This, in The Herald, is another of those articles (is there any other kind) which requires careful reading in order to separate the nuggets of genuine information from the dross of unionist spin.
Uncritical consumers of media messages will be immediately influenced by the use of the pejorative term “state guardians”. For those who make the effort to unravel the tangle of disinformation and downright dishonesty, that term serves to signal the prejudices of the author, and warns of the slant that is being put on the piece. Unsurprisingly, that slant is towards conveying an impression of crisis, chaos and catastrophe, in keeping with a more general effort by the British establishment to portray Scotland as something akin to a ‘failed state’.
Only a relatively small number of people will be sufficiently aware of the detail of the Named Person system to recognise that the term “state guardian” is totally inappropriate. It is, in effect, a lie. An honest report would not try to manipulate the reader’s perceptions and attitudes in this way. An honest report would be content with referring to ‘Named Persons’. And honest report would acknowledge that, far from being a new army of “state guardians, Named Persons are simply the people who already have a legal duty of care, given a moderately expanded role and additional resources in order to facilitate easier access to services for families and better communication among the agencies charged with responsibility for ensuring the well-being of children and young people.
There are no proposals for “state guardians”. Why use such language unless the purpose is, not to inform, but to inflame?
This kind of propagandising relies on people being ill-informed. It also relies on the fact that few people will read beyond the headline. Fewer still beyond the opening paragraphs. This is especially true if the headline and opening paragraphs appear to confirm the reader’s prejudices and preconceptions. Which explains why, in a media environment massively dominated by the British establishment, unionists, and other passive consumers of British media output, tend to be – anecdotally, at least – significantly less aware of the realities of Scottish politics and current affairs than those who are more inclined to scrutinise the messages being fed to them.
Forewarned by the dishonest headline, the active consumer of media messages will be prompted to sift the story in the manner suggested above. Doing so, what do they find? What does the actual information content of the article tell them?
Once separated from the mess of British nationalist rhetoric, the genuine information suggests no more than the rather mundane implementation issues that one would reasonably expect with a reform such as the introduction of the Named Person role. And that these challenges are being met. Not as the single event that the author of the article appears to imagine might be possible, but as an ongoing process.
We are well accustomed to this kind of anti-SNP bias in a mainstream British media which is, effectively and almost without exception, the voice of the British establishment. It would be easy to become blasé about the disinformation, distortion and downright dishonesty. But, when the issue is something as important as the well-being of our nation’s children, the crass irresponsibility of petty politicking and media sensationalising serves to remind us that there is an agenda at work here which has absolutely no regard for Scotland, its institutions, or its people.
Bad enough that British nationalists would happily trash Scotland’s economy and undermine our public services in the name of defending established structures of power, privilege and patronage. Bad enough that they flaunt their contempt for the people of Scotland and for democracy. When they put allegiance to the British state before the welfare of children, this must surely be a betrayal too far.Views: 2947