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By Jason Michael
Mike Small at Bella Caledonia has joined the cool kids of Scotland’s new pretendy media in calling us all narrow minded idiots for focusing our analysis of the media in Scotland to its bias. But Mr Small has all the ideas and none of the money.
There is absolutely no denying the fact that, as far as the media is concerned, we have a serious problem in Scotland. In every healthy democratic society the purpose of the media is to reflect the broad spectrum of public opinion in the country, but here in Scotland we have an establishment media that doesn’t even bother anymore to hide its British nationalist position. Pro-independence media – the political position of about half the population – is limited almost entirely to the so-called alternative media; to social media, blogs, YouTube and what have you. There are a small number of exceptions in the form of The National and iScot Magazine, but by and large our national media is anything but representative of the broader opinions of our country.
We’re right to be proud of the small mainstream pro-independence media we have built since 2014, but we can’t afford to be uncritical of it either. The National, the only openly pro-independence daily newspaper, isn’t owned in Scotland and – as a sister paper of The Herald – can be seen as a corporate attempt by this overtly unionist rag to recover sales lost during and after the 2014 independence campaign. For its part iScot isn’t “pro-independence,” and for good reason. The editorial decision at iScot ensures that it remains a platform for voices of all political persuasions in Scotland – something that cannot be said for the rest of the mainstream media.
@Butterfly_Reb Up a hill? Roond and roond?—
Bella Caledonia (@bellacaledonia) November 02, 2017
What we are left with then are those in the independent or alternative media, and we can’t underestimate the impact these writers and producers have had on the politics of Scotland. Looking at what this blog has been saying, at what others like Wee Ginger Dug, Wings Over Scotland, Indy Ref Two, Inform Scotland, and others have been saying, it is clear that our main line of criticism of the establishment media is that it is unionist and unrepresentative. Well, it is.
Then we have guys like Mike Small – editor of the Bella Caledonia blog – taking it upon himself at yet another Radical Independence conference to launch another scathing criticism of our critique. Apparently our criticism of the establishment media is one dimensional, and we must go beyond what he clearly sees as a puerile and naïve attempt at doing independent thinking. Mr Small in his own words:
In Scotland we have a one dimensional critique of the media; we talk about it being “unionist,” and we constantly go on about the bias in the BBC and in the media and it being unionist. Of course it is unionist. That is its role and its purpose, but it is also structurally misogynist and corporate. It represents corporate interests, and we need to go beyond this one dimensional analysis of our media. But more than that, it is infantilist; it treats us as children.
No one’s going to argue with him in this assessment. The purpose of the British media is to safeguard the union, and is therefore deeply biased in its representation of Scottish politics. It is unarguably misogynistic in its structural makeup and highly corporate; representing the interests of big business over and above the concerns of ordinary people, and it does infantilise us – but then so too does Mike Small.
It’s no secret that Mike and I have had the odd set-to on social media. Assuming for himself the role of father of the independence movement, he has frequently derided the popular display of flags and banners and independence rallies, a sort of flag waving nationalism – as he sees it – that causes him no small feeling of embarrassment. Ignoring the reality that this is the platform of ordinary activists and more than once declaring his intellectual superiority over them and much of the rest of the Scottish pro-independence community, he presumes to be the only chap with the answers.
Bella Caledonia (@bellacaledonia) December 20, 2017
Of course there is so much more we ought to be doing in the alternative media. But he, I will argue, and others like him are the ones approaching this as children. Mike Small seems to think that we have infinite resources; much like the child who thinks mum and dad’s wallet is a bottomless pit of cash. Off the top of my head I can think of ten pro-independence blogs and vlogs, all produced by private individuals working away on their own buck in their own homes. Each of them will gladly tell Mike how difficult this is. There’s no money in it, and they all have to eat and pay their rent.
Fewer people every month are paying for The National, and iScot makes no secret of how difficult it has become for it to make ends meet. Scotland in Union will always get huge financial support from a few extremely wealthy British nationalists with a vested interest in keeping Scotland under the thumb, and – given the nature of the establishment media – independence supporters spend more money every month funding the unionist media than they do pro-independence media. The cold hard truth is that pro-independence media is being daily starved to death.
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) February 11, 2018
So Mike thinks we’re being terribly childish in our “one dimensional” critique of the establishment media. Bully for him. Right now it is just a statement of fact that we can’t do everything. It’s not, as Angry Scotland once suggested on Twitter, that we independence-first types want to put all other issues – as pressing as they are – to the “back of the bus.” As grown-ups we just know that nothing will be achieved at all if we do not first win the most urgent front in the media war – independence from Britain and a proper Scottish media.
Of course we are being narrow in our criticism of the British media, and this is by no means a statement of our lack of interest in all the other injustices. It is simply a reflection of all we have the resources and the time and the manpower to do. Mike is living in a fantasy world if he thinks we can dovetail and become a media like any other until we are an independent state, but then this fantasy fits well with the fact that he is just playing a game – pretending to “be the media.”
Mike Small – #RIC2016 1st October