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.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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


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.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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


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.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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


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.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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


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.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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


The inalienable right

inalienableright
Boris Johnson has been fnaugh fnaughing his way through Prime Minister’s Questions and refusing to acknowledge that the SNP was given a mandate by the Scottish electorate for another independence referendum. He conceded that it’s up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, but insisted that the right was exercised in 2014 and it was a “once in a generation” vote. We’re going to hear this excuse a lot, because it’s the only excuse the British government has got left.

Boris Johnson can’t plausibly argue that the SNP has no mandate from the Scottish electorate when that party won a larger vote share and a larger share of seats than his Conservative party did in the UK as a whole. He can’t plausibly maintain that there’s no mandate for another referendum when his own branch office in Scotland stood on the single platform of opposing another referendum and got its collective arse handed to it on a plate glazed with Stephen Kerr’s tears. If Boris Johnson maintains that he’s got a mandate from the UK electorate to deliver Brexit, the SNP has an even stronger and more convincing mandate from the Scottish electorate to deliver an independence referendum.

That point about a mandate is unarguable, except that is if you’re one of those people who deny the existence of Scotland as a political entity and claim that the SNP won merely a “subset” of UK seats in a UK election. Describing the nation of Scotland, a constituent nation of the UK as a subset is quite possibly the cringiest description of Scotland ever, more cringey than North Britain. Even more cringey than “up there”. Scotland isn’t just any random selection of Westminster seats, it’s an ancient nation which was one of the founding kingdoms of the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union which founded the unitary state known as the United Kingdom guaranteed the continuing existence of Scottish national institutions, and the Scottish nation itself. The very foundation of the UK itself recognises that Scotland is a distinct polity within the UK, a polity with its own distinctive political character.

Boris Johnson was forced to concede, amidst the usual disrespectful barracking from Tory backbenchers whenever an SNP MP rises to speak, that it is indeed up to the people of Scotland to decide whether their future is as a part of the UK. He could hardly say anything else. However his admission has an important implication. If it is up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, that right to self-determination is either conditional or it’s absolute. Boris Johnson appears to believe that Scotland’s sovereign right to self-determination as a nation within the UK to decide its own future is conditional upon a timing that he’ll decide. So it’s not really a sovereign right to self-determination at all. If it’s up to political forces outwith Scotland to decide when Scotland can exercise its right to self-determination, then it’s not a right to self-determination. It becomes a question of Westminster’s convenience and permission. A right to self-determination which is conditional upon the convenience and permission of Westminster is no right to self-determination at all. It’s simply another way of stating that Scotland doesn’t have the right, a Conservative PM does.

There was absolutely nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement between the Scottish and British governments setting the terms for the 2014 referendum which stipulated that an independence referendum could only be held once in a generation. The rider that the referendum was a one in a generation affair did not appear on the ballot paper. It was not a part of the question that was put to the people of Scotland and which they voted on.

Alex Salmond described the referendum as a once in a generation opportunity, and was careful to add the rider that this was his personal opinion. Yet it appears that Scotland is to be held hostage to the opinion of a former First Minister, an opinion which has no force in law. The personal opinion of Alex Salmond is only being elevated to the lofty position of holy writ for the simple reason that Boris Johnson requires an excuse to prevent another independence referendum because he’s afraid he’s going to lose it.

The phrase once in a generation opportunity also appears three times in the White Paper on Independence published by the Scottish Government prior to the referendum. On page 3, the referendum is described as a “once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path”. On page 10 it is described as a “once in a generation opportunity to chart a better way.” On page 576 there is the statement, “It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

There are twos reasons why Alex Salmond’s administration took the view that the referendum of 2014 was a once in a generation opportunity. Neither of them are binding, and neither of them apply today. The first reason is that the referendum of 2014 only took place because the SNP broke the D’Hondt system and won the 2011 election with an absolute majority in Holyrood. Prior to this election it was not thought possible for a party to do this, and the SNP’s victory came as a surprise to everyone, not least the SNP. However the referendum campaign radically changed the Scottish political landscape in ways that were unforseen. It is now perfectly plausible for pro-independence parties to win a majority of seats in Holyrood.

The second reason is more important. Alex Salmond’s government took the view that they did because they had just negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement with Westminster, as a result of which both parties agreed to respect the outcome of the referendum. It was implicit in that understanding that both parties would respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland during the referendum campaign. What is happening now is that Westminster is demanding that the current Scottish Government upholds everything that it stated during the referendum campaign, but it itself is not bound by its own promises and commitments.

Promises and commitments like telling Scotland that the only way it could remain a part of the EU was by voting no. Promises and commitments like promising that the powers of Holyrood would be enshrined in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Promises and commitments likes telling Scotland it was a much loved and equal partner in a family of nations, that it should lead within the UK instead of leaving it.

Indeed, it is all the more important for Westminster to uphold its promises and commitments to Scotland because it was the proposition of the No campaign which won the referendum. Yet now the SNP and Scotland are being held to ransom by a Westminster which hasn’t fulfilled its end of the bargain. If Westminster had respected all the promises that it made to Scotland in 2014, then the referendum would indeed have been a once in a generation opportunity. But they didn’t, did they. Westminster cannot insist that the SNP abide by statements that it made during the referendum campaign without itself abiding by the statements that Better Together made.

It’s Westminster’s failure to uphold its end of the bargain that has created the renewed demand and the justification for another referendum. Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy in claiming it was “once in a generation” merely highlights his own party’s failure to respect the promises and commitments that it made to the people of Scotland. When he tells us that the referendum was “once in a generation”, he’s telling the people of Scotland that we are suckers for ever believing that Westminster would keep its promises.

Yet even if there was a solemn commitment made by both sides in 2014 that the referendum was a once in a generation affair, so what? The people of Scotland have a sovereign right to decide for themselves which path Scotland will take – even Boris Johnson admits that much. That right cannot be bargained away, signed away, time-limited, or given up by any political party because it is a right that rests with the people of Scotland, not with the Conservatives, not with the SNP, not with any other party. It follows then that it’s up to the people of Scotland and no one else to decide whether or when we demand another independence referendum. And we demand one now. Scotland’s right to self-determination is inalienable.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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


British nationalism’s vested interest in misery

misery
Following on from telling us why the SNP winning 81% of Scotland’s Westminster seats in the General Election doesn’t count as a mandate for another independence referendum, British nationalists have found a new straw to clutch at.  You just knew that there was going to be one, didn’t you.  For every number on the bingo card, the callers of the British media have a pithy wee statement about how it’s going to bring about devastation, penury, and disaster. Only they’re not so much pithy as jutht pith.

Immediately after telling us that getting involved in pointless wars in the Middle East is the way to guarantee peace, next up in the British nationalist bingo card of reasons why Scotland can’t possibly have an independence referendum is the warning that if Scotland was to have a vote on whether it wanted to remain a part of Brexit Britain, it would spark off “appreciable political violence” in Northern Ireland. This is according to a report in the Times, quoting a certain Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow for US defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Jonathan is the editor of the IISS journal Survival, which sounds like it could be the sort of magazine that Bear Grylls reads while he’s taking a dump in the woods. And indeed, it may well be.

Next week we’ll be told that Scottish independence will create a hole in the ozone layer, cause the extinction of the white rhinoceros, destabilise the neutron star PSR B1509-58 in the Circinus constellation devastating the nascent civilisation of crab people developing on a nearby planet, and will put an end to John Barrowman’s career as a guest presenter on This Morning. Although why that last one is a bad thing for anyone except John Barrowman will be left unexplained.

For British nationalists, especially for those in Scotland with a vested interest in keeping things the way that they are, the possibility of independence is always going to be met with warnings of dire happenings, catastrophes, and the end of civilisation as we know it. Any imagined link between independence and certain death, no matter if it’s even more tenuous than the link between what comes out of Boris Johnson’s mouth and reality, will be played up for all it’s worth. And to be fair, the possiblity of independence has already spelled the death of numerous Scottish Conservative political careers and almost the entire Labour party branch office.  Just ask Stephen Kerr, that guy from Ochil and South Perthshire whose name no one could ever remember, and all those nonentities with a red rosette.

British nationalism has a vested interest in misery. British nationalism in Scotland is an exercise in expectation reduction. Misery is its default setting.  It drinks half the glass and tells us that we should be grateful for the half glass that’s left because we’re not worthy or capable enough to produce a quarter full glass by ourselves even though we own the water. It wants us to believe that a half empty glass is the best that can be achieved and threatens us with the misery of a broken glass if we dare to expect more. It urges Scotland to put up with the UK’s misery of austerity, of poor public services, of privatisation, of foreign wars, of xenophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric and threatens us with far worse if we resist and aspire to better. So it’s only natural that a Scotland which seeks to distance itself from the British nationalism which created sectarianism as a product of its Irish adventures would be threatened with an outbreak of sectarian violence.

Jonathan was speaking at a foreign relations conference in New York, and told delegates that if Boris Johnson was to authorise a Scottish referendum but didn’t also allow a poll on Irish unification this could spark off violence from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland. This ignores the obvious, that ignoring calls for a unification poll in Northern Ireland could spark off violence in Northern Ireland irrespective of what happens in Scotland. You’d almost think that opponents of independence haven’t realised that Scotland and Northern Ireland have different politics, despite the best efforts of the Conservatives and Labour to channel Ian Paisley saying Noooooooo and the Conservatives in Scotland turning into the No Surrender party complete with dog whistles to sectarian bigotry.

The fact is that the issues in Northern Ireland are the historic creation of the British state and British colonisation of Ireland, it’s a product of British nationalism. It’s pretty rich to lay the responsibility for it on those of us in Scotland who seek to leave the British state. It’s as nonsensical as British nationalists blaming the SNP for the share of the UK’s deficit that gets allocated to Scotland. Oh wait, that’s exactly what they do.

Jonathan also claimed that the independence referendum in 2014 was marked by a rise in Republican violence in Northern Ireland and that some of these attacks were lethal. In other words he was trying to associate the entirely peaceful, constitutional, and legal campaign for Scottish independence with terrorist attacks. There was indeed violence associated with the Scottish independence referendum, but those responsible for that violence were the British nationalist thugs who went on the rampage in Glasgow city centre after the result was announced, beating up and attacking entirely peaceable and law-abiding independence supporters. It’s funny that when they’re warning of political violence opponents of independence always seem to forget that the violence only ever comes from their own side.

Other experts are of course available, except when you’re a British nationalist in search of a straw to clutch at, and those other experts – experts like Kieran McConaghy, a lecturer with the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews – said that this was, to use a technical term much cited in international politics and relations, but possibly not in the Survival journal, a load of auld keech. Although I am paraphrasing there somewhat. Mind you auld keech is what Bear Grylls produces when he’s reading the Survival journal in the woods, so there’s a sort of cosmic circularity to it all.

However it is a fact that there was no rise in Republican violence before or during the Scottish referendum. Attacks carried out by dissident Republican groups in Northern Ireland remained at a constant level before, during and after Scotland’s referendum. There was no rise in Republic violence in Northern Ireland because Scotland was holding a referendum in 2014, and there will be no rise in Republican violence in Northern Ireland when Scotland holds its next referendum either. But that doesn’t suit the red white and blue pearl clutching narrative.

The only prospect of violence as a result of a Scottish independence vote will come from British nationalist extremists. But if we’re expecting the anti-independence parties to take responsibility for the trolls of British nationalism that their rhetoric of fear has unleashed, we’ll be in for a long wait. Instead we’ll see our newspapers full of more scare stories without substance. Opponents of independence are afraid that they’ve already lost the argument and can no longer rely upon being given the benefit of the doubt and so are being driven into increasingly hysterical scare stories. The misery of British nationalism bingo is set to become ever more ridiculous as Brexit bites and the British state loses its hold on the people of Scotland. But we have some bingo of our own. Number 1 – Kelly’s eye, Boris’s lie … Number 2 – We can rejoin the EU … Number 3 – Scotland’s free. … Number 4 – We don’t believe Tories any more …


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

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

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

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


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

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

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