The pride of Scotland must be how the BBC’s English propaganda machine didn’t overcome them with Britishness but was met with total indifference by the infamous Scots rightly deserved self belief, that they are their own people.
But there is a shame of Scotland which is not that, some wish to remain subservient to a foreign monarch and oppressor as we all have to accept that the Stockholm syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them, but the shame must be on those who proclaim to be Scottish but sing the ENGLISH national anthem.
Do those poor victims of English propaganda not know basically the song is about the English going to Scotland and, well…. killing them.
Broadcasting a summer bonanza of Britishness may reinforce rather than break down cultural difference in Scotland
The jubilee feels very different depending where you are in Britain. Ian Bell, Scotland’s most articulate republican, wrote last week: “The monarch we are supposed to celebrate this odd weekend has no claim to the throne of Scotland. She is not, and has never been, my queen.”
Many feel the same. There’s a problem with the story we are being told about Britain. The jubilee is meant more as a unifier than a pacifier, and the national broadcaster is entrusted with gushing appropriately, often when nothing is happening but a bout of rain-washed punting. But the project of British propagandising looks like falling apart under examination.
Who was celebrating? Officially, there were 9,500 street parties in England and Wales. But there were just 60 street parties in Scotland, and 20 of these were organised by the Orange Order, with funding from the Labour-controlled Glasgow city council. Given that these are people not wholly unfamiliar with the union flag, this leaves you with 40 in Scotland. This presents a real problem for the narrative of national unity. Setting aside the question of using public funds for such events, or the good judgement of the Labour party in supporting such a group, it does look as if mass disinterest has swept Scotland.
The problem for the BBC is there’s less and less of a unifying British culture to broadcast. In place of mass deference they are increasingly asked to make it up, and it comes across as a Ceausescu-like state broadcasting. Reevel Alderson’s radio report from Balmoral on Monday morning, replete with Corgi-nostalgia-stories was an execrable voice of make-believe. Here we were sent back to the 1950s, complete with a brain-wipe of any intervening embarrassments. In this world the Queen loves Scotland and Scotland loves the Queen. In this world Princess Margaret was still a glamour icon and Prince Philip, a young naval cadet. The whole raft of marital disasters and infidelities was quietly swept aside for Charles’s home-movies.
In this world there’s no need for a news programme to reflect – or reflect on – what’s happening in the actual world, in contemporary Scotland. The monarchy is simply something we unquestioningly love, is completely apolitical and is as much a fact of life as the air we breathe. In BBC world they simply are, and to suggest otherwise is to be petty and churlish.
But this story of Britain and Britishness is unravelling and will continue to do so over the summer, when the Olympics, Wimbledon and Euro 2012 present further problems for Broadcasting Britain. Three-quarters of tickets for Team GB’s “Olympic football” at Hampden remain unsold. At £20 a head it seems an unlikely sell-out at the national stadium. As one elderly caller from Glasgow put it on a radio phone-in this week: “Twenty quid to watch some American women play fitba? You’re having me on!”
What’s difficult to locate is exactly why this all feels so dreadful and embarrassing. The whole torch tour has such a surreal feel about it, you half imagine it’s a Brass Eye special.
Part of this isn’t about republicanism or nationalism but geography and economics. Olympic tickets are difficult to get hold of whether you are in Tyneside or Deeside. It’s an expensive trip to London to watch a barge at a distance in fine London drizzle. The problem is that of remoteness. It’s standing by the side of the river. Maybe it’s this feeling of passivity that’s at odds with Scots involved in major constitutional debate. Patrick Harvie, a Green MSP said last week: “Sticking to the hereditary principle in the 21st century is bound to seem bizarre to many Scots.”
As the blog Lenin’s Tomb put it: “The monarchy still functions as the guarantor of a caste within the ruling class, which any good bourgeois wants admittance to – give an old chief executive an OBE, and he will consider himself to have truly lived. Its systems of ranking still structure hierarchies within the state, notably the police, the navy, the air force, and the army. It is still the major patron of ‘Britishness’, the myth of a temporally continuous and organically whole national culture.”
But it’s important to realise how much that “whole national culture” is dependent on the myths of Balmoral, the Castle of Mey, the “Prince of Wales” and all of the associated trappings to present the Queen of England as an icon of Britishness. Without a UK, there won’t be anarchy, but democracy, and many feel there’s no place for a monarch in a new Scottish democracy.
In this, its core task of fostering a sense of nationhood, the jubilee is failing and the BBC struggling.
A YouGov poll in May suggested 44% of Scots interviewed associated the union flag with “racism and extremism”. So the cumulative impact of unannounced broadcasting of a summer bonanza of Britishness may be to reinforce rather than break down cultural difference.
This crisis of the core concept for the BBC is reaching a head. This Thursday the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme Question Time is from Inverness. No representative from the SNP will be on the panel, but Melanie Philips will be lecturing us from her podium at the Daily Mail that us Scots suffer from “unlimited public subsidy (which) invariably produces a dependency culture of irresponsibility and infantilism – the assumption of entitlement without obligation …”. To many it will sound like a perfect description of the House of Windsor.
What is behind this dismal celebration?
Glen Newy at the London Review of Books suggests it’s a reaction against political failure: “As politicians sink ever deeper in public esteem, so the queen rises. Over the weekend the country’s usually scabrous public sphere will turn, as it did when Diana croaked, as deferential as Zimbabwe’s.”
But turning to the epitome of anti-democracy as a response to the failure or a failed political elite isn’t worthy of celebration. And broadcasting it with unbridled fealty is becoming untenable.