Wee Ginger Dugcast – 31 May

In this week’s Wee Ginger Dugcast myself and National editor Callum Baird discuss the EU election results and what it tells us about the state of the UK.

Also on the agenda is Labour’s civil war, the Bill facilitating an indyref and an update on that vital political issue … the bins in Barlanark.

PS. We regret to inform listeners that we failed to seek permission from Sajid Javid for this podcast to be posted. We can only apologise.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

The cleverness of the referendum bill

permissionnotrequired

The Scottish Government has published its referendums bill, and as Andrew Tickell points out in The National, it makes for some very interesting reading.

I’ve always been wary of an independence referendum without a Section 30 order because of the risk that it would be boycotted by the anti-independence parties. This is despite the fact that there are, as Andrew Tickell pointed out, legal arguments both for and against an independence referendum without a Section 30 order. Right now the likes of Ruth Davidson and her pals in the press assert it would be illegal, but the truth is that we don’t actually know whether it would be illegal because the matter has never been tested in the courts. Until such time as it is tested in the courts and there is a definitive legal ruling, anyone who asserts that an independence referendum without a Section 30 order would be illegal is not presenting you with a fact, they’re offering you a political opinion.

However since it’s always been thought that any legal challenge would go directly to the UK Supreme Court, any legal challenge to an Independence Referendum Act passed by Holyrood would have been dealt with in pretty short order. The Scotland Act contains a provision allowing the UK Government to take objections by UK Government ministers to Acts of the Scottish Parliament directly to the UK Supreme Court, by-passing the Scottish courts.

So it has always been assumed by the anti-independence parties and the British Government that they could fast-track their legal objections to another Scottish independence referendum and have them dealt with immediately in the UK Supreme Court, a court which has a majority of English judges who have shown in the past that they tend to side with the British Government concerning devolved issues. That provision meant that it was considered by many to be more likely than not that an independence referendum without a Section 30 order would be found to be illegal. After all, Scotland would be arguing its case in a court composed mostly of judges schooled in English law who have no sympathy with or understanding of the Scottish doctrine of popular sovereignty.

This picture has now changed radically thanks to the new referendum bill. The beauty of the construction of the Scottish Government’s referendum bill is that it makes legal challenges to an independence referendum far more difficult. The bill deals with general provisions for holding referendums, it’s not specifically about an independence referendum. In fact the phrase independence referendum doesn’t appear anywhere in the bill. The provisions in this bill apply equally to local referendums on parking charges, congestion charges, or any other topic.

One notable provision that it establishes is that all UK, EU, and Commonwealth citizens resident in Scotland aged 16 or over will be eligible to vote. It also ensures that the framing of the question will be for the Scottish Parliament to decide, subject to consultation with the Electoral Commission. This reduces the risk of biased interference from a Westminster which would seek to restrict the franchise or pose the question in a way which slants it towards opposition to independence, as Scotland in Union are prone to doing in their opinion polls.

As it is framed, this referendums bill is clearly within the competence of Holyrood and cannot be challenged as dealing with matters reserved to Westminster. The Tories can gnash, wail, complain, and do their pouty thing, but there is nothing in this bill that allows them to challenge it legally. The SNP and the Greens have a clear majority in Holyrood, and this bill is going to pass. There’s nothing Ruth Davidson, Wullie Rennie, or whoever is the leader of Labour in Scotland next week can do to stop it.

That’s a clever piece of legislative sleight of hand, but it’s not the really clever bit. The really clever bit is that having established a general framework for the holding of referendums the bill authorises Scottish ministers to proceed with a referendum subject only to a majority vote in Holyrood. That’s significant because decisions by Scottish ministers which Westminster objects to are not liable to immediate transferral to the UK Supreme Court. Objections to ministerial decisions have to be dealt with by the Scottish courts and make their way through the Scottish legal system.

This bill does not negate the need for a Section 30 order for Scotland to have an independence referendum which can’t be legally challenged by the anti-independence parties, but crucially it makes a legal challenge by the Westminster Government far more difficult. The anti-independence parties can no longer rely upon an immediate referral to the UK Supreme Court, now they will have to go all the way through the Scottish legal process. We saw with the ruling on the revocation of Article 50 that the Scottish courts are less likely to automatically rule in favour of Westminster than the UK Supreme Court is. And just as it did during that particular case, if a Scottish court found against the British Government, it is not impossible that it could refuse to allow the British Government to take the matter further to the UK Supreme Court.

However the really important effect of this bill isn’t legal, it’s political. This bill introduces significant political obstacles for opponents of independence because should a Scottish court rule in favour of the Scottish Government, but the British Government then appeals to the UK Supreme Court, they will be seen to be overruling not just Holyrood but also the Scottish legal system. There will be a political outcry in Scotland should a Scottish court rule in favour of the Scottish Government, only for the British Government to seek to overrule that in a court composed largely of English judges. It raises the important political question of the independence of the Scottish legal system which was supposed to have been guaranteed by the Treaty of Union. Westminster then runs the significant risk of being seen to break the spirit of that Treaty. That won’t play well as opponents of independence seek to persuade Scotland that it’s a valued partner in a family of nations.

What the referendum bill does is to immensely strengthen the hand of the Scottish Government in negotiations with the British Government for a Section 30 order. It removes the arrogant assumption of the British Government that it would immediately be able to refer a unilateral Scottish decision to proceed to a referendum to a friendly court and have it overturned. Instead it makes the legal process far lengthier, far less predictable, and far more likely to produce an outcome unfavourable to the British Government. It significantly increases the pressure on whoever is Prime Minister to accede to a Section 30 order or to risk losing any semblance of control over the process.

Crucially, this bill makes a consultative referendum without a Section 30 order a far more realistic prospect, because if a Scottish court rules that it’s legal, then the anti-independence parties have no principled grounds for boycotting it. The bill has crowbarred open another route to an independence referendum in the teeth of the objections of Tory leadership candidates.

Most importantly of all, this bill establishes the principle that it’s for the people of Scotland and their elected representatives to decide when and if Scotland gets a say on its future. We don’t need Sajid Javid’s or any other Tory’s permission.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

Destroying the things you love, and being destroyed by them

It’s funny how Ruth Davidson is very quick to claim that the people of Scotland don’t want another independence referendum, yet she carefully avoids saying that the people of Scotland don’t want Brexit. A couple of days ago, 62% of Scottish voters opted for parties opposed to Brexit, but Ruth never seems to find time to mention that Scotland is opposed to Brexit. Instead she devotes her time and energy in a pursuit that there is no such clear evidence for, the claim that Scotland doesn’t want another independence referendum. You might think that Ruth was motivated in equal parts by opportunism and desperation, and you’d be right.

Today the Holyrood bill to provide a framework for another independence referendum was published, and Ruth Davidson took to Twitter to ask people to support her bid to block it. She took to Twitter because she tried an election, but got resoundingly defeated. It was after all Ruth herself who had insisted that the recent European elections were all about sending a message to Nicola Sturgeon, only for the people of Scotland to disoblige and give the SNP the highest share of the vote of any party in any country in the EU. So that only leaves Twitter appeals to the increasingly frothy members of SiU, and appealing above the heads of the Scottish electorate by interceding with Tory leadership candidates to get them to rule out granting a Section 30 order.

The UK has gone from being a family of equal nations, the most perfect union of countries in the history of the world, to a prison where the only way it can be kept together is by a unilateral refusal to allow Scotland to have a say on its own future. Those who support and defend the UK have now abandoned any pretence of persuading Scotland that it has a better future as a democratic partner within the UK and have transformed into authoritarians who can only keep the UK together by sticking their fingers in their ears, closing their eyes, and asserting that the UK Prime Minister has a veto over the democratic will of the people of Scotland and he or she won’t allow an independence referendum. Scotland doesn’t want Brexit, but Scotland will have Brexit imposed upon it, and yet it’s the EU which is the undemocratic dictatorship. Right-o.

The latest Tory leadership contender to loftily assert from on high that he’d refuse to allow another independence referendum is Sajid Javid, who then went on to accuse Nicola Sturgeon of grandstanding. ‘Won’t allow’, eh Sajid. Oooh you’re hard. The people of Scotland just love being dictated to by Tory MPs. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. No, really.

According to the Saj, the people of Scotland had a chance to vote in 2014, and absolutely nothing has changed since then that might have led anyone to change their view. Nothing that is except every single promise and commitment that was made to the people of Scotland by the Better Together campaign being trashed, binned, traduced, or rubbished. It’s funny how the people who won the 2014 insist that the losers need to respect the result, but they themselves refuse to be held to account for the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in order to win it. Call me naive, but I thought it was more important that winners be held to account, since they’re the ones who have promises to fulfil. In Scottish Toryland, they get a free pass forever. Apparently that’s what democracy looks like for Scotland within the UK.

Nothing has changed except Scotland being assured that the only way it could remain a part of the EU was to vote against independence, but it’s now being taken out anyway. Nothing has changed except the promise that no Westminster government would ever alter the devolution settlement without the express will of the Scottish Parliament, but then the Tories went and did exactly that. Nothing has changed except the promise that Scotland would be an equal and valued partner in a family of nations turning out to mean we’d be dictated to, patronised, sidelined, marginalised, and treated with contempt. But apart from that, nothing has changed, and no one in Scotland could possibly have any reason whatsoever to have second thoughts on 2014’s decision.

Still, no one really cares what Sajid Javid says. It’s just some boorish and bullying grandstanding from someone who has no chance of becoming the next Prime Minister, while he accuses other people of grandstanding. This kind of lack of self-awareness is the defining characteristic of the Conservative party right now. It’s the same lack of self-awareness that leads Ruth on her anti-indyref campaign, citing the will of the Scottish people, while she ignores the very clear will of the Scottish people on Brexit.

Of course we all know that the real reason Ruth refuses to countenance another independence referendum is because she thinks she’d lose it. Ruth is motivated by one thing above all other considerations, and that’s self-promotion. If she sincerely believed that she could handsomely defeat the independence cause in another referendum, she’d be the first to call for one. Then she could pose as the saviour of the union and be even more the darling of her adoring pals in the press. Her opposition to another independence referendum is a last ditch desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable, because Ruth knows that once the referendum is called, she’s already lost.

What these Tory leadership candidates consistently fail to appreciate is that the quickest route to Scottish independence is for Conservative politicians that Scotland didn’t vote for to tell Scotland that it’s not allowed a choice. In their short-term desperation to forestall another independence referendum, they are undermining the very basis of the union that they claim to love and cherish. If you are trying to persuade Scots that they are a valued partner in a union, you can’t simultaneously deny them the right to democratic expression about Scotland’s place within that so-called union. The two positions are mutually incompatible. The abiding myth of Scottish unionism has always been that Scotland is voluntarily a part of the UK. Conservative refusals to countenance an independence referendum destroy that myth, and they undermine the very foundation of Scottish unionism.

The Tories themselves are destroying the UK. It’s their actions, their arrogance, their blind hatred, their inflexibility, their utter selfishness and unyielding insistence on putting narrow party interest first which will lead to Scottish independence. When they are reduced to telling Scotland that it will not be ‘allowed’ a vote on its own future, they have already destroyed 300 years of Scottish unionism. They can no longer pretend to the people of Scotland that Scotland is freely and willingly a part of the UK. They have revealed the ugly truth that Scotland is regarded as a possession.

In the Ballad of Reading Gaol, Oscar Wilde wrote, “And all men kill the thing that they love.” And it is also true that the things that you love the most will kill you. In the Ballad of Ruthie’s Wail, the Scottish Tories are proving the truth of that. They are destroying their precious union and being destroyed by it. Scotland will not weep for their tragedy. It is our opportunity.


 

newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

The politics of jimmy wigs

jimmywig

The Uncle Tam is the Scot who tries to ingratiate himself with the English upper and middle classes by pandering to all the worst racist stereotypes which are current about Scottish people amongst sections of the English population. There’s a long list of them, the drunken Scot, the begging Scot, the ungrateful Scot, the chippy Scot, the nostalgic Scot, the violent Scot, the incomprehensible Scot, the self-pitying Scot, the grievance-mongering Scot, the tight-fisted Scot, the dour Scot, the sullen Scot, the vegetable-phobic Scot, the English-hating Scot, and the humourless Scot who points out that these tropes are indeed racist stereotypes and nor merely harmless banter.

Some Scots who have moved to England feel the need to effect to despise their fellow country men and women in order to make their new English colleagues and acquaintances feel more at ease with the quasi-foreigner in their midst. They torture their accents, they come down with bad cases of irritable vowel syndrome, they distance themselves from any manifestations of overt Scottishness in order to highlight that they are not like those benighted Caledonians back in the Auld Country.

It’s interesting to note that the reverse never happens. English people who move to Scotland retain their English accents even after many decades of living here. That doesn’t mean they’re not accepted, not at all. But what it does tell us is that those Scots who move to England and effect Anglicised accents are doing so on purpose. They’re doing it because they’re ashamed, because they seek to ingratiate themselves, because they wish to downplay their Scottishness in the face of the anti-Scottish stereotypes which are rampant. And yet it’s supposed to be Scotland which has a problem with anti-English racism. Anti-Scottish racism in England isn’t a thing, we’re frequently told, it’s just a spot of banter. Yet it’s Scots who move to England who demonstrably alter their behaviour, not English people who move to Scotland. What does that tell you?

Michael Gove never got that accent in a fishmongers in Aiberdeen. Every time he opens his mooth he is trying to persuade the social circles amongst which he now moves that he’s better than the rump lumpen mass of Caledonianry that he left behind, because he and his like have adopted the mannerisms, vocal inflexions, and attitudes of the English upper class, wholesale. By doing so they confirm the beliefs of the British ruling classes that Scots require British rule in order to save us from ourselves. We can only progress within the UK by ceasing to be Scottish.

But people like Michael go beyond that, they also feel the need to denigrate the rest of us in order to aggrandise themselves. That’s what was responsible for Michael Gove’s extraordinary exercise in self-loathing broadcast on Channel 4 in 1992 which has recently been unearthed. If you haven’t seen it, it’s on The National, here. https://www.thenational.scot/news/17667151.gove-says-scots-are-seen-as-unattractive-creatures-in-unearthed-tv-clip/

And because someone has kindly uploaded it to Youtube, I am able to embed it here in all its self-loathing horror.

The wannabe Prime Minister tells us that we are unattractive creatures, inarticulate drunks on the Embankment, given to begging on the London Underground and wheedling spare cash from our English betters. Even in Parliament, he loftily informs us, a Scottish accent is invariably accompanied by an outstretched palm.

Mikey trotted through the racist stereotypes held by some in England about the Scots, and by apparently espousing them reassured those who held them that they can’t be racist because the same views were being aired by a Scot. By so doing he validated and reinforced them. A black person, an Asian person, a member of any other ethnicity or national group, would have had far greater self-awareness. No one does self-loathing like the North Briton in full flight from their Scottishness, those tartan bedecked court jesters at the court of union, reducing a nation to jimmy wigs and buckie bottles.

They are the uncle and auntie Tams and what they prove, unwittingly and unconsciously, is that this so-called precious union, this supposed family of nations, demands that those of us who are not English accommodate to English culture and identity, because the converse is unthinkable. The problem has to be our accent, because it can never be their ears.

Back in 1997, when the campaign for the devolution referendum was in full swing, Newsnight on BBC presented a debate from the ancient Scottish Parliament. Assorted Scottish worthies gathered to discuss whether Scotland required a new parliament. One of the questions that they were asked was whether Scotland had influenced England to the extant that England has influenced Scotland. The North British worthies who dominated the room agreed that it had. They they all were, discussing Scotland in the English language for the benefit of an English audience. None of them paused to consider that had Scotland really been as great a cultural influence on England as England has upon Scotland, that English ears might be quite comfortable hearing Scots, and would put any failure to comprehend down to their own poverty of listening skills and not to the supposed incomprehensibility of a Scots tongue. The truth is that the cultural accommodations demanded by the UK’s supposed family of nations are all in one direction.

What is true of culture and language is just as true of politics. Scottish politics are expected to accommodate to the political requirements of England, the converse is unthinkable. Scotland is expected to surrender to whatever form of Brexit the rulers of England impose, but it is inconscionable that the Brexiters of England might be asked to forgo their demands because Scotland doesn’t wish to leave the EU. Scotland is to be bent out of shape to accomodate England’s political will, and if Scotland complains it can only be because the Scots are ungrateful and chippy beggars. All that is on offer to Scotland within the UK is the politics of jimmy wigs.

Michael Gove’s childish pandering to anti-Scottish tropes tells us plenty about him as an individual. But it also tells us that Scotland as a whole can only exist within the UK by virtue of being deformed, denigrated, and despised. As long as Scotland remains a part of the UK, our politics, culture, identity, and future will always be subordinated to the demands of a British establishment which holds us in contempt. It makes Uncle and Auntie Tams of all of us. As long as Scotland remains a part of the UK, we’ll be the jimmy wig on the top of the island. Michael Gove might think that Scotland is a joke, but it’s only with independence that we can prove that he’s the fool.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

The choice

The recriminations are in full flow following the EU elections which saw both the Labour party and the Tories in Scotland perform appallingly poorly. Well, I say appallingly, but that’s only because schadenfreudingly isn’t an adverb.

The Tories have reacted in their typical manner, by refusing to accept that it’s happening. Just as they managed to persuade themselves and an overly eager Scottish press that they had really won the General Election in Scotland by virtue of coming a distant second, now they’re consoling themselves with the delusion that no one really won the EU elections in Scotland at all. The SNP coming first in every Scottish local authority area except Orkney and Shetland, on an increased turnout, isn’t really a victory. The Tory party continues to dig itself a deep hole on social media by promoting this line, insisting that the SNP didn’t really do that well and that it really wasn’t a message to Nicola Sturgeon. They’re so far down the rabbit hole it’s quite amazing that they’re still getting a WiFi signal.

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she’d like to see another independence referendum next year and is bringing forward legislation in Holyrood to prepare for it. 46% of voters in the EU elections cast their votes in favour of pro-independence parties, which represents a very strong basis of support for independence before an official campaign has even begun. Since the franchise for this election didn’t include 16 and 17 year olds, and an unknown number of EU citzens were illegally disenfranchised, it’s quite likely that real support for independence is even higher. It’s bound to increase even further if those people who voted for another EU referendum find that Scotland is taken out of the EU without one.  A lot of people are still hoping that Brexit can be avoided, when it can’t the question is going to be what happens to their attitudes to independence.

Along with the Lib Dems, the Tories, and the BBC are pushing the line that people who “lent their votes” to the SNP in this election might not necessarily support another independence referendum or would vote yes in it when it occurs. Naturally they refuse to accept the possibility that if this is true about people who voted for pro-independence parties, then logically it must also be true about people who voted for anti-independence parties, and you cannot therefore assume that everyone who voted for parties which are officially opposed to independence is likewise opposed to independence.

Ruth Davidson, making a brief foray out of the cave where she’s been hiding since the election, warned Nicola Sturgeon not to take the people who voted SNP for granted. The Tories are now accusing the SNP of deceiving voters, after Nicola Sturgeon called for another independence referendum next year, just hours after her party trounced the opposition parties in Scotland. Because, you know, “Oh I didn’t realise that the SNP wanted Scottish independence,” said no one, ever.

So the attack line now favoured by the Scottish Conservatives is that the SNP has been exposed to a surprised public as seeking Scottish independence via a referendum, which is based upon their 2016 manifesto commitment to do so if there’s a material change in circumstances such as Brexit. The SNP secured a majority for this position in the Scottish Parliament, and restated it during their recent party conference, and again before the Euro elections. Meanwhile the overwhelmingly anti-independence media in Scotland consistently conflates support for the SNP with support for independence, and uses criticism of party policies of a devolved administration led by the SNP as a proxy for attacks on the entire idea of indepedence. And now they’re trying to tell us that no one realised that a vote for the SNP might be interpreted as a vote for independence.

The most bitter substance in the world is denatonium benzoate. Dilutions of as little as 10 parts per million are unbearably bitter to most people, which makes it the favourite drink of the anti-independence press in Scotland. According to a scientific website all about the properties of denatonium benzoate, exposure to it is irritating and unpleasant. So exactly like the British media in Scotland then. However it is rumoured that scientists are investigating the manufacture of an even more bitter substance, distilled from the tears of Scottish Conservatives who saw their party plunge to fourth place with a paltry 11.6% of the vote.

However it’s the Labour party in Scotland which has really gone into meltdown following the EU elections. To say that the party performed abysmally is an underestimation of the order of saying that the Black Death was a minor public health issue. Labour dominated Scotland during the 1980s and 1990s, bestriding the political landscape like a colossus, in these elections it plummeted to fifth place, polling in single figures slightly above the Greens.

Campaign chief Neil Findlay MSP resigned from the party’s front bench, and announced that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection in 2021. He denounced the infighting and factionalism that plagues the party. There’s little prospect of things getting any better for the Branch Office under its current leader, or indeed anyone who cared to replace him. Richard Leonard is utterly bereft of charm and charisma, of the ability to make an appeal outside the narrow confines of a trade union branch meeting filled with his pals. But Labour’s problems in Scotland run much deeper.

The Branch Office has only got itself to blame. Labour in Scotland have for too long come across as defenders of the status quo, all too willing in local government to support the Tories in practice if it means getting one up on the SNP. The knee jerk opposition of the party leadership to independence has meant that Labour has been weak on defending the devolution settlement.

If voters in Scotland couldn’t rely upon Labour as a bulwark against the Tories, as a strong and distinctive voice for Scotland within the UK, then what precisely is the point of the Labour party? Labour should have been defending the devolution settlement, reinforcing it, strengthening it, instead they have all too often conspired with the Tories in undermining it. In heavily remain supporting and Brexit-sceptic Scotland, Labour’s position of “constructive ambiguity” on Brexit only resulted in the party’s support being unamibguously deconstructed. People who voted Labour in Scotland traditionally expected the party to oppose Conservative madness, not to facilitate it.

Labour in Scotland was suffering from the problem that its message on Brexit was tailored to an English electorate, and it failed to resonate even there. With no distinctively Scottish Labour position, the party is lucky that it managed to achieve the pathetic 9.3% that it did. It could fall even further. It probably will. If Scotland doesn’t make the choice of independence, it will become as irrelevant as the Branch Office. Scotland’s future within the UK is the political impotence and irrelevance of Richard Leonard.

The reality facing Labour now is that its claim to represent those in Scotland who want to remain in both the UK and the EU is manifestly past its sell by date. The choice facing Scotland is no longer a choice between independence and exiting the EU on the one hand or the UK and EU membership on the other. It’s a choice between being a neglected province of a right wing UK where English nationalism is on the rise and the devolution settlement is under constant threat, or independence and our own relationship with the EU.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

The only hope of salvation

indyrefsalvation
Ruth Davidson asked the people of Scotland to use these elections to send a message to Nicola Sturgeon, and that’s exactly what the people of Scotland have done. It’s just a terrible shame for Ruth that the message isn’t the one that she wanted. The people of Scotland have sent a very clear message, and that message is that we’re not at all impressed with the Tories, with the Labour party, with Brexit, or with how Scotland has been treated during this entire sorry Brexit process. Scotland said in resoundingly clear terms that it wants a say on whether we are to be taken out of the EU. Scotland demands another referendum on EU membership. Scotland has said you can stick your Tory and Farage Brexit.

The European elections have shown conclusively that Scotland is in a very different political place from the rest of the UK. Where the story of the night for England and Wales was the inexorable rise of the gurning face of Faragism, Scotland proved itself resistant to his dubious charms and returned a decisive vote in favour of a second EU referendum. In every local authority area in Scotland, a pro-EU referendum party topped the poll. The SNP won everywhere, except Orkney and Shetland which narrowly preferred the Lib Dems, and ended up with three out of Scotland’s six seats in the European parliament. It’s worth pointing out at this juncture that independent EU nations with a similar population size as Scotland, like Denmark or Finland, have 13 each. It’s yet another UK benefit that Scotland gets to be underrepresented in Europe.

62% of Scottish voters opted for parties which unambiguously want another EU referendum – the SNP, Greens, Lib Dems, and Change UK. Only 28.2% supported parties which are unequivocally in favour of Brexit – the Brexit party, the Tories, and Ukip. Then another 9.3% voted for Labour, and no one knows what they want, least of all the Labour party. It’s a fairly safe bet that many of the rump of voters who remained loyal to Labour in Scotland are also in favour of another EU referendum, so the 62% who voted for parties overtly calling for another EU referendum represents the absolute minimum of Scottish support for revisiting the EU question, it’s really higher than that. The question now is how those voters who opted for anti-independence parties supporting another EU referendum will react if Scotland is indeed taken out of the EU without the matter being put back to the people. They’ll have a very strong incentive to support another independence referendum, and to vote yes in it, as the only way of rescuing EU membership for Scotland.

Despite Scotland very clearly and unequivocally saying that it wants another say on Brexit, none of the Conservative leadership candidates seem disposed to offer one. The front runners are now vying with one another to out-Farage Nigel Farage, to offer the most hardline Brexit possible. The Tories went down to their worse defeat in British politics in modern times, managing just 9% across the UK, dropping to fifth place in the polls. They didn’t do much better in Scotland, where they could console themselves with the cold comfort that at least they didn’t do as badly as the Labour party.

Ruth’s fantasy of becoming the next First Minister is now as dead as her party’s reputation for strong and stable government. It’s difficult to see how her party’s fortunes can recover in Scotland, tied as they are to a Westminster party which is hell bent on delivering something that the Scottish electorate has so resoundingly rejected. This election has only highlighted the gulf between the political directions of Scotland and England. No number of cheeky photo-ops can plaster over it.

You might think that Ruth “A Vote for Me Is a Vote for a Voice for Scotland Within the UK” Davidson would be entreating with the Tory leadership candidates to ensure that they take into account the sensibilities and wishes of a Scotland which has just given her party a kicking. You would of course only be thinking that if you lived in the cave next door to the one where Ruth goes to hide whenever she’s avoiding speaking to the press because there’s some bad news for her party. When it comes to a choice between her own career, or protecting Scotland’s interests, Ruth’s careerist instincts win every time.

Naturally Ruth isn’t trying to intercede with her party to ensure that Brexit is as soft as possible and does the least amount of damage to Scotland. Instead Ruth is asking all the Tory leadership candidates to rule out consenting to a Section 30 order to authorise another independence referendum, and telling the rest of us to suck up Brexit because it’s what the UK voted for. She’s the politician who see her role as being to close down democratic options for her country.

The UK was politically unstable and uncertain last week. It’s even more so now. The Conservative party is now in full on panic mode as it digests the devastation wreaked upon its electoral support. Their MPs will certainly not be in any mood for an early General Election right now. Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas. That said, British politics are so volatile that anything might happen. Funny that, considering that back in 2014 Scotland was told that the only volatile thing it needed to worry about was the oil price per barrel.

Whoever succeeds as Tory leader will enjoy a honeymoon period, but it won’t last long. The same divisions, the same Parliamentary arithmetic, and the same looming deadline of October 31 will destroy it very quickly. But with the Faragistas breathing down their necks, the Tories are going to be even more motivated than they were before to allow the UK to crash out of the EU at the end of October without a deal, and bugger the consequences.

All that can be said for certain is that this UK is not the beacon of political and economic stability that was sold to Scotland in 2014. It is highly unlikely that this Westminster Parliament is going to permit a public say on Brexit, which means that all that is left for Scotland is another independence referendum. This week the Scottish Government introduces the legislation to prepare the way for another independence vote and the Scottish Parliament must make clear that a Westminster refusal to consent to a Section 30 order is not an option if Westminster wishes to preserve the notion that the UK is indeed a union of nations.

The EU elections proved that Scotland wants a different path to the only one on offer within the UK. If the gurning influence of Nigel Farage is the defining shape of the future of British politics, then another independence referendum is Scotland’s only hope of salvation. It’s high time that we took it. The UK can’t save Scotland. Scotland can only save itself.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.

The best of both worlds

savingourselves
Theresa May has gone. Sort of. At least she has removed the sofa that was barricading the door to Number 10 and arranged a date for the removal van. The she strode out of that door to the inevitable podium, and without a hint of irony or self-awareness spoke about the need for compromise in finding a solution to Brexit. If she’d done that when she became Tory leader then perhaps she wouldn’t have needed to make that speech at the podium.

The speech was a masterclass in lack of self-awareness. She quoted Nicholas Winton, who organised the Kinder Transport that saved 669 mostly Jewish refugee children from the Nazis just before WW2, saying that he had taught her that life depends upon compromise. Clearly she had heard his words but hadn’t understood them, she had learned of his deeds but refused to put them into practice herself, instead preferring to institute a hostile environment for migrants and to place restrictions on the passage of unaccompanied minors from the refugee camps near Calais. Nicholas Winton forged documents in order to bring those child refugees to the UK. If Theresa May had been Home Secretary at the time, she’d have put him in jail. Even as she announced the end to her time in office, her rank opportunism and hypocrisy was breath-taking.

There’s been a concerted campaign in the press to make us feel sorry for Theresa. We should be sorry for her because she regarded immigrants as an easy target that she could demonise and threaten in order to advance her career. We should be sorry for her because she was a racist Home Secretary who screwed up the lives of the Windrush generation and sent out vans bearing a message that the 1970s National Front would have approved of. We should be sorry for her because she presided over the destruction of the social security safety net and oversaw a mushrooming of foodbanks. We should be sorry for her because at every turn, at every opportunity, she prioritised the interests of her own party over the interests of the rest of us. We should be sorry for her because she was brought down by her own intransigence, inflexibility, and inability to come out of the cave where she drew red lines in the dark. Sorry, not sorry.

But most of all, we are told to feel compassion for Theresa May because at the very end of her resignation speech her voice cracked and there were tears in her eyes. Tears for herself. Tears for her own career. Tears for how she will be remembered for what she herself has done. Sorry, but no. The compassion should be reserved for all those whose lives have been blighted by the worst British Prime Minister since the one before, the worst before the one to follow. We’re going to need a lot of compassion, it’s too precious to waste on a self-serving careerist who is the victim of her own arrogant intransigence. We’re all citizens of nowhere in the eyes of Theresa, and we have no sympathy to waste on her.

Theresa is going, her failures have left us in an uncertain and fearful place where we laugh at dairy products being thrown over the demons of our nightmares because the alternative is to weep silently or rage in the darkness. If the best weapon that we have against fascism is a milkshake then we’ve already lost. The UK feels more dangerous, more precarious, than at any time since WW2. The forces of right wing populism are on the rise, facilitated by the failures of that same British political system which told Scotland it was the only guarantee of moderation and stability.

The gurning grinning face of Nigel Farage is never off our screens and when we look at him we see the image of the Conservative party that will follow this Prime Minister. We hear the cries of betrayal, of treason, of traitors, of enemies of the people, of national humiliation. We see the scapegoating of minorities, the migrants, the poor, the disadvantaged, and we know that this never ends well. It ends with a Nicholas Winton and desperate attempts to save a handful of children from the oppressive madness of organised cruelty.

Whoever succeeds Theresa May will be another opportunist who seeks to ride the anger of that Farage has so successfully stoked up, and who will seek to reshape the Conservative party as the party of the Brexit extremists. We’ll soon be getting to the point where it will be easier to list those Tory MPs who aren’t standing for the leadership than those who are. Even no-marks like the Brexcrementalist Steve ‘Bulldoze Parliament into the River’ Baker have said that he is running for leader because he has heard calls for him to get in the race. He must have abysmal hearing. I heard it as “get in the sea”.

Boris Johnson has many critics and opponents amongst Conservative MPs, but he’s the runaway favourite amongst the party membership who will make the final decision. That membership won’t look kindly upon MPs who conspire to block Boris from the final two who will be put to the membership. We’re now facing the very real possiblity of a Prime Minister Boris Johnson and a no deal Brexit, the absolute worst possible scenario.

In 2014 Better Together promised Scotland the best of both worlds if it voted against independence. We’d have stronger, better, safer devolution, combined with the stability and international reputation of the UK. Instead we’re getting a devolution settlement that’s being undermined, a British government which has taken it upon itself to rip up the Scottish Claim of Right, a chaotic and sclerotic political system whose greatest strengths have turned into its biggest weakness, and now we have the frightening prospect of the economic disaster of a no deal Brexit combined with a Prime Minister who openly panders to the worst aspects of right wing English nationalism and who is despised and reviled by European leaders, an international laughing stock. Best of both worlds has turned out to be the threat of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister with a gurning Nigel Farage looking over his shoulder.

And yet we’re asked to show sympathy for a hypocrite who only ever managed to show some emotion for the loss of her own power. Theresa May will go into retirement as a rich woman, she will continue to enjoy a life of privilege. The rest of us face uncertainty, fear, and the prospect of a precarious and meagre existence. If this is the best of both worlds then we must live in a universe of despair.

There has never been a stronger argument for Scottish independence. Independence is no longer something that’s merely desirable, no longer something we need in order to make this country a better place. Scotland needs independence in order to save itself. We need to make that decision, soon. Otherwise our future is as a neglected and discontent northern province of a rampant right wing English nationalist state.

Apologies to everyone who went to the Yes Glasgow and West event in Glasgow today (Saturday 25 May) expecting to see me talk along with Craig Dalzell and Paul Fletcher. Unfortunately I’ve done my back in and couldn’t make it.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free, and for the next ten days Vagabond Voices are doing a special offer, giving you two pounds off the cover price. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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.