The Festival of Exit Britain

The Conservative party say that they’re going to introduce innovative technological solutions to the Irish border question, but they can’t even introduce an app for their conference without buggering it up. The app was so poorly designed that it allowed anyone to log in as members of the Cabinet and see all their personal contact details. But it’s not all bad, at least it’s the first time ever that the Tories have been accessible to the public.

The conference isn’t really a conference of course. It’s essentially a public relations exercise in which assorted Conservative figures will get up and give speeches pretending that the party isn’t being torn apart by ideologically driven right wing zealots. But they can’t even manage that convincingly. There is absolutely nothing that the Conservative party can do to heal the gaping wounds and come up with a coherent policy on the Brexit which that same Conservative party only inflicted on the UK in the first place in a hauf-airsed attempt to deal with its own internal divisions. It was as though the Conservatives had an issue with an itchy skin rash on their leg, so they cut both their legs off and we’re now all drowning in the blood. Then having done so, they decided that Brexit was really an internal party matter, and did their best to sideline that parliament whose absolute sovereignty they claimed they were defending.

Both the hard line Brexists and the remainers within the Tory party have enough support amongst Conservative MPs to hold Theresa May hostage, but neither of them have enough support in order to get something through Parliament. The result is confusion and stalemate. The UK is staring at the biggest peacetime crisis it has ever faced in the past 100 years, and yet none of the UK parties have any clue about how to get out of the mess that they themselves created.

Meanwhile in another of her sofa soft interviews on the tellybox, Ruth Davidson has said that if there were to be another Brexit referendum she’d vote remain. So she’s prepared to countenance another referendum, just not another Scottish one. Thanks for clearing that up Ruth. It only confirms something that many of us have known for some time, that you’re only willing to consider referendums if you believe you can be on the winning side of them. But Ruth did find time in her busy schedule of self-promotion to send a Tweet about the presents that Theresa May had given her for her new baby, including a copy of Theresa’s favourite book, Swallows and Amazons. It’s a romanticised little England story of privileged middle class brats fighting amongst themselves on a small fantasy island while they subsist on corned beef and patronise and ignore the local working class people who actually do all the hard work. At least now we know where Theresa May got her Brexit negotiation strategy from.

Theresa’s big idea is to hold a Festival of Brexit Britain and has already pledged £120 million to pay for it. This is the closest that they have to a Brexit plan, a celebration of Little Britain. It’s typical of the Tories that they look back to a romanticised vision of a past that never existed. Most of us would prefer to have a future where we didn’t have to worry about our government warning us about shortages of medicines and food. This Brextival is the political equivalent of one of those mothers slapping their wean during a wet and grey weekend in some dreary seaside resort in the 1950s, shouting at the kid to be happy and enjoy itself.

The Prime Minister wants to hold this Brexfest in 2022, we’re told it’s to celebrate 70 years since the Festival of Britain in 1951. This is the level of numeracy that brought us Brexit in the first place. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the British partition of Ireland, and now the UK government is going to hold a festival to celebrate partitioning Ireland again. Which only shows just how little British governments consider the sensitivities and needs of everywhere in the UK that isn’t the Home Counties.

Everyone attending the Brextival will be given a free pair of rose tinted spectacles. It will be like the Hunger Games, but with Morris dancing and held in a closed down Pontins in Grimsby while contestants beat one another to death with Dyson vacuum cleaners. It will be like the Wicker Man but without the big bonfire because no one can afford the heating bill. Just to get everyone in the spirit of the postwar Festival of Britain, there will be a lottery for ration books. At least the catering should be easy to organise, even for the serial incompetents in the Conservative government. There will be plenty of gammon, but apart from that no food. You can bet there will be plenty of red white and blue bunting and flegs, and Theresa May telling us about the evils of identity politics.

Some people on social media have compared the Brextival to The Last of Us. But that’s unfair. One of them is filled with aggressive and vicious brain dead creatures who destroy all that is decent and human at the slightest provocation in an authoritarian nation where only the strong and the rich have a chance of survival, and the other’s a video game.

Despite the utter confusion, civil warfare, and mutual recriminations in which the Conservatives are mired, despite their flights of British nationalist delusion, they’re still ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. The Conservatives are the political equivalent of a one armed boxer who’s blindfolded, drunk, and has cramp in one leg, and the Labour party still can’t land a blow. Labour in Scotland is consuming itself in the Kezia Dugdale civil war, which is turning into a proxy for the fight between Corbynistas and the old guard, and Labour in the rest of the UK is desperately trying to avoid having any position on Brexit in order to placate both the Leavers in working class constituencies in Northern England, and the Remainers amongst the youth and in the big cities. The result is that they’re pleasing no one.

And this political wasteland of a UK is what Theresa May wants to celebrate with a Brextival. Scotland can’t fix the self-inflicted mess in which the UK finds itself. It is not the job of Scotland to make a futile attempt to save the rest of the UK from itself, and to destroy ourselves in the process. Scotland desperately needs a Festival of Exit Britain of its own. We can celebrate by having a referendum and voting to leave. Let’s get on with organising it.


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The Cheshire cat of politics

I had been toying with the idea of writing this blog article about how it’s unproductive for supporters of independence to join in the social media campaign calling for a boycott of the Guardian newspaper. About how when we embark on campaigns directed against individual newspapers we only allow that paper to paint itself as a victim of the social media abuse of journalists. About how we need to occupy the moral high ground and save our energies for countering the really nasty and vicious bile published by the right wing press, like the Daily Mail. About how a newspaper like the Guardian is not the BBC, it’s not a public service that all TV viewers are legally compelled to pay for and has no obligation to neutrality. About how the boycott is a campaign organised by the frothier end of the Corbynista movement who are no more supporters of or sympathetic to the cause of Scottish independence than the self-righteous metrocommentariat of the Guardian are, and who are equally blind to British nationalism.

And then I read the Guardian’s hagiography of Ruth Davidson. After reading that love-in that failed to ask Ruth anything approaching a difficult question, that allowed her to pose as a personality bereft of any political principle other than her own self promotion, I’ve decided not to bother. You want to boycott the Guardian? On yese go. Knock yourselves out. I’m past caring.

So we are told that it is a credit to Ruth Davidson that she has made the fact that she’s a pregnant lesbian so unremarkable in a country where homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised until 1981. There’s still some way to go in ensuring full equality and acceptance for LGBT people in Scotland, but it is a testament to the good sense and humanity of the people of Scotland that in terms of legal protections and rights this country is now one of the best places in the world in which to be gay.

But is this thanks to Ruth Davidson? Eh no. Now I will admit that I have a personal interest in this particular topic. I am one of those Scottish gay people who came of age when homosexuality was still illegal in this country.  It galls me no end to read heterosexual journalists claiming that Ruth is so groundbreaking and giving her the credit for social changes which others have achieved. If you believe that Ruth Davidson is responsible then clearly you’ve not been paying attention.

Speaking as a gay Scot who is a fair bit older than Ruth, I can assure you that the fact that it’s unremarkable that Scotland has a gay Conservative leader who’s starting a family of her own is nothing for Ruth to take credit for. She is merely the product of the changes in Scottish society that a previous generation of lesbian and gay Scots fought for, fought for tooth and nail in the face of the bitter opposition of the party that she now represents. And, while we’re on the topic, in the teeth of bitter opposition from very large and influential sections of the Labour party in Scotland too.

Ruth is benefiting from the changes that were brought about by an older generation of LGBTQ people in this country, a generation which stood up and made change happen at a time when it still created a serious risk to your livelihood, your career, your family relationships, and even your physical safety. That was a time when the Aids epidemic was destroying our communities, and we were wracked with grief at the loss of so many. We stood up and spoke out because it really was silence or death. And if you were going to die anyway you might as well go shouting. My own first partner died of Aids.  Back in the 80s was when it was brave to stand up and be counted, to stand up and make your voice heard. Ruth stands on the shoulders of those who won that victory of social acceptance, all too often at immense personal cost. She’s not the cause of it, she’s the beneficiary.

Some of us gay people were creating our own families over two decades ago at a time when those same newspapers which now print hagiographies of Ruth Davidson were demonising us. I have daughters with a lesbian couple, my eldest is now in her 20s. Gay folk having kids is not a new thing. But when we created a family there were no gushing articles in newspapers telling us how groundbreaking and brave we were. There were only hate articles insisting that people like us shouldn’t be allowed to have children.

So don’t tell me how leading-edge Ruth Davidson is. She’s a latecomer to the baby shower, she doesn’t get the credit for organising it. She didn’t normalise gay families. An older generation of gay people did that. She didn’t normalise being gay in public life. Aulder gay folk did that. She’s able to enjoy the privilege she does as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives because other people have done the hard work of attaining public and social acceptance, and suffered as a result. That was work which the Scottish Conservatives actively sought to undo and which they tried to prevent happening.

And yeah, I have a particular bugbear about this, because I was one of the ones who got gaybashed – more than once – in order to secure Ruth’s privileges. So don’t tell me how bloody groundbreaking she is. It scunners me no end to see her get the credit for the changes that others suffered and sacrificed for in order to bring about.

Now I’ve got that out of my system, what was even worse was that a national newspaper printed an article praising Ruth Davidson for talking about her mental health issues without seeing fit to mention the destruction of mental health service provision in England under the auspices of her own Conservative party, and the Conservative threat to the Scottish budget meaning that the Scottish Government has to cut services in other areas to protect NHS Scotland.

But hey, it’s OK that an axe is being taken to mental health services, that benefits for disabled people are being slashed, that there’s an epidemic of food poverty, that mental health issues and drug and alcohol dependency are strongly influenced by the poverty and deprivation that Conservative policies are making worse. It’s OK that Ruth Davidson presides over a party through which sectarianism, racism, and misogyny run to its rotten core, because doesn’t Ruth Davidson have a lovely smile, and she’s so willing to talk about her personal life.

Talking about her party’s policies? Not so much. Because that might mean she’s questioned on them, and when she’s questioned the smile disappears. It becomes as invisible as her political principles. Ruth is the Cheshire Cat of politics, smiling into non-existence.

When a newspaper treats a politician like a celebrity off the telly, it does no one any favours. It doesn’t hold the powerful to account when a politician is treated as some sort of cheerful outsider with a compelling personal narrative, and not as a member of the governing party in the UK. It helps no one when Ruth Davidson is not challenged on the gulf between her words and her party’s actions. All it does is to reduce British politics to a species of reality show, politics as spectacle not as principle. When the political means of holding the powerful to account are as weak as they are in the UK, it’s all the more important that the press does it. They’re failing us.


 

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Not keeping calm and carrying on

Safer. Are you feeling safer? More secure. Are you feeling more secure? Those were the key promises of the Better Together campaign in 2014. Why risk independence when you can continue to enjoy the safety and security of the UK, they told us. It was their key selling point, the single point that more than any other persuaded the switherers to vote against independence. All that uncertainty. All those unknowns. All that doom, gloom and McArmageddon that opponents of independence forecast, all of it could be avoided by the simple expedient of a no vote, and then Scots could continue as a part of the UK, a part of the EU, and no one would have to worry.

Only now we’re confronted with a greater insecurity than anyone forecast with independence. We are less safe than we have ever been. Not even Alistair Darling warned that independence might mean the reintroduction of rationing, of food shortages and the necessity of police intervention in order to maintain civil order and security and safety at ports and airports. Yet that is precisely where we are now as a result of Theresa May’s calamitous handling of Brexit. A Brexit which, moreover, Scotland voted against by a considerably larger margin than it voted against independence. A Brexit which Scotland has had no role in shaping or determining. A Brexit which is being imposed upon us by the right wing ideologues of the Conservative party.

Faced with the potential of serious disruption to supply chains and the very real possibility of food and medicine shortages, the British government has now appointed a minister for food security. Conservative MP David Rutley was given the brief as a part of the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) earlier this month. His responsibilities will include ameliorating the effects of a no-deal Brexit or a hard Brexit on the supply chain networks, and planning for the all too real possibility of food and medicine shortages. He’s the minister for ration books and for recipe books that make half an egg, one ounce of butter and a packet of wallpaper paste into a hearty meal.

This week, Police Scotland confirmed that they have been making contingency plans to deal with massive queues at ports, and to cope with the potential of civil unrest in the event of food shortages. Chief Constable Iain Livingstone has confirmed that he is seeking assurances from the UK Treasury that it will reimburse the force for the extra costs it will incur as a result of the additional duties it will have to cope with as a result of the Tories’ crazy mad Brexit. Although he didn’t actually say “crazy mad Brexit”.

There are those who voted against independence or voted for Brexit because they harked back to some fantasy glory ideal of a Great Britain that was last seen during WW2, but even they probably weren’t counting on the reintroduction of rationing. The Conservatives have been criticised for their Dad’s Army approach to the Brexit negotiations, but this is shockingly literal, and not in a laughable way. The stupid boys of the Conservative party really are telling us “Don’t panic!” So how’s that WW2 nostalgia working out for those who voted for Brexit?

We’ve gone from punching above our weight and bestriding the world stage as a partner in the most perfect union of nations in the multiverse to assurances that there will be enough food. That’s how far short of reality the delusions of British nationalism have fallen. Do you really need any more confirmation that you were lied to in 2014 by the proponents of the UK? Just how much of a gap do you need between what you were promised and what you were actually delivered before you recognise that the people of this country have a right to vote on the performances of our political masters?

The diehards of British nationalism insist that this is what Scotland voted for. But it isn’t. Scotland did not vote for rationing. Scotland did not vote to be ripped out of Europe. Scotland did not vote for the destruction of our public services by far right xenophobes in the Conservative party. Scotland did not vote to be powerless and marginalised. That is not what we were promised in 2014. Respect the result of the referendum? Sure. Just as soon as those who won that referendum respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in order to win it. The people who need to respect election results are not those who lost those votes, it’s those who won them. And what Scotland has witnessed from Westminster since 2014 has been the opposite of respect. It has been contempt, disdain, and scorn.

So you’ll have had your security and safety as a part of the UK, Scotland. It will depend on how many potatoes you can grow in your back garden, if you are lucky enough to have a back garden. Dig for victory. Dig the political grave of the British state. You can’t feed yourself and your family with WW2 sloganeering about pluckiness and grit.

Keep calm and carry on? Bugger that. I’m Scottish and I was lied to. I have no intention of keeping calm, and I’ll carry on until this country can escape from those mendacious fools whose red white and blue nationalism-that’s-not-nationalist-at-all has brought us all to the brink of ruin and turned us into the laughing stock of Europe. The only reason we’re not the laughing stock of the entire world is because of Donald Trump.

The UK is a state of delusion. It’s a state of self-deception. It’s a state of confusion, a state of disgrace. Brexit was always a fantasy. The idea that the UK punches above its weight was always a fantasy. The notion of Scotland as a partner in a Union was always a fantasy. The reason we’re in this mess now is because the British state still hasn’t come to terms with the reality of itself as a medium sized European country which must form partnerships in order to survive and thrive. The fantastists of British nationalism still dream of standing alone on the White Cliffs of Dover and shouting defiance at the world, and then they can go home to their potato peel pie and their drawn on nylons.

They can go by themselves, Scotland won’t be joining them. Scotland will be rejoining the real world. And until we do so, we’re not keeping calm. We’re angry. We’re carrying on until we escape.


 

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Saying what really matters

Theresa May is scared. She gave an interview to Reporting Scotlandshire and instructed us to forget about another independence referendum and told Nicola Sturgeon to concentrate on the day job. Which is pretty rich coming from Theresa May. Nicola Sturgeon manages her day job rather well, presiding over a government which manages – on the whole – to achieve what it has been tasked with achieving. A government which is united and focused on the job at hand. Theresa May on the other thinks that her own day job largely consists of going to war with other parts of her own party and making just enough in the way of concessions to one or other of the warring factions in order to keep her in her post.

In the Gospel According to the Unsaintly Theresa, delivered unchallenged to the BBC’s Department For Keeping the Jocks In Order, the issue of Scottish independence was definitively decided in 2014. Scotland voted to remain a part of the UK, and that’s that. Only that’s not that. Some of us were paying attention in 2014, and some of us who were paying attention object to the selective rewriting of history by the likes of Theresa May. Yes indeed, Scotland voted to remain a part of the UK in 2014, but those who were campaigning for a No vote were unequivocal in their assertions that Scotland was not voting for the status quo. There was no status quo, they told us.

So for example on 9 September 2014 the Guardian newspaper informed us that, “Even with a no vote, the status quo isn’t an option.” On the 14th of that month, just a few short days before the referendum vote, Alistair Darling the leader of the Better Together campaign wrote in the Scotsman newspaper that choosing to stay in the UK didn’t mean voting for the status quo. “Saying No Thanks does not mean no change,” he wrote. “It means faster, better and safer change.” https://www.scotsman.com/news/opinion/alistair-darling-more-powers-without-risks-1-3541113

That faster, better, and safer change has turned out to be the discovery that the powers of the Scottish parliament can be removed by Westminster at its whim, the undermining of the foundations of the devolution settlement, the ripping up of the Claim of Right by Richard Leonard, and being wrenched out of the EU into a chaotic Brexit without any say, without consultation. Scotland is facing the most uncertain and insecure future it has ever faced in peacetime, thanks to the collective failure of the British nationalist parties.

Back in 2014 in that Scotsman article Alistair Darling wrote that it was “beneath contempt” that supporters of independence were arguing that only independence could protect the NHS from privatisation. Earlier this month we discovered that the hard line Brexiteers in the Conservative party plan to open up the NHS to US health companies after Brexit. The European Research Group, which is linked to Liam Fox and Michael Gove, seeks to open up the NHS to foreign companies, and to trash consumer and environmental regulations. The only contempt here is the contempt with which the British nationalist parties have treated every promise made by the Better Together campaign.

Since Scots were not voting for the status quo in 2014, having been told by the opponents of independence themselves that there was no status quo to vote for, then it’s only fair and reasonable that those same opponents of independence be held to account for the difference between what they promised and what they have given us. We have the right to say “No thanks” to what the British parties have actually delivered. If an electorate has no means to hold politicians to account, then there is no democracy.

Theresa May doesn’t want us to hold her to account because she is afraid of what we’ll tell her.  To her, Scotland is a trivial northern province whose expectations can be managed and ultimately ignored. We figure as a minor distraction in her day job, which is pursuing the internal warfare within the Conservative party. She tells us that the SNP should focus on the issues that matter to the people of Scotland.

Well speaking as one of the people of Scotland, Theresa, what matters to me is that you and your party are held to account for the promises that you made to Scotland, promises that you have trashed. What matters to me and to other people in Scotland is that Scotland has a voice and a say in saving itself from the madness of the Brexit that you are imposing upon us without our consent. What matters to me and to other people in Scotland is that it’s us, the people of Scotland, who decide the path that this country takes. Not you. Not your Conservative party that knows little about Scotland and which cares even less. Don’t you dare to presume to tell me what matters to me. Because I will be the judge of that, not you.

And together with five million other people in Scotland, we will be the judge of you Theresa. We will be the judge of the ruin and the mess and the upset and the uncertainty that you have created in pursuit of your narrow party interests. We will be the judge of the alienation that you have created with our neighbours in Europe.  One way or another, Theresa, the people of Scotland will have our say, and we do not take kindly to being told what does or does not matter to us by someone whose actions and politics have made it abundantly clear that Scotland doesn’t matter to her. Do not tell us what matters, Theresa. We’ll tell you. What matters to us is that we’re no longer subjected to you and your arrogant ignorance.

We were promised stronger devolution with less risk by the proponents of the UK. Instead we have weaker devolution and greater risk. There’s only one way Scotland can get more powers with less risk. That’s with independence. Then Scotland can choose its own path and its own destiny, and we will not be at risk of governments which we didn’t vote for, at risk of the delusions of British nationalists who have never got over the loss of empire, or at risk of having all our public services privatised by free-market ideologues. And most of all, we will no longer be at risk of being told what matters to us by politicians to whom we do not matter at all.


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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.

Breaking the glass of the fishbowl

So there you go, you write a blog article about the double standards of British nationalism, and how violent metaphors and imagery are the norm for opponents of independence, but if supporters of independence were to use equivalent words or imagery, there would be outrage. And then the very next day the zoomers of Scotland in Union go and like a Tweet from a well known British-nationalist-so-he’s-not-a-nationalist-at-all troll displaying a blunderbuss and the caption that he’s ready for the SNP day of action. Because that doesn’t condone violence at all.  Oh no. It was just banter.

It ought to be superfluous by now to point out that had a similar image been approved by an independence supporting organisation, there would be demands for the police to investigate hate crimes, which would shortly be followed by acres of anguished commentary about the violent evils that Scottish nationalism have unleashed on a society that was perfectly content to thole bouts of Tory rule until that pesky SNP came along and spoiled everything. Witness the anger and pursed lips that were provoked by the infamous Tory Scum Out banner. But a British nationalist and a photo of a weapon with a threatening caption, it’s just a spot of banter and only a humourless separatist could object to it. Calling opponents Tory Scum is a very bad thing, threatening opponents with a blunderbuss, that’s just fine.

The fact is that British nationalism in Scotland is a violent ideology. Before independence became a mainstream political idea in Scotland, British nationalism in this country most commonly manifested itself in Orange Parades and songs about being up to your knees in Fenian blood. Now independence supporters have taken the place of Catholics as the favourite bogeypersons of British nationalism. We all know that the real reason that opponents of independence don’t organise mass public events, marches, or rallies is because if they were to do so those events would be indistinguishable from an Orange Parade combined with a Britain First rally and would attract a significant number of far right extremists.

British nationalism in Scotland prefers to operate in the dark, because coming out into the light would expose it for the intolerant ideology that it really is. The real reason that the parties and organisations which oppose independence don’t organise large scale public events is because they’re afraid of how ugly so much of their public really is, and they don’t want mainstream Scotland to see it.

The willingness of opponents of independence to use violent imagery is only to be expected after all, and not just because British nationalism is an ideology which glorifies warfare and the military. The whole justification given for keeping Scotland within the UK is based on fear, scaremongering, intimidation, and negativity. The favoured arguments of opponents of independence rest upon telling Scotland how poor we’d be, how helpless we’d be, how hopeless we’d be. There is no vision, no poetry, no soul in British nationalism in Scotland. It cannot convincingly paint a portrait of a Scotland that is a better and a happier place for being a part of a UK in which it is systematically ignored and sidelined and its democratic will subordinated to that of a larger neighbour. British nationalism is an ideology of threats. When the basis of your politics is a threat, it’s a very short step to indulge in threats of violence. The essence of British nationalism in Scotland is “You’d be nothing without us.” It’s an abusive relationship as a political principle.

British nationalists reject the label nationalism, and not just because one of the abiding myths of British nationalism is that it’s not nationalist at all. Partly they do so in order to avoid dealing with the mental contradictions and contortions of believing that Scotland and the UK are both nations and that Scotland is simultaneously a nation and a region. Partly they do so because the myth of British exceptionalism tells them that being British means you are above petty nationalism, a curse which only afflicts lesser nations.

How many times have you heard a confirmed opponent of independence say something along the lines of, “But I just don’t think about nations at all. It’s only you nats who do that.” The British state regards itself as a nation state, and British nationalists don’t think about the role of the nation state in the exact same way that heterosexual people don’t think about sexuality, able bodied people don’t think about disability, or men don’t think about sexism. The British state is the political water in which British nationalists swim, and they are the goldfish who are happy to be swimming in circles inside the fishbowl which contains and constrains it. It’s only when you want to swim free that you bang against the glass. When you don’t challenge your boundaries you can live in the comfortable ignorance of telling yourself that the boundaries don’t exist and that you are boundless.

The violent imagery and metaphors from British nationalists are only going to get worse. As it becomes increasingly clear that the British state’s grasp on Scotland is slipping, that Scotland is getting closer to regaining its independence, the fear of the fearmongers will grow ever more strident. They will project their own intolerance and intimidation onto us, because there is no one more quick to claim victimhood than the powerful who fear losing their privileges and power.

The difference between this time and 2014 is that they can no longer pretend to themselves that we represent no real challenge. They know that we are. They also know that they have nothing positive to offer, because no one is going to believe a Vow Mk II. All they have left are threats, scare stories, and the mewlings of imagined victimhood. That’s going to be the British nationalist playbook for the second Scottish independence referendum. But this time we’re not going to let them get away with pretending that the Scottish constitutional debate is a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism. There is no unionism, because there is no union.  There is only a unitary British state with the window dressing of devolution.

All that opponents of independence have to offer is the nakedly xenophobic British nationalism of Brexit and swimming in circles in a fishbowl bedecked with flegs. We’re breaking through the glass and swimming in the open ocean.


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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.

Trying to kill us but not with kindness

It’s been obvious for a good while now that the Labour Branch Office in Scotland is composed of an angry and embittered bunch of British nationalists who are united by only three things: their utter inability to comprehend that their British nationalism is in fact nationalism, their unshakeable conviction that they have an absolute entitlement to Scottish votes, and their pathological loathing of the SNP. The only thing that your average Labour politician hates more than the SNP is another average Labour politician.

Labour’s fall from grace with the Scottish electorate is therefore just a phase that the country is going through, and all that the Branch Office needs to do is to keep with the tried and trusted formula and eventually voters will come flocking back to their true home. All that is required is to find an SNPbad story that’s big enough and bad enough, and no one will ever think about Scottish independence ever again.

The rest of the party takes their cue on all matters Caledonian from the Branch Office. Hence the statement from Labour chair Ian Lavery at the party conference on Monday, “We need to kill off the nationalists in Scotland and regain that great country.” Are you feeling the love there? Here we are, four years down the road, and Labour is still spouting the same sentiments as the unlamented Ian Davidson who claimed that after a No vote in the referendum all that would be needed would be to bayonet the wounded. Almost 20 years ago, George Robertson claimed that the introduction of Labour’s specially pauchled devolution would succeed in killing Scottish nationalism “stone dead”. How’s that working out for you then?

Can you imagine the outrage, the headlines, the TV programmes dissecting the cancer lurking at the very soul of the Scottish independence movement if some SNP politician had said, “We need to kill off the Unionists and regain this great country?” There would be a special edition of Scotland Tonight with a panel of very sad and angry Labour, Tory and Lib Dem politicians clutching their pearls and bewailing the monster that nationalism creates. There would be anguished editorials in the Herald, the Scotsman, the Record, the Press and Journal and the Courier. It would be the lead story on Reporting Scotlandshire for three days running. There would be a clamour for apologies and resignations which would not cease even after some heads had rolled.

But it was a Labour politician who said it about the SNP, so that makes it all just fine. Scottish politics always comes with a heavy dose of British nationalist double standards. Anti-Scottish remark from an English commentator or politician, just a spot of banter, complaining about it make you dour and humourless. Anti-English remark from some random punter on social media, a deep dark evil lurking at the very heart of the Scottish psyche.

Ian Lavery’s tactless choice of words is precisely what we don’t need in politics. Coming as it does from a party which has just stated its intention to overrule the will of the Scottish people as expressed at the ballot box, it’s not just unwelcome and unhelpful, it’s also deeply worrying. If Labour is sincere in its desire to regain Scotland at the ballot box, it can only do so by engaging with the concerns of voters who seek Scottish independence, not by threatening to extirpate them. But Labour doesn’t want to engage, it just wants the whole issue to go away. It doesn’t understand it. It’s still hurting at the rejection. It hasn’t passed beyond denial in the stages of grief.

What is it with British nationalists and violent metaphors? It must be something to do with the cognitive dissonance involved in pretending that your nationalism isn’t nationalist at all. Or possibly it’s all that anti-Catholic banter. If you don’t actually sing about being up to your knees in Fenian blood it’s just a joke. Let’s be honest here Labour, if you are incapable of recognising your own British nationalism for what it is, you’re never going to be in any position to challenge a Scottish nationalism that at least has the virtue of knowing what it is and what it stands for. Truth always defeats self-delusion.

It is an abiding and deep rooted trope of British nationalism that it’s not nationalist at all. That’s why they call themselves Unionists. The British conceit is that the UK is a family of nations, and therefore it transcends narrow nationalism, but we all know that is a lie. In more recent years that conceit has extended to the multicultural population which has developed in the UK after WW2. The truth is that British nationalism is the respectable face of English nationalism. It’s union flegs in Tesco. It’s interminable telly programmes about the Royals. It’s Brexit, bloody Brexit. British nationalism is a nationalism which is incapable of seeing the truth about itself because fundamentally it’s a nationalism of denial. The Loyalist sectarianism of Northern Ireland and the West of Scotland is a disease of British nationalism, but British nationalists prefer to portray it as two warring tribes with the British state as some disinterested father figure holding their jaikets. Give me an honest Scottish civic nationalism any day of the week over this delusional dreamscape of Ukania.

Labour supports Brexit, a project which is nationalist to the very core of its conception, yet still tells itself and the rest of us that as an organisation it’s opposed to nationalism and stands for solidarity. It’s a peculiar concept of solidarity when it ends at the White Cliffs of Dover and depends upon being ruled by the Westminster Parliament. It’s an even more peculiar concept of solidarity to demand that the only proper role of socialism in Scotland is to sacrifice itself on the altar of the British state and to save England from itself when that country keeps persisting in voting for Conservative governments.

Labour sincerely believes that it has a right to Scottish votes. The fact that Scotland has turned its back on the party, especially that West of Scotland Catholic community which once voted for no one else, is a source of genuine hurt and confusion to Labour in Scotland. They really don’t know where they went wrong. There they were, doing the same thing for decades, parcelling out MPs seats and cooncils to their pals, and then those pesky nats came along and stole all their voters. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

So here’s a message for Labour, and I’m not even an SNP member. You can’t kill us off, because you can’t crush hope. The great victory of the Scottish independence movement in 2014 was to do something for working class people in Scotland that Labour forgot how to do decades ago, to give us hope. The best that Labour can offer is more of the same, a brief respite from Conservative rule, a respite that can only be achieved by a Labour party that apes the Tories in order to appeal to the Sun reading voters of Middle England. There is no hope, no poetry, no vision, no dream. That’s why Scotland will never come back to Labour, because Labour has no soul. We dream of something better. We’ve learned how to hope again. Labour can’t take that away from us.


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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.

Time for the stars to shine

Oh dear gods. Oh all the deities that anyone has ever worshipped. Oh anthropomorphised personification of an impersonal and uncaring universe. I’m fed up. I’m fed up with the wibbling wankwits dribbling drivel and calling it wisdom. I’m fed up with the mendacious mouth-breathers. I’m fed up with the self-serving and the selfish stupidity. I’m fed up with the dishonesty, the duplicity, and the deceit. I’m fed up with the arrogance of arsewiping addlebrains. I’m fed up with the harebrained scheming of heartless scumsuckers. I’m even fed up with the artful invention of alliterating insults. It’s that bad. This is what happens when you pay attention to British politics and the British media.

The UK is a mess. If it was a horse it would be shot. If it was a cow it would be the patient zero in a foot and mouth epidemic. If it was an earthworm it would be lying shrivelled on a hot pavement and not even a ravenous crow would think it was a tasty morsel.

Today, at the Labour party conference in Liverpool, Branch Office manager Richard Who He stood up and perorated in a dull monotone that made even Iain Gray seem like a charismatic and amusing after dinner speaker that people in Scotland don’t want a referendum. Richard gave no evidence for this assertion, but presumably he’d read it in the Daily Record and has been hearing Ruth Davidson repeating it at every opportunity for the past four years, so it must be true. After all, who needs democracy when you can have baseless assertions and the occasional opinion poll in the pages of the anti-independence press. So because of this, Labour is going to include a manifesto commitment in the General Election which will give Jezza a mandate to refuse to allow any future indy ref in Scotland. That’s you telt, uppity Jocks.

It doesn’t matter what Scotland votes for. It makes no difference if there is a Scottish Parliament with a mandate for another independence vote and a majority of MSPs who support it. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pro-indy party which gains the largest number of seats and votes in a future Westminster General Election in Scotland. Jezza will be able to opt for the Partido Popular solution to referendums because he’s Prime Minister on the back of votes in the rest of the UK.

Labour has just destroyed any pretence that it’s a party which supports the Claim of Right underpinning the devolution settlement and Scotland’s place in the UK. That all by itself counts as a material change of circumstances as a trigger for another independence referendum. Labour can no longer pretend that the UK offers Scotland what Scotland votes for. Labour has turned its back on the principle that the people of Scotland have the sovereign right to choose the form of government best suited to their needs. Labour has abrogated that right to itself.

Meanwhile, despite the very clear evidence that a huge majority of Labour’s own members want another referendum on Brexit, Labour has instead decided that two faces are not enough for the party leadership. You can have a referendum, says the Labour leadership, just not a referendum on what you want to have a referendum on. Instead you can have a referendum giving you a choice between a no deal Brexit or a crappy deal Brexit.

Labour has just destroyed itself in Scotland. It’s opposed to any future independence referendums, alienating that large segment of the Labour vote in Scotland which supports independence. And it is opposed to any revisiting of the decision to leave the EU, alienating that even larger segment of the Labour vote in Scotland which wants to remain a part of the EU. The Jezzagasm has proven less conducive to a last relationship with the Scottish electorate than a blind date who turned out to possess the engaging wit of Richard Who He, the numeracy of Jackie Baillie, the colour and charisma of James Kelly, and the sex appeal of Gordie Broon.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems continue to provide a lesson in the meaning of the word hypocrisy, demanding a second Brexit referendum but refusing a second Scottish independence referendum, even though both claims to a second vote are based upon the same grounds – that voters were lied to and those who won have not delivered their promises.

The Tories continue to be their usual repugnant selves, the only two things that they’re competent at are being vile and fighting amongst themselves. Today the arch Brexists of the European Research Group had another press conference to present their plan for Brexit since the last plan they presented at a press conference was ridiculed. The new plan is exactly the same as the old plan, and largely consists of the assertion that everything will be fine because we’re British and we won the war. The ERG wants to rip up European standards on food, workers’ rights, and environmental protection in pursuit of seeking trade deals. Because clearly the UK will only be able to compete if British workers have similar levels of protection as those in sweat shops in South East Asia, where they munch hurriedly on chlorinated chicken sandwiches during the five minute lunch breaks that they don’t get paid for halfway through their twelve hour shift. We can look forward to more backstabbing, infighting, and manoeuvering for position from the careerists of the Tory party at their conference in Birmingham next week. What joy.

All this is bad enough. It’s worse than bad enough. It’s at times like that that a country is desperately in need of a press which forensically dissects the claims and pretensions of British political parties. But what we’ve got is a highly partisan media that specialises in stirring up hatred against minorities, migrants, and the marginalised. The EU’s justice commissioner Věra Jourová, who was brought up in the totalitarian Czechoslovakia under Communist rule, has compared the British press to the media in 1970s Czechoslovakia in its single minded pursuit of xenophobic nationalism and desire to spread hatred.

I’m fed up, because the politics and press of the UK are broken and they can’t be fixed. I’m fed up, because there is no remedy, there is only escape. I’m fed up being told to wait, being told to trust, being told to hold back. I’m fed up, because patience is a finite resource and even a saint runs out of it eventually. I’m fed up sailing through the long dark night without a star to guide me. It’s the SNP conference the week after next, and I expect the party leadership to take note. It’s time for the stars to shine.


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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.