Sock washing and constitutional crises

So you finally get around to doing the pile of washing that’s been staring at you in the dirty clothes basket since you got back from your holidays, you make a proper dent on the housework, go to the supermarket, all those wee chores that you’ve been putting off, and while you’re doing so there’s an actual constitutional crisis. That’s the safety and stability of the UK for you, you can’t even sort out your dirty socks without British democracy receding faster than Iain Duncan Smith’s hairline.

Suspicion has been growing amongst MPs that Theresa May isn’t perhaps quite as deluded as she would like the rest of us to believe, and that despite her repeated assertions to the contrary she knows fine well that she’s got as much chance of her Brexit deal winning a majority in the Commons as there is of the DUP regaling her with a resounding chorus of Ave Maria. Theresa May is many things. She’s obdurate, stubborn, pig-headed, and a party tribalist who puts the interests of the Tories above all other considerations, but she’s not actually stupid. She can count. She can see the numbers. And she knows that she doesn’t have the votes. She’s just not prepared to admit it in public. She’s very clear about that, if nothing else.

The Prime Minister knows that she’s not going to get her deal through the Commons when it’s put to a vote next week, and so what she’s really doing is playing a game of chicken with Parliament to use up as much time as possible so that MPs will vote for her deal at the very last minute before Brexit day in order to avoid the no-deal Brexit that’s only wanted by the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg. She’s risking the disaster of a no-deal in order that there will be no time for any other of the possible options to be voted on, no chance to delay or derail Brexit, and no chance for one of the much softer Brexit options which would preserve freedom of movement.

Since the main selling point of Brexit was that the British Parliament could take back control, MPs are less than impressed that the Prime Minister and her government are trying to impose a false choice on the Commons and doing all she can to reduce their opportunities to make an informed and meaningful decision. Admittedly we’re talking here of an institution which has Ross Thomson, Chris Grayling, and Hugh Gaffney in it, so it could be argued that reducing the opportunity of the Commons to make a meaningful choice is an act of prudence similar to removing a box of matches from a toddler. Unfortunately in this instance the person taking the matches off the toddler is an arsonist with a crateful of petrol filled bottles stopped with greasy rags.

Faced with a Government which is threatening arson if it doesn’t get its way, MPs have been taking steps to reduce the ability of the Government to lob its bottles at the British economy and body politic. Yesterday 20 Tory MPs voted with the opposition parties to support an amendment tabled by Labour’s Yvette Cooper to put the hems on some of the government’s tax powers in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The amendment was largely symbolic, but it was a humiliating defeat for the Government and demonstrated that there is no majority in Parliament for a no-deal Brexit.

Then today, the Government faced an even more serious defeat. Rebel Tory MP Dominic Grieve tabled an amendment to the Government’s business motion for the Brexit debate. The amendment compels Theresa May to come back to the Commons within three days if, as is likely, her deal fails in the vote due next week. A previous amendment introduced by Dominic Grieve and passed by MPs means that any alternative plan which the Prime Minister comes back with will itself be subject to amendments by MPs, meaning that the Commons will be able to debate and vote upon alternatives.

It had been thought that Dominic Grieve’s amendment would not be accepted by the Speaker, as traditionally government business motions are not allowed to be altered. However the Speaker ruled otherwise, much to the anger of the Government and its supporters. Over the catcalls and jeers of Conservative MPs, he insisted that his job was not to make life easier for the Executive, but to protect and defend the rights of Parliament.

How very dare the Parliament that the Brexists say they’re determined to restore sovereignty to act as though it was sovereign. Today we saw what happens when your self-serving rhetoric jumps up and bites you on the bum. It’s undemocratic for Parliament to take back control from a government that won’t listen but which says it’s working to restore control to parliament. But then this is the same government which claims that having another referendum would be undemocratic, because apparently more democracy means less democracy. The only meaningful vote that Theresa May wants is her own.

When the amendment came to the vote, the Government lost. The amendment passed by 308 votes to 297. Theresa May will now be obliged to return to the Commons with an alternative plan within three days of her Brexit deal failing to pass, instead of the 21 days that she previously had. With the Brexit clock ticking, and Brexit day looming on March 29, every day is precious. Allowing Theresa May three weeks following the defeat of her deal would have meant she could return to the Commons with substantially the same deal as before, but with time having run out on any alternatives. That’s now become far harder for her to do.

The next few weeks are likely to be every bit as febrile and rancorous. A chaotic no-deal Brexit remains a very real possibility. But so does an early General Election, another EU referendum, or some version of a Brexit deal. How’s that safety, security, and stability of the UK that Scotland was promised back in 2014 working out for you all? Forget all the cant about being a partner in a family of nations. Forget the slogans about Scotland punching above its weight as part of the UK. There’s no certainty about anything, and Scotland gets to sit on the sidelines, powerless and ignored while our fate is decided for us by people who have zero consideration for our interests or desires. This is what this so-called union really means. It means not being able to wash your socks without being a passive and helpless witness to a constitutional crisis that threatens to blight livelihoods, opportunities, and lives.


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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.

The problem with Holyrood

This year the Scottish Parliament becomes 20 years old. For the past 20 years Scotland has had a forum to express its national will, we have seen a parliament restored to our capital city and for the first time in the history of this ancient nation the people have enjoyed the exercise of mass democracy. Scotland has discovered that it is exceptionally good at the democratic process, that our democratic instincts run strong and deep. After all, this is a land which is able to conduct a debate about independence, a debate which in most countries is conducted with violence, states of emergency, disappearances, and bombs and bullets. Yet the complaints in Scotland centre largely on people being unpleasant to one another on social media.

In normal countries the anniversary of the re-establishment of the national parliament would be the occasion for celebration, for a spot of pride, for a little bit of back patting. But this is Scotland. Cue a predictable series of articles from British nationalist commentators about the problem with the Scottish Parliament, and that problem, they all agree, is the SNP.

The SNP, they claim, has used the Scottish Parliament as a platform from which to propagate invented and spurious complaints about a British state that’s only ever concerned itself with altruism and to fall over itself to bestow gifts and presents upon a Scottish populace. Scotland would tug its collective forelock in gratitude if it weren’t for that pesky SNP and its insistence on pointing out that being grudgingly granted a few more crumbs still doesn’t address the unfairness of not having a seat at the table. Look, you’ve got some more crumbs Scotland. Eat them and rejoice at the munificence.

A quick search on Google for the phrase “SNP grievance” returns thousands of results from anti-independence politicians and newspapers. The phrase implies that there’s not really anything for Scotland to get upset about, it’s all manufactured and invented. What they never do is to acknowledge that the reason why the SNP’s grievances gain traction with the electorate is because they’re justified. It’s not unreasonable to complain about a wrong. It’s unreasonable not to. Anyone can monger a grievance, but unless others agree with you, you’re going to be mongering alone. The repeated electoral success of the SNP proves that the shortcomings and failures of the British state which the party points out to the voters of Scotland have a basis in reality.

What the British nationalist apologists are really upset about is that for the first time in Scottish history there is an institution and a forum for highlighting the shortcomings of the British state and this pretendy Union that’s not really a Union. For decades, indeed hundreds of years, those shortcomings and failures were firmly shut inside the shortbread tin. Devolution shone a light on them. Devolution gave Scotland a wee taster of what it might be like to be a normal country, instead of being just the idea of a country comforting itself with the myth that it was a partner in the UK.

This is a Union in which one partner gets its way by virtue of its size and population, and the smaller partners have to suck it up without possessing any formal mechanisms to limit or constrain the actions of the largest partner irrespective of the negative effects upon them. Scotland could pretend to itself that it was in a genuine union as long as Scotland and England were politically on the same page, and following the post-war settlement they were. At least until Thatcher came along and cracked the facade. Brexit has brought the entire edifice tumbling down. Without devolution, Scotland would have had no political platform to highlight the myth of the British unitary state. Naturally British nationalists don’t like that. Naturally they’re going to complain about grievance mongering, because those who are always quickest to claim victim status are those who feel that their privileges are under threat. In their eyes it’s a greater wrong to highlight the myth of union than it is to propagate the lie in the first place.

But even most apologists for the British state can’t ignore the reality that while devolution has brought about greater participation in democracy within Scotland, that in Holyrood we have a Parliament which strives for modern standards and practices, imperfect as it may be, the devolution experiment takes place within a Britain which has stubbornly refused to reform the Westminster Parliament itself.

Those who seek to retain Scotland within the UK have no remedy for this. All they have is the fantasy of the federalism fairy, who will wave her magic wand and make everything equitable and just again. Then Scotland will once again return to the magic land beloved of British nationalists, when Scotland was content in its status as a part of the UK and that nasty SNP was no longer the dominant player on the political scene. The fairy made her most recent outing in an article in the Herald today. But the federalism fairy is a creature of the myth of union, it’s a fiction, a character in a story that British nationalists in Scotland tell themselves in order to square the circle of Scotland being a nation that’s not a nation, a country that’s not allowed to act like a country.

From a Scottish “Unionist” perspective, Brexit has made reform of the UK an imperative. It’s the only way that they can perpetuate their beloved myth. The truth is that Westminster will not reform itself because Scotland wants it to, and Scotland has no means of forcing it to. So instead we see blame being cast at the SNP. We see threats and scare stories about how dreadful independence would be. What we signally fail to see from supporters of the British state is any realistic prospectus or plan to improve Scotland’s lot within the UK. They can’t offer any such plan, because to do so runs straight into the central weakness of their position. Scotland isn’t a partner in a union at all, because the union is a fairy story. Within the UK Scotland gets what is in Westminster’s interests, not Scotland’s.

The problem with Holyrood isn’t the SNP, it’s the British state and the Westminster Parliament. There’s only one way to remedy that. It’s to make sure that by the time that the Scottish Parliament reaches its 21st birthday, it’s the grown up adult parliament of an independent nation.


My piece in today’s The National, about how the election of Jeremy Corbyn didn’t bring a fundamental change in the Labour party.  It just gave them a new way to lie. https://www.thenational.scot/politics/17340770.jeremy-corbyn-has-turned-out-to-be-just-another-tony-blair/


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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.

The year of the making of Scotland

Many thanks to Sam for looking after the blog while I was away. Like the British political establishment, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks avoiding work and responsibilities. I went off to the USA to spend Christmas and the New Year with my husband in Connecticut and had a great time with my significant other. But I’m back now, and unlike the British political establishment I am no longer avoiding my work and responsibilities.

After spending the past two and a half years living in a fantasy world, the British government is proving extremely reluctant to wake up and smell the Brexit coffee. Or rather the boiled mud that will pass for coffee once imports cease after a no deal Brexit. But never fear. Theresa May’s government is making preparations for a no deal Brexit by throwing lots of public money at a ferry company with no ferries. Which is appropriate really, as the entire premise of Brexit is based upon the UK’s non-existent status as a great sea power. The Royal Navy has more admirals than it has ships. And the Conservative party has more MPs than it has functioning neurones.

Just today (Sunday) in the Observer/Guardian newspaper, there was a report that Westminster is swirling with rumours that the government is yet again considering postponing the already postponed vote on the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. In an interview with the Marr Show, Theresa insisted that the vote would be going ahead as planned. But she said that the last time. She also said that there wouldn’t be a snap General Election just before she called one. There’s a clear pattern here, which is the only thing that’s clear about a Prime Minister who’s always saying that she’s being very clear.

The vote on the deal is expected to take place on the 14th or 15th of January. Debates on the deal are due to recommence this week. So far there is little sign that any significant changes have happened since the last time that the deal was postponed because it was obvious that it wasn’t going to get through the Commons. The DUP have rejected it, although to be fair Ulster Says No is their default position, and the hardline ideologues of Rule Britannia are just as opposed now as they were in December because they’re not going to accept anything that falls short of the opening credits to Dad’s Army.

Meanwhile, back in Scotland, this is going to be the year when the Scottish Government has to end its let’s wait and see policy about another indy ref. The chlorinated Brexit chickens are coming home to roost. Or at least they will be once they can clear the 20 mile long lorry queue for customs along the M20 motorway in Kent. It was sensible to delay a decision on another independence referendum while Brexit remains unresolved, but now that the apocalypse fiction section in the bookshop has been shifted to current affairs, pressure for a decision is growing.

There is increasing support for independence. We are closer now to independence than we have been at any point since the last indyref and many more people are now receptive of the idea than previously. Towards the end of 2018 opinion polls found that a clear majority in Scotland thinks independence would be better than Brexit, even a negotiated Brexit. If it’s a no deal Brexit, a large majority think that independence would be the better option.

When even Billy Independence Is All About Hating The English Connolly thinks that independence would be a better option than Brexit Britain, you can see why the diehards are worried. The Herald has been reduced to printing a photo of a graffiti of a swastika on an SNP poster to accompany a story about anti-semiticism in Scotland. Why bother with a considered defence of the UK when you can troll SNP supporters with some snide innuendo?

Pamela Nash of Scotland in Union has been reduced to pleading in the Scotsman for the SNP and the Scottish government to give up on the whole independence thing. She didn’t make a convincing case, but what she did do was to map out the arguments that opponents of independence are going to use next time around. Next time round there will be no Vow Mk2, because not even the misleadingly named Scotland In Union is daft enough to think that the Scottish electorate is going to believe any promises made to them by Westminster. There will be no more talk of the federalism fairy, no hints of extra powers for Holyrood that will later be gloatingly described by the Scottish Secretary of State as a trap for the SNP. There’s only going to be threats and scare stories, leavened with lies and false equivalences.

None of the defenders of the British unitary state have got any clue about how to ensure that Scotland’s views can be represented within the UK, nor indeed how there are any mechanisms within the UK constitution to protect Scotland from the English nationalism which created this entire sorry Brexit mess in the first place. They are just hoping that we haven’t noticed, and if we have noticed, then we just need to suck it up. That’s not a Union. Equating Scotland’s membership of the so-called Union of the UK with the UK’s membership of the EU is a false equivalence parallel to describing a nest of vampires as an NHS blood bank. It is however the best that they’ve got.

Their big argument is that Brexit shows that breaking up is hard to do. Which is true when you’re breaking up in pursuit of the fantasy status of a great power bestriding the globe and making favourable trade deals all on your tod. Breaking up successfully is indeed very hard to achieve when your defintion of success is to retain all the advantages of EU membership but none of the obligations.

Opponents of independence might have arguments as thin as the fantasy of a good Brexit to rely on, but indy supporters have serious work to do this year. This year the Great British avoidance strategies will stop working. The Red White and Blue distraction techniques run out of road. We need to be ready. 2019 is going to be the year of the breaking of Britain and the making of Scotland.


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.

A two-way street

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Respect (Noun)

1. a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements. 2. due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others. 3. a particular aspect, point, or detail.

Lot of talk of respect doing the rounds in 2018. Seems the powers that be may have caught on to the idea that the United Kingdom is anything but united these days. Who knew?

Talk of respectful debate, respecting democratic will, respecting results, respecting agreements and so forth. Especially from politicians and mainly those who don’t seemingly respect anyone or anything very much themselves. We’ve all seen the state of the Commons debates by this point, yes? The braying, howling, arrogant and condescending pie fight at the heart of our system of central government. So, yeah. Respectful. It appears, to any casual observer, yer actual politicians have suddenly developed a social conscience. (Now don’t laugh. They’re trying to be all sincere)

Apparently even the Queen managed a reference in her annual Crimbo day commentary t’boot – “Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding,”

Which is nice and all very laudable of course. If however, you voted YES in the first indyref, or remain in the EU referendum? You’re probably not feeling a great deal of reciprocity on the whole respect agenda thingy. In fact you’re probably feeling ignored, intimidated, insulted and downright infuriated. You feel helpless and powerless. You feel very much cheated and almost certainly… disrespected.

And now? Now it seems those who created your misery are looking for your respect, your tolerance and your understanding. It’s a pure mystery so it is. Oh, whilst of course still intimidating and insulting you on a daily basis because… reasons.

It also kinda helps, on a personal and communal level, if it truly is a reciprocal arrangement. Certainly if you want people to live and work together with any degree of harmony or unity. Just a wee pointer for the odd policy gonk who happens by.

But is it really respect and tolerance they desire, or silent compliance and blind acceptance? Remainers (remoaners), supporters of Scottish independence (vile cybernats/tainted/separatists etc.), the Scottish government (generally Essenpee bad), the EU (furren bullies), immigrants (also furren and don’t go there) and all other agencies that aren’t behind the binary choice omnishambles of Westminster politics and its cheerleaders, aren’t exactly unfamiliar with the respect agenda meted out by the political class and their chooms in the media.

The bods suddenly asking for all this lurve and cuddliness would be the same political class who have made a mockery of the electoral process. Who sit in a house that is renowned for its venal practices and rampant party and inter-party backstabbery by the by. What they do for a living is commonly referred to as a dirty game. Some of the more cynical readers might say there’s a reason for that. So far as many people are concerned, currently it’s the place where the ‘art of the possible’ and the art of persuasion by debate has gone terribly wrong in the worst way imaginable. Its inhabitants and adherents support a system of patronage and politics that has arguably legislated against the welfare of its own population fer Gawd’s sake. They’ve more than also arguably made the UK ‘a global joke’ and now they apparently need your help to provide that joke with a punchline. They require a societal unity they’ve spent decades undermining in search of the voter demographic du jour. You can see where some folk would regard that as feeling very much like adding insult to injury.

Y’see, most people don’t have a problem with respecting and tolerating another point of view. They don’t have a problem seeing another human being for who they are and what they represent. They just want to get along with others and toddle through their lives with the least amount of grief possible. How and ever, should they be expected to sit on their hands in perpetuity while others with less respect or tolerance dump all over them from a great height?

Mibbies they practitioners of the dirty game should have thought about that whole respect thing BEFORE they set about using their narratives to fracture society and alienate demographics. Before using the media and their interpretation of the art of the persuasion to determine who was a fit and proper human being (voter).

Might be they should have thought about a lot of things and a LOT sooner than the fag end of 2018 and a looming conclusion to the Brexit process.

No. It seems to me that the greatest source for problems over respecting the views of another, showing tolerance and understanding, come from the top down. From those who should have been an example and set a tone, but who use intolerance and disrespect as a tool to gather political and corporate advantage.

Thing about the ‘R’  and ‘T’ words though? Many aspects of respect and tolerance are earned. They’re not an automatic due. More importantly? They have to mean something to those involved. There has to be trust. It can take a long time to earn either and a heartbeat to lose both.

It’s a sad irony that those who are perceived to foment intolerance and disrespect, require the exact opposite of those very qualities in others in order to thrive themselves. It also might be said that this time they’ve pushed their demands for the good will of those others too far. That their own insensitive and callous actions over many years have worn down the respect, tolerance and trust of too many who were supposedly in their care.

Anyone out there feel that either the Conservative government or their honourable opposition have put the work in? Are they even remotely capable of walking the walk down that two-way street?

I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if we found out the answers to those questions in 2019.

 

Our host is currently taking a well deserved leave of absence to be with his husband at this time of year. Normal banter should be resumed after all the festivities have concluded. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers, both regular and new, ALL the very best for a grand new year when it comes. Hopefully, 2019 will see more than a few Christmas wishes granted. 😉 (winky thing)

Twas the night before

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Righto. I’ve got the same artisanal baps on order that we had last year and Mrs M. will be making what is probably the world’s most potent (lethal) brandy butter to hide the taste of the shops own Crimbo pud. The turkey (small budgie) is being artfully prepared to resemble something larger and more impressive with the use of multiple packets of supasave stuffing and an airpump, so this WILL be quick. Also? There’s an exceptional bottle of Astifallindoonjuice with my name on it and nothing, but NOTHING, will get between me and my fav butt crease on the couch for the next week and a half.

Let’s keep this short and to the point for the sake of the Crimbo season and peace on earth.

Stupidgate aside, the sum total of the end of year business in Westminster was the alienation and disenfranchisement of a massive demographic within the UK. Oh, and we discovered that Ohhhhhh Jeremy Corbyn isn’t really capable of walking on water after all. In fact, his feet are well and truly rooted in clay. As for Mr McDonnell’s declaration that he could see Labour ‘working together’ with the DUP? Well? Not entirely unexpected really tbf. Seemingly Labour would deal with anyone in Westminster but the SNP, so long as it suited their political agenda of course. Or is there some other conclusion we’re all missing here?

This currently, is what Westminster parliament is reduced to. (No, I can’t quite believe it either.) The populations of these islands are hanging off a cliff edge and the two (supposedly) most senior placed politicians in the land are having a playground spat and the media (our watchdogs) are absent without leave (with only an odd very rare exception).

The explanation for the past two weeks of self harm? Labour apparently were, and until we’re all otherwise notified, waiting for the exact right moment to pounce. Their version of ‘Now is not the time’ kinda thing.

We’re literally a hop and skip away from what looks increasingly like a ‘no deal’ Brexit, thanks to their actions (some might say inaction), and Labour’s explanation is that it’s all been a cunning plan. Uh huh!

It couldn’t possibly be that as the official party of opposition in what is essentially a binary system of politics and for all the period since June 2016, they’ve remained as riven and confused as the Tories. The same ideological divisions, yet with less of a sense of purpose, direction, or identity than their chooms across the chamber. Their leader? Some would say he has some explaining to do to his membership around now. Regardless, Labour won’t be rescuing anyone from any kind of Brexit and the events of the past fortnight should make that abundantly clear by this point.

The only real opposition to the UK government and the Brexit narrative has come from the third party of parliament on down over this period and that should shame that chamber and the population it supposedly represents. A party by the by, that none of the above even want to see there (OH, the irony!), mainly because it upsets their hegemony and damages their calm. Can’t have northern oiks who don’t know their place lecturing folk on democracy, representation, or on how to govern the plebs. (tsk)

Basically around half the populations of these islands have no voice, no representation and no rights as things stand between UK gov and their honourable (?) opposition. How do either of those parties fondly think that’s going to play out in the future? Hmmm? When you alienate and disenfranchise half your population, do you think they’ll just shrug, forgive and forget what’s been denied them or is being done to them?

UK politics isn’t merely broken at this point. It’s seismically fractured. The populations of these islands are facing constitutional crisis. Economic crisis. Societal breakdown and political chaos. All of which has been brought about mainly by Conservative and Labour’s practice of politics. The outcomes of those biblically ignorant and arrogant practices almost inevitable some might say.

And those two (HM’s government and its official opposition), are STILL mucking about with party politics as if sitting in a big chair matters a damn.

At this time of year especially, you’d think that putting childish games aside for the good of ALL of those in your care might have been an idea? Apparently not. The duty of any government, any leader, isn’t a serving suggestion. Your job is the care of ALL of your population without fear or favour. When you ignore near half of that population? You shame your government, your parliament, your democracy and yourself.

Probably something to keep in mind when folks question Scotland’s First Minister and her stance around a people’s vote and supporting a representative voice for all peoples in the UK. Something that’s become popular in threads these days (shrugs). Might be that political maneuvering is in there somewhere.

It might also be that it’s about someone simply doing the right thing by their office and a very human service to ALL those in their care. Worth a thought.

 

Our host is currently taking a well deserved leave of absence to be with his husband at this time of year. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all readers, both regular and new, ALL the very best of the festive season and a grand new year when it comes. Hopefully, 2019 will see more than a few Christmas wishes granted. 😉 (winky thing)

Also? It’s a big ask at the moment for all the obvious reasons, but anything you can spare for local food banks, clothing charities where you are? Pretty certain that’ll be more than appreciated.

Breaking up isn’t always hard to do

Opponents of independence have got a new argument against independence. It’s not much of an argument, but then the British establishment is increasingly clutching at ever more desperate straws. The argument goes that Brexit has shown how difficult it is to leave a union, and therefore Scottish independence is likely to be even worse as Scotland is small and weak.

This argument is very like that other Brexit related argument against independence, which goes that we’d only be swapping control from Westminster for control from Brussels and that wouldn’t be independence at all. Serious people who really ought to know better have made this particular argument, but the truth is that if you really don’t understand the difference between the amount and quality of control exerted over a country by membership of the EU with the amount and quality of control exerted over a constituent part of the UK by Westminster, then you’re really making an open declaration of your political illiteracy and ignorance. If you think that those two things are the same then you really ought to refrain from commenting on either.

It’s like equating the wildlife roaming in a national park with animals locked up in cages in a Victorian zoo. It’s like saying, “Oh well, a national park isn’t *really* free is it. It’s got boundaries. So let’s just keep the animals locked up in cages.” And it is indeed true that being a part of the UK is very much like living in a Victorian zoo. You’ve only got to look at the House of Commons to appreciate that.

This latest argument, that leaving unions is oh so terribly difficult and so we shouldn’t attempt it is just like the previous nonsense argument in that it’s equating two very different phenomena. Hint, just because different things are called unions doesn’t mean that they are identical political beasts.

Leaving the EU has proven to be extremely difficult for the UK for a number of simple reasons. Firstly there’s the complete and utter unpreparedness of the British establishment. All the way through the Scottish independence referendum, independence supporters were told to come up with a Plan B, yet here we are two and a half years after the Brexit vote and there’s still precious little which passes for a credible Plan A from those who want Brexit.

This approach to international negotiations isn’t new for the UK. For centuries the UK was the big boy and could get its way by force or the threat of force. It didn’t need to learn how to negotiate. That lack is still very much a feature of how the UK deals with the rest of the world. When writing in his memoires about negotiations about Northern Ireland between Westminster and Dublin in the 1980s, the then Irish taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald wrote that the British delegation would make a proposal, which the Irish would consider, then the next day the British would suggest something totally different. Fitzgerald wrote that at first the Irish delegation thought that the British were engaged in some clever Machiavellian strategy to wrong foot the Irish, but after a couple of days they realised that it was just that the British didn’t actually have a clue what they wanted. The UK has approached Brexit negotiations in exactly the same way.

This lack of preparation and clarity has been compounded by the unrealistic expectations of the Brexists. They believed that they could continue to enjoy all the benefits of EU membership without any of the downsides. We see that in discussion of freedom of movement, it’s entirely about preventing EU citizens from moving to the UK. Brexit supporters are silent on the fact that this means that UK citizens will no longer be able to move to the EU. They demand free access to EU markets, while at the same time insisting on their right to negotiate trade deals with the rest of the world and import chlorinated chicken. And above all they want to leave the customs union and the single market and control immigration and the UK’s borders while at the same time being bound by a treaty obligation to maintain an open and invisible border with the Irish Republic. Brexit is the political pursuit of mutually incompatible goals by people who were utterly unprepared to begin with. No wonder it’s proving so difficult.

Unlike Brexit, independence isn’t a political novelty. There are many tens of countries all around the globe which have declared independence from the UK, indeed three of them are currently EU members. There is a tried and tested path towards independence. Other countries have done it. Indeed the very EU state which is creating the greatest reality check for the fantastists of Brexit is the Irish Republic, a country which itself declared indepenedence from the UK. It is one of the greatest political ironies of our age that the British border artificially imposed by the UK across the island of Ireland is now the instrument of the downfall of the UK’s imperial fantasies.

Another difference, one which should not be underestimated, is that Brexit has taught us that the only political grown ups in the room is the Scottish Government and SNP MPs in Westminster. They’re the only ones who have had a principled and realistic view. The Scottish Government published a series of impact papers looking at the effects of Brexit on the Scottish economy while the UK government was desperately trying to pretend that there were no studies at all. Scottish independence would be approached with the same realism. We might not all agree on the details but there is no lack of planning. There is no lack of discussion. There is no lack of preparation.

Breaking up is only hard to do when you have no idea what you want, when you have unrealistic expectations and beliefs about yourself, and when you have traditionally relied upon threats and bullying instead of negotiating like a grown up. In Scottish independence negotiations it will be the Scottish delegation which knows what it wants, which has a realistic set of expectations, which has a plan, which has friends and allies in Europe, and which will be the grown up in the room.

The greatest difference between independence and Brexit is that Scottish independence is not based upon a delusion like that of the British exceptionalists who have driven Brexit. Returning a country to the normal and usual state of affairs for a nation is a very different proposition from trying to attain an impossible dream based on a fantasy of imperial power and glory.

Scottish independence is not an attempt to pursue mutually incompatible political goals. It’s not about the quixotic pursuit of special favours, special deals, or an unrealistic and nostalgic vision of Empire 2.0. Brexit is the attempt to establish and assert British exceptionalism. Scottish independence is the attempt to establish and assert Scottish normalcy. Scottish independence means making Scotland into a normal European state just like all the others.


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Stupid is as stupid does

The British government unveiled its new immigration policy today, and as we’ve come to expect from this government it’s petty, cruel, restrictive and nasty. EU citizens will in the future have to earn over £30,000 a year in order to apply for residency in the UK. What the government didn’t say was that UK citizens who wish to reside in the EU will doubtless be subject to similar restrictions in future. Meanwhile all those UK citizens who reside in EU countries have been left in limbo.

Theresa May is obsessed with immigration. She is pandering to the nasty xenophobes who infest the comments sections of the press. Just yesterday there was a story in the Herald about a businessman in Scotland who is originally from Bangladesh. He has been refused permanent right to remain in the UK despite having lived here legally for 15 years and owning a successful business employing five people, people who now seem set to lose their jobs. The comments below the article from the usual British nationalist trolls were nasty, petty, and small minded. Empathy is a foreign quality to them. Compassion is a curse to them. These are the nasty little people that Theresa May has in mind when she frames her immigration policy. This is British nationalism in action. It’s not pretty. It’s not dignified. And yet it’s Scottish independence supporters who get castigated in that same press.

Later today the real opposition, which isn’t the Labour party, is attempting to bring forward a no confidence motion in the government. Labour will probably abstain. This is the first time in decades that a government has been subject to a no confidence motion, yet it’s lost in the shouting, the infantile behaviour, and the insult to the intelligence of the public which passes for parliamentary debate.

But none of this gets properly aired in parliament or the press. Instead of holding the government to account, instead we get a pantomime. And that’s quite literally what we witnessed today during Prime Minister’s Questions. It was a childish and stupid display of crowing and question avoiding of the sort we’ve come to expect from a government which has absolutely no intention of explaining itself, never mind being held to account by the Opposition.

Jeremy Corbyn reacted to this infantile display by muttering something. Now the news is dominated by the allegation that Jeremy Corbyn called Theresa May a stupid woman. Because apparently a perceived personal slur against Theresa May is the most important thing that’s happening just now.  To the allegations that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-semitic, we now have the allegation that he’s sexist.

It does need to be said that the phrase “stupid woman” is sexist in a way that “stupid man” is not. For centuries, millennia even, men have controlled and dominated women by belittling them and insisting that women were intellectually inferior to men. The trope of supposed female stupidity is one of the pillars of the patriarchy. That’s why in our current era mansplaining is a thing but womansplaining is not.

However Jeremy Corbyn insists that he didn’t mutter “stupid woman” after Theresa May’s display of childish stupidity which was accompanied by the jeering support of her braying backbench donkeys. He claims that what he said was “stupid people”.

It’s true that those two words can be difficult to distinguish when all you have to go on is lip reading. The words woman and people both consist of a series of labial consonants followed by a vowel and ending with a alveolar consonant. To pronounce both words you make two movements causing closure or partial closure of the lips followed by a tongue gesture towards the gum ridge, also known as the alveolar ridge.

When a person is muttering, as Corbyn was, lip movements are not always fully and clearly articulated. Not clearly articulating is kind of the definition of mumbling. Without any audio it’s impossible to tell which word he actually muttered during the exchange, and I’ve played the sequence over several times. It does look to me as though he did in fact say “stupid woman”, but I’m not a lipreader. He could just as easily have said “stupid weapons”, “stupid wombles”, or “stupid bampots”, all of which also consist of the sequence labial-labial-alveolar. Naturally the Conservatives are going to select the option that allows them to feel most outraged, and which conveniently distracts from their actual stupidity.

What looks bad is that right after the event Jeremy scuttled out of the chamber and didn’t make a formal statement to clarify his remark. If he’d got up immediately and stated that he’d actually said “stupid people” he could have killed off the matter. Instead the Tories are going to town on it, Corbyn looks evasive, and the government has got off the hook for its woeful performance on Brexit and its nasty immigration plans. It’s yet another own goal from the Labour leader. The greatest asset this woeful and pathetically inadequate government possesses is that it’s confronted by an equally woeful and pathetically inadequate official opposition.

Those same Conservatives who are now in full on harrumphage are the very same Tories who routinely cast racist and patronising slurs at Scottish MPs. It was just the other day that the SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford was told to “go home” by a Conservative MP. It was only a couple of weeks ago that another Conservative told Scotland’s representatives to consider suicide as a response to being ignored by the British government. That’s not worthy of such outrage however. Jocks are supposed to know their place. The point is that the Conservatives are by no means innocent wallflowers when it comes to insulting behaviour.  They’re certainly not innocent when it comes to pandering to racists and bigots in how they frame government policy.  You can judge for yourself which is worse.

However we’re now in a place where stupid people behaving stupidly believe it’s a greater insult to be called stupid than it’s insulting to everyone else for them to be dangerously and selfishly stupid. They’re wrecking all our futures, running roughshod over what passes for a British constitution, playing Brexit chicken in an effort to sideline parliament. But that’s nothing compared to a mumbled personal insult, if that’s indeed what it was. If that’s not proof all by itself of just how stupid the Tory party is, and more to the point just how stupid they think the rest of us are, I’m not really sure what is.


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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.