I suppose it was inevitable that the British media would find something in the ‘Panama Papers’ affair that they could weave into their campaign to portray Scotland as some kind of lawless hell-hole.
Don’t get me wrong! I have no doubt that the situation regarding Scottish company law and SLPs is, at least approximately, as claimed. Given that this is yet another area of legislation which is reserved to Westminster, one would expect it to be dubious, if not actually corrupt. But that’s a separate issue. What I find offensive is the eagerness and unconcealed glee with which the mouthpieces of the British establishment pounce on anything that can be spun into another gobbet of anti-Scottish propaganda. What rankles is the way in which even the most tenuous opportunity is seized upon for the purpose of denigrating Scotland.
There’s one of those ‘fine lines’ involved here. The line that separates justifiable criticism and revelations that are undoubtedly in the public interest from a decidedly malicious political agenda. Which side of that line articles such as this fall on is, of course, largely a matter of perception. But if that perception is open enough to take in the wider context of mainstream media messages relating to Scotland, it is very difficult indeed to avoid recognising a pattern of belittling and besmirching and defaming such as one would hardly find in the national media of any other country.
The print media in particular is nothing if not Janus-faced. On those all-too-frequent occasions when that fateful combination of manipulative power and towering self-righteousness leads to conduct so reprehensible as to prompt calls for regulation, they will take up the shield of moral obligation and the sword of public service to defend ‘freedom of expression’. Or, to put it another way, their ‘right’ to act with impunity. Their ‘freedom’ to behave irresponsibly or despicably without being held to account.
But, when criticised for partiality or for distorting facts to serve some partisan agenda, they will immediately disclaim any moral responsibility. They will hide behind the defence that they are merely businesses trying to sell a product, with no duty to the public or to democracy or to truth.
The question that consumers of media messages must ask themselves is how much confidence they can have in organs with such an ambivalent, self-serving attitude to anything we might recognise as professional standards or an ethical code.Views: 3359