EU queue is Unionist woo, guff, barf, drivel and crud

I thought I’d expand a bit on the idiocies that Unionists are excitedly telling themselves in an effort to persuade one another that Scottish independence is a non-starter. It’s bad enough when they tell one another nonsense of course, but Unionist nonsense has a habit of appearing in the pages of a newspaper and on the screen of a national broadcaster as unvarnished truth. Because when it comes to exercising the critical faculties certain media outlets are more like couch potatoes than marathon runners where claims made by the Unionist establishment are concerned. On the other hand, claims made by independence supporters, when the same same Unionists deign to notice them at all, are subject to a dissection that is all but indistinguishable from reductio ad absurdum.

The claim du jour, there’s me coming over all European, which is terribly appropriate for the topic at hand, is that an independent Scotland would have to go to the back of the queue for EU membership. This is true because a right wing Spanish MEP said so. He might once have been besties with Ruth Davidson, but the fact is that Esteban González Pons no more speaks for the EU or the European Parliament than the SNP’s Alyn Smith does.  Although that doesn’t prevent any pronouncement from a minor Spanish political figure being plastered all over the pages of Scotland’s Unionist press. Funnily enough these same publications don’t treat Alyn Smith’s pronouncements on Scotland’s chances within the EU with the same degree of gravity. They don’t even treat pro-Scottish statements from very senior EU figures with the same degree of gravity as statements from right wing Spanish MEPs whose influence is limited even in their own offices. Instead they drop them to the bottom of a very deep and dark well and hope no one notices.

It’s worthwhile looking at this latest claim in detail. The claim is that an independent Scotland would have to go to the back of the queue for membership, behind Albania, Serbia, and Turkey. There are a number of assumptions in this assertion, none of which are well founded. Which is a kind way of saying that Unionists who make the claim are really ought to be paying more attention to the Trumpton firemen’s theme song, which is pitched at approximately the same intellectual level as people who swallow the claim. The reality is that the EU queue is Unionist woo, guff, barf, drivel and crud.

Firstly the claim assumes that Scotland will not hold an independence referendum until after the UK has formally left the EU. This is by no means certain. In the increasingly likely circumstance of a second independence referendum being called, it will be held before the UK formally leaves the EU. That means at any time within two years of Theresa May invoking Article 50 and giving the EU formal notice of the UK’s intention to leave. If Scotland votes in favour of independence in a referendum held within that time frame, the UK will still be a member of the EU, and so will Scotland.

Given that Scotland will have voted for independence while the UK isn’t yet out of the EU door and therefore the UK is shortly to become two states, there is absolutely no reason at all why the EU can’t decide that for the purposes of EU membership, iScotland inherits the UK’s existing membership. After all, it would be pretty nonsensical for the EU to insist that Scotland needs to leave along with the rest of the UK only to make an application to join later. Scotland is already in full compliance with EU membership requirements, and it serves no one’s interests to insist that iScotland leaves then rejoins. The EU has already proven that it can be flexible where circumstances demand it, such as when the former East Germany was admitted as a part of an existing member state.

This scenario has the added advantage of by-passing any possible Spanish objection. The EU could simply say that if a member state is leaving the EU, but a part of that member state is becoming independent and wishes to remain a member, it can do so. Since there is zero prospect of Spain, one of the most pro-EU countries, voting to leave the EU, Spain could agree to this then say that it’s an entirely separate set of circumstances which has no effect on its stance versus Catalonia.

But even supposing that an independent Scotland ended up outside the EU, that still doesn’t mean that we go to the back of the queue and would have to wait for the applications of Turkey, Macedonia, or Albania to be processed before ours could be considered. The queue for EU membership is not like a queue in the chip shop, where the person who has been waiting longest gets annoyed when a newcomer barges in and demands to be served with a special fish supper and acquis sauce right away.

In fact it’s safe to say that the queue for EU membership is not a queue at all. New member states are admitted when they meet the membership requirements, they are not admitted in order of application. Turkey applied to join the EU in 1987. Since then Poland and Hungary have been admitted even though they hadn’t applied to join in 1987. In fact the EU has since admitted a slew of countries which weren’t even independent sovereign states when Turkey first made its application, Slovenia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia spring to mind.

The fact is that Scotland is a highly developed Western European democracy which is already in compliance with the EU’s membership requirements, and would continue to be in compliance with them even if we became independent a couple of months after the UK as a whole had formally exited the EU. Harmonising a country’s domestic legislation with EU laws and regulations takes many years, but Scotland is already there. That means that our application for membership of the EU would be relatively simple and straightforward. We’d be at the head of any queue, such as the queue is, not at the end of it.

The bottom line is, if you genuinely believe that the EU won’t admit an independent Scotland into membership until Turkey is already a member, then you have the IQ of a doner kebab and you really ought to stop embarrassing yourself.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-31st-jan-2017-2

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


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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

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Más cambia, más se vuelve la misma cosa

We had one of those blows for Nicola Sturgeon again, in case you hadn’t noticed. Nicola receives more blows than a tin hut in a hurricane, but unlike the tin hut, she’s still standing. Esteban González Pons has figured in the pages of this blog before. He’s the spokesperson of the right wing Spanish party Partido Popular in the European Parliament, and in 2012 at the British Conservative party conference in Birmingham he met with Ruth Davidson and other Scots Tories to discuss creating a European wide alliance of right wing parties opposed to independence movements.

Following that meeting, he claimed that he was due to have a second meeting to further the proposal, due in Edinburgh in December that year, and he told the Spanish press that he’d be meeting again with Ruthie and other Scots Tories, as well as with representatives of the Labour party in Scotland. It’s safe to say that it’s news that Esteban González Pons is not a fan of Scottish independence in much the same way that it’s news that Ruth Davidson doesn’t want another independence referendum.

The pan-EU alliance is a bit of a bust these days, what with the Tories supporting Brexit and sailing the UK off into a red white and blue obscurity and the fond hope that Donald Trump won’t bully Britain but will pick on someone else. The Partido Popular is no longer disposed to do the Tories any favours, but they’re still keen on discouraging Scottish independence. The difference between Scottish independence and Catalan independence however, is that the Partido Popular know they can’t do much about the former apart from bluffing and threatening before the event. After Scottish independence actually happens through legal and constitutional processes, Spain will have no option but to accept it as a done deal. The EU knows that, and so does Esteban.

There’s been some more bluffing and threatening this week, as dutifully reported by a British Unionist press. Esteban has been mouthing off about Scotland again, and about Gibraltar. On Monday representatives of the government of Gibraltar and Fiona Hyslop, representing the Scottish government, were invited to address the EU parliament about Brexit so that MEPs could get to hear the opinions of two parts of the rapidly diminishing British Empire which are opposed to Theresa May’s idiotic Brexit plans. Well I say “plans”, it’s more of a fond wish and an exercise in foot stomping. It was an opportunity for MEPs to hear the views of the Scottish and Gibraltarian parliaments, and for Scotland and Gibraltar to maintain some of those bridges to the rest of the continent that the Tories are trying to set fire to.

Surprisingly enough, Esteban wasn’t hugely pleased, and got into a bit of a strop because if the EU Parliament starts inviting representatives of Scotland and Gibraltar to voice their opinions, and indeed to acknowledge that they have a right to have opinions which are different from those of the British government, who knows where it might all end. It might end with the EU inviting representatives of the Catalan government to voice their opinions about how the Partido Popular in Madrid are behaving like reactionary anti-democratic authoritarians, and that would never do.

In fact that’s exactly what the EU had done the previous week, sending the carnaptious Esteban into canniptions. The Catalan President Carles Puigdemont had been asked to speak about a Catalan independence referendum. Esteban sent a ferocious letter to other MEPs demanding that they refuse to attend, and insisting that the meeting would have no more effect than having a bit of a conflab over a couple of copas de vino in a bar. His letter was ignored of course, and Esteban is still nursing the bruises from his rejection. So he decided to have a bit of a rant about Scotland and Gibraltar.

Still hurting from the previous week when his letter got a the same reception from the EU that a Syrian refugee gets from Donald Trump, Esteban got into a bit of a strop when Fiona Hyslop addressed the Constitutional Committee of the EU Parliament. “Brexit means Brexit, and therefore, if Scotland becomes independent it will have to put itself at the end of the queue,” he insisted, “behind Albania, Serbia, Montenegro or Turkey.” And again he repeated the line of the Spanish government that the EU can’t enter into discussions with sub-state entities like Scotland, but only with the British government.

This is one of those occasions when a politician prefers to talk about a fictitious scenario which isn’t likely to happen in the real world because the real world scenario is far less comfortable for them. He was of course speaking about a situation where Scotland becomes independent after the UK has left the EU, by which time Scotland, like the rest of the UK, will be outside the EU exactly like Albania or Serbia currently are. He said nothing at all about a Scotland that votes for independence before the UK has formally left the EU, when Scotland will still be an EU member, because he doesn’t want to acknowledge that this is a far more likely scenario and one in which very different rules will apply. The British Unionist media which reported his comments don’t want to acknowledge it’s a more likely scenario either. But the EU Parliament knows that it is.  And so do supporters of Scottish independence.

Interestingly however, and this is a point that a British Unionist media ever eager to find something to blow Nicola Sturgeon with didn’t pick up on, Esteban didn’t say that the Spanish government would veto EU membership for an independent Scotland. So much for that Spanish veto threat then. Not even the spittle flecked Esteban could work up any enthusiasm for it. This is not unrelated to the fact that this particular so-called threat exists solely in the fevered imaginations of increasingly desperate British Unionist politicians and their supporters. Because, let’s face it, if you’re relying on Mariano Rajoy to be the saviour of the UK then the British gemme is already a bogey. No member of the Spanish government has ever said that they’d veto Scottish membership of the EU if Scotland attains its independence legally and constitutionally. It’s a testament to the persistent misinformation in the Unionist media that this still requires stating. And then they complain about fake news.

However for the British Unionist media this week, the news is that a Spanish MEP with known anti-independence views has made a statement in the EU parliament that can be construed as being unhelpful to Scottish independence, and not that that same Spanish MEP was slapped down by an exasperated Danuta Hübner, the president of the Constitutional Committee of the EU Parliament who made it clear to him that the rest of the parliament clearly did not share his views and that they found his tone unhelpful and disrepectful. In one report in the Spanish press, Hübner was reported as not hesitating to picar el crostó with him, which literally means “pick the crust”, or in more idiomatic English, “have a bone to pick”. It’s clear that the Spanish MEP was being slapped down and that he was the one who came off badly in the encounter, not Fiona Hyslop.

As the headline in the Spanish paper put it, El Parlamento Europeo da un toque a González Pons por ir contra Escocia y Gibraltar. Da un toque is a Spanish idiom meaning to allow a phone to ring out without answering it. In this context it implies that the EU was telling González Pons to pay attention but he wasn’t listening. The slap down for Scotland is reported in the Unionist press, but not the slap down for the man who made the comments. Here’s the link to the report in the Spanish press. http://www.elnacional.cat/es/politica/parlamento-europeo-gonzalez-pons-gibraltar-escocia_134718_102.html

That’s the British Unionist media and Spain for you, más cambia, más se vuelve la misma cosa. Which is Spanish for plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. They’re not about to pick up the phone to anything which they can’t spin as a blow for Nicola Sturgeon.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-31st-jan-2017

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


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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

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The specious relationship

It’s been less than two weeks since Donald Trump was inaugurated as US President, and already the world has got into a familiar ritual. You switch on your laptop or mobile phone, see the news, and splutter your tea or coffee all over the screen at his latest moral outrage and how it’s all perfectly fine with hand holding Theresa May. Apparently the special relationship means maintaining an undignified silence when the orange skinned one is acting like a two year old who is throwing his spaghetti hoops on the floor and covering everyone with tomato sauce, and then claiming that the sauce on your face is lipstick which is in fact a fashion statement. British style, it’s a world leader you know. It’s not so much a special relationship as stalking your old school crush at their wedding, and claiming that they still love you because they occasionally glance in your direction with a look of pity.

Fortunately not everyone in the UK is as blindly enamoured with the small handed one as Theresa is. A petition to prevent Trump making a state visit to the UK had received over 1,250,000 signatures by early Monday afternoon. It’s probably a lot more by now. Many people were unhappy with how the petition was phrased, saying as it did that the state visit should be cancelled in order to prevent embarrassment to the Queen. Precious few of us care about whether the Queen is embarrassed or not, but we do care quite a lot about causing maximum embarrassment to Donald Trump.

It must be galling for him to know that in the space of 24 hours, in a country with a population one fifth of that of the USA, five times as many people signed a petition demanding his state visit be cancelled as turned up at his inauguration. But then the people who signed it are probably illegal Mexicans. And there were loads more people who weren’t counted at the inauguration. All that white space around the Capitol in the aerial photies wasn’t empty, it was really chock full of Trump supporters. It’s just you couldn’t see them because of the robes and hoods.

Despite the fact that a state visit for the Donald is as popular as Nigel Farage in an Edinburgh pub, Theresa May isn’t disposed to change her mind. She even used her favourite phrase “to be very clear”, which is the phrase she always uses when she’s dissembling and being as clear as Donald’s skin underneath the plastered on layers of fake tan. This is a phrase that she loves even more than her phrase that it’s not a binary choice, but her office issued an alternative fact when the petition reached 1,000,000 saying that this time it was binary, and so only 64 people had actually signed it. Which is approximately the same number of people who aren’t fully paid up members of Ukip who support her plans for Brexit.

“To be clear,” said a statement from Theresa, “the Prime Minister extended an invitation on behalf of the Queen – and she was happy to do so. The USA is one of this country’s closest allies, and we look forward to hosting the President later in the year.”

To be clear, there’s a deliberate ambiguity in the “and she was happy to do so” phrase. Who was happy to do so? It’s phrased in such a way to imply that it was Liz who was happy to invite the Donald and Theresa was just passing on the invite. Because the Queen decides all by herself who she wants to come along on a state jolly and it’s got nothing to do with who the Prime Minister wants to invite. And if you believe that then Donald Trump has a really great deal for you for a golf course that’s going to create bazillions of jobs and delight the neighbouring property owners. We live in a world where the Prime Minister wants us to believe that Liz gave her a phone call just before she jetted off to hold Donald’s hand as he negotiated a few steps and told her that she’d like nothing more than inviting him to the palace so that the servants could spend the days after his visit trying to get the fake tan off the 100% Egyptian cotton pillowcases. And besides, she’d like nothing more than Melania to plagiarise one of her speeches too. It’s not fair that Michelle Obama gets all the recognition.

What it really means of course is, “To be clear, Theresa doesn’t give a toss how many people sign a petition.” And, “To be clear, these official government online petitions have even less validity than the Sewel Convention.” To be very clear, Theresa doesn’t give a toss what anyone else thinks about anything. She doesn’t care that slightly over 48% of the voting population wanted to remain in the EU, and a significant number of those who voted to leave were labouring under the apprehension that by voting out they were not voting to leave the single market or voting to export their jobs to the continent and voting to devalue the pound so that it’s trading on a par with the Albanian lek. She certainly doesn’t care that the only people who support her plans in Scotland are Tories who require special seats in the Scottish parliament because they’ve had their spines removed. So she’s certainly not going to worry over much about an online petition.

Theresa May’s crawlathon over the Atlantic, her refusal to condemn Trump’s racism, and her eagerness to ingratiate herself with an unstable narcissist, show the reality of the special relationship. That’s a relationship that’s so special that most Americans don’t know it exists. It’s only British politicians and media figures who ever mention it. It shows the weakness and debility of a Britain which has voted to isolate itself from Europe and is now trying to sook up to the big bully in the schoolyard in the desperate hope that he’ll bully someone else. So that’s what punching above our weight really means. It means hoping that someone else is going to get punched. It’s not so much a special relationship as a specious one.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-30th-jan-2017

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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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.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

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We can choose the shelter, or we can choose the storm

Well 2017 is shaping up to be pretty crappy, isn’t it. And there was us thinking that 2016 was the worst year ever. We’ve not even had a whole month of 2017 yet and already it’s so bad that it’s enough to make you long for the good old days of 2016 when it was only celebrities who had to worry about their survival prospects. Or at least the worthwhile ones, Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan are both in robust health and the Jedward twins are annoyingly alive and well and still haven’t been voted off Celebrity Big Brother. It’s just their career that died. But where 2016 was the year when celebrities worried if they’d make it to the end of the year, 2017 is the year when we’re all worrying whether our civil liberties, our public services, or our economy will survive until Dec 31.

Thanks to Theresa May’s nauseating cosying up to the man whose ego is inversely proportional to the size of his tiny little hands, we now know that Britain voted to take back control from Europe so it could be handed on a plate to Donald Trump. I’m struggling to think of a time I’ve been more embarrassed to bear a British passport, and I’ve seen Nicholas Witchell’s syrupy waffle about the royal wedding. I’ve seen catsuited Galloway praising dictators. I’ve seen Tony Blair and his tombstone teeth hoping that the gleam of his grin will distract us from the sight of dead children in Baghdad.

Britain has taken back control so that we can be a free country. We’re free from the bureaucrats of Brussels now, free to have the NHS colonised by American healthcare corporations, free to abolish maternity and paternity leave, free to reduce the annual holiday entitlement to zero, free to work unlimited hours in jobs that pay peanuts if we can find a job at all. Free to become the pariah of Europe. Free to be the laughing stock as we drape ourselves in a Union fleg that substitutes for dignity. Free to climb so far up the rectum of the Donald that his tiny little fingers can’t dislodge us.

And here in Scotland we’re the freest of all, free to be electorally irrelevant, free to be taken out the EU even though we voted to stay in it twice, free to be ignored and sidelined, free not to be consulted. We’re free to be powerless, free to hoist our Caledonian backsides in the air and be royally shafted. We’re free to be unable to do anything about it. Free to be told what to do, free to have our country Trump-trashed. And as long as we remain a part of this so-called United Kingdom, there’s nothing we can do but revel in our weakness and glorify our paralysis. Isn’t it wonderful to be so free. Scotland in the UK is so free it doesn’t even need the illusion of control.

Britain tells us that we’re free, but the truth is we’re trapped in a state that has slipped its moorings and relies on xenophobia and fear as a substitute for a moral compass. This is a ship of state that’s sailing on an ocean of hatred while the grey storm clouds of greed are gathering. The sound of a distant gale is growing, blowing in from the west. Scotland is being towed along behind the sinking British ship of state, bounced about in its wake, keel hauled like a pirate’s captive. The only freedom we’ve got left is the freedom to do as we are told by the people who unleashed the storm and who are sailing us into disaster as the waves grow ever higher. They’re the people who tell us they can walk on water as the sea closes in around their necks. And we’re given no choice but to obey the ocean necklaced people whom we know will toss us overboard first in order to save themselves.

Even when they toss us to the corporate sharks they’ll be telling us that they’re doing it for our own good, that we’re too poor and too small and we need them. We need them so they can devour us, so we can bask in their contempt and derision. 300 years of a Union that’s left us too weak and useless to stand on our own feet.

There’s a difference between being poor and being impoverished. Scotland is a rich country, but it’s a rich country that’s been impoverished by a UK that sucks the wealth and talent out into the maws of London, and then having taken the best from Scotland it tells us that Scotland is too poor to survive.

It doesn’t have to be like this. It’s not too late. Scotland can cut the ropes that bind us and chart our own course to a quiet and calm haven. We’re the land of many islands that can shelter us from the storm, the country of mountains to protect us from the rising waters. We’re a resourceful people in a land full of resources. They’re resources we could be using to build a home for ourselves, to protect the people and create a better future, a place to bring up the kids in safety and security, a place where the elderly can be cared for, a place with a roof that will keep out the rain and windows with a view of the world, and a door that allows our friends to visit. Instead we allow Westminster to use them to tie a noose around our neck and drag us down with them into the grasping little hands of Trump.

We can choose to do what’s in the best interests of all the people of Scotland. Or we can have choices made for us that benefit the rich and the powerful, choices that Scotland doesn’t make and that don’t work in our best interests but in the interests of those who’re leading us into the beady greedy eye of a Trumpicane. We can choose the shelter, or we can choose the storm.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-27th-jan-2017

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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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.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

Having all the smoke and mirrors that you want

Theresa May doesn’t do questions, or answers. Her response to a question is to talk about something else, and if she can she’ll squeeze in an unfunny wee jibe about Jeremy Corbyn. This is what passes for wit and repartee in the House of Commons. When former Tory Home Secretary and Chancellor Kenneth Clarke described May as a difficult woman, what he really meant is that it’s difficult to get her to give a straight answer to a straight question. She’s prone to answering questions with “I’ve been very clear”, which invariably means that she’s been as clear as six inches of thick mud plastered all over your windsreen. You’d get far more clarity and certainty if you nabbed her tea cup after she’d had her tea and innovative jammy dodger and attempted to interpret the patterns of tea leaves.

She insisted she’d been clear previously when she was non-responding to questions and uttering put downs about Jezza during Prime Minister’s Questions, otherwise known as Prime Minister’s Evasions, on Wednesday in the House of Commons. She was asked about the powers over fisheries and agriculture which are currently the preserve of Brussels, and what would happen to those powers after Brexit. Unlike Theresa, the law here is very clear indeed. The Scotland Act is quite explicit about the division of powers between Holyrood and Westminster, and specifies that everything which is not specifically reserved to Westminster is devolved to Holyrood. Under the terms of the Act, agriculture and fisheries are the preserve of the Scottish Parliament. Up until now, that’s only really had theoretical effect, since fisheries and agriculture are subject to EU rules and regulations. That will change after Brexit.

According to the Scotland Act, all powers over agriculture and fisheries which currently reside with Brussels should be repatriated to Holyrood as soon as the UK leaves the EU. The law, if not Theresa, is crystal clear. There should be no question or discussion about what happens to these powers once they are returned to the UK, because the UK government through the Scotland Act, has already agreed that these powers belong to the Scottish Parliament. But that’s not what Theresa thinks. Here are her exact words in response to the question on the devolution of powers which will be returned from the EU after Brexit.

I’ve been very clear, and this was echoed yesterday by my Right Honourable Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, that no powers that are currently devolved are going to be suddenly taken back to the United Kingdom government. What we will be looking at, and what we will be discussing with the devolved administrations, is how we deal with those powers that are currently in Brussels when they come back to the UK. And what we want to ensure is that those powers are dealt with so that we can maintain the important single market of the UK.

They’re going to be “dealt with”, according to Theresa. They’ll kindly and magnanimously pass on any powers from Brussels that they don’t want to keep themselves. Theresa gets first dibs on them and Scotland can have her leftovers. She’s the innovative jammy dodger, dodging questions, dodging responsibility to Scotland. There may be a universe in which the British government doesn’t treat Scotland like a backward child who sticks a fork into a fusebox for fun, but this isn’t that universe. In this universe the British government sticks a fork into the fusebox of the devolution settlement and then acts surprised when sparks fly. But whenever anyone points out that the British government treats the devolution settlement with arrogant contempt, you can hear the Unionists sounding their grievance klaxon. We’re supposed to be ever so ‘umble and grateful for the little crumbs from Theresa’s jammy dodging.

Theresa doesn’t understand the Scotland Act, because if she did she’d know that the powers in question are already devolved. But the truth is that she doesn’t care. She’s a British nationalist who was happy for Scotland to have the pretence of power when those powers were safely in the hands of Brussels, just as she was happy for Scotland to have the pretence of the Sewel Convention being written into law. But the moment there’s the chance that could make a serious difference British nationalists like Theresa aren’t so happy any more.

When Brexit happens there’s the very real likelihood that the British government will unilaterally make substantial changes to the devolution settlement and remove powers from the Scottish Parliament, yet assert loudly that it’s being clear that no existing powers are being taken away. Theresa May has just asserted her right to do so. The provision in the Scotland Bill that all powers are devolved except for those which are specifically reserved is just more meaningless window dressing like the claim that Sewel is enshrined in law, like the claim that the Scottish Parliament is the most powerful devolved parliament in the world, like saying that Scotland is an equal partner in a family of nations when the UK Supreme Court has ruled that Scotland is a region which can be kicked like a can down the street and left in the gutter.

As long as Scotland remains a part of the UK, it will be a subordinate region whose rights are subject to the whim of UK Prime Ministers who don’t need Scottish votes and so have no reason to care what Scotland’s people want or think. You can have your devo window dressing Scotland, but you can’t have any real power. Devolution is like the artificial food in the window of a sushi restaurant. It looks very tasty but you can’t eat it. You can have tax powers that are designed to be unusable. You can have legal clauses with no legal effect. You can have the world’s most powerful devolved parliament as long as it’s in a field of one. You can have all powers devolved except those which are specifically reserved until Westminster decides to claw them back. We love you Scotland, and you can have all the smoke and mirrors that you want.

Audio version of this blog article, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-25th-jan-2017

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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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

Lying until they’re red white and blue in the face

Well now we know. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Westminster Parliament must have a voice on triggering Article 50 and starting the Brexit process, and that Theresa May cannot take us out of the EU and undo law and strip civil and legal rights without legislation. This is to be welcomed. But there was a less welcome message in the Supreme Court’s ruling. The British state has now achieved a legal ruling that in law, in fact, and in practice, Scotland isn’t an equal partner in a family of nations after all. The Sewell Convention which was written into the Scotland Act has no legal force, no meaning, and exists merely as window dressing to disguise Scotland’s powerlessness with nice words that have no effect.

Scotland isn’t a much loved and respected part of a Union whose voice must be heard and whose opinions and views must be taken into account. Scotland is in fact merely a region, a glorified county, a tartan ribbon making a pretty bow on the package of Britishness. Rejoice in your inferior status Scotland. Being British means Scotland is not a country and its status as a nation has no legal meaning. Welcome to monolithic Unionism where the monolith will crush all life and distinctiveness from you.

The Supreme Court has decided that the Westminster Parliament must have a vote on triggering Article 50, but when it comes to having a voice on major changes to the devolution settlement that could strip the Scottish Parliament of important rights and Scottish people of important rights, the law says that Scotland, along with Wales and Northern Ireland, can go screw itself. Your opinion, Scotland, is not required. If you look up the Sewell Convention in a dictionary of legal terms, you won’t find it.

We know now that when the Unionist parties swore that they were enshrining the permanency and powers of the Scottish Parliament into law, that it was just meaningless cant, a sleight of words to confuse and mislead, a deceit. The Supreme Court of the UK has ruled that a power devolved is a power retained by Westminster, and that Westminster needn’t even bother consulting Scotland if it decides to revoke or change those powers. The Scotland Bill is based on a lie and empty rhetoric than means nothing. It’s fine words to soothe but which have no meaning or force. The Sewell Convention is worthless verbiage whose purpose was to placate Scotland. We didn’t get the permanency of the Scottish Parliament, we got a carrot on a stick that forever remains out of reach, an unreachable treat to keep the donkey of Unionism on the road to submission.

We were promised that Scotland would get the most powerful devolved parliament in the world, but the unelected unrepresentative House of Lords, stuffed full of Tory and Labour party donors, rich businessmen, and Michelle Mone, has more say over devolution than the Scottish Parliament itself. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, all countries which have fewer people than Scotland, will have a seat at the table during Brexit negotiations and will infinitely more power over the future of Scotland than the people of Scotland themselves. Even the Belgian regions of Wallonia and Flanders have more power over Scotland’s future than Scotland does, because those regions have the legal right to veto any Brexit deal that they don’t like. Never mind not having a right to veto a deal that could cause immense damage to our economy and society, Scotland doesn’t even have the right to voice an opinion, doesn’t have the right to be consulted, doesn’t have the right to a say.

They told us we could have the nearest thing possible to federalism. But you can’t have federalism in a state where one of the members is larger than the rest combined and which believes that it has an inalienable right to impose its views on the others. If Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot prevent England going down a particular path, but England can always drag the other three along with it irrespective of their own views, we are not talking about a Union. We’re talking about a state with its subordinate quasi-colonial possessions. That’s not what was on offer from the Better Together campaign back in 2014, but that’s what they have delivered. Scotland’s role in this so-called Union is to make Britain look diverse and mask the ugliness of English nationalism with a veneer of Britishness that English nationalists can use as a comfort blanket to tell themselves that their nationalism isn’t nationalist at all. And if you’re a Scottish Unionist, you’re helping them in their delusion, and you’re deluding yourself that you’re opposing nationalism when all you’re doing is to foster someone else’s.

This is not the Union that Scotland was promised in 2014 in return for a No vote. This is not the safety and security of EU membership they told us a No vote would achieve. This is not the Scotland which is a much loved and respected equal partner in the great project of Britishness. This is not the Scotland whose parliament and legal rights are enshrined permanently in legislation beyond the reach of capricious British governments which Scotland didn’t vote for. We are living in a bunting bedecked lie. They lied until they were red white and blue in the face. The only surprising thing is that the liars and cheats who drafted the infamous vow didn’t expect that they’d be found out so quickly. They sold us a lie. They sold us a cheat. They deceived, they dissembled. Democracy is dead if the people can be sold a lie and not have any redress. If the powerful cannot be held to account then the people are chattel. There must be another referendum.

The UK won’t respect Scotland. Their judges have ruled that there is no reason to grant Scotland respect, no reason to give Scotland a hearing. Today’s the day that Scotland’s No voters discovered that the UK is not a Union of equals after all, and they’ve only got their cognitive dissonance as a comfort. Scotland won’t get a voice in the UK, we know that now. The only way in which Scotland’s voice can be heard is to stop the pretence that Britain speaks for Scotland and to start to speak for ourselves. It’s time for a second independence referendum.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-24th-jan-2017

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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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.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

Respect yourself

You might think that a constituent part of a union was deserving of respect by virtue of being a constituent part of a union, and that no further qualifications would be necessary. You might think that, but if you do you’re clearly not a member of Scotland’s Unionist party leadership. This week the Furst Meenister Nicola Sturgeon stated that MSPs must have a vote on whether Brexit is triggered, and that she’s going to ensure that the elected representatives of the Scottish people have their say.

This is outrageous, apparently. At least according to the usual suspects. It’s a waste of time and money. It’s wrong for Scotland to want a say on our Prime Minister’s wizzard wheeze of a plan to get the entire world, or at least the European bits of it, to roll over and concede everything that Britain wants. With Brexit there will be pixey dust. There will be trade deals with global powerhouses like Togo. There will be ginger beer, and high tea, and lashings of innovative jam. We’re going to have our spacecakes and eat them. And we’re first in the queue to be shafted by the rabidly protectionist Trump. How dare a glorified parish cooncil demand a say on the latest chapter of the Great British Fantasy Tale. The British people voted for buttercups and sunbeams, and that’s what Theresa is going to give them.

Let’s be clear here. Theresa May’s Brexit plan bears much the same relationship to the real world as Donald Trump’s press secretary. It is a farrago of nonsense clung onto by fools who delude themselves that Britain has all the cards to play and that the EU is desperate to give Britain everything that it wants, so that it can wander off into a sunny uplit land of free trade and zero regulation while still having unfettered access to all those parts of the EU that it sees as beneficial. It rests upon the assumption that other EU members will be perfectly content to grant the UK a deal that allows Britain to keep most of the advantages of EU membership, but with none of the disadvantages. It’s a plan that will dissolve into five year old girly tears like a Nazi’s gob meeting a protester’s fist the moment it encounters the EU negotiators.

It’s only right that the Scottish parliament gets a say on May’s dreamscape. It’s not like May is giving Scotland any say. Her idea of listening to Scotland is to stick her fingers in her ears and sing Rule Britannia. If Scotland wants to air an opinion we can only do so ourselves. It’s either that or rely on Fluffy Mundell to stand up for Scotland in the cabinet, but hedgehogs on the A9 are more successful in standing up to passing lorries than Fluffy is at standing up for Scottish interests. But then he doesn’t think that standing up for Scotland is his job. He thinks his job is standing up for the UK cabinet in Scotland, like a hedgehog preaching the benefits of becoming roadkill. Fluffy doesn’t respect Scotland, his boss doesn’t respect Scotland, but in the face of their arrogant intransigence Scotland can show them some self-respect.

May doesn’t think she needs to bother about what Scotland wants, she doesn’t care about protecting Scotland’s interests, because she’s managed to convince herself that talk of a second independence referendum is a bluff. She’s mistaken. Before the last independence referendum the received wisdom of the Unionist media was that Alex Salmond was bluffing, that he didn’t really want a referendum. It’s the same self-deluding story this time. The Unionist establishment is so much in love with itself that it can’t bring itself to believe that anyone would really want independence from it. It must be a bluff in order to leverage something out of them, and because it’s a bluff they can safely ignore it. Then they discover too late that it wasn’t a bluff after all. You’d think they’d have learned their lesson by now.

Labour is bugger all help in pushing the distinctiveness of Scotland’s perspective. That’s not unsurpising however, since the perspective of Labour is the view you get when you’re stuck down the bottom of a sewer and you’re swimming against the tide. The Lib Dems aren’t much use either. The so-called Europeanists of the Lib Dems are more consumed by their hatred of the SNP than they are by any opposition to Brexit. Just like the Tories they tell us that Scotland shouldn’t become independent because then we’d be a small powerless country that was all alone. But that’s what we already are within the UK. If Scotland was independent it would be able to make alliances on its own account.

We’re heading into the unknown, led by people who have no care or concern for what’s best for Scotland but who complain constantly about the ‘threat’ of a second referendum. They think that democracy is a threat. They think that it’s dangerous for the people of Scotland to have a say. They’re right. It is dangerous. It’s dangerous for them.

On Tuesday the UK Supreme Court is due to give its ruling on whether the government is legally obliged to gain parliamentary approval before it can trigger Article 50 and start the Brexit process. It may or may not decide that the devolved administrations must also be consulted. If it rules that they do, there will be a constitutional crisis as the Conservatives and Ukip scream that England’s will is being ignored. If the court rules that they don’t there will be a constitutional crisis as Scotland protests that Westminster’s promise to enshrine the Sewell Convention and ensure the permanency of the Scottish parliament has no legal validity after all, and it was just empty words. We’ll find out soon enough. And we’ll find out soon enough which shade of crisis we’re in for. The only certainty left in this decreasingly united kingdom is that we’re in a crisis and will remain so as long as we stay a part of this dysfunctional union. If they won’t respect us, we’ll show them that we respect ourselves.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-23rd-jan-2017

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.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

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.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709