A guest post by Samuel Miller
Righto then! I’m seeing some glum faces oot there in the aether and as your resident agony ranter, (whilst the gaffer is having a well deserved lie doon with properly made tea), I huv decided unanimously to look into this glass half empty problem and jot down some of my own thoughts. In fact the last time I saw some faces this glum, they were sitting on a pundits couch at PQ watching the 2015 general election results roll in.
Aye, it appears there are three main gripes which rear their heads on a regular basis. The meeja, which can be broken into a parts A and B type thingy – What can we do about them and how do we reach more people? Brexit – Why hasn’t it been triggered and what are we waiting for? Finally, if we’re already sovereign, why aren’t we independent right now? Why do we need anyone’s permission?
Three huge questions, with equally mahoosive answers I’d say, but we’ll have a stab at it in reverse order and keep it brief as possible. Let’s start with independence, sovereignty and permission.
I like to look at stuff from other perspectives whenever I can. Just for the sheer heck of it if truth be told and in this case I think it kinda helps. With the signing of the Edinburgh agreement and the commencement of the first Indyref, the sovereignty and right of the Scottish electorate to decide their own fate and governance has already been accepted I’d say. In fact, in my opinion, it appears the only folk who require to give any permission to hold a referendum or decide its outcome in Scotland… are the Scottish electorate. Right now we’re currently living with the consequences of the last time we asked that question of ourselves. A slim majority decided it wasn’t a good idea as it turns out and those dastardly baddies, the Essenpee government (Badness Inc.), have attempted to do exactly as they were telt by their own electorate and navigate administration in the aftermath. Vile… frankly (couldn’t resist). As to what that same government will do if they ask the question again in the not too distant future and they receive say, a different instruction from their electorate? Take a wild guess.
Worth remembering that above and beyond ANYTHING they personally desire, the SNP believe in and adhere to, the idea of popular sovereignty. They talk the talk and walk the walk where that’s concerned. They follow the will of the people.
Brexit is probably the easiest of the three to nail down. Partly because it appears to be a procedural problem and partly timing. We’re well aware by this point that Cameron’s EU referendum was an ill conceived, badly timed and horrendously badly executed attempt to settle the festering divisions within his party over Europe. I reckon he also saw it as a way of hopefully putting the UKIP genie back in its bottle.
The Tories, over a period of years, created a particularly nasty and divisive media narrative of the EU and furriners in general and needless to say, what takes years to ingrain and manipulate cannot be undone overnight. We’re pretty much used to that in Scotland, so what happened next really shouldn’t have come as a huge shock to the powers that be in London. Brexit! A population fed on a diet of massively right wing media whose daily output of fear mongering, scapegoating and othering is considered the policy wonk’s ‘go to’ method of directing a voting agenda. Who knew that after a campaign led by dog whistle politics and misinformation from both sides, the public would opt for the dog whistle they were most used to hearing, reading and seeing in the media? We’d like to take a moment to thank the meeja at this point for making popular household names of Bojo and Farage over a number of years, but frankly I don’t think ah’ve goat the necessary, or appropriate, vocabulary. Bein’ a northern barbarian ‘n that.
Anyroads, TIME is what PM May now requires and as much of it as she get her hands on. Thanks to the aforesaid ‘ill conceived’ part of the recent catastrophic campaign, neither the Brexiteers or the Westminster government actually had a plan in the contingency of a Brexit win. That would be NO economic planning, either on home front or covering foreign trade, investment and crucially for many, subsidy replacement. I’d also hazard a guess that there was NO F.O. diplomatic planning in place and NO security strategy, not a sausage it appears. So right about now I’d say PM May and her cabinet, those who haven’t been repeatedly slapped silly, are desperately attempting to repair the already considerable damage done by the Brexit vote to the economy as a starter for ten. They then must come up with an exit strategy/deal that won’t get them chucked at the next election by a decidedly grumpy electorate and hold what remains of the UKs international political status together with enormous amounts of duck tape and wishful thinking. Oh, and they’ve also got the small matter of an already grumpy next door neighbour whom they’ve just dragged, against their will and against specific indyref assurances, to the brink of exiting the EU to think about. No pressure then.
The second part is, I reckon, purely procedural. No indyref has been triggered because, at this point in time, we are not technically out of the EU. We may be under threat of that happening, but until article 50 is triggered (and we know the process is irreversible), it has not yet actually occurred. The chances of PM May avoiding Brexit though are slim and given her past, less than welcoming or inclusive, record and the very public nature of the referendum? The risks to not following through probably outweigh the alternative, though not by much. She is to all intents and purposes in the classic ‘Catch 22’ situation. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Finally, the meeja. What can you or the Scottish Government do about them? Well, nothing really. Or rather nothing to convince them of your case. They are who and what they are, which is to say (in the UK), fundimundilly opposed to the idea of an independent Scotland. Whether it is broadcast or print, state funded or private, the media is the orthodoxy and their views will always reflect that. They have a right to hold that view in fact and their output will ALWAYS, but ALWAYS reflect their interests and political affiliations. They don’t really have to reflect anyone’s opinion but their own. It may not be fair, or ethically 100% tickety boo, but technically they have every right to say ‘ALMOST’ whatever they feel like. That’s democracy for you and of course having friends in high legislative places helps.
How and ever, as consumers, people don’t have to listen to or purchase their product and why should they? If the media don’t represent your views, or speak for you. If they misrepresent, or misinform you, then why should you support them either financially or publicly? Its a two way street kinda thing. You put your money where it will do you the most good and where you feel your views are being fairly represented. We have the beginnings of a popular new media out there and as it grows it will diversify and adapt to suit the modern market. It will only grow however, if you want it to grow. Worth remembering that every title, every broadcaster out there today, which comprises the ‘mainstream’, started somewhere with reader or viewer number one.
Equally as unbalanced at this time, is reach. No, our new media CANNOT compete with the sheer market coverage and penetration of the mainstream media. How could it? Last I checked our lively new media wasn’t awash in multi-billionaires with a media empire to exploit. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You cannot take the media to task head on. Their pockets are a lot deeper than yours and their influence has been known to wreck governments. At which point you’re probably thinking ‘wur awe fecked then’. NOT SO mon braves!
Turn the question around. With all of their coverage, all of their money, all of their influence, all of the decades of media dominance they’ve enjoyed… Why haven’t they won you over? Why is the constitutional question still alive? Why is there a third term SNP government sitting in a pro indy Holyrood chamber? Why are there 56 pro indy MPs sitting on the Scottish benches in Westminster proving the only effective government opposition in the house? Why is there a burgeoning new Scottish media, (actively being a royal pain in the mainstream’s arse), which they can’t simply crush?
Because of you.
You and your need brought this new media into being. You threw a stone in a still lake and the ripples spread. You got the word out, advertised its existence, attracted readers and viewers with like minds looking for a representative forum. They in turn, attracted their friends and family, who told the next door neighbour, who told the postman, who told his missus, who told… others. Ideas and information spread, people became engaged, organized, active and decades of apathy and alienation were forgotten. One person, one vote at a time, the ground beneath Scottish and the wider UK politics began to move. All it takes is for one person to speak and another to listen.
You did all of that.
What else can you do?
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984