The Sewer Convention

It’s been a good week for the Scottish independence movement. The British nationalist parties have proven beyond any shadow of doubt that they fail even on their own terms and are incapable of defending Scottish interests within the context of the UK. The SNP has, at last, finally found some bottle and is no longer going to play like good little girls and boys according to the rules of a game which is stacked against Scotland. The grassroots indy movement is reengerised and enthused and thousands of people have signed up to the SNP and many more are getting involved in the local independence groups which are reorganising and reestablishing themselves across the length and breadth of Scotland.

Meanwhile, lost amongst the fire and fury of the SNP walkout. Ewok Mundell has announced in the Commons that according to the British Government’s understanding of the Sewel Convention, the British government can unilaterally take action to change, reduce, or alter the powers of the Scottish parliament when no agreement can be reached with Holyrood. Which as James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop points out shows that Mundell has just rewritten the bloodied and tattered remnants of the Sewel Convention to mean that instead of consent “normally” being required from the Scottish Parliament before Westminster can alter devolved powers, now consent only needs to be sought. That in turn means that the British government can propose any such changes or alterations to devolved powers as it pleases, and if the Scottish government doesn’t agree then the British government can go ahead anyway. In fact according to Mundell, the British government is required to act under such circumstances. Not so much a Sewel Convention then, as a Sewer Convention allowing Scottish powers to be flushed away at will.

In effect, the Sewer Convention means that Westminster can dispose of devolved powers as it likes and the consent of the Scottish parliament is not required. That’s a huge difference from the previous understanding of the Sewel Convention and on the face of it is a massive reinterpretation from what was previously understood as the position. There are only two possible explanations for this apparent change.

Firstly it could be that Mundell’s declaration has been the intent of the British Government all along. This would not be surprising, amongst other developments this week we’ve seen Remainer Conservative MPs complaining that their own government has been dishonest and disingenuous in the supposed guarantees it gave to them to stave off a parliamentary rebellion earlier in the week. If this Conservative government isn’t even prepared to deal honestly with its own MPs, then uppity Scots have got nae chance at all. It is entirely plausible that when the Conservatives signed up to the Smith Commission and agreed to enshrine the permanence of the Scottish parliament in law and to give the Sewel Convention legal force, they never had the slightest intention of abiding by it. That’s why they framed it in such a manner so as to give themselves a get-out clause as wide and broad as the gap between Ross Thomson’s ears.

If that’s true, then all by itself it counts as a change in material circumstances and gives a justification for a second independence referendum, because it means that the Conservatives have acted on bad faith and never had any intention of respecting the result of that referendum that they keep telling everyone else to respect. The result of the independence referendum wasn’t just that Scotland voted No, it was that Scotland voted No on certain conditions. One of those conditions was a legally binding guarantee of the permanence of the Scottish parliament and its powers. As I’ve pointed out on this blog before, the people who need to be held to account for the outcome of a vote aren’t the people who lost it, it’s the people who won it.

Certainly subsequent developments, with the legal ruling in the Supreme Court that the Sewel Convention had no legal force, and the shameful way in which the British Government rammed through the changes to devolved powers in the EU Exit Bill without even permitting Scottish MPs to debate the matter, demonstrate that the fundamental basis of the devolution settlement has been traduced and destroyed. That’s a very far cry from the stronger and more entrenched devolution that we were promised in 2014. The fact that former Daily Record editor Murray Foote, the architect of the infamous Vow, now tells us that Ruth Davidson was furious about proposals to strengthen the powers of Holyrood in an attempt to win a No vote strongly suggests that the Conservatives were always going to seek a way to renege on their commitments to the people of Scotland.

The second possibility is that Mundell doesn’t understand the Sewel Convention. Which means that the man who is entrusted with defending the devolution settlement in the British cabinet doesn’t understand the devolution settlement. If that’s not proof that Scotland’s interests can’t be protected within the context of the UK, then nothing is. If Mundell is not sacked forthwith, then all by itself that’s a constitutional crisis which warrants another independence referendum because it means that the very person encharged with defending the devolution settlement is actively undermining it.

Meanwhile, in a major coup for the independence cause, the self-same Murray Foote has now come out in favour of independence. You might not have been happy with his role in support of the Better Together campaign. You might be deeply upset by the way in which British nationalists pulled the Vow out of a hat in the last weeks of the campaign when postal votes had already begun. However the more prominent that a convert to independence was within the anti-independence campaign last time, then the more powerful an ally to our cause that person is this time. So let’s not begrudge or complain about Murray Foote’s conversion. We need people who voted No last time to come over to our side if we’re going to win this time, and if those people are not made to feel welcome and accepted then they’re going to think twice about making the leap. So get over your grudges, smile sweetly and save your harrumphage for private.

The power of Murray Foote’s conversion to yes lies precisely in his role in creating the Vow. Ever since 2014 we’ve had a succession of British nationalist politicians smugly tell us that the Vow has been fulfilled when the evidence is very much to the contrary. But now whenever one of them tells us that the Vow has been fulfilled, all we need to do is to reply that the very man who wrote it disagrees with them. The Vow is now dead. It’s been killed off by the person who created it.

Tomorrow the decidedly very much alive dug and I will be at Inch Park in Edinburgh speaking at a rally there organised by the Yes Hub in Edinburgh. It’s going to be the first of many events over the coming months. The momentum is on our side, but we have a lot of work to do. Let’s get working. Let’s block the Sewer Convention and ensure that it’s the British nationalists who are left covered in their own constitutional crap.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


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.

Scotland won’t be silenced

frontjune14

Today, Thursday, The National is publishing a special edition to mark the commencement of a new stage in Scotland’s campaign for independence. Make sure you buy a copy. Give it to your friends and family. The disgraceful treatment of Scottish concerns by the Conservative government in Westminster this week finally puts to rest any pretence that Scotland can make its voice heard in the Westminster parliament. That’s why it’s all the more important that those of us who do have Scotland’s interests at heart refuse to be silenced, refuse to be quiet, refuse to be well behaved and compliant good little Jocks and Jockesses.

It’s not merely that Tories are gonna Tory, it’s that the rules of the Palace of Westminster and its archaic pretendy democracy mean that Scotland was not and is never going to get a fair hearing in that place.  The rules of Westminster mean that Scotland will always be marginalised, ignored, and infantilised.  When the best you can hope for from a supposed parliament is that they might just, if you are very lucky, patronise you, then it’s time to recognise that the parliament is not capable of serving as a democratic representation for the will of the people of this country.

Make no mistake, what this debate is now about is about whether Scotland is a country and a nation or whether we are content to resign ourselves to the same status as an English county council.  Today on social media, British political commentators who really ought to have known better have been asking with faux outrage why it is that Scotland demands special treatment, demanding to know why Scotland deserves more consideration than Manchester does.  Well last I checked Manchester wasn’t a signatory to the Treaty of Union.  Last I checked Manchester was a city and not a nation with a much longer history than the UK.  Last I checked Manchester didn’t have an independence referendum and narrowly voted to remain a part of the UK because it was promised that it was going to be an equal and valued partner in a family of nations.

But it is precisely as a region that the British establishment regards Scotland.  There is no significant difference in the mind of the British establishment between an English provincial city and an ancient nation that is one of the constituent parts of this so-called union.  Our trappings of nationhood are just so much fancy dress, costumery and pageantry to be dragged out on special and officially sanctioned safe occasions in order to give British nationalists a warm cosy glow and to let them feel that their British nationalism isn’t really just another name for English exceptionalism.  We are the tartan drag on English nationalism that allows it to believe that it’s not nationalist at all.  We are the lipstick on the pig.

This is not a union.  A union implies equality.  A union implies respect.  A union implies that partners listen to one another.  But when Scotland tries to speak we are answered with the jeers of a British nationalism that won’t countenance anyone or anything standing in its way. We are only in a union on their terms and on their sufferance.  We are only in a union as long as it is cost free to the British establishment.  We are only in a union that suits the braying donkeys of the Tory backbenches and the complicit abstentions of the Labour party.  And that’s no union at all.

Our choice is a silence dressed up in the fancy dress of shortbread and tartanry bereft of content and self-knowledge, and resigning ourselves to the reality that Scotland is the gagged possession of a Brexitland Britain, or saying out loud – “Nae mair. Fuck this fur a gemme o sodgies.”  Theresa May tells us that now is not the time.  We’ll be the judge of that Theresa.  We don’t need your permission, we don’t need your consent.  And we’re not going to ask for it.  It’s time to play by different rules.  Scottish rules.

There are no certainties any more, except the certainty that Westminster offers Scotland no control over its own destiny.  We have no choice about living with uncertainty, but I’d rather live with an uncertainty where Scotland can navigate its own path through the darkness, can make its own choices about heading for the light, rather than depend helplessly on a British establishment that offers us no choice at all and shipwrecks us on the vanities of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg.

Get what you’re given Scotland, or make and take what you need.  That’s the difference between dependence and independence.  Choosing independence means choosing self-respect.  Choosing independence means choosing never to be silenced.  Choosing independence means refusing to allow others to define you.

What has happened in the House of Commons this week means that there will most definitely be another independence referendum in the not too distant future.  That referendum will be fought against the background of a Westminster which has treated Scotland with contempt and disdain.  It will be fought against the backdrop of a Westminster which has destroyed the devolution settlement which the people of Scotland were sold as being the great British constitutional alternative to independence.  There can be no Vow Mk II.  There can be no more promises of love, no more commitments to improved and entrenched powers for Scotland.  There are only the brays and boos of backbench Tories, and the handsitting compliance of the Labour party.

In the words of the German philosopher Meister Eckhard, “And suddenly you know: It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”  Now we all know what the Conservative government thinks of us.  We all know what they believe Scotland’s place to be.  We all know that we can continue to be sidelined and marginalised and the interests of this country can be traduced.  We all know that the devolution settlement that Scotland fought for so hard for so long lies dead and bleeding on the floor of the House of Commons. We all know that we are nothing more than an English county council dressed up in a tartan ribbon as far as the British establishment is concerned.

So let’s start something new and trust in the magic of beginning a better Scotland.  This is the time.  This is the time to be bold, to be brave, to be imaginative.  This is the time to play by our own rules.  We will win that better Scotland, but we will only win it by not being silent.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.


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 sixth circle of devolution hell

The Tories talk a lot about how Brexit means taking back control. Except for viewers in Scotland. For Scotland Brexit does also mean taking back control, it’s just that the control is being taken back by Westminster. The devolution settlement has taken years, indeed decades, to thrash out, yet this Conservative government has unilaterally trashed it in just a few minutes.

Today in the Commons we had Prime Minister’s Questions, a chance to ask Theresa May directly about her government’s shameful treatment of the devolution process and its repeated failure to allow any debate or discussion in the Commons. Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t really interested. So no surprise there then. It fell to the SNP.

After attempts during PMQs to raise the lack of democratic accountability, the lack of a voice for Scotland in the House of Commons during yesterday’s proceedings, the SNP’s Westminster leader was offered an immediate vote on the matter by the Speaker, who then backtracked and repeatedly told Ian Blackford to sit down, and then ordered him to leave.

Faced with this blatant rewriting of the rules to save the Speaker’s face at Scotland’s expense, Ian Blackford led a walkout of all SNP MPs. After all, if they are not going to be allowed to speak, if the House of Commons won’t permit Scotland’s issues to be debated and discussed, then there is no point on them being there.  Then the Speaker muttered about how regrettable it was that Scotland’s MPs weren’t going to have the opportunity to speak, as though the travesty of putting a couple of questions to a Theresa May who wasn’t going to answer them anyway somehow made up for the travesty of democracy of Tuesday.

Theresa May said in the Commons on Wednesday that she won’t allow Parliament to overturn the will of the British people, but she’s perfectly happy to allow it to overturn the will of the Scottish people. Devolution only exists because of a referendum in which the people of Scotland voted by a huge majority in favour of the devolution settlement. That settlement was supposed to have been strengthened and entrenched in the offer made to the people of Scotland by all the main UK parties during the 2014 independence referendum. But here we are.

Only some referendum results need to be respected in the British state, and they sure as hell aren’t Scottish ones. Yet these are the same people who repeatedly demand that the SNP respects the outcome of the 2014 referendum, people who have no intention of respecting the promises and commitments that they made to win it. Ruth Davidson, that darling of the Scottish press, sneered that attempts to highlight the democratic deficit were nothing more than “Grievomax”. Ruth is sure as hell not going to stand up for Scotland within her precious union.   If Ruth isn’t going to respect the result of the referendum, why should we?

In Dante’s vision of Hell, the hypocrites are consigned to the Sixth Circle of Hell, weighed down by their gilden monks’ robes of lead, moving with slow and sluggish indolence as they are condemned forever to walk in circles. That’s where the Scottish Conservatives and their Labour and Lib Dem enablers belong. That’s the vision that they have for Scotland within the UK, weighted down and condemned forever to go round in circles. It’s the Sixth Circle of Devolution Hell, the shackled monks of Britishness led by Ruth Davidson ringing a bell and chanting We Don’t Want Another Referendum as they go round and round in circles for all eternity, lost in the dark void and achieving nothing. Today the SNP marched out of it. When the rules of the game are stacked against you, play a different game.

As far as Scotland is concerned, the House of Commons is a democracy in the exact same way that candy floss is a nutritionally important major food group. The SNP were quite right to walk out. It might have been a stunt, but it was a stunt that succeeded in getting the issue of the treament of the devolution settlement and the Westminster power grab to the top of the media agenda, a media which has until now ignored it. Because it’s only Scottish and so isn’t really that important.

You might think that this massive assault on devolution, what was always touted as the great British alternative to Scottish independence, might have merited some cries of outrage from that Scottish press that had bigged it up in the first place. You know, like that newspaper that gave us the Vow. Yet from the British nationalist media in Scotland – which is the vast bulk of it – there’s a collective shrug of the shoulders and a “meh”. As I pointed out in yesterday’s blog piece, they are failing Scotland on their own terms. They are not standing up for their own vision of Scotland within the UK and are consenting to the destruction of a devolution settlement which they sold to the people of Scotland as the safe and secure alternative to independence. By failing to stand up for devolution, they anti-independence parties and the British nationalist media in Scotland have only make the case for independence unanswerable.

Yesterday’s farce of democracy in the Commons, when the Conservatives refused to allow a Scottish MP to speak on the subject of devolution, refused to allow any amendments, and refused to concede more than a few minutes for debate, was covered by the BBC Scotland news this morning in a mere 16 seconds. More importance was given to the English fitba team and to efforts to protect endangered bats. Efforts to protect endangered Scottish democracy, not so much. And yet meagre and trivial as it was, BBC Scotland news gave the issue better coverage than the front pages of Scotland’s anti-independence newspapers.

The devolved powers are only being retained by Westminster for seven years, they claim. If you believe that you probably also believe that the Ewok Mundell is an effective voice for Scotland within the UK cabinet. It’s not that the Fluffy one doesn’t speak in the British cabinet, it’s just like one of the BBC’s beloved bats his utterances are too high pitched for human ears to detect. On Wednesday during an interview with Sky News the Fluffy one said that he was disappointed that there hadn’t been a debate the previous day but that there were lots of technical and boring things being voted on and they didn’t need to bother their pretty little heads with Scottish stuff too. There’s that strong voice for Scotland in the British cabinet, telling us how disappointed he was that he couldn’t be arsed to do his job.  However he did concede that tomorrow there would be an opportunity to debate the impact of the Brexit bill on devolved powers.

The walkout has been effective. Devolution is not going to be ignored. It’s not going to be ignored because some Scottish MPs stood up for it, literally. There will be time in the Commons tomorrow to debate the effects of Brexit on the devolution settlement, although one thing is certain and that’s that it won’t make any difference to the final outcome. The Conservative Government will ram it through and Scotland will be left with nothing. Scotland will get what Conservative MPs from outwith Scotland tell us we’re getting. What Scotland wants, what Scotland voted for, doesn’t figure in their considerations.

If this doesn’t count as a material change of circumstances, then nothing does. Home rule is dead. The devolution settlement is dead. The results of Scottish constitutional referendums are null and void. The great constitutional alternative to Scottish independence has been killed off by those who claim to love the UK. It’s time for all of Scotland to walk out of the Sixth Circle of Hell of this unitary British state which masquerades as a union. Let’s play a different game.  Let’s play independently.


 

Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.

Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.


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.

This is what contempt looks like

Back before the independence referendum, Ruth Davidson told us that a vote to remain a part of the UK was a vote to strengthen and entrench devolution. Aye. Right.  As far as Scottish democracy is concerned, the Westminster Parliament is the biggest waste of time since someone tried to explain to Scottish Tory MSP Jackson Carlaw that roadsigns in the Gaelic language don’t actually cause potholes. When Ewok Mundell, the supposed voice of Scotland in the UK cabinet, failed to present the necessary amendments to the EU Exit bill at the third reading or the report stage some months ago, he faithfully promised Scotland’s MPs that they’d be able to debate how the EU Exit Bill was going to affect the devolution settlement when the bill was returned from the House of Lords to the Commons. Well fat chance of that.

Instead of a strengthened and entrenched devolution we got a motion passed in Westminster that permits the UK Government to trash the Scotland Act, to throw a bucket of cold water on the last dying embers of the Sewel Convention, and to thumb their nose at the result of the Scottish devolution referendum. In the UK, the only referendum results that need to be respected are those that suit the Tories.

No Scottish MPs were called to speak. Instead of Scotland’s MPs holding the Westminster Government to account for its handling of Scottish interests, we got just over 15 minutes of Tories using the debate as an opportunity to slag off the Scottish Government, followed by an hour of points of order, most of which were equally composed of Tories using the debate as an opportunity to slag off the Scottish Government.  This is what passes for Scotland’s ability to hold the UK Government to account in the House of Commons. Several of those Tory MPs seemed indignant that anyone from the SNP should express any opinion at all.

The devolution issue was only allocated a short amount of time by the British Government’s managers. There was no time to move any amendments. There was all of 19 minutes allocated to discuss Clause 15 which deals with devolution (originally Clause 11 of the EU Exit Bill). This is the clause which seizes powers over devolved competencies for seven years. Scotland’s MPs were not given any time to debate and discuss it, despite the promises made by the Scottish Secretary of State.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford addressed the Speaker of the House of Commons, asking what options were available to MPs to ensure that the British Government really understands the real concern that people in Scotland have about this unprecedented power grab and how can Scottish MPs make sure that their voices are heard. A Tory MP shouted in reply, “suicide”. You’ll have had your valued and equal partner in a family of nations, Scotland.

The Scottish Conservatives naturally sided with their bosses to allow the devolution settlement to be unilaterally trashed by the British Government, and the Labour party and the Lib Dems did bugger all to stop them. You can expect the Tories to do all they can to destroy the powers of the Scottish Parliament. It’s what Tories do. Well that and answering every question with “Scotland doesn’t want another referendum.” Being surprised that the Conservative party is bent on trashing the devolution settlement is like being surprised that Dracula doesn’t give blood donations.

Labour on the other hand pose as the party of devolution. The devolution settlement was their baby. Labour sold the devolution settlement to Scotland after the long dark nightmare of the Thatcher era as a means for Scotland to protect itself from untrammelled Tory rule. Yet when that devolution settlement is threatened by the Conservatives, Labour wrings its hands and does nothing to stop it. They would prefer to see the devolution settlement destroyed, a settlement that the people of Scotland voted for in two referendums, rather than stand against the UK Government and take the same side as an SNP administration in Holyrood. When Scotland is threatened, you can always count on Labour to abstain.

You know, personally I may be a strong advocate for Scottish independence, but holding the view that Scotland is best served by remaining a part of the UK is a perfectly legitimate opinion. It’s not my opinion. I think those who hold that view are profoundly mistaken, but there is nothing inherently dishonourable in the belief that Scotland should remain a part of the UK.

However what really sticks in my craw is when opponents of independence are so terrified of adding fuel to the fires of evil separatism by overtly criticising the UK Government’s treatment of Scotland and its trashing of the devolution settlement that they refuse to stand up for Scotland within their precious UK. It means that even on their own terms they are failing because they would rather that Scotland was abused within this so-called Union than give succour to those of us who seek self-determination. That is dishonourable. That is contemptible.

By failing to stand up for Scotland’s interests within the UK all they are proving is that the only way Scotland’s interests can be served is through independence. They are making the case for independence by demonstrating that Scotland’s voice cannot be heard within the framework of the UK. That’s precisely what we saw in the sham debate in the House of Commons this evening. For those of you who cling to the quasi-religious belief that St Jeremy of Corbyn will deliver us from Tory evil, you got your answer today. Jeremy doesn’t give a toss about Scotland’s interests. When push comes to shove you can rely on the Labour party to abstain. Hugh Gaffney made a wee intervention before abstaining. It wasn’t a remotely useful intervention, but at least we can be grateful that he didn’t say anything racist or homophobic.

It’s at moments like this that you wonder what the point is of Scotland sending MPs to Westminster. And the answer is, none. There is no point. The Tories were always going to ram this measure through by fair means or foul. It’s clearer now than it ever was that if Scotland is going to make her voice heard, it can’t be done through the British Parliament. That’s not a Parliament that speaks for us. It’s a Parliament that dictates to us.  It’s a Parliament that ignores us.  It’s a Parliament that treats us with contempt.

After the independence referendum, the playwright Alan Bisset pointed out that those who voted No might have thought that they were demonstrating their faith and belief in Britain, but that’s not how the British establishment saw it. The British establishment saw it as weakness and vulnerability. They were always going to see the No vote as the opportunity to take advantage, and that’s precisely what they’ve done. This is what contempt looks like.

Enough of this farce.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.

Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.


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.

Ma dug’s no deid

On Monday evening I went to an event hosted by Paisley Women for Independence. For once I wasn’t speaking, instead I went along to listen to Mark McNaught talk about the importance of developing a draft Scottish constitution. It was a fascinating and informative evening. It was a pleasant change not to have to “perform”.

While there, a number of people came up to me with long sad faces. “I’m so sorry to hear about the dog. That’s terrible,” one said. “Well it’s not that bad,” I replied, thinking that they were commenting about the fact that for once the dug had been left at home and wasn’t the star of the show. “He’s lying on the sofa with a chew bone trying and failing to do an impression of having a hard life.” Ginger, like most dogs, strongly objects to being left alone at home, even for just a short time. It’s one of the worst things you could possibly do in his universe, up there on a par with voting Conservative or buying the Scotsman.

However it turns out that several people at the event thought that the dug had passed away. To paraphrase the words of Mark Twain, reports of my dug’s death have been greatly exaggerated. When I made my flippant reply they must have thought that I had the corpse of a dug draped over my couch and had gone out for the evening leaving it there. I am happy to report that the dug is alive and well, and definitely much happier now that I’ve come home from Paisley. Although I don’t think he was upset because I went to Paisley specifically. When I came home he gave me an exhuberant and enthusiastic welcome in the way that only a dog can. This is most definitely not a deid dug.

The people who believed that the dog had died had seen reports of his passing on social media. There was nothing malicious about the rumours of Ginger’s death that were circulating on social media. It was an innocent misunderstanding so please don’t get annoyed or upset with the person who told you incorrectly. They made a genuine mistake and there was no intention to deceive or cause deliberate upset. It turns out that someone had posted on their Facebook page that their own wee ginger dug had passed away. The wee dug who passed away was a wee female dug called Toffee from Edinburgh who had passed away after an illness, and my heart goes out to her owners. I’ve had dogs for decades and have lost a few. It never gets any easier.

However because their dug was wee and ginger, some people confused the report on their wee ginger dug Facebook page with mine. It was an easy mistake to make and entirely understandable that some people leapt to the wrong conclusion. It wasn’t the death of THE Wee Ginger Dug. It was the death of A Wee Ginger Dug, and I am sure that it must be traumatic and distressing for her owners. They have all my sympathy and my deepest condolences. I know how painful and upsetting it is to lose a beloved dog. They’re a part of your family and you grieve for them deeply.

DSC_0135Ginger had a vet’s appointment shortly before I went away to Spain last week, and the vet was extremely pleased with him. He’s not a young dog, but he is an exceptionally healthy one. Because he was found abandoned as a stray beside an irrigation canal in Spain, no one knows his exact age, but he must be pushing eleven. For an eleven year old dog he’s doing amazingly well. Apart from having to have his teeth cleaned recently and a couple of extractions, he’s never had any health issues in his life. He’s got that mongrel vigour and you can rest assured that he’s going to be around for a good few years yet. This is a pic of him trying to look hard done by which was taken this evening after I returned from Paisley.  How he suffers, eh.

A few weeks ago Callum Baird, the editor of The National, asked me how old the dug is. Although I fully expect him to be around for a good few years to come, I quipped that when the dug does finally chew his last dog biscuit and pee on his last lamppost, that he will probably be the only dog in Scotland who’ll get an obituary in the newspaper. Callum replied that Ginger won’t just get an obituary, he’ll get a four page spread.

However even though it’s a long way off, and I fully expect to have Ginger for many more years to come, the fact is that dog’s don’t have the life expectancy of humans. When the sad day does come the news will first be published here on this blog. Not on Facebook or on Twitter, except as links to an article published on this blog. So that is how you will know in future whether to allow yourself to get upset by a report of Ginger’s passing. If you haven’t read it here, then it hasn’t happened.

I’m sorry I haven’t published something about this sooner and quashed the incorrect rumours, but I’ve been trying to catch up with myself today after getting home from Spain yesterday. I did have a death to deal with too, my desktop computer died. Since that’s the computer on which I do all the work on the maps, and it contains all the files for the maps, losing it was a major trauma. For a few hours I was seriously worried that I could have lost all the data. However all is well. The problem was just a faulty power unit which has now been replaced. And I’ve backed up the map file data, which I should have done months ago. Panic over.

I know my place in the cosmic scheme of things, and I’m under no illusions that out of the two of us Ginger is the photogenic one. You can rest assured that Ginger is very much alive and well, and he’ll be coming to an independence event near you very soon.  And now he’s been the subject of a death hoax, he’s officially famous.


 

Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.

Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.


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.

A Q.E.D. moment

A guest post by Samuel Miller

It can seem, some days, that it’s a pretty grim old world out there for Scotland’s indy movement. An uncaring and intimidating central government dumping misery, general political chaos and legislation by diktat whenever the mood takes. See under EU omnishambles, devolution powers grab, universal credit scheme, bedroom tax, immigration policy… A REALLY big list! Mmmkay? (add your own pet theme). We also have a mainstream media of a fairly politically… assertive… nature, doling out pro UK/anti independence/anti Essenpee narrative on a near daily basis to be getting on with.

Mainly, (and as near as I can tell), ’cause them Essenpee and mad, cultist, indy cybernats are the evilest of the evil. What with their taking the pure pish out of esteemed colleagues and proper politicians like Ruth, Richard and thingy. Then there’s that marching and singing and laughing thing they do. FFS! They can’t even protest properly. There’s meant to be rage and general carnage in a proper protest. Shop windaes smashed, statues defaced and hunners o’ polis cars overturned. There should at least be water cannons involved somewhere. THAT’S HOW RUBBISH THEY ARE! Also? Just because.

Seriously though, this last few years has arguably seen one of the most sustained media/political assaults in post war UK politics that I can remember. And because the vast bulk of the media are so seemingly anti independence and SNP Scottish Government? It’s fair to say that pro indy views in the mainstream are somewhat of a rarity.

You can see where, over time, it may be difficult for people to accept that their political engagement has had any impact whatsoever. In short? If you are supportive of Scotland’s right to self determination, you can feel  pretty much as if you’re being kept in the dark and fed on….stuff. (We’ve covered this one previously) You begin to wonder if its all been worth it? If investing your efforts, your heart and your belief in a thing was a mistake after all these years. A general feeling of the mountain too big and the river too wide can begin to seep into your thoughts.

I think most readers will be familiar with some questions you’ll see recurring in many (BTL) comments sections: What good are we doing if we can’t reach people? How do we combat the blanket coverage of the mainstream media? With Westminster’s control of the narrative and all the resources it can bring to bear, how do we convince others that we have a case to answer? Good, honest questions to be fair.

Please take on board. This is NOT your fault, nor is it the fault of the current Scottish government. No. This piece of soiled cloth can be laid squarely at the feet of the media and Scotland’s media in particular. Their job is to inform, present both sides of an argument, investigate thoroughly and present evidence. Yes? No? If half of your nation’s electorate aren’t, (or do not feel), adequately represented, supported or informed by their media, then the lack of adequate representation is pretty much on that media and no one else. Their choice, which is fair enough I suppose. They have an ideological preference and the freedom to express same. What they cannot then complain about, is that others may have theirs and act accordingly.

Perhaps this snippet may help lift some of those dark thoughts and doubts. Some data released from the latest Scottish Social Attitudes Survey has caused a bit of a stir since last night. Aye, it seems there’s been a bit of a surge in support for an indy Scotland’s economy among other things. You’ll find a good commentary on Wings Over Scotland and it’s also featured in today’s National, both of which provide more detailed dissection.

If you check those articles out, you can see why both the meeja and the Westminster political class may have cause to break oot the antidepressants and camomile tea. You can also see why their ‘NO REFERENDUMS! EVER!’ rhetoric has been turned up to eleven over recent times.

There is no doubt however, that the swing is inexorably toward favouring independence. That there is a change coming. That confidence is growing in Scotland’s future governance being in the hands of those best placed to make decisions on the needs and aspirations of its population.

That’d be you mainly… Scotland’s population (cough).

Now this begs a question or two. Given that all of the above is reasonably accurate concerning Westminster’s political narrative and the meeja’s track record on all things indy to date. How did such fairly significant shifts in attitude occur in such a relatively short period? Fair to say that Westminster government’s own actions have had an impact and focussed a few concerns out there. Let’s face it, you’d have to be living in a cave in Cape Wrath to have avoided them. Also not much of a leap for many to conclude that this is probably the most shambolic, inept, isolationist and socially divisive government in living memory. Is that the whole story though?

Through all of the past four years, major elements within the UK media have still supported Westminster government and its narrative. In Scotland that narrative is often compounded with a distinctly pro union and anti indy narrative. So what has been the difference? What helps combat all of the influence of central government and mainstream media saturation?

Maybe just me, but in my opinion I’d say you and your continued engagement may have had something to do with it. You didn’t go back in your box. You helped grow and support your own media. You talked to family, friends, strangers in the street. You joined and supported pro indy parties and those who didn’t got involved any way they could. You gathered together in numbers and sang and laughed your way down high streets across the country. You did the job your mainstream media and political class would not or could not do.

You kept the opposing narrative alive and got it out there in any way you knew how. You helped bring people from no to yes and from no hope to the hope that we can be better than we are. You want to know what your continued engagement is doing? I’d say it’s changing attitudes where it matters.

I’d also say that should be considered quite the Q.E.D. moment.

No bad readers. No too bad at all.

 

This will be my last post before Paul gets back from his break. So as before, clean up the bottles and pizza boxes on your way out. Also? Many thanks for your company and comments. See you below the line and whatever you do, keep on talking.

The art of being in without being in

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before (No, don’t!). Seems Labour doesn’t have its troubles to seek Brexitwise these days. It appears Mr Corbyn is making yet another attempt to square one of the biggest circles on his busy to do list by proposing an amendment to next week’s withdrawal bill votes. An amendment which is meant to pressure the government into ensuring access to the single market, but without yer actual full membership of any of its official bodies. (No swerry wurds people!)

“It shall be a negotiating objective of Her Majesty’s Government to ensure the United Kingdom has full access to the internal market of the European Union, underpinned by shared institutions and regulations, with no new impediments to trade and common rights, standards and protections as a minimum,”

Clearly an attempt to win over remain elements within his party, which is fair enough.

Just one teeny speed bump to consider however…

“We can’t possible imagine a situation in which we would accept cherry-picking. We are responsible for guaranteeing the integrity of the single market,”

“The UK knows what the rules are that underpin that integrity because they’ve been helping us put them together for the last 40 years.” Michel Barnier (Feb 2018)

and

“These three points were already made very clear by the European Council and European Parliament, but I am not sure whether they have been fully understood across the Channel,”.

“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve frictionless trade. That is not possible.

“The decision to leave the EU has consequences and I have to explain to citizens, businesses and civil society on both sides of the Channel what those consequences mean for them.

“These consequences are the direct result of the choice made by the UK, not by the EU. There is no punishment for Brexit and of course no spirit of revenge. But Brexit has a cost, also for business in the EU27, and businesses should assess with lucidity the negative consequences of the UK choice on trade and investment and prepare to manage that.”

“I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and keep all of its benefits. That is not possible.” Michel Barnier (July 2017)

Of course, if Mr Corbyn doesn’t want to accept the fairly unambiguous statements made by Michel Barnier? Then perhaps this observation by Martin Donnelly, former Permanent Secretary for the Department of International Trade may be of use?

“The single market is a coherent tapestry of economic and social regulation. Pulling out one strand is very hard to do without changing the whole picture. And so far the EU has been consistent in its commitment to keep the single market as it is, with a single set of rules for all.”

Setting aside ALL of that parliamentary amending, voting, abstaining and party political strategies waffle for a moment. Three things kinda stand out for even the mildly politically engaged person. 1. The jist of the amendment would tend to suggest that Brexit would appear to still be going ahead. 2. The EU have made it pretty clear that there will be no access to the single market from those outwith its regulatory bodies. 3. Given those fairly clear statements above, just how would a government of any stripe achieve this seemingly impossible ideal agreement?

As of this moment, neither Labour nor the current Conservative government are exactly forthcoming on the ‘how to’ part tbf. Maybe it’s a kung fu thing? Like walking on rice paper without leaving a dent. The art of being in without being in.

This amendment is supposedly an olive branch and a step towards compromise with remain elements within the ranks of Mr Corbyn’s PLP and membership. Personally, I’m not entirely sure Mr Corbyn understands either the nature of what is clearly a binary choice for many, or the resolve of the EU to maintain its charter.

Arguably, over the period since the referendum, merely the effects of the vote for Brexit have impacted on near every aspect of life on these islands. You have to wonder if the political class, in their dash to strategy, even notice what’s happening outside of their chambers.  Do they actually care about the damage that’s been done so far? The agreements they’ve endangered, both nationally and internationally? The pledges and settlements within their own competence they’ve ignored? The economic fallout? (which WILL visit every business and every home)

Remember. Merely the effects of the vote for Brexit. NOT Brexit itself. Not yet.

There does appear to be quite the consensus from evidence gathered so far, whether it be governmental impact reports or commentary from the business press, that Brexit has the potential to cause immense, near catastrophic, damage to the UK’s economy.  Kinda leaves a person wondering, why persist without consulting the population on what is clearly a material change in both information and circumstance? But then, Westminster government does have a habit of ignoring such things. If they don’t suit (cough).

The clock is ticking down to the June summit, by which time both a transition period deal and future trade pact discussions are supposedly meant to be on the cards. Tick, as they say, tock. No pressure guys. (Taps watch) Readers can draw their own conclusions as to whether UK gov are anywhere near ready for that summit.

So far as Scotland’s electorate is concerned? Soon as the deal (whatever it is) becomes clear? Well. It’s very likely that it’ll be your turn to have a say and make a choice.

 

(A rough guide of key Brexit dates can be found HERE.)

You can’t buy this

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Been quite the weekend on the news front readers, but we’ll get to that real news in a moment. Also? Briefly on another tangent entirely and very much in the vein of WHO KNEW? Apparently there’s been a government leak which sez a no deal Brexit will be very, very bad. Near Hollywood disaster movie bad in fact. Food shortages, airdrops, carnage and chaos bad. Full-on three bears bad. Daddy bear BAD being the very worst!

“The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”

There’s also a mummy bear Brexit scenario, which is not quite as bad. Oh, and a baby bear Brexit which has probably only done something unfortunate in the woods near your back door. Mmmmm, not to be a party pooper, but isn’t this pretty much old news?

As for leaking/rehashing? Other than leaking being highly unsanitary, a cynic might suggest it’s also a good way for governments to test the water. As in – (Wavy lines) ‘This outcome is going to be soooo awful, but thenks to our unparalleled negotiating brilliance? We believe we can secure one of the slightly less kettastroaphic outcomes. It’ll only mean penury for the vast majority of the UKs public for several decades, but it could hev bin sooooo much worse. No. No. There’s no need to thenk us…etc’ (Wavy lines back to reality).

Just to be crystal? It never pays to assume that all of the public haven’t been paying attention. Many folk are already well aware that there are three scenarios and that none of them are good. They’re ALL pretty catastrophic outcomes and frankly no amount turd polishing or dumbing down a sales pitch, will alter the fact for those affected.

Now onto that real news.

Turns out there was a bit of a get together in Dumfries for the YES movement on Saturday (stop cheering at the back). Upwards of ten thousand attending decided to let the meeja, politics pundits and politicians, know exactly what they think of their recent commentary and musings on all things indy. I mean, we’ve pretty much heard it all by this point. The YES movement is divided because, growth commission, left politics, right politics, green politics, hates England, Islands will annex themselves, werewolves… reasons in general. Oh, and that people definitely aren’t interested in referendums.  No appetite etc, etc. Well? For the second time in recent history, clearly the YES movement begs to differ. Pretty damned impressive I’d say, considering these marches are organised at grassroots level.

That’s not the only thing they beg to differ on though. Some people may wonder at the use or need for these marches. Maybe they consider them twee, a bit fleg wavy, not serious politics or whatever (shrugs). Personally? I disagree with that kind of thinking. I think these marches do more for those who do matter in and to the world of politics. The people themselves. The right to march in protest or support of a thing, without inciting violence, is precious to our vision and practice of democracy.

In this particular instance, outside of the fact that they bring independence minded people together for a much needed morale boost in pretty dark times? They illustrate, unambiguously, that for every negative and hateful misrepresentation that’s been put out there about them and what they stand for, their reality is the polar opposite of the myth created by less savoury media and political elements. These marchers prove beyond doubt that their political engagement can be positive, peaceful and carry impact. A joy and a privilege to be part of. What the people of these towns and cities will see with every peaceful march can’t be unseen and what they hear, can’t be unheard. For a movement that has rarely received fair or equal representation within the UK’s media or body politic?

You can’t buy that kind of positive imagery.

The groups and individuals attending seem to perfectly understand the true meaning of social unity on and beyond these islands and the impact this solidarity can have when on display. Kinda knocks the meeja’s ‘movement divided’ narrative on its sorry wossiname, yes? Also pretty certain that most of the folk attending these marches have no illusions about why they’re marching and what they hope to achieve either.

I think they’re perfectly aware that independence is not an end in itself. It’s the means to an end. It’s the beginning of a Scotland yet to be, with all the possibilities and visions that entails. Clearly, unlike the folk in Meejaworld, it appears many in the YES movement don’t have a problem understanding the meaning of compromise or consensus to achieve a desired outcome. Again. Who knew?

Might be those marchers are fully aware that an independent Scotland has need of all those visions and ideas. That an independent Scotland needs as diverse a society and plurality of progressive political views as we can all summon. An independent Scotland yet to be and it really only needs one thing to make it possible. Your belief in the principle of self determination.

That principle should bind all of us under one banner. Don’t you think? That principle should unify the rich and the poor. The radical and the more conservative (with a small ‘c’). All parties, no parties. All creeds and all points of origin. Seems to me the folk attending these marches have a pretty fair grasp of that concept.

One last thought to be getting on with. The SNP, as the government of the day, may very well be our first government of an independent Scotland. How and ever, in the history we hope to write for ourselves from that day forward? It most certainly won’t be the last.

As I’ve said more than once or twice, the SNP are currently gatekeepers. They can only hold that gate open for so long before a Westminster government, desperate to consolidate its waning power and resource base and seeking to draw yet more constitutional power to itself, actively moves to close the gate and dump the key in the deepest trench in the ocean.

Personally? At this point I’m for kicking that gate off its hinges altogether.

Adéu Mariano Rajoy, Catalonia won’t miss you

So it’s adéu Mariano Rajoy. Catalonia, and the rest of Spain for that matter, won’t miss you. The Spanish Prime Minister, whose sole political talent is to make Theresa May seem like she’s listening, has lost a vote of no-confidence in the Cortes, the Spanish parliament. The vote came after the conclusion of a long running corruption scandal in which Rajoy’s party, the Partido Popular, was mired up to its neck. Earlier this week a judge ruled that the Partido Popular had financially benefited from the scandal, involving kickbacks for government contracts. Rajoy himself had been called to give evidence in the case, and the judge later described his evidence as unconvincing. Which is about as close as a Spanish judge is going to get to calling the Prime Minister a liar liar pants on fire.

In Scotland we complain – quite rightly – about corruption in local authorities, but corruption in Scotland is amateur small beer stuff compared to the blatant fraud that goes on in Spain. The so-called Gürtel case is the biggest corruption scandal since Spain was restored to democracy. The name comes from the code name given to the case by the investigating officers. At the centre of the case is businessman Francisco Correa, whose surname means belt in Spanish. Gürtel means belt in German. Correa and his associates were accused of bribing Partido Popular politicians in order to secure government contracts. One assessment of the case in the left leaning Público newspaper claimed that up to € 120 million (£105 million) in public money was lost due to the fraud. On 8 May this year Correa was sentenced to 51 years in prison for his part in the scandal.

Also sentenced earlier this month was Luis Barcenas, the former treasurer of the Partido Popular and a close political friend and ally of Mariano Rajoy. Barcenas was sentenced to 33 years in jail. It was after Rajoy had been called as a witness in Barcena’s defence that a judge remarked that the Prime Minister’s evidence was unconvincing. Barcenas held some € 48 million in secret Swiss bank accounts, and operated the Partido Popular’s system of double book keeping in order to hide illegal donations, money from bribes, and kickbacks from business people for whom PP politicians had done favours. Barcenas made regular payments from a slush fund to PP politicians, including eleven annual payments of € 25,000 directly to Mariano Rajoy. Rajoy has always denied taking illegal funds.

One reason for Rajoy’s intransigence over Catalonia was in order to distract public attention from the Gürtel Case. It suited Rajoy to turn the political problem of Catalonia into a full-blown crisis. It meant that people were talking about the independence movement in Catalonia and the threat to the unity of the Spanish state and were not talking about the stench of corruption which enveloped the ruling Spanish party. This week however, the corruption scandals finally caught up with Rajoy, and the opposition Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) was able to secure sufficient votes in the Cortes in order to pass a motion of no-confidence in Rajoy’s minority government. The PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez will now be sworn in as Prime Minister, heading a minority government of his own.

The pro-independence Basque and Catalan parties and the anti-austerity Podemos party all backed the PSOE motion. Notably the right wing Spanish nationalist and populist Ciudadanos party, which has campaigned on a platform of opposing corruption, voted with the Partido Popular. The leader of Ciudadanos released a statement saying that his party was not in the business of supporting nationalists and populists, except Spanish nationalists and populists naturally.

Pedro Sánchez has promised that unlike Rajoy he will engage in dialogue with the Catalan independence parties. Some in the English language media have hailed this as a potential breakthrough in the Catalan crisis, however the reaction from Catalonia itself has been rather more muted. For the Catalans, the PSOE is simply the lesser of two evils. The PSOE is every bit as much committed to the unity of the Spanish state as the PP is. Its Catalan branch, the PSC, has allied itself with the rightists in the PP and Ciutadans (the Catalan branch of Ciudadanos) to oppose independence and a referendum.  There may be a difference in tone from the new government in Madrid, there may be a difference in tactics, but many in Catalonia suspect that there will be no change in its determination to resist Catalan independence.

In a statement on Twitter, exiled president Carles Puigdemont said:

Si nosaltres fóssim de venjança, avui ja ens podríem donar per satisfets. Però com que som de justícia, avui encara no podem celebrar res. Ens queda una llarga lluita i un llarg camí per vèncer les injustícies, que són moltes i persistents.

“If we were seeking vengeance, then today we could be satisfied. But as we are for justice, then today there is nothing to celebrate. We are still left with a long struggle and a long path in order to defeat injustices, which are many and persistent.”

The radical pro-independence CUP party has signalled that the investiture of Pedro Sánchez means that nothing significant has changed. The Catalan political prisoners remain in prison. Those in exile still face extradition proceedings. The party released a brief statement saying that “The actors change, the problem remains the same.” Meanwhile an editorial in the pro-independence Catalan newspaper Vilaweb notes that the problems of the Spanish state which pushed the Catalans into the referendum and declaration of independence in October last year have not magically disappeared.

The reality for the new Spanish government is that very little is likely to change. Pedro Sánchez now leads a minority government with just 84 deputies out of 350, half of the parliamentary support enjoyed by the last PSOE Prime Minister, Luis Zapatero. Sánchez has promised elections later in the year, but intends to govern as a minority government for the coming months. Given the electoral arithmetic, his freedom of movement is limited, and parties like Ciudadanos, which hopes to benefit from right wing votes following the fall from grace of the Partido Popular, will be pressing for an early election. The new Spanish government will be fragile, and pressures from the Spanish right and opponents of Catalan independence within its own ranks mean that it is unlikely that there will be significant concessions on the main issue for Catalonia, allowing the Catalans a legal referendum on independence. The pressure from the Spanish right has already started.

It is however interesting to note that two years ago, after the last Spanish elections, Pedro Sánchez failed to become Prime Minister because he was unwilling to engage with the anti-austerity party Podemos, and because he refused to accept the support of pro-independence parties. And yet here we are now, with Sánchez in power and counting on the support of Podemos and the Catalan independence parties. Nothing huge might change, but the election of Pedro Sánchez at least cracks open the door to negotiations and dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona, a door which was firmly locked and bolted by an instransigent Mariano Rajoy.

I’m off to Spain this weekend for a week to visit with friends. So I won’t be posting anything until I get back. If Sam (Macart) has the time and inclination he may treat you to some of his words of wisdom.


Mapa Gàidhlig na h-Alba / Gaelic Map of Scotland

albarevisedThe Gaelic map of Scotland is now available, the cost is £15 plus £7 P&P within the UK. Please note P&P outwith the UK is more expensive. P&P to Europe is £10, P&P to the rest of the world is £15. If you require multiple copies of the map, you only need pay once for P&P, up to 3 copies of the map which is the maximum that can fit in one postal tube.

You can purchase a copy of the map by Paypal by clicking the donate button at the end of this page and entering the requisite amount. Please also include the address to which the map should be posted. If you prefer another payment method, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for alternatives.

Please note that the map is currently at the printers and I won’t be able to start posting maps out to buyers until the week starting May 28.


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.