The cards are in Scotland’s hands

Oooh Theresa’s not best pleased. And neither is Ruthie, Kezia, and a whole load of Unionist commentators. So that’s a result then. Project Fear is getting off to an early start. Sky News gave air space to that well known expert on Scottish affairs, Nigel Farage, who predictably railed against Nicola Sturgeon and pro-European Scotland as being one of the minor demons of Be’elzebub. It’s not clear why Sky News felt the need to give us Nigel’s view on Scottish matters, as there are more people in Scotland who believe that we’ve been visited by reptilian extraterrestrials than support Nigel’s party. Although to be honest, when Nige does make one of his rare forays north of the border to be heckled in an Edinburgh pub, it’s not inaccurate to describe it as a visit from a reptilian extraterrestrial. It is widely believed that Ukip’s sole Scottish representative David Coburn has a bit of a nerve complaining about immigration when he himself comes from Alpha Centauri.

The dust is starting to settle after the surprise announcement that the Scottish government is going to hold a second independence referendum. According to some reports in the Unionist press, Theresa May might decide to block another vote. I really hope that she does. There’s nothing that Scots love more than an arrogant middle class Tory who’s channelling Maggie Thatcher telling them what they’re not allowed to do and loftily informing them that she will decide on their future, not them. That’s a guaranteed means of boosting the Yes vote. Scots doesn’t have the word thrawn for nothing.

It’s more likely that Theresa will try to prevent another referendum until after Brexit is concluded and Scotland is out of the EU along with the rest of the UK. Scotland holding a referendum while the Brexit process is still going on would be a nightmare for her. Which is all the more reason why Scotland needs to do it then, and not just because it’s going to annoy Theresa, although there is a certain satisfaction to that. It’s not the business of the Scottish government to hold a vote on Scotland’s future when it’s convenient for a Tory Prime Minister who enjoys little support in Scotland. It’s the business of the Scottish government to hold a vote on Scotland’s future when it’s in the best interests of Scotland, and it’s clearly in Scotland’s best interests to have that vote at a time when it’s clear what sort of Brexit deal the UK is in for, but before we’ve been taken out of the EU against our will.

Theresa doesn’t want a Scottish referendum when she’s got her tiny Trumpesque hands full of Brexmess. It’s not just that it means diverting scarce time, energy and resources to fighting a battle in Scotland when she’s fully occupied trying to fend off the entire EU. It also means that she won’t be able to use Scotland’s resources and assets as bargaining chips in her EU negotiations. The EU isn’t going to be very impressed by a Westminster attempt to sell out Scottish fishermen in return for access to the EU for the financial sector in the City of London if they know that it’s quite likely that Scottish fishermen won’t be Theresa’s to sell out by the time negotiations are concluded.

She doesn’t want a Scottish referendum before Scotland has formally left the EU because it means that European citizens living in Scotland will get a vote. After the UK has left the EU, they won’t get a say on their own future or the future of the country in which they’ve come to live and with which they’ve come to identify. That’s a body of almost 200,000 New Scots who are most likely going to break heavily for Yes who will be unable to vote, and that makes it harder for the Yes campaign to reach a majority.

Westminster’s attempts to dictate the timing of the referendum must be resisted. Thankfully they can be. Theresa’s hand is nowhere near as strong as the Unionist media would like to present it as being. We’re told constantly that Westminster’s permission is required for a second referendum to be legally binding, and that’s true. A Section 30 order must be granted. Incidentally, if you want to know the difference between the EU and the UK in one sentence, that’s it. The EU can’t demand you ask its permission to leave, the UK does demand that you ask its permission.

However, and here’s the interesting bit, Holyrood only requires Westminster’s agreement in order to hold a legally binding referendum. It doesn’t require permission to hold a consultative referendum, which is essentially an exercise in asking the public their opinion. There’s no reason that Holyrood can’t ask the people of Scotland for their opinion on anything at all. Do you prefer Hellman’s mayonnaise or own brand? Do you prefer to jeer at Nigel Farage from a safe distance or do you like to do it close up and aren’t worried that he might open up his lizard alien jaws and swallow you? Do you prefer Westminster rule or independence? If it’s not a legally binding referendum, there’s nothing to prevent Holyrood pressing ahead with it irrespective of what Westminster says. And the thing about consultative referendums is that once they produce a result the result takes on a political imperative of its own. The EU referendum wasn’t legally binding either, but all we’ve heard ever since is the demand that the will of the people is respected.

The difficulty with a consultative referendum is that it’s possible that the Unionist parties might boycott it. That wouldn’t invalidate the result, but it would mean we’d have to work even harder to ensure a high turn out which gives a clear mandate for independence. However there is a nuclear option which doesn’t require Westminster’s permission, and which the Unionist parties cannot ignore. That’s to dissolve the Scottish Parliament and turn the subsequent elections into a plebiscite election explicitly fought on achieving a mandate for independence. In such an election, achieving a majority in Holyrood for pro-independence supporters would also mean achieving a mandate to negotiate independence.

This would require close collaboration between the SNP, the Greens, and other pro-independence parties and the broader Yes movement to put up a slate of Indy-supporting candidates in the election. Since it’s a vote for a Scottish government, the Unionist parties can’t boycott it, and Westminster cannot dictate the timing. It’s very much a last ditch strategy in the event that all else fails, and if May really is stupid and arrogant enough to imagine that she can dictate when Scotland can have its say or frame the question to her pleasing. What it means is that Theresa May cannot dictate the timing or the question for a second independence referendum. If she does, all she does is to make it less likely that the Unionists will win that vote when it finally happens.

Scotland will have its vote when it suits Scotland, and not when it suits Theresa May. There’s very little she can do about it, apart from rage and fury. There’s going to be plenty of that from the Unionists over the coming months, and it will signify nothing. The cards are in Scotland’s hands this time.

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

Or click HERE

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.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

We have work to do

And we’re off… As it says on the running strap line at the bottom of the screen on the TV news channels, BREAKING: The United Kingdom. It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, but the Scottish Government is to seek approval in the Scottish Parliament for a second independence referendum to be held sometime between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019. Since it can count on the support of both the SNP, who all by themselves outnumber all the Unionist MSPs combined, and the Greens, the vote will most certainly pass. Scotland will get a voice. It will get a voice because Scotland demands one, because Scotland insists on one, not because the British government is disposed to listen to us.

The only people who weren’t expecting another referendum are those who’ve spent the last couple of years in a state of deep denial, insisting that black is white, up is down, that the Vow was fulfilled, and that Alistair Carmichael is a much loved national treasure. So that would be much of the British Unionist establishment and their apologists and those who review the newspapers on Sky News, although to be fair the second of those categories is a subset of the first, those people who’ve been quite certain that Nicola Sturgeon was bluffing and who refused to be budged from their view no matter how much independence supporters tried to educate them to the contrary.

Theresa May is already claiming that the referendum would be divisive and create economic uncertainty, a bit like her Brexit is doing on steroids. An independence referendum is the cure for Theresa’s uncertainty and economic damage, it’s the result of her division. She’s only got herself to blame for provoking Scotland into seeking another vote since she herself has refused to listen, refused to engage, and refused to pay heed to the concerns and views of a country that voted to remain a part of the EU by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Despite the claims of the leave campaign that Brexit would mean significant powers being returned to Holyrood from Brussels, Theresa said at the Tory conference that those powers wouldn’t go to Holyrood, but to Westminster instead. The devolution settlement says that all powers which are not specifically reserved to Westminster are devolved to Holyrood. Theresa May intends to rip that settlement up and unilaterally impose a new one of her own.

If Theresa wants to know what the justification for a second referendum is, she only needs to look in the mirror. Scotland is not facing a second independence referendum because of anything that the SNP or the wider independence movement has said or done. It’s happening because of the failure, the duplicity, and the ill-faith of the British government and the Unionist parties. It’s the intransigence of Theresa May that led to this happening. If she had done what she said she was going to do, to seek a Brexit that worked for everyone, if she’d prioritised her so-called precious Union, if she’d listened instead of doing an impression of a brick wall, there would be no second independence referendum.

Ruth Davidson was on telly, angrily denying that the Scottish Government doesn’t have a mandate for a second referendum. Nicola Sturgeon is always banging on about the constitution, scowled Ruth. That’s bad. Banging on about a second independence is my job, she sulked. Saying that there’s no mandate for a second referendum is a lie, plain and simple. You wouldn’t expect Ruthie to pay much attention to an SNP manifesto, but it quite clearly said in the SNP’s 2015 Holyrood manifesto that they’d seek a second independence referendum if there was a material change in circumstances, and it specifically cited Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will as something that would qualify as a change of circumstances. That’s a mandate. That’s a far clearer mandate than the one that Theresa May is relying on to take the whole of the UK out of the EU and into the hardest faced Brexit possible, despite the fact that much of the Leave campaign was assuring us all the way through the EU referendum campaign that leaving the EU didn’t necessarily mean leaving the single market. The Tories don’t really know what a mandate is though, their more Ukippish tendency think it’s a gay dating app which provokes flooding in Somerset.

Labour are once again opposed to a second independence referendum. Well, as far as anyone can be sure what Labour thinks about anything. Labour’s new slogan is Stronger Together, but they’re neither strong, nor together. At the weekend Jeremy Corbyn said that he wouldn’t oppose a second Scottish independence referendum if one was called, prompting an outbreak of zombie fever amongst the elected members of the Labour party in Scotland. Today he’s opposed again. According to Sky News he thinks it’s wrong to hold another independence referendum so soon, and the Labour party in Scotland will oppose it. Mind you, that’s the same Sky News whose press reviewers were convinced that Nicola Sturgeon was bluffing.

The Lib Dems aren’t happy either. They don’t want another referendum unless it’s another EU referendum. But that’s totally different and not hypocritical at all. Oh no. And Alistair Carmichael isn’t a big liar, Wullie Rennie is a voice of authority, and Menzies Campbell isn’t a zombie.

But the opposition of those who’ve always been opposed to Scotland seeking its own destiny is news in the same way that it’s news that if you plan your journeys using the BBC weather map as a guide, you can get from Stranraer to Aberdeen in fifteen minutes. This time, the stakes have never been higher. If Scotland is foolish enough to vote no a second time, the contempt with which Westminster treated us after the 2014 referendum will be magnified 100 times.

What’s more important than ever right now is that the independence movement, in all its glorious diversity, concentrates on the task ahead and ceases the infighting and backbiting that scarred the phony war that’s just finished. Now it’s the real deal, the real fight commences. Let’s focus our energies on challenging the scare stories and threats of Unionism. Let’s concentrate on building the case for a Scotland that chooses its own path. Let’s create a vision of a better future for a country that deserves better. We have work to do. Let’s get to 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.

Donate Button

Or click HERE

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.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

La gota que colma el vaso

Sometimes, you can provide proof positive of that someone isn’t going to do something. You can explain in detailed arguments why it’s not in their interests to do so. You can provide copious examples of their behaviour in directly comparable circumstances which strongly point to the extreme unlikelihood that the person will take the action under discussion. You can cite direct quotes from the persons concerned saying that they have no intention of doing whatever it is and stating that they’re not going to do it. You can do all that, you kill the suggestion for ever, bury it under six foot of concrete and build a block of flats on top of it, and still, still, some Unionist idiot on social media will insist that Spain is going to veto Scotland’s membership of the European Union.

The claim was that by vetoing Scottish membership of the EU, Madrid would deter Catalan and Basque hopes of self-determination. It was always an example of fake news, based on no more than a supposition. But that didn’t stop it being repeated ad nauseum as though it was a solid fact. Every time the topic of Scottish membership of the EU was aired, up would pop some Unionist person on social media, claiming that Spain would veto us. It was an argument I had with Tory MEP Ian Duncan on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. Ian was insistent that just because no senior Spanish politician or representative of the Spanish government had ever said that they’d veto Scottish membership of the EU, that didn’t mean that they wouldn’t.

Ian was determined to interpret a wee rant by Spanish Partido Popular MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons as a threat that Spain would veto Scotland, even though Gonzalez Pons hadn’t actually said that. Gonzalez Pons’ wee rant was published in the UK media as “blow for Nicola Sturgeon”, because he’d said that Scotland would have to go to the back of a mythical queue for EU membership. It was published in the Spanish media as Partido Popular MEP gets slapped down by the chairperson of an EU committee, and cited in the Spanish media as an example of a Spanish politician making a bit of a fool out of himself by making an intemperate rant.

The argument upon which Spain bases it opposition to Catalan and Basque self-determination is a clause in the Spanish constitution which forbids them to have independence referendums. There is no such clause in the British constitution forbidding Scotland from holding an independence referendum. When Scottish independence come about, it will be legal, it will be constitutional, and it will be negotiated with and recognised by Westminster.

Spain doesn’t recognise the independence of Kosovo from Serbia because Kosovo declared independence unilaterally, an independence which isn’t recognised by Serbia and which Serbia claims is contrary to the Serbian constitution. But Spain does recognise the independence of Montenegro from its union with Serbia because Montenegrin independence was permitted by the constitution and is recognised by Serbia. Unionists only ever cite Kosovo, never Montenegro.

Some of us have been arguing for years that there was no chance of Spain vetoing an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU. Arguing that Spain would veto Scotland was based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the argument that Madrid makes against Catalan self-determination, and if Madrid was to veto an independent Scotland which achieved independence legally, constitutionally, and which was recognised by Westminster, then all they’d do would be to undermine their own argument against permitting Catalonia to hold a referendum.

The truth is that vetoing Scotland from EU membership would not deter the Catalans from their pursuit of independence, quite the reverse. It would only inflame the situation by undermining Madrid’s claim that its opposition to Catalan independence was based on a constitutional and legal argument. You could point out that no senior Spanish politician had ever openly stated that the Spanish government would veto Scottish membership of the EU, but that didn’t stop the Unionists from repeating the claim. They had their suppositions, and by god they were going to stick to them. The reality has always been, as I have been arguing in this blog for years, that the morning after a Yes vote in a Scottish independence referendum, the line from the Spanish government would be, “We’ve said all along that the circumstances of Scotland and Catalonia have nothing to do with one another.”

On Friday we received what ought to be the final nail in the coffin for the Spanish veto myth. The self-same Gonzalez Pons was asked by a BBC reporter whether the Spanish government would veto Scottish membership of the EU, and he said no, it wouldn’t. “If you are thinking about Catalonia,” he added, “the Catalan situation is very very very different.” You can’t get much clearer than that. He did say that Scotland would have to apply for membership in its own right, but few have ever argued otherwise, but he also finally put to rest the claim that Spain would veto Scotland’s application.

This is the first time, to my knowledge (and trust me I’ve looked), that a senior Spanish politician has ever given a direct answer to the question of whether Spain would veto Scottish membership of the EU, and the answer was a clear and unequivocal no. The closest previous instance came during the first independence referendum when the then foreign minister Garcia Margallo said that if Scotland achieved independence legally and constitutionally, then Spain “would have nothing to say”, a very strong hint that Spain wouldn’t veto Scotland, but a little short of a direct and clear confirmation. During the first independence referendum campaign, the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy dodged the question three times in an interview with El Pais newspaper, saying that he didn’t want to get into hypotheticals.

So it’s interesting to ask why Spain is now willing to state clearly and openly that it won’t veto Scottish membership of the EU. During the first Scottish independence referendum, Spain did not wish to antagonise the government of another EU member state, that is no longer a consideration. But Spain’s willingness to state openly that it won’t veto Scottish membership of the EU is not unrelated to Spanish, and European, anger with the intransigent and frankly pig-headed approach to Brexit adopted by the British government. Some of Westminster’s statements have been interpreted in Europe as a declaration of economic war, and no EU state is in the mood to do Westminster any favours right now. If openly stating that they will not hinder Scottish independence undermines the British government, EU governments won’t shed any tears.  Westminster’s self-created difficulty is Scotland’s opportunity.

I feel vindicated now. The Spanish veto myth should by now be dead and buried, never to be heard from again. The statement from Gonzalez Pons is la gota que colma el vaso, as they say in Spanish – the drop that makes the glass overflow. But that still hasn’t prevented some of the more obtuse Unionists on social media from claiming that Spain would still veto Scotland. They’re the young Earth creationists of politics, no matter what evidence you present them with, they’re not going to be budged from their articles of faith. These are the people who claim that the independence movement is a cult, but it’s their own behaviour which is cultish. And that may or may not be a typo.

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

Or click HERE

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.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

Journey to Yes, N°7

The latest instalment in the estimable Phantom Power’s Journey to Yes video series.  Erin says Yes. As more Scots who voted No to independence reconsider their decision, we follow their journey to Yes and self-determination for Scotland. Unlike UK General Elections and Brexit, 16 and 17 year olds were empowered with a vote in the Scottish independence referendum. Erin was 13 at the time and was still too young to participate but would have voted No. Erin found herself caught up in the post-indyref fightback and became an active member of the SNP Youth movement. She represents a new generation of politically aware young activists who demand greater representation in Scottish politics. Erin talks about aspects of youth vote in Scotland, opportunities, barriers and how vital it is that young people engage in decisions that will shape their own future. Erin will be 16 this September and is voting Yes at the next independence referendum.

If you’d like to share your journey to Yes – get in touch. Send an email to phantompower2014@gmail.com

 

Let’s get back to basics

There are so many distraction tactics, coupled with misdirection, misinformation, and sheer outright irrelevance, that go on in Unionist responses to the independence campaign. We’re accused of racism and homophobia by people who support a UK that is politically headed off to the nasty Little Britain espoused by the extreme right, cut off from the rest of the world and nostalgically looking back to the days of Empire, suspicious of everything foreign and convinced of its own exceptionalism as it sinks into a mire of its own making.

But they tell us that this time it’s Empire 2.0, so that’s OK then. Empire 2.0 is a new, improved and rebooted version that’s being touted by people who conveniently overlook the fact that the pillage, theft, racism, and war that characterised Empire 1.0 wasn’t a bug, it was a feature. Empire 2.0 will still be characterised by all those things. The pillage and theft of public assets by corporations who don’t pay taxes. The racism of a xenophobic immigration policy. The future wars that Britain will engage in as a form of viagra for a flaccid former power.

We get told that it’s all about the money, that Scotland is an economic basket case which depends on subsidies from a kind and generous Tory government that’s giving us squillions out of the kindness of its ice cold avaricious heart. We’re told this by people who apparently believe that the economic mismanagement by successive Westminster administrations which have reduced a European country with an embarrassment of resources and potential to penury is a good thing. They have no answer to the question of how, if what they say is indeed the case, does Scotland escape from the economic disaster zone to which we’ve been consigned. Seemingly they believe that we’re better off remaining with the people who caused the mismanagement, and who don’t even recognise their mismanagement for what it is, than to try to remedy things with our own efforts.

These are the people who want us to rejoice that the Chancellor of the Exchequer found £350 million for Scotland, over four years, and claim this is extra money and evidence of Westminster’s kind generosity not merely a slight reduction in the cuts we face. It’s still a lot less than the £370 million of public money that’s being spent on the renovation of Buckingham Palace. The only reason Scotland’s getting it in the first place is because he’s found a larger amount of dosh for spending in England. So whoop. And indeed, de-doo.

We’re told repeatedly that it’s all about the SNP. Scottish independence in the eyes of Unionism is entirely the creature of a single political party. The many thousands of independence campaigners and supporters who are not affiliated with the SNP scarcely get a look in. It’s “Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum”, not a referendum for the Scottish people. The Unionist press is full of stories along the lines of “Blow for Nicola Sturgeon”, but similar set backs for Unionism are never described as “Blow for Theresa May” or “Blow for Ruth Davidson”. Admittedly this isn’t unrelated to the fact that they’re scarcely reported at all.

It’s time to get back to basics and to talk about the core issue. Scottish independence is not about the SNP. An independent Scotland will be a democracy with a written constitution and proportional representation in its parliament. That means it will be considerably more democratic than a Westminster in which the powers of the different branches of government are not rigorously separated by a constitution and the prime minister is effectively an elected dictator who is elected under an electoral system which permits a party which gains under 40% of the popular vote to enjoy a crushing absolute majority in a parliament which is little more than a creature of its leader. What we currently experience in the UK has many more of the characteristics of a dictatorship than an independent Scotland would have.

Scottish independence is not even about the money. Like many independence supporters I firmly believe that Scotland will be better off managing its own resources and the talents and skills of its people for the benefit of Scotland, that Scotland will do better controlling its own assets and investing in its own future rather than having these decisions made for us by a government which prioritises the needs of the financial sector in the City of London. But to be honest, a country whose independence is only justified if it can be demonstrated that the average family will be better off by the price of a Chinese takeaway once a month is not a country which deserves independence. Unionists would have you believe that’s the case, that Scottish independence is predicated on the price of a chicken chow mein. It’s not. It’s about a much bigger and more profound issue.

Independence isn’t even about being a member of the EU. It’s not about being a member of NATO or being neutral. Independence is not about choosing a republic over a monarchy. Independence is about one thing and about one thing only. It’s about ensuring that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the people of Scotland. That’s all of us, those of us who were born Scots, and those of us who came to Scotland to live and who choose to become Scots and throw their lot in with Scotland. Independence is about ensuring that the sovereign body of the people of Scotland have a government that is responsible to them and to no one else. It’s about ensuring that the path that Scotland takes, the choices that Scotland makes as a country, are determined by the people of Scotland.

If Scotland remains a member of the EU then that will be because a majority of the people of Scotland have chosen to do so. If Scotland becomes a republic that will be because a majority of the people of Scotland have chosen to do so. Because right now it’s not the people of Scotland who make these decisions. The decisions are made for us by a government in Westminster that Scotland didn’t choose, that Scotland didn’t vote for. It’s a government that’s taking Scotland out of the EU against the will of the majority of Scots. It’s a government that’s turning a deaf ear to the opinions and views of the majority of Scots. And it can do that because as a part of the UK there is absolutely nothing that Scotland can do in order to ensure that the views, opinions and beliefs of the people of Scotland are even listened to, never mind ensuring that they are acted upon.

We are governed by people who know little about us and who care even less. They don’t need to care, because Scotland has no means of holding them to account. Scotland needs independence because it’s the only way in which we can get a government which is accountable. We need independence because politicians cannot be trusted. Scotland needs independence because we must keep politicians close to us, so that their arses are within kicking distance of our feet.

Let’s get back to basics. The argument for Scottish independence is an argument for making government accountable to the people of Scotland. It’s an argument for ensuring that the only sovereign body in Scotland is the people of Scotland. It’s an argument that the only people who should choose the path that Scotland takes are the people of Scotland. Let’s focus on the core issues. Everything else is a distraction.

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

Or click HERE

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.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

The wrong side of history

I don’t normally blog about newspaper articles that are locked away behind a paywall, but sometimes you need to make an exception. And Tuesday’s article by Melanie Phillips in the Times is such an exception. A copy of the piece liberated from the paywall is here http://archive.is/Tq8lH so that everyone can scoff at it for free. It’s possibly the most ludicrous attempt at rewriting history since Rory (I’m Scottish You Know) the Tory sooked up a chunk of BBC licence fees to present a documentary claiming that there was some mythical Middle Land between Scotland and England which proved that Scottish nationhood is artificial and less ancient than its British counterpart. He called it Middle Land, but it had as much bearing on reality as Tolkein’s Middle Earth, only without the dragons or the special effects.

Melanie’s attempt is another excursion into the British nationalist middle earth. Britain, she boldly claims, is the only authentic nation in the battle between the UK and vile Scottish and Irish separatists. The only good thing you can say about it is that at least your licence fee wasn’t wasted in producing it. Of course the real reason that modern Unionists and British nationalists like Melanie are forced to make spurious appeals to ancient history is because there’s precious little shared experience left in the modern UK. Unless it’s a shared experience of the poor and low paid being ripped off while the rich and well connected enrich themselves.

That however, is a shared experience that we’re better off without. It’s a shared experience that we can best challenge with an independent Scotland that provides a better example than the British state. We’ve learned enough by now to know that attempting to reform the British state from within is an exercise in futility, disappointment, and broken dreams. Britain is now hell bent on a xenophobic inward looking narrow nationalism, rejecting the world and basing itself in nostalgia for a lost empire. Scottish independence looks to a future in the 21st century. The British state looks to an empire that it lost in the 20th.

The reality that the likes of Melanie don’t want to face up to is that the many ties of Britishness, all the institutions and organisations which once fostered that sense of Britishness which remains strongest in the oldest generations, have been destroyed by the British state itself and most often by the Tories. Just 50 years ago there were dozens of large state owned organisations, British Coal, British Steel, the Royal Mail, British Leyland and many more, all were owned by the state and helped to create and promote a sense of a shared British experience and identity. They’ve all gone now, sold off and broken up, and as they disappeared they took that fragile sense of a British identity with them. And the reason it was fragile was because it was never strongly rooted in history, no matter how much Melanie tries to rewrite the past.

The core of Melanie’s claim is that before the emergence of Scotland and England as nation states in the early middle ages, there was a British nation which encompassed the whole of the British Isles. It’s a nonsensical claim. She writes
Britain, by contrast, is an authentic unitary nation. It didn’t begin with the union with Scotland but as the British Isles, an island nation defending itself (or not) against invaders from across the seas. Throughout its history, it was beset by attempts at secession by tribes across Hadrian’s Wall and across the Irish Sea.
This is nothing more and nothing less than an attempt to rewrite history by a historical illiterate. There was no “island nation”, before the Roman invasion all there was was a collection of Celtic tribes which were politically independent of one another and which allied with one another or went to war with one another as their tribal interests dictated. These tribes did share a broadly similar Celtic culture, and spoke dialects belonging to the same Celtic dialect complex, but that certainly doesn’t mean that they had any sense of themselves as being a single nation.

What Melanie doesn’t tell you is that this Celtic culture and language which was spread across Britain and Ireland was not confined to the British Isles, it was also found across Gaul, across large parts of Iberia, Central Europe, and in tribal groups all the way to Galatia in modern central Turkey. Many of the British tribes possessed territories in Gaul as well as in Britain, and they were closely linked to Gaul by ties of culture, family and language. If the tribes of Britain and Ireland did belong to a single over-arching nation, it was a Celtic nation that encompassed much of Europe. Rather like the EU, come to think of it.

Saying that Britain was beset by “attempts at secession by tribes across Hadrian’s Wall and across the Irish Sea” is utter guff from a historical point of view. These tribes were always independent of those to the south which were conquered by Rome and incorporated into the Roman Empire. The reason the Romans built the wall was not because of secessionist activities from the northern tribes, but because they never successfully conquered the northern tribes in the first place. The Romans never extended their power to Ireland. These tribes remained proudly independent, and by the end of the Roman period a single Gaelic language and culture had spread across Ireland.

Scottish and English nationhood both post-date the Roman period. Both nations were formed by the gradual amalgamation, conquest, and merger of different tribes. Scotland and England were nation states by the early middle ages and for hundreds of years both nations were independent states. It’s Britishness which is relatively recent historically. Britishness as a political concept arose from attempts of the English monarchy to exert its control over the entire British Isles, attempts which were bitterly resisted by the non-English parts of the islands.

The modern concept of Britishness dates from no earlier than the Union of Crowns of the 17th century. It was a concept which Ireland and Scotland rejected for generations. Modern Britishness only came into being with the Union of Parliaments of 1707 and the extinguishing of Scottish independence. In theory, English independence was also extinguished by this event, but in reality as the larger and more powerful part of the new British state, the new Britishness became a proxy for English nationalism. That’s how it remains to this day. All Melanie Phillips is doing is attempting a spurious rewriting of history in an attempt to justify the right of English nationalism to rule over the rest of these islands.

But the truth is it doesn’t really matter whose national identity is older. Scottish independence is not about Scotland’s past. It’s about Scotland’s future. It’s about who gets to choose the path that Scotland takes, is it the people of Scotland, both born Scots and those who choose to embrace Scotland, or is it British nationalists like Melanie. She’s on the wrong side of history.

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

Or click HERE

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.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709

The Christopher Lee of currency scares

There’s a Unionist myth from the first independence referendum which is still being aired and which will feature prominently in the second. It’s a myth that’s propagated by people who really ought to know better, and who in many cases actually do. They just keep repeating the story because they hope that people in Scotland don’t know any better. It’s a myth that keeps being repeated even though it’s been killed off more times than Christopher Lee in the Dracula movies, and just like Christopher Lee in the Dracula movies it keeps on coming back for the sequel. That myth is that an independent Scotland would be forced to join the Euro.

It says in the EU treaties that, unless a country has a specific opt-out from membership of the Eurozone, membership of the EU implies that state should eventually join the single currency. However the EU treaties impose no time scale on when a member state needs to join the Euro and impose no penalties for not doing so.  If a member state decides that it’s not in its interests to adopt the common currency, then no one in Brussels is going to insist that they do.

What this means is that no country can be forced into the euro. No, really. No more than a Rangers fan can be forced to wear a green and white scarf and sing along enthusiastically to a ditty about a fitba team that doesn’t realise it died.  Joining the euro is not like being conscripted into Angela Merkel’s army and then having to invade the Central Bank of Greece and blag all the deckchairs with a towel printed with the image of the EU flag. Joining the single currency is a process with several steps to it. Each one of those steps is at the discretion of the member state. That means the steps don’t have to be taken, and if the member state doesn’t take the steps, they don’t join the euro. It’s really that simple.

Step number one is starting off with a currency of your own. As Unionists are very fond of telling us, Scotland doesn’t have a currency of its own, and apparently is the only country in the world which is incapable of having any money at all. Not even those big stone coins that they used to use as currency on the Pacific island of Yap which would be a bit of a bugger in the check out queue at Morrison’s. So before we could even think about joining the euro, we’d first of all have to set up our own currency. Even if, as seems likely, an independent Scotland will set up its own currency, it will take a number of years for this to come into effect. When Ireland became independent in 1922, it continued to use the pound sterling until issuing its own currency, the punt, in 1928.

Step number two is reducing your budget deficit to within certain pre-determined parameters. Since the Unionists are very fond of telling us that Scotland has a bigger deficit than a shoe fetishist on a spending spree in Foot Asylum with nothing more in his pocket than a book of second class stamps, Scotland wouldn’t meet the requirements for joining the euro anyway. “You’ve got a deficit greater than Greece” and “you’ll be forced to join the euro” are mutually exclusive scare stories. But that doesn’t prevent the same people making them both simultaneously.

Of course, it’s highly debatable just how much Scotland’s real deficit is. The true figure will be determined in the negotiations after a Yes vote.  Whatever it is, it’s certainly not the figure bandied about by the Unionists and based on the GERS figures. The deficit in GERS is based on UK figures which show that almost one quarter of the entire Scottish budget is spent outside Scotland. This is spending attributed to Scotland by the UK. There is no independent nation on Earth which spends that proportion of its budget outside its own borders. In an independent Scotland, other than debt interest repayments which will be subject to negotiation in independence talks in order to determine how much if any of the UK national debt iScotland takes on, the budget will overwhelmingly be spent within Scotland and thus will increase Scottish revenues by generating increased economic activity within Scotland. However for the purposes of this discussion about the euro, what is relevant is that it’s for an individual member state to decide when and how to reduce its deficit. If a country which isn’t using the euro decides that its deficit is sustainable, the EU isn’t going to force it to reduce it.

The third step is joining the ERM-II, the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. The Czech Republic joined the EU in 2004, after the euro had been adopted as the common currency of the original 11 members of the Eurozone. The Czechs won’t be bounced into the euro, and have consistently refused to make moves to adopt it. In January 2010, Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas stated that the country did not require a special opt-out in order to retain the koruna as its currency. Nečas said: “No one can force us into joining the euro … We have a de facto opt-out.”

Candidates for euro membership must sign up to ERM II for at least two years
before adopting the euro as currency, however it is entirely up to the discretion of each individual member state when to sign up to ERM II and member countries can legitimately delay this indefinitely.  That’s what the Czech PM meant by a de facto opt-out.  But Mr Nečas said all this in Czech, which is a language with way too many consonants, so it wasn’t reported in the Anglocentric Unionist media.

A whole lot has happened in the intervening seven years. Admittedly some things are just the same. Like the Unionist project fear and attempts to browbeat Scotland into staying a part of the UK. So we’re still going to get the UK chancellor coming to Scotland and making threats about currency. It’s just that the second time around with the arse having fallen out of the Brexit pound he’ll be coming to Scotland to warn us that after independence we’ll be forced to keep it. And the Unionists are still claiming that an independent Scotland would be forced to adopt the euro even though this myth has been debunked more often than the myth that Donald Trump’s hairstyle is a fashion statement and not a poor attempt to cover up a receding hairline.

In the past seven years Nečas was forced to resign in a corruption scandal. Brexit and Donald Trump happened. We’ve had one independence referendum in Scotland and are now faced with another. Yet here we are, seven years later, and the Czech Republic still has no plans to join the Eurozone, is no further forward in steps to joining it, and the EU has made no attempts to force the issue. That’s what Nečas meant by a de facto opt-out. It’s not a legal right in the sense that it’s explicitly spelled out in the treaties, but it’s an effective right. It’s a real right that an independent Scotland could use to refrain from joining the euro. It’s a right that several EU member states make use of.

This approach has also been adopted by the government of Sweden which has likewise declined to join the Eurozone but has no negotiated opt-out. Sweden says nej to the euro. Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia likewise are not eurozone members and none of them have formal opt outs. They will join the euro as and when they decide it is in their interests to do so, and they may very well decide to postpone that decision indefinitely. The EU isn’t going to force them to do otherwise. It wouldn’t force an independent Scotland either. But nothing I’ve said here will stop the Unionists from claiming that Scotland will be forced to adopt the euro. Like Christopher Lee, it will be back for the sequel. But next time, we’re ready with the garlic and wooden stake of facts and we’ll open the curtains and let the light flood in.

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

Or click HERE

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.

http://vagabondvoices.co.uk/?page_id=2709