The real divisiveness is callous Tory greed

One of the most common tropes of those who viscerally oppose independence is the complaint that ‘That Essempee’ has divided Scotland. This is a theme which is enthusiastically promoted by the anti-independence media. For example this week saw the publication of the most recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which found that independence is the preferred constitutional option of 52% of respondents while support for devolution as the preferred option has plummeted to 38%, and support for the outright abolition of the Scottish Parliament remains on just 8% despite the very loud and prominent presence of the staunch Über unionists on social media and in the comments sections of the Herald and the Scotsman.

52% vs 38% vs 8% is a pretty categorical finding which would translate into 53% support for independence in a binary choice referendum where the options were independence or the current Scottish Parliament, and likely would be even more decisive once people appreciate the danger to devolution posed by the current Conservative government which just this week published its so called ‘Brexit Freedoms’ bill, which allows Westminster to unilaterally over rule Holyrood and gives UK ministers the power to act within devolved areas without consent from the Scottish Government. The fact is that devolution is not safe and cannot protect Scotland from a malignant Conservative government that it did not vote for.

Truss would like nothing more than to grant that frothing 8% its dearest Cringing wish. However the only thing which prevents a Tory government which has already proclaimed that the UK is not a voluntary union of four nations, but rather one single British nation, from neutering Holyrood entirely, is the political threat of another vote on Scottish independence. If Scotland is foolish enough to vote no a second time that is exactly what will happen.

There is a broad degree of consensus in Scotland that this country needs a considerable measure of self-government. Nevertheless BBC Scotland chose to frame its report on the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey as yet more evidence that Scotland is a divided society, riven by disagreement over the constitutional question.

When the Conservatives and their allies complain about the divisiveness supposedly caused by the independence debate what they are really complaining about is that they can no longer arrogantly assume, as they did prior to 2014, that Scotland will always get Conservative governments if that is the outcome of a General Election in England. They are upset that they can not continue forever to count on electoral hauners from outwith Scotland for their political opinions which have minority support within Scotland.

They are also upset that their Brit-centric Scottish Cringe is now subject to challenge and they can no longer pontificate in the golf club or bowling club bar about how wee, poor and stupid Scotland is without the risk of being challenged.

The Scottish independence movement is overwhelmingly peaceful and law abiding, the only notable violence associated with the independence debate has come from British nationalist thugs who pose no threat to a douce middle class no voter pursing his or her lips about ‘divisiveness.’

What these no voters are really complaining about are legitimate differences of political opinion which are normal and healthy in a democratic society, the only possible reason that they might become unhealthy is because the anti-independence parties are doing their utmost to prevent these legitimate differences in political opinion from being resolved through the ballot box, which is how a properly functioning democracy deals with such matters.

There are however very deep and very real divisions within the UK, divisions which unlike differences of political opinion have a profound and lasting effect on people’s lives and prospects. Those are the divisions between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots. OECD figures suggest that the UK has one of the highest levels of income inequality amongst the largest economies in Europe (as measured by the Gini coefficient), although income inequality is lower than in the United States. Under successive governments social inequality in the UK is only getting worse. Since 1980, the share of income earned by the top 1% in the UK has generally been rising, rising to to 13% in 2015. This is almost double the corresponding figure for Belgium (7%) and higher than Australia (9%), Sweden (8%) and Norway (8%). These are divisions which blight lives, which create ill health and misery for millions, divisions which cause genuine grief and hardship, not the mild and minor passing discomfort of encountering an individual with a different view of Scotland’s potential place in the world from your own.

Within the UK there is also very pronounced regional inequality. For generations the economic policies of UK Governments have served to concentrate wealth and opportunities in London and the South East of England at the expense of the rest of the UK. The UK is one of the most regionally unequal economies in Europe, in Germany regional inequality is gradually diminishing – and remember Germany had to incorporate an impoverished East which was formerly part of the communist bloc – in the UK regional inequality is only getting worse.

This Conservative government’s much vaunted levelling up programme will do little to help, the Tories are using it as means of funnelling public money into Conservative voting areas and Liz Truss even had the gall to announce that removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses was a part of levelling up, which is literally claiming that you are alleviating poverty by giving the richest more money and making the poorest pay for it.

On Friday Truss’s partner in slime, the chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, fresh from laughing and gurning his way through the Queen’s funeral, unveiled a mini budget which was shocking in its brazen enrichment of the wealthiest while we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis which threatens hundreds of thousands with penury. Kwarteng announced £45 billion in tax cuts, the great bulk of which will go straight into the bank accounts of the wealthy and which will only widen the chasm of life styles and opportunities which exists in the UK between the rich and the poor. Kwarteng’s bungs for the wealthy will be funded by government borrowing which the rest of us will have to pay for and which will be loaded on to the next set of GERS figures as more supposed ‘proof’ of a union dividend.

It’s a mini budget which is truly gob smacking, even by the standards of the Conservatives, for its cruel and callous disregard for the struggles which millions of ordinary working households are currently facing. As well as further enriching the already wealthy at all our expense, he also found time to turn the screw even tighter on those who are worst off, announcing measures to reduce the already meagre incomes of those on Universal Credit if they are deemed not to be making sufficient effort to find work. Effectively he has blamed the UK’s Brexit created labour shortage on the poor. Kwarteng is threatening to strip the poorest and most vulnerable of what little they have, leaving them even more destitute and desperate, more ripe for exploitation by greedy rich to whom he has just given a tax cut.

40% of people on Universal Credit are actually in work, 56% of people in poverty are in a working family, 7 in 10 children in poverty are in a family where at least one parent works. The Tories are cracking down on Universal Credit claimants is because they blame them for their own poverty. they are lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses is because they are rewarding them for their own failure.

The inequality and social injustice of the UK are the real divisions that we need to worry about, they are the divisions that the Conservatives are taking a publicly funded crowbar to as they gleefully prise them ever wider apart. It’s only going to get worse under Truss.

There will always be differences of political opinion in a democracy, independence is Scotland’s only real hope of healing the divisions that really matter, the divisions created by poverty and lack of opportunity. That will never happen as part of the UK. Independence is not about creating division, it’s about healing the wounds and fractures inflicted upon Scotland by successive Conservative governments that we didn’t vote for.

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

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

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

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Tracking Attitudes to independence

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) was published today. This is not a normal opinion poll, rather it is a long term project which tracks how public opinion about a variety of topics has changed over time. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey runs in parallel to the British Social Attitude Survey and has included a question on Scotland’s constitutional debate since 1999. The survey uses a random sample of all those aged 16 and over who live across the whole of Scotland, so it provides a robust and reliable picture of public attitudes in Scotland, with a sample size of over 1600, which is larger than that of a typical opinion poll. SSAS has been a face-to-face survey since 1999 but in2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey was conducted as two separate surveys; one on the telephone and one primarily online. Field work was carried out in October 2021.

This question about the constitutional issue is not framed in the same way as the question in more usual polls, where the question asked, at least in reputable polls, mirrors the likely question which would be put to voters in a referendum – Should Scotland be an independent country?

You might be wondering why an opinion poll carried out a year ago is still relevant. Certainly the usual British nationalist suspects on social media and the supremely self-regarding Scottish Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton have been rushing to dismiss it as irrelevant. However as pointed out above, this is not an ordinary opinion poll, but a long term survey, It does not not ask about Scottish independence in the same way as other polls, rather the SSAS asks respondents about their views on a range of possible constitutional options for Scotland, independence, devolution, or the abolition of Holyrood and direct Westminster rule. The survey invites respondents to say which of five options is closest to their view about how Scotland should be governed:

1. Scotland should become independent, separate from the UK and the European Union
2. Scotland should become independent, separate from the UK but part of the European Union
3. Scotland should remain part of the UK, with its own elected parliament which has some taxation powers
4. Scotland should remain part of the UK, with its own elected parliament which has no taxation powers
5. Scotland should remain part of the UK without an elected parliament

For that reason this survey is not directly comparable to the regular opinion polls that we are more used to. These polls give a snapshot of public opinion at a given moment in time, the aim of the SSAS is to provide a picture of how public opinion is evolving over a longer period. That is what makes today’s publication highly significant, because the SSAS has discovered that for the first time ever, independence is the preferred constitutional option of the people of Scotland. 52% of respondents said that they preferred independence versus 38% who chose devolution and a mere 8% who would like to see the outright abolition of the Scottish Parliament and a return to the constitutional position which held prior to the establishment of devolution following the referendum of 1997.

That 8% who want the abolition of Holyrood is highly vocal on social media and in the comments sections of the anti-independence press, they are also disproportionately represented amongst the embittered ranks of the Scottish Conservatives, who opposed devolution in 1997 and have never been reconciled to it. Of course the fact that so few people in Scotland are in favour of this country coming under the direct control of Westminster will not prevent the most right wing Conservative government that the UK has ever had from continuing its assault on the devolution settlement. Scottish democracy was and has never been a concern of the Conservative party, which is more than willing to ride roughshod over Scottish public opinion when it suits the interests of the Conservative party. This o course makes Tory bleating about ‘respecting the result of the 2014 referendum’, particularly hypocritical.

The survey has found that support for independence has gradually increased in Scotland since the question was first included. In 1999, the year that the devolved parliament was opened, a mere 27% of respondents chose independence as their preferred option, 59% chose devolution, and 10% did not want any Scottish Parliament at all. In 2010 support for independence had declined to 23%%. That was a period when the Scottish Parliament was still new, there was a Labour government in Westminster, and there was still confidence that Holyrood would be able to do the job that it was created to do, to protect Scotland from the excesses and cruelty of a Westminster Conservative government that Scotland did not vote for. Brexit and the years since 2016 have disabused Scotland of that notion.

Over the course of the past 23 years there has been a sea change in Scottish attitudes about independence and Scotland’s constitutional status. The referendum campaign of 2014 normalised independence and forced even those who oppose it to take it seriously. The Brexit vote of 2016 and the perfidy of the anti-independence parties in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum demonstrated that devolution is toothless when it comes to protecting Scotland from the policies of a British Conservative government that it didn’t vote for. We have learned the hard way that opposing independence is not, as British nationalists like to claim, a means of protecting Scotland from damaging change. Damaging change is happening anyway, but without independence Scotland is subject to decisions made elsewhere, and without the powers to allow it to respond adequately to that change.

Independence is now the preferred option of the majority in Scotland, that’s a finding which would have been incredible back in the 1990s, yet now it scarcely comes as a surprise. Over the years, Scotland has been growing away from the UK, a process which will only gain pace as the right wing reactionaries of the Truss government seek to bend an unwilling Scotland to their will. The trajectory charted by the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey is clear. Scotland is well on the path to support for independence being the settled will of the people of Scotland.

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

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

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

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Is it safe yet?

NotmyspanielIs it safe to come out yet? Can we now get on with our lives without being bombarded by incessant sycophantic drivel about members of a rich and privileged family. Personally I am sick to the back teeth of being told that the Queen was like the gushing interviewee’s grandmother. Although admittedly she was just like my own grandmother, in that she was unhuggable, emotionally distant, and I tried very hard to avoid her.

There is a rule of thumb that whenever a newspaper headline is framed as a question, the answer is invariably – No. And that is also the case of the question posed in the first paragraph of this blog piece. No, as long as Scotland remains a part of this supposedly united kingdom, we will never be able to get on with our lives without being bombarded by incessant sycophantic drivel about members of a rich and privileged family. Probably some time next year there will be the coronation of King Charles #NotMySpaniel (a hashtag which I’ll be determined to get trending.) and we will be in for yet more blanket British nationalist – sorry, ‘patriotic’ bollocks taking over the British media as it descends into another paroxysm of orgasmic monarchist gushery complete with Kremlin watching style speculation about the state of the relationship between the royal spaniel’s sons.

But for now, despite the interminable post match analysis of the funeral, the Queue, Meghan Markle, and tearful interviews with assorted coffin watchers, we can get back to real news, or at least what passes for real news in this shit-show of a Britain. The Prime Minister that none of us elected has started her first visit to the USA as British leader with an admission that a UK-US free trade deal isn’t going to happen any time soon — a very marked contrast to the repeated declarations of her predecessors, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, in the post-Brexit era, and the claims of the Brextremists prior to and after the EU referendum that a UK trade deal with America would be signed sealed and delivered within a few months of the UK leaving the EU. Our expectations have already fallen through the floor, yet Truss still feels she needs to manage them. There’s that confident global Britain for you.

If as seems possible, the Conservatives crash the Good Friday Agreement and spark off a trade war with the EU, there may very well be no US-UK trade deal at all. Biden has made it clear that the Good Friday Agreement must be protected and warned ahead of his 2020 election that if Brexit damaged the 1998 Good Friday Agreement he would not consent to a UK-US trade deal.

Also overlooked during the royalgasm of the past two weeks (although if feels like much much longer), Sunday was the eighth anniversary of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The contrast between what Better Together promised Scotland in return for a No vote and what has actually been delivered is stark. We were assured that Scotland would be a loved and respected equal partner in a voluntary union of nations, but now Liz Truss insists that the UK is not a voluntary partnership of nations, but rather ‘one great nation’. We were promised that only a No vote could guarantee Scotland’s place in the EU, yet here we are, out in the cold, stripped of EU membership, citizenship and our freedom of movement and right to live and work in Europe has been sacrificed on the altar of the xenophobic immigrant hatred of the right wing of the Conservative party and the Daily Mail.

We were told that the devolution settlement would be safe and put beyond any Westminster meddling, but the British Government of Theresa May went to the UK Supreme Court to obtain a ruling that the Sewel Convention, that said Westminster needed the consent of Holyrood to infringe on devolved powers, had no force in law, even though it was written into the Scotland Act. Now the Conservatives are openly discussing measures to by-pass and undermine the Scottish Parliament. It’s only the threat of another independence referendum that prevents them from neutering Holyrood entirely and turning it into a toothless talking shop.

These are only a few of the ways in which the Better Together parties have traduced the promises that they made to the people of Scotland when they were panicking about the possibility of a Yes vote in 2014. But even so, apparently it’s only the SNP which must respect the referendum result, the parties which won that vote are to be given a free pass when it comes to respecting the promises, commitments and Vows that they made in order to secure the victory that they so craved. I know I keep banging on about this, but it’s a vitally important point, one which the majority of the Scottish media colludes with Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems in keeping out of the public spotlight. The reason for that is because it’s the betrayal of the Vow and the campaign commitments of the Better Together parties which provides the moral and political justification for a second independence referendum.

If a party or parties cannot be held to account for the promises that they made in order to win a democratic vote, then democracy is neutered and rendered impotent. The Conservatives are now openly discussing gerrymandering and undermining Holyrood in order to ensure that they can never be held to account, because they cannot win power in Scotland.

But never mind that it’s not just Scottish devolution that faces an existential threat from the most right wing Conservative government in history, but Scottish democracy itself. Just look at the flags and the corgis and the parades and pageantry, bask in the British nationalist self-congratulation, and dive head first into the delusional denial that is now the UK’s understanding of itself. This is not the confident assured European democracy that Scotland was promised it could be a part of in 2014. This is an insane, cruel and callous place which makes the poor pay so that the energy companies can rake in billions, a sclerotic polity which is well on the way to full blown authoritarianism.

It’s not safe to come out yet, and it won’t be until Scotland escapes this madness.

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Notes from Normal-island

Oh. My. God. This is totally messed up, he said, gesturing vaguely around at everything. The perfect indication of just what a crazed and insane place we have got to in this so called United Kingdom is that the most sensible public figures on social media right now are Jedward. Yes, that Jedward. The deeply annoying Irish pop poppets, Eurovision entrants and X Factor contestant twins Jedward. They are now providing more mature, thoughtful and insightful commentary on Twitter than anything you’ll find this week on the BBC or Sky. And don’t start me on a print media that publishes photos of a cloud that would look like the queen wearing a squashed cloud hat if you were on psychoactive drugs.

For most of the supposedly serious and [checks notes] world class British media, if they got any further up the arse of the new King Charles, they’d be wearing the crown themselves. For my own part, I’m still at the stage where whenever anyone says King Charles, I immediately mentally add ‘Spaniel’. One striking realisation from the coverage of the Scottish stages of the proceedings is how little many of the commentators actually know about the history of the relationship between England and Scotland.

Currently as I type this, some random sycophantic commentator on the telly, which is just about all of them at the moment, has said, in all apparent seriousness, that when the Queen appeared alongside Paddington Bear in that short skit that was released at the Jubilee, she wasn’t acting opposite “the real Paddington.” Next thing they’re going to tell us is that the dinosaurs on Jurassic Park weren’t real either. That’s the BBC’s mission to educate and inform for you. Anyway, as any royal commentator worth his or her salt ought to know, the real Paddington is Peruvian, so comes from a country where they have a republic, and presumably right now a TV service which is actually still talking about real news.

Still, at this time of National MourningⒸ it’s a huge comfort that we can all come together, prayerfully and respectfully united in deep loathing and contempt for the performative mourning virtue signaller snowflakes of GeeBeebies News and all the other channels where sycophantic royalist, grovelling platitude mongering ‘newsreaders’ talk in that muted and regretful tone that you usually reserve for phoning in sick when you have a hangover.

On Monday 19th, the day of the state funeral, shops and supermarkets will be closed, a number of food banks have also announced that they will be closed ‘as a mark of respect.’ Although clearly not respect for people who are going hungry. Cancer appointments have been cancelled. Center Parcs will be chucking everyone out that day. Shortly after announcing the decision, Center Parcs did a U-turn after realising that it had trained its guests in archery, shooting, swimming, canoeing, and swinging through the trees like apes, meaning it had basically got village-loads of ninjas to clear out.

All other funerals will be cancelled on day the queen is buried, how is this remotely sane behaviour? Closing food banks and cancelling NHS operations and interventions on Monday “out of respect” for a dead monarch. The distillation of everything that is wrong with the UK in two acts of abject and needless cruelty.

On Sunday a BBC commentator narrating the interminable live coverage of the hearse carrying the Queen’s coffin from Balmoral to Edinburgh through Scottish city streets lined with silent onlookers explained to viewers that “Scottish people don’t emote as enthusiastically as people down south.” He has clearly never been to a Scottish football match, or a concert, or indeed any gathering of Scottish people that wasn’t actually a funeral. What did he expect? Hysterical people, crying, screaming, ripping their clothes in grief and throwing marmalade sandwiches at the cortege?

Whether republican or royalist, most Scots have enough integrity to be able to show quiet and dignified respect to a deceased person. That certainly doesn’t mean that they are confirmed royalists, for all the efforts of the BBC to politicise this event in the service of the anti-independence cause. To all the British journalists, who think the Union is safe because Scotland showed respect to a dead Monarch, watch what happens with the live one.

While the service for the late queen was taking place at St Giles Cathedral, the new King’s staff at his residence in London, Clarence House, were receiving redundancy notices. He’s moving in to Buckingham Palace so they are no longer required. It’s beyond the pale to protest against the monarchy during his time of National MourningⒸ but it’s perfectly OK for Charles to sack his staff. Of course, he did it ‘reverently.’ Sacking his surplus servants was Charles’s first act as king. His second was to give his brother Andrew a job. Prince Andrew has been appointed a Counsellor of State for the new king, given the role of stepping in for King Charles if he ever becomes sick or leaves the country, meaning Andrew is effectively the deputy king. The law does dictate that the role goes to the next four in line for the throne, but Charles could have held off and made it known that he wanted legislators to change the law so that Andrew’s place could have been taken by Princess Anne. It’s not like they’d say no. Charles chose not to.

There’s grotesquely out of touch for you. The kid who heckled Prince Andrew for participating in a sex trafficking ring is going to face a stiffer punishment than Prince Andrew did for participating in a sex trafficking ring. But that was just fine with the right wing British nationalist types. What was totally beyond the gammon pale was that Prince Harry and his mixed race wife had the gall to hold hands in the procession. They didn’t muster the same outrage at Princess Anne’s daughter or one of the daughters of Prince Andrew, who likewise held hands with their spouses.

By Wednesday, the cameras were showing us the queues of people in London waiting to view the coffin, the TV announcer said : “This is what we are going to be watching for 4 days.” You’d like to assume not literally, but by this point that’s exactly what the BBC means. The funeral is on Monday, for the intervening five days the BBC is giving us a live stream of the coffin, just in case, you assume, anything changes, interspersed with interviews with people standing in The Queue, which by now has acquired capital letters. Although they missed a trick by not calling it the Elizabeth line.  Some will be queuing for 12 hours or more, all in order to shuffle past a box bedecked in flags with a jewelled hat sitting on top. “I want to be a part of history,” those standing in line tell the telly presenters. You no longer get to be a part of history simply by living through a historic event. This is Brexit Britain, you have to queue for hours.

People complain about the disrespect of those of us who are not interested in this charade or who protest that Charles is NotMyKing. But you know what is really disrespectful? That’s Andrew and his brother using the death of their mother to launder his reputation.

Republicans do not propose arresting people for commemorating the late queen or celebrating the new King Charles Spaniel- sorry, I can’t help it – but that is exactly what is happening to those protesting against the new King. The so-called guardians of free speech, the anti-woke warriors fighting cancel culture are nodding in approval when people exercising their free speech are arrested for it. A man in London was arrested for carrying a blank placard with an intent to write Not My King on it. How we scoffed when that happened to anti-war protestors in Russia. Welcome to Truss and Charles’s Britain.

A monarchy that is threatened by some booing and a few pieces of cardboard is a pretty fragile thing. God, imagine protesting at a *proclamation*, the very thought. Please conduct your anti-monarchy protest at 3pm on a wet Tuesday afternoon in the car park of Coatbridge Asda rather than at the king’s proclamation in front of the world’s media. Thank you for protesting conveniently.

There is apparently no right to freedom of speech in the spaniel’s kingdom if you object to the monarchy and to this long and dragged out North Koreanesque charade. How very dare you not be grieving. They are not just policing our speech, they are policing our emotions too. This is a time of National MourningⒸ and you will mourn, or else. Don’t you dare enjoy yourself, pleb. Turn on the TV, wrap yourself in a British flag and weep like a loyal little subject.

I realise that not everyone in Scotland shares my antipathy to the institution of the monarchy, far more widespread, even in a Scotland which is easily the least royalist part of Britain, is a general lack of interest in the royal family, for many a grudging toleration. But I suspect that the mandatory, authoritarian force-feeding of nauseating royal sycophancy which has been forced upon us this past week is turning large numbers of people strongly against the institution. It was bad enough when Prince Philip died, and I knew that when his wife passed away we’d be in for what we experienced then but on steroids. However it has been far more shrill, intrusive, desperate, and frankly crazed, than my worst fears.

There is still over a week of this to go and they have already scraped through the bottom of the barrel. On Monday we were regaled with the hysterical, nauseating guff of Lulu on the BBC news giving us, in an accent wandering about more than a drug addled student with a rail pass, the final inane utterances of a doomed civilisation. This is despite the fact she told us that she, like just about everyone else, didn’t really know the queen and doesn’t have any stories about her. It makes anyone with functioning neurons remaining want to dook for chips. Up next on BBC News, the members of Steps tell us how Tears on the Dancefloor was really a touching tribute to the late queen, which they then perform with choreography by the Duke of Buccleuch.

This is surely due to deep seated British nationalist fear that the passing of the queen also represents the passing of the British state which she became the monarch of seventy years ago. When Elizabeth acceded to the throne, Britain still had an Empire, it was one of the leading and most influential members of the Allies which had won WW2, the UK still fancied itself as a global superpower. They are not just mourning the queen, they are mourning the Britain that the British establishment and above all the Conservatives, have destroyed.

Now Britain is in crisis, millions worry about keeping food on the table or keeping their homes warm, and thousands of businesses are facing collapse. The UK is isolated, out of Europe and facing an uncertain and diminished future. This island is swimming in a literal sea of sewage. We now have the most right wing Prime Minister in history, who is threatening a trade war with Europe and who is making us all pay in order to protect the profiteering of the energy companies. She was elected by a hundred thousand southern English reactionaries who fume about Europe and ‘the woke’.

We also have a new head of state whose judgement is highly questionable and who has a track record of immense entitlement even by the standards of his family. He’s only been king a couple of days but evidence of his short temper and tetchiness is already apparent. This is the king we are being exhorted to ‘love’. Yeah, I think I’ll pass. We live in a country suffering a Brexit it didn’t consent to, under a government and Prime Minister it didn’t vote for, under a monarchy it didn’t ask for, with a media that isn’t even pretending to represent the true breadth of public opinion, and we are not allowed to protest about it.

The UK itself is on its last legs as half of Scotland has its eye on the exit door, yet politics is paused while the establishment plays at dress up, with billion pound bejewelled hats, chocolate box soldiers, carriages and tail coats, and any protest is met with police action. It’s not a funeral anymore. This is a week-long celebration of the English class system.

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The charm of a breeze block

talent poolWhile Nicola Sturgeon demonstrated that the Scottish Government is doing is bit to help out struggling households in a cost of living crisis that is not the fault of Scotland, by introducing a rent freeze, a moratorium on evictions, and a rise in the Scottish Child Payment, the new Prime Minister, with all the charm of a breeze block, mouthed some vacuous platitudes outside Downing Street which left us none the wiser about the help her government was going to give and which utterly failed to acknowledge that much of the responsibility for the current crisis falls on Truss’s own party, which has been in power for over a decade. We wanted reassurance, we got the energy of an aunt giving a perfunctory speech at the wedding of a nephew that she can’t stand.

The BBC and Sky gave us live coverage of Truss’s plane landing at RAF Northolt in West London, then a live broadcast from a helicopter of her motorcade making its way through the London traffic until it reached Downing Street as though it was heralding the delivery of some momentous and game changing news, and not the few bland words of manager speak that we actually got. This is the unadulterated bollocks that we get from a British media which has ceased any attempt at holding power to account unless it’s a devolved power.

Shortly before the convoy arrived at Downing Street the skies opened in a torrential downpour and the Prime Ministerial podium was covered with a bin bag. Now there’s a metaphor for the state of British politics. Insert your own line about a nasty shower in Downing Street here. In the event the bin bag would probably have given a more interesting and informative speech. It certainly had more presence and charisma.

But back in Scotland there was real politics and not the performative charade that was taking place in London. Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, praised the Scottish Government for its rent freeze and moratorium on evictions, which will assure many thousands of families that even though there is a cost of living crisis and the threat of unaffordable rises in energy bills which the devolved Scottish Government lacks the powers to tackle, at least they will not have to worry about keeping a roof over their heads this winter and fret about homelessness as well as about freezing and starving.

Khan said: “This bold action from the Scottish Government will support thousands of households during this time of national crisis. I’ll continue to call on the UK Govt to grant me the power to freeze rents in our capital. Londoners are facing record rents at the worst possible time.”

Not everyone was happy about taking steps to protect thousands of families in Scotland from the threat of homelessness. Tom Gordon at the Herald still managed to frame it negatively with a report titled “Warning as Sturgeon confirms rent freeze to help with cost of living crisis.” And of course BBC Scotland gave us its usual ‘But critics say’ performance. Because the real issue here is the threat to the incomes of landlords. This, Scotland, is why we can’t have nice things. The screw the many what about the few theme was continued by the moon howling British nationalist frothers who infest the comments section of the Herald, some of whom are alarmingly extremist in their right wing views and who make that newspaper’s comments section, once entertaining and occasionally informative, completely unreadable.

One of the “don’t you dare call me a nationalist I’m British types” was sneeringly dismissive of the £5 rise in Scottish Child payment. These are the same people who howl in rage about the £20 million which the Scottish Government is spending on preparations for an independence referendum and demand that it be spent on reducing energy bills instead. There are 2.5 million households in Scotland. £20 million works out at £8 per household, which would not even touch the sides of the energy bill rises which are forecast.

With the Conservative leadership contest safely out of the way Douglas Ross has come out of the fridge he’s been hiding in and, surprise surprise is fully in support of Liz Truss. He’s the only man in politics who can execute a U-turn while coasting. He did however repeat his demand that the Scottish Government give up on bringing about the referendum which they were elected to deliver, insisting that the cost of living crisis “demands we put country over party, put politics to one side and make hard choices. Ross forgets, or more accurately hopes that the rest of us forget, that we have had nine weeks of a leadership contest during which the public panicked whilst Tory ministers ignored the looming catastrophe and Douglas Ross did his level best to stay as invisible as possible in case he was asked to make a choice between Truss or Sunak.

Ross must be relieved that it’s not up to Downing Street to pick the leader of the Scottish Tories otherwise he’d be going the same way as Rishi Sunak, Dominic Raab, Grant Shapps, and all the other Conservatives who had failed to show sufficient loyalty to Liz Truss. As it is all is not well in the ranks of the Scottish Tories with the resignation of Oliver Mundell from the front bench this week. Admittedly it won’t be much noticed as he’s as spineless and ineffectual as his dad. Had you even noticed that he was the Scottish Tory education spokesman? No, neither had I. The resignation comes a couple of days after the resignation of Dean Lockhart, who has left Holyrood and stood down as an MSP. As a list MSP he will be replaced by the next on the Conservative list and there will be no by-election, the usual procedure when a list MSP leaves Holyrood. Clearly there is much unhappiness amongst The Scottish Tories’ Holyrood contingent. It provides at least a tiny modicum of comfort that the Scottish Tories are as miserable as they are making the rest of us.

Ross will be worried that he will end the same way as his predecessor Jackson Carlaw, the victim of a putsch orchestrated by senior Tories.

Truss has started to announce her cabinet, drawing from the dregs of the tea mug used as an ashtray which is what passes for a talent pool amongst Westminster Tories.

As expected the new cabinet is composed of right wing ideologues with the backing of the ERG with little attempt to get other factions of the Conservatives on board. We have as expected Suella Braverman as Home Secretary – and you thought Priti Patel was terrifying – James Cleverly as Foreign Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng as Chancellor, the appointment of Kwarteng was praised in some quarters for bringing diversity to a cabinet which otherwise wouldn’t have had many old Etonians in senior roles.

Therese Coffey (dear god) is Health Minister and deputy PM, Coffey was criticised on social media for her looks, her weight, and the fact that she smokes. There is no need for that, her politics are perfectly hideous without giving her the chance to play the victim of sexism. As Secretary of state at the Department of Work and Pensions Coffey was responsible for the cruel and inhumane farce that is Personal Independence Payment for people with disabilities. Coffey covered up a report detailing the outcome of an internal review of investigation processes relating to the suicides of 69 benefit claimants. A high court judge has accused Coffey of “wholly unsatisfactory” behaviour and lacking respect for the mother of a benefit claimant whose death was linked to failures by her department. Coffey repeatedly refused to express sympathy for a tragic mother who was found dead next to her crying baby. Coffey was repeatedly given the chance to show some compassion for 34-year-old Mercy Baguma – a refugee mother who died next to her malnourished baby in Glasgow – but she would not.

Suella Braverman has already promised to take an even harder line on immigration – how exactly? By sending gunboats to sink the dinghies trying to cross the Channel? Jacob Rees-Mogg is has been given the Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy brief. He is responsible for getting us through the energy crisis and for all our employment rights and protections. He favours fracking over wind farms. The new lows keep coming thick and fast. And yet, it’s all downhill from here.

I am sorry but this bout of post-stroke fatigue is proving very difficult to shift. New blog posts may be rather intermittent this week and as of Thursday I will be taking a week off as my 60th birthday is coming up and we have visitors coming up from England.

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The shortest political honeymoon in history

MayflyTo absolutely no one’s surprise Liz Truss has been elected by the predominantly white, elderly, middle class and Southern English membership of the Conservative party, and on Tuesday she will travel to Balmoral to be appointed by the other Liz as the next Worst Prime Minister of the increasingly Disunited Kingdom. Truss won by a far narrower margin than had been forecast, because it seems that even Conservative party members took a dislike to her the more that they saw of her, a pattern which will assuredly be repeated across the entire population.

Truss managed to win just 57% of votes cast on a turnout of 83%, a lower percentage than any Conservative leader who was elected by a ballot of party members, even the terminally dismal Iain Duncan Smith did better. Truss obtained the backing of just 47% of Conservative party members meaning that she herself falls well short of the standards of at least 50% of the entire electorate that Truss reportedly plans to demand of voters in Scotland in a second independence referendum.

Truss inherits a bitterly divided Conservative party where a majority of her back benchers preferred her rival Sunak. She also has a former Prime Minister who is returning to the back benches and who has made no secret of the fact that he wants his old job back. Yet Truss shows little sign of being interested in bridging the divisions within her own party, never mind reaching out to those who don’t support the Conservatives and have never been reconciled to Brexit. As soon as the result was announced she shot to the stage without so much as glancing at her defeated rival never mind having the good grace to shake his hand.

She began what we are supposed to call a speech, with her strange monotone robotic delivery by noting that during the leadership contest, “We have shown the depth and breadth of talent in the Conservative party.” It was a rare moment of candour and insight. The Conservatives had shown that they have no depth and are bereft of talent. In a vacuous collection of content free slogans she went on to promise her government would deliver, deliver, deliver. They’ve certainly succeeded at delivering raw sewage into rivers and onto beaches. She has known for two months that she was going to win. Two months in which to prepare for a five minute speech which would set the stage for her leadership. She couldn’t even manage that.

Over the next couple of days we will see the revealing of the horror show that will be Truss’s cabinet. Shortly after Truss’s victory was announced Home Secretary Priti Patel submitted a letter of resignation and said that she intended to return to the back benches. The move came after a number of briefings by the Truss campaign which strongly suggested that Patel would lose her job in Truss’s new cabinet. Patel was an unspeakably cruel Home Secretary and won’t be missed by anyone with a shred of decency. The news caused widespread rejoicing, right up until the realisation sank in that the new Home Secretary is likely to be Suella Braverman. Just when you think that the Hellmouth has closed it opens up again and an even worse demon comes crawling out. The next Worst British Prime Minister in modern times is set to appoint the next Worst Home Secretary in modern times. Remember when we were all horrified about how nasty Jack Straw and Theresa May were? How naive we were.

That’s where British politics is now, Priti Patel resigned because if she hadn’t she’d have been sacked for not being right wing enough. Everyone thought that there could never be a worse Home Secretary than Priti Patel, architect of the despicable Rwanda policy, but along comes Suella Braverman saying, “Hold my eh, whatever this is… I think it might be some sort of law book, but I’ve only ever used it to prop up a wonky kitchen table.”

Braverman is the Attorney General whose big idea for dealing with government policies which are found to be unlawful is to prohibit government lawyers from telling ministers that their policies are unlawful. You don’t have to be a lawyer to know that ignorance of the law is no defence, but ignorance of the law is Suella Braverman’s operating principle. Braverman has consistently voted against laws to promote equality and human rights, voted against equal marriage for same sex couples, and wants to take the UK out of the European Convention on Human Rights. Before she was eliminated as a candidate in the Conservative leadership contest, Braverman said that article 3 of the ECHR was ‘tying the government’s hands’. Article 3 stipulates: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”

If you feel that your government is being prevented from implementing its policies because of an international treaty prohibition on torture or inhuman and degrading treatment, it might just be your government’s policies which are the problem, not the human rights legislation that makes the policies unlawful.

To have Suella Braverman holding one of the great offices of state is possibly the grimmest indictment imaginable of contemporary British politics. God help us all. The only way it could get any worse would be to have Jacob Rees-Mogg as the business secretary and put in charge of employment rights and environmental protections. Oh, wait.

The right wing British nationalist extremists of the European Research Group are now in charge of the UK. The Tories have completed their transformation into Ukip. We got into this position thanks to a combination of a sclerotic British constitution which is utterly incapable of holding power to account or putting limits on the power of the occupant of Downing Street, a system operating on privilege and patronage which perpetuates inequality and rewards greed. These shortcomings have been magnified and exacerbated by a media which sees its primary job as defending the status quo. If the BBC was actually doing the job we expect of it – to hold power to account, it shouldn’t be necessary for Led by Donkeys to spell out the realities of Johnson’s legacy. But the BBC thinks that the only power which needs to be held to account is the power held by the Scottish Government.

There are reports that Truss will be making a big announcement within the first few days of her leadership about the steps her government will be taking to tackle the frightening rise in energy bills. There are rumours of a price cap, which will be the very least that is required, although as always with the Tories the devil is in the small print. Nevertheless it may win Truss some short term plaudits, especially with the right wing press, but it won’t last, no amount of gilding on this turd of a government can disguise its repellent nature. Truss and her ERG allies will soon be picking fights with Brussels, they will be coming for your employment rights and for environmental protections, and they will be attacking democracy itself in Scotland and undermining the devolution settlement. Truss’s political honeymoon will be as short lived as the relief of everyone with a sense of decency and humanity when they heard that Priti Patel had resigned as Home Secretary.

Truss has won this election, and everyone else has lost. The Conservatives excel at mediocrity. Please make it stop.

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The devastation of the Trussteroid strike

asteroidBarring some unforeseen event like an asteroid striking the earth, Liz Truss will be chosen as leader of the Conservative party tomorrow and will then travel to Balmoral to be appointed as the next worst Prime Minister in modern times. It’s fair to say that the asteroid strike would probably do less damage. You have to add the qualification ‘in modern times’ when you say that Truss is going to be the next worst British Prime Minister because if you don’t then some tiresome pedant will pop up on Twitter to say ‘gotcha’ in order to point out that Lord North was worse when he was Prime Minister between 1770 and 1782 as though anyone other than Jacob Rees-Mogg really thinks that it’s valid to look to the politicians of the 18th century for relevant comparisons to British politics 250 years later, although the fact that you have to look back 250 years and the era of buying votes and public office in order to find someone who is arguably worse than the current lot tells you all you need to know about the current dire state of British politics.

Truss is, thankfully, not yet in office, but the likely horrors of her administration are already hoving into view, like the iceberg that sank the Titanic, which would be more powerful of a warning were it not for the fact that the British ship of state was holed below the waterline quite some time ago, and the third class passengers in steerage have already started to drown.

Truss has hinted that as Prime Minister she will restructure employment laws, the Times has reported that she plans a review of protections and rights for workers, which could lead to the abolition of the 48 hour limit on the working week in order to make the UK ‘more competitive.’ Holiday pay, equal pay for women and men, safe limits on working hours and parental leave are just a few of the rights underpinned by retained EU law, which Truss wants to review.

In an audio recording leaked during the Conservative leadership contest, Truss was heard to tell an audience of Tories that British workers needed to ‘graft’ more, as though the problems in the UK economy are not created by a combination of low pay, corporate profiteering and systemic under investment in favour of short term profit taking and bloated senior management pay, but because shop floor workers on the minimum wage can’t be forced to work 60 hours a week without toilet breaks or paid holidays. Truss’s comments were defended by her prominent supporter and likely new minister for poor houses and sending children up chimneys Jacob Rees-Mogg as ‘sensible.

In her last interview before the result of the leadership contest is announced, Truss told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that it was ‘fair’ that her proposed tax cuts will benefit high earners more. As usual with the Conservatives, poor people need to be incentivised by punishing them, but rich people must be incentivised by giving them even more money. In the same interview Truss refused to set out what she intends to do to help households facing unsustainable energy bills, but in an article published overnight in the Telegraph Truss was mostly concerned with her plans to lower taxes and ‘deregulate’ the economy, Conservative code for axing employment, consumer and environmental protections.

Meanwhile, for those of us in Scotland, the play-doh Thatcher promises a very special kick in the Nadines. There are reports that Truss intends to change the law so that in any future Scottish independence referendum, Yes will only be deemed to have won if it succeeds in gaining the support not just of a majority of those who vote, but of those who are registered to vote. This is the same anti-democratic gerrymandering trick pulled by Westminster on the people of Scotland by Westminster in the 1979 devolution referendum. Labour MPs opposed to Scottish devolution imposed a 40% rule specifying that the proposal need not only win the support of the majority who voted, but must also be supported by more than 40% of all those registered to vote, a measure which was widely condemned at the time as meaning that the dead would count as No voters. In the event the proposal for a Scottish Assembly with less power than the current Scottish Parliament won a narrow majority but failed to overcome the gerrymandering 40% hurdle. This created anger and bitterness in Scotland which lasted for the next decade.

Now it seems that the Conservatives are considering repeating the same undemocratic trick, only this time with an even higher bar. Had this measure been in force during the 2014 referendum with its record voter turnout of 85%, the Yes campaign would have had to have won 60% of votes cast in order to have been victorious so No would still have won even if 59% of votes cast were in favour of independence.

Opponents of Scottish independence point to the independence referendums in the Baltic states in the early 1990s, where support for independence surpassed 90% as evidence that it is ‘reasonable’ of them to demand similar levels of support in Scotland before they concede the legitimacy of Scottish independence. It speaks volumes about British nationalist desperation that they think it is a valid standard of comparison to equate the Conservatives in Westminster with a totalitarian regime which had committed numerous crimes against humanity in its efforts to suppress the Baltic nations and incorporate them forcibly into the USSR.

Not that we really know what the implications for Scotland are with the new Prime Minister because BBC Scotland has failed to interview either Douglas Ross or Alister Jack about it, its coverage being confined to James Cooke sticking his mobile phone camera into the faces of demonstrators at the Perth hustings in a successful attempt to goad them into providing him with some self-aggrandising headlines.

Should the Conservatives impose this measure it would set an impossibly high barrier for supporters of independence to overcome, that is of course precisely the idea. You can also be certain that if it looked as though the independence campaign was likely to overcome this artificially high bar, the Conservatives would raise it even higher.

This measure would not merely be profoundly undemocratic because it could see the campaign which won the most votes losing. It’s also undemocratic because the high barrier would only be imposed on one side, giving the No campaign an in-built advantage. The Tories’ hypocrisy is laid bare because they had no such qualms about the narrow Brexit vote, which apparently represents the ‘settled will of the British people’. The sole reason, the one and only reason, that the possibility of this gerrymandering measure is being raised now is because the Conservatives fear that they would lose a free and fair independence referendum. Those who are confident in the strength of their arguments do not propose changing the rules to handicap their opponents.

However additionally this measure gives the anti-independence parties an extremely strong incentive to boycott a referendum. If they were able to reduce turn out to 60%, which is still more than the turn out in some recent UK General Elections, in a boycott campaign which would doubtless be widely aided by the BBC and the anti-independence media, Yes would still fail even if it succeeded in winning 80% of votes cast.

This is an obvious travesty of democracy and it would deprive the people of Scotland of the opportunity to hear both sides of the argument. It would not, despite the Conservative hand wringing about the ‘divisiveness’ of the independence issue do anything to bring about reconciliation. It would only make things far far worse. But Truss and the Conservatives don’t care about that. They don’t care about democracy, they don’t care about the rights of workers. They care only about their own power.

I am sorry but this bout of post-stroke fatigue is proving very difficult to shift. New blog posts may be rather intermittent this week and as of Thursday I will be taking a week off as my 60th birthday is coming up and we have visitors coming up from England.

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Hacked off by Tory Life hacks

Boris Johnson, who is still the Prime Minister of the UK until he is replaced in a couple of days time by someone even worse has taken time out of his busy schedule of going on holiday to reassure the millions of citizens who are terrified about soaring energy bills. Don’t worry, poor people, the abandoned mattress of politics is here to share a few simple tricks and trips which can take the sting out of the crisis. Worried about your energy bills rising to an unaffordable £7500 a year? Why, all you need to do is buy yourself a brand new energy efficient kettle which could potentially save you a tenner a year, and at a stroke you could reduce your energy bill to a far more affordable £7490! Problem solved! Thanks, Tory Life hacks.

Johnson is reportedly planning a farewell tour to remind the public of his greatest achievements while he waits for Liz Truss’s government to implode in office and a desperate Conservative party come crawling back to beg him to return to Number 10. So he’ll be visiting a lot of graveyards full of victims of covid who died while he partied, sewage outfall pipes pumping raw excrement into the sea, queues of traffic at Dover, planting a Union flag on the summit of a mountain of luggage at a major airport because the baggage handlers have returned to the EU, and trying but failing to catch a train.

Apparently, according to Johnson, the blame for the current energy crisis lies with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, leaders of a party which has not been in power for twelve years. But if what Labour did all those years ago was indeed so terrible and left the UK’s energy supply so vulnerable, the Tories did bugger all about it at any point in the past twelve years, which merely demonstrates that Johnson and his cronies are unfit for office. And after all, the great sin of the Labour governments of Blair and Brown was that they did not undo the ideologically driven privatisations that the Conservatives had introduced, that does not absolve Boris Johnson and his party. Johnson blaming Brown and Blair is very much on brand, just one more fart blast of lies to issue from the Hell Mouth of the Conservative party. It will not be the last, we can expect more of the same from Liz Truss when she tells us that cutting taxes is the best way to deal with the energy crisis, because according to the warped logic of the Tories, putting more money in the pockets of those who are already comfortably off really is going to help families who don’t earn enough to pay tax find the money to keep the heating on. The Conservatism is not so much a political philosophy as it is a means of ensuring that the poor fund the lifestyles of the rich. Truss has refused to introduce a windfall tax on the bloated profits of the energy companies and refuses to discuss a freeze on energy bills.

Lying and dodging responsibility is what Johnson and his party do best, it’s just a pity that their gaslighting can’t be harnessed to provide heat and light for all the households who won’t be saved from freezing thanks to his tip about buying a new kettle.

The tedium-fest of the Conservative leadership contest might be drawing to a close, but the nightmare of this Conservative government is very far from over. His likely successor Truss has all the same political faults as Johnson, a refusal to accept responsibility, a complete lack of principles, and a burning personal ambition combined with a lack of talent, but she also has a stiff and robotic demeanour befitting the empathy free zone of her personality and an inability to see how she is perceived by others. All she cares about is advancing her ambition. She is a Conservative gaffmatic who will lurch from one embarrassing episode of foot in mouth disease to another. She has displayed no appreciable skill or ability in any of the posts she has held and will fail dismally to rise to the immense challenges which will land on her desk when she takes office. Any honeymoon period she might enjoy as a new Prime Minister will be brief and short lived despite the best efforts of the right wing press.

In order to distract from her manifest shortcomings, and to curry favour with her right wing base, Truss will pick fights with the European Union, the devolved governments, the trade unions and will enthusiastically stoke up the culture wars. Johnson was bad, partly because he didn’t really care to do his job, Truss will bring a demented enthusiasm and energy to the Conservative destruction of public services, democratic safeguards and the few remaining means left of holding the government to account.

A flavour of what we are in for came in the form of a question from a party member at the last leadership contest hustings this week. To applause from the audience the questioner wanted to know what the candidates would do to “suppress” Nicola Sturgeon. Irrespective of what you think about Nicola Sturgeon, she is the First Minister of Scotland, a position that she only holds because the people of Scotland saw fit to vote for her and her party and make them the largest party by far at Holyrood. The party of Liz Truss has not won an election in Scotland for almost seventy years, but the Conservatives still think that they have the right to impose their policies on Scotland anyway. Truss doubled down on her characterisation of the First Minister as an “attention seeker” to be ignored.

Truss will also double down on the erosion of the devolution settlement with the aim of rendering Holyrood toothless and turning it into a useless talking shop which is unable to ameliorate the ill effects of Conservative party policies that Scotland has consistently rejected at the polls. We are in for a cold hard winter in more ways than one.

I am sorry but this bout of post-stroke fatigue is proving very difficult to shift. New blog posts may be rather intermittent this week.

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The moral and political failure of the Tories and the British state

nuclear option

On Friday, the energy price cap rose by 80%, threatening unprecedented fuel poverty for millions of households, and destitution for hundreds of thousands of the poorest households who are already struggling with impossible choices between having heat and hot water in their homes or putting food on the table. Yet Friday’s devastating news was by no means the worst of it, the energy price cap is predicted to soar by similar amounts in January and again in April, when it is forecast that the average household could be looking at bills of £7000 a year. We are now reaching the point where for many people, it will no longer be a question of struggling to pay their energy bills, it will simply be impossible for them to pay. If you take home the average UK annual salary of £31700, you are going to have to juggle soaring energy bills with rising costs of food and other essentials, increasing housing costs as interest rates go up, affecting mortgages, or rising rent bills. However if you are on a minimum wage or dependent on benefits, the increase in energy bills means that you will just not have the money to pay, no matter how you budget.

This is a truly terrifying development for millions of people, yet the so-called ‘leaders’ of the British Government were nowhere to be seen. No British Government minister was roused from his or her slumber to make the rounds of the TV studios and provide even a modicum of reassurance to worried and frightened people left to deal with the consequences of the meltdown of an energy policy which is reserved in its entirety to that government whose leaders were last seen sunning themselves on a Greek beach.

We did however get a statement from the acting, or rather play-acting, Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi saying that people needed to look at reducing their energy consumption. Glossing over the fact that this is pretty rich coming from a man who attempted to claim the heating costs for his stables on his parliamentary expenses, Zahawi’s horses will be warmer this winter than millions of families, it was a gob-smackingly arrogant statement which effectively tried to shift the responsibility for the catastrophic failure of the Conservatives’ energy policy on to those who are suffering because of Tory mismanagement.

According to Dr Sean Field, research fellow at the Centre for Energy Ethics at the University of St Andrews, told the Sunday National: “To put it bluntly – there is corporate responsibility in this, but this has been a catastrophic failure of political policy in the UK for the last 15 years.”

What all the various crises besetting the British state have in common is that they are the result of decades of British governments prioritising short term private profit over the longer term public good. The crisis in England’s water supply is due in part to private companies which preferred to cream off profits rather than invest in fixing leaks and building reservoirs to store the winter rains. Problems have been ignored for decades. Even now the Conservatives prefer to pander to the fossil fuel companies rather than fund the transition to renewable energy and funding the insulation of the housing stock that are the only long term solutions to the energy crisis. Liz Truss talks about abolishing the green levy on fuel bills and her party wants to prohibit on-shore wind farms, because apparently those are the problem, not the profiteering of the oil and gas giants.

The Conservatives permitted the energy companies to give up on gas storage facilities, meaning that the UK is hugely dependent on ‘just-in-time’ gas supplies from Europe to meet domestic needs. This deprived the UK of the ability to store large quantities of gas when the international market price was low and leaves the UK more vulnerable to large rises in prices on the international markets. We got into this position due to a combination of corporate greed and UK government failure. While the international wholesale price of gas was low it was more profitable for the energy companies to buy on the international markets than to invest in maintaining and repairing the storage facilities which existed at the time and the Conservative Government refused to grant a subsidy to help with the maintenance and repair costs of the existing gas storage facilities. The companies then announced that it was not cost effective to keep the storage facilities open and decided to close them down. The Conservative government compounded its sins by allowing them to do so.

We are now seeing those same companies reporting record profits while the Conservative wring their hands and bleat that “there’s a war on” even as they refuse to impose a windfall tax on the energy companies that could go a long way towards funding a freezing of the energy price cap. In this crisis, as always, the priority of the Conservatives is to protect the profiteering of the wealthy while ordinary people are forced to choose between freezing or starving. This is a catastrophic political and moral failure the blame for which lies squarely at the door of the Conservative party.

Even now, the Conservatives remain missing in action, more concerned about their internal party politics than the disaster facing millions. Neither of the two leadership contenders have said what they intend to do to deal with a crisis of their own party’s making. Truss’s camp has hinted that if she becomes Prime Minister she is considering cutting VAT by 5% across the board. However VAT accounts for less than 5% of the typical energy bill so a VAT cut would do little to reduce energy bills to an affordable level.

A reduction in VAT is effectively a tax cut for the better off. If you wanted to put more money into the hands of the sort of people who have high levels of discretionary spending, and the higher the discretionary spending the more money they’d get, then cutting VAT by 5% is what you’d do. It will do almost nothing to help make energy more affordable. To save £1,300 from a 5% cut in VAT, you’d have spend £31,200 a year on stuff that incurs VAT at 20%. There is no VAT on food or children’s clothing. VAT is not normally charged on rent or mortgage payments. A cut in VAT does nothing to help those who can only afford the essentials, yet this is her big idea, her ‘nuclear option’. It’s only nuclear in the sense that it will not solve the problem and will leave devastation in its wake. Truss’s resistance to offering targeted support for vulnerable groups is terrifying and unforgivable. Public anxiety is now raw, the fear is naked.

Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, a campaign group, told the financial news site Money Week that cutting VAT will do little to give consumers respite from soaring energy bills because VAT accounts for only a minor proportion of the overall bill. The only realistic solution, in order to prevent millions from being unable to heat their homes is a freeze on the energy price cap ,funded by taxes on the energy companies, as called for by the Scottish First Minister and Keir Starmer of the Labour party. Ideally the energy companies should be nationalised But only the British Government has the legal power and the financial authority to do so and the Conservatives won’t go there. They will protect their corporate donors no matter how many elderly or disabled people die of hypothermia this winter.

Thanks to the British Government, energy rich Scotland, which has an abundance of energy resources both fossil and renewable, is unable to ensure that it can heat its citizen’s homes. That, Liz Truss, is far more of a disgrace than the fact that the UK imports most of its cheese. But Truss won’t let humanity get between her and a burning ambition that makes her pander to the worst right wing excesses of the Conservative party. She is going to be a far worse Prime Minister than even Boris Johnson. The only question is how much damage she will do before she in her turn is finally forced from office.

I am sorry but this bout of post-stroke fatigue is proving very difficult to shift. New blog posts may be rather intermittent this week.

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

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

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

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The Tories can’t save a Union they want to abolish


north britainRuth Davidson, the erstwhile Saviour of the Union according to the British media, at least before she realised that her cosmetic exercise in putting some modern and tolerant drag on the reactionary and rotting body of the Scottish Tories had failed and she buggered off to the House of Lords before facing inevitable humiliation at the hands of the voters, has denied reports that she and her fellow failed politician the unreconstructed reactionary Arlene Foster of the DUP who like Ruth left politics to go and join the circus, in her case the right wing clowns of GBeebies News, are to join up and embark on a Save the Union tour.

It would have been the worst comeback since Sex in the City, more like Brass necks with no Pity. I wonder what it was about associating the cause of the Union with a dyed in the wool reactionary who is opposed to gay marriage and abortion rights and who is the darling of the Orange Order that made Ruth think that it was a bad idea? After all, this so called Union already a recipe for giving us the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson, who barring an unforeseen upset is about to be replaced by Liz Truss, a woman for whom there is as much chance of winning an election in Scotland as there is of Arlene Foster’s voter base kneeling before a statue of the Virgin Mary and praying for the well being of the Pope and a united Ireland. For the lesbian Ruth to go on tour with the gay marriage hating Arlene would not only be as implausible a double act as Cliff Richard and Slipknot, it would also serve as a reminder of how limited democracy really is under the Westminster system.

Davidson’s denial came after it was reported that Arlene Foster, who has recently launched a new “non party political Foundation” called the ‘Together UK Foundation’ which Foster claimed would “bring mainstream pro-Union voices from across the entire country to highlight the benefits that the Union brings to us all – mostly without us realising it.” The report also announced that Foster would “hit the road with the likes of Ruth and show people what the Union means.” In the case of Foster’s supporters it means bonfires, big drums, and sectarian songs about being up to your knees in Fenian blood. This would appear to be yet another of those well funded anti-independence initiatives which enjoy a suspiciously high profile in the media.

Being lectured on the benefits of the Union by Arlene Foster is like listening to Harold Shipman explain why there is no need to supervise GPs whose vulnerable and elderly patients change their wills in their doctor’s favour.

Ruth Davidson is scarcely in any position to lecture Scotland on the benefits of this supposed Union, a Union which her fellow unelected Conservative politician Lord Frost has determined doesn’t really exist. The demand for independence is above all driven by a desire for proper democracy in Scotland and governments which are elected by and accountable to the people of Scotland. As a member of the unelected House of Lords, Ruth Davidson epitomises the democratic deficit that Scotland faces as a part of the UK.

The other difficulty that Ruth and Arlene are going to have in “selling the union” is that some of their Brextremist Conservative colleagues, like Frost, want to abolish it and replace it with a unitary “single country” of which Scotland would be nothing more than a ‘region’ with no more modern political import than Mercia or Wessex. Frost, who is a prominent supporter of the Conservative front runner Liz Truss, has urged Truss to ban her ministers from referring to the UK as a union of four nations but rather to stress that the UK is a ‘single great country.’  Truss has herself denied that the UK is a voluntary union of nations but has likewise insisted that it is a ‘single great country’.

Naturally there has and will be zero consultation with the people of Scotland about this radical change in the conception of the nature of the UK. The decision that the UK is not in fact a partnership of four nations but instead a “single great country” is one which the Conservatives are making unilaterally and imposing on everyone else. The reason that they are doing so is because it allows the Tories to justify to themselves their wish to ignore the democratic choices of the people of Scotland because the people of Scotland persistently reject the Conservatives at the ballot box. It is beyond hypocrisy that the Conservatives constantly harp on about how the SNP must respect the result of the 2014 independence referendum but they have repeatedly shown that they have nothing but contempt for the result of every single election in Scotland since 2014.

However if Scotland is merely a region of a “single great country” then it doesn’t matter how Scotland votes any more than it matters how an English county or city votes. All that matters is that the Conservatives secure a majority in the House of Commons to allow them to impose their will across the entire UK. Liz Truss has already said that she will expect her policies to apply across ‘the entire country’. Truss is not going to let a little thing like the devolution settlement stand in her way. Nicola Sturgeon recently remarked that the Conservatives are coming for the devolution settlement, but it is far far worse than that. What the Tories want is for Scotland to be abolished as a meaningful political entity for the electoral and party political advantage of the Conservative party.

The Conservative antipathy to devolution is well known, because they mistakenly blame devolution for creating the desire for Scottish independence. In fact devolution was created in an attempt to contain the desire for Scottish independence by giving Scotland some means to protect itself from the excesses of a Conservative party that Scotland did not vote for. However devolution has failed because devolution has been unable to withstand a Conservative party which is determined to ignore the democratic choices of the people of Scotland and which refuses to accept that the referendum result of 2014 was conditional on the Better Together parties coming good on the promises that they made in order to win that No result which they so badly craved.

The Tories have decided that the 2014 result meant that Scotland surrendered for all eternity to whatever the majority party at Westminster decided to impose on it, up to and including the unilateral abolition of the conceptualisation of the United Kingdom as a voluntary partnership of nations. That is the road down which this Conservative party is taking us. It’s a road to the destruction of Scotland as a meaningful political entity and leaving Scotland as nothing more than a historic region of a “single country” with no more modern political relevance than Wessex or Mercia.

 

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

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

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

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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