The crazy you get when opinion becomes fact

opinionfactBrexit has been pretty much defined by batshit insanity, but this week has seen a development that is way out there in the far reaches of gibberage even by the standards of a campaign which hails Jacob Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson as heroes. Someone whose grasp on reality is even more tenuous than a Daily Mail leader writer has started a petition to the Westminster parliament, calling on the Republic of Ireland to solve all the problems of the backstop by returning to British rule. Yeah. You read that right. This is a real thing. At the time of writing the petition had attracted over 2500 signatures of presumably grown up people who have at least as much wherewithall as it takes to use a keyboard.

The petition calls on Westminster to offer “full UK membership so they can rejoin the Union”. In other words, he thinks that the British government should ask the Irish if they want to be represented in the British cabinet by a Tory mouthpiece who isn’t representative of Irish opinion and who won’t resign even though he or she signally fails to stand up for Irish interests. We know that because it’s what Scotland has got. This is what “full membership of the UK” entails. It entails being sidelined, marginalised, and ignored. It means being sacrificed on the altar of British nationalist exceptionalism.

But hey, who needs an independent government able to make it own alliances and agreements with other countries in order to protect its interests when you can have David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet. It’s a remarkable propostion, but what is most remarkable of all is that the originator of this petition thinks that the Irish might say, “OK, we’ll go for that.”

The assumptions underlying the thought processes of the person who began this petition, a certain Scott Packer, deserve to be examined more closely. If only so that we can point and laugh at them, assuming that is that Scott is genuine and not some genius of political surrealism. Mind you, it’s hard to tell the difference these days, since the entire Brexit process is so unmoored from reality that it counts as an exercise in Dadaist performance art all by itself.

The most obvious is why is he petitioning Westminster at all? It’s not up to them whether or not Ireland becomes a part of the UK. That would be up to the Irish. Surely he should be petitioning the Dáil. Scott seems to suffer from the delusion that the only thing that prevents the Republic of Ireland from coming back under Westminster rule is the forgetfulness of a Westminster which hasn’t thought to ask it to come back. But in the world of the Brexist the only parliament which matters is the Westminster one, at least when it’s not trying to put obstacles in the way of the great Brexit unicorn chase that is.

If Ireland was a member of the British family it was a beaten and abused one. The Plantations, the Famine, the forced emigrations and dispossession, the lesser legal status of the native Irish, the partition, the wars, the institutionalised sectarianism of the Northern Irish statelet, none of that matters. Ireland’s true place is to make sure that the English nationalists who drive Brexit get what they want.

All of this would just be the online silliness of some random punter if it were not for the fact that the sentiments the petition expresses appear to be shared quite widely amongst the unicorn herders of Brexit. Just a few days ago, the veteran BBC presenter John Humphries asked the Irish Europe Minister Helen McEntee why Ireland didn’t throw in its lot “with this country”. He was apparently serious.

Last May, there was an article in the supposedly serious right wing digital magazine ThinkScotland, which is edited by Scotsman contributor and former Conservative MSP Brian Monteith. Entitled Is it not time for Ireland to come home? This article, quite incredibly, managed to blame Sinn Fein for the Partition.

The piece articulated the same sentiment as Scott’s petition and mused upon how great it would be for Britain and Brexit if Ireland stopped staying out late with the Germans, the French, and the Italians and “came home” to Westminster, where it could enjoy being told what to do and having no control over its money. Although if it was a very good and well behaved island, Westminster might give it some pocket money.

Well I say the article articulated the same sentiment as the petition, it was more like being hugged by an abusive drunk in a bar who kept saying, “I really lovesh you. Honesht,” even though it wasn’t that long ago that he had beaten you up, stolen your rent money, and thrown up all over your good shoes, and then he had blamed you for it. So not so much ThinkScotland as InsanelyDeludingYourselfScotland.

http://www.thinkscotland.org/thinkpolitics/articles.html?read_full=13538&article=www.thinkscotland.org

But all of this crazy is very much in line with how the Brexit process has developed. Brexit is a process of delusion, a species of self-deception. It’s founded upon the principle that the UK is special and uniquely kind and generous and that one of the most rapacious empires the planet has ever seen was motivated purely by altruism.

All these delusions are fed by the British press. It’s a media which doesn’t present news, but rather views, and it’s a media which is controlled by a small cabal of right wing multimillionaires. It’s a media which propounds false views, like the established truth of austerity, or that there is a trade deal bonanza to be had once the UK leaves the EU.

When confronted by one person insisting that it’s raining outside and another who claims that it’s dry and sunny, the British media insists that balance means presenting both claims equally. It doesn’t believe in giving the truth and explaining the facts. It doesn’t believe in looking out of the window. So Brexit is mired in claim and counter claim, in fictions which are given as much credence as fact.

The presentation of opinion as fact by the British media means that people end up believing that any sort of counterfactual nonsense is a serious and credible possibility. So they believe that Ireland deciding to submit itself once more to the Westminster Parliament is a realistic prospect. They believe that the UK is oppressed by Brussels. They believe that there is such a thing as a good Brexit. Or they believe that Scotland with its embarrassment of resources, its highly educated populace, and its diverse and strong economy is too poor to be a successful and prosperous independent nation. That’s the crazy that you get when opinion is presented as fact.

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve started to commence every new post with a brand new and custom designed meme. It’s a lot more work as I design and create them myself, but I’m told that it helps to spread the blog on social media. Young people today, etc etc. I am trying to diversify the blog’s content, so as well as the usual writing, you get the weekly podcast and now graphics as well. Feel free to download and distribute the memes in Facebook, Twitter, or wherever. Just right click, and select “save image as”.


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The two pronged approach

subordinateandsilencedOver the weekend the SNP’s former Westminster leader Angus Robertson announced the launch of a new think tank, Progress Scotland, which aims to build the case for independence by examining the arguments most persuasive to those who previously voted No. The initiative was backed by Murray Foote, the former editor of the Record responsible for the infamous Vow, and Sir David Edward, the former UK judge on the European Court of Justice, who says he is now leaning toward the idea of independence although he confesses to some fears and reservations.

Naturally the usual suspects were not pleased. The SiU’s green ink brigade were out in force and infesting the comments section of online editions with their usual nastiness, deflection, whataboutery, and general biliousness. They are a perfect summation of the character of the British state they effect to defend, nasty, nit-picking, jealous, and totally bereft of anything positive. How dare a pro-independence initiative crowd fund eh? Why, they should just do what pro-UK organisations do, and secretly suck at the teat of the very rich and well connected, because that’s so much more morally superior.

But not all the critics were supporters of the British state. There’s been a bit of harrumphage and sniffy disdain in certain quarters of the more self-righteous wing of the Scottish independence movement about some newcomers to the cause who spoke up in support of Progress Scotland. Some were suspicious of the motives of those who are fresh to the cause. Others can’t get over the hurt that they felt because of the actions of prominent supporters of the No campaign in 2014 who are now supporting Yes. Yet others simply don’t believe that the change of heart and mind is genuine.

However the reality is that unless we persuade soft Noes to come over to Yes, we’re not going to win independence. That means that in order to build a majority, we need to attract the support of people who supported the No cause in 2014. The more prominent that person was in their support for No in 2014, the greater the influence that they are able to have on other soft Noes who are now wavering in their support for the British state because of the mess of Brexit. If you are a committed supporter of independence and have been for years, that’s great, but you’re not the target audience here.

When you read the reasons that these prominent No voters give for coming over to the cause of independence, it is striking that they don’t talk so much about the positive reasons for independence, but rather more about their disenchantment and loss of faith in the institutions of the British state and the ability of the UK to represent Scotland and defend Scottish interests.

So for example David Edwards speaks about the choice he now feels he is confronted with between the “undoubted uncertainties of independence and on the other exit from the EU, and being ruled by people in London who don’t understand or believe in the constitutional implications of the devolution settlement.”

Murray Foote writes, “With mounting anger I’ve watched the Westminster Government choose to inflict vindictive policies across Britain. And, despite overwhelming evidence, they continue to deny the damage their policies cause.
Now we teeter on the brink of Brexit, an act of self-harm for which future generations will pay a heavy price. Again, Brexit is a choice. But it’s not Scotland’s choice. Throughout this unfolding calamity, the Westminster Government has treated Scotland’s democratic preferences with shameful contempt.”

What is striking is that for both men, their movement towards Yes does not seem to have been driven primarily by a positive belief in the advantages of independence, but rather more because of a loss of faith and disenchantment with the British state. Other prominent No supporters who have come over to Yes and who write about their change of heart on the Progress Scotland page likewise talk mainly about their loss of trust and belief in the institutions of the British state more than they talk about their positive belief in the opportunities of an independent Scotland.

So clearly we need a two pronged approach in order to ensure that we convert as many wavering No voters as possible. That’s the best way to skewer the arguments of opponents of independence. A two pronged attack is twice as effective. A battery zaps because it has both a positive and a negative pole. We need to reassure them about the advantages of independence, and also reinforce their concerns about the failures of the UK.

Yes, it is vitally important that we continue to talk up the positives of independence. The moral and democratic arguments for independence are unassailable and hugely important. We have a convincing economic case too, albeit one that struggles to get through the fog of distraction blown out by the Scottish media. It remains extremely important that we have the answers to questions about independence that wavering voters are likely to demand of us.

But what an examination of the words of those who have come over to Yes teaches us is that it is also important that we talk more about the negatives, disadvantages, and damage created for Scotland by the British state. That was something that we didn’t do much in 2014, concerned as we were to present a positive and happy clappy case for independence. We conceded the negative arguments entirely to our opponents. The next time we must not make the same mistake. We must be loud and vocal about the downsides and disadvantages to Scotland if it remains a subordinate and sidelined part of the British state.

Brexit makes that task so much easier, as it has destroyed many of the perceived advantages of the UK. The contempt with which Scotland has been treated by Westminster since 2014 makes that task easier still, as we can now contrast the promises made by the Westminster establishment in 2014 with what has actually transpired, and in every case they come up wanting. The Brexit process has taught us that there is a country in the British Isles which is a valued and equal partner in a family of nations. That country is Ireland within the EU. Ireland had partners which respect it and who listen to its concerns. Scotland within the UK is subordinate and silenced.

However what remains most important of all if we are to win is that when previous opponents do come over to our side, we must welcome them with open arms and warm hearts, no matter what damage they did to the independence movement in 2014. There is a simple equation, the more damage that they did to Scottish nationalism in 2014, the more damage they are able to do to British nationalism now, and that’s why the SiU online trolls have been out in force. We’ve got them rattled.

 


 

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Three good reasons

So we know now that the Queen is going to be safe after Brexit. Isn’t that nice. It’s just a shame that the rest of us are going to be royally screwed. Contingency plans are in place to evacuate the Royals in the event of civil unrest after Brexit. I thought she already spent most of her time in Norfolk, which let’s face it is about as far from civilisation as it’s possible to get. Anyway, the biggest threat to her safety is the refusal of her family to wear seatbelts or be bound by the Highway Code.

There are also plans in place to cope with shortages of food and medicine and the government is readying the army to go onto the streets to keep the populace in place. It’s all a very far cry from the sunlit uplands and Brexit representing great and exciting new opportunities. When they told us that Brexit was going to open up a whole new exciting vista of opportunities we didn’t think that they meant opportunities for looting and rioting.

This is the quality of intellect that is possessed by the British establishment. “We are worried that there may be civil unrest because of Brexit. We need to make plans to evacuate the queen so she isnt attacked.” “Think we should reconsider?” “No, Brexit is the will of the people.”

This is the magnitude of the crisis that the British state has got itself into, yet still we have obstensibly serious commentators insisting that it’s a “fact” that there can be no independence referendum until after the charges against Alex Salmond have been resolved. We are told that we must wait, silently and obediently, until the legal case has been settled one way or the other.

Actually, it’s not a fact at all. For three very good reasons.

Firstly there is the reason that the crisis of Brexit is so huge that it is a moral and political imperative that the people of Scotland are able to express their views on it. What British nationalists are arguing is that the people of Scotland cannot have their say on the most important political crisis to afflict the British state since WW2, because of some unrelated legal questions affecting a prominent individual. That is clearly a nonsense.

People in Scotland know that their jobs, their futures, their opportunities, and their livelihoods are not at risk because of any allegations of sexual impropriety made against a former First Minister. Their futures and livelihoods are at risk because of Brexit and the failures of the British state. Brexit is a massive and all-consuming crisis. It is an existential crisis of the British state and the British political establishment. The response to it cannot and must not be determined by the short term difficulties of what is essentially a personal matter. That would be a betrayal of democracy and the prioritising of the needs of an individual or a political party above the needs of the country. That’s the kind of mindset which led to the mess of Brexit in the first place.

Secondly there is the reason that the question of independence is far bigger than the personal legal issues faced by any one individual, legal issues which have nothing to do with the question of independence. The independence vote in 2014 was not “Alex Salmond’s referendum”, despite the best, and repeated, efforts of the British media to insist that it was. Independence is about the future of Scotland, not about the future of one man. No one denies that Alex Salmond was, and is, a hugely important and influential person in the independence movement, but this movement is not his creature. To delay a future independence vote because of the current legal issues being faced by Alex is to concede that that independence vote is after all “Alex Salmond’s referendum”. That personalises the case for independence. It makes it about one man, when it is really about over 5 million of us.

And thirdly there’s the reason that the wheels of justice turn very slowly. I have no idea what might happen with Alex Salmond’s legal case. It may be months before the Procurator Fiscal’s office decides that the case should be heard, if indeed that is what the Procurator Fiscal decides. It may be months after that before a date is set for the court case. And if there is a court hearing that hearing could potentially take many weeks, if not months or years. We do not suspend democracy because of criminal allegations made against an individual, allegations which, let us not forget, are not of a political nature. We are being told that democracy in Scotland must be suspended for an indeterminate period, so that legal matters which have no impact upon the lives of the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland can be decided.

There’s another, related, argument which the time it takes for legal matters to be settled throws up against the lazy assumption that no revisiting of the independence vote is possible for now. Complex criminal court cases are often delayed or postponed. However until the matter is resolved, the case remains subjudice. This means that there is in fact a political argument for pressing ahead with a vote on independence before any possible trial takes place, because as long as the matter is subjudice the British nationalist parties will not be legally permitted to reference it in their campaign. They cannot bring the subject up, and no one can speak about the issues it raises.

If the court case against Alex Salmond creates a political reason for influencing the timing of a referendum on independence, it doesn’t create a reason for delaying. It does the opposite.  It creates a reason for pressing ahead with an early referendum.

Whatever happens with Alex Salmond’s legal difficulties, the arguments for independence remain unchanged. The truth is that the very same people who are now saying it’s a “fact” that there can be no referendum until this legal issue is settled are the very same people who don’t want an independence vote to be held at all. After this legal matter is concluded the opponents of independence will just find some other spurious reason why Scotland can’t possibly be permitted to have its say on Brexit and the place and role of Scotland within the UK. We must not listen to them.


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The Wee Ginger Dugcast : with James Dornan

jamesdornananddug
This week’s special guest on the dugcast is Glasgow MSP James Dornan. We chat about Brexit, the week in Holyrood and the Scottish budget, and of course the broken union and a future indy ref.

 


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Budgeting for stupid

A deal has been struck between the SNP minority administration and the Scottish Greens to get the budget passed. Some SNP supporters had criticised the Greens for not immediately signing up to the budget but insisting on some compromises that they can accept as the price for their votes. It’s unfair to criticise a different political party for being a different political party. No one criticises the Conservatives for being a different party with different policies. We criticise them for being cruel and heartless basterts who only care about high earning motorists and the financial interests of disaster capitalists.

The Greens have their own agenda and their own priorities. But unlike certain other parties represented in Holyrood, they are prepared to be reasonable and are prepared to compromise. Concessions were made by the SNP on local government funding, and a firm commitment and timetable given to look again at the long standing proposal to replace the council tax.

Compromise isn’t something that the Lib Dems understand. What they do understand is foot stamping and dummy throwing. Wullie Rennie has been acting like he’s only just discovered that the SNP want Scottish independence, after having noticed an SNP independence poster on a lamppost in Cowdenbeath on the number 17 bus route to Kelty. Wullie then made the ridiculous precondition of refusing to support the Scottish budget, any Scottish budget, unless the SNP drop their commitment to independence. That’s like the SNP refusing to support some Lib Dem policy unless Wullie drops one of the defining and core policies of his party, like proportional representation for Westminister elections, or telling big fat lies during elections.

The Tories spent the budget debate harrumphing. Admittedly that’s what they do all the time anyway, so no great change there then. They’re taking a cue from the behaviour of their colleagues in the House of Commons, where the government’s policy in dealing with Scotland consists of braying loudly and shouting insults over the top of whatever it is that a non-Conservative Scottish MP wants to say. There’s that respect agenda for you, but the truth is that the only things that the Tories respect are the monarchy, landed estates, and hedge funds.

The Tories in Holyrood are upset that no one is thinking about those poor high earning motorists or disaster capitalists. It’s difficult for the Conservatives to work themselves into a lather about the underfunding of public services, because they want to privatise them all. That doesn’t stop them however. Not even although it’s a Conservative government in Westminster which ultimately holds the purse strings and so forces any Scottish government, irrespective of which party is in power in Holyrood, to pass on Tory austerity. If the Tories got their way there would be tuition fees, there would be a charge for prescriptions, no free primary school meals, no free care for the elderly, and parking charges at hospitals. That’s the same Tories who are now complaining about a small tax on large businesses who offer free parking to employees.

Murdo Fraser got very upset about the lack of consideration shown in the budget to his colleagues who own vast tracts of the Highlands. Murdo Fraser’s intervention caused hilarity, which is what Murdo is best known for, as MSPs pointed at the landowners and lairds sitting beside Murdo on the Tory benches. The SNP’s Roseanna Cunningham laughed so hard that she fell off her seat. Literally, not figuratively. But it was still an achievement for Murdo. The small bruise on Roseanna’s backside is the biggest political impression that Murdo has ever made.

Murdo was just the comedy warm up for the main comedic turn, which would be the Labour party in Scotland. Labour doesn’t want Scotland to control its own finances either, but that doesn’t stop them from insisting that the fixed budget of Holyrood is “SNP cuts”. Labour has fought tooth and nail to prevent Holyrood having substantial tax raising powers of its own. It has set its face against allowing Holyrood to have meaningful borrowing powers. It has fought for a Holyrood which is entirely financially dependent upon whatever Westminster chooses to allot to it, but it still insists that cuts to the Scottish budget are “SNP cuts”.

Prior to the debate, Labour’s deputy leader Alex Rowley had proposed to the SNP that Labour could support the budget provided there was a substantial increase in the funding for local authorities. The problems were twofold, firstly the proposed increase would mean a 3% reduction in every other aspect of the Scottish budget except the health budget – 3% off education, care for the elderly, mitigating the bedroom tax and all the rest. And secondly Alex hadn’t spoken to Richard Charisma Leonard about it, who slapped the overture down as soon as he heard about it. The very last thing Richard wants is anything that might deprive him of the chance to complain about how bad the SNP is.

Not that he had any proposals of his own. Labour wants an increase in the amount allocated to local authorities, which would indeed be grand. They’re just not willing to say how it should be paid for. This, remember, from a party that has done its utmost to restrict the ability of Holyrood to raise its own funds.

Not to be outdone, Neil Findlay managed to email his speech to everyone in Holyrood. Again. Some people shouldn’t be allowed near a keyboard, never mind entrusted with the power to change laws. You can’t budget for stupid.

The attitude of the British nationalist parties in Holyrood today is mirrored by their colleagues in Westminster. That’s why we’re getting the disaster of Brexit. But the good news is that unlike Westminster, the British nationalists are a minority in the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood was able to find a way forward. And for that small mercy we should be grateful.

In other news, pro-indy blogger Jason McCann has been targeted by the British nationalist media and smeared as an apologist for IRA violence. I have met Jason. We do not agree on everything, but I do know that he abhors violence. Jason is a Christian pacifist, the strongest and most defining characteristic of his politics is his commitment to non-violence. He is not now and never has been an advocate of violence in the pursuit of any political goal. He most categorically does not support a return to violence in Northern Ireland, nor does he glorify in, celebrate, or justify, the death of anyone, from any side, in the violence which has so tragically disfigured Northern Ireland in the past.

The words of Jason’s which were seized upon by the Daily Mail came from his attempt to explain to readers in Scotland how a breakdown of the Good Friday Agreement because of Brexit and the UK government’s pandering to the DUP would be perceived by hardline Irish republicans in Northern Ireland. His words were a warning of the risks of a return to violence, not as has been falsely claimed by the Daily Mail and other British nationalist media outlets in Scotland, an advocation or justification of a return to violence.

That same media is now attempting to use the comments made by Jason and taken out of context by the Daily Mail, that bastion of truth and balance, as an excuse with which to beat up the SNP. Calls are now being made for the SNP to “sever links” with Jason. He is not now and never has been a member of the SNP and has never sought to portray himself as a spokesperson for the SNP. There are no “links” to be severed.

The demonisation of Jason McCann is yet another instance of the desperation of a British nationalism which is threatened like it has never been threatened before – threatened by the shortcomings, failures, and inadequacies of a British state risking a no-deal Brexit. When we start taking the words of the Daily Mail as our moral arbiter, we’ve already lost.

Update, 8.15pm : It’s worse than I thought. The Scotsman has printed a piece about Jason in which it strongly implies that he is a Holocaust denier.  This is nothing less than grossly defamatory.  Jason not only fully accepts the historical reality of the Holocaust and does not dispute that the Nazis murdered millions of Jews, he has in fact published an academic paper examining the workings of the Nazi death machine.  His paper details how in one death camp alone, in the space of a few short months in 1944, the Nazis were responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people from the Jewish population of Hungary.  It is entitled The Mechanics of Murder, the Systematic Murder of Hungarian Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  The paper is online here

http://www.academia.edu/1982558/The_Mechanics_of_Murder


 

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That EU reply in full

Can we renegotiate the Irish backstop? The EU’s reply in full.
не
ne
ne
nej
nee
no
ei
ei
non
nein
όχι
nem
ní féidir leibh
no

ne
le
nie
não
nu
nie
ne
no
nej

Both Jean Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier have now officially responded to the UK’s demand for a reopening of negotiations and the removal of the backstop to ensure that the Irish border remains open. They said no. They said that vague aspirations for an unspecified alternative do not make a plan. They said in the clearest possible language that they are not going to renegotiate. They said that those who are now demanding a reopening of negotiations are those who themselves negotiated this deal. So why should anyone believe that the UK will adhere to any future deal that can be agreed too. They said that they did not understand the blame game that the UK is now trying to play. It was the closest thing possible that you can get while using measured and polite diplomatic language to saying “Fuck off.”

Last night the House of Commons voted for unicorns, for pots of gold at the end of the rainbow, for we-won-the-war-you-know-ism, for an unspecified spell that would wave a wand and in a magic shower of union fleg sparkles make the Irish border disappear. The EU is not going to accept it.

But far more importantly, this was a vote by the Tories and for the Tories to keep the Tory party together. A vote which, shamefully, 14 Labour MPs supported. To their eternal shame, in an ignominy which will be remembered for generations, the House of Commons decided that it was far more important to achieve a temporary truce within the Conservative party than it was to respect the Good Friday Agreement and ensure peace in Northern Ireland.

The EU, unsurprisingly, is less than impressed. Theresa May now wants to renegotiate the deal with the EU that she herself had already agreed to, and replace it with some vague alternative that she either cannot or will not define. The position of the UK is that it’s now up to the Irish and the EU to come up with a solution.  Seriously.  No wonder no one trusts the British government.

The negotiating position of the UK is now that a no deal Brexit would damage the EU and therefore the EU will fold. But that’s not how the EU sees it. As far as the EU is concerned Brexit will be a one off event from which it can recover, but the destruction of the single market and customs union which the UK is demanding will last forever. For Britain, the effects of a no deal Brexit will be far more severe, and will last forever. It’s like basing your negotiating strategy on putting a gun to your own head and insisting that you should be stopped from pulling the trigger because someone else will have to clean up the blood spatters.

The House of Commons is a pathetic sham. The two main British political parties are obsessed with scoring short term political points against one another, and incapable of seeing any larger picture. Both of them are in thrall to a myth of a Great Britain bestriding the globe like a mighty colossus, blind to the reality of a medium sized European country that cannot, will not, face up to the truth that it lost its empire generations ago. They court cataclysm because they believe that Britain is too big to fail. It cannot enter their tiny narrow little minds that the political and economic disasters which have befallen other states can befall the UK too, because in their imaginings this is an island nation protected by the unassailable moat of the English Channel.

So they lash out, blaming everyone else for their own failures and shortcomings. It’s never the fault of Blighty. It’s never the fault of Brexit. It’s the fault of the Irish for insisting that they are an independent sovereign state and acting accordingly to protect their own interests. It’s the fault of the French and the Germans for always resenting the British. It’s the fault of the Italians and the Spanish for being jealous. It’s the fault of the Scots for not believing in Britain.

What we are witnessiing in the House of Commons this week is the historic betrayal of the UK by Britain’s political parties. It’s not just Scotland which has been betrayed, sidelined, ignored and traduced. It’s everyone in the UK. The British political class has trashed any residual belief that our European allies might have had in the UK’s good faith. They have put a bonfire under the Irish peace process. They have crapped all over Scotland. And all in pursuit of solving the internal political disagreements of the Conservative party.

Labour is no better. Even now, even at this late stage, even with so little time left to go, Labour is still pursuing unicorns with equal fervour as the Tories. The party’s leadership still talks of the fantasy of a jobs first Brexit, as though there were two years left to negotiate it and not two months. The death of a second EU referendum lies at Labour’s door. The failure to wrest back control of Commons business from an overweening and arrogant minority government with dictatorial tendencies is the fault of Labour.

This is the punching above its weight that Scotland was promised in 2014. This is the respect agenda, the seat at the top table. This is the love. This is the partnership. It’s all as much of a fantasy as the Tories’ alternative arrangements or Labour’s jobs first Brexit.

Back in 2014 Scotland was told that voting for independence meant voting for a romanticised dream, that it was based on emotion and not fact. We see now that it’s Britishness which is unmoored from reality. It’s the UK which defines itself by a romantised vision of a past that never really happened. It’s the UK which trades on emotion and not fact. It’s the UK which demands entitlement and privilege that it will not get.

Common sense is often defined as something that’s self evident and therefore does not need to be proven. Back in 2014 opponents of independence were able to argue that remaining a part of the UK was common sense, that it was up to supporters of independence to prove their case. It’s no longer true that remaining a part of the UK is common sense for Scotland. In the next vote on Scottish independence, a vote which is coming soon, it will be incumbent upon opponents of independence to prove their case. And all they have are fantasies and unicorns, threats and bullying.

Scotland will become an independent nation again because the myth of the union has been destroyed by those who claim to believe in it.


 

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The red white and blue unicorn tattoo

Writing in his memoirs the French wartime leader Charles De Gaulle said about la perfide Albion and his distrust of the British establishment which led to his refusal to permit the UK to join the EEC in the early 1960s,

Pour l’Angleterre … il n’y a pas d’alliance qui tienne, ni de traité qui vaille, ni la vérité qui compte.
For England … there is no alliance which holds, nor treaty which has worth, nor truth which counts.

We’re now witnessing De Gaulle’s words come true. Today in the Commons Theresa May argued for a change to her deal which the EU has already said, repeatedly, that it’s not going to accept. She’s arguing for the renegotiation of a deal that she herself said that wasn’t up for renegotiation that was the only deal on the table. But that doesn’t matter to this government. All that matters is that she can get the Conservative party, or at least most of it, to agree with itself, and the only party in Northern Ireland whose wishes need to be respected or taken into account is the DUP.

After Theresa’s deal went down to a historic and humiliating defeat, she could have reached out. She could have erased her red lines and sought some form of compromise. She could have tried to build a cross-party consensus. But she did none of those things. Instead she’s trying to placate her own right wing and playing Brexit chlorinated chicken, running down the clock in the hope that MPs will back her deal because time has run out. It is spectacularly cynical and grossly contemptuous of what passes for democracy in the UK.

Now the Prime Minister has announced that she’s backing the so-called Brady amendment. Because this vague hope of a renegotiated deal is her new deal that’s the only deal. This amendment would replace the Irish border backstop with some nebulous “alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border.” The EU has already said that this is unacceptable, but Theresa is only interested in whether it’s acceptable to her own hard line Brexists and the DUP. Reality for this government is merely a serving suggestion.

The SNP tabled an amendment of its own. When SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford got up in the Commons to speak about it he warned of possible food shortages and price rises in the event of a no deal Brexit. A voice from the DUP called out that Scots could just go to the chippy. Because you know, much loved and respected partner in a family of nations and all that. Not that Theresa May was listening. She had already scuttled out of the chamber. The amendment called for Article 50 to be extended and Scotland’s remain vote to be respected. It demanded that the House should recognise that the UK is a “partnership of equals” and no nation should be dragged out of the EU against its will. It didn’t pass. It was defeated on the back of the votes of Tory MPs from elsewhere in the UK. Labour abstained. What a surprise. There’s that partnership of equals for you. Are you feeling the respect?

Most attention was focussed on the other amendments. The Cooper amendment, the Grieve amendment, the Reeves amendment, the Spelman amendment, and the Brady amendment. The Cooper amendment was put forward by former Labour front bencher Yvette Cooper and would extend article 50 to the end of this year if Theresa May is unable to secure a deal by the end of February. Labour agreed to back it officially, and so did some remainer Tories. However the amendment didn’t achieve sufficient support and was voted down by 321 votes to 298. 14 Labour MPs voted with the Tories.

The Grieve amendment would have allowed MPs to take control of parliamentary business out of the hands of the government and allowed votes on alternatives to either Theresa’s no-go deal or the no-deal. The amendment was also defeated, this time by 321 to 301. Seems the Tories aren’t that keen on the sovereignty of parliament after all. The Reeves amendment sought to ensure that Article 50 was extended if there was no deal. It was also defeated. Even now, even with the stakes so high, some Labour MPs were prepared to vote with the Tories or to abstain.

The Spelman amendment simply stated that the UK should not leave the EU without a deal. It has no legal force, it would not tie Theresa May’s hands in any way. It would not force her to take no deal off the table. It narrowly passed by 318 votes to 310, but it’s cold comfort. It won’t make any difference to a Prime Minister who is so cavalier in the way she ignores binding votes. A non-binding one won’t even register with her.

The Brady amendment is a key part of what the Conservatives like to call The Malthouse Compromise, which sounds like a cheap airport thriller, only it won’t fly and is unlikely to come to a satisfactory ending. It’s called a compromise because it involves the Tory party compromising with itself, but not with anyone else. That’s a bit like the British government unilaterally deciding to undermine the devolution settlement and calling it a compromise. Oh wait. That’s not a simile.

Before the Brady amendment had even come to a vote, it was reported that an EU official had informed the press that a response was being readied stating that the EU will not reopen negotiations on the withdrawal agreement. The Guardian was reporting that Jean Claude Juncker had told Theresa May the same during a phone call on Tuesday afternoon. It was being reported that the EU prez had said that there was no point in Theresa May coming back to Brussels if she got the Brady amendment to pass. After her phone call Theresa traipsed off to the Commons to plead for the Brady amendment and claim that she’d been listening. Not long after she got back to Number 10, the news was reporting that the French President Emmanuel Macron had also stated that the withdrawal deal was not open to renegotiation.

Despite its proposal already being ruled out by the EU, the Brady amendment narrowly passed by just 317 to 301. Within a few minutes there was an official statement from Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, saying that the Irish backstop was not going to be renegotiated.

On a recent episode of what I like to call the Poor Life Decisions Show, otherwise known as Tattoo Fixers, there was a guy who had got “Will you marry me Michelle?” tattooed across his chest. Then he showed off his tattoo to his beloved in a grand gesture of proposal only to find that she said no. Which must have been doubly painful. What the Brady amendment has done for Theresa May is the equivalent of getting “Will you renegotiate with me EU?” tattooed across the UK’s collective chest even though the EU has already said no.

Tattoo guy said he was gutted when his now ex-fiancee said no. “I genuinely had not considered the possibility that she might turn me down,” he said. Theresa doesn’t have that excuse. She’s already been turned down, but she seems to think that if she goes ahead with the tattoo anyway, the EU will reconsider since it’s clear that getting the tattoo is the will of the British Parliament, or at least the will of the Tories and the DUP. That’s the level of idiocy we’re dealing with here. She’s branding the UK as the eejit of Europe, where poor life decisions are official policy and we are all permanently scarred.

Supporters of Brexit insist that the UK survived WW2, so it can survive Brexit. Which is grand, except for the fact that the closest most of them have ever got to WW2 is playing Call of Duty on PlayStation 4. The British Parliament is now mired in delusion and lost in a dreamlike fantasy that makes a video game seem like hard headed realism. The government is unmoored from reality. The closest that the UK is going to get to the promises of the Brexists would be to get a unicorn tattooed on Jacob Rees Mogg’s backside.

So there we have it. The choice facing the UK is now Theresa May’s deal without the Irish backstop, which the EU already, repeatedly, said that it will not accept and will not renegotiate. Which means she’ll have to come back to the Commons next month with the same deal that was so resoundingly rejected a couple of weeks ago. Or it’s crashing out with no deal. The chances of a second EU referendum all but evaporated tonight. All we have left is the red white and blue unicorn tattoo and a wilful refusal to respect Johnny Foreigner. No wonder De Gaulle vetoed UK membership of the EEC.

Scotland has another choice. It’s time we took it.


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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.