Brexit fantasy politics

The British government has after all done an impact assessment of the effects of various Brexit scenarios on the UK economy. It’s just that they don’t want anyone else to see it because there is no universe in which Brexit is a good thing. Not even that Mirror Universe in Star Trek where everyone is the evil twin of their character in this universe, which must mean that Mirror Universe Jacob Rees-Mogg has somehow crossed into our reality. Although to be fair that probably also applies to every other member of the Conservative cabinet who isn’t actually a lizard alien. Except Fluffy Mundell, who comes from a parallel universe in which everyone is a stuffed toy.

According to the study which was leaked to Buzzfeed, there is no such thing as a good Brexit. The British government is like an unfit and overweight late middle aged man with a bad back who is about to go ten rounds with the world heavy weight boxing champion and who is telling us that he’s going to get the best possible outcome. Which in this instance would be to come out of the process with two black eyes, incipient brain damage, at least one remaining tooth and a jaw that’s broken in only three places. That’s punching above your weight for you.

Back in the real world, under every scenario, under every set of circumstances, Brexit damages the British economy. The softest possible Brexit in which the UK remains a part of the EU Single Market and the Customs Union causes the least amount of harm, but it still causes harm. Under this scenario growth in the UK economy would be down by 2%. Theresa May’s favoured solution in which the UK negotiates a bespoke deal with the EU causes more harm, growth would be down by 5%. And if the UK leaves the EU with no deal at all, then growth would be down by 8%. Since UK economic growth is currently only around 0.5%, even the softest possible Brexit is still going to see the economy shrink, which means job losses, increasing poverty and deprivation, blighted lives, and destroyed opportunities. All this is before we even start to consider the political impact of Brexit, which will be measured in the destruction of the devolution settlement, the stripping away of employment and consumer rights, and isolation in a xenophobic fleg waving state that has to suck up to Donald Trump. But Jacob will still have his listed Georgian mansion and his British pride, so that makes it all OK.

The economic figures in the British government study are not dissimilar to the figures produced by the Scottish government a couple of weeks ago detailing the damage that Brexit would do to the Scottish economy. At the time, the Conservatives accused the Scottish governnment of ridiculous scaremongering, all the while knowing that their own figures were showing the exact same outcome. Someone ought to ask Ruth and Fluffy about that, only they probably won’t because the someone in this instance is a Scottish media which isn’t inclined to ask hard questions of Ruth and her pals. Ruth will reply to the question with a statement saying, “Scotland doesn’t want another divisive independence referendum,” and most of the Scottish media will nod in agreement.

Now the more swivel eyed amongst the Conservatives, which to be honest is most of them, are trying to downplay the UK government study by claiming that all government forecasts are wrong so this one doesn’t really matter. Iain Duncan Smith said, “I would observe that almost every single forecast coming from Government, and most of the international organisations, has been completely wrong. We should take this with a pinch of salt.” We will bear that in mind during the next Scottish independence referendum when Iain and his fellow Brexiteers make dire forecasts about the economic ruin that independence will bring about. That’s a quote which is going to come back to haunt them.

The SNP, Labour, the Lib Dems, and some pro-remain Conservatives have called on the British government to release the document officially. The government claims that it’s not in the national interests to do so. Apparently it damages the national interest for us to find out just how much the government is damaging the national interest. Iain Duncan Smith thinks that we should ignore the report because it was deliberately leaked as it showed that Brexit is a bad thing. We should only pay attention to reports that Iain likes, like the one that says that Brexit will deliver a Union fleg bedecked unicorn to every household in the land and the one that says that you can still have your Brexit cake after you’ve eaten it. Iain and his friends think that Britain can have fantastic economic growth and a secure and strong future by trusting in Donald Trump to give us a great deal. Iain is equally confident that you can get a PhD in social care policy by relying on a two year old with attention deficit disorder as your main source of information. A two year old goat, that is. At least that’s who seems to have written his plans to rewrite the benefits system.

But never mind. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has a solution. Gavin wants us to pull down all EU symbols immediately and fly Union flegs everywhere to restore British pride, because he’s not a nationalist at all. And it helps to get him a wee headline that distracts attention from his on-going difficulties about allegations of inappropriate behaviour with a junior female colleague which led to his resignation from his post as a manager in a fireplace manufacturer in 2004. Calling Gavin publicity hungry is a bit like describing a plague of locusts as slightly peckish.

The British government doesn’t want us to worry too much about the report that the British government is so worried about that it won’t publish it. The report doesn’t include details of the super dooper special deal that Theresa is going to negotiate on our behalf with the EU, so that’s OK then. That would be the super dooper special deal that the EU has been saying since day one of the Brexit negotiations that Britain isn’t going to get.

Brexit is fantasy politics being played out by politicians who are determined to use it to further their own ideologically driven destruction of the welfare state and public services. The Tory right don’t want Brexit challenged because they’re using it to mount a coup. Labour are trying to be all things to all people on Brexit because deep down, Jeremy Corbyn wants out of the EU in order to pursue his own fantasy politics all the while depending on the votes of people who want to remain in the EU. Morally, ethically, economically, Scotland needs to get out of this mess. Westminster has lost all touch with reality.


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.

Jaffa cake nationalism

There was a truly vile front page headline in Sunday’s Express newspaper. “NEW FEARS OF MIGRANT VIOLENCE” screamed the rag in huge lettering. It’s pretty damn close to an incitement to racial hatred. Most people don’t read further than the headline, certainly not in a busy supermarket where all that could be clearly read without buying the paper and giving money to a morally reprehensible Express.  All they’re going to see is a headline which screams that migrants are going to get violent.

The story itself was about the recent agreement between Theresa May and the French President Emmanuel Macron about the refugee camp in Calais. The British and French governments have agreed to speed up the processing of migrants who qualify for asylum and to speed up the deportation of those who don’t. It is expected that the number who will qualify for asylum and will be allowed into the UK will be small. The rest are at risk of being sent back to their home countries by the authorities in France, with the complicity of the British authorities.

Despite the usual media depiction of those who seek to come to the UK as economic migrants, most of those who eke out a thoroughly miserable living in the camp are refugees from war-torn and violent parts of the world, fleeing repressive dictatorships, unstable regimes and terrorism, or outright war. They are people living desperate lives, driven to the margins, yet the British government has no sympathy or compassion for their plight, an attitude which is reinforced and validated by the cruel and nasty tone of the right wing British press.  The Express screams about supposed migrant violence while ignoring the very real violence that has been done to migrants and to their countries.

This is the very same press which last week howled in outrage at a supposed slight to the British fleg and the British monarchy by the Scottish Government. It is a fact that the Scottish Government didn’t change its policy regarding the flying of the Union flag from government buildings. It is a fact that the great majority of migrants existing in the misery of the Calais camp are fleeing from violent and repressive countries, countries which are all too often violent and repressive because Britain has been selling their governments arms.

So what we have is a right wing British press which glorifies a flag and a monarchy, which demonises vulnerable minority groups, and which is none too concerned about the actual facts as it rushes to blame, to divide, and to foster hatred. We have a British Government and ruling party which colludes with that press, which supports it and feeds it stories, which is strengthened and empowered by its lies and by the division that it foments. All that is straight out of the blood and soil nationalism playbook.

I’ve blogged about this before, but it’s worth repeating. As supporters of Scottish independence we should not unwittingly collude with opponents of independence and allow them to frame the terms of the debate. Opponents of independence want to talk about Unionists and nationalists. Opponents of independence want to pretend that the Scottish constitutional debate is a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism and that to be a Unionist means that they get a free pass from the evils of nationalism. It isn’t and they don’t.

The Tories, with their red white and blue fetish, their obsession with the monarchy, their demonisation of the marginalised and the migrants, their hard Brexit and their nostalgia for an Empire that’s long gone, are nationalists from their core to their fingertips. They are right wing nationalists. They are divisive, inward-looking, reactionary. Their Brexit project is a fundamentally nationalist project. You cannot support or defend Brexit and claim that you’re not a nationalist. That means that the Labour party is every bit as nationalist as the Scottish National Party that Labour affects to be superior to by virtue of Labour’s supposed non-nationalism. Labour claims to believe in the solidarity of working people, but Labour’s solidarity stops at the English Channel and the Irish border.

The debate in Scotland is not a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism, this is a debate between two different visions of the future of Scotland. If one side of this debate must be characterised as Scottish nationalist, then the other side of the debate must be characterised as British nationalist. And it’s British nationalism which is far more likely to indulge itself in divisiveness, in fomenting and fostering the demonisation of minorities and marginalised groups. It’s British nationalism which obsesses about flags. It’s British nationalism which gets angry about perceived slights to the monarchy. It’s British nationalism which is far more prone to preaching a doctrine of exceptionalism. British nationalism sees itself as being such an exceptional nationalism that one of its core myths is that it’s not nationalist at all. I’m sick to the back teeth of opponents of independence who drap themselves in Union flags and then claim that they’re not nationalists.

In Scotland, that doctrine of divisive British nationalist exceptionalism turns especially toxic. Ask yourself. Who in Scotland is obsessed with the Union flag and the monarchy? Who in Scotland has traditionally railed against migrant communities and preached the politics of hatred and exclusion? That’s the gallery that the Scottish Conservatives are playing to. British nationalism in Scotland is Jaffa cake nationalism. It has an orangey bit in the middle. The difference between Scottish nationalism and British nationalism is the difference between apples and oranges. There’s no such thing as an apple bigot.

The Scottish Conservatives know all this too. They seek to defend the UK by pandering to bigotry, by demonising and fostering hatred against migrants and the poor, by winking knowingly at sectarianism, and by accusing their opponents of their own sins. All this comes in the very week that the Tories along with Labour sought to win a cheap point against the SNP by giving a nod to bigoted chants and sectarian singing at football matches.

Calling opponents of independence “Unionists” means that we are agreeing with their myth that Scotland is a partner in a Union, when the reality is that Scotland has been incorporated into a unitary state with exceptionally strong centralising tendencies where Scotland is a permanent minority, marginalised and ignored. Calling British nationalists “Unionists” means that they can continue to hide their nationalism from themselves and from the rest of us, sheltering their nationalism behind weasel words and lies. The only non-nationalist options in the Scottish constitutional debate are not caring whether Scotland is indepenendent or a part of the UK, or to campaign actively for the abolition of all states and to seek one-world government or world communism. If you actively oppose Scottish independence, if you campaign for the British state, you are a British nationalist.

British nationalists might like to pretend that they’re not really nationalists, but those of us who campaign for Scottish independence shouldn’t let them get away with it.


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.

Going on the offensive against the offensive

The Daily Mail has today published an apology for its front page screech that Nicola Sturgeon was personally going about the country and ripping Union flegs out of the hands of poor wee sowels whose only crime is to oppose independence, because she hates the English. Or something like that. We’re still waiting for apologies from The Telegraph and The Express, which also indulged themselves in the attempt to strangle Thatessempee with the fleg. What we can sure of, is that when or if those apologies come, just like the apology in The Daily HateMail they’ll be buried somewhere inside the newspaper and won’t receive anything like the same prominence as the original lie itself. All those people who were outraged and angered by the false news plastered all over the front pages will remain outraged and angered.

I’m looking forward to seeing the BBC hunt down Murdo Fraser and the other Conservative politicians to whom it gave airtime in order to spout how angry they were about a story that turned out to be a fake news story that was propagated by their own party, and holding them to account for it and giving their retractions equal prominence with their allegations. It’s maybe just as well I have no plans to go holding my breath. Yet there is a real story here, a story about an anti-independence party which governs the UK, a party which in the very week released a blatantly false story which fits every definition of fake news, also announced a new initiative to help prevent fake news. It’s reasonable to ask exactly how a party which is happy to indulge in the promotion of fake news is in any position to protect the public from fake news. It must only be fake news that the British nationalist parties don’t like that counts as fake news.

The British nationalist media in Scotland haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory this week. You might think that when a political party publishes a press release accusing another political party of something, that it’s basic journalistic practice to contact the party which is being accused to ask them for a comment, to ask them whether there is any truth in the allegations. The British nationalist media in Scotland is so eager to publish SNPbad stories that they don’t always do that. If this story about the supposed policy change by Nicola Sturgeon to prevent Union flags flying from Scottish government buildings was the only instance of the British nationalist press in Scotland not bothering to check their facts before rushing into print, a simple apology might be enough to overlook the matter and to put it behind us. But this isn’t an isolated instance.

There’s a definite pattern to SNPbad stories in the British media in Scotland. The same papers which didn’t bother to check the veracity of the flag story didn’t bother to check the truth of the story in 2015 about Nicola Sturgeon supposedly wanting a Conservative government. They just printed the story and to hell with the consequences. The same papers which are eager to contrast the performance of the Scottish government in running some public service with the equivalent public services elsewhere in the UK when Scotland is performing more poorly than elsewhere in the UK are strangely silent about performance measures elsewhere in the UK when they attack the Scottish government for perceived failures in a public service even though Scotland is performing better than elsewhere in the UK. The default assumption of the British media in Scotland is that if there’s a story then there must be an anti-SNP and anti-independence angle to it, and if they’re given a story by the British nationalist parties which attacks independence and the SNP, then they’re going to run with it irrespective of the truth.

David Mundell isn’t for apologising though. His cheerleaders in the Daily Mail have apologised, but David is still banging on about flags and demanding that the SNP stop banging on about flags. There isn’t a hole in Scotland that David won’t stop digging for himself. It’s not like he’s got a great deal else to do. This is what passes for a day job for David Mundell. His day job is to distract attention from the fact that his party is disrespecting the results of the 2014 and 1997 referendums by undermining the principles of the devolution settlement. Anyway, it’s unreasonable to expect an apology from David Mundell because that would imply that he has some functioning self-awareness, but the only reason he can continue in his post is because he makes Murdo Fraser seem like a beacon of reason and common sense.

Here’s hoping that the Scottish government is learning the lesson that the rest of us have known for too long. The media in Scotland is overwhelmingly biased against independence and it’s not a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory to point that out. It’s a simple objective fact. Only two newspapers in Scotland support independence, even though that’s a constitutional view shared by half the population. The vast majority of the press, and the broadcasters which take their news agenda from the anti-indy press, is determined to do all it can to paint independence in a negative light, and its default instinct is to run with any story that is bad for independence or the SNP even if that story turns out not to be true.

It’s good that the Scottish Government went on the offensive with this piece of British nationalist fake news. For too long the SNP leadership has played softball with a media which does not have the slightest intention of playing fair with them. Being conciliatory with the media only encourages them in their reprehensible behaviour. They know that there are no consequences. It’s time to get loud. It’s time to go on the offensive against the offensive.

This isn’t about intimidating or silencing the media. Quite the reverse. It’s about ensuring that they do their job properly. Maybe the next time they get a press release from the press office of a British nationalist party accusing the SNP or the Scottish government of something, they will check the facts before rushing into print, and won’t just take the Tories’ or Labour’s or the Lib Dems’ word for it. It’s not just Thatessempee which needs to be held to account. But as the old saying goes, one swallow does not a summer make, and it’s going to take persistence and consistency in strong responses from the SNP in order to stop the right wing press in Scotland swallowing Tory press releases without chewing them over first.


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.

Getting Union fleg knickers in a twist

I thought it was only spittle flecked nationalists who were supposed to care about things like flags? After all, that’s what our British nationalism-isn’t-nationalist-at-all friends are always telling us. Not caring about nationalist symbols like flags is one of the many things that they claim makes them morally superior to lesser breeds like Caledonian separatist types. Only nationalists invest pieces of cloth with a mystic style symbolic resonance. Supporters of the British state, not being nationalist at all, oh no, like to portray themselves as being as high above that sort of thing as a flag flying high on a flag pole. So it’s strange then that this week they’ve got themselves all worked up into a spittle flecked paroxysm over a flag. Some of them have been particularly keen to let us know that their opinion and outrage is especially valid because they’re one quarter Scottish. Then they tweet their opinion with the hashtag #dontbitethehandthatfeedsyou and wonder why other people who are at least one quarter Scottish get pissed off with them.

It’s a terrible thing that Scottish people and institutions might want to fly a Scottish flag instead of a British Union fleg. That’s because Saltires are a symbol of nationalism but Union flegs aren’t, because not being a nationalist is what makes a Daily Mail journalist a better human being than you are, vile separatist with your evil plans to tackle child poverty and fund the NHS properly. It’s also because Saltires are, as anyone who reads the Scottish Daily Mail knows, made from bedsheets that Thattessempee has cruelly ripped from underneath little kiddies lying seriously ill in wards in Scottish children’s hospitals where Nicola Sturgeon insists that Braveheart is played on a continuous loop on the ward telly. Every time a Saltire flies, a little piece of the soul of a right wing British nationalist journalist dies. This is a quite remarkable revelation, because most of us never realised that any of them had a soul to begin with.

It’s outrageous then, at least if you’re a right wing British nationalist journalist, that the Scottish government has embarked upon a nefarious plan to eradicate Union flegs from Scotland and replace them with a nationalist symbol. The fleg of people whose nationalism is better than other people’s nationalism by virtue of not being nationalist at all is under threat from Thattessempee, and soon the only non-nationalist national fleg on the planet will be completely extinguished. Well, at least it will be extinguished everywhere in Scotland except on UK driving licences, telly programmes with Great British in their title, military parades, the packaging on Scottish produce in supermarkets, Rangers matches, Rangers pubs, Orange walks, fascist rallies, Conservative conferences, plastered all over the side of Edinburgh castle during the Tattoo, the social media avatars of people who don’t want independence because they hate nationalism except British nationalism because British nationalism is not nationalist at all, the underpants of journalists who write for the Daily Express, suits worn by anti-independence Labour MPs who claim they’re doing it ironically, socks worn by Scottish Conservative MPs who’re definitely not doing it ironically, and flying from flegpoles in the gardens of private individuals who donate to Scotland in Union and who want to wind up their independence supporting neighbours. But apart from that, completely extinguished.

What’s getting the Union jack underwear of the British nationalist press in Scotland in a twist is the supposed news that Thattessempee has changed its policy about what flags should be flown from government buildings in Scotland on royal occasions. Nicola Sturgeon must resign / apologise / be sent to the Tower. Scotland is being purged of Union flegs, and as anyone who reads the Daily Mail knows, that’s just a short step from people who don’t vote for Thattessempee being rounded up and put in interment camps, because that’s what nationalists are like. British nationalism might be imposing itself on Scotland and deciding that Scotland’s future is a Brexit future even though most people in Scotland oppose that, but it’s always British nationalists who are the victims. Because they’re not nationalist at all.

Alex Salmond, or to use his correct title, Thattalicsammin, published a statement on Wednesday saying that he’d changed the policy on flag flying on royal occasions back in 2010 after consulting with the Queen in 2009 at Balmoral. Liz was cool with the idea. She was quite happy for the Lion Rampant to be flown from Scottish government buildings on royal occasions instead. The Lion Rampant is after all the standard of the monarchy in Scotland. Despite the fact that Liz herself was fine with the Lion Rampant being flown instead of the Union fleg, there’s not much sign of her being lambasted in the British nationalist press as an evil supporter of vile separatists. Funny that. The only thing that has changed is that guidance to civil servants has been updated to reflect the actual practice of the past eight years.

The truth is that the policy actually changed almost eight years ago, and Conservative MSPs and their pals in the press have only just noticed. Never mind the facts, but – to use the phrase beloved of the BBC – critics say it’s a whole lot easier to blame Nicola Sturgeon for things and to whip up something to feel aggrieved about than it is to admit that you’re terribly slow on the uptake or to acknowledge that the thing that you claim is about to destroy a British identity in Scotland has actually been going on for almost eight years and we’re still having British symbols rammed down our throats on a daily basis. It’s a lot easier to blame Thattessempee and create some faux outrage than it is to admit that you care so much about your precious fleg that it’s taken you eight years to notice that it no longer flies from government buildings on royal occasions.

Anyway, isn’t grievance mongering and seeking victim status supposed to be something else that only vile nationalists engage in? Hmm. Remind us now, just who here is getting really upset about flags, claiming victimhood, and inventing things to be angry and upset about?


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.

How propaganda works

Over the weekend, as much of Scotland was covered in ice and snow, those of us who are dog owners still had to struggle out and slide about on the ice-rink that pavements and side-streets had been turned into. Not that I’m really complaining, the Spanish born dug loves snow. It seems to hold all sorts of interesting smells for him. It takes about twice as long to do the usual walk as it normally does, and not because you have to carefully and slowly pick your way across the icescape. It’s because the dug is insistent that every patch of suspiciously coloured snow, and a lot of patches that aren’t, has to be sniffed, licked, and pushed about with his muzzle. It must be a dug thing.

The other day, the walk that was taking longer than usual took even longer than usual because I got waylaid by a guy who lives around the corner who is always keen to share his opinions about Thattessempee with the world. You always know that it’s going to be a negative opinion, because anyone who habitually prefixes the names of the SNP, or Nicola Sturgeon, or any other prominent independence supporting politician, with “that”, is using the demonstrative pronoun with an implied sweary word between the ‘that’ and the name.

Like a lot of people who are British nationalists because British nationalism isn’t nationalist at all, he is quite convinced that his negative view of Scottish independence in general and the Scottish government in particular must be shared by everyone, and he has not the slightest hesitation in broadcasting them to each and every passer by. The possibility that any of the passers-by might be of a different opinion has clearly never occurred to him. After all, it’s not like Scotland is chock full of independence supporting newspapers or Reporting Scotland is always banging on about how Scotland would do so much better as an independent country. If a particular point of view is consistently sidelined and is largely invisible in the media, people who hold the point of view that does monopolise most of the column inches and the airtime are going to conclude that theirs is the voice of reason and common sense that is shared by all sensible thinking people. Why shouldn’t they feel confident about sharing it with a random passer-by.

So there I was, slipping about while the dug lunged off at some other extremely interesting patch of snow, when the neighbour, who had been clearing the snow from his car, shouted out. “Here!” he said excitedly, “Did you know that that Humza Yousaf has got his street gritted! Outrageous, so it is. That transport minister can get his own street gritted but we cannae get ours done.”

Now I don’t know about you, but personally I’ve never been of the opinion that it’s outrageous that streets should be gritted after it’s been snowing. On the face of it, you’d think that it might be far more worthy of outrage if streets hadn’t been gritted. And that’s really what was exercising the neighbour. We live in sidestreets. This isn’t a bus route. It’s not a main road. They are not streets which lead anywhere, and Glasgow council didn’t grit them, preferring to concentrate on main roads, bus routes, and roads leading to train stations.

What the neighbour was so annoyed about was that Thathumzayousaf had had his street gritted, but the neighbour’s own street hadn’t been gritted. He was certain that the council had gritted Thathumzayousaf’s street and driveway in an instance of microcorruption, that it was Thatessempee doing a backhand favour for one of its own. Humza Yousaf’s street had been gritted but his hadn’t. It gave him something to feel victimised about. He was convinced that I was going to share his sense of victimhood and outrage.

The immediate source of the neighbour’s ire was a short passage in a report in The Sun about people being stuck on the M74 in the recent blizzard. At the very end, the report including a snide wee paragraph which mentioned that streets in Clarkston, where Humza Yousaf lives, had been gritted. Humza Yousaf can get home, the report sniffed, but travellers on the M74 can’t. The report didn’t actually say that the very street where Humza Yousaf lives had been gritted but that’s the way my neighbour chose to interpret it. Neither did it matter to the neighbout that road gritting is the responsibility of the local council and that Clarkston is in East Renfewshire. The gritting policies of SNP controlled Glasgow council have absolutely nothing to do with what happens in Clarkston. None of this mattered to the neighbour. Neither did it matter to him that a nearby street which remained ungritted just like his own is where an SNP MSP lives. All that was important was that he had a grievance and that grievance was validated by what he’d read in the press. In his eyes an SNP politician had got something that he hadn’t. Thatessempee ate my hamster.

Back in the real world, it’s hardly surprising that main roads in major urban areas get gritted before roads which are deep in rural areas. Urban areas are where most of the gritting lorries are based. They’re where most people live. If main roads in urban areas are left ungritted and the council instead concentrated on gritting rural roads, there would be even more of an outrage in the press. However the Sun’s wee dig about roads in Clarkston where Thathumzayousaf lives being gritted before roads that cross hills and mountains far from urban settlements was purely about stoking resentment in those who are looking for something to feel resentful about. It succeeded.

That’s how propaganda works. It doesn’t always have to lie. It is just sometimes selective in what information it tells you. It was no lie that streets in Clarkston got gritted. Streets in every urban area in Scotland got gritted. But when tagged on to the end of an article about roads which had been impassable in a blizzard, the information that streets in the urban area where the Transport Minister happens to live had been gritted was turned into yet another stick with which to beat Thatessempee. And these are the people who complain about grievance mongering by independence supporters.

That’s why it’s all the more important for those of us who support independence to speak up, to challenge, and to contradict the misconceptions, misinformation and partial information fed to our neighbours, friends, family, and colleagues. As a movement we need to get visible, we need to get active. And we need to get loud.


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.

Being deafened by the “silenced”

The job of most media commentators in Scotland is to criticise the SNP.  To do so they use a Scottish media which overwhelmingly takes as its starting point that British nationalism is the norm and is a norm which is not nationalist at all. The job of the media in Scotland is to judge Scotland by the standards of Britain. Their job is to shoehorn criticism of the SNP and Scottish independence into any topic you care to think of. Their job is to undermine Scottish self-confidence and instill in us the fear that we couldn’t cope as a normal nation. But don’t you dare criticise them back, and for the sake of all the gods don’t dream of mocking them. That means you’re a tyrant who is silencing them.

The state capitol building in Hartford Connecticut has a domed roof covered with golf leaf. It’s a big building, it’s a big dome, but the amount of the precious metal used to gild it works out at a couple of gold coins’ worth. That’s because gold leaf is incredibly thin, a mere couple of hundred of atoms thick. If you could cut a leaf of gold leaf into cubes with the length and breadth equal to the thickness, each would be smaller than a virus. A single gold sovereign coin, if beaten out into gold leaf, could cover the floor of a room in your house. That’s how thin gold leaf is, but it’s still a whole lot thicker than the skin of your average media apologist for Scottish Unionism. And unlike British nationalism, gold leaf won’t tarnish.

One of the iron-clad laws of Scottish politics is that those who have greatest access to publicity, to the media, and to the corridors of British power, are those who complain most about how they are being silenced. Generally it turns out that they’re being silenced by people who write blogs which get only a fraction of the readership of a newspaper, or by ordinary punters who tweet mockery. Public figures with a platform in a national newspaper and who make regular appearances as a commentator on the telly are being bullied because a granny in Grangemouth tweets a cutting remark. Oh the irony, the British state with its military fetish, its nukes, its Brexit, its nostalgia for empire, and it’s complaining that it’s being bullied by a guy in Invergordon with an internet connection. The privileged always regard a challenge to their privilege as discrimination. The privileged are always the first to rush to claim victim status.

They’re being victimised and silenced because they no longer can lecture us without push-back.  Their definition of democracy is one where they should be allowed to tell us how bad an independent Scotland would be without being challenged. Dare to challenge, and there will be anguished articles in several newspapers and right wing magazines bewailing how silenced they are. Talking heads will pop up on politics programmes to lecture us about how they’re being silenced. We’re being deafened by the silenced. The bullies are complaining that the bullied are threatening them.

Those who are really silenced, those who really struggle to make their voices and opinions heard, are being told by those who disproportionately dominate the mass media that the silenced are silencing those with the megaphones. People who oppose independence are far more likely to be given a platform than those who support it. Scotland has a legion of Conservative commentators, far out of proportion to the number of Conservatives. Meanwhile the likelihood of a pro-independence voice in Scotland being granted access to the TV, or to the vast majority of Scotland’s print media, is directly proportional to that voice’s willingness to attack and criticise other pro-independence voices.

It’s now day three of The Biggest Scandal in Scottish Politics Since Last Week, beardy-glasses-guy-gate. The SNP party political broadcast featuring a beardy guy with hipster glasses, who may or may not have been based upon the Herald columnist and proponent of SNPbadness David Torrance, has spawned outraged articles in the Herald, the Scotsman, the Times, the Express, and on Saturday Stephen Daisley piled in with a piece in the Spectator. That’s the Daisley who was silenced by the SNP and who told us all, at great length, about how silenced he was in his columns for the Mail and the Spectator. No doubt there will be more pieces decrying the SNP’s intolerance of criticism in the Sundays.

Mind you, for a party that’s supposedly intolerant of criticism it does seem to come in for an awful lot of criticism. It is impossible to open a newspaper or view a news broadcast in Scotland without being subjected to a barrage of stories telling us just how terrible the SNP is. So it does appear that what those who complain about the SNP’s supposed intolerance of criticism are really upset about is when the party turns the tables on its critics and gently takes the piss out of them.

Hysterical voices like the Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton have complained about the “tyranny” of the SNP. In Alex’s world, tyranny is when a party produces a video featuring a guy who bears a passing resemblance to a right wing columnist who’s a pal of Alex’s. If Alex had never stoked the fires by submitting his ridiculously petulant complaint to Ofcom, the entire episode would have passed as nothing more than a little bit of piss-taking on Twitter. Instead Alex wants to liken it to the oppression of journalists by authoritarian regimes. That’s the very definition of victimhood seeking.

It has all been counterproductive. All that has happened is that a party political broadcast which would have struggled to have attracted an audience of a few thousand people will now be seen by considerably more. By complaining loudly and vociferously that they’re being silenced, the apologists for British nationalism have only amplified the audience for the video that they claim is silencing them.

The real silenced in Scotland is the half of the population who support independence but who rarely see their viewpoint given airtime or column inches in a Scottish media which is overwhelmingly British nationalist in outlook. When apologists for British nationalism complain that they are being silenced, what they really mean is that they are appalled that other voices, voices which disagree with them, demand to be heard as well.


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.

What has David Torrance ever done for us?

Usually Party Political Broadcasts are pretty boring affairs. The latest SNP party political broadcast has managed to generate considerable entertainment for independence supporters, at least those of us who follow politics enough to get the joke. The broadcast was based on the famous Monty Python sketch from the Life of Brian, “What have the Romans ever done for us?”, and featured an annoying guy with a beard, coiffed hair, and hipster glasses who constantly banged on about the SNP, and how rubbish they are. Cue outrage from the usual British nationalist suspects, who immediately claimed that the advert was an attack on David Torrance, who writes a weekly SNPbad column for the Herald, and who has a beard, immaculately coiffed hair, and wears hipster glasses. Cos obviously, every guy in Scotland with a beard and hipster glasses is David Torrance.

You can go to bars up the West End of Glasgow and find that they’re chock full of men with beards, hipster glasses, and enough product in their hair to secure a tent in a hurricane. This is why you’ll often hear the complaint from people who’d gone out for a night in Byres Road making the complaint that they couldn’t get into the venue because it was full of David Torrances. I wear glasses, and used to have a beard, but I shaved it off because people kept confusing me with David Torrance. Although to be honest no one has ever accused me of being remotely hipsterish, or indeed of having hair, coiffed or otherwise. There was also once an SNP party political broadcast which had a shot of a ginger dug in it, but I didn’t complain.

Prior to this week, David Torrance was best known for two things. The first was writing unauthorised biographies of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, which resulted in the stinging retort from Alex Salmond, “Allow me just two observations. First, I hardly know David Torrance. And secondly – and much more problematically for a biographer – he doesn’t know me at all.” That was far wittier and more cutting than anything in the book. After a social media hoo-ha-ette about the number of Tory politicians who went to private schools, David once plaintively tweeted that SNP MPs wouldn’t tell him what schools they went to, and wondered what possible reason they might have for withholding the information from him. Of course the real reason that they didn’t want to tell him was in order to stop him writing an unauthorised biography.

Otherwise, Davey was best known for banging on about politics, specifically politics of the SNPbad school, of which he is the head pupil and the leading exponent. He is in fact, to give him his due, an expert in managing to squeeze some SNPbaddery into just about any topic you care to mention. David wrote about American politics and used it to say how bad the SNP is. He writes about the EU and uses it to say how bad the SNP is. He can write about the life cycle of the Madagascan spotted moth and use it to say how bad the SNP is. It is something of a talent. He is by no means the most spittle flecked or morally repugnant British nationalist journalist in Scotland, but there’s something about David and his heavily producted hair that rubs people up the wrong way. He’s what you’d get if you crossed Alan Cochrane with a comb, dandruff shampoo, and a cereal bar in Shoreditch.

It’s not like this is the first time that party political propaganda has featured someone pretending to be an ordinary member of the public. Like that Scottish Conservative advert that featured ordinary Angela telling us why she was going to vote Tory, only it forgot to tell us that ordinary Angela was a Conservative cooncillor in North Ayrshire. Or a Labour party leaflet that dropped through my door just before an election a couple of years ago which featured statements from ordinary people from the East End of Glasgow, all of whom turned out to be Labour party activists or officials, and most of whom didn’t live in the East End. But none of them had a beard or wore hipster glasses, so that’s OK then.

Most people don’t know who David Torrance is and so won’t have got the joke. I asked a few people who have no interest in politics. One of my relatives thought that he was a character in Game of Thrones, one of the ones who had met a particularly gruesome end – which is most of them. Although to be fair my relative didn’t know what the Herald was either, and was absolutely positive that Tom Gordon used to be one of the presenters of a tartan bedecked Scottish country dancing show on STV in the early 1970s. Now thanks to the outrage of a Lib Dem MSP with far too much time on his hands, a lot more people than before now know who David Torrance is. Although it’s arguable whether any of them care.

Lib Dem MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton, who entirely coincidentally went to the same school as David, think it’s terribly unfair of the SNP to lampoon a journalist in such a manner. He’s written a stiff letter of complaint to Ofcom. Still, it’s not really the fault of the SNP that David Torrance happens to look like the guy you get when you ring up an acting agency and ask them to send you a generic Tory-boy of the kind that would be invented by Frankie Boyle on an off-day.

You’d think that Alex ought to be getting on with the day job, instead of writing furious letters to Ofcom every time someone with a beard and glasses appears in an SNP party political broadcast. It’s a Trumpian character assassination, screamed Alex, because the Lib Dems would never ever do that sort of thing. Oh no. Just ask the former MP for Edinburgh West Michelle Thomson. She wasn’t monstered and vilified in Lib Dem election materials at all. The very idea. The truth is that the Lib Dems pretty much wrote the play book on dirty fighting in politics.

The Lib Dems have so little to do, such a lack of purpose or meaning, that writing pointless letters to Ofcom actually counts as doing their day job. The only people in Scotland less recognisable than David Torrance are Lib Dem MSPs. All that Alex Cole-Hamilton has achieved with his complaint is to get more people laughing at him than were laughing at the party political broadcast. Alex has now eclipsed James Kelly as the most-ridiculed MSP, and that’s quite an achievement. Asking what you needed to do in order to make James Kelly look statesmanlike used to be a rhetorical question, but due to Alex’s intervention, now we know. What has David Torrance ever done for us? Well he’s given us a bit of a laugh on a cold winter’s day.  So thanks for that if nothing else.


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.