Hope springs and the dance begins anew

Nicola Sturgeon has announced a national conversation about Scotland’s future, and already the usual suspects are in full froth. You can’t have another independence referendum they cry, because obviously there was a rider to the question asked of us in September 2014 which said that if we voted to remain a part of the UK it was to be for all time, under all and any circumstances, and irrespective of whether the Unionist parties fulfilled any of the promises and commitments they made to secure a No vote.

This piece of small print was written in a special Unionist red white and blue ink that only becomes visible in the headlamps of one of Ruth Davidson’s tanks, so it’s understandable if you missed it. But never fear, Ruthie and her pals are here to point it out for you. It was written with the same special ink as the clause that allowed Ruthie’s party to plunge the entire UK into the economic and political uncertainty of Brexit, but at the same time gives her licence to claim that anyone who proposes a permanent solution for Scotland is committing the sin of creating uncertainty.

Meanwhile Kezia and Wee Wullie Rennie are implacably opposed to another referendum too. At least to a referendum of the Scottish variety. They’re open to the idea of another referendum on the EU. So when they say that they’re open to means of Scotland maintaining its membership of the EU what they really mean is that they’re open to the idea of revisiting referendum questions which haven’t been answered to their liking. For some reason, the mainstream media is very keen to give us the opinions of minor players like Wullie, but give less prominence to the views of a party which has more seats in Holyrood and beat Wullie’s into fifth place. This just might be related to the fact that the Greens are currently more gung-ho for a second referendum than the leadership of the SNP, and their enthusiasm for a second vote makes it very clear indeed that independence is not all about Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

What’s been announced today isn’t a campaign to persuade former No voters to change their minds. It’s a vital precursor to a full throated independence campaign. Before you can persuade someone to change their minds about independence, first of all you have to find out what their concerns about independence are. First you listen, only then can you persuade. This is the first step to indyref2 and if you start your journey from a position of knowledge then you will be surefooted throughout.

We live in a country which has been traduced and lied to for generations, which has been told by successive Westminster governments and their Scottish branch offices that we’re parochial, that we’re too poor, that we’re dependent on the largesse of a British government that’s not noted for its humanity and generosity. We’re a country which has been told for decades that aspiring to adequacy is a bit of a stretch. We’ve even been told that we don’t really exist, that there’s no such thing as Scottish culture other than an atavistic hatred of England, and that anyway nations are artificial constructs and so aren’t real or meaningful. Anything to get us to stay in our cereal box and to stop asking the difficult and unanswerable question – just why can’t Scotland do what every other European nation can do? Why can’t we be normal too?

Look about. See the grey drawn faces of mothers who wonder how they’re going to get through the week with food on the table. See the old man with a walking stick who’s deciding whether to top up his electric or to buy food. See the young man who’s never had a job self-medicate on cheap wine to stave off the black well of hopelessness that consumes his days and swallows him at night. See the young family whose dream of a home of their own recedes into the distance as house prices and rents rise but wages stagnate. This is the Scotland we’ve been taught is normal. It’s a Scotland where even small dreams are unattainable. Then look to the hills and see the vast estates and the countryside we’ve been cleared from. In this big country dreams stray from you.

And see the politicians who tell us that this is the best we can aspire to. See the politicians who tell us that we can’t afford to give our elderly a decent standard of living, that we can’t afford to give every child the same chance to succeed. But we can afford the obscenity of Trident. We can afford to bail out the banks. We can afford to allow big corporations to get away without paying their fair share. Well this isn’t normal. This isn’t right. This isn’t justice. We deserve better. And we can attain it. All we need to do is to believe in ourselves and create a system where those politicians are answerable to the people of the Scotland that they condemn to the half-life of abnormal normality. The solution is within our power, within our grasp. All it takes is a pencil marked X. Say yes to yourself. Say yes to the right to hope.

In 2014 the biggest grassroots movement in modern Scottish history established the principle that independence is perfectly possible. We took the notion of independence from the margins of Scottish political discourse and not only put it slap bang in the centre of the mainstream, we made it the most important question around which Scottish political discourse revolves. We established Scotland’s right to normality. We need to take that message to the places it didn’t reach before, to show that there is a better way, that we can aspire and dream of a Scotland where hope isn’t an alien concept. And we can make that Scotland a reality.

We’ve only just started. The indy band is striking up again, hope springs and the dance begins anew.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-2nd-sept-2016

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

Sauce for the Irish goose and sauce for the Scottish gander

Our caring sharing listening and respectful Tory government has announced that it’s going to press ahead with Brexit negotiations without the approval of parliament, and without any meaningful input from Scotland. Scotland’s going to get poured a big bowl of stale Brexit cereal and we’ll be expected to eat it up quietly and do what we’re told. In the Tory fantasy image of the British platoon of nations, Scotland is the morose lance corporal who obeys the orders of the public school educated posh boy.

This week Theresa May held a cabinet meeting to discuss the Brexit negotiations. The British government still doesn’t have a clue about how it’s going to get what it wants, other than demanding it imperiously in a loud voice in the expectation that Johnny Foreigner will jolly well do as he’s told. What they want is for the UK to stop immigration from other European countries, but still to have access to the single market for goods and services, and crucially for British financial companies to have unfettered rights to trade in the EU. The EU has made it very clear that you don’t get one without the other. No free movement of people, no free access of goods and services. As it embarks upon the Brexit negotiations, the UK is going to be in for a harsh lesson in the fact that you don’t always get what you want.

There’s already a hard border between the UK and most of the EU, as asylum seekers in Calais have discovered. Certain Unionist commentators have suggested that there would be a similar border between Scotland and England and this means it’s going to be impossible for Scotland to become independent. After independence, they say, there will be a hard border between Scotland and England complete with immigration controls, passport checks, and burly men of the sort Ruth Davidson warns about.

How else is the poor UK going to prevent hordes of migrants from Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia flooding across the Tweed on home made rafts? Scotland will become the go-to destination of migrants seeking access to the UK. Hundreds of thousands of them are going to sail across the Channel, then hike across England to reach Scotland so that they can find a rubber dinghy salesperson in Coldstream and cross back into England again.

Perched as we are in the far north-western corner of Europe and without any land frontiers with any other countries but England and separated from continental Europe by hundreds of miles of stormy North Atlantic, Scotland is geographically ideally placed as a lauch pad into England for migrants from the rest of the world. But only if they can teleport. And if they can teleport then they wouldn’t need to come into Scotland in the first place. The argument that an independent Scotland would be a destination for migrants seeking to reach England is an argument that’s geographically illiterate, but it doesn’t stop the more desperate Daily Mail types from making it.

While Scotland is threatened with barbed wire fences, and body searches by burly men, the Tory government is reassuring the Irish that after Brexit there’s going to be no hard border between the Irish Republic and the UK. Speaking in Belfast on Thursday, the Tories Brexiteer-in-Chief David Davis said that there would be no return to armed checkpoints and border checks along the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. He pointed out that there was a Common Travel Area in place between the UK and the Irish Republic for many years before either became members of the EU and that he expected that to continue.

What’s sauce for the Irish goose is sauce for the Scottish gander. The Unionist parties can’t argue that there will be no hard border between the Irish Republic and the UK while insisting that there’s going to be one between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK. Mind you, that won’t stop them from trying it on. And it won’t stop the Unionist media from not pointing out the contradiction in their argument.

We had all this during the last independence referendum campaign, and we’ll have it again during the next one. The usual suspects will scrutinise and criticise every detail of the case for independence, while even the most outrageous claims of the Unionist parties will go unchallenged. Remember Magrit Curran’s claims that she didn’t want independence because she didn’t want her weans to become foreigners? That claim went unchallenged even though everyone who was born a UK citizen would remain a UK citizen even after Scottish independence, and the children of UK citizens also have the right to UK citizenship.

So Magrit’s weans wouldn’t be foreigners to her after all, she’d still have her precious UK citizenship, so would her weans. She’d also have the right to Scottish citizenship, and so would her weans. Mind you, the argument that you don’t want independence because you don’t want your children to become foreigners to you isn’t an argument against independence anyway. It’s an argument that you are desperately in need of family centred therapy and counselling. If your relationship with your kids or other family members is going to be prejudiced because you hold a different passport from them, there’s something seriously astray in the internal dynamics of your own family. No amount of constitutional legislation can help you with that.

But there’s also the wee point that the last bit of these islands to declare independence from Westminster isn’t foreign either. The Ireland Act of 1949 declares that Irish citizens do not count as foreigners under British law. None of this was highlighted when the Unionist parties threatened us with foreign status and with barbed wire fences along the border. The press was quite happy to report the comments of the likes of Magrit without challenge. No matter how ridiculous the claims that were made, they were never examined critically.

That doesn’t just apply to discussions about the border and to the Irish Republic, it applies across the board. If we want to counteract the scaremongering of Unionist parties which are terrified of losing their power and their privilege, we’re going to have to do it for ourselves. Thankfully we’ve learned how to do that, we know how to organise, we know how to dominate social media, we know how to embark on a grassroots movement that reaches into every home in the land. We’ve already started the second independence referendum campaign, and this time we’re ready for them.

Audio version of this blog, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-1st-sept-2016?in=occamshaver/sets/wee-ginger-dug-blogs

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.