The Tories are revolting

So now we know that there is indeed a line in the proverbial sand which Boris Johnson must not cross as it will provoke Conservative back benchers into open revolt. At least now when we say that Conservative MPs are revolting the Tories will be forced to agree with us even though certain Conservative politicians have been revolting ever since they first slimed their way into public life, Stephen Kerr springs to mind, for no particular reason.

The revolting Conservatives tried to dress up their revolt as a matter of great principle, but what has finally got their goat about the serial liar and entitled man-child that is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson isn’t all his lies and deceit. Johnson’s willingness to treat the truth as a minor trifle which can easily be ignored when it proves inconvenient for Johnson and the Conservative party was one of the reasons that they elected him as leader, they are all equally culpable in his lies so it’s not like they’re going to find some scruples about them any time soon.

They are not even suddenly upset about the close to 150,000 deaths from covid that the UK has endured, many of which could have been avoided had Johnson done his job and taken prompt and decisive action in the early phases of the pandemic. Neither have the revolting Tories been driven to action through disgust at the constant sleaze and corruption which envelops the Johnson regime, they too are complicit in all that.

Although the Commons chamber yesterday was filled with the self righteous pontificating by revolting Tories about civil liberties and freedoms, its not that they are appalled by the open assault on human rights which this government is embarking on, most of them support stripping human rights from refugees and migrants, and they are equally keen to see the back of protections for our employment rights, all the better to assist in the enrichment of that small minority which can offer lucrative side gigs to present or former Conservative MPs.

Neither do they care about the way in which Johnson is neutering the few checks and balances which a British constitution that isn’t worth the paper it’s not written on places on the absolute power of the occupant of Downing Street and Johnson’s moves to place himself and his cronies above the law and beyond meaningful scrutiny or accountability while adopting voter suppression measures that target demographic groups which tend not to vote Tory . All the better to entrench Conservative rule, no matter that these anti democratic measures represent a dangerous step towards authoritarianism. In this as in everything else the revolting Tories are defined by their over-riding concern for their own self interest.

The only human rights and civil liberties that Tory MPs care about is the right of rich and privileged people like themselves and their absolute right not to be mildly inconvenienced by having to wear a face covering in Waitrose which makes it somewhat less risky for any members of the lower orders that they might cough on.

There was the usual Anglo-British hyperbole about Nazi Germany and WW2, which once again proved the point that those who are most likely to harp on about the sacrifices and suffering that people in the UK – they never mention the sacrifices and suffering of anyone else – endured in order to defeat the tyranny of the Nazis are precisely those who are most likely to whine and complain about any minor inconveniences that they themselves are called upon to suffer in order to benefit the greater good.

For all their talk of the authoritarianism of being asked to show papers in order to gain admission to a sporting or entertainment event, few of the revolting Tories who are now so exercised about civil liberties all of a sudden seemed to be aware of the important distinction between a covid pass and a vaccine passport.

According to the British Medical Journal, a vaccine passport is a document or app which shows evidence of the person’s vaccination status only, whereas a covid pass is a document or app which shows evidence that a person has either a lower risk covid status based on their vaccination record, has recently had a negative lateral flow or PCR test, or has had a positive antibody test (showing that they had the infection previously and have some level of immunity).

Luckily for them, none of the sook up six of Scotland’s own contribution to the cant and hypocrisy on the Conservative benches had to rapidly evolve a backbone on this occasion. As MPs were debating a measure which only affected England, Scottish MPs did not vote.

In the end almost 100 Tory back benchers displayed the true depths of their party’s shameless hypocrisy and voted against some limited and partial measures to protect public health in the face of the rapid spread of a concerning new variant of the virus. We had the usual displays of gob smacking idiocy from the Brextremists whom Johnson has decided that it’s a political imperative to pander to. The ever absurd Andrew Bridgen opined that trying to suppress the spread of the omicron variant was dangerous because it might then mutate into something more lethal, thus displaying the same insight into epidemiology that he brought to the debate about Europe. Meanwhile his fellow Brexidiot Steve Baker wondered why if the new variant was indeed so concerning why was the government only introducing such limited restrictions. Steve apparently hadn’t considered the possibility that it might be because of the difficulty in getting morons like him and his pal Andrew to support more rigorous restrictions.

The measures passed thanks to Labour support but yesterday’s events in the Commons were an abject lesson in the intellectual and moral poverty of a Conservative party that seeks to entrench its power and what it regards as its god given right to rule. This is the same party whose selfish idiocy stands in the way of the Scottish Government’s efforts to tackle the virus. The Scottish Government would like to have gone further than Johnson has done but Westminster jealously guards the purse strings.  We can only be safe from the Conservatives when Scotland removes itself from Westminster rule. Then we will only have to suffer the likes of Steve Baker determining our public policy if we are foolish enough to vote for him ourselves.

I have been in a lot of pain and discomfort this past week, so much so that I am having difficulty walking and am experiencing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion. Unfortunately I am not operating at full capacity and consequently won’t be able to get new blog pieces online as frequently as I would like to. I have also been told that it is unlikely that I will ever regain sufficient sensation and control in my left hand to be able to use it for tasks requiring fine motor control.  I’m going to have to learn how to write with my right hand. As someone who was very dominantly left handed before the stroke, that’s going to be a challenge. But needs must.

 

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The existential choice before us

It’s clear that the second Scottish independence referendum, which the Scottish Government is committed to delivering within the term of this Scottish Parliament, is going to be very different in character from the first. Although the independence cause ultimately failed to get over the 50% threshold in the referendum of September 2014, the campaign scored some significant and lasting victories upon which which the campaign in front of us is able to build.

One of the most important of these victories, was the seismic achievement of changing the Scottish political landscape in a fundamental way. The victory of the Better Together campaign was a Pyrrhic one, which has seen the annihilation of the Labour party in Scotland and the destruction of its former position of dominance. Far from making the independence issue go away as Labour and its Tory allies so fondly hoped, the narrow defeat of the Yes campaign in 2014 did not result in a return to the Scottish politics of the 1990s and the early years of the 21st century. Quite the opposite, the issue of independence is now central to Scottish politics, indeed it has become the dominant issue around which all other issues revolve.

As we approach a second referendum what this means is that the question of independence has established itself as a serious and realistic prospect in the Scottish population at large, even amongst those who do not themselves support it. This gives the Yes campaign a huge advantage as it no longer needs to work to establish the idea of independence as a plausible reality in the face of anti-independence parties and a media which was keen to dismiss the idea out of hand as a Scotch pie in the sky which had no basis in the real world. We now live in a Scotland which opinion polling has repeatedly confirmed that most people believe is ultimately destined for independence. This figure is consistently higher than the number who currently support independence, which means that a small but significant section of those who oppose independence believe that theirs is ultimately a lost cause.

However there are also dangers here for the Yes campaign. As the 2014 campaign got underway the Better Together campaign and the London-centric media were characterised by a deep rooted arrogance, their unshakeable belief in British exceptionalism meant that they airily dismissed the independence movement and confidently predicted a crushing victory of 75% or more for opponents of independence. The narrowness of the final result shook them to the core, and goes a long way to explaining the anger and resentment that Anglo-British nationalism in Scotland has displayed ever since.

Another major difference between 2014 and now is that the Anglo-British opponents of independence will struggle to frame the independence referendum campaign as a choice between Scottish nationalism on the one hand, with all the emotionally loaded baggage which the word nationalism carries, and non-nationalism on the other. Brexit and the union flag fetish of the Conservatives, their rank xenophobia and constant appeals to a Great British nostalgia have laid bare the regressive and reactionary Anglo-British nationalism of the Westminster parties, above all the Conservatives, and even with the assistance of a willing media have made it much harder for them to peddle the foundational delusion of Anglo-British nationalism, that it is better than the nationalisms of lesser nations like Scotland by virtue of not being nationalist at all. We see through that deluded fairy story all too clearly now.

The next referendum will not present a false choice between Scottish nationalism and a fake non-nationalism, but rather must be framed as a choice between whether Scotland is best served by a destiny chosen for it by the Anglo-British nationalists like Alister Jack, who by his own admission does not even like to acknowledge the existence of Scotland as a distinct country in its own right, and who seeks to subsume Scotland into a unitary and centralised British nation state, or by a destiny chosen by the people of Scotland and a government answerable to the people of Scotland and no one else.

Effectively the choice before us in the next independence referendum is a starkly existential question. Do you want Scotland to continue as a distinct country and nation, making its own contribution to the world on its own terms, or are you content to see Scotland erased as a meaningful polity and country and reduced to a historic region of a unitary and centralised British nation state, with no more political significance, modern identity, or ability to frame its own public policies, than Mercia or Wessex. Because make no mistake, that is the future that the Conservatives have in mind for us, and which they will not hesitate to make a reality once they are no longer constrained by the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum.

One of the marked characteristics of the 2014 campaign was the “happy clappy” nature of the Yes campaign and its determination to focus exclusively on making a positive case for independence and to avoid talking about the risks that Scotland faced if it rejected independence. Brexit and this irredeemably corrupt Conservative government with its clear trajectory into authoritarianism and the neutering and destruction of democratic safeguards has changed all that. In the coming campaign we must highlight the immense dangers that Scotland faces if it is foolish enough to reject independence a second time.

There can be no question this time round of Gordon Brown’s federalist fantasy. The Conservatives will take a defeat for independence as a green light to embark upon an all out assault on the devolution settlement and the powers of the Scottish Parliament. They will certainly take steps to ensure that Scotland cannot have any more referendums and will have no compunction about transforming the UK from a voluntary union of nations into a union based upon compulsion, making a third referendum unlawful and removing the right of the people of Scotland to determine for themselves the form of government best suited to their needs.

In the next referendum we must highlight that the choice before us is either independence or Scotland ceasing to exist in any politically meaningful way, as nothing more than one of Alister Jack’s regions with a quaint dialect and a colourful past, just a pretty tartan bow on a Great British shortbread tin.

I have been in a lot of pain and discomfort this past week, so much so that I am having difficulty walking and am experiencing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion. Unfortunately I am not operating at full capacity and consequently won’t be able to get new blog pieces online as frequently as I would like to. I have also been told that it is unlikely that I will ever regain sufficient sensation and control in my left hand to be able to use it for tasks requiring fine motor control.  I’m going to have to learn how to write with my right hand. As someone who was very dominantly left handed before the stroke, that’s going to be a challenge. But needs must.

 

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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In Tory Britain you never know what will happen yesterday

To say that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s attitude to the laws, norms and standards that are expected of the rest of us is casual is a bit like saying that a distant cousin who turns up for your grandmother’s funeral naked except for a gimp mask and some glittery body paint on the cheeks of his arse spelling out the words “tradesman’s entrance” is a tad under-dressed.

There have been numerous instances of Johnson acting as though all laws and regulations have an additional caveat which says : Does not apply to Boris Johnson if he finds it inconvenient. We saw him wandering about a hospital in the north of England not wearing a face covering despite the rule that everyone who sets foot in a medical establishment must wear a face covering in order to protect any immuno-compromised patients or people with underlying medical conditions who may be at higher risk from covid. Of course none of this bothered a hair on Johnson’s artfully tousled head. It appears that to him any risk to other people paled into insignificance compared to the trauma he would suffer by having to put a piece of cloth over his lying mouth for a few minutes.

Just a few days later he again refused to wear a face covering while attending a London theatre for a performance of a Shakespearean play. I don’t think that the Bard of Stratford upon Avon ever wrote a play titled ‘Tis the Twelfth Night Thou Hast Forsaken the Masque upon Thy Visage, but if he did it would have been a tragedy about a Tyrant who willfully put his subjects at risk of infection during an outbreak of the Plague while the news pamphlets and town criers looked on indulgently.

The latest instance of blatant rule breaking is the furor over the Christmas party at Downing Street last year at a time when such gatherings were prohibited by law. Indeed the Home Secretary Priti Patel, whom no one has ever confused with a ray of sunshine, said when the regulations to curb the spread of the virus came into force that she would call the police if her neighbours were hosting a party that broke coronavirus restrictions. Patel has been notable for her silence now that we know that, despite Johnson’s increasingly implausible denials, a staff Christmas party took place at Downing Street. A video obtained by ITV News showed Number 10 staff joking about the party which they admitted was not socially distanced. The leak of the video comes after days of Johnson denying that a party had taken place.

Johnson has been forced to apologise, saying that he was “furious” when he saw the video. You bet he was, he was furious that he’d been found out.

Of course Priti Patel herself had no knowledge of the party at the time, you don’t invite Priti Patel to a party unless your idea of a party game includes stoning migrants or finding novel ways to make a refugee’s life more difficult. Mind you if they had invited her their denials that a party had taken place would have been more plausible. The mere presence of the Home Secretary is guaranteed to destroy anything approaching a party atmosphere.

Patel is not alone in going into hiding from the press. All government ministers have cancelled their scheduled press appearances and Scotland’s spineless Conservative MPs have all gone to ground, which given the fact that they’re all supine at least means they didn’t have far to go. Mind you it is entirely possible that Andrew Bowie has put in a media appearance, it’s just that no one recognises him with the smirk wiped off his face.

This latest unedifying episode in a string of unedifying episodes comes just after the news came out that Johnson is seeking to introduce a measure which would allow the government to retrospectively annul any court rulings which ministers disagreed with, for which read politically embarrassing or uncomfortable. Johnson wants to give himself a literal Get Out of Jail card and give himself the power to retroactively change laws that the government doesn’t like. As they used to say in the Soviet Union when recorded history was altered at the whim of the party and undesirable events were airbrushed out of existence, you never know what will happen yesterday. Johnson is determined to give himself the same power and to give himself an actual caveat in all laws and regulations which says that they don’t apply to Boris Johnson if he finds it inconvenient.

Plans have been drawn up by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab and Attorney General Suella Braverman at the behest of the Prime Minister. The plans will allow for a so-called “Interpretation Bill” to be passed by the Commons on an annual basis, allowing the Government to summarily dismiss any court rulings they did not like from that particular year.

It is no exaggeration to say that this is the road to tyranny and autocracy. Neither is this an isolated measure. The Conservatives are already intent on introducing voter suppression methods with their Elections Bill. These measures will disproportionately affect groups which tend not to support the Conservatives. Additionally the Johnson regime has made it clear that it intends to do away with the Human Rights Act.

Other anti-democratic measures from this government include severe restrictions on the right of protest. The Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill has been described as the most oppressive legislation tabled by a British government since the end of the second world war. The Bill potentially bans any effective protests, pickets or any other kind of action in places “such as” roads, railways, ports, airports, oil refineries and printing presses.

The Bill does not formally affect Scotland as crime and justice are devolved matters, however given Johnson’s willingness to intervene directly in Scotland and to by pass and undermine the devolution settlement, that is scant comfort. The UK is now at that critical point where it is about to slide into full blown authoritarianism, presided over by an entitled clown. There is nothing in what passes for a British constitution which is able to prevent an unprincipled and amoral Prime Minister who commands a large majority in the Commons from doing exactly as he pleases. It is now clear that democracy in Scotland can only be safe once this country regains its independence. Otherwise we’ll be stuck in a Brexit Britain where you never know what will happen yesterday.

I have been in a lot of pain and discomfort this past week, so much so that I am having difficulty walking and am experiencing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion. I have a physiotherapy appointment on Thursday and an occupational therapy appointment on Monday, so unfortunately I am not operating at full capacity and consequently won’t be able to get new blog pieces online as frequently as I would like to.  I have a physiotherapy appointment tomorrow so there will be no new blog tomorrow. I have also been told that it is unlikely that I will ever regain sufficient sensation and control in my left hand to be able to use it for tasks requiring fine motor control.  I’m going to have to learn how to write with my right hand. As someone who was very dominantly left handed before the stroke, that’s going to be a challenge. But needs must.

 

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Westminster’s orchard of poison apple trees

The recent opinion poll from IPSOS-Mori for STV was a huge boost for hopes for independence, putting support for independence on 55% and giving a clear lead to independence support in every age group in the country except the over 55s. The poll even shows a majority for Yes when don’t knows are included. This poll comes after a run of polls which have given a narrow lead to opposition to independence, leading apologists for Westminster to dismiss it as a rogue poll which does not accurately reflect the true position on the ground. This poll is significant however, and cannot be dismissed so easily despite the hopes of British nationalists because it is the first telephone poll in a very long time. All the other polls have been online polls which perforce have a very different methodology. Time will tell which polling company has got it right.

What it does tell us, and in the most resounding way possible, is that the oft repeated assertions by anti-independence politicians and commentators that support for independence is declining cannot be substantiated and can be dismissed as fond hopes and attempts at wish fulfillment rather than facts. A massive 80% of people in Scotland say that they are dissatisfied with the performance of a Prime Minister who leads a party which is constantly mired in allegations of sleaze and corruption and who repeatedly demonstrates a casual contempt for the standards of behaviour expected of the rest of us. Across the UK three-quarters of the public are concerned about corruption in government, including seven in 10 of 2019 Conservative voters, according to recent polling. In Scotland just a mere 10% of the public think that the ruling party of British Government does not give the impression of being sleazy and disreputable.

Under such circumstances, and amidst such widespread dissatisfaction the so-called Union cannot in any way be described as safe. There is one thing we know for certain about Conservative corruption scandals. While the British Government aided by a media which prefers to look the other way will do its utmost to move public attention away from this story, nothing meaningful will change and some new Conservative sleaze scandal will come along later.

It should be clear by now that sleaze and corruption in the Conservative party is not the limited aberration of a few bad apples, it is a property of the entire Westminster orchard. Those aren’t apple trees, they’re sleaze trees growing entitlement and privilege.

From a royal family which erases the line between public and private for the personal enrichment of its members and which is treated with a sycophantic deference which places it beyond any accountability to an unelected and undemocratic House of Lords which is a machine for patronage and a House of Commons which awards absolute power to a party which can win even less than 40% of the popular vote and a Prime Minister who suffers few effective checks on his or her authority, the Westminster system is designed to perpetuate the privilege and entitlement of the few over the many. Corruption and sleaze are not unfortunate occasional lapses in this system, they are what it is designed to facilitate.

Expecting Westminster to take effective action to crack down on the sleaze and corruption of senior members of the Conservative party and to introduce meaningful checks and balances on the power of the Prime Minister, never mind democratic reform of the House of Lords or cutting down to size the bloated entitlement and greed of members of the House of Windsor is like expecting the most narcissistic vampire to take up veganism and then not to remind you every five minutes that they’re a vegan. It’s simply alien to the nature of the beast.

As supporters of Scottish independence, one of the most crucial messages for us to get out to the people of Scotland is that meaningful and lasting change is only possible with independence. If we want to live in a country which is truly democratic and where everyone is held to account equally, there’s only one way we are going to get it. Under Westminster we are condemned to a perpetual Groundhog day of Westminster sleaze and corruption stories which are met with promises of reform which are carefully calibrated to placate the media and to take the heat off the government of the day and solve its short term political embarrassment but which have no meaningful effect at all.

The Tories are easily the worst offenders but the intrinsic corruption of Westminster infects all parties who attain control of Parliament. The Labour Government of Tony Blair was no stranger to allegations of corruption and the selling of peerages to party donors.

Fundamentally the issue of Scottish independence is about democracy and accountability and ensuring that those who have the powers to change our laws, make public policy and determine the path that this country takes are answerable to and led by the people of Scotland. The Westminster Parliament with its carefully constructed veneer of democracy is designed to ensure the perpetuation of entitlement, privilege and inequality. It has had several hundred years of practice at co-opting and neutralising any radical or democratic threat to the ability of a small minority who are well-connected to continue to enrich themselves and to arrogate to themselves the ability to direct public policy and the course of the state. It is a system which has well-developed mechanisms designed to protect it from the threat of reform. The current public outrage about Conservative corruption will go the same way as all the other bouts of public anger about corruption and sleaze in the British establishment – nowhere.

The message of independence is a message of change and a message of hope. We can live in a better country. We can replace the weary cynicism generated among the public by Westminster as a self-defence mechanism with a realistic vision of a country where public office is not a route to private enrichment and where the priority of those in power is the common good not personal gain. It’s a better country which is within our grasp, all we need is the courage and confidence to grasp it and to root out for good the poison apple trees that constitute Westminster orchard of greed and privilege.

I have been in a lot of pain and discomfort this past week, so much so that I am having difficulty walking and am experiencing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion. I have a physiotherapy appointment on Thursday and an occupational therapy appointment on Monday, so unfortunately I am not operating at full capacity and consequently won’t be able to get new blog pieces online as frequently as I would like to.

 

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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A convincing victory for independence is within our grasp

The opinion poll carried out by IPSOS Mori for STV which was published on Wednesday could not have come at a better time. Just a couple of days after the First Minister announced that campaigning for independence would ratchet up a gear in the New Year and that preparations would get underway later in 2022 for a second independence referendum in 2023, we have an opinion poll showing that support for independence is currently sitting at 55%, the mirror image of the outcome of the 2014 referendum which produced a 55% vote against independence, a result which the BBC at the time described as convincing. Significantly, the lead for yes produced in this poll is greater than the 3% margin of error which is standard in opinion polling. It is perhaps also significant that this is the first telephone poll we have seen in a good while.

This week’s poll is a fantastic and perfectly timed boost to the campaign announced by the First Minister, and ensures that soor faced British nationalists like Douglas Ross will be seen to be only speaking for themselves and the members of a Livingston flute band, and not Scotland as a whole when they claim that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum.

The poll also showed that the SNP’s domination of the Scottish political landscape continues unabated, and indeed is only strengthening, mostly at the expense of Labour and the Conservatives. A seat projection for Holyrood based on this poll would see an increase in SNP and Green representation with the SNP comfortably attaining an outright majority by themselves.

Wednesday’s poll was in fact the second in a week to vindicate the Scottish Government and the First Minister, another recent poll found that 53% in Scotland want a second independence referendum within the term of this Scottish Parliament. Not only do most people in Scotland want another referendum, but even as the campaign proper just starts to begin in earnest, we already have majority support for independence. Right now we are about as far out from the second referendum as we were from the first when Alex Salmond announced in March 2013 that the referendum would be held on 18 September 2014. during that eighteen month period determined and focused campaigning on the part of independence supporters took support for independence from the low 30s percentile to the 45% achieved on the day of the referendum.

We now have another eighteen months in which to repeat some concerted campaigning which will serve to focus minds on the issue of independence and hopefully to repeat the substantial gains in independence support seen in 2013-14, only crucially this time we are starting from a much higher baseline. Even if Wednesday’s poll was an outlier, we now have substantial polling evidence to demonstrate that support for independence is favoured by at least half, and quite possibly more, of the population of Scotland. That is an exceptionally strong position from which to launch a campaign, particularly since the Conservatives have spent the last few years methodically destroying many of the arguments deployed by the Better Together campaign in 2014.

A lot can happen in eighteen months. Nothing should be taken for granted, and it is likely to prove difficult to increase support for independence by the approximate 15% which it increased between 2012/13 and the September 2014 vote. Most people in Scotland have now got at least a passing familiarity with independence arguments, which wasn’t the case before the 2014 vote. The concept of Scottish independence is no longer the novelty that it once was. This is of course potentially an advantage as much as a possible weakness as it means that whether you support it or oppose it, the idea of Scottish independence now has to be taken seriously, which means that more people are likely to give it serious thought and consideration. Only that minority of Scottish opinion which is wedded to the Conservative party will now dismiss it out of hand.

However since the notion of Scottish independence is now very much a mainstream idea in Scottish politics, that means it is likely that those of us campaigning for a yes vote are going to encounter more people who have already made up their minds one way or the other. Yet if we can achieve even one half of the persuasive success achieved between 2012/13 and the first independence referendum, that means that we could potentially win the next referendum with a vote in the high 50s percentile, which the BBC would probably call an indecisive result on the narrowest of margins. It is certainly possible that we could do even better.

One of the most interesting features of opinion polling about Scottish independence is that the percentage which says that they believe independence is going to happen eventually is consistently higher than the percentage which says that they themselves support independence. This can only mean that there is a small but significant body of those who are currently opposed to independence who believe that theirs will go down in history as the losing side. This points to considerable fear and uncertainty on a British nationalist side with low morale and a deep seated lack of conviction in the ability of the British state defeat Scottish independence.

While we must never underestimate the willingness of those who fear their backs are against the wall to fight dirty, the simple fact is that in order to see off Scottish independence as a political force, British nationalists in Scotland must break out of their red white and blue Brexit admiration society, the quandary that the Tories face is that the more they resort to an anti-democratic denial of the mandate for a referendum which the Scottish electorate gave Holyrood in May, the harder it becomes for them to win the support of those in Scotland who do not prioritise a British identity above all other considerations and who are not opposed to Scottish independence under all and any circumstances.

For our part, as independence supporters we need to focus on the prize, and put all our efforts into highlighting the irredeemable dysfunction and corruption of Westminster and reaching out to those who have yet to be persuaded of the case for independence. That is exactly what this blog will be doing over the coming months.  A Yes vote of approaching 60% is within our grasp. We just need the determination and drive to reach for it.

Just to let you know, I am currently going through a phase of what my physiotherapist calls neurological hypersensitivity. Nerves and sensation are starting to reawaken on the left side of my body, however because my brain has had no input from the left for many months and because the relevant parts of the brain suffered damage in the stroke, the brain is interpreting these signals as pain.  It’s uncomfortable and exhausting but it is a sign of progress and therefore is good news.  Hopefully my brain will relearn what these signals really mean and the pain will diminish and I will have meaningful sensation.  However in the meantime it’s causing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion as well as pain, so I will be blogging less frequently until symptoms settle down.

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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The task ahead

On Monday the First Minister addressed delegates on the last day of the SNP’s virtual conference and gave us all some much needed certainty about the timing of the second Scottish independence referendum, or at least as much certainty as is possible when the world is dealing with an inherently unpredictable global pandemic which has taken millions of lives already, and which continues to pose a grave danger.

Given the constraints imposed by the uncertainties of the pandemic, the Scottish Government intends to ramp up campaigning for independence in spring of the coming year, and later in the year will set the process in motion for the referendum to be held in 2023. The idea is that the early part of next year should be spent laying out a renewed case for independence in order to go into the inevitable political battle with a Conservative Government which knows that it is bereft of a compelling case for a union that it itself is destroying with the support of as broad a range of Scottish public opinion as possible, and to enter the referendum campaign proper with a solid platform of independence support which will carry Scotland to assert its desire for independence in the subsequent vote.

The BBC and the rest of Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence media is very fond of telling us that support for independence has slipped back since last year when Yes was consistently ahead in the polls and at one point support for independence reached 58%. However what the British media is less keen to point out is that even if support for independence has slipped back, this also means that support in Scotland for staying with the not so tender mercies of the Westminster system is extremely fragile.

While there is a significant and highly vocal minority in Scotland, validated by the media, which is opposed to independence under any circumstances, at least 58% of the population of Scotland – indeed probably more – is not only open to the idea of independence, but is already on the verge of committing to it. They have already toyed with the idea of independence to the extent of thinking about voting yes in a future referendum. The task before us in the coming year is to reach out to this vital segment of the population and to assuage any fears or doubts that they may have in order to turn their wavering support for independence into a solid determination to vote yes. That is a job which ought to be considerably less challenging than attempting to covert a confirmed No voter to Yes.

The questions and issues which face us as we go into this second referendum are different in some key aspects from the issues which dominated the campaign of 2014. Economic discussions will not be dominated by Scotland’s oil and gas resources but rather by the country’s immense potential for the production of energy from renewable and clean sources. Possessing a quarter of the entire European potential for wind energy production, as well as a massive potential for tidal and wave energy production, independence could unlock for Scotland a future as an energy rich nation, Europe’s green powerhouse. And unlike the oil and gas, no one can claim that the wind and tides are going to run out.

Another significant difference is that the experience of the pandemic has proven that Scotland does not require the Westminster Parliament in order to deal with threats and challenges, even those of a global magnitude. Indeed we learned with Johnson’s shambolic, incompetent and chaotic response to the pandemic that Westminster actually endangers Scotland and puts us at greater risk. Furthermore we learned that the priority of this British Government was not the public good but private interests and the corrupt and sleazy handing out of lucrative contracts to the friends and associates of senior Government figures.

The argument that Scotland required Westminster in order to fund furlough payments is a specious one as Westminster had reserved to itself the necessary borrowing powers. It’s a bit like being told that you can’t leave your controlling partner because you need them to pay the household bills after they have refused to give you access to the bank account and refuse to allow you to get a credit card. There is absolutely no reason why an independent Scotland couldn’t do as every other independent nation has done and make its own borrowing arrangements.

However perhaps the biggest difference of all will be the discussion around Scotland’s relationships with Europe and the rest of the world. Brexit has destroyed the British nationalist claim that support for Scottish independence is inward looking and parochial. It has also destroyed the pretensions of British nationalists that British nationalism is inherently non-nationalist and laid bare the ugly reality of British nationalism as reactionary, xenophobic, and founded upon an unshakeable belief in British exceptionalism.

Brexit and the lies, deceit and untrustworthiness of Brexit Britain in its dealings with the EU has ensured that the British state will find it far less easy than it did in 2014 to produce a succession of foreign politicians willing to make statements which are helpful to the anti-independence campaign. Furthermore it has generated considerable international sympathy for an independent Scotland and a much greater understanding in other countries about why Scottish independence is desirable.

It is now unarguable that the quickest and easiest route for Scotland to get back into the European single market and customs area and to restore the rights of freedom of movement that Brexit stripped from Scots, along with everyone else in the UK, is with independence. This of course raises questions about the Scottish-English border for which we need answers. We must act decisively to put to rest any British nationalist claims that there will be passport checks at Gretna. Scotland will remain a part of the passport-free Common Travel Area along with Ireland. Any border checks will apply solely to commercial traffic and can be carried out away from the border itself.

The coming year will be crucial for the future of Scotland. For too long the independence movement has been obsessed with process and what to do if Boris Johnson refuses to consent to a referendum. It seems that the strategy of the Scottish Government is to press ahead with a referendum and to dare Johnson to challenge it. The best way to tackle that eventuality is to work to ensure that there is such a groundswell of support in Scotland for independence and for Scotland’s inalienable right to determine its own future in another referendum that Johnson and the Tories realise that any attempt by Downing Street to veto Scottish democracy will catastrophically backfire on them and will guarantee the political destruction of Scottish unionism. That’s what intend to devote my time and energies to in the weeks and months ahead. 2022 arrives in a few short weeks and Scotland’s time is coming.

Just to let you know, I am currently going through a phase of what my physiotherapist calls neurological hypersensitivity. Nerves and sensation are starting to reawaken on the left side of my body, however because my brain has had no input from the left for many months and because the relevant parts of the brain suffered damage in the stroke, the brain is interpreting these signals as pain.  It’s uncomfortable and exhausting but it is a sign of progress and therefore is good news.  Hopefully my brain will relearn what these signals really mean and the pain will diminish and I will have meaningful sensation.  However in the meantime it’s causing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion as well as pain, so I will be blogging less frequently until symptoms settle down.

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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A vote of no confidence in the Westminster system

There has certainly been no time in recent history when the need for Scottish independence has been so acute and pressing. We are now in a very different place from the independence campaign of the 2014 referendum. Back then it was still possible to believe that devolution was safe and that further powers could be granted to the devolved Scottish Parliament. Those opposed to independence could tout the line that support for independence was parochial and inward looking and that it was only thanks to the good graces of the UK that Scotland could enjoy membership of the EU and be respected and taken seriously by the rest of the world.

Now we know that devolution is gravely imperilled, the existence of a powerful Scottish Parliament is antithetical to the right wing Conservative vision of a centralised post-Brexit state in which the Scotland Secretary Alister Jack has no qualms about declaring that he dislikes acknowledging that Scotland is a nation in its own right, preferring to subsume it in a single “British nation” in which Scotland is reduced to nothing more than a quaint region with some dialect differences. The Conservatives have traduced their own promises made to the people of Scotland in 2014 when they vowed never to alter the powers of the Scottish Parliament without Holyrood’s consent and have set out to by-pass and undermine Holyrood, giving Westminster powers to intervene in Scotland on devolved issues without even pretending to seek a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland to do so.

However it’s not just the future of the devolution settlement which is at risk under the Westminster Conservatives, the very future of Scotland as a nation and a distinct polity is threatened by them. Alister Jack’s comments, which included the remark that he views the Scotland England border as nothing more than a sign by the side of the road, demonstrate that if the Tories had their way Scotland would be reduced to nothing more than a glorified county council, existing purely in order to allow Anglo-British nationalists like Jack to indulge themselves in the delusional fantasy that their nationalism isn’t really nationalist at all.

The only thing stopping them from a full throated assault on the devolution settlement is the possibility of another independence referendum.

It’s also now clear that it is British nationalism and the Brexit British state which is parochial, inward looking and xenophobic. Scottish independence represents by far the quickest and most secure route for Scotland to re-establish closer ties with Europe and the EU and to regain EU membership. Even if there was a significant change in the political climate in the UK, which is by no means certain, the member states of the EU would be highly reluctant to allow the UK back into the EU, and EFTA countries made it clear during the Brexit transitional period that they would not welcome a UK application for membership. Thanks to Brexit and the serial deceit of the Conservatives, the British state has destroyed any goodwill that it once had. The UK is now viewed as an untrustworthy partner, a troublesome state whose defining characteristic is a belief that it should magically be exempt from the norms and standards expected of other independent European states.

Scotland, on the other hand, would be welcomed with open arms, as was made clear by Jan Jambon, the Minister-President of Belgium’s Flemish community who said last week that Flemish ports should prepare for the possible independence of Scotland from the United Kingdom.

The way that Scotland has been treated by this duplicitous Conservative government would be bad enough if it were even semi-competent, but it cannot even aspire to the heady heights of adequacy. What we have is a shambolic and incompetent British government which lurches from one allegation of sleaze and corruption to another, whose senior figures have a relationship to the truth which is so distant that it’s not even on the same space-time continuum as any recognisable reality in this universe, and which has elevated a callous and cruel disregard for human life and decency into the closest thing it has got to a guiding principle. Following the appalling tragedy of dozens of people fleeing war and persecution losing their lives as they attempted to cross the English Channel, this fundamentally unserious government and Prime Minister used the disaster as an excuse to try and get into a Twitter spat with the French President.

As we brace for the spread of a new and concerning variant of the virus, we learned on Sunday that the Johnson Government has ignored a senior official’s plan to prepare the UK for the possible emergence of vaccine-resistant Covid variants.

Clive Dix, a leading figure in drug development who chaired the vaccine task force until April this year told the Observer newspaper :”I wrote a very specific proposal on what we should put in place right now for the emergence of any new virus that escaped the vaccine. That was written and handed into the vaccine task force at the end of April when I left. I haven’t seen a sign of any of those activities yet.” Johnson has already presided over a UK which has suffered a huge death toll and greater economic damage than any comparable state, but has learned absolutely nothing. Instead he devotes his time and energy into trying to neuter independent scrutiny of MPs’ activities while doing nothing about the scandal of his party’s hoovering up of dark money in donations, allegedly in return for peerages.

The SNP has announced that on Tuesday it will table a motion of no confidence in the Johnson government in the Commons. In the highly unlikely event that it passes, the Government will fall and there will have to be a General Election. However it will be defeated as the Conservatives possess a large majority in Parliament.

The question is whether Keir Starmer’s Labour party will support the motion or whether they will yet again put their tribal dislike of the SNP ahead of doing their job as the official opposition and actually opposing the Tories for a change, because if they do as they usually do, and find some spurious reason for abstaining, they will merely confirm that within the UK Scotland has no protection from the malignities of the Conservatives and the only possible option is independence. Then they will have shown Scotland that we need to pass a vote of no confidence in the entire Westminster system.

Just to let you know, I am currently going through a phase of what my physiotherapist calls neurological hypersensitivity. Nerves and sensation are starting to reawaken on the left side of my body, however because my brain has had no input from the left for many months and because the relevant parts of the brain suffered damage in the stroke, the brain is interpreting these signals as pain.  It’s uncomfortable and exhausting but it is a sign of progress and therefore is good news.  Hopefully my brain will relearn what these signals really mean and the pain will diminish and I will have meaningful sensation.  However in the meantime it’s causing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion as well as pain, so I will be blogging less frequently until symptoms settle down.

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Johnson: the perfect figurehead for a corrupt and unreformable Westminster

The performance artiste with the stage name Boris Johnson who is treating the position of the Prime Minister of the UK as the world’s greatest improv gig does not currently have his troubles to seek. The fall out from his disastrously self serving decision to rip up independent oversight of Conservative MPs’ sleazebag side gigs had not abated when he compounded backbench anger with his toe curling, well let’s call it a speech, to the CBI, which contained more hums and haws and vroom vroom noises than actual words in the English language.

To make matters worse for Johnson, who got the position of leader of the Tory party in part because of his supposed skills as an orator, the meaningful words which the – are we still calling it a speech? – did contain were not strung together in any coherent fashion, and appeared to be mostly concerned with a visit to Peppa Pig land, which Johnson claimed was his kind of place. This must come as a surprise to those who have seen the programme in the company of some under fives and had failed to realise it was actually about a compulsively lying serial adulterer who tries to get a journalist beaten up and who would privatise the NHS if he thought he could get away with it.

Still it’s nice to know that even the supine jellyfish on the Conservative benches in the Commons do in fact have a limit to their toleration of Johnson’s appalling behaviour and manifest unsuitability for public office. However it speaks volumes about the lack of morality, or indeed basic human decency in the Parliamentary Conservative party that the limit was reached, not with a callous incompetence in handling the pandemic which has left the UK with one of the highest per capita death tolls in the world, not with one lie after another. It was not even reached with Johnson’s naked assault on the democratic norms of the UK which the Conservatives effect to be so proud of – up to and including lying to the Queen in order to unlawfully prorogue Parliament in an effort to evade Parliamentary scrutiny of his Brexit deal.

The Tories have been just fine with all of this, just as they have been fine with the corruption, the sleaze and the flouting of the lockdown rules which the rest of us must adhere to. Johnson once again flouted official requests to wear a mask as he watched a performance of Macbeth at a busy theatre in north London on Monday night, according to witnesses, just days after he refused to wear a mask on a visit to a hospital in the north of England.

No, what finally did it for the Tories was a stumbling and shambolic speech about Peppa Pig. The Tories knew exactly what they were getting with Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, they knew all about his total lack of concern for anyone other than himself, the fact that he occupies a principle and moral vacuum, his rank opportunism, and his laziness. But despite all that they chose him as leader anyway, because they cynically calculated that his carefully contrived shambolic “Boris” shtick with his deliberately rumpled appearance and purposely unkempt hair would appeal to a certain type of voter in England who would be swayed by the alleged charms of an upper class patrician type whose persona is based upon not giving a shit. A significant minority in class obsessed England confuse this act with authenticity, enough to give Johnson and the Conservatives the victory they craved in the General Election of December 2019.

Now however the novelty has well and truly worn off and the public in England is starting to show signs of tiring of the Boris performance. Even the robotic and bland Keir Starmer, who would make a bowl of unsalted and unbuttered mashed potatoes seem dangerously spicy by comparison is starting to make inroads into the Conservatives’ lead in the UK-wide opinion polls. As Leader of the Opposition Starmer is assiduous and energetic in attacking his political opponents. Luckily for Johnson and the Tories, the great political opponents of the Parliamentary Labour party are other parts of the Labour party.

There is now widespread disquiet on the Conservative benches as Tory MPs fear for their second jobs and start to doubt Johnson’s ability to get them re-elected. There are rumours of moves being made against him and even that some Tory MPs are sounding out their colleagues about a potential leadership challenge. Downing Street has been forced to go on the defensive, with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, himself a selfish incompetence who owes his position entirely to Johnson’s patronage, asserting that Johnson’s speech to the CBI was an example of the prime minister being “ebullient”, in the process giving us yet another example of senior Conservatives using words in entirely novel and unexpected ways, such as when Michael Gove described the Conservatives by-passing the Scottish Parliament and intervening directly on devolved matters as “augmenting” devolution.

It is unlikely that Johnson will be unseated by his party in the short term, the anonymous briefings to the press from unhappy Tory MPs and the rumours of leadership challenges are more likely an attempt from within the party to deliver a shot across the bows of the Johnson ship of state in the hope of getting a few concessions.

However what recent developments within the Conservative party do signify is that for the time being we will not be hearing any more talk from the Conservatives and their allies about a snap General Election in the Spring in order to take advantage of the ineffectiveness of the Labour party. The Conservatives know that they need to get their own house in order first. Their problem is that what they are getting with Johnson is precisely what they should have expected they were going to get. He’s incapable of change and as such is a perfect figurehead for a corrupt and shambolic Westminster which is incapable of reform.

That means we are going to be stuck with Johnson for the time being. He’s possibly the best recruiting sergeant the Scottish independence movement could wish for and the longer he remains in office the more obvious the need for Scottish independence becomes to the undecided and the switherers.

Just to let you know, I am currently going through a phase of what my physiotherapist calls neurological hypersensitivity. Nerves and sensation are starting to reawaken on the left side of my body, however because my brain has had no input from the left for many months and because the relevant parts of the brain suffered damage in the stroke, the brain is interpreting these signals as pain.  It’s uncomfortable and exhausting but it is a sign of progress and therefore is good news.  Hopefully my brain will relearn what these signals really mean and the pain will diminish and I will have meaningful sensation.  However in the meantime it’s causing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion as well as pain, so I may not blog every day until symptoms settle down.

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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Not building bridges with the UK : making connections with independence

It was reported today that the “Boris Bridge” has been definitively cancelled. Most of Scotland was about as shocked and surprised at this development as it was at the revelation that bright orange is not in fact the natural skin colour of the cast members of The Only Way Is Essex or that there’s been considerable and expensive cosmetic dentistry in the creation of Rylan’s impressively white and gleaming teeth, which ensure that he’ll never be stuck for a job because all he needs to do is to stand on a cliff and open his mouth so he can double up as a lighthouse.

Of course Johnson’s ludicrous plan was never going to be realised. Building a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland would have to deal with the strong currents, frequent winter storms, and great depths of the North Channel, not to mention the thousands of tons of conventional munitions and chemical weapons that the Ministry of Defence has dumped in Beaufort’s Dyke, because as far as the British state is concerned Scotland is nothing more than a conveniently remote location for dumping the dangerously toxic and explosive implements of British imperialism that Westminster wants kept as far away as possible from places that it actually cares about.

Even if a bridge were built, poor weather would ensure it was frequently closed for days at a stretch during the winter months. A tunnel would be more feasible, even if ruinously expensive to construct, but it would still have to overcome some formidable engineering challenges and given the British state’s atrocious record in major civil engineering projects, which invariably come in very late and considerably over budget, there is no doubt that it would end up costing a great deal more than the £20 billion budget which Johnson and his supporters were bandying about.

Johnson has form for backing pie in the sky projects. He has a childish need to attach his name to massive infrastructure developments, in what is clearly a reflection of his narcissistic insecurity. Of course rather than getting therapy, Johnson expects the public to pay billions of pounds in order to assuage his fragile ego and ensure that he will be remembered for something other than his constant lies, his deceit, his corruption, and the way he has wrecked democracy.

There is of course the infamous Garden Bridge proposal for a pedestrian bridge over the Thames in central London which Johnson enthusiastically supported when he was the London Mayor. The failed project ate up £43 million in public money before being cancelled. Then there was the plan for “Boris Island”, a scheme to build a new six runway airport on an artificial island in the Thames estuary. The architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrel likened the plan to the grandiose and unrealistic projects devised by Adolf Hitler and described it as “mad”.

The fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland was never going to be built. The political purpose of the equally mad, grandiose, and unrealistic proposal to build a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland was to throw a bone to the staunch mob in Scotland in the run up to the crucial Holyrood elections and to persuade the equally staunch mob in Northern Ireland that the British Government actually cared about them after throwing the DUP under the Brexit bus the moment that the Conservatives no longer relied on them for their majority in the House of Commons. In the exact same way, once the formerly Labour seats in the so-called Red Wall in the north of England were in the bag for Johnson and the Tories, the plan to build an eastern arm of High Speed Rail to Leeds was scrapped as was the proposal for a high speed rail connection between Leeds and Manchester, northern England’s largest cities.

While other countries get on with extending and developing the high speed rail networks that will be essential as a replacement for short haul flights in a carbon zero age, we can forget about the British Government ever prioritising a high speed rail connection between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Under Westminster, Scotland is forever condemned to the slow track, while the rest of Europe speeds by and wonders why a resource rich and highly educated nation like Scotland continues to tolerate the second rate status to which it is consigned by the British state.

The reality is that if Scotland wants meaningful connections, physical or otherwise, with other countries, it can only do so as an independent nation in charge of determining its own priorities. There is no doubt that other countries would be eager to have Scotland as a partner in a way that they are not with a UK which has become a by-word for perfidy, deceit and untrustworthiness.

In an article published over the weekend by Finland’s English language newspaper the Helsinki Times, professor of politics Anthony Heron argues that Scotland would be an ideal candidate for membership of the Nordic Council. This is a view shared by Finnish politician Mikko Kärnä, who represents Lapland in the Eduskunta, the Finnish Parliament. Kärnä congratulated Nicola Sturgeon on the SNP’s victory in May’s election and said that he was confident that Scotland will vote for independence once the pandemic is over.

In the meantime he announced an initiative to grant Scotland observer status of the Nordic Council. The Nordic Council is an interparliamentary organization comprising the five Nordic countries, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, and Sweden, and the Nordic Region’s three autonomous territories, the Åland islands, The Faroe Islands and Greenland. Full membership of the Nordic Council is open to the independent nations of Scandinavia. The Åland islands, the Faroe Islands and Greenland have membership with limited rights. The Saami Council, the Sámiráđđi, a voluntary, non-governmental organization of the indigenous Saami people made up of nine Saami member organizations in Finland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden has formal observer status.

The choice for Scotland is clear, make our own connections and determine our own priorities, or forever keep on being fobbed off with Westminster’s pie in the sky lies.

Just to let you know, I am currently going through a phase of what my physiotherapist calls neurological hypersensitivity. Nerves and sensation are starting to reawaken on the left side of my body, however because my brain has had no input from the left for many months and because the relevant parts of the brain suffered damage in the stroke, the brain is interpreting these signals as pain.  It’s uncomfortable and exhausting but it is a sign of progress and therefore is good news.  Hopefully my brain will relearn what these signals really mean and the pain will diminish and I will have meaningful sensation.  However in the meantime it’s causing a lot of fatigue and exhaustion as well as pain, so I may not blog every day until symptoms settle down.

albarevisedMy Gaelic maps of Scotland are still available, a perfect gift for any Gaelic learner or just for anyone who likes maps. The maps cost £15 each plus £7 P&P within the UK. You can order by sending a PayPal payment of £22 to weegingerbook@yahoo.com (Please remember to include the postal address where you want the map sent to).

I am now writing the daily newsletter for The National, published every day from Monday to Friday in the late afternoon.  So if you’d like a daily dose of dug you can subscribe to The National, Scotland’s only pro-independence newspaper, here: Subscriptions from The National

This is your reminder that the purpose of this blog is to promote Scottish independence. If the comment you want to make will not assist with that goal then don’t post it. If you want to mouth off about how much you dislike the SNP leadership there are other forums where you can do that. You’re not welcome to do it here.

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 below. If you don’t have a PayPal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.

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plus ça Westminster change, plus c’est la même chose de Westminster

There’s one thing that Westminster is very good at – you might even say that in this respect the UK really is world-beating. It’s just a shame then that what Westminster is world beating at is in finding ways to appear to be dealing with an issue while not actually changing anything at all. This is how the UK has managed to make it into the 21st century with a parliament with an essentially unreformed second chamber. Membership of the House of Lords is no longer exclusively for members of the aristocracy who inherited their seats and or bishops of the Church of England, but CofE bishops still have a seat in the Lords as do 92 hereditary peers.

There’s no pretence of democratic accountability for the 720 members of the Lords. The vast majority are life peers who were appointed by the Prime Minister. It is a system which reeks of blatant and naked patronage and it ensures that politicians who have been rejected by the voters can continue to make laws and influence public policy. Tony Blair responded to public demands to reform the unelected House of Lords by abolishing the right of most hereditary peers to sit in the Lords and to replace them with peers appointed due to the patronage of the Prime Minister. He thus did nothing to make the Lords more democratic or accountable, and increased the power of his own office while appearing to respond to calls for reform of an unaccountable and undemocratic second chamber.

We have seen similar tricks in Scotland, widespread demand in Scotland in the 1980s for a Scottish Parliament and assertions of the sovereignty of the people of Scotland were met with “devolution”, a formulation designed to ensure that sovereign power remained with the Westminster Parliament – as the phrase used by Labour politicians at the time to signify that in the view of the Westminster Parliament, it was merely permitting the new Scottish Parliament to administer powers on Westminster’s behalf.

Although a considerable part of the drive for a Scottish Parliament in the Thatcher/Major era came from a desire in Scotland to ensure that Scotland was protected from the policies of Westminster Conservative governments that Scotland didn’t vote for, the limitations of devolution have become painfully apparent since the Brexit vote in 2016.

Despite the fact that one of the key promises of the Better Together campaign in 2014 was that the powers of Holyrood would be protected and that no Westminster government would ever make changes to the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament, this was hedged about with the weasel word “normally”, giving Conservative Governments a loophole to exploit, and which they have exploited in full, allowing them to claim that they had to make changes unilaterally to the devolution settlement due to the “exceptional” circumstances of Brexit, a Brexit which Scotland rejected at the 2016 referendum and which it has continued to reject at every election since by voting for political parties which oppose it.

We now see that devolution cannot protect Scotland from the malignant effects of Conservative governments which Scotland didn’t vote for – that was the problem that a Scottish Parliament was supposed to solve. Westminster made sure it couldn’t. To add insult to injury this Conservative Government is now using the Brexit that Scotland didn’t vote for either in order to traduce and by-pass the Scottish Parliament. They even have the unmitigated gall to insist that in doing so they are “augmenting devolution” which is a bit like chopping someone’s legs off at the knees and then saying that you have augmented their mobility because now they can use a wheelchair.

The only thing that prevents the Conservatives from embarking on an all-out destruction of the devolution settlement is the prospect of a second Scottish independence referendum. They know that neutering Holyrood and openly attacking the devolution settlement would put rocket boosters under the case for independence. But make no mistake, if Scotland is foolish enough to vote No again in that second referendum, that is exactly what the Conservatives will do. Devolution has no future with a Westminster which will stop at nothing in order to see off any challenge to its power and the way it has always done things.

The latest example of Westminster making a big show of purporting to respond to a political problem but in reality not doing anything of substance which will actually effect the needed changes that the measure is supposed to bring about is Boris Johnson’s response to the on-going scandal about the second jobs of Conservative MPs and their often extremely lucrative outside interests.

The scandal broke because of Johnson’s decision to abolish independent scrutiny of MPs’ activities and replace it with a sham committee with a built in Tory majority in the wake of the decision to suspend Conservative MP Owen Paterson after he had been found to engage in inappropriate lobbying on behalf of companies he was employed by. The scandal soon widened to cover the issue of second jobs for MPs,Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox earns hundreds of thousands a year working for a legal firm. 90 out of 360 Conservative MPs have second jobs compared with five of Labour’s 199 MPs and two each from the SNP and the Lib Dems.

Earlier this week Johnson announced a plan which would supposedly tighten the rules on the outside jobs and financial interests of MPs. On Wednesday MPs voted 297 to nil to back Downing Street plans to restrict outside work to “reasonable limits” and prohibit parliamentary advice or consultancy. Johnson was hoping that this would draw a line under the affair. However an analysis of the register of MPs’ interests soon found that fewer than ten MPs would be affected by the rule change.

According to the Guardian newspaper, the proposed prohibition on MPs being parliamentary advisers appears to be so narrowly worded that only two Tories out of the 48 Conservative MPs with consultancy jobs fitted the description and would be affected by the new ban.

The phrase plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, the more it changes the more it remains the same, looks as though it was invented for Westminster. The only way Scotland will ever see any real and meaningful change is with independence.

 

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