An open letter to Steve Bell of the Guardian, defender of the establishment.

Hi Steve

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.

stevebellsnpincest

 

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.

Why is the Guardian against Scottish Independence?

During this debate on Scottish Independence the usual suspects have been firmly on the Unionist side. We’ve seen the Sun, the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Express and the Metro all firmly  pushing the party line from Westminster. The Independent has been a mess which is typical of a paper that’s all over the place, but it’s the role of The Guardian that’s the most puzzling.

The Guardian is the paper which proclaims itself to be a liberal and progressive voice, except it’s very firmly taking an editorial line against independence, and has been since the start of the campaign proper two years ago. You’d expect the paper and it’s editor Alan Rusbridger, to firmly come out in support of an independent Scotland based upon firm social democratic principles, except they don’t.

Here’s some examples.

Now you might say those are perfectly fine, and they are as after all the Guardian is hardly an impartial voice, but it pretends to be balanced but it clearly isn’t as the anti-independence articles outnumber the ones by the likes of George Monbiot, by at least 3-1. Then there’s how they distort stories to fit a certain narrative, so for examples Sunday’s perfectly peaceful demo at the BBC in Glasgow is being painted as ‘press intimidation’ when it was entirely peaceful and conducted in good Glaswegian humour.

bbcdemoyesscotland

Why this matter is because the Guardian has a crucial voice in shaping how the left in the South form opinion because the Guardian under Rusbridger’s editorship has firmly become a paper of the South, not to mention the US and Australia, but less so the less of the UK. It still has, or at least, had a place in providing an alternative. It is trying to cover its arse with things like this splendid Billy Bragg piece aimed at the Left in England especially (the Left in Wales seem to be starting something of their own) but on the whole it’s drummed the establishment beat. It’s also veered into cheap insults with every single article on Scottish Independence has this ad for Steve Bell’s Alex Salmond squeezy stress doll.

stevebellsalmonddoll

I wouldn’t mind if there was say, an Alistair Darling one, or a David Cameron one, but this is it. On every article. It’s frankly, taking the fucking piss not because I’m a huge supporter of the SNP, which I’m not, but because they’ve done they best to reduce the campaign to a SNP V Better Together/Labour one and that is an insult to the millions of people in Scotland who are debating right now and won’t vote for the SNP in 2016.

If you’re a leftish liberal Guardian reader in London or the South then you’re being fed a lie. It’s a sad state of affairs when the paper which has spent years wondering when something to challenge the established order would arrive in the UK and it happens in Scotland and they don’t bother about it.

Now, the conspiracy theorist Craig Murray posted this the other day:

No declaration of interest from Rusbridger in Guardian pro-union editorial over Benshie estate he stands to inherit through his wife, daughter of Lord Mackie

 

There is a Lord Mackie, and he does indeed occasionally do stuff in the Lords, as for the Benshie estate, that’s harder to confirm though house prices in Benshie are around the £250k mark, which means a tidy profit for any landowner. There is however a popping of the myth that Rusbridger is anti-establishment when in fact, he’s firmly part of it but he does need to declare his interests as if he is due to come into the ownership of Scottish land and he’s using the Guardian to manipulate the debate then what credibility he had left is gone.

There is however no point asking him, or indeed his daughter who works at the paper under her mother’s maiden name as they didn’t want to let such an obvious case of nepotism to stand out, though it did eventually. There’s no chance of a straight answer.

So you the reader have to make sure that you don’t read one paper or get the one world view because you’re not getting the full picture.