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By Jason Michael
Never look a gift horse in the mouth. By attempting to set Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black up to fail in an online popularity contest Sky News set its own trap and walked right into it. Scotland has never had quite so much fun.
British establishment media bias is something we have become used to in Scotland. Whether it’s the BBC, Sky News, STV, or any of the unionist papers, the misrepresentation of Scotland and the blatant distortion of “the news” have become accepted realities of everyday life since the independence referendum. Usually, however, it’s not until after the fact that we can call it out; a fact that leaves pro-independence media analysts playing catch-up once the damage has been done. It’s rare indeed when we’re ahead of the posse and in a position to see what’s coming and predict the outcome. Well thanks to Ceren Senkul’s poll on the Sky News website we all had front row seats to one of the most spectacular British propaganda cock-ups of all time – and it all happened in slow motion.
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) March 08, 2018
When I was a youngster – a younger youngster than I am now – I remember sitting on the couch with my older brother watching our dad down on his hands and knees about to “sort” a plug socket with his famous screwdriver. The brother and I looked at one another, both with the same hellish grin on our faces. The mains hadn’t been turned off. My big brother mouthed silently: “Watch this!” What a clatter. If the electricity wasn’t out when the trusty Phillips went into socked, it was out now. Dad had been catapulted to the other end of the room swearing like a trooper and we couldn’t laugh. Scelpings weren’t frowned upon in those days.
When Sky News launched a poll asking the British public to vote for Britain’s most influential women ahead of International Women’s Day, everyone in the independence movement in Scotland recognised it as one of those screwdriver moments. We knew what was going to happen long before anyone at Sky could do anything about it.
The poll was rigged – like all of these British media popularity contests. No doubt Ms Senkul had been briefed. The “Top Five” – to be revealed on Wednesday – would be the usual paragons of ideal Britishness; Mrs Saxe-Coburg und Gotha, Diana Spencer, Maggie Thatcher, maybe Victoria, maybe Theresa May, maybe a baroness or two – you know, the British types. In a list of a hundred women not one of the female politicians from Wales and the north of Ireland got a mention. Kezia Dugdale, one time leader of the Labour branch office in Scotland, wasn’t on the list and neither was Ruth Davidson – The Herald newspaper’s “Scottish politician of the year” 2017.
Jason Michael (@Jeggit) March 08, 2018
So it was as clear as day why the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and the youngest Westminster MP Mhairi Black were on the list. As prominent female members of the Scottish National Party – the party that threatens to tear Britain asunder – their intended function was to lose and so furnish the media with yet another handy stick with which to beat Scotland and the SNP.
Saying now that this isn’t quite what happened would be the understatement of the year. People all over Scotland cottoned on to what was happening and pretty soon the whole poll was on course to blow up in Sky News’ face. Folk all over Scotland rallied behind Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black and showed their appreciation by giving them their votes, and they voted in their tens of thousands. Social media was on fire over the poll. It was shared with family and friends – all Sturgeon and Black supporters – all around the world. By Tuesday night it was clear the intended winners didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of making the top spot. As the cut-off date drew close Nicola Sturgeon was a fine Scots mile ahead of the woman in second place and Mhairi Black was not far behind in third.
It was at this point that something truly remarkable happened. The general feeling in Scotland was that something would happen to knock Sturgeon from first place. Few believed Sky would allow the biggest benefits claimant in the UK to come second to an upstart little oik from north of the border. Some suspected a troll farm would be used to give Mrs Windsor a wee boost, while others thought perhaps the whole poll would be abandoned and quietly deleted later on. But what actually happened was far better than anything anyone could have guessed. Sky News simply deleted any mention of the closing date and let the thing run in the hope that the wonderful patriotic people of Britain would rally behind their dotty sovereign. That never happened.
Wednesday came and went. The votes kept pouring in for Nicola and Mhairi and – to our great delight – Mhairi leapfrogged Betty. Scottish social media erupted! What had been designed as a propaganda tool to humiliate Scots and Scotland, while providing the basis for the fabrication of a story about Britons – Battle of Britain style – keeping calm and getting on with Brexit, turned into a beautiful expression of the Scottish people’s unwillingness to tolerate any more guff from the British media. In a final act of utter capitulation Sky News, in the most sickening and ungracious way possible, announced the result of the poll:
And it seems the fans of two of the SNP’s most prominent figures have responded in their thousands. Both party leader Nicola Sturgeon and MP Mhairi Black are among the top five, along with the UK’s longest serving monarch Her Majesty The Queen, the country’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the ‘People’s Princess’ Diana, Princess of Wales.
“Nicola Sturgeon and MP Mhairi Black are among the top five.” Sky News, it would appear, doesn’t even know how to lose face with dignity. Rather than acknowledging that the result was an earth shaking landslide in favour of Scotland’s favourites, the unnamed author opted instead – to the resounding laughter of Scotland – to hide what had actually happened behind the petulant language of SNP “fans” spoiling our fun.
Peter Nimmo (@PeterNimmo1) March 08, 2018
Rev. Peter Nimmo, my favourite Inverness minister
It was – for us at least – all just a really fantastic bit of fun, but a bit of craic from which we can learn. The subtle and not so subtle bias and misrepresentation of Scotland has always been an integral component in the British establishment’s strategy of keeping us in the union. In a very Pavlovian sense we have been trained to see the British state and its media machine as undefeatable, and as a result we have inherited a national inferiority complex that is seen in all its inglorious misery in Scottish unionism – the sycophantic servility of the cap-doffing quisling Scot. But this experience has been wonderful. We have learned how to see them coming, lay a trap, and rout them so completely that even over cyberspace we can hear them crying.
There is nothing unbeatable about the British anti-Scottish media machine. It is as arrogant as it is stupid, and that – for us – is a marvellous combination. Cheap hacks the likes of Ceren Senkul can be hired ten-a-penny to do “journalism” by numbers; a pathetic stringing together of clichés and slogans without even the slightest nod to honesty, truth, or integrity. Their paymasters – who are every bit as thick – have nothing behind them but an idiotic belief in the greater goodness of their Britishness. That, ladies and gentlemen, is all that it is; nothing but a big confidence trick pulled off by wealthy establishment ideologues and an endless supply of private school trustafarians. We should do this more often.
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