I’ve just spent two hours rifling through the outpourings of revulsion about modern Scotland expressed by ‘respected’ journalist Chris Deerin. What a way to start a Bank Holiday. It’s like looking for a £10 note in the rubbish bin and getting covered in squidgy, smelly goo.
From the Mail to the Telegraph, from the Spectator to the Guardian, with stops in between at right-wing websites and marketing magazines, his bile appears, pulsating with insult, denigrating our politics, sneering at our political leaders and crawling on hands and knees to ‘beautiful’ Britain.
It would take the National Library to archive this compendium of malevolence and spite and no doubt they would file it under Bigotry – anti-Scottish. I don’t advise you to follow my example as it’s enough to give you the dry boak. It’s difficult to know if this is a contrived persona designed to provoke or an intellectually genuine worldview – that half your own people (at least) are variously a bit thick, gullible, violent and narrow-minded. Since I don’t regard the Daily Mail as a newspaper and don’t read it, I only come across Deerin through Twitter which led to today’s garbage trawl…and when you read it in a single sitting you get the impression of a clever man with writing skills who just can’t stop his loathing from creeping through. He derives pleasure from belittling, in a kind of cruel torment for those who don’t share his Moonie-esque adoration of Britain – a country for whose documented failings he has profound myopia. This is Katie Hopkins does Scotland. We are his cockroaches.
His loathing of all things Yes (and therefore popular) is persistent, as if today’s Scotland was a script that had gone wrong and he was incapable of stopping it. When it’s the world that’s wrong, not you, the usual diagnosis is madness. Indeed he seems to be infected with the Thatcher elixir that neo cons still find so exhilerating. The Iron Lady is one of his reference points, as it is for Michael Forsyth, accompanied by a disbelief that anyone could think this wasn’t normal.
He can’t help himself. When the hashtag I’m SNPbecause went up his tweet said: I’m #SNPbecause I’m disappointed with the way my life has turned out, I’m angry and I blame everyone else, especially the English. Innocuous? Witty? Maybe, except when you take in the rest of his body of work you realise the idea that this is cheeky chappie having a chuckle evaporates in the miasma of bitterness.
If bigotry is intolerance of another view, we have here a new trophy to mount alongside Tom Gallagher, Bruce Anderson and Max Hastings. But sneering at Scots, even by Scots, has a long and ignoble history. If it isn’t us, it’s the Irish.
So why am I bothering with another deranged Thatcherite? After all to Clever Chris I’m one of these… ‘The Nats are aided by useful idiots in the Scottish media and cultural elite. From comfortable middle-class pads in the less affordable parts of Glasgow and Edinburgh, these socialist tub-thumpers promise that a left-wing tartan utopia is within grasp, and that a ‘yes’ vote can save the grimy-faced, honest-as-the-day-is-long Scots toiler from exploitation by effete Tory thieves in London. They advance the idea of Scots as being nicer, fairer, more attached to the brotherhood of man. What little divergence there is comes down to a mix of rather obvious things — the cultural hangover of anti-Thatcherism, which keeps the Tories at a low ebb north of the border; a political culture that, since devolution, has become inward-looking and self-obsessed to an unsettling degree; an elite that relentlessly claims Scots are more compassionate, more egalitarian, less racist and kinder to babies than the English. And for all its superficial modern sheen and tactical excellence, Scottish nationalism continues to be what it always has been: ugly, divisive and insular.’
Nice, eh? I love the idea that a polemicist working for the Telegraph and the Mail accuses anyone – anyone – of being divisive and insular. Maybe he’s not so clever after all…
No, the reason I’m putting myself through this is an invitation on Twitter from thoughtful and (unlike me) sensitive Nationalist Andrew Wilson to follow Deerin apparently so that I could be irked or provoked etc. by him and would add to his Twitter following. I, bluntly, said No Thanks. This to me is all part of the chattering class cartel, the cosy clique that says no matter how revolting, insensitive and divisive your writing, you’re still a nice middle class fellow and therefore one of us. This is the same groupthink that produces the Press Awards in which Deerin is hailed as a genius and the Record is Paper of the Year. Talk about living in a bubble.
The idea is that whatever you say about Scotland and the Scots, it’s all just a game of no consequence, especially when the guys get together at the bar for a self- congratulatory drink. Punters are suckers. Who cares so long as we all make a living?
The trouble with this is that these cynics have been rumbled, not just by cybernats, but by the those same ‘slightly dim’ Scots. How else could a sizeable chunk of Daily Record readers vote SNP if they didn’t read and reject the blatantly anti-SNP smears it prints? The public now laugh at the clever dick commentators who warn them of disaster and bankruptcy. The General Election was a wholesale rejection of the Too Wee, Too Stupid mantra of the Deerin tribe. Throughout the post war period the media has played a game of belittling Scotland to the point it became an obsession, a default setting telling us we were second class and not good enough. You still hear it today – We can’t be independent, we’re not good enough. Deerin’s rants are triumphant expressions of exactly that mentality telling us we can’t do it, that we’re not worthy. The big change, one he’s clearly missed, is that we’ve broken out of the trap. It isn’t just an SNP surge we’re experiencing – that’s just the chosen vehicle. It’s a release, a freedom from restraint, a re-discovery of self. We didn’t wait to be led by a party – like the goons he paints – we went out and did it ourselves, on doorsteps and keyboards. We found solidarity of spirit and ambition. We researched and challenged. We saw through the crippling cringe of Deerin and his like and left him behind in a previous Scotland in which Yes voters like Tom Devine or Crawford Beveridge or Philppa Whitford are somehow cranks, mindless dupes or thugs.
The bit that fascinates me though is how this carefully-crafted virulent anti-Yes image squares with Chris Deerin’s day job – as a member of Charlotte Street Partners, a company that ‘helps businesses, organisations and individuals create and deliver strategies for communicating with their customers, staff, media, investors and financial markets, employees, politicians and regulators.’ He creates communication strategies?
‘Hi. I’m Chris. I’ll be handling your account. You want to invest in Scotland? Oh dear. You do know the Scots are a bit dim, don’t you? They like to boast about education but it’s been left to rot. There’s no ready-made workforce anymore. Haven’t got the brains. It’s why they open the door to immigrants. The health service here is flabby. Scots are soft and sappy people, narrow minded and can’t think independently for themselves. Don’t look for innovators here. That’s all gone. And don’t look for support from the government. They’re dangerous nutters encouraging conspiracy and orchestrating smears, like a one-party state. These are ugly divisive people incapable of seeing when they’re well off and with hair-raising socialist tendencies. May I suggest you try Ireland? Anything else I can help you with?’
No wonder Andrew is trying to rehabilitate him. I don’t care about the politics of the people I work with because I don’t need to know. But if I run a company and he wants my business am I not entitled to wonder if it’s a good idea to be associated with someone who fills the media with tirades so hate-filled, so extreme and so out of public favour? I might even agree with Deerin’s views but is that the image I want my customers to see? Do I really want them to know I think they’re thick and bit backward? I truly wish success to Charlotte Street Partners but I’d be amazed if potential customers don’t share my revulsion. Is insulting the nation now a communications strategy?
My last word goes to this true and sane judgement on the Unionist nutters from writer Ian Smith. ‘And finally, this guff is self-defeating. The more that commentators in the Sun, Express, Telegraph, Mail and so on fulminate about all things Scottish and chuck insults around about Jockistan and Alba-bania, the more likely Scottish people are to say in response: F**k them. And then go off and vote for the SNP.’ Now that’s what I call a communications strategy.