The McColm Principle
The Scottish media are struggling. The Scotsman illustrated their article about RISE with a photo of Tommy Sheridan (who has nothing to do with it). On Monday evening Sarah Smith had sneered through a piece about the RISE launch saying to guest Lynsey Bews (Press Association): “Is there room for the far-left in Scotland, they won’t be alone there with the Scottish Socialist Party and the Left Project!” (at about 25:50)
The only problem being that these two parties (one of which isn’t a party) are two of the groups coming together to form RISE, so the question didn’t actually make any sense whatsoever.
Paul and Lynsey smugly agreed with knowing grins. As does Euan McColm in the Scotsman.
The pallbearer for establishment Scotland writes: “The Left has, recently, found itself a larger echo chamber. The remarkable lead of Jeremy Corbyn in the UK Labour leadership campaign has convinced believers that their politics is soon to become dominant.” Getting into his self-confident stride McColm continues: “The Radical Independence Campaign last year managed to convince itself that a majority of Scots were crying out for a dramatic shift to the left; they bought the SNP rhetoric that those of us who live north of the Border hold different values, and cherish different ambitions to those in England. They were wrong, of course. The far-left invariably is.”
I don’t remember anyone in RIC saying any such thing, but I do remember them organising events on a scale that such louche conservative stenographers could only dream about. But the subtext is clear: Scotland doesn’t really exist in any real sense, and the left is dead for ever.
McColm is like something from The Land that Time Forgot. He talks about people being in bubbles, but in his world British, European and American politics hasn’t changed a jot, in years. He probably thinks Labour are still in power and Iain Gray, Tony Blair and Jim Murphy are all titans held in huge public esteem. The indrefy was nothing at all and Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders don’t exist. Scotland hasn’t changed and at midnight the National Anthem comes on.
Not so elsewhere.
Over at the New Statesman reality bites: “Rumours of the death of the political left have been exaggerated. Corbyn, like Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain and the Scottish National Party, is an immune response from a sick and suffering body politic trying to fight off a chronic infection that threatens to swallow hope for ever. There is a crisis in representative democracy in the west and it was established well before the stock-market collapse of 2008” argues columnist Laurie Penny.
Penny, stifling the giggles, and seemingly unaware of McColm’s time-capsule in which Nothing has Changed and Nothing Will Ever Change Because Nothing Needs to Change (UK:OK), continues: “The big problem with Corbyn is that he throws the collapsed vacuum of mainstream Labour rhetoric into sharp relief. None of the other three leadership candidates has a single memorable political idea beyond the idea of themselves as leader. The anointed heirs of New Labour appear to believe in nothing apart from their right to rule – and they seem agnostic about even that, given the invertebrates they have put up against the Corbyn threat. The “electability” conversation is where it all becomes clear. The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable is being made by three candidates who can’t even win an election against Jeremy Corbyn.”
None of which, presumably, would wash with Smith, Hutcheon and McColm chuckling away on state telly in Jockland where nothing happens.
The McColm Principle? Last week McColm wrote of the Scottish Government’s GM ban: “Let’s just, for a moment, say that the research is fair and reasonable and that GM crops do not present a danger to us. Wouldn’t it, in that case, make sense for Scotland to continue to produce them?” Not so much an argument as a mind-exercise. We can all play parlour games. “Let’s just, for a moment, say that Euan McColm is a credible journalist”. Yesterday Germany announced its support for a GM-free food system. . We expect France to follow suit in the next few days – and with it much – if not most of Europe.
The McColm Principle is simple, if he argues for it , it’s probably nonsense.
The dead certainty of Scotland’s media class is a spectacle in itself.