Ask the people

I wonder what impression journalists imagine they are creating when they play dumb on the matter of the SNP’s position regarding the next independence referendum. Other, that is, than the impression that they may not actually be playing at all. That they may genuinely be as confused and uncomprehending as they contrive to appear.

They would not be alone, of course. Dumb incomprehension on this matter appears to be a defining characteristic of British nationalists. It’s as if the concept of ultimate authority being vested in the people, rather than a clique of politicians, was totally alien to them. Perhaps it is. Perhaps the kind of people who are susceptible to British nationalist ideology tend also to be the sort of individuals who shy away from responsibility. People who prefer to have decisions made for them. People who are glad to be subject to the authority of a ruling elite. People who, in the parlance of the British class system, “know their place”.

But professional journalists may actually have good reason to be concerned about any potential diminishing of the role of professional politicians with whom they have a symbiotic (I tactfully avoid the term ‘parasitic’) relationship. The political hack’s most valued possession is not their skill as a writer; or their perspicacity; or their analytical abilities. You’ll search long and hard for any evidence of such attributes. No! What distinguishes them, and sets the mainstream journalist apart from the alternative media, is their contact list. It’s their access to professional politicians that makes them professional journalists. Nothing else.

Imagine, then, if those professional politicians became less important. Imagine if, to write anything remotely resembling meaningful political commentary, being able to set up an interview with “The Minister” was not what was important. Imagine if what mattered instead was the attitudes, opinions, perceptions and, ultimately, the conclusions of “ordinary” people. The sort of people for whom journalists have only the contempt evident from the coarse and clumsy ways in which they try to manipulate us.

Perhaps it isn’t dumb incomprehension that we’re seeing from political journalists when it comes to the matter of the SNP’s perfectly transparent stance on the next referendum. Perhaps it’s fearful denial. Perhaps it’s dread inspired by a politician effectively saying, “Don’t ask me! Ask them!”

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