But there is a darker, more sinister, side to this kind of nostalgia-propaganda – when it employs real people as instruments of this mythology. Again, to some extent, this is something British propaganda has always done, but in the main this instrumentalisation of people has either been in the abstract – as in the token image of a silhouetted soldier at a comrade’s graveside or the Unknown Soldier – or in its use of historical figures – such as Winston Churchill being voted the ‘greatest Briton of all time.’
Honestly, we didn’t think they thought like that – not really, and not so ordinarily. We had our suspicions, but we had no way of knowing just how idiotic and wonderfully deluded the opinion of the average Englishman is. Boasting of empire and the conquest of half the world, taking pride in something analogous to robbing half the houses on Highfield Road, is a special kind of craziness. It betrays the ignorance at the heart of England’s memory of empire, an obnoxious and dark period of British history in which thoughts of racial supremacism led to genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Scotland has not quite learned this yet. Of course, there are many of us in the Scottish independence movement who are well aware of the lies, the deceptions, and manipulations of England, but still the Scottish government, the SNP, and various other well-meaning independentistas are operating like innocents – believing, in spite of the now overwhelming evidence, that British politicians can be trusted, that the BBC will provide a fair and balanced platform, and that in the end Britain will honour the democratic decisions of the Scottish people.
Billy Mitchell is anything but your average member of the public. Certainly, from the look of things, he appears to be doing well from his shady links to the British government, and he always seems to turn up right at the wrong part of the world – that is: Wherever the UK government or elements of it are up to dodgy dealings. His four performances on Question Time tell us one thing for sure, that there are hidden forces at work using him as a tool to make the SNP and the Scottish government look bad. It doesn’t matter that his facts are all to pot.
Steve Bannon is a Nazi. Let’s not beat about the bush or be overly cautious about saying this; he is a Nazi. The moment we say this there will always be some quasi-intellectual objection to the use of this descriptor, invariably demanding that we do not use “Nazi” as a lazy catch-all term for people on the right with whom we disagree. The objection will also come with the insistence that Nazis must be accompanied by jack boots, repression, and death camps, and the criticism that its use disrespects the victims of the “real Nazis.” Let’s put that to bed right now.
In spite of his obvious intelligence, his quick-wittedness, and his natural ingenuity, ‘the Scot’ is slavishly obedient to the point of servility. In fact, this is made quite explicit in a scene – after the first attempt on the Home Secretary’s life (played by Keeley Hawes); after saving her life almost at the cost of his own a uniformed officer points him to the service entrance of the hotel where she is staying. Take the backdoor Jock! As always, ‘the Scot’ gets ahead in the world by being perfectly obedient to his betters. He cannot be the hero of the story unless he knows his place.
Yes, you read that right. According to the unionist media in Scotland a “civil war” erupted in the SNP last Friday following the resignation of Alex Salmond. It didn’t matter that no one in the SNP and no one in the wider independence movement noticed the outbreak of hostilities; fake news is just that – fake news. Yet, to mark the occasion – even as the BBC’s political editor Brian Taylor, “journalist,” tried to downgrade the fictitious infighting to “turmoil” – independentistas took to social media to juke it out with the hashtag “#SNPCivilWar.”
The counter-voice – such as the political voice of the SNP, Sinn Féin, or Plaid Cymru – is the modern equivalent of the pillory or the stocks. This is where the enemy is presented, carefully framed and expertly mitigated, so as to make it serve the purposes of the state. We may hear the voice and see the face of Nicola Sturgeon, for example, but the narrative – the most important element of “the news” – is always that of the British state. No BBC broadcast featuring a counter-voice will leave the audience in any doubt as to dangerous nature of that voice.