The propaganda office

dopenopehopeless
When the Scottish Office was established in 1885 its main job was to oversee the various government departments operating within Scotland, Scottish education, farming, and other government roles. However the most important single task for the Scottish Office and the Secretary of State who headed it was to represent Scotland at cabinet level within the British Government. The founding of the Scottish Office gave Scotland a guaranteed seat in the cabinet, and ensured that there was a cabinet minister whose main role was to stand up for Scottish interests at the highest level of British government. That remained the main task of Scottish Secretaries for over 100 years. Within the unwritten constitution of the UK, the Scottish Office was the only official representation that Scotland possessed in the corridors of power of Whitehall, and the only recognition that the British Government did indeed represent a union of nations and was not merely the political expression of Greater England.

Devolution changed the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland. Many of the prior responsibilities of the Office now fell to the new Scottish Parliament. But even so, the main role of the Scotland Office, as it’s now known, remained representing Scotland at cabinet level. The Scotland Secretary was still supposed to act as Scotland’s voice in the British government. That remained the case all the way through the first decade of devolution.

But following the accession to power of the Conservatives in 2010, all that has changed. The main task of the Scotland Office is no longer to represent Scotland within the UK government. The role of the Scotland Secretary is no longer to stand up for Scottish interests in cabinet. According to the website of the Scotland Office, the most important duties of the department are to “strengthen and maintain the union”, to “champion the UK Government in Scotland”, and to “represent and advocate for the UK Government’s policies in Scotland”.

The focus of the organisation has been turned on its head, it now acts to represent the British Government in Scotland. The main role of the Scotland Secretary is to promote the British Government. The Scotland Secretary is no longer Scotland’s representative in cabinet, he or she is the cabinet’s representative in Scotland. The Scotland Office no longer exists in order to give shape to Scottish distinctiveness at a Westminster level, it exists in order to crush it. It’s the Department For Putting Union Flags On Things And Telling Us To Be Grateful.

The Scotland Office is funded out of the money that Westminster allocates to Scotland. Its ballooning budget is not intended to strengthen and defend Scotland’s distinctive interests within Westminster, it’s a nakedly political operation which has the goal of promoting the policies and politics of the British government of the day within Scotland. The Scotland Office’s spending on spin doctors and communications officials has ballooned under the Conservatives. Spending has increased seven fold from £108,439 annually in 2010/11 to £686,166.29 in 2016/17. That’s taxpayers’ money being spent directly on people whose job is the promotion within Scotland of Conservative policies that Scotland didn’t vote for.

That’s all bad enough, but the real scandal here is that the change in focus and goal for the Scotland Office means that Scotland and Scottish interests no longer have formal representation at the very highest level of British Government. Instead we have a Department for British Propaganda which is hoovering up more and more of the funding which ought to be spent on public services in Scotland. Yet this change was carried out unilaterally, without any consultation with the people of Scotland, without our permission being asked or our consent sought. If Scotland really was a partner in a precious union, then those changes would not have been made without the express consent of the people of Scotland. Instead they were introduced unilaterally by a political party which hasn’t won a General Election in Scotland since the 1950s, with the express aim of benefiting that party and promoting its policies. Yet it’s the people of Scotland who are paying for this propaganda.

Scotland is told that it’s a part of a Union, but it’s a part of a Union which lacks any constitutional safeguards for its constituent parts, a union in which there is absolutely nothing to prevent the interests and concerns of the largest partner in that union riding roughshod over those of all the other partners. Scotland is supposedly a part of a union, but that union has no constitutional measures to ensure that Scotland is represented in the highest levels of government of that union. That’s a damned peculiar union. It’s one which is indistinguishable from a unitary state. It’s one in which Scotland’s concerns are ignored, sidelined, and marginalised.

I’m sure that once I could have made a witty bon-mot about all of this, but that was back when we were living in a world you could satirise. Now we have a Home Secretary who says that she aims to make criminals feel terrified. She’s succeeded beyond her wildest expectations. This government has half the UK terrified. We have a Scotland Secretary who only got the gig because he’s a millionaire with a landed estate who has wined and dined the other rich boys and girls at the Brexity end of the Tory party. Moreover he’s heading a department whose aim is to propagandise for the UK and who says that Scotland won’t be allowed another independence referendum under any circumstances whatsoever. If that’s the case then democracy in Scotland is effectively dead.

When Boris Johnson came to power, his difficulties in Scotland were flagged up well in advance. It cannot have come as a surprise to him and his cabinet that he is personally unpopular in Scotland and his headlong drive for Brexit come what may is liable to make many in Scotland reconsider their attachment to the UK. Yet he’s pressing on regardless. He has shown not the slightest inclination to take any of Scotland’s concerns into account, not even the concerns of Scottish Conservatives. That can only mean that he believes that he can take Scotland for granted, that he thinks we’re a problem that he can contain. He’s in for a big disappointment.


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


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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.

Wee Ginger Dugcast – 2 August 2019

Welcome to the first edition of the dugcast since both Callum Baird and I got back from our respective holidays. In this edition we chat about Boris Johnson’s victory and what it means for independence, the fall from grace of Ruth Davidson, and much more besides – including an interruption from my mammy.


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


You can help to support this blog with a Paypal donation. Please log into Paypal.com and send a payment to the email address weegingerbook@yahoo.com. Or alternatively click the donate button. If you don’t have a Paypal account, just select “donate with card” after clicking the button.
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If you have trouble using the button, or you prefer not to use Paypal, you can donate or purchase a t-shirt or map by making a payment directly into my bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will send the necessary information.

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

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

Piqued Ruth

piquedruth
Well that’s me back home now. I had a lovely time with my other half although when I was away I picked up a nasty cough and sore throat from my husband’s infant niece. I fell down the stairs in my in-laws’ house and did my back in and hurt my elbow. And I managed to lose the SIM card for my mobile phone after removing it from my phone to replace it for the duration of my trip with a US pay as you go one. But no matter how crap I am currently feeling, it is as nothing compared to the ocean of Borisoid doo doo in which Ruth Davidson’s career is currently mired. I’d normally feel a modicum of sympathy for anyone facing such challenges, because my mammy brought me up to be a kind sowel, but … naaah.

Ruth Davidson was always a media construct, all smiles and photo ops riding on the back of a single policy – the refusal to countenance another independence referendum. There was never any realistic prospect of Ruth Davidson becoming the next First Minster despite the hype of her pals in the press. Ruth was only ever the latest darling of a Scottish media that’s always on the search for the next Saviour of the Union like a band of cultists expecting the Messiah. But Ruth has turned out to be a false prophet just like Kezia Dugdale and Jim Murphy and all the rest before them.

It’s easy to scoff at a politician who bases their entire appeal on a couple of cheeky photo ops and some snark on Twitter, but we live in an age of surface not substance. It was precisely Ruth’s lack of substance and her surface sheen of modernity that allowed her to appeal to people who might not otherwise have voted Conservative. Her image, young, working class, lesbian, was far removed from that of the huntin shootin and fishin landed toff Tory. She managed to position the Scottish Conservatives as the default party for that segment of the Scottish population which would never consider independence under any circumstances. She became the smiling modern face of a reactionary project.

However Ruth has been undone by her own party, who have in the shape of our new Colonial Secretary Alister Jack returned to landed toff huntin shootin and fishin form. The Conservatives’ pursuit of Brexit has opened up another fault line, a chasm into which Ruth’s electoral prospects have tumbled, most likely never to recover. Essentially Ruth Davidson was repeating the trick played by Tony Blair in the 1990s. He tacked to the centre and right because he knew that left wing voters could be taken for granted. Ruth Davidson made a pitch to the anti-independence centre because she knew that the right could be taken for granted. Brexit undid that. She now has to compete with Nigel Farage on the right. Meanwhile the centre in Scotland is overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, and so is immune to the dubious charms of a Scottish Conservative party which is defined by achieving the goal of the Brexit that Scotland has rejected.  Scotland must now choose between two unions, either the UK or the EU.  Thanks to the Tories keeping both is no longer an option. Losing on the centre, losing on the right, Ruth has nowhere to turn. Stuck in a guddle with David Mundell.

Ruth has attempted to shore up her position by supporting Brexit, contrary to her previous stance, but claims that she’ll resist a no deal Brexit. Unfortunately for her there is nothing that she can do in practical terms to resist a no deal Brexit. It’s a meaningless stance from a politician who cannot affect the outcome. The other morning, Tory MSP Adam Tomkins had a toe curling interview on BBC Radio Scotland with Gary Robertson during which he was unable to answer a simple question about what Ruth Davidson could do to prevent a no deal Brexit. Adam didn’t want to answer, because the only option that Ruth Davidson really has is to give Boris Johnson suuuuuch a look.  That’ll show him.

The uncomfortable truth which both Adam and Ruth can’t avoid is that there’s nothing that the Scottish Tories can do to prevent a no deal Brexit. The 13 useless wonders who sit as Conservative MPs for Scottish seats were not disposed to listen to Ruth when she was Ruth Davidson the winner, Ruth is full of win, Ruth the darling of a gushing media, they’re certainly not going to obey her now that she is held in similar esteem by Boris Johnson as something unpleasant on the sole of his shoe. Boris Johnson openly humiliated Ruth and destroyed her authority when he sacked David Mundell against her advice. He then signalled his contempt for the distinctiveness of the Scottish party by appointing an MP for an English seat as “Minister for the Union” in second place at the Scotland Office.

Scottish Tory MPs won’t vote against a no deal Brexit because Ruth Davidson tells them to. Indeed, some of them will actively pursue it, and having spent the last election telling one and all that those MPs were representives of the Vote Ruth Davidson for More Ruth Davidson Party, Ruth Davidson will not be able to avoid the political fall out in Scotland. The other parties will hold her accountable for the voting records of Brextremist MPs like Ross Thomson and Stephen Kerr.

If there’s an early General Election because Boris Johnson is unable to get a no deal Brexit through the Commons that election will be fought on giving Johnson a mandate to pursue the Brexit of his choosing. Ruth Davidson will then be in the untenable position of opposing the key policy of her own party. She can hardly repeat the trick she managed in 2017 of acting as though the election in Scotland is purely about heading off another independence referendum. It will be a Brexit election and Ruth’s party will be advocating a position that Scotland has rejected, led by a Prime Minister that Scotland despises and who ignores Ruth’s advice. She will no longer be able to claim that a vote for her will produce any tangible increase in Scottish influence in the corridors of power in Westminster when she can’t even influence her own MPs. She will no longer be able to claim that a vote for her increases Scotland’s strength within the Union. A vote for the Scottish Conservatives will be an endorsement of Scotland’s second rate status and place of silence on the back seat. Her discomfort will be enjoyable to watch.

The options for the Scottish Tory leader are extremely limited. Even Murdo Fraser’s proposal for a separate Scottish Conservative party to contest Scottish elections wouldn’t solve the problem – and Ruth has already ruled it out. Under that plan Scottish Tory MPs at Westminster would still take the Conservative whip and would not be directly answerable to Ruth on Brexit. There’s nothing to prevent them ignoring what their putative leaderene says on Brexit exactly as they’ve ignored her to date. Besides, setting up an independent Scottish Conservative and Unionist party would only mean that Ruth would be left with the humiliating question of why she’s asserting independence for herself, but denying the Scottish people the right to even ask themselves the question. Mind you, humiliation has never stopped the Scottish Tories before. David Mundell based a whole career on it.

The Conservative party in Westminster has given Ruth Davidson an abject lesson in Scotland’s real place in this so-called awesome foursome. Told to sit down and shut up at the back of the Boris bus. Her choices are stark. She can either sit down, shut up, and accept it and watch as the Scottish Conservatives face electoral oblivion at the next election, in which event what little credibility she still retains will disappear even quicker than Ruth herself does when faced with a difficult question, or she can resign. Scotland needs someone who can wield influence in Scotland’s favour. Ruth Davidson can’t even influence the Conservative party.

Either way Ruth Davidson’s career as Saviour of the Union is well and truly over. The Scottish press is already preparing to worship at the feet of Jo Swinson who will this time, no really, honestly, cross my heart and swear to god, turn out to be the miracle worker of East Dunbartonshire. HalleUKia, praise the flawed.


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


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.

Borismaggedon

Well I am still on holiday, and hadn’t planned to write anything, but I couldn’t let the victory of Boris Johnson pass unremarked.

And so it has come to pass. The Borismageddon is upon us. The UK is now officially the laughing stock of Europe, led by a man who vies only with Donald Trump for the lack of esteem in which he’s held in foreign capitals. Better Together promised Scotland that we’d be punching above our weight, they’ve delivered a nuclear whoopee cushion and UK is the butt of the joke. EU leaders know who Boris Johnson is, and their opinions are not flattering. They’re not going to be disposed to do any favours for the man who brought the European project down with lies about bent bananas.

Yesterday in his first rambling free form speech as Prime Minister, we saw Boris Johnson lecture the nation like a gerbil on crack. He sounded as though he was making it all up as he went along, and he probably was. Amongst the faux bumbling, the spewing out of promises that he had neither the intention nor wherewithal of keeping our new PM was true to form. He lied. He lied with no sense of shame. He lied with no self-awareness. He claimed that it was merely a “remote possibility” that the EU would not reopen negotiations on the terms of the UK’s exit. Yet he knows that it’s a “remote possibility” in the same sense that it’s a remote possibility that the sun will come up in the east tomorrow morning. It’s a remote possibility in the same sense that Facebook will collect all your personal data and claim that it’s doing you a favour. It’s a remote possibility in the same sense that the British press in Scotland will collude in allowing Ruth Davidson to hide from difficult questions.

The Brextremists can long longer blame a government of closet remainers for the failure of Brexit, so the new PM is just getting his excuses in early. When the vanity of Brexit comes crashing into reality it will be the fault of the EU. It will be the fault of MPs. It will be the fault of the SNP and the Scottish Government. What it won’t ever be is the fault of the British Empire nostalgics and fantasists who created the myth of Brexit in the first place.

It’s one thing to anticipate a Boris Johnson government, but you only really grasp the true horror once it has actually happened. We now have the most right wing government in living memory, packed full of Ayn Rand fans, Brextremists, death penalty enthusiasts, and those whose only criticism of Margaret Thatcher is that she didn’t punish the working classes harshly enough. And as if that wasn’t bad enough it is led by an empty egoist who cynically acts the clown, taking the country down a path of lies, in pursuit of a fantasy that doesn’t exist.

Yesterday we didn’t witness a cabinet reshuffle. It was the wholesale appointment of a new government by a man who has no democratic legitimacy beyond the approbation of the selectorate of the Conservative party. Boris Johnson ruthlessly axed all those who didn’t give him their full support. This is a man who believes that individuality is something that only applies to him. The role of everyone else in the universe is to bask in his self-esteem.

The new Prime Minister has signalled that he’s going to pursue the most extreme form of Brexit possible and that the concerns of remainers are of no consequence. Meanwhile Scotland doesn’t even figure in his calculations, despite all the rhetoric about the precious union and the awesome foursome. The awesome foursome sounds like the title of the worst superhero movie ever, the one in which Scotland’s superpowers are invisibility and silence. No one in Westminster can hear us scream or see us protest.

We discovered the true extent of Ruth Davidson’s influence upon the Conservative government in Westminster. It’s approximately the same as the influence of a fly to reduce the speed of a car barrelling down the motorway at 90 mph when it crashes into the windscreen and splatters itself into insignificant oblivion. Despite Ruth’s gushing recommendation, all of Fluffy’s sookery was to no avail, even though by yesterday morning he was sucking up so hard that Dyson are considering marketing him as a new model of vacuum cleaner. We discovered at the very end that Mundell was concerned to protect Scottish jobs after all. It’s just that it was only his own that he cared about. Right to the very end David Mundell did not resign. He got sacked instead.

Mundell couldn’t even manage to resign and retain a modicum of dignity, at least in his own imagination. Dignity and David Mundell are two concepts that don’t generally appear in the same sentence unless there’s a negative in there somewhere. He has become the epitome of Scottish Conservatism, supine, begging, craven, utterly bereft of anything approaching a principle, and still professing loyalty even after his British masters have kicked him in his own self-neutered crotch.

I’ll admit that I was surprised when Alister Jack was appointed as the new Scotland Secretary. Mainly because I had forgotten that he existed. Poor Ross Thomson eh, like Fluffy he discovered that all that sooking came to naught. Alister is one of the least distinguished and least notable Scottish Tory MPs, and let’s be honest here, the bar was set pretty low. He’s an empty sock with a posh education, chosen for his loyalty to the Brexit project, not for his loyalty to what’s best for Scotland. Alister will cheerfully see Scotland taken out of the EU without a deal.

The Tories are now telling us that Boris Johnson will either do or die. Malkie Rifkind appeared on Sky News last night to tell us that this new government could make a success of Brexit and then Boris Johnson will be a hero in Scotland. There’s never been a greater display of wishful thinking since Theresa May bought a pair of red shoes and clicked her heels together three times in the hope that it would deliver her to the end of the yellow brick Brexit road. Even if Boris Johnson does deliver Brexit, he’ll be delivering something that Scotland has repeatedly, insistently, consistently, stated that it does not want. You don’t become a hero by forcing an unwanted dish down an unwilling throat in the hope that it will suddenly become tasty. You become a hated abuser.

Boris Johnson will be the worst PM that the UK has ever had. He is also likely to be the last. This is how the UK ends, with bombast, in self-delusion, in confusion, strangled by the egos of posh boys. It’s not a pretty sight, but amongst the manure of the dying British state, there’s the flower of a new Scotland coming into bud.


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What the Yes movement is really anti

A guest post by Ally Farquhar

The man with the rapier-like wit, who always sees the big picture, turning political machinations as they relate to Scotland’s future into incisive language we can all understand, is taking a well-earned break with his hubby. Enjoy guys. Meanwhile the dug, we hear, is lording it up in blissful summer luxury (somebody turn him over before he gets sunburnt).

As a guest post I thought maybe perhaps it’s time, once again, following Ross Thomson’s throwaway comments last week on Politics Live about “anti-Englishness” in the Independence movement, to further address that old misconception that pops up almost on a weekly basis about the motivations and intentions of those who believe that Scotland would be best served by a government of its own people. (Indeed Paul himself, before his happy hols, has written on this very subject).

As regular readers of the weegingerdug are aware there are always a ready bunch of loud British nationalist types out there in the mainstream and social medias claiming, usually through snarling rows of condemned enamel, that the movement for independence in Scotland is just a vile cunning ‘cover’ for wanton anti-Englishness.

They are usually coming at us from the wildly contradictory let’s make Britain “global’ again, whilst isolating the UK from Europe, point of view, with chips on both ‘broad’ shoulders, choked up with the anxieties of the ghost train of a Sunday morning, following the night before, multi-layered prejudices, xenophobia and red white and blue underwear, or they are that manky guy with the megaphone and the aversion to Persil. 

They are often the kind that describe us as divisive nationalists whilst describing themselves as ‘British patriots’, They are proud Scots, but……… yet cannot see the irony of their assertions. 

As we all know, the allegation that those who believe firmly that Scotland is better governed by the people in it, and not by the British state, are anti-English, is an absolute fallacy, is clearly outrageous and couldnae be further from the truth.

Pro-Scottish yes, absolutely on the mark, striving only to live in a normal country, like most other countries of the world, a normal country which makes all the important decisions for itself, a cause which is so right and just that we crave it coming to pass.  Being in a political union where another country has the established powers to rule your own country from theirs is not normal. However, anti-English most definitely we are not. 

Our admirable host best described this delusion recently in one of his insightful posts thus “Scottish independence isn’t defined by nationalist hatred. It’s defined by escaping from it.”

How could a yearning to live in a normal country ever be construed to be about anti-Englishness? Most of us have close family and friends who are English. Many of us are English by birth. Are we planning on never ever planting an affectionate smacker on the foreheads of our grannies fae Liverpool or papa’s from Newcastle ever again? Are we banishing our wives, abandoning our children to a lifetime of Whitley Bay swirly ice-cream cones and raspberry sauce? Are we no more to look forward to sharing Christmas with our sister’s kids from Exeter? Will we shun our lifelong friend from the East End of London because he sounds like Phil Daniels?

No, this simplistic, childish and divisive spin is put on a movement which only wants Scotland to be like the rest of the world to try and show us in a false negative light to those we need to convince. 

We are not better than anyone else, we don’t see ourselves as superior, but we certainly aren’t inferior either, apart from mibbees at the fitbaw, and we are not that particularly good at quiches. 

Once we have our own front door key to our own house I’m sure our friends to the south, and their elected masters, when the dust settles in a few years-time and they eventually politically cull the more rampant of their right-wing heid-the baws, will find us the best of neighbours, naturally and voluntarily. 

Anti-English we are not. However we are most definitely anti other things, things like anti-inequality, anti-unfairness, anti-exploitation, anti-poor health and anti-poverty. 

The dreadful news that last year 1,187 Scottish deaths were drug-related is sobering. Every one of these human beings was once a new born infant untrammelled by parental hang-ups or burdens, unaffected yet by possible poverty, despair or social ills, unaware of their status in life. Fresh to the world, a life full of possibilities and potential, many were the hope for the future of parents naturally seeking only a better life for their children than they themselves had.

This stark mortality statistic highlights the level of urgency which needs to be adopted if Scotland is to take up the reins and return to controlling its own destiny. 

Let us take care of our own and not rely on the policies of another country to solve a health and social problem which they have no intention of solving. For it is their policies over the last 50 years, in a no risk country which doesn’t vote for them, and arithmetically doesn’t matter to them, a country they have used as a social experiment, without compunction, which have caused, and then exacerbated this tragedy, and many others like it in Scotland.

Here are a few other facts about life in Scotland in the 21st century in a country which has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources, innovation in technology and science, world renowned export food and drink industries, resources and expertise which are the envy of many other countries in the developed world.

An Oxfam report in early 2018 highlights that the richest 1% of the population in Scotland own more wealth than the cumulative wealth of the bottom 50%. Just think about that for a minute.

How can that possibly be true? How can it be? Other countries who discovered that they had a vast natural resource around their coastline at the same time as Scotland, some of similar size and population as Scotland, now have some of the highest living standards in the world, the best health care, citizens who live consistently to a ripe old age, with excellent standards of housing and first class public services.

In 2018 1 in 5 Scots were living in poverty of some kind. 1.03million people existing below the poverty threshold, of which 240,000 were children (a comparative figure significantly higher than most other European countries). These figures for Scotland rose by 30,000 Scots in relative poverty over the three year period to 2018.  Around 50% of people in Scotland of working age who are in severe poverty live in households where at least 1 adult is working, in low pay. 

Scotland continues to have the lowest life expectancy of the countries sheltered upon the saggy bosom that lies under the humphy-backed broad shoulders of the union. The average life expectancy of Scots in 2017 in comparison to people living in the South East of England was overall around 2 years less. However looking closer at areas where high poverty exists in Scotland statistics show that that living in some parts of Glasgow means you’ve a fair chance of dying around 8 years earlier than your southern neighbour. Ye’d better hurry finishing that crossword up. 

In 2018 the Trussell Trust recorded 210,605 referrals for three day emergency supplies to feed Scots living in poverty, many of them vulnerable, many of them families with small children. The last time I looked at these figures in 2015 there were 133, 726 referrals for three-day emergency supplies in Scotland for that year, which was a shocking enough statistic itself at the time. In 2018 this had increased by 57%. We are reaching an emergency situation here folks, and that is before Brexit kicks in, and it will. 

Just as a wee contrast though, consider this, around 432 families or corporations own 50% of Scotland’s private land  (that is a lot of land). This level of elite ownership is very different to the norm in most other European countries, Think about that. Who is actually benefitting from this precious union we keep hearing about? It’s certainly not the people of Scotland.

These, and more, are the important challenges Scotland needs to address. A burning desire to work towards fixing what ails our country is the strongest motivation most of us have for seeking an independent Scotland. Westminster needs to get out of the road and let us get on with it. 

It’s absolutely nothing remotely to do with trying to spite English people. My goodness when we get our country patched up and healed our neighbours can look north to an example of progressive social democracy that they may very well decide to follow themselves. Watch out for that one Boris & Co.

See the next time somebody tries to tell you that you must hate English people because you want your country to govern itself please make sure you put them straight, will you? 

 

Thoughts from afar

A guest post by John Fitzpatrick

I haven’t lived in Scotland for over 40 years and now wish I had never left home. I’m ashamed to say that I actually wanted to leave my own country as so many did then. We were brought up to see Scotland as a forgotten corner at the edge of nowhere that no sensible person would choose to stay in. On the other hand we could get out. Nae problem. The world was our oyster and we could go to England, Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand or Europe. I have relatives in all the above places although I ended up in Brazil.

I didn’t leave for economic reasons as so many did but because I was crazy about a lassie from Liverpool and when she headed back to England after finishing her university studies in Scotland, I followed her. I spent eight years in England – Yorkshire/Derbyshire and then East Anglia – and enjoyed them. However, I was always aware that most English people did not really know much about Scotland. Although we were seen as a bit different, at the end of the day we were loyal Jocks. People like Billy Connolly, Ronnie Corbett, Alex Ferguson, Kenny Dalglish amused and reassured them just as the loyal Sikhs did during the Indian Mutiny.

I had always been in favour of independence but my background in Glasgow was socialist so I would not have voted for the SNP – the “Tartan Tories” as my father, who was a shop steward and a staunch Labour man, called them. It was only when I went to Dundee to work as a journalist that I met SNP supporters. They were different. First of all, they did not care what my religion was or whether I supported Celtic and Rangers and they were not particularly left-wing. Most were lower middle class from farming or self-employed backgrounds, people you would think as natural Tories but they were not. They were actually more patriotic than those misguided Scottish Labour stalwarts who supported the underdogs everywhere except in their own country.

I started to see Scotland differently. I realized that Glasgow might have been the biggest city but it did not represent Scotland. What a shock that was. Later I ended up in posh Edinburgh and found a different kind of Scot with a different view of how our country should be run. Then I ended up in Fife – one of the few places in the UK ever to have elected a Communist MP. I visited the Borders and found a people who, like those other stubborn folk in Orkney and Shetland, refused to fit into an ideological box and voted as they felt. I started to see my homeland as being a bit like Afghanistan where there are different ethnic groups and tribes – Pathans, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazara, Turkmen – but they feel allegiance to their country rather than their ethnic origin.

I realized we were separated by regional differences but so is virtually every country in the world. What I could not understand was why we Scots were so divided and why we could not agree that we should come together and decide on our future, regardless of out regions, class or religions. For example, Portugal and Spain have a lot in common and were even united for about 60 years but the Portuguese were never prepared to be ruled or patronized by the Spaniards. You will never meet a Portuguese who would agree to be ruled by Spain no matter how much he or she might complain about conditions. Belgium is regarded as an artificial country made up of Flemish and French speakers but, despite these differences, I have never heard of a Flemish speaker who wants Belgium to join the Netherlands or a French speaker who wants to join France. I lived in Switzerland for over a decade and never met a German, French or Italian-speaking Swiss who wanted to join Germany, France or Italy.

We, on the other hand, have a large number of people who think we are incapable of running our own country. They feel we need a neighbouring country to take care of us. I don’t like to use the word “brainwashed” but that is what has created this mentality.

We have political parties that spend their time telling us we cannot rule ourselves. Somehow or other Scottish people, who have a pretty good track record when it comes to inventing things like the telephone and the television or penicillin and radar etc. (need I go on?) cannot run their own affairs. We are the only people in the world who are incapable of doing things our way.

These people forget that Scotland as a nation was around a lot longer than as an enforced partner of the UK. Scotland is one of Europe’s longest established countries. However, it was obliterated after the 1707 Act of Union. Although we were allowed to keep our church, legal system and education system, none of these institutions has genuinely stood up for Scotland. The Church of Scotland became the voice of the Establishment and has never rocked the boat on behalf of the Scottish people. The legal system maintains some differences but Westminster can impose any law it likes on us or amend any existing Scottish law. The education system, which we used to boast about, has probably been the biggest failure.

Outside the home, I learned about Scotland’s history when I was at primary school, thanks to patriotic teachers who told us about our heroes and taught us songs and poems. When I was at secondary school in the 1960s the history textbooks literally did not mention Scotland. Plenty on the Corn Laws, Industrial Revolution, Clive of India and Gladstone´s attempts at Irish Self Rule but nothing, absolutely nothing, about the Act of Union, Jacobite Rebellions and Scotland’s part in the British Empire.

When television arrived we were exposed to the BBC from London and then STV with grainy football coverage and the White Heather Club. We were expected to see everything presented from an English point of view, accept English accents, recognize English references and just coorie doon and forget that we had a voice and a view of our own. OK we could occasionally talk about Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora MacDonald but it was as real as the comics we read – I remember Red Rory about a red-haired Highland lad who was held in the air by two eagles and swooped down on the redcoats and gave them a biffing. We saw films like Whisky Galore that presented us as a bunch of lovable rogues ready to outwit the Inland Revenue but never capable of following our ancestors and standing up and fighting against an oppressive power.

Well that’s all changed now and independence is now the main item on the political agenda. Thank goodness there is an up-and-coming generation that is prepared to see things differently from my generation and those that went before us.

Surely the time has come to throw off our humble, embarrassing past and the shackles that tie us to a system that not only does not represent us but despises us and takes us for granted. It’s time we Scots, all of us, regardless of our personal political views, reassert our rights and re-establish ourselves as a sovereign state.

Wee Ginger holidays

I’m off on holiday for a couple of weeks, to spend some time with my husband. I’m back on 31 July. Unfortunately Sam Miller (Macart) isn’t able to look after the blog in my absence this time, so neither he nor myself will be doing be any updates to the blog until I get home.

The dug has already started his holidays. He’s staying with Ray and Sandra (of Indypram fame) while I am away. Many thanks to Ray and Sandra for looking after him. He always gets spoiled when he’s there. When I got up to go after dropping him off, he was lying in the back garden sunning himself.

I should have intermittent internet access while I am away, so if you fancy writing a guest post, please send it to me at weegingerbook@yahoo.com and I will try to get it online – although I can’t make any promises!  I won’t be checking my emails every day, so please be patient.

Please also note that I won’t be checking every day for new comments that need to be authorised, so if your comment doesn’t show up immediately you may find that your comment takes a couple of days to appear. That doesn’t mean it’s been censored, it just means I haven’t checked the comments queue. Cos you know, I’m on holiday.

See yese aw when I get hame!


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