We have the Bermuda Triangle. We have the Eye of Providence. And now we have Alex Salmond.
Well. Precisely this: Mr Salmond doesn’t have to triangulate himself. And that’s really why they all despise him so. He now has the freedom they never have had to say what he bloody well likes.
The last decade and a half has seen the British body politic jointly responsible for tolerating the kind of dictatorial behaviours a media genius like Mr Rupert Murdoch has managed to sustain: an all-seeing and all-encompassing process whereby he purchased an entire stratum of society. This dominance clearly prepared the ground for and led to the hacking scandal at the News of the World – without such traction on those who should have provided the oversight of observant government, things would never have gone as far as they did.
What has been the most unseemly part of the whole damnable process though – at least from an intellectual point of view – is the ever-present and effervescent instinct to triangulate which dominated the thinking of New Labour’s elite. This led the country not only to its media takeover by the Murdochs and their own particular brand of cavalier freedoms, but also to the absolute control of Middle England by the Daily Mails of this world. And whilst I’m sure Blair & Co must have become soundly fed up of jumping through the hoops that all this entailed, this doesn’t excuse them from contributing to the unhappy consequences which are only now becoming apparent.
The most unhappy one being, for our wider body politic, that no one seems to escape the burden of triangulation.
Except, of course, and as I pointed out at the top of this post, Mr Salmond himself.
The great thing about being a civic nationalist of the kind I believe Mr Salmond likes to define himself as is that the overarching themes of independence can be used to tie together a wonderful rainbow coalition of voters. In this case, however, it’s being achieved through an identification with singularly coherent themes that bind openly and straightforwardly – instead of via that cleverly shabby “searching for the lowest common denominator” approach that has characterised politics in England and Wales for far too long.
If those outside Scottish politics – and even some within it – still find Mr Salmond so very resistible, I suggest they ask themselves how the rest of the UK might respond if a mother lode of such rich political clarity were discovered and equally applied. Something which might tie the English together with such overwhelming insistence that almost anything constructive could be achieved.
Apart from the external threat of a war imposed from without which would serve to engender its own Dunkirk Spirit all over again, I’m not sure, really, that such a force will ever exist again.
Unless, of course, we decide to go for independence ourselves.
In the meantime, the Bermuda Triangle that was the United Kingdom for so long – a place where so many bright initiatives vanished into the political ether – is surely beginning to lose its shape. And in the absence of the all-seeing eye that was Murdoch and his absolutist control over political discourse, it looks like Alex Salmond and the SNP will have a clear run towards the kind of independence Catalonia has achieved within the confines of the Spanish state. A permanent tension with central government – and a consistent and continuous improvement of its competencies in matters of health, security and education.
That is to say, keep them guessing as much as you might – and all the time, all the time, get whatever you can.
We, in the rest of the UK, could do worse than to follow their example.
In relation to Westminster, Cameron & Co – and the other navel-gazers down in London.
Further reading: Éoin has just published this relevant post on Labour’s current polling preoccupations. Graphs and stats lay it out for all to see. Localism, nationalism and independence are all issues the Labour leadership is currently refusing to face – to the wider movement’s detriment, both intellectual as well as purely electoral.