There is much justified outrage among the lieges today over the latest example of a bare-faced lie from a British politician. Or, at least, among that part of the lieges which doesn’t rely for its information on the mainstream British media.
The liar, in this instance, was none other than Boss Tory, British Prime Minister and scourge of civilised values, Theresa May. The lie concerned parties being fined by the Electoral Commission for various forms of electoral naughtiness. Commenting on the announcement by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that there would be no prosecutions despite dozens of Tory MPs having been found by the CPS to have broken the law during the 2015 UK general election, TM the PM said,
If we look at the expenses issue, we have seen all the major parties, and the Scottish nationalists, being fined for mistakes having been made on national expenses. We’ve paid our fines, and I sincerely hope that the other parties are paying theirs.
Some might take the view that the snide, sneering, supercilious remark relegating Scotland’s democratically elected party of government and the third largest party at Westminster to the status of an afterthought is beneath the dignity of any senior politician. But we should never underestimate the gutter-crawling, sewer-stooping sleekitness of the British nationalist ideologue.
Neither should we underestimate their capacity for casual, contemptuous dishonesty. Because Theresa May’s comment about the SNP was not just unbecomingly facetious, it is a total lie. Unlike the British parties, the SNP has never been fined by the Electoral Commission. Because, again unlike the British parties, the SNP has never broken the rules. The comment was a maliciously untruthful smear with all the malign hallmarks of Blair McDougall’s Project Fear.
Perhaps even more galling than the lie itself is the manner in which it was proffered. It clearly didn’t occur to Theresa May or anyone in her entourage to actually check their facts before making such a potentially damaging allegation. They simply didn’t care. It didn’t matter to them whether or not it was true. All that mattered was that it was a strike at the hated SNP. Truthfulness was of no consequence to them because they could be confident that there would be no consequences for being untruthful.
That confidence was almost entirely justified. For the most part, the mainstream media simply ignored the incident. Or, to put it another way, they censored the news so as to protect the British political elite. The British Prime Minister tells a blatant lie in an attempt to smear her political rivals during an election campaign, and the British media tries to bury the story. Well, most of them did.
Most chose to keep the public in the dark about the lie by the simple expedient of not mentioning the comment from Theresa May. The Herald published the comment in full but neglected to point out that it was untrue and used an old quote from Nicola Sturgeon instead of giving the First Minister’s actual response to the smear. Not to be outdone when it comes to manipulating the news, the BBC went so far as to doctor the quote from Theresa May, editing out the reference to the SNP so as to conceal the fact that she’d lied.
It fell to the Scottish Sun’s home affairs editor, Chris Musson, to behave like a professional journalist. He did what Theresa May considered unnecessary and checked the facts. Having failed to elicit any evidence in support of May’s allegation from the Conservative Party, he approached the Electoral Commission directly and was informed that they had “never fined the Scottish National Party for any breaches of the party campaign rules at any election”. Cue a conflagration in Theresa May’s leopard-skin knickers.
The lesson from all of this should surely be that we must always assume that British politicians are lying. And we should never assume that the British media is telling us the unvarnished truth. The implications are obvious and profound. The proper functioning of democracy relies on voters’ ability to make informed choices. Anybody depending on the BBC, The Herald etc. for political intelligence is going to be seriously misinformed and so unable to make the informed decisions that democracy requires.
In this instance, readers of The Sun would get the whole story. But that will not always be the case. Chris Musson’s reporting on this smear is remarkable because it’s exceptional. It is out of the ordinary. The norm for the British media is the kind of dishonesty and devious manipulation that we see from the BBC. The only sources of Scottish political news and analysis that are at all reliable and trustworthy are alternative media such as Wings Over Scotland – where you will find a forensic account of this latest anti-SNP smear attempt.
We should look for this sort of dishonesty in everything we are told by British politicians and the media which collude with them in trying to deceive the public. As an illustrative example, my attention was caught by an item in today’s Courier in which current Tory MEP and candidate in the coming election, Ian Duncan, makes a claim which is both extraordinary and dubious. Campaigning alongside Ruth “Rape Clause” Davidson in the Perth & North Perthshire constituency that he hopes to seize from the SNP’s Pete Wishart, Duncan told a doubtless carefully selected audience that he would gladly defy his party if he thought a particular policy would be detrimental to Scotland.
I scoff! Despite Davidson supporting his attempt to portray himself as some sort of rebel by calling him a “pain in the backside”, the reality is that nobody gets selected as a candidate for any party by declaring that they will work against that party in parliament. And even if they were both selected and elected, they would be subject to the party whip at Westminster just the same as any other Tory MP. Big talk from Mr Duncan. But utterly meaningless.
But there’s more. Prompted by my now habitual distrust of British politicians, I was very suspicious of Ian Duncan’s ‘evidence’ for his claim to be a political rogue prepared to “defy the UK Government line”. He said,
“I am the chief whip of the MEPs and I have defied my own line because I fight for Scotland because you have to fight for the people who sent you into the parliament. Full stop, first priority, always.”
In the first place, there’s a glaring contradiction in terms there. That bit about being the chief whip and defying his own line is simply nonsensical – if you bother to think about it. Being the chief whip and being a rebel are mutually exclusive roles.
And, as far as I can determine, his portrayal of himself as a thorn in the side of his party is as false as Theresa May’s claim about the SNP having been fined by the Electoral Commission. According to VoteWatch Europe, Ian Duncan has been loyal to the European Parliament group of which he is chief whip – European Conservatives and Reformists Group – an impressive 91.61% of the time. But his allegiance to this group is outstripped by his devotion to the Tory party, which is rated at a massive 98.29%.
Is that what it takes to be classed as a rebel in the British political system? If all you have to do is defy the party less than 2% of the time it might well be possible to become a rebel by accident. VoteWatch tells us that there are no fewer than 476 people more rebellious than Ian Duncan. Perhaps the Perthshire Tories should have picked one of them to stand against the estimable Pete Wishart.
The choice facing informed voters is quite clear. On the one hand we have Ian Duncan, a man who feels it necessary to make a highly dubious claim to being a rebel prepared to go against the party he nonetheless chooses to be a member of in the hope of persuading us that he has Scotland’s interests at heart.
A man who thereby acknowledges that at least some of his party’s policies are incompatible with Scotland’s interests. A man who admits that he is selling himself on a false prospectus by standing on a manifesto which includes policies that he does not support and are potentially harmful to Scotland.
A man who asserts that he will defy the Tory whip when he has been elected on a Tory ticket despite surely knowing that he would be under a strict obligation to obey.
A man who, in accepting nomination as a candidate for the British Conservative & Unionist Party in Scotland (BCUPS) at least tacitly undertook to accept the whip and now declares than this promise is worthless.
On the other hand we have Pete Wishart, a man who doesn’t have any need to feign commitment to Scotland’s interests as he has proved his dedication over 16 years of diligent service to his country at Westminster – latterly as chair of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee.
In the interests of openness I will acknowledge at this point that Pete Wishart is a friend. But my concern for Scotland transcends personal relationships. I won’t be voting for someone who considers defending Scotland’s interests to be an act of rebellion. I will be voting for Pete Wishart, the man who considers defending Scotland’s interests to be the standard priority for a Scottish MP.
I will be voting for the man who, to my certain knowledge, has never lied to us.Views: 6302
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