The Spanish word for Schadenfreude

Petard, by, hoist, own, your. Arrange these words into a well known phrase or saying. It’s been a bad day for the Unionist parties. Remember how all those Unionist parties and their supporters were screaming to the rafters that there would be a Spanish veto? Well it turns out that they were right. It’s just that it’s not an independent Scotland that will be subject to a Spanish veto, it’s the UK’s Brexit. That’s what comes of giving Spain ideas about vetos.

The EU’s official reply to Theresa May’s Brexit letter has been received, and in paragraph 22 it says “After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom.”

This paragraph gives Spain what it said it wanted prior to Brexit, but which was ignored by a Unionist media that was far more interested in trumpeting a non-existent threat to veto an independent Scotland. It gives Spain an explicit veto power over any Brexit agreement that includes Gibraltar. That Spain was going to seek this explicit veto power was obvious to anyone who was paying attention. That doesn’t include much of the British media, and particularly not the Brexiteer branch which is now howling with outrage that their plans to take the UK into a dystopian neo-conservative tax haven have just run into a Spanish veto threat.

According to some reports today in the British media, the veto power that Spain now has to veto any Brexit deal that includes Gibraltar has come as a surprise. As I type this, the announcer on Sky News introduced a Brexiteer commentator and said that the Spanish veto seems to have caught a lot of analysts off guard. But it’s only come as a surprise to British nationalists who weren’t paying attention, and who were desperately trying to spin any statement from a Spanish official into a blow for Nicola Sturgeon while at the same time ignoring the things that the Spanish government was explicitly saying. Spain had loudly advertised its desire to seek a veto over Gibraltar, and it was very clear to anyone who had been following the statements of Spanish politicians instead of relying on what was filtered through the pages of the Express or the Telegraph.

The Spanish veto over Gibraltar won’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s been following this blog. Back in July last year I pointed out in this blog that Spain was going to veto any Brexit that included Gibraltar. Wee Ginger Dug 1, Metrocommentariat 0. I noted that the then Spanish foreign minister had stated that Spain would have the right to veto any Brexit deal including Gibraltar and that he said Spain would make it “clear that Gibraltar does not belong to the UK”. But none of the Unionist media outlets were interested, it didn’t suit their narrative that it was only an independent Scotland that needed to be worried about Spain.

In the cosmic scheme of things, Spain isn’t really particularly concerned about Scotland or Scottish independence. There is considerable sympathy for Scotland in Spain, even amongst people who are viscerally opposed to Catalan independence. Spanish people know that Scotland was an independent state for almost a thousand years before it merged with the Kingdom of England to form the UK. Scotland was in fact an independent state long before the Spanish state existed. In Spain’s view, Scottish independence can be managed, and as I’ve written numerous times in this blog before, vetoing Scottish membership of the EU would undermine the argument Spain has consistently made against permitting Catalan self-determination. Following Brexit, the Spanish government has made clear what some of us have been saying for a long time, they will not veto Scottish membership of the EU if Scotland becomes independent legally and constitutionally.

On the other hand, Spain is very interested indeed in the status of Gibraltar. The UK will not be permitted to waltz off into the Brexit sunset without coming to an agreement with Spain over the position of Gibraltar. The decision of voters in England and Wales to give majority support to Brexit gives Spain a massive advantage in future negotiations over the status of what’s called el Peñón in Spanish. That’s an advantage that Spain will press home to maximum effect. The Telegraph is suddenly outraged that Spain might wield a veto. They were pretty cheerful about it when they were claiming that it was Scotland which might be vetoed. Threats are just fine when they’re directed against Scotland. That’s the double standards of Unionism in full flow.

In other news, Theresa May’s cunning plan to block a Scottish referendum by claiming that she’s acting for the majority of Scots received a bit of a blow today. Is it OK to say “blow for Theresa May”? I have to ask seeing as how that’s a phrase you never seem to see in the newspapers on account of how it’s only ever Nicola Sturgeon that’s on the receiving end of them. On the day that Theresa received the official letter from Nicola requesting a Section 30 Order, an opinion poll was published showing that a large majority of voters in Scotland expect that it should be the Scottish Parliament which decides on whether and when a Scottish independence referendum should be held.

According to the poll, carried out by Survation, 61% of Scottish voters believe that it’s the Scottish Parliament and not Westminster which should have the right to decide. Theresa May’s high risk strategy of blocking a Scottish referendum looks like it’s going to end badly for her. By a very significant margin the people of Scotland believe that it’s their own parliament which should decide on a Scottish referendum, and they’re not going to look positively on an intransigent Tory party with just one MP and a mere 22% of Holyrood votes telling them that they can’t.

We’re only a couple of days into the Brexit process and already the fantasies of the Tories about facing down Scotland, and the fantasies of the Brexiteers about how the EU would fall over itself to give Britain everything it wanted have crashed into the hard brick wall of reality. Now where’s that Spanish dictionary, I want to look up the word for Schadenfreude.

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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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Vote nude erection

It was pretty obvious during the recent debates in Holyrood on whether to hold a referendum on independence that the Unionist parties were in collusion. One after another they lined up and made objections that were very clearly singing from the same song sheet. They sang a dicordant dirge of wailing, and not once did any of them acknowledge the reality that we are only in this position of a second referendum because of the failures of those same Unionist parties to fulfil the promises they made to the people of Scotland. Scottish democracy was frozen in ice in 2014. Nothing that’s happened since matters, nothing that’s happened since counts. And their objections all sounded suspiciously coordinated.

So it was scarcely surprising that according to a report in The National earlier this week, the Tories (spit, spit), Labour (derisory scoff), and the Lib Dems (who?) have had secret meetings in order to plot how to derail the call for Scottish independence and for another referendum. So that would be that Labour party that claimed it had learned the lesson from 2014 that collaborating with the Tories was as electorally toxic as Tory list nonentity Annie Wells claiming that the Scottish Parliament isn’t legitimate. It seems the only lesson that they learned was that you shouldn’t collaborate with the Tories if there are cameras present. If there are none present then collaboration is just fine and you can keep up the pretence that you’re opposed to nationalism.

Despite the claims of certain Labour representatives that they oppose nationalism, they are perfectly happy to act as enablers of the Conservatives’ right wing xenophobic British nationalism. Even, shamefully, to the point of opposing a Green amendment to allow EU citizens and 16 and 17 year olds to vote.

However let’s get this clear once and for all. Labour’s claimed opposition to nationalism is a pretence. Supporting the continuation of the British state does not mean you oppose nationalism. It just means you oppose the Scottish variety. It most certainly does not place you on some higher moral plane. In fact it puts you on a lower one. It puts you on a lower plane of at worst hypocrisy, or at best a staggering lack of self-awareness. If you really oppose Scottish independence because you oppose nationalism then you should also be arguing and campaigning for the abolition of the British state and the formation of one world government. If you oppose Scottish independence and campaign for the continuation of the British state, because you claim that Scots must demonstrate a solidarity with workers in England and Wales that they don’t have to demonstrate with workers in Spain, Germany or Poland, then you’re not opposed to nationalism. You’re still a nationalist whether you choose to accept the term or not. You’re just a British nationalist.

The question of Scottish independence from the UK is not a question of nationalism versus non-nationalism, it’s a question of an outward looking progressive civic nationalism that seeks to engage with the rest of the world versus an inward looking xenophobic nationalism that withdraws into itself and comforts itself with nostrums of a long lost empire. The British state is not a non-nationalist project. Labour politicians who say they are opposed to nationalism are less self aware than a British nationalist, they’ve allowed themselves to become a useful tool of British nationalism. They help it to disguise its true nature. After the triggering of Article 50, there can be no pretence anymore that the British state is anything but a nakedly nationalist project.

Getting the Project Fear band back together has been provisionally christened New Direction, which sounds like a third rate boy band. And to be fair, that’s pretty much what it is. It belts out the greatest hits of Empire and channels Vera Lynn. The New Direction is a very old direction. It’s taking us backwards in time to an imaginary Britain that never really existed. It’s a cover for the Tory attempt to transform the UK into a low tax country with a minimum of public services. That’s a country that turns its back on the poor, the low paid, the disabled and the marginalised and glorifies its military might while the unemployed trudge to foodbanks and the homeless beg in the street. There’s nothing new about the UK’s new direction. Welcome to the Victorian age. That’s no direction at all.

Most of us, on hearing the name, immediately thought it sounded like Nude Erection. That’s because we’re Scottish. Although Johann Lamont tells us that we’re not genetically programmed to make our own decisions, being Scottish means we are genetically programmed for lower bodily function humour. Since Nude Erection are very keen to tell us that they’re Proud-Scots-but, it’s surprising that the organisers of Unionist campaigns don’t factor this into their sloganeering. The truly surprising thing is that they keep on doing it.

What we get from the Unionists is a series of campaign titles and slogans that subconsciously speak about penises. A psychologist would probably tell you it’s an attempt at over compensation because in the twenty first century the UK is as flaccid as an elderly compulsive masturbator who has been reduced to flicking through a book of photos of from the Donald Trump fan club in a vain attempt to get his jollies and restore the glory days of the past and who can’t afford the viagra because the Tories are going to privatise the NHS. Which isn’t that bad a description of the British government, come to think of it.

There’s Nude Erection now, so called because it’s full of over-extended bell ends with red faces. Then in the last campaign we had the risible Vote Knob Orders campaign with their wee ditty about not building a wall unless it had a glory hole in it. And then we had the stickers saying U KOK plastered all over lampposts the length and breadth of the country, but especially in the doucer regions, which isn’t a euphemism. What is it with the Unionist obsession with phallic symbolism? They are truly obsessed with big dicks. And then you look at Liam Fox and Michael Gove and all becomes clear.

The UK’s messaging is obsessed with penises because no matter how much they lie, no matter how much they dissemble, subconsciously they can’t help but let the truth come out, they’re going to shaft Scotland.

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.

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

Off the Brexit cliff

The Tories and their little helpers in the Labour party in Scotland have shown themselves in their true colours. The Tories with their arrogant contempt for democracy and refusal to accept votes which don’t go their way, and a Labour which is so blinded by its tribal hatred of the SNP that it’s acting as an enabler for the very sort of nationalism that it claims to oppose. Theresa May has pushed us all off the Brexit cliff, and Scottish Tory after Scottish Tory has lined up to push Scotland off along with the rest of the country and together with Labour they’re taking a knife to our parachute. Make no mistake, this is a direct assault on Scottish democracy. This is an attempt by Westminster’s little helpers to ensure that Scotland cannot have a say, cannot have a voice, cannot have a choice in its future. And it must be resisted by every legal means possible.

The Tory government, through the office of its single solitary beard munching Scottish MP, has said that’s it’s not going to enter negotiations with the Scottish government before the end of the Brexit process. Before, in other words, the Westminster government has negotiated away Scotland’s resources and assets, before it’s ensured that European citizens resident in Scotland will be deprived of a say in the future of the country that they’ve come to call home.

Labour is fine with this. Labour says it opposes nationalism but it doesn’t know what nationalism is, because if it did then it wouldn’t side with the Tories’ vicious British nationalism. Labour doesn’t oppose nationalism. Their solidarity depends on you being British. They shamefully voted against allowing EU citizens to have a say in Scotland’s future – apparently they hate nationalism but think that it can only be opposed by people with British passports. But of course it’s not that they hate nationalism. They hate the SNP, and they hate the SNP more than they hate the destruction that the Tories are wreaking on the UK and refuse to countenance a Scotland that might escape from it. You need multiverse theory to account for the contempt which Labour provokes in anyone who understands what democracy and socialism are really about, because that contempt is larger than the universe that we’re currently in.

The Unionists on social media howl in derision and disdain, but like Labour they can’t see past their hatred for the SNP to realise that what the Tories are doing is mounting a coup against the entire concept of democracy in Scotland. The Scottish Parliament has spoken, and that’s bigger than the SNP. Refusing to recognise a vote in the Scottish Parliament disrespects Scotland, disrespects all of Scotland’s voters irrespective of their views on the constitution, and it disrespects the long struggle to achieve a Scottish Parliament in the first place. Because the entire point of that struggle for a Scottish Parliament during the bitter and bleak years of Thatcher’s rule was so that Scotland would have a voice when it was faced with a government in Westminster that it didn’t vote for.

“The SNP doesn’t respresent Scotland!” the Unionists cry. And that would be true. But what happened yesterday was that the Scottish Parliament voted, by a majority of ten votes, for there to be a second referendum. The Scottish Parliament does speak for Scotland. It’s the only voice Scotland has. That’s how democracy works. The Unionists want to substitute the legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament for opinion polls. But you could bet your house that if there was a series of opinion polls showing a majority for independence those Unionists would be the very last people to say that there was no need for a vote and Scotland should become independent forthwith.

The contempt for Scotland is summed up by the Tory MSP Annie Wells, who said on STV that she refused to recognise the vote taken in Holyrood on Tuesday. If Glasgow list MSP Annie Wells doesn’t accept the legitimacy of a majority vote in Holyrood, the Parliament in which she sits, then if she had the slightest sense of decency she would resign. But of course she has no sense of decency. She’s a Tory, she has the opposite of a sense of decency. She’ll continue to take her salary that’s paid for by the taxes of Scottish taxpayers, she’ll continue to sit in the Parliament and enjoy a position that allows her a public profile, and she’ll continue to deny the legitimacy of the place that gives her the privileges that she continues to benefit from. Annie Wells is the epitome of hypocrisy in a party that stands for hypocrisy. As a list MSP, her constituency is the whole of Glasgow, and the whole of Glasgow should hold her to account.

We’re now living in exactly the kind of country that the Unionists warned us against back in the referendum campaign in 2014. Parochial, inward-looking, driven by nostalgia and a romantic vision of an airbrushed past, nursing grievances against historic enemies, with an unrealistic sense of its own importance and an unshakable sense of its own self-importance. Today the headline in a pro-Brexit newspaper was FREEDOM!, because it’s OK to channel Braveheart when you’re British.

Britain has embarked upon its project of epic self-harm. European leaders are lining up to warn the UK that Brexit is going to be painful for Britain. The Brexiteers with the delusions of glowing opportunities and countries queueing up to do trade deals are about to come up against the hard reality of an EU that has a vested interest in ensuring that Brexit does not end well for Britain. It’s not a question of malice. It’s simply that if a nation is better off by leaving the EU then there’s no point to the EU, so the EU has an existential reason to make sure that Britain isn’t better off. Theresa has invoked Article 50, and now the EU will begin to turn the screw.

Theresa May wants us all to unite behind her and her vision for Brexit. That’s not going to happen. The only way that we’ll get behind Theresa and her Tories is so we can push them off the Brexit cliff while we remain behind. We will resist them with every fibre, with every thought and deed. Theresa May might think that she can stop Scotland from having a voice, but she’s going to be sadly disappointed. If she continues to obstruct us, there are other paths to a vote. And Scottish democracy will win. Theresa’s pushing us off the cliff, but it’s her precious Union that’s going to smash on the Brexit rocks below.

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

Now is the time

The Scottish Parliament has voted to press ahead with a new Scottish independence referendum. The unstoppable farce of Theresa May’s arrogance has crashed into the immovable objections of a Scotland that seeks a different path. Green and SNP MSPs stood up and one after another spoke about a better Scotland, a Scotland that has a right to decide its own fate, a Scotland in which decisions should be put in the hands of the people. And one after another Unionist MSPs got up and spoke about how Scotland should remain silent and do what it’s told by Westminster, blind to the irony that they were demanding that those in favour should respect democracy while they sought to prevent the people from having their say.

According to Unionists, the only vote in Scotland that matters is the 2014 referendum vote. It doesn’t matter that we’ve had other votes since. It doesn’t matter that the people of Scotland voted for a pro-independence majority in Holyrood in 2016. It doesn’t matter that the people of Scotland voted for a massive majority of SNP MPs in 2015. It doesn’t matter that the the promises and commitments that the Unionists made to the people of Scotland in 2014 in order to win that No vote were ignored, traduced, and dumped the second that the result was in. All that matters to them is that they regard the 2014 result as a carte blanche which allowed them to rule forever. And then they preach about democracy. Democracy means that politicians must be held accountable for the promises that they make. Ask a Unionist politician how Scotland can hold them accountable for the promises made in 2014 and you’ll get told to respect the result of the referendum.

Despite the appeals for a mature, grown up and respectful debate, Ruth Davidson’s speech was nasty, snide, and unpleasant. Rather like her party, come to think of it. She proved that her much-hyped political skills were exactly that – hype from a press pack that used to count her as one of their number. The mark of a real political operator is grace when facing defeat. Ruth showed no grace. Instead there was the unpleasant whiff of entitlement and privilege. The real face of the Tories was on display. Ruth’s veneer slipped and showed us that the nasty party was still as nasty as it ever was.

It was a speech born of frustration. Frustration that despite her efforts she won’t be able to prevent the Scottish parliament from voting in favour of another referendum. Frustration that there’s nothing she or her pals in Westminster can do to prevent another referendum happening. And frustration that once the referendum takes place she’ll be the Tory face of Unionism and attempting to defend a Britain that’s plunging off the cliff edge of Brexit. Frustration that her boss’s precious union is in its last days, and frustration that it’s in its last days because of the failures and duplicity of the unionist parties which claimed to cherish it. All Ruth had left was her unparliamentary shout at Nicola Sturgeon to sit down. But it’s Ruth who’s on the naughty step.

She was backed up by Baby Fluffy in a puffy huffy. Oliver Mundell accused the Scottish government of intransigence, moments after telling the chamber that Scotland couldn’t have another referendum because his da had said naw. It’s not really clear what else Baby Fluffy said, because as soon as he opens his gob normal people have the urge to poke rusty knitting needles in their eardrums and I’d stopped listening because I value my hearing.

But even a Baby Fluffy’s guff appeared statesmanlike and adult in comparison to Murdo Fraser’s intervention. He railed against the Greens, and came dangerously close to suggesting that the Scottish Parliament is illegitimate. He showed he had no class, and no manners. If he truly believes that the route to winning a referendum is by insulting Green voters, and by using his parliamentary privilege to heap scorn on voters who seek reassurances for their EU partners, he’s as well admitting that he’s already lost. I’ve always said that the greatest single factor leading to Scotland becoming independent would be the actions and inadequacies of the Unionist parties. Murdo gave a perfect illustration of that point. Murdo’s was the angry face of a Unionist who sees his Union being killed off by Unionists but who refuses to accept any responsibility for it.

Labour’s James Kelly managed to impress. No really. It was very impressive that anyone could deliver a speech that was even snider and nastier than Ruth’s, but James managed it. Previously notable only for his ability to make a tub of lumpy wallpaper paste seem charismatic and engaging, in an epic rewriting of history James insisted that the last independence debate was characterised by violence, abuse and intimidation from independence supporters. People opposed to independence were chased up the streets by pamphlet bearing cybernats, he puffed, like a red balloon on the verge of bursting. Naturally, this wasn’t something he’d experienced himself, because whenever James appears in a public street people flee in the opposite direction in case he bores them to death with his views on the number of social housing units built by the Scottish government and how this means we can’t possibly consider independence.

The talk of division is deliberate. The Unionists want to get people to disengage from the independence debate. They want the country to be passive and quiet as it accepts the decisions made for us by Westminster. They’re creating divisions, creating nastiness, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. They say they want to heal the divisions in Scotland, but you don’t heal a division by telling the people who disagree with you to shut up. You don’t heal divisions by pretending they don’t exist, and you certainly don’t heal them by demanding that Scotland doesn’t get a say on the cause of the supposed divisions. You heal them by airing the arguments, by discussion, and by a vote.

It’s not for Ruth Davidson, who came a very distant second in the Scottish parliamentary elections to tell Scotland when the time is. The Scottish parliament has spoken. It has voted, and it’s voted to give the people a say in their future. It’s up to Westminster now to dare to refuse to accept the democratic will of the Scottish people, and if they do all they’ll succeed in doing is hastening the end of Theresa’s precious union. If Theresa May overrules the democratic will of the Scottish parliament the United Kingdom is already dead and all that’s left is to discuss the funeral arrangements. It’s not for Theresa May to tell us when the time is. It’s for the people of Scotland and their elected representatives. And we say now is the time.

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.

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

Innovative jam 2.0

There’s been a visit! It’s a bit like when they say “there’s been a murrdurr” on Taggart, and when it’s a visit involving Theresa May it’s equally corpse like. Our Prime Minister is travelling to the small end of the weather map of her Precioussss Union on Monday, and according to the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, which is the propaganda arm of the Scottish Tories, she’s going to make Scotland a Brexit offer that’s so good there will be no need for a second independence referendum. And if you believe that then Gordie Broon has a vow he would like to interest you in.

Theresa’s on a charmless offensive.  Her new offer is going to be Innovative Jam 2.0. There will be a hint of some powers, temporary powers according to the advance reports. Because naturally what’s going to dissuade people in search of permanent sovereign powers for Scotland is a hint that they might be allowed on a slightly longer leash for a restricted period of time. It’s like hoping that a homeless person will give up striving for a home of their own because you’ve told them that you’re thinking about giving them the loan of a kagoule, for a limited period of time. It’s risible. It’s insulting. And it’s even more insulting to the intelligence of the people of Scotland that a supposedly serious newspaper is touting it as a substantial and meaningful offer.

But then we’ve had a lot of that of late. The barrage of Project Fear and Project Invisible Jam has got off to an early start. The Unionists are going into this new referendum in the knowledge that they could easily lose it, whereas it took several months of campaigning during the first independence referendum before the penny dropped that the Better Together campaign could lose. The Unionist parties are entering this second campaign at the fever pitch of hysteria with which they ended the last one. Independence campaigners should never take anything for granted, but it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the Unionist campaign will collapse long before it gets to the finish line. When you start from hysteria and panic, where else can you go? The law of diminishing returns has already started to bite.

By this time next year they’ll be telling us that independence will cause an outbreak of bubonic plague, giant rats will take over our cities, and there will be a zombie attack – although to be fair a zombie attack is pretty indistinguishable from how the Unionist parties are behaving just now. No one will believe them except the trolls on Twitter who bear their Wings Over Scotland blocking numbers as a badge of pride, who will revel in each outlandish threat and retweet it with glee while assuring themselves that they’re Proud Scots.

Labour has already started to promise all the things it promised the last time round without the slightest shred of self-awareness that they told us they were in favour of all these things in 2014 and then they spent 2015 gutting the Smith Commission proposals. Their proposals for federalism are getting wall to wall coverage in a media that’s desperate for some jam since they know that the innovative jam 2.0 that’s on offer from the Tories isn’t much of a sweetener. All the Tories have to promise is the epic catastrophe of Brexit, and there’s not much anyone, even a diehard Unionist, can do to paint that in an attractive light, so they’re just pretending that it’s not really happening and that there’s been no change in circumstances to trigger a second Scottish referendum. They keep telling us that the economic outlook for independence looks uncomfortable, while ignoring what is by comparison the barren wasteland of Brexit that would make even Mad Max throw up his hands in surrender.

It’s the usual schtick from the Westminster playbook. Appease with a vague promise of something non-specific, then as soon as they get what they want they betray by claiming that whatever it was they were hinting about was never really on the table to begin with. It sounds like when a Prime Minister assured the people of Scotland that Scotland was an equal partner which could lead within a family of nations. Only as soon as the vote was in and had gone his way we discovered that it had really been all about English votes for English laws all along, and none of the promises were fulfilled.

It all sounds terribly like when a Prime Minister promised that a No vote would “open a way for all parties to explore together a lasting alternative arrangement which can enjoy the support of the whole British people.” That was Margaret Thatcher a few days before the ill-fated referendum of 1979, when Scotland voted 52% in favour of Home Rule, but the proposal fell by the wayside because Westminster had ruled that 52% didn’t take support over an arbitrary qualifying line. Thatcher took the failure of the Home Rule provision as a mandate to interpret exactly as she pleased, and for the next two decades the Tories fiercely resisted any suggestion that Scotland should have any say in its own governance. By a quirk of fate, 52% support in a more recent referendum has given another Prime Minister a mandate to interpret exactly as she pleases, and she’s interpreting it as resisting any suggestion that Scotland should have any say in its own governance.

May has interpreted a vote that we were told was about restoring the sovereignty of the British parliament as a mandate to allow her to embark on the greatest power-grab that the Prime Minister’s office has ever seen. She wants Parliament to pass a bill, her so-called Great Repeal Bill, that will allow her and her ministers to repeal or modify law by ministerial decree. She’s already tried to avoid parliamentary scrutiny of her Brexit plans, if this bill passes, she can avoid any scrutiny while she scraps EU measures like employment rights. That’s the real jam that’s on offer. It’s sweet for Theresa and the Tories, but bitter for the rest of us. Scotland will be left naked and exposed to the malice of the Tories.

We’ve been here before, too many times before. The promises, the innovative jam 2.0, the appeasement, the betrayal that inevitably follows. And all in order to prevent the people of Scotland having a democratic voice, having the right to decide on their own future after the future that the Unionist parties promised us in 2014 was trashed by the Unionist parties themselves. The real reason they are terrified is because another referendum means that it’s their record which will be left naked and exposed. And Scotland will judge it harshly.

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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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


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