Zen and the art of Conservative political messaging

Theresa May has come and spoken to the people of Scotland! But don’t get too excited. Actually it’s kind of superfluous telling people not to get too excited by Theresa May because there are wallpaper pastes which are more attractive a prospect than a Prime Ministerial speech. And wallpaper paste actually serves a useful purpose for people other than the wallpaper paste, which is a whole lot more than you can say for anything that issues from the repetitive and robotic gob of Theresa May. There are electronic lift floor announcements which have more flexibility and spontaneity. And more humanity and compassion too. An elevator voice announcement wouldn’t ever have come up with the rape clause or home office vans telling people to grass up their neighbours for deportation.

Anyway. Theresa May did come and speak, although it’s pushing it somewhat to say that she came and spoke to the people of Scotland. She came and spoke in a hut in a forest near Banchory and was kept well away from any of the great unwashed Scottish public who might have asked her something that wasn’t covered by one of her stock phrase responses. Which begs the question, if a Prime Minister speaks in a forest and there’s no one there to hear her, has she really said anything at all? That’s a zen-like question which is infinitely more philosophical and deep than anything you’ll ever get from Theresa. Although to be fair that wouldn’t be hard.

The Tories do inadvertently provide the answers to any number of philosophical questions however. Such as – what is the sound of one hand clapping? It’s the sound of Theresa May slapping you on the face when you dare to ask what’s happening to your human rights after she’s removed the Human Rights Act and replaced it with her so-called British Bill of Rights. Does free will exist? Now is not the time. Or, if the only thing I know is that I know nothing, then I must have been listening to Theresa May telling an interviewer what Brexit means. Or, if I go back in time and kill my own grandfather, does that mean that I wouldn’t have to see a staged and entirely artificial Conservative party political broadcast masquerading as a news event? It’s zen and the art of Tory party political messaging. It’s a bit like ruining yourself financially by spending all your money on getting stoned, only without any of the pleasure.

The hut was in an area without mobile phone or internet coverage. The Tories picked it because it serves as a metaphor for the kind of country that they want to turn Britain into. Isolated, lost in the woods, and with the same kind of infrastructure that you’d expect in the 1960s. Somewhere deep in those woods there’s a lost soul, condemned to wander alone in the cold and the wind for all eternity. On wild winter nights you can hear their hopeless wails and screams. That’s what happened to a member of the public who had turned up in the hope that Theresa May would answer one of their questions.

The event had been booked in Crathes Community Hall by the local Tory party who told the hall management that they were hosting a children’s party. That’s probably the most honest thing that the Conservatives have ever said. After all, the hall was full of balloons and they had a main act who has a propensity for wearing a clown suit, and who told fairy stories in simple and repetitive language to reassure little children who haven’t thought through the logical implications of what they’re being taught.

Our TV news is full of these events. Politician goes off to party event, repeats the same soundbites that they’ve been saying on previous newsoid occasions in front of a handpicked audience of local party faithful who are all bunched up behind the politician in an attempt to make it look like there’s a huge crowd, and then it’s plastered all over the telly like something significant actually happened. The press know it’s a farce. The political party knows it’s a farce. And the public knows it’s a farce too. What really happened was that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom came to Scotland and then hid in a shed deep in the woods of rural Aberdeenshire where her aides could make sure she was kept far away from anyone who might criticise her. It says a lot about her unpopularity that she had to hide in a hut in a forest in the middle of nowhere. Even Gordie Broon’s manufactured press events managed to happen in places which are actually inhabited, even if they weren’t inhabited by Gordie’s supporters. In Tory Scotland, bears don’t shit in the woods, Theresa May bullshits in the woods.

But the press goes along with the charade because if they don’t then their reporters won’t get access to the politician on those increasingly rare occasions when there’s a chance for proper questions to be put. Although when those questions are put the politican doesn’t answer them anyway, instead repeating the same nostrums that they want to get into the press that day. Theresa May’s sole political talent is the ability to never knowingly give a straight answer to a direct question. This is the farcical make believe that is hollowing out democracy. This is why people are losing faith in politics and losing faith in the media that reports on it.

On the same day that Theresa gave a demonstration of practical philosophy in a hut in a forest near Banchory, the EU told her that EU citizens resident in the UK need guarantees on their status, and there will be no trade talks with the UK until they get them. Theresa May said that she called this general election in order to strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU, but the truth is that she’ll get the Brexit deal that the EU deign to give her, and that’s going to be a deal that will leave the UK worse off than it was as an EU member. That’s simple realpolitik.

Zen teaches that reality is an illusion. We don’t need zen to see the truth of that message. Theresa May’s politics are an entire lesson in illusion, but one day soon the reality of EU negotiations is going to bring Theresa’s illusions crashing down to Earth, and no amount of hiding in a hut in a forest in Aberdeenshire will ensure that she can dodge the Brexit bullet that’s heading straight for the heart of her government.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wgd-29th-april-2017

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


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

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

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

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

The Prime Ministerial Parrot

The Prime Ministerial Parrot visited Aberdeenshire on Saturday to squawk a few sound bites at some business where the employees were instructed to stand in silence, then repeated them before an invited audience of Tories who clapped like trained seals. Strong and stable! Coalition of Chaos! Precious Union! Now is not the time! Theresa wants a cracker! Then the entire charade will be reported in the press as though the Prime Ministerial Parrot had made an intervention in Scotland and had bravely dared to take her squawks, sorry, message, into the SNP’s heartland. At no point in the process will she be confronted by any Scottish person who might dare to say to her, “No Theresa, ye cannae get a cracker.”

Theresa May represents the final apotheosis of the trend that was begun by Margaret Thatcher in the 80s, when the Tories’ other female leader started the transformation of the office of Prime Minister into that of an elected dictator. A dictator moreover, who was elected on a deeply unrepresentative electoral system. The trend was strengthened under Tony Blair with his sofa government, in which all power was concentrated into the hands of Tony and a small group of his associates. The most notable power struggle throughout the Blair years being that between Blair and his former ally Gordie Broon. Under what passes for a constitution in the UK there were never any real checks and balances against the concentration of power in the office of the Prime Minister, and throughout the last few decades successive PMs have taken full advantage of that fact. Parliament has been reduced to process of rubber stamping by a mass of minions. The supposedly collegiate cabinet in which the PM was once merely the first amongst equals has transformed into a yadda-yadda of yespersons. Whatever a PM with a majority wants, a PM with a majority gets.

Now Theresa May is taking the dictatorisation of British politics to its logical conclusion. The only reason this election was called in the first place was to ensure absolute power for Theresa May. Once she secures her crushing majority, there will be no checks and balances on Theresa. There will be no way to hold her to account. There will be no limit to her authority. And that’s exactly how she likes it. The British parliamentary system began as an attempt to prevent a monarch exercising absolute power, and it’s transformed into a system in which the Prime Minister exercises absolute power instead, and does so even though he or she is elected by less than half the votes cast.

It’s not even as though Theresa May is specific about what she wants to do with the power that she craves. All we get a soundbites that could just as easily be squawked by a parrot, and a complete refusal from Theresa May to put herself in any situation where she might be forced to answer questions, never mind debate and defend her policies. That’s the fate of the UK in the 21st century, to be subject to the absolute power of a dictatorial parrot. Theresa wants a cracker! Theresa wants obedience! And just like a parrot, Theresa makes sure that the newspaper is covered in crap.

Obstensibly the reason for this general election is to strengthen Theresa May’s hand in negotiations with the EU. In what way exactly does gaining an even larger majority in a domestic parliament strengthen her hand in negotiations with the EU? Does she honestly believe that the rest of the EU is going to say “Oh well, Theresa May’s got a bigger majority in Westminster now, so we’d better give her want she wants in negotiations.” Because Poland is going to surrender the rights of Polish citizens in Peterborough because Theresa May achieved a larger majority. Spain is going to give up on its claims to Gibraltar because more people in Wiltshire voted Tory. Germany is going to stop trying to attract financial service industries formerly based in London because a Conservative MP in Kent was reelected with a larger majority.

It’s such an obvious nonsense, yet her acolytes in the media and her party don’t challenge or question her, and Theresa does her utmost to ensure that no one can ask her any questions. And on those occasions when she does get asked a question, she squawks her parrot replies. Strong and stable! Brexit means Brexit! Theresa wants absolute power! OK, maybe not that last one.

Derek Bateman pointed out in a recent blog that despite their much vaunted revival, this current bunch of Scottish Tories are the weakest in history. There are no occasions on which David Mundell or Ruth Davidson have stood up to their boss and said that Scotland needs to do things differently. This is a marked contrast to the Scottish Tories of the past, who saw it as their responsibility to ensure that Scottish distinctiveness had a voice in the corridors of power. Mundell and Davidson see their job as being the voice of the corridors of power in Scotland. They don’t exist to represent Scotland in the Union, they exist to represent the Union in Scotland. Determining how that Union is constituted, shaping that Union, ensuring that Scotland’s voice is heard at the highest levels of the Union, that’s not their job. Their job is to deliver Scotland into the claws of the elected dictatorship of the Prime Ministerial Parrot.

Labour are Unionists. The Lib Dems are Unionists. For all their blind opposition to independence those parties at least seek some form of devolutionary settlement in which Scotland’s distinctiveness can be represented. The Tories don’t. The Tories stand for incorporation. They want a weakened and neutered Scottish parliament. They strive for a Scotland in which opposition is silenced and which is forced to bend its knee and submit to the will of the Prime Ministerial Parrot. When the Tories say that they will stand up for the Union, what they mean is that they will enforce the will of an increasingly dictatorial Prime Minister in Scotland. They stand for the destruction of one of the last remaining power bases in order to further the concentration of all power in the hands of the Prime Minister’s office. The reality is that when the Conservatives describe themselves as Unionists, they’re lying. They’re incorporationists. Scotland for them is just another perch from which the Prime Ministerial Parrot can squawk her soundbites. The Tories stand for the slow death of Scottish, and British, democracy.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-29th-april-2017

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


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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


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

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

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

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

The nasty divisiveness of Scottish Unionism

The Tories were right. Scottish politics is divisive and nasty. But the problem for the Tories is that it’s them who are the primary source of the divisiveness and nastiness. The thing is that when you spend your entire time screaming at the top of your voice that the normal processes of a healthy democracy are nasty, vile, and divisive, the people who believe you are your own supporters, and that in turn provokes them into nasty, vile, and divisive behaviour. You’ve just brought into being your very own self-fulfilling prophecy, and then you can pat yourself on your smug back about how right you were to complain that Scottish politics are divisive and nasty, because the nastiness of your own supporters is proof in your own eyes of the nastiness of the parties you oppose.

Of course the Tories neither support, condone, or are responsible for the events on Wednesday, an act which was most assuredly carried out by a single nutcase acting alone. But when you base your entire political strategy on stoking up fear and preaching hysteria, you bear a moral responsibility when the more extreme elements amongst your supporters go off the deep end. When you spend your political life screaming “There’s a monster!” you have a moral culpability when your own supporters get out the torches and the pitchforks.

On Wednesday a letter containing suspected anthrax spores was sent to the council offices in Forfar along with the message “Get SNP out, Tories in”. Police, ambulances, and the fire brigade descended on the town centre. The centre of Forfar was closed down to the public for a number of hours. Although there were thankfully no injuries and no one has suffered any damage to their health, the cost to the public purse of the emergency service operations runs into the thousands. Let’s be clear, this was a terrorist incident. If you send a package containing a substance purporting to be anthrax spores along with a message making it clear that your target is the SNP, that is an action designed to provoke fear and terror for a political end. That’s the definition of terrorism. That’s a threat to use biological weapons – whether the substance turns out to be genuine or not.

Wednesday’s incident came just a few days after a suspected package was delivered to the offices of East Dunbartonshire SNP MP John Nicolson. That, thankfully, turned out according to some reports to be a crushed biscuit and some glittery substance. Police say that the incident was definitely malicious. Although the package was nothing dangerous police are clear that it was sent in an attempt to cause fear and alarm. That too is terrorism. The identity of the biscuit has not been revealed, but this could turn out to be the world’s very first use of a Tunnock’s caramel log as a weapon of terrorism.

And the response in the Scottish Unionist media to these incidences of Unionist terrorism, one of which shut down a Scottish town centre and terrified council staff putting them in fear for their lives? Silence. Compare and contrast with the wall to wall coverage of suspected terrorist attacks directed against the British state.

The Scottish media gave more coverage to the appalling and terrifying outbreak of a Yes sticker on the door of Labour MP Ian Murray’s constituency office. Oh my god there’s been a sticker! That’s vandalism. That’s a crime you know. Some poor Labour person might have been badly injured when they attempted to peel that sticker off the door. Just think of the effort and the expense as they tried to prise a hateful sticker saying YES off that door, while blinded by tears of anguish. And will no one think of the paintwork! Have you any idea how much it costs to get paint matched in Homebase? Probably not, because you’re a vile and selfish nationalist.

But when the SNP are targeted by a Unionist with what purports to be an actual biological weapon, a weapon condemned the world over as a crime against humanity and which is legally defined as such, they look the other way. Well, it was just the actions of some isolated bampot wasn’t it. And it wasn’t really anthrax was it. Let’s get things into perspective eh? Anyway, yes supporters have no right to get upset, because their extremists commit crimes too after all. Look, someone put yes stickers on a statue of Donald Dewar. That’s vandalism that is. That was a real crime that caused real damage so it did. Nicola Sturgeon should condemn.

If an independence supporter had been stupid, selfish, and nasty enough to commit the exact same offence. If the only difference had been that the letter containing suspected anthrax spores had come with the message “Get the Tories out, SNP in”, you can be certain that it would be the lead item in the Scottish press today and for weeks to come. It would set off paroxysms of debate and discussion in which independence supporters were invited by the media to defend the cause of independence, a cause which so clearly would be associated with terrorism in the eyes of a media which would then define Scottish independence as a terrorist proposition, characterised by violence and extremism. The actions of a single nutcase acting alone would be taken to be characteristic of the wider yes movement as a whole. There would be tv debates and endless media discussion about how Scottish nationalism was inextricably linked to extremism and terrorism.

But this wasn’t an instance of pro-independence terrorism, it was an instance of pro-Union terrorism. Because it was pro-Unionist then the media refuses to see it as in any way characteristic of the cause of Unionism. That’s the cause of Unionism that’s supported by your actual fascists like Britain First. All movements have their nutcase fringe, but the double standards of Unionism mean that the independence movement is defined and characterised by the nasty words that its nutcases post on Twitter, but the cause of Unionism is not to be defined the the evil deeds of its nutcases. How very dare you imply that it should be.

The reality is that despite the claims of the Unionist establishment, despite the repeated and continual attempts to portray the cause of independence as nasty, vile and divisive, despite the constant characterisation of the entire independence movement by the words of a few idiots on Twitter or Facebook, when it comes to actual acts of violence, actual harm, actual crime, it’s the Unionists who have the problem. During the first independence campaign the sole violent attack carried out against a Unionist was the assault on Jim Murphy’s shirt with an egg. That got considerably more publicity than actual assaults carried out against independence supporters. It wasn’t independence supporters who went on a rampage of violence in the aftermath of the independence referendum. It wasn’t independence supporters who were jailed for making death threats.

It’s Unionism that has a problem with violence and extremism, and it’s high time that the Unionist parties condemned it, unequivocally, and clearly. It’s time we had a national discussion about the violence and extremism that lurks within the Unionist cause.

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

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


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

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

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

The monomaniacal single obsession party

The world’s most obsessional election leaflet is falling through Scottish letterboxes. A leaflet from a party with only a single policy, a single monomaniacal fetish, a sole idée fixe. That’s the single track mind of the Scottish Conservatives whose obsession is accusing another party of being obsessed. In the election leaflet from the Tories which dropped through my door this morning, the party’s entire policy on absolutely everything is saying no to a second Scottish independence referendum. And that’s it. That’s their only policy. This is an election leaflet from a party with a stalkerish infatuation, creeping along behind Nicola Sturgeon like a spurned lover crying nooooo!

There’s not a word about the hardest of unyielding Brexits into which the Tories are taking us all, very much against the express will of the Scottish electorate. There’s not a word about how Scotland would be a better place by adopting the Tory policies on the health service and education, policies which have seen the English NHS brought to its knees and the reintroduction of grammar schools and secondary moderns. There’s not a word about the record rise in foodbank use which has seen some foodbanks stripped of resources. There’s not a word about how many people driven to foodbanks are working. There’s not a word about how the numbers being driven to foodbanks continue to rise.

Of course there’s not a word about any of these things. It’s a lot safer for Ruth Davidson to present her party as a single issue protest group. Because if people start to think about what the Tories are actually doing then they’d realise that independence is by far the better option. There are certainly issues in the Scottish NHS, there are issues in all public services throughout the UK where total funding is set by a tax cutting Tory government which prioritises subsidies to the rich and the powerful. However NHS Scotland is by far and away the best performing NHS in any part of the UK. Voting Conservative because you’re unhappy with the management of NHS Scotland is like voting for a vampire because you’ve got issues with the management of your local blood donation service.

On Monday Ruth Davidson did another of her cheery cheeky photo ops, posing in a quad bike mobility scooter in the Trossachs, a machine designed to allow disabled people access to the Scottish countryside. At a price. That’s the same Ruth whose party is taking away the mobility cars of thousands of disabled people, 50,000 across the UK so far according to some counts. An able bodied woman poses grinning in a disability scooter in order to raise her public profile, giving her backing to a scheme to give access to a national park, her party deprives thousands of disabled people of the means of getting to the shops, of getting to work, of living an independent life. Because of the Tories thousands of disabled people won’t be able to use those disability scooters that Ruth so shamelessly posed in because they won’t be able to get out the house and earn the money that would allow them to have a holiday. That photo of Ruth grinning in a mobility scooter for her pals in the press sums up Tory hypocrisy in a single image.

Ruth doesn’t want us to consider Brexit in this election, despite the fact that Brexit is the reason that her boss has called it. She doesn’t want us to think about how her boss only called it for narrow party political reasons despite clearly stating seven times that she had no intention of calling a general election. Theresa May said far more clearly and far more unequivocally that there would be no snap general election than anyone in the SNP ever said that there shouldn’t be a second independence referendum. But Ruth only wants us to think about the SNP, not about the people who are taking Scotland out of the EU against the will of the Scottish people.

It has been said that those who have an obsessional criticism of others are revealing what they themselves lack. It’s a form of psychological projection. The Scottish Tories with their single minded focus on opposing another referendum reveal their lack of respect for the Scottish people and their lack of respect for democracy. They want the vote of 2014 to be preserved in ice forever. They don’t want the people of Scotland to hold them to account for the actions of Conservative governments since 2014. They claim that they want to hold the SNP to account but don’t want to abide by the same standards themselves. The SNP must be held to account, but the Tories want a free pass. Tory hypocrisy is an insult to our intelligence and our common humanity.

They’re exhultant today, because an opinion poll has been published which claims to show a huge drop in support for independence, down to 40%. It’s a poll which is wildly out of line with other recent polls, polls which were conducted later and which show support for independence hovering around the 49% mark. It’s a general law of life that anything that’s too good to be true usually is, and this poll is too good to be true for the Unionists. If it was a poll which showed that there had been a massive and unexpected rise in support for independence, a rise which was out of line with all other recent polling, and which wasn’t reflected in other polls conducted afterwards, the Unionists would be suspicious of it, and independence supporters would be right to treat it with caution. No matter how well polling is carried out, it’s a statistical certainty that a number of them will turn out to be rogue polls. It’s not an exact science. So I’m not too bothered by this poll. Even the BBC’s favourite polling expert John Curtice is suspicious of it.

So let the Tories and their Unionist enablers enjoy the polling straw they’re clutching at. It doesn’t distract from the reality that the Tories are fighting this general election on the single issue of opposition to another independence referendum, and even on the very best, most favourable polls they’re only going to pick up a handful of seats. The SNP is still on course to win a huge majority. It’s only in the warped world of the Scottish Unionist media where a party that wins an enormous majority of Scottish Westminster seats can be said to have lost the election. In the real world, it’s a reinforcement of the SNP’s existing mandate to hold another referendum, and that’s going to be a referendum on the Tories’ record as much as it is on Scottish independence. No wonder Ruth is so desperate to avoid it.

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

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


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

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


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

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

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

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

The last UK General Election in Scotland

In France the National Front’s Marine Le Pen has done shockingly well in the first round of the French Presidential election, and it seems that the second round will focus on keeping the far right out of power. Here in the UK we don’t need to worry about keeping the far right out of power, because here in the UK the far right are already in power. What we need to worry about is what they’re going to do after a general election in which the polls are indicating that they could have a majority of 200 seats. They’ve already managed to wreak havoc with a majority of 18, the damage they could do with a majority ten times greater doesn’t bear thinking about. It’s like taking away a box of matches from a teenage arsonist and giving them a flame thrower.

For all that the hard line Unionists on social media are crowing about the Conservative revival in Scotland, the truth is there’s not much of a revival at all. What’s happening is that the Labour party is in the last stages of its death spiral and the Tories are picking up the votes of hard-core Unionists who previously voted Labour. Those are the people who support the Union blindly, and who would continue to support it even if it could be conclusively demonstrated beyond any shred of doubt that independence would make Scotland a far more prosperous country. They’re the people who support the Union without caring what sort of Union it is that they support. They’re the people who would never, under any circumstances, vote for independence. They might be vocal, they might have a lot of media support, but they’re a segment of the Scottish population that’s always going to be a minority.

Despite this, the Scottish Unionist media will do its best to paint any increase in the number of Conservative seats in Scotland after June’s election as a blow for Nicola Sturgeon and a reverse to the prospect of independence. But that’s nothing more than a desperate act of self-delusion. The fact that that people who would never under any circumstances have voted for independence are now transferring their red white and blue loyalties from one Unionist party to another Unionist party doesn’t damage the cause of independence any. Their votes were never available to independence campaigners anyway.

It’s a bit like you had a cake that was divided into halves and then you divided one of the halves into into two equal quarters. Then you get a new cake and divide it into halves, and divide one of the halves into two pieces, one of one third of the whole cake and the other one sixth. Then you point to the part that’s one third of the whole cake and say that the half cake has got smaller and it’s a huge blow for those separatist half-cakists.

What’s really happening is that the sixth part of the cake is far more likely to throw in its lot with the half cake, because the half cake isn’t flavoured with the stale and bitter seasoning of Conservative contempt. Those same polls that show that the Tories are sooking up hard line Unionist votes like a hoover nozzle stuck down a drain also show that 40% of those who are undecided on independence are more likely to vote for an independent Scotland if there’s a large Tory majority in Westminster. The Tories can have their stale one third of a cake if they want, it just makes it all the more likely that independence can get the tasty two thirds that’s left.

Meanwhile Scotland’s sole remaining Labour MP Ian Murray has said that he supports tactical voting to defeat the SNP, because for Ian defeating the SNP is clearly far more important than defeating the Tories. In Ian’s imagination it’s the SNP who are taking us all out of Europe into the hardest Brexit imaginable. He think it’s the SNP who have introduced the rape clause. He believes it’s the SNP who have denied housing benefit to young people making young women more at risk of sexually predatory landlords offering sex for rent deals. It’s the SNP who are demonising immigrants. It’s the SNP who are threatening employment rights. It’s the SNP who are responsible for turbo-charged austerity. Ian thinks that the SNP are worse than all the evils inflicted on the poor and the vulnerable and the low paid by the Conservatives. As such Ian represents the blinkered and tribalist thinking that has led to the Labour party being an irrelevance in Scotland, and even worse an irrelevance in a UK in which it’s still the official opposition. If Ian wants to understand why his party is staring electoral oblivion in the face, he only needs to look into his own soulless eyes in the mirror. Ian’s advising Scots to vote tactically for the Tories in order to keep the SNP out, and then he’ll blame the SNP for allowing the Tories to get into power.

Upset that people have been taking his comments to mean precisely what he was clearly implying, that Unionists should support Tory candidates in constituencies where the Conservatives are second to the SNP, Ian has tried to clarify by claiming that’s not what he meant at all. Oh no. When he said he supported tactical voting against the SNP he really meant that he supports tactical voting to defeat the SNP in his own constituency, not in anyone else’s. Which means that Ian has just admitted that he’s not merely blinkered and tribalist, he’s also opportunistic and bereft of any principles at all. Although to be fair that’s pretty much the definition of a Blairite or Brownite Labour MP.

Even if the Tories do manage to claw back a few seats from the SNP in June’s election after standing on a manifesto commitment to oppose an independence referendum, it will still be a massive defeat for them. Scotland will still have said in a very loud voice that it rejects the Tories and it rejects their policies, and it rejects their commitment to oppose another independence referendum. They are likely to come out of the other side of this election with a massively increased majority in England and Wales, but they’ll still be defeated in Scotland. The Tories will be stronger in Westminster, but Theresa May’s precious Union will be a whole lot weaker.

There will be another independence referendum within the lifetime of the next Westminster Parliament. June’s vote will be the last UK General Election in Scotland.

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

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


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

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

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

We say No to the Tories. And we mean it.

Without the slightest trace of irony, or indeed self awareness, the Tories have unveiled their new slogan. “We said No. We meant it.” Know who else meant it when they said no? Rape victims also meant it when they said no, but they’re still going to have to go into the details of their assault if they want to get child support for a third child. They can’t say no to the Tory intrusion into their trauma. They can’t say no to having a potentially unsympathetic DWP official going over the details of their assault. They can’t say no to identifying that a child is a product of rape.

The Tories have a nerve lecturing anyone on the meaning of the word no. Their gall is breathtaking. Without a shred of self-awareness the party of the rape clause have co-opted a slogan used to raise awareness of the sexual rights of women and to protest against sexual violence against women, and are using it in their tawdry little campaign to prevent the people of Scotland from having the right to say no to Theresa May. It’s revolting on so many levels. They’re taking a slogan used to empower and to give a voice, and are using it to disempower and remove the right to say no. And what’s most nauseating of all is that they probably didn’t even realise the connection, and even if they did they wouldn’t care.

It’s not just the shameless abuse of a slogan used to raise awareness of sexual abuse against women by the party of the rape clause which is offensive, although that’s a whole universe of wrongness all by itself. Their pithy little slogan conveniently brushes under the carpet all the myriad other things that the Tories didn’t mean in order to get that No vote that they did mean. And it’s not a short list. The only thing that means anything at all to the Tories is that they got the result that they wanted. They don’t wish to be held to account for all the many things that they said in order to get that vote and then conveniently went back on. There’s only side in this debate which has gone back on its word, and the Tories are their ground zero.

The Conservatives didn’t really mean it when they said that a No vote was the only way to ensure that the MoD would commission thirteen frigates to be built on the Clyde and keep the shipyards open. They didn’t really mean it when they said that a No vote was the only way to keep the jobs in the tax offices in Cumbernauld and East Kilbride. They didn’t really mean it when they said that a No vote would mean that the permanence of the Scottish Parliament would be enshrined in law. They didn’t really mean it when they said that a No vote was the only way for Scotland to remain a part of the EU. They didn’t really mean it when they said that a No vote would ensure continuing support for Scotland’s renewable energy industry. They certainly didn’t mean it when they said that a No vote would deliver Scotland the most powerful devolved parliament in the world. They didn’t come close to meaning it when they said that Scotland could lead within the UK and would be a valued equal partner in the most perfect family of nations that the world has ever seen.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister whose only notable talent is never giving a direct answer to a simple question that she doesn’t want to answer, didn’t mean it on any of the seven occasions when she did make a clear and explicit commitment and stated that there would be no general election until 2020. The woman who is saying no to allowing Scotland to have a vote on its future because she fears it will go against her is cynically holding a vote on her own future because the polling in England is favourable for her. Theresa May is always accusing all other politicians of playing games. Theresa doesn’t play games, at least not unless she’s made sure that she’ll win them first.

This is the election called by Theresa May so that she can crush all opposition, so that no one can protest, so that no one can resist, the blank cheque that an election victory will give her. Theresa has called this election to ensure that no one can say no to her. When the Tories said that the EU referendum vote was a mandate to restore the sovereignty of the Westminster parliament, they really meant that they were going to give their party leader and Prime Minister the powers of a dictator.

The only thing that Tories have ever meant is that they will lie, cheat and deceive in order to silence any opposition and to enrich themselves and their friends in big business. The only thing that Tories have ever meant is that they will cry foul and unfair at any attempt to hold them to account, to make them suffer the consequences for their lies and their dissembling. Vote Tory, vote to be held in contempt. Vote Tory, vote to be taken for a fool. Vote Tory, vote to surrender your fate into the hands of people who demonise the poor and punish them for the economic problems caused by the rich. Vote Tory, and vote to be a silenced puppet of Theresa May.

Well they’re in for a shock. Scotland will hold them to account. Just as in the Holyrood election last year, in this coming May’s council election, and in June’s general election, Scotland will return a majority of pro-independence representatives and will leave the Tories in distant second place. It’s not that Scotland doesn’t want a referendum. Scotland has never said that it doesn’t want a referendum, but by the ninth of June Scotland will have said three times, loudly and clearly, that we don’t want the Tories. We say No to Theresa. We say No to the rape clause. We say No to Ruth. We say No to being denied our say. We say No to a Brexit that we voted against. We say No to the Tories. And we mean it.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wgd2-22nd-april-2017

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


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

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


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

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

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

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

National Yes Registry IndyApp 1.1

We are a non party-political communications platform designed for the use of Scotland’s entire grass-root independence movement. A platform where ideas, equipment, campaign strategies and social events can all be easily co-ordinated and shared across the movement’s community group network. Locally, regionally and nationally.

This link gives a detailed explanation of the National Yes Registry IndyApp concept and a full run through of its practical functions

We currently have 107 participating groups on the IndyApp platform and that number is growing all the time. We have completed our latest version1.1 and the groups are beginning to log in their memberships. So, our urgent task now is to totally complete the IndyApp2.0 and provide each group with their own Local forum. It is this discussion, planning and self-organisational ‘forum’ system that gives the groups their ability to network with one another across the country and take their seat in the ‘national Forum’ as fully autonomous members. Completing the national forum in four months is our new timetable target.

To save time explaining what has already been created, why not watch our latest User Demo and download the new IndyApp version 1.1 for free? You can get networked and judge our progress for yourself…

What I will do in this article is concentrate on some of the newly developed strategic and organisational capabilities already latent within IndyApp version1.1, but which will require completion of the final 2.0 version in order to become practical grass-root reality. This new campaigning potential, as well as the national forum’s ‘group to group’ networking capabilities, make up the ‘meat’ of our new IndyApp 2.0 crowd fund appeal. With #ScotRef just around the corner our target is now to achieve all of this within a reworked delivery timetable of only four months.

Encourage new group formation!

As each user downloads the IndyApp, they register using the first half of their postcode. This allows us to locate each download within a general postcode area, while still ensuring all user addresses remain completely anonymous.

An understanding of user distribution across the country allows us to compare IndyApp download distribution with our local group network, as it develops throughout the ScotRef campaign. This cross referenced geographical information can then be used to encourage new group formation wherever there is the potential local IndyApp support to sustain those new groups. By encouraging mass download of the IndyApp among Yes supporters throughout Scotland, areas of high download without a local group operating can easily be identified. A situation we can then remedy by contacting local activists, arming them with that new information and give support in starting any new local group.

Communicating directly with all yessers!

Combining our user distribution capabilities with the IndyApp’s private messaging function will allow ourselves and our participating groups (through their regional admin system) the ability to keep in contact with all those pro-Indy supporters that download the app but are not yet members of a local group or involved in campaigning. These functions will make it possible to target all yes supporters that download the IndyApp with very specific local Indy campaign messages and friendly encouragement to please come and get involved. An incredible practical advance on IndyRef1 grass-root campaigning!

Magnifying local campaigning power!

These new capabilities alone (never mind the many other communication advances provided by the app) will obviously increase the local reach and community campaigning power of the Independence movement. It will help encourage early participation in campaigning from all those new supporters that want to help win but are unsure of how to get involved at grass-root level. Especially during the heat and organised chaos of the closing stages of IndyRef ‘New’!

A National Convention 

It is also our intention to hold a National Convention of all participating groups, approximately five months from today. At our current rate of growth, in five months we could easily be up to 150+ groups plus general public on the day. This event will be a fantastic face to face grass-root networking opportunity for everybody, as well as a great publicity centrepiece to collectively launch ourselves from. A very public ‘collective statement of intent’ that will mark out Scotland as having the most technically advanced grass-root campaigning network in the world!

Changed political circumstance?

Snap election or not, Holyrood has declared the new Independence Referendum will be held 18-24 months from today. Nothing has changed that fact and helping the grass-roots to win this referendum is our complete focus! So, bearing this in mind, it is now a matter of urgency that the entire IndyApp ‘National Forum’ structure is fully completed, working and downloadable as quickly as possible. We propose achieving this within 3 months of our crowdfund successfully ending (4 months from today).

If you like what we have created so far and want to see the grass-roots equipped with the networking capabilities described in this article then please help us make it possible. This is truly a grass-roots project and therefore you are our only source of funding. It is a simple truth that none of this is possible without your continued generosity and support. So, please visit https://chuffed.org/project/indyapp, read all about our plans and give whatever you can.

Many thanks again for all you for your generous support

Jason Baird

NYR IndyApp

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wgd-22nd-april-2017