Coming home to roost

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Today’s the day we saw betterthigitherness coming home to roost in all its pooling and sharing glory. Are we surprised that a Tory government finally came for you where you live? ‘Forward together’ with ‘strong and stable’ government in the national interest. “Stronger, fairer and more prosperous than ever before” is the claim. And if you don’t agree with that leadership? Presumably yer agin’ the national interest I suppose.

Today was Tory manifesto day and it’s a helluva document for yer average Joe Public to peruse. Full of the usual policy wonk doublespeak (as are most manifestos tbf), and robbing Peter to pay Paul economic waffle, which basically means we’re still skint and I’m passing round the hat to those who can least afford it. There are however, subjects that stand out to almost everyone who takes an interest. Even if you don’t understand in depth everything your’re reading, you’ll find something that catches your eye and hits you right where you live. This latest offering from the Conservatives has a fair amount to struggle through and more than a few hot chestnuts for the clever clogs out there to be chewing over. How and ever, a wee taster to be getting on with:

The repeal of the Fixed Term Parliaments act (Translation: If any PM or government finds itself in the shit, as now, call a snap election and try to extend your term in office).

The end of the triple lock for pensions post 2020 (You really, really don’t want a translation for that one).

Scrapping stage 2 of the Leveson inquiry (Translation: keep your best buds sweet and onside).

Enactment of the Great Repeal Bill to proceed (Translation from Bond villain speak: Mwahahahahahaha!)

Fracking to be actively pursued as a revenue stream (Translation: see under Great Repeal Bill)

Immigration in general to be cut to 100k across all nationalities and a focus on reduction of immigration from Europe after Brexit (Translation: Vote for me ’cause I’m jolly difficult!)

As I say that’s just a taste, but let’s move on to the devolved legislatures. Obviously we’re particularly interested in Scotland at this point which, as everyone knows, is still part of Theresa’s preciousss, preciousss union. Just so folk are crystal clear on the current state of the Scottish parliament and its powers:

“It was the Conservative and Unionist party that delivered the 2012 and 2016 Scotland acts, and only the Conservative and Unionist party can deliver further powers and the best possible deal for Scotland as we leave the European Union” (page 32 Conservative manifesto)

Should we thank Theresa for control of the awesome powers of APD, aggregates levy, road signage and responsibility for collecting a percentage of income tax now or on June 8th? Also, I’m wondering if Labour and the Libdems should feel relieved that the PM has expunged them of any complicity in the current settlement or not? The dears did work so hard before, during and after the last indyref to bring the current constitutional omnishambles to everyone’s doorstep. Gordon, I’m sure, will probably feel terribly hurt and left out. It’d seem a shame not to give them their due place in the big show, or perhaps the PM has? Now that is a thought for their current leadership to ponder.

Moving on though, we find on page 36 and 37 the meat on the bones. The enactment of the Great Repeal Bill. The good news? EU laws and protections won’t end overnight (honest). There is however a ‘but’ to that statement:

“The Bill will also create the necessary powers to correct the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU, so our legal system can continue to function outside the EU. Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of EU law it chooses, as will the devolved legislatures, where they have the power to do so.” (Uh huh!)

“As powers return from the EU we will be able to determine the level best placed to take decisions on these issues.” (Uh huh with knobs on! Oh, and who is this we Kemosabe?)

“We will not bring the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law. We will not repeal or replace the Human Rights Act while the process of Brexit is underway but we will consider our human rights legal framework when the process of leaving the EU concludes.” (The knobs now have knobs)

Oh and “No deal is better than a bad deal”, “Brexit means Brexit” and the sun always shines on TV. There’s something in there for everyone, from the youngest in our society to the oldest, NO ONE gets missed out for special treatment. That you may not want to go forward together with Treeza is understandable by this point. That, haud the phone, you might not agree that she presents either a strong and stable leadership, or a vision of a fairer, more prosperous society could mark you as a dangerous extremist acting against the ‘national interest’. Pure divisive this politics lark, so it is.

Make no mistake though, this is Theresa’s idea of moving the UK to a fairer, stronger, more productive society and country (don’t get me started on her use of the singular). That would be a fairer, stronger, more productive Conservative society then. A society where you better not be a third child. A society where you work till you die. A society where you daren’t get ill, or through no fault of your own become jobless. Theresa’s society is a society for those strong enough, fit enough, lucky enough.

The rest of us? The poor, the disabled, the jobless, the disenfranchised, those who don’t conform, don’t think the way Treeza does? Well she did say this was a Conservative manifesto. The PM’s vision of the UK going ‘forward’ doesn’t sound very forward at all to me, but then I’m not big on the whole survival of the fittest school of political ideology.

You can change this future with only two more votes.

Think about that.

Hypocrisy thy name is…

A guest post by Samuel Miller

I honestly don’t know who or what is worse; Corbyn and his wannabe Kezia Dugdale, or May and her mini me Ruth Harrison (Fallon, the gift that keeps on etc.). Today was a benchmark day for both teams in hypocrisy and shear disingenuous cobblers.

Let’s start with Ruth Davidson shall we? It seems Ruth gave a speech to the George Orwell Foundation (irony klaxon). Aye, apparently people get confused between nationalism and patriotism and they’re really quite different you know. Nationalism, especially Scottish nationalism, is bad. It’s all that ‘bullying and hectoring’ the Scottish government and their supporters do. Patriotism however, especially Ruth’s fleg wavy, tank riding, buffalo wrangling variety is good. So some folk who wrap their bigotry, their violence and their hatred in flegs will be delighted to find out that they’re not bad nationalists, but rather good patriots. Who knew?

Just for the removal of doubt and of course to prove that both hypocrisy and irony are dishes best served cold, I’d suggest Ruth looks up both words in a dictionary.

Here’s the thing though, patriotism and nationalism are just words and a flag is merely a piece of cloth with bright colours. What gives words weight and a coloured symbol meaning are associated actions.  The extremes of both those words have led to some of the greatest crimes in humanity’s history, equally some of the worlds greatest criminals hid behind the symbol of their country.

Of themselves there is no harm in feeling patriotism or national pride,  a sense of belonging in your community, your country, your population. Taken in the extreme to a sense of exclusion, exceptionalism and even xenophobia? That is a different and darker path altogether. Which politics in the UK reflects the latter more accurately today? That’s one for the reader to decide.

A final thought for Ruth (in case she’s confused you understand). ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’ Samuel Johnson

Then we come to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour manifesto.  Well what can you say?

This is the relevant quote from page 104 of Labour’s 2017 manifesto:

Labour opposes a second Scottish independence referendum. It is unwanted and unnecessary, and we will campaign tirelessly to ensure Scotland remains part of the UK. Independence would lead to turbo-charged austerity for Scottish families.

‘Unwanted and unnecessary’ … says who?  Last I checked the Scottish government is the only legislative body in the UK with an overwhelming public mandate across all elections and under three completely differing balloting procedures. ‘Independence would lead to turbo charged austerity’. On two counts this is pushing the boundaries of credibility. Firstly, that is an untested and unquantifiable opinion. No one has any idea what measures an independent Scottish government would take to grow their economy, marshall their resources and revenue stream or indeed who that government may be. Secondly, Scotland was already promised a great deal of security, pooling and sharing, broad shouldered better togetherness a little over two years ago. What Scotland received was somewhat less than that, as thousands of newly unemployed folk can attest to. We were also promised guaranteed membership of the EU, that we’d be living in a near federal state, that our state pension arrangements were safe and that job security was assured only by voting NO.

Safe to say that Mr Corbyn’s idea of ‘unwanted and unnecessary’ may be somewhat different to anyone else’s. Jeremy’s big catchphrase this time round is ‘For the many, not the few’. So far, he’s doing a damn fine job of protecting the entitlement of the few to decide the fate of the many. Also worth noting Mr Corbyn’s well publicised stance on leaving the EU. Regaining full sovereignty is good for only the goose apparently.

Just so he’s aware?

The UK is ‘notionally’ a union of nations. Scotland is a nation, a partner, a signatory to the treaty of union and the people of Scotland have the inalienable human right to self determination. The principle… is that we have the right to choose.

We decide.

The difference a week makes

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Y’know, you’d be forgiven for wondering what you have to do to get a balanced interview on any current issue were you a member of the Scottish government. Yesterday’s Andrew Marr show provided a perfect example as Scotland’s First Minister, ostensibly invited on to presumably answer questions on the upcoming general election,  spent a fair chunk of the interview discussing the devolved issue of education in Scotland. Again, you’d be forgiven for expecting the issues of Brexit, the constitutional question and perhaps the performance of SNP MPs over the past two years may have been on point, but hey ho, different strokes for different folks.

No question, the fall in standards in literacy and numeracy within the P4, P7 and S2 are poor over the period specified. No one should take a drop in educational or child performance standards lightly. Quite rightly, the First Minister held her hands up right away and said exactly the same thing, not once, but a number of times throughout the interview. The buck does indeed stop with those responsible for budget oversight and curriculum. Mr Marr was expecting what precisely after the second and third repetition of the same question? I’m not entirely sure he was used to a politician coming back with an honest answer and accepting responsibilty.

Still, if we’re going to be picking facts out of performances it’s surely also worth taking these on board. Attainment for school leavers over the same period has also markedly risen. It may also be worth noting that there are some things both the Scottish government and even the local authorities, (tasked with maintaining and staffing of the schools within their communities), may find beyond their ability to alter. Poverty for instance, has long been linked closely with educational attainment or lack thereof.

You know it’s true enough that if you throw enough money, manpower and resources at a situation, you can solve almost any problem. What happens though, when you can’t? What happens if you don’t have the money, the manpower, or the resources? What happens when you can’t generate the things you need, make the alterations you want, provide what you desperately want to provide, because you don’t have the latitude you require with your own economy? Because… you don’t run your own economy?

Bit of a rule of thumb, but there’s never an easy single answer to highly complex questions. Just a thought.

Still, not to be deterred from all things devolved, Ruth Davidson stuck her own oar into the paddling pool on this self same issue recently, with the broad claim that “The SNP has been in sole charge of education for a decade, and these failings are inexcusable. One in five children leave school functionally illiterate.” So how did that truly stack up then? Well, according to Ferret Fact Service, not so much as it turns out. This IS an election period. If something has a poor result or record, you better believe that by the time a party politician has finished spinning it, that poor result will be released as a biblical catastrophy beyond endurance.

(Keep an open mind. Do a little digging and decide for yourself whether a headline or a soundbite has gone a bit too far. Don’t let the meeja and the spin doctors lead you by the nose.)

Not content with merely the one tack on devolved issues, Ms Davidson then moves smoothly (cough), on to the subject of ‘free prescriptions’. Forgetting for a moment that this is one of the most colossal U turns by any Scottish Conservative ever, there is the teeny matter of competency involved here. Once more this would fall into an area of devolved government. On a few counts this may be a tad problematic. Firstly, she’d clearly have to go and ask the PM, (very nicely), if this is okay to pledge as a general rule and secondly she is NOT Scotland’s First Minister.  The next Holyrood elections are a wee bit far off at this point and let’s face it, there’s also the small issue of trust involved here. Neither Conservative government as a rule, or Ms Davidon in particular, has proven the most trustworthy of individuals on pretty much anything in terms of policy.

Worth listening to this recent radio interview to get a taste of how Ms Davidson’s views, on any given subject, change according to the weather. (LINK)

Then we get to it. THE question. Why aren’t we talking about general election matters? Why aren’t we discussing the issues generated by Westminster legislation and Conservative government? Could Ruth’s widely publicised support of the Rape Clause have anything to do with it? Or could it be the recently publicised revelations over the  improper and abusive social media behaviour of some of her party support and indeed new local authority councillors?  It must seem to the casual observer, when watching or listening to Ruth these days, if someone so much as mentions the ‘R’ word or Brexit, the subject changes faster than you can say ‘delete history’.

The gaffs on devolved issues are bad and bad enough, but having the media or the public look more closely at the legislation and nature of Conservative government and Conservative support in Scotland? Drawing people’s attention to what lies beneath the spin, the photo op and the soundbite? Don’t look over here, look over there springs to mind. Manipulation by media and soundbite. A time honoured sport in political circles.

Some say a week is a long time in politics. In a little over a week Ms Davidson has come dangerously close to proving that adage accurate beyond all reasonable doubt.

The Tory party aren’t the nasty party. That’s the message Ruth wants to send. That’s the face we are to be presented with. If there isn’t a convenient photo op to hand, then the focus is to be upon devolved issues and a shouty, pointy fingered and pure dead serious Ruth being all concerned about folks welfare.

As far as yer average policy wonk is concerned, people having short memories? They’ll never be any the wiser… etc.

In my opinion ‘nasty’ seems somehow a little weak and inadequate. Conservatism to me, through words and policy, unreservedly stands full square behind societal division along lines of whom they deem worthy. In fact I’m pretty certain that their idea of unity may not exactly conform to the norm (sarky).

What we in Scotland experience today? I reckon this IS their idea of better togetherness. This IS their idea of union and unity. Their UK, their Britain, is a ‘know your place’ Britain. It is a deference Britain, a dog eat dog Britain, an isolationist Britain, but y’know, proud for all that.

Near as I can see, the defining traits appear to be fear, suspicion, envy and intolerance. Intolerance of anything that doesn’t fit, ain’t from around here, doesn’t conform. Under those terms I’m afraid I simply don’t qualify and for that I am profoundly and eternally grateful. I refuse to live constantly with fear and suspicion of our neighbours and friends. It’s not in me to feel envy or intolerance simply because I don’t or won’t understand.

I personally never have and never will vote Tory. They are the party of deference and exclusion, of ignorance and arrogance. They are the party of self. Don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve never been one for conformity or ‘knowing my place’ and today I mainly feel like standing on my feet and holding out my hand to new friends.

What’s it all about then?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

So what is this upcoming general election all about? Why are we having one at all?

Well if you’re a Tory politician, they’ll tell you it’s all about Brexit and a strong mandate to carry it through. Yeah, seeing a bit of a logic gap there myself.

Now to be absolutely clear on the Brexit vote, democracy is democracy and much as I disagree with the result of Brexit UK, it’s what the majority, (however slim), voted for. It’s been debated in both houses within Westminster parliament, (Commons and Lords), voted upon, passed and as we are all aware by this point, Article 50 has been triggered.

In short, IT’S HAPPENING RIGHT NOW! (Shouting for the folks at the back there)

Near as I can tell, the Conservative explanation for their snap GE simply doesn’t add up on the face of it. This is a done deal and Brexit is on its way. Given the nature of the negotiation stances of both the UK government and the EU even the nature of the Brexit isn’t up for much discussion. Under our current electoral system and Conservative majority in parliament, it’s not as if they need any greater mandate to finalize exit negotiations and carry forward a programme of government either.

Unless…  unless they themselves believe the ramifications of their decades long EU narrative, their massively damaging leadership struggle and their penchant for the politics of blame and scapegoating are going to have catastrophic consequences for the populations of the UK and the UK state far beyond their worst nightmare. Unless the Conservative government have been less than honest with the UK’s electorate?

No. No I don’t think it’s about Brexit. It may, however, be about what lies beyond Brexit.

Now if you were a cynical sod, then you’d perhaps suspect a sitting government, fearing the worst, would need a massively expanded majority and extended tenure in office. They’d absolutely need the ability to enact drastic emergency legislation with a minimum of parliamentary debate or scrutiny. Makes pushing through a Great Repeal Bill, a Bill of British rights and such so much easier, yes? Last but by no means least, they’d need to put these measures in place before the clock ticks down on exit from the EU and Brexit impact becomes both unavoidable and undeniable. If you were a cynical sod.

Just a feelin’ like, but at this point you’re left with the impression that the more extreme Brexiteers in government don’t appear to have any idea of the economic boorach that’s about to break over them or the population. Would they even care if they did? Mind you, whatever happens, there’s always some other demographic to blame and some awfy helpful chums in the media apparently.

For people to try to grasp what the impact may be on a daily and personal level, a couple of things to consider. Take the weekly shop as an example. How much fresh produce and lifestyle goods comes from the continent? The fresh fruit and veg you buy, meat, pastas, sweets and choccies, beauty care products, shaving foams, toothpastes and a whole host of pretty familiar named brands folks pick up on a week in, week out basis. With tariffs, if we still trade at all with the EU, these may rise in cost as much as 10-20% across the board. ALL onto your weekly shopping bill. Just for starters mind.

In my opinion, I don’t think people have been in any way prepared for the impact on continental relations, or what that means for them on an ‘in your living room’ level. The shear breadth of how this is going to affect the lives of every person living in the UK on the economic, societal and political levels is literally beyond calculation at this point.

Import/Export administration costs at every port of exit/entry, the creation of whole new rafts of customs procedures and administrative infrastructure. Who do they think will pay for all this? Who do they think it will affect most? Airports alone may become the stuff of nightmare as both goods and people bottleneck.

Holidays! Back to the good old days of visa applications for every single overseas destination. No more nipping across to France, Holland or… SPAIN for mad weekends on a citybreak whim.

Come to think of it… Spain might be a little problematic this year (cough).

Then we get to it, don’t we? Wider international relations and profile. Just how will UK nationals travelling abroad be viewed and received on the continent? You think Joe Public on the continent doesn’t feel? Doesn’t take it personally? Doesn’t have a hurt national pride of their own? It’s one thing to reject a system of government at odds with your democracy and need to express your body politic, quite another to reject a multi national trade and peace oriented union seemingly on the basis of… FOREIGNERS!

Because whether people like it or not. Whether they rationalized otherwise or not. That is exactly the predominant message sent out by the campaign which resulted in 52% of the UK who voted for a blind, hard Brexit. A UK wide ballot whose leave campaign detail couldn’t fill an A4 sheet of paper… (single sided) and widely recognized as one of the most appalling and negative campaigns in the UK’s post war political history.

Anyone searching for evidence of this need only look at the rise in hate crime over the past year. They need only listen to any statement by Mr Davis on Brexit deals, Ms May on ‘unity’ or Bojo on diplomacy. Voting to leave the EU was one thing. Agree with it or don’t as the reader will. Voting to leave on the back of that particular campaign will leave an image with our near neighbours that every nation of the UK will have to live with for a long time to come. Or maybe, in one particular case, not? That case is yet to be decided and lessons can be learned by the Scottish government, the YES movement and the wider electorate with a little patience and an open mind.

Those very few issues alone merely scrape the surface on the aftermath of Brexit.

Given the political uphevals initiated by Westminster politics over the past couple of years, this most recent twist is shaping up to be an omnishambles of biblical proportions. In my opinion its effects WILL be far reaching and ongoing. I’d also imagine it would leave a nasty mark on UK international relations for many, many years to come.  On the bright side though, at least some folk got EXACTLY what they voted for, right? I mean, they did realise, didn’t they?

Personally (and I am a fairly cynical sod), I’d say this general election is ALL about the Tories consolidating a power base and grip of England’s electorate for the upcoming Brexit aftermath. Basic arithmetic determines they really don’t require the vote, or permissions, of the rest of the UK’s populations (shocking, but true). It’s about removing their nearest opposition in parliament as a viable alternative for the foreseeable future and finally it’s about giving cabinet and PM the powers to enact any emergency legislation they feel necessary without parliamentary oversight.

Mind you, the difference between what a Conservative government feels is a necessary action and what you or I may feel?

Well that could probably fill volumes.



A guest post by Samuel Miller

Why?  What have they done in office that is so much more reprehensible than anyone else? If you had to take political opponents at their word, the current Scottish government have apparently brought the entirety of Scotland’s institutions and services to the brink of catastrophe. Going by the headline and the soundbite, at any minute our entire country is about to collapse from terminal ESSENPEENESS and descend into a screaming chaos of hospital closures, lawlessness, educational carnage and ‘notional’ bottomless debt. You name it, there isn’t an area of government that they haven’t been opposed on or criticized about every day for the past ten years.

In fact the SNP are generally painted by their opposition and the meeja as the evilest baddies in the universe… bar none. A sort of devious mad political offspring of Ming the Merciless and Countess Bathory if you will. It’s all their pure evil single issue divisiveness you see and apparently the idea is we should be afraid of them and what they’ll do next to make our lives even more miserable than they already are. They’re probably also cruel to kittens and steal the wean’s sweeties. Pure dead vile so they are.

Uh huh!

Well, I’ve only today looked oot the windae and to my surprise, people are pretty much getting on with their lives and not creeping about in abject terror of imminent Niclamageddon. So let’s get a little perspective on what constitutes irresponsible government shall we?

Have they attempted to undermine the electoral process perhaps?

Have they abused anyone’s human rights?

Have they pished billions up against the wall in geopolitical vanity projects?

How about actually being engaged in attempting to rewrite the rule book on parliamentary democracy?

Well no, not that I can recall either.

That last link by the way? The power to legislate at ministerial level without parliamentary oversight or scrutiny? Think about that people. Think about what it means for your democracy. Think about what it means for your human and civil rights. Think about a couple of decades of Conservative dominance of Westminster politics and then tell me how this creates a fairer, more just, more inclusive, more unified and caring society.

I know I’ve said this before, but in no reality I can imagine would the current Conservative government form a ‘stable and strong’ leadership. What follows a Conservative landslide in an already Conservative controlled austerity/Brexit UK, I believe we want no part of.

As near as I can see, the SNP are no worse in government than anyone else we’ve experienced in our lives, but I reckon they’re a hell of an improvement. They haven’t started any wars, crashed an economy, abused human rights, or wilfully enacted harmful legislation against the poor or the powerless in society.  Oh, and they absolutely have NOT used their power, or seemingly limitless access to the mainstream media (sarky), to demonise and alienate major demographics of their population. They are however, human. They make mistakes. They’ll enact legislation that sometimes doesn’t work as billed and some they’ll have to make work. Some will work just fine. The democratic process takes care of real serial failure and intransigence. Ask Labour how that works.

That IS politics.

I’m wondering at this point if people know what government does for a living? More specifically, what responsible government does and should do for a living?

Your Conservative government and the Westminster parliamentary system, believe in top down power. Parliamentary sovereignty and power derived from the crown. In short, the people, the population owe the state their taxes, their loyalty, their lives. The population exists to serve the state and support the power and privilege of the few.

Traditionally and as far as generations of Scots have been concerned for some three hundred years and change, that’s how things are. The many serve the few and the few, when they can be arsed, deign to look after the interests of the many so long as it suits their needs.

In times of what they would see as good management, expansion and plenty (see under empire), the many benefit from the largesse of a contented few. They can afford it after all at this point. In times of bad management, contraction and want, (see under NOW), the dead wood (that would be you mainly) are cut loose and the power and wealth are centralised to protect the lifestyles and power structures to which the few have become accustomed. Heaven forfend that the poor dears suffer in any way shape or form.

The state and the established order is ALL. The people serve the state.  No duty of care. No public service. No ‘unity’ or common weal. Simply ‘dae as yer telt’ because… badgers and it’s really for your own good.

Now yer SNP Scottish government, some associated progressive parties across the UK and the wider YES movement in Scotland, have a somewhat different outlook. They believe that the power rests with the people. That parliament derives its direction, its power and mandate from the wants, needs and aspirations of the population. That the government of the day reflects the mandate of its population. Not all of the Holyrood parliament holds this belief of course, but that’s a work in progress.

Essentially though, government should be very, very simple. I happen to believe that the state and the party politician owe the people their service, loyalty, a duty of care and the ability to live with dignity. The basics for all our requirements at point of need. It’s about putting food on our table. Keeping us safe and well. Protecting our inalienable human rights and interests. In exchange we pay taxes to meet those needs and pay our public servants accordingly to administer and manage same. In short, the population are the nation and the nation is its population. Not the state. Not those who exercise power through the state, but the people.

I’m hoping you can see why those reliant on the Westminster system and their hangers on, would want to ‘STOP the SNP’ and indeed any progressive political party at this point. You can also hopefully understand why they’d like to put an end to your engagement in the political process and I’d say it has bugger all to do with the good of the people or vile ESSENPEE badness.

So what’s it to be? It’s up to readers of course, but I know which government model I prefer for our future.

On the sofa with Theresa and Philip

Theresa May isn’t doing debates in her Me Myself I election. She’s carefully kept away from anyone who’s ever met a real life member of the public and who hasn’t had their brains surgically removed and replaced with a Maybotadulationometer. Strong and stable. Coalition of chaos. Bloody difficult woman. She certainly won’t stoop to anything so base and low as being subject to questioning from a hostile media, although to be fair a media that’s hostile to the Conservatives isn’t generally allowed within a 20 mile radius of her Sainted Theresaness. For Theresa has ascended to a level beyond the mere tawdry justification demanded of politicians of a lower calibre. She’s beyond Thatcherism. She’s evolved beyond Blairism. She needs no ism, just an is, and we lesser mortals should consider ourselves truly blessed that such a transcendent being has deigned to walk on the surface of the same planet that the rest of us occupy.

However the problem with robotically intoning soundbites as though they were nuggets of eternal wisdom while taking the mobility cars away from people who can’t walk and demanding that women prove that their third child is a result of rape is that people begin to suspect that you have all the warmth and humanity of a parasitic wasp which has injected its eggs into the paralysed body of a caterpillar so that its councillor larvae can devour it from within. In order to at least put up some sort of facade that she is in fact a human being, the Therezoid conceded to appear on the One Show sofa along with her faithful retainer and hedge fund manager. Because everyone can relate to the cosy domestic lives of a politician with all the compassion of Attila the Handbag with a migraine and her multimillionaire banker of a husband. The two of them painted their daily lives as a picture of cosy domesticity that hasn’t been witnessed since Lucrezia Borgia opened up her dungeons for a glossy spread in Hello magazine and gave a poison of the day recipe for its cookery pages.

There’s give and take in our relationship, said Philip as Theresa glared at Matt Baker and Alex Jones as she wondered about the best place to insert her ovipositor. Theresa gives the soundbites and I take them. It’s hard to be close and cosy when your wife’s idea of whispering sweet nothings in your ear consists of her repeating strong and stable strong and stable until your eardrums start to bleed, but Phil did his best. We’re a strong and stable couple because there’s boy’s jobs and girl’s jobs, said Theresa, helping him out in the least convincing attempt at simpering since Lizzie Bordie was caught with a bloody axe. Boy’s jobs are things like taking out the bins. Girl’s jobs are things like crushing all opposition, destroying democracy, and declaring war on France, Spain, and Germany.

Theresa has wanted to be Prime Minister since she joined the Shadow Cabinet, trilled Philip, glad to be allowed out for once. Theresa gave him an icy look which said that he’d be putting himself out along with the bins. “I don’t recognise that,” she replied when Matt and Alex asked if it was true that she had wanted to be Prime Minister since she was an icicle, because what she did recognise that admitting that she’s been a scheming careerist since she was old enough to say “kick that disabled person’s crutch away and deport that migrant” probably wasn’t the look she was going for on the One Show sofa.

Still, at least the One Show presenters were able to drag a commitment out of Theresa that while we are most certainly going to leave the EU, we won’t be leaving Eurovision. Although I’m not sure how many points we’ll get, said Theresa. The answer to that is of course null points, since the UK was never particularly popular in Europe, and now after Brexit and Theresa’s declaration that the EU is trying to prevent her from ascending to her rightful position as supreme goddess and She Who Must Be Obeyed it’s as popular as a salmonella infested bridie in a fine foods contest.

By now the interview was going like one of those disastrous encounters on that Channel 4 programme First Dates where the attendees clearly can’t abide one another but they know that they’re contractually obliged to get all the way through to the end of the dessert course before they can flee the scene. The leaden silence filled the studio like Ruth Davidson being asked to justify the rape clause at FMQs. Matt and Alex desperately tried to inject some life into the proceedings, but it was clear that the interview had as much life and vivacity as Theresa herself. Her cold dead eyes bored into Matt and Alex as she considered how long it would take her larvae to consume them from within.

Let’s talk about shoes! Theresa likes shoes. And Philip likes ties. And jackets. And spoons. And lampshades. And flock wallpaper. And oh god oh god shoot me now. Here we are in the 21st century and British politics have been reduced to Matt Baker and Alex Jones asking Theresa May about shoes on a programme that’s more commonly used by minor celebrities with a book, a movie, or a new album to tout. All Theresa has to tout is the death of accountability and the demise of democracy.

As an attempt to make a cold and robotic Prime Minister seem a bit more human, the interview was a dismal failure. No one who didn’t already have a fully functioning Maybotadulationometer in their skull was going to think any more kindly of Theresa after this non-interview than before it. As an interview it was as hard hitting as a teddy bear on valium. We learned nothing from it. What we already know is that Theresa May is on course to be the most loathed Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher had her cultish acolytes too. What Thatcher did in Scotland was to transform a country which was pretty evenly divided on the question of devolution, and turn it into a country which overwhelmingly supported a Scottish Parliament. Theresa May will take a Scotland which is pretty evenly divided on the question of independence, and will turn it in a country which will vote for a sovereign Scottish state. That’s going to be May’s legacy, not interviews on the One Show that insult the intelligence of the voters.

This will be my last blog post until May 25th. I’m off to the USA for two weeks’ holiday – a trip which was booked long before Theresa’s Me Myself I election. Sam Miller (aka Macart) will be entertaining you in my absence and I’ll try and stick up a couple of other guest posts.  See yese in a fortnight!

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

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 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 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.

Unionism’s fatal illness

This weekend, the Sunday Herald reported that a number of those elected as representatives of the Conservatives and Labour in the council elections last week are members of the Orange Order. I’ve been told of a Unionist councillor in North Lanarkshire of a markedly Orange persuasion. There are certainly others. On social media over the weekend, an independence supporter unmasked a newly elected Conservative councillor as the owner of a notorious troll account which had been retweeting extreme right views.

In the weeks during the run up to the council elections there was a series of incidents in which suspicious packages designed to cause fear and alarm were sent to prominent SNP figures. The incidents are almost certainly the actions of a lone nutter, and didn’t receive much in the way of coverage in the media. But you could bet your rent or mortgage on the fact that had it been the other way about and it was Unionist parties receiving similarly suspicious packages seemingly from an independence supporter that it would have become a full scale national emergency and we’d be wall to wall in TV discussions and media reports about the cancer of terrorist violence lurking at the heart of the independence movement.

The response of Unionist supporters to these revelations has been to blame the SNP for the “Ulsterisation” of Scottish politics. It’s a bit like blaming black people for the Ku Klux Klan, or blaming gay people for gay-bashers, or indeed saying that sexual violence and abuse of women happens because the women are asking for it by wearing clothing that doesn’t cover them from head to foot. Although if they did do that then they’d be accused by much the same people of undermining Western civilisation by being overtly Muslim. It’s the common response of abusers the world over, whatever the abuse, blame the victims. It’s not the SNP, the Greens, or any other pro-independence party which is standing candidates who espouse the sectarianism of the Orange Order. It’s not the SNP, the Greens, or any other pro-independence party which is standing candidates who enthusiastically and approvingly retweet far right commentary. It’s not independence supporters who are lending their votes to such people.

This is not a disease of Scottish politics we’re talking about here, this is a disease of Unionism. The Unionist parties need to own up to this disease and to deal with it. They need to admit that they have a problem. They need to root out the bigots and fascists from within their own ranks. There’s not much sign of that happening, the footsoldiers of Unionism prefer to blame the SNP for every ill, including the ills that beset Unionism itself. If the SNP or another pro-independence party stood candidates of the calibre of some of those who were recently elected for Unionist parties, there would be a media outrage quicker than you could say, “There’s that Stephen Daisley on the doorstep with a photographer from the Daily Mail.”

As a case in point, an SNP candidate in Brechin was hounded by the Express newspaper for the crime of retweeting abusive tweets made by a Unionist troll, in an attempt to expose the troll’s behaviour. The newspaper ignored the troll entirely and focussed on the SNP candidate, implying in its hatchet job of a report that the offensive comments had originated with him. Yet actual offense originating from Unionist candidates is ignored and diminished, such as when a Moray publication loftily claimed the moral high ground by refusing to report on extreme right wing tweets sent by a local Conservative candidate.

Unionists blame the misbehaviour of their own parties’ representatives on the SNP. They’ve even coined a word for it, “Ulsterisation”, with the implication that the SNP is turning Scotland into Northern Ireland with all the violence and dislocation that entails. The term Ulsterisation applied to Scottish politics is deeply wrong on many levels. For starters it’s an insult to all those who died or were bereaved in the violence of the Troubles. It’s an insult to the democratic credentials of the Scottish people, and it’s an insult to the commitment to peaceful and legal campaigning that characterises the independence movement.

But it’s also profoundly wrong. The social divisions between nationalists and loyalists in Northern Ireland are tribal. They live in different areas. They go to different schools. They tell one another apart by different religions. They support different teams. A person’s status as a member of one community or the other is largely inherited, passed down through the generations for untold generations. There’s nothing remotely like that in Scotland. There are many Rangers fans who support independence. There are Celtic supporters who want Scotland to remain in the UK. Everyone has family members who have one opinion or another on Scotland’s constitutional divide, and opinions can and do shift.

It’s far easier for a Scottish person who previously supported the Union to shift their opinion and support independence than it is for a person from a Northern Irish loyalist background to come out as a supporter of Irish unity. And it’s equally easy for a person in Scotland to make the opposite political journey. The truth is that the term Ulsterisation is bandied about by Scottish Unionists as a deliberate ploy to discourage the disengaged from engaging with the question of Scotland’s constitutional position in the first place.

Unionism infantilises Scottish politics and Scotland. It turns Scotland into a non-country which isn’t important enough to be taken seriously. It turns Scotland into a region which isn’t capable of taking responsibility for itself. And Unionism infantilises itself too, just like a small child it lacks the moral capacity to take responsibility for its own actions. Unionists can’t admit that it’s Unionism which has a problem with sectarianism, bigotry and right wing extremism, because that means admitting that there is a problem with the contortions of North Britishness, it means admitting that supporting Britain and Britishness is a form of nationalism, and that would never do. But it’s Unionism which has an illness, and it’s a fatal one. The right wing nationalism of Unionism will be its end, and when it finally expires it will take the Union with it.

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

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 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 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.

Every loser wins, at least when it’s a Tory in Scotland

If you wanted a lesson in why so many people are losing faith in the traditional media and instead turning to alternatives, you only need to have a wee look at the headlines in the Scottish press and television news in their over-excited attempts to make out that a party which had come a very distant second had in fact beaten a party which had won 155 more seats. Moreover that second party had based its entire campaign on defeating the larger party, and it failed to make any impression at all on the larger party’s share of the vote or the number of seats it won. Despite all that, the loser won, at least according to the Scottish press.

The whole point of the Single Transferrable Vote electoral system is that parties end up with a number of seats which is a fairly close approximation to their share of the popular vote. In last week’s council elections, the Conservatives ended up with just 22.5% of the available seats, which is a fairly accurate representation of the proportion of the vote which the Tories achieved. The Tories did make significant gains, but they did so at the expense of Labour, another party which had fought its entire campaign on the basis of defeating the SNP. The SNP itself sailed on unaffected by what was nothing more than a realignment of the Unionist vote.

The BBC did its best to paint Ruth Davidson’s Tories as the winners, lauding her party’s gains and insisting repeatedly that the SNP was seven seats down on its total from the previous council elections in 2012. In 2012 the SNP had won 425 council seats, in 2017 they won 431. In most universes where simple arithmetic is practised, which is clearly not a universe which includes Pacific Quay, 431 is a bigger number than 425. But the BBC weren’t comparing the SNP’s 2017 results with the actual results of the 2012 local elections, instead they decided to compare them with a “notional” election result which hadn’t taken place in our universe in 2012, it only took place in Pacific Quay’s special arithmetical universe.

This is a great new tactic which could be employed in lots of inventive ways. The Tories would be notionally the most popular politicians in Scotland if it wasn’t for the fact that over three quarters of the Scottish population wouldn’t pee on a Tory if they were on fire. Glasgow Labour notionally saved all its seats and made substantial gains in Frank McAveety’s head. Wullie Rennie is notionally capable and competent, at least when he’s driving the bus to Kelty. If I had a tank and a tendency to shout No! at every opportunity I’d notionally be Ruth Davidson. And if the BBC was funded by the Scottish public it would notionally not display such an obvious Unionist bias. Oh wait.

The onslaught on truth was so overwhelming that one confused guest on the BBC review of the papers actually thought that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow. Just in case you’re wondering, they didn’t. The Tories in Glasgow got eight seats on Glasgow council, which is eight too many, but it’s still only 9.4% of the total. There are 85 council seats in Glasgow. The fact that a sane and apparently reasonable woman thought, even briefly, that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow council has a great deal to do with the one sided and shamelessly biased way in which this election was reported.

For the interests of clarity, I’m not actually objecting to bias. I am biased. I am shamelessly and openly biased. Bias is what I do. I’m a supporter of Scottish independence, and a campaigner for Scottish independence, and what I write is reflected through that prism. But I make no bones about my bias. My bias is open and honest. I wear my bias on my sleeve, and that means that readers can interpret my words honestly and with clarity. What is insidious, what is objectionable, what is dishonest, is presenting a biased account of a news story and pretending that you are neutral, objective and unbiased.

Quite what anyone who voted Tory in Glasgow thought they were going to achieve by gaining a Conservative councillor is another question. Tell them that you think there ought to be more dog mess collection bins in your local park and they’ll send you a leaflet saying that dog crap sends a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. Tell them that you think there should be more regular litter collections and street cleaning and you’ll get a leaflet saying “Scotland said No and we meant it!” with a picture of a grinning Ruth Davidson sitting on a donkey. That would be the Tory councillor for Shettleston.

More seriously, just what use is a Tory councillor going to be to you if you approach them for help because you’ve had your benefits sanctioned or your mobility car has been taken away or you’re a young person who can’t afford accommodation because you’re no longer entitled to housing benefit. Those things happen because of Conservative policies, policies which assail and assault those very working class communities which returned a handful of Tory councillors. But hey, they have a fleg and can be proud of the royal family. And you can wrap yourself up in that fleg when you’re queueing on the doorstep of the foodbank you have to go to in order to feed your weans even though you’re in full time employment. Working class Scots voting Tory is like voting for amputation because you stubbed your toe.

I’m struggling to remember another election which was reported in such a shameless and nakedly partisan manner. Every loser wins as far as the British press is concerned, at least when that loser is a Scottish Tory. This is a foretaste of what we’re in for should the Tories make some small gains in Scotland in June’s General Election. It’s a sign of the desperation of the British establishment to avoid a second Scottish independence referendum, and the reason they are so desperate to avoid one is because they know that they’ll lose it. The hysteria with which the British press reacted to the Tories in Scotland making gains at the expense of the other main Unionist party is a sign of the weakness of the Unionist cause, and a sign of the strength of the independence movement.

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

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 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 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 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.

Reasons to be cheerful

The cooncil election results are in, and we’ve learned a few things. Despite the weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth over Tory gains in places like Shettleston, Ferguslie Park and Ravenscraig, these are mostly things which are good for the longer term picture for the independence campaign.  Whatever the Tories and their pals in the press say, we’re still on course for another independence referendum, and we’re still on course to win it.

The first thing to consider is that turn out was shockingly low. It usually is in council elections in Scotland, and this election was overshadowed by the General Election next month. That means that local campaigns were drowned out in the noise of national campaigns – and UK wide campaigns at that. These are factors which would tend to benefit the Unionist result. Wall to wall coverage in the media of the Tories and Labour benefits those parties at the expense of others.

When there’s a very low turn out, there tends to be proportionately more older voters than there are in other elections.  The demographic most likely to go and vote, come hell or high water, are older people and that effect is magnified when overall turn out is low. Older voters are most likely to support Unionist parties, and most likely to vote Tory.  That means the council elections are likely to have seen a disproportionate Conservative vote.  Since these elections are conducted according to a strict proportional system, that means those votes get turned into seats in a way they wouldn’t necessarily in a first past the post election like the Westminster General Election next month.

Yes, yes, I know that not all older voters are dyed in the wool reactionaries who fly a fleg at the slightest provocation. I know that there are many older voters who support independence. So please do not fill up the comments section with an outraged explanation of how you’ve been an independence supporter since the 1960s and not everyone with a bus pass is a fan of Ruth Davidson. But it’s a statistical fact that the older you are, the more likely it is that you’ll be a supporter of the Union and the more likely it is that you’ll vote Conservative.  ‘More likely’ doesn’t mean ‘everyone’.

The low turn out means that the council election results are probably a high water mark for the Tories, and reports that they’ll make serious gains in Scotland in June’s General Election are likely not to come to pass. Sky News is forecasting that, on the basis of these council results, the SNP are likely to win 54 Westminster seats in the General Election.  That’s a very long way short of the 12 Tory gains that some opinion polls were forecasting.  54 SNP seats would be a pretty solid rejection of the Tory single issue no to indyref2 campaign. The same Sky News forecast also predicts a fairly modest number of gains for the Tories in the rest of the UK, giving Theresa May a majority of 48, considerably short of the 100 plus that was previously predicted. The big news from the rest of the UK is the total collapse of the Ukip vote. Although that’s not really surprising since the Conservatives have turned into Ukip. Theresa May is Nigel Farage in a designer trousers clown suit.  The odious Nigel has a legion of faults, but at least he can eat chips convincingly.  It’s just that he can’t do anything else convincingly.  Like win elections.

There are reports that there were an alarming high number of spoiled ballot papers. Not deliberately spoiled, but spoiled because people had marked them with an X instead of numbering their preferences. In Scotland we have different electoral systems for every set of elections. In local elections it’s the Single Transferrable Vote method, in Holyrood elections it’s the D’Hondt method with constituency votes topped up by a regional list vote, in European elections it’s a pure list vote, and in Westminster elections it’s first past the post. No wonder voters are confused. It would be far better if all elections in Scotland were conducted according to the same voting system, but that’s not going to happen until we get independence.

The news reports will of course focus on the gains made by the Tories, especially in wards which are traditionally working class. However it needs to be pointed out that some of these wards contain some well-off districts where there are going to be strong Tory votes. Glasgow Shettleston contains the comfortably middle class district of Mount Vernon.  The Tories in these areas have benefited from the collapse of Labour. But it’s also the case that the Conservatives are hoovering up the diehard loyalist working class vote, the people who will support the Union irrespective of how damaging the Union is to their job prospects, their economic interests, or the well-being of the communities in which they live.

Politics isn’t always rational or logical. We like to think that we make our decisions based on reason and fact, but we don’t.  Humans are an emotional species and very often we make our important decisions based on our feelings, then seek facts after the event to bolster a decision that’s been made on an essentially irrational basis. We all do this, irrespective of our political views.

So a lot of people vote with the heart, and there’s a significant number of people in Scotland whose hearts are red white and blue, and there are a number of those who when you scratch the red white and blue you’ll find orange underneath. But crucially, and this is the good news, they’re a minority. If the Tories are relying on the diehard Unionists in order to save the Union, they’ve already lost. Not only are diehard Unionists a minority, they’re an ageing minority whose numbers are not being replenished. The Tories can appeal to the staunch all they like, but they’ll never staunch support for the Union bleeding away.  It might be distressing to see Tories voted in in places like Shettleston, but the people who voted for them were never likely to vote for independence anyway.  Their votes are not the ones we need to win in order to win independence.

The Tory victories in this week’s council elections in Scotland are the last roar of a toothless and senescent British lion. Despite throwing everything into making this a campaign against another independence referendum, despite completely ignoring all other policies except opposition to a second independence vote, the Tories still could only come a very very distant second. Their gains were almost entirely at the expense of Labour, and they failed to make any significant dent in support for pro-independence parties despite a low turn out favouring a Tory pensioner vote. The SNP stayed more or less where they were and in fact made a few minor gains, while the Greens have also made a few gains, despite the fact that there was a very low turn out which traditionally favours the Conservatives.  It’s the best result in local elections that the SNP have ever had, which is a peculiar definition of the defeat that the Unionist press will be trying to spin this as.

The Tories threw everything they had into making this a referendum on a referendum, they’ve spent a lot of money, and though they won some local battles by taking votes from other Unionist parties, they still failed to win the wider war. All they’ve done is to position themselves as the party of the Union come what May. But we already knew that. If projections from these council elections bear up in June, the Tories will fail to make any great breakthroughs in Scotland in the General Election, and their single minded campaign to attract votes on the basis of opposing another independence referendum will have failed. The independence movement cannot be complacent, we’ve got a lot of work to do, we need to do everything we can to get the vote out in June, but it’s looking like another SNP landslide in the General Election.

The realignment of Scottish politics is continuing. Labour have declined into irrelevance, the Lib Dem resurgence failed dismally to resurge, and the choice now facing Scotland is between an outward looking internationalist social democratic Scotland, and an inward looking nostalgic right wing Tory Britain. That’s going to be a much easier fight for the independence movement to win than a fight against a Unionist campaign that’s headed by the Labour party and its pretence that there’s a progressive veneer on the reactionary British state. That’s a campaign that we can win, and that we will win. These council elections give the independence movement every reason to be cheerful.

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

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 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 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.

The land that we live in

We’re living in a land which has gone insane. We’re living in a land where people defend a government that demands that women give proof of rape in order to receive tax credits for a third child, a land which treats the decision to have children as a private investment and not as an investment in the future that benefits the public good. We’re living in a land which discourages low paid families from having children while at the same time demonising the immigration that low birth rates will demand in order to maintain the economy. We’re living in a land where it’s the poor who are condemned, not poverty. We’re living in a land where it’s considered normal that working people don’t earn enough to feed their families and have to resort to foodbanks while the richest who profit from their labour get ever richer. We’re living in a land where the refusal of the EU to concede to every demand of Theresa May is condemned as threats and bullying. We’re living in a land where all these cruel insanities and more are defended by otherwise rational people because they’re part and parcel of the precious Union. We’re living in a land where people defend the Union but don’t care what sort of Union they’re defending.

I am genuinely afraid for the future. Genuinely depressed about what’s in store. The bleak and dark decade and a half of Thatcher and the desolation and despair her government generated is seared in the memory. The memory of friends who succumbed to desperation and self-medicated on alcohol and drugs will always live in the heart, because they’re no longer living in life. They never survived the ravages of a Tory Britain that didn’t care whether they had a future or not. Friends who died in their 20s, died of despair, died of hopelessness, died because there was nothing to live for so they numbed themselves on heroin, sleeping pills, and tranquillisers in order to get through the long barren nights where there was no dawn to look forward to. I see the teenagers gather in the park, and laugh and shout the way that teenagers do, and wonder how many more of our young people will sacrifice themselves the same way, sacrificed on the altar of a government that’s strong and stable in its greed and inhumanity.

We live in a land where people who campaign peacefully and democratically for a better Scotland are decried in the same breath as terrorists who bomb and kill. We live in a land where those who do the decrying the British nationalists who glorify military might and who has a fringe of violent extremism of their own. We live in a land which demands unity but which offers no compromise or concessions to those who have a different opinion. We live in a land where the past is exhalted and lauded because the future offers nothing to welcome. We live in a land where there are no checks or balances, no written constitution, because strength and stability it said to come from a Prime Minister who can do as she pleases and whose power is unconstrained and unconfined. A Prime Minister whose grasp on reality is increasingly tenuous. A Prime Minister who refuses to be held to account, who speaks in soundbites and never answers questions. We’re living in a land which has gone insane.

The story of Britain is a story of war. It’s a state that defines itself by its conflicts, a state that substitutes military parades and royals in uniforms bearing medals they never earned for a sense of national purpose. Smart uniforms and shiny medals to cover the reality of blood, of death, of maiming. In the 310 years of Union there have been scarcely 70 years of peace. The United Kingdom has only ever been united in warfare. That’s the normality that Westminster offers. Those kids in the park can join the army, serve, be used up, then cast onto the streets. Britain views everything through a prism of violence. We won the war you know, and so Europe must be eternally grateful and give Britain everything it demands. Within days of triggering Article 50 to leave the EU, and the British right wing is once again threatening war, once again Britain is their plucky little island assailed by numerous enemies. Enemies that have been created due to the intransigence and arrogance of British nationalism. The only future we have to look forward to is a future of wars. It’s punching above our weight you know.

We live in a land which heaps wealth upon the rich and hoards power for the powerful. We live in a land where the Prime Minister turns herself into a dictator, elected on a skewed ballot, elected with wholesale fraud and contempt for the checks and balances of the electoral expenses system. We live in a land where the space for democracy is diminishing and decaying. We live in a land where the media doesn’t challenge but cheerleads. We live in Tory Britain. We live in a land whose government is strong in its avarice and stable in its vindictiveness. We live in a land which has gone insane.

I’m fed up with a Scotland that’s impoverished by successive Westminster governments. A Scotland which Westminster and its apologists demand must apologise for the poverty that Westminster has created. I’m fed up with a Scotland which cries in the wilderness and which is never heard. I’m fed up with a Scotland which is treated as a satrapy by a state which promised partnership. I’m fed up with a land which is blessed with an embarrassment of resources, of natural wealth, of human talent, being told that’s poor and incapable by a British state that looks upon it as a reservoir to be drained.

We could live in a land which has potential. We could live in a land which can offer a future to its people. We could live in a land where hope can flourish. We live in a land where increasingly the scales are falling from the eyes of the deceived and the downtrodden. We live in a land where we are learning that the way out of the insanity is to defeat the Tories. We live in a land which can be better than this. Let’s live in a better land. Let’s defeat the Tories.

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

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 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 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 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.