By Jason Michael

Headlines matter, and it is because of shock value and attention grabbing headlines and misleading blurbs that the Conservative right in the UK is gaining ground. The right is winning because it has perfected the science of lying.

Yes, you’d be dead right in thinking you’ve just been taken in by a click-bait trap. It worked, and that is exactly the point I’m trying to make. Fake news and media manipulation work because there is a science behind the art of telling lies, and Britain’s rightist establishment has mastered it. Headlines, strictly speaking, don’t need to be true. So long as something closer to the facts is presented in the body of the article, all is good. But here’s the thing – numerous academic studies have shown that most people don’t read past the headline and blurb before hitting the share button.

Part of this trick is the frightening reality that the more shocking, the more attention grabbing the headline, the more likely it is to be shared; giving a massive advantage to media outlets willing to stoop the lowest. We might be thinking this doesn’t matter and why the hell have we been hoodwinked into reading this, but it does matter and it is one of the most power weapons being deployed against the Scottish independence movement.

BBC Scotland and the curious case of the changing headlines

The overwhelming majority of media in Scotland is openly unionist, and to varying degrees all of these newspapers and news programmes are setting the agenda by using headlines that are either fear inducing or not quite the full truth. “Tory resurgence slams brakes on Sturgeon’s nationalist juggernaut,” is a good example from The Times. It works because, at some level, we expect better from The Times. We almost trust it – well, we trust it insofar as it isn’t the Sun. It’s a serious paper and serious people, serious voters, read it. There was a surge in support for the Conservative and Unionist Party in the council elections, but this was only the result of the collapse of the Labour vote. Unionism merely consolidated itself around the Tory Party.

In reality the Scottish National Party increased its share of the popular vote and gained seats, giving it 155 more local council seats than the Conservatives. We know this, and so we can call out the headline for the BS that it is, but we were not the intended audience. The copy writers behind the establishment headlines don’t care about us. Neither do they care about an honest and balanced presentation of the news. Readers have to read fifteen paragraphs into the piece before the author Hamish MacDonnell, The Times’ Scottish political editor, acknowledges that the SNP is the “biggest party,” but he knows few will read it that far. It’s left to a Wendy MacKenzie in the comments to set the record straight: “The SNP took 431 seats – 155 more than their nearest rival,” but no one – no one in the paper’s target audience, reads the comments. It’s a trick.

Everyone trusts The Times, right?

When this is the game being played by the grown-up’s broadsheets, the gloves are off completely when we get to the tabloids – which, as entertainment news, get away with far worse. Of course this is water off a duck’s back to the tried and true independentista, but we all know the next independence referendum will be won or lost on the back of people switching sides. This class of media war aims to discourage independence supporters who are growing tired of the seemingly endless campaign. It galvanises the unionists, and constructs and maintains the false narrative that the “SNP has peaked.”

Voters conditioned to bow down in reverence to “institutions” like The Times will uncritically accept its facts over those presented in papers the likes of the National and other pro-independence “new media.” This too is part of the trick. If we hope to increase support for an independent Scotland in the run-up to and during the next referendum we have to prioritise the development of smart strategies to combat the lies being spread by the British media propaganda machine. While I don’t have the answer to this problem, I am certain that we all have to become better media analysts and work on methods of getting a more honest version of the news over to the rest of Scotland.

So does London have plans to invade an independent Scotland? Well, yes. It did. But that was a long time ago. The last planned invasion was in 1707, when an English army was stationed at the Tweed, ready to use military means in the event that the Scots decided not to sign the Act of Union.


Astroturf and manipulation of media messages

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15 thoughts on “Leaked: The Plan to Invade an Independent Scotland

  1. Churchill ordered troops and tanks into George Square, Glasgow to put down the workers of Glasgow! Did you miss that incident in Scottish History? 1707 was not the last time English soldiers were on the streets in Scotland with a mission to subdue the unruly Scots. They were English troops. The Scottish troops were confined to barracks in case they backed the workers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lorna, thanks for this. If you read closely you will see that I referenced an “independent Scotland.” The last time England planned to invade and independent Scotland – that it a Scotland not part of the United Kingdom – was in 1707. However, this was not the point of the article.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. This was an inspired idea for an article, a personification of what Wings has been trying to alert its ‘alert’ readership to for years. Unfortunately I don’t envisage much increased awareness though, given that the already converted will be those most likely to read it. I am going to try sharing it as an experiment however if you don’t mind, in an effort to provoke a reaction from some whom I wouldn’t expect.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. More perverse is the drip effect. Almost every. BBC Scotland news program has an article, commonly the lead item, that Scotland is either falling behind UK in something, the Scottish services are failing, etc. In addition MSM target individuals rather than a party/government department. An example was tonight’s item about EU grant failure. This was displayed as a failure by NS rather than Scottish Govt/Communities Minister etc.


  4. I liked this it dies hit the nail on the head. When I was at school I was taught that journalists start in the middle and end with the beginning. Headlines should be to gain interest, that’s what your headline did to me.
    I’ve given up with reading news papers as they are so biased as to be treated as using brain washing techniques on their readers.


  5. The Scots didn’t decide to sign the Act Of Union (final paragraph) the Act Of Union was signed without the knowledge or permission of the people of Scotland by a small, greedy group of wealthy landowners petrified at the thought of losing their positions of privilege in the event of an English takeover.


  6. Well written piece and so true. Sadly until we can break the media stranglehold we will always be fighting a rearguard action.
    Even now that many have seen and understood that Corbyn received the same treatment they seem unwilling to accept that the case for independence has rarely been given a balanced hearing.


  7. I think we should start making truthful, concise headlines of our own, debunking the unionist lies. We should then print them out, cut them into small slices and leave them everywhere: Trains; buses; waiting rooms; toilet walls, everywhere. They’ll get binned ultimately but so do newspapers. If a small army did this the messages would work in the same subliminal way. They could be handwritten, done by graphic designers, you, me. It would be guerilla to some extent. Why the hell not?


  8. Every time the so-called media print what we know to be lies, is there not away of attaching the truth to their article of lies and explainining or contradicting them as it happens on every lie or untruth. This I think should be possible given today’s technology ie Facebook, Twtter and the Internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Scotland has never been invaded by the English! The French,German and Dutch mercenaries have that were hired by the English right up to today, now a slight change of tactics, they are now sending Muslim mercenaries to do their dirty work! What I find very laughable is that we are still bowing down to them, I’m beginning to feel quite ashamed to say I’m a Scotsman and that’s after serving my country for 12 years !!!!!


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