The confusion and incoherence of British nationalism

The British nationalist metrocommentariat have clearly been spooked by the recent run of opinion polls showing majority support for independence beyond the normal margin of error in opinion polling. There has been a wee spate of articles warning of the ‘threat to the union’, all of which have one significant and interesting feature in common. None of them have the foggiest idea of what to do about it. There’s more woe woe and thrice woe than there is amongst certain independence supporters bewailing the apparent lack of a plan from the Scottish Government to challenge the refusal of a Section 30 order.

Writing in the Guardian on Wednesday, Rafael Behr indulged in the usual Londoncentric opinionating about Scottish affairs, claiming that Nicola Sturgeon’s strategy for dismantling the UK has been to blur the line between party and state and entrench SNP control of devolved institutions – an echo of the one party state scare story so beloved of the British nationalist parties. You think that it wouldn’t have to be explained to them that you don’t get to complain about a one party state because you’re useless at winning elections, but there you go.  There was the hackneyed trope about the divisiveness of the referendum, splitting families and “polluting friendships”. It was very clear that Rafael’s sources of information about what has actually been going on in Scotland are British nationalists parties and their pals in the press. For a man who claims that something needs to be done to stop the surge of pro-independence sentiment in Scotland, he’s not been listening much to independence supporters, or nationalists as he insisted on calling us. There was of course no recognition at all that he was himself espousing a nationalist point of view, for British nationalism is the nationalism that doesn’t want to speak its name in case it gets found out. It’s the nationalism which is distinguished by its refusal to admit that it’s a form of nationalism.

Meanwhile the rest of the media is acting as though it’s 2014 all over again. In the absence of a credible plan to save the UK, there’s always a scare story to threaten and belittle Scotland into submission. On Wednesday Laura Kuenssberg repeated as fact the Tory party attack lines about how an independent Scotland would not have been able to raise money on its own account in order to tackle the crisis. There was not even a pretence of presenting an alternative point of view. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, they all seemed to manage, but Scotland would have been left there in the toilet paper aisle in Tesco’s without any money to wipe its own arse.

On Thursday, Sky News chose Ronald McDonald as its go to expert on the effects of the epidemic on the Scottish economy. That would be the same Ronald McDonald who is Scotland in Union’s favourite go to guy for dire warnings of the economic armageddon that would befall an independent Scotland. He’s the man who warned in 2014 that an independent Scotland would be an economic basket case if it continued to use the pound, and then when policy was changed he argued that an independent Scotland would be an economic basket case if it didn’t keep using the pound. This is because Scotland is the only country in the entire world which is unable to have any sort of currency which won’t lead it to penury.

Of course the two main parties do have their own plans for what to do about the restless natives in the North British province. Labour has been conjouring up the federalism fairy again, a being which has died and been resurrected more often than Christopher Lee in the Dracula movies. The problem is that there is zero interest in England for a properly federal UK, and in any case even full fat federalism won’t solve the problem of Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will because that’s what England voted for.

Meanwhile the Tories have a plan for treating the ails of the union which consists of making things even worse. Support for independence is growing because Scotland feels marginalised and ignored, so the Tories propose to marginalise and ignore Scotland even more and to reduce the ability of the Scottish Parliament to do anything about it. It’s a bit like deciding that the best way to treat a nasty case of pneumonia is to hit the patient with a hammer. It does bugger all to deal with the root cause of the pneumonia, and now the patient is raging with you.

The problem that British nationalists have not been able to solve is that for there to be a solution to the “Scottish question” which resolves matters in Westminster’s favour, that solution has to be one which is politically acceptable in both Scotland and England. Labour’s solution might be acceptable in Scotland, up to a point, but England has no appetite for it. The Conservatives’ solution might be acceptable in England, up to a point, but it’s anathema to a large majority in Scotland.

Failing an actual plan, all that the British nationalists have got left is trying to stall. That’s what a refusal to agree to a Section 30 order represents. It’s not a plan. It’s certainly not an answer to the questions facing the UK and the problematic relationships between the various nations which make it up. It’s simply a delaying tactic born out of panic and an inability to come up with a solution. It’s the vain hope that if they keep saying no then eventually those troublesome Scots will just give up and shut up. Despite the fears of sections of the independence movement, that’s not going to happen.  Do you plan on giving up and shutting up and going away when we’re winning majority support?  No.  And neither do I.

Eventually something will have to give, and the unionism of the Conservatives in England is fragile and hollow – much to the terror of their colleagues in Scotland. Half of Conservative voters in England would prefer an England divested of its troublesome Celtic appendages. A British Government which continues to refuse the democratic will of the people of Scotland will only stoke up resentment in Scotland and deliver widespread popular legitimacy to alternative routes to independence – whether that’s a referendum without a Section 30 order, or a plebiscite election, or some other democratic strategy such as boycotting Westminster and establishing a national convention.

The panic and scaremongering in the British nationalist media is a symptom of the confusion and incoherence at the very heart of British nationalism. It’s a nationalism that claims not to be nationalist. It’s a nationalism which claims to unite the different nations of the UK but which asserts the supremacy of the largest. It’s a nationalism which claims to be a union but which wants to act as though it’s a unitary state. It’s a nationalism which can’t clearly distinguish itself from English nationalism. British nationalism will fail to find a solution to the problems facing the British state because it doesn’t know what it is itself. Its confusion and incoherence will deliver Scottish independence.


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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


The EU’s open arms

Scotland’s best chance of getting back into the EU is through independence. Kirsty Hughes, the director of the Scottish Centre for European Relations and an expert on EU matters, has said that the EU would welcome the membership of an independent Scotland but would be far more wary should the UK attempt to rejoin. In other words, if Scotland wants a closer relationship with the EU, as consistent majorities of the Scottish electorate say they would like to see, the quickest and easiest way of achieving it will be as an independent nation.

There is broad sympathy for Scotland throughout the EU. The mood music from Europe is now very different to what it was in 2014 when the EU saw itself as a representative of the interests of one of its most important and largest member states, the UK. In 2014 we saw a succession of EU figures lining up to pour cold water on Scottish hopes of EU membership as an independent nation. Most of these figures were allied to the British Conservatives in the EU Parliament, although their ties to the Tories were never made explicit to the Scottish public by our media.

We won’t be seeing that again. The EU is no longer in the business of working in the interests of the British state. Indeed, the experience of Brexit and the lies, dissembling, dishonesty, and lack of good faith of the British Government have left a very bitter taste in the mouths of many in Brussels. The next Scottish independence referendum will see a very different style of messaging from the EU. It will not actively intervene in support of independence, but there will be a very different and more positive tone, and there will be many more EU figures who are prepared to make statements which are favourable to Scottish membership.

Scotland is seen as a normal northern European country, one whose values and ideals are far more closely in alignment with the European norm than the exceptionalism of the UK. Our European friends understand that Scotland did not vote for Brexit, and that we have been torn out of the EU without our agreement. Those who follow British politics more closely also understand that Scotland has not been permitted any input or influence into determining the shape that Brexit takes. At every step along the way Scotland has been marginalised, ignored, and trivialised by the British Government. This generates a considerable sympathy for Scotland’s position amongst our European allies.

Meanwhile the British state has burned through what remained of its credibility. Britain is seen as deeply untrustworthy, unstable, and prone to a delusional exceptionalism. The EU would only consent to the UK rejoining the EU if it was sure that it was no longer going to be the perennial thorn in the side of other EU member states that it was during the UK’s first period as a member. There will be no more toleration of British exceptionalism, no appetite for special deals or exemptions for the UK. And above all, the UK will only be allowed back into the EU if the EU sees that it has genuinely changed and is now willing and able to cooperate as a member instead of demanding special treatment. There’s very little sign of that happening in a UK which is going ever further down the rabbit hole of British exceptionalism.

Both the Conservatives and Labour are now parties of Brexit, but even if the UK did elect a party at the next General Election which was committed to rejoining the EU it would take many years and long and protracted negotiations before Britain was allowed back in again. You don’t quickly reinvite a house guest who vomited all over your carpet during their last stay and trashed your living room. There is a need for a long period of rebuilding trust, and that’s a currency which the British Government has squandered and devalued. The EU has learned that they don’t call it Perfidious Albion for nothing.

On the other hand a Scotland which had achieved independence legally and constitutionally, as has always been foreseen by the Scottish Government, is a Scotland that the EU would welcome back with open arms. Scottish politics are not disfigured by the lurch to right wing populism that currently defines the UK political scene. In Nicola Sturgeon we have a leader who has the respect of other EU member states, unlike the boorish bragging bluster of Johnson.

It is of course up to the people of Scotland to decide the nature of the relationship that they want with the EU. There is a certain body of opinion within the independence movement which doesn’t want EU membership. We must not go into an independence referendum which is predicated upon EU membership for an independent Scotland, rather we must be making the point that it should be up to the people of an independent Scotland to decide whether they wish Scotland to be in the EU, or what sort of relationship that they want Scotland to have with the EU if we are not to be a full member.

However there is little doubt that there is currently a majority within Scotland which hopes to rejoin the EU, and even amongst those who wish to remain outwith the EU there is an appetite for a closer relationship with Europe than we’re going to get with the no-deal Brexit that Johnson and his cronies have in store for us.

What independence supporters need to make loud and clear to no voters who wanted to remain in the EU is that the quickest and surest way back into a closer relationship with the EU is through independence. If you valued freedom of movement throughout Europe, independence is the quickest and most reliable way to restore it. If you believe that the single market is vital for Scotland’s economic prospects, independence is the most direct route to getting it back. This is an issue which will loom even larger in people’s minds after the end of this year, when the transitional period ends and Johnson and his lying Brextremists have got what they wanted.

Scotland is a European nation, our future and our natural place in the world has been taken away from us by British nationalist exceptionalists. We can’t get it back by appealing to those same British nationalist exceptionalists. Only independence can achieve a normal Scotland. The EU will welcome us with open arms.


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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


 

The Tory threat to devolution

To be a Conservative means never accepting that you’re to blame for anything, ever. Today our part time Prime Minister has provoked anger and upset by claiming that the high death rate in care homes was due to care staff not following procedures. So it wasn’t anything to do with British Government policy which shunted elderly people out of hospitals and into care homes as quickly as possible without testing them for the virus, spreading the infection amongst the most vulnerable elderly people. Except in Scotland of course, where according to the Conservatives the exact same policy is indeed the government’s fault, because that would be the government led by Nicola Sturgeon.

It’s the same with the increasing support that we’ve seen recently for independence. Anyone who has been paying the slightest attention to Scottish politics over the past few years understands that the primary driver of increasing support for independence is the way in which Conservative led British Governments have treated Scotland with contempt. At least that is when they can be bothered even to acknowledge Scotland’s existence. Our part time Prime Minister is very fond of likening the four constituent parts of the UK to a band of superheroes. Scotland’s British superpower is invisibility.

At every step along the way during the Brexit process, Scotland was ignored and traduced. There was little if any effective consultation with the Scottish Government. The exact same pattern has repeated itself during this coronavirus epidemic. All too often the Scottish Government only discovers significant changes in UK government policy when Scottish ministers read about them in the newspapers along with everyone else.

The Scottish Government only discovered that the British Government was dropping its Stay At Home slogan when the news was briefed to a Conservative friendly newspaper. There was no consultation with Scotland or Wales about the British Government’s decision to introduce so called air bridges between the UK and other countries, avoiding the need for quarantine. Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told a House of Commons Committee recently that throughout the current crisis she has had almost no messages at all from the Scotland Office – the UK Government Department supposedly responsible for representing Scotland at the highest level of British Government. These are not isolated events. This represents a deliberate and conscious pattern of behaviour from the Conservatives.

The Conservatives seek to introduce strains in the devolution process in order to be able to claim that devolution isn’t working. They have never liked devolution, seeing it as a threat to their supremacy at Westminster. The Tories consistently opposed devolution all the way through the 1980s and 1990s, even though it was clearly the settled will of the Scottish people. They have continued to be opposed to devolution despite the fact that it’s only the proportional voting system of Holyrood which has allowed them to avoid electoral oblivion in Scotland. And now they seek to use Brexit and the coronavirus epidemic as excuses to weaken and undermine the powers of Holyrood.

Last year Michael Gove set in motion a grubby power grab when he unveiled plans to allow UK Government departments to spend money in devolved areas in order to “strengthen the Union”. The Conservatives imagined that the epidemic would make people in Scotland see that Scotland depended upon the UK and would weaken support for independence. They’ve been shocked and angered to see the opposite happen. How dare that Scottish Government be more competent and capable. How dare that Nicola Sturgeon enjoy greater public trust than Johnson.

Something must be done, and now the Conservatives are planning to introduce measures to undermine the powers of the devolved parliaments under the guise of “protecting the UK’s internal market” after the end of the transitional period when the UK is no longer tied to the EU. The Conservatives are proposing the introduction of a so called market impact test on legislation passed by Holyrood. Laws passed by the Scottish Parliament in future would have to be scrutinised by a unelected panel of British Government appointees who would assess whether new laws had an impact on the UK’s internal market. Any laws which were deemed by this unelected body to contravene UK Government regulations would be struck down. It would represent a direct assault on Scottish democracy by an unelected and undemocratic body of Conservative cronies.

There is no significant support in Scotland for a reduction in the powers of the Scottish Parliament. Indeed opinion polling consistently points in the opposite direction, people in Scotland want more power for Holyrood, not less. But that doesn’t stop the Conservatives. Opinion polls only need to be appealed to when they show results that the Conservatives can spin in their favour. The results of Scottish elections don’t matter either. Scottish democracy is merely a serving suggestion and not a fundamental right. Nothing is to be allowed to get in the way of the supreme right of a Conservative Government in Westminster to be absolutely sovereign throughout the UK. And if that’s not what the people of Scotland want, tough.

The Conservatives propose to respond to an increase in support for independence in Scotland by attempting to suppress Scottish democracy even further. They see devolution and calls for increased powers for Holyrood as the appeasement of an enemy. Scotland is not to be negotiated with. It’s not to be accommodated. It is to be crushed. Scotland is to be forced to love the UK by chains, compulsion, and punishment. It’s the 50 Shades of Gove, and it’s a strategy which will receive a critical reception in Scotland every bit as poor as the critical response to the movie.

It should be clear now that devolution is not safe within the UK. We have a government in Westminster which is deeply and viscerally antithetical to Scotland having any right or ability to make its own decisions, and which will do its utmost to undermine and weaken the existing devolution settlement. There is a universe in which this strategy might be successful for the Conservatives. But that’s a universe in which the Conservatives were more popular in Scotland than the other parties, a universe in which the Conservatives were competent and capable and were delivering policies that the people of Scotland actually wanted. That’s not the universe that we live in. It’s a sign of the Tories’ desperation and delusion that they think that it is.

All that’s going to happen is that support for independence will continue to strengthen as more people in Scotland come to realise that devolution is not safe. The entire purpose of devolution was to provide Scotland with a measure of protection from the malignity of Conservative rule. That’s why there was such a clamour for it after the long and bitter experience of the Thatcher and Major years. The Conservatives will not reconcile an increasingly pro-independence minded Scotland to the UK by dismantling it. They are only signing the death warrant of the preciousssss union that they claim to love.


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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 fate of Gaelic is in our hands

Last week a report was published which claimed that Gaelic is rapidly headed towards extinction in its remaining heartlands. This isn’t news to anyone who has been following the linguistic literature on language endangerment. Reports of the imminent extinction of the Gaelic language are not new, in 2000 a study by researchers from the Max Planck Institute in The Netherlands claimed that Gaelic, along with all other minority languages in Europe with fewer than 100,000 speakers, would be extinct by the end of this century. In the 2008 book The Encyclopedia of the World’s Endangered Languages by Christopher Mosley, a comprehensive listing for linguists of languages which are threatened with extinction, Scottish Gaelic was listed as ‘definitely endangered’. Back in the 1970s, the respected linguist WB Lockwood wrote in his book Languages of the British Isles Past and Present that Gaelic would die out during the 21st century.

The most recent report into the viability of the Gaelic language comes from University of the Highlands and Islands Sciences Institute and is entitled “The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community: A Comprehensive Sociolinguistic Survey of Scottish Gaelic”. A summary of the findings of the report is available here – http://www.soillse.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Research-NoteGe%C3%A0rr-BEURLA.pdf The report sparked off apocalyptic headlines claiming that the language would be extinct by the end of this decade and that it only had 11,000 elderly speakers remaining, but that’s not quite what it said exactly.

What the report found was that there is a crisis in the maintenance of Gaelic among those communities where until recently the language remained a majority language. In those communities there remain just 11000 people who habitually use the language in the traditionally Gaelic speaking communities of Staffin in Skye, the Western Isles, and the Isle of Tiree. The number of people who actually speak the language is far higher, but most of those people do not use the language as their primary means of expression and communication.

The report confirmed what observers of the language have noted for a long time. There is a marked reluctance among native Gaelic speakers to use the language, especially  the younger generations. This is a product of many generations of the language being deprecated, insulted, abused, underfunded, and at times actively persecuted. Scotland has not invested the social capital into the language which is required for its survival as the daily language of a distinct geographically based community.

These days when you visit traditionally Gaelic speaking areas, places where very recently the language was spoken by a substantial majority of residents, you often scarcely hear the language being spoken at all. On a trip to Islay a while ago, I didn’t hear anyone speaking Gaelic. The same happened on trips to Skye during the past couple of years. This is very different from a visit to the Welsh-speaking heartlands in the north and west of Wales. When visiting Caernarfon a couple of years ago, the Welsh language was widely spoken on the streets and when going into a shop the staff would naturally address customers in Welsh, only switching to English when it was clear I didn’t understand. That would never happen even in those remaining communities where Gaelic is still the language of the majority. Gaelic speakers never assume that a stranger speaks the language.

Some years ago a Welsh speaking friend was involved in a nursery school project in Scotland to establish immersion classes in Gaelic in nursery education. The idea was to introduce the Gaelic language to young children through play, the way that kids normally pick up their native language. The project employed a number of nursery teachers who were either native speakers of Gaelic or had native level fluency. My friend was shocked to discover that although the nursery teachers used Gaelic with the children in the class, on breaks they spoke English among themselves. This kind of experience is not unusual in the Gaelic speaking world.

There is a surge of interest in the Gaelic language in Scotland nowadays, however that surge has yet to translate into a substantial body of fluent speakers who are committed to passing on the language as a native tongue. The sad fact is that Scotland simply has not invested sufficient social capital in the language in order for this to happen.

In terms of language maintenance, social capital means a number of different things. Firstly it means education about the language and its importance. This is fundamental. You have to give people a reason to want to learn and use a language.  Personally I have never been in favour of compulsory Gaelic classes, but it should be compulsory for Scottish schools to educate children about the linguistic history of Scotland and the role that Gaelic, Scots and other languages have played in this country. That would mean at least we’d hear the end of people from towns and villages with clearly Gaelic names popping up and claiming that “Gaelic was never spoken here”. When there is a substantial group of people in a country who reject the historical truth that the language was once actually spoken across the great majority of Scotland, Gaelic is at an immediate disadvantage.

Education about the history of language in Scotland would mean an end to the “Polish klaxon”. Again whenever Gaelic is discussed someone pops up to claim that Polish has more speakers in Scotland than Gaelic does, and is therefore more important and deserving of institutional support. This ignores the obvious. Polish has millions of speakers in Poland, where the demographic and cultural heart of the Polish language lies. Polish speakers in Scotland can and should be encouraged and supported in efforts to maintain their language, but in order to do so they can make use of resources produced in Poland. There are books, movies, TV shows, music, internet sites, radio, podcasts, etc etc in the Polish language, all of which are available to the Polish community here in Scotland. Gaelic (and Scots) stands or falls by what is produced for it here in Scotland.

This brings us on to the most important form of social capital, resources in the language. Gaelic still lacks many fundamental and basic resources which are necessary for a language to survive and thrive. English has hundreds of TV channels, Gaelic has one part time one. There are few Gaelic novels. There are few Gaelic drama series. Gaelic language movies are all but non-existent. There is no Gaelic daily newspaper. Gaelic music is typically restricted to more traditional or traditionally influenced genres – that’s not going to appeal to a Gaelic speaking teenager who is in love with hip hop.

A capitalist system isn’t going to produce these resources for the Gaelic language. There simply isn’t profit in it. The only way to produce them is with massive government investment. It’s only when Gaelic speakers are able to access through the medium of Gaelic everything that their English speaking counterparts can access that we can hope to reverse the drift from Gaelic to English as the everyday spoken language. However in order to ensure that investment will not encounter protests from those who claim “but Polish!” or “Never spoken here!” there first needs to be investment in education about the importance of the language. The problem is that we’re running out of time to save Gaelic as a community language. Sadly, it’s probably already too late.

The good news is that Gaelic is not going to become extinct within the next decade. There will still be native speakers of the language, and there will still be people who have native or near native levels of fluency. There will still be families who are bringing their children up as Gaelic speakers. However what the language is going to lose, indeed what it’s already lost, are geographically based communities where it is expected that a majority of local residents are fluent in the language.

If we want to ensure that the future of Gaelic is something more than a heritage language which is only used symbolically, or that it has a future as a language with a large and confident body of speakers, it’s going to take a lot more assertiveness from the Scottish Government about promoting the language, and a greater willingness to challenge the wilfully ignorant who claim that Gaelic is a dead language and who are hell bent on ensuring that it does die out. The fate of Gaelic is in our hands.


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


Turning the corner

We’ve turned the corner. A new opinion poll out this weekend confirms that support for independence is at 54%, meaning that the previous poll showing support at that level was not a flash in the pan. It’s a real phenomenon and not a blip or a statistical outlier. We now live in a Scotland where support for independence is the established will of the people of Scotland. That’s a historic first. Even John Curtis, the world’s only polling expert according to the BBC, has stated that this is the first time that independence has enjoyed a consistent lead in the polls, and added that “never have the foundations of public support for the union looked so weak.”

The same poll also shows a historic high level in support for the SNP and the Greens at the next Holyrood election. The SNP would hoover up 55% of the votes in the constituency ballot, and 50% on the list. The Greens would take 3% in the constituency vote and 8% on the list. That would translate into 74 MSPs for the SNP, plus 9 for the Greens, giving pro-independence parties 83 seats in Scotland’s 129 seat Parliament. Parties of independence would secure a majority of seats and a majority of the popular vote in both the constituency ballot and the list ballot.

Scotland is on track for independence, in a way that it wasn’t even during the 2014 independence referendum campaign. This is now a country where a consistent majority are in support of indpendence, and where the long term demographic changes in the country only point to that support increasing over time. Brexit remains hypothetical for most people, especially the majority who don’t follow politics closely. Support for independence will only increase once the reality of Brexit starts to make itself felt. Importantly, now that independence is the majority view, there will be a tendency for people to align themselves with the winning side. Crucially there are now large and significant numbers former no voters in Scotland who support independence. This cohort is the best placed to convert other soft no and wavering voters to support for independence as they have made the same journey themselves. When someone on the fence sees that others that the know who were also previously on the fence have now come out in support for independence, they too will be more likely to embrace independence. The dam is breaking and it’s washing away support for British nationalism.

Westminster saying “no” is not solution to this problem. It’s simply a delaying tactic. Yet the longer that Westminster continues to deny the democratic right of Scotland to have a say on its own future, the more that support for independence is going to increase. It’s not politically sustainable indefinitely.

What makes it worse for the Tories is that there is a large and significant body of support within their own party for Scotland to go its own way. A recent poll found that 49% of Conservative voters in England would prefer English independence. They believe the stories that Scotland is economically dependent upon “English taxes”, and they believe that they’d be better off without a nation which resents Brexit and which in their eyes constantly seeks to undermine the purity of their sunlit uplands, bunting, and British nationalist nostalgia. This means that Conservative opposition to another independence referendum is not as solid and unyielding as the Conservatives want us to believe it is. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by them. Their opposition is hollow and fragile.

This is easily the biggest political story in the UK just now. It’s a story which spells the eventual demise of the UK in its current form, but it’s scarcely registering in Westminster. It is clear now that the events of the past few months have convinced people in Scotland that this country could do far better as an independent country and that our interests are only being damaged by a chaotic and incompetent British government which is fixated on Brexit at all costs and which has been responsible for allowing the UK to become the European state which has suffered the highest death toll from the virus combined with the greatest economic damage.

Of course it’s not just because of the coronavirus epidemic that support for independence is growing. It’s also because it’s becoming increasingly clear to everyone, especially to many of those who voted no in 2014, that the UK we were told that Scotland could be a part of is a UK that does not exist. We were promised a strengthened and entrenched devolution, instead we see a Conservative government which has always been hostile to devolution which is using Brexit as a weapon to undermine the devolution settlement. Instead of being a secure part of the EU Scotland has been torn out of it against its will and without being allowed any influence into shaping the form that Brexit takes. The promise that Scotland depended upon the UK to guarantee tolerance, moderation, and the highest democratic standards is left in tatters in a UK dominated by a right wing populist Conservative party whose actions only serve to empower and embolden the British nationalist extremists who created violent havoc in Glasgow’s streets. We were told in 2014 that this was a debate between nationalists who wanted independence and non-nationalists who opposed it. We now see that the most dangerous and intolerant form of nationalism in Scotland is British nationalism.

A Labour party which imagines that all the above can be fixed by insisting that Scotland cannot be allowed to decide upon its own future is a Labour party which is not reading the room. A large number of Labour voters in Scotland would back independence, they’re not going to be won back to a Labour party which doubles down on opposition to independence and opposition to allowing the people of Scotland to express their views democratically.

Everything is starting to fall into place for a referendum where 60% support independence. That’s never happened before. As the people of Scotland become bolder and more convinced that independence is the way forward for this country, so the SNP leadership will become more assertive and confident in pursuing independence. After all, there’s little point in demanding an independence referendum if you’re only going to lose it. Scotland is now in a place where we’re going to win, and that’s before an official campaign has even started, before many people in Scotland have started to engage with the issues. And we’re up against a British government whose denials and noes are merely a cover for its own fragility and hollowness. Our time is coming.

 


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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


Where there’s a will

Yesterday the Scottish Government announced that in the previous 24 hours there had been 1 death from covid-19 in the country. There was one death in Wales, and two in Northern Ireland. There were 133 deaths overnight in England. (Source : https://www.travellingtabby.com/scotland-coronavirus-tracker/) If the death rate in England was the same as it was in Scotland at the moment, there would only be about 12 deaths daily from the virus. Instead there are ten times as many.

The Scottish Government assessment is that the prevalence of the virus among the population is five times lower in Scotland than it currently is in England which means that you are five times more likely to encounter an infected person in England in a shop or a public space than you are in Scotland. So guess where pubs, bars, restaurants, and cinemas have reopened today and where people can travel freely and associate in greater numbers. Why, that would be England.

The Wetherspoons chain, whose multi-millionaire Brexit backing boss told staff at the beginning of lockdown that they would remain unpaid until he received financial aid from the government and that they could apply for jobs with Tesco, is reopening with the help of a £48 million loan from the British Government.

We learned today that there have been more deaths from covid 19 in the UK than even in the UK Government’s own worst case prediction. In the scenarios modelled by the British Government’s scientific advisory body SAGE said in March this year that 20,000 deaths between March and September 2020 would be a “good” outcome. It’s now been revealed that in the same document SAGE warned that in a worst case scenario there could be 50,000 deaths from covid-19 over the same period. It’s only the beginning of July but the official death toll is currently at 44,000 and estimates from the Office of National Statistics show that the UK had already exceeded 50,000 deaths by June. Other reliable estimates which measure so-called excess deaths claim that the true figure is already well in excess of 60,000.

Despite the undoubted fact that the Scottish Government, after a rocky start, has got a far better handle on dealing with the epidemic than the British Government, the Scottish Conservatives are not at all happy. Admittedly that’s a statement of the obvious, saying that the Scottish Conservatives are not happy with the Scottish Government is a bit like saying that Lex Luthor is unhappy with Superman. They’d be unhappy if the Scottish Government was doing poorly, and they’d be unhappy if the Scottish Government was doing well. But then being a British nationalist in Scotland is very much an exercise in being miserable.

What’s particularly getting the goat of some of the Tories just now is that the Scottish Government perversely and obstinately insists on holding daily press conferences presented by the First Minister where she presents the latest information to the public about the virus in Scotland and takes questions from the media. According to Scottish Twitter’s favourite cause of face palming, Murdo Fraser, it’s high time that the daily party political broadcast stopped. It’s free publicity for the SNP, he harrumphed, in search of free publicity for himself.

The complaint is not unrelated to the way in which the public accessibility of the First Minister is boosting public support and trust in the Scottish Government, while the Scottish public is increasingly distrustful and disenchanted with Johnson’s administration in Westminster. Since Murdo can’t actually do anything to make Boris Johnson even halfway competent, all he’s got left is carping about someone who’s doing their job a whole lot better. Actually, no one could help Boris Johnson to come within several light years of basic competence, not even Spock with a warp drive. It would be like expecting a sewer rat to give classes in dental hygiene. You can be quite certain that had the First Minister done what Murdo was pouting about, and had stopped her daily press briefings, Murdo would have been the first to accuse her of hiding from public scrutiny. See what I mean about Scottish Tories always being miserable.

Boris Johnson has long since given up any pretence of giving enough of a toss to deliver weekly press conferences, never mind daily ones. He can barely be bothered enough to do anything other than go through the mumbling motions at Prime Minister’s Questions once a week in the House of Commons. There is now a suggestion that the British Government will be recruiting a media professional to deliver its messaging given that Boris Johnson is incapable of starting a coherent sentence never mind finishing one. Many of us in Scotland, and indeed elsewhere will be wondering why they need to do that. Doesn’t the BBC already have that job?

What’s really worrying the Conservative branch office in Scotland is that the Scottish Government isn’t just more effective in dealing with the virus, it’s also far more effective in its public messaging. That’s why, according to a poll published this weekend, some three quarters of people in Scotland would support restrictions on people crossing the border between Scotland and England should it be necessary for public health. Even 45% of Conservative voters in Scotland were supportive of the idea. People in Scotland, even those currently opposed to independence, trust in the Scottish Government to keep them safe from the virus in a way that they don’t trust Boris Johnson and are quite prepared to see checks on the Scottish border in order to ensure public safety. That’s anathema to the Conservatives. Their dire warnings about border checks as a consequence of independence lose a lot of their effect if there are border checks while Scotland is still a part of the UK.

Scotland is slipping away from Westminster’s grasp. The people of Scotland are transferring their trust and confidence from Westminster to Holyrood to deal even with “the big stuff”. That’s an important and historic shift. For all that the independence movement frets about the process of how we get a referendum it’s the change of public attitudes on the ground which is really important. Scotland is becoming a country which is confident in its own ability to look after itself, to solve its own problems, and to take care of its people. People in Scotland, even those who are still not fully on board with independence, no longer feel that Scotland needs Westminster to look after it. Indeed, increasingly they are coming to the opinion that Westminster is endangering us, holding us back, and acting as a brake on our potential. It’s that seismic shift in public attitudes and Scottish confidence which will take us to independence.

Remember the saying, where there’s a will there’s a way. It’s only now that Scotland is becoming a country where there’s a will.


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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 Dugcast fae the Dughoose – with Andrew Tickell

Welcome to the July 3 edition of the Dugcast fae the Dughoose. This week I am joined online by Andrew Tickell, otherwise known as Lallans Peat Worrier. Andrew is a law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University and columnist for The National. He gives us an explanation of the legal issues around a referendum without a Section 30 order. We also chat about the issues facing British nationalists as they desperately try (and fail) to find a new rationale for the ‘Union’, and a whole lot more besides.

We lost the connection briefly about 10 minutes in but it was soon restored. I hope it doesn’t spoil your listening pleasure too much.

Direct link to the podcast in case the embedding doesn’t work for you – click here : https://soundcloud.com/user-291670852/dugcast-03-07-2020-with-andrew-tickell


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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 border of human decency

borderofdecency
Scotland, you don’t exist. For years people have been walking around and thinking that they were Scottish, talking with Scottish accents – or trying not to talk with a Scottish accent if you’re Michael Gove – eating potato scones and drinking Irn Bru, arguing about just how crappy BBC Scotland is, living under an ancient and distinctive legal system, voting for a Scottish Parliament, and other assorted Caledonianness. Yet all this time we’ve been deluding ourselves. None of it is real. We are in fact a subspecies of the Northern Northern English. Thank you Boris Johnson for clearing that up for us. We’ll now stop with all this independence nonsense and get back to important stuff, like writing to the BBC to demand more repeats of England’s World Cup victory in 1966 on the telly, because they’re so self-effacing about it and hardly ever mention it.

According to our part time Prime Minister speaking at PMQs in Westminster yesterday, there is no border between Scotland and England. He made the point in response to a question from Aberdeenshire toady Andrew Bowie MP, who wanted to know on a scale of 91 to 100 just how outraged Johnson was that Thatessempee wasn’t going to rule out imposing quarantine measures or health checks on travellers crossing the Anglo-Scottish border. Was he extremely outraged, hugely, outraged, or merely just very outraged. Definitely far more outraged than he was about the fact that he’d presided over a government whose chaos and incompetence had led to the deaths of over 60,000 of its citizens, but Andrew was going to take that as a given because neither he nor his boss is outraged about that at all. What they are outraged about is the fact that there’s a government in the UK which is handling matters in a considerably more competent way and giving them a showing up. Andrew wanted to know whether Johnson was as incensed as he was that the Scottish Government’s perverse insistence on saving people’s lives was bad for business.

You know what else is bad for tourism Andrew? People dying. Most business owners will tell you that having their customers die on them is not generally regarded as a good way of doing business. And when those customers bring a virus with them which then spreads amongst the local population and kills them, there’s going to be no one to operate and open all the local attractions that the visitors have come to see. But hey, never mind all that dying horribly from a dreadful disease nonsense, those public health measures are getting between Andrew and what he really loves -which would be knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing, least of all the value of a human life.

Johnson said that he found talk of enforcing health checks on travellers crossing the border to be ‘shameful’. This is the sort of thing that only a person who is themselves utterly shameless could say. If health checks are necessary for public health reasons it would be shameful is when you don’t introduce them for political reasons, because you value the supposed unity of the UK more than you value the lives of its citizens. That is properly shameful, but then Tories don’t really understand shame. They only understand their own entitlement and their own anger at being challenged.

“There is no such thing as a border between England and Scotland,” Johnson went on with all the confidence of a man who thinks that atlas is a fragrance for men that covers up the sour stench that comes from not having a sense of shame. Wee Andrew sat down, looking extremely smug, like that shitty kid in class who just before the bell goes makes sure to remind the teacher that they were supposed to be setting double homework. Those lips couldn’t be pursed into a more self-satisfied smile if they’d been stapled to the net curtains that Andrew twitches when he’s not at work. Everyone needs a hobby, and the Conservative society for pulling wings off flies has a very long waiting list for membership.

So there you go Scotland, you don’t really exist. And there was you thinking that there must be some way of defining what was part of Scotland and what wasn’t, you know, maybe some sort of line that you could draw on a map. They could call it a border. Nicola Sturgeon pointed out the absurdity of Johnson’s statement by remarking that Johnson would have plenty to say if she popped up in Newcastle and started to impose Scottish Government policies there. Although the people of Newcastle might not object too much.

Interestingly enough, the British Government was quite rapid in imposing checks on the border between Scotland and England after the Stone of Destiny was recovered from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students in the 1950s. Border checks for the purposes of protecting a symbol of Scotland’s subjugation are just fine, border checks for the purposes of protecting human lives are not. There’s some very British values for you there.

There are of course several reasons why Johnson doesn’t wish to acknowledge the possibility that there may come a time when health checks are necessary on people crossing into Scotland from England. Along with his fellow British nationalists, he’s appalled by any idea that people might see that it’s perfectly possible for their to be some sort of checks along the Scottish-English border and for people in Scotland to realise that it doesn’t mean the end of the world. It would destroy their “but there will be border checks at Gretna” argument against independence if there are border checks at Gretna while Scotland remains a part of the UK.

He’s even more concerned that health checks being imposed upon travellers coming into Scotland from England would mean that Scotland and the Scottish Government is proving far more successful than his own government in its efforts to control and contain the virus. Every check on every traveller coming into Scotland from England is a sign that Johnson has failed. Every check on a traveller coming into Scotland from England means that Scotland is more successful at controlling the epidemic. Every check on a traveller coming into Scotland from England is a sign that the Scottish Government cares more about human life than the Conservatives do.

But what he’s most concerned about is that a Scotland whose public trust in the Scottish Government during a global crisis far more than it trusts in the British Government is a Scottish public that’s already halfway out the independence door. The Scottish public, despite the carping of Scottish Tories in the Commons and on social media, broadly supports the more cautious approach of the Scottish Government, and increasingly it is coming to support independence. The more that the Tories double down on their hardline British nationalism, the more support for independence is only going to grow. The border between Scotland and England will once again become a border between two independent states, and that will come about in no small measure because Johnson and the rest of his party all too frequently cross the border of common human decency.


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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


They’re just not that into you

It’s a hard life being a Scottish Tory. There you are, doing your utmost to be subservient and telling everyone and anyone that Scotland is a pathetic bankrupt mess that depends utterly on the good graces of the British Government in order to be able to wipe its own arse. You go on social media, and share prettily coloured graphs which purport to prove that Scotland is financially worse off than Moldova, only with worse weather. You spend your time and energies in trying to persuade the world and yourself that your own country is a pathetic basket case which only managed to struggle into normality once it had hitched its wagon to the British Empire and reduced its identity to wearing a kilt at a wedding or during the Edinburgh Tattoo. And you prove your Scottishness by naming your son Alister or Rory, carefully misspelled because we’ll be having none of that Gaelic orthography nonsense that might confuse the Ruperts, the Sebastians, the Borises, and the Nigels.

You torture your vowels and speak with the strangulated voice of a person who’s desperately trying to hide their true origins. You scoff at Gaelic and Scots as a dead language and as uneducated neddish slang respectively. You get more offended at the sight of Gaelic on a road sign or a police car than you are at the thought that an important part of Scotland’s culture, history, and identity might disappear forever. Yet you’re the first to insist that history matters, to give a donation to Neil Oliver’s National Trust. Because history only matters when it’s British, when it’s safe, when it doesn’t challenge the supremacy of the British state. The state that has given you and your upper middle class family a comfortable life.

You spend your days on social media insisting that there’s no border between Scotland and England and that if the Scottish Government introduces health checks and quarantine measures on people travelling from England into Scotland it’s a sign of disease with far worse consequences than a coronavirus which only kills people or leaves them with permanent lung damage – it is the disease of Scottish confidence which causes British nationalists in Scotland to feel terribly offended. We’re looking at you there, Andrew Bowie MP. Andrew thinks that imposing health checks on travellers from England is a form of ‘othering’ motivated by vile anti-English racism. God knows what he thinks of his own government othering the people of Leicester which is apparently the city with the highest proportion of Hindus in England. By Andrew’s logic imposing a local lockdown in Leicester is motivated by religious prejudice against Hindus.

You wave a union fleg and march down the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities singing lustily of your hatred for cafflicks and god saving the queen. But you’re not a bigot, because culture. Your logic is the logic that says that something that’s morally reprehensible cannot be morally reprehensible because your parents and grandparents did it too. And besides, you’re British, and being British gives you a free pass from exclusive nationalism. Nationalism is what those tarriers do, those nats, those separatists. Then you go and stand in George Square to defend statues because statues’ lives matter but the lives of your living and breathing fellow citizens who may be a different race from you, or from a different religious tradition, not so much. You struggle on a miserable wage, but these days it’s all the fault of the foreigners and the migrants and the Muslims, just as in your grandfather’s day it was all the fault of the Irish and the Catholics. And you wave your union fleg and sing God Save the Queen.

You do all this, you hate your own country, you ape the language and culture of your neighbours, and then you discover that the object of your affections despises you for it. An opinion poll carried out for Yes Cymru that was published this week found that almost a half, 49%, of Conservative voters in England want English independence. They have heard you talk about how Scotland needs their tax money, and they believe you. You do all this for them, and now you find that they’re just not that into you. The rest of us would feel sorry for you if it were not for the fact that you’ve brought it all upon yourselves, Scottish Tories. It’s only what you deserve.

It’s not just in Scotland where support for independence is growing. However in England it’s Conservative voters, older voters, pro-Brexit voters, who are most likely to support an England that divests itself of those rebellious and cantankerous Celtic nations which stand between England and a pure Brexit. It means that there is a very large and very significant body of Conservative support and membership which is not desperate to hang on to Scotland.

In Scotland we always think that the refusal of Westminster to cooperate with an independence referendum will be absolute and unyielding, but we sometimes forget that the British Government is not composed of political giants. It’s made up of short termist pygmies like Boris Johnson. People like Johnson would not stand in the way of Scottish independence if he thought that it would serve to boost his standing and position in England. And now we know that half of his own English voters would not want a Scottish independence referendum to be blocked. The position of Westminster is not as hard and unyielding it wants Scotland’s independence supporters to believe that it is. It is hollowed out from within.

The resolve of a Westminster Conservative government which sees half of its own support base wishing for Scotland to go away in order not to pollute the purity of their Brexit and because they believe that we’re a drain on their resources is not going to withstand a concerted campaign from Scotland for another referendum. When the Scottish Government has the moral and political authority from the people of Scotland to pursue a referendum by another route, Westminster is quite likely to cave in in order to maintain a semblance of remaining in control of events. The Scottish Government will have that authority after pro-independence parties win a crushing majority in the next Scottish elections. We will be pushing against a British Government whose unionism is hollow, fragile, and brittle.

Meanwhile spare a thought for those poor British nationalists in Scotland. All that their subservience, miserabilism, and claims that Scotland is too poor and too helpless have achieved is to make England turn against them. It serves them right, and it’s our opportunity.


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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

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Economic stimulus meh

The part time Prime Minister did some work on Tuesday. He gave a speech in the English Midlands annoucing his big plan to boost the UK economy so it can recover from the effects of the pandemic. Although touted as a big speech, as major announcements, as the British equivalent of Franklin D Roosevelt’s American New Deal in the 1930s, the speech and its contents can handily be summarised in one short word. That word is ‘meh’.

The speech promised £5 billion in investment, but critics were quick to point out that much of this is not new money. It’s simply existing investment plans which have hurriedly been rebranded. This is despite the fact that the UK has suffered the greatest economic ill effects from the epidemic of any state in Europe. https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/imf-coronavirus-economy-growth-global-uk-outlook-report-june-gdp-us-132759279.html The International Monetary Fund has predicted that the UK will suffer an economic contraction of 10.2% this year. The UK Government’s own figures published this week showed that the UK economy contracted by 2.2% in the first three months of 2020 alone. It was the sharpest fall in economic activity for over 40 years. It’s going to take a lot more than £5 billion in rebranded existing commitments to get the UK out of the hole into which the carelessness of the Conservatives has consigned it.

To put the UK Government’s much touted investment plan into context, £5 billion is less than one tenth of the amount that’s being spent on HS2, the high speed rail link between London and Birmingham. It’s a quarter of the cost of London’s Crossrail project. Compared to the economic damage done by the pandemic, the investment that is being promised by Boris Johnson amounts to a sticking plaster on a broken leg.

£5 billion comes nowhere near to giving the economy the boost that is required after a shock of the magnitude of the epidemic. Germany, which has succeeded in coming through the crisis with far fewer deaths and far less economic damage than the UK, has announced a new economic stimulus plan worth €130 billion – approximately £118 billion. The sum works out at some 4% of the entire German economy. https://www.ft.com/content/335b5558-41b5-4a1e-a3b9-1440f7602bd8 The German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier described the plan as “the biggest stimulus program of all time”. Unlike the boosterism of Johnson, he actually means it and he’s going to put the government’s money where his mouth is. France has already announced €110 billion of economic support for the French economy. These figures dwarf the paltry amount promised by Boris Johnson today. They represent the kind of government spending on investment and infrastructure which is going to be required to ensure that a depression is avoided.

Scotland’s share of the investment money promised by the British Government will work out at approximately £500 million. That’s but a fraction of the £6 billion plan that the Scottish Government announced last week, a plan which requires the UK Government to agree to extend the borrowing powers of the Scottish Parliament. Which is something that it’s not going to do. Given the relative sizes of the German and Scottish populations, the Scottish Government’s planned recovery borrowing and investment program would be of a similar magnitude to the German plan. Instead we’re going to be consigned to the slow lane and will get what the British Government decides. It’s going to be nowhere near what it required to give the Scottish economy the boost it needs in order to avoid large scale job losses and lasting economic damage. This must be one of those union benefits that they keep telling us about.

This is as clear an example of how Scotland’s growth and potential is being held back by the British state as you’re going to get. As an independent country Scotland would not be constrained by the need to ask Westminster’s permission – only to be turned down – in order to develop and implement an economic stimulus and recovery plan such as every other independent European nation has been able to do. The Scottish Government could have borrowed the money that it needed, just as other governments borrow money, or could have created it by fiat if Scotland had its own currency, and used that money in order to develop and grow the Scottish economy. The costs of borrowing would then be repaid by the increased economic activity and the increased revenues which the investment and stimulus program would generate.

Instead what’s going to happen is that Westminster will pass on the meagre £500 million or so in Barnett consequentials to Scotland and tell us that we’re getting a grant from the British taxpayer. The money will be added to the notional deficit that Scotland is told that it is encumbered with, and British nationalists will use it as yet more spurious proof that Scotland is too poor to look after itself. Already British nationalists are demanding to know how Scotland could have coped with the epidemic without the money ‘given’ to us by the British Government.

The truth is that the British Government hasn’t given Scotland anything at all. Any extra money will have to be repaid one way or another. All that the UK is doing is borrowing on the international markets, or borrowing from the Bank of England which is entirely owned by the UK Government, and then adding that money to the UK’s national debt. Watch out for the next set of GERS statistics, because they’re going to show that Scotland’s notional debt and deficit have increased substantially. British nationalists will crow about this and cite it as evidence that Scotland needs the UK. In fact it proves no such thing. All it proves is that governments need to borrow during a crisis. The point is not that governments need to borrow, it’s how that money is spent.

An independent Scotland could just as easily borrow for itself, then it would be in control of how much is required and how it is spent in order to maximise revenues and economic activity.  That increased economic activity and the increased tax revenues that it generates for the Scottish Government allows the borrowing to be paid off.  The choice for Scotland is not the choice between free money from the UK or independent penury. It’s a choice between being in control of Scottish Government borrowing and expenditure, or not being in control of it.

As a part of the UK Scotland will struggle to recover from the economic impact of this crisis. As an independent nation we’d be in charge of our own recovery efforts and could ensure that our economy received a stimulus package designed specifically for Scotland’s needs. We can have a British economic stimulus meh, or a Scottish turbo charged recovery.


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