How now Brown’s Vow – 12 months on

This week the Daily Record, a newspaper with all the self-awareness of a Labour MP in Scotland just before the last election staring at the oncoming headlights of the SNP freight train and thinking the bright lights are going to make them a star, claims that the infamous Vow has been fulfilled. It has been fulfilled in exactly the same way as my vow this time last year to climb Mount Everest. Since I am currently writing this article up two flights in a close in Barlanark, that’s a vow fulfilled. There’s even a furrow that’s been worn in my carpet.

Barlanark is at least up a hill, and so enjoys a position of prominence, which is a damn sight more than can be said for Gordie Broon and the Daily Record’s vow that if Scotland voted No we’d get “safer and faster change” giving us Home Rule and the nearest thing possible to full fat federalism.

What we’ve witnessed instead is Gordie Broon and his precious vow vanishing with even less of a trace than a wee puddle of pug pee in the afternoon sun. Which is also a fair assessment of the lasting consequences of the hagiographic commentary in the Mailesque fanboydom that passes for much of the mainstream media in the UK.

On the day after the lowest paid workers have lost £4.4 billion in tax credits, there’s a refugee crisis provoked by decades of Western manipulation and arms dealing in the Middle East, and while global warming continues unabated and the Pacific ocean is seeing the worst El Niño for 65 years, the UK media is obsessed by the fact that the new leader of the Labour party didn’t sing a song asking a god he doesn’t believe in to save a monarchy he doesn’t believe in which isn’t in any danger anyway. If it were possible to harness disapproving tuts from the media, the UK would have a limitless supply of renewable energy.

The truth is that if he had sung the bloody anthem, the same papers would be full of headlines denouncing the republican atheist Corbyn for his God Save the Queen hypocrisy. It doesn’t matter what he does, the papers are going to disapprove. If they’d devoted one hundreth of the vigour which they devote to denouncing Corbyn to a critical examination of Gordie Broon’s vow, the outcome of the independence referendum might have been very different. And that’s precisely why they didn’t, and a perfect illustration of how our media is a force for manipulation by the establishment and the powerful, and not a mirror to society. It is unfit for purpose.

However pointing out that the UK media is unfit for purpose counts as an attack on press freedom, at least according to the same people who think that they have the right to spout any auld pish in the papers but don’t think that the punters have the right to point out that it’s pish.

The UK media is repeating the same mistake with Jeremy Corbyn as they made with the SNP. The media demonised a perfectly middle of the road social democratic party, and actually claimed that it was just like the North Koreans, that it’s an irrational religious cult, that it brainwashes and abuses. Every action by the SNP, no matter how mild mannered or reasonable, provoked a howl of outlandish and outrageous outrage from the Daily Mailesque pug-pissers. And in so doing, the media destroyed any credibility that it once possessed, because if all you hear are hyperbolic denunciations of perfectly reasonable propositions, then you’re not going to listen to reasonable criticism of unreasonable actions. The media did this with the SNP, and now half of Scotland no longer listens to a word the media says. The Daily Telegraph could publish an expose of goat sacrificing by the SNP leadership to propitiate Satan, and half of Scotland would shrug its shoulders and go meh.

We’re now witenessing the exact same process with Jeremy Corbyn, only on steroids. He’s constantly referred to as “a left winger” even by the BBC, but they don’t describe Davie Cameron as a right winger, even though he undoubtedly is. If this keeps up, by this time next year, most of the UK will have ceased to believe a word that the mainstream media publishes – and ensuring that most people disregard them is probably the best public service our newspapers and broadcaster could provide, because that’s how irredeemably piss-poor they are. But saying that makes me an enemy of free speech, because free speech doesn’t apply to ordinary people on the Internet, that’s abuse.

But back to Gordie, who has been easy to miss. Gordie has been invisible for the past year, despite swearing blind on national telly, or more correctly on the news where we are, to a fawning interviewer, that he personally would guarantee the delivery to Scotland of puppies, cute kittens, tax powers, control over knitting patterns, and the TV remote control. He then vanished only to pop up pacing the carpet in doomed attempts to save the Labour party in Scotland and prevent Jeremy Corbyn’s victory during which he refused to answer any questions about the promises he’d made a few months before.

According to a recent opinion poll only a tiny proportion of Scotland’s voters believe that the Vow has been fulfilled. That’s the same proportion that includes Daily Record leader writers, BBC Scotland management, and the last remaining dregs of the Unionist parties in Scotland. It’s also the same proportion which believes that Elvis is alive and well and serving fish suppers in a chip shop in Methil, that the BBC’s Scotland 2015 is a programme worth watching instead of a documentary about the struggles of Norwegian wallpaper hangers, and that we really are Better Together with the Labour party.

The Vow was never meant to be fulfilled. It was always an exercise in cynicism, a vague set of unspecified promises that could be spun as a substantial grant of real powers but which was hollow and meaningless. That’s what it was always meant to be, and in that sense, and only in that sense, it has delivered. It has delivered the bankruptcy of the Scottish media and the Scottish unionist parties. It’s also delivered the agenda into the hands of the Yes campaign, and it’s why one year on from the referendum which the No campaign won, we’re still here and we’re still on the road to independence.

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together. If you only want to order one volume, please specify which. Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please specify this in your email and I will send details when the books are ready.

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

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Solidarity is not submission

Jeremy Corbyn’s feet are hardly under the table and the UK media has already started a full scale onslaught on the Labour party. Democratic socialism cannot be allowed in the UK. It’s an insanity, cry those who believed in WMDs that didn’t exist and took the country to war on lies and tall tales. Madness, tut those who claim that austerity creates growth despite all the evidence to the contrary. Ridiculous, decry the voices which only believe in printing money to pay for bankers’ bonuses. Now the proper monstering has begun. The monstering before the leadership vote was announced was just the warm up act, the pet lizard to the full scale dragon. The English left is now discovering what it feels like to be a supporter of Scottish independence. The UK media asylum is roaring.

Corbyn supporters call on supporters of Scottish independence to show solidarity with them and their project. There’s no denying it’s a worthwhile project. There’s no denying it’s worthwhile and that it deserves our solidarity and sympathy. It makes sense for us to work together to counter the Tories and their assault on civil liberties, their destruction of social security and the shredding of the safety net that protects us all. It is good tactics to work together to resist the renewal of the obscenity of Trident. These are goals worth achieving, aims worth working together to achieve.

But what I’m not going to do is to give up on the goal of Scottish independence because some English leftists have suddenly had an epiphany on the road to Islington North. The underlying issues with the British state remain exactly as they were before. Turning the head of the behemoth to the left won’t necessarily change its course however much we hope it might. The momentum of the British state remains just as it has always been, headed straight off an austerity cliff.

The harsh but true reality is that more capable politicians than Jeremy Corbyn, with a more united party and under a more favourable set of political circumstances, have in the past tried to drag the United Kingdom kicking and screaming towards social justice and a more left wing consensus. And they failed. Let’s be honest here, the signs are not good.

Yet if you listen to some on the UK orientated left, all these issues must be ignored and we’ve all got to get behind Jezza. They come to us and demand solidarity with threats and insults. It will be our fault if their project fails, it’s the fault of Scotland that the English left is unable to succeed. So Scotland must abandon its hopes and aspirations and follow meekly behind the politicians in London who are so much bigger than we are, who see further than we poor benighted provincials are able to, whose British nationalism isn’t nationalist at all – and make no mistake it’s a national project because they’re not calling for a world government and the end of borders.

Sorry, but no. We’ve been here before.

Solidarity is not submission. Solidarity is not subordination. Solidarity is not surrender. True solidarity means that we all work together on our own terms in an atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. True solidarity would not demand that we drop all the projects and plans that the Scottish left has been working on for decades because all of a sudden someone in the Labour party thinks they’ve found a shortcut on the British Parliamentary Road to Socialism. We’ve all been down that road before and it always ends in tears, so forgive us if we refuse to suspend our disbelief just yet.

Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters might have forgotten, or more likely never noticed, that when push came to shove the Labour party in Scotland stood shoulder to shoulder with the Tories against the working class communities that gave birth to the party, but we haven’t forgotten. So don’t dare preach to us about solidarity. We remember the image of Johann Lamont outside a supermarket grinning at the news that its directors had claimed food prices would rise after independence – because Davie Cameron had leaned on them to say so. During that campaign the Labour party lost all right to stand with working class people and to articulate their demands and desires. It’s the Labour party which has to prove itself, not the Scottish independence movement. So we’ll give the Corbyn supporters solidarity – but it will be on mutually agreeable terms, not because it’s demanded of us as the entitlement of the Labour party.

In Scotland we have built a self-sustaining movement. Its steel has been tempered in the forge of political campaigns, it’s able to withstand the rocks and barbs of the UK media. We are building our own media networks, our groups, our communications. We have years of expertise in organisation and planning from the ground up. And we do all this in the teeth of mainstream media opposition, we do all this and we grow and we thrive.

And that brings us to the bottom line – we don’t need the Corbyn movement. We can continue on the road to achieving our goals without it. We can continue to strive for social democracy in an independent Scotland. And we will win. We don’t need Corbynism, it needs us. We don’t need Jezza’s support, he needs ours. Ours is not the movement which is reeling in an attempt to recover from an unexpected defeat. Ours is not the movement that fears it may never achieve its goals. That would be the Labour party. It’s the Labour party who are the supplicants here, not the Scottish independence movement.

And with that in mind it’s the Corbyn project and its supporters who must approach the Scottish independence campaign with a damn sight more humility than some of them have shown so far. They can learn from us, because we have much to teach them. We can teach them how to organise, how to maintain momentum, how to thrive when the media hate machine is blasting against you.

But the Corbyn project has no right to demand that we surrender anything at all because if it wants us to give up on our goals and aims, to walk away from all that we have achieved over these past few years, then it’s up to them to prove that they are better than the alternatives that we’re creating for ourselves. They won’t do that by insulting us. They won’t do that with an arrogant and lazy assumption of superiority. They won’t do it by refusing to listen to the demands of the Scottish people.

They can start by getting serious about home rule.

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together. If you only want to order one volume, please specify which. Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please specify this in your email and I will send details when the books are ready.

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

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The Jezzajism and the earthquake that shakes Scotland loose

Jeremy Corbyn has been overwhelmingly elected as leader of the Labour party. Scotland was already skiting along on the ice road to independence, through the cold Tory winter, but Corbyn’s victory puts it on a jet ski. Independence here we come. You might think, if you were a semi-literate Labour MSP, that the Jezzajism of British politics would restore the fortunes of the Labour party in Scotland, and his victory would be the best thing to happen to that sorry branch office since John McTernan said he was flitting to Australia. Sadly, you’d be as mistaken as a McTernan, and that’s pretty mistaken indeed.

Jeremy Corbyn has given hope to thousands of people on the left in England, and in Scotland we must welcome anything that drags Labour out of its hellish cohabitation with neo-conservatism, privatisation, and the creeping criminalisation of protest. Over the past few decades, Labour has sought power by adopting the rhetoric and politics of the right, so when it has gained power all it has done is disappoint and betray because there was little or nothing to distinguish it from the bogeymen it claimed to be protecting us from. As the party’s rightward drift continued, it turned into those bogeymen that Labour was founded to fight against.

The other week Gordie Broon was citing Keir Hardie, the founder of Labour, as his greatest hero. Keir would not return the sentiment, if he came back from the dead his first act would be to denounce the Labour leadership as fellow travellers with the Tories who have traduced the aims of the party he founded, and then he would expel those who’ve accepted seats in the House of Lords – starting with the chancer who styles himself the Baron of Cumnock.

For the Labour leadership, the party’s socialist past is precisely that, the past. It is useful as a rallying cry, especially during periods in opposition. The leadership has treated it as an incontinent old relative who has been safely consigned to a care home. Jeremy victory brings it back dribbling all over the expensive rugs that have been paid for on expenses. The magnitude of the Blairite defeat isn’t merely a slap in the face for Tony, who invested so much time and effort in pleading for Anyone But Corbyn without even demanding a speaker’s fee, it’s an almighty punch in the gob that sends him reeling ever closer to The Hague. The result the weapon of mass destruction of the vanities of Blair. At least in the Labour party. Blairism remains alive and kicking in the Tory cabinet.

But as Corbyn’s supporters have pointed out, winning the leadership was the easy bit. The really difficult task has only begun. And it’s starting on a party whose foundations have more cracks than a china shop after a visitation by bulls celebrating a Greek wedding. The Parliamentary Party has received the news of Corbyn’s victory with as much welcome as a papal blessing in an Orange lodge. Already significant numbers of the shadow cabinet and Labour’s front bench have refused to serve in the shadow corbynet. They’re the sort of politicians who believe that it’s not them who are wrong, it’s the voters and if they had their way they’d elect a new electorate. But they are a powerful force ranged against any possibility of serious change within Labour. Whether the party can survive is very much in doubt.

The divisions within Labour contrast with a media which is uniformly hostile. The UK press has even less intention of giving Corbyn a fair hearing than they had of the case for Scottish independence. He’s going to be monstered and misrepresented by mealy mouthed mendacious mediocrities, who’ll claim that their hmms are balanced reporting. Because of course the media is fair and only an anti-democratic wannabe dictator would think of criticising the spawn of Rupert Murdoch and the Barclay twins. Jeremy’s voice will be drowned out while his critics are given free rein.

Faced with all this, there is little realistic chance that Labour will remain united and will make substantial inroads into a voting population which will find itself subject to a fear campaign which will make Project Fear seem like run down ghost train at the end of a pier. It’s going to be relentless and unforgiving. The mildest of proposals will be hysterically blown out of proportion and stripped of context. And it won’t stop. The stakes are too high.

The British establishment could survive the loss of Scotland. Losing Scotland would be a massive blow to their prestige, to their entitlement, to their pockets, but the establishment would still reign over all except the rebellious Scots who refused to be crushed. But the British establishment can’t survive the success of the Corbyn project, he threatens the end to their privilege and preference. That’s precisely why they will conspire to ensure that he fails. Renationalising key industries threatens the bank balances of the rich, scrapping Trident threatens the power hungry dreams of the establishment.

Already the Tories are talking in the language of threats to national security. Because in their world national security is the same as the security of the very rich and the very powerful. The security of the poor and the marginalised is of no account. When the government refers to the main opposition party in such terms, when it describes the opposition in apocalypic terms as an enemy of the state, then democracy is no longer safe.

Scotland watches and waits. If it becomes clear that the British state will not allow the Corbyn project to succeed, if he can’t restore his battered party’s fortunes, then we can only conclude that there is nothing in this state for us. And that’s before we look at what he offers Scotland – a man who has already said that there shouldn’t be another independence referendum and that there should be no further devolution of tax powers. The British state is drifting further away from Scotland with every day and every soundbite from hysterical Tory MPs.

When it becomes apparent that the UK is looking at Tory governments for the foreseeable future, Scotland will not walk to independence, it will run. The Jezzajism is the political earthquake that will shake Scotland loose.

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together. If you only want to order one volume, please specify which. Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please specify this in your email and I will send details when the books are ready.

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

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Why Scots is a language

The Scottish Government has recently announced measures to support the Scots language. The measures are mild, and the Government has specifically stated that no extra funding is being made available. In a normal country they’d attract criticism on the grounds that they go nowhere near far enough and are a ridiculous tokenism for a language which has a million and a half speakers in Scotland and which is understood by many more. But this isn’t a normal country, this is Scotland – which is inhabited by Scottish people, people who’ve moved to Scotland to make their lives here, and by ProudScotsBut.

The measures fall a long way short of recognising Scots as an official language, far less do they make Scots medium education obligatory, yet they’ve been greeted with the usual howls of denunciation from the Cringing Factions of ProudScotsBut. Scots isn’t a language, it’s a dialect, their cringes cry, despite having not a clue on how linguists determine that a speech variety is a language in its own right. And in this instance, the world of linguistics is pretty determined that Scots is a language.

Despite the academic consensus that Scots is as much a language as Portuguese, Slovak or Frisian, this doesn’t stop the Arty Buggers and the Political Nae Sayers. When you’re a ProudScotBut you are suddenly overcome with the magical ability to pontificate on topics which you know bugger all about. ProudScotsBut know far more about the subject of Scottish languages than people who have devoted their careers to studying it. We’re back to that typically North British combination of wilful ignorance and overweening arrogance which pretends to occupy a moral high ground that exists only in their own heads.

The two key terms in deciding the question of language vs dialect are Abstand and Ausbau. Abstand refers to raw linguistic difference, it is German for “standing off”. If speakers of speech variety A can’t understand speakers of speech variety B, then it’s reasonable to consider them different languages. Linguists have developed tests for mutual intelligibility which are used when developing literacy programmes in unwritten languages which exist as chains of dialects. In such languages, neighbouring dialects can be mutually intelligible, but dialects which are further apart are not. Typically, linguists look for around 70% mutual intelligibility before considering two related varieties as the same language. Where intelligibility is lower than this, speakers require different written forms.

There’s a problem here, because all Scots speakers understand English. We’re exposed to it from an early age on television, in films and on the radio. Scots speakers without exception understand English with native speaker competence. That means that linguists can only test people from outside Scotland. Few such tests have been carried out, however the few which do find that English speakers without prior exposure to Scots understand less than half of what is being said – and this is when they are listening to modern urban Scots varieties. When exposed to more traditional Scots varieties, intelligibility drops dramatically.

Scottish people find it difficult to comprehend just how foreign non-Scots find the Scots language. Partly that’s because when we compare Scots and English we automatically compare Scots with Scottish Standard English, but Scottish Standard English is itself a variety of English which is heavily influenced by Scots. It’s English spoken with the phonetic system of Scots, and also allows a significant number of Scots vocabulary items and uses Scots syntax.

Technically Scottish Standard English is an institutionalised xenolect, which sounds like something spoken by space aliens who have escaped from the asylum. And when you listen to modern ProudScotsBut proclaim that Scots isn’t a language, you could be forgiven for coming to that conclusion.

Modern Scots exists as a series of dialects which form a clear and distinct group which is sharply distinguished from anything else which could be described as English. Uniquely in the “English speaking” world, Scots does not merge geographically into the dialects of Northern England. The Scottish-English political frontier is also a very marked linguistic frontier.

But intelligibility and linguistic differentiation are not the only criteria for deciding whether a linguistic variety is a language in its own right. Culture plays a vital role too. Unlike a dialect, a language is consciously elaborated for a range of social uses – it has Ausbau, German for “building out”. Dialects – at least non-standard ones – are typically restricted to the domestic and the familiar. However, Scots – uniquely for a so-called “English dialect” – has registers. Registers are different forms of a language which have different social uses. So for example there is everyday spoken Scots, but there are also a number of varieties of literary Scots. Previously there was a legal Scots too, used in Scottish courts. No English dialect possesses anything like this.

Many ProudScotsBut dismiss literary Scots, especially modern literary Scots, as an artificial language. However they are missing the point. ALL literary varieties are artificial by definition. Standard languages are deliberate creations, people sat down and invented them. They do not arise by magic because the Language Fairy waved her sparkly standardisation wand. Some modern European standard languages – for example standard Estonian, Finnish, Basque, or Romantsch – are consciously artificial creations. Estonian contains words which were invented out of nothing. Words in modern literary Scots are at least taken from some variety of the real language.

Scots also has a spelling system which is partially independent of English. Spellings like heid contain the sequence ei, used for a distinctly Scottish pronunciation of the vowel written ee in English spelling. The spelling ui in words like guid is used for a sound pronounced differently in different Scots dialects.

Scots has all the attributes of a full language. It has Abstand – it is linguistically clearly distinct from its nearest relative and not easily mutually intelligible with it without language learning. Scots has as much Abstand vis as vis English as Portuguese has with Spanish, or Danish has with Swedish. And Scots also has Ausbau, it has been developed as a language with its own spelling system, and contains distinct registers. There is such a thing as formal literary Scots, there is – or once was – legal Scots, there’s no such thing as formal literary Cockney or legal Geordie. That’s what makes Scots a language, while Geordie remains a dialect of English. Of course that doesn’t mean Geordie couldn’t be elaborated as language – it’s just that no one has ever been motivated to do so. Scots on the other hand were motivated to elaborate their speech variety as a distinct language hundreds of years ago – because they felt that they belonged to an independent nation, distinct from England.

And that brings us to the nub of the issue, the assertion that Scots is a language is also an assertion that Scotland is a nation, a different country. And that’s why the North Britons react so vehemently against it.

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together. If you only want to order one volume, please specify which. Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please specify this in your email and I will send details when the books are ready.

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

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Liz the Last takes the train

On Wednesday the Queen of Scots took a trip on the new Borders Railway, and some elderly wummin from Windsor joined Nicola Sturgeon on the journey. The BBC has been having a collective royorgasm over the fact that an 89 year old woman with a permanently sour expression hasn’t died yet. She’s now the longest serving monarch, although why monarchs are described as “serving” is never explained. We’re the ones who do the serving. Tomorrow she’ll be an even longer self-serving monarch so presumably we’ll be betting this media monarchlimaxing again tomorrow, and every day from now on. Although to be honest, that isn’t really very different from what we’ve had to put up with over the previous 60 odd years.

Although much of the media persists in referring to her as Elizabeth II, Scotland has never had a queen Elizabeth before, so calling her the second is innumerate. But then academia was never the strong point of a family whose pastimes revolve around killing wildlife while posing as chairpersons of wildlife protection charities. The correct title for the current monarch in Scotland is of course Elizabeth the Last. And she’s not Queen of Scotland, on account of the fact that the Scottish monarch was traditionally regarded as first among equals and the rest of us consider that we have the right to depose him or her when they do thing that displease. Such as purring at referendums or buying helicopters for their grandson while claiming they’re feeling austerity with the rest of us. This is in accordance with the ancient royal Gaelic principle of tanistry, which loosely translates as Do You Really Need to Be Reminded About Thon Coalmine in Sverdlovsk Pal. Deposing the monarch was Scotland’s most popular parcipatory sport until the fitba was invented, and unlike kicking a baw aboot, it was one we were really rather good at.

The full correct title of Elizabeth the Last in Scotland is Queen of Those Scots Who Give a Toss About the Royals, which is an ever decreasing number and mostly consists of Ruth Davidson and people who think that Councillor Gordon Mccaskill is a wit and ranconteur. It’s a safe bet that once Liz shuffles off and we’re lumbered with Charles, that number will decrease to a number approximately equal to the current membership of the Conservative party in Scotland. So about a dozen then. It’s likewise a safe bet that the Westminster Parliament will never consent to a referendum on the future of the monarchy, which is yet another reason that Scottish independence gets more and more attractive with every passing day. Alicsammin might have expressed support for the monarchy, but he’s not a king either, a point which seemingly has escaped much of the UK media.

Liz the Last’s determination to last means that a grateful nation of forelock tuggers who exist only in TV studios and newspaper columns can continue to name things after her without consulting the rest of us, despite the fact she’s neither paid for them nor supported them in any shape or form. We have the BBC to thank for showing us the real meaning of Great British Sycophancy, the new game show to be presented by Mel and Sue in which C list celebrities you’ve never heard of will compete to see how far they can get their tongues up the backside of a minor royal while icing an Empire biscuit with a portrait of Princess Diana.

It’s a remarkable achievement, oiled all time sycophancy champion Nicholas Witchell as he spoke into his Queen Elizabeth microphone while reporting from beside the Queen Elizabeth Border Railway on the Queen Elizabeth asphalt, that an 89 year old woman is still alive despite the fact that her personal fortune is only slightly larger than the annual budget of a developing nation that has churlishly refused to name itself after her.

Even though she is marginally less wealthy than a Russian oligarch, she asks for nothing for herself and large numbers of her relatives, except £40 million annually from the Sovereign Grant, £13 million annually from the Duchy of Lancaster, and £19 million annually from the Duchy of Cornwall. Plus perks, like the upkeep of all those castles and palaces with their spare bedrooms that won’t be seeing a Syrian refugee any time soon. The campaign group Republic estimates that the true cost is around £300 million. The DWP doesn’t even insist on a fit for work test. All that waving costs you know. White gloves don’t come cheap and sour expressions are hard to keep up. Gawd bless ‘er. She needs all that money, because she has to support the likes of Prince Andrew, who is so inept that he would actually fail a DWP fit for work test.

On Wednesday, to celebrate the fact that she’s never had to face a fit for work assessment at the Queen Elizabeth Job Centre or had her benefits sanctioned, she’s even gone and got on a train just like normal people, enthused the team of BBC’s reporters on today’s sooking up duties, because there’s so much arselicking on display today that even Nicholas’s tongue isn’t long or lubricated enough. Of course it’s not a normal train, commuter service was suspended so that the official Queen Elizabeth train could take over the Queen Elizabeth track, but then the plebs will be happy to give up a day’s income in celebration of the fact that an 89 year old woman with great private Queen Elizabeth healthcare hasn’t died yet.

Meanwhile back in the real world, a second opinion poll has confirmed that Scottish people are really no longer very enthused about this whole Union carry on. Someone won’t be purring about that news, but it’s drowned out on the telly amidst the tonguing. Gordie Broon will be grateful as it conveniently obscures his grudging admission that his Vow hasn’t been delivered after all, and that the UK government is “falling short” on the promise. That’s “falling short” in the same sense that Nicholas Witchell falls short of republicanism.

I’ll just console myself with the comforting thought that every new day of Liz the Last’s reign takes us a day closer to Scottish independence, and a referendum on a republic.

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together. If you only want to order one volume, please specify which. Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please specify this in your email and I will send details when the books are ready.

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

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Summary justice is no justice at all

I have no sympathy for Reyaad Khan or Ruhul Amin, the British citizens fighting for the so-called Islamic State who were killed by an RAF drone strike. I’m sad for their families, who never asked for any of this. But Khan and Amin were foolish and arrogant young men who signed up to an organisation which thinks it just fine to oppress and rape women, to enslave non-believers, to throw gay people from high buildings, and to destroy the cultural heritage of humanity.

Khan and Amin went off to a foreign land where had no business being in order to kill those who don’t share their narrow misinterpretation of a holy book. But that doesn’t mean that the British state which ordered their deaths should escape criticism. By killing these two young men who had become enthralled to a perversion of an ancient faith, Britain has shown itself to be a state which practises summary justice. The great problem with summary justice is that it’s very difficult to distinguish from summary injustice. Summary justice is no justice at all. Even kangaroos have courts. The only difference between the UK and Latin American states with their death squads is that we have worse weather and no banana plantations in which to hide the bodies.

The chilling truth is that the British state has now sanctioned the assassination of British citizens, without trial, without public disclosure of the evidence against them, without accountability. That’s a dark and dangerous road to go down. The fact a drone strike is carried out remotely doesn’t make it any less of a death squad. Is that the country we want to live in? Because whether we like it or not we now live in a country which has a hit list of citizens whose deaths can be ordered by politicians behind closed doors for reasons that are not disclosed, on evidence that is not revealed.

The reason we condemn the so-called Islamic State is that it practises a perversion of justice that is clearly unjust. We condemn it because it has recourse to violence as a first option. We condemn it because we like to imagine that we occupy the moral high ground, that we have fair laws, that we have just rules, that we have impartial courts, that we have compassion and understanding as well as justice and punishment, that violence is never our first option. Ordering drone strikes puts us on the same knee jerk level as Khan and Amin. They should have been captured and put on trial. I expect, I demand, that a democratic state should adhere to higher standards. I want us to be better than the likes of Khan and Amin, not to adopt their tactics and methods, not to skulk in the undergrowth spreading death and then demanding that we trust blindly in its judgement as though it was holy writ interpreted by wise men whose word must not be challenged.

Because the harsh truth is that the judgement of the British state is suspect. That’s suspect in the same way that a DWP fit for work test is suspect, or you might suspect a man who’s climbing through your window of wanting to burgle your house. There’s a tide of refugees begging for help and homes, and Britain’s answer is to send some bombs. It wasn’t too long ago that the House of Commons voted on air strikes in Syria, and refused to allow permission for them. Yet here we are just two years later and there are British air strikes in Syria. But we’re supposed to believe that these air strikes are legal, because the wise men who interpret the holy writ of the UK government says so.

In the UK, justice and law increasingly mean whatever the government and the establishment want them to mean. When you get into that situation, then there is precious little law and there is no justice. Over twenty years ago the UK government ordered the shooting dead of three IRA members in Gibraltar, claiming after the event that they had been engaged in planning a terrorist action. Those shootings were ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights because the court did not accept that summary execution was the only means open to the UK to prevent the terrorist act. The IRA operatives could and should have been detained and put on trial. It’s hard to see the difference between that case and the present one. That’s the same court of Human Rights that the UK goverment wants to stop UK citizens having access to. It’s hard not to reach the conclusion that the UK government wants that because it wants to be able to kill with impunity.

Apparently the UK government in its gung ho macho let’s blow them to buggery approach to dealing with radicalisation and terrorism has a list of British citizens who are considered targets for drone strikes or hit squads. This is the same UK government that assured us that Iraq had WMDs which could be ready within 40 minutes, yet we’re supposed to trust blindly in its judgement when it comes to the extra-judicial killings of British citizens.

There is no justice in the UK any more, and any pretence that the British state is a democratic one is running away from the consequences of UK policies as quickly as Iain Duncan Smith would run from Easterhouse. If there was any justice, Alistair Carmichael would have been forced to sit through the grinding tedium of the case against him being heard in Edinburgh. If he wins his case it will be because he’s proven himself to be a political liar who sought refuge in legalisms. Which is a whole lot more refuge than the UK government is prepared to allow to Syrian refugees.

The lesson we learn from the Carmichael case is that in the UK lying is fine as long as it’s political lying. And this is the same political system that wants us to trust it with drone strikes against unconvicted British citizens. Is that political too? Does that mean that the UK can kill its own citizens with impunity and lie about it? It certainly seems so. Is this the kind of state we want to remain a part of? No wonder support for independence is growing.

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together.  If you only want to order one volume, please specify which.  Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, please send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. If you wish to pay by cheque or bank transfer, please specify this in your email and I will send details when the books are ready.

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

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The Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug – pre-ordering now

WeeGingerDugCover(1)The Wee Ginger books are almost ready for publication, Volumes 1 and 2 of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug will be published on 28th September. Volume 1 contains the best of the Wee Ginger Dug blog from the blog’s beginning in October 2013 until April 2014. Volume 2 contains blog posts from April 2014 until the independence referendum in September. Each volume has a cover price of £10.95 and contains over 300 pages of the wit and wisdom of the dug.

You can now pre-order your copies of the books for a special pre-publication price of £20 for both volumes. Get your order in before September 28th and you will receive copies signed personally by me, and stamped with a special Wee Ginger Dug paw print. Please note P&P will be extra, approximately £3 per single volume or £4 for both sent together.  If you only want to order one volume, please specify which.  Single volumes are available for the cover price of £10.95 per copy.

There’s no need to send any money just now, simply send an email with WEE GINGER BOOK ORDER in the subject field to weegingerbook@yahoo.com Please give your name, postal address, and email address and which volumes (1, 2 or both) you wish to order. I will contact you when the books are ready to be sent out and give details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque. If you wish to pay by cheque, please specify this in your email and I will send details of the postal address to which you can send your cheque.

There will be an official launch party at the Yes Bar in Drury Street in Glasgow at 7pm on 28th September. Tickets are strictly limited. I’ll be there to speak about the blog and the books, and the dug will be there too – demanding treats in return for photo opportunities. The ticket price of £22 includes signed copies of both volumes of the book, and a chance to get your photo taken with the dug.

Due to limitations on venue size, only 65 tickets are available. Tickets will be available soon. Watch this blog for further information.