Elizabeth the Last

Respect, they say, is earned and not given. This most definitely doesn’t hold true for one family in this supposedly United Kingdom, the family whose head is celebrating her 90th birthday. You may have noticed the wall to wall gushing sycophancy in lieu of news on the telly today. It’s hard to avoid it, deliberately so. You’re not allowed to avoid it because you’re a peasant who needs to learn how to respect your betters and the way you’re taught to respect them is by having Nicolas Witchell waffle insulting nonsense on the Six O’Clock news.

The fact that Prince Charles visited a garden centre and uttered a platitude is far more important than the fact that the UK government is stripping us all of our dignity and the money we need to make it through the week in order to reward rich wastes of space like Charles. It’s more important than illegal wars, than whitewashed reports into government misdeeds, than the lack of democracy in this country.

We don’t just have to pay this family respect, we also have to pay them vast amounts of cash to keep them in luxury. Palaces, flunkies, horses, landed estates, and an amount of bling that a Kardashian would think was a bit over the top, who knew that respect was so expensive? Who knew that it was going to cost us so much money to make ourselves look so powerless. Nicolas Witchell knows, but he doesn’t mind. He’s got a cosy supporting role in the world’s most expensive soap opera. A royal correspondent isn’t going to tell the unvarnished truth about the royals because his job depends on preserving the myths. That’s what his job is, preserving the myths and telling us fairy stories of magical princes and princesses. He makes me wish I had a magic fairy wand so I could turn him into a frog. Then at least he’d perform a useful role in the pondlife ecosystem.

Respect is apparently obligatory for this particular bunch, a family who truly deserve the tabloid title of wastrel benefits spongers. But you’d never see that in the Sun or the Mail, it’s only poor claimants who get ritually disembowelled in the tabloids, poor social inadequates who self-medicate on drugs or alcohol. Rich social inadequates who self-medicate on horses, fancy uniforms, Bentleys, and valets who squeeze their toothbrushes for them get gushing praise of the sort that Mediaeval hagiography writers would find a bit over the top. St Elizabeth the patron saint of walking and waving at the same time, isn’t she maaahvellous! Look at Prince Charles with a chest full of medals that his mammy gave him for services to being her wean. Walking and waving at the same time is what royals call working, and the state takes squillions of our taxes and turns it over to them for services to everyday pedestrianism. There’s another miracle right there.

Today the papers are full of the news that an old lady with access to the very best of healthcare is still in good health. This is a good thing, no one wishes ill on the elderly. And in this case we have particular reason to be grateful because the longer that the Queen keeps going the more she can stave off lumbering us with her meddling halfwit son. It’s the only real public service she performs, but then since she was the one who lumbered us with him in the first place that’s really not saying much. Royalists claim that Charles will be an excellent king. This is of course entirely correct, but only if we admit that this is an instance of the use of the word excellent with the meaning “utter constitutional distaster waiting to happen”.

The UK is a patronage state, it runs on graces and favours bestowed by the powerful on those that are in their good books and who do their bidding. And at the very pinnacle of this pyramid of privilege sit the royal family. A peerage is meaningless without a monarch. We can only have a House of Lords because we have a monarchy. The royals are the keystone in the arch of unaccountable authority that rules over us, that determines our laws and tells us what the national priorities must be.

Scotland, by and large, seems to be relatively immune to the dubious charms of the royals. The BBC was clearly embarrassed by the lack of enthusiasm that we surly Caledonians showed for Will-n-Kate’s nuptials. Since there was a national shortage of spontaneous street parties they had to fulfil their London ordered quota of royal themed items on the news by telling us how much we could get if you sold off your patriotic made in China commemorative teacup on eBay. Not much, as it turns out. The royals cost a lot of money, and they’re really cheap.

The lack of enthusiasm for the royal family in Scotland is representative of the disconnect between the British state and the Scottish people. Charles donning a kilt to attend some Highland games does not foster any affection for the institution of monarchy amongst the Scottish people. It just makes us see him as yet another rich and privileged aristo who owns vast tracts of our country and who has more of a say in running it than we do.

With the Westminster Parliament we’re going to be stuck with the royals forever. They’re central to Westminster’s mythology of itself, the absolute authority of the Westminster parliament derives ultimately from the monarch. They’re never going to concede that the people are sovereign, because that places a body above the Westminster parliament. The only chance we’ve got of getting rid of them is with Scottish independence.

The official line of the SNP might be to retain the monarchy. But in an independent Scotland the people will be sovereign and the people will decide, not any one political party. An independent Scottish parliament is far more likely to concede a referendum on the monarchy for the simple reason that republican sentiment is far stronger in Scotland, and few are thrilled by the prospect of Charles as king. Then we’ll get to decide whether the current monarch should be Elizabeth the Last.


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.

The sands in the hourglass

It’s not even two years since the independence referendum whose date most of us can remember, and here we are, talking about indyref 2. Few can have imagined during the depressing day when Magrit Curran danced and clapped and Conservatives grinned at the death grimace they fondly imagined to be on the face of Scottish state that just a few short months later that the sands of Union would still be tumbling through the hourglass. That rattle we heard wasn’t the jewellery of the Lords as the celebrated their continuing rule over us, it was the death rattle of Union. It’s rattling still.

All of Scottish politics revolves around the independence question. Even the European referendum is viewed through the prism of the independence debate. In an interview on Tuesday with Channel 4, businessman Tom Hunter asked how it was that Nicola Sturgeon could be so opposed to the Union of Parliaments, but so in favour of the European Union. He couldn’t understand it, he said, expressing the wish that someone would put the question to her. It’s a question, or rather a non-question, that supporters of Brexit frequently ask. Not that I’m suggesting Tom Hunter supports a Brexit. I have no idea which way he’s going to vote in June, and to be honest I don’t really care. I’m sure he has an equal lack of interest in how I’m going to vote, which is fair enough.

However the question is most often associated with those who seek an exit from the EU, people whose prime representative in Scotland is David Coburn, and no one is going to confuse him with a deep thinker. It’s perfectly consistent to be opposed to the Union of Parliaments but in favour of the European Union, because the only thing that the two have in common is the word union. Comparing the two is like wondering why someone want to get as far away as they possibly can from an abusive control freak of a partner but they insist on retaining membership of the bingo club and the gym.

The European Union doesn’t set Scotland’s budget. It doesn’t get to tell us how much the Scottish government will have to spend in any given year. Westminster does that. Westminster might have grudging conceded a few tax powers to Scotland, but they still control the purse strings. That’s true despite Huw Edwards’ dubious assertion on Tuesday’s BBC news that the Scottish Parliament is the most devolved legislature in the world.

Strictly speaking, what Huw said is true. Scotland has the most devolved legislature in the world. But then since the entire concept of devolution exists only within the UK, that’s really not saying much. You could just as easily say that Scotland has the most George Foulkesiest and Michael Forsythiest legislature in the world since the pair of them sit in the Lords and still lord it over us. So as a statement of Scottish constitutional strength it is equally true, and equally informative, and certainly considerably more embarrassing. Although, come to think of it, it also explains a great deal about how Scotland is habitually screwed over by Westminster. You won’t find Huw telling you that on the 6 O’Clock News though. I’d rather have the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels than the unelected embarrassments of the Lords.

Saying that Scotland has the most devolved legislature in the world is certainly not the same as saying that Scotland has the most powerful legislature short of independence of anywhere in the world. That’s certainly what Huw was trying to imply. It’s certainly what Scotland’s Unionist establishment would like us to believe. It’s also not true. To pick one example almost at random, Greenland’s legislature has far more control and power than Scotland’s, and there’s only 57,000 Greenlanders. Presumably Inuit people are genetically programmed to self-government. Must be all the fish in their diet. The 5,300,000 inhabitants of Scotland have barely more self-government than a Danish municipality.

But back to Europe. The European Union doesn’t regulate Scotland’s broadcasting. It doesn’t fill our televisions with nauseating hours of sycophantic coverage of how Jean-Claude Juncker loves horses and wildlife even when he’s blowing it to buggery with a twin bore rifle. We have the Westminster controlled BBC and the British royal family for that. Huw knows a lot about that, since he’s one of the main voices of royalist and monarchist sychophancy polluting our airwaves. Honestly BBC, if I wanted to know all about Harry and Will visiting the set of Star Wars or the Queen’s love of horses there’s a very easy way you could tell. I would just have a lobotomy and sit gibbering in my own drool.

The EU doesn’t tell Scotland that we must invade some far away country that most people would struggle to find on a map. It doesn’t tell us that we must have weapons of mass destruction capable of evaporating the entire country based down the road from our largest population centre. Westminster does that. Westminster loves going to war. Punching above our weight, they’re pleased to call it. They like their wars in far away places. It lets them feel important. It’s the viagra for an impotent ex-empire.

This week the Labour party in Scotland have announced, in a piece of window dressing that makes bugger all of a difference, that they’re opposed to the renewal of Trident. That’s all very well and good, but as long as the Labour party in Scotland insists that Scotland must be subject to the Westminster Parliament then they are telling us that Scotland cannot have an opinion on whether we want nuclear obscenities based in our country. Westminster will decide, and Labour’s protests will be token. Then they’ll tug their forelocks and knuckle down. There’s only one way to get rid of Trident for good, and it’s with independence. In or out of the EU, with the UK we’re stuck with it.

The biggest difference is that we can still hope that the EU can be reformed to make it accountable, to make it work in the interests of ordinary working people and not as an instrument of the elites. There is no hope of reforming the British state.

If Scotland was independent we’d have our own voice in Brussels. Right now we have no voice at all. Scotland is represented at a European level by Davie Cameron, and he understands Scotland even less well than Huw Edwards. In just over five weeks we’ll find out whether the UK is going to remain a part of the EU or it’s going to leave. One thing is certain though, whichever way the rest of the UK votes, Scotland is going to remain a part of the EU. The only thing that the EU referendum is going to tell is just how much sand is left in the UK’s Scottish hourglass.


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.

The empty cereal bowl

The SNP have not ruled out calling another independence referendum if there is a material change in circumstances. The Tories, and Ruth Davidson in particular, are really upset by this, since they’re fighting their entire Holyrood campaign on the platform of blocking another referendum. It’s the political version of comfort food for them, a nice bowl of cereal, because it means that they can avoid any focus on the spectacularly unpleasant policies of the Conservative government in Westminster.

Ruth Davidson thinks that calling another independence referendum would be beneath Nicola Sturgeon. It seems that the only thing that’s beneath Ruthie is a tank, because she’s certainly not above firing a shell into the Scottish electorate if it suits her purpose. Ruth is fighting this campaign by firing off a fusilade of demands that the No voting majority of the last referendum be respected. The reason that Ruth is so vehement in her insistance that this majority be respected is because deep down in her blaggard Tory soul she knows that it’s a majority which is evaporating. The vehemence of the Unionist insistence that there must never be another independence referendum is a form of over-compensation. They’re on the wrong side of history, and they know it.

Since Ruthie struggles with difficult concepts like democracy, let’s try to explain it in simple terms that even the inhabitants of a fish tank, never mind the mobile armoured gun kind, could grasp.

Nicola Sturgeon isn’t going to call another independence referendum until such time that there’s a material change of circumstances. We can debate until the tanks run out of diesel what a material change of circumstances would consist of. There are any number of potenital scenarios. There’s a Brexit against the will of the Scottish people, dragged out of the EU even though we vote to remain because voters in the rest of the UK want to leave. There’s the renewal of Trident even though Scotland’s representatives are almost universally opposed and we get a fresh batch of nuclear obscenities on the Clyde, just down the road from Scotland’s largest population centre. There’s the complete and utter failure of the Unionist parties to deliver on all the devo-goodness which they swore blind they were going to deliver the last time their collective arses were on the referendum line. There’s the complete and utter annihilation of the Labour party, there’s Wullie Rennie saying something dumb, or there’s Ruthie’s tank stalling. Mind you all those things happen pretty much on a daily basis in Scottish politics. The truth is it doesn’t really matter. There’s only one trigger that really counts.

Ruthie’s position is similar to arguing that when an election is held we must respect the outcome of the previous election. No doubt come 2020, if (gods forbid) Scotland is still a part of the UK, Ruthie will be arguing that the result of the 2015 election must be respected so Scotland should only have the one Tory MP. She can waffle on about the once in a generation stuff all she likes, but that’s not a promise that I signed up to. Dunno about Ruthie, who allegedly was privy to all those ballots before they were counted, but I don’t recall voting Yes in the referendum to the question, “Should Scotland become an independent country and should this question not be asked again in your lifetime?”

Ruth and the Tories, as I’ve pointed out before, demand that Alicsammin’s personal opinion be treated like a guarantee engraved in stone and handed down by God on Mount Sinai, whereas the promises of the Unionist parties are mere serving suggestions that they can interpret to suit themselves. If the Tories are demanding that the Yes campaign is held to the Conservatives’ interpretation of Alicsammin’s comments, then it’s only fair that the Unionists are held to the Yes campaign’s interpretation of Gordie Broon’s vow. That even came with faux parchment, which is more than can be said of Alicsammin’s remarks. Ruth doesn’t even think it matters if a key guarantee of the Better Together campaign, that Scotland’s EU membership would only be safe if we voted against independence, is left smashed and broken in the dust of a Brexit. It’s only Yes campaign serving suggestions that are the word of God.

This is a democracy, or at least it claims to be, and that means people are allowed to change their minds. The only change of circumstances that’s important is the change of circumstances that means there will only be another independence referendum when the guys with the white hats, that’s the Yes side in case you were wondering, are going to win it. When enough people have changed their minds, in other words. And that in turn means that there will only be another independence referendum when there’s a majority of Scottish voters supporting independence. Now, if there is a majority of Scottish voters who support independence, as there will be when another independence referendum is called, then there is no No voting majority left to respect. Got it Ruthie? Probably not.

Ruthie insists that this policy is cynical. Coming from a Tory that’s high praise as cynicism is what passes for ideology if you’re a Tory. Admittedly Tory cynicism is of the self-aggrandising variety, the kind that pisses all over the weak and the marginalised and the poor in order to benefit the rich and well connected. However it would appear that Ruthie is a bit miffed that the Scottish electorate might take a leaf out of the Tory playbook and indulge in a spot of cynicism of our own. The only meaningful response that we can give to Ruthie in this instance is “suck it up Tank girl.”

Scotland is going to have another independence referendum, sooner or later. And there’s not a tank girl in the world who’s going to be able to prevent it. Scotland is going to become an independent nation, and it will do so thanks to the inadequacies of the Unionist establishment. Their cereal bowl is almost empty.


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.

Anti-social media

There’s been a fair bit of hoo-ha-ery on social media of late, at least so I’m told. Having recently decided that I’m far too anti-social for social media, or perhaps social media is far too anti-social for me, I’ve given up on Twitter and Facebook so am blythely ignorant of all the fighting. As an independence supporter you get used to nasty snash from the more frothing mouthed unionists, but when you have to wade through tweets telling you that they hope you stop breathing, you start to wonder where it’s time to smother your Twitter account. Then when you then start to get attacked by people you had fondly assumed were working towards the same goal that you were, logging on to social media produces the same kind of sensation that you get when turning over a rock in order to count the nasty wee beasties lurking underneath. I’d rather use my time more productively.

While I was reading up on Roman Britain as part of the research for a novel I’m planning to write, there was one almighty shit-fest on social media. The latest spat was sparked off by an article in the Sunday Herald, one of Scotland’s two pro-independence newspapers, wading into the second vote argument with all the finesse of a brain damaged elephant on crack. Personally I thought that the article was, to put it kindly, ill-advised and the argument it made didn’t stand up to closer scrutiny. Be that as it may, the thrust of the article was about how to maximise the pro-independence representation in the next Scottish parliament. The argument it made may have been more flawed than Jackie Baillie’s arithmetic, more specious than Daisley’s snarky grievance hunting, or more inane then Graph Boy’s comments on linguistic science, but it was essentially a contribution to the on-going debate about how best to achieve a pro-independence majority in the next Scottish parliament. It wasn’t an attempt to destroy the independence movement.

What the Sunday Herald’s article most certainly was not, was evidence of that Scotland’s pro-independence newspapers are part of a Unionist plot to undermine the cause of independence from within. Some people need to get a grip. Editors of newspapers make decisions about how best to further the interests of their newspaper, the audience it seeks to reach, and the causes it espouses, and sometimes they don’t always get it right. That doesn’t make every article that you disagree with part of an evil yoon conspiracy.

Ah, you might say, you would say that, what with you being a regular contributor to the National, the other pro-independence newspaper in the Newsquest stable. What I can tell you is that in the year that I’ve been writing for the National, they have never told me what I can or cannot write about, they have never censored me or silenced me. They did ask that I refrain from using swerry words and tone down the lower bodily function references, what with them being a family publication, and that’s fair enough. But they’ve never tried to alter, shape, or subvert any political message that I want to get across, and I know that is also the case with the other pro-independence commentators who contribute to the paper.

The National and the Sunday Herald are valuable additions to the armoury of the independence cause, and without them we’d all be a lot worse off. They give independence voices a platform and a reach that we’d otherwise not have and by doing so they force the Unionist mainstream to pay attention. I remember the early days of Newsnet Scotland, it was easy then for the Unionist mainstream to marginalise and ignore pro-independence voices. It’s far harder for them to do that now. The ever increasing howling of the yoons is precisely because the independence cause is getting heard and getting its message out, and in part that is due to having mainstream publications in the traditional print media on our side.

More than that however, by providing a regular source of income the National and the Sunday Herald allow independence voices like me to keep doing what we do. Blogging doesn’t pay well, it doesn’t pay regularly, and it doesn’t pay a guaranteed income. I’m immensely grateful to all the people who press the donate button at the end of each article on this blog, but it doesn’t provide me with a guaranteed income. Writing for the National does. Writing for the National allows me to continue writing this blog because I know that I’m earning enough to cover my basic living expenses. Otherwise I’d have to seek alternative employment. The only people that would make happy are my legion of critics on Twitter, the ones who wish that I, and the rest of the independence campaign, would stop breathing.

The bottom line is, if you want a pro-independence media in Scotland, you have to pay for it, and you have to accept that it’s going to be flawed and it’s going to make mistakes. It’s not always going to say things that we all agree with, it’s not always going to get it right. We’re all only human, none of us is perfect. Except of course the dug, who’s canine not human, and he’s quite content with a chew bone.

If independence supporters want something meaty to chew on, they’re going to have to pay for it. I’m happy for people to consume my words for free, but I still have to eat and pay the electric bill. The same goes for every other pro-independence blogger, campaigner, and activist. The National is what allows me to keep blogging. I like blogging, and I don’t want to have to get a proper job.

If the National and the Sunday Herald are part of a Unionist conspiracy to undermine the cause of independence, they’re really not very good at it. The publications are helping to keep the cause of independence firmly in the centre of Scottish politics and public life. Silencing them only silences the cause of independence, and the only beneficiaries are the Unionist parties, the Westminster establishment, and their media friends.

Let’s leave the craziness to the howling yoons, where it properly belongs.


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.

Floaters and fish food

Having given up on any prospect of Scotland coming home to Labour, because Scotland has long since realised that Labour isnae wur maw, the Unionist media is now bigging up Ruthie. Can Ruth Davidson really bring about a Conservative poll revival in Scotland? screams a headline in the Observer newspaper today. The short answer is of course no. The longer answer is a meditation on the propitious decline of the cause of Union in Scotland, which has plunged so deep into the abyss of irrelevance that the Unionist media is pinning its hopes on the tank girl of the toxic Tories. There’s not been such a desperate campaign of hype since Simon Cowell tried to persuade us that trousers with the waistband halfway up your chest were actually fashionable. No, Ruth Davidson isn’t going to bring about a Conservative poll revival in Scotland, and neither, despite its best efforts, is the Unionist media.

As I’ve said before but which bears repetition, if only from a delicious sense of Schadenfreude, the Tories are reviving in the same way that a haulf drowned person doing the doggy paddle with the aid of inflatable arm bands is on course to win an Olympic gold swimming medal. The only reason that they still seem to be in any sort of contention is because the Labour party has already been tied up, given concrete shoes, and tossed in the deep end by a thoroughly pissed off electorate.

It’s not difficult to look like a competent navigator of the waters of Scottish politics when your Unionist competitors are stuck in the ooze and feeding the fishes, but while the desperate Unionist spin is that the battleship Ruthie is cruising to save the Union, the vast majority of Scotland looks upon what’s left of the Tories and sees nothing more than a persistent wee floater that refuses to flush. Floaters or fish food, that’s what the Unionist media is pinning its hopes on. There’s as much of a chance of Ruthie bringing about a Conservative poll revival as there is of Michael Forsyth admitting that his continuing influence in Scottish politics is a repugnant affront to democracy.

This time two years ago it was Alistair Darling and Gordie Broon, saving the Union from the evil separatists and casting the demon Alicsammin out into the wilderness for ever. This time last year the great hope for a Unionist revival was Jim Murphy and his Scotland fitba strip, fundimundily swearing blind that he was gobsmacked at just how easy it was to wrong-step the SNP.

There’s always a great saviour, and the saviour always gets savaged even though the expectations placed upon them by the increasingly despondent media get more and more reduced each time. Broon was going to save the UK and kill nationalism stone dead. Murphy was going to save the Labour party and halt the progress of the SNP. All that Ruthie’s going to do is to have half a chance of sliding into second place. This time next year it will be the local authority elections, and the media will solemnly inform us that next year’s great hope to save the Unionist cause will do so by managing to form a coalition with the Lib Dems in Clackmannan.

This year’s great saviour of the Union sided with George Osborne and the UK Treasury during the financial negotiations underpinning the Scotland Bill. That’s the George Osborne and the UK Treasury which tried to saddle Scotland with cuts of £7 billion and claimed that this meant no detriment. This year’s great saviour of the Union wants to impose prescription charges and student fees. This year’s great saviour of the Union claims that there’s no real difference between Scotland and England and wants to prove that by imposing the same policies on Scotland that have wrought havoc in England. Because the English NHS is such a model to aspire to, and saddling students with even more debt is the key to a fairer society.

Ruthie wants to secure the Union by stamping out any difference between Scotland and England, and by denying the people of Scotland the democratic right to another referendum even if we vote for one, and even if the key promises of the Better Together campaign lie as shattered and broken as Jim Murphy’s leadership hopes. Just eight months ago she was saying the opposite, that if the people of Scotland vote for a second referendum then we will have a second referendum. But now she’s hoping to hoover up the crumbs of the die hard Unionist vote, the people who would rather cast the poor, the disabled and the low paid to the wolves than concede that Scotland has a right to democracy. It’s only the independence campaign that Ruth demands is held to account. Westminster gets a free pass, and it’s Westminster which is punishing the poor to reward the rich. There is no Scottish exceptionalism in Ruthie’s world, only the exceptionalism of a sclerotic British state.

I seem to recall that during the last Westminster elections the media was assuring us, when they weren’t playing keepie up with Jim, that there was going to be a revival in the fortunes of the Tories in Scotland. They ended up crashing to the worst result in their history, achieving a mere 14.8% of the vote. But since they narrowly escaped total annihilation, and were merely pandaficated instead, the media was able to keep its tank girl fantasies alive. They were aided in this by the spectacular fall of Labour, which took attention away from just how poorly the Tories had performed.

Labour is still falling, the Tories are keeping themselves afloat by appealing to the hard core Unionists, and both demonstrate that Scottish politics is continuing to diverge from politics south of the border. Politically we are very different countries, and Scotland is continuing to forge its own way. The ties that bind us to the Westminster parliament are growing ever more frayed, and there’s no saviour of the Union who is going to restore them. The Tories might float, but the Union, like Labour, is destined for fish food.


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.

Bella Caledonia, a brief response

You probably know that last weekend Derek Bateman and I were the subjects of an article by Mike Small in Bella Caledonia. Mike attacked us for failing, in his eyes, to show sufficient criticism of the Scottish Government and the SNP. I felt that Mike’s article was unfriendly, unconstructive, unhelpful, and represented a fundamental misunderstanding of my position. I expect such attacks from Unionists, for it to come from another independence supporter was unwelcome, to say the least.

I wasn’t going to reply to the Bella Caledonia piece, but in the light of yesterday’s understandably vituperative rejoiner from Derek Bateman on his blog, I feel the need to make a brief comment.

Since the indyref I have made no secret of the fact that my targets are Scotland’s Unionist establishment and the Westminster parliament. The reason I do not criticise the policies of the Scottish Government or the SNP is the exact same reason that I do not criticise the policies of RISE or the Greens. Scotland’s online media operates in an environment in which we are heavily out-gunned by the Unionist mainstream in terms of resources, access, and public penetration. There is no level playing field, and I am not in the business of supplying Scotland’s one-sided Unionist media with ammunition.

When an independence supporter mounts a public attack upon another independence supporter, the only winners are the Unionist parties and their media friends. Unionist media outlets are all over such disagreements like a wet rash, and all of a sudden become surprisingly keen to offer a platform to the independence supporter making the criticisms. The Unionist media doesn’t do so because it wants to promote a more radical Scottish politics.  It does so because it sees a chance to weaken the cause of independence.

If Mike Small chooses to go down that road, he can do so without any assistance from me.  That is a ‘debate’ that he can have without me, and I will not be engaging with him further.


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.

Getting out of the cage

The Scottish elections are almost upon us, three weeks from today we will know the composition of the new Scottish parliament. And it’s vital that the new parliament has an SNP majority. It’s the only way that we can be certain that when the time is right, Scotland will embark upon a second independence referendum. I was going to say campaign, but that wouldn’t be right, because the independence campaign has never ceased. The reality is that the only way to ensure that it doesn’t cease, that the momentum keeps going, is for us to return another majority SNP government.

If we wake up in three weeks time to discover that the SNP has lost its majority, then the only story in our Unionist dominated press will be that Scotland has fallen out with the idea of independence and the wheels have come off the indy bandwagon. They’ll tell us that Scotland has declared its love for the Union, that we’ve got back into the shortbread tin and into the embrace of Westminster. The prospect of another referendum will become as elusive as an episode of BBC 2’s Scotland 2016 programme that anyone wants to watch. The media narrative will be that Scottish nationalism has lost the election, and that’s what they’ll be saying even if there’s still a majority of pro-independence MSPs.

While I have a certain sympathy for those who argue that the best result is a minority SNP government which attains a majority with other pro-independence parties on its left, all the better to hold the SNP to account, the risks involved in achieving that outcome are greater than the benefits that it brings. Gaming the Scottish parliamentary elections with tactical voting runs the very real risk of allowing Unionist parties to get in by default, because it is by no means certain that your preferred party is going to benefit from your vote. We could discover that instead of producing a parliament with a strong and diverse pro-independence majority, that we’ve just allowed the Anas Sarwars and the David Coburns to crawl in through the cracks in the independence front. And if that happened we’d only have ourselves to blame for it.

This is what happened during the last European elections when like many people I believed that the Greens were better placed than the SNP to pick up the sixth seat, so I voted Green. The result was that the independence vote was split between the SNP and the Greens and UKIP slipped in through the gap, much to the delight of Unionists of all hues who were keen to point out that the entrance of David Coburn into Scottish politics meants that Scotland wasn’t so different from England politically. Oh look, we have our odious right wingers too. We’re just like the rest of the UK and there’s no justification for independence.

Gaming the d’Hondt system of voting which is used in Scottish parliamentary elections is even more fraught with difficulty than the system used in the European elections. You could give your second vote to a minor party only to discover that Labour or, gods forbid, the Tories or UKIP have slipped through the gap and you’ve helped to return another Unionist MSP. It’s a system which was designed to produce minority governments. It was set up by Labour in cahoots with the Lib Dems in order to ensure that Scotland would forever and a day be governed by a Labour-Lib Dem coalition. The Lib Dems were always the enablers of Unionism, the prop to whichever Unionist big boy could shower them with shiny beads, mirrors, and ministerial motors.

But in 2011 the SNP broke the system and got a majority government. We’ve become so used to that majority that we risk taking it for granted. That’s dangerously complacent. We don’t currently have a second pro-independence party which has sufficiently concentrated support to take over the role of the Lib Dems as a reliable junior partner to a large SNP. The closest to that is the Greens, but their support is spread too thin. The harsh reality is that if the SNP loses its majority in two weeks time, the cause of independence is lost with it. Then the referendum really will have been a once in a generation event. We have to make sure that doen’t happen, that the flame of hope stays burning bright.

You can argue that the job of the Scottish movement is to make conditions more comfortable within the cage of Union, or you can argue that the priority is to get out of the cage. I believe that the job of the independence movement is to get Scotland out of the cage, not to make the cage more comfortable. After all, if the cage is more comfortable then more people will be happy remaining in the cage. That doesn’t help anyone in the longer term, except for the Unionist parties and the Westminster system.

Once we’ve broken free of the cage, then all bets are off, all previous positions change. There will be a radical realignment of Scottish politics. No existing political party will survive in its current form, and that is as true for the SNP and the other pro-independence parties as it is for the parties that currently support the Union.

It’s in the aftermath of an independence vote that Scotland will have its best chance of rediscovering its radical soul. But we’re not there yet. We’re still locked in the cage. We’re still constrained by the Union. Too many Scots are still hobbled by fear and uncertainty, still shackled to the Westminster devil we know. The priority, the only priority, must be to break those chains, to smash the padlock on the cage, and to escape out into the light of a land that we can govern and define for ourselves.

I want out of the cage, and I’m not going to be distracted by anything that risks keeping us in the cage a minute longer than is necessary. The SNP, with all their faults and limitations, hold the key out of the cage. That is the fundamental reality of Scottish politics in 2016, and that is why we need an SNP majority government in three weeks time.


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.