The future of democracy

futureofdemocracy
I’ve been watching the Supreme Court session on telly. It’s both dry and dull, and intensely gripping at the same time. This is a case with massive ramifications for the UK as whole and for Scotland’s place within it. It’s cannot be stressed enough just how important this case is, it will determine the nature of democracy within the UK. It will tell us whether Scotland’s democratic norms and traditions can be respected within the UK.

Brexiters are unhappy, although to be honest unhappiness is a base state with them. Never have a group of winners been so miserable since Better Together won the independence referendum. They are claiming that this case is all about stopping Brexit. But that’s not true. This case is all about stopping Brexit in the exact same way that a Scottish independence referendum is all about Scotland returning to EU membership. Certainly, those who pursue this case are hoping that it will strengthen their ability to prevent Brexit, just as many of those who seek Scottish independence hope that achieving independence will allow Scotland to join the EU in its own right. But fundamentally both those issues are about something far more important and far more profound. The trigger for this case is Brexit, the trigger for Scottish independence is Brexit. But Brexit, or rather preventing Brexit, is not the ultimate purpose.

This purpose of this case is about a much bigger and more important question than whether the UK is or is not a member of the EU. It’s about where sovereignty lies within the tattered assemblage of conventions, tradition, laws, and precedent which passes for the British constitution. Fundamentally it’s about British democracy itself. The UK has always preened itself on the quality of its democracy. Indeed the claim that democracy would be threatened if Scotland became independent, and that Scotland required the UK in order to guarantee the strength of our democratic institutions, was one of the core arguments of Better Together in 2014. However the way in which both this British Government and that of Theresa May have pursued Brexit have seriously called into question the strength of the UK’s democracy. Theresa May had to be dragged through the courts in order to establish the principle that it was Parliament and not her who could authorise Article 50. Boris Johnson has now been taken to court because he has prorogued Parliament with the transparent goal of blocking the functioning of Parliament because he is hell-bent on pursuing a no-deal Brexit for which there is no majority in the Commons.

This case is about determining where the ultimate seat of power rests within the UK. In effect, the position of the British Government is that the UK is an elective dictatorship in which a Prime Minister gains power on the basis of their party winning the largest number of seats at a General Election, and is then able to do pretty much as they please without subjecting themself to Parliamentary scrutiny. This Government believes that as the leader of the executive branch of government the Prime Minister has the right to avoid such scrutiny and to silence MPs when it’s convenient to whatever goal the Prime Minister may have in mind. This, they claim, is a matter of politics, not of law.

The plaintiffs in this case seek to establish that it’s the House of Commons which is the higher body, and the right of that body to question, scrutinise, and ultimately vote down the actions of the Prime Minister is paramount. They argue that the operation of that Parliament cannot be silenced by a Prime Minister merely because Parliament is likely to disagree with the executive. If that position were to be upheld by the Supreme Court, that would be the legitimisation of tyranny. Sovereignty in the UK rests with Parliament, not with the Prime Minister exercising the functions of the monarch. The Prime Minister is only able to exercise such functions in the first place because he or she commands a majority in the House. That is clearly not the case with this particular government and this particular prorogation.

The venom with which Brextremists have responded to this case is all the more ironic given that those who sought Brexit claimed that they were doing so in order to reestablish the sovereignty of the British Parliament. Yet now they are the ones arguing that the sovereignty of that parliament can be overruled by the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister who, let us not forget, does not command a majority in the House.

The inescapable fact here is that if the Prime Minister did possess an effective and working majority in the Commons, then there would have been no need for this case in the first place. It’s only because Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson doesn’t have a majority that he prorogued Parliament, because by doing so he was able to escape parliamentary scrutiny. We saw in the brief few days that Parliament was sitting just how disastrous parliamentary scrutiny proved for the Government. The Government lost six votes, lost control of parliamentary business, and saw Parliament pass a law obliging the Prime Minister to request an extension to Article 50 from the EU – something which he has repeatedly stated, and is still stating, that he will not do.

If the Supreme Court rules in favour of the Government, the highest court in the UK will have agreed that the Prime Minister does indeed have the right to silence MPs for as long as he or she pleases, for whatever reason suits. That will be a deeply alarming development for democracy in the UK and what passes for a British constitution, and will signal the further descent of the UK into authoritarianism. It will show that there are no constitutional safeguards in the UK to protect us from a Prime Minister who does not respect those traditions, conventions, and precedents which form a part of the constitution but which are not enshrined in law.

More than that, the Supreme Court in London will have overruled the highest court in Scotland. Now it’s important to stress here that the Scottish judges in the Court of Session were very clear in their ruling that they had not found that the Government’s action was illegal because of any peculiarities of Scots law. The principles upon which they ruled the prorogation to be illegal were, in the opinion of the Court of Session, equally applicable in the law in the rest of the UK. However the overruling of the highest court in Scotland on a matter of fundamental constitutional significance will appear to many as Scotland being overruled by England, and a demonstration that there is no place within the UK for Scottish constitutional traditions. It will further strengthen the democratic arguments for independence, as it will provide proof that it is only through independence that Scotland can protect itself from the actions of an authoritarian British government with little electoral support in Scotland.

On the other hand, if the Supreme Court upholds the ruling of the Court of Session, it will have found that the Prime Minister acted illegally in proroguing Parliament. Parliament will not be recalled, the Supreme Court will have found that the prorogation was null and of no legal effect and so Parliament will still be sitting. The Commons could return immediately. The first order of business of what will be an extremely angry House of Commons will be to take action against a Prime Minister who had illegally abused his power in an attempt to silence MPs. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson will either have to resign immediately, or the Commons will start proceedings to impeach him. The UK will be embroiled in the biggest constitutional crisis in living memory. This destroys any pretence that opponents of independence might have had of claiming that Scotland requires the security and stability of the UK.

Meanwhile those English nationalists who seek to pursue Brexit will be furious at what they will see as Scotland overruling England. The opposition within the Conservative party to Scottish independence will diminish further, as they will perceive Scotland as standing in the way of what England wants.

The stakes are extremely high. The very future of democracy in the UK is at stake. But whatever happens, the British state and its institutions have been weakened and discredited. This chaos is not what anyone voted No for in 2014. Yet even if the Supreme Court does rule against the Government, the forces of English nationalist populism that Brexit has unleashed will not go away. Ultimately, the only way in which Scotland can guarantee its democracy is through independence and a written constitution.


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


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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.

The blawflummer

biggirlsblouse

It’s keeping me awake, trying to remember which one of the Avengers movies it was where the Hulk was confronted by a tiny number of people booing and ran away and hid. I don’t recall the Hulk ever saying, “You won’t see me when I’m angry.” Still at least we all know now how to get rid of him. Just form a crowd of 50 protesters with some very polite placards. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson likes his macho insults, but after spending a week calling Jeremy Corbyn chicken, and referring to David Cameron as a big girl’s blouse, now we see that all his tough talk has less substance than a deflated airbag. He could be defeated in a cage wrestling contest by a girl guide who’s suffering from a bad case of narcolepsy.

He spent years plotting and scheming to get the top job in British politics, and now he’s achieved his lifelong dream the whole world can see how out of his depth he is. He’s only been in office for a few short months and he’s already the worst Prime Minister in British history. He is, to use a guid Scots word, a blawflummer, a self-important empty person who cajoles and deceives as he showboats his way through life. He’s a vacuous vanity who parasitises the body politic, and who tells himself that what he has is due to his immense talents, when it’s really all down to his his accent, his schooling and his connections. If he’d had the misfortune to have been born into a working class family in a council estate in Blackburn, he’d be that blawhard in the pub that everyone avoided, the serial wickdipper with a string of kids, who was always trying to interest everyone in his latest fantasy scheme that will go pear shaped just like all his schemes before. Give him a posh accent and an Eton education and he becomes a character. And that, in a nutshell, is the fundamental disgrace of the English class system.

The Luxembourg Prime Minister, Xavier Bettel, could barely disguise his utter frustration and anger with his British counterpart. He referred to the Brexit … situation. You just know that he wanted to say “shit”. It was obvious that he felt that the entire occasion was a waste of time, an attempt by LBJ to shift the blame for the failure of the talks to progress onto the EU. But for talks to progress, for talks even to take place, there has to be something to talk about. The UK isn’t proposing anything. There’s nothing to discuss, and the EU and the Luxembourg government have no intention of being bit players in LBJ’s games.

There are still those in the British government and media who are pretending both to themselves and to the rest of us that Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is serious about trying to get a Brexit deal negotiated with the EU. He can’t even negotiate a press conference with Luxembourg. You’d think that even the most resolutely BBC-balanced reporter would by this time be screaming that the government hasn’t got the slightest intention of getting a deal. It is blindingly obvious. But no. LBJ still gets away with his lies and deceit, and it takes a bunch of demonstrators in Luxembourg to show him up for the mendacious burst bag of wind that he is. He even makes the Lib Dems look consistent and principled.

There’s still nothing remotely approaching a serious proposal from Whitehall about how to deal with the Irish backstop. There’s still no details from the Government about how this alternative to the backstop could work in the real world that we actually live in, as opposed to the world in which Lyin’ Bastert Johnson thinks he’s channelling the Hulk. There’s still nothing about how exactly, in the vanishingly unlikely event that a deal was struck, that all the necessary legislation could get through Parliament within the extremely tight timetable created by Lyin’ Bastert Johnson’s decision to prorogue Parliament.

The Prime Minister is still insisting that he’s not going to ask for an extension to Article 50 as he is obliged to do by law. He’s still insisting that he’s not going to break the law. At least one of those things cannot be true. Both those things could be untrue. What is a logical impossibility is that both of those things can be true, except if LBJ has managed to get a hold of an entire set of Infinity Stones. And that’s about as likely as the British Prime Minister getting through a day without lying about something. The Government might as well tell us that it’s official British policy to build one of those brain melting structures from an Escher print. Which to be honest, isn’t actually that different from what LBJ is proposing with that bridge from Scotland to Ireland.

It is arrant nonsense to suggest that the Prime Minister can produce a square circle out of his Brexit hat, but that’s what we’re being led to believe. There is no wizzard wheeze which can achieve the mutually contradictory aims of not asking for an extension to Article 50, and not breaking the law. If there were we’d have heard it by now, the same as if there were a solution to the Irish backstop issue we’d have heard that by now. We have instead a Government which is treating us all like mugs.

Tomorrow the UK Supreme Court is due to start its hearing, and by the end of the week it will rule on whether it was the Scottish Court of Session or the English High Court which was correct in its judgement on the illegality or otherwise of LBJ’s prorogation of Parliament. This is British democracy itself which is on trial. If they find that the Scottish Court of Session was correct to rule that he’d broken the law, then we will be in the middle of possibly the greatest constitutional crisis since the UK was established in 1707. But if the judges find that the matter is political, that the law was not broken as the English High Court ruled, they will be giving LBJ or whatever unprincipled charlatans who succeed him carte blanche to ride roughshod over Parliament. British democracy will be dead. The only remedy for Scotland is to escape.


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


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.

Two faces aren’t enough for the Lib Dems

twofacedlibdems
There’s hypocrisy, and then there’s Lib Dem hypocrisy. Or rather, in the words of the party leader Jeauw Sweynsen, heypaughrezeey. The party’s hypocrisy is many layered, complex, and internally lacking in anything that might vaguely resemble consistency, even when you try and listen to it from the back of a room full of people yelling at one another. So it’s rather like their party leader’s accent in that regard.

The brand new policy announced by the Lib Dems at their conference is that if they win a majority at the General Election – no laughing at the back there – they’re going to revoke Article 50. Now you might think that was a perfectly consistent stance from them. After all, they’ve been against Brexit since day one. However the option for the UK to unilaterally revoke Article 50 only exists in the first place because Joanna Cherry and Alyn Smith of the SNP, Andy Wightman and Ross Greer of the Greens, and Catherine Stihler and David Martin of Labour, together with lawyer Jolyon Maugham QC the director of the Good Law Project, went to the time and trouble of taking the UK Government to court to prove the point. The case was necessary because the British Government was asserting loudly and insistently that no such right existed. It took a court ruling to prove the contrary.

Who is missing from that list of litigants? That’s right, the Lib Dems fearlessly decided not to take part in the court case. The opportunists of the Lib Dems are just happy benefit from other people’s work without giving them any credit for it.

However flip-flopping is nothing new for Jeauw Sweynsen. She’s fiercely opposed to Brexit nowadays. Brexit is a bad thing that has only created division and upset. Today she’s quoted saying that former Tory PM David Cameron cannot be forgiven for calling the EU referendum. “No, I don’t forgive David Cameron for calling the EU referendum,” she told Lib Dem conference delegates. However she was quite happy to open the whole Brexit can of worms back in 2008 when she supported a motion put to the Commons which if successful would have brought about a referendum on EU membership. Wullie Rennie, who at the time was MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, also supported the motion. Jeauw stood up in the chamber of parliament and told the House of Commons, “In fact, the Lib Dems would like a referendum on the major issue of in or out of Europe.” Presumably she’s managed to forgive herself and Wullie.

The plan now for the Lib Dems is to revoke Article 50 and cancel Brexit outright, without another referendum. There’s no need for another referendum to overturn the result of the first one. There’s no need to implement the result of the first referendum to see whether it delivers what the voters were promised. Just vote Lib Dem, and a majority Lib Dem government will cancel the whole thing even though the First Past the Post voting system of Westminster would theoretically allow them to form a majority government on as little as one third of the popular vote.

But all this hypocrisy, rich and multistoreyed as it is, palls into insignificance when we contrast the Lib Dems’ attitude to the EU referendum with their attitude to the Scottish independence referendum. Unlike the EU referendum the result of the Scottish referendum was actually implemented. Scotland remains a part of the UK. Yet the Lib Dems and the other anti-independence parties have dismally failed to deliver on the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland in 2014 in order to produce their winning result.

However not only do the Lib Dems refuse to concede that there is any need for another independence referendum, they have also stated that they would block one under all circumstances irrespective of whether voters in Scotland express a demand for one at the ballot box or not. The Lib Dems do not want to allow the electorate of Scotland to hold them and their pals in Better Together to account. The decision was made in 2014, and even if you were too young to vote then, you’re not going to be allowed to have a say on whether the UK that Scotland is a part of is really the UK that Scotland was told it was a part of.  That UK that was a member of the EU.  That UK that was a bastion of moderation, tolerance, and respect for minorities.  You’re not going to be allowed to decide whether that really is the same as the Brexit Britain immigrant bashing UK that Scotland has turned out to be a part of.  Not until Wullie Rennie shuffles off this mortal coil.

It doesn’t matter what the voters of Scotland actually want. Even if the voters of Scotland were to return 56 SNP MPs at the General Election to come. Even if the voters of Scotland were to elect an overwhelming majority of pro-independence MSPs in the next Holyrood elections, the Lib Dems say that they would still block any attempts to hold another independence referendum, indefinitely. They will do so even though they have but a fraction of the electoral support that pro-independence parties receive, and feel that they are perfectly justified in blocking the democratic will of the people of Scotland on the back of MPs from elsewhere in the UK. Yet this is a party which signed up to the Scottish Claim of Right, a document which states that the people of Scotland have the absolute right to determine the form of government best suited to their needs. Apparently there was a caveat to that document in invisible ink which said “as long as that’s OK with Wullie Rennie and Jeauw Sweynson.”

Meanwhile there are reports that the Lib Dems in Scotland are in talks with the Tories about ensuring that the SNP don’t get a “clean sweep” of Commons seats at the next General Election. Just like they did in 2010, the Lib Dems are quite happy to preach opposition to the Tories, and then collaborate with them.

Voters are allowed to change their mind on the decision to leave the EU, because that’s a decision that the Lib Dems don’t agree with. Voters aren’t allowed to change their minds on Scotland’s decision not to become independent, because that’s a decision that the Lib Dems do agree with. The only referendum results that need to be respected are those that the Lib Dems support.

“It’s about giving people a choice,” said Jeauw during an interview on Sky News on Monday. But only if that choice is one that the Lib Dems agree with. Two faces aren’t enough for them, the Lib Dems are neither liberal nor democratic.


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


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.

The incredible sulk

hulk
Hulk angry. Hulk ignore law. Hulk smash constitution. Hulk want no deal Brexit. Lyin Bastert Johnson has now compared himself to the Hulk, warning the EU that “Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country.” Then he went on to add that the angrier the Hulk got, the stronger he became. We can only assume that the Prime Minister of the UK has been exposed to a heavy dose of gammon radiation which has fried his brain. I must have missed that Avengers movie where the Hulk negotiated a deal on the Northern Irish border and made phytosanitary arrangements that the EU could accept.

Of course there are some important ways in which LBJ does resemble the Hulk. Neither of them can keep their trousers on, both are out of control mindless destructive forces, and both inhabit fantasies. That’s where the similarities end. The Hulk always ends up regreting the damage that he wreaked when he went on a rampage. LBJ only ever regrets things that he feels won’t further his career or inflate his ego.

It’s a crucial week for the exercise in political convenience that passes for the British constitution. On Tuesday the UK Supreme Court is due to start making its decision on the ruling of the Scottish Court of Session that the Government’s prorogation of Parliament was illegal. The English High Court has ruled that the matter is not within the competence of the courts, and it’s up to the UK Supreme Court to resolve the difference between the two rulings. Not even the Hulk can smash the two together in a way that doesn’t overrule one of them.

One of two things has to happen. Either the Supreme Court will uphold the ruling of the Court of Session, or it will uphold the ruling of the High Court. It has to uphold one of them. If it upholds the Court of Session ruling, then Parliament will have been found to have been prorogued illegally and will start sitting again immediately. The Prime Minister will have been found to have lied to the monarch – even though it’s improbable to think that the Queen didn’t know exactly what LBJ was up to – and he will either have to resign or he’ll be impeached by Parliament. There will be an almighty constitutional crisis. English nationalists will be outraged that Scotland has overruled England. It will increase the resentment amongst sections of the Conservative party south of the border, and reduce their resistance to another Scottish independence referendum.

Alternatively, the Supreme Court will uphold the High Court’s decision that the matter of prorogation is a political one which the courts should not get involved in. If that happens it’s a dreadful blow for the Scottish legal understanding of the constitution. The Supreme Court will have ruled that the Scottish constitutional tradition no longer has any influence in the UK. That will be devastating to those who claim that Scotland has a constitutional voice within the UK. It will in fact be a decision that the UK is simply, in legal terms, Greater England. Scots law and constitutional tradition will have been determined to be subordinate to that of England.

As was pointed out by TT Arvind, who is a professor of law at York University, https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/boris-johnson-brexit-supreme-court-scotland-parliament-suspend-a9104446.html there is an important difference between the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and its Scottish counterpart the Claim of Right which was passed by the Scottish Parliament that same year. Both these documents are regarded as being foundation stones of the constitution of the UK, one operational under English law, the other under Scots law, yet the English Bill of Rights simply declares that “parliaments ought to be held frequently”, whereas its Scottish counterpart goes significantly further saying “parliaments ought to be frequently called and allowed to sit”.

The reason that the Scots Claim of Right goes further in asserting the right of parliament than its English counterpart is because in 1640 the Scottish Parliament had already asserted its right to sit after it had been prorogued by the monarch. Charles I prorogued the Scottish Parliament, and in a typically Scottish way the Scottish Parliament went “aye, right”, and sat in defiance of the king. While Professor Arvind stresses that the Claim of Right does not create legally enforceable rights as a modern law might, it is strong evidence that the Scottish constitutional tradition expressly rejects the right of the monarch, or a Prime Minister exercising the royal prerogative on behalf of the monarch, to prorogue Parliament against the will of Parliament.

Professor Arvind also points out that the English High Court cited the Parliament Act of 1949 as evidence that parliament could be prorogued for a political purpose. However there is a significant difference between the prorogation of 1948 and that carried out by LBJ this year. In 1948 the Labour government, which commanded a majority in the Commons, wished to pursue a programme of nationalisation of important industries. However due to the Parliament Act of 1911, the House of Lords had the right to delay bills for three sessions of parliament over two years. The Government was concerned that the Lords would use this power in order to block the nationalisation programme. In order to get their programme through, the Government decided to alter the Parliament Act so that the Lords could only delay bills for two sessions over one year. Since the 1911 Act carried a legal obligation to a delay over three sessions before it could be altered, the Government got around this with an extraordinary short session of parliament in 1948, with a King’s Speech on 14 September 1948, and then proroguing Parliament just over a month later on 25 October. That fulfilled the requirement of the 1911 Act.

The crucial difference here is that the prorogation of 1948 was carried out by a Government which commanded a majority of 146 and the prorogation had the aim of ensuring that Parliament could carry out its business without that business being blocked or prevented by an unelected upper chamber. Labour was elected in the first general election after WW2 with a mandate to introduce nationalisation and the National Health Service. The deeply reactionary upper house, which at that time was composed solely of hereditary peers, was viscerally opposed to this. The workings of democracy were facilitated by the prorogation.

This year’s prorogation has the opposite aim, it is to ensure that a Government without a majority can escape the scrutiny of Parliament and drive through a policy for which it has no popular mandate. While the Government can argue that it has a mandate to deliver Brexit, it is a minority government and therefore cannot legitimately act as though it can ram through whatever policy it likes as if it did have a majority. Certainly the government has no explicit mandate to deliver whatever form of Brexit happens to suit the political purposes of Johnson and his cronies. The Hulk is the strongest force in any room, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s Government is not the strongest force in the chamber of the House of Commons. The purpose of this year’s prorogation is to frustrate the workings of democracy. It’s more incredible sulk than incredible hulk.

Many English commentators are predicting that the Supreme Court will uphold the ruling of the English High Court and overturn the Court of Session. It does seem that many of these commentators are basing their predictions on the casual metrocentric assumption that Scotland is subordinate to England, we shall have to wait and see what the Supreme Court decides. However if the Supreme Court does uphold the High Court ruling, it will be a deeply alarming development. They will have ruled that the British Government does indeed have the right to suspend Parliament in order to escape scrutiny. If that comes to pass, then independence becomes a necessity in order to defend Scottish democracy itself.


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


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.

Fantasy politics and potholes

Ugh. Not again. Can they not just print this speech off on something like one of those Tibetan prayer wheels? It comes round just as often and it would save us all the hassle of having to listen to it again. Yes, Labour in Scotland has dragged the Federalism Fairy out of her grave again. I’d say that they must be desperate, but that’s pretty much the base state with Labour in Scotland these days.

This time it was Labour’s Scottish branch office manager Ricardo Loofahscratcher who was making the promise of the abolition of the House of Lords and replacing it with a federal upper house in Westminster. That’s because Gordie Broon was off having his formaldehyde refilled and his pulled strings retightened. In his place Rembrant Lunchloser vomited up a word salad of federal, equality, socialist, redistribution, notice me notice oh please please god notice that we still exist. But these days even that former bastion of Labour fanboyery Reporting Scotland is just going through the motions, visiting Remington Lumpsqueezer upon us like you visit an embarrassing old relative who smells of cat pee.

As she was announcing the item, you could see the resignation in the BBC presenter’s eyes. Now go on, the eyes were saying, watch Renton Lacklustre on the tellybox, you know it makes him happy – my boss in BBC news management that is. Christ alone knows what makes Rowland Lagerspiller happy. It sure as hell isn’t his job. Royston Lubemilker gets embarrassed on a daily basis for the Labour party’s Scottish branch office you know. There he is, plodding away at the political coalface all day, telling everyone he’s going to be the next first minister, and no one can even remember his bloody name. I can’t even remember his name and I’m staring at an autocue. C’mon. Humour us. Do it for me, please. I didn’t ask for this. I’m just biding my time until I can get that gig on an afternoon game show. Afternoon game show presenters don’t have to deal with bloody cybernats telling you you’re biased every five minutes. It’s only for a couple of minutes for god’s sake, and then we’ll show you the fitba and tell you how bad the SNP are. OK?

The main point of the speech was purportedly to clear up Labour’s confused position on Brexit as we head into a General Election. As an exercise in futility it wasn’t lacking in pathos, like a small child trying to save its parents’ failing marriage, pleading with them about issues that were far beyond its ability to affect. Rowan Lardlover announced with all the confidence of a man on a mainline railway about to be smashed by a train that Labour would fight the election promising a new deal on Brexit, a better deal, and then the party would offer a referendum and would campaign to remain. That ought to clear everything up. At least I think that’s what he was promising. I can’t really be certain because I was paying him as much attention as the leadership of the Labour party in London does. Which is to say that I was contemplating whether there is any point in redecorating my living room before the post-Brexit apocalypse. This is a damn sight closer to clarity on Brexit than Labour ever manages.

A YouGov poll this week showed Labour in Scotland on less than 10% in the General Election which is coming soon. It was just a subsample so has a larger margin of error than full polls, but YouGov weights its Scottish subsamples correctly. The finding is further evidence to add to other polls which show that Labour is going to be lucky to hang on to the seats it regained in Scotland in the General Election in 2017. It will be goodbye to Paul Sweeney’s ego and its inverse proportionality to his usefulness, goodbye to Hugh the Gaffe Gaffney and his uncanny ability to see a mouth and put his foot in it, goodbye to wossername the Shadow Scottish Secretary of State who has less substance than an actual shadow, and goodbye to the other ones that even Rexford Lobbydosser would struggle to identify.

Still, at least none of them are Ross SNP Gain Thomson, who is in campaigning mode, hoping to keep his overwhelmingly remain voting seat by taking photos of potholes in his Conservative/Labour controlled local authority and posting them on social media. Ross is asking his constituents to contact him if they find a pothole that’s in need of filling, except for the obvious one where his brain ought to be. Anything, but anything, to act as a distraction from Ross’s gushing fanboy support of a Prime Minister who’s been found to be a liar by the highest court in Scotland, and who has been trashing democracy in pursuit of his career.

Ross chose to kick off his lemme fill in your pothole campaign by standing next to a potholed road where there was a very large red road sign saying ROAD CLOSED and a load of traffic cones. This is a clue to those of us with better observational skills than Ross that this potholed road is under repair and won’t be potholed much longer. The roadsign wasn’t even in Gaelic, so you think he might have noticed. But let’s not be unkind. Ross is quite right to be concerned about potholes, because he might fall into one and have nothing to grab onto to break his fall. He is so lacking in self-awareness that he never realised that the biggest issue in that particular street was him. Poor Ross, out of his depth in a pothole.

In any event, filling in potholes is not actually the responsibility of a Member of Parliament, but Ross is practising for after the election, when instead of going round the doors canvassing and taking photos of potholes for his Twitter account, he’ll be going round the doors asking people if they need their driveway asphalted. And to think that Ross was once touted as being destined for high office, although admittedly it was only ever Ross that was doing the touting.

It was pointed out to Ross by SNP MP Philipps Whitford that the entire UK is going to hell in a handcart – or at least it would be if it wasn’t stuck in a 30 mile long queue of lorries along the M20 in Kent – and that perhaps he might better spend his time doing something to protect Scotland from the disasters that his party is inflicting on us all instead of gawking at potholes. There’s a massive big pothole in the British constitution. Maybe Ross should fix that.

So that’s the state of the two largest UK parties in Scotland. Fantasy politics and potholes. Any confidence that Scotland might still have had in British politics died a little bit more this week – and not just just because of Lyin’ Bastert Johnson.


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


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.

Wee Ginger Dugcast – 13 September 2019

In this week’s edition of the Dugcast, The National’s editor Callum Baird and I discuss the fact that we’re going to be on the telly – no, really. This Wednesday and next Wednesday there’s a two part documentary series called The Press which will be shown on BBC 1 Scotland. The programme will follow The National and The Herald’s journalists over the course of a year. Me and dug make a brief appearance too.

We also discuss Friday 13th and the really unlucky week that Boris Johnson has had, the prorogation of Parliament, his loss of yet more votes in the Commons, and the stunning court victory of Joanna Cherry and others where the Court of Session ruled that suspending Parliament was illegal. We also discuss the surge in support for independence in Wales, what’s next for Brexit, how it impacts on support for independence, and John Bercow’s resignation as Speaker.


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


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.

Mendax, mendax, bracae in igne

liar

The fact that the Prime Minister of the UK was found by a Scottish court to have lied to the Queen has failed to make it to the front page of most British newspapers. Which is fair enough, it’s not the first time he’s lied to a woman, and it probably won’t be the last. More likely it’s not front page news because it was only a Scottish court that found that he’d lied, and not a really important proper English court. Strictly speaking of course, he didn’t lie to the Queen, and even if he had done that wouldn’t have been the most egregious outcome of his decision to press ahead with an illegal prorogation.

The Prime Minister didn’t go to the monarch to ask for a prorogation. That was Jacob Rees Mogg. However Jacob was acting as an agent of the Prime Minister, and so when it’s said that the Prime Minister didn’t lie to the head of state, it’s only because he got someone else to do the lying for him. He’s still responsible for the lie. And lying to Liz isn’t any worse in the cosmic scheme of things than lying to anyone else. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson lies all the time. He has a giveaway, a tell, which allows all of us to know exactly when he’s lying. You know he’s lying because his lips are moving.

The real thing that ought to be getting a suspiciously quiescent media up in arms is that the Prime Minister, the leader of the British Government, was prepared to lie in order to escape the scrutiny of the Commons on a policy which he knows he doesn’t have majority support for. He is only supposed to exercise the Royal Prerogative in the first place because he is meant to command a majority in the Commons. Yet he’s prorogued Parliament precisely because he doesn’t have such a majority. That’s the real outrage against democracy, not lying to the Queen – who in any case was probably relieved that it distracted from Prince Andrew’s dubious choice in friends. But lying to the Queen is a convenient shorthand for all that, because by making the request the way he did, in the manner in which he did, for the reasons he had, he was effectively lying to the Queen, as well as to everyone else.

The real scandal here is that he was able to do so. We can thank the Scottish courts for holding him to account, but should their ruling be overturned in the UK Supreme Court on Tuesday, British democracy will be in a very dark place. It would represent a very dangerous turn of events indeed. It would mean that any Prime Minister will be able to close down Parliament at any time, and for as long as he or she pleases, in order to escape the democratic scrutiny of the elected representatives of that people LBJ claims to be acting for. The Supreme Court would have given its assent to the transformation of the Prime Minister into a dictator.

Three judges in the highest Scottish court unanimously found that he had lied. It is a point of fact, a proven case, that he had lied even though the Government’s business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng is trying to impugn the Scotttish judiciary by saying that many people think judges are biased. Meanwhile on Channel 4 news the Brextremist MP Andrew Bridgen also attempted to impugn the neutrality of Scots law, complaining about the “liberal elite” and saying that there was a suspicion that political pressure had been put on the Scottish judges. He openly wondered why it was a Scottish court which had come to this decision, not an English one.

The Government’s spokesapologists, and Court Certified Lyin Bastert Johnson himself, are also saying that the High Court in England found in his favour and agreed with him. He’s even lying about that. The High Court in London didn’t find that he hadn’t lied. The High Court in London ruled that the matter was one that was not justiciable, which is a great word for a crossword meaning an issue which is within the remit of the court and one it is competent to make a ruling on. The High Court decided that the subject was a matter for the Commons, not the courts, and so didn’t engage with any of the evidence. What this means is that according to English law, the suspension of parliament by an overweening government is a matter that can only be dealt with by the parliament that the government has suspended. If the Supreme Court upholds that interpretation, then the UK doesn’t have a constitution, it has a Joseph Heller novel.

The High Court specifically didn’t voice any opinion on the truth or otherwise of the accusation that the Government had lied to the Head of State, the Commons, and the public. The only courts which engaged with the evidence were the Scottishs Courts and the highest court in Scotland, the Court of Session, ruled mendax mendax bracae in igne. That’s how you say liar liar pants on fire when you’re a judge, especially when you’re a judge making a ruling on a liar who fancies himself as a scholar of the Classics.

The lies took another twist today when it came to light that the Scottish Government’s copy of the Yellowhammer report that the British Goverrnment reluctantly published last night says that the warnings represent a “base scenario”, whereas the version released by Whitehall claims they are a worse case scenario. This contradicts what the British Government has told Parliament. Michael Gove is one of those who has told Parliament that Yellowhammer is a “worst case scenario”. Knowingly telling a lie to Parliament is holding Parliament in contempt. No wonder the Government doesn’t want the Commons to be in session.

There are reports that the true worst case scenario documents, believed to be called by the code name Black Swan, are not being released by the Government.  Former Tory MP Anna Soubry tweeted on Wednesday night that she had seen detailed documents.  In August Michael Gove mocked the existence of any such documents, claiming that Black Swan was a movie about a ballet dancer.

Now a new court case has been brought by Joanna Cherry, Jo Maugham, and the businessman Dale Vince who is funding the case. They have applied directly to the Court of Session to request it to make use of a power of the court called nobile officium, a power which is unique to Scots law. This is the power of the court to intervene directly in order to ensure that the law is fulfilled. The case will, if it is successful, mean that the clerk of a Scottish court could sign a letter to the EU requesting an extension to Article 50 if the Prime Minister refuses to obey the law and do so himself. Unlike the previous case, which was against the British Government, this latest case is against LBJ personally. It’s not clear what sanctions would be taken against the Prime Minister, we can but hope it’s to be strung up by his nobile officiums.

According to The Journal of the Law Society of Scotland (see  http://www.journalonline.co.uk/Magazine/60-12/1021064.aspx#.XXqE3mZ7nIU ) there are four conditions which must be met before the court will exercise the power of nobile officium. Firstly there should be some exceptional or unforeseen circumstances. Secondly, “there should be a sense of urgency, injustice or need justifying an extraordinary response from the court.” Thirdly, the petition must not contravene statutory intention, or be used in such a way as to extend the scope of a statutory provision, or to require a person to act contrary to their statutory duties. And fourthly, there should be no other remedy available to the petitioner. It remains to be seen whether the Court of Session believes all four of these conditions to have been met.

Whatever happens, whether in this latest court case by Joanna Cherry, or what happens in the UK Supreme Court on Tuesday, we’re in for a bumpy ride. And there we were thinking that once the House of Commons was suspended for five weeks that not much would be happening.


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


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.