Clap along if you feel like you’re in a land with unlimited potential

A couple of years ago, an annoyingly chirpy song called Happy was never off the radio. One of its lyrics irked me, “Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.” But I get it now. It means that your potential is no longer being capped. It means that above you there is no ceiling to keep you down, there’s only the sky and you can reach for it. That’s where the independence movement is just now, in a room without a roof. Clap along.

Yesterday’s massive march in Edinburgh and today’s huge attendance at the SNP conference in Glasgow demonstrate that there is an equally huge appetite in this country of ours to reach to the sky and grasp our potential. Compare and contrast the packed halls of the SNP conference with the half empty low ceilinged rooms of the Conservative conference last week. Compare and contrast the tens of thousands of marchers in Edinburgh reaching for the stars with the giggling gaggle of manky shirtit fearmongers. Compare and contrast the vision and dreams and poetry of an independence movement which looks forward to the future, with the pursed lipped resentment of a British nationalism that’s trapped in an imaginary past. Clap along if you feel that you’re on the right side of history.

The independence movement is far stronger than it was when the first independence referendum was called. The Scotland that first tentatively began to discuss the idea of independence back in 2012 seems like a different country now, because it was. Back in 2012 opponents of independence could credibly pretend that Scotland was a partner in a Union. That lie has been exposed. Back in 2012 the idea of independence was still regarded by many as a marginal notion that had no place in the mainstream of Scottish politics, and the goal of opponents of independence was to make sure it stayed that way. In 2018 no one can pretend that independence is not a serious option for this country, especially not those who are most opposed to it. Clap along if you feel like the winning arguments are ours.

But most importantly of all, back in 2012 we were just starting to learn how to do this, how to campaign for our country’s future. We were taking baby steps, now we’re running. The people of Scotland are now amongst the most politically engaged and informed of any country in the world. This country is filled with people who are experienced campaigners. All over Scotland, in every corner of the country, there are local groups and organisations making the case for independence in their own communities. We have a grassroots organisation and strength that opponents of independence can only look upon enviously and snark about from the safety of their Twitter bubble. They’re stuck on social media. We have the streets. We have the future. Clap along if you feel like we’re living in the real world where independence is normal.

In the papers there is still discussion about whether Nicola Sturgeon will be “allowed” to have a vote on Scotland’s future, and the consensus is that she won’t be. Either Scotland is in a Union, in which case it shouldn’t require anyone’s permission in order to decide its own future, or it’s a part of a unitary state and Westminster calls the shots irrespective of what the people of Scotland want. Opponents of independence can’t have it both ways. The sad reality for them is that Scotland doesn’t need anyone’s permission to have a vote on its future. Any election in this country can be transformed into an effective referendum on independence. This is not Spain. There is no constitutional bar against a plebiscite election. There is no constitutional bar against the Scottish parliament holding a consultative referendum without anyone’s permission. Clap along if you feel like you have a voice and you’re not afraid to use it.

The signs are that when Scotland does have its Scottish People’s Vote, that this country will vote to rejoin the community of independent nations. Even before any official campaign has been announced, support for independence is higher than it was in 2014, and that support becomes a majority in the event of a no-deal Brexit, and 50/50 in the event of Brexit. And that’s before the legion of experienced and enthused independence groups have even really got started. No wonder the British nationalists are so determined to prevent a vote happening. They’re terrified about the result, and rightly so. Because they’re going to lose. Clap along if you feel like a country with an open sky. Because we’re happy.

The biggest difference between the independence movement and British nationalism is that we have a monopoly on joy. When was the last time you saw an opponent of independence painting a joyful and happy picture of the great future that awaits Scotland as a part of the UK. When was the last time that you saw an opponent of independence detail all the heights and achievements that Scotland can attain as a subordinate part of a UK, governed by a Westminster that scarcely notices its existence. You never see these things, because committed opponents of independence are defined by fear, by can’t, by their low ceiling, by no. It’s the independence movement which looks up. It’s the independence movement which looks forward. It’s the independence movement which anticipates and aspires. They have fear, but we have joy. And that’s why we’re going to win. Clap along if you feel like you can laugh in the face of the scaremongers.

This is going to be my last blog post for a few weeks. I’m off to celebrate a real union while I anticipate the fall of the fake British one. Sam (Macart) will look after you in my absence. I’m off to get married in the USA to Peter, my partner of the past three years. A couple of days after the wedding in Portland Maine, we’re travelling back to Scotland along with his father and stepmother on the 28th of October, and it will be the first time that Henry and Francine will have visited Scotland. We’re having a second Scottish wedding reception in Glasgow on 2 November, a proper Scottish ceilidh. Normal blogging service will be resumed on 5 November. The plan is, in case you were wondering, for my new husband to come and live here in Scotland. That is most likely to happen next year.

So I’m happy. The future holds so much hope and so much potential on a personal level as well as for Scotland. The past belongs to the pursed lipped North Britons hidebound by fear and negativity, the future belongs to happy Scots, old Scots, new Scots, born Scots, adopted Scots, Scots by birth, and Scots by choice. Clap along if you feel that we live in a land whose potential is limited only by our imaginations. Watch while we dream the infinite. We’re on our way.


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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.

Growth Commission Consultation, Gathering #2

by Jason Baird, IndyApp

We would like to thank Wee Ginger Dug for agreeing to publish this and help us get the word out across the movement as widely as possible. It is very much appreciated.

A little background:

Following successful discussions at our recent national meeting of IndyApp Group Editors in Dunblane on September 22nd, it was agreed that a grassroots’ consultation process on the Scottish Growth Commission should be organised by the NYR. There were 108 attendees at the meeting on the day, representing 70 groups. Keith Brown (Depute Leader of the SNP) also took part in the discussions, giving a 20 minute presentation followed by an 80 min Q&A session. Discussions among the group representatives then continued after Keith left. These discussions have led to the announcement that follows.

We will keep everyone in touch with any significant further developments that may happen in the run up to Gathering#2.

NYR IndyApp 

Gathering#2 Announcement

The National Yes Registry has been in talks with the SNP to organise an officially recognised Grassroots consultation on the Scottish Growth Commission’s report.

The objective is to facilitate a full and comprehensive grassroots consultation on the findings of the Commission’s report. This is an important wide ranging economic discussion document and the Yes movement must have the opportunity to consider it formally and in full. Such a process could be as much about education, deliberation and development of the issues raised, as it is about simple consultation on them. It has therefore been agreed that the consultation process be designed by and held under the auspices of the autonomous pro Indy groups themselves. It should also be transparent, participatory and completely independent of party politics.

To this end, and after positive discussion on the issue at our recent national meeting of local group IndyApp editors, it is proposed that Gathering#2 be used (in part) as the vehicle to begin this grassroots’ run and controlled consultation process.

Gathering#2’s agenda will therefore include:

  1. Further development of topics raised by the groups during Gathering#1
  2. Detailed discussions around issues raised by the Growth Commission’s Report
  3. Discussions on theme for Gathering#3 (to be held in early 2019).

Growth Commission consultation: proposed process.

Gathering#2 will follow the general format pioneered at the first event last May. After further consultation with the groups, the full Commission report will be pre divided into manageable topic areas for Gathering discussion tables to debate and consider.

Each discussion table will present their considerations to the floor of the Gathering. These presentations will focus on providing topic parameters around which the wider, countrywide, grassroots consultation process can take place.

ALL interested group members can then participate throughout the full consultation period by using their secure group forums on the new IndyApp platform to discuss and develop any topics they have an interest in.

Each consultation topic will also be discussed fully on its own dedicated forum, with each forum setting up a committee to summarise the forum discussions into an agreed ‘Forum Report’. Each of these ‘Reports’ can then be compiled into a full consultation document, published on the IndyApp national forum for review by all groups before being officially submitted to the SNP.

The consultation document will therefore be a summary of the discussions had during the consultation process. The full forum and committee room discussions will also have the great advantage of being archived on the IndyApp and accessible to all group members.

Gathering#2 will be held on Saturday the 24rth of November at the Albert Halls, Stirling. The new IndyApp will be released and rolled out during the remaining weeks prior to the event. A full programme of local group meetings will also be organised in preparation for Gathering#2 and all meeting dates published.  We hope this roll out, and the consultation process itself, will encourage Yessers to join their local groups and participate fully. Non group members can participate by making submissions direct to a local group.

 

The Tories, still not giving a toss

If ever you’ve never had the misfortune to have parents who have gone through a bitter and rancorous divorce, who many years later still nurse grudges about who said what to whom, who carefully nurture the memory of the dirty looks over the dinner table, the slights, the insults, the resentment, and the anger, then you don’t need to imagine it. You only needed to gaze upon the Conservative party conference.

There was, amongst the bile and the outright delusion, some deeply creepy stuff going on. And not just because Torydom en masse is creepy by definition, a collection of red-faced bigotry in blazers, wrapping themselves in the fleg because they’re not nationalists, nursing grievances about all those imagined slights from vile Europeans, and telling themselves that everything will be fine because we’re British and being British means being plucky and Vera Lynnish and never getting over WW bloody Two.

We were told by the Daily Record that Scottish Conservative MPs had, at the behest of Ruth Davidson, organised what they were calling Operation Arse in order to keep Boris Johnson out of power. Ruth is a vacuous attention seeker who trades on her personality and doesn’t have a political principle to speak of, other than a burning ambition and a deep rooted sense of entitlement. This is a description which could apply equally to Boris Johnson, only he’s better at it than Ruth is. That’s why Ruth hates him. There’s nothing an attention seeker loathes more than another attention seeker who is better at attention seeking.

Despite the fact that Scotland was assured that Scottish Conservative MPs were being elected as representatives of the Vote Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Conservatives for Ruth Davidson Party and that they’d vote as a bloc to do Ruth’s bidding. There’s at least one Scottish Tory MP who refused to take part in Operation Arse to keep Boris Johnson out of power, he’s just an arse. No one can have watched Ross Thomson’s fanboy crush on Boris Johnson without a little bit of their soul curling up inside and dying.

Never was a man-crush so mortifyingly obvious. Ross even stood stanning outside the doorway of the hall where Boris was due to speak as though he was a teenager waiting to get a glimpse of the star whose poster adorns his bedroom wall, as indeed he was. Ross posted a pic of himself on Twitter, shielding his hero from the massed ranks of the equally adoring right wing press, so he could boast about how he felt like the Scottish guy in the Bodyguard off the telly. Only without the suicide belt in the final episode, which ought to be a signal warning about what happens when you’re a faithful North British lackey who develops a crush on a Tory politician. Serves ye right really. And Ross’s reward for all this gurning fandom that even teenage girls with a crush on some mophaired lunk of autotuned uselessness would think was more than a wee bit cringey and over the top was to discover that he wasn’t even on the guest list. Ha. Ha. Poor Ross. It was like kicking a puppy. Only it was a hellhound puppy which deserved it.

It’s not just that Boris Johnson is useless. He does possess a form of talent. There is his obvious talent for self-promotion, a talent he shares with Ruth Davidson. This is, as pointed out above, why they hate one another. Each resents how the other is able to hog the limelight. But Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s real talent is to take ordinary harmless household ingredients and combine them into a truly noxious mixture. He could take a packet of hobnobs and a marigold rubber glove and turn them into a weapon of mass destruction. This is the guy who was able to poison the entire debate about Europe with an entirely ficticious story about a banana.

Despite gaining acres of coverage in the media, no doubt to the immense satisfaction of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s ego, his attention seeking overshadowed the real political development of that day. The DUP announced that they would vote down any EU deal that treated Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK. So that’s Chequers screwed. But the red faced blazer wearers didn’t pay much attention. No one is really interested in the concerns of far flung provincials, not when you had Boris and then Geoffrey Cox MP quoting Shakespeare and channelling a knock off Winston Churchill impressionist wrapped in a Union fleg on the White Cliffs of Dover.

Geoffrey was the warm up act for Theresa May’s Abba tribute act. She’d clearly heard about how cringemaking Ross Thomson’s man crush was and had decided that the British public needed something else even more embarrassing to purge the image from their minds. It’s the closest Theresa has ever got to performing a worthwhile public service. So she sashayed onto the conference stage like an end of the pier in a body brace. Not an end of the pier performer. An actual lump of wood propping up the end of the pier. It was time for Theresa’s big speech.

In Theresa May’s keynote speech, the Prime Minister had the unmitigated gall and audacity to accuse Nicola Sturgeon of a “betrayal of Scotland” over the fishing industry. Theresa knows a lot about betraying Scotland, because when your party promises Scotland that it can only stay in the EU if it votes against independence, that the permanence of the Scottish Parliament will be enshrined in law, that no changes will be made to the powers of Holyrood without Holyrood’s express consent, and then you go back on every single one of those commitments, you’ve betrayed Scotland. And if you go back a bit further then you discover that the Common Fisheries Policy which is so loathed by the fishing industry was negotiated by that same Conservative party which was only too happy to sell out the Scottish fishing industry in order to get some concessions from the EU elsewhere. Being lectured by Theresa May about the betrayal of Scotland is like being told off by Baron Frankenstein for wearing a borrowed suit.

So that was it for another year. The Tory party is still at war with itself. It’s still only interested in internal Conservative politics and egos jockeying for position within the party. As Theresa said herself just before her disastrous General Election, nothing has changed. We’re still staring a chaotic Brexit in the face. We’ve still got a government whose dereliction of duty amounts to criminal negligence. We’ve still got a government which is determined not to allow Scotland to have a say. The British state remains as dysfunctional as ever. That was the Conservative party conference, and they still don’t give a toss about you.


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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.

What Ruth Davidson really wants

Ruth Davidson has ruled out trying to lead the UK Conservatives and becoming the UK’s first lesbian prime minister. Instead, she tells us, she has her sights set on becoming the next First Minister of Scotland. This is probably not unrelated to the certainty that should she pitch for the Conservative leadership, the media might start asking her some difficult questions. Questions which can’t be answered by her cradling her baby bump and reminiscing about her teenage years in Upper Largo. She’d need some other policy than Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. And besides, the good people of England already have Hello magazine for reading about vacuous celebrities. They have no need of them in the cabinet too.

Ruth is intensely ambitious. So it’s reasonable to ask why she’s ruled herself out for the biggest prize in British politics. The answer is of course that she knows that if she aimed for it, she’d fail. Scottish lesbians who were strongly remain inclined in the Brexit referendum have a limited appeal amongst the Conservative party membership who will select the next Tory leader. She also knows that she’d not enjoy such an easy ride in the press as she does as a purely Scottish politician. She knows that her trick would be exposed. So instead she insists that she wants to concentrate on becoming the next First Minister, and the adoring British press will still take her seriously, and will still avoid asking her difficult questions, because frankly, they don’t think Scotland is important enough to ask probing questions about.

Thankfully for those of us who prefer to indulge in fantasy in a more self-aware form, like Discworld or Game of Thrones, there is as much chance of Ruth Davidson becoming the next First Minister as there is of this blog being awarded the political commentary of the year award by a panel of Scotsman and Daily Mail leader writers. The media might be seduced by Ruth’s political sleight of hand, but the public are not. The chances of Ruth’s Scottish Conservatives securing a majority in Holyrood in 2021, or even becoming the largest party, are precisely zero.

The fact this is even being discussed is a symptom of the Ruthdavidosis of the media. What Ruth does is very simple. It’s a con trick which works very effectively on the media. It works especially well on an anti-independence media which is desperately seeking a UK Messiah who will magic the Scottish independence movement away with a wave of a sparkly red white and blue wand.

Most politicians avoid talking about their personal lives. They want to talk about policies and politics. They want, in other words, to talk about their day jobs. Of course they lie, they dissemble, they are mendacious. It is as difficult to get yer average politician to respond to a straight question with a straight answer as it is for Theresa May to avoid a robotic soundbite. But it’s even more difficult to get Theresa May to open up about her private life and her inner feelings. Her robotic “I’m being very clear” is always about policy. It’s usually a lie. It’s never clear. But it never gives us any sense that we’re peering into Theresa’s soul. Possibly because she doesn’t have one. Or a shadow for that matter. But that’s beside the point.  This is the sort of performance that political journalists are used to dealing with.  It’s what they expect.

Ruth turns that expectation on its head. She is all too willing to talk about her personal life. She’d rather talk about her personal life. She’s very comfortable talking about her personal life. She’s a whole lot less willing to talk about policies, mainly because she doesn’t have any, and she has no more of a grasp of political detail than Boris Johnson does. But she doesn’t need to have a grasp of political detail, or indeed even the broad picture, and that’s especially true in the incestuously small world of the overwhelmingly anti-independence media in Scotland which is both desperate for a Saviour of Britishness and which looks on Ruth as one of their own. They are happy to overlook Ruth’s policy poverty, and are happy to present her as she wants to be presented, as a personality, not as a politician.

So for example when she’s telling an interviewer about her episodes of self-harm when she was young, it is then very difficult for that interviewer to turn round and say, “OK, enough of that. What about Tory dark money? What about the bigots who infest the Scottish Conservatives?” without sounding crass and insensitive. Ruth avoids exposing her politics by exposing her personality with a disarming smile. That’s her schtick. That’s her con trick. She turns the expectations of a political interviewer upside down. They are seduced by her apparent charm and willingness to talk about subjects that politicians are not usually willing to talk about, so she comes across as human and open and defuses any threat from the interviewer.

And all this, the disarming charm in interviews when she talks about her personal life, the media appearances, the game shows, the collapsed sponges on Bake Off, the cosy sofa chats as she touts her new book, all of it helps to establish Ruth as a brand. All of it is a pretty and distracting curtain over the bare shelves of her policies and political hinterland.

Ruth is the person who is least likely to do what she’s always demanding Nicola Sturgeon does, to concentrate on the day job. Ruth’s kryptonite is not to allow her to talk about her personality, but to insist that she talks about her job. On the rare occasions when an interviewer does that, we see the resentful entitlement of someone hopelessly out of their depth. We see bad grace and the smile disappears.

Ruth will never become First Minister because she can’t coast her way into that position with fireside sofa chats about her teenage years. She knows that too. She’s not stupid. But First Minister isn’t the job that Ruth really wants either, because deep down in her fiercely ambitious soul she knows she has no chance of getting it. Politics for Ruth was only ever a means to an end. She certainly would never admit it, but the job that Ruth really wants is as the presenter of a prime time TV chat show on the BBC. She has a far better chance of achieving that ambition. After all, she’s spent a lot of time schmoozing with people in the media.


 

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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.

The dangerous hypocrisy of the Conservatives

So that’s you lot telt, you uppity Scottish people who dare to imagine that you have a sovereign right to choose the form of government that’s best for Scotland’s needs. Ruth Davidson, the leader of a party that came a distant second in the last Holyrood elections and an equally distant second in the last Westminster General Election, is laying down the law. There will, according to Ruth, be no second Scottish independence referendum before 2027 at the earliest. The reason she picked that date is because it’s the first year that she doesn’t have any appearances booked on TV reality shows.

This is because, naturally, coming a distant second in popular votes gives you the absolute right to make such decisions and to dictate to the party which won the vote and which possesses a mandate from the people to hold another referendum. That’s how what passes for British nationalist democracy works in the UK. It appears to have escaped Ruth’s notice that the fact that a politician from a losing party can act in the way she does is precisely the reason why so many people in this country are determined to have another independence vote as soon as possible. Scottish democracy? Wouldn’t that be a good idea.

The only bit of Ruth’s pronunciamento which was at all accurate was the bit when she said that Scotland was fed up with nationalism. You got that right Ruth. We’re sick to the back teeth of British nationalism. It’s British nationalism which has led to Brexit. It’s British nationalism which is riding roughshod over the democratic will of the people of Scotland. It’s British nationalism which is imposing austerity and destroying public services. It’s British democracy which is making the UK a laughing stock amongst the states of Europe. It’s British nationalism which is determined to prevent the people of Scotland having a say on their own future.

The Conservatives don’t do irony, and there was us thinking that an appreciation of irony was oh so terribly British. If they did do irony no one would be able to refer with a straight face to Ross Thomson as a rising star of the party. If this idiot is the talent, the rest of them must be on the same evolutionary level as an intestinal parasite.

Just a few short hours before Ruth made her announcement of a random date some time far in the future, the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Rhyming Slang stood up before the Conservative party conference determined to prove to his party colleagues that he could be equally as crass and offensive as his predecessor. And besides, there’s another Jeremy in politics that people go oooooh at, and Tory Jezza was going to ensure that he got a few ooohs of his own. Sadly for him all he managed was an ugh.

Jeremy Rhyming Slang gave a rousing speech to the Tory party conference, insofar as a man who delivers speeches as though he were the bastard offspring of an intestinal parasite and an accountant can ever be rousing. The EU, he asserted to the party conference, was acting like the USSR, and not allowing the UK to leave. Because the Conservatives would never do anything like that. Imagine that, the UK having to ask the EU for permission to hold a referendum and the EU said you can’t have one until several years after Ruth Davidson has appeared on Strictly. That would be wrong wouldn’t it. Jeremy Hunt has just said so. But when it’s the Conservatives doing it to Scotland, that’s perfectly acceptable. We are governed by hypocrites who are so entrenched in their hypocrisy and entitlement that they cannot even see it.

It’s an insulting nonsense to compare the EU to the USSR, but this is part of an emerging pattern. On Monday Dominic Raab, the Brexit Secretary, demanded before a more than half empty hall that the EU get serious and get serious now. Because what’s really been holding up the progress of Brexit negotiations is that Michel Barnier has been far more occupied in doing an impression of Marcel Marceau miming being trapped inside a glass box and not because the UK still hasn’t managed to inform the EU of any realistic proposals for its relationship with the EU post-Brexit.

Then transport secretary Chris Grayling claimed that a no deal Brexit would be like Monarch Airways. Apparently he didn’t mean that we’d be bankrupt and left trapped. He didn’t mean that after Brexit all UK airlines would be like Monarch because they wouldn’t be able to fly anywhere. He meant that shedloads of government money had to be spent rescuing people. Which only shows that Chris shouldn’t be left with sharp objects, transport infrastructure, or Brexit negotiations.

The emerging pattern is that this government is blaming the EU for the inability of this own government to come up with a remotely realistic proposal for leaving the EU. They’re setting the stage for a no deal Brexit that they’re going to blame on those nasty Germans and French. They’re going to blame the EU for their own shortcomings, and they accuse the EU of treating the UK in the exact same way that the British government is treating Scotland. Then when the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, and there is economic disruption, job losses, and the break down of supply chains, when there’s a hard border in Ireland and the risk of the collapse of the Peace Process, the people who have created this entire mess will stir up xenophobia and blame nasty foreigners for not giving in to plucky Britain.  They’ll use their so-called Henry VIII powers to override Parliament and rule by fiat.

The bottom line here is that British nationalists can have the UK, or they can have the EU. They can’t have both. The people of Scotland have made it abundantly clear that we reject Brexit, and if it is imposed upon us by a UK which is hell bent on ripping up employment and consumer rights and destroying public services, there will be no majority in Scotland for remaining a part of the UK. One way or another, Scotland will have a vote on its future, and no amount of attention seeking foot stomping from Ruth Davidson is going to stop it. Then we will escape the dangerous hypocrisy of the Conservative party.


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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.

The Festival of Exit Britain

The Conservative party say that they’re going to introduce innovative technological solutions to the Irish border question, but they can’t even introduce an app for their conference without buggering it up. The app was so poorly designed that it allowed anyone to log in as members of the Cabinet and see all their personal contact details. But it’s not all bad, at least it’s the first time ever that the Tories have been accessible to the public.

The conference isn’t really a conference of course. It’s essentially a public relations exercise in which assorted Conservative figures will get up and give speeches pretending that the party isn’t being torn apart by ideologically driven right wing zealots. But they can’t even manage that convincingly. There is absolutely nothing that the Conservative party can do to heal the gaping wounds and come up with a coherent policy on the Brexit which that same Conservative party only inflicted on the UK in the first place in a hauf-airsed attempt to deal with its own internal divisions. It was as though the Conservatives had an issue with an itchy skin rash on their leg, so they cut both their legs off and we’re now all drowning in the blood. Then having done so, they decided that Brexit was really an internal party matter, and did their best to sideline that parliament whose absolute sovereignty they claimed they were defending.

Both the hard line Brexists and the remainers within the Tory party have enough support amongst Conservative MPs to hold Theresa May hostage, but neither of them have enough support in order to get something through Parliament. The result is confusion and stalemate. The UK is staring at the biggest peacetime crisis it has ever faced in the past 100 years, and yet none of the UK parties have any clue about how to get out of the mess that they themselves created.

Meanwhile in another of her sofa soft interviews on the tellybox, Ruth Davidson has said that if there were to be another Brexit referendum she’d vote remain. So she’s prepared to countenance another referendum, just not another Scottish one. Thanks for clearing that up Ruth. It only confirms something that many of us have known for some time, that you’re only willing to consider referendums if you believe you can be on the winning side of them. But Ruth did find time in her busy schedule of self-promotion to send a Tweet about the presents that Theresa May had given her for her new baby, including a copy of Theresa’s favourite book, Swallows and Amazons. It’s a romanticised little England story of privileged middle class brats fighting amongst themselves on a small fantasy island while they subsist on corned beef and patronise and ignore the local working class people who actually do all the hard work. At least now we know where Theresa May got her Brexit negotiation strategy from.

Theresa’s big idea is to hold a Festival of Brexit Britain and has already pledged £120 million to pay for it. This is the closest that they have to a Brexit plan, a celebration of Little Britain. It’s typical of the Tories that they look back to a romanticised vision of a past that never existed. Most of us would prefer to have a future where we didn’t have to worry about our government warning us about shortages of medicines and food. This Brextival is the political equivalent of one of those mothers slapping their wean during a wet and grey weekend in some dreary seaside resort in the 1950s, shouting at the kid to be happy and enjoy itself.

The Prime Minister wants to hold this Brexfest in 2022, we’re told it’s to celebrate 70 years since the Festival of Britain in 1951. This is the level of numeracy that brought us Brexit in the first place. It’s also the 100th anniversary of the British partition of Ireland, and now the UK government is going to hold a festival to celebrate partitioning Ireland again. Which only shows just how little British governments consider the sensitivities and needs of everywhere in the UK that isn’t the Home Counties.

Everyone attending the Brextival will be given a free pair of rose tinted spectacles. It will be like the Hunger Games, but with Morris dancing and held in a closed down Pontins in Grimsby while contestants beat one another to death with Dyson vacuum cleaners. It will be like the Wicker Man but without the big bonfire because no one can afford the heating bill. Just to get everyone in the spirit of the postwar Festival of Britain, there will be a lottery for ration books. At least the catering should be easy to organise, even for the serial incompetents in the Conservative government. There will be plenty of gammon, but apart from that no food. You can bet there will be plenty of red white and blue bunting and flegs, and Theresa May telling us about the evils of identity politics.

Some people on social media have compared the Brextival to The Last of Us. But that’s unfair. One of them is filled with aggressive and vicious brain dead creatures who destroy all that is decent and human at the slightest provocation in an authoritarian nation where only the strong and the rich have a chance of survival, and the other’s a video game.

Despite the utter confusion, civil warfare, and mutual recriminations in which the Conservatives are mired, despite their flights of British nationalist delusion, they’re still ahead of Labour in the opinion polls. The Conservatives are the political equivalent of a one armed boxer who’s blindfolded, drunk, and has cramp in one leg, and the Labour party still can’t land a blow. Labour in Scotland is consuming itself in the Kezia Dugdale civil war, which is turning into a proxy for the fight between Corbynistas and the old guard, and Labour in the rest of the UK is desperately trying to avoid having any position on Brexit in order to placate both the Leavers in working class constituencies in Northern England, and the Remainers amongst the youth and in the big cities. The result is that they’re pleasing no one.

And this political wasteland of a UK is what Theresa May wants to celebrate with a Brextival. Scotland can’t fix the self-inflicted mess in which the UK finds itself. It is not the job of Scotland to make a futile attempt to save the rest of the UK from itself, and to destroy ourselves in the process. Scotland desperately needs a Festival of Exit Britain of its own. We can celebrate by having a referendum and voting to leave. Let’s get on with organising it.


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The Cheshire cat of politics

I had been toying with the idea of writing this blog article about how it’s unproductive for supporters of independence to join in the social media campaign calling for a boycott of the Guardian newspaper. About how when we embark on campaigns directed against individual newspapers we only allow that paper to paint itself as a victim of the social media abuse of journalists. About how we need to occupy the moral high ground and save our energies for countering the really nasty and vicious bile published by the right wing press, like the Daily Mail. About how a newspaper like the Guardian is not the BBC, it’s not a public service that all TV viewers are legally compelled to pay for and has no obligation to neutrality. About how the boycott is a campaign organised by the frothier end of the Corbynista movement who are no more supporters of or sympathetic to the cause of Scottish independence than the self-righteous metrocommentariat of the Guardian are, and who are equally blind to British nationalism.

And then I read the Guardian’s hagiography of Ruth Davidson. After reading that love-in that failed to ask Ruth anything approaching a difficult question, that allowed her to pose as a personality bereft of any political principle other than her own self promotion, I’ve decided not to bother. You want to boycott the Guardian? On yese go. Knock yourselves out. I’m past caring.

So we are told that it is a credit to Ruth Davidson that she has made the fact that she’s a pregnant lesbian so unremarkable in a country where homosexuality wasn’t decriminalised until 1981. There’s still some way to go in ensuring full equality and acceptance for LGBT people in Scotland, but it is a testament to the good sense and humanity of the people of Scotland that in terms of legal protections and rights this country is now one of the best places in the world in which to be gay.

But is this thanks to Ruth Davidson? Eh no. Now I will admit that I have a personal interest in this particular topic. I am one of those Scottish gay people who came of age when homosexuality was still illegal in this country.  It galls me no end to read heterosexual journalists claiming that Ruth is so groundbreaking and giving her the credit for social changes which others have achieved. If you believe that Ruth Davidson is responsible then clearly you’ve not been paying attention.

Speaking as a gay Scot who is a fair bit older than Ruth, I can assure you that the fact that it’s unremarkable that Scotland has a gay Conservative leader who’s starting a family of her own is nothing for Ruth to take credit for. She is merely the product of the changes in Scottish society that a previous generation of lesbian and gay Scots fought for, fought for tooth and nail in the face of the bitter opposition of the party that she now represents. And, while we’re on the topic, in the teeth of bitter opposition from very large and influential sections of the Labour party in Scotland too.

Ruth is benefiting from the changes that were brought about by an older generation of LGBTQ people in this country, a generation which stood up and made change happen at a time when it still created a serious risk to your livelihood, your career, your family relationships, and even your physical safety. That was a time when the Aids epidemic was destroying our communities, and we were wracked with grief at the loss of so many. We stood up and spoke out because it really was silence or death. And if you were going to die anyway you might as well go shouting. My own first partner died of Aids.  Back in the 80s was when it was brave to stand up and be counted, to stand up and make your voice heard. Ruth stands on the shoulders of those who won that victory of social acceptance, all too often at immense personal cost. She’s not the cause of it, she’s the beneficiary.

Some of us gay people were creating our own families over two decades ago at a time when those same newspapers which now print hagiographies of Ruth Davidson were demonising us. I have daughters with a lesbian couple, my eldest is now in her 20s. Gay folk having kids is not a new thing. But when we created a family there were no gushing articles in newspapers telling us how groundbreaking and brave we were. There were only hate articles insisting that people like us shouldn’t be allowed to have children.

So don’t tell me how leading-edge Ruth Davidson is. She’s a latecomer to the baby shower, she doesn’t get the credit for organising it. She didn’t normalise gay families. An older generation of gay people did that. She didn’t normalise being gay in public life. Aulder gay folk did that. She’s able to enjoy the privilege she does as the leader of the Scottish Conservatives because other people have done the hard work of attaining public and social acceptance, and suffered as a result. That was work which the Scottish Conservatives actively sought to undo and which they tried to prevent happening.

And yeah, I have a particular bugbear about this, because I was one of the ones who got gaybashed – more than once – in order to secure Ruth’s privileges. So don’t tell me how bloody groundbreaking she is. It scunners me no end to see her get the credit for the changes that others suffered and sacrificed for in order to bring about.

Now I’ve got that out of my system, what was even worse was that a national newspaper printed an article praising Ruth Davidson for talking about her mental health issues without seeing fit to mention the destruction of mental health service provision in England under the auspices of her own Conservative party, and the Conservative threat to the Scottish budget meaning that the Scottish Government has to cut services in other areas to protect NHS Scotland.

But hey, it’s OK that an axe is being taken to mental health services, that benefits for disabled people are being slashed, that there’s an epidemic of food poverty, that mental health issues and drug and alcohol dependency are strongly influenced by the poverty and deprivation that Conservative policies are making worse. It’s OK that Ruth Davidson presides over a party through which sectarianism, racism, and misogyny run to its rotten core, because doesn’t Ruth Davidson have a lovely smile, and she’s so willing to talk about her personal life.

Talking about her party’s policies? Not so much. Because that might mean she’s questioned on them, and when she’s questioned the smile disappears. It becomes as invisible as her political principles. Ruth is the Cheshire Cat of politics, smiling into non-existence.

When a newspaper treats a politician like a celebrity off the telly, it does no one any favours. It doesn’t hold the powerful to account when a politician is treated as some sort of cheerful outsider with a compelling personal narrative, and not as a member of the governing party in the UK. It helps no one when Ruth Davidson is not challenged on the gulf between her words and her party’s actions. All it does is to reduce British politics to a species of reality show, politics as spectacle not as principle. When the political means of holding the powerful to account are as weak as they are in the UK, it’s all the more important that the press does it. They’re failing us.


 

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

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

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