The sigh of relief

Alex Salmond is going home a free man. He has been found not guilty on all charges except one which was found not proven, and another charge which was dropped by the prosecution earlier in the trial. Our faith in Scottish justice shines today and BBC Scotland’s Sarah Smith has gone into self-isolation. Was it just me or did she seem to be barely containing her displeasure as she reported the verdict?

The British nationalists were rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of Alex Salmond being handcuffed and sent to prison. All over the country, newspaper editors are having to bin their gleefully malicious headlines, and the British nationalist frothers on social media are having a collective meltdown. This wasn’t supposed to happen. This was supposed to be all their SNPbad Schadenfreude union flag Christmasses come at once, and it’s all been snatched away by the common sense of a Scottish jury.

It should go without saying that the cause of independence is greater than any one of us. We are all the rocks that support this movement. We are all the trees in the Great Caledonian Forest. It is also true that nothing that has happened today changes the contempt with which successive British governments and British politicians have treated Scotland. Even if Alex Salmond had been convicted on one or more of the charges he faced, Brexit would still be happening. Boris Johnson would still be fnaugh fnaughing his posh boy disdain for Scottish democracy. Johnson would still be in charge during a health crisis which he is so clearly incapable of rising to. All the reasons for independence would have remained exactly the same, and once the dust from the trial had settled, the dynamic driving support for independence would inevitably reassert itself.

But Alex Salmond is and will always be a giant amongst us. He’s the foundation upon which we build our path. He has, more than any other individual, wrested the cause of Scottish independence out of the jaws of hopelessness and marginalisation where it languished for generations and brought it squarely into the very centre of Scottish political debate and discussion. No more can it be ignored. No more can anyone, least of all a British nationalist, pretend that it’s not a serious prospect. Above all, that’s thanks to Alex Salmond. He is the individual who our opponents have striven to identify personally with the independence cause. Removing him from the picture under a cloud of disgrace would have given them a cheap and handy weapon with which to taunt us for years to come.

This verdict comes after two extensive investigations, one by the Scottish Goverment, and one by Police Scotland. Both have cleared Alex Salmond. There are now questions to be answered about what seems to have been a particularly vicious bout of party infighting which was allowed to get so spectacularly and dangerously out of hand. As he spoke to the media after his acquittal, Alex mentioned that there was evidence which he was not allowed to present in court, and that would come out when the time was appropriate. There will be scores to settle here, but we can now hope that this will not be a destructive process, but rather one which ensures that the SNP is a party which provides justice and fair treatment to those accused of wrongdoing.

There has been some disquiet for a while about the way in which the party seems to turn on its own. There has been disquiet for a while that the party seems to have lost its focus on the goal of independence in favour of the goal of governing a devolved administration well. There will be immense disquiet if it is proven that there are those within the SNP who were prepared to risk such a potentially disastrous outcome as the conviction of Alex Salmond for their personal ends within the party. Because if that is indeed true, then they were not merely prepared to see the personal destruction and humiliation of a former First Minister, they would also have been prepared to see the independence movement suffer a humiliating and deeply damaging reverse.

So yes, there are uncomfortable times ahead, but unlike the conviction of Alex Salmond on charges of sexual assault, these uncomfortable times will only lead to a stronger and more focussed SNP, an SNP which is better able to lead the independence movement. There are uncomfortable times ahead for Nicola Sturgeon, as questions will be asked about what she knew and when she knew it, all the more so since one of the statements she gave to Holyrood appears to be at variance with the evidence that was presented during the trial. There may be an innocent explanation, we shall have to wait and see. Those who were so keen to assert that Alex Salmond was innocent of wrongdoing before the investigation and the trial must also extend that presumption to Nicola Sturgeon. That’s doubly the case for those who claim to be zealous in their pursuit of independence. They would then be guilty of the exact same sin that they would convict Nicola Sturgeon of – allowing their personal agendas to damage the independence cause and giving our opponents a weapon with which to hurt us.

Under normal circumstances, this political story would be all that occupied the news. But as we all know these are not normal times. In his dignifed and statesman like comments to the press after his acquittal, Alex said that the tribulations which he has faced recently pall into insignificance compared to the life or death issues facing so many people as a result of the coronavirus epidemic. There will be a time for dealing with the fallout from his trial, and for dealing with the circumstances within the SNP which led to it. That time will come, but it is not now.

Today is a day for breathing a collective sigh of relief. One of the giants of the Scottish independence movement will now be able to focus his efforts on helping us toward that goal we all share. He will not be languishing in prison, with a conviction around his neck which would have destroyed his reputation. He will not be able to be used by our opponents as a stick with which to beat us, he will be one of the biggest sticks beating the drum for independence. For that, every supporter of independence is grateful.


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

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The lessons we learn

grocerydeliveries
Well it’s been confirmed. The UK government’s policy of herd immunity originated with Dominic Cummings, the Rasputin of the Conservative Party. According to the Sunday Time’s political editor Tim Shipman, who is extremely well connected with the uppermost levels of the Tories, the herd immunity strategy was first proposed by Cummings during a private meeting in Number 10 at the end of February. Shipman quotes those present as saying that the policy was, “herd immunity, protect the economy, and if that means some pensioners die, too bad.”

We are living with a British government which, as we feared and expected, wanted to prioritise the protection of financial interests before protecting the people. Many of us feared that the Tories would see the deaths of thousands of people as merely so much collateral damage in the real campaign this government is fighting, the campaign to ensure that the Richard Bransons, the Philip Greens, and the Jacob Rees Moggs of this world don’t see a dent in their bank accounts. We now know that those fears were not groundless. The virus doesn’t discriminate between rich and poor, but the British government does. That would be those rich people who already have the resources, money, and space to save themselves.

A month ago, when the British government should have seen the writing on the covid virus wall and should have been laying the groundwork for the public health campaign to come, Number 10 hired a eugenicist – Andrew Sabisky. When Johnson said that there was a view that the UK should take it on the chin, he meant your chin and my chin, he meant your grandmother’s chin, the chin of your neighbour with COPD. He didn’t mean his own chin. He didn’t mean the chin of Jacob Rees Mogg’s financial interests.

This is the clearest evidence possible that Scotland desperately needs the ability to make its own choices and to have governments which are directly accountable to the people of Scotland. Right now there’s very little that Scotland can do to remove from power and influence a man who, as we now know, was prepared to oversee the deaths of untold numbers of people for ideological reasons. Well, I say “little”. What I really mean is bugger all. We are still hostages to half baked theories of Dominic Cummings, the non-scientist who in his arrogance thinks that he understands science better than actual scientists, and the bumbling mumbling arrogance of Boris Johnson. But hey, thank god we got rid of those unelected bureaucrats in Brussels eh eh.

The British government issued a statement today in which it denies Shipman’s report in the strongest terms. Equally anonymous sources within Number 10 are claiming that the Sunday Times report is defamatory and contains invented quotes, even though Shipman makes it clear that he’s paraphrasing certain conversations, presumably in order to protect the anonymity of his sources. The problem that the British government has is that we all saw and heard Boris Johnson talk about herd immunity. We all saw and heard the British government’s change of tack. We all see and hear the confusion and mixed messages coming from the British government and its intense reluctance to impose the kind of strategies which we see in other European nations, or even more so those in East Asia which have a proven effectiveness in preventing the spread of the infection.

It took weeks, during which the virus gained a foothold amongst the population, before the British government saw the error of Cummings’ ways. The herd immunity strategy has now been abandoned, but it may be too late. Untold thousands of people have been needlessly put at risk because a more sensible strategy was not adopted sooner. Yet the UK is still behind. This is a failure of government which is many many orders of magnitude greater than the who knew what and when gossiping about the Alex Salmond trial that consumes certain sections of Scottish politics. This isn’t just about reputations. This is about life and death.

We see how Scotland is regarded as a bolt hole for better off people to come and self isolate themselves for the duration of this crisis, without a care or a thought about their impact upon fragile local communities. The news that a property company was advertising expensive cottages on Skye, that 30 camper vans were turned away from a campsite near Fort William, or the feature article in the Daily Mail extolling the glorious isolation of Jura tell us all we need to know about Scotland’s role in the eyes of this so called United Kingdom. Scotland already has the greatest inequality in land ownership in Europe. Our land is hoarded by the rich like so much toilet paper. We’re a resource to be exploited for the benefit of people who know nothing about us and who care even less.

These developments have led to calls from some for the Scottish government to adopt the same measures adopted by certain other European nations, and to close the border to everyone except those who live here. Irrespective of whether that’s a good idea or not, the point is that the Scottish government doesn’t have the legal authority to do so. The Scottish government cannot prevent the English gutter press telling its readers to consider Scotland as a bolt holt. The Scottish government can’t prevent people driving over the border in camper vans, intent on sitting out the epidemic in a rural part of Scotland where the health service and local grocery shops are already overstretched. We are, whether we like it or not, subject to the overarching policies of the British government. The Scottish government could certainly do more, and I have no doubt that it will over the coming days and weeks, but it has limited freedom of action.

For the time being the priority is to stay at home, to shop responsibly, to wash your hands, to think about the needs of others. This storm will pass. This trial will end. These tribulations will calm down. And when they do, that is the time for debating what sort of country we want this to be. Do we want this to be a country which cares for its citizens equally and without favour, or a country which prioritises the interests of the wealthy. Do we want to remain under the control of a government in Westminster which we cannot hold to account, or does a major health crisis teach us that the need for accountable government is the only way in which democracy can be defended. Scotland can only be safe, can only be a place which prioritises the needs of its citizens over the greed of the rich, when it has the full powers of an independent state. Sadly, this is a lesson that we’re learning the hard way.


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

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

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


The things that need to change

This emergency doesn't just mean that our own behaviour has to change. The wealthy and privileged and their enablers need to change too.
Pubs, clubs, restaurants, cinemas, and gyms have been closed. We’re getting close to a lock down situation similar to those already in force in Italy or Spain. Of course no one is happy about this. No one wants to have their freedom to move around and associate with friends and family be restricted in this way. Despite that, the great majority of people understand that it’s not only for their own good, even more it’s for the good of those who are at high risk, and most of all it’s for the good of our health services so that we can all help to ensure that the NHS can cope with those affected. Social distancing measures mean that it’s more likely that if we get infected ourselves then the NHS will be able to treat us appropriately because it won’t be overwhelmed.

As might have been expected, some people are far less happy than others. There’s SNP MSP and neighbour of mine, John Mason. John has been trending on social media, and whenever that happens you think “Oh God, what’s he said now.” Because usually it is indeed God related. It seems that John was upset that his local church had cancelled services in the meantime. John thinks worshippers should trust in Jesus instead of trusting in social distancing. God has issued a statement socially distancing Herself from John’s comment, adding,

If thou believest in Me, then surely thou shouldst also believe that I gave humanity the ability to develop medicines and an understanding of how epidemics spread for a bloody good reason. Thou shouldst also believe that thou hast a duty to show compassion and love to those less able to resist this disease than thee, and that means keeping thy distance from them. I can still the hear prayers thou makest from home. Ineffability does that for a deity. So canst thou not be a dick.

But the prize of arsehat of the week most assuredly goes to Brendan O’Neill the editor of the suspiciously well funded Spiked Online. Brendan regularly pops up on Sky News paper review in order to complain that the media isn’t Brexity enough. Brendan is deeply unhappy that the British Government has ordered the closure of pubs. In an article for the Spectator, the deliberately contrary Brendan opines that closing down pubs is a really dark and sinister move. It’s even darker and more sinister than having a virus hijack the cells of your body and tricking it into destroying your own lung tissue while making you a vector of infection for everyone around you – especially those people who might not have as robust an immune system as you do. But never mind that, Brendan demands the right to sit in Wetherspoons and complain about the EU. If you die from coronavirus you don’t need a social life, problem solved.

When the pubs are open, the A&E departments of our hospitals spend a lot of their time and energy dealing with drunk people who have either injured themselves or who have got into fights. While our hospitals are faced with a far more serious crisis, we could really do without expecting them to deal with stupid too.

It’s a pity that some folk don’t put as much importance on a social conscience as they do on a social life. What all these “it’s my right to decide for myself whether I take the risk” types overlook is that social distancing isn’t all about them. It’s about protecting those in the community who are at high risk. Brendan’s bewailment is the desperate cry of a man who sees the Zeitgeist turning against him. Because if there’s anything that this crisis has taught us it’s that we need experts and we definitely don’t need the kind of selfish and self interested populism and exceptionalism that brought us Brexit. While few of us would shed a tear if Brendan caught coronavirus due to his insistence that he has the right to go and sit in the pub with Stanley Johnson, we’d be a lot more upset about all the other people they’d infect in the process.

Although to be fair, the number of other people that Brendan is likely to infect in the pub is pretty low, since he’s the guy that sits at the bar pontificating about the EUSSR who everyone else tries to give as wide a berth as possible. Don’t be like Brendan, don’t ignore the science. Don’t let your reaction to this emergency be, “Yeah mate, mine’s a pint of selfish bastard.” That applies as much to social distancing as it does to hoarding. It applies to those companies like Britannia Hotels who have evicted their staff from a hotel in Aviemore, leaving them not only jobless but also homeless in the middle of this epidemic. Well there’s one hotel chain that I’ll be making sure never to book a room in ever again.

It also applies to the likes of Richard Branson who’s laid off most of Virgin’s aircrew and other staff, and Philip Green the owner of Topshop, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Wallis. The billionaire Philip Green laid off 80% of his shop staff without pay, just before the government announced that it would help pay the wages of staff who can’t work because of the emergency. Ordinary workers are shouldering the economic burden of this crisis because the obscenely wealthy refuse to lose even a tiny fraction of the wealth that they’ve got. That’s wealth which they couldn’t possibly spend over many lifetimes. That’s wealth that they’ve only accrued due to a taxation system that the wealthy find easy to avoid. Poor Richard and poor Philip are each down to their last £4 billion. Just to put that into some sort of perspective, a net worth of £4 billion means that you could spend £122,000 every single day for over 90 years. No one needs that kind of money.

Coronavirus is affecting every aspect of our lives. It’s been suggested that it might be necessary to delay the Scottish elections due next year to 2022 instead. Let’s hope that is not required, but it may yet come to that. When we do have elections, it’s going to be important not only that we vote for a party that’s going to give Scotland an independence referendum, we also need to vote for a party that understands the importance of ensuring that the extremely rich pull their weight and proportionally contribute to society as much as those of us who live pay cheque to pay cheque. The days when the poor need to shoulder the burden of the rich must end.

When we do have a referendum on Scotland’s future, the issue of social justice and fairness will be front and foremost, because we can be certain that once this emergency is over the British state and its wealthy backers will seek to return to business as usual. It’s not enough for the state to expect sacrifices from us, the state also needs to change. We need a country with a fair taxation system. We need a country that expects the wealthy to pull their weight. We need a country that has a transparently funded media and political parties. We need a country that belongs to the people, not the rich. We’ll only get that in an independent Scotland. The battlelines for the next referendum are already being drawn. It’s a referendum when we will show the selfish that their selfishness has consequences.

Update 7.30pm : I spoke too soon, Brendan O’Neill isn’t the biggest arsehat of the week.  He was pipped at the post by Scotland in Union’s very own frother Tom Gallagher.  Holyrood magazine’s editor Mandy Rhodes tweeted to the UK ambassador in Colombia for help after her son got trapped in the country.  He had a flight home which was cancelled by United Airlines without a refund.  United then told him that they’d found another flight for him, but wanted $4000 for the ticket.  On seeing Mandy’s plea, Tom Gallagher tweeted triumphantly “Britain’s envoy in Bogota is instructed by the SNP’s chief media cheerleader in Edinburgh to get her boy home. Little imagination required about Ms Rhodes’s options if Scotland now out of UK. #ZERO”

What the actual f*** is wrong with you Tom?  A mother is worried about her son trapped thousands of miles away, and you try to turn it into a cheap and jeering political point.  And a spurious point at that.  An independent Scotland would have its own diplomatic corps Tom.  Probably like the Irish one it would be considerably more helpful to citizens stranded abroad than the UK one.


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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


The grasping vacuum in Number 10

notboris
Sorry if you’ve been expecting a dugcast today. The National’s offices have gone into lockdown and only regular staff are allowed in the building. We’re looking at a way of recording the dugcast remotely, and fingers crossed we’ll have a solution in place by next week. We’re very keen to keep the dugcast going over this crisis, all the more so because it’s been nominated for a Scottish Press Award. Although probably the glittering awards ceremony will be postponed for the duration, meaning the dug will miss out on the opportunity to wear his formal evening dress dog collar.

But back to the shitshow that is the British state. Miss Hitler was trending on social media on Thursday, and my first thought was “God, what has Priti Patel done now?” However it turned out that the hashtag was because of a court case which saw the conviction of a right wing extremist on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation, although that is also a reasonable description of Priti Patel and the Conservative government.

What we are seeing during this crisis is sacrifice and compassion from ordinary people, like the shopkeepers in Stenhousemuir who made up coronavirus kits to hand out for free to local people, the people who are looking after their neighbours and relatives, the way in which the public are adopting social distancing measures well ahead of official advice.

On the other hand there’s the greed and self interest on the part of the rich and the powerful. Richard Branson has demanded that the public purse bails out the airline companies to the tune of £7.5 billion, while laying off thousands of Virgin Airways staff on no pay for the next eight weeks. Richard could pay every single one of those staff members £500 a week for the duration of the layoff out of his own pocket and he’d still have a personal fortune of considerably more than £4 billion. Sell your private island, Branson. Hedge fund companies are raking in millions from shorting stocks as the stock markets crash. Tim Martin, the Brextremist owner of the Wetherspoon pub chain has said that pubs shouldn’t be shut and insisted that the Brexit transition period must not be extended. There has hardly been any transmission of the virus within pubs, said Tim, who’s now an expert in epidemiology all of a sudden. And in a way that’s highly convenient for his financial interests too, who’d have thought it.

But the biggest contrast is in the way this crisis is being handled by Nicola Sturgeon and Boris Johnson. During the First Minister’s press briefings she exudes calm, confidence, and reassurance, she talks with clarity and focus. Boris Johnson bumbles, fumbles, stumbles, and fnaugh fnaughs his way through his press briefings, looking uncomfortable and out of his depth. He has appreciably aged as the magnitude of this crisis has dawned on him as he stands there, ignoring all the advice of the World Health Organisation because it goes against the grain of his burning desire to be the jolly good times Prime Minister that everyone loves. He’s a haunted and hollow figure, trying to fill the grasping vacuum of his soul with a tasteless quip about ventilators. The UK doesn’t need to follow the same advice that other countries are following, because we’re special, we’re British, we’re not like Johnny Foreigner. Because reasons. The inaction and confusion of this government is going to cost lives.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was all meant to be a bit of a lark, he’d tell a few jokes and lie his way through Brexit, basking in the adulation of the Tim Martins of this world. And now here he is, watching #BorisTheButcher trend on social media as he takes his girlfriend’s laptop and spills red wine on her sofa. He tells us that we’ll get over this in twelve weeks, but those are merely the empty words of an empty man, not a prediction grounded in any reality. You can’t bluff and lie your way out of a viral epidemic.

There are serious questions about the British government’s strategy. Today in her press conference Nicola Sturgeon again went further than the UK government, calling on people not to go to pubs, not to socialise, not to act as though things were normal. She announced an increase in testing for the virus. While the British government tries to employ its nudge theory to change public behaviour, she’s trying to nudge the British government into taking stronger action. She’s walking a tightrope, risking the cries of the right wing British nationalist press that she’s undermining the British government. It’s the perfect illustration of how Scotland remains constrained by the British state and desperately needs the ability to make its own choices and decisions. But that’s a lesson which can only be highlighted after this crisis is over. Meanwhile we’re stuck with the tousle haired bumbler in Number 10, exuding all the confidence of a vertigo sufferer on a precipice.

Compare and contrast, Nicola Sturgeon has announced the suspension of the independence campaign for the duration of the crisis. There have been the predictable howls of outrage from the indy ultras crying betrayal, but there is no realistic way in which we can successfully campaign for independence while people have issues of life and death and disease occupying their minds and all public activities are suspended. Meanwhile Boris Johnson has asserted that there will be no delays to Brexit, despite the suspension of trade deal negotiations. Michel Barnier has confirmed that he has the virus, while the UK’s chief negotiator is in self-isolation. The timetable for negotiating a trade deal was already alarmingly short, there’s now no possible way that a deal can be struck in time. Johnson is determined to press ahead, despite the damage that a no deal will do on top of the economic damage we’re already experiencing because of the epidemic, because unicorns, sunlit uplands, and English exceptionalism.

The only day job that matters right now for a senior politician is focussing on this epidemic. There’s only one politician out of the pair of them who is prioritising ideology over people’s lives and the public good. It’s not Nicola Sturgeon. Everything else has been cancelled or postponed because of coronavirus, but not Brexit even though the UK is experiencing not so much sunlit uplands as a plague village. The exceptionalism of the British state will destroy the UK. We can only hope and pray that it doesn’t take too many lives in the process.


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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


Don’t be like T-Rex

t-rex
It was only a few weeks ago that we entered the year of the rat, so it’s rather appropriate that it has started with a plague. And I’m fed up with doom, gloom, and general woebaggery. We can get back to the serious stuff tomorrow, but in the meantime here’s a blog post to make you laugh. Or not, as the case may be. Because as you know, laughter is the best medicine. Well actually it’s a vaccine, but that has to wait.

Social media was full of rumours yesterday that Prince Philip had died, again. The Royals were faced with the loss of the family member most notable only for his ability to embarrass them, but then Prince Andrew said “I’ve got this one covered.” The oldest member of the British royal family has died more often than the Scottish media’s hopes of finding a Saviour of the Union. So it’s RIP Prince Philip. He will be missed, except if you’re driving a Ford Kia past an intersection on the A149. Of course Philip hasn’t died, although social media keeps circulating rumours of his demise in the knowledge that eventually it will be right and then self-righteous conspiracy theorists on Twitter can tell us that they knew about it all along.

Prince Philip may not have been a victim of the coronavirus, but the Eurovision Song Contest was. Eurovision has met its Waterloo. See what I did there? Eurovision being cancelled is a very big deal, as it’s basically the Olympics for Gay People except without the melodrama, hype, hysteria and general self-importance usually associated with heteronormative sporting events. It is to your average gay person as the European Cup is to an English football fan, only with Slovenian drag queens dressed as air stewardesses and considerably less crying like a spoiled wee girlie because your team didn’t do very well.

The UK is now deprived of a chance to discover that it’s far less popular amongst Europeans than Belarus, a country which at least doesn’t pretend that it’s not a dictatorship with a ruling class who have one of the most pervasive personality cults in the world. Just get Philip Schofield to ask Prince Philip. Isn’t he maaaaaaaaahvellous. Although not when driving past an intersection on the A149.

Yesterday the coronavirus crisis got even more serious. You know it’s serious when even Jackson Carlaw forgoes a chance to blame Nicola Sturgeon for everything. This task has now been left to sections of the yes movement, who are pursuing it with far greater enthusiasm than the British nationalist press could ever manage. Because what all those people frantically searching the empty shelves of supermarkets are really looking for someone to talk to them about constitutional politics.

The British government has said that the UK is now at war with an invisible killer, which isn’t how I’d have expected the Tories to describe the perma-hiding Boris Johnson, but kudos for accuracy. My husband’s gym has just provided a more detailed and carefully thought through plan for dealing with the virus than the British government. Austria has banned all gatherings of more than five people, although the Austrian authorities have not specified if that number includes the ones imprisoned in the basement. Still, at least we don’t have Donald Trump in charge, who is the performing the equivalent of wondering aloud why everyone says we’re on a sinking ship when he’s sitting at the stern which is currently 200 feet in the air.

Many of us started off during this crisis not worrying too much after we heard that the virus doesn’t really affect the young, and then realising that we could remember when VHS was a cutting edge new technology.  Back when VHS tapes were cutting edge new technology, we worried a lot about how the world was going to end. We thought it would end in a nuclear flash and those of us who weren’t vaporised would envy those who were. Either that or it was going to be hordes of zombies. Now we know that it ends in people fighting one another in supermarkets over the last roll of toilet paper, although to be fair those people are difficult to distinguish from a zombie horde. It’s the shittiest episode of Black Mirror ever.

Everyone is stuck indoors. The telly is crap, unless you really love watching a news programme which is exactly like the beginning of every apocalypse movie ever made, with the government studiously ignoring scientific advice. This can only end in two ways. Either in a few months time there will be a few traumatised survivors picking their way through the ruins of Western Civilisation, marvelling at how clean the arses of all the victims are. Or the result of all this enforced intimacy with your significant other is that there’s going to be a baby boom in nine months time. That’s what happens when you snuggle up close to your loved one and whisper those three little words in their ear: “I bought toiletpaper.” This means that in 13 years time we’ll see a new generation to replace the Millenials and Generation Z, the Quaranteenagers. Millenials and Generation Z were described as digital natives. This new generation will be social distancing natives, but then teenagers always do that with their parents anyway so you won’t really notice any difference.

And finally, remember to look out for those worse off than yourself. Donate something to your local foodbank. Give some money to a charity looking after homeless people. Make sure that your elderly relatives and neighbours aren’t going short of anything. Use your time at home productively. Learn a language. Take up a musical instrument. Laugh a little. Laugh a lot. And spare a wee thought for those of us who have bad allergies. People who have permanently runny noses and a propensity to sneeze whenever we see a cat gif have turned into social pariahs. We’re shunned and isolated and no one wants to come anywhere near us. Which means that now I know what it feels like to be a Conservative in Scotland who supports Boris Johnson.

Stay well, and for the duration keep washing those hands. Remember the lesson of the dinosaurs. Tyrannosaurus rex had tiny little arms and couldn’t wash its hands. It’s now extinct. Don’t be like T-Rex.


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


The health of civil liberties

civilliberties
Remember when the only social isolation we needed to worry about was having a crappy blue passport that doesn’t allow you to live or work in other European countries? Ah those were the days. But Brexit hasn’t gone away. In news you may have missed – what with the toilet paper apocalypse and the supermarket running out of lettuce because eejits are panic buying vegetables with a shelf life of a couple of days – the British government has announced that it’s not going to delay Brexit despite the talks on the trade deal between the UK and the EU being cancelled due to the health crisis. Because sunlit uplands, 50p coins, and Big Ben bongs. By the way, I’ve never found any of those 50p Brexit coins in my change. It seems that they’re exactly like the benefits of Brexit. We were told that there was going to be loads of them, but no one has ever seen any.

Brexit is going to go ahead come what may because a small number of extremely wealthy and influential individuals are going to make a lot of money out of it, at the expense of the rest of us. But those extremely wealthy and influential individuals not only have the ear of the British government, they have it in their pocket. Shares in Brexit unicorn farms are still holding up despite the volatility of the markets.

British democracy was never very robust to begin with. It was always more show than substance, as much a pageant as the state opening of parliament, baubles and pseudo-mediaeval rituals covering up a sclerotic state without a written constitution where the powerful can write the rules to suit themselves in a parliament without any real checks and balances on the power of the Prime Minister. Democracy in the UK, more than in any other European democracy, rested upon the common sense and decency of politicians and their willingness to abide by a set of precedents and customs which were never codified or made the law. Without any real safeguards in place, British democracy was always more at risk than most of being perverted by big money and unscrupulous politicians who don’t hesitate to lie and deceive.

During a time of extraordinary crisis such as this, it’s reasonable that extraordinary measures are taken for the public good. No one can seriously object to steps which have a real effect on saving lives, preventing infections, and stopping the spread of a dangerous disease. These steps will have an immediate and significant impact upon our civil liberties. However given the fact that we have a British government led by chancers and charlatans who cannot be trusted, it’s equally reasonable to feel more than a little disquiet about the restrictions on civil liberties contained in the British Government’s new Coronavirus Bill. This bill, which is expected to pass into law by the end of this month, has the greatest impact on our civil liberties at any time since WW2.

The emergency Coronavirus Bill will be presented to the House of Commons on Thursdays. The powers contained within the new bill are wide ranging. They allow for the closure of ports and airports, giving the police to detain and isolate persons they believe to be infected, and giving the government the power to restrict or prohibit public gatherings. There will be new powers over funerals and registering deaths, as well as changes to the operations of courts. There will also be changes to mental health act provisions. You can read a summary of what the new bill proposes here : https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-bill-what-it-will-do/what-the-coronavirus-bill-will-do

It’s important to note that while a particular emergency may be unforeseen, the fact that emergencies will arise is not. There is already significant emergency legislation in force to deal with emergency situations, such as the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. It is therefore not necessarily the case that a new emergency requires the passing of a new law which will have a huge effect on civil rights and liberties. Laws passed as a knee jerk reaction to an immediate set of circumstances are invariably bad laws. The Civil Contingencies Act gives the government the legal authority to introduce emergency measures to combat an emergency situation. These measures are typically restricted to 30 days duration, unless Parliament votes to extend the period.

Incredibly, Boris Johnson is seeking greater emergency powers than were available to the British government during WW2. The emergency powers available to the British government during WW2 had to be renewed annually by Parliament. What the new coronavirus bill will do is to allow ministers to exercise emergency powers for up to two years instead of the 30 days permitted by the Civil Contingencies Act. Furthermore there is no longer any need for these powers to be scrutinised by parliament and for parliament to vote to renew them. It is to be left to the discretion of ministers to decide when the powers are no longer needed. Ministers could, should they see fit, keep the additional powers for the entire two year period even though the coronavirus crisis may have long passed.  Do you trust Priti Patel to give up extra power?

Given the widespread lack of trust in Boris Johnson and his government, it is all the more important that these special measures must be kept under constant review and scrutiny by our MPs and by panels of experts. They cannot be entrenched in such a way as to leave them to the discretion of British government ministers to revoke at some unspecified time in the future, or to keep in force long after the coronavirus crisis has passed. We are dealing with a government which has already shown its willingness sidestep parliamentary scrutiny, as Johnson did when he unlawfully prorogued Parliament in an attempt to force through his Brexit plans.

This Act will allow the executive to seize even more power for itself. We have seen with terrorism legislation that British governments are quite willing to cite emergencies as an excuse to strengthen the powers of the Prime Minister and to reduce the power of parliament and the ability of MPs to hold the executive to account. Once they have seized the power, they are highly reluctant to give it up again. We cannot allow Boris Johnson to use the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to grab and to keep power. At the very minimum, this bill should be amended so that the extra powers given to ministers and other agencies will expire as soon as the public health authorities announce that the coronavirus epidemic has been successfully dealt with.

The greatest challenge of the coronavirus crisis is not just to deal with the emergency, it’s also to ensure that how we deal with it now does not destroy our rights and liberties once we are on the other side of it. British democracy was always a fragile creature. We can’t afford to allow an unprincipled and untrustworthy Boris Johnson to shatter it.  To state the obvious yet again, this crisis merely highlights the need for a written constitution and the strict separation of powers between the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary.  It highlights the need for Scotland to have governments that the people of Scotland can hold to account.  There’s only one way that can happen.


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


Sowing the seeds

bailout
If you turned on your telly this Tuesday morning to watch ITV’s breakfast show, you’d have been given a reminder of why you’d be much better off staying in your kip and not watching breakfast television. Today on This Morning we were regaled by the sight of Vanessa Feltz and Boris Johnson’s dad Stanley giving us advice on the coronavirus. The British government thinks that it has been clear in its advice but judging from his appearance on the TV, the Prime Minister’s own father doesn’t seem to understand what his son’s government has been telling us. If this is what the British media thinks is a sensible and informative response to the epidemic, then we’re all doomed. This is quite literally a matter of life and death here, and the British media still can’t stop indulging itself in its addiction to click bait, controversy, and ‘colourful characters’. We’re all doomed.

The 79 year old Stanley Johnson remarked that if he has to go to the pub, of course he’ll go to the pub. In Stanley’s universe going to the pub is a necessity, along with telling the peasants to get orf his land and having no sympathy for homeless people. But then we shouldn’t really have been surprised by his performance, as the 79 year old Stanley Johnson thinks that the government’s advice to people over the age of 70 to reduce social interactions to the absolute essential minimum really means that he should go into a TV studio where dozens of people are working, in a building where hundreds of people are working. We’re all doomed.

More plausibly it’s just that Stanley thinks that official advice doesn’t apply to him, because he’s a special one by virtue of his class and wealth. And to be fair his son’s government does perform a sterling job at bolstering that impression. His son tells people not to go to pubs or restaurants, but doesn’t order pubs and restaurants to close, because then they’d be able to make insurance claims and that would damage the wealthy financial interests who support the Conservative party. Then Richard Branson asks for a bail out of £7.5 billion for the airline industry while he lays off 80% of his airline’s staff without pay so that he doesn’t have to sell off his private island. We’re all doomed.

You’d think that any advice given to Stanley Johnson should include telling him to stay away from the airwaves, and to shut the feck up – just in general. Stanley Johnson showed himself up to be an absolute rager, an entitled, pompous, irresponsible buffon who has never known hardship and who is seemingly incapable of putting himself in the shoes of another and who is oblivious to the harm he leaves in his wake. This remember, is the guy who said that the British public was too stupid to be able to spell Pinocchio. Still, at least we now know where his son gets it from. Fresh from giving us Nigel Farage as an expert on epidemiology, now the British media gives us Stanley Johnson as the man to listen to for advice on self-isolation. We’re all doomed.

Then after allowing Stanley Johnson to tell people that the government’s advice shouldn’t apply to them if they don’t feel like it, Philip Schofield bemoaned the amount of misinformation that’s going about. Have I mentioned that we’re all doomed?

The big problem that the British government has during this health crisis is that it is led by a man who is most famous for lying. Boris Johnson has never knowingly told the truth when he’s able to get away with a self-serving lie. Indeed much of the time he doesn’t even care if people know he’s lying, because he knows that there’s nothing much anyone can do about it. Yet now he needs us to trust him. It’s hardly surprising that people are taking things into their own hands and are adopting social isolation measures irrespective of what the British government tells them. Except for Stanley Johnson of course.

This emergency has already started to have a serious impact on everyone’s life. It’s going to get worse before it gets better, yet already we’ve seen a breakdown in trust between the government and the media on one hand, and the public on the other. When that happens, it’s the responsibility of the government and the media to restore trust.

This crisis is a generational event. It’s no exaggeration to say that it’s going to change everything. The world will never be the same as it was, our behaviour may have to change permanently, and that in turn will have an effect on our attitudes to government and to the British state. It will show that in a time of crisis, the absolute worst people to deal with it are shallow populists of the ilk of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage, or Boris Johnson. This is a time when we need experts, we need hard facts and solid information.

We don’t need lies, spin, and the self-interest of an unaccountable political class who will seek to use this crisis to enrich themselves and entrench their power. We don’t need a media which peddles shlock and gossip, which pumps our TV screens and newspapers full of vacuous celebrities who have nothing to contribute beyond their ability to stock up controversy. We don’t need a BBC that tells us that the UK’s government’s advice has changed because “the science has changed” when in fact what’s happened is that the UK government has belatedly realised that its modelling was wrong. We don’t need a Foreign Secretary who doesn’t know where Lima is, who tells us that he can’t organise flights to repatriate UK citizens stranded abroad because of the expense, while his own government cheerfully bails out banks and rewards the wealthy with tax breaks. We don’t need multi-billion pound funding for businesses while doing nothing about outlawing evictions or mortgage foreclosures for the duration of this crisis, or giving local authorities the power to take take over empty homes so that we can get homeless people off the streets.

This crisis will teach us that in this global age it’s more important than ever that our political class can be held to account. It’s more important than ever that we have a media which has public information as its prime priority and which doesn’t seek a false balance by giving equal time to charlatans as it does to fact. That’s precisely what’s not possible within the sclerotic structures of a creaking British state which is incapable of reforming itself.

This may not be the time for actively campaigning for independence, but this is most certainly the time during which the seeds are being sown for the campaign which is to come. It’s a campaign that will be fought so that we can assert that the country belongs to the people, and the government is our servant. It’s a campaign that will be fought on the vital importance of ensuring that the banks help to bail out the people after the people have bailed out the banks. It’s a campaign that will be fought on the vital importance of ensuring that the people are protected before the financial interests of the rich and the powerful. It’s a campaign that will be fought on the vital importance of Scotland being able to have a government that the people of this country can hold to account.


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