The infantilism of British Nationalism

Very young children are completely ego-centric, until they get out of toddler-hood they still lack the mental development needed to understand that they are not the centre of the universe. Amongst other things this means that very young children, as they start to grasp the concept of family relationships first understand those relationships that involve them. So they quickly understand that one individual is their father or mother, that others are their grandmother and grandfather and their aunties and uncles. But what takes them longer to understand is that the individual who is their aunt is also their mother’s sister and their grandmother’s daughter. These latter are relationships which do not centre on the child

In the theory of cognitive development of the famous French child psychologist Jean Piaget, this ego-centrism is characteristic of what he terms the “preoperational” stage of child development. The egocentric child assumes that other people see, hear, and feel exactly the same as the child does. It’s only later, children grow and progress in their cognitive development that they start to understand other relationships and how relationships which do involve them fit into a network of wider relationships which includes relationships which do not centre on the child, as they do so they also start to understand that other people have their own points of view, and see things differently from how the child does.

As far as Scotland and Scottish independence go, British nationalism and its apologists are all too often still stuck in the infantile preoperational stage. They appear incapable of grasping that people in Scotland might perceive things differently, and crucially cannot comprehend the possibility that Scotland could develop relationships with other nations which do not involve England and the rest of the UK.

It would be nice if we could be certain that the Anglocentrism of British nationalism was simply a normal developmental stage that it was going to grow out of, but sadly that’s not the case. It’s very much a feature of the beast. British nationalism is quite literally infantile in a crucial respect. It perceives everything in terms of how it relates to England. That’s one reason why British nationalists are very quick to decry the desire for Scottish independence as being motivated by anti-English racism. In their infantile ideology there is no place for the concept that there is such a thing as a distinctively Scottish understanding of Scotland’s place in the world. Therefore if someone wants Scottish independence that can only mean that they must hate England and the English as that is the only possible explanation for Scottish independence that can be comprehended in an Anglocentric world view.

The infantile Anglo-centric nature of British nationalism was on full display in a recent article in the Sunday Times by Gillian Bowditch. The article itself lurks behind a paywall, however its gist was that Scotland is too small to “go it alone”. There’s a lot to unpack in those three little words. Her argument was that with all the problems currently besetting us, the pandemic, Brexit, Scotland needs its neighbours. There is, she tells us,” Simply no way a country the size of Scotland can go it alone in such times. We need to co-operate, share supply chains, and boost our buying power by collaborating — both at a governmental and business level”. Ironically Gillian has “live without fear” in her social media bio. Except you Scotland, you should be afraid, very afraid.

Firstly and most obviously Scotland is not too small for independence. The European countries of Malta,Iceland, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Cyprus, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the Irish Republic, Croatia, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Netherlands, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Moldova, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Switzerland are all smaller in area than Scotland’s 77,933 square km. Notably most of them lack the wealth of natural resources with which Scotland is blessed.

The nations of Iceland, Norway Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovenia, Estonia, Cyprus and Luxembourg all have fewer inhabitants than the 5,463,000 population of Scotland. Scotland’s population is only slightly smaller than those of Denmark, Finland and Slovakia, all of which have, like Scotland a population between five and six million.

Scotland is a medium sized European nation. Many of the countries which are smaller than Scotland in area or population are more prosperous and have higher standards of living than Scotland does as a part of the UK. Scotland is not small, it’s merely smaller than England, but when you are an Anglo-centric British nationalist that’s the only comparison which counts.

However more importantly, becoming independent does not mean that Scotland is “going it alone”. It’s British nationalism and Brexit which want to go it alone. It’s hypocritical in the extreme for a columnist in a Conservative supporting newspaper to tell us that we need to co-operate, share supply chains, and boost our buying power by collaborating with neighbouring countries. Well, quite. It’s galling to be told that we cannot break off relationships with our neighbouring countries by a neighbouring country which has insisted that Scotland break off its relationships with every other country apart from it. The lack of self-awareness is staggering.

There is precious little cooperation between countries going on in the United Kingdom. There is however a great deal of the largest nation in the UK dictating to the smaller ones what they have to do. There’s a British government which can’t even be bothered with the pretence of consulting with the devolved governments, far less is there is there the slightest sign that it takes their views and opinions on board and adapts its policies accordingly. British nationalism has no use for cooperation and partnership. It must be the master who dictates the terms to subordinates who must know their place and be grateful.

The entire point of independence is not to go it alone. It’s to allow Scotland to build and develop healthy and productive relationships with other nations as an equal and a true partner, not as a subordinate. British nationalism cannot comprehend that. Independence means growing up and escaping the infantile world view of British nationalism.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Calling an ambaileans for British nationalists

It’s a tough gig being a Scottish Unionist, constantly on the lookout for things to feel outraged about that can be laid at the door of the Scottish Government and the SNP, even if what they are complaining about is not actually the responsibility of the Scottish Government or the SNP. Parliament, both the Scottish and British ones are currently in recess for the summer, so it falls to British nationalist zoomers on social media to work themselves up into a pro-British froth of indignation in an attempt to salvage the Union.

Take “Linda”, who according to her Twitter bio is a Scot resident in Margaret Thatcher’s home town of Grantham who hates the SNP. Of course you just know that if you heard her say that rather than reading it on her social media account, she’d spit out “Thatessempee”, because folk like Linda always do. Anyway, Linda has decided to grace the land of her birth with a wee visit and while here took the opportunity to tweet her outrage about how she’d just seen her first Scottish ambulance with AMBAILEANS” written on the top of the cab and her first bilingual POLICE /POILEAS motor. Linda demanded to know what “cretin” thought that the front of an ambulance should have anything other than plain English written on the front of it.

Poor Linda, you can imagine her confusion and empathise with her puzzlement as she sits in her car in traffic and a big squarish van with yellow and green checker patterns and flashing blue lights with AMBAILEANS written on the side in big fluorescent lettering screeches at top speed through traffic lights while making a deafening nee-naw nee-naw noise as it wheechs past her car. Oh my god! “That must be an ice cream van, thinks Linda. And then she fumes at those nasty and exclusionary Scottish nationalists who’d deprive her of refreshments because she doesn’t know how to say “A ninety-nine and a strawberry Cornetto, please” in Gaelic. Just wait until she gets to a train station, her brain will melt.

Those bilingual signs on the roundabout in Fort William are actually part of a cunning plan to confuse the Lindas of this world and ensure that they remain trapped forever in a gyratory traffic flow system in a small West Highland town. That way they’ll never be able to share their hot takes about the Gaelic language with us on social media ever again.

I cannot stress this point enough. If a Gaelic roadsign confuses and upsets you to the point that you risk losing control of your car, this is indeed an extremely useful sign, one which serves a vital public service. It’s a sign that you should not be driving at all. It’s a sign that you’re a danger to other road users.

Social media was full of British nationalists, who neither speak Gaelic nor care for it, moaning that in any case the Scottish Gaelic word for ambulance is not “ambaileans” but rather “carbad-eiridinn” and complaining that “thatessempee” can’t even get its dastardly campaign to force Gaelic on us right. In fact “carbad-eiridinn” is a neologism, an invented word rarely used by native speakers, and generally confined to the most formal and puristic registers of the language. Native speakers invariably say “ambaileans” in everyday conversation. Yet when it comes to Scots, British nationalists get themselves worked up into a lather of indignation when neologisms are used in formal written registers, complaining that words like “wab-steid” are artificial and no one actually uses them in everyday conversation, where native Scots speakers invariably prefer the word website instead. However in Gaelic all of a sudden formal “artificial” vocabulary is the way to go, at least when it comes to finding some spurious reason to attack thatessempee. Maybe they can get themselves over to Google translate and find out how to say “hypocritical lack of consistency” in Gaelic.

Nowhere in the complaints of the British nationalists is there the slightest awareness of the crass arrogance of someone who neither speaks a language nor welcomes its presence in the public sphere having the unmitigated gall to lecture people who do actually speak, use and value the language on how it should be written “correctly.” Only English speaking monoglots have the arrogance and entitlement to insist that they know better than speakers of another language how that language should be written.

A more frequent complaint from the British nationalist language police is that no one is going to get lost due to the lack of a Gaelic town name in a train station or not be able to find an ambulance or a police car because it doesn’t have any Gaelic text on it. They are spectacularly and probably deliberately missing the point. The point of Gaelic signage in a train station or on a public service vehicle is not in order to lift the confusion of any Gaelic monoglot who happens to be passing. The only monoglots in Scotland are English speakers. Those would be the same monoglots who resent any reminders that Scotland has a rich and complex linguistic heritage quite apart from Scottish standard English.

The real purpose of Gaelic signage is to make a public declaration that the Gaelic language is valued and respected and that all of Scotland is the natural and proper territory of usage of the language. Gaelic signage exists both to raise the profile of the language and act as a visual reminder of its existence and importance and to raise the prestige of the language, demonstrating that it is accepted and appreciated in domains , such as official or governmental usage, from which it has been traditionally excluded. This is an invaluable means of boosting the confidence of speakers and demonstrating that the use of the language is welcomed and supported. This is vital in order to ensure that the language remains a living and vital part of the Scottish cultural landscape. It’s not because of the SNP that we see Gaelic on public signs, it’s because of commitments made by the British Government when it signed the European Charter for Minority and Regional languages. Those British governmental commitments with respect to Gaelic are implemented in Scotland by the Scottish Government acting on behalf of the British Government. I thought British nationalists liked it when the Scottish Government does what the British state expects of it – but not, apparently, when it comes to Gaelic.

But if you tell a rabid British nationalist that we only have Gaelic signage because of the international treaty obligations of the British government, they are likely to have a fit of apoplexy which might require them to call an ambaileans.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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When calling out a liar’s lies is worse than lying

I had intended to post a new blog piece yesterday (Thursday) but I had a very intensive ( and painful) physiotherapy session which left me wiped out. The physio said I’m an unusual case as I have recovered good movement but sensation and proprioception (awareness of where your limbs are in space) remain very poor. So she did a lot of work aimed at reawakening my numbed side with the aim of retraining my brain so that it remembers that the left hand side of the body exists. This involves subjecting my arm hand and leg to a lot of stretching, pulling and manipilation in order to generate strong nerve impulses which I can actually feel. Because of the damage caused by the stroke this means that my brain currently interprets these signals as pain, so the session hurt a lot and left me exhausted from the sensory overload the stroke damaged parts of my brain was subjected to.

On the way out I was definitely walking better and my shoulder is not as stiff and painful as it was. No pain no gain as they say. The physio is confident that I will continue to make improvement. She also suggested that I make an application for PIP as she thinks I am eligible for it. However I will have to make an appointment with the local Citizens Advice Bureau in order to make the application as I can’t hold a pen or fill in the form myself.

By the time I got home I was totally drained and exhausted, so no blog update – I went for a lie down. I’m still feeling pretty fatigued today, but I do feel better when I manage to get something written. So here we go.

Labour MP Dawn Butler has been suspended from the House of Commons for stating the obvious. After detailing several examples of Boris Johnson’s barefaced lies and citing a short video by the campaigner Peter Stefanovic which highlights – or rather lowlights – many more examples of the Prime Minister’s deceit, falsehoods, misleading statements and outright lies. You can see the video here

There’s even a website listing Johnson’s many lies, although only up to December 2019. https://boris-johnson-lies.com/ After that month’s election the site owner gave up, overwhelmed by the Conservative tsunami of falsehoods and “alternative facts”. There have been so many more since that at this point it would be easier to enumerate the truths – I’m sure there must be some – and assume that everything else uttered by a senior Conservative was a bare faced lie. Certainly Michael Gove lies as frequently and even more glibly than his boss.

So it’s not like pointing out that Boris Johnson is a liar is a controversial or contentious thing to say. The evidence that Boris Johnson is a liar is abundant and of long standing. It’s a matter of record that Johnson was sacked from the Telegraph for lying. It’s also a matter of record that he was sacked from David Cameron’s government for lying about an affair. His lies are well documented, numerous, well known, and habitual. Johnson’s old boss at the Telegraph newspaper Max Hastings, once described his former employee in damning terms saying, “There is room for debate about whether he is a scoundrel or mere rogue, but not much about his moral bankruptcy, rooted in a contempt for truth,” adding, “he cares for no interest save his own fame and gratification.”

Johnson has had several affairs, which means that he has no compunction about lying to his nearest and dearest just as he is prepared to lie to his boss and his colleagues. We even know that he was quite happy to tell a barefaced lie to the Queen in order to secure the prorogation of Parliament in an attempt to avoid scrutiny of his Brexit deal. If he’s going to lie to those people you can guarantee that he won’t have any problems lying to those he considers his social inferiors – which for an Eton boy is pretty much the entire population.

Yet when Dawn Butler called out the Prime Minister for their lies, their corruption, cronyism, their sleaze and their enabling of racists, suddenly it was her who was the bad guy. She was ordered by the deputy speaker to withdraw her remarks, and when she refused, pointing out quite correctly that it’s vital to hold liars to account otherwise they’ll just keep lying, she was instructed to leave the chamber. When you have a parliament in which it is a greater sin by far to call out a liar than it is to actually lie, you have a parliament which is unfit for purpose.

And that is precisely what we have in the UK, a Parliament that is unfit for purpose, incapable of performing the task of holding the executive branch of the government to account. In his excoriating account of Johnson’s character, published in The Guardian early in 2019 as Johnson was poised to secure the leadership of the Conservative party and become Prime Minister( link here) Hastings warned that Johnson’s “premiership will almost certainly reveal a contempt for rules, precedent, order and stability.”

That has proven to be the case, the problems compounded by the challenges of a pandemic which would have tested the capacities of even the most competent leadership to the limit. Johnson and his cronies instead used the pandemic as an opportunity to enrich their friends as they hummed and hawed, delayed, stalled and back tracked on public health, mixing vital messages that could have saved thousands of lives as often as Johnson mixes his metaphors. We have a British Government which lies without compunction, which tears up international agreements the moment they no longer suit, which is prepared to break international law and which treats the public and the devolved nations with arrogant contempt.

A Parliament hidebound by arcane rules and archaic conventions is utterly incapable of holding these charlatans, shysters and moral bankrupts to account. Dawn Butler’s expulsion proves that, as if we didn’t already know. The British Parliament is performative not practical. It exists primarily to give a veneer of democratic responsibility to a government which suffers no effective checks on its absolute power.

And that is why devolution is now in great danger. Brexit removed the last significant constraints upon the British government. The devolved governments represent the last bastion of power within the UK which is beyond the control of Downing Street. Just this week alone we have seen two assaults on the devolution settlement, the so-called UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the replacement for the EU social and structural funding which were disbursed to the devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Unlike the EU funding, which was controlled by the devolved governments, the new fund will be entirely controlled by Westminster, even though it is to be spent on devolved competencies. It represents another power grab by Downing Street at the expense of the devolution settlement. Remember that Vow that the Tories signed up to in 2014 in an effort to persuade Scotland to reject independence, the Vow that promised no changes to devolution without Holyrood’s consent? You won’t be surprised to learn that was a lie too.

Holyrood can’t protect Scotland from this British Government of liars, cheats, charlatans and racists. Scotland’s Westminster MPs can’t protect Scotland either. Dawn Foster made a noble stand against Johnson’s lies and deceits, a stand that was also made by the SNP’s Westminster leader just a couple of weeks ago. But to no effect. Westminster is not an institution which can cope with creatures as morally and ethically bankrupt as Johnson, Gove, and the rest of this shameless bunch of liars.

There are still those in Scotland who harbour fond hopes that the British system of government can be reformed, that power can be distributed away from the office of the Prime Minister and decentralised. It can’t. Despite the lies and the sleaze, despite the criminal incompetence, too many in the UK are still in thrall to the myth of British exceptionalism, even though these recent months have revealed that it’s a myth with lethal consequences.

Escaping this deceitful and ethically bankrupt Britain is not just essential in order to preserve Scottish self-government, it’s a moral imperative. When it’s considered a worse sin to call out a liar for his lies than it is to lie, it’s time to get out.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Pat McFadden’s nightmare

An email to a Tony Blair’s chief of staff Jonathon Powell has been released by the National Archives today, following the rule that government information, including private correspondence is to be published after 30 years. In the email, by Pat McFadden who is now a Labour MP but who at the time was Blair’s special advisor on Scotland, McFadden said that the late Donald Dewar, who was then the Secretary of State for Scotland, believed that the Scottish Parliament would have the power to hold an independence refedrendum without Westminster’s consent. In the email, dated July 22, 1997, McFadden said some Scottish MPs were very scared “that such a referendum could take place” and feared “the slippery slope to independence”.

McFadden wrote that what concerned the Labour MPs was that according to the model of reserved powers which was later adopted in the Scotland Act which is the legislative cornerstone of devolution, Holyrood will have the power to legislate on anything not on the reserved list. The power to hold referendums is in itself not a reserved matter, therefore,”Mc Fadden added, “[Holyrood] can have referendums on anything it wants, even if it cannot enact the result.” He went on to say that the Scottish Secretary of State Donald Dewar was of the view that Holyrood would be able to hold a referendum on independence as well, even though the constitution was on the list of matters reserved to Westminster, and admitted that this followed the logic of the UK Government’s White Paper on devolution.

McFadden wrote: “Donald’s view is that the Scottish Parliament can have a referendum on whatever it likes, even matters outside its competence, which is in line with the logic of the White Paper.”

Although the email has no legal effect, it does vindicate the view of legal experts who have argued that even though the constitution is a reserved matter, Holyrood could nevertheless hold a referendum to test public opinion on independence, even if it can’t legislate on constitutional matters. Although the outcome of such a referendum would not have a legal effect, a victory for supporters of independence would have immense political importance both within the UK and internationally. The referendum would be a consultative one, just like the EU referendum was, and legally it would still be for Westminster to legislate in order to put the result into effect. However as we saw from the Brexit referendum, the political imperative to act on the outcome of even a consultative referendum is overwhelming. The same would be true following a vote in Scotland for independence.

We are currently in a situation where we have a Scottish Government and a large majority of MSPs in Holyrood who have been elected by the people of Scotland specifically in order to ask the country for its views on independence in a referendum. Moreover the anti-independence parties stood on a platform of opposition to consulting the country on its views on independence and were heavily defeated. The logic of the White Paper of Blair’s government upon which the devolution settlement is based is very much that this is a situation where the political demand for a consultation in a referendum of the views of the people of Scotland on independence is crystal clear.

That was precisely McFadden’s fear.

Recently the former Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins, who when he’s not trolling on Twitter with references to Rangers football team is a professor of law, admitted that the legal position of an independence referendum held without Downing Street’s consent was far from clear and that the British Government could not simply assume that the referendum would be struck down by the courts and ruled to be unlawful. There are, he conceded, good legal grounds for arguing that it would be perfectly lawful. Westminster’s claim to absolute sovereignty rests upon the fact that it was until the introduction of devolution the only democratically elected legislature in the UK. That position has now changed. Both the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments have political and democratic legitimacy independent of that of Westminster. Tomkins also admitted that court decisions following the Brexit referendum had considerably muddied the legal waters on the question of the absolute sovereignty of Westminster.

The current position is that the Scottish Government intends to press ahead with a referendum within the term of the current Parliament but after the crisis phase of the pandemic has ended, and to dare Johnson to challenge it in the courts. Irrespective of any ultimate court ruling, even the mere act of a Conservative government in Westminster taking the Scottish Government to court in order to thwart it from putting into effect what it was given an explicit mandate to do by the electorate of Scotland would be politically explosive.

Court action to block a referendum would be an acknowledgement from the British Government that in its view the traditional understanding of the Union as being based on consent was no more and that it was willing to overrule the democratic will of the people of Scotland and prevent them from “choosing the form of government best suited to their needs”. That would be immensely damaging to support for the Union within Scotland (as well as Wales and Northern Ireland) and this is why although Johnson and his allies make no secret of the fact that they will won’t agree to another referendum, they stop short of spelling out precisely how they propose to prevent one from happening.

They know that any steps they take to block a referendum only makes independence more likely and chips away even further at the already crumbling foundations of the Union. They also know that there is no guarantee they’d succeed, placing opponents of independence in an impossible position in a referendum, where they would have to campaign in defence of a UK which did not believe that the future of Scotland should be decided by the people of Scotland, in effect making a case for why democracy in Scotland should be subject to the whims of a government and party which the people of Scotland have repeatedly rejected at the ballot box.

Even if they did succeed, and the courts ruled that a referendum was unlawful, the political pressure for Scotland to have a say on its own future would not simply go away. If anything it would intensify, as Scotland faced the fact that the traditional basis of the Union was a lie and that this is not a union founded on the consent of the people of Scotland, but upon compulsion and the decisions of a government elected by the largest partner in this so-called Union. However ultimately no British Government can prevent the people of Scotland forever from deciding on the future of Scotland.

Over the weekend, The National newspaper revealed that the SNP are preparing for a new independence referendum campaign with the party publishing new material updating arguments for independence in the context of Brexit and the pandemic. The next year is going to be crucial for Scotland’s future. Pat McFadden’s nightmare is about to come true.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The shame of British nationalism in Scotland

The comedian Billy Connolly used to quip that in an attempt to avoid answering the loaded question, “Are you a Catholic or a Protestant?” He’d respond that he was an atheist, only to be asked? “Aye, but are you a Catholic atheist or a Protestant atheist?” It seemingly being of huge importance to the questioner to know which god he didn’t believe in the most. Of course in a Scottish and Irish context the concept of a Catholic versus a Protestant atheist makes perfect sense. It is, as they say, funny because it’s true. That’s because as anyone from northern Ireland or West Central Scotland knows, it’s not really a question about your own beliefs or philosophy. The questioner is not asking whether you believe in the Transubstantiation, the Apostolic Succession, Predestination or the doctrine of church governance through an assembly of elders. In fact they are not asking whether you even believe in a Christian God or indeed any type of deity at all.

That’s because what is really being asked is whether your family background lies in a community traditionally opposed to British rule and the British state. Historically – at least since the “Pacification” of the Highlands and the mass conversion of its inhabitants to Presbyterianism in the second half of the eighteenth century, by far the largest community in Scotland which was traditionally hostile to British rule and the British state was the Irish Catholic community.

That’s why it was this community which was subjected to systemic discrimination in jobs, housing and education in Scotland throughout the 19th and most of the 20th centuries. Since members of this community could not be physically distinguished from the majority Protestant (and at least until recently) British identifying part of the Scottish population, and because the children of Irish Catholic families born and brought up in Scotland could not be distinguished by accent or speech, religion became a convenient proxy for telling apart Scottish people whose family background lay in a traditionally non-British identifying community from those Scots who came from a community which was traditionally content to accept Britishness and loyalty to King and Empire.

What gets called sectarianism was not then and never was, primarily about religion. It was and is a means of asserting the dominance of Britishness and the British state. By calling it sectarianism or pretending that it’s only an issue for supporters of certain football clubs in the West of Scotland, the true nature of British nationalist anti-Irish racism is disguised and a false equivalence is set up, allowing British nationalists in Scotland to absolve themselves of any complicity with the bigotry and discrimination which played a vital role in establishing and securing a British identity in Scotland. But while there are plenty of instances of name calling or football associated hooliganism on both sides, it was only ever Scots from Irish Catholic family backgrounds who were systematically excluded from certain professions, work places or social and sporting clubs. There was once a time in Scottish history when the only way that a Catholic got into university was if Burke and Hare stole their body.

Anti-Irish racism in Scotland was a fundamental component of British nationalism in Scotland. The means by which a British identity was established in Scotland was through exclusion and discrimination against those Scots whose loyalty to King and Empire could not be relied upon. A British identity in Scotland was founded upon social exclusion, bigotry, and discrimination. That’s the dirty secret that British nationalism in Scotland still refuses to face up to.

Every year Scotland is forced to endure parades through the streets of our towns and cities aggressively celebrating a British nationalist triumphalism, fostering the divisions that allow and create British rule. As MSP James Dornan points out in an article in The National today (HERE), we would not tolerate annual parades to celebrate discrimination against Muslims or any other minority community in Scotland. However the anti-Irish racism of Orange Walks is tolerated and allowed in the name of “tradition and culture”. Hatred isn’t culture, and tradition is no excuse for bigotry. Maybe your granny was a terrible racist – that doesn’t give you permission to be a racist too.

The fact that a tradition of social exclusion, racism and intolerant British nationalism has been passed down the generations does not legitimise it. If anything it makes it worse. An Orange parade is a drum thumping example of institutionalised racism. The only reason these annual hate-fests are allowed to continue is because they are one of the traditional pillars of British rule in Scotland and their fundamental association with British nationalism means that political parties and politicians who are apologists for British nationalism refuse to call them out. Because to do so would be an admission that British nationalism in Scotland is in itself divisive and founded in racism and social exclusion. It would be an admission that British nationalism and Britishness in Scotland is guilty of all those sins that apologists for British rule in Scotland accuse Scottish nationalists of. It would be an admission that Britishness isn’t the victim, it’s the victimiser.

Those same Conservative politicians who rail against the supposed divisions created by the Scottish independence movement and bewail the disruption to traffic and shoppers caused by peaceful and good-natured marches and rallies for independence say nothing about the annual displays of British nationalist supremacy which exult the anti-Irish racism upon which British nationalism in Scotland is based, followed as they invariably are by drunken brawls in our parks and on our streets. The Tories are far too busy wrapping themselves in Union flags to call out that flag’s associations with division and hate. Let’s be honest here, when you see a Union flag flying from a private house in Scotland, your first thought isn’t “Oh what a nice non- nationalist gesture of inclusion and tolerance.” It’s “I wonder if they hate Scots with an Irish Catholic heritage and immigrants along with independence supporters?”

The first step to tackling so-called sectarianism is to recognise that it’s really anti-Irish racism, the second is to recognise that it is not Scotland’s shame, it’s a shame of British nationalism in Scotland.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The Great Wall of Bull

I’d never heard of Kevin Foster and I’m willing to bet that despite the fact that most of the regular readers of this blog take a keen interest in politics, they’ve never heard of him either. However Kevin is the latest no-mark Conservative politician to come to Scotland to tell the benighted natives some scary stories in the hope that we’ll stop worrying our tiny wee Caledonian minds with thoughts of this independence lark.

Kevin is apparently the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Immigration, which means that he’s a very junior minion to Priti Patel at the Home Office. His duties presumably include things like helping to deport desperate migrants rescued from leaky dinghies in the English Channel so that his boss can smirk about it in the House of Commons.

On Wednesday Kevin was in Linlithgow, where there are not many desperate migrants in leaky dinghies on Linlithgow Loch whose difficulties Kevin’s boss could smirk about, so instead in order to score some nasty party points he warned journalists that the SNP’s plans for an independent Scotland as a part of the EU and the Schengen Area would necessarily mean the creation of a hard border with the rest of the UK requiring passport checks. He described this as the creation of the “Great Wall of Gretna”, probably because he fancied this as a snappy phrase that would generate some newspaper headlines in an overwhelmingly anti-independence press which would uncritically repeat his claims. Then just maybe the next time Kevin’s name was mentioned people wouldn’t go “Who? Never heard of him.” Although it’s likely that they’ll still do that anyway.

However Kevin’s claims could far more accurately be described as a Great Wall of Bullshit. The SNP does want an independent Scotland to become a part of the EU, but joining the EU does not necessarily entail becoming a part of the Schengen Area. The Schengen Area comprises 26 European countries which have officially abolished all passport and all other types of border control at their mutual borders. Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Cyprus are all EU members but none is a part of the Schengen Area. All except Ireland are committed to joining the Schengen Area eventually but there is no hard and fast timetable for them to do so. Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are not members of the EU but are all members of the Schengen Area. Ireland is a member of the EU but remains a member of the Common Travel Area along with the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

It’s important to understand the difference between the Schengen Area and freedom of movement for European citizens throughout the European Economic Area. The Schengen Area means no passport checks or controls on the mutual borders of member states. Freedom of movement means a European citizen has the legal right of entry into another European Union (or EEA)state and the right to settle and work there without having to apply for a special visa. However if you are an EU citizen crossing into a country that’s a part of the Schengen Area from a country that is not, you will still be required to show a passport, however you cannot be turned away at the border and do not need to prove you intend to return home.

Before any new state can join the Schengen Area it must gain the unanimous agreement of the existing members. Cyprus has indefinitely delayed the implementation of its membership of the Schengen Area pending the resolution of the dispute with Northern Cyprus. Ireland chose to opt out of the Schengen Area because it wished to maintain passport-free travel with the UK, the only state with which Ireland shares a land border.

There are no passport controls in operation for Irish and UK citizens travelling between the two countries. You do not need to have a passport to enter the other country. However, you must show identification in order to board a ferry or an airplane, and some airlines and sea carriers will only accept a passport as valid identification.

The two key points to note here are that joining the EU does not entail automatically becoming a part of the Schengen Area at the same time, and that as the cases of Ireland and Cyprus prove, the EU is perfectly willing to take the individual circumstances of states into account when it comes to membership of the Schengen Area. The Scottish Government has said that in the event of Scottish independence it would wish for Scotland to remain a part of the Common Travel Area with Ireland and the rest of the UK.

This would mean there would be no need for passport checks on travellers crossing between Scotland and England or travelling between Scotland and Ireland. Since Scotland’s only land border is with England, the EU would not have an issue with this. The EU is not in the business of using the Schengen Agreement, an agreement designed to remove passport checks and border checkpoints, in order to impose them needlessly on a country which has no land border with any member of the Schengen Area. It is rank scaremongering of the worst kind to suggest otherwise, which means it’s a safe bet that the Conservatives and their allies will assert it’s going to happen.

If there are to be checks on border crossings as a result of an independent Scotland rejoining the European Single Market and Customs area and restoring the right of freedom of movement throughout the EU to citizens of an independent Scotland, these would only necessarily be checks on commercial traffic which could be carried out away from the border itself. If Scotland remains a part of the Common Travel Area along with Ireland there would be no passport checks on individuals crossing the border and Scottish citizens would retain the right to travel to, settle in, and work in the rest of the UK, without the need to show a passport at the border, just as Irish citizens have the right to do now.

Dr Kirsty Hughes an expert in European law who founded the Scottish Centre on European Research, described Kevin Foster’s claims as scaremongering, and called him a hypocrite, saying: “Putting barriers between Britain and the EU – and barriers within the UK between Britain and Northern Ireland – is what Brexit did. Unlike Brexit, an independent Scotland would be independent in the EU – ie re-joining an almost half billion person market, not retreating into third country isolationism like the UK.”

One thing is certain, we will be seeing a lot more Conservative scaremongering and hypocrisy in the months ahead.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

Donate Button

Null points for grace in defeat

Well thank all the gods we don’t have to listen to or watch the supposedly British media banging on about an England victory for the next 55 years. Isn’t it really unpleasant being taken out of Europe against your will? Maybe now they understand a wee bit what Scotland felt like. At one point in the match England was 1-0 up. I didn’t see the goal but immediately thought that was no great shame, because if England had won the BBC would be showing the replay of the goal every weekend for thirty years to come. The Italian victory means that we now have the definitive answer to the question : what’s the difference between a collie dog and football? Lassie came home. In the event football didn’t come home, it came to Rome instead and for that small mercy we in Scotland should be truly grateful. If England had won, not only would we never have heard the end of it, we’d also have been subjected to constant loyalty tests and accusations of anti-English racism for the crime of failing to display sufficient enthusiasm for England’s victory.

Certainly some people in Glasgow were delighted and relieved that Italy won, family there reported that as soon as the game had finished they could hear fireworks. It’s been a great year for Italy. They’ve won both the European Cup, the European championships for straight people, and the Eurovision Song Contest, the European championships for gay people.

It would be nice to say that the England fans, the team, and the English media showed grace, good manners and sportsmanship in defeat, but instead we got more of that sorry display of petulant entitlement that has characterised England’s progress throughout the competition, culminating with the players sullenly removing their runner up medals seconds after being awarded them. Grace in defeat is clearly not one of those English values we kept hearing about. As far as a sporting and graceful attitude to losing out goes, England did as well as the UK did at Eurovision, scoring null points. Scotland might have a poor team but at least Scotland fans know how to accept defeat with good grace. A cynic might retort that that’s because we’ve had plenty of experience at losing, but then so has England.

The behaviour of some of the fans was boorish, entitled and aggressive, with no respect for anyone else. The scenes of violence were nauseating but sadly all too familiar. But that’s what happens when you have a media which constantly puffs and preens about England’s chances and reinforces the belief that the England team has a god given right to victory. One right wing Brexit supporting group published a graphic online showing Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, Captain Tom Moore and Madelaine McCann and urged the team to “do it for them”. It was truly nauseating in its tastelessness.

One large group of fans attempted to force its way into the stadium. Fights broke out in Trafalgar Square where fans had gathered before the match. There were few masks worn and any pretence of social distancing was abandoned. These are the people whose “common sense” and “sensible judgement ” Boris Johnson is relying on to keep covid infection rates down as he abandons all lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

Italy’s national anthem and the players taking the knee in solidarity with anti racist campaigners were loudly booed, despite the efforts of the BBC to muffle the volume. The booing and boorishness didn’t fit the media narrative that the England team represented inclusion and progressive values. Following the result England’s black players, especially those who had missed a penalty, were subjected to torrents of racial abuse on social media.

Prince William was at the match looking extremely sad, rehearsing the expressions he’ll wear when Scotland becomes a republic. That’s the prince who only very recently was so very eager to tell us how much he loved Scotland and how much Scotland meant to him and his family, although not so much to bother ever putting their faces in at a Scotland match. Boris Johnson, who awarded himself the title of minister for the Union was happy to appear wearing an England shirt and pose with England flags as he shamelessly sought to portray himself as an English nationalist and co opt the team to his own purposes. The difference between the Minister for the Union’s demonstrations of support for England and the support he displayed for Scotland and Wales was stark. It was the difference between a fully produced West End song and dance production and badly whistling a couple of bars of a misremembered song in the shower.

England’s pundits, who until now were puffed up with hype and buoyed by English exceptionalism were last night like slowly deflating spacehoppers full of farts, hissing poison at a manager and a team that a mere few hours previously were hailed as heroes who walked on water. England doesn’t need Scots to slate its football team when it’s got embittered Brexit supporting attention seeking drinkers at the fount of English exceptionalism who do the job so well by themselves, and no one ever accuses them of anti English racism. They just get accused of other flavours of racism.

The real losers however were not England’s players, it was the media and institutions of the UK which lost themselves in an orgiastic display of English nationalism and exceptionalism and abandoned any pretence that they also theoretically represent the other nations of the UK. The last few weeks laid bare the true nature of the UK and its media and institutions of government. They are vehicles for English nationalism where any recognition of the other nations of the UK is merely as a pretty bauble to decorate Englishness. The UK is not a state which can ever truly represent Scotland. As parts of the UK Scotland and Wales exist solely in order to disguise the true nature of the British state and British nationalism as English nationalism writ large, and to feed the myth of exceptionalism that tells proponents of British nationalism that their nationalism is better than other nationalisms because it’s not really nationalism at all.

That self serving fairy story has been exposed by Brexit and by the hysteria of the British media over the course of England’s progress in the Euros. If England had won we’d not only never have heard the end of it, we’d also have been accused of anti-English racism for failing to enthuse. It would be nice to think that last night’s defeat would burst the bubble of the English/British media and institutions and make them reflect on how they managed to alienate and antagonise the non-English parts of the UK to such an extent. But we all know that’s not going to happen.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

Donate Button

Qualifying as Italian

I don’t usually write about the fitba, seeing as how I’m missing that gene that makes watching twenty-two millionaires ruin a perfectly good lawn into a spectacle that evokes passion, excitement and, depending on the result, ecstasy or despair. This is probably because my dad was a Clyde fan, before he abandoned the team in favour of Celtic when it abandoned Glasgow, so my childhood memories of fitba matches involve being bored witless after being dragged to see Clyde versus Albion Rovers as they desultorily trundled up and down a muddy pitch on a soaking wet Saturday afternoon in Coatbridge and being desperately disappointed on discovering that when we got the Bovril and the mince pies it was only half time so we didn’t get to go home but had to wait and endure the entire cold, pointless and drookit experience all over again.

It was a bit like getting a mild form of an illness in childhood, which made you immune from it for the rest of your life. This was back when we only had three TV channels and although sport dominated on BBC1 and STV on Saturday afternoons, BBC2 showed old black and white movies instead. Ever after, whenever my fitba-daft father tried to persuade me to come see a match with him and my brother and uncles, I made it very clear that I would far rather stay at home and watch the Busby Barkley musical being shown on BBC2. It had glamour, style, glitz and extravaganza, not to mention high campery, all things that you were going to struggle to find at a second division Scottish fitba match in North Lanarkshire in the early 1970s. It was round about then that when my father went to Mass he started to say a wee prayer to St. Clothilde, the patron saint of disappointing children.

So I was never going to be much interested in the Euros. I was pleased that Scotland had finally managed to qualify for a major championship contest, because I’m not actually a monster. However even though I don’t pay much attention to fitba, you’d have to have spent the past twenty five years on psychotropic drugs to have gone into the contest with the expectation that the Scotland team was going to end up as the champions.

Fans of Scotland’s national fitba team have had decades in which to live with the knowledge that for all their passion and commitment, Scotland isn’t actually that good at the sport which we are pleased to call the national game. This year’s Euros was the first time that Scotland had even managed to qualify for a major international tournament since 1998. Hope ran high, but realistic expecations and a long history of disappointments told a very different story. The passion and commitment remained the same, but for Scotland fans it really was the participation, the mere fact we were there at all, which was the most important thing.

It’s a trite adage, but in the case of Scotland and international football it really is true, it’s not the winning that counts, it’s the taking part. For a couple of glorious weeks Scotland was an ordinary European nation, participating as equals alongside our peers in Denmark, Croatia, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and England. We were not subordinated to anyone, not subsumed in a team GB that’s really just England by another name. Scotland was present as itself. And while we might not have won, Scotland and its fans showed that they are champions when it comes to sportsmanship.

If you’d been hiding under a rock you might have thought that the Euros were over, but you’d soon be disabused of that notion every time you turn on the TV or look at the pages of a supposedly British newspaper, England is playing Italy in the final on Sunday and already the triumphalism and entitlement is in full flow. The BBC has abandoned any pretence of being a public service broadcaster for all the nations of the UK, devoting itself to wall to wall coverage of the England match in a way that it’s hard to believe it would do for a Scotland match. When it comes to sport in general and football in particular, England is a poor loser and an even worse winner, and Sunday’s match is being hyped up as a chance to revisit the glories of a certain fitba match in 1966 that we’re never going to be allowed to forget about.

Politicians and public figures have desperately leapt on the bandwagon. So we see Boris Johnson, who awarded himself the title Minster for the Union, posing outside Downing Street on a giant English flag and posing for photo ops wearing an England shirt. All week the Union flag lapel badge that is apparently obligatory for Conservative politicians has been replaced on his suit jacket by a wee England badge. It’s hard to imagine him doing the same for a Scotland match. That heir to the throne who was so keen to tell us how much Scotland means to him in an effort to fend off Scottish independence has never been seen at a Scotland match, but there he was with his wee boy cheering on England. Johnson has hinted that he might declare a UK wide bank holiday if England wins on Sunday.

English exceptionalism is on full and ugly display when sporting fixtures are concerned. It’s not the fault of the players or ordinary fans. It’s the fault of a hysterical and over the top media which latches on to sporting victories as a substitute for England’s lost greatness. It allows English nationalists to forget, even if only briefly, that their nation is no longer a global superpower ruling over a quarter of the globe, but a middle sized European nation whose leadership and institutions all too often find basic competence too much of a stretch. Sporting victories mean so much to them because it’s all that they’ve got.

If England wins on Sunday we won’t hear the end of it for another fifty years. The supposedly British media is graceless, resentful and entitled whenever England lose, but they are utterly unbearable whenever England win.  A majority of England’s voters might have chosen to leave the EU and decided that Scots had to lose their European citizenship too, but on Sunday I’ll be remembering all those times I enjoyed an ice cream at Nardini’s in Largs and figuring that’s more than enough to qualify me as Italian.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The Tories should be careful what they wish for

Writing in the Times newspaper, Professor of political science Matt Qvortup has warned Boris Johnson of the political dangers of taking the Scottish government to court in order to block a second independence referendum. Qvortup believes that the UK Supreme Court would rule that an independence referendum without the express consent of the Westminster parliament would be unlawful. He draws a parallel to Catalonia, where the Spanish Supreme Court ruled that the Catalan independence referendum was unconstitutional and against the law.

Qvortup is a professor of political science, not a lawyer. Some legal experts such as the former Conservative MSP Adam Tomkins are far less certain that the courts would ultimately rule in favour of Westminster and decide that a consultative referendum held by Holyrood was in fact unlawful. The legal position is far from clear, unlike in Spain. What is certain is that the very act of an unpopular Conservative Prime Minister taking legal action in order to thwart the democratic will of the people of Scotland would itself have massive political consequences irrespective of the eventual outcome.

There are enormous political and legal differences between Spain and the UK in terms of the political and legal status of independence movements, and these differences make for a very distinct political context in the UK which means that a ruling from the UK Supreme Court that Holyrood did not have the legal right to hold another independence referendum without the express consent of Downing Street would most certainly not be the end of the matter. Indeed Qvortup believes that such a ruling would only strengthen the desire for independence within Scotland and make Scottish independence more likely rather than pulling the rug from underneath the independence movement in Scotland forever as Boris Johnson and the Conservatives might hope.

Catalonia is a part of Spain because of the dynastic union of the Crown of Aragon (which included Catalonia) and the Crown of Castile (basically the rest of modern Spain). However Catalonia retained considerable self-government until the king in Madrid unilaterally abolished the Catalan Parliament, known as la Generalitat, in the aftermath of the War of Spanish Succession in 1707 and imposed centralised rule throughout the entire Spanish state. There was never any question of the Catalan parliament or the people of Catalonia being consulted on the matter, far less was their consent required. The old Catalan parliament was abolished because it had supported the losing side in the War of Spanish Succession.

The biggest and most important difference between the UK and Spain is that the Spanish Constitution quite explicitly specifies that no part of the territory of the Spanish state has the right to independence.The territory of Spain, the constitution states, is una e indivisible “one and indivisible”. An independence referendum in Catalonia would be unlawful even if the government in Madrid was disposed to give consent to it. The only path to independence recognised as lawful by the Spanish constitution would be via a referendum held throughout Spain. The equivalent for Scotland would entail Scottish independence being approved in a UK-wide referendum.

The UK’s political and constitutional tradition is very different from Spain’s. The understanding of traditional Scottish Unionism and all British governments has always been that the UK is a union founded on consent and that it is for the people of Scotland to decide whether to continue the union or to end it. This difference is due to the varying ways in which the modern states of Spain and the UK were formed. Although Scotland was under severe economic and political pressure from England, the Union of 1707 which abolished the old Scottish Parliament was a voluntary one. If forming the Union was voluntary on the part of Scotland, ending it should be voluntary on the part of Scotland too.

The voluntary nature of the union has always been the view of successive British Governments. The Scottish Claim of Right which states that the people of Scotland have the right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs was adopted and approved by the Westminster Parliament. The referendum of 2014 set a precedent. That referendum came about because Westminster accepted that the people of Scotland had elected a government with a manifesto commitment to an independence referendum, as the people of Scotland did again in 2019.

By signing the Edinburgh Agreement the British Government implicitly accepted that it’s for the people of Scotland to decide whether or not Scotland should become independent. If Johnson’s government was to take legal action in order to block another referendum, irrespective of the judgement eventually delivered, it would be a clear signal that the British Government no longer believes that the question of Scottish independence is for the people of Scotland to decide. That would be as clear a political statement as possible that the traditional understanding of the Union was dead. That would still be the case even if they attempted the transparent ruse of getting a supposedly private individual to take the case on their behalf. This is why the Conservatives have carefully avoided saying that they’d take legal action to block a referendum if the Scottish Government presses ahead with one.

If the UK Supreme Court, packed full – as Qvortup points out – with posh English lawyers, was to rule that the occupant of 10 Downing Street had an effective veto on a Scottish independence referendum, it would destroy the traditional foundations of Scottish Unionism. Scotland’s membership of the Union of the UK would no longer rest upon the consent of the people of Scotland but rather upon the will of a Prime Minister in Downing Street from a party which Scotland didn’t necessarily vote for, and in the case of Boris Johnson a Prime Minister who is massively unpopular in Scotland.

Qvortup warns the Conservatives that the anger that this would create in Scotland would lead to a boost in support for independence and the generation of considerable political capital for the pro-independence parties. With a Scottish First Minister who enjoys a high reputation abroad and a British Prime Minister who is widely disliked and distrusted in Europe, this could lead to significant international pressure on Downing Street to concede to the democratic will of the people of Scotland, pressure which the Scottish Government would be quick to exploit. And ultimately, no British Government can prevent the people of Scotland from voting explicitly for independence in a Westminster General Election or a Scottish Parliamentary election.

Qvortup’s warning to the Conservatives who would like a court ruling that Holyrood cannot hold an independence referendum without the Prime Minister’s permission is to be very careful what you wish for. The political consequences will only make Scottish independence more likely in the longer term.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The death of devolution

On Monday Dominic Cummings confirmed something that we’ve all known for quite some time. He said that Boris Johnson is an “unthinking Unionist” who thinks that devolution has been a disaster. Cummings also added that Johnson would like to abolish the Scottish and Welsh parliaments but is held back from doing so for fear of the political consequences. Johnson’s antipathy to the devolution settlement has been obvious for quite some time. Back in November last year Johnson told a zoom conference of Conservative MPs representing Northern English constituencies that devolution had been a disaster and described it as Tony Blair’s “biggest mistake”.

Apparently Johnson thinks that the Scottish Parliament was a bigger mistake than going to war in Iraq on the pretext of evidence that was fabricated, plunging the Middle East into chaos and creating the circumstances which led to the rise of the Islamic State and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives. But that is – to use one of Johnson’s favourite words – mere piffle when compared to the political problems that devolution has caused for the Conservative party. But then it’s only because of devolution that Murdo Fraser and Annie Wells get to make fools of themselves on social media on a regular basis, so just maybe he had a point of sorts when he described devolution as a disaster. After all he didn’t specify who it was a disaster for.

The Prime Liar later attempted to claim that what he meant was that the way the SNP had governed Scotland had been a disaster, but that’s clearly a back-covering lie, not even Johnson could get away with claiming that the SNP were a creation of Tony Blair. It was obvious that he meant that he thought devolution should never have happened in the first place.

Devolution only came about because of a decades long political campaign in Scotland, by the time Blair’s government implemented it (although not until after Labour had tried to water it down by as much as they thought they could get away with) it had become, unarguably, the settled will of the people of Scotland. Blair’s government only introduced devolution because the consequences for the Labour party of failing to do so would have been an electoral annihilation similar to that which befell the Conservative party in Scotland in 1997. Johnson is obviously one of those Conservatives who believe that democracy need not apply when it comes to questions of Scottish self-government. He’d be quite happy to ignore the results of Scottish elections entirely. In fact that’s the closest thing he’s got to a political strategy for dealing with Scotland.

This week Dominic Cummings confirmed that Johnson’s statement that devolution had been a disaster was a true reflection of Johnson’s feelings about the devolution settlement. They are sentiments which are shared by other senior figures in the Conservative party. Last year Jacob Rees Mogg described devolution as a part of Labour’s “constitutional tinkering” and said that the Conservatives needed to undo it, presumably in order to replace it with a system where forelock tugging peasants surrender a tithe of their incomes and their virgin daughters to the local laird in return for the right to live in a hovel, a privilege for which they should jolly well be grateful. Don’t they realise just how offensive it is to Jacob’s refined sensibilities to have to acknowledge that the lower orders even exist?

We don’t really need Dominic Cummings, or even the unguarded comments of Boris Johnson, to tell us what this Conservative government really thinks about devolution. Their attitude is screamingly obvious from the contempt and disdain with which Downing Street treats Holyrood and the Welsh Senedd. At every stage in the pandemic, Downing Street has made decisions which affect the entire UK often without even bothering to keep the devolved governments informed despite the fact that public health is a devolved competence.

Conservative contempt for devolution is equally obvious in the way in which the administrations of both Johnson and May before him have abused Brexit as an excuse to undermine and weaken the devolution settlement. The UK Internal Market gave Westminster the right to spend public money in Scotland and Wales on areas which are devolved to Edinburgh and Cardiff. These changes were introduced against the will of the Scottish Parliament and are directly contrary to the Vow made to the people of Scotland in 2014 by the Conservatives along with the other main anti-independence parties that no changes would ever be made to the devolution settlement and the powers of the Scottish parliament without the express consent of Holyrood.

All that prevents the Conservatives from abolishing the Scottish Parliament is the knowledge that the political backlash such a move would provoke would lead to a strong surge in support for independence and make Scottish independence all but inevitable. Scottish opinion may currently be pretty evenly divided on the question of independence but devolution still has overwhelming public support. According to an opinion poll carried out by YouGov in February only 20% of Scottish voters would support the abolition of the Scottish Parliament, and over a third of those want to see Holyrood’s powers be given to beefed up local authorities, not returned to Westminster. Only amongst those who identified themselves as Conservatives was there majority support for abolishing Holyrood.

The two parties with manifesto commitments to the abolition of Holyrood, the Uber-Unionist Ukip and the fringe Abolish the Scottish Parliament Party between them only managed to win less than 0.5% of the votes in the recent Scottish elections.

The Conservatives ooze arrogance and contempt but they are not entirely stupid. They will not try – overtly at least – to abolish the Scottish Parliament. Instead they will do what they can to marginalise and undermine the devolved governments. It is only the prospect of another independence referendum which holds them in check. If Scotland votes against independence in that future referendum the Conservatives will certainly make moves to neutralise Holyrood as an alternative source of political power and authority. In the meantime they will continue to do what they can to weaken and delegitimise the devolved institutions.

Devolution has no future. It has failed to do what it was created to achieve, to protect Scotland from the malign decisions of Conservative governments which Scotland didn’t vote for. It could not protect Scotland from Brexit and the Conservatives have now ensured that a Conservative government in Westminster can bypass Holyrood. The comments from Dominic Cummings merely confirm that if Scotland wants any self-government at all, independence is the only way to ensure it. There is no halfway devolution house any more, it’s either independence or direct rule from Downing Street. Devolution is dead.

NEW MODERATION POLICY

In the wake of recent events I am determined that this site will not become a home for bigots and conspiracy theorists. They will not be welcome here. Moderation is the most stressful part of running a blog, but this site is going to continue to make the positive case for independence. With this in mind as of today a new moderation policy is in force.

Anyone who attempts to use this site to post hatred, bigotry, or conspiracy theories will be banned. If you attempt to insult and abuse anyone you will be banned. This site has a zero-toleration policy for homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny. Failure to respect this will result in a ban.

If you intend to spend the next four years undermining the SNP, the Scottish Government and the pro-independence parties that the great majority of independence supporters voted for, you can do so somewhere else, because you’re not going to do it here. The reminder that has regularly appeared on this site is not a serving suggestion. It will be rigorously enforced. If you don’t like this rule – there is a small x at the top right of your screen. Click it, close this page and go elsewhere.

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

Annual crowdfunder:

Scotland will have another independence referendum at some point in the next couple of years. Until then, this blog will continue to publish articles which – I hope – are amusing, entertaining, and which help to educate Scotland on the need for independence. However in order to do so I need to eat and pay my bills. Due to my reduced productivity and the limitations imposed on me by my health, this year I am asking for half the amount I’ve requested in previous fundraisers. I hope to raise £5000 which will go towards supporting myself for the next year.

You can support the fundraiser by donating on my gofundme page: Click here : https://www.gofundme.com/f/weeginger-annual-crowdfunder
Many thanks.

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. Please also use this email address to contact me if you would prefer to donate by some other method. Or alternatively click the donate button below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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