Beware of Theresas despairing rifts

moralclaims
It took seven and a half hours of Theresa May arguing about Brexit with Conservatives who want her job to come up with a great new strategy, and that great new strategy consists of arguing about Brexit with a Labour leader who wants her job. They could have done this by email and saved everyone a whole lot of hassle. Brexit strategy has now come down to the worst Prime Minister in history asking the worst opposition leader in history for help.

Sky News’ Beth Rigby reported that 14 cabinet members were pressing for a no-deal Brexit or a short extension. 12 were demanding a lengthy extension, two kept schtum, and David Mundell hasn’t resigned yet. With a cabinet so hopelessly divided, Theresa May scuttled out of the cabinet meeting to a lectern to tell everyone that what was needed was a cross party compromise because she couldn’t achieve one with her own colleagues.

Compromise? Really Theresa? You don’t say. You know, if you’d done that immediately after the EU referendum then perhaps we wouldn’t all be in this mess now, and it’s taken you an entire day of arguing in order to come up with a cunning plan that ought to have been your first option all those many months ago. The cabinet came out and immediately they individual climbed into separate cars, refusing to answer questions because they don’t have any answers, refusing to speak to one another because they’re no longer on speaking terms.

This is so bad that sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a chocolate hobnob won’t make it all feel better. It’s like after months of arguing about Brexit, and now we’ve drawn the office energy vampire as our secret santa. That’s the future for British politics, arguing about Brexit forever. We didn’t even get a reaction shot of one-man harrumphage Mark Francois as he heard the news that the Prime Minister was apparently ruling out a no-deal Brexit. We could have done with the laugh. Arch-Brexist Mark is what you would get if Captain Mainwaring and an erupting pluke had a love child.

Theresa May’s words were warm like a toilet seat in a public lavvy. It’s not what you expected and it leaves you feeling uncomfortable. And you’d be right to be uncomfortable. There is an implicit trap lurking in Theresa May’s offer to hold talks with Jeremy Corbyn and to seek a short extension to Article 50. Beware of Theresa Mays despairing rifts.

The concern here is that the Prime Minister still wants to avoid any need for the UK to participate in the EU elections. That’s why she’s insistent on a short extension, and she wants the UK to leave the EU by May 22. If the UK remains in the EU beyond that date, legally it must participate in the European elections, which the Prime Minister is determined to avoid, despite all her talk on Tuesday evening of finding a cross party compromise. The worry is that if Labour, and the EU, are foolish enough to consent to her short extension, then the date of May 22 becomes the last possible date for the UK to remain in the EU because by then it will be too late for the UK to organise European elections. It would mean that there could be no further extensions. Then it really does come down to a choice between Theresa May’s deal and no deal at all, because the Prime Minister will have succeeded in taking the possiblity of further extensions off the table.

The other part of the trap is by involving Corbyn, May broadens the blame for failure to come up with a deal that Parliament can agree on. It means that the Conservatives can blame Labour for a Conservative-made disaster. Theresa May doesn’t do compromise. She doesn’t do listening. She doesn’t do consensus. She doesn’t do honesty, and she certainly can’t be taken at her word because her words are always hedged about with caveats and unstated conditions. This is compromise, but only if you define compromise as setting up a fall guy so that there’s someone else to take the rap. This is a compromise that will consist of meeting with Jeremy, having a wee chat about a customs union, rejecting it, and then blaming Jezza for the breakdown in talks.

She’ll probably invite Chuka Umunna as well, so Jeremy will flounce off before the meeting even starts. May says she is offering to sit down with Jeremy to come up with a plan to leave with a deal. But that deal must include her withdrawal agreement. So in other words she doesn’t really want compromise at all. She just wants to see if she can get some Labour MPs to support her.

If Labour were at all wise, they would remind the Conservative leader that in 2016 she said that only the Conservatives could deliver Brexit, and they are going to ensure that she’s held to her word. This is a Tory mess, they need to own it. They need to take responsibility for it. But then Labour and wisdom are two concepts that usually only appear in the same sentence when there’s a negative in there too. Jeremy Corbyn has said that he’s “very happy” to meet with Theresa. The first item on the agenda at the meeting should be “How can anyone believe a word that Theresa May says?” Her last statement was to blame it on Parliament. Her next will be to blame it on Labour.

Still, at least she’s not seeking to speak to the SNP as well. But then Scotland isn’t for listening to, it’s only for being ignored and existing as a reason that whatever Brexit plan is finally decided the British government will still be able to threaten the Scots with pauperisation. We learned today that one of the reasons Theresa May is opposed to the so-called Norway plus option is because it would mean that in a future Scottish independence referendum campaign, the British government would no longer be able to threaten Scotland with a hard border and trade barriers.

So we will give the final word to Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP who left to join Ukip, and who was a co-founder of the Vote Leave campaign. Today Douglas shared some wisdom, and said, “Imagine that there was a union of free nations, but that it then attempted to punish one of its members for wanting to leave it? What might that say about the moral claims of such a union?”

Yes Douglas. Indeed. What does it say about the UK?


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The false choice

falsechoice
As the Commons continues to be deadlocked over Brexit, and a no deal crashing out looms, the blame game has got into full swing. So at least MPs are able to agree on something. They’re all able to agree that it’s not their party’s fault. Brexcrementalists blame the EU and remainers. Theresa May blames the House of Commons. David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet and Labour’s Ian Murray blame the SNP.

What is worrying is that the Conservative party leadership is quite likely to go for a no-deal Brexit as their least-worst option once May’s deal is finally declared so dead that not even the voodoo zombie spells of the Prime Minister can revive it. By least-worst that does of course mean that it would be the least-worst option for the Conservative party, not the least-worst option for everyone else. For the rest of us, a no-deal Brexit would be chaotic. It threatens jobs. It threatens the supply of vital medicines. It threatens all our futures. Yet it’s the most likely outcome because it’s the outcome which does least damage to the Conservative party. Bugger the rest of us.

The Conservative party doesn’t want another referendum because they fear that Brexit would be lost and angry leave voters would reject the party in a subsequent election and their own overwhelmingly leave supporting membership would flounce off en masse to Nigel Farage. They don’t want a snap General Election because there’s no conceivable manifesto on Brexit around which the party could coalesce. They don’t want a long extension to Article 50 because then the UK would have to participate in the European elections and the Conservatives would get thrashed. They don’t want a closer relationship with the EU because then they can’t pose as being tough on immigration and it makes it harder for them to threaten Scotland with a hard border in a future independence referendum. They don’t even want a customs union because then the UK can’t make its own trade deals with Mauretania and they’ll be accused of betrayal by the right wing press.

This mess is now and has always been about the narrow party interests of the Conservative party. It’s a shockingly reprehensible state of affairs. They are quite prepared to trash the entire UK in order to preserve their own party advantage. They’d accept no-deal because the careerists in the cabinet with their eye on the leadership know that the Brexit extremists in the party membership would be happy with it, and that’s the wildly unrepresentative electorate which will choose the next Prime Minister. They’d accept no-deal because it’s got more support amongst the party membership than any other option. But mostly they’d accept no-deal because then they’d be able to blame everyone else for the disaster that their own selfishness and short-sightedness had created. They’ll blame remainers. They’ll blame the EU. They’ll blame Labour and the SNP. The only certainty remaining in British politics is that the Conservatives won’t accept any responsibility for a calamity that they themselves created.

Theresa May didn’t have to invoke Article 50 when she did. She rushed into it in order to give the Conservatives an advantage in the English local elections held the following month, and Labour foolishly went along with her. It was then and has always been about the short term political advantage of the Conservatives. Then she wasted two years with her Brexit means Brexit nonsense, and her refusal to engage with anyone except the right wing of her own party. She imposed entirely unnecessary red lines in an attempt to placate the Brexit extremists, and she treated remainers, Scotland, and the fraught issue of Northern Ireland with utter contempt pandering to the bigots of the DUP and refusing to listen to anyone else.

Everything is to be sacrificed on the altar of the narrow result produced by the 2016 referendum. The government chooses to turn a blind eye to the mountain of evidence that the campaign for leaving the EU was corrupt, deceitful, that it was founded in lies, in the omission of important facts, and that it promised a fantasy that could never be achieved. All we hear from this government is that the result must be honoured, even as it trashes the result of the Scottish referendum of 2014 when Scotland was promised that it would be an equal partner in a union, and that it must vote against independence in order to remain a part of the EU, and the referendum of 1997 when the people of Scotland voted for a devolution settlement that the British government has unilaterally undermined. Some referendum results and promises are clearly more important than others.

Yet even if some deal can be cobbled together, or Brexit delayed further or even if Article 50 was by some miracle revoked, the political future of the UK will be defined and deformed by Brexit for decades to come. Those who oppose Scottish independence bewail the political divisions caused by the indy debate. Yet if Scotland remains a part of the UK we’ll have both those divisions plus the divisions of Brexit. That’s our future as a subordinate North Britain. There’s only one way to make it all stop. There’s only one way to change the narrative, there’s only one way to end the UK’s blame game. That’s with independence.

The entire system of governance in the UK, the government, parliament, the unwritten constitution, and the wildly unrepresentative voting system, all of them are unfit for purpose. Yet even now, even as this crisis unfolds, there is no discussion about how to tackle the underlying issues, and no serious appetite in England for constitutional reform. Why should anyone want to live with a government which treats its citizens like this.

Why should Scotland want to live as part of a state which treats its citizens like this? We have a different choice. The choice facing Scotland is not the choice of Theresa May’s dead deal, or no-deal and crashing out of the EU. The choice facing Scotland is not a false choice between options which suit the Conservative party. The choice facing Scotland is whether to keep putting up with this, or whether to determine our own future.


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The Tory government, the Tory state

subvertingdemocracy
The Conservative government of Theresa May doesn’t accept that the public might have changed its mind about Brexit, but it’s hell bent on repeatedly bringing Theresa May’s deal back to the Commons in the hope that MPs might have changed their minds. Jacob Rees Mogg changed his mind, but Jacob went to Eton and his personal wealth insulates him from any of the ill effects of Brexit, so Theresa May allows him, indeed encourages him, to change his mind. You and me, well our minds were forever pickled in the aspic of the vote in June 2016 because we’re little people who can’t cope with the complexities of decision making more than once every decade or so. There’s one rule for the Tories, and one rule for everyone else.

Now we’re hearing that if Boris Johnson manages to become the next leader of the Conservatives, then the Scottish Conservatives are considering breaking away. They don’t want independence for Scotland, but they do want it for themselves. Clearly, there’s something of a pattern here with Tories wanting something for themselves that they’re not prepared to let anyone else have.

According to reports over the weekend, the prospect of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister is so horrendous to Ruth Davidson that her and her wee band of spineless photo-oppers are considering breaking away from the Conservative party in order to establish a separate Scottish Conservative and Unionist party. It all sounds a bit like David Mundell’s resignation threats really.

However if we were to believe that the Scottish Tories are serious and aren’t just mouthing off with meaningless threats again, then they’re horrified by the prospect of a Boris Johnson government, but not horrified enough that they’ll do anything to prevent Scotland from suffering under it. This threat of theirs has considerably more to do with their desire to pretend that Boris and his government would have nothing to do with them, even while they continue to prop it up and troop into the voting lobbies alongside Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in Westminster. The move is all about protecting their own prospects of election within Scotland and Ruth Davidson’s laughably unrealistic aim of becoming the next First Minister. Thanks for that. Nice to know where their priorities lie. The real reason that the Conservatives want Scotland to remain a part of the UK is so that they have more people to troll.

The reports also mentioned that many in the Scottish Conservatives would prefer Michael Gove as a new leader, because even though he’s a Brexcrementalist and shares responsibility along with Boris Johnson for leading the Vote Leave campaign which was found guilty of breaking electoral law, he’s seen as more of a centrist. The fact that the Scottish Conservatives think that Michael Gove is more of a centrist only illustrates how far removed from reality the party has become.

Neither Boris Johnson nor Michael Gove should be permitted onto the same landmass as a shot at the leadership of the Conservative party and the prospect of becoming the next Prime Minister. These are individuals who led a referendum campaign which was founded on lies. It was a campaign which refused to define what Brexit means, and Gove and Johnson are now happy for that definition to be hijacked by extremists who claim that Brexit means no deal at all. Yet even worse than any of that, the campaign has been found to have broken electoral law and has announced that it will not appeal against the decision finding that its actions were illegal.

Both Johnson and Gove insist that they did nothing wrong, and if we take them at their word that they were not involved in any law-breaking, then that leaves only two possibilities. Either they knew that the campaign which they led was breaking the law and they chose to turn a blind eye to it, or they didn’t know in which case they are hopelessly incompetent and bereft of the leadership qualities which they are now trying to persuade us all that they possess. Either of those possibilities makes them unfit for high office, and yet they are still willing to allow the result to stand and to reap the benefits of it for their careers, despite the fact that even the Vote Leave campaign itself has conceded that it was obtained illegally.

Gove and Johnson bear a large share of the responsibility for the mess that the UK is now in. Neither of them is fit to become the teaboy in the cabinet office never mind the Prime Minister. They make even David Mundell who hasn’t resigned yet appear a giant of moral and political probity, but they’re still the favourite runners for the leadership amongst the Conservatives. This is a party which is resisting any attempts to revisit the outcome of the referendum and resisting any suggestion that Johnson and Gove’s roles in that campaign should be investigated while excitedly discussing their chances of taking the leadership. All by itself that tells us all we need to know about the moral bankruptcy of the Conservative party.

Today, Monday, the Commons is having a second round of indicative votes in order to try and cobble together something, anything, that MPs can agree on. There are four proposals being put to MPs, all of which either stop Brexit, propose a referendum, or a closer relationship with the EU than Theresa May is prepared to countenance. There’s a vote on a customs union, a Norway style relationship, a referendum to give the public a final say on whatever deal is finally agreed, and finally a vote to seek an extension to Article 50 with a vote between revoking it or pressing ahead with no deal if nothing can be agreed. Whether any of them can get a majority is anyone’s guess, but it’s a safe bet that Theresa May will continue to ignore what the Commons is telling her.

The government is opposed and has instructed cabinet ministers to abstain. Theresa May’s cabinet can’t decide on anything, and it doesn’t want anyone else to either. No one else is allowed to make their minds up, because they might make their minds up that when Theresa May says it’s her deal or no deal, that she’s only showing that the British Prime Minister and reality are not on speaking terms. We’re all in this mess because Theresa May has fought tooth and nail to ensure that the interests of the Conservative party come first and foremost, and she’s not about to give up now. If everyone were allowed to make up their own minds, they might be minded not to put the interests of the Tories first, and that can never be allowed.

Independence activists warned in 2014 that a vote against independence was a vote to subject Scotland to Conservative rule. What’s happening now is even worse than the worst fears voiced then. The entire British state is being subverted to the interests of the Conservatives. All our futures, all our prospects, all our futures are on the line, subordinated to the Conservatives’ single minded desire to put their party before all other considerations. Scotland’s needs don’t even register.

Speculation is mounting that we’re in for another General Election. This will be a vote between prioritising the interests of the Tories, or voting to put Scotland first. You know what makes sense.


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The fork in the road

jockoland
The SNP’s Joanna Cherry was told by a pro-Brexit protester that she was a traitor and that she should go back to her own country. I’m quite sure that Joanna would be more than happy to return to Scotland, however the issue here is that until Scotland achieves independence, Westminster rule, Brexit, and a government headed by whatever careerist climbs to the top of the Tory greasy pole, will only follow her, bringing all the myriad problems and neuroses of the British state with them to visit upon Scotland too.

The government is close to collapse. The sclerotic British political system is deadlocked and in crisis, and there’s no clear route out of a mess that’s been created because the features of the British state which were once seen as the strengths of British democracy have now turned into its greatest weaknesses. A first past the post electoral system no longer produces strong governments, it produces weak governments who presume to absolute power on the basis of a minority of votes. The unwritten constitution is no longer a source of flexibility, but rather an excuse for a mendacious government to make up rules to suit itself. The two party system has become a recipe for majoritarianism where each of the two major parties is more interested in gaining its own turn at absolute power than it is in seeking to build consensus, and short term party interest becomes the only important political consideration. And Scotland is a powerless victim of the malignancies of English nationalism.

All this is happening, and yet the Conservative party’s leadership is far more concerned with an impending leadership contest as the only way of keeping their fractious and inept party of inadequates together. The challengers for the Conservative leadership, and it’s a very long and tedious list, are without exception a feeble bunch of lying, duplicitous chancers. And those are their good qualities. You’ll find more intellectual heft and human kindness in the stale crumbs left at the bottom of a family sized bucket of chicken from KFC the afternoon after the party the night before.

Not one of them has an answer to the many difficulties and issues facing the British state. They don’t want answers to those questions, because it’s only due to the weaknesses of the British state that they have the opportunity of taking the leadership and wielding the absolute power of their predecessor. So we have a series of mediocrities as Prime Minister, each one vying for the title of Worst Prime Minister Ever. It’s not a bug that British rule produces the leadership of the mediocre. It’s a feature.

Take, as an example, the freestyle musings of minor Conservative minister, Jake Berry. No, I’ve no idea either, but apparently he’s the Minister for the Northern Powerhouse. Which is a real government thing which doesn’t actually refer to a rickety nuclear power station in Cumbria. Anyway, Jake thinks that the way to unite the whole of the UK after the traumas of the Brexit that’s not happened yet is to commission a new royal yacht which he’d like to call the Brexitannia. Which would be the first time that a ship has ever hit an iceberg and gone to the bottom of the ocean before it’s even got off the drawing board.

Let’s make sure that we get something clear though, before the Tories start their leadership contest, and try to change the narrative to something more beneficial to themselves. Brexit is their fault. Useless and ideologically hidebound as Jeremy Corbyn is, swithering and equivocating as he is, as mediocre as any Tory leadership candidate as he is, being as useful as a defence against Brexit as a shred of wet toilet paper protects you from a rainstorm as he is, Brexit is not his fault.

Brexit is not the fault of the Lib Dems, even though their desire for a second referendum on the EU issue but their refusal to countenance one for Scotland is as hypocritical as anything you’ll find in the Conservative cabinet.

Brexit is not the fault of the SNP, who have consistently argued against Brexit from the start, and who have proposed policies to mitigate Brexit’s effects which have been ignored by Westminster. This is not the fault of the Greens. It is not the fault of Plaid Cymru. This is most certainly not the fault of the EU, who have been clear about what they will and will not accept from the very beginning.

This mess is the fault of the Conservative party which panders to the Brexcrementalists of Ukip, and it’s particularly the fault of those who hold prominent positions within that Conservative party. They own this shitshow, and no one else. They’ve trashed the UK, they’ve trashed their so-called precious union, and they’ll go on to trash our lives, livelihoods, jobs, and prospects in pursuit of the mythical exceptionalism of the vainglorious English nationalism that wraps itself in a union fleg and calls itself British.

So when you’ve lost your job and your home thanks to the chaos of the Conservatives’ Brexit, and you’re sleeping in a rolled up bit of mouldy carpet next to a burnt out branch of Lidl that was thoroughly looted in the Brextastrophe, you can still rest easy and bask in the warmth of the knowledge that the Tories managed to maintain party cohesion. Thank the gods that they are putting our interests first, eh. Luckily Jacob Rees Mogg’s company had the foresight to buy up all the stock market futures in mouldy bits of carpet and those used cardboard cups from Costas that you need for effective begging.

It’s only going to get worse. Whoever takes over as Conservative leader from Theresa May will only do so by appealing to a Conservative party membership that has been heavily infiltrated by former Ukip members. That’s who will lead the next stage of negotiations with the EU, and they’ll pursue the neo-conservative wet dream of a privatised state. There is a very real prospect of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And who is his sole supporter amongst Scottish Tory MPs? Who is the sole Scottish Conservative that he can trust? Who is the most likely candidate for Scottish Secretary of State in a Boris Johnson government? That would be Ross Thomson. And you thought things were bad now.

Britain is broken. It’s been broken by its own establishment, by those who claim to love it, by those who seek to lead it. Britain is broken because it has long since turned into a vehicle for personal ambitions and personal enrichment. It would be good if it could be fixed, because it’s not in Scotland’s interests to have a binfire basketcase as a next door neighbour, but we must concentrate on getting ourselves out of this calamity that has been inflicted upon us because as a nation we were too lacking in self-confidence to make our own way in the world. It’s time to reject the banging drums of sectarianism that will only beat louder in Brexit Britain. It’s time to make a moral stand. It’s time to say that we as a nation can be better than this. It’s time to find our voice, and to use it.

An independent Scotland will not be a paradise. It will not lead to the immediate solution for all the ills that beset us. But at least we’d be responsible for our own mess, and have the tools at our disposal to clear it up, and the means to hold to account those who had caused it. It’s time to find some backbone and stand up and become the agents of our own destiny. Otherwise we’ll descend into irrelevance as an impoverished and ignored province of North Britain. We’re standing at a fork in history. Choose the right path. It’s a future as Brexit Britain’s Jockoland Theme Park, a tartan ribbon to allow English nationalists to pretend they’re not nationalist at all while Scotland is traduced, ignored, sidelined, and pauperised, or we can choose independence and self respect.


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An open letter to Brexiteers from Scotland

leaverschoice
Usually, this blog is written for a readership of Scottish independence supporters, a majority of whom support Scotland remaining within the EU, just as a majority of Scotland’s voters as a whole supported remaining within the EU. This article is different. It’s intended as an open letter to those, both within Scotland and elsewhere in the UK, who voted to leave the EU. The argument made in this article is not a intened as a warning, it’s not meant as a threat. It’s simply a statement of the consequences of what you voted for if you voted for the UK to leave the EU. You’ve also voted to end the United Kingdom.

Those of us in Scotland who voted remain, which is a large majority of the electorate, often hear leavers tell us that the UK voted as one country and so it shall leave as one country. That’s your problem right there. The UK is not one country. It consists of three countries and part of another. The UK is, as we’re always being told by Theresa May and other British nationalists, a precious union. It consists of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. We’re not seeing much evidence of any awareness of that reality from those who are forcing Brexit upon Scotland.

One of those countries, Scotland, had an independence referendum in 2014 and voted to stay a part of the UK. But we didn’t vote against independence unconditionally. Scotland voted against independence because promises and commitments were made to Scotland by those proponents of the British state who campaigned to keep Scotland a part of the UK. We were promised that we’d be an equal partner in a family of nations. We were promised that we’d have stronger and better devolution. We were promised that Scotland would be respected. We were promised that the only way to ensure the stability of our democratic structures was to remain a part of the UK. We were promised that EU membership was only a possibility if we remained a part of the UK. Every single one of those promises and commitments lies broken and bleeding on the floor of the House of Commons.

Today, on What Would Have Been Brexit Day But Isn’t, as I watched the pro-Brexit protesters outside Westminster talking about their feelings of betrayal, about how the political class had let them down, about their loss of faith in British democracy, all I could think of was “Welcome to our world”. Because all the ills that you claim the EU inflicts on the UK, the UK has inflicted on Scotland, only ten times worse. You didn’t need to ask the EU for permission to have the referendum, yet Scotland is told it needs permission even to ask itself the question.

In Scotland, the majority of people look on the shambles of Brexit with horror, revulsion, and with growing anger. We hear plenty of talk of respecting the will of the 17.4 million. We hear nothing at all about respecting the views of a Scotland that voted to remain and which voted to remain in the EU by a considerably larger margin than it voted to remain a part of the UK. Scotland is only in this situation to begin with because in the independence referendum campaign of 2014 those who are driving Brexit promised the people of Scotland that they’d listen to us and respect us.

Brexit supporters talk a lot about respecting the will of the people, about how angered they are that politicians in Westminster are not listening to them and not fulfilling the promises they made. Your pleas and cries might have more understanding in Scotland if you had expressed similar outrage when the promises made to Scotland were so casually tossed aside. But you didn’t. The way in which the promises made to Scotland were traduced and contemptuously dismissed by the Conservative party passed unremarked amongst the great majority of Brexit’s supporters. The original project fear was the project fear that Scotland was subjected to in 2014, yet you sat in silence. So you will forgive us if our sympathy for your plight is limited.

Brexit has taught us in Scotland that we get what England votes for. It has taught us that in the eyes of the British establishment, the claim that this is a precious union is a hollow hypocrisy. It has exposed the so called union as a myth. Yet we have seen how that supposedly evil EU, that so-called monolithic bloc, has respected and listened to the concerns of Ireland. There is a nation in these islands which is an equal partner in a family of nations. But it’s not Scotland.

The scales have fallen from the eyes of many people in Scotland who voted against independence in 2014. A series of opinion polls have shown that a majority of the Scottish electorate believe that independence would be better than any form of Brexit. An opinion poll published just today has shown that amongst those undecided on the Scottish constitutional question, Brexit has caused 63% to believe that Brexit makes Scottish independence more likely, and 45% say that Brexit has changed their view on Scottish independence. The United Kingdom was already hanging on a shoogly peg. The shock of Brexit will make it fall.

One way or another, Scotland will have its say on its future. Realistically, if Scotland can only be kept in the UK because a British prime minister with little support in Scotland refuses to allow Scotland to have a vote, then the UK is already dead. However contrary to what you read in the British press, Scotland does not require the permission of a British prime minister in order to ask itself a question about its future. The legality of a consultative referendum under the auspices of Holyrood is yet to be tested in the courts. Remember that the EU referendum which you set such store by was itself a consultative referendum. And there is absolutely nothing to prevent Scotland’s political parties turning the next set of elections in Scotland into an effective referendum on Scotland’s future. We will have our say.

Do not stand in Scotland’s way. Do not force us to participate in your British nationalism. Otherwise you will yourselves to be acting exactly like that EU you claim to despise so much, imposing your will on another country and revealing Brexit as an epic exercise in hypocrisy.

So, to you British nationalists out there, you proponents of Brexit, you Brexiteers, you no-deal advocates, you leavers, I’ll leave you with this: you can have your Brexit, or you can have your United Kingdom. You can’t have both.


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Wee Ginger Dugcast – 29 March 2019

Welcome to the So It’s Not Brexit Day After All edition of the Wee Ginger Dugcast, in which Callum and I discuss Brexit, Theresa May falling on her sword and missing, Orange Flute Bands outside Westminster, the strange case of Ross Thomson, what comes next, the implications for Scotland, and much more besides.


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

The dreadful prospect

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Theresa May has, finally, told us that she’s going. Well sort of. She’s told Tory MPs that she’s going to go if her deal gets passed by the Commons, although that wish of hers remains as elusive as her reputation for human warmth and conviviality. Some of the Jacob Rees Mogg fanboys and girls have reluctantly decided to back her because they fear any sort of Brexit is slipping from their grasp. Jacob Rees Mogg said he’d back the deal if the DUP either backed it or abstained. But the DUP are still not keen and have let it be known that they’d prefer a long delay to Theresa May’s deal, they’re going to vote against. Others in the ERG remain as impacably opposed as ever. Steve Baker told a meeting of the ERG that he’d prefer to see the Palace of Westminster bulldozed into the Thames. So much for restoring the sovereignty of the British parliament.

Meanwhile any attempt by the Prime Minister to bring her deal to yet another vote depends on the Speaker, who is still blocking any attempt to bring about a third meaningless meaningful vote unless there is a substantial change to the offer presented to Parliament. There’s no such change in the offing, certainly not from a Prime Minister as bereft of influence and imagination as the dead career of the woman who currently occupies Number 10. She changes her mind constantly while claiming nothing has changed, yet she’s consistent in her refusal to allow the electorate to change its mind. She says another vote would destroy the public’s faith in British democracy. That ship has already sailed, hit the iceberg, and is now dead and lifeless on the ocean floor.

So Theresa May has promised to go, but she’s going to remain in place. Nothing has changed. Nothing has changed. What we do have is an assurance from a woman whose word counts for nothing that she will not lead the next stage of the Brexit process, the negotiations between the UK and the EU on the future relationship. She’s surrendering that to her successor, who is likely to come from the hard right Brexcrementalist wing of the party.

Theresa May came to power in the wake of the Brexit decision and promised to listen. She promised to fight against injustice. She promised a bold new confident role for the UK in the world. She promised to cherish and respect her precious precious union. She has failed on every measure. There has been no Prime Minister in living memory whose failures have been so conclusive, so overwhelming, so total. She combines the self-righteousness and lack of compassion of Margaret Thatcher with the emotional intelligence of a block of wood.

Foodbanks spread across the UK, trying to put a plaster on the gaping wounds of a social security system that is no longer social and no longer secure. The rich continue to get richer while working people struggle and the poor and disadvantaged remained marginalised. Hedge fund managers sprout while working people wither. Instead of a bold and confident new UK we have the humiliation of becoming the laughing stock of Europe and have a political class who are consumed by party interest and whose contempt for the electorate is inversely proportional to the number of times that they mention respecting the result of the EU referendum. We have a political system which is unfit for purpose, sclerotic, self-serving, and which congralutates itself on being the mother of parliaments while it condemns mothers and their children to poverty and social exclusion.

Worst of all, Theresa May has done absolutely nothing about the frustrations, the inequalities, the anger and the alienation which produced the Brexit vote in the first place. Her so-called precious union has been revealed as a comforting myth told by British nationalists who cover themselves in the fig leaf of a Union flag in order to pretend to themselves that they’re not nationalists at all. At every turn she ignored the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament, she used Brexit as an excuse to undermine the devolution settlement. Brexit has revealed the truth that there is nothing in this supposed union to protect the other nations of the UK from the baneful effects of English nationalism, and so the UK is not a union at all.

The one principle that Theresa May has consistently put before all others is her desire to keep her party together. Everything else, the fate of the UK, the economy, the jobs of hundreds of thousands of workers, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU, all of it has been sacrificed on the altar of the tinpot gods of the European Research Group in an effort to propiciate the unpropiciable and keep the warring factions of the Conservatives together. Yet Theresa May hasn’t even succeeded in doing that.

The promise to step down came as the Government lost control of Parliament and MPs took charge of business in order to vote on a series of indicative votes. The result of which Theresa May has already signalled that she may not respect.

The results were delayed until Parliament’s staff could sort through the various options selected by MPs and ensure an accurate count. The Speaker John Bercow announced that he’d suspend the sitting until the results were ready, and left the chamber. Then various Conservative MPs objected because the mace remained in place which usually means that the sitting is still on-going, and tried to raise points of order to an empty chair. Now they know how the rest of the country feels trying to get Theresa May to listen.

When the results came in, MPs voted against everything. It was like that line from Bohemian Rhapsody. No. No. No. No. No. No. Mama mia. There is no agreement in the House of Commons except for the agreement that no one can agree. The one small consolation was that the proposal to leave with no deal was rejected by the largest margin.

Ross Thomson voted against every motion except that one, and the motion to call on the government to seek preferential trade agreements with the EU. He was the only Scottish MP to vote for no deal. Way to go to protect the interests of your remain voting constituency there Ross. 68% of voters in Aberdeen South voted to remain. That vote is going to figure prominently in the next election in Aberdeen South. We’ll make sure of it.

Three of his Scottish Conservative colleagues abstained. The MP for Angus (52% remain) Kirstene Hair, and her colleagues Douglas Ross of Moray (50% remain) and John Lamont of Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk (Remain 57%) all abstained on a no deal. Thanks for your support in protecting your constituents’ interests guys.

David Mundell abstained on all the options, as government ministers didn’t vote. Falkirk’s MP, the SNP’s John McNally, was absent due to a family bereavement.

Every one of the eight different options put before the Commons was rejected. But it was worth noting that two of the options, the proposal to agree to Theresa May’s deal subject to a confirmatory referendum with remain as an option, and Kenneth Clark’s proposal for a customs union, got more votes than Theresa May’s deal did. The proposal for a confirmatory referendum was rejected by 27 votes. 27 Labour MPs voted against it.

The UK continues its stagger into the unknown. There’s no plan, no direction, only the certainty that whoever succeeds Theresa May will be every bit as bad for Scotland. We’re facing the very real prospect of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, or Michael Gove, or Jeremy Hunt, or Dominic Raab. The next phase of negotiations with the EU, the negotiations on the future relationship, the part we were always told was going to be the hard bit, will be headed by someone even worse than Theresa May. That’s the dreadful prospect facing a Scotland that doesn’t opt for independence. It’s a future of paralysis, of being marginalised, of seeing our public services being trashed.

In the referendums of 2014 and 2016 there was no option on the ballot paper for Scotland to scream uselessly from the sidelines while being ignored and traduced. But that’s what we’ve got. The UK doesn’t deliver for Scotland. We need to do it for ourselves.


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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.