The battle over Scottish independence is well and truly hotting up. And it is becoming more and more like a battle rather than a campaign. Hardly a day goes by without some Unionist or Britnat venturing forth with assaults on independence. Assaults is the word chosen by Martin Kettle in his recent article in the Guardian – Alex Salmond and co are acting like spoilt children, available here. Though ostensibly about Alex Salmond’s response to these assaults, the article in fact, unwittingly, tells us more about the mindset of Martin Kettle and his London based media buddies.
Kettle’s main thrust is that Osborne, Barroso and Brown have made serious arguments in the past few days on three of the biggest questions – the currency, Europe and pensions – and thus far they have had little besides huffing and puffing to respond with. Martin Kettle is obviously a very clever person as he modestly claims that, “I know a serious argument when I hear one.” So there is no need to examine any of the claims made by Osborne and co. Martin knows they are serious arguments, so that is that then. I wonder in passing, why we bother with elections, when we could just let Martin use his superior brain power to work out who is serious and who is not?
But to return to these serious arguments, the only one huffing and puffing is Martin Kettle. Not only does he make no attempt to critically examine these alleged arguments, he makes no attempt to illustrate, let alone examine the counter arguments. All that Alex Salmond or Wee Eck, as Kettle seems to prefer to call him, could come up with was Natspeak, some peculiarly Scottish version of Owell’s Newspeak – an appearance of solidity to pure wind. Remind me again Martin, just who is acting like a spoilt child?
It is not as if Kettle needed to look very far to get some idea of the range of counter arguments from people who manifestly did not think that Osborne and co were making serious arguments. When even the Guardian itself carried a couple of highly critical pieces on Barroso’s claims, both incidentally by Guardian journalists with direct experience of the EU. John Palmer, here, titled his piece, Barroso’s remarks on Scottish independence are as ludicrous as his record in office. While Angus Roxburgh’ piece, here, was entitled, Scotland’s EU bombshell? It’s bunkum from Barroso. Kettle also seems to be unaware of the arguments of the Fiscal Commission in favour of a currency union. Of course it may be that in Kettle’s view these journalists and Nobel laureate economists lack his (Kettle’s) ability to know a serious argument when they hear one.
In short it is not just ignorance that Kettle betrays in his article, but something much more worrying and disturbing – a wilful blindness. He, with his superior intellect, has decided that Scottish independence would be a bad thing. Thus anything that anyone says which discredits Scottish independence is welcomed and unthinkingly held to be a serious argument. On the other hand anyone who comes out with arguments in favour of independence is summarily dismissed as indulging in Natspeak or merely huffing and puffing.
This blindness on Kettle’s part is nowhere more apparent in his regarding the whole campaign for independence as something dreamed up by Alex Salmond and the SNP. Obviously unaware of the recent rise in the Yes vote Kettle concludes by asserting that, “the SNP has realized it is not going to win the referendum …..and instead has reverted to an SNP core vote strategy, designed not to persuade, but to maximise the anti-English, anti-British, anti-Tory vote that the nationalists have successfully corralled in the past.” Now if this is what passes for a serious argument for the likes of Martin Kettle, no wonder the No vote is crumbling. The mixture of ignorance, blindness and condescension that pervades Kettle’s article is but further evidence of how distorted and ultimately empty the London based Unionist media has become.
This is a serious matter. The Guardian was a very good newspaper, and many people no doubt still consider it to be so. But the scorn and ignorance on what is happening in Scotland that comes from the paper is reducing its credibility day by day. If the likes of Martin Kettle can be so blind and biased about what is happening just a few hundred miles north of London, how on earth can we trust what they have to say about other matters. It seems that the Guardian, along with the BBC is either unaware of the damage they are doing to their reputation, or they both think it is fair game to insult a whole nation. For further comment on the counter productive effect of this blindness see the following two excellent articles here and here. The first is by Alex Bell in the Scottish Review, while the other is by Cath Ferguson and appeared in Bella Caledonia.