The millstone that is Westminster

Scotland is making significant progress in tackling the coronavirus epidemic. For the past three days there have been no reported deaths from covid-19 in the country. It’s a small but very hopeful sign that the efforts of the Scottish Government to get the virus under control are working. We cannot be complacent, although progress has been made it’s fragile and easily derailed. Unfortunately one of the biggest risk factors that Scotland faces in provoking a second wave of virus deaths is the British Government.

Scotland has an open border with England. Indeed, British nationalists insist that there is no border at all. Whatever progress Scotland makes toward containing the virus can all too easily be undone.

In England the British Government is cheerfully opening up the country paying far more heed to focus groups and favourable headlines than it is to scientific and public health advice. Despite the fact that Scotland and Wales remain in lockdown, people in England are being encouraged to travel, to meet up, and there’s nothing to prevent them coming across the border. There are already numerous anecdotal reports of holidaymakers from England arriving in parts of Scotland in large numbers. There is pressure to reduce the two metre social distancing rule to one metre. There are demands that the shops and businesses must open up quicker. The British Government shows every sign of acceding to these demands. It’s putting Scotland’s progress toward containing the virus at risk.

For all that Boris Johnson claimed that he was relying upon the common sense of the British public, events over the past week have shown that there are far too many people who have precious little in the way of common sense. We are already seeing the first ripples of a second wave, today there are reports in the press that the Home Office is considering the introduction of a localised lockdown in the English city of Leicester to deal with a spike in infections there. The crowded scenes on English beaches this week mean that there’s a very frightening prospect of a fresh outbreak of the virus in the communities that those sunseekers will return to.

In dealing with this crisis Scotland has additional problems that it would not face as an independent country. There are British nationalist idiots in Scotland who freely declare on social media that they will take their cue on how to act during this epidemic from the British Government in London and not from the Scottish Government in Edinburgh. In this action they are encouraged by British nationalist parties in Scotland who constantly undermine the Scottish Government and create public distrust in the advice that’s being given. When the advice given by those governments significantly differs, that becomes a serious problem.

Ireland doesn’t have to deal with a block of its population who say that they’ll follow Westminster’s advice instead of Dublin’s. It doesn’t have a significant chunk of its media which promotes the advice of Westminster instead of the advice of Dublin. Scotland has all these problems. As well as people in Scotland who openly and knowingly choose to ignore advice from the Scottish Government which conflicts with the advice from Westminster, there are many more who are bathed in a media sea which gives far greater prominence and publicity to the advice given for England and who are genuinely confused about what actions are or are not permitted in Scotland.

This problem is compounded because we have a British Government which doesn’t bother to inform, never mind consult with, the devolved administrations about changes to UK Government advice or policy regarding containment measures. Just this week Westminster announced that it was going to introduce so-called airbridges with certain European countries which will allow British citizens and residents to travel abroad on holiday without having to go into quarantine. This development came as news to the Scottish and Welsh Governments, which apparently learned about it from the press along with the public.

This is by no means the first time that the British Government has failed to consult with or engage with the governments of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland. When she appeared before a House of Commons select committee, Scottish health minister Jeane Freeman told MPs that she had had almost no contact at all with the Scotland Secretary Alister Jack – yet he is supposedly the minister in the UK Government who is responsible for ensuring that Scotland’s voice is heard at a UK level. Time after time the UK Government introduces some change, most commonly driven not by scientific advice but by its desire to chase some good headlines, and the governments of the devolved administrations are left playing catch up.

The greatest problem that Scotland faces in tackling the coronavirus is a British Government which acts so irresponsibly. If Scotland was an independent country it would have been able to act far more decisively and effectively in tackling the virus. We would not constantly be having to look over our shoulder at what the British Government was doing. The Scottish Government would not have to defend itself against attacks from a media which accused it of undermining British Government advice by taking different action to Westminster. We would be able to introduce health checks and controls on our southern border. And the Scottish Government would not constantly be wrong footed by a British Government which introduced substantial changes to policy which affect Scotland without informing the Scottish Government.

When this epidemic started British nationalists confidently predicted that the biggest global crisis since WW2 would make people in Scotland realise that Scotland needs the UK. It would, they told us, signal the end of the independence movement. They were badly wrong. It has instead shown Scotland how we are damaged and held back by a British Government which has no interest at all in looking after Scotland or taking Scotland’s needs or concerns into account. It has shown us that we can do a lot better without the millstone of Westminster holding us back. The focus of the next independence referendum campaign will be how the British state is damaging us.


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newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Better than this

Some British nationalists, presumably for the bantz, decided to mount a banner likening Nicola Sturgeon to a Nazi on a fence close to the official residence of the First Minister. Complete with a faux Germanic font and a racist misspelling of English as spoken by the cast playing the Germans in ‘Allo ‘Allo, it was topped off with a photo of the First Minister with a Hitler moustache. It’s the sort of thing you’d only find funny if you have a sense of humour that makes Mother Brown’s Boys seem sophisticated and your politics are those of Nigel Farage. Which is a good description of a sizeable contingent of the British nationalist roasters who post regularly on Twitter.

On Friday Nigel Farage blamed the knife attack in Glasgow on asylum seekers, stirring up racism, and stirring up the racist thugs who have threatened to take to the city’s streets again over the weekend. By Saturday it was being reported that staff at the hotel had previously warned about the assailant’s mental health issues. The very night before the attack they had warned that he was mentally unstable. Other residents in the hotel warned that the man was suffering from severe paranoia and had threatened violence. Three of the victims of the attack were asylum seekers themselves. It had nothing to do with Nigel’s pathetic attempts at race baiting or warnings about terrorism, and a great deal to do with the despair into which vulnerable and damaged people fall once they become enmeshed in the UK’s cruel and heartless immigration and asylum system.

But the cruelty of the British state doesn’t stop British nationalists from blaming asylum seekers and migrants. The extreme fringe of British nationalism has been emboldened and empowered by mainstream British nationalist politicians, in particular a Conservative party which has adopted the politics of Ukip wholesale. We have a part time prime minister with a long and inglorious history of making racist, xenophobic and homophobic comments. Lying and cheating has become normal in British politics. The blame for this lies squarely with mainstream British nationalist politicians.

In Scotland we have in addition the constitutional dimension, and British nationalist politicians have never hesitated to characterise the entire independence movement and mainstream pro-independence parties with the views of a tiny and unrepresentative extreme fringe. It is commonplace for supporters of independence to face baseless accusations of anti-English racism, to be blamed entirely for stoking divisions. British nationalist politicians regularly paint a picture of a Scotland which is riven with hatred. In all this, British nationalists consistently regard themselves as innocent victims of a vile Scottish nationalism. By doing this, mainstream British nationalist politicians are creating the circumstances where British nationalist fascist thugs feel that they are justified in running riot in the streets of Scotland’s cities searching for migrants, independence supporters, or anyone who is different to attack.

Lib Dem MSP [insert blank space here] for Edinburgh tweeted a photo of the banner of Nicola Sturgeon and wailed “Aren’t we better than this?” [Insert blank space here] only succeeded in giving the banner and its claim that the SNP are Nazis greater publicity and in making the idiots who created it very happy indeed. The first rule of dealing with wilful idiocy in public life is not to amplify it or to publicise it, which is why Lib Dem MSP [insert blank space here] will henceforth be known as [insert blank space here]. Although this is a trifle unfair – a blank space would do a far better job of standing up for Scotland’s interests than [insert blank space here].

There’s a number of points here, the first of which is that [insert blank space here] wouldn’t respond to an offensive banner put up by independence supporters using the first person plural pronoun. Othering is the way they go when dealing with independence supporters, but when it’s British nationalists who are the issue, it’s “Scotland’s shame”. This is the nub of the problem. [Insert blank space here] and his party have been very good throwing a not inconsiderable quantity of mud themselves. Just ask Michelle Thomson. However the poor behaviour of British nationalists is not to be regarded as a problem caused by British nationalism.

‘We’ as in independence supporters are most definitely better than this [insert blank space here], because we don’t call our opponents in mainstream political parties ‘Nazis’. This is not unrelated to the fact that there is a considerable number of actual Nazis amidst the ranks of British nationalists as we have seen in George Square in Glasgow over the past few days and we need the word to refer to the British nationalist fascists who have been empowered and emboldened by the kind of language used by those of a more mainstream British nationalist persuasion.

Which leads us on to the second point. No, [insert blank space here], you are not better than this. British nationalism has a serious problem with the racists, sectarian bigots, homophobes, and out and out fascists who infest its ranks. The constant and unremitting SNPbaddery from the mainstream British nationalists has only fomented, fostered, and encouraged their extremist fringe. That much was proven by the response of British nationalists to [insert blank space here]’s tweet. They showed that no, they’re not better than this. They revel in it. They love it. They take huge pleasure from it. And let’s face it, it’s probably the only pleasure that they’ve got, what with British nationalism being the political manifestation of misery.

British nationalism has a sickness at its very heart. It’s a sickness that for far too long we have been discouraged from examining. British nationalism teaches us that it is normal for a country to doubt itself. It tells us that we are dependent and incapable, that we are risible, weak, and trivial. It tells us that we are infants who need to be looked after. It tells us that it’s normal to despise your own culture and languages. It tells us that it’s normal to allow bigots to parade down the streets of our towns and cities banging big drums and singing songs of hatred about a large minority of their fellow country men and women. It tells us that it’s not nationalism to believe in the British state, that being British is the standard by which all other nations are to be judged. Well it’s not bloody normal. None of this is normal. It’s a neurosis.

British nationalism blames the weak, the poor, the marginalised. It blames the poor for their poverty while the British establishment enriches the wealthy. It blames Scotland for problems that are visited upon it by the British state. It’s quick to take offence and it’s utterly shameless. Yet Scotland is better than this. It’s better than British nationalism. That’s the point that [insert blank space here] can’t bring himself to face up to.


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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.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Dugcast fae the dughoose – with Anne McLaughlin

This week I am joined via Zoom by one of the nicest people in Scottish politics, Glasgow North East MP Anne McLaughlin. Anne won the seat from Labour’s Willie Bain in 2015 on the biggest swing ever recorded in a UK General Election. She lost it in 2017 to Labour’s Paul Sweeney, but regained it in the General Election in December last year. We chat about her experiences as an MP, how things have changed between her first stint in Parliament and the second. We also discuss prospects for independence, her confidence that we’ll get another referendum, and much more besides.

Direct link to the podcast if the embedding doesn’t work for you – click here https://soundcloud.com/user-291670852/dugcast-from-the-dughoose-with-anne-mclaughlin-mp


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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


331 stabs in the back

What have Scottish Conservative MPs Andrew Bowie, David Duguid, Alister Jack, John Lamont, David Mundell, and Douglas Ross all got in common? There are so many possible answers to that question, none of which reflect well upon the MPs concerned. You could say that they’re selfish British nationalist shills who wouldn’t stand up for Scotland if their mother’s life depended on it, and during the coronavirus crisis it very possibly might. You could say that every single one of them believes that Scotland’s proper place in the UK is to meekly follow along with whatever England has voted for. You could say that there’s not enough bone in the lot of them to construct a single spine. And you would be perfectly correct in all of those characterisations.

However in this instance what they’ve all got in common is that every single one of this sorry shower of British nationalist apologists voted against a motion in the Commons which would have ensured that all NHS workers and care staff received weekly tests for coronavirus. What they’ve got in common is that in 2017 every single one of them voted against a pay rise for nurses. And what they also have in common is that all of them repeat the platitudes about clapping for NHS workers because they’ll make a show of supporting key workers, but won’t follow through with anything that actually has any substance to it. Yeah, this doesn’t reflect well upon them either, but then they’re Tory MPs so what were you expecting. Being a git is very much on brand for this lot. They don’t care. They didn’t care. They never cared. This is what you get when you vote Tory.
https://www.thelondoneconomic.com/politics/full-list-of-the-331-tory-mps-who-voted-against-weekly-testing-of-nhs-and-care-staff/25/06/
https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/all-of-the-tory-mps-who-voted-against-a-pay-rise-for-nurses-in-2017-1-6606825

The six selfish sook ups belong to the same branch office as Surname Surname, who has of late taken to any Scottish media outlet which will give him airtime or column inches, which is to say pretty much all of them, demanding testing for workers in care homes. Yet given the opportunity to vote in order to ensure that precisely that was made mandatory, his colleagues in London voted it down. Perhaps someone ought to point out to Surname Surname that he no longer has a leg to stand on in the demands he makes of the Scottish Government, but knowing the Scottish media they probably won’t.

The shiftless selfish six weren’t alone of course. 331 Conservative MPs voted against weekly testing for the most vulnerable workers in the UK. In doing so they ensured that something that millions wanted would not come to pass. It was like that movie The Spartans, where a band of 300 defied the will of the entire Persian Empire, only this time with arseholes instead of heroes. Tories gonna Tory. To tory, that’s a verb meaning to act like a complete and utter selfish dick. As in, we all wanted to watch a movie on the telly last night, but Alister toried the remote control so he could see some documentary about how rich arseholes can be bigger arseholes.

NHS workers and care staff are exposed to the virus in a way that few others are. Their exposure is regular, intensive, and often lasts over a protracted period of time, all factors which are known to increase the chances of a person becoming infected. A higher percentage of NHS workers and care staff come from black and minority ethnic communities, who for various complex reasons grounded in institutionalised racism have a higher likelihood of dying from Covid-19. NHS workers and care staff put their lives on the line in order to keep the rest of us alive and healthy during a pandemic, but the Conservatives don’t think that they merit priority when it comes to testing. They agreed to it for Premier League footballers, but not for NHS workers and care staff.

Clapping costs nothing, you can have that. A picture of a rainbow drawn by a schoolkid costs nothing, you can have that too. Mouthing platitudes about how black lives matter costs nothing, you can have that as well. A wage rise and a weekly test, they cost money, so you can go die in poverty. When all that was required was a spot of clapping for a couple of minutes once a week, all you heard from the Tories was NHS heroes. When it comes to doing something constructive and meaningful, something that will cost the British Government money, those same MPs reply with a contemptuous sneer. It becomes a case of may the best immune system win. But they’ll happily spend £1 million so that Boris Johnson can have a garishly painted plane that looks like it’s from one of the crappier budget airlines, a plane paint job that was rejected from a remake of the Austin Powers movies for being too tasteless.

We can’t expect a senior cabinet minister to answer questions about the decision to throw NHS workers and care staff under the genetic lottery bus, the one which has the lie about extra funding for the NHS painted on the side of it. The British Government has decided to end its daily press conferences. It will be brushed under the carpet as Conservative MPs work themselves up into a conveniently distracting froth of outrage about Labour’s Rebecca Long-Bailey sharing a link to an interview in the Independent that allegedly contained an anti-semitic conspiracy theory.

There can be no clearer illustration that the Conservatives do not care about ordinary people. They do not care about protecting those vulnerable and essential workers that they hypocritically clap for. They care about their money, their careers, and their party. But then that’s exactly what we should expect from the Conservatives, a party whose sole political ideology is the institutionalisation of their own personal greed and avarice. When there is the inevitable second wave in coronavirus infections and some poor care workers or NHS workers succumb to the disease, their deaths will be on the Conservative party. But the Tories still won’t care.


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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The inevitable no

grievance
Well that didn’t take long, did it. Not even 24 hours had passed since the Scottish Government announced its plan to boost the Scottish economy to assist in Scotland’s recovery from the effects of lockdown, and the British Government refused to consider any cooperation with the extra borrowing powers that the plan required. You’ll have had your economy, Scotland. It came even before Kate Forbes, the Scottish Government Finance Minister, had penned her official request to Westminster with the request for additional borrowing powers.

Asked by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday whether he’d allow Holyrood to have the additional powers to borrow that would be needed, there was a flat refusal from the bloviating one to engage with the question, just a telling off about how much Scotland already gets, with the implication that it’s gratefulness that Johnson expects, not a request for additional borrowing powers. There was also an additional dig at the SNP, just for good measure.

It was entirely predictable, and in fact this blog predicted the refusal even as the plan was being set out. This is not to claim any great powers of foresight, predicting that this Conservative Government would refuse any extra powers for Holyrood no matter what the circumstances is a bit like predicting that Surname Surname will get humiliated at FMQs, or that the Labour party branch office in Scotland will take a wee look at strategies to get back into the good books of the Scottish electorate and choose the one that’s going to do it the greatest electoral damage. We all could see the contemptuous response of the part time Prime Minister coming.

British nationalists decry this as grievance mongering, when the Scottish Government asks for things that it knows it’s not going to get. This allows them to portray themselves as the poor victims of those vile nats stirring up trouble. It’s like an American health insurance company that refuses to pay for a much needed operation describing itself as a victim of grievance mongering from people with treatable medical conditions that will go untreated because of its intransigence. The Scottish Government is not asking for a luxury yacht – that would be the British Royal family – it’s asking to be allowed the means to haul Scotland out of a deep economic pit which the British Government’s incompetence has made even deeper.

So we now have yet another instance of Scotland being held back and damaged because of the British Government. Irrespective of what you think of the merits or demerits of the plan that was presented, we now have proof that Westminster will not permit Scotland to take any significant steps of its own to protect and develop its economy. The exact same blanket refusal from Westminster would have come irrespective of what the details of the plan were. The Conservatives do not want Scotland to succeed on its own terms. They demand that Scotland does what it’s told, even if that means we suffer economic damage, even if it means that lives are put at risk by the British Government’s reckless mishandling of the coronavirus epidemic.

In the absence of any Scotland-specific plan, thanks to the Conservatives, it is now likely that it will take Scotland’s economy years longer to recover from the blow delivered to it by lockdown. A report from the British nationalists’ favourite think tank that sounds like a knitwear college in Pitlochry, the Fraser of Allander Institute has warned that the Scottish economy will not return to pre-covid levels until 2022, and it could possibly take as long as four years. In order to ensure that the economy recovers as quickly and fully as possible, the Institute warned that there was need for urgent action from politicians. You know, action like the plan that was announced yesterday, the plan that Boris Johnson has dismissed without even examining it closely. There’s your union benefit right there. Stay in your box Scotland, the Conservatives will let you out on a short leash if you behave.

Boris Johnson’s refusal to allow Scotland’s Parliament the borrowing and fiscal powers that it needs in order to get the country out of the deep fiscal hole that the lockdown has tossed it into was of course the lead story on BBC Scotland on Wednesday evening. Ha ha. Don’t be silly. It didn’t even rate a mention.

This British Government has delivered the worst of all outcomes in its handling of the crisis. The UK has both the highest death toll from the virus, combined with the greatest economic damage. In his deluded imagination, Johnson continues to insist that the British response to the epidemic has been world beating. And so it has, just not in the way that he wants us to believe. His government is now telling Scotland that it can’t take its own measures to recover from the financial and economic effects of a crisis that has been made worse than it had to be because of the incompetence of the British Government.

Boris Johnson has a casual disregard for the truth. He has a casual disregard for how many children he’s got. The only thing he has not got a casual disregard for is his control freakery. The very notion that a part of the UK might wish to do things that aren’t all about him and that he can’t take credit for is an insult to his fragile ego. Instead of developing a plan to help its economy Scotland should instead take a leaf out of his book and sit and get pissed in Wetherspoon’s then get too drunk to worry about maintaining social distancing.

The territory upon which the next independence referendum will be contested is now being laid out. It’s very different terrain from the battleground of 2014. Now the focus will be on how Scotland is being held back and damaged by the UK. By refusing even to consider any sort of dedicated plan to help the recovery of the Scottish economy, Boris Johnson has just given the yes movement another powerful argument. The British Government holds Scotland back and prevents this country reaching its full potential. It would rather we were damaged and dependent than healthy and wealthy. Because if Scotland was able to develop its potential outwith Westminster’s control, we might just realise that not only don’t we need Westminster at all, but that Westminster is acting as a brake on our ambitions.

And finally … some Catalan music from the band Gossos. This is their 2008 hit Lliure com l’aire (Free like the air).


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

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The three B’s party

The Scottish branch office of the Three B’s party, British, Brexit and Boris, is exulting today that it forced a u-turn from the Scottish Government’s education minister John Swinney on kids returning to school in August. For weeks now the Scottish Sychophants for Boris party have been campaigning to get children back in schools. Not because they genuinely believe that it’s safe, not because they genuinely think that the scientific advice shows it’s not a danger to either children, adult staff, or that children who themselves may be at low risk won’t pass the virus on to vulnerable members of their families.  No, it’s all about point scoring and SNPbad.

In pursuit of this goal they’ve put forward failed political candidates who have done interviews with an unquestioning Scottish media presenting themselves as concerned and angry parents. It’s noticeable that the Scottish media was happy to present us with party members posing as members of the public angry that their kids are not at school, but it couldn’t be arsed enough to go out and find some parents who are worried about their children returning to school too early. There are plenty of parents in that category, but their worries don’t fit the agenda of SNPbad, so the Scottish media isn’t interested. What passes for news in Scotland is all too often just grubby, dirty, and nasty political opportunism from the Tories, amplified and broadcast by a Scottish media that’s as terrified of independence as the Tories are.

You don’t have to be gung-ho in full support of the Scottish Government’s education policy to be disgusted by the behaviour of the BBBs. To which we ought to add a fourth B, for Basterts. James McEnaney, who is a trenchant critic of the Scottish Government’s education policies, is appalled by just how low the Scottish Conservatives have been prepared to go. In the Scottish Tories we have a party which is cheerfully prepared to risk people’s lives in order to score a few cheap political points against Thatessempee.

This is a party which would demand that the Scottish Government force everyone to march off a cliff if that happened to be the policy that Bloviating Johnson’s government was imposing in England. In fact that’s pretty much what he’s doing. He’s getting rid of the 2 metre social distancing measure, despite experts like Sir David King, a former senior scientific advisor to the British Government, warning that it’s far too early. He’s allowing shops to reopen, travel to be unrestricted, and households to meet up. England is courting the risk of a second wave of infections, but the British Government is more concerned about what it’s told in focus groups that by what it’s told by scientists.

The opening up in England is politically driven, not driven by science. This is the model that the BBBs want Scotland to adopt uncritically. They are so terrified that any difference between Scotland and England might translate into increased support for independence that they are prepared to allow people to die. It’s bad enough to have to contend with a lethal virus, but Scotland has to contend with a Conservative plague as well. Thousands of extra deaths is a price they’ll happily make us pay if it means that they can avoid a rise in taxation levels. Given a choice between protecting people’s lives or protecting the profits of Wetherspoons, it’s a no brainer for the Tories.

The truth is that the Scottish Government is not caving in to the demands of the Tories. Schools returning in August is contingent upon measures remaining in place to drive down transmission of the virus. Plans for what’s called blended learning will remain in place in case they are needed. It turns out, surprise surprise, that the Tories had previously supported this, but now that their bosses in England want something different they’ve changed their minds. But then lying, dissembling, and being generally irresponsible is very much the Conservatives’ USP these days. The BBBB’s in Scotland are merely taking the lead from the blustering bloviator in chief.

Today Lying Bastert Johnson once again lied shamelessly to the House of Commons. Defending the utter failure of the much vaunted contact and trace app – the one which the Scottish Conservatives had insisted that Scotland must adopt too – he breezily asserted that there’s no country in the world which has a functioning contact and trace app. Which must come as a surprise to all those countries which do have a functioning contact and trace app. Countries like Germany, Singapore, or Iceland. Germany’s contact and trace app has been downloaded over 12 million times. Reuters reported that the app employs existing Apple and Google technology and measures close contacts using Bluetooth short-range radio. Contacts are logged securely on the users’ devices rather than a centralised server. Similar technology is being used by Australia, Poland, Latvia, Denmark, Japan and Italy. Iceland has a track and trace app which relies upon GPS tracking rather than Bluetooth, as of this week it has been downloaded by 38% of the Icelandic population. https://fullfact.org/health/coronavirus-track-and-trace-app-boris-johnson/

Johnson’s casual approach to the truth is matched only by his casual approach to doing his job. He’s more concerned about being able to tell his voters that they can go to the pub than he is about keeping people safe. He’s more concerned about the bank balances of the rich than he is about the lives of the poor. Once upon a time Prime Ministers were expected to tell the truth in the House of Commons and to resign if they did not. Instead we have a part time Prime Minister who demeans and cheapens his office, using it as a means to burnish his fragile ego. He’s no different from Donald Trump. All those Scottish Conservatives who once mounted Operation Arse to keep him away from the leadership of their party now have their tongues so far up that arse that they can tickle his tonsils. These are the same people who appear on the Scottish news to lecture us about leadership.

This is a party which tells us that we need to protect statues because it’s important to not to erase history. Then we have senior members of that party like Norman Tebbitt writing columns in the Telegraph to tell us that it’s important to defend the statue of Churchill because he fought against that left wing extremist – checks notes – Adolf Hitler. I never expected that Norman Tebbitt and the modern Tory party would so willingly admit that they are to the right of Adolf Hitler, but this is where we are now.

The Tories are a mess. They’re opportunistic, cynical, and just plain nasty. They’ve always been that way, but Norman Tebbitt can at least claim that when he was in government the Conservatives were competent in their nasty opportunistic cynicism. Now they just flail about angrily, not caring who or what they damage or destroy as they pursue their selfish careerism. Some of us remember the government of Thatcher which Tebbitt was a part of. I can’t believe that it would ever have been possible to harbour greater contempt for the Conservatives than we had for Thatcher’s government. This lot have managed it.

Scotland does better than the British Government because Scotland is prepared to diverge from it. Scotland’s more cautious strategy appears to be working. Since May the statistics for coronavirus infections, deaths, and hospital admissions for Scotland and England have been diverging. Despite England having ten times the population of Scotland, Scotland now has an average of 20 new cases daily – England is reporting 1300. Scotland is reporting 5 daily hospital admissions, England is reporting 330. Scotland is reporting an average of 3.5 deaths daily, England is reporting 130. Surname Surname and the rest of the BBBs want the Scottish Government to throw away that progress in the name of preserving their preciousssss union. (For up to date statistics on infections, deaths, and comparisons with other countries see https://www.travellingtabby.com/scotland-coronavirus-tracker/)

Their problem is that increasingly people in Scotland are coming to the conclusion that a so-called union which forces Scotland to mindlessly follow a British Government which has no concern for human life, which is chaotic, incompetent, and led by liars and charlatans, is not a union that’s worth protecting.


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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.


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


The smart bomb

Nicola Sturgeon launched a quiet little smart bomb into the independence debate yesterday. It has created very little stir, but then that’s what it was designed to do. This is a smartbomb whose payoff will come during the next Scottish elections and during the next official campaign for independence. It is nothing less than proof that the British Government is denying Scotland the ability to protect and build its economy as the world starts to recover from the pandemic.

The preliminary findings of a report by a group of advisors to the Scottish Government was announced yesterday during the daily press briefing. The Advisory Group on Economic Recovery (AGER) has called for an accelerated timetable for Westminster to deliver more powers to Holyrood in order that the Scottish Government has control of all the economic levers it requires for Scotland to make an economic recovery from the epidemic. The AGER has found that the Scottish Government needs considerably greater powers to borrow than the £450 million cap which is currently imposed upon Holyrood by Westminster.

Benny Higgins, the former chair of Tesco Bank, presented the report to the press. He pointed out that it’s likely to take 4% of economic output in investment to stimulate the economy in order to ensure that Scotland recovers properly in the months and years ahead. That works out at some £6 billion. The current cap on borrowing comes nowhere near that figure. The aim, he said, was to build a strong and resilient Scottish economy which is prepared for the next crisis, and not just to recover from the last one.

The report said that allowing the Scottish Government greater borrowing powers would benefit both Scotland and the rest of the UK. It would allow the Scottish Government to design a recovery programme tailored to the specific needs and requirements of the Scottish economy, and build much needed flexibility into the over-centralised British system.

The plan would see broadband delivered to every home in the country, a significant increase in capital investment, a guarantee of a job for 16 to 25 year olds, and investment in Scotland’s natural environment. It’s an ambitious plan, but it’s well within the capabilities of Scotland to deliver it.

Of course the details can be quibbled about. The plan is not exactly to everyone’s liking. The Greens for example want it to go further, faster, and to ensure greater emphasis on renewables and sustainability. Others have complained that there’s no provision in the report for a universal basic income scheme. Others consider that it’s too timid and too conservative. There is a great deal about the plan that doesn’t please everyone.

However if we were an independent nation, there is no question that although some details may differ this plan represents the sort of route that our government would be pursuing in order to deliver a recovery from the economic shock of the pandemic. Whatever the details of that plan, it would certainly involve borrowing requirements. And it’s those borrowing requirements which Holyrood lacks as a devolved parliament. That’s the key point here. It doesn’t really matter what plan the Scottish Government’s experts present to it if the Scottish Government as a devolved administration lacks the powers in order to deliver it.

You can read the report here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/towards-robust-resilient-wellbeing-economy-scotland-report-advisory-group-economic-recovery/

We are not an independent country. This report was presented to a government which doesn’t have the economic, legal, or financial powers to implement it. It’s like a plan to install a ladder in order to climb out of a deep pit which is presented to someone who has both hands tied behind their back. Scotland is dependent upon the willingness of the British Government to take off the handcuffs. There’s no indication that they are disposed to do so. They like keeping Scotland locked up. They are afraid of what we would do if we were unleashed. It just might convince people in Scotland that this country is after all perfectly capable of dealing with its own issues, and that would never do. Scotland must be kept dependent, and it’s only by tying Scotland’s hands that the British nationalists can continue to insist that Scotland is incapable.

There are few things that are certain in this post-covid world. Except that is that Ant n Dec will continue to pop up on every single ITV programme, Love Island contestants will continue to be as airheaded as a Scottish Conservative backbench MSP only considerably less malign, and that the British Government won’t give any extra powers to Holyrood, never mind on an accelerated timetable. This is a British Government which has taken powers away from Holyrood. It’s not about to start strengthening a devolution settlement that it utterly despises. It’s not about to start treating a Scottish Government with respect when up until now it has shown nothing but contempt.

Johnson and his swivel eyed Brextremists are certainly not going to give Scotland greater financial freedom so that it can take a different path within the UK. When Conservatives talk about strengthening the union, what they mean is that Scotland must be compelled to adopt and follow whatever political decisions have been taken by England. They are not about to give up any power, far less power over the economy. It is noticeable that the Scottish Conservatives have yet to make any official response to the publication of the report. They’ve not had their instructions from Westminster yet. But it’s a safe bet that the response from Westminster to a demand from Holyrood for greater borrowing powers is going to be no.

That means that when we are campaigning in the next Scottish elections, and campaigning for independence, we will be able to show that being a part of the UK is holding Scotland back. Scotland is unable to make a full economic recovery from the virus because the British state refuses to allow Scotland the powers to do so. That’s a powerful argument in our favour. We will instead be dependent upon whatever rewards the British Government chooses to bestow upon the rich, the powerful, and those global corporations which have former Conservative politicians on their boards.

And this is why the report is really a smart bomb aimed at the heart of the British nationalists’ arguments against independence. It’s going to explode their claims that Scotland is incapable of recovering from the effects of the crisis without the UK to look after us. We will now be able to show that it’s the British Government which is preventing Scotland from having the means to recover from the crisis, and then telling us that we need it. There’s a word for that sort of behaviour, a word that has recently become very popular. That word is gaslighting. A Scotland where there’s already majority support for independence won’t take kindly to being told it can’t have the powers it needs to recover from the biggest global crisis since WW2.


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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Grabbing Westminster by the balls

balls
The Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat is very worried by the opinion poll this weekend showing that support for Scottish independence has risen to 54%. He tweeted that the “end of union would destablise our whole nation and – because of our size – many others. It would leave families in trouble as our economy faltered and undermine our ability to help others. Our allies would be weaker and our enemies stronger.”

“Our nation”. The reason we are where we are is precisely because the Conservatives have treated Scotland not as a nation but as a possession. Our nation, that would be the Scottish nation Tom, is in trouble because our economy is threatened by the Brexit that we don’t want which your party is imposing upon us. If you believe as you claim to believe that this really is a union, then you need to explain why your party has treated it as a unitary state in which Scotland has been incorporated into Greater Englandshire.

It’s a shame that Tom’s party never thought about any of that when it poured petrol on the independence fire with its pursuit of Brexit at all costs, Tom. For the last six years since the first independence referendum the Conservatives have banged on and on about the importance of their precioussssss Union while their actions always undermine support for it. The Tories act as though they believe that people in Scotland won’t notice. All they have to do is to keep telling us how important the supposed union is to them, and they think that they can consistently act as though it’s only the political interests of England that matter and Scotland has to toe the line and do as it’s told. The party keeps antagonising undecided opinion in Scotland and moderate no voters as if it doesn’t expect there to be any consequences. But there are consequences. Scotland is a land of great patience, but it’s not infinite patience. That patience has now worn thin. The Conservatives have only got themselves to blame for that. This is your fault, Tom. Your fault and the fault of every other member of your party of selfish careerists.

You don’t get to demand that your national rights are respected and sovereign by dragging Scotland into a Brexit that it never wanted. You can hardly complain if Scotland turns around and says – well bugger this for a gemme o sodgies. Only you’re a Tory MP so you do get to complain. Hypocrisy is the only thing your party is any good at.

British nationalists – Scotland is a failed backwater and an economic burden with a £12 billion black hole. Also British nationalists – England’s economy and financial stability depend upon Scotland as does global peace and security. In the space of a series of opinion polls that have gone from showing majority support against independence to majority support in favour of it we’ve also gone from Scotland being an economic basket case that’s utterly dependent upon the good graces of the English taxpayer to Scotland is an economic basket case but the rest of the UK will be screwed financially by Scottish independence. There’s an inconsistency there. Still, I’m sure that someone in Scotland in Union will produce a graph about it for Scottish journalists.

Meanwhile Perth MP Pete Wishart has opened up the Plan B debate again by dint of appearing not to understand what the point of a Plan B actually is. He warns that strategies other than persistently asking Westminster for a Section 30 order only to be refused repeatedly would risk leaving Scotland in some sort of constitutional limbo. But that’s precisely where we are with the current strategy of asking Westminster for a Section 30 order. Westminster says no, and in response the Scottish Government says, “Oh OK then.” Then the SNP asks the independence movement to keep doing what it has been doing only to do more of it because just one more mandate to add to all the others will do the trick.

The entire point of Plan B is to break the current impasse. It’s about creating a set of circumstances which forces Westminster to pay heed, because at the moment there is absolutely no downside for Downing Street in refusing to agree to a Section 30 order. The point of a Plan B is to ensure that there are consequences for Johnson and the Conservative government if they refuse to listen to the democratic will of the people of Scotland. The point of Plan B is to force them to the negotiating table.

A plebiscite election, which is one possibility for an alternative to the current strategy of asking nicely for a Section 30 order, is not a de facto declaration of UDI. The point of a plebiscite election is to create sufficient political capital for independence within Scotland and in the wider world that the British Government is unable to ignore it. This is not Catalonia. There is nothing illegal within what passes for the British constitution in a plebiscite election. Winning that election allows the Scottish Government to use it as leverage to force Westminster to the negotiating table, and to use the legitimacy it grants in order to deal directly with third countries and international bodies to get them to put pressure on the British Government to negotiate.

The same applies to a lawful consultative referendum without a Section 30 order. It creates political capital both domestically and internationally which Westminster cannot ignore and which will force it to the negotiating table. Independence which is negotiated with Westminster is not UDI. It’s really that simple.

What does consign Scotland to a never ending constitutional limbo is to keep doing the same thing that we’ve been doing, without ensuring that there are any political consequences for the British Government, and expecting the British Government to act differently. If nothing else changes they will refuse a Section 30 order after the next Scottish elections and we will still be stuck in that limbo Pete warns about.

That said, I do agree that the next Scottish elections need to be fought on the basis of a mandate for another referendum. Not just the SNP but also the Greens and any other pro-independence party must have the demand for an independence referendum front and foremost in its manifesto. The manifesto commitments must be clear and unarguable.

Winning that election creates an undeniable moral and political legitimacy for the Scottish Government to pursue an alternative route to a referendum when it receives the inevitable refusal from Westminster and ensures that soft yesses and the more moderate no voters will support any alternative strategy. It’s vital that we ensure that an alternative strategy has as broad support as possible in order to give it the greatest chance of success. That can be a referendum without a Section 30 order, having tested its lawfulness in the courts. Or it can be a snap Scottish election called in order to provide a mandate for independence that Westminster cannot ignore.

The more that support for independence grows, the more of an incentive there is for Westminster to refuse a Section 30 order, while at the same time there are no consequences for them in refusing. It’s a perfect set of conditions for denying Scotland’s democratic will. That’s what Plan A does. What it does not address is the reality that at some point the intransigence of Westminster will have to be confronted head on.

The only way that Scotland will regain its independence is to be bold, to be brave, and to be imaginative. You don’t change the world by asking nicely. You change it by grabbing opportunity by the balls and squeezing hard. Plan B is a means of grabbing Westminster by the balls and squeezing hard so that they can’t continue to ignore us.

Update: It appears that Pete Wishart is getting a lot of hate on social media from independence supporters who disagree with his views on Plans A & B.  This is reprehensible and uncalled for.  A difference in opinion about strategy does not make another independence supporter your enemy.  Hatred directed toward other independence supporters only plays into the hands of our real opponents. Our issues are with British nationalism and its supporters.  Please remember that.  They’re the ones preventing Scotland regaining its independence, not other independence supporters with whom you happen to disagree about tactics.

And finally … dogs.  Just because.

 


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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

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


newbook My new book has just been published by Vagabond Voices. Containing the best articles from The National from 2016 to date. Weighing in at over 350 pages, this is the biggest and best anthology of Wee Gingerisms yet. This collection of pieces covers the increasingly demented Brexit years, and the continuing presence and strength of Scotland’s independence movement.

You can order the book directly from the publisher. Ordering directly means that postage is free. You can order here –
https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

You can also order a book directly from me. The book costs £11.95 and P&P is an additional £3.50, making a total of £15.45. To order just make a Paypal payment to weegingerbook@yahoo.com, or alternatively use the DONATE button below. Please make sure to give me your postal address when ordering. Orders to be sent outwith the UK will incur extra postage costs, please email me for details. If you can’t use Paypal, or prefer an alternative payment method, please email weegingerbook@yahoo.com


We’re on our way

There are few things more amusing than reading the comments of British nationalists on social media when there has been an opinion poll showing majority support for independence. It was not too long ago, when opposition to independence was usually in the lead, that those same British nationalists were constantly bandying about the results from those very same polling companies that they’re now desperate to discredit.

Today’s outburst of hysterical denial has been prompted by an opinion poll carried out by Panelbase for Business for Scotland. It shows that support for independence is now at the 54% mark, a rise of 2% on the previous Panelbase poll. This is that highest support for independence asking the standard question has been for years. It comes following a series of opinion polls which have given independence a lead. Today’s poll is the fifth poll this year from Panelbase, all but one of which has put independence in the lead, and that exception put support for independence at 49%. Moreover, and more worryingly for the British nationalists, when don’t knows are included today’s new poll breaks as follows: Yes 50%, No 43%, Don’t Know 7%. This is a result which is well outside the usual 3% margin of error in opinion polls.

We can now be confident that we are living in a Scotland where there is majority support for independence, and moreover a Scotland where support for independence is well on the way to becoming the settled will of the people of Scotland. The longer that this pattern becomes established, the more likely it becomes that undecided voters will break for yes. The days when there were large majorities in Scotland against independence are long gone and likely never to return. So how are all those SNPbad stories in the media working out for the British nationalists?

Naturally, not everyone is happy about the idea of a Scotland where there is consistently majority support for independence. The denial is strong. There is a great disturbance in the yoonstream on social media. The same people who hail the skewed question from Scotland in Union polls as conclusively demonstrating there’s no appetite for independence are rejecting this poll claiming that it is a leading question. You know, asking people “Should Scotland be an independent country?” is a leading question because it seeks a yes response for independence. Funny how they didn’t consider it a leading question on 19 September 2014.

Details of the poll were first published in The National before being picked up by the rest of the media. There are a number of British nationalist idiots on Twitter who professes themselves to be greatly relieved by this poll result, believing it to be a poll of just National readers and imagining that if only 54% of readers of a pro-independence newspaper support independence then the cause of independence is dead. That’s the special kind of stupid that you get when you believe that the human rights of a statue are more worthy of protection than the actual human rights of living breathing human beings.

Others of the staunch persuasion are smugly insisting that it’s only a poll and since not ever voter in Scotland was asked then it’s meaningless. Every time there’s an opinion poll which delivers a result that isn’t to someone’s liking, you get clowns on social media popping up to insist that the result counts for nothing because they hadn’t been asked the question. Then there are those who scoff that only 1078 people were asked so that means that just 578 people want independence. Then there’s people like the British nationalist called Theresa who complained on Twitter that no one in her family has ever been asked the question, so she refuses to believe the result of this poll.  How do you solve a problem like Theresa?  Well you don’t.  There’s no cure for stupid.

Some people are in for a very big disappointment, or at least they would be if they had the intellectual capacity to grasp how opinion polls work. Gosh, if only there was some way of ensuring that everyone in Scotland could answer a question on whether they wanted independence, you know, maybe by some sort of ballot. We could call it a referendum.

Asking 1000 people is standard in opinion polling. It’s basic statistics. As long as your sample of 1000 people is correctly weighted to ensure that it’s representative of the larger population, 1000 people is all you need to give an accurate picture of what’s going on – with a confidence level of 95% and with a margin of error of 3%. That means that 19 times out of 20 you’ll get an accurate result which is within 3% either way of what is actually going on in the population. In the case of this latest poll, it’s in line with previous polling, so it’s unlikely to be an outlier. If there had been a series of polls showing independence between 50% and 52% and suddenly we got a poll putting independence on 40% or on 60%, then we’d suspect it was perhaps an outlier. That’s not the result in this latest poll, meaning that we can be more confident that it reflects reality accurately.

Increasing the confidence level and decreasing the margin of error significantly means asking hundreds of thousands of people – which isn’t feasible for an opinion poll. It’s not a simple matter that asking 2000 people in a poll makes it twice as accurate as a poll of 1000. In fact if the 2000 people asked don’t represent a balanced and representative sample, the result is less reliable than that of a properly weighted poll of 1000 people. This is why online opinion polls on platforms like Twitter where 30,000 or more people have responded are less accurate than a properly weighted opinion poll of 1000 people. If you want to read more about this, there’s a useful explanation of how polling works here https://people.howstuffworks.com/political-polling.htm

To those who bewail the fact that support for independence is not even higher, I would simply point out that a rapid shift of public opinion in favour of independence could just as easily be followed by a rapid shift of public opinion in the other direction. Instead what we are seeing is the slow and steady progress of the independence movement to building solid and secure support for independence in Scotland. We are moving in the right direction, and we will have solid and secure foundations from which to launch our campaign in the independence vote when it comes – as it most assuredly will.

We now have 54% in support of independence despite the fact that with the exception of The National, the entire Scottish media is hostile. That’s impressive. It’s even more impressive when you consider that the Scottish Government has given up on campaigning for independence for the duration of the current crisis. When we are able to resume campaigning properly, nothing will be able to stop us.

All that British nationalists have left is the comfort of ignorance. They were convinced that Brexit was going to destroy the independence movement. They were wrong. They were convinced that the Alex Salmond trial was going to destroy the independence movement. They were wrong. They were convinced that the covid-19 epidemic was going to destroy the independence movement. They were wrong. Instead what we see is a gradual and steady increase in support for independence. British nationalism is on the wrong side of history, with nothing left but its statues commemorating oppressors, slavers, and colonialists.


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I’m very grateful to have so many loyal and regular readers, this blog would not be possible without you. Please help me to keep it going and keep the Dug’s tour of Scotland going too once it becomes possible again to travel and meet up in groups. All support however small is gratefully received. Heartfelt thanks from me, and from the dug.

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Time to end the false moral equivalence

Part Time Prime Minister Boris Johnson has decided on just the thing that’s needed in this time of crisis. He’s going to repaint his official plane red white and blue, so that everyone can see it coming and go, “Oh, there’s that arsehole coming.”

This has been a week during which everything that the British Government has had a hand in has turned to crap, but there’s always time for a spot of British boosterism. The only thing about British nationalism that is truly exceptional is its sense of its own exceptionalism. Johnson still insists that the British Government response to the current crisis has been world beating, but they only world beating thing about it is how abysmal it has been.

The Scottish Conservatives have had a risible week in Holyrood as branch office manager Surname Surname attempted to score some points against the Scottish Government. This crisis has revealed the nasty reality of the Scottish Conservatives even for those who couldn’t see it before. They exist purely in order to make Scotland doubt itself. Their entire purpose is to make people in Scotland believe that they’re not good enough, that nothing Scotland does is acceptable. Surname Surname does whatever his political bosses in London tell him to do, and if that means he has to contradict himself from one week to the next he shamelessly and brazenly carries on regardless. The man whose boss was described by Donald Trump as one of the few Western politicians he holds in high regard had the audacity to compare the Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes to Trump. The branch office manager of a party whose most prominent member has just gone quiet after making an insulting tweet about a respected professor and advisor to the Scottish Government thinks that he has the moral authority to complain about other people’s use of social media. But then British nationalists are always quick to take offence, but at the same time utterly shameless.

It has not been a good week for British nationalism. Its ugly colours have been on display in the centre of Glasgow, and today on Saturday holocaust denier and the man who was too obnoxious even for UKIP, Alastair MacConnachie, turned up in his manky shirt in Edinburgh to ‘defend’ the statue of that beneficiary of the slave trade Henry Dundas. Dundas is credited, or rather discredited, with having delayed the abolition of the slave trade by some 15 years because he was profiting from it. The fact that this is what Alistair wants to defend and not the right of people of colour to live without being the victims of racism tells you all you need to know about the priorities of the shouty flag waving end of the British nationalist spectrum disorder.

Today in Glasgow more violence is breaking out in the centre of the city as the police struggle to contain a group of British nationalist fascist thugs who have turned up to attack peaceful protesters in the Square who are defending equality. There are plenty in the Scottish media who would like to draw a moral equivalence between the two groups, in a desperate attempt to deflect attention from British nationalism’s problems with violence, racism, sectarianism, and bigotry. There is no moral equivalence between a peaceful protest and thugs who are only there in order to assault them. There is no moral equivalence between anti-racism and racism.

If you are at a protest protesting a protest against racism, you are part of the problem. You can pretend it’s about statues, but if statues are more important to you than human dignity, you are part of the problem. If you are protesting because others have told you to check your privilege, you are part of the problem.

The British nationalist fascists who lash out violently against peaceful protesters are all too often working class marginalised people themselves. They are suffering the consequences of austerity, of a society which prioritises the needs of the wealthy, which rewards the failures of the rich and powerful, and who have decided that black people, Scottish Catholics, Irish people, independence supporters, or gay people are the ones responsible for their problems. They resent what they see as the loss of their status and privilege and lash out at other groups at the bottom of the pile instead of directing their anger where it belongs, at those in power. Racism is not patriotism. Sectarianism is not justice. Bigotry is not culture. Hatred is not history. When you believe that orange is the new black, the only people who benefit are the powerful, the well-connected, the influential, and the wealthy. You are in fact an instrument in your own oppression.

There are serious questions to be asked of the establishment in Scotland, an establishment which has allowed British nationalist violence to go unchallenged for generations. An establishment which has been complicit in racism, anti-Irish racism, and sectarianism and which has benefited from it will not be able to root out the problem unless it first confronts its own role in perpetuating it. For too long in Scotland we have trivialised this issue, treated it as a problem for football fans, as a conflict between two opposing groups where the role of the British establishment is to keep the sides apart. The British establishment is at the root of the problem.

There are serious questions to be asked of Police Scotland who according to reports appear to have kettled the peaceful protesters in George Square, but don’t seem to have kettled the violent thugs who seek to attack them. It seems that the police are far more organised and assertive in their dealings with an anti-fascist protest than they are with the actual fascists who cause the violence.

There are serious questions to be asked of the media in Scotland which persists in treating these regular outbreaks of British nationalist violence as ‘clashes between protesters’. The Scottish media must call out British nationalist thugs for what they are, but they are too afraid of tainting opposition to independence with the realities of British nationalism and prefer to seek refuge in false moral equivalences and in attacking the online behaviour of independence supporters who use foul language. The British nationalist fists keep flying, the British nationalist kicks keep coming and the media bewails Scotland’s shame when the shame is the property of a segment of British nationalism that has been allowed to run riot – literally.

There are serious questions to be asked of Scotland’s political parties, which have campaigned for over a decade to demonise and abuse that half of the population which supports constitutional change. Those British nationalist thugs on the streets of Glasgow might not be supported by mainstream parties, those parties might raise their hands in horror, but the thugs have been emboldened and agitated by the rhetoric of division that comes from the mainstream British nationalist parties – particularly the Conservatives. Both Labour and the Conservatives have been tolerant of extreme British nationalists in their midst. It’s long past time that anyone with links to British nationalist supremacist organisations was purged from mainstream political parties.

This weekend we will doubtless see newspaper columns about Scotland’s shame. This is not Scotland’s shame, this is a shame which has been visited upon Scotland by British nationalism. It’s long past time that we recognised that the real problems of violence, extremism, fascism, racism, and bigotry in Scottish politics and public life are problems with British nationalism. Enough of the false moral equivalence. It serves only to perpetuate the problem.

And finally, an appropriate new song from Scottish sing songwriter resident in Barcelona, Louis Rive …


Annual Dug Funder

I’m very grateful to have so many loyal and regular readers, this blog would not be possible without you. Please help me to keep it going and keep the Dug’s tour of Scotland going too once it becomes possible again to travel and meet up in groups. All support however small is gratefully received. Heartfelt thanks from me, and from the dug.

You can donate at the following link
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You can also support this crowdfunder with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or click the donate button button below and enter the amount you wish to donate. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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Or alternatively if you would prefer to donate some other way, please contact me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details.