Doing something memorable

So there you are, planning to watch a movie and put your feet up because you’ve taken care of blogging responsibilities for the day, and then the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, the famously unmemorable Ken Wossisname, finally goes and does something for which he’ll be remembered. It’s just a shame that what he’ll be remembered for is being the first Presiding Officer to rule that a bill to be put before Holyrood is not within the remit of the Scottish Parliament, and for being the first Presiding Officer to avoid using the word outwith, which counts as a constitutional crisis all by itself.

The Continuity Bill being placed before Holyrood by the Scottish Government is the Scottish Government’s response to the stalled talks on the Westminster Parliament’s EU Exit Bill between the Scottish and British governments. The bill aims to maintain all the devolved laws currently exercised by the EU after Brexit takes place and will give Scottish ministers the power to alter or amend these laws after Brexit. The Scottish Government says that the purpose of the bill is to ensure that Scotland retains the powers that it currently has, and to put an obstacle in the way of a Conservative government in Westminster which seeks to grab Scottish, and Welsh, powers for itself. Speaking on Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she refused to sign up to a British Government Brexit plan which “effectively undermines the whole foundation on which devolution is built”.

Ken’s not convinced by this. Or if he is he doesn’t care too much. In a statement, the Presiding officer said that he didn’t believe that the Scottish Government’s continuity bill is within the remit of the Scottish Parliament because it would “make provision now for the exercise of powers which is it possible [that Holyrood] will acquire in future”. So Ken’s legal argument, such as it is, seems to boil down to saying that you can’t legislate for things which haven’t happened yet even if you specify that the provisions in the bill will only take effect if the thing in question does actually happen. If that were true then there wouldn’t be any Brexit legislation at all, because Brexit hasn’t happened yet. I’m no lawyer of course, but then neither is Ken.

James Wolffe, the Lord Advocate, is definitely a lawyer, the top lawyer in the land no less, and the Lord Advocate is of the opinion that the draft bill is most definitely within the competence of the Scottish Parliament. The Lord Advocate has issued a statement of his own saying that the continuity bill is carefully framed to avoid doing anything or having any effect before Brexit happens. He says that it is perfectly lawful for the Scottish Government to legislate now for what is to happen once EU law no longer applies.

Ken disagrees, because he’s got a degree in history and worked as a reporter for BBC Scotland. So naturally Ken is in the right here, and the Scotland in Union member of an anti-independence party is pure dead unbiased and not in any way motivated by any tribal hatred of the SNP. Oh no, not at all. Because that would be wrong.

The Welsh Senedd has fewer powers than Scotland does, but a remarkably similar bill has been presented to the Welsh Senedd and has been accepted as within the competence of the Welsh legislature to vote on. The difference of course is that the Welsh Government is led by the Labour party and so their bill isn’t a dastardly plot to undermine the Union even though it says pretty much the same thing and makes pretty much the same provisions as the Scottish one does. That said, Welsh devolution is underpinned by different legislation from Scottish devolution, and it is technically possible that legislation in Wales can be lawful but an equivalent in Scotland be unlawful. Morally and politically however, the case is unanswerable. Scotland has supposedly got a more powerful legislature than Wales, the powers of which were guaranteed and enshrined into law after the 2014 referendum by the same British government which is now trying to grab them for itself.

Onieweys, according to Reporting Scotland at least, none of this is as important as the incredible and amazing fact that it’s snowing in Scotland in the winter. Because snow in the winter in Scotland totally unexpected. That Humza Yousaf should be out there personally with a snaw shovel. Actually no, strike that. He shouldn’t be making any preparatory arrangements at all. He should be sitting at home and doing absolutely nothing at all, because according to the Ken Wossisname Doctrine, the snaw hasn’t happened yet. It’s clearly outwith the competence of the Transport Minister to make contingency plans for things that haven’t happened yet. But you can bet that if the Transport Minister didn’t make any plans for what would occur if there is indeed a large and disruptive fall of snow, then Ken’s party would be amongst the first to condemn That Humza Yousaf for not doing his job. Funny then that he’s so determined that the Scottish Government should refrain from making any contingency plans for the crap that is going to rain down on Scotland once Brexit hits the fan.

The Scottish Government is pressing ahead with the Bill despite Ken’s objections. The Lord Advocate is due to explain to MSPs tomorrow (Wednesday) why he believes that the Bill is within the remit of Holyrood. Although this probably won’t shut up Tory MSP Adam IT’S THE LAW! Tompkins who seems determined to go down a Madrid style route and claims that the Scottish Government is acting illegally. The matter doesn’t have to be resolved for now, the Scottish Parliament can vote on the Bill, which since it counts on the support of the Greens and the SNP will presumably pass. However the legality of the bill can be challenged during the period when it’s awaiting Royal Assent, and then the matter will be taken to the UK Supreme Court.

Ken Macintosh is going to be remembered at last. He’ll be remembered for being the first Presiding Officer to rule that a bill is outwith the remit of the Scottish Parliament and then being slapped down by the Lord Advocate who has ruled that it most definitely is within the competence of the Scottish Parliament. He’ll be remembered for putting his British nationalism before the permanence and power of a Scottish Parliament which his own party has guaranteed to strengthen and respect. But then Ken’s a Labour politician, and so is constitutionally incapable of seeing a constitutional crisis looming on the horizon without making it worse.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to the weather, tomorrow’s The National Roadshow event in Peterhead has been postponed. Forecasts expect a foot of snow, high winds and -10C temperatures for the North East. The event will be rescheduled. Sorry for the inconvenience.


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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Many thanks.

Passport out of Pimlico

Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he wants the UK to stay in ‘a’ customs union with the EU, which in some indetermined manner is different from ‘the’ customs union. The difference, according to Jezza, is that the UK will not passively accept all the EU’s rules and will continue to make its own trade deals, scenarios which the EU has already said are not viable options. It does sound suspiciously like another version of cake having and eating, but at least it’s got the Tories choking on it. So that’s a result.

It’s not that the Leader of the Opposition has suddenly been converted to a soft Brexit, he remains as much of a hard Brexiteer as he ever was. It’s just that he sees the prospect of defeating the Conservatives in a vote on the issue in the Commons, thanks to a number of Conservative rebels. Labour’s position on Brexit has shifted slightly in the direction of common sense, but it remains as confused and incoherent as that of the Tories.

It’s not that difficult to be less confused and more coherent on Brexit than the British Government. The calibre of the British government’s thinking on the tricky issues thrown up by Brexit can be illustrated by Boris Johnson’s latest pronouncement on the thorny issue of the Irish border. There’s a contradiction inherent in the UK leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market and the UK’s treaty requirement to ensure that there is an invisible and infrastructure free border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The UK Foreign Secretary has got confused between that crucial issue and the 1940s movie Passport to Pimlico. It’s an easy mistake to make.

Boris was able to manage the London congestion charge when he was mayor and ensure free movement of goods and people between the boroughs of Camden and Westminster, so clearly the Irish border issue is all about dealing with traffic congestion. I always thought that the London Troubles was a reference to the difficulties of people on low wages or the average salary finding affordable accommodation, and not to mounting tensions along the Walthamstow-Newham demilitarised zone.  I lived in London for many years, but never noticed the sign on the North Circular Road saying You Are Now Entering Free Hammersmith, and there was a distinct absence of paramilitary groups who were bent on blowing up the Number 26 to Neasdon in order to keep out non-compliant goods from Shepherd’s Bush. So either this was just poor observational skills on my part, or Boris Johnson was talking bollocks again. My money is on the latter.

It’s almost as though Boris Johnson is blithely indifferent to anything that doesn’t nourish his bloated sense of sense-importance and rampant careerism. Well I say ‘almost’. I mean ‘exactly’. It’s exactly that. You’d think that a basic understanding of the distinction between an international frontier between two sovereign states and an administrative border between two London boroughs would be a prerequisite for becoming Foreign Secretary, but apparently not. Someone should point out to the Foreign Secretary that number plate recognition technology is a) the kind of hard infrastructure on the border that the UK has pledged not to introduce in Ireland, and b) can’t tell you what’s in the car boot or on the back of the lorry.

It might also be helpful to point out to the Foreign Secretary that the implementation of the London congestion zone took many years of planning, and the delivery, installation, and operation of complex IT infrastructure and payment systems. Despite that, many people inadvertently fall foul of the rules. There are only 13 months to go until Brexit and the UK hasn’t even started to plan for the new Irish border Oyster Card.

Not that it would do any good, he’ll just go and claim that Brexit will give millions to the NHS or invent something about the curvature of bananas. Again. The only thing that prevents Boris Johnson being the most ludicrous and risible politician in the Conservative party is that it also includes Jacob Rees Mogg. That pair plus David Cameron make a compelling argument that Ofsted ought to put Eton into special measures.

Still, we shouldn’t complain too much, Boris has just given Scottish independence supporters some very useful verbal ammunition. He is now on record as saying that he thinks that the issue of the Irish border is as easy a problem to solve as the border between London boroughs inside and outside the congestion zone, and we can remind him of that when he makes dire threats about the Scottish-English border during the next Scottish independence referendum.

Meanwhile Liam Fox, or to give him his proper title The Disgraced Former Defence Minister Dr Liam Fox, has been having a go at a former senior civil servant in his own department, Sir Martin Donnelly, who claimed, not unreasonably, that the UK leaving the EU and the Customs Union and Single Market was like swapping a three course meal for a packet of crisps. Liam is insistent that Brexit is crunchier and more filling than a mere packet of crisps. He has something more like Hula Hoops in mind, or possibly Monster Munch, and he’s determined that the UK can do a free trade deal with Doritos, or even hold out for a meal deal at Greggs. However the problem for Liam is that we don’t get the packet of crisps immediately, all Brexit is offering is a vague promise on the side of a bus of a packet of crisps at some undetermined time in the future. There’s no guarantee that we will actually be getting any crisps, and if we do the chances are that they will be genetically modified chlorine bathed crisps that taste like crap and which no one wants. The only thing that we can be sure of about Brexit crisps is that they’re incredibly cheesy.

From the British government in the past week or so we’ve had Mad Max Brexit, Oyster Card Brexit, and Better than a Packet of Crisps Brexit. And still the Labour party can’t make a serious dent on these idiots in the opinion polls. The Government isn’t fit for purpose, the Opposition isn’t fit for purpose, the UK isn’t fit for purpose. Let’s get ourselves ready, let’s get ourselves organised. We need to prepare the independence Passport out of Pimlico.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to the weather, tomorrow’s The National Roadshow event in Peterhead has been postponed. Forecasts expect a foot of snow, high winds and -10C temperatures for the North East. The event will be rescheduled. Sorry for the inconvenience.


weegingerdug.scot

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


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Just click the donate button.
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Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

Many thanks.

The blame game

Brexit’s going pear-shaped. It’s aw gaun wrang, but it’s not because the British government possesses the negotiating skills of a three year old in the middle of a temper tantrum. Oh no. It’s not because Brexiteers have decided that the best way to deal with the issue of the Irish border is to treat it like a suspicious rash and ignore it in the hope that it will go away. It’s certainly not because Theresa May is trying to achieve an outcome which only exists in a parallel universe where David Davis strides the world stage like a colossus and the EU falls over itself to offer Britain everything it wants without any consequences. That’s the universe where you still have your cake long after it’s passed through of your digestive tract and out the other end to grace the contents of a Conservative party political broadcast. It’s not even because Brexit was always going to be like entrusting a damage limitation exercise to a bunch of pyromaniacs. The reason that Brexit is going to be a failure is none of these things. The real reason that Brexit is going to end up in a sorry and ruinously expensive humiliating mess is all because of Thatessempee. It’s great that that’s been cleared up then.

David Lidington, the Conservative Minister for Putting Uppity Scots Back in Their Box, was all over the newspapers on Sunday in order to blame Thatessempee for threatening the glorious sunny uplands of a freebooting Brexit. How dare the Scottish government insist that the Conservatives can’t be allowed to use Brexit to overturn the foundations of the devolution settlement. How very dare Thatessempee point out that it’s not just the results of the EU referendum that counts as the will of the people which must always be respected. It’s only Tories who get to lecture others on respecting the results of referendums. It’s not fair for Nicola Sturgeon to do it as well. It’s out of order for the Scottish government to demand that the Conservatives respect the result of the referendum of 1997 and to respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in 2014 in order to secure a No vote.

According to David L., Brexit is at risk because the Scottish government want the British government to abide by the devolution settlement. Despite reports in the press that the Conservatives were going to back off and concede that devolved powers currently being exercised by the EU should be restored to Holyrood after Brexit, it turns out that they have no intentions of doing so. And if you’re surprised by that, you probably also thought that David Mundell is a strong and effective voice for Scotland in the UK cabinet. The Fluffy one is such a strong and effective voice that there was no need for him to be present at the cabinet’s recent meeting about Brexit because it made no difference whether he was in the room or yelling all the way from Dumfries, the rest of the cabinet were still not going to listen to him.

It’s not even that the devolved powers currently exercised by Brussels are going to be held by the Westminster parliament after Brexit, which would be bad enough. It’s worse than that, the powers are going to be held by Conservative cabinet ministers under the so-called Henry VIII powers. Scotland will have absolutely no means of holding them to account. This overturns the very foundations of the devolution settlement which Scotland approved in the referendum of 1997, and which was – theoretically – strengthened and entrenched by the result of the referendum of 2014.

There is no way that the Scottish parliament is going to consent to what the Tories have in mind. It doesn’t matter that the Conservatives might be prepared to devolve some powers after a time, or might hold on to fewer than they had originally intended. It’s not the business of the Scottish parliament to reduce its powers and to go along with a Conservative decision to unilaterally overturn the devolution settlement just to help Theresa May and the swivel eyed Brexiteers in her party she’s trying to placate get out of a hole of their own making. It’s not the business of the Scottish government to assist the British government in a course of action which impact studies carried out by both the Scottish and British governments have demonstrated will damage Scotland’s interests.

Lidington’s speech means that the British government isn’t going to back down and agree to respect the devolution settlement. We’re heading straight for a constitutional crisis, one which the Conservatives and their allies in the British nationalist media are going to portray as reasonable offers from a thoughtful and generous British government being rejected out of hand by vile Scottish nationalists in order to further their separatist agenda. It’s not like the British government ever wanted a deal in the first place. If they were sincere they would have ensured that Clause 11 of the EU exit bill was debated in the House of Commons. They’re positioning themselves to blame the Scots for the failure of Brexit. Their failures and shortcomings are all the fault of Thatessempee.

In no particular order, the failure of Brexit to meet the fantasies of Little England nationalists is the fault of Remainers. It’s the fault of the Irish. It’s the fault of the EU. It’s the fault of Thatessempee. The only people who have absolutely no responsibility for how Brexit is working out are the people driving it. The people who are insistent that they can achieve six impossible things before Brexit have no responsibility at all for their own delusions. Although to be fair, here in Scotland we genuinely have no idea whether the Conservatives bear any responsibility for how Brexit is working out because Ruth Davidson is almost invisible and won’t answer questions on anything except her favourite recipes in Bake Off.

The fact is that if the Conservatives are prepared to risk the Irish peace agreement in order to slay the mythical monsters which inhabit the dreams of English nationalism, they’re sure as hell not going to hesitate to trample all over the Scottish and Welsh devolution settlements. Brexit has exposed the reality of the so-called Union. It’s nothing more than a fig leaf covering a reactionary and backward looking Little England nationalism which will blame the Scots and the Irish for its own incoherence. English nationalism can have its hard Brexit, or it can have the Irish peace process and the Union. The Conservatives are opting for hard Brexit, and in doing so they are killing off the Union they claim to love. They’ve only got themselves to blame.

 


 

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.

We own the future

Occasionally I’ve been asked why it is that I remain so positive about the chances of the independence campaign to achieve its goal of a self-determined Scotland in the face of the constant barrage of negativity, scare-mongering, and British nationalist astroturfing from the media and the anti-independence parties. It’s quite simple. It’s because we’re going to win. In 2014 the question facing Scotland was, “Should Scotland become an independent country?” In 2018 the question facing Scotland is, “When should Scotland become an independent country?”

Yesterday on Twitter the video maker Phantom Power, who is responsible for the fantastic Journey to Yes series, published a list of 10 reasons why he believes that Scotland is going to vote Yes in the next independence referendum. The list was republished by The National here. I had already been musing on writing a blog post on a similar theme, so here are my 10 reasons why Scotland is poised to become an independent nation.

1. 45% start

Back when the first independence referendum was called, the polls showed that somewhat less than 30% of the population supported independence. More than that, independence wasn’t really taken seriously as a mainstream idea in Scottish politics. The British nationalist parties did their damnedest to paint it as a purely SNP project, and equally did their damnedest to marginalise and sideline the SNP. The great achievement of 2014 was that in the teeth of the concerted opposition of the anti-independence parties and virtually the entire Scottish and British media, a grassroots campaign took that minority level of support for independence and came within a bawhair of turning it into a majority.

Not only that, but we took the idea of independence from the margins of Scottish politics and didn’t just drag it right into the mainstream, we made it the single most important question around which all of Scottish politics revolve. We’re starting a second referendum from a much higher baseline than we did the first. Opinion polls consistly show support for independence in the high 40s, and that’s before there’s a proper campaign running and while most people who aren’t interested in politics remain disengaged from the arguments. That’s is the real reason why the likes of Ruth Davidson are so terrified of a re-run.

2. New digital media

In 2011 when Scotland voted for a majority SNP government and a referendum became a certainty, the digital Scottish media was very much in its infancy. I should know, because I was one of “those bastards from Newsnet”, in the words of BBC Scotland director Ken McQuarrie. Back then, Newsnet was pretty much it. Now we’re spoiled for choice. As well as ranty wee blogs like this one, there’s the behemoth that is Wings Over Scotland taking a rapier to the output of the traditional media, the intellectual musings of Bella Caledonia, the socialist radicalism of Common Space, the polling expertise of Scot Goes Pop, the wit and wisdom of the estimable Derek Bateman, and many more sites specialising in the written word.

There’s the meme factory that is Indyposterboy, producing an enormous output of posters, flyers, leaflets, and cards, available for download or printing. Then there’s the extremely professional and high quality videos produced by Phantom Power, the live streaming and interviewing of IndependenceLive, Broadcasting Scotland, and new initiatives which are constantly appearing. And of course we shouldn’t forget that we’ve also made inroads into the traditional media. We now have a real daily newspaper of our own in The National and a Sunday newspaper in the Sunday Herald. Ordinary people in Scotland felt that our concerns and views were not being reflected in the traditional media, so we’ve become the media. The expertise and skills that we’ve developed and built up will serve us well in the coming referendum.

3. Grassroots and green shoots

The Yes movement possesses a network of grassroots organisations and local groups which never went away after 2014. There are groups in almost every town and district in the country, and those groups contain seasoned activists who have experience of campaigning and persuasion. The anti-independence campaign has nothing like that at all, all they have are the traditional political parties and a couple of organisations which claim to be grassroots, but which seem to do all their fundraising amongst people with titles who own vast landed estates, although to be fair owning acres of farmland is one definition of grassroots. That grassroots organisational strength means that the independence movement has the people to put the cause of independence into every street and every town and village. It means that we can tailor the arguments for independence to individuals and to local communities while the anti-independence movement must rely on a one size fits all argument broadcast from the traditional media.

4. No positive arguments from No

Last time round, the argument for No was extremely negative, focussing on scare stories and threats, but Better Together did manage to season its negativity with a little bit of love and promises. There was the infamous Vow, the promise that only a No vote could secure Scotland’s place in the EU, the promise of extra powers for a Scottish parliament whose existence was going to be made permanent and entrenched in such a way that no Westminster government could abolish it or reduce its powers without its consent. There were the promises that jobs in the tax offices would be safe, that ships would be built on the Clyde ensuring the employment of shipyard workers. There were promises of extra funding for Scottish renewable industries.

The promises made by the yes campaign in 2014 were and will always remain hypothetical, because Scotland voted No, but we can test the promises of the No campaign against what actually happened in reality, in this universe. They promised us that Scotland would lead within the UK, that we were loved and respected, that our voice and opinions would count. And in very single case except one their promises have not been fulfilled. The only promise that they made which has been kept was Michelle Mone’s threat to leave the country, for which small mercy we should all be thankful. The next time round, when the anti-independence campaign makes some promise to the people of Scotland if only we vote No, all we have to do is to reply – but you said that the last time and it turned out to be a lie. Any future promises made by the anti-independence campaign will have all the credibility of a Donald Trump tweet.

But the chances are they won’t want to make any positive pitch to Scotland to stay. Conservative Brexiteers in England, and a majority of Labour voters who backed Brexit, are happy to see Scotland become independent if a Scotland remaining in the UK were to put the hems on their vision of Brexit. They’re going to campaign half-heartedly at best, and will certainly put pressure on the British government not to make any positive offers to the people of Scotland to get us to stay a part of the UK. It’s also going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible for them to make a convincing pitch because their campaign will be riven in two from the start. Labour in Scotland might not be the brightest bunch on the planet, but they’re not so foolish as to mount a joint campaign with the Tories again like they did last time.

5. Demographics

Whenever you point out that the older a person is the more likely they are to vote against independence, the comments below the article are filled with irate 70 year olds pointing out that they’ve campaigned for independence all their lives. However it is true that older people are less likely to support independence, whereas younger people support it by increasingly large margins the younger they get. That means that even if we do absolutely nothing in the independence campaign, at some point in the not too distant future there will be a majority for independence in Scotland. But we don’t intend to do nothing, we intend to ensure that young people are actively engaged with the campaign, that they are registered to vote, and that they turn out to vote.

But we have another demographic advantage which we didn’t have last time. Last time a majority of EU citizens resident in Scotland voted No as they were worried about their status. Next time round those communities are far more likely to vote Yes for an outward looking internationalist Scotland which rejects the xenophobia of a British nationalist Brexit. We will also find it easier to attract the votes of English Scots opposed to Brexit, the largest by far of the communities in this country born outwith Scotland.

6. Brexit

Brexit changes everything. As long as Scotland and England were on the same page politically, Scots could kid themselves on that we were really a partner nation in a family of nations, that we were an equal country in a union of countries. Brexit, driven as it is by a narrow and specifically English nationalism, has blown that out of the water. Brexit means that we can no longer pretend that Scotland is going to get what it votes for within the UK. But worse than that, Brexit has proven that the British establishment has not the slightest interest in listening to what Scotland wants, in taking Scotland’s views into account, or in accommodating Scotland’s needs. Scotland will be subordinated to the political interests of the British parties, even if that is damaging to Scotland’s economy and future. Our employment and human rights are at risk like never before, about to be sacrificed on the altar of a right wing Conservative fantasy of English exceptionalism. Brexit means that the political landscape of the UK has utterly changed, in ways which are prejudicial to Scotland. Which leads us on to …

7. Overturning of Better Together’s arguments from last time

The strongest single argument in the armoury of Better Together in 2014 was, “Why risk the insecurity and uncertainty of independence when you can have the safety and stability of the UK?” That argument has now been turned on its head. There is no country in Europe with a less certain or more unsure future than the UK. The UK is facing the potential for enormous damage to its economy, to jobs and opportunities, and to its standing in the world. We can see in the way in which the British government has humiliatingly had to bow to every demand made on it by the EU during Brexit negotiations that the supposed ability to punch above its weight so beloved by British nationalists existed only because the UK was a part of the EU. Outside the EU, the UK must bend to the will of Ireland.

Brexit is a profoundly nationalist project. It is no longer possible for someone to oppose Scottish independence but to acquiesce in Brexit but at the same time to claim that they are not a nationalist. If you support Brexit, even tacitly, you are a nationalist, a British nationalist, and this time round the Scottish independence movement isn’t going to allow you to get away with pretending that British nationalism is better than other nationalisms by virtue of not being nationalist at all. British nationalism is not only nationalist, it’s a narrow and xenophobic nationalism which is driven by a rosy eyed nostalgia for a past that never existed. This time round it’s support for independence which is internationalist and outward looking, and it’s British nationalism which is parochial, inward looking, and driven by an unrealistic romantic fantasy.

8. We know what’s coming and we’re ready for it

Since Better Together Mk II won’t be able to make a positive pitch for the supposed Union, their campaign next time is going to be driven by negativity and fear mongering. They’re going to bang on about the currency, and they’re going to try and equate the EU single market with the unitary market of the UK. By the time we enter the official campaign the independence movement will have well articulated answers to those questions – we will have a Scottish pound, and since by that time the UK will have bent to the will of the EU and ensured an invisible and frictionless border with Ireland, they won’t be able to threaten Scotland with barbed wire and sentry posts all the way from Gretna to Berwick.

We know that we’ll be getting several interventions for the very first time from the Gordosaurus. We know that they’ll be telling us that they love us but there will be no substance to the sweet words.

9. Ball kicking as well as wish trees

The last time round we were so concerned to run a positive and happy clappy campaign that we allowed Better Together and the British nationalists to get away with all sorts of arguments which were, to put it kindly, utter shite. So we had Magrit Curran on the telly earnestly telling us that she didn’t want her kids to be foreigners to her, a situation which wasn’t going to arise because after independence Magrit’s weans in London would still be Scottish and British citizens just like her. But even if they did have different passports, any estrangement felt by Magrit was only ever an argument that she was in need of family therapy and counselling. Next time round we’ll be a lot more assertive in calling out the crap from the anti-independence campaign.

But we’ll also be more assertive in pointing out the downsides of remaining a part of a Brexit Britain. The powers and permanence of the Scottish parliament will not be safe. State pensions will not be safe. The NHS will be at risk of creeping privatisation. The Tories seeking Brexit are not doing so in order to transform the UK into a paradise of workers’ and human rights. We’re in for a low wage low skills economy, saddled by debt and living from paycheque to paycheque while a small number of people get extremely wealthy indeed. Yes we will certainly be articulating a vision of the better Scotland that independence can deliver, but we won’t be shying away from telling the dismal truth about the realities facing the UK. We’ll make no bones about how paradoxically the only way to protect and defend the good aspects of the British state, the NHS, free education, comprehensive social security, is with independence.

10. We own the future

Britain is about the past, about looking backwards in misty eyed nostalgia to a little island that stood alone. Our biggest advantage, our biggest strength, is the knowledge that the independence movement is about the future. It’s a future that’s interconnected, that’s international, that looks out towards the world. Only the independence movement can paint a picture of a better country, a more just country, a country which works to tackle the problems we face. The future is ours. The future is Scottish.


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.

Pure-dross, That-toss, Arse-miss, and Durrty-yin

It wasn’t that long ago when Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ got a fitba team and two subs’ worth of MPs elected to Westminster, much to the creaming elation of Ross Thomson. The news was met by much of the Scottish media as though it was the Rapture and Scotland had now got 13 Tories in British nationalist heaven with all the power of angels. The new saints were going to stick up for Scotland. They were going to be a strong voice for this country and would speak truth unto power. They were there as delegates for the Supreme Ruth herself, and would vote as a bloc in order to defend Scotland’s interests. Halleluiah, the Union had been Savioured at last.

During the election, Ruth’s face and name were first and foremost on election literature. Voters were told that they were voting for Ruth’s men and women, she was the leader and this was her crew. Now to be fair, the SNP has done much the same kind of thing in the past, putting Alicsammin’s name on the ballot, but no one was ever in any doubt that he was the leader of the SNP and that the SNP is a distinct party answerable to no other. Putting Ruth’s name on the ballot and downplaying the Conservative party was a way of trying to break the association in voters’ minds between the Scottish Conservative party and the Conservative party in the rest of the UK. That’s despite the fact that the Scottish Conservative party, rather like its Scottish Labour equivalent, is a branch office of the British organisation. Imagine that eh, Tories dissembling and misrepresenting themselves. The media in Scotland, naturally, enthusiastically went along with it.

Fast forward just a few months, and those MPs for the Ruth Davidson party are standing up for Scotland in the exact same way that Donald Trump stands up for a thorough investigation of Russian meddling in the US election. It’s not just Ruth’s mob, not a single non-SNP MP could be bothered enough to turn up to a meeting of the Commons’ Scottish Affairs Committee in Fife to discuss the vital issue of how immigration would be affected by Brexit and how Scotland’s unique needs are not being addressed. Admittedly Labour’s Coatbridge and Chryston MP Hugh Gaffney has a good excuse, he’s not allowed out without his care assistant in case he says something racist or homophobic. For parties which claim to defend the Union, they’re pretty lax when it comes to defending Scottish interests within it. But then their role isn’t to promote Scotland within the Union, it’s to promote the Union within Scotland, and that means keeping quiet on the numerous occasions that the so-called Union is doing damage to Scottish interests.

But the Conservatives are easily the worst, even though being more hypocritical than the Labour party in Scotland takes quite some doing. Some of Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ aren’t too keen on standing up for what Ruth says she stands for. Inspired by the Brexiteers’ message of freebooting trade deals with countries we’ve already got trade deals with because we’re still in the EU, they felt the need to buckle some swashes. Three Scottish Tory MPs decided that they don’t care what their supposed leaderene has said, they certainly don’t care what the Scottish government’s Brexit impact papers have said, they don’t care what their own government’s Brexit impact papers have said, and they don’t care what harm will be caused to their constituencies. They’re far more keen on becoming the Three McBrexiteers, starring Colin Clark of Gordon as Pure-dross, Stephen Kerr of Stirling as That-toss, and also appearing there’s Alister Jack of Dumfries and Galloway as Arse-miss, because he cannae find it with a map. Then feeling left out, wee Ross Thomson piped up that he wanted to be the fourth McBrexiteer because there’s no one better suited than him for the role of Durrty-yin.

Even though the Brexit impact papers of both the Scottish and British governments have demonstrated that a hard Brexit will wreak considerable damage on the economy, costing thousands of jobs and harming businesses, particularly the agricultural interests which figure so large in the economies of their own constituencies, the four McBrexiteers are hell bent on an ideologically driven hard Brexit. These are the very same people who rail against Scottish independence for the uncertainty it would supposedly cause and the damage it would supposedly do to the economy, yet they’re determined to pursue a form of Brexit that everyone except spittleflecked hard Brexiteers acknowledge is bad for Scotland, bad for the rest of the UK, and bad for businesses and jobs.

Bugger the farmers of Galloway and Gordon, their MPs want to flood the country with chlorinated chicken and beef reared on genetically modified corn. They want to abolish free movement and leave crops rotting in the fields because there’s no one to harvest them. 90% of vets in abattoirs are EU citizens, after a hard Brexit the meat industry will struggle to find anyone to fill those posts. Tory MPs want a bonfire of regulations which means that Scottish produce would no longer be considered fit for export to the EU, its largest market by far, while Scottish producers would be edged out of the domestic market by cheap imports from countries with even lower standards. Oh, and you can wave goodbye to your Common Agricultural Policy subsidies after the five years during which the British government has committed to guaranteeing them.

How’s that standing up for Scotland’s interests working out then? What happened to Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ voting as a bloc to defend Scottish interests? Never mind any of that. The Scottish media has its finger on the pulse. The Scottish media knows how to hold politicians who don’t belong to the SNP to account. We can look forward to Ruth popping up in a radio interview to talk about her favourite Bake Off recipes and doing an impression of the invisible man whenever the topic of Brexit is aired. For all her posing and posturing, Ruth Davidson has no power to ensure that Scottish Tory MPs vote the way she wants them to, and her much vaunted standing up for Scotland is as mythical as a good Brexit. She’s been cut down by her own McBrexiteers.


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.

David Davis is a hero we don’t need

In this week’s example of setting the bar really low, Brexit Secretary David Davis has assured us all that leaving the EU won’t result in a Mad Max style dystopian Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom. That’s reassuring then. This was David’s Road to Brexit speech. We already knew that the road to Brexit was the Fury Road, it’s just that no one had expected they were going to be quite so literal about it. Although to be fair the signs were there from the beginning and we should have been forewarned. Nigel Farage does look suspiciously like a cleaned up Toe Cutter in a suit come to think about it. Davie has been criticised for likening Brexit to Mad Max, but screaming people who’ve lost every civilised thing they hold dear strapped helplessly into rusty wrecked vehicle with no brakes which is careening towards an explosive crash with a cliff face is a pretty good analogy for how the Brexit negotiations are going. However the vehicle does have “£350 million a week extra for the NHS” written on the side of it, so cheer up Remoaners.

Brexit has moved on from promises of an extra £350 a week for the NHS, freedom from faceless EU bureaucrats, and delivery into the sunlit uplands of taking back control, to assurances that starving peasants scavenging rusty car parts in the post-apocalyptic Brexit wasteland are not actually going to beat one another to death in the Thunderdome while Theresa May does an impression of Aunty Entity. The really scary thing here is that this is the most realistic thing about Brexit that David Davis has ever said, everyone knows that the monotone Theresa May has a crap singing voice. When they promised us a Brexit boom we didn’t think that they meant that big explosion which destroyed Aunty Entity’s petrol tankers.

Anyway, the British establishment was keen to tell us that Scottish independence would be cataclysmic for the entire world, so by comparision a British Mad Max doesn’t seem so bad. But the oil is running out, as they’ve been telling Scotland since the mid 1970s. So Brexit won’t be like Mad Max at all, because Mad Max still had some petrol. We shouldn’t worry too much anyway, as Davie had a distinctly Anglosaxon dystopia in mind, which possibly means that the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish have bailed out and left the Brexiteers of Westminster to their own devices, devices which they have cunningly fashioned out of the sort of wreckage that you find in a scrap yard.

More likely Davie’s mention of Anglosaxons means that our Conservative masters have forgotten, again, that the non-Anglosaxon parts of the UK exist, which if you ask the Scottish government happens all the time. It’s not like the Tories have our interests at heart, even if they did have a heart to have our interests in. The real reason that the Conservatives made it so difficult for MSPs to get a look at the British government’s Brexit impact papers was because all they said was, “See that movie The Road? The one with the cannibals? Like that. But on the plus side we think that we can turn benefits claimants into a thriving meat export industry. So it’s not entirely bad.”

We don’t need another hero, but even if we did it sure as hell wouldn’t be the Brexit Secretary. His pronouncement this week is the worst example of expectation management since a plastic surgeon promised a patient that their face lift wasn’t going to leave them looking like Michael Jackson. When the Brexiteers promised us freebooting free trade deals we didn’t think they literally meant that we’d all have to become land-pirates. Jacob Rees Mogg is pretty pissed off about Davie’s remarks, as it means he got his nanny to bolt a flame thrower onto the Bentley for no reason.

Davie’s speech has opened up breaches within the ranks of the Brexiteers, as some of them were favouring other post-apocalyptic scenarios. Iain Duncan Smith had been hoping for more of a Hunger Games theme, which was after all his inspiration for the changes he made to the social security system, although he is prepared to concede that Immortan Joe proves that people with disabilities are fit for work. Michael Gove had his heart, or rather what passes for his heart, set on Waterworld as then the fact that he bears a striking resemblance to startled goldfish would be an evolutionary advantage. Meanwhile Boris Johnson had been holding out for a Lord of the Flies scenario, as he wants to be the king of a small and isolated island. On the other hand, in the Mad Max wasteland the disgraced former defence secretary Liam Fox is ideal for the role of Lord Hummungus, and that means he’d have to wear that full face mask so the rest of us wouldn’t have to see his smug grin ever again. So that’s a plus. It certainly puts a new spin on faceless bureaucrats.

This is the same week in which Boris Johnson reiterated his plan to build a bridge across the English Channel. Well I say ‘plan’, what I really mean is attention grabbing click bait headline. Boris is quite convinced that it’s possible to build a Channel Bridge out of recycled lorry parts, corroded shipping containers, and the bones of dead benefit claimants, but then he’s also convinced that he’s prime ministerial material.

Back in the real world, of course the UK won’t end up like Mad Max after Brexit. It’s silly to say so. We don’t have the climate for it. It will be more like Planet of the Apes, which you can already see a foretaste of on Duke Street in Glasgow during the marching season in June. Those are after all the people to whom the Scottish Conservatives are pitching their message.

Anyway, David Davis was correct about one thing in his speech. Brexit is not a race to the bottom. In a race you need competitors, and as far as Brexit is concerned, the UK is very much on its own. The British government can’t solve the problems that the UK is facing, they are the problem. David Davis and his colleagues are heroes that we certainly don’t need.


weegingerdug.scot

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


gingercartoonWee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements

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

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

Many thanks.

The year of the dug

恭喜發財 Gung hei faat choi! Happy Chinese new year, and we are now in the year of the dug. According to one Chinese astrology site, the year of the dog is the year for fighting the political causes that you believe in passionately, which seems appropriate for this blog. Not that I believe in astrology, but then you were expecting me to say that because I’m a Virgo. However the astrologists, perhaps for a change, do give some good advice – this is a year for pacing ourselves, for slow and steady growth, and above all else for hard work.

By the end of the Year of the Dug, there will just be a few short weeks left before the UK leaves the EU, taking Scotland with it. We’ll be out of the EU and into the Year of the Pig. You only have to glance at the Conservatives to see how appropriate that is. This coming year is certainly going to be a year for fighting a political cause. It’s in this Year of the Dug that we will build our campaign for a Scotland that decides its own path and is not led into piggery by Tory Brexiteers. We can win the campaign that is coming, but we need to prepare ourselves for it. We have work to do.

The first thing we need to do is focus our efforts. Above all else that means putting an end to the divisive and harmful infighting that blighted our movement last year. This is a grass-roots movement, a mass movement, a national movement. That means that by definition it’s going to contain people that you disagree with, people whose views you may find objectionable. The only thing that we all agree on is the core defining issue of the Scottish independence campaign, and that is that we all believe that the only sovereign body in Scotland should be the people of Scotland, all of us who were born here, all of us who have chosen to live here.

Being Scottish isn’t about your genes, it’s not about your ancestry, it’s about living in Scotland, identifying with Scotland, and sharing the future of Scotland. Above all else, Scottishness is a state of mind, and it’s one which is contagious. Collectively we are the Scottish people, and we are the only ones who have the right to decide what path Scotland takes, what kind of country we want to live in, what choices we want this nation to make. We agree that it’s for the people of Scotland to decide, that the people of Scotland are the only sovereign body and not a parliament on the banks of the Thames in which our representatives are a small and permanent minority which can be sidelined and ignored, but what we don’t necessarily agree on is what choices the sovereign body that is the people of Scotland should take.

A striking thing about the movement for Scottish self-determination is that it is characterised by people who are not demanding independence because they believe that Scotland is better than anywhere else. They’re certainly not working for independence because they hate the English. The overwhelming majority who are involved in this campaign seek Scottish independence because they recognise that there is so much that is wrong with this country, and it needs to be fixed. This is country which is scarred by inequality, riven by social injustice, divided by access to wealth. This is a country whose assets, resources, capital, and people have historically been bled for the benefit of the economy of London and the south east. Scotland isn’t a poor country, it’s an impoverished one. Scotland is a country where for too long people have learned to be passive, to be quiet, to dree their weird. That needs to change, and the only ones who can change it are ourselves.

A Westminster which makes political choices in its own interests, without considering Scotland’s needs, without listening to Scotland’s voices, isn’t going to fix those problems. All too often that Westminster parliament and the parties which inhabit it have a vested interest in ensuring that Scotland’s problems continue. The only people who are going to face up to Scotland’s problems, to tackle them, to solve them, are the people of Scotland.

These are things we can all agree on. What we don’t necessarily agree on is what the solutions are. But it’s unproductive, it’s self-destructive, for our movement to tear itself apart on questions which we can’t start to address until after independence has been achieved. Before we can argue about whether we want a shot on the swings or the roundabout, we have to get to the playpark. First of all we need to establish the principle of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland.

In this coming year, we need self-discipline. This isn’t about egos, this isn’t about personalities. This is about building visions of a better Scotland. Refraining from attacking other independence supporters doesn’t mean “wheesht for indy”. You can still, you should still, put forward and develop your own ideas, and if those ideas are seen to have merit then others will adopt them. You can do that without getting into fights with other independence supporters who have different views. The only people who benefit when independence supporters attack one another are the British nationalists. All of us who seek independence have a common interest in showing up the shortcomings and contradictions of British nationalist arguments, if there’s any verbal attacking to be done that’s what we should be attacking.

This year we need to be visible. You might not like rallies, but that doesn’t mean attacking those who attend them. Not everything in the indy campaign is about converting No voters. We also need to think about our own morale and our own resolve, and when you are an activist in a movement which is under seige by an overwhelmingly British nationalist media, you need the comfort, strength and support that comes from being in the presence of others who share your dreams. Because we are all too often marginalised and sidelined by the media, it’s all the more important that we raise our profile and become visible to the wider community. If you don’t like the idea of rallies or demonstrations, we always need more Yes hubs, we need more canvassing, we need more public events, we need more street stalls in town and village streets. The best form of criticism is to do your own thing and to make a success of it.

We need to support the existing pro-independence media and to encourage and support new initiatives. It is ironic that independence supporters spend far more to support anti-independence media than they do supporting pro-independence media. We need newspapers like The National, we need glossy magazines like iScot, we need video projects like Broadcasting Scotland, Indylive, Phantom Power.

But more than anything else, we need more yes groups. There is already a network of groups across the country, but there are still gaps. By the end of this year we ought to have local groups in every town and district in Scotland. Those groups are going to be the backbone of the coming campaign, and local activism in those groups will do infinitely more for the independence cause than picking fights on Twitter with people who have Union flegs in their avatars because they say they’re not nationalist at all.

Above all else, that’s the message of the Year of the Dug. Get involved. If we want to change Scotland, we need to do it for ourselves. Get involved and change the world.


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.