Those press reports suggesting Ruth Davidson would “use the clout of her 13 parliamentarians to influence the weakened Prime Minister” were, of course, lies. They were a con. They were part of yet another major deceit perpetrated against the people of Scotland by the British establishment.
What we should be talking about is the role of the British media in all of this. Because deception on such a scale is not possible without the collusion of the media.
This collusion need not take the form of an outright lie. Although the British print and broadcast media have little compunction about peddling outright falsehoods, their preference is for marginally more subtle forms of dishonesty. It’s all to do with power. The media like to think their manipulation of public perception is clever and covert. They like to imagine themselves working as an unseen influence. They see themselves as puppet-masters, deftly toying with people so much their intellectual inferiors as to be totally unaware of the tugging strings.
Often, it is not necessary to lie in order to deceive. There are lies of omission. There are lies of exaggeration. There is the selectivity rationalised by the concept of ‘news values’ which can at times be indistinguishable from censorship. There is the choice to avoid asking the truly pertinent questions. The media have many tools at their disposal. And, regrettably, they can generally rely on large swathes of their audience being passive and uncritical consumers of media messages.
So it was that Ruth Davidson was able to sell herself as the ‘winner’ of the 2016 Holyrood election. So it was that she was able to claim a status that was in no way justified by her performance or that of her ‘party’. She is neither intelligent enough nor influential enough to achieve this on her own. In order portray herself as a real leader of a real party and to anoint herself Queen of the British Nationalists and to sell herself as pretender to the role of spokesperson for Scotland, Davidson required the active cooperation of the media. She needed accomplices who were well aware that all of this was false. But who were prepared to go along with it regardless.
The totally ludicrous notion of Davidson holding the balance of power at Westminster through a group of MPs answerable to her was just an extension of the media-generated myth. A myth that nobody is more persuaded by than Davidson herself.
For those prepared to see, the signs of this deception were quite apparent in the course of the UK general election campaign. In early May, Ian Duncan – the failed contender for the Perth & North Perthshire seat subsequently elevated to the House of Lords in order to thwart the democratic will of the electorate – appeared at one of those tightly controlled Tory ‘public meetings’ in Alyth. As reported by The Courier, he did a gruesome double-act with Ruth Davidson in which he pretended he was some kind of ‘rebel’ who would defend Scotland’s interests by defying party discipline while Ruth played along by assuring the invited audience of Tory faithful that she knew Ian to be a “pain in the backside”. Oh how they all laughed! I guess you had to be there. And a sycophantic member of Ruth’s fan club.
For those of us not equipped with regulation-issue rose-tinted glasses, this horribly contrived episode was quite evidently the groundwork being laid for further enhancing the myth of Ruth Davidson by presenting her and ‘her’ Tory MPs – and, crucially, NOT Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP – as the force standing up for Scotland at Westminster.
And the media went along with the pretence. They told the story precisely the way Davidson’s minders wanted it told. Nobody in the media asked the obvious questions about how any of this would actually work in practice. Nobody in the media asked which parts of the Tory manifesto Ian Duncan was intending to rebel against. Nobody in the media queried the fact that he was standing on a manifesto that he acknowledged to be, at least in part, against Scotland’s interests.
Nobody in the media challenged his claim to be a ‘rebel’ who had gone against his own party in the European Parliament. Had they done so, they would have found that this amounted to failing to support the party line less than 2% of the time – including occasions when he simply didn’t show up to vote.
Nobody in the media interrogated Duncan about the fact that, by accepting the nomination as the party’s candidate, he had effectively given the Tory manifesto his personal endorsement as well as giving an undertaking that, if elected, he would work as part of the British Conservative group at Westminster. Nobody in the media pointed out that he was now reneging on both the endorsement and the undertaking.
Nobody in the media examined the claim that Duncan was intending to be a serving Conservative MP, but refuse to accept the party whip as and when it suited him. Nobody in the media asked how this would be possible. Nobody in the media felt the slightest urging of professional curiosity when Ruth Davidson told them that Ian Duncan was a “pain in the backside”.
The British media went along with the deception. They enabled the deception. They were part of the deception. They always were. They still are.Views: 7016
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