Is it possible for a newspaper to go insane? There are only two possible explanations for the stories about Scottish independence that have been appearing in the Daily Express of late. Either the newspaper has gone insane and lost whatever tenuous grip on reality that it might once have possessed, or it has descended into a hate filled disregard for truth that makes the hysteria fuelled propaganda sheets of a fascist totalitarian regime seem like the dry and sober reporting of the minutes of the Auchterarder Allotments and Vegetable Growers’ Society. Admittedly those possibilities are not mutually exclusive.
The Express was one of the most avid proponents of a Brexit, and ever since the EU referendum has been one of the most fervid deniers that there might be any negative consequences for the UK flowing from the result. Over recent weeks it has been publishing increasingly personalised attacks on Nicola Sturgeon for her wilful refusal to rule out a Scotland that refuses to meekly roll over and accept the Brexit result that we didn’t vote for. The articles have been using the sort of language that even Owen Smith would recognise as dangerously approaching a misogynistic call to violence against women.
Now the paper has ballooned into the stratosphere with its hot air. The rag has lost the rag. According to an article which verges perilously on defamation, Nicola Sturgeon is geeing up independence supporters for a campaign of violence against the Union. The sheer effrontery of the hateful rag is breath taking. This is not journalism. This is not reporting. This is a blatant and shameless attempt to stir up the more atavistic supporters of Unionism and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of violence, and the blame for any such violence will then be conveniently laid at the door of the independence movement.
There were indeed some instances of violence associated with the 2014 independence referendum. There was the shameful assault of an elderly independence supporter in Edinburgh, allegedly carried out by a Unionist woman who disagreed violently with his peaceful message. The old man ended up with a broken arm, his alleged assailant was never caught. Then there was the accusation of assault against a pro-independence canvasser outside a polling station in Shettleston in the East End of Glasgow. Her alleged assailant was none other than the Labour MP Marie Rimmer. The court case is still on-going. And finally, and most disgracefully, there was the mass attack by Unionist supporting fascists against peaceful pro-independence demonstrators in George Square during the aftermath of the referendum result. The indy crowd was charged by dozens of extreme right wing Unionists who attacked men, women, old and young indiscriminately. The Express article was illustrated by a short video of this attack, labelled “Nationalists and Unionists in wild clash”.
See a pattern here? A child could see a pattern here. A five year old could readily assign due blame. The Express can’t. Or more accurately, won’t. According to the Express the violence is all the fault of the independence movement and its supporters. It’s like saying that homophobic attacks are the fault of gay people for being openly gay. It’s like saying that misogynistic violence is the fault of women who were asking for it. It’s like saying that racist beatings are the fault of ethnic minorities for being willfully foreign in a public space. This is not journalism. This is abuse of a public platform. This is abuse of an entire nation. This is a newspaper which recognises that it’s destined to find a more socially useful role as lavatory paper and so helpfully it’s already covered with shite and dripping with pish when it’s purchased.
The fact is that the Scottish Police Federation issued a statement just before the independence referendum dismissing claims that the country was a hotbed of aggression and on the verge of violent outbreaks. Brian Docherty, chair of the Scottish Police Federation, condemned the No campaign for its irresponsible exaggerations. The Express never got the message. It’s still exaggerating, still demonising the yes movement. And the moment that some violent fascist bully with a grudge takes out their insecurity on a harmless independence supporter, the Express will be the first to condemn the yes movement for creating division and violence.
There was another video illustrating the article too. Titled “Aggressive Scottish protesters intimidate ex-Labour …” it showed the stramashette in St Enoch when Sean Clerkin and a couple of his pals ranted at Jim Murphy. That was the occasion when Jim Murphy deliberately walked into a placard being waved by Sean and then claimed he was being abused. The entire event was a set up by Labour. Clerkin’s merry little band later claimed that they’d been tipped off by someone in Murphy’s local party. It was blatantly obvious that Murphy wanted to create the impression that Scottish independence supporters were violent and extreme, and so someone in the Labour party got in touch with a notorious fringe group, the Scottish Resistance. A group that’s so fringe and so uninfluential in the independence movement that there are actually more photographs of prominent Unionists ironically wearing Scottish Resistance T-shirts than there are members of the Scottish Resistance.
The difference of course is that whereas the violent Unionist right wing extremists who attacked the peaceful independence supporters in George Square are never to be associated with the mainstream of Unionism, the entire independence movement is tarred with the brush of Scottish Resistance in reports in the Unionist press.
We still don’t know when there’s to be another independence referendum, and already that end of the Unionist press which is deeper in sewage is spewing its cacophony of cack. Because they know what we know too. They know that the next time Scotland goes into an independence referendum the yes campaign will be able to count on the support of half the population. They know that the political case for the Union has been destroyed by the actions of the Unionists themselves. They know that the Union is in its final days, and that they’re responsible for ending it.
What we’re hearing now is the high pitching howl of a fatally wounded animal. The howls are only going to grow in intensity, because Scotland is heading for independence. And there’s nothing the Express can do to stop it.
Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-10th-sept-2016
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