The DIY project

We’re in the calm before the storm. A constitutional crisis is on the horizon and is heading our way, when it breaks it could threaten the entire basis of the devolution settlement and undermine the foundations of the British state. It could be the thread that unravels what passes for a Union and leads to another independence referendum. So in this period of relative calm, it’s perhaps a good idea to get back to basics, and to restate the fundamentals of Scottish independence.

Contrary to the much propagated myth so beloved of British nationalist politicians and the British nationalist press, the number of Scottish independence activists who want independence because they hate the English can be counted on the fingers of a boxing glove. The number who are actually prominent and influential in the campaign are even fewer than the number of people who’ve sat through a speech by James Kelly MSP and thought, “My. That guy is charismatic.” People don’t want independence because they hate anyone. That’s a convenient bit of disinformation put about by those who don’t want folk to engage with the independence debate, a bit of disinformation that feeds into a long standing English prejudice against Scotland, that Scotland has no culture or identity of its own other than an atavistic hatred of England, that Scotland can only be defined by reference to England. Independence isn’t about defining Scotland by reference to England, it’s about defining Scotland by reference to Scotland. That’s why British nationalists are so afraid of it, a self-defined Scotland is a Scotland that doesn’t need Westminster.

The real reason that the vast majority of independence campaigners seek independence is because they are dissatisfied with Scotland. It’s because they recognise that this country has so much in the way of potential, but that potential is being squandered. Scotland possesses an embarrassment of natural and human resources, but those resources are being wasted and the country is riven with inequality, scarred by social injustice, and debilitated by poverty.

Scotland is marked by poverty, but Scotland isn’t a poor country. Scotland possesses resources, talents, skills, and opportunities which most countries would envy, but they are being wasted. The products of our labour, the capital and skills that Scotland produces are being syphoned off. Scotland is not a poor country. It is an impoverished country. When British nationalists tell us that we can’t afford independence, they’re telling us that Westminster has ripped us off for centuries and we need to stay with those who’re ripping us off. It’s like telling someone with a lodger who robs from their wallet that since they have no ready cash they need to keep their lodger.

The impoverishment of Scotland means that those kids playing on the wasteground in one of Scotland’s big housing schemes still face the same restricted and narrow life chances that their parents and grandparents faced. They are capable of so much better. They deserve so much better. We all deserve better. Independence campaigners seek independence not for its own sake, but because they want to make Scotland a better place, because they want a Scotland where all of its citizens can reach their full potential.

Scotland needs independence because Scotland is broken and it needs to be fixed. For generations the people of Scotland have waited for Westminster governments to fix this country, but they’re the ones who’ve created the problems. They’ve had plenty of opportunities. All the way through the Thatcher era we waited patiently, praying for the Messiahs of Labour to deliver us, and when the day of redemption finally came we got Public Finance Initiatives, we got the war in Iraq, we got the tombstone teeth of Tony Blair. Now we have Jeremy Corbyn preaching salvation through the British parliamentary road to socialism, but even if he does get elected he’ll only offer us five years. Then it will be back to Tory business as usual. Scotland has a natural left of centre majority. The only way to keep the Tories at bay for good is through independence.

Scotland needs independence because it’s the only way to ensure that we get governments which reflect the needs and desires of the people of this country. Brexit has illustrated the democratic chasm that exists in the UK. Scotland is not an equal partner in a family of nations. When it doesn’t suit the interests of Westminster, Scotland can be ignored, sidelined and ridiculed. Right now the interests of Scotland are subordinate to the internal party needs of the Conservatives. The political imperative to keep the lid on internal Tory divisions is greater than the need to ensure that Scotland’s needs are met. We’re being dragged into a damaging hardline Brexit, because it suits the Conservative party, and Scotland isn’t being consulted or even kept informed. It’s a disgrace, and it traduces what passes for democracy.

All this is happening because Westminster politicians cannot be held to account by the people of Scotland. As long as Scotland remains a part of the UK, we will be governed by people who are not accountable to us. That means that they will not listen to our concerns, will ignore our voices. Scotland needs independence because politicians of any hue cannot be trusted. We need to keep them close to us, so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet. It’s a lot easier to do that in an independent Scotland where the government is elected by the people of Scotland, is accountable to the people of Scotland, and where it is constrained by a written constitution which places sovereignty firmly with the people.

If we want a country that truly reflects our values and how we see ourselves and wish the world to see us, we need independence. If we want to walk in peace amongst the nations of this Earth, we need to get rid of Trident. We can’t do that with Westminster. If we want to spread the message of tolerance and respect for migrants and those who choose to honour us by making their lives in Scotland, we can’t do that with a Westminster which pursues a xenophobic Brexit. If we seek to build a better country for the future, we can’t do that by being enthralled to the past in a UK that fetishises WW2, the Empire, and Royalty. If we want to reach out to the world and to be a part of it, we can’t do that by reducing ourselves to what we can see through the narrow and constricting letterbox offered to us by the UK. If we want to look in the mirror of politics and see a true reflection of ourselves, we need our own mirror.

Independence campaigners want independence because they recognise that their maws and grannies were right. Those strong women knew that if you want something done, you need to dae it yersel. We need to fix Scotland ourselves. Let’s get working. We have a DIY project to attend to, and we’re going to make something beautiful.


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.


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

The Stan Laurel of Scottish politics

Deep in a dark cave, eroded away over the millennia, covered by thousands of years of lime deposits, are the very faintest traces of some of the oldest art work ever created, scratched into the rock by early humans. Those enigmatic engravings have a higher profile, are more accessible, and are more relevant to modern society than anything that ever comes out of the mouth of Labour’s shadow Scotland Secretary. Say the name Lesley Laird to your average punter and ask who she is, and at best you’ll get a vague look and a shrugged shoulders suggestion that she might possibly be a minor character in a soap opera. And that would be true.

To give her credit, Lesley Laird has realised one notable political achievement, and it’s something that is pretty considerable. It’s an incredible attainment that most neutral observers would not have thought possible, but Lesley has managed it. Go Lesley! No really, just go. The Shadow Scotland Secretary is even less effective and has less of a presence as a voice of Scotland in Westminster than Fluffy Mundell. Lesley’s voice for Scotland is an acoustic miracle, bats can’t detect it.

It’s quite remarkable that even those of us who follow Scottish politics obsessively hardly know who she is. Could you recognise her from a photie? I rest my case. That means either that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party doesn’t prioritise Scotland, or that Lesley is even less useful and more inept than a man who is widely likened to a stuffed toy. Or both, because those two options are not mutually exclusive. Her great contribution to the branch meeting of the Labour party’s Scottish franchise was to call for the Scottish Government and the British Government to release information that they’d already released. This doesn’t inspire confidence that she’s actually paying attention.

Lesley wasn’t the only remarkable politician of note to attend the conference. This was Richard Leonard’s first gig as branch office manager, and Richard is himself a remarkable man with a singular talent. Unfortunately that talent is that he doesn’t just make Iain Gray seem lively, witty, charismatic and charming, he also makes James Kelly seem lively, witty, charismatic and charming. Listening to Richard Leonard is the aural equivalent of mogadon, only without the attention to detail, finesse, and incisiveness that comes from being out of your tree on major tranquillisers. However because Richard is originally from England, criticising him is, at least in Richard’s book, anti-English racism and it’s wrong.

It’s safe to say that despite the expectations of the British nationalists of a Westminster parliamentary road to socialism persuasion, Labour’s Scottish branch office conference didn’t exactly set the heather alight, even though Scottish Labour peer Mike Watson, Baron of Invergowrie, is Jeremy Corbyn’s education spokesperson in the Lords and he’s an actual arsonist. That’s not to say that there was no fire at the conference, it’s just it was of the wrong sort. It started badly when the party confused its founder Keir Hardie with Oliver Hardy, which is an easy mistake to make when your branch manager at Furst Meenister’s Questions is difficult to distinguish from Stan Laurel. And it’s a very fine mess that you’ve got your party into, Richard.

There was plenty of fire and fury. It was mostly directed at the only people in politics that your average Labour party in Scotland politician hates more than the SNP. That’s other Labour politicians. The blue, or rather red, touchpaper setting much of it off was the Jezza himself. Admittedly the venue wasn’t exactly stowed to the rafters, more people have turned up at pro-indy events to see my dug than showed up to listen to Jeremy Corbyn in Dundee, and that’s not just because the dug is considerably more photogenic. If Richard Leonard is the Stan Laurel of Scottish politics, Jezza was channelling another meme from the 1930s, this time xenophobia and hatred of immigrants. According to Jeremy, immigration drives down wages and causes lower living standards and that’s why he’s against freedom of movement. It might have been dressed up in the language of socialism, but it was the exact same argument as you hear from Ukip. You can put a red dress on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

Ian Davidson and Kezia Dugdale both took to a fringe meeting to describe Jezza’s speech as the kind of thing that Nigel Farage would have been pleased with. Ian also had an argument with MEP Catherine Stihler with whom he had only recently launched a party group pressing for UK membership of the single market after Brexit after Ian accused her of publishing misleading information. Labour Hame editor Duncan Wossisname had a fall out on social media with MP Danielle Rowley after Danielle apparently told him that he was welcome to leave the party if he didn’t like the Jezzacult. Meanwhile Jeremy and his followers were accused of blocking debate and trying to shut down their critics within the party. There are fewer fall outs and fights on Big Brother. The periods of peace and internal agreement within the Labour party in Scotland are shorter in duration than the length of time that a Ukip party leader holds office, and that was previously recognised as the shortest measurable unit of political time.

Labour remains hopelessly divided over Brexit. The leadership is trying to ram through a hard Brexit policy which most party members and supporters don’t support, one which is particularly lacking in support in Scotland. Scotland needs migration, and most of us – especially those of us who are ourselves descended from migrants, from Ireland, or Poland, or indeed England – know that our families have heard the kind of language used by Jeremy Corbyn before, and it was language that was used to justify attacks and discrimination against us. Migrants benefit our economy and our society. They bring much needed skills and experience. They help to create a society that’s open to the world and they enrich us with their presence. Labour under Corbyn is betraying the principles of Keir Hardie. No wonder that they couldn’t even spell his name properly, they’ve lost all sight of what he stood for. Labour in Scotland is no longer the party of Hardie. It’s the party of Stan Laurel that’s got itself into a fine mess.


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.

Och, Jeremy Corbyn

On Wednesday evening I did a talk in Motherwell for the local Yes group. The venue held 120 people, and it was full. Many thanks to the organisers for a fantastic evening. It was great to see that interest in the cause of independence is undiminished in Lanarkshire. One of the questions I was asked was how do we as independence campaigners respond to people who are attracted to the message of Jeremy Corbyn, a Labour leader who seemingly promises a return to socialist policies for Labour, and who presents himself as the opposite of the discredited Blairite and Brownite factions which previously dominated the party.

In his past pronouncements, Jeremy Corbyn has shown that he has a tin ear as far as Scotland is concerned. He has more sympathy and understanding of the issues around Latin American politics than he does about Scotland, and if he’s honest he’d admit that he finds Latin America more interesting too. Nevertheless he campaigns on a platform of social justice, renationalisation, and the redistribution of wealth, the very issues which attracted many working class people to support the independence movement in 2014. To some of those people, Jeremy Corbyn’s politics offer the prospect of achieving those same goals. Naturally they’re going to be attracted to his vision.

For most campaigners for independence, independence is not a goal in itself, it is the means by which we can effect much needed change in Scotland. It’s important not to lose sight of that. There would be little point in campaigning and labouring to achieve the independence of Scotland if all we were to end up with was the exact same social divisions, the exact same deprivation, the exact same poverty and social exclusion, the exact same unaccountability of those in power, just all tied up in a pretty tartan bow. For independence to be worthwhile, it has to be about making the lives of ordinary people in Scotland better, it has to be about improving the lot of those who struggle, and it has to be about making our political system more accountable and more responsive to the needs and demands of the people.

Trusting Labour to deliver is in itself a very big ask, it cannot be denied that Labour has historically promised all sorts of things which working class campaigners and socialist activists have dreamed of, and which it has signally failed to follow through on. It has been Labour party policy since the foundation of the party to abolish the House of Lords. We’re still waiting. Labour has never done anything to strip private schools of their financially privileged status as so-called charities. It took Labour 80 years to deliver on its commitment to a Scottish Parliament, and when it did finally deliver the party did all it could to strip that parliament of powers. It’s thanks to Labour that broadcasting wasn’t devolved to Scotland, making Scotland and Wales the only self-governing nations in Europe without public service broadcasters of their own. Labour’s perfidy makes for a very long list. The party may be led by Jeremy Corbyn now, but its ranks are still full of the placepeople and careerists who have let us down repeatedly in the past.

But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party is that even if we do show good faith and trust it to deliver, it only offers a short term fix, and that to only some of the issues facing us. Corbyn has little interest in the devolution settlement, he has no great interest in constitutional matters, and he has not presented any comprehensive plans to change what passes for a UK constitution. Voting for Corbyn makes it less likely that Scotland will have an opportunity to decide for itself what sort of future it wants, because his party is just as likely as the Tories to block an independence referendum. We’ll still have the House of Lords. We’ll still have the unrepresentative first past the post voting system for UK General Elections. Corbyn might be sincere, he might be able to get the sullen and uncooperative Blairite and Brownite factions of his party to cooperate with him, or at least not to block him, but after a few years there will be another General Election and we’ll be back to Tory rule again.

All this assumes that Corbyn’s Labour party can get into power and can achieve a majority of seats in Westminster. That is by no means a given. There is no natural left of centre majority in England which has by far and away the largest number of parliamentary seats. Even when faced with what is possibly the most inept, the most incompetent, the most divided government in living memory, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party still can’t command a substantial lead in the opinion polls. To have any confidence that he can be the next Prime Minister, Labour really ought to have a lead over the Conservatives that is 10% or more. Yet opinion poll after opinion poll has shown that despite the utter waste-of-spaceness of Theresa May’s government, despite it having as much of a clue about how to deal with Brexit as a goldfish does about airbreathing, Jeremy Corbyn still can’t achieve a breakthrough in the opinion polls. Over the last few months, the gap between Labour and the Conservatives has been about 3% or less. Opinion polls have a margin of error of 3%, which means that statistically Labour and the Conservatives are tying. Just how bad does Theresa May’s party have to get for Jeremy Corbyn to be able to beat her convincingly in the polls? They’re already doing appallingly badly and Corbyn can’t beat her.

This does not inspire much confidence that in a future General Election Labour will be able to defeat the Conservatives. If he does soften his position on Brexit he risks losing support in the pro-Brexit areas of the North of England. If he adopts his own preferred position of a harder Brexit, he risks losing support in London and the large cities and amongst younger voters.

One thing is sure, and that is that it won’t be Theresa May who is up against Jezza next time. If there is to be a General Election it will only be after the Tories have knifed Theresa in the back and there’s a new Conservative leader who will go into a General Election during his or her honeymoon period, with all the puffery and goodwill from the media that that entails. The media in the UK is biased towards the Conservatives. That’s simply a fact, and it’s not one that is going to change just because Corbyn supporters think it’s unfair. As a supporter of Scottish independence, all I can say is welcome to my world.  Realistically however, the chances of Jeremy Corbyn being the next UK Prime Minister are rather less than 50-50. Those aren’t good odds on which to stake your future.

Voting for Corbyn means making it harder to get rid of the Tories forever. I’d prefer to get rid of the Tories permanently. Even with much of a supine Scottish media backing her, even with their dogged determination to cooperate with her in avoiding any difficult questions, Ruth Davidson still fell a very very long way short of attaining a majority in Holyrood. There is a natural left of centre majority in Scottish politics, a natural left of centre majority which doesn’t exist in England. If you are a supporter of socialism or social democracy in Scotland, it makes far more sense to vote for parties which are going to facilitate the opportunity for independence to come about because then we will have the opportunity to make the permanent and lasting changes that this country so badly needs.

In a nutshell, voting for Corbyn means getting rid of the Tories for five years. Voting for Scottish independence means getting rid of the Tories forever. Corbyn is the short term fix, it’s far better to have the permanent one.


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 upside of a statue to Thatcher

Having voted for the Liberal Democrat Jo Swinson as their MP in the General Election last year, the good people of East Dunbartonshire must have been thrilled to hear that she has proposed that a statue should be erected to commemorate Margaret Thatcher. There’s a priority for you. Jo Swinson was born in 1980, which means that she was a small and politically unaware child during most of the Thatcher era. Mind you, she’s a Lib Dem, so it’s not that unreasonable to point out that she’s still politically unaware as an adult. However her age as well as her anti-independence and tacitly British nationalist politics do mean that she doesn’t appreciate the visceral nature of the feelings that Thatcher evokes in those of us who had adult experience of her time in power.

I went to a comprehensive in North Lanarkshire, and left school in 1979, the year that Thatcher became Prime Minister. Out of childhood, into young adulthood in the ground zero of Thatcherite devastation. Her government and her policies blighted my community and my life, like they did to so many lives and communities across large swathes of the UK. The coming years were to be marked and deformed by impoverishment, the shrinking of horizons, the cruelty of blaming the poor for the suffering inflicted on them by the rich, and a nasty and all-pervasive sexism, homophobia, and racism that was pandered to and fostered by those at the very top of government.

It certainly wasn’t just Scotland which suffered, but in Scotland the bitterness of de-industrialisation was made worse by the fact that not only did Scotland not vote for Thatcher, Scotland had only recently narrowly failed to achieve a devolved Scottish Assembly. In part that was because Labour backbenchers had, to their eternal shame, pauchled the 1979 devolution referendum by insisting that 40% of the entire electorate had to approve the plans. Although a majority voted in favour, much the same majority in percentage terms as voted in favour of Brexit, it should be noted, those voting in favour failed to surmount the artificial 40% hurdle. In the fall-out, the Labour government of James Callaghan collapsed and Thatcher won the subsequent General Election, leading to endless complaints by Labour MPs that SNP MPs had ushered in the Thatcher era by failing to support the Labour government. That would be the same Labour government which had been undermined by its own backbenchers.

However Labour’s devolution bill in 1979 also failed to secure a sufficiently large majority in that year’s referendum because the Conservatives had urged Scotland to reject Labour’s plans for Scottish self-government and promised us “something better”. That something better turned out to be Margaret Thatcher, a Prime Minister who rejected any possiblity of Scottish home rule out of hand, and who stood before the Conservative party conference and proudly announced herself to be an English nationalist. Along with the cruelty and heartlessness of Thatcher’s rule, Scotland also suffered the bitter taste of betrayal.

People self-medicated on alcohol and drugs in an effort to cope with the hopelessness of lives without prospects, of an existence where there was nothing on the horizon but drudgery and struggle. I remember Mikey, one of my friends in Easterhouse who died of an overdose weeks before his 21st birthday, a kid who never had much of a chance in life and who saw Thatcher’s policies snatch away what little hope he once had.

Thatcher’s era coincided with the AIDs epidemic. As a young gay man in a working class community in the West of Scotland, struggling against homophobia and an epidemic which was killing thousands of gay men, Thatcher’s government added Section 28 which legally institutionalised bigotry and hate. I have no patience for younger LGBT people who support the Conservatives, people like Ruth Davidson who say that she hardly remembers Thatcher and that we should get over it. All I can say is that I remember it, and those of my generation can never get over it. You don’t get over witnessing your friends die while the Conservatives fed a gutter press that sought to demonise you. If you forget the bigotry and homophobia that Thatcher stood for, you risk allowing its repetition.

Thatcher’s great legacy was to justify greed, and to turn selfishness into a virtue. She began the assault on the post-war consensus that said that everyone in society has a responsibility to everyone else. Thatcher began a process of undermining the social security network that guaranteed a basic standard of living for all. She sold off public services in the name of an ideology of private avarice. She began the process of widening the gap between rich and poor which has grown into a chasm today.

Thatcher claimed to love the British state, but she hollowed it out from within. All the nationalised companies which once supported a British identity, British Steel, British Coal, British Airways and all the rest, Thatcher sold them off one by one. Now all that is left to prop up a British identity are the armed forces, the BBC, the royal family and the Westminster parliament itself. She destroyed what she said she held most dear, and indirectly paved the way to the modern Scottish independence movement.

We already have memorials to Thatcher. There are the fields where factories once stood. There are the silent streets where shipyards once bustled with activity. There are the quiet homes of grandparents whose children had to emigrate in order to find work and whose houses are never filled with the laughter of their grandweans. There are the graves of countless Mikeys who died far too young. There is no need for a statue to commemorate Thatcher, but there should be a memorial to commemorate her victims.

Still, there would be an up side to a statue of Thatcher in Scotland. It would generate jobs, because security guards would be needed to protect it from angry citizens with hammers and blowtorches, and cleaners would need to be employed to remove the graffiti and the thrown paint. And best of all, if there is to be a statue to Thatcher in Scotland, it will give us something to topple once we become independent.


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.

Five guys named Woe

That didn’t last long. Within a day and a half of Theresa May’s Road to Brexit speech, the speech whose main purpose was to signal the road to Conservative unity, the party’s at handbags at dawn again. You know that you’re in trouble when the ruling party in a country contains more drama than you’ll find in a single episode of a reality TV show featuring everyone who has ever appeared on Big Brother. Only far less mature than that suggests. The speech was billed as Theresa’s big pitch to bring the entire country together behind her vision of Brexit, but she couldn’t even manage to get her party together. They were indeed lining up behind her, it’s just they were doing so in order to stab her in the back.

On Friday Theresa May set out a vision of Brexit that was wide-ranging, ambitious, and which even contained moments of grandeur. The problem was that it was also completely unmoored from anything approaching reality. It’s all very well elaborating on the flavours that you’ve already hinted at in previous fudges, but there’s very little point in producing a detailed recipe for a cherry topped cake so that you can win on Bake Off when the EU has already told you a thousand times that this is news and current affairs and not some cheap attention seeking publicity stunt featuring Ruth Davidson. Although given the output of the British nationalist media in Scotland you could be excused for not appreciating the distinction.

By Saturday night, the Conservative grandee and Thatcher-era minister Michael Heseltine was telling anyone who’d listen that May’s speech was as useful at getting the UK closer to a Brexit deal as presenting Jacob Rees Mogg with a squealing infant producing some suspicious smells and expecting him to change its nappy. In fact that’s pretty much what the UK has done with the EU, presented it with the soiled nappy of Brexit and demanded that it cleans up the mess. Heseltine pointed out, quite reasonably for once, that it doesn’t make things any better to dress the dirty nappy up with a cherry on top. The first rule for any successful politician ought to be that they deal with reality, and not some fantasy. If Margaret Thatcher was the Iron Lady, Theresa May is the Denyin’ Lady.

Saying that she’s aiming for a Brexit that works for Britain is like saying that you’re aiming for a crack habit that works for you. In 18 months the Prime Minister hasn’t budged an inch, but she still calls for everyone to get behind her. She’s still in thrall to the hard Brexiteers of the European Reform Group, still determined to press for a Brexit that the EU has repeatedly stated she’s not going to get, still not being honest with the public about the damaging economic consequences of Brexit. Delusion is the new consensus, denial is the new realism. The only way that remain supporters are going to get behind Theresa May would be to push her and her Brexit bus off that cliff of her own making. Theresa expecting everyone to enthuse and support her vision of Brexit is rather like telling Sylvia Plath that you’re organising a tupperware party to help cheer her up.

Not that the Tory right cares whether us plebs get behind Theresa’s Brexit or not. They’ll enrich themselves whatever happens. The Eton boys with their Oxbridge degrees and hedge fund management will stir up the right wing press against an ‘elite’ that strangely never seems to include them. Brexit will be a bonfire of regulations that protect the less well off from the depredations of the powerful, but they’ll tell us that they’re doing it all in the name of freedom. It’s just that they’re doing it for their freedom and not ours.

The Tory right is what you get when you distill the essence of English exceptionalism and spray it on the UK like the product of a skunk’s anal glands. We won the war but we’re still out on penalties to Germany, let’s blame those Brussels bureaucrats with their unbent bananas. It’s all the fault of migrants, not big businesses bleeding money out of the public sector. The Tory right wants us to believe that everything can be solved with a little bit of Dunkirk, conveniently forgetting that Dunkirk was a defeat. The fig leaves of Union have fallen and rotted, Brexit has exposed the UK as a project of a backward looking and reactionary English nationalism.

Labour is little better. Its own divisions have exploded this weekend as Kezia Dugdale announced she was launching a campaign within the Scottish branch office to support membership of the single market and customs union. You might think that it would have been better for her to do this before she resigned and waltzed off to the jungle to make cake from kangaroo testicles and shredded her reputation in the process, but this is Labour in Scotland we’re talking about here. Foresight isn’t their strong suit. Although to be fair neither is hindsight, and they would be challenged by looking right then left then right again before crossing the road. The party is struggling to come up with a coherent policy on Brexit because they still haven’t worked out a way of blaming it on Thatessempee that the anti-independence press is likely to swallow. Even though that’s setting the bar pretty low.

The entire UK is threatened because the overriding priority of the Conservative party is to keep a lid on its internal divisions. The entire UK is threatened because the Labour party is trying to face two ways, its leadership supporting Brexit while trying to keep a lid on a party in which the majority is opposed. The UK is divided, weak, the laughing stock of Europe, the sick man of the developed world, living on nostalgia and WW2 fantasies of standing alone. The British government is being driven by the delusions of the hard Brexiteers, blind to the harm and damage that they’re causing. Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Morgue, David Davis, Liam Fox, and Michael Gove, the UK is being held hostage by Five Guys Named Woe.


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.

Extra cherries on the Brexit cake

The Prime Minister Theresa May delivered her much anticipated speech on Brexit on Friday, in which she was expected to lay out some detail about what sort of Brexit the UK hopes to achieve. This was Theresa’s long awaited “Road to Brexit” speech, a phrase which half the country can no longer hear without humming along to the song Road to Nowhere by Talking Heads.

You knew that the speech was going to be full of meaningless guff as soon as she started because one of the first things she said was “I want to be straight with people.”  That’s always a bad sign from Theresa May.  She was going to make a pitch to the entire UK to get together behind her vision of Brexit, so there was a lot of waffle of the sort that you get from a reality show contestant who’s making a plea not to be turfed out of the competition. About the only thing that Theresa May didn’t mention was that the EU should give the UK everything it wants on Brexit because the UK’s wheelchair bound grandmother died of cancer, while Theresa told us with tear streaked cheeks that keeping her career alive was the most important thing in the whole world. We already know that’s the most important thing in the whole world to Theresa.

The people who Theresa May smeared as “saboteurs” and citizens of nowhere are expected to wave Union flegs and smile and get behind her. Just because. There was nothing in the speech that might count as a substantial concession to the half of the UK who voted to remain. There was certainly nothing which counted as a concession to those parts of the UK, like Scotland, which voted to remain. We’re all expected to shut up and do what we’re told. Yes, you’re going to lose your rights as EU citizens. Yes it’s quite likely that you’ll lose the right to work and settle freely in Europe. But taking back control! Sovereignty of Parliament! Trade deals with Burkina Faso and Belarus!

There was bugger all that counted as a substantial pitch to remain voters, and there was precious little of a pitch to other EU countries either. May’s pitch to Europe is that the UK expects a soft Brexit without having to comply with any of the necessary conditions of a soft Brexit, and it expects the EU to come up with a mechanism to make that work. She wants a soft Brexit, but also a hard Brexit at the same time. She wants no hard border on the island of Ireland, and no customs border in the Irish sea but she still demands that the whole of the UK is going to leave the customs union and the single market and there’s no plan for how to achieve any of that. She wants a free trade deal that encompasses finance and broadcasting as well as other services and manufacturing, she wants no trade tariffs, but she also wants no membership of EU agencies, no EU regulation, and full and free access for the UK to EU markets, but no plan on how any of that might be made to work other than a vague hope that Michel Barnier is actually Santa Claus.  Brexit is a big problem that the British government expects the EU to solve.

After all that what we’ve learned is that the British government still expects that slogans on the side of a bus are realistic options. The UK remains as delusional as ever. It doesn’t matter how many times that the EU tells the British government that it can’t cherry pick, that it can’t have its cake and eat it, that leaving the customs union and the single market mean tariffs, customs checks, and trade barriers, the British government still thinks that sticking its fingers in its ears and going la-la-la we’re not listening is a valid negotiating position. The UK remains so arrogant, so out of touch, so lost in its own reveries of lost Empire, that it actually believes that it can dump all the problems caused by Brexit on the doorstep of the EU and expect the EU to solve all of them. The UK doesn’t merely want to have its cake and to eat it, it wants that cake to be full of eggs and cream but still to be suitable for vegans.

So in summary, the British prime minister wants the UK and the EU to remain close. She wants them to retain free and unhindered trade in goods and services. She wants no border on the island of Ireland. She wants the UK and the EU to have regulations that work in harmony. We already have all of this. It’s called EU membership. The only person who is more confused than the Prime Minister is ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, formerly of the BBC, who when asking a question introduced himself as “Robert Peston BBC”. Theresa was delighted as it proved she’s not the only person in the room who was living in the past.

The reaction from the EU hasn’t been positive. A prominent German politician, Manfred Weber, remarked that after hearing Theresa’s speech he was even more concerned than he had been before. “After what I have heard today I am even more concerned. I don’t see how we could reach an agreement on #Brexit if the UK government continues to bury its head in the sand like this.” Guy Verhofstadt, who is in charge of Brexit in the EU Parliament, released a statement saying, “We can only hope that serious proposals have been put in the post. While I welcome the call for a deep and special partnership, this cannot be achieved by putting a few extra cherries on the Brexit cake.”

Scotland didn’t rate a mention. The Conservative government’s assault on the devolution settlement wasn’t worthy of any justification. At the end of her speech, Theresa was asked about Scotland by a questioner, and how Scotland could be reconciled to Theresa’s vision of Brexit. She chose to ignore the question and instead we got some patronising guff about the need to keep the UK together. She doesn’t care whether Scotland is reconciled to Brexit or not, and the harsh reality for people in Scotland who still oppose independence is with the way that the UK is constituted, Theresa May and Westminster governments don’t need to care whether Scotland is reconciled to their decisions or not. Scotland will do as they say, and Scotland will have no means of expressing its disagreement. How’s that equal partner in a family of nations working out then?

So here are five key points for Scotland to take from Theresa’s speech and the Brexit process:
1. Scotland’s voice counts for nothing in the UK. Our vote to remain is ignored by the Conservatives.
2. Scotland’s interests will always be subordinated to the interests of the ruling British party.
3. The British government will use Brexit to undermine and weaken the devolution settlement.
4. The British government will lie, dissemble and cheat, because it expects that there’s nothing Scotland can do about it.
5. If we want to change this, it’s up to us. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.


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 real reason they call it Perfidious Albion

While the nations of the UK are snowed under by the Beast from the East, the bumblin from London is getting mired in the shit from Brexit. On Wednesday the EU published the first draft of the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU, which was based on things that the UK government had agreed to last year in order to progress negotiations to the next stage. Predictably, the British government has reacted to the draft treaty with yet another illustration of the origins of the phrase “Perfidious Albion”.

Theresa May, doing an extremely convincing impression of a Prime Minister who has no clue what has been going on for these past eighteen months or so, reacted with umbrage, outrage, and just plain old harrumphage. No British Prime Minister could possibly agree to the things that Theresa had agreed to in December, and she has no idea why Michel Barnier might imagine that the British government would agree to a guarantee to Ireland that it had agreed to last year. She might not be clear about many things, especially not when she says she’s been very clear, but she’s definitely clear about that.

The Prime Minister has no idea why the EU might all of a sudden and entirely unexpectedly bring up a guarantee to the Irish that the British government had signed up to several months ago just because it was now publishing its draft of the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. That Irish guarantee thing was so last year, back when David Davis was still dissembling about the existence or non-existence of the impact papers, and those were totally different circumstances unrelated to what’s happening now. We’re in a different political landscape nowadays, one in which the Irish border looks very much like the London Congestion Zone.

Last year, in order to ensure that the Brexit negotiations could progress further than Michel Barnier rolling his eyes at David Davis while David fumbled with the egg and cress sandwich he’d got from Greggs in preparation for the talks, the British government had agreed that in the absence of any alternative deal on the Irish border issue, the British government would ensure that Northern Ireland would remain a part of the EU Customs Union after Brexit. The UK’s negotiating position is now that while this issue was being discussed, David Davis was not in fact fumbling in his briefcase for his egg and cress sandwich, he was in fact crossing his fingers, which as everyone knows means that he doesn’t have to abide by what he promised. So there. Nyah, nyah, nyah. Take that, Brussels bureaucrats. This is Great British negotiating. These are the skills that the British government will use to negotiate super-dooper trade deals with Burkina Faso and Belarus.

Not surprisingly, the Irish government is less than best pleased that the British government is trying to renege on what it agreed to last year. After all, in the past 800 years or so, the attitudes of governments on the Thames towards Ireland have always been characterised by respect, honesty, and an abiding concern to do the right thing. That is, if you define colonialisation, theft, land-grabs, mass slaughter, ethnic cleansing, and famines as respect, honesty, and an abiding concern to do the right thing, which even less surprisingly is precisely how some British nationalists define them.

What Theresa was very certain about was that no British Prime Minister would permit the EU to draw a border down the middle of the UK. It’s only the UK that’s allowed to draw borders down the middle of countries, like it did with Ireland and India. But the EU hadn’t actually said that. All the EU was saying was that the UK has signed up to a treaty guaranteeing that there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland, and it had reiterated that promise last year during negotiations with the EU. The UK can leave the Customs Union if it wants, but it has signed up to ensuring that there can be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of Ireland, and that means that Northern Ireland must remain a part of the Customs Union. If Theresa May thinks that it is unacceptable that Northern Ireland is treated differently from the rest of the UK, that’s not Michel Barnier’s problem.

As far as the EU is concerned, it’s entirely up to the UK to come up with solutions that can square that particular circle, solutions which the UK has so far failed to detail other than Boris Johnson’s wittering about congestion zones and meaningless waffle from the British government about technological solutions. Time is running out, Brexit is looming in a mere 13 months and so far the UK has done diddly squat. It’s taken the Dept of Work and Pensions eight years to come up with a technological solution to Universal Credit, and that’s still a disaster zone, so the signs and portents are not looking good.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Thatessempee’s Ian Blackford asked Theresa if she believed that the four nations of the UK were equal partners in the Union as she’d claimed that they were back when she was trying to persuade Scotland to vote no to independence. The correct answer is of course, “Don’t be foolish you silly little Celtic person, it’s only people who lose referendums who need to be held to account.” Uncharacteristically Theresa was unable or unwilling to lie and claim she really believed they were, possibly because there was no handy egg and cress sandwich from Greggs to disguise her crossed fingers. Besides, if she’d said that they were, people in the lesser nations might hold her to it, and she had had quite enough of the mess that causes from the uppity Celtic types in the Irish government. She certainly didn’t need any more snash from the Scots and Welsh, and certainly not when she’s got former Prime Minister John Major biting her ear as well. It’s like being savaged by a bichon frise puppy, and losing badly.

There are only three ways to solve the Irish border question, a united Ireland, a special deal for Northern Ireland involving customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, or for the entire UK to remain inside the customs union. None of these are palatable to Theresa May because she lacks the support within her own party in order to enforce any of them. The only way to solve the looming constitutional crisis between the devolved parliaments and Westminster is for Westminster to concede that all devolved powers currently exercised by the EU must return to the devolved parliaments. That’s not palatable to the Conservative government either, because Theresa May lacks support within her own party in order to enforce it and the hard Brexiteers would rebel if she tried.

The UK is mired in confusion and political incoherence because the first, and only, political imperative of the British government is to keep the Conservative party together and to placate its frothing fantasists who still dream of empire. Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are all to be sacrificed on the altar of Tory Brexit fantasies. The real reason that Albion is perfidious is because it is governed in the interests of a small and selfish elite and not the interests of Albion. The price of keeping the Conservative party together will be the the failure of the British government to keep the UK together. There are more and more of us who won’t mourn its passing.


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.