Flood the Zone
My dad used to tell me “two different things can be true at the same time”. I would turn away nodding but in complete incomprehension. But it certainly seems true today and next week that two very different things can remain true at the same time:
Truth One: there have been some very real problems and some very real mistakes at the senior level of the civil service in Scotland and very serious mistakes and errors of judgement made at the top of the Scottish Government regarding their handling of complaints about Alex Salmond. These have not just cost the public a lot of money but also discredited the institutions of law and government. These problems need to be resolved, they can’t be ignored and they are very serious. They show a weakness in our transparency, accountability and democracy.
Truth Two: the wide-ranging mob of frenzied politicians journalists and bloggers out for blood against Nicola Sturgeon are motivated by (slightly) different things: depose an electoral threat they can’t compete with; attack a woman who threatens their worldview; or to bolster the bat-shit conspiracies they have been nurturing for months; but all must know their actions have severe mission-creep. What once started as a call for ‘heads to roll’ among a select few of errant civil servants has now snow-balled into a full-on attack on Scottish devolution and legal institutions. This is the consequence of the pact between hate-blogs – some of which can be described as little more than a lucrative malignancy – and the right wing of the Tory party.
As one person on Twitter put it: “Let’s face facts. This is just a hit job on Nicola Sturgeon. Underneath it all, what is she supposed to have done? At the worst, her accusers say her crime was that she knew about the complaints against Salmond a few days earlier than she originally said so. So what? Is that it?” – and as the playwright Peter Arnott added: “The substance of the leak is even MORE trivial than that. It’s to do with how the same fraught meeting on April 2nd was remembered differently by the ONLY two people in the room.”
The forces of the British state, the tabloid moguls and the Scottish Tories are reveling in this alongside their new allies from the Yes movement.
Some of it is reminiscent of the Trump administration’s strategy is, as Steve Bannon once said, to “flood the zone with shit“. That is, to spread so much wild misinformation that people cam no longer keep up.
Some of it is reminiscent of the relentless attacks made against Jeremy Corbyn.
As we drown in all of this it’s worth noting too that alot of this is laced with thinly disguised misogyny. This isn’t a Get Out of Jail card for anyone about accountability, but it is worth noticing as David Davis becomes your champion and the Storm that’s Coming turned out to be a bunch of shameless old men unable to take responsibility for their own actions.