This blog is supposed to be mostly about travel, but the weather hasn’t been very good recently so we haven’t been going places. In the meantime, here’s some more politics.
For the next three paragraphs, I hope that you can concentrate hard on the actual words as they appear.
Sadiq Khan said, “There’s no difference between those who try to divide us on the basis of whether we’re English or Scottish and those who try to divide us on the basis of our background race or religion”
The Daily Record wrote, “The Mayor of London insists there is no real difference between voting for a separate Scotland and ‘trying to divide us on the basis of background, race or religion'”
The YES to an Independent Scotland Facebook group wrote, “Labour’s Sadiq Khan is in the news today declaring that there is “no difference” between our entirely peaceful and inclusive independence movement and those who espouse racism and bigotry.”
OK, now, whatever your political allegiances are, try to put them out of your mind for the moment, and go back and re-read those three paragraphs. Do you notice some very big differences between them?
Sadiq Khan said – well, please read what he actually said, for a third time, if you will. You can see that he did not say anything about ‘voting for a separate Scotland’, or anything comparing an independence movement with racism and bigotry. Instead, he spoke about people being divided by nationality, background, race and religion (but read what he actually said, yet again, as in the circumstances I don’t want to even possibly misrepresent him). I think that you can see that Khan was misreported. You don’t have to agree, or disagree, with Sadiq Khan to see that he was misreported.
Here’s what he said, both before and after the statement above
, in case you want to put it in context. You can even watch him delivering those exact words on YouTube, but because most of the subject lines on those videos repeat the misreporting of what he actually said, I will not link to them here.
The misreporting of what Sadiq Khan said, unsurprisingly, generated considerable divisive-like comments in many online forums and social media places, such as, “He’s a Labour and Unionist Party stooge and will repeat what he is programmed to do.” People were posting outraged comments in response, such as that “Scottish independence isn’t racist” [but…erm…remember, no-one, and certainly not Khan, suggested that it was. Someone, posted “I see we’re pretending Sadiq Khan said the SNP were racist now”]. I don’t want to make much of specific comments, which could have been written by anyone, under real or false names, and won’t repeat any more, but Khan was pilloried, criticised, essentially shouted down virtually (in online media), with much of the language used being foul-mouthed by anyone’s terms. The SNP weighed in as well, with the First Minister writing: “I’m a big admirer of @SadiqKhan but today’s intervention is spectacularly ill-judged… it is an insult to all those Scots who support independence for reasons of inclusion & social justice – the antithesis of what he says, and it is a sign of the sheer desperation and moral bankruptcy that has driven so many from Scottish Labour’s ranks. Very disappointing.”
Let’s just be clear on something. If Khan had said that Scottish independence was racist, or that voting for a separate Scotland was like dividing us on the basis of background, race or religion, then outrage would have been justified. But he didn’t say that.
In fact, you can see from videos on YouTube that after he said those things above, he went on to say “I’m NOT saying that nationalists are racist or bigoted”. The real story here is that a man who laments the creation of divisions in society, and then says “I’m NOT saying that nationalists are racist or bigoted” is then accused by Scottish nationalists of saying that they are racists and bigots, presumably because they want to create divisions in society. This story says much more about the Scottish nationalists than anything else.
The misreporting of what Sadiq Khan said was quite deliberate, in my opinion (but that is merely my opinion). The misreporting of someone who spoke out against division, in fact actually resulted in divisive-like comments, from nationalists, the SNP and others. How mind-boggling is that?
I think that the divisive reaction from the SNP and nationalists to Khan’s speech perfectly represents the very same divisiveness that he was warning about.
Does any of this (someone being misreported, resulting outrage, etc) matter much? Yes, it does, because I believe that it shows the divisive lynch-mob mentality of some people within the SNP and some nationalists, and I expect that we are in for more of this sort of thing in the near future.
It looks as if the SNP, in the near future, are going to call for another independence referendum, and will probably call for one to happen in 2018. See, for example: Alex Salmond sees autumn 2018 referendum.
Personally, I don’t actually believe that they really want a referendum in 2018, and that they would prefer (for various reasons) one in 2020 or so. I believe that what the SNP is hoping for is a showdown with Theresa May over who can decide on a referendum and when it should happen.
If, as seems likely, they call for a referendum in 2018 and Prime Minister Theresa May does not agree to a referendum in 2018, the SNP can then go about trying to build outrage and resentment over the matter, and they will no doubt be supported by the same kind of people who were outraged by what Sadiq Khan said – or rather what he didn’t say – as I have described above. The essentially fake, or at least undeserved outrage over Khan is merely a trial run.
The SNP know that Theresa May is highly unlikely to agree to a referendum on Scottish independence in 2018. May will likely point out that there is no evidence that the majority of people in Scotland want another Referendum so soon after the last one; that the SNP don’t even have a majority in their own Scottish parliament, cannot even get their own budget voted without help from others, and in fact lost seats in the last local elections; and that to have a Referendum in the middle of negotiations to leave the EU, which in any event will be complete before any possible constitutional change in Scotland resulting from a Referendum could possibly take place anyway, would be plain daft. May will also not want another Scottish referendum because then it would be very difficult to deny a second referendum on Brexit. Also, May is looking at a probable second term in office, and one of the few things that could disrupt this would be another Scottish referendum.
The SNP know all of this, and as I said, they almost certainly don’t even really want a referendum in 2018. But they will call for one so that they can create outrage and division when their call is thwarted. You can just imagine the sorts of headlines that will help to create outrage – “Will of the Scottish people denied by Westminster”, etc. I suspect that the Daily Record, etc, may also find creative ways to encourage outrage, because the reaction is likely to be even more pronounced when Theresa May is misreported. In the case of newspapers such as the Daily Record, this, after all, helps sales. Meanwhile, the SNP hope that the resulting (falsely, IMHO) created outrage and division will keep them in good stead with the voting public for when a further referendum may actually take place, in 2020 or thereafter.
In addition to anything else, I suggest that much of the above only goes to show how divisive the SNP can be.
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