It’s a new year, and it’s the same auld pish from the UK media. The Guardian, the parish newsletter of the British liberal establishment, continues to fish new lumps of rank and smelly wax from the pig’s ear of its coverage of the Scottish independence debate.
The New Year edition saw the Guardian turn into the Daily Mail in a burst of racist fairy dust. Those Project Fear Christmas miracles just keep on and on, like a panto starring the smaller and more annoying Krankie – otherwise known as the Scottish Conservatives. As the paper looked forward to the new year, its sole discussion of the biggest political event in the UK due in 2014 was a piece by Simon Jenkins calling on the Conservatives at Westminster to embrace Scottish independence.
Jenkins was repeating the same argument as Simon Heffer’s racist diatribe in the Daily Mail in September, replete with assertions that Scots depend upon the largesse of London. Like his Daily Mail namesake, Guardian Simon’s reason for conversion to the yes cause was that getting shot of us would benefit the Conservatives in England. It’s the mirror image of Labour’s pseudosolidarity argument, the future of Scotland being debated purely in terms of its effect on politics south of the border.
Jenkin’s is the Guardian’s token Tory. However the Guardian, being of an Islington Labour party persuasion, won’t allow itself to indulge in naked racism of the Daily Mail variety because people tut about that sort of thing at dinner parties. But since Scottish people are members of the great British family of nations it’s only a bit of harmless fun and the Guardian can have its ethnic stereotyping cake and eat it.
The article was helpfully illustrated with a photie of a red haired man with a blue painted face who is yelling something while standing half naked in a loch, because that’s what Scottish people do when they discuss independence. It’s just a bit of a laugh, it’s not to be taken seriously. Which speaks volumes about the Guardian’s and the UK media’s attitude to Scotland.
This is like illustrating an article about the constitutional and political future of England with a pic of skinheads doing a morris dance, but if a Scottish publication did that it wouldn’t be a harmless little bit of fun at all. It would be evidence that there’s a dark cancer of anti-English racism lurking at the heart of the Scottish psyche and would provoke a special episode of Newsnicht Scotland.
Whereas Mail Simon’s article was a seething mess of racist stereotypes and insults, Guardian Simon’s article wasn’t overtly racist, but only if you don’t count condescending ignorance as racism. The thrust of Guardian Simon’s piece was that Scottish independence isn’t a privilege, as many in the Metropolitan bubble appear to believe that independence is a gift which only Westminster can grant, instead of a right that the people of Scotland will take if they choose to.
He starts off by telling us that the constitutional future of Scotland provokes yawns in the majority south of the border, although he doesn’t seem to realise that this itself is one of the major reasons for independence. Scotland is currently governed by an ignorocracy, a political class which knows next to nothing about Scotland and which cares even less, which is elected by a country where most people know little about Scotland and care even less. It’s hard to put a positive spin on this state of affairs, which is one reason for the total dearth of positive reasons for the Union.
Guardian Simon doesn’t try to put a positive gloss on it. If he was a Tory strategist, he says, he’d “make light” of the Scottish vote, he’d portray Alex Salmond as a “one-tune populist, drunk on welfare transfers and windfarm subsidies” – all of which is pretty much what Tory strategists are doing anyway. Possibly Guardian Simon didn’t notice because he was yawning at the time.
The only difference is that Guardian Simon wants us to vote yes in order to give the Tories an electoral advantage in England. So we should be dismissed like an elderly servant who has outlived her usefulness as we’re just a drain on the household finances. Where Scotland is concerned the Metropolitan commentariat only look at the expenditure side of the accountancy ledgers, the income side belongs to Westminster in its entirety. If we want to ruin our country by ourselves, as opposed to having Westminster ruin it for us, Simon thinks we should jolly well just get on with it. It’s no skin off Westminster’s nose.
It’s the dominant view from the banks of the Thames. The Union is a one way affair. Scotland is just a hanger on. We bring nothing to the party except demands for subsidies. Guardian Simon views Scottish independence as the constitutional version of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms, he wants to teach us to stand on our own two feet by cutting our legs off.
The solution Simon proposes is that the Tories should offer Scotland “devo max” like Catalonia or the Basque Country, which only shows that he is as ignorant of Catalonia and the Basque Country as he is of Scotland. In some ways Catalonia and the Basque Country do have more powers than the Scottish Parliament, but in many others they have less. They do not have “devo max”, and they certainly don’t have the right to self-determination as Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish government keep reminding them.
There’s going to be much more of Simon’s variety of confusion and misinformation in the coming months, and it will be a concerted barrage where even the Daily Mail and the Guardian are singing from the same Great British Proms concert song sheet. It’s the ignorocracy in action.