The death of One Nation Conservatism

Most of us in Scotland who support independence have no sympathies with the Tories. Getting away from them and building a politics in which they’re permanently a minority party instead of the usual party of government is in fact the prime reason why so many of us support independence in the first place. We’ve had our fill of their austerity, their greed and selfishness, their lack of compassion and humanity. We’ve had enough of the way in which they blame the poor for the sins of the rich. We’ve reached the end of our tether with they way in which they have normalised foodbanks and the demonisation of migrants. Having sympathy with the political travails of a Conservative is too much like empathising with the mosquito which is killed by the malaria fluke it passes on to a child.

The sorrows of Conservatives still makes those of us with a functioning ability to feel compassion go “Hell slap it intae ye.” However something has changed within the Conservatives of late which, while it might not make us feel any sympathy for anyone who sought a political career in the Tories, ought to make us worry about our own futures as long as Scotland remains subjugated to this binfire of a UK. Former One Nation Tories are leaving the party in their droves. These are the people considered moderate by Conservative standards, the ones who’d give a child on crutches a modest head start before attempting to run them over. The One Nation Tories were the last vestige of upper class Conservative patronage, the Victorian belief that those who had wealth and privilege ought to provide a modicum for the poor, even if it were only to offer their children employment as chimney cleaners.

In the past few weeks and months we’ve seen the resignation of the media construct that was Ruth Davidson, a woman whose fantasy future as the next first minister is behind her. She has been followed out of politics by Ken Clarke, Rory Stewart, David Lidington, Philip Hammond, Oliver Letwin, Amber Rudd, Nicky Morgan, and some two dozen more. Others have fled the Conservatives for the Lib Dems or Change UK. Their places will be taken by hard faced closed minded right wing Brexiteers who will strengthen the ranks of the European Research Group and push the Tories even further to the right.

Those who have left Conservative politics are not cuddly liberals. These are not left wing social democrats that we are talking about here. These are politicians who were quite comfortable with the spread of food banks, tax cuts for the rich, blaming the poor for the sins of the bankers who caused the financial crash. They were quite content to preside over the destruction of financial security for the disabled, the bedroom tax, the rape clause, and the privatisation of anything that wasn’t nailed down. But they’re leaving politics or have joined other parties because the Conservative party has now become the preserve of right wing ideologues, chancers, opportunists, and British nationalist extremists, people who are beyond the pale even for them. They’ve gone because even they, with their barely functioning capacity for compassion, fear what’s coming down the line and don’t want to taint themselves with it. They’ve gone because even though the harsh and cruel policies that they were responsible for were acceptable to them, what’s approaching is an order of magnitude worse. If they’re afraid, we should be terrified. It’s one thing to hear a warning about the devil from a saint, it’s quite another to hear it from a demon.

The Tories are now the party of English nationalism, supported by their useful idiots in Scotland who still think they’re in a union. They’re the party of Brexit, of opportunistic hard right wing populism. They’re a party which, and I don’t use this term lightly, are heading for fascism. They’re a party which is hell bent on destroying the post-war British consensus which gave us the NHS, state pensions, and a comprehensive social security system. They’re ultras in pinstripes. If you voted No in 2014 because you wanted to protect those social gains, now the only way you can do so is by supporting independence. They’re already tattered and battered, they won’t last much longer in Tory Ukania.

There is no place left in the Conservatives for compromise, for negotiation. All there is is the philosophy of winner takes all and to Hell with everyone else. The party which considers itself the natural party of British government now considers that reaching out is a weakness and empathy a mental illness. This is the new nature of things, a harsh faced cruelty, the sneer of Daily Mail editorials as British national policy. But they’ll stick a few union flags on things and if we object we’ll be unpatriotic traitors.

The Tories tell us that they don’t want another independence referedum because it would be divisive. But they’re creating the greatest social divisions of all as they take a crowbar to the gap between rich and poor and lever it ever wider. They’re no longer even pretending that they’re doing it for the good of the country. Now they’re going to places where even Thatcher didn’t dare to tread.

Expect the ever creeping privatisation of the NHS. Expect the cost of drugs to rise. Expect more tax cuts for the rich while the government preaches the need for austerity. Expect to see disability payments slashed. Expect to see even more homeless people begging on the streets. Expect an erosion of maternity leave and workers’ rights. Expect even more low paying gig economy jobs offering no security. Expect the loss of what is left of social housing. Expect to see more Tory MPs grinning for a photo op as a new food bank opens in their constituency. Expect despair. Expect weeping. Expect desperation. Expect the flickering flame of hope to be extinguished as more and more people flee into the harmful and destructive self-medication of drugs and alcohol. That’s the British future that we’re being promised. The future isn’t bright, it’s red eyed with tears.

Scotland needs to use this election as a rung on the escape ladder out of the UK. Labour can’t save us. We can only save ourselves. The death of One Nation Conservatism is the death of the UK.


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GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


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


The arsonists

unitarystate
It’s Halloween, the day that the UK was supposed to be leaving the EU, but isn’t, again. Scary clowns are very fashionable this Halloween, you cannae turn on the telly without seeing Boris Johnson, failing to die in a ditch. The idiot can’t even succeed at failing. This is the man who said, “I want everyone to know there are no circumstances in which I will ask Brussels for a delay.” And then asked for a delay. Boris Johnson’s word is worth as much as the pound will be following a no deal Brexit. He’s been forced into a General Election with the leering Nigel Farage breathing down his neck and contesting the Tories for leaver votes. He’s facing a wipe out in Scotland and there’s no certainty that he can make up the shortfall with gains in leave voting Labour seats.

Now the Prime Minister is trying to blame the opposition parties for his failure to take the UK out of the EU. The opposition parties are more than happy to help Johnson die in that ditch. Instead of dying in a ditch, there’s going to be a general election instead. We’ll be quite happy to bury Johnson with our votes. Although personally I’m still holding out for the ditch. I’ve even bought a shovel.

This is an election about what sort of country we want to live in. It’s a choice between a Scotland that sets its own agenda, that steers its own course, that looks to its finer traditions of looking after the weak and the vulnerable, that aspires to be a modern liberal social democratic democracy, a beacon of human and civil rights, or a Scotland that’s under the thumb of the Tories in Westminster. That will leave us silenced and marginalised while our public services are trashed and the devolution settlement is hollowed out. It’s a choice between empowerment or powerlessness.

The Conservatives in Scotland are already preparing their manifesto, and that manifesto says simply, “Do as you’re told.” They’re preparing a future for us where British flags are plastered on everything to cover up the destruction of our public services. They’re going to preach about a union while they undermine and weaken anything and everything that makes Scotland politically distinctive. They seek the incorporation of Scotland into a unitary state, where this constituent nation within the UK will be little more than a glorified English county. That’s not a union. When the Tories tell you that they’re Unionists, they’re lying.

If the Tories really were Unionists they’d be seeking a UK in which Scotland has a strong and confident voice, a true union is a place where each constituent part has protections and safeguards to ensure that they cannot be browbeaten and dominated by the one part which happens to be the largest. That’s not what the Conservatives are in favour of. They’re in favour of concentrating as much power as possible into the hands of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, not giving it to Scotland.

This week the Conservative Prime Minister whom the Tories in Scotland are now fully behind despite their desperate Operation Arse to keep him away from the party leadership made a not so veiled threat to take control of the NHS in Scotland away from the Scottish Government. It’s only fair that people in Scotland get to enjoy the creeping privatisation and internal markets that have ruined the NHS that’s under Conservative control in England. You might think that this story would dominate a Scottish press which has consistently focussed on issues affecting the NHS in Scotland. You can’t turn on Reporting Scotland without being told about dire warnings that we’re all going to die because a new hospital has a leaky roof. You can’t open the pages of a Scottish newspaper without reading about how dreadful waiting times are.

So you’d be forgiven for imagining that when British Conservative Prime Minister threatens the future of the NHS in Scotland that it would be all over the media. But you’d only imagine that if you’d never seen a newspaper in Scotland and had never viewed the output of Pacific Quay. The lead story today is of course the awful and appalling news that the Lord Provost of Glasgow has resigned because she didn’t spend all of her clothing allowance. I’d clutch some pearls but of course that would come out of my clothing expenditure and the Daily Record might not approve.

Of all the Lord Provosts Glasgow has had, it’s the SNP one that the media has forced to resign. That same media that was strangely quiet about Glesca Cooncil when Labour was in power for decades. That same media that when a Labour Lord Provost of the city resigned after admitting to taking cocaine in his office, amidst widespread allegations of all sorts of dodgy goings on within the council, didn’t investigate those allegations. Instead it invited us to sympathise with the poor former provost’s struggle with mental health issues.

But anyway. Never mind the NHS. Never mind some of the well dodgy provosts that Glesca has had in the past. Never mind the Tory threat to Scotland and their lies about a union that’s really an incorporating unitary state in which Scotland is silenced and marginalised. Never mind that we’re facing being ripped out of the EU against our will and contrary to the promises of the Better Together campaign that the Daily Record backed in 2014, all so that the Tories can sell off the NHS in a trade deal with Donald Trump and enrich their disaster capitalist pals. SNP shoes and frocks. That’s where it’s all at. That’s the priority. If Scotland was a burning house, the Scottish media wouldn’t mention it, they’d only complain that the fire engine hadn’t been washed in weeks. In Scottish politics, unionist fear of independence trumps every other consideration.

They’re right to be afraid. Our employment, consumer, and civil rights are burning down, our jobs, our futures, are on fire, the devolution settlment is being consumed in flames, and it’s the Conservatives who are the arsonists. It’s their precious union that they’re burning down.


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

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.


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


The panda election

pandas
Back from my trip away now, and has anything much happened in my absence? You stop paying attention to British politics for a couple of days, and suddenly everything has changed. In 2014 Scotland was told that it needed the stability and security of the UK in order to ensure our democracy, now what counts as long term in British politics is the length of time it takes you to go and make a cup of tea whenever Stirling Tory MP Stephen Kerr oils up a TV studio and is interviewed on the telly. Because it’s either a cup of tea or you’ll throw your shoe at the screen and imported TV sets will be a lot more expensive after Brexit. Ruth Davidson might have resigned as leaderene of the Tory party in Scotland, but Scottish Conservative MPs still very much take their cue from her. They prove that it’s possible to be simultaneously media constructs and PR disasters.

The big news is of course that we’re in for a General Election on 12 December. As this blog site has argued previously, all routes to an independence referendum must pass over the bridge of an early Westminster General election. Arguments and disputes about the best strategy for obtaining the prize of an independence referendum in 2020 are all conditional upon what happens next month. That means that whatever you think about how effective the SNP have or have not been about asserting Scotland’s right to decide its own future, we must ensure that as many SNP MPs as possible are returned in this coming election, and that the SNP’s share of the vote is as high as we can make it. It’s vital to resurrect the old joke, and make sure that there are more pandas in Scotland than Conservative MPs. And Labour and Lib Dem MPs too, while we are at it. Admittedly pandas are far cuter than your average Scottish Conservative MP, but then so is projectile vomiting.

This election is one of the most important in the history of the UK. It’s a Brexit election England and Wales, an independence election in Scotland, and in Northern Ireland it’s about the relationship between the six counties and the rest of the island. This is the election which may or may not decide what the UK thinks of Brexit, although it’s a safe bet that what most of us think of Brexit is ‘Ugh’. This election may or may not provide a breakthrough in the Brexit logjam. This election may or may not create a majority government.

This General Election will also be the one that begins the end of the UK. On 12 December we will have Scotland’s chance to say clearly and loudly that this country asserts its right to decide its own future, irrespective of what the rest of the UK wants. This is Scotland’s chance to tell the rest of the UK that our country’s right to choose its own path is not and will not be contingent upon the permission of Boris Johnson. This is the election when Scotland can say yes to independence and to Europe, and no to Boris Johnson and a sclerotic Westminster. A strong showing for the SNP, a significant increase in seats and votes, will destroy the narrative that Scotland doesn’t want another independence referendum because the SNP lost seats in 2017. The signs are positive that the party leadership has learned the lesson of that disastrous campaign, and the question of independence and Scotland’s sovereign right to determine its own future within or outwith the UK will be front and foremost in next month’s General Election. And it’s going to be kicked off with Nicola Sturgeon’s first speech to an independence rally since 2014 in George Square in Glasgow this Saturday.

You might say to yourself that the SNP already have a mandate for a referendum, and a fat lot of use it’s done so far. You’d not be wrong. But don’t allow yourself to be seduced by the comforting self-righteousness of telling yourself that you will not support the SNP in this election but will vote yes in an independence referendum. If you don’t support the SNP in this election, you make it harder to achieve the referendum, you make it less likely that it will ever take place. SNP voters who stay away from the polls will not be portrayed in the media as a reflection on the unhappiness within the independence movement about how best to get an independence referendum and a lack of confidence in Nicola Sturgeon’s pursuit of a Section 30 order. There will be no newspaper editorials or BBC discussions about how the failure of the SNP to get its vote out will be because of disagreements about gender politics. The sole narrative will be that Scotland isn’t interested in independence. You’re kidding yourself on if you believe that the media will say anything else.

If we want to win Scottish independence, it’s not enough for us to say so once or twice, or even three times or four times. We need to keep saying it insistently and consistently until the clamour becomes impossible to ignore. We need to keep saying it until all those soft no voters and undecided voters in Scotland realise that alternative paths to independence are justified and justifiable, that it’s Westminster which is acting undemocratically and unreasonably. We’re only going to win independence when we take them with us. We can’t make the mistake of talking amongst ourselves in a pro-indy bubble.

Westminster General Elections are always difficult for the SNP. The UK media takes over and Scottish narratives are drowned out in the clamour from a press and broadcast media that has difficulty looking beyond the M25 – and when it does it’s to give us some vox pops from leave voting areas in the English Midlands. It becomes harder to assert and get a hearing for Scotland’s priorities. Democracy is essentially a process in story telling, in setting agendas, in explaining and persuasion. Scotland’s distinctive voice in all this becomes hard to hear over the scoffs and guffaws of Conservative entitlement, the self-righteous harrumphage of Labour, and the irritable vowel syndrome of the Lib Dems. This is, apparently, a Union benefit. That makes it all the more important that we win on the ground, that SNP activists and supporters get up and get out there, persuading, making Scotland’s case, and telling Scotland’s story. The media won’t be doing it for us.

Conservative victories and Scottish Conservative politicians are media constructs, SNP victories are me and you constructs. Scottish independence will also be a me and you construct. We have to work to build it. Let’s get to work and make this the panda election.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


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


Revive – the SNP conference fringe meeting

A guest post by Max Wiszniewski

A couple of weeks ago Paul kindly hosted a guest blog by Revive to discuss the case for radical grouse moor reform. It was the lead-up to the Scottish National Party’s Autumn conference, where members of the party would be able to engage with the campaign to change the face of Scotland.

SNP Fringe crowd 2

Revive met hundreds of enthusiastic supporters of the campaign within the party and well over 200 people attended our fringe meeting which focussed on the intimidation culture of grouse moors, the climate crisis and the untold suffering of Scotland’s wildlife.

Former Environment Minister and chair of the session, Stewart Stevenson MSP, introduced Robbie Marsland, Director of the League Against Cruel Sports Scotland who discussed the makeup of the room which was a strong mix of people concerned about land reform, wildlife and the environment and how Scotland can use our land so much better. It becomes clear that this is a campaign that’s about far more than just animal welfare, as opponents to this much needed change would have you believe.

Libby Anderson presentation

Nevertheless, we offered an exclusive preview of our soon to be published report called Untold Suffering – the story of how untold thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of animals die to increase grouse numbers for sport shooting. The case for animal welfare is something often ignored by government reports so it is essential that we push for those concerns to be included in any future action taken. There was also a lot of value to bringing people from different interests together to see this side of grouse moors – of joining the dots holistically – so look out for this report when we launch it in a week or so.

Julie Bell SNP councillor on intimidation

Councillor Julie Bell (SNP Kirriemuir and Dean) spoke about the intimidation she and people in her local area experience from the industry – the almost feudal-like culture where a few very rich people have the land and therefore the power. Some of the personal tales were quite shocking and are not out of line with many others we’ve heard from elsewhere from tenants, people who live nearby or those just visiting the areas. If you have any of those experiences yourself, please consider getting in touch as we’d be interested in hearing your story (anonymously if you wish).

Finally, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, showed how grouse moors are a prime target for dealing with the climate crisis. The amount of environmental damage done to sustain unnaturally high grouse numbers, like from heather muirburn, mass outdoor medication and the thousands of kilometres of bulldozed hilltracks that scar the landscape, is a huge problem that needs tackled.

Intensively managed grouse moors fly in the face of Nicola Sturgeon’s declared climate emergency. When Revive is successful in its campaign aims our local environments will be much better protected and our carbon sequestration potential significantly increased as part of a ‘Green New Deal’ Scotland. But what is a ‘Green New Deal’ Scotland?

It is a name taken from the famous ‘New Deal’ in America, a series of public works projects, financial reforms and regulations, and is credited with the recovery of America after the Wall Street Crash. A true Green New Deal for Scotland, of which land ownership and use is at the centre, would mean new opportunities for our people, our wildlife and our environment – well beyond anything the status-quo could provide.

That’s the opportunity of Revive – to reimagine our land as something other than a playground for the few but as an opportunity for us all. The membership of the Scottish National Party seem ready to take the next step with Revive as we target the land use that takes up between 12-18% of Scotland. We hope that the rest of the country will join us too.

Max Wiszniewski is Campaign Manager for Revive. Revive is a coalition of like-minded organisations working for reform of Scotland’s grouse moors. The coalition is made up by Common Weal, Friends of the Earth Scotland, League Against Cruel Sports Scotland, OneKind, and Raptor Persecution.

*Many branches at SNP conference expressed an interest in backing a motion to Spring Conference and Councillor Julie Bell has offered to coordinate this. If you and your SNP branch are interested please feel free to get in touch here and we will pass your contact details on.

The Saltire strikes back

A guest post by John Fitzpatrick

Lots of things are happening just now in relation to the chaos around Brexit and the goings on of Boris Johnson – Lyin Bastert Johnson as I think he is known on this site. Interesting they may be but they are not issues that would make me or many other people change their views on independence.

I would like to indulge in a personal comment that has no news value whatsoever but is a gut issue that might win hearts over more than shenanigans over Brexit and the ignored decisions of Scottish courts.

That is what is our flag and what are we as a nation and a people? Where do our allegiances lie? We should ask these questions because when – or if – we become independent then the UK will become a real foreign country – not the foreign country we have always know it was. This means we will be able to ignore Westminster, get rid of British troops from our soil, put our own interests first and hope our interfering southern neighbours will changes the habits of centuries and respect our right to live life as we see it on our side of the garden fence.

About 25 years´ ago I was going through US immigration at Miami airport and wrote “Scottish” on the form asking for my nationality. When I handed it to the official she scored “Scottish” out and scrawled “UK” instead. As I had already had experience of how American officials in uniform react to answering them back, I bit my tongue, dug my nails into my palms and entered the US legally but beelingly.

In fact, she had done nothing wrong and I had nothing to complain about because Scotland is not a sovereign state and does not issue its own passports. A smart-arse Irishman I knew gleefully pointed this out one drunken night, producing his Guinness harp-adorned passport for dramatic effect. Ouch!

A quarter of a century later I still have a British passport, a document I regard with the same disdain as the pass which black South Africans had to carry during the apartheid era. I might be accused of exaggerating because the English-dominated UK state has not treated me as harshly as the apartheid system treated non-white citizens. However, this “British” passport I am forced to carry in order to travel across an international border does not represent me or where I come from. It represents “This England”. After all, not only does “British” equal “English” in the eyes of many if not most English people but people in other countries know almost nothing about Scotland and think it is part of England. Broadcasters, newspapers and magazines routinely refer to England rather than the UK and show maps in which Scotland appears as part of England. I am sure all of us have had experience of this, either as visitors or as expatriates.

However, I no longer care or get frustrated. After all they are right. England has always been in the driving seat. Sure individual Scots have done well for themselves and even become prime minister or head of the military but the nation has never been given this chance. “England expects” and Scotland delivers.

The only view of “British” I now accept is related to geography – the British Isles – or history – the British Empire. The British army still flies the union flag over Edinburgh Castle like military occupiers showing who is in charge. It used to fly like that over places like Jalalabad, Delhi, Singapore, Washington, Dublin, Rangoon, Nairobi and Kingston just to remind the locals who was in charge. By continuing to fly over Edinburgh, it makes the point that Scotland is under British, i.e. English domination and there is a garrison there to show who is boss.

After all this Anglicization, I felt that if English people regarded British as being the same as English or associated with English values then let them use the term that way. Remember Humpty Dumpty in “Through the Looking Glass” who says, “When I use a word, it means just what I want it to mean”? So the English are welcome to it because “British” does not include “Scottish”, “Welsh” and “Irish” values and I doubt if it ever has.
Another term, “the Celtic fringe”, comes to mind. This is a patronizing insult used by the descendants of Anglo-Saxon invaders as if we Celts were an unsightly loose thread with a button on it dangling from a shirt. It might be best to try and sew it back on but why bother wasting time on such a trivial task?

This change from accepting to rejecting “Britishness” was a long process that took almost 30 years in my case. I was born in the 1950s when Scotland was an intrinsic part of the UK and nationalism as a political force was a dormant seed. The union flag flew high and the Saltire was relegated to cultural events. Supporters of independence in those days were portrayed as hairy, kilted savages wielding claymores and targes, the precursors of the woad-painted, bare-chested Conan the Barbarian types the unionist press still uses to illustrate articles about independence.

This was a ridiculous misrepresentation of Scottish nationalism then just as it is now. For example, it was not a horde of Bannockburn re-enactors that broke into Westminster Abbey in 1950 and repatriated the Stone of Scone but four middle class students with duffel coats and scarves. They “stole” it according to the press at that time although they were actually recovering stolen goods. I always found it interesting that none of these students was ever prosecuted. One of them, Ian Hamilton, claimed in 2008 that the UK government had taken this decision because it feared there would be protests in Scotland if they ended up in court.

This might sound irrelevant nowadays but it showed that these early supporters of independence – whether garbed in blue bonnets with eagle feathers or tweed jackets with leather elbow patches – were reflecting a genuine grievance. The dormant seed would start flourishing sooner than the complacent British Establishment ever imagined.

There may have been little support for independence among voters in those days but the UK governments were unknowingly stoking nationalist feelings by their contemptuous handling of Scotland´s interests. I don´t have space to go into all this here but a brief list would include the siting of Polaris missiles in the Holy Loch in the 1960s, the construction of a nuclear power reactor at Dounreay, which showed how that the UK regarded Scotland as a convenient carpet to shove its dirt under, the ending of steel production and coal mining, the Upper Clyde Shipyard closure, the poll tax etc. The discovery of vast oil reserves in the North Sea went to enrich the “British” Treasury. (Incidentally, I urge you to read James Robertson´s novel “And the Land Lay Still” which covers this period.)

After decades of this treatment Scots were finally learning that being “British” meant nothing. We were the minority then. The response of our unionist compatriots in the “Scottish” Labour, Conservative and Liberal parties was to say that the English were the majority so “sit back and dae whit ye’re telt!” As for the restoration of the Scottish Parliament, that was as a cynical move by the Labour government of the time to kill independence feelings “stone dead”. It backfired and provided a leadership under the SNP – OK and the Greens if you insist – that Scots did not have until then.

There was also a cultural undercurrent that was crucially important. This involved writers, musicians, artists, dramatists and film makers. Poets like Sorley MacLean, Robert Garioch, Norman MacCaig and, of course, dear old plodding Hugh MacDiarmid who tried to revive Scots as a language were and are unsung heroes. Our national anthem stopped being “God Save the Queen” and became “Flower of Scotland”. Andy Stewart and Moira Anderson stepped aside for the Corries, Five Hand Reel, Runrig and The Proclaimers.

The Saltire started to fly in public again, outnumbering the tired union banner that has outstayed its welcome. I cannot describe how thrilled I was to see the Saltire flying outside the City Chambers in George Square on a trip back to Glasgow. My dream is to see it fly over Edinburgh Castle and for the British flag to be hauled down, folded up and given away to whoever wants it because we certainly don’t.

I know there are still lots of Scots who regard themselves as British but they are an endangered species. The latest survey I could find from You Gov in 2016 showed that 56% of those interviewed felt “Scottish not British” or “More Scottish than British” while 29% felt “Equally Scottish and British”. Those who felt “British not Scottish” or “More British than Scottish” came to 10%. I imagine most of the latter were English or other non-Scots. This is an astonishing result and shows that more than half those polled were either hostile or indifferent to “Britishness”. Once that concept goes – as was seen in the Brexit vote – then the UK will collapse and Scotland will go its own way and be a nation again.

Don’t forget a majority of those born in Scotland actually voted “Yes” as did those aged up to 39 with the 40 to 50-year-olds split down the middle.

John Fitzpatrick is a lifelong supporter of independence. He comes from Glasgow and has worked as a journalist in several countries. He now lives in Brazil but visits Scotland regularly.

Bugger this fur a gemme o sodgies

According to the press office of the Conservatives we must not worry our pretty little heads about the fate of the NHS after Brexit. The “fact” is, they tell us, that the Prime Minister has repeatedly told us that the NHS will be safe in his hands and he won’t allow it to fall prey to US health corporations. So that’s OK then. I am sure that you will join me in feeling totally reassured after being given the word of a man who was sacked from his job, twice, for lying, who said that no Prime Minister would ever accept a regulatory border down the Irish Sea, who lied to the Queen, and who swore that he’d die in a ditch rather than send a letter to the EU asking for an extension to Article 50 before he sent a letter to the EU asking for an extension to Article 50. Boris Johnson has now lied so frequently, and with such readiness, that he’s now become extremely bad at telling the truth, and anyone who believes what he tells them deserves all that they get.

The only “fact” that anyone who isn’t Demonic Cum-mingers can see here is that whatever comes out of the mouth of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson can be relied upon about as much as you can rely on BBC Question Time not to have an audience stuffed full with elderly Brexit supporting Tories with English accents when they’re broadcasting from Dundee. Absolutely nothing that this sorry excuse for a government says or does can be counted upon to last a nanosecond longer than a change in their assessment of whatever they believe to be in their short term interests. Although this does assume that they’re saying the same thing to everyone, and there is every reason to believe that they’re not. It’s a safe bet that Number 10 is not spinning the same yarn to the Brextremists of the ERG as it is to those idiotic Labour MPs from leave voting seats that it’s trying to get on board with this disaster of a deal.

Today, the Government suffered yet another humiliation in the Commons due to the fact – there’s the correct use of that word there for you, Conservative spin office – that nae bugger can trust a single thing that the Government says or does. The Speaker refused to allow the Government another shot at its meaningful vote on the deal, since they had a chance on Saturday but blew it on account of being liars liars pants on fire. Instead the Withdrawal Agreement Bill will be published late on Monday, and put to the vote on Tuesday, giving MPs ample opportunity to make all sorts of amendments to it which, to paraphrase the words of the Japanese Emperor as he announced his Empire’s surrender in WW2, may cause events to not necessarily progress to Boris Johnson’s advantage.

MPs may force a change to the deal obliging the whole UK to remain within the EU customs union, and / or they could make the entire sorry mess subject to a confirmatory referendum. The reason that the Government was so desperate to get its deal passed in a simple meaningful vote on Saturday, and then tried again today, was that it would have prevented MPs doing exactly this. This Government is now facing the consequences that were spelled out by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “I’m not upset that you lied to me, I am upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” Incidentally, this is a philosophical aphorism which will likewise bite the bum of Better Together MkII in the next Scottish independence referendum. No wonder they’re so desperate to prevent us having one.

Meanwhile in Scotland, the Court of Session has decided to delay making a ruling in the “nobile officium” case brought by the SNP’s Joanna Cherry, the legal campaigner Jolyon Maugham, and the anti-Brexit businessman Dale Vince. The court’s senior judge, Lord Carloway, said that the court needed to be certain that the Prime Minister hadn’t tried to block or sabotage the letter he was forced to send asking the EU for an extension to Article 50. In a move more typical of a small child having a temper tantrum than the Prime Minister of the UK, the letter to the EU asking for the extension wasn’t signed, and was followed by another letter saying, in effect, “Please ignore that first letter because those mean kids made me send it.” This does seem pretty contemptuous, in all senses of the word. It’s a bit like putting in a request for a mortgage, and then following it up with a letter saying that you’re only going to spend the money on cocaine. Which come to think of it, certain members of this Government have previous for. The Prime Minister’s petulence does look to me like an attempt to block or sabotage the application for an extension, but then I’m not a judge.

I get where the judges are coming from. It’s only reasonable to seek greater certainty than a whole load of Scottish people on Twitter saying “G’wan, send the bastert tae Barlinnie, jist fur the shits and giggles,” when you’re a heid bummer judge at the Court of Session and you’re deciding whether to hold the Prime Minister in contempt. But g’wan, send the bastert tae Barlinnie. It’ll be a laff. Although this is not the opinion of a whole load of very irate Brexity people in the comments section of the BBC’s digital piece on the story, who are not at all happy that a Scottish court is daring to intrude on “their” Brexit. How very dare those uppity Jocks with their own courts and legal system get in the way of England’s Brexit.

I hope that everyone in Scotland is feeling the love following the country’s No vote in 2014. It was JK Rowling who said that if Scotland voted No we’d be in the heady position of a wife who was thinking about leaving but who had then changed her mind. The implication was that we’d be able to get pretty much anything we wanted from the almost spurned but not phew that was a close shave husband of Westminster. But then this is a fantasy writer, so what did we expect really?

Anyway, this is my last blog post until I get back from the USA visiting with my husband for our first wedding anniversary. Fingers crossed he’ll be living over here in the not too distant future. There will be a couple of guest posts while I am away to keep you entertained and edificated, if that’s a word. I’ll be back ranting as usual next week.

It’s going to be a relief to leave the craziness of Brexit for a wee while and only have the relative sanity of Donald Trump’s likely impeachment to dominate the news I’ll be seeing. I wish I could say that Brexit will be sorted by the time I get back, but naaaa. So instead I will leave you with this thought – every extra day of confusion, every new incidence of UK Parliamentary mess and delusion, every time Boris Johnson opens his lying gob, more voters in Scotland say to themselves, “Bugger this for a gemme o sodgies” and resolve to vote yes next time. The next time you feel weary and worn down by infighting, by SNPbaddery, by doubts and fears, just remember – we’re winning.


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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

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The new terms of the debate

Yesterday’s events in the House of Commons signalled something significant in British politics. It marked the breakdown of trust between Parliament and the Government that the Government will obey the law and act in an honourable and honest manner. Now you might think that you’ve never trusted the British Government, and you’d certainly not be the only one – especially in Scotland – but in this dysfunction that we call the British state, the collection of precedents, customs, habits, and laws which together pass for a British constitution can only work when both sides in Parliament trust that the precedents, customs, and habits will be adhered to. That has ceased to happen.

What we have in the UK is not a proper constitution, we have instead a gentleman’s agreement that was forged in the gentleman’s clubs and public schools of the 19th century. It was all very hail fellow well met. As long as you were the right sort of fellow. Originally confined to those deemed acceptable company at the dinner table in an upper class household, the British state proved itself to be very good at accommodating those who sought to challenge it, coopting them and absorbing them. The Labour party started as a movement aiming to undermine the pillars of the British establishment and ended up as one of the strongest pillars. However this could only work as long as everyone in the British establishment abided by these unwritten rules of fair play, decency, and honour. It could only work as long as everyone involved acted as a gentleman or woman.

The problem is that we now have a government of talentless opportunists, shysters, chancers, liars, and cheats. Boris Johnson may have the vowels of a gentlemen but he has the bowels of a bastard. This is a government which cannot be trusted to obey the law. It’s a government whose word cannot be trusted, as the DUP have discovered to their cost. Scottish Unionists beware, your unionism counts for nothing. Your loyalty is that of a faithful dog who finds itself abandoned by the side of a canal.

You cannot make a deal with a government which will betray you the second that it believes it’s in its interests to do so. Yesterday MPs were being asked to approve the Government’s Brexit deal even though this Government of the untrustworthy was refusing to allow MPs to see the details of its deal. At the same time the Government was refusing point blank to publish its economic assessments of the impact of its deal. MPs were being asked to buy a house without being allowed to see it, without being allowed to so much as glance at a home report, without being allowed to know whether its foundations were sound, without being allowed to know whether it would provide adequate shelter. Then Michael Gove declared that democracy is precious. It’s so precious that he wants to keep it locked away in the dark.

Had this deal been approved yesterday, the Benn Act would have had no effect. A deal would have been agreed by Parliament and so the conditions of the Benn Act would have been fulfilled. There would then be nothing to prevent the Brextremists of the ERG from refusing to pass the enabling legislation, ensuring that the UK falls out of the EU on 31 October without a deal. Don’t you think it’s at all suspicious that those MPs who were so vehement in the opposition to Theresa May’s deal are now lined up behind a deal that is universally agreed to be worse? A deal, moreover, which is rejected by the überunionists of the DUP whom the ERG had sworn to defend. The reason is because they knew that if the Commons had agreed to the principle of the deal yesterday, then they could wreck the details and ensure that there was no deal left by 31 October. Then there would be a no-deal Brexit by default.

Had the ERG not succeeded with its wrecking attempts between now and 31 October, they would have plenty more chances between now and 2020. That’s the date by which a final trade deal is supposed to be agreed between the UK and the EU. No agreement, and we’re back to a no deal Brexit. The ERG agreed to back the Prime Minister because they knew that it gave them plenty of opportunities to get the no-deal that they crave, and because they knew that backing it meant removing the chances of the opposition parties to block it.

Any party and MP who had agreed to the principle of the deal yesterday would have been complicit in turning the entire UK into a hostage of the Brextremists. Yesterday MPs decided that they couldn’t trust the untrustworthy, and voted not to approve it until they’ve had a chance to scrutinise the withdrawal legislation. That’s how democracy is supposed to work, not by handing a blank cheque to a known liar.

The lesson from the events of the past couple of weeks is a lesson for those who still call themselves Unionists. It’s a lesson for those in Scotland who still cling to the belief that the British state is a union. It’s not. The UK is a union of nations in name only. It is a unitary state with devolved decorations. Yet worse than that it’s a unitary state which lacks the proper constitutional checks and balances to ensure that the executive branch of government can be held to account. It’s a unitary state which persists in using a deeply unfair and unrepresentative system of elections which means that a government can achieve an absolute majority on as little as one third of the popular vote.

This is a unitary state which does not respect Scotland, because it doesn’t regard Scotland as a partner, but as a possession. Possessions are not given choices. Possessions are not consulted. Scotland is just a puppet in the pageant of Britishness, serving to disguise the nationalism of British nationalists from themselves. As soon as it no longer serves, it will be discarded, locked away, silenced and forgotten. A Scottish Unionist does not and cannot negotiate with the British state. They can only beg as supplicants. That’s what Brexit has taught us.

That’s a lesson which remains true even if by some miracle Brexit can be avoided. The UK that Scotland is a part of is not the UK that Scotland was told it was a part of in 2014. It is now highly unlikely that Brexit won’t happen, but the important truth that Brexit has revealed is a truth about the nature of the UK that was hidden from Scotland during the independence referendum of 2014. Scotland isn’t a partner in a family of nations. Scotland doesn’t have a voice or a say. Scotland is only to be respected insofar as it agrees and obeys with the interests of whoever happens to occupy Number 10 Downing Street. All by itself, that is a significant change in material circumstances that justifies an independence referendum. The debate in Scotland in 2014 was a debate about the nature of Scotland. In 2019 the debate in Scotland is a debate about the nature of the United Kingdom.


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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

GINGER2croppedGaelic maps of Scotland are available for £15 each, plus £7 P&P within the UK for up to three maps. T-shirts are £12 each, and are available in small, medium, large, XL and XXL sizes. P&P is £5 for up to three t-shirts. My books, the Collected Yaps Vols 1 to 4 are available for £11 each. P&P is £4 for up to two books. Payment can be made via Paypal.


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