The propaganda department

A report has just been published by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the House of Commons. The House of Commons report was written by anti-independence MPs, largely from England. It consists of 11 MPs, five of whom are Conservative, five Labour, and only one SNP. The sole SNP MP on the committee is the only MP representing a Scottish constituency. So this is a committee which has no particular insight into Scotland, and no special sympathy for the Scottish Parliament, but even they recognise that Theresa May’s government’s handling of devolved issues in the wake of the Brexit referendum has been woeful. It lays the blame for the acrimony and anger which has been generated firmly at the door of the Conservative government and notes that current inter-governmental mechanisms are not fit for purpose.

Wee Wullie Rennie, remember him? He’s been quoted having a wee ribbit that the report is a powerful rebuke to independence supporters. Because clearly a report which highlights the woeful inadequacies of the British government’s handling of devolution is such a great advertisement for Scotland to continue as a part of the UK. Devolution was sold to Scotland as the great British alternative to independence, but even members of the British establishment concede that it’s not working for Scotland. Except Wullie. But then every time you look at Wullie you can’t help but make a mental note that somewhere a number 17 bus to Kelty is missing its driver. Although to be fair, bus drivers can actually negotiate a route and arrive at the destination which they told people that they were going to go to, which is more than anyone could ever say for the Lib Dems.

The report also says that consideration should be given to abolishing the Scotland Office and the position of Scotland Secretary. Scotland would be better off without the Scotland Office. In fact we have no need for any aspect of the Westminster government. It’s mired in dysfunction, incapable of delivering any of the promises that it feverishly makes to the electorate when the time for voting comes round, and sits in gloriously unaccountable isolation.

You only have to look at David Mundell’s performance in the post to see that he’s quite possibly the most pointless cabinet minister in a cabinet which even includes Michael Gove. Well I say ‘performance’, that’s a misleading term in this context since it implies actually doing something. You’d be as well talking about the performance of wallpaper or the performance of a cardboard cut out figure. You could in fact replace David Mundell with a life sized cardboard cut out figure and it’s highly unlikely that any of his cabinet colleagues would notice the substitution. There are those of us who wonder whether he was replaced by a life sized cardboard cut out figure quite a long time ago.

However we must be charitable. Unlike Michael, whose pointlessness is personal, Fluffy is hampered both by his own pointlessness and the pointlessness of the post which he occupies. If you wanted to know what the purpose of the Scotland Secretary was, you wouldn’t find out by watching David Mundell, or indeed any other occupant of the role. Quite possibly the only parliamentary position even more pointless than Fluffy’s is the post of Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland – and I challenge you to name the occupant of that role without Googling it. Even Labour politicians don’t know who it is, and the real role of Labour politicians is to act as the opposition to other Labour politicians because they actually vote against one another instead of abstaining.

But back to the Fluffy one. See how easy it is to forget his existence and go off on an unrelated tangent? That’s precisely what his colleagues in government do too, only with them it’s a policy choice and not merely forgetfulness.

You’d get a better idea of what Mundell’s job consists of by fixing your gaze on one of those nodding bulldogs sitting on the parcel shelf of a car and advertising a UK patriotically themed insurance company. This is in fact precisely what David’s job is, to nod along in a UK patriotically themed way to whatever the Goves are saying. At least the toy dog is decorative, which is a lot more than you could say for either Mundell or Gove. Although that may be unfair, as there is quite possibly a ghost train ride somewhere that’s missing a couple of its exhibits.

Supposedly, the purpose of the Scotland Office is to give Scotland representation at the highest level of UK government. The Scotland Office is theoretically the voice of Scotland in the British cabinet. In theory David Mundell acts to ensure that Scottish interests get an airing in the British government, and in theory he brings a Scottish perspective to UK government decisions and policy making. But there’s theory, and then there’s real life.

In theory BBC Scotland is an unbiased, balanced, and politically neutral national public service broadcaster. In theory Jeremy Kyle brings social work onto the small screen. In theory the people commenting on stories in the Scotsman are human beings with functioning neurones. In real life, the Scotland Secretary is not Scotland’s voice in the British cabinet, where he is regularly ignored and never invited to any important meetings, he’s really the voice of the Conservative government in Scotland. It would make not the slightest bit of practical difference to Scotland if Scotland Office was abolished and replaced with a voice mail message saying, “Shut up and do what you’re told ungrateful Jockos. Leave a message after the beep if you want, but no one is going to listen to it.”

Despite losing most of its functions after devolution, the department has in recent years mushroomed in expense, and in the number of staff it employs. The cost is taken out of Scottish funding. These staff members and this money isn’t used for the benefit of Scotland, they’re used for the benefit of the British government. Nowadays the Scotland Office is nothing more than a blatant propaganda department selling the British government to the people of Scotland. We have no need for it. We already have BBC Scotland for that sort of thing.


COOL-LAUNCH-POSTER-web-glasgow

This weekend I am speaking at the launch of Greg Moodie’s new book Cool Scots. The book launch will be downstairs in the Yes Bar in Glasgow from 2pm. Entrance is free and everyone is welcome.


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GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.

How I made Britnat trolls work for me

I had planned to publish this piece yesterday, but the BBC shutdown of Wings Over Scotland’s and Moridura’s YouTube Channels was too important not to blog about immediately. Quite incredibly, it now transpires that the BBC closed down Stu Campbell’s YouTube channel because he’d published the video of the BBC interviewing Stu Campbell. When she took over as director of BBC Scotland a wee while ago, Donalda MacKinnon spoke about how important it was for BBC Scotland to rebuild trust with its viewers. So how’s that working out, Donalda?

Huge thanks to all my amazing readers who have supported my fundraiser and sent messages of goodwill and support. Due to all the amazing readers of this blog, the target of £10,000 has been well and truly smashed. A total of £20,224 has been raised, including £8,851 donated via the GoFundMe platform, £9,834 through Paypal, and £1,539 directly by cheque, bank transfer, or other sources. The GoFundMe page remains active until the notional target is met. https://www.gofundme.com/wee-ginger-fundraiser

Now that the fundraiser has more than doubled the target I can let you all in on how I’ve used the fundraiser to troll the Britnat trolls on social media. I’ve already explained this in an article for The National, but blog readers need their own explanation too.

I don’t like doing fundraisers. As a pro-indy blogger, you always get a load of hate comments from British nationalist trolls anyway, but doing a fundraiser always brings them out from underneath the red white and blue painted stones where they usually lurk. Their reaction to a fundraiser makes my twitter feed seem like wading through a lake of British bile and vomit – although to be fair that isn’t hugely different from how it normally looks, which is a major reason why I don’t usually look at it any more.

Since I knew that I was in for a torrent of crap from British nationalist trolls, net curtain twitcher, and zoomers anyway, I decided that this year I’d make the British nationalist trolls work for me. It turns out that it is indeed possible to make the Brian Spanners of this world serve a useful purpose for a pro-indy blogger. You do it by trolling them back and making their hate serve your own ends and not theirs. That’s precisely what I’ve done.

I knew that by mentioning my upcoming wedding in the fundraiser that it would provoke the trolls. I could have done the fundraiser without mentioning it at all, and chances are that it would still have reached its target, after all people are helping the fundraiser because they appreciate my blogging and my work for the indy movement, not because they want to help some random person get married to their foreign fiance. However I took the deliberate decision to mention my forthcoming wedding in the fundraiser, and to detail the need to ensure that income is above a certain level due to the restrictive and inhumane visa regulations for spouses of UK citizens which were introduced by Theresa May as Home Secretary.

I knew that the British nationalists would focus their ire entirely on the money. That was fine with me, in fact that’s what I wanted them to do.  They didn’t let me down. The trolls might have been outraged by my fundraiser, but the Home Office doesn’t care. As long as an income is legally made and declared for tax, the Home Office isn’t permitted to take into account the fact that British nationalist zoomers on social media dislike my politics.

For those deeply jealous British nationalists on Twitter who are still pronouncing self-righteously that I had better make sure that the fundraiser money is declared for tax, let me explain this to you one more time, and perhaps it may percolate through your petty little minds. Cease your frothing for two minutes and pay attention. Declaring the fundraiser money as taxable income and paying the relevant tax is the entire point of the fundraiser. It’s my tax return which has to be submitted to the Home Office as proof of income. If I don’t declare what I have raised in the fundraiser, it won’t count as income, and if it doesn’t count as income it’s not going to assist me to get my new husband into the UK. Got it yet? Probably not, but hey. There’s no cure for stupid.

While the Home Office might not be interested in a source of taxable income other than ensuring that it’s legal and subject to the relevant income tax, there is another provision in visa applications that they are very interested in. That’s receiving proof that the visa applicant is indeed in a genuine relationship with a UK citizen, and that it’s not a marriage of convenience for the purposes of getting entry into the UK.

The howls of protest from British nationalists on social media about this vile cybernat raising money to pay for his wedding to his American boyfriend merely provide further proof that my partner and I are indeed in a genuine relationship. All of the hate indirectly provides supporting evidence that my partner and I are indeed in a genuine relationship, before the event of our wedding.

I’ve complied a dossier of the tweets, Facebook posts, and the 2500 word hate article in an anti-independence blog. There the poor sap was thinking he was attacking me, and all he was achieving with his 2500 words of semi-articulate hate was giving me precisely what I wanted. It was the funniest thing the talentless hack has ever written. I laughed all the way through reading it, but not for the reasons the writer wanted people to laugh. By the way, if he’s reading this – see when you write the dialogue of comedy foreigners in seemple Eenglish, it just makes you come across as a bit racist. Free writing tip for you there from a professional.

Even better, one clown on Twitter with a Union fleg in his avatar actually copied the Home Office into his Tweets decrying the fundraiser, and called on his pals to do the same. So now before getting married, I have evidence that the Home Office has already been informed that I am marrying my actual boyfriend, and not some random stranger. I wept when I read those tweets. With laughter.

Provoking British nationalist zoomers on social media into providing this kind of evidence was precisely the reason for mentioning my wedding in the fundraiser. The Bag of Spanners are so predictable. Trolling them is easy. All this time they thought they were ridiculing an indy blogger, and all this time they were actually working for me and fulfilling my ends by doing exactly what I wanted them to do. They were being played. They were being used. When they went online to call indy supporters gullible for contributing, the real gullible ones were those British nationalists doing the complaining. As the well known saying goes, ha ha, get it right up yese.

So thank you to the British nationalist frothers and ranters, the zoomers and the xenophobes who have all unwittingly provided a mountain of extra supporting evidence that is going to assist my partner’s visa application. Your entirely anticipated hate has given me immense joy and has only worked to serve my own ends. And it was so easy. They are so predictably malignant. My partner and I will be laughing all the way down the aisle. Let that be a lesson to you, Britnat trolls, when you are so blinded by hate, you are so easy to manipulate. A ball of putty has more resilience.

But there is a more serious point here. It was very easy for me to manipulate the British nationalist trolls on social media, and I am a person that they ridicule and despise. Just think how easily they can be manipulated by that British nationalist media which they trust and respect. That’s why they are happy to accept developments which damage their own interests and the interests of Scotland and why they howl in outrage against those of us who try to warn of the dangers. They’re really being used by a British establishment which is only interested in itself. The real trolls in the UK are the ones in Westminster and their pals in the British nationalist press.

But last and by no means least, thank you a million times to all my wonderful readers who’ve supported this blog and continue to do so. Now I have been able to let you in on the joke at the British nationalists’ expense, I hope that you have enjoyed reading about it as much as I have enjoyed carrying it out.  It just shows how petty minded individuals will always lose, and how love and hope will always triumph over hate and fear.

The British nationalist trolls have been well and truly trolled. In the year to come and right through the coming independence referendum I will continue to amuse and entertain my loyal readers, and will continue to be a thorn in the flesh of our British nationalist friends.

The final score is Love 20,224, Hate nil.

xx


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my 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.

Gaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps.  T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes.  P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each.  P&P is £4 for up to two books.  Payment can be made via Paypal.

Free speech, except for viewers in Scotland

The BBC doesn’t exactly have a great reputation in Scotland for fairness and a lack of bias. Trust in the Corporation in Scotland is low, and you’ll be more likely to find someone who thinks that Creationist website demonstrates a proper understanding of the theory of evolution than you’ll find an independence supporter who believes that the public service broadcaster – which we all pay for – gives a fair hearing to the indy movement. Given that, you’d think that the BBC would tread extra carefully in its dealings with the independence movement, and would be particularly careful not to alienate even further that half of the Scottish population which views it with deep suspicion as the propaganda arm of the British state. But no. Instead the BBC has decided to trash its chances of reassuring the half of the people of Scotland who support independence.

Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland, and Peter Curran who curates the YouTube channel Moridura, both do invaluable work in holding the overwhelmingly anti-independence Scottish media to account. An important part of that work consists of putting online clips from BBC politics programmes, clips which highlight the mendacity of the British nationalist parties, their failure to uphold the promises and commitments that they have made to the people of Scotland, and their undermining of the devolution settlement. Putting these clips online is perfectly legal and falls under the “fair use” clause of copyright law. It is vital to the proper functioning of a democracy that people are able to discuss, view and comment on political developments – many of which are broadcast on the BBC. On Saturday, the BBC launched a series of copyright claims against both Stu Campbell and Peter Curran, resulting in their entire YouTube channels being taken down.

What has made it even worse is that at least one of those affected has not received any formal notification from the BBC or YouTube of which clips have been deemed to break copyright rules, meaning that attempts to complain about the shutdown are mired in a Kafkaesque nightmare. Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland has not been told which clips are supposedly in breach of copyright rules, although YouTube demands details of the affected clips before it will take any action. It’s impossible to complain about something when you are not being told what it is that you need to complain about.

The effect of the shutdown is that the BBC is claiming that statements made by politicians are the legal property of the BBC just because the BBC happened to broadcast them first. The BBC is taking it upon itself to decide how a politician’s words are to be framed, when and where they can be seen, and how they can be interpreted. That’s a chilling development in a democracy and a direct attack on free speech. It would be bad enough in any democracy, but in a Scotland where the print media is overwhelmingly biased against a constitutional view held by almost half the population, it represents a direct and immediate threat to Scottish democracy. Making this development even worse is fact that BBC Scotland, uniquely amongst the BBC “regions”, prohibits comments from the public on its own website. The BBC is giving a very good impression of a public service broadcaster which wants to shut down and control public debate and discussion.

However what makes this latest development in the BBC’s war on Scottish public debate even more alarming, and suggests that it is politically motivated, is the fact that the Corporation has left untouched all those clips being used by anti-independence parties, individuals, and organisations. BBC clips are still appearing on the YouTube channels of the Scottish Conservatives, the Labour party, and certain anti-independence campaigners. It seems that it’s fine to use BBC clips to portray the Scottish government and the SNP in a bad light, but don’t dare imagine that you can use them to criticise the British state or the BBC. If you wanted an illustration of the double standards which underpin media coverage of the Scottish constitutional debate you couldn’t find a clearer one.

You shouldn’t have to be a supporter of Scottish independence to be concerned by what appears, on the face of it, to be a politically motivated attack by our public service broadcaster on alternative media outlets which support independence for Scotland.

Naturally our searching and probing Scottish media has reacted to this alarming development with the same outrage with which it reacted to the non-silencing of Stephen Daisley by the SNP. Poor Stephen was so silenced that him and his pals had to write all about it in article after article in the British nationalist press. The pages of our fearless Scottish media are exactly like that today, stoutly defending the right of pro-indy activists to the fair use of clips from BBC programmes which those self-same independence activists have themselves have helped to pay for. There are dozens of editorials highlighting the hypocrisy of a Corporation which has only targetted one side in Scotland’s constitutional debate.

Well, at least there are in an alternative universe where Scotland has a media that is representative of the range of opinions and views found in the country and isn’t just a fanclub for Ruth Davidson, colluding with her in her attempts to hide from difficult questions. We’re still waiting on answers about the dark money and dodge donations to the Scottish Tories, and we’ll be waiting until well after doomsday if we’re relying on the Scottish press to get them for us. Doomsday is actually happening in March next year, that’s also thanks to the Tories.

The BBC’s lack of balance during the first independence referendum campaign, its blatant support for British nationalists in Scotland, its studied refusal to allow a proper airing of the pro-independence side, have all been well documentated. It seems that the BBC has learned nothing about the need to build bridges and restore trust amongst viewers in Scotland, and is gearing up to approach the second Scottish independence referendum campaign in the same biased and overtly British nationalist way. That makes it all the more important that as independence campaigners we get organised, we marshall our resources, and we work to develop our own alternative media.

The British state knows that it has destroyed all the arguments that it deployed against us in 2014. This latest travesty in what passes for British democracy in Scotland is just another sign that they’re very scared indeed.

I had planned to write an update to the fundraiser today, but this alarming attack by the BBC on freedom of speech and discussion in Scotland is far more important. I’ll do the fundraiser update tomorrow.


WEE GINGER FUNDRAISER

GINGER2croppedIt’s that time of year again. It’s been a year since I last did a fundraiser. This year is going to be a particularly expensive one for me personally. There’s a wedding to pay for, and I need to ensure that my earnings are sufficient to prove to the Home Office that I am able to import my American spouse into Scotland to live here permanently. As well as the need to demonstrate a minimum level of annual income, £18,600, there are also hefty legal and visa fees to pay.

I really don’t like doing fundraisers, and I really don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I work my wee socks off for the independence movement. I publish this blog, and I do talks to local indy groups all over Scotland without asking for a fee. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoy it. It’s a huge privilege to meet all the wonderful, talented, and committed people who make the Scottish independence movement something really special. However it takes up a lot of time and energy to keep blogging and doing public talks, time and energy that I could be using to generate an income to prove to the Home Office that I am able to support my American spouse.

The truth is that if every regular reader of this blog gave just one pound a year, I’d be pulling in well over £100,000 annually. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Publishing and selling books and maps helps, as does selling t-shirts, but it’s pretty hit and miss. I do get paid by The National for my twice weekly articles, but that doesn’t pay anything like as much as you might think it would. In order to be confident that I can meet the minimum income requirements demanded by the Home Office, cover the cost of a wedding on both sides of the Atlantic, and cover the fees required to pay the visas and associated legal costs, I need to do a fundraiser for £10,000.

Any help you can give would be immensely appreciated. Help me to keep campaiging, and help me to show that Scotland is a welcoming place for migrants – at least one special migrant in particular, the man I’m going to marry in October.

You can donate by clicking the following link and donating on my Gofundme page.
https://www.gofundme.com/wee-ginger-fundraiser

Alternatively you can donate by clicking on the Paypal “Donate” button on this page, or by logging in to www.paypal.com and making a payment to me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com If you would prefer to donate by some other method, cash, cheque, or bank transfer, please contact me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details.

Many thanks for all your support. You’ve no idea how much it means to me.

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my 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.

Great British Nessie farming

Well that didn’t last long did it. A deal which it took members of the Conservative cabinet two years to strike was trashed by the EU in as many weeks. This is what happens when you have a UK government which is more interested in negotiating with itself about an unrealistic fantasy of Empire 2.0 than in dealing with the realities of the UK’s status as a middle ranking European nation which needs friends and close allies in order to survive and prosper.

It’s a bit like if you and your significant other have a long and protracted argument about buying a Nessie farm. You fall out over whether to have the ponds in stables attached to the house, or in a separate building. One of you spends weeks sleeping on the sofa, and huffing every time the other comes into the room. At dinner, you tell the cat to ask your partner to pass the salt. Eventually you and your spouse come to a torturous agreement with one another, and decide on premises which are magically suspended in the air. You want your own part of the property to have six en-suite bedrooms, set deep in the countryside with stunning views over St Kilda from a hilltop near Pitlochry, and superfast broadband that also allows you to teleport to Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Then you go to the bank for a mortgage and tell them that you don’t want to spend more than what it would cost to buy a 1998 Ford Fiesta. However as a sweetener, you can put down a deposit of 37p, a 5 eurocent coin that you found down the back of the sofa, a voucher offering 20% off a purchase of a family sized bucket of chicken from KFC, and a collection of dog-eared Oor Wullie albums with several pages missing, all of which date to long after the death of Dudley D Watkins when they got a bit crap. You make sure to tell the bank that they depend on your custom. Then you get all annoyed when you’re turned down, and you blame it on foreigners.

To everyone who knows that you can’t buy Nessie farms, even Nessie farms which have the crappy 2mb broadband that much of rural Scotland suffers with, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s refusal to countenance Theresa May’s Chequers plan comes as no surprise. To supporters of Brexit however, it’s all just part of a vile EUSSR plot to do Britain down, one which is aided and abetted by treasonous non-believers in Nessie farming who form a traitorous fifth column of elitists within the UK. That would be folk like me then. I plan to spend a part of my elitist day elitistly shopping in Morrisons in Easterhouse before returning to my elite flat up an elite close in the East End of Glasgow, that well known nest of the global elite. That’s how crazed British politics have become, merchant bankers, millionaires, Eton-educated indolents with a sense of entitlement the size of a planet, hedgefund managers, and stockbrokers tell ordinary people that they are challenging the elite. Brexit hasn’t just removed a grounding in reality from the British political system, it has destroyed any semblance of common sense.

Brexit has produced so many surreal moments, but surely one of the most surreal is the likes of Eton educated millionaire hedge fund managers such as Jacob Rees Mogg characterising the likes of a working class comprehensive school educated blogger from the East End of Glasgow as a member of an out of touch elite. There’s fake news, and then there’s standing reality on its head. But then the British state these days is the leading exponent of the politics of the demented, and there’s some pretty stiff competition globally.

To seriously put forward a no-deal Brexit as a sensible, indeed desirable, policy is a sign that the British political establishment has become completely unhinged. So unhinged in fact that a Nessie farmer could slag it off for mythological thinking. The fact that a no-deal Brexit is even being considered is a symptom of the terminal illness that afflicts the UK political system. The UK is a state which has been unable to come to terms with the fact that it is no longer a global superpower, no longer the possessor of a huge empire, no longer capable of asserting its might on the rest of the world. It is a state that spends its days in an incontinent reverie, daydreaming of glories long past, glories that only ever benefitted a tiny proportion of the population.

Not so long ago, it was the opponents of Scottish independence who claimed that the independence movement was based in magical thinking, in romantic fantasy, and in unrealistic expectations. Now we know that is really a property of British nationalism, not its Scottish variety. Scottish nationalism does indeed dream, but its dreams are about looking to the future, not to the past. And it is founded in a realistic view of Scotland as a small European nation which must build friendships and alliances.

The Scottish debate is not a debate between nationalists and non-nationalists, however much opponents of independence would like us to believe. The real blood and soil nationalists, the xenophobes, the outright fascists, the bigots and supremacists, they’re overwhelmingly on the anti-independence side of this debate. Opponents of independence don’t get to tell us that they oppose independence because they don’t like nationalism, not while they defend the British state and the nationalism that it embodies.

The Scottish debate is a debate between two visions of Scotland, one founded in a realistic view of Scotland and its potential in the world, the other founded in the tortured dreamscape of British nationalists who are still grieving for an empire that’s long gone. Only one of those visions allows the people of Scotland to decide for themselves which path this country should take. Only one of those visions allows the people of Scotland to have a voice. Only one of those visions is Nessie farming, and it’s not the one that looks to an independent Scotland. Only one of those visions allows us to sell Scotland to the world as Scotland, and not plastered with a Union fleg as a Great British loch monster. Independence is Scotland’s escape route to reality. Let’s take it.


WEE GINGER FUNDRAISER

GINGER2croppedIt’s that time of year again. It’s been a year since I last did a fundraiser. This year is going to be a particularly expensive one for me personally. There’s a wedding to pay for, and I need to ensure that my earnings are sufficient to prove to the Home Office that I am able to import my American spouse into Scotland to live here permanently. As well as the need to demonstrate a minimum level of annual income, £18,600, there are also hefty legal and visa fees to pay.

I really don’t like doing fundraisers, and I really don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I work my wee socks off for the independence movement. I publish this blog, and I do talks to local indy groups all over Scotland without asking for a fee. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoy it. It’s a huge privilege to meet all the wonderful, talented, and committed people who make the Scottish independence movement something really special. However it takes up a lot of time and energy to keep blogging and doing public talks, time and energy that I could be using to generate an income to prove to the Home Office that I am able to support my American spouse.

The truth is that if every regular reader of this blog gave just one pound a year, I’d be pulling in well over £100,000 annually. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Publishing and selling books and maps helps, as does selling t-shirts, but it’s pretty hit and miss. I do get paid by The National for my twice weekly articles, but that doesn’t pay anything like as much as you might think it would. In order to be confident that I can meet the minimum income requirements demanded by the Home Office, cover the cost of a wedding on both sides of the Atlantic, and cover the fees required to pay the visas and associated legal costs, I need to do a fundraiser for £10,000.

Any help you can give would be immensely appreciated. Help me to keep campaiging, and help me to show that Scotland is a welcoming place for migrants – at least one special migrant in particular, the man I’m going to marry in October.

You can donate by clicking the following link and donating on my Gofundme page.
https://www.gofundme.com/wee-ginger-fundraiser

Alternatively you can donate by clicking on the Paypal “Donate” button on this page, or by logging in to www.paypal.com and making a payment to me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com If you would prefer to donate by some other method, cash, cheque, or bank transfer, please contact me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details.

Many thanks for all your support. You’ve no idea how much it means to me.

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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This is where we are now

Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had urged people to vote Yes warning that the British state would be stockpiling supplies of food and vital medicines, that it would be making contingency plans for the lights going out, and that ports were threatened with gridlock and planes might not fly, we would have been accused of ridiculous scaremongering. Even the frothiest and zoomiest of anti-independence campaigners who predicted all sorts of dire events for an independent Scotland didn’t dare claim that the country could be facing food shortages and a return to rationing. But that’s exactly where we are in the British state this last summer before Brexit.

Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had told the people of Scotland that the only way that Scotland could be certain of membership of the EU would be by voting for independence, the British nationalists would have ridiculed us and called us liars. It was only by voting to remain a part of the UK, they claimed with the certitude of the self-righteous, that Scotland could ever retain its place amongst the family of European nations. And that place was as a subordinate adjunct to a UK that punched above its weight in the corridors of Brussels. Yet here we are now, four years on, leaving the EU despite the fact that Scotland voted to remain by a much larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland has vastly more influence on the course of Brexit than the UK government does. Scotland doesn’t even get a say, never mind a place at the top table. Estonia, with a population a quarter the size of Scotland’s, gets a veto, Scotland gets vetoed whenever it opens its mouth. How’s that punching above your weight working out for you Scotland?

Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had warned that instead of strengthening devolution as it had promised, the British state would be doing its utmost to undermine the devolution settlement and would be taking the Scottish Parliament to the Supreme Court in order to overturn a bill that Holyrood had passed with the support of all parties except the Tories, we would have been accused of being hysterical liars. It seems highly unlikely that the current devolution settlement can survive in the unitary state that the Conservatives seem to have in mind for the UK after it has left the European Union. Yet Scotland didn’t vote to leave the EU, Scotland didn’t vote for the devolution settlement to be changed, Scotland didn’t vote for a fundamental restructuring of the British state that harms Scotland’s interests. Worse, Scotland wasn’t even consulted. But that’s exactly where we are in this summer of devodeath before Brexit.

Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had warned that Scottish products were going to be rebranded as British, and we’d see British shortbread, British whisky, British square slice and British Aberdeen Angus in our shops, all plastered with Union flegs, we’d have been accused of being petty minded scaremongerers. But Scottish products are at threat as never before. Brexit threatens to strip distinctively Scottish products of the protection that they currently enjoy, and any manufacturer anywhere in the world will be able to sell an alcoholic drink branded as Scotch whisky, or Stornoway Black Pudding made with genetically modified American crops. But that’s exactly where we are in this last summer of Scottish shopping before Brexit.

Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had cast aspersions on the solidity of British democracy, we’d have been howled down in rage. But we’ve seen dodgy donations and dark money funding the Scottish Conservatives. We’ve seen allegations of Russian involvement in the Brexit campaign. We’ve seen an official leave campaign which drove a coach and horses through electoral law and which received a minor slap on the wrist in the form of a fine that was a tiny fraction of the money that it had illegally spent. This is where we are now, being dragged out of the EU on the basis of an unfair vote.

Back in 2014, if independence campaigners had told voters in Scotland that within a few short years the far right would be soaring in UK opinion polls, that the Tories would have become all but indistinguishable from Ukip, and that Tory politicians were calling for the treason laws to be extended in order to prosecute people in favour of the EU or supportive of Scottish independence, we’d have been laughed at. Better Together had told us that the UK was a bulwark of tolerance and moderation, and our only protection against political extremism. No one is laughing now, as we face the spectre of a resurgent far right, one that’s wrapped in the Union fleg, one that has grown under the cover of a British nationalism whose main distinctive feature is the unshakeable belief that it’s not nationalist at all. This is where we are now, because four years ago Scotland voted no.

Back in 2014, we were told by the Labour party that it stood for devolution, that it was the guarantor of Scotland’s interests within the British state. And yet despite the unfolding horror, despite the utter incompetence, the sheer ineptitude, the total failure of British politics, despite the undermining of the devolution settlement, despite the thousands of jobs which might be lost, despite the hundreds of thousands of lives which face disruption, despite the humiliation of the UK on the global stage, despite the rise of the extreme right and the destruction of democratic accountability, there are still Labour politicians in Scotland who say that the worst thing to come out of all of this is that it reopens the question of Scottish independence. This is where we are now, with a Labour party exposed as a mouthpiece for the British state which abstains instead of opposing the Tories.

Back in 2014, a lot of people still believed in the promises and reassurances of Westminster. Now even those who trusted them before know that a vow from Westminster isn’t worth the newsprint it’s printed on. This is where we are now, on the verge of a second independence referendum, on the verge of an independent Scotland, because we were lied to, betrayed, taken for fools, taken for granted. Westminster’s tragedy is that it only has itself to blame, but Westminster’s tragedy will be Scotland’s opportunity. This is where we are now.

Independence will come about because of the shortcomings and failures of those who say that they love the British state. In years to come we will look back on 2014 as the year that the British state threw away its last chance to keep Scotland within the UK. 2014 isn’t where we are now, and that’s why the next independence referendum will have a very different outcome to the first.


WEE GINGER FUNDRAISER

GINGER2croppedIt’s that time of year again. It’s been a year since I last did a fundraiser. This year is going to be a particularly expensive one for me personally. There’s a wedding to pay for, and I need to ensure that my earnings are sufficient to prove to the Home Office that I am able to import my American spouse into Scotland to live here permanently. As well as the need to demonstrate a minimum level of annual income, £18,600, there are also hefty legal and visa fees to pay.

I really don’t like doing fundraisers, and I really don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but I work my wee socks off for the independence movement. I publish this blog, and I do talks to local indy groups all over Scotland without asking for a fee. Don’t get me wrong, I greatly enjoy it. It’s a huge privilege to meet all the wonderful, talented, and committed people who make the Scottish independence movement something really special. However it takes up a lot of time and energy to keep blogging and doing public talks, time and energy that I could be using to generate an income to prove to the Home Office that I am able to support my American spouse.

The truth is that if every regular reader of this blog gave just one pound a year, I’d be pulling in well over £100,000 annually. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that. Publishing and selling books and maps helps, as does selling t-shirts, but it’s pretty hit and miss. I do get paid by The National for my twice weekly articles, but that doesn’t pay anything like as much as you might think it would. In order to be confident that I can meet the minimum income requirements demanded by the Home Office, cover the cost of a wedding on both sides of the Atlantic, and cover the fees required to pay the visas and associated legal costs, I need to do a fundraiser for £10,000.

Any help you can give would be immensely appreciated. Help me to keep campaiging, and help me to show that Scotland is a welcoming place for migrants – at least one special migrant in particular, the man I’m going to marry in October.

You can donate by clicking the following link and donating on my Gofundme page.
https://www.gofundme.com/wee-ginger-fundraiser

Alternatively you can donate by clicking on the Paypal “Donate” button on this page, or by logging in to www.paypal.com and making a payment to me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com If you would prefer to donate by some other method, cash, cheque, or bank transfer, please contact me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details.

Many thanks for all your support. You’ve no idea how much it means to me.

You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my 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.

Carrot and stick, but mainly stick!

A guest post by Samuel Miller

It was inevitable really (sigh).

Last week, as we are all well aware, UK government had a near biblical meltdown. Politics UK style and government were, by any standard, reduced to a near *shambolic mess. (*Way too big a list to go through folks, so just see the previous post)

As I was saying, what came next was entirely predictable and inevitable. That being, Scotland’s regular reminder of how vital and cherished blah, blah. Internal market, waffle. SNP baddery, boo hiss. Released, of course, side by side with examples of how uniquely unsuited we are for, and how completely maahhhhd we’d have to be to consider, self government. Obviously! Mind you, I’m not entirely sure your average policy wonk or supporter of political orthodoxy has yet grasped the true meaning of union or unity in that lot. Which is…

UNITY: NOUN: oneness, being one or single or individual; due interconnection of parts; harmony between persons etc; thing forming a complex whole;

Personally, I’m still not feeling that whole harmony between persons, parliaments or governments at the moment and seeing less and less evidence of oneness across the board by the day. Also, I’m fairly disinclined to feel said unity or oneness with any Tory’s definition of Britishness and/or government. Just sayin’.

No. What Scotland’s electorate got instead was a debate in parliament about ‘strengthening the union’. (see under – reminding the natives of better togetherness. Also? 2014 was the end of democracy and the changing of your mind… FOREVER!). Worth considering, but you’d have thought the Government of the United Kingdom, and those parties who are pro Westminster system, would have and should have, put more thought into that whole strengthening unions and partnership thing a while back? Y’know, BEFORE throwing the populations of these islands into the constitutional and economic mincer of austerity ideology and Brexit. Seems a bit thought-LESS actually. Maybe that’s just me though. (If you want a blow by blow of the debate? Go HERE)

The cherry on top came from Secretary of State for (something or other), David Mundell, speaking in Edinburgh:

Fair do’s. Mr Mundell did get this partially, (and I do mean partially), correct. A ‘no deal’ scenario being bad for Scotland really can safely be filed under who knew(?) though. In fact Brexit, in all of its scenarios, is a bad thing for Scotland. We know this because the impact assessments of both UK gov and Scotgov apparently agree on this point. However, the whole ‘preferable to breaking up the United Kingdom’ bit is most DEFINITELY arguable. Especially since it was the practice of politics, the parliament and government of the United Kingdom which, also arguably, placed the populations of the UK in this predicament in the first place. Or were they not really in charge of making these decisions? Big boy did it and ran away perhaps?

We also had a ‘think tank’, (see under – NOT exactly pro Scottish self government organisation), release a paper which conclusively proves that pro UK government supporters don’t think being a self governing, independent nation state is a good idea for Scotland. Unless it’s their idea of a United Kingdom independent nation state, in which case that’s a good idea. Different strokes I suppose. Worth mentioning though, that a lot of people paid attention to pro Westminster think tanks last indyref as I recall. How did that work out for Scotland’s population so far d’you think? At the end of the day, I’d say you pays your money and pick your think tank. I’ll pass on yet another doom laden black hole prophesy/economic cataclysm for Scotland thanks. Anyways, I’d say the horse has already actually kinda bolted on that one under the current UK government.

Finally we come to the bribe. Oh, and it’s a beaut. A UK spaceport to be based in Scotland no less. Unless of course we become independent and then it won’t happen at all. DAMN THAT INDEPENDENCE! Frankly, I’m struggling to see what the building of a spaceport has to do with the principle of Scotland’s population governing themselves? Again, maybe just me, but prioritising the kind of government we want. Prioritising the correct administration, the needs we wish to see attended to and the care we wish to see applied by that government might be considered fairly important.  Goes a long way to determining the teeny matter of the kind of country we want to live in. Also, I’d say those points are all a bit more pertinent to the debate than a sometime, (mibbies never), bribe.

The reality of Westminster government and the bestest union in the history of unions, appears to be somewhat different from mainstream political narrative though. Today the self same parliament, which yesterday discussed means of strengthening the union, is taking the Scottish parliament to the Supreme Court to determine who has the right to claim and exercise otherwise non reserved powers returning from the EU upon Brexit taking effect. Those would be your powers by the by. But still, it’s for our own good, partners and family of nations, leading with… etc. Not such a friendly family after all then?

You’d be forgiven by this point for holding the opinion that those defending their preciousss, preciousss, seemingly do so by intimidation, misrepresentation, belittling and abuse of power. Let’s face it, they do have the soapbox and they do have the access. Who is there to stop them from enacting such abuses?

Other than you perhaps?

In my own opinion, the parties of Westminster’s political class and their practice of politics are a byword for exclusion and alienation of demographics. Clearly they seem to believe only in a status quo which favours party or personal interest over duty of care. The UK’s evolving (cough) constitution? A serving suggestion open to interpretation and semantic amendment by turn and/or expedience. Long standing agreements and pledges apparently are for lesser mortals and a moveable feast for the UK’s government, (ask the devolved administrations or the EU about that).

On the basis of what most of us have seen and experienced over the past four years. Just why should those alienated by Tories, Labour or any other pro Westminster party, vote for their vision of government? Their idea of what they laughably call unity or identity? Why for instance, would any EU resident in the UK vote for continued Tory government after what they’ve witnessed in the past few weeks alone? A government that has betrayed their trust and even now is using their futures and their rights as a bargaining chip in a demented negotiation process.

Readers might also be forgiven at this point, for observing that there is little stability, safety, or hope for a socially just society to be found in a UK government of any stripe. There is however Brexit and a never ending austerity ideology. There are alarmingly increasing levels of societal, cultural, ethnic and religious alienation. There is an ever widening wealth gap. There are also increasing levels of poverty and the prospect of more yet to come. There is the very real threat of self imposed national and international isolation. That’s the reality of Westminster government today and I’m seeing no good reasons or argument to believe it will change going forward.

Seems to me in fact that there’s very little carrot on offer, but quite a lot of stick.

You can, as ever, make up your own mind on that folks. Just as you can, IF YOU WANT, change your mind on a past decision. Make a new, more informed by time and events type choice and maybe, just maybe, avoid a fair chunk of the unfolding omnishambles we see before us today.

Worth a thought.

Absent Without Leave

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Readers, I’m not entirely sure where to begin? We started the week with the fallout from the Chequers deal and some ministerial resignations. Then we had the EC’s ruling on the leave campaign’s alleged questionable shenanigans, cross party backstabbery over said Chequers deal and crucial Commons votes on the nature of Brexit UK (Now looking increasingly like a hard or no deal Brexit). A pairing scandal on those votes also reared its ugly head and the catastrophic failure of UK national government to keep its own house in order seemed to complete the picture. You’d think that’d be enough to be getting on with. Y’know, pretty much the collapse of politics in the UK’s big hoose.

The end of the week however? What can you say?

Then (Dec 2017) – conditions of Phase 1 agreement: Main points from agreement between UK and EU –  ” It leaves unclear how an open border will be achieved but says in the absence of a later agreement, the UK will ensure “full alignment” with the rules of the customs union and single market that uphold the Belfast Agreement.” (My bold)

Now (July 2018) – Phase 2: “The economic and constitutional dislocation of a formal ‘third country’ customs border within our own country is something I will never accept, and I believe no British prime minister could ever accept,” Theresa May

Now presumably UK gov are aware of the four freedoms. They did spend some forty odd years helping create EU legislation and voting in the EU parliament after all. Clearly they’re well aware of the EU’s stated position since the referendum result.

Something I wrote in August of last year: “From the EU’s perspective, they aren’t going anywhere. They didn’t force anyone to do anything and didn’t kick anyone out, but they do have rules (as does any club). So far as they are concerned, those rules help ensure and facilitate peace, trade, access and rights between all of its member states. The remaining twenty seven nations agree to live by those rules and enshrined at the core are the four freedoms. They break those rules to accommodate the UK’s wish list and what point the EU?”

So mibbies not a good idea to have signed up to the conditions of the phase one agreement if honouring it was going to prove… problematic? Just a thought.

Mind you historically your average Conservative parliamentarian isn’t all that big on honouring their word, which is ironic for a group of folk who never tire of referring to each other as right honourable members. (cough)

Aaaanyway. Yesterday’s predictable response by Michel Barnier to the white paper? “There are some elements [of the white paper] which do seem to contradict the guidelines of the EU council, the heads of government and state, namely the indivisibility of the four freedoms and the integrity of the single market,” 

Which is a pretty diplomatic and restrained way of saying ‘in your dreams’.

On Ms May’s statement? A cynical sort might suggest that Ms. May has apparently attempted to place blame for the endangerment of the Good Friday Agreement at the feet of the EU and partake in some maniacal political game of chicken. They might also suggest that Ms. May has thrown what’s left of the UK’s tattered political reputation onto a skip, poured petrol on the remains and then thrown a lit match onto the whole sorry mess.

Just to be clear. Any constitutional crisis which has arisen from the EU referendum’s result can surely be laid at only one door – the government of the United Kingdom. That would be your Conservative government. A government that was made fully aware of the endangerment of devolved settlements and standing national agreements before any ballot took place. They knew and apparently, they didn’t care. They were a bit busy sorting out their own party political pissing contest.

I mean, I think we’ve all seen some epically bad politics and political decisions over the years, but this from UKgov wins the prize. If people thought the beginning of the week was the culmination of two years of epic idiocy, then frankly I think we all need to start resetting our standards.

You know what is so depressing about all of this omnishambles? The predictability of the political spin and media coverage. The scapegoating and the insulting attempts to place blame at the feet of others. A government and party of government that refuses to accept responsibility for its own actions. A government that has taken nearly two years not to come up with a viable Brexit plan it should have had in place prior to an EU referendum. A referendum that arguably should never have taken place given standing national constitutional agreements, settlements and assurances. A government that then took time out to fight a leadership battle, two general elections and a court case in order to consolidate (badly) its own right to legislate without scrutiny. A government that was and is still, absent without leave on a voyage of self harm.

The general public? Confused, conflicted, concerned. Mushroom farmed*. (*Kept in the dark and fed on sh.. STUFF!)

This is maybe a good time to deliver your regular reminder that in Scotland you have a choice and a lifeboat. I’d say that’s worth some SERIOUS consideration about now.