Journeys to Yes, 11, 12, & 13

While I was away a few more of Phantom Power’s excellent videos in his Journey to Yes series have been released.  Help to make some more of these videos which are a wonderful campaigning tool to persuade wavering voters to come to yes – contribute here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/journey-to-yes-film#/

Number 11 – Kathi

Kathi left East Germany when the wall fell to study in Scotland . She now works as a language teacher and lives with her British family in the Scottish Borders. Kathi and her family are just one of many who now face the agonising wait to see what their post-Brexit future in Scotland will be. Kathi discusses ideas of nationalism and her experience of Scotland as an open and international country where anyone can be Scottish if they choose. . After voting No in the first independence referendum, Brexit proved to be the catalyst for Kathi to find out more about the viability of an independent Scotland. Kathi began to distrust her traditional news choices in favour of The National and new media Wings Over Scotland and Bella Caledonia. Kathi has reached the view that Scotland can be a successful country and needs to go in its own direction unhampered by Westminster. Kathi has become increasingly active politically and now runs the twitter operation of Germans for Independence at Germans for ScotRef . In a short time Kathi has built a strong online community of Germans, Europeans and Internationals who have embraced the idea of self-determination for Scotland. EU Nationals’ voice may prove vital in the next referendum. After a year since the Brexit vote, the UK Govt and Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories have provided no guarantees for EU Nationals and the attempt to move the next referendum beyond the EU exit date will deny the voices of 160,000 of our EU friends.
NB The Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Number 12 – Sophie

Sophie Grace-Chappell is a highly regarded Professor of Philosophy at The Open University and lives in Dundee. Professor Grace-Chappell is transgender and has a particular interest in how power structures impact the society we live in. The idea of internationalism, tolerance and a more caring society is fundamental to her philosophy. The promise of a federal UK through which Scotland’s democratic defecit would be addressed encouraged Professor Grace-Chappell to vote No. The series of democratic betrayals since 2014 and outcome of the Brexit vote gradually convinced Sophie that independence is now the correct moral action for Scotland. Professor Grace-Chappell also discusses the rise of the Tory right-wing authoritarian government and disturbing implications for the LGBT community. A safer and better future awaits if Scotland chooses a different path.

New Scottish Media recommended by Sophie Grace-Chappell
Wings Over Scotland https://wingsoverscotland.com/
Wee Ginger Dug https://weegingerdug.wordpress.com/
Craig Murray https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

Sophie Grace-Chappell on Brexit
https://www.scribd.com/document/34901…
Sophie Grace-Chappell on becoming Transgender
https://www.scribd.com/document/34901…

Article on Trans Parenting recommended by Sophie Grace-Chappell
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2…

Scottish LGBT Organisations
Terrance Higgins Trust http://www.tht.org.uk/
Stonewall Scotland http://www.stonewallscotland.org.uk/
Parents Enquiry Scotlandhttp://www.parentsenquiryscotland.org/
LGBT Youth Scotland http://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/
LGBT History Month Scotland http://www.lgbthistory.org.uk/
LGBT Centre for Health and Wellbeing http://www.lgbthealth.org.uk/
Glasgow LGBT Centre http://www.glgbt.org.uk/
Fair For All – LGBT http://www.lgbthealthscotland.org.uk/
Equality Network http://www.equality-network.org/
Diversitay LGBT Group http://www.diversitay.org.uk/

Number 13 – James

James is a pensioner and former paratrooper who lives in Old Meldrum, Aberdeenshire. James voted No to independence and leave in the EU referendum but has completely changed his views on both. James discusses his disillusion with the UK Govt and their inept handling of constitutional issues, a famous relation and deeply unimpressive Scottish Tories and Labour.

Looking at the bigger picture

I’m not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn as far as Scotland is concerned. On topics Caledonian, he channels the knuckle-dragging careerist element of Labour in Scotland and since Scotland’s movement for self-determination isn’t sufficiently glamorous or unambiguously anti-colonialist, it’s the only movement for self-determination he won’t support. If only Scotland had more fields of quinoa hand harvested by sun beaten Quechua speaking peasants who were directly descended from the last Inca emperor then we might get more of a favourable hearing from Jezza. People living in Glasgow sink estates who are descended from dispossessed Gaelic speaking crofters who were thrown off their lands in order to make way for sheep and deer for the rich just don’t cut it for him. The Labour leader’s support for national self-determination movements is directly proportional to how far away they are from Islington. It makes it easier to romanticise them.

This lack of support is not unconnected with the view in Labour that the party needs Scotland in order to secure power in Westminster. Which is yet another instance of Labour’s propensity for putting the party before the people. Labour needs Scotland, but Scotland doesn’t need Labour.

However when it comes to exploring more intelligent and thoughtful responses to terrorist atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn speaks a lot of sense. Let’s be clear – the responsibility for the cruel murders carried out recently in Manchester falls squarely with the perpetrators. They are to blame, they are culpable. They and they alone are criminally responsible. And if there is a God he or she will judge them harshly for it. There is no eternal paradise waiting for the Manchester suicide bomber, only the damnation of the living. A god who is happy to see children murdered isn’t a god, it’s a demon. If we call on Muslim communities to reflect upon the perversion of their religion which a minority supports and which that minority claims justifies violence, we must likewise reflect upon the actions of Western societies. That’s precisely what Jeremy Corbyn was saying.

Corbyn makes a valid and important point. The so-called ‘war on terror’ is clearly not working, and it’s not working because we focus on the means but never the motives. The government and much of the media talk about finds of terrorist material, about arrests of terrorist suspects, about the processes by which terrorists carry out their evil deeds. But they’re less inclined to address what causes these things to happen in the first place. The point that Jeremy Corbyn was making was not to exculpate or excuse those who carry out atrocities.

Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t placing the blame on the British state and removing it from people who plant bombs in public places and blow up children. He was very clear that the bombers and those who supported and supplied them have the responsibility for the attack. He most certainly wasn’t legitimising the planting of a bomb at a concert venue. What he was saying is that we must understand what causes people to take these appalling actions if we want to stop them happening in the future. This is not a complex point. If you want to tackle drug crime, you need to understand what causes people to use drugs. If you want to tackle the crimes of terrorism, you need to understand what causes people to adopt terrorist tactics.

The crucial point is that terrorism doesn’t happen in a vacuum. UK foreign policy is clearly a part of the narrative. Terrorism doesn’t happen simply because there are bad people in the world. Terrorism has a context, and if we want to prevent terrorism we need to understand its whole context, not just those parts of it that make us feel comfortable. And it is an uncomfortable truth that when those who commit or support violent and extreme acts of terrorism based on a perverted version of Islam are questioned about their motives and what caused them to be radicalised in the first place, time after time they cite British foreign policy as a motivating factor. They cite the fact that Britain supports vile dictators and supplies them with arms and weapons. They cite the wars and destruction that the UK has wrought on a succession of countries. They cite the unjustified and unjustifiable war in Iraq which left that country in ruins and which unleashed the demons of IS.

None of this justifies terrorism of course, but if as a society we wish to prevent people from going down the path that leads to a suicide bombing in a crowded arena, we need to understand what causes them to take the first steps, so that they can be stopped from going any further.

Despite that, Corbyn’s nuanced and careful remarks were leapt on by Boris Johnson and Michael Fallon, both of them cheerleaders for supplying arms and weapons to dictators around the world in the name of British exports, and both of whom were quick to accuse Corbyn of legitimising terrorism. Not for the first time Boris Johnson is wrong and self-serving. The person seeking to make political capital out of the deaths of children in Manchester is the vile buffoon who carelessly tosses out racist remarks and serially insults foreign leaders.

Corbyn’s remarks were equally leapt on by Tim Farron, the opportunistic leader of the Lib Dems. Despite his own opposition to the Iraq War which he described as illegal and counterproductive and leading to the failed Iraqi state we see today where terrorist groups flourish, Farron criticised Corbyn for making the exact same points.

Theresa May and her followers have no solutions to terrorism. All they have is the theatre of security gestures, of increased security checks at airports, of armed soldiers on the street, of increased surveillance and the erosion of civil rights. They seek to diminish the symptoms of terrorism but have nothing to say about the causes beyond simplistic nostrums about bad people committing evil deeds. There’s no guarantee that Corbyn’s approach will lead to an answer, to an end to the atrocities and the deaths, both in this country and abroad, but at least he’s attempting to begin to address the underlying causes. That’s something he deserves to be praised for, something he deserves support for. He is correct to point out that the only reason there are armed soldiers on the streets of England is because when she was Home Secretary Theresa May slashed police budgets and numbers. The SNP likewise recognises that there’s a bigger and more complex picture, saying today that the role of the UK and its foreign wars should not be off limits in discussions of terrorism. Complex and difficult problems have complex and difficult solutions. On this, as on so many other issues, the Tories have no answers. They only promise more of the same.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Back home now

I’m home now, back from visiting my significant other in the USA. One of the best things about going abroad is realising that other countries’ politics are just as childish and dysfunctional as the Scottish variety. We’re often accused of parochialism in Scotland, but our news and current affairs concerns are cosmopolitan and outward looking compared to the domestic obsessions of American TV news programmes. If your sole source of information was the American TV news, you’d be forgiven for believing that the rest of the world only exists whenever it’s visited by Donald Trump, or when there is a terrorist outrage that involves white people.

Still, it was nice to spend a couple of weeks in a country where hardly anyone has heard of Ruth Davidson and none of those who have done give a damn. But here we are, back in Scotland and trying to catch up with what’s been happening while I was away. It’s back to the childish dysfunction that passes for grown up political discourse in Scotland.

Before election campaigning was suspended due to the horrific and appalling events in Manchester, the Scottish part of the election campaign was dominated by Kezia Dugdale’s attempts to deflect attention from the Labour councillors in Aberdeen who had gone into coalition with the Conservatives by pointing an accusing finger at something Stu Campbell of Wings over Scotland had said a couple of months ago. Because naturally, Scottish politics in general and the independence campaign in particular is entirely defined by a non-party blogger in Bath and joking insults he’d lobbed a few months ago are far more important than the fact that if you vote Labour, you’ll get the Conservatives, certainly in Aberdeen. It was perhaps the most blatant attempt at issue-dodging since the Mongol hordes blamed their destruction of Central Asia in the Middle Ages on the difficulty in finding fermented mare’s milk in the Samarkand branch of Lidl.

Then there was nursegate, in which a nurse with a Facebook record of blaming the SNP for everything blamed the fact that she had occasionally needed to use a foodbank on Nicola Sturgeon. The story then became how the said nurse was being hounded by cybernats and a new phenomenon – the ultranat. Ultranats are just like cybernats apparently, except that they speak at a pitch higher than can be heard by human ears. This was all detailed in articles in the Express newspaper, an organ with a propensity to CAPITALISE everything, which as everyone knows makes it more true. At least if it’s a BLOW for the SNP.

The same newspaper also carried a piece saying at a TOP ACADEMIC had delivered a SHOCK BLOW to Nicola Sturgeon by predicting that in the event of Scottish independence Scotland would be divided literally, in a geographic sense, and well as metaphorically in the sense beloved by Unionists. That’s divided in the sense that they can no longer spout off in the bowling club about how Nicola Sturgeon is responsible for every bad thing that’s ever happened, up to and including the Mongol invasion of Central Asia in the Middle Ages, without someone voicing disagreement. Jill Stephenson, for it was she, is best known for calling Mhairi Black a slut and for retweeting a Unionist meme which is simultaneously racist, homophobic and derogatory to people with autism. Kezia Dugdale has not so far taken time out of her busy schedule of condemning pro-indy bloggers for a remark that many gay people don’t find homophobic to pass any comment on Jill’s retweeting a meme that is universally regarded as homophobic amongst other offensiveness.

According to the Express, Jill had said that if Scotland votes to become independent then all those areas where there happens to be a Unionist majority will remain with the UK and the country will be partitioned. Because partition has worked out so well on every previous occasion that the British have tried it. Strangely enough, the same people who claim that the parts of Scotland that vote Unionist following a Yes majority in an independence referendum will have the right to remain with the UK are the exact same people who would have scoffed at the notion that those parts of Scotland which voted Yes last time ought to have been allowed to become independent anyway. Otherwise I could be typing this from the Republic of Glasgow, North Lanarkshire, Dundee, Stranraer, Skye, and Arran and would be able to look on the farce of a UK general election with the detached air of a US news correspondent.

Then there’s Theresa May’s U-turning and the introduction of the dementia tax, which saw her polling figures slip before campaiging was suspended. Then she had to hurriedly announce that there would be a “cap” on the amount to be clawed back by the state in order to recoup the costs of social care only she refused to say how much that cap would be. Having been viewing the US news for the past couple of weeks, it’s quite an achievement to make Donald Trump seem consistent and reasonable, but Theresa May has managed it.

What it boils down to is that the state is prepared to foot the bill for caring for people with certain medical conditions, but not for others, only the state won’t – at least not before the public has a chance to vote on the proposal – say how much or what conditions. At the moment it appears that if you are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with cancer then your care will be paid for by the NHS, but if you are unfortunately diagnosed with Alzheimers then you’re paying for it yourself. But once the principle of pay for care is established, it’s only going to be a matter of time before creeping charges are introduced elsewhere too.

But not to worry. The Tories are promising to allow workers to take a year off in unpaid leave in order to care for elderly relatives. They’re touting this like it’s a good thing to fill the gap in social care provision caused by their own policies with unpaid labour. And then having been left without an income, due to the dementia tax these unpaid carers could be left homeless after the person they’re caring for dies. As a former unpaid carer who looked after a dementia sufferer, I know how heartless and uncaring the Tory policy is. It’s bad enough to watch a loved one slowly succumb to the destruction of their personality and self caused by dementia without also worrying that you’ll be left without a roof over your head after their illness has taken its course. But all Theresa May cares about it getting reelected with an absolute majority that will allow her to do as she pleases. It’s almost enough to make me wish I wasn’t back home at all. But I am, so I’d better keep ranting. Ensuring that the Tories receive as few votes as possible is a moral imperative.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

On the sofa with Theresa and Philip

Theresa May isn’t doing debates in her Me Myself I election. She’s carefully kept away from anyone who’s ever met a real life member of the public and who hasn’t had their brains surgically removed and replaced with a Maybotadulationometer. Strong and stable. Coalition of chaos. Bloody difficult woman. She certainly won’t stoop to anything so base and low as being subject to questioning from a hostile media, although to be fair a media that’s hostile to the Conservatives isn’t generally allowed within a 20 mile radius of her Sainted Theresaness. For Theresa has ascended to a level beyond the mere tawdry justification demanded of politicians of a lower calibre. She’s beyond Thatcherism. She’s evolved beyond Blairism. She needs no ism, just an is, and we lesser mortals should consider ourselves truly blessed that such a transcendent being has deigned to walk on the surface of the same planet that the rest of us occupy.

However the problem with robotically intoning soundbites as though they were nuggets of eternal wisdom while taking the mobility cars away from people who can’t walk and demanding that women prove that their third child is a result of rape is that people begin to suspect that you have all the warmth and humanity of a parasitic wasp which has injected its eggs into the paralysed body of a caterpillar so that its councillor larvae can devour it from within. In order to at least put up some sort of facade that she is in fact a human being, the Therezoid conceded to appear on the One Show sofa along with her faithful retainer and hedge fund manager. Because everyone can relate to the cosy domestic lives of a politician with all the compassion of Attila the Handbag with a migraine and her multimillionaire banker of a husband. The two of them painted their daily lives as a picture of cosy domesticity that hasn’t been witnessed since Lucrezia Borgia opened up her dungeons for a glossy spread in Hello magazine and gave a poison of the day recipe for its cookery pages.

There’s give and take in our relationship, said Philip as Theresa glared at Matt Baker and Alex Jones as she wondered about the best place to insert her ovipositor. Theresa gives the soundbites and I take them. It’s hard to be close and cosy when your wife’s idea of whispering sweet nothings in your ear consists of her repeating strong and stable strong and stable until your eardrums start to bleed, but Phil did his best. We’re a strong and stable couple because there’s boy’s jobs and girl’s jobs, said Theresa, helping him out in the least convincing attempt at simpering since Lizzie Bordie was caught with a bloody axe. Boy’s jobs are things like taking out the bins. Girl’s jobs are things like crushing all opposition, destroying democracy, and declaring war on France, Spain, and Germany.

Theresa has wanted to be Prime Minister since she joined the Shadow Cabinet, trilled Philip, glad to be allowed out for once. Theresa gave him an icy look which said that he’d be putting himself out along with the bins. “I don’t recognise that,” she replied when Matt and Alex asked if it was true that she had wanted to be Prime Minister since she was an icicle, because what she did recognise that admitting that she’s been a scheming careerist since she was old enough to say “kick that disabled person’s crutch away and deport that migrant” probably wasn’t the look she was going for on the One Show sofa.

Still, at least the One Show presenters were able to drag a commitment out of Theresa that while we are most certainly going to leave the EU, we won’t be leaving Eurovision. Although I’m not sure how many points we’ll get, said Theresa. The answer to that is of course null points, since the UK was never particularly popular in Europe, and now after Brexit and Theresa’s declaration that the EU is trying to prevent her from ascending to her rightful position as supreme goddess and She Who Must Be Obeyed it’s as popular as a salmonella infested bridie in a fine foods contest.

By now the interview was going like one of those disastrous encounters on that Channel 4 programme First Dates where the attendees clearly can’t abide one another but they know that they’re contractually obliged to get all the way through to the end of the dessert course before they can flee the scene. The leaden silence filled the studio like Ruth Davidson being asked to justify the rape clause at FMQs. Matt and Alex desperately tried to inject some life into the proceedings, but it was clear that the interview had as much life and vivacity as Theresa herself. Her cold dead eyes bored into Matt and Alex as she considered how long it would take her larvae to consume them from within.

Let’s talk about shoes! Theresa likes shoes. And Philip likes ties. And jackets. And spoons. And lampshades. And flock wallpaper. And oh god oh god shoot me now. Here we are in the 21st century and British politics have been reduced to Matt Baker and Alex Jones asking Theresa May about shoes on a programme that’s more commonly used by minor celebrities with a book, a movie, or a new album to tout. All Theresa has to tout is the death of accountability and the demise of democracy.

As an attempt to make a cold and robotic Prime Minister seem a bit more human, the interview was a dismal failure. No one who didn’t already have a fully functioning Maybotadulationometer in their skull was going to think any more kindly of Theresa after this non-interview than before it. As an interview it was as hard hitting as a teddy bear on valium. We learned nothing from it. What we already know is that Theresa May is on course to be the most loathed Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher had her cultish acolytes too. What Thatcher did in Scotland was to transform a country which was pretty evenly divided on the question of devolution, and turn it into a country which overwhelmingly supported a Scottish Parliament. Theresa May will take a Scotland which is pretty evenly divided on the question of independence, and will turn it in a country which will vote for a sovereign Scottish state. That’s going to be May’s legacy, not interviews on the One Show that insult the intelligence of the voters.

This will be my last blog post until May 25th. I’m off to the USA for two weeks’ holiday – a trip which was booked long before Theresa’s Me Myself I election. Sam Miller (aka Macart) will be entertaining you in my absence and I’ll try and stick up a couple of other guest posts.  See yese in a fortnight!

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Unionism’s fatal illness

This weekend, the Sunday Herald reported that a number of those elected as representatives of the Conservatives and Labour in the council elections last week are members of the Orange Order. I’ve been told of a Unionist councillor in North Lanarkshire of a markedly Orange persuasion. There are certainly others. On social media over the weekend, an independence supporter unmasked a newly elected Conservative councillor as the owner of a notorious troll account which had been retweeting extreme right views.

In the weeks during the run up to the council elections there was a series of incidents in which suspicious packages designed to cause fear and alarm were sent to prominent SNP figures. The incidents are almost certainly the actions of a lone nutter, and didn’t receive much in the way of coverage in the media. But you could bet your rent or mortgage on the fact that had it been the other way about and it was Unionist parties receiving similarly suspicious packages seemingly from an independence supporter that it would have become a full scale national emergency and we’d be wall to wall in TV discussions and media reports about the cancer of terrorist violence lurking at the heart of the independence movement.

The response of Unionist supporters to these revelations has been to blame the SNP for the “Ulsterisation” of Scottish politics. It’s a bit like blaming black people for the Ku Klux Klan, or blaming gay people for gay-bashers, or indeed saying that sexual violence and abuse of women happens because the women are asking for it by wearing clothing that doesn’t cover them from head to foot. Although if they did do that then they’d be accused by much the same people of undermining Western civilisation by being overtly Muslim. It’s the common response of abusers the world over, whatever the abuse, blame the victims. It’s not the SNP, the Greens, or any other pro-independence party which is standing candidates who espouse the sectarianism of the Orange Order. It’s not the SNP, the Greens, or any other pro-independence party which is standing candidates who enthusiastically and approvingly retweet far right commentary. It’s not independence supporters who are lending their votes to such people.

This is not a disease of Scottish politics we’re talking about here, this is a disease of Unionism. The Unionist parties need to own up to this disease and to deal with it. They need to admit that they have a problem. They need to root out the bigots and fascists from within their own ranks. There’s not much sign of that happening, the footsoldiers of Unionism prefer to blame the SNP for every ill, including the ills that beset Unionism itself. If the SNP or another pro-independence party stood candidates of the calibre of some of those who were recently elected for Unionist parties, there would be a media outrage quicker than you could say, “There’s that Stephen Daisley on the doorstep with a photographer from the Daily Mail.”

As a case in point, an SNP candidate in Brechin was hounded by the Express newspaper for the crime of retweeting abusive tweets made by a Unionist troll, in an attempt to expose the troll’s behaviour. The newspaper ignored the troll entirely and focussed on the SNP candidate, implying in its hatchet job of a report that the offensive comments had originated with him. Yet actual offense originating from Unionist candidates is ignored and diminished, such as when a Moray publication loftily claimed the moral high ground by refusing to report on extreme right wing tweets sent by a local Conservative candidate.

Unionists blame the misbehaviour of their own parties’ representatives on the SNP. They’ve even coined a word for it, “Ulsterisation”, with the implication that the SNP is turning Scotland into Northern Ireland with all the violence and dislocation that entails. The term Ulsterisation applied to Scottish politics is deeply wrong on many levels. For starters it’s an insult to all those who died or were bereaved in the violence of the Troubles. It’s an insult to the democratic credentials of the Scottish people, and it’s an insult to the commitment to peaceful and legal campaigning that characterises the independence movement.

But it’s also profoundly wrong. The social divisions between nationalists and loyalists in Northern Ireland are tribal. They live in different areas. They go to different schools. They tell one another apart by different religions. They support different teams. A person’s status as a member of one community or the other is largely inherited, passed down through the generations for untold generations. There’s nothing remotely like that in Scotland. There are many Rangers fans who support independence. There are Celtic supporters who want Scotland to remain in the UK. Everyone has family members who have one opinion or another on Scotland’s constitutional divide, and opinions can and do shift.

It’s far easier for a Scottish person who previously supported the Union to shift their opinion and support independence than it is for a person from a Northern Irish loyalist background to come out as a supporter of Irish unity. And it’s equally easy for a person in Scotland to make the opposite political journey. The truth is that the term Ulsterisation is bandied about by Scottish Unionists as a deliberate ploy to discourage the disengaged from engaging with the question of Scotland’s constitutional position in the first place.

Unionism infantilises Scottish politics and Scotland. It turns Scotland into a non-country which isn’t important enough to be taken seriously. It turns Scotland into a region which isn’t capable of taking responsibility for itself. And Unionism infantilises itself too, just like a small child it lacks the moral capacity to take responsibility for its own actions. Unionists can’t admit that it’s Unionism which has a problem with sectarianism, bigotry and right wing extremism, because that means admitting that there is a problem with the contortions of North Britishness, it means admitting that supporting Britain and Britishness is a form of nationalism, and that would never do. But it’s Unionism which has an illness, and it’s a fatal one. The right wing nationalism of Unionism will be its end, and when it finally expires it will take the Union with it.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Every loser wins, at least when it’s a Tory in Scotland

If you wanted a lesson in why so many people are losing faith in the traditional media and instead turning to alternatives, you only need to have a wee look at the headlines in the Scottish press and television news in their over-excited attempts to make out that a party which had come a very distant second had in fact beaten a party which had won 155 more seats. Moreover that second party had based its entire campaign on defeating the larger party, and it failed to make any impression at all on the larger party’s share of the vote or the number of seats it won. Despite all that, the loser won, at least according to the Scottish press.

The whole point of the Single Transferrable Vote electoral system is that parties end up with a number of seats which is a fairly close approximation to their share of the popular vote. In last week’s council elections, the Conservatives ended up with just 22.5% of the available seats, which is a fairly accurate representation of the proportion of the vote which the Tories achieved. The Tories did make significant gains, but they did so at the expense of Labour, another party which had fought its entire campaign on the basis of defeating the SNP. The SNP itself sailed on unaffected by what was nothing more than a realignment of the Unionist vote.

The BBC did its best to paint Ruth Davidson’s Tories as the winners, lauding her party’s gains and insisting repeatedly that the SNP was seven seats down on its total from the previous council elections in 2012. In 2012 the SNP had won 425 council seats, in 2017 they won 431. In most universes where simple arithmetic is practised, which is clearly not a universe which includes Pacific Quay, 431 is a bigger number than 425. But the BBC weren’t comparing the SNP’s 2017 results with the actual results of the 2012 local elections, instead they decided to compare them with a “notional” election result which hadn’t taken place in our universe in 2012, it only took place in Pacific Quay’s special arithmetical universe.

This is a great new tactic which could be employed in lots of inventive ways. The Tories would be notionally the most popular politicians in Scotland if it wasn’t for the fact that over three quarters of the Scottish population wouldn’t pee on a Tory if they were on fire. Glasgow Labour notionally saved all its seats and made substantial gains in Frank McAveety’s head. Wullie Rennie is notionally capable and competent, at least when he’s driving the bus to Kelty. If I had a tank and a tendency to shout No! at every opportunity I’d notionally be Ruth Davidson. And if the BBC was funded by the Scottish public it would notionally not display such an obvious Unionist bias. Oh wait.

The onslaught on truth was so overwhelming that one confused guest on the BBC review of the papers actually thought that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow. Just in case you’re wondering, they didn’t. The Tories in Glasgow got eight seats on Glasgow council, which is eight too many, but it’s still only 9.4% of the total. There are 85 council seats in Glasgow. The fact that a sane and apparently reasonable woman thought, even briefly, that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow council has a great deal to do with the one sided and shamelessly biased way in which this election was reported.

For the interests of clarity, I’m not actually objecting to bias. I am biased. I am shamelessly and openly biased. Bias is what I do. I’m a supporter of Scottish independence, and a campaigner for Scottish independence, and what I write is reflected through that prism. But I make no bones about my bias. My bias is open and honest. I wear my bias on my sleeve, and that means that readers can interpret my words honestly and with clarity. What is insidious, what is objectionable, what is dishonest, is presenting a biased account of a news story and pretending that you are neutral, objective and unbiased.

Quite what anyone who voted Tory in Glasgow thought they were going to achieve by gaining a Conservative councillor is another question. Tell them that you think there ought to be more dog mess collection bins in your local park and they’ll send you a leaflet saying that dog crap sends a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. Tell them that you think there should be more regular litter collections and street cleaning and you’ll get a leaflet saying “Scotland said No and we meant it!” with a picture of a grinning Ruth Davidson sitting on a donkey. That would be the Tory councillor for Shettleston.

More seriously, just what use is a Tory councillor going to be to you if you approach them for help because you’ve had your benefits sanctioned or your mobility car has been taken away or you’re a young person who can’t afford accommodation because you’re no longer entitled to housing benefit. Those things happen because of Conservative policies, policies which assail and assault those very working class communities which returned a handful of Tory councillors. But hey, they have a fleg and can be proud of the royal family. And you can wrap yourself up in that fleg when you’re queueing on the doorstep of the foodbank you have to go to in order to feed your weans even though you’re in full time employment. Working class Scots voting Tory is like voting for amputation because you stubbed your toe.

I’m struggling to remember another election which was reported in such a shameless and nakedly partisan manner. Every loser wins as far as the British press is concerned, at least when that loser is a Scottish Tory. This is a foretaste of what we’re in for should the Tories make some small gains in Scotland in June’s General Election. It’s a sign of the desperation of the British establishment to avoid a second Scottish independence referendum, and the reason they are so desperate to avoid one is because they know that they’ll lose it. The hysteria with which the British press reacted to the Tories in Scotland making gains at the expense of the other main Unionist party is a sign of the weakness of the Unionist cause, and a sign of the strength of the independence movement.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Reasons to be cheerful

The cooncil election results are in, and we’ve learned a few things. Despite the weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth over Tory gains in places like Shettleston, Ferguslie Park and Ravenscraig, these are mostly things which are good for the longer term picture for the independence campaign.  Whatever the Tories and their pals in the press say, we’re still on course for another independence referendum, and we’re still on course to win it.

The first thing to consider is that turn out was shockingly low. It usually is in council elections in Scotland, and this election was overshadowed by the General Election next month. That means that local campaigns were drowned out in the noise of national campaigns – and UK wide campaigns at that. These are factors which would tend to benefit the Unionist result. Wall to wall coverage in the media of the Tories and Labour benefits those parties at the expense of others.

When there’s a very low turn out, there tends to be proportionately more older voters than there are in other elections.  The demographic most likely to go and vote, come hell or high water, are older people and that effect is magnified when overall turn out is low. Older voters are most likely to support Unionist parties, and most likely to vote Tory.  That means the council elections are likely to have seen a disproportionate Conservative vote.  Since these elections are conducted according to a strict proportional system, that means those votes get turned into seats in a way they wouldn’t necessarily in a first past the post election like the Westminster General Election next month.

Yes, yes, I know that not all older voters are dyed in the wool reactionaries who fly a fleg at the slightest provocation. I know that there are many older voters who support independence. So please do not fill up the comments section with an outraged explanation of how you’ve been an independence supporter since the 1960s and not everyone with a bus pass is a fan of Ruth Davidson. But it’s a statistical fact that the older you are, the more likely it is that you’ll be a supporter of the Union and the more likely it is that you’ll vote Conservative.  ‘More likely’ doesn’t mean ‘everyone’.

The low turn out means that the council election results are probably a high water mark for the Tories, and reports that they’ll make serious gains in Scotland in June’s General Election are likely not to come to pass. Sky News is forecasting that, on the basis of these council results, the SNP are likely to win 54 Westminster seats in the General Election.  That’s a very long way short of the 12 Tory gains that some opinion polls were forecasting.  54 SNP seats would be a pretty solid rejection of the Tory single issue no to indyref2 campaign. The same Sky News forecast also predicts a fairly modest number of gains for the Tories in the rest of the UK, giving Theresa May a majority of 48, considerably short of the 100 plus that was previously predicted. The big news from the rest of the UK is the total collapse of the Ukip vote. Although that’s not really surprising since the Conservatives have turned into Ukip. Theresa May is Nigel Farage in a designer trousers clown suit.  The odious Nigel has a legion of faults, but at least he can eat chips convincingly.  It’s just that he can’t do anything else convincingly.  Like win elections.

There are reports that there were an alarming high number of spoiled ballot papers. Not deliberately spoiled, but spoiled because people had marked them with an X instead of numbering their preferences. In Scotland we have different electoral systems for every set of elections. In local elections it’s the Single Transferrable Vote method, in Holyrood elections it’s the D’Hondt method with constituency votes topped up by a regional list vote, in European elections it’s a pure list vote, and in Westminster elections it’s first past the post. No wonder voters are confused. It would be far better if all elections in Scotland were conducted according to the same voting system, but that’s not going to happen until we get independence.

The news reports will of course focus on the gains made by the Tories, especially in wards which are traditionally working class. However it needs to be pointed out that some of these wards contain some well-off districts where there are going to be strong Tory votes. Glasgow Shettleston contains the comfortably middle class district of Mount Vernon.  The Tories in these areas have benefited from the collapse of Labour. But it’s also the case that the Conservatives are hoovering up the diehard loyalist working class vote, the people who will support the Union irrespective of how damaging the Union is to their job prospects, their economic interests, or the well-being of the communities in which they live.

Politics isn’t always rational or logical. We like to think that we make our decisions based on reason and fact, but we don’t.  Humans are an emotional species and very often we make our important decisions based on our feelings, then seek facts after the event to bolster a decision that’s been made on an essentially irrational basis. We all do this, irrespective of our political views.

So a lot of people vote with the heart, and there’s a significant number of people in Scotland whose hearts are red white and blue, and there are a number of those who when you scratch the red white and blue you’ll find orange underneath. But crucially, and this is the good news, they’re a minority. If the Tories are relying on the diehard Unionists in order to save the Union, they’ve already lost. Not only are diehard Unionists a minority, they’re an ageing minority whose numbers are not being replenished. The Tories can appeal to the staunch all they like, but they’ll never staunch support for the Union bleeding away.  It might be distressing to see Tories voted in in places like Shettleston, but the people who voted for them were never likely to vote for independence anyway.  Their votes are not the ones we need to win in order to win independence.

The Tory victories in this week’s council elections in Scotland are the last roar of a toothless and senescent British lion. Despite throwing everything into making this a campaign against another independence referendum, despite completely ignoring all other policies except opposition to a second independence vote, the Tories still could only come a very very distant second. Their gains were almost entirely at the expense of Labour, and they failed to make any significant dent in support for pro-independence parties despite a low turn out favouring a Tory pensioner vote. The SNP stayed more or less where they were and in fact made a few minor gains, while the Greens have also made a few gains, despite the fact that there was a very low turn out which traditionally favours the Conservatives.  It’s the best result in local elections that the SNP have ever had, which is a peculiar definition of the defeat that the Unionist press will be trying to spin this as.

The Tories threw everything they had into making this a referendum on a referendum, they’ve spent a lot of money, and though they won some local battles by taking votes from other Unionist parties, they still failed to win the wider war. All they’ve done is to position themselves as the party of the Union come what May. But we already knew that. If projections from these council elections bear up in June, the Tories will fail to make any great breakthroughs in Scotland in the General Election, and their single minded campaign to attract votes on the basis of opposing another independence referendum will have failed. The independence movement cannot be complacent, we’ve got a lot of work to do, we need to do everything we can to get the vote out in June, but it’s looking like another SNP landslide in the General Election.

The realignment of Scottish politics is continuing. Labour have declined into irrelevance, the Lib Dem resurgence failed dismally to resurge, and the choice now facing Scotland is between an outward looking internationalist social democratic Scotland, and an inward looking nostalgic right wing Tory Britain. That’s going to be a much easier fight for the independence movement to win than a fight against a Unionist campaign that’s headed by the Labour party and its pretence that there’s a progressive veneer on the reactionary British state. That’s a campaign that we can win, and that we will win. These council elections give the independence movement every reason to be cheerful.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016