Dugcast – 17 January 2020 – & an announcement

Welcome to the 17 January edition of the dugcast. In this week’s episode The National’s editor Callum Baird and I discuss last weekend’s massive pro-indy march organised by AUOB. We discuss Boris Johnson’s entirely predictable refusal to cooperate with a Section 30 order and the possible next steps that can be taken towards independence in the teeth of his refusal. We also chat about the tin ear that Labour leadership candidates have for Scottish concerns and sensibilities, and how within the framework of the UK Scotland’s interests will always be subordinate to the political priorities of the country “down below”.

There’s also an important announcement. This will be the last dugcast for a month as my husband and I are finally going on our much delayed honeymoon. We were not able to have one after the wedding. However next week we are returning to his home state of Connecticut for a week in order to pack his things up properly and arrange for them to be shipped over to Scotland, and then we’re off to the Grand Canyon, Route 66, Las Vegas, Palm Springs, and San Francisco. I’ll be back in Scotland on 17th February.


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

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The twin cheek of the twin cheeks

lisanandy
“Now is the time to look outwards, paint with broad strokes and set up an international commission, led by and for Scottish people, that seeks to learn from the few examples where at times in modern history the cause of social justice has beaten divisive nationalism.”

So said Labour leadership contender Lisa Nandy on Monday. Now if anyone has any idea what she meant, please let the rest of us know because we’re genuinely struggling. What Lisa tweeted is one of those sentences where you understand each of the words individually, but when you put them all together they make absolutely no sense at all. Perhaps Lisa is indulging in some Dadaist art project cunningly disguised as a Labour leadership campaign? Or maybe it’s one of those motivational posters, only written by someone out of their tree on meth.

If we were perplexed and faintly amused at the start of the week, by the end of the week Lisa had managed to make many in Scotland livid. During an interview with Andrew Neil as a part of her leadership bid, she said that the UK needs to learn from Catalonia in how to handle separatist movements. Her exact words were, “We should look outwards to other countries where they’ve had to deal with divisive nationalism … in places like like Catalonia”. No, really. She said that. Blinding people with rubber bullets, bashing grandmothers over the head with police truncheons, imprisoning peaceful independence campaigners and pro-independence politicians. Lisa wants “us” to learn from that.

This gobsmackingly crass remark can only mean one of two things. Either Lisa is an idiot who doesn’t understand what has gone on in Catalonia, or she does understand it and she’s quite happy to inflict violence and legal sanctions on Scotland’s independence movement too, a movement which has been entirely peaceful, law abiding, and concerned to operate within the parameters of the UK constitution. So which is it?

In Catalonia one of the major pro-independence parties, the ERC whose leader Oriol Junqueras languishes in a Spanish prison, is considerably more socialist than Labour’s ally the PSOE. But it’s the ERC which practises “divisive nationalism” according to Lisa. And notice that in her remarks Lisa said “we”, because those of us in Scotland are not “we”, but “they”. And then she preaches about divisive nationalism. She is of course entirely blind to the divisive nationalism of the British variety, because that’s a nationalism that’s better than all other nationalisms by virtue of not being nationalist at all.

What’s really astonishing here is that in England, Labour supporters loved Lisa Nandy’s interview with Andrew Neil. It’s only in Scotland that there is any outrage with her crass suggestion that the UK ought to adopt the tactics of Madrid in suppressing the independence movement in Scotland. There’s been not a peep from the supposedly progressive English left which constantly preaches the need for solidarity at us. Because it seems that the Labour party’s idea of solidarity is that Scotland must display solidarity with the Labour party, but the Labour party doesn’t need to bother displaying solidarity with Scotland.

Together with Jess Phillips, what we’re seeing here in the Labour party is a meeting of closed minds on the subject of Scotland with the Tories. Conservative or Labour, both are equally British nationalist, and both will happily traduce and arrogantly ignore the democratic will of the people of Scotland as expressed through the ballot box. Nowhere in any of these pronouncements from British nationalist politicians have we seen the slightest justification of why they believe that they have the right to ignore the democratic will of the people of Scotland, and to continue to ignore it for as long as it suits them. Nowhere do we see any attempt from them to answer the question for Scotland that their own stance raises, nor indeed any acknowledgement that any question might arise. But here in Scotland we cans see the question all too clearly. If the British state can ignore the democratic will of the people of Scotland, if it can ignore in perpetuity the outcome of elections in Scotland, then what does it serve Scotland to remain a part of the British state. If the UK will not take the votes and views of Scotland into account, then it’s not a union, it’s simply Greater England.

Meanwhile over in the Guardian, we see the Labour supporting Metrocommentariat’s contempt for Scotland in its full and unedifying display. Martin Kettle, whose articles about Scotland really ought to come with a health warning, has opined that Boris Johnson’s arrogant dismissal of the First Minister’s request for a Section 30 order as being more sensitive than the response of others within the Tory party. That’s a bit like describing a guy who hits you over the head with a baseball bat while calling you a bastard “more sensitive” than a guy who hits you over the head with a baseball bat then kicks you in the crotch and calls you the c-word.

Johnson’s reply to Nicola Sturgeon dripped with arrogant contempt. There was no attempt in his brief letter to give any serious reasoning for his refusal, merely the cheap trick of quoting the rhetorical comments of the SNP leadership in 2014 which were aimed at encouraging people to participate in a historic vote. That’s a spurious reason. Johnson knows it’s a spurious reason. Martin Kettle calls it “useful”, but doesn’t himself give any substantive reason why the UK Government can continue to ignore mandates given to the victorious party in Scottish elections without calling the issue of democracy in Scotland into question.

But it gets worse. Martin tells us that the Conservatives are not disposed to recognise a mandate for another referendum which is obtained at the Holyrood elections in 2021. This seems to be just fine with Martin. Anything to keep those uppity Jocks in their place eh. He is clearly aligned with Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips in that respect. The attitude we’ve seen from leading figures in the Labour party and their cheerleaders in the London press explains why the Labour party is dead in Scotland and is going to stay dead. Labour and the Tories both display the twin cheek of the twin cheeks of the same arrogant, entitled, and antidemocratic British nationalist arsery.

But yeah, faced with this casual dismissal of Scottish democracy by British nationalism, Lisa Nandy was almost right. It only takes a few small tweaks for what she said to make perfect sense. We, the people of Scotland, should look outwards, paint with broad strokes and set up an international commission, led by and for Scottish people, that seeks to learn from the many examples where at times in modern history the cause of social justice has beaten divisive and arrogant British nationalism.


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

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The Broken Buckle

callumHe’s a busy man and talented man is Callum Baird.  When he’s not editing The National, editing the Glasgow Evening Times, and being interrupted by me during the Wee Ginger Dugcast, he’s been off recording his long awaited new album.  Called The Broken Buckle, you can download it from iTunes or Spotify or whatever it is that young people today do for music bah humbug etc etc. In my day we stuck a microphone in front of a transistor radio when the week’s Top 20 presented by a creepy DJ serial child abuser came on so that we could record the Sex Pistols and Souxie and the Banshees on a hissy cassette tape – and we thought we were as cool as all get out.  OK so we were stupid.  Downloading is so much less hassle.

Follow Callum on the Twitters @callumbaird1
or on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/callumbairdmusic

You can listen to the album on Bandcamp here
https://callumbaird.bandcamp.com
You can use that link to purchase a digital copy of the album for just £7. You know you want to.

Meanwhile here’s a song from the new album which Callum recorded way back in 2014 for the independence referendum.  It’s called We’re Better Off Alone (A love song to Scotland).  He’d like to change the title to “We’re better off pooling a little bit of our sovereignty in an international grouping of independent states who would actually respect us”, but that wouldn’t rhyme or scan.

The stick to beat the bully

plebiscite
There’s been a bit of discussion recently about how to circumvent the refusal of the UK government to concede to another independence referendum. Yesterday in the Herald it was reported that Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil has suggested turning the 2021 Holyrood elections into an effective referendum on independence. The idea is that the SNP and other pro-independence parties would be using these elections, not to seek yet another mandate for a referendum that Westminster could ignore, but rather to seek a mandate for independence itself. In other words, to turn the 2021 Holyrood elections into a plebiscite election.

I’ve always favoured the idea of a plebiscite election as the option of last resort. Other options should of course be explored, but if there comes a time when all these other options fail then it’s a back up plan which can guarantee a recognised and legal independence ballot in which the anti-independence parties must participate.

There are certainly other options. There’s continuing to press for a Section 30 order and using the increasing political pressure and demand for independence within Scotland as a means to put pressure on Boris Johnson. There’s court action to force Westminster to respect the existing mandates for a referendum. There’s testing the legality of an advisory referendum without a Section 30 order. All these avenues must be explored and exhausted. Even if they do not succeed in bringing about a referendum the very process of exploring and exhausting them will continue to put pressure on the British government and will keep the question of independence front and foremost in Scottish politics. Exploring and exhausting these routes will continue to promote the drift in Scottish public opinion towards support for independence.

A plebiscite election is not UDI, it would not amount to a unilateral declaration of independence. However it would neatly sidestep an obstinate Westminster which continues to refuse to cooperate with another independence referendum. It would provide the people of Scotland with a recognised democratic ballot in which they could express their support for Scottish independence. It would give the First Minister a mandate to write to the UK Prime Minister to demand the immediate opening of negotiations for Scottish independence. Backed by a popular mandate for independence itself obtained legally and legitimately within the framework of the UK constitution, that’s going to be impossible for Westminster to ignore, all the more so as Europe and the rest of the world will be taking a close interest.

There is absolutely nothing in UK law or under what passes for a British constitution which prohibits a plebiscite election. Indeed, that’s precisely what the SNP was doing prior to the establishment of the Scottish parliament. The party was using Westminster General Elections as plebiscite elections, seeking a mandate for independence based upon the number of MPs it was able to return to the Commons. It was widely accepted at the time that if the SNP had ever been successful in obtaining a majority of Scottish MPs, then it would have achieved a mandate to open negotiations with the British government for Scottish independence.

This is a crucial point. A plebiscite election is often misunderstood as seeking a majority in Holyrood for pro-indy parties which can then make a unilateral declaration of independence. That’s not quite the case. In order to be legal and constitutional within a framework which will be recognised and respected by the international community (which is what counts if independence is to become a reality) the plebiscite election should be fought with the goal of obtaining a mandate to negotiate independence with Westminster. Westminster can still be obstructionist, it could still refuse to collaborate. However what it can’t do in the eyes of the international community is to ignore the result of a democratic vote within Scotland giving the Scottish Parliament a mandate to negotiate independence. In fact you can bet your last penny that if there’s a majority in Holyrood for independence following a plebiscite election, Westminster will be falling over itself to offer a referendum. However should Westminster continue to be obstructionist and to refuse to recognise Scotland’s democratic mandate, that would give the Scottish Government the political capital it requires to internationalise the dispute.

In a recent paper published by the constitutional legal experts Chris McCorkindale and Aileen McHarg a number of objections were raised to a plebiscite election. However these objections are not legal in nature, but rather political. As such they are not barriers which cannot be surmounted. The first objection they raise is that the Scottish Government is not in favour of a plebiscite election. That’s the case because the Scottish Government currently believes that it possesses sufficient leverage to get an agreement from Westminster on a Section 30 order. We are yet to see what the further steps will be that Nicola Sturgeon has said that the Scottish Government will take at the end of this month. It may well be the case that Westminster will eventually concede and will cooperate with a Section 30 order, in which case discussions about a possible plebiscite election will be moot.

However the opposition of the Scottish Government only remains an objection until such time as the Scottish Government changes its mind. It may very well change its mind faced with continued intransigence from Westminster and a rise in support for independence in the opinion polls because Brexit becomes a reality at the end of this month.

The second objection raised by McCorkindale and McHarg is that Westminster would not recognise a mandate for independence achieved via a plebiscite election. This may or may not be the case, however we’re currently in the situation where Westminster is not recognising successive mandates for a Scottish independence referendum. Therefore it could just as easily be argued that there is nothing to lose by going for a plebiscite election and everything to gain. Forcing the Conservative government to ignore a mandate for independence itself raises the stakes considerably and increases the political pressure on Westminster and Boris Johnson by several orders of magnitude.

The third objection is that the international community would not recognise a unilateral declaration of independence based upon a plebiscite election. This is what occurred in Catalonia, whose declaration of independence was not recognised by the international community. However there are two significant differences between Scotland and Catalonia. The first is that a plebiscite election seeking a mandate for independence is illegal under the Spanish constitution. It’s not illegal or unconstitutional in the UK. Secondly the point of a Scottish plebiscite election would not be to make a unilateral declaration of independence that Westminster does not recognise but rather to force Westminster to the negotiating table. The international community would be willing to collaborate in that process and would put pressure on Westminster to negotiate with Scotland as simultaneously with the plebiscite election the UK will be mired in trade negotiations with the EU. It is in the interests of the EU to ensure political stability in its trading partners.

However the real value of publicising and discussing the possibility of a plebiscite election just now is that it sends a very strong signal to Westminster that its refusal to collaborate with a Section 30 order and its continual ignoring of successive mandates for a referendum obtained by the SNP will have consequences. Consequences which will end Westminster rule in Scotland. It tells Westminster that it’s very much in the interests of the British Government and the anti-independence parties to cooperate in bringing about an independence referendum because that is the only means that they have left of persuading people in Scotland that this really is a union in which Scotland is a voluntary partner.

If Scotland is forced into a plebiscite election on independence, the anti-independence parties will no longer be able to make the much loved partner argument with any plausibility. Telling Scotland that it’s a partner in a union is the strongest argument, the only argument, that they’ve got. It is important that the independence movement and the Scottish Government make Westminster realise that a democratic reckoning awaits Westminster at the end of their refusals, obstruction, and denial of Scotland’s wishes.

It’s the realisation that Scotland is planning for and intending to go ahead with a plebiscite election which can force Westminster to collaborate in a referendum process, because if a plebiscite election does come to pass it will mean that Westminster has entirely lost control of the process. The possibility of a plebiscite election is the independence movement’s big stick with which we can threaten Westminster and get their collaboration in the referendum process. And if they don’t cooperate, we have a vote anyway. The anti-independence parties can say that they’d boycott a referendum, but they can’t boycott elections to the Scottish Parliament. They can’t stop elections from happening without trashing the devolution settlement even more than they have already – and that would only increase support for independence. For the independence movement, it’s a win-win.

If we’ve learned one thing about the Conservatives, it’s that they don’t respond to pleading, begging, or being nice. The prospect of a plebiscite election is a surefire way of telling Boris Johnson that his refusals mean nothing, because eventually, with or without his cooperation, Scotland will have its say. When dealing with bullies, you need to stand up to them, and you need to demonstrate to them that they will be the losers in the end. Ultimately a plebiscite election and the ballot box is our weapon, the stick we can use to defeat the bullying Boris Johnson.


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

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

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


We won’t be trapped in the shortbread tin

shortbreadtin
Well you didn’t need to be Nostradamus to see that one coming. A month on from Nicola Sturgeon’s letter to him, Boris Johnson has finally been arsed to reply to the First Minister’s demand for a Section 30 order for another independence referendum and for the necessary powers to be transferred to Holyrood permanently. As everyone, their granny, and their granny’s cat knew he was going to, he said no. Scotland had its democracy in 2014.

Johnson cited what he described as Nicola Sturgeon’s and Alex Salmond’s “personal promise” in 2014 that the referendum that year was a once in a generation vote. He lied. It wasn’t a personal promise, it was an observation and they made it clear that it was their personal opinion and not a binding commitment. Neither Alex Salmond nor Nicola Sturgeon ever said that they swore a solemn vow to the people of Scotland that there would be no more referendums for a generation. In December last year, Boris Johnson himself described that month’s election as a “critical once in a generation election”. Does that mean that there are to be no more elections in the UK? The way this British Government’s contempt for democracy is going, I wouldn’t put it past them.

But even if it was a promise, Johnson has some nerve in citing the “personal promises” of other politicians. This is a man who is a serial liar, a cheat, a charlatan. A man who has deceived everyone he’s ever met and who lies at every opportunity. This is a man who gave a promise that he’d die in a ditch if the UK didn’t leave the EU last year. Last anyone saw he was not dead in a ditch, although to be fair what was left of his reputation for honesty died in a ditch many years ago. And here he is, demanding that Nicola Sturgeon be held to a standard that he himself refuses to come within a thousand light years of. There’s the moral high ground, and then there’s Boris Johnson chuntering away in the bowels of the earth.

It’s Boris Johnson’s party which has contravened a direct promise made to the people of Scotland. It’s Boris Johnson’s party which has traduced the result of the 2014 referendum. The reality that the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge is that if they had fulfilled all the promises and commitments that they made in 2014 in order to win the referendum we wouldn’t be here now with the SNP receiving their fourth mandate for another referendum. The Tories promised that Scotland would be an equal partner in a family of nations, that Scotland should lead the UK not leave it. That was a lie. They promised that the only way to remain within the EU was to vote against independence. That was a lie. They promised that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would never be altered against the will of Holyrood. That was a lie. And in the Smith Commission they promised that there was nothing in the post referendum agreement which prevented the people of Scotland from revisiting the question of independence in the future. That was a lie.

In his letter, Johnson said that his government would ” continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people” in 2014. But they’re not going to uphold any of the democratic decisions that the Scottish people have made since 2016. They’re not going to uphold any of the three electoral mandates or the Holyrood mandate that the people of Scotland have given the Scottish Government for another referendum. They’re not going to uphold the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain a part of the EU. For this British Government, Scottish democracy was a one off event in 2014 where the people of Scotland surrendered all and any right to ever have any sort of say over the future of Scotland forever.

There was no case for Scotland remaining in the UK made in Johnson’s short letter. There was only his refusal to acknowledge Scotland’s vote in the General Election and a party political yah boo sucks point about Scottish public services – although of course he didn’t note that these are performing better than those his own administration manages in England. There was nothing in the letter which reassured or persuaded the people of Scotland that we’re better off in Johnson’s UK. This was the curt letter of a man who has nothing but contempt for Scotland and disdain for those he believes to be beneath him. This was the letter of a man who has no intention of persuading, cajoling, or pleading with Scotland, a man who has no intention of making any accommodations for Scotland. This was the letter of a man who believes that Scotland should be contained. Shut up Scotland, get back in your box. Your betters have spoken.

Johnson’s cavalier dismissal of any manifestation of Scottish democracy that he doesn’t agree with will only play into the hands of the independence movement in the longer term. All that he has done is to confirm the fears of wavering voters in Scotland that the British Government is indeed not prepared to make any compromises with Scotland in order to recognise the strong remain vote in this country. Scotland will get the hard Brexit that Boris Johnson decides, and it will have no influence in determining the shape of Brexit or ability to ameliorate its effects. Johnson has confirmed that the UK is not a partnership of nations, because the democratic will of Scotland will always be overriden by a mandate derived from the vote in England. He has confirmed that there is no place in this supposedly most successful union ever for a distinctively Scottish viewpoint. That’s the question that those who oppose independence need to answer now, if there is no place within the UK for Scotland’s distinctive politics, then what is the point of the UK for Scotland?

This is more than a matter of democratic principle. It’s a matter of democracy itself. Anyone in the rest of the UK, and opponents of independence within Scotland, have a moral obligation to speak out against Boris Johnson’s casual dismissal of the result of the General Election in Scotland. In December 2019 the people of Scotland gave the SNP a clear and unarguable mandate for another referendum under the same rules that give Johnson a mandate for Brexit. If the legitimacy of Johnson’s British government is to be accepted, so much the legitimacy of the mandate for another referendum in Scotland. You don’t get to apply a different set of electoral rules in Scotland from the rest of the UK. The Labour party and the Lib Dems – we’re looking at you.

There’s to be another vote in Holyrood on an independence referendum later this month. That will be mandate number five. At that time the Scottish Government will also set out its detailed response and say what next steps it’s going to take. For weeks and months now, independence supporters in Scotland have speculated about how Nicola Sturgeon would respond to a refusal from Boris Johnson to agree to another independence referendum. As she noted in her immediate reaction to the decision today, she saw this coming. So we’re about to find out how she’s going to respond. What we can be certain of however, is that she’s not going to respond to Johnson’s arrogance by simply saying “Oh that’s OK then” and locking Scotland back into the British nationalist shortbread tin.

Boris Johnson will regret his letter. This country will not be held hostage to the vanity and ego of an Etonian who fears the voice of Scotland. His position is unsustainable and ultimately self-defeating. One way or another the people of Scotland will have their say. Because of Johnson’s arrogance, the eventual independence of Scotland became yet more certain today. We have a choice between a flourishing Scottish democracy with independence, or a British Government which locks Scottish democracy away never to be used again. Johnson’s nawbaggery will not stand. It’s time for the gloves to come off.

James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop has started a crowdfunder to raise the money to commission a poll on Scottish independence.  As he points out it’s very odd that there has been no full scale poll of Scottish opinion on independence since the General Election, despite indications that the victory of Boris Johnson in the rest of the UK and SNP landslide in Scotland has produced a surge in support for independence.  The crowdfunder page is here, please consider supporting it.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-scot-goes-pop-commission-an-indy-poll


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

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

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The wicked word

patronage
Almost eight years ago the then Tory MP Zac Goldsmith tweeted about Nick Clegg’s proposals to reform the House of Lords saying, “Seedy lists of party apparatchiks appointed by power hungry party leaders & insulated from any democratic pressure for 15 yrs? No thanks.”

Zac, who’s an Etonian posho pal of that other Etonian posho Boris Johnson, was appointed as Secretary of State for the Environment after the fnaughing one won the Conservative party leadership. The Brexit supporting Zac contested his heavily remain voting seat of Richmond Park in December’s general election, and got his jotters from his constituents, voted Zac out and replaced him with the Lib Dem candidate. His rejection by the voters in what was a rare example of the Lib Dems taking a seat off the Tories might not be unconnected to the racist campaign that he led when he was standing as candidate for the London Mayor’s office.

However Zac is still Secretary of State for the Environment, because he’s got over his aversion to seedy lists of party apparatchiks being appointed by a power hungry leader and insulated from democratic pressure. Perhaps that’s because Zac will be insulated from any democratic pressure for the rest of his life. He’s been given a peerage by Boris Johnson for services to losing formerly safe seats and will continue exactly as he did before, attending cabinet meetings, making laws and policy, and influencing the lives of the people of Richmond Park and everyone else even though he was booted out of office.

Funny how Brexiteers bewailed the unfairness of the UK being subject to the decisions of unelected Brussels bureaucrats who could be booted out of office by MEPs that the UK got to elect as well as voters in the other EU states, but they’re quite happy to be ruled by unelected pals of Boris Johnson who can’t be booted out ever and who get rewarded with political immunity after the electorate has voted them out of office. This would be that same Zac Goldsmith who in 2016 explained his objection to the EU saying, “I just believe that the people who make decisions on our behalf should be people who can be fired if they get it wrong.” Except that is when the person making decisions on our behalf is Zac Goldsmith.

In 2018, the Brexit loving Zac was quoted as saying, “The EU is an arrogant, rotten bureaucracy that views democracy as an inconvenience.” Zac, or Lord Goldsmith the Seedy Apparatchik to use his new title, is opposed to the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels, but the unelected posh boys of Westminster? That will do nicely. Here’s my expenses form, I claim my £300 a day plus my salary as a cabinet minister. Ker-ching.

You’d almost think that Zac has become an arrogant rotten bureaucrat who views democracy as an inconvenience. All that respecting the democratic decision of the people doesn’t apply when the careers of posh Conservatives are at stake, although everyone in Scotland who voted SNP already realised that particular point. Anyway now, just as an aside, you also have the answer to the enquiry, “Hey Google, show me the most egregious example of rank hypocrisy.”

Likewise the former Tory cabinet minister and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan has managed to forget that she used to be opposed to a Boris Johnson leadership and to Brexit. It’s quite amazing how the prospect of donning an ermine robe can cause all the symptoms of amnesia. Although you only have to gaze upon the green benches of the House of Lords for five minutes not to be remotely surprised by just how amnesiac they all are.

Nicky, or Lady Morgan of Eh? Oh … Em.. It’s On The Tip Of My Tongue, as we must now call her, has been accused by some of resiling on her previous principles. Not that long ago Nicky said that Boris Johnson used deliberately incendiary language, and refused to consider serving in any government led by him. She forgot about that too.

However it is unfair to accuse Nicky of going back on her principles, because that would imply that she had some to begin with. She’s now able to continue in her job despite announcing prior to the General Election that she was standing down as an MP in order to spend more time with her family, although she spent a few minutes with them and then forgot that she wanted to spend more time with them. She was also able to spend the £8400 leaving bonus given to all retiring MPs. She’s not forgotten about that, but she’s not giving it back, by the way. If you’re surprised by that you’d probably also be surprised by the revelation that Boris Johnson is a liar.

But of course those of us who are keen students of Scottish political history will know that we’ve been here before. As this blog has pointed out before, in 1997 Michael Forsyth led the Conservative party in Scotland to its worst electoral defeat ever. Michael was so inept, so arrogantly clueless, so repugnant to the sensibilities of the Scottish electorate that in that year’s General Election the people of Scotland gazed upon Michael Forsyth, the Scottish Conservative manifesto, and the Scottish Conservative party and said we don’t want you Michael, we don’t like your manifesto, and we don’t like your party. That year the Tories lost every single seat they had in Scotland. It was glorious. But not for Michael.

In any normal functioning democracy, or indeed professional career, that would have been the last we’d have heard of Michael Forsyth. His failure was of such a magnitude that if he’d been a teacher he’d have been subject to a restraining order banning him from approaching within 100 metres of any education establishment. If he’d been a doctor he’d have been struck off and banned from buying a packet of paracetamol from Boots. But Michael is a Tory politician, so he got a peerage and was given a seat in the Lords where he still, to this very day, casts a baneful influence over the laws and policies that affect Scotland. He’s one of those unelected and unaccountable Tory politicians who wants Brexit because he says Brussels can’t be held to account. In Michael’s, Zac’s, and Nicky’s world, it’s only Conservatives who have the absolute right never to be held to account.

We don’t live in a normal functioning democracy. We live in the UK. We live in a state where the ruling party is quite happy to ignore the democratic will of the people of Scotland, and to overrule any constituency electorate which has the gall to reject one of the Conservatives’ own. This is a failing state that rewards failure, as long as the failures are Conservative failures. The American President Dwight D Eisenhower said that patronage was a wicked word which could defeat democracy. In the UK it already has.

There’s only one way in which the people of Scotland can ensure that our political class is accountable, and that’s in an independent Scotland with a written constitution. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again. We need independence so that we can keep our politicians close to us, so that their arses are always within kicking distance of our feet.


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newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

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Alister Jack has killed Scottish unionism

unionismrip
The monkey has spoken, although we are still waiting for the organ grinder. Even though Boris Johnson has still not been bothered to reply to the Scottish Government’s demand for a Section 30 order transferring the power to hold independence referendums permanently to the Scottish Parliament, Alister Jack has squeaked up in return for being tossed a peanut in the shape of an interview on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics Show. His boss has far more important things to be getting on with, like recovering from his holiday in Mustique, and avoiding going to the House of Commons to speak about the Iran crisis.

Alister took to the airwaves to announce to Gordon Brewer that there will be no second independence referendum within the lifetime of Nicola Sturgeon. Alister has reinterpreted the definition of generation to mean the lifetime of anyone alive today. We’ve all heard the expression “over my dead body”, but when as Alister just did and said “over your dead body” then that can only be interpreted as a threat. “Over Your Dead Body” is in fact the title of a Japanese horror movie based on a kabuki play in which the leading player uses their influence to get a major part in a drama for a friend even though the role is way beyond his limited capabilities. It all ends very badly and does not go at all as the white faced protagonists intended it. So it’s an allegory for the story of Boris and Alister then.

Not until you’re all dead is a very strange definition of respecting the right of the people of Scotland to choose the form of government best suited to their needs. What Alister is really saying is that he doesn’t think that he should ever have to face another independence referendum at any point during his own lifetime, and then he had the audacity to claim that the Conservatives have a mandate for this strangulation of democracy.

Alister claimed that this imaginary mandate is based upon the Edinburgh Agreement, where it seems that there’s a paragraph written in invisible ink that says that if Scotland voted no then it’s up to the Tories to decide when there can be another referendum. It’s either that or Alister is frantically reaching for a straw to clutch at. Only in his case it’s an invisible imaginary straw that doesn’t actually exist. There is absolutely nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement which puts any limits on when there can be another independence referendum. All it says is that both parties agree to respect the result of the referendum. It says absolutely nothing at all about Scotland not being allowed another referendum even if the winning side doesn’t fulfil the promises and commitments it made to the people of Scotland in order to get the winning result.

The exact wording in the Edinburgh Agreement is as follows. It was agreed that the Scottish Government and the UK government agree that the independence referendum should “deliver a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect.” That’s the line upon which Alister is basing his spurious and frankly ludicrous claim to possessing a mandate for blocking another referendum.

Yet it’s hardly a “fair test” if the winning side in the referendum effectively lied, cheated, and misrepresented itself. All sorts of promises and commitments were made by the Better Together parties during that referendum campaign, and those were the promises and commitments which led voters in Scotland in cast their ballot in a particular way. One of those promises was telling people in Scotland that the only way Scotland could remain within the EU was by voting against independence. We all know how that worked out. Another was that Scotland would be an equal and respected partner in a family of nations. Only it turned out that Scotland was ignored, marginalised and sidelined at every turn during the Brexit negotiations. Another was that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would be enshrined in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of Holyrood. Only the British Government sought a Supreme Court ruling which found that the wording in the 2016 Scotland Act putting the Sewel Convention into law could be ignored by Westminster.

It was Westminster which traduced the Edinburgh Agreement. It’s the Conservatives who have not been respecting the result of the 2014 referendum. Respecting a result doesn’t mean cheating and lying to get a win and then demanding that no one can challenge you once your lies are discovered. The Tories are like an Olympic athlete who drugged themselves to the eyeballs on steroids to win the gold and then refused to allow a rematch for the medal and the title after they’d been found out.

Yet Alister’s arrogant cluelessness, his stomping about in a constitutional play that’s way beyond his performance ability, has revealed something important. The traditional Scottish Unionism that was once espoused by Alister’s party is dead. The Tories have killed in for the short term gain of trying to block an independence referendum.

Traditional Scottish Unionism was founded upon the belief that Scotland is not a colony, that it’s a free and willing partner in the UK and remains so because that is the express will of the people of Scotland. Traditional Scottish Unionism held that this was true because Unionists believed that the Union was unchallengeable, that it would last forever, that independence was a marginal view that would never gain traction. As long as it was founded upon that arrogance, Scottish Unionists could tell Scotland and the world that Scotland was no colony, no possession. We were better than that. That’s the fundamental arrogance of unionism.

The rise in support for independence changed all that. Independence is no longer a marginal force in Scottish politics. It’s a very real threat to the privileges and position of the likes of Alister Jack. So the Alisters of this world can no longer afford to indulge the sensibilities of Scotland by claiming that this is a free and voluntary union. The fig leaf has been ripped away. Traditional Scottish Unionism has been stripped of its clothing of partnership, and we see the naked imperial beast underneath. In the next referendum the Alisters will not be able to pretend that this is a debate between Scottish nationalism and British non-nationalism. We can all see now that this is a debate between an arrogant and anti-democratic reactionary British nationalism, and Scottish independence.

Naturally this shocking development representing the death of traditional Scottish Unionism and the reaction to it and its implications was the lead item on BBC Scotland’s lunchtime news. Oh wait. No. The lead story was that we’re getting bad weather in Scotland in the wintertime. But the real storm is the one that’s breaking for opponents of independence. The gales of independence will blow them into oblivion.


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

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com