On the sofa with Theresa and Philip

Theresa May isn’t doing debates in her Me Myself I election. She’s carefully kept away from anyone who’s ever met a real life member of the public and who hasn’t had their brains surgically removed and replaced with a Maybotadulationometer. Strong and stable. Coalition of chaos. Bloody difficult woman. She certainly won’t stoop to anything so base and low as being subject to questioning from a hostile media, although to be fair a media that’s hostile to the Conservatives isn’t generally allowed within a 20 mile radius of her Sainted Theresaness. For Theresa has ascended to a level beyond the mere tawdry justification demanded of politicians of a lower calibre. She’s beyond Thatcherism. She’s evolved beyond Blairism. She needs no ism, just an is, and we lesser mortals should consider ourselves truly blessed that such a transcendent being has deigned to walk on the surface of the same planet that the rest of us occupy.

However the problem with robotically intoning soundbites as though they were nuggets of eternal wisdom while taking the mobility cars away from people who can’t walk and demanding that women prove that their third child is a result of rape is that people begin to suspect that you have all the warmth and humanity of a parasitic wasp which has injected its eggs into the paralysed body of a caterpillar so that its councillor larvae can devour it from within. In order to at least put up some sort of facade that she is in fact a human being, the Therezoid conceded to appear on the One Show sofa along with her faithful retainer and hedge fund manager. Because everyone can relate to the cosy domestic lives of a politician with all the compassion of Attila the Handbag with a migraine and her multimillionaire banker of a husband. The two of them painted their daily lives as a picture of cosy domesticity that hasn’t been witnessed since Lucrezia Borgia opened up her dungeons for a glossy spread in Hello magazine and gave a poison of the day recipe for its cookery pages.

There’s give and take in our relationship, said Philip as Theresa glared at Matt Baker and Alex Jones as she wondered about the best place to insert her ovipositor. Theresa gives the soundbites and I take them. It’s hard to be close and cosy when your wife’s idea of whispering sweet nothings in your ear consists of her repeating strong and stable strong and stable until your eardrums start to bleed, but Phil did his best. We’re a strong and stable couple because there’s boy’s jobs and girl’s jobs, said Theresa, helping him out in the least convincing attempt at simpering since Lizzie Bordie was caught with a bloody axe. Boy’s jobs are things like taking out the bins. Girl’s jobs are things like crushing all opposition, destroying democracy, and declaring war on France, Spain, and Germany.

Theresa has wanted to be Prime Minister since she joined the Shadow Cabinet, trilled Philip, glad to be allowed out for once. Theresa gave him an icy look which said that he’d be putting himself out along with the bins. “I don’t recognise that,” she replied when Matt and Alex asked if it was true that she had wanted to be Prime Minister since she was an icicle, because what she did recognise that admitting that she’s been a scheming careerist since she was old enough to say “kick that disabled person’s crutch away and deport that migrant” probably wasn’t the look she was going for on the One Show sofa.

Still, at least the One Show presenters were able to drag a commitment out of Theresa that while we are most certainly going to leave the EU, we won’t be leaving Eurovision. Although I’m not sure how many points we’ll get, said Theresa. The answer to that is of course null points, since the UK was never particularly popular in Europe, and now after Brexit and Theresa’s declaration that the EU is trying to prevent her from ascending to her rightful position as supreme goddess and She Who Must Be Obeyed it’s as popular as a salmonella infested bridie in a fine foods contest.

By now the interview was going like one of those disastrous encounters on that Channel 4 programme First Dates where the attendees clearly can’t abide one another but they know that they’re contractually obliged to get all the way through to the end of the dessert course before they can flee the scene. The leaden silence filled the studio like Ruth Davidson being asked to justify the rape clause at FMQs. Matt and Alex desperately tried to inject some life into the proceedings, but it was clear that the interview had as much life and vivacity as Theresa herself. Her cold dead eyes bored into Matt and Alex as she considered how long it would take her larvae to consume them from within.

Let’s talk about shoes! Theresa likes shoes. And Philip likes ties. And jackets. And spoons. And lampshades. And flock wallpaper. And oh god oh god shoot me now. Here we are in the 21st century and British politics have been reduced to Matt Baker and Alex Jones asking Theresa May about shoes on a programme that’s more commonly used by minor celebrities with a book, a movie, or a new album to tout. All Theresa has to tout is the death of accountability and the demise of democracy.

As an attempt to make a cold and robotic Prime Minister seem a bit more human, the interview was a dismal failure. No one who didn’t already have a fully functioning Maybotadulationometer in their skull was going to think any more kindly of Theresa after this non-interview than before it. As an interview it was as hard hitting as a teddy bear on valium. We learned nothing from it. What we already know is that Theresa May is on course to be the most loathed Prime Minister since Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher had her cultish acolytes too. What Thatcher did in Scotland was to transform a country which was pretty evenly divided on the question of devolution, and turn it into a country which overwhelmingly supported a Scottish Parliament. Theresa May will take a Scotland which is pretty evenly divided on the question of independence, and will turn it in a country which will vote for a sovereign Scottish state. That’s going to be May’s legacy, not interviews on the One Show that insult the intelligence of the voters.

This will be my last blog post until May 25th. I’m off to the USA for two weeks’ holiday – a trip which was booked long before Theresa’s Me Myself I election. Sam Miller (aka Macart) will be entertaining you in my absence and I’ll try and stick up a couple of other guest posts.  See yese in a fortnight!

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Unionism’s fatal illness

This weekend, the Sunday Herald reported that a number of those elected as representatives of the Conservatives and Labour in the council elections last week are members of the Orange Order. I’ve been told of a Unionist councillor in North Lanarkshire of a markedly Orange persuasion. There are certainly others. On social media over the weekend, an independence supporter unmasked a newly elected Conservative councillor as the owner of a notorious troll account which had been retweeting extreme right views.

In the weeks during the run up to the council elections there was a series of incidents in which suspicious packages designed to cause fear and alarm were sent to prominent SNP figures. The incidents are almost certainly the actions of a lone nutter, and didn’t receive much in the way of coverage in the media. But you could bet your rent or mortgage on the fact that had it been the other way about and it was Unionist parties receiving similarly suspicious packages seemingly from an independence supporter that it would have become a full scale national emergency and we’d be wall to wall in TV discussions and media reports about the cancer of terrorist violence lurking at the heart of the independence movement.

The response of Unionist supporters to these revelations has been to blame the SNP for the “Ulsterisation” of Scottish politics. It’s a bit like blaming black people for the Ku Klux Klan, or blaming gay people for gay-bashers, or indeed saying that sexual violence and abuse of women happens because the women are asking for it by wearing clothing that doesn’t cover them from head to foot. Although if they did do that then they’d be accused by much the same people of undermining Western civilisation by being overtly Muslim. It’s the common response of abusers the world over, whatever the abuse, blame the victims. It’s not the SNP, the Greens, or any other pro-independence party which is standing candidates who espouse the sectarianism of the Orange Order. It’s not the SNP, the Greens, or any other pro-independence party which is standing candidates who enthusiastically and approvingly retweet far right commentary. It’s not independence supporters who are lending their votes to such people.

This is not a disease of Scottish politics we’re talking about here, this is a disease of Unionism. The Unionist parties need to own up to this disease and to deal with it. They need to admit that they have a problem. They need to root out the bigots and fascists from within their own ranks. There’s not much sign of that happening, the footsoldiers of Unionism prefer to blame the SNP for every ill, including the ills that beset Unionism itself. If the SNP or another pro-independence party stood candidates of the calibre of some of those who were recently elected for Unionist parties, there would be a media outrage quicker than you could say, “There’s that Stephen Daisley on the doorstep with a photographer from the Daily Mail.”

As a case in point, an SNP candidate in Brechin was hounded by the Express newspaper for the crime of retweeting abusive tweets made by a Unionist troll, in an attempt to expose the troll’s behaviour. The newspaper ignored the troll entirely and focussed on the SNP candidate, implying in its hatchet job of a report that the offensive comments had originated with him. Yet actual offense originating from Unionist candidates is ignored and diminished, such as when a Moray publication loftily claimed the moral high ground by refusing to report on extreme right wing tweets sent by a local Conservative candidate.

Unionists blame the misbehaviour of their own parties’ representatives on the SNP. They’ve even coined a word for it, “Ulsterisation”, with the implication that the SNP is turning Scotland into Northern Ireland with all the violence and dislocation that entails. The term Ulsterisation applied to Scottish politics is deeply wrong on many levels. For starters it’s an insult to all those who died or were bereaved in the violence of the Troubles. It’s an insult to the democratic credentials of the Scottish people, and it’s an insult to the commitment to peaceful and legal campaigning that characterises the independence movement.

But it’s also profoundly wrong. The social divisions between nationalists and loyalists in Northern Ireland are tribal. They live in different areas. They go to different schools. They tell one another apart by different religions. They support different teams. A person’s status as a member of one community or the other is largely inherited, passed down through the generations for untold generations. There’s nothing remotely like that in Scotland. There are many Rangers fans who support independence. There are Celtic supporters who want Scotland to remain in the UK. Everyone has family members who have one opinion or another on Scotland’s constitutional divide, and opinions can and do shift.

It’s far easier for a Scottish person who previously supported the Union to shift their opinion and support independence than it is for a person from a Northern Irish loyalist background to come out as a supporter of Irish unity. And it’s equally easy for a person in Scotland to make the opposite political journey. The truth is that the term Ulsterisation is bandied about by Scottish Unionists as a deliberate ploy to discourage the disengaged from engaging with the question of Scotland’s constitutional position in the first place.

Unionism infantilises Scottish politics and Scotland. It turns Scotland into a non-country which isn’t important enough to be taken seriously. It turns Scotland into a region which isn’t capable of taking responsibility for itself. And Unionism infantilises itself too, just like a small child it lacks the moral capacity to take responsibility for its own actions. Unionists can’t admit that it’s Unionism which has a problem with sectarianism, bigotry and right wing extremism, because that means admitting that there is a problem with the contortions of North Britishness, it means admitting that supporting Britain and Britishness is a form of nationalism, and that would never do. But it’s Unionism which has an illness, and it’s a fatal one. The right wing nationalism of Unionism will be its end, and when it finally expires it will take the Union with it.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Every loser wins, at least when it’s a Tory in Scotland

If you wanted a lesson in why so many people are losing faith in the traditional media and instead turning to alternatives, you only need to have a wee look at the headlines in the Scottish press and television news in their over-excited attempts to make out that a party which had come a very distant second had in fact beaten a party which had won 155 more seats. Moreover that second party had based its entire campaign on defeating the larger party, and it failed to make any impression at all on the larger party’s share of the vote or the number of seats it won. Despite all that, the loser won, at least according to the Scottish press.

The whole point of the Single Transferrable Vote electoral system is that parties end up with a number of seats which is a fairly close approximation to their share of the popular vote. In last week’s council elections, the Conservatives ended up with just 22.5% of the available seats, which is a fairly accurate representation of the proportion of the vote which the Tories achieved. The Tories did make significant gains, but they did so at the expense of Labour, another party which had fought its entire campaign on the basis of defeating the SNP. The SNP itself sailed on unaffected by what was nothing more than a realignment of the Unionist vote.

The BBC did its best to paint Ruth Davidson’s Tories as the winners, lauding her party’s gains and insisting repeatedly that the SNP was seven seats down on its total from the previous council elections in 2012. In 2012 the SNP had won 425 council seats, in 2017 they won 431. In most universes where simple arithmetic is practised, which is clearly not a universe which includes Pacific Quay, 431 is a bigger number than 425. But the BBC weren’t comparing the SNP’s 2017 results with the actual results of the 2012 local elections, instead they decided to compare them with a “notional” election result which hadn’t taken place in our universe in 2012, it only took place in Pacific Quay’s special arithmetical universe.

This is a great new tactic which could be employed in lots of inventive ways. The Tories would be notionally the most popular politicians in Scotland if it wasn’t for the fact that over three quarters of the Scottish population wouldn’t pee on a Tory if they were on fire. Glasgow Labour notionally saved all its seats and made substantial gains in Frank McAveety’s head. Wullie Rennie is notionally capable and competent, at least when he’s driving the bus to Kelty. If I had a tank and a tendency to shout No! at every opportunity I’d notionally be Ruth Davidson. And if the BBC was funded by the Scottish public it would notionally not display such an obvious Unionist bias. Oh wait.

The onslaught on truth was so overwhelming that one confused guest on the BBC review of the papers actually thought that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow. Just in case you’re wondering, they didn’t. The Tories in Glasgow got eight seats on Glasgow council, which is eight too many, but it’s still only 9.4% of the total. There are 85 council seats in Glasgow. The fact that a sane and apparently reasonable woman thought, even briefly, that the Conservatives had taken Glasgow council has a great deal to do with the one sided and shamelessly biased way in which this election was reported.

For the interests of clarity, I’m not actually objecting to bias. I am biased. I am shamelessly and openly biased. Bias is what I do. I’m a supporter of Scottish independence, and a campaigner for Scottish independence, and what I write is reflected through that prism. But I make no bones about my bias. My bias is open and honest. I wear my bias on my sleeve, and that means that readers can interpret my words honestly and with clarity. What is insidious, what is objectionable, what is dishonest, is presenting a biased account of a news story and pretending that you are neutral, objective and unbiased.

Quite what anyone who voted Tory in Glasgow thought they were going to achieve by gaining a Conservative councillor is another question. Tell them that you think there ought to be more dog mess collection bins in your local park and they’ll send you a leaflet saying that dog crap sends a message to Nicola Sturgeon that Scotland doesn’t want another referendum. Tell them that you think there should be more regular litter collections and street cleaning and you’ll get a leaflet saying “Scotland said No and we meant it!” with a picture of a grinning Ruth Davidson sitting on a donkey. That would be the Tory councillor for Shettleston.

More seriously, just what use is a Tory councillor going to be to you if you approach them for help because you’ve had your benefits sanctioned or your mobility car has been taken away or you’re a young person who can’t afford accommodation because you’re no longer entitled to housing benefit. Those things happen because of Conservative policies, policies which assail and assault those very working class communities which returned a handful of Tory councillors. But hey, they have a fleg and can be proud of the royal family. And you can wrap yourself up in that fleg when you’re queueing on the doorstep of the foodbank you have to go to in order to feed your weans even though you’re in full time employment. Working class Scots voting Tory is like voting for amputation because you stubbed your toe.

I’m struggling to remember another election which was reported in such a shameless and nakedly partisan manner. Every loser wins as far as the British press is concerned, at least when that loser is a Scottish Tory. This is a foretaste of what we’re in for should the Tories make some small gains in Scotland in June’s General Election. It’s a sign of the desperation of the British establishment to avoid a second Scottish independence referendum, and the reason they are so desperate to avoid one is because they know that they’ll lose it. The hysteria with which the British press reacted to the Tories in Scotland making gains at the expense of the other main Unionist party is a sign of the weakness of the Unionist cause, and a sign of the strength of the independence movement.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Reasons to be cheerful

The cooncil election results are in, and we’ve learned a few things. Despite the weeping wailing and gnashing of teeth over Tory gains in places like Shettleston, Ferguslie Park and Ravenscraig, these are mostly things which are good for the longer term picture for the independence campaign.  Whatever the Tories and their pals in the press say, we’re still on course for another independence referendum, and we’re still on course to win it.

The first thing to consider is that turn out was shockingly low. It usually is in council elections in Scotland, and this election was overshadowed by the General Election next month. That means that local campaigns were drowned out in the noise of national campaigns – and UK wide campaigns at that. These are factors which would tend to benefit the Unionist result. Wall to wall coverage in the media of the Tories and Labour benefits those parties at the expense of others.

When there’s a very low turn out, there tends to be proportionately more older voters than there are in other elections.  The demographic most likely to go and vote, come hell or high water, are older people and that effect is magnified when overall turn out is low. Older voters are most likely to support Unionist parties, and most likely to vote Tory.  That means the council elections are likely to have seen a disproportionate Conservative vote.  Since these elections are conducted according to a strict proportional system, that means those votes get turned into seats in a way they wouldn’t necessarily in a first past the post election like the Westminster General Election next month.

Yes, yes, I know that not all older voters are dyed in the wool reactionaries who fly a fleg at the slightest provocation. I know that there are many older voters who support independence. So please do not fill up the comments section with an outraged explanation of how you’ve been an independence supporter since the 1960s and not everyone with a bus pass is a fan of Ruth Davidson. But it’s a statistical fact that the older you are, the more likely it is that you’ll be a supporter of the Union and the more likely it is that you’ll vote Conservative.  ‘More likely’ doesn’t mean ‘everyone’.

The low turn out means that the council election results are probably a high water mark for the Tories, and reports that they’ll make serious gains in Scotland in June’s General Election are likely not to come to pass. Sky News is forecasting that, on the basis of these council results, the SNP are likely to win 54 Westminster seats in the General Election.  That’s a very long way short of the 12 Tory gains that some opinion polls were forecasting.  54 SNP seats would be a pretty solid rejection of the Tory single issue no to indyref2 campaign. The same Sky News forecast also predicts a fairly modest number of gains for the Tories in the rest of the UK, giving Theresa May a majority of 48, considerably short of the 100 plus that was previously predicted. The big news from the rest of the UK is the total collapse of the Ukip vote. Although that’s not really surprising since the Conservatives have turned into Ukip. Theresa May is Nigel Farage in a designer trousers clown suit.  The odious Nigel has a legion of faults, but at least he can eat chips convincingly.  It’s just that he can’t do anything else convincingly.  Like win elections.

There are reports that there were an alarming high number of spoiled ballot papers. Not deliberately spoiled, but spoiled because people had marked them with an X instead of numbering their preferences. In Scotland we have different electoral systems for every set of elections. In local elections it’s the Single Transferrable Vote method, in Holyrood elections it’s the D’Hondt method with constituency votes topped up by a regional list vote, in European elections it’s a pure list vote, and in Westminster elections it’s first past the post. No wonder voters are confused. It would be far better if all elections in Scotland were conducted according to the same voting system, but that’s not going to happen until we get independence.

The news reports will of course focus on the gains made by the Tories, especially in wards which are traditionally working class. However it needs to be pointed out that some of these wards contain some well-off districts where there are going to be strong Tory votes. Glasgow Shettleston contains the comfortably middle class district of Mount Vernon.  The Tories in these areas have benefited from the collapse of Labour. But it’s also the case that the Conservatives are hoovering up the diehard loyalist working class vote, the people who will support the Union irrespective of how damaging the Union is to their job prospects, their economic interests, or the well-being of the communities in which they live.

Politics isn’t always rational or logical. We like to think that we make our decisions based on reason and fact, but we don’t.  Humans are an emotional species and very often we make our important decisions based on our feelings, then seek facts after the event to bolster a decision that’s been made on an essentially irrational basis. We all do this, irrespective of our political views.

So a lot of people vote with the heart, and there’s a significant number of people in Scotland whose hearts are red white and blue, and there are a number of those who when you scratch the red white and blue you’ll find orange underneath. But crucially, and this is the good news, they’re a minority. If the Tories are relying on the diehard Unionists in order to save the Union, they’ve already lost. Not only are diehard Unionists a minority, they’re an ageing minority whose numbers are not being replenished. The Tories can appeal to the staunch all they like, but they’ll never staunch support for the Union bleeding away.  It might be distressing to see Tories voted in in places like Shettleston, but the people who voted for them were never likely to vote for independence anyway.  Their votes are not the ones we need to win in order to win independence.

The Tory victories in this week’s council elections in Scotland are the last roar of a toothless and senescent British lion. Despite throwing everything into making this a campaign against another independence referendum, despite completely ignoring all other policies except opposition to a second independence vote, the Tories still could only come a very very distant second. Their gains were almost entirely at the expense of Labour, and they failed to make any significant dent in support for pro-independence parties despite a low turn out favouring a Tory pensioner vote. The SNP stayed more or less where they were and in fact made a few minor gains, while the Greens have also made a few gains, despite the fact that there was a very low turn out which traditionally favours the Conservatives.  It’s the best result in local elections that the SNP have ever had, which is a peculiar definition of the defeat that the Unionist press will be trying to spin this as.

The Tories threw everything they had into making this a referendum on a referendum, they’ve spent a lot of money, and though they won some local battles by taking votes from other Unionist parties, they still failed to win the wider war. All they’ve done is to position themselves as the party of the Union come what May. But we already knew that. If projections from these council elections bear up in June, the Tories will fail to make any great breakthroughs in Scotland in the General Election, and their single minded campaign to attract votes on the basis of opposing another independence referendum will have failed. The independence movement cannot be complacent, we’ve got a lot of work to do, we need to do everything we can to get the vote out in June, but it’s looking like another SNP landslide in the General Election.

The realignment of Scottish politics is continuing. Labour have declined into irrelevance, the Lib Dem resurgence failed dismally to resurge, and the choice now facing Scotland is between an outward looking internationalist social democratic Scotland, and an inward looking nostalgic right wing Tory Britain. That’s going to be a much easier fight for the independence movement to win than a fight against a Unionist campaign that’s headed by the Labour party and its pretence that there’s a progressive veneer on the reactionary British state. That’s a campaign that we can win, and that we will win. These council elections give the independence movement every reason to be cheerful.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

The land that we live in

We’re living in a land which has gone insane. We’re living in a land where people defend a government that demands that women give proof of rape in order to receive tax credits for a third child, a land which treats the decision to have children as a private investment and not as an investment in the future that benefits the public good. We’re living in a land which discourages low paid families from having children while at the same time demonising the immigration that low birth rates will demand in order to maintain the economy. We’re living in a land where it’s the poor who are condemned, not poverty. We’re living in a land where it’s considered normal that working people don’t earn enough to feed their families and have to resort to foodbanks while the richest who profit from their labour get ever richer. We’re living in a land where the refusal of the EU to concede to every demand of Theresa May is condemned as threats and bullying. We’re living in a land where all these cruel insanities and more are defended by otherwise rational people because they’re part and parcel of the precious Union. We’re living in a land where people defend the Union but don’t care what sort of Union they’re defending.

I am genuinely afraid for the future. Genuinely depressed about what’s in store. The bleak and dark decade and a half of Thatcher and the desolation and despair her government generated is seared in the memory. The memory of friends who succumbed to desperation and self-medicated on alcohol and drugs will always live in the heart, because they’re no longer living in life. They never survived the ravages of a Tory Britain that didn’t care whether they had a future or not. Friends who died in their 20s, died of despair, died of hopelessness, died because there was nothing to live for so they numbed themselves on heroin, sleeping pills, and tranquillisers in order to get through the long barren nights where there was no dawn to look forward to. I see the teenagers gather in the park, and laugh and shout the way that teenagers do, and wonder how many more of our young people will sacrifice themselves the same way, sacrificed on the altar of a government that’s strong and stable in its greed and inhumanity.

We live in a land where people who campaign peacefully and democratically for a better Scotland are decried in the same breath as terrorists who bomb and kill. We live in a land where those who do the decrying the British nationalists who glorify military might and who has a fringe of violent extremism of their own. We live in a land which demands unity but which offers no compromise or concessions to those who have a different opinion. We live in a land where the past is exhalted and lauded because the future offers nothing to welcome. We live in a land where there are no checks or balances, no written constitution, because strength and stability it said to come from a Prime Minister who can do as she pleases and whose power is unconstrained and unconfined. A Prime Minister whose grasp on reality is increasingly tenuous. A Prime Minister who refuses to be held to account, who speaks in soundbites and never answers questions. We’re living in a land which has gone insane.

The story of Britain is a story of war. It’s a state that defines itself by its conflicts, a state that substitutes military parades and royals in uniforms bearing medals they never earned for a sense of national purpose. Smart uniforms and shiny medals to cover the reality of blood, of death, of maiming. In the 310 years of Union there have been scarcely 70 years of peace. The United Kingdom has only ever been united in warfare. That’s the normality that Westminster offers. Those kids in the park can join the army, serve, be used up, then cast onto the streets. Britain views everything through a prism of violence. We won the war you know, and so Europe must be eternally grateful and give Britain everything it demands. Within days of triggering Article 50 to leave the EU, and the British right wing is once again threatening war, once again Britain is their plucky little island assailed by numerous enemies. Enemies that have been created due to the intransigence and arrogance of British nationalism. The only future we have to look forward to is a future of wars. It’s punching above our weight you know.

We live in a land which heaps wealth upon the rich and hoards power for the powerful. We live in a land where the Prime Minister turns herself into a dictator, elected on a skewed ballot, elected with wholesale fraud and contempt for the checks and balances of the electoral expenses system. We live in a land where the space for democracy is diminishing and decaying. We live in a land where the media doesn’t challenge but cheerleads. We live in Tory Britain. We live in a land whose government is strong in its avarice and stable in its vindictiveness. We live in a land which has gone insane.

I’m fed up with a Scotland that’s impoverished by successive Westminster governments. A Scotland which Westminster and its apologists demand must apologise for the poverty that Westminster has created. I’m fed up with a Scotland which cries in the wilderness and which is never heard. I’m fed up with a Scotland which is treated as a satrapy by a state which promised partnership. I’m fed up with a land which is blessed with an embarrassment of resources, of natural wealth, of human talent, being told that’s poor and incapable by a British state that looks upon it as a reservoir to be drained.

We could live in a land which has potential. We could live in a land which can offer a future to its people. We could live in a land where hope can flourish. We live in a land where increasingly the scales are falling from the eyes of the deceived and the downtrodden. We live in a land where we are learning that the way out of the insanity is to defeat the Tories. We live in a land which can be better than this. Let’s live in a better land. Let’s defeat the Tories.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

Not bloody difficult at all

In an attempt to extricate herself from that distant galaxy where her plans for Brexit were formulated, Theresa May is revelling in the label ‘bloody difficult woman’. Jean Claude Juncker is finding out how difficult I can be, gloated Theresa as she grimaced over a poke of chips. Poor Theresa, struggling to comprehend the complexities of the Brexit process, and struggling to comprehend the important difference between difficult and delusional. Theresa wants bloody difficult to define her like iron lady defined Thatcher. Bloody difficult, the Mrs Mack of politics as soap opera.

The line from Downing Street is that the reports in the press of a Prime Ministerial dinner with the President of the European Commission which made Abigail’s Party seem like an audience with the Pope are nothing more than Brussels gossip mongering. At this point it’s worthwhile to point out that just because your neighbour is a terrible gossip, who will waylay you in the close to regale you of all the details of how the neighbour along the road had a drunken party that the polis were called out to, it doesn’t mean that she’s a liar. The thing about gossip is that it’s often hurtful, and it’s most often hurtful when it’s true. Just as difficult is not a synonym for delusional, gossip is not a synonym for lie.

The Brussels gossip line was faithfully reported by the BBC. So let’s move on. Nothing to see here then. Instead we should all gossip about Diane Abbott getting mixed up with some figures in a radio interview. For our national broadcaster it’s far more important to have a giggle at the temporary mix up of a woman who isn’t going to get the job of Home Secretary and who had a wee brain fart when asked about the figures for a sensible policy to increase police numbers, than it is to dwell on the fact that the woman who heads the government of the UK and who it seems will continue to lead it after this election doesn’t have a clue about the fundamentals of her job and is about to lead the entire country off a Brexit precipice.

But that Diane eh. Couldn’t remember a number as she rushed into an interview. That makes her unfit for high office so it does. Theresa May’s inability to grasp the complexities and ramifications of Brexit, and leaving the President of the EU Commission gobsmacked, well that’s just her being strong and stable and being a bloody difficult woman.

In her speech after Parliament was officially dissolved on Wednesday, our chip-challenged Prime Minister stood outside Downing Street and channelled Raycip Erdogan. Brussels is trying to interfere in Britain’s election, she said. They’re telling lies about me. I’m not delusional at all. Oh no. Britain really is going to come out of the other side of Brexit into a magic fairy land of unicorns that lay golden eggs. How dare those foreigners express an opinion about me. Everything should be a secret except what I choose to tell you. That’s the strong and stable government that I stand for. They’re making threats against me by telling the British public that I live in another galaxy. How dare they. The only person in these Brexit negotiations who should be making threats is me. It’s an insult to Britain’s decision to leave the EU to say this government is in another galaxy. We’re really in a fruit and nut case.

So here we are in 2017, with a UK government and opposition neither of which are fit for purpose. Those broad shoulders of Britain that Scotland was told it relies on turn out not to bear any functioning brain. Labour is divided, tribal, more concerned with its internal struggles. But the incompetence of Labour is as nothing compared to the looming disaster represented by Theresa May’s Conservatives.

Theresa May is secretive, controlling and authoritarian and that’s deeply concerning in a country like the UK which lacks a written constitution and clear and well defined limits to the powers of the Prime Minister. This election was only called in the first place because Theresa May wants to wipe out what’s left of parliamentary opposition. We have a Prime Minister who genuinely believes that having parliamentary opposition and scrutiny is a bad thing, a Prime Minister who is not merely clueless about Brexit, she’s clueless about the nature of democracy too. She’s running this general election as a presidential campaign. She’s positioning herself as the new Thatcher. British democracy is at serious risk with Theresa May. She wants all power for herself. She won’t say what she’s going to do with it.

Now Theresa has gone off the deep end and has openly accused the EU of threatening Britain and attempting to interfere in the General Election.  When the British government encouraged every foreign leader and his dog to intervene in the Scottish referendum that was just fine and dandy.  But when a foreign leader’s comments which are unhelpful to Theresa are leaked, she reacts like an autocrat.  This is genuinely the kind of language we expect to hear from authoritarian leaders like Erdogan or Putin. It signals the end to the phoney Brexit war. Negotiations with the EU are going to be conducted in a nakedly hostile atmosphere. Whether it’s the arrogant ignorance typical of the British Conservatives, or whether it’s a deliberate Machiavellian strategy, Theresa May is creating the conditions where Britain could easily fall out of the EU without any deal at all. The worst of all possible Brexits, the nightmare scenario. And if that does come to pass she’ll blame the Germans, she’ll blame foreigners, and she will probably blame the Scots as well for undermining her at home.

In her speech she once again mentioned the “separatists” who want to divide the country. But the UK is being divided by Theresa and her Conservatives, a party that doesn’t understand the difference between difficult and delusion, or between democracy and majoritarianism. Theresa May’s idea of unity is for everyone who disagrees with her to shut up, and she called this General Election in order to give her a crushing parliamentary majority that will allow her to force everyone who doesn’t agree with her to shut up. But all she’s going to achieve is uniting the EU against her, and solidifying its opposition against her.

She is likely to achieve her majority. She’s even likely to make gains in Scotland as the Unionist cause coalesces around the Tories. But in the longer term Theresa May and all she represents signals the end of the Union and the final destruction of the post WW2 settlement. She’s destroying the liberal, public service oriented, outward looking Britain that Scotland was promised it could be a leading partner in. She offers us nothing, but demands our obedience and then cries separatist when we say no.

In the Financial Times on Wednesday it was reported that the exit cost to the UK of Brexit could reach €100 billion. Scotland’s share of that works out at approximately £1500 for every single person in the country. That’s what it’s going to cost each and every one of us to go down a path this country doesn’t want to go down. It’s a cost that will be added to Westminster’s Scottish deficit and used to tell us that we’re too poor.

For Scotland, we stand at the crossroads of two futures. Independence and making our own relationship with Europe and the rest of the world, or Theresa’s authoritarian Brexit Britain that lives in its soap opera delusions of Empire. That’s not a bloody difficult choice.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

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If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016

In a galaxy far, far, away

In a galaxy far far away, May the farce is trying to negotiate with people on planet Earth. Well, I say negotiate, but negotiation implies some sort of meeting of minds, or at least that the parties concerned have a basic understanding of the parameters of the subject at hand. Over the weekend the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung carried a report on the disastrous meeting last week between Theresa May and the Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission. It’s safe to say that Jean-Claude was distinctly unimpressed with Theresa’s grasp of the complexities of the Brexit talks ahead. Funnily enough, the president of the European Commission wasn’t swayed by Theresa’s repeated soundbites. Who saw that coming eh? Well OK, just about everyone.

The Brexit negotiations are going to be extremely complicated. Untangling the UK from the web of EU legislation is a bit like trying to get a fresh egg out of a scrambled egg. The report in the German press over the weekend made it clear that the British government doesn’t even begin to grasp the scale of the task ahead of it. Theresa May still fondly believes that Britain and the EU can “make a success” of Brexit, when from the perspective of the EU Brexit is by definition a failure, and the UK must come out of the other end of the negotiations as a third state which is worse off outside the EU. The British government sees Brexit as cosmetic surgery that will enhance the appearance of Britain, while the EU sees it as an amputation.

It’s a very simple logic which the British PM either refuses or is politically incapable of grasping. If the UK makes a success of Brexit, then there is no point to any country being a member of the EU. Therefore the EU has an existential interest in ensuring that whatever happens to the UK after Brexit, it’s left worse off than whatever the UK has enjoyed as a member. A successful Brexit on Theresa’s terms means an acknowledgement from the EU that there is no point to the EU. That’s why it’s not going to happen. In the negotiations to come, the EU will press its advantages, and the UK will come off badly bruised.

What we’ve got with the UK’s approach to Brexit is rather as though the EU is trying to solve the problem of String Theory, a theory in physics that when you get down to its fundamental level, reality consists of the interactions of one dimensional extended sub-atomic objects, a theory whose merits and demerits are debated and discussed with eye wateringly complex mathematics. And then the UK’s contribution to the debate is a ball of yarn from the wool shop and a knitting pattern for a tank top.

The UK for its part denies the reports in the German media and claims that the talks were friendly and constructive. Which is true. A pet cat playing with the UK’s ball of wool in a meeting of quantum physicists discussing String theory is having a wonderfully friendly and constructive time of it, but that doesn’t mean that it’s got the foggiest idea of what’s really going on or what’s at stake. The difference of course is that the pet cat is cute, whereas no one is going to tickle Boris Johnson behind the ear and let him sit on their lap. Although like the cat he does provoke an allergic reaction.

Theresa May told Juncker during the meeting that the UK has no legal obligation to settle its debts with the EU in order to leave the Union. Juncker replied that if that’s the case, then the EU has no incentive to agree a trade deal. Brexit isn’t like leaving a golf club, it’s like a divorce, and the UK needs to meet the financial commitments it signed up to while a member. It was an illustration of the political reality that if there is to be a meeting of minds, there needs to be a mind to meet. The UK doesn’t seem to have one, just an arrogant entitlement and a fistful of soundbites.

According to Juncker, it’s now more likely than not that Britain will crash out of the EU without any deal at all. He’s very pessimistic about the chances of reaching a deal with a British government which appears not to understand what’s going on and having to negotiate with a British Prime Minister who didn’t seem to be properly briefed on what is at stake and who has unrealistic expectations of what she can achieve. There’s zero chance that Theresa May is going to come out of the other end of this with a Brexit that’s good for Britain, although to be fair zero chance is pretty strong and stable. What was once unthinkable has now become the most likely outcome, a UK that leave the EU with no deal, and having to rely on World Trade Organisation rules while its economy is hampered by tariffs and queues build up at ports.

What is not at all surprising is that Theresa May reportedly told Juncker that she wanted the discussions between the EU and the UK to be kept secret, despite the fact that the EU needs to keep the European Parliament fully informed of the progress of the negotiations. An obsession with control and secrecy is typical of our authoritarian Prime Minister, an obsession which will only get worse if she is returned to power with a hugely increased majority. Theresa doesn’t do accountability. She wants to keep the talks secret so she can control their presentation of selected pieces of information to the public and tell us only the things she wants us to hear. You can make any disaster seem like a success if you don’t tell people the bad news.

A prime minister with an obsession with secrecy is a prime minister who doesn’t trust the people whom she’s asking to trust her. That’s a woman who doesn’t deserve to be elected. The future for the UK under Theresa May is frightening place. It just reinforces the message that Scotland needs to escape this nightmare as soon as we possibly can. The only way for Scotland to return to planet Earth is with independence.

If you’d like me and the dug to come and give a talk to your local group, email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com


Donate to the Dug This blog relies on your support and donations to keep going – I need to make a living, and have bills to pay. Clicking the donate button will allow you to make a payment directly to my Paypal account. You do not need a Paypal account yourself to make a donation. You can donate as little, or as much, as you want. Many thanks.

Donate Button

If you’d like to make a donation but don’t wish to use Paypal or have problems using the Paypal button, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com for details of alternative methods of donation.


frontcovervol3barkingvol2coverSigned copies of the Collected Yaps of the Wee Ginger Dug volumes 1 2 3 & 4 are available by emailing me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Price just £21.90 for two volumes plus P&P. Please state whether you want vols 1 & 2 or 3 & 4. You can also order signed copies of all four volumes for the special price of £40 plus £4 P&P within the UK.

Copies of Barking Up the Right Tree are available from my publisher Vagabond Voices at http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=1993 price just £7.95 plus P&P. The E-book of Barking Up the Right Tree is available for Kindle for just £4. Click here to purchase.

Get your copy of Barking Up the Right Tree Volume 2 by placing an order on the Vagabond Voices website. Just click the following link.

https://www.vagabondvoices.co.uk/bookshop-rants/barking-up-the-right-tree-2016