The monkey and the organ grinder

Politics in the United Kingdom is increasingly resembling a toilet pan down which democracy is being flushed. There’s already a clear mandate for a second independence referendum. A bill for a referendum has been voted through by the Scottish Parliament with a majority achieved entirely legitimately according to the most impeccable processes of democracy, and yet the Unionist parties refuse to recognise it. There’s a serious question hanging over the democratic process of a country in which the normal rules get suspended when the state feels it’s in its interests to do so. Scottish democracy is conditional on what the British state will allow.

Both Kezia Dugdale and Ruth Davidson have gone on record to state that they’d refuse to recognise any mandate for a second independence referendum even if the SNP managed to attain more than 50% of the popular vote. The logic of their argument is that there is no point in anyone in Scotland voting at all. But then that is the logic of Unionism. Within the Union it doesn’t matter what Scotland votes for because Scotland gets what the rest of UK decides to give us. Scotland is a permanent minority in a state which struggles with the distinction between democracy and majoritarianism.

The reason they refuse to recognise the right to another independence referendum is because they fear that they’d lose. If they were confident of winning, if they were so convinced that the people of Scotland would vote convincingly for the Union, they’d have no problem with it. That’s the exact same reason that Ruth’s boss in Westminster repeats her now is not the time mantra, because according to Theresa May the only time to hold another Scottish independence referendum is when it’s certain that the pro-independence movement would lose it.

Not that Theresa’s judgement on matters of vote-winning is particularly acute. She called this general election after stating clearly several times that she wasn’t going to call an early general election solely because the opinion polls suggested that she’d be returned with a crushing majority. Having spent the entire campaign to date robotically repeating soundbites and keeping as far away as possible from anyone who might ask her a question, telling everyone that she’s strong and stable while doing more turning than a windmill in a hurricane, she now finds that the polls are slowly turning against her. It’s still likely that she’s going to win, but it’s no longer beyond the bounds of possibilty that we’ll end up with a hung parliament. That would be fitting, Theresa May has made this election entirely about her, and yet like the supreme monarch she fancies herself as she refuses to submit to the same cross examination that every other wannabe Prime Minister in recent times has endured. For Theresa May, democracy exists solely in order to acclaim her.

Theresa May is still refusing to participate in the party leader’s debate due to be held on Wednesday evening. Obviously her handlers have decided that no Theresa May is better than a bad Theresa May. She’s sending some minion instead, because in the Conservative party a monkey has evolved more human warmth than the organ grinder. It just shows how robotic and alien that Theresa May comes across to the general public that Amber Rudd counts as relatable and humane. That’s the Amber Rudd that said she’s still not sure what the cap on the dementia tax is going to be because her boss hasn’t kept her fully briefed on all her U-turns.

Theresa’s given a number of reasons to justify why she’s too feart, sorry, too strong and stable, to debate with Jeremy Corbyn and the other party leaders. She’s not debating because she debates Corbyn anyway at PMQs, when she can get away with not having to answer any of the questions that he puts to her. She’s not debating because she’s more interested in meeting members of the public, or at least members of the public who’ve been carefully vetted in advance and who’ve been told that their jobs are on the line if they don’t stand in reverent silence while Theresa tells them how strong and stable she is. She’s not debating because, as she recently told the press, debates are a bit pointless, as opposed to what she prefers to do, which is the mindless intonation of stock phrases and making the same speech repeatedly in front of a handful of Conservative supporters deep in a forest in Aberdeenshire. And she’s not prepared to debate because she’s far far too busy preparing for Brexit, which in her case entails involves avoiding all questions, preaching about a coalition of chaos, and holding a photo opportunity in a factory in Kent. Theresa May expects the public to place absolute trust in her when she doesn’t trust the public enough to speak to them on their own terms.

Of course we all know the real reason why Theresa won’t debate with the other party leaders. It’s because she’s got all the warmth of the planetoid Pluto, and all the wit of Pluto the cartoon dog, and like the Greek god Pluto her mission is to take us all to the lowest depths of hell. Theresa is to witty and engaging banter as plutonium is to health food. But what do you expect from a woman who’s going to turn the country into a plutocracy.

There’s a connection between Theresa May’s haughty disdain for engagement and her lackey Ruth’s disdain for the outcome of Scottish votes. Both occur because the British state has no written constitution, no clear division of powers, and no effective means of holding politicians to account. Democracy in the UK has always been a thin veneer on the British establishment’s firm grasp on power and wealth, but now increasingly they’re no longer even bothering with the veneer. The pretence of democratic engagement has been replaced with a sneering disregard for accountability. The voters get what they decide to give us, and they can’t even be bothered to tell us what they have in mind when they’re up for election.

The contempt in which Theresa May and Ruth Davidson hold the democratic process needs to be met with contempt from the voters, and sending them both a firm and clear message on Thursday of next week that we don’t appreciate the way in which they take Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom, for granted. We need to tell them that we won’t be governed by an organ grinder who throws poo on democracy like a monkey.

Audio version of this blog, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/the-monkey-and-the-organ-grinder-wee-ginger-dug-31st-may-2017

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

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

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‘Mon then if ye think ye’re haurd enough

The gloves are most definitely off now. The Tories decided that they’re going to fight this general election on a platform of implacable opposition to another independence referendum. It’s their sole policy. It’s the only thing that they talk about. The Tories don’t want to mention Brexit or say what they’ll do to avoid the damage that it could do to the Scottish economy. The Tories don’t want to mention of the changes they’ve made to the social security system that have driven untold thousands to despair and destitution. The Tories don’t want to talk about their destruction of the life opportunities and chances of the disabled with their woefully ill-thought out changes to disability benefits. The Tories don’t want to discuss how their tax policies benefit the rich and the powerful while public services are stripped to the bone. The Scottish Conservatives only want to talk about another independence referendum and their opposition to it.

Well fine then. If the Scottish Conservatives fail to achieve a majority of Scottish Westminster seats, if they fail to become the largest party in terms of vote share, then they’ve lost. And that means that the Scottish electorate will have explicitly rejected the Tory platform of opposition to another independence referendum. A mere increase in vote share won’t cut it. An increase in the number of seats the Tories hold won’t cut it unless they somehow manage to secure a majority of Scottish Westminster seats. You don’t win a race by narrowing the gap between yourself and the winner, you win it by overtaking them. Doing better is not the same as winning. Improvement is not victory.

The Scottish Tories have chosen the grounds on which they wish to contest this general election. No one has forced them to obsess over independence. No one twisted their arm and demanded that they make this a single issue vote. So if the Tories wish to establish that there is indeed no support for another independence referendum then they need to win 30 Westminster seats and overtake the SNP in terms of vote share. Anything else is just Ruth Davidson’s tank top puffery. The Tories chose the battleground, they don’t get to choose the terms of victory. They win or lose in terms of their Scottish results, not on the haunners they get from Conservative MPs elected south of the border.

In 2015 the SNP achieved a remarkable result and took all but three of Scotland’s Westminster seats. That result was during the fallout from the independence referendum a few months previously. The entire UK media was very much fixated on Scotland in general and the SNP in particular. The Conservatives in England in 2015 based their campaign on defeating the SNP. That guaranteed a huge amount of airtime and publicity for the SNP in the UK media, airtime and publicity that they’re not getting now. For once, Scotland actually mattered in a UK general election.

This general election is a reversion to the mean, both in the sense of a reversion to what usually happens in general elections in Scotland, when we’re consigned to irrelevance and we know that whatever happens here makes no difference to the eventual outcome, and in the sense that the Scottish Conservatives have reverted to meanness. Turn out in this election is likely to be significantly lower than in 2015, and since pro-independence support is concentrated in communities which have a historically lower propensity to turn out to vote, that is another factor which means that support for the SNP is likely to be lower this time.

In a first past the post system as is used for Westminster elections, victory is defined as achieving the largest number of seats. A moral victory is defined as achieving the largest share of the popular vote, although this is secondary because under first past the post it is possible for a party which attains the largest share of the vote not to win a majority of seats. In this upcoming election if the SNP wins 30 seats, a majority of the 59 Scottish Westminster seats, and if it remains the largest single party in terms of vote share, then it will unquestionably and without any shred of doubt, have won the election.  If will be equally beyond any doubt that the Scottish Conservatives and their monomaniacal opposition to another independence referendum will have lost. They will have lost even if they somehow manage to take 20 seats from the SNP. They will have lost even if they perform as well as the very best showing they’ve managed in any opinion polls.

What’s more, the SNP will have an unassailable claim to victory if, as seems likely, they achieve a greater percentage of the vote share in Scotland than Theresa May’s Conservatives manage to achieve in the UK as a whole. Theresa May will not be able to argue convincingly that she has a mandate to pursue the Brexit she’s defined for herself while denying that the SNP has a mandate for a second independence referendum if she’s won a lower percentage of the popular vote and a smaller proportional majority of seats than the SNP won in Scotland. Mind you, it won’t stop her trying.

The media and the Tories will try to spin a few losses for the SNP into a rout. But it will just be cant and spin. By any objective standards, by achieving just 30 seats and retaining their position as the largest single party the SNP will have won the general election in Scotland handsomely, and that will mean that in every single election since 2014 the largest party in Scotland will be a pro-independence party. And Scotland’s largest pro-independence party can do a whole lot better than that. If that’s not a mandate for another independence referendum then democracy is a joke.

That’s why the Scottish Government needs to use all and every lever to pressure Theresa May. Scotland’s legitimate and democratically expressed will to hold a second independence referendum must become a part of EU negotiations, and the Scottish Govt must step up its representations to the EU to ensure that it does. If May still refuses to concede that Scotland has a democratic right to a vote, then the vote must be held anyway. There are legal and constitutional routes to another referendum that do not entail asking Theresa May’s permission. There’s the possibility of a consultative referendum which doesn’t require a section 30 order from Westminster, or there’s the possiblity of turning Holyrood elections into a plebiscite election on independence. Theresa May can stamp her kitten heels all she likes, but she can’t prevent either of those from happening.

One way or another, Scotland will have its vote. This is about more than just Scottish independence, it’s about democracy itself. If the Conservatives deny Scotland its right to hold another referendum despite there being the clearest mandate possible for one, then Scottish democracy is dead. By making this general election all about the denial of Scotland’s right to determine its own future, the Conservatives have only made it more likely that another independence referendum will be held. Bring it on, as they say in England and America. Or as we say in Scotland, ‘mon then if ye think ye’re haurd enough.

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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.

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That’s bollocks

The signs and omens were poor from the start as Theresa May prepared to go not quite head-to-head with Jeremy Corbyn. She had at least conceded to appear in the same television studio as him, although not at the same time. Emborissing Johnson was deeply discountenanced by the leaderene’s woeful refusal to do what every other prime ministerial wannabe has done and participate in a proper debate. It takes a lot to embarrass Emborissing, but during the pre-match dissection on Sky News with Adam Boulton he gave up any pretence of answering Boulton’s questions and starting to put his own questions to the Labour representative instead. It was an embarrassing display from an embarrassing man, and a portent of what was to come. If you didn’t find Johnson’s petulant display of entitlement toe-curling, it can only be because you have no toes.

Clearly, the Boorish one has some sort of power of precognition that has hitherto gone unrecognised, because Theresa’s performance ticked every box in the 85 page full length version of the “Dear Gods how embarrassing was that” form. Now we know the real reason why Theresa May refused to engage in head-to-head debates with the other party leaders. It’s because she’s too much like a vampire. The more exposed she is to the light, the more her reputation turns to ashes. Unfortunately we can’t repel her with a clove of garlic and a crucifix, but Monday night’s so-called “Battle for Number 10”, broadcast simultaneously on Channel 4 and Sky News, has definitely put a stake through the heart of Theresa’s claims to be a competent and strong leader.

Answering questions from the audience, Jeremy Corbyn came across as personable, a man who is willing to listen, likeable even. Theresa May came over as remote, distant and cold, and once more demonstrated that the only political talent of any note that she possesses is the ability to avoid answering questions. Corbyn spoke with the audience. May spoke at them. At one point the audience were openly laughing at her. But as Theresa plummeted from each disaster she discovered there was no solid surface for her to land on, and she continued to crash even lower. As she attempted to deliver a not very convincing defence of Conservative management of the NHS in England, to the delight of lip readers everywhere a man in a blue shirt in the audience mouthed, “That’s bollocks.” Time after time she failed to satisfy the audience, proving that she can only function when surrounded by lackies who applaud her robotic soundbites, but put her in a room full of real human beings who are allowed to ask her questions, and she comes across with all the wit and warmth of an abandoned piss soaked mattress on Dalmarnock Road.

Things didn’t get much better in the second half, when Corbyn and May were separately interrogated by Jeremy Paxman. Corbyn managed to get through his interview more or less in one piece, despite the fact that he was scarcely allowed to answer the question before Paxman interrupted to ask something else. However at least he was attempting to give honest answers to the questions, which is considerably more than could be said for Theresa May. There was a crucial difference in the questions put to each leader though – Corbyn was interrogated about his past, and gave credible replies even though they were replies which might not satisfy everyone. May was interrogated about the future, and dismally failed to deliver.

Noting her inability to come up with anything concrete or specific in connection with her Brexit plans, or indeed with anything at all, the questioning got a lot tougher. Paxman brought up the painful, for Theresa, topic of her repeated U-turns, specifically her recent U-turn on National Insurance contributions for the self-employed, which had lasted just a week while being shot down in flames by her usually fawning press. Obviously Theresa is a woman who knows how to cope with pressure, she just collapses like a crushed can in a compactor. The EU will have noted this too, suggested Paxo, before going in for the kill. “Aren’t you just a blowhard who collapses at the first sound of gunfire?” he asked to a round of applause from the audience. Theresa glared at him with a look that could fry a pound of mince all the way from the far side of that distant galaxy where she’s concocted her Brexit plans, clearly wondering when her minions would get around to upgrading the Maybot with a death ray. She made a mental note to tread on the back of the lackey who had suggested this interview with her highest high heels.

She did manage to elicit one small round of applause from the audience, when she repeated one of her favourite soundbites, even though it’s a soundbite which is even less meaningful than most of them. “No deal is better than a bad deal,” she repeated like a protective mantra when being asked about what sort of Brexit deal she’d accept. But the truth is that if there is a bad deal it will only be because Theresa isn’t as good at negotiations as she’d had us believe. Most of all however, it’s a senseless soundbite because no deal is a very bad deal indeed. No deal means trade tarrifs, massive distruption to exports, a plummeting pound and increasing costs, job losses that could run into the hundreds of thousands, and huge queues and delays at ferry ports. It means that UK citizens living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK face appalling uncertainty. It means a hard border in Ireland and the very real possibility that violence might break out again there. The only worse deal than no deal would be for the EU to propose that the UK becomes a slave colony of an alien empire from somewhere in that galaxy where Theresa May’s devising her Brexit plans. Although to be honest since the Tories are planning to turn post-Brexit Britain into a slave colony of Donald Trump the space aliens might still be a better option. At least their orange skin is natural.

At the end of the proceedings a single solitary Tory stood up to give Theresa a standing ovation.  Then he looked round to realise that he was entirely by himself.  The other Conservative Association plants in the audience had wilted.  But even so, reports in the Tory press today claim that May won the debate, which is the perfect illustration of how the public has lost faith in the media.  It’s one thing to lie about events that take place behind closed doors or in far away countries, it’s quite another to lie about a Tory galactoshambles that has just taken place before our very eyes.

So what we learned this evening is that Jeremy Corbyn isn’t the bogey man that the press makes him out to be, and that Theresa May’s reputation for competence is as artificial as Donald Trump’s tan. It’s probably not going to be enough to lose her the election, but it just might knock a few percentage points off the lead that she enjoys in the polls, and for that we should be grateful.

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 to close your eyes

There are people are considering voting Tory, even people who live in working class communities blighted by poverty and the searing destruction of the soul that deprivation engenders. They’re considering voting Tory because they don’t want another independence referendum, because they don’t want to think about the calamitous consequences of even a supposedly successful Brexit, because they wish that all this politics business would just go away and leave them alone. They’re people who’re reacting against a gun being placed against their temples by voting to pull the trigger. They’re voting Tory to make uncertainty go away, when all that voting Tory will achieve is to destable our society even more. They’re voting for the symptoms because they’re afraid of the cure.

Two reports published this week lay bare the social chasms caused by Conservative rule. This is the party which preaches against division but which causes the greatest divisions of all. This is the party which claims that differences of political opinion in a democracy are a bad thing, while creating differences of life chances and opportunities which define and distort entire lives. This is the party of careerist cant that seeks stability on the back of lies, but what else do you expect from comfortable people who blame poverty on the poor. The poor are to be punished for their poverty because the poor must be castigated in order to do better. The rich must be rewarded and cossetted. And all the while the gulf between the haves and the have nots grows wider, social mobility ossifies, equality becomes a distant dream, and the Tories preach against the supposed divisions of wanting to do something to remedy the shameful state of affairs that they’ve created.

A report from Glasgow University this week lays bare the catastrophic effect of benefits sanctions on people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Dr David Webster of Glasgow University has calculated that benefits sanctions now exceed the number of fines imposed by courts of law. Court fines come about after criminal prosecutions, after the accused has had a chance to state their case before a court in which their interests are represented by lawyers and advocates. There is a clear standard of evidence, and a high bar of proof that must be established. Then, and only then, can the court take the decision to deprive a convicted person of a part of their income in restitution for their crime and when that decision is made it must take into account the person’s income and their ability to pay.

None of these checks and balances apply to those who are deprived of part or all of their incomes when they are subject to benefits sanctions. There is no legal representation, there is no balance of evidence, no standard of proof. All that is required is the opinion of a DWP case worker. Those sanctioned by the DWP lose a greater proportion of their income than people subject to court fines. Unlike a court, the DWP doesn’t consider whether their sanctions will leave a person destitute and without any income at all. Worst of all, back in 2011 a whistleblower claimed that DWP staff were given targets and had to sanction at least three claimants a week. The DWP strongly denied there are national targets, but evidence continues to mount that staff in individual offices are indeed pressurised by management to impose more sanctions.

According to a report from the National Audit Office in 2016, in 2015 alone benefits sanctions led to around £132 million being withheld from the poorest people in the country. Between 2010 and 2015 24% of Jobseekers Allowance claimants were sanctioned. The report found that despite the claims of government ministers that sanctions work by encouraging people to find work, the truth is that the sanction regime actually makes it harder for claimants to find work. It also found that some job centres were twice as likely as others to refer clients for sanctions although the DWP had no information on the causes of the variance, leading to the supposition that some staff members were more likely than others to impose sanctions for the same “offences”. When justice is capricious, there is no justice at all.

Those who have been sanctioned and left destitute have no other options but to seek assistance from foodbanks. As the sanctions regime has grown, so have foodbanks spread. A report released this week from the Trussel Trust, the largest provider of foodbanks, says that there are now over 2000 foodbanks in the country, providing over 1.2 million food parcels annually. According to the report this figure is a minimum figure, as it doesn’t include food parcels distributed by informal networks such as churches, housing associations, and community groups.

Theresa May claims that the reasons people have to resort to foodbanks are “complex”. But they’re not complex at all. People have to seek assistance from foodbanks because they don’t have anything to eat and no money with which to buy food. That’s not complex. That’s quite simple to understand. And it’s not just people who have been unfairly penalised by the benefits system who have to seek help from foodbanks, increasingly it’s people who are actually working, but who are reliant on zero-hours contracts, so-called gig economy jobs, or whose wages simply can’t support their families – a problem that is increasing as the Conservatives take an axe to housing benefit, tax credits for the low paid, and other benefits which once helped support those in low paid employment. More and more in the UK the much touted Tory line that work is the route out of poverty has become a cruel joke.

Yet the demonisation of the poor continues. According to figures from the Dept of Works and Pensions, benefit fraud costs the taxpayer £1.3 billion annually. This figure is less than the £1.8 billion annually representing payments made in error – in other words the DWP would save the taxpayer more more if it concentrated on dealing with its own mistakes rather than chasing those defrauding the system. The amount underpaid in error was £1.3 billion in 2012 (the most recent year for which I could find figures) – the same as the amount lost to fraud. But all these figures are dwarfed by the estimated £16 billion annually lost to tax fraud, and the even bigger figure lost to tax avoidance schemes. Yet this Tory government has slashed jobs in tax offices, and continues to prioritise penalising benefits claimants. This is not unrelated to the fact that benefits are claimed by the poor, whereas tax fraud and tax avoidance are predominantly practised by middle class people who are more likely to vote Tory.

We live in a society which has lost all sense of proportion because that is what suits the wealthy and the powerful. A vote for the Conservatives is a vote to ignore the kind of society that Britain is becoming. Vote Tory, vote to put the bullet in your temple. Vote to destroy your community. Vote for private greed. Vote to close your eyes.

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


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

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

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

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The incompetent bossiness of Theresa May

Theresa May is bossy and controlling. She’s secretive. She’s manipulative. She’s all the worst aspects of management rolled into a designer clown suit with extremely expensive shoes. What she isn’t is competent. Theresa May isn’t competent. You only need to look at her record as Home Secretary to see that. To see that she’s incompetent you only need to listen to her vacuous and content-free repetition of soundbites instead of answering questions. A competent leader can answer questions with direct answers because a competent leader doesn’t need to hide behind a smokescreen of strong and stable buzz phrases.

A competent leader wouldn’t have stood before the Tory party conference in 2011 and claimed that she couldn’t deport a foreign national who had overstayed his visa because he had a cat. But Theresa May did just that. “I’m not making this up,” she said. And that much was true. She didn’t make it up. Someone else had made it up but Theresa didn’t bother to check whether it was true because she’s incomptenent. Theresa May vomited up a Ukip meme because it suited her purpose. Six years later as Prime Minister she’s still vomiting up Ukip memes without bothering to check if they’re true, without caring whether they’re true. They suit her purpose, and her purpose is power.

Theresa May is the Home Secretary who sent grass up your neighbour vans to tour the streets telling undocumented migrants and people who have overstayed their visas to “go home”, channelling the language used by the National Front. Theresa didn’t bother to check whether the style and wording of her mobile billboards had been previously used by yer actual fascists, just like she’s never bothered to check the references to strong and stable government in Mein Kampf. Even Nigel Farage criticised the van campaign as being divisive and in poor taste. That’s like being condemned for homophobia by the Westboro Baptist Church or being told off by the Ku Klux Klan for racism.

Yet many people still apparently believe that Theresa May is a competent Prime Minister, but that’s because a lot of people confuse bossiness with competence. Theresa May is very bossy, and when you’re bossy but don’t allow anyone to question you you can create an aura of competence. With Theresa May you don’t have to look too far before that aura is punctured and her reputation for competence farts its way across the room like a depressurised balloon. Which isn’t a bad description of just about every Tory press conference that’s been held during this election campaign. Theresa May is the queen of cliché who couldn’t even last 30 seconds when a kid glove interviewer like Andrew Marr asked her not to use soundbites. There are genocidal killer robots in sci-fi shows with more tact, sensitivity and empathy.

And this bossy incompetent power hungry opportunist wants to abolish the Human Rights Act and replace it with a so-called British Bill of Rights. Because British Rights are special. British Rights are different. When you’re British you don’t need human rights. We’re told to trust in the apologists for the British Empire to respect our human rights. The apologists of the British Empire who claim that Britain is the only country that doesn’t need to apologise for its 20th century history, a history which comprised one of the greatest assaults on human rights that the world has ever seen, an assault which included the genocide of Native Australians, the mutilation and castration of anti-colonialist campaigners in Kenya, and the forced depopulation of the entire nation of the Chagos Islands. Those are only some of the most egregious examples of what the British establishment has done in the dark, while hiding from the light of international standards of human rights.

The bossy incompetent in Number 10 wants an increased majority so that she can do what ever the hell she pleases in Brexit negotiations with the EU. We’ll get the Brexit deal that Theresa decides is good for Theresa’s grasp on power, and we’re not going to be told beforehand what that deal is, nor have any opportunity to voice disagreement with it after the event. We’re going into these negotiations with a leader who, according to the EU president, seems to be on a different galaxy from the realities of what Brexit entails.

Theresa May is strong in her incompetence, and stable in her pursuit of power. She’s the head of a government of man and woman children who wrote their Brexit plans with a coalition of crayons. We’ve had innovative jam, cunning wheezes scratched out on the back of a comic, tousle haired public schoolboys, and threats to go to war with those dastardly foreigners in Spain. Life in the UK these days is like being trapped inside an Enid Blyton novel with a sociopath.

The promises made in the Tory manifesto have more U-bends than a public lavatory, and just as much crap. Theresa’s reversal of her previous position on free school breakfasts means that’s she’s yer actual cereal U-turner. And yet we’re told that the main selling point of a woman who changes her mind more frequently than RuPaul changes outfits is that she’s strong and stable. This is the election in which reality fled to that far galaxy which Theresa inhabits. When it comes to Tory policy, any auld mince will do. It’s whatever gets Theresa re-elected, there’s no need for it to be true, there’s no need for it to be put into effect. British politics is a post-truth zone, and that’s largely thanks to Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Yet the chances are that this incompetent robotic control freak will be returned to power with an increased majority. In Scotland she hopes her party will pick up seats and votes on the backs of people who don’t want another referendum, who don’t want to think about the kind of Britain that’s on offer, and who refuse to think about the Brexshit that is flying through the air and is about to hit the EU fan. A Tory vote is a vote for infantilisation, a vote to be lied to, a vote to be taken for granted, a vote to replace idealism with opportunism. It’s never been more vital, more important, more crucial, that we do all we can to ensure that their support is minimised. This is the election in which basic human decency, truth, and morality are at stake, this is the election in which Scotland learns that the only way to secure a future in which decency, truth, and morality are respected is with independence.

Audio version of this blog post, courtesy of Sarah Mackie @lumi_1984 https://soundcloud.com/occamshaver/the-incompetent-bossiness-of-theresa-may-28th-may-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

Journeys to Yes, 11, 12, & 13

While I was away a few more of Phantom Power’s excellent videos in his Journey to Yes series have been released.  Help to make some more of these videos which are a wonderful campaigning tool to persuade wavering voters to come to yes – contribute here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/journey-to-yes-film#/

Number 11 – Kathi

Kathi left East Germany when the wall fell to study in Scotland . She now works as a language teacher and lives with her British family in the Scottish Borders. Kathi and her family are just one of many who now face the agonising wait to see what their post-Brexit future in Scotland will be. Kathi discusses ideas of nationalism and her experience of Scotland as an open and international country where anyone can be Scottish if they choose. . After voting No in the first independence referendum, Brexit proved to be the catalyst for Kathi to find out more about the viability of an independent Scotland. Kathi began to distrust her traditional news choices in favour of The National and new media Wings Over Scotland and Bella Caledonia. Kathi has reached the view that Scotland can be a successful country and needs to go in its own direction unhampered by Westminster. Kathi has become increasingly active politically and now runs the twitter operation of Germans for Independence at Germans for ScotRef . In a short time Kathi has built a strong online community of Germans, Europeans and Internationals who have embraced the idea of self-determination for Scotland. EU Nationals’ voice may prove vital in the next referendum. After a year since the Brexit vote, the UK Govt and Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories have provided no guarantees for EU Nationals and the attempt to move the next referendum beyond the EU exit date will deny the voices of 160,000 of our EU friends.
NB The Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Number 12 – Sophie

Sophie Grace-Chappell is a highly regarded Professor of Philosophy at The Open University and lives in Dundee. Professor Grace-Chappell is transgender and has a particular interest in how power structures impact the society we live in. The idea of internationalism, tolerance and a more caring society is fundamental to her philosophy. The promise of a federal UK through which Scotland’s democratic defecit would be addressed encouraged Professor Grace-Chappell to vote No. The series of democratic betrayals since 2014 and outcome of the Brexit vote gradually convinced Sophie that independence is now the correct moral action for Scotland. Professor Grace-Chappell also discusses the rise of the Tory right-wing authoritarian government and disturbing implications for the LGBT community. A safer and better future awaits if Scotland chooses a different path.

New Scottish Media recommended by Sophie Grace-Chappell
Wings Over Scotland https://wingsoverscotland.com/
Wee Ginger Dug https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/
Craig Murray https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

Sophie Grace-Chappell on Brexit
https://www.scribd.com/document/34901…
Sophie Grace-Chappell on becoming Transgender
https://www.scribd.com/document/34901…

Article on Trans Parenting recommended by Sophie Grace-Chappell
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2…

Scottish LGBT Organisations
Terrance Higgins Trust http://www.tht.org.uk/
Stonewall Scotland http://www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/
Parents Enquiry Scotlandhttp://www.parentsenquiryscotland.org/
LGBT Youth Scotland http://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/
LGBT History Month Scotland http://www.lgbthistory.org.uk/
LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing http://www.lgbthealth.org.uk/
Glasgow LGBT Centre http://www.glgbt.org.uk/
Fair For All – LGBT http://www.lgbthealthscotland.org.uk/
Equality Network http://www.equality-network.org/
Diversitay LGBT Group http://www.diversitay.org.uk/

Number 13 – James

James is a pensioner and former paratrooper who lives in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire. James voted No to independence and leave in the EU referendum but has completely changed his views on both. James discusses his disillusion with the UK Govt and their inept handling of constitutional issues, a famous relation and deeply unimpressive Scottish Tories and Labour.

Looking at the bigger picture

I’m not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn as far as Scotland is concerned. On topics Caledonian, he channels the knuckle-dragging careerist element of Labour in Scotland and since Scotland’s movement for self-determination isn’t sufficiently glamorous or unambiguously anti-colonialist, it’s the only movement for self-determination he won’t support. If only Scotland had more fields of quinoa hand harvested by sun beaten Quechua speaking peasants who were directly descended from the last Inca emperor then we might get more of a favourable hearing from Jezza. People living in Glasgow sink estates who are descended from dispossessed Gaelic speaking crofters who were thrown off their lands in order to make way for sheep and deer for the rich just don’t cut it for him. The Labour leader’s support for national self-determination movements is directly proportional to how far away they are from Islington. It makes it easier to romanticise them.

This lack of support is not unconnected with the view in Labour that the party needs Scotland in order to secure power in Westminster. Which is yet another instance of Labour’s propensity for putting the party before the people. Labour needs Scotland, but Scotland doesn’t need Labour.

However when it comes to exploring more intelligent and thoughtful responses to terrorist atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn speaks a lot of sense. Let’s be clear – the responsibility for the cruel murders carried out recently in Manchester falls squarely with the perpetrators. They are to blame, they are culpable. They and they alone are criminally responsible. And if there is a God he or she will judge them harshly for it. There is no eternal paradise waiting for the Manchester suicide bomber, only the damnation of the living. A god who is happy to see children murdered isn’t a god, it’s a demon. If we call on Muslim communities to reflect upon the perversion of their religion which a minority supports and which that minority claims justifies violence, we must likewise reflect upon the actions of Western societies. That’s precisely what Jeremy Corbyn was saying.

Corbyn makes a valid and important point. The so-called ‘war on terror’ is clearly not working, and it’s not working because we focus on the means but never the motives. The government and much of the media talk about finds of terrorist material, about arrests of terrorist suspects, about the processes by which terrorists carry out their evil deeds. But they’re less inclined to address what causes these things to happen in the first place. The point that Jeremy Corbyn was making was not to exculpate or excuse those who carry out atrocities.

Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t placing the blame on the British state and removing it from people who plant bombs in public places and blow up children. He was very clear that the bombers and those who supported and supplied them have the responsibility for the attack. He most certainly wasn’t legitimising the planting of a bomb at a concert venue. What he was saying is that we must understand what causes people to take these appalling actions if we want to stop them happening in the future. This is not a complex point. If you want to tackle drug crime, you need to understand what causes people to use drugs. If you want to tackle the crimes of terrorism, you need to understand what causes people to adopt terrorist tactics.

The crucial point is that terrorism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. UK foreign policy is clearly a part of the narrative. Terrorism doesn’t happen simply because there are bad people in the world. Terrorism has a context, and if we want to prevent terrorism we need to understand its whole context, not just those parts of it that make us feel comfortable. And it is an uncomfortable truth that when those who commit or support violent and extreme acts of terrorism based on a perverted version of Islam are questioned about their motives and what caused them to be radicalised in the first place, time after time they cite British foreign policy as a motivating factor. They cite the fact that Britain supports vile dictators and supplies them with arms and weapons. They cite the wars and destruction that the UK has wrought on a succession of countries. They cite the unjustified and unjustifiable war in Iraq which left that country in ruins and which unleashed the demons of IS.

None of this justifies terrorism of course, but if as a society we wish to prevent people from going down the path that leads to a suicide bombing in a crowded arena, we need to understand what causes them to take the first steps, so that they can be stopped from going any further.

Despite that, Corbyn’s nuanced and careful remarks were leapt on by Boris Johnson and Michael Fallon, both of them cheerleaders for supplying arms and weapons to dictators around the world in the name of British exports, and both of whom were quick to accuse Corbyn of legitimising terrorism. Not for the first time Boris Johnson is wrong and self-serving. The person seeking to make political capital out of the deaths of children in Manchester is the vile buffoon who carelessly tosses out racist remarks and serially insults foreign leaders.

Corbyn’s remarks were equally leapt on by Tim Farron, the opportunistic leader of the Lib Dems. Despite his own opposition to the Iraq War which he described as illegal and counterproductive and leading to the failed Iraqi state we see today where terrorist groups flourish, Farron criticised Corbyn for making the exact same points.

Theresa May and her followers have no solutions to terrorism. All they have is the theatre of security gestures, of increased security checks at airports, of armed soldiers on the street, of increased surveillance and the erosion of civil rights. They seek to diminish the symptoms of terrorism but have nothing to say about the causes beyond simplistic nostrums about bad people committing evil deeds. There’s no guarantee that Corbyn’s approach will lead to an answer, to an end to the atrocities and the deaths, both in this country and abroad, but at least he’s attempting to begin to address the underlying causes. That’s something he deserves to be praised for, something he deserves support for. He is correct to point out that the only reason there are armed soldiers on the streets of England is because when she was Home Secretary Theresa May slashed police budgets and numbers. The SNP likewise recognises that there’s a bigger and more complex picture, saying today that the role of the UK and its foreign wars should not be off limits in discussions of terrorism. Complex and difficult problems have complex and difficult solutions. On this, as on so many other issues, the Tories have no answers. They only promise more of the same.

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