That’s a fact

It’s not Project Fear, it’s Project Fact, said Davie Cameron as he threatened a gathering of students with mass unemployment and rampant debt if they vote to leave the EU. Although to be honest threatening students with unemployment and debt is like telling smokers that a 20 fags a day habit is risks cancer and will give you a nasty cough. While Davie droned on, most of the students sat there day-dreaming about re-enacting scenes from 50 Shades of Grey – the ones where an English literature student managed to get a job straight out of uni.

Nowadays going to university comes with a health warning on your bank account, except of course if you’re a rich kid like Davie. Study hard, save your money, and after several years of hard work you too can be homeless but still owe as much as having a mortgage and if you’re really lucky a job making coffee in a branch of Starbucks – a company which managed to avoid paying any corporation tax at all between 2009 and 2013.

Davie wasn’t threatening the students. He was just supplying them with facts, although not the cold hard facts of their impending penury due to Davie’s government’s policies. If you vote in a way that Davie doesn’t want your teeth will grow into fangs, your hair will fall out, and you’ll grow scales, so you’ll end up looking exactly like Iain Duncan Smith. The economy will tank, he said, although how he expects a graduate up to their neck in debt working as a coffee maker to notice or care was not addressed.

That’s not a scare story, it’s a fact, said Davie, who then went on to regale us with other facts. Like how it’s a fact that pigs are very romantic when you take them out for a second date, and how it’s a fact that we’re not having this EU referendum now because of a pissing contest between Davie and Boris when they were members of the Bullingdon Club at uni. Now the pair of them are pissing on the entire country.

Scotland got this all the way through the independence referendum when we were told, amongst other things, that we’d be wide open to threats from outer space if we dared to vote the way Davie didn’t want. None of Project Fear Mk 1’s fearmongering was a scare story either, that’s a fact. At least it’s a fact in the same way as it’s a fact that an independent Scotland would be the only country on the planet that was incapable of having any sort of currency at all, except possibly used curling stones which would be a real bugger to humpf out of your pocket in the checkout queue at Lidl. Only we wouldn’t be allowed to shop at Lidl either, what with us being expelled from the EU against our will and everything and only a vote to remain part of the UK could guarantee our continuing membership. So how is that working out then?

Another of Davie’s facts was the fact that during the fag-end of the Scottish independence referendum campaign he was quoted saying the following: “If Scotland does vote to stay inside the United Kingdom then all the options of devolution are there and are possible.” Except of course the options which Davie has ruled out, which is pretty much all of them. This is the man who said the morning after the independence referendum that the lesson to take from it was all about England, and then rushed to make Scotland’s MPs second class in the House of Commons. Meanwhile we’re still waiting for all the options of devolution which Davie grudgingly conceded to. 19 months later and the Scottish Parliament still doesn’t have a single extra power, but Scotland already has less influence at Westminster. Och who are we kidding? Scotland has no influence at Westminster at all.

It’s almost enough to make you vote for a Brexit just to piss Davie off, but then you realise you’d just be making Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith happy instead. Sadly, the option of pissing all of them off at the same time is not available in the EU referendum. That’s British democracy for you. You get a choice between spoiled Etonian brats with a raging sense of entitlement. That’s what this EU referendum is all about really, two rich kids born with silver ladles in their voracious mouths.

The only real scare story about the EU referendum is that if Britain does vote to leave then it’s quite likely that Boris Johnson will be the next Prime Minister, and that’s enough to terrify anyone all by itself. But then you think that the alternative is likely to be George Osborne, and that’s equally the stuff of nightmares. The prospect of choosing between either of them is as appealing as being given a choice between sticking your private parts into a coffee grinder or using hydrochloric acid as a lubricant during sex. This is the main reason why the EU referendum campaign is not generating a huge amount of excitement in Scotland, which has pretty much already decided that we want to stay in.

Whether the UK votes to remain in the EU or to leave it, we’re faced with a future of privatisations, of poverty, low pay and debt, of right wing Tories from rich families lording it over us with their droit de seigneur, of a Labour party that couldn’t get elected if it was the only party in a one party state, and the absolute certainty that Scotland’s voice will never get a hearing in the corridors of power. In Scotland, we’ll always get governments that we didn’t vote for, and that’s a fact.

Mind you, if either George or Boris does become Prime Minister it’s also quite likely that they’ll become the very first Prime Minister of England, because Scotland will have waltzed off into the welcoming arms of Angela Merkel by then. So it’s not all bad. Our chance to escape this dystopian nightmare of a UK will come, and that’s a fact.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.

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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.

Great British Brain Eaters

It’s difficult to get overly enthused about proposals for a Scottish Six, an hour long Scottish news programme to replace the BBC Six O Clock London News With The Occasional Nod To The Provinces and the sub-tabloid Reporting Scotlandshire, a news show which makes the Sunday Post seem like Woodward and Bernstein. Asking the BBC to report on Scotland fairly and in an unbiased manner is like expecting a zombie on the latest BBC show Great British Brain Eaters to get enthused about a vegetarian diet.

The BBC is by definition the British broadcaster, it exists to promote and foster Britishness, so by its very nature it’s going to be incapable of giving equitable cover to all sides in a debate in a country where the great political divide is about whether to be British or not. Blue Tories and the Red Tories of Labour spent the last few decades privatising and selling off all the state owned insitutions which fostered a sense of Britishness, British Rail, British Steel, British Coal, British Gas are all no more. The British state has become so attenuated that the Westminster parliament, the royals, the armed forces and the BBC are the only remaining British institutions.

And no one, not even Nicholas Witchell, could seriously argue that Willnkate’s airbrushed anodyne affectations are going to be the glue that keeps the disparate parts of the United Kingdom together in the face of Tory onslaughts on what’s left of our public services. The Clean For the Queen campaign was not received with any enthusiasm in Scotlad despite the best attempts of the British establishment to get us excited about cleaning public spaces because that same establishment has taken an axe to public cleansing services so that they can reward themselves even more. And moreover to do it on behalf of an obscenely rich woman who won’t even pay her own palace cleaners a decent wage. When the dug does a crap in the street I always pick it up and put it in the bin, clean for the Queen makes me want to pick it up and post it to Buckingham Palace.

That just leaves the BBC and the armed forces as the last remaining agencies to keep us all British. The army isn’t going to do it, not as it becomes ever more involved in unpopular wars at the behest of even more unpopular politicians. It’s no coincidence that as Britishness has declined elsewhere that we’ve seen a growth in the public cult of glorification of the military and the Corporation has become desperate to stick a Union fleg on pursuits as diverse and trivial as cake baking, ballroom dancing and sewing. An institution which is one of the last remaining bastions of Britishness isn’t about to give a fair airing to people who question the entire concept. People who want an independent Scotland don’t fit into the narrative of the Great British sponge cake.

A proposal for a dedicated hour long Scottish news programme has been around for the best part of 20 years. It’s a proposal which is ridiculously, embarrassingly, self-effacingly meek and mild. Asking for a Scottish Six reduces Scottish news coverage to begging for spare change on the pavement outside Broadcasting House in London. It’s a small, unambitious request belonging to the dark days of the cringe. A wee squeak begging to be noticed by those who make no bone about considering us unworthy. Please Sir, can we have another 30 minutes of news where we are?

Yet 20 years after Scotland got a Parliament with law making and tax raising powers the country still doesn’t have a national news programme capable of informing the Scottish populace of what their own government is doing. People in Scotland still hear more about the English NHS and the English education system than they do about their own. We still have politicians like Ken Macintosh, who used to work in TV, arguing that Scotland doesn’t need news and home-grown journalism. The fact that after almost 20 years of Scottish self-government Scotland’s news is tacked on as an addendum to the news from London is testament to the Ebeneezer Scrooge like grasp of BBC’s London management on power, and the airing given to embarrassments like Ken who are ashamed of their own country and frightened by its potential.

A Scottish Six would be welcome, like a stale crumb is welcome to a starving man. But it already looks like BBC’s London managers are setting it up to fail. Under-invested, produced in a rush by a demoralised staff without support or resources, the BBC’s London bosses hope to produce a Scottish Six that’s going to be the current affairs equivalent of an Audience with John Barrowman. Then when the viewing public reject it they can claim there is no demand in Scotland for Scottish produced broadcasting.

If we had real ambition, if Scotland’s broadcasters dared to believe that we could be as good as any other European nation, we would not be asking meekly for a glorified Reporting Scotland. We’d be demanding what any self-respecting self-governing European nation of our size takes for granted. We’d be demanding a Scottish national broadcaster with two channels in English, one channel in Scots, one channel in Gaelic, and a 24 hour dedicated Scottish news channel. That’s what Scotland deserves, that’s what other European countries our size take for granted. It’s only with a proper Scottish broadcasting service that Scotland can invest in and develop Scottish journalistic and reporting talent. It’s the only way that we can have a media that actually represents Scotland in all its thrawn and disputatious glory.

Anything less leaves us short changed. Proposals for a Scottish Six distract us from what we ought to be campaiging for, for a proper Scottish public broadcasting service. Let’s reach for the televisual stars, not scrabble in the gutter for the BBC’s dregs. We need a Scottish public broadcasting service, not a sixty minute opt out giving the news where London isn’t when the rest of the time the Great British Brain Eaters of the BBC’s London management still set the televisual agenda and still call the financial shots.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.

What makes Scots special?

There’s been another wee outbreak of Scots-isnae-a-language-itis on social media of late. It’s a bit like gonorrhea, you think you’ve got rid of the disease then some wee dick comes along and infects everyone again. There’s a peculiar affectation amongst those who deny the existence of Scots as a language. Because they speak English they think that they’re qualified to make linguistic pronouncements that fly in the face of linguistic orthodoxy. It’s a bit like imagining that just because you’ve just passed your driving test that you’re immediately qualified to design cars for Maserati and you’re a faster driver than Lewis Hamilton.

We ridicule those who want the theory of a flat Earth to be taught in schools, there is rightfully strong and entrenched opposition to calls from religious fundamentalists for their creationist myths to be taught in science classes. The denial of Scots as a language is in the same league. It’s a position held by idiots who don’t have a clue what they are talking about, who substitute opinion for fact and prejudice for learning. Scots-deniers are the linguistic equivalent of people who believe that the world is born on the back of a gigantic elephant. But the only giant elphantine thing that exists in reality is the giant elephant sized turd that these folk drop all over any serious discussion of language in Scotland.

In what is quite certainly a vain attempt to answer these idiots for once and all, what follows in this blog post is not my opinion. It is based on an article by the highly respected Scottish linguist the late Professor AJ Aitken, a man whose contribution to the science of linguistics is so great that he’s actually got a law named after him. Aitken’s Law describes how vowels are realised in Scots and Scottish English (which is English pronounced according to Scots phonology). In 1984 Professor Aitken wrote a paper for a book called Language in the British Isles published by Cambridge University Press. The book was a collection of scholarly articles examining the different languages of these islands, and looking at their sociolinguistic setting. The book is a comprehensive survey of the varieties of speech used in Britain and Ireland, the only one it missed out was the keech spoken by Scottish Unionists.

In his paper, Scots and English in Scotland, Professor Aitken included a chapter called “What is special about Scots?” which directly addresses the issue of the distinctiveness of Scots. Just what is it about Scots that elevates it above the run of English dialect and allows it to claim the title language?

Firstly, Scots is of course not a single dialect, it is a collection of dialects which self-evidently have more in common with one another than they do with anything else that can be called English. While non-standard dialects in England merge imperceptibly into one another, Scots and Northumbrian English are separated by a sharp and deep linguistic frontier which runs, more or less, along the Scottish-English political frontier. Professor Aitken points out that this linguistic frontier is becoming more important with the passage of time, as traditional dialect dies out in England but Scots retains more vigour in Scotland.

Nowhere else in the “English speaking” world is there anything remotely like the sharp and abrupt linguistic frontier between Scots and the English of Northern England. Numerous important linguistic features which are typical of Scots run along this frontier. A border between linguistic features is called an isogloss, the Scots-English frontier is by far and away the most important bundle of isoglosses anywhere within “English”.

Within Scotland, Scots and Scottish English exist in a continuum. Speakers use more Scots or more Scottish English depending on social circumstances and who they are talking to. Scots speakers are more likely to use Scots with family members and close friends than they are in formal social settings like a job interview. Scots isn’t the only language variety to exist in a continuum along with Standard English in this way, the same is also true for English dialects.

However Professor Aitken points out that the end points of the spectrum are far further apart in Scotland than they are anywhere else in the English speaking world. In fact from a structural linguistic point of view, the end points of the Scots-English spectrum are clearly different languages which are not mutually intelligible. Even when Scots words are evidently related to their English equivalents (the technical term is cognate), the phonetic distance between the two is great. The vowel in hame is very different from the vowel in home. As well as cognate vocabulary, Scots also contains a mass of vocabulary which is not cognate with English, words like haiver, stramash, sheuch, speugie, stank.

It’s not just the sheer linguistic distance which makes Scots special. It’s also the quantity of Scots. Professor Aitken was the editor of the Dictionary of the Older Scots Tongue and points out that the Scottish National Dictionary (a dictionary of modern Scots) contains over 30,000 entries few of which are obsolete. No other “dialect” of English has anything approaching this quantity of vocabulary. That’s not surprising when you consider that due to its former use as the national language of the Scottish state, Scots contains literary and formal vocabulary such as legal terms. That means that there is such a thing as formal literary Scots. There is no such thing as formal literary Cockney or Geordie. Scots has registers, English dialects do not.

It’s not just that Scots possesses, in abundance, the sheer linguistic differentiation from English that makes it a language. Scots also possesses a rich and copious literature. According to Professor Aitken:

In quantity, distinction and variety this literature far outshines the ‘dialect literatures’ of any other part of the English speaking world. Scotland is unique amongst English-speaking nations and regions in possessing its own great literature in both ‘standard’ and ‘dialect’ versions of its own language … Furthermore, many Scots, such as Walter Scott and Hugh MacDiarmid, are very conscious that a form of Scots formerly was (in the sixteenth century) the full ‘standard’ or ‘official language’ of the then separate Scottish nation.

It was in its former use as the official language of the Scottish state that Scots began to develop its own orthographic conventions. Most of these spellings quh for wh, or sch for sh, are now obsolete, but some, such as ui for a vowel that is pronounced in different ways in various Scots dialects are still current. It would not be too difficult for a standard spelling for Scots to be developed on the basis of older Scots orthographic conventions, using them in a consistent manner without reference to English.

It’s because Scots is currently written in a spelling system based on English – in effect when writing Scots we write English except when Scots differs from it – that allows Scots deniers to keep claiming that one of Scotland’s national languages is not a language at all. However the weight of linguistic evidence is against them – so gaunie jist shut it, haud yer wheesht ya numpties.

So if you want to decide whether Scots is a language or not, who are you going to listen to? A politically motivated zoomer on social media, or one of the greatest linguists that Scotland has ever produced? Me, I’m going with Professor Aitken.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.

Yo minister is so nasty …

Today we learned that David Cameron thinks that the correct response to legitimate criticisms about his government’s woeful handling of the NHS in England is to tell his critic that his mother would expect him to put on a proper suit and do up his tie. Because, obviously, criticisms are more valid when they issue from the mouth of a man dressed in a smart pinstripe suit and a perfectly knotted silk tie from Jermyn Street, whereas if the man happens to be wearing a jacket and some polyester neckwear from Oxfam then he’s not worth listening to. In that one off the four button cuff remark from the Eton educated PR boy to Jeremy Corbyn we learned all we need to know about the attitudes of Cameron and the Tories. It’s not about the content of things, it’s about the packaging. As long as it’s as shiny and glossy as Cameron’s face, it’s good and true. Yer maw would approve. Never mind the smell of decay, look at the shiny.

This is British politics nowadays, reduced to jibes about yer maw. Next week in PMQs David Cameron will be telling the Labour leader that his da is bigger than Jeremy’s da.

It might be true that wearing a nice suit helps you get taken seriously. The South African anti-apartheid campaigner Steve Biko, who was murdered by the apartheid regime, once said that if you want to say radical things, you should dress conservatively. But then Biko had style as well as content and the content was what came first because it’s the content which is important. Biko had important things to say and the style was a means to imparting it. Corbyn has content but no style, and he is proof that how a person dresses is no guide to the veracity or worth of what they say. But for PR man Cameron it’s all about appearance, there is no content in the vacuum of Davie’s politics. His definition of politics is a show for the talentless, with Davie’s ego as the star. Cameron is unfit to polish Jeremy Corbyn’s scuffed shoes.

For a very long time now PMQs has been an exercise in pointlessness. It was supposed, once upon a time, to be the means whereby the leader of the Opposition held the Prime Minister of the day to account by asking questions about government policy and obliging the Prime Minister to give detailed answers. In the British parliamentary system of elective dictatorships it was pretty much the only means of holding the government of the day to account. These days you can watch the Prime Minister, or indeed any government minister, being questioned in the House of Commons and your wait for something that’s an actual answer, as opposed to a deflecting retort, will be longer than the wait for Donald Trump to say something sensitive and thoughtful.

Our politicians could just swap the entire sorry process of questions to ministers which they have no intention of answering for swapping jokes about your minister, which would at least provide the rest of us with some amusement if not government accountability. It would also have the advantage of being considerably more mature and witty than the sub schoolyard crap that passes for a debate in the Commons.

Your minister’s so stupid that if he got locked in Asda he’d starve to death. Your minister is so stupid that he stares at a glass of orange juice for two hours because he was told it’s concentrate. Your minister is so stupid he sits on the telly and watches the sofa. Your minister is so nasty that the MoD uses his bath water as a chemical weapon. Your minister is so nasty he only gets clapped in a clinic. Your minister is so nasty he takes away the money from disabled people and lets them die. Oh wait, that one’s true. Your minister is so stupid that he steals bread from a food bank. Oh, that one is probably true. Your minister is so stupid that when playing Monopoly he gave away all the community chest to Google. Damn, that one’s true too.

Prime Minister’s Questions will continue to be a waste of time until the Speaker of the Commons actually insists that politicians answer the questions that they are asked. There’s no sign that’s about to happen. The Speaker is quite happy for the pantomime charade to continue because the Speaker is a part of it. He’s got his own fancy suit to wear after all, and as long as Westminster remains in thrall to fancy costumes and pseudo-mediaeval traditions invented by Victorians we’re going to continue to get questions and no answers and insults about what the leader of the Opposition is wearing. Westminster isn’t ever going to change, it’s not capable of reforming itself. The only thing that you can be certain that Westminster will take seriously is that it will fights tooth and nail against anything that threatens its absolute power. We saw that with the farce that passed for the Scotland Bill, and how Westminster treats Scottish devolution as a means to screw over the SNP and not as a response to the demand of the Scottish people for home rule. You don’t get home rule in the yo mama’s house of childish retorts.

Davie’s attitude to Jeremy Corbyn’s choice in neckwear is much the same as his attitude to Scotland. We’re expected to dress nicely in a smart kilt and a tartan tie, to sit down and shut up. We’re colourful Caledonian window dressing in the Great British pageant, passive onlookers as the British establishment exchanges bad jokes at our expense. Davie can wear his Savile Row suits, the rest of us are stuck in the toxic mess that he’s creating. We can put on our hazmat suits and sit down and cry, or we can get out of this excuse for a state and start afresh in a Scotland where content is more important than style, where what a person says is more important than what they wear when they say it. I vote for the latter.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.

Ripping a Christmas cracker from the cold claws of a corpse

You’ll have had your vow then Scotland. On Tuesday the UK and Scottish governments finally reached an agreement on the fiscal settlement underpinning the Scotland Bill, bringing to a conclusion the exercise in misbegotten mendacity begun by Gordie Broon with his front page spread in the Daily Record. The image of Gordie spreading is enough to make anyone ill, but extracting the commitments which the Unionist parties solemnly swore to deliver has been a process of enscunnerment guaranteed to sicken even the strongest of stomachs.

We started off with a commitment to full fat federalism, which we were promised would give us Home Rule, the most devoey maxiest Holyrood this side of Reporting Scotland, all your self-governing eggs in a basket wrapped up in a union fleg bow. Then there was the Smith Commission and the Unionist parties smashed each egg one after the other until all that was left was the union fleg bow with which they hoped to strangle Scottish self-determination. Then as the remnants of Scotland’s expectations passed through the bowels of Westminster they were stained and soiled and every amendment proposed by the SNP was thrown up and thrown back in our faces.

The Tory Government made no bones about how it was constructing a trap for Scotland and wasn’t even pretending to answer the demand for substantial home rule. They didn’t want to make the Scottish Parliament permanent, they looked askance when we asked if we could get the TV remote control. Away to your bedroom Scotland, you can watch what you’re told to and don’t dare get ideas above your TV station. We’re introducing EVEL because the real lesson from the independence campaign is all about England, just like the current referendum is all about England too. Now off to bed Jockish persons, your masters will inform you when a decision has been reached. You’ll be told about it somewhere between the murrdurrs, the cute kittens and the fitba on the news where power isn’t.

Westminster decided that in return for its begrudging powers that were designed to be unusable, that it hoped would be a trap to destroy the SNP, that Scotland was going to have to pay £7 billion in a Better Together Levy. Their best of both worlds means paying for nothing twice.

The Tories not only sought to use the devolution process for their own short term party political gain, they wanted Scottish workers to pay for it and Labour was perfectly happy with that. They were determined to extract their own political advantage from your granny’s care provision, from your library services, from your child’s education. That’s your no-detriment there they smugged, no detriment to the UK Treasury and we can give Google a tax deal. They hoped in vain there would be no detriment to Labour’s chances of avoiding extinction. Fat chance of that.

Even when faced with almost half of Scotland, and a majority in the country’s largest city, being so fed up and pissed off with the Westminster system that they supported independence from the UK, the Unionist parties couldn’t help themselves. We thought they were getting a warning shot across the bows, they thought they’d dodged the bullet and could go on keeping dodging it indefinitely. They’re never going to change.

When you have to fight tooth and nail for things that you’ve already been promised in a solemn vow and you still only manage to extract less than a half of what was pledged, there is no respect agenda and there never was. That ought to be clear even to the most obtuse voter by now. The only thing that Westminster respects is the threat of another independence referendum. The only way to make Westminster respect Scotland will be to deal with it as an independent power. Bullingdon boys don’t respect the lower classes, and as long as Scotland remains a part of this Union that’s what we’re going to be.

It was only by threatening to bring the entire sorry process of the Scotland Bill to a shuddering halt that the Scottish Government was able to reduce the Better Together Levy to £2.5 billion, and then to zero. Or more exactly, they were able to defer Westminster screwing us over for five years. This is Westminster’s definition of no detriment to Scotland. They’re still planning to screw us over, but they’re kicking it into the long grass for five years in the hope that there will be a Unionist party in power in Holyrood by then.

Westminster doesn’t comprehend no-detriment as far as Scotland is concerned, because as far as Westminster is concerned Scotland exists to do as it’s told. Scotland’s role in the Union is to supply labour, resources, and the supranational window dressing that allows British nationalists to pretend that their nationalism isn’t nationalist at all. We’re the sub-state of Ruth Davidson’s imagination, a state of nuclear submarines that we didn’t ask for, that we don’t want, and that we can’t get rid of.

Och those Scots and their grievance culture, whine the Unionist parties. Grievance means pointing out the hypocrisy of Westminster, grievance means resisting policies we don’t want from parties we didn’t vote for, grievance means demanding the Unionist parties fulfil their promises and keep their word. We’ll be keeping on grievancing until Westminster tells the truth, until Scotland gets the settlement that the Scottish people want, and not the settlement that the Unionist parties deign to give us.

The vow has been delivered my arse. It’s a strange definition of delivery, but then we live in a country where we have a goverment that got the support of less than 15% of voters and has just one MP and an unelected second chamber stuffed with party donors and superannuated politicians. Then the same goverment’s supporters complain that they want out of the EU because it’s not fair that a country can’t vote out those who govern it.

It’s not so much that the vow has been delivered as the Scottish Government has finally ripped half of a Christmas cracker out of the cold dead claws of the corpse of the British state. We’ve managed to get a plastic toy of powers that are effectively unusable, and a bad joke of a settlement. The best that can be said for it is at least it won’t do any harm.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.

Scotland’s super power

Amidst all the hoo, the ha, and the Borisoid crikeys about the EU referendum, there’s another date with destiny that’s being overlooked. Time is running out for the UK and Scottish governments to reach agreement on a financial settlement to underpin the Scotland Bill. No agreement, no bill, and the Smith Commission is deader in the water than the Marie Celeste. Gordie promised safer faster change, but the only movement on this vessel is from the rising bilge water that’s going to send it to the bottom of the ocean of lies.

The promises that were made if only Scotland voted against independence have long since been falling one after the other like the guys in the red shirts on episodes of Star Trek. And just like the red shirted guys on Star Trek, the broken promises don’t even rate a name check in the credits. They’re beamed down in a blaze of shimmering lights for their moment of glory then get devoured by the tentacled monster of Yooneron even before they’re able to utter the words “You’ve been conned.” Then they’re unmourned and unmissed and never to be mentioned again as Captain Cameron and his lizard alien companion Osbornion warp off for another adventure while wee Kezia bleats that the dylithium crystals cannae take the SNP.

Monday’s Star Trek red shirt was the announcement that the insurance and financial services company Scottish Widows would be moving its headquarters out of Scotland. That’s the same Scottish Widows that threatened to leave Scotland if we had the temerity to vote for independence in 2014. They’re leaving anyway. This development has, so far, failed to rate a mention on the Scottish news programmes that plastered the company’s indyref threat all over the telly screens just 18 months ago.

This broken promise comes on the heels of a litany of broken promises. Remember your granny was told that she needed to vote no so that pensions would be safe? Well your pension isn’t safe. You’ll be working until you’re well into your 70s, and if you’re reliant on the state pension just remember that some Tory arsewipes are already calling for it to be contingent on you doing unpaid work for it. This is the Britain your granny voted No for, a Britain where the elite will squeeze profits from the lifeblood of the poor. Work until you drop. This is Britain where you live to work, you live to make money for rich basterts who already have got more than they can possibly ever spend, more than you or your family will ever earn in your whole lives.

Remember when Gordie Broon swore blind that the NHS would only be secure if Scotland voted No? Well it’s not safe. Just ask a junior doctor in England. The only reason Scotland’s not facing a similar NHS crisis is because the Scottish Government is diverting funds that should have been spent elsewhere into propping up NHS services because Scotland’s total budget is being slashed by the Tories that we didn’t vote for. And then Labour complains about “SNP cuts” when the cuts are only happening because Labour campaigned to expose Scotland to the full chilly blast of the mad privatisers in the UK Tory party and the Labour right wing.

Remember when they told us that it was only by voting No that we could be certain of remaining a part of the EU? And now they drop an EU referendum on us, timed to dominate the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish elections, so our own issues will be drowned out in the raging sea of Tory euro obsessions. Want a serious discussion of education policy in Scotland? Forget it. The telly only wants to talk about Boris Johnson and his clownfaced bid for career advancement on the back of a referendum that no one in Scotland asked for except David Coburn.

Scotland may well be dragged against its will out the EU into a mid-Atlantic dystopia without the Human Rights Act, without workers’ protections, without any checks on the megalomania of Westminster. Welcome to the respect agenda where respect means being ignored, sidelined and cold-shouldered.

Remember all the wonderful superpowers that would be coming our way? The nearest thing to federalism possible, super devo max, home rule. Scotland was going to be the most devolved country in the world. And it was all going to happen in an instant after the No vote with a wave of Gordie Broon’s sparkly wand. Yet here we are 18 months later and the only power that Scotland has actually got is the power of invisibility. No one in the UK Government can see that we’re here.

Against this backdrop of the serial evaporation of red shirted promises that turned out to have a shorter half life and are more poisonous than plutonium, came the negotiations on a financial settlement for Scotland. Despite the solemn promise enshrined in the Smith Commission that the financial settlement underpinning Scotland’s superdooper new powers would cause no detriment to Scotland, the Westminster Government interpreted this as as much detriment as it could get away with. Which it hoped would be quite a lot of detriment. They were relying on Scotland’s new powers of invisibility in the UK media in order to get away with this, and the UK media have by and large obliged.

Greg Hands, the Tory negotiating on behalf of George Osbornion’s lizard lair, took hands off negotiations to an entirely new level when Mr Hands went off on holiday as the talks were threatened with stalement as the deadline loomed. But then it’s only a Scottish deadline, designed to give Holyrood MSPs a chance to debate the settlement before the Scottish Parliament dissolves for the elections in May, and what with Scotland having the power of invisibility Greg couldn’t see that.

Are you feeling respected yet? Are you feeling loved? Do you feel that Scotland is a valued partner in a union of nations? We’re valued and respected in the same way that the invisible man is, standing in the corner of the cabinet room and no one knows we’re there.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.

Brexit wrecks it

The starting pistol has been fired, and we’re into a referendum campaign in which the English right which campaigned so viciously to keep Scotland a part of the UK will complain bitterly that the UK needs to leave the EU because the EU treats the UK like the UK treats Scotland. They complain that Europe ignores the UK while they ignore Scotland. The UK right wing media is preparing to rerun WW2, or at least an entire series of Dad’s Army, with front pages proclaiming that Britain must be saved using iconography that means England.

For the next four months we’ll be subjected to a barrage of made up shit from both sides. The remain campaign will mount a fear campaign that will make Scotland’s Project Fear seem like Carry On Frankenstein, while the leave campaign will make up any old nonsense that can appear in the pages of the Mail, the Express, or the Telegraph – so pretty much business as usual for them then. In an appeal to those English voters who are convinced that they’re paying for Scottish prescriptions, the Telegraph has published a story claiming that Nicola Sturgeon has said that Scotland should declare independence if Britain votes to leave. What she actually said was that it would “be best for Scotland to be in the EU as an independent member state”.

The Tory outers are making their positions known. There are things, said Tory minister Chris Grayling, that this country could and should be doing but that we simply cannot do – because another government won’t let us. That would be the same Chris Grayling who piloted the EVEL vote through the Commons which ensured that Scottish MPs are second class in the UK parliament.

Scots Tory carpetbagger Michael Gove, who had to run off to the leafy suburbs of southern England in order to find anyone who’d vote for him because his style of politics is as popular in Scotland as cholera, has stated he’s in favour of leaving. In a statement to a fawning press Gove said that his starting point in reaching a decision was simple. He thinks that “the decisions which govern all our lives, the laws we must all obey and the taxes we must all pay should be decided by people we choose and who we can throw out if we want change.”

This would be the same Michael Gove who’s a member of a government which determines Scotland’s future, which tells Scotland when it’s going to war, which sets Scotland’s taxes and its overall budget, but which Scotland can’t vote out of office. Scotland could be dragged out of the EU against its will and that would be just fine and dandy with the man who says he thinks that the decisions which govern our lives must be decided by people we choose. But only some people, and some decisions. If Scotland is nice and well behaved we’ll still get to decide on road signs while Gove’s Tory party wrecks our lives and destroys our public services.

Boris Johnson has been playing hard to get. For once the man whose entire political career is an edifice of carefully constructed buffoonery is determined to wring as much publicity as possible out of not saying anything. He fancies his chances of becoming prime minister on the back of having a prominent role in a successful out campaign, but he’s currently the mayor of a city which is the most pro-EU part of England and which depends on EU membership for its financial well being. Boris is torn between his careerism and his self-interest, which is the closest to political principles that he’s ever going to get.

In another example of Scotland, and Wales and Northern Ireland, being ignored by the UK Government, the date for the referendum has been set as the 23rd of June. This is despite the fact that the leaders of all the devolved administrations in the UK asked the UK government to delay the referendum so that EU campaigning would not dominate the media agenda during Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish elections. This being the same UK Government that refuses to allow Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to have control over their own broadcast media.

Davie didn’t give a toss, and now coverage of the Scottish Parliamentary elections will be swamped in our Londoncentric media by coverage of the EU vote a few weeks later. It’s already started, on the BBC news today absolutely nothing happened anywhere else in the world, and nothing happened in the UK that wasn’t about Davie’s referendum. The Scottish Parliament election campaign will now be dominated by Goves and Graylings, by Boris and Nigel. So now we can look forward to Scotland getting its first UKIP MSPs on the back of a UK media farrago of faragists. We can thank the pork puller for that. Now for the next five years we’ll be faced with some sub-Coburn mouth breathers in the Scottish Parliament and the right wing Scottish media pointing to their existence as proof that Scots really aren’t left wing and don’t really have a distinctive politics after all.

Meanwhile on the staying in side, who are telling us that the UK must remain a part of the EU in order to protect and create job opportunities, the new chief of the official remain campaign has been named as Will Straw, who failed in his bid to become elected as a Labour MP at the last General Election. That’s the Will Straw whose main qualification for the job is that he’s the son of Britain’s second most infamous war criminal and cash for access facilitator, Jack Straw. Whether it’s in the EU or out of it, for the UK establishment it’s all about patronage, privilege and jobs for the girls and boys. The appointment of Will Straw is the kind of thing that makes you wish that both sides in the debate could lose.

By this time you can probably detect the emerging theme of the EU referendum campaign, and that theme is stomach churning rank hypocrisy. It’s another UK decision where Scotland’s voice doesn’t count, where we’ll get presented with a fait accompli from voters down south and have to deal with the consequences. Even if every single voter in Scotland votes to remain in the EU, if England votes to leave that’s what will be foisted on us.

This is the punching above our weight that Better Together promised when they told us that they only way Scotland could remain in the EU would be to vote No in the independence referendum. We get to be pedestrians run over in the car crash of our own politics. We get to have the agenda of Scottish politics determined by other people in other places who have no real interest in us – we’re just a jokey extension to the north, an exporter of jokes about bad diets and subsidy junkies. Now all those trolls from south of the border who demanded their say in Scotland’s independence referendum can have it. If they vote for the UK to leave the EU, they’re also voting for Scotland to leave the UK.

For the next four months Scottish politics will be dominated by a question that none of Scotland’s main political parties are interested in, that most of Scotland’s voters consider long settled, thrust to the top of the agenda by people outside Scotland who have no interest in Scotland’s say. That’s how the UK works. Let’s hope that the question of Brexit wrecks it.


BUTRT cover front(1)BARKING UP THE RIGHT TREE Barking Up the Right Tree has now been published and is an anthology of my articles for The National newspaper. 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.