Thursday 23 February 2012

Hypocrisy and public image

No under-18s allowed!
What is perhaps most striking about the attitude of the anti-independence Tory/Labour/LibDem coalition is not so much the blatant hypocrisy and disdain for inclusive democracy as the fact that they simply don't care that the public perceive them as hypocrites who pay little more than lip service to the fundamental principles of democracy. It is often observed that modern politicians are obsessed with image to the exclusion of substance. So how do we explain the evident disregard for negative public opinion that seems to characterise the old parties?

Could it be that they are oblivious to the way in which they perceived? This is certainly possible. Politicians, especially the more senior ones, tend to live in a bubble of sycophantic hangers-on who see their role as being "supportive" to the point where even the most constructive criticism is avoided lest it be denounced as disloyalty.

Or is it that these hypocrites are fully aware of the damage being done to their personal standing but consider it a price worth paying in order to fully toe the party line?

Perhaps this phenomenon is best understood in the particular context of Scotland's politics, the independence campaign and, of course, the attitude of the anti-independence parties to the SNP. The truth is that, despite the legitimacy afforded by its massive and increasing membership and the overwhelming support of the Scottish electorate, the Scottish National Party is still not accepted by the British political establishment as part of a political mainstream which, for them, is defined by acceptance of the supremacy of the British Parliament. Despite the results of the last two elections and a plethora of polling evidence, the old parties continue to regard the SNP as a "fringe" party. All pretty amusing. Especially when you consider that this attitude is shared by the very definition of a fringe party, the Tories.

But it is the British Labour & Unionist Party that is most deeply in denial. So entrenched is their idea of Scotland as their very own fiefdom that not even a virtual "doing" by the electorate can put a dent in it.

It is because they continue to delude themselves that the SNP is outside mainstream politics, an aberration and temporary disruption of the age-old narcotic comfort of the corrupt and incompetent Westminster hegemony, that the British parties imagine they can treat the democratically elected government of Scotland with contempt without this coming back to bite them on the well-padded arse.

Put simply, the British nationalist parties act in the absolutely unshakeable belief that no behaviour is so despicable that it cannot be entirely justified by the claim that it is done in defence of the union. Hypocrisy and lies are the very least of it.

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