The real significance of the stooshie over flags may not be immediately obvious. Firstly, it has to be recognised that the issue here is not flags at all, but the casually malicious dishonesty of the British media and British politicians. But the most interesting aspect of the whole affair is the way British Nationalists have played right into Nicola Sturgeon’s hands.
It has been evident for some weeks now that the SNP, both as a party and as an administration, was taking a more robust approach to challenging the smears and lies which ooze like stinking pus from the British parties at Holyrood and their accomplices in the print and broadcast media to pollute Scotland’s politics. Targets of this venomous propaganda include, not only the SNP and the Scottish Government, but the Scottish Parliament, NHS Scotland, Police Scotland and any institution, organisation, process or tradition which is representative of Scotland’s distinctive political culture.
The First Minister herself hinted at this new approach when, in her New Year address, she referred to the Scotland that would emerge in 2018 being “an emboldened, more confident and more assertive nation”. It was clear that this would require a change in the way our elected representatives dealt with the ongoing campaign of disinformation and denigration being conducted through media which are either meekly compliant or actively cooperating.
There was always going to be a tipping point. While the new assertiveness was initially confined to social media – where responses from SNP MSPs and MPs became notably more pointed – Nicola Sturgeon could be certain that the British press would provide her with an opportunity to very publicly challenge the falsehoods. And that’s precisely what has happened.
There will be a backlash. The imperious sense of entitlement that characterises ‘One Nation’ British Nationalism is, perhaps, nowhere more strongly manifested than in a certain breed of journalists’ conviction that they have a some sort of dispensation which permits them to act with total impunity. Any who protest the deplorable behaviour and challenge the arrogant attitude will be loudly denounced as the enemies of free speech by those with all the power to drown out dissenting voices. We all must stand strong against the witch-hunt which will surely ensue now that Nicola Sturgeon has had the temerity to confront the corrupt propagandists and insist on basic standards of journalistic professionalism.
If you like the idea of an emboldened, more confident and more assertive Scotland then you must be prepared to play your part. Just as Nicola Sturgeon is playing hers.
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