The shape of futures past

There’s a very peculiar trope which has developed amongst opponents of independence of late. It was seen in an article in the Daily Mail, or to give it its proper title the Daily [spit] Mail, by one Stephen Daisley. It was seen on Tuesday of this week in an article in the Herald by Andrew McKie. That trope is whatiffery. They compare the real universe in which we are actually living with an entirely imaginary universe in which Scotland voted for independence in 2014 in order to say that things are either not so bad just now, or would have been far worse in their Mirror Universe of sub-Star Trek fictioneering.

Just imagine all the horrors that would have happened if Scotland had voted Yes in 2014, they write. The arse would have fallen out of the oil price, and England would have been forced by the EU to put up barbed wire all the way from Gretna to Berwick. We’d all have been living in hovels and fighting for the last remaining stockpiles of Pot Noodle. Aren’t we so lucky to have voted No eh, where we’re living in a UK where the government is making contingency plans to stockpile Pot Noodles and medicines and to deal with the massive disruption that will be caused because they’re creating a hard border with the EU.

The problem with this conceit is that we are actually living in a universe in which Scotland voted No in 2014, and the political mess and possible economic disaster which we are facing are a direct consequence of that No vote. They are trying to distract us with imaginary horrors which didn’t happen when we’re far too worried about the horrors that may be on the horizon. Horrors which are a consequence of what really did happen. Horrors which are happening because Scotland voted No.

It is a sign of just how desperate British nationalism has become that it now has to resort to imaginary arguments against independence. The truth is that no one knows what would have happened in Scotland if the country had voted to become independent again back in 2014, because it didn’t actually happen. A Scotland that voted for independence in 2014 is and shall always remain entirely hypothetical. The imaginary developments of a fervent supporter of independence dreaming of the Scottish paradise that would have welcomed us if we’d voted Yes in 2014 are equally as valid in this context as the doomscape imagined by British nationalists. Funnily enough, that sort of article doesn’t make it into the pages of the Scottish press, but it’s equally fictional and equally accurate as any of the dystopian futures past that opponents of independence pen, and which they get published in the anti-independence press which dominates the Scottish media landscape.

There is a qualitative difference between the backwards looking projections of catastrophe in the Mirror Universe of British nationalists and forecasts of doom to come. That difference is that the scenarios of the whatifferies didn’t really happen. They are set in a past that did not take place. We can state with 100% confidence that they are as imaginary as those alternate histories in which Britain lost WW2 and was occupied by the Nazis, or there was an invasion of alien lizards which took over the government. Oh wait. That last one really did happen. Back in the real world, this one we’re all living in right here and right now, these fervent imaginations are not anything that we need to worry about in our real lives.

On the other hand warnings of future problems deal with matters which by definition have not yet happened. Like Schrodinger’s Cat they remain potentialities no matter how outlandish or ridiculous they are, which is why the likes of Gordie Broon is so fond of them. However as far as the British nationalist Mirror Universe of a dystopian Scotland which voted Yes in 2014 is concerned, the cat is not only most definitely dead, it has been skinned so that Boris Johnson can use it as a hat and what is left of its corpse has been flattened and squashed by the Brexit bus.

What is it about British nationalists. Sometimes you just feel like sighing and telling them in an exasperated tone that a pissed off teenager would aspire to, “Look. You won. Get over it.” They need to own their victory in 2014, and that means that they need to take responsibility for everything that has happened ever since. They can’t escape this reality or their responsibilities by resorting to imaginary scenarios in which something else entirely happened, because that something else didn’t happen. We didn’t vote Yes in 2014. It is quite incredible that British nationalist journalists need to be reminded of that fact.

The truth is that Scotland was promised security and stability. It was promised EU membership. It was promised safety and peace of mind. Those were the key offers of the Better Together campaign in 2014 which were promoted by those same commentators who are now resorting to fantasy scenarios. Yet a Scotland that’s not actually been involved in a world war has never been less secure, less stable. It has never had less safety or peace of mind. And it’s all the fault of that British government and British establishment that told us that we could only have those things if we trusted in them.

All the problems, all the issues, all the difficulties, all the uncertainties, all the fear and worry that Scotland is currently experiencing don’t go away just because British nationalist journalists dream up a fantasy in which something else entirely happened. They’re happening because Scotland voted No in 2014. Proponents of that No vote need to own up to that, to own it, and to deal with it.

Opponents of independence like to try and scare us with stories of what might have happened if we’d voted Yes in 2014 because they have no answers to the British nationalist shambles which Scotland currently finds itself in. Those of us who support Scottish independence have an escape route from the mess that British nationalism has created. Where’s theirs? We’re not served by musings about the shape of futures past. It’s the future before us which concerns us.


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Don’t call us, Jeremy

Jeremy Corbyn is on a four day visit to Scotland in order to turn round the party’s ailing fortunes. He’ll be here for a few days, he’ll have a few meetings, and then he’ll return to London and the visit will be hailed as a huge success, and nothing will actually have changed. This is precisely what happened the last time that Jeremy Corbyn came to Scotland in order to turn around the Labour party’s ailing fortunes in Scotland. On that occasion Jeremy held some public rallies which were attended by fewer people than turn up to meet my dug at independence events. That’s not hyperbole either. It’s a statement of arithmetical fact. When a mongrel dug rescued from a canal side in Spain is mair popular in Scotland than Jeremy Corbyn, that’s a sign that the Labour party in Scotland has fallen very far from the grace it enjoyed in this country throughout the latter half of the 20th century.

The Labour leader is in this country to promise us an industrial renaissance. He’s promising a “jobs first Brexit”, which is a bit like promising a healthy dose of the flu. Quite how he’s going to achieve his promised industrial renaissance while simultaneously supporting Brexit remains to be seen, and probably never will be seen seeing as how he has only the slimmest of chances of becoming the PM. Let’s get real here. You’d be hard pressed to imagine a Conservative government that was any worse. The British government currently consists of the most incomptent, the most inept, the most rampantly selfish and self-serving bunch of talentless Tory hacks who have ever stolen a crust from the mouth of a disabled person, and yet Labour still can’t achieve a commanding majority over them in the opinion polls. That’s like telling us that Jeremy is the Usain Bolt of British politics, and he’s still losing a race against an overweight sixty year old sixty a day smoker who’d broken his leg after he fell down the stairs when he was blootered.

If there was to be any real prospect of a Labour government, Jeremy ought to have a double digit lead in the polls at this point in the electoral cycle, because sitting governments always make up some ground during election campaigns. And the Tories are almost certain to do so in the next Westminster General Election, because when that does happen, it will be because Theresa May’s teetering government has finally tripped over itself like a drunkard on Strictly and the party will be led into the election by a shiny new leader who’s enjoying a honeymoon period with the media. Even, may the gods help us, if it’s Boris Johnson.

Yes yes. Jeremy’s supporters will, accurately, point out that he has been the subject of a concerted campaign of vilification and hatred from a right wing media. Jeremy is the victim of a biased and highly partisan media which despises him. The message of the Jezgasm doesn’t get a fair hearing in the press but his critics are given megaphones. Complaints about him are imagined, or invented, or are magnified and blown up out of all proportion. He’s suffering from the effects of a highly organised hate campaign which is being orchestrated by a British establishment which is terrified of him. His supporters may claim that the accusations of anti-semitism that are levelled against him are unfair and unfounded.

To which we supporters of Scottish independence can only say, welcome to our world. For years now we’ve been accused of being anti-English racists. For years now we’ve been accused of being abusive and vile trolls who infest social media. For years now we’ve struggled to get our message out into a mainstream media that thinks that supporters of Scottish independence are the devil in tartan. This has been our reality for years, and you’ve only just noticed now that it’s happening to you. Actually, you’ve only just noticed that it’s happened to you, you still haven’t noticed that it’s been happening to others. And we have reason to believe that you don’t care.

So forgive us if we’re unsurprised and distinctly underwhelmed and more than a little bit lacking in the tea and sympathy department. We have experienced everything that you’re complaining about, and more, for years longer than you have, yet the SNP has still managed to trounce all its opponents. We took the cause of independence from 28% support to 45% in the face of the most vicious campaign of vilification that the UK has ever seen.  Then we went on to destroy the other parties in elections when the media hysteria was if anything even worse.  We are still riding high in the polls, and the campaign against us has never ceased.  We have proven that you can still win votes in the teeth of a media campaign of vilification. So your problem, Labour, is clearly something else. And that problem is one of your own manufacture.

We’re united. We’re consistent.  We don’t dissemble.  We don’t hide what we want.  We actually oppose the Tories.

Maybe Labour could do a lot better. Maybe if your leader showed the same respect to the campaign for Scottish self-determination as he does to every other campaign for self-determination on the face of this Earth. Maybe if your party actually opposed the Tories in deed as well as word. Maybe if your leadership wasn’t two faced on Brexit, trying to appeal to Remainers but practising Leave. Maybe if Labour representatives spent more time and energy on fighting the Tories and less on fighting one another. Maybe if Labour really opposed Trident. Maybe if Labour in Scotland wasn’t represented by the same tired old faces on the telly, the Jackie Baillies and the James Kellys, banging on about SNPbad just like they’ve done for over a decade. Then maybe we’d believe that Labour had changed.

Jeremy’s visit to Scotland will change nothing. The problems faced by Labour in Scotland are structural and systemic. Labour wants to be the party that’s opposed to independence, when we already have the Conservatives for that. Labour wants to be the party of social justice and social democracy, when we already have the SNP and the Greens for that. Labour’s leadership is trying to appeal to an overwhelmingly anti-Brexit country while it supports Brexit. Labour offers Scotland nothing, but then Scotland has learned that it can expect nothing from Labour. There’s only one way in which the Labour party can enjoy a renaissance which will allow it to yet again become the party of government. That’s in an independent Scotland. Don’t call us, Jeremy. We’ll call you.


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A tale of two rallies

There were two political rallies in Scotland on Saturday. There was a pro-independence rally in Dundee which attracted 16,000 participants and was one of the biggest demonstrations that the city had ever seen. Then there was a rally in Edinburgh calling for a second EU referendum, which attracted a few hundred people, fewer than are attending some of the Festival events currently going on in the city. Guess which one of them was reported more prominently in the media?

The Guardian carried a report about the Edinburgh event on its front page. The Dundee rally wasn’t even mentioned. In yesterday’s Herald the Edinburgh event was the leading story on the paper’s website for some time, it took until Sunday for the Dundee rally to get a mention, and then it came below a story about that favourite trope of the Labour party, problems with the NHS. But we did get an opinion piece from Iain McWhirter claiming that hopes of an Indyref2 are fading, which must come as a surprise to just about every SNP member I’ve ever met. The Scotsman, which calls itself “the paper which knows Scotland”, carried a story about the Edinburgh rally focussing on former Lib Dem leader Menzies Campbell’s call on the SNP to back a second EU referendum. I couldn’t find any coverage of the Dundee rally on the Scotsman’s website . Although to be fair the paper’s website is such a mess of adverts and automatically loading videos that it’s pretty difficult to find anything on it at all.

There’s a deep hypocrisy that runs through the anti-independence Scottish media and many prominent opponents of independence. They’re determined to build political pressure to bring about a second referendum on the EU, while at the same time they are resolute, indeed staunch, in their opposition to a second referendum on Scottish independence. It seems that that once in a generation thing only applies selectively. Menzies Campbell campaigns for a second EU referendum while refusing to countenance a second Scottish independence referendum and is seemingly blind to the hypocrisy. But then he’s a Lib Dem, and hypocrisy is very much their thing. Just ask any student or voters in Orkney and Shetland.

As a supporter of a second Scottish independence referendum it would of course be hypocritical not to support a second referendum on EU membership. Both those referendums were won by campaigns which based their pitch on claims which were never going to be realised, and all too often on outright lies. In both cases, the electorate was sold a pup. If this was a commercial transaction, we could sue under the Trades Descriptions Act.

Better Together promised that if Scotland voted No then it would remain a part of the EU, that Scotland would be an equal partner in a family of nations, that devolution would be strengthened and entrenched and that no changes would be made to the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. We were promised a bonanza of jobs and investment. None of that turned out to be true.  The campaign was won with the BBC being turned into the propaganda arm of the British state, and an overwhelmingly anti-independence media which systematically sidelined pro-independence arguments.  There was no level playing field.

The Leave campaigns promised that the UK could leave the EU and strike the easiest deal in the history of deals, that leaving the EU would unleash millions a week to spend on the NHS, that British citizens, companies, goods, and services could continue to enjoy the same ease of access to the EU that they do with the UK a member of the EU. None of that turned out to be true.  The campaign was won by dark money and a leave campaign which broke electoral law.  There was no level playing field.

So yes, of course there ought to be a second EU referendum, and there ought to be a second Scottish independence referendum too. Democracy is not an event, it’s an ongoing process. Democracy is like a growing living tree. It needs to flourish. It needs to spread its roots. It needs to grow. Opponents of revisiting those votes want to cut down the tree and spray it in varnish, then tell us to stop complaining because we’ve still got a tree.

However as an independence supporter, I am not going to get behind a UK wide campaign for a second EU referendum, not until such time as that campaign recognises that what is sauce for the British goose is sauce for the Scottish gander. As supporters of Scottish independence we can offer all our sympathies and good wishes to those campaiging for a second EU referendum. But that doesn’t mean that we should give up on our own campaign in order to support theirs, certainly not while our support doesn’t come with a quid pro quo from the People’s Vote campaign, and an explicit recognition and promise from them that the question of Scottish independence needs to be revisited too.

Until that happens, and there’s no sign that it’s going to, I’m going to continue to concentrate my energies and efforts on ensuring that Scotland gets a Scottish vote on Scottish terms. There is no political advantage for Scottish independence supporters to defer our demands and political goals, and to subsume them in a UK wide campaign which will not answer our own demands. Yet again, Scotland is subject to demands from the English left and liberals to subordinate Scotland’s interests to those of England. We’ve seen where that one leads.

However what makes it worse is that there is not the slightest recognition from those leading the UK wide People’s Vote campaign that Scotland voted to remain in the UK in 2014 under false premises. It’s not simply that there are no apologies from them, it’s that there isn’t even the vaguest recognition from them that there is anything to apologise for. Instead we get the arrogant assumption from the leading lights of Britishness that the sole political purpose of Scotland is to rescue England from its own mistakes, that the job of Scotland is to clean up England’s political mess, and to do so without any recognition from that same British political establishment of Scotland’s needs or concerns.  If we do get behind their EU referendum and bring about the result that they want, those same people who campaigned against Scottish independence in 2014 will just go back to telling us that we need to vote No or we’re out of the EU.  Well frankly, screw that.

However it’s also a practical question of political realities. The reality is that it’s far more productive for supporters of Scottish independence to revisit the question of EU membership via an independence referendum. That means that Scotland can decide for itself whether it wishes to remain a part of the EU, and if it’s going to leave, on what terms, or if it’s going to be a member, then on what terms. There is a majority in the Scottish Parliament for an independence referendum, which means that the political will exists in order to bring one about. There’s a mass grassroots movement with the support of many thousands and local groups in every corner of the country which exists to campaign in it when it does come about.  A yes vote in that referendum will lead to a fundamental restructuring and realignment of Scottish politics.

That’s not the case with a second EU referendum. Even in Edinburgh, in the most pro-EU city in the entire UK, even with speakers who have UK-wide prominence in the media, the pro-EU rally struggled to attract more than a few hundred people. There’s no grassroots mass membership campaign on the ground to campaign in any vote that comes about. The leaderships of both the Conservatives and Labour remain implaccably opposed to another EU referendum. Even if a referendum did take place it’s not going to solve the divisions over Europe which plague British politics.  It will still be the same old story.

Campaigning for a second EU referendum may very well be the political equivalent of banging one’s head off a brick wall. On the other hand, campaigning for a second Scottish independence referendum is chapping on an unlocked door, a door which opens to a very different and better country.


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Poop scooping Ross Thomson

If Ross Thomson didn’t exist, no one, absolutely no one, would feel the need to invent him. No one would mourn his absence. No one would lament his loss. Without Ross, no one would feel there was an aching vacuum in this country’s public life, even though Ross is Scotland’s leading proponent of political vacuums, and indeed vacuum cleaners.

Now don’t get me wrong, Aberdeen is a fine city. Its citizens are fine people. But see if you voted for Ross Thomson, you voted for a muppet. An actual muppet. Not a metaphorical or rhetorical muppet. You voted for an actual brainless cloth puppet with a hand up its arse and an expression on its face that is the definition given in the Dictionary of the Scots Language for glaikit. Glaikit: adj. See Ross Thomson’s face. Origin obscure, but not as obscure as Ross Thomson’s positive contribution to Scottish politics.

If you voted for Ross Thomson you voted for your city to be serially embarrassed on the public stage. You voted for a succession of normal human beings to put their heads in their hands while sighing, “Oh dear God. Please make him stop.” You voted for a man who has become a byword for inanity. What’s wrong with the Tory party? you might ask. The answer comes – it’s just pure rossthomson. To which the only possible response is – aye well, you have a point there. Ross even makes Murdo Fraser seem balanced, sane, and the utterer of well thought out and intelligent comments. Just ponder that one for a wee second. And then weep. If you voted for Ross Thomson, this is your fault. Everyone in Scotland who isn’t a Tory voter, and a considerable number of those who are, is looking at you accusingly. You did this. This is your fault.

It wasn’t long ago that Ross was declaiming that the great achievement of Brexit will be to unleash vacuum cleaners that really suck on a public that’s aching for carpet cleanliness. It was even more recently that he was traipsing off to Japan where he witnessed a series of Japanese officials looking at one another in horror and then yelling at their subordinates 私は誰がこのバカを招いているのか知りたい! Watashi wa dare ga kono baka o maneite iru no ka shiritai! – which means “I want to know who is responsible for inviting this moron!”

But Ross just keeps on giving.  He has now inflicted yet another rossthomsonism on an undeserving Scottish public. Ross’s latest contribution to Scottish public discourse is to let us all know that having a dog is just like having a child, and then going on to complain about the homophobic abuse he receives. As a gay dad, I’d just like to thank Ross for letting heterosexual people think that dogs are gay people’s substitutes for having children. Way to go with smashing stereotypes there Ross. I’d just like to point out to Ross that the overwhelming majority of the abuse he receives is because he’s an idiot, and it has nothing to do with his sexuality. Besides, it’s not abuse to point out to an idiot that they’re being an idiot. That’s a public service.

Gay people don’t need dogs in order to experience having children. We can have children for that. And as an aside, some of us gay men were having kids with lesbians over two decades ago. Just putting that out there to those who think that Ross’s boss’s pregnancy is some sort of groundbreaking thing.

Anyway, as the guardian of one of Scotland’s most prominent pooches, and the father of two actual human beings, I can assure Ross that the two experiences are not remotely the same at all. You can lock a dog in a bedroom with no internet access or television and just a bowl of water for company, and when you come back hours later they’re thrilled to see you. You can’t say that about a teenager. You can trust your dog. You definitely can’t trust your child. I have never met a dog who decided that it was a good idea to put a metal container in a microwave oven because they wanted indoor fireworks. Dogs don’t keep asking you for money and are perfectly happy with an old sock and a cardboard box to play with. Also, if your child has the urge to stick its nose in the groins of strangers, this is definitely a sign that something has gone seriously wrong with your parenting, and social services need to be called.

There are other significant differences. When you fart, you can blame it on the dog. Try that with a child and they’re liable to object. Neither can you allow your child do a shite on the doorstep of your local Conservative MP, not even if you come armed with a small plastic bag and an expression of disgust. Although it’s perfectly fine for that Conservative MP to shit all over the rest of us. Public defecation isn’t something that is to be encouraged in children, although it’s perfectly normal if you’re a Tory MP.

By the way, it’s the very proud boast of Ginger the Dug that one time when we were doing a public talk in Galloway, the dug with his impeccable nose for Scottish politics, and after a long walk through places where he could have done a crap without anyone noticing, decided that he was going to do a huge shit on the office doorstep of Alister Jack, the local Tory MP. Despite being strongly tempted to leave it there, I did clean it up. Was a close call though. He has also peed on Oliver Mundell’s office in Lockerbie, and the Conservative offices in Crieff. None of this was due to any encouragement on my part. The dug is just blessed with an uncanny and instinctive sense of what is appropriate. Again, very much unlike a child.

Who knew that the dug would have so much in common with Ross Thomson, both have left the Tory party covered in crap. Ruth Davidson ought to arrange for someone to follow Ross around with a poop scoop. But then that would set a precedent and she’d have to arrange one for loads of Tory politicians and candidates.

But the biggest difference of all between children and dogs is that ultimately, we are teaching our children the skills that they need in order to leave us. Your dog will always be with you. Thankfully, Ross Thomson won’t. Come the next election, we can dispose of him like we dispose of a doggy poo bag.

I’ll be at the iScot stall at the Dundee rally tomorrow. If you’re there, come and say hello.


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

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

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

British nationalism’s problem with extremism

The recent reports about the conviction of a right wing extremist in Edinburgh for making a bomb made for, ahem, interesting reading. Nazi thug Peter Morgan was sentenced to 12 years for making a bomb. Most of the reports in the press pictured him holding up a saltire together with a sign reading “White Pride”. Most of the reports mentioned that he had connections to the Scottish Defence League. Some of the reports, including those on the STV news site and the Edinburgh Evening News, found time and space to mention that Morgan considered himself a left leaning person and that he had told police officers that he had voted SNP in the past.

Any reasonable person who is not particularly well informed about the positions of far right grupiscules in Scotland, which is most of us, would read these reports and be left with the impression that Morgan might well have been a Scottish nationalist. The reports themselves didn’t lie. They were not “fake news”. They were accurate insofar as the facts that they did report are true and correct. They just succeeded in giving a misleading impression by not mentioning some other important facts, facts which reveal the truth about Morgan, a truth that’s uncomfortable for opponents of independence.

What was omitted from just about every report was that Morgan was well known amongst pro-independence campaigners as being one of those far right British nationalists who protested against pro-independence marches and rallies, where he was more typically to be found waving a Union fleg and hurling abuse at pro-indy campaigners. What none of the reports mentioned was that the Scottish Defence League has close connections to the far more numerous and better known English Defence League, and that both organisations share many members with the British National Party and its successors. The Scottish Defence League is most decidedly not a pro-independence organisation. There are plenty of other photos of Morgan circulating on social media which show him clutching a British flag, but it’s the one with the saltire and the racist sign that the newspapers chose to go with.

The reports in the press also forgot to mention that Morgan has a history of previous arrests for assaults on independence supporters. There are reports on social media that in September 2012 Morgan was arrested for assaulting an independence supporter at a pro-independence event in Edinburgh.

In other words, despite all the implications to the contrary in the British nationalist press, Morgan is a right wing extremist opponent of Scottish independence, and yet another exponent of far right British nationalism. More alarmingly, he’s a far right extremist British nationalist with a history of violence against independence supporters who has just been convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison for making a bomb. This nasty little man isn’t the responsibility of the independence movement or Scottish nationalism, he’s very much a creature of Britishness. Morgan is an extreme symptom of the sickness of British nationalism in Scotland, a sickness which most commonly manifests itself in sectarianism and in the casual contempt which permits opponents of independence feel free to characterise independence supporters as anti-English racists.

You can be certain that if Morgan had indeed been a supporter of Scottish independence, that this fact would have been the most important piece of information in the news reports. It would have been the headline. It would have been followed up by anguished editorials in the anti-independence press about the cancer that lurks at the heart of the Scottish independence movement, and there would be repeated calls on Nicola Sturgeon to do something about it. It would have been headline news in all the papers and the leading story in the broadcast news. Yet following Morgan’s conviction and sentencing there was a blink and you’d miss it mention on the BBC. There was no explicit identification of him as a British nationalist, as an opponent of independence, or as a supporter of the British state.  Yet he is all these things.

There are no demands from the media for the mainstream British nationalist parties to condemn Morgan following his conviction. He is a convicted terrorist who has nothing to do with those parties, and they feel no need to condemn him or disassociate themselves from him. There is no need for them to distance themselves from a convicted terrorist. His politics of hate, of violence, and racism are not the politics of the mainstream parties. However that’s not what would have happened if the situation had been reversed, and Morgan had been an independence supporting terrorist. The media howls of outrage would be sustained. The actions and beliefs of this far right wing bomb maker would have been explicitly linked to the independence movement as a whole and to the Scottish Government.

What’s really distasteful about the media’s reporting of Morgan’s conviction is the attempt that it has made to disguise his true allegiences and to imply to the unwary that he wasn’t really a British nationalist extremist, that his terrorist politics are Scottish rather than British. What’s really distasteful is that yet again it illustrates the double standards of the Scottish media. Earlier this week Wings Over Scotland noted that the catastrophic collapse in newspaper sales in Scotland was far worse than the drop off in sales in other countries. This is most likely not unconnected to the fact that the Scottish media pursues a highly partisan agenda which is not shared by at least half of the population of Scotland.

British nationalism in Scotland has a problem with extremism and intolerance. We see it in sectarian parades. We see it in the succession of Conservative politicians who have been exposed as having racist, xenophobic, sectarian, or homophobic views. We see it in the far right Holocaust denier who protests against independence rallies.  Now we see it in people who have been convicted of terrorist offences. As long as the anti-independence media continues to dissemble, hide, and disguise the sickness that lurks at the heart of British nationalism in Scotland, that sickness will never be tackled, it will never be cured.

Even worse, British nationalism in Scotland and its apologists still pretend to themselves that their opposition to Scottish independence means that they’re not nationalists at all. As long as they continue to delude themselves in this manner, the evil of far right extremist British nationalism will never be dealt with and removed from our society. The first step to dealing with a problem is to admit that you have a problem. It’s high time that supporters of the British state in Scotland own up to British nationalism’s problem with extremism.


 

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The real divisions

The British nationalist press is very keen to press the SNP is divided meme. Perhaps if they keep saying it then it will become true. It’s a bit like those people who repeatedly warn that the end of the world is nigh, only for the forecast dates of doomaggedon to come and go as often as Gordie Broon intervenes in the Scottish constitutional debate for the very first time. It wasn’t even nighish. However the advantage of these claims is that if you just keep banging on at them, eventually one of them might turn out to hit the mark, and then you can boast to all the other press guys down the pub about how prescient you were. Which to be honest isn’t much to look forward to after the asteroid has struck and destroyed civilisation as we know it, but opponents of independence have to take what small pleasures they can find, because British nationalism in Scotland is an exercise in miserabilism.

Today it was the Herald’s turn at trying to be nighish, perhaps because it’s National Tell a Joke Day. The paper carried a report that a Facebook group which hardly anyone has heard of plans to organise a wee demo outside the SNP conference. The demo is called Use The Mandate, and has the aim of showing that there is support for the SNP leadership to make use of its existing mandate for an independence referendum. Since the SNP hasn’t actually said that it’s not going to use this mandate, a demo expressing support for it doesn’t really count as a division in the independence movement. Until such time as Nicola Sturgeon stands up and says that she’s not going to use the mandate, calling on her to use it isn’t a sign of division.

It still wouldn’t count as a division within the SNP even if those who are organising the demo were indeed members of the SNP, which is by no means certain. The Facebook group responsible, Scotland Land of the Brave Saor Alba, isn’t affiliated with, part of, or answerable to, the SNP. But hey, the independence movement is divided. And if the yes movement is divided, that’s got to be embarrassing for the SNP. It said so in the paper, which used the story to offer space to a series of British nationalist politicians to attack the SNP for divisions which exist purely in their own imaginations. Yet again we got the oft-repeated meme from the British nationalist press that the SNP and the wider independence movement are the same thing.

The Herald certainly isn’t reporting on this development because it’s keen to encourage a diversity of views and opinions to further enrich the Yes movement. Reporting that a Facebook page which hardly anyone has heard of plans to organise a demo isn’t so much a sign of divisions within the independence movement as it’s a sign that the anti-independence media is hard pressed to find any sticks with which to beat the SNP, what with it being the holidays and everything, and the usual rent-a-quote British nationalist suspects are off sunning themselves on European beaches before Brexit happens and the arse falls out of the pound.

The thing is, of course the independence movement is divided. It’s divided into hundreds of groups, into thousands of ideas, into millions of possibilities. That’s ever so slightly the point of a grassroots movement. Especially a Scottish one. Put two Scottish people in a room and immediately you’ve got three arguments. The fact that we don’t all agree about everything is the whole idea. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

The independence movement isn’t a political party with internal party discipline that we’re talking about here. There hasn’t been a single idea, proposal, or action within the independence movement that some other part of the independence movement hasn’t got all sniffy about. It doesn’t matter what the pro-independence intitiative is, but someone in the independence movement is going to complain that there were too many saltires, that there weren’t enough saltires, that the saltires were being waved with a lack of gender balance, that the SNP can do no wrong, that everything the SNP does is wrong.

There are in fact only three things that the independence movement is able to agree on. First is that Scotland should become an independent country, secondly that the gap between Ruth Davidson’s hype and her actual political substance is wider and emptier than the vacuum between Ross The Hoover Thomson’s ears, and thirdly that British nationalist trolls on social media get a free pass from a media that’s always looking for the nasty things said by independence supporters. With regards to absolutely verything else, the independence movement has a diverse range of opinions. And that is precisely how it should be.

There are some very real, some very deep, and some very damaging divisions within Scottish politics, and they’re within the British nationalist parties. The Tories are hopelessly divided on Brexit. Ruth’s wee band of MPs who she assured us were going to be answerable to her and who were going to vote in a bloc to defend Scotland’s interests have turned out to be as useless as David Mundell at a cabinet meeting. Many of them have come out in favour of the hard Brexit that Ruth told us she opposed. And she can do the square root of hee-haw about it. The Conservatives have absolutely nothing positive to offer Scotland, all they can do is to bang on repeatedly about not wanting another referendum, because there is no positive case for the Union. There isn’t even a Union to make a positive case for, only a unitary state in which Scotland has no voice.

Meanwhile Labour is hopelessly divided, well, about everything. They are so ineffective at standing up for the interests of Scotland that no one knows who the official shadow Secretary of State for Scotland is. Not even the Labour party knows who Lesley Laird is. Most of the party in Scotland opposes the Brexit that its leader supports, and wrings its hands helplessly while Scotland is sacrificed on the altar of a deeply regressive xenophobic British nationalist Brexit. Labour is more worried about doing anything that might inadvertently boost support for independence than about the harm and damage that the Tories are wreaking.

An opinion poll this week suggests that if there were a Westminster General Election tomorrow, Labour would lose all but one of its Scottish seats to the SNP, and the Tories would also suffer losses. The political divisions that concern voters in Scotland aren’t those within the SNP, they’re not those within the independence movement, no matter how much our anti-independence media tries to hype them up. The divisions that concern people in Scotland are the yawning cracks in the British establishment which threaten to destroy the British state and its public services. The yes movement and the SNP are not divided in our belief that we need to escape that crumbling edifice before it comes crashing down.


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Creating some certainty of our own

There’s been some speculation in the press recently that the SNP is heading for a rupture in its hitherto impressive party unity over the subject of the timing of the next referendum. There the Tories and Labour are tearing themselves apart with all the vicious fervour of starving lions in the Colosseum, or worse but with less botox, fewer tanning beds, and lower IQs, like contestants on Love Island, while Thatessempee sits on munching on the popcorn and biding its time.

It must be very frustrating for your average fleg waver who isn’t nationalist at all because they’re British. It means they’re reduced to finding carping little complaints which can’t compete with the magnitude of the flustercuckery emanating from the main two British parties. It’s a bit like trying to distract onlookers watching in horror as Rome burns down by telling them that they really need to be concerned about the sparkler that you’re waving in their faces.

Actually, it’s far worse than that, because in this case Rome is being burned down by the people who are supposed to be the Roman Fire Brigade, only they’re more interested in accusing their colleagues of bigotry than they are in dealing with the fires and tackling the arsonists in their own ranks. The future for the UK is to be left in the smoking ruins of a wrecked city, covered in ash, accusing people who are supposed to be on the same side as you of hating the Gauls and the Etruscans and debating the acceptability of not wearing a toga in public places while it dreams of past glories. But hey, at least we’ll have blue passports. It’s just a pity that no one will have any money to travel anywhere, we’ll need a visa to cross from Dover to Calais and will have to queue for hours at passport control, while the pound will be trading on a par with the Turkish lira. There’s your global Britain for you.

Compared to all of this, the SNP is a paragon of unity and focus on its purpose. I speak to SNP local branches all over the country, as well as to local Yes groups. There is a growing desire for some concrete development regarding a second independence vote amongst party members and the broader independence movement. There is a sense that matters are coming to a head and a palpable feeling that we are living in the final months of the UK. There is a growing willingness to campaign and to get organised irrespective of what announcements are made at the SNP party conference, and there is a mounting desire for something from the SNP leadership that signals the official start of a campaign. There is some frustration that the party leadership is too cautious and timid, but there remains a willingness to give Nicola Sturgeon the benefit of any doubt that is going.

It’s expected that Nicola will make an announcement in October about her plans for a vote, but the problem is that there is no sign whatsoever that the political uncertainty, confusion, and sheer ineptitude that has characterised the UK since the Brexit vote will have resolved itself by then. The original reason for promising a statement this October was because the UK needs to have reached a broad agreement with the EU by October on the terms of Brexit in order for that deal to be signed off by the EU’s member states in time for Brexit day next March. We ought to have had some clarity on the shape of Brexit, but the only thing that’s clear now is that there is no clarity in the foreseeable future.

Against such a background of UK uncertainty and confusion, it’s going to be very difficult for Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish government to plot a clear path ahead. It’s a bit like trying to plan a journey through a trackless wilderness full of quicksand and those ravenous lions that managed to avoid being captured for the Colosseum. I don’t expect a definite announcement of an imminent referendum. This will doubtless be portrayed in the anti-independence press as Nicola Sturgeon backtracking on indy, but the political reality is that the will of the people of Scotland can be expressed at the ballot box in votes other than referendums.

The unknowns are more than a lack of clarity on the form that Brexit is going to take. It’s also by no means certain whether Theresa May’s government can survive past the autumn. If it falls, she will resign as PM and there will be a new Conservative leader who will go to the polls as a shiny new face enjoying a honeymoon in the British press. Unless Labour comes out strongly for a second Brexit vote, and there’s presently little likelihood of that happening, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party stands little chance.

If there is to be a Westminster General Election within the next few months, independence needs to be front and foremost in the SNP’s campaign because independence means that it’s the people of Scotland who get to decide on the path this country takes, it’s the people of Scotland who will provide the certainty that the British political parties are so incapable of providing.

The big mistake of 2017 was that the SNP tried to avoid making the vote about independence, while the British nationalist parties and the overwhelmingly anti-independence media banged on about little else. The result was that opponents of independence were motivated to vote, but supporters of independence were not. The SNP can’t make that mistake again. The press and Ruth Davidson won’t let the SNP get away with not talking about independence, in Ruth’s case because it’s all she’s got, so the SNP can’t avoid it or sidestep it. They have to own it. The SNP needs to harness the energy and enthusiasm that is growing in the grassroots indy movement. They need to get the indy vote out, and that means giving it a reason, giving it a vision, giving it hope.

The party needs to fight a Westminster General Election campaign on the basis of achieving a mandate to ensure that irrespective of what happens elsewhere in the UK, the people of Scotland have a right to express their view on Brexit, and a right to reject the chaotic mess that passes for the British government’s negotiating strategy. Winning the General Election in Scotland, and in the context of a Westminster vote that means being the largest party in terms of vote share, and the largest party in terms of seats won, means that the people of Scotland will have chosen to have their say on Brexit and on the future of Scotland, and we can put to rest Ruth Davidson’s nonsense that there’s no demand for another referendum. It will mean that the people of Scotland will be telling whoever is the Conservative party leader at the time that the people of Scotland, and not a Conservative PM, will decide when is the time. And we will be saying to him or her – that time is now. In times of British uncertainty, we need to create some Scottish certainty of our own.


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

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