For the past few days the Scottish media has been telling us that Nicola Sturgeon is standing alone like General Custer in her battle against Westminster’s power grab and we are just waiting for the arrows to cut her down. So I was planning to write a blog article today calling on the Labour party in Scotland to display something approaching moral fibre for once – stop laughing at the back there – and to support the principles of the devolution settlement that a Labour government introduced. Only now it turns out that they and the Lib Dems do in fact support the Scottish Government. Well who knew? Certainly not anyone who relies on the British nationalist media in Scotland for their news.
Speaking to MPs at a meeting in Edinburgh of the House of Commons committee on public administration and constitutional affairs, Richard Leonard took some time out from his charisma classes and Wullie Rennie was on a break from driving the bus to Kelty. Both said that their parties could not give their backing to the current offer from the UK Government. Neither of them are content with the UK Government taking it upon itself to define “consent” from Holyrood as the Scottish Parliament saying yes, saying nothing, or saying no. Both acknowledged that there was no trust between Holyrood and Westminster. How exactly can you trust an institution which tells you that it’s going to take an explicit refusal from you as an indication of your consent?
Naturally that same Scottish media that just last week had been trumpeting from the rooftops that Nicola Sturgeon was lonely and isolated in her obstinate refusal to sign up to Theresa May’s offer is giving the fact that she’s no such thing equal airtime and column acreage. And if you believe that then you probably also believe that the Daily Mail isn’t an odious hate filled rag that stirs up xenophobia.
At the time of writing this blog article, the lead article on BBC Scotland’s news website is a story about the minimum price for alcohol which is being introduced today, with the subheading that your bevvy is about to get more expensive. Also featured on the main page of the news website was a story about a “95 Year Old Winger” which for a brief second I thought was a feature piece about the oldest person in Scotland to back the Wings Over Scotland crowdfunder. But only for a brief second. It was really about the fitba. Which made two fitba stories as leading articles on the BBC Scotland website. Sadly there was no story on the front page about a cute kitten, but no doubt one will be along shortly. To be fair to them, they did have an article about a lost dug. The story that the Labour party and the Lib Dems do not in fact back the Tory power grab and the Scottish Government is not alone in objecting to it was buried away as a minor piece in the politics subsection of the site, filed away under “not that interesting really, you don’t need to bother yourselves”.
However since on the day that it was revealed that the Conservative government in Westminster had taken it upon itself to define consent from the Scottish Parliament as Holyrood saying aye, nuhin, or naw the Corporation managed to decide that the most important story in the country was that Ruth Davidson was going to have a wean, we shouldn’t be very surprised. Some of us were having weans with lesbians over two decades ago, so you know, eye roll and yawn. This isn’t news. Try to keep up Auntie dear.
So after all there is a party leader in Scotland who is isolated and standing alone, and that would be Ruth Davidson. She’s the leader of the only party in Scotland that doesn’t think that the EU Withdrawal Bill is fundamentally flawed, but since the flaw in question would hand devolved powers straight to UK cabinet ministers from her own party, it’s hardly surprising that she’s happy with it. This is the same Ruth Davidson who promised to use the influence of the Scottish Tories in Westminster to alter the Bill in the Commons to prevent such a power grab from happened, and then who did nothing. That spectacular failure and betrayal of a firm promise wasn’t so interesting to the British nationalist media in Scotland. It’s only the SNP that needs to be held to account.
Our media is failing in its job. It’s fine that opponents of independence oppose independence, that’s a perfectly legitimate stance to take. People who oppose independence have every right to see their views reflected in the media. After all they represent about half the population. What’s not fine is that opponents of independence overwhelmingly dominate the media narrative and systematically deprive independence supporters of a platform. What’s not fine is that our so called public service broadcaster is in the service of only part of the public. What’s not fine is that they put opposing independence before standing up for Scotland within the UK.
The real failure of the media in Scotland isn’t so much that it is overwhelmingly opposed to independence. Even on its own terms it is failing, because it is not representing Scotland as a part of the UK. The real failing is that it is so terrified of stoking up pro-independence sentiment that it will not hold the British government to account for the harm that it does to Scotland, or for the way that it seeks to undermine the devolution settlement. They are silent about the fact that the devolution settlement was introduced after the people of Scotland voted for it in a referendum, and yet the British government is using a referendum result which Scotland rejected in order to overturn a referendum result which Scotland overwhelmingly voted for. And now they tell us that no one in Scotland is getting exercised about the attack on devolution that they are not publicising. It’s the very definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The reluctance of the media to act as a strong voice for Scotland within the UK is one of the reasons why this country needs independence. It’s a lesson that it’s up to us, the grassroots independence movement, to act as this country’s voice and conscience. We’re not going away, we’re not going to shut up. We’re getting more organised, we’re getting more confident. And we are going to make this a better country.
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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