Shona Craven seems to think the opponents of Scottish democracy have dropped a clanger with their billboard campaign. She appears to reckon it’s a mistake. It’s not a mistake. The “Vaccination not Separation” billboard is not a gaffe by the British Nationalists of Scotland Matters. It’s not that they’ve got it wrong about the facts relating to the Covid vaccination programme in Scotland. The fact is that they just don’t care about the facts. Truth is not a consideration. These fanatics don’t feel embarrassment when caught in a lie. They might wonder what all the fuss is about. But mostly they’ll just be glad they provoked a fuss.
If the purpose of the Scotland Matters billboard was to convey information then we would have ample justification for saying it had failed. But conveying information is no part of its purpose. The billboard is part of a massive propaganda exercise aimed at perverting the truth. Any truth. All truth. The purpose of this billboard is twofold. In part it serves to feed the prejudices of Unionists in Scotland who might be wavering in their devotion to the British ruling elites having been provided by the Johnson regime with such numerous and egregious demonstrations of what the Union means for Scotland. The billboard, as with the entire anti-Scottish propaganda effort, is aimed as much at British Nationalism’s core support in Scotland. Not all of whom are by any means hard-line BritNats. Many have simply never questioned the superiority of the British state, that message having been drummed into them all their lives.
Scotland Matters is deploying a tried and tested propaganda technique. Mixed messages. Simultaneously send two quite contradictory messages and the one that the recipient finds most amenable lends some of its appeal to the negative message, making it more difficult to reject or less likely to be challenged. On the one hand say Scotland is great (Scotland Matters) while simultaneously portraying Scotland as an atrocious hell-hole where everything is failure, crisis and chaos. Both things cannot be true. But if you’re inclined to accept one part then you’ll be less inclined to immediately reject the other.
British Nationalist ideology, like the Union itself, relies on maintaining a sense of Scotland as inferior. It is as important to remind the faithful of this as it is to implant that thought in the minds of the population as a whole. One billboard won’t do it, of course. But the messaging has to be relentless and ubiquitous. The people of Scotland must be incessantly assailed by words and images which undermine their confidence in their country, it’s democratic institutions and themselves. To live in Scotland is to swim in a sea of media messages telling you that you are not a fit and proper person. You are not a full citizen. You do not have the same rights as others in the British state. That your opinions don’t matter. That your votes don’t count. That you are being failed by your own politicians and are dependent on the beneficence of the British state. That yours is not a real country and therefore not entitled to be as other countries. That Scotland is inferior. That you are inferior.
And if this manipulation involves telling flat-out lies, it is of no consequence. If it means denial of reality then that’s all for the good because each denial devalues that reality in the eyes and minds of those reached by the propaganda. And that’s all of us. All of the time.
That billboard is not a mistake. It very deliberately disregards the truth. It treats truth and facts as unimportant. Even as impediments to enlightenment. All of the British media is lying to us all of the time. Getting caught in a lie simply doesn’t matter to them. They just proceed to the next lie. And maybe return to the other one when they think – probably with justification – that most people will have forgotten the lie having been exposed. They will lie in all manner of ways. Lies of omission being a good example. Stories that contradict the message of Scotland’s inferiority get lost in the shuffle of news values which take no account of niceties such as veracity or significance to the lives of Scotland’s people.
Our ignorance is their strength.