Whatever the rest of us may think of David Mundell’s claim that there is “general agreement” between the Scottish and British governments on anything Brexit-related, Mike Russell is too astute a politician to come right out and call the Scottish Secretary a liar. But perhaps he could be more comfortable with accusing Mundell of manufacturing truth.
I recall writing about the concept of ‘manufactured truth’ back in 2015. On that occasion I was referring to the British media’s practice of treating as established truth allegations made against individuals associated with the SNP or the Yes campaign without regard for the absence of any substantive evidence. Anything that serves the British establishment’s narrative can go from rumour to full-blown witch-hunting ‘scandal’ in a single step, by-passing such niceties as the presumption of innocence or consideration of the known facts.
There are countless examples of ‘manufactured truth’ – or what, for convenience, we might term ‘fakts’. From Scotland’s multi-billion pound deficit to an economy entirely dependent on oil revenues and the hatred of Alex Salmond among women; the anti-independence campaign has always been riddled with this particularly pernicious form of dishonesty.
In that earlier article I was referring to truths manufactured from, and in furtherance of, smears against individuals – such as the deplorable hounding of Michelle Thomson. But there are other ways in which artificial truths are cooked up. Often, relatively small fakts are contrived for the purpose of lending spurious support to a larger manufactured truth. The annual budget surplus, an unavoidable product of the way the Scottish Government is funded and has absolutely no negative consequences, is regularly portrayed as an ‘underspend’ which deprives public services of desperately needed resources. This fakt is then cited as proof of the larger manufactured truth of the SNP administration’s fiscal incompetence.
Mundane instances of issues faced, and competently managed, by NHS Scotland are inflated, exaggerated and distorted into fakts that feed the manufactured truth of crisis (krisis?) in the health service.
You get the picture.
And it’s not only journalists who are guilty of manufacturing convenient truths. British politicians are just as bad. They and their accomplices in the British media have a symbiotic relationship. It’s often difficult to tell which is which is parasite and which is host. As Augustus De Morgan observed,
“Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,
And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.”
One can hardly help but think of David Mundell as a ‘lesser flea’. Particularly after his recent appearances alongside Theresa May’s new Cabinet Office minister, David Lidington, when his very subordinate status was made apparent in a manner which verged on public humiliation.
Being a mere minion to his London superiors doesn’t mean Mundell is not in the business of manufacturing truth, however. And this is precisely what he is doing with his claim of “general agreement” on amending the EU withdrawal Bill. His intention is that this fictional accord between the regime that he serves and the government which serves Scotland will become a fakt. His hope is that this fakt will be picked up by the media and cited in print articles and TV/radio broadcasts as if it were a genuine fact.
If the truth manufacturing process is successful then, over the coming days and weeks we will see and hear SNP politicians being questioned relentlessly about their refusal to honour a “general agreement” which will by then have metamorphosed into a formal commitment. The more extreme elements of the media will carry headlines accusing Nicola sturgeon of perfidy, treachery, treason and, quite possibly, cannibalism.
Evermore, British Nationalism’s bilious brigade of online blusterers will refer to the fakt that the SNP breached an “agreement” which, in fact, never existed. A new truth will have been successfully manufactured.
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