The true nature of the commentariat

Deserving of further consideration – Peter Bell‘s take in an exceptional BTL comment in response to an article by Kevin Mckenna in Sunday’s Guardian.

Peter A Bell 

McKenna gruniad Bell

“I was greatly cheered reading the headline over Kevin McKenna’s article. I saw the reference to Nicola Sturgeon astutely and gently guiding us to a second independence referendum as suggesting that McKenna had “got it”. The headline spoke of an understanding of Sturgeon’s rhetoric on the subject of that had so woefully eluded other commentators. What followed was a major disappointment.

Where the headline appeared to promise an informed, perceptive analysis, the article itself delivered little more than the shallow, impoverished account that forms the cosy consensus of the mainstream media. Albeit, thankfully, shorn of the more vivid and virulent language of British nationalism.

Where the headline at least hinted at a readiness to challenge that cosy consensus, what we got instead was an unquestioning acceptance of the malicious myths promulgated by the British media. McKenna had the opportunity to distinguish himself by questioning, for example, the calumny about “Scotland’s dysfunctional police force”. Whatever mistakes may have been made, there is absolutely no sense in which Police Scotland might reasonably be described as “dysfunctional”. The perception of failure and crisis in Scotland’s institutions and public services is a creation of the British establishment’s propaganda machine. It is part of the entirely predictable – and frequently predicted – onslaught ensuing from a No vote in the first referendum.

McKenna compounds his failure to scrutinise these assertions of failure and crisis by denying any role for the media in aiding the British establishment’s propaganda campaign. He instead deploys the facile straw man which holds that expressing even mild dubiety about the portrayal of Scotland as a “failed state” is tantamount to an assertion that everything in Scotland is perfect and the SNP beyond criticism.

One always hopes that Kevin McKenna will be above such idiocy. But there is no escaping the fact that the mainstream British media is part of the British establishment. It’s agenda is the British establishment’s agenda. It’s dissent is contrived and controlled.

The bubble in which the media operates is invisible from the inside. Kevin McKenna is, I am quite certain, unaware that he is reflecting a view of Scottish politics that is heavily mediated. And it must be allowed that he sees more of the reality than most journalists. (Or perhaps it’s that he is more prepared to acknowledge that reality.) He sees, for example, that “Sturgeon has, in a short space of time, manipulated her opponents into allowing a free vote for their members when the curtain rises on indyref2”. How many other commentators have seen fit to remark on that? Not many, I suspect. It is not a good fit with the “SNP BAD!” narrative.

But, for all this, McKenna still manages to miss the clear message that Nicola Sturgeon is sending to the entire independence movement in Scotland. He is as one with the majority of his colleagues in proclaiming that Sturgeon’s message was about “lowering the temperature on the prospect of an early referendum”. He fails to recognise that, far from seeking to put the issue of a second referendum on the “back burner”, Sturgeon has just issued a clarion call to independence supporters urging a redoubling of efforts to capture the soft No vote.

More importantly, McKenna is also deaf to Sturgeon’s call for a massive campaign demanding a second referendum. There was a single short sentence in Sturgeon’s speech at the opening of the SNP Conference whose import appears to have been lost on mainstream commentators.

No one has the right to stand in the way of democracy.

To those of us who are “tuned in” to the actuality of Scottish politics, as opposed to the distorting media narrative, This is a clear warning to the British establishment that any attempts to block a second referendum will be vigorously resisted. It is, furthermore, a call to the people of Scotland to begin the task of mounting that resistance.

The cosy consensus of the British media holds that Sturgeon has sidelined the dual issues of independence and a second referendum. On the contrary, she has confirmed that these are the defining issues of Scottish politics as we go into the Holyrood elections. She has not kicked the matter into the long grass, as less acute observers contend. She has deftly passed the ball to the people of Scotland.

Sturgeon has recognised that it is the people of Scotland who will be the driving force in the ongoing fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. She has acknowledged that the SNP will play a supporting role – albeit a crucial one as the de facto political arm of the independence movement.”

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