How to terrify a Tory

On Tuesday and Wednesday the Scottish parliament is debating the bill to bring about a second Scottish indepedence referendum. The first day of debates was mature and thoughtful, allowing the advocates of Scotland remaining a part of the UK to introduce the truly vital and important arguments for their case. Arguments like those of Labour MSP Monica Lennon, who used the debate as an opportunity to highlight the truly crucial issues of the day, the fact that she thinks Stu Campbell of Wings Over Scotland is a bit smelly, and how it’s outrageous that she’s blocked on Twitter by the SNP MSP Christina Mckelvie.

The real issue of course, is the future of Scotland. Although to be fair the hugely important issue of Monica Lennon’s social media experience is considerably more pressing and vital than her party’s notion of a federal UK, because Monica’s blocking by Christina on Twitter is something that does actually exist in the real world. That however didn’t prevent many of her colleagues using the debate as an opportunity to waffle on about their federalism fantasy. There’s no desire for federalism in England, and if we’ve learned anything about the structure of the UK over the past few years it’s the lesson that politically speaking, England gets what England wants, and so do the other constituent parts of the UK.

But Labour just kept banging on about how they want federalism. I want to win the Euromillions lottery jackpot, and there is actually a quantifiable probabilty of my doing so. It’s a tiny probability, a probability that’s quite a lot smaller than the probability of being struck by lightning, but it does exist and it’s not zero. The probability of federalism ever being introduced in the UK is as close to zero as makes no difference.

But it’s worse than that. It’s not just that there’s no desire for it in England, and so zero chance of it ever coming about, it’s also that it’s incompatible with the one doctrine of the British constitution that the Unionists fetishise above all others – the absolute sovereignty of the Westminster parliament. You can’t have federalism under a system in which the Westminster parliament reserves to itself the right to abolish or change it whenever it suits Westminster. It’s not just that Labour has no answer to this problem, they don’t even seem to demonstrate any awareness that the problem exists.

Anyway, the federalism fairy was fulminating in Labour’s full-on fairytale fantasy on Tuesday. The only proper response to it likewise begins with an f, and is immediately followed by the word off. But fair’s fair, at least Labour was trying to put forward some sort of plan for the future of Scotland, however delusional and unrealistic it may be. On the Tory benches there was nothing but anger and contempt for the idea that Scotland should have any sort of say in its future at all. From neither Labour nor the Tories came any admission that there has been any sort of change in circumstances at all since 2014, and likewise they continued to trot out the same arguments that they’d come out with three years ago.

The Tories are apoplectic. Their version of Scottish Unionism means that Scotland should have no say whatsoever on Brexit, and they are outraged at any suggestion that Scotland should have a say. Scottish Tories want their country to be the only country in Europe which doesn’t have any input into Scotland’s relation with Europe. They want their pals in the UK government to have a free hand, they acknowledge that the governments of the 27 remaining EU members will likewise have their say. But the only people who don’t get to voice an opinion on where Scotland is headed as a country are the people of Scotland themselves. Scotland is the only country in Europe whose views on membership of the EU are irrelevant. As irrelevant as the Scottish Tories will be in the vote in Holyrood on Wednesday – because they’re going to lose it. Their anger and resentment was not unrelated to the fact that they know there is a majority in Holyrood for another referendum, and there’s nothing they can do to prevent the bill being passed.

Adam It’s The Law Tomkins decided to go on about Canada for some reason best known to himself. He also consistently referred to Scottish independence as secession throughout his spittle flecked frothing. Calling Scottish independence secession is a bit like referring to fleeing a dystopian nightmare with a crashing economy where you get told what’s going to happen to you for a better life in a different country where you get consulted on important decisions as “a trip to the airport”. There could be a queue! And you’ll be at the back of it.

The Tories have no vision for Scotland. All they offer is obedience to decisions that are made on Scotland’s behalf by a political class that has trouble locating us at the small end of the BBC weather map. The offer austerity. They offer xenophobia. They offer isolationism in Empire 2.0. They kept saying that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum, but what they really mean is that Unionists don’t want another referendum. What they really mean is that the Unionists refuse to acknowledge their failure to honour the promises and commitments they made to Scotland during the first referendum campaign. What they really mean is that they won’t admit that the real reason we’re having this debate now is because of them.

Mostly however, they kept banging on about division. Having spent the first referendum demonising independence supporters, and painting them as a cross between the Ku Klux Klan and a Twitter troll, now they say that it’s too divisive to have a second vote. But that’s what democracy is. Democracy is about differences of opinion, and debating them. Scotland is already divided, and we won’t resolve those divisions by brushing them under a Brexit carpet and pretending that they don’t exist. But that’s exactly what the Tories and Labour want. The question of Scotland’s relationship to the rest of the UK and the rest of Europe remains an open question, and it’s only by allowing the people to engage with that question and address it that we’ll ever have any chance as a nation of moving on from it. That’s democracy.

The Tories think that the way to cure a difference of opinion is by telling those who disagree with them to shut up. The Tories don’t want democracy, they want silence and obedience. They’re not going to get it. Scotland will have its say. Scotland will find its voice. And it’s a voice that’s going to say Yes to independence. That’s what the Tories are really terrified of.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

The things Theresa forgot

That Mike Russell’s pretty pissed off, and quite right too. There he was, hanging on the phone on David Davis’s Brexit hotline and never getting an answer and being kept on hold, because now that the UK hate foreigners they had to give up their contract with the call centre in Mumbai, and then he has to discover from the telly that Article 50 will be triggered on March 29. Davie and Theresa couldn’t be arsed to inform the Scottish Government officially.

This may or may not be related to the fact that they’re in as much as a huff as the Huffy Fluffy because they’d wanted to trigger it last week, but then Nicola Sturgeon stole their thunder by announcing that there was going to be a second independence referendum. Although to be honest, the British government never had any intention of telling the Scottish government last week either. Besides, if the Scottish government want to know what that Brexit moment is going to feel like, they only need to stick a fork in a toaster. Even the one that won’t make David Coburn’s toast. It seems that the UK government has already been doing this, which goes a long way towards explaining the torn faces that Huffy Fluffy and Ruthie have been displaying all week.

Let’s be scrupulously fair however. The British government might have forgotten to inform the devolved administrations of the official triggering of Brexit, but they’ve forgotten plenty of other things too. So it’s understandable that something else might slip their mind. They forgot that this is 2017 and not 1817 and the UK is no longer a global power. They forgot that there’s no empire any more. They forgot that it’s the EU that holds all the negotiating cards in Brexit, and they made a call for everyone to get behind Theresa’s hard as nails Brexit while forgetting that 48% of people voted to remain. They forgot the difference between democracy and majoritarianism. They forgot a plan for Brexit. They forgot that the EU is going to do its utmost to ensure that whatever deal the UK gets when it leaves the EU it’s going to be worse than the deal it’s got just now as a part of it.

They forgot that just three years ago they were telling us that Scotland was an equal partner in a family of nations. They forgot that they promised we would remain a part of the EU if we voted against independence. They forgot to build those frigates on the Clyde. They forgot they promised those jobs in the tax centres in East Kilbride and Cumbernauld would be safe. They forgot the support that was promised for Scotland’s renewable energy industry. They forgot that we were supposed to get the most powerful devolved parliament in the history of the multiverse and the nearest thing possible to federalism.

It’s possible that, given that they’ve forgotten so many other things, the British government forgot that the BBC is supposed to be neutral and unbiased and not the propaganda arm of the British state and thought that by letting the Scottish government know via the television news that they were about to trigger Brexit that this counted as informing them through a British government channel. Maybe they thought that by treating the BBC as an official channel of UK government communication they could persuade recalcitrant independence supporters to pay their licence fee.

But back in the real world, as opposed to the world inhabited by Gordie Broon and Sky News in which full fat federalism is a real prospect, we all know that the British government didn’t forget to inform the Scottish or other devolved administrations at all. It just didn’t enter their arrogant heads in the first place that there was any reason why they ought to have informed them. It genuinely didn’t occur to them that Theresa May’s protestations that she was consulting the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments and keeping them fully informed would be interpreted in ways other than Theresa intended them to be interpreted – as meaningless sound bites for the benefit of an English media. It’s not that they forgot to inform the Scottish government. It’s that they didn’t care enough in the first place to bother. Scotland merits no greater consideration to the English nationalists of Torydom than any other possession of the crown.

Unionists accuse the SNP of grievance hunting, but that’s not true. The SNP doesn’t have to go hunting for grievances, the Tories hand them to them on a plate, tied up in a bow made from red white and blue bunting. Every time Theresa May opens her gob and says that the Union is precious, she’s providing another grievance, because everyone can see the difference between what Theresa says and what she does. She didn’t call the Scottish government because she wants to remind us of our place.

That’s a place where we do what we’re told, we’re grateful that Westminster manages our affairs for us, and we retreat to the kailyard telling bedtime stories for the benefit of tourists from Trowbridge and Taunton about how we used to be a real country once. We get to be the tartan ribbon that bedecks English nationalism that allows English nationalism to pretend that it’s not nationalism at all. Then we can turn on Sky News and listen to a panel of English voices explaining Scotland to us and be grateful for their wisdom and insight when they tell us that Scottish independence is based on hating the English and it has really been all about England all along.

The choice we have facing us in Scotland is a choice between determining our own future, or having that future determined for us by a government in Westminster that doesn’t think we’re important enough to keep us informed about its decisions. But there’s something even more important that the British government forgot. They forgot that Scotland has an alternative. They forgot that Scotland will have its say whatever Theresa thinks. And they forgot that the more they overlook the interests of Scotland, the more likely it becomes that Scotland will vote to forget them.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

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Journey to Yes, N° 9

The latest instalment in PhantomPower’s inspiring Journey to Yes series. Mark says Yes. We follow different people’s fascinating journeys to Yes and self-determination for Scotland. Londoner and businessman Mark followed Scotland’s first independence debate closely and had been inspired by the Yes campaign with its progressive and inclusive values. After the Brexit result, Mark was impressed by Scotland’s pro-EU vote and the Scottish Government’s handling of events. In November 2016 Mark sold his London home and moved with business and family to set-up in Scotland and join the Yes campaign. Mark reflects on the UK Government’s handling of Brexit and Scotland’s huge potential as an enlightened, open and independent nation.
https://twitter.com/projectfarceuk
https://twitter.com/markmckergow
Ninth in the series.
If you’d like to share your journey to Yes – get in touch @ phantompower2014@gmail.com

A gas giant in a distant galaxy

It’s as predictable as a Unionist on social media playing the victim card, or as Ruth Davidson having the gall to think that as leader of an opposition who came a poor second she’s got the right to dictate to the Scottish government about something they’ve got a mandate to do, while simultaneously complaining that Scotland’s an SNP one party state. Scotland must be the only one party state in the universe in which a party that got a mere 22% of the vote thinks it’s got the right to determine government policy. But we expect these things. This is Scotland after all. This is what happens in a country that’s treated like a region, a nation that’s relegated to the same status as a county council.

As predictable as all these things is that every time the topic of Scottish independence rears its head, the hulking sulk of Gordie Broon hoves into view offering the pretty baubles of federalism like a fairy godmother who’s got herself confused with an ugly sister. There’s been an intervention. Only this time he really, really, means it. Honest to God and pinkie promise. Despite the fact that this is what he was offering way back in 2014 and swore on the life of the Labour party that he personally would sit on the Prime Minister’s doorstep until the offer was fulfulled, and then he pissed off to a lucrative directorship with a financial company instead while his own party along with the Tories and the Lib Dems treated his vow like toilet paper, this time he’s really serious. Honest. No laughing at the back there.

Let’s be honest and give Gordie the benefit of the doubt. It’s not that there’s no chance at all of Broon’s federalism fairy ever appearing and waving her magic sparkly wand, it’s just that the chances of it happening are pretty remote. There’s an airless planet orbiting a gas giant in a distant galaxy thousands of light years away, that sort of remote. It’s not that it doesn’t exist. It’s just that by the time anyone gets there we’ll all be long dead. Although come to think of it an airless planet orbiting a gas giant in a distant galaxy is not an unfair description of a Labour party in Scotland that’s still caught in Gordie’s gravity. Microbes which eke a meagre living under that planet’s icecap have a greater chance of forming the next government and introducing full fat federalism than Labour does.

The reporter on Sky News who’s attending the SNP conference in Aberdeen wasn’t able to bring on any SNP representatives to discuss Gordie’s proposals, because they were still creased over with laughter and unable to appear on camera without dissolving into a fit of hysterics. However he did insist that the federalism fairy was useful for the Unionist campaign, because there are people who think of politics as a Disney cartoon and think that they only need to find a magic wand and a pumpkin in order to get a great Brexit deal for Britain. The tragedy for the United Kingdom is that those people with their Disney cartoon view of reality are in charge of the British government. Although to be fair, they’ve already got the talking rodents.

There is as much chance of Theresa May announcing that she believes there’s a reasonable and strong case for Scottish independence, and actually giving a speech that wasn’t a succession of tautological soundbites as there is of anything that issues from Broon’s gob coming to pass. He had his chance when he was Prime Minister. He had a chance when there was still a Labour party with decent prospects of election. He did nothing except to look after his own selfish interests, and that fact is not unconnected with the fact that Labour in Scotland is now bouncing about in the bottom of the polls looking set to be overtaken by the Greens. Labour is in no condition to deliver anything at all, and Broon bears much of the responsibility for destroying his party’s credibility and election prospects. Whatever Broon says is as much an irrelevance as the man himself. The man couldn’t deliver an envelope even if his hand was guided towards the letter box.

What’s far more relevant than Gordie treading the carpet in a windowless room before an invited audience of press, is the dance that Nicola Sturgeon is leading Theresa May. That’s the real show, and Theresa is tripping over her kitten heels. Her apparent summary rejection of an independence referendum didn’t come from a position of strength, but of weakness. Even the possibility of a referendum severely undermines Theresa’s already weak hand in Brexit negotiations with the EU. She can only attempt to block Scotland from having a vote, but there are other routes to a referendum apart from the Scottish government seeking Westminster’s consent to a Section 30 Order. The more Theresa tries to block, the more she is seen to obstruct a clear mandate given to the SNP by the Scottish electorate in 2015 to hold a referendum if there was a material change in circumstances, the more likely she makes it that when a vote is finally held that she will lose it. Anything that Gordie comes out with is a mere attempt at distraction from the real show. And that’s a show that’s only going to end one way, with a Scottish referendum.

May’s Brexit strategy is in chaos. There is no plan, there is no planning. All there is is the hope that the EU will cave in and give Britain everything that Theresa wants. There’s no sign that they’re going to do so. It’s very much in the interests of the EU to ensure that whatever deal Britain gets from Brexit, it will leave it worse off than remaining a part of the EU. If leaving the EU leads to a country getting a better deal, then there’s no point to the EU at all. The 27 member states are going to do all the can to make sure that Britain’s interests suffer. They’re not doing that out of vindictiveness, but out of political necessity. There’s a very real prospect that the UK might end up with the worst of all possible worlds, and crash out of the EU with no deal at all.

Scotland has an escape plan. Scotland has a way out of this looming catastrophe, and we’re going to take it. Gordie Broon’s federalism fairy wand won’t distract us from the task ahead.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

Getting the last word

The Maybot has spoken. Scotland, you’re not allowed to decide your own future. Remember all that about being a respected and equal partner in a family of nations? Well what it really meant was that we’re all equally under Theresa’s thumb. She’ll decide what future we’re getting. She’ll decide Brexit. She’ll decide everything. And Scotland can shut up and do what she tells us. That’s the equality and respect that you show to a piece of dog crap caught on your kitten heel.

Theresa doesn’t want Scotland to have another independence referendum because it’s inconvenient for her. It’s terribly inconvenient because it means she won’t be able to sell out the Scottish fishing industry in return for access to the European single market for the financial sector in the City of London. It means she won’t be able to use Scotland’s resources and exports as bargaining counters in Brexit. It means she won’t be able to sell Scotland off. She’s angry about that, because it’s her Brexit party, and Scotland spoils it for her. She’s angry because Scotland just reminded her that there are other people involved here, and we have views and we have opinions and we are damned if they’re not going to be voiced.

The Prime Minister’s insistence that Scotland must wait until after Brexit is concluded before we can hold a referendum is based on a lie. She says that it’s not fair for Scotland to have a vote before the terms of Brexit are known. But that’s not what is going to happen. We will know exactly what the terms of Brexit are by the time a referendum was due, in late 2018 or early 2019, before the UK is pushed out of the Brexit door and into Theresa’s sub-Trumpian dystopia of immigrant bashing and nostalgic nationalist isolationism. An agreement has to be reached, and then it must be ratified. We will know exactly what that agreement is by late 2018, and every country in Europe will then have its opportunity to ratify it and say whether they agree with it.  Except one.

Theresa is saying that every country in Europe can ratify the Brexit agreement, except Scotland. Scotland is to get no say at all. Scotland isn’t to be allowed to say if we agree with Theresa’s agreement, that is if she’s managed to make any agreement at all and we’re not facing the increasingly likely nightmare of being thrown out of the EU without any deal at all being struck. Little nations like Estonia and Malta will get their say on Brexit. They will be fully involved in the negotiation process.  They’ll have the legal right to debate the Brexit agreement in their parliaments, to discuss it in full, and then will have the legal power to decide whether their parliaments and peoples will accept a deal which has been struck with the full participation of their own governments. That’s a deal that will involve selling out Scotland’s resources, but Scotland won’t just be refused the right to ratify the deal, we won’t even be involved in negotiating it in the first place.  We get no say, no consent, no voice.

The British government is hell bent on determining the franchise for the next Scottish referendum. They don’t want us to have it before Brexit comes into effect because they don’t want EU citizens to have a vote and to have a voice. They’re scared of democracy. They’re terrified that this time they’ve gone too far and the people of Scotland, those of us who live in this country and have made it our home, will tell them that we reject their callous and cold-hearted rejection of human decency that leads them to prioritise the demonisation of migrants above all other public policies. They don’t want Scotland to have a vote until it’s too late. They’re determined that we will be tied to the lump of concrete that passes for the British ship of state and we will drown with the rest of them.

Scotland will not have its referendum when it’s convenient for a Prime Minister who has no mandate in this country. Scotland will have it when it’s convenient for Scotland. Theresa May has shattered the illusion that we live in a Union. We don’t. We live in a unitary state in which Scotland is a possession of English nationalism. We live in a country in which the views and distinctiveness of Scotland are traduced, insulted and abused by a government which knows little about us and which cares even less. Theresa May has just turned around to the people of Scotland and stuck two fingers up at us. This isn’t a rebuff to the SNP. This isn’t a slight against Nicola Sturgeon. This is a calculated insult against Scottish democracy, against the entire concept of Scottish nationhood. Theresa May has just told us that we are no more or less than an English region, and we will do what she tells us.

If democracy in Scotland means anything, then it is for Scotland to decide when it’s time for Scotland to make the decisions that are best for Scotland, not Theresa May. According to the Guardian, this hardline decision from the UK government comes after pressure from Ruth Davidson, a politician who lost the last Scottish elections. We now find ourselves living in a country where politicians who lose votes have more influence than those who won them. That’s not a democracy. That’s an authoritarian regime. Unionists complain about the dictatorial tendencies of the SNP because the party had the audacity to win three elections in a row, but the real dictators in Scotland are those serial losers in the Conservative party who still insist on imposing their views on a Scotland which has repeatedly rejected them.

Theresa May is a coward. She’s afraid of democracy. She’s afraid of being challenged in the Commons and elsewhere. She’s afraid of the Scottish people. She’s afraid of our voice. She’s too afraid to come out and state baldly that she will block a Section 30 Order. Instead she hints. She prevaricates. She says it’s not the right time. But she won’t come out and state boldly that she’s going to block it. She’s too much of a coward for that. She doesn’t know the difference between democracy and majoritarianism, she doesn’t know the difference between consent and being silenced. Scotland will not be silenced.

This is Scotland’s future. This is our choice and our decision. I’ve already detailed in a previous blog that there are paths to a referendum that don’t require the consent of Theresa May. The Scottish government should press ahead with its bill for a referendum and demand a Section 30 Order. If that is refused, then those other options are available to us. Scotland will be having its vote when it suits Scotland, and we will go into that vote in the full knowledge that the Conservatives are determined to squash Scottish democracy and refuse Scotland the right to have any say in its own future. All Theresa May did today was to hammer another nail into the coffin of the Union. She’s burying her precious under a pile of bile and disdain. It doesn’t matter what she says, Scotland will have the final word.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

Journey to Yes, N°8

Latest in the series of Phantom Power’s inspiring Journey to Yes video series.  Elizabeth says Yes. As more Scots who voted No to independence reconsider their decision, we follow their journey to Yes and self-determination for Scotland. Scotland is a small business nation. There are around 350,000 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) operating in Scotland, providing an estimated 1.2 million jobs. Elizabeth owns a cosmetics business that depends on exports and the EU single market. Her decision to vote no was guided by fears that Scotland might not gain membership of the EU. The election of a Conservative majority in the 2015 made Elizabeth begin to reflect on her vote. Originally from Alabama, Elizabeth’s childhood experiences of segregation instilled a deep distrust of divisive politics. Brexit and rise of increasingly right-wing Tory party caused Elizabeth to reject UK politics and fully rethink her position on independence. Brexit now represents a real and present threat to Elizabeth’s business and the workers she supports. Elizabeth explains the barriers to trade that hard Brexit will bring including loss of access to vital EU single market and customs union at the hands of a UK Conservative Govt that does not understand the scale and complexity of Brexit. Scotland is now in a unique position to escape the economic damage Elizabeth believes will diminish the UK economy and can build a new and extraordinary independent nation.
Eighth in a series.
NB David Cameron resigned in 2016 and not 2014 as shown. This error will be updated in future.
If you’d like to share your journey to Yes – get in touch @ phantompower2014@gmail.com

Every day of the week and twice on a Sunday

I watched Channel 4 news on Tuesday evening, and for the third or fourth time since Nicola Sturgeon made her announcement the previous morning, a reporter made the bald statement that the economic case for independence is now poorer than it was, and that it’s the Unionists who hold the economic cards. This is catagorically untrue, and needs to be nailed. We cannot, as independence supporters, allow this myth to go unchallenged. The truth is that Brexit means the economic case for independence has never been stronger.

There is no status quo this time. The greatest single argument that the Unionists had last time was why risk the uncertainties of independence when you can stick with the security, stability and safety of the known quantity of the UK. That argument has been destroyed by Westminster itself, by Theresa May’s arrogant pursuit of the hardest Brexit imaginable and her willingness to countenance the UK falling out of the EU without any trade deal at all. That means there can be no safety and guarantee of economic success in the United Kingdom. There is no stability of the pound sterling. There is no security of job prospects in a Tory Brexit Britain. This is not an appealing economic argument to put in favour of remaining a part of the UK.

The claimed benefits of Brexit were described as “a lie” and we were assured that a large number of jobs would be lost if Britain were to leave the EU. We were told that experts believed that Brexit would make the UK a less safe and certain place, a poorer place. In an article in the Financial Times it was stated, “There is no doubt in my mind that there will be a large economic cost of Brexit. It is agreed near unanimously by economists and businesses large and small.” Those statements were made by no less a person than Ruth Davidson herself, the same Ruth who said that we should trust in the experts “every day of the week and twice on a Sunday”. That’s the very same Ruth who’s now telling us we need to make the best of Brexit and who is desperately trying to avoid the subject of the economic damage that it’s going to do to Scotland. Although to be fair, she doesn’t have to avoid it too strenuously as the Unionist media aren’t really pursuing her vigorously on the topic. But the independence movement will.

So let’s look at what some experts say. Some experts warn that Brexit puts some 80,000 Scottish jobs at risk. In other assements, according to economic forecasts by those experts in whom we should trust every day of the week and twice on a Sunday, real earnings in the UK could fall by 10% by the year 2030 as a result of Brexit. That last is a forecast made by Simon Wren-Lewis, a professor of economic policy at Oxford University, a real economist and not a Unionist blogger with a penchant for graphs. In an article in the New Statesman  explaining why Brexit makes Scottish independence more economically attractive than the alternative of remaining a part of the UK, Professor Wren-Lewis argues that both an independent Scotland and a post-Brexit Britain are facing a difficult economic future. But, he argues, the prospects for an independent Scotland are far brighter.

The crucial difference is that an independent Scotland with full access to the EU single market will find it considerably easier to get out of economic difficulties than a Brexit Britain which is economically isolated from the rest of the world. That’s the key. An independent Scotland will prioritise the development of the Scottish economy, it will put Scottish jobs first and foremost, and it will have the tools to grow the Scottish economy successfully and profitably and access to the markets that can make that happen. In a Brexit Britain we will be an afterthought which exists purely to be stripped of assets and resources, with public services underfunded and under provided, and with little or restricted access to markets other than the contracting and stressed so-called UK single market.

Given the severe financial stresses that a Brexit Britain is going to face, the Barnett Formula is unlikely to survive more than a few months beyond a No vote in the forthcoming Scottish referendum. As a part of the UK we are facing an uncertain and difficult financial future, and that’s likely to be for the long term. As an independent country, it’s true that we face a difficult period of readjustment in the short term, but it will be far easier for Scotland to escape those difficulties.

It needs to be repeatedly stated that Scotland’s economy does not depend on the price of oil. Despite the collapse in oil prices over the past few years, the Scottish economy was scarcely affected. It’s interesting to note that in the same period during which UK revenues from oil were devastated, Norway continued to draw healthy, albeit reduced, profits from its oil fields. The difference is due to the different tax regimes in each country. An independent Scotland needn’t give the same massive tax breaks to oil companies as the UK does, and therefore we’d benefit more from our oil and gas resources, even though the price of oil is lower than it was during the last independence referendum.

If Scotland remains a part of the European single market by becoming an independent country, we’d be in a position to attract jobs and inward investment that currently go to the rest of the UK. Independence could bring about a jobs bonanza for Scotland. The alternative we face are the potential 80,000 jobs lost due to Brexit. That doesn’t sound to me like the Unionists have all the economic arguments in their favour, quite the reverse.

Then there’s the argument constantly cited by Unionists that Scotland does far more trade with the rest of the UK than it does with the EU, an argument which conveniently overlooks all the trade Scotland does with the rest of the world which is enabled by trade deals we have as a part of the EU. I’ll give Professor Wren-Lewis’s response to that in full.

… Scotland currently does a lot more trade with rUK than with the EU. If Scotland became part of the single market, and that resulted in trade barriers being created between Scotland and rUK, the immediate impact on Scotland’s trade would be negative. That would be another short-term cost. But in the longer term, Scotland would be better off with this arrangement. To see why, imagine two parts of this island, one which has easy access to the huge market which is the EU and one which did not. It is obvious which part would be expected to grow more rapidly.

The choice facing Scotland in this referendum is between two economic uncertainties and difficulties. There’s the short term uncertainty and difficulty of independence which brings with it the prospect of growth, prosperity and stability in the medium to long term. Or there’s the uncertainty and difficulty of Brexit, in which we face penury and impoverishment in the short term, and in the medium term, and in the long term, and we will be utterly at the mercy of a vindictive Tory government in Westminster which will suck us dry and cast away the dried up husks of broken Scottish communities. I know which I prefer. I know where the economic arguments lie, and they don’t lie with the Union, they are with independence every day of the week and twice on a Sunday.

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