A Conservative stitch-up

stitchup
Do you hear that roasting sound? Hear it pop and spit? It’s the sound of shrivelling, shrinking, and burning up. Do you feel the heat and the fire that threatens to destroy the house? Are you unable to see anything through the dense smoke? That would be a million gammons learning that the UK can’t even ask itself if it wants to leave the EU without first getting the permission of Jean Claude Juncker. But that’s exactly what they demand of Scotland. And then they have the nerve to tell us that we’re in the most perfect union of nations ever seen on the face of this Earth.

The reality is that Scotland doesn’t need Theresa May’s permission to decide on its future. There is, as this blog has explored, more than one perfectly legal way in which the people of Scotland can have a democratic vote on whether we want to remain subject to the whims of an incompetent, venal, and broken Westminster system or become an independent, grown up, normal nation. There’s a consultative referendum, there’s turning a future Holyrood or Westminster election into a plebiscite election on independence. One way or another, Scotland can have a vote on its future, and Theresa May can’t stop it.

The Conservatives, you know, those people who don’t want Scotland to have any say over its constitutional future at all, know that too. So they also want to control how and when Scotland should have a say if and when Theresa May or whoever is Prime Minister in a few months’ time deigns to permit it. Or more accurately, when they discover that it’s politically impossible for them to prevent it.

Imagine that someone you know was determined that you shouldn’t have an enjoyable holiday. They tell you that they control the pursestrings, that you need their permission to go on holiday, and they’re not going to allow you to go. They do their utmost to prevent you getting the information you need in order to make an informed decision about your finances, about possible destinations. They lie to you. They tell you that you won’t be allowed a visa. They tell you that you’ll be refused entry into Europe.

Then when they discover that you’re going to go on holiday anyway and they can’t stop you, they inform you that they’ll decide when you go, where you go, and how you go. You can be as certain as it’s certain that TIG is going to be on Question Time that they’re going to do their utmost to ensure that you have the crappiest holiday imaginable. They’re going to make it so crappy that you’d prefer not to go on holiday at all.

The reason that the Conservatives want to control the timing, franchise, and question of a future independence referendum is because they want to pauchle it. The question in 2014 was rigorously fair and unbiased. It made no assumptions. It was not leading. The question that the Tories are likely to pose will be along the lines of “Do you want to break up the most successful partnership of nations that the world has ever seen and destroy Scotland forever? And see this kitten? It will get drowned.” They’ll ensure that the vote is held in the depths of winter in the worst weather possible on the same day that a royal baby is born while some other member of the royal family gets married on the centre of the Wembley pitch immediately before a Scotland-England fitba match. They’ll gerrymander the franchise to exclude 16 and 17 year olds and EU citizens, while extending it to everyone in the rest of the UK who has a Scottish grandparent or who once went to Argyll on a coach trip. Then they’ll insist that at least 60% of those who voted need to have voted in favour of independence and that the turnout has to be over 80%.

Westminster has previous for this kind of thing. 40 years ago Westminster pauchled the Home Rule referendum of 1979 in order to ensure that it was as difficult as possible for Scotland to achieve even a very limited form of self-government. The House of Commons introduced the infamous 40% rule, insisting that 40% of the entire electorate would have to assent to Home Rule. Scotland voted in favour of the then Labour government’s limited proposals for Home Rule, but not by enough to surmount the 40% of the entire electorate restriction. With an independence referendum, the stakes for Westminster are even higher. They will do their utmost to ensure that the referendum is skewed in their favour.

The Conservatives have already proven that their promises to Scotland cannot be trusted. Every single one of the promises and commitments that they made to Scotland lies shattered and broken. They haven’t strengthened devolution, they’ve undermined it. They haven’t kept Scotland within the EU, they’re taking us out of it. Scottish Conservative MPs have not been voting in a bloc to defend Scotland’s interests within the UK, they’re supine and spineless enablers of a British government determined to ignore and marginalise Scotland in the Brexit process. A Scottish independence referendum which is controlled, determined, and worded by the Conservatives in Westminster isn’t a Scottish referendum. It’s a Conservative stitch up.

For quite a while now, as I’ve been going around Scotland giving talks on independence, I’ve joked that whereas we were told in 2014 that Scotland couldn’t use the pound, the scare story that Better Together Mk II is going to use the next time round is that Scotland has to use the pound. And so it has come to pass. Opponents of independence are now quite literally one of my jokes.

On Twitter on Saturday Blair McDougall, the chief of Better Together Mk I, warned that Scotland needed to keep using the pound. You know, that pound that he said we couldn’t use in 2014. What has changed is of course that the SNP is now moving towards adopting a Scottish currency after independence and is dropping the previous policy of continuing to use sterling for an indeterminate period. So Better Together’s position on the currency is that if Scotland wants to use the pound then it has to use its own currency, but if Scotland wants to use its own currency then it has to use the pound. We’re glad they’ve cleared that up.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast – 1 March 2019

Welcome to the 1st of March edition of the Wee Ginger Dugcast, where Callum Baird (The National’s editor) and I manage to find things to talk about other than Brexit. Whoopee! In this edition we discuss Theresa May’s surprising revelation that she’s a fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race and whether this is the most embarrassing attempt by a politician to show that they’re in touch with popular culture since Gordon Brown claimed he was a fan of the Arctic Monkeys.  We also discuss the McCrone Report and the reaction received by The National to its groundbreaking decision to publish it in full, the news that the Conservatives expect the Scottish Government to ask for a Section 30 order within a few weeks – but have already decided to say no because they want us all to hit the iceberg together – and the decision by the SNP to move forward on plans for a new Scottish currency after independence.


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

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The greatest argument of all

prisoner

It’s being reported by the BBC that within the next few weeks Theresa May expects the Scottish Government to ask for a Section 30 order in order to hold another Scottish independence referendum, and that the Prime Minster has already decided to refuse.

If we have to beg London for permission just to ask ourselves the question, then that is the greatest argument of all in favour of Scottish independence. Westminster tells us that Scotland is a valued partner in a family of nations, but not so valued that it’s going to allow Scotland to decide its own future. If you keep your loved ones chained. If you refuse to allow them the autonomy to decide for themselves where they want to live. If you are determined that you and you alone have the sole right to choose where and how to live, then you don’t have a loved one. You have a hostage. You have a prisoner.

When you have a UK government minister who justifies the refusal by saying that “Once you’ve hit the iceberg, you’re all on it together,” you move from a rhetorical hostage situation to a literal one. Especially since the people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to steer away from the iceberg in the first place. Especially since the great majority of the Scottish people’s elected representatives have spent the past two and a half years warning about the iceberg and offering strategies to either avoid it or minimise its impact, warnings and strategies which the British government has wilfully ignored.

With Theresa May’s refusal we can add the Scottish Claim of Right to the long list of Westminster lies. The Westminster Parliament voted in favour of the Scottish Claim of Right which asserts that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. Yet Theresa May appears to believe that she has a veto on that. There was no rider in the Claim of Right. There was no clause saying that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs as long as that was OK with Theresa May. Indeed, the Scottish Claim of Right was formulated in the first place due to the implaccable opposition of an intransigent Conservative Prime Minister with little support in Scotland to the notion that Scotland might seek a form of self-government. Here we are, 30 years on, the tragedy of Thatcher repeating as the farce of May.

There can be few more effective starting points for a second Scottish independence referendum campaign than a Conservative British Prime Minister telling Scotland to shut up, be quiet, and get back in its box. This is going to be the cornerstone of the next independence campaign. Scotland is trapped within a state which refuses to allow Scotland a voice at the top level of government, which is taking Scotland out of the EU without permitting Scotland to influence the form or shape of Brexit, and which refuses to allow the people of Scotland to decide their own future. The message of the next independence campaign is going to be that given these circumstances, Scotland is not in a union at all. Scotland is the subordinate province of a unitary British state.

Others within the British government say that another independence referendum must be resisted because it would be a “distraction”. So there you go Scotland. Your future is a distraction from the important business of ensuring that blinkered British nationalists get what they want. Dunno about you, but I’d quite like to have a government for which the future of my country was its prime concern, and not merely an irritation to be sidelined and avoided.

All of this would be horrendous at the best of times. However as the UK is heading towards the uncertain and stormy waters of Brexit, led by a clueless Conservative party which has been taken over by right wing free market extremists, it becomes a moral imperative for the people of Scotland to get a vote on our future. The United Kingdom in which we currently reside is not the United Kingdom which we were promised in 2014. And it’s only set to get worse.

Theresa May’s time as Conservative leader will end sooner or later, probably sooner, and her Ukippified party will elect a new leader who is a hardline Brexiter who will take an axe to what remains of our public services. Then Scotland will face a hard right Conservative government which we didn’t vote for, which is pursuing the hard Brexit policies which Scotland has rejected, and which is channelling Margaret Thatcher in its refusal to listen to the demands of Scotland’s elected representatives and the mandate that they possess from the Scottish people. That’s really not going to be a good look if you’re an anti-independence campaigner and you’re trying to persuade voters in Scotland that we’re a valued partner in a union of nations.

A refusal to grant a Section 30 order from this most intransigent of Prime Ministers was always to be expected. However in order to deal with the refusal, the Scottish Government must first say that it wants a referendum. Only then can we progress beyond the current paralysis and move into the next phase of the campaign, one which will be centered on the democratic deficit that Scotland faces within the UK and preparations for either a consultative referendum without Westminster’s consent, or for transforming the next set of elections in Scotland into a plebiscite on independence.

Meanwhile the SNP has announced that while it has decided to take on board most of the recommendations of the Growth Report, it has decided to move forward more quickly with the adoption of a new Scottish currency after independence. Retaining the use of the pound sterling will now be a temporary measure, similar to how sterling was retained by the Irish Free State until the introduction of the punt. This is a very good move, not least because the arse is likely to fall out of sterling after Brexit and then following Scottish independence.

It’s also a good move because it’s only with a currency of our own that the Scottish government will have the economic freedom of movement to break free of the UK’s ruinous financial policies. It’s a good move because it means we no longer have to pay heed to the British nationalist trolls who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

The greatest argument of all for Scottish independence is that as part of the UK Scotland isn’t allowed to decide what’s best for Scotland. We’ve got a struggle ahead of us. The British state is not going to give up its control over Scotland easily. But the tide of history is carrying us forward. All they have are threats and scare stories. We have the vision.

 


 

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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.