The fog of Union

The vow was the cunning plan of the Unionists in the last fevered days of the independence referendum. The entire point of the vow was to phrase things in a sufficiently vague manner so that the Westminions could claim that what was on the table was superdooper devomax, the most federocious federalissimo, and the devolviest devolving in the devolution of devolvement, when in fact what they intended to do was whatever it took to ensure that Scottish independence supporters would never put the shiters up Westminster ever again. A year on and the Westminions claim that the vow has been delivered, a claim that they keep repeating in the vain hope that if they say it often enough then someone other than the editor of the Daily Record might actually believe them.

The problem for the Unionist parties is that fogginess smothers both ways. According to a recent opinion poll, a mere 9% of Scots believe that the vow has been fulfilled, because just as the Unionists constructed the vow so that it could mean anything at all, the people of Scotland came to their own conclusions about what the vow was going to mean. We decided it was going to mean what the Unionist parties implied it meant in the days before the independence referendum, and we decided we were going to hold them to that promise – which is why there was an SNP landslide in May. However Westminster is fixated on the referendum vote and would prefer not to think about the subsequent election.

The piss poor proposals of the Smith Commission were Westminster’s response to the referendum vote, they’ve still not responded to May’s election results. The result of that lack of response is to tell Scotland in no uncertain terms that how we vote in Westminster elections doesn’t matter, but if that’s the case they’re also telling us that Westminster doesn’t matter either. They can’t have it both ways. They want to have it both ways, but they’re dealing with an electorate which can recognise a pauchle as quickly as it takes to say that the vow has been delivered.

Monday evening’s debate on the Scotland Bill was a farce. Well I say debate. It was a debate in the same way that a drunk man in a different room with his fingers in his ears going la-la-la-la is taking what you say seriously. The Westminions were notable only for their absence, and unlike Aliestair Carmichael most of them didn’t have the excuse of being up before a judge for telling a big fat porkie. They were in the Commons bars instead, with their fingers in their ears going la-la-la-la we’re not listening to what Scotland is saying. Then when a vote was called the gentlemen and ladies of the Commons who had voted to deprive Scottish MPs from having a say on English legislation scurried out from under their rocks to vote on Scottish legislation. And they voted down every amendment put forward by the party which was returned in 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies just a few short months ago.

There were a few MPs from English constituencies in attendance, and they got most of the speaking time. For the first half hour of the all too short time allocated to Scotland by the Commons, we were regaled by a discourse on the importance of English devolution. Then we got the balloon brained Alberto Costa, a Scottish Tory who represents an English constituency, telling us how it was a good thing that there are no Scottish representatives on the Commons committee that’s going to strip us all of our human rights, because human rights are a reserved matter. In Alberto’s world, Scottish MPs are not allowed any influence on British matters. But as the evening unfolded we discovered that Westminster doesn’t want Scottish MPs to have any influence on Scottish matters either.

Although they were asked a number of times, Tory ministers have refused to confirm that any top up payments made by the Scottish Government to mitigate tax credit cuts won’t be clawed back by the UK Treasury and the DWP. That’s just a risk you’ll have to take, smirked Fluffy Mundell when he was asked directly about it by Mhairi Black. Which means that’s precisely what the Tories will do. Any additional payments made by the Scottish Government to those affected by tax credit cuts will be deemed income by the DWP and the Treasury, and other benefits will be cut accordingly and the tax paid will be raised proportionately. The effect will be zero benefit to those affected. The politicking and positioning of the last few days was shown to be a charade by Mundell’s refusal to give a simple answer to a simple question.

Being genetically incapable of imagining that Scotland can have control of anything, Labour voted against allowing Scotland to control abortion law, because we need a male dominated Westminster to defend Scotland’s women from the female led parties in Holyrood. The move was motivated by nothing more than anti-Scottish racism, the deep rooted belief amongst certain sections of the British establishment that Scots are atavistic primitives who think feminism means allowing the little woman to decide what’s for tea.

Despite making a song and dance for the last couple of weeks about how the Scottish Parliament ought to mitigate tax credit cuts, Labour voted against the devolution of tax credits, thus making themselves look like massively hypocritical opportunists. Since the Tories were going to vote the measure down anyway, Labour could have voted for it safe in the knowledge that it wasn’t going to pass, and then the Tories would have copped all the blame. Instead they allied themselves with the Tories yet again. Labour’s only got one job along with its one Scottish MP, and that’s to oppose the Tories. They can’t even do that.

That wasn’t here here you heard in the chamber of the Commons, it was the sound of nails being hammered into the coffin of the Labour party. In this debate Labour proved that not only is it determined to frustrate the will of the Scottish people, that it’s self-centred and selfish, that would be be bad enough, but on top of all that it also proved that it’s very very stupid. But then you only need to hear James Kelly MSP open his gob and you can work that one out for yourself.

The Union is dying, and it’s dying because the people who say that they love it don’t love it enough to keep it alive. They love their power and their privilege and their entitlement far more. And with every move they make to keep hold of their power, the end of the Union comes ever closer, smothered to death in a fog of conceit. But the fog will clear and we can see an independent nation taking shape. Bring it on.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE

My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.

You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993

Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!

A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available. See below for order details.


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

Donate Button

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! 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 £10.95 per copy.

To order 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 with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. Get your order in today – an ideal Christmas present!

Remembering the appearance of things

So it was Remembrance Sunday yesterday, warmongerers and advisors to arms companies put on their best suits and their blood red poppies and stood in silence in memory of those they’d killed in the furtherance of their careers and for the advancement of their bank balances. Tony Blair was there, bowed like a vulture weeping for the bones it’s picked clean. He prayed to his god that he won’t go to hell for the lives he’s lost and the deaths he’s cost. It was a ceremony best watched in silence, if only because then we wouldn’t have to hear the oleaginous voice over by Nicholas Witchell, casting establishment judgement in the BBC’s impartial way.

There was only one man who was being judged yesterday, and it was the one who wasn’t responsible for war and death. We live in a country where the powerful and influential see fit to question the motives of the man who doesn’t want to kill en masse, who will go to extraordinary lengths to preserve life and peace. This is the guy we’re supposed to be suspicious of, not Tony and his toxic tongue. Jezza gets so much criticism in the press that you’d almost think he was a member of the SNP. Almost, but not quite.

The big news was that Jeremy Corbyn didn’t bow as obsequiously as the Daily Mail and the Sun might have liked. The Sun is the paper that traduced the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, so that publication taking the moral high ground on respect for the dead is a bit like Al Capone complaining that widows completely ruin the spirit of Valentine’s Day or getting a lecture on care of the elderly from Dr Harold Shipman. Although if Jezza had prostrated himself full length on the ground in front of the Cenotaph, the poppy fascists would just have complained that his jacket was covered in mud and muck and how dare he disrespect the veterns by appearing in public in clothes that need a good wash. Our grandparents fought and died for Fairy non-biological you know. Jeremy Corbyn attracts more press acreage about his clothing than Kate Middleton does, discussion of the leader of the Labour party in the national media is the very definition of shallow.

You might think that the fact that an avowed late middle aged left winger who isn’t Italian has a sense of style that makes a Chums catalogue look fashionable is news in the same way that Nicholas Witchel is a vacuous brown-noser is news. Anarchodandyists like myself who believe in bringing about the downfall of global capitalism while being terribly well dressed are few and far between. Even so there was still more press discussion of the colour of Jezza’s tie and the state of its knottage than there was of the real scandal of Remembrance Sunday – the fact that General Sir Nicholas Houghton the Chief of Staff of the armed forces went on national TV in full uniform emblazoned with his blood red hipocripoppy and showed that he’s got little understanding of the democracy that all those service people died to protect. But then generals in splendid uniforms don’t tend to die in action, just the men and women they command.

Because when you’re a high ranking officer who briefs the press anonymously that you’d support a coup d’etat to overthrow an elected government if that government threatens your boy toys, or you’re an army chief of staff who goes on national TV in uniform and pontificates about the undesirability of a government that threatens your boy toys, then you cross the line and are no longer defenders of democracy who deserve the respect of the public. You become a threat to democracy who should be court martialed, because you’ve demonstrated that you put the interests of the armed forces above the interests of the country they’re sworn to defend. You make the people your enemy and you become the enemy of the people. This is the danger of the poppy fetish, it puts the armed forces beyond criticism or reproach, and when that happens democracy is endangered and remembrance of the fallen topples that which they died to uphold.

Who invited a general onto Andrew Marr’s politics show anyway? It’s not the first time that Andrew Marr’s programme has done a disservice to democracy in its pursuit of a headline. The general should have known better, and Marr should have known not to indulge him, because the thing about soldiers in a democracy is that when an elected government tells them to do something that’s legal, they do it. If an elected government tells the armed forces that it wants to get rid of nukes, then the only appropriate response from the armed forces is “How deep a chasm do you want them chucked into Sir/Madam?” In a democracy they are servicepeople, the clue is in the name. When they cease to serve then they become a danger that must be kept in check.

The army has no role to play in policy making. It’s not up to generals to decide whether the country has nukes or not. But even more shockingly, the general’s intervention was supported by Maria Eagle, Labour’s own defence spokesperson. Labour is no stranger to internecine warfare. Maria could teach the general a thing or three about back stabbing.

The UK has got armed services where there are more admirals than ships and more generals than regiments. The defence services are overblown, oversized, and their senior officers are over privileged – and still overwhelmingly come from the same small social groups which are likewise over represented in Parliament and in the media. They protect themselves from criticism, hiding behind a poppy and the service of working class kids who are thrown out into the streets once their time in uniform is up, left to the mercy of mental illness and work assessments while Davie Cameron bows his head and wears a blood red poppy.

Increasingly the army is beyond criticism. When that happens, democracy dies, and the army kills what it has pledged to protect. The UK’s democracy has always hung by a slender and tenuous thread, and yesterday General Houghton took a swing at it with the sword that army officers still wear on ceremonial occasions. But it’s not his motives which were questioned, it was the guy who wants no more wars. This is the UK, the shallow land where the powerful remember that all that matters is the appearance of things, not their substance. Britain cares only about how things look, not about what things mean.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE

My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.

You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993

Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!

A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available. See below for order details.


 

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

Donate Button

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! 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 £10.95 per copy.

To order 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 with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. Get your order in today – an ideal Christmas present!

Altered State : part 2

Second part of PhantomPower’s documentary. Winner Take Nothing begins with the increasingly desperate ‘No’ campaign arranging Her Majesty’s backing. The impact of Project Fear’s negativity, elite self-interest, media imbalance and last-minute promises finally proved too much to overcome for the Yes campaign. Interviewees consider aspects of voter behavior and results as well as flaws in the Yes argument that require attention before considering a second referendum. In a campaign that saw the unionist parties prepared to destroy themselves to win, perhaps the real winner was the newly politically aware Scottish public who are still deeply engaged in a conversation about their constitutional future, a debate that seems destined to arrive at only one conclusion.

This episode includes interviews with Derek Bateman, Janice Galloway, James Kelly, Paul Kavanagh (Wee Ginger Dug), and Christopher Silver.

A passport to patronisation

Like a fish that doesn’t notice the water, for generations Scots either didn’t notice or silently tolerated the continual slights, disdain and patronising contempt in which Scottish distinctiveness was held by the Unionist establishment and its apologists. But we do notice now, and we voice our disapproval, and this is dismissed as grievance hunting by a Unionist establishment and its apologists who see no reason to change. Grievance hunting means that for many lifetimes they’ve acted like dickheads and their dickheadedness was tolerated, but now all of a sudden they’re being called out on it. So in their eyes it’s not their fault for being dickheads, it’s our fault for pointing it out – that’s grievance hunting. Their being dickheads is a part of the natural order of things.

Ill will hunting is like shooting fish in a barrel. The truth is we don’t need to go hunting for grievances, grievance surrounds us like the water fish swim in. Grievance is the water as long as Scotland remains a part of the British state, because the British state was founded in contempt for the lower orders, whether they be Scottish, Welsh, Irish, or English. The difference in 2015 is that Scotland has found a means of articulating its dissatisfaction and in doing something about it that’s far more productive and positive than the inchoate rage of a riotous rampage in London.

This week we got a new grievance to hunt. Or more accurately, a new grievance was dumped in our lap by dickheads who’ve been dickheads for so long that they’ve lost the ability to realise that they’re being dickheads. A new UK passport design was unveiled this week, the new design’s biggest – indeed only – success was the skill with which it managed to piss off several different sections of society. It was that rarest of beasts, a celebration of creativity which was entirely lacking in imagination. It looked like the end product of a meeting of BBC executives to discuss ideas for programmes with Great British in the title. Take a random assortment of Great British icons that you’ve found by typing “Great British icon” into Google image search, apply a few photoshop filters, then spew them across the pages of a passport. It looked like the beginning of a creative process, not the end result of one.

Dubbed the Creative Britain passport, the design pissed off creative types for its lack of creativity. It pissed off feminists for its insistance that men are way more creative than women are. There are only two women deemed important enough to figure in the passport, and one of them is someone no one has heard of. With one token exception, everyone is featured is white. And the Great British creative passport pissed off Scottish people for its failure to recognise any Scottish creativity at all. On the other hand, if you’re a white, middle class, English male, then this is definitely the passport that recognises you. But then apparently the creativeness of white, middle class, English males can represent everyone – the creativeness of women or Scots can only represent women or Scots.

There are only two women featured in the passport, and no Scottish, Welsh, or Irish people at all. Scotland does get a mention of sorts in the shape of a representation of Edinburgh Castle and a couple of bagpipers alongside an Asian dancer. We’re nothing more than a part of the exotic multicultural seasoning on the British blandness. The role of Scotland in this great Union is to disguise English nationalism as British nationalism and so magically transform it into non-nationalism. This is what makes being British better than being foreign, because being British magically innoculates you from nationalism – a disease found solely amongst the lower orders like colonials and Celts.

It’s not like there’s any shortage of Scottish creativity. Arguably Scots created the modern civic nationalism that this passport purports to celebrate. The Declaration of Arbroath was a decidedly mediaeval document in many ways, but what is most certainly wasn’t was a declaration of ethnic nationalism, and even from those very eary beginnings the Scottish sense of identity recognised that you could be a Gaelic, a Welsh, a Norse, or an English speaker and still be Scottish. But the very last thing a British passport might want to recognise is that there’s such a thing as a distinctive Scottish civic national identity that’s far older and deeper rooted than Britishness.

There are plenty of other examples of Scottish creativity which shouldn’t upset a British nationalist passport designer. The list of inventions and innovations in art, culture and science given to the world by Scots is long and distinguished : Television, the telephone, penicillin, tubular steel, tarmacadam, wire rope, teleprinters, the pneumatic tyre wheel. Encyclopaedia Britannica, logarithms, steam engine, central banks, the hot blast oven, steam hammers, adhesive postage stamps. The portrait gallery, light bulbs, the oil refinery, geology, anaesthesia, kaleidoscopes, and a cloned sheep called Dolly. Economics, radiotherapy, flush toilets, refrigerators, hypodermics, insulin, screw propellors, and wave power generators. There’s so much more but it doesn’t do to bore except to add that the master of doggerel is Scotland’s own William Topaz McGonagall.

Instead of choosing absolutely anything from the embarrassingly long list of Scottish cultural and scientific achievements, the people who designed the new UK passport were so bereft of knowledge about Scotland that all they could think of to represent us was a tourist postcard image of pipers outside Edinburgh Castle. That right there is exactly what the British establishment thinks of when it thinks of Scotland. A wee piper outside the castle with his cap on the pavement at his feet to collect the pennies from the passing tourists up from the South for the Festival.

What makes the new passport design typically British is that it’s condescending and patronising. Those are Great British values we can do without. It’s grievance hunting to point any of this out of course, because middle class white southern English members of the British establishment – and those who’ve swallowed their values and outlook wholesale – have been treating Scotland with the same hauf airsed ignorance for centuries. The Scottish fish has noticed the water, and it smells bad. We’re fed up swimming in Great British sewage, and we won’t accept their passport to patronisation.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE

My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.

You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993

Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!

A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available. See below for order details.


 

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

Donate Button

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! 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 £10.95 per copy.

To order 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 with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. Get your order in today – an ideal Christmas present!

Taxing Scotland’s patience

Tax is the big issue in Scotland this week. The media is fixated on the tax affairs of over privileged and over paid big weans who kick baws about while ruining a good lawn in a display which is allegedly symbolic of 400 years of sectarianism. The Inland Revenue has won its tax case against Rangers, which had tried to claim that its highly paid staff were receiving loans and not wages and so income tax and national insurance were not due. The affair famously set off a chain of events that led to the dissolution of the club and its reformation in the third division, having a reformation being appropriate in the context of a fitba club that has historically seen itself as a bulwark of Protestantism. Presumably the new Rangers is exactly the same as the old Rangers in the same way that the Church of Scotland is exactly the same as the Catholic Church.

But arguments about the status of a fitba club are trivial and childish. The real scandal is that a powerful institution sought to avoid paying tax, and it’s been ruled in the wrong in the same week that the Scottish Government is being pressurised to compensate low paid workers who have lost their tax credits. If only other large companies also had to pay their fair share of tax then perhaps there would have been no cuts to tax credits for poorly paid workers in the first place. However Labour in Scotland prefers to focus its ire on the Scottish Government, and not on the Westminster Government that condones industrial scale tax avoidance. When it comes to the actions of Westminster Goverments, Labour prefers abstention. The party could have voted against austerity, but instead they abstained. Labour plays in the third division of the fantasy league of politics.

Despite the much advertised new tax powers of the Scottish Parliament, they are limited and partial. Holyrood does not have anything like the full range of tax raising powers available to Westminster, and that is quite deliberate. The new tax powers granted by Westminster are deliberately restricted to those taxes which the average punter is going to notice in their pay packet, since the average punter isn’t able to avail his or herself with a loan arrangement from a former fitba club. Westminster wants you to notice a tax increase in your pay packet, and wants you to blame it on Holyrood. Specifically, they want you to blame it on the SNP. Then Westminster can get on with the serious business of offering tax breaks, concessions, and subsidies to large businesses without troubling itself with the thought that Scotland might get sick of its charade and walk off the pitch.

Labour’s cunning plan is that they can force the SNP to take responsibility for Tory cuts. Labour doesn’t actually have any costed plans, they’re not going to say how they propose to pay for the increased expenditure required to mitigate cuts imposed by Westminster. Kezia Dugdale says that she’ll not cut Airport Passenger Duty, but that’s not going to raise any more money. She’s also planning to resist Westminster changes to tax allowances that benefit the well off, but she’s not saying how that’s going to happen with just one Labour MP from Scotland and a party that thinks resisting the Tories means sitting on their arses in a Commons bar when a vote is called.

Today the SNP announced that they’re putting forward a measure in Westminster to have all tax credits devolved to Holyrood. If Labour was sincere in its insistence that Holyrood mitigate the Tory cuts then they’d support the SNP’s motion. You already know that they won’t. Labour are only interested in point scoring. The proof lies in Kezia Dugdale’s insistence that Holyrood can start mitigating the Tory cuts in 2016 using tax powers that won’t be delivered to Holyrood until 2018. But who needs political principles when opportunism and Unionism are all you need to get you sympathetic headlines.

The truth is that if Holyrood were to mitigate every cut implemented by the Tories then Scotland would have no money left to spend on the things that hadn’t been cut. We’re left paying twice for our public services, and with EVEL we get second class MPs at Westminster to boot. This is the best of both worlds that the Better Together campaign told us about before the independence referendum. Scotland feels so appreciated and loved. Why do we need to take our own decisions when we can just keep taxing ourselves more to pay for the decisions that others have imposed upon us while we fixate on the fitba that passes for news. It’s the U-KOK way. Devolution ought to be about Scotland making its own way within the UK, not about constantly trying to repair the damage done to the vulnerable by a a shower of sociopathic bastards on expenses.

Holyrood ought to reject the new Scotland Bill. It’s unfit for the purpose it was sold to us for. The true purpose of the Scotland Bill is not to empower the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people, its true purpose is to aid the Unionist parties in their short termist politicking against the SNP. The fact that Scottish public services will get wrecked means nothing to them. They don’t care. What they do care about is preserving their own privilege and position.

It started with a vow to introduce the nearest thing to federalism possible. It was going to be Home Rule for the 21st century – a phrase that was historically understood to be dominion status for Scotland, giving us all the powers of a Canada or an Australia. Of course that was never made explicit, just implied. This conveniently allowed the Unionist to insist that they meant something else all along. Then the vow was diluted in the Smith Commission, and further diluted by the Scotland Bill. Then Westminster worried that it was still a bit meaty so watered it down some more, and rejected every amendment put forward by Scottish MPs. We were promised the whole hog roast, and we got an out of date ham sandwich that’s been screwed by Davie Cameron. It’s time Scotland relegated Westminster and started playing in a different league, Labour and the Tories have taxed our patience for far too long.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE

My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.

You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993

Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!

A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available. See below for order details.


 

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

Donate Button

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! 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 £10.95 per copy.

To order 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 with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. Get your order in today – an ideal Christmas present!

If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one

Every year the poppy parading gets earlier and earlier like Christmas adverts. The poppy police have been out in force since mid October, complaining that there are people on the telly not bearing the obligatory badge of British militarism. If you don’t wear a poppy you don’t support the troops, and if you don’t support the troops then you’re practically a member of ISIS.

It’s not enough to remember the dead in your own way. It’s not allowed to light a quiet candle in your heart. It’s not permitted to make a donation in private to a charity of your choice. You have to make a show of it. You have to make a public display in an establishment approved manner, a way that doesn’t challenge or question, a way that won’t rock any boats or change anything that the powerful do. Poppies are the regimentation of remembrance. We remember the dead as soldiers, not as human beings. A unique life reduced to a name, a rank, and a serial number on serried rows of identical graves. And the civilians who die as collateral damage don’t get remembered at all. The most personal feeling of all, grief, becomes a public parade.

The poppy does not represent peace, it never did. It was begun by a man who sent thousands to their deaths WW1 in order to gain a few metres of mud for the Empire. It was a way of raising money to pay for the care of those maimed by a state which had no intention of caring for those it had maimed and then cast out, forgotten and broken. The poppy was sold to raise money to pay for the things that the state wouldn’t pay for – to pay for a decent life for those who could no longer provide a decent life for themselves or their families. Almost 100 years later the British state still won’t take full responsibility for the care of those it has brutalised, but it’s still ready to rush into war. Poppies ought to be a badge of shame for the British state, instead they became a glorification of it.

The poppy is not a symbol of pacifism, and it’s certainly not a symbol of opposition to war. Poppies do not say “never again”, they say: “We will remember the next time too.” Because this is Britain and there will be a next time, and a time after that, and a time after that, wars and destruction stretching out into the future in a never ending cycle of death and desolation. Poppies are the cant that covers the permanence of warfare and Britain’s love of bombs and bullets. Poppies are the holy relics of the British state’s cult of military martyrdom. Oppose it and you’re a blasphemer, a heretic, a witch who deserves to be burned.

What exactly are the people who ordered the senseless deaths of servicemen and women doing at services of remembrance? Tony Blair wears a poppy religiously, which is like a murderer appearing at a commemoration service for their victim bearing their photograph and a sad face. Why is it that we remember the victims of militarism with military parades? That’s wrong. Armies should not be allowed anywhere near a commemoration of those who’ve died in wars.

A remembrance of the dead is no place for uniforms, for marching, for generals and admirals. When we remember the dead we’ve loved and lost we should remember individuals, human beings with their unique lives. It’s their uniqueness that makes them human and it’s the loss of that unique humanity that makes their deaths a tragedy. The state sponsored services lose that – deliberately – the dead become an undifferentiated mass, dehumanised and depersonalised. And that makes it easier for that same state to send new generations off to fight its wars and to die in foreign lands, or to come home maimed and broken where they’re forced into work assessment interviews and their needs not met. And then we remember them in the same depersonalised way, and the whole cycle of death and pain and loss repeats itself while the British state presides over another pointless war.

The best way to help those who have suffered and lost because of the military actions of the British state is to campaign to ensure that the state fulfills its obligations to them. We can do more for ex-servicepeople by ending the iniquities of work assessments for the disabled and providing decent mental health services. But the same government that sponsors the parades and the ceremonies is axing the support services that those who’ve been wounded require.

The best way to remember those who have died in war is to ensure that there are no more wars. We can honour the memory of those who died in Britain’s wars by campaigning to ensure that Britain has no more wars. But the British establishment likes its wars. In the 308 years since Scotland became a part of the UK there have been barely 65 years of peace. That’s what punching above our weight means, it means parades for the dead whose individuality is lost in a military grave. It means that the establishment which bolsters its position with warfare keeps causing more wars. If we want peace it must mean an end to militarism.

The glorification of the military is no way to remember the dead who died because of the militarisation of society. We dishonour them. We dishonour the dead when children wearing t-shirts bearing the legend Future Soldier parade with oversized poppies. No child should look forward to a future of warfare. The poppy has ceased to become a symbol of care, it’s a symbol of militarisation. It’s a symbol of an establishment that refuses to be challenged. It’s a symbol of a loss of choice and democracy.

I won’t wear a red poppy. That doesn’t mean I won’t donate to a charity that helps those who have suffered and lost. That doesn’t mean I don’t remember the dead or have no understanding of the sacrifices that others made. That doesn’t mean I don’t grieve for loss and suffering. What it means is that my grief is personal and will not be regimented. What it means is that I strive for peace, not for the glory of an army.

If you’re going to wear a poppy, wear a white one. Remember the dead with a symbol of peace.

 


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE

My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars. The dug is in exhalted company. None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.

You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993

Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!

A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available. See below for order details.


 

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

Donate Button

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! 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 £10.95 per copy.

To order 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 with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. Get your order in today – an ideal Christmas present!

Hedgehog of mass destruction

Labour in Scotland has passed a resolution against renewing the Trident weapons of mass destruction, Labour in Scotland is now officially against renewing Trident but its leader is in favour. Meanwhile UK Labour is officially in favour of renewing Trident but its leader is against. It’s perfectly straightforward, and another step backward in Labour’s attempts to make sense to the electorate of Scotland. Labour’s now got all the nuclear bases covered, yes, no and maybe. The party is as all over the place as a hedgehog that’s been playing on the M8, only with rather less integrity. Still, at least their heart is in the right place, splattered on the asphalt and being ground into the dirt.

There are still influential voices within the Scottish party who want to renew Trident. Jackie Baillie wants to spend billions on a weapons system that can blow up half the planet because of jobs, which is a bit like encouraging the hedgehog to cause a multiple collision on the M8 motorway because it gives the emergency services something to do, a hedgehog of mass destruction. Jackie’s not very clear on how many jobs depend on renewing Trident, this week it’s 13,000 but a wee while ago it was 11,000, although her erstwhile colleague Ian Davidson claimed it was 22,000. The MoD themselves say that only 520 civilian jobs depend directly on Trident, the others employed making us safe by threatening global destruction are service people who don’t live locally.

Let’s be kind and take Ian’s figure of 22,000 – which is clearly as inflated as Labour’s membership statistics in Scotland, or as the BBC’s estimation of John McTernan’s talents. Since it was reported recently that the cost of Trident renewal is likely to be in the order of £167 billion, that means that each one of these 22,000 fantasy jobs costs £7,591,000. If Jackie had proposed a motion to bung the entire population of her Dumbarton constituency a million per head instead, no one would be caring about the jobs, the country would save over £100 billion, there would be no weapons of genocidal mass destruction on the Clyde, and Jackie would pretty much guarantee her perpetual re-election by the grateful and well-heeled populace of her constituency who would never need to work on the minimum wage as security guards at Faslane ever again. It would be a win-win-win, at least for everyone except people who prefer numerate MSPs. But we shouldn’t complain too much. As things stand, Jackie’s probably going to lose her seat – unless she’s blagged herself a place on the list as it is rumoured that Magrit Curran has.

There is no moral defence of a weapon which is designed to evaporate cities. And anyone who claims that they support the renewal of Trident because they believe in multilateral disarmament doesn’t understand the meaning of the word disarm. You don’t disarm by buying more and bigger and bangier weapons. It’s a good thing that Labour in Scotland has – finally – come out against Trident, but the party’s position on the issue remains as confused as Magrit Curran and her belief that losing one of the party’s safest seats doesn’t mean that the public are sick of her and her sense of entitlement.

During the referendum campaign, Labour spent as much energy as is contained in your average Trident warhead informing the people of Scotland that if we got rid of Trident then we’d be cast out of NATO and would have no protection against maurading North Koreans or space aliens from Alpha Centauri. Apparently advanced extraterrestrial civilisations with technology thousands of years in advance of our own are going to be deterred by our nukes. It’s a bit like believing that a modern army with all its up to date weapons is going to be threatened by a teenager throwing a rock – a proposition which is only taken seriously by the Israeli Defence Forces and US Police Departments.

Still, it’s nice to know that Labour no longer believes that Scotland will be thrown out of NATO because we want to get rid of nukes, even though personally I’d prefer we were not NATO members. Yet another of Project Fear’s scare stories falls apart, and we learn that independence wouldn’t have been the cataclysm promised by Labour’s George Robertson – who has recently taken to voting alongside the Tories to strip the poor of tax credits because if there isn’t going to be a nuclear cataclysm he’ll make sure that the punters face a financial one instead.

It’s good that Labour in Scotland is now officially opposed to Trident renewal, because it shows that there is no doubt about what the Scottish consensus is. But it’s purely symbolic. The truth is of course that it makes no difference that Labour in Scotland is against Trident, just as it makes no difference that the SNP and the Scottish Government are against it. All it does is to reinforce the point that Scotland doesn’t get what Scotland votes for. 83% of Scotland’s MSPs are either opposed to Trident renewal or belong to parties which have passed motions against it. 96.6% of our Westminster MPs are either opposed to Trident renewal or belong to parties which have passed motions against it. That’s as strong a mandate as you’re going to get in a country which, despite Unionist protestations to the contrary, is not an SNP one party state.

It makes no difference though, because we do live in a one party state – we live in a Westminster establishment one party state. Scotland will get what the Tories we didn’t vote for tell us we’re getting. That’s what a No vote meant. A No vote meant we get no say on Trident. A No vote meant we get English Votes for English Laws and a majority of non-Scottish MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee. A No vote meant nukes on the Clyde. A No vote meant Labour could continue to lie to the voters about what’s devolved and what’s not. But we’ve wised up, we know how to get rid of Trident from the Clyde – and it doesn’t involve voting for Jackie Baillie and her pals.


 

BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE

My new book is due to be published on 23 November. Barking Up the Right Tree is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper and is being published by Vagabond Voices press, who also publish Jim Sillars.  The dug is in exhalted company.  None of the articles collected in this book have appeared on this blog.

You can submit an advance order for the book on the Vagabond Voices website at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993

Price is just £7.95 for 156 pages of doggy goodness. Order today!

A limited number of signed copies of the two volumes of the Collected Yaps is also still available.  See below for order details.


 

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

Donate Button

Order the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug Vols 1 & 2 for only £21.90 for both volumes. A limited number of signed copies is still available, so get your order in now! 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 £10.95 per copy.

To order 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 with details of how to make payment. Payment can be made by Paypal, or by cheque or bank transfer. Get your order in today – an ideal Christmas present!