The edge of the abyss

red-carnation

In just ten days time, the government of Catalonia is determined to hold an independence referendum that the government of Spain is equally determined to prevent. What’s happening in Spain is heading towards the logical conclusion of what you get when the loyalist defenders of the central state refuse to countenance that a country within that state has a right to self-determination. The situation in Catalonia is growing fraught, it’s getting dangerous.

The Catalan independence movement shares an important and highly praiseworthy feature in common with the Scottish independence movement. Apart from the activities of a tiny fringe group during the 1980s called Terra Lliure ‘Free Land’, the Catalan movement, like its Scottish counterpart, is dedicated to peaceful and legal protest, and to achieving its aims by persuasion and through the ballot box. Like members of the Scottish independence campaign, the Catalans believe that the kind of independent state you achieve is determined by the kind of campaign you run in order to win your independence. A violent campaign with no respect for democracy and the rule of law creates a new state born in blood, one in which democratic rights cannot be assured. That’s not the kind of Catalonia that anyone wants. That’s not the kind of Scotland that anyone wants either.

Carnation-White-StemEarlier this week Madrid took effective control of the pursestrings of the Catalan government. They haven’t suspended the Catalan administration, although Clause 155 of the Spanish constitution does permit such a step, but they have taken control of the finances of the Catalan government. Senior government officials have been arrested, and 700 pro-independence mayors have been threatened with legal action if they dare to facilitate the referendum. Even Catalan newspapers which are not pro-independence are describing this as a coup d’etat against the government in Barcelona. Catalonia is standing on the edge of an abyss, staring into the darkness of the days of the Francoist dictatorship. It has been driven to this point by a government in Madrid which is the political heir of Franco in democratic drag.

Today the Spanish newspaper El País, which is roughly equivalent to the Guardian in terms of its politics, is reporting that the Spanish Government together with the main Spanish opposition party the PSOE, are offering to negotiate with the Catalan government “within the constitution and the law”, on condition that Catalonia drops the referendum. It’s hard to see how this offer can be in any way attractive to Catalonia, as “within the constitution and the law” is code for “without any mention or possibility of independence”. The Madrid government and parties have made it clear that they’re only prepared to talk about Catalonia’s funding. They’ve made it equally clear that they’re going to maintain the same constrictions on Catalan democratic expression.

Meanwhile the central state continues its pressure. The Spanish Supreme Court has ordered that the members of the Catalan Electoral Commission are to be fined €12,000 a day each. The Spanish Treasury, the Ministerio de la Hacienda, has frozen the bank accounts of the Catalan government. Today (Thursday) in Barcelona there’s a demonstration of thousands of citizens in front of the Catalan Supreme Court, calling for the release of the government officials arrested last week. Hundreds of red and white carnations, the symbol of the independence movement, have been left outside the court office which ordered the detentions. Neither side seems likely to budge. Catalonia stands on the verge of serious civil disorder, and it’s the central government in Madrid which is largely to blame because it refuses to concede the legality of the democratic will of the people.

A group of SNP MSPs has written to the President of the EU Commission Donald Tusk, requesting that he intervene. The cross party grouping on Catalonia in the House of Lords has also written in support of the right of Catalonia to self-determination and to request that the Spanish government allows the vote to go ahead.

The Catalan public service broadcaster has been warned by the courts that it faces legal action if it continues to report on events or actions that could lead to the referendum being held. Scotland’s own public service broadcaster doesn’t need any legal threats to stop it covering events in Catalonia. It’s far more interested in the fitba. As far as BBC Scotland is concerned, there’s absolutely parallels between Scotland and Catalonia that anyone in Scotland might be interested in. Our so-called national broadcaster remains as resolutely parochial as the status to which the UK wishes to consign Scotland. The Spanish Supreme Court and Mariano Rajoy would be so proud of a broadcaster which fell over itself to give huge prominence to the musings of even minor Spanish Unionists during Scotland’s independence debate, but which seemingly prefers to place events in Catalonia in the same category of Scottish public interest as local government elections in Mongolia.

The central state nationalist intransigence on display in Spain is present here in Scotland too. Ruth Davidson, whoever it is that’s going to end up leading Labour’s Scottish accounting unit, and Wullie Rennie, refuse to recognise the mandate that the Scottish government possesses to hold another independence referendum. Ruth Davidson is on record as stating that there is no mandate for another independence referendum in Scotland even if more than 50% of the voters opt for the SNP in an election. Kezia Dugdale said something very similar. When a majority of voters choose a particular path, but the leader of a minority party not only claims there is no mandate, but is able to block that mandate due to support she receives from within the state, but outside the country in question, democracy is a sham. Ruth should be ashamed of the statement she made and should disavow it.

The lesson for Scotland from Catalonia is a lesson in democracy that Scotland’s British nationalists must pay heed to. This is what happens when so called Unionists refuse to respect the legitimate mandate of a democratically elected devolved government. It creates the risk of civil disobedience. It creates the risk of bringing the rule of law into disrepute. It creates risk of confrontation between the people and the police. It creates the risk of social disturbances. Ruth Davidson preaches against division, but it takes two to create a divide, and Ruth has her own role in its creation.  In Scotland, we do not want the kind of brinkmanship and confrontation that the Spanish nationalist establishment has created in Catalonia.

The lesson to learn is that the will of the people as it is democratically expressed through the ballot box must always be respected. Democracy isn’t a one off event. Democracy in Scotland did not stop when the country voted No in 2014. The result of that referendum is being respected. Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom, that’s what respecting the result of the referendum means. But that doesn’t mean that Scotland surrendered the right to revisit the question of independence at a time of Scotland’s choosing. It doesn’t mean that Scotland has no right to reconsider the matter when circumstances have changed. When democracy is frozen at one point in time, democracy dies. There is a mandate for another referendum, one that was democratically and peacefully achieved. Scotland will have another referendum and we must support the right of our brothers and sisters in Catalonia to hold theirs.


 

weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot 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 Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
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Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com 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.

The Power Grab

POWER GRAB – The Threat to Scottish Democracy. 20 years after devolution and the creation its own Parliament, Scotland now faces its biggest challenge in the form of Brexit and a hard-right UK Tory Govt determined to centralise power. Former MP, MSP and Presiding Officer, George Reid, was involved in the 1979 devolution vote won by Yes but lost on a controversial technicality. George Reid played a key role in overseeing the building of the new Holyrood Parliament. The parliament was symbolic of a changing, more powerful nation. It came under constant attack during its difficult birth and almost threatened the devolution process itself. George reflects on the Parliament building, its inner workings and how, against the odds, Holyrood has now become the centre of political life in Scotland. As a gradualist, George sees opportunities in a hard Brexit for a realisation amongst the Scottish public and political parties that independence in Europe is indeed the next natural step for Scotland. Alan Bissett is a playwright, author and activist who played a leading role in the independence referendum of 2014. During that campaign, Alan made a prediction of events following a No vote that proved uncannily accurate: https://youtu.be/OdgFeQJsNS8 A Tory Govt heading for a hard Brexit Scotland never voted for has created a new situation. Alan considers how this threat is already playing out and the future dangers posed to Scotland by a Tory UK Govt off the EU leash. The stakes have never been higher. The power grab is underway. You can support Phantom Power here: http://www.phantom-power-films.scot/

Twenty one thousand thank yous

The Wee Ginger Fundraiser on Indiegogo has now closed. I sought to raise £10,000 in order to ensure that for another year I can continue full time to write, blog, and give talks about independence all over Scotland. You have surpassed that target by an enormous amount. £12,540 has been donated via the main fundraising page on Indiegogo, and £8,525 has been donated via other routes – Paypal, direct payments into the bank, and cheques. That’s a grand total of £21,065. It’s a fantastic amount. I can’t thank all my readers and supporters enough.

I’m pretty overwhelmed by all the support. It is hugely appreciated. Blogging is by its nature a solitary trade, you sit and type away in your home, and it’s very difficult to guage the impact, if any, that what you write is having. Starting a fundraiser is quite literally asking people to put a monetary value on your creative endeavours, so it’s an emotionally fraught and tense undertaking. When you realise that so many people appreciate and value your work enough that they’re prepared to put their hands in their pockets and support it financially, it’s both humbling and gratifying. When they support you by over twice as much as the maximum that you’d hoped to raise, that’s overwhelming.

Thank you to everyone who has supported this blog. You’ve given a wee ginger dug a very waggy tail, and that tail will continue to wag, and continue to annoy British nationalists, for another year. I realise that not everyone is able to give a donation, but your readership and emotional support is every bit as valuable.

I’m proud that this blog is making its own small contribution to the cause of Scottish independence. It’s three years to the day since the first referendum, and the independence movement remains strong, vital, and full of energy. We’re not going away until we achieve our goal – a better Scotland, a Scotland that walks the path chosen for it by the people of Scotland. A nuclear free Scotland that strives for social justice, equality, and which stands as a beacon of peace and tolerance in this world. Together, we will do this. It’s coming yet for aw that.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot 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 Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
Donate Button

Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com 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.

The Lib Dem refonundrum

The Lib Dems are tying themselves in knots in order to avoid accusations of hypocrisy over their policy of seeking another referendum on the EU but steadfastly refusing to concede another referendum on Scottish independence. It’s hard to understand why they’re so bothered, seeing as how being inconsistent is pretty much the Unique Selling Point of the Lib Dems. The Tories can be relied upon to be incompetently nasty. Labour can be relied upon to devote itself to infighting and just being incompetent. The Lib Dems however are proudly competent, they’re highly competent at saying one thing in opposition and then doing the exact opposition the second that they get a wee snifter of power.

Anyway, it’s not a good look, trying to argue that the UK needs another referendum on the EU on account of the fact that the Leave campaign lied through its teeth, while refusing to allow another independence referendum in Scotland even though the Better Together campaign likewise lied through its teeth. It’s OK to lie through your teeth just as long as the Lib Dems are on board with the lying. It’s only when the Lib Dems are the liees and not the liars that there’s a problem, apparently.

It’s the Lib Dems being the victims of the lying instead of the liars which is the sort of thing that gets Vince all puffed up like one of those hallucinogenic toads, the kind which if you lick gives you crazy and insane visions of impossible and fantastical realities where all sorts of weirdness comes to pass. Although this is very much like what usually transpires at a Lib Dem party conference, come to think of it. Those would be fantasies like the Lib Dems winning enough seats in an election to be able to form a government, or Wullie Rennie being a respected statesman whose every word people cling on to like divine wisdom, or people actually believing that demanding a second referendum on the EU but refusing a second referendum on Scottish independence is really moral and principled and not opportunistic and two-faced at all. Lib Dem conferences are full of people who take this sort of surreal nonsense seriously. Well, I say “full”. It’s easy to be full when your container is so teeny tiny small.

Since he does have some awareness of the reality of the universe outside the otherworldly territory of the Lib Dem conference, Vince Cable has decided to tell the press that he doesn’t want a second EU referendum. There would be no justification for that, according to Vince. It would be terribly hypocritical to insist on a second referendum on the EU while refusing to allow a second referendum on Scottish independence. But Vince still wants another referendum on the EU, and he still doesn’t want another referendum on Scottish independence. Something about this makes the Brexiteers’ favourite phrase “having one’s cake and eating it”, spring to mind. But Vince has a way out of the referendum conundrum, or refonundrum. He wants a another first referendum instead. Having a second referendum but insisting that it’s really another first referendum is completely different, and totally not hypocritical at all. Oh no. Because Vince says so. Totes different. Toads’ eyes bulgingly different. Ribbit.

The second referendum on the EU wouldn’t be a second referendum because it would be a first referendum on the facts, opined Vince in an interview with a BBC reporter who was contractually obliged not to scoff and who didn’t press him further. Pressing British nationalist politicians on the contradictions and sheer utter sanctimonious double-dealing of their stance on preserving the Union isn’t part of the BBC’s remit. Instead Vince was allowed to set out his stall for a second referendum that’s not really a second referendum and to continue in claim that it’s not really a second referendum even though he doesn’t believe that it’s not really a second referendum any more than the BBC reporter or the viewing public do. Any word salad will do, as long as it allows Vince another referendum on the EU but still to refuse another referendum on Scottish independence.

There’s a hallucinogenic toad at the Lib Dem conference that when you lick it takes you into a dream world where Scotland is an equal and valued partner which leads the family of nations that makes up the UK. It’s just a shame that in the real world, all we’ve got is a foul smelling swamp where Scotland’s hopes and dreams are drowned by Brexit loving toads.

A second referendum on Scottish independence would likewise be a first referendum on the fact that everything promised to the people of Scotland by the Better Together campaign in 2014 turned out to be a big fat lie. This sounds remarkably similar to the whole Brexit thing, come to think of it. Scotland was promised a set of things by supporters of the British state, and as soon as they got the No vote that they wanted they delivered the exact opposite. Vince says that the people of the UK deserve a referendum on the kind of Brexit that they’re going to get, which is completely different from the kind of Brexit which they were promised during the EU referendum campaign. Vince doesn’t think that the people of Scotland deserve a referendum on the kind of UK that they’re getting, even though it is completely different from the kind of UK which they were promised during the independence referendum campaign.

Vince Cable and the Lib Dems might have found a form of words which gets Vince through an interview on the BBC and allows him to square the circle of the Lib Dem’s refonundrum, but it’s not going to persuade anyone else. When the Lib Dems stop licking the toad, they’ll see that their party, with its 82,000 members across the entire UK, is smaller than the Scottish independence movement. A recent opinion poll showed that support for independence remains buoyant, and that’s before the independence movement even gets into gear. There’s much more of a prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum than of a second EU referendum. Scotland will still have its say on the EU, just not in the way that Vince Cable wants.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot 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 –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

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 weegingerbook@yahoo.com 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.

Solidarity with Catalonia

Another day, and another day of silence about events in Catalonia from BBC Scotland, the local accounting unit of the UK state broadcaster. You’d almost imagine that no one in Scotland could possibly relate to or be interested in the goings on in a modern European nation which is seeking independence, statehood, and membership of the EU in its own right. Nothing like that has ever happened in Scotland. Oh no. We can have wall to wall fitba, but no news from Catalonia that might be relevant to Scotland’s very own home grown independence campaign.

Catalonia is due to hold an independence referendum on the first of October. It’s only a couple of weeks away, but there has been almost zero interest in the Catalan independence movement from a British nationalist media in Scotland which is desperately trying to forget that there’s an independence movement in Scotland too. Or more precisely, which is desperately hoping that people in Scotland forget that there’s an independence movement in Scotland too. The British nationalist establishment is all to aware of it, terrified of it, and wishing it would go away. For all the false confidence, the braggadocio, the claims that we’ve heard a hundred times before that Scotland has passed peak-nat, the British nationalists know that the next time there’s an independence referendum in Scotland, they’re going to lose it. That’s why they’re so desperate to ensure that one never takes place, and why they’re not keen on reminding Scotland that other stateless nations in Europe are on their own journey to self-determination.

The Spanish version of British nationalists are even more desperate than their red white and blue counterparts to prevent a referendum taking place. The Spanish state paramilitary police, the Guardia Civil – an organisation directly under the control of the Spanish equivalent of the Home Office – have recently raided printers’ offices and newspaper print works in Catalonia seeking to seize freshly printed ballot papers. Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and other members of the Catalan government and pro-independence parties are facing criminal charges for daring to insist that the people of Catalonia have the right to a say on their own future.

On Friday, Madrid unilaterally changed the rules governing the spending of the Catalan government to make it illegal to use Catalan government money to hold the vote and also ordered all police forces, including the Catalan police the Mossos d’Esquadra to take action to prevent the referendum.  If the Catalan police were to be seen to be acting at the behest of Madrid, the result could be inflammatory and lead to civil unrest. On the same day, the Spanish Supreme Court ordered Catalan newspapers not to publish campaign notices for the October 1st referendum. The offices of the Spanish State Prosecutor have called in over 700 pro-independence mayors for questioning amidst warnings that assisting with the preparation of the vote could lead to criminal charges of civil disobedience, misuse of public funds, and abuse of public office.

The Guardia Civil isn’t just any old police force. It’s a paramilitary organisation which was the main organ of state repression during the Franco dictatorship. Memories of dictatorship remain strong in Spain, well within living memory. During the height of Franco’s cruel rule, the public use of the Catalan language was banned, along with Basque and Galician. Catalan and Basque speakers were not even allowed to have their own names on their official ID papers. If you were a Catalan speaker called Pau, your government ID card would identify you as Pablo. Only the Spanish versions of personal names were permitted. In rural communities, the Guardia Civil would knock on your door on a Monday to ask why you hadn’t been to Mass on the Sunday. People in traditionally Catalan or Basque speaking districts were hauled off into years of detention for the “crime” of not speaking Spanish very well.

After the end of the dictatorship in Spain, there was no equivalent of the denazification process in Germany which followed the fall of Hitler’s regime. Spain’s old fascists, responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and the torture and illegal detention of many thousands more, simply went on with life as though nothing had happened. After the death of Franco in 1975, the price that Spain paid for avoiding another civil war and for the restoration of democracy was silence on the crimes of the Francoists.

Another price that was paid was the inclusion of a Francoist slogan España una e indivisible ‘Spain, one and indivisible’, in the new democratic constitution. Including this slogan in the new constitution was one of the prices exacted by Franco’s generals for returning to the barracks and allowing freedom of political expression.  The adoption of this clause led to a widespread boycott in the Basque Country of the referendum in 1981 to adopt the new constitution. The prospect of an independent Basque Country and Catalonia had been one of the sparks that set off the Civil War of 1936 to ’39, and the generals and their allies were determined that the newly democratic Spain was not going to extend full democratic rights to those within the Spanish state who didn’t feel Spanish at all.

The anti-democratic forces of the Spanish right, the fascists, the falangists, and the Francoists, didn’t vanish when Spain returned to democracy. They re-organised. They adopted the veneer of democracy.  Today their main political vehicle is the Partido Popular, the party of Mariano Rajoy which is doing its utmost to prevent Catalonia from holding its referendum, citing the clause in the Constitution that was put there by Franco’s old army pals. The Madrid government which is seeking to block the referendum in Catalonia is the heir to Franco.

Catalonia deserves solidarity from Scotland, and not just from those of us who support Scottish independence. All of us in Scotland, on both sides of our constitutional debate, accept and recognise that the people of Scotland have the democratic right to decide their own future, that it’s for Scotland, and Scotland alone, to decide whether it remains a part of the United Kingdom or it becomes an independent state. It’s a question of democracy. In Spain, we’re now seeing a supposedly democratic European country employ force and threats of force in order to prevent its citizens from exercising what ought to be a basic democratic right, the right to self-determination. The government in Madrid is so afraid of the voice of the people that it seeks to gag them. When you gag the people, democracy is dead.

Sadly it’s not just the British nationalist media in Scotland which has been silent on Catalonia. The Scottish Government hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory in a defence of the right of Catalonia to self-determination. Holyrood, and the Scottish Government, should speak out in support of the right of Catalonia to hold its referendum, and for the right of the people of Catalonia to decide their own future. If Scotland can’t support other nations which seek to determine their own future, we will not be able to expect support from other nations when we seek to determine ours.

Update: Almost as I hit the publish button for this blog article, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop released a statement from the Scottish Government supporting the right of Catalonia to self-determination.  You can read the statement here. https://news.gov.scot/news/statement-on-catalonia


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot 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 –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

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 weegingerbook@yahoo.com 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.

No go for the Tories

Oh my god. I can’t get home. Apparently I live in a Scottish city’s no-go area. Everyone who lives in my working class district in the East End of Glasgow, predominantly consisting of social housing, is cowering in terror in the Forge Shopping Centre in Parkhead. Only Parkhead is a no-go area too and Greggs is about to run out of sausage rolls. Someone is hoarding bridies, and the shop shelves are being emptied of yum yums. Will the horrors never end? It’s far too terrifying to set foot in Easterhoose, in case someone glances in your direction as you pass them on the pavement and says, “The nights are fair drawin in eh.” The darkness. The darkness. It’s enough to make you wake up in the night covered in sweat from the fear. If you could get home to sleep in your own bed that is, which you can’t because it’s in a no-go area.

Tory MSP and local government spokesperson Graham Simpson clearly needs to get out more. According to the genteel Mr Simpson, Scotland’s cities are peppered with “no-go” areas. In a debate in Holyrood this week on housing, the man from the party that has axed entitlement to housing benefit, ended lifelong social housing lets in England, presided over a property bubble that has put home ownership out of the reach of hundreds of thousands, and is forcing housing associations in England to sell of their stock, blamed Labour and the SNP for the housing crisis saying, “That we have in our great cities sink estates, no-go areas and people sleeping rough should be a source of shame for the SNP and Labour.”

Ah Tories. Don’t you just love the way in which they shamelessly blame everyone else for the problems that they’ve done more to create than anyone? And don’t you just love the way in which they demonise, insult, and besmirch working class people in Scotland’s cities. There’s the real voice of the Scottish Conservatives there, a wee net curtain twitcher with pursed lips in a douce wee toon or suburb, whose entire experience of working class areas comes from outraged and outrageous columnists in the Daily Mail.

It’s not like we don’t have Tories in places like Barlanark, Easterhouse or Shettleston. They do exist, and can be easily identified because they’re the ones in cheap polyester paramilitary uniforms marching behind a big drum to the accompaniment of tunes about killing Catholics. They’re not the kind of people that the douce wee purse lippers want to associate with, certainly they’d not invite them for tea and scones in the village café, but they’re quite happy that the sectarian poison is being inflicted on working class areas if it means that the better off can preserve their prejudices, privileges and preference.

Because of the Scottish Parliament, Scotland has protected itself from some of the worst aspects of the housing crisis that blights the UK. Scotland has abolished the right to buy, meaning that there is still a stock of decent social housing in this country. It is still difficult to get into social housing, but it’s easier in Scotland than it is in some parts of England. The Scottish Parliament has mitigated the evil bedroom tax introduced by the Tories, but only at the expense of making cuts elsewhere in the Scottish budget. There is a limit to what Scotland can do when the main levers of control are elsewhere.

A few decades ago, it was a rare sight to see homeless people begging on the streets of our large cities, and when you did see them they tended to be older men who were clearly strugging with problems of alcohol abuse. Now you see homeless people by the hundreds, young, old, male, female. Homelessness charities estimate that there are up to 5000 people who sleep rough on the streets of Scotland’s towns and cities. It’s a national disgrace.

Homeless people are individuals. They’re human beings just like the rest of us. Human beings who through tragic circumstances, an uncaring benefits system, or sheer bad luck have ended up without a roof over their heads. There but for the grace of the gods could go any one of us. Some seemingly have mental health issues. Some seemingly have decided that the only way to get through their horrible days and even worse nights is to self-medicate on alcohol or drugs. Those of us who are lucky enough to have a safe and warm home have no right to judge or condemn them for that, not until we’re prepared to walk mile after mile in their leaky shoes with no prospect of a warm and dry bed at the end of the trudge in the rain. Drug and alcohol abuse are all too often sane responses to insane circumstances. It’s the Tories above all who are responsible for creating those insane circumstances, and then they preach about no-go areas and blame everyone else for the social problems they’ve manufactured out of their own greed, selfishness, and avarice.

There are thousands of rough sleepers, but there are thousands more hidden homeless, people who couch-surf or who rely on assistance from family or friends. This kind of homelessness is far more common, and often doesn’t come to the attention of homeless charities or local authorities until the homeless person’s informal arrangements break down.

There are many reasons for homelessness, but the largest single cause in recent years is the changes that have been made by the Conservative government in Westminster to the housing benefits system. Housing benefit now only pays “eligible rent”, which is the amount that the Westminster government deems to be reasonable for your area. The benefits cap limits the total amount that a claimant can receive. If you are single, under the age of 35, and rent privately, you’ll only be entitled to the cost of a single room in a shared house. If you are under the age of 22, you might not be eligible for any help with your housing costs at all. Combined with the rise in low wages and the so-call gig economy with the precarious and uncertain income it provides, hundreds of thousands more people across the UK now struggle to put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. The fault for this lies squarely with the Conservative government and a Labour government before it which was equally happy to treat housing as an investment opportunity and not as a human right.

Every homeless person on the streets of Scotland is a testament to the failure, greed, and malign meanness of the Tories. Yes, certainly, the Scottish Parliament could do more, but all it can do is to mitigate the damage caused by Westminster policies. The best way to deal with the housing crisis is to make the whole of Scotland a no-go area for Conservatives.


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot 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 –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

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 weegingerbook@yahoo.com 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.

Beyond the cringe

There’s a lot of talk about the Scottish Cringe, but the real Cringe making country is the British one. But that was a long time ago. Some of us long for the days when the British state was merely cringe-makingly embarrassing. Those days are now but a distant speck in the rear view mirror. Seat shuffling head in your hands is long gone. We’ve left the days of squirming mortification far behind, and now we’re deep into industrial strength tranquillisers, screaming night terrors, and repressed memory therapy territory. It has been said that the rate at which maturity arrives is directly proportional to the embarrassment that a person or institution can tolerate, which must make members of the British political establishment have an average age of 65 million years. The same as dinosaurs. That explains a lot.

British politics these days makes Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now seem like the cheery chortling host of It’s A Knockout before we discovered he was a serial sex abuser. And there’s another British embarrassment right there. In Britain even children’s entertainment is as dark and threatening as the scary clown in It. However we can’t take part in Jeux Sans Frontières because of Brexit, although it would provide a certain emotional satisfaction to force Nigel Farage to dress in a penguin costume and then make him get on a revolving platform covered in oil and try to fill a bucket with fish quotas, not to mention seeing him being chased down a sewer by the clown from It. It would also be the closest thing he’d ever managed to contributing to the happiness of the nation.

Britain’s problems, whether it’s the appalling abuse committed by popular BBC entertainers, the banking crisis, Hillsborough, the shocking lack of care that led to the Grenfell tragedy and the woeful response from the Conservative local authority when it did, or this week’s Pontius Pilate hand wringing from the Foreign Office that foreign aid rules don’t allow them assist the British Caribbean territories devastated by Hurricane Irma all stem from a wilful refusal of those in charge to accept responsibility while they accept their inflated pay cheques. It goes right to the very top.

We’re led by a Prime Minister who recently took the country into a highly personalised General Election explictly in order to seek a personal mandate for herself. She failed to get it. She lost her party’s majority, yet she’s continuing as though absolutely nothing has happened. It cost the country £140 million, and then in order to get out of a difficulty that she herself had created, Theresa went and threw £1.5 billion at the quasi-fascist drum bashers of the DUP. They can’t find the money to give people decent houses that aren’t firetraps.

The Tories claim that Brexit is all about restoring the sovereignty of the Westminster Parliament, yet they’ve introduced one measure after another to reduce the ability of Parliament to hold the government of the day to account. We’re getting Henry VIII powers, the packing of committees to ensure a Conservative majority, and changes to Opposition Day debates to ensure that they have no statutary effect. Parliament can now vote for a particular action, and the government can ignore it. Then politicians wring their hands and wonder why people are disaffected and either don’t vote or are turning to alternatives to mainstream politics.

It’s called Prime Minister’s Questions because it isn’t Prime Minister’s Answers. There is no compunction on politicians in the Westminster Parliament to answer the questions that are put to them. PMQ’s is a weekly exercise in point-scoring, smugness, evasion, and lame jokes that fall as flat as a cardboard cutout of Michael Gove. It’s the closest he’s likely to get to being a fully rounded human being. There’s no rule in the House of Commons that compels the Prime Minister to answer the question that is put to her, and yet this is only opportunity to hold a Prime Minister to account in a system without a written constitution. Theresa now wants to take even greater power for herself. Democracy in the UK is increasingly a hard hearted charade led by thugs who call themselves gentlemen and women. In Britain you can excuse an inhuman lack of compassion, you can excuse reducing every human interaction to a financial exchange, you can excuse a cold and flinty disdain for homelessness and deprivation, just as long as you say please and thank you and know how to use a knife and fork correctly.

There was a robot on the telly news the other day, conducting an orchestra. That robot took greater responsibility for its own actions than our government does. It also managed to have more sensitivity and grasp of emotional nuance than Theresa May. Although it was a real achievement to program a robot to conduct an orchestra, it doesn’t take much in the way of computational power to have more emotional literacy than Theresa May. A vacuum cleaner has more humanity, and it manages to get your floors clean with its monotone drone, which is a lot more than you can say for Theresa’s.

The UK is a country where the only technological innovator who is celebrated is the Brexit supporting guy who invented the Dyson. It’s because Britain sucks. James Dyson is the billionaire patriot who moved his manufacturing to Malaysia where the minimum wage is £180 a month. He thinks that the UK will leave the EU without a deal, and that will hurt the EU more than the UK. We can be sure it won’t hurt the squillionaire James that much. It’s always only the little people in Britain who suffer the consequences. James will continue to hoover up a very comfortable income. He might lose the millions that he vacuums up in EU agricultural subsidies, but you can be sure that post-Brexit Britain will continue to look after the interests of the rich. The Tories aren’t taking us out of the EU in order to make life better for the poorest.

It’s because Britain is so inept, so cruel, so clueless, so incompetent and graceless that British nationalists have to manufacture the Scottish cringe. They’re projecting their own inadequacies onto Scotland. Look beyond the Cringe and you see that the real Cringe is the British one. The movement for Scottish independence is motivated by the radical idea that Scotland is a normal and perfectly adequate country. The UK could never aspire to that. The dysfunctional proof is before our eyes.

 


weegingerdug.scot

The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot 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 –

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/wee-ginger-crowdfunder-independent-blog

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 weegingerbook@yahoo.com 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.