The inevitable backlash

Oh dear, how sad, never mind. The ruling of the UK Supreme Court last week that Scotland must get back in its box and that there is no internal Scottish democratic process which can bring about another independence referendum has singularly failed to stop the independence movement in its tracks as certain democracy denying Anglo-British nationalists had hoped.

Rather, the independence movement become refocused as a campaign for Scottish democracy, since it is now evident that even when the electorate of Scotland choose to elect a Scottish Government with a clear and unambiguous mandate for a particular course of action, it can and will be overruled by an unelected Conservative Prime Minister in Downing Street representing a party that has not won an election since 1955.

Scotland is not, as we have always been told, a partner in a voluntary union, it is a prisoner of voting decisions made in England which requires the permission of a Parliament overwhelmingly elected by voters in England in order to ask itself about its future as a part of . This is a seismic and fundamental shift in the basis upon which Scotland is a part of this so-called union, it is a change which has been imposed on Scotland without consultation, consent, consultation or permission. This is not the union that Scotland was told it would be a part of if it voted No in 2014.

We were promised then that Scotland would be a part of a voluntary union in which the Scottish right of national self-determination would be respected. We were told that it would be a union in which Scotland’s place in the European Union would be assured and in which the devolution settlement would be inviolable and sacrosanct and would be placed beyond the ability of any Westminster government to meddle with it or change it without the express consent of the Scottish people and Scottish Parliament. None of these things have turned out to be true. That deceit by the Better Together parties would alone be more than sufficient to justify a second independence referendum.

Those parties are very fond of demanding that the result of the 2014 referendum must be respected. Very well then, let them go first and demonstrate that they will respect the promises and commitments that they made in order to win that referendum, a referendum which it is now clear that they won with lies, mis-selling and deception. And now they have the unmitigated gall to demand that the people of Scotland honour a bargain that they themselves have so shamelessly traduced.

The Supreme Court ruling last week was the crap icing on the British shit cake. Not only did the court rule that Scotland cannot decide for itself whether it wishes to revisit the question of its relationship with the other nations of the UK and the wider world, for good measure it stuck the Westminster supremacist boot in and informed Scotland that this ancient nation, which has been in existence considerably longer than the United Kingdom which it helped to create, has no right to self-determination in international law.

There has been an inevitable backlash in Scottish public opinion. In the immediate aftermath of the publication of the ruling, Channel 4 published a poll from Find Out Now which it had commissioned which showed that once don’t knows were excluded a large majority would vote for independence parties in a general election being used to seek a mandate for independence. There are good reasons to treat this poll with caution, it was commissioned from a company with no prior experience of Scottish political polling and it used unconventional wording which means it is not directly comparable with previous polling on the independence question.

Nevertheless it was extremely good news for the independence campaign and an early indication that the political fall out from the Supreme Court ruling would not be to the advantage of the Anglo-British nationalist parties.

Those initial indications have now been resoundingly confirmed by the first opinion poll from an established polling company which has asked the standard question on independence, the poll from Redfield & Wilton Strategies registered a 5% rise in support for independence over the previous poll from the same company, putting support for independence on 52% once don’t knows are excluded. This is a rise in support greater than the 3% margin of error which is standard in opinion polling and therefor almost certainly represents a real phenomenon and not just statistical noise.

More significantly, support for another independence referendum within the next year has shot up by a massive 12%. This is a huge increase well beyond any margin of error and suggests that the Supreme Court ruling has provoked a profound shift in Scottish public opinion. It turns out that Scottish people don’t like being told what decisions they can make about their own country by an English judge, there’s a shocker.

46% are now in favour of an independence referendum next year, with just 43% opposed. Once don’t knows are excluded this means that 52% want another independence referendum next year, the same percentage that say they plan to vote yes. It would be nice if this poll would stop the likes of Jackie Baillie insisting that most people don’t want another referendum, but we all know that is not going to happen.

On Thursday it was announced that Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader for the past five years, will not be seeking re-election at the SNP group’s AGM on Tuesday of next week. There has been some disquiet within the SNP group with his leadership, particularly over his handling of the complaints of inappropriate behaviour made against Glasgow North MP Patrick Grady.

It is reported that Aberdeen MP Stephen Flynn is likely to stand for the post. Whoever does take over will have some very big shoes to fill.

However we are now in a new phase of the independence campaign, with a Westminster which is naked in its contempt for Scottish democracy and which denies Scotland its national right to self-determination. It’s time for a far more confrontational and forceful approach in the Commons, making use of every arcane rule to be as disruptive as possible and refusing to accept the non-answers from the Prime Minister which have come to be typical at PMQs. Here is hoping that the new leader, whoever he or she is, will deliver that. Judging by today’s poll, it’s an approach which will be popular in Scotland. It too will be the inevitable backlash to Westminster’s contempt for Scotland.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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Holyrood election vs UK General election as de facto referendum, the pros and cons

One thing needs to be set out plainly right away. I, like I am sure the great majority of regular readers to this blog, want a vote on independence as soon as possible. Ideally I’d like it yesterday. The longer Scotland remains under the thumb of this despicable Tory government, the more suffering is caused and misery created.

The point however is to hold a vote that has the best chance of delivering the desired result. This is the Scottish independence campaign not the Scottish referendum campaign. There are those who appear to believe that all that needs to happen is for some clever clever constitutional wheeze to be implemented, or for there to be an immediate declaration of independence and assertion of Scottish sovereignty and Scotland will magically march to independence and international recognition. That’s not going to happen. It’s easy from within the confines of rock-solid personal support for independence to imagine that the same sentiment is widespread across Scotland and merely needs to be unleashed. Would that that were true. Unfortunately we live in a nation with a wildly skewed media landscape where pro-independence voices struggle to be heard and anti-independence arguments are amplified and propagated even when they are without merit.

The really remarkable thing here is not why is support for independence not in the high 70s, but rather that support for independence remains as high as it does despite the relentless and unceasing British nationalist media campaign against it and the immense difficulties in getting the independence message across. Our real battle here is to ensure that we can get that pro-independence message through to as many people as possible in the teeth of a Scottish media which is scandalously unrepresentative of the range of Scottish opinion on the independence question.

There are essentially two choices facing us now that the UK Supreme Court has effectively closed off any possibility of a referendum in the traditional sense. There is no chance of a section 30 order. No British Prime Minister would agree to one when there is a realistic chance of Scotland voting for independence.

That really just leaves using an election as a de facto referendum. Notions of recalling Scottish MPs and together with MSPs convening some sort of National Convention to press for independence or to declare independence are fantasy politics until such time there is a democratic vote in which a majority of voters clearly back independence. This may prove to be the way ahead eventually, but it can only succeed if first of all there is a democratic event in which a majority of voters in Scotland who turn out to vote cast a ballot for independence.

That democratic event could potentially be either using the next UK General Election, or dissolving the Scottish Parliament and calling early Scottish elections with the sole purpose of obtaining a mandate for independence, creating a de facto or plebiscite referendum. The choices for a de facto referendum are using the next UK General Election or calling an early Scottish election, both have advantages and disadvantages. What I propose to do here is to look at the pros and cons of either option.

The first thing to say here is that using such an election as a de facto referendum must be in order to win a mandate for independence itself, not , as some have mooted, in order to obtain a mandate for a referendum. Scotland has already voted for another referendum. This de facto referendum will only be taking place because Westminster has overruled the unequivocal mandate won in May 2021. Asking for yet another mandate for a referendum would merely give legitimacy to the way in which Westminster has traduced Scottish democracy and imply that it was Scotland’s fault for not speaking clearly enough in May 2021, not Westminster’s fault for ignoring the unarguable wishes of the electorate of Scotland.

The advantages of using a UK General Election include that there is no question that Westminster has the legal authority to legislate on the constitution. It could not be argued that a manifesto commitment to independence itself was outwith the legal competence of the Parliament to which election was being sought. The other advantage is that Westminster could not gerrymander the election as easily as it could with a Holyrood election by introducing rules about turnout or the percentage votes won. It could not do so in England’s constituencies and to do so in Scotland’s would cause outrage from the other parties and be an implicit recognition of the validity of a de facto referendum. There would be no rules about super majorities or minimum turn out.

In any case it is a fundamental tenet of the Westminster system that no Parliament can bind the hands of its successor. The Westminster Parliament being elected in this de facto referendum need not consider itself bound by any measures adopted by the current Parliament.

Additionally using a Westminster election means that there is no chance of a British nationalist boycott. All the parties opposed to independence will participate in the vote, which guarantees the process the democratic legitimacy it requires.

There are however considerable downsides to using a UK General Election. Scottish voices will be drowned out in a UK Election in which English concerns will dominate in the media. The franchise will be that for Westminster elections, which means that foreign nationals resident in Scotland and 16 and 17 year olds will not be able to vote.

The other downside is that we would have to wait for a UK election, one is not due until 2024. That gives the Tories two more years in which to harm us all and erode democracy even further. However although this government has notionally got a secure Commons majority, it is very far from stable, the Conservatives are deeply divided and riven with in-fighting. It is not at all unlikely that the Government will fall before 2024 and we could face an early General Election, particularly if the Tories think that they will be able to deprive Labour of a majority.

The big advantage of using a Holyrood election as a de facto referendum is that Holyrood controls the timing and the franchise. Scotland could have its vote in October next year, keeping to the timetable originally proposed. EU citizens resident in Scotland and 16 and 17 year olds would be able to vote, both of which are demographic groups which lean to Yes. It would be a Scottish vote made in Scotland, and we would not have the distraction of a media predominantly concerned with English issues or the jam tomorrow promises of Starmer’s Labour party.

There are however also big downsides to using a Holyrood election. First of all an early election would have to be engineered. This is possible albeit difficult. It might be welcomed by those of us who are desperate for an independence vote, but we must avoid bubble thinking here. Not everyone is as engaged with politics as avid readers of pro-independence blogs. Voters traditionally dislike it when parties force early elections and can wish to punish those they deem responsible. The anti-independence parties will seek to make hay about the ‘irresponsibility’ of effectively suspending government in order to have an election. Once Westminster gets wind of the idea it could rush through legislation to either rule it unlawful as being outwith Holyrood’s competence, or to gerrymander the vote by setting an unrealistically high threshold for turn out or victory.

More problematic is that the UK Government and the Anglo-British nationalist parties will certainly claim that the election is an unlawful attempt to subvert the Supreme Court and that in any case no Holyrood election can deliver a lawful mandate for independence which Westminster or the international community would recognise. Alister Jack asserted to the Scottish Affairs Committee in the Commons this week that Holyrood elections can only deliver mandates for things within Holyrood’s powers. The Conservative government would double down on this assertion if a Holyrood de facto referendum was being planned, and we would see a concerted campaign in the anti-independence media telling the public that the vote was meaningless in an attempt to destroy its democratic legitimacy and to reduce voter engagement.

There could also be a widespread boycott of the election by the anti-independence parties, undermining the legitimacy of the vote. This might even be followed by Westminster suspending Holyrood, and using the vote as the excuse the Tories have been looking for to drastically curtail the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

The harsh truth is that there is no magic bullet here, there is no easy option. Westminster is not going to make this easy for us. But as long as we focus on maximising support for independence and calling out the appalling democratic deficit forced on Scotland by the British state, we can and will win this.

There is of course no guarantee that Westminster will recognise a mandate for independence obtained by a de facto referendum – but that would be the case whichever election is used as a de facto referendum. This is where withdrawal from Westminster and the establishment of a Scottish National Convention could productively come into play. But the important thing is first of all to win that vital democratic mandate for independence itself.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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Explaining the obvious to self-serving British nationalists

In the days since the historic Supreme Court ruling that Scotland has no right to an independence referendum through its own internal democratic processes, and the incomprehensible decision of the court that Scotland has no right to self-determination as it is neither oppessed, a colony, nor denied a meaningful say in its own affairs, immediately before ruling that Scotland has no meaningful say in deciding whether or not it can have an independence referendum or not, Anglo-British nationalist politicians have been falling over themselves to de-legitimise the mandate for another referendum given to Holyrood by the voters of Scotland in May 2021.

This is because they know that they stand exposed as democracy deniers, undemocratically refusing to allow the people of Scotland the referendum that they so clearly voted to have, resorting to laws that they themselves have created in order to obtain a ruling that it would be unlawful for Holyrood to do what the people of Scotland elected it to do.

There is one thing that we must get clear right away, and this needs to become a change in language that is widespread and standard across the independence movement, following this ruling we can no longer permit opponents of independence the indulgence of the political fiction that they oppose Scottish independence because they are opposed to ‘nationalism’. This ruling has made it abundantly clear that there is no longer a union in the sense that it has been understood for generations. Indeed the court went out of its way to rule that Scotland has no right to self-determination, and is utterly dependent on the voting choices of England in order to be ‘allowed’ to revisit the question of its relationship with the other nations of the British state.

The political opponents of independence are therefore not advocating Scottish participation in a voluntary partnership of equal nations – like the EU – they are advocating the subordination of Scotland to political decisions made in England and to denying Scotland the right to gainsay or challenge these decisions. England, the largest nation in this so-called union is not subject to the same constraints. Scotland and Wales can be bound by the electoral choices of voters in England, but the converse does not hold true. The parties opposing independence are thus proponents of Scotland having an inferior status within a state which is effectively the political expression of Greater England and which denies Scotland the right to self-determination. As such they are not unionists, they are not anti-nationalist, they are the parties of Anglo-British nationalism and must be characterised as such.

Even the most obdurate Anglo-British nationalist politician accepts that the question of independence dominates the political landscape in Scotland, however they are determined to ensure that the question is never addressed by the electorate, in no small measure because they fear the response that the people might give. They like to blame it on the SNP and ‘grievance mongering about Westminster’ deliberately ignoring the fact that ‘grievance mongering’ only achieves the persistent political traction that it has done in Scotland when people feel genuinely aggrieved. But the cause of this must never be examined, far less addressed or remedied.

In order to maintain a fig leaf of democratic legitimacy, the Anglo-British nationalists are on an all-out campaign to re-write history and to deny that the current Scottish Parliament does indeed possess a mandate for another referendum. That is appalling enough, but it is even more appalling that most of the Scottish media allows them to get away with it.

In the Commons on the day of the Supreme Court ruling, the patrician governor general Alister Jack asserted that the Scottish Parliament does not have a mandate for another referendum because only 30% of the electorate voted SNP in May 2021. He further went on to dismiss the Scottish Green MSPs entirely on the spurious basis that the Scottish Greens don’t stand in the constituency vote and therefore in the tortured reasoning that passes for Jack’s logic the votes of Green MSPs don’t really count. However if we are going to discount the votes of list MSPs – then the SNP would have a crushing majority at Holyrood. But Alister Jack seems to believe it’s up to him to pick and choose which MSPs count towards a mandate.

By Jack’s own measure only 29% of the electorate voted for the Conservatives in the December 2019 General Election, but this would not lead him to admit that the Conservatives do not have a mandate in the Commons, or that he should not be in a job.

It is incredible that this needs to be spelled out, but it must be because Jack, Douglas Ross, and their fellow Anglo-British nationalists insist on conflating elections and referendums. May 2021 was not a referendum on whether Scotland should have another independence referendum, it was an election to the Scottish Parliament, a Parliament which uses a broadly proportional voting system designed to avoid one party winning an outright majority. It is a system deliberately designed to bring about multi-party governance, this makes it doubly desperate for Jack to attempt to discount Green MSPs.

So once more for the democracy impaired – election winners are not determined primarily by percentage of vote share, particularly in the first past the post system beloved of Westminster, they are determined by seats won. It’s the party or parties with most seats who win power and the mandate to implement its manifesto. Once that majority is won, the government holds its mandate until the next election. It does not lose it mid-term because of opinion polls. That’s how elections in the UK work, it is how they have always worked in the modern era. Labour and the Tories’ appeal to opinion polling does not negate the mandate won at the election of May 2021. If it did, Brexit would not be happening.

No British Government has won a majority of votes cast since 1935 when Stanley Baldwin leading the National Government (a coalition of Conservatives Liberals and some Labour MPs) won 51.8% of the votes cast, but even this fell short of a majority of the electorate.

in 1931 the National Government won 67.2% of votes cast, which on a 76.4% turn out works out at 51.3% of the electorate. By Jack’s ludicrous logic – if we are calling it logic – this was the only occasion since the introduction of the democratic franchise that a British government has won a mandate to implement its manifesto. All other governments, including the ones in which Jack has been a minister, have been illegitimate.

Jack is not entirely stupid. He and Ross and Sarwar know how elections work. They are merely dishonestly trying to create public doubt about the Scottish Government in the hopes of disguising their contempt of democracy, and doing so in the knowledge that the Scottish media will allow them to get away with it. The more that they do so, the more they confirm the view that the Scottish independence campaign is now the Scottish democracy campaign.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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The Pyrrhic victory

Wednesday was a very big day for the Scottish independence campaign. Scotland is imprisoned in a failed democracy that refuses to accept the outcome of Scottish elections that are not to the liking of the Anglo-British nationalist parties. We now find ourselves in a so-called voluntary union which is indeed voluntary, but it is only voluntary for England. It is certainly not voluntary for Scotland. The other nations of this so-called union effectively require the permission of England, or more precisely MPs who are predominantly elected to represent English constituencies, if they wish to ask their people about whether or not they wish to remain a part of the UK. However should England ever wish to leave the United Kingdom, it requires no one’s permission but its own. A union in which only one member has the unilateral right to leave, but can trap all the other members for as long as it sees fit is not a union at all.

The right to an independence referendum is like the right to divorce: you don’t have to want to leave your spouse to accept it as a right. In the 2021 Holyrood election The Scottish electorate voted for parties which back a referendum: denying Scotland that that right now is an attack on democracy itself. On Wednesday evening Douglas Ross and Alister Jack were falling over themselves to rewrite history and to claim that the 2021 Holyrood elections were not really about another independence referendum at all.

This is not a union. Legally in the eyes of the British state the UK is composed of England and its dependencies. We know that definitively now, and logically it follows that those parties which oppose Scottish independence are not unionist parties, they are parties which are determined to keep Scotland subjected to the decisions of the electorate in England and dependent upon the electoral choices of England in order for Scotland to be granted permission to ask itself about the nature of its relationship with the other nations of the UK. That is not unionism. It is certainly not the unionism that has always been presented to Scotland by the anti-independence parties. It is Anglo-British nationalism, pure and simple.

In some ways it’s a good thing that we now have clarity about the reality of Scotland’s position, even if that clarity is a product of an answer that was unwelcome. For the wider independence movement is is a positive development that we can now focus on the real issues of independence and on developing arguments to persuade undecided voters and soft no voters to support independence instead of devoting most of our energies to interminable and often bad tempered debates about process, debates which do little or nothing to convert those vital soft Noes and undecideds to Yes.

We have clarity now about process. There will be no more wasting time on futile attempts to beg Westminster for a Section 30 order which will never be forthcoming as long as the parties of Anglo-British nationalism fear that there is an outside chance that Scotland might vote Yes. We are now looking at the next election in Scotland becoming a de facto independence referendum. There will be a special conference of the SNP early in the New Year – just a few weeks away now – to plan for that historic election. It is early days but it is heartening that a poll for Channel Four News on Wednesday found that 50% of Scottish voters would vote SNP at the next general election if it could lead to Scotland leaving the UK and 51% if it led to negotiations on independence with Westminster.

There are challenges ahead for the Yes movement, but for those whom we must now call Anglo-British nationalists, what the Supreme Court delivered on Wednesday is a Pyrrhic victory which will prove to be their undoing. They have lost some of the key weapons in their armoury, the claim that the UK is a voluntary union of nations in free and equal partnership, and the ambiguity about the democratic route to another independence referendum. Most importantly of all they have lost the pretence that the democratic decisions of Scotland will be respected within the UK.

The anti-independence parties must now be hounded on the question of just how Scotland can obtain a legal referendum through its own internal democratic processes. They do not have an answer, but that is precisely the point. The questioning serves to illustrate their lies and deceit.

Starmer the Tory not so Lite leader of Labour also refused to spell out the democratic route to another referendum and said on Wednesday: “It is for those who want to break up the United Kingdom to set out how they propose to do so.” Well we did, Starmer, we said that we could do so by achieving a majority in the Scottish Parliament for another referendum, a route that the anti-independence parties agreed on right up until the pro-independence parties achieved it whereupon it was suddenly not good enough.

The Anglo-British nationalists have also lost devolution as a plausible alternative to independence. Devolution has now definitively failed, it cannot guarantee that the people of Scotland will get what they voted for, and it cannot protect Scotland from the unwanted decisions of Westminster governments that Scotland did not vote for. The ‘world’s most powerful devolved parliament’ is toothless and impotent in the face of Westminster intransigence. History will look back on devolution as a stop gap measure introduced by Westminster in a vain attempt to stem the tide of independence. Labour can announce whatever ‘reforms’ it likes, but it cannot prevent them being undone by a future Conservative government.

The ruling told us that the only way in which Scotland can be the equal of the other nations of this archipelago is with independence. The Anglo-British nationalists have not avoided a vote on independence, they have created a vote on independence which they must contest while trying to defend the unequal nature of this so-called union and to defend the subordinate position of Scotland within it. “Scotland we love you, you are an equal partner in a family of nations” is just risible now. the plea made in 2014, “Scotland lead us don’t leave us” is exposed now as a sick joke. Moreover the Anglo-British nationalists will be forced to defend their denial of democracy in a vote which they cannot boycott and which will be far harder for them to gerrymander, undermine, or derail.

We now not only have an independence movement which has put questions of process behind it, it is a movement which is galvanised and energised. It is a movement which counts on the support of half the population and that is just as the starting pistol is fired on the countdown to the vote. Additionally the independence movement is facing an Anglo-British nationalism whose anti-democratic deceit has been exposed and which has nothing to offer Scotland except more lies, bullying, threats, and contempt.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The death of traditional Scottish unionism

The UK Supreme Court has made its ruling. It’s a no, it’s a big fat no. That ruling came as no great surprise, a court established in London by a British Government and steeped in the English constitutional dogma of the absolute sovereignty of Westminster was never going to find sufficient legal wriggle room to allow Holyrood to hold an independence referendum, even a referendum which was carefully specified as being consultative, without Westminster’s permission. The ruling was not just a no, it was a flat out no, a unanimous no. The ruling did at least give us a definitive answer to the question of whether Holyrood can proceed with its plans for another referendum and did not, as some had feared, refuse to give a ruling on the substance of the matter.

The court – at least in its summary judgement – made no recognition of the fact that the only democratic means open to the people of Scotland to express their democratic wish for another referendum is through an election to the Scottish Parliament. That is exactly what happened at the Holyrood election last year, and the result was unarguable. By the normal rules of all elections in the UK the parties advocating another referendum won a clear and solid majority and a mandate to bring about another referendum. This means that, despite what the likes of Anas Sarwar would have us believe, the political question of whether there should be another referendum has already received an answer as definitive as the Supreme Court’s ruling that the Scottish Parliament lacks the legal competence to hold one. If democracy in Scotland is to have any meaning, there must be another independence referendum.

This ruling did not settle the question of independence – it gave us another powerful and compelling reason why independence is necessary.

There is now a clear contradiction between the legal situation and the democratic situation. The judges have effectively ruled that Scotland is a hostage of whoever the Conservatives have chosen to install in Downing Street. The generations long claim so beloved of traditional Scottish Unionism that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations is a myth, a lie told to the people of Scotland by British nationalists in order to secure Scotland’s loyalty. Traditional Scottish Unionism died today. The fairy story that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations is dead and buried. A union in which member nations may only exercise their right to decide whether they wish to remain in that union or to leave it with the permission of a government effectively chosen by the electorate of the largest nation in that union is not a voluntary union in any meaningful sense of the term. There is as much substance to the claim that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union as there was to Gordon Brown’s Vow, as there was to the promise that no Westminster government would ever meddle with the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament.

The Supreme Court dismissed arguments based upon the right to self-determination enshrined in international law. It ruled that Scotland is not a colony. It ruled that Scotland is not oppressed. It ruled that Scotland is not denied meaningful access to control over its own affairs, and then it issued a ruling denying Scotland meaningful access to control over its own affairs as far as deciding whether it wishes to revisit the question of independence is concerned. This is not the fault of the court. The court does not make the law, it merely interprets it. The fault lies squarely with those Westminster politicians who have always told Scotland that it is a part of a voluntary union, but who have denied Scotland any means of putting their claim the test. Westminster and the Conservative party are blocking Scottish democracy.

There is now no answer to the question – What is the democratic route to another referendum given that we now know that it is not the people of Scotland voting for a parliament to which they have given a mandate for another referendum. This represents the ultimate failure of devolution. Devolution cannot guarantee democracy in Scotland, it cannot guarantee that the people of Scotland will get what they vote for, because what Scotland votes for is subject to a veto from an occupant of Downing Street that no one voted for and who represents a party which has not won a democratic election in Scotland since 1955. The UK is not a voluntary Union, Scotland is a hostage to the Conservative party.

This is intolerable, and as she gave her reaction to the Supreme Court ruling, the First Minister noted that the court did not rule that there is no legal route to Scottish independence, it ruled that the Scottish Parliament cannot pass a bill to bring about another independence referendum without Westminster’s consent. However democracy in Scotland cannot and will not be blocked by a minority party in Scotland which has been consistently rejected at the ballot box by the people of Scotland.

The Conservatives and Labour have every right in a democracy to oppose independence and to oppose holding another independence referendum, but what they cannot do if democracy in Scotland is to have any meaning is to resort to authorities outwith Scotland to ensure that they still get their way after they put their propositions to the people of Scotland in an election which they lost. Yet that is exactly what the democracy deniers of Anglo-British supremacism are doing now.

Independence is now no longer solely about building a Scotland which works for and in the interests of the people of Scotland and ensuring that Scotland always gets a government which the people of Scotland voted for. Independence is still about those things, but now another dimension has been added to the independence question, independence is now also about ensuring democracy itself. We know know that democracy in Scotland cannot be guaranteed as long as Scotland remains a part of this non voluntary and unequal union.

The First Minister announced today that democracy cannot be denied. The people of Scotland must have their say in a legal and democratic vote on the future of their country. Therefore the next election in Scotland will become a de facto referendum on independence. Labour and the Tories must now explain themselves to the people of Scotland, they must explain their lies about the nature of a union which we now know is not voluntary at all. They must explain what the democratic route is for the people of Scotland to secure another referendum now that we know it is not voting for a Scottish Parliament committed to delivering one. During PMQs in the Commons today, the unelected Prime Minister repeatedly refused to answer that question.

The First Minister also announced a special conference of the SNP and discussions with the Greens in order to determine the question to be put to the voters of Scotland at that de facto referendum and a plan of action once a Yes majority is secured. Scotland will have its say, but we have work to do between now and then to build that secure Yes majority and to hold the democracy deniers of Anglo-British nationalism to account. That will continue to be the sole focus of this blog until that Yes vote is secured.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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BBC Scotland : BBC scaremongering

BBC SCAREMONGERING

When BBC Scotland gives huge prominence to a thinly sourced story about something that’s never going to happen, but which provides the anti-independence parties a platform from which to attack the Scottish Government, and moreover does so just days before the ruling is published in a court case which has the potential to destroy the traditional foundations of Scottish Unionism and wipe out the generations long claim that the United Kingdom is a voluntary partnership of nations, it would be wonderful to live in a Scotland where we could look on in bewildered perplexity and ask ourselves, “what were they thinking? and for that to be a genuine and not a rhetorical question.

However in this Scotland where we actually live, we all know exactly what they were thinking. They were thinking that they had a convenient stick with which to beat the Scottish Government and to scaremonger about the ability of Scotland to sustain the health service as we have always known it. It’s a very convenient distraction just days before Scottish unionism as it has always been sold to the people of Scotland by generations of British politicians could be killed and buried by a UK Supreme Court ruling which might find that the law in the UK has no place for Scotland’s inalienable right to self-determination.

It did not escape notice that BBC Scotland pulled a very similar underhand trick just two days before the independence referendum in 2014, another thinly sourced story which the BBC spun into a major scare about the ability of Scotland to maintain a publicly owned and free at the point of use health service.

Instead of putting pressure on anti-independence politicians about how they will respond if the UK Supreme Court tells Scotland that they have been lying for decades when they told us that it’s up to the Scottish people to decide whether Scotland remains a part of the UK or not, the BBC is giving those politicians a megaphone and a stage that allows them to demand the resignation of the Scottish Health Secretary, a resignation which they are demanding because of something which has not happened, and which even more importantly, is not going to happen. Still, perhaps we should count our blessings because it did at least stop them from banging on about the bloody ferries for five minutes.

This story is based on the leaked minutes of a meeting of health service executives, a meeting at which Humza Yousaf the health secretary was not in attendance. The executives apparently indulged in what management speak is wont to call ‘blue sky thinking’ the activity of trying to find completely new ideas to solve an existing problem, irrespective of whether those ideas are desirable, practical, or feasible. The existing problem in this case is the problem of the long term sustainability of NHS funding. One of the ideas that the executives reportedly mooted was charging the better off for all or part of their medical treatment.

The first point to note here is that such an idea runs counter to the foundational principle of the NHS, that medical care should be free at the point of use for everyone, the second point is that even if this idea had survived an initial brainstorming session, NHS executives do not have the power or the political authority to make such a fundamental change to the policies and principles of the NHS, only the Scottish Government can do that and the Scottish Government has always made it clear that it is committed to free health care for all and has resisted the creeping privatisation which blights the Conservative run NHS in England. Moreover the Scottish Government and the Health Minister were neither present at the meeting nor had any input into what was discussed.

However the BBC then gleefully reported that the NHS in Scotland was considering the introduction of charges for health care, and considered this non story to be important enough that it was not only broadcast as the lead story on the BBC Scotland news and on Reporting Scotland at 6.30pm, but also gave it considerable prominence on its UK wide broadcasts, thus giving viewers in the rest of the UK the highly misleading impression that Scotland is poised to introduce charging for healthcare and end the principle that the NHS should be free at the point of use.

Not only did this give the anti-independence parties a highly convenient if fictitious excuse to work themselves up into a lather of self-righteous SNP baddery, it also provided the dual purpose of giving the Conservatives in England some cover which they could use to shelter themselves from justified criticism of their woeful management of the NHS in England.

The story, and the misleading way in which it had been framed and presented naturally provoked a furious backlash, Humza Yousaf described the BBC story as ‘complete baloney’ and Nicola Sturgeon issued a statement reiterating the commitment of the Scottish government to a national health service that is publicly owned and free to use. There was less chance of the proposals aired at that meeting being implemented as there is of the BBC complaints procedure finding in favour of the complainant and issuing a grovelling apology and a correction.

By Monday evening the BBC was still broadcasting the story but was obviously stung enough by the criticism to publish a mealy mouthed defence of its actions on Twitter, claiming disingenuously : “Reporting on the NHS in Scotland is a very important story for our audience. They have a right to know what those leading the NHS in Scotland are discussing – and that’s what we have been reporting today.”

But the point here is that it’s the Scottish Government and the Health Secretary who lead the NHS in Scotland. The people attending that meeting do not determine policy, and those who do determine policy are absolutely not discussing what the BBC so gleefully reported today, far less are they considering implementing it.

What the BBC did was shameless and grossly irresponsible tabloid style sensationalist scaremongering of a kind which would not have been out of place in the Daily Express, a publication which once gave us a breathless report of an interview conducted via a medium with the ghost of Princess Diana. At this rate we can look forward to a report on Reporting Scotland telling us that the ghost of the Queen had told a medium that she didn’t want Scotland to become independent and she thought that Humza Yousaf should resign. It would have as much substance as their reporting on Monday.

BBC Scotland has lost all credibility as an impartial news provider – it should just rename itself BBC Scotland is British and be done with it.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Labour’s same old waffle on Lords reform

Keir Starmer has promised that if Labour wins the next UK General Election, the Labour government will abolish the House of Lords. More accurately, that should read, the Labour party has promised yet again to abolish the House of Lords. The abolition of the unelected upper chamber has been Labour policy since the party was first founded. The first attempt to make the upper chamber democratic was in 1911 when the Liberal Government of the day introduced the Parliament Act which promised, amongst other things : “whereas it is intended to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of hereditary basis, but such substitution cannot be immediately brought into operation.”

This Act did curtail the powers of the Lords, which at the time was entirely hereditary in its composition and deeply reactionary in its views. The Act removed the ability of the Lords to veto the budget, the House of Commons was also given the power to overrule the Lords’ veto of other bills after three parliamentary sessions. In 1917 the Bryce Commission was set up to consider further proposals to reform the Lords. However the commission’s recommendations were rejected by a vote in the House of Lords and the matter was dropped until after WW2. Labour’s Parliament Act of 1949, amended the 1911 act and reducing the time the Lords could delay a bill from two sessions to one, this was done in order to prevent the Lords from derailing the Labour Government’s plans for the sweeping nationalisation of strategic industries, such as the railways, coal, and steel, and the introduction of the Welfare State.

Further tinkering came in 1958 with the Life Peerages Act which created a new class of peerage, those who were appointed for life and held full voting rights in the Lords, but whose peerages were not hereditary. Since 1965 almost all new peerages have been life peerages, with the notable exception of the hereditary baronetcy conferred by Margaret Thatcher upon her husband Denis in 1990, which passed to their son Mark upon Denis Thatcher’s death in 2003. Mark Thatcher continues to hold the peerage and entitlement to a seat in the Lords despite being involved in numerous controversies and allegations of corrupt business dealings, and being convicted, fined, and given a four year suspended prison sentence in South Africa for funding the 2004 Equatorial Guinea coup d’état attempt, he is barred from entry to the USA and deprived of residency in Monaco as an ‘undesirable’ but he still has the right to influence British laws and legislation.

There were further abortive attempts at reform of the Lords in the 1960s. In 1968 Harold Wilson’s Labour government published a white paper proposing some fairly anodyne measures that would tinker with the composition of the Lords. Perhaps the most significant of these was that the sitting government of the day would gain the right to appoint sufficient life peers to ensure that it had a majority in the Lords, this was to counter the in-built Conservative majority in the Lords created by the hereditary peers who numerically dominated in the chamber. Hereditary peers who were currently members of the Lords would have remained as non-voting members for life, but their heirs would not succeed to their seats.

Although scarcely earth-shattering, these proposals died a death, Wilson announced in April 1969 that his government would not proceed with the bill.

The matter was left to lie again, although there was mounting concern throughout the Thatcher era about the advantages granted to the Conservatives by an upper House composed primarily of hereditary Conservative peers. In the 1997 General Election the Labour party under Tony Blair had a manifesto commitment to radical reform of the Lords. The manifest declared: “The House of Lords must be reformed. As an initial, self-contained reform, not dependent on further reform in the future, the right of hereditary Peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords will be ended by statute.”

Many believed, and were not disabused by the Labour party in their belief, that Labour would move immediately to abolish the hereditary nature of the Lords and would then introduce proposals to make the upper chamber elected. Labour promised to establish a Royal Commission to examine further reform. Blair’s government passed the House of Lords Act 1999 which created a majority of appointed Peers in the Lords with a remaining group of 92 hereditary peers who were supposed to retain their voting rights only until the second phase of reform was complete. These 92 were elected from within those who had a right to be members of the House of Lords as a result of their hereditary status. The government asserted that this arrangement was to be purely temporary until the second stage of reform was completed. 23 years later they are still there.

However Labour soon backtracked on proposals for an elected upper chamber, by 2003 Blair was speaking in favour of a fully appointed Upper House. Plans to make the Lords an elected chamber were quietly dropped. The attraction of life peerages to a Prime Minister are obvious. They are the crack cocaine of political patronage, permitting Prime Ministers to reward their cronies and toadies, as we have seen recently with Boris Johnson awarding peerages to Alister Jack and Nadine Dorries. Peerages are doled out to party donors, superannuated politicians, and as a reward for failure in public office. It is a system which reeks of corruption and which has led to an ever more bloated House of Lords, stuffed to the gills with political lightweights many of whom rarely bother to show up.

Although it’s now being reported that Keir Starmer wants to abolish life peerages and the remaining hereditary peers and replace them with a fully elected upper chamber, that is not in fact what Labour is proposing. Rather what we are getting is another promise to ‘reform the Lords’. All that Labour is promising is a plan to hold a ‘consultation’ on what a reformed new chamber might look like, and a promise to in addition to ‘reform’ the current appointments process.

In other words, it’s just more of the same old waffle, which will lead to an upper chamber which serves the interests of the British establishment and not the people. Same as it ever was.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Austerity and colonialist paternalism: what the Tories do for us

It’s been an eventful week in politics and the slow disintegration of the British state. Yesterday the UK Supreme Court announced that on Wednesday of next week it will publish its ruling on the indyref2 case brought by the Scottish Government which is seeking legal clarification on its plans to hold an independence referendum in October next year.

The court has been asked to give its judgement on the narrow question of whether the Scotland Act gives Holyrood the legal competence to hold a referendum without the explicit consent of Westminster in the form of a Section 30 order, however the implications and constitutional and political ramifications of this case go much much further.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is the most important case ever to come before the court since it was established by Gordon Brown’s government in 2009. This case goes to the very heart of the nature of the United Kingdom, a polity which has always in the modern era characterised itself as a voluntary union of nations based upon consent. This case will test whether that is indeed the case, or whether the traditional unionist claim that the UK respects Scottish sovereignty is just another convenient and self-serving lie like Gordon Brown’s infamous Vow.

It has always been the proud boast of British nationalists in Scotland that Scotland could leave the UK any time it chooses and that claim was what allowed them to angrily howl down suggestions from certain independence supporters that as a part of the UK Scotland is effectively a colony of England.

However should the Supreme Court rule that internal democratic processes within Scotland are not sufficient to allow Scotland to revisit the question of whether it wishes to remain a part of the UK, but depends upon obtaining the prior permission of politicians who derive their power from voting decisions of the English electorate, then it becomes very difficult to refute the claim that, at least politically, Scotland is an English dependency without any sovereignty of its own. Indeed, Scotland being placed in the position where its people are told that their own democratic decisions cannot be put into effect because a higher authority which Scotland cannot hold to account has abrogated to itself the power to decide what is in Scotland’s best interests is in many ways the very definition of classic colonialist paternalism.

This would have massive ramifications for traditional Scottish Unionism, and would destroy any pretence that Scotland is an equal partner in a voluntary union of nations. Scotland would have been told that it does not matter how its people vote in elections, even in elections to the Scottish Parliament, they will always be subjected to being overruled by a Conservative party which has not won an election in Scotland since the 1950s.

By the normal rules of elections in the UK, rules which have held since the introduction of the democratic franchise, the current Scottish Parliament has an indisputable democratic mandate for another referendum. Appeals to opinion polling or claims that ‘now is not the time’ by the parties which lost the 2021 Holyrood election are specious special pleading without merit, the cries of sore losers unwilling to accept that the people have spoken and the political debate about whether there ought to be another Scottish independence referendum has been settled. If democracy in Scotland is to have any meaning then there must be a referendum. A poll out from YouGov today found that only 32% of respondents think it was right to leave the EU, with 56% thinking it was wrong. For people under the age of 50 the figures are even more stark. 19% and 66% respectively. Yet the Scottish Tories who bleat about opinion polls when it comes to another independence referendum will not be deterred from their Brexit fetish.

Should the Supreme Court rule in the Scottish Government’s favour, all well and good, we will have an independence referendum in October next year. However should the Supreme Court rule that the current unelected occupant of Ten Downing Street can thwart the democratic will of the people of Scotland, this will be a ruling that within the UK, democracy in Scotland is a performative substance free exercise in play acting without import in the real world. The question of independence then becomes a question about the very preservation of democracy itself in Scotland.

There is a third possibility, the court might rule that it will not make a decision on the substance of the question until there is actually an independence referendum bill which has been passed by Holyrood. This risks trapping the matter in legal limbo, with the Scottish Government being unable to proceed with a bill which the Lord advocate is unwilling to sign off because she is not confident of its lawfulness, and the Supreme Court unwilling to rule on its lawfulness because the Lord Advocate has not signed off on it. That would be a disgraceful betrayal of Scottish democracy. Effectively from a political point of view we would be in the same position as if the Supreme Court had ruled against the Scottish Government. The legal framework of the British state will have prevented democracy in Scotland from taking its normal course and will have blocked the implementation of a mandate given to Holyrood by the electorate of Scotland in a democratic election.

A ruling against the Scottish Government will absolutely not mean that the question is settled or that the Scottish Government must go back to futile requests for a Section 30 order which will never be granted as long as the British Government believes that there is an outside chance that Scotland might vote for independence. It will mean instead that Westminster will never accept a Holyrood mandate for a referendum, and a reversion to the situation which held prior to the establishment of the devolution settlement. This will see the next election in Scotland being run as a de facto referendum, one way or another, Scotland will have its say, with Westminster’s permission or without it.

Meanwhile in Westminster the Chancellor appointed by the latest unelected Conservative Prime Minister was announcing a new round of austerity which he blamed on the Tories’ favourite bogey man in the Kremlin. Brexit has nothing to with it, the Conservative mismanagement of the economy and the energy sector has nothing to do with it. The catastrophic mini budget of Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng which cost the public purse £30 billion has nothing to do with it.

But it’s the poor and the vulnerable who are going to pay the price. Not the profiteering energy giants or the wealthy who hold non-dom status. The UK gives Scotland the patronising colonialist paternalism of Alister Jack, soul crushing austerity and the trashing of democracy itself.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The back door assault on devolution intensifies

Apparently the reason that there is unemployment in Scotland has nothing to do with the economic policies of Westminster governments in general or Conservative governments in particular, oh no, we have an ‘ethnic problem’ rooted in the deep seated cultural practices and expectations of Scottish and Irish people. So it’s not a Westminster problem at all, oh no. It’s a Gaelic one. Professor Tyler Cowan, a senior economist at George Mason University in the US, made the outrageous suggestion at a conference organised by a right-wing think tank, one of those free market fundamentalist think tanks responsible for Liz Truss’s abomination of a mini-budget which cost the public purse some £30 billion. You might think that certain right wing think tanks would do better to shut up and do more thinking and less tanking.

These are the same people who blamed the lower productivity in the UK on a ‘lazy’ British workforce. The short-termism and profiteering of British management and its decades long systematic under-investment in industry has nothing to do with it in their eyes. Poverty is the fault of the poor, unemployment is the fault of the unemployed, low productivity is the fault of the workers. There’s a definite theme here. Right wing think tanks seem to exist primarily in order to absolve the rich and powerful from any blame or responsibility for anything that ails society.

Meanwhile news has broken of yet another Westminster power grab aiming to by-pass and undermine the devolution settlement. It’s yet another example of the Conservatives using Brexit, which Scotland voted against in a referendum, to attack the devolution settlement, which Scotland voted in favour of in a referendum. What was that again about the Tories harping on about the need to respect the outcome of the referendum? Oh? Not *those* outcomes you say? Those are outcomes which don’t suit the Conservative party, so they don’t count.

The Retained EU Law Bill which is being put before the Commons by our unelected Prime Minister could give UK minister far reaching powers to scrap those European Union laws which remain on the statute book after Brexit, including those in devolved areas. The aim of the bill is to revoke over 2400 pieces of EU legislation that still remained a part of the UK legislation at the end of the Brexit transition period. These include laws which affect competencies devolved to the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments. Hitherto Westminster has needed legislative consent from Edinburgh and Cardiff in order to make changes in these areas. This bill proposes to do away with that, Westminster would be giving itself the power to act unilaterally, in effect neutering key provisions of the devolution settlement.

Naturally the anti-independence Scottish press will be up in arms about this all-out assault on the ‘best of both worlds’ that was promised to Scotland in order to keep this country a part of the UK, and which underpins the guarantees that Scotland will be respected and listened to as the equal partner in a loving family of nations. Oh. No. Sorry. They’re banging on about the ferries again.

This is of course not the first time that the Conservatives have used Brexit as an excuse to attack the devolution settlement. Under Theresa May the Conservatives introduced their UK Internal Market Act, which was passed into law under Boris Johnson. The Act allowed the Conservative Government at Westminster to unilaterally change certain laws and regulations which came under the remit of the devolved parliaments, this was in direct contradiction to the Vow sworn by then Conservative leader David Cameron in 2014 that no Westminster Government would ever alter the devolution settlement or the powers of Holyrood without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Despite this, May went so far as to obtain a UK Supreme Court ruling that the Sewel Convention stating this principle, and which had been written into the Scotland Act as a consequence of that infamous Vow, had no legal force.

The Scottish media responded to this gross breach of trust by waving it off as minor tinkering with agricultural standards and food labelling rules, ignoring entirely the fact that it represented a clear breaking of the promises made to Scotland in order to secure a No vote in 2014 and thus constituted an unarguable instance of failure to respect the referendum. But the British nationalists can disrespect the commitments they made to win the referendum as much as they like, it’s only the losing side that must be bound by its rhetoric for all eternity.

The next Conservative back door attack on devolution came with the Levelling Up Bill, which gave Westminster the power to spend on devolved competencies in Scotland, by-passing Holyrood entirely. Michael Gove denied that the Bill undermined the devolution settlement, well he would, wouldn’t he. Gove asserted that the bill ‘augmented’ devolution. It ‘augmented’ devolution in the exact same way that smashing up your car and rendering it inoperable ‘augments’ your transport options by forcing you to get the bus.

However this new assault on devolution seems to be the most wide-ranging yet, and the Conservatives have undoubtedly been emboldened by the fact that they realise the craven Scottish media will do its utmost to minimise the impact that this bill has on the devolution settlement for fear of stoking up support for independence. Devolution was sold to Scotland as the great unionist alternative to independence, but the anti-independence media is failing to protect it. That failure contains the seeds of their own undoing.

The laws and regulations which the Conservatives seek to abolish in this new bill are not the amorphous and abstract ‘red tape’ which the Brexit supporting press likes to make out it is. They are not minor tinkering with food labelling. These are regulations and rules which go a long way toward guaranteeing our workplace and consumer rights and protections. The Conservatives most certainly did not take the UK out of the European Union because they wanted to give us all better and stronger employment and consumer rights and protections.

These are, let us not forget, the same people who blame low British productivity on lazy workers and unemployment on some sort of atavistic work-shy Gaelic culture and who rely on right wing think tanks that give them a fig leaf of intellectual justification for institutionalised cruelty, private greed and the destruction of public services.

This will not be the last Conservative attack on either the devolution settlement or our employment or consumer rights.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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A legend has passed, but his legacy lives on

The independence movement has suffered an immense loss with the passing of Mike Blackshaw, the tireless and indefatigable organiser of the Yes Hub in the South of Edinburgh, in the heart of what he once described to me as ‘bandit country’, the No-voting constituency of Edinburgh South.

Mike was firmly of the view that it was not only vital for the wider Yes movement to have a visible presence in the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities, but it was even more important that that presence was in areas like Edinburgh South, the constituency of Scotland’s last Labour MP, who only keeps his seat thanks to the votes of douce Morningside Tories. Mike thought that it was vital for the yes movement to do ‘missionary work’ amongst No voters, to demonstrate both that Yes voters are not the anti-English racist monsters which the frothing angry Über- British nationalist social media accounts like to make us out to be, and also to show them that Yes supporters are everywhere, because supporting Scottish independence is a normal mainstream part of the Scottish political landscape.

Having such a visible presence as the Edinburgh Yes hub gave the Yes movement the opportunity to organise and host events which had a chance of reaching out to No voters and exopsing them to arguments for independence. Even if they didn’t change their minds it might get them to start to think more seriously about independence and not dismiss it out of hand.

I first met Mike in 2016 when he asked me – and the dug of course – to come to the Yes Hub to do a talk. It was always a pleasure, and the dug was always made especially welcome with treats and lots of love and attention.

Mike was also tireless in organising coaches to take Yes supporters from Edinburgh to marches and rallies across the country. He was also responsible for organising the event which brought Ginger the greatest happiness I have ever seen. Mike organised a debate night at the Queens Hall in Edinburgh in 2019 and I was honoured to be one of the speakers. Naturally the dug came too. We were sitting backstage awaiting our turn to go on, but someone left the door open and Ginger caught a glimpse of the packed audience. He was off, and within seconds was working the crowd like a pro, getting pats and hugs from the people there. He was in his element, lapping up the attention like the diva dug he was. It took a good twenty minutes to get him back.

Mike was born in Margaret Thatcher’s home town of Grantham but came to Edinburgh with his family when he was a teenager and made his life in the Scotland that he loved. There’s a statue of Thatcher in Grantham, if there was any justice there would be one of Mike too, he gave infinitely more to Scotland than Thatcher ever did.

Mike continued to keep busy, ensuring that the Yes Hub kept going despite his own failing health. He was an immense inspiration to me after I had my stroke, as he continued to work for independence even as he came to rely on a wheelchair. Right up to the very end he was campaigning and organising. He showed me that disability is not the end, it just means new challenges.

Mike was a force of nature, one of the giants on whose shoulders the Yes movement will stand. He will be much missed, but his legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of all those whom he inspired and continues to inspire even now. He will be missed.

We will honour Mike’s legacy by continuing the campaign that he devoted his life to.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

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