In the corporate media today, Scottish independence is increasingly presented as not merely a bad idea, but sinister and threatening. This danger runs inwards and outwards: it can be a threat to the individual citizen living in Scotland, or it can be a threat to entire states – depending on who is speaking and who their audience is. It’s a malleable nightmare. It has been given a structure: Alex Salmond as the mendacious, autocratic and self-serving leader, and the SNP as his brainwashed and loyal army. The need for an ‘enemy’ in the British corporate media is not a new idea, however.
During the Cold War, from the late 1940s to the 1980s, ‘Communism’ was – juxtaposed against ‘democracy’ or capitalism – was seen as a global threat, with Russia at the economic, military and political centre. Britain’s proximity to the Marxist-Leninist monolith was a cause for anxiety. From the 1970s to the mid-1990s, Irish Republican ‘terrorism’ plagued the headlines. These people apparently sought to destabilise the civilising mission of British control of the Six Counties. The ‘War on Terror’ in 2001 with the invasion of Afghanistan and invasion of Iraq in 2003 sought to crush ‘Islamic terrorism’. The ‘Fundamentalists Islamists’ – with the near-mythical Osama bin Laden as their leader – were driven by their hatred of democracy and Christianity (the West) to attacking any physical manifestation of these concepts. Since the launch of Yes Scotland and the Radical Independence Campaign in 2012, media attention has focused on Scottish ‘nationalism’. Any person or group supporting independence – be they anarchists, socialists or free-market capitalists – is referred to as ‘nationalist’ or ‘nat’ (or ‘cybernat’ if they are expressing themselves in the digital realm). Their values are seen as a wild aberration, diametrically opposed to the normalcy and stability of the British state; their goals are unrealisable at best and potentially dangerous.
The hysteria emanating from the Unionist corporate media and high-profile Unionists is becoming increasingly irrational and detached from reality. While independence has been accused of magically emptying your bank account, more absurd accusations and stories are being manufactured. Parasitic peer, Lord Robertson claimed that “the forces of darkness would simply love it” if Scotland were independent and that the effects would be “cataclysmic in geopolitical terms”. The entrance of the good-versus-evil narrative is implied here, creating a moral divergence between the pro-British and pro-Scottish groups. Head of Better Together, Alistair Darling compared Alex Salmond’s behaviour to that of Kim Jong-il, deceased ‘supreme leader’ of North Korea. In the West, the dictator was well-known for his heinous human rights record and state-created personality cult. He also complained that people are being “threatened for saying the wrong things” – hinting at a latent violence in independence supporters. Recently elected to European parliament, David Coburn of the misogynist and racist UKIP blurted out a string of non sequiturs relating to Salmond and the SNP the day after Darling. He likened the party to a cult, Salmond as “prototype dictator” then opined: “they all follow behind him [Salmond]. Nobody says anything wrong, it’s always the same nonsense, there’s no humanity to them.” The SNP, then, have entered the realm of science-fiction villains. The No camp have framed this debate as one where they are the underdogs, despite having a slight lead in polls, and the entire apparatus of the British state to assist them. This is an obvious exaggeration but helpful in that it adds to creating a culture of fear: the opposition has shifted from being a potential threat to a likely one.
This tactic closely resembles, in public relations speak, deviance amplification. The ‘nationalists’ are increasingly being portrayed as folk devils, whose aims are state subversion (via separation), with their values and methods that completely deviate from the rational, democratic and peaceful Unionists. Whether intentionally or not, the British corporate media have elevated Scottish independence to ‘enemy’ status. By doing this, they demean and distort the hopes of genuine grassroots campaigns that are now active in our communities. Evidently, this does not matter; what matters is defending the British state at all costs.