Gutted like a fish

“Well that was totally unexpected and absolutely no one could have predicted that it would happen. I never saw it coming,” said the guy who walked out into the middle of the M8 during rush hour and was run over by a fish lorry. That’s pretty much the response of Scottish Conservative supporters to the news that Theresa May’s government has sold out the Scottish fishing industry in order to secure some progress during the Brexit negotiations with the EU. This is a development that everyone who isn’t a supporter of the Scottish Conservatives was warning about. You can’t trust a Tory with a Scottish interest. They’ll only either sell it, betray it, or shoot it. Or sometimes all three. Just ask Bambi’s maw.

The fishing industry is important politically and psychologically in Scotland. As a contributor to the UK economy it’s pretty dwarfish and the UK’s Brexit team thinks dwarfish is a type of mackrel, a wet fish they’re using to slap Scotland about the face. There was never the slightest doubt that the Westminster government would sell out Scotland’s fishing communities in order to gain some traction for negotiations on matters that they actually care about – like the right of the City of London to keep money laundering for obscenely wealthy Russian kleptocrats, or selling bombs to the Saudis so that they can drop them on Yemeni hospitals.

The little cohort of Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ at Westminster are doing a not entirely convincing impression of impotent rage. They’re going to bring down Theresa May’s government if they don’t get their way, according to some of the headlines in a British nationalist press that for once isn’t able to blame the SNP for what has happened. If only the Tories had poisoned the fish stocks with Novichoks, then they could run story after story about Thatalicsammin having a telly show on RT. Instead they have to put up with Adam It’s The Law! Tomkins looking like he’s chewing a wasp, which to be honest isn’t that much different from the look on his face every time he tells Holyrood that everything is illegal. However back on planet Earth we all know that there is as much chance of the Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ voting down Theresa May as there is of Nicholas Witchell taking a dump in the Queen’s handbag.

It now transpires that no one in the Scottish Conservatives was told in advance that the government they support was going to sell them out on the issue that saw many of them elected – the promise that Scotland would regain control of its fishing grounds after Brexit. However since the only one of them who enjoys cabinet membership, David Mundell, the Secretary of State for Stuffed Toys and Gutted Fish, wasn’t even invited to the UK Government’s Brexit planning talks, it wasn’t exactly earth-shatteringly unexpected that no one in Westminster could be arsed enough to keep Ross Thomson in the loop. The great Russian writer Tolstoy once wrote that when we dig down into the very deepest and darkest recesses of the human psyche, we discover unpleasant little things that ought to have lain there unnoticed. He was clearly thinking about Ross.

The Tories broke the only significant promise that they had made to Scotland during the general election of 2017 as soon as they were elected when they backed proposals for Westminster to seize control of the devolved power over fisheries from Holyrood, and now they’ve broken it again because the EU will retain control over fishing quotas during the transitional period after Brexit. Only it’s much worse, during that period the UK will not be involved in negotiations to set quotas, it will only be “consulted”. As a member of the EU the UK is at least involved in the discussions to set fishing quotas, now the UK’s representatives won’t even be in the room when their future is debated. So now they know what it feels like to be Scottish. The UK will remain fully subject to all EU rules and regulations, but won’t have any opportunity to vote on them. How’s that taking back control working out for you?

But the UK will be consulted in the same way that Westminster consults with Holyrood over Brexit, so that’s OK right? But not to worry, Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ are now promising that after the transitional period they will definitely absolutely positively pinky promise honest to God deliver on it after Brexit when they have ensured that Holyrood can’t do anything about it and they won’t have any leverage on Theresa May. See? Sorted. You can trust the Tories. Bambi’s maw will vouch for them.

Some Tories are trying to salvage a little piece of dignity from this slap in the face with a wet fish from their own government by pointing out that the SNP want Scotland’s fishing industry to remain subject to EU fishing regulations. And that would be true. The difference however is that the SNP want Scotland to have its own voice and vote in EU matters as a member state in its own right, which means that Scotland would be involved in the negotiations and would have a vote and a voice in setting fishing quotas, and wouldn’t settle for a crappy deal as a squid pro quo for allowing the City of London to keep flogging financial products and luxury properties to dictators who’ve made all their money by theft.

The Tories promised that Scotland would regain control over its fishing grounds because they said that the current situation didn’t allow Scotland a say, but what they’ve actually delivered is even worse than the current situation. It’s a bit like a plastic surgeon who says that he can make you more handsome with a nose job, and then he amputates it. The Tories have cut off Scotland’s nose to spite the EU’s face.

The Tories took a bad situation and made it worse. Now the nearest thing that the UK has to a fishing policy is the fact that Michael Gove looks like a startled goldfish. Scotland would find that a dead goldfish stood up for it more effectively than Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™. It’s time Scotland treated the Tories like a dead goldfish, and flushed them away.


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.

Happy 1000th to The National

1000front

They said it wouldn’t last, that it would disappear just as soon as the Yes movement evaporated away after the No vote in the 2014 referendum, but 1000 issues later and The National is still going strong. Congratulations to Callum Baird and all the team for working their wee socks off to produce the only daily newspaper that gives the views of half the population of Scotland a fair shake of the stick. And as a special incentive to support the paper, if you subscribe you can get a bottle of The National’s very own exclusive Still Yes whisky.

We complain a lot about the media in Scotland, especially those of us who support and campaign for independence and feel frustration that our opinions struggle to get heard against the constant barrage of SNPbaddery and scare stories and threats telling us that Scotland would uniquely incapable of doing all the things that every other independent nations manage to achieve. However it’s a fact that those of us who support independence are still far more likely to spend our hard earned cash supporting British nationalist and anti-independence news outlets than we are to support the few pro-independence outlets that we do possess. If you support independence, there’s only one daily newspaper for you, and that’s The National.

The National faces difficulties that other newspapers don’t face. It’s a national publication so doesn’t have the regional focus of the Herald, based in Glasgow, or the Scotsman, based in Edinburgh. The National also faces the concerted hatred of British nationalists who resent the fact that one single daily newspaper dares to break the anti-independence consensus they’d enjoyed for so long. Callum Baird, the editor of The National, has been called a conspiracy theorist by certain Scottish journalists for stating that people actively hide copies of The National in shops in order to make it more difficult for customers to find the paper. But the reason Callum has said that is because when he and I do public meetings of The National Roadshow events, readers have told him that they’ve caught people in the act of hiding the paper! British nationalists in Scotland feel so threatened and weak that they’re scared of one single daily newspaper. Let’s give them something to feel terrified about.

As a regular columnist for The National, I’ve got a vested interest in supporting the paper, but the fact is that having a daily print newspaper gives the Yes movement a toehold in the mainstream media that we wouldn’t otherwise possess. That gives us a legitimacy and a credibility that we’d otherwise struggle to achieve, particularly since prominent independence campaigners are less likely to appear on our TV screens than those who support the British state or who are happy to criticise the SNP and the vast majority of the traditional press has no interest in giving the cause of independence a fair hearing. The National gives us a national platform and a voice that we would otherwise be deprived of.

Since The National pays its contributors, it helps to support a community of pro-independence writers and journalists who would otherwise be marginalised and ignored. Writing for The National gives me a little bit of financial security and that’s what allows me to write and campaign for independence on a full time basis. I’m proud to be associated with The National, and proud that it speaks up for Scotland.

If we want to see another 1000 issues of Scotland’s best newspaper, we need to support it. If we want to see the front cover that we all long for – SCOTLAND SAYS YES – then we need to support The National. You can subscribe to the digital edition or subscribe to the print edition. Or you can order a copy from your local newsagent and then you never need worry about it not being available.

Support it, buy it, share it. Here’s to another 1000 editions.

Click the following link to subscribe http://www.thenational.scot/subscribe/

Stooges of the Kremlin

There was an editorial in the Guardian yesterday titled “Tackling the troll state”. For a wee moment I thought it was about Theresa May’s government trolling the people of Scotland, but then reality kicked in and I realised that this was the Guardian. It was really about Theresa May and the Russians. No one in the British media gives a toss about the unilateral dismantling of the devolution settlement by the British government. Not so much nerve gas as they’ve got some nerve.

For most of the Scottish media, the Salisbury nerve gas affair gives them another excuse, as if another excuse was required, to attack Thatalicsammin. This is after all what the British nationalist media in Scotland lives for. They’re even more upset than Thatalicsammin is that he’s no longer an elected politician in a position of power. The webpage of Thursday’s Herald contained no less than three prominent stories about the single most important story in the whole of Scotland, the fact that a former politician has a telly show on a niche channel that hardly anyone watches. The Tory unilateral power grab and destruction of the principles of the devolution settlement? Not so much. That only merits a whatever and a shoulder shrug from the British nationalist media in Scotland.

The Scottish media is natually devoting equal coverage to the even more important fact that Ruth Davidson received a substantial donation from the wife of a Russian oligarch who was Vladimir Putin’s deputy finance minister and chair of a Russian state controlled bank. That would be the Ruth Davidson who is currently a political leader serving as an elected politician in parliament and who is not a former political leader without any elected position.  Lubov Chernukhin, a Russian donor who has given the Tories £253,950, bid £20,000 to have lunch with Ruth, at an auction at the UK party’s Black and White fundraising ball earlier this year. Ruth is of course being hounded by the Scottish media in order to give answers as to why she thinks that accepting £20,000 from the family of a Putin crony is acceptable and why it’s a good idea for the leader of the Scottish Tories to schmooze with the family member of a Putin pal over an expensive lunch. Oh no wait. The other thing. There is equal coverage of Ruth’s accepting cash from Putin’s pals as there is of the whole Salmond RT thing, but only if you define equal coverage as “scarcely a mention”. There’s more pressure being put on Katy Perry to explain why she kissed a contestant on American Idol.

The Tories have received £826,100 in Russian money since Theresa May became Prime Minister. You might think that that’s a greater threat to our democracy, but apparently it’s far more important to criticise Thatalicsammin for appearing on RT on a show he produces himself without editorial interference from the Kremlin. Because you know, choices. London is full of Russian oligarchs, and full of expensive properties purchased with Russian money. London is one of the main financial centres used by the kleptocracy of Russia to launder its cash. Brexit serves that purpose well, it means that Russian kleptocrats will be able to continue to use London as a laundromat for their dirty money without having to worry about EU financial regulations. The Tories are keen to keep that cash flowing.

Vladimir Putin may be interested in weakening and undermining the British state, but as far as he’s concerned that can be filed under “job done”. The Tories did that for him with their EU referendum and their subsequent single minded pursuit of a hard Brexit. It doesn’t stop the British nationalist media from trying to paint the Scottish independence movement as being stooges of the Kremlin, but it’s not the Scottish independence movement that’s being courted by Russian oligarchs flush with large cash donations. That would be the Tories. If you want to know where Russian influence is being exerted, follow the money. It sure as hell isn’t in a Scottish independence movement that relies on grassroots funding and bucket rattling.

Putin most certainly doesn’t want the example of a small nation taking its own destiny into its own hands and making a far better job of it than the state which once controlled it. People tend to imagine that after the fall of the explicitly multinational Soviet Union that ethnic conflicts within Russia were ended. That’s very far from the case. The Russian Federation contains around 145 distinct ethnic and national groups, some of whom like the Volga Tatars number in the millions and who as recently as the 1990s were attempting to assert their sovereignty, others like the Chechen and the various peoples of Daghestan have active – and violent – independence movements of their own. An independent Scotland would give them an example that Putin would prefer to avoid.

The reality is that the Scottish independence movement is seeking to undo some of the damage that Kremlin influence has wrought in the UK. The rest of the UK can choose to go to hell in a handbasket, isolating itself from the EU and the rest of the world in pursuit of some fantastical post-imperial dream of Empire 2.0, but the Scottish independence movement seeks a prosperous and self-determined Scotland with strong links to other countries in Europe, and which acts as a strong advocate for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law. That’s precisely what Putin doesn’t want. A strong independent Scotland which acts in unison with its European allies doesn’t serve Russian interests. A weak and powerless Scotland which is controlled by a weak and isolated UK begging for money from Russian oligarchs does. That’s the kind of Scotland which people who write anti-independence Novichokkablogs advocate, not independence supporters.

While we’re all being distracted by accusations of Kremlin influence, the UK government is getting on with the task of undermining and weakening the devolution settlement and is not being held to account by a Scottish media that prefers to imagine that it’s playing a supporting role in some James Bond movie with Thatalicsammin as Blowfeld. The real supervillains threatening Scotland are not so super, they’re the ones in Westminster, but they’re not being tackled by a Scottish media that prefers to indulge itself in personal attacks on former politicians instead of investigating the very real links between Russian money and a Conservative party that’s destroying our futures. It does make you wonder who the stooges of the Kremlin really are.

There won’t be any updates to this blog until Tuesday or Wednesday next week as I’m off to London for a few days to visit with family.


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 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.


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 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.
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.

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

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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.