As the end of the world draws nigh, be prepared to see the four horsemen of the apocalypse ride across the northern shires on their way to Scotland. Famine, Death, War and Conquest will be unleashed upon the rebellious Picts. Or so we are led to believe.
The metropolitan media were slow to understand the depth of feeling in many parts of the UK and so crystallised in Scotland. It was taken for granted that the oiks would do as they were told and obediently put their mark on the ‘No’ side of the ballot. And then some ten days ago a single opinion poll gave the astonishing chance of a ‘Yes’ victory.
Cue multiple visits to the bile and fear factory.
George Monbiot has selected some of the choicer offerings from our commentariat.
“In the Spectator, Simon Heffer maintains that: “addicted to welfare ... Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else”.
Here is the condescension with which the dominant classes have always treated those they regard as inferior: their serfs, the poor, the Irish, Africans, anyone with whom they disagree. “What spoilt, selfish, childlike fools those Scots are ... They simply don’t have a clue how lucky they are,” sneered Melanie Reid in the Times. Here is the chronic inability to distinguish between a cause and a person: the referendum is widely portrayed as a vote about Alex Salmond, who is then monstered beyond recognition (a Telegraph editorial compared him to Robert Mugabe).”Guardian 17/9/14
Monbiot also pointed out what a closed tight world these establishment lackeys occupy.
“The problem with the media is exemplified by Dominic Lawson’s column for the Daily Mail last week. He began with Scotland, comparing the “threat” of independence with that presented by Hitler (the article was helpfully illustrated with a picture of the Führer – unaccompanied, in this case, by the Mail’s former proprietor). Then he turned to the momentous issue of how he almost wrote something inaccurate about David Attenborough, which was narrowly averted because “as it happens, last weekend we had staying with us another of the BBC’s great figures, its world affairs editor John Simpson”, who happily corrected Lawson’s mistake. This was just as well because “the next day I went to the Royal Albert Hall as one of a small number of guests invited by the Proms director for that night’s performance. And who should I see as soon as I entered the little room set aside for our group’s pre-concert drinks? Sir David Attenborough.”
Those who are supposed to hold power to account live in a rarefied, self-referential world of power, circulating among people as exalted as themselves, the “small number of guests” who receive the most charming invitations. That a senior journalist at the BBC should be the house guest of a columnist for the Daily Mail surprises me not one iota.
In June the BBC’s economics editor, Robert Peston, complained that BBC news “is completely obsessed by the agenda set by newspapers … If we think the Mail and Telegraph will lead with this, we should. It’s part of the culture.” This might help to explain why the BBC has attracted so many complaints of bias in favour of the no campaign.
Living within their tiny circle of light, most senior journalists seem unable to comprehend a desire for change. If they notice it at all, they perceive it as a mortal threat, comparable perhaps to Hitler. They know as little of the lives of the 64 million inhabiting the outer darkness as they do of the Andaman islanders. Yet, lecturing the poor from under the wisteria, they claim to speak for the nation.” ibid.
It was not just the media who had a wobbly. The panic and desperate reaction from all three main parties exemplify precisely why they do not connect with the bulk of the people any more. They are seen as corporate whores who penalise the poor to help the rich. Mobilising captains of industry and high financiers to ratchet up the fear factor backfired on the sentient Scots.
Whatever the outcome on Friday morning, we have had an emperors new clothes moment, showing up our political class as inadequate, out of touch and not fit for purpose.