The people’s party that chose to stand against the people

Well now we know. The only thing that Labour in Scotland stands for is defending the Union, and they’re even prepared to go into coalition with the Tories in order to do so. Mind you, we knew that already, but this week we had confirmation that Labour doesn’t exist in order to protect working people from the depredations of the Tories. It exists in order to protect the Unionist political settlement that leaves working people vulnerable to the depredations of the Tories because if there’s no such settlement then Labour can’t claim that it exists in order to protect working people from the depredations of the Tories.

It’s a bit like Van Helsing going into a coalition with Dracula to stave off the villagers with the torches and pitchforks because in a world without vampires vampire hunters are needed as much as the Workers’ Revolutionary Party needs Ruth Davidson to stand outside a branch of Primark on a wet Saturday morning flogging copies of its newspaper. Or indeed needed as much as anyone on the planet needs Michael Gove anywhere, anytime. When push comes to shove, the Van Helsings of the Labour party in Scotland are on the side of the vampires, not the peasants. Labour is a vampire enabler. Without the threat of blood sucking Tories, Labour is pointless. The don’t want a cure for the condition that sickens the Scottish body politic. They want it to remain chronic, with frequent relapses, because then they can claim that they’re the medicine that provides temporary relief.

According to reports in the papers this week, internal polling for the Labour party in Scotland shows that support for the party has collapsed in what used to to be its traditional heartlands. A large number of former Labour supporters have switched to the Tories instead. Those would presumably be those for whom red white and bluenoses, royalty, and hating immigrants are more important than silly little things like social justice, equality, and challenging discrimination and bigotry.

But Labour has only got itself to blame for the haemorrhaging of its support to the Tories, because if it’s going to pitch itself as a Unionist party which puts the Union first and foremost then its voters who put the Union as their main priority are likely to switch to a party that’s even more hardline Unionist than Labour is. No one knows what Labour stands for except opposing the SNP, least of all Labour itself. There’s no point to the party. Except as a job creation scheme for Labour politicians. They told us to vote No in 2014 so that they could deliver social justice and pooling and sharing throughout the UK. But that proved to be a bust so now they want us to prop up Unionist parties in local authorities instead. They’re no longer that fussed about the content of the Unionism, it’s the fact that it’s Unionist that’s the only important consideration. Labour has no intention of standing up for the majority of Scots who voted to remain a part of the EU. They’d rather throw their lot in with a Tory party that’s reinvented itself as Ukip.

Unsurprisingly, the party is now making Wullie Rennie look like he’s got his finger on the popular pulse. It is polling so poorly in councils where it was formerly unchallengeable that the leadership has allegedly decided to concentrate funding for the local election campaign in those districts where there’s a chance that Labour can form a coalition with the Tories. Anything, but anything, to avoid going into coalition with the SNP and the Greens. Anything, but anything, so that they can keep warning about vampires. Labour would rather complain that the SNP government with its budget that is fixed is passing on Tory cuts to Scottish local authorities than complain about the Tory cuts. And Labour is one of the main reasons that the Scottish government’s budget is fixed in the first place and that it has no option but to pass on the cuts to its budget imposed on it by a Westminster government. That’s exactly how Labour arranged it. That’s exactly how Labour designed it.

Labour’s paying the price now for its hypocrisy and deceit. First they were defeated in Holyrood, then they were destroyed at Westminster, now they’re going to lose control of their last remaining councils. Scottish politics are a battle between the progressive social democratic and green politics of the independence movement, and the reactionary conservatism of the Union. Now Labour is reduced to pleading for the introduction of home rule and a fully autonomous Scottish branch office, all those things that they told us they’d achieved years ago. Vote Labour, vote for a lie. Vote for a promise that never fulfilled. Vote for deception, vote to bang your head against a brick wall that’s been built by company whose boss is a crony of your local Labour cooncil leader.

Labour chose the Union. They chose reaction. They chose conservatism. They chose to wave a red white and blue fleg and claim that they’re not nationalist while seeking to defend and protect one of the most viciously nationalist and xenophobic political systems in Western Europe. But you don’t stop being a nationalist just because you claim that you’re not a nationalist. You don’t become progressive just because you say you are. You have to act that way too. Labour’s actions, its repeated abstentions when it comes to protecting the poor and the vulnerable, its decision to attack Jeremy Corbyn instead of attacking the Tories when they were divided and leaderless, all prove that Labour’s unfit for purpose. Unless that purpose is keeping out of power a party with which they agree on most issues except the constitution. But the truth is that they’re not even any good at that either.

Now Labour is paying the price for the votes it borrowed, the false promises it made. The tectonic plates of Scottish politics are completing their realignment, and crushing the life out of what remains of a party that has long since lost any sense of what it stands for. You can have the Union, and the Union is a Tory creature, a xenophobic reactionary dystopia that looks out for the bosses and the rich, or you can have progressive social democratic politics which look out for the poor and the vulnerable, but you can’t have both. The people’s party chose to stand against the people. Labour chose the wrong side, and with its demise we’re one step closer to independence.

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


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

Donate Button

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


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

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

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

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

Complaining that a shark is a shark

Rejoice! Huzzah! BBC Scotland’s got a new boss. Ken MacQuarrie is off to pastures new in his new role as pantomime villain in a production of No Good Scottish News Please We’re British. Now that there’s a change of leadership there’s going to be massive changes at Pacific Quay, in exactly the same way that there are massive changes to a branch of Scotmid when it gets a new assistant manager. The tripe and offal will still be on display, they’re just going on a new shelf.

Scottish audiences consistently report the lowest level of trust in the BBC out of any of the nations of the UK. This is of course the fault of the perceptions of the Scottish audience, and has nothing at all to do with a BBC whose spending priorities mean that Scotland gets the lowest proportion of BBC spending on programme making out of any part of the UK. There’s nothing wrong with the BBC. It’s our perception of it which is at fault. The problem with the BBC isn’t that there’s a problem with the BBC. It’s that people have noticed that there’s a problem with the BBC. So that’s alright then. All that needs to be done is to strap on the red white and blue tinted spectacles and all will be well.

A national institution is failing, but it’s the nation which needs to change. We’re just looking at it squinty and we jolly well ought to stop. Sit up straight and be happy that you’re being noticed at all, Scottish people. Nicholas Witchell is coming along to drown you in royalist treacle.

The loss of Scottish confidence in the BBC most certainly, absolutely, positively has nothing at all to do with a BBC which consistently reports on Scottish politics and the largest and most vital independence movement in the UK from a decidedly British viewpoint. It’s wrong of Scottish audiences to be upset by this, but the BBC is concerned to put Scotland’s concerns to rest, and it proposes to do so by sticking its fingers in its metropolitan ears and going la-la-la Strictly Come Dancing and oh look, there’s some flour based programming which is going to replace the Great British Bake Off. Crumbs. And if we’re really lucky, we might get an edition of Question Time from that part of Dundee that voted No in the referendum. The Scottish independence referendum that is. No one who counts cares how Scotland voted in the EU one. Only those Scottish votes which please the British establishment need to be respected.

So far it seems that the BBC in Scotland is going to adopt the same strategy that the Labour party in Scotland adopted when it discovered that it was having problems finding a receptive audience. It’s going to carry on doing exactly what it did before, only more loudly, more vociferously, and with even more oppobrium being poured on the independence movement. Because that worked so well for the Labour party. They’re going to listen. They’re going to learn lessons. They’re going to engage. And then they’re going to carry on doing exactly what they were doing before. Because they’re a branch office and their bosses haven’t given them permission to change.

You see, in the view from those down in the large and important end of the BBC weather map, which is the only viewpoint that actually matters, there’s not a problem with anything that the BBC in Scotland is doing. There’s just a problem with how they explain themselves to a bunch of ingrates who have unaccountably failed to appreciate just how damn lucky they are to be a part of this United Kingdom which has been so great to those in managerial positions down at the important end of the weather map. Which is another way of saying that us Caledonian types are too thick to appreciate all the wonderful red white and blue Great Britishness that the BBC bestows on us in an effort to raise us from the swamp of primitivism to which we’d be condemned without all those edumacatit types pointing fingers at us and then screeching that they’re being oppressed when we point out their short-comings. So that augurs well for the future of broadcasting in Scotland.

But to be fair, independence supporters complaining that the BBC is a decidedly British institution which is biased against Scottish independence is a bit like complaining that a shark acts like a shark and doesn’t respect the aspirations of fish. The BBC’s job is to preach Britishness and to maintain the British state. It’s the last remaining British civilian institution after the British establishment privatised all the others so it’s got the entire responsiblity of saving the Union’s arse. The Scottish independence movement has as much chance of being fairly represented by the BBC as there is of the Tory party extolling the benefits of socialism and Adam Tomkins tweeting something that isn’t snide.

As a British institution whose goal is to promote Britishness, the BBC is genetically incapable of understanding why so many of us want to get away from being an equal partner in this most perfect union. That’s because we’ve learned from decades of BBC programming that Scotland is equal in the sense that a chair, a sofa, and a toilet are all equally things for sitting on. It’s just that only one of them is regularly crapped on.

Despite the fact that the Scottish Parliament is supposedly one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world, it doesn’t have control of broadcasting. There’s a reason for that. If the BBC really was as neutral and unbiased as we’re constantly being told it is, then there shouldn’t be any problem in devolving control of broadcasting to Holyrood and allowing Scotland to run its own neutral and unbiased public service broadcaster alongside the BBC. The same checks and balances which supposedly ensure the neutrality and lack of bias in the BBC could just as easily be applied to a public service broadcaster based in Edinburgh or Glasgow to one based in London. The fact that the Unionist parties fight tooth and nail against allowing Scotland to have what ever other self-governing devolved country or territory has – its own public service broadcaster – is because they know as well as we do that the BBC is an agent of the British state.

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


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

Donate Button

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


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

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

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

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

Having a weary Brexmess

A huge thanks to Macart for keeping you all entertained in my absence with his great blog articles. That’s me back from a trip to soon-to-be Trumpland, where the prospect of the Donaldmaggedon had got everyone I met even more depressed than a black gay muslim EU immigrant at a Ukip Christmas party. Admittedly I was in liberal New England, but for every Trump sticker or poster I saw, I saw five Hillary ones and almost as many Bernie Sanders ones. On the way there and back I had a stop over in Dublin airport, and in the space of just a few hours no less than four Irish people and a Dutch guy unprompted and unasked told me that they hoped that Scotland would vote for independence and assured me that everyone in Ireland was supporting us. Admittedly it’s hardly a representative sample of European opinion, but it was nice to feel loved and wanted. It’s all a very big contrast to what you feel being Scottish in the UK.

It was a nice wee ego boost because I’m pretty depressed myself, as depressed as an American viewing the impending car crash of a Trump unpresidency where US foreign policy will be determined on the basis of whatever it is that gets planning permission for a new hotel or golf course. I had a wonderful time with my significant other only to have to leave him and then come back to an empty bed in a cold and wet Scotland where Ruth Davidson is spouting pish about Spain maybe vetoing Scottish membership of the EU. Sigh. Some people should stick to the photo opportunities with open mouthed fish. Although she’s less likely to do that now that Michael Gove’s career is going much the same way as post-Brexit Britain.

Mind you, Ruth of all people ought to know what the Partido Popular is planning, since before the last independence referendum she was meeting with them in private in order to discuss ways of putting the hems on Scottish ambitions. There’s a word for people who conspire with foreign forces in order to damage the interests of their own country, and it’s not a pretty word, but then Ruth’s party isn’t a pretty party. However even Ruthie should know that the supposed Spanish veto threat has been done to death and beaten over the head with a battered merluz and then diced up, fried and served up with a side order of humble pie, but mere facts won’t stop a Tory politician with a Union to save. Especially when it’s a Union that the Tories themselves have broken.

But for the benefit of Ruth, I’ll spell it out as simply as possible so that it can even be understood by someone sitting atop a tank. If Spain vetoes Scottish membership of the EU, after Scotland achieves independence having negotiated it with Westminster, Madrid will not discourage the aspirations of the Catalans. Madrid will instead destroy its own argument against Barcelona. Because Madrid’s argument against Catalonia rests upon constitutionality and the claim that a Catalan referendum and independence is contrary to the Spanish constitution. If Madrid were to veto Scotland “just because”, it would not discourage the Catalans. It would merely give the Catalans evidence that Madrid’s claim that it opposes moves towards Catalan independence because they’re unconstitutional are simply a convenient excuse. And that would give the Catalans the justification that they require in order to internationalise their dispute with la Moncloa (the seat of the Spanish government).

What’s going to happen in what seems to be the increasingly inevitable event of Scottish independence is that the morning after a Yes vote in a Scottish indyref2, the Spanish government will announce that it has said all along that Scotland’s circumstances and Catalonia’s circumstances are completely different from one another and Scotland’s vote has no bearing on what happens in Spain.

What is making Scottish independence ever more inevitable is the behaviour of the British government. While I was away we discovered that Theresa May is indeed capable of giving careful consideration to things within an incredibly short measurement of time. That’s a nanosecond, which is somewhat longer than the amount of time that passes between Boris Johnson’s gaffes. You might have imagined that with the long delays in Theresa giving any information on what her plan for Brexit might consist of, that she needs months and months in order to consider the implications of important decisions and takes forever to process all the relevant facts. But no. Theresa has actually got more processing power than a Samsung Galaxy Note7, and is equally prone to self-combusting. Having promised that she’d give careful consideration to the proposals of the Scottish government to find some means of reconciling Scottish membership of the UK with Scotland’s vote to remain a part of the EU, Theresa sat down, carefully considered it, and then within a Boris gaffe’s worth of time announced that she’d given it all the consideration it required, which was none at all.

If the British government had a milligramme of commonsense, it would grasp at the proposals from the Scottish government like a drowning man grabs a lifeline. But it doesn’t have a milligramme of commonsense because milligrammes are an unBritish European unit of measurement and we’ll be having none of that nonsense in a red white and blue Brexit. Knee-jerk opposition to anything that comes from Holyrood is the default position of the British government. Scotland is a part of a Union which it doesn’t get any say in determining, which is increasingly indistinguishable from being a colony.

Accepting the proposals of the Scottish government would mean that Theresa May could stop calls for a second indyref and then blame any failure for the plans to be realised on Brussels, by which time Scotland along with the rest of the UK would be outside the EU. Instead she decided to reject them out of hand, demonstrating that Scotland’s supposed position as an equal partner in this most perfect United Kingdom is as mythical as Ruth Davidson’s reputation as a political giant or Michael Gove’s ability to drink a glass of water without looking like a malfunctioning host from Westworld. All of which has only made a second independence referendum far more likely than it was a week or so ago. The rejection from May, that is. It’s nothing new that Michael Gove acts like a malfunctioning android, although one with considerably less processing power than a Galaxy Note7.

So here we are, going into 2017 with a UK government that’s even less competent than the previous one, something which no one who had ever so much as glanced upon David Cameron could ever have thought possible. But it’s equally recalcitrant, equally arrogant, and equally dismissive of Scottish aspirations. Their weary Brexmess is the best Christmas present the Scottish independence movement could ever have wished for.

We’ve got work to do, to take the existing support for Scottish independence and turn it into a substantial majority. 2016 will go down in history as the year that the union was broken, 2017 will be the year that Scottish independence became the will of the majority of the people of Scotland.

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


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

Donate Button

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


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

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

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

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

It’s good to talk

A guest post by Samuel Miller

When I sat down to have my final rant before our host gets back, I had this idea of highlighting and talking about of the latest dubious Labour and Conservative press releases on the Scottish budget. Y’know, the ones  where they claim that the Scottish Government has ripped £327 million away from local authorities and that a tax freeze has magically morphed into a tax hike, but I’m not going to do that. I’ll do exactly as I said I would in my last post and let the experts handle that one.

You see, when I sat down and started gathering the usual quotes and links and such, I started laughing. Couldn’t stop really. I simply marveled at the acres of hypocritical bullshittery a few simple clicks of your average pad or mouse could bring to your view. How impossible it is for the establishment parties to hide the latest policy reversal or a gaff in today’s modern communications and media environment.

The most prominent recent example of course, is the sheer acreage of column space devoted to the selling point of the ‘most powerful devolved parliament in the world’. A parly with the most sooperdooper raft of powers to fix everything from that annoying leak under your sink to the total reversal of Tory austerity policy and the economic omnishambles that is Brexitmageddon. Yet only recently we’ve been told by Labour in Scotland that what is really, really, really required is a really, real move toward a federal UK…REALLY!

We’re also well aware by this point of Mr Mundell’s often quoted sound bite on our current devolution settlement.  “As a result, the Scottish Parliament will become one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world.” David Mundell MP

Zattafac Mac? How does that statement measure up in practice when the constitutional and economic poop hits the fan, as it has over Brexit? Does the Scottish electorate have a powerful parly, which is regarded as an equal, valued and respected partner?

Not according to the case put forward by Lord Keen on behalf of the Westminster government in the Supreme Court just recently. He appeared quite certain of just what constitutional status and powers Scotland has within the better togetherest union in the history of unions. According to Mr Keen the Sewel convention is a mere serving suggestion and the Royal prerogative trumps any and all notion that the people of Scotland or their parly have a say in much of anything.

Or perhaps we could ask their gaffer, Prime Minister May and ask what she thinks about Scotland’s parliament, its powers, how its opinion may be regarded over important constitutional issues: “Because we voted in the referendum as one United Kingdom, we will negotiate as one United Kingdom, and we will leave the European Union as one United Kingdom.  There is no opt-out from Brexit.  And I will never allow divisive nationalists to undermine the precious Union between the four nations of our United Kingdom.” (‘divisive nationalists’ – EPIC LOL)

Maybe not, eh? Best leave it lie.

As I say, a few clicks and you are deluged by a flood of contradictory, misleading and oft times, just plain deliberately confusing bumf. So what powers do we have? Is there a line in the sand? Is the settlement THE settlement, or isn’t it? Is our parliament powerful and near autonomous in a union of equals, or powerless and requiring more powers to become more, but still not quite, equal? Not a week goes by without a U-turn (partial or full fat), a flip or a comical attempt to square a circle and shoe horn one ill-fitting narrative onto another. If you didn’t laugh at the day-to-day of ‘politics as it is practised’ you’d burst into tears of frustration.

Just to be absolutely clear though, a quick recap of the general thrust. We have the most powerful devolved parliament in the world, which is part of the oldest, most successful political union and ‘family’ of nations ever. Righto then.

It may be helpful however, if someone in heid office W1 could please explain a few things, because the mixed messages we’re getting from your branch offices and the meeja aren’t terribly clear. Ta much.

Whilst they’re at it, if we are an equal nation partner, maybe they could clear up just why a nation doesn’t get to freely set its own fiscal policy in its entirety, have its own broadcast media, choose its own foreign policy? Why can’t it freely decide which unions and treaties it prefers to keep, or how they choose to keep and honour those treaties? ‘Cause, y’know, that’s what an empowered parliament, an empowered government and an empowered people get to do. I mean we saw only recently (see under EU referendum), a parliament freely decide to hold a referendum on significant constitutional change and I don’t recall them asking the EU for special permission. Just a thought.

Common sense should at this point tell the reader exactly just how ’empowered’ Holyrood really is. In the face of the constitutional and economic challenges thrown up by the political upheavals of 2016, it appears oor parly is perhaps looking decidedly under powered and constrained at this point. The queries above are rhetorical to be fair, for the answers are out there and easily accessible to all.

That is the power of modern communication though, isn’t it?  It’s why people don’t have to simply take for granted an unquestioned narrative spoon fed to them through, let’s face it, a fairly corporately and politically invested mainstream media anymore. When a story appears, a world of knowledge is merely a click or two away. The basis for a story can be examined, along with facts, figures, context, extenuating circumstances and either confirmed or ruled out. A policy wonk’s nightmare.

There is of course another aspect of modern communication which is particularly unhelpful to those and such as those. Near instant communication between people.

In other words, you lot being chatty!

You and how you communicate with others make the real difference. Access to a library of facts and opinion coupled with an active and engaged population who can instantly disseminate what they find in equally rapid fashion. Indeed it’s not uncommon these days to find stories can literally be verified or debunked before the ink is dry on the hard copy publication. You can chat across the interwebby, social meeja, yer soopersmertphone thingies in a heartbeat. You even discovered that it was possible to come together and create a new media which reflects your opinion and gives you access to the wealth of expertise, talent and life experience of others.

Who knew that people being curious, interested and engaged could effect so much change? People willing to reach out, sharing ideas and opinion… talking.

Amazing really.

As I said above, this will be my last post before our host returns. I’d like to take the opportunity to thank readers for their visits and their kind comments. I’d also like to take the opportunity to wish everyone the very best for the festive period. A Merry Christmas and Happy New year one and all.

Another day at the office

A guest post by Samuel Miller

Look, I know some readers may want to hear some hugely technical and in-depth feedback on yesterday’s budget, but that’s not really going to happen m’kay? Seein’ as how I am to budgets, what Shrek is to ballet, I reckon its best to leave that one to the experts. However, I can sum up the proceedings in short order and NO, you don’t need a master’s degree in economics to follow what happened.

The SNP government did what they pretty much said they were going to do in their manifesto with the higher rate, which was…wait for it… nothing.

“We will not implement the tax cut proposed by the Tories through the increase in the Higher Rate threshold. Instead, we will freeze the Higher Rate threshold in real terms in 2017/18 and increase it by a maximum of inflation until 2021/22. We will set out the exact level of the Higher Rate threshold each year in the budget process.” SNP 2016 Manifesto

Freezing a tax IS NOT hiking a tax. That of course hasn’t stopped the Conservative party from trying to sell it as such, but then this is a party not terribly well-known for its honesty at best of times. Oh, and sections of oor meeja haven’t covered themselves in glory on that point either.

Ruth Davidson apparently had the mother and father of all car crash FMQs with an embarrassment factor which may have reached all the way up to toe curling (ooft!). Finally, this from Reform Scotland who put it far more succinctly and with less swerry wurds than I would:

‘BACKGROUND… on tax
The Scotland Act 2012 devolved 10p of income tax across all bands to the Scottish Parliament (the Scottish Rate of Income Tax). This comes into effect from 2016/17. The proposed Scotland Bill 2015/16 will devolve the rest of income tax to Scotland, in addition to Air Passenger Duty and Aggregates Levy (we have not included any assigned revenue from VAT as control over the tax has not been devolved).

However, despite this, the Scottish Parliament will control less than 30% of all tax income raised in Scotland.

More importantly, 71% of all tax revenue raised by the Scottish Parliament will come from a single source – Income Tax.

Reform Scotland believes that with tax income so overly reliant on a single tax, it is likely to be impossible to introduce coherent tax reform that would encourage economic growth. It is a blunt tool, and therefore further devolution is required.’

In short, why would the Scottish Government fall into the ridiculous tax bear trap laid out by a Tory government in the Scotland Bill settlement? Why would a Scottish Government pass on the effects of austerity ideology and the Brexit galactostooshie brought about by the actions of successive UK governments, unless and until it had absolutely no other options to hand? Why should the Scottish electorate constantly pay for the screw ups of central government and why oh why should the devolved government in Holyrood constantly have to mitigate and offset? Because Ruth and Kezia say so? Is that it?

So much for the current Conservative and Labour meme of ‘no more excuses’. I’d like to know what Ruth and Kezia’s excuse is for constantly demanding that their own electorate pay for their head office’s lemming like predilection for clown footed political and economic idiocy? Would make for an interesting read. ‘Most powerful devolved parliament in the world’…..(mutters)

Moving on…

It’s always what’s not reported well by the press which may have the biggest impact isn’t it? Take the other day for example. It turns out that Scotland’s former First Minister, Alicsammin (TM), had a short meeting with one Jean-Claude Junker, President of the European Commission. That would be the commission which has just been put in charge of Brexit talks I believe. This of course, was prior to a function where Mr Salmond received the inaugural Mauritis Coppieters award for services to Scotland in Europe. In fact, as far as I know, only one title saw fit to make the event front page news.

A direct quote from Mr Junker: “Scotland has earned the right to be heard and listened to”

Now bearing in mind both the EU’s stance on pre negotiation over Brexit and the UK government’s stance on Scotland, devolution, Brexit consultation and pretty much everything else? I’m sure the reader can reach their own conclusions on what that may mean. It’s also worth noting that on the world stage, words by ‘serious’ senior political figures are chosen very, very carefully indeed.

The award ceremony speech didn’t miss an’ hit the wa’ either and if the reader has a moment to spare, it’s perhaps worth listening to what Mr Salmond had to say:

HERE

Remember those heady days when some folks guffawed at the very idea of Scottish Government visitations to the various EU bodies post Brexit vote? Aye, they thought that meeting officials on varying panels and committees was quite the laugh. I mean it’s not as if they were heads of state or anything, right? In fact, remember those now far off indyref days where policy wonks and meeja metro types queued up to spin anything and everything uttered by an EU official into an indy bad article? AND NOW?

Near deafening silence.

Perhaps, just perhaps, those efforts by the current Scottish Government on our behalf weren’t wasted after all?

Hunting season

A guest post by Samuel Miller

A few questions on a disturbing phenomenon which only the reader can answer in the privacy of their own thoughts.

How has it come to this? What curse do ordinary people live under that we have to put up with the metric tonnes of what seems to be utter bullshit, fed to us by toxic politics and an ever more toxic media?

When did it become acceptable to hound and hunt people as a political strategy? To ‘claim scalps’ (is that the term?), make their lives and by extension ours, a living nightmare of sound bite statements, cherry picked factoids, half-truths, manipulation and misdirection?

When did we allow politicians and the media to talk to us in the way that they do? Is it possible we became so lazy, so apathetic, so disenfranchised that we allowed others to do our thinking for us? To make decisions for us? And when things go wrong, or even when they haven’t, to tell us who to blame?

That does make it easier though, doesn’t it? Having a finger pointed for us so that we know who to hate, or punish. Takes away that whole responsibility for individual thought thing. Worse, or perhaps better depending on your point of view, it takes away the public’s collective responsibility. Makes us feel a bit better about hating the stranger, the other tribe, the benefit scrounger, the immigrant, the furriner, the sweaty whinger in Holyrood.

I’m sure most readers of this site are only too familiar with media campaign rhetoric generated in last year’s general election. Who could forget ‘Tartan Stalinists’, ‘What a McMess’ or ‘The most dangerous woman in Britain’? Clearly we all identify with Stalinism, dangerous wummin and political carnage in Scotland (sigh). My own personal favourite and possibly the most classic/infamous example of media and political attempts to influence opinion (which happily went totally south), remains ‘Frenchgate’.

I mean, if you’re struggling for examples of the phenomenon, simply Google this: ‘Sturgeon slapped down’ (kicked, hammered, blasted works equally well), or perhaps this ‘Fury over SNP’, or simply even ‘Salmond’ (pretty much anything Salmond). If you really want to have sleepless nights, try these – Benefits Scrounger or Hard on Immigration.

As a more recent example – Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf’s current political and media woes, are apparently the latest in a very long and very tiresome line of such antics. Again, a simple search for Mr Yousaf under ‘News’ (steady now), and the blaring headlines which will greet your search, will tell you all you need to know about the sheer amount of column space which can be dedicated to a subject when both political opponents and the meeja get the bit between their teeth. Fair enough as far as it goes. He is, after all, a public figure in a position of responsibility.

To be honest, I have no idea about rail services in the Uk today and its been a long time since I’ve used them t’boot. It may even be the case that some criticism is warranted (shrugs), but blanket coverage for weeks on end? Seriously? Has the entire structure of Scotland’s rail network collapsed? From the coverage given you’d think so. I can however confirm (by looking oot the windae), that no major extinction level meteors have struck Scotland in, ooooh, at least the past several months and that our transport infrastructure still appears reasonably intact.

If I were the average reader at this point, or perhaps a journalist (shudders), I’d maybe research an expert or two and ascertain their opinion. If I were interested enough that is. Also as an engaged reader, and in absence of such information, I’d maybe cast my eyes about for other stories on the subject matter to try to provide some comparison, perspective, context or balance.

For instance, I hear that rail services in England are currently having their own woes and yet I see a somewhat skewed percentage of titles being hyper critical of PM May’s Transport Minister, Chris Grayling. That’s pretty much a ‘red flag’ moment right there you’d think?

It appears however, that some in the new media arena are willing to ask the questions we should all be seeking answers to and even provide some of that sourced evidence stuff. Which seems to me, to be a fairly sensible and logical way to go about things and how perhaps this whole informing and enlightening the public should work.

Back to the general thrust of the subject in hand though. Another question or two may occur to the reader at this point. Just how many scalps have been gathered and how many careers have been made or ruined on the back of this fairly savage political and media environment over the years? How many justly and more importantly, how many needlessly? Quite scary stuff really, when you do start to think about it.

Before the finger-pointing, before the hounding, before calling for resignations, there should be the questions. There should be critical analysis and there should be a weighing of evidence gathered. It should be a lorry load of information with context and possible extenuating circumstances present and/or accounted for. It should be innocent till proven guilty. It should be,…but apparently it’s not.

If you were a bit leery of some folks motives in the meeja, and it’s a safe bet that supporters of an independent Scottish parliament have some reason to be, you could say it’s perhaps needlessly inflammatory headlines. It’s the barely and oft-times, completely unsubstantiated sound bite (see under Frenchgate). It’s politics and it’s agenda. It’s innuendo and character assassination. It’s calculation and strategy. It’s the self-interested and deliberate directing and management of public opinion. If you were leery like.

More depressingly though, it’s seems to be always hunting season. There is always some scalp that someone wants for whatever reason and whatever the cost.

A never-ending hunting season where political and vested media interest do the hunting and the public are perennially used as their hounds.

You can start having those private thoughts now.

A matter of pride

A guest post by Samuel Miller

I see both Mr Brown and Mr Darling have endorsed Kezia Dugdale’s musings on a constitutional convention and a call for movement toward some ambiguous form of federalism then. This in spite of the fact that the recent government submission in the Supreme Court kinda casts our ‘devolution journey’ and our political relationship within the union in an entirely different light. We’ve covered why we think that may have not been the best timed intervention on the subject of devolution previously, so we’ll leave that aspect where it lies shall we?

Still, some of Ms Dugdales comments did have one or two laugh/cry out loud lines worth mentioning and considering a little further.

“More than two years on, those of us who fought for the UK shouldn’t be embarrassed about winning – we should be proud.” Kezia Dugdale (Fair enough)

There were of course other classic gems by Ms Dugdale such as this beaut: “I was proud because it was a Labour argument I was making.” That would be a Labour argument enhanced by a Conservative/Libdem government, enabled by a somewhat helpful amount of Westminster machinery, promoted with only the bestest astroturf window dressing money could buy (or bus in) and megaphoned the length and breadth of the UK by an extremely helpful mainstream media. Righto then.

Or this:

The UK provides the redistribution of wealth that defines our entire Labour movement and it provides the protection  for public finance in Scotland that comes from being part of something larger.”

Redistribution of wealth ye say? Jings! And don’t get me started on ‘protection for public finance’ after the detriment/no detriment fiasco that came with the Scotland Bill settlement and several successive and catastrophic austerity driven budgets. Oh and whisper it quietly… Brexit and fiscal reset. (shudders)

“Something good. Something worth fighting for.”  (NOW THAT really is purely in the eye of the beholder at this point)

Still and all, its nice of Ms Dugdale to note that the UK togetherness she campaigned for, including the Scotland Bill settlement, which she has just generously declared proud part ownership for (she’s still proud of winning right?), isn’t apparently settled at all. Who knew?

One wee questionette. Just for the sake of clarity, are we now to believe that we don’t have the most powerful devolved parly in the world and that the ‘VOW delivered’ isn’t really fit for purpose? Surely not, I hear you say. (cough)

But that’s enough laughs for one post I think.

Firstly, let me be perfectly clear that those ordinary folks who campaigned for and those who simply voted for, a no vote in 2014 should not be ’embarrassed’ about participating in such a historic ballot. In our politics, as in anything else, we can disagree, we can argue, we can hold a massive diversity of varying viewpoints and then we can make a choice. This IS a democracy and freedom of choice is an inalienable right of our electorate. NOTHING is more precious than having and enjoying the freedom to choose. We are also however, by the same token of such rights and freedoms, free to change our minds as and when new information is made available, or events dictate or necessitate a change in our viewpoint.

Sometimes when we make the big choices we get lucky and things work out for the best. Sometimes however, that choice carries unfortunate consequences we did not foresee and/or we may come to regret. Sometimes our choices are misinformed, or coloured by poor or misleading information. Information from people or institutions we may, upon a time, have held in some regard or with a degree of trust. For those who feel the period since September 2014 hasn’t gone swimmingly, or that the promised Betterthegitherland hasn’t exactly turned out as billed? Well that would be one of those times where the aforementioned rights and freedoms come in handy. As for being embarrassed about winning? I don’t think embarrassment is exactly what some voters may be feeling about now.

2016 anyone?

Now we come to those who should be embarrassed at the nature of their ‘win’. No, scratch that. We’re going beyond embarrassed to utterly bloody ashamed of themselves. Had they any empathy or sense of conscience, they’d be walking around the centre of every city, every town, every village in Scotland wearing sack cloth and ashes begging forgiveness of ALL Scotland’s electorate.

We speak, of course, of the orchestrators of the Better Together campaign, the leaders and politicians of the affiliated political parties, their heid office counterparts in Westminster and the massed weight of the UK meeja.

The propaganda war they waged in Scotland during the independence referendum of 2014 was beyond appalling. In my view it was reckless, dangerous and shameful in the extreme. I’d say the narrative they unleashed and indeed which continues in use to this very day, didn’t just divide people politically, but appeared fully intended to divide a society/vote in any way that would protect the integrity of the system of government and party affiliations they served.

In the post indyref period, the infamous Project Fear has been well dissected, discussed, documented and now, ghoulishly, emulated  as a political strategy. Even during the referendum it came under fire as being deliberately one of the most negative, divisive and harmful campaign strategies ever conceived. So, embarrassed? I don’t think that word covers what those responsible should be feeling. The truly sad part is, they’re not. Not in the slightest. As professional sharks in suits, they probably are quite proud of what they achieved. The collateral societal damage? A mere bagatelle, I think you’ll find. After all, a win IS a win, yes?

These… individuals… (Look I’m struggling to be diplomatic, RIGHT?) took what should have been a people’s referendum and turned it into a party political beauty contest. They personalised our referendum and made the primary focus of their whole sorry strategy the demonization of the SNP government and Alex Salmond in particular. What those people went through and indeed continue to go through, at the hands of establishment parties and the media? No one should. As for tarred by association? The entire YES movement was subjected to that treatment. We were supposed to feel what? Guilt and shame for supporting the principles self-determination, independence, choice?

I don’t bloody think so! Not now and not ever!

The positivity and enthusiasm of the grassroots YES movement, then as now, is a source of pride as far as I’m concerned. The passion, the humour, the sense of inclusion and family (always looking to get bigger). It’s all still there y’know. There may be a few sad memories and some hard lessons learnt from the past two years, but still and all their continued engagement is nothing short of amazing and surely, SURELY to be applauded.

In the main, the electorate of Scotland should not be embarrassed in the slightest. No, that embarrassment, that shame lies elsewhere. In terms of participation and voter turnout, no more could be asked of the electorate. For that alone, the vast majority of voters on BOTH sides of the debate should be rightly and immensely proud.

Long may that level of engagement continue. I suspect its going to be needed.