Having taken the plunge and decided to openly interfere in Scotland’s independence referendum, Rupert Murdoch has been drawing his battle lines. And his obedient servants have been tailoring their message to favour the ageing Mafia Don, or at least genuflect grovellingly in his general direction.
“Scottish poll reflects world-wide disillusion with political leaders and old establishments leaving openings for libertarians and far left” observed Don Rupione, while leaving unsaid that these are his favourite kinds of people. Libertarians are minded to reduce regulation and allow him the freedom to trample any competition into the dirt, while the far left provide ideal pantomime villains for him to kick.
And Rupe’s villain of the Scottish piece is an old favourite of his: “Salmond’s private polls predict 54-46 Yes. Desperate last ten days ahead for both sides. Most powerful media, BBC, totally biased for No”. There was, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, only one thing wrong with this assertion – it was bollocks. But it demonstrates the mentality at work behind the scenes.
There was some scepticism at Murdoch’s poll rating assertion: Mike Smithson at Political Betting mused “if there are such polls let Salmond publish them. In the absence of that then this looks like spin”. Quite. And Andrew Neil, who knows Rupe from way back, told “Sources tell me Murdoch called Salmond on Saturday re ‘good news’ about Sunday Times poll. Interesting”.
But among the faithful, there was only praise: Tim Montgomerie, who owes his currently comfortable status mostly to Rupe’s patronage, observed “Mr Rupert Murdoch very on SNP’s message”. Yes, it’s “Mister” Murdoch to you, Monty. The Sun’s Kevin Schofield was more jocular but still on-message: “Heading home to Scotland to cover some vote thing. Have been advised to bring this [passport]”.
Also at the Sun, Steve Hawkes was toeing the line: “Better Together quote EU source saying it will take at least six years for Scotland to rejoin EU – again, negative. New Approach needed”. And the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines, sporting the “Yes” logo, smirked “Papers full of ridiculous disinformation and propaganda over Scottish independence. The Westminster establishment is panicking”.
Yes, that’s the approved line all right. None of the grovelling toadies goes where Andrew Neil was hinting – that Alec Salmond (who is not stupid, and will know this) is doing a deal with the devil. Scotland’s First Minister, after all, was the one who offered Murdoch support for his move to take over all of BSkyB. Salmond’s quid pro quo was the support of the Sun. He might just be getting that right now.
That is the sordid aspect the Murdoch faithful ignore. Salmond will join the others in depending on Don Rupioni. Meet the new politics – same as the old politics.