Preparing to win the next UK General Election

It is safe to say now that the Conservative party has made a catastrophic mistake by choosing Liz Truss as its leader and as Prime Minister. After just four weeks in office – during two of which there was no government business due to the royal commournathon, Truss has taken the polling figures of the Conservatives to depths which have not been seen since the months prior to Labour’s electoral landslide of 1997, a General Election which saw the Conservatives wiped out in Scotland, losing all eleven of its Westminster seats, a disaster which it took the Scottish Tories almost 20 years to briefly recover from.

Truss now has an approval figure of -70 in Scotland, a mere one point higher than Boris Johnson in the final weeks of his time in Number 10.

A party conference is typically a time when a political party puts on a display of unity, that is particularly the case when the party holds its conference with a new leader who was chosen by a vote of party members a mere couple of weeks before the conference. This should have been a triumphant occasion for the Tories with both party and the wider electorate giving the new Prime Minister the benefit of any doubt as she enjoyed a honeymoon period boost in the polls.

Instead the conference, despite the ritualistic applause and senior Tories performatively telling the press that Truss had nailed it with her conference speech and its cosplay Thatcherism, was marked by muttering, plotting and the despair of Tory MPs staring at the likely loss of their seats. In just a few short weeks Truss has managed to restore the fortunes of an aimless Labour party and turn its personality free zone of a leader into the most likely winner of the next General Election.

This has important implications for a General Election campaign in Scotland which could very well be fought as a de facto referendum on Scottish independence if, as most commentators appear to believe, the UK Supreme Court rules against the Scottish Government in the indyref case.

Until now the assumption has been that the Labour party would continue to struggle to establish electoral credibility among voters in England and the most likely outcome of the next UK General Election would be yet another Conservative government. However the rapid and almost total implosion of Truss’s administration and her inability to rally her own party behind her never mind the wider electorate means that a Labour victory is a very real possibility. Indeed a recent poll found that Labour had a lead over the Conservatives in excess of 30% and could repeat Tony Blair’s historic landslide victory of 1997, and most likely prove to be equally disappointing in office.

Be that as it may, Labour’s resurgence means that the independence movement will not be fighting a campaign on the basis of independence vs an unpopular right wing Conservative Government with very little support in Scotland. Labour will be promising all sorts of wide ranging changes as they always do when they are in opposition, and even though bitter experience has taught us that Labour rarely follows through once it has achieved power and even when it does it is in a half-hearted, watered down and limited way, as we saw with Blair and devolution and reform of the House of Lords, some people will still be seduced by Labour’s message.

The key point that we as independence supporters need to establish is that the election of a Labour government will not bring about the fundamental and radical transformative change that is so desperately needed. Labour’s much heralded Constitutional Review does precisely nothing to alter the House of Commons and notably shies away from proposing the introduction of a more proportional voting system for Westminster elections.

This means that even in as best case scenario, with a Labour party which does actually fulfill its opposition promises once it secures its long awaited majority, the electoral pendulum will eventually swing back in the other direction in England and we will once again be confronted with a majority Conservative government in Westminster elected by a minority of the electorate, and just as we have seen in recent years with Tory attacks on the supposedly permanent devolution, that Conservative government will enthusiastically do its utmost to undo and undermine all the changes that Labour has introduced.

Any increase in power for the devolved parliaments which a new Labour government might introduce will remain at the mercy of a future Conservative government. Without fundamental and far reaching reform of the House of Commons, which Labour is not proposing, devolution is unable do what its proponents in the 1980s and 1990s promised that it would do – which is to protect Scotland from the malign effects of a Conservative government that Scotland didn’t vote for.

We already know that there is one right wing British nationalist sacred cow that Starmer has pledged to leave well alone. A Labour Government in Westminster will not attempt to revisit the question of EU membership and will not even seek to rejoin the customs union or the Single Market. Instead Starmer has pledged to “make Brexit work,” which is a bit like vowing to run a marathon with a broken leg. Brexit cannot be made to work in the same way that you cannot make a faulty television set work by attacking it with a sledge hammer. Brexit is in itself a fundamentally broken thing, it cannot be ‘made to work’, yet with Labour Scotland is going to be stuck with it just as we are stuck with it with the Tories.

There is only one way in which Scotland will be able to restore a closer and more economically and socially productive relationship with Europe, and that is with independence.

We also know that Starmer’s Labour party is just as dismissive of Scottish democracy as the Conservatives are. We have seen this in Starmer’s refusal to accept the mandate for a second independence referendum given to the Scottish Parliament by the electorate of Scotland in the Holyrood election of May last year. It is no democracy at all if the outcome of a Scottish election is only accepted by Westminster if Scotland votes in a way which the ruling party in the Commons finds acceptable. We have also seen it in the willingness of the Labour party in Scotland to co operate with the Conservatives, even to stand candidates with links to the sectarian British nationalist supremacist Orange Order, if it means keeping the dreaded SNP out of power. Labour can’t legitimately pose as the champion of Scotland against the Tories when it is hand in glove with the Tories in local authorities across the country.

Tory or Labour, what we are campaigning for is the security of democracy itself in Scotland. A Labour victory at the next UK General election cannot guarantee that, only independence can.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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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Dying to be British

This Conservative government is literally killing us. I wish that was just rhetorical hyperbole, but sadly it’s a stark and cruel truth. Researchers based in Glasgow have calculated that due to the Tory austerity policies which slashed billions of pounds from social security payments and public services that between 2012-2019, almost 335,000 more people died between 2012 and 2019 than would have been expected across the UK based on previous trends between 1981 and 2011.

As Liz Truss is wont to say, That. Is. A. Disgrace. However we all know that she won’t be saying it about the devastation and despair her party has created, certainly not when she has Austerity 2.0 in mind in order to pay her tax cuts which disproportionately benefit the wealthy. This number does not include the excess deaths caused by the British Government’s woeful mishandling of the covid crisis. When Better Together made their pitch to Scotland in the referendum campaign of 2014 they didn’t say, Vote no so that more of you can die, but tragically that is exactly what has happened.

The report’s co-author Prof Ruth Dundas, Professor of Social Epidemiology at the University of Glasgow told the Herald newspaper: “This study shows that in the UK a great many more deaths are likely to have been caused by UK Government economic policy than by the Covid-19 pandemic.” To which all that can be said is : “Are you Yes yet?”

Today Liz Truss gave her first speech as party leader to the Conservative party conference. It could very well be her last. It was the typical monotone and stilted speak your weight machine performance we have come to expect from Truss, full of outright lies and unintentional self-owns. The most exciting thing about it was that it was interrupted by two Greenpeace protestors brandishing a sign saying Who voted for this. The sign was quickly ripped away, only for the protestors to bring out another, showing that they had more foresight and preparation than the woman robotically intoning content free slogans on the main stage.

Perhaps the only saving grace was that she didn’t mention pork markets. She claimed to be the first Prime Minister to have gone to a comprehensive school, which must come as news to Gordon Brown and Theresa May, both of whom were educated at state comprehensives. Truss talked about how she had witnessed poverty, social exclusion and economic stagnation in Leeds and Paisley in the 1980s and 1990s, and how she saw struggling families and people who had lost all hope, she told us this experience informed her politics now. The big problem with that is that there was a Conservative government throughout that period, Truss seeks to emulate the very worst of Thatcher’s policies. Presumably what she means is that she is determined to repeat that miserable experience for a new generation.

Naturally Truss couldn’t resist a dig at Nicola Sturgeon, trying to lay the blame for the energy crisis in Scotland at the door of the Scottish Government for refusing to build new nuclear power plants. Scotland is a major energy producer, exporting both gas and electricity to England, Scotland is able to meet all its domestic electricity needs from Scottish produced renewable energy resources and still to produce a large surplus. Scotland also remains a significant producer of oil and gas. However energy policy is reserved to Westminster which has insisted on tying the price of electricity to the price of gas on the international markets in order to protect the energy companies, even though this is more expensive for the ordinary consumer. Scotland has no need for new nuclear power plants. Scotland does not have an energy crisis, it has a Conservative Government crisis.

Truss and her party blame shirkers for not working hard enough to make the British economy a success. The people who are shirkers are not the ones on benefits who are often working but just do not earn enough. The shirkers are those in Tory party pilfering the public purse to enrich their wealthy cronies at a cost which is counted in actual death.

Meanwhile Home Secretary Suella Braverman has said that her ‘dream’ is to see a front page headline in the Telegraph over a photo of a plane taking asylum seekers to Rwanda. If your dream is someone else’s nightmare, it is safe to say that something is very very wrong with you on the level of basic human decency.

Of course the assorted talking Tory heads will have praised Truss’s speech. They did the exact same thing following Iain Duncan Smith’s speech to the Conservative party conference in 2003, but that didn’t stop them from turfing him out as party leader within a few weeks and replacing him with the even more useless Michael Howard. Truss’s plodding and pedestrian speech was short on ideas and contained absolutely nothing to broaden her appeal within her own fractured party never mind to endear her to a wider public which has already made up its mind on her and decided that they don’t like what they see.

Far more important than the opinions of Truss loyalists, a poll out today has found that Truss is less popular with voters than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at their lowest ebb, new polling shows. Truss’s net favourability score has plunged by 28 points to -59 in less than a fortnight, according to the latest poll from YouGov. The lowest score ever recorded for Johnson was -53 while even Jeremy Corbyn never went lower than -55.

Even more alarmingly for the Conservatives, twice as many Conservative voters (60%) have an unfavourable view of the Prime Minister than a positive view (30%). Truss is clearly a big vote loser for the Tories. Another poll out today gives Labour an enormous lead of 38% over the Conservatives in the critical so-called ‘red wall’ seats which were vital to the Conservative victory in the 2019 General Election. That’s an increase for Labour over the Tories of 15% since the last red wall poll just two weeks ago.

These are polling levels which the Conservatives are going to struggle to turn around before the next General Election and which they will certainly be unable to make much of a dent in as long as they are lumbered with a massively unpopular leader with all the charisma of an abandoned mattress. Truss did say that she didn’t mind being unpopular, she has been a disaster at everything else in her short time in office, but as far as unpopularity is concerned she’s a runaway winner. Let’s just hope she doesn’t kill too many more of us before she’s booted out of office.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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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The bullying braggadocio of a weak PM

So Liz Truss thinks that there ‘should not be’ another Scottish independence referendum even if the UK Supreme Court rules later this month that it is indeed within the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament to hold one without her consent in the form of a section 30 order.

Once again we got the ‘Once in a Generation’ Mantra as though the entire referendum hinged upon it and it was a binding legal commitment and not a campaign slogan. Now it’s “we said” once in a generation? That’s new. I don’t remember that clause from the Edinburgh agreement. There was no agreement either written or spoken that the 2014 referendum was a once in a generation event. Truss can be as clear as she likes but others will be even clearer in their determination to have the referendum they have voted for.

It’s strange however that the likes of Truss don’t place the same weight on the utterances of the Better Together camp. How about the assertion that Scotland was an equal partner in a family of nations? We don’t hear the Scottish media challenge Truss and the Tories on that when they intone that “we were told the referendum was once in a generation?” Or more pertinently what about the Vow that if Scotland voted No no Westminster government would ever interfere with the devolution settlement without the express permission of the Scottish Parliament. Unlike the once in a generation slogan that was actually written into law, only for Theresa May to go to the UK Supreme Court to obtain a ruling that it had no force in law.

Truss’s so-called Brexit Opportunities Bill gives her government the legal right to intervene directly in devolved areas, over-ruling the Scottish Parliament. It goes without saying that the Conservatives have not sought a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland for any of this. So why is it that the losing side in the 2014 referendum is to be held in all perpetuity to some of its campaign slogans but the winning side gets a free pass on the commitments it made in order to secure its victory, commitments which were enshrined in legislation only to be ripped up later when they were no longer convenient? Answers on a postcard to BBC Scotland because it sure as hell doesn’t appear to be in any hurry to put the question to the Better Together parties.

But really, who cares what Liz Truss thinks? We know she doesn’t want another referendum because she doesn’t want to add ‘breaking up the union’ to the list of disasters – at least from her perspective – that characterise her likely to be short term in office. If the Supreme Court rules in the Scottish Government’s favour there will be a referendum whether she wants one or not, her permission will not be required and there will be a referendum without her permission. If the Supreme Court rules against the Scottish Government then the next UK General Election will become a de facto referendum whether she wants it to or not, and again, her permission will not be required and there will still be a vote on independence no matter what robotic soundbites she comes out with.

All Truss could do would be to pass some legislation to block, or more likely gerrymander, a referendum. However any such move would be fraught with political difficulty and would run the very serious risk of backfiring, as it would show the Scottish public that an unpopular Conservative government was attempting to stymie the operation of democracy in Scotland. First the Tories insisted that an ‘illegal’ referendum needed to be opposed, now Truss is insisting that a legal referendum also needs to be opposed. You can smell the fear.

Note however that she could not do the same with a UK General Election which is a de facto referendum in Scotland and should Truss attempt to prevent Scottish democracy from taking its course after the UK Supreme Court had ruled it was lawful she would run the risk of the Scottish Government refusing to hold a gerrymandered referendum which was unfairly stacked against a Yes victory and then having to contest a de facto referendum in which opponents of independence would be placed in the impossible position of having to defend a UK which resorted to nakedly undemocratic means in order to prevent the people of Scotland from voting to decide their future for themselves.

However the way things are going for Truss she could well be out on her ear before Christmas, so her opinions on another Scottish referendum would become even less relevant. She has been in power for less than a month, during half of which there was no government business because of the royal mournathon, and she has already managed to provoke a a significant part of the Conservative parliamentary party into plotting to bring her down. In her all too brief tenure in office she has managed to tank the pound, drive the pension funds to the verge of collapse, cause mortgage and rent costs to soar, and to give Labour a commanding lead in opinion polls which the Tories are unlikely to overturn.

Truss has already got most Tory MPs against her, a majority of them supported Sunak. There is also a significant contingent of former ministers who loathe her and who would cheerfully bring her down if they could. She had precious little goodwill on the Conservative benches to begin with and she has rapidly burned through that with the unforced errors of Kwarteng’s mini-budget. Her many critics on the Conservative benches are unlikely to give her the benefit of any doubt in future. Any more errors or negative public reactions that cost the Conservatives points in the polls and they will ruthlessly move against her.

It’s not Scotland which is in a weak position here, it’s Truss. Her bullying comments are the braggadocio of a weak politician who is compensating for her weakness with an attempt at assertiveness. No one is convinced, certainly not by a politician who has insisted that she will not U-turn and who then performed eight U-turns during the Conservative leadership contest followed by another U-turn on her flagship policy within days of taking office.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Rats in a sack

It’s all going so terribly well isn’t it? Liz Truss is living down to expectations that she would prove to be the next Worst Prime Minister in living memory, and is doing so in spectacular style. It must be clear by now to even the most obtuse “But what about the ferries!” frother that allowing the Conservative Party to choose the Prime Minister from within their own ranks without a General Election or even any input from the wider electorate is a system guaranteed to produce an abysmal Prime Minister who governs in the interests of the faction within the party which elected them without any meaningful consideration of the needs of other factions within their own party never mind the public.

Truss is simply the most blatant example of this she is a symptom of a dysfunctional Westminster system, and it is notable that Labour’s much touted constitutional review does nothing about the House of Commons, the Ground Zero of British political malaise.

According to polling, over 70% of voters now think the Truss has lost control of the economy after a mere 26 days in office, three of which she spent out of the country, and another 14 of which during which government had ceased due to the royal mournathon. It’s all going terribly well.

Today Truss and Kwarteng have been forced to perform a sharp U-turn on their plan to axe the 45p tax rate for top earners. It’s a desperate attempt to head off a growing rebellion on the Tory back benches and to halt the Conservatives’ plummeting polling numbers. Kwarteng might have done a U-turn on the politically toxic tax cut for the wealthiest, but is going ahead with his plan to lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses. However don’t let the Chancellor’s forced U-turn on axing the 45p tax rate for top earners distract us from the £18 billion public service cuts that he’s got planned.

Over the weekend Truss threw her Chancellor under the bus, blaming him for the idea to axe the top rate of tax for highest earners, in turn the Treasury briefed that it was really the idea of Chris Philp, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. This lot give rats in a sack a bad name. If they have no loyalty to one another, you can be quite sure that the interests of the rest of us don’t even register in their peripheral vision. No one is to blame for this disaster of an idea. The official position of the British Government is that a bad boy done it and ran away.

For his part Philp denied it was anything to do with him but announced the frankly insane plan to remove all regulation from any business employing less than 500 people. Which presumably means that it will now be OK for your local takeaway to serve you salmonella and for waste disposal company to dump chemical waste in your street.

Demonstrating that compassionate Conservatism is alive and well, Tory chair Jake Berry insisted that people who can’t pay their bills as a result of his party’s policies should “get higher salaries or higher wages and go out there and get that new job.” Only last month Tories were telling us not to ask for higher wages because it would cause inflation. The Tory solution to poverty is to tell people that it’s their own fault for not being rich. I am waiting for a Tory minister to tell pensioners and disabled people who cannot get higher-paid jobs to die for the public good.

Meanwhile the co-founder of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment management company – a Tory donor, of course – has just been been given a peerage and made a minister. They’re not even hiding it anymore, are they? Rees-Mogg is hugely in favour of the government’s plans to expand fracking, maintaining that it should go ahead where there was local support, but adding that areas may be “encouraged to frack” by bribing them with GP surgeries and schools. Let your town be rattled by earthquakes an have its water table polluted while we create environmental destruction and hasten climate catastrophe for a quick buck, or we won’t provide you with healthcare or schools, is a very Tory message.

Just a week ago Douglas Ross, the hapless leader – at least for now – of the Scottish Conservatives described these tax cuts as a bold plan to ‘turbo charge’ the economy and demanded that the Scottish Government matched them, including the cuts on taxes for the wealthiest. However this week Douglas Ross says Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng “made the right decision” to U-turn on a plan to scrap the top rate of tax. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those rich people who were moving out of Scotland last week. Presumably all those rich people who were supposed to be moving south because of the tory Tax cuts will be cancelling their plans this morning.

This U-turn represents an utter humiliation for Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories, right up until Monday morning they were demanding with a furious and self-righteous zeal that the Scottish Government copy and paste the Chancellor’s UK tax plans in their entirety. This screeching U-turn demonstrates that Douglas Ross isn’t just out the loop as far as British Government decision making is concerned, but the entire Scottish Conservative contingent does not even rank as an afterthought. He and the rest of the Scottish Conservatives have been exposed as a complete irrelevance, even to their own party. Still, I’m sure BBC Scotland’s Glenn Campbell is on his way to doorstep Ross right now.

This U-turn exposes the deep divisions within the Conservative party and demonstrates the real weakness of Truss. The Conservative Party Conference has only shown how divided, corrupted and vindictive the party is.

Most Conservative MPs did not support Truss in the leadership contest, yet far from building bridges with the rest of the party Truss sidelined them and appointed a cabinet of Yes-men and women. The real problem for Truss is that there are a host of Tory former ministers on her back benches, all of whom hate her and who plan to quit parliament at the next election, they will be more than happy to pull her down. The Conservatives can be ruthless when they sniff the blood of a poor leader, and right now Truss has slashed her political carotid artery. Far from delivering a polling boost for the party she has reduced the Conservatives to levels unseen since the months before the Labour landslide of 1997.

We are now assuredly witnessing the end of the Conservatives’ term in office – at least until the English electoral pendulum swings back in their favour, as it most certainly will eventually. The only question is how much damage the rats in a sack can wreak until they are turfed out of office.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The Great Tory Merdefest

Liz Truss finally made a public appearance after keeping quiet for a week while her government burned down the economy, trashed the pound, threatened to tank pension funds and saw an emergency intervention from the Bank of England in an attempt to protect the British economy from the British Government. Interest rates seem likely to rise to 6%, their highest level for years, which will translate into large increases in mortgage payments and rent costs, adding a housing crisis the the energy and food price crises we already have to endure.

But according to Truss none of this is her fault. To call her series of interviews with local radio in England car crashes is to woefully under estimate the sheer horrific awfulness of her performance. Sure, it was a car crash, but only if your car had collided with a minibus carrying Freddy Krueger, Michael Myers, Buffalo Bill, Hannibal Lector, that guy from the Hills Have Eyes with the chainsaw, Pinhead, Doctor Doom, Davros, Doctor Evil, and Stephen Kerr who then chase you down the street screaming about ferries.

Chris Philp, the best proof of nominative determinism to ever exist as it is supremely fitting for a Conservative minister in this miserable government to have a name that sounds like the noise your sphincter makes when you are unsure if it was just a small fart or something wetter and far more alarming. Philp was one of the few government ministers who were prepared to do public interviews to defend this merdefest, and was excoriated on LBC radio by Nick Ferrari, who demanded that Philp stop treating listeners like fools as he vainly attempted to spout the unconvincing line that the self-inflicted disaster of Kwarteng’s mini-budget/maxi-damage was really down to Putin and assorted other global problems.

Meanwhile in Scotland in this supposed Union, in the midst of an economic crisis, the meltdown of the pound and the threat that hundreds of thousands may no longer be able to afford their mortgage payments or rent, a tanking pound that will translate into even higher inflation, and food bills that will soar even more, and the threat of pension funds nose-diving, the opposition parties and their client journalists are obsessed with ferries and procurement processes and amounts of money that don’t even register compared to the magnitude of the many billions that the Conservatives are costing us all. It’s so embarrassingly parochial and infantile. Yet more proof that Scotland cannot have adult politics and a grown up media until we escape the clutches of this appallingly dysfunctional Westminster system. It’s not just Philp who is treating us all like fools.

A 40p collapse in the pound this year suddenly makes the NHS very cheap for private healthcare companies in the USA to own. Truss and her allies will be looking to sell off the last few remaining public assets to pay for the mess that they have created. They will squeeze public services past the bone, and will make all of us pay for years to come, all so that wealthy Conservative donors can buy a bigger yacht and a third holiday home with the tax breaks that we are all paying for.

This is what this so called Union has in store for us, impoverishment and the destruction of our civil and employment rights, the neutering of the Scottish Parliament and the reduction of Scotland to the status of a ‘historic region’ of a “single British nation” with no more political import than Mercia or Wessex.

This is a UK where apologists for this woeful government like Allison Pearson of the Telegraph tell us : “When I listen to the new Italian prime minister speak, I hear mainstream Conservative values that millions of people share.” That’s the actual far-right extremist and so close to fascist that it makes no difference Giorgia Meloni, who now seemingly counts as ‘mainstream Conservative in this UK. “I can’t tell the difference between a fascist and the modern Conservative Party,” is not the great killer point that Pearson seems to think it is. Remember how in 2014 Better Together told Scotland that we needed the UK to protect us from political extremism. Fascism is no longer just knocking at the door, it has already been invited in and is making itself cosy.
The case for Scottish independence has never looked stronger.The supposed economic strength of the UK has evaporated. Nicola Sturgeon and Kate Forbes seem safe pairs of hands by comparison to Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng.

It’s not just the pound which is plummeting, so is support for the conservatives in opinion polling. A YouGov poll published on Thursday gave the following astonishing results, LAB: 54% (+9) CON: 21% (-7), LIB DEM: 7% (-2), GRN: 6% (-1), The figures in brackets are changes from the previous YouGov poll published earlier this week. Fieldwork for this new poll was carried out on Wednesday and Thursday.

Labour are now an incredible 33 points ahead of the Conservatives in voting intention. We have not seen anything like this since the years leading up to the Blair landslide of the late 1990s. Another poll out on Thursday, this time from Survation, put Labour 21 points ahead of the Conservatives. This is wipeout territory for the Tories. Just 37% of 2019 Tory voters say they would vote for Liz Truss’s party now. Lewis Goodall of Sky News points out that even Blair only had a 13% lead in 1997, and current polls point to a Labour majority of 300. The polls may be volatile right now due to the shock of the Conservatives’ self-inflicted economic crisis and are likely to settle down, but this is a polling level that the Conservatives are going to be unlikely to recover from.

Subsamples must be taken with more than a grain of salt, but for what it’s worth the Scottish subsample in the Survation poll shows 51% SNP, 29% Lab, 11% Con, 6% Lib and 1% Green. That’s a 52% pro-independence vote and the probable annihilation of the Conservatives in Scotland.

However there is no prospect of a General Election any time soon. The Tory turkeys will not vote for Christmas. We are going to have to endure this hideous government until it is forced to the polls in 2024. It would be nice to think that the long Tory nightmare was finally coming to an end, but Labour won’t take us back into the Single Market or Customs Union never mind the EU, it won’t reform the House of Commons and will be as contemptuous of Scottish democracy as the Tories, and even in a best case scenario, the electoral pendulum in England will inevitably one day swing back to the right and we will be in for a Tory nightmare all over again. There is only one way to break this vicious cycle, and that’s with independence.

You know things are truly dire for the Conservatives when Liz Truss consents to be interviewed by Reporting Scotland and they don’t even give her the chance to attack the SNP about the ferries.

On Monday night I did my first in-person public speaking event since I had the stroke. It was the launch of Yes Carrick, our new local Yes group, which I am delighted to support. I did it because the venue was literally around the corner so didn’t involve a long journey. I managed to talk for some twenty minutes which was better than I had expected.  I might be able to do more events in future as long as transport is provided.

_____________________________________________________

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The Tories: trash the economy and run away

I rarely look at Twitter, it’s a cesspit of bile which is damaging to the mental health and well being of even the most robust psyche. Even less often do I look at my Twitter notifications, however I looked into Twitter on Wednesday to check on the reactions to Kamekwasi Kwarteng’s immolation of the British economy and was confronted by dozens of notifications, which turned out to be overwhelmingly from members of the staunch brigade working themselves up into a British nationalist – sorry anti-nationalist British patriot – lather over the piece that I did yesterday for The National.

When you are upsetting right wing British nationalists you know that you must be doing something right. What got their nationalist and supremacist goat was not pointing out to them that they are indeed nationalists, and moreover nationalists of a deeply unpleasant xenophobic and exceptionalist ilk, there is no getting through their impregnable wall of denial on that score, not when it’s a core belief of their British nationalism that British nationalism cannot be nationalist at all. The immediate cause of their anger was a passage in yesterday’s piece that The National tweeted out noting that should the UK Supreme Court rule against the Scottish Government in the indyref court case it would be the final death knell for the union.

This is of course because such a ruling would be an effective decision that the nature of the UK as it has always been understood by traditional moderate Scottish Unionist opinion was a myth without any legal or political foundation. It would be a ruling that the UK was effectively a unitary state in which the component nations of what was hitherto understood as a voluntary union need the permission of the British Prime Minister not just to leave the UK, but merely to ask their people if that is what they wanted to do.

Such a ruling would make a nonsense of any assertion that the UK was a voluntary union. This might play well with the frothing British nationalists on social media who like to spit bile about the ‘racist SNP’ in a truly epic performance of psychological projection, but it would not go down at all well with moderate and mainstream Scottish opinion who despite the claims of certain British nationalist social media groups, are really The Majority in Scotland, it would merely trigger the conversion of the next Westminster General Election in Scotland into a de-facto referendum on independence. And there would not be a single thing that the staunch mob could do to stop it or boycott it. There is nothing in the psyche of British nationalism to allow its adherents to cope with a situation in which they are the powerless ones. All they have is fury and denial.

The anger of British nationalists that the independence movement would continue even after a ruling from the UK Supreme Court that Holyrood cannot hold an independence referendum, indeed the campaign would be invigorated, was in no small measure a deflection, a tissue of psychological defence, against the reality that the British state is self-combusting before our very eyes.

On Wednesday the Bank of England was forced to make an unprecedented intervention into the markets, buying up vast quantities of British Government debt in order to avert an economic catastrophe created by the Chancellor’s incomprehensible decision to massively increase government borrowing in order to introduce a raft of tax cuts which will do little or nothing to help ordinary households but which will give a huge boost to the already bloated bank balances of the richest in the country.

Kwarteng’s mini-budget prompted a run on the pound, which is heading towards parity with the dollar and the euro. It threatened to bankrupt the pension funds and led to a sharp rebuke from the International Monetary Fund. The Tories have always liked to boast that they are the party which can be trusted on the economy, the events of the past few days have shown that to be just another of their lies.

In the independence vote to come the answer to the question : “What currency are you going to use?” will be, anything but Sterling. The plummeting pound will translate into higher costs for imported goods which will in turn fuel the inflation which is already assailing household budgets. Meanwhile interest rates are rising as quickly as the pound is falling, which means that we will soon see sharp rises in mortgage costs and rents.

This is a disaster by any measure, moreover it was entirely unnecessary and avoidable. This is what happens when the fate of millions are put in the hands of a few thousand unrepresentative right wing Conservative party members. It is the product of a dysfunctional and broken Westminster system, and Labour’s constitutional review will do nothing to fix that. Westminster cannot be fixed, it can only be left behind.

While all this is going on Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss have gone to ground. There is a worsening self-inflicted financial crisis and Truss has not made any public statement for a week. Last week people in the UK were worrying about heating their homes this winter, this week they are worrying about having a home this winter. But Truss and Kwarteng, the architects of all this misery are nowhere to be seen. They are failing in the very basics of leadership, to reassure the public in a time of crisis. That alone demonstrates that they are unfit for the high offices that they hold thanks to the votes of a few thousand Conservative party members. How very Tory, trash the economy and run away. Douglas Ross and his pals are in hiding too, their ferry shtick won’t save them from responsibility for this disaster.

So with this complete and utter shitshow of a British state – which heaps wealth on the wealthy while starving the poor, and making them homeless – do the frothing British nationalist zoomers on social media really think that supporters of Scottish independence, the only plausible route out of this disaster and back into the European Union, are going to react to a UK Supreme Court ruling that Holyrood cannot hold a referendum by saying, “Oh well that’s it then,” let’s just give up on this whole lark. Hell no. It will only provide further proof of the need for independence as the only possible way that Scotland can ensure that the right wing of the Conservative party cannot dictate to Scotland and blight all our lives with their cruel and callous ideology.

On Monday night I did my first in-person public speaking event since I had the stroke. It was the launch of Yes Carrick, our new local Yes group, which I am delighted to support. I did it because the venue was literally around the corner so didn’t involve a long journey. I managed to talk for some twenty minutes which was better than I had expected.  I might be able to do more events in future as long as transport is provided.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Truss’s dead cat splat

Expectations were already rock bottom when Liz Truss won the Conservative party’s Margaret Thatcher impersonation contest, but it has not taken long at all for her to prove that even our worst fears about how bad her administration would be were wildly optimistic. She has only effectively been Prime Minister for a couple of days given that all government business was suspended for a fortnight within days of her taken office due to the death of the Queen and the obligatory mournathon, and now the Commons is in recess because it’s party conference season.

Even so, Truss has already shown that her top priority during the energy crisis is to protect the bloated unearned profits of the energy companies, leaving ordinary consumers to foot the bill. Her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng then unveiled a mini budget which even by the dire standards of this Conservative party was shocking in its crass cruelty and its callous indifference to the struggles of ordinary households. Kwarteng announced a raft of tax cuts which will disproportionately benefit the richest, but for the poorest households on Universal Credit there are only to be punitive measures which could reduce their already meagre incomes. This income boost for those who don’t need it is to be funded by a massive expansion in public borrowing, which will in turn be paid for by ordinary taxpayers. For good measure he also lifted the cap on bankers’ bonuses, because nothing says a responsible response to a cost of living crisis like rewarding disaster capitalists.

What Kwarteng has done is quite literally to take money out of the pockets of poorer people in order to stuff it into the bulging bank balances of the rich. So as you sit in your freezing house this winter, huddled under a duvet on the sofa because you have turned off the heating that you can no longer afford, you can console yourself with the thought that your sacrifice is not in vain, you are helping to fund a new holiday home in Tuscany for a merchant banker who makes donations to the Conservative party.

It’s not just those previously opposed to the Conservatives who reacted badly to Kwarteng’s disgrace of a mini-budget. The financial markets responded by tanking the pound, much to the benefit of some of Kwarteng’s banking pals, who stood to rake in a fortune, having previously shorted the pound. Insider trading is illegal, but absolutely nothing untoward happened here. Oh no. And how very dare that unworthy thought even cross your socialist mind, dominated as it is by the politics of envy.

Even Conservative voters have reacted badly to the mini-budget, a YouGov poll published today has found that a large majority, almost seven in ten, Conservative voters disapprove of Kwarteng’s decision to axe the 45p tax rate for the highest earners and a similar number were opposed to the removal of the cap on bankers’s bonuses. Kwarteng has even failed to play to the Tory gallery.

The crashing pound means that imports will rise in price for consumers already managing soaring costs. Oil is priced in dollars on the international markets, meaning rises in fuel prices are likely. In order to protect the pound, the Bank of England is likely to hike interest rates, which will make mortgages and rents more expensive. This threatens to add a cost of housing crisis to the energy cost crisis and the food bill crisis. Some mortgage providers have suspended new mortgages until there is some clarity about interest rates. The Times newspaper reports that government ministers are increasingly concerned that the Bank of England will be forced to implement aggressive rises in interest rates in order to stabilise the pound, which would result in homeowners being hit with huge rises in mortgage costs.

A former Conservative minister told the Times newspaper : “The moment it becomes serious is when mortgage rates go up for homeowners. If it happens before conference then it’ll dominate and you can’t predict how the party will respond. Her leadership was on an unstable platform and it’s becoming more unstable.”

Truss was not the preferred choice of a majority of Conservative MPs, who by a large margin supported her rival Sunak, she also won the membership vote by a much smaller margin than opinion polling had suggested. However following her victory Truss did not reach out to the opposing faction in her divided party, she displayed the classically Tory winner takes it all arrogance that we know all too well from the nasty party, treating those who had opposed her in the same way that the Conservatives treated remain voters following the 2016 EU referendum. The Tories don’t do reconciliation or compromise, which they perceive as weakness. This is likely to prove fatal to Truss’s chances of having a stable government.

By the way, this winner takes it all arrogance of the Tories is one reason why the Conservatives scream so much about the supposed ‘divisiveness’ of the Scottish constitutional debate. They are terrified that following a Yes vote, they will be marginalised, ignored, and treated with the same contempt that they have displayed for their opponents.

Reports are that a ‘small’ number of letters of no confidence have been submitted to the chair of the 1922 Committee. There is no immediate threat to Truss. Conservative Party rules mandate that a year needs to pass before there can be a leadership contest, so in theory Truss should be safe from challenge until late summer 2023, but as we saw with Johnson, Conservative MPs are able to find ways to force an unpopular leader out anyway.

The same poll that found that not even Tory voters approve of the tax cuts in the mini budget and only a mere 15% of respondents think that it will succeed in growing the economy, also found that Labour now enjoys a 17% lead over the Conservatives in voting intention. Labour is now on 45% with the Tories trailing far behind on 28%, the biggest polling lead for Labour that YouGov has ever recorded. So much for a Truss honeymoon. She never got a polling bounce, more a dead cat splat. It’s just as well she doesn’t mind being unpopular.

These figures would produce a large Labour majority of 182 at a General Election, meaning that Conservative MPs who are nervous about Truss’s leadership will be reluctant to vote for an early General Election. Remarkably only 47% of Tory 2019 voters now say they’d vote for them. This poll would see the Tories lose 223 seats, which would mean Liz Truss would go down in political infamy as being the worse Tory Prime Minister since the birth of a 3 party system.The next election is a long way off. The same poll predicts the SNP to end up with 51 sears. If Truss can do this much damage in 2 days, God knows what she can do in 2 years. This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Last night I did my first in-person public speaking event since I had the stroke. It was the launch of Yes Carrick, our new local Yes group, which I am delighted to support. I did it because the venue was literally around the corner so didn’t involve a long journey. I managed to talk for some twenty minutes which was better than I had expected.  I might be able to do more events in future as long as transport is provided.

_____________________________________________________

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The real divisiveness is callous Tory greed

One of the most common tropes of those who viscerally oppose independence is the complaint that ‘That Essempee’ has divided Scotland. This is a theme which is enthusiastically promoted by the anti-independence media. For example this week saw the publication of the most recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, which found that independence is the preferred constitutional option of 52% of respondents while support for devolution as the preferred option has plummeted to 38%, and support for the outright abolition of the Scottish Parliament remains on just 8% despite the very loud and prominent presence of the staunch Über unionists on social media and in the comments sections of the Herald and the Scotsman.

52% vs 38% vs 8% is a pretty categorical finding which would translate into 53% support for independence in a binary choice referendum where the options were independence or the current Scottish Parliament, and likely would be even more decisive once people appreciate the danger to devolution posed by the current Conservative government which just this week published its so called ‘Brexit Freedoms’ bill, which allows Westminster to unilaterally over rule Holyrood and gives UK ministers the power to act within devolved areas without consent from the Scottish Government. The fact is that devolution is not safe and cannot protect Scotland from a malignant Conservative government that it did not vote for.

Truss would like nothing more than to grant that frothing 8% its dearest Cringing wish. However the only thing which prevents a Tory government which has already proclaimed that the UK is not a voluntary union of four nations, but rather one single British nation, from neutering Holyrood entirely, is the political threat of another vote on Scottish independence. If Scotland is foolish enough to vote no a second time that is exactly what will happen.

There is a broad degree of consensus in Scotland that this country needs a considerable measure of self-government. Nevertheless BBC Scotland chose to frame its report on the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey as yet more evidence that Scotland is a divided society, riven by disagreement over the constitutional question.

When the Conservatives and their allies complain about the divisiveness supposedly caused by the independence debate what they are really complaining about is that they can no longer arrogantly assume, as they did prior to 2014, that Scotland will always get Conservative governments if that is the outcome of a General Election in England. They are upset that they can not continue forever to count on electoral hauners from outwith Scotland for their political opinions which have minority support within Scotland.

They are also upset that their Brit-centric Scottish Cringe is now subject to challenge and they can no longer pontificate in the golf club or bowling club bar about how wee, poor and stupid Scotland is without the risk of being challenged.

The Scottish independence movement is overwhelmingly peaceful and law abiding, the only notable violence associated with the independence debate has come from British nationalist thugs who pose no threat to a douce middle class no voter pursing his or her lips about ‘divisiveness.’

What these no voters are really complaining about are legitimate differences of political opinion which are normal and healthy in a democratic society, the only possible reason that they might become unhealthy is because the anti-independence parties are doing their utmost to prevent these legitimate differences in political opinion from being resolved through the ballot box, which is how a properly functioning democracy deals with such matters.

There are however very deep and very real divisions within the UK, divisions which unlike differences of political opinion have a profound and lasting effect on people’s lives and prospects. Those are the divisions between the rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots. OECD figures suggest that the UK has one of the highest levels of income inequality amongst the largest economies in Europe (as measured by the Gini coefficient), although income inequality is lower than in the United States. Under successive governments social inequality in the UK is only getting worse. Since 1980, the share of income earned by the top 1% in the UK has generally been rising, rising to to 13% in 2015. This is almost double the corresponding figure for Belgium (7%) and higher than Australia (9%), Sweden (8%) and Norway (8%). These are divisions which blight lives, which create ill health and misery for millions, divisions which cause genuine grief and hardship, not the mild and minor passing discomfort of encountering an individual with a different view of Scotland’s potential place in the world from your own.

Within the UK there is also very pronounced regional inequality. For generations the economic policies of UK Governments have served to concentrate wealth and opportunities in London and the South East of England at the expense of the rest of the UK. The UK is one of the most regionally unequal economies in Europe, in Germany regional inequality is gradually diminishing – and remember Germany had to incorporate an impoverished East which was formerly part of the communist bloc – in the UK regional inequality is only getting worse.

This Conservative government’s much vaunted levelling up programme will do little to help, the Tories are using it as means of funnelling public money into Conservative voting areas and Liz Truss even had the gall to announce that removing the cap on bankers’ bonuses was a part of levelling up, which is literally claiming that you are alleviating poverty by giving the richest more money and making the poorest pay for it.

On Friday Truss’s partner in slime, the chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, fresh from laughing and gurning his way through the Queen’s funeral, unveiled a mini budget which was shocking in its brazen enrichment of the wealthiest while we are in the midst of a cost of living crisis which threatens hundreds of thousands with penury. Kwarteng announced £45 billion in tax cuts, the great bulk of which will go straight into the bank accounts of the wealthy and which will only widen the chasm of life styles and opportunities which exists in the UK between the rich and the poor. Kwarteng’s bungs for the wealthy will be funded by government borrowing which the rest of us will have to pay for and which will be loaded on to the next set of GERS figures as more supposed ‘proof’ of a union dividend.

It’s a mini budget which is truly gob smacking, even by the standards of the Conservatives, for its cruel and callous disregard for the struggles which millions of ordinary working households are currently facing. As well as further enriching the already wealthy at all our expense, he also found time to turn the screw even tighter on those who are worst off, announcing measures to reduce the already meagre incomes of those on Universal Credit if they are deemed not to be making sufficient effort to find work. Effectively he has blamed the UK’s Brexit created labour shortage on the poor. Kwarteng is threatening to strip the poorest and most vulnerable of what little they have, leaving them even more destitute and desperate, more ripe for exploitation by greedy rich to whom he has just given a tax cut.

40% of people on Universal Credit are actually in work, 56% of people in poverty are in a working family, 7 in 10 children in poverty are in a family where at least one parent works. The Tories are cracking down on Universal Credit claimants is because they blame them for their own poverty. they are lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses is because they are rewarding them for their own failure.

The inequality and social injustice of the UK are the real divisions that we need to worry about, they are the divisions that the Conservatives are taking a publicly funded crowbar to as they gleefully prise them ever wider apart. It’s only going to get worse under Truss.

There will always be differences of political opinion in a democracy, independence is Scotland’s only real hope of healing the divisions that really matter, the divisions created by poverty and lack of opportunity. That will never happen as part of the UK. Independence is not about creating division, it’s about healing the wounds and fractures inflicted upon Scotland by successive Conservative governments that we didn’t vote for.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Tracking Attitudes to independence

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (SSAS) was published today. This is not a normal opinion poll, rather it is a long term project which tracks how public opinion about a variety of topics has changed over time. The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey runs in parallel to the British Social Attitude Survey and has included a question on Scotland’s constitutional debate since 1999. The survey uses a random sample of all those aged 16 and over who live across the whole of Scotland, so it provides a robust and reliable picture of public attitudes in Scotland, with a sample size of over 1600, which is larger than that of a typical opinion poll. SSAS has been a face-to-face survey since 1999 but in2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the survey was conducted as two separate surveys; one on the telephone and one primarily online. Field work was carried out in October 2021.

This question about the constitutional issue is not framed in the same way as the question in more usual polls, where the question asked, at least in reputable polls, mirrors the likely question which would be put to voters in a referendum – Should Scotland be an independent country?

You might be wondering why an opinion poll carried out a year ago is still relevant. Certainly the usual British nationalist suspects on social media and the supremely self-regarding Scottish Lib Dem Alex Cole-Hamilton have been rushing to dismiss it as irrelevant. However as pointed out above, this is not an ordinary opinion poll, but a long term survey, It does not not ask about Scottish independence in the same way as other polls, rather the SSAS asks respondents about their views on a range of possible constitutional options for Scotland, independence, devolution, or the abolition of Holyrood and direct Westminster rule. The survey invites respondents to say which of five options is closest to their view about how Scotland should be governed:

1. Scotland should become independent, separate from the UK and the European Union
2. Scotland should become independent, separate from the UK but part of the European Union
3. Scotland should remain part of the UK, with its own elected parliament which has some taxation powers
4. Scotland should remain part of the UK, with its own elected parliament which has no taxation powers
5. Scotland should remain part of the UK without an elected parliament

For that reason this survey is not directly comparable to the regular opinion polls that we are more used to. These polls give a snapshot of public opinion at a given moment in time, the aim of the SSAS is to provide a picture of how public opinion is evolving over a longer period. That is what makes today’s publication highly significant, because the SSAS has discovered that for the first time ever, independence is the preferred constitutional option of the people of Scotland. 52% of respondents said that they preferred independence versus 38% who chose devolution and a mere 8% who would like to see the outright abolition of the Scottish Parliament and a return to the constitutional position which held prior to the establishment of devolution following the referendum of 1997.

That 8% who want the abolition of Holyrood is highly vocal on social media and in the comments sections of the anti-independence press, they are also disproportionately represented amongst the embittered ranks of the Scottish Conservatives, who opposed devolution in 1997 and have never been reconciled to it. Of course the fact that so few people in Scotland are in favour of this country coming under the direct control of Westminster will not prevent the most right wing Conservative government that the UK has ever had from continuing its assault on the devolution settlement. Scottish democracy was and has never been a concern of the Conservative party, which is more than willing to ride roughshod over Scottish public opinion when it suits the interests of the Conservative party. This o course makes Tory bleating about ‘respecting the result of the 2014 referendum’, particularly hypocritical.

The survey has found that support for independence has gradually increased in Scotland since the question was first included. In 1999, the year that the devolved parliament was opened, a mere 27% of respondents chose independence as their preferred option, 59% chose devolution, and 10% did not want any Scottish Parliament at all. In 2010 support for independence had declined to 23%%. That was a period when the Scottish Parliament was still new, there was a Labour government in Westminster, and there was still confidence that Holyrood would be able to do the job that it was created to do, to protect Scotland from the excesses and cruelty of a Westminster Conservative government that Scotland did not vote for. Brexit and the years since 2016 have disabused Scotland of that notion.

Over the course of the past 23 years there has been a sea change in Scottish attitudes about independence and Scotland’s constitutional status. The referendum campaign of 2014 normalised independence and forced even those who oppose it to take it seriously. The Brexit vote of 2016 and the perfidy of the anti-independence parties in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum demonstrated that devolution is toothless when it comes to protecting Scotland from the policies of a British Conservative government that it didn’t vote for. We have learned the hard way that opposing independence is not, as British nationalists like to claim, a means of protecting Scotland from damaging change. Damaging change is happening anyway, but without independence Scotland is subject to decisions made elsewhere, and without the powers to allow it to respond adequately to that change.

Independence is now the preferred option of the majority in Scotland, that’s a finding which would have been incredible back in the 1990s, yet now it scarcely comes as a surprise. Over the years, Scotland has been growing away from the UK, a process which will only gain pace as the right wing reactionaries of the Truss government seek to bend an unwilling Scotland to their will. The trajectory charted by the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey is clear. Scotland is well on the path to support for independence being the settled will of the people of Scotland.

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albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

Donate Button

Is it safe yet?

NotmyspanielIs it safe to come out yet? Can we now get on with our lives without being bombarded by incessant sycophantic drivel about members of a rich and privileged family. Personally I am sick to the back teeth of being told that the Queen was like the gushing interviewee’s grandmother. Although admittedly she was just like my own grandmother, in that she was unhuggable, emotionally distant, and I tried very hard to avoid her.

There is a rule of thumb that whenever a newspaper headline is framed as a question, the answer is invariably – No. And that is also the case of the question posed in the first paragraph of this blog piece. No, as long as Scotland remains a part of this supposedly united kingdom, we will never be able to get on with our lives without being bombarded by incessant sycophantic drivel about members of a rich and privileged family. Probably some time next year there will be the coronation of King Charles #NotMySpaniel (a hashtag which I’ll be determined to get trending.) and we will be in for yet more blanket British nationalist – sorry, ‘patriotic’ bollocks taking over the British media as it descends into another paroxysm of orgasmic monarchist gushery complete with Kremlin watching style speculation about the state of the relationship between the royal spaniel’s sons.

But for now, despite the interminable post match analysis of the funeral, the Queue, Meghan Markle, and tearful interviews with assorted coffin watchers, we can get back to real news, or at least what passes for real news in this shit-show of a Britain. The Prime Minister that none of us elected has started her first visit to the USA as British leader with an admission that a UK-US free trade deal isn’t going to happen any time soon — a very marked contrast to the repeated declarations of her predecessors, Boris Johnson and Theresa May, in the post-Brexit era, and the claims of the Brextremists prior to and after the EU referendum that a UK trade deal with America would be signed sealed and delivered within a few months of the UK leaving the EU. Our expectations have already fallen through the floor, yet Truss still feels she needs to manage them. There’s that confident global Britain for you.

If as seems possible, the Conservatives crash the Good Friday Agreement and spark off a trade war with the EU, there may very well be no US-UK trade deal at all. Biden has made it clear that the Good Friday Agreement must be protected and warned ahead of his 2020 election that if Brexit damaged the 1998 Good Friday Agreement he would not consent to a UK-US trade deal.

Also overlooked during the royalgasm of the past two weeks (although if feels like much much longer), Sunday was the eighth anniversary of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The contrast between what Better Together promised Scotland in return for a No vote and what has actually been delivered is stark. We were assured that Scotland would be a loved and respected equal partner in a voluntary union of nations, but now Liz Truss insists that the UK is not a voluntary partnership of nations, but rather ‘one great nation’. We were promised that only a No vote could guarantee Scotland’s place in the EU, yet here we are, out in the cold, stripped of EU membership, citizenship and our freedom of movement and right to live and work in Europe has been sacrificed on the altar of the xenophobic immigrant hatred of the right wing of the Conservative party and the Daily Mail.

We were told that the devolution settlement would be safe and put beyond any Westminster meddling, but the British Government of Theresa May went to the UK Supreme Court to obtain a ruling that the Sewel Convention, that said Westminster needed the consent of Holyrood to infringe on devolved powers, had no force in law, even though it was written into the Scotland Act. Now the Conservatives are openly discussing measures to by-pass and undermine the Scottish Parliament. It’s only the threat of another independence referendum that prevents them from neutering Holyrood entirely and turning it into a toothless talking shop.

These are only a few of the ways in which the Better Together parties have traduced the promises that they made to the people of Scotland when they were panicking about the possibility of a Yes vote in 2014. But even so, apparently it’s only the SNP which must respect the referendum result, the parties which won that vote are to be given a free pass when it comes to respecting the promises, commitments and Vows that they made in order to secure the victory that they so craved. I know I keep banging on about this, but it’s a vitally important point, one which the majority of the Scottish media colludes with Labour, the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems in keeping out of the public spotlight. The reason for that is because it’s the betrayal of the Vow and the campaign commitments of the Better Together parties which provides the moral and political justification for a second independence referendum.

If a party or parties cannot be held to account for the promises that they made in order to win a democratic vote, then democracy is neutered and rendered impotent. The Conservatives are now openly discussing gerrymandering and undermining Holyrood in order to ensure that they can never be held to account, because they cannot win power in Scotland.

But never mind that it’s not just Scottish devolution that faces an existential threat from the most right wing Conservative government in history, but Scottish democracy itself. Just look at the flags and the corgis and the parades and pageantry, bask in the British nationalist self-congratulation, and dive head first into the delusional denial that is now the UK’s understanding of itself. This is not the confident assured European democracy that Scotland was promised it could be a part of in 2014. This is an insane, cruel and callous place which makes the poor pay so that the energy companies can rake in billions, a sclerotic polity which is well on the way to full blown authoritarianism.

It’s not safe to come out yet, and it won’t be until Scotland escapes this madness.

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