Lies, damned lies, and newspaper headlines

When you see a newspaper headline that baldly states, “Court rules fracking is not banned, despite SNP rhetoric,” what are you going to think? What are you going to think happened in court this week when you know that the chemical giant Ineos has been taking legal action to challenge the Scottish Government on fracking and has been seeking a legal judgement allowing it to go ahead with fracking in Scotland? It’s not looking good for a fracking free Scotland, is it.

Judging from that headline, which appeared in the Herald on Tuesday, you’re going to think that the court found for Ineos and the prohibition on fracking in Scotland has been overturned. Fracking isn’t banned, says the headline. SNP very very bad, says the headline. Ooooh get that Nicola Sturgeon telling us all a big fat lie, eh, eh. Let’s go down the pub and get all worked up about it. Never mind any of that Westminster contempt for the people of Scotland and their destruction of the devolution settlement. Nicola Sturgeon has been lying about fracking! It said so in a Scottish newspaper headline. It’s the pineapple that every gammon craves.

Based on that headline you’re going to think that the courts have given the green light to the fracking industry in Scotland. That was precisely my first thought when I saw it. You’re going to think that the Scottish Government has been deceiving you when it has said that there will be no fracking in Scotland, and you are most certainly being encouraged to get annoyed with the Scottish Government for claiming that there will be no fracking in Scotland only for it to turn out now that a judge with a wig and everything has said there’s no ban on fracking after all. And we all know how important pronouncements are when they’re made by men in wigs, at least those of us who’ve been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race on Netflix. The shade of it all honey. That’s the only reasonable interpretation of that headline. Cue major harrumphage, SNPBaddery, and British nationalists posting their outrage on social media.

Only this is the through the mirror wonderland of British nationalist newspaper headlines in Scotland, that topsy turvy world where words are carefully chosen to give the opposite impression of what really happened without technically telling an out and out porkie. It’s the careful selection of some facts in order to create an impression that is counterfactual, which is achieved by omitting some rather more important facts. It’s the media equivalent of responding to an advert for Portugal versus Morocco world cup seats for £150 a pop, only instead of getting a ticket to the match the postie comes to your door with a parcel containing a broken old deck chair to which has been stapled an A4 sheet of paper saying “Portugal v Morocco World Cup” written in crayon – so exactly like a British nationalist newspaper headline in Scotland then. It’s not technically a lie, but you’re still going to feel that you were misled and deceived and cheated, because you have indeed been misled and deceived and cheated.

In fact, as opposed to the deliberately misleading selective factoids of the Herald headline, the court upheld the position of the Scottish government, and found against Ineos. The judge ruled that Ineos’s legal challenge was based upon a “series of fundamental misunderstandings of the Scottish Government’s position”.

As any fewl no, or at least anyone who has been paying attention to the division between devolved and retained powers ought to know, which really should include Scottish newspapers, energy policy is retained by Westminster. That means that the Scottish Government doesn’t have the legal power to directly ban fracking, instead the Scottish Government is using planning regulations, which it does control, to effectively ban fracking. No local authority in Scotland can grant permission for any planning application for fracking that comes before it. That was the situation last week, it’s the situation this week, and will remain the situation for the indefinite future. There will be no fracking in Scotland. There is no legal ban on fracking in Scotland, that much of the Herald’s headline is true, but there is an effective and practical ban on fracking in Scotland because the Scottish Government is blocking one of the key steps that must be taken in order for fracking to happen.

It’s a bit like if a maw tells her teenage son that he’s not going to a festival because he got rat arsed with his pals last week and she doesn’t trust him not to do it again, so she confiscates his car keys and demands the immediate repayment of the money he owes her for his car insurance. He’s not technically banned from going to the festival and getting rat arsed in a field, but without his car keys he’s not going to be able to get there and because he’s had to pay his car insurance he’s not got any money to get there or to buy a ticket or to get rat arsed if he does. There’s no legal ban on him going to the festival, but he’s still not going to get there. He’s effectively banned from going to the festival and getting rat arsed in a field. Which is a pity, because it’s a very pretty field now that we can be certain that it won’t be getting fracked. The Scottish media wants us to focus on a selectively literal interpretation, and not on the effective outcome.

Then the press wonders why people get annoyed about being lied to and are losing faith in the media. In response certain Scottish newspaper reporters take to Twatter to patronise the public and explain in exasperated tones that proper journalism means it’s the punters who are wrong for imagining that there’s anything misleading going on at all. Cos only professionally trained journalists are qualified to understand what words really mean and if you point out that a headline gives the exact opposite impression of what happened in yer actual fact then you’re exactly the same as Donald Trump and the only thing distinguishing you from the Child Snatching US Prez is your lack of an orange skin and the fact that you haven’t yet been to B&Q to buy the chicken wire to construct a cage to put your neighbour’s weans in. Cos the orange people in Scotland are all on the side of UK and think Ruth Davidson is just great, and she’s pregnant and you’re not allowed to criticise pregnant politicians.

So you’ve not been misled at all, you’re just either really stupid, or a vile cybernat with a badly fitting kilt and a foul agenda, or you’re possibly an agent of Vladimir Putin. Or all three simultaneously. And it’s pretty certain that criticising a Scottish newspaper headline for being misleading means that you’re just a bawhair short of building a chicken wire cage at Gretna to put English weans in. You racist. When you’re a professional journalist you know these things.

And when you’re a member of the public in Scotland, you know that our overwhelmingly British nationalist media isn’t fit for purpose. You also know that the job of the independence movement is to act as an alternative media, and to support the pro-indy media that we do have. It’s up to all of us to tell our friends, relatives, and acquaintances the truth that the Scottish media doesn’t want to tell us. Let’s get loud.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


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Accept no substitutes

In recent days there’s been a suggestion on social media that there’s some wizzard wheeze that means that Scotland can legally unchain itself from Westminster rule and leap free in a single bound. This kind of thing surfaces pretty often amongst certain circles within the Scottish independence movement. This time the claim is that because the Scottish Parliament’s EU Continuity Bill has been referred to the UK Supreme Court, if the UK Supreme Court finds against the Scottish Parliament, as seems likely, this will count as a breach of the Treaty of Union of 1707 as the independence of Scots Law is guaranteed by the Treaty and the UK Supreme Court can’t overrule Scots Law. And that in turn, according to the claim, means that the Treaty of Union is null and void and we’re independent already without having to do anything more about it.

Sadly it’s not true. Much as those of us who yearn for independence would like it to be so, there is no legalistic trick to becoming independent, there is no magic bullet, no incantation or spell chanted in a court of law. There is only the long hard slog of persuading people, talking to people, campaigning, working our wee socks off, and seeking a majority for independence in a national ballot. That’s the only way in which Scotland will become independent, when the people of Scotland clearly and unequivocally state through the ballot box that a majority of the electorate want independence. There are no short cuts. There is no clever clever legal trick.

There is a very broad strain of these legalistic arguments within the Scottish independence movement. They arise because of the unique way in which Scotland ended up as a part of the UK. Unlike Wales or Ireland, which were conquered, Scotland entered the UK, indeed helped to create the UK, via an international treaty between two independent states – the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England together with its appurtenances and possessions. This history means that Scots have a very strong sense that we are a partner in a union, a sense which is clearly not shared by the British Government. The feeling is that if we are a partner, then we have rights and when those rights are breached then the basis for the union lies undone. But the reality is that the campaign for Scottish independence isn’t a legal campaign. It’s a political campaign. And we will only win Scottish independence by winning the political argument.

These legalist claims are the independence movement equivalent of wishing for a huge lottery win to solve all your financial issues instead of having to go to work every day to earn money to pay down your credit card. It’s wishful thinking. It’s a fantasy. And fundamentally it’s a distraction from the real work we need to do.

However even if it were true that the Treaty of Union lies undone by a decision of the Supreme Court to negate a bill passed by the Scottish Parliament, those who’ve been making the claim on social media themselves concede that the Supreme Court decision wouldn’t by itself make Scotland independent. What it would do, according to those making the claim, would be to give the Scottish Parliament the legal right to declare UDI. The chances of that happening are so close to zero as makes no practical difference. The Scottish Parliament will only declare Scottish independence when it has a political mandate to do so. The only way that the Scottish Parliament can have a mandate for independence is when the people of Scotland are expressly asked via the ballot box to give their view on the matter, and a majority opt for independence.

This brings us to another but related issue. Let’s accept for the sake of argument that it is possible to make some legal claim that demontrates that the Treaty of Union is null and void. The whole basis of these legalistic claims to Scottish independence is that in Scotland it’s the people who are sovereign. So is it not a bit contradictory to claim that Scotland can become independent without actually asking the people? Where lies the sovereignty of the Scottish people if independence is imposed as a result of a legal decision and is not the outcome of a popular vote?

Even if the Scottish Parliament was prepared to make a declaration of UDI, something which would negate decades of SNP strategy, UDI would be the worst possible birth of an independent Scotland. We saw the violence of the far-right British nationalist bigots in George Square after the independence referendum. A declaration of UDI would run the risk of converting that fringe into a mass campaign of organised violence. It would run the risk of the involvement of the British armed forces, and a violent response in reply. That’s not something that any sensible person should want.

There would also be considerable disquiet amongst that substantial part of the Scottish population which doesn’t support independence because they would feel that there is no democratic justification for independence, that their rights have been trampled on, that independence was being declared without the consent of a majority of the Scottish population. They would not recognise the legitimacy of the new state, and it’s highly unlikely that the Westminster Parliament would either. If Westminster doesn’t recognise the newly declared independent Scotland, the chances are that no other state would either.

Talking about clever legal tricks on social media is all well and good, it might make us feel better and rouse our righteous indignation, but it’s not going to get us any closer to an independent Scotland. In fact it risks damaging our cause because it makes us appear as fantasists and conspiracy theorists. That’s not a good look, and it doesn’t help to bring undecided people over to our side. It doesn’t make independence seem credible and realistic.

The only way in which we can achieve independence is when everyone in Scotland accepts the legitimacy of independence, and that means those people who are opposed to independence as well as those of us who currently believe in it. There is only one way in which that can be achieved, and that’s through the ballot box. There are no short cuts. Let’s concentrate on the hard work, the real work, of achieving independence. That’s only going to happen because of a vote in which the majority declare support for independence. Accept no substitutes.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
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Katie Price and the smouldering squirrel

This week’s Sunday newspapers in Scotland were all devoted the serious issues which assail the country. There’s the utter disarray and confusion about Brexit in which both the Conservatives and Labour are mired as the clock is ticking and time is running out to reach a position that the EU will consent to. There’s the shameful way in which Theresa May has lied to and deceived Remainer Tory MPs and her constant attempts to avoid and evade the scrutiny of that parliament we’re always being told is sovereign. There’s the naked contempt with which Scotland’s devolution settlement is being treated by the Westminster government. There’s the sneering, the catcalls, the abuse from the Tory backbenches at the very idea that Scotland should demand to be heard, like Roman patricians booing barbarians offered for sacrifice in the gladitorial ring. There’s the replacement of the respect agenda with spite and malice. There’s the incredulity from the Brexicommetariat British press that Scotland should even imagine that it’s anything other than a region of a Greater England. There’s David Mundell’s unilateral rewriting of the Sewel Convention and his insistance that Scotland isn’t a partner but a part – and a bit part at that. There’s the surge in support for the SNP and the party’s new determination to play hardball. There’s the Vow being finally killed off and buried by the man who wrote it. There’s the full blown constitutional crisis in which we now find ourselves, and the new energy and enthusiasm which is animating the Yes movement.

Oh no, wait. They scarcely mentioned any of that at all. There are far more important issues for the people of Scotland according to our totally representative media – which is representative of Scottish opinion in the exact same way that Theresa May is. Take for example the Sun’s Scottish edition, the website of the most selling newspaper in Scotland leads on the vital news that Katie Price was in Glasgow for a night on the tiles with her new man. Clearly, the entertainment arrangements of a minor sleb are far more significant to the population than the certainty that Brexit will destroy the devolution settlement, fundamentally undermine the ability of the Scottish parliament to act as a bulwark against Westminster, and the increasing likelihood that Brexit is going to destroy jobs, livelihoods, and civil and employment rights. Way to go, Scottish press.

Naturally the fate of the Glasgow School of Art occupied much of the press’s attention this weekend. The word iconic is overused, but can fairly be applied to a building of global architectural significance. The fact that it appears that the building has been gutted and destroyed in a major fire just a few short years after the previous fire, and reports are that there were no sprinklers in place in the building despite that previous fire, is a tragedy for Scotland and Glasgow and a potential scandal in the making. Given the importance of the building to Glasgow and to Scotland, and the devastating fire that broke out a few short years ago, the School of Art ought to have been the safest building in the city. It’s only right and proper that this story should be given prominence in the media, but hey, Scottish press people, we’re capable of multitasking. Why aren’t you?

But it’s not just one historic edifice which burned to the ground this week. The edifice of Westminster rule in Scotland, the justifications Westminster gave to Scotland for remaining a part of the UK, the great British constitutional alternative to independence, the pretence that the UK could be a state that challenges inequalities and injustice instead of fostering them, they were consigned to the ashes this week too, and the gleeful arsonists were those who claim to love Britain. While the Tories burned down the house, Labour wrung its hands and did nothing, preferring to indulge itself in its own party game playing rather than get behind any motions that could actually lead to a defeat for Theresa May. They are as much a protection and defence for Scotland as an empty water bucket in the School of Art.

Ever since the Westminster power grab was first threatened, all we’ve heard from a succession of talking heads is that only talking heads are interested in an arcane constitutional wrangle. Who is really interested in arguments about food labelling eh? It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a bit like telling people that Brexit is only about customs and excise forms and obscure measures about product safety regulations and then claiming that no one really cares that much. If the Scottish press had done more to explain the implications, then there would be considerably more public interest than there has been to date. However if they had explained the implications then people might start questioning whether Scotland’s interests really can be protected within the framework of the UK, and if you’re an anti-independence newspaper that would never do.

But this isn’t really about food labelling. It’s about the power relationship between Westminster and Holyrood. It’s about the undermining and dissolution of the devolution settlement that was presented to the people of Scotland as our great safeguard against the predations of a Tory government we didn’t vote for. It’s about the transformation of Brexit Britain into a unitary state in which the British government gives itself a free hand to overrule Holyrood whenever it sees fit. It’s about the reversal of devolution despite promises that it would be strengthened.

It took the drama of the SNP walkout to force any of this into the media agenda. It was happening anyway, and had the Speaker of the Commons not decided to bar Ian Blackford causing the rest of the SNP MPs to march out in solidarity, the Scottish media would have filled this week’s press with stories about Katie Price and building fires and would still be telling us that no one is interested in food labelling. But this weekend we’re back to business as usual. Nothing to see here Scotland. Oh look, there’s Katie Price with a smouldering squirrel.

The attempts of the British media in Scotland this weekend to return to quiescent business as usual only serve to illustrate that the most important role of the grassroots independence movement over the coming weeks and months will be to take the message of independence out into our streets and our communities, to speak to undecided people within our own families and circles of friends, to encourage and support those former no voters who have now come over to our side, and to persuade those who formerly supported independence but have drifted away to come back to Scotland’s cause. We need to tell people what Scotland can achieve. We need to warn people that remaining in the UK means worse prospects, worse jobs, worse public services. We cannot rely on the media, we have to do this ourselves. We have the commitment, we have the numbers, we have the will. We can do this. And we will. We can leave Katie Price and the smouldering squirrel to the British media in Scotland, but we’re the ones telling the real story.

 


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special 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.

Many thanks.

There’s been a Broontervention

You can always tell when the forces of British nationalism in Scotland are feeling a bit unsettled. They wheel out the great sulker himself for a Broontervention. Broonterventions are a phenomenon that is unique to Scotland, and proof that Scotland can indeed achieve things that no other nation can achieve, in this case meddling with the very fabric of spacetime itself in a way that not even Doctor Who can manage. For no matter how often there is a Broontervention, it’s always for the very first time. Let’s face it, you have to be pretty desperate if you expect Scotland to believe that Gordie Broon is a perpetual political virgin in the great constitutional debate.

Unfortunately for British nationalists, even Broonterventions suffer from the law of diminishing returns. This might be the twenty fifth odd time that he’s intervened for the very first time, but this time round not even BBC Reporting Scotland could be arsed enough to work up much enthusiasm. Usually some fresh faced Reporting Scotland reporter plays the role of the starry eyed and eager companion to Broon’s Doctor Who as they embark together on adventures in the more fanciful reaches of the British nationalist universe battling the Cybernats. Now they’re telling him just to phone it in from his Tardis, which does after all double up as a phone booth.

It’s a sign of their sheer desperation after the galactofuck of this week that they’ve trundled Broon out at all. This was the man who, let us not forget, assured us all back in 2014 that he personally would ensure that the leaders of the major British parties would adhere to the promises that they’d made in thon Vow that got plastered all over the front page of the Daily Record. Sadly for Gordie, this is also the same week when the man who wrote the Vow came out in favour of independence, citing as his reason the fact that none of the British parties came remotely close to honouring it. Not that they ever had any intentions of doing so.

Gordie bears a large share of the blame for that. Far from working his wee socks off in order to ensure that the leaders of the British parties kept their promises and adhered to the Vow, Gordie pretty much buggered off after the referendum and was scarcely seen in the House of Commons. Since Gordie let us all down on what was a pretty major reason for Scotland narrowly voting to remain a part of the UK back in 2014, it’s difficult to understand why anyone thinks that he’s got any credibility left this time round.

We’d be pretty foolish to listen to the advice of a man who went chapping on doors in Fife during the independence referendum and told pensioners who answered the door that they’d have no pensions the morning after independence. This is a man who doesn’t have the slightest compunction about lying to people to their faces, and the man who did more than any individual to create the pensions crisis facing the UK. He’s certainly not going to hesitate before lying in a political speech. Until recently his sole political achievement was to be widely recognised as the worst Prime Minister in living memory. Only then Theresa May came along and managed to steal even that crown from him too, although Theresa doesn’t match him for egoistic arrogance.

Broon is still concerned to warn us that if Scotland goes for independence, we’ll suffer austerity until doomsday. We’re doooomed. Doooooooooomed. Even if that were true, and Gordie’s reputation for accuracy in such matters as about as good as his reputation for ensuring that the promises in the Vow were fulfilled, this would be worse than austerity until doomsday under the Tories how exactly? What Broon didn’t tell us was that with Tory austerity and privatisation, the low wage gig economy, and the destruction of civil, human, and employment rights that we’re threatened with in a hard Tory Brexit, doomsday will come first within the UK. With independence, Scotland could vote a government out of office for imposing austerity that only benefits the rich and better off. As a part of the UK, we’re lumbered with it and can do absolutely nothing about it. I know which of those two scenarios counts as doooooooomed, and it’s not the independence one.

What makes Broon’s intervention even more galling is that it’s his policies and his rampant use of PFI and failure to regulate the banks that brought about austerity in the first place. And now he’s got the unmitigated nerve to warn us about the dire consequences of independence using a report from a think tank that persistently recommends tax policies which benefit the richest in society while preaching austerity for the rest of us.

The real reason that Broon is opposed to Scottish independence is because this country is too small for his ego. No matter how horrific Conservative rule gets, no matter how we are damaged by Brexit, by the Tories shredding the social security system or opening it up to privatisation by stealth, no matter what attacks they make on the foundations of the devolution settlement, for Gordie independence will always be worse than British rule, because only British rule gives Gordie the fantasy of global influence that his bloated ego demands. The fact that British global influence is a fantasy is of no cosnequence to him. His own estimation of his ability is every bit as much a fantasy.

What we can be absolutely certain of is that if we are foolish enough to vote against independence again, Gordie Broon will do absolutely sweet FA to ensure that Scotland isn’t subjected to decades of British inspired austerity. He’ll slink off until the next time there’s a threat to the Union, or he’s got another turgid tome to sell, and then there will be yet another pointless and meaningless Broontervention. The only reason that the British nationalists keep trundling out this discredited has-been is that he’s the closest thing they’ve got to a respected statesman, which only illustrates just how low the British bar is. The only surprising thing about this latest Broontervention is that anyone in the Scottish media imagines that the rest of us give a toss about what Gordon thinks.

Whenever Gordie Broon opens his mouth on the topic of independence, and he’ll doubtless be wheeled out again and again over the months to come, just remind yourself what he said back in 2014, and recall how that turned out. That’s all you need to know about a Broontervention. But what it all comes down to is this, independence may be a risk, but it’s a risk that Scotland can manage and Scotland can control. Gordie would prefer we’re stuck with a Tory Brexit, a disaster in which we’re helpless to influence the course of events. Which do you prefer?


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special 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.

Many thanks.

The Sewer Convention

It’s been a good week for the Scottish independence movement. The British nationalist parties have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they fail even on their own terms and are incapable of defending Scottish interests within the context of the UK. The SNP has, at last, finally found some bottle and is no longer going to play like good little girls and boys according to the rules of a game which is stacked against Scotland. The grassroots indy movement is reengerised and enthused and thousands of people have signed up to the SNP and many more are getting involved in the local independence groups which are reorganising and reestablishing themselves across the length and breadth of Scotland.

Meanwhile, lost amongst the fire and fury of the SNP walkout. Ewok Mundell has announced in the Commons that according to the British Government’s understanding of the Sewel Convention, the British government can unilaterally take action to change, reduce, or alter the powers of the Scottish parliament when no agreement can be reached with Holyrood. Which as James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop points out shows that Mundell has just rewritten the bloodied and tattered remnants of the Sewel Convention to mean that instead of consent “normally” being required from the Scottish Parliament before Westminster can alter devolved powers, now consent only needs to be sought. That in turn means that the British government can propose any such changes or alterations to devolved powers as it pleases, and if the Scottish government doesn’t agree then the British government can go ahead anyway. In fact according to Mundell, the British government is required to act under such circumstances. Not so much a Sewel Convention then, as a Sewer Convention allowing Scottish powers to be flushed away at will.

In effect, the Sewer Convention means that Westminster can dispose of devolved powers as it likes and the consent of the Scottish parliament is not required. That’s a huge difference from the previous understanding of the Sewel Convention and on the face of it is a massive reinterpretation from what was previously understood as the position. There are only two possible explanations for this apparent change.

Firstly it could be that Mundell’s declaration has been the intent of the British Government all along. This would not be surprising, amongst other developments this week we’ve seen Remainer Conservative MPs complaining that their own government has been dishonest and disingenuous in the supposed guarantees it gave to them to stave off a parliamentary rebellion earlier in the week. If this Conservative government isn’t even prepared to deal honestly with its own MPs, then uppity Scots have got nae chance at all. It is entirely plausible that when the Conservatives signed up to the Smith Commission and agreed to enshrine the permanence of the Scottish parliament in law and to give the Sewel Convention legal force, they never had the slightest intention of abiding by it. That’s why they framed it in such a manner so as to give themselves a get-out clause as wide and broad as the gap between Ross Thomson’s ears.

If that’s true, then all by itself it counts as a change in material circumstances and gives a justification for a second independence referendum, because it means that the Conservatives have acted on bad faith and never had any intention of respecting the result of that referendum that they keep telling everyone else to respect. The result of the independence referendum wasn’t just that Scotland voted No, it was that Scotland voted No on certain conditions. One of those conditions was a legally binding guarantee of the permanence of the Scottish parliament and its powers. As I’ve pointed out on this blog before, the people who need to be held to account for the outcome of a vote aren’t the people who lost it, it’s the people who won it.

Certainly subsequent developments, with the legal ruling in the Supreme Court that the Sewel Convention had no legal force, and the shameful way in which the British Government rammed through the changes to devolved powers in the EU Exit Bill without even permitting Scottish MPs to debate the matter, demonstrate that the fundamental basis of the devolution settlement has been traduced and destroyed. That’s a very far cry from the stronger and more entrenched devolution that we were promised in 2014. The fact that former Daily Record editor Murray Foote, the architect of the infamous Vow, now tells us that Ruth Davidson was furious about proposals to strengthen the powers of Holyrood in an attempt to win a No vote strongly suggests that the Conservatives were always going to seek a way to renege on their commitments to the people of Scotland.

The second possibility is that Mundell doesn’t understand the Sewel Convention. Which means that the man who is entrusted with defending the devolution settlement in the British cabinet doesn’t understand the devolution settlement. If that’s not proof that Scotland’s interests can’t be protected within the context of the UK, then nothing is. If Mundell is not sacked forthwith, then all by itself that’s a constitutional crisis which warrants another independence referendum because it means that the very person encharged with defending the devolution settlement is actively undermining it.

Meanwhile, in a major coup for the independence cause, the self-same Murray Foote has now come out in favour of independence. You might not have been happy with his role in support of the Better Together campaign. You might be deeply upset by the way in which British nationalists pulled the Vow out of a hat in the last weeks of the campaign when postal votes had already begun. However the more prominent that a convert to independence was within the anti-independence campaign last time, then the more powerful an ally to our cause that person is this time. So let’s not begrudge or complain about Murray Foote’s conversion. We need people who voted No last time to come over to our side if we’re going to win this time, and if those people are not made to feel welcome and accepted then they’re going to think twice about making the leap. So get over your grudges, smile sweetly and save your harrumphage for private.

The power of Murray Foote’s conversion to yes lies precisely in his role in creating the Vow. Ever since 2014 we’ve had a succession of British nationalist politicians smugly tell us that the Vow has been fulfilled when the evidence is very much to the contrary. But now whenever one of them tells us that the Vow has been fulfilled, all we need to do is to reply that the very man who wrote it disagrees with them. The Vow is now dead. It’s been killed off by the person who created it.

Tomorrow the decidedly very much alive dug and I will be at Inch Park in Edinburgh speaking at a rally there organised by the Yes Hub in Edinburgh. It’s going to be the first of many events over the coming months. The momentum is on our side, but we have a lot of work to do. Let’s get working. Let’s block the Sewer Convention and ensure that it’s the British nationalists who are left covered in their own constitutional crap.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special 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.

Many thanks.

Scotland won’t be silenced

frontjune14

Today, Thursday, The National is publishing a special edition to mark the commencement of a new stage in Scotland’s campaign for independence. Make sure you buy a copy. Give it to your friends and family. The disgraceful treatment of Scottish concerns by the Conservative government in Westminster this week finally puts to rest any pretence that Scotland can make its voice heard in the Westminster parliament. That’s why it’s all the more important that those of us who do have Scotland’s interests at heart refuse to be silenced, refuse to be quiet, refuse to be well behaved and compliant good little Jocks and Jockesses.

It’s not merely that Tories are gonna Tory, it’s that the rules of the Palace of Westminster and its archaic pretendy democracy mean that Scotland was not and is never going to get a fair hearing in that place.  The rules of Westminster mean that Scotland will always be marginalised, ignored, and infantilised.  When the best you can hope for from a supposed parliament is that they might just, if you are very lucky, patronise you, then it’s time to recognise that the parliament is not capable of serving as a democratic representation for the will of the people of this country.

Make no mistake, what this debate is now about is about whether Scotland is a country and a nation or whether we are content to resign ourselves to the same status as an English county council.  Today on social media, British political commentators who really ought to have known better have been asking with faux outrage why it is that Scotland demands special treatment, demanding to know why Scotland deserves more consideration than Manchester does.  Well last I checked Manchester wasn’t a signatory to the Treaty of Union.  Last I checked Manchester was a city and not a nation with a much longer history than the UK.  Last I checked Manchester didn’t have an independence referendum and narrowly voted to remain a part of the UK because it was promised that it was going to be an equal and valued partner in a family of nations.

But it is precisely as a region that the British establishment regards Scotland.  There is no significant difference in the mind of the British establishment between an English provincial city and an ancient nation that is one of the constituent parts of this so-called union.  Our trappings of nationhood are just so much fancy dress, costumery and pageantry to be dragged out on special and officially sanctioned safe occasions in order to give British nationalists a warm cosy glow and to let them feel that their British nationalism isn’t really just another name for English exceptionalism.  We are the tartan drag on English nationalism that allows it to believe that it’s not nationalist at all.  We are the lipstick on the pig.

This is not a union.  A union implies equality.  A union implies respect.  A union implies that partners listen to one another.  But when Scotland tries to speak we are answered with the jeers of a British nationalism that won’t countenance anyone or anything standing in its way. We are only in a union on their terms and on their sufferance.  We are only in a union as long as it is cost free to the British establishment.  We are only in a union that suits the braying donkeys of the Tory backbenches and the complicit abstentions of the Labour party.  And that’s no union at all.

Our choice is a silence dressed up in the fancy dress of shortbread and tartanry bereft of content and self-knowledge, and resigning ourselves to the reality that Scotland is the gagged possession of a Brexitland Britain, or saying out loud – “Nae mair. Fuck this fur a gemme o sodgies.”  Theresa May tells us that now is not the time.  We’ll be the judge of that Theresa.  We don’t need your permission, we don’t need your consent.  And we’re not going to ask for it.  It’s time to play by different rules.  Scottish rules.

There are no certainties any more, except the certainty that Westminster offers Scotland no control over its own destiny.  We have no choice about living with uncertainty, but I’d rather live with an uncertainty where Scotland can navigate its own path through the darkness, can make its own choices about heading for the light, rather than depend helplessly on a British establishment that offers us no choice at all and shipwrecks us on the vanities of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg.

Get what you’re given Scotland, or make and take what you need.  That’s the difference between dependence and independence.  Choosing independence means choosing self-respect.  Choosing independence means choosing never to be silenced.  Choosing independence means refusing to allow others to define you.

What has happened in the House of Commons this week means that there will most definitely be another independence referendum in the not too distant future.  That referendum will be fought against the background of a Westminster which has treated Scotland with contempt and disdain.  It will be fought against the backdrop of a Westminster which has destroyed the devolution settlement which the people of Scotland were sold as being the great British constitutional alternative to independence.  There can be no Vow Mk II.  There can be no more promises of love, no more commitments to improved and entrenched powers for Scotland.  There are only the brays and boos of backbench Tories, and the handsitting compliance of the Labour party.

In the words of the German philosopher Meister Eckhard, “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”  Now we all know what the Conservative government thinks of us.  We all know what they believe Scotland’s place to be.  We all know that we can continue to be sidelined and marginalised and the interests of this country can be traduced.  We all know that the devolution settlement that Scotland fought for so hard for so long lies dead and bleeding on the floor of the House of Commons. We all know that we are nothing more than an English county council dressed up in a tartan ribbon as far as the British establishment is concerned.

So let’s start something new and trust in the magic of beginning a better Scotland.  This is the time.  This is the time to be bold, to be brave, to be imaginative.  This is the time to play by our own rules.  We will win that better Scotland, but we will only win it by not being silent.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special 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.

Many thanks.

The sixth circle of devolution hell

The Tories talk a lot about how Brexit means taking back control. Except for viewers in Scotland. For Scotland Brexit does also mean taking back control, it’s just that the control is being taken back by Westminster. The devolution settlement has taken years, indeed decades, to thrash out, yet this Conservative government has unilaterally trashed it in just a few minutes.

Today in the Commons we had Prime Minister’s Questions, a chance to ask Theresa May directly about her government’s shameful treatment of the devolution process and its repeated failure to allow any debate or discussion in the Commons. Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t really interested. So no surprise there then. It fell to the SNP.

After attempts during PMQs to raise the lack of democratic accountability, the lack of a voice for Scotland in the House of Commons during yesterday’s proceedings, the SNP’s Westminster leader was offered an immediate vote on the matter by the Speaker, who then backtracked and repeatedly told Ian Blackford to sit down, and then ordered him to leave.

Faced with this blatant rewriting of the rules to save the Speaker’s face at Scotland’s expense, Ian Blackford led a walkout of all SNP MPs. After all, if they are not going to be allowed to speak, if the House of Commons won’t permit Scotland’s issues to be debated and discussed, then there is no point on them being there.  Then the Speaker muttered about how regrettable it was that Scotland’s MPs weren’t going to have the opportunity to speak, as though the travesty of putting a couple of questions to a Theresa May who wasn’t going to answer them anyway somehow made up for the travesty of democracy of Tuesday.

Theresa May said in the Commons on Wednesday that she won’t allow Parliament to overturn the will of the British people, but she’s perfectly happy to allow it to overturn the will of the Scottish people. Devolution only exists because of a referendum in which the people of Scotland voted by a huge majority in favour of the devolution settlement. That settlement was supposed to have been strengthened and entrenched in the offer made to the people of Scotland by all the main UK parties during the 2014 independence referendum. But here we are.

Only some referendum results need to be respected in the British state, and they sure as hell aren’t Scottish ones. Yet these are the same people who repeatedly demand that the SNP respects the outcome of the 2014 referendum, people who have no intention of respecting the promises and commitments that they made to win it. Ruth Davidson, that darling of the Scottish press, sneered that attempts to highlight the democratic deficit were nothing more than “Grievomax”. Ruth is sure as hell not going to stand up for Scotland within her precious union.   If Ruth isn’t going to respect the result of the referendum, why should we?

In Dante’s vision of Hell, the hypocrites are consigned to the Sixth Circle of Hell, weighed down by their gilden monks’ robes of lead, moving with slow and sluggish indolence as they are condemned forever to walk in circles. That’s where the Scottish Conservatives and their Labour and Lib Dem enablers belong. That’s the vision that they have for Scotland within the UK, weighted down and condemned forever to go round in circles. It’s the Sixth Circle of Devolution Hell, the shackled monks of Britishness led by Ruth Davidson ringing a bell and chanting We Don’t Want Another Referendum as they go round and round in circles for all eternity, lost in the dark void and achieving nothing. Today the SNP marched out of it. When the rules of the game are stacked against you, play a different game.

As far as Scotland is concerned, the House of Commons is a democracy in the exact same way that candy floss is a nutritionally important major food group. The SNP were quite right to walk out. It might have been a stunt, but it was a stunt that succeeded in getting the issue of the treament of the devolution settlement and the Westminster power grab to the top of the media agenda, a media which has until now ignored it. Because it’s only Scottish and so isn’t really that important.

You might think that this massive assault on devolution, what was always touted as the great British alternative to Scottish independence, might have merited some cries of outrage from that Scottish press that had bigged it up in the first place. You know, like that newspaper that gave us the Vow. Yet from the British nationalist media in Scotland – which is the vast bulk of it – there’s a collective shrug of the shoulders and a “meh”. As I pointed out in yesterday’s blog piece, they are failing Scotland on their own terms. They are not standing up for their own vision of Scotland within the UK and are consenting to the destruction of a devolution settlement which they sold to the people of Scotland as the safe and secure alternative to independence. By failing to stand up for devolution, they anti-independence parties and the British nationalist media in Scotland have only make the case for independence unanswerable.

Yesterday’s farce of democracy in the Commons, when the Conservatives refused to allow a Scottish MP to speak on the subject of devolution, refused to allow any amendments, and refused to concede more than a few minutes for debate, was covered by the BBC Scotland news this morning in a mere 16 seconds. More importance was given to the English fitba team and to efforts to protect endangered bats. Efforts to protect endangered Scottish democracy, not so much. And yet meagre and trivial as it was, BBC Scotland news gave the issue better coverage than the front pages of Scotland’s anti-independence newspapers.

The devolved powers are only being retained by Westminster for seven years, they claim. If you believe that you probably also believe that the Ewok Mundell is an effective voice for Scotland within the UK cabinet. It’s not that the Fluffy one doesn’t speak in the British cabinet, it’s just like one of the BBC’s beloved bats his utterances are too high pitched for human ears to detect. On Wednesday during an interview with Sky News the Fluffy one said that he was disappointed that there hadn’t been a debate the previous day but that there were lots of technical and boring things being voted on and they didn’t need to bother their pretty little heads with Scottish stuff too. There’s that strong voice for Scotland in the British cabinet, telling us how disappointed he was that he couldn’t be arsed to do his job.  However he did concede that tomorrow there would be an opportunity to debate the impact of the Brexit bill on devolved powers.

The walkout has been effective. Devolution is not going to be ignored. It’s not going to be ignored because some Scottish MPs stood up for it, literally. There will be time in the Commons tomorrow to debate the effects of Brexit on the devolution settlement, although one thing is certain and that’s that it won’t make any difference to the final outcome. The Conservative Government will ram it through and Scotland will be left with nothing. Scotland will get what Conservative MPs from outwith Scotland tell us we’re getting. What Scotland wants, what Scotland voted for, doesn’t figure in their considerations.

If this doesn’t count as a material change of circumstances, then nothing does. Home rule is dead. The devolution settlement is dead. The results of Scottish constitutional referendums are null and void. The great constitutional alternative to Scottish independence has been killed off by those who claim to love the UK. It’s time for all of Scotland to walk out of the Sixth Circle of Hell of this unitary British state which masquerades as a union. Let’s play a different game.  Let’s play independently.


 

Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.

Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special 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.

Many thanks.