You don’t know me but I once said I admire your work when I met you at a comics exhibition in London in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s. I used to have copies of your books and I loved If... especially during the 80’s in the era of Thatcher through to Major and then Blair. Yes, you haven’t been as good as Martin Rowson over the last decade but you’ve been one of the few reasons to read The Guardian; a paper that’s been in serious decline thanks to the ham-fisted editorship of Alan Rusbridger. A few souls made it a decent paper compared to the others out there, but really yourself and Rowson made the clickbait, crap bloggers filling in for real journalism and dumbed down crap/London-centric nonsense almost bearable.
Then the Scottish independence referendum arrived and you told Scotland and it’s people to fuck themselves which wasn’t you having a pop at the Tories, but the people of Scotland for supporting independence. Throughout the referendum you pumped out some appalling stuff that alienated people of the left in Scotland that saw Labour leave them but you joined the establishment in protecting the Union so that Scotland stays part of a United Kingdom that said how much it loved the people and country of Scotland and how it should play a greater part in the UK.Yet as the SNP surged after the referendum defeat you called Nicola Sturgeon a ‘Nazi’, and frankly, you dropped a bollock then but today you crossed a line when The Guardian published this work by you.
It’s not the reliance upon the tired old vaguely racist Scottish stereotypes, but the suggestion that Sturgeon supports or encourages incest along with Alex Salmond, or at least, I assume that’s the line you’re using because you’re not sticking your head above the parapet and neither is your editor. Sure someone at The Guardian made a statement to the Huffington Post,..
A spokeswoman for Guardian News & Media told HuffPost UK: “Steve Bell is recognised by his peers – and Guardian readers – as a raw, controversial and talented cartoonist, and his work is often in a pugnacious style.
“The cartoon in question is a commentary on the old joke or saying ‘You should try anything once, except incest and Scottish country dancing’ and is intended to be viewed in light of this.
“The readers’ editor is aware of complaints and will be responding individually.”
But as Mike Small outlines in this piece in Bella Caledonia, this is just part of the relentless anti-Scottish rhetoric that’s infected public debate for the last four or five years that’s resulted in you, Steve Bell, suggesting the SNP support incest. You’re part of the media that’s making attacking Scots using similar rhetoric to that when people attacked the Irish normal. You may not be racist, but your bigotry is showing and although you’re not as bad as say, Jeremy Clarkson, for you to do this means you’ve drawn a line in the sand between the old Labour dinosaurs like yourself that attack a movement of the left because it’s not your gang.
The fact neither you or your editor have made statements to even defend this, let alone explain it, is telling. Yes, Rusbridger has his clickbait but it’s not just The Guardian that’s lost here Steve, it’s you. You doing the graft of the establishment is really something you wonder if the Steve Bell I admired when I was a fanboy would sneer at and attack, rather as you have done which is become part of the establishment. As a Scot living in England I know the English are not evil people, but you Steve are giving ammunition to those that are.
So defend your work. Realise though that you’ve drawn a line in the sand. I may be attending the Wonderlands event in Sunderland in May, and if so, I’d like to ask you face-to-face about this and have an informed discussion about it. If I don’t go, I’m betting people are going to ask you regardless so Steve, here’s the question you need to answer, ”what exactly is your problem with the people of Scotland?’.
I don’t expect a reply but Steve, you’ve fucked up. I only hope you realise how badly some day.