GB News victimhood seeking and the EU

Whenever you see that Neil Oliver is trending on social media it’s like getting a phone call at two o’clock in the morning. You might not know what it is exactly, but you already know that it’s going to be nothing good. On Friday the bold Neil was all over Twitter, trying to stir up something to allow him to feel victimised before the start of his new show on the British version of Fox News. GB News, headed by that other full of himself Neil, the Andrew one, has been launched because, not satisfied with their possession of the majority of the print media, right wing Brexit supporting and anti-lockdown controversialists needed yet another platform from which to megaphone at us all about how terrible it is that they’re being silenced.

This time Unionism’s favourite walking advert for hair care products and dodgy takes on history was opining about how lockdown was the biggest mistake in the history of the world. Yes, worse than the Bengal and Irish famines, worse than the Holocaust, worse than the imperial dick waving that led to the First World War and the deaths of millions, worse than the Armenian Genocide, worse than the massacres of Native Americans and indigenous Australians, worse than the Holodomor and the gulags, worse than the Atlantic slave trade, worse than centuries of religious war and hatred, worse than colonialism and the Opium Wars, worse than China’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. They are all but trifles compared to the suffering endured by poor Neil and Lawrence Fox because lockdown meant that they couldn’t go to the pub and couldn’t push a shopping trolley around Sainsbury’s without having to wear a facemask. They’re the real victims here, well, them and Tim Wetherspoons.

These are the kinds of truths we’d be missing out on without GB news and its tousle haired presenter. Who needs public health experts when you have “archeologist, television presenter and man guaranteed to make a million supporters of Scottish independence scoff simultaneously in derision” Neil Oliver? Personally I have a feeling that giving Neil Oliver a platform may be the biggest single mistake in world history, and while I am no historian, I suspect I may not be alone in that assessment. Neil’s expertise begins and ends with him asking the director to tell the camera operator to do the shot of him standing on a rock and looking windswept and interesting as his hair tousles in the breeze.

Meanwhile Gordon Brown, that other well known opponent of Scottish independence, and avid attention seeker has also been making his own desperate bid for relevance this week. Gordie told people in England that he won’t give up the campaign to get back into the EU, although he’s pretty determined to stop the campaign to rejoin the EU which has the best chance of success. Gordie’s declaration was met with enthusiastic approval from pro-EU campaigner in England who don’t have the same experience as people in Scotland do of hearing Gordie make promises about things that he thinks people want to hear and then buggering off when it comes to doing anything about it.

The uncomfortable truth for Gordie is that there is only one realistic and credible campaign to rejoin the EU anywhere in the UK and that’s a campaign that Gordie is implacably opposed to, to the extent of roping in members of the royal family to provide a touch of glamour that the shambling Gordie could never supply. This is of course the campaign for Scottish independence. It’s realistic in that Scotland is the only country in the UK where there is a large and substantial majority who are opposed to Brexit (greater even than the anti-Brexit majority in Northern Ireland). It’s also realistic because despite the fantasies of British nationalists who want to convince themselves that Spain would veto a Scottish application to join the EU, a claim that has been debunked more often than a Vow from Gordon Brown, the EU would welcome an application for membership from a Scotland which has consistently shown itself to be in tune with EU values and goals. On the other hand the EU would regard an application from the UK to rejoin with considerable distrust and suspicion. The UK spent its entire period of time as an EU member as a fully paid up member of the awkward squad, constantly demanding special treatment and privileges. Very like the complaints of a GB News presenter about lockdown, come to think of it.

Before considering an application to rejoin from the UK, the EU would want to know that the UK was going to be a constructive and cooperative partner, all the more so because the UK’s obstructionism and disregard for agreements reached during the Brexit negotiations mean that Westminster has burned through what little sympathy and patience that EU members had left.

At a very minimum the EU is going to want to know that the UK isn’t going to drag it through Brexit MK II shortly after rejoining, all the more so because it is highly unlikely that the EU would agree to the special treatment and opt-outs the UK enjoyed the first time round.

As a very minimum the EU will want assurances that there is a substantial and significant majority of UK voters in favour of membership – much as currently exists in Scotland. 52% vs 48% just isn’t going to cut it. Considering the lamentable state of the media in the UK, that’s going to be an uphill struggle, one which is just about to get even more difficult with the imminent launch of the right wing pro-Brexit and avowedly British nationalist GB News, which will no doubt pump out a diet of victimhood seeking exceptionalism, telling its listeners that the UK is the victim of those vile Europeans.

If you do want to get back into the EU and have your rights as a European citizen restored, the quickest and most reliable way of doing so by far is to campaign for Scottish independence. Gordon Brown’s claims of campaigning to get the entire UK back into the EU have as much credibility as his Vow.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The royal warrant on a jar of invisible jam

Broontervening is Gordon Brown’s favourite activity these days, apart from hiding in storm drains and handing out balloons to pensioners. It allows him to tell himself that he’s still politically relevant, a delusion in which he’s ably assisted by the Scottish media and especially the BBC. We’ve been hearing a lot about him since the Scottish Parliament election produced a large majority of pro-independence MSPs because the holder of the title of most incompetent and inept Prime Minister before the last three has now managed to secure a royal warrant of appointment for the jar of invisible jam that he’s determined to flog to the Scottish public. He’s now the official royal family’s approved and appointed purveyor of federalist fantasies and anti-independence promises that he has no power to keep.

But hey, at least we can now spread his invisible jam on some Duchy Original scones, hand crafted in Balmoral by Will-n-Kate as their contribution to the Great British Please Don’t Leave Us Scotland Bake Off. A contribution which in no way contravenes the long standing British constitutional conventions that the royal family doesn’t get involved in attempts to influence the outcome of democratic decisions to be made by the electorate, that Prince Philip wasn’t a racist, and that Prince Andrew never sends inappropriate text messages to teenagers.

Shortly before Gordie had his nothing-to see-here meeting with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in Edinburgh, he had announced that his think tank Our Scottish Future was to be converted into an anti-independence campaigning organisation, although to be honest it was always more of a wishful thinking tank than an organisation aiming to develop realistic policies with any chance of implementation in the real world.

As he made the announcement Gordie held a press conference during which he unveiled the results of an opinion poll he had commissioned which claimed to identify 40% of the Scottish population as “Middle Scotland”, people who he said are neither staunch unionists nor committed to Scottish independence. These are the people Gordon Brown claims will decide the future of Scotland and are the group which his rebranded Vow generation organisation hopes to appeal to. The poll didn’t try to identify what percentage of the population doesn’t immediately sigh and go: “Oh bugger off with that reheated auld guff, We’ve heard it all before and you did hee haw about it when you promised it to us in 2014, you discredited charlatan in clown shoes,” every time Gordie creeps out of his crypt and starts to make promises about federalism, but it’s certainly a great deal smaller than 40%.

It later transpired that Gordie’s poll had in fact found that there’s already majority support in Scotland for independence, although this finding was buried away on page 91 of the report. Respondents to the poll had been asked to rate their support for Scottish independence on a scale from 0 to ten where 0 represented strong opposition and ten represented strong support. It was only some time later that it came out that 55% of respondents had placed themselves between six and ten on the scale, indicating support for independence. Only 38% had placed themselves between zero and four, indicating opposition to independence. A further 8% had rated themselves as a five, suggesting that they are undecided on the question.

It also later transpired that the 40% figure quoted by Brown as representing his so-called “Middle Scotland” was in fact made up of everyone who had placed themselves anywhere on the scale between two and eight. Brown sought to present this group as being essentially undecided on the subject of independence, although as we’ve seen his own findings show that only 8% of respondents placed themselves at a five on the scale. We have also seen that people who placed themselves at between six and ten considerably out-number those who put themselves between zero and four. That means that once the 8% of genuine don’t knows is removed just shy of 60% of Brown’s supposed Middle Scotland will be composed of people who rank their support for independence at between six and eight on his scale of zero to ten. In other words these are people who are already leaning – in many cases heavily leaning – towards voting yes in a future referendum.

A person who places themself as an eight on a zero to ten scale of support for independence has already pretty much made up their mind on the subject. What they’re not going to be is a person who is going to change their opinion just because the second in line to the throne and his wife are going to spend more time at Balmoral and provide the press with a few more photo ops in a tea room in St Andrews where they’ll be photographed spreading their scones with Gordie’s patented and royal appointed magic federalism jam.

It speaks volumes about the utter cluelessness and tin ear of the British establishment that they think that a suitable response to the demand from Scotland that the promises and commitments of 2014 that won the referendum for No should be respected is :” Here, have some more Prince William in a kilt and a duchess in a designer frock.”

What Gordie Broon’s Middle Scotland” wants is that this country should have been listened to during Brexit negotiations and that its vote against Brexit should have been taken into account when the British government was deciding what kind of Brexit it wanted. But that didn’t happen. What Gordie Broon’s Middle Scotland” wants is for the British government and the Conservative party to keep its promise that no changes would be made to the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament and the people of Scotland, but that’s not happening either.

Goordie Broon and his pie in the sky promises of federalism can’t change any of that. He had his chance in 2014 when he made his Vow, he swore to us that he personally would ensure that the leaders of the anti-independence parties kept their word. And then he buggered off and did nothing. Yet now, spooked by an increase in support for independence that only happened because of Brown’s own lies, arrogance and complacency, he’s popping up with a clueless pampered pair of royal idiots whose sense of entitlement is exceeded only by his own to provide a bit of glamour to his transparent deceit. “Middle Scotland” is not going to be convinced.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Ramping it up to Desp-con 5

The Conservatives, and indeed the British establishment in general, are clearly at a loss for ideas when it comes to frustrating the growing demand in Scotland and Wales for independence and calls in Northern Ireland for a referendum on Irish reunification. That’s the only possible explanation for why they’ve ramped the hysterical unionism up to Desp-Con- 5. That’s how desperate the Conservatives have become. Over the weekend it came to light that the British Government’s big idea to frustrate Scottish independence is to instruct British government staff and UK diplomats to stop referring to the four nations of the UK and instead to refer to the UK as a single country. According to a report in the Sunday Times the idea came out of a meeting chaired by Boris Johnson which was looking at ways of strengthening links between Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

This is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking that gets you to the pinnacle of the British state. If no one ever mentions that Scotland exists then it can never become independent. This is the genius that an expensive Eton education gets you. It’s the political equivalent of sticking your head under the duvet when you hear a strange noise downstairs in the middle of the night and hoping that it might just go away. It’s like telling the EU and the rest of the world Scotland? Eh? What’s that? Sorry, you’ve got the wrong post-imperial construct mate. Nothing to see here except a single nation state.

It’s all a very far cry from the grandiose claims of the Better Together campaign back in 2014 when it told Scotland that being a part of the UK allowed Scotland to “punch above its weight” and achieve a global prominence that would otherwise be beyond us. Of course it was always a nonsense, being a part of the UK doesn’t make Scotland more prominent on the world stage, it makes Scotland invisible.

Anyone with a basic familiarity with another country knows that people abroad habitually refer to the UK as England and its inhabitants as English. In Spain, a person from the UK is usually referred to as inglés. In a recent news report on Sky news about the effect of the covid pandemic on tourism in the north of France, the reporter interviewed local business people who told her in French that they had relied upon tourists that the English language subtitles told us were British, but the word coming out of their mouths was clearly anglais. Now we discover that this isn’t simply a lack of awareness on the part of people in other countries, it’s also official British government policy. Perhaps they are hoping that people in Scotland will simply forget that Scotland is an ancient nation whose parliamentary union with England created the UK. It seems to be the closest thing that they have to a plan to bolster the UK and prevent independence.

There’s certainly nothing coming out of Downing Street that comes close to a plan for reforming the structures and institutions of the UK, despite the fact that it’s widespread alienation from those structures and policies in Scotland, and the other nations of the UK, which is driving support for independence. There isn’t going to be any such plan either, because that would mean surrendering the one thing that the Conservatives prize more than business opportunities for their friends and donors, and that’s the absolute and unchallenged power of the Conservative occupant of Downing Street.

Instead of meaningful reform what we get is denialism – the so-called muscular unionism which seeks to plaster union flags on everything and to assert that there’s a single British nation and implicitly deny the special status of Scotland within the Union which was the bedrock of traditional unionism. Or what we get are cosmetic exercises such as the plan for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge to spend more time in Scotland telling us how much they love us. Because having an extremely wealthy and over-pampered pair of aristocrats patronising them is exactly what the average Scottish punter feels is missing from their life.

We learned this weekend that following their meeting with Gordie Broon, who must have told them that the “precious union” ™ was well and truly gubbed even with his latest attempt at Broontervening, the closest thing that the Royal family have got to normal humans Will-n-Kate are being “deployed” to save the union, as though they were combatants being sent on a military campaign to subdue the restless natives in a remote corner of the Empire. Which is exactly how Downing Street and the Royal Household see it.

What we can expect to see being deployed in this campaign include a wardrobe of extremely expensive designer frocks, a considerable quantity of kiltage, and several thousand megatons of radioactive BBC weapons grade sycophancy. They’re trashing the convention (which admittedly was only ever a pretence) that the royal family don’t meddle in democratic politics in the hope that they can prevent Scotland from voting to extricate itself from Brexit. I don’t seem to recall them going around the UK in 2016 on a pro-European charm offensive. Their silence then was deafening.

According to the Sunday Times the royals are taking action because they believe that the politicians are losing Scotland and the Windsors think that the union is theirs. It’s another tone deaf London and Anglo-centric view on how Scotland can be “managed”. Apparently what is needed in order to save the union and prevent Scottish independence is giving some posho unionists with titles and Highland estates more opportunities to dress up like Harry Lauder. Not so much “Stop Your Tickling Jock” as “Stop Your demands for an adult conversation about British constitutional politics Jock. ”

Most independence supporters see independence as the best route for long term improvements to Scotland’s democracy, economy, climate, and socialequality. This ploy is the antithesis to all of those things. It’s the very definition of elitist and out of touch. It would be harder to find a better way for the British state to show that it’ not listening and it doesn’t care.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Visibly producing the appearance of listening

Yesterday the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales participated in a four nations summit meeting chaired by Boris Johnson. Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill were also in attendance. The meeting had been called by Downing Street following the results of the elections to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments last month. Feeling the need to look like he was doing something after elections which produced a record majority for pro-independence parties in Scotland, Johnson called the summit ostensibly so that the leaders of the devolved nations could discuss covid recovery with the British government following repeated criticisms from both Nicola Sturgeon and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford that Downing Street has sidelined, marginalised and ignored.

However that wasn’t the real purpose of this supposed summit. Like those TV adverts where cosmetics companies make the carefully worded legalese claim that their expensive product can visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles, this summit was called by Downing Street as a cosmetic exercise to visibly produce the appearance of listening.

It was always clear that nothing of any substance was going to come out of the meeting. Yesterday’s summit was postponed from last week after Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford both wrote to the Prime Minister’s office to complain that the proposed agenda for the meeting was vague and ill-defined. But then you don’t really need a detailed agenda when the purpose of the meeting is simply so that you can go ,”Yeah right whatevah” and then brief to the right wing British press that you were being constructive and cooperative but there’s no reasoning with those beastly separatists, it’s all the fault of Thatessempee for being divisive.

As predictable as Michael Gove evasively sliming his way through an interview on the telly, following the meeting Nicola Sturgeon reported that “nothing substantial” had come out of it. However both Nicola Sturgeon and Mark Drakeford, who is most certainly not an advocate for Welsh independence took advantage of having access to Boris Johnson’s ear, if not his attention, interest, or sympathies, to warn him that his Government’s power grabs at the expense of the devolved governments risked the break up of the UK.

The Conservative Government has shamelessly used Brexit, which Scotland didn’t vote for, as an excuse to hollow out the devolution settlement, which Scotland did vote for. The British Government’s UK Internal Market Act unilaterally gives Westminster governments the power to make spending decisions on devolved areas and to override and ignore any objections from Holyrood or Cardiff despite the fact that all the major anti-independence parties, including the Conservatives promised during the independence referendum campaign that if Scotland voted no they would ensure that no changes could ever be made to the powers of Holyrood or the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Funnily enough we don’t hear much from the Scottish Conservatives about that when they’re pontificating about the need to respect the result of the referendum.

Following the meeting the First Minister said: that she and the Welsh First Minister had made it clear that ” If we are to have good faith discussions about working together where we can then that’s not helped by the power grab and the UK Government trying to muscle in on devolved spending. ” She added: “We then had a discussion that shared some experiences around Covid, but the proof in the pudding of all of this is going to be whether it has an impact, whether it changes any of the decisions of the UK Government that impact on the devolved nations. ”

Meanwhile writing in the Guardian newspaper, Alex Niven, a university lecturer and author of a book advocating greater powers for the English regions and decentralisation of the British state, argues that there has been an astonishing lack of thinking in England about what will replace the current model of the British state.

Those of us who support Scottish independence are acutely aware of the need to formulate plausible and convincing arguments for independence. Considerable work has already gone into these by organisations like Common Weal, Business for Scotland and Believe in Scotland. However Alex Niven has pointed out that there is scarcely any awareness in England, never mind serious work, about how England would need to change if some form of union with the other nations in these islands is to survive. This is absolutely crucial because even though anti-independence politicians like Gordon Brown are constantly trying to promote federalism as the antidote to Scottish independence, without widespread support for this idea in England, it’s a non-starter.

For their part the Conservatives appear content to complete their transformation into an avowedly English nationalist party and have no interest whatsoever in embarking upon radical constitutional changes which would limit their power in England just to keep Scotland happy. They know that they only need to entrench themselves as the party of English interests in order to secure their power at Westminster. For the immediate future they are content to stall and delay the inevitable confrontation between Downing Street and a pro-independence Scottish Parliament which has a commitment to deliver another independence referendum within its five year term, hence the summits with ill defined agendas which were never designed to produce concrete outcomes.

The Tories have no intention of going into the next independence referendum campaign with a revised offer of union to put before the people of Scotland. They are relying on the hope that they can stall long enough that some magic event will intervene and defeat independence for them. Apart from that they are relying on scare stories and fear mongering and cosmetic exercises like meaningless and toothless summits, royal visits and plastering union flags on everything. As Alex Niven has noted, deep down the Conservative party has accepted that the Union is a busted flush. They’re just hoping that the soft noes, nd the undecideds, the waverers and the home rule advocates in Scotland – Brown’s so-called Middle Scotland – haven’t noticed that the the “muscular unionism” the Tories hope will replace traditional unionism is really just a version of the right wing xenophobic English nationalism which led to Brexit writ large. The Tories’ big problem is that in the absence of a plausible version of a reformed union, “Middle Scotland” won’t be able to ignore it.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Charmless and Offensive

Scotland is easily the least monarchist inclined part of the UK, where the royal events, weddings and general flummery which the BBC is hell bent on force feeding the populace with a sycophantic enthusiasm which puts the North Korean state broadcaster to shame are met with a combination of bored indifference and anger that Bargain Hunt has suddenly disappeared from the television schedules. It should be a warning sign to the British establishment that yer average Scottish punter would far rather watch someone try to turn a profit from some broken down auld tat culled from a wet car boot sale in Droitwich than endure Nicolas Witchell on our telly screens wittering on oleaginously about the latest bout of waving at the peasantry which passes for a day job for members of the Windsor clan.

The general attitude of indifference verging on mild distaste towards the royals which is widespread across Scotland is even more in evidence among that part of the Scottish population which is supportive of independence. It’s a safe bet that republican sympathies are even more pronounced among confirmed independence supporters in Scotland than they are amongst that part of the Scottish populace which simply flees to the far reaches of the EPG in search of old re-runs of Judge Judy whenever the BBC decides that the privilege and entitlement which passes for “working royalty” is going to colonise our telly screens.

Despite this however, the issue of the monarchy has never figured large in the independence debate. The general and widespread view, even among people with republican sympathies who are active in the independence movement being that the question of whether an independent Scotland should retain the monarchy or should move to becoming a republic is one that should be for the people of Scotland to decide after independence has been achieved.

Partly this is tactical, it makes it easier for the independence movement to reach soft noes and undecideds because it helps to soften any fears this group might have about a sharp rupture from the rest of the UK. It allows for a degree of continuity making the choice of independence seem like less of a leap into the unknown. However it’s also because the current independence debate is a discussion about the Union of Parliaments of 1707, not the much earlier Union of the Crowns which took place in 1603 when the Scottish monarch King James VI inherited the throne of England from his cousin Queen Elizabeth. The maintenance of this earlier union allows supporters of independence to argue that independence does not mean the breaking of all the cultural and historical ties that Scotland has with the rest of the UK.

However the recent news that Downing Street has called on the royal family to participate in a so-called charm offensive on behalf of the anti-independence cause could change all this . Some members of the Royal family might be worried about whether Scotland will continue as a part of the UK , but Prince Andrew claims he’s not sweating about it at all, although he is not noted for his charm, just for his offensiveness.

Just a few days after the Mail on Sunday reported on the royals’ pro-union charm offensive we had the second in line to the throne come to Scotland for the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland but he also made the time to earnestly tell us how much Scotland means to him, having spent some of his formative years blowing Scottish wildfowl to buggery with a shotgun. We also had the tabloid press decode his wife’s expensive wardrobe for those of us whose budgets can only stretch to Primark, because apparently it’s possible to save Scotland for the Union through the medium of designer dresses. I was all for independence, but then I saw the Duchess of Cambridge in a £2500 Alexander McQueen saltire blue pleated frock and now I’ve totally changed my mind, said no one ever.

Admittedly we don’t need to worry about Prince Andrew telling the press how much Scotland means to him, as he doesn’t want the FBI to know that he’s available for interviews.

Just a couple of days later we discovered that that the royal couple had also met with Gordon Brown, who holds no public office but who has very recently launched a new organisation to campaign against independence. Then royal aides made a cack-handed attempt to get channel4 news not to report on the meeting, claiming it was “private”. For the royals to get involved in the independence debate is a very clear breach of the convention that the monarch and her representatives do not get involved in politics.

In 2014 the Queen restricted herself to asking people to “think very carefully before voting in the referendum” an ambiguous phrasing that allowed the palace to maintain the pretence that it doesn’t get involved in politics. Afterwards David Cameron told us that she “purred” down the phone when she heard the result of the vote. So apparently did George Galloway.

After the meeting with Gordon Brown, Kensington Palace issued a press release in a clear attempt at damage limitations claiming that the Prince was merely trying to learn more about “community attitudes” to independence as though Gordon Brown was really there in his capacity as a member of the management committee of Kirkcaldy community centre. And if you believe that you probably also believe that when Kate Middleton put on an expensive designer blue frock it means that she really cares deeply about ordinary Scottish people.

The real danger for the Windsors is that they risk making the monarchy an issue in the independence debate. If they are seen to become agents of the campaign to oppose independence they merely make it more likely that an independent Scotland would seek to become a republic. Prince William will one day become king. However an independent Scotland would not be happy with a king as its head of state if that king had actively sought to prevent independence from ever happening. No independent country is going to consent to a head of state who was hostile to the creation of the state. If the Windsors want to continue to provide Scotland with the Kings and Queens of Scots, they’d be wise to butt out of the democratic process.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Nationalism and ‘Thatessempee’

This is the fourth in a series of articles looking at the topics which will dominate the coming independence referendum campaign. These pieces are aimed at undecided voters and soft no voters. In this article I look at the claim that support for independence is nationalism and that opposition to Scottish independence is also opposition to nationalism.

Nationalism and Thatessempee – Supporting independence doesn’t make you a nationalist, opposing it doesn’t make you a non-nationalist

How many times have you heard someone say that they’re not going to vote for independence because they “hate that SNP”. Often Thatessempee is spat out as though it was a single word, and a swerrie word at that. Just as frequently you’ll hear people say that they don’t want to vote for independence because they don’t like Nicola Sturgeon, whose name has also developed a tendency among certain people to be spat out as though it was a swerrie word.

The overwhelmingly anti-independence media in Scotland has always been very keen to foster an association in the minds of the Scottish public between independence and a single political party. Most often the BBC presents discussions on independence by having on a sole representative from Thatessempee, and then “for balance”, he or she is up against a Labour person, a Tory, and a Lib Dem. The other main pro-independence party, the Scottish Greens, are rarely invited. Other smaller parties which support independence, like the Scottish Socialists who once had representation in Holyrood, never get a look in. The impression given is that Scottish independence is a party political project belonging in its entirety to Thatessempee.

The desire of the media and opponents of independence to foster the myth that Scottish independence is the sole preserve of Thatessempee is constant and unrelenting. How many times during the independence referendum campaign of 2014 did you hear the phrase Alex Salmond’s referendum? And how many times did you hear the UK being personalised by the name of the leader of the Better Together campaign as Alistair Darling’s No Campaign or Alistair Darling’s Pro-UK project? Not once, that’s how many times.

The aim of this messaging is to discourage people who do not support the SNP from engaging with the arguments for independence. Yet there are many independence supporters who do not support the SNP. There are other parties which back independence. There are even people within the traditionally anti-independence parties, particularly the Labour party in Scotland, who privately support independence. A vote for Scottish independence is not a vote for the SNP. The anti-independence parties and their friends in the Scottish media just want you to think it is.

When Scotland does become an independent country, and there’s a now a majority in Scotland who believe that it’s merely a matter of time before that happens, it will be a democracy. An independent Scotland will not be a one party SNP state. Voting for an independent Scotland is not a vote to have Nicola Sturgeon as dictator for life. In fact, voting for Scottish independence is not even a vote of confidence in the SNP. It’s certainly not a signal that you support the actions of the SNP administration of the devolved Scottish Government. A vote for independence is nothing more and nothing less than a statement that you believe that it is up to the people of Scotland to decide what course this country takes. It’s a statement that the government of Scotland should be elected by the people of Scotland and should be answerable to the people of Scotland and to no one else. Voting for independence is not party political.

The desire for Scottish independence is motivated by a recognition that Westminster governance is not allowing Scotland to develop to its full potential. It is driven by the understanding that there is a great deal that is wrong with Scotland, and these wrongs and shortcomings can best be addressed if the people of Scotland have a government which is responsible to them, and which puts the interests of Scotland first and foremost. Saying that you refuse to vote for independence because you hate Nicola Sturgeon or Thatessempee is rather like saying that you’re not going to have your toothache dealt with because you dislike a particular dentist. You’d rather have the toothache.

You may also have heard people say that they are voting against independence because they don’t like nationalism. Opponents of independence are very keen to paint the Scottish constitutional debate as a debate between nationalists on the one hand, and non-nationalists on the other. However this is untrue. The independence debate is not a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism. A vote against independence is equally a vote for a nationalist project, because by a vote against independence is effectively a vote to back the intensely nationalist project that is Brexit and to support a British state which is every bit as nationalist, if not more so, than an independent Scotland would be. In a debate between Scottish independence vs remaining a part of a Brexit UK whose government plasters union flags on everything there is no non-nationalist option.

Opponents of independence are aided in misleadingly characterising this as a debate between nationalism and non-nationalism by a deficit of the English language. The English term nationalism encompasses two very different political philosophies. Nationalism can mean the aggressive aggrandisement of an existing state. It’s often xenophobic, authoritarian, and intolerant. Brexit was driven by a British nationalism of this sort. Howeverthe word nationalism can also mean the campaign for independence by a nation which currently doesn’t have it. These are not the same political philosophies at all, and in some languages they are called by different names. Scottish nationalism is of the latter variety, and in Spanish it would be referred to by a different word, independentismo. Unfortunately if you try to adopt this term into English and call yourself a Scottish independentist, people just ask you how much you charge for orthodontic work, so it’s unlikely to catch on.

Mainstream Scottish nationalism is of the civic variety. It defines Scottishness not by where a person was born, but by where a person lives or how they choose to identify. Mainstream Scottish nationalism is honoured to accept as Scots those people born elsewhere who have come to this country, made their lives here, and have become a part of Scotland’s story and journey. Scottishness is not about where you came from, it’s about where we are all going.

Brexit on the other hand is most definitely strongly characterised by many of the features of the first kind of nationalism, the intolerant xenophobic sort. Opponents of independence seek to blur the distinction to get people to believe that by supporting Scottish independence, they are also supporting intolerance, xenophobia and racism. The claim that supporters of Scottish independence are anti-English racists is a constant refrain. However the movement for Scottish independence is no more defined by anti-English racism than opposition to independence is defined by the sectarianism, anti-Irish racism and anti-Catholic bigotry of the Orange Order, or the out and out racism of Britain First, both of which are groups which oppose independence. The claim that Scottish independence is racist is a tactic designed to prevent people in Scotland from supporting independence. Yet one of the most active grassroots groups campaigning for independence is English Scots for Yes.

Even without Brexit, a vote against independence would still be a vote to support a nationalist project. It’s a vote to back a British state which is every bit as nationalist in its actions as any independent Scotland would be. In fact as a country which is quick to take military action around the globe in pursuit of what it sees as British interests, the UK is far more aggressively nationalist than an independent Scotland would ever be. Supporters of the British state do not get a free pass from nationalism just because they back the UK. Indeed, one of the defining myths of British nationalism is that it’s better than the nationalisms of lesser breeds by virtue of not being nationalist at all. It’s a comforting fairy story, but it’s not true.

The reality is that the debate about Scottish independence is not a debate between Scottish nationalism on the one hand and non-nationalism on the other. It’s a debate between two different visions for Scotland’s future. One vision puts that future into the hands of the people of Scotland, the other surrenders it to decisions made by a Westminster Parliament which is not primarily accountable to the people of Scotland. Both sides of this debate contain people who are nationalists, and both sides contain people who are not nationalists. The debate about Scottish independence is essentially a debate about accountability and democratic representation.

As we have seen with Brexit, Scotland is being subjected to a damaging and reckless estrangement from Europe even though the people of Scotland have consistently voted against it. Yet throughout this entire process the voices of Scotland’s parliament and elected representatives have been ignored and sidelined. As far as Brexit is concerned, the British Government has made precisely zero accommodations to the needs of Scotland. This is merely the latest and most egregious example of Scotland’s needs and concerns not being met by the Westminster Parliament. This happens because Westminster Governments do not rely upon Scottish votes in order to get into power, so are free to ignore Scotland’s needs with impunity. British governments are not accountable to the people of Scotland.

Over the past 50 years, Scotland has only had governments in Westminster that it voted for for a total of 17 years. As long as Scotland and the rest of the UK were on the same page politically, both alternating between Labour and the Conservatives, this was tolerable. Scotland got what it voted for often enough that we could pretend to ourselves that Scotland really was a partner in a Union. There was always another election in five years time. But that foundation myth of Scottish Unionism has been blown out of the water by Brexit. Brexit is forever, not just for five years, and the way in which Scotland was treated by Westminster during the Brexit process has proven that Westminster governments have no interest in making accommodations to Scotland’s needs or concerns.

Scottish independence is about establishing the principle that the path that Scotland takes should be decided by the people of Scotland. It is about ensuring that Scotland always has a government elected by the people of Scotland, and which is accountable to them and to no one else. If we cannot vote them out of office they will not take decisions in our interests. Theresa May or Boris Johnson have no need to consider Scotland’s interests, and so they treat Scotland with arrogant contempt. They know that Scotland can’t vote them out of power. Acknowledging that Scotland is a nation which has the right to self-determination no more makes you a nationalist than acknowledging the existence of matter makes you a materialist.

The real reason for Scottish independence is to ensure that our politicians and our governments are kept accountable to the people of Scotland. It’s to ensure that Scotland always gets governments that it elects. It’s to ensure that those politicians always operate in the interests of Scotland and that they are kept accountable to us. It’s only by keeping them close to us in an independent Scotland that we can ensure that their backsides are within kicking distance of our feet and that we can vote them out of office when they break their promises.

That’s the very nub of the argument for Scottish independence. It’s not about party politics. It’s not about nationalism. It’s about democracy and accountability.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The car wreck of British government

On Wednesday Dominic Cummings, the former senior advisor to the non-performance artiste whose stage name is Boris Johnson and one time motoring auto-optician, gave evidence to MPs sitting on the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee about the British government’s (mis)handling of the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic last year. He painted a picture of a chaotic and dysfunctional government which was not only utterly unprepared for the gravity and magnitude of the situation, but which was headed by a deeply unserious Prime Minister who refused to accept that the virus represented a grave threat and that the lives of thousands were at risk. Worse than that, he described a Prime Minister who enjoyed and thrived on the chaos he created, because that chaos meant that his own power and importance could not be threatened. Johnson not only refused to accept that the pandemic was a serious threat, but according to Cummings even wanted to get injected with the virus on live TV to show that it wasn’t such a big deal.

Cummings made the worst allegation that it’s possible to make about a government, claiming that due to the incompetence, negligence and inaction of Boris Johnson and other senior cabinet members, tens of thousands of people died who might otherwise still be alive. The primary duty of any government is to keep people safe, Dominic Cummings, who was at the centre of British government decision making during a crucial period of the pandemic, tells us that it failed to do so. He said that Johnson is unfit for office, which is possibly the most obvious observation since the Judaean child protection service noted that King Herod might not have had the interests of the first born at heart. It does however beg the question of how the self-proclaimed “super- predictor” Dominic Cummings wasn’t able to predict what a disaster Johnson was going to be when he was plotting to get him into Number 10.

Of course Dominic Cummings shares with Boris Johnson and that Michael Gove who was mysteriously absent from Cummings’ account of governmental dysfunction the title of least trustworthy man in British politics, but nevertheless what he said rang true. It is not at all difficult to believe that Johnson behaved in a manner that was all bravado and show but which lacked any understanding or care for the wider consequences on the public because that is exactly how Cummings and Johnson tackled Brexit as well. It’s how this Conservative administration has behaved at every turn.

Cummings tried to call out Nicola Sturgeon for giving public briefings after Cobra meetings like that was a bad thing. Meanwhile, the Tories at Westminster were selectively briefing papers to their friends in the right wing press with the result that vital public health information was left behind paywalls.

Cummings was very careful not to throw any mud at his pal Michael Gove, in fact from his evidence you’d almost believe that one of the most powerful and influential figures in the Conservative government was actually working as a county councillor in one of the more remote regions of Mongolia during the entire period of time in question. You’d almost imagine that Dominic wasn’t so much interested in getting to the truth but in score settling and making sure that he didn’t damage his mate Mikey’s chances of sliding into the top seat one day, an eventuality which would be very convenient for Dominic’s career prospects.

It was health secretary Matt Hancock who received the full blast of his ire. Matt Hancock always gives the air of a man who would be over-promoted as the deputy manager of a Little Chef off the A1 somewhere near Barnard Castle where he had served Dominic a burnt and greasy all-English breakfast. Cummings accused Hancock of repeatedly lying and said that he should have been sacked on numerous occasions. His fury about Hancock was so intense that you almost expected the committee to ask Cummings to show them on the dolly where Hancock had hurt him. That fury was as intense as any mention of Michael Gove was absent.

In the Commons today Matt Hancock faced questions from opposition MPs about the devastating allegations made against him the previous day. He didn’t just fail to answer the question, he simply refused to acknowledge that the question had even been asked.

The UK is a state whose parliamentary arrangements allow an urgent question from the opposition about serious allegations about the behaviour of a secretary of state, which the secretary of state can simply fail to recognise, let alone address, never mind answer. Hancock’s performance was the perfect illustration of how the British government cannot be held to account. Hancock, Johnson, Gove and Cummings all know that too, which is why they could behave the way that they did. Conservative MPs, whose contempt and hatred for Dominic Cummings is equal only to his contempt and hatred for them, were perfectly happy for Hancock to pretend there were no questions to answer.

Today Johnson also brushed off the accusations Cummings had made, and like his minion Hancock refused to respond to any of the details of the allegations.

The UK has no functioning mechanisms which enable those in power to be effectively held to account. It has a partisan and heavily right wing media which won’t ask the obvious questions. According to Cummings,just ten days before England finally went into lockdown far too late to prevent many thousands of deaths, a senior government official waltzed into No 10 to declare: “I think we are absolutely f****d. I think this country is heading for a disaster, I think we’re going to kill thousands of people.”

If the UK was a properly functioning democracy you might have expected those well paid journalists who let us know what their “sources in government” tell them to have questioned the danger that was so obvious. Instead we got the BBC and others amplifying and broadcasting the self-serving lies and propaganda of of government of chancers and opportunists who were hopelessly out of their depth – but who at least went to the “right” schools and had the “right” contacts. Meanwhile the media in Scotland eagerly sought to use the failings of Johnson and the Tories as a means to manufacture another attack on the Scottish government. The very same press which slated the Scottish government for “undermining the four nation response is now demanding to know why the Scottish Government didn’t undermine it earlier.

Today Labour leader Keir Starmer repeated calls for an immediate public inquiry, calls which the government with the aid of Tory backbenchers will continue to resist. Yet when that enquiry finally does take place, it will only report back long after those responsible for the failings have moved on. It will make some anodyne recommendations, blame some minor civil servants and advisors, and the entire corrupt and chaotic British governmental performance piece will sail on regardless. If no one can ever be held to account there can never be reform. Scotland certainly can’t reform the UK. You can’t reform a car wreck write-off, you can only abandon it and find a new vehicle.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Reasons for independence

This is the third in a series of articles looking at the topics which will dominate the coming independence referendum campaign. These pieces are aimed at undecided voters and soft no voters. In this piece I look at some of the reasons for wanting an independent Scotland

I want independence because …

There are as many reasons for supporting Scottish independence as there are people who support independence. Before I suffered a stroke and before the covid lockdowns I travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, meeting with Yes groups, talking to local activists, and speaking at local Yes organisations. What struck me most during all these travels is that no one I’ve met wants Scottish independence because they hate anyone, and certainly not because they might hate the English. That’s a nasty myth put about by opponents of independence in order to stop undecided people from engaging with arguments for independence.

Neither have I met anyone who wants independence because they believe that Scotland is better than anywhere else. No, overwhelmingly the reasons that people want Scottish independence is because they recognise that there is so much that is wrong with Scotland, and it needs to be fixed. We each have our own individual reasons for wanting independence, our own individual beliefs about what changes we’d like to see made in that Scotland once we achieve it. But what unites us all is the understanding that none of us can make any progress until we establish the principle that it’s up to the people of Scotland to decide what happens in Scotland. We can argue forever about whether we want a shot on the swings, or whether we want a go on the roundabout, but we can’t do anything until we build the independent Scottish park.

These are my own personal reasons for wanting independence. You may share some of them, you may have some other reasons of your own.  But none of us can start to make any progress on making Scotland a better place until we have an independent Scotland and the power to change this country lies with its people.

I want Scottish independence … because it’s the only way to rid ourselves of the obscenity of weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde. For decades we’ve marched. We’ve protested. We’ve established peace camps. Those of us who are old and long in the tooth were protesting against nukes when we were young, and now we see young kids embarking on the same journey of protest, a journey with no end, a journey that goes nowhere as long as we are subject to Westminster rule and a British state which fetishes nuclear weapons as the viagra of an impotent ex-empire. The only way to rid ourselves of Trident is with independence. Otherwise kids in Scotland will still be doing in forty years time what I did forty years ago, marching, protesting, and getting absolutely nowhere.

I want Scottish independence … because I grew up thinking that the poverty and deprivation, the inequality and lack of opportunity, which I witnessed in the East End of Glasgow in the 60s and 70s was normal. And now a new generation of East End weans is growing up thinking that foodbanks are normal. Well it’s not bloody normal. It’s an outrage in one of the richest nations on the face of this Earth. It’s an affront to human dignity that the British state prioritises tax cuts for the wealthy and turning the UK into a tax haven for drug lords and oligarchs over the provision of decent public services. It’s indecent that the poor are forced to pay for the crimes of the rich, but that’s the British way. I want Scottish independence so that we can start to tackle the inequalities and injustices which blight this country.

I want Scottish independence … because so many of us are fatalistic and resigned to our powerlessness that we self medicate on alcohol and drugs. We’ve learned that hope is something for other people, that it doesn’t matter what we say because no one is listening anyway. We’ve learned that the only way to live without hope is to anaesthatise ourselves into oblivion, a brief respite from the pain of the everyday. It’s no way to live. No way to die. We need to know that the bright light is the light of hope and a better future, not a paramedic shining a torch in our eye in order to check for a sign of life. During the independence referendum of 2014, for the first time in my life I saw ordinary working class people discovering that hope was something for them too, that they too could dream, that they too had a voice, and that voice was important and it counted for something. Independence gives us hope.

I want Scottish independence … because we’ve bred generations of Scottish people who have learned that it doesn’t matter how we vote. It doesn’t matter what Scotland’s people say that they want through the ballot box. We get what England votes for, our votes can only make a difference when opinion in England is narrowly divided. It’s only with independence that Scotland can get governments that it votes for, governments which are answerable to the people of Scotland and which work in their interests. It’s only with independence that Scotland can see the true strengths of democracy.

I want Scottish independence … because politicians need to be held to account. The British system rewards political failure. We kicked out Michael Forsyth yet there he still is, all these years later, in the House of Lords influencing our laws and deciding our futures. British governments don’t need to pay any heed to Scotland, so they make decisions without considering us, and we have no remedy against them. I want Scottish independence because politicians cannot be trusted, and we need to keep them close to us so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet.

I want Scottish independence … because this should be a land that is welcoming. Scotland was always a shelter for people from all over the world, because for centuries it was literally the end of the Earth. Once you got to Scotland, there was nowhere else to go. This is a land of migrants, and we should honour those who do us the honour of choosing to throw their lot in with the rest of us and becoming a part of the story of Scotland. Brexit Britain is closed in, inward looking, intolerant, xenophobic. I want a kinder, gentler, more welcoming country.

I want Scottish independence … because we need to do something about land ownership. Vast tracts of our country are owned by faceless multimillionaires hiding behind shell companies. They’ve turned Scotland into a desert designed as the playground for the wealthy. The Highlands are so beautiful and empty because its people were turfed out into the slums of the Lowland cities to produce the wealth that allowed the rich to buy up the land. Meanwhile rural communities die and decline.

I want Scottish independence … because we need to unlock Scotland’s vast renewable energy resources. Scotland could be a beacon for the world, a beacon lit by energy from the wind and the waves. We need to create a sustainable economy, to reindustrialise in a green, carbon neutral and environmentally friendly way, but we can’t do that as long as the political and economic levers of our country are controlled by a Westminster dominated by Conservative politicians who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I want Scottish independence … because despite being told that this country was a partner nation in the UK we were torn out of the EU against our will and without being allowed any meaningful input into the form that Brexit took. Scotland found that the Brexit which was foisted upon it was designed and created with the interests of right wing English nationalists in mind and no one else. Only independence will allow Scotland to rebuild a relationship with Europe which is in accordance with the desires and interests of the people of Scotland. Independence represents the quickest way back into the EU, if that is what the people of Scotland want.

I want Scottish independence … because we need a written constitution that spells out the proper division of powers between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. Within the UK we have an unwritten constitution which permits the powerful to make things up to suit themselves as they go along. That has to stop. But above all, we need a written constitution in order to establish once and for all that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the totality of the people of Scotland. This is our land, independence allows us to own it as citizens, instead of being subjects within it.

I want Scottish independence … because there is so much that is wrong with Scotland, and we need to fix it. We have waited patiently for generations for the Westminster system to fix Scotland for us, only to slowly come to the realisation that it has a vested interest in keeping Scotland weak, dependent, powerless, and marginalised. We kept the faith all through the bitter years of Thatcher, only to discover that the British Parliamentary road to socialism ended in bombs on the road to Baghdad. Westminster doesn’t want to solve Scotland’s problems, because it’s only by keeping Scotland impoverished and feeble that it can tell us that we need them, that we’re too small and weak to stand on our own two feet. The truth is that the only people who can fix Scotland’s problems are the people of Scotland themselves, and we need the powers of independence in order to do so. I want Scottish independence because generations of wise Scottish women have always told us, if you want something done, ye need tae dae it yersel.

I want independence … because Scotland is a land that is so rich in resources, possesses such an abundance of talent, is pregnant with so many possibilities. They need to be put to the service of the people of Scotland, and not leeched away to enrich the City of London. It’s only with independence that Scotland can blossom.

I don’t want Scottish independence because I hate anyone. I don’t want Scottish independence because I believe Scotland to be better than anywhere else. I don’t want Scottish independence because I hark back to a rosy vision of a mythical Scotland that has never existed. I recognise the issues Scotland faces. I want Scottish independence … because I see the problems of this country with a clear eye, and I want Scotland to have the powers to fix them. I want Scottish independence … because I want Scotland to be a normal country.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Null points for Brexit’s brand UK

It was reported at the weekend that the Royal Family are to head a “charm offensive” in order to help head off calls for Scottish independence. If true this tells us two things, firstly that the British government is utterly desperate, and secondly that the head of state will get involved in politics after all. This destroys the traditional argument for a hereditary monarch and only makes it more likely that there will be greater pressure in an independent Scotland for it to become a republic. It is an abuse of the power of the monarch for the royal family to intervene in a democratic debate in the hope of influencing the outcome of a popular vote in a particular direction. That is the very definition of getting involved in politics.

What makes it all the more counterproductive is that Scotland is by quite some margin the least royalist part of the UK outside the nationalist communities of Northern Ireland. There can’t be many people in Scotland whose opinion on the future of Scotland is going to be changed because some spoiled princeling puts on a kilt and comes to wave at the public while telling us how much he loves Scotland and has many precious memories of coming here in order to blast wildfowl to smithereens with a shotgun. No one in Scotland is going to wake up of a morning and say, “Well I was concerned about Brexit and the chaos and corruption of Boris Johnson’s government and the way in which the Tories are unilaterally undermining the devolution settlement, but now that Will ‘n’ Kate have shown us some holiday snaps taken at Balmoral, my doubts and fears are totally assuaged.”

The Queen will continue to ensure that she remains in the affections of the oldest Scots by sending them a telegram when they reach a major life milestone. Although Buckingham Palace has refused to comment, these plans could only come to fruition with the express approval of the Queen. She could have said that this is a matter for the people of Scotland but if they choose to end the union of Parliaments , the union of the crowns will remain unaffected. But no. That will prove to be a serious error of judgement which will come back to haunt the palace. The question of whether an independent Scotland should retain the monarchy or become a republic is one which is rightly not an issue in the independence campaign. Rather it’s a matter for the people of an independent Scotland to decide after the fact of independence. This ham fisted intervention will only serve to boost arguments for a republic, especially after the 95 year old Queen is no longer with us and we’re faced with the prospect of King Charles and Queen Camilla – a man who selfishly broke travel restrictions early in the pandemic and with his over-sized retinue brought a case of covid infection to Deeside, depriving the local community of much needed medical resources and personnel that need not otherwise have been deployed.

After all its scandals and the exposure of its dripping entitlement the royals do not have the influence they once did, least of all in Scotland.

So far we have had Prince William muttering platitudes on a visit to the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland. Meanwhile it is thought that plans are also being made to reach out to Scotland’s young people, although how they are going to do this remains unclear, perhaps Prince Andrew could use the free Wi-Fi at a pizza chain in Slough to send the youngest voters a text when they turn sixteen.

Over the weekend we had another illustration that “brand UK” no longer has the appeal and cachet that opponents of independence like to tell us it does. The UK crashed to a humiliating last place in the Eurovision Song Contest, receiving the dreaded null points despite the introduction of a new voting system which was designed to make such an embarrassing and humiliating score far less likely. Now admittedly the British entry was notable solely for its blandness, the aural equivalent of eating unflavoured dry oatmeal in a beige room, but then so were most of the other entries. As the votes came in it became clear that the UK is the Billy-no mates of Europe. Some expressed surprise that “even Ireland” had failed to give the UK any points. Although after the way that the British Government has treated Ireland these past few Brexity years, that should read “especially Ireland.” Douglas Ross has released a statement saying that not getting any points doesn’t matter, the UK’s vote share didn’t decrease so Italy isn’t really the winner. Coincidentally null points is also the exact same amount as the benefits of Brexit.

During the independence referendum campaign of 2014, Better Together warned Scotland that if it voted for independence it wouldn’t get into Eurovision. What are they going to do now, tell us that if we vote for independence we won’t be able to score no points in Eurovision? Eurovision is essentially a popularity competition. The UK does poorly because people across Europe dislike the exceptionalism and entitlement that characterises British nationalism and which was the driving force for Brexit. British nationalism’s crass lack of interest in other nations was illustrated during the announcement of the result when Amanda Holden joked about not knowing the difference between French and Dutch.

The ugly exceptionalism and entitlement of British nationalism was on full display when right wing commentator and Brexit fanboy, Tom Harwood, soon to be coming to Andrew Neil’s GB News, sent a surly tweet after the result saying :”Without the UK half these countries would not be free to perform in any song contests. Arguably the other half wouldn’t either. Their thanks? Nil points.” He later followed up his soor ploom with another tweet saying: I think every year we should forgo the contest and simply hand out points to the countries that were most courageous and successful at standing up against Hitler.” So Russia, then?

They already do much better at Eurovision than the UK does Tom. Maybe he ought to reflect on why the UK is less popular in Europe than Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian kleptocracy. But it’s more likely that next year’s entry will come from Tom Harwood and the Flagshaggers when the UK will compete on WTO rules and will award itself 30 points against Mauritania.

Both the royal intervention in the Scottish independence debate and the Eurovision debacle only show us that the British brand is tawdry, devalued, and unpopular. If Boris Johnson and Michael Gove think that its supposed appeal is going to prevent Scottish independence they are in for a big disappointment. British nationalism’s brand UK will get null points from an increasingly sceptical Scottish public.

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.

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Once in a generation: The electorate can’t be bound by a politician’s rhetoric

This is the second in a series of articles looking at the topics which will dominate the coming independence referendum campaign. These pieces are aimed at undecided voters and soft no voters. In this piece I look at the claim that the first referendum was promised to be a “once in a generation vote.”

For the past year or more, Boris Johnson has been fnaugh fnaughing his way through Prime Minister’s Questions whenever the topic of another independence referendum is raised, refusing to acknowledge that the SNP and the Scottish Greens have been given a mandate by the Scottish electorate for another independence referendum.

Johnson has conceded that it’s up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, but insists that the right was exercised in 2014 and that it was a “once in a generation” vote. We’re going to hear this excuse a lot, especially now that the Scottish elections have given a victory to pro-independence parties and a large majority to parties asking for a mandate for another referendum within the five year term of this Holyrood Parliament. Together with deflections about the need to focus on recovery from the pandemic, it’s the only excuse the British government has got left.

Boris Johnson can’t plausibly argue that the SNP has no mandate from the Scottish electorate when that party won a larger vote share and a larger share of seats than his Conservative party did in the UK as a whole. He can’t plausibly maintain that there’s no mandate for another referendum when his own branch office in Scotland stood on the single platform of opposing another referendum and got its collective arse handed to it on a plate glazed with Stephen Kerr’s tears. He cannot maintain that there is no mandate when the people of Scotland elected a large majority of MSPs to Holyrood in the full knowledge that they are committed to delivering another referendum. If Boris Johnson maintains that he got a mandate from the UK electorate to deliver Brexit, the SNP has an even stronger and more convincing mandate from the Scottish electorate to deliver an independence referendum. If democracy in the UK is to mean anything at all, the choices of the people of Scotland as expressed through the ballot box must be respected.

This was a parliamentary election, not a referendum. The percentage of people voting for ostensibly anti-independence parties is irrelevant. A mandate is established when a party or parties win sufficient seats to form a majority in parliament. The SNP and the Scottish Greens stood on a platform of support for another independence referendum. They won. The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems stood on a platform of opposition to another referendum. They lost.

The point about a mandate is unarguable, except that is if you’re one of those people who deny the existence of Scotland as a political and national entity and claim that the SNP won merely a “subset” of UK seats in a UK election. Describing the nation of Scotland, a constituent nation of the UK as a subset of Westminster seats on a par with an English city, region or county is quite possibly the cringiest description of Scotland ever, more cringey than North Britain. Even more cringey than “up there”. Scotland isn’t just any random selection of Westminster seats, it’s an ancient nation which was one of the founding kingdoms of the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union which founded the unitary state known as the United Kingdom guaranteed the continuing existence of Scottish national institutions, and the Scottish nation itself. The very foundation of the UK itself recognises that Scotland is a distinct polity within the UK, a polity with its own distinctive political character.

Last year at PMQs, Boris Johnson was forced to concede, amidst the usual disrespectful barracking from Tory backbenchers whenever an SNP MP rises to speak, that it is indeed up to the people of Scotland to decide whether their future is as a part of the UK. He could hardly say anything else. However his admission has an important implication.

If it is up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, that right to self-determination is either conditional or it’s absolute. Boris Johnson appears to believe that Scotland’s sovereign right to self-determination as a nation within the UK to decide its own future is conditional upon a timing that he’ll decide. So it’s not really a sovereign right to self-determination at all. If it’s up to political forces outwith Scotland to decide when Scotland can exercise its right to self-determination, then it’s not a right to self-determination. It becomes a question of Westminster’s convenience and permission. A right to self-determination which is conditional upon the convenience and permission of Westminster is no right to self-determination at all. It’s simply another way of stating that Scotland doesn’t have the right to determine its own future, a Conservative PM does. And if that is indeed the case, then this is not the Union that the Conservatives and the Labour party have always told us it was.

There was absolutely nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement between the Scottish and British governments setting the terms for the 2014 referendum which stipulated that an independence referendum could only be held once in a generation. The rider that the referendum was a one in a generation affair did not appear on the ballot paper. It was not a part of the question that was put to the people of Scotland and which they voted on.

Alex Salmond described the referendum as a once in a generation opportunity, and was careful to add the rider that this was his personal opinion. Yet it appears that Scotland is to be held hostage to the opinion of a former First Minister, an opinion which has no force in law. The personal opinion of Alex Salmond is only being elevated to the lofty position of holy writ for the simple reason that Boris Johnson requires an excuse to prevent another independence referendum because he’s afraid he’s going to lose it.

The phrase once in a generation opportunity also appears three times in the White Paper on Independence published by the Scottish Government prior to the referendum. On page 3, the referendum is described as a “once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path”. On page 10 it is described as a “once in a generation opportunity to chart a better way.” On page 576 there is the statement, “It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

There are twos reasons why Alex Salmond’s administration took the view that the referendum of 2014 was a once in a generation opportunity. Neither of them are binding, and neither of them apply today. The first reason is that the referendum of 2014 only took place because the SNP broke the Holyrood electoral system and won the 2011 election with an absolute majority in Holyrood. Prior to this election it was not thought possible for a party to do this, and the SNP’s victory came as a surprise to everyone, not least the SNP. However the referendum campaign radically changed the Scottish political landscape in ways that were unforeseen. It is now perfectly plausible for pro-independence parties to win a majority of seats in Holyrood just as they did in May of this year.

The second reason is more important. Alex Salmond’s government took the view that they did because they had just negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement with Westminster, as a result of which both parties agreed to respect the outcome of the referendum. It was implicit in that understanding that both parties would respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland during the referendum campaign. What is happening now is that Westminster is demanding that the current Scottish Government upholds everything that it stated during the referendum campaign, but it itself is not bound by its own promises and commitments.

Promises and commitments like telling Scotland that the only way it could remain a part of the EU was by voting no. Promises and commitments like promising that the powers of Holyrood would be enshrined in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Promises and commitments likes telling Scotland it was a much loved and equal partner in a family of nations, that it should lead within the UK instead of leaving it.

Indeed, it is all the more important for Westminster to uphold its promises and commitments to Scotland because it was the proposition of the No campaign which won the referendum. Yet now the SNP and Scotland are being held to ransom by a Westminster which hasn’t fulfilled its end of the bargain. If Westminster had respected all the promises that it made to Scotland in 2014, then the referendum would indeed have been a once in a generation opportunity. But they didn’t, did they. Westminster cannot insist that the SNP abide by statements that it made during the referendum campaign without itself abiding by the statements that Better Together made.

It’s Westminster’s failure to uphold its end of the bargain that has created the renewed demand and the justification for another referendum. Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy in claiming it was “once in a generation” merely highlights his own party’s failure to respect the promises and commitments that it made to the people of Scotland. When he tells us that the referendum was “once in a generation”, he’s telling the people of Scotland that we are suckers for ever believing that Westminster would keep its promises.

Yet even if there was a solemn commitment made by both sides in 2014 that the referendum was a once in a generation affair, so what? The people of Scotland have a sovereign right to decide for themselves which path Scotland will take – even Boris Johnson admits that much. That right cannot be bargained away, signed away, time-limited, or given up by any political party because it is a right that rests with the people of Scotland, not with the Conservatives, not with the SNP, not with any other party. It follows then that it’s up to the people of Scotland and no one else to decide whether or when we demand another independence referendum. In the recent Scottish elections the people of Scotland did decide to demand another referendum.

The UK that Scotland was told it could be a part of in 2014 doesn’t exist. Scotland has an absolute right to revisit the question of independence. Scotland’s right to self-determination is inalienable.

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.

You can help to support this blog with a PayPal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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