Jackson Carlaw is continuing his search for relevancy. We should be kind to him. It can’t be easy being the manager of a branch office whose predecessor had no policies at all except saying no to another referendum and posing for cheeky photo opportunities with an assortment of barnyard animals.
Because he has nothing much to say except, “Boris Johnson, isn’t he maaaaarvellous”, Jackson needs something else to get his name in the papers seeing as how Boris Johnson is considerably less popular in Scotland than taking a coronavirus bath. So he’s decided upon a wizzard wheeze, something that will really make the entire nation sit up and take notice of him. And this has indeed proven a success, although sadly for Jackson what it has meant is that the entire nation has sat up and wondered if Jackson has been taking attention getting lessons from Ben Fogle. Today Jackson is claiming that BBC Scotland is biased in favour of the SNP. Yes, he really said that. Jackson Carlaw complaining about pro-SNP bias on BBC Scotland is like a professional football player who loves true crime stories and his pet cat complaining that there’s far too much murrdurr, fitba and wee cute kittens on Reporting Scotland.
It must have seemed a great idea when Jackson got up in the morning and sipped on his giant cup of I’m Fecking Fabulous and admired his paintings. This is after all an easy story for the press to find a picture for, even during a lockdown. Because if you’re looking for a stock photie of Jackson Carlaw looking like he’s sulking, you’re going to be spoiled for choice.
This is the latest iteration of the unending search of British nationalists for victimhood status. They’re the most oppressed creatures in the entire multiverse you know. None of them have ever paused to wonder how come they’re such constant victims if this British state that they keep banging on about is indeed such a powerful and wonderful institution. You’d imagine that if it was capable of doing even a tiny fraction of all the things that they claim it does for Scotland, then it would manage to protect them from being perma-victims. And yet there is no bigger victim in Scotland than a British nationalist in search of a grievance. They haven’t really though this through, have they. They are always telling us that Scotland needs the British state to protect it, and then in the same breath they tell us how they’re victims of evil Scottish people and cybernats that the British state is apparently powerless to deal with. Who knew that a pro-indy granny from Methil with a Twitter account and a nice line in put downs was a greater danger to Scotland than a Trident missile.
But back to that cesspit of pro-SNP and separatist propaganda that is the BBC. This would be the BBC Scotland which has given far more airtime to – and spent far more of its time, energy, and resources investigating – decisions made by the Scottish Football Association than it has investigating what happened to cause PPE manufacturers in England to post notices on their websites stating that they have restricted sales to England only. This is because when the late Liverpool manager and Scotland player Bill Shankly famously quipped, “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that,” BBC Scotland decided to take him literally. This explains why BBC Scotland has devoted interminable hours of broadcast time to the question of what’s going to happen to the current fitba season that’s been aborted due to the coronavirus crisis, and only a couple of minutes telling us that there’s really nothing to see here when it comes to the provision of PPE to England only.
What Jackson’s really miffed about is that BBC Scotland, or the rest of the Scottish media for that matter, doesn’t love him the way that they loved Ruth Davidson. Ruth was a creature of the media, and the media was determined to build her up as the next Saviour of the Union™. She cheerfully obliged by delivering them plenty of cheery images that they could publish on their pages, and they obliged her in turn by not drawing attention to her lack of policies or her support for obscenities like the rape clause. On the other hand, Jackson would have a hard time persuading anyone that he’s the next saviour of his local rotary club.
The real problem that he’s got here is that the SNP leadership has announced that it’s not going to pursue another independence referendum for the duration of this crisis. This leaves the Conservatives in Scotland with nothing to say no to. All he’s got left is to complain that the opposition parties and the media need to relently press the SNP. The media in Scotland have been relentlessly pressing the SNP since 2007.
It’s not the SNP that’s getting off the hook, it’s the Conservative party. There are credible reports in the British media that Number 10 is leaning on journalists and the BBC to go soft on ministers during the current crisis. The BBC broadcaster John Humphrys claimed earlier this week that BBC bosses have warned journalists not to put Conservative ministers under too much pressure. There has indeed been a marked lack of the BBC taking the British government to task over its woeful handling of the epidemic, and the growing realisation that the UK may be one of the worst affected states in Europe. Instead we get clapping for the NHS and reports about what movies Boris Johnson is watching on his iPad as he recovers from his illness. Just before the current crisis broke, the Sky presenter Adam Boulton complained that Number 10 was trying to control the media by being selective in who it would allow into press conferences. Downing Street made threats about abolishing the licence fee and turning the BBC into a form of subscription service like Netflix.
Control of the BBC, as we all know in Scotland, is reserved to Westminster. At no point has the BBC in Scotland ever gone soft on the SNP. Indeed the most frequent complaint about the corporation is that it acts as the propaganda arm of the British state, complaints which were well founded given the BBC’s behaviour during the referendum campaign of 2014. What Jackson Carlaw is trying to do here is to get some publicity for himself and his party at a time when saying no to another referendum has no traction because there’s no referendum to say no to, and more importantly to deflect attention from the efforts of his colleagues in Westminster to pressurise the BBC not to investigate the policies of Conservative ministers which have led to the mishandling of this crisis.
There is a threat to the freedom of the press in Scotland, and it’s not the SNP. It’s the Tories. They yearn for the days when British nationalism had total control of Scotland’s media, and can’t cope with even the tiny foothold that support for independence has gained.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…
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