Creating a country that is fit for a dignified people

Yesterday I had the pleasure of addressing the crowd at a massive pro-independence rally in George Square in Glasgow. I’ve spoken to small audiences before, but never had to speak in front of thousands of people in the very heart of Glasgow. It was an experience I’ll never forget. It was a fantastic day, meeting friends and fellow campaigners, and the dug posed happily for photies in return for lots of dog treats. He had a ball, but then that animal works a crowd like a pro. During and after the rally there were far more pics tweeted of the dug than of me, so now my shoes and legs are far more famous than I am. Mind you, he did also mistake a marcher for a lamppost, much to my mortification. Sorry about that unwanted souvenir!

Well over 5000 women, men, children and dugs marched from Botanic Gardens down to join the more than 1000 already in the Square in order to show that despite the claims of the Unionist parties and press that there is an appetite for another independence referendum. There’s not just an appetite, there’s the ravenous hunger of a dignified people starved of dignity.

We are hungry because we’ve been fed a diet of lies by Westminster since the referendum of 2014. There’s no substance in a lie, no nourishment. Lies don’t sustain jobs, they don’t create the home rule that Scotland was promised. The Better Together campaign had a two pronged strategy to win the 2014 referendum for the Union, they threatened us with Project Fear, and they promised sweeties with the Vow.

Yet one by one all the promises and commitments that they made have turned out to be false. They told us that Scotland would get the most powerful devolved parliament in the world, and we got English votes for English laws and powers over road signs and some tinkering around the edges of the income tax system and the social security system that the Scottish secretary openly boasted was a trap for the Scottish Government. The Unionist parties don’t want to respond to the demand from Scotland for greater Scottish home-rule, all they want to do is keep on playing their party political games. They can’t help themselves.

They won by promising jobs would be safe if we voted No, but the jobs went anyway. They won by promising that Scotland would be a respected and valued leader within the UK whose voice would count, yet they’re imposing Trident on us even though all but one of Scotland’s MPs voted against its renewal. This is the same government whose Prime Minister when she was Home Secretary said that the possibility of Scotland’s MPs having any input into the UK government would be the biggest crisis since the abdication, but she’s quite happy to impose weapons of mass destruction on a Scotland which has overwhelmingly rejected them. That’s not respect, that’s arrogance.

They won by promising that our EU membership could only be safe if we remained in the UK, and now we’re being taken out anyway even though Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a much larger margin that it voted to remain in the UK. Brexit isn’t just for five years, it’s not like the many General Elections where Scotland doesn’t get the result it voted for but will have a chance to revisit the question in five years time. Brexit it forever. Brexit isn’t just a life sentence for Scotland, condemning us to a cold dark Tory future, cut off from the rest of the world in a xenophobic inward looking nationalist and right wing UK, it conemns our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations to the same despair.

They won by telling pensioners that it was only by remaining a part of the UK that their pensions could be safe, but just today the news came out that the Tory government is considering abolishing the so-called triple lock protecting state pensions. The UK can afford to spend over £200 billion on Trident, it can spend over £50 billion on a railway line from London to Birmingham, but it can’t afford to protect state pensions.

The next time there’s a referendum, and there will be a next time, all that the Yes campaign is going to have to do to counter any promises made by the Unionists is to retort “but you said that the last time and it turned out to be a lie.”

Yesterday’s march wasn’t organised by the SNP, by RISE, the Greens, or Solidarity. It was organised by a coalition of Yes groups which have kept going since the depressing days of late September 2014 and have been reorganising themselves over the past few months. The rally was a demonstration that a second independence campaign will not belong to the Scottish Government, it will not be Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum, it will belong to the people of Scotland.

Some on the snider side of the independence movement criticised the rally for its flag waving, although if one of them would like to suggest a symbol other than a Scottish flag that represents the entirety of the Scottish nation and everyone who lives in this country then I’m sure we’d be all ears. Scottish flags at independence demonstrations are not about triumphalism, they’re not a statement that Scotland is better than any other country. They’re simply a statement that Scotland is as good as any other country, that Scotland can aspire to normality, and that Scotland is, in fact, a country which has the right to determine its own future.

“No one is converted from No to Yes by waving a flag,” they said. And this would be true. It also misses the point. The point of yesterday’s rally was not to convert former No voters, it was to enthuse and engage existing Yes voters, to demonstrate that the Yes movement remains live, vital, and energetic. It was about giving Yes campaigners the energy, and excitement that we’re all going to need in order to campaign over the months ahead. And it succeeded in doing so in style.

Now the hard work begins. All across Scotland we need to get ourselves organised, we need to spread the message in our local communities. A better Scotland is possible. We have two choices in this country, we can sit back passively and hope that those Westminster masters who have betrayed us and lied to us on more occasions than it’s possible to count will actually come through for us one day. We can sit in the hopeless pit of Westminster despair while wringing our hands and complaining about the evil Tories, or we can do something about it. We can take our own future into our own hands. If we want a better Scotland we need to do it for ourselves. And we have the talents, we have the skills, we have the enthusiasm and the energy. We have what it takes to make Scotland a country that is fit for a dignified people. We can do this. And we will.

Audio version of this blog, courtesy of @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/creating-a-country-that-is-fit-for-a-dignified-people-wgd-31st-july-2016


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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frontcovervol3I’m now taking advance orders for Volumes 3 and 4 of the Collected Yaps. For the special price of £21 for both volumes plus £4 P&P you can get signed copies of the new books if you order before publication, scheduled for mid-July. Covering the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum until the Yes campaign’s destruction of the Labour party in the 2015 General Election, it’s a snarling chronicle of Scottish history.

To reserve your copies, just send an email to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name and your postal address and how many copies you wish to order. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P.


Signed copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 and 2 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 the pair plus P&P. Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

The BBC, Scotland’s public self-serving broadcaster

Yesterday we witnessed another article appearing in the mainstream media to tell people who are not fairly represented in the mainstream media to stop complaining that they’re not fairly represented in the mainstream media, because the mainstream media is quite properly doing its job of not fairly representing people outside the media mainstream. And can I get a guest slot on Scotland 2016 now please?

The article was of course a defence of the BBC against the criticisms of independence supporters that our public service broadcaster isn’t properly serving the public of Scotland. 50 years ago there were many British institutions, the great nationalised companies such as British Coal, British Steel, British Rail, and British Telecom, but one by one they were broken up and sold off into private hands. It shouldn’t be a great surprise to anyone that as the institutions and organisations that belonged to the people of Britain as a whole were sold off and broken up by the British establishment that a sense of Britishness and a British identity has grown weaker. Now the apart from the UK parliament itself, the only remaining British institutions are the monarchy, the armed forces, and the BBC.

I’m sure that somewhere in a philosophy class someone will be asking whether it’s possible for an organisation whose goal and aim is foster a sense of a British identity and present it to the world can accurately represent the large segment of the Scottish population which doesn’t want to be a part of the British state. It’s all the more difficult to achieve when the organisation in question is the last civil institution self-consciously maintaining a British identity in an increasingly diverse UK. Asking whether the BBC can fairly represent the Scottish independence movement is a bit like asking whether a religious publication can fairly represent a group which its religion considers to be heretics, and indeed if you look at some coverage of the independence campaign on the BBC you could be forgiven for believing that we sacrifice chickens to the god Alicsammin.

Because the viewpoint of the BBC is that Britishness is the established norm, and independence is the deviation from that norm, the BBC is unable to distinguish between the mainstream independence movement, and fringe groups. This results in the spectacle of the BBC sending a reporter to sit in on a court case involving the antics of a small group of protesters in an independence camp outside Holyrood, and the episode occupying a significant proportion of an episode of Reporting Scotland. It was an invitation from the BBC for us all to ridicule the independence movement as a whole. The BBC would never conflate the fringe activities of pro-Unionist groups like those behind the violence that erupted in George Square in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum vote with mainstream Unionism, yet it regularly conflates fringe nationalism with mainstream Scottish nationalism. The reason it does so is because the BBC starts off from a British perspective.

The media in general in this country is overwhelmingly biased against the Scottish independence movement. It’s also overwhelmingly biased against left wing politics as supporters of Jeremy Corbyn have been discovering. In the absence of laws demanding media diversity and subsidies for newspapers affiliated to particular parties, such as you get in some other European countries, the British media is viciously right wing and grossly unrepresentative of the political views of the population. That’s true in Scotland too, where despite having the sustained support of a good half of the population, all but one daily and one Sunday newspaper in Scotland are opposed to independence. Lacking its own investigative reporting, the BBC typically follows the agenda of the print media, compounding the sense that the organisation is also biased.

This means that certain stories are likely to be chosen as newsworthy, whereas other stories are not given the same prominence or are overlooked entirely. A good recent example of this is the supposed Spanish veto threat against an independent Scotland which is constantly a feature of reports in the Unionist media about Scotland’s potential accession to the EU as an independent state. Last week, as reported in this blog and in my column in the National, there was a major new development when the Spanish foreign minister stated that he expects Scotland to become independent within a few years and put a second indyref into the context of a UK being dragged out of the EU under the influence of the political extremists of UKIP. There was no whiff or suggestion of any Spanish veto. Yet there was silence from the Unionist media and likewise from the BBC. It was a perfect example of bias by omission.

Bias isn’t a conspiracy. It’s not a group of men and women in business suits sitting in a room and plotting, then sending down secret instructions from on high. Bias is a point of view, a perspective. Bias is subjectivity and as such we are all biased. Bias in an institution like the BBC is knowing what stories your bosses are going to prefer, and working accordingly. It means ignoring other stories that they won’t like so much. If the BBC reporter has a choice between a story praising the royals and a story attacking them, it doesn’t take a genius to know which of the two that management is going to prefer.

The difference is that the BBC has a legal obligation to be neutral, and we all have to pay for it. It’s one thing to thole the bias of the print media, but we are not obliged to pay an annual tax with threats of criminal prosecution in order to financially support it. That’s why the perceived bias of the BBC sticks in the craw in a way that newspaper bias, or even bias from the other broadcasters, does not. If you don’t like the bias of the Daily Record, you don’t buy the Daily Record. Not buying the Daily Record does not bring with it the threat of criminal prosecution. Not paying for the BBC does.

All this occurs in the context of a BBC which fails to serve Scotland across the board, not merely failing to represent the breadth of Scottish political views. Scotland contributes over £300 million a year in licence fees, but only a small fraction of that is returned to Scotland for Scottish programming, and the proportion spent on Scottish programming has been declining in recent years. This is despite the fact that Scotland has its own parliament, its own legal system, its own educational system, and its own distinctive political traditions, its own language and culture. None of these are fairly represented in a BBC which is more concerned with portraying a fictive Britishness which is increasingly seen by Scots as an imposition.

The Unionist establishment continually tells us that Scotland has the most powerful devolved parliament in the world, but Scotland remains without a public service broadcaster of its own. The reason for that is because the British state intends to use the BBC as a means to shore up its crumbling rule in Scotland. The Scottish independence movement is not only justified in its criticisms of the BBC, it is imperative that we continue to keep making them and holding our public self-serving broadcaster to account.

Audio link to this blog post, courtesy of @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/scotlands-public-self-serving-broadcaster-wee-ginger-dug


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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frontcovervol3I’m now taking advance orders for Volumes 3 and 4 of the Collected Yaps. For the special price of £21 for both volumes plus £4 P&P you can get signed copies of the new books if you order before publication, scheduled for mid-July. Covering the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum until the Yes campaign’s destruction of the Labour party in the 2015 General Election, it’s a snarling chronicle of Scottish history.

To reserve your copies, just send an email to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name and your postal address and how many copies you wish to order. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P.


Signed copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 and 2 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 the pair plus P&P. Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Labour’s suicide pact

Every time you think that the Labour party in Scotland might just possibly see that there’s a glimmer of a path to redemption, it ties a red white and blue flag over its eyes as a blindfold and preaches to Scotland about solidarity with people who never manage to demonstrate any solidarity with Scotland. Which would be bad enough, but the only solidarity that Labour in Scotland actually demonstrates itself is solidarity with the Conservatives. Despite the fact that Labour’s solidarity with the Tories in the Better Together campaign resulted in the near destruction on the party and the annihilation of its Westminster contingent, they’re about to repeat the same trick in a future independence referendum. As a party Labour has become addicted to self-harm.

During the last independence referendum, Labour vilified those of its supporters and members who came out in favour of independence. Labour for Independence was publicly accused of being an SNP front organisation despite being set up and run by long standing Labour members who had no connection with the SNP. The smears of the party hierarchy were repeated in the media, and Labour for Independence was given no chance to defend itself. After the referendum, it was made very clear to those independence supporting members by the triumphalist Unionists that there was no place in the Labour party for them. Now there’s the prospect of another independence referendum, and Labour is repeating the same narrow minded mistake.

Kezia Dugdale has been on a course in the USA over the past few weeks, where she seemingly learned that it is in fact possible for her party to make its impossibly bad situation even worse. Returning from her trip, she’s tripped into the Brexit debate with a trippy intervention. Whereas the Scottish government wants to explore all the possible options which allow Scotland to maintain its EU membership, Labour has already decided to rule out the option which has the best chance of securing it. Brexit, says Kezia, is not a reason for independence.

Mind you, Labour, or at least the part of it that Kezia represents, doesn’t think anything at all is a reason for independence. Kezia wants Scotland to snap on the dog collar and be dragged out of the EU against our will with Westminster holding the leash, because solidarity, and because reasons, and because isn’t Owen Smith a great leadership candidate. Although in this analogy it’s Westminster which is the bad puppy who craps on Scotland’s pavement, and Scotland who has to live with the mess. Yet again, Labour in Scotland shows itself to be not a party of Scotland, not a party of defending Scottish interests, but a party which wants to complain on the sidelines about the SNP while allowing the Tories to get on with the business of destroying working class opposition to their rule.

After all, says Kezia, not everyone in Scotland voted to remain in the EU, showing an amazing degree of concern for the rights of a minority which Labour failed to show to the far larger minority which voted for independence in 2014. Some minorities are more important than others, and the minorities that permit a veneer of justification for the maintenance of Westminster rule are the most important minorities of all. In fact they’re so important that they’re even more important than the majority.

Interestingly this major new policy announcement wasn’t made by Kezia along with her deputy leader Alex Rowley. It was made by Kezia alongside Jackie Baillie. That’s the Jackie Baillie who supports Trident renewal on the basis that it creates a bazillion jobs in the Helensburgh area. According to Jackie, Trident isn’t really a weapon of mass destruction, it’s a means of ensuring that there are more jobs in Helensburgh than there are people in Helensburgh. But then as far as Jackie is concerned arithmetic is one of the creative arts.

Just a short while ago the deputy leader had said that he thought that it was perfectly justified of the SNP to hold another independence referendum given the circumstances. He also said a couple of days ago that he wanted the party in Scotland to unite behind Jeremy Corbyn, and released a statement to that effect on the same day that Kezia called on Jezza to quit. Kezia’s bid to stamp down on anything independencey amongst her party colleagues is yet another instance of the infighting in the party leadership. The fighting and disputes which characterise the Westminster party are fully evident in the party in Scotland too, not that the Unionist media in Scotland has bothered to question the party leader in Scotland about them.

Effectively what the Kezia/Jackie faction of the Labour leadership in Scotland have done is to rule out any serious attempt to resist the Tory Brexit. Faced with a choice between an independent Scotland that’s a part of the EU, and a Scotland outside the EU that’s a part of the UK, they choose dependency. They choose submission. They choose to deny the majority which voted to remain a part of the EU.

Instead of resisting the Tory Brexit, Labour wants us to accept it, and demands that Scotland spends yet more of its limited budget in an attempt to ameliorate the damage that the loss of EU funding is going to cause to investment in our communities and infrastructure. Labour wants the Scottish government to use its borrowing powers to borrow the money, but when you borrow money you’ve got to pay it back with interest. Naturally they don’t say where the money to repay the loans is going to come from, but you can bet your bottom euro that if such a fund was to be established that Labour would be the first to complain about the supposed SNP cuts in other areas of the Scottish government’s expenditure that would be required in order to pay for it.

Labour does this while denying Scotland the ability to grow its own economy, because that can only be done by a Holyrood which has control over all the levers of tax and spend – in other words the parliament of an independent country.

Meanwhile we can see the dire effects on Scotland of remaining a part of this mismanaged and misbegotten Union. For all that the Unionists shriek that Scotland would be poorer than Greece if it went independent, a report issued this week shows that wages in the UK have fallen by an extent matched only by near-bankrupt Greece. The income of the richest in the UK has continued to increase at the expense of the poorest. So much for those broad shoulders. So much for pooling and sharing. So much for the best of both worlds.

This is the UK that Labour wants Scotland to remain a part of. This is a UK where the Conservatives enjoy a 16% lead in the polls, tearing apart what remains of the tattered fabric of social cohesion while Labour tears itself apart. This is a UK where the chances are that we’ll have Conservative governments for years and years to come, doing untold damage and completing the conversion of the UK into a low-wage low-rights authoritarian tax haven for the rich. And Labour’s solution to this is to squeak like a mouse and offer a sticking plaster on an amputation while blaming those who seek an escape from the mad Tory axemen and women. Scotland has no use for a Labour party that prioritises the interests of the British state above the interests of Scotland. We’ve already got such a party, they’re called the Tories. Kezia Dugdale’s announcement on ruling out an indyref is a solidarity pact with the Tories, and a suicide pact for her party.

Labour can vote for its own demise if it wants, but the rest of Scotland won’t be following suit.

Audio link to this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984, https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/labours-suicide-pact-wee-ginger-dug-27th-july-2016


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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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3I’m now taking advance orders for Volumes 3 and 4 of the Collected Yaps. For the special price of £21 for both volumes plus £4 P&P you can get signed copies of the new books if you order before publication, scheduled for mid-July. Covering the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum until the Yes campaign’s destruction of the Labour party in the 2015 General Election, it’s a snarling chronicle of Scottish history.

To reserve your copies, just send an email to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name and your postal address and how many copies you wish to order. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P.


Signed copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 and 2 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 the pair plus P&P. Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Not a threat but a promise

Nicola Sturgeon has made a statement giving the Scottish government’s response to the Brexit process. It’s a statement which reflects, only in far more diplomatic language, the response of most of Scotland to the megamidden into which the Conservative party has dumped the entire UK. And that response to the UK government was along the lines of, “You can screw yourselves if you want, you bunch of serial selfish numpties, but you’re not going to screw Scotland too.”

Since the country was dragged into this eurogalactofuck by a Conservative party which was only interested in using Britain’s EU membership as a proxy war for its own internal disputes, Britain has been led by politicians with all the clarity of vision of an actor in a Specsavers advert, but without the same hilarious consequences. Brexit means Brexit, is Theresa May’s favourite mantra, but that’s as useful as saying balloon means balloon or wibble means wibble as far as it gives us any better understanding of what’s in store for us all.

What we do know is that while her words are meaningless, May has appointed the most right wing cabinet in recent history, and some of us are old enough to remember Margaret Thatcher. So whatever Brexit means Brexit actually means in the real world, it’s not going to be good for the unemployed, the poor, the low paid, the disabled, or our public services. It’s looking very much as though Brexit means more privatisation, austerity, militarisation, climate change denial, and xenophobia.

Nicola pointedly reminded a UK government which continually goes on about respecting the result of the 2014 referendum that the democratic will of the Scottish people must be respected. You can’t on the one hand insist that the Scottish people have spoken in 2014 and then ignore what the Scottish people said in 2016. The truth is that the UK that Scotland voted to remain a part of in 2014 is a UK that doesn’t exist and never existed outside the imagination of Better Together’s spin doctors.

Scotland was promised a UK where its voice would count. We were promised a UK where shipyard and tax office jobs would be protected. We were promised a UK which would deliver the strongest possible devolution. We were promised a UK that was a part of the EU. What we got was a UK which took action to restrict the voting rights of Scottish MPs, a UK where shipyard and tax office jobs were lost, a UK which delivered a weak devolution settlement that the Scotland Secretary openly boasted was a trap for the Scottish government, and a UK that’s leaving the European Union and taking Scotland with it even though Scotland voted to remain. I’ve said it before but it’s worth constant repetition – the Unionist parties do not get to demand that the result of the 2014 referendum is respected if they do not respect the promises that they made in order to win it.

Demanding that the democratic will of the Scottish people be respected was the first finger that Nicola Sturgeon gave to Westminster. She also gave them four more. Protecting Scottish economic interests, freedom of movement, and access to the European single market. Protecting Scottish social interests, the employment and human rights that we enjoy within the EU. Protecting Scottish solidarity, our ability to work cooperatively with our European friends to combat the serious problems facing the continent and the wider world like climate change and terrorism. And protecting Scotland’s ability to have an influence in European decision making.

It’s up to the Unionist parties to demonstrate now how they can protect all five areas of Scottish interest while Scotland remains in the UK. It was the Tories who got us into this mess, and if the Tories expect us to wallow in the Brexit mud with them, then they’re going to have to demonstrate concrete plans which will allow Scotland’s interests to be protected. This is their mess, but they’ve shown not the slightest inclination to start cleaning it up, instead they’ve used it as an opportunity to mount an internal right wing coup within the party. Bugger the rest of us. We’re just expected to do what we’re told.

If Labour expects Scotland to trot along obediently then it needs to stop its infighting and start fighting the Tories and demonstrating that a better Scotland is possible within the UK, but there’s as much chance of that happening as there is of Owen Smith saying that he’s a big fan of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership abilities. And as for the Lib Dems, they need to explain why it is that they consider the 2014 referendum result to be set in stone, but they’re desperate for another EU referendum as soon as possible. But then we all know that if you look up Lib Dem in a dictionary of politics it’s defined as “lying hypocrite”.

Nicola Sturgeon and Scotland are not asking for anything new. We’re only asking for what the Conservatives and the other Unionist parties promised to deliver in 2014. We were promised economic stability, we were promised the certainty of EU membership, we were promised security and the broad supporting shoulders of the UK. Yet those shoulders are carrying us off into an uncertain and insecure future, outside of the EU, towards some right wing Tory tax haven without workers rights where state surveillance substitutes for personal security. That is not what Scotland voted for in 2014. If the Unionist parties can’t respect their own promises, then all bets are off as far as another independence referendum is concerned.

And next time, we’ll be ready, we’ll be willing, and we’ll be organised. We’re going to win the next independence referendum on a platform of respect for the democratic will of the people of Scotland, for a Scotland that shapes and decides its own future, a Scotland that is not dragged along unwillingly into a privatised nightmare of rightwing austerity in the wake of Conservative leadership ambitions but which forges a path as an equal partner with our friends and allies. That’s not a threat, that’s a promise.

Audio link to this blog article, courtesy of @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/not-a-threat-but-a-promise-wee-ginger-dug-25th-july-2016


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

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3I’m now taking advance orders for Volumes 3 and 4 of the Collected Yaps. For the special price of £21 for both volumes plus £4 P&P you can get signed copies of the new books if you order before publication, scheduled for mid-July. Covering the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum until the Yes campaign’s destruction of the Labour party in the 2015 General Election, it’s a snarling chronicle of Scottish history.

To reserve your copies, just send an email to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name and your postal address and how many copies you wish to order. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P.


Signed copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 and 2 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 the pair plus P&P. Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Self-determination starts with the determination to do things for yourself

Self-determination starts with the self being determined. It begins with the personal decision of an individual to take action to determine the shape of their future, and not to sit passively while decisions are made on their behalf. There’s a lot of talk about when Scotland might have a second independence referendum, or rather, about when the Scottish Government might decide when to call one, but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us should sit back and wait for Holyrood to decide for us. We need to start campaigning right now, because this is our referendum, our future, and it will be decided by our own determination to do it ourselves.

I can understand why the Scottish Government doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to press the indyref2 button. It’s important that those who still cling on to the vain hope that Scotland can remain part of both the EU and the UK have time to process their grief. If we want to get as many people as possible on board with the idea of independence, and it’s important that we do, then the Scottish Government needs to be seen to explore all other options. There are still plenty of people out there who still hope that some other means can be found of preserving Scotland’s EU membership short of independence. Then when the Scottish Government does finally say that it is moving a bill in Holyrood to bring about another independence referendum it can honestly say that everything possible was done to seek a solution that would allow Scotland to remain part of both Unions but it failed due to the intransigence of Westminster.

Those of us with clearer heads know that the chances of the Tories consenting to an arrangement allowing Scotland to remain part of both the EU and the UK are as remote as us sitting down at some point in the future and saying, “You know, remember that speech by Theresa May when she became PM and promised to work on behalf of the poor and excluded, she really came through didn’t she.” The Tories are making vague noises about including Scotland in the Brexit process, but that’s really just them saying that they expect Scotland to trot along meekly to the abattoir of our European hopes.

So while the Scottish Government might have its reasons for not firing the starting pistol on a second independence referendum, there’s no reason why the rest of us have to wait for them. We need to start getting ourselves organised and campaigning now. After all, if we sit back and wait for the Scottish Government to start an official referendum campaign then we can’t claim that it’s a Scottish national independence referendum, it would be a Scottish National Party independence referendum. The indyref2 campaign needs to belong to all of us, everyone in Scotland, irrespective of party affiliation or none. The way to ensure that becomes a reality is for those of us who desire independence to start campaigning for it right now. Then we are the ones who shape the campaign. It becomes a campaign that starts and is led from the grassroots. That’s a real national movement.

This doesn’t undermine what the Scottish Government is trying to achieve. In fact it’s the opposite, it bolsters it and strengthens their hand and increases their freedom of movement. It would put the lie to the Unionist claim that there’s no appetite for a second independence referendum when there’s an active and vital independence referendum campaign out and about in the streets of Scotland. It means that when the referendum finally becomes a reality, the campaign is already up and running, and that will make it far harder for the Unionist parties to dismiss it as an SNP creation as they tried to do the last time.

We gained a wealth of experience and skills during the last independence referendum campaign. We can build on that, so when indyref2 comes along, we’re ready for it. Scottish independence will not be won by any single political party or organisation. It will be won by the sheer bloody minded determination of the people of Scotland who are fed up of being led like cattle. We can lead ourselves. We can direct ourselves. We don’t need anyone’s permission. All we need is belief in ourselves.

If there’s already a local Yes group, join it. You can find out if there’s a local group through the National Yes Registry. http://nationalyesregistry.scot/group-contact-form/ Contact Yes2Scotland for details on how to get posters, leaflets, stickers and other materials. Their facebook page is here. https://www.facebook.com/yes2dunblane/ Indyposterboy has a great range of posters available free for downloading and printing. You can get them here http://www.indyposterboy.scot/index.asp

If you want a Scotland with radical policies that’s going to tackle the social injustice and inequalities which have blighted our country under Westminster rule, join your local Common Weal group. If there isn’t already a group near you, start one. You can find out more here http://allofusfirst.org/common-weal-local/ Or you can start a Yes2 group based around a particular interest, occupation, or hobby.

Starting a local group isn’t as hard as you might think. All it takes it energy and enthusiasm. Or you can get involved with your local SNP, or Green, or RISE branch if you prefer a party political approach.

We won’t win Scottish independence just by sitting at computers or texting on mobiles. We need to get out there into the streets, into our communities, spreading the message to our families, friends, and colleagues. Let’s do this. If we wait for permission, we’ve already failed to achieve independence. Scottish independence is all about the people of Scotland taking control of their own destiny and shaping their own future with their own efforts. We can start doing that right now. Independence begins in the mind, act as though you are already independent and you soon will be, and self-determination starts with the determination to do things for yourself.

Audio link to this article, courtesy of @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/self-determination-starts-with-the-determination-to-do-things-for-yourself-wgd-24th-july-2016


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frontcovervol3I’m now taking advance orders for Volumes 3 and 4 of the Collected Yaps. For the special price of £21 for both volumes plus £4 P&P you can get signed copies of the new books if you order before publication, scheduled for mid-July. Covering the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum until the Yes campaign’s destruction of the Labour party in the 2015 General Election, it’s a snarling chronicle of Scottish history.

To reserve your copies, just send an email to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name and your postal address and how many copies you wish to order. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P.


Signed copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 and 2 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 the pair plus P&P. Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

The real Spanish veto threat

I wasn’t going to blog today because I’ve got a bad case of manflu, which is like a regular cold only with additional histrionics, drama, and attention seeking. So very much like the Labour leadership contest then. But there’s news from Spain which I thought worth sharing, mostly because it’s deeply discomfiting to those Unionists who keep claiming that Spain would veto the membership of an independent Scotland in the EU. And when you’ve got a severe dose of manflu, the one thing that cheers you up more than anything else is making people who annoy you really miserable.

Regular readers of this blog will know that the myth that Spain would veto an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU is just that, a myth without foundation. At no point has the Spanish government ever made a statement to that effect, and on those occasions when he has been asked explicitly to state whether or not Spain would veto the membership of the EU of an independent Scotland, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has refused to give an answer.

The reason is that Madrid’s opposition to a Catalan independence referendum is based on a clause in the Spanish constitution which says that Spanish territory is indivisible. Madrid argues that Catalan independence would be unconstitutional and therefore they would refuse to recognise it. Madrid’s officials have explicitly stated that they would veto the EU membership of a Catalonia which declared independence. They’ve never done the same about Scotland for the simple reason that the Scottish independence process would be perfectly constitutional and legal. When asked about this situation in an interview back in February 2014, foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo said that if Scotland were to achieve independence within the framework of the British constitution, then Spain would have nothing to say about it.

Of course Spain doesn’t want to encourage Scottish independence, what with us being besties of the Catalans, but on the other hand they know that they have no legal or constitutional grounds to object to Scottish independence. They objected to Kosovan independence because the Serbian constitution prohibits it, but Spain did not object to the independence of Croatia or South Sudan which were constitutional and legal. What will happen with the Scottish independence process is that Spain will huff and puff and harrumph and bluff, but the morning after a Yes vote in a Scottish independence referendum Madrid will say, “But we’ve said all along that Scotland is an entirely different case from Catalonia.”

Foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo has been a busy man this week. Speaking earlier in the week about the situation of Gibraltar post-Brexit, the Spanish foreign minister did make an explicit threat of a veto. Only it wasn’t Scotland he threatened, he threatened to veto the terms of the UK’s Brexit if it includes Gibraltar. Reported in the Gibraltar Chronicle newspaper, the Spanish foreign minister was quoted as saying that when the UK presses the Brexit button, the European Council must agree the terms of the negotiations “by unanimity”. He added that Spain intended to make it “clear that Gibraltar does not belong to the UK” and would “have the right to veto”.

So it’s not Scotland that faces a threat of a Spanish veto. It’s the rest of the UK and the Conservative government. Oh, the irony.

Last night there was a very interesting interview with Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo on the El Cascabel programme on Channel 13tv of Spanish television. The programme is available online for a limited period. Speaking about the dangers that occur when a party leaves the centre ground and flirts with extremism, García-Margallo said that Nigel Farage had succeeded in dragging the Conservative party and United Kingdom out of the EU, and added, “I may be wrong, but within four or five years England will return to the frontiers that it had in the sixteenth century.”

Asked by the interviewer Antonio Jiménez to clarify his point and asked whether he was referring to Scotland, García-Margallo elaborated, “I believe that Scotland will demand an independence referendum in order to remain in the European Union.” He continued to speak of the problems that Northern Ireland would face as a result of the Brexit vote, and the risk to the peace process. At no point did he hint that Spain would veto Scottish membership of the EU if we vote for independence in the referendum that he expects us to have. “When you put the interests of your party before your country,” he went on, speaking about the British Conservatives, “the result is a catastrophe.”
(Link to video http://www.13tv.es/programas-13tv/el-cascabel/ Comments start at 11.30. Please note the programme is in Spanish)

What the Spanish foreign minister’s comments tell us is that the highest levels of the Spanish government believe that Scottish independence is highly likely, and equally they tell us that they believe that the actions of Scotland in seeking an independence referendum are perfectly understandable given the behaviour of the British Conservatives. And by speaking of a return by England (and he said England not the United Kingdom) to its sixteenth century borders García-Margallo implicitly recognised that at the time Scotland was an independent state and was seeking a return to that status as a result of Brexit.

There was no hint of a threat against Scotland in anything that García-Margallo had to say, nothing to suggest a veto, and given that just a few minutes previously he had been discussing the situation in Catalonia, it would have been very easy for him to speak about any measures Spain might take to discourage Scotland from seeking independence. In fact, he adopted a tone that was sympathetic to Scotland and clearly set a second Scottish independence referendum within the context of the Conservative government being dragged to the right under the influence of political extremists and as a means for Scotland to safeguard its EU membership by recovering its previous status as an independent state. I nearly fell off my chair.

So there you have it. There is a serious threat of a Spanish veto arising out of the political fall out from the Brexit vote. It’s just that it’s not a threat against an independent Scotland remaining a member of the EU, it’s a threat against the rest of the UK getting the kind of Brexit that the Tories might want.

Right now due to my manflu my eyes are teary and my nose is running and I feel a bit queasy, which is probably how the Scottish Conservatives and Unionists will be feeling once they digest the latest news from Spain. Spain is threatening to veto them, not an independent Scotland.

Link to audio version of this blog, courtesy of @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/the-real-spanish-veto-threat-wee-ginger-dug-22nd-july-2016?in=occamshaver/sets/wee-ginger-dug-blogs

 


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

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3I’m now taking advance orders for Volumes 3 and 4 of the Collected Yaps. For the special price of £21 for both volumes plus £4 P&P you can get signed copies of the new books if you order before publication, scheduled for mid-July. Covering the immediate aftermath of the independence referendum until the Yes campaign’s destruction of the Labour party in the 2015 General Election, it’s a snarling chronicle of Scottish history.

To reserve your copies, just send an email to weegingerbook@yahoo.com giving your name and your postal address and how many copies you wish to order. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P.


Signed copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 and 2 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 the pair plus P&P. Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.