When I started this website I spent a while pondering what to call it, and then I was inspired by a piece I read in The Guardian, in its Comment section, which as everyone knows is called Comment Is Free.
It was a defence of the banking sector. “All well and good,” I thought, “but when was the last time this section ran an article by a struggling single parent?”
We all know Comment Isn’t Free. It’s never been free in the UK. We don’t have a British version of the First Amendment. It doesn’t exist here. What we have is a media that both towers over and lies under the political establishment.
This is why I find Steve Bell’s loathsome, abhorrent, racist cartoon in today’s paper oddly humorous, but not for the reason he thinks or the reason many UKIP members or Labour activists needed a fresh change of underwear this morning.
I make no bones about publishing the cartoon here. I also know that it’s a violation of copyright. I don’t expect this site will be the only one that figures doing so will be better than giving The Guardian any more hits.
I dare them to sue, it’s as simple as that, because that will unshackle me from reporting this cartoon to the authorities as an example of hate speech, which I am loathe to do as I support free expression.
This though … this takes the piss. This doesn’t belong in a national newspaper.
It belongs in a bygone era, in a bygone publication. Like Der Sturmer.
Bell might think at times that he’s channelling the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo …. Actually he’s tapping into the psyche of Julius Streicher.
Of course, what makes it amusing is that aside from showing us how Bell has slipped over the years from being one of the sharpest and most astute political commentators out there (his cartoon on the morning after George W Bush was re-elected President, of Bush the Monkey replacing Lincoln on the Lincoln Memorial, was one of the most subtle, yet brilliant, statements on that result I saw anywhere, and it was my desktop background for months) to becoming a bitter little man who’s drawings and humour have become more crude and less funny, it also taps into the strange myopia which is now rampant amongst the London metropolitan elite.
See, our crime up here is not being that which they accuse of us.
If you read their editorials and you follow their logic, Scotland is a welfare dependent country of layabouts subsidised by the taxpayers of the south and the capital in particular, and content to be that forever.
Yet apparently, the very suggestion that we should break free from the Whitehall tit and stand on our own two feet, that we should seek to move out from under their roof, to break the dependency forever, it offends them on some level.
Because we’re not being true to type. Because we want out. Because we aren’t dependent on anyone.
During the referendum, we were treated to a quite appalling level of abuse for seeking to “break up the union” and go our own way. That union, we were told, is good for the whole of this island. That union is equal.
Of course, the union is no such thing as well we know, and that was revealed, sharply, when London’s parties told us we could not keep the £ if we voted Yes. Now, in the run up to this election, where it looks increasingly like the SNP could hold the balance of power, we’re being reminded that it’s not an equal political union either … and never was. The level of abuse now is even worse, and more hysterical than I’ve ever seen it.
The notion that voters in Scotland should hold the balance of power is simply unfathomable to these people, despite the extremely moderate politics of the SNP and the very high calibre of its political representatives. It has a manifesto which is leftist on some issues, centrist on others and, if you believe Jim Murphy (stop laughing!) actually Tory Party right on a few more … like business taxes, as if it made good sense to give Scottish companies an incentive for moving a hundred miles south, taking revenue and jobs with them.
It’s revealing that many Tories would rather climb into bed with the clown-suit brigade at UKIP, with their seedy candidates, far right lunatic fringe and a manifesto which is about as realistic as a Transformers movie and as set in stone as a plate full of jelly.
It’s equally revealing that a number of voices within Labour are willing to go even further to the fringes and embrace the unionist parties of the Six Counties …. because “you can’t have a minority ruling the majority for its own ends.”
It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so disgusting.
The sad truth is that for those who make up the metropolitan London elite, they like Scotland just where it is.
As a producer of oil, and cheap labour. As a political dumping ground and punching bag. As a second-rate, second-class “partner” in a system that is designed to serve England and English interests and more lately London and its wants, needs and whims.
So yes, I do find the cartoon vaguely amusing … but as I said before, it’s not because Bell is still funny or sharp, or even relevant – if Wings hadn’t published this, I honestly would have gone to the grave without ever having seen it; I thank Stuart for that nonetheless, because it ought to be seen – but because in using the word “incest” Bell forces us to think on not only how we’re viewed by these people but at the way in which it’s their own system and their own little circle of mutual back scratching and self-congratulation that is really incestuous and part of what is destroying communities north and south of the border.
The media and our political establishment are joined at the hip and that’s why Leveson was such a damp squib and why in its aftermath nothing concrete has been done. Neither is a law unto itself; both are horribly dependent on the other, and as a result there’s almost no level of collusion they will not allow. Even when some of the papers catch our parliamentarians in the act – with their pants down, both figuratively and literally – they actually make excuses for them and work with them on limiting the damage.
See the soft soap recently lathered onto Straw and Riffkind for examples.
This is how the real scandals go unpunished; how child abuse allegations get buried for years, protecting offenders past and some who still sit in Parliament today; how wars are begun based on the most flimsy, shoddy basis; how the banks can bring the country to its knees but even our “liberal” media finds a way to blame it on disability claimants and single mothers.
For all these publications pretend to be on our side, you only need to look at where their registered offices are and you’ll know what you’re dealing with.
They are the Guardians of the Establishment.
Try to see that cartoon in this light.
This Bell-end was simply doing his bit, and scratching an itch for his own brothers and sisters.
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