Three strikes but she’s not out, yet.

It’s been one of those days when you start writing an article, and by the time you get to the end of the sentence there’s been some other significant development in the catastrocrash that passes for British politics. My hard drive is littered with the ruins of aborted and unworkable articles, so rather like the Conservative party then.

The day started off badly for Theresa May and has got steadily worse as the day went on. Under normal circumstances you’d feel a modicum of sympathy for a fellow human being who was being put under such stress in the workplace. But this is Theresa May we’re talking about here, a woman who thinks empathy is a Cypriot holiday resort frequented by socialists, and who responds to questions about human tragedy with robotic soundbites. She’s devoted an entire career to demonstrating as many different ways possible of exhibiting a lack of compassion. So these are not normal circumstances, and as such we’re only demonstrating a healthy human response by laughing at her discomfort.

It began with legal advice from the advocate general to the European Court of Justice, who gave his considered opinion to the court that the UK can cancel Article 50 unilaterally. Advice from the advocate general is not binding on the court, but it is generally followed, meaning that it is highly likely that the court will rule the same way. The ruling had been sought by a group of Scottish politicians, who had been fought tooth and nail every step of the way by Theresa May’s government. Supporters of Brexit claimed that they wanted to leave the EU in order to take back control, but apparently not so much control that campaigners can seek legal rulings against the UK government. The government doesn’t want the people to be informed, because the more that we know, the less that we fear.

What this means is that, if as now appears likely, the European Court of Justice follows the advice of its advocate general, British MPs will be able to halt the Article 50 process unilaterally. Activating Article 50 notified the EU of the UK’s intention to leave, but now the UK can halt it without having to seek agreement from other EU members. The UK would be able to remain in the EU and retain all its current opt-outs, rebates, and privileges, something that the British government was insistent was not the case. Just last week Michael Gove insisted that it was not the case. It would suit him and other members of the Tory party because if it were not the case then resisting their Brexit plans would be more difficult. Moreover, the British government was hell bent on ensuring that British citizens couldn’t find out whether it was the case or not. There’s that taking back control for you.

Then the British government’s control freakery fetish for secrecy took another battering. Despite a vote in the Commons to oblige the government to release the UK’s legal advice on Theresa May’s Brexit plan, the government had refused to do so. That would be that same Commons that Brexit was supposed to restore full sovereignty to. But not that sovereignty. Oh no. That’s the wrong kind of sovereignty. Not sovereignty to hold the British government to account. It was just supposed to be sovereignty as far as foreigners are concerned. Because we won the war you know. We have a government which is so arrogant that it believes it has the right to ignore the will of Parliament. That’s not just a step on the road to dictatorship, it’s a bus ride. A bus with lies about the EU painted on its side.

Angered at the disdain that the government had been showing for that very Parliament that’s supposed to be sovereign, opposition MPs forced a debate on holding the government in contempt. First the government attempted to introduce its own amendment to the contempt motion, only for it to be voted down by 311 votes to 307. Then despite an attempt at filibustering from Tory MPs more interested in the sound of their own voices than in the sound of democracy dying, the motion itself was carried by 311 votes to 293. It’s unprecedented for a government to be found to be in contempt of Parliament, but that’s precisely what happened today.

In order to avoid sanctions being taken against minister, the government has promised to publish the full legal advice tomorrow (Wednesday). All of this could have been avoided if Theresa May understood the difference between resolve and a pig-headed arrogance. She wants a divorce from the EU, but the only divorce on display so far is her government’s divorce from reality.

If losing one vote in Parliament is unfortunate for a government, and losing two is carelessness, losing three is the level of incompetent haunlessness that we should have come to expect given the progress of the British government in the Brexit negotiations to far. Well, I say progress. The UK’s handling of Brexit is to political progress as a clown car is to a luxury European sports car.

Operating on the principle that the best time to boot a guy in the balls is when he’s already on the floor, opposition MPs and Tory remainer rebels delivered another kicking to the government in the aftermath of the contempt vote. Tory Remainer Dominic Grieve tabled an amendment to the parliamentary motion setting out how the government’s Brexit deal would be debated over the coming days. According to the EU Withdrawal Act, the government has 21 days to return to Parliament with a new motion should Theresa May’s deal fail to attract the support of enough MPs.

The government had intended to present MPs with a take it or leave it deal, because you know, control freakery, but Grieve’s amendment allows MPs to make their own amendments to whatever the government puts forward. The motion passed by 321 votes to 299, meaning that Theresa May has lost control of the final form that Brexit will take should her deal not win a majority when MPs vote on it next week. MPs will now be able to prevent a no-deal by default.

Now no one knows what’s going to happen. The Brexit debates are still on-going in the Commons and are set to continue for the next five days. Rumours are circulating that the government might even pull the deal from the debate and not have a vote on it all rather than face a fourth humiliating defeat in the space of a few days. Other rumours say that Theresa May might be planning another snap General Election. Hard line Brexiteers are downcast, but their fears that Brexit could be stopped might be enough to get enough of them to support Theresa’s deal.

Theresa has suffered three strikes but she’s not out, yet. She’s certainly not safe. It seems that the UK falling out of the EU with no deal is less likely now than it was this time yesterday, but it’s impossible to say with any certainty what is going to happen tomorrow, never mind next week when Theresa’s deal is voted on in the Commons, and certainly not what’s going to happen in March next year. Maybe we’ll know more tomorrow. But I wouldn’t bet on it. The only certainties left are that there are no certainties any more in British politics, and that we can add the safety, security, and stability of the UK to the long and lengthening list of Better Together’s broken promises to the people of Scotland.


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The myth of the Union

As the UK lurches towards a Common vote on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, and it becomes ever more obvious that no route out of the Brexmess enjoys the support of a majority of MPs, the entire future of the UK and everyone in it is being held hostage. British politics are in disarray.

Brexit is driven by xenophobia, by fear of the foreign, by nostalgia for a lost empire, by the burning resentment that England, and it’s always England, has limits placed on its absolute power by Europeans. Brexit dresses itself up in a Union fleg, it preens and poses as the restoration of the full sovereignty of Westminster, while really being used by the right wing of the Tory party to aggrandise the power of the executive over Parliament. Brexit calls itself a British project, but it’s being used to put the hems on the powers of the devolved administrations and to further entrench the dominance of England within the UK. We won the war you know. Brexit is, and always was, an exercise in English nationalism.

There remains the possiblity of a so-called people’s vote which might just halt Brexit. But that possibility is being aired because of the disquiet that Brexit is causing in England. If the vote produces a result which halts Brexit, that again will be because England will have voted to prevent it. Yet even if it does, Brexit will continue to dominate English politics for decades, risking the rise of the far right as embittered Ukippers and Tory Brexiteers seeks to express their anger. The targets of their ire will be all those who opposed their dream of Britannia waiving the rules, remainers, EU citizens, and the Scots. A UK which votes in a referendum to halt Brexit will be a UK where there will be increased political pressure to punish the Scots and restrict the powers of Holyrood. And this, let us not forget, is the best case scenario, because it’s the only one in which Brexit doesn’t happen.

Scotland and the other devolved nations are and remain a sideshow. All of this is a function of the simple numerical reality that some 85% of the population of the UK live in England. The UK calls itself a Union, but it contains no checks and balances on the power of its largest constituent member.

We are supposed to be in a Union. We are supposed to be a much loved partner in a family of nations. We were told to lead the Union not leave it. But Brexit has exposed the myth. There is no Union. There is only a unitary state which obeys the dictates of English nationalism, the nationalism of one member of that supposed Union, and which refuses to concede to any constitutional mechanisms which might put a limit on unbridled and unchecked English exceptionalism.

The devolution settlement came about because of the experience of Thatcher, a woman who stood before the Conservative party conference and proudly declared that she was an English nationalist. To which everyone in Scotland replied, tell us something we don’t know. For two decades Scotland was subjected to a government which Scotland didn’t vote for, and bore the brunt of Conservative economic policies which damaged Scotland and destroyed communities. Scotland campaigned long and hard for a Scottish government and parliament in order to provide us with a modicum of protection from the ravages of English nationalism.

Right from the start, the British state with its instinctive prioritising of English nationalism did its utmost to restrict the scope of devolution. The limited tax powers promised to Holyrood were effectively neutered. Scotland was not to be permitted a national public service broadcaster of its own. Tony Blair proudly declared that the new Scottish Parliament would be little more than a glorified parish council. The outcome was as the British state intended, the new Scottish Parliament would not be able to protect Scotland from English nationalism, and would most certainly not be permitted to put any limits on the expression of English nationalism at a UK level. We saw that the morning after the independence referendum, when David Cameron told us that it had really been all about England all along, and announced that Scottish MPs would become second class.

Even with devolution, Scotland has not been able to escape the effects of Conservative austerity. The best that can be managed is for the Scottish budget to be slashed in other areas in order to find funds to mitigate damage done by Westminster. Scotland can’t stop the damage at source. Scotland can’t ensure that the damage doesn’t reach north of the border.

Even more obviously, devolution has done absolutely nothing to protect Scotland from an English nationalist driven Brexit. Scotland’s parliament and government have not been consulted, never mind had a role in shaping the form that Brexit takes. Scotland will get what it’s given.

And now we are told that Theresa May is not disposed to consent to a Section 30 order for another Scottish independence referendum. English nationalism has driven Brexit because it cannot tolerate any limits, however minor, however consensual and negotiated, however much the UK has a seat at the EU table, on English sovereignty. Yet Scotland is being told by those same proponents of unfettered English sovereignty that a Prime Minister who enjoys her role due to the support her party received in England, a Prime Minster whose party is a minority in Scotland, has an absolute veto on whether the Scottish people can decide the form of government best suited to their needs.

The question remains for those in Scotland who still believe that we are in a Union, who still believe that Scotland is a partner in the UK project. What constitutional protections does the UK offer to Scotland from the excesses of English nationalism? Brexit has given the answer, and the answer is none.

There is only one nation outside England in the British Isles which is able to resist the ill effects of rampant English nationalism upon it, and that is Ireland. Ireland has been able to ensure that its needs and interests are taken into account as the UK embarks upon its English nationalist driven Brexit because Ireland is an independent state. Scotland lies powerless and impotent, at the mercy of events, a toy of English nationalists, a pretty British bauble to allow them to pretend that they’re not nationalist at all. Even if Brexit can be stopped, Scotland will remain at the mercy of English nationalism.

Only independence can provide us with a bulwark and a defence. Only independence can ensure that Scotland’s voice will be heard and its needs taken into account. Brexit has exposed the myth of the Union, the real dirty secret of the British state. There is no Union and there never was. The UK is and always was a vehicle for English nationalism.


 

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Telling Theresa the time

According to an article in The Times today, Theresa May will refuse to agree to any request from the Scottish government to hold another independence referendum. Well that’s a relief, because no one in Scotland has the slightest intention of requesting anything from Theresa May. Scotland will be informing Theresa May that it’s going to have a vote on independence, that will be at a time which suits Scotland, and Theresa May’s permission is not required.

I’ve laid out the points in this blog article before, but they are worth restating, given the willingness of the media in this country to go along with the mistaken notion that Scotland requires the permission of the Prime Minister before it can have a vote on independence.

The reality is that if Theresa May really believes that the UK is a “precious Union”, then she has no moral grounds for refusing to allow Scotland to vote. Either this is a Union and Scotland is a constituent part of it where the people possess the absolute right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, or this is a unitary state and Scotland has no more rights than an English region. Either the people of Scotland really do have an absolute right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, or we don’t. Because if it’s up to a UK Prime Minister to decide whether Scotland can have a vote on independence, if it’s up to a UK Prime Minister to unilaterally override a mandate given to the Scottish Parliament by the people of Scotland, then clearly we don’t. If we don’t, then Westminster was lying when it approved the Scottish Claim of Right and this isn’t really a Union, precious or otherwise. And if this is not a Union, Scotland is a part of the UK under false pretenses. That all by itself is a reason for an independence vote.

What’s it to be Theresa? Because you can’t have it both ways. The word Union, if it is to be used, must have some actual semantic content. It must mean something. But then we are dealing with a government for which black is white and up is down. This government of incompetents, swivel eyed ideologues, greed driven bloodsuckers, and money grubbers on the make is only good at one thing, and that’s hypocrisy.

Let us, for the sake of argument, imagine that the SNP wins a snap general election by a massive amount and wins all but a handful of seats in Scotland, yet Theresa May manages to cling on to power. Or, let us imagine that there’s been a snap Scottish election and pro-independence parties are returned to the Scottish Parliament with an increased majority and a renewed mandate for a referendum, yet Theresa May is still clinging onto power in Westminster. Or, let us imagine that the opinion polls are showing a consistent and significant majority for Scottish independence way beyond the 3% margin of error typical for opinion polls. Do you think that Theresa May would be more likely to consent to another independence referendum than she is just now? No. Of course not. She’d be even less disposed to agree to one than she is just now because the chances of her losing it would be even greater than her current chances of losing it, chances which are already pretty high.

The greater the support is for Scottish independence, the more support there is for it in the Scottish Parliament or in Westminster, the less likely that it becomes that any UK Prime Minister is going to consent to a Section 30 order. No UK Prime Minister is going to willingly agree to a political course of action that spells the end of the UK because that would also spell the end of that Prime Minister’s career. Theresa, or whoever happens to be the UK Prime Minister next month, would just repeat the now is not the time mantra.

The obvious answer to this condundrum is that we don’t ask her permission. Scotland should just tell her how things are going to be. Scotland determines when the time is. And Scotland can do that.

What Scotland and the Scottish government ought to be doing with Theresa May right now is reminding her that one way or another, Scotland will have its vote with or without Theresa’s permission. Yes, it would be all lovely and fluffy if Westminster agreed to a Section 30 order, but a Section 30 order is not the only way a Scottish ballot on independence can occur. This is not Spain, there is no constitutional bar on independence referendums in the UK. There is no law which says that a party or a coalition of parties cannot stand for election on a platform of seeking a mandate for independence for Scotland. In other words, Theresa’s permission is not required for a Scotland to have a vote on independence. It’s only required for one route to that vote. If that route is blocked, other routes are available.

Scotland can have a consultative referendum without Westminster’s permission. It might be the subject of a legal challenge, but if it was worded appropriately it is likely to be legal. And as we have seen from the consultative referendum that led to Brexit, the political difference between a binding referendum and a consultative one is about as deep as the intellectual heft of the Scottish Conservative party. Theresa would then find herself facing an independence campaign being fought against a backdrop of her party legally challenging Scotland’s right to be listened to, and all the while her and her anti-indy pals are trying to persuade Scotland that we’re respected and listened to within the UK. That’s not going to play well for them.

Or Scotland can convert any election held in Scotland into a plebiscite election on independence. The Scottish Parliament already possesses a mandate for a referendum, there is no need to campaign for another one. The next vote on the subject should be a direct vote on independence itself. Theresa May’s permission is not required for Scotland to have a plebiscite election, and the anti-independence parties can’t realistically boycott it. They’ll still be forced to fight an independence vote, trying to persuade Scotland that it’s loved and wanted and respected, while they themselves will be seen to have fought to reject Scotland’s right to a voice. So much for a precious Union. That’s not going to play well for them.

If opponents of independence have a modicum of sense, they will consent to a Section 30 order, because that is the only way that they can maintain the fiction that Scotland is a part of a Union and not an ignored and sidelined province in a unitary state. But then we’re talking here about the likes of Theresa May, Ross Thomson, and David Mundell, expecting a modicum of sense is a very big ask. The real reason that they’re terrified of another independence vote is because they know that they’re likely to lose it, and they know that they have nothing to offer Scotland except scare stories, threats, bullying, and intimidation.

But we must not forget that the bottom line is that one way or another, Scotland can have a vote and Theresa May’s permission is not required. We need to shout that from the rooftops. That’s a line that gets lost in Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media, and that’s why it’s all the more important that the Scottish Government needs to assert it loud and proud. It’s not for Theresa May to tell the people of Scotland what we can or cannot vote on. It’s not for Theresa May to give permission for a vote on Scottish independence. The only permission required is the permission of the Scottish people. There is already a mandate in place for another independence referendum. The people have already spoken on that question.

Theresa May is a bully. You don’t beg for concessions from bullies, you stand up to them. Theresa May refuses to listen. You don’t ask nicely of people who don’t listen to you, you tell them what you’re going to do. Theresa May is a control freak. You don’t seek permission from a control freak, you present them with a fait accompli. We are not asking Theresa what the time is. We’ll tell her. And the clock is ticking.


 

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Thick skin in a leather factory

Theresa May appeared before the House of Commons Liaison Committee this morning to speak about her Brexit plans. Committee members were keen to ask her what her Plan B was in the likely event that her deal would not attract the support of sufficient MPs in order to pass through parliament. Remember Plan Bs? There was a time when pressing politicians on their Plan B was all the rage, but that was before Brexit happened and the realisation that no one had a Plan A, least of all the Conservatives.

She was asked by a Conservative MP on the committee what she’d learned from the past two and half years. There are many accurate answers to that question. She could have said that having a Plan A before pressing the Article 50 button might, in retrospect, have been a good idea. She could have said that she now realised that the swivel eyed ideologues on the Tory right were never going to be placated no matter what she’d done, so she’d have been a whole lot more successful by pissing them off at the start of the proceedings and getting it over with. She could have said that she now realised that there are wood yards in the Midlands which contain planks which are less thick than David Davis, and which might have made a better fist out of negotiating with the EU. She could have said that she’d learned absolutely bugger all, which would at least have had the benefit of honesty.

Instead, in response to the committee members’ questions, Theresa said, “Wibble, wibble, wibble. I’ve been very clear. Bzzzt. Does not compute. Shhhhhhszzzz. Best deal for Britain. Ptang ptang whoop.” So we’re delighted that that has been cleared up. And to be fair it was the most reasonable and sensible thing that Theresa has said all week.

Certainly she didn’t say much that was sensible, interesting, or even truthful, when she made her flying visit to consult with the people of Scotland about her Brexit deal. Or to be more precise, her flying visit to pontificate at a group of unwilling and unwary workers in a leather factory in Bridge of Weir. People who’d just turned up for their shifts expecting to put in a day’s work polishing leather, only to discover that they were now being expected to polish the thick skin of the Prime Minister. And without any bonus payments, or even danger money for having to come close to such a radioactive politician.

The location of her visit was kept secret from the press until the very last minute, just in case some members of the Scottish public turned up expecting to be consulted. Even though it was Bridge of Weir on a wet and windy winter’s day which isn’t exactly the most bustling of places at the best of times, you could never be too certain. The National wasn’t one of those newspapers blessed with an invite to bask in the presence of St Theresa, because expecting that she was going to give answers to questions put to her by independence supporters was more of a miracle than anyone could expect.

There are precious few means for Scotland to hold Westminster to account as it is. Our media is overwhelmingly servile and submissive when it comes to Westminster. For the British government to refuse to give a press pass to Scotland’s single pro-independence newspaper demonstrates that the British government has no intention of engaging with that part of Scotland’s population which wants independence. They have no desire or interest in persuading us of the benefits of the UK. Instead they want to marginalise and ignore us. The reason for that is because they have no arguments to make. If the Prime Minister of the UK can’t make the case for this so-called Union, no one can, because there is no case to make. Meanwhile the UK continues its descent into a has-been state where democracy is respected in form but not substance.

What Theresa told us can be divided into two categories. That which was truthful, and that which made sense. Unfortunately the parts which made sense were not truthful, and the parts which were truthful made no sense. She told us that she’d negotiated the best deal for Scotland, which was a lie. She told us that the Scottish Government needs to stop talking about independence, which made no sense, since it’s only independence that can get us that best deal that Theresa can’t negotiate for us. In any event, the people in Scotland who talk most about independence are Theresa’s own pals in the Scottish Conservative party. If Theresa could tell them to stop banging on about independence and instead concentrate on making sure that Scotland’s voice was heard within her own government she’d actually be performing a public service.

Scotland has not been consulted during the Brexit process. The Scottish government has barely been kept informed, and that always after the event. At every stage in the proceedings Theresa May has treated Scotland with contempt and has taken this country for granted. Now she expects us to be fobbed off with a three hour flying visit to a factory conveniently located near enough to the airport to ensure that she need not spend a second longer than necessary to get a few sound bites for the evening news. That’s what passes for the respect agenda. That’s what passes for Scotland being a valued and much loved partner in a family of nations. This is Theresa’s precious union. It’s so precious that she doesn’t want to speak to any part of it that might tell her something she doesn’t want to hear.

Theresa May can’t talk sense because there is no sense to be had in a Brexit Britain. The truth is that Brexit is an English nationalist project, driven by right wing English nationalists, appealing to those who still dream of Empire and who have not reconciled themselves to the true position of the UK in the 21st century. It’s a project founded on fantasy and fueled by lies. All that is left for Scotland is to do what Theresa doesn’t want us to do, to keep talking about independence – but more importantly, to act on it. She came to Scotland to tell us that now is not the time. We’ll be telling you when the time is Theresa. The Brexit clock is ticking on your government. The time is coming very soon and no amount of thick skin in a leather factory is going to stop her feeling it.


 

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Theresa’s listening exercise

Theresa May is on tour in what she fondly imagines to be a listening exercise, or at least what she thinks we will be fooled into thinking is a listening exercise. She’s visiting Wales and Northern Ireland in an attempt to sell her Brexit deal. Scotland is supposed to be in line for a patronisation soon. Or more accurately, another patronisation. Theresa will wheech in, do a tour of some business establishment owned by a Conservative friendly businessperson, while staff look on wordlessly. She’ll smile her rictus grin at the cameras, mouth a few platitudes about getting the best Brexit deal for Scotland, about how it’s not the time for another referendum Scottish or otherwise. Then she’ll give non-answers to questions from the press, if at all, and will promptly wheech off again. Job done. You’ll have had your consultation Scotland.

It’s a measure of the disconnect between the Prime Minister and the public, indeed the rest of the world, that she imagines that this sort of manufactured exercise in walkaboutery is actually meaningful in any sense. It provides the form of listening to the people without any of the messy content of actually listening to the people. If she really wanted to hear what the people have to say, she could do that. She could allow another referendum, but she’s not going to do that because if she did and people voted not to leave the EU after all, she’d have to resign. In Theresaland, people are only allowed to voice their opinions when their opinions happen to be what Theresa wants to hear, which is why she doesn’t want another Scottish referendum either.

This pointless meet n greet n run away is precisely the opposite of hearing what the country has to say. It would be a far more productive use of everyone’s time if Theresa went off on one of her walking holidays and spent a fortnight chatting to some sheep deep in the countryside of rural Somewhereshire. We’d all get a break from her, and Theresa would have a receptive audience for a change. An audience which wouldn’t contradict her.

It’s not just that Theresa May doesn’t want the public to have a say, she doesn’t want the House of Commons to have a say either. She had to be dragged screaming and kicking into allowing MPs a meaningful vote on her Brexit deal, and did her utmost to try and make the meaningful vote as meaningless as just about anything that ever comes out of Ross Thomson’s gob.

She has fought tooth and nail against the legal attempt to get a European Court of Justice ruling on whether the House of Commons can unilaterally put a halt to the Article 50 process, without the permission of the rest of the EU. At every step along the way the British government has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal bids to halt the proceedings, to no avail. That ECJ ruling is due today, Tuesday.

Despite a vote being passed in the House of Commons telling the government to release the full legal advice that it has received on Brexit, Theresa has refused to do so. Instead her government has released a brief summary, which satisfies none of the opposition parties. The offer to release the summary was made by David Lidington, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, in an attempt to get the motion calling for a full release to be withdrawn. The motion wasn’t withdrawn, and passed unanimously after the government decided to abstain.

This, let’s not forget, is the same government that says it’s pursuing Brexit in order to restore the sovereignty of the British parliament. We now have a British government which claims to be working to restore full powers to the House of Commons, which is deliberately ignoring a binding vote taken by that same House of Commons obliging the government to do something it doesn’t like. That’s British sovereignty for you. If this UK government isn’t prepared to pay heed to a binding vote taken by the House of Commons, Scotland, you’ve got nae chance.

For a woman who says she wants to listen, Theresa is doing a very good impression of someone sticking her fingers in her ears and screaming la-la-la-la at the top of her voice. Which to be fair is still more meaningful than anything Ross Thomson has to say. There comes a point when a refusal to listen, a determination to plough on regardless, crosses the line between strength of character and resolution and enters into pigheaded delusion. Theresa May and her hapless government crossed that line quite some time ago.

Meanwhile the only serious government in the UK is the Scottish one. The Scottish government has published a 20 page report detailing the effects of Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Scotland. A Scotland which, let us not forget, voted to remain a part of the EU by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Theresa’s deal makes every person in Scotland £1610 worse off – worse than the economic hit that Better Together claimed we’d get if we’d voted for independence in 2014. It shows that investment in Scottish industry will be 7.7% down compared to what it would be if we retain full access to the EU’s single market and customs union. Theresa’s much vaunted end to freedom of movement will have a severe impact on key parts of the Scottish economy, especially tourism and the health and care sectors, which rely on workers from EU countries. There is no guarantee that existing environmental standards will be maintained, and in fact they can’t be if the UK seeks a free trade deal with the likes of the USA or Australia.

In every aspect, Scotland is worse off because of this Conservative government. We were promised the safety and security of the UK, but all we receive is economic uncertainty, job losses, and years of future negotiations between a weakened UK and the EU with no certain outcome. We have a UK government that governs by threat, by intimidation, by fear, and by scare stories. We have no voice in this so-called Union despite being told very recently that Scotland, a constituent member, a founding member, of the United Kingdom, is a valued and equal partner in a family of nations. Instead, all our futures, all our wellbeing, all our opportunities are sacrificed on the altar of a xenophobic foreigner-fearing English nationalism that wraps itself up in a Union fleg so it can pretend to itself that it’s not nationalist at all. Those Scottish Conservatives who said they’d speak up for Scotland within this fictitious union, they’ve decided that their role is to speak for the UK government in Scotland, not to speak for Scotland in the UK government.

We’re reaching the end game now. The end game for Brexit, and the end game for this supposed United Kingdom. One way or another there’s going to be a vote, whether that’s a General Election or a second EU referendum, and if neither of those happens soon, there will be a Scottish independence referendum. When that vote happens, Theresa May and the Conservatives will be made to listen. That’s going to be a listening exercise that really counts and really means something. Theresa is not going to like what the people of Scotland have to say.


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A Scottish reply to Theresa’s letter

Dear Theresa,

Thank you for your begging letter. However let’s not be too churlish, congratulations are in order. The UK was divided as never before, fearful of the future, angry and anxious, and against all the odds you have managed to unite this disunited and dysfunctional kingdom. Everyone thinks that your deal sucks.

You ask for everyone to get behind you. That’s pretty rich. You started Brexit negotiations by deciding to ignore the wishes of that half of the UK which had voted to remain, and by deciding unilaterally that those who had voted to leave wanted the hardest possible Brexit. At every stage in these sorry proceedings you were motivated first and foremost by your own career interests, and then by keeping your miserable and fractious party together. Your plan was, and is, to do whatever it takes to further the interests of the Conservative party, and now you have the nerve to write to the people of the UK begging us to get behind you in the national interest.

You began in bad faith and have continued the same way. You initiated the Article 50 process without having a clear plan other than wishful thinking and the unshakeable belief that the EU owed the UK its cake and its cherries because Britain is special. You activated Article 50 when you did because local elections in England were looming. Securing a greater number of Conservative councillors in the shires of England was far more important to you than this so-called national interest which you’re now pleading with us to get behind.

You compounded our view that you were acting purely in your own selfish self-interest by embarking upon an entirely unnecessary general election at a crucial point, at a point when the UK should have been framing a coherent and cohesive set of Brexit plans. Instead you decided that it was an ideal time to try and get one up on the Labour party and secure a large majority for your visionless Brexit, your blank Euro cheque. And you failed. You ended up losing the majority that you did have. The people of the UK told you plainly that we didn’t want your hard nose Brexit that pandered to the Tory right, and yet you ploughed on regardless. Nothing has changed.

Throughout this entire sorry and miserable past two and a half years, you have acted selfishly and mendaciously. And now you wonder why we’re not prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt.

You speak of your precious Union, but you’ve done the square root of hee haw to demonstrate that you understand what a Union means. To you, this precious Union means that Scotland is under your thumb. We have watched you Theresa. We have seen how you revel in power, how you seek control, how you avoid accountability. We know what you mean when you tell us how precious this so-called Union is to you. It means that you believe Scotland to be your possession, your toy, a pretty bauble of a nation that allows you to pretend that your xenophobic foreigner blaming British nationalism isn’t nationalism at all.

You were amongst those telling Scotland in 2014 that this country of ours could only remain a member of the EU by voting to remain a part of the UK. In 2016 Scotland voted to remain a part of the EU by a much larger margin than it voted to remain in the UK. You insisted that the UK took the EU vote as a whole and would leave as a whole. You insisted that no part of the UK was going to be treated differently. Throughout the past two and a half years you have ignored the Scottish governnment, you have treated Scotland with contempt. You have demonstrated that Scotland being a part of this so-called precious Union means that Scotland doesn’t have a voice, Scotland doesn’t get a say, Scotland’s needs will not factor into your calculations.

We’ve seen Northern Ireland getting a special deal. We’ve seen Gibraltar being treated differently. Both of those parts of Brexitland have an independent state putting pressure on your government and standing up to you. What that tells us in Scotland is that the British government will only listen to the will of the Scottish people if we too have an independent state standing up for us. Because you sure as hell won’t. You don’t know the difference between member nation in a precious union and a satrapy. We’ve seen how Dublin has been in a position to dictate terms to you Theresa. We’ve seen how you’ve marginalised, sidelined, and ignored Edinburgh. So we look to Dublin and we think to ourselves – we could do with some of that. As it stands all we have is a David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet. There are stuffed Hielan coos with tartan bunnets in airport gift shops who do a better job of representing Scotland than him.

Even worse than that, you have used Brexit as a tool to undermine the entire devolution process. You have unilaterally up-ended the principle of the devolution settlement, against the express wishes of the Scottish Parliament, a principle which the people of Scotland voted for overwhelmingly in the referendum of 1997, a principle which the people of Scotland reinforced in the referendum of 2014 when the British parties assured us that a no vote meant stronger and better devolution. What was that about respecting the will of the people Theresa? What was that about respecting the result of the referendum? It seems that no longer applies when it stands in the way of the Conservative party getting what the Conservative party wants.

At every step in this Brexit process, your government has been characterised by selfish self-interest, by mendacity, by greed, by stupidity. You’ve spent the past two and a half years negotiating with your own party. The UK interest hasn’t got a look in, never mind the interests of Scotland. And now you want Scotland to get behind your deal Theresa? Well in your own words: now is not the time.

Now is the time for us to prepare to have a vote on our own future. Now is the time for Scotland to learn the lessons of Brexit and put them into effect. And what we have learned Theresa, the lesson that you yourself have taught us, is that you will only listen to Scotland, you will only pay Scotland heed, you will only treat the people of Scotland with respect, if Scotland is represented by the independent government of an independent Scottish state. Now is the time for Scotland to decide what path it’s going to take. It’s not the path that meekly follows you.  Now is the time for Scotland to say, we’ve had enough.

You’ve brought this upon yourself.

xx

Millions of angry Scottish people


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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.

Ireland’s superpower is independence

There’s a new and deeply unpleasant narrative developing amongst Brexits. Although to be honest this is scarcely unsurprising since Brexit was always a deeply unpleasant narrative in the first place. However now that the Brexit pigeons have come home to roost and have crapped all over Liam Fox and David Davis, someone has to be blamed. Admittedly Boris Johnson always looks like a bird has just crapped on him, and Ross Thomson looks like something a bird has just crapped, but still. The failure of Brexit is everyone’s fault except those who foisted it upon us all in the first place. It’s not because Brexit always involved wishing for contradictory things simultaneously. It’s not because Brexit always rested up a sense of English exceptionalism and the mistaken belief that the UK merits special treatment. It’s not because the Brexists never had a plan other than wishful thinking. It’s not because the UK’s negotiating strategy has made being woefully unprepared look like German efficiency. It’s all someone else’s fault.

All has been answered in an article this week in Freuzheur Neaulseun’s Spectator magazine. Or to give it its proper title, Irritable Vowel Syndrome Weekly. The piece identifies the villains who are responsible for the failure of Theresa May’s government to negotiate a deal that allows the UK to leave the EU and swan off into a magical land of favourable trade deals and bonfires of restrictive regulations – which is how Tories like to describe your employment and civil rights – while at the same time retaining all the benefits and advantages of EU membership with none of the associated costs and obligations. Naturally, none of it is the fault of the Brexists.

It’s the fault of the civil service. It’s the fault of anti-democratic mandarins. It’s the fault of Europhile politicians. It’s the fault of the Labour party. It’s the fault of corporate interests. It’s the fault of weak leadership and a remainer media. It’s the fault of everyone who isn’t prepared to click the heels of their ruby red white and blue slippers together and say there’s no place like the 1950s. But mostly, it’s the fault of the Irish government. That’s whose fault it is, “We’d have got away with it if it wasn’t for the uppity Irish.” According to the Spectator piece, the Taoiseach has an incentive to make the Brits sweat because he leads a minority government and needs the support of Irish nationalists. Irish nationalism bad, British nationalism good. That whole Irish border issue, it’s just exaggeration in order to do Britain down. Dublin has both danced to the EU’s tune, and wilfully egged on the EU not to give the UK what Britain needs.

I wish British nationalists would make their minds up about Ireland. Either the Dublin government is stirring up the Irish border issue, or it’s a tool of faceless anti-democratic bureaucracy and is doing what it’s told by France and Germany. Which is a bad thing, because really Dublin ought to be doing what it’s told by London. That’s the natural order of British things.

Deep down in the soul of a British nationalist there is the unshakeable belief that every other country on the planet ought to prioritise the interests of Britain over their own. Actually you don’t have to dig down that deep in order to find it. There’s not much in the way of depth in your average Daily Mail editorial. The Little England nationalism that dresses itself up in the Union fleg in order to tell itself that it’s better than anyone else’s nationalism because it’s not nationalist at all, everyone else owes the UK. To their way of thinking, the Irish government has no business protecting the interests of Ireland as a member of the EU. Doing so is just yet another example of Irish antipathy towards the Brits.

Ireland of course has every right to take whatever steps it deems necessary to mitigate the baleful effects of Brexit upon its economy. It’s not Ireland which harbours dreams of being a major player in world affairs. It’s not Ireland which imagines that it possesses the economic heft to strike favourable trade deals with countries around the world. It’s not Ireland which suffers from the delusion that the rest of the world owes us a favour because we won the war you know.

However British nationalists believe that Ireland must sacrifice its national interests on the altar of Brexit in order to make Brexit work for Britain, and Ireland’s refusal to do so is nothing more than ill-will and grudges born out of ancient history. Hence the article in the Spectator claiming that at a time when Britain needs Ireland’s help and goodwill, the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has offered neither. Instead, he’s prioritised Ireland’s interests. Imagine that eh? The UK takes a reckless and ill-considered decision based upon lies and a pauchled referendum, a decision that threatens to damage Ireland’s economy and the fragile Peace Process, and Brexists are annoyed that Ireland isn’t enthusiastically helping the UK to destroy itself.

British nationalists react with surprise and scorn because the sovereign government of an independent Irish state prioritises its own interests and does what it can to enlist the support of other EU member states to bolster its position. British nationalists regard this as a form of betrayal. What goes for Ireland, goes for Scotland in spades. British nationalists do not believe that Scotland has any right to any sort of input into the Brexit process at all.

British nationalism is the unshakeable belief that everything on this planet revolves around the needs and concerns of the British state. Or more exactly the Little England part of it. It’s a world view which cannot countenance how Ireland can dare to act in its own interests. It’s a world view which cannot countenance how Scotland can have any interests of its own at all.

Brexit has exposed the weakness of the British state, and the myths which underpin it. Ireland, as a member of the EU, is able to dictate to the British state. It reverses the position of hundreds of years when Ireland was told what to do by Britain, often at the point of a sword or the barrel of a gun. British nationalists cannot get their heads around the fact that the boot is now firmly on the other foot.

And all we can do in Scotland is to look on enviously as Dublin tells London how things are going to be. We continue to be ignored, sidelined and marginalised. We’re being treated the way that Westminster wants to treat Ireland, but can’t. The power of the Dublin government in the Brexit debate shows what you can do as an independent state. Ireland’s superpower is independence. As an independent state Scotland would be amongst those dictating the course of Brexit. As it is, all we have is a David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet.


 

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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.