Ipso Fact, Oh

Twin outlooks of British nationalism were given full exposure this week as flag hysteria broke out. Having noticed something dreadful, dire and calamitous (that they hadn’t noticed in a decade) the Daily Mail – surrounded by a wave of exultant Union Jack enthusiasts – wailed about the terrible nationalists depriving poor Queeny of her red white and blue rag as she visits us… because this is what is really important in the Britain of 2018. Then it turned out to be absolute bollocks. But, as the Red Baron himself explains:

“The reason the story about Nicola Sturgeon & the Union flag was believed is because it is so believable just as was the French Ambassador story.”

This is Truthiness*  gone mad but also a wholesale exposure of not just the weakness of the propaganda model in a porous information-rich society, but also the emptiness of the British nationalist case.

Writing in the Scotsman Tom Peterkin attempted to pin the whole thing on the First Minister writing:

“These are people who will see this flag row as another SNP attempt to undermine Britishness and will regard this whole thing with total dismay.”

The other aspect of Tory worldview given exposure this week was the statement from Michael Portillo on BBC This Week:

“The people you see on the streets now are wearing shoes.”

As one writer has put it:

“Homelessness – the well-predicted result of housing benefit and other benefit cuts – becomes politically dangerous when destitution floods onto the streets for all to see. Famously the last Tory government had their own MPs complaining about having to step over sleeping bags when they came out of the opera house in Covent Garden. Foreign film crews piled into Waterloo’s cardboard city as the perfect symbol of Thatcherism. Food banks and rough sleeping are now the public face of this Tory era, that will end as changing public attitudes show rising concern at so much deliberately induced destitution.”

These twin stories need to be told simultaneouly by those spinning a yarn.

The history of Britain, of empire and exploitation and colonialism needs to be cleansed and whitewashed and fabricated. At the same time the notion of progress and capitalism and Britain as a benign and liberal place needs to be propped up and explained in the face of stark reality.

Shoe Capitalism

Portillo’s defense of Shoe Capitalism is desperate and he is in difficult territory (rough sleeping in England has reached record levels – with figures published on Thursday showing an annual rise of 15%, representing a 169% increase since 2010.)

His views on technology and childhood obesity are bizarre.

Only a few weeks ago a homeless man froze to death outside a glitzy new designer shopping centre in Birmingham. The Sun called him a ‘drug user’.

Recent figures claim that there are up to 10,000 homeless people currently in Birmingham alone.

These two stories, how capitalism is bringing everybody up and how British imperial history is something to be immensely proud of interact. As the credibility of the former diminishes and becomes more difficult to sustain, the latter will be pushed more incessantly.

The newspapers who peddled this ridiculous story about flegs should of course retract, as IPSO is forcing them to, but so too should the many cheerleaders who ran in behind them desperate to perpetuate the myth of the Scottish Government as some kind of wildly radical republican bloc.

Is your local beggar wearing shoes this morning? Tell them to be grateful, and proud.

* Truthiness is the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions. The concept of truthiness has emerged as a major subject of discussion surrounding U.S. politics during the 1990s and 2000s because of the perception among some observers of a rise in propaganda and a growing hostility toward factual reporting and fact-based discussion.

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  1. Interpolar says:

    Since truth is increasingly regarded as a socially agreed construct in postmodernism with no recourse to objectivist fact, truthiness has essentially become a sufficient basis for establishing opinion and incontestable policy.

  2. Alistair Taylor says:

    Good article, Mike.
    Please keep up the great work.
    These newspapers in the UK are a darned disgrace.

  3. XenonTheMegablast says:

    Wasn’t the flag story sort of true? The SNP changed the flag policy in 2010 (basically less Union Jack, more Saltire) – but did so quietly and without updating Scottish civil servant guidelines. Then when the guidelines were recently updated, the change in policy became a bit more obvious.

    Obviously, its a non-story, because who cares about flags, but the policy change that the Daily Mail was complaining about has actually happened, it just happened a lot earlier than the newspaper claimed.

    1. Jack collatin says:

      I take it that you in your anonymity are one of the Lost Tribe, a discredited Yoon propagagndist.
      The Flag issue, and that Clown Kelly’s smirking nonsense in attempting to legalise the Two Tribes Hatred and Sectarianism, are just the Brit Fascist State’s latest attempt to emulate Hitler, Stalin, and Franco before them.
      Divide and rule.
      18 million mostly working class young men butchered each other during WWI fighting for their Kaisar or King. They died for nothing other than to gain more land for their nobles and elite.
      It was a sick joke then, which at the time would have had me shot for treason for writing this, but nowadays, since we have managed to secure an education, we can condemn for what it is; evil sectarian fascist control of the masses by the Elite Establishment. We are going back to the bad old days when we could officially hate other nations.
      Scotland is clearly now an occupied country, and the gathering storm is not far off.
      Ruth Davidson is reprised on Twitter dry humping a canon, with the Union Flag fluttering beside her.
      There is no subliminal message here.
      She advocates military dominance, and England’s control of Scotland, by force of numbers, and English armed Forces, and an Anglo centric Hierarchy that ensures that Lords, Princes, and Kings control us and our land..
      There is no such thing as democracy. We are an oppressed people.
      It is time to rise up and fight back.

      1. Jamsie says:

        If I was you I would go back to the doctor and ask for your medication to be changed.

    2. Alistair says:

      No, that’s not correct. The Saltire didn’t replace the Union Jack. As has been clearly stated now across every media platform I’ve seen, the Royal Standard Of Scotland, the Queens personal standard, replaced the previous flag. Therefore there was No national flag being flown.

      1. James Sinclair says:

        Ha ha ho hee ho !!! This troll ….”across EVERY MEDIA PLATFORM ” All unionist billionaire blogs. Sad little man.

      2. Jack collatin says:

        Alistair, in a week when Portillo asserts that there is no poverty in that fictional country he calls ‘Britain’ because everybody has shoes, and Andrew Marr reminds an increasingly befuddled Corbyn that capitalism works because 1.7 billion people have been lifted out of absolute poverty and now subsist on $2 a day, and Neil Findlay mocks the accent of his ‘working class’ power base, and James Kelly and Anas Sarwar plunge Glasgow back into the Dark Ages, we are all anguishing over flags.
        Really?

        1. michael says:

          Well, no not really, these other issues are also being discussed widely.

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