What a killjoy Ian Blackford is! The British media went to all the trouble of concocting a controversy around his ‘coronation’ as SNP Depute Leader, and he goes and spoils it all by announcing that he won’t be attending the ceremony. Almost from the moment Angus Robertson resigned, the story was of a party in turmoil with anonymous ‘sources’ telling tales of intrigue at the top and revolt everywhere else. Plots were supposedly afoot to usher Blackford into the post without the tedious formality of a democratic process as set out in the party’s rules.
Quite how this was to be contrived was, like the identity of those allegedly ‘voicing concerns’, never revealed. It always seemed odd to me that these ‘sources’ could be both close enough to the inner circles of the SNP to be regarded as reliable informants yet be totally unaware of the party’s constitution and the rules governing the nomination and election of the Depute Leader. But, of course, the story didn’t have to be credible. It only had to be titillating. What does it matter if a story is questionable when nobody is going to question it?
The spin now will be that the devious schemes of the party leadership have been thwarted. The glare of the media spotlight has forced them to back off. Blackford has been ordered to abdicate before he even got to wear the crown. It won’t matter that there was never any substance to the story of his ‘coronation’ in the first place. A new truth has been manufactured. It is now part of the cosy consensus informing the media narrative. George Orwell imagined an army of Winston Smiths beavering away in the Ministry of Truth physically rewriting old newspaper articles so that they didn’t contradict whatever was decreed to be the new Truth. The intrusive ubiquity of broadcast mass media and the infinite palimpsest of rolling news have made Winston and his colleagues redundant. why bother rewriting the past on paper when it can be revised in the public consciousness.
If the practical impossibility of a proposition is inconvenient to the desired narrative, then simply ignore it. The public only know what they are told. If nobody tells them this ‘coronation’ of Ian Blackford couldn’t actually happen, there’s no problem. In their minds, it is true. Manipulation by the media is not only a matter of what is reported and the way a story is framed. Things that aren’t reported and questions that aren’t asked also play a part in the deception. Manufactured truth thrives best in an environment where all potential competing information has been filtered out.
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