Journey to Yes, N°10

Jackie says Yes. As more Scots who voted No to independence reconsider their decision, we follow their journey to Yes and self-determination for Scotland. Jackie Kemp is a writer living in Edinburgh and author of ‘Politics on the Hill, an Edinburgh View’, a stunning essay reflecting on Scotland’s changing post-Brexit identity that has resonated with people across the political spectrum. Jackie campaigned against independence in 2014 alongside long-serving Scottish Labour politician Tam Dalyell who himself described devolution as “a motorway without exit to a Scottish state”. Jackie reflects on her disillusion with the UK’s current constitutional settlement (England has left us) and how Brexit has altered her view of independence which she now sees as vital to maintaining Scotland and Edinburgh’s ancient links with Europe.

You can read ‘Politics on the Hill, an Edinburgh View’ and Jackie Kemp’s other writing @ http://www.jackiekemp.scot/
10th and final in this series.
phantompower2014@gmail.com

The GERS fundamentalists

The Unionists have got a new phrase, “GERS deniers”. It’s a nice wee soundbite which attempts to equate people who view the GERS figures with suspicion, and people who deny the reality of climate change. But as ever, our Unionist friends are not comparing like with like. Climate change is based upon multiple scientific works and studies. There is abundant data from many different and independent sources. The GERS figures (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland), are a single data set, and moreover they’re a single data set which relies very heavily on figures produced by a body which it is scarcely conspiracy theoristish to suspect may not be entirely neutral in the Scottish debate – the UK Treasury. The difference between denying climate change and denying GERS is simple. One is science, the other is politics. Only a fool is sceptical about a scientific reality. Only a fool isn’t sceptical about a political claim.

The GERS figures were instituted in the early 1990s by the then Scottish Secretary of State, the Conservative Iain Lang, as a means of providing the Tory government with ammunition to use against those campaigning for a Scottish parliament. According to a leaked memo, Lang wanted GERS as a tool to “undermine” the opposition. The figures were designed to show Scotland’s deficit, which could then be spun as a fiscal transfer from England to Scotland. Their purpose was political from the very beginning. That’s the opposite of science. Science seeks data and then develops a theory to account for that data. GERS starts off with the theory of an English subsidy to Scotland and then seeks data to account for that theory. It’s anti-science. It’s politics.

Unionists want us to accept GERS uncritically and without any rigorous examination of the methodology used to produce the figures which are presented in the newspaper headlines. They’re the only figures which exist, we keep getting told. And this would be true. However that’s all the more reason to examine the way in which those figures are produced and the data collected with a critical and sceptical eye. It is scientifically illiterate to accept without criticism a single data set, all the more so when that data set is the only data which exists and it’s data which relies on estimates made by people who can reasonably be suspected of having a vested interest in a particular outcome. It’s a bit like saying, “Well we don’t actually know how life developed on Earth, but we do have the account in Genesis, so let’s go with that. Now give me one tenth of your income. The bible tells us to tithe too.” And then you call evolutionary scientists Genesis deniers and claim that they’re a cult.

The claim is frequently made by GERS fundamentalists that the figures are Scottish government figures. But that’s not exactly true. The Scottish government has a legal obligation to produce the GERS figures, but the statisticians of the Scottish government have no means of knowing how much is spent on non-devolved matters in Scotland or (allegedly) spent on Scotland’s behalf outwith Scotland. The statisticians of the Scottish government know nothing about say, how much of defence expenditure, or the expenditure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is allocated to Scotland. For those figures they rely entirely upon information supplied to them by the UK Treasury.

Imagine a bank robber who rushes out of a bank and then puts a gun to the head of a passing motorist and forces them to drive him away. Saying that the Scottish government is responsible for the GERS figures is a bit like saying the motorist is responsible for the bank robbery. Unionist analyses of GERS want us to focus solely on the actions of the motorist, and not on the actions of the bank robber. That motorist owes a fortune to the bank you know. How are they ever going to repay that huge deficit?

The paroxysms of GERS denier accusations this week are because a proper economist had the temerity to examine the figures with a sceptical eye and found them wanting. According to the economist Richard Murphy, with the exception of local government income there are no reliable figures at all for Scottish revenues, and figures for Scottish expenditure are seriously deficient. He points out that it is normal for economic figures to rely on certain estimates, but it’s not normal for 25 out of 26 sets of income figures in a set of accounts to be based on estimates and consumer surveys. He says, “Estimates may be a part of financial life but this is ridiculous.” The SNP MP George Kerevan, who was a lecturer in economics before entering politics, likewise believes that the GERS figures underestimate Scottish revenues.

Unionists want the GERS figures to do something that not even Iain Lang wanted them to do. They want to use the GERS figures in order to make claims about the financial position of an independent Scotland. GERS tells us, in theory, about the financial situation of Scotland within the UK, but independence means we do things differently. In the most recent GERS figures, revenues from the North Sea oil industry were a paltry few million, but Norway continued to extract billions from its oil sector even though it had been hit by the same decline in oil prices. The difference is due to different tax regimes and regulatory regimes. Unionists assume that Scotland would continue to indulge the oil corporations in the same way as the UK Treasury. That assumption is made across the board by the GERS fundamentalists, their vision of an independent Scotland is one which spends and raises revenues exactly the same way the UK does just now. That’s an obvious nonsense.

According to the financial services company Deloitte, “GERS data is produced for Scotland as part of the UK – it does not model scenarios for an independent Scotland in which the Scottish Government would be enabled to make its own fiscal choices.” And that’s the whole point of independence, to do things differently. To do things better for the people of Scotland.

The GERS fundamentalists make some even more outlandish assumptions. Literally outlandish. According to the GERS figures Scotland spends some £3.3 billion on defence which it allocates to Scotland. It is universally agreed that the amount spent within Scotland on defence does not approach this figure, most estimates place defence expenditure within Scotland at around £1.7 billion, a figure which includes spending on Faslane. Much of the remainder is spent in the south of England where the UK has concentrated the MoD offices and its military bases. No independent country in the world spends over half of its defence expenditure in someone else’s country, especially not a small country like Scotland which has no pretensions to Empire 2.0. In an independent Scotland defence expenditure would be spent within Scotland, and so boost Scottish revenues accordingly by generating economic activity within Scotland.

Another large contributor to the GERS deficit is Scotland’s contribution to interest payments on the UK’s eye-watering national debt. We don’t know what the national debt of an independent Scotland would be. What we do know is that there is no financial institution anywhere in the world which possesses a piece of paper saying “IOU squillions of quid, xx Scotland”. The debt is legally the responsibility of the UK government, and during the first independence referendum the UK Treasury issued a statement to reassure the markets making it clear that it would continue to be legally responsible for that debt. If the rUK wants to be the continuator state to the existing UK, then they likewise continue with the debt.

That doesn’t mean that Scotland will start life as an independent nation debt free, although Ireland did exactly that. What it means is that when Scotland becomes independent it will only take on such debt as pertains to the share of the joint UK assets that it receives, and that will be subject to negotiation between Scotland and the rUK after a Yes vote in a referendum. No assets, no debt. It’s that simple. There are certain UK assets that Scotland has no interest in, such as our share of the energy and other resources of the Falkland Islands.  Not taking our share of those assets reduces any debt we might need to take on.

The reality is that GERS tells us next to nothing about the financial situation of an independent Scotland. But even if we were to take the GERS figures at face value, they still add up to something that smells pretty fishy. According to the GERS figures, Scotland has a deficit of £14.8 billion a year. The equivalent figures for Wales and Northern Ireland allocate deficits of £14.7 billion and £9.16 billion respectively. Yet the entire annual deficit for the whole of the UK is £67 billion. The GER figures would have us believe that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a combined 16% of the UK population between them, are responsible for a whopping 58% of the entire UK annual deficit. That figure alone ought to raise suspicions that the methodology of GERS is suspect and invite a critical examination with a sceptical eye. But Unionists don’t want us to do that. They want us to accept Scotland’s supposed £14.8 billion deficit as if it were holy writ.

So let’s do just that. Let’s accept for the purposes of the argument that Scotland does indeed have a deficit that’s considerably larger than that of Greece. Yet Greece doesn’t have Scotland’s resources. Greece isn’t a net exporter of energy. Greece doesn’t have oil, gas, a massive renewable energy potential, the hundreds of years worth of coal that Scotland has agreed to leave in the ground. Scotland is so rich in energy that we can afford to have a national conversation about fracking and whether or not we want it. We don’t need the energy from fracking ourselves. We can afford to leave it in the ground. Most countries don’t have that luxury.  Energy is the motor of any economy, and Scotland possesses it in abundance.

Unlike Greece Scotland has fertile soil and no shortage of water. We have enormous fish stocks. We are more or less self sufficient in food, what we import we make up for in exports. We have a tourism industry worth £11 billion annually, a whisky industry worth almost £4 billion. We have a computer games industry, four of the top 100 universities in the world, and a highly educated English speaking population. We have advantages we just take for granted, like the fact that what passes for a national disaster in Scotland is the national football team, we are spared the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis that strike less fortunate countries – like Greece. Those are disasters that mean entire towns and cities have to be rebuilt. Nothing like that happens in Scotland. This is a lucky country.

But it doesn’t end there. We are in a geopolitically stable and quiet part of the globe. No one wants to invade us, no one has territorial claims on us, and we have no territorial claims on anyone else. Not even Berwick. We are that rare beast, a country that no one hates except David Starkey, and since pretty much everyone hates David Starkey that’s fair enough. Unlike Greece we have government institutions which actually function. Ordinary people pay tax, unlike Greece where tax evasion is a national sport. And we have impeccable democratic credentials, to the extent that we were able to hold a national debate on independence and the only casualty of the independence movement was Jim Murphy’s egg stained shirt. Let’s face it. If you wanted to list the ingredients for a peaceful, prosperous, stable, democratic country, you’d list what Scotland has. And yet, according to the GERS fundamentalists, Scotland is an economic basket case which is worse off than Greece. That’s not an argument for remaining under the rule of those whose economic mismanagement has produced this lamentable situation, it’s an argument for running away from the clowns who have created this mess as fast as our hairy little Caledonian legs can carry us.

The fundamental truth that the GERS fundamentalists refuse to accept is that either the GERS figures do not represent an accurate picture of the financial position of an independent Scotland, or that their beloved Westminster has been criminally negligent in its economic management of this country. They can’t have it both ways.

The clowns of Westminster show no sign that they are aware of the damage they’ve done and are now intent on taking us into the financial catastrophe of Brexit where things are only going to get even worse. The question facing Scotland is how do we get out of this mess we are currently in. Do we trust in the selfish arrogant fools who caused the mess in the first place and who are bent on continuing the damage and making it worse, or do we trust in our own skills, our own talents, and our own abilities. Do we think it will be easier to repair the damage in an isolationist Brexit Britain, or in an independent Scotland with full access to the European single market and the trade deals that enables?  Do we trust those who don’t care about Scotland, or do we trust those who do? That ought to be an easy question to answer, except if you’re a GERS fundamentalist.

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.

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Normal service will be resumed

We had thought that by this time the Scottish Parliament would have voted in favour of holding a second independence referendum, and the Scottish Government would be formally requesting a Section 30 Order from Westminster. Due to Wednesday’s tragic events in Westminster, that hasn’t happened yet. According to reports, the Holyrood debate is due to resume on Tuesday next week. By this time next week, the Scottish Parliament will have voted to give the people of Scotland a voice on our own future, a voice that Theresa May seeks to deny us.

Initially I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea to suspend the debate in Holyrood. My opinion had nothing to do with the importance of the debate or its subject matter. It had nothing to do with wanting to gain a majority in Holyrood for a referendum, because that’s nailed on and is going to happen anyway. It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of any sympathy or feeling for those who were bleeding and dying on the streets of London. It was simply because I felt, and continue to feel, that governments should strive to do all they can to ensure that the influence and effects of terrorist outrages should always be as limited and contained as possible. The greater the contagation into the rest of our democracy, the greater the impact and effect that an evil individual with evil intent can have. When institutions and organisations which were not directly targetted close down, it magnifies and spreads the ability of terrorism to disrupt our democracy and destroy the peace.

One of the greatest threats to our civil liberties isn’t terrorism, it’s the response that governments make to terrorism. When the effects of terrorism are magnified and spread to a greater extent than is necessary to ensure public safety and to deal with the immediate humanitarian crisis involving those directly affected, it increases the impact that terrorism has on everyone’s lives, and makes it easier for governments to introduce repressive and anti-democratic measures in response. Then we all lose. We become a society which is shaped, or more accurately deformed, by a terrorist threat, when there are other threats which we blithely ignore or shrug off which extract a far greater toll in terms of suffering and death.

Threats like, for example, air pollution, domestic violence and abuse, or road deaths, all of which kill many more people in the UK than terrorism does. They get far less attention, far less concern from those in the seats of power. We are blinded by the bloody spectacle of terrorism, leading us as a society to prioritise it over threats which in terms of the numbers of lives they destroy are far more lethal and have a far greater death toll. This is not to diminish or downplay the suffering of those caught up in Wednesday’s tragedy. Their pain is real. Their blood is real. Their deaths were real, and were tragic. We should all mourn for them. We should all offer our sympathy and compassion. But as a society we must be careful to avoid allowing the attention grabbing barbarity of a terrorist attack to define our democracy. Theresa May has plenty of authoritarian tendencies as it is, the last thing we need is to allow her excuses for any more.

However it’s only human that legislators in Holyrood were concerned and worried about their friends and colleagues in the other parliament. It’s only human that they’d find it difficult to concentrate on the topic at hand while people lay bleeding and broken on a London street, people who for all they knew could have been their friends and associates. So I don’t have a problem with the fact that the proceedings at Holyrood were suspended. Humanity and compassion should always trump any point of principle.

I did get angry on social media in the immediate aftermath of the attack. I got angry with people, both individuals and news organisations which really ought to have known better, publishing photos showing dead and dying people. Can you imagine the pain of discovering that a friend or relative had been killed in a terrorist attack because you happened to chance across a photo of their bloody end on Twitter. It treats death as spectacle and display. It reduces suffering to social media content. It’s the vampire search for clicks from the blood of the dying. If your immediate reaction on seeing a person bleeding and dying on a bridge is to reach for your camera and not to rush to give aid, your own humanity is bleeding and dying too.

I got angry with the conspiracy theorists who immediately began to speculate about false flags and how the tragic events might be an attempt by the “deep state” to disrupt the Scottish debate. Not everything is about Scotland you know and you do the cause of independence no favours by associating it with paranoia. The only thing deep about such comments is the depth to which the people making them, while others bled to death on a London bridge, are up their own arses. For those of us not directly involved the only appropriate response in the immediate aftermath of a violent attack is concern for those wounded, grief for the dead, and compassion for those caught up in the events.

I got angry with those who sought to score political points on the back of the dying. People who rushed to condemn the Scottish Parliament for not suspending proceedings immediately and trying to put the blame at the door of the SNP. It’s not up to the SNP to suspend proceedings in Holyrood. That’s a decision for the Presiding Officer, who happens to be a Labour MSP. It was not a party political decision. But that didn’t stop some people from finger pointing and trying to use Wednesday’s tragedy as a stick which which to beat up the Scottish independence movement. The desperate straw clutching game plan of Better Together Mark II will be that Scotland is too wee, too poor, too stupid, too racist, and too sympathetic to terrorism.

Normal service will be resumed. On Tuesday next week the Scottish parliament will return to its debate. Democracy will continue. The Scottish people will have their voice. Our democratic process will heal and will go on. But we should always remember with compassion and concern that the wounds of those injured will take longer to heal, and that the broken hearts of the friends and relatives of those killed will never be put back together. For them, normal service will never be resumed.

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.

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How to terrify a Tory

On Tuesday and Wednesday the Scottish parliament is debating the bill to bring about a second Scottish indepedence referendum. The first day of debates was mature and thoughtful, allowing the advocates of Scotland remaining a part of the UK to introduce the truly vital and important arguments for their case. Arguments like those of Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who used the debate as an opportunity to highlight the truly crucial issues of the day, the fact that she thinks Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland is a bit smelly, and how it’s outrageous that she’s blocked on Twitter by the SNP MSP Christina Mckelvie.

The real issue of course, is the future of Scotland. Although to be fair the hugely important issue of Monica Lennon’s social media experience is considerably more pressing and vital than her party’s notion of a federal UK, because Monica’s blocking by Christina on Twitter is something that does actually exist in the real world. That however didn’t prevent many of her colleagues using the debate as an opportunity to waffle on about their federalism fantasy. There’s no desire for federalism in England, and if we’ve learned anything about the structure of the UK over the past few years it’s the lesson that politically speaking, England gets what England wants, and so do the other constituent parts of the UK.

But Labour just kept banging on about how they want federalism. I want to win the Euromillions lottery jackpot, and there is actually a quantifiable probabilty of my doing so. It’s a tiny probability, a probability that’s quite a lot smaller than the probability of being struck by lightning, but it does exist and it’s not zero. The probability of federalism ever being introduced in the UK is as close to zero as makes no difference.

But it’s worse than that. It’s not just that there’s no desire for it in England, and so zero chance of it ever coming about, it’s also that it’s incompatible with the one doctrine of the British constitution that the Unionists fetishise above all others – the absolute sovereignty of the Westminster parliament. You can’t have federalism under a system in which the Westminster parliament reserves to itself the right to abolish or change it whenever it suits Westminster. It’s not just that Labour has no answer to this problem, they don’t even seem to demonstrate any awareness that the problem exists.

Anyway, the federalism fairy was fulminating in Labour’s full-on fairytale fantasy on Tuesday. The only proper response to it likewise begins with an f, and is immediately followed by the word off. But fair’s fair, at least Labour was trying to put forward some sort of plan for the future of Scotland, however delusional and unrealistic it may be. On the Tory benches there was nothing but anger and contempt for the idea that Scotland should have any sort of say in its future at all. From neither Labour nor the Tories came any admission that there has been any sort of change in circumstances at all since 2014, and likewise they continued to trot out the same arguments that they’d come out with three years ago.

The Tories are apoplectic. Their version of Scottish Unionism means that Scotland should have no say whatsoever on Brexit, and they are outraged at any suggestion that Scotland should have a say. Scottish Tories want their country to be the only country in Europe which doesn’t have any input into Scotland’s relation with Europe. They want their pals in the UK government to have a free hand, they acknowledge that the governments of the 27 remaining EU members will likewise have their say. But the only people who don’t get to voice an opinion on where Scotland is headed as a country are the people of Scotland themselves. Scotland is the only country in Europe whose views on membership of the EU are irrelevant. As irrelevant as the Scottish Tories will be in the vote in Holyrood on Wednesday – because they’re going to lose it. Their anger and resentment was not unrelated to the fact that they know there is a majority in Holyrood for another referendum, and there’s nothing they can do to prevent the bill being passed.

Adam It’s The Law Tomkins decided to go on about Canada for some reason best known to himself. He also consistently referred to Scottish independence as secession throughout his spittle flecked frothing. Calling Scottish independence secession is a bit like referring to fleeing a dystopian nightmare with a crashing economy where you get told what’s going to happen to you for a better life in a different country where you get consulted on important decisions as “a trip to the airport”. There could be a queue! And you’ll be at the back of it.

The Tories have no vision for Scotland. All they offer is obedience to decisions that are made on Scotland’s behalf by a political class that has trouble locating us at the small end of the BBC weather map. The offer austerity. They offer xenophobia. They offer isolationism in Empire 2.0. They kept saying that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum, but what they really mean is that Unionists don’t want another referendum. What they really mean is that the Unionists refuse to acknowledge their failure to honour the promises and commitments they made to Scotland during the first referendum campaign. What they really mean is that they won’t admit that the real reason we’re having this debate now is because of them.

Mostly however, they kept banging on about division. Having spent the first referendum demonising independence supporters, and painting them as a cross between the Ku Klux Klan and a Twitter troll, now they say that it’s too divisive to have a second vote. But that’s what democracy is. Democracy is about differences of opinion, and debating them. Scotland is already divided, and we won’t resolve those divisions by brushing them under a Brexit carpet and pretending that they don’t exist. But that’s exactly what the Tories and Labour want. The question of Scotland’s relationship to the rest of the UK and the rest of Europe remains an open question, and it’s only by allowing the people to engage with that question and address it that we’ll ever have any chance as a nation of moving on from it. That’s democracy.

The Tories think that the way to cure a difference of opinion is by telling those who disagree with them to shut up. The Tories don’t want democracy, they want silence and obedience. They’re not going to get it. Scotland will have its say. Scotland will find its voice. And it’s a voice that’s going to say Yes to independence. That’s what the Tories are really terrified of.

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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The things Theresa forgot

That Mike Russell’s pretty pissed off, and quite right too. There he was, hanging on the phone on David Davis’s Brexit hotline and never getting an answer and being kept on hold, because now that the UK hate foreigners they had to give up their contract with the call centre in Mumbai, and then he has to discover from the telly that Article 50 will be triggered on March 29. Davie and Theresa couldn’t be arsed to inform the Scottish Government officially.

This may or may not be related to the fact that they’re in as much as a huff as the Huffy Fluffy because they’d wanted to trigger it last week, but then Nicola Sturgeon stole their thunder by announcing that there was going to be a second independence referendum. Although to be honest, the British government never had any intention of telling the Scottish government last week either. Besides, if the Scottish government want to know what that Brexit moment is going to feel like, they only need to stick a fork in a toaster. Even the one that won’t make David Coburn’s toast. It seems that the UK government has already been doing this, which goes a long way towards explaining the torn faces that Huffy Fluffy and Ruthie have been displaying all week.

Let’s be scrupulously fair however. The British government might have forgotten to inform the devolved administrations of the official triggering of Brexit, but they’ve forgotten plenty of other things too. So it’s understandable that something else might slip their mind. They forgot that this is 2017 and not 1817 and the UK is no longer a global power. They forgot that there’s no empire any more. They forgot that it’s the EU that holds all the negotiating cards in Brexit, and they made a call for everyone to get behind Theresa’s hard as nails Brexit while forgetting that 48% of people voted to remain. They forgot the difference between democracy and majoritarianism. They forgot a plan for Brexit. They forgot that the EU is going to do its utmost to ensure that whatever deal the UK gets when it leaves the EU it’s going to be worse than the deal it’s got just now as a part of it.

They forgot that just three years ago they were telling us that Scotland was an equal partner in a family of nations. They forgot that they promised we would remain a part of the EU if we voted against independence. They forgot to build those frigates on the Clyde. They forgot they promised those jobs in the tax centres in East Kilbride and Cumbernauld would be safe. They forgot the support that was promised for Scotland’s renewable energy industry. They forgot that we were supposed to get the most powerful devolved parliament in the history of the multiverse and the nearest thing possible to federalism.

It’s possible that, given that they’ve forgotten so many other things, the British government forgot that the BBC is supposed to be neutral and unbiased and not the propaganda arm of the British state and thought that by letting the Scottish government know via the television news that they were about to trigger Brexit that this counted as informing them through a British government channel. Maybe they thought that by treating the BBC as an official channel of UK government communication they could persuade recalcitrant independence supporters to pay their licence fee.

But back in the real world, as opposed to the world inhabited by Gordie Broon and Sky News in which full fat federalism is a real prospect, we all know that the British government didn’t forget to inform the Scottish or other devolved administrations at all. It just didn’t enter their arrogant heads in the first place that there was any reason why they ought to have informed them. It genuinely didn’t occur to them that Theresa May’s protestations that she was consulting the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments and keeping them fully informed would be interpreted in ways other than Theresa intended them to be interpreted – as meaningless sound bites for the benefit of an English media. It’s not that they forgot to inform the Scottish government. It’s that they didn’t care enough in the first place to bother. Scotland merits no greater consideration to the English nationalists of Torydom than any other possession of the crown.

Unionists accuse the SNP of grievance hunting, but that’s not true. The SNP doesn’t have to go hunting for grievances, the Tories hand them to them on a plate, tied up in a bow made from red white and blue bunting. Every time Theresa May opens her gob and says that the Union is precious, she’s providing another grievance, because everyone can see the difference between what Theresa says and what she does. She didn’t call the Scottish government because she wants to remind us of our place.

That’s a place where we do what we’re told, we’re grateful that Westminster manages our affairs for us, and we retreat to the kailyard telling bedtime stories for the benefit of tourists from Trowbridge and Taunton about how we used to be a real country once. We get to be the tartan ribbon that bedecks English nationalism that allows English nationalism to pretend that it’s not nationalism at all. Then we can turn on Sky News and listen to a panel of English voices explaining Scotland to us and be grateful for their wisdom and insight when they tell us that Scottish independence is based on hating the English and it has really been all about England all along.

The choice we have facing us in Scotland is a choice between determining our own future, or having that future determined for us by a government in Westminster that doesn’t think we’re important enough to keep us informed about its decisions. But there’s something even more important that the British government forgot. They forgot that Scotland has an alternative. They forgot that Scotland will have its say whatever Theresa thinks. And they forgot that the more they overlook the interests of Scotland, the more likely it becomes that Scotland will vote to forget them.

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.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Journey to Yes, N° 9

The latest instalment in PhantomPower’s inspiring Journey to Yes series. Mark says Yes. We follow different people’s fascinating journeys to Yes and self-determination for Scotland. Londoner and businessman Mark followed Scotland’s first independence debate closely and had been inspired by the Yes campaign with its progressive and inclusive values. After the Brexit result, Mark was impressed by Scotland’s pro-EU vote and the Scottish Government’s handling of events. In November 2016 Mark sold his London home and moved with business and family to set-up in Scotland and join the Yes campaign. Mark reflects on the UK Government’s handling of Brexit and Scotland’s huge potential as an enlightened, open and independent nation.
https://twitter.com/projectfarceuk
https://twitter.com/markmckergow
Ninth in the series.
If you’d like to share your journey to Yes – get in touch @ phantompower2014@gmail.com

A gas giant in a distant galaxy

It’s as predictable as a Unionist on social media playing the victim card, or as Ruth Davidson having the gall to think that as leader of an opposition who came a poor second she’s got the right to dictate to the Scottish government about something they’ve got a mandate to do, while simultaneously complaining that Scotland’s an SNP one party state. Scotland must be the only one party state in the universe in which a party that got a mere 22% of the vote thinks it’s got the right to determine government policy. But we expect these things. This is Scotland after all. This is what happens in a country that’s treated like a region, a nation that’s relegated to the same status as a county council.

As predictable as all these things is that every time the topic of Scottish independence rears its head, the hulking sulk of Gordie Broon hoves into view offering the pretty baubles of federalism like a fairy godmother who’s got herself confused with an ugly sister. There’s been an intervention. Only this time he really, really, means it. Honest to God and pinkie promise. Despite the fact that this is what he was offering way back in 2014 and swore on the life of the Labour party that he personally would sit on the Prime Minister’s doorstep until the offer was fulfulled, and then he pissed off to a lucrative directorship with a financial company instead while his own party along with the Tories and the Lib Dems treated his vow like toilet paper, this time he’s really serious. Honest. No laughing at the back there.

Let’s be honest and give Gordie the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that there’s no chance at all of Broon’s federalism fairy ever appearing and waving her magic sparkly wand, it’s just that the chances of it happening are pretty remote. There’s an airless planet orbiting a gas giant in a distant galaxy thousands of light years away, that sort of remote. It’s not that it doesn’t exist. It’s just that by the time anyone gets there we’ll all be long dead. Although come to think of it an airless planet orbiting a gas giant in a distant galaxy is not an unfair description of a Labour party in Scotland that’s still caught in Gordie’s gravity. Microbes which eke a meagre living under that planet’s icecap have a greater chance of forming the next government and introducing full fat federalism than Labour does.

The reporter on Sky News who’s attending the SNP conference in Aberdeen wasn’t able to bring on any SNP representatives to discuss Gordie’s proposals, because they were still creased over with laughter and unable to appear on camera without dissolving into a fit of hysterics. However he did insist that the federalism fairy was useful for the Unionist campaign, because there are people who think of politics as a Disney cartoon and think that they only need to find a magic wand and a pumpkin in order to get a great Brexit deal for Britain. The tragedy for the United Kingdom is that those people with their Disney cartoon view of reality are in charge of the British government. Although to be fair, they’ve already got the talking rodents.

There is as much chance of Theresa May announcing that she believes there’s a reasonable and strong case for Scottish independence, and actually giving a speech that wasn’t a succession of tautological soundbites as there is of anything that issues from Broon’s gob coming to pass. He had his chance when he was Prime Minister. He had a chance when there was still a Labour party with decent prospects of election. He did nothing except to look after his own selfish interests, and that fact is not unconnected with the fact that Labour in Scotland is now bouncing about in the bottom of the polls looking set to be overtaken by the Greens. Labour is in no condition to deliver anything at all, and Broon bears much of the responsibility for destroying his party’s credibility and election prospects. Whatever Broon says is as much an irrelevance as the man himself. The man couldn’t deliver an envelope even if his hand was guided towards the letter box.

What’s far more relevant than Gordie treading the carpet in a windowless room before an invited audience of press, is the dance that Nicola Sturgeon is leading Theresa May. That’s the real show, and Theresa is tripping over her kitten heels. Her apparent summary rejection of an independence referendum didn’t come from a position of strength, but of weakness. Even the possibility of a referendum severely undermines Theresa’s already weak hand in Brexit negotiations with the EU. She can only attempt to block Scotland from having a vote, but there are other routes to a referendum apart from the Scottish government seeking Westminster’s consent to a Section 30 Order. The more Theresa tries to block, the more she is seen to obstruct a clear mandate given to the SNP by the Scottish electorate in 2015 to hold a referendum if there was a material change in circumstances, the more likely she makes it that when a vote is finally held that she will lose it. Anything that Gordie comes out with is a mere attempt at distraction from the real show. And that’s a show that’s only going to end one way, with a Scottish referendum.

May’s Brexit strategy is in chaos. There is no plan, there is no planning. All there is is the hope that the EU will cave in and give Britain everything that Theresa wants. There’s no sign that they’re going to do so. It’s very much in the interests of the EU to ensure that whatever deal Britain gets from Brexit, it will leave it worse off than remaining a part of the EU. If leaving the EU leads to a country getting a better deal, then there’s no point to the EU at all. The 27 member states are going to do all the can to make sure that Britain’s interests suffer. They’re not doing that out of vindictiveness, but out of political necessity. There’s a very real prospect that the UK might end up with the worst of all possible worlds, and crash out of the EU with no deal at all.

Scotland has an escape plan. Scotland has a way out of this looming catastrophe, and we’re going to take it. Gordie Broon’s federalism fairy wand won’t distract us from the task ahead.

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

Or click HERE

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