The fireball in the sky

There’s a fireball in the sky, it’s getting closer and closer. The dinosaurs aren’t, for the most part, worried about it. It shines in the sky, it brightens up the day, why be concerned? That’s a good thing, isn’t it? Even if it does hit the Earth, it won’t be so bad. Things are never as bad as the doomsayers predict, says the stone chiselled press that sees the fireball as an opportunity to have two suns. There are rumours that the minor reptiles are paying pterosaurs to spread fake stories that the only survivors will be those who’ve dug themselves deep holes in the ground where they can shelter from the firestorm. Let’s just get on with things, we can deal with the future when it happens. Now stop talking about evolving into a burrowing species. We’re dinosaurs, we don’t need any of that evolving into more intelligence creatures nonsense. We’re the brutish British emperors of the animal kingdom. We make the rules. It’s all the fault of immigrant mammals anyway.

That’s pretty much the attitude of a lot of people toward Brexit. It hasn’t happened yet. Deal with it when it happens. Most people aren’t politics junkies. They’d rather watch the sparkly costumes of Strictly and are far more interested in the politics of the Premier League or the machinations of Kardashians. Get home from a boring job that hardly pays, switch on the box with the pretty lights, and switch off. They’re more concerned about getting through the week with enough cash to pay the grocery bill. Fish fingers have gone up in price again, and that’s all you can get the wean to eat without a fuss.

That’s what happens with poverty, that’s what happens with austerity. It means that you have to spend so much of your precious energy and personal resources just to survive that there’s not much left over for bigger pictures. You’re going to resent being asked to think about other things when you’ve got enough on your plate trying to get enough on your kids’ dinner plates. The Tories like it that way. Austerity isn’t just about enriching the wealthy, it’s mostly about disempowering and disengaging the poor. Ask a disengaged and unenthused person if they want another referendum, and they’ll look at you with a glare. The Tories win by killing hope and strangling dreams, by destroying joined up thinking and grinding us down. Austerity is a tool of control.

So people ignore the omens and portents, the haruspices with the entrails of Theresa May’s cluelessness, the crystal ball that’s as cold and glassy as whatever it is that going on between the ears of Boris Johnson, the house of Tarot cards that’s more solid and stable than Whitehall’s Brexit plans. The fireball in the sky is getting brighter, let’s go to the beach and get a tan.

On Thursday, Theresa May presented her plan for the status of EU citizens in the UK to the EU. It’s a great offer, a generous offer, said Theresa. The enthusiasm about a breakthrough in the negotiations lasted as long as it took the EU to give the back of Theresa’s fag packet a cursory glance and then they said, “Meh.” It now transpires that in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, the Conservative cabinet agreed almost unanimously that the UK should unilaterally offer some strong and stable certainty to EU citizens resident in the UK. Theresa May was the only one to refuse. She wants to use them as a bargaining counter. The EU is less than impressed and now we’re seeing the result. From David Davis’s humiliating climb down earlier this week, to the president of the EU council Donald Tusk saying with a sad and disappointed face like a father who’s seen his kid pee all over his boss’s desk on bring your kid to work day that the proposal is below his expectations, the negotiations have got off to a poor start for Britain. And they’re only going to get worse.

Meanwhile Labour is as confused and clueless as David Mundell when he’s asked a question that can’t be answered by saying how bad the SNP is. Apparently the Labour party doesn’t want the hard Brexit of the Tories, and on that basis they attracted thousands of remain supporting younger voters to support them in the election. But then they say that they do want to leave the Single Market and the Custom’s Union, which is pretty much the definition of a hard Brexit. Vince Cable of the Lib Dems wrote a furious article in the Guardian about how Labour is betraying the young voters who supported the party. Lib Dems know a lot about betraying young voters. It might be the most glaring instance of pots calling kettles since Frankenstein’s Monster accused Michael Jackson of having too much plastic surgery.

But Vince does have a point. Does anyone actually know what Labour’s position on Brexit is? Lesley Laird, Labour’s new shadow Scottish Secretary, certainly doesn’t. Labour claims it’s committed to Brexit, but it’s even more confused on the details than the Tories are, and that’s a bit like saying that you’re worse at playing Scrabble than an alien from the distant galaxy where Theresa May has cooked up her Brexit plans who communicates via the medium of wet farts and suspicious smells. Which to be honest isn’t an unfair assessment of how the rest of the EU perceive the UK’s attempts at negotiations so far. Jeremy Corbyn might be politically the diametric opposite of Donald Trump, but like Trump it seems that he’s hopeless when it comes to the daily grind of politics, and only really comfortable when he’s campaigning. You can’t run a government with a placard.

Meanwhile the fireball is getting closer and closer. This week the Scottish dinosaur in chief David Mundell demanded that the furry mammals of the SNP stop making plans to dig a deep burrow and escape from the fireball. People don’t want a burrow, he said as he stamped his big clawed foot.

Even so, right now in this period of denial and let’s not think about it, slightly over half of people say that they want a referendum on independence. A large majority say that they want a referendum on the outcome of Brexit. The only way Scotland will get a referendum on Brexit is for Scotland to have its own, Westminster isn’t going to give us one. The next independence referendum will be a referendum on Brexit. As the fireball approaches and things start to heat up, the demand for a way out is going to rise.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

The bendiness of bananas

When I was a wean people used to scoff about banana republics where the establishment had no respect for democracy, no respect for the rule of law, no respect for the checks and balances that ensure that the people get a hearing in the corridors of power. They’d laugh at the inflated balloons in their fancy uniforms who strutted and posed as they trod democracy into the dirt. They’d look contemptuously on the failing states where infrastructure crumbled and distasters piled up in human tragedies, losing count of stories of grief and loss. But we’re not laughing now as we look upon the ruined road to the failed state, and realise it’s the one that we’re treading. Britain is the only country in the world that has become a banana state over the bendiness of a banana.

We’re living in a country where there’s actually a person whose job is to hold a hat on a stick during the state opening of parliament while the government is clueless and mired in confusion as it takes us to the cliffs of Brexit without a plan or a clue. We’ve got no right to feel superior to the banana republicans with their fancy uniforms and bloated pride. Britain is every bit as bad. Britain is country where democracy is weak and accountability as meaningless as a flunky with a hat on a stick, a stick that Scotland is being beaten with.

The Prime Minister has taken it upon herself to define what Brexit means. Our interim Prime Minster lost her majority after taking us into an unwanted election on a personal crusade to increase her own power. She failed, but she’s carrying on as though nothing much has happened. We’re still expected to trust in Theresa to make all decisions, the banana republic dictator who’s the arbiter of everything. The puffed up authoritarian with her flunky with a hat on a stick as the country is mired in a crisis that her party created as a by-product of putting its short term party political interests first. The Tory response to this crisis is to grab yet more power for themselves. Laws passed by so called Henry VIII powers, the powers of Holyrood changed as a result of Brexit and devolved competencies being taken back by Westminster. And yet no one voted for any of this.

There’s a huge power grab going on at UK level, and by weakening and diminishing the power of the Scottish parliament the Scottish Unionist parties are complicit in it. What’s been happening in Scotland over the past few days and weeks amounts to nothing less than a concerted assault on the pillars of Scottish democracy by a vindictive British state that sees its rule threatened. This is what a British coup looks like.

Holyrood has already passed a bill for a referendum, but the Tories and their pals want that vote overturned because they gained more seats – but still didn’t win a majority – in another election entirely, an election which had nothing to do with the powers of Holyrood. Can you imagine what the response of the Tories would be if the SNP or other parties demanded that Theresa May put a halt to Brexit because the Tories had lost seats in a council election? But that’s exactly parallel to what the Tories are demanding of the Scottish government now, and they’re being aided and abetted by a supine press that’s helping in the destruction of the free society it’s supposed to be defending.

The Unionist parties wouldn’t be so desperate to prevent a second independence referendum from ever taking place if they were confident of winning it. If they were confident of winning they’d be desperate for another referendum, because then they could silence the calls for another vote for decades to come. The reason they’re so desperate to prevent another referendum is because they know the chances are that they’d lose it. They’d lose it because there is a large and substantial body of Scottish opinion that wants independence, and another body of opinion which is no in principle opposed to it but which remains to be persuaded. All the Tory foot stamping in the world won’t make that go away. You do not heal differences of opinion by demanding that those who disagree with you shut up.  People are told to shut up in banana republics.

Meanwhile voting in Scotland no longer seems to count for anything much. Scotland voted by a very large margin to remain a part of the EU, but that vote is being ignored. Scotland’s parliament voted for a referendum, obeying the mandate given to the Scottish government by the people of Scotland in the Holyrood election of 2016, but the Unionist parties demand that vote is ignored. Scotland returned the SNP as the largest party, giving them a large majority of Scotland’s Westminster seats, but that majority is being ignored. Scotland said no to a Tory victory. Failed Westminster candidate Ian Duncan gets elevated to the House of Lords and is given a job in the government despite being rejected by the voters of Perth. Whatever happened to respecting the result of the ballot? What was that about no means no? That only applies when it suits the Unionist parties. It doesn’t seem to apply to the Tories in Perth or anywhere else.

Today it was confirmed that the Scottish Parliament has the right to vote on Theresa May’s Great Repeal Bill because it has a direct impact on devolved powers. The Scottish Parliament must vote it down and say no to Theresa May’s power grab, say no to the Tory self-interest that’s destroying democracy, say no to Scotland being ripped out of the EU against its will. It won’t prevent Brexit. Yet again Westminster and the Tories will overrule Scotland. But we shouldn’t make it easy for them.  The Tories created this constitutional crisis, and this is the crisis that will show that the UK state is no longer fit for purpose.

It’s not too late to halt and turn back before Scotland becomes the kailyaird state, a walled off and neglected back garden of a broken Britain fit only for growing the stunted banana plants of small horizons and little hopes. The Conservative assault on Scottish democracy must be resisted by all and any legal means available. The Scottish Government must make it clear that its mandate to hold another independence referendum when the results of the Brexit process become clear remains undiminished. It’s more important now than ever that the grass roots independence movement steps up and organises. Democracy is nothing if it is not a participatory process. The Tories want us to stop participating, to sit back quietly and meekly as they order and command. Let’s not let them. This is about more than the bendiness of bananas.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

The ship of fools in the ship of state

Theresa May is supposed to be conducting what are widely agreed to be some of the most difficult and important negotiations that the UK has faced in recent history, and she can’t even negotiate a deal to keep her own government in office. Mind you, it’s not like anyone should have had high expectations of success. This after all is the Prime Minister who put David Davis in charge of getting a good Brexit deal, even though he paid for that U2 album in full and thinks that BOGOF is the lead EU negotiator from Bulgaria.

The deal with the DUP to keep Theresa May’s government safe is looking as though it’s as lifeless as the atmosphere of a rocky asteroid in that distant galaxy where Theresa May dreams of a making a success of Brexit. According to reports on Tuesday, the DUP were saying that they were surprised at the low level of negotiating experience in May’s government. That bodes well doesn’t it. The DUP is reportedly angry at being taken for granted, a perception which wasn’t helped by Theresa May’s office prematurely announcing that a deal had been reached and then having to hurriedly withdraw. You’d have thought that the DUP would have approved of early withdrawal, seeing as how they oppose contraceptive rights, but apparently not in this instance.

The government of the UK which is going to take on the entire might of the European Union in order to get Britain a good deal for Brexit, and it’s been outwitted by a bunch of creationists and climate change deniers whose idea of negotiating is to march with a big drum and some guys with orange sashes singing about killing Catholics. Although to be honest that’s an unfair characterisation, certain supporters of the DUP have many years of experience, having been involved in negotiations for decades. There’s negotiating cash for ash, not to mention the hostage negotiations, protection racket negotiations, and negotiating a truce with the paramilitary crime gang in the next estate.

The talks to arrange a deal, according to the DUP, have not been progressing as expected, by which they meant that they had expected the Conservatives to have some sort of a clue about what they wanted, how to achieve it, and how to put it into effect. One of those things that the rest of us call a “plan”, in other words. The Tories don’t do plans, at least not in the sense that anyone else would recognise it. What Tories do is short term self interest, bluster, and bullying. When faced across the negotiating table with people who do have a plan, the Tories are left with nothing except confusion and Daily Mail headlines blaming the Germans. Instead of the smooth and easy progression that the DUP had expected, they discovered that the talks were progressing like an Orange Walk in Drumcree and were being hampered by people who were pointing out, quite reasonably which is unusual for Tories, that the DUP are climate change denying creationist whose idea of women’s rights is allowing women to choose what tea service to use and who think that not actually being stoned by an angry mob of Presbyterian fundamentalists counts as all the gay rights that anyone has any right to expect.

The Queen’s Speech is on top of us, and there’s no deal agreed with the DUP. The fate of the UK government is more uncertain and more chaotic than it was last week, and it was pretty messed up then. Theresa May can, and probably will, press ahead with minority government even without the support of the DUP, but that’s making a weak position so much weaker. The British government descends into a confused disaster zone, just at the very time that the country is crying out for leadership, and they’ve created this mess all by themselves. It’s all so needless, and all a result of the greed for power of the Conservative party and their determination to put short term party interest before all other considerations.

They’re doing that again this week in Scotland. Tory MEP Ian Duncan stood as the Westminster candidate for Perth, and lost. But the Tories wanted him in the Scotland Office, and so they’ve given him a peerage and have installed him in government anyway, despite the fact that the voters rejected him just a few days ago. What happened to respecting the result of the ballot box eh? It now turns out that it only applies when it suits the Tories, but now they’ve proven that their insistence on respecting votes is hypocritical cant. And we’ll be reminding them of it at every opportunity.

The only reason that Theresa May is limping on in power is because no one else wants to take responsibility for the epic galactofuck that will pass for British government for the foreseeable future. Many amongst the Tories want Theresa to carry the can for the next few months at least, and then they can mount a leadership challenge when the shape of Brexit becomes clearer.

It was already considered as difficult to get a decent deal on Brexit as it was to get a Tory MP to vote for stricter regulations on rental properties. Now it’s likely to be impossible. Westminster doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what it wants to get from the Brexit negotiations beyond a confused mush of contradictory wishes and fond hopes. As a nation, we’d be better off buying a lottery ticket and putting all our hopes for a better future in a daydream of a jackpot win. At least there are finite odds of winning the lottery, vanishingly small, but at least they can be quantified and are realistic. All there is for Brexit is a fantasy of flag waving and empire nostalgia and there’s not even slim odds of any of it coming true.

The only certainty left in British politics is that there is no certainty. There is no stability, there is no security. Not risking the supposed certainty, stability, and security of the British state was one of the main campaign points of the Better Together campaign in 2014, the British state has destroyed that all by itself. We can’t predict what the shape of British politics will be next month, never mind in two years’ time. Anyone who says that Scotland must rule out any prospect of a referendum on the outcome of Brexit is a fool. But then the Tories have demonstrated that we’re governed by fools. The British ship of state is a ship of fools.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Journey to Yes, 16 : The Economy

The latest in Phantom Power’s Journey to Yes series.  This is the 16th in the series and the second of the Sector episodes, this time dealing with the vital issue of the economy and taxation. This episode is perhaps one of the most important and raises crucial issues for the independence movement.

Richard Murphy is a political economist, author, chartered accountant and one of the world’s leading thinkers on tax and how it can change society. He advises the Trades Union Congress on economics and taxation, and a long-standing member of the Tax Justice Network. Richard is Professor of Practice in International Political Economy at City University.

Just 10 years ago it was difficult to take the idea of Scottish independence seriously. Now Richard sees leaving the UK as the only way for Scotland to reach its full economic and human potential. In this special extended episode Richard discusses the economic forces powering the Yes movement, dismantles the case for GERS and looks at the key issues of currency, investment and taxation that must be addressed to win the independence argument. The prize is a better Scotland.

Richard’s Blog:
http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/
Richard’s fascinating book on the power of tax for a fairer society
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Q5TV8F…

Aw mooth and nae troosers

Day one, and the Brexit talks are going really well. That’s if you define really well as “abject surrender”. The No-Surrender boys and girls of the DUP are less than impressed. David Davis, the UK minister of state for the big boys done it and ran away, went into the Brexit talks promising the “row of the summer”. He was going to stamp his ruby red shoes until Britain got the yellow brick exit road that he wanted out of EUz. The Wizards of the EU would get the sharp end of David’s tongue and they’d learn that they were powerless to resist the mighty power of a headline in the Daily Express full of CAPITAL letters. Britain wanted talks on a new trade deal to be conducted in parallel with talks on the specifics of the Brexit divorce, and by the power of Theresa May’s statement jewellery that’s what David was going to get.

A year ago, David was boasting that Britain would be positively dripping in trade deals within 18 months of the referendum. The man in charge of the UK’s Brexit negotiations didn’t know that it’s legally impossible for the UK to negotiate any new trade deals until after Brexit. This is the man who said that the EU needs the UK more than the UK needs the EU. They’ll come to their senses and cave in and give Britain everything it wants, he boasted, being so full of himself that he didn’t realise that it was him who hadn’t come to his senses. He was so confident that he airly told the Brexit committee of the House of Commons that he hadn’t done an impact assessment on what would happen if there was no deal with the EU. Just a couple of weeks ago he was boasting again, claiming that sequencing would be the row of the summer and that if the EU didn’t agree to hold trade talks in parallel the UK would walk out.

Having puffed himself up with more expectations of favourable treatment than Ruth Davidson doing an interview with the Daily Telegraph, big bad Davie went in to tell Michel Barnier how it was going to go down. Britain was going to get a grand trade deal. Britain was going to get untrammelled access to the EU single market but it was going to leave the single market. There was going to be no border with the Irish Republic but a border at Calais. There was going to be no free movement of foreigners into Britain but free movement of British citizens into the EU. There was going to be no bill for leaving the EU, just a magic money tree that would grow free NHS’s. There was going to be a magic unicorn that crapped out gold bricks and Conservative majority governments. And all these things were going to be negotiated simultaneously.

It was going to be the closest thing to a plan that the British government was ever going to have. It’s what the British people were going to have overwhelmingly voted for as soon as David got his hands on that magic unicorn. It was a great plan, a grand plan, the Daily Express headlines agreed so it must have been true. He was going into the negotiations with his head held high, which is something that people only say when they know they’re going to be humiliated.

Of course it turned out that it wasn’t so much that David had his head held high as he was craning his neck like a giraffe in order to get a better view because he had no idea about what was going to appear. What did appear was an EU negotiator as deaf to arguments as a Tory MSP at a Yes 2 Rally. David got ready to roar. And a wee moose squeaked. It didn’t walk out. It didn’t even scurry away. The reality is that it’s the UK that needs the EU. It was one nil to the EU within thirty seconds of negotiations.

The row of the summer turned out to be David saying meekly “Oh, that’s OK then,” when the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told him non. That’s the UK that Scotland is told it needs, aw mooth and nae troosers. First they’ll negotiate the terms of Britain’s exit, then, and only then, once that’s been concluded, will the EU allow talks on a new trade deal. That’s how it’s going to be, and there’s bugger all that Britain can do about it. That’s what happens when you’re outnumbered 27 to one. All the Tory jingoistic bravado turned out to be as empty as Boris Johnson’s reservoir of common sense, as false as an opinion poll predicting a landslide majority, as fake as Theresa May’s empathy.

Britain will get the timetable that suits the EU. On the very first day, on the very first issue, Britain backs down. These talks aren’t going to be negotiations so much as they’re going to be the EU dictating terms and the UK agreeing to what it can get. The reason for that is because there is no such thing as a good Brexit deal. There’s the unmitigated chaos of no deal at all, and then there are varying shades of bad deals. We’re now dealing with a damage limitation exercise, only it’s a damage limitation exercise being led by the clowns who caused the damage in the first place, and who still cling to the delusional belief that the chaotic wreckage that they’re creating is better than the order they’re destroying.

Saying that you’re going to get a good Brexit deal is like saying that you’re going to be better off by giving up your steady job as a Tory MP so you can hold out a polystyrene cup outside Gregg’s and beg for spare change. Although admittedly in that scenario the rest of the planet would be infinitely better off. There may be an infinite number of universes in the multiverse, but in this universe the chances of getting a good Brexit deal are even thinner than the crowd at a Theresa May Appreciation Club in Tory HQ. There may be an infinite number of universes, but there still aren’t any in which our Prime Minister has a realistic plan for Brexit. There is a universe in which she has a fully functioning set of human emotions, but in that one she spends all her time rocking back and forth and crying hysterically.

After being humiliated by the EU negotiator, David told the British press that the UK would still be leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.  So remember all that guff you were reading in the papers about how much influence Ruth Davidson had now and how she was pressing for an “open” Brexit.  Turns out it was just so much guff after all.  Ruth has as much influence on the actions of the UK government as any other Scottish MP. Bugger all.  Still she does have something in common with David Davis, she’s aw mooth and nae troosers too.

Brexit is bad by definition. It’s not malice on the part of the EU. It’s not ill-will. It’s a simple fact that the EU cannot and will not agree to any deal that allows a former member state to be better off by leaving the EU than they were by being a part of it. Because if such a deal were possible then there is no point to the EU. It’s an existential question, and David Davis is having to negotiate in French. The French invented existentialism. David Davis and the UK with him are going to be left with all the dignity of a man with his underpants on his head, quoting Jean Paul Sartre. That’s why it’s vital that the option of another referendum is kept alive. We’re going to need it once the Tory clowns have finished tripping over their shoes.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Welcome to Tory Britain

The alarm goes off and you drag yourself out of bed. Drudge, trudge, nursing a grudge against the alarm clock that rules you. You got through another sleepless night, tossing, turning, sitting upright at every sound at every creak at every voice in the distant night. The nightmare of fire burns in your mind. You open the blinds and the fire risk rubbish remains piled up against the side of your block. You’d reported it to the council and the woman in the housing office shrugged her austerity shoulders. We all have to tighten our belts said the Tory MP, as his party tightened its belt around the neck of the poor. We need to free up business he said, as he slashed through the regulations that keep us all safe. Chances for the rich to make more money are more important than the opportunity of the poor to rest easy in their beds. Austerity is paid for by the low paid, those struggling in poverty, the disabled and the disadvantaged. They pay for it in sleepless nights, in nightmare visions, they pay for it in the grief and death that come from a bonfire of red tape.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your compassion.

Up to labour away at a job that doesn’t pay. Crush your soul at a job you hate that barely puts food on the table. It will be okay you tell yourself. Things will be fine. Just work and work and don’t cause a fuss so you can keep that one pay cheque coming, the one that stands between you and homelessness because an unsafe home is better than no home at all. The paycheque that you juggle and stretch with the finesse of a circus act, one false move away from disaster. Avoiding disaster the only constant theme. The paycheque that just about allows you to buy a lottery ticket so you can fantasise of a better life, one where you can give the kids everything they want and need. But all you got was one odd number and no bonus. Defer the fantasy until next week, if you can afford to pay your two quid daydream tax.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your hope.

Waiting in the rain for the early morning bus to the warehouse where you work in the dark on a zero hours contract. You watch the expensive car go by, splashing the mud in the puddles. There might be a pension waiting for you in your late 70s if you live that long. That might even be before this damn bus arrives, with its fares that cost you an hour’s labour every day. Your kids might get to university if they do well enough at a school where the budget’s been slashed to the bone. They might even find jobs that let them pay down their debt. They might escape from the fate that consumes you, the never-ending slog, the hamster wheel, the knowledge that life is a exercise in lowering your expectations. The bus still hasn’t appeared. If you’re late again you might lose this job. Lose this job you lose your home. Lose your home you lose your dignity. That’s all you have left. There’s a price on dignity in this cold wet land where the only growth industries are foodbanks and tears.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your dreams.

The expensive car with its well upholstered seats is driven by a well upholstered man who voted for this, who helped it along, who’s happy with the way things are, who sneers at the idea that things could ever be different. He’ll be just fine. His upholstery protects him from the consequences of his vote. He’s got his magic money tree, it was planted by the bank of Mum and Dad and fertilised by their contacts then tended by networking. I’ve worked hard for what I’ve got, he says as he drives to the job that he landed because he went to the same private school as the guy who owns the business. I’m a wealth creator, he says as he pays his staff the minimum wage and looks forward to his bonus. He doesn’t buy a lottery ticket. That’s for suckers. He’s already won the lottery of life.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your aspiration.

Brexit is an opportunity, says the Tory politician. It’s an opportunity like a famine is an opportunity for rats and a plague a chance for fleas. Brexit is a chance to make a leaner meaner Britain, to rip up labour laws so that the guy in the expensive car can ponder his chances to make a few more quid on the backs of his workers. Cutting rights, cutting pay, cutting dignity. Dignity costs. You’ll be leaner, the state will be meaner. Brexit is a chance to make a better Britain, better for well upholstered men in well upholstered cars. Brexit Britain is better to blame migrants for your problems. It’s better to blame Europe for bent bananas than to blame the real causes of British decline. Better not blame corporate greed. Better not blame Tory xenophobia. Better not blame a lying press that deceives and cheats. Better hide away in insular ignorance.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your internationalism.

Public services reel and crumble. Atomised and broken, trade unions destroyed, society’s ties that bind untied and loosened. The disabled thrown to the wolves. The gulf between rich and poor grows wider than the gap between the late bus and the well upholstered car. It races off into the distance and leave the bus queue spattered in mud from the puddle. If you’re born poor you’ll never catch up. If you’re disabled you’ll never take part in the race. Society shatters and breaks open. The chasms open up and we fall down the cracks never to crawl out again. Chewed up and swallowed. The ashes of your dreams rise in the sky.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your solidarity.

£4 billion for Westminster palace. £400 million for Buckingham palace. £7.6 million in government funding for Wentworth House, the palacial home of Jacob Ree Mogg’s wife’s family. £5 million for the survivors of Grenfell Tower, no palace. It’s not a question of there being no money, it’s a matter of priorities. There’s quantative easing for bankers, billions conjured out of thin air. There’s grants and assistance aplenty, but only if you’re rich enough not to need it to survive. There is a magic money tree, at least there is for the rich and the well connected. But it’s not really magic, it’s just a cheap trick.

Welcome to Tory Britain, you’ll have had your consideration.

If you voted Tory, you’ve no one to blame but yourself. You voted for this. You voted to deprive your children of the chances you had. You voted to kick away the crutches of the disabled. You voted to turn your back on the world. You voted to demonise the migrants. You voted away your human rights. You didn’t vote to give Scotland a voice in Westminster, you voted to give Westminster a voice in Scotland. You voted for austerity. You voted for uncertainty. You voted for private greed. You voted for nightmares and sleepless nights.  You voted for a bonfire of regulations that ended in a bonfire, the wicker man for the greedy gods of Toryism looming over West London.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your say.

Scotland doesn’t want another divisive referendum, say the Tories as they build a wall between the haves and the have nots and make the poor pay for it. No more divisions, says the Conservative cant as it divides, destroys and dismays. Get back to the day job, the drudgery, the hard unrewarding slog. Get to the back of the queue. Be silent. Get back to your death trap and your sleepless nights. Do as you’re told. They crow, they trumpet triumphalism. They exhult in their gains. But they still lost. Their victories are hollow, full of sound and fury and resting on the backs of spineless politicians whose idea of standing up for Scotland is to stand to attention and obey when May barks an order. But they fought this campaign on one single issue, on saying no to another referendum. Yet Scotland still said no to the Tories. For all their strut and swagger, they lost.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your democracy.

Welcome to the story of Scotland. We didn’t vote Tory but we’ve got them anyway. Yet our hopes are still alive. Our dreams are still being dreamt. Our day will come, and it will come sooner than you might think. There’s no point in a Union that doesn’t serve the needs of one of the countries that form that union. Every cut that the Tories make, every life that the Tories shatter, brings the realisation closer that there is a better way. Tory Britain is the end of Britain, the pain we feel is the birth pains of a better Scotland. It’s coming yet. Unstoppable. Once you’ve learned how to hope it’s a lesson you can never unlearn. It’s within us. Disappointments have a beginning and an end, but hope is infinite. There is light and hope still, and there’s nothing Tory Britain can do to quench it. There’s a beacon of hope on the hill, a beacon of independence, and we’re heading towards it with our dignity intact. We are the tide. We cannot be stopped.

Welcome to Tory Britain. You’ll have had your United Kingdom.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

The consequence of greed and arrogance

All our thoughts and sympathies go out to those affected by the horrific fire in Grenfell Tower in London. In the aftermath of such a horrifying disaster, the priority must be the welfare of the living and the support of the bereaved while survivors are still traumatised and families are raw in grief and bodies remain uncollected amidst the ashes of a skyscraping tomb that sears the skyline of London. While it’s important not to prejudge the inquiry into what caused a densely inhabited tower block to go up in flames like a tinder dry forest, it is appropriate to talk about the responses of our political masters to the tragedy. It is appropriate to discuss some of the broader factors which might have led to the appalling events that have distressed the entire country.

This is a tragedy, an appalling accident, but it wouldn’t have happened if poor people weren’t crowded into a poorly maintained and underfunded tinderbox right next to luxury mansions that lie empty in tax avoidance schemes for the wealthy. Residents of the Grenfell Tower made complaint after complaint about conditions in the block, complaints that were ignored and dismissed. No fire sprinklers, reports that the cladding was chosen for its looks and not for its fire-retardant properties, only a single stairway, works that impeded exits. Residents had a litany of issues, and yet were consistently ignored. The expectation of the Conservative run council seemed to be that poor people should be grateful for whatever hovel they receive in social housing. There was no place for dignity in their spreadsheets, no place for compassion, no place for understanding. The attitudes formed at the top trickle down to the minor functionaries and officials who have to implement the politics of greed.

The council was seemingly more concerned about the tower’s aesthetics so it wouldn’t displease the eyes of the wealthy when they visit their empty properties nearby than they were concerned to provide dignified homes that are fit to live in for those who clean the big houses, who work in the hospitals, who repair the roads. This is a society which spends more on fire safety measures in empty blocks of luxury flats which are used as tax breaks for the rich than it spends to provide fire breaks in tower blocks that people actually live in. This is a society whose priorities are warped by the greed of those who have it all already.

This is a tragedy that was compounded because the low paid and people dependent on social security are neglected and sidelined by an authoritarian system which expects them to do as they’re told and to be grateful for the crumbs they’re tossed. Don’t complain, don’t demand improvements. You’ll get what you’re given and be grateful. Struggle in substandard housing, lucky to have any housing at all. Struggle to put food on the table, lucky to have any food at all. The rich pass by in their expensive cars on their way to their expensive houses living lives of opportunity and insist that people with nothing have it easy. The demonisation of the poor starts at the top, and it ends in the tears of the powerless in poverty.

In her immediate response to the disaster, Theresa May has shown why she’s unfit to be Prime Minister. All during the election campaign she refused to meet the people, appearing at Tory party events where cameras held a tight focus on the little group of Conservative activists behind her. After this terrible tragedy she visited the site, but descended on the area like an occupier with squads of police. She talked to senior police officers. She talked to senior fire brigade officers. And then she was gone. Her displays of humanity, compassion, and empathy were as empty and soulless as the luxury apartments in the posh parts of the borough. If she can’t demonstrate humanity and compassion after families have been destroyed, she’s never going to. If she can’t demonstrate understanding of suffering caused by something as raw and visceral as a horrific fire, she’s incapable of doing so for something more abstract like social security policy or the consequences of Brexit. She had to be told to visit the victims of the fire in hospital the next day. A person with a functioning sense of empathy wouldn’t need to be told.

Theresa May heads a party whose MPs scoffed when proposals came before parliament in 2016 to ensure that privately rented properties are fit for human habitation. The local government minister at the time said that the proposals would result in “unnecessary regulation and costs to landlords”. That’s where Conservative priorities lie, not in providing homes that allow human beings to live in a basic level of dignity that those MPs would insist on for themselves. Theresa May heads a party which wants to leave the EU in order to rip up regulations and the red tape that ensures that those with money and property have to abide by certain basic standards.

During the General Election campaign a triumphalist Ruth Davidson crowed that the Conservatives would make Britain great again. Most of us would settle for making Britain decent, for making it fit to live in, for making homes safe. But it will never be decent as long as Conservatives govern in the interests of the haves. It will never be fit to live in as long as job insecurity and low wages mean that it’s harder and harder to work your way out of poverty while you’re increasingly mired in debt. Homes will never be safe as long as housing is regarded primarily as an investment and not as a place to live in. We’ll continue to see luxury apartments that stand empty, bought up by shell companies as investment opportunities, while the poor and the low paid struggle with substandard housing, with housing benefit caps, with limited access to social housing and time limits on tenancies, and a burgeoning private rental sector that’s poorly regulated and poorly controlled.

The black and smoking ruins of Grenfell Tower are a monument to decades of neglect, of greed, of arrogance. It wouldn’t have happened in other countries where regulations are stricter and are understood as means to keep people safe, to preserve their dignity, to ensure a basic standard of decency. Here in the UK regulations are regarded by the Conservatives as an impedence on the ability of the rich to enrich themselves further. Let’s weep and grieve for those lost. Cry and mourn for the dead. Then the time of reckoning beckons, those who lost their lives cannot be allowed to have died in vain. This disaster was caused by greed and arrogance. This fire is the bonfire of austerity, the bonfire of Tory vanity, the bonfire of private greed.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016