The flame of hope burns bright in the storm

Back in September 2014, on the day after the defeat of the Yes campaign in the referendum, I wrote about the importance of keeping the flame of hope alive during the storms and gales that were about to strike. The arrest of Alex Salmond on fourteen separate charges including breach of the peace, sexual assault, indecent assault, and attempted rape is one of those storms. There is going to be a howling gale of British nationalist gloating, of finger pointing, and taunting on social media and in the pages of the anti-independence press.

These are serious and shocking charges. This is a very big story. However it must never be forgotten that Alex Salmond deserves due process, and so do those who made the allegations which led to his arrest. He is innocent until proven guilty and he deserves a fair trial, if this matter comes to a trial. Those who made the allegations against him deserve a fair hearing. That needs to be said, because it is a point that is likely to be lost amidst the rush to judgement in a hostile press and the insults and slurs that have already started to fly on social media. He deserves to make his case, and the case of those who made the allegations against him must be heard as well. We must, all of us, respect the legal process. Justice demands it.

It is cold comfort to those of us who have looked up to Alex and respected him as the single individual who has done more than any other to bring the cause of independence into the forefront of Scottish politics, who has made independence respectable and realistic, but we must acknowledge that it is a desireable thing that this is a nation in which no one is above the law. We are not campaigning for an independent Scotland in which a person’s position or status protects them from justice. A Scotland in which no one is above the law is a Scotland which all of us can be proud of living in and being a part of. We should be seeking a Scotland in which those who feel that they are victims of sexual assault are able to make a complaint and have it dealt with sympathetically and seriously no matter how prominent or powerful the person against whom the allegations are made. That’s the independent Scotland we strive for. But it is still a shock to see one of the great heroes of our movement be arrested and potentially face trial.

The flame of hope burns stronger now than it has burned since 2014. We are closer to independence now than we have been at any time since. The British state is reeling from the self-inflicted wounds of Brexit. There is the buzz of expectation of another independence referendum, and many of those who voted no in 2014 are reconsidering their decision in the light of the contempt with which Theresa May’s government has treated Scotland, and remain voters in general, since the EU referendum vote. We have seen all the promises and commitments that the Better Together campaign made to Scotland in 2014 turn to dust.

As the likelihood of a no-deal crashing out of the EU looms ever larger, independence for Scotland is the shining beacon that shows the only clear path out of the mire, the only escape from an eternity of right wing governments and cruelty as official policy. Only independence offers the prospect of a kinder, gentler, better land. We are getting close to the tipping point. We must not be distracted from that. We are winning.

The very last thing that the independence movement needs right now is to succumb to some self-inflicted wounds of its own. It will do the independence movement no favours if we indulge ourselves in conspiracy theories and dark mutterings about the nefarious doings of a British state that is threatened like it has never been threatened before. Such musings and mutterings will do nothing to persuade undecided voters to our cause, at a time when we have succeeded in pushing the rock almost to the top of the hill, at a time when the vista of a better Scotland, an independent Scotland, is almost clear for all to see. So we need to stay calm. We need to stay dignified. We need, above all, to remain focussed on the prize.

Opponents of independence have always been keen to personalise the independence cause. They have consistently sought to portray the desire for independence as the personal creature of first Alex Salmond, and more latterly of Nicola Sturgeon. Naturally they are going to seize with unseemly glee on the arrest of Alex Salmond and the court case which will follow should the Procurator Fiscal’s office decide to proceed with a trial. It’s all their SNPbad Christmasses come at once.

Alex Salmond is a giant of the Scottish independence movement, but he is not the movement. Alex Salmond has had and continues to have a huge influence on the independence movement, but he is not the reason for independence. Our movement is bigger than any individual. The reasons for independence are not embodied in any one person no matter who they are.

Above all, the reasons for independence are to do with the consistent and continual failures of the British state and the British political establishment to respond to, to take on board, and to act upon the democratic desires of the people of Scotland. The story of independence is the story of the systemic failure of the British state, that remains unchanged no matter what personal failures are alleged about any individual.

Making the case for independence means making the case for a nation in which the government is democratically accountable to the people of Scotland, elected by the people of Scotland, and which works in the interests of the people of Scotland. That case remains the exact same today as it did yesterday. That is why no matter what happens with respect to Alex Salmond’s legal issues, the reasons for independence will remain unchanged. We must, as a movement, continue to focus on those reasons. We must continue to tell the story of the better Scotland that is within our grasp. Scotland deserves nothing less, our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.

We will prevail, because we have right on our side. We will get to the top of the mountain, and will see the better land beyond. The flame of hope still burns brightly in the storm. It will light our path to a better Scotland.


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The proud Scot butters nae neeps

So how’s that respect agenda working out for everyone? Remember that? Respect was supposed to be the keystone in Conservative dealings with Scotland, according to David Cameron before he won the award for worst Prime Minister ever and then flounced off to his garden shed. But it’s not all bad, we’ve now all discovered that he’s only the second worst Prime Minister ever, as Theresa May has taken the prize.

There’s precious little respect on display from the Conservatives towards Scotland. Respect means to have due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of someone. It means to be considerate and attentive to what another is saying. This Conservative government has failed dismally to demonstrate any respect for Scotland.

Actually, that’s being kind. To say that someone has dismally failed to achieve something that they’d claimed they were going to do implies that they had good intentions to begin with, that they had a genuine desire to do whatever it was that they’d said they were going to do. The Conservatives never had the slightest intention of changing how they dealt with Scotland or the Scottish Parliament. The respect agenda is up there with the claim that Scotland is a beloved partner in a family of nations, or the assertion that this is the UK is the most successful partnership of countries that the world has ever seen. It is now and always was meaningless cant designed to make British nationalists in Scotland feel better about themselves.

The reality of Conservative respect for Scotland was on display this week when the UK government cancelled the Joint Ministerial Council meeting that had been scheduled for Thursday, citing diary issues. The Joint Ministerial Council is a regular meeting between the First Ministers of the devolved administrations and the British government, but apparently David Lidington is washing his hair so can’t make it. The cancellation comes just a few days after Theresa May promised an “enhanced role” for the devolved administrations in Brexit negotiations.

We had some more Conservative respect on Wednesday, with reports that the Scottish Conservatives are going to vote in a bloc against Theresa May. Yay! Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ are standing up for Scotland just like Ruth Davidson said they were going to! Oh. Wait. Hing oan.

They’re going to vote against any proposals from Theresa May to give the Scottish Government a greater role in post-Brexit trade negotiations. So not standing up for Scotland at all then. They’re standing up for a reduced role for Scotland. They’re standing up for putting Scotland firmly back in the shortbread tin and nailing the lid down. They’re standing up for the narrow party interests of the Scottish Tories and their loathing of Nicola Sturgeon, and if that means that there will be no Scottish voice in post-Brexit trade negotiations, so be it. They’re proud Scots, but not so proud that they want Scotland to speak for itself or have its own interests and views represented. Proud Scot butters no parsnips.

Also on Wednesday, there was an excruciating example of more Proud Scot buttering nae neeps when Scottish Conservative MP Stephen Kerr was chosen to ask the Prime Minister a question during PMQs. There are a lot of things that Stephen could have chosen to ask. He could have asked about measures to protect the Scottish fishing industry, which is the only Scottish industry that has any interests which appear on the Scottish Tories’ Brexit radar. Or rather, the interests of the six wealthy families who have hoovered up most of Scotland’s fishing quotas. But even so, it would have been more worthwhile than what he came out with.

Stephen assured the House and everyone else that he was a Proud Scot. It’s only ever people who are keen to ensure that Scotland has a subordinate role and an inferior position who feel the need to tell us that they are Proud Scots. Stephen wanted the world to know that the United Kingdom was the most successful political union that the world had ever known.

It’s not clear what standard of comparison he was using here. There are plenty of other political unions in which the participants actually retain equal voices or at least equal representation at the highest level of the structures of the union. Unions which, you know, are actually unions, and not incorporations and takeovers.

Possibly he meant that the UK was the most successful political union that the world had ever seen because it gave Stephen a seat in the Westminster parliament where he could pontificate from the back benches and pretend to himself that he was important and influential. And if he keeps his nose clean and his head down he might eventually be in line for a knighthood or even a peerage.

Mainly however, he wanted Theresa May to rule out Scotland having another independence referendum any time soon. Or indeed not so soon. Stephen is such a Proud Scot that he wants to ensure that Scotland doesn’t have any say in whether or not it wants to continue remaining a part of his most successful political union the world has ever seen. He’s such a Proud Scot that he wants to ensure that a Prime Minister whose mandate in Scotland rests upon the votes received by her party elsewhere in the UK has a veto over Scotland. And he wants to ensure that the Scotland that he’s determined to trap into this so-called perfect union has no say in how it charts its course in the storms of the post-Brexit world that his party is dragging an unwilling Scotland into. That’s a strange definition of pride.

You don’t measure pride by words. You don’t measure pride by the number of times a person tells you that they’re proud. You measure it by deeds, by action. You measure it by how many neeps it butters, not by how many proud Scots say but. The proud Scots but of the Scottish Tories are not proud of Scotland. They’re just conceited. The proud Scot butters nae neeps.


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Lost and silenced in the dreamscape

What is wrong with Britain? Let me list the ways. Mind you, if anyone embarked upon a serious and detailed accounting of the myriad ways in which the British state is a fundamental screw up, they’d still be listing them by the time that the Sun runs out of hydrogen and starts to consume helium instead, causing it to swell up into a red giant and engulfing the Earth. This is expected to occur in approximately 5 billion years time. So considerably sooner than Theresa May is likely to start listening to alternative opinions then.

Given that, all anyone can really do, at least while maintaining a semblance of sanity, is to mention some of the more egregious ways in which this so called United Kingdom is neither united nor fit for purpose.

Amidst the Brexitosis which has been occupying the body politic, last week Prince Philip crashed his car. Reports say that he was turning out into a main road, was blinded by the sun, even though it’s still not a red giant, and hit another vehicle carrying two women and a baby. This would seem to suggest that the accident was Prince Philip’s fault, as he was the one who had the obligation to give way to oncoming traffic. The women were injured in the collision, not that you’d really have learned that from the press coverage of the event, which focussed almost in its entirety on the fact that the person who appeared to have been responsible for the crash was uninjured despite overturning his Land Rover. Thankfully the baby escaped without any harm.

One way of reporting this incident, typical of the Daily Mail or the Express, would have been to talk about how an elderly EU immigrant from Greece who’s lived off state benefits all his life and has a sense of entitlement the size of the sun after it’s turned into a red giant caused traffic mayhem, injured two women, and risked the death of an infant. There could have been demands to know why this 97 year old was still driving, and how the only reason he’s still doing so is from a wilful pigheadedness, especially since he’s in the fortunate position of being able to rely on staff who can drive for him. That’s something which can’t be said for a 97 year old who relies on the state pension.

Philip’s pride and arrogance risked the lives of other motorists, and in this case an infant as well. Then just two days after the accident, he was seen driving on a public road, and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Clearly he’s learned nothing, and equally clearly there is no one who is able to stand up to him and take his car keys away from him. There could have been a headline saying, “Out of control pensioner who endangered baby is still driving dangerously.” It’s fine if Prince Philip wants to endanger himself. It’s not fine that he’s endangering other people.

Naturally that’s not how any of this was reported. Instead we got the entirely predictable wall to wall sycophancy and Nicholas Witchelling. Ooooh, isn’t he MARVELLOUS! Isn’t he a wonderful example of British grit. The women and the baby who were the real victims were almost completely ignored.  Pointing out the truth means pointing out the myths upon which the monarchy rests, and that would never do.

Brexit has been reported in a very similar way. It’s all about the prestige of the UK. There’s a fixation on status and an absolute and unquestioning deference to the myths of Britishness. Myths which are never to be questioned or examined critically just like the monarchy can never be challenged. The damage and harm to us plebs is ignored. Yet the UK is founded upon some myths which fall apart on even the most cursory examination. There’s the myth that the UK is a great power, when the reality is that this country acts as a cheerleader for the Pentagon. There’s the myth that the UK punches above its weight, when in fact it is no more influential than any state of a similar size with a similarly large economy.

It’s because of the myths of Britishness that we are told that the UK can’t possibly accept the so-called Norway solution, because “we” can never be rule takers, only rule makers. The UK can’t accept the Irish backstop, because that means having our hands tied until the agreement of Dublin is secured and that would never do. The natural order of British things is for Dublin to have its hands tied, just like Edinburgh’s. Only lesser countries can thole a lesser status, not the UK. Because we’re British and we won the war you know. The only thing that would be damaged here is the pride of those who can’t accept the realities of Britishness and who cling to its myths.

This is in marked contrast to how Scotland is portrayed. Just about everything about Scotland is up for question. It seems at times that there is nothing about Scotland that isn’t derided by proponents of the UK as myth or fiction. It is of course right that a nation should examine itself and its past with a critical eye, but the central myths of Britishness remain unchallenged. The biggest myth of all is the myth of union, a myth which remains as sacrosanct as the press coverage of the royal family. The myth that this is a family of equal nations when the UK is in fact a unitary state in which the majority gets to impose its will on the minority nations.

Let’s spell it out. Let’s burst the bubble. Scotland is not a partner in a union. There is no union. There are no unionists, only British nationalists. Brexit has taught us that. The way in which Scotland has been ignored at every stage in this process proves it. The way in which this Conservative government preaches its respect for the will of the people but undermines, contradicts, and traduces the will of the people of Scotland and the devolution settlement proves it.

If you oppose Scottish independence that doesn’t automatically make you an opponent of nationalism, it makes you a supporter of the British state and British nationalism. You don’t get a free pass like Prince Philip gets a free pass in the press – and as a supporter of an independent Scotland I am not going to support you in your delusion. It’s not the job of independence supporters to repeat the myths of the Nicholas Witchells of British nationalism. We should no longer allow them to endanger everyone else with the stories they tell themselves.

This is not a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism. It’s a debate about whether Scotland wants to wake up and live in reality, or continue to be silenced and endangered amongst the dreamscape of the myths of Britishness.


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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.

Living in a 1970s concept album

Meet the new plan, the same as the old plan. Even though the Prime Minister has been utterly humiliated, she keeps going on. Theresa is missing the shame gene. It is now clear that Theresa May is giving the UK a lesson in masochism. It’s about the only sense in which the UK is able to punch above its weight. Or in this case, punch itself repeatedly in the groin.

Despite a historic defeat of 230 votes, the official policy of the British government is still to chase the pot of gold under the rainbow. The consultations with other parliamentarians has turned out to be talking to the extreme Brexist faction of the Tories and the DUP. The new deal is the same deal with some tweaks to the Irish backstop that the EU has already ruled out. The Irish government has said that it’s a non-starter. Dublin has categorically refused to consider a bilateral treaty between the UK and Ireland and refused to accept a five year time limit on the backstop, because they know that Albion is perfidious. The UK cannot be trusted to keep its word. We in Scotland know that all too well.

Yet Theresa May is still chasing after alterations to the Irish backstop that she cannot achieve. She’s trying to knit herself a parachute although she’s already jumped out of the plane. On Monday the German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas agreed with his Irish counterpart, saying, “I am completely with my Irish colleague. He has already said what he thinks of it, which is nothing.” Theresa could manage to cobble together enough support from the DUP and Rees-Mogg’s European Research Group, she could cajole, bribe, and threaten enough of her own MPs to back her, but it’s all for nothing if what she gets through the Commons is unacceptable to the EU. It’s as pointless and futile as finding a black cat in a darkened room when there is no cat.

Under normal circumstances a blind headlong rush after a fairy story would merely be an irritation which could be solved at the next general election, but in this instance the rainbow in question sits off a cliff with some very nasty rocks below.

Even now, even at this late stage, even as a no-deal looms, Theresa May is still far more concerned about keeping her own party together instead of trying to work with other parties in the greater interest of the UK as a whole. She talks about her precious union, but it’s evident that she means precious in the exact same sense as Gollum called the ring precious. As something to covet, to possess, and to control. She has no interest in what she can do for her so-called precious union, it’s all about what her precious union does for her.

There are fairies at the bottom of the Brexit garden, but the Scottish press is only interested in which side of the SNP civil war they’re on. Because that’s the real story here, right? Whatever is going on between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon it is as nothing compared to the bloodletting and mutual sabotaging taking place with the Conservatives, the party of the British government, the party inflicting Brexit upon us all.

There is a very real and very bloody civil war going on within the Conservative party. The party is desperately trying to avoid an early general election because there is no manifesto that the Tories could stand on which would not result in one large faction or another splitting from the party. So instead the government is preoccupied with unicorns and leprachauns while the orcs of Brexit circle. It’s like we are all living in a very bad concept album from the 1970s, one created by people who have consumed industrial quantities of pharmaceuticals.

On Monday the BBC announced that Theresa May now says that the devolved administrations will have an “enhanced” role in the next phase of the Brexit discussions. It’s very easy to promise an enhanced role when the bar is set so low, up to now the concerns of the devolved administrations have been ignored and traduced. The British government has used Brexit as a weapon to undermine devolution. The Prime Minister is due to meet with Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drayford, the new First Minister of Wales, in the coming week. Theresa has made promises like this before, but the delivery always falls short. She promised she’d listen to the devolved administrations in 2016. She didn’t. She promised she’d listen to the devolved administrations in 2017. She didn’t. She promised she’d listen to the devolved administrations in 2018. She didn’t. And here she is again promising to listen to the devolved administrations. She lied before and she’s lying now. In Theresa’s own words, nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. Precioussssss will be controlled.

We can be pretty certain that Theresa’s discussions will be framed in a similar way to the announcement made last week by David Mundell, who hasn’t resigned yet. David promised that everything was on the table for discussion, except those things that most voters in Scotland actually want. There will be no talk of another referendum, whether an EU one or a Scottish independence one. There will be no talk of suspending Article 50. There will most certainly be no talk of not having Brexit at all. There will be no talk of alterations to Theresa May’s red lines. Theresa is going through the motions of making like she’s busy, making like she’s consulting, but only in order to stall some more. She wants concessions from Holyrood, but has no interest in making any of her own.

The English author Samuel Butler said that the truest characters of ignorance are vanity, pride, and arrogance. All three are richly on display in Theresa May’s government. The bombast, vanity, pride, and arrogance of British nationalism is leading to its own destruction. It’s time for Scotland to prepare the lifeboat.


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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 temple of doom

It’s being reported today (Sunday) that the British Government finds it “extremely concerning” that MPs are trying to delay Article 50 in order to avoid a no deal. It’s a bit like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull when our hero and his chums are in a river and about to go over a waterfall. Theresa May would say it’s extremely concerning that people in the boat are looking to see what they can use as an anchor. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a tired and hackneyed movie containing nothing much that was new, original, or intelligent, one which kept repeating old tropes from earlier in the franchise and which had long since worn out its welcome. Very much like Theresa May’s government. It’s even got the aliens with strange heads too, which is possibly the only way to explain Michael Gove.

It’s such a mess that we’d be in far safer and more competent hands if the Brexit process was being driven by Prince Philip. He’s not sorry about the dangers he causes either. Although admittedly with Prince Philip we’d have a driver with less of a sense of entitlement. What’s driving Theresa’s ire is that tomorrow the Commons is due to debate an amendment which seeks to wrest control over Commons business out of the hands of the Government and give it to MPs. It’s an attempt to limit the overweening power of the executive branch of the government and restore it to the legislature in a state which infamously lacks a written constitution and which over the past few decades has slowly turned into what has been described as an elective dictatorship.

The phrase elective dictatorship was first used by the Conservative politician and intellectual Quentin Hogg, back when the Conservative party had intellectuals. He used it to describe the UK of the late 1960s when in his opinion the British Parliament had become dominated by the government. As a Tory, Hogg was of course using it to describe the Labour government of Harold Wilson. However back in the 1960s the cabinet, of governments of either party, was far more an exercise in collective responsibility. Cabinets contained big beasts, who were capable of standing up to a Prime Minister who was very much regarded as primus inter pares, the first amongst equals. It took the long dark decade and a half of Thatcher to transform the cabinet and the government into a tool and instrument of the Prime Minister.

The theory of UK government is that sovereignty rests in a Parliament which is elected by the people. The reality is that when there is a majority government, absolute power rests with the Prime Minister, who is able to impose her or his will. Theresa May is the head of a minority government, but one which is acting as though it had a majority. Moreover Theresa May is a Prime Minister whose personal authority is tattered and discredited. She has done nothing to endear herself to her own backbenchers, never mind the other parties.

The amendment to be debated tomorrow takes advantage of the historic weakness of the Prime Minister. Put forward jointly by Labour’s Yvette Cooper and the Conservative Nick Boles, the amendment seeks to change the timetabling rules of the House of Commons. It all sounds a bit abstract and arcane, but what MPs are trying to do is to wrest control of Commons business out of the hands of the government and restore it to MPs. That will allow MPs to bring forward bills and amendments and ensure that there is time for them to be debated and voted on, instead of hoping that the government will do so. We’ve already seen how this government is hell bent on trying to avoid being held to account by that Parliament whose sovereignty it claims to be seeking to restore. No wonder Theresa finds the amendment “extremely concerning”.

The reason all this is becoming an issue just now is that by taking control of parliamentary business back from the government, MPs will then be able to change the existing provision in the EU Withdrawal Act which the government rammed through in order to placate extreme Brexists, the clause which states that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March with or without a deal being reached. If they can do that, they remove Theresa May’s big stick, the big stick which remains her only means of exerting any authority. It’s only the threat of falling out of the EU on 29 March without any deal that allows her to continue to insist, despite the historic defeat last week, that it’s her deal or no deal.

Taking control of Commons business out of the hands of government will also allow MPs to explore the option of another EU referendum. However there doesn’t seem to be a majority for it amongst MPs, given recent reports that up to half of Labour’s front bench – those in leave voting constituencies in England – would resign in protest if the party was to support a second EU vote.

We’re in a mess. There’s no clear route out of it. Given these circumstances I have to disagree with the article published in the Scotsman by Joyce McMillan last week, in which she counselled that Scotland must wait until there is a national consensus in favour of independence before pressing for another indy referendum. I have a lot of respect for Joyce, but I think she’s wrong. The mess that the UK has got itself into means that it is absolutely imperative for the people of Scotland to have a say on this country’s future.

Joyce is concerned that Scottish independence must be achieved legally. I agree with her entirely there. Where I disagree with her is that this is not Spain. The unwritten constitution of the UK gives Scotland’s independence campaign considerably greater freedom of movement than the Spanish constitution gives to Catalonia’s. We have options in Scotland that would be illegal for Catalonia. It would not be illegal for the Scottish Government to announce its desire to test in the courts whether it could hold a consultative referendum, which is after all what Alex Salmond was planning to do if David Cameron rejected a Section 30 Order in 2012. If the courts find that Holyrood does indeed have a right to consult with the people of Scotland for their views, then the referendum would be perfectly legal. Equally it’s perfectly legal for Scotland’s pro-independence parties to convert any Scottish election into an effective referendum on independence by converting the vote into a plebiscite election on independence. As I have written before, none of these routes require Theresa May’s permission or a Section 30 order.

The time to go for a Scottish vote is when the machinations in the House of Commons play themselves out. It’s less likely this week than last week that there will be a snap General Election or a second EU referendum, but they remain possibilities. As soon as we know there won’t be, that’s the time for Scotland to make its move. One way or another, the people of Scotland must have a say, we must have a voice. Is Scotland content to remain a subordinate part of an elective dictatorship in which the dictator isn’t elected by Scotland, or do we wish to live in a representative democracy with strong checks and balances on the powers of the executive branch of government, a democracy in which the sovereignty of the people is enshrined in a written constitution.

That’s the choice facing us. We can stay in the UK’s temple of doom, or we can forge our own path.  It’s either rowing our own boat, or sitting helplessly as we plunge off the waterfall and drown in the hubris of British exceptionalism.


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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 National’s Wee Ginger Dugcast : Jan 18

The second edition of The National’s Wee Ginger Dugcast featuring yours truly and Callum Baird, editor of The National. This week we discuss the events in Westminster and the growing impetus for Scotland to have a say on its future. And we also talk about the dog’s bollocks. As you do.


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.

The Ice Queen’s sandcastle

After the devastating defeat of the government’s Brexit deal on Tuesday, came Wednesday’s vote of confidence called by Jeremy Corbyn. As expected, those Tories who voted down the central policy of their own government yesterday lined up to support it today. They might hate Theresa May’s deal, but they hate Jeremy Corbyn even more. The government has survived, it’s alive but not living.

After the vote, Theresa May came out of Downing Street to address the UK from a podium. “It’s time to put self-interest aside,” said the woman who’s done nothing but pursue self-interest for the past two and a half years. The speech was very much in line with her Brexit strategy to date, which is to waste everyone’s time. The only thing this brief speech had going for it was that it only wasted a couple of minutes of everyone’s time, instead of two and a half years. That is as close to progress on Brexit that this government is going to get.

The gist of Theresa’s speech is that everyone should come together to help Theresa deliver some version of the deal that was so resoundingly rejected just the day before. Plan B is to talk to other parties and other parts of her own party, with the aim of getting them all to agree to Plan A. We’re so glad that Theresa has cleared all that up for us. Hold the front page! The Prime Minister has just come out with the same bollocks that she came out with yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that. And the day before that … We’re living in Groundhog Day without the happy ending.

The Prime Minister’s infamous red lines remain intact. Her determination that only that half of the UK which voted for Brexit needs to be listened to remains intact. Her fixation on immigration and ending freedom of movement remains intact. My husband’s 18 month old niece is currently fixated with videos of The Wheels On The Bus on YouTube. Even she shows greater mental flexibility than Theresa May does. At least the wheels on the wean’s bus are going round and round. Theresa’s are going nowhere. The wean’s going through a phase. With Theresa it’s a way of being.

It seems an eternity ago now, but it really wasn’t that long ago that Theresa May came out of that same door, stood in front of that same podium, and told everyone that she was calling a snap general election in order to get backing for her vision of Brexit from the electorate. The electorate was not impressed with her vision of Brexit and stripped her of her majority. Yet Theresa May continued as though nothing had happened. And here she is, with only a few weeks to go before Brexit day, making the same appeal. She even had the utter gall, the sheer nerve, the complete brass neckery, to repeat the claim that in that general election over 80% of people voted for parties which supported Brexit, trying to claim for herself Labour votes. In Theresaworld everyone who voted Labour supports her now. That’s a consequence that those indy supporters in Scotland who said they’d back the Corbyn project could never have seen coming.

A general election made no difference to Theresa. A vote in the Commons, even a vote as clear and resounding as Monday’s, made not the slightest bit of difference to the government. It’s got to the point where you do have to ask yourself whether the UK remains a representative democracy. Because the only voices being represented here are the ones in Theresa May’s head. Just when you think that she’s been told once and for all that her scheming, her shittery, and her stubborn intransigence won’t wash, there she comes again with a new bucket of soap. She starts off talking about the need to reach out to other parties and other opinions, and then immediately makes her pitch to Brexit supporters.

There’s being stubborn and there’s dangerous self-delusion. It’s now time to ask whether Theresa May’s refusal to engage with reality is pathological. This is a woman whose personal shortcomings are now endangering all of us. Even now, even after all that has happened, she’s still sticking to her red lines and still refusing to rule out a chaotic no deal Brexit. And Jeremy Corbyn is still trying to forestall a second EU referendum. Paralysis is policy.

All we have is chaos. All we have is confusion. All we have is a knot in history that tightens in our stomachs. The safety, security, and stability of the UK. Punching above our weight turns out to be a punch in the head. Safer, faster, better change, off the cliff and into the void. Scotland was told to vote for the sensible choice of the UK. Vote realism, not romanticism, they told us. Scotland listened and found that we got turned to stone in Narnia in the time of the Ice Queen who’s worshipping a unicorn. She’s demanding we join in the Brexit prayer, “We won the war you know. We stood alone we plucky few. They need us more than we need them.”

The ideology of Britishness is a toxic nostalgia that pollutes our airwaves, fills our supermarkets, and tells us that compassion is a crime and empathy is for losers. It has no space in it for a Scotland that’s distinctive in any way. It has no tolerance for a Scotland that seeks a kinder, gentler, way. The old Britain, the Britain of the NHS, of free education, of a social security system that provided a safety net for all, it’s dead now. The lesson of Brexit is that those values can only flourish in an independent Scotland.

Meanwhile a new poll for the Herald has found that 56% of the paper’s readers believe that Scotland should have another independence referendum if Brexit goes ahead. It’s now impossible for opponents of independence to credibly argue that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum, although that won’t stop them trying.

The tide is returning to the sealochs and the firths. The tide is high, the currents running. It’s about to wash away the Ice Queen’s sandcastle with the union fleg in its crumbling turret. It’s time for Scotland to go to the shore and welcome the sea that connects us to the world.

 


 

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.