Leadership, not management

leadership
There’s a new Scottish opinion poll out today commissioned by the Sunday Times which must have come as a massive disappointment to the British nationalists who produce that newspaper. The Salmond trial has had precisely zero effect on Scottish voting intentions. Fieldwork for the poll was carried out between 24 and 26 March, after the verdict had been given. All that SNPbaddery has had precisely zero impact. You’d almost think that the British media didn’t understand what’s driving support for independence.

Shock horror as the voters prove themselves to be far more sophisticated in their understanding than the press, and are able to distinguish between the actions of individuals on the one hand and political goals and governance on the other. After all this time, the British media still persists in thinking it’s all about the SNP. It’s not and it never has been. It’s about the British state and the way in which it marginalises Scotland. But for British nationalists grasping that thorn requires a fundamental shift in their own behaviour, views, and outlook. That’s never going to happen.

British nationalism is above all else defined by its exceptionalism and the unshakeable belief that it’s better than all other forms of nationalism by virtue of not being nationalist at all. It is psychically impossible for it to change, because in order to change it must first recognise that it is in fact a form of nationalism. So we’re going to keep on seeing articles like Brian Wilson’s exercise in spittle flecked denunciation of the SNP ship and all those who sail in her which will be hailed by the British metrocommentariat as important and game-changing, but support for independence will continue to rise.

In fact there’s been a slight increase in the number of people who state that they plan to vote SNP in the next Holyrood election, 51% in the constituency vote and 48% in the list. Together with the vote for the Greens who would pick up 3% in the constituency and 6% of the list votes, this would give pro-independence parties a very comfortable majority in the next Scottish Parliament. On the figures in this poll, the SNP alone would take 70 out of the 129 seats in Holyrood and be set for its best ever result in a Scottish election. 54% of voters in Scotland would support pro-independence parties in both the constituency vote and the list vote. The new poll shows that support for independence is up 2% on 49% compared to the last Sunday Times poll on the question. Support for independence is holding up well despite the constant barrage of “we’re all in this together” from the British press.

The reason for the rise in support for the SNP in this poll is because the people of Scotland trust the response of the Scottish Government during this crisis. Despite all the other criticisms which may be levelled against her, Nicola Sturgeon is precisely the kind of leader that a country needs in an emergency of this sort. She exudes calmness and determination, a marked contrast to the bumbling and contradictory statements issuing from Boris Johnson.

A time of crisis is a time for solidarity. The British nationalists may very well think that this means that there’s going to be an increase in opposition to Scottish independence. That’s a facile understanding, but one which they cling on to in comfort. This proves we need the UK, they tell us, more in desperation than anything else. In fact it proves nothing of the sort, what it really proves is that during a national emergency, life and death decisions are made by a British government which isn’t accountable to Scotland and which Scotland has no means to control or punish should it – as it has done so frequently in the past – act in a selfish and incompentent manner.

Even now we see the British government game playing and acting irresponsibly. We also learned from today’s Sunday Times that Boris Johnson was furious when Nicola Sturgeon decided to close Scottish schools and forced his hand. The Sunday Times reports that now the inner members of the British cabinet are making decisions that only go to COBRA at the very last minute, in order to stop the Scottish Government forcing the issue. We also see that they have refused to participate in the EU scheme to provide much needed ventilators, because Brexit. They’re refusing to delay or suspend the trade negotiations with the EU and the UK is still set to crash out with no trade deal in a few short months.

National emergencies are also a time for reflection and thought. That’s doubly true during this crisis as we’re all stuck at home with our fears and our worries. We have plenty of time to think and reflect. This crisis will pass, and the British nationalists are hoping that when it does the people of Scotland will come out of it with a renewed faith in the institutions of the British state.  Their hopes will be dashed.

The closest parallel is perhaps WW2, when the entire UK came together and made enormous sacrifices. Yet when the war was over, the sentiment that reigned was not one that rewarded the Conservative party and Winston Churchill, it was a determination that things needed to change. The voters elected the most radical Labour party in history, which introduced the NHS and nationalisation of key industries.

When this current crisis passes there will also be a determination that things need to change. We need to change to ensure that workers and incomes are protected, and that the government must not prioritise the interests of the wealthy under the guise of protecting the economy. We need to think seriously about a basic income scheme in this time of gig jobs and zero hours contracts. We need to ensure that the rich and big business pays its fair share of taxes.  We need a government which knows that the economy is a tool to service the people, the people are not a tool to service the economy.  But above all we need to ensure that Scotland is governed by a parliament and a political party that the voters of this country can hold to account.

So here’s a prediction. During this crisis support for independence will not shift much – people have other things to worry about right now. But after this crisis is over there will be renewed interest in independence as the realisation dawns that the British state is incapable of reforming itself and if the people of Scotland want the changes that the we all so badly need, there’s only one way that we’re going to get them. We will have that opportunity in the next Scottish elections.

Above all we need an SNP which is brave enough, bold enough, and imaginative enough to seize the opportunity. Many things that we have become used to have been shown to be inadequate in the fires of this crisis. One of those is a party leadership which seeks to manage the independence movement. We don’t need to be managed, we need to be led. Beyond the darkness of this terrible time, there will be the dawning of a better Scotland.


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GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Updated regulations for dog owners

We have a result. Following the plea on this blog yesterday for the needs of dogs who live in flats to be taken into account, this morning the Scottish Government issued updated regulations relating to those of us who own or are responsible for animals. The upshot is that it’s now accepted that taking a dog out to do the toilet is accepted as a valid reason for going outside if you do not have access to a garden. Of course you must maintain social distancing, remain at least two metres away from anyone else, and wash your hands upon your return home.

This may seem a trivial issue to many during this crisis, but to dog owners, especially dog owners who live in flats, not being able to take your dog out for the toilet without having to worry about being stopped by the police was a very big deal.  The National was the only Scottish newspaper to take up the issue, and published a story about it in today’s edition – in which I am quoted. https://www.thenational.scot/news/18341384.can-dog-go-pee/

I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has listened to our concerns and acted so promptly.

I will copy out the new regulations in full below.  They were published on the Scottish Government website at this URL:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-owners-of-companion-animals-and-livestock/

Advice to owners of companion animals and livestock who may be required to self-isolate as part of government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Published: 28 Mar 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice to owners of companion animals and livestock

Dog walking and Social Distancing

Q. What are the rules for walking dogs now everyone is only allowed out for exercise once per day?

A. It is accepted that dogs may need to be taken out more than once per day if they do not have access to a garden or other area to toilet. This must be done following the guidance on social distancing so that you do not come within 2 metres of other people and wash your hands after returning.

Shielding

Q. Are there any extra precautions for animals in shielding households (where people are in the high risk category)?

A. The advice for self-isolating households also applies. If you have arrangements for others to walk your dog, particular care should be taken to avoid them entering your home unless absolutely essential.

Self Isolation

Q. Can I walk dogs or look after other pets for people who are ill or self-isolating as they may have Covid-19?

A. This is permitted – where practical pets should be cared for away from their home for the isolation period so that repeated visits are avoided. Strict social distancing should be followed when pets are collected or returned so you avoid coming within 2 metres of the people self-isolating and wash your hands afterwards. You should only enter their home if absolutely necessary and stay for as short a time as possible. Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead and contact avoided             with other people and animals if being walked in public.

Q. Are there any precautions for pets or other animals in self-isolating households?

A. There have not been any reports of companion or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 and currently there is no evidence that they play a significant role in this human disease. It is recommended that those who have COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms, adopt the hygiene measures above when handling their pets.

When handling and caring for animals, good hygiene measures should always be implemented. Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead and contact avoided with other people and animals if being walked in public.

People under self-isolation who are responsible for the care of any animals, including horses and livestock, must ensure the animals continue to be cared for during the period of self-isolation. Wherever possible arrangements should be made in advance with friends family or neighbours that can be put in place should the need arise.

Q.  I am in self isolation. Where can I go for help or advice on caring for my animals?

If you are too unwell to care for your animals and do not have anyone near-by who can help, for further advice and support please phone:

Travel

Q. Is it an essential journey to travel to care for animals away from my home like relatives’ pets, horses in stables or animals in rescue centres?

A. Journeys to feed or provide other essential care for animals are acceptable. These should be done in a way that follows the guidance on social distancing so that you do not come within 2 metres of people who are not part of your household and wash your hands after returning. You should if possible make arrangements to share the care of animals at stables etc and minimise the number of people who need to visit each day.

General

Q.  Is there a COVID-19 risk from domestic animals or livestock?

A. There is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats, or livestock can be infected with COVID-19. There is no evidence that they become ill as a result of COVID-19.

Q. Are there any precautions to take with live animals or animal products?

A. General hygiene measures should be applied. These include regular hand washing with soap and water after touching animals and animal products, as well as avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth until hands have been thoroughly washed.

As per general good food safety practices, raw meat and dairy products should be handled with care. Meat from healthy livestock that is cooked thoroughly remains safe to eat.

Q. Can boarding kennels and catteries remain open?

A. Boarding kennels and catteries can provide a valuable service caring for pets of    essential workers and those who become seriously ill and have no-one else to look   after their pet. They may remain open for these purposes if they follow the guidance   on social distancing for their staff and owners when animals arrive or are collected.

Q. Can I still take my pet to the vets?

A. Vets will continue to provide emergency services. You should contact your vet before travelling to check that a visit is essential and their arrangements for social distancing at the surgery.

 


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Dugs, self-employment, and the white van man

dogtoilet
Lots of coronavirusy related news today. Like Charles Windsor, Boris Johnson has miraculously morphed into one of those high risk patients who qualify for a coronavirus test and has tested positive. To be fair, we always knew that Boris was one sick puppy, and anyway he was always going to qualify for a test on account of being much richer than plebs like you or me.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also been tested positive.

Dominic Raab is supposed to take over in the event that Johnson is incapacitated and unable to perform his usual duties of fnaugh-fnaughing and telling inappropriate jokes. Dominic Raab. Dominic. Raab. The white van man of government. The man who exudes the permanent air of a low level business executive who has his ex-girlfriend buried under the patio and who has just realised that there’s a broken drainage pipe that’s going to need the entire back garden to be dug up. Dominic has been appointed as the designated survivor as no one would ever know if he had the virus or not because he’s permanently sweating. In that respect he’s the exact opposite of Andrew Windsor, thus proving the ancient aphorism that if you go far enough in opposite directions you’ll end up at the same arsehole.

We’re now in a UK where the words “if the Prime Minister becomes incapacitated, Dominic Raab will take over” are supposed to be reassuring. If you weren’t scared by the coronavirus crisis before, you should be terrified now.

In more reassuring news, I got in touch with Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin to ask her for clarification on the rules about walking dogs. This isn’t about exercising dogs, it’s about their toilet needs. We’re told you can only exercise your dog once a day, but it’s simply animal cruelty not to permit a dog to do the toilet for 23 hours. The RSPCA recommends that every few hours a dog should be permitted access to a space where it can do the toilet. Dog owners have a legal duty of care to their pet’s physical and emotional welfare. Those of us who live in flats don’t always have access to private gardens that we can let our dogs into to do the toilet, we have to take them out. I live in a top floor tenement flat, and we don’t have a back green where the dog can do the toilet. All we have out back is a tiny wee space for the bins. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/environment

Anne spoke on a conference call with UK government minister Penny Mordaunt. Penny told her that that within the guidance / rules there will be times when people just need to use their judgement and that this is one of those times. If your dog needs to pee he needs to pee and she would not expect the police to interfere with that. She also said should your experience be any different, she would expect your MP to step in.

However this is a devolved area, and the Scottish Government state that as per the advice, you can only leave the house for one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle. However this isn’t about exercise. It’s about your dog’s toilet needs. There’s a very good argument to be made that this is covered in the medical exemption provision. It’s unhealthy and distressing for the dog to have to restrain itself from peeing for 22 hours or more. We’ve spent the entire dog’s life teaching it not to do the toilet inside the house, any well trained dog is going to be extremely upset if it pees indoors. No dog wants to be a bad boy or girl. Puppy pads are not an option – have you any idea how much urine a medium sized adult dog is capable of releasing? And besides it’s disgustingly unhygienic for you to have a dog pissing and crapping indoors. So if anyone from the Scottish Government is reading this – and I know that some do – some public advice on this issue would be very welcome.

But in the meantime we have to use our common sense. If your dog needs to go out to do the toilet, take him out. Just be sensible and considerate. Go out alone with the dog. Strictly maintain social distancing protocols. And don’t go too far from your home. As soon as the dog has done his business, return home. This isn’t a sneaky opportunity to get more exercise or for you to get out of the house more often, it’s about your dog’s needs. So don’t take the piss. Pun intended. If you get told by the police to return home, explain that you’re only out so that the dog can do the toilet then you’ll return home immediately, and contact your local MP when you get home.

In other reassuring news, we now know that there’s now finally some help for self-employed people. It’s late, and there won’t be any payout for months, but it’s welcome news nevertheless. Not everyone is going to be covered, especially those who’ve only been self-employed for less than a year. I’ve been self-employed for several years now but wasn’t sure if I’d be covered as I’m still able to do some work – after all you’re reading this blog right now. As well as the blog I can still keep writing for The National. I am grateful for that, as I’m considerably better off in that respect than many self-employed people.

However like many who are self-employed my income has taken a significant hit. A large part of my annual earnings derives from selling books and maps at speaking events, but those have entirely dried up. I also do a significant number of paid speaking events – I had three of those booked for this month alone but all have been cancelled so I have lost all the income from those. And of course there will be no new bookings for the foreseeable future. Additionally I can no longer do the dugcast for The National as the paper’s offices are closed and all except a skeleton staff are working from home. (I’m going to look into doing a dugcast myself from home, but of course I won’t get paid for that.)

I’m not writing this because I want a pity party, but because there are bound to be many other self-employed people like me whose incomes have been severely affected but which haven’t dried up entirely, and who will be wondering whether they’re covered. This morning I received a communication from the accountant who does my taxes, and he informs me that it seems that people in my situation will indeed be covered by the new regulation. So if you are self-employed and most or much of your income has dried up as a result of the crisis, it appears that you will be covered as well as those people who can’t work at all. There won’t be any payments until at least June, and my understanding is that you will have to wait for the government to contact you first. Better late than never.

If I get any other information I’ll let you know. Stay safe, stay indoors.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The R-word

selfishsoandso
The independence referendum campaign of 2014 might not have succeeded in leading Scotland to independence, but it did succeed in normalising the idea of independence and making it the most important issue in Scottish politics. This coronavirus outbreak is a human crisis, but it also has political ramifications. During the crisis, of course our focus needs to be on ensuring that people are safe and well, that medical staff have the protection and resources that they need, that people who are ill receive the care and treatment they depend on, and those who cannot work receive the financial support they require. However those of us who are stuck at home now have plenty of time to think about the kind of country we want to live in once this epidemic has run its course. We have plenty of time to make note of the selfish and entitled behaviour of those at the top of the social food chain. We have plenty of time to consider how we want our society and politics to change.

There have certainly been many instances of coronavillians, and this crisis has only just started to bite. We’ve seen the grasping entitlement of some super wealthy businesspeople, who have been laying off staff without pay while insisting that they personally will take no financial hit to their obscenely large fortunes. We’re looking at you Richard Branson, Gordon Ramsay, and Tim Martin. We’re looking at the call centres that have insisted that their staff come into work, crammed into offices next to one another to deal with phone calls that they could be dealing with at home. We’re looking at Next. We’re looking at Sports Direct. It seems that we live in a British state which when it calls upon the citizens to make sacrifices, they mean that ordinary people should sacrifice their health and their lives for the bank balances of the rich.

But the crowning example of coronavillainry is Charles Windsor and his selfish and reckless disdain for advice not to travel to holiday homes in rural areas. There are serious questions about when he started to feel ill, about how he received an NHS test which is denied to NHS workers. This is man who is so up his own arse that he instructs his valet to put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. A man who insists that his friends call him sir. A man whose first instinct in his own privilege. He does that because other people enable him.

We keep hearing in the Scottish media that Prince Charles is known as the Duke of Rothesay when he’s in Scotland. No. He isn’t. When he’s in Scotland he’s know as “thon selfish prick Cherlie.” One of the ways in which the privilege of this massively wealthy, pampered, and entitled family is perpetuated is because we all keep referring to them by the titles that they give themselves. The head of state of the UK is not Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the whateverth. She’s Mrs Elizabeth Windsor. Her heir is not His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Rothesay. He’s Mr Charles Windsor. By referring to these upper class billionaires by titles, we reinforce their privilege by placing them above ordinary people. So we need to stop doing it. Language matters. It’s Elizabeth Windsor, Charles Windsor, and William Windsor. It’s time we stop deferring to the pretensions of the pampered.

What applies to the Windsors applies by the bucketful to members of the House of Lords. The titles of the likes of Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale, or Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, are justifications for patronage. It is a means of legitimising failed politicians who continue to rule over us and to make our laws and influence our legislation and public policy despite the fact that they have been rejected at the polls. The rest of us should start by refusing to use or to acknowledge these pretendy titles awarded to political failures, rejects, and retirees by their pals. Calling Michael Forsyth Mr Forsyth is more politeness than he deserves.

If the independence referendum campaign of 2014 succeeded in normalising the idea of independence, we should ensure that this coronavirus epidemic normalises the political idea of equality, equity, and fairness. Republicanism needs to be brought into the mainstream of Scottish politics. It needs to become normal and mainstream to discuss the issue of this country becoming a republic.

It’s peculiar indeed that the SNP leadership remains loathe to discuss the idea of a Scottish republic, given that Scotland consistently tops all opinion polls as the part of the UK with least support for the monarchy. In a poll carried out in 2018 only 41% of Scots said that they supported the monarchy. 28% said that they opposed it, and 27% said that they were ‘ambivalent’. Given the distinct lack of interest in Scotland for recent royal wedding celebrations, it seems safe to say that with the exception of those of a flute band and Tory persuasion, even those who do still support the monarchy in Scotland are far less enthusiastic in their support than those elsewhere in the UK.

There is widespread public anger in Scotland about Charles Windsor’s selfish and reckless behaviour during the coronavirus epidemic, behaviour which put the public at risk and which ran directly contrary to the government advice the rest of us are obliged to follow. That points to a considerable lack of patience in Scotland for a royal family which thinks it’s better than the rest of us because it’s descended from German aristocrats who ripped off the peasantry of the Electorate of Hannover. It suggests that the 41% support for the monarchy in Scotland is support which is conditional on members of the Windsor family not acting like entitled dicks. It suggests that the 41% support for the monarchy is less support than it is toleration.

However despite clear evidence in Scotland for widespread distaste for the privilege and the nauseating sychophancy which the Windsor family receive in the UK and in the media, no one in the SNP leadership dares to speak the R-word. Instead they continue to defer to the privilege and pomposity of the hereditarily entitled. This cuts across any divisions within the party. Alex Salmond is a noted monarchist who wanted to retain Elizabeth Windsor and her heirs as head of state if Scotland had voted yes in 2014. Nicola Sturgeon dodged the question when asked about Charles Windsor’s selfish disregard for advice not to travel to holiday homes in the Highlands and noticeably refused to criticise him.

I am not suggesting that we open up another division within the independence movement between those who want a republic and those who support the monarchy. However we do need to start constructing a vision of the possibilities that open up to Scotland once we achieve independence. We need to start to talk about the better nation that only becomes possible with independence. We can build a more egalitarian and equal country. We can build a country where no one enjoys undue privilege as a result of their genes or political patronage. We should begin to debate the nature of Scotland’s head of state and ways in which our political class can be held to account. And we should start talking about other ways to ensure and nourish equality of opportunity. What steps can be taken to ensure that the likes of Tim Martin don’t treat their staff so poorly. How can we reform our tax laws to ensure that the rich pay their fair share. We should start to discuss the merits of universal basic income schemes.

We may be stuck indoors, but that means we’ve got plenty of time to think and dream of the better country that we can build on the other side of this crisis.


chillisauceI’d like to give a wee shout out to Jim McWilliam of Jimbo’s Chilli Sauce who has very kindly sent me a chilli sauce care package to get me through the lockdown.  His new Declaration Sauce is the best BBQ sauce I or my American husband (who takes his BBQs very seriously!) have ever tasted.  It’s spicy and fruity which a delicious kick.  Declaration Sauce is named to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, and the label was designed by the very talented Alison Stell, AKA DefiAye.  It’s only one of the many delicious sauces that Jimbo’s produces.  Independent sauces for an independent Scotland!

Give Jim a follow on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/JimbosChilliSauce/ and follow Alison on Twitter: Brave @defiaye


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


We’re not all in this together

allinthistogether
Prince Charles has tested positive for the coronavirus. It’s possibly the closest he’s got to the crown. We were told by a Nicolas Witchell who was even more gushingly sychophantic than usual that Charles had been tested positive for the coronavirus but is experiencing only mild symptoms, and is – I quote – “continuing to work while he’s in self-isolation”. There’s a whole lot to unpack in that sentence.

For starters, Nicolas Witchell upping the sychophancy is rather like a mountain of sugar covered in syrup having several litres of treacle poured over it because it was judged not to be sickly sweet enough. There are many people who can’t get tested, and widespread concerns about the difficulty of access to testing – especially for NHS staff – but we are informed that Charles was tested on Monday after qualifying for an NHS test due to his age and his medical condition. I never knew that being a member of the royal family counted as a medical condition, but then you look at Prince Andrew and think, “Well, fair enough.”

Charles is in self-isolation, but he’s self-isolating with his servants, staff, minions, lackeys, and security detail. He has ignored the advice for metropolitan types not to selfishly piss off to rural areas of Scotland where there are vulnerable health services for the duration of the crisis and is putting the already stretched health services on Deeside under further strain. And let’s be honest here, apart from waving at the plebs and writing letters to government ministers and newspapers protesting any threat to his privilege, the only job that Charles has ever had in his long life is waiting for his mother to pop her clogs, and she’s doing a very good impression of being rather more healthy than he is. But apart from that, the BBC’s report was entirely accurate.

Instead of the “oh poor Charles isn’t he wonderful but he’s doing well” guff that fills our TV screens, where is the anger? Where is the holding to account? This is a rich, privileged and extremely over-indulged man who recklessly and selfishly travelled with his sizeable entourage to a vulnerable area of Scotland, and who brought the virus with him. He did so despite the Scottish Government advice for people to stay at home. He did so despite first showing symptoms over the very weekend when he decided to travel. Why did he get preferential NHS treatment? Someone must have authorised it. Instead of kissing the hand of the royal circus clowns, our politicians should be calling him out.

Instead, what we get is the Herald attacking one of the few politicians who did dare to call him out.  Former MP George Kerevan tweeted:

“This billionaire land owner disobeyed guidance to stay home to avoid spreading virus, went to second home in Scotland, is now infected and has infected others.  Indy Scotland must be a republic and tax this arrogant fool.”

But instead of looking at the behaviour of the rich and arrogant fool who has put public health at risk, or even questioning whether there might be any truth in what George said, it’s hey SNPBad!  There’s the Scottish media, fearlessly holding the powerful to account.

Charles won’t have to go to an overcrowded hospital full of overworked and overstressed staff struggling to do their very best in the worst of circumstances. He won’t be told that there’s no beds or no treatment. He won’t be expected to forgo any treatment because medical staff require it for a younger patient. If he should need a ventilator or an ICU bed there will be no question about him getting one as a matter of priority. He won’t ever have to face the indignity of lying on a cot in a repurposed warehouse with a thousand other sufferers, coughing up his life. Charles will be just fine. He’ll get the very best that modern medicine can provide, the second that it’s required. Because the British state is a state which deems him to be better than the likes of you or me.

As this crisis was just beginning on 3 March, Prince William was filmed during a trip to Ireland saying, “I bet everyone’s saying ‘I’ve got coronavirus, I’m dying.’ and you’re like ‘no you’ve just got a cough. I’m sure. It does seem quite dramatic about the coronavirus. Is it being a little hyped up, do you think, in the media? By the way, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are spreading the coronavirus. Sorry. So we’re keeping an eye on that, so do tell us if we need to stop.” Well that quote hasn’t aged well. Rather like Prince William, come to think of it.

What’s really hyped up in the media is the royal family. That’s what fuels their massive sense of entitlement. It’s one thing to joke about the crisis when you’re an ordinary punter, and you’re going to face the brunt of it. That’s gallows humour. Laughing is a coping mechanism when you’re confronted with the loss of your livelihood and income, your home is at risk. Laughing is even more a coping mechanism when you worry about a collapsing NHS which might not be able to cope with an influx of victims, and one of those victims could be you, or your spouse, or your parents, or your child. It’s quite a different matter to scoff at the seriousness of the epidemic when you’re a rich and privileged member of the British establishment who doesn’t have to worry about any of those things. It’s not gallows humour, it’s the callow indifference of a rich and privileged oaf.

What makes it even worse is that the media in the UK only fuels the fire of royal privilege. After Prince Philip, who had no business being behind the wheel of a car, carelessly and recklessly crashed into an innocent motorist, Nicolas Witchell didn’t appear on our screens and tell us that Prince Philip was acting like a privileged wanker who was a danger to himself and to the public – even though that was true. Instead we got gushing news reports about Prince Philip and how wonderful he is, and not a care about the two women and the baby he’d so nearly killed.

This matters. It matters because the entitlement and privilege and lack of accountability at the top of the British establishment filters down to others in that same establishment. There are different rules for the rich, different rules for the well-connected, different rules for the privileged. We see it in the casual indifference of Boris Johnson and our inability to hold him to account. We see it in the selfishness of Richard Branson, laying off staff while demanding a bailout from the government, but refusing to dip into his own massive private fortune. We see it in the actions of Wetherspoon owner Tim Martin, who first demanded that his pubs remain open, and who then laid off the staff without pay, telling them to apply for work with Tesco. Richard and Tim won’t have to worry about keeping a roof over their heads. They won’t have to worry about keeping food on the table. They won’t have to worry about getting access to medical care if they need it.

We’re all in it together my arse. This has to change, but if there’s one thing that we’ve already learned from generations of experience with the British state, it’s that the British state is unwilling and incapable of reforming itself. Scotland has another option. Once this crisis has passed, we need to take it.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The lockdown

areyouathome
Welcome to day one of the Great Scottish Lockdown. You already know how this is going to go don’t you. You’ll have got up today resolving that you’re going to use this time productively. You’re going to learn Gaelic on Duolingo. You’re going to spring clean the house. You’re going to fix the loose doorhandle on the door to the spare room that’s been broken for months. And then in two weeks time you’ll be lying on the sofa in your pyjamas, complaining that you’ve used up all of Netflix. All. Of. Netflix. But luckily you’ll discover, lurking in the far reaches of the programme guide, a Portuguese language movie about vampire chartered accountants, so you’ll start to watch it. Then you’ll realise that you’ve already seen it. And you still won’t have fixed the doorhandle.

The lockdown was clearly required. It should have happened sooner. By sheer luck, the UK was given a head start when it came to dealing with the coronavirus epidemic, yet that head start has been squandered. We’ve seen this before. The EU granted the UK an extension to the Brexit negotiation period last year and Donald Tusk pleaded with the British government, “Please do not waste this time.” They went on to do precisely that. Now they’ve done it again. For the first weeks of this crisis the British government did nothing. Boris Johnson spent the time hiding from the press, then picking fights with the civil service. Then he toyed with the herd immunity notion. And ever since his government has been giving confused and mixed messages.

This lockdown, welcome as it is, is still giving the public confused and mixed messages. You’re allowed out once a day for exercise, but how is that going to be enforced? Yet at the same time those of us who live in flats and have dogs are being told that we can only take our dogs out once a day. There is no dog in the world, especially not an elderly dog, which can be restricted to only peeing or crapping once a day. You try it with your own bladder and bowel movements and see how you get on. The only alternative is to allow the dog to piss and shit inside the house, which is scarcely hygienic.

In other countries where there’s a stricter lockdown than in the UK, you can walk your dog as often as required as long as you go alone, you remain at least two metres away from anyone else, and you stay within a short distance of your home. In Greece there’s a number you text on your mobile which authorises you to walk your dog up to four times a day. So between Greece and the UK, which is the banana republic basket case? The current UK rules appear to have been designed by middle class politicians and civil servants who have quarter acre back gardens and no real idea of how ordinary people live.

Rules need to be clear and simple. When they’re not clear, when they’re full of loopholes, people will exploit them. Yet they also need to be realistic. This is not rocket science here. What’s needed here, as a matter of some urgency, are clear and simple rules which are easy to follow and which are practical and realistic.

British government policy is being determined by Dominic Cummings, who is supposedly a genius at communicating messages. He’s not doing very well at it then, is he. If the reports about Dominic Cummings are true, and and he’s responsible for this confused and confusing set of mixed messages from the government and he really was the driving force behind the British government’s now discredited “herd immunity” policy, then it raises some very serious questions for Boris Johnson. Johnson is Dominic Cummings’ boss. Johnson hired him, and Johnson can fire him. But the PM insists on putting all his eggs in one basket case.

At some point we have to hold Johnson and the Tories to account. They have been ignoring advice from China and UK experts like the editor of the Lancet for weeks. The solution to this crisis is to restrict public movement, which has belatedly now happened, to test people for the virus, which is now starting to happen more frequently, and to trace the contacts of those found to be positive for the virus, which isn’t happening at all.

For the past ten years the Tories have presided over an entirely unnecessary austerity policy which has caused the decimation of British public services, meaning that the UK is uniquely challenged when it comes to tackling the coronavirus. Over the weekend Number 10 was forced to release a statement denying in the strongest terms that it had ever been British government policy to argue for “old people being allowed to die”. That would be true. They didn’t argue for it. It’s just that they weren’t going to be overly bothered if it happened. Even now, they’re still more concerned about the impact of the crisis on the economy than on the people.

This epidemic has turned everything on its head. A few weeks ago people were talking of the need to ensure that after Scottish independence an open border should still remain between Scotland and England. Now there’s folk demanding that the border is closed right now. There are effectively internal borders now, as travel to the islands has been restricted in order to help protect communities which don’t have easy access to fully equipped hospitals.

Efforts to keep people out of fragile communities in the Highlands aren’t helped by the likes of the Spectator’s Rod Liddle, who is complaining about the restriction it puts on his privilege. Yet you can be certain that if this virus was somehow spreading from Scotland to England, he’ be the first to demand a fence along the border to keep the Scots out.

Rod Liddle, the gammonfather, has penned a piece in that magazine of entitlement, the Spectator, demanding that people boycott Scotland because the Scottish Government has told people to stay away from the Highlands. The Highlands is the perfect place for entitlement metropolitans to self-isolate, Rod opines. However the communities in the Highlands and Islands are especially vulnerable. They contain a larger proportion of elderly and retired people than the rest of the country, but they’re also remote from ICU beds. Yet folk like Rod can only think about his own needs, not the needs of the communities into which he’s determined to insert his unwelcome presence. The Scottish government has an easy solution to the problem of people travelling to the Highlands. Simply breed billions of midgies to release over the West Highlands to ensure that everyone stays indoors. The plan would be criticised by the Conservatives, as they think they were the only ones allowed to be blood sucking parasites paid for by public funds.

The real lessons from this crisis will not be felt until after it’s over. The most important is that at every level in British government there’s an abdication of responsibility. We’ve had enough of experts, said a certain oleaginous Conservative who still remains in high office. Having enough of experts might work as a soundbite when you’re trying to appeal for the votes of the British exceptionalists who drove Brexit, in an epidemic it costs lives. The result is a public which is unclear on advice and which is happy to believe that it can do what it wants with no consequences. After all, there are no consequences for members of the British government when they screw up, as they so frequently do. This is what happens when you have no proper accountability in government. Scotland has only one cure for that, independence. It’s a cure that we will once again be campaigning for the moment this crisis has passed.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The sigh of relief

Alex Salmond is going home a free man. He has been found not guilty on all charges except one which was found not proven, and another charge which was dropped by the prosecution earlier in the trial. Our faith in Scottish justice shines today and BBC Scotland’s Sarah Smith has gone into self-isolation. Was it just me or did she seem to be barely containing her displeasure as she reported the verdict?

The British nationalists were rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of Alex Salmond being handcuffed and sent to prison. All over the country, newspaper editors are having to bin their gleefully malicious headlines, and the British nationalist frothers on social media are having a collective meltdown. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was supposed to be all their SNPbad Schadenfreude union flag Christmasses come at once, and it’s all been snatched away by the common sense of a Scottish jury.

It should go without saying that the cause of independence is greater than any one of us. We are all the rocks that support this movement. We are all the trees in the Great Caledonian Forest. It is also true that nothing that has happened today changes the contempt with which successive British governments and British politicians have treated Scotland. Even if Alex Salmond had been convicted on one or more of the charges he faced, Brexit would still be happening. Boris Johnson would still be fnaugh fnaughing his posh boy disdain for Scottish democracy. Johnson would still be in charge during a health crisis which he is so clearly incapable of rising to. All the reasons for independence would have remained exactly the same, and once the dust from the trial had settled, the dynamic driving support for independence would inevitably reassert itself.

But Alex Salmond is and will always be a giant amongst us. He’s the foundation upon which we build our path. He has, more than any other individual, wrested the cause of Scottish independence out of the jaws of hopelessness and marginalisation where it languished for generations and brought it squarely into the very centre of Scottish political debate and discussion. No more can it be ignored. No more can anyone, least of all a British nationalist, pretend that it’s not a serious prospect. Above all, that’s thanks to Alex Salmond. He is the individual who our opponents have striven to identify personally with the independence cause. Removing him from the picture under a cloud of disgrace would have given them a cheap and handy weapon with which to taunt us for years to come.

This verdict comes after two extensive investigations, one by the Scottish Goverment, and one by Police Scotland. Both have cleared Alex Salmond. There are now questions to be answered about what seems to have been a particularly vicious bout of party infighting which was allowed to get so spectacularly and dangerously out of hand. As he spoke to the media after his acquittal, Alex mentioned that there was evidence which he was not allowed to present in court, and that would come out when the time was appropriate. There will be scores to settle here, but we can now hope that this will not be a destructive process, but rather one which ensures that the SNP is a party which provides justice and fair treatment to those accused of wrongdoing.

There has been some disquiet for a while about the way in which the party seems to turn on its own. There has been disquiet for a while that the party seems to have lost its focus on the goal of independence in favour of the goal of governing a devolved administration well. There will be immense disquiet if it is proven that there are those within the SNP who were prepared to risk such a potentially disastrous outcome as the conviction of Alex Salmond for their personal ends within the party. Because if that is indeed true, then they were not merely prepared to see the personal destruction and humiliation of a former First Minister, they would also have been prepared to see the independence movement suffer a humiliating and deeply damaging reverse.

So yes, there are uncomfortable times ahead, but unlike the conviction of Alex Salmond on charges of sexual assault, these uncomfortable times will only lead to a stronger and more focussed SNP, an SNP which is better able to lead the independence movement. There are uncomfortable times ahead for Nicola Sturgeon, as questions will be asked about what she knew and when she knew it, all the more so since one of the statements she gave to Holyrood appears to be at variance with the evidence that was presented during the trial. There may be an innocent explanation, we shall have to wait and see. Those who were so keen to assert that Alex Salmond was innocent of wrongdoing before the investigation and the trial must also extend that presumption to Nicola Sturgeon. That’s doubly the case for those who claim to be zealous in their pursuit of independence. They would then be guilty of the exact same sin that they would convict Nicola Sturgeon of – allowing their personal agendas to damage the independence cause and giving our opponents a weapon with which to hurt us.

Under normal circumstances, this political story would be all that occupied the news. But as we all know these are not normal times. In his dignifed and statesman like comments to the press after his acquittal, Alex said that the tribulations which he has faced recently pall into insignificance compared to the life or death issues facing so many people as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. There will be a time for dealing with the fallout from his trial, and for dealing with the circumstances within the SNP which led to it. That time will come, but it is not now.

Today is a day for breathing a collective sigh of relief. One of the giants of the Scottish independence movement will now be able to focus his efforts on helping us toward that goal we all share. He will not be languishing in prison, with a conviction around his neck which would have destroyed his reputation. He will not be able to be used by our opponents as a stick with which to beat us, he will be one of the biggest sticks beating the drum for independence. For that, every supporter of independence is grateful.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com