Acting on instinct

Any fond hopes that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson might have had that he could draw a line under the Dominic Cummings affair have been well and truly dashed. Even the Daily Mail has come out in an angry tirade against the Prime Minister. That’s the Daily Mail which has hitherto been a cheerleader for the populist English nationalist right wing Brexitiness in which our Part Time Prime Minister specialises. That’s like thon shouty woman on the North Korean news saying, “See that Kim Jong-un. He’s a bit of a prick, isn’t he.”

So far twenty Conservative MPs have come out to condemn Dominic Cummings, a number which seems likely to grow, given that there’s been a rare outbreak of unanimity across the UK. Almost everyone hates Dominic and thinks he needs to go. When even the Guardian and the Daily Mail are saying the same thing, when the Church of England has condemned him, when the former head of the civil service Bob Kerslake has called upon him to resign because he’s brought the civil service into disrepute, there’s a serious political problem that’s not about to go away any time soon.

By Monday it was being reported that the police are to investigate Dominic Cummings’ movements. The police commissioner for Durham has asked the local police force to investigate the reports that the Gollum of Number 10 was seen in the area a number of times during lockdown.

The public is seething with anger, about how Cummings broke the lockdown, about how he felt he was above the rules that the rest of us have to adhere to, about how the Government has lied and gaslighted in order to defend him. But most of all because this Government has effectively trashed its own policy on dealing with a covid-19 outbreak creating even greater confusion and incoherence than it already had. And this is a Government which has led the UK into suffering the greatest death toll in all of Europe, so it’s not exactly like they were doing well to begin with.

The anger at Dominic Cummings and his casual entitlement is a displaced anger at the deaths, the suffering, the loneliness, the sacrifices, the worry, the job losses, the uncertainty that the British Government has magnified and made far worse than it needed to be. Cummings is the straw of arrogance that broke the back of public faith and its willingness to trust the British Government as the world stared into the abyss of the pandemic.

Given the magnitude of the crisis, many were prepared to overlook their misgivings about being led by the mendacious spivs of Brexit. That could only last as long as the public were prepared to believe that the British Government was doing the right thing by the UK. However as the death toll mounted, as Boris Johnson continued to treat his job as a part time ego trip, as the evidence of lack of preparedness and incompetence started to mount, eventually something was going to happen to cystalise public anger. That event was the arrogance and entitlement of Dominic Cummings and his casual disregard for the rules. In one dishevelled figure, contemptuous, arrogant, entitled, hypocritical, and privileged, he has come to symbolise all that is wrong with the British state in general and this Government in particular.

Yet Number 10 is desperate to defend Cummings because without him Johnson stands exposed as a hollow fool, a showboating narcissist who has all the depth of the scum that lies on top of a puddle. He is the Rasputin to Johnson’s Romanov, the gas for Johnson’s gaslighting. Cummings is the brains, the scriptwriter, the puppet master pulling the strings. Johnson’s just an empty ego filled with nothing but ambition and self-regard. Cummings is his vehicle for the attention and adulation that he so obviously craves. Without Cummings, Johnson goes nowhere. Without Cummings Johnson has nothing but a shambling schtick that’s as transparent as his ambition.

Things are so bad that Number 10 has been forced to put Cummings himself up for interview with the press. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to see a Government advisor holding a press conference. I want to see a P45. The move raises as many questions as it purports to lay to rest. On whose authority will Cummings be speaking? How will he be held to account if he is less than honest? The Government’s very own code of conduct for advisors says, “Special advisers must not take public part in political controversy… They must observe discretion and express comment with moderation, avoiding personal attacks, and would not normally speak in public for their Minister or the Department.” https://twitter.com/cathynewman/status/1264890116075597824 Yet again the rules are being rewritten to suit the Tories.

As the move was announced, Cummings was expected to tell the press hacks that he has full confidence in the Prime Minister and will not be asking for Johnson’s resignation. He’ll then expect a grovelling apology from the media for ever daring to call him into question. Dominic Cummings is not a man who does contrition.

But this is no longer a story about Dominic Cummings. The entire machinery of the British Government is now being called into question. The Health Secretary’s defence of Cummings contradicted his own instructions. The Attorney General declared that instinct beats law. Cabinet ministers regularly appear in public and lie repeatedly to our faces. Even the Civil Service has tweeted for help.

Above all it now about the judgement and ability of the Prime Minister. We have a Prime Minister who when confronted with evidence that his senior advisor broke lockdown restrictions rewrote those restrictions retrospectively so that they no longer applied to the advisor. He lied, deceived, and refused to answer questions.

Far from apologising, or even acknowledging that there was an issue to address, he doubled down and actually praised Cummings for acting according to a father’s instincts. Like Johnson would know. Surely the first instinct of a father is to know how many children he has. But hey, never mind about the rules and regulations, as long as you act according to your instincts that’s just fine with this Prime Minister. Perhaps now the Scottish Government can just declare independence without bothering about all that nonsense with a Section 30 order or a referendum. They could say they were just acting on instinct, because what we’ve seen tells us that the instincts of the British Government are rotten to the core.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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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 arrogant and offensive truth twisters

truthtwisters
The Prime Minister actually managed to turn up for work today and presented the daily British Government press conference. This is not unconnected to the fact that the only thing that anyone was wanting to hear from the British Government today was that Dominic Cummings had got his jotters for driving a coach and horses to Durham all the way through the lockdown regulations, and none of the spineless wonders in the British Conservative party are brave enough to stand up to Dominic. And neither, it has transpired, is the Prime Minister.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson took to the podium to deliver the news that Dominic Cummings is going nowhere – except Durham. In the process he set a new UK record for the number of people shouting “Oh fuck off” simultaneously at the TV screen as he announced that Dominic Cummings had in his view acted entirely responsibly, legally, and with integrity. Although that last bit doesn’t really mean anything much as Boris Johnson is as far removed from an understanding of integrity as the Scottish Conservatives are from a reporter every time there’s bad news for their party.

This is a government without integrity, without honour, which is deserving of nothing but our contempt, our anger, and our disdain. What you sow, Boris Johnson, so shall you reap. Even someone who had access to the official Twitter account of the UK Civil Service was so angry with Johnson’s response that they tweeted “Arrogant and offensive. Can you imagine what it’s like to work with these truth twisters?” The tweet was quickly deleted. The person who sent that tweet will be investigated by the Civil Service and will be disciplined and quite possibly fired. That’s a damn sight worse than what the British Government will do to Dominic Cummings. The real crime here isn’t doing the crime, it’s being angry at the crime.

There was not even a hint of understanding that people who have abided by the rules deserve an apology. There was not even the faintest shadow of acceptance that Dominic Cummings’s actions were liable to produce a justified outrage. Instead what we got was almost a rebuke to those of us who have followed the rules, those of us who have told our mothers that no, we can’t come even to sit in the garden. We’re the ones in the wrong here, because we’re just little people with little lives who don’t count and who are not important. We’re the ones who are subjected to lectures in morality from a Conservative party that wouldn’t recognise morality if Dominic Cummings ran it over in his car on his way to a park in Castle Barnard.

Not only did Johnson fail to rebuke Cummings and fail even to accept that what he’d done looked bad even if in his view it was perfectly legal, he went out of his way to praise him. Dominic only did what every father’s instinct told him to, and for that he should not be judged because now we’re replacing following the rules with following your instinct. Except that is if you’re an ordinary punter whose instinct is to rush to the bedside of your dying relative. Except that is if you’re an ordinary person whose instinct tells you to give your mother a hug because she’s been stuck alone in lockdown and the isolation is getting her down. Except that is if you’re an ordinary person whose instinct tells you that your children need to see their grandparents. It’s only the instincts of senior members of the British Government that can be trusted. The rest of us need to tug our forelocks and do as we’re told by our betters.

This is the most extraordinary failure of a political leader’s judgement of the public mood since Herod slaughtered the firstborn. Even Prince Andrew’s press interview was more believable and displayed greater humility than this nonsense. In just a few short minutes Johnson managed to trash what little remained of any trust that the public had left in the British Government. This is a government that demands that members of the public can’t go to the bedsides of dying relatives, and who then can’t attend their funerals once they’ve died. This is a government that demands that we can’t hug, kiss, or embrace our nearest and dearest as people suffer unimaginable pain and loss. And people were prepared to do those things for the common good, for the greater good. Only to discover that a British Government which preaches that we’re all in this together practises an exceptional breaking of the rules when it suits its senior members. Dominic Cummings has now been given licence to do exactly what he pleases with the Tories’ 80 seat majority.

Meanwhile Jackson Carlot came out of his self-imposed social isolation from the press to release a carefully worded statement. It’s up to Boris, he said, now let’s get back to slagging off the SNP. Calling Jackson spineless is an insult to invertebrates. Once again, the Scottish Conservatives excuse the inexcusable because it’s a British inexcusable. Once again the Scottish Conservatives fail to stand up for Scotland within their so-called precious union. Once again the Scottish Conservatives show themselves up as the weak and obsequious cowards that they are. That’s their vision of Scotland within the UK. It sure as hell isn’t ours. The only question that Scotland has for the Scottish Conservatives is is there anyone left in the Scottish Conservatives who has even a tenuous grasp upon what’s right and what’s wrong? Because from the outside it’s looking like there isn’t.

There is now a very real danger that people will look at what Dominic Cummings has done and say – oh well, so it’s within the rules and it’s acting with integrity to drive 250 miles to go and stay with your parents. The already confused and incoherent messaging from the British Government about what people can and cannot do as we come out of lockdown got even more confused and even less coherent. All because Boris Johnson has put his own personal political interests before what’s right for the UK as a whole.

What we shouldn’t do is to react to the reckless and dangerous selfishness of Dominic Cummings by saying, well if he did it then we can do it too. Our anger is because he was wrong to do what he did. That’s what makes it a righteous anger. The fact that he’s being protected for his selfish rule breaking by a Prime Minister who is a by-word for selfishness and who has never in his life thought that the rules that apply to the rest of us should also apply to him does not give anyone else licence to behave like Dominic Cummings did. We are bigger people. We are better people. And soon we will be an independent people. The bright light of hope that guides us through the darkness of Conservative rule is burning brighter with our rage.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times… Here’s one for BlackRab


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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 second cummings of Dominic

savedominic
This British Government is easily the worst for 100 years. It’s ideologically driven, determined to ram through the hardest possible Brexit despite the current crisis, yet at the same time it’s incompetent, incoherent, and chaotic. It combines laziness with arrogance, and is characterised by an overweening contempt for the public and a deep rooted sense of its own entitlement. Back in 2014 they promised us the best of both worlds. They promised us the safety and security of the UK. They’ve delivered a shitshow of privilege, of entitlement, and arrogant contempt for ordinary people, all while tens of thousands die as a direct result of the incompetence of a British Government that has failed in its most basic duty, the duty to keep citizens safe.

So it comes as no surprise that its first reaction to the news that Dominic Cummings is alleged to have repeatedly broken lockdown restrictions is to double down and to lecture the public as though we’re the ones who are in the wrong for being angry at the arrogant entitlement of an arrogant man which may very well have put others at risk. And this all at the same time that ordinary people are making immense sacrifices that the most senior members of the British Government don’t seem disposed to make themselves. Millions of us have had no direct contact with our loved ones for months, others have been unable to attend the funerals of their nearest and dearest, were unable even to be at their bedsides as they died. Yet none of these rules need be obeyed by the members of that British Government which is demanding that the rest of us do so. And it’s us who are narrow minded and petty for being angry at their entitlement.

It has now been a couple of days since the news broke that Dominic Cummings doesn’t believe that the rules that the rest of us have to follow should also apply to him. The initial revelation that he had travelled 260 miles to Durham from London with his wife who was suffering from Covid-19 in order to stay at his parents’ place has been followed by allegations that he made the trip twice, and that he and his wife went on a drive to Barnard Castle on the day of his wife’s birthday. It was the Second Cummings of Dominic.

Cummings and his pals in the British Government show every inclination of riding out this crisis on a wave of contempt, disdain and through the sheer force of their arrogant entitlement. How quickly we’ve gone from “we’re all in this together” to members of the British establishment can selectively rewrite the rules to suit themselves.

Yet even if he is forced to resign, nothing much will change. We’ll still be governed by public schoolboys whose first instinct is to lie and cheat, who insist to our faces that black is white and up is down. Their new slogan is Keep Lying. Stay on Message. Save Dominic.

Over the past few days there has been not a word from the usually perma-angry Scottish Tories. It seems that if they can’t find a way to cast themselves as the victims of vile Scottish nationalists that they have nothing to say. Yet they were very vocal when it came to demanding the resignation of Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood for a lesser breach of the lockdown regulations than was committed by Dominic Cummings. And not one of them has ever made the slightest hint of a comment that they could possibly be less than happy that during the worst global crisis in decades the British Prime Minister is for the most part nowhere to be seen. Not one of them has ever made the slightest effort to stand up for Scotland’s interests within this so-called union that they keep telling us is so precious. Perhaps that’s because they’ve never answered the question – precious to who? Maybe we should be kind. Perhaps the Scottish Tories aren’t hiding from the press at all. It could be that they’re all just off on a trip to Durham.

In the UK it’s now accepted by millions that this is a government that’s crap and inept. We are no longer surprised by revelations that the Tories are venal, liars, hypocrites, and incompetent. The press doesn’t bother to challenge the Prime Minister for not appearing in public more than once a week. During the biggest crisis that the UK has faced since WW2, our Prime Minister who fancies himself as Winston Churchill doesn’t lead. The closest he gets to Churchill is the nodding plastic dog that advertises insurance.

Boris Johnson doesn’t put himself at the forefront of the UK’s efforts to deal with the challenge facing us all. He pops up once a week at Prime Minister’s Questions and refuses to do his bloody job. Parliament is being recalled and MPs will be forced to crowd together on the backbenches just so that Boris Johnson can perform in front of a tame audience of howler monkeys baying support, because watching Boris Johnson in PMQs in a silent House of Commons in lockdown is like watching a crappy 1970s British sitcom without a laugh track. Yet that’s just fine with British nationalists. Because bunting, Vera Lynn, Captain Tom, and WW2 spirit.

The UK is fundamentally broken. It can’t be fixed. There is no superglue than can put the shattered pieces back together. There is no balm that can soothe public anger and rebuild trust and confidence in the institutions of Westminster. It’s all the more vital that Scotland must get out from under this crushing dead weight that’s killing our soul. We can’t afford not to plan and think about the kind of independent Scotland that we will be campaigning for once we come out of lockdown. History tells us that after a period of immense crisis, people want change, they don’t want to return to the status quo with all its inequalities. History also tells us that those who have planned and are organised are best placed to take advantage of that appetite for change. In Scotland, that’s the independence movement. Unlike the British nationalists, we can offer change, and we can offer hope.
And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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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


Cummings and goings

cummingsandgoings

Dominic Cummings doesn’t obey lockdown rules. Only little people obey lockdown rules. It said nothing good about Dominic Cummings that he was prepared to sacrifice other people’s elderly relatives in pursuit of his herd immunity strategy. It says a whole lot worse that he was willing to risk the lives of his own parents too. It came to light on Friday that Downing Street’s resident Gollum had travelled from London to Durham in the north of England after he had started to show coronavirus symptoms and was highly infectious. His excuse is that he was taking his children to his parents so that they could look after them while Cummings and his wife recovered from the illness. It’s one rule for Dominic Cummings and another for the herd.

Anyone with a microgramme of sense would have realised that if you are coming down with Covid-19 and you need a relative to look after your kids, then you get your relative to come to you and collect the children. You don’t schlepp across the length of England while you know that you have the virus and you know that you’re infected, potentially spreading your disease to the countless people that you might encounter along the way.

Apparently Dominic Cummings was forced to travel because he didn’t have any friends who could look after his kids for him locally, and who could drop off food parcels at his door while he was ill. Actually, I could believe that.

Unlike the Scottish chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood who travelled to her holiday home across the Forth while she was perfectly healthy, Dominic Cummings drove the length of England with his kids while he was infectious with the virus. During that 250 mile journey he could have come into contact with many people. He most certainly put his parents at risk. We await the demands from the Scottish Conservatives for his resignation, just as they called angrily for Catherine Calderwood to resign. Well? Silence. What’s that Jackson? Speak up dear. Is it just fine if you’re Boris Johnson’s advisor? Asking for 5.5 million Scottish people.

Given the total radio silence of the Scottish Conservatives today and their inexplicable reluctance to voice an opinion on this matter, this is a good juncture at which to remind them of what they said when they discovered that an uninfected Catherine Calderwood had travelled forty miles to Fife. “There cannot be one rule for bosses and another for everyone else,” harrumphed Jackson Carlaw. Miles Briggs said that Catherine Calderwood’s resignation was “inevitable” and what was important now was that public confidence was restored. Adam Tomkins tweeted that “an atrocious example” had been set and said that you would have thought that the rules that Catherine Calderwood was promoting ought to have applied to her too. “Did they think that the messages [to stay at home] were for other people?” asked the perpetually confused Murdo Fraser, adding, “Hard to see how messages to the public can have credibility while those delivering them ignore them themselves.” Annie Wells said, “Trust is vanishing and rage is building. Resign and let’s get back to what matters most – following the rules to save lives.” Indeed Annie. Indeed. And we can be sure that you’ll be phoning in Kaye Adams to tell her how angry you are that public trust in the British Government has been so badly damaged.

Has anyone seen Ruth, or is she not available for comment again? How terribly convenient, Ruth. However to be fair Ruth was practising social distancing long before it became fashionable, as her constituents and anyone who had ever followed the news and noticed a story that was bad for the Tories can attest.

Yet you can bet a chance to see your parents that if you had replaced the name Dominic Cummings with Ian Blackford the Scottish Conservatives would have caused Twitter’s servers to break with the intensity of their angry meltdown. Even Julia Hartley-Brewer, that Waitrose Katie Hopkins who’s usually very keen to support amoral right wing causes, appeared on Sky News to condemn Dominic Cummings. But from the Scottish Tories, not a word.

However since Chancellor Rishi Sunak, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab both came out on social media today to defend Cummings in the strongest terms, it’s likely that the spineless wonders of the Scottish Conservative party were merely awaiting their instructions from the big boys and girls. Scottish Conservatism is after all the political philosophy that Scotland is incapable of independent thought.

As the calls for Cummings to be sacked grew in intensity on social media, the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweeted in response to a journalist from the Daily Mirror who had broken the story that a “source” had told her that his trip was within guidelines as he went to stay with his parents so they could help with childcare. Just wondering aloud here if anyone can recall the many times that Laura leapt into action on social media to defend Nicola Sturgeon or Jeremy Corbyn from an attack because one of their “sources” had told her something. Nope. Me neither. I’m betting that the anonymous source had the initials DC.

No one believes Cummings, and no one believes the Tories’ anonymous sources any more. In fact it’s because of anonymous briefings from the Conservatives that there’s so much confusion and incoherence from the British Government and the British media is now a synonym for ill repute. Some of us are starting to wonder whether Laura Kuenssberg and Sarah Smith have a private bet going to see which of them can get away with the most blatant bias. That the British Government is no longer bothering to issue official statements any more but prefers to conduct its communications with the public via anonymous briefings to favoured journalists is a genuinely scary development in British public life. It’s another nail in the coffin of British Government accountability, because let’s face it, that died a long time ago.

Inicidentally, the conspiracy theorists were out in force on social media on Friday night, wondering why Dominic Cummings wasn’t trending on Twitter. There were mutterings about the dark forces of British state intelligence and the 77th Brigade. However the real conspiracy here is that Dominic Cummings conspired to get himself a surname that won’t trend on social media because it’s caught by Twitter’s profanity filters. No social media company wants porn to trend, so they use filters to catch items containing certain strings of characters. One of which is the popular word referring to having an orgasm. Have a look at the Scunthorpe problem on Wikipedia for a more detailed explanation. It’s the only way in which Dominic Cummings is ever going to make the earth move for you. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scunthorpe_problem

So remember, stay home, stay safe. Unless that is you want to drive 250 miles spreading your disease the length of the A1 in order to find an elderly relative to infect. That’s just fine – but only if you’re a Conservative advisor who works in Ten Downing Street. If ever you wanted to see how the privilege of the British establishment operates in practice, you just got a lesson in how it works from Dominic Cummings and the Conservative party. It’s one rule for the rich, the powerful, and the well-connected who defend the British state, and another for the rest of us.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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


Dugcast fae the Dughoose – with Angus MacNeil

Welcome to this week’s edition of the dugcast fae the dughoose with guest Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar. Angus is perhaps best known for being a strong proponent of the need for a Plan B in order to secure an independence referendum from Westminster. We chat about lockdown in the islands, Westminster’s plans to end distance working for MPs, and of course that Plan B and the need to keep campaigning for independence and for some political measures which will ensure that Scotland gets a referendum on its own future, and much more besides.  Also I swear at him for having more hair than me – although to be fair, having more hair than me isn’t difficult.

We had a slight technical issue about 20 minutes in and our connection was lost, but we managed to get it back. I hope it doesn’t spoil your listening too much. Next week I am going to try recording the podcast via CleanFeed, but have had a couple of issues registering for the site.

A message for Anthony Hartie – you emailed me yesterday however there’s a problem with how you have configured Outlook and the return address is garbled. If you see this could you please email me again but include your email address in the text of your email so I am able to reply. Thank you.


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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


British nationalism is only exceptional in the lies it tells

toowee
There’s a peculiar trait found amongst British nationalists in Scotland. They are unable to cope with any news which might suggest that Scotland is perfectly capable of being a normal country, able to do any of the things that any other comparable nation might do as an independent state. It appears that the entire sense of self-worth of a British nationalist in Scotland is intimately bound up with the proposition that Scotland is a helpless basket case which is entirely dependent upon the good graces of the Westminster Parliament to tie its shoe laces for it. Of course, that’s not really a sense of self-worth at all, it’s a sense of self-worthlessness. But it’s British dammit, and that makes it better than any other inferiority complex.

We saw it again this week, when the President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen answered a question from the Hungarian MEP István Ujhelyi who asked about Scotland’s chances of rejoining the European Union once it has broken free of “the prison of Great Britain”. Ursula von der Leyen replied that any European state which respects and promotes the values of the EU may apply for membership. Naturally this would also apply to an independent Scotland. Scotland has consistently shown itself to be the most pro-EU nation within the UK. An independent Scotland would be a democracy, and since we have been members of the EU as a part of the UK for decades, we are already in close alignment to the conditions necessary for EU membership.

It was a pretty anodyne response which simply restated the long existing criteria for an application for EU membership, but it managed to spark off fury amongst British nationalists in Scotland on social media. There was a great disturbance in the yoonstream.

One Brextremist called her remarks “a betrayal”, adding that the EU was playing the old war book trick of divide and conquer, and that Scotland was “the weakest link”. The Express had one of its screaming headlines with its trademark random capitalisation saying : Britons FURIOUS as EU opens door for Sturgeon’s independence bid – ‘Mind your own business’. One of the ProudBrits replied “With all the debt problems the EU is facing, does anyone think they will take on another failed economy?” Another insisted that Scotland was a laughing stock world wide. Yet another was adamant that the EU President wasn’t talking about Scotland at all, but rather was referring to the possibility of the UK rejoining the EU – clearly no one would want Scotland.

We’re so used to this reaction from British nationalists that it passes unremarked. It’s what we’ve come to expect from them. But when you think about it it’s a very peculiar state of affairs. Now this is not to get into a discussion about whether Scotland should or should not become a member of the EU, for those of you in the comments section who are poised over the submit button. The point here is that whenever there’s some sort of signal or indication from the wider world that Scotland could be a perfectly normal independent northern European state, the knee jerk reaction of British nationalists is not to accept that Scotland could be a normal independent country but then to present evidence that Scotland is advantaged and exceptional by being part of the UK, but rather to insist that Scotland would be unable to cope or to function as an independent nation because it’s a uniquely incapable jibbering wreck of a country.

This is of course not unrelated to the evident fact that Scotland is not made exceptional by being part of the UK. Public services across the UK are worse than in most comparable European nations. Our state pensions are a disgrace. Our social security system is a theatre of cruelty instead of being a safety net for the poor, the vulnerable, and the disabled. The UK is the worst performing state in Europe in its response to the coronavirus epidemic, with the highest death toll in Europe and a confused and incoherent British Government which lurches from one misstep to another. Much of what the Scottish Government must do during this crisis is to firefight the unforced errors of the British Government. The economic woes of the coronavirus crisis are being compounded by the reckless decision of the British Government to press ahead with Brexit, and in addition to the job losses and economic havoc which we are already facing, Scotland along with the rest of the UK risks further economic problems due to the no deal Brexit which the Tories are pursuing.

All this is a function of Westminster’s choices. The only exceptional thing about the British state is its own conceit of itself. So clearly any British nationalist who wants to argue that Scotland derives immense advantages from being part of the UK can only do so by insisting that Scotland would be a hopeless slabbering basket case as an independent nation. They can only do so by claiming that uniquely amongst the nations of northern Europe, Scotland would be incapable of funding the poor level of public services and state provision that we currently have. That’s the only way in which any “advantage” can be asserted.

The low level at which British nationalists insist that Scotland would function as an independent state would make Scotland unique in Europe. They never explain just what it is that makes Scotland so intrinsically poor and incapable. It becomes even harder to understand given Scotland’s embarrassing wealth of natural and human resources.

Instead all we get is pointing at the GERS figures, despite these being figures which only partially describe the financial situation of Scotland within the UK and which have no bearing on the financial position of an independent Scotland. After all, the entire point of independence is to do things differently.

The GERS figures for next year will include the share allocated to Scotland for the borrowing that the British Government has been forced to do in order to cope with the current crisis. It will be gleefully seized upon by British nationalists as yet more evidence that Scotland is “subsidised”, when in fact it is no such thing. An independent Scotland would be perfectly capable of making its own borrowing arrangements. We are not given free money by the UK, the money that the UK borrows – supposedly on Scotland’s behalf – is money that Scotland will have to pay back. The difference is that as an independent nation we’d have a lot more freedom of choice and movement in how the money is spent.

Yet it’s a fundamental maxim in science that anyone who makes an extraordinary claim must present extraordinarily strong evidence in order to back it up. The British nationalist claim that Scotland is intrinsically poor and incapable is an extraordinary claim which is never backed up with strong and incontrovertible evidence. It’s backed up solely with a set of politically contentious figures which have been constructed in such a way as to maximise Scotland’s expenditure and minimise Scotland’s revenues.

Better Together used to claim that as part of the UK, Scotland had the best of both worlds. In fact the reality is that as a part of the UK Scotland has the worst of both worlds. We have to suffer the austerity and defunding of public services of a UK which is hell bent on rewarding the rich, and we’re told that without even these few crumbs we’d be a helpless basket case worse off than nations which don’t have a fraction of the natural or human resources that Scotland possesses in abundance. It’s a nonsensical argument, yet it’s the foundation upon which the argument against independence rests.

No wonder that British nationalist react with such fury to even the most anodyne and self-evident statement that Scotland could be a normal independent country. They themselves know deep down that the British rule which they prize so much rests upon a myth that dissolves into nothingness the moment it’s examined. That’s why they’re desperate to deflect the argument onto imaginary Scottish shortcomings in an attempt to ensure that the basket case of Britishness is never examined at all.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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.
Donate Button

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 Tory perversion of science costs lives

scienceasideology
The only good thing about the British Government’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic is that at least we don’t have Donald Trump in charge. That’s how low the bar has to be set, and even then it’s debatable because Donald Trump at least turns up for government press conferences. Johnson is already the worst Prime Minister the UK has ever had and he’s only been in the job for a few months. We’ve got another four and a half years of his destructiveness to look forward to.

This week a major promise that Johnson had repeatedly made last year was exposed as a lie. Despite assurances to the contrary, there will after all be checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. There will indeed be that border in the Irish Sea which Theresa May and Johnson both swore blind to the DUP wasn’t going to happen. In normal circumstance that would be a major political crisis all by itself, right now it’s scarcely been noticed. When Boris Johnson is burning down the house you don’t really notice that his pants are on fire.

Ruth Davidson put in an appearance on Sky News on Wednesday, and even she studiously avoided giving an answer when asked whether it was the Scottish Government or the British Government which had handled the crisis better. She still managed to get some SNPbad in there, because this is the woman whose sole policy ever has been opposition to independence, but it was noticeable that she didn’t reflexively praise her Tory colleagues in Westminster. What people don’t say is often more revealing than what they do. When the cheerleaders of the Precioussss Union™ aren’t willing to get out the ra-ra skirts and pom-poms, Westminster has a very big problem. Their UK is not OK, and they suffer from an existential dread that it’s going to get a lot worse for them. They can see the writing on the wall, and it says Johnson is a bawbag. The British Government’s policy is now basically – Calm down everyone, it’s all going marvellously! Don’t blame us, that would be premature and unfair. But look over there – scientists!

And the death toll mounts. The real number of people who have died from the virus in the UK is now in excess of 54,500 according to the Office of National Statistics. This is the number of ‘excess deaths’ since the epidemic started. The figure is 20,000 higher than the total announced daily by the British Government, which only counts people who have had positive tests for the virus. Many of those who pass away from Covid-19 never receive a test.  Using a somewhat different model, the Financial Times estimates that the true number of those who have died from the virus in the UK now exceeds 60,000.  The only booming part of the British economy just now is the funeral industry.

Throughout most of this, the Prime Minister has been missing in action. On Wednesday we had a rare sighting on the lesser spotted Johnson as our part time Prime Minister put in a reluctant appearance in the House of Commons for Prime Minister’s Questions. He only turns up for that because he’s contractually obliged, but it’s obvious from the face he wears like a burst balloon that his heart isn’t really in it. Deprived of the hoots, jeers, cheers, and brays from the serried ranks of incontinent monkeys on the Tory backbenches behind him, the experience no longer delivers the hit of adulation that the energy vampire Johnson requires. Since he’s already managed to suck even most of the British media dry of any enthusiasm for his government, that was pretty much all he had left to feed the desperate need for praise which fills the space where normal people have a soul. Without it he’s left like a crushed empty plastic bottle, fnaugh fnaughing its way along the gutter.

It was so bad that Health Secretary Matt Hancock had to perform an emergency heckle transfusion when Labour leader Keir Starmer pressed Johnson on when the long anticipated test and trace scheme will be operational. It wasn’t much. It was like a junkie in withdrawal finding a tiny trace of smack on the back of a spoon, not enough to take the edge off things, but it was all that Johnson had on offer to assuage the cold turkey of his ego. The reality is that the UK is coming out of lockdown exactly as it entered it. At the wrong time, unprepared, and in a confused and incoherent way.

Yesterday the British Government told us that there had been “a bit too much focus on the app”. Just like previously there had been too much focus on Dyson’s ventilators, on the PPE that was arriving from Turkey, the 100,000 daily tests, or the staying alert slogan. The signs are that the much vaunted app is going to go the same way. Developers are still trying to iron out problems in the test program being carried out in the Isle of Wight as the Director of Liberty warned that using the app would mean citizens turning over a vast amount of personal data to a government with an appalling track record on confidentiality and privacy. The app is central to the UK’s plans for contact tracing, but it seems that it won’t be ready until June at the earliest – after the date that the British Government announced that children in England should return to school. We’re in this mess now because the British Government made the wrong decision early on to abandon testing and tracing. Now we’re trying to play catch up as the death toll grows and the virus is established throughout the UK.

Without a proper system in place for testing, tracking, and isolation, experts have warned that the UK is at a very high risk of having to go into a second lockdown in order to bring a fresh outbreak of the virus under control. Writing in the Guardian a few days ago, public health expert Professor Devi Sridhar warned that the UK is facing a high risk of a second wave of infections. Experts at University College Dublin have also warned that the UK is coming out of lockdown prematurely. Sean L’Estrange, a social scientist who has specialised in the study of tracing, said that it was “recklessly premature” for the UK to loosen its lockdown restrictions, adding “I honestly fear [the level of cases in the UK] will go up fast in the coming weeks.” See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/19/recklessly-premature-experts-fear-johnson-jumped-gun-by-easing-coronavirus-lockdown-rules-before-varadkar

Unlike the UK, Ireland is loosening its lockdown restrictions when new cases of the virus have declined to just 11% of the peak in late April. In England, new infections are running at an approximate 75% of the peak rate in late April/early May. Meanwhile in Ireland the systems for tracing and contacting are in a much better state of readiness than those in the UK.

Meanwhile Professor John Edmunds, a specialist in infectious disease modelling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told the House of Lords science committee on Tuesday that the British Government’s decision to reopen schools in England was not a scientific decision, but rather a political one.

Perhaps the most damning assessement comes from the BMJ, formerly known as the British Medical Journal.  (See https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1932) It says that the UK’s response to the biggest public health crisis since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 has been too little, too late, and too flawed. In an editorial the respected medical journal slates a the British Government which ignored warnings and did not take the necessary remedial steps. The Government abandoned the World Health Organisation’s standard containment approach of find, test, treat, and isolate, which has worked well in countries that have successfully suppressed viral spread. Unlike almost every other state, the UK continued to permit unrestricted entry via ports and airports. At the same time, the UK permitted what the BMJ calls “a reckless policy of discharging older patients from hospitals to care homes without testing” which allowed the virus to spread and kick start a second epidemic of community infection. It adds that the delay in implementing lockdown measures looks likely to have cost many lives, all the more so because of ” UK government’s decimation of public health during years of austerity.”

The BMJ points out that although the British Government claims to have followed the science, none of the advisors upon whom the British Government relied were experts in public health while experts on communicable disease were under represented. It adds that the involvement of Dominic Cummings and Ben Warner, Cummings’ data advisor in the Vote Leave campaign, makes a mockery of SAGE’s claim to provide independent scientific advice to the British Government.

The British Government is now trying to hide behind “the science”, when “the science” that it relied upon was hopelessly compromised by the Conservatives’ ideological and political prejudices. Tens of thousands of British citizens have died because the British Government has had enough of experts. No amount of empty fnaughing from Boris Johnson, no amount of oleaginous politesse from Michael Gove, no amount of 18th century mannered posing from Jacob Rees Mogg, can hide the blood on the British Government’s hands.  When not even Ruth Davidson can find it within herself to defend Westminster, it’s all but over for British rule in Scotland.

And finally, because we could all do with some cheering up during these difficult times…


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.
Donate Button

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