Living in a Dictatorship
19th October 2016
We’ve become so used to a sort of Jockalypse Now racism in the English press, the like of which would create a cascade of condemnation if anything remotely similar was published in a Scottish newspaper, that you now don’t expect anything other from the red tops. But yesterday a ‘proper serious’ journalist, Nick Cohen, took political commentary to a new low. Cohen’s a renowned Iraq War apologist, but now he’s taking his ill-informed ramblings into new terrain, and the outcome is darkly comic.
Writing in the Spectator, a sort of fanzine for right-wing stenographers, Cohen announced that ‘Press Censorship as begun in Scotland’. It was the laziest piece of journalism we’ve seen in a while with all the familiar tropes of the one party state and dictator bingo, strewn with errors inaccuracies and bizarre claims.
Revisiting the Daisley discussion, Cohen announces that here in Scotland: “Everyone behaves as if they are living in a one-party state.”
BBC and the NUJ and STV are we’re told living in fear of the jackboot: “Not a dictatorship with men in uniforms marching down the street. But a democratic one-party state like Scotland has become and England and Wales will soon be: a state where it is simply impossible to imagine the ruling party losing power.”
“Not a dictatorship with men in uniforms marching down the street. But a democratic one-party state like Scotland has become and England and Wales will soon be: a state where it is simply impossible to imagine the ruling party losing power.”
There’s a clue to Cohen’s fury in this last sentence. As an unreconstructed Blairite he is incandescent that Labour has elected a leader he doesn’t agree with and is imagining perpetual Tory rule as a result.
In this miserable state we live in: “Opposition seems futile”.
In Cohen’s universe (one wonders if he has actually been to Scotland) Daisley “damned the SNP for its alliances with Islamists and anti-Semites”.
In Cohen’s world Stuart Cosgrove is a ‘Channel 4 hack’ and “Uniquely in the free world, Scottish artists and comics think they become true edgy radicals when they fawn before the state”.
This article represents a shift. Where the anti-Scottish imagery published in the tabloids has become routine this is a new outlet, a new anger, a new venting of rage against a democratically elected government. It’s not even worth mentioning that the state of the media in Scotland is massively ranged against independence, with only one small daily newspaper and a handful of alternative media outlets in favour.
You don’t live in a dictatorship, you live in a country where the democratic deficit has just got considerably more pronounced.
The case of Nick Cohen may seem a small affair, but it’s a signpost to our future.