About that equal partnership…?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Over the run up and course of the first independence referendum a great deal was made of equality, partnership and latterly of a union family by some weel kent faces.

“Today we are equal partners in the United Kingdom. With independence Scotland’s budget would have to be approved beyond the border. That’s not freedom. That’s not independence. That’s serfdom.” A. Darling 2012

“And speaking of family – that is quite simply how I feel about this. We are a family. The United Kingdom is not one nation. We are four nations in a single country.”  D. Cameron 2014

(As an interesting exercise, when reading the entirety of Mr Cameron’s speech via the link supplied, try replacing Scotland with UK and UK with EU where relevant.  Then try not to have an irony overload.)

Over the weekend a couple of stories have received some coverage which shed a bit of a different light on those statements from our recent past. Bear in mind those statements were made by the man who would lead the Better Together campaign and the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron.

The first story concerns Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Aye, apparently Mr Fox feels including representation from devolved legislatures on certain decision making processes might be a tad problematic for UK trade. Mainly because…. reasons. OK?

Although, given Mr Fox’s recent enthusiasm for a trade deal on imported food stuffs, you can see why said devolved legislatures may have a concern or two of their own and not least on the constitutional front.

The second piece, very much on the topic of partnership, was lead story of the Sunday Herald found HERE. Oh, and yes it concerns oil. That stuff which is a positive boon for other countries, but for some uncanny and unfathomable reason is an absolute curse for Scotland. Having said that, I’m reasonably sure the reader can draw their own conclusions as to the nature and the source of those problems (cough). There has after all only ever been one steward managing the resource since its discovery.

The point of the exercise is trust. Statements and pledges by parties and leaderships toward populations are either worth something or they’re not. Management of the affairs, interests and resources of those populations is either fit for purpose and reflective of those statements and those pledges or it is not.

Now that’s not to say extenuating circumstances don’t play their part in the affairs of politics. Events can sometimes, and I do mean sometimes, interfere with a leadership’s ability to deliver on their pledges. How and ever, when those pledges are proven to be systematically undelivered and undeliverable, the average bod must then consider the intent behind the original statements. Most especially when you consider there are comparable examples and standards to examine out there in the wider world. You know it’s entirely possible that some other nations may have different and indeed more desirable methods of running their politics and caring for their society. Curiosity and puzzlement are also entirely understandable when you know for an absolute certainty that others somehow manage their affairs on a given issue with some degree of success. The average bod may also justifiably ask on such occasions, why can’t we?

It’s up to the readers of course at this point, but given HMG’s and Better Together’s record of delivery on the spirit and substance of their promises to date? They may perhaps be forgiven, (after a little light reading on links provided), for questioning the intent behind the statements and the record behind the rhetoric, also perhaps the nature of the politics and political process which drove them.

What kind of country do you want to live in?

A dead water feeling

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Dead water is the nautical term for a phenomenon which can occur when a layer of fresh or brackish water rests on top of denser salt water, without the two layers mixing. A ship powered by direct thrust under the waterline (such as a propeller), traveling in such conditions may be hard to maneuver or can even slow down almost to a standstill. Much of the energy from the ship’s propeller only results in waves and turbulence between the two layers of water, leaving a ship capable of traveling at perhaps as little as 20% of its normal speed. (Source Wiki)

Scary, isn’t it? The waiting.

It can certainly play bloody hell on the nerves with folk who are just getting their groove on again with politics after a few decades, or even for the first time ever. So much happening to us in the form of Brexit, austerity ideology, unashamedly reneged pledges from indyref 1, the collapse of political institutions, the rise of intolerance, isolationism and such. Worse. It can appear that no one is listening to our concerns, or cries for action, fairness or explanation. Most reasonable sane people just want stuff to happen now (if not sooner) and our government should get it fixed and WHY THE HELL ISN’T IT? Didn’t we just green light another majority? What are they waiting on? Somebody say sumthin’!

Also seems there are plenty of people telling us what to think with their ‘hot take’ du jour t’boot. So many talking ‘at’ us and not enough talking ‘to’ us. So, yes, plenty to be concerned about if truth be told. It’s also a perfectly understandable and perfectly human reaction to all of the above.

Fear, uncertainty, doubts and confusion creep in about friends, political allies, their motivations and commitments to this that or the next thing. People who put a great deal of their personal agendas and time aside to work together with others and tackle a greater issue, begin to remember their differences of opinion on whatever and question why they should have placed faith or trust in another to begin with. Frustrations and differences buried in time of immediate action surfacing because, well mainly because there’s seemingly no forward motion, no momentum or impetus to direct those energies. Focus on direction and purpose drifts, or is made to drift. Sound familiar? A time of ‘Dead Water’, wasted energy, deflected effort, enforced inactivity.

‘Course it doesn’t help when some twisted bastirts from the true source of the problem feed those doubts on a daily basis. When you are bombarded 24/7 and 365 days a year with said FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT. It doesn’t help when they actively sow doubts between friends, undermine trust (in just about everything), foment frustration, seemingly deny you redress and a platform to clear the air or inform accurately and in context. It doesn’t help when our public guardians of the fourth estate are apparently guardians of THE state and orthodoxy. Makes it hard for those they don’t approve of to get that fair hearing don’t you think? Yes, they’ve been making good use of this period of enforced inactivity, because they know it won’t last forever and you better believe they are more than acutely aware it does have an end.

Regardless, at such a time as this it’s easy to forget why we all came together. Why we’re here at this place and at this point in time and why we put all that other stuff to one side to work together.

I remember.

As I recall, it’s the belief that the peoples of Scotland are best placed to make decisions affecting the peoples of Scotland (and no the plural isn’t accidental). Self determination. You don’t need to come from any particular part of the political or societal spectrum. You just need to believe in that simple principle. All parties and no parties. All levels of society. All creeds. All points of origin. All of us together. Natural born and new Scot. It’s the very thing that will provide you with a representative government willing to govern for all and not simply a demographic. It’s kinda what makes you a population and will make you a country.

Personally, I’ve never worried over whether you voted SNP, Green, SSP, Conservative, Labour, Libdem, independent or didn’t vote at all in the past. It never mattered to me where you were born, how much you earn, (or don’t), what colour your skin is or whether you wear Buchanan plaid troosers with a Paisley pattern shirt combo on dance night at the local Pally (though…. DANG!).

YOU are a Scottish citizen and you need only remember what makes you, and what made you, a YES voter. So cutting through all the stuff people are throwing at us from every direction, about now I’d say we’re beyond the party politics stage. That patch of dead water we’ve found ourselves in won’t last forever. It does have an end and it’s very much in sight. Pointless arguments, twatter spats, snark and other hi jinks need to be put in their proper place and perspective. They mean nothing, NOTHING, compared to the societal and economic hardships we can help avert if we all pull in the same direction. We can do it. We’ve done it before and gave those and such as those a challenge they never thought they’d face from ‘ordinary’ Jock and Jeannie public.

The establishment had and still have so many advantages on their side and yet we let them know where the true heart of a nation lies. We let them know what makes a country, a country and it’s not borders or landmass. Its not the trappings of state. It’s not military might or pomp. It’s not patronage or how much of the corporate world and media you can call on when you’re in a bit of a bind either.

It’s the people.

Only the people have the power and the right to decide their own future and form of governance. No single party can deliver that. No party EVER could. The ONLY thing a party of government could ever do is be willing to offer you the choice and facilitate YOUR decision.

We are, I believe, going to be given that choice again in the not too distant future and it’s worth remembering that a referendum doesn’t belong to any party. It belongs to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. So right now, if you don’t do politics, or don’t normally support the SNP, then fine. I think we can all get behind why most of us wouldn’t vote for one party or another in ‘normal’ circumstances. It’s a deeply personal choice. What’s happening to the politics and society of the UK right now though, aren’t normal circumstances. What is happening to Scotland, because of that political and parliamentary union we’re currently enjoying, is nowhere near normal, or right, or just. This is no longer about voting for the SNP or any other party, it is about supporting the Scottish Government in their efforts to avert economic and constitutional calamity for the population of Scotland. That would be all of us mainly.

If it helps folk who normally place their support and their trust elsewhere, don’t look at them as a political party, but as a means to an end. You do not need to be an SNP member or supporter to recognise that right now, at this particular period in time, they are the best chance, the ONLY chance the people of Scotland have of being given a constitutional choice. Safe to say we won’t be seeing an orderly queue forming to offer Scotland’s electorate any choice from the other mainstream parties. You’d think though, since their politicking dumped this epic galactostooshie in our laps, they’d at least say sorry. (shrugs)

You know, it’s often said that running your own country is for grown ups. I fully agree. I think it’s time for all of us to grow up now. If we want a system of government where our voice will be heard, with a written and codified constitution, a progressive, inclusive and outward reaching internationalist aspect, and an accountable legislature, then it’s only going to happen one way.

ALL of us together.

The SNP are the key to a locked door. All folk need to agree upon is turning that key and stepping through the door. What folk do on the other side is the grown up bit.

A reason to be cheerful

It’s time to be cheerful, and not just because I’m about to see my American other half for a two week visit during which we plan to go to the Highlands and then to London for a few days. It’s time to be cheerful because despite any local difficulties that the independence campaign might have faced recently, we’re on the right side of history. More and more I’m convinced that we are no longer engaged in a debate about whether Scotland could or should become an independent country again, we’re in a debate about the timing. This is a debate about when Scotland retakes its historic place amongst the independent nations of the world, not a debate about if. We’re debating the tense of the verb, not its conditionality, because Scotland’s condition is that of a country which is on the path to statehood.

I’m cheerful because of the response of the usual British nationalist suspects to the author Andrew O’Hagan’s speech to the Edinburgh Book Festival in which he set out his reasons for shifting from support for the United Kingdom to support for Scottish independence. I’m cheerful because that response was lacking in intellectual rigour, lacking in imagination, lacking in humanity. I’m cheerful because their pathetically sneering response was entirely predictable. I’m cheerful because the massed commentariat of the British nationalists had no coherent reply. I’m cheerful because they have no coherent case for Britishness. All they have is a dismissive sneer, a contemptuous snort, and a graph. To be fair to them, graphs are the closest that they have to imaginative literature.

It is very noticeable that the creativity, the imagination, the soul and the spirit of Scotland are almost entirely on the side of independence. Where are the artists, the poets, the novellists, articulating a British Scotland that sings and soars? They don’t exist. The Scottish incarnation of British nationalism has no soul. That’s important, because a nation doesn’t tread the path to independence to the tune of an accountant, and particularly not to that of an accountant whose objectivity is highly suspect.

Nations are sung into being, they are versified and live in the stories that are told on cold and wet nights around the flicker of a fire. The story that the Scottish independence campaign imagines is the story of a nation founded in tolerance, a story that all those who hear can choose to be characters in. That’s the Scotland that we sing about. It’s a Scotland that is limited only by our imaginations.

Nationhood is a creative act of the imagination. A nation exists in the stories its people tell themselves, in the poems that they recite, in the songs that they sing. It is a creation of the imagination. The vision of the Scotland that independence supporters seek is a creative act. If you have no imagination, you have no nation to call into being. British nationalism in Scotland is a desert of dreams and a bonfire of hope. It promises nothing and delivers less. It has no visionaries to lead the way. It has no light in its darkness. British nationalism in Scotland is a journey that aspires to arrive at mediocrity but always ends in despair. It depends for its survival as an ideology on creating nothing but doubt and fear.

I’m cheerful because when they were confronted with an erudite and creative man who spoke about a future Scotland that he called into being by the power of his imagination, British nationalists replied by complaining that he wasn’t being limited by their narrow vision of Scotland. They complained that a creative artist wasn’t being inspired by a British nationalist accountant. How dare anyone dream. How dare someone state that dignity has no price. How dare anyone look at the graph and laugh. But they had no response to the poetry in his soul. All they had was snideness and sneering, the comments section of the Scotsman writ large. That’s not going to inspire generations of a nation. It’s the last resort of those who know that their intellectual cupboard is bare.

I’m cheerful because independence is an act of creation and the creative people in Scotland overwhelmingly support independence. Nations don’t choose a particular path because someone draws a graph about the price of oil or claims about a deficit. They choose a particular path because the poets amongst their people sing of something better. For some years now, Scotland has been singing of a better future, one that Britain can’t offer.

I’m cheerful because the British state is being hollowed out from within by those who claim to love it. One by one the pillars of British rule have been eaten through by the termites of Westminster. They are no longer even pretending that there is a Union worth its name, all there is is a Westminster that’s greedy for power and which refuses to acknowledge that Scotland wants different things. Yet the Union between Scotland and England can only survive as long as both parts want broadly the same future. Brexit has shattered what was left of that tattered delusion. And Westminster responds by trying to silence Scotland. It responds by gloating about how its silences Scotland. The music has stopped. The poets are silent. The stories are not to be told.

There is no dreaming in the Union. There is no one singing the song of a better Britain that Scotland is at the heart of. There is nothing to inspire, no creative act of imagination. There is nothing to unite, nothing to energise, enthuse or rouse the soul, nothing to animate. This is a United Kingdom which is still walking but which is already dead.

Nations become independent because of their story tellers, their makars, their dreamers. They tell a story of a better land and by the act of creating the tale they bring it into being. To become independent is a creative act and Scotland is a nation of poets, of singers, and of story tellers. That’s a reason to be cheerful.

Peter is arriving on Sunday, but I’ve got a few things to do before then. He’ll be here for two weeks and during that time I won’t be blogging. Sam Miller (Macart) will be looking after you in my absence. I know he’ll keep you engaged and informed.


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 Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, 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.

Tory cat food

Charlottesville is an event that is based in a tragic American history of racism and discrimination against minorities which has long blighted the Land of the Free. For too long Free meant male, middle class and white, and there are still powerful and violent groups in the USA who are determined to ensure that the only freedom that matters is the freedom to discriminate, the freedom to hate, the freedom to oppress. Those groups were manifesting in all their ugly hatefulness in Charlottesville, and the reaction of the American president was to equate the practitioners of hate with those who opposed them. Democrats and Republicans both have condemned his moral cowardice. Trump’s racist mask has slipped and Americans across the political spectrum have denounced him for it. Trump said after he was elected that he intended to unite the American people, and now he’s done exactly that, just not in the way he planned.

In Scotland we look askance on an American president who is incapable of making an unequivocal denunciation of Nazis. The so-called Alt-Right protesters in Charlottesville aren’t merely hyperbolic Nazis, they’re not just metaphorical Nazis. They’re you’re actual nasty Nazis. They’re overtly racist, openly anti-Semitic, proudly homophobic, aggressively misogynistic. Our politicians, we like to think, are better than an American president who draws a moral equivalence between Nazis and people who protest against Nazis. And by and large, and to their credit, they are.

Ruth Davidson has rightly condemned Donald Trump for drawing a moral equivalence between Nazis and people who protest against Nazis. On Tuesday evening she tweeted “The President of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame.” She deserves credit for that. It’s a far stronger and clearer condemnation that that which her boss managed. Theresa May avoided referring to Trump directly. I don’t often say this, but well done Ruth.

But, and it’s a big but, it’s safe to condemn an unpopular American president. Now show some proper leadership Ruth. Prove that you’re not just a self-publicist who is jumping on a popular bandwagon and condemn Scotland’s home grown bigots and extremists in equally strong terms. And I’m not talking here about independence supporters being rude on Twitter.

Ruth’s very keen to condemn independence supporters who misbehave. That’s easy when you’re the head of the most aggressively British nationalist of Scotland’s major political parties. Condemning bad behaviour amongst your opponents just counts as point scoring, not as leadership.  Real leadership comes when you’re able to speak out against the nastiness that lurks under your own flegstone. Ruth is a whole lot less keen to say anything about extremist British nationalism even though the actual fascists, the racists, and the sectarian bigots are overwhelmingly on the red white and blue side of the Scottish constitutional debate. I’ve never even heard her condemn the British nationalist trolls who infest the comments section of the Scotsman. You’d think that would be easy.

More seriously, Ruth avoids condemning sectarian organisations. She has never overtly and unambiguously disassociated the Conservative party from the Orange Order and made a strong and unequivocal condemnation of the bigotry and discrimination which that organisation fosters. She says nothing about the Orange Order and the Protestant supremacism which so many members of her own party cheerfully dog-whistle to. Ruth says nothing about the slew of Tory candidates who were revealed to have connections to the far right or to sectarian organisations which espouse Scotland’s home grown racism, the racism of the anti-Irish variety.

From the perspective of a Scot from an Irish Catholic background, the Orange Order and the white supremacists of Charlottesville are creatures cut from the same racist cloth. They all march in paramilitary uniforms. They all have an ideology based in exclusion of sections of the community because of who they descend from. They all think that the only freedom that matters is the freedom to discriminate. Both of them claim that they’re only expressing their culture, and both have a culture of hate. Both have colours that don’t run, they just drip with hatred for those who aren’t like them.

The English born US talk show host John Oliver spoke about Trump this week and how Trump is lauded and applauded by the American far right. Referring to Trump’s refusal to make a clear denunciation of yer actual Nazis, John said that Nazis are like cats. If they like you it’s because you’re feeding them. We could say the exact same thing about Ruth Davidson and an Orange Order which adores her.  Aren’t you upset Ruth, to be loved by a sectarian organisation?

Ruth Davidson isn’t a racist. She’s not a sectarian bigot. But she never clearly and unhesitatingly condemns those on her own side who are, and there are lots of them. If Ruth Davidson had the courage of her undoubted anti-racist convictions, she’d make the Orange Order hate her. You’re not a champion of anti-racism when you pick and choose amongst racists. And I’m not talking here about people who say things that some people find offensive. I’m talking here about people who actually put their offensiveness into practice.

Go on Ruth, prove to us all that you are as committed to anti-racism as we all want to believe you are – you can do it by explicitly stating that membership of the Orange Order is incompatible with membership of the Conservative party, and that support for the big drum bangers means exclusion from your party. Say that the Orange Order is what it really is, an an organisation founded in order to perpetuate and promote a racist ideology aimed against people of Irish Catholic origin. Crack down on the Tories who use social media to nudge nudge wink wink support the boys who march in their uniforms to the music of hate. And it would be nice if you could apologise for the historic role of the Conservatives in being complicit with sectarianism in Scotland as a means to protect the Union.  Prove to us that the Conservatives in Scotland have a zero tolerance policy for sectarianism.  Condemn it like you condemn Trump.

We all want a better Scotland, a peaceful and peaceable Scotland, an open, tolerant, and inclusive Scotland. That’s not going to happen when it’s only one side in this constitutional debate which is expected to be self-reflective and to examine its own sins. We need all Scotland’s politicians to have the moral authority to condemn an American president who draws a moral equivalence between Nazis and anti-Nazis. But that’s not going to happen unless those politicians also have the moral fibre to identify and condemn the equivalent evils that still blight Scotland and which infest their own party in the way that American bigots infest the US presidency.


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 Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, 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 unbearable triteness of Deerin

I wrote yesterday’s blog article about the importance of not allowing British nationalists to pose as non-nationalists or anti-nationalists before Chris Deerin’s piece was published in Tuesday’s Daily Herald newspaper. And there it was, in all its self-righteous and self-deluding glory, a proponent of British nationalism staking out the moral high ground and linking the Scottish independence movement to the Nazis of Charlottesville while at the same time he was seemingly blithely unaware of his own nationalism. Or at least hoping that we were. The piece was a frankly nauseating attempt to link the desire for Scottish independence with the violent white supremacist fascists of AmeriKKKa who drove a car into an innocent woman, aping the terrorist tactics of ISIL.

This is an individual who writes for the Daily Mail, lecturing others on the evils of identity politics. If you don’t understand the difference between a social democratic independence movement which is founded in civic nationalism and the belief that Scottishness isn’t about your ancestry it’s about choice, that Scottishness isn’t about the past, it’s about the future, with the exclusionary fascist politics of racism, discrimination, and bigotry, you really should refrain from commenting on either. Because you have disqualified yourself from having an informed opinion.

Chris disingenously claims in his Herald piece that after writing an article saying why he’d be voting No in the referendum of 2014, he was subjected to horrible abuse from independence supporters. He’s being deliberately misleading. He doesn’t say what his article was really about, nor why it provoked anger and outrage amongst many of those who read it. It wasn’t just because he said he was voting No that people were offended. Lots of people managed to vote No without being offensive about it. It was his reason and the way he expressed it which were so offensive to many.

During the independence referendum campaign, early in 2014, Chris wrote an article for the Daily Mail in which he argued that voting No, voting to remain British, was the moral choice. If Scots chose that they no longer wanted to be British, Chris’s clear implication was that they would be diminishing the good in this world and replacing it with evil. He was arguing in effect that to vote to cease to be British meant surrendering a part of one’s moral being and ceasing to be properly human and humane. If you voted Yes, Chris was arguing, you’d be a lesser person for it. Then after writing the blue touchpaper, he affected surprise that there were fireworks.

It was in fact Chris and that particular article that I had in mind when I wrote in yesterday’s blog piece, “There is a moral choice in this campaign, and it doesn’t lie in choosing British nationalism.” He wrote that article, and then he acted all offended that people were upset by being accused of being less than moral beings because they don’t happen to share Chris’s view of the constitutional settlement. Then of course he milked the outrage that his offensive article predictably provoked to write a few more pieces for the British nationalist media about how awful and offensive Scottish nationalists are. And here he is, over three years later, still doing it, still pretending that his British nationalism is superior by virtue of not being nationalist at all.

Chris wasn’t subjected to abuse just because he was voting No, he angered and insulted people – quite deliberately – by insinuating that voting Yes made them less moral and that morality properly rests with the Westminster parliament. It plays into the ancient British nationalist racist stereotype that Scots require the tender administrations of Westminster in order to be properly civilised human beings. Then Chris complained when the people whom he had insulted insulted him back. I’m not about to defend outright abuse, but if you’re going to tell people, especially in the pages of the Daily Mail of all places, that they are less moral if they don’t vote the way you want them to – what sort of reaction do you expect exactly? He was trolling people, and then having provoked an entirely predictable response, he was able to play the victim. He’s still playing the victim. Welcome to the British nationalist playbook.

Claiming that choosing to be British is a moral choice is a deeply nationalist assertion. It is in fact an offensively nationalist assertion. It is nothing less than the assertion that your particular brand of nationalism is morally and ethically superior to that of other less fortunate and more benighted nations. It is the claim that to be British means that you are a better human being than people who are not. That is a nationalist sentiment to its very core. That is a nationalist sentiment which has far more in common with the vile view of the American far right that only white people are properly human than anything you’ll find in the mainstream Scottish independence campaign.

British nationalism is far more dangerous than Scottish nationalism. It’s more dangerous because it has nuclear weapons and fetishises the military. It’s more dangerous because it is the expression of a state which lacks a written constitution and proper checks and balances on power. But above all it’s more dangerous because its core belief is that it is not nationalism at all. British nationalism is the nationalism of the unaware, the blind, the obtuse. That’s the kind of lack of insight that has led to Brexit, has led to the shocking rise in hate crimes in the UK since the EU referendum, and which threatens to ruin this country.

Chris Deerin’s Daily Mail piece struck me then, and nothing that has happened since has shifted my opinion, as the epitome of self-righteous British nationalism masquerading as non-nationalism or anti-nationalism. His article for the Herald this week proves that nothing has changed. British nationalism remains as lacking in self-awareness as ever. It’s Chris’s kind of trite nonsense that demands that Scottish independence supporters stop colluding with the British nationalist fantasy that British nationalism is somehow non-nationalist.


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 Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, 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.

Calling things what they really are

Language is important. It makes a difference what words we use to describe things. When we accede to the Conservative inspired move to rebrand social security as welfare, we’re acknowledging and giving justification to their ideologically inspired attempts to destroy a universal system which everyone pays into and which everyone benefits from and to replace it with a state funded charity which magnanimously grants alms to those poor the state deems to be deserving. The choice of word welfare implies that it is a form of charity. Social security implies a system of protection that we all pay for and which we all may need at some point. The change in language from social security to welfare makes it easier for the Tories to demonise the poor and punish them for the poverty that Conservative policies create.

It’s time to rethink the language that we use to talk about Scottish independence. For too long we’ve allowed Unionists to portray this campaign as a choice between non-nationalism and nationalism, with all the negative baggage that the term nationalist carries. Things are not helped by the inadequacies of the English language, which conflates two very different phenomena under the umbrella term nationalism. Nationalism can mean a movement which seeks to establish a state for a nation which currently doesn’t have one, and it can also mean an ideology which seeks to aggrandise the power of an existing state, most often at the expense of minority groups or foreigners. When I speak Spanish I never call myself a nacionalista, which in Spanish is most often understood in that second sense. I’m an independentista, that’s the Spanish term for an advocate of nationalism in the first sense. The use of the term nationalist exclusively to describe independence supporters means that independence supporters can be maligned and misrepresented in a way that Unionists are immune to, even though Unionists are those who are most likely to be practitioners of nationalism in the second sense described here.

We can’t do much to avoid the use of the word nationalist to describe independence supporters. Unionists are going to keep using it even if we take a collective decision to call ourselves by some other phrase. Unfortunately when you tell people in English that you’re an independentist they just tend to ask you how much you charge for orthodontic work. We can’t change the English language, but we can change what we call Unionists so that they cannot escape the consequences and implications of their British nationalism, just one typo away from being brutish.

Unionists are not Unionists. Even in their own terms they are not Unionists. A true Unionist would regard the constituent members of the United Kingdom as equals. They would recognise that Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland were equal parts of a multi-national state, each with an equal right to have its voice heard and its views represented. That’s what a Union implies. But Unionists don’t promote that idea. They are incorporationists.

We live in a state which for the purposes of attacking internal independence movements calls itself a Union, but which for all other purposes is a majoritarian state in which the party which secures a majority of seats in Westminster takes all power even when it enjoys the support of only a small fraction of the population. The United Kingdom is not driven by what Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland want and express at the ballot box. It’s not even primarily driven by what England as a whole wants. It’s not a Union. It’s a unitary state and a deeply flawed democracy.

Britain represents the subordination of Scottish interests to other interests. The British state is fundamentally an expression of British nationalism, which is English nationalism with the radicalism and the humanity bleached out of it. That’s why we’ve got a Tory government. That’s why we’re getting Brexit. If that’s fine with you, and it’s a perfectly consistent political stance for it to be fine with you, then at least have the decency to call it what it is. And if you don’t have that decency, then Scottish and Welsh independence supporters should start doing it for you. You’re not a Unionist. You support the incorporation of Scotland into a Britain that’s driven by nationalism, driven into perdition by the Scottish Conservative and Incorporationist party. You’re a British nationalist.

To be a supporter of this state which has incorporated Scotland makes you a British nationalist. Acceding to the term Unionist means that supporters of the British state and the British nationalism that it espouses are able to cloak their nationalism in a non-nationalist veneer. How many times has a supporter of the British state assured you that they are not a nationalist? A person who promotes and fosters the most narrow minded exclusionary British nationalism, a state which seeks to cut itself off from Europe and to demonise migrants, is able to tell themself and you that they’re not a nationalist. They’re able to affect an air of moral superiority that they’re above petty nationalism while clinging to an exceptionalist nationalism that tells them that they’re not nationalist at all. They’ll do that even when they’re proudly displaying a Union flag in their social media avatar. Yet they’re nationalists, pure and simple. They’re British nationalists. We should not be complicit in allowing them to escape from the reality and the logic of their own politics. Ruth Davidson, Kezia Dugdale, Willie Rennie, they’re all nationalists, British nationalists.

The Tories, Ukip, the Lib Dems, even Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, all of them propose and promote projects which are based upon British nationalism. If they really hated nationalism and all that it entailed they would oppose Scottish independence on the grounds that they were in favour of a one world government and the abolition of all nation states. That’s the only way in which you can be “not a nationalist”. The self-described non-nationalists of Unionism don’t come remotely close to that goal. They’re not interested in that goal at all. They’re interested in maintaining and securing the British state and the aggressive nationalism that the British state espouses.

The campaign for Scottish independence is not a campaign which opposes nationalists and non-nationalists. It’s a campaign in which two different nationalisms compete for the future of Scotland. If you are campaigning for the maintenance and continuation of the British state, you are a British nationalist. British nationalism isn’t just for fascists, but it’s not a coincidence that the actual fascists, the out and out racists, the supremacists and the alt-right in this campaign, they’re all on the side of British nationalism.

It is not anti-nationalism to subordinate Scottish nationalism to British nationalism. It’s merely the substitution of Scottish nationalism, a nationalism which is peaceful, civic, and outward looking, for a British nationalism which is increasingly xenophobic, paranoid, and founded in an unshakable exceptionalism, a nationalism which is dominated and defined by a conservativism and a readiness to go to war. Unionists, British nationalists that they are, don’t score themselves extra moral brownie points for that. They don’t get to tell themselves that they’re not really nationalists. They are just deluding themselves. Subordinating Scottish nationalism to British nationalism doesn’t make you a non-nationalist. It makes you a patsy.

Scottish nationalism is a response to British nationalism, an attempt to defuse and weaken nationalism because an independent Scotland could be a place in which democracy counts, in which the people have a voice, in which the elites are held accountable. British nationalists, of whatever hue, have no answer to that. There is a moral choice in this campaign, and it doesn’t lie in choosing British nationalism.

It shouldn’t be the job of Scottish nationalists, Scottish independence supporters, to allow the delusions of British nationalists to continue unchallenged. We should not be colluding in the British nationalist fantasy that somehow they are not nationalists and are immune from nationalism. They include amongst their number proponents of the worst sort of nationalism. In the case of the Conservatives it’s a nationalism which is growing ever more intolerant and nasty. We shouldn’t allow them to hide behind the label of Unionism. Call them what they are, they’re British nationalists.


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 Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, 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 brittle fragility of Scottish Unionism

Over the past couple of weeks the issue of trolling within the independence campaign has been done to death. Articles have been written, including on this blog, letters have been published, fingers have been pointed, and allegations and counter-allegations have been lobbed about like diarrhoea filled balloons. Which is a trollish way to describe some of the Unionist commentary on this issue, but there you go. The Unionists have been looking upon the entire episode with a gleeful and deeply hypocritical joy.

It took the Sunday Herald yesterday to highlight the fact that bad online behaviour, name-calling, and abuse is by no means limited to the independence campaign. Trolling and abuse is so common within the online Unionist campaign that it has been become normalised. Insults and abuse hurled by Unionists at independence supporters is so everyday, so expected, and so predictable that Unionism no longer regards it as abusive. The comments section of the Scotsman is a poisonous pit of Unionist abuse.

We see Unionists howl in outrage when they are called quislings or traitors by online supporters of independence, but Unionists seem to have no compunction at all in likening independence supporters to Nazis. Just today in the Scottish Daily Mail, Unionist journalist Stephen Daisley likens the entire independence movement to the Nazis at Charlottesville. He took exception to a couple of instances of what he perceived to be anti-English sentiments, and uses them to characterise the independence movement as a whole. Nationalism is always nasty, apparently, except British nationalism, which isn’t nationalist at all.

When you call a perfectly peaceful, social democratic person who believes in equality, social justice, and who is opposed to racism, sexism, and homophobia a Nazi, that’s abuse. It’s hyperbolic. It’s insulting, both to the person who is called a Nazi and to the real victims and survivors of Nazism. But even high profile Unionist politicians seen to have no problem with likening supporters of the independence movement to the extreme right. Sadiq Khan infamously likened independence supporters to “those who will divide us on the grounds of race or religion”. That kind of behaviour and language justifies, supports, and encourages online abuse by Unionists.

I myself have been called a Nazi. I’ve been called a blood and soil nationalist more times than I can remember. One particularly frothy Unionist even took the time and trouble to write a blog article in which he claimed that this blog is exactly the same in principle to radio broadcasts during the Rwandan genocide calling on Hutu people to take machetes to their Tutsi neighbours. And the reason for this hyperbolic ire in which all sense of proportion and reason had long since been cast to the wind? Because I’d dared to write a blog piece saying that Scots and Gaelic are, along with English, national languages of Scotland. Saying that Gaelic and Scots are national languages of Scotland is apparently justification for a Unionist to liken, in all seriousness, English speakers in Scotland to the victims of the Rwandan genocide and saying that this blog is an incitement to genocide. Far more seriously than any abuse directed at me, that was an insult to the real survivors and victims of real genocide. I don’t recall any Unionists calling the author out for it though.

The accounts responsible for some of the worse Unionist behaviour on platforms like Twitter are engaged with and interacted with by prominent Unionists. The disgustingly foul misogynist Brian Spanner has a whole spannerbag full of prominent Unionist friends who seemingly claim that calling women by the c-word is just a bit of banter. That selfsame Stephen Daisley who likened the entire independence movement to white supremacists is an online friend of the Spanner account and the person or persons behind it. He even tried to make out that Spanner’s apology to some of the women that he or they had abused should be the end of the matter and praised the anonymous account for making an anonymous apology. An anonymous apology is no apology at all.

The dominant characteristic of Unionist abuse is the complete and utter failure of Unionists to recognise that Unionists are frequently abusive. On the very rare occasions when an instance of Unionist abuse attracts the public notice of prominent Unionists, it is always regarded as an isolated instance which is in no way characteristic of Unionism as a whole. This is in very marked contrast to how Unionists depict the online behaviour of independence supporters. The bad behaviour of one independence supporter becomes a characteristic of the movement as a whole.

This isn’t merely about the online abusive behaviour of Unionists however. That’s bad enough. A blindness to their own bad behaviour and unpleasant sentiments runs right through Unionism like a stalk of rock with the words FUCK YOU WE’RE BRITISH written in the middle. The Tories condemn, on remarkably little evidence, the anti-English sentiment that supposedly animates the SNP, yet are incapable of acknowledging, never mind dealing with, the sectarian bigotry that blights their party in Scotland. Labour decries the evils of nationalism while its leaders seek a hard Brexit just like the Tories and wants to put limits on immigration, utterly incapable of admitting to the reality that the Labour party is a British nationalist project. Unionist after Unionist will line up to tell you that they are opposed to nationalism, yet in practice they are advocates of a narrow minded, exclusionary and parochial British nationalism.

It’s never pleasant to face up to bad behaviour from your own colleagues, compatriots, allies and friends. But the independence movement does so. We have the moral strength and the conviction to make our case and to call out what we think is wrong, even when it comes from our own side. I was criticised by some independence supporters for my recent stance in supporting Stu Campbell. In turn I criticised other independence supporters for actions of theirs that I disagreed with. That’s not a sign of weakness, that’s a sign of strength. That’s the sign of a campaign that’s not afraid to challenge the British establishment, and is not afraid to challenge itself.

The case for independence is strong and robust enough to withstand self-criticism, Unionism isn’t. Unionism cannot bear to examine itself. It is not a self-reflective or thoughtful movement. Unionism is the reactionary support of a dying British establishment, a phenomenon which cannot bear to understand its own motives or motivations, because it’s terrified that if it did then it would evaporate like a dirty puddle on a summer’s day. Because there is no depth to it. The real brittle fragility is on the Unionist side. When it comes, and it’s coming, the collapse of Scottish Unionism will be rapid.


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 Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, 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.

Many thanks.