A few wee bits and pieces

iScot magazine is doing a subscription and fundraiser drive. There are over a million and a half supporters of independence in Scotland, yet collectively we spend vastly more supporting a media which actively campaigns against independence than we do supporting those few media outlets which do support independence or at least give it a fair shake of the stick.

iScot magazine is precisely the kind of publication that we need in order to reach out to soft No voters and undecideds. It’s a glossy features magazine, professionally produced and well-presented, which talks about Scotland in a positive way. It is well worth your support, and it’s definitely worth a subscription. You can find out more about iScot’s Spring 2018 subscription offer by clicking in this link. www.iscot.scot/offer

An annual subscription costs just £71.88 and will deliver a print copy of the magazine through your letterbox every month. As a special FREE offer, you’ll also receive a Scottish Passport Holder.

If you would like to make a donation to help support iScot, just type http://www.paypal.me/iScot/ followed by the amount in pounds that you’d like to donate, into the address bar of your Internet brower. So for example if you’d like to donate £25, type www.paypal.me/iScot/25 or if you’d like to donate £10 then type www.paypal.me/iScot/10 – or just click on the links just given.

We don’t know exactly when Scotland will have another independence referendum, but we do know that Scotland will have one. It’s imperative that we nuture and nourish or pro-independence media in the meantime, so that it’s fit and healthy and ready to make our case during the campaign ahead.

Wee Ginger Quotes

As you know, I’m planning to produce some Wee Ginger merchandise this year. I’d like your help. I’m the world’s worst judge of what’s good and what’s memorable in this blog, so please help me out by putting your favourite Wee Ginger Dug quotes in the comments section below. I intend to put them on T-shirts, mugs, and other merchandise.

Dug watching

And finally. I’ve not visited Spain since my late partner Andy passed away in 2014. I am seriously overdue a visit but don’t have anyone to look after Ginger while I am away. I hope to get away between June 3 and June 11, so if you’re interested in looking after the dug, please get in touch at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Ginger needs to stay with a dog lover who doesn’t have any other dogs. He’s very loving and affectionate with humans, but he’s not good at all with other dogs.


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.

Gaelic illiteracy

Here we bloody go again. Another example of Gaelic illiteracy from the Scottish media, with an ill-informed and ignorant anti-Gaelic rant in the Herald which, as is typical for this kind of discourse, displays a fundamental misunderstanding of how language works and an almost complete absence of factual knowledge about the Gaelic language itself. I say misunderstanding because I’m being kind, but it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the misunderstanding is wilful because this kind of guff keeps getting repeated no matter how often people who do actually understand these things patiently explain the facts.

Of course by writing this article I’m a part of the Gaelic mafia, and am trying to oppress and silence a poor wee journo who is only expressing his opinion. It’s just a pity then that his opinion is based on outdated stereotypes, prejudice, and a deep lack of any actual knowledge of his subject matter. Maybe people wouldn’t correct and criticise him if he knew what he was on about.  Just sayin’.

We’re talking here about someone who decided to write an article about Gaelic – and moreover actually got paid for it – but whose knowledge of Scottish languages is so woefully inadequate that he actually appears to believe that Scots is nothing more than a form of English which Scottish people have “coloured”, “derived from” and “distorted”. His knowledge of the role of Gaelic in Scotland is every bit as lacking. Here’s a wee tip for Scottish newspaper editors, see when you commission opinion pieces about Scottish languages, try and make sure that the person writing the piece has a modicum of knowledge about the topic.

The author of this article seems to have set out to allow us to play Gaelic Stereotype Bingo, and we all got an taigh làn. That’s the full house in Gaelic, in case you were wondering.

We got the social Darwinism klaxon. Languages do not expire because of some social Darwinism which is no one’s real fault and which is the natural result of free choices being freely made. They are murdered by states, strangled by negativity, and silenced by prejudice. The Gaelic language doesn’t suffer from a peculiar linguistic infection or a strange disease. It is not singularly inept at expressing the requirements of a modern society. If Gaelic is dying it is because it is being killed off. For the umpteenth time there is no free market in language use. Can the opponents of Gaelic not get that into their skulls?

No one wakes up of a morning and decides, Hmm, creo que hoy parlaré español or Hmm, tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gum bruidhneas mi sa’ Ghàidhlig an diugh. The choice of language that we use in our daily lives is strongly affected by the social capital that a society devotes to a particular language and whether there is a history of use of that language and a body of speakers of the language in a particular country. No one in Scotland wakes up and thinks “Hmm, I think that today I will speak Spanish,” because Spanish speakers in Scotland are few in number and widely dispersed. There is no history of Spanish use in Scotland, and no expectation that the language will be understood. So people don’t use it in their everyday lives in Scotland, even if, like me, they do speak it fluently.

There is however a history of Gaelic use in Scotland. Gaelic has in fact been spoken in the territory of modern Scotland for considerably longer than Standard English has, and for quite a bit longer than any linguistic variety that the likes of Herald opinion piece writers would describe as a deformed variety of English. There was until very recent times a substantial body of Gaelic speakers in Scotland, and those speakers were geographically concentrated in parts of the country where people could and did have a reasonable expectation that those that they encountered in their daily lives would speak the language.  In fact at one point in Scottish history, Gaelic was the dominant or only language throughout most of the country, including the Lowlands.

However a language can only maintain its social capital if the wider society invests in it. The use of English spread in Scotland because the state fostered and supported it, and at the same time fostered a set of negative attitudes towards Gaelic and Scots while depriving Gaelic and Scots of the same support and resources that were and are given to English. Education in Scotland has for the past few centuries had the aim of imparting English to Scottish children.  No one cared about imparting a knowledge of Gaelic or Scots and in fact for much of the past few centuries these languages were actively discriminated against.  Gaelic and Scots are now fighting for survival not because they are and always were minority languages in Scotland, but because they have been minoritised by a Scottish establishment which aped the linguistic ideals of the monoglot English British establishment.

The state devotes vast resources to the maintenance and spread of English, but this is not perceived by opponents of Gaelic as support for the English language. In a modern developed society a language can only survive if it is given the resources that it needs, dictionaries, textbooks, literature, social media, maps, television, movies. The state already supports in one form or another a vast wealth of cultural output in English, it’s only right and proper that it does the same for Gaelic and Scots.  In fact it must do so if Gaelic and Scots are to survive.  Some in the English speaking establishment in Scotland say that Gaelic is a dying language, and are determined to ensure that Gaelic is deprived of the resources it needs to keep living.  Gaelic for self-fulfilling prophecy is fàisneachd féin-choileanaidh.  For political reasons they seek to deny Gaelic and Scots the resources the languages need to survive and thrive, and then they complain that other people are politicising the languages because they want to be able to use them as normal languages.

The point of road signs in Gaelic or railway station signage in the language isn’t to provide a translation for monoglot Gaelic speakers who might get lost. It’s to make a public statement that this is a country which values and cherishes its Gaelic linguistic heritage. A sign in a railway station that says Pàislig is about giving a message to Gaelic speakers, but that message isn’t merely “You’re in Paisley”.  The additional message is that Gaelic is welcome and valued in Paisley and elsewhere in Scotland. Very often these signs are simply the correct spelling of a name that’s Gaelic anyway, like Àird Rosain / Ardrossan,  An t-Àrd Ruigh / Airdrie, or Cille Mheàrnaig / Kilmarnock.  The purpose of these signs is to give Gaelic speakers the confidence that they can and should use the Gaelic language as much as possible. Signs in Gaelic make a very public statement that the site of the sign is part of the proper range of the Gaelic language. That range is the whole of the territory of Scotland.

We also got the Polish klaxon. Every single article complaining about Gaelic feels the need to point out that there are more speakers of Polish in Scotland than there are speakers of Gaelic. However every single article pointing out that there are more speakers of Polish in Scotland than speakers of Gaelic equally fails to point out that the cultural and demographic centre of the Polish language is not in Scotland. Of course Scotland should encourage and support the Scottish Polish community in maintaining the Polish language, but in order to do so Polish speakers in Scotland can make use of the wealth of literature, movies, TV and other resources produced by the 38 million Polish speakers in Poland. Gaelic stands or falls by the resources produced for it in Scotland. The future of the Polish language does not depend on the resources that Scotland produces for it. The future of Gaelic does.

A vast amount of Scottish history is bound up with the Gaelic and Scots languages. That’s not true of Polish, Chinese, Urdu or any other community language spoken in this country. That doesn’t mean that taxpayers’ money should not be spent on supporting the usage of Polish and other community languages in Scotland, of course it should, but the fact remains that these languages have a demographic and cultural centre outwith Scotland, and they have never acted as vehicles for important parts of Scottish literature and cultural expression. There is nothing in Polish equal in its importance to a distinctively Scottish literature as the poetry of Sorley MacLean or George Campbell Hay, or as important as the ancient Gaelic chronicles which are the primary sources for early Scottish history. Place names formed in the Polish language do not define the Scottish landscape, place names formed in Gaelic do. All these reasons and more are reasons why Scotland has a debt to Gaelic and the major responsibility to keep the language alive, a responsibility which it does not shoulder with Polish.

The author of the Herald’s piece claims that “the language of the Hebrideans is harder to learn than trigonometry and almost unpronounceable.” For starters, Gaelic is not solely the language of Hebrideans, and by identifying it as such the author is attempting to downplay the significance of Gaelic for Scotland as a whole and to deny that the language is in reality the cultural property and inheritance of all of Scotland. Now it’s certainly true that Gaelic may be harder to learn than trigonometry and almost unpronounceable, but that would be only if you’re less capable of applying yourself than a three year old. Little kiddies can learn the language, but apparently big grown up Herald opinion piece writers can’t.  Maybe it would have been more honest for him to say that he doesn’t want to learn it.  That would at least have been more accurate.

It was once believed that young children have an aptitude for language learning which adults lost around the age of puberty. That’s now thought not to be true, but instead reflects more a difference in exposure to the target language and a difference in expectations about speaking it. No one expects a young child to have the fluency and competence of an adult native speaker, but adult learners compare themselves with adult native speakers, and not with young children. Children spend a very long time passively acquiring a language without actively speaking a great deal, and when they do start speaking they are not expected to produce complex statements with fluency and ease, whereas adult learners feel they have failed if they’re not speaking the language immediately. It’s true that language learning is a skill and that some people seem to be naturally better at it than others, but it’s also true that anyone can, with enough time, exposure, and motivation, learn any language.  All sounds in all human languages are, by definition of being linguistic sounds, pronounceable.

Gaelic spelling might be confusing to people who don’t speak the language, but so is English spelling.  There are rules to Gaelic spelling just as there are rules to English spelling.  Those rules are not the same, but Gaelic isn’t unpronounceable just because you’ve never learned the rules.  You personally might not know how to pronounce it, but that’s your failing, not a failing of the Gaelic language.  It’s no harder to achieve literacy in Gaelic than it is to achieve literacy in English.

All states spend a considerable amount of money supporting and protecting the cultural inheritance and heritage of the country. We spend money on museums, on sporting activities, on supporting music and the arts. We spend money on our built environment, protecting buildings considered to be of cultural value or which have historical significance. It’s only money spent on our linguistic heritage which attracts such ire.

But what really upsets the Gaelophobes and the Scots averse is any public acknowledgement that Scotland is not a monolingual English speaking country, because in making that acknowledgement we are also recognising that Scotland is a country with a culture, a heritage, and a history in its own right. And if that’s the case, then there must be rather more to this whole Scottish nationalism thing than an atavistic hatred of the English. That’s an admission that British nationalists in Scotland just can’t bring themselves to accept.


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.

Yes is consent, silence is consent, no is consent

The language of the British Government’s supposed concession to Scotland over the terms of Clause 11 of the EU Exit bill is breathtaking in its insensitivity. Insensitivity is what we have come to expect from a government which has deported British citizens of the Windrush generation and then expects them to be grateful for the supposed concession of giving them back something to which they were already fully entitled.

That seems to be something of a pattern with this Conservative government. They are stripping Scotland of something that is rightfully Scotland’s yet we are supposed to be grateful for the concession that they are only going to strip us of it in a humiliating way for a mere seven years. That’s if we believe their protestations that it’s only for seven years, and there are very good reasons not to.

What the supposed concession to Scotland actually says is that no matter what the Scottish Parliament says or doesn’t say about how UK ministers propose to use the devolved European powers that by rights ought to come directly back to Scotland, Westminster is going to interpret whatever Holyrood says or doesn’t say as consent. Look at the damage that the Tories have done in just two years, and now imagine what they can do in seven, without Scotland having any means of holding them to account.

Westminster is proposing to make an amendment to the Scotland Act which would say that with respect to devolved powers relating to retained EU law that UK ministers would only make a decision about the disposition of these powers after the Scottish Parliament has made a “consent decision”. It then goes on to define a “consent decision” as being an explicit granting of consent, a failure to grant consent, or an explicit denial of consent. To add to the insult, this amendment will naturally be pushed through the Commons without the consent of the majority of Scottish MPs. That’s how Scottish Conservatives can still tell the barefaced lie that the consent of the Scottish Parliament is still required, and tell themselves that they’re not actually lying. They’re only fooling themselves, and significant parts of the Scottish media.

Say yes, and it will be taken as consent. Say nothing, and it will be taken as consent. Say no, and it will be taken as consent. QC Jonathon Mitchell has described it as the rapist’s theory of consent.  Agree, refuse to engage, disagree. It doesn’t matter. Westminster has ruled that they all mean Scotland agrees with what Westminster wants to do.

Naturally the Scottish media is outraged by this fundamental betrayal of the devolution settlement. They are up in arms at this Conservative inspired assault on the very foundations of something that generations of Scots fought and campaigned for and wrested from a reluctant and unwilling Westminster. They’re explaining to the people of Scotland at length and in detail how what Westminster is proposing is a fundamental betrayal of both the devolution settlement and what Westminster promised the people of Scotland back in 2014. Oh wait, no. Silly me. The most important political news in Scotland today is the fact that Ruth Davidson is going to have a wean.

That’s the Ruth who stood up in Holyrood on Thursday and claimed that after the UK government has passed its EU Exit Bill, the Scottish Parliament would still have the right to consent to legislative change affecting the devolved areas currently exercised by Brussels which will be seized by Westminster. It does have that right, it’s just that absolutely anything that the Scottish Parliament says is going to be interpreted as giving consent. When yes means yes, and silence means yes, and no means yes, the right to give consent is even more meaningless than one of Ruth’s cheeky photo opportunities.

So if the Scottish Parliament were to vote that Holyrood did not give its consent to genetically modified crops, or chlorinated chicken, Westminster has just given itself the right to interpret that refusal as assent and to impose GM crops or chlorinated chicken on us anyway, telling us that we’ve agreed to it.

Yet all Holyrood is asking for is meaningful consultation and that agreement should be arrived at by mutual consent. Holyrood isn’t saying that Westminster should have no role in how these devolved issues currently exercised by Brussels should be dealt with after Brexit. It’s Westminster that’s saying Holyrood should have no role.  Remember how in 2014 we were told that if Scotland voted No we’d be a leading and loved equal partner in a family of nations, safe and secure in our membership of the EU? It turns out now that Westminster has given itself the right to interpret whatever Scotland says as whatever Westminster wants it to mean.

Some in the Scottish media are claiming that there is no popular and widespread outrage amongst the public at what they describe as highly technical and rarified changes to EU exit legislation. That’s a bit like saying that there’s no outrage from someone whose house has been burgled when you’re refusing to let them know that they’ve been robbed. The Scottish media hasn’t exactly gone out of its way to explain how the actions of this Conservative government derail and undermine the very basis of the devolution settlement, and now they’re saying that the lack of public awareness of the issue proves that they were right not to explain it. Move along, nothing to see here. It’s all just the SNP grievance mongering.

The partisan British nationalism of the vast bulk of the Scottish media stands exposed today. They are so terrified of independence, so afraid of publicising anything that explains how the actions of a UK government are damaging to Scottish interests, that they will not stand up for Scotland within the UK. Even on their own terms they are failing the people of Scotland. They might be happy with Westminster’s formula of “Yes means consent, silence means consent, no means consent”, but the rest of us aren’t.

Westminster is giving itself the power to do what it likes with the Scottish Parliament and has ruled that even an explict refusal from Holyrood will be taken as assent. It’s nothing less than a political declaration of war. Bend over Holyrood, Westminster is going to shaft you, and your refusal will count as a yes. If this isn’t the significant and material change in circumstances that the SNP manifesto of 2016 said would trigger a second independence referendum then nothing is. Enough is enough. Scotland has a choice. Independence or consenting to robbery even if we say no.

Many thanks to Phantom Power for the video. Subscribe to his Youtube channel here.


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.

Standing firm for Scotland’s interests

Westminster is using Brexit, something that Scotland didn’t vote for, in order to undermine something that Scotland did vote for. Those were words which Mike Russell used in Holyrood yesterday, words which I’m proud to say first appeared in this blog. That’s the fundamental issue here. Westminster is using the results of the Brexit referendum, which Scotland voted against, in order to undermine the result of a referendum which Scotland voted for, the devolution referendum of 1997.

There are a couple of ways of describing what’s happening with the matter of negotiations between Holyrood and Westminster about the EU Exit Bill’s power grab of devolved powers. You could follow the bulk of the Scottish media and say that the SNP stands alone in its opposition to a deal with the Welsh government has accepted. All of which kind of implies that Theresa May is considerate and conciliatory and the current impasse is all the fault of those nasty separatists. Or you could say that the Scottish Government is standing firm for Scotland’s interests in its opposition to the Conservative government’s attempt to use Brexit to undermine the devolution settlement, which puts the blame where it belongs. I prefer the latter.

There is far greater pressure on Wales to accept a deal from Westminster. Unlike Scotland, Wales voted in favour of Brexit. The Welsh government cannot allow itself to be seen to frustrate the Brexit process, a political imperative which is not felt in a Scotland where public opposition to Brexit is solid and remains solid. Support for independence in Wales remains at a fairly low level. The Welsh government cannot realistically use the threat of an independence referendum if Westminster doesn’t agree to Welsh demands. Cardiff is in a far weaker negotiating position than Scotland. The Welsh Senedd, which has fewer powers than Holyrood, also has less to lose.

But there’s another reason why it’s important that Holyrood continues to resist the attempts of Theresa May’s government to use Brexit to upend the devolution process. Holyrood and the powers it enjoys and exercises of behalf of the people of Scotland was hard earned. Holyrood does not have the power that it possesses because Westminster in its infinite wisdom willingly and freely gave them to Scotland out of the kindness and goodness of its heart. Holyrood only exists because of a long and arduous campaign. Scotland’s civic society had to fight Westminster every step of the way.

It took decades to wrest the devolved powers that Scotland does have out of Westminster’s grasping maw. Even when a Scottish Parliament was finally established, its powers fell far short of what was originally envisaged. That is why, to use one example, Scotland’s parliament does not currently have powers over broadcasting. Such a power was in the original white paper, it was proposed by the campaign to establish a Scottish parliament, but it was wheeched away at the last minute by a Westminster which is jealous of its power and which is unwilling to share any more of it than it absolutely has to. In that case it was Labour MPs who refused to concede the devolution of the power.  All the powers that Holyrood has were wrestled out of Westminster’s unwilling grasp.

We saw the exact same grudging unwillingness during the Smith Commission discussions after the Scottish independence referendum. The anti-independence parties used the Commission as an opportunity to compete with one another to see how many of the promised new powers they could take off the table without bringing the entire teetering process crashing down. They treated the Smith Commission as a game of devolution Jenga. We were told we were getting, in the gushing words of Jackie Bird in her infamous interview with Alistair Darling, “so devo max then”, and then Holyrood got powers over road signs and some limited powers over income tax which the Scotland Secretary boasted were a trap for the Scottish Government.

It’s important to understand this background, because Westminster wants us to believe that it will freely and willingly restore the devolved powers back to Holyrood after a period of time. History tells us that it will do no such thing. History tells us that if Westminster grabs back a power for itself then it will not return that power without a fight. We are where we are in these negotiations because successive Westminster governments have proven that as far as devolution and promises to Scotland are concerned, they cannot be trusted.

The Tory deal proposed that Westminster would exercise the devolved powers currently exercised by Brussels for seven years after Brexit, and would then return them to Holyrood. Pinkie promise. It’s a Vow. Honest. During that seven years, Westminster would have a free hand to decide for itself what it wanted to do with Scottish fisheries, Scottish agriculture, and Scottish interests that ought to be devolved. Westminster is not proposing that any such changes should be made and implemented with consultation with Holyrood, never mind with Holyrood’s consent.

The problem with this proposal is that, as Westminster is very fond of telling us, the decisions of one Westminster Parliament cannot bind the decisions of a future Westminster Parliament. Westminster’s sovereignty is absolute in what passes for a British constitution. After seven years have passed there will have been at least one Westminster General Election. That means there are not and cannot be any guarantees that this future Westminster will regard itself as being bound by an agreement between Theresa May’s government and what Westminster regards as a subordinate body. And remember, here we are dealing with a Westminster which has proven itself untrustworthy in its dealings with Scotland. How’s that Union of equals working out for you all?

Scotland must continue to resist Westminster’s attempts to unilaterally undermine the devolution settlement. We campaigned long and hard for devolution, we’re not going to allow Theresa May to weaken and undermine it because the Tories find it politically inconvenient. This issue goes to the very heart of the question about whether Scotland within the UK can get what the people of Scotland vote for, and that’s a question that increasingly looks like it can only be answered in the negative.

England’s vote in referendums must be respected, Scotland’s, not so much. That’s the democratic deficit of the UK for you. There’s only one way Scotland can get what Scotland votes for, and it’s not as a subordinate part of the UK.


 

Meanwhile, and on an entirely unrelated topic, there’s been a wee bit of discussion amongst people posting on this blog about ad homs. Here’s how to do ad hom.

We must have fallen through a hole in the fabric of space time into one of the more baroquely bizarre universes in the multiverse. Sometimes you want to be erudite and witty, but facts are facts and the fact is that Jacob Rees Mogg is an absolute bell end. Some people worry that Jacob is the kind of person that the British establishment and certain sections of the English press and public would accept as a dictator. He’s already part way there, he’s been a dic for quite a long time. Jacob is the kind of person who’d demolish your house and then complain about the noise and disruption caused by the rebuilding work.

Jacob makes you wish that you could invent a time machine so you could go back and bully mercilessly him at school in order that he’d be left with a lifelong crushing sense of inadequacy, and then none of us would have to thole that insufferably smug face of his and his reeking stench of entitlement. If the fact that this creature is being seriously touted as a leader of the Conservative party and as a potential Prime Minister doesn’t make you question the collective sanity of the UK’s politics, then bugger all will and there’s no hope left.

Jacob, who supported the repeal of the human rights act, voted in favour of the Conservatives’ anti-immigration measures, and who spoke at the annual dinner of the far right Traditional Britain group, apparently believes that the scandal of members of the Windrush generation being deported is all the fault of socialism. That’s the Jacob who fully supported Theresa May’s measures to create a hostile environment for migrants. You know what they say about lies. If you repeat a lie often enough then people start to believe it, or in Jacob’s case it becomes a headline in the Daily Mail. Although to be honest you don’t need to repeat a lie for it to become a Daily Mail headline, since they’re all lies to begin with.

There is however a kinder explanation, and that is that Jacob has confused socialism with “being a cynical appeaser of racists because knuckle dragging Daily Mail and Express readers have a vote too.” It’s an easy mistake to make, at least it’s an easy mistake to make if you’re Cuthbert Cringeworthy from the Bash Street Kids who grew up and joined the accountancy branch of the Gestapo.

With this self-serving politician on the make we have the living breathing proof that in the UK, an upper middle class background and the self-confidence that comes from an expensively purchased education will get you a lot further than actually knowing what you are talking about. You can sum up all that is wrong with the British class system in just four syllables, Ja.cob Rees Mogg. Jacob is famed for his impeccable manners, but just because you’re a bastard politely doesn’t make you any less of a bastard. It just makes you a hypocritical bastard. The fact remains that he’s an upper middle class chancer aping an aristo and like all chancers on the make he doesn’t get it quite right. The only bit of his schtick that’s convincing is that he does a very good impression of the devastating effects of inbreeding. Jacob is nothing more than a sixth toe in a double breasted suit.


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.

Things worth despising

Some British nationalists are trying to stir up some controversy because SNP MSP James Dornan said on Twitter that he despises being a part of the UK. Cue major harrumphage from the usual suspects, those British nationalists who are always the first to claim victimhood status in defence of the right of the British state to rule unchallenged. That vile cybernat MSP says that he hates every single person in the UK. He hates the baby prince. He hates little babies! Help, help, we poor British nationalists who are not nationalists at all are being oppressed by that horrible and nasty separatist. He’s saying nasty things about us!

It’s perfectly justified to say nasty things about a state which does nasty things. When someone condemns the actions of the British state, only a self-serving fool would believe that the condemnation extends to every single person in the British state. But Twitter is full of self-serving thin-skinned fools prone to anger, and so is British nationalism. Put the two together and you have a recipe for outraged idiocy.

James made the comment in relation to the UK government’s treatment of the Windrush generation of migrants. A cohort of people who arrived in the UK from what were the Colonies, having been told that they were British, having been told that the so-called Mother Country needed them. They arrived here to discover that their lives and opportunities were blighted by racism. Then that British failure was compounded by a Home Office which, in order to placate the howling bigots of the right wing press, told them that having lived and worked in the UK for almost all their lives that they were no longer welcome here. People who worked in the NHS for decades were told that they were not entitled to NHS treatment. People lost their jobs and their homes. Families were split up. All because Theresa May wanted to create a hostile environment for migrants, in pursuit of the approval of racists.

James has a point, and he’s certainly not the only one who despises being a part of an uncaring, xenophobic, and increasingly parochial Disunited Kingdom which prides itself on nothing but an exceptionalism which is entirely imaginary and is based on distant memories of a cruel and rapacious Empire. The truth is that the United Kingdom is and always was an exercise in exploitation. The UK began its life in 1707 as an invitation to the Scottish establishment to join with their English equivalents in the theft of resources and people, from Africa, Asia, and the Americas. British imperialism was based on the exploitation of working class people in Britain and Ireland, and on the exploitation of those countries which it pleased the British state to call its colonies.

British imperialism expressed itself in Scotland and Ireland with the imposition of an religious-ethnic hierarchy in which people of Irish and Gaelic Catholic origin were firmly at the bottom of the pile, for generations denied opportunities, jobs, and decent housing. The fact that the major working class expression of British nationalism in Scotland and Northern Ireland is still the bigotry of an Orange Parade tells you all you need to know about the nature of the British state. British nationalism in Scotland and Ireland is not and never was an exercise in inclusivity.

We live in a state in which people dependent on state aid are demonised and vilified, yet a large majority of people receiving financial help from the state are employed. We live in a state where it is not possible to work your way out of poverty, where the gap between the rich and the poor is amongst the widest in the developed world and is a chasm which yawns increasingly wider. 60% of families living in poverty are headed by people in work. We live in a state whose housing policies have created a generation of young people who are increasingly unlikely to ever own their own home and who will rely for the rest of their lives on precarious private rentals because that same state has destroyed the stock of social housing.

People don’t support Scottish independence because we think that the UK is a wonderful place. We support it because we believe it to be a dysfunctional state which is incapable of reforming itself. We support Scottish independence because being a part of the UK is damaging to Scotland’s interests and this country could do so much better if it were not shackled to a state which does not have Scotland’s interests at heart, and which lies and dissembles to the people of this country. We support Scottish independence because we despise a British establishment which creates its own wealth and privilege at the expense of the majority. We support Scottish independence because we seek a remedy which works for Scotland, a remedy which can act as an example to the rest of the UK.

If the British state wasn’t despicable, we wouldn’t be seeking to leave it in the first place. The reason that British nationalists hate the desire for Scottish independence so much is because Scottish independence isn’t driven by a belief that Scotland is better than anywhere else. Its motive force is not a hatred of the English or anyone else. The campaign for Scottish independence is driven and motivated by the failures and inadequacies of a British state that doesn’t work for all its citizens and all its constituent parts. It doesn’t work for all its citizens and constituent parts because that’s precisely how the British state was set up to work.

But rather than look at the legion of sins of the British state, rather than atone for its many victims, the poor, the dispossessed, those suffering the racism of the Home Office, the generation of young people who will never enjoy secure employment or accommodation, apologists for British nationalism would rather carp about those who condemn the failures of the British state. They have the utter gall to imagine that they are the victims instead of those whom the British state victimises. That’s pretty despicable.


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.

Scraping beneath the bottom of the Vow barrel

It’s the political corpse that keeps coming back from the dead. Every time you think it’s dead it pops back up again. It’s been battered over the head. It’s been blown apart. It’s been forensically dissected and the pieces packed up and sent into orbit around whatever planet it is that Wullie Rennie comes from. But it keeps on coming back again in a series of increasingly disappointing sequels. It’s come back to life more frequently than Christopher Lee in a Hammer Horror Dracula movie, and it’s every bit as life-blood sucking. It has been repeated more often than people have copied the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch, only without the originality or the punchline. Yes, proposals for a Federal UK have crawled out of the grave again.

This time it’s Richard Mr Charisma Leonard who is the convert to federalism. Richard clearly believes that he’s the man who’s perfectly placed to scatter some sparkly magic glamour dust on a dry and dusty cadaver and revive it so that it can join him in a song and dance number on Britain’s Got Political Talent. He had previously displayed as much interest in constitutional issues as Theresa May had shown in the welfare of immigrants, so his new found fascination with federalism might just have rather more to do with having something to say to the people of Scotland in order to stave off the second independence referendum that is looming on the horizon than it does with any deeply felt belief in the transfer of power to Scotland.

Federalism isn’t going to happen. It’s not so much that it’s a lost cause as a cause that never had any chance to begin with. Fighting for a lost cause is a noble pursuit, like fervently hoping that the Scotland fitba team might actually qualify for something eventually. There’s nothing noble in this revival of plans for federalism. It’s a cynical exercise in trying to derail the independence movement being touted by a man who never had any interest in the idea before he decided it could save his political skin.

The Tories have absolutely no interest in any proposals for federalism, except as a carrot forever out of reach which they can dangle over the heads of a gullible Scottish press and a considerably less gullible public. We can forget about it as long as the Conservatives are in power. The Conservatives are only interested in destroying the power of the Scottish parliament, not in entrenching and strengthening it. Expecting a Tory to collaborate in increasing the power of Holyrood and giving it a constitutional status where it’s safe from unilateral actions by Westminster is like expecting Donald Trump to be nice to James Comey.

It’s not going to happen when Labour gets back into power again, even if it were certain that Labour would win the next UK General Election. Introducing full-fat federalism is a considerably more complex and comprehensive alteration to the fundamentals of the British constitutional settlement than abolishing the House of Lords, and look how much progress Labour has made in its commitment to abolish the Lords. They’ve only been promising it for 100 years and when they did have the chance to do something about the anti-democratic upper house with its legion of hereditary peers, they replaced that unfair system with the only thing that was even worse, a second chamber filled with unelected appointees there on the grace and favour of the Prime Minister. If Labour were to introduce a bill on federalism, they’d only abstain on it.

Proposals for a federal UK are ever only taken seriously in Scotland, and they have one purpose and one purpose only, which is to create a pretence that real and substantial constitutional change is possible within the UK, and so Scottish independence isn’t necessary. UK federalism isn’t really about changing the UK, it’s really about preventing Scottish independence. It’s just another vow to add to the pile of broken promises.

UK federalism isn’t going to happen, because England doesn’t want it. It really is that simple. If you require any proof of that, then just look at the reception that Richard’s proposals for federalism have received south of the border. It’s not exactly rapturous. It hasn’t even been noticed, and it hasn’t been noticed because no one cares. UK federalism is a distinctly Scottish Unionist hobby horse, and no one in a position of power and influence in England is getting on for the ride. When what they perceive as the English parliament already controls all the power and all the influence, what possible motivation do they have for giving any of it up? What is going to lead English politicians to break with their favourite fetish of the absolute sovereignty of the Westminster parliament and to destroy the constitutional principle which has underpinned English nationalism for centuries? Helping Scottish Unionism get out of a spot of political difficulty isn’t going to cut it.

Proposals for UK federalism propagate the charmless lie that the UK really is a union of nations, which are equal partners in a family. That’s not how the UK is seen by the English nationalism which underpins British nationalism and the British establishment. The UK is a unitary state which is dominated by the interests of the rich and powerful in the south east. They’re not going to allow anything that threatens their stranglehold on the wealth and resources of the UK.

A promise to Scotland from British nationalist parties that they’re serious about introducing federalism isn’t credible, so it even fails as propaganda. It’s scraping beneath the bottom of the Vow barrel. We’ve been down this road far too many times in the past to give Richard’s idea any credence. What the revival in proposals for UK federalism do tell us is that the British nationalist parties are very worried indeed about the Scottish independence movement. They know we’re not going away, they know we’re getting ready for a revived and refreshed campaign. They know that they have absolutely nothing left in their armoury because a new independence referendum means that all their lies and deceit from the last time round are going to stand exposed. When you hear a British politician talk about federalism, you know that they’re getting desperate and they know they’re going to lose.


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.

We’re all bastards from Newsnet now

When independence campaigners who are compelled to pay a licence fee on pain of criminalisation complain about how the BBC doesn’t reflect their views, and demand that the Corporation refrain from its anti-independence bias, they’re accused of trying to silence journalists and being enemies of democracy. It now transpires that it’s the BBC which has been silencing journalists, and if silencing journalists makes you an enemy of democracy then that would be the BBC.

The broadcaster and comedian Hardip Singh Kohli has reported that during the independence referendum campaign that he was told by a BBC Radio Scotland manager that his name appeared on an email list of Yes supporting individuals whom the Corporation would not invite onto its news and current affairs programmes. There is naturally no bar on appearing on BBC news and current affairs programmes if you oppose independence, because opposing independence isn’t bias at all. Oh no.

The news comes as the Corporation revealed its plans for its poxy wee Caledonian Ghetto Channel, to be launched later this year on a shoestring budget, broadcasting on a channel lost in the depths of the EPG for a few hours each evening. The new channel is the BBC’s answer to demands for a Scottish Six hour long news programme on BBC1. It’s pretty obvious that the Corporation intends to hive Scottish programming off into a minor channel that few will access, to underfund it, and then to claim that there is no demand for Scottish progamming. It’s another example of how Scotland is being sidelined and marginalised by the BBC. Get back into your box Jocks.

The BBC denies that it has any blacklist of pro-independence campaigners, and you might be surprised to hear that I actually believe their denials. In the small and cliquey world of Scottish broadcasting where everyone knows everyone else there is no need for an official blacklist. An unofficial one would work every bit as effectively. There are certain people who are “our pals”, and certain people that “we” don’t want to give airtime to because they’re not “our pals”. There may be no official blacklist, because an official blacklist would certainly call into question the BBC’s supposed impartiality, and would open up a legal and political can of worms for the Corporation. Why bother with all that hassle when an unofficial blacklist works every bit as effectively.  A nudge and a wink and private conversation in the pub achieves the same thing, and it’s entirely deniable.

I don’t wish to name any names, because this was told to me in a private conversation, but it’s not just Hardip who has been cast out into the wilderness by the BBC. Another prominent independence campaigner, someone who once appeared regularly on BBC news and current affairs programmes to give their view on the Scottish politics of the day and who had a distinguished career in broadcasting, told me recently that since 2014 their broadcasting invitations have virtually dried up.

Unlike Hardip, who is now seeing aspects of his personal life being tossed around on social media by British nationalists like dogs with a rotting bone, this particular individual has never been involved in any scandals or controveries, public or private. It’s pretty obvious that the sole reason that their broadcasting career has died a death is because the BBC doesn’t wish to give airtime to articulate and informed independence campaigners who can lend an air of credibility to the cause of independence.

The lesson from the bosses of BBC Scotland is very clear. If you want to support independence, then your career in broadcast journalism is at an end. If that’s not silencing journalists and being an enemy of democracy I don’t know what is.

The Corporation does of course invite a couple of pro-independence people on to its news and current affairs programmes, but invariably those are people who lack a prominent standing within the grassroots independence movement, and are people who have displayed a willingness to criticise that movement as much as they’ll criticise the British establishment. So if you are an independence supporter who wants to get on the telly, the best way to do so is to start criticising other independence supporters. Because apparently the British establishment is really keen to foster diversity within the Yes movement. And if you believe that I have a licence fee to flog to you.

I’m pretty sure my name appears on that list that doesn’t exist too. I write two weekly columns for The National, I do most of the public speaking for the newspaper at its public Roadshow events, and while I don’t like to blow my own trumpet I’m told that I’m one of the columnists who does best for the paper on social media. I write this blog which is one of the top ten politics sites in Scotland, and unlike most of the sites which appear in that ranking, this is a single author site and not a multi-author one. The editor of The National has told me that he has given my contact details to the BBC on several occasions.  Unlike many columnists for the paper I actually live within easy travelling distance of the BBC’s Pacific Quay studios, but I’ve never once heard from the Corporation. I don’t expect to either. The wee clique that controls the Scottish media has as low an opinion of me as I do of them. I’m not one of their pals and have no wish to be.

I’m quite sanguine about the fact that I’ll never be invited on BBC Scotland to talk about politics and current affairs. I was involved with Newsnet Scotland, and am one of those people once described by former BBC Scotland director Ken McQuarrie as “those bastards from Newsnet”. When you have spent as much time and energy as I have complaining about how the BBC marginalises and excludes Scottish independence supporters in an effort to resist the normalisation of independence, you can’t really be surprised that the BBC doesn’t want to give you airtime.

But that caveat doesn’t apply to many, and perhaps most, of the other names that appear on that BBC Scotland nudge nudge wink wink blacklist that has no need to really exist. We’re all bastards from Newsnet now.


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.