The saltire piñata

saltirepinata
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Another day, another step in the Conservatives’ destruction of the United Kingdom. They just can’t help themselves, can they. Jeremy Hunt has announced that he’s withdrawing all UK diplomatic support for the Scottish First Minister on her trips abroad to represent the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. “She can fly Ryanair with a hen party from Caldercruix and then fight her way onto a bus 120 miles from her destination,” said Jeremy, “That’ll teach her for being a vile separatist.” Well he didn’t really say that, if only because he doesn’t know where Caldercruix is and wouldn’t know how to pronounce it even if he did. But his sentiments were along an equally petty vein. The really scary thing here is that this is the guy who’s considered the better option.

The reason that the UK Foreign Secretary gave for his undiplomatic decision was that Nicola Sturgeon uses her foreign trips to promote the policies she was elected on, opposing Brexit and supporting Scottish independence. Now we know that politicians who are elected in the UK will only enjoy the support of the UK diplomatic corps if they happen to agree with the politics of whoever happens to be the Foreign Secretary at the time.

Perhaps if Jeremy Hunt possessed a modicum of historical awareness he might have realised that it was a very similar issue, that of consular representation, which brought about Unionsoppløsningen the dissolution of the Union between Norway and Sweden in 1905. Norway felt that it was not adequately represented by consular officials abroad who were appointed by the Swedish foreign minister. The issue became emblematic of the increasingly divergent political paths that Norway and Sweden were then taking, and the union between the two countries, which had existed since 1814, came to an end. Jeremy Hunt’s childish and petty decision will not be the hill that the UK dies on, but it’s one more illustration to Scotland of a UK that is not serving our needs.

According to a spokesapologist for the Tories, in future elected representatives of the devolved administrations will only get support from the Foreign Office if they “avoid supporting activities intended to campaign for policies contrary to [the UK] Government’s position”. So if at some point in a post-Brexit Britain, the British government decides that the NHS is very much on the table in a trade deal negotiation with the USA, then according to this ruling the Scottish government wouldn’t be allowed to speak against that during any official visits to America.

That’s the kind of thing that had it happened under the government of Recep Erdogan or Vladimir Putin would provoke British handwringing about the threat to democracy from authoritarian regimes. Yet here we are. Nicola Sturgeon won’t get support from the Foreign Office when she’s on an official visit abroad, that Foreign Office that is paid for out of Scottish taxes too, because she favours Scottish independence and opposes Brexit and those are policies that Jeremy doesn’t like.

This isn’t just petty on the part of the Foreign Secretary. It’s downright sinister. The Conservatives are a party which is prepared to refuse Scotland another independence referendum “under any circumstances”. The fact that there’s a democratic mandate for one doesn’t matter. They are a party which is prepared to suspend Parliament in order to ram through a no deal Brexit that doesn’t have majority support in the Commons. And now we learn that they are a party which is happy to rule out official support to democratically elected politicians whose policies they don’t like. The Conservatives are not just the party of English nationalism, of English exceptionalism, and of Brexit at all costs, they’re profoundly undemocratic and authoritarian. They represent precisely the kind of extreme right wing politics that they themselves warned Scotland could only avoid if it voted against independence.

What this is really about here, of course, is the Conservative leadership contest. The Scots are a convenient whipping boy. Scotland is about as popular amongst Conservative party members in England – where the vast majority of them reside – as explaining uncomfortable truths about their Brexit policy is with Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt. By showing them that he’s prepared to act the hard man with Scotland, Jeremy is hoping to curry a few more votes from the unreconstructed English nationalists who will be voting for the Tory leader in a short while. Scotland’s interests are being sacrificed so that an unprincipled careerist can make himself look good in the eyes a party that prioritises Brexit far above Scotland’s interests. That’s pooling and sharing for you.

Jeremy tells us that he’ll never allow the break up of the UK because although he’s English he also has Irish blood and Welsh blood, and he spent some time in Scotland when he was a wean. Posho Jezza hasn’t realised that insisting on telling people about your blood while waving about a can of Irn Bru for a photo op really isn’t a good look when you’re trying to make out that this nationalism lark is a bad idea.

Jezza son, I mean this kindly, but no one in Scotland gives a tuppenny where your great great great grandparents were from, and we care even less that you spent a few months during the school holidays with your da the admiral on a navy base in Scotland when you weren’t at your posh boarding school in Surrey. So just shuttit, gaunnie. Because you’re coming across as a dictatorial wee nyaff and that really doesn’t play at all well in Scotland. And you’re meant to be the sensible one in this leadership contest, god help us. It’s like saying that because my parents once took me to Whitley Bay when I was a wean, it gives me the right to tell England to forget about this Brexit nonsense.

It’s hard to decide which of the two Tory leadership candidates is worse. But then we don’t get a vote or a say and exist in this contest purely as a tartan piñata to be beaten with a stick in the hope of dislodging a few more votes from some anti-Scottish bigots. There’s a choice between a lying fantasist or a lying opportunist. You can have your liar either shambolic and brazen, or sleekit and boring. Both of them are equally peddling myths and false expectations about Brexit, and both of them are going to come crashing down just as soon as their false promises hit the hard reality of the EU.

When that happens, as it inevitably will, they’ll blame the Europeans for their failure, they’ll blame the Scots, they’ll blame remainers, they’ll blame everyone but themselves and the lies about English exceptionalism upon which Brexit was founded. All that faces Scotland within the UK is more of the Tories’ diplomacy of contempt and a future as a saltire piñata that they will beat with a stick in order to extract a few more votes from the golf clubs of Surrey.

The iceberg and the lifeboat

lifeboatandiceberg
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If you ever needed evidence about Boris Johnson’s poor judgement, you only had to learn that he’s selected Ross Thomson as his Scottish campaign manager and advisor on Scottish matters to have your worst suspicions amply confirmed. Actually, if you needed evidence about Boris Johnson’s poor judgement, you must live in some alternate universe where Boris Johnson is an artificial life form created from the very best genes of Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, and Bez from the Happy Mondays. In this universe he’s an artificial life form created from an abandoned mattress, a bin fire, and an Eton education.

Boris Johnson is a politician who has as many enemies within his own party as he has outwith it. There are already rumours and threats that his premiership could end up as the shortest on record, and Conservative remainers are lining up to tell the media that they might consider voting down a Boris Johnson government. There are legions of Conservatives MPs who long for nothing more than getting close to Boris Johnson, just so that they can knife him in the back, or even the front. Michael Gove is the least of his worries. When, Carrie Symonds permitting, Boris Johnson becomes the next Prime Minister, he’s going to want to ensure that he’s surrounded by people he can trust.

One Scottish Tory MP has supported Boris like a demented fanboy since the very beginning. He’s been seen hanging about outside rooms where the man he stans is speaking in the hope that he’ll be noticed. There’s been no one more faithful to the Borisocracy than Ross Thomson, unless you count a small and not very bright dog slabbering on your lap. Which is also a good description of Ross, come to think of it. David Mundell, who hasn’t resigned yet, might find that he doesn’t need to resign after all, because he’ll be sacked. We’re facing the very real possiblity of living in a UK where Boris Johnson is in Number 10, Nigel Farage heads the party that leads in the opinion polls, and Ross Thomson is the Secretary of State for Scotland, the triumvirate of trash.

Things are so bad that there’s been a Broontervention for the very first time. Again. The Gordosaur has weighed in, speaking before an invited audience of people who’d signed a sworn statement to treat him with the reverence due to the Second Coming of Jesus. Gordie doesn’t actually walk on water, but he does pace up and down the carpet and that’s the next best thing. Afterwards he answered some questions that had been submitted in advance and pre-approved. Gordie doesn’t do critical audiences or submit to random questioning. He’s very like Boris Johnson in that respect. Then without a smidgeon of self awareness he told us all the things that have gone wrong with British politics as though he wasn’t responsible for any of it.

It’s all the fault of the Tories for their narrrow nationalism. It’s all the fault of Boris Johnson for undermining Scotland’s place in the UK and threatening the Barnett formula. It’s all the fault of the SNP for their “hard independence”, which is a new thing that only exists in the Brooniverse. Hard independence doesn’t actually exist, it’s just Gordie’s rhetorical attempt to draw an artificial equivalence between the hard Brexit being purveyed by Boris Johnson and Scottish independence. It’s like drawing an equivalence between an iceberg and a lifeboat.

Gordie railed against Boris Johnson as a purveyor of “narrow, dogmatic nationalism.” Because when Gordie ripped off a slogan from the far right and traipsed about the land promising “British jobs for British workers” that wasn’t narrow and dogmatic nationalism at all. Demanding that other people are held to standards that he himself doesn’t have to live up to is the very essence of Borishness. It might not be a lesson that the Conservative leadership candidate learned from Gordie Broon, but it’s certainly a practice that Gordie is as much a master of as any Eton schoolboy with a sense of entitlement.

The Union is under threat! Railed the man who’d vowed solemnly to the people of Scotland that he personally was going to ensure that the parties in the Better Together campaign were going to fulfil the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in order to secure the No vote in 2014, and then he buggered off in a sulk and did nothing while Labour, the Tories, and the Lib Dems played devolution jenga in the Smith Commission. He said nothing when the British government sought a court ruling to establish that one of Gordie’s key vows – that no Westminster government would change the powers of Holyrood without Holyrood’s consent – had no force in law. He said nothing when the British government used Brexit as an excuse to unilaterally undermine the devolution settlement. He said nothing when it was revealed that the Tories are seeking to wrest control from Holyrood and have UK government departments spend directly in areas of devolved competence.

The union is under threat. You don’t say Gordie, you don’t say. It’s all the fault of the Tories. It’s all the fault of the SNP. It’s all the fault of everyone except the man responsible for the Vow who then walked away from the commitments and promises that it contained. It’s the fault of everyone except the man who swore to the people of Scotland that he’d stand up for their interests and would personally hold the political establishment to account, and who then swanned off and washed his hands. Even Pontius Pilate took more responsibility.

Maybe, just maybe, if the former Prime Minister faced up to his own role in putting the Union at threat he might be a more credible advocate for saving it, but as things stand even BBC Scotland is finding it difficult to work up much enthusiasm for his self-serving pronouncements. The lead item on the lunchtime news from Pacific Quay was that there had been a lot of rain in Stirling. When the Scottish news leads with a story that it has rained in Scotland instead of telling us that Gordie has been Broontervening again, you can take that as a sign that even BBC Scotland knows that any influence Gordie Broon once had has been washed down the drains.

The reason that the union is under threat is because successive British politicians don’t take responsibility for their failures, and within the UK the people of Scotland have no means of holding them to account. If Gordon Brown really wants to understand why the UK is on the verge of dissolving, why the charlatan Boris Johnson is arranging the removal vans to move into Number 10, he could start by taking a long hard look at himself in the mirror.

The UK ship of state is sinking because its short sighted and self-serving political class deliberately sailed it into the iceberg of Brexit. Scottish independence is the lifeboat.

Beware the Scottish midgie

immunity
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There’s delusion, there’s drug fuelled delusion, and then there’s Scottish Tory delusion. The last is a very special sort of stupid, accessible only to those who long since abandoned reality in favour of arrogance and an overweening sense of entitlement. Today (Monday) in The Telegraph, otherwise titled The Boris Fanzine, three Scottish Tory MPs gave their, ahem, considered and well thought out reasons why Boris Johnson is going to be the saviour of the Union and the destroyer of the Evil Nats. The Scottish Conservatives’ Operation Arse to ensure that Boris Johnson never becomes Prime Minister has bowed to the inevitable recognition that the Scottish Tories have zero influence on the decisions of their Westminster masters and mistresses. It’s now Operation Kiss Arse.

Well, I say that their reasons were considered and well thought out, but if I were to tell you that the three comprised Ross Thomson, Colin Clark, and Douglas Ross, you’d realise that everything is relative. What counts as considered and well thought out for that lot would count as a capricious whim for a snottery nosed toddler in the middle of a temper tantrum. Although to be honest it is getting increasingly difficult to distinguish the Scottish Conservatives from a snottery nosed temper tantrum. Don’t wanna another referendum. Noooooo! Don’t wanna! It’s not fair! Nooooooooo! Anyway, can we all just pause here, and give a very special thank you to Ross Can-I-Be-Scotland-Secretary-Pretty-Please-Boris Thomson for his immense contribution to the Yes movement.

According to the Three Borisketeers, their hero would swat the SNP away like a midge. Boris will stride into Scotland’s constitutional debate like a tourist armed with a fly-swatter and a sense of invulnerability. He will be immune to midges, a giant amongst us insignificant types, unaffected and unmoved. Perhaps they hadn’t noticed the opinion poll over the weekend which showed that a majority in Scotland would back independence if the object of their fanboydom becomes Prime Minister.

Unlike Scottish Tories, we all know that the really fearsome and voracious creature is not the midge. It is the Scottish midgie. The diminutive is important, only in this particular word it does not betoken smallness or affection. It is the equivalent of familiar names like Auld Nick for Satan. The diminutive in this case is a form of psychological defence against a fearsome danger. It’s not for nothing that the midgie is considered Scotland’s most dangerous predator. It swarms in clouds. It is legion. There is no such thing as “a midgie”. There is only a vast horde of them. Swat away one and there are two thousand behind it. You cannot swat a cloud of midgies. You can only run away and hide from them. Still, over the past few days Boris Johnson has proven himself to be very good at running away and hiding from difficult questions.

It is an interesting factoid that around 15% of people in Scotland have a genetic immunity to midgie bites.  A far greater percentage have an immunity to Boris Johnson. His upperclass posh boy bumbling schtick doesn’t work north of the Border.  Scotland is going to eat his politics alive and there will be nothing left but a pile of lying bones and the skin of deceit.

Boris is, apparently, a “committed Unionist who believes in the successful synergy between the nations of our United Kingdom”. Ross, Colin, and Douglas aren’t very sure what synergy means, but they came across the word once in a middle management self help manual that they found in Aberdeen airport, and according to the American author it’s a word that’s full of win. Rather like Ruth Davidson, come to think of it. No amount of management speak can save the Scottish Tories. You can dress Boris Johnson up in as many buzz words as you want, but he’s still going to be a untrustworthy liar, a charlatan, and a con man.

The Three Boristremists believe that Boris Johnson is deeply in love with Scotland because that’s what he told them when he was trying to get their votes. The fact that Boris will quite cheerfully tell other people whose votes he seeks something else entirely hasn’t crossed their minds, because they’re desperate to hear things that are going to reassure the rising sense of panic that they feel when they look at opinion polls and realise that their jobs and their precious union come with a use by date that is rapidly approaching. They are the epitome of the saying that a fool will always find a greater fool to admire.

Scotland is, as Nicola Sturgeon has pointed out, facing the greatest democratic deficit in decades. This country voted against Brexit. It voted for the devolution settlement. It has rejected the Conservatives. However we’re not only getting Brexit, we’re getting the most extreme version of it imaginable. The devolution settlement is being unilaterally undermined by a Westminister government that Scotland didn’t vote for, despite the fact that that government vowed never to make any changes to devolution without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. And we’re being told by a Conservative party that Scotland didn’t vote for that it is ruling out, under all circumstances, allowing the people of Scotland to ask themselves about their future within a UK which has turned out to be a very different proposition from the UK which Scotland was told it was a part of in 2014.

The Three Boriscrementalists’ choice of words was more revealing than they imagined. Midge, they thought when they were having their middle management excercise in blue sky out of the box thinking, that’s Scottish. That’ll do. But what they’ve revealed is that as far as their bosses are concerned, the interests, concerns, and opinions of Scotland are trivial and unimportant and exist only to be swatted away.

Meanwhile the next Prime Minister is about to be chosen by 120,000 right wing Tories who are willing to ditch Scotland in order to achieve their Brexit wet dream. What that tells us is that they are in no mood to soften Brexit in order to compromise with Scotland. Scotland has no influence at all in this so-called synergy of nations. An aggressive pursuit of the absolute supremacy of Westminster isn’t synergy with Scotland. It’s Scotland’s submission and subservience. This isn’t just a democratic deficit, it’s democratic bankruptcy. That comes with consequences that can’t be avoided forever. These Scottish midgies will be the end of the Tories and their synergy of submission.

A question of character

aquestionofcharacter
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An opinion poll published today has found that a majority of Scotland’s voters would back independence should Boris Johnson become Prime Minister. 53% would prefer independence to seeing Boris Johnson in 10 Downing Street. However even without that scenario, 49% support independence, a figure which is within the normal margin of error of opinion polls, and which therefore means it’s too close to call.

Even before an official independence referendum campaign has kicked off, half of Scotland or more want independence. That’s an incredibly strong position for us to be starting from, one which explains the panic in the ranks of the Scottish Conservatives and their desperate attempts to forestall another referendum. It’s why Jeremy Hunt is in Peterhead today, telling Sky News that he will not allow another referendum. People in Scotland don’t want another referendum, he averred, hoping that if he said it often enough it might become true.

I have tried this myself, every week on a Friday before the Euromillions results are announced, I tell myself in a confident voice that I’m a multimillionaire. It hasn’t worked, and Jeremy’s pronouncements won’t work either. The difference however is that my pronouncements about my impending Euromillions win has no effect on the outcome. The numbered balls don’t hear me saying it and say, “The cheek of him. We’re going to make sure that his numbers don’t come up.” On the other hand the pronouncements of Tory politicians that they’re not going to allow another referendum merely antagonise the large majority of Scotland’s voters who are not Conservatives and make it more likely that a referendum comes about. And that when it does they’ll vote Yes.

Jeremy said on Sky News that if he becomes Prime Minister he’ll hold Nicola Sturgeon to account. But he won’t become Prime Minister, because what he’s not willing to do in this leadership contest is to hold Boris Johnson to account. This weekend his rival is facing calls to explain why the police were called out to the flat he shares with his partner after neighbours heard a loud row between the two of them accompanied by the sound of smahing, yelling, and his girlfriend screaming at him to get off her and to get out of the flat. Neighbours also report that Boris Johnson’s car is frequently parked illegally and accumulates parking tickets.

This latest incident comes of top of all the well known and well documented issues about Johnson’s personality, his lies, his gratuitously offensive statements, and his overweening sense of entitlement. It comes after a series of worrying reports about Johnson’s character from people who know him well. From his former boss at the Telegraph Max Hastings, who described him as a “gold medal egomaniac … He is also a far more ruthless, and frankly nastier, figure than the public appreciates.” From the Tory grandee Michael Heseltine who said that Johnson is “a man who waits to see the way the crowd is running then dashes in front and says, ‘Follow me’.” From Martin Hammond, his housemaster at Eton, who wrote in Johnson’s school report in 1982, “I think he honestly believes it is churlish of us not to regard him as an exception, one who should be free of the network of obligation which binds everyone else.”

Boris Johnson’s moral character is very much the issue here, the questions raised about him go to the very heart of whether he is a suitable person to become Prime Minister. People can change their minds about things. They can change their opinions. They can’t change their personality. But Jeremy Hunt doesn’t want to go there, and that leads inexorably to questions about Jeremy Hunt’s character. What sort of person is Jeremy Hunt really, underneath his carefully constructed front of quiet reasonableness? When you scratch the surface you find a chancer, an opportunist, a man for whom principles are disposable if ditching them can advance his own interests. His flipping on Brexit from remain to being willing to countenance a no-deal crash out of the EU is the least of his character flaws.

Jeremy has his eye on a cabinet position in a Johnson government, so he only punches down, not up. He’d rather pitch himself to Tory voters in England as someone who will put those uppity Scots in their place, because that’s easy. That doesn’t threaten his future career prospects within the Conservative party. Jeremy Hunt won’t speak truth unto power, he won’t challenge Boris Johnson on the question of Johnson’s fitness for high office, but he wants everyone to believe that he’s the guy to take on the EU. If he really did possess a magic plan to get the EU to renegotiate, to ensure that the Brextremists get everything that they want with no damage to the UK economy, you’d think that he’d have mentioned it at some point during the previous three years when he was a senior minister in government. But he didn’t, because he was more concerned to embed himself in Theresa May’s goverment than to challenge her. He didn’t because the plan that he claims to have now is just another unicorn chasing fantasy.

That’s why his campaign will fail, no matter what personal issues Boris Johnson gets mired in, because Jeremy Hunt has personal failings of his own. They may be less spectacular, but they are no less debilitating. They’re just obscured by the blinding light of Boris Johnson’s character flaws, but in the unlikely event that Hunt did win, then his own failures and inadequacies will become the focus of attention. Scotland will quickly discover that the man who trashed England’s NHS will just as willingly trash Scotland’s devolution settlement.

Those No voters in Scotland who say they’d switch to Yes should Johnson become Prime Minister will pretty soon switch to Yes anyway. Jeremy Hunt won’t save the Union. Boris Johnson would wreck the UK in a heartbeat in order to further his own interests. Jeremy Hunt would too, it will just take him a little longer. The end result will be the same. There are no depths of moral squalor, cowardice, and hypocrisy which are beyond the reach of a Conservative MP on the career path. No one who has observed Jeremy Hunt’s career over the past few years can be in any doubt that moral cowardice is his default position.

What sort of union is this really? Brexit, and now this woeful Tory leadership contest, where candidates vie with one another to lecture Scotland and tell us what we will not be ‘allowed’ to do merely shows us that this is not a real union at all. Scottish Unionism is founded upon a lie, the lie of partnership, the lie of participation, the lie of the equality of the nations of the UK. Both the candidates for Tory leadership propose to undermine the devolution settlement even further with a “department for the union” which will impose UK government priorities on spending on what are supposed to be devolved areas. So much for the vow never to make any changes to the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament.

And while all this is going on, the Labour party is nowhere to be seen. The lies of British nationalism stand exposed. Independence is a question of character, and not just the characters of the two posh boy chancers who seek to become the next Prime Minister and to destroy the devolution settlement. It’s a question of the character of the UK.

Wee Ginger Dugcast – 21 June 2019

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Welcome to the latest edition of the Wee Ginger Dugcast. This week I am joined by The National’s reporter Stewart Ward because Callum Baird is being a dirty stop out and has the day off. This week we chat about that opinion poll of Conservative party members and how it means that the Tories can no longer pose as the party of the union, the latest developments in the Conservative leadership contest and what it might mean for the independence movement. And we also chat about the new bill that’s being presented to Holyrood to extend the voting franchise in Scotland to everyone who is legally resident in the country. Plus we talk about The National’s new initiative to reach out to soft no and undecided voters – Big Enough, Smart Enough, Rich Enough.

If you are attending the Bannockburn rally tomorrow, the dug and I shall see you there!

 

Bent bananas in the ears

bendybananas
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We’ve finally got down to the final two Conservative leadership candidates. There were two ballots of Tory MPs today. In the first of them, the curse of Ruth Davidson’s winning saw her preferred choice, Sajid Javid, drop out in fourth place. So very much like her party in the European elections in Scotland. Then she switched her support to Michael Gove, who had unexpectedly slimed his way into second place in today’s first ballot, narrowly beating Jeremy Hunt. So that spelled doom for Gove’s campaign. Once you get touched with Ruth’s winning you end up like the Scottish fitba team and some dodgy refereeing. So much winning! Ruth is full of win! Which is absolutely correct, as long as you remember that there’s a silent d at the end of that last word.

And so it came to pass. In the final vote Jeremy Hunt outslimed Gove, meaning that he’ll be in the final two along with Boris Johnson who will be voted on by Conservative party members.  Boris Johnson took over half the available votes, getting 160, Jeremy Hunt took 77, and Michael Gove was on 75.  Gove’s supporters are already accusing the Johnson campaign of underhand dirty tricks.  Which is a bit like being accused of shoplifting by one of the great train robbers.

So the next Prime Minister of the UK will either be a man that people call the C-word by mistake, or a man they call the C-word on purpose. There’s a lot of focus, quite rightly, on how awful Boris Johnson is. But let’s not forget that Jeremy Hunt trashed the NHS in England, then became a lacklustre foreign secretary mainly because the Prime Minister was so weak that she couldn’t sack him, and now he’s up for becoming PM himself. Never in British politics has failure been so well rewarded, with the possible exception of Michael Forsyth.

It was all over the Scottish press that Ruth had switched her support to Michael Gove, as though somehow her backing meant that she had some influence on the outcome. Actually she did, just not in the way she was hoping for. Ruth Davidson is turning into the John McTernan of the Conservative party. Whatever she predicts, the opposite comes to pass. When she announces that she’s throwing her weight behind Jeremy, Corbyn is going to crap himself.

Ruth has as much real influence in this contest as the people of Scotland do – her opinions are entirely ignored by the 13 Scottish Tory MPs. Ruth’s fulsome support of Michael Gove lasted until just after 6pm when he lost out to Jeremy Hunt, who will become Ruth’s new golden boy. Ruth will then work a miracle, and prove that you can indeed tarnish gold. Then having worked her anti-magic on Jeremy’s chances, Ruth will switch to gushing praise for Boris Johnson after he beats Jeremy in the poll of Conservative members and will assure one and all in the Scottish press pack that she always thought that Boris was a great candidate and will make a wonderful Prime Minister. Boris will then turn out the worst Prime Minister in the history of the UK, even though he’s up against some pretty stiff competition.

Possibly her support for Michael Gove was swayed by the fact that A) She loathes Boris Johnson, B) Gove is Scottish born and a hardline British nationalist, and C) She loathes Boris Johnson and Michael Gove also loathes Boris Johnson. Have I mentioned that she loathes Boris Johnson? Well she does. It won’t stop her from turning into an enthusiastic supporter of him when he gets the PM gig though. Ruth’s loathing for Boris is essentially based on something that neither of them is comfortable admitting. The two of them have a great deal in common. Both of them are opportunistic careerists who shamelessly practise personality politics and have no problem flipping from one position to another overnight if they think it’s to their advantage.

None of the candidates for Conservative leader and next Prime Minister will be good for Scotland. Michael Gove has said that under no circumstances will he facilitate another Scottish independence referendum. So forget about voting for pro-independence parties in Scotland, forget about ever giving anyone an electoral mandate for an independence referendum. Michael Gove has just told you that he’ll be the judge of that, and he’s already decided no. British democracy eh, except for viewers in Scotland.

He also said that he will, “Secure a Union guarantee in international law so that our United Kingdom cannot be undermined.” You can be certain that neither the Scottish Parliament nor the Scottish people will be consulted on the form of this guarantee. It will be imposed upon us. Remember all that stuff from Better Together and the Westminster parties during the independence referendum that no future Westminster government would ever make any changes to the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament? Well, they lied to us.

It doesn’t matter that Gove has failed to get through to the next round. He failed in part because Boris Johnson supporters voted tactically for Jeremy Hunt, and in part because he’s slimy and untrustworthy. But the two who succeeded are just as determined to ignore Scotland even though they know that the unity of the UK rests upon a very shoogly peg. Jeremy Hunt has also said that he’d not permit another independence referendum. Meanwhile Boris Johnson said, Vos numquam auscultabo, Caledones perpusilli. Musae cavendishii inflexae fixae sunt in auribus. Which is Latin for, “I will never listen to you Scottish dwarfs. There are bent bananas in my ears.” The Tory leadership would rather listen to made up stories about bent bananas than listen to Scotland.  And this guy is the favourite for becoming the next Prime Minister – of Scotland as well as the rest of the UK.  If, as seems likely, Boris Johnson wins the leadership, it will be the first time that the UK has had a racist Conservative leader since the end of last month.

The Tories are hell-bent on going full-on Partido Popular and ensuring that Scotland has no choice, no freedom of decision, and will never be allowed to ask itself about its position within the UK. It’s a profoundly undemocratic position to take, but then this is the Tory party we’re talking about here. This entire leadership contest is an exercise in anti-democracy. Scotland is about to get a Prime Minister that no one voted for, leading a party that Scotland rejects, whose main goal is to impose a policy that Scotland doesn’t want, all while telling Scotland that it’s not allowed to ask itself any questions about what the hell it’s doing as a part of this dysfunction.  They’ll find that the people of Scotland will pay as much heed to them as they do to us.

The Tory bumble-bluster, kitten smirk, tangent-bombast routine

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Is Boris Johnson racist? Is Brexit an English nationalist fixation? Is Ruth Davidson obsessed with independence? These are questions that shouldn’t need to be asked, because their answers are self-evident. However that didn’t stop a minor stooshiette in the Commons today when Ian Blackford began by asking, “Does the prime minister agree with the frontrunner set to succeed her that the Scottish people are a verminous race that should be placed in ghettos and exterminated?” Then he quoted some of Boris Johnson’s racist comments about black people and Muslims and asked Theresa May, “Does the prime minister realise, not only is the member racist, he is stoking division in communities and has a record of dishonesty?”

Theresa May has, naturally, realised no such thing. She’s far too busy not answering any questions for that. This is a woman who has never knowingly given a direct answer to any question that has ever been put to her in her professional life, and then she berated Ian for asking her a question that wasn’t about what the Prime Minister has done because she’d far rather have preferred not to answer that question.

After this exchange, the Speaker demanded that Ian Blackford retract the statement that Boris Johnson is racist, because it’s far more offensive to accuse someone of being racist than it is to be actually racist. We shouldn’t be surprised. This is after all the House of Commons, where Conservative ministers and backbenchers queue up to tell lies, but where the greatest imaginable breach of parliamentary etiquette is to accuse the liars of lying. Stirlingshire Tories exemplify the problem in the Tory party, tweeting about how Ian Blackford had “embarrassed himself”. It’s far more embarrassing that Stirlingshire Tories think it’s more embarrassing to call out racism than it is to have a party leader who’s a racist.

All this is taking place in the shadow of yesterday’s poll which showed that the grassroots Conservative members who will make the final selection are perfectly happy to destroy the UK in pursuit of their Brexit unicorn.

Ruth was interviewed, very briefly, on the telly yesterday about her reaction to the poll from YouGov which showed that a large majority of Conservative party members in the UK would accept getting rid of Scotland if it was the price of securing Brexit. Ruth had her wasp chewin face on, the one that she wears on those rare occasions when she’s asked a difficult question by the press, or the not so rare occasions when she gets slapped down in Holyrood. It’s the face that you wear when you’ve spent all evening chatting someone up in the pub, only to see them waltz out the door with Nigel Farage, leaving you bereft and alone with a stale milkshake.

Ruth wants Brexit to be delivered, but not at the expense of the UK. Just at the expense of Scotland. “I think there’s a number of people in the Conservative party who need to take a long hard look at themselves,” she harrumphed. And for once Ruth said something that everyone in Scotland could agree with, especially if that number is 100%. She was one of those who peddled the myth that Scotland was a financial drain on the UK, she doesn’t get to complain that Conservatives in England believed her.

On Radio 4 today, Ruth was asked if she could go out on the doorsteps and ask voters to make Boris Johnson Prime Minister. To which Ruth replied “Up against Jeremy Corbyn? Yes,” although that came with the unspoken qualification “in Chelmsford”. She doesn’t do doorsteps in Scotland, or constituency surgeries for that matter. In Scotland she’d just be reminded of all the things that she’s said about Boris Johnson in the past, and in Scotland her opponent isn’t going to be Jeremy Corbyn. But now she’s trying to deny that she called Boris Johnson a liar when she accused the Leave campaign that he led of lying repeatedly. Not sure the bumble-bluster, kitten smirk, tangent-bombast routine is cutting through, Ruth.

Scotland doesn’t want Brexit, but that doesn’t matter to Ruth Davidson or the Scottish Conservatives. Not that she has much control over those Conservative MPs who were supposedly elected as her personal representatives in Westminster. Four of them voted for Boris Johnson in the leadership contest, not one of them backed Ruth’s favoured candidate Sajid Javid. Another six of of them, including David Mundell, are backing the Tweedledum to Boris Johnson’s Tweedledee in the leave campaign leadership, Michael Gove. Michael is a man whose sole qualification for becoming Prime Minister is that he thinks it’s the same as a debating club in Oxford University. He’s marginally less hardline on Brexit than Boris Johnson, in that whereas Boris Johnson insists on leaving the EU on 31 October and to hell with the consequences, Michael Gove is willing to slime his way out a week later, and to hell with the consequences. Scotland’s needs and the votes of its people mean nothing.

It wasn’t just Ruth who was narked by the YouGov poll. He who should not be named because like Beetlejuice if you say his name three times he just pops up pouting about the fiscal transfer, was seriously irritated on Twatter. Scotland’s least favourite dogfood salesman and graph enthusiast was not at all happy with the result of the poll. He even managed to blame the SNP for it. It’s apparently a victory for the SNP’s “strategy of making Scotland’s voice in the UK sound like that of false-grievance mongering dicks”. Bless.

Now I may have missed something, but I thought that the SNP’s strategy over the past few decades has been to tell Scotland that independence would not be the financial and economic calamity that certain opponents of independence claim it would be. And for doing so they’ve been vilified, traduced, insulted, and sneered at by opponents of independence. There is nothing more offensive to a British nationalist than the notion that an independent Scotland might be better off managing its own resources and raising its own taxes.

What British nationalists thought was their greatest strength has turned into their greatest weakness. This poll is actually a victory for all those people who have been constantly producing graphs telling Scotland and the world that Scotland is a financial basket case which relies upon the goodwill and largesse of the rest of the UK in order to stop it turning into an even more impoverished form of Greece, only without the nice weather. It’s a victory for those who never question the methodology or politics of the annual GERS figures because they are eager to use those figures as a weapon. It’s a victory for those who think that the supposed financial and economic weakness of Scotland, a land blessed with an embarrassment of wealth, talent, and natural resources, is an argument for the UK instead of an indictment of generations of Westminster’s rapacious financial mismanagement.

When you keep telling people in England that Scotland is a drain on its resources, that Scotland is a leech, that they pay for Scotland’s public services, you can’t really act surprised when some of them turn round and tell you that they’d be happy to get rid of Scotland if Scotland is perceived as standing in the way of a political goal they actively desire. But hey, let’s just blame the SNP for it shall we.

Today we got the results of the third round of voting in the Tory leadership contest. It’s hard to imagine now what Boris Johnson could do that would blow up his campaign. He has cheerfully fostered racism, he has likened gay marriage to three men marrying a dog, he thinks it’s fine to call gay men “bum boys”, he believes that being Scottish ought to rule you out from being Prime Minister. He’s a serial liar. He’s a cheat. He conspired with one of his pals to have a journalist beaten up.

He could be caught in flagrante delicto with a nun and a dead pig, and it would just be laughed off as Boris being Boris. After all, it has already come to light that he’d allowed the publication of a grossly and offensively racist tract calling for members of a particular ethnic group to be herded into ghettos and exterminated, and it is being dismissed as just a bit of banter and it’s the targets of that racist abuse who are in the wrong for being upset about it. So much for “Stay with us Scotland, we love you.” But none of this matters because Boris Johnson is upper class. Is there a quota of racist stuff you can say before you can be called a racist? If there is the quota is certainly much higher if you’re exceedingly posh like Boris Johnson.

It’s looking like a run off between him and Michael Gove or Jeremy Hunt. The result of the third round of voting saw Boris Johnson increase his lead over the other candidates.  He got as many votes as the next three candidates combined. With 143 votes, he’s only a few votes short of taking an absolute majority of MPs’ votes. Jeremy Hunt came a distant second with 54, Michael Gove trailed on 51, Sajid Javid struggled into the next round with 38, and Rory Stewart went backwards and ended up with a mere 27, dropping out of the race.

The Conservatives don’t want someone who’ll tell the truth about Brexit. They want to wrap themselves in the red white and blue comfort blanket of the fleg and tell themselves that England is special. They want to contort themselves in lies in the hope that they can see the sun shining out of their own backsides. Meanwhile a no deal Brexit gets more and more likely with every passing day. We’re all screwed. The only comfort is that we’re not as screwed as the Tory party.