The fork in the road

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The SNP’s Joanna Cherry was told by a pro-Brexit protester that she was a traitor and that she should go back to her own country. I’m quite sure that Joanna would be more than happy to return to Scotland, however the issue here is that until Scotland achieves independence, Westminster rule, Brexit, and a government headed by whatever careerist climbs to the top of the Tory greasy pole, will only follow her, bringing all the myriad problems and neuroses of the British state with them to visit upon Scotland too.

The government is close to collapse. The sclerotic British political system is deadlocked and in crisis, and there’s no clear route out of a mess that’s been created because the features of the British state which were once seen as the strengths of British democracy have now turned into its greatest weaknesses. A first past the post electoral system no longer produces strong governments, it produces weak governments who presume to absolute power on the basis of a minority of votes. The unwritten constitution is no longer a source of flexibility, but rather an excuse for a mendacious government to make up rules to suit itself. The two party system has become a recipe for majoritarianism where each of the two major parties is more interested in gaining its own turn at absolute power than it is in seeking to build consensus, and short term party interest becomes the only important political consideration. And Scotland is a powerless victim of the malignancies of English nationalism.

All this is happening, and yet the Conservative party’s leadership is far more concerned with an impending leadership contest as the only way of keeping their fractious and inept party of inadequates together. The challengers for the Conservative leadership, and it’s a very long and tedious list, are without exception a feeble bunch of lying, duplicitous chancers. And those are their good qualities. You’ll find more intellectual heft and human kindness in the stale crumbs left at the bottom of a family sized bucket of chicken from KFC the afternoon after the party the night before.

Not one of them has an answer to the many difficulties and issues facing the British state. They don’t want answers to those questions, because it’s only due to the weaknesses of the British state that they have the opportunity of taking the leadership and wielding the absolute power of their predecessor. So we have a series of mediocrities as Prime Minister, each one vying for the title of Worst Prime Minister Ever. It’s not a bug that British rule produces the leadership of the mediocre. It’s a feature.

Take, as an example, the freestyle musings of minor Conservative minister, Jake Berry. No, I’ve no idea either, but apparently he’s the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse. Which is a real government thing which doesn’t actually refer to a rickety nuclear power station in Cumbria. Anyway, Jake thinks that the way to unite the whole of the UK after the traumas of the Brexit that’s not happened yet is to commission a new royal yacht which he’d like to call the Brexitannia. Which would be the first time that a ship has ever hit an iceberg and gone to the bottom of the ocean before it’s even got off the drawing board.

Let’s make sure that we get something clear though, before the Tories start their leadership contest, and try to change the narrative to something more beneficial to themselves. Brexit is their fault. Useless and ideologically hidebound as Jeremy Corbyn is, swithering and equivocating as he is, as mediocre as any Tory leadership candidate as he is, being as useful as a defence against Brexit as a shred of wet toilet paper protects you from a rainstorm as he is, Brexit is not his fault.

Brexit is not the fault of the Lib Dems, even though their desire for a second referendum on the EU issue but their refusal to countenance one for Scotland is as hypocritical as anything you’ll find in the Conservative cabinet.

Brexit is not the fault of the SNP, who have consistently argued against Brexit from the start, and who have proposed policies to mitigate Brexit’s effects which have been ignored by Westminster. This is not the fault of the Greens. It is not the fault of Plaid Cymru. This is most certainly not the fault of the EU, who have been clear about what they will and will not accept from the very beginning.

This mess is the fault of the Conservative party which panders to the Brexcrementalists of Ukip, and it’s particularly the fault of those who hold prominent positions within that Conservative party. They own this shitshow, and no one else. They’ve trashed the UK, they’ve trashed their so-called precious union, and they’ll go on to trash our lives, livelihoods, jobs, and prospects in pursuit of the mythical exceptionalism of the vainglorious English nationalism that wraps itself in a union fleg and calls itself British.

So when you’ve lost your job and your home thanks to the chaos of the Conservatives’ Brexit, and you’re sleeping in a rolled up bit of mouldy carpet next to a burnt out branch of Lidl that was thoroughly looted in the Brextastrophe, you can still rest easy and bask in the warmth of the knowledge that the Tories managed to maintain party cohesion. Thank the gods that they are putting our interests first, eh. Luckily Jacob Rees Mogg’s company had the foresight to buy up all the stock market futures in mouldy bits of carpet and those used cardboard cups from Costas that you need for effective begging.

It’s only going to get worse. Whoever takes over as Conservative leader from Theresa May will only do so by appealing to a Conservative party membership that has been heavily infiltrated by former Ukip members. That’s who will lead the next stage of negotiations with the EU, and they’ll pursue the neo-conservative wet dream of a privatised state. There is a very real prospect of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And who is his sole supporter amongst Scottish Tory MPs? Who is the sole Scottish Conservative that he can trust? Who is the most likely candidate for Scottish Secretary of State in a Boris Johnson government? That would be Ross Thomson. And you thought things were bad now.

Britain is broken. It’s been broken by its own establishment, by those who claim to love it, by those who seek to lead it. Britain is broken because it has long since turned into a vehicle for personal ambitions and personal enrichment. It would be good if it could be fixed, because it’s not in Scotland’s interests to have a binfire basketcase as a next door neighbour, but we must concentrate on getting ourselves out of this calamity that has been inflicted upon us because as a nation we were too lacking in self-confidence to make our own way in the world. It’s time to reject the banging drums of sectarianism that will only beat louder in Brexit Britain. It’s time to make a moral stand. It’s time to say that we as a nation can be better than this. It’s time to find our voice, and to use it.

An independent Scotland will not be a paradise. It will not lead to the immediate solution for all the ills that beset us. But at least we’d be responsible for our own mess, and have the tools at our disposal to clear it up, and the means to hold to account those who had caused it. It’s time to find some backbone and stand up and become the agents of our own destiny. Otherwise we’ll descend into irrelevance as an impoverished and ignored province of North Britain. We’re standing at a fork in history. Choose the right path. It’s a future as Brexit Britain’s Jockoland Theme Park, a tartan ribbon to allow English nationalists to pretend they’re not nationalist at all while Scotland is traduced, ignored, sidelined, and pauperised, or we can choose independence and self respect.


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An open letter to Brexiteers from Scotland

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Usually, this blog is written for a readership of Scottish independence supporters, a majority of whom support Scotland remaining within the EU, just as a majority of Scotland’s voters as a whole supported remaining within the EU. This article is different. It’s intended as an open letter to those, both within Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, who voted to leave the EU. The argument made in this article is not a intened as a warning, it’s not meant as a threat. It’s simply a statement of the consequences of what you voted for if you voted for the UK to leave the EU. You’ve also voted to end the United Kingdom.

Those of us in Scotland who voted remain, which is a large majority of the electorate, often hear leavers tell us that the UK voted as one country and so it shall leave as one country. That’s your problem right there. The UK is not one country. It consists of three countries and part of another. The UK is, as we’re always being told by Theresa May and other British nationalists, a precious union. It consists of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. We’re not seeing much evidence of any awareness of that reality from those who are forcing Brexit upon Scotland.

One of those countries, Scotland, had an independence referendum in 2014 and voted to stay a part of the UK. But we didn’t vote against independence unconditionally. Scotland voted against independence because promises and commitments were made to Scotland by those proponents of the British state who campaigned to keep Scotland a part of the UK. We were promised that we’d be an equal partner in a family of nations. We were promised that we’d have stronger and better devolution. We were promised that Scotland would be respected. We were promised that the only way to ensure the stability of our democratic structures was to remain a part of the UK. We were promised that EU membership was only a possibility if we remained a part of the UK. Every single one of those promises and commitments lies broken and bleeding on the floor of the House of Commons.

Today, on What Would Have Been Brexit Day But Isn’t, as I watched the pro-Brexit protesters outside Westminster talking about their feelings of betrayal, about how the political class had let them down, about their loss of faith in British democracy, all I could think of was “Welcome to our world”. Because all the ills that you claim the EU inflicts on the UK, the UK has inflicted on Scotland, only ten times worse. You didn’t need to ask the EU for permission to have the referendum, yet Scotland is told it needs permission even to ask itself the question.

In Scotland, the majority of people look on the shambles of Brexit with horror, revulsion, and with growing anger. We hear plenty of talk of respecting the will of the 17.4 million. We hear nothing at all about respecting the views of a Scotland that voted to remain and which voted to remain in the EU by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Scotland is only in this situation to begin with because in the independence referendum campaign of 2014 those who are driving Brexit promised the people of Scotland that they’d listen to us and respect us.

Brexit supporters talk a lot about respecting the will of the people, about how angered they are that politicians in Westminster are not listening to them and not fulfilling the promises they made. Your pleas and cries might have more understanding in Scotland if you had expressed similar outrage when the promises made to Scotland were so casually tossed aside. But you didn’t. The way in which the promises made to Scotland were traduced and contemptuously dismissed by the Conservative party passed unremarked amongst the great majority of Brexit’s supporters. The original project fear was the project fear that Scotland was subjected to in 2014, yet you sat in silence. So you will forgive us if our sympathy for your plight is limited.

Brexit has taught us in Scotland that we get what England votes for. It has taught us that in the eyes of the British establishment, the claim that this is a precious union is a hollow hypocrisy. It has exposed the so called union as a myth. Yet we have seen how that supposedly evil EU, that so-called monolithic bloc, has respected and listened to the concerns of Ireland. There is a nation in these islands which is an equal partner in a family of nations. But it’s not Scotland.

The scales have fallen from the eyes of many people in Scotland who voted against independence in 2014. A series of opinion polls have shown that a majority of the Scottish electorate believe that independence would be better than any form of Brexit. An opinion poll published just today has shown that amongst those undecided on the Scottish constitutional question, Brexit has caused 63% to believe that Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely, and 45% say that Brexit has changed their view on Scottish independence. The United Kingdom was already hanging on a shoogly peg. The shock of Brexit will make it fall.

One way or another, Scotland will have its say on its future. Realistically, if Scotland can only be kept in the UK because a British prime minister with little support in Scotland refuses to allow Scotland to have a vote, then the UK is already dead. However contrary to what you read in the British press, Scotland does not require the permission of a British prime minister in order to ask itself a question about its future. The legality of a consultative referendum under the auspices of Holyrood is yet to be tested in the courts. Remember that the EU referendum which you set such store by was itself a consultative referendum. And there is absolutely nothing to prevent Scotland’s political parties turning the next set of elections in Scotland into an effective referendum on Scotland’s future. We will have our say.

Do not stand in Scotland’s way. Do not force us to participate in your British nationalism. Otherwise you will yourselves to be acting exactly like that EU you claim to despise so much, imposing your will on another country and revealing Brexit as an epic exercise in hypocrisy.

So, to you British nationalists out there, you proponents of Brexit, you Brexiteers, you no-deal advocates, you leavers, I’ll leave you with this: you can have your Brexit, or you can have your United Kingdom. You can’t have both.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast – 29 March 2019

Welcome to the So It’s Not Brexit Day After All edition of the Wee Ginger Dugcast, in which Callum and I discuss Brexit, Theresa May falling on her sword and missing, Orange Flute Bands outside Westminster, the strange case of Ross Thomson, what comes next, the implications for Scotland, and much more besides.


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The dreadful prospect

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Theresa May has, finally, told us that she’s going. Well sort of. She’s told Tory MPs that she’s going to go if her deal gets passed by the Commons, although that wish of hers remains as elusive as her reputation for human warmth and conviviality. Some of the Jacob Rees Mogg fanboys and girls have reluctantly decided to back her because they fear any sort of Brexit is slipping from their grasp. Jacob Rees Mogg said he’d back the deal if the DUP either backed it or abstained. But the DUP are still not keen and have let it be known that they’d prefer a long delay to Theresa May’s deal, they’re going to vote against. Others in the ERG remain as impacably opposed as ever. Steve Baker told a meeting of the ERG that he’d prefer to see the Palace of Westminster bulldozed into the Thames. So much for restoring the sovereignty of the British parliament.

Meanwhile any attempt by the Prime Minister to bring her deal to yet another vote depends on the Speaker, who is still blocking any attempt to bring about a third meaningless meaningful vote unless there is a substantial change to the offer presented to Parliament. There’s no such change in the offing, certainly not from a Prime Minister as bereft of influence and imagination as the dead career of the woman who currently occupies Number 10. She changes her mind constantly while claiming nothing has changed, yet she’s consistent in her refusal to allow the electorate to change its mind. She says another vote would destroy the public’s faith in British democracy. That ship has already sailed, hit the iceberg, and is now dead and lifeless on the ocean floor.

So Theresa May has promised to go, but she’s going to remain in place. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. What we do have is an assurance from a woman whose word counts for nothing that she will not lead the next stage of the Brexit process, the negotiations between the UK and the EU on the future relationship. She’s surrendering that to her successor, who is likely to come from the hard right Brexcrementalist wing of the party.

Theresa May came to power in the wake of the Brexit decision and promised to listen. She promised to fight against injustice. She promised a bold new confident role for the UK in the world. She promised to cherish and respect her precious precious union. She has failed on every measure. There has been no Prime Minister in living memory whose failures have been so conclusive, so overwhelming, so total. She combines the self-righteousness and lack of compassion of Margaret Thatcher with the emotional intelligence of a block of wood.

Foodbanks spread across the UK, trying to put a plaster on the gaping wounds of a social security system that is no longer social and no longer secure. The rich continue to get richer while working people struggle and the poor and disadvantaged remained marginalised. Hedge fund managers sprout while working people wither. Instead of a bold and confident new UK we have the humiliation of becoming the laughing stock of Europe and have a political class who are consumed by party interest and whose contempt for the electorate is inversely proportional to the number of times that they mention respecting the result of the EU referendum. We have a political system which is unfit for purpose, sclerotic, self-serving, and which congralutates itself on being the mother of parliaments while it condemns mothers and their children to poverty and social exclusion.

Worst of all, Theresa May has done absolutely nothing about the frustrations, the inequalities, the anger and the alienation which produced the Brexit vote in the first place. Her so-called precious union has been revealed as a comforting myth told by British nationalists who cover themselves in the fig leaf of a Union flag in order to pretend to themselves that they’re not nationalists at all. At every turn she ignored the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, she used Brexit as an excuse to undermine the devolution settlement. Brexit has revealed the truth that there is nothing in this supposed union to protect the other nations of the UK from the baneful effects of English nationalism, and so the UK is not a union at all.

The one principle that Theresa May has consistently put before all others is her desire to keep her party together. Everything else, the fate of the UK, the economy, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU, all of it has been sacrificed on the altar of the tinpot gods of the European Research Group in an effort to propiciate the unpropiciable and keep the warring factions of the Conservatives together. Yet Theresa May hasn’t even succeeded in doing that.

The promise to step down came as the Government lost control of Parliament and MPs took charge of business in order to vote on a series of indicative votes. The result of which Theresa May has already signalled that she may not respect.

The results were delayed until Parliament’s staff could sort through the various options selected by MPs and ensure an accurate count. The Speaker John Bercow announced that he’d suspend the sitting until the results were ready, and left the chamber. Then various Conservative MPs objected because the mace remained in place which usually means that the sitting is still on-going, and tried to raise points of order to an empty chair. Now they know how the rest of the country feels trying to get Theresa May to listen.

When the results came in, MPs voted against everything. It was like that line from Bohemian Rhapsody. No. No. No. No. No. No. Mama mia. There is no agreement in the House of Commons except for the agreement that no one can agree. The one small consolation was that the proposal to leave with no deal was rejected by the largest margin.

Ross Thomson voted against every motion except that one, and the motion to call on the government to seek preferential trade agreements with the EU. He was the only Scottish MP to vote for no deal. Way to go to protect the interests of your remain voting constituency there Ross. 68% of voters in Aberdeen South voted to remain. That vote is going to figure prominently in the next election in Aberdeen South. We’ll make sure of it.

Three of his Scottish Conservative colleagues abstained. The MP for Angus (52% remain) Kirstene Hair, and her colleagues Douglas Ross of Moray (50% remain) and John Lamont of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Remain 57%) all abstained on a no deal. Thanks for your support in protecting your constituents’ interests guys.

David Mundell abstained on all the options, as government ministers didn’t vote. Falkirk’s MP, the SNP’s John McNally, was absent due to a family bereavement.

Every one of the eight different options put before the Commons was rejected. But it was worth noting that two of the options, the proposal to agree to Theresa May’s deal subject to a confirmatory referendum with remain as an option, and Kenneth Clark’s proposal for a customs union, got more votes than Theresa May’s deal did. The proposal for a confirmatory referendum was rejected by 27 votes. 27 Labour MPs voted against it.

The UK continues its stagger into the unknown. There’s no plan, no direction, only the certainty that whoever succeeds Theresa May will be every bit as bad for Scotland. We’re facing the very real prospect of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, or Michael Gove, or Jeremy Hunt, or Dominic Raab. The next phase of negotiations with the EU, the negotiations on the future relationship, the part we were always told was going to be the hard bit, will be headed by someone even worse than Theresa May. That’s the dreadful prospect facing a Scotland that doesn’t opt for independence. It’s a future of paralysis, of being marginalised, of seeing our public services being trashed.

In the referendums of 2014 and 2016 there was no option on the ballot paper for Scotland to scream uselessly from the sidelines while being ignored and traduced. But that’s what we’ve got. The UK doesn’t deliver for Scotland. We need to do it for ourselves.


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When Sauron met Mr Bean

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According to reports, the small elitist group of arch-Brexists in the Tory party who attended a meeting with Theresa May at Chequers over the weekend have taken to calling themselves the Grand Wizards. You know, what the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan call themselves, so that’s terribly reassuring. Only it’s not so much a burning cross on the lawn as it is a binfire in parliament.

But it’s true that the Grand Wizards of the European Research Group are magic, their intransigence has managed to make the UK’s reputation for stable democratic institutions and pragmatism disappear, along with their own preference for a no-deal Brexit. They’re what you’d get if you mated Sauron with Mr Bean. Jacob Rees Mogg was forced to admit on Tuesday that it was now looking like a choice between Theresa May’s deal or no Brexit at all. He was forced to concede that he was now “reluctantly” considering lending his support to the deal even though the DUP remain opposed to it.

On Monday, frustrated with the paralysis and chaos of a government which has lost the trust of even some of its own members, MPs voted to take control of the business of the Commons and to debate a series of what are called indicative votes. The aim of the indicative votes is to ascertain whether there is a majority for any approach to the Brexit crisis in the House. The approach to Brexit adopted by most people in the UK is to either run screaming from the room whenever the topic is brought up on the telly, or alternatively to rock slowly back and forward while crying uncontrollably. We are repeatedly told just how divided the UK has become because of Brexit, but nevertheless everyone is united in the fact that a huge majority of the population of the UK can agree that the English language has run out of words to describe the magnitude of the galactobinfireclusterfuck that Brexit has created.

According to a recent poll, just 7% of people think that the government has handled the Brexit process well and only 6% think that the UK will get a good deal out of leaving the EU. These are also the same people who think that The Clangers is a searing social documentary about life on another planet. Coincidentally, the same planet on which most no-deal Brexit supporters live.

A similar proposal a couple of weeks ago for MPs to take control of Parliamentary business was rejected, but even Conservative ministers have now got so frustrated with the delusions, lies, and inflexibility of the Prime Minister that they felt they had no choice but to vote against their own government. It’s not merely that Theresa May has long since become divorced from reality. Reality recently had a bit of a breakdown as it tearfully explained how badly affected it was if Theresa May attempted to approach within the same orbit on the galactic plane. Although it was reassured by the knowledge that this never happens. Reality has now taken out a restraining order against her and insisted on custody of the music collection, the coffee maker, the cat, and everything else except Brexit. Theresa May has become the Alan Partridge of politics, only without his self-awareness that he’s a parody.

On Tuesday, Theresa’s grasp on events was blasted even further into the most distant reaches of the galaxy when the DUP announced that it would prefer a lengthy extension to Article 50 to her deal. Despite the likelihood of her deal ever getting passed now being lower than the chances of Ian Paisley Jr leading the Belfast Gay Pride parade while bedecked in the boa his father woa, Theresa has signalled that she may not accept the results of any indicative vote that manages to gain a majority in the Commons. The government is not bound by an indicative vote, and Theresa May is not about to allow a trivial little matter like parliamentary democracy get in her way. Even so, she’s not going to present her deal for a third meaningless meaningful vote tomorrow because she knows it won’t pass. She’s not going to resign either. She’s certainly not going to change her mind. She’s just going to keep on keeping on, glowering at everyone and blaming them for her own mess. Theresa May is now the largest single obstacle to any progress being made in the British political process. She is the fatberg in the sewer of British politics, a glowering lump of unpleasantness that prevents anything else from passing.

Speaking to the Commons, arch-Brexist Andrea Leadsom said that the priority for the government was to ensure that it fulfilled the Conservative mandate given to it in the General Election by the voters. That would be those voters who ensured that Theresa lost her majority. This is possibly the first time that a British government has prioritised its election manifesto. Honouring the promises made to the people of Scotland during the independence referendum campaign has never even appeared on the Conservatives’ list of priorities. Some referendum promises are clearly worth more than others. Westminster always puts an invisible extra box on ballot papers in Scotland, and that’s for Scotland’s wishes to be ignored. No one ever votes for it, but it’s what we always get.

There are several options which MPs will be debating on Wednesday. The order which they are put to MPs will be crucial, as those who support one particular option will want their favourite to come last, as then those whose own favourite options have already been rejected will be more likely to support it.

The options range from a no deal Brexit, through accepting Theresa May’s deal but without the Irish backstop (which the EU considers a non-starter), Theresa May’s deal again, a Canada style free trade deal which won’t solve the problem of the Irish border, Labour’s plan to remain in a customs union, so called Norway plus which means retaining freedom of movement, a second referendum which could be linked to one of the other options, to unilaterally revoking Article 50 and staying in the EU. There is no guarantee that any of them will manage to achieve a majority in the Commons.

And then we’ll be back where we started, watching the Grand Wizards of Brexit perform their magic trick – making British politics disappear up its own backside. Scotland will be stuck in the cheap seats watching helplessly. They don’t want any audience participation.


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Majoritarianism is not democracy

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As over 1 million people took to the streets of central London demanding that Brexit is cancelled, the petition calling on the Westminster Parliament to revoke Article 50 has now surpassed 4.56 million signatures. It’s the biggest online petition ever seen on the official parliamentary petitions site, and it continues to attract new signatures.

According to the UK Office of National Statistics, there are 3,925,800 registered voters who are eligible to vote in UK elections in Scotland. The total eligible to vote in Scottish and local elections is somewhat higher, standing at 4.11 million according to the National Records for Scotland website. The difference is made up by EU citizens and 16 and 17 year olds who are eligible to vote in Scottish elections, but not UK elections. The UK parliamentary petitions website is only open to those registered to vote in UK elections. I added up the signatures from Scottish constituencies, and as of 7pm on Saturday afternoon the total stood at 416,815. That’s over 10.6% of the entire Scottish UK electorate. That number is likely to grow even more over the next couple of days.

If you haven’t signed yet, the link is here. https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

In the real world of course, it doesn’t matter how many people sign the petition or who take to the streets of London in protest, it will have no more influence on changing Theresa May’s course than removing a single grain of sand from the Sahara will prevent desertification. This is a Prime Minister who has no respect for a constitution but who is constitutionally incapable of listening. We’re still on course for the Brexit desert of May. Let’s be honest here, Uri Geller’s threat to use telepathy against Theresa May has a better chance of making her change her mind than this petition. It also has the merit of being considerably more realistic than some of the proposals presented by the European Research Group.

But the fact that the petition is not going to sway a notoriously unswayable politician is not the point. The reason for signing is because silence equals complicity. It’s only by making your voice heard that you can register the fact that Brexit is not being carried out in your name. On Wednesday evening, Theresa May stood before a lectern and presumed to speak for you and for me. She has sown division and now claims consensus. She has pursued a Brexit in the interests of the Conservative party and now claims she’s acting for everyone. Speaking up means telling Theresa May that she doesn’t speak for us. Silence means that Theresa May can continue to delude herself that she is on the side of the people. Silence means you agree. Silence means you don’t care. Silence means giving Theresa May permission.

Meanwhile we’ve still got a leader of the Opposition who is as committed to Brexit as the Conservatives. He just doesn’t want to take the blame for it. Even at this late stage Corbyn is still preaching his own unicorn fantasy of a jobs first Brexit, which is like calling for a patients first plague. Silence also means giving consent to Jeremy Corbyn’s deceptions, lethargy, and fantasising. Silence means allowing Jeremy Corbyn to say that he’s listening, when all he’s listening to is the sound of his own voice.

In an interview published at the end of December 2018, https://truthout.org/video/arundhati-roy-on-fiction-in-the-face-of-rising-fascism/ the Booker Prize winning Indian author Arundhati Roy remarked that majoritarianism borders on fascism. She was talking about the policies of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right wing Hindu nationalist government, but her remarks apply equally to Theresa May and the Brexit process. Brexit is likewise driven by populism, fueled by nationalism, and believes that the views of those who won a popular vote can ride roughshod over all other considerations. May has spoken in decidedly populist terms, most notably in her shameful speech last Wednesday when she blamed MPs for the paralysis her own approach to Brexit has created.

The reason that Brexit has become an all consuming binfire is because the British state and its political leaders don’t understand, or care for, the distinction between majoritarianism and democracy. The British state seeks majorities, not consensus. We suffer from a political system in which the winner takes all and the loser is left with nothing. The first past the post electoral system so beloved by Westminster means that a party which attains only a minority of the vote can end up with a crushing majority, and once it does there are few effective limits on the powers of whoever is prime minister. We are in this current mess because Theresa May insists on acting as though she still commanded a majority in the House.

When majoritarianism rules the day, then the majority can impose its will on the minority irrespective of how narrow that majority is. Those who are in the minority, especially those who are a permanent minority like Scotland within the UK, are doomed forever to be subject to the whims of a majority which they are powerless to influence.

The best that can be hoped for is for the permanent minority to swing the difference when the balance of opinion amongst the permanent majority is finely balanced. In other words, Scotland’s voice can only ever have any hope of being heard when there is no consensus within England. Westminster’s fixation on majoritarianism means that Scotland can never have its needs taken into account within the British state, that Scotland will always be dragged along in the wake of decisions made by the electorate in England. There is nothing within the constitutional structures of the UK which can protect Scotland from the malign effects of English nationalism, and that means we’re not a partner in a union.

True democracy means reaching consensus. It means ensuring that the views of as many as possible are taken into account. And above all it means finding means and methods of including those sections of the population which are permanent minorities. That can only be achieved with proportional representation, with a written constitution which strictly separates the powers of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary, and which strives to attain consensus instead of crushing the minority under the heel of a parliamentary majority. In other words, it can’t be achieved within the British state.

The binfire of Brexit has highlighted the shortcomings, inadequacies, and failures of the British state. It has shown us that the UK is unfit for purpose, that it is only a partial democracy. If we want a political class which can be held to account, which seeks to build consensus, which looks after the interests of the entire nation and not just their own party, we can only do so in an independent Scotland with a written constitution and a proper separation of powers.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast – 22 March 2019

In this week’s Dugcast, Callum Baird of The National and I discuss the ongoing binfire which is Brexit, the shameful Home Office and the difficulties it creates for those of us who have foreign spouses – a topic which personally affect me of course – and Kay Burley and mansplaining.

Warning, at one point I say shite, but in my defence I was talking about what Kay Burley had been saying, so I reckon it was fair comment.


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.