We won’t be trapped in the shortbread tin

shortbreadtin
Well you didn’t need to be Nostradamus to see that one coming. A month on from Nicola Sturgeon’s letter to him, Boris Johnson has finally been arsed to reply to the First Minister’s demand for a Section 30 order for another independence referendum and for the necessary powers to be transferred to Holyrood permanently. As everyone, their granny, and their granny’s cat knew he was going to, he said no. Scotland had its democracy in 2014.

Johnson cited what he described as Nicola Sturgeon’s and Alex Salmond’s “personal promise” in 2014 that the referendum that year was a once in a generation vote. He lied. It wasn’t a personal promise, it was an observation and they made it clear that it was their personal opinion and not a binding commitment. Neither Alex Salmond nor Nicola Sturgeon ever said that they swore a solemn vow to the people of Scotland that there would be no more referendums for a generation. In December last year, Boris Johnson himself described that month’s election as a “critical once in a generation election”. Does that mean that there are to be no more elections in the UK? The way this British Government’s contempt for democracy is going, I wouldn’t put it past them.

But even if it was a promise, Johnson has some nerve in citing the “personal promises” of other politicians. This is a man who is a serial liar, a cheat, a charlatan. A man who has deceived everyone he’s ever met and who lies at every opportunity. This is a man who gave a promise that he’d die in a ditch if the UK didn’t leave the EU last year. Last anyone saw he was not dead in a ditch, although to be fair what was left of his reputation for honesty died in a ditch many years ago. And here he is, demanding that Nicola Sturgeon be held to a standard that he himself refuses to come within a thousand light years of. There’s the moral high ground, and then there’s Boris Johnson chuntering away in the bowels of the earth.

It’s Boris Johnson’s party which has contravened a direct promise made to the people of Scotland. It’s Boris Johnson’s party which has traduced the result of the 2014 referendum. The reality that the Conservatives refuse to acknowledge is that if they had fulfilled all the promises and commitments that they made in 2014 in order to win the referendum we wouldn’t be here now with the SNP receiving their fourth mandate for another referendum. The Tories promised that Scotland would be an equal partner in a family of nations, that Scotland should lead the UK not leave it. That was a lie. They promised that the only way to remain within the EU was to vote against independence. That was a lie. They promised that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would never be altered against the will of Holyrood. That was a lie. And in the Smith Commission they promised that there was nothing in the post referendum agreement which prevented the people of Scotland from revisiting the question of independence in the future. That was a lie.

In his letter, Johnson said that his government would ” continue to uphold the democratic decision of the Scottish people” in 2014. But they’re not going to uphold any of the democratic decisions that the Scottish people have made since 2016. They’re not going to uphold any of the three electoral mandates or the Holyrood mandate that the people of Scotland have given the Scottish Government for another referendum. They’re not going to uphold the democratic decision of the people of Scotland to remain a part of the EU. For this British Government, Scottish democracy was a one off event in 2014 where the people of Scotland surrendered all and any right to ever have any sort of say over the future of Scotland forever.

There was no case for Scotland remaining in the UK made in Johnson’s short letter. There was only his refusal to acknowledge Scotland’s vote in the General Election and a party political yah boo sucks point about Scottish public services – although of course he didn’t note that these are performing better than those his own administration manages in England. There was nothing in the letter which reassured or persuaded the people of Scotland that we’re better off in Johnson’s UK. This was the curt letter of a man who has nothing but contempt for Scotland and disdain for those he believes to be beneath him. This was the letter of a man who has no intention of persuading, cajoling, or pleading with Scotland, a man who has no intention of making any accommodations for Scotland. This was the letter of a man who believes that Scotland should be contained. Shut up Scotland, get back in your box. Your betters have spoken.

Johnson’s cavalier dismissal of any manifestation of Scottish democracy that he doesn’t agree with will only play into the hands of the independence movement in the longer term. All that he has done is to confirm the fears of wavering voters in Scotland that the British Government is indeed not prepared to make any compromises with Scotland in order to recognise the strong remain vote in this country. Scotland will get the hard Brexit that Boris Johnson decides, and it will have no influence in determining the shape of Brexit or ability to ameliorate its effects. Johnson has confirmed that the UK is not a partnership of nations, because the democratic will of Scotland will always be overriden by a mandate derived from the vote in England. He has confirmed that there is no place in this supposedly most successful union ever for a distinctively Scottish viewpoint. That’s the question that those who oppose independence need to answer now, if there is no place within the UK for Scotland’s distinctive politics, then what is the point of the UK for Scotland?

This is more than a matter of democratic principle. It’s a matter of democracy itself. Anyone in the rest of the UK, and opponents of independence within Scotland, have a moral obligation to speak out against Boris Johnson’s casual dismissal of the result of the General Election in Scotland. In December 2019 the people of Scotland gave the SNP a clear and unarguable mandate for another referendum under the same rules that give Johnson a mandate for Brexit. If the legitimacy of Johnson’s British government is to be accepted, so much the legitimacy of the mandate for another referendum in Scotland. You don’t get to apply a different set of electoral rules in Scotland from the rest of the UK. The Labour party and the Lib Dems – we’re looking at you.

There’s to be another vote in Holyrood on an independence referendum later this month. That will be mandate number five. At that time the Scottish Government will also set out its detailed response and say what next steps it’s going to take. For weeks and months now, independence supporters in Scotland have speculated about how Nicola Sturgeon would respond to a refusal from Boris Johnson to agree to another independence referendum. As she noted in her immediate reaction to the decision today, she saw this coming. So we’re about to find out how she’s going to respond. What we can be certain of however, is that she’s not going to respond to Johnson’s arrogance by simply saying “Oh that’s OK then” and locking Scotland back into the British nationalist shortbread tin.

Boris Johnson will regret his letter. This country will not be held hostage to the vanity and ego of an Etonian who fears the voice of Scotland. His position is unsustainable and ultimately self-defeating. One way or another the people of Scotland will have their say. Because of Johnson’s arrogance, the eventual independence of Scotland became yet more certain today. We have a choice between a flourishing Scottish democracy with independence, or a British Government which locks Scottish democracy away never to be used again. Johnson’s nawbaggery will not stand. It’s time for the gloves to come off.

James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop has started a crowdfunder to raise the money to commission a poll on Scottish independence.  As he points out it’s very odd that there has been no full scale poll of Scottish opinion on independence since the General Election, despite indications that the victory of Boris Johnson in the rest of the UK and SNP landslide in Scotland has produced a surge in support for independence.  The crowdfunder page is here, please consider supporting it.

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-scot-goes-pop-commission-an-indy-poll


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

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The wicked word

patronage
Almost eight years ago the then Tory MP Zac Goldsmith tweeted about Nick Clegg’s proposals to reform the House of Lords saying, “Seedy lists of party apparatchiks appointed by power hungry party leaders & insulated from any democratic pressure for 15 yrs? No thanks.”

Zac, who’s an Etonian posho pal of that other Etonian posho Boris Johnson, was appointed as Secretary of State for the Environment after the fnaughing one won the Conservative party leadership. The Brexit supporting Zac contested his heavily remain voting seat of Richmond Park in December’s general election, and got his jotters from his constituents, voted Zac out and replaced him with the Lib Dem candidate. His rejection by the voters in what was a rare example of the Lib Dems taking a seat off the Tories might not be unconnected to the racist campaign that he led when he was standing as candidate for the London Mayor’s office.

However Zac is still Secretary of State for the Environment, because he’s got over his aversion to seedy lists of party apparatchiks being appointed by a power hungry leader and insulated from democratic pressure. Perhaps that’s because Zac will be insulated from any democratic pressure for the rest of his life. He’s been given a peerage by Boris Johnson for services to losing formerly safe seats and will continue exactly as he did before, attending cabinet meetings, making laws and policy, and influencing the lives of the people of Richmond Park and everyone else even though he was booted out of office.

Funny how Brexiteers bewailed the unfairness of the UK being subject to the decisions of unelected Brussels bureaucrats who could be booted out of office by MEPs that the UK got to elect as well as voters in the other EU states, but they’re quite happy to be ruled by unelected pals of Boris Johnson who can’t be booted out ever and who get rewarded with political immunity after the electorate has voted them out of office. This would be that same Zac Goldsmith who in 2016 explained his objection to the EU saying, “I just believe that the people who make decisions on our behalf should be people who can be fired if they get it wrong.” Except that is when the person making decisions on our behalf is Zac Goldsmith.

In 2018, the Brexit loving Zac was quoted as saying, “The EU is an arrogant, rotten bureaucracy that views democracy as an inconvenience.” Zac, or Lord Goldsmith the Seedy Apparatchik to use his new title, is opposed to the unelected bureaucrats of Brussels, but the unelected posh boys of Westminster? That will do nicely. Here’s my expenses form, I claim my £300 a day plus my salary as a cabinet minister. Ker-ching.

You’d almost think that Zac has become an arrogant rotten bureaucrat who views democracy as an inconvenience. All that respecting the democratic decision of the people doesn’t apply when the careers of posh Conservatives are at stake, although everyone in Scotland who voted SNP already realised that particular point. Anyway now, just as an aside, you also have the answer to the enquiry, “Hey Google, show me the most egregious example of rank hypocrisy.”

Likewise the former Tory cabinet minister and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Nicky Morgan has managed to forget that she used to be opposed to a Boris Johnson leadership and to Brexit. It’s quite amazing how the prospect of donning an ermine robe can cause all the symptoms of amnesia. Although you only have to gaze upon the green benches of the House of Lords for five minutes not to be remotely surprised by just how amnesiac they all are.

Nicky, or Lady Morgan of Eh? Oh … Em.. It’s On The Tip Of My Tongue, as we must now call her, has been accused by some of resiling on her previous principles. Not that long ago Nicky said that Boris Johnson used deliberately incendiary language, and refused to consider serving in any government led by him. She forgot about that too.

However it is unfair to accuse Nicky of going back on her principles, because that would imply that she had some to begin with. She’s now able to continue in her job despite announcing prior to the General Election that she was standing down as an MP in order to spend more time with her family, although she spent a few minutes with them and then forgot that she wanted to spend more time with them. She was also able to spend the £8400 leaving bonus given to all retiring MPs. She’s not forgotten about that, but she’s not giving it back, by the way. If you’re surprised by that you’d probably also be surprised by the revelation that Boris Johnson is a liar.

But of course those of us who are keen students of Scottish political history will know that we’ve been here before. As this blog has pointed out before, in 1997 Michael Forsyth led the Conservative party in Scotland to its worst electoral defeat ever. Michael was so inept, so arrogantly clueless, so repugnant to the sensibilities of the Scottish electorate that in that year’s General Election the people of Scotland gazed upon Michael Forsyth, the Scottish Conservative manifesto, and the Scottish Conservative party and said we don’t want you Michael, we don’t like your manifesto, and we don’t like your party. That year the Tories lost every single seat they had in Scotland. It was glorious. But not for Michael.

In any normal functioning democracy, or indeed professional career, that would have been the last we’d have heard of Michael Forsyth. His failure was of such a magnitude that if he’d been a teacher he’d have been subject to a restraining order banning him from approaching within 100 metres of any education establishment. If he’d been a doctor he’d have been struck off and banned from buying a packet of paracetamol from Boots. But Michael is a Tory politician, so he got a peerage and was given a seat in the Lords where he still, to this very day, casts a baneful influence over the laws and policies that affect Scotland. He’s one of those unelected and unaccountable Tory politicians who wants Brexit because he says Brussels can’t be held to account. In Michael’s, Zac’s, and Nicky’s world, it’s only Conservatives who have the absolute right never to be held to account.

We don’t live in a normal functioning democracy. We live in the UK. We live in a state where the ruling party is quite happy to ignore the democratic will of the people of Scotland, and to overrule any constituency electorate which has the gall to reject one of the Conservatives’ own. This is a failing state that rewards failure, as long as the failures are Conservative failures. The American President Dwight D Eisenhower said that patronage was a wicked word which could defeat democracy. In the UK it already has.

There’s only one way in which the people of Scotland can ensure that our political class is accountable, and that’s in an independent Scotland with a written constitution. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth saying again. We need independence so that we can keep our politicians close to us, so that their arses are always within kicking distance of our feet.


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


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

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Alister Jack has killed Scottish unionism

unionismrip
The monkey has spoken, although we are still waiting for the organ grinder. Even though Boris Johnson has still not been bothered to reply to the Scottish Government’s demand for a Section 30 order transferring the power to hold independence referendums permanently to the Scottish Parliament, Alister Jack has squeaked up in return for being tossed a peanut in the shape of an interview on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics Show. His boss has far more important things to be getting on with, like recovering from his holiday in Mustique, and avoiding going to the House of Commons to speak about the Iran crisis.

Alister took to the airwaves to announce to Gordon Brewer that there will be no second independence referendum within the lifetime of Nicola Sturgeon. Alister has reinterpreted the definition of generation to mean the lifetime of anyone alive today. We’ve all heard the expression “over my dead body”, but when as Alister just did and said “over your dead body” then that can only be interpreted as a threat. “Over Your Dead Body” is in fact the title of a Japanese horror movie based on a kabuki play in which the leading player uses their influence to get a major part in a drama for a friend even though the role is way beyond his limited capabilities. It all ends very badly and does not go at all as the white faced protagonists intended it. So it’s an allegory for the story of Boris and Alister then.

Not until you’re all dead is a very strange definition of respecting the right of the people of Scotland to choose the form of government best suited to their needs. What Alister is really saying is that he doesn’t think that he should ever have to face another independence referendum at any point during his own lifetime, and then he had the audacity to claim that the Conservatives have a mandate for this strangulation of democracy.

Alister claimed that this imaginary mandate is based upon the Edinburgh Agreement, where it seems that there’s a paragraph written in invisible ink that says that if Scotland voted no then it’s up to the Tories to decide when there can be another referendum. It’s either that or Alister is frantically reaching for a straw to clutch at. Only in his case it’s an invisible imaginary straw that doesn’t actually exist. There is absolutely nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement which puts any limits on when there can be another independence referendum. All it says is that both parties agree to respect the result of the referendum. It says absolutely nothing at all about Scotland not being allowed another referendum even if the winning side doesn’t fulfil the promises and commitments it made to the people of Scotland in order to get the winning result.

The exact wording in the Edinburgh Agreement is as follows. It was agreed that the Scottish Government and the UK government agree that the independence referendum should “deliver a fair test and a decisive expression of the views of people in Scotland and a result that everyone will respect.” That’s the line upon which Alister is basing his spurious and frankly ludicrous claim to possessing a mandate for blocking another referendum.

Yet it’s hardly a “fair test” if the winning side in the referendum effectively lied, cheated, and misrepresented itself. All sorts of promises and commitments were made by the Better Together parties during that referendum campaign, and those were the promises and commitments which led voters in Scotland in cast their ballot in a particular way. One of those promises was telling people in Scotland that the only way Scotland could remain within the EU was by voting against independence. We all know how that worked out. Another was that Scotland would be an equal and respected partner in a family of nations. Only it turned out that Scotland was ignored, marginalised and sidelined at every turn during the Brexit negotiations. Another was that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would be enshrined in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of Holyrood. Only the British Government sought a Supreme Court ruling which found that the wording in the 2016 Scotland Act putting the Sewel Convention into law could be ignored by Westminster.

It was Westminster which traduced the Edinburgh Agreement. It’s the Conservatives who have not been respecting the result of the 2014 referendum. Respecting a result doesn’t mean cheating and lying to get a win and then demanding that no one can challenge you once your lies are discovered. The Tories are like an Olympic athlete who drugged themselves to the eyeballs on steroids to win the gold and then refused to allow a rematch for the medal and the title after they’d been found out.

Yet Alister’s arrogant cluelessness, his stomping about in a constitutional play that’s way beyond his performance ability, has revealed something important. The traditional Scottish Unionism that was once espoused by Alister’s party is dead. The Tories have killed in for the short term gain of trying to block an independence referendum.

Traditional Scottish Unionism was founded upon the belief that Scotland is not a colony, that it’s a free and willing partner in the UK and remains so because that is the express will of the people of Scotland. Traditional Scottish Unionism held that this was true because Unionists believed that the Union was unchallengeable, that it would last forever, that independence was a marginal view that would never gain traction. As long as it was founded upon that arrogance, Scottish Unionists could tell Scotland and the world that Scotland was no colony, no possession. We were better than that. That’s the fundamental arrogance of unionism.

The rise in support for independence changed all that. Independence is no longer a marginal force in Scottish politics. It’s a very real threat to the privileges and position of the likes of Alister Jack. So the Alisters of this world can no longer afford to indulge the sensibilities of Scotland by claiming that this is a free and voluntary union. The fig leaf has been ripped away. Traditional Scottish Unionism has been stripped of its clothing of partnership, and we see the naked imperial beast underneath. In the next referendum the Alisters will not be able to pretend that this is a debate between Scottish nationalism and British non-nationalism. We can all see now that this is a debate between an arrogant and anti-democratic reactionary British nationalism, and Scottish independence.

Naturally this shocking development representing the death of traditional Scottish Unionism and the reaction to it and its implications was the lead item on BBC Scotland’s lunchtime news. Oh wait. No. The lead story was that we’re getting bad weather in Scotland in the wintertime. But the real storm is the one that’s breaking for opponents of independence. The gales of independence will blow them into oblivion.


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


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

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

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Dancing in the rain

dancingintherain
Are you still wringing yourself out? I didn’t post on the blog yesterday because I was at the march in Glasgow with some friends. We all got extremely wet, the rain was torrential at times, the wind never stopped. But it was a great day, and fantastic to see such a crowd taking to the streets of Glasgow to demand Scotland’s right to determine its own future despite such atrocious weather. We’re Scottish, rain doesn’t stop us. It’s just for dancing in.

There are often unfavourable comparisons between the ability of the Catalans to get hundreds of thousands onto the streets, whereas in Scotland we consider tens of thousands to be a massive success. Yesterday’s weather tells you why. In Catalonia they have a tradition of outdoor events. You can plan an outdoor event in Catalonia and for the great majority of the year be reasonably confident that you’re going to have nice sunny weather to have it in. In Scotland we have cold dark winter days, and a summer that consists of a weekend in July if we’re lucky.

Catalonia is also blessed with a media which is far more representative of public opinion than Scotland’s overwhelmingly anti-independence opinion pushers. Their media actually publicises such events in advance, because it’s news that an important pro-independence event is going to happen. In Scotland it’s only news after it’s taken place. And then it’s usually to quote some Tory politician complaining about the disruption to traffic of a divisive march, a complaint which – funnily enough – these same Tory politicians never make about Orange parades.

By any standards yesterday’s event was a resounding success and a declaration of the strength of feeling in Scotland about our right to decide our own future. There was disruption to transport, weather forecasts during the preceding few days warning of the terrible conditions, yet still the streets were full. We were close to the start of the march, we got to Glasgow Green, went to the pub, had a drink, and when we left the marchers were still traipsing along Clyde Street, dancing in the rain.

But just as tens of thousands of ordinary Scottish people from all walks of life went on a drookit march to claim their right to decide their own future, the Labour party branch office in Scotland was equally determined not to allow them. That’s the party that calls itself the people’s party, the party that proudly proclaims itself as the party of devolution and giving Scotland the ability to make decisions in Scotland. Labour in Scotland doesn’t even want its own members to make any decisions for themselves.

At the same time as the march was joyfully splashing its way through Glasgow’s puddles, Labour’s Scottish branch office was holding a meeting of its executive committee to discuss the office manager Rampantly Losevoter’s proposal to have a special party conference to debate and discuss the party’s stance on another independence referendum. The idea of having an open conference was rejected, no surprise there, and instead the branch office executives decided to have a closed session away day in which they’ll discuss how they can better sell the idea of federalism. It’s not the party policy which is wrong, it’s the Scottish public for not buying it.

Labour always drags out the federalism fairy whenever there’s the prospect of Scotland moving away from Westminster control. Yet even the Labour party branch office in Scotland know that there’s as much chance of federalism happening as there is of a book called The Wit and Charisma of Reingold Lucksinker having any pages that aren’t blank. Let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the party in Scotland formally adopts full fat federalism as a policy, they’re only leaving themselves open to the question why it hasn’t happened already. Didn’t Gordie Broon promise in 2014 that within three years of a no vote we’d be living in a state that was the closest thing possible to federalism? Instead we got control of road signs and some deliberately hauf-airsed tax powers that then Scottish Governor General David Mundell described as a trap for the SNP.

However the real problem is that it wouldn’t matter even if Scotland did swing convincingly and decisively behind a demand for a federal UK. Suppose there were three choices on the ballot in the next referendum, the status quo, federalism, or independence, and federalism won the largest share of the vote. Then what? Federalism for Scotland means federalism for the rest of the UK too. If real federalism is going to happen in the UK, England has to choose it. There is zero chance of that happening. The question of federalism isn’t even a distant speck on the horizon of English politics. Is Labour telling us that we’d have to wait for untold years for England to begin to have the federal debate with itself? Even if that conversation started, and a definitive decision on federalism and how it would work for England was achieved within England, Scotland would end up with the form of federalism that suits England, not the one that might suit Scotland. We’d be left exactly where we are just now, with Scotland’s future held hostage to political decisions made in England.

Federalism is about solving a political problem for the Labour party in Scotland. No one else has any interest in it. It’s nothing more or less than Labour in Scotland’s attempt to come up with a constitutional position that distances themselves from the hated Tories and the even more hated SNP. It’s a distraction and a spoiler for a future referendum, that’s the purpose of federalism proposals, whether federalism is workable, realistic, or remotely feasible isn’t Labour’s concern.

If the political events in the UK since 2014 have taught us anything, it’s that even when UK politicians make sworn vows to Scotland, Scotland will get what England votes for and Scotland’s concerns will be marginalised and ignored. The lesson to take from that is not to seek some other format in which Scotland can be marginalised and ignored and left to the mercies of England’s political priorities. It’s to take charge, to take decisions within Scotland in Scotland’s interests. That’s why 80,000 people took to the puddles of Glasgow yesterday, they were splashing their way to independence, not to waiting for England to decide on a constitutional proposal that it has shown no interest in. All that the Labour party in Scotland did yesterday was to confirm its own irrelevance.

Meanwhile on BBC Scotland this morning, Governor General Alister Jack insisted that there will be no referendum this year, and that the SNP must win an absolute majority in Holyrood next year – the support of other pro-indy parties like the Greens doesn’t count. Yet even if every single voter cast a ballot for the SNP, the Conservatives in Westminster would still not allow another referendum. All that the Conservatives have done is to confirm that they are a party of anti-democratic authoritarians who do not believe that the UK is a voluntary union of nations and who do not believe that Scotland has the right to decide its own future. Alister Jack has just blown up the key foundation myth of Scottish Unionism. If Scotland is not a voluntary partner in a union, then all those comforting stories that Scottish Unionists have told themselves about Scotland’s place within the UK are nothing more than fairy stories. Traditional Scottish Unionism is dead. There is only British nationalism or Scottish independence.

What ordinary independence supporters displayed yesterday was the determination to campaign, to win independence, to resist the nawbaggery of a Tory party which is determined to block another referendum because they know they’re going to lose it. The more that support for independence rises, the more panicked the Tories become and the more they’ll be determined to find any possible means to prevent another referendum.

Labour has conferenced and away-dayed itself into irrelevance. Meanwhile in their panic the Conservatives are showing their true authoritarian, anti-democratic, and authoritarian colours. We are not faced with a confident and assured cohort of British nationalists. Yesterday’s happy joyous throngs of independence supporters passed the usual angry little huddle of scared British nationalists, hurling invective and hatred. That’s not a side that looks like it’s winning, not a side that looks like it’s confident in its arguments. This year we need to keep up the pressure. Nothing good comes easy, and no march to independence is an easy stroll. But the future is with the people of Scotland, dancing in the rain.


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


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

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https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2019

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Dugcast – 10 January 2020

Welcome to the latest episode of the dugcast, and this week The National’s editor Callum Baird has torn himself away from his busy schedule so that I can interrupt him. This week we discuss rumblings within the Labour party that might point to a new attitude towards Scottish independence, Boris Johnson’s ludicrous claim that the UK is the most successful union in history, why it is that people in Scotland really don’t care about the royal family, tomorrow’s big indy march in Glasgow, and much more besides.


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

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


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

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

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


Successful union? Successful for whom?

strangulation

According to Boris Johnson and assorted British nationalists, the United Kingdom is the most successful union in the world. That’s a claim which begs many questions. Questions like, how are you defining a union exactly? Questions like successful for whom? What criteria are you using for “successful”? The number of foodbanks perhaps. The UK has been highly successful in the past few years at making people, even people in work, rely upon foodbanks in order to feed their kids. Or perhaps it’s based upon the least number of years without being involved in war or military action. That would be just a couple of dozen years out of the three hundred plus during which the UK has been in existence. Or maybe it’s based upon the number of Tory MPs who got their position on the basis of lies on the side of a bus.

Dunno about you, but I can think of quite a few unions that have been considerably more successful for their members than the UK has been for Scotland. Switzerland springs to mind. It’s peaceful, prosperous, has better public services, and doesn’t keep getting involved in wars. That sounds successful to me. It’s also highly successful in ensuring that members of the Swiss union can’t be browbeaten and dragged along into things that they don’t want by the largest member of the union. It would be very nice if that was also the case in the UK. Then we wouldn’t have to deal with Brexit.

The truth is that the union between Scotland and England has been spectacularly successful, but only in a very narrowly defined sense. It has been highly successful for London and the tellingly named Home Counties in the South East of England. It’s been successful at sooking resources and humans out of Scotland and using them for the benefit of the economy of the South East of England. For Scotland, success? Not so much.

In 1707 when the Treaty of Union was foisted upon Scotland under threat of economic blockade and invasion, Scotland was not the bankrupt basket case of British nationalist myth. Many of Scotland’s wealthy had lost money in the Darien fiasco, but that was their own money, not Scotland’s national wealth. The fact is that during the early years of the 18th century Scotland was doing as well as or rather better than other northern European states of a similar size and population. Scotland was wealthier than Denmark or Norway. Finland was an underdeveloped possession of the Swedish crown.

Yet after over three hundred years of what we’re constantly told is the most successful union that the multiverse has ever seen has reduced Scotland from a position of equality with other northern European nations to being far poorer. That’s because for the past three hundred years Scotland has exported its people, along with their talents, skills, and abilities honed by education that Scotland has paid for, to the maw of London, where those talents skills and abilities generate wealth and revenue for the economy of the South East of England and not for Scotland. Scotland exports its resources, its wealth, and its capital and we are told that having to export our children is a “union benefit”. Personally I think it would be a lot more of a benefit for Scotland to be able to develop itself so that its children aren’t driven to seek employment elsewhere. That would be a better and more realistic definition of success. But then the definition of success used by British nationalist politicians in Scotland is a highly self-serving one.

The cumulative result after three hundred years is a nation that British nationalists delight in describing as an economic basket case that’s supposedly too impoverished to join the EU in its own right. The peculiar thing is that they seem to believe that this claim is a vindication of London rule in Scotland and not an indictment of it.

In the 1600s Scotland was not an economic basket case. It was an averagely prosperous northern European nation enjoying a successful and thriving trade with France and the Baltic countries as well as with England. Today the GDP of Scotland is around half of that of Denmark, a country which does not possess a fraction of the resources that Scotland does. Denmark has exceeded Scotland in population growth and in wealth. Yet surely if the UK was indeed the most successful union of nations in all of history, it would have enabled Scotland to develop greater wealth than Denmark, to increase its population at a faster rate than the rest of Europe. Instead the opposite has happened. Far from being the most successful, the union has acted as a drag upon Scotland’s development. And that’s hardly surprising considering that Scotland’s role in the UK is the same as that of the English provinces – to act as a reservoir of resources and skilled labour for the benefit of the economy of London and the South East of England.

Population growth is a good proxy for comparing the economies and opportunities offered by different European countries over the past 300 years. At the time of the Treaty of Union in 1707, Scotland had an estimated population of approximately 1.1 million. A quarter lived in the Highlands. England and Wales at the same time had a population of approximately 5.1 million. Scotland’s population was about one fifth of that of England and Wales combined. Today the population of Scotland is 5.4 million, the population of England and Wales combined is 58.1 million, over ten times the population of Scotland. If Scotland’s population growth had kept pace with the rest of the UK, modern Scotland would have around 11 million people, over double what it actually has. The excess population has been lost to emigration, much of it to the rest of the UK.
(Source: http://www.spanishsuccession.nl/uk_england.html )

Denmark had a population of approximately 797,000 in the year 1769, about 75% of Scotland’s figure over 60 years after the Treaty of Union. Today Denmark has a population of almost 5.78 million, more than Scotland. The same pattern is repeated in Finland. In 1750, the first year for which records are available, there were 421,000 people living in Finland, less than half of Scotland’s population. Today there are 5.5 million Finns, more people than live in Scotland. Norway had approximately 440,000 inhabitants in 1665, and didn’t exceed a million in population until 1825, today it has a population of 5,399,962, almost exactly the same as Scotland’s.

There’s a very consistent pattern here. The Scandinavian countries have all seen their populations grow by a factor of between 8 and 11 since 1700. Scotland’s population has grown far more slowly, well below the average for Europe. Since fertility levels are similar in all northern European nations, this indicates that Scotland has been markedly less successful in holding on to its population. That can only be as a result of the macro-economic policies adopted by successive Westminster governments. Scots have been forced to emigrate, and we’re told this is a benefit of the union.

(Sources:
http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/denmark-population/
http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/finland-population/
http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/norway-population/ )

The only northern European nation which has had a worse demographic history than Scotland is Ireland – the only other northern European nation which was ruled by Westminster. Ireland’s population reached 8 million just prior to the Great Famine, a tragedy for which the Westminster governments of the day bear considerable responsibility. Those are the same governments which bear the blame for the Clearances which depopulated much of the Scottish countryside.

All of this at least gives us an objective criterion for defining “most successful union”. The UK has been most successful union when it comes to devastating the population growth of its smaller members. It has been the most successful at producing the Cringe and destroying the languages and cultures of the non English parts of the union. It has been the most successful at creating the greatest chasm between rich and poor in Europe. It has been the most successful at warmongering abroad. So yeah, sure, it’s the most successful union, just not in a good way.

Scotland has been impoverished by Westminster and those who support Westminster cite Westminster’s mismanagement as a reason why Scotland needs Westminster. If the UK really was the most successful union the world has ever seen, then opponents of independence would not be able to claim that Scotland can’t become independent because it’s too poor.  They can’t, or won’t, explain why it is that Scotland has fallen behind other northern European countries economically.  If this union really was as successful as they claim, why isn’t Scotland as rich as Denmark or Finland – never mind Norway which also has oil in the North Sea.

The truth is Scotland could be considerably more successful as an independent country. A truly successful union is a handshake, a supporting hand. The reality of this union is a Westminster with its hands around Scotland’s throat.


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

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

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


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

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

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


There’s been a murrdurr!

theresbeenamurrdurr
Many of us in Scotland have spent our lives avoiding the British royal family. The Windsors provoke in us a mixture of intense boredom and deep anger, a peculiar combination of emotions called banger. Which is what your head turns into whenever the bloody royals dominate the news as though their goings on were indeed news and not some species of nauseating trivial gossip propagated by sychophants who’d be as well to get that brown stain tattooed permanently on their noses. We’re looking at you Nicholas Witchell.

Anyway, in the proper news which you might have missed what with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle taking the huff with the Daily Mail and the BBC, which to be honest is perfectly reasonable of them, today Scotland’s Parliament has voted by 92 to 29 not to give its consent to those parts of the UK’s EU withdrawal deal which impinge upon devolved competencies. MSPs from the Labour party, the Greens, and the Lib Dems joined with the SNP in voting against Westminster’s power grab. Only the Tories supported it. However this will not make the slightest bit of difference to what happens with the deal, which will be railroaded through anyway irrespective of the views of the Scottish Parliament whose powers and competencies are being directly affected against the will of MSPs of all parties except the Tories.

The objections of MSPs are threefold. Firstly the UK government’s withdrawal bill encroaches on devolved competencies and Holyrood does not consent to this. Secondly the UK bill makes no acknowledgement of the fact that Scotland voted to remain a part of the EU, and indeed did so by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Thirdly the bill is an effective power grab because powers which should be returned automatically to Holyrood from Brussels upon the UK’s exit from the EU will instead be taken by Westminster. This represents a fundamental rewriting of the devolution settlement, without any consultation with the Scottish Parliament.

Westminster’s move comes despite the solemn and heartfelt promise from the anti-independence parties in 2014 that if Scotland voted against independence, they would ensure that no Westminster government would ever be able to alter, change, or affect the powers of the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Well I say heartfelt promise, you can’t actually make a heartfelt promise when you don’t possess a heart. The Conservative party is kept alive by the pumping of rich people’s money, which isn’t exactly the same as a functioning moral compass or the ability to tell the truth.

The legislation from Westminster runs a coach and horses through the Sewel Convention which says that Westminster will not “normally” legislate in devolved areas. This is despite the fact that the promise that this convention would be enshrined in law was one of the key commitments made by the anti-independence parties during the referendum. As we later discovered, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the changed legislation supposedly guaranteeing the rights and powers of Holyrood had no legal effect and the UK government could do whatever it pleased.

Governor General Alister Jack refused to respect the decision of Holyrood, since as far as he’s concerned it’s a decision taken by tribal elders in a glorified mud hut and the natives will do what the likes of Alister decides is best for them. “We’re respecting the result of the referendum”, said Alister, carefully not mentioning that his party isn’t respecting any of the promises or commitments that it made to win either of the past two referendums. All sales are final in Alister’s world. No guarantees, no returns. And don’t you dare think that you can complain when what you receive is an empty box when you’ve been promised that it contained a Scotland that’s an equal partner in a family of nations and a devolution settlement that can’t be altered or changed.

The Governor General took a wee break away from yelling at the servants who’ve been cleaning his pith helmet to appear at Scottish Questions in the Commons on Thursday, where he faced the ire of Scotland’s MPs. He hummed hawed and attempted a fnaugh or two when asked why it was that his government claimed a mandate to leave the EU when it received 43% of the vote in the General Election, but thinks that the SNP doesn’t have a mandate for another independence referendum when it received 45% of the vote in Scotland in that same General Election. That would be the General Election where Alister’s party campaigned on the single issue of opposing a referendum only to see its vote share drop and the loss of over half its MPs. Alister replied saying “Blah. Harrumph. Respect the referendum.” Or fnaughery to that effect. There’s being out of your depth, and there’s Alister Jack. Alister can only aspire to being out of his depth. He looks at the depth from far beneath the bottom of the Marianna’s Trench.

Westminster will proceed with its EU Bill even though all of Scotland’s MPs except seven discredited Tories will vote against it. Westminster will proceed to rip up the devolution settlement even though the Scottish Parliament voted heavily against it. This is not what Scotland was promised in 2014. The UK that we have been delivered comes as close to the promises that the Conservatives and the other anti-indy parties made to Scotland as Alister Jack does to a competent and convincing Scotland Secretary who stands up for Scotland’s interests.

The final death of a key promise which was used to persuade Scotland to vote against independence in 2014 is of course the headline story on BBC Scotland which has sent a reporter to doorstop Tory politicians to ask them how they can justify the lies that they’ve told to the people of Scotland. The reporter will badger them until they give a plausible answer to the question why they expect the SNP to abide by statements that it made during the referendum campaign of 2014 but the Conservative party thinks it should get a free pass.

Ha. Just kidding. Of course they haven’t. The headline story is about a murrdurr. Now this is of course news too. It’s sad, tragic and unfortunate whenever anyone loses their life. It’s just a shame that the murrdurr of the devolution settlement doesn’t appear to excite our national broadcaster in Scotland quite as much. But the murrdurr of the devolution settlement will be instrumental in delivering Scotland to independence. No wonder the British media in Scotland wants to distract us with nonsense about a royal family few of us care about and hopes the real murrdurr story goes away. Well it’s not going away. We’ll make sure of that.


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

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

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


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

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

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