The only realistic choice

This one is easy. For May’s local government elections there’s been all sorts of discussion and the banging of heads off brick walls in an attempt to explain the simplest tactical voting strategy to reduce the number of DTBs who get elected. That’s Durrty Tory Basterts, in case you were wondering that’s the real name of the Conservatives. The relative merits and demerits of ranking the rank smelly party last in a vote until you boke tactic versus not ranking them at all have been debated ad nauseum, or more accurately, ad bokeum. There’s been a lot of disagreement, but we all agree on the basic principle – that we want as few DTBs elected as possible. The disagreement is purely about how best to achieve that.

However Theresa May’s Erdogan election is conducted under the stone age first past the post system, and the best tactical voting strategy to reduce the number of power grabbing Conservative authoritarians is equally primitive. Vote SNP. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. In Scotland, a pro-independence vote for any other party is a wasted vote. It’s that simple. I’ve got a lot of time and sympathy for both the the Greens and the Socialists, and under different circumstances I might even vote for them.

The Greens and the Socialists might stand in some seats, but realistically they have as much chance of getting elected as there is of Ruth Davidson standing up and saying, “You know, I’m going to be consistent and put it on the record that we shouldn’t be having a General Election because the people don’t want one. Less than a third according to a UK wide poll, that’s fewer people than want that independence referendum that I’m always banging on about no one wanting. And I promise never to go near a tank again. Also, I am utterly mortified that Katie Hopkins supports me. Totally affronted. It’s even more embarrassing than when someone lets Murdo go on one of his rampages on Twitter.”

In June’s General Election we have one priority, and that’s to reduce the number of Tories to the minimum. Ideally to zero. The way to do that is to vote SNP. There are other elections in which voting Green or Socialist can make a difference, this isn’t one of them. It is vital in this election that the pro-independence representation is as high as possible, that can only be achieved with an SNP vote. Voting for anyone else splits the pro-independence vote and at best achieves nothing, at worst it allows a Unionist through the middle.

Labour voters have to decide where their priorities lie. Their party has no chance of getting elected. Theresa May called this election in the first place because Labour is so weak. Labour voters in Scotland need to ask themselves whether they want to split the anti-Conservative vote and allow a DTB to slip through the middle, or to lend a vote to the SNP. Let’s be honest, the Union that Labour stands for is dead. The Britain of the welfare state, of public services, of nationalised industries, it’s never coming back, and Britain is facing decades of a hard right Conservative government that will strip us all of employment and human rights in a way that not even Thatcher would have dared. The Tories aren’t hauling us out of the European Union in order to create a utopia of workers’ and civil rights. This isn’t an election about what Labour has achieved in the past, this is a vote about the future, and a Tory future is bleak, barren and filled with the sobs of the hungry and homeless and there’s nothing Labour can do to stop it. The harsh truth is that for Labour’s pensioner vote, the chances are that they won’t see a Labour government in Westminster again. A Labour vote is a vote for hopelessness, for uselessness, for weeping in the graveyard while your children’s hopes are buried. The Tories are destroying Britain with a tiny majority, it’s terrifying to think what havoc they will wreak when they’re returned to power with a large one. Every Labour vote in Scotland makes that more likely.

What’s more important? Tribalism or defeating the evil of Theresa May’s inhumane and cruel government? Sadly for some, tribalism will win. The sparkling wit and raconteur Iain Gray, at least when compared to James Kelly, along with Anas Sarwar, have spent the day on Twitter accusing the SNP of not wanting to get rid of the Tories because they abstained in yesterday’s vote. Labour, on the other hand, trooped obediently into the same division lobby as the Conservatives and voted to back a Conservative motion. If their party had the slightest bit of sense they’d have refused to back the motion too, then the only way Theresa May could have got her vanity election would have been to put forward a humiliating motion of no-confidence in her own government. She’d still have got her election, but Labour could have made it difficult for her. They were too afraid of negative headlines in the Tory press, because Jeremy Corbyn’s party never comes in for negative headlines otherwise does it. Oh wait…

Instead, Labour made it easy for her, and allowed her to look as though she was in total control. But in the tribal world of Ian and Anas, it’s the SNP who are to blame. It’s all the more pathetic because everyone and their granny knows that in this General Election, Labour is going to get gubbed. That’s the sole reason for Theresa holding it in the first place, and Labour went along with it. That’s Labour for you, the party of soft boiled eggs that votes for spoons.

But even worse than Iain and Anas is tribalist extraordinaire is Ian Murray, Labour’s sole remaining MP in Scotland, at least for now. He’s made a call for Labour supporters to vote tactically for Tories in order to keep the SNP out. He’d rather increase Theresa May’s majority and condemn us all to the bleakest of Brexits under a Prime Minister who is even more authoritarian than Margaret Thatcher than see any support for a party which seeks to give the people of Scotland a vote on their constitutional future. That’s truly shameful, as shameful as Ruth Davidson’s support for the rape clause. A Labour MP, who presumably knows the evil effects of Tory policies on the poor, the vulnerable, and the low paid, and yet he’d still prefer to see a Conservative government than concede that the people of Scotland should have the right to decide for themselves what the place of Scotland within the UK and the EU should be. It would be beautifully karmic if Ian’s call for people to vote Tory tactically backfired on him and allowed the SNP to take his seat.

If you choose a better Scotland, a Scotland where hope flourishes, where the future is to be embraced not feared, where we tell Theresa where to go instead of her dictating to us, an SNP vote is the only realistic choice.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-20th-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

Theresa May’s Erdoğan election

Despite saying just a few weeks ago that she had no intention of calling a snap General Election, Theresa May has now done just that. Now is the time after all. The Brexit negotiations are being put on hold because we’re facing a snap General Election, which is not unrelated to the fact that the Tories are crushing all opposition in opinion polling in England. This vote is really about securing Theresa May’s position within the Conservative party, and annihilating the Remainers on the Tory benches. It’s got the convenient side effect of killing off the issue of Tory election fraud which had the potential to bring down the government.

For May, this is her Erdoğan election, the vote to destroy all opposition, the vote to give her absolute power, unchallenged and unconstrained. It’s a vote to give May her Henry VIII powers and to rule by decree. Theresa May wants to achieve unity by silencing everyone who opposes her. And Scotland is a part of that opposition. Theresa May intends to crush Scotland by achieving a massive majority in England. That’s how the Union works. May thinks that consensus is achieved by silencing and sidelining those who disagree.

If she was thinking about the future of the UK as a union, May has made a fundamental miscalculation. This General Election is likely to be the last UK General Election in Scotland. May’s unity election will spell the end of the Union. It will show that Scotland and the rest of the UK are heading in different directions, rUK back towards a nostalgic Empire 2.0, Scotland towards a future as a social democratic northern European nation. This is the election in which Scotland can break the chains. This will be the election which conclusively demonstrates that Scotland and England are on different political paths. The Union can only function as long as Scotland and England vote broadly the same way, and that’s what they did from the introduction of the universal franchise and throughout the 20th century. Those days are over. Politically Scotland and England are very different creatures. They want different things. They have different expectations. This can only end one way, with the end of the UK as a Union. Either Scotland becomes an independent nation, or it ceases to exist as a nation.

A Tory-free Scotland is within our grasp. Less than 800 votes stand between the SNP and David Mundell’s last bastion of Tory rule in Scotland, and despite the constant reports in the Unionist media that we’re past peak SNP, the SNP continues to ride high in the polls. The Tories have not recovered in Scotland, they’ve benefited from the collapse of Labour and are attracting Labour’s die-hard Unionists. But those voters are a minority, and positioning itself as the Union come what May party puts a ceiling on Conservative support in Scotland. It’s a position which in the longer term undermines and weakens the Union it claims to defend, because it associates that Union in the minds of voters with the hardline right wing policies of the Conservatives. It makes the choice starker, a choice between Theresa May’s hard right cruelties, or a social democratic Scotland that can only exist with independence.

Given the polling it is entirely likely that the Conservatives will achieve a large majority in England. Given that same polling it is even more likely that the SNP will achieve a massive majority in Scotland. The SNP will most certainly stand on a commitment to give the people of Scotland a vote on their future within the UK. Even if the SNP does lose a couple of seats, the party will still end up with a massive majority of Scottish seats, and those MPs will be elected with a clear and unarguable mandate for a second independence referendum. That’s how democracy works. A majority is a majority.

Despite the seeming insistence of the Unionist media that the SNP needs to increase the numbers of seats it holds, it means nothing at all even if the Unionist parties do manage to claw back a couple of seats. Barring something catastrophic, it remains a certainty that the SNP will be returned with a massive majority of Scottish seats, and a vote share that’s pushing 50%. Even though May is likely to end up with a huge majority in Westminster, she’ll certainly do so with a lower share of the vote than the SNP attain in Scotland. If this election gives May her mandate for a hard Brexit, it will also give the SNP a mandate for a second independence referendum. By calling this election now May has undermined one of her own arguments against a second Scottish independence referendum. She will no longer be able to argue that Scotland doesn’t want it. Now is the time after all.

As an aside, May has made the position of Ruth Davidson untenable – but then Ruth was always quite happy with sudden U-turns. If she had any consistency at all, she’d oppose holding a General Election now because it’s terribly divisive. But the only real consistency in Ruth’s politics is acting as an enthusiastic cheerleader for whatever her bosses tell her. In this election she’ll have to defend the cruel and heartless policies of a government that penalises the poor and the vulnerable. She’ll have to defend the rape clause and the removal of housing benefit from young people leaving them exposed to sex for rent predators.

Labour have nothing to offer. They’re facing a defeat in this election even worse than the defeat they suffered in 1983 which locked in Tory rule for another 15 years. They’ve lost all credibility. They had a chance back in 2016 in the aftermath of the Brexit vote when the Tories were rudderless and leaderless, without a plan and without a clue, yet instead of pressing their advantage to secure a soft Brexit, Labour’s parliamentary suicide squad decided that was the ideal time to mount a coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn. It was a gross betrayal. Labour yet again put the parliamentary party before the country. And now they go into this General Election discredited, divided, and debilitated. The Tories are going to destroy them in England, and those who will suffer from the hubris of Labour MPs will be the poor, the disabled, and the low paid.

Scotland needs to make a choice about what sort of country we want to be. Vote Tory and rubber stamp May’s hard Brexit which will turn the UK into a tax haven for the rich with low wages and no social protection for the rest of us, or vote SNP and the chance to create a better country that looks after all its citizens. Now is the time.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-18th-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

Starting with a single ripple

Well we’re still here, for now. You can never be entirely certain that there will still be a morning to wake up to when the fate of the world is in the hands of two man-children for whom the unthinkable of nuclear warfare is perfectly thinkable. When you do wake up you feel around to make sure that everything is still in one piece and your street hasn’t been turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, at least insofar as it’s possible to tell the difference between a post-apocalyptic wasteland and the East End of Glasgow when there’s a Tory government in Westminster. Then you turn on the telly news to check the progress of Trump and Kim’s nuclear dance to see if the children with lethal toys have put a stop to the steps of a billion lives.

Those of us old enough to remember the Cold War have been here before. The protests. The marches. The raging impotently against the world destroying power of those who can make your fate fall through their fingers like the dust that will be all that’s left after they’ve launched the destroyers of worlds. The difference is that back then the madmen who created the MAD doctrine knew what Mutually Assured Destruction meant, that it meant that nukes were weapons that could never be used as they’d destroy the very civilisation that they were supposed to protect. Now we’re in the hands of petulant children for whom nukes are just bigger bangs in a big banging contest. Children who don’t realise that using their toys will make the road in Cormac McCarthy’s novel seem like Sesame Street.

For many of us in this campaign to liberate Scotland from the grip of Westminster, it started with the revulsion that nuclear weapons with enough fire power to evaporate much of the globe were based just a few miles from Scotland’s largest city. It started with the realisation that to the power hungry of Westminster, Scotland is first and foremost a place to park the nuclear viagra of an impotent former superpower. Even more than the oil, even more than draining us of our children and using us as a reservoir of labour, Scotland’s place in the Union is to host the evil of mass death. For many of us, the campaign for Scotland independence is based on ridding Scotland of this evil, because if we accept it then we become complicit in it. Silence equals agreement.

Scotland’s just a small country. We can’t prevent a nuclear war. We can’t stop the USA and North Korea from setting fire to eastern Asia. But we can stop our own country from being a part of the madness. We can say that we don’t want Scotland to be a party to the nuclear dick waving. It’s not even as if the UK’s nuclear deterrent is independent. The USA supplies the warheads. The USA supplies the targetting. They’re simply an adjunct to American nukes which exist purely in order to justify the place that the UK takes on the UN Security Council. That’s a place that’s taken on Scotland’s back. It’s because of those dirty nukes on the Clyde that the UK fights dirty to keep Scotland within its grasp.

The truth is that those who say that they are renewing Trident because they are in favour of multilateral disarmament are, at best, lying to themselves. You don’t rid the world of nuclear weapons by commissioning more. You don’t make the world a safer place by buying bombs that make a bigger bang. You disarm by getting rid of bombs. It’s clear that Scottish opinion means nothing to Westminster, we’ve learned that lesson well, so the only way to rid our country of someone else’s bombs is to take control of our country for ourselves. Independence is the only route to Scottish nuclear disarmament. Westminster will never disarm, its multilateralism is just an excuse for it to pass its own moral obligations on to others. Saying that you will only do a good thing if someone else does it too does not make you a good person. It makes you a hypocrite.

Listen to the cant from some, especially in Labour, and you’d think that Trident was a job creation scheme. Jackie Baillie acts as though the entire purpose of Trident was to keep a medium sized Tesco Express open in the greater Helensburgh area. When you’ve got politicians who seriously try to argue that spending billions on bombs that can blow up the planet is a good thing because it can create a couple of hundred jobs, you’ve already descended into insanity. A weapon of mass destruction is not a job creation scheme. You don’t justify a great evil by claiming it does a small good. Trident is an obscenity no matter how many jobs it creates – and it creates damn few. It’s an expensive obscenity at that. We could create far more jobs by spending the money that Trident costs directly on job creation. We could make Scotland a safer and saner place in the process.

We’re back in the 60s when the world held its breath as giants like Kennedy and Khrushchev went toe to toe over Cuba, only this time the only things that are giant are the egos of small men. We’re back to being a small former Empire clinging on to past greathoods, perched on the edge of a Europe that we’re not a part of. We’re back to holding our breath in the realisation of the fragility of life, of civilisation, of all the progress that was so hard won by our grandparents and parents, and we go to bed in the dark of night not knowing if there will be a tomorrow.

The only way to change the world is to change that small part of it within your own reach and power. We can change ourselves and say that we will not be silent. We can change Scotland, and say that it will not be silent. We can say that Scotland will no longer be a host for the ambitious egos of the powerful and greedy. We can say that Scotland is committed to disarmament, and we can practise what we preach. We can make a small difference, knowing that large differences are made up of thousands of small ones, that a change in the course of a mighty river starts with a single ripple.

A voice singing alone is crying into the night, five million voices make a chorus that ripples through the world. The moral case for Scottish independence has never been stronger.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-17th-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

An Easter homily

I’ve never been a Christian with a big C, but my mother tells me that I’m a christian with a small c. She means it as a compliment and I take it as such. She’s a Christian, a good Catholic, and she doesn’t wear her religion on her sleeve and cite it as proof that she’s a good person. She’s just a good person. She puts into practice what she believes in. She tries to be compassionate. She strives for understanding. She aims for empathy. Those are the things that her faith teaches her, and those are the lessons she tries to live throughout her life. For her, that’s what being a Christian, and a christian, means. I might not believe in God or gods, but that’s something worthy of respect.

It’s Easter weekend, the most holy time in the Christian calendar. I was brought up a Catholic but much to the distress of my parents the teachings of the church never penetrated. I decided at the age of 10 that God was just Santa Claus for grown ups, then spent the rest of my teenage years rebelling against Catholicism because in the 1970s that was a lot safer than rebelling against a western Scottish and working class expectation of heterosexuality. In Coatbridge in the mid 70s I’d make a point of eating a bridie on Good Friday, as I suffered from the naive delusion that a bridie contained meat. I told the priest at school that I was an atheist, mainly just to annoy him, truth be told. And then when he took me to one side and asked if I was having problems with my faith, I’d angrily reply that my faith was just fine, it was his faith that was causing me the grief. Then just shy of my 16th birthday there was the mother of all arguments when I told my parents that I wasn’t going to go to Mass anymore. It was an even bigger fight than the I’m gay fight some years later.

Along with my siblings I got dragged along to Mass every Sunday and to Confession whenever our mother realised that we hadn’t been for a while. Confession followed a familiar ritual. Bless me father for I have sinned, it’s been six weeks since my last Confession. I always said six weeks because it was invariably much longer, but figured that six weeks was long enough that the priest wouldn’t remember me, but not so long that I’d get hassle for not having been for ages. And then I repeated a wee list of generic childish sins. I fight with my brother and sisters. I’m disobedient. I swear. And then I’d end the recitation with “And I tell lies”, so I was covered for all of the above. The priest would then do whatever it was that he did, I was no longer paying attention by this point, he’d tell me what my penance was, then I’d go out and lie to my mother and say it was two Hail Marys and an Our Father, because I was buggered if I was going to sit there and recite ten decades of the rosary.

The last time I went to confession however, when I was fourteen years old, the priest didn’t follow the script. After my wee list of regular sins he said, “Tell me my son, do you play with yourself.” My jaw dropped. I was speechless. I knew exactly what he meant and was horrified he’d asked the question. It took all the effort I could summon to prevent myself from yelling out, “None of your damned business you dirty pervert.” So I played dumb. “Eh … I play by myself. Is that what you mean?” Clearly realising that he was dealing with a particularly obtuse child, the pervy priest tried again, “Tell me, do you have impure thoughts about women?” As loudly and as firmly as I dared, I replied in a tone which meant that this conversation was definitely over, “NO!” And that was the only time I ever told the truth in the confessional. Wild horses could not drag me back after that.

I’ve since learned that this particular priest was abusing the privilege of the confessional. Priests are taught not to go fishing for sins. Contrition is only meaningful if the penitent willingly offers up the knowledge of past misdeeds, that’s what confession means. But I didn’t know that when I was a kid. I never told anyone, not until many years later. The last thing a teenage boy wants to do is to talk about his masturbation habits with his parents or the adults in his life. So I never said anything, and now I’m left wondering how many other kids this priest perved on. Kids who weren’t strong enough to stand up and say no. Kids who told him what he wanted to hear so he could get his rocks off while he abused his power and abused the trust of a child. That priest was a Christian with a big C, but his actions were not those of a Christian with either a big C or a small one.

So I’ve always been suspicious of those who wear their religion on their sleeves, who cite it as proof of their goodness. If you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t need to tell people. Because if others see that your actions are christian in my mother’s sense of the word, that you’re a good human being who understands the importance of compassion, of humanity, of empathy, and the centrality of love, then the discovery that you are a believer means they will know that you are a good Christian. The proof of the Easter pudding is in the eating.

The most prominent self-declared Christian politicians today are Ruth Davidson and Theresa May, both of whom are characterised by a lack of christianity in their deeds. I may not be a Christian, but I know that Jesus didn’t teach us to take away the mobility cars of the disabled, to force people with degenerative conditions to prove repeatedly that they are still ill in order to continue to receive support, or to make women who’ve been raped prove that they’ve been raped before they’ll get the money that they need to feed their kids. Compassion means you put the needs of the weak and the vulnerable before the needs of the strong and the rich.

Ruth and Theresa put the need of the rich to receive even more of their wealth in tax breaks than they already do before the need of the poor to live a life that’s dignified. Don’t know about you, but that strikes me as pretty damned satanic.  They’re self-declared Christians with a big C, but there’s nothing about their political deeds that’s christian with a small one.

So this Easter let’s reflect on the gap between the words and the deeds of our political leaders who lay claim to Christian beliefs. The lesson to take is to beware those who feel the need to display their faith like an advertising hoarding. It’s actions, not words, which count, and their actions are the opposite of all the things that their faith claims to stand for and to have taught them. The real religion of Theresa May and Ruth Davidson is hypocrisy, greed, and a materialistic selfishness. They’re the Pharisees that their Jesus decried, and their actions of the past few weeks have exposed the truth. Ruth’s days of pretending to be the cheery caring face of a modern Conservatism are over.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-15th-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

Things that happen when you go to London

gingershardBack from London now, where I was doing a talk for the London branch of the SNP. The talk went really well, I met some lovely people, and Ginger – as you can see – was resolutely unimpressed by a famous London landmark. That’s a photie of the Shard, in case you were wondering. I was only away a couple of days, and it’s a holiday week, but there have still been a couple of interesting developments.

Firstly, the Unionists’ favourite provider of graphs did a radio debate with a proper economist. The one whom you cannot mention in case he appears, somewhat like Betelgeuse, appeared on BBC radio Scotland debating with Prof. Richard Murphy. The Unionists’ favourite graph drawer didn’t come across well, snidey, sneery, and arrogantly trying to patronise someone who very clearly knew a great deal more about the topic at hand than he did. Which only goes to show that graphs aren’t a good medium for radio.

If you disagree with him, you are at best a “flat earther” and an outlier. At worst he’ll take to social media and assert to his followers that you deliberately invented lies. However the crux of the argument was that he who cannot be named seemingly claimed that there’s no need for better data on economic activity and tax take in Scotland, because we’re a part of the UK and should jolly well be grateful for what we’re given. Then having denied the need for better and more rigorous data sets he criticises everyone else who has the audacity to point out the shortcomings in his Holy Book of GERS. This is what makes him and his followers GERS fundamentalists.

The GERS figures were never intended to give a picture of the finances of an independent Scotland, yet this is precisely what he and his followers have been using them for for years. You cannot use a set of statistics which have known shortcomings for a purpose for which they were never intended in the first place, while ignoring and dismissing their shortcomings and refusing to concede that the data is inadequate, and still claim that you’re following a solid scientific procedure.

While some of us on the independence side of the debate may have been incorrect in certain details, he’s wrong about the entire premise of his argument – a point he was forced to admit when he conceded that the GERS figures don’t actually tell you anything about the economy of a future independent Scotland, remarks which will most certainly return to haunt him. Because we’ll make sure that they do. And if you’ve conceded that the data set you use can’t tell you about the economy of an independent Scotland, it does beg the question of what the hell you’ve been up to for the past four years when you’ve been doing precisely that.

But he’s moving on to other things and this week it was announced that he’s involved in setting up a new Unionist think tank with TV historians Tom Holland and Dan Snow. Doubtless it will tell us why we shouldn’t vote for independence because of WW1 and the Industrial Revolution, forgetting that the main motivation for most of us in seeking independence is because we’d like to live in a country that looks to the future, and not one that obsessed about the past. Isn’t backward looking romantic nationalism what Unionists were supposed to be accusing independence supporters of?

The new think tank will probably round up a lot of TV celebrities like they did last time to put their names to a letter supporting the Union. Dan Snow is opposed to Scottish independence because his late father-in-law owned a holiday property in the Highlands that’s the size of West Lothian. Other celebs that were rounded up in support have reasons of their own. David Starkey is opposed to Scottish independence because he needs someone to feel superior to. Ben Fogle is opposed to Scottish independence because he thinks he’s a mountain in Argyll.

But it’s not just the prominent amateurs on the Unionist side who’ve been having a tough time this week, one of their most prominent professionals has been having an even worse time of it. Ruth Davidson’s carefully cultivated public persona as a cheeky and approachable compassionate conservative was stripped away to reveal the nasty and begrudging apologist for evil who was lurking underneath all along. Ruth defended the rape clause, a truly horrific provision in the new social security provisions which strips child support from third and subsequent children unless their mother can demonstrate that the child was the product of rape. It is unconscionably abhorrent to force a woman to relive a horrific and traumatic experience or be faced with the prospect of not being able to feed her children, and remember that by definition she will be a woman who is struggling to ensure that she has enough of an income to feed her family.

It’s bad enough that the mother has to go into the details of her sexual assault with an untrained and potentially unsympathetic DWP staff member, but she also has to put on official record that her child is a product of rape, meaning that at some point in the future it becomes more likely that the child will accidentally discover the truth about its origins when it gets a bit older. “Mum, why did you get child support for me even though you were only supposed to get child support for my older brother and sister?”

Ruth Davidson thinks that this is the most compassionate way of dealing with this issue. The most compassionate way would be not to put a woman through the ordeal in the first place, all for the sake of saving £13 quid a week, a sum that wouldn’t even pay for your average Tory MP’s lunch expenses. Make Google or Facebook or the oil giants or all those rich oligarchs who have investment properties in London pay some bloody taxes, then perhaps you wouldn’t have to put women through a horrendous ordeal in the first place.  That would be a whole lot more compassionate.

However the real person who should be criticised in all this, at least according to Ruth Davidson, is Nicola Sturgeon. The Scottish government could make up the difference, pouted Ruth and went on to accuse them of “gross hypocrisy”. Because when you’ve cheered on your pals for bullying and abusing vulnerable people, the real person who deserves criticism is the person who calls you out on it, because they could put a plaster on the wounds that you’ve caused. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Ruth Davidson that the people deserving of condemnation are those who bullied in the first place. And that, pretty much, is the definition of a Tory.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/wee-ginger-dug-14th-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.

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Vote until you boak

There’s a need to do a wee explanation of STV for dummies because there seems to be a lot of confusion about it. Admittedly when you look at a typical Saturday evening’s entertainment on STV and wall to wall Ant and bloody Dec, it’s pretty apparent that they’re pretty good at doing dummies all by themselves. But it’s not that sort of STV I mean. We’re talking about Single Transferable Voting, the voting system used in Scottish local elections.

One of the problems is that in Scotland we use different voting methods in different elections. In Westminster elections it’s first past the post. It’s first past the post in Holyrood constituencies, which are then topped up by the regional vote list in where the d’Hondt method is used. And in elections to the European parliament the entire vote is conducted according to the d’Hondt method. The local elections are determined by a different system of proportional representation, called Single Transferable Vote, or STV. Because different voting systems require different approaches to tactical voting, confusion easily arises.

First past the post is the oldest voting system, and the one that’s most entrenched in the minds of voters. Under first past the post you have a single vote, and you mark an X beside the name of the candidate you want to see elected. Under STV you rank candidates 1, 2, 3, etc. You need only rate those you want to vote for, you only need to put a 1 beside your favoured candidate for your ballot to be valid. Or if there are three candidates from your favoured party you can rank them 1, 2, 3, and that’s all you need to do.

However you can influence who else gets elected by ranking everyone on the ballot. Under first past the post, you cast a vote FOR a candidate, and that means many voters are reluctant to exploit their STV ballots to the full because they feel that by ranking everyone on the ballot they are voting for candidates or parties that they despise.

One of the biggest differences between FPTP and STV is that with FPTP you only vote for a single candidate. With STV you can also use your vote to vote against a candidate. Under STV, when you rate a candidate last, you’re not voting for them, you’re voting against them, you’re saying that you want everyone else to get elected before them. Don’t think of it as voting for a particular candidate, so much as rating them all from epic all the way down to wanker. Or, as they put it in Northern Ireland where they use STV for elections to Stormont, Vote Till You Boak. That’s how the nationalist parties in Northern Ireland managed to deprive the Unionists of an overall majority for the first time ever.

For me, and I suspect for most of the readers of this blog, the boak-making candidates in most local authority wards will be Tories and also, in some areas, Ukip and your actual out and out fascists. Those are the candidates I’m going to rate lowest of all, because they’re the most boak inducing. By rating everyone else on the ballot above them, I am helping to ensure that everyone else will be elected before the Tories or Ukip. Ranking them at the bottom of my list of preferences is not a vote for them, it’s a vote for anyone but them. It’s a way you can use your STV ballot in order to have the best chance of getting a council that you approve of, or at least the one that you least disapprove of.

Think of your STV ballot paper as you being a school teacher giving out grades. Give the good grades to the candidates you approve of, those nice independence supporting people who’ve done their homework and promise to bring you the apple of independence, regular rubbish collections, and better local public services. Then rate the ones who are neutral, who could try harder. And then you give the failing grades to the Tories who are basing their entire campaign on not allowing the people of Scotland to have a voice on a subject that councillors don’t get to influence anyway and saying that it’s everyone else who’s obsessed about that referendum that they talk about to the exclusion of everything else. If there are six candidates on the ballot, rating the Tory as a six is equivalent to giving them an F. It’s certainly not a vote for a Tory. It’s saying that you’d rather that everyone else on the ballot was elected before the Tory. And that’s because you’re a reasonable human being, and not an apologist for a Tory rape clause.

The Tories are advising their voters to rank the SNP last. So we need to employ the same tactic in order to minimise the Tory vote. Abstaining after you’ve ranked all the pro-indy candidates doesn’t help to minimise the Tory vote because other people are going to rate them high. If you don’t rate non-Tory candidates, you make it more likely that a Tory is going to get enough votes to get over the finish line.

Under STV, a candidate is elected once they reach the necessary quota. This quota is determined by a formula. The formula is the total number of votes cast, divided by the number of available seats in the ward plus one, then one is added to the resulting number. At which point the eyes of most normal people start to glaze over. It’s better to illustrate it with a simple example.

Imagine an election in which there are two seats to be filled in the ward and three candidates are standing: Indy Irene, Tory Tom, and Federalist Fred. There are 1500 people eligible to vote, and 1000 voters turned out to vote and cast valid votes. The formula for deciding the quota for election is 1000 divided by 2+1, plus 1.  This equals 334.333, which is rounded down to 334 because you can’t get .333 of a vote, not even if you’re one of Ruth Davidson’s burly men. 334 votes is what a candidate needs in order to get elected.

450 voters ranked Indy Irene as their number 1, 300 ranked Tory Tom as number 1, and the remaining 250 ranked Federalist Fred as number 1. These first preference votes get counted first. Indy Irene has received 450 first rankings, so she’s declared elected with 116 votes to spare over the quota of 334.

Now the second rankings get counted to decide which of the other two, Tory Tom or Federalist Fred, is going to win the second seat. In this election, Federalist Fred is the lesser of two evils, because unlike Tory Tom he doesn’t advocate selling off his grandmother to an American health corporation.  All of the people who voted for Indy Irene ranked Federalist Fred as their number 2, so her spare 116 votes go to Federalist Fred.

That means that in the second round of counting, Federalist Fred now has 366 votes (his 250 first rankings plus 116 from Indy Irene’s supporters second rankings), and this takes him over the quota of 334 and Federalist Fred is declared the winner of the second seat. Even though Tory Tom got more first preference votes than Federalist Fred, Tory Tom still loses. At which point all right thinking people go, “Ha. Ha. Loser!” and do that L thing on their foreheads.

If none of Indy Irene’s supporters ranked Federalist Fred as their number two and they all had abstained, then Tory Tom would have picked the seat up in the second round because there would have been no second preferences from Indy Irene to redistribute. Which only goes to show that if you don’t rank the lesser of two evils as your number two, then the real shit will win.

As long as you rank all the other candidates, you don’t actually need to rank Tory Tom, just ensure that he’s pushed to the bottom. But you do need to rank the other candidates to ensure the Tory is at the bottom of the pile. It’s just easier, and safer, to explain to people to list all the candidates on the ballot in order of gorgeous to god-awful. This is why you need to use your second third fourth etc preferences, and vote until you boak to keep the Tories out.

I’m off to London tomorrow to do a talk for the SNP London branch, so no blog posts until I get back. If you post a comment and it needs to be authorised, it won’t be authorised until I’m home, sorry about the delay.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/vote-until-you-boak-wee-ginger-dug-11th-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.

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Sending a message

That didn’t last long did it. Just a few days ago the usual suspects were crowing that Ruthie Davidson was the most popular politician in Scotland, all on the basis of a shonky poll from SkyNews which didn’t even pretend to represent a balanced sample. But that didn’t stop them from hailing Ruth as the chief buffalo girl. And then along comes a proper opinion poll, one carried out by no less a person than the Tories’ former paymaster Michael Ashcroft, a poll which puts Ruth a long way behind Nicola Sturgeon in the popularity stakes in Scotland.  So that’s Fraser Nelson’s thesis buggered then.

Ruth’s supposed popularity was always a product of hype. If you tell people often enough that she’s the most effective and most popular politician then she’ll become so. Unfortunately that was only ever going to work if there was more to Ruth than looking good on the panel of Have I Got News For You and posing for amusing photo ops with buffaloes, fish, and other dumb creatures – like most of the Conservative MSPs. Behind the glossy image of Ruth as a new type of Tory, a modern Conservative for the 21st century, there is a policy vacuum. A vacuum in which all you can hear is a scream “no one wants another referendum”, despite abundant evidence that a great many people do.

Ruth is defined by being opposed to whatever it is that the SNP stand for, but remains silent on what she stands for herself. That’s because what she really stands for is whatever her bosses in the Conservatives at Westminster stand for, and she’ll turn 180 degrees in her views depending on the way the windbags of Westminster are blowing. Naturally her pals in the media don’t press her too closely on this uncomfortable truth. Ruth is a walking irony, a shouty politician who shouts so loudly in order to cover up the fact that she’s saying nothing at all.

The myth is that Ruth appeals to a broad spectrum of the Scottish public. She doesn’t. She appeals to Conservatives, she appeals to that minority of Scottish opinion which has an ideological and emotional commitment to the United Kingdom come what Theresa May. That’s always going to be a relatively small minority of Scottish voters. During the independence referendum of 2014 I was constantly struck by the number of people who said that they were voting No, not out of any sense of loyalty to a British state that they knew had no loyalty to them, not because they believed themselves to be British to the core of their beings, but simply because they felt that the time wasn’t right, or that the risks were too great. Ruth can’t appeal to those voters. She can only make her pitch with any success to the diehards. That’s why even though she’s being touted in the British media as the woman who will save the Union, she will ultimately fail. She’ll fail because for many many Scots her party represents everything that’s wrong with Britain.

Ruth rails against the divisions in Scotland but she has no answers to them. The Tories don’t have the slightest idea of how to heal the divisions that they claim are fracturing this country. They think that the way to deal with division is for everyone who doesn’t agree with them to shut up and to suck it up. It’s meaningless cant born of desperation, because the Tories know that they have no solutions and no ammunition for contesting another independence referendum. What are they going to say? Their strongest argument last time round was why risk independence when you can have the safety and security of the UK, and they’ve destroyed that argument all by themselves. Brexit dominates everything in UK politics now, so attempting not to talk about Brexit in the context of a second independence referendum is going to be doomed to failure.

Despite this, Ruth is described as “ecumenical” in sympathetic write ups in supposedly left of centre and liberal newspapers like the Guardian. Who knew? Well there’s me discovered a new synonym for “shouty”. And just as in the referendum of 2014, we discover that when the Guardian has a choice between defending social democratic values, or defending the British establishment, they’ll go for the British establishment every day of the week.

Now the Tories have revealed their election strategy for the local elections. It consists of avoiding talking about local issues. The Tories want you to waste your vote in the local elections. They want to turn it into a referendum on not having a referendum. Use your say in order to say that you don’t want a say. And once you’ve done that, you can elect some Tory councillors who will destroy your local public services and won’t be able to prevent a referendum being held anyway.

So in the upcoming local elections use your vote wisely. Use it to rank all the candidates who are standing in your ward, give your first preference to the pro-independence candidate of your choice, then work your way down the list, give your next preference to your next favoured pro-indy candidate, and so on until you’ve run out of pro-indy candidates.  If you are, say, an SNP supporter, don’t stop once you’ve ranked the SNP candidates.  Give your next preferences to other pro-independence candidates, Greens, Socialists, or pro-independence independents.  Equally if you’re a Green, don’t stop after you’ve given your first preferences to the Green candidates.  Rank all the pro-independence candidates.  It means that they have a better chance of getting elected ahead of any Unionists.

You can, if you want, stop there. It won’t damage the pro-independence cause any, but equally it won’t help to prevent a Tory getting elected if there are only anti-indy candidates still in the running.

So if you want to use the rest of your preferences, you can use them to minimise the chances of a Tory getting elected. Next rank those who are neutral on the issue of independence. There are some Labour candidates who are neutral on independence, there are even some who privately support it. There may be independents standing in your ward who are neutral on independence. Then rank the other Labour candidates or the Lib Dems, and then and only then rank the Tories and Ukip and your actual fascists lowest of all.

You might say “I’m never going to vote Unionist under any circumstances.” And that would be fine.  Putting a smile on Jackie Baillie’s face is distasteful, I get that.  But by the time you get to your final preferences, any chance of a pro-indy candidate getting elected will already have gone. All those pro-indy candidates who were going to get elected will already have been elected. What this is about is minimising the chances of any Tories getting elected. Any Tory who gets elected will view it as a vindication of Theresa May and her message to Scotland to get back into its shortbread tin.

You don’t have to rank all the candidates. You don’t have to rank any Unionist candidates at all, and that’s just fine. It won’t do any harm, but it won’t make it less likely that a Tory gets elected. A winning candidate still has to be voted in. You’re not going to minimise the chances of a Tory getting elected by failing to express a preference in what will by the time all other preferences have been counted have become a contest between a Tory and another candidate who isn’t pro-indy. Vote indy first, then later choose the lesser of two evils, and that means ranking someone else above a Tory. Then we can send our own message to Ruth. And that message is that Scotland does want a referendum, and it doesn’t want Tories.

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


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

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


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

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

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

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