“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves,
or lose our ventures”
It is not known whether Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is familiar with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, but she has undoubtedly followed the exhortation of Brutus, and seized the moment. The opportunity for Scottish independence may not return in her lifetime. It is a realisation that is proving difficult for the London-centric media.
For while the more upmarket papers have realised the significance of Ms Sturgeon’s bold move, and warned their readers of the gravity of the situation now facing the United Kingdom, others cannot extricate themselves from their comfort blankets of delusion.
The Guardian echoes that realisation as it tells readers “May’s Brexit plan upstaged as Sturgeon seizes her moment”, and even the Murdoch Times admits “Sturgeon ambushes May”. But at the Northcliffe House bunker, nothing can be allowed to permeate the hermetically sealed bubble of delusion inhabited by the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre and his sycophantic courtiers.
“HANDS OFF OUR BREXIT, NICOLA” thunders the Mail this morning in a defiant and magnificently delusional outburst: the whole point of Ms Sturgeon’s move is that she wants nothing to do with “Our Brexit”. Dacre, it seems, has decided to channel not Shakespeare, but Louis XIV: “Le Grande-Bretagne, c’est Moi”.
Where the warnings put before the British people last year before the EU referendum were categorised as “Project Fear”, and the thought of life outside that Union bathed in the optimistic glow of opportunity and freedom, the idea of Scotland outside the Union of the UK is denounced as pundits queue up to heap abuse on Ms Sturgeon.
What's so f***ing wrong with kicking Scots, c***?!?
It is no coincidence that the opinion Dacre calls on to pass judgment on the First Minister’s move is that of sour has-been floor-crosser Leo McKinstry, more usually found baying at the moon in the pages of the Express. “The rhetoric of Scottish nationalism is one of the most dreary, repetitive and grindingly predictable sounds in British politics … It is like the broken record of a dull Caledonian folk song, permanently stuck in its groove as it plays the same old dirge, laden with victimhood and hostility to England” he pontificates.
Ms Sturgeon was “Oozing her usual mix of petulant grievance and separatist menace … In her desperation to break with England, she mirrors the stance of the EU oligarchy she worships”. Hers was “shrill propaganda”. Her “entire stance is riddled with hypocrisies and contradictions”. It is “SNP Orwellian double-think”.
Nicola Sturgeon ... seizing the moment
Readers are treated to the old fall-back “Without England, Scotland would be bankrupt … largesse from English taxpayers … enables Scotland to continue its reckless quasi-socialist experiment in profligacy”. And then comes the usual closing insult.
“Perhaps the greatest mistake Sturgeon makes is to overestimate how much the English care what she thinks. She is delusional if she believes her threat of another referendum will give the London Government pause over Brexit”. That must explain the amount of coverage given in papers like the Mail, and the clear discomfort registered yesterday by our not at all unelected Prime Minister, as she refuted referendum suggestions.
McKinstry is not the only one heaping abuse on the Scots, as can be seen by a suitably thundering Daily Mail Comment, which talks pompously of “a dangerous new threat to our sacred Union” and then has a research failure with “Barely two years after the Scottish people firmly rejected independence”. It is two and a half years to the day.
The reasoning of the editorial is little better: “an independent Scotland would be forced to reapply for EU membership and face being vetoed by Spain, which fears fuelling Catalan nationalism”. An independent Scotland would not be a nationalist movement, but a sovereign country. And the Spanish are not for vetoing it.
But this is at least not venturing too far into the realm of personal abuse. This cannot be said for Mail Online, which has commissioned the view of … Katie Hopkins. She does, after all, have bills to pay, so writing more columns is understandable, if not desirable.
Theresa May ... on the back foot, again
Ms Hopkins has no problems with going immediately for the personal smear, and not just of Ms Sturgeon: “In a bold move commensurate with someone far taller, the Ginger Dwarf from the North has declared there will be a second once-in-a-lifetime referendum … By then , according to the prophesying powers of our wise son-of-a-bus-driver mayor, Sadiq Khan from Londonistan, we will surely all be languishing in a bloodied, repentant mess on the rocks, having leapt in our ignorance over the edge of the cliff of doom”.
That somehow encapsulates the delusion of London-centric media: their worldview is the only one that matters, and The Other, whether it talks foreign, adheres to a different deity, or looks to a different capital city, is to be dismissed, and if necessary, roundly abused.
Scotland’s economy might look very different if the “Aircraft carrier of the EU” status so long leveraged by successive British Governments to persuade businesses in all sectors to set up in south of the border were to move to the north of it. An independent Scotland would give investors the access to the Single Market that the rest of the UK would, by that time, either be losing, or had already lost.
Nicola Sturgeon is not, contrary to the dictates of the Mail and its variously clueless pundits, stupid. She has not merely seized the moment for the hell of it. Once again, it is the worry for those in the Westminster bubble that she may have made the best decision, and that Theresa May and her Three Happy Brexiteers may have made the worst.
The real delusion is that of our free and fearless press - and not for the first time.