Reasons to be cheerful, part four

govid19
There’s certainly an enormous amount to be gloomy about at the moment. Remember when a sneeze used to be just a sneeze and you’d put it down to hayfever. Now it’s a worry that you might have ‘it’. There’s death, job losses, and economic misery hovering over all of us. And it’s topped off with the cherry of an unresolved civil war at the very top of the SNP, like a massive plook that needs to be squeezed but has to be left alone because you’re not supposed to touch your face just now. All this comes just as we had made a significant breakthrough in seeing the cause of independence enjoy majority support. It’s the Argentine World Cup campaign of 1978 all over again, only with actual deaths as opposed to the death of reputations. This is what happens when you get your hopes up, Scottish people.

All over Scotland, keyboards are busy with the clacking of triumphant woebags exhulting in how right they were to tell everyone that everything’s shite. There’s nothing a miserable bastert loves more than saying, “Did ah no tell yese so.” If we were able to bottle self-righteousness and use it as a fuel, Scotland would be able to solve the problem of global warming overnight. But even then Scotland’s keyboard warriors would only complain that it was all a plot to destroy Scottish Twitter.

Pessimism speaks to something deep within the Scottish psyche. Maybe it’s because we inherit the ability to dream and imagine from our Celtic ancestors, and combine it with a heavy dose of Scandinavian angst from our Norse heritage. This gives us the unique ability as a nation to look at any situation and see the many many ways in which it could all go horribly, terribly, wrong. As a nation, we could gaze upon a vista of beautiful wild flowers set in the spectacular setting of a mountain meadow and only complain about how much rain falls on it and how much shit was required to fertilise it. If there was a world cup for woebaggery, Scotland would win it every time. But we’d only obsess over how much of a burden it was having to polish all that silverware. America has a can do spirit, Scotland has a gaunnie no dae that spirit.

Nevertheless, there are a few glimmers of good news amongst the gloom. There are encouraging signs that the death rate from the virus may – just may – be lower in Scotland because social isolation measures were introduced here at an earlier phase of the outbreak than elsewhere in the UK. The lockdown was introduced here before a significant hotspot of locally transmitted infection was able to become established. Sadly the death toll will continue to rise sharply, as it will take a couple of weeks before we see the effect of the lockdown in slowing down the spread of the virus, however the death rate in Scotland does appear to be lower than it is elsewhere.

We have the Scottish government to thank for that, as it was pushing the British government for stricter lock down measures from the very beginning – much to the anger and resentment of Boris Johnson. There is a lesson to learn here, which is that freed from the constraints of the egos of the British cabinet, and the imposed need not to break the “four nation” strategy of the British state, the Scottish government could have acted even more decisively even earlier and saved even more lives. But that, like the plook on the face of Scottish constitutional politics, is something to be squeezed at a later date.

There is the good news that the Scottish government has dropped its plan to conduct criminal trials without a jury. While it’s reasonable to seek to protect people during this epidemic. It’s hard to reconcile social distancing with the need to stick 15 jurors in a room in order to consider a verdict, but the jury system is the very heart of the Scottish criminal justice system. Suspending it is the start of a slippery slope to a police state. It’s a really bad look for the Scottish government to consider the suspension of jury trials the week after the Scottish government has been left deeply embarrassed and placed in a politically difficult situation because of a jury trial. It’s a good thing that common sense has prevailed.

There’s the good news that British nationalists on social media have been left exposed as shallow and trivial idiots. Some of them – we’re looking at you Ian Smart – have been complaining that the Scottish volunteering scheme launched by the Scottish government has the word Scottish in it, and that public information about the virus published by NHS Scotland has the word Scotland in it. How sad do you have to be to make an issue out of the fact that a Scottish health campaign and health information from an organisation whose name is NHS Scotland has the words Scotland and Scottish in it? The cringe is a disease that’s stalked Scotland long before the arrival of the coronavirus. It’s taken a real disease to show up just how stupid and self-defeating the metaphorical disease of the cringe really is.

There is the good news that the politics of populist liars has been exposed for the sham that it always was. Michael We Don’t Need Experts Gove’s casual lies are now caught out and no amount of oily politeness can cover his mendacity. Yesterday he made the outrageous claim that the reason that there were fewer tests for the virus carried out in the UK was because of a lack of the reactive agents necessary to make the tests. This claim was utterly unfounded, and was soon exposed by those journalists in the traditional media who have previously been content to report the words and views of the British government without criticism. The populist plague of the Govid-19 virus is an infection in the body politic that Scotland has a ready cure for. We can self-isolate from Westminster Conservative governmments forever.

There’s the good news that while this crisis has exposed the selfishness of the rich, the callowness of the British state, and the stupidity of the increasingly desperate opponents of independence, it’s also shown us that there’s an enormous reservoir of goodwill, of care, of consideration, of the sacrifice and dedication of the NHS, of the thousands of ordinary people who are volunteering, of the children’s rainbows appearing in thousands of windows. It’s shown us that there is a determination not to allow the sacrifices we’re all making during this crisis to be for nothing. There’s a better country waiting for us beyond the gloom.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Getting a grip

There’s always a lot of talk online amongst independence supporters about the nefarious activities of the British state and the intelligence services. For the most part, these stories are nothing more than the speculations of those who know that just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you. The aim of the intelligence services is to counter threats to the state, the Scottish independence movement is not a terrorist organisation, it’s not illegal or law breaking, but it certainly represents one of the biggest threats to the interests of the British establishment. In terms of risk assessment to British interests, there are few greater than the Scottish independence movement. Ours is a movement which spells the end of British rule over 32% of the land mass of the UK, taking with it the great majority of the UK’s natural resources. And despite a constant barrage of SNPbaddery in the British press, support for independence is not going away.

I have no information at all about whether the British state is involved in concerted attempts to derail the independence movement, but what I do know is that if the intelligence services and the British state that they serve were not infiltrating the independence movement with the aim of causing divisions and upsets, they’d not be doing their job. Personally I don’t find it useful or helpful to speculate about this, that way madness and tinfoil hats lie. However what we can most certainly be assured of is that whether or not there is any intelligence service involvement in the current divisions within the independence movement, the British intelligence services will most certainly be looking on with great satisfaction as independence supporters devote their time and energies to tearing lumps out of one another. Job done.

Just look at us. Here we are in the middle of an epidemic which appears set to go on for weeks if not months. Thousands of people may die. Hundreds of thousands of jobs may be lost. It is simply not realistic for there to be a referendum, indeed even any sort of ballot, when the population is stuck at home in a lockdown designed to prevent our already over stretched NHS from being overwhelmed by the sick and the dying. And here we are, independence supporters spending most of their time and energy attacking other independence supporters for a supposed lack of ideological purity. Get a fucking grip. And that comment is directed at both sides in this debate. It’s directed both to those who continue to make insinuations about Alex Salmond and to those who attack everyone who in their eyes hasn’t sufficiently defended him.

Who benefits when a significant part of the independence movement attacks Alex Salmond and his supporters? British nationalism. Who benefits when a significant part of the independence movement devotes itself to attacking Nicola Sturgeon and her supporters? British nationalism. The factionalism and infighting within the independence movement and the SNP needs to stop, and it needs to stop now. That applies to Nicola Sturgeon’s inner circle, to Alex Salmond’s defenders, to pro-independence bloggers who spend all their time attacking the current First Minister, to the legions of online independence supporters who now spend their time sniping at one another instead of promoting a positive vision of independence and undermining the arguments of apologists for the British state. It applies to all of us.

We all need to take a step back and realise that in our eagerness to promote our own particular interests within the movement we are damaging the movement as a whole. The movement belongs to all of us, to all of Scotland, or it belongs to no one. In any a mass movement there are going to be opinions and voices that you disagree with. It wouldn’t be a mass movement otherwise. If we can’t learn tolerance and acceptance for one another within this movement, it is a poor reflection on the kind of Scotland we are able to offer those people who hold the real key to independence, those soft no voters and undecideds that we seek to persuade. That means that all of us have to be willing to offer the olive branch, to refrain from pointing to the faults and sins of those we disagree with, and instead reflect upon ourselves and our own actions.

The Achilles heel of socialist organisations has always been that they’ve been prone to internal divisions. One group would fall out with another group because of a perceived lack of ideological purity, because of a disgreement over a minor point of doctrine. And before you know it you’ve got a myriad of tiny little left wing groups each of which has zero influence, and the rapacious capitalists who were the original target of socialists are laughing all the way to the bank. That’s exactly what we are in danger of right now in the Scottish independence movement. Our divisions are just so many deposits in the bank of British nationalism.

We have made real breakthroughs as a movement. Independence is no longer a marginal cause. It’s a real prospect. We have managed to convince half the population of this country that independence is needed now, and have convinced far more than half that independence is going to happen at some point in the future. What we are currently witnessing within the movement are the strains that result as Scottish independence moves out of the margins and into the mainstream. It means that the main party of independence is now an attractive home for careerists. It means that those who have been in this for the long haul resent the arrivistes. It means that we start to fall out with one another about our visions for that long anticipated independent Scotland now that it hovers on the horizon.

The SNP has always been prone to factionalism and infighting, while it was a party on the margins no one really much cared. Even when it transformed into a party of Scottish government the factionalism could be contained and managed. However as we stand on the edge of a transformative change in Scotland that takes us into majority support for independence, that factionalism, infighting, and division becomes a serious problem. It infects the entire independence movement. So when I say get a fucking grip, above all it’s the top echelons of the SNP that need to get a grip of themselves. If their egos, ambitions, and careers are allowed to come before achieving independence, the movement will not forgive the party.

There is absolutely nothing that any of the rest of us can do about the divisions between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, that is a dispute which will resolve itself in the fullness of time. But what we can do is to ensure that we keep our eyes on the main prize and refuse to allow those divisions to infect the rest of this movement that we’ve all put so much into. Scotland deserves better than an independence movement that does the job of the British state by devoting itself to nuturing internal divisions and resentments.

We all want the same thing. We all want independence for Scotland. We are all united by the belief that Scotland is best served by a government which is accountable to the people of this country. We are all united in the belief that the natural resources with which Scotland is blessed and the talents of her people are best used in order to improve the lives and opportunities of all of us in this wet, green, and beautiful land. We should not to making our opponents happy that we’re doing their job for them, we should be devoting our time and efforts into making the case for independence.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The baby and the bathwater

If you follow social media, you’re probably aware that there’s considerable anger and dismay amongst independence supporters about The National’s decision to give publicity to the post-verdict statement from the anonymous women who were the complainants in the Alex Salmond case. I’ll be blunt, it’s an anger and dismay that I share. It was, to put it mildly, deeply misguided for the only pro-independence newspaper to further publicise what many in the independence movement perceived as an attempt to appeal to the court of public opinion after an actual court had thrown out all the allegations against a man who is hugely popular and influential amongst independence supporters. It sparked off a wave of anger and suspicion about the motives of the sole independence supporting newspaper within an independence movement which is already reeling from months, indeed years, of repeated assaults from the British nationalist media.

As we all know the complainants concerned are not merely the powerless and naive victims of a powerful man. We are not permitted to speculate upon their identity, but it is common knowledge that they are highly influential, powerful, and politically well connected in their own right. It is only natural that their letter, written behind a cloak of anonymity, would be seen as an attempt to pursue a political vendetta against Alex Salmond by other means. That’s precisely how it was viewed by many independence supporters on social media. Their anger is palpable, all the more so because they feel that they have been betrayed by the one newspaper that they felt that they could trust. We expect this sort of thing from the British nationalist press. We don’t expect it from our only pro-independence newspaper.

As you all know, I am a columnist for The National. I’ve seen comments online impugning my own integrity as though I somehow share responsibility for perpetuating accusations against Alex Salmond. I am not an employee of The National. I am a freelance writer. I have no control over the newspaper’s editorial policy. I do not generally write for the Sunday edition, which has a different editor from the daily edition. As is usual in newspapers, Sunday editions with an editor of their own have their own distinct editorial policy. I had no knowledge of what the paper was planning to publish on Sunday, but even if I had I do not have any ability which could have prevented it. It was a grave misstep, one which I sincerely hope will not be repeated. For a newspaper to misjudge its readership so badly is a serious error, and I had I known in advance I would have counselled against it.

Despite the fact that both The National and The Herald are owned by the same company, they are editorially independent and are run independently. The National is not subsidising The Herald or vice versa. Both newspapers are owned by Newsquest, an American multinational company which owns hundreds of newspapers in the English speaking world. This company has no opinion either for or against Scottish independence. Its owners genuinely don’t care one way or the other. All they are interested in is that the newspapers that they own are successful. Despite some of the frothier comments you may read online, there is no grand Yoon conspiracy to use The National as some trojan horse. The editors and staff of The National and its Sunday edition are as committed to the cause of Scottish independence as you or I. They believe passionately in it, so much so that they’re prepared to work for a newspaper that is regarded with disdain in the hidebound and cliquish world of the Scottish press.

In The National’s defence, the newspaper is currently being produced in the middle of a lockdown. Most of the staff are working from home. The paper was already being produced by a small team who are overstretched, but now that team is scattered and isolated and like the rest of us they are worried about their families, their friends, and the uncertain times we live in. This means that an editorial decision doesn’t get the proper feedback from within the team of journalists that it usually gets. There’s no one in the office to say, “This might not play well amongst our core readership.” The additional stress and difficulty of producing a paper under such trying circumstances makes mistakes more likely.

The simple fact of the matter is that if independence supporters don’t buy The National, we’ll have no pro-independence newspaper at all. The National is able to reach parts of the population that no indy blogger – least of all those who are leading the charge against the current incumbent in Bute House – is capable of reaching.

The only people who will benefit if The National loses readership are British nationalists. They are delighted by the self-destructive efforts of some people within the independence movement to attack other parts of the movement. The British nationalists deeply resent the very existence of The National, and nothing would please them more than to see it fail. Then they could go back to having the Scottish traditional media landscape entirely to themselves. It’s already difficult enough for pro-independence voices to be heard in the Scottish media. It doesn’t help the cause of independence to make it even harder. The National is the only outlet in the Scottish traditional media which promotes and publicises the grassroots movement and its initiatives. It’s the only newspaper that gives space to voices like mine who criticise the British nationalist media. So yes, I have a vested interest in the health of the paper, but I care even more passionately that pro-independence voices are given a breadth and reach that might otherwise be denied to us. The bottom line here is that our movement needs The National a hell of a lot more than Newsquest does.

The National is an imperfect media vehicle for independence, but it’s the only newspaper we’ve got. The SNP is an imperfect political vehicle for independence, but it’s also the only credible party we’ve got which is capable of winning enough seats to form a majority. And pro-independence bloggers – myself included – are the most imperfect vehicle of all. Yes, I understand your frustrations. But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Leadership, not management

leadership
There’s a new Scottish opinion poll out today commissioned by the Sunday Times which must have come as a massive disappointment to the British nationalists who produce that newspaper. The Salmond trial has had precisely zero effect on Scottish voting intentions. Fieldwork for the poll was carried out between 24 and 26 March, after the verdict had been given. All that SNPbaddery has had precisely zero impact. You’d almost think that the British media didn’t understand what’s driving support for independence.

Shock horror as the voters prove themselves to be far more sophisticated in their understanding than the press, and are able to distinguish between the actions of individuals on the one hand and political goals and governance on the other. After all this time, the British media still persists in thinking it’s all about the SNP. It’s not and it never has been. It’s about the British state and the way in which it marginalises Scotland. But for British nationalists grasping that thorn requires a fundamental shift in their own behaviour, views, and outlook. That’s never going to happen.

British nationalism is above all else defined by its exceptionalism and the unshakeable belief that it’s better than all other forms of nationalism by virtue of not being nationalist at all. It is psychically impossible for it to change, because in order to change it must first recognise that it is in fact a form of nationalism. So we’re going to keep on seeing articles like Brian Wilson’s exercise in spittle flecked denunciation of the SNP ship and all those who sail in her which will be hailed by the British metrocommentariat as important and game-changing, but support for independence will continue to rise.

In fact there’s been a slight increase in the number of people who state that they plan to vote SNP in the next Holyrood election, 51% in the constituency vote and 48% in the list. Together with the vote for the Greens who would pick up 3% in the constituency and 6% of the list votes, this would give pro-independence parties a very comfortable majority in the next Scottish Parliament. On the figures in this poll, the SNP alone would take 70 out of the 129 seats in Holyrood and be set for its best ever result in a Scottish election. 54% of voters in Scotland would support pro-independence parties in both the constituency vote and the list vote. The new poll shows that support for independence is up 2% on 49% compared to the last Sunday Times poll on the question. Support for independence is holding up well despite the constant barrage of “we’re all in this together” from the British press.

The reason for the rise in support for the SNP in this poll is because the people of Scotland trust the response of the Scottish Government during this crisis. Despite all the other criticisms which may be levelled against her, Nicola Sturgeon is precisely the kind of leader that a country needs in an emergency of this sort. She exudes calmness and determination, a marked contrast to the bumbling and contradictory statements issuing from Boris Johnson.

A time of crisis is a time for solidarity. The British nationalists may very well think that this means that there’s going to be an increase in opposition to Scottish independence. That’s a facile understanding, but one which they cling on to in comfort. This proves we need the UK, they tell us, more in desperation than anything else. In fact it proves nothing of the sort, what it really proves is that during a national emergency, life and death decisions are made by a British government which isn’t accountable to Scotland and which Scotland has no means to control or punish should it – as it has done so frequently in the past – act in a selfish and incompentent manner.

Even now we see the British government game playing and acting irresponsibly. We also learned from today’s Sunday Times that Boris Johnson was furious when Nicola Sturgeon decided to close Scottish schools and forced his hand. The Sunday Times reports that now the inner members of the British cabinet are making decisions that only go to COBRA at the very last minute, in order to stop the Scottish Government forcing the issue. We also see that they have refused to participate in the EU scheme to provide much needed ventilators, because Brexit. They’re refusing to delay or suspend the trade negotiations with the EU and the UK is still set to crash out with no trade deal in a few short months.

National emergencies are also a time for reflection and thought. That’s doubly true during this crisis as we’re all stuck at home with our fears and our worries. We have plenty of time to think and reflect. This crisis will pass, and the British nationalists are hoping that when it does the people of Scotland will come out of it with a renewed faith in the institutions of the British state.  Their hopes will be dashed.

The closest parallel is perhaps WW2, when the entire UK came together and made enormous sacrifices. Yet when the war was over, the sentiment that reigned was not one that rewarded the Conservative party and Winston Churchill, it was a determination that things needed to change. The voters elected the most radical Labour party in history, which introduced the NHS and nationalisation of key industries.

When this current crisis passes there will also be a determination that things need to change. We need to change to ensure that workers and incomes are protected, and that the government must not prioritise the interests of the wealthy under the guise of protecting the economy. We need to think seriously about a basic income scheme in this time of gig jobs and zero hours contracts. We need to ensure that the rich and big business pays its fair share of taxes.  We need a government which knows that the economy is a tool to service the people, the people are not a tool to service the economy.  But above all we need to ensure that Scotland is governed by a parliament and a political party that the voters of this country can hold to account.

So here’s a prediction. During this crisis support for independence will not shift much – people have other things to worry about right now. But after this crisis is over there will be renewed interest in independence as the realisation dawns that the British state is incapable of reforming itself and if the people of Scotland want the changes that the we all so badly need, there’s only one way that we’re going to get them. We will have that opportunity in the next Scottish elections.

Above all we need an SNP which is brave enough, bold enough, and imaginative enough to seize the opportunity. Many things that we have become used to have been shown to be inadequate in the fires of this crisis. One of those is a party leadership which seeks to manage the independence movement. We don’t need to be managed, we need to be led. Beyond the darkness of this terrible time, there will be the dawning of a better Scotland.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Updated regulations for dog owners

We have a result. Following the plea on this blog yesterday for the needs of dogs who live in flats to be taken into account, this morning the Scottish Government issued updated regulations relating to those of us who own or are responsible for animals. The upshot is that it’s now accepted that taking a dog out to do the toilet is accepted as a valid reason for going outside if you do not have access to a garden. Of course you must maintain social distancing, remain at least two metres away from anyone else, and wash your hands upon your return home.

This may seem a trivial issue to many during this crisis, but to dog owners, especially dog owners who live in flats, not being able to take your dog out for the toilet without having to worry about being stopped by the police was a very big deal.  The National was the only Scottish newspaper to take up the issue, and published a story about it in today’s edition – in which I am quoted. https://www.thenational.scot/news/18341384.can-dog-go-pee/

I’m delighted that the Scottish Government has listened to our concerns and acted so promptly.

I will copy out the new regulations in full below.  They were published on the Scottish Government website at this URL:
https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-to-owners-of-companion-animals-and-livestock/

Advice to owners of companion animals and livestock who may be required to self-isolate as part of government advice on coronavirus (COVID-19).

Published: 28 Mar 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice to owners of companion animals and livestock

Dog walking and Social Distancing

Q. What are the rules for walking dogs now everyone is only allowed out for exercise once per day?

A. It is accepted that dogs may need to be taken out more than once per day if they do not have access to a garden or other area to toilet. This must be done following the guidance on social distancing so that you do not come within 2 metres of other people and wash your hands after returning.

Shielding

Q. Are there any extra precautions for animals in shielding households (where people are in the high risk category)?

A. The advice for self-isolating households also applies. If you have arrangements for others to walk your dog, particular care should be taken to avoid them entering your home unless absolutely essential.

Self Isolation

Q. Can I walk dogs or look after other pets for people who are ill or self-isolating as they may have Covid-19?

A. This is permitted – where practical pets should be cared for away from their home for the isolation period so that repeated visits are avoided. Strict social distancing should be followed when pets are collected or returned so you avoid coming within 2 metres of the people self-isolating and wash your hands afterwards. You should only enter their home if absolutely necessary and stay for as short a time as possible. Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead and contact avoided             with other people and animals if being walked in public.

Q. Are there any precautions for pets or other animals in self-isolating households?

A. There have not been any reports of companion or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 and currently there is no evidence that they play a significant role in this human disease. It is recommended that those who have COVID-19 or are displaying symptoms, adopt the hygiene measures above when handling their pets.

When handling and caring for animals, good hygiene measures should always be implemented. Dogs from self-isolating households should be kept on a lead and contact avoided with other people and animals if being walked in public.

People under self-isolation who are responsible for the care of any animals, including horses and livestock, must ensure the animals continue to be cared for during the period of self-isolation. Wherever possible arrangements should be made in advance with friends family or neighbours that can be put in place should the need arise.

Q.  I am in self isolation. Where can I go for help or advice on caring for my animals?

If you are too unwell to care for your animals and do not have anyone near-by who can help, for further advice and support please phone:

Travel

Q. Is it an essential journey to travel to care for animals away from my home like relatives’ pets, horses in stables or animals in rescue centres?

A. Journeys to feed or provide other essential care for animals are acceptable. These should be done in a way that follows the guidance on social distancing so that you do not come within 2 metres of people who are not part of your household and wash your hands after returning. You should if possible make arrangements to share the care of animals at stables etc and minimise the number of people who need to visit each day.

General

Q.  Is there a COVID-19 risk from domestic animals or livestock?

A. There is no evidence that companion animals such as dogs and cats, or livestock can be infected with COVID-19. There is no evidence that they become ill as a result of COVID-19.

Q. Are there any precautions to take with live animals or animal products?

A. General hygiene measures should be applied. These include regular hand washing with soap and water after touching animals and animal products, as well as avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth until hands have been thoroughly washed.

As per general good food safety practices, raw meat and dairy products should be handled with care. Meat from healthy livestock that is cooked thoroughly remains safe to eat.

Q. Can boarding kennels and catteries remain open?

A. Boarding kennels and catteries can provide a valuable service caring for pets of    essential workers and those who become seriously ill and have no-one else to look   after their pet. They may remain open for these purposes if they follow the guidance   on social distancing for their staff and owners when animals arrive or are collected.

Q. Can I still take my pet to the vets?

A. Vets will continue to provide emergency services. You should contact your vet before travelling to check that a visit is essential and their arrangements for social distancing at the surgery.

 


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Dugs, self-employment, and the white van man

dogtoilet
Lots of coronavirusy related news today. Like Charles Windsor, Boris Johnson has miraculously morphed into one of those high risk patients who qualify for a coronavirus test and has tested positive. To be fair, we always knew that Boris was one sick puppy, and anyway he was always going to qualify for a test on account of being much richer than plebs like you or me.  Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also been tested positive.

Dominic Raab is supposed to take over in the event that Johnson is incapacitated and unable to perform his usual duties of fnaugh-fnaughing and telling inappropriate jokes. Dominic Raab. Dominic. Raab. The white van man of government. The man who exudes the permanent air of a low level business executive who has his ex-girlfriend buried under the patio and who has just realised that there’s a broken drainage pipe that’s going to need the entire back garden to be dug up. Dominic has been appointed as the designated survivor as no one would ever know if he had the virus or not because he’s permanently sweating. In that respect he’s the exact opposite of Andrew Windsor, thus proving the ancient aphorism that if you go far enough in opposite directions you’ll end up at the same arsehole.

We’re now in a UK where the words “if the Prime Minister becomes incapacitated, Dominic Raab will take over” are supposed to be reassuring. If you weren’t scared by the coronavirus crisis before, you should be terrified now.

In more reassuring news, I got in touch with Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin to ask her for clarification on the rules about walking dogs. This isn’t about exercising dogs, it’s about their toilet needs. We’re told you can only exercise your dog once a day, but it’s simply animal cruelty not to permit a dog to do the toilet for 23 hours. The RSPCA recommends that every few hours a dog should be permitted access to a space where it can do the toilet. Dog owners have a legal duty of care to their pet’s physical and emotional welfare. Those of us who live in flats don’t always have access to private gardens that we can let our dogs into to do the toilet, we have to take them out. I live in a top floor tenement flat, and we don’t have a back green where the dog can do the toilet. All we have out back is a tiny wee space for the bins. https://www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/dogs/environment

Anne spoke on a conference call with UK government minister Penny Mordaunt. Penny told her that that within the guidance / rules there will be times when people just need to use their judgement and that this is one of those times. If your dog needs to pee he needs to pee and she would not expect the police to interfere with that. She also said should your experience be any different, she would expect your MP to step in.

However this is a devolved area, and the Scottish Government state that as per the advice, you can only leave the house for one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle. However this isn’t about exercise. It’s about your dog’s toilet needs. There’s a very good argument to be made that this is covered in the medical exemption provision. It’s unhealthy and distressing for the dog to have to restrain itself from peeing for 22 hours or more. We’ve spent the entire dog’s life teaching it not to do the toilet inside the house, any well trained dog is going to be extremely upset if it pees indoors. No dog wants to be a bad boy or girl. Puppy pads are not an option – have you any idea how much urine a medium sized adult dog is capable of releasing? And besides it’s disgustingly unhygienic for you to have a dog pissing and crapping indoors. So if anyone from the Scottish Government is reading this – and I know that some do – some public advice on this issue would be very welcome.

But in the meantime we have to use our common sense. If your dog needs to go out to do the toilet, take him out. Just be sensible and considerate. Go out alone with the dog. Strictly maintain social distancing protocols. And don’t go too far from your home. As soon as the dog has done his business, return home. This isn’t a sneaky opportunity to get more exercise or for you to get out of the house more often, it’s about your dog’s needs. So don’t take the piss. Pun intended. If you get told by the police to return home, explain that you’re only out so that the dog can do the toilet then you’ll return home immediately, and contact your local MP when you get home.

In other reassuring news, we now know that there’s now finally some help for self-employed people. It’s late, and there won’t be any payout for months, but it’s welcome news nevertheless. Not everyone is going to be covered, especially those who’ve only been self-employed for less than a year. I’ve been self-employed for several years now but wasn’t sure if I’d be covered as I’m still able to do some work – after all you’re reading this blog right now. As well as the blog I can still keep writing for The National. I am grateful for that, as I’m considerably better off in that respect than many self-employed people.

However like many who are self-employed my income has taken a significant hit. A large part of my annual earnings derives from selling books and maps at speaking events, but those have entirely dried up. I also do a significant number of paid speaking events – I had three of those booked for this month alone but all have been cancelled so I have lost all the income from those. And of course there will be no new bookings for the foreseeable future. Additionally I can no longer do the dugcast for The National as the paper’s offices are closed and all except a skeleton staff are working from home. (I’m going to look into doing a dugcast myself from home, but of course I won’t get paid for that.)

I’m not writing this because I want a pity party, but because there are bound to be many other self-employed people like me whose incomes have been severely affected but which haven’t dried up entirely, and who will be wondering whether they’re covered. This morning I received a communication from the accountant who does my taxes, and he informs me that it seems that people in my situation will indeed be covered by the new regulation. So if you are self-employed and most or much of your income has dried up as a result of the crisis, it appears that you will be covered as well as those people who can’t work at all. There won’t be any payments until at least June, and my understanding is that you will have to wait for the government to contact you first. Better late than never.

If I get any other information I’ll let you know. Stay safe, stay indoors.


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The R-word

selfishsoandso
The independence referendum campaign of 2014 might not have succeeded in leading Scotland to independence, but it did succeed in normalising the idea of independence and making it the most important issue in Scottish politics. This coronavirus outbreak is a human crisis, but it also has political ramifications. During the crisis, of course our focus needs to be on ensuring that people are safe and well, that medical staff have the protection and resources that they need, that people who are ill receive the care and treatment they depend on, and those who cannot work receive the financial support they require. However those of us who are stuck at home now have plenty of time to think about the kind of country we want to live in once this epidemic has run its course. We have plenty of time to make note of the selfish and entitled behaviour of those at the top of the social food chain. We have plenty of time to consider how we want our society and politics to change.

There have certainly been many instances of coronavillians, and this crisis has only just started to bite. We’ve seen the grasping entitlement of some super wealthy businesspeople, who have been laying off staff without pay while insisting that they personally will take no financial hit to their obscenely large fortunes. We’re looking at you Richard Branson, Gordon Ramsay, and Tim Martin. We’re looking at the call centres that have insisted that their staff come into work, crammed into offices next to one another to deal with phone calls that they could be dealing with at home. We’re looking at Next. We’re looking at Sports Direct. It seems that we live in a British state which when it calls upon the citizens to make sacrifices, they mean that ordinary people should sacrifice their health and their lives for the bank balances of the rich.

But the crowning example of coronavillainry is Charles Windsor and his selfish and reckless disdain for advice not to travel to holiday homes in rural areas. There are serious questions about when he started to feel ill, about how he received an NHS test which is denied to NHS workers. This is man who is so up his own arse that he instructs his valet to put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. A man who insists that his friends call him sir. A man whose first instinct in his own privilege. He does that because other people enable him.

We keep hearing in the Scottish media that Prince Charles is known as the Duke of Rothesay when he’s in Scotland. No. He isn’t. When he’s in Scotland he’s know as “thon selfish prick Cherlie.” One of the ways in which the privilege of this massively wealthy, pampered, and entitled family is perpetuated is because we all keep referring to them by the titles that they give themselves. The head of state of the UK is not Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the whateverth. She’s Mrs Elizabeth Windsor. Her heir is not His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Duke of Rothesay. He’s Mr Charles Windsor. By referring to these upper class billionaires by titles, we reinforce their privilege by placing them above ordinary people. So we need to stop doing it. Language matters. It’s Elizabeth Windsor, Charles Windsor, and William Windsor. It’s time we stop deferring to the pretensions of the pampered.

What applies to the Windsors applies by the bucketful to members of the House of Lords. The titles of the likes of Baron McConnell of Glenscorrodale, or Baron Forsyth of Drumlean, are justifications for patronage. It is a means of legitimising failed politicians who continue to rule over us and to make our laws and influence our legislation and public policy despite the fact that they have been rejected at the polls. The rest of us should start by refusing to use or to acknowledge these pretendy titles awarded to political failures, rejects, and retirees by their pals. Calling Michael Forsyth Mr Forsyth is more politeness than he deserves.

If the independence referendum campaign of 2014 succeeded in normalising the idea of independence, we should ensure that this coronavirus epidemic normalises the political idea of equality, equity, and fairness. Republicanism needs to be brought into the mainstream of Scottish politics. It needs to become normal and mainstream to discuss the issue of this country becoming a republic.

It’s peculiar indeed that the SNP leadership remains loathe to discuss the idea of a Scottish republic, given that Scotland consistently tops all opinion polls as the part of the UK with least support for the monarchy. In a poll carried out in 2018 only 41% of Scots said that they supported the monarchy. 28% said that they opposed it, and 27% said that they were ‘ambivalent’. Given the distinct lack of interest in Scotland for recent royal wedding celebrations, it seems safe to say that with the exception of those of a flute band and Tory persuasion, even those who do still support the monarchy in Scotland are far less enthusiastic in their support than those elsewhere in the UK.

There is widespread public anger in Scotland about Charles Windsor’s selfish and reckless behaviour during the coronavirus epidemic, behaviour which put the public at risk and which ran directly contrary to the government advice the rest of us are obliged to follow. That points to a considerable lack of patience in Scotland for a royal family which thinks it’s better than the rest of us because it’s descended from German aristocrats who ripped off the peasantry of the Electorate of Hannover. It suggests that the 41% support for the monarchy in Scotland is support which is conditional on members of the Windsor family not acting like entitled dicks. It suggests that the 41% support for the monarchy is less support than it is toleration.

However despite clear evidence in Scotland for widespread distaste for the privilege and the nauseating sychophancy which the Windsor family receive in the UK and in the media, no one in the SNP leadership dares to speak the R-word. Instead they continue to defer to the privilege and pomposity of the hereditarily entitled. This cuts across any divisions within the party. Alex Salmond is a noted monarchist who wanted to retain Elizabeth Windsor and her heirs as head of state if Scotland had voted yes in 2014. Nicola Sturgeon dodged the question when asked about Charles Windsor’s selfish disregard for advice not to travel to holiday homes in the Highlands and noticeably refused to criticise him.

I am not suggesting that we open up another division within the independence movement between those who want a republic and those who support the monarchy. However we do need to start constructing a vision of the possibilities that open up to Scotland once we achieve independence. We need to start to talk about the better nation that only becomes possible with independence. We can build a more egalitarian and equal country. We can build a country where no one enjoys undue privilege as a result of their genes or political patronage. We should begin to debate the nature of Scotland’s head of state and ways in which our political class can be held to account. And we should start talking about other ways to ensure and nourish equality of opportunity. What steps can be taken to ensure that the likes of Tim Martin don’t treat their staff so poorly. How can we reform our tax laws to ensure that the rich pay their fair share. We should start to discuss the merits of universal basic income schemes.

We may be stuck indoors, but that means we’ve got plenty of time to think and dream of the better country that we can build on the other side of this crisis.


chillisauceI’d like to give a wee shout out to Jim McWilliam of Jimbo’s Chilli Sauce who has very kindly sent me a chilli sauce care package to get me through the lockdown.  His new Declaration Sauce is the best BBQ sauce I or my American husband (who takes his BBQs very seriously!) have ever tasted.  It’s spicy and fruity which a delicious kick.  Declaration Sauce is named to celebrate the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, and the label was designed by the very talented Alison Stell, AKA DefiAye.  It’s only one of the many delicious sauces that Jimbo’s produces.  Independent sauces for an independent Scotland!

Give Jim a follow on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/JimbosChilliSauce/ and follow Alison on Twitter: Brave @defiaye


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

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com