. What’s the betting that the audience will be chock full of opponents of independence and Tories, called up from Kaye Adams’ Bumper book of British nationalists who will be picked by Fiona Bruce to ask questions: “Yes, you sir, the racist gentleman with the beer belly and the union jack tattoo .”

The BBC really ought to rename the show Political Gardening Time, given the number of plants in the audience.


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