A tale of two rallies

There were two political rallies in Scotland on Saturday. There was a pro-independence rally in Dundee which attracted 16,000 participants and was one of the biggest demonstrations that the city had ever seen. Then there was a rally in Edinburgh calling for a second EU referendum, which attracted a few hundred people, fewer than are attending some of the Festival events currently going on in the city. Guess which one of them was reported more prominently in the media?

The Guardian carried a report about the Edinburgh event on its front page. The Dundee rally wasn’t even mentioned. In yesterday’s Herald the Edinburgh event was the leading story on the paper’s website for some time, it took until Sunday for the Dundee rally to get a mention, and then it came below a story about that favourite trope of the Labour party, problems with the NHS. But we did get an opinion piece from Iain McWhirter claiming that hopes of an Indyref2 are fading, which must come as a surprise to just about every SNP member I’ve ever met. The Scotsman, which calls itself “the paper which knows Scotland”, carried a story about the Edinburgh rally focussing on former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell’s call on the SNP to back a second EU referendum. I couldn’t find any coverage of the Dundee rally on the Scotsman’s website . Although to be fair the paper’s website is such a mess of adverts and automatically loading videos that it’s pretty difficult to find anything on it at all.

There’s a deep hypocrisy that runs through the anti-independence Scottish media and many prominent opponents of independence. They’re determined to build political pressure to bring about a second referendum on the EU, while at the same time they are resolute, indeed staunch, in their opposition to a second referendum on Scottish independence. It seems that that once in a generation thing only applies selectively. Menzies Campbell campaigns for a second EU referendum while refusing to countenance a second Scottish independence referendum and is seemingly blind to the hypocrisy. But then he’s a Lib Dem, and hypocrisy is very much their thing. Just ask any student or voters in Orkney and Shetland.

As a supporter of a second Scottish independence referendum it would of course be hypocritical not to support a second referendum on EU membership. Both those referendums were won by campaigns which based their pitch on claims which were never going to be realised, and all too often on outright lies. In both cases, the electorate was sold a pup. If this was a commercial transaction, we could sue under the Trades Descriptions Act.

Better Together promised that if Scotland voted No then it would remain a part of the EU, that Scotland would be an equal partner in a family of nations, that devolution would be strengthened and entrenched and that no changes would be made to the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. We were promised a bonanza of jobs and investment. None of that turned out to be true.  The campaign was won with the BBC being turned into the propaganda arm of the British state, and an overwhelmingly anti-independence media which systematically sidelined pro-independence arguments.  There was no level playing field.

The Leave campaigns promised that the UK could leave the EU and strike the easiest deal in the history of deals, that leaving the EU would unleash millions a week to spend on the NHS, that British citizens, companies, goods, and services could continue to enjoy the same ease of access to the EU that they do with the UK a member of the EU. None of that turned out to be true.  The campaign was won by dark money and a leave campaign which broke electoral law.  There was no level playing field.

So yes, of course there ought to be a second EU referendum, and there ought to be a second Scottish independence referendum too. Democracy is not an event, it’s an ongoing process. Democracy is like a growing living tree. It needs to flourish. It needs to spread its roots. It needs to grow. Opponents of revisiting those votes want to cut down the tree and spray it in varnish, then tell us to stop complaining because we’ve still got a tree.

However as an independence supporter, I am not going to get behind a UK wide campaign for a second EU referendum, not until such time as that campaign recognises that what is sauce for the British goose is sauce for the Scottish gander. As supporters of Scottish independence we can offer all our sympathies and good wishes to those campaiging for a second EU referendum. But that doesn’t mean that we should give up on our own campaign in order to support theirs, certainly not while our support doesn’t come with a quid pro quo from the People’s Vote campaign, and an explicit recognition and promise from them that the question of Scottish independence needs to be revisited too.

Until that happens, and there’s no sign that it’s going to, I’m going to continue to concentrate my energies and efforts on ensuring that Scotland gets a Scottish vote on Scottish terms. There is no political advantage for Scottish independence supporters to defer our demands and political goals, and to subsume them in a UK wide campaign which will not answer our own demands. Yet again, Scotland is subject to demands from the English left and liberals to subordinate Scotland’s interests to those of England. We’ve seen where that one leads.

However what makes it worse is that there is not the slightest recognition from those leading the UK wide People’s Vote campaign that Scotland voted to remain in the UK in 2014 under false premises. It’s not simply that there are no apologies from them, it’s that there isn’t even the vaguest recognition from them that there is anything to apologise for. Instead we get the arrogant assumption from the leading lights of Britishness that the sole political purpose of Scotland is to rescue England from its own mistakes, that the job of Scotland is to clean up England’s political mess, and to do so without any recognition from that same British political establishment of Scotland’s needs or concerns.  If we do get behind their EU referendum and bring about the result that they want, those same people who campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014 will just go back to telling us that we need to vote No or we’re out of the EU.  Well frankly, screw that.

However it’s also a practical question of political realities. The reality is that it’s far more productive for supporters of Scottish independence to revisit the question of EU membership via an independence referendum. That means that Scotland can decide for itself whether it wishes to remain a part of the EU, and if it’s going to leave, on what terms, or if it’s going to be a member, then on what terms. There is a majority in the Scottish Parliament for an independence referendum, which means that the political will exists in order to bring one about. There’s a mass grassroots movement with the support of many thousands and local groups in every corner of the country which exists to campaign in it when it does come about.  A yes vote in that referendum will lead to a fundamental restructuring and realignment of Scottish politics.

That’s not the case with a second EU referendum. Even in Edinburgh, in the most pro-EU city in the entire UK, even with speakers who have UK-wide prominence in the media, the pro-EU rally struggled to attract more than a few hundred people. There’s no grassroots mass membership campaign on the ground to campaign in any vote that comes about. The leaderships of both the Conservatives and Labour remain implaccably opposed to another EU referendum. Even if a referendum did take place it’s not going to solve the divisions over Europe which plague British politics.  It will still be the same old story.

Campaigning for a second EU referendum may very well be the political equivalent of banging one’s head off a brick wall. On the other hand, campaigning for a second Scottish independence referendum is chapping on an unlocked door, a door which opens to a very different and better country.


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Poop scooping Ross Thomson

If Ross Thomson didn’t exist, no one, absolutely no one, would feel the need to invent him. No one would mourn his absence. No one would lament his loss. Without Ross, no one would feel there was an aching vacuum in this country’s public life, even though Ross is Scotland’s leading proponent of political vacuums, and indeed vacuum cleaners.

Now don’t get me wrong, Aberdeen is a fine city. Its citizens are fine people. But see if you voted for Ross Thomson, you voted for a muppet. An actual muppet. Not a metaphorical or rhetorical muppet. You voted for an actual brainless cloth puppet with a hand up its arse and an expression on its face that is the definition given in the Dictionary of the Scots Language for glaikit. Glaikit: adj. See Ross Thomson’s face. Origin obscure, but not as obscure as Ross Thomson’s positive contribution to Scottish politics.

If you voted for Ross Thomson you voted for your city to be serially embarrassed on the public stage. You voted for a succession of normal human beings to put their heads in their hands while sighing, “Oh dear God. Please make him stop.” You voted for a man who has become a byword for inanity. What’s wrong with the Tory party? you might ask. The answer comes – it’s just pure rossthomson. To which the only possible response is – aye well, you have a point there. Ross even makes Murdo Fraser seem balanced, sane, and the utterer of well thought out and intelligent comments. Just ponder that one for a wee second. And then weep. If you voted for Ross Thomson, this is your fault. Everyone in Scotland who isn’t a Tory voter, and a considerable number of those who are, is looking at you accusingly. You did this. This is your fault.

It wasn’t long ago that Ross was declaiming that the great achievement of Brexit will be to unleash vacuum cleaners that really suck on a public that’s aching for carpet cleanliness. It was even more recently that he was traipsing off to Japan where he witnessed a series of Japanese officials looking at one another in horror and then yelling at their subordinates 私は誰がこのバカを招いているのか知りたい! Watashi wa dare ga kono baka o maneite iru no ka shiritai! – which means “I want to know who is responsible for inviting this moron!”

But Ross just keeps on giving.  He has now inflicted yet another rossthomsonism on an undeserving Scottish public. Ross’s latest contribution to Scottish public discourse is to let us all know that having a dog is just like having a child, and then going on to complain about the homophobic abuse he receives. As a gay dad, I’d just like to thank Ross for letting heterosexual people think that dogs are gay people’s substitutes for having children. Way to go with smashing stereotypes there Ross. I’d just like to point out to Ross that the overwhelming majority of the abuse he receives is because he’s an idiot, and it has nothing to do with his sexuality. Besides, it’s not abuse to point out to an idiot that they’re being an idiot. That’s a public service.

Gay people don’t need dogs in order to experience having children. We can have children for that. And as an aside, some of us gay men were having kids with lesbians over two decades ago. Just putting that out there to those who think that Ross’s boss’s pregnancy is some sort of groundbreaking thing.

Anyway, as the guardian of one of Scotland’s most prominent pooches, and the father of two actual human beings, I can assure Ross that the two experiences are not remotely the same at all. You can lock a dog in a bedroom with no internet access or television and just a bowl of water for company, and when you come back hours later they’re thrilled to see you. You can’t say that about a teenager. You can trust your dog. You definitely can’t trust your child. I have never met a dog who decided that it was a good idea to put a metal container in a microwave oven because they wanted indoor fireworks. Dogs don’t keep asking you for money and are perfectly happy with an old sock and a cardboard box to play with. Also, if your child has the urge to stick its nose in the groins of strangers, this is definitely a sign that something has gone seriously wrong with your parenting, and social services need to be called.

There are other significant differences. When you fart, you can blame it on the dog. Try that with a child and they’re liable to object. Neither can you allow your child do a shite on the doorstep of your local Conservative MP, not even if you come armed with a small plastic bag and an expression of disgust. Although it’s perfectly fine for that Conservative MP to shit all over the rest of us. Public defecation isn’t something that is to be encouraged in children, although it’s perfectly normal if you’re a Tory MP.

By the way, it’s the very proud boast of Ginger the Dug that one time when we were doing a public talk in Galloway, the dug with his impeccable nose for Scottish politics, and after a long walk through places where he could have done a crap without anyone noticing, decided that he was going to do a huge shit on the office doorstep of Alister Jack, the local Tory MP. Despite being strongly tempted to leave it there, I did clean it up. Was a close call though. He has also peed on Oliver Mundell’s office in Lockerbie, and the Conservative offices in Crieff. None of this was due to any encouragement on my part. The dug is just blessed with an uncanny and instinctive sense of what is appropriate. Again, very much unlike a child.

Who knew that the dug would have so much in common with Ross Thomson, both have left the Tory party covered in crap. Ruth Davidson ought to arrange for someone to follow Ross around with a poop scoop. But then that would set a precedent and she’d have to arrange one for loads of Tory politicians and candidates.

But the biggest difference of all between children and dogs is that ultimately, we are teaching our children the skills that they need in order to leave us. Your dog will always be with you. Thankfully, Ross Thomson won’t. Come the next election, we can dispose of him like we dispose of a doggy poo bag.

I’ll be at the iScot stall at the Dundee rally tomorrow. If you’re there, come and say hello.


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British nationalism’s problem with extremism

The recent reports about the conviction of a right wing extremist in Edinburgh for making a bomb made for, ahem, interesting reading. Nazi thug Peter Morgan was sentenced to 12 years for making a bomb. Most of the reports in the press pictured him holding up a saltire together with a sign reading “White Pride”. Most of the reports mentioned that he had connections to the Scottish Defence League. Some of the reports, including those on the STV news site and the Edinburgh Evening News, found time and space to mention that Morgan considered himself a left leaning person and that he had told police officers that he had voted SNP in the past.

Any reasonable person who is not particularly well informed about the positions of far right grupiscules in Scotland, which is most of us, would read these reports and be left with the impression that Morgan might well have been a Scottish nationalist. The reports themselves didn’t lie. They were not “fake news”. They were accurate insofar as the facts that they did report are true and correct. They just succeeded in giving a misleading impression by not mentioning some other important facts, facts which reveal the truth about Morgan, a truth that’s uncomfortable for opponents of independence.

What was omitted from just about every report was that Morgan was well known amongst pro-independence campaigners as being one of those far right British nationalists who protested against pro-independence marches and rallies, where he was more typically to be found waving a Union fleg and hurling abuse at pro-indy campaigners. What none of the reports mentioned was that the Scottish Defence League has close connections to the far more numerous and better known English Defence League, and that both organisations share many members with the British National Party and its successors. The Scottish Defence League is most decidedly not a pro-independence organisation. There are plenty of other photos of Morgan circulating on social media which show him clutching a British flag, but it’s the one with the saltire and the racist sign that the newspapers chose to go with.

The reports in the press also forgot to mention that Morgan has a history of previous arrests for assaults on independence supporters. There are reports on social media that in September 2012 Morgan was arrested for assaulting an independence supporter at a pro-independence event in Edinburgh.

In other words, despite all the implications to the contrary in the British nationalist press, Morgan is a right wing extremist opponent of Scottish independence, and yet another exponent of far right British nationalism. More alarmingly, he’s a far right extremist British nationalist with a history of violence against independence supporters who has just been convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for making a bomb. This nasty little man isn’t the responsibility of the independence movement or Scottish nationalism, he’s very much a creature of Britishness. Morgan is an extreme symptom of the sickness of British nationalism in Scotland, a sickness which most commonly manifests itself in sectarianism and in the casual contempt which permits opponents of independence feel free to characterise independence supporters as anti-English racists.

You can be certain that if Morgan had indeed been a supporter of Scottish independence, that this fact would have been the most important piece of information in the news reports. It would have been the headline. It would have been followed up by anguished editorials in the anti-independence press about the cancer that lurks at the heart of the Scottish independence movement, and there would be repeated calls on Nicola Sturgeon to do something about it. It would have been headline news in all the papers and the leading story in the broadcast news. Yet following Morgan’s conviction and sentencing there was a blink and you’d miss it mention on the BBC. There was no explicit identification of him as a British nationalist, as an opponent of independence, or as a supporter of the British state.  Yet he is all these things.

There are no demands from the media for the mainstream British nationalist parties to condemn Morgan following his conviction. He is a convicted terrorist who has nothing to do with those parties, and they feel no need to condemn him or disassociate themselves from him. There is no need for them to distance themselves from a convicted terrorist. His politics of hate, of violence, and racism are not the politics of the mainstream parties. However that’s not what would have happened if the situation had been reversed, and Morgan had been an independence supporting terrorist. The media howls of outrage would be sustained. The actions and beliefs of this far right wing bomb maker would have been explicitly linked to the independence movement as a whole and to the Scottish Government.

What’s really distasteful about the media’s reporting of Morgan’s conviction is the attempt that it has made to disguise his true allegiences and to imply to the unwary that he wasn’t really a British nationalist extremist, that his terrorist politics are Scottish rather than British. What’s really distasteful is that yet again it illustrates the double standards of the Scottish media. Earlier this week Wings Over Scotland noted that the catastrophic collapse in newspaper sales in Scotland was far worse than the drop off in sales in other countries. This is most likely not unconnected to the fact that the Scottish media pursues a highly partisan agenda which is not shared by at least half of the population of Scotland.

British nationalism in Scotland has a problem with extremism and intolerance. We see it in sectarian parades. We see it in the succession of Conservative politicians who have been exposed as having racist, xenophobic, sectarian, or homophobic views. We see it in the far right Holocaust denier who protests against independence rallies.  Now we see it in people who have been convicted of terrorist offences. As long as the anti-independence media continues to dissemble, hide, and disguise the sickness that lurks at the heart of British nationalism in Scotland, that sickness will never be tackled, it will never be cured.

Even worse, British nationalism in Scotland and its apologists still pretend to themselves that their opposition to Scottish independence means that they’re not nationalists at all. As long as they continue to delude themselves in this manner, the evil of far right extremist British nationalism will never be dealt with and removed from our society. The first step to dealing with a problem is to admit that you have a problem. It’s high time that supporters of the British state in Scotland own up to British nationalism’s problem with extremism.


 

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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.

The real divisions

The British nationalist press is very keen to press the SNP is divided meme. Perhaps if they keep saying it then it will become true. It’s a bit like those people who repeatedly warn that the end of the world is nigh, only for the forecast dates of doomaggedon to come and go as often as Gordie Broon intervenes in the Scottish constitutional debate for the very first time. It wasn’t even nighish. However the advantage of these claims is that if you just keep banging on at them, eventually one of them might turn out to hit the mark, and then you can boast to all the other press guys down the pub about how prescient you were. Which to be honest isn’t much to look forward to after the asteroid has struck and destroyed civilisation as we know it, but opponents of independence have to take what small pleasures they can find, because British nationalism in Scotland is an exercise in miserabilism.

Today it was the Herald’s turn at trying to be nighish, perhaps because it’s National Tell a Joke Day. The paper carried a report that a Facebook group which hardly anyone has heard of plans to organise a wee demo outside the SNP conference. The demo is called Use The Mandate, and has the aim of showing that there is support for the SNP leadership to make use of its existing mandate for an independence referendum. Since the SNP hasn’t actually said that it’s not going to use this mandate, a demo expressing support for it doesn’t really count as a division in the independence movement. Until such time as Nicola Sturgeon stands up and says that she’s not going to use the mandate, calling on her to use it isn’t a sign of division.

It still wouldn’t count as a division within the SNP even if those who are organising the demo were indeed members of the SNP, which is by no means certain. The Facebook group responsible, Scotland Land of the Brave Saor Alba, isn’t affiliated with, part of, or answerable to, the SNP. But hey, the independence movement is divided. And if the yes movement is divided, that’s got to be embarrassing for the SNP. It said so in the paper, which used the story to offer space to a series of British nationalist politicians to attack the SNP for divisions which exist purely in their own imaginations. Yet again we got the oft-repeated meme from the British nationalist press that the SNP and the wider independence movement are the same thing.

The Herald certainly isn’t reporting on this development because it’s keen to encourage a diversity of views and opinions to further enrich the Yes movement. Reporting that a Facebook page which hardly anyone has heard of plans to organise a demo isn’t so much a sign of divisions within the independence movement as it’s a sign that the anti-independence media is hard pressed to find any sticks with which to beat the SNP, what with it being the holidays and everything, and the usual rent-a-quote British nationalist suspects are off sunning themselves on European beaches before Brexit happens and the arse falls out of the pound.

The thing is, of course the independence movement is divided. It’s divided into hundreds of groups, into thousands of ideas, into millions of possibilities. That’s ever so slightly the point of a grassroots movement. Especially a Scottish one. Put two Scottish people in a room and immediately you’ve got three arguments. The fact that we don’t all agree about everything is the whole idea. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

The independence movement isn’t a political party with internal party discipline that we’re talking about here. There hasn’t been a single idea, proposal, or action within the independence movement that some other part of the independence movement hasn’t got all sniffy about. It doesn’t matter what the pro-independence intitiative is, but someone in the independence movement is going to complain that there were too many saltires, that there weren’t enough saltires, that the saltires were being waved with a lack of gender balance, that the SNP can do no wrong, that everything the SNP does is wrong.

There are in fact only three things that the independence movement is able to agree on. First is that Scotland should become an independent country, secondly that the gap between Ruth Davidson’s hype and her actual political substance is wider and emptier than the vacuum between Ross The Hoover Thomson’s ears, and thirdly that British nationalist trolls on social media get a free pass from a media that’s always looking for the nasty things said by independence supporters. With regards to absolutely verything else, the independence movement has a diverse range of opinions. And that is precisely how it should be.

There are some very real, some very deep, and some very damaging divisions within Scottish politics, and they’re within the British nationalist parties. The Tories are hopelessly divided on Brexit. Ruth’s wee band of MPs who she assured us were going to be answerable to her and who were going to vote in a bloc to defend Scotland’s interests have turned out to be as useless as David Mundell at a cabinet meeting. Many of them have come out in favour of the hard Brexit that Ruth told us she opposed. And she can do the square root of hee-haw about it. The Conservatives have absolutely nothing positive to offer Scotland, all they can do is to bang on repeatedly about not wanting another referendum, because there is no positive case for the Union. There isn’t even a Union to make a positive case for, only a unitary state in which Scotland has no voice.

Meanwhile Labour is hopelessly divided, well, about everything. They are so ineffective at standing up for the interests of Scotland that no one knows who the official shadow Secretary of State for Scotland is. Not even the Labour party knows who Lesley Laird is. Most of the party in Scotland opposes the Brexit that its leader supports, and wrings its hands helplessly while Scotland is sacrificed on the altar of a deeply regressive xenophobic British nationalist Brexit. Labour is more worried about doing anything that might inadvertently boost support for independence than about the harm and damage that the Tories are wreaking.

An opinion poll this week suggests that if there were a Westminster General Election tomorrow, Labour would lose all but one of its Scottish seats to the SNP, and the Tories would also suffer losses. The political divisions that concern voters in Scotland aren’t those within the SNP, they’re not those within the independence movement, no matter how much our anti-independence media tries to hype them up. The divisions that concern people in Scotland are the yawning cracks in the British establishment which threaten to destroy the British state and its public services. The yes movement and the SNP are not divided in our belief that we need to escape that crumbling edifice before it comes crashing down.


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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.

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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.

Creating some certainty of our own

There’s been some speculation in the press recently that the SNP is heading for a rupture in its hitherto impressive party unity over the subject of the timing of the next referendum. There the Tories and Labour are tearing themselves apart with all the vicious fervour of starving lions in the Colosseum, or worse but with less botox, fewer tanning beds, and lower IQs, like contestants on Love Island, while Thatessempee sits on munching on the popcorn and biding its time.

It must be very frustrating for your average fleg waver who isn’t nationalist at all because they’re British. It means they’re reduced to finding carping little complaints which can’t compete with the magnitude of the flustercuckery emanating from the main two British parties. It’s a bit like trying to distract onlookers watching in horror as Rome burns down by telling them that they really need to be concerned about the sparkler that you’re waving in their faces.

Actually, it’s far worse than that, because in this case Rome is being burned down by the people who are supposed to be the Roman Fire Brigade, only they’re more interested in accusing their colleagues of bigotry than they are in dealing with the fires and tackling the arsonists in their own ranks. The future for the UK is to be left in the smoking ruins of a wrecked city, covered in ash, accusing people who are supposed to be on the same side as you of hating the Gauls and the Etruscans and debating the acceptability of not wearing a toga in public places while it dreams of past glories. But hey, at least we’ll have blue passports. It’s just a pity that no one will have any money to travel anywhere, we’ll need a visa to cross from Dover to Calais and will have to queue for hours at passport control, while the pound will be trading on a par with the Turkish lira. There’s your global Britain for you.

Compared to all of this, the SNP is a paragon of unity and focus on its purpose. I speak to SNP local branches all over the country, as well as to local Yes groups. There is a growing desire for some concrete development regarding a second independence vote amongst party members and the broader independence movement. There is a sense that matters are coming to a head and a palpable feeling that we are living in the final months of the UK. There is a growing willingness to campaign and to get organised irrespective of what announcements are made at the SNP party conference, and there is a mounting desire for something from the SNP leadership that signals the official start of a campaign. There is some frustration that the party leadership is too cautious and timid, but there remains a willingness to give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of any doubt that is going.

It’s expected that Nicola will make an announcement in October about her plans for a vote, but the problem is that there is no sign whatsoever that the political uncertainty, confusion, and sheer ineptitude that has characterised the UK since the Brexit vote will have resolved itself by then. The original reason for promising a statement this October was because the UK needs to have reached a broad agreement with the EU by October on the terms of Brexit in order for that deal to be signed off by the EU’s member states in time for Brexit day next March. We ought to have had some clarity on the shape of Brexit, but the only thing that’s clear now is that there is no clarity in the foreseeable future.

Against such a background of UK uncertainty and confusion, it’s going to be very difficult for Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government to plot a clear path ahead. It’s a bit like trying to plan a journey through a trackless wilderness full of quicksand and those ravenous lions that managed to avoid being captured for the Colosseum. I don’t expect a definite announcement of an imminent referendum. This will doubtless be portrayed in the anti-independence press as Nicola Sturgeon backtracking on indy, but the political reality is that the will of the people of Scotland can be expressed at the ballot box in votes other than referendums.

The unknowns are more than a lack of clarity on the form that Brexit is going to take. It’s also by no means certain whether Theresa May’s government can survive past the autumn. If it falls, she will resign as PM and there will be a new Conservative leader who will go to the polls as a shiny new face enjoying a honeymoon in the British press. Unless Labour comes out strongly for a second Brexit vote, and there’s presently little likelihood of that happening, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party stands little chance.

If there is to be a Westminster General Election within the next few months, independence needs to be front and foremost in the SNP’s campaign because independence means that it’s the people of Scotland who get to decide on the path this country takes, it’s the people of Scotland who will provide the certainty that the British political parties are so incapable of providing.

The big mistake of 2017 was that the SNP tried to avoid making the vote about independence, while the British nationalist parties and the overwhelmingly anti-independence media banged on about little else. The result was that opponents of independence were motivated to vote, but supporters of independence were not. The SNP can’t make that mistake again. The press and Ruth Davidson won’t let the SNP get away with not talking about independence, in Ruth’s case because it’s all she’s got, so the SNP can’t avoid it or sidestep it. They have to own it. The SNP needs to harness the energy and enthusiasm that is growing in the grassroots indy movement. They need to get the indy vote out, and that means giving it a reason, giving it a vision, giving it hope.

The party needs to fight a Westminster General Election campaign on the basis of achieving a mandate to ensure that irrespective of what happens elsewhere in the UK, the people of Scotland have a right to express their view on Brexit, and a right to reject the chaotic mess that passes for the British government’s negotiating strategy. Winning the General Election in Scotland, and in the context of a Westminster vote that means being the largest party in terms of vote share, and the largest party in terms of seats won, means that the people of Scotland will have chosen to have their say on Brexit and on the future of Scotland, and we can put to rest Ruth Davidson’s nonsense that there’s no demand for another referendum. It will mean that the people of Scotland will be telling whoever is the Conservative party leader at the time that the people of Scotland, and not a Conservative PM, will decide when is the time. And we will be saying to him or her – that time is now. In times of British uncertainty, we need to create some Scottish certainty of our own.


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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.

A CO2 filled box of frogs

Back from Islay now, where the dug and I had a fantastic time participating in The National Roadshow’s event at the Islay Show. Many thanks to the wonderful hospitality that everyone in Islay gave us.

It’s very much the silly season politically, and it seems that this is a term which our British nationalist friends take quite literally. A few days before going off to Islay I blogged about the frothing hysteria from certain opponents of independence. I just didn’t realise quite how crazy supporters of the British state were getting. There are boxes of frogs which seem calm, rational, and sensible by comparison.

Labour and the Conservatives are not bothering overly much about the looming Brexit deadline and the increasing possibility of crashing out without a deal, or a so-called “blind Brexit” in which the UK leaves without the terms of its exit being finalised. This last option is rather like jumping off a cliff in the hope that there’s a nice big inflatable airbag waiting for you at the bottom, and not some jagged rocks. But this isn’t the big political topic right now. Instead Labour and the Tories are competing with one another about which of the two is more bigoted.

Labour can’t be arsed opposing Brexit. It can’t be bothered presenting a cohesive and coherent policy to counter the most dysfunctional, inept, and vindictively selfish Conservative government in living memory. Thatcher’s government was every bit as vindictively selfish, but at least it was efficient about it. You’d think that Labour would have an easy time against Theresa May’s bunch of talentless clowns, but no, Labour would far rather tear itself apart over accusations of anti-semitism. However the tragedy for the rest of us is that even if Labour wasn’t falling over itself to shoot itself in the foot, it would still not be capable of mounting an effective defence against the Tories’ reckless Brexit because Jeremy Corbyn is as keen on leaving the EU as Liam Fox is.

Meanwhile the Tories aren’t even pretending any more that they’re no longer the nasty party. No amount of cheesy photo ops featuring Ruth Davidson putting lipstick on a pig at some agricultural show can disguise the fact that the Tories fundamentally exist in order to enable nasty bigots to extract as much cash as possible from any given situation. It’s only now that the Conservatives are facing the music in the media for at least some of their many faceted bigotry, because in his column for the Telegraph, the most embarrassing Foreign Secretary in the history of a country which once went to war over its right to export opium to China used patronising and insulting language to denounce the face veils worn by a minority of Muslim women. Johnson said that the veils look ridiculous, and to be fair he is something of an expert in looking ridiculous.

The party is now desperately trying to close down the accusations that it’s Islamophobic which an investigation into Johnson’s comments which is only being carried out so that Tory politicians can claim that they can’t comment on the matter because it’s the subject of an internal party investigation. They’re hoping that everyone will forget about the matter over the summer, then in a few months time they’ll produce a report saying that the remarks were rude and unnecessary, but which falls a long way short of forcing Boris Johnson to resign from the party.

Ruth Davidson is of course in hiding, and may very well be wandering the streets wearing one of those veils in case someone asks her about the dark money scandal, the accusations of Islamophobia, or the Scottish Conservative politicans who keep getting outed as some sort of bigot, racist, misogynist, homophobe, or racist. She will pop up next time she’s got a book to promote, a baking show on the telly to appear on, or finds an opportunity to claim that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. Then the press will hail her as the refreshing and modern face of the Conservatives. It’s an act that’s worn pretty thin.

Perhaps they’re taking their cue from the main parties backing the British state, but Scotland’s home grown opponents of independence are also spending the summer months competing with one another about which of them can be the most outlandish, hysterical, over-the-top, or just plain crazy. Former Conservative MSP Brian Monteith has already put in his bid for the craziness crown with his new website promoting what passes for thought amongst British nationalist knee-jerkers. His site has already carried a gloriously insane article calling on the Republic of Ireland to submit to Westminster again, but this week it topped even that with a piece about new guidelines on dealing with gender identity issues amongst school children.

The new guidelines essentially call on teachers and other professionals to support kids who may be experiencing gender dysphoria. The transgender issue is fraught, complex, difficult, and full of strong emotions, but whatever your views on the topic the debate is not going to be helped by an article which claimed that the guidelines – all the fault of the SNP naturally – were being promoted by people who have a sexual interest in children. This piece was the exact opposite of dealing sensitively with an issue which needs to be treated carefully and with thought and compassion.

Then there’s my very own stalker. There’s an opponent of independence who obsessively reads this blog and then goes and writes what he thinks is satire. The thing about satire is that it’s supposed to be funny, witty, and well written. This guy fails on all accounts and instead settles for claiming that I’m a morally degenerate Nazi who’d support gassing English people. And there was me with such nice things to say about him. I’ll just console myself with the fact that over 80,000 individuals read this blog every month whereas his site doesn’t get enough hits even to register in site rankings – and I sure as hell won’t be sending any traffic his way. Try writing something that’s actually readable love. There’s a wee tip for you there.

But the prize for peak frothery must go to the diehard opponent of all things Essempee who lives on Islay. Most weeks he’s got a letter in the local newspaper, the Ileach, complaining about some dreadful thing Thatessempee has done. But he’s finally achieved the gold standard of zoomery, despite strong competition from Brian Monteith’s contributors, and the puffing hypocrite who stalks me in his deluded belief that opposing Scottish independence and supporting the British state means he’s not a nationalist. He’s even outdone Magnus Linklater who recently managed to blame the uncertainty faced by EU citizens on the SNP. Islay’s very own gammonista has surpassed them all.

In his most recent letter to the Ileach, the individual concerned tore into the SNP and the Scottish government for their carbon emission reduction targets. It’s outrageous that the SNP is reducing carbon emissions, because apparently that’s the reason why there’s a shortage of CO2 for the food and drink industry. It’s all Nicola Sturgeon’s fault. I fully expect that he’ll be offered a column in the Scotsman.

British nationalists are getting desperate. Their strongest arguments in 2014 were that it would be foolish to trade the security and stability of the UK for the uncertainties of independence, and that it was only the UK which could ensure that politics remained tolerant, decent, and moderate. They’ve blown those two arguments out of the water all by themselves. All they have left is hysteria, hyperbole, and outright lies. They’re asphyxiating their own arguments with a CO2 filled box of frogs.


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Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.

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.

Plan B in outer space

Remember 2014? All we heard from the chorus of British politicians and the media was “What’s your plan B?” That was just about the currency of an independent Scotland, because the British government was saying that it wasn’t going to enter into a formal currency union with Scotland. It was relentless, and it successfully scared many people into the false belief that the day after a Yes vote in an independence referendum, Scotland wouldn’t have any money at all. An elderly neighbour of mine sincerely believed that a Yes vote would mean that as of 19 September 2014 she wouldn’t be able to spend the money in her purse at the local supermarket. All she had heard was, “Scotland won’t be able to use the pound!”

There was of course no reason why Scotland couldn’t continue to use the pound unilaterally, which is what Ireland did in 1922 until it established its own currency some years later, a currency which it kept pegged to sterling at a one to one rate. That didn’t stop the scare stories. It’s a familiar tactic from the British state. Double down on the fright wigs at the expense of any positive thought or contribution. Boris Johnson even wears a literal fright wig. The dependence on scare tactics may not be unrelated to the fact that the British government is made up of individuals who’ve never had a positive thought in their lives. Threats, bullying, and intimidation are amongst those British values that the BBC doesn’t like to celebrate.

Theresa May was in Scotland on Tuesday, but there’s a distinct lack of a similar chorus of “Where’s your plan B?” from that same British press. That’s not to say that they didn’t cover it. They did cover it. In between the story about the cricket player being prosecuted for an alleged assault and the story about Boris Johnson’s latest dickwaddery there was a very brief mention, a blink and you’d miss it sort of deal. Balance, rigour. Nicola was far too polite to point out to Theresa that if there is a plan B it’s in outer space, orbiting Uranus.

Nicola Sturgeon is demanding that Theresa May says what she’s got in mind in the event that the EU reject’s the Chequer’s plan which was so painfully thrashed out between Tory cabinet members when they weren’t thrashing one another. She has pointed out to the Prime Minister that talking up the prospect of a no-deal Brexit makes it all the more likely to come to pass. Theresa didn’t take the advice well. But then if Theresa took advice well then the UK wouldn’t be in the mess that it’s currently in.

It’s not an unreasonable demand that Theresa let’s us know what alternatives she has in mind, seeing as how the EU has already given its preliminary assessment of Theresa’s plan, and it is something along the lines of Et maintenant tu te fous vraiment de nous, which is a French expression which can be approximately translated as “You’re really just taking the piss now.” Only a lot ruder.

This isn’t a currency union we’re talking about here. The UK can’t unilaterally decide that’s it’s going to press on regardless of what the EU says and there will be no practical difference to ordinary punters. Failure to reach a deal will have consequences, but instead of trying to work on a deal that’s going to be acceptable and which will avoid the seriously negative consequences to ordinary people, the British government prefers to run about like Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles, holding a gun to its own head.

Theresa May is trying to persuade people in Scotland that Brexit can bring about a brighter future for Scotland. There’s as much chance of her succeeding with that argument as there is of Ruth Davidson taking time out of her busy schedule of book promotion to answer questions about the dark money scandal. Theresa was so lacking in confidence in her own arguments that she wouldn’t even take questions from the Scottish press, which isn’t exactly known for giving Conservatives a hard time. As the Brexit process has lurched onwards, Scottish opposition to it has only grown. The only way Brexit will make Scotland brighter will be as more and more people burn the Tory election leaflets paid for by dark money that fall through our letterboxes.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned Theresa May that using scare tactics as a negotiating tool isn’t a good idea. Supporters of Scottish independence know that well. Opponents of independence might have won the 2014 referendum on the basis of a scare campaign, but they did so at the price of mightily pissing off a substantial part of the Scottish population. So much so that within hours of the result being declared, the independence movement was reinvigorated and renewed as thousands of very angry people resolved that they were going to do their utmost to ensure that there would be a second referendum. If the Better Together campaign had instead fought on the basis of a positive vision of the UK, and more importantly had delivered on it afterwards, then Scotland wouldn’t currently be looking at a rematch. Moreover a rematch which is going to be contested on very different ground, with very different arguments, and with a very different result. Westminster’s scare stories of big scary monsters with big scary teeth have only bitten Westminster on the bum.

The lesson here is that if you conduct your politics using fear, intimidation, and threats as the main tools in your political armoury, you don’t merely look like a tool, but the whole project is highly likely to end up in tears. Your tears. Base your politics on fear, and you will sooner or later be held to account for it, because people are far less likely to forgive being threatened than they are to forgive a positive promise or commitment that was only partially delivered.

Goodwill is a precious commodity, when you squander it it’s gone for good. The British government hasn’t just squandered the goodwill of the people of Scotland, it’s trashed it, squashed it, and thrown it on the rubbish heap along with any prospect of a sensible Brexit strategy. When you base your politics on scare tactics, it’s because you’re afraid of the people, and sooner or later, but more likely sooner, the people will let you know what they think of you.

There won’t be any updates to the blog until the weekend as I am off to Islay first thing tomorrow for a few days to speak at the Islay Show as part of The National Roadshow event. If you’re in Islay, it would be great to see you there! We are also launching my new Gaelic map of Islay and Jura at the Islay Show.


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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.

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.

Being catapulted to the Moon

All the way through the campaign we were assured that leaving the EU didn’t necessarily mean leaving the customs union or the single market. The Brexit vote was won for leave on the very narrowest of margins. You’d think that would mean that the government would attempt to reconcile those who voted to remain, and would seek a form of Brexit which was least likely to exacerbate a deep and bitter division. I would hope that if Scotland voted for independence by a similarly narrow margin, that the Scottish government would seek to reassure No voters and would ensure that they were included and their representatives were participants in the independence negotiations. But this is the UK, and in the UK the winner takes all and the loser can go hang. The UK still hasn’t grasped the distinction between democracy and majoritarianism.

As soon as the Brexit vote was in, the Conservatives decided that what it really meant was that the country wanted the most extreme, the most self-harming, the most destructive Brexit possible. It’s rather like expressing the wish to see more of the world, and then being catapulted onto the surface of the Moon, where you can catch the briefest of glimpses of the entire planet Earth in the microseconds before the fluids in your body start to boil in zero pressure, all the air is sucked out of your lungs, and you freeze solid in the minus 173C temperature leaving you isolated and alone in the void for all eternity. You’re seeing more of the world, that’s what you voted for. And as an added patriotic bonus, your face will go various shades of red white and blue before you lose consciousness.

The Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox, once boasted that a trade deal with the EU would be the “easiest in human history” to negotiate because the French need us to buy their wine and the Germans need us to buy their cars. This sort of wisdom and insight explains why the government which the disgraced former defence secretary inexplicably remains a part of wasn’t making contingency plans for the UK falling out of the EU without a deal.

Now Liam has changed his tune, and is saying that it looks increasingly likely that the UK’s Brexit bus will crash out without a deal, and admits that it’s a strong possibility. This is of course, according to Liam, entirely the fault of the EU for wilfully refusing to grant the UK all the benefits of EU membership without any of the annoying obligations that come with it. This is because the EU figures that in the post apocalyptic wasteland of a UK in a no deal Brexit, inhabitants of the UK will be too busy fighting one another over the last remaining stockpiles of Pot Noodles to worry about French wines or buying a BMW.

Of course what this is really about is Liam and his fellow Brexists getting their excuses in early. If, as anyone who isn’t wearing a Union fleg blindfold can see coming, Brexit ends up as an unmitigated disaster, Liam is determined to make sure that it’s those Germans with their towels on the sunloungers who take the blame for it.

In Liam’s universe it’s certainly not Liam’s fault. It’s certainly not the fault of all those Brexit fanatics who swore blind that the UK could leave the EU and still enjoy unfettered access to the EU’s single market without having to sign up to freedom of movement and those other EU freedoms that they didn’t like. It’s certainly not the fault of a British Conservative party which has spent the past two years arguing with itself about a series of positions that the EU had already stated were unacceptable, instead of spending their time working on a Brexit which might actually work in the real world. It’s certainly not their fault because they’re British, and that means they’re plucky, and everyone in Europe looks up to them, because of Dunkirk and Vera Lynn. So it’s not Liam’s fault then. Oh no.

Meanwhile the official Opposition in the House of Commons ought to be scoring massive political points against a government which is presenting them with a target the size of a minor planet, which is not coincidentally the approximate size of Liam’s ego, from a distance of about six inches, which also not coincidentally is the approximate distance of the vacuum to be crossed between Ross Thomson’s ears. But no. When it’s not abstaining, Labour prefers to tear itself apart over internal disputes, because there’s only two things your average Labour MP hates even more than the Tories, one’s the SNP, and the other is another of your average Labour MPs.

However even in the highly unlikely event that the Labour party was able to get its collective act together, it still wouldn’t be resisting the Tories and their insane Brexit. That’s because, for reasons which have never been satisfactorily explained, Jeremy Corbyn is every bit as committed to an insane Brexit as Liam Fox is.

Right now, the only thing keeping Theresa May in power is that her MPs are even more terrified that Jeremy Corbyn might win a snap General Election than they’re afraid of the damage that a chaotic Brexit might wreak. But there are those in the Tory party who are tempted to allow that to happen, and then a weak and chaotic Corbyn government can take the public flak for a catastrophic Brexit while the Tories and Ukip who inflicted it upon us can blame Labour and blame the EU for the mess that they’ve been instrumental in creating. Then a hard right Tory government could sweep into power a couple of years later and destroy the tattered remnants of the UK’s public services, trash what’s left of the devolution settlement, and complete the transformation of the UK into a unitary state with a low wage economy that acts as a tax shelter for the wealthy. There’s your British values for you.

Now it is possible that none of this could happen. It is possible that everything might turn out just fine. All things are possible. It is theoretically possible that Liam Fox is going to wake up one morning, look himself in the mirror, and suddenly realise that his politics have been based on a selfish mendacity, then he’ll make a public apology and devote the rest of his life to unpaid medical work for a charity. But that’s not likely to happen either.

All that the UK offers Scotland is the back seat in a multiple collision. We get to look on helplessly while others decide our fate. The choice of remaining a part of the UK or independence is the choice between helplessness, or having a voice and an influence in determining our fate. It’s the choice between being catapulted to the Moon, or remaining firmly grounded on planet Earth. It really ought to be a no-brainer.


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.

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.

Cool Scots

COOL-LAUNCH-POSTER-web-glasgow

On Saturday I’m speaking at the Yes Bar at the Glasgow launch of Greg Moodie’s new book, Cool Scots. For the benefit of all of you who are far from Glasgow, or who have better things to do, or who are just too lazy to come along, here’s the speech I’ll be giving.

I was very pleasantly surprised when Greg asked me to speak at the launch of his book Cool Scots. My first question was “Am I in it?” To which he gave a withering look and said “Of course not. You’re not cool. Your dug is cool. But he’s Spanish.” So now I know how batteries feel. They’re rarely included in things either.

But it is true that I’m not cool. I tried to kid myself on that I was the cool form of uncool even before uncool became a thing. But then I looked at my wardrobe and realised that my favourite pair of trousers are beige and they come up to my nipples, and that having a shaven head is not a fashion choice it’s just that most of the hair on my head grows in my ears and nostrils. That’s when you know when you’ve lost your chance at youthful coolness by the way. It’s when you see an advert for a nasal hair trimmer and you think “Oh. That’s going to come in useful.”

I once asked my daughter whether a t-shirt with a slogan on it was cool and she said it was. And then she added that it would immediately cease to be cool the moment I put it on because all things cease to be cool as soon as a teenager’s dad does them. Her pal once remarked to her – your dad writes for a newspaper, that’s pretty cool, and my daughter replied “Naa, he’s just an idiot.” Then I did some dance moves and she disowned me. So I’m not sure what cool is, but I reckon I must be an expert on uncool. It’s that look you get from your offspring when you are the father of teenage daughters. But I got my own back on my eldest. My daughters and their mothers are English, and live in London. When my eldest introduced her first serious boyfriend to me I growled at him in my best Weegie accent, “I don’t mind going back to jail you know.”

Truth be told, a middle aged baldy man in a tweed suit is pretty much the definition of uncool. I’m so uncool that for years I thought my daughters were fans of Justice Beaver, and believed him to be a crime fighting rodent. However all fashion is circular, and all things that are out of fashion will come back into fashion in a few years time. That means I’m not really uncool, just a trendsetter years ahead of everyone else. Which is my excuse for having socks which are years older than the guy with the ironic beard in the hipster bar along the road. They say that anyone can be cool, but it takes real skill to make uncool things cool again. That’s clearly a skill I’m sadly lacking in.

Hipsters aren’t cool by the way. They try too hard. Cool is effortless and if you’re working on your coolness by definition you’re not cool. Which means that people with ironic beardage, tattoos, and typewriters are kind of like slinkies. Pretty useless but they still give you a laugh when you push them down the stairs.

Anyway, I tried, for the benefit of this book launch, to have a wee think about what cool is. Which is a bit like asking Ruth Davidson to come up with the definition of a compassionate social care policy or answering a question without saying that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. But Ruth’s not cool. You can’t be cool if you’re hyped up by the press. That just puts you in the same category as scratchcards. They’re going to cost you and you’ll end up disappointed.

But I thought I had the definition of cool worked out when I noticed this guy wearing a leather jacket, and I thought – well that looks pretty cool. Cos I’m not wearing it, obviously. If I was to wear a leather jacket it would just look like a midlife crisis. But on some people it looks very cool indeed. And then I noticed another guy wearing a leather waistcoat, and I thought – well that doesn’t look cool at all. So the essence of cool must lie in the difference between the two, which is leather sleeves.

But really, you can’t define cool. It’s one of those things that can’t be defined, like true love, you just know it when you see it. Cool isn’t something that you get from following fashion. It’s not an ironic beard. It’s not searching out the latest trends before they become mainstream. Cool is the realisation that life is short, so smile while you still have your teeth. Cool is the knowledge we only get one shot at being here, and so whatever you do should be done with passion. Cool is knowing that we all die, but not everyone lives. Cool is being a saint, it’s being an utter bastard, but whatever you are – cool is being good at it. Cool is knowing that the key to immortality is to live a life that’s worth remembering. Cool is the ineffable quality of doing what you love, being true to yourself, and not giving a tuppenny fuck what anyone else thinks. Cool is knowing that if you don’t define yourself, you’ll be defined by other people. Cool is the realisation that self-determination begins with the self. Cool is the awareness that independence begins in the mind.

Scotland is full of people who instinctively understand that. This cold and damp country is full of people who open the curtains, gaze upon a grey and dull day, and who resolve that they’re not going to live a grey and dull life. They’re going to do, and not be done to. They’re going to act, and not be acted upon. They resolve to make themselves the masters and mistresses of their own destiny.

Greg’s book is full of examples of Scots, born Scots and adopted Scots, who’ve learned the lessons of cool. It’s funny. It’s informative. It even has some lines in it I wish I’d thought of myself. And being the product of one of Scotland’s leading cartoonists it is of course copiously illustrated, which means that even people like Labour cooncillors who need books with pictures in them will find it accessible. Although I should point out to those cooncillors that the pictures have already been coloured in. Buy it. Read it. Have a laugh. Be inspired. It’s the coolest book of the year.

You can get a copy of Greg’s book on his website here :

https://gregmoodie.com/product/cool-scots/

Or on Amazon, here  :

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cool-Scots-Greg-Moodie/dp/1912147262

The book can be yours for just £12.99, which is more than Amazon pay in tax.


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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.

Stuck in the middle of spew

It transpires that David Mundell’s own reelection campaign was a recipient of the dark money donated to the Scottish Conservatives by secret donors. His election victory was bought on the back of donations from unknown sources.  It shouldn’t really be a surprise that the Scottish Secretary of State’s reelection campaign in 2017 benefited from mystery funding, since what he does to benefit Scotland is a mystery too. David easily ranks amongst the top 99% of UK politicians.  The only reason he doesn’t rant in the bottom 100% is because of the existence of David Davis.

Former Tory MP Peter Duncan, who resigned recently from being a trustee of the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, the shadowy organisation at the heart of the dark money scandal, told the BBC that the £318,876 which the SUAT donated to the Scottish Conservatives was the “historic proceeds of tombolas and raffles throughout the West of Scotland going back 50 years”. That’s possibly the least convincing explanation since the insurance claim of a driver who drove out of their driveway and hit a bus, and said it was the bus driver’s fault because the bus was running five minutes late. And the bus driver wasn’t even Wullie Rennie.

Incidentally, while we’re on the topic of donations. It was recently brought to my attention that there is a British nationalist gammonista on social media who was in full harrumphery mode that indy sites which benefit from crowdfunding have no right to talk about Conservative politicians receiving secret donations from anonymous people. Whataboutery is a side dish usually served with gammon.

There’s a big difference, Bella Caledonia, Wings Over Scotland, Scotland Goes Pop, Common Space, and me, we aren’t making your laws and imposing austerity on you for the financial benefit of the super-rich, and we state in public precisely what people can expect in return for their donations. Making a moral equivalent between the two is like claiming that collecting money from colleagues at work in order to buy present for a workmate who’s just had a baby is exactly the same as someone interested in buying the company having a secret meeting with the manager to offer them a luxury car and a foreign holiday in return for cutting employees’ wages and slashing their holiday entitlement.

We are open and upfront about our fundraising campaigns, the overwhelming majority of which are small donations of a few quid made by ordinary individuals who are far from wealthy. The Tories solicit donations from extremely wealthy individuals and companies in secret. There’s a general rule in thumb in life, you don’t get to be rich by being a generous and giving person, and the very wealthy who donate large sums to the Conservatives behind closed doors aren’t doing so out of some disinterested sense of charitable altruism. In return for their cash they expect the Tories to pass laws which benefit them and their financial interests. That’s precisely what the Tories do.

It was the national poet Rabbie Burns who wrote that we are bought and sold for English gold, in Fluffy’s case, he’s bought and sold for gold given in secret in dark rooms. At least those who sold Scotland out in the early years of the 18th century admitted who they were selling their souls to. Mind you, Fluffy is so lacking in competence that he’s quite possibly sold his soul to satin and we can now look forward to seeing him make some interesting sartorial choices.

Public and political life in the UK is drowning in a dank cesspit. The Tories are funding themselves with secret donations from unknown individuals. They’re buying elections with dark money. Then they use the power that they’ve gained on the back of this dark money in order to pursue an epic act of national destruction that is Brexit and spend all their time and energy fighting with one another while they trash public services and strip workers of protection and deprive the poor and disabled of a decent and dignified standard of living. Meanwhile, as the utter humiliation of Brexit looms and we’re staring catastrophe in the face, the Labour opposition is mired in a destructive fight about anti-semitism. The current UK political scene can be summed up in that Gerry Rafferty song, “Anti-semites to the left of me, racists to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle of spew.”

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the far right is taking the advantage of the opportunity to gain influence. Even worse, they’re being normalised by a BBC which is allowing them airtime. We already have Question Time and the BBC to take a large share of the blame for the high public profile of Nigel Farage, and this week Radio 4’s Today programme broadcast a largely uncritical interview with Raheem Kassam, an acolyte of Steve Bannon and editor of the far right website Breitbart, championing the chummily named “Tommy” who was released this week from jail after serving time for contempt of court. Raheem, by the way, is a man who is on record of saying of Nicola Sturgeon, “Can someone just like … tape Nicola Sturgeon’s mouth shut? And her legs, so she can’t reproduce. Thanks.” The interview was another step along the dangerous road of the normalisation of the extreme right wing.

There are reports that Bannon is now liaising with Conservatives such as Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg in order to drag the already right wing Conservatives even further to the political extremes. Labour is being castigated and criticised for its anti-semitism, but the anti-muslim prejudice which is rampant in the Conservatives is passing largely unremarked. We’ve seen plenty of these double standards in Scotland, where SNP politicians are hauled over the coals by the media for the slightest infringement, real or imagined, whereas the serial scandal of one Scottish Conservative politician after another being outed as a racist, a sectarian bigot, a misogynist or a homophobe is shrugged off as just one of those things.

Back in 2014, Scotland was assured that it was only because we were a part of the UK that our public life could guarantee the highest democratic standards. Opponents of independence smugly told us that being British meant being immune from extremism and intolerance. Four years later and the far right is being normalised in the British state. Intolerance and hatred is becoming public policy.

There is no evidence that SUAT money is in any way connected to the extreme right, and I am certainly not suggesting that it might be, however in a country where political donations are mired in secrecy, where political parties seek donations in private in return for who knows what influence, the rise of the extreme right and its normalisation by the media is a deeply alarming development.  The point is that the way the UK’s political system is currently set up, the far right could buy influence in a British political party, and the public would be none the wiser.

The UK doesn’t offer Scotland protection from extremism, from hatred, from intolerance and racism. It puts us at threat of them. Scotland within the UK is at risk of being bought and sold for far right gold. We need out. We need a written constitution that provides a clear and transparent framework for our politics, and which gives us all a guarantee of our civil and human rights.


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.


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.

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.