Thursday, May 29, 2008

How Scotland's media is driving 'inevitable' seperation

I have lived in Scotland for a number of years, in Lossiemouth -as a boy, and more recently Edinburgh and Aberdeen, I travel there once or twice a year to visit my wife's family and I have one key observation on the slow relentless drive to break the Union from North of the Border. It is this:

    Separation has been significantly driven by the Scottish media.
In an almost a fit of jealousy the Scots papers resented the key news occurring down south in Westminster. Add to that the ugly current of anglophobia that runs through a vocal minority of Scots society and you have the motivation and means to drive separation. After all how much easier it would be for these journalists if they had their own government to report on - allowing them to succeeded in their own careers and be as self important as they think they should be.

Hence the drive for devolution had the volatile fuel of Scots media self interest to ignite.

It is almost a 180 degree reversal of the New Labour project where a political elite has driven and bullied the media, to a case where the media has dragged unthinking politicians (except the SNP who know full well what they are doing - and are in that sense have a far higher degree of integrity ). Lets face it its now clear Labour had no idea what they were doing with devolution or even in many cases why they wanted it.

This week's visit to Scotland certainly did not disappoint on this score with the newspapers.

Take for example The Glasgow Herald.

Their report of the Crewe and Nantwich bye-election was limited to a corner on David Cameron saying New Labour is dead.
Get to the centre pages and the vitriol starts, see this article by Ian Bell - "Is the drift playing into Nationalist hands?".
First note the sympathetic photo of Gordon Brown, but the up nose shot of David Cameron - the hint is he's a snooty Englishman.

How is the result at Crewe and Nantwich described ? Answer - as "English". Even suggesting that the Liberals (who weren't standing at the election - the Lib Dems were ) couldn't draw "the poison".

"The boy Dave "( no idea David Miliband was there) is how Mr Bell describes Cameron. Surely he knows we call him "call me Dave" when we're having a go ?

The Conservatives are described as an English Party (if only that was the case - or at least the Conservative party had an English section as it does Welsh, Northern Irish and Scottish ), and the big news is that the SNP under Alex Salmond stand to benefit from a future English dominated Conservative Government ( hampered by not having such great political figures as Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown - no less ) will make Alex's job of getting his divorce much easier. Its implied the Scots hate the English Tories - just see the article title which assumes the failure of Labour will lead to the end of the Union, as Scotland can't have any part in a centre right government.

See this quote from the article by Mr Bell (catch the reader comments also):

    "It suits him, too, that there are no Scottish complications, if you like, within Team Cameron. This is, beyond argument, an English Tory party charting a route to power. There is no Brown, or Browne, or Darling, or Alexander to distract voters from the contrast between "Scotland's party" and those whom the good people of England now appear to favour."
    ... ..

    When talk turns to saving the Union, nevertheless, could someone ask a basic question: from whom?
David Cameron talks of sacrificing the English on the alter of Unionism (not that the Scots give him any credit for that - a fact he should clearly understand). He should first check if it can conceivably to do any good, given the media make up north of the boarder. He should also insist, if it isn't already done, on getting some of his own research done in Scotland separate from the Scottish Conservative party. Finally he should read The Herald, regularly.

Its going to take more than a reheated devolution settlement with some weird committee structure to cheat the English to stop the drifting apart of the Union. The dynamics of the central belt based Scottish media need to be taken into account and countered. ( Alex Salmond knows how this plays which is why he's so keen to break off the Scottish arm of the BBC ).

Update: See the campaign to get a Scottish Six O'Clock news as reported by Alan Cochrane. If this happens then the effect I have described will intensify in magnitude. It is far more significant that offering a vote on independence, as it helps ensure that such a vote will be won sometime int he future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting (if slightly narrow) take on the present state of the Scottish press. I agree, to some extent, that many of the papers are pushing people toward the SNP camp, but I would suggest that this is exactly the opposite of the intended result.
Since well before the election last May the press in Scotland has been united in its hostility to the SNP. As Gordon Brown and his party become less and less popular this hostility is likely to remain, and may well look, to some, like a continuation of the very negative campaign fought by Labour ( and to some extent by the other unionist parties) in that election.
Scare tactics didn't work last May, and the constant carping won't work now, interesting times indeed!