Rescuing Scotland from Johnson and Farage’s UK

Nigel Farage is still tired from all that walking he didn’t do earlier this year on his much touted march on London. Only as far as Nigel was concerned it turned out not to be a long hard slog all the way from the north of England, and more of a short stroll to the first pub en route. This however is probably not the reason why he has decided that he’s not after all going to put up candidates for his Vanity Party – sorry Brexit Party – in every constituency. Although even Nigel would struggle to visit 650 pubs across the entire UK over the next four weeks or so.

The reason has rather more to do with the same reason that the millionaire stockbroker enemy of the elite has decided not to stand for election himself. It’s because he knows that he’s going to get gubbed. Gone are the big words and even bigger demands of just a few days ago, when he called on Boris Johnson to abandon any deal with the EU and go for a no-deal disaster capitalist wet dream of a Brexit. Nigel fancied himself as the great king-maker of Brexit, but instead he discovered that his polling ratings were in a right royal mess.

So he’s climbed down and has attempted to rescue what influence he can, and secure himself publicity and future invites to Question Time in the process, by announcing that he’s only going to stand Brexit Party candidates in seats which don’t have a Tory MP. This is, he proudly announced, the great leaver alliance. He told a press conference that he’d reflected on the chances of allowing Lib Dem MPs in constituencies in the South West of England, and reflected on Boris Johnson’s commitment to keep his word on leaving the EU, and then decided to believe Boris Johnson – entirely coincidentally guaranteeing his place on the honours list in the not too distant future. Arise Lord Farage of Arse Covering. The real question here is will those mugs who gave Nigel £100 each in order to stand as Brexit party candidates get their money back.

What this development tells us is that the Conservative Party has now completed its transformation into Ukip. They’re the party of choice of Donald Trump, and it’s reasonable to wonder whether this move by Farage is because of any pressure that he’s come under from the American President. It’s now going to be harder for the opposition parties to dislodge sitting Conservative MPs, particularly for the Lib Dems in the south of England.

Meanwhile the Labour Party has completed its transformation into Unelectablity. Labour’s chances, slim as they are, are not being helped by Jo Swinson, who goes about saying that her party is the only party of remain (conveniently ignoring the SNP) but seems to spend more of her time and energy attacking the Labour party than attacking the Tories. It’s all very well claiming to be the party of remain, but the Lib Dems are giving a very good impression of preferring to be a bunch of self-righteous I-told-you-soers in a Tory Brexit Britain than allowing even the slightest chance of letting the Labour party or the SNP get within a sniffing distance of victory.

Naturally Boris Johnson is delighted. This move gives him everything he wanted and costs him nothing. The chances of a Conservative majority government in the UK have increased. A nakedly populist right English nationalist party is set to dominate UK politics. British politics have realigned, and in a way that makes the UK unsustainable. This is not a UK that has any place at all for Scotland’s distinctive political traditions. This is a UK which is going to crush the devolution settlement.

The UK that we now live in is not merely not the UK that Scotland was promised in 2014, it’s Scotland’s worst nightmare. It’s a UK ruled by Boris Johnson propped up by Nigel Farage. It’s a UK which is determined to destroy those tattered remnants of the post-war settlement that the Conservatives haven’t yet ripped up. It’s a UK which is not just headed out of the EU, but a UK which is headed for the hardest most right wing kind of Brexit imaginable. It’s a UK which apes the policies and politics of Donald Trump. It’s a UK whose governing party is funded by Russian money. It’s the UK which independence supporters warned about in 2014, but their warnings only caused them to be decried as crazed zoomers. And yet, here we are.

Everything that yes supporters warned would happen if Scotland voted no has happened, and worse. England will vote for an English nationalist Conservative party dragged ever further to the right by the Brexit Party. That’s your future in the UK Scotland, suck it up.

Yet there is hope. The ever rightward march of the Conservatives into full blown English nationalism in a Brexit Britain can only strengthen the demand within Scotland for independence. It is now more important than ever that Scotland seizes the chance on 12 December to return as many pro-independence MPs as possible. We must demonstrate that Scotland rejects the Tories and that Scotland demands the right to decide its own future.

Of course if there is a majority Conservative government led by Boris Johnson, he’s going to refuse another independence referendum. However that refusal combined with his government’s pursuit of hard right politics will only reinforce the demand within Scotland for independence. We’re not there yet, and many things can happen during the course of this nasty election campaign, but even a majority Johnson government cannot withstand the demand for Scottish self-determination forever. His government will be a government in his image, chaotic, shambolic, and characterised by overweening entitlement and contempt. This will not be a government which is going to go down well in Scotland. Support for independence will rise significantly, and with it the chances of success and public support for alternative strategies in the face of the refusal to agree to a Section 30 order.

The road ahead is not an easy one. But it’s a road that leads only in one direction, towards a Scotland that decides its own future, decides to embrace a future as an independent European nation. Your vote in this coming General Election will be crucial in ensuring that Scotland stays headed in the right direction, the only direction that can rescue Scotland from the dysfunctional mess that the British state has become, rescuing Scotland from Johnson and Farage’s Britain.


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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


It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act

scotlandact
According to a clause buried deep within Boris Johnson’s EU withdrawal bill, the law would be changed following the successful passage of the bill to allow the British Government to make unilateral changes to the devolution settlement by way of regulations, without having to seek the approval of the Westminster Parliament. Ministers could make the changes that they see fit by fiat. And not just changes to the devolution settlement as it affects Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland, ministers would also have the power to make changes to the Human Rights Act. The powers given to ministers go so far as enabling them to abolish the Scotland Act in its entirety.

The powers that ministers would award themselves were discussed in a report on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill published by the House of Lords Constitution Committee. The committee wrote:

82. There is one significant difference between powers under new section 8C and those under 8B(5) that were discussed in chapter 4. There is no restriction on 8C powers being used to impose or increase taxation or fees, make retrospective provision, create a relevant criminal offence (i.e. with a penalty exceeding two years imprisonment), establish a public authority, amend, repeal or revoke the Human Rights Act 1998 or any subordinate legislation made under it, or amend or repeal the Scotland Act 1998, the Government of Wales Act 2006, or the Northern Ireland Act 1998.

You can read the full report by clicking on this link –
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201920/ldselect/ldconst/21/21.pdf

The powers referred to under section 8C relate to “deficiencies” which would arise in law following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, when EU legislation would no longer apply to the UK. Strictly speaking then, these powers should be used only sparingly, and only in a very limited sphere relating to retained EU law. That is precisely how they are being sold to us. The bill provides that the new powers are to be subjected to a test of “appropriateness” as set out in Section 8(1) of the 2018 Act. However what is approprate is not defined and is left to the discretion of ministers. The relevant section detailing the test of appropriateness in the 2018 Act reads:
“A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate to prevent, remedy or mitigate—
(a)any failure of retained EU law to operate effectively, or
(b)any other deficiency in retained EU law,
arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.”
See http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2018/16/section/8/enacted

Now I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t look like much of a test of appropriateness to me. Personally I might think it’s entirely appropriate that you give me all the cash in your wallet, and you might disagree, but if I’m the guy who gets to decide what’s appropriate then you’re giving me the cash in your wallet along with your hard won devolution settlement.

But we need not worry our pretty little untousled heads because our wunnerful British Government has sworn that it’s only going to use these far reaching powers for a very restricted set of purposes and only for a short term period. After all, Boris Johnson cares deeply about Scotland and he’s motivatedly solely by what is in our best interests. The Tory candidate for Angus Kirstene Hair told us so on BBC Question Time, and no one laughed at her at all. Oh no.

The problem however is that Boris Johnson and his government can’t be trusted for as far as a small child could throw them. Not even as far as the next ditch. We therefore are left with the word of the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove as our sole guarantee that the British Government would not use these wide ranging powers to achieve nakedly political objectives – such as for example the effective neutering of the powers of the Scottish Parliament.

We have already seen what happens when ministers twist the arm of Parliament to award themselves more powers. For example when the Government gave itself greater powers to take action against terrorist organisations, Gordon Brown used them to take action against Iceland because of the behaviour of Icelandic banks. We were told that the powers were only going to be used against the threat of ISIS and Al Qaeda, but then they were used against Bjork and some puffins. It’s a safe bet that this bunch of Conservatives will be more than willing to find excuses to extend the range and use of the powers that they’re so keen to award themselves.

The other problem is that once ministers have obtained these powers, they’re going to be very reluctant to give them up again. These are not people who can be trusted to willingly surrender powers that they have to make widespread changes to legislation and law without the scrutiny of Parliament. In the short period of time that he’s been Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has already shown the lengths that he will go to to avoid Parliamentary scrutiny.

Now, the Tories are not going to use this provision to abolish the Scottish Parliament. They may be venal, greedy, undemocratic, and hypocritical, but they’re not actually stupid. Well, some of them at any rate. They know that unilaterally abolishing the devolution settlement would create such a groundswell of anger in Scotland that we’d be independent a week later. What they are far more likely to do is to use this provision to whittle out the devolution settlement from within.

What’s especially concerning however is that this provision comes on top of the proposed changes that the Conservatives have already said that they want to make to the devolution settlement. Michael Gove has already spoken openly about the UK government spending in Scotland on devolved areas of comptence, and making sure that this is branded with a union flag. This will act as a Trojan horse, to gradually reduce the areas of competence of Holyrood. The Tories have never liked devolution, and they are no friends of Scottish political distinctiveness. Within a post-Brexit Britain there is even less place for Scotland to have different political priorities from the rest of the UK.

These developments represent another important material change in circumstances which justify another independence referendum. One of the key promises of the Better Together campaign in 2014 was that the powers of the Scottish Parliament would be enshrined in law and would be put beyond the ability of any British Government to alter without the express consent of Holyrood. We can see now that was a lie. The British Government is now quite openly declaring that it and it alone has the unilateral right to alter the devolution settlement as it sees fit. That’s not what Scotland was promised in 2014.

The current devolution settlement was approved by the people of Scotland in a referendum in 1997, by a considerably larger majority than Brexit was approved. But you don’t hear any Conservatives saying that the result of that referendum must be respected. You don’t hear any Conservatives saying that their promises and commitments to Scotland in 2014 must be respected. By attacking the devolution settlement, the Tories might like to tell themselves that they are making independence less likely, but all that they are really doing is destroying that union that they claim to love so much.

Get out and vote on 12 December and tell the Tories that they’re the ones who are not listening to what Scotland wants. It’s the Scotland Act, not the Boris Johnson Act.


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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


Saying Scotland matters

toryscottishpolicy
Ugh. British politics is a disgusting sewer. It’s just one sleazy accusation after another. It has only just begun, and already this is the most shambolic and the dirtiest election in living memory. We’ve got another five weeks of this, and it’s only going to get worse. These are the high standards of British democracy which opponents of independence tell us that Scotland can only hope to achieve because we’ve got Westminster to tell us what to do. A troop of monkeys throwing their shit at one another could do better. At least the monkeys don’t lie about one another.

Yesterday Boris Johnson visited the scene of the disastrous flooding in Yorkshire and Derby which has caused the death of a woman and inundated hundreds of homes and businesses. Johnson was criticised after saying that the flooding wasn’t a national emergency, but to be fair he ought to know. After all, he is a national emergency.

The day before he had graced the Caledonians with his presence. Or at least he’d had a carefully choreographed visit to a distillery in Moray where he was kept well away from any of the natives who hadn’t been pre-approved. Asked by a journalist from The Guardian why he wasn’t meeting any Scottish voters, he claimed that he was. After all, he pointed out, the Guardian journalist was a Scottish voter. This is the childish literalism that passes for wit and repartee with the Tories.

The Tories are however highly selective with their literalism. They insist that there cannot be another Scottish independence referendum because they choose to elevate the “once in a generation opportunity” rhetoric of some SNP leaders in 2014 into a cast iron manifesto commitment. So I have a deal to make with any Tory who wants to preach about the once in a generation thing. I’ll let you preach about it to me just as soon as Boris Johnson dies in that ditch. I seem to recall that was a firm and definite promise that he made. And if it’s a Labour supporter, then tell me why Jeremy Corbyn is going about the UK telling one and all that this general election is a once in a generation opportunity. If Labour doesn’t mean that it’s not going to contest another election for 20 years, then you too can lecture supporters of independence about “once in a generation”. It’s only fair. But then it seems that it’s only some bits of rhetoric that are supposed to be taken seriously, and that would be those that suit apologists for British nationalism.

What’s really happening with the once in a generation claim is that British nationalists are blaming the people of Scotland for believing them. If the supporters of Better Together had indeed come through with all the promises and commitments that they made in order to secure their victory in 2014, then they would indeed be quite justified in maintaining that this was a once in a generation decision. But they didn’t come through, did they. They told us that we could only remain a part of the EU by voting No. We’re being taken out of the EU. They told us that the powers of the Scottish parliament would be made permanent and no Westminster government could ever alter them without the express consent of Holyrood, yet they’re using the Brexit that Scotland never wanted as an excuse to unilaterally make fundamental changes to the devolution settlement that Scotland did want.

Now they’re telling the people of Scotland that all this is just tough, and we have no redress and no come back for their lies and deceit. The UK that we are living in is not the UK that was sold to Scotland in 2014, and there’s no chance of it coming close to being that UK for over a generation. The hypocrisy of the British nationalists, and the Conservatives in particular, is off the scale. Even their name, the Conservative and Unionist party, is a lie.

The most important development during the beginning of this election campaign is the abandonment of any pretence from the Conservatives that they are a democratic party. Boris Johnson and Jackson Carlaw have insisted that if the Conservatives form the British government after this election, it will not under any circumstances allow Scotland to hold another independence referendum. It doesn’t matter that the Scottish government already possesses a mandate for one. It doesn’t matter if Scotland returns a crushing majority of SNP MPs at this general election. It doesn’t matter if Scotland votes for a majority of pro-independence MSPs after the next Holyrood elections in 2021. It doesn’t matter what Scotland votes for, Scotland will get what the Conservatives tell it.

This is a profoundly anti-democratic position for a political party in a democracy to take. It is a position which rips up the understanding which has formed the basis of Scottish Unionism for generations. Unionism in Scotland always preached that Scotland was a willing and voluntary part of the UK, a constituent nation forming the UK, and that Scotland remained a part of the UK because that was the free democratic will of the Scottish people. Scotland, they told us, was not a colony. That was a position held by generations of British political leaders. Yet now the mask has slipped, and we see the true ugly face of British imperialism that was always just under the surface. Unionism as Scotland always understood it is dead. Scotland can no longer comfort itself with the myth of union.

If it doesn’t matter how Scotland votes, then Scotland is not in a union. If it doesn’t matter how Scotland votes, then the democratic deficit becomes a yawning chasm. If it doesn’t matter how Scotland votes, then Scotland is no longer a nation it’s merely a glorified county of Greater Englandshire.

Jeremy Corbyn is right about one thing. This general election really is a once in a generation opportunity. This is a vital opportunity for the people of Scotland to tell Westminster that we will not be treated with contempt, that we will not be taken for granted, not by the Tories, not by the Labour party. If Scotland doesn’t take full advantage of this general election to return a landslide for pro-independence MPs, the future for this country is bleak indeed. We will see our devolution settlement gutted out. We will be out of the EU, alone on an island with a right wing English nationalism in the ascendancy. We will see the reduction and abasement of Scotland to little more than a pretty tartan bauble which serves only to allow British nationalists to pretend that their nationalism is better than other nationalisms by virtue of not being nationalist at all. We will be sidelined and marginalised as the Tories rip up the post war settlement and destroy our employment and consumer rights. We will see the NHS destroyed. We will see the tattered remnants of a once comprehensive social security system binned – along with all those who depend on it. This election may be our last chance to shout loud and clear that Scotland does matter. This may be our last chance to say that there is a better way.

Get out and vote. Get out and say that Scotland matters.


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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


Dugcast – 8 November 2019

In this week’s edition of the dugcast, The National’s Stewart Ward and I chat about the independence rally in Glasgow last Saturday which was organised by The National. We talk about the general election, and how it’s been the most shambolic start to any general election in memory for Labour and the Tories. We also discuss last night’s edition of Question Time from Glasgow, and have the BBC actually been listening to complaints about the audience composition? And I make an offer to Tory MP but not for much longer Kristene Hair. One which I am quite sure that she’s going to ignore.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

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


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


Silence is consent

silenceisconsent
I was chatting with my neighbour Jane today. She was telling me that some of the women in her work loathe and detest Boris Johnson – don’t we all – but that they’re not motivated to vote because they think that all politicians are crap. Sadly that’s quite a widespread sentiment amongst working class people in places like the East End of Glasgow where Jane and I live. This area has one of the lowest turnouts for elections anywhere in Scotland. People here are cynical and disenchanted. For generations they’ve seen all sorts of politicians make all sorts of promises. The politicians come and go, but the poverty and deprivation that blight the East End of Glasgow stay with us.

So a lot of people just don’t vote. Maybe they think that voting only encourages the politicians. But that’s not true. Not voting encourages them even more, or at least it encourages some of them. Not voting isn’t the equal opportunities plague on all your houses message that some people think it is. The fact is that certain political parties benefit more from people not turning out to vote than others do, because the decision not to vote isn’t spread evenly across the population as a whole. Certain groups within the larger population are less likely to vote than others, and when members of those groups decide that they’re not going to vote because they’re unhappy with the entire political system, they’re only assisting those parties which benefit from the system as it is.

If you’re of the cynical persuasion, you believe that all political parties are rubbish, just ask yourself one question. Why do you think that the Conservatives have been introducing measures which make it harder to vote? Over recent years the Conservatives have introduced measures which mean that you can only register to vote if you supply a National Insurance number, if you provide some form of recognised ID. It’s well known that such measures have the effect of decreasing the voter registration and turn out of working class people, young people, ethnic minorities and migrant communities, and people who depend on social security. All of these groups are those which are less likely to vote Tory.

The Conservatives are quite happy when working class people don’t vote. Boris Johnson doesn’t lose any sleep over working class people who don’t bother to vote. He’s delighted when working class people don’t bother to vote. Him and his Tory pals are quite happy to encourage working class people not to vote, which is precisely why the Conservatives have been at the forefront of introducing measures which make it more difficult to vote.

The reason is because it’s the Tories who benefit when working class people don’t vote. Their own supporters with their upper middle class comfortable privileges will get out and vote to defend those privileges. Middle class older people, richer people, and the comfortable middle classes in rural constituencies are the groups within the population who are most likely to vote. They’re the groups who are most likely to vote Tory, the groups who are most likely to vote against Scottish independence, the groups who will support Brexit. They’re going to vote anyway, because they’re not as disenchanted with a political system that benefits the Conservative party. They don’t share your cynicism, because they know that the existing political system works to their advantage.

Now it has to be said right away that just because you’re an older person with a good pension it doesn’t automatically mean that you’re a right wing Daily Mail reader who hates immigrants and Scottish independence in equal measure. There are many older people who are committed to social democratic politics, social inclusion, and Scottish self-determination. However it remains a statistical fact that the older you are and the better off you are, then it becomes more likely that you will be right wing rather than left wing, and that you will oppose rather than support independence. It also becomes more likely that you will be registered to vote and that you will actually vote.

When the young, the working class, and the poor don’t register to vote, then the effect is that the influence of those right wing voters who are more likely to vote becomes greater. It means that those right wing voters, those Tory supporting smug people who do very well out of the existing system, will find it more likely that there’s enough of them to ensure that they can get a Conservative MP who represents their interests. Because the left wing, the working class, the young, and the poor haven’t bothered to vote. If there is a constituency with 10,000 voters, 4000 of them comfortable well off right wing Tories, and the other 6000 are low paid working class people, or people who rely on social security, and all of them hate the Tories, the Tories are not going to win if everyone bothers to vote. But if half of the Tory haters don’t bother to vote, then the Tories are going to win 4000 to 3000. It’s simple arithmetic. Then everyone in that constituency will have a Tory MP imposing Tory policies.

If you lose yourself in a comforting cynicism, telling yourself that you’re opting for the clever choice by not bothering to vote at all – you’re only doing the Tories’ job for them. If you don’t vote for a party that’s going to allow Scotland to decide its own future, Boris Johnson is going to take that as a sign that you’re quite happy for him to decide it for you. If you don’t vote, it’s not just that you don’t count. It’s not interpreted as a sign that you are so fed up that the political system needs to change. Your silence is taken as a sign that you’re quite happy with the way things are. The only way to change a political system that you think is rubbish is to vote for a party that’s going to allow you to change it.

In Scotland, that means voting for a party that supports another independence referendum. I’ve said this before, but it is worth repeating. The real reason why we need independence is because all politicians and all political parties need to be held to account. We need independence because we need to keep politicians close to us, so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet. We can do that in an independent Scotland.

The problems of Scotland have come about because we are ruled by politicians and political parties in Westminster who are remote from us and who we cannot hold to account. It doesn’t matter how Scotland votes, so they treat us with contempt. The solution to this problem is not to disengage and decide not to vote, to lose yourself in a comforting cynicism, because then you’re only making it less likely that things will ever change. You’re helping Boris Johnson to screw you over.

Vote, and make a difference. Vote, and tell Westminster that Scotland demands the right to decide its own future. Vote, because if you don’t Boris Johnson will take your silence as consent.


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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

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


True colours

truecolours
The Tories are in a mess. Admittedly that’s not news, but when they’ve finally got the general election that they’ve been begging for and are seeking to pose as the party of competent government, it’s not a good look.

It started on Sunday when Ross Thomson was forced to stand down as the Tory candidate for Aberdeen South after the local party chairman refused to sign his nomination papers. The refusal came following newspaper reports that the Labour MP for Glasgow North East Paul Sweeney had alleged that Ross had groped him in a Commons bar, an allegation which Ross Thomson denies. This was a separate incident from the previous allegation that Ross had groped some men in a Commons bar, an incident which he also denies, apparently claiming that he’d merely slipped and had attempted to grab something to stop himself from falling.

The local Tory party was hurriedly forced to find another candidate, although the speed with which they managed to publish election leaflets bearing the new candidate’s name – local councillor Douglas Lumsden – has led some to speculate that the local Conservative association had been planning a coup for some time. All is not well within the Aberdeen Tories. Not the least of which the fact that they have candidates who back Brexit in a city which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU.

The resignation/sacking delete as appropriate came as another Conservative candidate found themselves under attack after it came to light that she had said that people on benefits ought to be put down. Francesca O’Brien, who is the Tory candidate in the key Welsh marginal seat of Gower made the comment on Facebook in 2014. Writing about the Channel 4 poverty porn show Benefits Street, she commented, “Benefit Street .. anyone else watching this?? Wow, these people are unreal!!!” Then added, “My blood is boiling, these people need putting down.” So that’s nice. Tory, nuff said really. The malign spirit of Thatcher is alive and well. Unlike anything that passes for compassion or empathy in the Conservative party. Vote Tory, and you’re voting for institutionalised cruelty.

Then on Tuesday Jacob Rees Mogg said that if those who died in the Grenfell tragedy had shown more common sense and had left the building despite being told to stay by the authorities, more people would have survived. Because that’s what he’d have done. Like Francesca he was forced to make an abject apology for his insensitivity. Although if every Tory had to apologise every time one of them said or did something insensitive then we’d never hear anything else from them. Which would be nice. However what they’re apologising for isn’t being offensive, insensitive, and cruel. They’re apologising for having been caught out and in a damage limitation exercise in the hope that it won’t hurt their election prospects.

It’s pretty rich of Jacob Rees Mogg to say that other people should display common sense, since Jacob only knows what common sense is when his nanny tells him. Whenever I look for common sense, my first port of call is to turn for advice to a man who thought it was a good idea to call his son Sixtus. However if those poor people had attempted to leave the building and died in the attempt, Jacob would have been one of the first to condemn them for not obeying the orders of the authorities. Working class people should do what they’re told after all. It’s the Tory way.

Still, Jacob has been defended by the patron saint of gammon, fellow Tory MP Andrew Bridgen, whose sole claim to fame is that he is slightly taller than Mark Francois – but that doesn’t prevent him from being even lower. Andrew claimed that Jacob would have survived the fire due to his superior intellect and that’s why he ought to be running the country. After all he can quote Latin and discourse on the finer points of theology. It’s just a pity that he has less emotional intelligence than a small damp patch of mould on an abandoned mattress. Although if Jacob really was that clever you’d think that he’d pay a tailor to make suits for him that actually fit.

Then there are the peculiar circumstances surrounding the collapse of a rape trial in Wales. The Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns has denied that he knew anything about the role of a former aide in collapsing a trial for rape of a friend. The aide, Ross England – what is it with Tories called Ross? – had been strongly criticised by the judge in the trial after bringing up the subject of the victim’s sexual history despite having been ordered by the court not to. The trial collapsed as a result, and there had to be a retrial, during which the defendant was found guilty.

Cairns denied that he knew anything about this before it became public knowledge just a few days ago. However the BBC in Wales, who seem to believe in holding Conservatives to account (Pacific Quay, take note), published an email sent to Alun Cairns by another advisor over a year ago in which the advisor told the Welsh Secretary that Ross England was confident that the court would take no action against him for his behaviour. On Wednesday, Alun Cairn’s position became untenable and he resigned as Welsh Secretary although he’s still standing as a Tory candidate. However we’re in the middle of a General Election now, so it’s not like Alun’s resignation has any real meaning. But it looks good for the press and that’s all that matters. It’s a safe bet that if he gets reelected and the Tories win he’ll be back in government again. I refer the court of public opinion to the case of Gavin Williamson.

The Tory aptitude for venal incompetence just keeps giving this week. The Chancellor Sajid Javid has also come under criticism for spending taxpayers’ money in a nakedly political move. The Chancellor had instructed civil servants to assess nine of Labour’s policies and intended to publish the report. He was slapped down by the UK’s highest ranking civil servant Mark Sedwill, who told the Chancellor that such a move during an election campaign would be improper. The Tories have to have the fundamentals of democratic propriety explained to them. Although this doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone in Scotland who wants another independence referendum.

Yesterday the Tories found themselves being criticised again after a campaign video that they released online backfired. The video contained a heavily doctored version of an interview on Good Morning Britain in which Piers spit spit boo hiss Morgan asked Labour’s Keir Starmer about the party’s Brexit policy. Keir immediately gave a detailed and full response to the question, which you may or may not agree with, however the Tories then released a video showing Keir sit in dumbfounded silence for a few seconds after being asked the question by the slimy one, giving the entirely incorrect impression that he had no answer.

The Tory party chairman James Cleverly, who is living proof that nominative determinism is not a thing, then went on the BBC to defend the video. Essentially his argument was that it was “light hearted” and just a bit of banter. So that makes it OK then. Tory MP Johnny Mercer later said that the video had “inexplicably been doctored”. There was no inexplicable about it at all Johnny. Even Piers Morgan said that the way that the Conservatives had treated the interview was “misleading and unfair”, and he knows a lot about that sort of thing.

However the Conservatives haven’t merely failed to officially apologise, they’ve doubled down on attempts to spread the video on social media. In response to Piers Morgan’s criticisms, the Tory party tweeted a new version of video saying: “Fair point @piersmorgan. Is this version better?” The new version is almost identical to the first one. The only difference is that instead of showing Starmer blinking and licking his lips inMorgan’s question, it freezes the frame on his face and zooms in. What larks. Even being caught out in a blatant lies doesn’t stop them. They’re clearly taking their cue from the very top.

Today the master prat faller of the Tory party took to a podium in Downing Street to mark the official launch of the Conservative General Election campaign. As to be expected, he fnaugh fnaughed his way through a series of lies, not the least of which was the claim that the SNP and the Labour party have struck a deal to bring about another independence referendum next year. It’s a sign of things to come. This coming election is going to be the dirtiest, the most untruthful, and the nastiest in living memory. We have those Tories who keep going on about the divisions of the independence referendum while dog whistling to sectarian bigots to thank for it. The true colours of the Tory party are not red white and blue, they’re a nasty dark stain on public life.


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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


Finding ourselves

findingourselves
Since there’s fireworks going off all over the place and I have to stay indoors with the dog to make sure that he doesn’t freak out, I thought I might as well write another blog article. Dog owners don’t get to have a social life on the 5th of November. So Ginger’s misery is your gain. Actually he copes quite well with the noise, better than any other dog I’ve had, but he does get a bit worried and needs his daddy to be with him to provide reassurance that the nasty noises aren’t going to come and get him.

Anyway …

There was another article about Scottish independence in the Guardian. Only it wasn’t so much an article about Scottish independence as a not so thinly veiled warning to voters in the rest of the UK that they need to vote Labour because the Tories will break up the UK. The piece told readers that if Boris Johnson wins the General Election, Scottish independence becomes an inevitability – the only way to prevent it is to vote Labour. the logic appears to be that if people in England don’t vote for one party that the electorate in Scotland has rejected but instead vote for another party that the electorate in Scotland has rejected, we’re going to rethink this whole independence idea.

Funnily enough, if you open the pages of a Tory leaning newspaper, you’ll most likely find an article warning voters in the rest of the UK that they need to vote Conservative because Labour will break up the UK. Which means that it doesn’t really matter who voters in the rest of the UK vote for, Scottish independence is nailed on, it’s just that the two main UK parties disagree about who bears the responsibility for causing it.  Hint – you’re both equally to blame.

Reading the comments in English based newspapers on articles about Scottish independence are a recipe for frustration. It’s always the same old tropes – Spain will veto you, deficit, hard border, the EU doesn’t want you, how can you be independent if you want to join the EU which won’t let you in anyway, once in a generation, you don’t know what currency you’ll use but you’ll have to join the euro, leeching off English taxpayers, breaking up is hard to do, you hate the English, Scexit, defunct mediaeval artificial construct, but London didn’t want Brexit either, and on and bloody on. No matter how often or how detailed independence supporters give responses to these non-questions, the same old ignorance constantly rears its thick skull. It’s like being stuck in a time loop and being forced to watch reruns of Better Together’s Patronising Woman for all eternity. Only without her wit and charm. Now eat your cereal. Paying for it has contributed to Scotland’s deficit.

The fact is that, at least judging by the comments of those who are engaged enough with the issue to bother posting a reply in the online edition of a newspaper, most people in the rest of the UK simply haven’t got a clue what it is that drives the demand for independence in Scotland and are equally ignorant about the issues around the debate. The tectonic plates have been slowly shifting for decades, ever since the Scottish cultural renaissance which began in the 1970s, Brexit has merely sped the process up.

Many of the answers to the questions so earnestly posed by those posting on articles on sites like the Guardian are staring those posting them in the face. Given that both the Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party are hell bent on taking the UK out of the EU as quickly as possibly after next month’s General Election, the only answer to the question “When will an independent Scotland become an EU member?” that is remotely relevant is “A damn sight sooner than the rest of the UK.”

Since Jeremy Corbyn is currently stomping around the country telling those attending his election rallies that this General Election is a once in a generation chance to get a radical Labour government then there’s also an equally obvious answer to the ‘once in a generation’ claim. Can we presume then that if Corbyn loses this election that the Labour party will not stand in another General Election for another twenty years or so? Because unless the Labour party is proposing to dissolve itself if it loses this election and never to stand for Westminster again, we’d like to hear a lot less from Labour MPs in Scotland about how there shouldn’t be another indyref for a generation.

Mind you, we’ll be hearing a lot less from Labour MPs in Scotland after the General Election because there won’t be many of them left. Although to be honest we haven’t heard that much from them until now because except when Hugh Gaffney sticks his foot in it they’re a pretty invisible bunch. Martin Whitfield, Ged Killen, and Danielle Rowley have got an even lower public profile than Shadow Scotland Secretary Lesley Laird, which is a bit like being less famous than the vetinary nurse who expresses your dog’s anal glands. And unlike the Labour party in Scotland, when she makes an arse of things she’s doing it on purpose.

The reason that Scotland is heading for independence is because the union is and always was a great political pretence. The unitary state that told Scotland it was a union could only maintain the fiction of union as long as Scotland was politically on the same page as the rest of the UK, and that was the case for much of the 20th century. Scots could pretend to themselves that our country wasn’t a subordinate part of a Greater England, but an equal partner in a family of nations. But politically Scotland and England are increasingly divergent. When Scottish voting habits began to diverge from the rest of the UK in the 1970s, a development which was not unrelated to the renewed critical interest in Scottish culture which began in that decade, the fiction became increasingly difficult to maintain. Scotland could no longer pretend to itself that it helped to shape the UK, instead it became clear that Scotland gets what its much larger neighbour votes for. It became clear that Scotland isn’t a partner in forming the political priorities of the UK, the UK deforms Scotland.

That was bad enough when we were subjected to lengthy bouts of Conservative rule that Scotland didn’t vote for. Scottish voters could always comfort themselves with the hope that at the next General Election, or the one after that, we could once again get a Labour government and Scotland would again feel represented. Then Tony Blair happened and Scotland learned that the only way Labour could get into power in England was by dressing in Tory drag. However we did at least secure the prize of a Scottish Parliament, and that provided Scotland with an alternative political focus to Westminster. At long last, for the first time since 1707, Scotland was able to debate Scottish politics on Scottish terms.

Then there was the 2014 referendum, when people in Scotland thought that the question before them was should Scotland become an independent nation, or should it remain a part of the UK. Most believed the pleas of the anti-independence parties that Scotland was loved, was wanted, was needed.  They were prepared to give Westminster one final chance to prove itself.  But the Westminster parties weren’t dealing with the same question as the voters of Scotland, the question that Westminster thought Scotland was answering was “Should Scotland bugger off or shut up?”  Much to the shock of the anti-independence parties, Scotland has refused to shut up.  If we are indeed going to be a part of this construct that we were told is a union, then it bloody well ought to behave like a union.  Clearly, it has not.  At every turn, Scotland has been treated with contempt and disdain.

Brexit has been the final nail in the coffin of the great pretence. A new British government comes along at most after five years, but Brexit is forever. Brexit has concentrated minds in Scotland. It has made us realise that we can no longer pretend to ourselves that we live in a country which is a partner in a union. We’re a subordinate and marginalised region which must do what it is told.  We see Ireland within the EU and realise that there is indeed one nation in these islands which is an equal partner in a family of nations.  It’s not Scotland.  And we say to ourselves, we’ll have some of what they’re having.

The slowly shifting tectonic plates of Scottish politics and culture were always leading to this conclusion, but Brexit has created an earthquake which has brought the end about far sooner than it could otherwise have happened. It was however always going to happen anyway. That’s what those who write articles for the UK press blaming Labour or blaming the Tories never seem to grasp and which is beyond the ken of those who infest those newspapers’ comments sections. It’s not about England, and it never was. It was always about Scotland finding itself.


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