A Clegg tries to bite the SNP on the bum
The Daily Record’s David Clegg talked, on BBC Newsnight two nights ago, of ‘it [the Salmond case] having ‘cleaved through the nationalist movement in Scotland.’ This and hundreds of other mainstream media pronouncements are beginning to develop a narrative of schism and of weakening in the SNP and the wider independence movement.
Had this happened only ten or so years ago, that reality might have been born and survived scrutiny, to actually cause damage, but as social media swells cuckoo-like and begins to push the old media out of the nest, like a sad wee marsh warbler, it seems likely the bairn will not survive.
In a world before the growth of social media, with 2.3 billion active Facebook users, 335 million active Twitter users and perhaps 100 million writing blogs including explicitly political ones like this, old media [newspapers, TV, radio] could largely create the reality most establishment-members felt they were experiencing.
Young Christian Unionists in…..Israel?
The interlocking of media and establishment political elites made it possible for that reality to be one which suited their shared interests. Consider the above image to see how that might look in Scotland. Also, readers might remember Kirsty Wark, sharing holiday accommodation with Labour First Minister, McConnell, and her subsequent tribal aggression in interviewing Alex Salmond.
Remember, though, that this requires no conspiracy. It does not require Davidson, Thompson and Dugdale to be telling Clegg what to say and do. Being part of those interlocking elites along with other well-known members in Scotland’s unionist media and political parties, Clegg believes in what he does and says and, crucially generates the required material in a steady, often subconscious, flow. He, like they do, acts in his own interests but those interests are, for the most part, the same interests of his collective. If any of them were to be acting in a fully conscious and conspiratorial way that would be unsustainable and dangerous for their mental health because they would then be open to reasoned contradiction and evidence, leading to cognitive dissonance, changing sides, or breakdown. Only a few, like the late Ian Bell, survive that awakening.
General intelligence matters little in this as we saw when Emily Maitles warmly thanked Clegg for re-affirming what she already thinks is the case in Scotland. McWhirter disappointed her a little by not fully conforming but in the establishment-glare seemed to forget the kind of defence of Salmond’s rights he had been tweeting so bravely before. See:
McWhirter’s stout defence of Salmond fades in the BBC establishment glare
In some ways, there’s a kind of zombie-like predictability in the behaviour of the Unionist media and their political buddies but as in all zombie drama, despite their scary raving and slavering, they eventually lose.
Reporting Scotland staff seek interview with Alex Salmond
Things are different now. The old media are in full retreat with collapsing audiences as social media swarms with alternative constructions of reality being generated in a healthy process of open debate and evidence sharing.
You might argue that I and other independence-supporting commentators and activists are inevitably subject to the same socialisation process, making us zombies too. That can happen, but the more open, raw, anarchic and highly interactive nature of social media means that we are constantly challenged by dissonance and, I hope, retain our freedom to act and to think independently, at least at times, differently from the herd.
Never predict anything, they say, and I agree BUT I predict that the SNP, Sturgeon and Salmond, will survive this and perhaps even grow further in strength and solidarity. We’ll see, I suppose, in subsequent opinion polls and releases of party membership numbers. At worst, I think we’ll see little change as only a decreasingly small number remember these events for long and fewer still act upon them.
Footnote: The Social Construction of Reality and Manufacturing Consent remain seminal reading on this:
I won’t be testing you.