There was an editorial in the Guardian yesterday titled “Tackling the troll state”. For a wee moment I thought it was about Theresa May’s government trolling the people of Scotland, but then reality kicked in and I realised that this was the Guardian. It was really about Theresa May and the Russians. No one in the British media gives a toss about the unilateral dismantling of the devolution settlement by the British government. Not so much nerve gas as they’ve got some nerve.
For most of the Scottish media, the Salisbury nerve gas affair gives them another excuse, as if another excuse was required, to attack Thatalicsammin. This is after all what the British nationalist media in Scotland lives for. They’re even more upset than Thatalicsammin is that he’s no longer an elected politician in a position of power. The webpage of Thursday’s Herald contained no less than three prominent stories about the single most important story in the whole of Scotland, the fact that a former politician has a telly show on a niche channel that hardly anyone watches. The Tory unilateral power grab and destruction of the principles of the devolution settlement? Not so much. That only merits a whatever and a shoulder shrug from the British nationalist media in Scotland.
The Scottish media is natually devoting equal coverage to the even more important fact that Ruth Davidson received a substantial donation from the wife of a Russian oligarch who was Vladimir Putin’s deputy finance minister and chair of a Russian state controlled bank. That would be the Ruth Davidson who is currently a political leader serving as an elected politician in parliament and who is not a former political leader without any elected position. Lubov Chernukhin, a Russian donor who has given the Tories £253,950, bid £20,000 to have lunch with Ruth, at an auction at the UK party’s Black and White fundraising ball earlier this year. Ruth is of course being hounded by the Scottish media in order to give answers as to why she thinks that accepting £20,000 from the family of a Putin crony is acceptable and why it’s a good idea for the leader of the Scottish Tories to schmooze with the family member of a Putin pal over an expensive lunch. Oh no wait. The other thing. There is equal coverage of Ruth’s accepting cash from Putin’s pals as there is of the whole Salmond RT thing, but only if you define equal coverage as “scarcely a mention”. There’s more pressure being put on Katy Perry to explain why she kissed a contestant on American Idol.
The Tories have received £826,100 in Russian money since Theresa May became Prime Minister. You might think that that’s a greater threat to our democracy, but apparently it’s far more important to criticise Thatalicsammin for appearing on RT on a show he produces himself without editorial interference from the Kremlin. Because you know, choices. London is full of Russian oligarchs, and full of expensive properties purchased with Russian money. London is one of the main financial centres used by the kleptocracy of Russia to launder its cash. Brexit serves that purpose well, it means that Russian kleptocrats will be able to continue to use London as a laundromat for their dirty money without having to worry about EU financial regulations. The Tories are keen to keep that cash flowing.
Vladimir Putin may be interested in weakening and undermining the British state, but as far as he’s concerned that can be filed under “job done”. The Tories did that for him with their EU referendum and their subsequent single minded pursuit of a hard Brexit. It doesn’t stop the British nationalist media from trying to paint the Scottish independence movement as being stooges of the Kremlin, but it’s not the Scottish independence movement that’s being courted by Russian oligarchs flush with large cash donations. That would be the Tories. If you want to know where Russian influence is being exerted, follow the money. It sure as hell isn’t in a Scottish independence movement that relies on grassroots funding and bucket rattling.
Putin most certainly doesn’t want the example of a small nation taking its own destiny into its own hands and making a far better job of it than the state which once controlled it. People tend to imagine that after the fall of the explicitly multinational Soviet Union that ethnic conflicts within Russia were ended. That’s very far from the case. The Russian Federation contains around 145 distinct ethnic and national groups, some of whom like the Volga Tatars number in the millions and who as recently as the 1990s were attempting to assert their sovereignty, others like the Chechen and the various peoples of Daghestan have active – and violent – independence movements of their own. An independent Scotland would give them an example that Putin would prefer to avoid.
The reality is that the Scottish independence movement is seeking to undo some of the damage that Kremlin influence has wrought in the UK. The rest of the UK can choose to go to hell in a handbasket, isolating itself from the EU and the rest of the world in pursuit of some fantastical post-imperial dream of Empire 2.0, but the Scottish independence movement seeks a prosperous and self-determined Scotland with strong links to other countries in Europe, and which acts as a strong advocate for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. That’s precisely what Putin doesn’t want. A strong independent Scotland which acts in unison with its European allies doesn’t serve Russian interests. A weak and powerless Scotland which is controlled by a weak and isolated UK begging for money from Russian oligarchs does. That’s the kind of Scotland which people who write anti-independence Novichokkablogs advocate, not independence supporters.
While we’re all being distracted by accusations of Kremlin influence, the UK government is getting on with the task of undermining and weakening the devolution settlement and is not being held to account by a Scottish media that prefers to imagine that it’s playing a supporting role in some James Bond movie with Thatalicsammin as Blowfeld. The real supervillains threatening Scotland are not so super, they’re the ones in Westminster, but they’re not being tackled by a Scottish media that prefers to indulge itself in personal attacks on former politicians instead of investigating the very real links between Russian money and a Conservative party that’s destroying our futures. It does make you wonder who the stooges of the Kremlin really are.
There won’t be any updates to this blog until Tuesday or Wednesday next week as I’m off to London for a few days to visit with family.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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