Wee Ginger Dugcast – 30 August 2019

In this week’s dugcast, The National’s editor Callum Baird and I discuss the prorogation of Parliament, Ruth Davidson’s resignation, the Shetland byelection, and The National’s special anniversary magazine.


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. 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.

Put that in a graph

putthatinagraph
Ruth Davidson has gone, and the gushing eulogies from clueless people who know the square root of hee haw about Scottish politics are already in full flow. All of them ignore the elephant in the Ruthroom, the fact that the only future her career had left was behind her, and all that lay in front was humiliation and defeat. Her career was always buoyed up by the ignorance of a media establishment which knew nothing about Scotland, and the British establishment in Scotland’s desperate need for a saviour from an independence movement that only grows stronger and more entrenched in Scottish politics with every passing slight from Westminster.

On BBC Newsnight last night, the Tory pundit Iain Dale ruefully predicted that without Ruth at the helm, the Scottish Conservatives were facing the likelihood of electoral wipeout in the snap General Election that is being widely forecast. No Iain. That was going to happen anyway, and it’s one of the main reasons why Ruth has decided to resign now. The very best that she could have done is to assist in the damage limitation exercise.

Although she couched her resignation in terms of wishing to spend more time with her young child, it’s pretty obvious that had her political career and ambitions been going wonderfully, that resignation speech today is one that she would not have made. She would certainly not have made it on the very same day that there’s a Holyrood by-election in Shetland. She was so alienated that she couldn’t even wait until Monday. What a shame for poor Brydon Goodlad, the Tory candidate in Shetland who has “Ruth Davidson’s candidate” plastered all over his electoral leaflets. Well I say “shame”, what I really mean is “ha ha”.

Certain media outlets are falling over themselves to distance Ruth’s resignation from Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s annointment as Conservative leader and his drive for a hard Brexit. This is a damage limitation exercise of their own, a transparent attempt to minimise the political damage that her resignation creates for the British Government and the anti-independence campaign. After all, if the leader of the political party most closely associated with opposition to independence has resigned because she can’t put up with Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his plans for Brexit, why should Scotland have to put up with it? So I believe the protestations that Ruth’s resignation had nothing to do with Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson in the exact same way that I believe Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s claim that his decision to prorogue Parliament had nothing to do with silencing MPs and depriving them of the opportunity to scupper his Brexit plans.

For the independence movement, the downside of losing Ruth as leader of the Tories is that we can now expect her to embark on a career on a telly studio sofa somewhere. And when the next Scottish independence referendum campaign starts officially, we can certainly expect some Ruthterventions. That’s something we can live with. However the inescapable fact for the Scotland in Union brigade is that their golden girl has resigned because even she can see that what the British government is proposing for the UK and for Scotland is damaging, unsupportable, and untenable. Put that in a graph.

Ross Thomson issued a statement about Ruth’s resignation. It was the sort of statement that made you go “Aaaawww … bless” as you realised that Ross actually thinks that people care about what he’s got to say. Of course nowhere in the statement did Ross display the slightest recognition that his constant undermining of Ruth’s authority with his support for a hard Brexit and his embarrassing behaviour might just have played a role in leading to her decision to resign. But then if he possessed that degree of self-awareness he’d never have put out a statement in the first place.

The question now for opponents of Scottish independence is who is going to lead the Tories in Scotland, and even more importantly, who is going to front the naw campaign in a second Scottish independence referendum.

I strongly suspect, although it’s the last thing that she would have wanted to mention, that one of the factors leading to Ruth’s resignation was the prospect of heading a losing No campaign in another independence referendum. Brexit made Ruth’s personal position untenable. She’d have been leading a No campaign which sought to keep Scotland out of the EU along with the rest of the UK, and all the while Yes campaigners would have been throwing back ever pro-EU comment she’s ever made in her face. She’d go into the history books as the Unionist who broke the Union, the woman who led the British state into its greatest defeat in Scotland.

Those of us who support independence have criticised Ruth – correctly – as a media construct. She was always bereft of political substance, her biggest strength was that she knew how to manipulate a British media in Scotland that was desperately in search of a Saviour of the Union after the Labour party crashed and burned. Her close ties to the media in Scotland were instrumental in raising her profile and building her up into the figure she became. She gave good photo ops, and that played well with the press. Her successor will not enjoy that same relationship, and will struggle to build the same media and public profile. That will be especially true if, as is likely to be the case, her successor is a middle class white man who is very much in the Tory patrician mould. That’s the kind of person who will struggle to appeal beyond the traditional base of Conservative support in Scotland.

Ruth Davidson may have presented a new modern image of liberal Conservatism, but she led a party that was and is still full of unreconstructed sectarian bigots, racists, and extremists. Their new leader will be drawn from those ranks. Her resignation will only have emboldened those extreme elements which she herself did nothing to quash or to distance herself from. The Tories have killed themselves with Brexit, and they’ve destroyed any chances that they ever had of keeping Scotland within the UK. They only have themselves to blame.

There’s very little that’s predictable in politics these days. As I write this we are still waiting to hear the decision from the court case in Edinburgh where anti-Brexit politicians are seeking a ruling that the UK Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament is illegal. A decision is due tomorrow morning. The plaintiffs, led by the SNP’s estimable Joanna Cherry, are arguing that the British Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament runs contrary to the Scots legal doctrine that Scotland is a legally limited monarchy, and that the power of the crown cannot be used “in violation of the kingdom”. That distinct Scots legal tradition was maintained and enshrined in the Treaty of Union of 1707, it was not superceded or abolished by it.

Should the court rule that Scots law has indeed been broken by the British Government, it will only strengthen the resolve of that large section of the Conservative party in the rest of the UK that it would accept Scottish independence as the price of forcing through Brexit. A Scotland that is seen to stand in the way of Brexit will unleash howls of outrage from the English nationalism which is the motive force of this current government.

Ruth Davidson has stood down because her single policy was to say No to independence, yet she’s faced with a British government which has only fuelled the need and appetite for it. She has belatedly realised that she was leading a party which is the unwitting midwife of Scottish independence.


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. 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 end game

endgame
It’s going well isn’t it? So much for the puffery that claimed that Ruth Davidson was bidding to become the next First Minister. The erstwhile leader of the Ruth Davidson’s Vote Ruth Davidson for More Ruth Davidson party is going the same way as all the other Saviours of the Union, unable even to save her own career. She’s on the verge of proroguing herself indefinitely. I always believed that the UK would come to an end not because of the actions of the SNP or the Scottish independence movement, but because of the failures of the forces of Scottish Unionism and because of English nationalism. I just never expected them to be so enthusiastic about it.

It is claimed that Ruth’s resignation is not directly related to today’s decision from Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson to suspend Parliament in order to ram though that no-deal Brexit that he doesn’t have the votes for. Aye. Right. That is true in exactly the same way as it is true that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson swears blind that he’s really progroguing Parliament in order to introduce new legislation about education in England, funding for the polis, and transport infrastructure. We’ll get round to believing that just as soon as we’ve picked our brains up from off the floor, replaced them in our craniums, and done up the buttons at the back of our heads.

A snap YouGov poll carried out on Wednesday found that only 27% of the UK public support the Government’s decision to suspend Parliament. In Scotland that figure drops to 17%. Although the BBC still managed to find one of them for a vox pop on Reporting Scotland. That figure means that a sizeable chunk of those who voted Tory in Scotland in 2017 disagree with the decision and sounds the end of any hopes of the party maintaining its ground in the snap general election that is increasingly likely in the not too distant future. The Golden Girl of the Scottish press doesn’t want to be at the helm when the ship of the Scottish Conservatives doesn’t merely hit the rocks, but it shatters into a thousand pieces and sinks to the bottom of a very deep trench.

It would be exceptionally peculiar timing if there were no direct causation between the respective decisions of the Abandoned Mattress Fire in Downing Street and the darling of the Scottish Press. It means that Ruth will be making a statement about her future as Scottish Tory leader on the very same day as a Holyrood by-election in Shetland. That’s a great look for a Tory candidate, discovering that not even his party leader can support their own party. Of course the Tories were always going to get pumped in Shetland anyway, but this is a casual disregard for even the basic niceties of party leadership. That tells you something about just how hacked off Ruth is.

The resignation will of course be reported by the likes of The Guardian as an honourable move by a politician who had had a great future ahead of her. But that’s only because the English press fails to understand the realities of Scottish politics and never truly appreciated that even when she was still the Golden Girl Ruth Davidson had as much chance of becoming the next First Minister as Ross Thomson does of correctly identifying things that you can legitimately grab onto to stop yourself falling over when you’re pished. Allegedly. In Scottish terms, her position had become untenable. In the wider Conservative party she’d fallen from grace, the least popular politician amongst Conservative party members in the UK as a whole.

The moment that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson ignored her advice to keep Fluffy Mundell in office, it was clear that Ruth Davidson had lost her sole selling point in Scotland – her supposed influence on the Conservative government in Westminster. It was just one in a series of wounds to her carefully cultivated reputation, a puffed up balloon that started to deflate when those MPs elected as representatives of the Ruth Davidson’s Vote Ruth Davidson for More Ruth Davidson party so publicly refused to toe her line on Brexit. This Prime Minister has signalled the death knell for Scottish Unionism as a political force in its own right and with its own interests. There’s no place for Ruth Davidson in this new political landscape. There’s only a place for a Scotland that’s quiet, obedient, subordinate and submissive.

Ruth Davidson had hoped she could leave before she was found out. It’s a bit too late for that. The failures of Scottish Unionism as a political philosophy are laid bare. There’s nothing left now but the Cringe. And if that’s all that’s left, there’s nothing left for Scotland in the UK. There are no positive arguments to be had, there’s only fear, negativity, and self-doubt.

Reports that Ruth has had enough and is about the resign signal something important for the opposition to Scottish independence. It means that attempts to put a fresh modern face on Scottish Unionism have failed. You can after all only get so far with cheeky photo ops while perched on the back of a buffalo. Strip that away and underneath lurks the same nasty intransigence, the same pursed lipped nawbaggery, the same contempt. The true face of Scottish Conservativism is the patrician disdain of Alister Who He Posho, who is the living embodiment of the saying that every silver lining has its cloud.

This is the last bastion of One Nation Conservatism giving up the struggle, and the Tories in London giving up on Scotland as a lost cause as they transform themselves into an openly English nationalist party. When even the face of opposition to Scottish independence can’t support her own party leader in Westminster, we are in the end game for this so-called union.

The British establishment in Scotland has just lost their latest Saviour of the Union. Ruth has gone the same way as Kezia, who went the same way as Jim Murphy before her. Chris Deerin and Kenny Farquharson are desperately in need of a new one. Step forward Jo Fracking Swinson, and we can see how long you last before you crack under the pressure.


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. 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.

Predictable things

hidingruth
A Prime Minister who wasn’t elected, ramming through a policy that we voted against. Now every remain voter in the UK knows what it feels like to be Scottish. Remember how we were assured in 2014 that the UK was one of the strongest and oldest democracies in the world? With Alexander Boris de Pfeffel’s outrageous decision to shut down that Parliament whose sovereignty Brexit was supposed to enhance we have yet another Better Together promise that has bitten the dust.

The carefully and deliberately tousled one is going to ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament early in September, in a move calculated to reduce the amount of time available to MPs to plot to prevent a no deal Brexit. It was always predictable that a man who has lied all the way through his career in order to advance himself would have no compunction about trashing democratic safeguards in order to get his own way.

Let’s be quite clear here, there is no mandate for a no deal Brexit. All the way through the EU referendum campaign, those campaigning for leave assured us all about how easy it would be to get a deal. Leaving with no deal was never a serious option. Now it’s the only option that the Brextremists will accept. We’re being taken out of the EU in a manner that was never proposed, on the back of a referendum that was won with dark money, lies, and illegality.  The only good thing about a no deal Brexit happening is that then the SNP leadership can stop focussing on preventing Brexit and start focussing on independence.

This is a very dark day for what passes for democracy in this dysfunctional disunited kingdom. There are those who say that it’s only a few days which Parliament will be deprived of, so no biggie. Or that this is simply the normal workings of British democracy. Which may be true, but is scarcely an argument for its acceptability. Parliament is being suspended at a time of immense crisis for the UK, precisely so that a small group of ideologues can drive through a policy which will enrich only disaster capitalists and which will wreak huge damage to everyone else. Even the Speaker of the House of Commons has described it as a “constitutional outrage”. Usually when Parliament is prorogued before a Queen’s Speech, the suspension last for just a few days. This is five weeks. The only reason for doing so is to get Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson out of the political difficulties he finds himself in because he heads a minority administration made up of a party full of rebels. Even with the DUP’s support he’s got a majority of just one.

However the real issue here is that the prorogation introduced a vital new obstacle to preventing a no deal. Any pending legislation which has not been completed before prorogation will fall. This means that MPs would either have to pass legislation against no deal in its entirety before prorogation, or in the three weeks during which Parliament will sit between October 14 and 31, a substantial chunk of which will be taken up with the Queen’s speech, the opening of Parliament, and the days of debate which that entails.

Johnson not only wants to prevent the House of Commons from passing any measures to prevent a no-deal crash out from the EU, he also seeks to ensure that should MPs pass a motion of no-confidence in his autocracy then there will be no parliament in session to block no-deal. It is a move which is breath-taking in its contempt for the basic structures of the UK’s ramshackle constitution and illustrates that British democracy is unfit for purpose. British democracy is a contradiction in terms. Never has the need for a written constitution which places constraints on the powers of the executive branch of government been clearer. Never has the UK been further away from getting one.

If the British Government is prepared to close down the House of Commons in order to ram through a no deal Brexit, it’s no longer unthinkable that it would also be prepared to suspend Holyrood. Today’s worrying developments highlight what those of us who support Scottish independence have been saying for many years. The independence debate is not a debate about GERS figures. It’s not a debate about the price of oil. It’s not a debate about pretty graphs that show how poorly Scotland performs within the UK and claims to extrapolate that to an independent country. Those are all distractions from the nub of the argument.

Fundamentally this is a debate about democracy. It’s a debate about the ability to hold governments to account. It’s a debate about ensuring that Scotland gets a government that it votes for. It’s a debate about making sure that the only people who get to decide that path that Scotland takes are the people of Scotland and a government that is elected by them alone and is responsible to them alone, a government which is constrained by a written constitution which sets out the limits of its power. That’s the only way that we can protect ourselves from the likes of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his hijacking of democracy.

And in other news about entirely predictable developments, Ruth Davidson has been suspiciously quiet, as you might expect when her Westminster colleagues do something that’s as popular in Scotland as a plague of wasps at a nudist picnic. The prorogation of Parliament might be an unprecedented constitutional travesty, but Ruth Davidson prorogues herself on a regular basis. This would be that same Ruth Davidson who accused Nicola Sturgeon of hiding the other week when Nicola went to Shetland instead of sticking around in Edinburgh for the annual red white and blue GERSfest.

The Channel 4 news reporter Ciaran Jenkins tweeted, “Ruth Davidson is not doing interviews today.” The word today being pretty much superfluous in that statement. Ruth never does interviews when Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson does things which make the need for another independence referendum all the more urgent. Which these days means that she never does interviews on any day whose name ends with a Y. The only thing more predictable than Ruth Davidson hiding from scrutiny when Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson does things which make the need for another independence referendum all the more urgent is the British media in Scotland colluding in letting her get away with it. Other senior Scottish Tories are equally absent.

Meanwhile Alister Who He Posho Jack, our new governor general, also cancelled a planned interview today. Fancy that. Instead he took some very brief questions, restricting each reporter to one question each. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the Scottish Tories vanished from our public life as quickly as they vanished from the press when there are difficult questions in need of answers. Let’s hope there’s an early General Election, and then we can make that happen.

The British constitution is unfit for democracy. We need a Scottish one. Let’s make that happen too.


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. 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.

Wee Ginger Kittens …

A guest post by Jason Baird of the IndyApp

A few months ago the following kitten GIF was posted to a twitter thread discussing self-
organisation among the local YES groups – it was posted by a big Yesser and killed the discussion stone dead!GIF 1

Like a brilliant tabloid headline, those kittens seemed to hit the nail right on the head for a lot of people. By confirming and then crystallising certain preconceived ideas, every entertaining kitten retweet that followed light-heartedly bludgeoned the credibility of the possible alternatives… and the twitter argument was over.

That GIF really got me thinking because it seems to perfectly encapsulate a potentially damaging view of the Yes groups commonly held within parts of the movement, and even by some grassroots activists themselves. It’s a debilitating stereotype that misunderstands the autonomy of local indy groups and paints them all as unleadable and without order. So, let me use the same Gif to explain why those preconceived ideas are so wrong.

First, I’d like to start by pointing out that the power of the kittens GIF lies in the fact that there is a very large element of truth to it. The autonomous groups are in many ways like kittens in sheer single-mindedness and fierce individualism. However, the old tabloid trick used here is to powerfully identify universally-acknowledged truths, and then apply them as proof to an unrelated proposition.

In this case the implication is: single-mindedness and fierce individualism of the YES groups (an acknowledged truth) makes self-organisation, enlightened self-interest and working together on shared goals impossible. At best this is an unproven proposition, and if believed, at worst a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So, let’s take a closer look at those kittens again:
GIF 1

Aww, lovely… and yes, in some ways the kittens are a very good representation of the indy groups, and the Yes movement in general. They are autonomous, inquisitive and playful, but with a real hunter’s instinct. They are also too, too cute and loved by all – when not being annoying 😉

However, to equate this particular GIF to the grassroots is to fundamentally misunderstand the psychology of the autonomous groups and, just as importantly, the kittens. What we see here are the legs and disembodied hands of an increasingly frustrated external force attempting to impose their will on the kittens. ‘Line up, damn yous!’ These arms and legs do not represent organisation: they represent top-down organisation.

Big hint: Autonomous groups (and kittens) do not respond well to top-down!

This is why political parties, and the more centrally organised institutions of the YES movement, find working with grassroots groups (as a collective) such a frustrating experience. It’s not a criticism, but whenever a Yes institution (or political party) attempts to organise the groups, they will always be seen, in one way or another, as attempting to line up the kittens to their own organisational requirements, and no matter how sensible those requirements may seem to be, from a Yes organisational point of view, the kittens (as a collective) have shown themselves simply uninterested.

This frustrating experience has led many thinkers and activists from the more ‘traditionally organised’ side of the movement, to conclude that any practical organisation of the local groups is therefore, in itself , somehow impossible. That’s the message being cleverly reinforced by the GIF but fortunately it’s a damaging message that is simply NOT true. What is true however, and what it should be used to underline, is the frustration felt by all those still trying (and failing) to organise the groups from above.

So, with all that in mind, let’s imagine our own alternative kittens GIF … One with all the kittens doing their own thing – some on the floor, some on the table, some under the couch, some on top of the couch – all doing what interests them most. Then, instead of
disembodied hands trying to place them all in a line, we have a large bowl of milk placed on the ground. Soon, mysteriously (not), you see every kitten in the room happily and intently engaged in the same thing, lapping away at the edge of the bowl. No need for guidance, persuasion or even disembodied hands.
GIF 2

This bowl of milk represents official referendum campaigning. THAT is what brings the autonomous groups together, and it’s the wide and varied local interests of those groups, developed before the bowl of milk is put down, that gives the YES movement it’s incredibly frustrating, but powerfully decentralised, campaigning abilities.

Big hint 2: Yes grassroots only gains its full power when the movement is focussed by an official IndyRef campaign. Disembodied hands from above are not required to keep our eyes on that prize!
GIF 3

During the last referendum we had plenty of kittens; our big problem was that we only had a small, but very deep, bowl for the milk – in the form of our centralised Yes HQ. Only a few kittens got fed, there was mayhem as they tried to get their share of the milk and there was frustration, disappointment and inaction from all those wanting to participate but couldn’t see over the feeding scrum, never mind get to the bowl!

Our job as a movement, and what the NYR IndyApp platform has been designed to help do, is to enable a large enough pro-Indy organisational bowl to be created before the next IndyRef campaign is called – a bowl that gives every kitten more than enough access to their own share of campaign milk. They can drink their milk however they like. Some will be dainty, some will get it all over their faces and inevitably some will even climb into the bowl! The mess will not matter, because some kittens will want to lick their milk off the faces of friends, and even those kittens that climb in the bowl will serve as a warning to others not to be so daft. The important point is that it is the kittens
that must decide how they drink.

As I hope this article has shown, leadership from above is NOT the intuitive model Yes communities formed themselves around when fighting IndyRef1 and it’s NOT the organisational model that evolved within the local groups themselves. So, how can the grassroots groups themselves crack the organisational nut to ensure all kittens get their milk during IndyRef2*

From our experience of Yes shop campaigning during IndyRef1 and years of local meetings, opendiscussions, listening and holding National Gatherings, what has emerged from the groups themselves is a desire to come together as a community of autonomous groups and create their own collective structures, for their own organisational needs. That is the collective will that the National Yes Registry (NYR) is focused on encouraging, and it’s that ‘community of autonomous groups’ that the IndyApp platform has been built to help practically facilitate.

Next Step: Now that the IndyApp platform is ready, the NYR are holding a national training weekend for all local Group Editors and interested group members. It will be held at The Station Hotel in Perth over 21/22 September 2019, 160+ training places available with overnight accommodation for 100.

After holding successful test events, we have an interactive training process that practically takes folk through all the shared platform functions needed to allow that community of local Indy groups to form.

Timing: Our aim is to cascade platform readiness across all groups and synchronize IndyApp training with the timing of the Scottish Government’s own IndyRef legislation, going through Holyrood and scheduled for completion by Christmas.

The Strategy: Once we are properly networked and local groups are able to respond to enquiries from the public, we can all focus on expanding IndyApp membership out to as many Yes supporters as we possibly can. From that solid base we can begin to get many, many more Yessers actively involved in practical campaigning. This training weekend is about building the grassroot networks that Yes will need to be ready for action the moment IndyRef2 gets called. Only the groups can organise themselves like this and only active group members can lead the process.

Open Invite: ALL groups are very welcome, whither registered on the IndyApp platform or not. To ensure you and your group are a part of this important training weekend, please book your places here …

https://nationalyesregistry.scot/perth-training-weekend/

Bookings are going well but each place at the Perth weekend is heavily subsidised in order to keep attendance affordable and open to all. This means that the training weekend is dependent on the success of our crowdfund. The full venue costs must be paid by the 1 st of September and so the crowdfund end date is less than a week away! At time of printing we are at 22% of our target, so if you like what we are trying to do, please click on the link, read more about it and perhaps drop something in our bucket to help make it happen.

https://nationalyesregistry.scot/crowdfunding/

*I think the kitten analogy is now at its limits, but I will be lurking below the line for anyone who wants to continue stretching it 😉

GIF 4

The smell of panic

panic
There’s a strong smell of panic in the Brit-Scot establishment just now. Things have got so bad for opponents of independence and their desperate attempts to forestall an independence referendum that the SNP is even giving the Lib Dems a run for their money in the Shetland by-election. That’s like a leafy suburb in the Home Counties returning extremely promising canvassing results for Jeremy Corbyn. Shetland was the safest constituency seat in the whole of Scotland, and Shetland is – as we’re always being told by opponents of independence – so opposed to Scottish independence that it will secede from an independent Scotland in order to remain a part of the UK. Yet here we are with the SNP with at best a real chance of taking the seat, or at worst making a serious dent in the Lib Dem majority. If the forces of Scottish independence are on the metaphorical march in Shetland, nowhere is safe for British nationalism.

The crisis of confidence amongst a bunch of people who have hitherto been most notable for their arrogance is scarcely surprising. Lumbered as we all are with a lying Prime Minister who has just been caught telling pork pies about actual pork pies, a looming national crisis, and a resentful Scotland which is being dragged out of the EU against its will, it’s very difficult to put a positive spin on Scotland remaining a part of the UK at the moment. Search amongst opponents of independence for their vision for a better Scotland that’s a part of the UK and you will search in vain. All that you will uncover are a lot of angry narrow nationalists asserting their hatred of nationalism, while they’re proud-Scot-butting the same old threats and scare stories from 2014. But now thanks to the British government itself, those scare stories have lost much of their original force.

You can only get so far with frightening the kiddies about a deficit when a British government report is warning about possible food, fuel, and medicine shortages in the UK following Brexit. There’s not a lot of mileage in terrifying pensioners about their pensions when a think tank close to the British government is airing a plan to raise the state pension age to 75. The scare story that an independent Scotland won’t be allowed back into the EU loses a great deal of its force when you’re being told it by supporters of a UK which is hell bent on taking Scotland out of the EU.

There is very little left in the anti-independence armoury. All the while there’s a groundswell in support for independence amongst former No voters who are repelled by the yawning chasm between the UK that they were promised that Scotland would be a part of, and the tawdry reality that has been delivered. And Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. When it does, thousands of Scots will be confronted with a choice forced upon them by the UK between Europe or the UK. There’s no guarantee that they’re going to choose the UK, especially not given the casual disdain with which the British government has treated Scottish concerns about Brexit, especially not when they can contrast it with the respect with which the EU has treated Ireland. Claims that Scotland is a respected member of a precious union ring hollow, and that’s thanks to the behaviour of the British government and its ruling party.

The Brit-Scot panic is created in no small measure by the dawning realisation that they have brought all this upon themselves. Had the main UK parties actually ensured that the promises and commitments made to Scotland in 2014 had been kept, then we wouldn’t be in this position just now. Had the British government paid as much heed to the concerns of Scotland following the Brexit vote as the EU has paid to Ireland, there would be no upsurge in support for independence and no talk of another referendum. This current constitutional mess is owned by, created by, and the property of the anti-independence parties themselves. They are plummeting to their doom. Now they’d love to tell you that times of crisis like this clear the mind, that they laugh in the face of adversity, that it only gives them greater confidence in their ability to survive and to thrive. The truth is that the only thing that’s going through their collective mind is “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaggggghhhhh!”

We see the panic in an article written by Ed Davey of the Lib Dems in the Independent, pleading with people in England to put the unity of the UK before Brexit and to join together to reject the reckless English nationalism that’s turning its back on Europe. But he doesn’t actually have any concrete proposals other than a romantic and nostalgic appeal to a British past, and he certainly doesn’t propose any measures for Scotland and Northern Ireland that might allow them to protect themselves from that English nationalism that he decries.

We see the panic in an article by the former editor of the Scotsman, Magnus Linklater, in the Times, in which he bemoans the number of previous No voters who would now vote for independence in a future referendum. He was shaken by the number at an event in Edinburgh for the Festival who voted No in 2014 but plan to vote for independence next time, or who are now undecided. He claims that they are lost to reason and rational argument, but what he really means is that they’re no longer listening to the lies and deceit, the contempt and disdain, that has characterised the British government’s handling of Scotland. What Magnus forgets is that rational argument only works when those delivering it has a proven history of acting honourably and truthfully. That ship sailed the morning after the Scottish referendum when David Cameron told us all that it had really been about England all along, and announced English Votes for English Laws.

We see the panic in yet another Broontervention, as the Gordosaur accused the SNP of “hardline separatism” and attempted yet again to conjure up the federalism fairy. Hardline, because the SNP are now no longer pursuing the currency union that Gordie had ruled out the last time. He says no, and then blames the SNP for believing him. Nowhere in his speech was there the slightest recognition that if he himself had done what he’d promised to do, and had stuck around to ensure that the other party leaders would abide by the promises he told Scotland that he’d got them to agree to, if he’d ensured the delivery of that federalism that he’d promised in 2014, then he wouldn’t need to be Broontervening now and still trying to conjure up a federalism fairy that’s deader than Ross Thomson’s prospects of reelection. But then there never is. Gordie doesn’t do self-awareness any more than he does keeping his promises.

The panic is rising because opponents of independence in Scotland simply have no idea how to respond to the growth of English nationalism and how to deal with it. They have no answers, no solutions. All that they can do is to cross their fingers and hope that the genie that Brexit allowed out of its lamp will go back of its own volition. It’s like we’re living in the last week of the independence referendum campaign of 2014, and already they’re at a fever pitch of panic and alarm. It’s not sustainable, and they know it. Eventually you shriek at such a high pitch that the human ear no longer registers it. Magnus realised that for many, that point has already been reached. He doesn’t know what to do about it.

The panic is rising because it’s becoming increasingly likely that there’s going to be a snap UK General Election. All the polls point to a resurgent SNP that’s going to take seats from Labour and the Conservatives. In fact, both the Conservatives and Labour are facing the very real prospect of electoral annihilation. That’s going to make it extremely difficult for the proud-Scots-but to maintain the line that Scotland doesn’t want another independence referendum. The electoral landscape of Scotland will change drastically, and not in a way that’s beneficial to those who don’t want another independence referendum. The smell of Brit-Scot panic is the smell of a better Scotland that’s about to be born.


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. 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.

A million to one

moviescript
Once we get into the mind of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, and let’s be honest that’s not too difficult because there is plenty of room, we see that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is the hero in the movie of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel’s life, and he’s chosen to embark upon a crusade against the Germans and their Anschluss of the sunloungers because it gets him the attention that he craves with the Daily Mail and the Telegraph.

In the Discworld series of novels by the late great Terry Pratchett, anything that was described as having “a million to one chance” of succeeding was pretty much nailed on, as long as it was exactly a million to one chance, and not say 999,999 to one, or 1,000,001 to one. This is because whenever a hero in a war movie or a sci fi movie cries out there’s only a million to one chance of blowing up the Nazis or inserting a virus into the mainframe of the Klingon battleship’s computer, they invariably succeed because in the movie it’s always exactly a million to one. It’s the magical power of narrative.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson obviously fancies himself as an all powerful and all seeing Lord Vetinari and not as the Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler, purveyor of dubious meat-esque pies, that he really is. During the Conservative leadership contest he claimed that the chances of a no deal Brexit were a million to one. He clearly meant that it was – in his estimation – exactly a million to one, and not 999,999 to one, or 1,000,001 to one. As we’ve seen he is the hero in the movie of his own life, and the rest of us are at best supporting players. You or I get to be the guy in the red shirt who gets eaten by the rapacious Lizard people of Brexitron Prime immediately upon beaming down to the planet’s surface, or the plucky Scot who is shot in the guts as the collateral damage sacrifice that saves Our Hero’s life. In other words, by claiming a no deal Brexit was a million to one, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was saying that he was pretty much convinced that it was a slam dunk. Or since this is a post no-deal Brexit UK we’re talking about here, a dank slum.

It was revealed in the Observer newspaper today (Sunday) that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson has sought legal advice on closing down Parliament for the five weeks leading up to Brexit day on 31 October. It’s only by avoiding Parliamentary scrutiny that he can be certain that he gets his own way. This is the Parliament whose sovereignty we were told was going to be restored by Brexit, that Parliament. But apparently only it’s only to be sovereign as long as it doesn’t get in the way of the disaster capitalists and tax avoiders who are driving Brexit. In Brexit Britain the UK Parliament possesses sovereignty, but only in the same way that a meat pie from Cut Me Own Throat Dibbler possesses meat.

Also on Sunday, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson was telling the press at the G7 summit in Biarritz that in the event of a no deal Brexit the UK would get to keep the £39 billion which is owes the EU. This is despite the fact that a large wodge of this money is in fact owed for past commitments, and the UK has legal obligations to pay it. The comment is only going to annoy the EU even more than it’s already annoyed, but that’s precisely why it was uttered by the British Prime Minster – and it’s still hard to write those words in a sentence that also contains the words Boris and Johnson without a cold shiver running down the spine and ending up as a feeling of nausea in the pit of one’s stomach. It’s not really that this government is thinking outside the box, as there is no box and there’s precious little thinking.

It’s as obvious as the artifice with which Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson contructs his clownish Boris persona that the aim here is to put the blame for the disruption that a no deal Brexit will create on the EU and remainers MPs. “It all depends on our EU friends and partners, ” he told the BBC. The Withdrawal Agreement is dead, he told Sky News. He has nothing to replace the deal, and he doesn’t want anything to replace it. The possibility of shortages of food, fuel, and medicines are just “bumps in the road” in the heroic movie of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s life. Never have so many sacrificed so much to the sense of entitlement of so few.

Despite the headlines in the Conservative press, nothing has really changed since Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson got the starring role that he’s craved all his life. The EU remains opposed to any renegotiation of the deal. It remains as committed as it ever was to the Irish backstop. And once the UK does crash out of the EU without a deal, it will demand that the money owed to the EU is paid in full, and the open nature of the Irish border is respected before it agrees to any trade deal with the UK. The only difference will be that the UK, which already has a poor hand, will be negotiating from a position of abject weakness.

The truth which Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson doesn’t want written into the script of his movie is that no deal is not a final destination. One way or another there will be a deal. It can either be a deal that the UK reaches with the EU before it leaves the EU, or it can be one forged in the panic and mess of a no-deal crash out. The only certainty in this movie script is that we’ll get to be the plucky working class Scots who are sacrificed in order to save the public schoolboy hero. There’s exactly a million to one chance of that.


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. 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.