The Great British whoopee cushion

safetyandsecurity
Politics, like every other specialism, has its suite of technical terminology. For example there’s the sovereignty of crown in parliament, briefing paper, acquis, reserved matter, universal sufferage. To these terms we can now add another, AAAAIIIIEEEEWWWW!!!! This is the screaming sound we’ll all make when Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson takes us all over the Brexit cliff. The scream will shortly be followed by a splat that lasts for many, many, months, the sound the UK’s balloon of grandiose imperial nostalgia trip crashing onto the rocks of reality, where it will deflate like a whoopee cushion farting out the blame for its demise upon the EU, remainer MPs for not believing in Britain, Scots for being ungrateful, foreigners, and the Irish.

Over the weekend, a leaked government report was published. Called Operation Yellowhammer, it details the government’s contingency planning for a no deal Brexit. It makes for sobering reading, it’s more dire than Ruth Davidson’s electoral prospects in a snap general election. The government itself believes that there is a very real possibility of food, fuel, and medicine shortages, at least three months of chaos at ports, thousands of job losses, and the potential for serious civil unrest. It also predicts the inevitable hard border with Ireland, and the consequent risk to the peace process which that development entails. There’s taking back control for you.

Despite this, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is pressing on regardless. It’s all just a minor bump in the road to the sunny uplands populated by unicorns and never-ending cherry cake. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and his pals with their strangulated vowels and expensively purchased sense of entitlement will be protected by their wealth, and are looking forward to reaping in even more profit from the disaster that they’re creating. They’ll be fine, and since they’re the only people whose needs matter in what passes for a democracy, there’s really nothing to worry about. Now tug that forelock and doff your cap, hairy legged Caledonian peasant, there are grouse to be beaten. Look, there’s that nice Ruth Davidson doing a photo op on the back of a castrated Highland bullock and telling you that you don’t want another referendum. Oh wait. No. She’s in hiding again. If you live in a forest in Aberdeenshire, check your shed.

Today Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is off to Cornwall, to visit a hospital full of people sick to the back teeth of Brexit. He’s got talks planned later this week with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, and he expressed the hope that they’d compromise. By which he meant cave in to everything that the UK wants, the unicorns, the neverending cake with the cherry, and all the rest. And if they don’t give Britain the exceptionalism which is rightfully the UK’s, then it will only prove that bloody foreigners can’t be trusted and it will all be their fault when Brexit goes wrong. Statesmanship these days is essentially an exercise in blame-shifting, like pass the parcel with a bag of dog shit that’s primed to explode.

This is what an actual bona fide constitutional crisis looks like. How’s that safety, security and stability of the UK working out for everyone? Meanwhile our MPs are still on holiday, despite calls from a cross party group of over 100 of them for Parliament to be recalled. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is not disposed to listen to them. The less time Parliament is in session, the harder it will be for the remain majority in the Commons to block a no deal Brexit and the harder it will be for them to bring down his government before 31 October. Never has Halloween been so scary. This year it promises to unleash real demons.

The real problem here is that although Parliament can agree what it doesn’t want, it can’t agree on what it does want. It doesn’t want a no-deal Brexit, but can’t agree on a deal, can’t agree on revoking Article 50, and can’t agree on a solution to the Irish border question. It certainly can’t agree on who it wants to lead a caretaker government. The Lib Dems claim to be the party of remain, but the one thing that Jo Swinson wants less than Brexit is to see Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10, even if it’s only for a very limited period of time.

It has even been suggested that should the Commons succeed in passing a motion of no confidence in Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s government, that our PM with his fine line in racist stereotyping and lies about the EU might delay calling a General Election until after Brexit has happened. Although he’s obliged by law to call a General Election should the opposition fail to find majority support for a replacement government within two weeks of a successful motion of no confidence, the law is vague about when exactly that election needs to take place. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson could simply barricade himself into Number 10 Downing Street and refuse to budge.

Is this the UK that Scotland was sold in 2014? This is a place of chaos, confusion. It’s a government led by ideologues who treat the people with contempt, where kindness is a weakness and compassion is a sin. Just this week we saw that there are calls from a right wing think tank to raise the retirement age to 75. This is a think tank led by Iain Duncan Smith. It calls itself the Centre for Social Justice, which is a bit like North Korea calling itself a democracy. It has the ear of the Brextremists who now lead the British government. We also learned that the Home Secretary Priti Patel plans to end freedom of movement on day one of Brexit, irrespective of the problems that this will create for travel, or even worse for EU citizens living in the UK or UK citizens living in EU states. All can be sacrificed on the altar of Brexit.

Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn made his big Brexit speech, promising vagueness. He said there would be another referendum on the EU, but didn’t say whether Labour would officially back remain. He didn’t rule out the Labour party remaining neutral in that referendum. He attacked Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson for his poshness and his wealth, for the way that he governs in the interests of the rich, but without a firm stance of his own on the most pressing issue of the day, he’s only likely to be steamrollered by a Brexit PM who blames the EU for all the UK’s ills and who knows how to deliver a clear message – even if that message is a lie.

Notably, Jeremy’s speech didn’t contain a single mention of Scotland. Our future is being decided by people for whom our existence scarcely registers. That’s the reality of being an equal partner in what we’re always told is the most successful union of nations that the world has ever seen. However there is one question that Brexit has answered clearly and resoundingly, and that is successful for whom? This most successful union of nations isn’t successful for Scotland. It’s successful for the Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnsons, the Etonians, the disaster capitalists, those who rip the social safety net away from the poor, the hard faced, and the cruel, the wealthy, and the well connected.


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.

Questions of identity

passports

For most people who support the idea of Scottish independence, it’s not about identity. Even for those who do prize a Scottish identity, that Scottish identity is not usually an ethnic one. Scottishness is a state of mind. It’s about where you live and how you choose to identify rather than being about where your parents or your ancestors came from. You could say that the difference between the civic nationalism espoused by the great majority of Scottish independence supporters and ethnic nationalism is that the first is about the future, the second is about the past.

Scottish identities are complex and multilayered. A minority of people in Scotland feel British first and Scottish second. A larger group feels Scottish first and British second. Another large group feels Scottish but not British at all. And there’s a segment which feels British but not Scottish. Scottish independence will not force an identity on anyone. Those who identify as British will still be British. Those who choose to travel on a British passport will still be free to do so.

This doesn’t mean that you will have to have a British passport following Scottish independence. It means that you can choose to retain one if indeed being British is important to your identity and how you define yourself. It’s just that independence will also give those of us who’d prefer a Scottish passport the option of getting one. Following Brexit, a Scottish passport will be far more likely to offer the freedom to move and settle anywhere in Europe than a British one will. You could even have both passports, should you choose. Most countries recognise dual citizenship, Scotland will be no different.

Back during the 2014 referendum campaign Magrit Curran – remember her? – went on the tellybox for an interview. The then Shadow Scotland Secretary bewailed how a Yes result in the referendum would make her children foreigners to her because they live in London. The interviewer nodded sympathetically. The trauma. The horror. But had the interviewer being doing their job properly, they would have remarked that Magrit was factually incorrect. Her kids would not become foreigners to her following Scottish independence.

In just about every country in the world, the offspring of citizens are entitled to citizenship through their parents. The children of a Scottish citizen, especially children who were themselves born in Scotland but who later moved to London, would naturally have the right to Scottish citizenship. Magrit’s weans wouldn’t be foreigners to her, because following independence they would like her have the right to claim Scottish citizenship.

But Magrit’s weans wouldn’t be foreigners to her because Magrit would also be entitled to retain British citizenship. Back in 2014, the British government confirmed that it had no plans to change its citizenship laws should Scotland become independent. Changing the laws about British citizenship following independence would mean stripping the likes of Michael Gove and Liam Fox of their British passports. Can you see them voting for that? No, neither can I.

What the current British citizenship laws mean is that everyone who is currently a UK citizen who lives in Scotland, or UK citizens who were born in Scotland but who now live elsewhere, would still have the right to British citizenship following an independence referendum. And so would their children. In order to qualify for British citizenship by descent, you need to have at least one parent who acquired British citizenship at birth by virtue of being born somewhere which was a part of the UK – at the time of their birth. Scottish independence does not change the reality that at the time of birth of every person born in Scotland who is alive today, we were born somewhere which was part of the UK.

Everyone who is alive in Scotland today and who is a British citizen would under current citizenship laws retain the right to British citizenship following independence. This is what happened when Ireland became independent. The children of everyone who was born in Scotland who is alive today, or who will be born right up until the date of Scottish independence, will likewise be entitled to British citizenship by virtue of the fact that they have a parent who was born a British citizen on British territory.

What this means in practical terms is that the first people who won’t have the right to British citizenship following Scottish independence will be the children of the first baby to be born in Scotland following the formal date of independence – assuming, that is, that that baby has a child with someone who isn’t a British citizen themselves. So we’re talking here about the children of people who haven’t been born yet, a generation which won’t be born for some 20 years following the date of Scottish independence.

But even if it were indeed the case that Magrit Curran’s weans would have a different passport from her – so what? Is your love for your children and your relationship with them predicated upon a piece of paper? Surely not. If you really would be estranged from your own kids simply because they have a different citizenship from you, that’s not an argument against independence, it’s an argument that you’re desperately in need of family therapy.

The new Scottish state will need to implement a citizenship law to establish the parameters for who qualifies for Scottish citizenship in the future, and that’s something that can only be determined once Scotland is independent. The British state can’t prejudge who would or would not be the citizen of an independent country, which is one reason why it’s only right and proper that the franchise for the independence referendum should be restricted to those of us who currently reside in Scotland.

In the vast majority of countries, people have the right to citizenship when they are born in that country to people who are legally resident there. Those who acquire citizenship by virtue of being born in the territory of the state generally have the right to pass that citizenship on to their own children when those children are born abroad. It is likely that Scotland will extend citizenship to all British citizens resident in Scotland at the time of independence, to everyone who was born in the territory of Scotland, and to their children who were born outwith Scotland. Personally, I would hope that upon attaining independence, the new Scottish state will also offer citizenship to everyone who is legally resident in Scotland upon the date of Scottish independence – irrespective of their current citizenship. That would be a marvellous gesture to demonstrate the inclusivity of the new Scottish state.

However if you feel British no one is going to take that away from you. At least no one in Scotland. Those who identify as British will be every bit as able to participate fully in Scottish civic life as any Scottish citizen. Independence is not about forcing an identity on anyone. It’s about governance, it’s about democracy, and it’s about giving the people of this country the powers that we need in order to determine the path that this country takes.

The plan for this article and several others dealing with key points in the independence debate is to collate them and publish them in book form when we have a date for the independence vote. Some of these articles have already been published on this blog and others have yet to be written. The idea is that when we know when Scotland will be voting, I will do a crowd-funder specifically for the purpose of raising money to get the book printed, and then it can be distributed to Yes groups and campaigners and given away for free.

There’s already a Wee Blue Book, let’s have a Wee Ginger Book too. This isn’t meant as competition for the Wee Blue Book – which is a fantastic initiative with proven success – but rather it is to be complementary to it. Different writing styles and different books can appeal to different readerships and different demographics. The more information we can get out there, the more people we can persuade to Yes. If you have any suggestions for topics for articles to include in this book, let me know and I will write something up – if I haven’t done so already.


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 Dugcast – 17 August 2019

This dugcast was actually recorded yesterday, but immediately after recording it with Callum Baird of The National, I had to drive up to Aberdeen where I was speaking at an event organised by Yes North East in the Spin Bar in Littlejohn Street. I didn’t get home until 1.30am, when the dug and I crawled into bed and went to sleep.

In this edition of the dugcast, Callum and I discuss the proposal for a new Wings Over Scotland party, and Jo Swinson’s refusal to agree to the only realistic plan to prevent a no-deal Brexit. We also mention the Aberdeen event, which of course took place yesterday! It was a fantastic evening, the venue was packed out, and we had a great time. Many thanks to everyone in Aberdeen for their hospitality.


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.

Jo Swinson’s shiny ego

The Labour party’s mostly invisible branch office manager in Scotland, Reginald Lapdancer, might once have had the fond belief that being a Corbyn loyalist meant that the Jezza would be loyal in return. He has discovered that he was sadly mistaken. Or not so sadly if you’re not one of the tattered remnants of what’s left of the Labour party in Scotland. The party leader has said this week that it’s not up to the UK parliament to block a Scottish independence referendum. So, that’s you telt then, Randalf Loglauncher.

Jeremy Corbyn thinks that another Scottish independence referendum is a bad idea. He’d campaign against independence. He’d stomp the land along with the rest of them, warning of doom and devastation and deficits. All of which is fair enough. It’s perfectly fine to oppose Scottish independence, what’s not fine is to prevent the people of Scotland from debating it in a national referendum when they’ve elected a Scottish Government with a mandate to bring one about. So Jeremy doesn’t agree with the Labour branch office which wants Westminster to overrule the Scottish Parliament when the Scottish Parliament doesn’t agree with the Labour branch office. My god. Someone in Westminster gets democracy. Well, sort of.

There is of course a bigger picture here. Partly it’s the realistic electoral calculation that Labour’s Scottish contingent in Westminster is expendable. And you only have to look at Lesley Laird to go, “Well, OK. Fair enough,” to that last point. Lesley is apparently the Shadow Scotland Secretary and is supposed to be taking the lead on Labour’s Scotland policy at Westminster. However her sole distinguishing feature in Scottish Labour politics is that she has an even lower public profile and recognition than branch office manager Roderick Lambworrier. That, and she’s not Hugh Gaffney, who is only remarkable for his ability to embarrass himself. Apart from Ian Murray, who pops up on the telly from time to time to be hypocritical about whether there ought to be referendums, even those of us who are dedicated Scottish politics geeks would struggle to name the other Labour MPs who represent Scottish seats. Most of them would fail to make an mark if you gave them a big rubber stamp and an ink pad.

The Labour leadership has clearly calculated that getting the SNP to support Labour budgets is going to be far more important to the stability of any future Labour government than getting more Labour MPs in Scotland. Giving current polling, Labour is going to be extremely lucky to hang on to a single seat, Ian Murray’s. And Ian is as much a thorn in the flesh for the Labour leadership as he is for just about everyone who has the misfortune to hear him harrumphing on the telly.

The reason that he’s made the announcement now is that it is all a part of Jeremy Corbyn’s strategy to get the minority Westminster parties to agree to back him in a vote of no confidence against Boris Johnson. The plan is that Jeremy would become Prime Minister for a limited period, in order to ensure that the UK avoids a no deal Brexit.

Jeremy’s plan has however already been shot down in flames by Jo Swinson. The only thing that remain voting Middle England dislikes more than Brexit is the idea of Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street. There’s no way that Tory in drag Jo is going to be seen to back a Jeremy Corbyn government. Not even if it’s to prevent a no deal Brexit. Not even if it’s time limited. Not even if he’s going to be prevented by parliamentary arithmetic from introducing the left wing measures that he’s promised his supporters. Jo has instead suggested that the temporary government be headed by Harriet Harman, because it’s up to Jo Swinson to decide who gets to be the leader of the Labour party.

The reason for the refusal is twofold. Firstly it’s because Jo has her eye on Tory – Lib Dem marginal seats in the snap General Election which is widely predicted, and Jeremy is as toxic with Tory voters as the Lib Dems were with students after they did a U-turn on tuition fees. A U-turn which Jo voted for. It’s going to be very difficult for the Lib Dems to attract the votes of remain leaning Tories, who do actually exist, if they have been seen to prop up a Jeremy Corbyn administration.

Secondly it’s because Jo knows that the price of a temporary Corbyn administration which also requires the backing of the SNP is another Scottish independence referendum, which buggers her career. You can’t be a party leader in Westminster when you represent a seat in a country that’s independent of the UK. It’s only referendums which produce a result that Jo doesn’t like that ought to be rerun. The Lib Dems want a government of national unity, but only with those people that they think it’s politically advantageous to unite with.

So that’s the Lib Dems there, putting the interests of their party ahead of the interests of the UK as a whole. They certainly learned the lesson well when they were in coalition with the Conservatives, didn’t they. “We haven’t got time here to muck about with people’s egos,” said Jo as she burnished her shiny ego.

Time is running out here. If there is to be a grouping in Westminster which can oppose a no deal Brexit, it is only logical that it should be led by the leader of the opposition. Parliamentary arithmetic alone means that Jeremy Corbyn will not be able to introduce any measures which don’t enjoy cross-party support. Even a number of Conservative remainers is willing to meet with Labour to discuss the idea, yet Jo Swinson and the Lib Dems are still set against the idea.

The way Westminster works is that if a government fails to win a vote of no-confidence, then it’s the leader of the opposition who has the right to try to form an administration. If he or she can’t, then there’s a general election, that’s how it works. It’s not up to Jo Swinson to decide who the leader of the opposition is. It’s not up to a minority politician like Jo Swinson to unilaterally rewrite what passes for a British constitution. But then we’re talking here about a politician who preaches Liberal Democracy but practises neither. Her refusal to countenance doing a deal with Labour only makes a no deal Brexit more likely, and that in turn makes it even more likely that Scotland will turn to independence as the only means of escape. Jo Swinson’s selfish short-termism is yet another nail in the coffin of the UK. Be careful what you wish for, Jo.


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.

Elephants in rooms

Over the past couple of weeks, there’s been a new line from the anti-independence parties. David Mundell, and certain figures in the Labour party, appear now to be conceding that a mandate for another independence referendum is indeed produced by the result of a Holyrood election. It’s just that they’re insisting that the mandate can only come from a pro-independence majority in the Holyrood elections in 2021. They still refuse to concede the indisputable fact that there is already a pro-independence majority in Holyrood, that the SNP already has a mandate for another referendum, and that Holyrood has already voted in favour of one.

It’s noticeable that the anti-independence parties are not saying that a win for the SNP in a snap Westminster General Election would produce a mandate for another referendum – even though arguably a win for the SNP in Scotland in a Westminster election would produce a stronger mandate. After all, as we are constantly being reminded, the constitution is a power reserved to Westminster. So if Scotland votes for a large majority of SNP MPs elected to Westminster on a manifesto of support for another referendum, there’s an unchallengeable mandate for one.

But no, according to the likes of the discredited Mundell, it has to be a Holyrood election in 2021.  How Scotland votes in elections to the parliament which actually does have the power to alter the constitution doesn’t seem to count.  It’s not hard to see the reason why, and it’s breathtakingly cynical even by the standards of Scotland’s anti-independence parties. It’s the elephant in the room.  They are hoping that the trial of Alex Salmond, which is due to be held next year, will cause the SNP to implode. They are hoping it is going to be all their SNP bad Christmasses come at once.

Clearly, the trial of a man who was and is a towering figure in the SNP is not going to do the party any favours. The matter is of course sub-judice, so we cannot discuss the nature of the allegations against him, nor speculate about his guilt or innocence – except to note that all those charged with a crime are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

However I do not believe that the trial will have the substantial impact on support for independence that the Tories, Labour, and the Lib Dems are clearly praying for. The reason is the same reason that support for independence has never yet been dented by the constant barrage of SNP bad stories which fill the Scottish press on a daily basis. And that’s because the desire for independence is not primarily driven by belief in the SNP, but rather by a deep dissatisfaction with and alienation from Westminster politics amongst the people of Scotland. No amount of SNP bad stories in the press are going to make the Tories or Labour treat Scotland’s needs and interests with any more respect than they have done to date.  It’s Brexit and that manifest lack of respect for Scotland which are driving the rise in support for independence.  That won’t change irrespective of the Salmond trial.

I also suspect that the political fallout for the SNP produced by the trial will be considerably more limited than the anti-independence parties are hoping for. The closest parallel is the trial and acquittal of Jeremy Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal party, in 1979. He was tried on charges of conspiring to murder his ex-lover Norman Scott – although until his death in 2014 Thorpe denied he had had a sexual relationship with Scott. Thorpe was forced to resign from the leadership of the Liberals in May 1976 after a series of increasingly lurid newspaper investigations into his relationship with Scott following the shooting of Scott’s dog in October 1975. In May 1979, just a few days after that year’s General Election which saw Margaret Thatcher enter Number 10, Thorpe was put on trial along with three others for conspiracy to murder. Thorpe was acquitted on all charges, although he never succeeded in restoring his reputation.

Thorpe had been a successful and popular leader of the Liberal party, which all through the 1960s had been a minor force in British politics, languishing in single figures in the polls and with a derisory share of the vote in General Elections. The party’s nadir came in the general election of 1970, when Jeremy Thorpe was newly elected as the Liberal leader. In that election the Liberals lost half of the 12 seats they had previously held and were left with just 6.

However once established as leader, Thorpe managed to oversee a revival of the party’s fortunes in the two General Elections of 1974. In the February election, the Liberals won 14 seats, a gain of 8.  This election was characterised by widespread public dissatisfaction with the three day week and the economic management of the UK by Edward Heath.  Under Thorpe, the Liberals were able to reap the benefit and increased their support, largely at the expense of the Tories.  That election produced a hung parliament, there was another General Election in October that year, in which the Liberals lost two MPs but gained one, leaving them with 13.

Despite a looming trial and previous months of sensational newspaper stories about Thorpe’s alleged relationship with Scott and the shooting of Scott’s dog, the Liberals still managed to pick up 11 seats in the General Election of 1979 even though Thorpe himself lost his North Devon seat to the Conservatives. The party lost three seats overall, but gained one. It is arguable that there was a “Thorpe effect”, but it seems to have been very limited in scope. The party had held around 12 or 13 seats throughout most of the 1960s and 70s, and continued to hold that number all the way through the period when the Thorpe Affair dominated the press – although before the matter had come to trial. The party pretty much held steady in opinion polling during that period. There was no collapse in Liberal support either before the trial or after it.

The first general election after the Thorpe trial is not directly comparable because the Liberals did not fight it as a single party, but rather as part of the Alliance with the newly formed SDP. The SDP was a breakaway faction of centrist Labour MPs who were dissatisfied with the leadership of the left wing Michael Foot. The Alliance doubled the number of seats previously held by the Liberals, gaining 12 and ending up with 23 MPs.

However this result does prove that the trial and its aftermath had not damaged the Liberals as a political brand.  That’s the case even though many people continued to believe that Thorpe was guilty despite his acquittal. There was a very strong lingering perception that Thorpe had behaved extremely poorly, and had not adequately explained himself. The trial was felt by many to be heavily slanted in favour of Thorpe, with the British establishment looking after its own, and the judge’s summing up – heavily biased in Thorpe’s favour – was the subject of a scathing parody by the comedian and satirist Peter Cooke.

Voters are grown ups. They are capable of distinguishing between the individual actions of a politician in a private capacity and the overall goals, aims, and philosophy of the political party to which he or she belongs. They are capable of looking at the wider political context when they cast their votes. And so they rejected Jeremy Thorpe as a politician, but they did not reject his party.

Jeremy Thorpe’s behaviour in private was not a reflection of the political ideals of the Liberal party, the public saw that. They will also see that whatever happens in the Salmond trial, it is not a reflection of the political goal of Scottish independence. The anti-independence parties may be hoping that the Salmond trial will prevent independence happening. They’re in for a big disappointment.

It’s not the Salmond trial which has the capacity to cause serious electoral damage to the SNP in 2021.  What has the capacity to cause the party serious electoral damage is if they fail to deliver on their manifesto commitment to push forward for an independence referendum during the lifetime of this Holyrood Parliament. That’s where the potential for damage lies, not the Salmond trial.  That’s the real elephant in the room for the SNP leadership.


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.

Flying kites

The news today in the Scottish press is dominated by Stu Campell’s proposal for a new pro-independence party. Apparently the musings of a pro-indy blogger are the most important thing to happen in Scotland today. Well who knew? Perhaps the BBC might even start interviewing pro-indy bloggers now. Or maybe not.

The first I knew about this idea was when it was published in his interview with Kenny Farquharson in The Times. As far as I am aware it’s not a concrete proposal, but more a solo kite flying exercise on Stu’s part. It’s simply an idea he has thrown out there for discussion.

Yet even as a kite flying exercise, the proposal has of course produced the entirely predictable slew of headlines in the anti-independence press about splits in the Yes movement. Because a half-articulated notion – it’s not even well formed enough to count as a plan – from a single politics blogger is far more important than the melt-down in the Labour party, the irrelevance into which Ruth Davidson’s Vote Ruth Davidson For More Ruth Davidson Party has been consigned by Boris Johnson, or the ever increasing mutual contempt which characterises the relationship between Scotland and the Conservative Government. So just today in the Herald we have a Tom Gordon hit job story entitled Wings over Scotland blogger attacks SNP and Greens in Yes movement split, and the anti-independence columnist Mark Smith opining How a Wings Over Scotland party could turn Yes to No. Meanwhile over in The Scotsman we have Wings Over Scotland: New pro-independence party could challenge ‘far left’ Scottish Greens.

Unfortunately this chorus line of headlines is not an indication of the true political influence of Stu Campbell, it’s more an indication of the desperation of the overwhelmingly anti-independence media in Scotland to find a distraction from the mess into which the UK has got itself, and the growing attraction of independence amongst Scottish voters as their disenchantment with Westminster grows. All that has happened here in practical terms is that the Scottish press has seized an opportunity to depict the Yes movement as being riven by division and dissent, precisely at the time when the real news story is death of Labour in Scotland, the impending doom of Brexit, and machinations within the Conservative party in Westminster to frustrate their own government. It’s a perfect example of “Oh look a squirrel.” It’s entirely predictable that the Scottish press would have reacted in this manner.

So here we are, discussing Stu Campbell’s proposal for a new party, and not the implosion of the Labour party in Scotland and with it any political force which can claim to both oppose the Tories and independence. That’s a hugely significant development, but we’ve been distracted from it.

Apparently some people have been suggesting my name as a possible candidate for this new party. Well sorry, but no. That’s not going to happen. It’s not going to happen because I would rather poke my eyes out with rusty knitting needles than stand for election for any party, whether that’s Stu’s proposed Wings party, the SNP, the Greens, or the Vote Wee Ginger Dug For More Clapping Of Dugs Party. There’s a reason I didn’t join the SNP in 2014 in the aftermath of the independence referendum, and that reason is because I don’t think it’s healthy for someone whose job is writing commentary and opinion to be tied to the manifesto of a particular political party – irrespective of what that party is.

In any event, this idea for a putative new party is premature. In that assessment I agree with James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop. We are nowhere near needing to set up a new political party for Yes voters. That’s a decision which doesn’t have to be taken until other avenues to an independence referendum have been exhausted. There’s still quite a road to travel there. Yes, I understand the frustration with the caution and small-c conservatism of the SNP leadership. They are frustrations which I share. But I believe that the way to counter them is to redouble our efforts to campaign, to persuade, to spread information, and to demonstrate the strength of pro-independence feeling on the ground. It’s only by doing so that we can provide the SNP leadership with the political confidence it needs to press ahead with demands for a referendum.

It could certainly be argued that the recent opinion poll showing majority support for independence is a vindication of the ‘steady as she goes’ strategy of Nicola Sturgeon.  It was always expected that Brexit and a Boris Johnson government would produce a boost in support for independence in Scotland.  Only one of those events has actually come to pass.  It is entirely likely that when Brexit does happen, there will be a further boost in support for independence in the polls.  A series of opinion polls showing increasing support for independence and demand for a referendum will make the current refusal of the anti-independence parties to countenance a referendum politically untenable.

The current SNP plan is to hold an independence referendum in 2020. That’s the preference of Nicola Sturgeon, and over the weekend deputy leader Keith Brown announced that the party plans to ramp up its preparations for a referendum.  If that referendum does indeed come to pass, then any plans for a new Yes party in 2021 are entirely moot. While the Westminster parties are united in their refusal to concede another independence referendum at the moment, denying the mandate that the Scottish Government currently possesses and denying that the Scottish Parliament has already voted in favour of another referendum, that refusal may not be able to survive the political fallout from a snap Westminster election in which the SNP perform strongly and increase the number of Westminster seats that they hold.

This is especially the case if a snap General Election produces a minority government with the SNP holding the balance of power. Either the Labour party may seek a confidence and supply deal with the SNP in return for a Section 30 order, or a minority Boris Johnson administration may agree to a Section 30 order as a way of getting rid of those troublesome Scots and increasing his majority in Westminster. Those are just two possible scenarios. There is also the political reality that a strong showing from the SNP in that election will destroy the arguments currently deployed against a referendum by the anti-independence parties, and increase the pressure on them to respect the democratic will of the people of Scotland.

There’s no guarantee that the election is going to take place of course, but all observers agree that it’s looking increasingly likely. Just today, Monday, the Guardian is reporting that a group of rebel Tory MPs, including former Chancellor Philip Hammond, are planning a move in the second week of September in order to prevent a no-deal Brexit. If they are successful, Boris Johnson will have no choice but to call an election in order to change parliamentary arithmetic so that he can get his way.

It is this early UK general election which Yes campaigners ought to be focussing on just now, not the elections of 2021. In that UK general election – sorry Greens – it’s going to be the SNP which is the only pro-independence party which has any chance at all of getting seats. That’s the nature of the first past the post system so beloved of Westminster. So we need to concentrate our efforts on ensuring that we maximise the SNP vote in the elections which are most likely to come first. That should be our current priority, not thinking about setting up a new party.


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 Dugcast – 9 August 2019

ABOVE FINAL SENTENCE
In the latest edition of the dugcast, The National’s editor Callum Baird and I discuss what has been a momentous week for the Scottish independence movement. The anecdotal reports that many people who had voted No in 2014 are now switching to Yes were confirmed by the poll from the Conservative pollster Michael Ashcroft which put support for independence in the lead. We talk about the poll, the BBC’s shameful lack of coverage of it, the implications for the movement, and the meltdown in the Labour party in Scotland.


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.