Oh no EU can’t. Oh yes we can

eumembership

One of the EU’s most senior parliamentarians has said in an interview that the entry of an independent Scotland into the EU should be easy. The German veteran MEP Elmar Brok made the remarks while being interviewed by Alex Salmond on the latter’s show on RT. Since Scotland is, for the time being, a part of the EU by virtue of being a part of the UK, it is already in compliance with all the requirements necessary of an EU member state. That in turn means that should Scotland vote for independence before Brexit Britain has substantially diverged from EU norms and standards, Scotland will be able to rejoin the EU in sharp order, should it so decide.

Elmar Brok now joins Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister and the EU Parliament’s representative on Brexit, who said in June 2018 that it is “a simple fact” that Scotland would face no big obstacles to attaining EU membership. And in 2017 a group of 50 European parliamentarians from across the political spectrum and led by German Green MEP Terry Reintke signed an open letter to the Scottish Parliament in which they stressed that Scotland would be most welcome as an EU member, and offered their full support to ensure that Scottish membership of the EU would be as swift, smooth and orderly as possible.

There is considerable sympathy for Scotland in the EU. Guy Verhofstadt said in 2017 that the EU can’t afford to lose Scotland. It is recognised that Scotland is the most pro-EU part of the UK, and that public opinion in Scotland is very different from that in the rest of the UK. An independent Scotland which was a member of the EU would not be the constant thorn in the flesh of other EU member states that the UK has proven to be, with its constant demands for special treatment.

It is significant that Elmar Brok is a member of the German Christian Democratic Union and is a close political ally of Angela Merkel. The reason that this is important is because the German CDU is one of the most important components of the European People’s Party, the bloc of MEPs in the European Parliament which was most vehement in its opposition to Scottish independence in 2014. This opposition was orchestrated by the Spanish Partido Popular, which is likewise a member of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, and which had sought to build a pan-European opposition to independence movements along with the British Conservatives. Ruth Davidson and other members of the Conservative party took part in talks with Partido Popular representatives to this effect in 2012.

During the independence referendum of 2014, a series of EU politicians were trotted before the British press, all of whom made comments to the effect that Scotland would find it difficult to become a member of the EU in its own right. The majority of these politicians were members of the European People’s Party of which Elmar Brok is a prominent representative. This was a direct result of the behind the scenes machinations of the Spanish Partido Popular and the British Conservatives.

That alliance is how ancient history. The European People’s Party is no longer disposed to do the British any favours. The UK is now a third country as far as the EU is concerned. Spain has had a change of government, and it is now far more interested in ensuring that other EU states support it over Gibraltar than it is in discouraging Scottish independence. Scottish independence is always an issue that Spain had considered manageable, despite the protestations in the British media that Spain sought to veto Scottish EU membership in order to discourage Catalonia.

Indeed, the Spanish government has now made it clear that provided Scotland achieves independence constitutionally and legally, it would have no issues with a Scottish application to join the EU. This was explicitly stated by the current Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell in 2018. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-spain-politics-scotland/spain-would-not-oppose-future-independent-scotland-rejoining-eu-minister-idUKKCN1NP25P He was restating a position which had previously been articulated by Alfonso Dastis in 2017 when he was Foreign Minister in the Partido Popular government which was replaced by the PSOE minority administration in June last year. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/apr/02/spain-drops-plan-to-impose-veto-if-scotland-tries-to-join-eu Both the major Spanish political parties have now stated that they have no objections to Scotland acceding to the EU as an independent state in its own right and that they would not seek to veto Scottish membership.

Just as an aside, the link to Guardian article is entitled “Spain drops plan to impose veto if Scotland tries to join the EU.” This shows how engrained the myth of the Spanish veto had become in the British media. The truth is that there was never any such plan in the first place. A Spanish veto of an independent Scotland which had attained independence legally and constitutionally would destroy the arguments deployed by the Spanish government against the Catalan independence movement. Spain knows that, and so does Catalonia.

Spain’s argument against Catalan independence is that it would be illegal under Spanish law, and that’s why Spain can resist Catalan independence while at the same time claiming to respect the right to self-determination. A veto of an independent Scotland ruins that argument and opens up the Spanish government to Catalan attempts to internationalise their dispute. It’s only the British press which appears ignorant of the reality. Mind you, a lot of the anti-independence trolls in Scottish newspaper comments sections and social media still haven’t caught up with that news, reluctant as they are to let go of one of their favourite threats.

What all this means is that during the next independence vote, opponents of independence are not going to be able to find EU politicians to lecture Scotland against independence. The mood music from the EU is going to be very different. Instead of EU politicians who are warning against independence, it’s going to be comparative easy to find EU politicians who are willing to encourage Scotland.

Naturally the Scotland in Union trolls who infest the comments sections of newspapers were not at all impressed by Elmar Brok’s remarks. They of course know far more about the process of accession to the EU than the EU’s longest serving parliamentarian and one of the most respected members of the European Parliament.

What we see now is a series of spurious arguments as British nationalists desperately try to argue that an EU whose prominent politicians say would welcome Scotland with open arms would in fact reject Scotland. So they tell us that because Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank, we can’t join the EU. This is one of the those anti-independence arguments which on the surface looks terribly serious, but when you scrape off the shiny gloss which has achieved by repeatedly polishing the spittle flecks of dozens of British nationalist zoomers on social media and in the comments sections of newspapers, you discover all the stupid lurking underneath. Of course Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank. Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank for the exact same reason that Scotland doesn’t currently have its own diplomatic service and embassies, its own armed forces, or its own seat at the United Nations. Scotland doesn’t have a Central Bank because we’re not independent yet. Saying that Scotland can’t join the EU because it doesn’t have a Central Bank is like saying that you can’t get a driving licence until you have a car.

In any event possession of a Central Bank is only a requirement for joining the Eurozone, not for joining the EU. The same applies to the argument touted by British nationalists that Scotland’s deficit means that it would be ineligible for EU membership. That one is particularly rich, seeing as how it’s the British government which is responsible for creating Scotland’s deficit.

Meanwhile British politics has been reduced to a parade of government ministers that you’ve never heard of resigning from posts you never knew they held so that they can voice their opposition to a policy that they supported last week. Answers from government ministers in the Commons have been reduced to ministers saying that their job is not to know anything. No wonder the British nationalists of Scotland in Union who infest newspaper comments sections are becoming so desperate. A better future for Scotland is waiting, and they have nothing to offer except negativity, scare stories, and threats that are losing their effect.


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The myth makers of Westminster

moneydownthepan

I wouldn’t normally give the oxygen of publicity to anything published by the extremoyoons of the laughably misnamed A Force For Good. They’re the tiny wee group of far right zoomers who stand at independence rallies and shout abuse at indy supporters while thon guy with the manky shirt preaches with a megaphone. They make Ukip seem like open armed welcomers of all things Islamic.

You can get a good idea of the contents of their website if you imagine a bus full of wasps which is on fire and has been driven into a nursery school attached to a children’s hospital. Only without the zenlike calm which that mental image implies. My attention was drawn recently to an article which makes even the batshit zoomery which is the baseline state for this grupiscule seem like a sedate outing in scientific reasonableness. The claim that the union is really 5000 years old.

The basis of this claim is that Neil Oliver said so on the BBC, so it must be holy writ. More exactly the extremoyoons are getting confused between cultural areas and political unions. Back in the Neolithic, a megalith culture spread across the British Isles, seemingly having its centre in Orkney. What A Force For Good don’t mention is that this culture also spread beyond the British Isles to France. Later on in the Iron Age, the British Isles were a part of a common Celtic culture and language area that stretched across Europe from Ireland and Scotland to the Balkans and Turkey. Funnily enough A Force For Good are not arguing that this means we need to remain a political union with the EU. I wonder why.

Culture areas are not political unions. They don’t even provide evidence that all the areas which participated in the culture area belong people speaking the same language or possessing the same ethnic identity. One of the most clearly defined culture areas in aboriginal North America was in the Pacific North West. All the inhabitants of this area participated in a unique culture distinguished by totem poles, the potlatch ceremony, religious beliefs centring on a raven god, and had similar maritime based economies. They were all closely linked by ties of trade and exchange. However the area was also home to dozens of different languages, and dozens of different tribal groups which fought and warred constantly with one another. There’s no reason to believe that the British Isles during the neolithic era were any different.

What this illustrates is that opponents of independence base many of their claims in romanticised myths. Yet that’s precisely what they accuse independence supporters of. Myth-making is the foundation stone of anti-independence arguments. The biggest myth of all perhaps, and one that is deeply beloved of British nationalists, is the myth that Scotland is financially dependent upon the UK.

The real nature of this so-called financial dependence has been revealed by the McCrone Report, which has just been published by The National newspaper. The report has been available online for a while, but this is the first time that it’s been published in print in a Scottish newspaper. Until now, the Scottish press have preferred to pretend that the McCrone Report didn’t happen. That’s because the report reveals that this isn’t a union of equal partners, it’s a hostage situation. The purpose of this supposed union is to keep Scotland poor and dependent. It’s to ensure that Scotland remains a reservoir of natural resources and skilled labour for the rest of the UK.

The Herald, you know that ahem ‘neutral’ newspaper, responded by publishing a short statement by Gavin McCrone himself. The report’s author says that the report was never hushed up, as it was a confidential report for ministers which was never intended to be published in the first place. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty much like the definition of hushed up to me. Whether the report was hushed up, or was always intended to be confidential is semantic nitpicking and makes no material difference. Information about the true state of the Scottish economy which could have had a substantial impact on the debate about independence was still kept a secret from the people of Scotland by the British establishment. Yet again, supporters of the British state have to resort to sophistry.

However the point here is that those government ministers for whom the report was intended continued to tell Scotland that it was a subsidy junkie which couldn’t afford independence, and continued to minimise the economic potential of the oil to Scotland, and still minimise the contribution that Scotland has made to the UK’s finances, despite knowing that over the course of the past 45 years Scotland has been a net subsidiser of the UK. That’s the point. The issue here is not what Mr McCrone thought was supposed to happen with his report, the issue is what successive British governments did with the information that it contained. They kept it from the people of Scotland who pay their wages in order to ensure that the people of Scotland kept paying their wages.

Neither is the issue that we should be trying to move away from the exploitation of fossil fuels because of the environment and climate change. Of course we should. Nor is the issue that circumstances have changed and therefore the report is a less relevant assessment of Scotland’s economic potential today than it was when it was written. Well duh. Of course. Way to go to point out the obvious there guys. Absolutely no one is arguing that the McCrone Report remains an up to date assessment of Scotland’s economic potential in 2019. That is not and was never the point.

The point is that Westminster flushed Scotland’s wealth down the toilet of the City of London, and they are now telling us that we’re too poor to leave them. They’ve impoverished Scotland, yet insist that we need to trust them with our finances and economy. It’s like having a partner who spends your inheritance on drink and gambling, who brings you to financial ruin while he drives about in an expensive car which he won’t let you have the keys to, and then he tells you that because he’s spent all your money that you’re too poor to leave him.

The point is one of trust, or rather the lack of it. If the British government is prepared to lie to us to the extent revealed by the McCrone Report, if it is prepared to keep the truth from us in order to prevent the people of Scotland making an informed decision about their future, then it’s legitimate to ask what other information the British government is withholding from us right now. We have a government in Westminster which patently does not trust the people of Scotland, as evidenced by the fact that it has been proven to keep vital and relevant information from us about the economic potential of Scotland. Therefore the question raised by the McCrone Report is why should the people of Scotland trust the British government? Why should we believe a government which has repeatedly lied to us and which has been proven to lie. What proof do we have that they have changed? The answer to that last question is none.

Unions imply equality, trust, and good faith. There is precious little of that in Westminster’s dealings with Scotland. The real point is that this is a so-called union that is based upon lies, myths, and deception, and as such it is no union at all. In that respect the myth-makers of Westminster have more in common with the zooming extremists of A Force For Good than they’d care to admit. When what Westminster tells us doesn’t add up, it’s time for Scotland to subtract itself.

 


 

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The National publishes the McCrone Report

nationalfrontpage27feb2019Today, in a historic first, The National publishes the McCrone Report, the secret British government report into Scotland’s oil wealth. Kept hidden from the Scottish public for 45 years, the report demonstrates that had Scotland voted for independence during the 1970s, this country would now be sitting on a sovereign wealth fund of trillions. Scotland would not be facing austerity. Our public services would be well funded, and our infrastructure would be world class.  We would not currently be staring into the Brexit abyss, wondering whether we’ll still have an NHS in ten years time.

Instead of providing a bonanza for Scotland, Scotland’s wealth was squandered by successive British governments on tax cuts for the rich, and on social security payments for the hundreds of thousands who were made unemployed as a direct result of Margaret Thatcher’s decade and a half of vindictiveness.  And all the while, even in the 1980s, British politicians told us that the oil was running out.  Under Westminster rule, Scotland is the only country in the world which discovered oil and then became poorer.

The McCrone Report is a shameful episode which illustrates the deceptions to which British governments will descend in order to maintain Scotland firmly within the UK.  The report was kept quiet in order to dampen down claims arising within Scotland for self-government or even independence.  The McCrone Report demonstrates that the British government is so keen to keep hold of Scotland because it allows Westminster to use Scotland’s wealth in order to benefit the British establishment, and not the people of Scotland.

The McCrone Report shows that Westminster does not now and never had the interests of Scotland at heart.  As such it is essential reading both for everyone who supports independence, but more importantly for those who are unsure.  And even more importantly, it leads us to wonder what other dirty little secrets Westminster is hiding from the people of Scotland.

The McCrone Report and the way it was hidden from the people of Scotland for so long proves that we are ruled by a Westminster establishment which doesn’t trust us, and which holds us in contempt. This is not a partnership of nations, it’s a con job.

Buy an extra copy of The National tomorrow, and give one to your friends who are soft no or who are uncertain about independence.  It will show them that we’re governed by a UK that doesn’t have our interests at heart.  It demonstrates that we need independence in order to have governments which are directly accountable to the people of Scotland.  Then we can vote them out of office if they deceive us.


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The secretary of state for temper tantrums

mundellvision
Yesterday I wrote a blog article in which I compared David Mundell, the Scotland Secretary, to a union fleg branded supermarket bag, flapping uselessly in the branches of a tree. I would like to say now that this remark was unwarranted and utterly uncalled for. Plastic bags do have a useful purpose.

It is being reported today that the Fluffy one disassociated himself from a group of rebel cabinet ministers who had threatened to resign if Theresa May does not take a no deal Brexit off the table. The reason he did so wasn’t because he thinks a no deal Brexit wouldn’t damage Scotland that much after all, it’s because he didn’t want to give the SNP an “easy win”. So there you have it. It’s far more important to the Scotland Secretary that he avoids doing anything that might assist the SNP than it is to stand up for Scottish interests.

It is universally agreed by everyone in Scottish politics who isn’t Ross Thomson that a no deal Brexit would be a disaster for the Scottish economy. It threatens to double unemployment and Scotland will be mopping up the consequences for years to come. You might think then that avoiding such a calamity would be the top priority for every Scottish politician who has the slightest degree of intellectual or emotional maturity. So again, not Ross Thomson then. But sadly, you’d be ignoring the kneejerk tribalism of David Mundell, who like his boss puts the interests of the Conservative party above the interests of the country he purports to represent.

David is not going to threaten resignation, because for weeks now the SNP, and independence supporters in general, have taken to referring to him as David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet. That’s because both he and Ruth Davidson threatened to resign if Northern Ireland was to be treated differently in any Brexit deal from the rest of the UK. That’s what Theresa May’s deal is proposing, yet neither David nor Ruth has resigned.

So if David did indeed threaten to resign now in order to press the Prime Minister to take a disastrous no deal Brexit off the table, and then he actually followed through, he’d give the SNP that easy win the avoidance of which is his overriding political imperative. Because then the SNP would have the satisfaction of seeing him resign. There is some sort of a logic there. It’s the logic you’ll find amongst five year olds on the school playground. The truth is that the SNP would rather see him remain in office, because he’s totally useless at his job and is a walking advert for Scottish independence. The only person who thinks that David Mundell is effective at his job is David Mundell.

Heaven forfend that the Scotland Secretary might think that the best way to stand up against the SNP was by demonstrating that there is a strong and confident voice for Scotland within the UK. After all, if there was a way in which Scotland’s needs and concerns could be aired and responded to at the highest levels of the British government, if the British government could be seen to be forced into taking Scotland’s needs into account, then there wouldn’t be so much support for the SNP. If David Mundell had set out after the 2014 to ensure that all the promises and commitments made by the Better Together campaign of which he was a part had actually been honoured, then the SNP would be a whole lot weaker than it currently is. Because what really drives the Scottish independence movement is the unwillingness or inability of British politicians to hold Westminster to account for the promises it makes to the people of Scotland.

However the actions of David Mundell and his Scottish Conservative, and Labour and Lib Dem, colleagues in Better Together demonstrate that the most important consideration for British nationalist politicians is to keep Scotland within the UK. If that means damaging Scotland or harming Scotland’s interests, that’s something that they can live with. If that means ensuring that Scotland is silenced, that’s a price they are willing to pay. Fundamentally, the role of David Mundell is not to speak for Scotland in the British government, it’s to speak for the British government in Scotland. It’s important that we call him out for that.

It’s being reported in the British press that Mundell didn’t want to resign because he says that there’s a group of 35 SNP MPs who are actively working for no deal. Clearly, he’s not been paying attention. The SNP – and to be fair the Lib Dems and the Greens – have consistently opposed Brexit from the outset. The Scottish Government has produced a detailed plan which sought to minimise the ill effects of Brexit on the Scottish economy. It is simply incorrect to say that the SNP want a no deal Brexit. The SNP, like most people in Scotland, doesn’t want Brexit at all. There is no such thing as a good Brexit for Scotland, or for any other part of the UK. The arguments for an independent Scotland are easiest to make within the context of a UK which remains a part of the EU, or a UK which has a good deal with the EU. Despite the constant claims to the contrary from anti-independence politicians and the media, the SNP doesn’t hate English people, and it certainly doesn’t wish a no deal Brexit on the rest of the UK out of any animus towards the English.

But David is now saying that he’s not going to stand up to a Prime Minister who risking a no deal Brexit, because he doesn’t want to help an SNP which he claims is working for a no deal Brexit. Even by the standards of the five year olds who inhabit the yah boo sucks Scottish Conservative playground, that makes no sense at all. There’s British statesmanship for you. There’s punching above our weight. That’s exactly the kind of political immaturity and self-defeatism which has led to the UK losing what remains of its international standing and being reduced to a laughing stock, not just within the EU, but around the world.


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The flapping plastic bags of Britishness

flappingmundell

It’s been reported over the weekend that three Conservative cabinet ministers have warned Theresa May that they are planning to support an amendment to delay Brexit and take a no deal Brexit off the table. The former Conservative cabinet minister Michael Heseltine, one of the grandest of the party’s grandees, also spoke out to say that cabinet resignations are likely unless MPs are allowed to block the most catastrophic aspects of Brexit and the Prime Minister ceases her dance of death with the zealots of the European Research Group and the DUP.

The three cabinet ministers who spoke out in an article in Daily Mail,what Amber Rudd, the work and pensions secretary, David Gauke, the justice minister, and the business secretary, Greg Clark, warned of the damage and chaos that would be produced by a no deal Brexit, and stated that it would wreck the UK’s economy and put national security at risk. The three are insisting that the Prime Minister allows cabinet ministers a free vote on an amendment due to be voted on in the House of Commons on Wednesday and have said that if the Prime Minister doesn’t do so then they will resign. Put forward by another former Conservative cabinet minister Oliver Letwin, most famous for leaving his cabinet briefing papers in a public bin, and Labour’s Yvette Cooper, the amendment would oblige the British government to ask the EU to delay Brexit unless a deal has been passed by the Commons by the middle of March.

Under normal rules, cabinet ministers are obliged to vote with the government. But these are not normal times, and this is a government which has hitherto shown very little respect for normal rules. If normal rules were respected, the Prime Minister would have already resigned when her flagship policy went down to the greatest defeat in parliamentary history. But this isn’t a normal Prime Minister. This is a Prime Minister who has the listening skills of a rock and the interpersonal skills of the speaking clock. Even now, she’s still refusing to change course and refusing to acknowledge any need to alter her plans.

On Sunday, faced with yet another humiliating defeat in the Commons and an EU which is steadfastly refusing to budge, Theresa May yet again displayed her lack of respect for normal rules and announced that she was postponing the meaningful vote planned for this week until March 12, just two weeks before the UK is due to leave the EU. The move has tensions amongst cabinet ministers and Conservative backbenchers even further. She’s a minority PM behaving like a dictator, playing a game of chicken with the entire economy, with the personal lives of millions of people, and the future of the UK. Only a person without the slightest concern about the effects of her actions on other people could pursue such a path. Theresa May makes Margaret Thatcher seem humane, compassionate, and understanding.

Other than being Tories who are speaking out against the calamity of a no deal Brexit, what Amber Rudd, David Gauke, and Greg Clark all have in common is that none of them is David Mundell. Even amongst the no marks of the Conservative cabinet David Mundell fails to make an impression. He’s the political nobody’s nobody. The Scotland Secretary is the living embodiment of a shredded plastic supermarket bag with union flag branding, flapping aimlessly in the breeze in the branches of a tree, signalling nothing but its own uselessness. At least you notice that the bag is present and it impinges upon your consciousness, which is considerably more than can be said for David Mundell.

When you have a cabinet where collective responsibility has broken down and a party which is at war with itself that is precisely the time that any politician who has an ounce of moral fibre should be standing up for her or his constituents and personal beliefs. Yet from a Scottish perspective, what has been most noticeable about the power plays, staking out of red lines, cabinet splits, and internal battles which characterise the Conservative party is the silence and passivity of Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservative™ MPs. That’s those MPs who we were told were going to vote as a bloc to protect and defend Scotland’s interests within this so-called union.

You might think that amidst all these power plays, that Scottish Conservative MPs might seize the opportunity to make their own mark on Brexit and in the process demonstrate to the electorate of Scotland that they are indeed an effective voice for Scotland within the UK. But instead the closest thing we’ve got from any of them to a distinct political manifesto is Ross Thomson’s denial that he did anything wrong when he allegedly mistook a man’s crotch for an item of furniture.

It is striking that even when party discipline has all but collapsed, when cabinet ministers feel free to brief against one in the press and openly defy the Prime Minister, that none of those Scottish Conservative MPs is speaking out against a hard Brexit and defending the interests of their majority remain voting constituents – never mind a Scotland which voted to remain by a considerably larger majority than it voted against independence. The fact that even when there are going to be few political consequences against them within their own party for speaking out, yet they still don’t speak out, is indeed a testament to their character. It’s just not a good testament.

You might think that that Scottish anti-independence media which was so keen to big up Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives™ in the first place might now be holding those silent and complicit Conservative MPs to account. But then if you think that you probably also think that the BBC Question Time audience was a fair and balanced representation of the people of Motherwell. When this period of Scottish history is written about in future decades, the failure of anti-independence MPs and the anti-independence media to speak up for Scotland and defend Scotland’s interests within the UK will be cited as one of the most important reasons which led to Scottish independence. Even on their own terms they are failing Scotland. It’s not just David Mundell who’s a union flag branded plastic bag caught in a tree.

Scotland will become an independent nation because the British state and its institutions have proven themselves incapable of responding to Scotland’s needs, views, and concerns.


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A shit argument for Brexit

I wrote a blog article last night which was published in the wee smaa hours. Then this afternoon I published the weekly dugcast. So I had reckoned I’d done enough for one day to keep readers of this blog amused. But then I came across Giles Fraser’s apologia for Brexit and ending freedom of movement on the digital site Unherd, and now I’m fuming.

https://unherd.com/2019/02/why-wont-remainers-talk-about-family/

I’ve not been this angry since Magrit Curran was my MP. First off, a word of caution. Please don’t read on while eating. This blog deals with some unpleasant realities about the human body.

Essentially, Giles’ argument about why ending freedom of movement is a good thing boils down to this. When you’re old and incontinent, it means that your kids can wipe your arse for you instead of some social services worker from the EU, and that’s great for family cohesion. We can all bond as a family over soiled toilet paper.

It’s telling that Giles in his piece felt it was the role of a daughter to wipe her father’s arse. Not a son. Those antiquated gender roles are symptomatic of the regressive nostalgia that characterises the entire Brexit process. Asinine and insensitive doesn’t begin to describe it. I don’t know if Giles has ever been put in the situation of having to wipe the arse of a loved one, other than a small infant. Judging from the tone of his facile article, I’m guessing not.

Well I have. My late partner suffered from dementia, and as his illness progressed he lost control of both his bladder and his bowels. It was a deeply distressing experience for both of us. It’s difficult to reassure your loved one, a once proud and self-sufficient man who is already upset because he has soiled himself, that you’re going to be there for him and are not judging him when you are in fact gagging and vomiting because of the smell. It’s difficult to maintain the dignity of a loved one who is in the advanced stages of a terminal illness when you have to strip off their underclothes and wipe their arse. It’s hard to calm down a crying relative and reassure them that they’re not being a bother when you’ve got their shit all over your hands. You’re not doing much bonding, except with the tears, and the disinfectant, bleach, and the lingering terrible smell. And then wash, rinse, repeat. You’re doing exactly the same the next day.

As someone who has stood crying as I scraped shit off the bedsheets, as someone who has woken up in the marital bed in a wet patch of someone else’s urine, as someone who has literally vomited as I realised that my clothes were stained and smeared with someone else’s shit, I can assure Giles that this was not a bonding experience. There was nothing positive about it. It distressed my late partner immensely. It distressed me. It is not an experience that anyone who has gone through it would ever for a second consider wishing on others. It is not something that anyone who has lived through would ever for an instant regard as a positive learning experience that others should undergo. To put this forward as an argument for Brexit is crass beyond belief. It’s scraping the bottom of an already shitty barrel.

Eventually my partner and I started getting social care services. Social care services which are free in Scotland thanks to a Scottish government which doesn’t prioritise profit over humanity. Those angels took over, at least partially, the tasks of undressing, cleaning, and re-dressing my late partner. That was a huge relief to him. He found it a lot easier, mentally and emotionally, to accept that sort of care from a person in a health worker’s uniform whose job it was than to accept it from me. It distressed him far less. It allowed him to maintain what dignity he could, what little dignity that his illness hadn’t stripped away from him. It helped him to come to terms with his declining health in a way that he wouldn’t had he relied solely upon me to do those intensely personal tasks for him. And if it was difficult enough for a spouse to accept that kind of assistance from their partner, it must be far more difficult for a parent to accept it from their adult child. Clearly, none of this has occurred to Giles, because he’s never walked in our shit stained shoes.

The broader point Giles was trying to make, the one I am struggling to get to through the crap, is that freedom of movement breaks down families because it makes it easier for people to move away. There was of course not the slightest recognition in his piece that ending freedom of movement breaks up families. Neither was there any awareness that the Brexit fetishisation of tackling immigration has led to thousands of children being separated from a parent, many thousands of spouses separated from their significant other, countless grandparents separated from their grandchildren.

But no, in Brexitland we can all be stuck in the towns and villages of our birth, trapped by a lack of opportunities and the newly valueless nature of a British passport. And then we’ll be able to wipe our parents’ backsides when they become frail and incontinent because the arse has been ripped out of social care services by the very same right wing politicians who are so keen to foist the hardest possible Brexit upon us.

Brexit supporters once promised us the sunlit uplands. They promised shedloads of cash for the NHS. Now they’re reduced to making the argument that suffering is good for us, that we should be nostalgic for antiquated gender roles, and telling us to restrict our horizons and not to dare to dream of spreading our wings and flying.  Now they’re reduced to sophistry and telling us that Brexit is good for you because you too can get to wipe the arse of an infirm relative. Giles’ article is quite literally and in every sense of the word, the shittiest of arguments for the shitshow of Brexit.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast, Friday 22 Feb

In this week’s dugcast, Callum Baird (editor of The National) and I discuss the BBC and its audience selections, the report of the Dug’s death being somewhat exaggerated, sectarianism in Scotland and its roots in British nationalism, and the defections from Labour and the Tories at Westminster and how the new grouping is going to get far more invites to appear on Question Time than the SNP will.

 


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.