RECENT opinion polls give the Conservatives a lead over Labour in voting intention for the General Election next month. At least as far as voting intention in the rest of the UK is concerned. In Scotland , the story is very different. Scottish subsamples for those same polls show that the SNP enjoys anything between 44% and 52% of Westminster voting intention. The Tories are a long way behind, and Labour are struggling to make any sort of impression on Scottish voters at all.

Yet that’s not the story the UK’s national broadcasters want to present to us. Since broadcasting remains, at the insistence of Labour backbenchers in the 1990s, an issue reserved to Westminster, the UK’s national broadcasters are Scotland’s national broadcasters as well.

As far as those organisations which claim to hold up a mirror to Scotland within the UK are concerned, this is a two-horse race between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. And so ITV has organised a debate between the second and third runners in Scotland’s General Election, entirely ignoring the party that by far the greatest number of people intend to vote for. This is a gross disservice to Scotland, one which distorts and deforms the nature of our General Election. The LibDems have protested over that one, while Sky has now invited their leader, Jo Swinson, to take part in a three-way debate with Johnson and Corbyn – with Scotland’s biggest party, the SNP, once again excluded.

You would be right to wonder whether the UK’s national broadcasters really understand the nature of the UK. Or rather, that UK which opponents of independence keep insisting that Scotland is a part of but which they do their utmost not to live up to. Because from this end of the TV screen it’s very apparent that the view from the UK’s national broadcasters’ studios is a country which is indistinguishable from England.

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In a piece about the election on Sky News on Sunday, the segment was finished with a screen shot of the four main UK party leaders, with the presenter telling us that they’ll be taking their message to the nation. There was Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, and the LibDem’s Jo Swinson, plus Nigel Farage of the Nigel Farage Fan Club, otherwise known as the Brexit Party. Not a sign of anyone from the third-largest party in the Commons, a party who have more MPs and more members than the LibDems and the Brexit Party combined.

Scotland scarcely exists in the UK media’s coverage of this election. When Scotland does put in an appearance, it’s when Conservative or Labour figures are asked, as they were on the Sophy Ridge show on Sky News on Sunday, whether they will refuse to permit another Scottish independence referendum. Note the perspective of that question. Sophy Ridge didn’t ask Boris Johnson or Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey whether they would respect the democratic will of the Scottish electorate. She didn’t ask what right Labour or the Conservatives would have to stand in the way of a mandate that the Scottish Government already possesses for an independence referendum, a mandate which will be reinforced and strengthened in this coming election.

She asked if they’d continue to refuse permission, with the obvious implication that standing in the way of the democratic right of the people of Scotland was the default position.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

We saw this same refusal of the UK media to understand the perspective of Scotland when Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed recently on Channel 4 News. Cathy Newman asked Nicola Sturgeon whether she would press for an “illegal referendum” if Westminster continued to refuse a Section 30 order.

The phrase “illegal referendum” was used twice in the interview. From the great heights of a London TV studio, Scotland only has a right to ask itself a question about its own future if that right is graciously granted to it by a UK Prime Minister that Scotland didn’t vote for. Yet when someone asserts that a referendum without a Section 30 order is illegal, they are not presenting a statement of legal fact, they are giving a political opinion. The only legal fact about a consultative referendum without a Section 30 order is that its legal status has never been tested.

There are good arguments both for and against its lawfulness. Until such time as a court makes a ruling one way or the other, any journalist who insists that a referendum without a Section 30 order is illegal or unlawful is not giving the public a fact. They’re making a political intervention on behalf of the We Don’t Want Another Indyref Party.

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If the EU had insisted that the UK needed to ask its permission before holding a Brexit referendum, the UK media would have spread the outrage of Brexiteers far and wide.

It would have amplified and propagated it. Nigel Farage would have been on every episode of Question Time bewailing the unfairness of it all. Although admittedly that’s what happens anyway. But when it comes to the silencing of Scotland’s democratic rights within this so-called precious Union, the British media don’t challenge those who insist that a constituent nation of the UK has no right to decide its own future, it legitimises them.

With such determination to ignore Scottish perspectives in this election, you’d almost think we were living in another country. Oh wait. We are. It’s just that we’re living in another country which has to debate its elections and its politics through the media prism of its neighbour.

The result is disengagement from the public, distrust of the media, and the widespread confusion within the electorate about what powers belong to Westminster and which to Holyrood. The anti-independence parties are happy to exploit this confusion. They benefit from it and so have no interest in ensuring that Scotland’s views are correctly represented in the UK media.

That’s what the UK does to Scotland. It deprives us of proper democracy. It prevents Scotland from airing and debating the issues that concern Scotland, instead they’re drowned out in the priorities of our much larger neighbour.

The UK media unwittingly demonstrates the nature of Scotland’s democratic deficit in every General Election.