Successful union? Successful for whom?

strangulation

According to Boris Johnson and assorted British nationalists, the United Kingdom is the most successful union in the world. That’s a claim which begs many questions. Questions like, how are you defining a union exactly? Questions like successful for whom? What criteria are you using for “successful”? The number of foodbanks perhaps. The UK has been highly successful in the past few years at making people, even people in work, rely upon foodbanks in order to feed their kids. Or perhaps it’s based upon the least number of years without being involved in war or military action. That would be just a couple of dozen years out of the three hundred plus during which the UK has been in existence. Or maybe it’s based upon the number of Tory MPs who got their position on the basis of lies on the side of a bus.

Dunno about you, but I can think of quite a few unions that have been considerably more successful for their members than the UK has been for Scotland. Switzerland springs to mind. It’s peaceful, prosperous, has better public services, and doesn’t keep getting involved in wars. That sounds successful to me. It’s also highly successful in ensuring that members of the Swiss union can’t be browbeaten and dragged along into things that they don’t want by the largest member of the union. It would be very nice if that was also the case in the UK. Then we wouldn’t have to deal with Brexit.

The truth is that the union between Scotland and England has been spectacularly successful, but only in a very narrowly defined sense. It has been highly successful for London and the tellingly named Home Counties in the South East of England. It’s been successful at sooking resources and humans out of Scotland and using them for the benefit of the economy of the South East of England. For Scotland, success? Not so much.

In 1707 when the Treaty of Union was foisted upon Scotland under threat of economic blockade and invasion, Scotland was not the bankrupt basket case of British nationalist myth. Many of Scotland’s wealthy had lost money in the Darien fiasco, but that was their own money, not Scotland’s national wealth. The fact is that during the early years of the 18th century Scotland was doing as well as or rather better than other northern European states of a similar size and population. Scotland was wealthier than Denmark or Norway. Finland was an underdeveloped possession of the Swedish crown.

Yet after over three hundred years of what we’re constantly told is the most successful union that the multiverse has ever seen has reduced Scotland from a position of equality with other northern European nations to being far poorer. That’s because for the past three hundred years Scotland has exported its people, along with their talents, skills, and abilities honed by education that Scotland has paid for, to the maw of London, where those talents skills and abilities generate wealth and revenue for the economy of the South East of England and not for Scotland. Scotland exports its resources, its wealth, and its capital and we are told that having to export our children is a “union benefit”. Personally I think it would be a lot more of a benefit for Scotland to be able to develop itself so that its children aren’t driven to seek employment elsewhere. That would be a better and more realistic definition of success. But then the definition of success used by British nationalist politicians in Scotland is a highly self-serving one.

The cumulative result after three hundred years is a nation that British nationalists delight in describing as an economic basket case that’s supposedly too impoverished to join the EU in its own right. The peculiar thing is that they seem to believe that this claim is a vindication of London rule in Scotland and not an indictment of it.

In the 1600s Scotland was not an economic basket case. It was an averagely prosperous northern European nation enjoying a successful and thriving trade with France and the Baltic countries as well as with England. Today the GDP of Scotland is around half of that of Denmark, a country which does not possess a fraction of the resources that Scotland does. Denmark has exceeded Scotland in population growth and in wealth. Yet surely if the UK was indeed the most successful union of nations in all of history, it would have enabled Scotland to develop greater wealth than Denmark, to increase its population at a faster rate than the rest of Europe. Instead the opposite has happened. Far from being the most successful, the union has acted as a drag upon Scotland’s development. And that’s hardly surprising considering that Scotland’s role in the UK is the same as that of the English provinces – to act as a reservoir of resources and skilled labour for the benefit of the economy of London and the South East of England.

Population growth is a good proxy for comparing the economies and opportunities offered by different European countries over the past 300 years. At the time of the Treaty of Union in 1707, Scotland had an estimated population of approximately 1.1 million. A quarter lived in the Highlands. England and Wales at the same time had a population of approximately 5.1 million. Scotland’s population was about one fifth of that of England and Wales combined. Today the population of Scotland is 5.4 million, the population of England and Wales combined is 58.1 million, over ten times the population of Scotland. If Scotland’s population growth had kept pace with the rest of the UK, modern Scotland would have around 11 million people, over double what it actually has. The excess population has been lost to emigration, much of it to the rest of the UK.
(Source: http://www.spanishsuccession.nl/uk_england.html )

Denmark had a population of approximately 797,000 in the year 1769, about 75% of Scotland’s figure over 60 years after the Treaty of Union. Today Denmark has a population of almost 5.78 million, more than Scotland. The same pattern is repeated in Finland. In 1750, the first year for which records are available, there were 421,000 people living in Finland, less than half of Scotland’s population. Today there are 5.5 million Finns, more people than live in Scotland. Norway had approximately 440,000 inhabitants in 1665, and didn’t exceed a million in population until 1825, today it has a population of 5,399,962, almost exactly the same as Scotland’s.

There’s a very consistent pattern here. The Scandinavian countries have all seen their populations grow by a factor of between 8 and 11 since 1700. Scotland’s population has grown far more slowly, well below the average for Europe. Since fertility levels are similar in all northern European nations, this indicates that Scotland has been markedly less successful in holding on to its population. That can only be as a result of the macro-economic policies adopted by successive Westminster governments. Scots have been forced to emigrate, and we’re told this is a benefit of the union.

(Sources:
http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/denmark-population/
http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/finland-population/
http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/norway-population/ )

The only northern European nation which has had a worse demographic history than Scotland is Ireland – the only other northern European nation which was ruled by Westminster. Ireland’s population reached 8 million just prior to the Great Famine, a tragedy for which the Westminster governments of the day bear considerable responsibility. Those are the same governments which bear the blame for the Clearances which depopulated much of the Scottish countryside.

All of this at least gives us an objective criterion for defining “most successful union”. The UK has been most successful union when it comes to devastating the population growth of its smaller members. It has been the most successful at producing the Cringe and destroying the languages and cultures of the non English parts of the union. It has been the most successful at creating the greatest chasm between rich and poor in Europe. It has been the most successful at warmongering abroad. So yeah, sure, it’s the most successful union, just not in a good way.

Scotland has been impoverished by Westminster and those who support Westminster cite Westminster’s mismanagement as a reason why Scotland needs Westminster. If the UK really was the most successful union the world has ever seen, then opponents of independence would not be able to claim that Scotland can’t become independent because it’s too poor.  They can’t, or won’t, explain why it is that Scotland has fallen behind other northern European countries economically.  If this union really was as successful as they claim, why isn’t Scotland as rich as Denmark or Finland – never mind Norway which also has oil in the North Sea.

The truth is Scotland could be considerably more successful as an independent country. A truly successful union is a handshake, a supporting hand. The reality of this union is a Westminster with its hands around Scotland’s throat.


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

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There’s been a murrdurr!

theresbeenamurrdurr
Many of us in Scotland have spent our lives avoiding the British royal family. The Windsors provoke in us a mixture of intense boredom and deep anger, a peculiar combination of emotions called banger. Which is what your head turns into whenever the bloody royals dominate the news as though their goings on were indeed news and not some species of nauseating trivial gossip propagated by sychophants who’d be as well to get that brown stain tattooed permanently on their noses. We’re looking at you Nicholas Witchell.

Anyway, in the proper news which you might have missed what with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle taking the huff with the Daily Mail and the BBC, which to be honest is perfectly reasonable of them, today Scotland’s Parliament has voted by 92 to 29 not to give its consent to those parts of the UK’s EU withdrawal deal which impinge upon devolved competencies. MSPs from the Labour party, the Greens, and the Lib Dems joined with the SNP in voting against Westminster’s power grab. Only the Tories supported it. However this will not make the slightest bit of difference to what happens with the deal, which will be railroaded through anyway irrespective of the views of the Scottish Parliament whose powers and competencies are being directly affected against the will of MSPs of all parties except the Tories.

The objections of MSPs are threefold. Firstly the UK government’s withdrawal bill encroaches on devolved competencies and Holyrood does not consent to this. Secondly the UK bill makes no acknowledgement of the fact that Scotland voted to remain a part of the EU, and indeed did so by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Thirdly the bill is an effective power grab because powers which should be returned automatically to Holyrood from Brussels upon the UK’s exit from the EU will instead be taken by Westminster. This represents a fundamental rewriting of the devolution settlement, without any consultation with the Scottish Parliament.

Westminster’s move comes despite the solemn and heartfelt promise from the anti-independence parties in 2014 that if Scotland voted against independence, they would ensure that no Westminster government would ever be able to alter, change, or affect the powers of the devolution settlement without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Well I say heartfelt promise, you can’t actually make a heartfelt promise when you don’t possess a heart. The Conservative party is kept alive by the pumping of rich people’s money, which isn’t exactly the same as a functioning moral compass or the ability to tell the truth.

The legislation from Westminster runs a coach and horses through the Sewel Convention which says that Westminster will not “normally” legislate in devolved areas. This is despite the fact that the promise that this convention would be enshrined in law was one of the key commitments made by the anti-independence parties during the referendum. As we later discovered, the UK Supreme Court ruled that the changed legislation supposedly guaranteeing the rights and powers of Holyrood had no legal effect and the UK government could do whatever it pleased.

Governor General Alister Jack refused to respect the decision of Holyrood, since as far as he’s concerned it’s a decision taken by tribal elders in a glorified mud hut and the natives will do what the likes of Alister decides is best for them. “We’re respecting the result of the referendum”, said Alister, carefully not mentioning that his party isn’t respecting any of the promises or commitments that it made to win either of the past two referendums. All sales are final in Alister’s world. No guarantees, no returns. And don’t you dare think that you can complain when what you receive is an empty box when you’ve been promised that it contained a Scotland that’s an equal partner in a family of nations and a devolution settlement that can’t be altered or changed.

The Governor General took a wee break away from yelling at the servants who’ve been cleaning his pith helmet to appear at Scottish Questions in the Commons on Thursday, where he faced the ire of Scotland’s MPs. He hummed hawed and attempted a fnaugh or two when asked why it was that his government claimed a mandate to leave the EU when it received 43% of the vote in the General Election, but thinks that the SNP doesn’t have a mandate for another independence referendum when it received 45% of the vote in Scotland in that same General Election. That would be the General Election where Alister’s party campaigned on the single issue of opposing a referendum only to see its vote share drop and the loss of over half its MPs. Alister replied saying “Blah. Harrumph. Respect the referendum.” Or fnaughery to that effect. There’s being out of your depth, and there’s Alister Jack. Alister can only aspire to being out of his depth. He looks at the depth from far beneath the bottom of the Marianna’s Trench.

Westminster will proceed with its EU Bill even though all of Scotland’s MPs except seven discredited Tories will vote against it. Westminster will proceed to rip up the devolution settlement even though the Scottish Parliament voted heavily against it. This is not what Scotland was promised in 2014. The UK that we have been delivered comes as close to the promises that the Conservatives and the other anti-indy parties made to Scotland as Alister Jack does to a competent and convincing Scotland Secretary who stands up for Scotland’s interests.

The final death of a key promise which was used to persuade Scotland to vote against independence in 2014 is of course the headline story on BBC Scotland which has sent a reporter to doorstop Tory politicians to ask them how they can justify the lies that they’ve told to the people of Scotland. The reporter will badger them until they give a plausible answer to the question why they expect the SNP to abide by statements that it made during the referendum campaign of 2014 but the Conservative party thinks it should get a free pass.

Ha. Just kidding. Of course they haven’t. The headline story is about a murrdurr. Now this is of course news too. It’s sad, tragic and unfortunate whenever anyone loses their life. It’s just a shame that the murrdurr of the devolution settlement doesn’t appear to excite our national broadcaster in Scotland quite as much. But the murrdurr of the devolution settlement will be instrumental in delivering Scotland to independence. No wonder the British media in Scotland wants to distract us with nonsense about a royal family few of us care about and hopes the real murrdurr story goes away. Well it’s not going away. We’ll make sure of that.


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

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The inalienable right

inalienableright
Boris Johnson has been fnaugh fnaughing his way through Prime Minister’s Questions and refusing to acknowledge that the SNP was given a mandate by the Scottish electorate for another independence referendum. He conceded that it’s up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, but insisted that the right was exercised in 2014 and it was a “once in a generation” vote. We’re going to hear this excuse a lot, because it’s the only excuse the British government has got left.

Boris Johnson can’t plausibly argue that the SNP has no mandate from the Scottish electorate when that party won a larger vote share and a larger share of seats than his Conservative party did in the UK as a whole. He can’t plausibly maintain that there’s no mandate for another referendum when his own branch office in Scotland stood on the single platform of opposing another referendum and got its collective arse handed to it on a plate glazed with Stephen Kerr’s tears. If Boris Johnson maintains that he’s got a mandate from the UK electorate to deliver Brexit, the SNP has an even stronger and more convincing mandate from the Scottish electorate to deliver an independence referendum.

That point about a mandate is unarguable, except that is if you’re one of those people who deny the existence of Scotland as a political entity and claim that the SNP won merely a “subset” of UK seats in a UK election. Describing the nation of Scotland, a constituent nation of the UK as a subset is quite possibly the cringiest description of Scotland ever, more cringey than North Britain. Even more cringey than “up there”. Scotland isn’t just any random selection of Westminster seats, it’s an ancient nation which was one of the founding kingdoms of the United Kingdom. The Treaty of Union which founded the unitary state known as the United Kingdom guaranteed the continuing existence of Scottish national institutions, and the Scottish nation itself. The very foundation of the UK itself recognises that Scotland is a distinct polity within the UK, a polity with its own distinctive political character.

Boris Johnson was forced to concede, amidst the usual disrespectful barracking from Tory backbenchers whenever an SNP MP rises to speak, that it is indeed up to the people of Scotland to decide whether their future is as a part of the UK. He could hardly say anything else. However his admission has an important implication. If it is up to the people of Scotland to decide whether they wish to remain a part of the UK, that right to self-determination is either conditional or it’s absolute. Boris Johnson appears to believe that Scotland’s sovereign right to self-determination as a nation within the UK to decide its own future is conditional upon a timing that he’ll decide. So it’s not really a sovereign right to self-determination at all. If it’s up to political forces outwith Scotland to decide when Scotland can exercise its right to self-determination, then it’s not a right to self-determination. It becomes a question of Westminster’s convenience and permission. A right to self-determination which is conditional upon the convenience and permission of Westminster is no right to self-determination at all. It’s simply another way of stating that Scotland doesn’t have the right, a Conservative PM does.

There was absolutely nothing in the Edinburgh Agreement between the Scottish and British governments setting the terms for the 2014 referendum which stipulated that an independence referendum could only be held once in a generation. The rider that the referendum was a one in a generation affair did not appear on the ballot paper. It was not a part of the question that was put to the people of Scotland and which they voted on.

Alex Salmond described the referendum as a once in a generation opportunity, and was careful to add the rider that this was his personal opinion. Yet it appears that Scotland is to be held hostage to the opinion of a former First Minister, an opinion which has no force in law. The personal opinion of Alex Salmond is only being elevated to the lofty position of holy writ for the simple reason that Boris Johnson requires an excuse to prevent another independence referendum because he’s afraid he’s going to lose it.

The phrase once in a generation opportunity also appears three times in the White Paper on Independence published by the Scottish Government prior to the referendum. On page 3, the referendum is described as a “once in a generation opportunity to follow a different path”. On page 10 it is described as a “once in a generation opportunity to chart a better way.” On page 576 there is the statement, “It is the view of the current Scottish Government that a referendum is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

There are twos reasons why Alex Salmond’s administration took the view that the referendum of 2014 was a once in a generation opportunity. Neither of them are binding, and neither of them apply today. The first reason is that the referendum of 2014 only took place because the SNP broke the D’Hondt system and won the 2011 election with an absolute majority in Holyrood. Prior to this election it was not thought possible for a party to do this, and the SNP’s victory came as a surprise to everyone, not least the SNP. However the referendum campaign radically changed the Scottish political landscape in ways that were unforseen. It is now perfectly plausible for pro-independence parties to win a majority of seats in Holyrood.

The second reason is more important. Alex Salmond’s government took the view that they did because they had just negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement with Westminster, as a result of which both parties agreed to respect the outcome of the referendum. It was implicit in that understanding that both parties would respect the promises and commitments that they made to the people of Scotland during the referendum campaign. What is happening now is that Westminster is demanding that the current Scottish Government upholds everything that it stated during the referendum campaign, but it itself is not bound by its own promises and commitments.

Promises and commitments like telling Scotland that the only way it could remain a part of the EU was by voting no. Promises and commitments like promising that the powers of Holyrood would be enshrined in law and put beyond the ability of any Westminster government to alter without the express consent of the Scottish Parliament. Promises and commitments likes telling Scotland it was a much loved and equal partner in a family of nations, that it should lead within the UK instead of leaving it.

Indeed, it is all the more important for Westminster to uphold its promises and commitments to Scotland because it was the proposition of the No campaign which won the referendum. Yet now the SNP and Scotland are being held to ransom by a Westminster which hasn’t fulfilled its end of the bargain. If Westminster had respected all the promises that it made to Scotland in 2014, then the referendum would indeed have been a once in a generation opportunity. But they didn’t, did they. Westminster cannot insist that the SNP abide by statements that it made during the referendum campaign without itself abiding by the statements that Better Together made.

It’s Westminster’s failure to uphold its end of the bargain that has created the renewed demand and the justification for another referendum. Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy in claiming it was “once in a generation” merely highlights his own party’s failure to respect the promises and commitments that it made to the people of Scotland. When he tells us that the referendum was “once in a generation”, he’s telling the people of Scotland that we are suckers for ever believing that Westminster would keep its promises.

Yet even if there was a solemn commitment made by both sides in 2014 that the referendum was a once in a generation affair, so what? The people of Scotland have a sovereign right to decide for themselves which path Scotland will take – even Boris Johnson admits that much. That right cannot be bargained away, signed away, time-limited, or given up by any political party because it is a right that rests with the people of Scotland, not with the Conservatives, not with the SNP, not with any other party. It follows then that it’s up to the people of Scotland and no one else to decide whether or when we demand another independence referendum. And we demand one now. Scotland’s right to self-determination is inalienable.


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


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

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

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


British nationalism’s vested interest in misery

misery
Following on from telling us why the SNP winning 81% of Scotland’s Westminster seats in the General Election doesn’t count as a mandate for another independence referendum, British nationalists have found a new straw to clutch at.  You just knew that there was going to be one, didn’t you.  For every number on the bingo card, the callers of the British media have a pithy wee statement about how it’s going to bring about devastation, penury, and disaster. Only they’re not so much pithy as jutht pith.

Immediately after telling us that getting involved in pointless wars in the Middle East is the way to guarantee peace, next up in the British nationalist bingo card of reasons why Scotland can’t possibly have an independence referendum is the warning that if Scotland was to have a vote on whether it wanted to remain a part of Brexit Britain, it would spark off “appreciable political violence” in Northern Ireland. This is according to a report in the Times, quoting a certain Jonathan Stevenson, senior fellow for US defence at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Jonathan is the editor of the IISS journal Survival, which sounds like it could be the sort of magazine that Bear Grylls reads while he’s taking a dump in the woods. And indeed, it may well be.

Next week we’ll be told that Scottish independence will create a hole in the ozone layer, cause the extinction of the white rhinoceros, destabilise the neutron star PSR B1509-58 in the Circinus constellation devastating the nascent civilisation of crab people developing on a nearby planet, and will put an end to John Barrowman’s career as a guest presenter on This Morning. Although why that last one is a bad thing for anyone except John Barrowman will be left unexplained.

For British nationalists, especially for those in Scotland with a vested interest in keeping things the way that they are, the possibility of independence is always going to be met with warnings of dire happenings, catastrophes, and the end of civilisation as we know it. Any imagined link between independence and certain death, no matter if it’s even more tenuous than the link between what comes out of Boris Johnson’s mouth and reality, will be played up for all it’s worth. And to be fair, the possiblity of independence has already spelled the death of numerous Scottish Conservative political careers and almost the entire Labour party branch office.  Just ask Stephen Kerr, that guy from Ochil and South Perthshire whose name no one could ever remember, and all those nonentities with a red rosette.

British nationalism has a vested interest in misery. British nationalism in Scotland is an exercise in expectation reduction. Misery is its default setting.  It drinks half the glass and tells us that we should be grateful for the half glass that’s left because we’re not worthy or capable enough to produce a quarter full glass by ourselves even though we own the water. It wants us to believe that a half empty glass is the best that can be achieved and threatens us with the misery of a broken glass if we dare to expect more. It urges Scotland to put up with the UK’s misery of austerity, of poor public services, of privatisation, of foreign wars, of xenophobia and anti-migrant rhetoric and threatens us with far worse if we resist and aspire to better. So it’s only natural that a Scotland which seeks to distance itself from the British nationalism which created sectarianism as a product of its Irish adventures would be threatened with an outbreak of sectarian violence.

Jonathan was speaking at a foreign relations conference in New York, and told delegates that if Boris Johnson was to authorise a Scottish referendum but didn’t also allow a poll on Irish unification this could spark off violence from dissident republicans in Northern Ireland. This ignores the obvious, that ignoring calls for a unification poll in Northern Ireland could spark off violence in Northern Ireland irrespective of what happens in Scotland. You’d almost think that opponents of independence haven’t realised that Scotland and Northern Ireland have different politics, despite the best efforts of the Conservatives and Labour to channel Ian Paisley saying Noooooooo and the Conservatives in Scotland turning into the No Surrender party complete with dog whistles to sectarian bigotry.

The fact is that the issues in Northern Ireland are the historic creation of the British state and British colonisation of Ireland, it’s a product of British nationalism. It’s pretty rich to lay the responsibility for it on those of us in Scotland who seek to leave the British state. It’s as nonsensical as British nationalists blaming the SNP for the share of the UK’s deficit that gets allocated to Scotland. Oh wait, that’s exactly what they do.

Jonathan also claimed that the independence referendum in 2014 was marked by a rise in Republican violence in Northern Ireland and that some of these attacks were lethal. In other words he was trying to associate the entirely peaceful, constitutional, and legal campaign for Scottish independence with terrorist attacks. There was indeed violence associated with the Scottish independence referendum, but those responsible for that violence were the British nationalist thugs who went on the rampage in Glasgow city centre after the result was announced, beating up and attacking entirely peaceable and law-abiding independence supporters. It’s funny that when they’re warning of political violence opponents of independence always seem to forget that the violence only ever comes from their own side.

Other experts are of course available, except when you’re a British nationalist in search of a straw to clutch at, and those other experts – experts like Kieran McConaghy, a lecturer with the Handa Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St Andrews – said that this was, to use a technical term much cited in international politics and relations, but possibly not in the Survival journal, a load of auld keech. Although I am paraphrasing there somewhat. Mind you auld keech is what Bear Grylls produces when he’s reading the Survival journal in the woods, so there’s a sort of cosmic circularity to it all.

However it is a fact that there was no rise in Republican violence before or during the Scottish referendum. Attacks carried out by dissident Republican groups in Northern Ireland remained at a constant level before, during and after Scotland’s referendum. There was no rise in Republic violence in Northern Ireland because Scotland was holding a referendum in 2014, and there will be no rise in Republican violence in Northern Ireland when Scotland holds its next referendum either. But that doesn’t suit the red white and blue pearl clutching narrative.

The only prospect of violence as a result of a Scottish independence vote will come from British nationalist extremists. But if we’re expecting the anti-independence parties to take responsibility for the trolls of British nationalism that their rhetoric of fear has unleashed, we’ll be in for a long wait. Instead we’ll see our newspapers full of more scare stories without substance. Opponents of independence are afraid that they’ve already lost the argument and can no longer rely upon being given the benefit of the doubt and so are being driven into increasingly hysterical scare stories. The misery of British nationalism bingo is set to become ever more ridiculous as Brexit bites and the British state loses its hold on the people of Scotland. But we have some bingo of our own. Number 1 – Kelly’s eye, Boris’s lie … Number 2 – We can rejoin the EU … Number 3 – Scotland’s free. … Number 4 – We don’t believe Tories any more …


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


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

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

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


The crucial year

The candidates for the Labour leadership and the Scottish Conservative branch office manager are lining up to say how much they oppose Scottish independence. Today it’s the turn of Labour leadership hopeful Jess Phillips, who’s relying on her reputation as a media personality in order to mask the fact that she has a poor grasp of democracy. Jess doesn’t think that there’s a mandate for another independence referendum because the SNP won “only” 45% of the popular vote in Scotland in the recent general election. By that logic, there has never been a Westminster government with any mandate to do anything at all.

When the Labour party under Tony Blair won its landslide victory in 1997, it achieved 43.2% of the popular vote, considerably less than the SNP managed in Scotland in December. In the 2001 General Election, Labour won with 40.1% of the vote. In the 2005 General Election Labour won a majority of 31 on just 35.2% of the popular vote. In fact there has never been a General Election within the lifetime of Jess Phillips, or indeed before she was born, in which the Labour party has won an absolute majority of the popular vote.

The 43.6% of the popular vote won by Boris Johnson in the December election is the highest vote share won by the victorious party in a UK General Election at any time since Margaret Thatcher won the 1979 General Election with 43.9% of the vote share. You have to go back to 1970 – 11 years before Jess Phillips was born – in order to find a winning party with a higher vote share than the SNP won in Scotland in December, that was when Ted Heath won with a majority of just 14 but achieved 46.4% of the popular vote. The closest any party has ever come to winning an absolute majority of the popular vote in the post war era was when the Conservatives won the 1955 General Election with 49.7% of the vote.

You have to go back to the interwar era in order to find a General Election where a party took a majority of the popular vote. In fact there has only been one occasion since the introduction of the mass franchise and votes for women that any party has won both a majority in the Commons and a majority of the popular vote, that was the Conservatives under Stanley Baldwin in the General Election of 27 October 1931, when the Tories took 55% of the votes.

According to the logic of Jess Phillips and all those British nationalists on social media who claim that there’s no mandate for another independence referendum because the SNP won “only” 45% there has only been one occasion in the UK since the introduction of the mass franchise and votes for women that any party has ever had a mandate for government. That was in 1931. The Labour party has never managed to surpass the 45% vote share won by the SNP in any election during Jess Phillips’s lifetime. The only times they managed it were in the General Elections of 1945, 1950, and 1951 when they won 47.7%, 46.1%, and 48.8% of the popular vote respectively. You may have noticed that all these numbers are less than 50%, which means that according to Jess Phillips logic there was no mandate to create the NHS, the social security system, or to abolish the Poor Laws.

Of course Jess Phillips and other British nationalists know that they’re applying a ridiculous and self-serving set of double standards. They don’t care. They’re desperate to clutch at any fig leaf that allows them to stand in the way of another referendum without appearing nakedly authoritarian. If the SNP had managed to win over 50% of the popular vote, the Jess Phillips of this world would merely be spouting some other spurious reason why Scotland should not be “allowed” another independence referendum.

Mind you, with Jess Phillips we’re dealing with an apparently serious candidate for the Labour party leadership who confesses that she can’t understand how anyone can support EU membership but reject being a part of the UK.  So we’re not exactly talking about someone with their finger on the pulse of politics in Scotland, or “up there”, as Jess puts it.

The real reason why the British nationalists are so determined to stand in the way of another Scottish referendum is because they realise that they’re likely to lose it. The more that support for independence builds within Scotland, the more the British nationalists will try to prevent a referendum because it will be ever more likely that they’ll go down to a historic defeat. What this means is that the SNP’s strategy of slowly building on support for independence within Scotland is not by itself going to be enough to get a referendum. What it does mean is that when that referendum does occur, it will be of a confirmatory nature, to confirm the settled decision of the people of Scotland, rather than a contested referendum campaign during which the decision is made and minds made up – rather like the devolution referendum of 1997 when there was little doubt that supporters of a Scottish parliament would win. It appears that the SNP leadership would prefer this second sort of referendum.

It’s the job of the SNP to get a referendum, but it’s the job of the mass grassroots independence movement to win the arguments for independence. That mass grassroots campaign is already losing patience with the SNP leadership, and there are already serious rumblings within the movement which cannot be ignored, rumblings which put in doubt the willingness of grassroots independence supporters to keep campaigning with no other result but to continually pile up mandate after mandate for an SNP which isn’t being seen to proactively pursue a referendum. Those tired and frustrated foot soldiers are unlikely to look sympathetically upon articles like that of former SNP candidate Toni Giugliano in The National today which ask the movement to look to the Holyrood elections of 2021 as the golden ticket to a Section 30 order. That will be a fifth mandate for a referendum for the SNP to put on the mantlepiece alongside the four it’s already got.

The grassroots movement is holding up its end of the deal. Campaigners are out there, persuading, arguing, making the case for independence. With Brexit imminent, they are redoubling their efforts as the arguments for independence are falling on fertile gound. There are groups all over Scotland who have never ceased their efforts, and who have no intention of giving up. However their reservoirs of enthusiasm and energy are not limitless, they need to see some definite progress on the part of the SNP leadership toward achieving its end of the deal, to bring about a referendum.

There have already been, to my knowledge, three separate proposals for another independence party to contest the 2021 Holyrood election. The danger for the SNP leadership is that if there is no substantial progress on bringing about a referendum, and they go into the 2021 election seeking yet another mandate for a Section 30 order, many grassroots independence supporters will not campaign for the SNP, and many in the grassroots will coalesce around some proposal or other for a single issue pro-indy party. That brings about the serious risk of losing a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament as the D’Hondt electoral system used in Holyrood elections is notoriously difficult to game.

What the movement expects from leading figures within the SNP is less talk of using 2021 to achieve yet another mandate that Westminster can ignore, and to see more action to tackle Westminster’s predictable refusal of a Section 30 order. The only way that the grassroots movement is going to tolerate the SNP leadership using 2021 to achieve yet another mandate is if we see alternative plans being put into place this year – plans such as legal action, plans to lay the ground for a referendum irrespective of a Westminster refusal, or plans to use the 2021 elections to win a mandate for independence itself. Above all, we need to see a more robust and assertive challenge to the blanket refusal of Westminster to a Section 30 order and to the assertions of British nationalists that a referendum can only be held with Westminster’s permission. This year isn’t just a crucial year for the independence movement, it’s also a crucial year for the leadership of the SNP.


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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

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


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

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

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


Invitation to the IndyApp training event in Perth

jpg article image

A guest post by Jason Baird of IndyApp

Calling ALL Indy Group members and ALL Indy organisations!

This is an open invite to a training event in Perth to every local indy group in Scotland … and to any pro-indy grassroots organisations and suppliers that would like to participate with them in building a fully inclusive campaigning network across the entire Yes movement. The purpose of the weekend is to practically and simply show how indy group memberships (and the wider Yes movement) can interact directly with one another, as a network of equals, using the simple to use communication functions of the IndyApp 3.0 platform

About the platform

The IndyApp platform is not traditional social media like Twitter or Facebook. It is not a publishing site focused on individuals, like those two traditional platforms are.
Instead, IndyApp3.0 has been designed to encourage the creation and networking of activist groups, like yours, working locally all over the country. IndyApp3.0 lets any Yesser find and join a local indy group – or create their own, and then easily make contact, share ideas, resources and campaign experiences with fellow indy groups from right across the platform. It’s a private and secure tool for the grassroots movement to organise ourselves nationally into an effective, local community-focused, indyref2-fighting monster!

Individuals are important for sure – but make no mistake, Scotland’s independence can only be won collectively. So we, the NYR, are creating a weekend event where pro-indy representatives from all over the country can come together to make sure Yes is properly networked this time, and organised, in every community of Scotland, ready to win IndyRef2 whenever it is called.

Only already organised activists in our local community groups, can begin this systematic networking of the movement. We all need to come together, face to face, and take responsibility for beginning that organisational process – and for making sure it actually gets carried forward and completed! We believe that the IndyApp3.0 networking platform, and the commitment shown by all attendees during this full training and network-building weekend will be a strong practical start, to cascade that networking across every group in Scotland, enabling self-organisation from within. The groups organising themselves to work and communicate together is the single most important way of strengthening the wider Yes movement as a whole.

After 5 years of work and support from key vanguard groups and individuals, we now have a grassroots communication platform designed and ready for exactly that purpose. We’ve just about raised the funds required to subsidise a full weekend of training for every indy group and Yes organisation committed to that networking idea and to supporting one another, together as a movement, to win. The Platform is built, the opportunity is in place – only you the groups can take it now and make it happen.
If you would like to support the event but cannot attend, our crowdfund is still open and currently at 67% so any help with that would be fantastic!

https://nationalyesregistry.scot/crowdfunding/

The IndyApp National Training and Networking Weekend is being held in the Perth Station Hotel over Saturday and Sunday on the 1st and 2nd of February.

Day 1

Registration, teas and coffees from 10 am, for an 11am sharp start – 17:30 end
Day 1 is full practical training. Working in groups, attendees will be taken through every local and national networking function of the platform. Practical lessons in the use of the Forums, Action Rooms, Resources and Editor Portal, exploring the strategic benefits to the grassroots of IndyApp 3.0

Day 2

Attendees will use their training from Day 1 to begin the structured network building process. This is the day that designers, suppliers, bloggers, broadcasters, national Yes organisations, Yes supporting political parties, pro-indy Union and community charity representatives are all welcome to attend and participate in creating the support structures required across the movement.

So, if you want your grassroots fully organised and networked nationally – then only you, in your autonomous local groups, can provide the legitimacy and critical mass needed to make it happen. All you, as groups, have to do is participate… but you do NEED to participate if you want that networked movement. No one else can, or is going to, do this for us!

If you want your group participating with all the other groups in this, time is short and places are limited. Please check the attached list of confirmed groups – if your group is not on the list yet, maybe find out why not? – Perhaps, if you are interested, you could come along as your group’s representative? You would be very welcome.
To book your group’s places, just follow this link

https://nationalyesregistry.scot/perth-training-weekend/

Attendee Logistics

This is NOT a turn up on the day event, it’s not a rally or a Gathering – it is full practical training from lesson plans, and structured networking for up to 200 activists (and their groups). This obviously requires a great deal of attendee/organiser planning to hold successfully, and so we, the organisers, MUST have the full list of all attendees to work from before the 20 th of January.

We have a total of 160 training places available (half of which are already taken) with another 40 Yes organisation places on top of that for Day2. Each place is £25 per person and is being heavily subsidised to include tea, coffee, snacks, lunch, evening meals and shared accommodation for Saturday night if required (plus breakfast). If you want to attend on behalf of your group but cannot afford even the subsidised attendee fee, please contact us and we will try to help. We do not want any group excluded from taking part in this grassroots training and network building process.

We are really looking forward to seeing you all for a great weekend of training, networking and most important of all, socialising with fellow activists from right across the country.

Come and help make it a flying start for Yes in 2020!

Representatives from the following groups will be attending.

01 AIM for Yes Garnock Valley & West Kilbride
02 Airdrie for Independence
03 AUOB
04 Aye Aberdeen
05 Aye Crieff
06 Aye2Aye Fort William
07 Ayrshire Indy
08 Be More Brechin/Brechin Yes
09 Butterflies Rising
10 Castle Douglas
11 Constitution
12 DGP4Indy
13 Grassroots Oban
14 Indy Group Alpha
15 Indy2 all the way
16 Inverclyde for Independence
17 InverYess
18 Kirkintilloch Lenzie and the Villages
19 Pensioners for Independence
20 SNP Sidlaws
21 Spirit of Independence
22 Yes Bearsden and Milngavie
23 Yes Bellshill and Mossend
24 Yes Blantyre
25 Yes Bute
26 Yes Clackmannanshire
27 Yes Dunfermline and West Fife
28 Yes Edinburgh North and Leith
29 Yes Edinburgh West
30 Yes Elgin
31 Yes G78
32 Yes Grangemouth
33 Yes Helensburgh and Lomond
34 Yes Inverness
35 Yes Kelty
36 Yes Kirkcaldy
37 Yes Kirrie
38 Yes London
39 Yes Marchmont and Morningside
40 Yes Perth City
41 Yes Ross & Sutherland
42 Yes Rutherglen and Cambuslang
43 Yes Shettleston
44 Yes Skye & Lochalsh
45 Yes Strathaven
46 Yes2Arbroath
47 YesEastwood

The president and the poodle

Has anyone seen Boris Johnson? If you have put the news on on the telly, you may have noticed that the world is teetering on the brink of catastrophe because Donald Trump has decided that his best route to victory in this year’s US presidential election is to start a war in the Middle East. This is, not so funnily enough, exactly what he warned that Obama would do when he was seeking a second term in office. Back then Trump said such a move would be a disaster and a sign that the president was unable to negotiate, and that the president would start a war for purely selfish reasons. So at least we know that he’s not wrong all the time.

Back in the UK, that supposedly leading player on the world stage, the state that prides itself on punching above its weight and being too big and too important for its ambitions to be contained within the structures of the EU, there’s been not a word from Boris Johnson. He’s been sunning himself and getting drunk in a luxury resort island in the Caribbean, the playground of millionaires, minor royals, and social climbers with more money than morals. In his absence, we’ve been left with Dominic Raab to represent us, and if that sentence doesn’t fill you with terror then probably nothing will. Being represented by Dominic Raab at a time of world crisis is like finding yourself lost in the wilderness with a very angry Uber driver with a throbbing vein in his forehead who’s missed his last three sessions of court ordered anger management classes.

Dominic has assured us that the UK is “on the same page” as the USA over the murder of the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani. We’re on the same page as a narcissistic arsonist who is setting fire to the planet in order to pursue his own selfish personal electoral interests and avoid facing possible prosecution in a number of looming court cases because as soon as he’s no longer president he loses his legal immunity. So that’s reassuring. How’s that punching above our weight thing working out for everyone in Scotland?

The Americans have claimed that Suleimani posed an “imminent” danger, but they haven’t said what this meant and haven’t provided any evidence. We’re just expected to take Donald Trump’s word for it. I hold no candle for Qassem Suleimani. The military leader of the hardline faction in a country which systematically abuses human rights is most likely not going to be a “nice person” by any rational definition of the term. However assassinating him as he arrived in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government – a government which is supposedly an ally of the USA and the UK – is a crime, pure and simple. If the Iranians had assassinated a leading British or American government figure as they arrived on a visit to a third country, this would be cited as evidence of state sponsored terrorism. It doesn’t magically stop being terrorism just because Donald Trump was the one who ordered it.

We’re now waiting to see how the Iranians will respond, which they most assuredly will. The world has become a far less safe place, and it wasn’t exactly secure to begin with. The American administration took this step without consulting or informing any of its allies. The UK didn’t know about it in advance. We shouldn’t be surprised. After all, you don’t consult with the poodle before you decide to go for a walk in the war park. Trump has threatened that if the Iranians do retaliate, his forces will target Iran’s interests, not just military interests but also sites of cultural importance. That’s a war crime, yet the UK is “on the same page” and is not condemning any of this.

Yet again we are seeing the UK being dragged into foreign adventurism in far away countries where we have no business being, this time in order to boost the electoral prospects of an American president who is mired in serious allegations of criminal behaviour. This is what punching above our weight really means. It means providing a fig leaf of internationalism to the behaviour of an out of control American president who thinks of nothing and no one but his own selfish interests. British citizens will die for this. Countless more people in the Middle East will die for this. And for what? Four more years of Donald Trump and pathetic cheerleading for his adventurism from British politicians who are taking the UK ouf of the EU because they are desperate to enrich themselves by opening up the UK to the predations of American corporations and desperate to avoid the tax supervision regulations of the EU. The UK only punches above its weight when it comes to prioritising the selfish private greed of the wealthy.

And where is Boris Johnson throughout all of this? He’s still in Mustique on holiday. He is apparently flying back to London on Sunday. In 2011 when he was mayor of London he refused to cut short his holiday in Canada when London was burning in the riots of that year. In 2020 he’s refused to cut short his holiday in Mustique when Donald Trump has set the Middle East on fire. He’s got his majority in the Commons, as far as he’s concerned the hard work is done. Although to be honest, nothing much will change whether he’s lying hauf-cut on a sunbed in Mustique or fnaugh-fnaughing in front of a camera in a BBC studio in London.

What will this new war achieve for the UK? More glorification of the armed forces, more poppies and parades, and more ignoring the needs of the wounded or those traumatised by their service who’re left homeless and begging on the streets. It will create more hatred for the UK abroad, and more death and destruction in places where the UK has no business being.

The UK’s constant warmongering and its willingness to go to war whenever an American president blows the war whistle for the poodle is an important and pressing reason for Scottish independence. We are constantly being told by British nationalists that Scotland depends upon the UK armed forces to defend it in a dangerous world, but the truth is that being a part of the UK makes Scotland a more dangerous place because it makes Scotland a part of and complicit in the actions of a state that doesn’t believe in peace. In the 313 years that Scotland has been a part of the UK, there have only been some 70 years when the UK was not engaged in military action somewhere in the world. That is not the record of a state which is devoted to peace. It’s the record of a state that sees military violence as something to be embraced.

An independent Scotland can create a defence force which is appropriate to the needs of Scotland, and appropriate to the needs of a country which believes in peace and which doesn’t enthusiastically involve itself in the dangerous adventurism of Whitehall or the Pentagon. Being a part of the UK doesn’t defend Scotland, doesn’t make Scotland a safer place. All it does is to make Scotland a part of a network of militarism which has no interest in what is best for Scotland or what is best for peace. Independence will not only make Scotland a safer place, it will be a small step towards helping make the world a safer place too. Independence means fewer Scots dying and killing in far away lands.


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
Donate Button

If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

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


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

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

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