On Sunday there were shameful scenes in Glasgow as British nationalist fascists rioted, lashing out at innocent passers by and the police in supposed defence of statues that were never under any threat in the first place. They draped the lions on the cenotaph in George Square with Union flags, because no one had told them that lions are African.
Of course the real motivation of the British nationalist fascist thugs in George Square on Sunday was not to ‘defend war memorials’, it was to assert white privilege, British supremacism, anti-Irish racism, and opposition to independence. It was a crude and nasty display of the vile truth that lurks at the heart of an ideology that pleases itself to call itself unionism – it is founded upon racism, exclusion, and oppression, and it always was.
You might think that following this naked display of political violence in the streets of Scotland’s largest city at a time when the British nationalist press is constantly bewailing how Scotland is divided and riven in twain by the constitutional debate, that this display of political violence might have dominated the newspaper headlines. After all, doesn’t it prove what they’ve always been warning us about? About how Scotland is painfully divided by its constitutional politics. You would of course be wrong.
At the time of writing the lead story on the website of the Herald newspaper is “MSPs warn teachers could face mountains of appeals over scrapped exams week before schools return”. In the Scotsman the lead story is “Report finds series of problems at Scots flagship hospital”. In the Courier it’s a report about the sudden death of a man in Crieff, although the paper does manage to find space on the main page of its website to tell us about the world’s highest hedge in Perthshire. The Aberdeen Press and Journal’s lead story is about the sudden death of a young mother, and road closures in Moray. Meanwhile the Daily Record’s print edition leads with the story of a 37 year old murder and doesn’t mention the British nationalist riot anywhere on its front page.
And finally, far down on the BBC Scotland news website, you’ll find a story coyly entitled “Clashes headed off by police at statue protest.” At least it rates a mention, but the headline won’t tell you that it was British nationalist thugs who were responsible for the violence. Even when there are two groups attacking one another the word “clashes” implies that there is somehow a moral equivalence between those who protest to oppose fascism, and your actual fascists. However there were not any clashes in Glasgow on Sunday. There were only British nationalist fascists attacking innocent people.
The only newspaper in Scotland which leads on Monday with the story of British nationalist fascists going on the rampage in the centre of Scotland’s largest city is the only newspaper in Scotland which supports independence, The National. The National carries a statement from Nicola Sturgeon blasting the so-called protesters as “shameful”. The fact that the only pro-independence newspaper in Scotland is the only one that is willing to discuss British nationalist violence is of course entirely coincidental. That’s entirely coincidental in the exact same way that Scottish Conservative MSP’s who tweet about the Queen’s 11 are innocently expressing a view on the fitba and not dog whistling to racists, bigots, and far right extremists. It is telling that it’s the SNP party leader and First Minister who is published in The National condemning Sunday’s British nationalist violence, there are no quotes from representatives of any British nationalist party.
We’ve come to expect this double standard. We’ve grown used to the mendacity of the British nationalist press in Scotland. However it is remarkable how little coverage there is in the Scottish media of an actual riot in Glasgow city centre carried out by supporters of the British state and British rule in Scotland. In a normal country, an outbreak of politically motivated violence would be a major story, one which merits a political response – especially from those politicians whom the rioters identify with even though they themselves were not responsible for instigating the violence. Those politicians should be front and foremost in calls to condemn the violence and to assert that they utterly reject any association with those responsible. But from the Scottish Conservatives there’s not a word. You’d almost think that the media in Scotland doesn’t want to talk about violence from British nationalists. You’d almost think that the Scottish Conservatives don’t want to distance themselves from that far right fringe of British nationalist fascists who vote for them. But that can’t be right, can it. Oh no. The press is free and fearless, and all that. The Tories are respectable mainstream politicians.
Compare and contrast with the acreage of column inches we get whenever someone in the independence movement gets into a twitter spat, or when there’s a crudely phrased banner at a pro-indy rally. The independence movement is capable of putting on a march or rally attended by over 100,000 people, and there are no arrests, no violence, no trouble, no assaults. Opponents of independence can’t put on a similar display for the simple reason that theirs would be indistinguishable from an Orange Parade and would attract all the violent right wing extremists, those British nationalist fascists, who disgraced themselves and the British state in Glasgow on Sunday. Yet it’s the independence movement which is the sole subject of handwringing in the Scottish media – and not just from British nationalists, we also get it from columnists who describe themselves as independence supporters.
What there isn’t is anything like the same attention paid to the bad behaviour of the other side in the Scottish constitutional debate. Yet that’s the side which, as we saw in Glasgow on Sunday, is the host of the real violence, the actual thugs, and the out and out fascists, racists, and bigots. The real threat to social order and peace in Scotland doesn’t come from an independence movement which at its heart is motivated by a desire for a Scotland with greater political accountability, social justice, equality, and a strengthening of democratic institutions. It comes from a reactionary British nationalism which was founded in the exploitation and oppression of Empire, and which still contains violent and anti-democratic elements, elements which this current British Government has unleashed, empowered, and validated. The media in Scotland might wish to draw a red white and blue veil over the ugly truth about British nationalism, but we still see who they really are. Their actions speak loud and clear.
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