Friday, 17 November 2017

The TV rating wars we've all been waiting for - Gaelic Mafia vs Russian Mafia

From my Daily Record column

The new Alex Salmond show presents me with a viewing challenge. I’d love to watch it but I fear he airs at the same time as re-runs of the evergreen “Speaking Our Language” with Rhoda MacDonald on BBC Alba.

It’s the viewing battle I’ve dreamed of for years - the beautiful Gaelic Mafia takes on the ugly face of the Russian Mafia. I know who’ll win that one.

But Salmond is no loser, he knows what he is doing by taking the Putin rouble.

Hiring himself out to the Kremlin-backed propaganda station on the same week RT registered with the US Department of Justice as a “foreign agent” is not a point of irony, it is exactly the point.

Going Slavic instead of going slàinte is a logical extension of the battle Alexi, as we must now address him, has been fighting against the UK media since at least 2012, earlier even.

It was about then, during the London Olympics NHS celebrations, the Queen’s rainy but jubilant Jubilee -  all that damn Britishness being beamed into Scottish living rooms - that the SNP leader crystallised his contempt for the most valued British asset, the BBC.

Auntie Beeb is the glue that holds Britain together, the flickering tribal flame which even in this day of splintered audiences gathers us around the polished Strictly dancefloor.

It’s not perfect, but when it comes to news the BBC is impartial, politically independent and still the most trusted thing about Britain.

So, from the perspective of the new Soviet hero, it must be destroyed.

To be fair Salmond did try to dismantle it first, demanding a Scottish Broadcasting Service airing kaleyard kitsch for the glens in the hope viewers turn their back on the Thames and the bass drumbeat of Eastenders. Some hope.

Instead he must de-legitimise the BBC. He had a fair go at this during the referendum, egging on the lynch mob BBC “bias” mentality as a “joyous” celebration.  

He knows he will be attacked for coming under Kremlin “kontrol” but putting himself on a news chatshow pedestal holds a mirror to other broadcasters, undermining their credibility in his reflected ego.

Of course RT is an arm of the Russian state, but isn’t the BBC the same thing, ask his useful idiots?

Isn’t the Putin rouble the same currency as the Daily Mail shilling? 

Well, the Daily Mail editor is keen on shooting wildlife, I hear, but not as enthusiastic as agents of the Russian state when it comes to shooting journalists.

There is no equivalence, at all, although for a Pavlovian section of nationalist support the comparison will be legitimate.   

I read Salmond wrong after 2014, I thought his hand in glove role with his successor was as father of the nation, a selfie daddy to all Scots.

Instead his task is to keep the 45 at 45 degrees centigrade, ready to boil the moment centre-ground Sturgeon decides the opportunity presents itself again.

It’s demeaning work for a former first-rate politician, but in the long game he thinks this will help crumble the Jericho walls of what keeps us British.  

Episode one of the Alexi show aired relatively unscathed, interviewing the exiled Catalan independence leader, the nearest thing we have to a 21st century Prince Charlie.

There is a limited supply of separatists to have as guests, though as a running theme some will never tire of Salmond’s trumpet.

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