The last bastion of the Cringe

The Scottish media is behaving entirely predictably about the police investigation into SNP finances. On Sunday on the website of the Sinking Ferry newspaper, sorry, the Herald, no less than four stories were devoted to the police investigation and the negative political fall out. The Scottish media is determined to milk this for every nanogramme of SNPbad that it can.

Now I am categorically not saying that this is not an important story which should not be given any media attention, of course it should. What I am questioning is the obvious double standards of Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media and its failure to devote even a fraction of the same zeal and energy into the pursuit of stories involving allegations of Conservative wrong doing and a complete disregard for the meltdown in public services in other parts of this so-called United Kingdom which that Scottish media is so determined to keep Scotland a part of. This week BBC Scotland decided to treat the viewers of its news programmes to an exposition of campervan toilet facilities in a transparently desperate attempt to find another angle to exploit about the story of the police seizure of a campervan as part of its investigation into SNP finances.

The Scottish media gave far less prominence to the confirmation by the party that it owned the campervan, which was bought for campaigning purposes during the pandemic when the need for social distancing was paramount, than it did to the story of the seizure, no doubt leaving many with the false impression that someone had diverted party funds in order to buy themselves a mobile holiday home. If you relied solely on that Scottish media that wanted to tell you all about campervan toilets, you’d never have heard that due to Conservative mismanagement, rivers, waterways and beaches in England are literally open sewers.

Consider the difference in the Scottish media’s coverage of these allegations about the SNP, which involve the sum of £600,000 with its coverage of allegations that the Westminster government lost £58.8 billion in fraud and error in 2021 alone, a figure which does not include nearly £16 billion in covid related fraud or the public money lost as part of the PPE scandal. That’s a total of some £75 billion of public money that the Conservatives have lost due to fraud, a sum of money an eye watering one hundred and twenty five thousand times greater than the money involved in the SNP investigation.

Yet the Scottish media has practically ignored it, even though we are talking about a sum of money many billions of pounds greater than the entire annual budget of the Scottish Government, which is £59.7 billion for the financial year 2023-24. This is public money which has been lost due to criminality and to the sheer incompetence of the ruling Conservatives, that same party to which the Scottish media regularly gives a platform from which to pontificate about the supposed incompetence of the Scottish Government, like telling us that the Kray twins can take the moral high ground about someone’s parking ticket. If the Scottish media paid even one hundredth the time and attention to the fraud that happened on the Tories’ watch as they do to supposed SNP wrong doings, they’d have enough material to keep Reporting Scotland fully occupied for years to come, with no time at all for the murrders, the fitba, the wee cute kittens, or ‘helpful’ explanations about cludgies in campervans.

Over the weekend Sir David Greene, the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) director from 2012 to 2018, said there had been warning signs about £16 billion lost due to fraud in covid loan schemes that should have been picked up on by government ministers. But the Tories were too concerned with demonising benefits claimant to bother about white collar fraud.

A considerable proportion of the public money lost by the Conservatives has been diverted into private pockets and bank accounts. Some of these allegations involve senior figures in the Conservative party, but Scotland’s media turns a blind eye. Scottish Conservative peer Michelle Mone is currently facing allegations that she and her children secretly received £29 million in profits on a PPE contract which Mone’s company was awarded after she used the so-called ‘VIP lane’ to get preferential access to government ministers. Tens of millions of pounds of profits were later transferred to a secret offshore trust of which Mone and her adult children were the beneficiaries. Millions of pounds worth of the PPE received from Mone’s company was later rejected as unusable after her company allegedly failed to provide the right certification to show the items had been reliably sterilised for medical use. Mone vigorously denies any wrong doing, but this entire saga has been dealt with in a couple of paragraphs in the Scottish media. Compare and contrast with the acres of newsprint and hours of airtime which the Scottish media has already devoted to the SNP’s finances, and they are very far from being done yet.

Meanwhile it’s being reported that incompetence on the part of the Labour party has put the personal data of millions of voters at risk, the potential data breach in the Dialogue system, used by Labour activists to make calls to the public, potentially compromising the sensitive information of millions across the UK. There is silence from a Scottish media which would have given wall to wall coverage of this story had it involved the SNP.

The Scottish media is overwhelmingly dominated by a small clique of British nationalist supporters of the status quo, who see their primary job as being to keep Scotland within the UK at any cost and never examine or criticise the UK and the Westminster system that it is so determined to keep Scotland a part of. The risible Scottish press awards are an annual exercise in British nationalist mutual back slapping as the Scottish media congratulates itself for stories about broken down ferries even as it ignores the meltdown in public services elsewhere in the UK, the continuing descent of Britain into authoritarianism, the collapse of accountability at Westminster, and the travesty of democracy that Scotland suffers at the hands of the Labour and Tory parties.

I am not, and I cannot stress this enough, demanding that the SNP get a free pass from the Scottish media, the party of the Scottish Government must of course be scrutinised and examined by the media, that is a fundamental prerequisite of democracy, and we have a Scottish media which is champing at the bit to do so. However the Scottish media effectively gives a free pass to the Conservative party, and by doing so it is endangering democracy and political accountability in Scotland. That is doing an immense disservice to that Scottish public which the media in Scotland purports to represent and to serve.

The Scottish public is force fed a diet of negativity and miserabilism by its media, which is determined to undermine and minimise Scotland at every turn. It’s a media which is obsessed with ferries but which turns a blind eye when the Conservatives hole Scottish democracy below the water line. The anti-independence media in Scotland is the last great bastion of the cultural and political cringe that civic Scotland has struggled so hard to shake off for the past few decades. Scotland is striving to grasp a better future, Scotland’s media wants to keep us trapped in the past.


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