All you hoped for

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Two referendums in two years, the backgrounds of which this site and many another have gone over pretty extensively. Two winning campaigns roundly criticized for their negativity, lack of clarity, lack of honesty and ultimately their ability to deliver on their pledges and assurances. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I’m sure there’s a pattern forming.

Brexit is an unqualified and unquantifiable mess right now and that’s before the UK gets to the nitty gritty on how it plans to earn a crust in the world with a much reduced circle of trading partners and basically sweet fanny adams to trade with other than superb jam. The blame game is in full swing across the media at this point as you’d expect, with both sides claiming intransigence and only one of course being right. From the EU’s perspective, they aren’t going anywhere. They didn’t force anyone to do anything and didn’t kick anyone out, but they do have rules (as does any club). So far as they are concerned, those rules help ensure and facilitate peace, trade, access and rights between all of its member states. The remaining twenty seven nations agree to live by those rules and enshrined at the core are the four freedoms. They break those rules to accommodate the UK’s wish list and what point the EU?  So, no. No I can’t see them breaking the rules, that every other nation in the EU adhere to, in order to sort the economic, political and societal headaches which the UK brought upon itself. The simplest of questions – Why is that supposed to be their responsibility? Their responsibility is to the European Union and the remaining twenty seven member states surely?

But, y’know, the UK is back in control and it has sovereignty and … stuff. The world will queue at our door to do business (even though we told it to fuck off for being too furren) and the EU won’t just cut us loose because they need our trade (even though they’re furren too and we decided we didn’t want to play with them anymore). They’ll come round to what we want. Wait and see if they don’t.

That is the common perception of the Brexit vote you know? That it was, if not driven by, certainly tainted by more than just a hint of xenophobia, isolationism, protectionism and selfishness. It doesn’t matter whether, as a leave voter, that was your driving issue or not. THAT is how the Brexit vote is perceived and not just in our own press. You look at the comment sections beneath any Brexit story in today’s UK media (though dear God, do NOT go anywhere near the Mail comments) and it’s hard to argue otherwise. There’s a lot of that attitude on display.

‘Course no one seemed to consider the economic repercussions much during the campaign. Just what effect removing entire demographics from the tax and investment base might do to the UK economy? No one thought much about those furren firms who based their manufacturing units and their brass plaques in UK cities specifically because of those existing trade agreements or because they wanted access to EU markets. I don’t suppose it crossed many horizons either to think about research facilities, university programmes, subsidies, grants, even low paid industrial or rural economy jobs many wouldn’t do themselves. The perception is that few even considered the wider effect on society. On people, human beings.

Is it all they hoped for so far d’you think? The movers and shakers of the Brexit campaign/narrative. Is the reaction from the EU, the individual nations of the EU and near half of the UK’s population what they expected? It’s not done yet. Not by a very long way.

Across the UK there are around three million people of continental origin resident. Some 190k (119k from accession states), of those are resident in Scotland. About now, they have every reason to feel more than a little concerned. They have more than a little reason to feel betrayed by UK central government and the wider UK population. They absolutely have more than a little reason to wonder what comes next? They just had the ground ripped out from under their lives and their belief in some things they thought to be certainties has been more than a little dented. Those feelings sound familiar to anyone in the YES movement?

These people are Scottish citizens, new Scots if you will, but Scottish citizens. Individuals, families, people who have done us the honour of selecting our nation to either work or settle in. They chose us. They chose this nation and this land to make their home. It doesn’t stop there though, does it? What of nationalities from all over the globe who have chosen to make Scotland their home? People who have chosen to become Scottish citizens. How do you feel about Westminster parliament deciding who your friends are? Who gets to stay? Who gets told to leave? Who has rights and who doesn’t?

Don’t know about anyone else, but I’m not entirely happy on being labelled a bad host. I’m definitely not big on turning away friends or those in need. Maybe that’s just me though.

Scotland, Scottish citizens. Quite a concept, eh?

Maybe something to think about.


This will be my last post before our host and the dug return from a much deserved break. I’d like to take this oppurchancity to thank all the readers for bearing with the site and myself over the past couple of weeks. Your great comments and patience with yours truly are very much appreciated.

The footnote

A guest post by Samuel Miller

This will be short.

You know, it would be easy and very tempting to list the record of exiting leader Kezia Dugdale’s gaffs and errors over the past near three years. Just as it’s tempting to give in to jibes and jokes at her departure. So I’m going to stun readers by NOT doing any of the above. Those gaffs have been more than well covered by public record as and when they occurred.

Plenty of scribes will be penning both damning and praising pieces across the meeja today (dependent on their political bias). They’ll do plenty of lists full of histories that some of us/most of us won’t recognise, but we’ll remember and that’s the main thing.

Ms Dugdale is apparently leaving her position because she’s had some reason to re-evaluate her life and what she wants from it. There was also mention of ‘passing the baton’ and the party needing “a new leader with fresh energy, drive and a new mandate”. That’s the bottom line straight from Ms Dugdale herself. There have been rumours of a coup in the offing of course, but then there’s always one of those knocking about the place and there may even be some truth to it (shrugs).

Some folk would argue Ms Dugdale’s term in office has been untenable for some time. Taking over the responsibilities of branch leadership from Jim Murphy in the wake of the 2015 election result was a bad enough start, but to continue in leadership through Labour’s steady decline in the pecking order over the past two years must have been painful. Public perception of Labour’s tacit partnership with the Tories and backing the wrong horse in internal conflicts will have had their toll too I suspect. An unsuccessful Scottish elections, council elections and only a moderately improved position after the snap general election couldn’t have helped. A party that fell ignominiously to third place in Scottish politics and despite the best sustained efforts of the media over the period (and its decidedly anti Scottish government narrative), remains rooted to that third place.

Then came the last big idea of ‘federalism’ and Ms Dugdale’s push to square the devolution dodecahedron. A chance to test some of that Scottish Labour autonomy (which was so autonomous by this point, it could have formed its own independent state on the far side of the moon), win some votes back, and save the union. It was, in my opinion, never going to work and the tin lid was firmly placed on that pot by the sainted Jeremy himself only a few days ago. So much for Scottish Labour’s autonomy. So much for federalism and so much for home rule.

The proverbial final straw? Who knows? That’s for readers to draw their own conclusions. The exiting leader has made her own statements on reasons.

Ultimately Ms Dugdale became leader of a party of growing irrelevance in Scotland. A party that had lost its way and its reason for being a long time ago. A party mired in ‘politics as it is practised’, a pointless hatred of opposition and a neverending sense of self entitlement.

So far as anyone can tell, there has been no marked resurgence of Labour under Ms Dugdale’s leadership. No clear policies worth the name, (other than ‘no second referendum’), though a great deal of policy confusion (actually completely bewildering). No renewal of purpose (Opposition for opposition’s sake still takes precedence apparently). No change of character or intent. No attempt to reach out with any olive branch to Scotland’s electorate.

Perhaps a change of leader, for whatever reason, is long past due. Will it really be a change though?

I personally very much doubt it.

Somebody say something

A guest post by Samuel Miller

In the past few weeks of the silly season we’ve seen some pretty weird articles out there folks. There have been twatter spats, reversals, exposures and even whistle stop tours by the perenially confused. Media darlings of yesterday become today’s pariahs and yesterday’s pariahs become today’s media darling. We’ve had snark fests between the UK and EU negotiating teams on the rolling omnishambles which is Brexit and through it all, running like an annoying background tinny whine you can never shut down, the usual pure Essenpee badness is pumped out on permaloop. I’m sure it’s added a few pennies to the meeja’s coffers. I’m also sure it’s given some notoriety and headline space to the odd (very odd) personality, some deservedly and others not so much.

None of which does a single damn thing to allay the fears of Jock and Jeannie public. None of it gives people something concrete to hope for or hold on to. It feeds both rational and irrational fears, making an already bad situation damn near chaotic.

People don’t really ask for much when the poop hits the fan. They only require to be kept informed and that their representatives constitute a safe pair of hands. That they are trustworthy and transparent. That they pass relevant, accurate information on to their employers (that would be us) as soon as is reasonably and responsibly possible and that they act swiftly and decisively when the need arises. What we currently tend to get however, is policy by soundbite, decisive actions and bothersome details to be worked out later. Confusion, I’ve found, is good for central government (especially when they screw up monumentally) and when sold to the masses with a smidge of ‘hold the front page’ panic or some fleg wavy false patriotism? Well that sells copy, attracts readers and viewers for the media. Yay! Win win (sarc natch). Those with their own agenda and an empathy bypass, use the confusion and the manufactured fear to their own political advantage. Pretty certain readers could draw up a fairly lengthy list of their own usual suspects who fit that particular bill.

Bottom line is lots of speculation, opinion and rumour in the mainstream, but very little solid fact. Plenty of pundits telling you what they think other folk are thinking, but no change there then. Only a very rare handful of the UK’s public representatives doing anything in the way of providing notable stability or leadership in what are patently worrying times for people. The only UK leader to have taken direct public and legislative steps in the past year to allay those fears has been Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. (see under Brexit commission, public statements on citizenship and moves to legislate for an independence referendum)

The cataclysmic actions of Westminster government and those of the establishment parties over the space of the past year haven’t exactly helped to be sure. The more misinformation, lack of information and confusion there is? The more fear, frustration and doubt can take a grip and work on the mind.

So far as Scotland’s population is concerned, natural born, new Scots and more particularly the YES movement, where are we at and what should we be aware of? What do we know for sure?

Well first off, we know that we are in completely unprecedented legal and constitutional territory. The results of both referendums and especially the triggering of Article 50 and its ramifications is quite literally a first. The fallout across the board is an unknown and the effects for citizens who are members of multiple unions and nations with decades of accrued rights are in a state of flux. Put it another way. If the politicians, their negotiating teams and all the expertise they can call upon are essentially making the rules up as this unwinds, then everyone’s opinion is at best a guess.

However, in order of appearance: We know that we are currently still part of the UK and the political union, which falls under the category of ‘no shit Sherlock’. As such and so long as we remain party to the political union, our devolved legislature is currently in the process of exiting the European Union. (NOW DON’T ALL SHOUT AT ONCE!)

It cannot be stressed enough that the Scottish government are NOT the government of an independent Scotland. A slim majority, but a majority nonetheless, voted to entrust our futures and loan our full powers to the parliament of Westminster. They cannot act how we would wish and when we would wish it. They cannot act without a specific manifesto mandate or unless under very exceptional change in circumstances such as… a needlessly manufactured constitutional crisis, which Westminster politics duly supplied in 2016. So they did what was in their power to do whilst attempting to ensure that ALL of the public’s concerns and interests were met. Considering the clusterfudge that’s been dropped in their laps? No mean feat. Most, I’d guess, would say impossible.

Logically, the Scottish government, (ANY Scottish government), are legally bound to act in accordance with the nature of it’s devolved legislature, the current devolution settlement (the Scotland Bill) and the parliamentary democracy they have been elected under. They are bound to act in accordance with the results of referendums 2014 and 16 (don’t get me effing started) and the GE/SE results of elections 2015,16,17. Which means yes, they really did have to investigate a Brexit plan which would constitute remaining in both unions and latterly looking at single market access compromise options. (even when those parameters stick in the craw). Does any supporter of self determination like this arrangement? No. It’s safe to say no indy supporter likes or wants this gawdawful arrangement, but it is the way it is and until we can change it, then it’s how the Scottish government are constrained and compelled to act.

So to recap. A commission of experts was set up to explore a means of retaining both unions, access to the single market and retaining the accrued EU rights of EVERY Scottish citizen. The report of this commission’s findings was made into a proposal which Westminster apparently binned out of hand.

Still attempting to square impossible circles, First Minister Sturgeon set two things in motion. A parliamentary vote on the legislation for a second indyref and the forwarding of a compromise position to Westminster on Brexit participation and retaining single market access. The timing of this indyref to be delayed until after the Brexit position of the EU/UK has been clarified, but before ratification. This with the intention of offering Scotland’s citizens a choice on their preferred future. (Yes, I’m aware that some would prefer after ratification, some before and some yesterday, but that’s individuals strategy and this is about what we know.)

Why is the timing so vague? The two year clock most folk thought to be the backbone of A50 talks appears to be lengthening and shortening with every twist and turn for one. That and the result from June’s snap GE gave the SG pause for thought no doubt. The unionist parties fought a no indyref campaign and voted tactically to gain maximum constitutional advantage whilst the SNP fought… well, a general election. The unionist parties threw cash, media and personnel into a single policy campaign which paid limited dividends for them. A miscalculation by the SNP Scottish Government? That’s up to the reader. Regardless, we are where we are right now and that is STILL with an SNP majority in Westminster’s Scottish benches and a pro indy majority in Holyrood and STILL with a government willing to offer their electorate a choice. Will this remain the case after the next Scottish elections? Unkown, (psychic powers and crystal ball predictions come extra m’kay?), but the numbers are in place right now.

For all the imposed constraints and legality, does any of the above mean that the SNP have lost their appetite for, or changed their opinions on, independence? Well no. I don’t really see why it would.

Maybe something worth considering. Politics, when practised properly, isn’t the art of manipulating or forcing public opinion through the bestest marketing campaign and the biggest fibs. It’s not about dragging people anywhere against their wishes. That is the practice of politics which brought the UK to this sorry pass in the first place. It’s the art of persuading and influencing through debate and consensus, trial and error, action and example. Near as I can see, that is what the Scottish government are attempting to do. Persuade through action and example and yes, given the current predicament, that is fantastically frustrating.

So cutting through all the media/policy wonk speculation an indyref is still on that table which Messrs Cameron and Corbyn seem so fond of (timing to be confirmed) and Scotland’s electorate still have an option. If they want it.

Events though, can change all of the above in a heartbeat and make a nonsense of everything that’s happened to date. When it comes to what the the Scottish government should or shouldn’t do? Maybe worth remembering the position they are in and what put them there.

A kinder politics

A guest post by Samuel Miller

This week Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, has been touring what he hopes are winnable marginal seats in Scotland. His intent, to raise his and his party’s profile north of the border and of course apparently do some damage to Labour’s political opponents along the way. So far, so logical. It’s what politicians do. Jeremy however, is different from other politicians. We know this because … well basically he said so.

“I want a kinder politics, a more caring society; don’t let them reduce you to believing in anything less,” and “Let’s get on with bringing values back into politics.” Jeremy Corbyn, 2015

In fact it’s been pretty much a major theme of his political rhetoric for the past two years, this call for kinder, more honest politics. Sounds great, don’t you think? Which is kind of at odds with some of the statements made so far. According to Jeremy – “The SNP government has the powers if it wants to use them to mitigate the effects of austerity, they chose not to.” So clearly, offsetting the bedroom tax, no tuition fees, no prescription charges and up until the beginning of the last parliamentary term, the freezing of council tax don’t count then. Also, and this is maybe just me, but in whose estimation are the powers of the Scottish government adequate enough to cope with the austerity measures of central government? A matter of opinion surely?

Jeremy also made statements on the levels of third world poverty and shortened life expectancy to be found in areas of Glasgow (not entirely clear whether he made any statement or posited a theory on the historic causes though). Housing shortage and under investment in rural communities also rated some concerned mention. There were also some pledges from Jeremy to invest in all of the above, though my fav quote has to be “I want to see a Labour government in Westminster to be able to fund Scotland the way it should be funded and empower housing associations and local authorities to improve their housing stock.” Uh Huh!

It’s nice that Jeremy made the suggestions and all, don’t you think? In fact it’s appreciated that he discovered these things happen in Scotland at all and that, as is right and proper, some degree of concern for same is being shown. How and ever, setting aside that the Scottish Government do have a programme and targets in place on pretty much all of the above, just what does ‘fund Scotland the way it should be funded’ imply d’you reckon? Does Jeremy think Scotland is underfunded? Why would he think such a thing? He has been aware of the Scotland bill debates, devolution and such over the past seventeen years or so surely? He is aware of the current constitutional settlement, yes/no? His party were somewhat heavily involved in the process after all. How precisely does he intend to work out what this proper funding should be? Once he’s done that, how will he get it through both houses and sell it to the electorate of the other nations that they should ‘fund’ Scotland even more? It’ll be quite a sell given the current toxic media attitude toward all things Scottish. A media attitude and narrative born of political affiliations and corporate interest it has to noted.

I’m hoping regular readers have also noted the language and terminology concerning Scotland by this point?

Going back to the first statement however, there are a few pertinent questions to ask Mr Corbyn. Why should the Scottish parliament be required to ‘mitigate’ anything? Haven’t the Scottish public paid taxes to ensure that central government is responsible for adequate and effective legislation in the first place? Why should Scotland’s electorate expect that portions of their budget allocation are used to rectify catastrophic economic errors and/or oppressive legislation from central government at all? Isn’t central government fit for purpose? Is Mr Corbyn suggesting that it’s not?

Moving on, there’s the matter of the branch office’s strategy over the past year (well, past several years really). Where does kinder more honest politics come into Labour’s constant, and I do mean constant, negative opinions of the performance of Scotland’s institutions and services fit in precisely? If Labour are to be believed, Scotland’s NHS and Rail services are on the verge of imminent collapse and in a state of perpetual crisis. Which is, y’know, strange because NHS Scotland have some pretty impressive performance stats and our Scotrail service appears to be doing rather well.

But still, a kinder, more honest politics.

Finally we come to THIS. Yes, I know. A federal solution. Something this site and a great many others have covered in some detail is the long promised, nay mythical, idyll of federalism.

“Everything is on the table.” (Jeremy Corbyn or David Cameron? I just can’t tell anymore.)

Two words for Mr Corbyn – Gordon Brown. Another two words if those fail to ring any bells – The VOW. (and the first smarty pants who suggests a further two will be sent to bed without any sweeties, mkay?)  Yet another reminder for Mr Corbyn to jog the old grey cells can be found HERE. That last example should put the tin hat on it as an issue.

When it comes to a kinder, more honest politics? I’d say it’s perhaps not enough to simply talk the talk.

About now, most folk could be forgiven for coming to the conclusion that so far as politics from the establishment parties are concerned, it is very much a case of business as usual.

Oh the irony

A guest post by Samuel Miller

A few articles this week have caught my eye and more than one have a hint of irony about them, not to mention a soupçon of ‘who knew?’

First up was a piece on Fishing grouds/rights which is apparently causing a bit of a fallout between Messrs Hammond and Gove and most definitely falls squarely into the ‘who knew’ category. Aye, it appears that running true to form, a Tory chancellor, in a Tory government is (wait for it), planning on using ‘UK’ fishing grounds as a Brexit bargaining chip to secure whatever concessions are possible in ongoing EU talks.

You’re shocked… I can tell.

Who indeed knew that Tories having a pissing contest over party leadership, power politics and right wing ideologies might be telling fibs over the return of sovereignty, powers and access to resources? Who knew, that as soon as cunning plans went south for the winter and sphincters started to tighten, they’d instantly renege on any promise they made in favour of using those resources to their own best advantage? What those who chose to vote Tory at the last election, vote leave in the EU referendum and vote no in Scotland’s indyref now have to consider, is just what kind of a deal would Mr Hammond cut on those rights from being outside the EU? Will it be the same deal? A better deal? A worse deal? Newsflash! A Westminster government WILL use any and all resources, any and all means to secure what is best for Westminster government. Something to consider for the future.

Next up is a bit of an update to an excellent post by this site’s host last week. It appears Ms Davidson has gone AWOL from the day job (or it may have something to do with the fetching camouflage overalls). Cue wobbly lines and flashback for a quick reminder. This event has spookily occurred on the back of a tweet from the Scottish Conservative and Unionist leader which stated quite unequivocally: – “The President of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame.” So far, well said, you’d think. Right up until THIS came to light. The reinstatement to the Tory party of two councilors who had been suspended for… you guessed it, a record of racist and sectarian tweets.

Wobbly lines and back to present day. The real story is of course, as noted at the beginning, the apparent reluctance of the Scottish Conservative leader to defend this decision, do ‘the day job’ of leadership and face some admittedly uncomfortable questions on the subject. At some point I have no doubt Ms Davidson will resurface. There’s bound to be a camera op with costumes and flegs involved sometime soon and you’d have thought GERS day to be that very day. How and ever, it’s worth pointing out that the longer it takes for Ms Davidson to surface and face some questioning on this decision and the reasoning behind it (though you wouldn’t have to struggle much for an educated guess), the worse it looks.

On to some irony, not to mention some comedic farce. The most recent update to the UK negotiating position on Brexit. It appears the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier is somewhat frustrated with the UKs continued efforts to parallel trade negotiations with exit/settlement negotiations. Mr Barnier and indeed the EU in general have been entirely consistent on the issue from day one. The settlement and exit strategy of the UK from the EU must come before any negotiations on future trade agreements.

As the linked article states, top of the EU’s to do list will be settlement of financial obligations, citizens rights, Ireland’s border and so on. Mind you, Mr Barnier’s frustration is entirely understandable when UK gov. keep attempting to negotiate via media statement and seemingly undeliverable and unagreed upon demands. Statements such as the UK demanding that no extra cost/charges be levied on UK goods (already meeting EU standards) sold to the EU after Brexit has been concluded.

I’m not exactly sure the UK government have entirely grasped the concept of Brexit meaning Brexit at this point. The concept that you cannot enjoy the advantages of a club if you leave the club (just a smidge of irony there). I’d say you either knew what leaving meant before you made your choice to do so, or you didn’t. I suppose you could also see where other non EU nations, who follow regulations when selling their products to the EU, might get a bit grumpy if the UK were granted such exceptional status.

Anyroads, back to the meat. It would seem the EU are not willing to pre negotiate future trade relations till a Brexit settlement has been reached and concluded. So no pre negotiation then.

All together now… OHHHHHH THE IRONY!

Finally a word about GERS. A subject well covered by some weel kent faces on this day pretty much every year and from all over the political spectrum. You’ll also find pub experts, club bores, metrosplaining broadcast and meeja pundits, all of whom have their views (cough). I won’t insult the readership of this site by going over what most of us believe to be the reality of GERS and I won’t pretend to be an expert on national and international macro economics. No, I won’t do that.

I’ll merely provide a link to someone who is:- HERE

Worth going over the author’s CV when you get there, though some folk will already have encountered the gentleman’s work and views on economics.

The point of these examples? Is simply to show a pattern. A pattern of government, practice of politics and abuse of trust. The week isn’t over yet readers. Think on that.


A guest post by Samuel Miller

So basically First Minister Nicola Sturgeon whilst attending an Edinburgh Festival event said that the word “national” could be “problematic” and that with a bit of twenty twenty hindsight, naming her party differently ninety years ago might have been a good idea. Anyone associated with the SNP, indeed anyone with any connection to the independence movement, can understand the sentiment and logic behind this response. It’s a question I’m sure I’ve heard asked of the First Minister before and her response was, I’m pretty sure, little different to the one proferred. I’d guess word association, false equivalence and conflation are pretty much part of the furniture for the Scottish National Party.

You know, it’s almost a year ago exactly since I posted a piece on the nature and influence of the written word and the responsibility the media has to use that influence with care. Mind you, it’s never just been the media though. The political class have also shown an epic disregard for responsibility over the years when pursuing their agenda du jour. Say anything, do anything and just win. Worry about the consequences of ill thought statements, pledges, accusations and smears later. Whatever does the job, apparently the S.O.P.

Quick reminder and link to the piece: “The written word is powerful. People can be moved to acts of great kindness and humanitarian aid, or they can be moved to acts of intolerance and great inhumanity. They can be motivated to feel true empathy, humour, regret, hope, aspiration even. Or they can be made to feel doubt, uncertainty, anger, fear and hatred. In the hands of a true wordsmith it is a tool or a weapon that can influence the emotions and opinions of individuals and populations alike for good or ill”

Well, I hate to say I told you so… etc.

A year on and both our politicians and our media still appear hell bent on playing word games. They still want you to play a game of ‘join the dots’ to their narratives and of course, come to find the image they want you to see. They apparently still want to drive those narratives, and write and rewrite history, make reality and democracy over to what they want it to be and not how the former is and how the latter should be.

You’d think the never ending stream of ‘Brexit shambles‘ style headlines may have been a bit of a heads up as to what happens when a narrative runs away from its creators. You may also have thought that emotive right wing media rhetoric possibly having some effect in stoking the fires of intolerance to the point where hate crime has risen across the board wasn’t such a cunning plan either.  When people, who have been contributors to the UKs economy and culture for years, are actively looking to leave for more tolerant and peaceful shores that would reasonably constitute a heads up moment?

But no! No, none of these things have prevented the march of politics as it is practised. The political class still try to undermine trust in their opposition with cheap point scoring exercises. They still want to attain the positions and the power of course, but without the awkward details of policy or the responsibility attached. The media today still try to drive narratives and sales with emotionally charged copy. Both use their soapboxes to manipulate the emotions, opinion and votes of their followers and readerships to their own gain and if some ‘eggs’ get broken? Well, it’s just politics or it’s a bottom line and a few more quid in the coffers… right?

So far as our own societal and political situation in Scotland is concerned, you might also have thought that a never ending stream of labeling, demonisation, fear and uncertainty would not be a clever way to win back votes or trust either. Maybe just me, but the whole insulting and antagonising at least half of your population, whilst denigrating the whole as being somehow, sub standard, second best and singularly incapable doesn’t strike me as a particularly unifying or positive strategy.  Constant conflation, (subtle or overt), of your political opposition and their support with historic forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry can do that. You can see where it could get a bit tiresome after a while to be sure.

Apparently you put the word ‘national’ into just about anything and the less scrupulous, honest or ethical of individuals will have a field day drawing false equivalence for their own advantage. Though how they get round the likes of National Health Service, National Museums, National anthem, National Trust and so very many more titles without having fits of foaming outrage is beyond me, because y’know, National bad – Patriot good. Perhaps renaming most of these islands institutions is in order?

Or more likely, it seems the criteria for triggering conflation and false equivalence is mainly to be in opposition to them, but then that would make their actions shabby and massively irresponsible, yes?

Deeply insulting as it is to those who support self determination in Scotland, the true insult is to those who have suffered at the hands of the real thing all through that dark chapter in human history. In fact to those who suffer even today at the hands of the racist, the bigot, the politically and societally intolerant.

‘Course, not satisfied with the possible societal fallout from all of the above, less mindful elements of the political class and the media can heedlessly and needlessly undermine trust in our national (there’s that word again) institutions, our services and our achievements. Their words potentially put jobs at risk and people in harms way, but apparently all’s fair in love and war …etc. How must that seem to the outside world I wonder? Happily some can know the truth of a thing when they see it.

The true cost of politics as it is practised? All it takes is for one person not to call an emergency service through an instilled lack of trust. All it will take is for one person to raise their hand to another, because their ‘go to’ title’s dog whistle rhetoric has informed them to mistrust or alienate. The true cost is borne by people. Your actual human beings.

To put not too fine a point on it, we’re not collateral damage. We’re not electoral coinage either. Our lives matter. So for the less well informed, let’s keep it simple.

What You See Is What You Get.

So far as I am aware, the Scottish National Party/Scottish Government and those like minded folk who make up the larger, wider YES/Independence movement, have not invaded anyone. They haven’t oppressed any populations. They haven’t crashed economies or enacted legislation which has drawn international condemnation. They haven’t unleashed a hostile media assault on their own citizens. Oh, and unless public record has changed of recent times, they haven’t forced their nation partners into any acts against their will and they haven’t dropped an economic and constitutional galactostooshie into said partner’s lap either.

Can the same be said for Westminster government? Could the same be said for successive Westminster governments? Maybe worth thinking about the next time you reach for a title from your local news stand or listen to a couch load of metrosplaining political punditry. It’s maybe time to give the news stand a miss for a while and look around yourself. Don’t allow yourself to be led to a conclusion. Don’t join the dots others lay down for you.

It’s not about what you’re told, it’s about what you see and what you experience for yourself.


About that equal partnership…?

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Over the run up and course of the first independence referendum a great deal was made of equality, partnership and latterly of a union family by some weel kent faces.

“Today we are equal partners in the United Kingdom. With independence Scotland’s budget would have to be approved beyond the border. That’s not freedom. That’s not independence. That’s serfdom.” A. Darling 2012

“And speaking of family – that is quite simply how I feel about this. We are a family. The United Kingdom is not one nation. We are four nations in a single country.”  D. Cameron 2014

(As an interesting exercise, when reading the entirety of Mr Cameron’s speech via the link supplied, try replacing Scotland with UK and UK with EU where relevant.  Then try not to have an irony overload.)

Over the weekend a couple of stories have received some coverage which shed a bit of a different light on those statements from our recent past. Bear in mind those statements were made by the man who would lead the Better Together campaign and the then Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron.

The first story concerns Trade Secretary Liam Fox. Aye, apparently Mr Fox feels including representation from devolved legislatures on certain decision making processes might be a tad problematic for UK trade. Mainly because…. reasons. OK?

Although, given Mr Fox’s recent enthusiasm for a trade deal on imported food stuffs, you can see why said devolved legislatures may have a concern or two of their own and not least on the constitutional front.

The second piece, very much on the topic of partnership, was lead story of the Sunday Herald found HERE. Oh, and yes it concerns oil. That stuff which is a positive boon for other countries, but for some uncanny and unfathomable reason is an absolute curse for Scotland. Having said that, I’m reasonably sure the reader can draw their own conclusions as to the nature and the source of those problems (cough). There has after all only ever been one steward managing the resource since its discovery.

The point of the exercise is trust. Statements and pledges by parties and leaderships toward populations are either worth something or they’re not. Management of the affairs, interests and resources of those populations is either fit for purpose and reflective of those statements and those pledges or it is not.

Now that’s not to say extenuating circumstances don’t play their part in the affairs of politics. Events can sometimes, and I do mean sometimes, interfere with a leadership’s ability to deliver on their pledges. How and ever, when those pledges are proven to be systematically undelivered and undeliverable, the average bod must then consider the intent behind the original statements. Most especially when you consider there are comparable examples and standards to examine out there in the wider world. You know it’s entirely possible that some other nations may have different and indeed more desirable methods of running their politics and caring for their society. Curiosity and puzzlement are also entirely understandable when you know for an absolute certainty that others somehow manage their affairs on a given issue with some degree of success. The average bod may also justifiably ask on such occasions, why can’t we?

It’s up to the readers of course at this point, but given HMG’s and Better Together’s record of delivery on the spirit and substance of their promises to date? They may perhaps be forgiven, (after a little light reading on links provided), for questioning the intent behind the statements and the record behind the rhetoric, also perhaps the nature of the politics and political process which drove them.

What kind of country do you want to live in?

A dead water feeling

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Dead water is the nautical term for a phenomenon which can occur when a layer of fresh or brackish water rests on top of denser salt water, without the two layers mixing. A ship powered by direct thrust under the waterline (such as a propeller), traveling in such conditions may be hard to maneuver or can even slow down almost to a standstill. Much of the energy from the ship’s propeller only results in waves and turbulence between the two layers of water, leaving a ship capable of traveling at perhaps as little as 20% of its normal speed. (Source Wiki)

Scary, isn’t it? The waiting.

It can certainly play bloody hell on the nerves with folk who are just getting their groove on again with politics after a few decades, or even for the first time ever. So much happening to us in the form of Brexit, austerity ideology, unashamedly reneged pledges from indyref 1, the collapse of political institutions, the rise of intolerance, isolationism and such. Worse. It can appear that no one is listening to our concerns, or cries for action, fairness or explanation. Most reasonable sane people just want stuff to happen now (if not sooner) and our government should get it fixed and WHY THE HELL ISN’T IT? Didn’t we just green light another majority? What are they waiting on? Somebody say sumthin’!

Also seems there are plenty of people telling us what to think with their ‘hot take’ du jour t’boot. So many talking ‘at’ us and not enough talking ‘to’ us. So, yes. Plenty to be concerned about if truth be told. It’s also a perfectly understandable and perfectly human reaction to all of the above.

Fear, uncertainty, doubts and confusion creep in about friends, political allies, their motivations and commitments to this that or the next thing. People who put a great deal of their personal agendas and time aside to work together with others and tackle a greater issue, begin to remember their differences of opinion on whatever and question why they should have placed faith or trust in another to begin with. Frustrations and differences buried in time of immediate action surfacing because, well mainly because there’s seemingly no forward motion, no momentum or impetus to direct those energies. Focus on direction and purpose drifts, or is made to drift. Sound familiar? A time of ‘Dead Water’, wasted energy, deflected effort, enforced inactivity.

‘Course it doesn’t help when some twisted bastirts from the true source of the problem feed those doubts on a daily basis. When you are bombarded 24/7 and 365 days a year with said FEAR, UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT. It doesn’t help when they actively sow doubts between friends, undermine trust (in just about everything), foment frustration, seemingly deny you redress and a platform to clear the air or inform accurately and in context. It doesn’t help when our public guardians of the fourth estate are apparently guardians of THE state and orthodoxy. Makes it hard for those they don’t approve of to get that fair hearing don’t you think? Yes, they’ve been making good use of this period of enforced inactivity, because they know it won’t last forever and you better believe they are more than acutely aware it does have an end.

Regardless, at such a time as this it’s easy to forget why we all came together. Why we’re here at this place and at this point in time and why we put all that other stuff to one side to work together.

I remember.

As I recall, it’s the belief that the peoples of Scotland are best placed to make decisions affecting the peoples of Scotland (And no. The plural isn’t accidental). Self determination. You don’t need to come from any particular part of the political or societal spectrum. You just need to believe in that simple principle. All parties and no parties. All levels of society. All creeds. All points of origin. All of us together. Natural born and new Scot. It’s the very thing that will provide you with a representative government willing to govern for all and not simply a demographic. It’s kinda what makes you a population and will make you a country.

Personally, I’ve never worried over whether you voted SNP, Green, SSP, Conservative, Labour, Libdem, independent or didn’t vote at all in the past. It never mattered to me where you were born, how much you earn, (or don’t), what colour your skin is or whether you wear Buchanan plaid troosers with a Paisley pattern shirt combo on dance night at the local Pally (though…. DANG!).

YOU are a Scottish citizen and you need only remember what makes you, and what made you, a YES voter. So cutting through all the stuff people are throwing at us from every direction, about now I’d say we’re beyond the party politics stage. That patch of dead water we’ve found ourselves in won’t last forever. It does have an end and it’s very much in sight. Pointless arguments, twatter spats, snark and other hi jinks need to be put in their proper place and perspective. They mean nothing, NOTHING, compared to the societal and economic hardships we can help avert if we all pull in the same direction. We can do it. We’ve done it before and gave those and such as those a challenge they never thought they’d face from ‘ordinary’ Jock and Jeannie public.

The establishment had and still have so many advantages on their side and yet we let them know where the true heart of a nation lies. We let them know what makes a country, a country and it’s not borders or landmass. Its not the trappings of state. It’s not military might or pomp. It’s not patronage or how much of the corporate world and media you can call on when you’re in a bit of a bind either.

It’s the people.

Only the people have the power and the right to decide their own future and form of governance. No single party can deliver that. No party EVER could. The ONLY thing a party of government could ever do is be willing to offer you the choice and facilitate YOUR decision.

We are, I believe, going to be given that choice again in the not too distant future and it’s worth remembering that a referendum doesn’t belong to any party. It belongs to you and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. So right now, if you don’t do politics, or don’t normally support the SNP, then fine. I think we can all get behind why most of us wouldn’t vote for one party or another in ‘normal’ circumstances. It’s a deeply personal choice. What’s happening to the politics and society of the UK right now though, aren’t normal circumstances. What is happening to Scotland, because of that political and parliamentary union we’re currently enjoying, is nowhere near normal, or right, or just. This is no longer about voting for the SNP or any other party, it is about supporting the Scottish Government in their efforts to avert economic and constitutional calamity for the population of Scotland. That would be all of us mainly.

If it helps folk who normally place their support and their trust elsewhere, don’t look at them as a political party, but as a means to an end. You do not need to be an SNP member or supporter to recognise that right now, at this particular period in time, they are the best chance, the ONLY chance the people of Scotland have of being given a constitutional choice. Safe to say we won’t be seeing an orderly queue forming to offer Scotland’s electorate any choice from the other mainstream parties. You’d think though, since their politicking dumped this epic galactostooshie in our laps, they’d at least say sorry. (shrugs)

You know, it’s often said that running your own country is for grown ups. I fully agree. I think it’s time for all of us to grow up now. If we want a system of government where our voice will be heard, with a written and codified constitution, a progressive, inclusive and outward reaching internationalist aspect, and an accountable legislature, then it’s only going to happen one way.

ALL of us together.

The SNP are the key to a locked door. All folk need to agree upon is turning that key and stepping through the door. What folk do on the other side is the grown up bit.

A reason to be cheerful

It’s time to be cheerful, and not just because I’m about to see my American other half for a two week visit during which we plan to go to the Highlands and then to London for a few days. It’s time to be cheerful because despite any local difficulties that the independence campaign might have faced recently, we’re on the right side of history. More and more I’m convinced that we are no longer engaged in a debate about whether Scotland could or should become an independent country again, we’re in a debate about the timing. This is a debate about when Scotland retakes its historic place amongst the independent nations of the world, not a debate about if. We’re debating the tense of the verb, not its conditionality, because Scotland’s condition is that of a country which is on the path to statehood.

I’m cheerful because of the response of the usual British nationalist suspects to the author Andrew O’Hagan’s speech to the Edinburgh Book Festival in which he set out his reasons for shifting from support for the United Kingdom to support for Scottish independence. I’m cheerful because that response was lacking in intellectual rigour, lacking in imagination, lacking in humanity. I’m cheerful because their pathetically sneering response was entirely predictable. I’m cheerful because the massed commentariat of the British nationalists had no coherent reply. I’m cheerful because they have no coherent case for Britishness. All they have is a dismissive sneer, a contemptuous snort, and a graph. To be fair to them, graphs are the closest that they have to imaginative literature.

It is very noticeable that the creativity, the imagination, the soul and the spirit of Scotland are almost entirely on the side of independence. Where are the artists, the poets, the novellists, articulating a British Scotland that sings and soars? They don’t exist. The Scottish incarnation of British nationalism has no soul. That’s important, because a nation doesn’t tread the path to independence to the tune of an accountant, and particularly not to that of an accountant whose objectivity is highly suspect.

Nations are sung into being, they are versified and live in the stories that are told on cold and wet nights around the flicker of a fire. The story that the Scottish independence campaign imagines is the story of a nation founded in tolerance, a story that all those who hear can choose to be characters in. That’s the Scotland that we sing about. It’s a Scotland that is limited only by our imaginations.

Nationhood is a creative act of the imagination. A nation exists in the stories its people tell themselves, in the poems that they recite, in the songs that they sing. It is a creation of the imagination. The vision of the Scotland that independence supporters seek is a creative act. If you have no imagination, you have no nation to call into being. British nationalism in Scotland is a desert of dreams and a bonfire of hope. It promises nothing and delivers less. It has no visionaries to lead the way. It has no light in its darkness. British nationalism in Scotland is a journey that aspires to arrive at mediocrity but always ends in despair. It depends for its survival as an ideology on creating nothing but doubt and fear.

I’m cheerful because when they were confronted with an erudite and creative man who spoke about a future Scotland that he called into being by the power of his imagination, British nationalists replied by complaining that he wasn’t being limited by their narrow vision of Scotland. They complained that a creative artist wasn’t being inspired by a British nationalist accountant. How dare anyone dream. How dare someone state that dignity has no price. How dare anyone look at the graph and laugh. But they had no response to the poetry in his soul. All they had was snideness and sneering, the comments section of the Scotsman writ large. That’s not going to inspire generations of a nation. It’s the last resort of those who know that their intellectual cupboard is bare.

I’m cheerful because independence is an act of creation and the creative people in Scotland overwhelmingly support independence. Nations don’t choose a particular path because someone draws a graph about the price of oil or claims about a deficit. They choose a particular path because the poets amongst their people sing of something better. For some years now, Scotland has been singing of a better future, one that Britain can’t offer.

I’m cheerful because the British state is being hollowed out from within by those who claim to love it. One by one the pillars of British rule have been eaten through by the termites of Westminster. They are no longer even pretending that there is a Union worth its name, all there is is a Westminster that’s greedy for power and which refuses to acknowledge that Scotland wants different things. Yet the Union between Scotland and England can only survive as long as both parts want broadly the same future. Brexit has shattered what was left of that tattered delusion. And Westminster responds by trying to silence Scotland. It responds by gloating about how its silences Scotland. The music has stopped. The poets are silent. The stories are not to be told.

There is no dreaming in the Union. There is no one singing the song of a better Britain that Scotland is at the heart of. There is nothing to inspire, no creative act of imagination. There is nothing to unite, nothing to energise, enthuse or rouse the soul, nothing to animate. This is a United Kingdom which is still walking but which is already dead.

Nations become independent because of their story tellers, their makars, their dreamers. They tell a story of a better land and by the act of creating the tale they bring it into being. To become independent is a creative act and Scotland is a nation of poets, of singers, and of story tellers. That’s a reason to be cheerful.

Peter is arriving on Sunday, but I’ve got a few things to do before then. He’ll be here for two weeks and during that time I won’t be blogging. Sam Miller (Macart) will be looking after you in my absence. I know he’ll keep you engaged and informed.

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. You can now access this blog simply by typing into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.

gingercartoonWee Ginger Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

Many thanks.

Tory cat food

Charlottesville is an event that is based in a tragic American history of racism and discrimination against minorities which has long blighted the Land of the Free. For too long Free meant male, middle class and white, and there are still powerful and violent groups in the USA who are determined to ensure that the only freedom that matters is the freedom to discriminate, the freedom to hate, the freedom to oppress. Those groups were manifesting in all their ugly hatefulness in Charlottesville, and the reaction of the American president was to equate the practitioners of hate with those who opposed them. Democrats and Republicans both have condemned his moral cowardice. Trump’s racist mask has slipped and Americans across the political spectrum have denounced him for it. Trump said after he was elected that he intended to unite the American people, and now he’s done exactly that, just not in the way he planned.

In Scotland we look askance on an American president who is incapable of making an unequivocal denunciation of Nazis. The so-called Alt-Right protesters in Charlottesville aren’t merely hyperbolic Nazis, they’re not just metaphorical Nazis. They’re you’re actual nasty Nazis. They’re overtly racist, openly anti-Semitic, proudly homophobic, aggressively misogynistic. Our politicians, we like to think, are better than an American president who draws a moral equivalence between Nazis and people who protest against Nazis. And by and large, and to their credit, they are.

Ruth Davidson has rightly condemned Donald Trump for drawing a moral equivalence between Nazis and people who protest against Nazis. On Tuesday evening she tweeted “The President of the United States has just turned his face to the world to defend Nazis, fascists and racists. For shame.” She deserves credit for that. It’s a far stronger and clearer condemnation that that which her boss managed. Theresa May avoided referring to Trump directly. I don’t often say this, but well done Ruth.

But, and it’s a big but, it’s safe to condemn an unpopular American president. Now show some proper leadership Ruth. Prove that you’re not just a self-publicist who is jumping on a popular bandwagon and condemn Scotland’s home grown bigots and extremists in equally strong terms. And I’m not talking here about independence supporters being rude on Twitter.

Ruth’s very keen to condemn independence supporters who misbehave. That’s easy when you’re the head of the most aggressively British nationalist of Scotland’s major political parties. Condemning bad behaviour amongst your opponents just counts as point scoring, not as leadership.  Real leadership comes when you’re able to speak out against the nastiness that lurks under your own flegstone. Ruth is a whole lot less keen to say anything about extremist British nationalism even though the actual fascists, the racists, and the sectarian bigots are overwhelmingly on the red white and blue side of the Scottish constitutional debate. I’ve never even heard her condemn the British nationalist trolls who infest the comments section of the Scotsman. You’d think that would be easy.

More seriously, Ruth avoids condemning sectarian organisations. She has never overtly and unambiguously disassociated the Conservative party from the Orange Order and made a strong and unequivocal condemnation of the bigotry and discrimination which that organisation fosters. She says nothing about the Orange Order and the Protestant supremacism which so many members of her own party cheerfully dog-whistle to. Ruth says nothing about the slew of Tory candidates who were revealed to have connections to the far right or to sectarian organisations which espouse Scotland’s home grown racism, the racism of the anti-Irish variety.

From the perspective of a Scot from an Irish Catholic background, the Orange Order and the white supremacists of Charlottesville are creatures cut from the same racist cloth. They all march in paramilitary uniforms. They all have an ideology based in exclusion of sections of the community because of who they descend from. They all think that the only freedom that matters is the freedom to discriminate. Both of them claim that they’re only expressing their culture, and both have a culture of hate. Both have colours that don’t run, they just drip with hatred for those who aren’t like them.

The English born US talk show host John Oliver spoke about Trump this week and how Trump is lauded and applauded by the American far right. Referring to Trump’s refusal to make a clear denunciation of yer actual Nazis, John said that Nazis are like cats. If they like you it’s because you’re feeding them. We could say the exact same thing about Ruth Davidson and an Orange Order which adores her.  Aren’t you upset Ruth, to be loved by a sectarian organisation?

Ruth Davidson isn’t a racist. She’s not a sectarian bigot. But she never clearly and unhesitatingly condemns those on her own side who are, and there are lots of them. If Ruth Davidson had the courage of her undoubted anti-racist convictions, she’d make the Orange Order hate her. You’re not a champion of anti-racism when you pick and choose amongst racists. And I’m not talking here about people who say things that some people find offensive. I’m talking here about people who actually put their offensiveness into practice.

Go on Ruth, prove to us all that you are as committed to anti-racism as we all want to believe you are – you can do it by explicitly stating that membership of the Orange Order is incompatible with membership of the Conservative party, and that support for the big drum bangers means exclusion from your party. Say that the Orange Order is what it really is, an an organisation founded in order to perpetuate and promote a racist ideology aimed against people of Irish Catholic origin. Crack down on the Tories who use social media to nudge nudge wink wink support the boys who march in their uniforms to the music of hate. And it would be nice if you could apologise for the historic role of the Conservatives in being complicit with sectarianism in Scotland as a means to protect the Union.  Prove to us that the Conservatives in Scotland have a zero tolerance policy for sectarianism.  Condemn it like you condemn Trump.

We all want a better Scotland, a peaceful and peaceable Scotland, an open, tolerant, and inclusive Scotland. That’s not going to happen when it’s only one side in this constitutional debate which is expected to be self-reflective and to examine its own sins. We need all Scotland’s politicians to have the moral authority to condemn an American president who draws a moral equivalence between Nazis and anti-Nazis. But that’s not going to happen unless those politicians also have the moral fibre to identify and condemn the equivalent evils that still blight Scotland and which infest their own party in the way that American bigots infest the US presidency.

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. You can now access this blog simply by typing into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.

gingercartoonWee Ginger Fundraiser

I’m doing a fundraiser this year to keep this blog going for another twelve month and to allow the dug and me to continue visiting local groups all across Scotland. You can donate via my crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo –

Alternatively you can donate by Paypal by clicking the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account I’ve set up for the purposes of this fundraiser, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

Many thanks.