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.
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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.

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.
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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.

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.

Labour’s broken pencil stub

On Wednesday the Scottish Parliament debated the Scottish Government’s draft budget. The Labour party in Scotland doesn’t like the Scottish Government’s budget. No really. I was as shocked as you are. Labour think it’s a bad budget. It’s a terrible budget. It’s a rotten budget. But worst of all, and for this it is beyond all redemption and hope of forgiveness, it’s an SNP budget.

So you might wonder, and not unreasonably, what would Labour do differently? Labour carefully pondered. Labour has considered and thought the issues through. Labour has the answers that working class people are demanding. And so James Kelly pronounced from his pulpit of wisdom, the one that he was standing at because he won’t sit down, “Ah, well, but, eh, anyway … We’ll get back to you on that one … Emm … It’s a rubbish budget anyway but.”

Labour has all sorts of fantastic plans. They’re going to give every school in Scotland a golden unicorn. They’re going to pay every public sector worker a quadrasquillion quid a year. They will ensure that no one in Scotland will ever catch a cold ever again and the NHS will be so well funded that it will never be used because no one in the country is ever ill. When Labour’s in charge it won’t dare snow. It’s just that they don’t have the foggiest idea of how they’re going to pay for any of this. They won’t say what taxes they’ll raise in order to come up with the extra £700 million they say that Scotland needs. They won’t say what spending they will cut to make up the difference. Because they have no clue.

Labour hated the budget because they said that it would not defend Scotland against austerity, because it wouldn’t protect public services from cuts. It’s a budget, Labour claimed, which proves that Thatessempee is in cahoots with the Tories. And to prove just how opposed Labour is to anything that smacks of support for Torydom, they voted against their own motion along with the Tories. They voted along with the Tories to reject an extra £400 million for NHS Scotland. You know, that NHS that they’re always complaining is underfunded and underachieving. They voted along with the Tories against an extra £120 million for Scottish schools. You know, those schools that they’re always complaining are underfunded and underachieving. They voted along with the Tories to block the lifting of the cap on public sector pay. You know, in order to fight for the interests of those public sector workers that they’re always telling us are suffering due to the wages squeeze. There’s Labour standing up for Scotland against the Conservatives. Keir Hardy must be so proud of them.

Not that any of this was adequately explained on our wunnerful public service broadcaster, just like they glossed over the betrayal by Scotland’s half baked dozen of Tory MPs of the devolution settlement. There are far more important and crucial news stories to be told than the fact that the Conservative government, fully supported by Scotland’s thirteen Tory MPs, is traducing the results of the 1997 referendum when Scotland voted for the devolution settlement and the 2014 referendum when the people of Scotland voted for stronger devolution and a Scotland that’s an equal partner in the UK family of nations. There are far more relevant news stories than the story that the Labour party in Scotland is even more unfit than Donald Trump, who is in rude good health for an overweight 71 year old man who takes to his bed to stuff his face with junk food and never takes any exercise. There are important stories that the people of Scotland need to be told, like the one about the hedgehog which is getting hydrotherapy and the surprising fact that it has been snowing in Scotland in January. Ohmygod! Who knew! And now the fitba.

There’s nothing to stop the Labour party in Scotland from promoting tax policies of its own if it doesn’t like the ones that are on offer from the Scottish Government. It’s not like Labour has a great deal else to do with itself. They’re not in government. They’re not even the main opposition party. If they spent a fraction less time falling out with one another and a little more time coming up with policies they might actually have something constructive to say about the budget. Unlike the Scottish Government the Labour party is going to be guaranteed a favourable hearing in much of the Scottish media and will even, incredibly enough, be given billing on Reporting Scotland above the hydrotherapised hedgehog. It’s just that they don’t have a tax policy. Or anything else that smacks of costing, thought, or rigour. All they have is tribalistic finger pointing.

The Tories have a tax policy. Admittedly it’s a rubbish tax policy even by the standards by which Labour judges the SNP’s tax policy. The Tory tax policy is not to increase taxes on rich people because it’s a far greater social benefit that well paid people in the leafier suburbs can afford a second skiing holiday than it is to fund services for children and vulnerable people. But at least the Tories have a tax policy, even if it is one that a Viking warlord who specialises in ransacking and pillaging would consider a tad greedy and a wee tait entitled – and you can have as many skiing holidays as you want when you’re a Viking warlord.

Labour could have used the debate in Holyrood to highlight the actions of Scotland’s Conservative MPs and their betrayal of the devolution settlement despite their claims that they’d vote as a bloc to defend and protect Scotland’s interests. Labour could have used the debate to promote and publicise meaningful and realistic solutions to help mitigate the austerity politics of the Tories and their blaming and victimisation of the poor. Instead, they decided that the most effective use of their energies was to waste time with tribalistic finger pointing. We hate Thatessempee. That’s it. That’s the beginning and end of political thought in the Labour party in Scotland.

The Labour party in Scotland is less useful than a broken pencil stub. Even a broken pencil stub can be sharpened so it has a point. Sharpen the Labour party in Scotland’s pencil stub and all you’ll be left with is the rubber face of James Kelly erasing anything meaningful from a Holyrood debate.


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.

Journey to Yes: N° 20

Nina and Craig say Yes. North-East England voted emphatically to leave the European Union despite being a region that benefits most from EU trade and funding. The Brexit vote also triggered a rise in anti-immigrant attitudes and rethink for specialist nurses Nina and Craig about where to spend their future. Nina, a Danish EU National, and Craig were deeply impressed by the Scotland’s pro-EU values and they decided to move north. Nina and Craig reflect on the damaging impact of Brexit on the NHS, the ‘Great British’ brand, anti-English Scots and why Scotland must now break free of the union to remain a prosperous, open and independent nation in the EU.

We are looking for people to get involved in this series – now is the time to speak out and share your Journey to Yes story.
Contact: phantompower2014@gmail.com
https://twitter.com/PhantomPower14

When hand wringing becomes neck wringing

Scotland’s half baked baker’s dozen of Conservative MPs have been terribly upset of late. They tell us that they’re unhappy that their government hasn’t introduced the necessary amendments to the EU Exit Bill to make it comply with the devolution settlement. That’s despite the fact that promises were given by the British government to make the amendments, promises which were ignored. They’re very disappointed, they tell us. They think that the actions of the government in kicking the bill up to the Lords aren’t good enough. Now unelected peers will have more of a chance to affect the bill than Scotland’s elected MPs. So much for bringing back control from Brussels to the House of Commons. Tory MPs wring their hands while their government wrings the neck of the devolution settlement.

Labour, to its credit, for once decided to do something other than abstain, and introduced an amendment of its own. The bill leaves Scotland and Wales at the mercy of a Conservative power grab. The Labour amendment would have removed the restriction on the devolved legislatures from altering retained EU law in areas in which the devolution settlement says they have competence. The amendment would also have established a procedure for reaching agreement on UK-wide frameworks on those policy areas which are currently legislated for at the EU but are devolved within the UK. It was a reasonable and sensible solution to the problem, one which could have ensured that the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Senedd would not oppose the Brexit Bill and spark off a constitutional crisis.

Labour’s amendment was defeated by 321 votes to 297, a majority of 24. If Scotland’s 13 useless wastes of space had voted with the opposition, they’d have defeated the bill. Instead they voted with the government to deprive Scotland, and themselves, of the chance to influence the course of Brexit. They’re happy to allow cabinet ministers to make all these decisions on Scotland’s behalf, without checks, without scrutiny, without accountability. They’re happy to overturn the devolution settlement which says that all powers which are not specifically reserved to Westminster are devolved. And they are happy to do all this without giving the people of Scotland a say in the matter. They’re defending Scotland’s interests like a blow to the head with a hammer defends against brain injury.

If a Scottish Tory MP says that their party supports the devolution settlement that was agreed in the 1990s and supported in a referendum, a vote that was described at the time as the settled will of the Scottish people, then you know that they’re lying. You know that their protestations that they’re terribly upset are meaningless. You know that they have as much interest in doing what’s right by the people of Scotland as they have of returning ScotRail to public ownership and protecting the NHS from privatisation. Despite the fact that all of Scotland’s MPs except the unlucky 13 voted against the power grab, despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament has not been consulted nor its consent sought or granted, despite the fact that the Scottish people have not been asked and have barely been kept informed, the Conservatives have taken it upon themselves to change the underlying principle of the devolution settlement.

These changes will be made without even the House of Commons being involved, Conservative ministers have arrogated the rights of the people of Scotland to themselves, a right to self-government which the people of Scotland sought, demanded, and approved in the referendum of 1997. So much for respecting the result of the referendum. The Conservatives have now lost all right to demand that anyone respect the result of a referendum, when they’ve run a coach and horses through the Scottish devolution referendum of 1997.

Not that any of this is particularly interesting to that British press that kept telling Scotland how much we’re loved and valued by the British establishment. The most prominent Scottish story in the Guardian at the time of writing this blog post is that salmon season has opened on the river Tay.  This is the same Guardian newspaper which told us shortly after the General Election that Scotland’s new cohort of Conservative MPs were going to vote as a bloc to protect and defend Scotland’s interests.  Uh … Huh. Nice to see the Guardian holding them to account. Oh no. The other thing.  Apologists for British rule in Scotland can protest all they like to the contrary, but this is what it looks like to live in a colony. Scotland, only relevant for huntin’, shootin’, and fishin’, and of course for the oil, as somewhere to park the nukes, and as a retirement home when you sell off the semi in Surrey.

All those people who say that they hate Thatalicsammin, Thatniclasturjin, Thatessenpee, the minute that Westminster uses a power that it’s grabbed from the Scottish Parliament and shafts them with it, those people will be nodding along in agreement to newspaper articles quoting Tory MSPs who blame the Scottish Government for not doing something to mitigate the situation. It’s hard to believe that the Tories are not trying to prepare the ground for the destruction of the devolution settlement. They’re not so stupid as to try and abolish the Scottish Parliament outright, instead they’ll just strip it piece by piece of power and authority, all the while blaming it for its lack of power and authority.

So the next time a Tory demands that an independence supporter respects the result of the 2014 referendum, remind them that their Conservative government is traducing the result of the 1997 one. Remind them that in 2014 we were told by those same Conservatives and their Labour and Lib Dem allies in Better Together that we were voting for stronger devolution, a form of devolution that was more entrenched, a more powerful devolution. They’re not respecting the promises they made in that referendum either. Referendum results will be respected, just as long as it’s a referendum result which gives more power to Tory politicians in Westminster and which is an assault on what’s left of democracy in this country.

Anyway, never mind any of that. Let’s concentrate on the real issue here, the one that’s going to occupy the British nationalist media in Scotland for weeks to come.  It’s snowing in January. Nicola Sturgeon must apologise.


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

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The cost of the Union

Wheesht noo. Stop criticising the Scottish media. It’s not helpful. It’s not entirely clear who it’s not helpful to, but stop it anyway. Just because. It’s bad for democracy when people criticise the media, but it’s not as bad as it is when that media is totally unrepresentative of the country it purports to report on. Democracy is seriously threatened when a country lacks a media that gives all its views and voices a fair hearing, when it’s predominantly owned by interests outwith that country, and when it’s skewed in a particular direction and in favour of a particular constitutional option. It’s even worse when that country, alone amongst the self-governing nations, territories and regions of Europe, lacks a public service broadcaster to call its own. How can a country have a conversation with itself when half of its voices are silenced and when there’s no public service broadcaster to offer a platform?

But we’re not supposed to ask these questions. It means we’re conspiracy theorists even though it’s not a theory that Scotland’s media is overwhelmingly opposed to independence, it’s a fact. It’s not paranoia. They really are out to get us. We’re not supposed to ask these questions, and we’re not supposed to build alternatives. Put up, shut up, remain forever a part of this dysfunctional union-that’s-not-a-union where the powerless and the voiceless are decried as bullies.

The dysfunction was on full display on Monday when the Scottish government published its Brexit impact studies. The Scottish government decided to commission studies into the effects of three different Brexit scenarios on Scotland after it became clear that the British government’s interest in telling the public about the consequences of Brexit were limited to blue passports and whatever lies they could fit on the side of a bus.

Despite numerous promises from Brexit Secretary David Davis that detailed and comprehensive impact studies had been carried out, what was finally revealed to MPs was as illuminating as a torch with a 15W bulb and a flat battery in a black hole. The information contained within the top secret documents which could be so devastating to the UK’s negotiating position with the EU turned out, according to those opposition MPs who had seen them, to contain the sort of information that you could find after typing “How screwed is the UK after Brexit” into Google. So why the secrecy? If UK civil servants can use Google, the chances are that the EU’s civil servants can use it too. Then, for good measure, Davie denied that he’d ever said that there were going to be impact analyses. That’s those analyses which he’d promised would go into excrutiating detail. But it turned out that the only excrutiating thing was Davie’s attempt to pretend he’d never promised anything of the sort.

The real reason why the British government hasn’t carried out detailed assessments of the economic effects of Brexit, or why they haven’t published them if they have, became clear on Monday when the Scottish government published its own studies on the effects on the impact of Brexit on the Scottish economy. It’s because the studies show that there’s no such thing as the good Brexit, the Brexit that works for Britain, that the Tories keep promising us. Every possible configuration of Brexit is a bad Brexit. Well colour us surprised. There is no good Brexit, only a Brexit scenario which is somewhat less catastrophic than the others. A hard Brexit would cost the Scottish economy £12.7 billion a year. No wonder the Tories don’t want to publish any information.

The least disastrous Brexit is for the UK to remain a part of the customs union and the EU single market after Brexit. This is the Brexit that both the Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have refused to consider. Even this Brexit will damage the Scottish economy to the tune of £688 each year for every man, woman, and child in the country. The Brexit with the sooper-dooper special bespoke deal that Theresa wants will end up costing the Scottish economy the equivalent of £1610 annually for every person in the country. This seems to be Jezza’s preferred option too. The worst option is a no deal Brexit, which is likely to cost the Scottish economy the equivalent of £2300 a year per person.

Both a no deal Brexit and the kind of Brexit that the Tories are pressing for will end up costing us considerably more than what the British Treasury was telling us in 2014 that independence was going to cost us. In 2014 the Treasury claimed that independence would cost each person in Scotland £1400 a year. If we’d voted for independence in 2014 and even if the absolute worst case scenarios of the British establishment had come true, we’d still be better off than we will be once Brexit bites.

Naturally the Tories were not impressed by the Scottish government figures, even though they refuse to come out with any figures of their own which might contradict them. “Anyone can come out with end of the world scare stories,” said huffy Fluffy Mundell in a quote which countless independence supporters have filed away for future use in memes during the next independence campaign when the British government comes out with a scare story. Tory MSP Adam Tomkins sniffed that no one can trust financial information published by the Scottish government, except of course the GERS figures, cos they show Scotland is rubbish and are like, totes accurate. So let’s compare the Scottish government’s impact studies with those published by your Tory UK government Adam, and we can see how they stand up. Oh yeah. Right-oh. The Scottish government has published papers dealing with the economic impact of Brexit. The London mayor has published papers dealing with the economic impact of Brexit. The only people who haven’t published papers dealing with the economic impact of Brexit are in the Tory cabinet.

The Scottish media struggled to find a way to report the news that could result in the SNP being blamed for something. Well I say struggled. They don’t struggle that much really. If they can’t blame the SNP for whatever the topic de jour is, they just change the subject. So there was Nicola Sturgeon presenting the impact study papers to the press, study papers which show that there are no Brexit benefits for Scotland and that all the Tory waffle about getting a good deal is just a damage limitation exercise, and instead the press decide that the real story is that Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to use the occasion to give them a date for another referendum. [Rolls eyes.]

Don’t wheesht. Don’t be quiet. Don’t get mad. Get the message out there. Get campaigning. Get a yes vote.


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.